How low can they go? Obama admin. blocked WWII vets from visiting their own memorial

October 1, 2013
D-day

“First they stormed Normandy, then their own memorial”

Pretty danged low, apparently.

When I first read about a group of WWII veterans having to push past barriers in order to visit the World War II memorial, closed supposedly as part of the Democrat shutdown of the government, I figured it was one of those snafus one hears all too often about when the subject of bureaucracy comes up. Annoying, infuriating, and disrespectful toward our veterans, but still unintentional.

What a naive fool I am.

According to Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS), whose special projects these Honor Flights have been, he contacted the Park Service, the Interior Department, the Capitol Police, and even the White House to get access for these veterans to a memorial built to honor them.

They all said “no:”

“We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes,” Palazzo told TheDC. “We were denied and told, ‘It’s a government shutdown, what do you expect?’ when we contacted the liaison for the White House.”

Palazzo’s office was in touch with the heads of the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the Capitol Police. He says all these officials rejected his request to allow the veterans, many of whom are octogenarians and some of whom are in poor health, to attend.

Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran who has participated in all five of the Honor Flights, blames the White House for making it harder on veterans and playing politics. “At first I thought it was a huge bureaucratic oversight,” Palazzo told The Daily Caller, “but having talked with the officials I can’t help but think this was politically motivated. Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation’s memorials, are planned a year in advance and cost anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000. How low can you get with playing politics over our nation’s veterans?”

In Chicago on the Potomac, you can get very, very low.

What a disgrace.

via McKay Coppins

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oh, why not? Yet another arbitary Obamacare delay

August 13, 2013
"Bad medicine"

“Quack medicine”

Yet another key part of this anti-constitutional monstrosity is found to be unworkable. This time, it’s the cap on out-of-pocket expenses and ban on lifetime dollar limits for beneficiaries, scheduled by law to begin in 2014. So, what does the Obama administration do when shown it’s prize law is wreaking havoc? Why, issue another probably illegal delay in enforcement.

There’s an election to worry about, after all.

From Avik Roy:

These mandates have already had drastic effects on a number of colleges and universities, which offer inexpensive, defined-cap plans to their healthy, youthful students. Premiums at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C., for example, rose from $245 per student in 2011-2012 to between $2,507 in 2012-2013. The University of Puget Sound paid $165 per student in 2011-2012; their rates rose to between $1,500 and $2,000 for 2012-2013. Other schools have been forced to drop coverage because they could no longer afford it.

According to the law, the limits on out-of-pocket costs for 2014 were $6,350 for individual policies and $12,700 for family ones. But in February, the Department of Labor published a little-noticed rule delaying the cap until 2015. The delay was described yesterday by Robert Pear in the New York Times.

(…)

Notes Pear, “Under the [one-year delay], many group health plans will be able to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits for benefits in 2014. As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors’ services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs under a plan administered by a pharmacy benefit manager.”

The reason for the delay? “Federal officials said that many insurers and employers needed more time to comply because they used separate companies to help administer major medical coverage and drug benefits, with separate limits on out-of-pocket costs. In many cases, the companies have separate computer systems that cannot communicate with one another.”

The best part in Pear’s story is when a “senior administration official” said that “we had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers…They asked for more time to comply.” Exactly how is it in consumers’ interests to pay far more for health insurance than they do already?

Businesses, of course, heaved a sigh of relief at the delay. Consumer groups, on the other hand, are outraged; after all, they supported Obamacare on the promise that their clients’ expenses would be capped. I do have some sympathy; some of these drug treatments are frighteningly expensive, particularly for those with chronic conditions. The promise of having the government pay for most of the care that may keep you alive is very tempting. On the other hand, as Roy points out, these caps do nothing for the underlying cost of treatment, which has to be paid by someone. Ergo, the Obamacare subsidies, which are really transfer payments from the young and healthy to those who are neither.

But, with this delay, the consumer is hit for at least 2014 with both the mandatory coverage requirements and high out-of-pocket expenses. And this comes on the heels of the delay in the employer coverage mandate that leaves the individual mandate in place.Once again, the Obama administration breezily waives a rule to benefit businesses,  while the consumer gets… Well, you know.

Good thing this administration is looking out for the little guy, no? I’d hate to see what would happen if they were out to get him.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Sun King Obama to peasant reporter: “Do not bother me with lawyers!”

July 30, 2013
"My will is enough!"

“My will is enough!”

We’ve already noted President Le Roi Soleil Obama’s speech at Galesburg, Illinois, last week, in which he (again) revealed himself to be something of a schmuck. But, in addition to the neo-Marxist, class-warfare theme of the speech itself, something else came from that trip. In an interview with audience granted to Jackie Calmes and Michael Shear of The New York Times, Juan Peron Obama had this to say when asked about his unilateral, illegal, and unconstitutional decision to grant a delay in enforcement of the Obamacare employer mandate:

NYT: People questioned your legal and constitutional authority to do that unilaterally — to delay the employer mandate. Did you consult with your lawyer?

