Great moments in bureaucratic stupidity: requiring a disaster plan for a magician’s rabbit

June 30, 2013

And yet the bureaucracy wonders why we laugh and point at them. Magician Marty Hahne received a letter from the US Department of Agriculture ordering him to submit a disaster plan for the rabbit he uses in his act:

My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly.  I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law.

Oh, he also has to prove he’s received training in how to implement Operation Save The Bunny.

My plan: In the event of disaster, Mr. Hippity-Hop is on his own.

File this under “Things so stupid, they have to be real.”

via Iowahawk

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Josef Stalin Would Have Admired the U.K.’s Government-Run Healthcare System

June 29, 2013

Hyperbole, but perhaps justified by the horror stories coming out of Britain’s NHS. I wonder how long it will take under Obamacare before we have our own to tell?

International Liberty

One of history’s worst butchers, Josef Stalin, is rumored to have said that, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”

Sadly, there’s probably some truth in that statement.

I’ve shared a bunch of horror stories about the U.K.’s government-run healthcare system (see here, here, here, here, here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here) and I challenge you to read them without feeling some mix of anger, sadness, despair, and disgust.

Now read these passages from a story earlier this year in the UK-based Daily Mail.

As many as 1,165 people starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years… According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics following a Freedom of Information request, for every patient who dies…

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Immigration, the latest legislative farce

June 27, 2013

I’ve been taking a break, catching up on my reading, and a recent column by Andrew McCarthy reminded me of the disgust I felt at the shameful process by which Obamacare was passed, a feeling I’m experiencing again as the Senate moves closer to the passage of the 1,000+ pages-long immigration bill. So, I thought I’d share an excerpt from it that sums up my feelings quite nicely:

But there is a larger point: no “important legislation” should be 100 pages long, much less 1,200 (or the even more mind-boggling girth of monstrosities like Obamacare). The United States Constitution is about 4,500 words long — outfits like Cato and Heritage publish it in small pamphlets that can be read in a few minutes. Nowadays, not only are the bills so gargantuan that no one could conceivably master them and predict their consequences; each page produces even more pages of regulations. They can’t even be lifted, much less digested.

You cannot have a functioning democratic republic when the laws are so voluminous no one can know what the law is. And that is especially the case when (a) the rationale for passing new laws — according to “reform” proponents like Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan — is that we don’t enforce the laws currently on the books; (b) key parts of legislation consist of commitments to do what previously enacted law already commands; and (c) the president, notwithstanding his oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, claims the power to refrain from enforcing whatever laws he disapproves of. Washington has made a farce of the legislative process and of the once proud boast that we are ”a nation of laws not men.”

Yep. My only quibble would be to add “Once again,…” to the start of the last sentence.

Then again, what’s the point of making it even just one page, when many don’t feel a need to even read the bills they’re voting on?

Shameful and disgraceful.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


IRS Inspector General calls acting IRS head, in effect, a liar

June 27, 2013

Following up on this item from a couple of days ago, in which the claim that the IRS had also asked inappropriate questioned and otherwise hassled progressive groups, as well as conservative and Tea Party organizations, was shown to be false by Eliana Johnson of National Review.

Now along comes to Inspector General to confirm that, no, progressive groups were not targeted the same way as groups on the Right. Not at all:

Liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status faced less IRS scrutiny than Tea Party groups, according to the Treasury Department’s inspector general.

J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, told Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter dated Wednesday that the IRS did not use inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups with “progressives” in their name seeking tax-exempt status.

“Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012,” George wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.

The inspector general stressed that 100 percent of the groups with “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12” in their name were flagged for extra attention, while only 30 percent of the groups with “progress” or “progressive” were highlighted as potentially political. George’s letter does not say why the progressive groups were given extra scrutiny.

“While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of Tea Party and other related criteria we described in our report, including employee interviews, e-mails and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,” George wrote to Levin, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Democrats are claiming that liberal groups were targeted, too, though the IG’s testimony shows that it was not nearly at the level at which conservative were culled. They’re also taking an awfully long time producing these targeted liberal groups.

But even if they do produce them, we know from Johnson’s investigations that, if progressive groups were set aside for special examination, they could still be approved by line agents; 501c applications from conservative groups, on the other hand, were all sent to Washington for “special review.”

Democrats on Ways and Means are right to challenge George over why his testimony has discrepancies; that’s part of the job, and no groups deserved to be subjected to intrusive questions, but it doesn’t change the fact of disparate treatment between liberal and conservative applications.

