TRUMP GIVES LAND BACK TO AMERICANS
Don Surber, April 24, 2017 http://donsurber.blogspot.com
President Trump called for a review
of the last 20 years of land grabs by Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama.
Let me explain.
Presidents use executive orders to declare large patches of lands off limits to development, by designating them as memorials and the like.
For example, Barack Obama declared 1.35 million acres of Utah off limits last December because it is allegedly is an area sacred to a few Indians.
No vote by our representatives in Congress.
Just a lame-duck president with a pen deciding the fate of an area larger than Rhode Island.
That is not who we are. That is how strongmen dictators operate. We can do better than this.
President Trump now plans to review and reverse these abuses of power.
From the Hill:
President Trump will sign an executive order on Wednesday instructing the Department of the Interior to review the designations of national monuments by his predecessors, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Trump’s order reportedly will instruct Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to examine those designations to determine whether they were within the scope of a century-old law that allows presidents to set aside federal lands without congressional approval.
The executive order is mainly geared toward reviewing President Obama’s designation of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah in December, according to the Tribune. The 1.35 million acre site was preserved due to its Native American heritage, but critics say Obama’s designation was an overreach of executive power.
We need to get rid of that century old law.
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By Don Surber, March 17, 2017 http://donsurber.blogspot.com
Mona Charen pronounced Reaganism dead in National Review on April 29, 2016:
“This is the end of Reaganism,” former Senator Tom Coburn, a conservative hero, told me. The three-legged stool of strong defense, small government, and conservatism on social issues has been smashed.
President Trump not only brought it back to life, but bigger and better than ever. His budget proposal builds the military and eliminates 80 unnecessary, ineffective, and intrusive federal programs.
Earlier today, I explained
why the Appalachian Regional Commission must go, because as a West Virginian, I
know what a boondogggle this is.
Bloomberg listed 19 independent agencies and 61 programs within Cabinet offices that Trump wants to close.
There is the African Development Foundation, which Bloomberg said, "Provides grants to community groups and small businesses that help marginalized communities in Africa."
It's a Carter creation that operates in Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
You see any place on that list that is better off today than it was 37 years ago when this agency began? Certainly not Zimbabwe.
There is the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, created 30 years ago it "coordinates with federal agencies to prevent and end homelessness." You know who else was a coordinator? Fred Sanford on "Sanford and Son." Are the homeless better off? Only if they got jobs with this agency.
There is the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program within the Department of Transportation. Obama created it in 2009 to help the nation recover from a recession. That recession is long gone. This program should be gone too.
There is the Community Development Block Grant Program -- the mother of all federal slush funds. HUD gives cities and states $3 billion a year to hand out to politically connected cronies and allies. Many "black community leaders" are tied to a group receiving CDBG money (pronounced "Seedy-B-G money").
There is the EPA's Energy Star program, which has gone so overboard with requiring appliances to be "energy efficient" that washers no longer wash clothes clean.
On paper, these are all nice things to have. But we cannot afford them. Sorry.
The real test is whether Republican congressmen and senators are willing to let their programs go.
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TRUMP TO FIRE HALF THE EPA
By DonSurber@GMail.com, January 28, 2017
The people who have cost tens of thousands of coal miners their
jobs are about to lose theirs.
The Washington Examiner reported that President Trump plans to furlough 7,500 of the 15,000 people at the EPA.
America's air and water is cleaner today than we would have imagined when President Nixon founded it 47 years ago.
So why has the staff tripled?
The leviathan bureaucracy now poses the greatest threat to our environment, as it was responsible for the largest toxic spill in this century when its contractor dumped 3 million gallons of a toxic brew into the Animas River in Colorado two years ago.
From the Washington Examiner:
President Trump is seeking to slash the number of workers at the Environmental Protection Agency by at least half, leaving it significantly gutted as the administration mulls further cuts, the former head of Trump's EPA transition team said Friday.
"Let's aim for half and see how it works out, and then maybe we'll want to go further," Myron Ebell said now that he has returned to his position as director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell left the Trump transition team a week ago.
Let state EPAs take over.
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NAVY SECRETARY: IF
TRUMP ROLLS BACK FEMALE INTEGRATION, THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES
By Jonah Bennett, 12/30/2016 - The Daily Caller - http://dailycaller.com
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said
recently in a December interview that while GOP President-elect Donald Trump can
roll back social change in the military, doing so will make the force weaker.
Mabus, who has served in the position longer than anyone since World War I, has overseen significant social changes in the military and caused a lot of consternation in the process. Now, in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, he’s warning that if Trump rolls back social change in the military, he should admit that it will damage the force.
“You make the decisions you think are right, right now, regardless what you think is going to happen in the future,” Mabus said. “But we are stronger because of this integration. That is undeniably true. So, if it gets rolled back, you’re weakening the United States military. You’re weakening the Navy. You’re weakening the Marine Corps. If that’s what you want to do, okay. But you have to be honest about it.”
Both Mabus and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter have maintained that allowing women entry into all combat roles will make the force stronger, as the move could allow access to a larger talent pool.
During his tenure, Mabus advocated for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which was done away with in 2011. He also moved to triple maternity leave to 18 weeks and established Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs at elite colleges across the country. In an effort to make the Navy more environmentally friendly, Mabus pushed for ships to be fueled with sources other than fossil fuels, though a move toward a blended fuel in 2012 ended up costing the Navy $26.75 per gallon instead of $3.25 per gallon. This price differential attracted the attention of GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, who listed the effort in his report on wasteful spending.
But by far the most controversial move has been the full integration of women into all combat positions–without exception. Mabus willingly involved himself in public spats with Marine Corps leadership over a study the service had conducted showing that mixed-gender units weren’t nearly as effective as all-male units. They outperformed mixed-gender units on 69 percent of tasks.
Mabus blamed Marine Corps leadership for having an improper mindset that he said was the reason why women underperformed. He added that with more training and better leadership, he was confident the gap could be closed.
His very public spats with the Marine Corps prompted calls for resignation by GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter.
“The only way this relationship can be repaired, I believe, is through the leadership of a new Navy Secretary — specifically one who does not regularly make a point to undercut the Marine Corps, distract it from its mission and insult its leaders,” Hunter wrote in January.
Nevertheless, Mabus has hung on to his position and believes he did the right thing for the Navy and Marine Corps.
“I think sort of across the board, there have been a lot of changes,” Mabus said. “But all with one goal in mind, and that’s making us a better Navy, making us a better Marine Corps, making us stronger and more able to do the job that needs to be done.”
“Looking back — I’m looking for the right word,” he added. “I’m very satisfied with where we are. That the changes we have made have, I think, made a difference, and made a difference in the right direction.”
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact email@example.com.
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
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FEDS REFUSE TO DIVULGE RECORDS
OF ASSAULTS ON ORPHANED IMMIGRANT CHILDREN IN THEIR CARE
By Richard Pollock 12/05/2016
Despite reports of rapes and other sexual
assaults, federal officials refuse to divulge any information to the public
about the safety of orphaned Central American children in facilities run by
third-party contractors, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group
Charges of child abuse and sexual assault have dogged the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) since it admitted in a 2014 Freedom of Information Act response to the Houston Chronicle that there were 101 “significant incident reports” of sexual abuse of unaccompanied children in the contractor facilities.
Federal officials with ORR only inspect contracted facilities every three years and depend upon contractors to self-report any crimes. Agency spokesman Victoria Palmer told TheDCNF Friday that ORR officials don’t regularly compile sexual abuse or assault data of the immigrant children living at the facilities, stating, “the statistics you are requesting are not compiled or readily available.”
That drew a sharp rebuke from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican and outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s secretive approach to ensuring the safety of unaccompanied immigrant children held in federally funded facilities managed by government contractors.
“It is both incomprehensible and unacceptable that ORR does not appear to be keeping statistical data about child abuse at its facilities,” Blackburn told TheDCNF Monday. “ORR must pull back the curtains on its operations and provide assurances to Congress that allegations of child abuse at their facilities have been dealt with appropriately.” Blackburn is a vice-chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.
Secrecy has been the center of ORR’s operations under President Barack Obama, which operate within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But Palmer insisted “ORR takes very seriously its legal responsibility to care and shelter children referred by immigration authorities.”
Since 2013, at least 207,000 children have arrived at the U.S. border as “unaccompanied alien children” — ORR’s official designation for them — and are or have been in the agency’s care. But little is known outside of ORR about the conditions the children face inside the facilities.
“The entire program is shrouded in secrecy,” said James Simpson, an author and expert on refugee issues. “They don’t tell you where they are placing them. You don’t know what the process is once the children get there,” Simpson told TheDCNF.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell has not prosecuted a single federal employee for abuse of the immigrant children and claims ORR cannot discipline employees who work for the contractors, even when cases involve violent acts such as sexual assaults.
“There are no ORR employees currently being investigated by law enforcement for sexual misconduct or abuse involving unaccompanied children,” Burwell told Congress in a Feb. 23, 2015 letter to Blackburn, who is also vice-chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Burwell also said contract employees cannot be punished for child abuse, telling Blackburn, “Care workers in facilities for unaccompanied children are not HHS Federal employees, but employees of grantees of ORR.”
The agency relies on local police departments for any misconduct by its contractors, not the FBI, which would investigate abuse by federal employees.
Secrecy isn’t the only problem plaguing ORR, as officials there have dragged their feet on implementing mandated reforms. Congress attached language to the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, requiring ORR to “adopt national standards” to protect unaccompanied refugee children from rape and sexual attacks.
Nearly fours years later, the standards mandated by Congress have still not been issued, and ORR functions under an “interim” rule.
Even if the reforms were implemented, ORR relies on contractors to police themselves and voluntarily report abuses. “ORR requires all care providers to immediately report emergencies and significant incidents that may arise. Care providers also must report appropriate significant incidents,” Palmer told TheDCNF.
The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better since the number of unaccompanied immigrant children pouring into the U.S. is increasing dramatically.
The number of Central American children entering the U.S. without parents doubled from 28,000 in 2015 to 47,000 this year, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson reported Nov. 29.
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
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ONLY ONE WAY FOR THE FBI TO REGAIN ITS LOST
By Bruce Walker, October 10, 2016
James Comey, the crooked political operative running the FBI for the left, has clearly lied to Congress, lied to the American people, and fixed the criminal investigative process to protect Hillary Clinton and her creepy aides from justice. Conservatives have gotten used to the Department of Justice under Obama as simply another organ of leftist activism. Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch have both been abominable heads of the Department of Justice, and several federal judges have indicated as much.
Using federal agencies as tools of political oppression or leftist activism is the best case yet simply abolishing the Department of Justice completely and devolving the enforcement of all federal laws to the fifty state attorney general offices.
In the same vein, one might think we should leave the FBI only for the purpose of supporting state law enforcement efforts with technical support, but that was before the incredible stream of new revelations, never volunteered by Comey and discovered only by insistent probing, that show intimate collusion between the Clinton campaign and the FBI, with sleazy actions so blatantly bad that no serious person can doubt the wrongness of it all.
Physical evidence is destroyed before anyone can see it, though subpoenaed by Congress and possibly containing classified information. Computer systems with classified documents scrubbed clean by private vendors before federal officers know what has been scrubbed. Suspects sit in on the questioning of other suspects, and suspects are given immunity, it appears, for no good reasons at all.
If this presidential election is fixed by an utterly politicized FBI, then the reputation of that agency will never recover. No serious American, in that case, should ever believe anything the FBI tells us about anything at all. If we cannot trust the FBI when powerful politicians are being investigated, then when can we trust it? If the FBI can be influenced by politicians, then it can be influenced by drug lords or crime bosses or crooked billionaires.
There is only one thing, at this point, that can rehabilitate the reputation of a once honorable organization now up to its neck in the muck of influenced investigations and tampered justice. A number of current FBI agents must publicly condemn Director Comey and deplore the deeply disturbing, very unusual actions taken by the FBI in these investigations. This may cost the agents involved their careers, but agents who care about the agency more than their careers will take that risk. These agents ought to explain exactly how this investigation was utterly wrong and how it deviated from normal practices.
Director Comey compelled twentyfive agents to sign nondisclosure agreements, but these agreements cannot prevent these agents from publicly criticizing how politicized the investigation appeared to them.
In fact, this might even be more telling: "We have been ordered by Director Comey to sign nondisclosure agreements, so until he releases us from those agreements, we cannot provide details, but we can say this: the whole thing stinks from top to bottom. Everything about this investigation fails the smell test. If Director Comey will release us from the nondisclosure agreements, we will be happy to say more."
If FBI agents need a model, they might look to the National Border Control Council, which, frustrated by politically correct border enforcement, took the Obama administration to task. These border control agents cared more about America than their careers and used their private association as a vehicle.
There is an FBI Agents Association that represents 12,000 current and retired agents and advocates criminal justice issues to Congress. Members of this private association have 55 different field office representatives in as many cities of the nation. Nothing prevents these field office representatives from signing a letter on behalf of the members in their region condemning the whole structure of this putrid conspiracy against honorable and serious investigation.
Indeed, if this association ever expects Congress or the American people to listen to it, then it is vitally important that it act before the election. The FBI Agents Association, of course, should not endorse any candidate or party, but if it urges funding increases to Congress or changes in criminal laws, it must have credibility. And if it ignores the swollen carbuncle of this scandal within the agency, no one ought to listen to it anymore.
There is this one chance for the FBI to redeem the damage done by Comey. There will be no second chance if Hillary wins because of the cowardice of the Bureau's agents.
Reprinted with permission from the Americn Thinker http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/10/only_one_way_for_the_fbi_to_regain_its_lost_reputation.html 2/3
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THREATEN TO PULL SPECIAL ED FUNDING IF SCHOOL DOESN'T LET BOY IN GIRLS BATHROOM
CASEY HARPER, 06/12/2016
An Ohio school district in danger of losing federal funding over its transgender
bathroom policy has filed a lawsuit against the federal government.
Leigh Moore, a 14-year-old male student who identifies as female, has demanded access to the women’s restrooms, but the Highland Local School District denied. They allowed the student access to the individual staff bathroom, but it wasn’t good enough. The Department of Education sent a letter to the school district at the end of March threatening to withhold federal funding because of the district’s “sex discrimination.” Now, the district has filed a lawsuit to challenge the Department of Education’s threat.
“The school is doing what they are required to do, which is to protect students privacy and safety and they are being penalized for doing what we all expect our schools to do,” Matt Sharp, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal group representing the school, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Moore said the staff restroom was not good enough because he would still feel ostracized.
“Kids were seeing me going in the staff bathroom and they would ask why,” Leigh told The Columbus Dispatch. “I told my mom, ‘I’m ready to start using the men’s bathroom now.’ She told the school and they were, like, ‘Nah, let’s leave him where he is.’ Neither my mom or I liked that.”
The school would lose 1.1 million in federal Title IX funding normally used for things like free and reduced lunches as well as special education. Sharp did predict that if “push comes to shove,” the feds will likely balk and not pull the funding. He pointed to the school’s effort to make an accommodation by providing the staff restroom. The district even opened the staff restroom to other students in the class so Leigh would not feel like an outsider.
“That just shows the radical agenda that is being pushed by the Department of Education,” Sharp told TheDCNF.
The Ohio suit is similar to an Illinois suit where more than 50 families filed suit against a Chicago area school and two federal agencies alleging the school allowed a transgender boy into women facilities after the Department of Education threatened to cut millions in funding.
“Schools have a duty to protect the dignity, privacy, and safety of all students. This is precisely what Highland Local School District has done,” ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell said in a statement. “Despite that, the Department of Education is attempting to strong-arm Highland into complying with a lawless demand to open its single-sex overnight accommodations, locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to students of the opposite sex. The DOE is trying to redefine a federal law that only Congress can change.”
Reprinted with permission from http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/12/feds-threaten-to-pull-special-ed-funding-if-school-doesnt-let-boy-in-girls-bathroom/#ixzz4BTofJCcZ
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STEALS FROM FEDS, USES TAXPAYER-FUNDED LAWYERS
TO FIGHT EVICTION AFTER GETTING CAUGHT
By Luke Rosiak, 4/19/2016
A Department of Housing and Urban
Development employee with two federally funded Section 8 apartments refused to
vacate when she was caught and used a tax-paid civil rights organization to
fight the government’s order to get out.