MR. OBAMA: Jackie, if you heard me on stage today, what I said was that I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security —

NYT: No, but specifically –

MR. OBAMA: — but where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.

And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.

I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so. And I would hope that more and more of Congress will say, you know what, since that’s our primary focus, we’re willing to work with you to advance those ideals. But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days.

Keep that in mind: he first dodges the question of whether he consulted with White House legal staff (or the staff of any relevant cabinet department) and then asserts that his critics are mere gadflies because they, unlike he, are not constitutional lawyers.

Translation: “Silence, you ignorant bitter-clinger!”

Let set the record straight: Obama taught con-law (a course on the 4th amendment, as I recall) and was regarded as faculty, but he was no great scholar. Really. Search the literature, and you’ll find next to nothing.  For him to dismiss the many well-read, educated people who have criticized his actions because they don’t have “esq.” after their names is the height of ivory-tower arrogance. And typical for the academic elitists from whose ranks he comes.

But look at that second paragraph: If Congress refuses to do what Obama wants, Obama will do it anyway, regardless of any grant of authority by the legislature, the only body constitutionally allowed to make laws. This isn’t the first time he’s dismissed Congress as a bother. From “I won” to issue after issue, he’s used the vast (too vast) administrative power of the Executive to make or rewrite law, and then stretched the limits of Executive power even further than anyone since FDR or Nixon. Think I’m exaggerating? Consider how many times Obama and his minions have been smacked down nine-to-nothing (9-0!) by the Supreme Court. That includes liberal Justices Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, and the latter two were Obama appointees! If even those three think Obama’s White House has lost any constitutional moorings…

What we have here is a man who sees himself as a supercharged Mayor of Chicago, ruling as he wishes and only paying attention to the “city council” when he absolutely has to, not as the head of one branch of government dealing with a constitutionally equal branch, respecting the powers, boundaries, and traditions of both. “Consensus” means to Obama “do it my way.” And, when stymied, he feels no need to consult with anyone else, no need to wait for the people’s elected representatives to grant him authority, nor even any need to obey the law as written. His will be done. Even after five years, his arrogance is breathtaking.

And there’s a word for people who think they can rule on their own.

via Byron York

LINK: More from PJM’s Rick Moran.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama: “Will no one rid me of this troublesome Congress?”

July 17, 2013
"My will is enough!"

“My will is enough!”

Politico’s Glenn Thrush today reports, in an article on Obama’s second-term strategy, that, soon after reelection, the top-most question on his mind apparently how to figure a way to govern without Congress:

After the emotional high of his reelection dissipated, Obama convened his top advisers for a series of sober meetings in the West Wing to map out strategies for dealing with the fiscal cliff negotiations. Aides remember Obama’s mood changing, like a man returning from a vacation to find a ransacked house.

“Guys, I don’t want politics to be a limit of what you recommend to me,” Obama told senior aides David Plouffe, Lew, Dan Pfeiffer and Pete Rouse a couple of weeks after his reelection, according to a White House aide with direct knowledge of the meeting.

“Let’s come up with an agenda, then let’s figure it out from there as best we can,” he said, prodding them to adopt a more muscular approach to the use of executive power. “We can’t let the driving force of what we pass be Congress.”

Wait minute. I have to check the owner’s manual on this thing…. Ah! Here it is:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

That’s Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution, Mr. President. Try as I might –and I’ve really looked hard!– I don’t see anything in there about you getting to pass anything. In fact, now that I think about it, I think these old, hard-to-understand and so very flawed words mean that Congress is the driving force of what gets passed.

I dunno, Boss. I know you’re a constitutional scholar and all, but maybe you should try reading the document, sometime.

via Charlie Spiering

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


John Fund on “Obama’s Chicago Way”

May 30, 2013

An interesting –and frustrating– article by John Fund today about how the roiling scandals of the Obama administration are finally beginning to convince journalists that, instead of a Unicorn Prince who would deliver us all to an age of enlightened progressivism that actually worked, what we got (and they moved heaven and earth to elect) was a national version of the Chicago machine:

The scandals swirling around the Obama administration have many journalists scratching their heads as to how “hope and change” seem to have been supplanted by “arrogance and fear.” Perhaps it’s time they revisit one of their original premises about Barack Obama: that he wasn’t influenced by the Chicago Daley machine. You know: the machine that boosted his career and whose protégés — including Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, and his wife, Michelle — he brought to Washington with him.