Of greater interest is how and why Acting Commissioner Werfel only recently found “liberal words” and why he didn’t know about the differences in handling. Why wasn’t this mentioned by Lois Lerner or former Commissioner Schulman?

Sounds to me like another desperate, busted distraction.

via Legal Insurrection, which has cruelly preserved a screen capture of the Left’s now-spoiled joy. Heh.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Scandalabra: another #IRS official takes the Fifth

June 26, 2013
"They took down Capone, but can they handle the IRS?"

“They took down Capone, but can they handle the IRS?”

But it’s not over targeting conservative groups: this one seems to be centered around good old-fashioned graft. Almost refreshing, really:

A Virginia company inappropriately secured contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service based on false statements and personal ties to an IRS official, the top Republican investigator in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Tuesday.

A report issued by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California said the IRS, which is embroiled in a series of unrelated controversies, awarded the contracts to computer networking and security company Strong Castle Inc.

The report said Strong Castle’s president, Braulio Castillo, relied on a friendship with an IRS contracting official, Gregory Roseman, to win business. It said the company made false statements to beat rivals for the work.

The cost of Strong Castle’s 2012 contracts to the IRS, including for work in future years, could reach nearly $500 million, the report said.

And, guess what, Rosenman’s lawyer has notified the committee he plans to take the Fifth. That’ll do wonders for the agency’s image.

Can anyone give me one good reason, even if we did maintain our Byzantine tax code, why we shouldn’t subject the IRS to Roman decimation, disband the survivors in disgrace, and then tear down their headquarters and salt the earth? They loathe more than half the population that employs them; they deny them equal treatment under the law based on their political beliefs; and apparently they’re steering public money to their buddies. (In return for…?)

And now they have the nerve to plead self-incrimination. Estes Kefauver, where are you when we need you?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the IRS and the Obama administration overall are making a better case for limited government than all the conservative and libertarian group combined have made over the past 20 years. Flat tax or fair tax, I don’t care which you replace the current income tax with, but it’s time to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and abolish the IRS.

via PJM

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Parliament On A Knife Edge Part VIII – Panic Stations And A Palace Coup

June 26, 2013

Really interesting background piece on yesterday’s Labor Party coup in Australia, which saw former PM (and noted earwax-eater) Kevin Rudd topple PM Julia Gillard, who herself had ousted him a couple of years ago. Australians are among the nicest people you meet, but, as James Delingpole wrote, their intra-party politics make Game of Thrones seem bland by comparison. Recommended for all politics and backstabbing geeks.

Be Responsible - Be Free!

Punch and Judy

This has now gone so far beyond a joke that I hardly know where to start.

So much ink has been spilled by hoary press gallery veterans covering Labor’s leadership soap opera, that there is very little new that LibertyGibbert could possibly add. So I thought instead, I’d simply summarize the state of play for my (understandably bewildered) overseas readers. Feel free to switch off or scroll to the end if it becomes too tedious or repetitive—and believe me, folks, it does.

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Debunked: #IRS not targeting progressive groups like they did Tea Party groups

June 25, 2013

On Monday, The Hill and others carried a story that seemed to strongly change the narrative of the IRS “targeting scandal.” In testimony before the House Ways and Means committee, acting IRS head Danny Werfel said that the targeting had gone on longer than originally thought –into 2013– and that it had included liberal and progressive groups:

But Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said that the IRS told Congress for the first time on Monday that “progressive” was also a term used on BOLO lists. 

In a release, Ways and Means Democrats stressed that liberal groups were among almost 300 groups seeking tax-exempt status that Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration reviewed for the May audit outlining the targeting of Tea Party groups. 

Levin said Monday that the audit left that information out, and called for Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to bring Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George back for more testimony. 

“The audit served as the basis and impetus for a wide range of Congressional investigations and this new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way,” Levin said in a statement.

This would seem to weaken at least one aspect of what has been a major scandal for the Obama administration, that conservative and Tea Party groups were singled out inappropriately for special attention that amounted to political harassment and a denial of equal treatment under the law, based on their political views. If left-liberal groups were given similar treatment, then the charge becomes one of mere bureaucratic incompetence, rather than political persecution. And it would tie in with the administration’s favorite defense in scandals: “We’re not evil. We’re just stupid.”

But… Not so fast.

Writing for National Review, Eliana Johnson looks at this new revelation and finds yet another smokescreen:

Acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel on Monday told reporters that the now-infamous “Be On The Lookout” list was far broader than was originally disclosed in the Treasury Department inspector general’s report. Reports from outlets including the Associated Press, which I cited in my original report, and now Bloomberg News, confirmed Werfel’s account, indicating that various versions of the list not only included terms like “tea party,” but also “progressive,” “Occupy,” and “Israel.” 