Markquonda Mathis rented one of the two subsidized units she obtained to her sister, Markquasha, who used it as a second home and to park her Lexus. Mathis faced no criminal or civil penalties even though she lied to federal investigators about the units, one of which was in the District of Columbia and the other in Alexandria, Va.
A 2014 HUD inspector general report made public by The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this month said housing authorities were moving to evict Mathis. That’s when Mathis turned to attorneys from the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, which is supported by the federally funded Legal Services Corporation.
In other words, Mathis was using one government agency to fight another government agency to preserve her right to defraud a third, all while drawing a paycheck from HUD.
In addition to sister Markquasha, Mathis has a second sister named Markeisha and brothers named Marko and Markquez. Marquez has been charged with nine crimes, mainly burglary, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, all of which resulted in no punishment.
A DC housing project employee named Macretia knew that the HUD employee had sublet her apartment to her sister, but did nothing. An Alexandria housing project employee named Marquisha did nothing to prevent Mathis from getting the second unit despite having access to a federal database designed to show double-dipping.
Alexandria housing authority chief Roy Priest said DC officials must have incorrectly entered her name in the database. “When we found out, our attorney moved to terminate her lease,” Priest told TheDCNF April 14. But “she went to Neighborhood Legal Services” for free legal counsel to fight the eviction.
Neighborhood Legal Services’ website says it uses the courts to “secure access to healthcare and public benefits” for the poor–even, apparently, fully-employed government employees who are trying to avoid consequences for deliberately defrauding the government.
Mathis was unsuccessful in her legal battle and was forcibly evicted in December 2014.
Luckily for her, rather than fire her for the fraud and for lying to the inspector general about it, HUD promoted her immediately after being caught. She now oversees millions of dollars in HUD grants as a grants officer dealing with lead abatement. (RELATED: Fed Worker Got TWO Subsidized Housing Units Despite Long Waiting List)
“She was a HUD employee, so that does not look good. To have anyone do it is wrong, but to have someone do it inside HUD is really bad,” Priest said.
But problematic employees are anything but scarce at HUD. Rayland Young, a HUD union president, was given a six-figure payout to secure his resignation after he told his female boss that he would “mop the floor with your ass,” then said a witness who saw the encounter was a KKK member who “should be shot.” Young also said HUD is filled with white supremacists who tried to keep him down by giving him a smaller desk than those given to Caucasian workers.
Two of HUD’s top employees were ordered by the Government Accountability Office to repay their salaries because they prevented a mid-level employee from telling Congress how their superiors intentionally ignored millions of dollars in fraud. But even though it places the agency in violation of the law, HUD has not said it will actually make them do it.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller:: http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/19/govt-employee-steals-from-feds-uses-taxpayer-funded-lawyers-to-fight-eviction-after-getting-caught/
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CFPB BASED ANTI-DISCRIMINATION
SETTLEMENTS ON 'HALF-BAKED' STATISTICS
By Rick Moran, February 8, 2016
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched an anti-discrimination crusade
against banks giving auto loans in 2012 based not on specific complaints by
consumers but on "half baked" statistics according to a story in the New York
In fact, there were no complaints filed with the Bureau at all. Instead, the CFPB issued summary judgments extorting and shaking down banks in an effort to achieve "racial justice."
Newly uncovered internal memos reveal the Obama administration knowingly exaggerated charges of racial discrimination in probes of Ally Bank and other defendants in the $900 billion car-lending business as part of a “racial justice” campaign that’s looking more like a massive government extortion and shakedown operation.
So far, Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reached more than $220 million in settlements with several auto lenders since the agency launched its anti-discrimination crusade against the industry in 2013. Several other banks are under active investigation.
That’s despite the fact that the CFPB had no actual complaints of racial discrimination — it was all just based on half-baked statistics.
A confidential 23-page internal report detailing CFPB’s strategy for going after lenders shows why these companies are forking over millions of dollars in restitution and fines to the government despite denying any wrongdoing.
The high-level memo, sent by top CFPB civil-rights prosecutors to the bureau’s director and revealed by a House committee, admits their methods for proving discrimination were seriously flawed from the start and had little chance of holding up in court. Yet they figured they could muscle Ally, as well as future defendants, with threats and intimidation.
“Some of the claims being made in this case present issues, such as use of [race] proxying and reliance on the disparate-impact doctrine, that would pose litigation risks meriting serious consideration prior to taking administrative action or filing suit in district court,” the Oct. 7, 2013, memo addressed to CFPB chief Richard Cordray acknowledges.
“Nevertheless,” it added, “Ally may have a powerful incentive to settle the entire matter quickly without engaging in protracted litigation.”
They sound just like mafioso plotting to extort money, don't they?
How about some threats to go with the extortion?
At the time, the Detroit-based bank was seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to remain a financial holding company. Without regulatory approval, Ally risked losing key business lines, primarily its insurance subsidiaries.
“Protracted litigation” would present “a high hurdle” to Ally retaining such status, the CFPB lawyers conspired.
"Nice bank ya got there, Ally. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it."
Prosecutors also sought to use the Community Reinvestment Act as leverage against Ally. At the time, the FDIC was reviewing the bank’s compliance with the anti- redlining law.
They huddled with FDIC and Federal Reserve officials to get them on board with their scheme; and the Fed assured them it would look favorably upon “a prompt and robust” settlement by Ally, while the FDIC confirmed that a quick resolution would help Ally pass its CRA exam.
Can you imagine private citizens or companies conspiring like this to extort cash from a bank? The Fed and the FDIC would be indicted as conspirators.
It's amazing to see separate government entities cooperating to wring money from a bank who is very likely innocent of any discriminatory practices, but forced to pay tens of millions of dollars to the government so they can continue to do business.
Government by thuggery is what we get when "social justice" is enforced.
Reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/02/cfpb_based_antidiscrimination_settlements_on_half_baked_statistics.html#ixzz3zall6QDA
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PARIS IS A TREATY, AND THE
SENATE MUST NOW TREAT IT LIKE ONE
By Christopher Horner, 12/14/2015
Despite two weeks of posturing and haggling, negotiations for a
successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol here outside Paris ran, as has been
typical throughout this process, into overtime. Amid the dismantling of much of
the Le Bourget conference center’s elaborate infrastructure, late Saturday
morning, the parties released the final, if annual “historic agreement.”
It is a treaty. The United States is a party. President Obama insists it isn’t a treaty. Whatever you agree to label the deal, it will be held against the U.S. (even before an occasional court) with claims that the terms bind us.
The specifics are a shadow of those in the earlier drafts. Gone is the “International Climate Justice Tribunal.” Also out is troubling language about a new regime (and revenue stream) for processing, management and relocation of displaced persons that — given the massive, existing UN operations in the refugee “space” — likely were a rapid step toward formalizing the idea that all refugees are climate refugees, for which developed countries are responsible for reasons of their industrial development.
Language automatically renewing and escalating every five years the binding vows (by select countries) which the treaty still says “shall” reduce emissions, each time “progressively more ambitious” than the prior, is watered down but remains. The same is true for massive wealth transfers.
About those, Paris does promise a *minimum* of one hundred billion dollars in “climate aid,” which the greens and recipients already decry as a fraction of what they want. So Paris has many in the global warming industry gnashing their teeth, despite that it was never realistic to obtain developed country agreement on an economic suicide pact, particularly (given the climate-refugee idea) as the current Middle East crisis spills over into Europe.
Regardless, this is a treaty, given the mandatory language, level of financial commitment, level of detail, and of course by practice and precedent in this realm — it resembles the 1992 Rio treaty (UNFCCC), which no one dared insist wasn’t a treaty. Indeed, that document, which Paris amends, was ratified with the support of the George H.W. Bush administration and Democrat-run Senate. Both left no doubt that:
“a decision by the Conference of the Parties to adopt targets and timetables would have to be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent before the United States could deposit its instruments of ratification for such an agreement.” Exec. Rpt. 102-55.
Paris includes supposedly mandatory emission-reduction targets and
timetables. Still, there is no requirement, anywhere, that these claim to be
“legally binding” before the Senate must approve them.
As such, and despite putting some of the biggest, shiniest objects of green desire off to the future, the Paris global warming treaty does still purport to bind the U.S. to making more stringent promises every five years.
This will get ugly next time around and in any other fifth year in which a Republican occupies the White House. This was the point, because all parties knew that, in the end, there was no chance of a document formalizing these demands as some mandatory regime.
Despite its collapse from the original dream, Paris is a treaty. As such, it is incumbent upon Congress to reaffirm this to the world: there is no basis on which one may claim they reasonably relied on any U.S. representations here as anything more than a State of the Union speech, things Obama wants Congress to approve, which it probably won’t.
The strangest aspect of the Paris treaty is its marquee achievement of countries agreeing where to set the world’s thermostat. This is an absurd proposition, but observations also show that the computer models projecting lurid warming scenarios are effectively programmed to do so, building in a spectacularly higher sensitivity to the suddenly magical if marginal gas carbon dioxide (also known as plant food).
The UK’s Scientific Alliance shrewdly notes that it is quite possible the Paris negotiators recognized the modeled scenarios are mere computer-generated fantasy, and have positioned themselves to take credit for the warming not coming, which wasn’t going to come. It can thereby “declare that it had saved the planet and there would be little need to confess to undue alarmism.”
President Obama has recklessly sought to bind his country to an agenda it has rejected through the proper democratic process whenever tried, because our process stands in his way.
Paris will still provide a political cudgel, but not the one they were looking for. Still, any pressure on the U.S. to restrict its economy and transfer massive sums of taxpayer money because of the Paris treaty is too much, and the Senate should drive a stake in this folly. Paris is a treaty, and the Senate must now treat it like one.
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/14/paris-is-a-treaty-and-the-senate-must-now-treat-it-like-one/
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AT LEAST 15 US
'CITIZEN TERRORISTS' ARE ALSO LEGAL IMMIGRANTS
By Rachel Stoltzfoos, 11/18/2015
Dozens of the U.S.
citizens arrested in recent years on terror-related charges are immigrants
admitted to the United States legally who later obtained citizenship.
More than 70 U.S. residents have been publicly arrested and charged with conspiring to help, attempting to help, or actually helping terror networks such as Islamic State in recent years. At least 15 of them received U.S. citizenship after being admitted to the country legally, including one of the Boston bombers. (RELATED: U.S. Refugee Chief Didn’t Know Boston Bombers Were Refugees)
Here are five examples.
Two immigrants from Pakistan who later applied for and received U.S. citizenship were convicted of plotting to detonate a bomb in New York City in 2012, and were sentenced to a combined 55 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors accused a Somalian immigrant who became a U.S. citizen of plotting to “go to a military base in Texas and kill three or four American soldiers execution style.” The man had trained with a terrorist group in Syria and was told to return to the U.S. and carry out an act of terror.
An immigrant brought by his family from Kuwait at a young age and later approved for U.S. citizenship killed four Marines in a shooting rampage at two military centers in Chattanooga, Tenn., in July.
A woman born in Saudi Arabia who obtained U.S. citizenship and taught pre-school in Queens, N.Y., was arrested on terror charges in April. She and a friend also living in Queens pledged allegiance to Islamic State and considered bombing a police funeral. FBI raids on their apartments turned up bomb-making materials, including propane tanks and a pressure cooker, in addition to bomb recipes and jihadi literature.
An immigrant from Ghana who obtained U.S. citizenship was arrested in June and charged with conspiring to support a terrorist group after investigators allegedly found he was plotting a terror attack on New York City landmarks in the name of Islamic State.
The Obama administration has ignored a request from Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions for detailed immigration histories of 72 U.S. residents arrested in the past year on terror-related charges.
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2015/11/18/at-least-15-us-citizen-terrorists-ar
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TRASHING LAND, THE EPA HAS NOTHING ON THE FOREST SERVICE
By William Perry Pendley, 9/02/2015
Americans now comprehend fully
the disdain the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has for truth-telling, the
rights of others, and the environment. Forget the last six spiteful years; the
Colorado mine disaster suffices. The EPA’s wanton malfeasance — experts warned
of a catastrophic blowout — unleashed three million gallons of orange arsenic-,
cadmium-, and lead-laden wastewater into an Animas River tributary trashing
public, private, and tribal lands and waters in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and
the Navajo Nation. Even so, the EPA has nothing on the U.S. Forest Service.
In documents filed days ago in a federal district court in Arkansas, the agency and its lawyers demand dismissal of a $5 million lawsuit against the United States for decades of tortious use and abuse of a Scot-Irish family’s farmland settled one hundred years before the Ozark National Forest’s creation made the Forest Service the family’s neighbor. Worse yet, Conner Eldridge, the United States Attorney for Arkansas, argues that, because the Forest Service trespassed upon Matthew McIlroy’s farm for years, the government owns the land! The assertion, which has no factual or legal support, is asinine, absurd, and in conflict with an admonition of the Supreme Court of the United States.
In 1808, Mr. McIlroy’s family left Tennessee, crossed the Mississippi River, and homesteaded south of the Ozark Plateau’s Boston Mountains and north of the Arkansas River at Fly Gap, Beech Grove, and Cass. Arkansas Territory was established in 1819; Arkansas won statehood in 1836; and the million-acre Ozark National Forest, which surrounded the McIlroy farmland, was proclaimed in 1908.
In 1933, Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and put a camp in the Ozark National Forest near Cass. After World War II, the CCC was discontinued, but in 1964 the newly created Job Corps took over the site. Soon, Mr. McIlroy’s grandfather, W.C. McIlroy, discovered Job Corps students trespassing on and littering his property, damaging his fences, and destroying his hay; his objections went unanswered. In 1971, W.L. McIlroy took over the farm and noticed the Forest Service had drilled a well on his property. He protested, but agency officials said the well was on federal land, a lie repeated for decades.
In 1973, unbeknownst to W.L. McIlroy, the Job Corps used heavy equipment to tear down a 100-year old levee built upstream of the farm at the confluence of Mulberry River and Fane’s Creek to protect the farm and the Jobs Corps site. The result was flooding and erosion downstream, alteration of the bed of Mulberry River due to silting and deposits of eroded rock, and destruction of 10 acres of farmland. The Forest Service’s “mitigation” exacerbated the damage, widening the channel across the farm.
In 1998, when Mr. McIlroy took over the farm, he discovered a section of fence had been flattened and a sewage effluent line installed over it and across 50-60 yards of farmland to discharge waste into Mulberry River. Then he found out the agency: put a “temporary,” quarter-mile water line across his land that blocked entry to his farm; used the water well — even though a federal survey proved it was on the farm; brought heavy equipment onto the farm to blade dirt and drag drainage ditches; built a service road across the farm to access the well and the sewage effluent line and poured concrete on the road when it eroded; used the farmland for heavy equipment training — digging down to creek rock, causing serious erosion, destroying fences, and loosening livestock; and, dumped concrete and construction waste on its property near the farm, effluent from which washed onto the farm.
The Forest Service documented its “encroachment” but took no action. In 2013, Mr. McIlroy filed a claim that the United States ignored, so in October of 2014, he sued. As his case makes its way through the courts, he wonders whether his clansmen in William Wallace’s days ever saw greater abuses by “the King’s men.”
William Perry Pendley, an attorney, is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and author of Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today (Regnery, 2013). MSLF represents the McIlroy family.
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
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NOT YOUR FATHER'S 14th AMENDMENT
By Jon N. Hall, August 22, 2015
On August 19, two excellent, mustread articles ran on the Net that are sorely needed correctives to a common misunderstanding about the 14th Amendment. Unfortunately, this mistake is made even by certain legal professionals who should know better.
Human Events ran “Fox News Anchored in Stupidity on 14th Amendment” by Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter explains the original intent, history, and case law surrounding socalled “birthright citizenship.” Coulter makes a compelling case that the children born to illegal aliens on American soil were never intended to be granted automatic citizenship by the 1868 amendment:
The anchor baby scam was invented 30 years ago by a liberal zealot, Justice William Brennan, who slipped a footnote into a 1982 Supreme Court opinion announcing that the kids born to illegals on U.S. soil are citizens. Fox News is treating Brennan’s crayon scratchings on the Constitution as part of our precious national heritage.
