Bigger Government Means More Corruption

July 1, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

This brings to mind a quote from Tacitus: ” The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the State.”

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve posted more than 3,500 items since I started International Liberty. And if you look at the earliest posts, way back in April of 2009, you’ll find that one of the very first of them made the link between big government and big corruption.

My premise was very simple. When government is very large, with all sorts of power to provide unearned wealth via taxes, spending, and regulation, then you will get more sleaze.

Sort of like the way a full dumpster will attract lots of rats and roaches.

A story in Fortune reports that government corruption at the state level is very costly.

…corruption is everywhere, in one form or another. And it’s costing U.S. citizens big time. A new study from researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University estimates that corruption on the state level is costing Americans in the 10 most corrupt states…

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‘Climate Reparations’ an idea that seems to be all about money

June 26, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Why not? Merging the “global warming” fraud with the reparations scam.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Climate Reparations—A New Demand

Guest opinion by Peter Wood

At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009, leaders from more than a hundred nations gathered to consider an agenda that included a massive transfer of money from developed countries to the Third World.  The developed states were tagged to provide $130 billion by 2020 to help developing nations deal with the consequences of global warming.  The proposed transfer was widely discussed as “reparations” for the damage caused by use of fossil fuels in the developed world.

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Really? Lois Lerner thought of investigating Senator Grassley (R-IA)??

June 25, 2014
No way!!

No way!!

Real smart. Let a United States Senator find out you were planning a fishing expedition into his finances? Try it, and just see how fast the hammer gets dropped on you once he’s in the majority, again:

New emails reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in the IRS targeting investigation revealed something that might knock the probe up another notch: IRS manager Lois Lerner allegedly sought to have the circumstances surrounding a speaking invitation to Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, referred for IRS examination.

“We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking,” said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) in a written press release.

According to the Ways and Means Committee, and the email chain released today, Lerner and Sen. Grassley were invited to speak at the same event in Dec. of 2012, but their invitations got mixed up. When Lerner received Grassley’s invitation, she suggested to others in her office that the invitation should be referred for examination.

“Looks like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife,” Lerner said. “Perhaps we should refer to Exam?”

Lerner’s idea was dropped after another employee politely said (I’m paraphrasing) “Are you nuts??” Still this is another example of the arrogance that infects the bureaucracy, much of which seems to have forgotten who employs whom around here.

BTW, Grassley sits on the Finance, Budget, and Joint Taxation committees, all of which have jurisdiction over the IRS. He had no comment about this story, but I’m sure he will have plenty to say in early 2015.

RELATED: My blog-buddy is already on the case.


Paul Ryan to #IRS commissioner: “No one trusts you.”

June 20, 2014
"Liar"

“Liar”

Well, gee after over a year of revelations about government harassment of conservative groups applying for non-profit status, and after recent claims that convenient computer crashes wiped out emails demanded by investigating congressional committees, what reasonable person wouldn’t trust the IRS?

Paul Ryan, for one, when questioning IRS Commissioner Koskinen:

“This is unbelievable,” said Ryan, a Republican, at a Friday hearing. “The apology that ought to be given is to the American taxpayer, not to a government agency that is abusing its power. I am sitting here listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it. That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”

“You are the Internal Revenue Service,” Ryan added. “You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited and you can’t keep six months worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails, hard drives crashed. You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”

Clearly, Congressman Ryan’s lack of faith in the bureaucracy’s honesty is rooted in anti-Obama racism. (1)

Once again, we’re left with a choice when it comes to an Obama administration scandal: either the IRS is massively incompetent and is unintentionally violating federal records retention laws, in spite of getting all the money and IT help it wants, or a bunch of people are lying through their teeth and deliberately violating those same laws (as well as others).

I’m usually willing to blame stupidity before malice, but the IRS and the Obama White House are making that awfully hard.

RELATED: An interesting reminder from Ed Morrissey — as part of a larger article on abuse of power and the missing emails, he mentions an odd meeting between the IRS Chief Counsel, William Wilkins, and President Obama, himself, just days before Wilkins sent Lerner new guidelines for dealing with Tea Party applicants for 501(c) status:

There are are numerous differences between [Watergate and the IRS] scandals, too. For one thing, no one has tied this to the White House or any of President Barack Obama’s advisers. The closest insinuation between the IRS targeting scandal has been an unusual meeting between the IRS’ chief counsel, William Wilkins, and Obama on April 23, 2012. The chief counsel for the IRS would have no discernible reason for a private meeting with the president; his job would be to brief the IRS commissioner – at the time Douglas Shulman – who met with Obama the very next day.