The liberal take on the president was best summed up by Slate magazine’s Jacob Weisberg, who wrote last year that Obama “somehow passed through Chicago politics without ever developing any real connection to it.” It’s true that Obama initially kept some distance from the machine. But by the time he ran for the Senate in 2004, his main political Sherpas were Axelrod, who was then the chief consultant to Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Jarrett, the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff. As Scott Simon of NPR noted: “While calling for historic change globally, [Obama] has never professed to be a reformer locally.” The Daley machine, which evolved over 60 years from a patronage-rich army of worker bees into a corporate state in which political pull and public-employee unions dominate, has left its imprint on Obama. The machine’s core principle, laid out in an illuminating Chicago Independent Examiner primer on “the Chicago Way,” is that at all times elections are too important to be left to chance. John Kass, the muckraking columnist for the Chicago Tribune who for years has warned that Obama was bringing “the Chicago way” to Washington, sums up his city like this: “Once there were old bosses. Now there are new bosses. And shopkeepers still keep their mouths shut. Tavern owners still keep their mouths shut. Even billionaires keep their mouths shut.”

“We have a sick political culture, and that’s the environment Barack Obama came from,” Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, warned ABC News when Obama ran in 2008. He noted that Obama had “been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state.”

Part of the frustration I mentioned is that so many tried to tell the press that this guy could not have arisen from Chicago’s corrupt political culture without being dirtied himself by it — indeed, becoming part of it. Fund quotes several, and I’d add to that Michelle Malkin who, I think, coined “Chicago on the Potomac” to describe the Obama administration, and David Freddoso, whose “The Case Against Barack Obama” accurately laid out in 2008 what we’re now seeing take place under the bright lights of the national stage…. but too few paid any attention.

Where I think Fund, or, more accurately, journalist Chris Robling, whom he quotes, is off the track a bit is where we see this:

“Obama’s ideology may come from Saul Alinsky’s acolytes, but his political tactics come straight from the Daley playbook.”

…as if they’re separate streams. Actually, it’s more like they sprang from the same poisoned well; Daley and Alinsky may share the same political tactics, but Alinsky added the leftism, putting the urge to power at the service of an ideology. There’s a good article at Breitbart, “The Community Organizer in Chief, Part One: The Alinsky Ethics.” Worth reading for its own sake, Lee Stranahan quotes this gem from Alinsky’s Playboy interview:

Alinsky then goes on to boast about his association with the Chicago Mob, including Al Capone and Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, who Alinsky says he called “The Professor.” Alisnky approached the criminals under the guise of doing student research. Nitti and the other mobsters not only accepted Alisnky but actually revealed everything about their operation to him. This included extortion and murder. 

“PLAYBOY: Didn’t you have any compunction about consorting with — if not actually assisting — murderers?

ALINSKY: None at all, since there was nothing I could do to stop them from murdering, practically all of which was done inside the family. I was a nonparticipating observer in their professional activities, although I joined their social life of food, drink and women: Boy, I sure participated in that side of things — it was heaven. “

Now there’s a moral precept for you; when there are no men, be thou an observer who shares food, drink and women. 

Alinsky continues:

“And let me tell you something, I learned a hell of a lot about the uses and abuses of power from the Mob, lessons that stood me in good stead later on, when I was organizing.”

So is revealed the real face of Community Organizing for you: the ethics of Al Capone.

The ethics of Al Capone (just under a more respectable guise with the Daleys) blended with Alinskyite Socialism and taken to Washington, D.C.

Obama’s “Chicago Way.”


Shocking? Insider trading on #Obamacare, facilitated by the White House?

May 27, 2013

I use the question mark because, at this point, after stomping on freedom of speech in the IRS scandal and the utter cynicism behind the Benghazi cover-up, I’m not so sure I’d really be shocked by plain-old cronyism. In fact, a little workaday graft might be refreshing.

Time to call the SEC?

Wall Street investors hungry for advance information on upcoming federal health-care decisions repeatedly held private discussions with Obama administration officials, including a top White House adviser helping to implement the Affordable Care Act.

The private conversations show that the increasingly urgent race to acquire“political intelligence” goes beyond the communications with congressional staffers that have become the focus of heightened scrutiny in recent weeks.

White House records show that Elizabeth Fowler, then a top ­health-policy adviser to President Obama, met with executives from half a dozen investment firms in 2011 and 2012. Among them was Kris Jenner, a stock picker with T. Rowe Price Investment Services who managed its $6 billion Health Sciences Fund.

Separately, an officialin the agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid spoke in December with managers of hedge funds, pension plans and mutual funds in a conference call. The official, Andrew Shin, was pressed during the 50-minute call for information about upcoming Medicare decisions but declined to discuss matters still under agency review, according to people familiar with the call.

That call and the White House meetings Fowler attended were arranged by political-intelligence firms, an expanding class of consultants in Washington that specialize in providing government information to Wall Street.

But they deny anything hinky or downright corrupt went on. So there. That’s settled. And, besides, they don’t remember.

But didn’t Obama say something about “punishing our enemies and rewarding our friends?”

Sounds like this might be “part B.”  smiley thinking

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


America’s #IRS: the true agent of voter suppression?

May 23, 2013

Democrats and their Leftist allies in the racial grievance industry have long claimed that efforts to require identification in order to vote, a measure meant to protect the integrity of elections, were really meant to suppress minority voters, even equating them with Jim Crow laws.