(Is Brennan’s footnote an actual holding, or is it mere obiter dictum?)
One quibble: Coulter is a bit unfair to Gov. Chris Christie. Christie actually told Greta van Susteren the other day that we need to look at the 14th Amendment “through a 21st century lens, not through a 19th century lens.” I mentioned this in a blog last week, noting that Christie “delves into subjects other candidates seem afraid of, like the ‘birthright citizenship.’” If you watch Christie’s Fox News segment, you can position the video at the 8:15 mark to hear him on the 14th. (Of course, Coulter would say the problem isn’t the 14th Amendment; it’s that stupid footnote.)
The other mustread article appeared at National Review: “Trump’s Critics Are Wrong about the Fourteenth Amendment and Birthright Citizenship” by Edward J. Erler, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute. I’m not going to tell you everything that’s in these articles, as they should be carefully read in their entirety. But I must quote Erler on the following point:
No one is advocating that those who have been granted birthright citizenship be stripped of their citizenship. Equal protection considerations would counsel that citizenship once granted is vested and cannot be revoked; this, I believe, is eminently just. The proposal to end birthright citizenship is prospective only.
That “prospective only” point is important, as it should calm fears about revocation of citizenship already conferred.
Also on August 19 at Independent Sentinel was “Can Birthright Citizenship Be
Overturned Without A Constitutional Amendment” by S. Noble, as well as a
must-view segment on Fox News’s Hannity that featured Mark Levin (“The Great
One” is always bracing).
Many conservatives are all up in arms about talk of repealing the 14th Amendment. But as Ms. Coulter writes, clarifying the language in the citizenship clause wouldn’t require an amendment; it could be done by Congress with a simple law. She cites the liberal Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to back that up. Erler makes the same point: “A constitutional amendment is no more required today than it was in 1923.”
Were one of Osama bin Laden’s pregnant wives to scramble across the border and give birth, her child would be an American citizen according to the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Does that sound like a sovereign nation to you?
If we do not destroy the magnets to coming to America illegally, such as the current policy on “birthright citizenship” that spawned “anchor babies,” we’ll never get control over who gets to be an American. If we destroy the magnets, we may not need to build a 2,000-mile wall. If we don’t destroy the magnets, no wall will protect us.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.
Reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/08/not_your_fathers_14th_amendment.html#ixzz3jZ27u0iC
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OYSTER FARMER: 'WE ARE TERRIFIED' OF THE GOVERNMENT
By Michael Bastasch, 4:53 PM 04/29/2015
The National Park Service used
falsified data to shut down an 80-year-old oyster company in Point Reyes, Calif,
its owner claims.
Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We are terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.
“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”
Lunny made this statement in response to a question by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador asking whether or not Lunny felt like there could be consequences from his testimony against the National Parks Service.
Even Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman admitted that in the rush to get rid of industry from Point Reyes, government officials and environmentalists “overstated” evidence that Lunny’s farm was harming the environment.
“No one has apologized,” Lunny said.
Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located in Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, where it has been for decades. Point Reyes isn’t your typical national park because it was created to preserve the historic coastline where people have been settled since the Gold Rush. It was never intended to be a major tourist attraction like Yellowstone.
For decades the Park Service had a good relationship with the oyster company, but that all changed in the mid-2000s. All of the sudden, NPS officials started blaming the company for an 80 percent decline in the local harbor seal population. Officials also blamed Lunny’s farm for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero.
But all of these accusations against Drakes Bay Oyster Company turned out to be completely false. The National Parks Service lacked any scientific data to back up its claims that the company was killing seals and hurting the local environment. In fact, studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Health Department showed the Parks Service was completely wrong.
NPS, however, didn’t stop there and kept making false claims against the oyster company.
“The Park Service misrepresented that study,” Lunny said. “They instead attempted to demonstrate harm by substituting data from a sixty-year-old study conducted at the Sea of Japan and attributing it to our farm.”
“For example, in assessing the noise impact of our small outboard motor boats, the Park Service, rather than measuring our boats on our soundscape [as required], instead used the measurements from a seventy-horsepower, 700cc Kawasaki jet ski in New Jersey,” Lunny added.
Lunny appealed to higher ups at the National Park Service for help in the matter and to correct the record on false statements made by the agency, but he got no help from the government.
“The local Park Service staff were not willing to correct the false claims, so we went to the Regional Director,” Lunny said. “No help there. Then we went to the Park Service Director, and finally the Secretary of Interior. No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us, or to at least correct the record and stop the false accusations.”
The Interior Department’s own inspector general even found misconduct by agency officials and that they misrepresented facts. But even so, the inspector general was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.
Eventually, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm closed its doors because of the litigation and regulatory actions taken by the federal government.
“What the Park Service did to our family was unconscionable,” Lunny said. “This polluted legacy of false science has tainted our dealings with state and federal agencies, and has resulted in unnecessary regulatory and legal action against our family and our farm.”
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/29/oyster-farmer-we-are-terrified-of-the-govt/
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'DO NOT DISCLOSE’:
Obama Admin Tells Banks To Shut Up About Its Targeting of Consumers, Gun Dealers
By Patrick Howley, an investigative reporter for The Daily Caller. 1/28/2015
The Obama administration’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is
threatening banks to be silent about the administration’s new programs
supervising and investigating private bank account holders.
A shocking bulletin that CFPB issued to banks, which was obtained by The Daily Caller, was sent around this week in the midst of controversy regarding the administration’s Operation Choke Point program, by which the administration pressures banks to cut off accounts for supposedly suspicious businesses, including gun dealers. Operation Choke Point’s anti-gun mission was recently confirmed in a series of audiotapes published by the US Consumer Coalition, in which a bank teller explained to a gun dealer why his account was being shut down.
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] issues this compliance bulletin as a reminder that, with limited exceptions, persons in possession of confidential information, including confidential supervisory information [CSI], may not disclose such information to third parties,” the bulletin states.
“‘Confidential information’ means ‘confidential consumer complaint information, confidential investigative information, and confidential supervisory information, as well as any other CFPB information that may be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act pursuant,” according to the bulletin.
Even non-disclosure agreements are invalid according to the CFPB’s effort to suppress information.
CFPB states that “private confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements neither alter the legal restrictions on the disclosure of CSI nor impact the CFPB’s authority to obtain information from covered persons and service providers in the exercise of its supervisory authority.”
Good thing President Obama’s Dodd-Frank Act gave CFPB vast powers to enforce this kind of information-suppressing.
“Many supervised financial institutions became subject to federal supervision for the first time under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act [Dodd-Frank Act]. Pursuant to authority granted under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB has issued regulations that govern the use and disclosure of CSI. The CFPB expects all supervised financial institutions to know and comply with the regulations governing CSI.”
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller.
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US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SHUTS DOWN MAJOR ASPECT OF ITS CIVIL FORFEITURE PROGRAM
CONTACT: Institute for Justice, John Kramer, (703) 682-9320 ext. 205 -- January 16, 2015
Arlington, Va.—Marking an
important shift in federal law enforcement policy, U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice’s adoption
program—which permits state law enforcement agencies to turn seized properties
over to the federal government for forfeiture—will be suspended.
But the Justice Department policy does nothing to limit the widely used and sweeping power of the federal government, or joint federal and state task forces, to seize Americans’ property based on nothing but suspicion.
“This important change in policy will strengthen protections for property owners who stand to lose their cash, cars, and other property without being convicted of or even charged with a crime” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading legal advocate against civil forfeiture. “But it is essential that greater protections for property owners must follow at the federal level and in the states to ensure that Americans are no longer victimized by civil forfeiture.”
The announcement by Attorney General Holder follows a growing wave of criticism and outrage about the government’s forfeiture practices. Federal legislation that would sharply curtail the federal government’s civil forfeiture program, including adoption, was introduced last session and is expected to be introduced again soon.
Under civil forfeiture laws, law enforcement can take property suspected of involvement in criminal activity without convicting or charging the owner with a crime. At the federal level and in most states, agencies involved in the forfeiture, including prosecutors and police departments, can keep some or all of the proceeds for their own use.
Today’s announced policy would stop the process of adoption, where state and local officials use federal law to forfeit property without charging owners with a crime and then profit from those forfeitures, regardless of whether those forfeitures are permitted under state law. But the new policy leaves open a significant loophole, as state and local law enforcement can still partner with federal agents through joint task forces for forfeitures not permitted under state law, and state and local law enforcement can use such task forces to claim forfeiture proceeds they would not be entitled to under state law. Moreover, the federal government can still pursue its own civil forfeiture actions, where property owners face very significant burdens. And the policy does not change state forfeiture laws, many of which burden property owners and permit policing for profit.
IJ is the nation’s leading legal advocate against civil forfeiture. IJ launched its initiative against civil forfeiture in 2010 with the publication of its path-breaking report, Policing for Profit. That report first exposed the federal government’s pernicious practice of equitable sharing and adoption procedures. IJ’s initiative against civil forfeiture consists of cutting-edge court battles on behalf of property owners facing civil forfeiture, strategic research, and grassroots activism calling for ending or radically changing civil forfeiture law. In 2014, IJ launched EndForfeiture.com, a wide-ranging online initiative to educate and activate citizens and legislators to fight civil forfeiture.
“Civil forfeiture should not exist in a country that values the principles of private property rights and due process,” said Chip Mellor, IJ’s President and General Counsel. “Now is the time to enshrine today’s policy change into the law and to pass further reforms to ensure that no American loses their property without being convicted of a crime.”
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IS IT TIME
FOR AN ANTI-FEDERALIST PARTY?
By Bruce Walker, December 4, 2014
No wise and serious American, whatever his notional ideology, trusts the federal government. This fact is often lost in the dust and wind from that gaggle of pundits whose relevance depends upon every issue of life being controlled by an all-powerful central government. In American politics and government, the problem, of course, is Washington, and most Americans find Washington as arrogant and stupid as American colonists found London in 1776.
Is it time, then, for an Anti-Federalist Party? Such a party or movement need not prescribe the proper response from government to different issues, except that an Anti-Federalist Party would insist that whether government ought to respond to these issues and how government ought to respond to these issues should be decided by state governments and ought to reflect the wishes of the voters in the states.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The more power concentrated in Washington, the more hopelessly corrupt Washington becomes. This is surely a message that would resonate with the overwhelming majority of Americans. This is reflected in the dramatically different approval ratings given to governors and senators. While constituents tend to dislike and distrust their states’ senators, the same constituents generally like and trust their state governor. Voters perceive that a remote and insulated federal government is a festering source of waste, incompetence, and venality.
There are three reasons why this popular view is sensible. First, state governments are close to the people. State legislators actually live in their districts, which may be hundreds of miles from the state capitol. Almost any voter can sit down and visit with his state legislator. Second, people can leave badly run states; this sort of internal migration of Americans is a constant process of the marketplace of governments. Third, state governments cannot print money and cannot run deficits.
Anti-Federalism has firm roots in American politics and government, and it includes many great Americans like Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and George Mason. The Bill of Rights was intended as a check on federal power, not state power, because Americans can leave states that are tyrannical but cannot leave the clammy embrace of federal power...except by leaving America.
A political party based upon Anti-Federalism need not insist on the best national policy toward gay marriage or minimum wage, but rather that the voters in each state ought to be able to elect politicians who reflect their position on those issues. This quietly resolves much.
Abortion prior to Roe v. Wade was regulated by state laws, and these state laws varied. Some states allowed abortion. There was no raging national conflict about abortion forty years ago, and social conservatives were not agitating for a federal law against abortion. Was abortion murder? What constitutes “murder” or even criminal homicide has always been defined by state laws, which vary from state to state.
Prohibition, as a federal design for dealing with the social problems of alcoholism, failed miserably, but prohibitions on alcohol in states where those bans reflected what people wanted largely worked. The changes in prohibition laws came only when voters in those states wanted the change.
It is the nationalization of standards that often creates the problem. Anti-Federalism is the tonic.
The message of Anti-Federalism to voters in states with differing cultural values is simple: do you want the voters of your state to decide policy, or do you want federal politicians making those decisions? Politicians represent states, and which politicians can face voters and say that politicians from other states are better judges than they are for what is good for their state?
Anti-Federalism also taps into the simmering anger voters feel toward both political parties at the national level. It allows us conservatives to tell Vermonters, Hawaiians, and Marylanders that we are happy to support their greater independence from Washington if they will support our greater independence as well.
What form might Anti-Federalism take? The heart of it ought to be reasserting the Tenth Amendment, which states clearly that state governments retain all powers not clearly given to the federal government. The method of insuring that could include individual state legislatures directly choosing presidential electors rather than delegating that task to voters. The Seventeenth Amendment, the “reform” of directly electing senators, ought also to be repealed.
The beauty of Anti-Federalism is that it all about the process of government and not the substance of policies. Almost everyone agrees that Washington is broken. Here is a way to fix the process, by returning most of government back to the states.
Reprinted with permission from the American Thinker http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/12/is_it_time_for_an_antifederalist_party_.html
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AMERICA, 2014: THE LAND OF ENTITLEMENTS
By David Long, September 12, 2014
run an employee benefits company that focuses on helping small business owners
with medical and other health benefit plans for their employees.
Earlier this week I had lunch with a CPA client of mine to talk with him about increasing the number of his small business clients who provide medical insurance plans to their employees. Everything I recount herein is from him; I am not making this up.
His answer and the reasoning behind his answer were stunning to me. In my naivety, I hadn’t even dreamed that I would hear anything like what he was about to tell me.
He explained that essentially, his clientele comprises Spanish-speaking business owners, almost all of whom employ essentially 100% Spanish speaking workers. They own firms such as restaurants, gardening services, custodial services, small grocery stores, painting companies, trucking companies, and so on. But, he said, most of their employees who work only 20 to 30 hours a week, with only a very few who work the full traditional “full time” 40 hours a week. As a result, my CPA client said, nearly all of his clients, the business owners, don’t feel an obligation to provide benefits to these “part-time” employees.
When I asked why they had mostly part-timers instead of full-time workers, he explained that the employees don’t want to earn too much money, or else they’ll lose their government benefits.
They like getting free things like food stamps, a housing allowance, MediCal insurance (California’s government subsidize medical care for low income people), and the like. They would rather earn less and get the entitlement programs for free than work longer hours, make more money, and have to pay for their own food, housing, insurance, and so on.
He shook his head, admitting that he found it a little embarrassing to be telling me this, and said that it was a sad commentary on the way our country operates these days. But, he pointed out with a shrug, if these people worked a full 40 hour week yet had to pay for all the things that they now get for free, they’d end up in pretty much the same financial position as they are now – but they wouldn’t have all the extra time to just lie around resting, doing nothing.
I was speechless. “Are you kidding?” I asked him, but he assured me that he was not.
“They’d rather get stuff for free and spend more time kicking back or hanging out with friends for most of the day than work all day long and end up with no real increase in their standard of living.
“Getting everything for free is a whole lot easier than working for it,” he finished.
I guess the people he was talking about have a very different “American Dream” from what my great-grandparents had when they came to America in the late 1800s. A sad commentary on how our nation is being run here in the 21st century.
Reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://americanthinker.com/blog/2014/09/america_2014_the_land_of_entitlements.html
THE SLEEPER CASE
THAT COULD BUST OPEN THE IRS SCANDALS
By Thomas Lifson, June 27, 2014
In the absence of a special
prosecutor, the best opportunity for piercing the veil of secrecy and evasion
that surrounds the IRS handling of groups perceived as enemies of the Obama
administration lies in civil litigation. The National Organization for Marriage
has just obtained a $50,000 settlement from the IRS for its criminal release of
confidential donor information to an opposition group. But so far Eric Holder’s
Justice Department is not pursuing inquiries into who feloniously released that
The absence of any official judicial inquiry into the inner workings of the IRS processes is why it is so important to note that yesterday saw the beginning of the discovery phase in the lawsuit by Z-Street a pro-Israel organization that was told its application for tax exempt status was being delayed because:
…these cases are being sent to a special unit in the DC office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.