The day after that, Wilkins sent a revised set of guidelines to Lois Lerner for the tax-exempt unit to use when applying extra scrutiny. To this day, no explanation for this meeting has been made public, even though records show that Wilkins spent hours at the White House with “POTUS” as his host.

Nor was this the first time that Wilkins appears in the targeting narrative. Carter Hull, a retired high-ranking IRS official with 48 years’ experience at the agency, testified that after he approved a Tea Party-related tax-exempt application, it got routed to Wilkins rather than finalized.

I noted this and another curious meeting with the head of the anti-Tea Party Treasury employees union last July. I’d suggest both these are potentially fruitful avenues of investigation for a House select committee.

Footnote:
(1) You just know some MSNBC talking head is dying to say just that.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bookshelf update — Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department

June 17, 2014

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”

book cover obamas enforcer fund spakovsky

 

I’m only a couple of chapters into it, but it looks to be a good discussion of Holder’s abuse of power and dereliction of the duties of his office, much of it rooted in his radical racialism. And the authors, John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky, are top-notch. The book is available in both Kindle(1) and hardback formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.


Another ‘Climate McCarthyism bombshell’, leaked memo shows concern within ranks on ‘professional ethics’ of climate science

May 17, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

If you ever wanted evidence of “noble cause corruption” in the climate science “community,” this memo from dissenting German meteorologists should suffice.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

DMG_memo_2 Leaked Memo On Climatology Exposes Growing Worry Within German Meteorological Society…

”Unacceptable Unethical Developments”

A reader/professor has sent me an internal memo he recently obtained from a meteorologist and member of the Deutsche Meteorologische Gesellschaft [German Meteorological Society], abbreviated as DMG. Clearly grave concern is emerging over a large swath of the broader German meteorological-climatological community in the wake of the Lennart Bengtsson witchhunt.

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#Benghazi: Proof of what we knew — the White House is full of lying suckweasels

April 30, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

So, more than 19 months after four Americans –including our ambassador– died at the hands of al Qaeda allies in an attack on our consulate in Benghazi, part of the truth finally comes out: the White House political operation used the story of  a video to protect President Obama reelection, sacrificing the truth, our national security interests, and any shred of decency owed the victims’ surviving families on the altar of his political needs.

Independent reporter Sharyl Attkisson has the story:

Newly-released documents reveal direct White House involvement in steering the public narrative about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, toward that of a spontaneous protest that never happened.

One of the operative documents, which the government had withheld from Congress and reporters for a year and a half, is an internal September 14, 2012 email to White House press officials from Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Assistant and Deputy National Security Advisor. (Disclosure: Ben Rhodes is the brother of David Rhodes, the President of CBS News, where I was employed until March.)

In the email, Ben Rhodes lists as a “goal” the White House desire “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

The email is entitled, “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET” and refers to White House involvement in preparing then-U.S.Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her upcoming appearance on Sunday television network political talk shows.

The Rhodes email states that another “goal” is “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Via Twitchy. There’s much more, so read it all.

Remember, Obama had been claiming for months that al Qaeda was “on the run,” nearly beaten. It was one of his justifications for reelection: he had crushed our mortal enemy. Then they attacked our consulate and killed our personnel, and suddenly the whole narrative was about to fall like the house of cards it was.

This wasn’t a meeting of a group meant to deal with a foreign policy crisis. No, Rhodes was heading up a political damage control team. That’s where the priority was. Not in determining how this happened, not in pursuing our enemies, and certainly not in our Head of State and Commander in Chief taking responsibility, because that might have meant handing a cudgel to the Republicans. Jim Geraghty weighs in (emphasis added):

Yes, Rhodes’s speechwriting always focused in the foreign-policy realm. He was a longtime assistant to Lee Hamilton, then joined Obama as a speechwriter in 2007. But this guy’s not an expert on Libya. There’s no way he was in any position, from Washington, to overrule the assessment of the folks on the ground. He’s a message guy. And he quickly concluded – accurately – that the administration’s obvious ill-prepared presence in Libya, and failure to organize timely rescue efforts, on the 9/11 anniversary represented a serious threat to the president’s reelection. They needed a scapegoat; the video was the best option at hand.

That included, by the way, trampling the First Amendment rights of the video maker, who was hauled off in the middle of the night and pilloried in the press to play that scapegoat.

And before anyone says things were still unclear and they really thought the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the video, check the dates. Rhodes’ email was dated the 14th; the attack happened on the 11th. By the night of the attack, within hours, they knew that it was a terrorist strike, not an out of control riot against a video:

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.

Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing — in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing — occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.

According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham — who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 — said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.