We all know this is noxious nonsense, of course, but what if there really was an effort to suppress a particular group’s votes, and what if that effort were carried out not by modern-day descendants of Bull Conner with whips and dogs, but by an arm of the US government using bureaucracy to discourage people from participating in the political process?

And what if it was the IRS?

NRO’s John Fund, who’s written extensively on election integrity matters, explains:

But it now turns out there may have suppression of the vote after all. “It looks like a lot of tea-party groups were less active or never got off the ground because of the IRS actions,” Wisconsin governor Scott Walker told me. “Sure seems like people were discouraged by it.”

Indeed, several conservative groups I talked with said they were directly impacted by having their non-profit status delayed by either IRS inaction or burdensome and intrusive questioning. At least two donors told me they didn’t contribute to True the Vote, a group formed to combat voter fraud, because after three years of waiting the group still didn’t have its status granted at the time of the 2012 election. (While many of the targeted tea-party groups were seeking to become 501(c)(4)s, donations to which are not tax-deductible, True the Vote sought to become a 501(c)(3).) This week, True the Vote sued the IRS in federal court, asking a judge to enjoin the agency from targeting anyone in the future.

Cleta Mitchell, True the Vote’s lawyer, says we’ll never know just how much political activity was curtailed by the IRS targeting. She has one client who wanted to promote reading of the Constitution, but who didn’t even hear back from the IRS for three years – until last Monday, when the IRS informed this client that some questions would be sent.

“I was about to file with the IRS when other tea-party groups started to get harassed,” Pennsylvania activist Jennifer Stefano told Time magazine. “I remember checking with the IRS to see if they wanted the group [Facebook] page or my personal page, and they said ‘All of it.’”

Even if this wasn’t enough to throw the 2012 election Obama’s way (although White voter turnout was way down from 2008 to 2012), Fund makes it clear that many activist groups had their efforts hampered, some to the point of giving up altogether, by the IRS harassment. And the effect of that on get-out-the-vote and voter-education efforts could be substantial.

It’s one of the issues Congress has to address while dealing with this scandal: in addition to targeting Americans for holding “unapproved” political opinions and trampling on their rights of free speech, the IRS’ actions threaten public confidence in the integrity of our elections, themselves.

It’s the Chicago Way taken nationwide.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#WarOnJournalism: Who’s been snooping in Sharyl Attkisson’s computers?

May 21, 2013

Hmmm… Maybe FOX’s James Rosen and the AP aren’t the only targets of the White House’s ire? Here’s a radio interview CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson did with WPHT’s Chris Stigall in which she mentions unknown parties have accessed her home and work computers since February, 2011:

You’ll recall that both my blog-buddy ST and I have mentioned Attkisson several times on our blogs for being one of the few remaining MSM reporters actually willing to hold the administration to account for their actions, Fast & Furious and Benghazi being the most notable. She so got under their skin that, as Allahpundit reminds us, a DoJ official screamed and cursed at her over the phone. Attkisson herself has recently said that she has been shut out by her White House sources. There have been rumors (1) that David Rhodes, president of CBS News  and brother of Ben Rhodes, a would-be fiction writer and now an Obama national security deeply involved in Benghazi, might fire Attkisson for being too aggressive in her coverage of the White House… where his brother works.

Keep in mind that the DoJ got access to James Rosen’s GMail account by affirming to a judge that they believed he was engaged in a criminal conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, and then got a court order forbidding Google from telling Rosen of the access. And now we hear that somebody has been accessing Attkisson’s computers.

What was going on in February 2011? The Fast and Furious scandal, having been rumored for months, was finally breaking into the mainstream news, and Attkisson was filing stories that weren’t settling for administration spin.

And about that same time, she gets hacked.

What. A. Coincidence.

Footnote:
(1) Attkisson has said there has been no pressure from any CBS News executive regarding her Benghazi reporting.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS scandal: Obama met with Treasury union chief the day before the targeting began

May 20, 2013

It could be a coincidence: a meeting between a very union-friendly president and the head of the union that includes IRS employees, a union described as very “anti-Tea Party,” and then the very next day the IRS begins targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups, stalling their applications for non-profit status:

According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.

The White House lists the IRS union leader’s visit this way:

“Kelley, Colleen Potus 03/31/2010 12:30”

In White House language, “POTUS” stands for “President of the United States.”

The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:

“April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.”

In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.

I’m not yet ready to call this a “smoking gun,” but I do think Ms. Kelley should be hauled before the Ways and Means committee and made to answer some very pointed questions about their conversation and just what, if any, instructions or “encouragements” were given to her union members.

But I’m sure this is all one big coincidence.

via Jim Hoft.

RELATED: John Fund on “Three signs there’s a cover-up.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS scandal: Officials in Washington, California targeted Tea Party groups

May 13, 2013

Hey, remember when IRS official Lois Lerner said that only a wayward local office in Cincinnati was improperly investigating conservative groups?

Yeah, well… about that:

Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea party-affiliated groups.