Z-Street’s lawsuit alleges unlawful viewpoint discrimination, a First Amendment claim. The IRS tried several arguments to dismiss Z-Street’s lawsuit, all of which were dismissed by Washington, DC federal district court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, an Obama appointee. She noted that Z-Street was not suing to gain tax exempt status, but rather over the viewpoint discrimination evidenced by what it was told by IRS agent Diane Gentry about contradicting administration policies – the process by which the IRS made the determination on tax exempt status. In the words of the Jerusalem Post:
The Z Street case may be what forces the IRS to pull aside its carefully constructed curtain and reveal how it made decisions regarding organizations deemed out of step with the current US administration.
Judge Jackson gave the IRS
until June 26 to respond to Z-Street. That deadline has now passed, so the case
enters discovery. This means that Z-Street can subpoena IRS officials, place
them under oath, and ask them questions about how they acted, and cross examine
them closely. They can also subpoena documents and require their production.
This is much different than a House committee hearing in which members have only
a few minutes to ask questions, and when friendly Democrats have their
opportunity to apologize for the impertinence of daring to ask questions of our
IRS masters. Depositions taken under oath can last many hours and involve
What makes the Z-Street case unique and potentially extremely damaging is that its lawsuit was filed in August 2010. That filing placed the IRS under legal obligation to preserve records. The Wall Street Journal’s Review and Outlook column explains:
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and legal precedent, once the suit was filed the IRS was required to preserve all evidence relevant to the viewpoint-discrimination charge. That means that no matter what dog ate Lois Lerner's hard drive or what the IRS habit was of recycling the tapes used to back up its email records of taxpayer information, it had a legal duty not to destroy the evidence in ongoing litigation.
In private white-collar cases, companies facing a lawsuit routinely operate under what is known as a "litigation hold," instructing employees to affirmatively retain all documents related to the potential litigation. A failure to do that and any resulting document loss amounts to what is called "willful spoliation," or deliberate destruction of evidence if any of the destroyed documents were potentially relevant to the litigation.
At the IRS, that requirement applied to all correspondence regarding Z Street, as well as to information related to the vetting of conservative groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were delayed during an election season. Instead, and incredibly, the IRS cancelled its contract with email-archiving firm Sonasoft shortly after Ms. Lerner's computer "crash" in June 2011.
In the federal District of Columbia circuit where Z Street's case is now pending, the operating legal obligation is that "negligent or reckless spoliation of evidence is an independent and actionable tort." In a 2011 case a D.C. district court also noted that "Once a party reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its routine document retention/destruction policy and put in place a 'litigation hold' to ensure the preservation of relevant documents."
The government's duty is equally pressing. "When the United States comes into court as a party in a civil suit, it is subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as any other litigant," the Court of Federal Claims ruled in 2007. The responsibility to preserve evidence should have been a topic of conversation between the IRS chief counsel's office and the Justice Department lawyers assigned to handle the Z Street case.
The potential destruction
of evidence, by becoming a separate tort, opens the door for judicial inquiry
into the IRS destruction of evidence. Armed with subpoenas and able to examine
and cross examine people under oath, Z-Street has the potential to bust open
what really went on at the IRS.
Strangely enough no major media outlet covered the opening of the discovery phase of this case. Only Gretchen Carlson of Fox News had the wit to notice, and interviewed Lori Lowenthal Marcus, head of Z-Street (and an AT contributor).
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/06/the_sleeper_case_that_could_bust_open_the_irs_scandals.html
LEMONADE LESSONS: THE TEA PARTIES ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
By Janie Johnson, 10/14/2010
What the New York Times
and so many other liberal institutions do not realize is that all of this recent
political fuss is not about the Tea Parties or the Tea Party members. It is not
about the rallies, the signs, the undocumented accusations of off-color or rude
or politically incorrect comments, the Tea Party leaders (or lack of same), the
candidates they support, or even the candidates they oppose. These are all just
symptoms of a much larger frustration and anger.
These political protests are about the people of our nation learning or relearning about our founding principles of limited government (anti-big government), increased individual liberties, fiscal responsibility, free market capitalism, our constitutional republic form of government, and self-reliance for those who have the physical and mental capacity to be self-sustaining.
The Tea Parties are critically important, but there are many more of us who support these principles than will ever go to a Tea Party event. The Tea Parties are just saying out loud that which we are thinking.
We the people, like Tea Party members, are rereading the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Some of us are even reading the Federalist Papers and other writings of our founding fathers. We are studying the long history of big-government failures across time and geography. And we are recalculating the balance we want and need between government “support” and control versus individual liberty and opportunity.
We the people are shocked that anything like 47% of our citizens pay no federal income tax. We all want to help and support those truly poor and needy people, but no one thinks that 47% of the people of America fall into those categories. We the people are dumbfounded and confused as to how Congress and the president can pass and sign a bill that two-thirds of us do not support. Many of us can understand the perception that our economy might have been on the brink of destruction if we allowed our financial system to fail, but very few of us know if the level of government intercession was actually needed, and many are more than just a little skeptical.
But even if some portion of the financial rescue was needed, more and more of us now feel this bailout mentality has spread too far. We are beginning to see that it was not General Motors that was bailed out; it was their union (United Auto Workers). We are beginning to see the bottomless money pit of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored entities designed by Congress to maintain liquidity in the mortgage markets). We are realizing that too much government is often more dangerous than too little government.
We the people are opening our eyes to exactly what “redistribution of wealth” means. It does not just mean taking money from the well-to-do and giving it to the poor; it means taking money earned honestly in the free marketplace and giving it to the politicians or the political supporters of the takers. It is making elected politicians and government employees a preferred class.
We understand just what our elected politicians mean when they talk of “the sausage making” of our legislative process. We now know that they are referring to backroom bribes and payoffs to buy votes, political arm-twisting designed to get the weaker of our political representatives to abandon their principles, and the political bookkeeping chicanery and gimmicks used by Congress and the Administration specifically to keep our citizens confused and in the dark as to our government’s real costs and liabilities.
They hide favors to political constituents and campaign contributors in 1,000-plus-page bills and 70,000-page tax codes that even they do not read. They purposely mislead the public about the content they do understand but do not want to discuss. They use powerful poll-tested words such as fairness and social justice to rationalize taking from one group of Americans to give to a more favored (by them) group.
The Tea Parties and their members may represent the sharp end of the stick, but Tea Parties are just the tip of the iceberg. The more that “we the people” understand why our founders chose to limit government and maximize individual liberties, the more rebellion there will be against progressivism and the more powerful the Tea Parties will become. The more our citizens understand the day-to-day workings and everyday failures of our government, the more they will fear expanding it.
There is a place for government (i.e., in defense of our country, police and the court system, protection of our God-given rights, etc.), but there are many places where government does not belong. As “we the people” become more educated in the political process, the Tea Parties will grow, and we will demand more transparency and a far different brand of representation.
Janie is the author of Don’t Take My Lemonade Stand – An American Philosophy.
Article printed with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
OBAMA'S PLAN TO SNATCH YOUR
By Jeffrey Folks, December 5, 2013
In his first term, Obama managed to get his paws on health care,
banking, energy, student loans, the auto business, and more. Now he has his
sights set on your 401(k).
The left has had its eye on retirement savings for years, but so far takeover attempts have been rebuffed. One egregious attempt was the proposal, following the 2010 financial crisis, to "safeguard" retirement savings by requiring that they be rolled over into Treasury bonds. Had this legislation succeeded, it would have appropriated all or part of the retirement savings of millions of Americans. The funds would have been used to finance further expansion of government. In return, savers would have received a promissory note from the federal government similar that issued by the Social Security Trust Fund.
Needless to say, most investors were not keen to convert their savings into Treasury obligations -- or, to be more precise, into an unsecured note promising a return approximating that of Treasury bonds. That is because, as with every other endeavor, government's management of retirement savings (aka Social Security) has been a disaster.
Those who believe that Social Security has done a good job of investing their savings are greatly mistaken. Over the past 200 years, the real, inflation-adjusted return of the U.S. stock market has been 7%. Had one invested $100,000 in the U.S. market in 1802, one's total return after inflation (or that of oneself and one's descendants) would have been more than $100 billion. By comparison, investment in government Treasury bills would have yielded approximately $50 million. (Figures are extrapolated from John C. Bogle's Common Sense on Mutual Funds.)
Despite its 2010 failure to take over retirement savings, the left has not given up. As reported in WND, officials at the U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments continue discussions aimed at channeling private savings into Treasury obligations via a so-called "Automatic IRA." Once it has forced workers and employers to contribute to Automatic IRAs, and eventually forced existing savings into government obligations as well, government would control much of the investment capital in America. The free market will cease to exist.
Perhaps in support of that goal, Dodd-Frank legislation of 2010 established the Office of Financial Research (OFR), which recently issued a report suggesting that mutual funds may pose a risk to financial stability. At several points in the report, the authors suggest that many aspects of the financial system are not at present highly regulated and that the risks of these unregulated private transactions are unknown. The implication seems to be that greater government scrutiny is called for.
Once it is established that mutual funds pose a risk to financial stability, government will likely proceed on its merry way, with thousands of pages of regulations bringing those funds, and the savings they manage, under the thumb of government. It is only a short step from regulation to appropriation, whether by seizure via regulation or by mandating an investment in "safe" government obligations.
OFR is a bureaucracy charged with the task of sniffing out systemic risk and passing along its findings to the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). The chairman of that august body is none other than Jacob Lew, Obama's secretary of the treasury. This is the same Jacob Lew who was employed as chief operating officer at Citigroup Alternative Investments (CAI) during the financial crisis. CAI reportedly incurred significant losses during the financial crisis. As COO of that division of Citigroup, Lew would not seem to be an ideal candidate to chair a committee on Financial Stability -- much less the person to be put in charge of America's retirement savings.
It is of course a travesty to suggest, as Dodd-Frank did, that the private sector needs strong regulation in the first place. It was not Wall Street that was responsible for the housing crisis and subsequent global financial crisis; it was government. Beginning with the Clinton administration and its allies in Congress, government forced financial institutions to extend subprime loans to undocumented borrowers in the name of affordable housing. Now those same regulators want to seize your retirement savings on the pretext that government can more wisely manage risk.
What actions will FSOC take once it has determined that private savings via mutual funds and other accounts comprise a "systemic risk"? Presumably, it will lend support to the attempt to convert at least part of those savings into "less risky" government obligations. Those savers will receive an extremely risky promise of a return of capital with little if any appreciation. Meanwhile, over the course of decades, during which their private capital would otherwise have been compounding at higher rates, their savings would be "put to work" to fund the expansion of government via mammoth welfare programs designed to secure votes, further takeovers of the economy, and the wholesale extinction of liberty.
That is the reality, I believe, behind the innocuous-sounding Office of Financial Research and its report on the supposed risk to the financial system underlying mutual funds. It is an important cog in this administration's insidious scheme to destroy capitalism and convert America into a socialist state.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books on American politics and culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2013).
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/12/obamas_plan_to_snatch_your_savings.html
TROUBLING SIGN OF
INCIPIENT NATIONAL SECURITY TYRANNY
Thomas Lifson, November 12, 2013
Tyrants will not stand for being mocked, and by that indicator, the lavishly-funded national security apparatus of the United States is rending tyrannical. From Judicial Watch:
The feds have threatened to criminally prosecute a novelty store owner who sells products-such as "Department of Homeland Stupidity" coffee mugs-making fun of the U.S. government. Could this be a matter of national security, or that Uncle Sam simply lacks a sense of humor?
To poke fun at the National Security Administration (NSA) the merchant, Dan McCall, sells T-shirts with the agency's official seal that read: "The NSA: The only part of government that actually listens." Other parodies say "spying on you since 1952" and "peeping while you're sleeping." The designs may seem funny-and possibly represent reality-but to the government it's no laughing matter. In fact, it's a serious issue worthy of an investigation and legal action.
The NSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quickly fired off "cease and desist" letters to the website that sold the products, threatening litigation and criminal prosecution if the parody designs weren't immediately removed. The agencies claim the parody images violate laws against the misuse, mutilation, alteration or impersonation of government seals. The intimidating communication scared the website enough to remove the items, but McCall isn't going down without a fight.
First of all, the parodies
are pretty damn funny. While perhaps of no legal relevance, at a practical
level, it makes a difference. Second of all, this reveals a mindset of the
senior bureaucrats that is very disturbing indeed. Now that we know the National
Security Agency is collecting every telephone call and email we make, and that
the Department of Homeland Security is free to grope us and inspect our nude
images when flying, we have every reason to fear abuse. Knowing that the
potential abusers will not be mocked is seriously scary.
It sounds to me like McCall has an excellent case:
In a federal complaint filed this week he claims the government is violating his First Amendment right because the special statutes protecting the NSA and DHS seals from misuse can't properly be applied to forbid parodies. McCall says his images make fair use of the NSA and DHS seals to "identify federal government agencies as the subject of criticism." Therefore it's unconstitutional for the government to forbid him from displaying and selling his parodies to "customers who want to display the items to express their own criticism of NSA and DHS," according to his complaint.
Furthermore, McCall is not mutilating or altering the agency seals, but rather using them in a parodic form that doesn't create any likelihood of confusion about the source or sponsorship of the material. No reasonable viewer is likely to believe that any of the materials is affiliated with or sponsored by the DHS or the NSA, the complaint says. "Nor were the seals affixed to the items to be sold with any fraudulent intent."
In short, the merchant claims that the First Amendment protects his use of the NSA and DHS seals to identify truthfully the agencies that he is criticizing. The two agencies at the center of this brouhaha most certainly have bigger fish to fry. So does the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency that has threatened to prosecute the mug and T-shirt creator.
Hat tip: Charles Lipson
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/11/troubling_sign_of_incipient_national_security_tyranny.html
GOVERNMENT REDISTRIBUTES MORE THAN $2 TRILLION IN ONE YEAR
By Patrick Howley On 10:48 AM 11/11/2013
effectively redistributed more than $2 trillion in income from the top 40
percent of American society to the bottom 60 percent in 2012, according to a new
study from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.
The study tracked the beneficiaries of government spending programs largely paid for by taxpayers who are not very big beneficiaries of those programs.
Families in the top 1 percent shouldered nearly half of the more than $2 trillion that was redistributed last year.
The study found that the country’s lowest-income families receive $5.28 in government spending for every $1 they pay in taxes. Highest-income families only receive back 25 cents in government spending for every dollar of taxes they pay.
“So little time, so much to redistribute,” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joked at the Al Smith Dinner during the 2012 election, referring to President Barack Obama’s economic worldview. According to the Tax Foundation, the joke was on people like him.
Article reprinted with permission from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
I WILL NOT COMPLY
By Matthew May, September 30, 2013
Like most members of the Congress that passed it and, undoubtedly,
the president of the United States who signed it, I have not read the entirety
of the ill-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet there is one
aspect concerning that legislation of which I am certain: I will not comply.
I will not comply because I am a free citizen of the United States, not a subject of its government. I consider non-compliance with this monstrosity and the tens of thousands of pages of regulations that are to be enforced by an unelected bureaucracy, and that have left a gigantic carbon footprint on our environment and the United States Constitution, a duty.
Non-compliance is my executive order, and that order reads in part that I do not recognize any government's claim on my action or inaction in the marketplace, nor upon any personal information I am unwilling to divulge.
I will not submit to a cabal who read George Orwell's 1984 not as a terrifying warning, but as an instruction manual. Nor will I submit to the dictates of those who attempt to trample the right of free speech of others in the halls of government who are warning us about the looming tyranny. I refer to those sons of liberty who, as Camus wrote, "are not all legitimate or to be admired. Those who applaud it only when it justifies their privileges and shout nothing but censorship when it threatens them are not on our side."
If (when) the IRS or HHS or any other such entity attempts to extort a tax or fee of any kind for not participating in mandated commerce, they will be met with resistance. I will not pay any such tax or fee.
I live in Massachusetts, where, once upon a time, a spirit of resistance and independence animated much of the citizenry. But many here have devolved from the shot heard round the world to sheltering in place. Not I -- nor many of my fellow Bay Staters, who are outnumbered but undaunted.