As I wrote at the time:

But now we have the testimony of the general in charge of the combat command responsible for Benghazi that he, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarded this as a terrorist attack — within minutes of the attack beginning! Panetta and Dempsey then went to a previously scheduled meeting with Obama at which, we’re supposed to believe, they didn’t give their boss their considered opinion? They just let him believe the massacre happened because of some video few ever saw? That they let him and his advisers go on for weeks like this, when they knew the truth?

Garbage. It is inconceivable that Obama did not know that night that our consulate had come under terrorist attack. 

And that was three days before Rhodes’ email, which can only mean this was a deliberate attempt to lie to the American people in order to save Obama’s (and Hillary’s) craven political rear ends.

No wonder they tried to keep this email secret.

RELATED: At PJM, Roger Simon says this is “worse than Watergate” and calls for impeachment.

PS: And this only answers one major question about the Benghazi massacre. Still left begging is the question of just where Obama was that night and what was his role, if he even had one. The question of Hillary’s accountability for her incompetence leading up to the disaster is a whole other matter.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Financial Bureaucrats on Easy Street, with Consumers and Taxpayers Paying the Bill

April 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Guess who’s getting rich on Wall St.: federal regulators.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve complained many times about government intervention in the financial sector.

The financial and housing crisis, for instance, was largely a consequence of the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy, combined with the system of corrupt subsidies put in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But there’s another government-imposed cost that burdens the financial sector.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Paul Kupiec of the American Enterprise Institute reveals some very sobering – and disturbing – data on pay levels for both the financial industry and its regulators.

Most banks in this country are small businesses and pay employees modest salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary of a bank employee was $49,540 in 2012, not much higher than the average annual across all occupations, $45,790.

In other words, there are some very well paid people working for big banks, but most employees in…

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Telling ‘Noble Cause Lies’ About Climate Change Will Backfire

April 19, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The arrogance of the Warmists leads them to lie “for the greater good.” Trouble is, for them and their cause, Nature is not cooperating and people are seeing through the lies.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

truth-and-lies[1]Guest essay by Tom Harris ,
International Climate Science Coalition

Over the past twenty years, we’ve been subjected to a barrage of catastrophic climate change forecasts and prophecies that would put Moses to shame. Coastal communities will be submerged due to rapid sea-level rise caused by soaring temperatures and glacier melt. Record heat waves, droughts, floods, insect infestations, and wildfires will result in millions of climate change refugees fleeing their ruined homelands. Competition over increasingly scarce water resources will lead to armed conflict. About all that has been missing from these doom and gloom predictions is alien invasion.

Like Moses’ warnings to Pharaoh in the Bible, we are told there is a high price to pay if we are to avoid climate change-driven “death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods,” to quote from the March 31 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We must reduce our carbon…

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#Obamacare navigators helping people sign up at Mexican consulates

March 27, 2014
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

Nah, there’s no potential for fraud, here:

The Obama administration has been helping to facilitate a series of events nationwide at Mexican Consulate offices to enroll people in Obamacare – and a key activist says the efforts are “our responsibility” regardless of citizenship.

“Whether they’re Mexican nationals or whether they’re United States citizens or whether they’re in transition– and if they’re there it is our responsibility within all of America to educate on the Affordable Care Act,” Enroll America Field Organizer Jose Medrano told Breitbart News on Wednesday.

Health Care insurance navigator groups hosted an Obamacare enrollment fair on Tuesday in the Mexican Consulate’s Brownsville office, The Rio Grande Guardian reported last Friday, where Mexican nationals among others were counseled about enrolling in the ACA.

“The Mexican consulate is a very reliable source of information to the Latino community. And therefore when they host their events, yesterday being the health fair, there are several hundred people that show up,” Medrano said.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), undocumented immigrants aren’t supposed to be receiving government-run health benefits or subsidized coverage. However, President Barack Obama told Latinos in early March that the Healthcare.gov website would not be used to find out about an individual’s immigration status.

“None of the information that is provided in order for you to obtain health insurance is in any way transferred to immigration services,” he said.

As the article points out, this isn’t the first time the administration has made use of Mexican consulates to push entitlement programs to Latino communities: in 2012, USDA ran Spanish-language commercials encouraging people to sign up for food stamps.

Back to Obamacare, the extensive use of Mexican consulates, which are a trusted source of information for Mexican communities in the US, and the promise to not forward an applicant’s information to ICE all but guarantees that the American taxpayer will wind up subsidizing health insurance for Mexican nationals who are in the US illegally.

And if some sort of amnesty goes through, guess which party expects (1) to reap the benefits of our state-mandated generosity?