A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word “progressive,” screeners were in fact instructed to treat “progressive” groups differently from “tea party” groups. Whereas screeners were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status “may not be appropriate” for applications containing the word ”progressive” – 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from conducting any political activities – they were told to send those of tea-party groups off IRS higher-ups for further scrutiny. 

That means the applications of progressive groups could be approved on the spot by line agents, while those of tea-party groups could not. Furthermore, the November 2010 list noted that tea-party cases were “currently being coordinated with EOT,” which stands for Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive groups were not. 

In other words, “Nice try, Representative Levin, but you might want to contact the White House to find out what’s next on the list of distractions.”

This does raise several questions, though. First, Acting Commissioner Werfel surely had to know of the disparate treatment of conservative and liberal groups and its significance in this scandal. Why bring this up as if it was exculpatory? A little “suggestion” from the White House? It may be time for him to come back to testify under oath to explain himself.

Second, this scandal has been known for weeks, and there have been days of testimony by various Right-wing groups complaining about mistreatment by the IRS. If lefty groups were similarly picked on, where were they? Why didn’t they demand to be heard? Why didn’t the Democrats produce them as witnesses? Surely they deserve justice, too, don’t they?

As Johnson’s research shows, they weren’t at the hearing because they had no complaint. The bureaucracy wasn’t interfering with the exercise of their constitutional rights.

Just ours.

RELATED: Evidence shows 12 different IRS groups targeted conservatives across the land. Those “rogue agents” sure got around. Jay Cost on the need for bureaucratic reform to protect the republic.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Ted Cruz: You get a tax break for hiring a legalized illegal under Obamacare

June 25, 2013

The Senate voted yesterday to accept the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the immigration bill (really, the amendment is a replacement bill), so, naturally, senators hit the airwaves to explain their positions. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was interviewed on Sean Hannity’s show. It’s starts off as one of Hannity’s usual talking-points interviews, but then Senator Cruz makes a point I’d never heard before about the status of the would-be legalized under Obamcare. Watch the whole thing, it’s relatively short, and see if you don’t find yourself doing the same double-take I did, starting at about the 4:30 mark:

In other words, if the Senator is right, the “bipartisan” immigration bill creates a $5,000 incentive per employee for businesses to hire workers legalized under the immigration bill, in preference to citizens or legal immigrants.

The is one big example of why I dislike gargantuan “comprehensive” bills: there is always at least one bomb buried in some subsection, just waiting to go off. God alone knows why someone thought this would be a good idea, but it isn’t. If Cruz is correct, this stinks. It directly harms current Americans and legal immigrants in two ways: by not exempting them from that monstrosity, Obamacare, and by hamstringing them in the race for a job. The whole thing should be scrapped and each aspect dealt with as separate, easily read and comprehended bills, and only voted on after sufficient time for public comment and debate.

And then they should rename this crap sandwich the Senate is feeding us the “Congratulations On Avoiding La Migra Affirmative Action” bill.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Inevitable: criminal defendant wants access to NSA records

June 24, 2013

I had a feeling this was going to happen when it was revealed that the government was collecting metadata on everyone’s phones, including cell phones:

One South Florida man accused in a series of bank robbery attempts is hoping the recent revelation that the federal government is secretly keeping millions of U.S. phone records could help his defense.

Terrance Brown, 40, is one of five men on trial in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on charges they conspired to hold up armored trucks making cash deliveries to banks in Miramar and Lighthouse Point in 2010. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Another man, alleged co-conspirator Nathaniel Moss, 34, is serving life in federal prison after admitting he shot and killed Brink’s truck guard Alejandro Nodarse Arencibia, 48, during the final heist on Oct. 1, 2010, outside the Bank of America branch at 7950 Miramar Parkway.

The FBI and federal prosecutors are using cellphone records in court to try to prove that the five accused men were all nearby when the robbery attempts and planning occurred, as Moss, who is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, testified.

The prosecution had told defense attorneys that they were unable to obtain Brown’s cellphone records from the period before September 2010 because his carrier, MetroPCS, had not held on to them.

Not so fast, Brown’s attorney Marshall Dore Louis argued in court documents filed in Fort Lauderdale days after the National Security Agency surveillance program was revealed last week.