Refusing to comply with the dictates of an illegitimate law that is selectively enforced, and from which the privileged few are exempted, is not, in the annals of American history, brave or difficult. Those who refuse to comply are not barefoot in the snows of Valley Forge, crying out in agony at Gettysburg, or rushing the cockpit of Flight 93. While there will be consequences to civil disobedience in defiance of oppression, any difficulties can be and will be overcome.
We are, however, drawing a line that the forces of repression, socialism, and tyranny must not cross. Some might even color the line red. Yet unlike a certain other, this red line is immovable. I yield nothing on the plane of freedom. I will not take any small step that is, in actuality, one giant leap backward to the darkness we thought we had vanquished.
Who is with me?
Matthew May welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/09/i_will_not_comply.html
MYTH OF A RUNAWAY AMENDMENTS CONVENTION
By Rob Natelson, August 29, 2013
Founders bequeathed Americans a method to bypass the federal government and
amend the Constitution, empowering two thirds of the states to call an
Amendments Convention. In the wake of Mark Levin's bestselling book, The Liberty
Amendments, proposing just such a convention, entirely unnecessary alarms have
been raised by even some of the leading lights of conservatism, based on an
incomplete reading of history and judicial case law.
Phyllis Schlafly is a great American and a great leader, but her speculations about the nature of the Constitution's"convention for proposing amendments" are nearly as quaint as Dante's speculations about the solar system. Those speculations simply overlook the last two decades of research into the background and subsequent history of the Constitution's amendment process. They also ignore how that process actually has worked, and how the courts elucidate it.
The Founders provided, in Article V of the Constitution, for a "convention for proposing amendments." They did this to enable the people, acting through their state legislatures, to rein in an abusive or runaway federal government. In other words, the Founders created the convention for precisely the kind of situation we face now.
Mrs. Schlafly doesn't think we know much else about the process. She writes, "Everything else about how an Article V Convention would function, including its agenda, is anybody's guess."
But she's wrong. There is no need to guess. We now know that:
The "convention for proposing amendments" was consciously modeled on federal conventions held during the century leading up to the Constitutional Convention, when states or colonies met together on average about every 40 months. These were meetings of separate governments, and their protocols were based on international practice. Those protocols were well-established and are inherent in Article V.
Each federal convention has been called to address one or more discrete, prescribed problems. A convention "call" cannot determine how many delegates ("commissioners") each state sends or how they are chosen. That is a matter for each state legislature to decide.
A convention for proposing amendments is a meeting of sovereignties or semi-sovereignties, and each state has one vote. Each state commissioner is empowered and instructed by his or her state legislature or its designee.
As was true of earlier interstate gatherings, the convention for proposing amendments is called to propose solutions to discrete, pre-assigned problems. There is no record of any federal convention significantly exceeding its pre-assigned mandate -- not even the Constitutional Convention, despite erroneous claims to the contrary.
The state legislatures' applications fix the subject-matter for a convention for proposing amendments. When two-thirds of the states apply on a given subject, Congress must call the convention. However, the congressional call is limited to the time and place of meeting, and to reciting the state-determined subject.
In the unlikely event that the convention strays from its prescribed agenda (and the commissioners escape recall), any "proposal" they issue is ultra vires ("beyond powers") and void. Congress may not choose a "mode of ratification," and the necessary three-quarters of the states would not ratify it in any event.
Contrary to Mrs. Schlafly's claim that "Article V doesn't give any power to the courts to correct what does or does not happen," the courts can and do adjudicate Article V cases. There has been a long line of those cases from 1798 into the 21st century.
"But," you might ask, "Will the prescribed convention procedures actually work?"
They already have. In 1861, in an effort to prevent the Civil War, a convention of the states was called to propose a constitutional amendment to Congress. Congress subsequently deadlocked over the amendment, but the convention did everything right: It followed all the protocols listed above, and it produced a compromise amendment. Although the convention met in a time of enormous stress, this "dry run" came off well, with none of Mrs. Schlafy's speculative "horribles."
In any political procedure, there are always uncertainties, but in this case they are far fewer than predicted by anti-convention alarmists. And they must be balanced against a certainty: Unless we use the procedure the Founders gave us to rein in a "runaway" Congress, then Congress will surely continue to run away.
Rob Natelson, Professor of Law (ret.), The University of Montana, taught constitutional law and constitutional history, and currently serves as Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute. He is a widely-published scholar on the Constitution and on the amendment procedure, and several Supreme Court opinions have relied on his work. For his biography and bibliography, see http://constitution.i2i.org.
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/08/the_myth_of_a_runaway_amendments_convention.html
LERNER'S BIG MOUTH
Thomas Lifson, July 11, 2013
Lois Lerner is a nasty piece of work, and one aspect of her arrogance could well be her undoing. She enjoyed wielding her power so much that she boasted about it, and in doing so in a 2011 interview with Business Week, she conceded a point that could be used to prove criminal culpability. Patrick Frey, who writes Patterico's Pontifications, uncovered the incriminating crowing:
A reader sends a very interesting tidbit buried in a November 17, 2011 Businessweek.com article about the IRS and not-for-profit universities. The article is about the IRS making inquiries into "whether schools improperly claimed tax-exempt status for taxable businesses." At the end of the article is this fascinating quote:
Lois Lerner, the IRS's director of tax-exempt organizations who is overseeing the investigation, says many schools are rethinking how and what they report to the government. Receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS, she says, is a "behavior changer."
Frey provides a timeline, noting the bragging took place months after the initiation of the targeting of conservatives and tea parties. Ed Morrissey explains the implication in the Fiscal Times:
The targeting of conservative groups by the tax-exempt unit Lerner ran also used the "thick questionnaire" tactic, which Lerner brags is a form of intimidation. An entertaining timeline of the IRS targeting scandal compiled by Freedom Works, which supports and trains Tea Party activists and groups, shows Lerner found out about the targeting by June 27, 2011 at the latest, and had initiated an audit of the office and its "be on the lookout" (BOLO) list used for the targeting.
That resulted in a broader BOLO being put into use, and five months later,
Lerner is bragging about the "behavior changer" effect of IRS demands for
extensive information. Targeting continued well into 2013, and most of the
groups that applied for tax-exempt status dropped those requests, or never
The acknowledgement that IRS questionnaires change behavior could indicate conscious intent in the harassment of tea party and conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status. That paves the way for a potential criminal conviction. Lerner is currently demanding immunity in order to testify, having invoked the Fifth Amendment. Her bargaining leverage has just collapsed. If Lerner finds herself facing potential criminal prosecution, her tongue may loosen on its own. There are much bigger fish than this unpleasant woman, and she strikes me as the kind who would find life in the slammer unacceptable. She'll be looking out for number one.
John Hinderaker of Powerline notes:
...the salient point is the bullying attitude: never mind the merits, a "thick questionnaire from the IRS is a behavior changer." And that was in a magazine interview! It makes one wonder what else Lerner may have said in unguarded moments.
Exactly. Let the crowd-sourcing of Lerner's braggadocio begin!
Page reprinted from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/07/lois_lerners_big_mouth.html
ARE YOU WILLING TO DIE FOR
By Shane Clark, June 15, 2013
Before we even got the
whole picture detailing exactly how widespread the government's phone tracking
efforts were, we were hit with news of the NSA PRISM program. The details are
still being uncovered and debates and questions concerning both programs abound,
but the most important question doesn't concern the leaker, the morality of
leaking, the consequences of living in the information age, or the efficacy of
The most important question in this new world of electronic Big Brother is not new at all. It is simply this: Are you willing to die for your freedom?
The unstated notion through all of the discussions I have heard is that we have to be safe, we have to have these or similar programs to keep us safe. I reject that unquestioning philosophy. The government has a responsibility to protect us, yes, but the entire reason we instituted the federal government was to secure greater liberty. Our safety is not the only concern that must be satisfied, our liberty must also be protected.
The trade-off is not as dramatic as it was for the veterans throughout our history. We do not have to choose between death and freedom, but merely between dramatically-decreased freedom -- a much-altered relationship between government and citizen (or subject) -- on the one hand or restoring freedom at the cost of a very slightly increased threat of death on the other.
Why is the risk slight? Because it's not as if this is the only program possible to counter acts of terror. Repealing this program and the notions of government that enabled it will not destroy our security. We've had security and counter-terror programs before this, and we have other programs and agencies working overseas and abroad to keep us safe even now. There have been failures under the old system and failures under this new program. Most of those failures, be they 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing, stemmed not from a lack of intelligence but from political correctness -- not following up even though the terrorists paid cash one way with no luggage, were from countries of heightened risk, made six-month trips abroad, were mentioned specifically by foreign intelligence organizations, etc.
We should not expand government's reach into, and power over, our lives. Moreover, every one of the last several terror attacks have been lone wolves with no affiliation to Al-Qaeda. How many phone calls does a lone wolf need to plant a bomb or start a forest fire somewhere?
I'm willing to die for my freedom. I'm certainly willing to take the slightly-increased risk of dying in a terrorist attack that ostensibly will result from the government not sifting my email and monitoring all my calls and banking activity and who knows what else.
At this point, I'm becoming convinced it's not worth it. We're groping children and Korean War vets in airports as part of an expensive show of security. We're teaching our kids to put up with government intrusion into our lives. On my most recent flight, I saw a father help his 5-year-old son remove his shoes and show him where to put them, how to remove his belt, how to wait his turn, how to go through security and comply with routine government searches.
It's not worth the toll on our freedom and our veneration of freedom. Proper understanding of freedom is learned, not inherited, and we are poisoning the next generation's conception of the relationship of the government and the individual. We must end the constant expansion of government power and kill the idea that government can and should expand at will.
We also are among the casualties in this war. This struggle is bigger than terrorism; it is an ideological struggle against the West and terrorism is merely the preferred method of those engaging us. But if it's an ideological struggle and we are casualties in the war, perhaps in a way we also are combatants. We fight when we defend freedom and liberty in our culture.
It's been said that the object in war is not to die for your country, but to make the other guy die for his. The soldier merely has to be willing to die in pursuit of that effort. In this new, distributed struggle, it is not our responsibility to die for our freedom, only perhaps to maintain the full measure of our natural liberties and be willing to die in that pursuit.
The soldier can easily avoid dying in battle by never going into battle in the first place, by violating his commission and honor and brothers and giving up all that he is. A free citizen may avoid being the victim of terrorism, but at similar cost.
My great-grandfather exited his Higgins boat onto Omaha Beach in the second wave on D-Day. He and those around him waded through the blood and floating remains of the first wave of soldiers, facing the screams of the dying, taking the beach amidst mortar, sniper, machine gun, and artillery fire. Shouldn't we be willing to do the same? Isn't freedom cheap even at that high a price? We do not face any danger potentially harmful as what they charged into. So facing so much less, should we give away our liberty?
Revolutionary General John Stark wrote "Live free or die." It is now the state motto of New Hampshire. Do we believe it any longer? I want to have the autonomy that includes privacy, freedom from arbitrary and warrantless government searches, freedom from being a child the government nannies in every way. I want to live free, and if that means a world in which I have an increased chance of dying, I gladly accept that. As General Stark's complete toast stated: Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.
Page reprinted from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/06/are_you_willing_to_die_for_your_freedom.html
DOES THAT GIBSON
GUITAR RAID MAKE MORE SENSE NOW?
posted on May 26, 2013 by Jazz Shaw, www.hotair.com
An editorial at Investors Business Daily may wind up being filed under how did I miss this one? Following the recent revelations of cases where the administration appears to have used the muscle of the federal government to go after its political enemies, IBD takes a walk down memory lane to the strange case of Gibson Guitars and the federal raids on their facilities for alleged illegal importing of exotic woods used in their products. They reach one provocative conclusion.
The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another targeting by this administration of its political enemies…
Interestingly, one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain “East Indian Rosewood,” which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson’s guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?
Well, let’s see… maybe C.F. Martin was getting their supplies from a properly regulated source? No. Did they fill out some forms that Gibson forgot to submit? No… so what could it be?
Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.
“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted,” Juszkiewicz said at the time, adding the matter “could have been addressed with a simple contact (from) a caring human being representing the government. Instead, the government used violent and hostile means.”
The end of that story was a travesty, with Gibson being forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in a settlement where there was no finding of criminal action just so they could get back to business. At the time of the judgement, our own Mary Katharine Ham covered the story and found a lot wrong with it, but even she didn’t seem to suspect this situation. And in retrospect, it doesn’t seem all that surprising.
While all this was going on, there was plenty of reason to suspect that there was politics of some sort involved. With Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, it didn’t seem much of a stretch to think that the eco-warriors were in full throated, chest thumping mode and they would be pushing the limits to show how much they were doing to save the planet. The Gibson story, with its hook of endangered forests and evil manufacturing giants stripping the land, was a perfect fit. But I don’t think many of us imagined that even the Obama administration would be so blatant as to simply launch a police state style attack on a company which supported their enemies while leaving friendly, Democrat donating competitors alone. Or at least I didn’t.
Is this paranoid, tinfoil hat territory? I assure you that Obama supporters reading this will declare it to be exactly that. But given what we’ve been finding in the news recently, is it really that far fetched? Not any more.
CREATING DEPENDENCY, ONE
MOUTHFUL AT A TIME
By Robert Weissberg, April 4, 2013
number of Americans receiving "free" government benefits has soared, and this
expansion seems unstoppable even as the economy recovers (see here and here).
Less obvious than the depressing numbers is how this assistance inculcates a
dependency inimical to a free people. The culprit is not free food, subsidized
housing, and all the rest per se, though these certainly do not help. After all,
Americans have always received government help during tough times, but this aid
scarcely undermined the spirit of independence. Nor is the growing national debt
the guilty party. During World War II, for example, government borrowed
billions, yet nobody spoke of this liability as breeding hopeless dependency.
The culprit is how these benefits are distributed. It is their non-contingent, open-ended character that breeds destructive pathologies. It is these traits that separate today's munificence from past generosity, and this element is all too easy obscured by burgeoning costs.
In a nutshell, receiving a temporary handout that depends on doing something worthwhile is wholly unlike receiving the identical assistance sans any obligation and for however long as the recipient remains legally eligible.
To illustrate the pernicious character of today's largesse, consider the school free lunch program. It is only one of several food programs; others include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (commonly called food stamps), the WIC program for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and NSIP, which provides food for the elderly. Administrative details aside, all share common traits.
Free school lunches started small shortly after WWII to reduce government surplus milk and cheese. The program has, predictably, exploded in size and scope, far beyond what population increase would require. A "mere" 2.9 million youngsters ate free school lunches in 1969; by 2012, that number was up to 18.7 million, and about two-thirds of all school lunches were now "free" (that figure was 15% in 1969).
Like the waistlines of many youngsters, the mission creep is ongoing. There are free breakfasts, after-school free snacks, and summer meals for those who qualify. Youngsters in non-profit schools and "migrant" sites are also eligible. Uncle Sam, obviously, is evolving into Aunt Samantha.
Paralleling mission creep have been user-friendly eligibility requirements. A youngster qualifies if his family falls below 130% of the poverty line ($24,817 in 2012 for a mother and two children), but -- and this is a big but -- all government benefits except cash welfare benefits are excluded when calculating income. So Junior eats free even if Mom received food stamps, subsidized housing, and all the rest.
To appreciate this historical shift, consider how billions of children long grasped how one gets fed. Children typically see a connection between parental work and what appears on the table, and unemployment means cheap food or no food. Children may have once heard parents complaining about their jobs, but kvetching never hinted of quitting and permitting the family to go hungry. Moreover, at least in my family, special-occasion meals entailed telling guests about slaving away in the kitchen and the untold hours shopping to make the meal a success. And to drive this point home, Junior might have been conscripted to help wash dishes.
Conversely, when income rose, steak may have replaced hamburger, and perhaps the family enjoyed a once-a-month visit to Red Lobster. In a thousand ways, the work/food link became indelible.
This connection is especially apparent with those personally acquainted with agriculture. Here even children might pitch in, and the labor/eating link is always on people's minds due to the vagaries of weather, pestilences, civil unrest, and multiple other disruptive factors. Daily prayers thanking God for His bountifulness are predictably ubiquitous.