Why, it’s almost as if that’s the plan.

via Fausta

Footnote:
(1) Then again, with all the screw ups and problems experienced with O-care to date, maybe the Democrats’ shouldn’t expect much gratitude.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#CApolitics: Third state senator (D) arrested on corruption charges

March 26, 2014
Not smiling now, I bet.

Not smiling now, I bet.

Earth-shaking news in California politics broke this morning with word of the arrest of State Senator Leland Yee (D, SD-8) on charges of public corruption, including soliciting donations beyond the allowed limits in return for legislative services and –ahem!– firearms trafficking. You can read the indictment (PDF) via the NBC BayArea site (1). From their article on the arrest:

California state Sen. Leland Yee was arrested on public corruption charges as part of several arrests made by the FBI Wednesday morning during a massive FBI sting, the FBI told NBC Bay Area.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California said that Yee and current Chee Kung Tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow were among 26 defendants charged in a federal criminal complaint.

Yee and Chow were arraigned before Federal Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins in San Francisco this afternoon.

The federal criminal complaint, filed on March 24, was unsealed in San Francisco Wednesday, charging the defendants with firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes and honest services fraud, announced Haagm FBI special agent David Johnson and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

Yee was charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, and to illegally import firearms as well as a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services.

Chow’s charges include money laundering and conspiracy to trafficking contraband cigarettes.

From what I gather from skimming the indictment, Yee stands accused of soliciting bribes both to retire his debt from his failed mayoral run in San Francisco and to fund his current campaign for Secretary of State. He is also accused of offering to facilitate an arms deal through New Jersey between a dealer Yee knew and “UCE 4599,” an unidentified FBI undercover agent… in return for a “donation.”

The connection between Senator Yee and “Shrimp Boy” Chow seems to be Keith Jackson, a well-known Bay Area political consultant and associate of Yee. Chow, who has a long record and has been under investigation for years, introduced UCE 4599 to Jackson, who then apparently started supplying weapons for UCE 4599′s “associates” to guard their (imaginary) marijuana farms in Northern California. Jackson and others also apparently ran their own drug ring and even attempted to solicit murder-for-hire. Jackson was also Yee’s money-maker for the illegal donations.

There is no accusation that Senator Yee had anything to do with drugs or murder-for-hire, but, still, he sure keeps nice company.

Aside from the organized crime drama and political corruption, this has serious implications for the Democrats in California. Yee is the third state senator (2), all Democrats, to be indicted or convicted in the last several months. Senator Roderick Wright was convicted of felony voter fraud in January, while Senator Ron Calderon was indicted for corruption in February.

Since the 2012 election, Democrats have held a supermajority in the California legislature, controlling both chambers with two-thirds majorities. Under the state constitution, that gave them the power to do pretty much whatever they wanted: pass irresponsible budgets, fund wasteful programs to their heart’s content, you name it. The Republicans were bystanders, and it didn’t look like they’d have any power any time soon.

Then the majority started crumbling in the state senate. First came Andy Vidak’s (R-SD26) surprise victory in a 2013 special election, then the conviction of Wright and the indictment of Calderon. That last broke the supermajority in the senate, and now Yee’s troubles (3) deepens the hole they’re in. Now, at least, the Democrats have to actually deal with the Republican senate caucus, if they want to get anything done. This means Proposition 13, the measure that protects homeowners from exorbitant property taxes and mandates a 2/3rds majority to raise taxes, making it a prime Democrat target, is safe for a while. The Democrats are likely to regain those seats, given the districts, but a smart Republican or independent candidate might make some populist hay running on a clean government platform. We’ll see.

From a larger view, this is what happens in a state when a party overwhelmingly dominates for too long: without credible opposition, legislators and other government officials come to feel entitled, become complacent, and think of themselves as rulers, not employees subject to the audit of the people. Corruption sets in. California has long been dominated by the Democrats (in the legislature, for decades), but a conservative friend in a long-time Red state has voiced similar complaints. It shows the problems that can set in when a strong two-party system withers to one.

One hopes that revelations such as Senator Yee’s purported activities will lead to soul-searching among the Democrats (4) and the rise of good conservative candidates in more areas to help redress the balance.

For the sake of California’s political health, we need both.

RELATED: More from the San Jose Mercury News.

PS: Did you know Yee once sponsored a measure to require state buildings to be designed according to Chinese Feng Shui principles? There’s a reason we’re called “Crazyfornia.”