Brown’s lawyer contends that cell phone location records may show his client in innocent and that the government should be required to produce them. Now, let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that Mr. Brown was not keeping the best of company and may well himself be a less-than-upstanding citizen. The prosecutors are, of course, fighting this, but it’s hard to see how the court can deny this request and yet plausibly maintain that it is protecting the rights of all parties in the case. Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy agrees:

I don’t see how the government avoids disclosing the NSA’s records to the defendant. The fact that it’s a national security program should be irrelevant. I’d also note that, in connection with the related PRISM program, in which the content of conversations is seized, the national intelligence director says the government reserves the right to make use of an American citizen’s intercepted communications if, among other things, they are “evidence of a crime.” We can argue whether that is good policy in connection with this kind of surveillance (which is outside the criminal law’s normal wiretap process), but I don’t see how the government can take the position that we’ll reveal information when it helps our prosecutions but not when it undermines them.

Presumably, the defense just wants the information in the records; there should be no need to get into how the government came to be in possession of the records, how the records are stored, or what the government needs to do to cull Brown’s records out of the databank. But if the information in the government’s possession is exculpatory, the government must comply with a disclosure demand. There are special procedures for doing this when the information at issue is classified. Bottom line, though, is that whether the government turns over the actual records sought, discloses the information in the records without giving up the records themselves, or enters a stipulation conceding facts the defense would use the information to prove, the law requires that the defendant be in no worse position than he would be in if the information were not classified and if he had obtained it through the regular discorvery [sic] process.

As McCarthy observes, not only is the prosecutor annoyed that he has to go through hoops he’s never heard of before to get this information, but there are undoubtedly people at the NSA quaking in their cubicles at the possibility that this may well be just the first drop in a coming downpour of disclosure demands, not just from current defendants, but almost every convict sent to jail in the last ten years. And why not? It’s in their interest to find out if the government has anything that can prove their innocence, or at least raise enough doubt for a new trial.

We’re going to be paying a price for Mr. Snowden’s actions —right or wrong— for years to come.

via Mark Steyn

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Coincidence? US ambassador named in State Dept. scandal to be replaced

June 24, 2013

A case of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire?” Via The Weekly Standard, we learn that Obama has nominated a new ambassador to Belgium:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

  • Denise Bauer – Ambassador to Belgium, Department of State

Now why, you may ask, is an ambassadorial appointment to a minor ally worthy of our notice? Well, think back about two weeks or so to an item that flared brightly, but briefly, amidst all the other scandals embroiling the Obama administration and touched the current ambassador:

A [Diplomatic Security] agent was called off a case against US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman over claims that he solicited prostitutes, including minors.

“The agent began his investigation and had determined that the ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” says the memo.

“The ambassador’s protective detail and the embassy’s surveillance detection team . . . were well aware of the behavior.”

Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy ordered the investigation ceased, and the ambassador remains in place, according to the memo.

Gutman was a big Democratic donor before taking the post, having raised $500,000 for President Obama’s 2008 campaign and helping finance his inaugural.

This was part of a larger article in the NY Post detailing sex and drug scandals (1) in the State Department under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a scandal in which the whistleblower is claiming she is being threatened.

To get back to Ambassador Gutman, is it just a coincidence that he’s leaving soon after being named in a salacious scandal? According to his Wikipedia entry, a Belgian newspaper mentioned his tour ending early last May. But the whistleblower, Aurelia Fedensin, retired from State in December, 2012. It was her report, reportedly bowdlerized by Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy and Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s then Chief of Staff, that exposed Gutman’s “hobby.”

Call me cynical and suspicious, and this may just be a normal rotation, but doesn’t this look an awful lot like easing someone out the door who’s very embarrassing, after a decent interval to sweep things under the rug?

Not that cover ups would ever occur under Obama and Clinton. *cough!* Benghazi *cough!*

Huh. Must’ve had something caught in my throat.

Footnote:
(1) I know, I know. Sex, drugs, and the Clintons. Who would ever believe that?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oh, Bobby, Bobby, Bobby…

June 23, 2013

Tell me Senator Menendez, did the married woman you were having an affair with know you were also hiring (and not paying) underage Dominican call girls?

Sen. Robert Menendez wooed a married newspaper publisher, taking the attractive brunette on a romantic getaway to the Caribbean, a tipster alleges.

The New Jersey Dem and Cecilia Reynolds jetted to Puerto Rico, where they stayed at the isolated beach retreat of the island’s then-governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila.

In a photo provided by the anonymous informant, Reynolds is sitting naked on a beach and suggestively smiling at the camera. In another set of pictures, they take turns posing against the same sunset backdrop.

The happy couple, dressed in shorts, also appeared to tour a national park and pose for a photo at a waterfall, Menendez wrapping his arm around Reynolds’ waist.