IRS employees in Cincinnati also told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.

Lois G. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, told reporters on Friday the “absolutely inappropriate” actions were undertaken by “front-line people” working in Cincinnati to target groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names.

In one instance, however, Ron Bell, an IRS employee, informed an attorney representing a conservative group focused on voter fraud that the application was under review in Washington. On several other occasions, IRS officials in D.C. and California sent detailed questionaires to conservative groups asking more than a dozen questions about their voter outreach and other activities, according to the documents.

“For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false,” said Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP who sought to communicate with IRS headquarters about the delay in granting tax-exempt status to True the Vote.

“True the Vote” is an organization dedicated to election integrity and fight vote fraud. What a shock it was hassled during… an election year.

So, we’ve gone from “front-line people” to the agency’s General Counsel, one step below the Commissioner, who, um… testified there was no such thing going on.

Except there was, and it wasn’t just local and it wasn’t just “front-line people.”

Between this, Benghazi, the DoJ-AP scandal, and the budding Sebelius/HHS solicitations scandal, this week has already turned bad for Team Hopenchange.

Can’t wait to see what comes out between now and Friday. smiley devil

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Shock and surprise: Diane Feinstein’s husband’s company lands big high-speed rail contract

April 26, 2013
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

Because, at nearly $35,000,000 per mile, they surely had to be the cheapest:

Out of the entire universe of those who could have won the first phase construction contract for California’s high speed rail boondoggle, who would stand out as the last person who would win it if there were no political patronage.

Put another way, who is the most likely person to win it if there is political patronage?

Both questions have the same answer: Richard Blum, the husband of California senator Diane Feinstein.

So, who won the contract? Blum, of course, as the principle owner of Tutor Perini, the lead firm in the three-firm consortium selected by the California High Speed Rail Authority.

Yes, Diane, it really does look that bad to us little people.

The group lead by Tutor Perini bid $985,000,000 to build the initial 29-mile stretch, roughly from Fresno to Madera, which doesn’t include the costs for electrification and land purchase. And, as Laer points out at Crazifornia, they started with this section because it’s the cheapest. (I can’t wait to see what the bids are to lay track through the mountain passes…)

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the principle owner of the company is husband to a powerful United States senator, who happens to be from the state building said rail system. I mean, it’s not as if there have been any allegations of self-dealing before.

I’m about as shocked as Louis was in Casablanca:

via Katy Grimes

UPDATE 01/30/2014: It appears Blum divested himself of Tutor-Perini stock in 2005, calling into question much of the Crazifornia article. The rail deal still stinks like a fish left out in the sun, however.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Chicago cops for rent?

April 7, 2013

And that’s not a metaphor for police corruption; these are uniformed police officers “financially sponsored” by individual citizens or groups. In other words, rented:

A philanthropist or business could sponsor a police beat and put more off-duty cops on the streets under a plan being put forth by a downtown Chicago lawmaker on the City Council.

Alderman Brendan Reilly originally pitched the idea last October but is pushing it again following weekend incidents of teen mob activity on the Magnificent Mile, an upscale area of the city.

Under his plan, off-duty officers would work minimum six-hour shifts and make $30 an hour. The money would be paid by businesses, civic groups and churches at a time when city finances are stretched thin. The officers would be in full uniform and under the command of police supervisors.

“This is a way to make use of well-trained police officers who are moonlighting doing other things, bringing them back on the street to do what they do best, which is great police work,” Reilly said.

To say this is a bad idea would be to insult bad ideas. Moe Lane provides one answer to “what could go wrong?”

Those would be rented cops, and the difference will become clear the moment that somebody very important from one of those “businesses, civic groups and churches” happens to commit a trivial, surely-not-worth-mentioning, purely technical violation of the law.

Look at it another way: Order in a society such as ours depends on the law being applied equally — blindfolded Justice holding the scales, and such. And that includes the police serving all the public, because, in large part, all the public pays for the police. While we all know there are imperfections and exceptions, the acceptance that this is generally so is important to social order.

Alderman Reilly’s proposal, regardless of his protests otherwise, would break that perception. I don’t care how much anyone might say “they’re still Chicago police and they still enforce the law,” the fact is that their pay will come from individuals, not the public. As Alexander Hamilton said:

In the main it will be found that a power over a man’s support (salary) is a power over his will.

In other words, “You work for me.”

You can imagine what wonders this could work on a society based on the rule of law and its equal application.

That a loony idea such as this can even be floated is indicative of how far down the drain liberal, Blue-model governance has taken a once-great city like Chicago. (Detroit, on the other hand, is at the end of that drain…) The city’s finances are so strapped by out of control pension costs and greedy unions, as well as businesses fleeing high-tax Illinois, that they are having trouble paying for basic services such as police.

Is the next step RoboCop?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mere coincidence: campaign contributions lead to government loans?

March 3, 2013
"Obama loan officer at work."

“Obama loan officer at work.”