Footnotes:
(1) And kudos to them for linking to a primary source. Too few online MSM outlets do that.
(2) But not the last, I bet.
(3) Because Senate President Steinberg (D) is desperate to keep those seats in Democrat hands, rather than risk a special election, Wright and Calderon have been allowed to go on “paid leave,” rather than being expelled. Yes, they still draw a salary, but at least they can’t vote. I’m sure Yee will be shown the same “courtesy.”
(4) Oh, stop laughing. It could happen. Maybe.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Australian National University: Forget the Climate Facts, We need Opinions

March 15, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Because it’s for a good (imaginary) cause, you know, therefore anything is justified. Bob Carter calls this “noble cause corruption,” and here we see another example.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Another case of “The ends justify the means”

Submitted by Eric Worrall

Rod Lamberts, director of the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University, claims facts  won’t win the climate debate.

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#Obamacare Chronicles: yet more flaming wrecks

February 26, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Jim Geraghty brings us more debris samples from the flaming wreckage that is Obamacare. You can read them for yourself, but here’s one of the best:

But perhaps Maryland’s mess looks good compared to Oregon, where the accusations of lying are piling up:

Carolyn Lawson, the IT expert who tried and failed to build Oregon’s online insurance exchange, complained to an Oregon Health Authority official that she was forced to leave under false pretenses in an email uncovered by the On Your Side Investigators.

Lawson emailed OHA chief operating officer Suzanne Hoffman in January to complain that a reporter had been given her personal cell phone number, and asked that the state “allow me to move on with privacy and grace,” after one of the worst health-care-exchange website launches in the nation left her career in tatters.

“I have done everything I have been asked to do,” Lawson wrote. “I stuck to the talking points even though I protested . . . that they were not accurate. I walked away quietly when asked to resign. I wrote the resignation letter per the script I was given.”



KATU Investigators recently uncovered major accountability issues on Lawson’s watch, and former Republican state representative Patrick Sheehan told KATU earlier this month that he’d gone to the FBI with allegations Cover Oregon project managers initiated the design of dummy web pages to convince the federal government the project was further along than it actually was.

Why do I have a feeling this one is going to end up in court, with Lawson (and probably several others) pleading to turn state’s evidence in return for a deal? Is it perhaps because a bill passed in a corrupt (1) manner can only leave corruption in its wake?

Excellent job, Democrats! You’ve earned every bit of what the public is going to give you in November.

Footnote:
(1) Ethically, if not legally.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Foreign Service officers revolt against lousy Obama appointees

February 14, 2014
Qualifications

Qualifications

In the Catholic Church, the sin was called “simony,” the buying and selling of sacred offices, such as bishoprics. The practice was one of the abuses that lead to the Reformation. Now Foreign Service officers are rising against a secular simony, the Obama administration’s appointment of unqualified ambassadors who also happen to be big campaign donors:

After a string of rocky confirmation hearings for President Obama’s diplomatic nominees, the group representing America’s Foreign Service professionals signaled Friday that it’s had enough.

The organization, in a major rebuke, is now urging that the White House set minimum qualification standards for its ambassadorial nominees.

“The topic of the qualifications of ambassadorial nominees is of great interest to AFSA’s membership,” The American Foreign Service Association said in a statement. “All Americans have a vested interest in ensuring that we have the most effective leaders and managers of U.S. embassies and missions advancing U.S. interests around the globe.”

The American Foreign Service Association has long argued that ambassadorial nominees should, for the most part, come from the ranks of career professionals — as opposed to the ranks of top-dollar political donors. But the organization is taking its concerns to a new level, announcing Friday that it will propose new guidelines for “the necessary qualifications and qualities” for diplomatic candidates.

The statement said the group has been “closely monitoring” recent confirmation hearings.

AFSA has good reason to be upset. Administrations have typically operated under a 70-30 rule, under which political appointees (as opposed to professionals) were kept to around thirty percent of the available posts. Some went a little higher, others a little lower. The Obama administration, on the other hand, has broken all records: per AFSA, fully 53% of all appointees have been political, the trend rocketing during the second term.

If they were qualified, the practice would contemptible and venal, but tolerable. But many of these appointees are spectacularly unqualified:

  • Senator Max Baucus, appointed to represent us in China, admitted he was “no real expert” on China. This is the same China that holds most of our debt and is a growing military rival in the Pacific. The only reason Team Smart Power yanked him out of the Senate (from which he was retiring) was to try to save the seat for the Democrats in the coming midterms.
  • Hotelier and mega-bundler George Tsunis was so ignorant of of Norway, to which he had been appointed, that he managed to offend the Norwegian government at his confirmation hearing.
  • Noah Mamet, another bundler, admitted under questioning that he’s never been to Argentina, one of the most important countries in South America and which appears to be heading into a crisis. Maybe they should have asked if he could find it on a map.
  • And Colleen Bell, an Obama bundler and soap opera producer appointed to be our ambassador to Hungary, a nation whose democratic institutions are under attack by rising fascism, couldn’t describe our strategic interests in this NATO ally. Senator McCain utterly humiliated her in her hearing.