Of course, she was separated at the time (so she and her husband claim), so it isn’t as scandalous as it might be, except for:

The trip came at a time when the senator was trying to thwart the appointment of Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez as the US attorney for Puerto Rico. He placed a “senatorial hold,” or block, on the appointment, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Rodriguez-Velez was the interim US attorney, and her office had turned its sights on Menendez’s pal, the former Puerto Rico governor, investigating him for alleged campaign-finance violations and other wrongdoing. She was later confirmed despite the senator’s interference, and Acevedo Vila was indicted in 2008 on 19 criminal counts. He was found not guilty.

So, at the time Bob “Pass me another Viagra” Menendez was trying to scotch the appointment of a US attorney who was after the island’s governor, he just happened to also get to use the governor’s beach house as a love-shack.

Surely a coincidence.

By the way, Senator Menendez (D – Cialis), just how were those romantic getaways paid for? Might be interesting to see if these were listed as “official travel” and charged to the taxpayers.

via Moe Lane

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Kickbacks and carve-outs: this is how the immigration bill will pass the Senate

June 23, 2013

satire Money suitcase bribe corruption

Remember the deals bribes various senators were offered for favorable consideration to buy their vote for Obamacare? There were Mary Landrieu’s “Louisiana Purchase,” Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback,” Chris Dodd’s “U-Con,” Bill Nelson’s “Gator-Aid” for Florida, and others. In each case, a senator sold their vote in favor of an unpopular, badly written bill few had read in return for a legislative 30 pieces of silver.

Now there comes the immigration reform bill: an increasingly unpopular, badly written bill that few have read in full and is being rushed to passage before many can.

And it’s happening again:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have inserted a provision that amounts to little more than a handout to Las Vegas casinos into the repackaged immigration reform bill, Breitbart News has learned. This provision, a brazen example of crony capitalism, was inserted into the immigration law enforcement section of the bill despite the fact that it has nothing whatsoever to do with “immigration” or “law enforcement.”

On page 66 of the repackaged bill, the following provision appears:
“CORPORATION FOR TRAVEL PROMOTION.—Sec- 9(d)(2)(B) of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (22 U.S.C. 2131(d)(2)(B)) is amended by striking ‘‘For each of fiscal years 2012 through 2015,’’ and inserting ‘‘For each fiscal year after 2012.”

The Travel Promotion Act (TPA) of 2009 allows the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury to spend up to $100 million on promoting travel to specific areas of the country. If the provision Reid and Heller inserted into the proposed immigration reform legislation becomes law, the benefits of the TPA would be extended indefinitely.

As the Heritage Foundation’s Jena McNeill wrote in June 2009, the Travel Promotion Act creates “a government-run public relations campaign funded by a tax on international visitors.” After the law was passed, the PR campaign touting Las Vegas casinos and other tourist destinations in the U.S. using that tax was rolled into a government-run corporation called “Brand USA.” In October 2012, Jim DeMint and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released a report that “reveals a history of waste, abuse, patronage, and lax oversight” with the Brand USA program and the Department of Commerce that oversees it.

Why any state needs a federally funded campaign to attract tourists is beyond me; they all have tourism boards of their own, after all. And, if the big casinos want to boost Vegas, somehow something tells me they make enough money to fund a campaign themselves.

But, the question of where the federal government gets its authority to promote tourism aside, here’s the kicker and the kickback: per the Breitbart article, Senator Dean Heller (R) was not a sponsor of the original immigration bill. Now, with the amendment, something he can brag about in his next campaign, he suddenly is. You can just hear the clink of the silver in his palm.

So, what should we call this one? How about the “Silver State Sellout?”

via Jay Cost

UPDATE: Ooh! And here’s another, this time for Alaska! Clink, clink, clink.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Afterburner: civility

June 22, 2013

There’s an old saying that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” That is, people are more likely to do what you want (or at least not do what you don’t want) when you use kind words, rather than cross ones.

Bill Whittle takes two examples –being stopped for speeding by LAPD and his recent experience at  local Chick-fil-A–  to make a larger point about being treated civilly and with respect by the government:

And he’s right, though I think his opening about civility in daily life stands on its own, too. It’s simple common courtesy, the kinds that makes the treadmill of life a bit easier for everyone involved: when you cut through a line, say “pardon me,” don’t just barrel through. When you’re on a cell call in the grocery line and your turn comes at the register, tell the person on the other end you’ll get back to them, hang up, and pay attention to the human in front of you. You don’t have to be fawning ; just treat the other person with a little respect and consideration, and you may be surprised at how much easier and better your day is.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama’s climate plan ‘absolutely crazy’

June 20, 2013

It may be “crazy,” but it’s all a part of the enviro-left’s plan to destroy the traditional power industry in favor of their cult-approved “green alternatives,” which can only prosper in a greatly expanded State.