Say it ain’t so! “Cause for Action,” which bills itself as a “government accountability” group, took a look at “green energy” loans made by the Department of Energy (1) and found a (not so) surprising correlation between energy companies that made campaign donations and those that were awarded loans (2).

Cronyism in the halls of Chicago-on-the-Potomac? You make the call:

Could the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program  be characterized as a breeding ground for cronyism in the distribution of loans through the 1703, 1705, and Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Guarantee Programs? (3)

Cause of Action was able to determine, through publicly available data combined with a FOIA production, that for corporations who have received a loan guarantee of any amount, the likelihood that it made campaign contributions increases significantly. Of the data available, 95% (.95) of DOE loan recipients with less than $1 billion in annual revenue documented political contributions by the organization or senior level staff. Comparatively, only 31% (.319489) of similarly sized organizations that did not receive loans made political contributions in one way or another.

So, winners who happened to make contributions outnumbered losing donors by more than three to one. As they used to say on Laugh-in, “verrrryyy interesting!”

Now, you’ll note the report does not say to whom the donations went. But, look at it this way: parties that lose elections rarely get to hand out the big bucks.

But only a racist would see cronyism, here.

via Steven Hayward, who has other examples of Green failures.

Footnotes:
(1) Until recently headed by Steven Chu, of Solyndra fame. Those Obama “investments” sure pay off, don’t they?
(2) Also known as taxpayer (that’s us) money either taken from us directly or borrowed on our credit.
(3) That last is, I believe, the program under which electric car-manufacturers Tesla and Fisker got their Green loans. Oddly, principals at both companies are big Obama donors. Small world, eh?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Benghazi — There are still a few genuine reporters left

January 23, 2013
US Consulate, Benghazi

The dead would like answers, too.

Some of you may recall that I’ve in the past praised Sharyl Attkisson of CBS for her work on the Fast and Furious scandal. For a long time, she was almost the only MSM reporter asking serious questions about what happened in that “felony stupid” fiasco

Sharyl’s also been digging into the massacre at our consulate in Benghazi last September 11th, in which our ambassador and three other Americans died at the hands of Al Qaeda-aligned terrorists. While she’s had plenty of questions for the White House, the most transparent administration ever has given no answers. Frustrated with the stonewalling, Attkisson yesterday took to Twitter to ask her questions before the public. Here are is a series of particular interest to me:

Remember that guy who was rousted out of his home by the LA Sheriffs in the dark of the night because he had the temerity to exercise his right to free speech? (Please, the parole violation was just a fig leaf of an excuse, if that.) That’s who Attkisson is talking about.

To continue:

…and…

Love this next one:

And finally…

Naturally, the mooks of Chicago-on-the-Potomac have refused to answer any of these or Attkisson’s other questions.

Secretary Clinton is scheduled to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee today on the Benghazi massacre… assuming she doesn’t have another concussion. I would right a fat check to any congressman on the committee who asked Clinton these questions, refused to let her dodge answering, and demanded to know how, in her opinion, the video maker’s arrest and imprisonment comports with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and his natural right of free speech. (1)

Meanwhile, I’ll continue hoping for more real reporters like Sharyl Attkisson, instead of the progressive cheering section that comprises most of the MSM. (Not that I’ll hold my breath; none of these questions are difficult to think of. The media’s shame is that there are so few willing to ask them.)

via Ace, who has a great post on “old school journalism.”

Footnote:
(1) Again, don’t try to tell me this was all over a parole violation. If you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

UPDATE: Clinton has begun her opening statement — no mention of the video maker’s arrest.  As Bryan Preston concludes, it’s either “stunningly incomplete, if not blatantly dishonest.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Cynical minds think alike, @jimgeraghty edition

January 11, 2013

Writing in today’s issue of his Morning Jolt newsletter (1), National Review reporter Jim Geraghty gave his impression of the deeper meaning of Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence and its likely recommendations:

If I were truly cynical, I would think that the Obama White House would prefer to put forth a package of reforms that was rejected by House Republicans (and a few Democrats) so that every high-profile shooting between now and November 2014 can be blamed on John Boehner and those unreasonable, uncompromising House Republicans.

Nah, they wouldn’t be so callous as to exploit human deaths that way, would they?

Like the sun rises in the East.

Footnote:
(1) Sorry, it’s an email newsletter, so no direct link. But you can subscribe for free! And you should, otherwise the cool kids will all laugh at you.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Peaceful union supporters threaten blood and civil war

December 12, 2012
Democracy, union-style.

Democracy, union-style.

Forget the rule of law. This is rule by fist:

Jimmy Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said Tuesday he expects Michigan unions and lawmakers to break out into “civil war” after the state legislature passed right-to-work bills that would weaken unions’ power.

“This is just the first round of a battle that’s going to divide this state. We’re going to have a civil war,” Hoffa said on CNN’s “Newsroom.”

The Republican-controlled state House passed two bills that had already been approved by the GOP-dominated state Senate. Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, is poised to sign the bill, which would allow workers at union-represented employers to forgo paying dues.