AFSA, which is not a union per se and has traditionally kept a low profile, is making the unprecedented demand that ambassadorial appointments meet some minimum qualifications. One would think this would already be true, but not apparently in Chicago-on-the-Potomac.

What’s next? Appointing Obama’s favorite horse?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: Jerry Brown’s high-speed payoff? #HSR

January 30, 2014
Boondoggle

Uncle Jerry’s High-Speed Boondoggle

Oh, no. This doesn’t look bad at all. First the Tutor-Perini (1) construction company, whom we’ve met before, wins a huge contract to build California’s high-speed rail, even though their record is… not the best. Then, after two defeats in state courts that put the whole project in jeopardy, Brown demands the state supreme court take the cases and overturn them — NOW!!! (2)

And what came between the lower courts’ decisions and Brown’s running to the supreme court? Why, a maximum contribution to Brown’s reelection campaign.

From Tutor-Perini:

The timing of the campaign contribution doesn’t sit well with the state Legislature’s leading critic of the $68 billion high-speed rail project.

“Let’s connect the dots,” said Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who has introduced a package of legislation “aimed at driving a stake through the heart” of the state’s bullet train. “The HSR Authority’s apparent bid-rigging lands this company a $1 billion contract, then this company gives Brown a max campaign contribution, and then Brown sues to bail the company out?”

“In farm country, this is called ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,’” Vidak said.

If Michelle Malkin ever writes a second edition of “Culture of Corruption,” I have a suggested new chapter for her, titled “California’s High-Speed Rip-Off.”

PS: Yeah, I tweeted this article a few minutes ago, but it has me so ticked off, I had to write about it. Garbage like this is one of the poisoned fruits of decades of one-party rule.

Footnote:
(1) The principal owner of which is Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, let us not forget. Apparently not true any longer, Blume having divested himself of Tutor-Perini stock around October, 2005. (h/t Brock Winstead)
(2) Where he was rebuffed, I’m happy to say. Even the governor doesn’t get to jump the line.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


On birthday parties, income inequality, and big government

January 20, 2014
"By invitation, only."

“By invitation, only.”

So, in all the excitement of the NFL’s “championship weekend” the featured the 49ers thrilling come-from-ahead loss in Seattle (1), I forgot it was Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday. You can bet she didn’t forget, though, enjoying a lavish party attended by 500 celebrities and political stars. An intimate soirée, in other words.

Like Byron York, I’ve no need to know the details, assuming the party was paid for with private money, but the intense secrecy surrounding it is intriguing:

It’s not easy to enforce discipline on successful, wealthy, and famous people used to having their own way. But the White House apparently did not want to see photos of the first lady’s glittery gala circulating around the Internet. So it imposed a strict rule: No cellphones. “Guests were told not to bring cellphones with them, and there was a cellphone check-in area for those who did,” reported the Chicago Tribune. “Signs at the party told guests: No cellphones, no social media.” People magazine added: “Guests had been greeted by a ‘cell phone check’ table where they deposited their camera phones on arrival and it was understood that this was not an occasion for Tweeting party photos or Facebooking details.” The publications cited sources who insisted on anonymity for fear of White House reprisal.

“So great was the secrecy surrounding the party,” the Tribune reported, “that guests were handed an invitation — on their way out, the sources said.”

Kind of amusing for the Most Transparent Administration in History, no?

York speculates on the reasons for the secrecy, including the aforementioned privacy. But, he also touches on another, one that I think is at least equally valid – political messaging:

Or maybe, since the president has announced he is devoting the rest of his time in office to an “inequality agenda,” the White House felt photos of a champagne-soaked, star-studded party would be somewhat off-message.

I’m willing to bet this is it. The Left is singing like a chorus about income inequality and the widening gap, hoping to distract us all from the rolling disaster of Obamacare, and Michelle’s big blow-out would sound a loud discordant note, if it had gotten out on the Internet.

The truth the Ancien Régime misses while enjoying their luxurious parties at Versailles-on-the-Potomac, however, is that their parties are not the problem. No one really cares whether Michelle invites five, fifty, or five-thousand guests. No one cares (other than as an object of mockery) how many snobby dinner parties Anna Wintour throws for her glitterati friends.