Watts Up With That?

Boehner hits the nail on the head

President Obama’s soon-to-be-revealed second-term climate change proposal is “absolutely crazy,” Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.

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About that “moderate” new Iranian president

June 20, 2013
"Another moderate"

“Another moderate”

“Moderate” in post-Khomeini Iranian dictionaries must mean “Cool with blowing up Jews in foreign countries:”

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rowhani was on the special Iranian government committee that plotted the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, according to an indictment by the Argentine government prosecutor investigating the case.

The AMIA bombing is considered the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history, killing 85 and wounding hundreds more. The Argentine government had accused the Iranian government of planning the attack and Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah of carrying it out. Numerous former and current Iranian officials are wanted by Interpol in connection with the bombing.

Former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi, who defected from Iran in the late 1990s, testified that the decision to launch the attack was made within a special operations committee connected to the powerful Supreme National Security Council in August 1993.

According to the 2006 indictment, Mesbahi testified that Rowhani, who was then serving as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, was also a member of the special committee when it approved the AMIA bombing.

A committee that included Supreme Leader (1) Ali Khamenei, the hardliner’s hardliner and real ruler of Iran. If Rowhani didn’t meet his approval, Khamenei wouldn’t have allowed him on the committee, nor would he have allowed him to run for president this year.

What? You didn’t know that Khamenei, ostensibly through the clerical Guardian Council, picks who’s even allowed to run for president in the first place?

That’s why referring to this guy as a “moderate” is nothing more than a bad joke. If he had been a genuine moderate, interested in improving relations in the world, ending Iranian state support for terrorism, and reining in Khamenei’s beloved nuclear program, the “Supreme Leader” and the Guardian Council would never have let him run in the first place. If he’s a moderate, it’s in the same way Rudolf Hess was a “moderate Nazi.”

What’s disheartening is to see again just how desperate many in the West are to find a moderate Iranian leader, someone with whom we can cut a deal. (See, for example, this piece in the leftist Guardian and this in the nearly-as-leftist New York Times) They’re nothing more than the spiritual grandchildren of the fools and appeasers who thought one could deal with Hitler.

The plan fact is that Iran has been at war with the United States and on a mission from Allah to destroy Israel and kill Jews since 1979. The people in charge, quite possibly including Rowhani, see it as their mission to bring about the Islamic “end times.” They have been stringing the US and the West along for decades, dissembling and dissimulating and pretending to be reasonable enough that they can always find suckers (including each new American administration from Carter to Obama) who think they’ll be the one to strike the “Grand Bargain.”

And I bet it will turn out the same way with Rowhani  and Obama, only the ending here will not just be egg on an American president’s face, but Khamenei in possession of a nuclear bomb.

PS: Michael Ledeen has written a great book on the difficulty the West has calling evil for what it is and facing it directly until great damage has been done and it’s almost too late. By our willful blindness and failure to take meaningful steps early, we become “Accomplices to Evil.” Highly recommended.

Footnote:
(1) One sign of possible Fascist infestation — a liking for grandiose, ego-stroking titles.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Responding to Scandals and Corruption, the IRS Rewards Itself with Giant Bonuses

June 19, 2013

I shouldn’t be surprised, but, wow! Talk about tone deaf.

International Liberty

What do you do if you’re part of a government bureaucracy that has been caught red-handed engaged in sleazy, corrupt, and (almost surely) illegal targeting of Americans for their political beliefs?

But before you answer, keep in mind that your bureaucracy also has been exposed for wasting huge amounts of money at lavish conferences. What’s the ideal way of dealing with the fallout from that scandal as well?

The answer is simple. Even though you and your pals already are paid more than the peasants in the private sector, give yourself and your cronies giant bonuses!

I’m not joking. Here are some excerpts from an AP report.

The Internal Revenue Service is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses despite an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year, according to a GOP senator. …“The IRS always claims to…

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Forest fires as an act of jihad?

June 19, 2013
"...can prevent forest jihad."

“…can prevent forest jihad.”

Summertime is forest fire season in much of the western United States; here in California, it’s almost an annual ritual to watch some part or another (or several at once) of the state go up in smoke.  And the causes can be as mundane as they are frustrating: firebugs getting their thrills; careless campers or hikers; or idiots shooting off fireworks too near dry brush. And for someone else’s carelessness, hundreds and even thousands of people are put at risk of their homes and lives, not to mention the vast public expense needed to fight a blaze.