Within well-off families, Junior's meals are usually contingent, never guaranteed. Good school grades may bring a special treat. Bad behavior, on the other hand, can mean no dessert or being sent to bed famished. Not finishing one's plate could mean having it again served the next day. Eating can also bring lectures about the need to finish everything since children in Africa are starving or about the sin of wasting food.
Charity, including government help, in the past linked getting fed with doing something -- usually some effort at self-improvement. Myron Magnet in his overview of past charity is explicit. "[Charity] abhorred the idea of dependency, it aimed to make its beneficiaries self-sufficient[.] ... Traditional American charity, therefore, stressed the attitudes and skills of personal responsibility." Ironically, even successful beggars know that something more than lamely holding out a hand is necessary.
Even religious people who believe in "the will of God" as the source of their bountifulness must do something -- live the righteous life, pray daily, or sacrifice a goat -- to warrant His generosity. Refusing to honor Him risks famine, so being religious is a serious "job," and woe to slackers.
Now compare what transpires in today's school lunch program. First, the historic connection between earning a living and eating is now reversed. If an ambitious mom spends extra hours on her job, the entire family may become ineligible for Washington's food programs, including Junior's gratis lunches. Idleness, not industry, now puts bread on the table. No wonder that after years on the dole, paid employment is viewed as something for chumps -- it is, and rationally so.
Nor can the school withhold food for any reason other than a documented change in parental eligibility. Uncle Sam's bounteousness, unlike Mom's, is non-contingent -- just show up and get fed, guaranteed. As the Declaration of Independence might put it, free government-supplied food is now an unalienable right (might America now possess a Declaration of Dependence?). The recipient can sass his teachers, sleep in class, play with his broccoli, and otherwise misbehave in ways that would certainly draw swift parental rebuke, but schools are powerless. Imagine a cafeteria worker who refused to feed Junior because of his disruptive behavior. Lunch room monitors who scold youngsters for toying with their veggies risks reprimand or even termination (so, as usual, the bad person becomes the "victim"). This volunteered well-intentioned reproach may even be deemed "abusive."
It should come as no surprise that millions of Americans are hardly shamed by relying on Aunt Samantha for their daily bread. Dependency is almost the new normal. Those who cherish the spirit of independence should take heed. Future entitlement reform requires more than tightening eligibility or cutting benefits. Restoring contingency is essential: beneficiaries must do something to "earn" government's generosity -- e.g., keeping a tidy house or fixing Junior a healthy lunch. Without this link, millions will come to believe that Washington is an all-providing God that demands nothing but self-inflicted poverty to bestow His/Her/Its blessings.
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/04/creating_dependency_one_mouthful_at_a_time.html
During my five years working inside government, I
saw that easily 15% of the federal budget could be cut, with no reduction in the
output of government services, benefits, activities, or useful functions. In
fact, quality should actually improve in many instances from reducing
unnecessary complication, red tape, duplication, and burdensome procedures.
Could the USA collapse during 2013? Our country is facing a disaster that most citizens, politicians, and journalists scarcely grasp. It could be next week. It could be next month. What if investors simply choose to stop loaning Uncle Sam any more money?
Every week, the U.S. Treasury borrows money to keep operating, by holding auctions of "T-Bills." Institutional investors, foreign and domestic, show up to bid on these government bonds (Treasury Bills).
What if investors decide that it just isn't worth risking any more of their money? There won't be any money. Even when the country still looks strong, investors could sit on the sidelines, worrying: "Let someone else take the risk."
If the lending stops, can the country survive when the Ponzi scheme collapses? What if there is no money to cut social security or Medicare checks, or operate the government? What will be America's national defense if there is no money to feed or pay our troops, no money to put fuel in our ships in foreign ports?
I had a bird's eye view of waste and inefficiency as a management analyst in the Management Improvement Service at the U.S. Department of Education. I saw the problem across many federal departments and agencies. I helped organize government-wide management improvement conferences. At MIS, we were trying to implement nationwide initiatives such as Reagan's Productivity Improvement Program (PIP), OMB Circular A-133 (TQM), and OMB Circular A-76 (competing bids with the private sector). The bureaucracy resisted. Political leaders didn't help.
I saw that 10% and very likely 20% of all government spending could be slashed, both administrative and programmatic, and nobody would ever notice in terms of the results produced by the government. But structural changes would be required...which is partly why Reagan failed at controlling the budget.
Our Productivity Improvement Branch, led by Gordon Rairdin, explained to a manager in the Office of Postsecondary Education what President Reagan and George Bush had ordered all government managers to do. The Productivity Improvement Program was mandatory to streamline operations and cut costs. (It was never implemented.)
The manager stared at us like we were aliens from Mars. He had no interest in streamlining his office; he couldn't care less what the President had ordered. He had spent years making his office as mysterious and incomprehensible as possible, to increase the number of employees and protect the office from the politicals. And here we were, telling him how to simplify things! He ignored and disregarded the president's orders and refused to implement the program.
Congress must change the incentives of federal managers. When bonuses depend upon results, suddenly bureaucrats hustle like entrepreneurs. The assistant secretary running OSERS under Lamar Alexander modified the performance evaluation standards for all OSERS civil service managers. Managers could not qualify for their annual bonus without meeting her targets for "audit resolution." Suddenly, OSERS managers became obsessed with achieving the assistant secretary's targets.
Congress must prohibit consideration of the size of an office's budget and number of employees when setting a manager's salary. Currently, managers are rewarded for complicating the bureaucracy and expanding it. The more an office spends and the more employees it has, the higher the grade level and the bigger the salary of the manager or executive. The more unnecessary complication, the less accountability there is to elected leaders who won't understand things.
I also worked in the Executive Office of OBEMLA. I helped prepare the budget submission and congressional budget briefing book for the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs. Ronald Reagan and Secretary William Bennett had won a change in the law to encourage English language proficiency in public schools. So OBEMLA argued that our office needed two more program officers to implement the new law.
However, when our office was granted two more slots (FTEs), the director diverted those two slots to a new research division. The assistant secretary (in substance) had promised the research director a grade increase. The personnel office would not approve his higher grade level unless he had more employees to manage. The executive officer and I fumed privately. The payroll budget had been bloated simply to give one manager a much smaller raise.
Later, I oversaw development of a computer system (CARS). The contractor SYSCON billed USDE for a senior level computer programmer. However, SYSCON back-filled a young woman who had not yet graduated from college, when the initial programmer got a job at SHAFE in Brussels. So SYSCON was billing for a senior-level programmer, but paying peanuts for a college student to do the work, and pocketing the difference between what the company had promised the government and what it actually delivered.
Because this very pleasant young woman was still learning, it took her perhaps five times as many hours to do the work as a senior programmer would have required. So the number of hours billed skyrocketed, and the project funds were quickly depleted. SYSCON billed USDE for "change requests" for not doing work right the first time. I don't think CARS was ever finished correctly.
But most revealing was the reaction: nobody cared. I reported the waste and over-billing to the budget office, after the Grants and Contracts Service and information technology office failed to act. The most incredible part is that nobody was interested that money was being wasted. I reported the abuse to relevant congressional committees. Again, no response. More telling than any specific example was that wasted money didn't arouse any attention.
My experience in the system leaves me with no doubts on this issue: in official Washington, waste, fraud and abuse are seen as normal.
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2013/01/the_real_country-killer_in_2013.html
PROPOSED REARVIEW CAMERA
MANDATE WOULD COST UP TO
$57.2 MILLION PER LIFE SAVED
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to require cameras on all new vehicles to save 26 to 69 lives
By Tom Gantert, Oct. 5, 2012
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it hopes to complete a rule
that would require rear view cameras in the back of vehicles, which could cost
as much as $57.2 million per life saved.
Equipping all vehicles with the rearview camera with interior mirror display would cost between $1.1 billion to $2.57 billion and is estimated to result in 26 to 69 "total fatalities avoided," according to NHTSA documents.
"On a costs-benefits analysis, this makes no sense whatsoever," said Shirley Ybarra, a senior transportation policy analyst for the Reason Foundation. "I'm sorry when people back over their children. In terms of costs, however, this is just ridiculous. This is just another example of the Obama nanny-state."
Magna Electronics Technology Inc. in Grand Blanc Township is getting local and state tax incentives to produce the rear view camera technology. The company received a five-year, $2.1 million deal in 2011 with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Magna Electronics plans to invest $64.8 million over the next five years in Michigan to expand the plant in Grand Blanc Township. Magna is the largest manufacturer of rear view camera technology in the country.
In addition to the issue about tax dollars being spent, many have questioned how far federal authority will reach when mandating laws if the threshold is to save a few dozen lives.
For example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 20 children per year drown in buckets. Other groups estimate the annual deaths of people in buckets at 30. But should the federal government outlaw buckets?
Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said mandating motorists wear helmets in vehicles would save many more lives than a rear view camera.
"It's not about saving lives," Drolet said. "The cost is going to encourage some people to drive a less safe automobile. People will drive less safe cars for longer because they can't afford the 'regulation-mobile.' If it were about saving lives, you'd have to be able to measure how many lives are lost by people driving older cars. You are feeding the political process and lobbying process that created this regulation. They are the clear winners. There are tragedies that happen all the time. They are terrible. But tragedies make bad laws."
BIG BROTHER'S BAN ON INCANDESCENT BULBS? BUY A HEATBALL!
Selwyn Duke, December 30, 2011
This is just too good.
Many of you know that in a few days the federal ban on conventional incandescent light bulbs will go into effect. And while House Republicans included a provision in a recent spending bill that will block funding for the ban's enforcement, it's said that it will have little effect; manufacturers have prepared for the new standards and will no doubt abide by the law. So does this mean we'll be forced to buy more expensive LED (light emitting diode) or CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, the latter being those squiggly things said to be loaded with mercury? Not if we follow the lead of German businessman Siegfried Rotthaeuser.
After the European Union banned conventional incandescent bulbs, Rotthaeuser's entrepreneurial spirit was sparked. He started selling another product: heatballs.
What's a heatball? According to this Teutonic Knight of Freedom and Light, it is a "small heating device" that compensates for the loss of heat a home experiences when conventional light bulbs are swapped for more energy efficient ones.
At his English-version website, Rotthaeuser points out the convenience of his invention, writing, "A HEATBALL® is not a light bulb, but fits into the same socket!"
He then touts the new product as "The most original invention since the electric light bulb!" and explains, "Although a heatball is technically very similar to a light bulb, it is a heater rather than a source of light." Elaborating, he also states, "By using heatballs, the heating effort of a normal house is effectively assisted. A heatball is a source of heat. Or do you use your toaster as a desk lamp?"
A businessman with a conscience, however, Rotthaeuser also believes in truth in advertising. He thus is forthcoming about a certain unintended byproduct of his heating element, writing, "During its use as a heater, HEATBALLS have an unavoidable emission of light in the visible spectrum." Pity that. But if heatballs are anything at all like incandescent light bulbs, they should be very efficient little space heaters, indeed.
So maybe you believe that the ban on conventional incandescent bulbs is far afield from the government's rightful scope; perhaps you fret about how such a regulation is blatantly unconstitutional when instituted by the feds. If so, I can't help you. But if you have a tropical plant or pet hamster that needs a space heater - or if you simply want to save on oil or gas used for heating during the winter - buy some HEATBALLS®.
And, hey, something just occurred to me. With heatballs' unintended byproduct of light, you just might be able to forego buying those LED and CFL bulbs.
Contact Selwyn Duke
PROMINENT DEM: DEMS NEED TO
'GET REAL' ON ENERGY
Thomas Lifson, November 30, 2011
Another defection from the gospel of renewable energy, and it's a biggie: no less than the head of the Brookings Institution's energy initiative. Brookings is the most prestigious of the liberal think tanks in Washington, and carries considerable weight in elite media and political circles. Charles K. Ebinger writes in the LA Times:
Let me say upfront that I have always been a Democrat. However, I also vote my conscience and have supported independent candidates. Today, energy policy is one area where I think my party is wrong. (snip)
Today's Democratic leadership has reached a nadir in rational energy policymaking. In the last several years, congressional party leaders have squandered opportunities for a nuclear waste management storage program and have shown opposition to shale gas production. This month, the party reached a new low: The Obama administration's delay of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, in spite of its promise of an additional 750,000 barrels of oil per day and the thousands of new jobs it would create, was an inexcusable political decision unbecoming of a pragmatic leader.
The former generation of Democratic legislators would have embraced the energy opportunities before the United States today. Whoever is president in 2013, it will be the first time in 40 years that the United States has a serious chance to transform its energy landscape. The previously accepted inexorable decline in U.S. oil and gas production is being reversed: New "tight oil" - resources trapped in low-porosity formations such as shale rock - could provide the country with several million barrels of oil per day in the coming decades, and the country's abundant and accessible shale gas reserves may leave us gas independent for up to a century. There also are still conventional reserves to be tapped, most notably in Alaska, where the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and the North Slope hold an abundance of hydrocarbon reserves.
The insanity of borrowing money from China to send money to OPEC nations to provide energy, while squandering untold billions on doomed "green" energy initiatives like windmills (which serve as blenders for migratory birds, though greenie groups avert their eyes from the carnage) is so self-evident that even a Democrat can see it. The prospect of high paying jobs in energy production, of even becoming an energy exporter, driving down world energy prices and thus weakening Iran and other Islamist states is simply too obvious.
Ebinger's op-ed can be best understood as a warning to Democrats elected officials to reverse course, or else suffer the consequences at the polls in 2012. The cascading scandals undermining the legitimacy of the warmist movement, the scandal of funneling taxpayer money to Solyndra and other doomed green schemes, and the rising energy bills troubling consumers as utilities hike electricity prices to pay for uneconomical "green" power sources they are required to purchase, all signal that the con game is coming to end.
Hat tip: Abby Schacter, New York Post.
By Bruce Walker, August 31, 2011
If the body politic is sick, blame federal fever, a delusional ailment causing swelling of the federal element of the Republic. Most of the problems caused by politics and government in America today are caused by the federalization of government power and by the unnatural elevation of the judiciary over the elected branches of government. This surely does not mean that lousy folks and dirty crooks cannot win state and local elections and cannot create political machines. What it does mean, however, is that Americans and their businesses can pull up and move to states that are friendlier or more honest.
The vital importance of sovereign states is, perhaps, the salient feature of our Constitution. Each state has its own Bill of Rights, sometimes with more protection than in the federal Bill of Rights, but each state also retains the power to do things which would make modern Americans nervous. Homicide, for example, is defined by state law. Rape is too. Any state could pass a law which effectively decriminalized either crime, but although state criminal laws all vary in different ways, no state has ever come close to legalizing murder or rape.
By the same token, the issue of religion and government was left by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, completely up to state governments. The dismantling of state churches took place voluntarily in the decades following adoption of the Constitution and without any recourse to federal rights at all. This marketplace of states allows the people of each state to resolve thorny social issues. If in Vermont school prayer is viewed with horror while in Nebraska school prayer is considered critical to moral education, the values of both states' citizens, in a truly federal republic, get what they want. (That is also the quid pro quo of federalism: we accept the decisions of other states even when those seem wrong to us.)
State governments provide a marketplace for Americans. Although some parts of the nation have natural advantages, like San Francisco and Boston, these advantages tend to become less important over time or to be balanced by advantages in other regions. After air conditioning became standard, the oppressive heat of the Gulf region became less important than the very mild winters.
State governments are also much closer to the people. A state house member in North Dakota, for example, has fewer than 7,000 constituents which mean that there are about 2,000 homes in his district. In an election, a candidate can visit every single home in the district and voters can size him up personally. Shoe leather means as much as campaign money in this sort of race.
Perhaps just as important, local media can cover state issues and politicians. These local media are close, often very close, to the lives of ordinary people. Viewers and listeners have direct sources of information: gossip at work, talk at church, discussions at civic groups, and visiting with neighbors. Any local media that presented the news poorly, either by incompetence or ideology, finds its credibility eroding from the ground up.
The greatest problem our nation faces is the usurpation of state power by the federal government. Polls suggest that voters now get that truth. Pew Research has published in late August a poll which shows that 84% of Americans are either "frustrated" or "angry" with the federal government, which is the highest in the fifty-three years since Pew Research polled the issue, and only 11% of Americans are "content" with the federal government.