As thousands of protestors gathered at the state capitol on Tuesday, Hoffa called the legislation a “tremendous mistake” and “a monumental decision to make” by outgoing lawmakers in a lame duck session.

“What they’re doing is basically betraying democracy,” he told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. “If there’s any question here, let’s put it on the ballot and let the people of Michigan decide what’s good for Michigan.”

Proponents of the legislation say it gives workers more freedom, while opponents say a less robust union presence will negatively affect workers’ rights. Hoffa also argued that those who don’t pay union dues will be considered “free riders,” as they’re getting the same benefits from union representation without the cost.

Hoffa pointed to Michigan’s recovering auto industry, saying the Wolverine State has bounced back from the recession without being a “right to work” state.

“This is basically a step backward,” he argued.

(CNN via Zero Hedge)

And if anyone knows about thuggery and violence, it’s a Hoffa.

What Jimmy Junior is saying here is, in a nutshell, that the duly-elected representatives of the people of Michigan, acting in accordance with their state’s constitution, have no right to amend the state’s labor laws. Even though there is strong evidence that the people have already spoken. Under the Hoffa theory of democracy, the mob has the vote and the veto, and he who has the biggest, most violent mob wins. The only debate that counts is “me” outshouting “you,” which means I win.

So, shut up or I’ll kill you.

Now, you’d think this attack on constitutionalism, the rule of law, and representative democracy would draw the united condemnation of the state’s legislators, who are sworn to uphold the US and Michigan constitutions.

Think again:

“There will be blood,” State Representative Douglas Geiss threatened from the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives today as the body debated legislation that would make Michigan the nation’s 24th right to work state.

“I really wish we had not gone here,” Geiss continued. “It is the leadership in this house that has led us here. The same leadership that tried to throw a bomb right on election day, leading to a member switching parties, and came in at the 11th hour with a gotcha bill. For that, I do not see solace, I do not see peace.”

This isn’t democracy or republicanism: it’s mob rule. It’s extortion — “Nice state you have there. Shame if something happened to it.” It’s intimidation, using the threat of violence to impose their will. Now, where have I seen this before?

We know why they’re doing this, of course. It’s not because the union leadership and their Democratic allies are worried about workers’ wages and working conditions: right to work states have been shown to have slightly higher wages and better job choices. And most if not all states have workplace safety and worker’s compensation laws on the books. It’s not as if right-to-work will mean a return to a dime-a-day and child labor. They would still have the right, as every worker should, to form a union and press for collective bargaining. And they still would have the right to withhold their labor should conditions not be satisfactory.

No, what the union bosses and their politician allies are frightened of is the prospect of losing the millions they collected in forced exactions (dues) from their members, money which is then funneled to pliant politicians in the form of campaign contributions and other political spending, in return for laws benefiting the unions at the expense of the taxpayers and regardless of the economic consequences to the state.

They fear the end of their kickback racket.

Whatever the noble origins and ends of trade unionism, we’re seeing now the true face of the corruption that’s overtaken it. Faced with long-term decline, perhaps irreversible if left to the free market, they can only maintain their power in places where law compels membership and tribute.

Threaten that, and they promise blood.

RELATED: What is it with union goons and their hatred for Black small businessmen? First it was Kenneth Gladney, beaten by an SEIU mob in Missouri a few years ago, and now they’ve wrecked the business of Clint Tarver, who ran a hot dog cart outside the state capitol in Lansing. Shouldn’t be surprised I guess; unions have a long history (PDF) of racism. If you want to help Mr. Tarver rebuild his business, click here.

ALSO: Patterico on the Stalinist effort by the online Left to whitewash the violence in Lansing and blame the victim.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


OfA shocked -SHOCKED!!- to find vote fraud going on in its offices

October 11, 2012

Following up on this story, I guess O’Keefe’s videos exposing corrupt behavior in ACORN and Planned Parenthood offices have made the DNC/Obama campaign (1) a little… sensitive to pain:

The Democratic National Committee has terminated the employment of Houston, Texas, Organizing For America Regional Field Director Stephanie Caballero after she was caught on camera calling voter fraud “cool” and “so funny” while advising a presumably-liberal voter how to vote twice.

In a comment to the liberal Talking Points Memo, DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell accused James O’Keefe and Project Veritas of selectively editing their videos – but admitted that what Caballero did on his tape was wrong and she’s now been fired.

They obviously haven’t learned the whole lesson, though. You never, ever accuse O’Keefe and Project Veritas of selective editing, because then they release the whole video and, well, the pain gets worse.

Not that I have much sympathy for them. None at all, in fact.

Via Moe Lane, who notes that this is apparently the first in a series of videos.

Footnote:
(1) But I repeat myself.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama campaign staff caught abetting double voting. UPDATE: correction

October 10, 2012

Oh, my. James O’Keefe of ACORN and Planned Parenthood fame strikes again:

James O’Keefe has done it again — this time capturing video of a paid Obama Organizing for America director in Houston, Texas, assisting a double-voting scheme directed toward Florida. In the video, an undercover Obama “volunteer”  tells Organizing for America’s Stephanie Caballero that she wanted to vote twice to help reelect President Obama.