But what if they weren’t all the accidental products of carelessness, or even garden-variety arson? What if some were acts of holy war?

In the Washington Examiner, Mark Tapscott takes the recent Black Forest fire in Colorado as his jumping off point for a discussion of the dangers of “forest jihad:”

Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld (1) of the New York-based American Center for Democracy’s Economic Warfare Institute warns that last July “al-Qaeda’s English-language online magazine, Inspire, published an article called ‘It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb,’ which featured instructions on how to build an incendiary bomb to light forests on fire.

“A few months later, Russia’s security (FSB) chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov warned, ‘al-Qaeda was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe’ as part of the terrorists’ ‘strategy of a thousand cuts.’ Bortnikov spoke of ‘extremist sites [that] contained detailed instructions of waging the forest jihad and stressed that such a method had proved itself effective as it inflicted both physical and moral damage, needed little training or investment and it was extremely hard for police to find and apprehend the arsonists.’

“Since then, more fatwas advocating that ‘Fire is cheap, easy and effective tool for economic warfare’ have been issued. They’ve included detailed instructions for constructing remote-controlled ’ember bombs, and how to set fires without leaving a trace.'”

And it’s not just in the US, as Tapscott points out. Not only has Russia suspected Muslim terrorists of setting forest fires in their country, but Australia, too, has been declared a target, while deadly fires in Western Europe aroused suspicions.

There’s little proof that any of these fires were acts of jihad, but the fact that al Qaeda and other Islamic supremacist groups have shown great interest in setting them should make us wary. The West has done tremendous damage to al Qaeda and its affiliates since 9/11/01, largely blunting their efforts to conduct more catastrophic terror attacks against us. But, they are nothing if not adaptable, and it only makes sense that they would look for other means to strike at us, the “infidels.”

RELATED: The National Interagency Fire Center has good info on current large wildfires. At the ICT in Israel, Colonel Jonathan Fighel has an important article on al Qaeda’s interest in forest jihad, while The Gatestone Institute published Soeren Kern’s piece explaining AQ’s “thousand cuts” strategy.

Footnote:
(1) Rachel Ehrenfeld also wrote “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed And How To Stop It,” a must-read work on the money networks behind international terrorism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


State Senator Elbert Guillory: Why I chose to become a Republican

June 18, 2013

Oh, this is a good video that’s going to tick off a lot of Democrats:

(Transcript at Real Clear Politics)

First, welcome to the party, Senator. I love what you have to say.

Second, I hope your political body armor is strong, because the last thing your former colleagues in the Democratic party will tolerate is a minority politician wandering off the reservation. Especially as you’re the first Black Republican in the Louisiana legislature since Reconstruction. Just ask Allen West or Tim Scott or Susanna Martinez or… You get the idea.

BTW, I hear US Senator Mary Landrieu might need a challenger.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


FISA warrants: Gotta take issue with Morning Jolt, just a little bit

June 18, 2013

One of the lesser controversies wrapped in the broader NSA surveillance controversy has been the role of the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It’s the FISA court that approves warrants for accessing the data swept up by the NSA (and other clandestine stuff). Some writers have raised the objection that the process for the FISA court granting a warrant lacks any recourse for challenge by those questioning the government’s case. A good example of this is seen in today’s Morning Jolt, the National Review newsletter written by Jim Geraghty:

Remember, in a FISA court, there is no equivalent of a defense attorney speaking on behalf of the person being investigated. It is not an adversarial court. Nobody speaks for you, Joe Citizen. The government makes its case, and the judge either says, “okay,” or “no, I’m not convinced.” Take a guess at how that works out . . .

Jim makes a good point that the FISA court has approved the vast majority of warrant requests, making one suspicious of the extent of real judicial oversight, but how is the process all that different from the that of getting a warrant by a judge in a “normal” court? I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t recall representatives of the accused having a role. As I remember, the investigators go before a judge or other magistrate, present their probable cause, and the judge says yes or no. There’s no defense advocate challenging the government’s argument here, either. Their chance to challenge search warrants and exclude the information collected comes during the actual trial process.

Now, maybe this is what Jim and other critics have in mind — that defense counsel might have no chance to challenge information gathered under a FISA warrant, because it’s secret. With that I would somewhat agree, though I’ve also been an advocate of special counter-terrorism courts that were designed to handle classified or secret testimony and evidence, which might mean limiting the defense’s options. It’s not an issue that’s at all clear cut, and I think former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy makes an strong case in his book Willful Blindness that our normal civilian courts are poorly equipped to handle sensitive information. Call me agnostic.