Gallup has an equally damning poll which shows that the federal government is dead last among twenty-five "institutions" with 64% of respondents having a "somewhat negative" or "very negative" view of the federal government, while only 17% of Americans have a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" view of the federal government. Gallup, which shows polling data over the last eight years, also reveals that this is a dramatic drop in support for the federal government.
Rasmussen asked a slightly different question. Which level of government respondents did a better job? Local government was the choice of 33% of respondents; state government was 23%; and the federal government was 15%, and 13% were not sure. When asked if the federal government had too much power over the states, 50% agreed, 11% thought the federal government needed more control; 26% thought the balance was about right; and 13% were not sure.
The Tenth Amendment is possibly poised for a revival in the Supreme Court jurisprudence. Liberal writer Jeffrey Toobin of the liberal New Yorker has written an important reconsideration of the work of Justice Clarence Thomas, making the case that he has been the intellectual mainspring for moving the Court in the direction of weighing the Tenth Amendment more heavily. Walter Russell Meade of the American Prospect lays out where this could take us
Washington and its denizens, those who profit off the hyper-concentration of power in this federal district far away from most Americans, are increasingly -- and quite correctly -- seen as the problem. Candidates who campaign on that theme will be in tune with the national mood and those who defend Washington and federal overlordship will find themselves alone except for the elites who love centralized power.
The real victory, though, will not be who wins the White House and who controls Congress, but who actually begins to reverse the steady, sickly accretion of federal power and to restore to sovereign states those rights which are crucial to a happy and healthy republic. "Washington Fever" has infected America, and unless we are cured, things will never get better.
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2011/08/federal_fever.html
GREAT MYTHS ABOUT THE GREAT
DEPRESSION STILL ABOUND
By Tom Gantert,| Aug. 19, 2011
Many historians say president Franklin D. Roosevelt made the Great Depression worse.
“FDR fixed the economy with make-work jobs,” a recent Mlive.com headline stated.
Jennie Phipps, an Mlive.com contributor, wrote in her Aug. 15 story: “When I was growing up, my mother thought Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat at the right hand of God, mostly because he found a way out of the Great Depression by putting people to work through such government programs as the Civilian Conservation Corp. and the Works Projects Administration.” (Editor's Note: The actual names of the programs were the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration.)
But some economic historians believe Phipps has bought into one of the biggest myths of American politics – that FDR’s New Deal actually worked.
Franklin D. Roosevelt started his 12-year run as president in 1933, four years after the stock market crash of 1929. Historians agree the New Deal and the Second New Deal were a series of government-backed economic programs that were launched from 1933 through 1936.
From 1932 through 1939, the country’s unemployment rate ranged from 23.6 percent (1932) to 20.7 percent (mid-1939).
“The New Deal was a gigantic failure in revitalizing the U.S. economy,” said Burt Folsom, a professor of history at Hillsdale College and senior fellow in economic education with the Mackinac Center.
Lawrence Reed, president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, chronicled the harmful impacts of FDR’s New Deal in “Great Myths of the Great Depression.”
The Great Depression was four consecutive downturns rolled into one, according to Reed, who says that the country had had several other depressions, but none lasted more than four years and most were over in two years.
“The calamity that began in 1929 lasted at least three times longer than any of the country’s previous depressions because the government compounded its initial errors with a series of additional and harmful interventions,” Reed wrote.
Reed examined the damage on the American economy via government policies by looking at the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, passed in June 1930 under the Herbert Hoover administration. The stock market dropped 20 points on the day Hoover signed Smoot-Hawley into law and continued dropping the next two years, Reed wrote.
“The most protectionist legislation in U.S. history, Smoot-Hawley virtually closed the borders to foreign goods and ignited a vicious international trade war,” Reed wrote.
There were 887 tariffs that were sharply increased and significantly raised the rates on agricultural products and other consumables. Officials in the administration and Congress thought raising trade barriers would make Americans buy more American products and help employ more people, Reed wrote.
But foreign governments soon put up their own trade barriers and pulled back on buying U.S. goods. American agriculture suffered as farm prices plummeted and tens of thousands of farmers went bankrupt, Reed wrote.
A bushel of wheat that sold for $1 in 1929 was selling for 30 cents just three years later.
Reed wrote that with the collapse of agriculture, rural banks closed. Some 9,000 banks closed between 1930 and 1933.
And Phipps appears to have forgotten about President Barack Obama’s attempt to create jobs through government money.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law in February 2009 when the nation’s unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. Over the next 29 months, the nation’s unemployment rate has ranged between 8.6 percent and 10.1 percent. In July of 2011, it was 9.1 percent.
Tad DeHaven, a federal budget analyst for the Cato Institute, said the Congressional Budget Office has the ARRA costing $821 billion.
“Spending accounts for about 65 percent and tax cuts 35 percent," DeHaven said. "Among the tax provisions of the bill were a $400 per person 'Making Work Pay' tax credit, a patch of the Alternative Minimum Tax, numerous temporary breaks for businesses, an expansion of several tax credits, and a number of provisions to reduce taxation on public bonds. These weren’t 'pro-growth' tax cuts that effect long-term decision making. These were short-term Keynesian styled tax cuts."
"As for make work programs, there’s no free lunch," DeHaven continued. "Every dollar the federal government spends paying somebody to do something is one less dollar for the private sector. The fundamental question therefore is: Which do we want allocating economic resources, politicians and bureaucrats or the marketplace? Those who would answer affirmative to the former ought to read up on the defunct Soviet Union.”
Permission to reprint this article in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author (or authors) and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy are properly cited. http://www.mackinac.org
THE GOVERNMENT HAS RIGHTS?
Charlotte Cushman, August 20, 2011
On Friday, August 12, 2011 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the individual mandate that requires all Americans to buy health insurance under ObamaCare. What I found interesting was this statement:
"The Justice Department countered that Congress had the power to require most people to buy health insurance or face tax penalties because Congress has the authority to regulate interstate business. It said the legislative branch was exercising its 'quintessential' rights when it adopted the new law."
Since when does the government have rights? A right is defined as "a moral
principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social
context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its
consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life." Ayn Rand
The government has one purpose and one purpose only and that is to protect our rights, not to jam laws down our throats for the "common good." The only thing that is good is what is good for the individual and what is good for the individual is to protect his right to his life, his liberty and his pursuit of his own happiness.
Charlotte Cushman is a Montessori educator at Minnesota Renaissance School, Anoka, Minnesota. She has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand's philosophy since 1970.
Page reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/08/the_government_has_rights.html
THE LIGHT BULB POLICE
Rick Moran , June 8, 2011
Are you stockpiling incandescent light bulbs for the coming ban on January 1, 2012?
I am. You should. What the government is ordering you to buy - fluorescent light bulbs - contain hazardous materials that, if broken, threaten you and your family. Not only that, but the government ordered bulbs are less illuminating and give some people headaches - like my Zsu-Zsu who gets terrible migraines from fluorescents.
It's time to start pressuring Republicans to sign on to a bill that would stop this nanny state nonsense before it starts. The Wall Street Journal:
On January 1, 2012, seven months from this week, Washington will effectively ban the sale of conventional 100 watt incandescent light bulbs that Americans have used nearly since the days of Thomas Edison. Instead we will all be required to buy compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. We'd like to believe that when the government decrees what kind of light bulbs you can screw into the lamp in your own bedroom, even liberals would be nervous about the nanny state.
Yet Republicans have so far shown little interest in voting on the "Bulb Act" cosponsored by Republicans Mike Enzi of Wyoming in the Senate and Joe Barton of Texas in the House. This would repeal the 2007 law, signed in one of his all-too typical late-term decisions by George W. Bush, that turns incandescent bulbs into contraband. The ban passed at the height of the global warming fad-scare when all proper thinkers were supposed to sacrifice to the anticarbon gods.
The greens and the Obama Administration assert that the new light bulbs are good for the lumpen bourgeoisie because they will cut electricity use and save the average household $50 a year. Mr. Obama's Energy Department told Congress recently that to repeal the ban would "detrimentally affect the nation's economy, energy security, and environmental imperatives." Yes, and cause the seas to rise to swamp Miami and New York too.
I'd like to see those studies that prove all of that bullcrap the Energy Department is throwing around. Congress should demand to see them too.
But that's only half the problem. The other half is disposing of these monstrosities. What happens if you drop one on the floor and break it?
Fluorescent lights also carry their own environmental risks because they contain small amounts of mercury and other toxic materials. The EPA website contains three pages of consumer directions about what to do if you break a CFL bulb in your home: "Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid.''
Congressman Ted Poe of Texas has poked fun at these EPA guidelines by holding up a fluorescent bulb on the House floor asking: "If I dropped this, would we all have to evacuate the Capitol?" If fluorescent bulbs weren't all the rage among greens, the Consumer Product Safety Commission might ban them as a home health hazard. The question an (allegedly) free society should ask is if CFL bulbs are so clearly superior, why does the government have to force people to buy them?
And that, gentle reader, is the bottom line. Not only do whale oil lamps give off more light, but the hazard to your family that compels the EPA to give you three pages of instructions on how to get rid of the poisonous contents in these bulbs proves the government doesn't care about you or your family's well being.
I understand that most incandescent bulb assembly lines have already shut down. The time to act is now so we can retool and hire back those lost workers to start making a decent electric bulb again.
Page reprinted from with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/06/the_light_bulb_police.html
CONFESSION OF THE OKLAHOMA
CITY BOMBER: JOHN DOE 2 EXISTS
By Jayna Davis, April 11, 2011
The conviction of American terrorists, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, symbolizes the FBI's crown jewel of criminal prosecutions. So why do questions linger? Does the official account of what transpired on April 19, 1995 reveal all that certain federal investigators know? In the wake of the 1995 bombing, national polls showed 80 percent of Americans believed additional conspirators evaded capture. Today, as the 16th anniversary approaches, the prospect of shadowy terrorists walking free still pervades the country's psyche. This time, however, the FBI itself is fueling the flames of public distrust.
Last week the vault of top-secret bombing evidence cracked open. The Department of Justice, responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, released a declassified report detailing the May 26, 2005 interrogation of Terry Nichols. According to the record, Nichols broke his decade-long silence, acknowledging his hands-on role in constructing the massive truck bomb that demolished the Oklahoma City Murrah Building. While this revelation was all but academic, what Nichols said next threatens to rewrite history.
During the interview, the convicted bomber unleashed a startling admission: John Doe 2 exists. The FBI report states, "Nichols advised that John Doe 2's name had not been mentioned during the (FBI) investigation, and therefore, he feared for his life and his family's well-being should it become public."
One seemingly innocuous statement in this recently declassified FBI memo effectively shatters the government myth that two angry white males singlehandedly pulled off the crime of the 20th century. To begin, Nichols clearly implied that he knew the identity of John Doe 2 when asserting that his co-conspirator's name "had not been mentioned" during the prodigious FBI investigation. Keep in mind, the bomber had direct access to sealed court files and classified discovery materials that federal prosecutors were legally required to disclose to his defense lawyers during the state and federal trials. As a result, Nichols was informed about every suspect that surfaced on law enforcement's radar screen.
More significantly, Nichols expressed fear that John Doe 2 posed a grave threat to his family and him personally should the suspect's name be publicly disclosed. One can reasonably conclude that the Oklahoma City terrorist did not trust federal authorities would investigate or arrest John Doe 2 if he divulged his identity. And finally, the obvious bears repeating. The man who helped execute the deadliest attack on U.S. soil prior to 9-11 perceives the formidable John Doe 2 as omnipotent, with the ability to kill his family, and even him, in a maximum security lockup. Why?
And what did the FBI do in response to the Oklahoma City bomber's unnerving confession that John Doe 2 exists? Nothing.
A month after Nichols told the FBI that a third man participated in the bombing, he repeated this same daunting revelation to a U.S. congressman. An FBI agent was present during the June 2005 Colorado prison cell interview with California Representative Dana Rohrabacher, scribbling handwritten notes of what was discussed. But Bureau policy strictly forbids the recording of suspect interrogations; therefore, the most trustworthy account of Nichols' earthshaking testimony rests with the congressman.
Upon exiting the meeting, Rohrabacher phoned me and candidly recounted the details of Nichols' stunning disclosures. To insure accuracy, I taped the conversation. Rohrabacher described the prisoner as apprehensive and hesitant to name the infamous third terrorist, but he offered not-so-subtle hints of foreign complicity in a crime that the government has classified as domestically inspired. When Rohrabacher bluntly asked Nichols to assess the plausibility of the multiple eyewitness sightings placing Timothy McVeigh in the presence of Iraqi soldiers in Oklahoma City, Nichols shockingly conceded that the central theory presented in my 2004 book, The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing, "could be correct."
Dispelling the image of Timothy McVeigh as the bombing mastermind, Nichols resolutely confirmed that the decorated Gulf War veteran had numerous liaisons with men of Arab extraction, boldly proclaiming, "McVeigh talked about Middle Easterners on a number of occasions, and quite frequently," but Nichols claimed that he "could not remember the context of those discussions." Once again, Nichols refused to reveal the third terrorist, terrified of retribution.
This incriminating declaration from the country's most notorious mass murderer should have been the FBI's top investigative priority. After all, the implications were enormous. This was the first time the FBI learned directly from the Oklahoma City bomber that John Doe 2 exists. While Nichols declined to name the mystery accomplice, he dropped an unmistakable clue as to his identity when implying to the congressman that the premise of my book, The Third Terrorist, could be accurate.
Now, we connect the dots further. If McVeigh did, indeed, collaborate with Saddam Hussein's former soldiers, then John Doe 2 has escaped justice for slaughtering 171 innocent Americans. But, not surprisingly, the FBI's final summary of the prison interview, which was declassified and published last week, redacted Nichols' damning statements that McVeigh associated with Middle Easterners in the very city where the terrorist bombing took place.
For 16 years, the FBI has brazenly refused to speak to two dozen Oklahomans who encountered Timothy McVeigh colluding with Iraqi ex-enemy combatants in an act of terror that murdered more civilians within our borders than all the U.S. soldiers who perished on the sands of the Persian Gulf War. Now their sworn testimonies, identifying eight specific Middle Eastern collaborators, have been validated as "correct," ironically, through the unwitting confession of McVeigh's partner in crime, Terry Nichols.
Despite the Justice Department's Herculean effort to airbrush John Doe 2 from the American landscape, history has appointed Dana Rohrabacher the star witness to Terry Nichols' affirmation that the third terrorist lives. It seems the government's monolithic wall of resistance has fractured, but the crushing injustice still stands. That is, until our elected officials exercise their constitutional authority to "correct" the historical record. The American people expect it. The truth demands it.
Jayna Davis is the author of The Third Terrorist: The Middle East connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Page Reprinted with permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/04/confession_of_the_oklahoma_cit.html
FOOD SAFETY BILL PASSES --
OR DOES IT
Liberty Matters, December 2, 2010
On Tuesday, November 30th, the Senate passed S 510 73-25 with the Tester-Hagan amendment.
However, it was discovered on Thursday that it contained taxing authority in Section 107, which is unconstitutional because all revenue-generating bills must originate in the House of Representatives not the Senate. It was determined to cost $1.4 billion to implement this bill.
Since the Senate has passed S 510 with this provision, the House can either send the bill back to the Senate to remove the provision or pass the companion bill, HR 2749. Either way, this opens the door for changes to be made to the bill and increases the chances that the bill dies. It all depends on the majority party and how they decide to handle this issue. Odds are, they will figure out a way to either combine the two and substitute HR 2749 with S 510, effectively claiming the revenue part of the bill came from the House and send it back to the Senate for an up or down vote or, they will find another devious way to pass their bill.
Makes you wonder why this wasn’t “discovered” before the Senate passed the bill. Maybe this is like the House where they have to pass the bill first to know what’s in it.
Regardless of the outcome of the bill, the Tester-Hagan amendment exempted producers grossing under $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) and selling more than half of their products directly to “qualified end users” from the HACCP-type requirements and the produce safety standards.
