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Opinion

The surveillance state has arrived, but does anyone care? The National Security Agency (and others) has its sensors on virtually all phone and internet transmissions made in this country as well as conducting extensive surveillance abroad. Many rationalize it as something they deserve, like someone trapped in an abusive relationship do. “Maybe it's not that great, but I'm kept safe.”

Back in March, NSA Director James Clapper was asked (under oath) during a Senate hearing whether or not millions of Americans were having any kind of data collected on them. He answered no. After whistle blower Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA were published, Clapper “revised” his answer without admitting to lying. He made a bizarre claim that he had given the “least untruthful" answer possible. Congress could save time by skipping oaths since perjury does not exist as a crime for certain people and agencies, especially for those who specialize in deception.

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“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives. Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms.”

—Jessica Bennett, “The Pornification of a Generation”

There’s a strange irony to the fact that on the same week of the 93rd anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a milestone achievement for the women’s suffrage movement which resulted in women finally being able to vote, the headlines are dominated by the antics of pop star Miley Cyrus, who used this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) as a forum for twerking, gyrating, stripping and other sexually defiant acts. Curiously enough, apart from concerns about Cyrus’ questionable taste in dance moves, no one else seems to find this convergence the least bit jarring or incongruent.

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Protecting military families in tax reform

We have asked so much of our military servicemen and women, and they have bravely delivered after a decade of two wars. They take on the ultimate responsibility of protecting our nation, but they don’t do it alone. Family members of America’s military personnel are too often the unsung heroes of war, and they make their own unique sacrifices every day – enduring months apart from their deployed loved ones, establishing lives in new places when their spouse or parent is reassigned and dealing with the physical and emotional injuries caused by war. Yet too many military families struggle to make ends meet, especially veterans after military service.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee and a Senator from North Carolina, the most military friendly state in the nation, I am committed to honoring the service and sacrifice of not just our active duty soldiers and veterans, but the sacrifices of their families as well.

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Legislative leaders and the folks at the think tanks on the Right are getting very nervous these days as the truth about the education budget passed by the General Assembly this year is spreading across North Carolina.

And it’s not just folks generally opposed to the agenda of the Republican majorities who are upset about the cuts to classrooms and the slaps at teachers from state lawmakers this session.

Many Republican voters are angry too, every time they read that thousands of teacher assistants are being fired and that hundreds more will spend fewer hours this year helping second graders read or understand a math problem.

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