The real problem, according to David Malpass in the Wall St. Journal, is that the Left’s preferred big-government, class warfare policies make the dread inequality worse more often than not:

Big government expansions in recent years have harmed individuals with modest incomes while exempting or benefiting people with higher incomes. These include the federal takeover of the mortgage industry, and the Federal Reserve’s decisions to keep interest rates near zero and buy some $3 trillion in bonds. Both of these expansions channel credit to the government and the well-connected at the expense of savers and new businesses.

Middle-income earners used to be the primary beneficiary of the rise in the value of their houses. Housing gains now lift Washington, allowing the government to pay itself huge “dividends” from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Reserve, which owns nearly $1.5 trillion in the government’s housing-related bonds. The government promptly spends the windfalls, fueling a further accumulation of wealth and income for those with Washington access.

The financial industry is making billions in profits fueled by the government’s provision of zero-rate loans for those with connections and collateral. Wall Street’s upper crust is the epicenter for financing the contractors, lobbyists and lawyers that help the government spend money. Meanwhile, government grabs a huge share of the profits generated by small businesses. It piles on opaque regulations, complex tax rules and countless independent agencies, producing a system that works against small businesses and the middle class. The Affordable Care Act takes pains to exempt Congress, government, corporations and unions, but leaves the rest severely exposed, adding to inequality.

This week’s congressional budget deal saw a narrow group of Washington’s elite legislators and lobbyists working over the weekend to divvy up nearly $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending for 2014. Much of the spending and all of the lobbying and debt underwriting costs will benefit those with high incomes while the extra debt falls heavily on the middle class.

Thus while Our Betters in D.C. and Manhattan and Hollywood graciously deign to run our lives for us (when they’re not attending a fancy-dress ball or jetting off to another exclusive resort), the burdens they impose on our lives really just enrich their friends at our expense and leave us holding the bag.

There’s a genuine opening or moment for a populist revolt coming. Not the Left-wing, class warfare kind the progressives like to sucker us with (and for which far too many fall), but a Jacksonian, democratizing electoral uprising against governing elites represented largely, but not exclusively, by today’s Democratic Party. A rising that would restore opportunity for us all, not trap us like Europe in social democratic amber.

We saw the first wave of this with the Tea Party rising of 2010, and Obamacare creates the conditions for another. The question is, will the Republican Party have the sense and the skill to take advantage of it?

We’ll see.

Footnote:
(1) Okay, I’m done pouting. Really. Just wait’ll next year…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Scientific journal shut down for questioning man-caused global warming. Updated

January 18, 2014
"Burn, heretics!"

“In the name of Gaea, burn, heretics!”

This isn’t science; this is the return of Lysenkoism, where all research must conform to the Party line.

Background: The journal Pattern Recognition in Physics was founded ten months ago to research patterns discovered throughout the physical sciences. In a special issue published in 2013, the editors, many of them noted climate change skeptics, opined that the data published in the issue cast doubt on the claims of accelerated anthropogenic global warming put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the “Vatican” of the climate alarmist movement.

And for this heresy, the journal was shut down:

Copernicus Publications started publishing the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics (PRP) in March 2013. The journal idea was brought to Copernicus’ attention and was taken rather critically in the beginning, since the designated Editors-in-Chief were mentioned in the context of the debates of climate skeptics. However, the initiators asserted that the aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines rather than to focus on climate-research-related topics.

Recently, a special issue was compiled entitled “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”. Besides papers dealing with the observed patterns in the heliosphere, the special issue editors ultimately submitted their conclusions in which they “doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” (Pattern Recogn. Phys., 1, 205–206, 2013).

Copernicus Publications published the work and other special issue papers to provide the spectrum of the related papers to the scientists for their individual judgment. Following best practice in scholarly publishing, published articles cannot be removed afterwards.

In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our  publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.

Therefore, we at Copernicus Publications wish to distance ourselves from the apparent misuse of the originally agreed aims & scope of the journal as well as the malpractice regarding the review process, and decided on 17 January 2014 to cease the publication of PRP. Of course, scientific dispute is controversial and should allow contradictory opinions which can then be discussed within the scientific community. However, the recent developments including the expressed implications (see above) have led us to this drastic decision.

Interested scientists can reach the online library at: www.pattern-recogn-phys.net

Martin Rasmussen
January 2014

The bolded portion shows the editors’ real crime, whatever else Mr. Rasmussen claims (1): they had the temerity to question the dogma of the IPCC.

I don’t hold a PhD, or any advanced degree in the sciences, but I know enough to know this is not the scientific method, which does not just encourage skepticism and probing questions, but positively demands it. To say now that the IPCC’s hypothesis cannot be tested, that the “science is settled” and that if you dare question the Holy Writ, you will be silenced, is an absolute disgrace. The only question in my mind is whether the publisher, the ironically named “Copernicus Publications” was guilty of “noble cause corruption,” or was simply afraid of the wrath of the Warmists.