But, as far as the issuance of FISA warrants goes… Based on my understanding, I don’t see the scandal. There may be a problem, perhaps it’s something we want to change, but the lack of a defense attorney at the warrant hearing doesn’t raise my outrage flag.

So, to any legal types reading this, what am I missing?

PS: Jim is a great political reporter, and heartily recommend his newsletter.


You’re not being hacked, @SharylAttkisson. You’re being haunted.

June 18, 2013

How else would you explain computers mysteriously turning on and off? It’s gotta be ghosts:

CBS News announced on Friday that the computer of investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer had registered multiple breaches, a disclosure that prompted a great deal of speculation about just who was responsible for the misbehavior. In a short segment today on “CBS This Morning,” Attkisson lent a personal touch to the story.

The primary takeaway? That Attkisson’s hardware sort of “woke up” in the middle of the night. When asked how the hacking manifested itself, she said, “One example was the computers began turning themselves on and then back off again during the night.”

Creepy, huh?

They’re heeeerre!

Okay, so, maybe not ghosts. Probably someone much more mundane, in fact. Someone with some very specific interests:

“The intruders did have access to personal information including passwords to my financial accounts and so on, but didn’t tamper with those, so they weren’t interested in stealing my identity or doing things to my finances. So people can decide on their own what they might have been trying to do in there,” Attkisson said.

These were computers Attkisson used mostly for work. And what was she working on last Fall?

Stories about Benghazi and Operation Fast and Furious. Hmmm…

Back to the WaPo article (first quote), Erik Wemple contacted a former NSA operative who found government intrusion hard to believe:

Cedric Leighton, a former deputy director of training at the National Security Agency (NSA), cautions against reaching too many conclusions on the sophistication of the intruder(s). “It’s sloppy work (1) in the realm of hackerdom,” says Leighton. “If you’re going to do something like that, you try not to leave anything behind. You try to make sure that you don’t do anything different than what the user is doing.”

Noting the time of the intrusion, Leighton speculated about Chinese hackers. But Attkisson works mostly on domestic investigations; why would a Chinese hacker be interested in her work? You’d think they’d be more interested in reporters who cover the military or tech beats, for example. Just some bored kid in Shanghai who saw her on TV and thought it would be cool to hack her machines?

Nah. I don’t think so. And neither does Attkisson, it seems:

ATTKISSON: I have attorneys at CBS who are helping us through this. I also have personal counsel.

O’REILLY: And so, all your counsels are saying, “Don’t say anything.” Just maybe you have the same counsel that the attorney general and Ed Muller has?

No, it’s a joke. Bad joke. Sorry. So, all of your counsels are saying, “Don’t accuse anybody right now.”

ATTKISSON: Well, they’re just telling us what we can say, more than anything right now, which is, you know, what you basically heard, that there has been an intrusion of the computer, this is not phishing, this is not malware.

This is not ordinary, as someone asked me, old boyfriend trying to look through my files. They know it’s not that.

O’REILLY: No. This is big.

ATTKISSON: Yes.

O’REILLY: Yes. But in order to go after somebody, you’ve got to have the suspicion. And I assume you have a suspicion.

You don’t have to tell me. I don’t want to get your lawyers mad. But I assume you have a suspicion.

ATTKISSON: Well, I think I know. But I am just not prepared to go into that. So, we’re continuing our investigation.

In other words, she was working on stories not at all complimentary to the government, her computers are hacked –no financial or other personal data stolen–  and she and her employers think they have a pretty good idea who did it.

And I’ll bet they’re not Chinese.

She and CBS were smart to retain their own counsel; with the government apparently willing to intimidate the children of whistleblowers, they’ll want to have all their legal ducks in a row before going public with any accusations.

Footnote:
(1) The basic idea being that US government couldn’t be this clumsy, could it? Well… Given their inability to ferret out the Tsarnaevs before they bombed the Boston Marathon, or their willful blindness that lead to fatal political correctness regarding Major Hasan, or their mind-boggling incompetence in granting a top security clearance to Edward Snowden, let’s just say it’s not that hard for me to believe they could leave a trail marked by flashing neon signs.

Reminds me in fact of a scene from S*P*Y*S, a 1974 espionage comedy starring Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould. When someone tries to blow them up, they’re convinced their own employers, the CIA, did it. Their boss denies it, but they won’t have it (going from memory): “No, it wasn’t the KGB! They don’t screw up! This was screwed up! It had to be us!”

Sounds plausible to me.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)