The undercover “volunteer” tells Caballero, “I’m going to vote by ballot and then I have mine here too.”

After the volunteer tells Caballero her plan, Caballero volunteers to help the double voter get the forms to request an absentee ballot in Florida. “I’ll print that out and you just have to mail it back,” Caballero says.

The undercover “volunteer” says, “I don’t want to get in any trouble, but like I said, if no one’s gonna know.”

The paid Obama Organizing for America director’s response: [Laughter] “Oh my God this is so funny! It’s cool though!”

(…)

Later, when the plan to vote twice is put into effect, Caballero coyly and laughingly asks: “Are you going to do what I think you are going to do?” — namely vote twice. When the volunteer says, “Well, if no one is going to know.” Caballero then prints out and gives the forms to the volunteer to vote twice.

Be sure to click through for the video.

The article’s author, former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams, points out the far, far left connections of Ms. Caballero and asks a pertinent question, one posed by O’Keefe himself in the video: What proof is there that this is just, as OfA will inevitably claim, an “isolated incident?”

That’s why we need a large turnout on Election Day — we have to get past the margin of theft, something the Left is all too willing to engage in.

CORRECTION: Thanks to Legal Insurrection, I’ve discovered OfA is not technically the Obama campaign itself, but an arm of the DNC formed by Obama. As Professor Jacobson points out, this is likely a distinction without a difference, but I want to be accurate. And with the DNC out of cash, one wonders if OfA can afford all those extra ballots…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Two photos that should cost Barack Obama his job

September 16, 2012

The first from the ruins of our consulate in Benghazi:

(Click the image for a larger version)

Those are the bloody hand prints of an American, desperately fleeing for his life. They are the fruits of the Obama-Clinton policy of “smart power” and speak more loudly than any words can of the administration’s utter failure. (Courtesy of the Daily Mail via QandO)

Then there’s the home front:

(Courtesy LA Times. Click the image for a larger version)

That is a free man being taken away by police under pressure from an administration desperate to blame anyone but itself for the collapse of its Mideast policy. While he may have violated his parole, he was investigated because his speech made the government uncomfortable. My blog-buddy ST has already vented her outrage; my own feelings are a burning contempt for this open display of Chicago-style thugocracy — Benito nods in approval. And Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, is livid:

When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

He won’t resign, of course. First, the President has the appreciation of free speech that one would expect from a Chicago Machine politician, which is to say, none. Second, he’s not getting any pressure. Indeed, the very press that went crazy over Ari Fleischer’s misrepresented remarks seems far less interested in the actions of an administration that I repeat, literally sent brown-shirted enforcers to launch a midnight knock on a filmmaker’s door.

But Obama’s behavior — and that of his enablers in the press — has laid down a marker for those who are paying attention. By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office. I hope and expect that the voters will agree in November.

Read it all. (h/t Blue Crab Boulevard)

If we weren’t so close to the election, I’d be calling for President Obama’s impeachment for dangerous incompetence and gross abuse of power.

But we don’t need Congress to clean house for us. As Glenn points out, we have an election in less than two months. Send these photos and the linked articles to anyone you know who’s still undecided. Make them aware of what’s happening.

A vote for Obama is a vote for American decline and to entrench “gangster government,” the thugocracy, and liberal fascism.

It’s up to us to put a stop to it.

LINKS: Twitchy — “This is not America.”  In 2008, I and others wrote about Obama’s contempt for free speech. Hey, my fellow citizens, we tried to tell ya…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Dependency Agenda is the Democrats’ Agenda

July 19, 2012

To promote the publication of their latest Broadside, Encounter Books has released the following video that illustrates the real reason behind the welfare state and, especially, Johnson’s “Great Society:” the creation of a permanent class of voters dependent on federal largesse who, in order to keep those checks coming, would also be reliable Democratic voters.

Cynicism, defined:

Think I’m just a foaming at the mouth right-winger? Consider: As the video points out, the so-called War on Poverty not only stopped the decline of poverty in its tracks, it increased it by keeping people dependent. The poverty rate under Obama is the highest it’s ever been since the Census Bureau started measuring it. Welfare reforms passed under Clinton, meant to encourage people to get off welfare as quickly as possible, have been gutted. Food Stamps are no longer a temporary, emergency measure to help the most needy, but something you encourage as many people as possible to get on, even throwing parties to celebrate dependence.

While I’m sure some liberals supported these measures out of a genuine (and genuinely misguided) desire to help people, the real goal is to create a patron-client relationship that will ensure Democratic majorities for generations to come, just as the New Deal did from 1932 to 1994. Or, as LBJ put it, when speaking about his Great Society program:

“I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

Cynical? Nah…

The Dependency Agenda is available in both paper and Kindle formats.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)