Regardless, this inability to accept disagreement as legitimate is a common feature of the progressive mind (2). Having discerned The Truth, all questioning must be stopped. If you doubt the The Truth, you are stupid at best or evil at worst, but you cannot be intellectually honest and have honorable motives. Think about it: do you criticize abortion on demand? Then you must want to enslave women and be some sort of religious fascist. Do you express doubt about the welfare state? You must hate poor people. Do you worry about the integrity of our elections and think requiring identification to vote would be a good idea? RACIST!!!

Express even the mildest doubts about the IPCC’s claims, and you will be silenced.

Whatever this is, it ain’t science.

But MiniTrue would approve.

via Jo Nova

Footnotes:
(1) In her post, Jo notes that the paragraph on “nepotistic bias” seems to have been added after the notice’s initial publication. It’s a darkly funny accusation, given the widespread corruption of the peer-review process, particularly within climate science.
(2) Happens too often on the Right, too, but, in that case, it’s a bug. For progressives, I contend, it’s a feature.

UPDATE 1/20/14: At Watt’s Up With That, perhaps the best known of the AGW-skeptic sites, Anthony Watt’s looks at PRiP‘s shutdown and finds blame on both sides and some validity to the “nepotistic bias” or “pal-review” accusation.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Good News! Obama DoJ appoints Obama donor to investigate Obama #IRS

January 10, 2014
"Suckers."

What Team Obama thinks of us

This isn’t the fox guarding the henhouse. This is the fox walking into the henhouse with a chainsaw and locking the door behind him.

From The Washington Times:

The Justice Department selected an avowed political supporter of President Obama to lead the criminal probe into the IRS targeting of tea party groups, according to top Republicans who said Wednesday that the move has ruined the entire investigation.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and regulatory affairs subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said they have discovered that the head of the investigation is Barbara Kay Bosserman, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department who donated more than $6,000 to Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as well as several hundred dollars to the national Democratic Party.

“The department has created a startling conflict of interest,” Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan said in a letter sent Wednesday and reviewed by The Washington Times. “It is unbelievable that the department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the president’s policies.”

That’s unfair of Mr. Issa; I’m sure Ms. Bosserman will get the bottom of this scandal and identify the real culprit — the Tea Party. And Sarah Palin, too, gosh darn her!

Meanwhile, the networks are focusing like a laser on a true national outrage: traffic jams in New Jersey.

via Doug Powers

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Could this study on honesty and government service explain the EPA climateer fraud and ‘Climategate’ ?

January 8, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Key quote: “‘Overall, we find that dishonest individuals — as measured by the dice task — prefer to enter government service,’ wrote Hanna and coauthor Shing-yi Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.” Dan Mitchell at International Liberty is probably claiming vindication even now.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

A new paper published the National Bureau of Economic Research has given an insight that may explain some of the personal decisions that led to the recent EPA corruption fiasco Massive fraud at the EPA from agency’s top paid climate official (where a top climate specialist defrauded the taxpayers out of millions of dollars and made wild claims about being on CIA missions) and to Climategate, since I see some significant parallels between the two and this study.  Links to a story about the paper and the paper itself follow.

As readers know, in a nutshell, Climategate was about the stonewalling of FOIA requests so that independent researchers (such as McIntyre) could not replicate the scientific work. That access for data to allow scientific replication was unreasonably blocked, and someone who was in a position to see what was going on behind the scenes decided that they would do something…

View original 1,487 more words


NYC Mayor DeBlasio appoints tax-cheat to high office

January 7, 2014
NYC city council

NYC city council meeting

Another scandal involving Democrats. Color me shocked:

City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito fessed up Monday, admitting she failed to disclose years of rental income she received, as first revealed by the Daily News.

The East Harlem Democrat, who is Mayor de Blasio’s choice for Council speaker, acknowledged the lapse after The News reported that several people lived in a three-unit building she owns during a period when she reported no rental income on her city ethics forms.

“This was an unintentional mistake,” her spokesman, Eric Koch, told The News on Monday night.

“We will be pulling the necessary documents and will be updating the Conflicts of Interest Board disclosures as soon as we have them.”

Still unclear is whether Mark-Viverito reported the rental income to the IRS. Her aides did not respond to a request by The News to examine her income tax returns.

I don’t see what the problem is: She’s just practicing to be US Treasury Secretary.

Between this and Stacy McCain’s investigation into the real reason New York City’s new, Sandinista-loving mayor wants to ban horse-drawn carriages, I predict Manhattanites will in about two years be begging Giuliani to come back.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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