HACCP stands for Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point and is a preventative approach used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards and reduce or eliminate the risks. “Qualified end users” means individual consumers (with no geographic limitation), or restaurants and retail food establishments that are either located in the same state or within 275 miles of the producer.
The Tester-Hagan amendment, although somewhat confusing, effectively carves out small-scale producers who are selling in-state or to local foodsheds from two of the most burdensome provisions of the bill. There is still concern about how the Food and Drug Administration will exercise its new powers granted in the bill. But, the amendment provides “critical protections for producers who sell at farmers’ markets, through CSAs, and at local co-ops and groceries,” according to Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance that fought for the Tester-Hagan Amendment and succeeded.
HR 2749, discussed above, passed the House last summer and procedure rules may now kill both of them. Prior to the “discovery,” the House leadership had agreed to vote on S 510 and pass it without any amendments and send it to the President for his signature. But, as they say in politics; “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”
Reprinted by permission from American Stewards of Liberty, Copyright 2010 https://americanstewards.us/news-publications/archive/liberty-matters
On September 29, 2010, Senator Harry Reid attempted to end debate on S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, by filing a Motion for Cloture to circumvent Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) objections to the bill.
Filing cloture begins the process of moving the bill to the floor under restricted debate, removing the possibility of a filibuster and ending Coburn's objection to bringing the bill to the floor. The procedure requires 60 votes, which Reid claims he has nearly 90 to do.
S 510 provides for extreme enlargement of the regulatory authority of agencies regarding the safety of food products. Even though it’s early provisions exempt farms and ranches, close attention must be paid to this bill and others like it.
The Natural Solutions Foundation claimed a deal was struck to push this bill through during the September-December session on a “unanimous consent” agenda.
The vague language of the bill has caused many to object to S 510 fearing that increased power for the Food and Drug Administration and the Health and Human Services agencies will also mean increased costs, paperwork and strict regulations that could bring down the axe on the already dwindling numbers of small farms.
In a recent action alert, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) summarizes, “The new regulations could erect new barriers to these important markets for small and mid-scale farmers unable to bear the expense of compliance.”
The main concern with any such food safety legislation is whether or not it actually solves the real problems inherent within our food system. Many don’t believe that giving an already overloaded government agency the power to create and enforce new food regulations will make our industrial, centralized food production system safer or healthier.
Reid’s move assures the bill will be one of the first bills up for consideration in November when Congress reconvenes after the election, although it will compete with a variety of high profile issues, including a defense authorization bill and whether to extend the Bush tax cuts.
Reprinted by permission from American Stewards of Liberty, Copyright 2010 https://americanstewards.us/news-publications/archive/liberty-matters
PREPARE FOR THE MOST
DANGEROUS SESSION IN CONGRESS
Liberty Matters, Sept 1, 2010
The final weeks of the 2010 second session of the 111th Congress could be the most dangerous in our history. In view of the current outlook for mid-term elections, this may be the last chance Senator Reid has to push through Cap ‘n Trade, the Clean Water Restoration Act, the Wildlife Corridors Act, the CLEAR Act, and Food Health bills that will strangle the farming industry.
The Senate will reconvene September 13th and adjourn October 8th. They return after the election recess on November 15th and work until the week of Thanksgiving. Then work continues in December. While these bills can be brought up any time during the critical days ahead, our property rights and interests are most vulnerable during the sessions following election.
During that November-December session, many, if not all of the anti-private property bills may be bundled together much like the Omnibus Public Lands bill that was enacted in 2009. Such “bundling” is a Senator Harry Reid trademark. He combines bills that include legislation desired by enough Senators to secure the necessary votes for passage. It is a devious tactic, but one for which we must be prepared.
This issue of Liberty Matters has been prepared to give you a heads up on the key anti-private property bills we expect to come up for passage during the final quarter of this critical year.
The Clean Water Restoration Act (SB 787):
The most devastating element of this bill is the way it amends the Pollution Control Act to expand Corps of Engineers authority over all land that is “adjacent to, near, is affected by, or affects” any body of water. In other words, every piece of land in the United States would be put under Corps permit authority.
It would be the most inclusive, all encompassing land use control ever attempted by Congress. Under such authority, the Corps could require permits to mow residential lawns. Proponents of the bill say that such statements are ridiculous because the “agency would never attempt such local control.” We believe if a bureaucrat is allowed to do something by Congress, he will eventually or immediately carry this out.
This Act removes the “navigable” element currently required to establish a body of water as “waters of the United States.” The new definition would destroy the precedents set in the Cook County Solid Waste decision of the U. S. Supreme Court that set aside a Corps of Engineers regulation imposed on a non-interstate, non-navigable quarry in Cook County, Illinois because migrating birds landed in the quarry.
The definition of “waters” will include even “dry desert potholes” and any location that has water, or might have water even for a temporary period of time.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Feingold (WI). It passed out of the Environment and Public Works Committee but, Senator Mike Crapo (ID) placed a hold on the bill keeping it from receiving a vote on the Senate floor earlier this year.
The Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2010 (HR 5101):
The bill establishes a “Corridor Information Program” to gather data as to wildlife migratory patterns in order to establish and develop corridors. HR 5101 not so subtly implements a concept first proposed by radical environmentalists over twenty years ago known as the Wildlands Project that advocates minimum or no human activity within these wildlife corridors.
The bill calls for federal and state governments to “avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and corridors in siting energy development, water, transmission, transportation and other land use projects,” to “assess the impacts of existing development on habitats and corridors” and to “develop management strategies to enhance the ability of native fish, wildlife, and plant species to migrate or respond to shifting habitats within existing habitats and corridors.”
The Bill specifically amends forest management acts, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and Transportation Acts.
It amends FLPMA by making the corridors “critical areas of environmental concern,” or ACE’s which are highly restrictive. This will undermine every grazing and recreational use of the corridors. In addition, it amends forest acts to make the corridors an integral part of every forest management plan to be preserved and protected in their “natural state.” The bill itself does not set forth its power; it simply amends existing law in such a way that the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management becomes the “hit men” to keep the wildlife corridors free of human use.
Also, by amending the Transportation funding acts, it makes the wildlife corridors an integral part of all funding for highway construction, so that animals can safely cross highways. Still, the real impact is the provision that highway designs have to provide for linkage and continuity of corridors themselves.
In plain words, the bill will endanger every farming, ranching, housing, water, and energy project, even those uses existing when the Bill is passed.
The CLEAR Act (HR 3534):
This Bill has already passed the House, been placed on general orders in the Senate and can be brought up and voted on at any time. The legislation appropriates $360 Billion dollars over 40 years without requiring any further annual appropriation. The money is set aside to buy private property and place this into government ownership. A call to action was issued and the bill summarized by American Stewards during the last days of the August session.
The House bill, as introduced, included provisions that would extend protection to species that are neither special, threatened nor endangered. During the final debate, this provision was removed from the House Bill, but this can be easily added back in by the Senate, to be finalized in Conference.
Lobbying watchdog organizations reported that 38 different organizations, from oil companies to conservation groups lobbied on this bill. The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, Trust for Public Land, Environment America, Southern Environmental Law Center, National Parks Conservation Association, and Open Space Institute all lobbied strongly for passage.
Clean Energy Technology Act (SB 3738):
Last session, Senator Reid announced that “cap ‘n trade is dead.” His statement followed the failure by Senators Kerry, Liebermann and Graham to put together a bill that could get the necessary 60 votes to end a filibuster. However, Senator Kerry’s new strategy is to take smaller bites at the apple making his new bill, the Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010, an ideal vehicle to slip back into legislation the “Cap ‘n Trade” concept that will tax carbon emissions.
The 73 page bill is represented to be simply a tax incentive for clean energy. However, Politico, a Capitol Hill political blog, reported on August 6, 2010 that:
“He [Senator Kerry] simply won’t quit: In the wake of his failed climate change push, John Kerry today drops a clean energy financing bill, which extends tax incentives for energy efficient buildings, natural gas vehicles and biodiesel, and provides an additional $3.5 billion for renewable energy bonds. His ‘Clean Energy Technology Act’ will likely be one in a long line of bills in the coming year from climate control advocates who recognize that the political landscape will make it impossible to move a comprehensive bill before 2012, and will in the meantime take smaller bites at the apple.”
Those “smaller bites” can be disastrous to ranchers, farmers and all landowners. The bill will have to be watched very carefully for amendments that add taxes on carbons that will devastate agricultural production.
Farm Bill Legislation:
The Environmental Defense Fund has urged inclusion of financing for preserving wildlife corridors in various pieces of farm legislation. They point with pride to the funding in last session’s farm bill of activities that will put private land into government ownership or control.
The Fund’s Report, “The Need for Greater Attention to Wildlife ‘Corridors’,” states that “the Western Governors’ Association, state and federal agencies, conservation groups, sportsmen and many others recognize the importance of these vital wildlife corridors and are taking action to protect them. The urgency of taking action on corridors is highlighted by the fact that climate is indeed warming and the creation of linkages between large blocks of habitat is among the most important adaptation strategies for wildlife.”
The Fund recommends support by conservation groups of government purchase or condemnation of private lands, the extension of conservation easements, financing of “stewardship practices” (as in habitat management plans) and retirement of agricultural uses through long-term contracts.
Every agricultural related bill must be reviewed carefully for amendments even in very technical language that can accommodate the attack on private ownership and control of land use.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (SB 510):
This 118 page bill provides for extreme enlargement of the regulatory authority of agencies regarding the safety of food products. Even though it’s early provisions exempt farms and ranches, close attention must be paid to this bill and others like it.
The Natural Solutions Foundation has issued an “Action Alert” based on a report they have that a deal has been struck to push this bill through during the September-December session on a “unanimous consent” agenda. We will be carefully reviewing and analyzing this bill and other “food safety” bills that are pending in various stages of the Congressional Process from which they could spring on to an agenda for passage.
Reprinted by permission from Liberty Matters e-News Service, published by American Stewards of Liberty. https://americanstewards.us
HARRY REID PULLS A FAST ONE TO SABOTAGE SHALE
Ed Lasky, August 03, 2010
Shale Gas has the potential to bring manifold benefits to Americans: cheap and plentiful, relatively green and clean burning, located in vast swaths underneath our feet (and not offshore or in foreign lands filled with people happy to take our money but who also hate us and who can who can turn the spigot off at will).
All good reasons in Majority Leader Harry Reid's mind to sabotage our tapping of this vast reserve of energy:
The fight over the Senate offshore drilling "spill bill" shifted Wednesday from the Gulf of Mexico to the mountains of western Pennsylvania, as Republicans slammed the last-minute inclusion of language to regulate a controversial technique to extract onshore natural gas.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) added the language last night requiring natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground as part of the hydraulic fracturing, or hydro-fracking, process.
Republicans are wary of the addition, which comes on page 404 of the 409-page spill response bill Reid wants the Senate to take up before the recess. GOP objections to any portion of the larger bill could stall its progress, since it appears likely that Reid will not allow any amendments to be offered.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the new requirements could effectively end onshore natural gas production. He noted that some states already have hydro-fracking safety and disclosure regulations, but that taking the requirements national would freeze the industry.
Why does Reid have to pull these un-democratic stunts? Because he can? Because powerful Democratic donors (including the Democratic party Sugar Daddy George Soros) wants to kill off carbon and spend tens of billions of dollars on green schemes that reward their "clean" energy ventures . These ventures only "work" (i.e., become profitable for their investors) when carbon energy becomes very expensive (hence cap and tax); or when billions in taxpayer dollar subsidies are funneled to them; or when government-ordered mandates require utilities, companies and consumers to buy "renewable" energy. And when powerful Democrats pull fast ones behind closed doors to sabotage the tapping of a treasure our nation has been blessed to have in abundance.
A primer on the benefits of shale gas appeared in the Washington Post ("Shale Gas: Hope for our energy future").
A quote from the column:
Until recently, scarce U.S. natural gas reserves suggested increasing dependence on expensive foreign supplies of liquefied natural gas. No more. Also, natural gas emits about 50 percent less carbon dioxide -- the major greenhouse gas -- than coal. Substituting gas for coal in electricity plants could temper emissions. Finally, shale gas in Europe and Asia has huge geopolitical implications. It could reduce dependence on Russian natural gas and frustrate any gas cartel mimicking OPEC.
How much shale gas exists is unknown, but estimates are huge. The Potential Gas Committee is a group of geologists who regularly estimate future U.S. gas supplies. In 2000, the group's estimate equaled about 54 years of present annual consumption; by 2008, it was almost 90 years. "This isn't the end," says Colorado School of Mines geologist John Curtis. Globally, one study estimated the recoverable supply at 16,200 trillion cubic feet, more than 150 times today's annual world gas use).
Page Reprinted from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/08/harry_reid_pulls_a_fast_one_to.html
DOE'S SEARCH AND SEIZURE
By Louis Case, April 12, 2010
The feds are coming to inspect your home if you want to sell it, according to
regulations buried in cap-and-trade legislation and standards decreed by the
Secretary of Energy. But there are numerous legal difficulties inherent in DOE
"inspections." Here are a few:
First, the regulations purportedly require homeowners to submit to a
warrantless search of their property. The result of this inspection ("looking
in") of their home would be to condemn real property (fixtures and things
attached to the land are real estate in many states) and/or personal property.
There has been a controversy about whether so-called regulatory searches
require a warrant. But whatever the state of the law is now, one should consider
the truth of the words of the Supreme Court in Camara v. Municipal Court, a case
about a warrantless regulatory search:
We may agree that a routine inspection of the physical condition of private property is a less hostile intrusion than the typical policeman's search for the fruits and instrumentalities of crime. ... But we cannot agree that the Fourth Amendment interests at stake in these inspection cases are merely "peripheral." It is surely anomalous to say that the individual and his private property are fully protected by the Fourth Amendment only when the individual is suspected of criminal behavior.
The Supreme Court goes on to suggest that there are indeed criminal
consequences in many cases involving regulatory searches. But consider the
logical consequences of such an argument. If a warrantless regulatory search
results in eventual criminal prosecution, then it is prohibited. If that were
true, then it would mean that warrantless searches not resulting in dire
consequences are permissible. Following such logic, the government's ability to
make warrantless searches is commensurate with the unserious consequences
resulting from the warrantless search. Thus, the most law-abiding citizens would
have the least protection from warrantless searches.
The second legally problematic issue of these regulations involves their
attempt to alter property law. There is no federal property law, and there has
never been any federal property law. Real and personal property law is
exclusively state law. This fact is confirmed daily in federal civil
(bankruptcy) and criminal (theft, robbery) courts across the land.
Practically, there can never be any federal property law. Creating and
imposing federal property law would mean that existing property rights would
have to be altered. If the federal government federalizes property law, then it
would necessarily have to take existing property. If it takes existing property,
the Fifth Amendment requires payment of just compensation. In our march to true
communism, it seems theoretically possible for the federal government to
nationalize all property if it could borrow enough money to pay for it. But if
the government paid all the current property owners for the property taken,
those owners would have the money but no property to buy, since all property
would be owned by the state and the state would not have to sell the property to
By ordering the replacement of existing and working personal and real
property (like electrical appliances and light bulbs), the DOE is condemning the
owner's property. When the government condemns property, the Fifth Amendment
requires just compensation. This fact has been recognized in years of precedent
in non-conforming uses.
Suppose a community with no zoning laws finally adopts one requiring a
twenty-foot setback line for structures; that is, buildings must be at least
twenty feet back from the street. What about a building constructed ten feet
back before the zoning code was adopted? That landowner built the structure
relying on the law at that time, which had no such restrictions. The
municipality can surely force the landowner to move the building, but the
municipality will have to pay because it is taking the landowner's property --
the right to have the property ten feet from the street.
If regulations like the DOE's are enforced and upheld, there appears to be no
limit to the federal government's authority to terminate or alter one's property
rights. Furthermore, the ability to alter one's property rights then derives
from the seller of the product in question. Suppose GM builds a car that is
safer than last year's model. Why could the Department of Transportation not
require the property (car) owner to retrofit last year's model, or prohibit its
sale completely? You can bet that General Electric (and other manufacturers)
will start building appliances with planned energy obsolescence.
These are just a few of the legal challenges to the DOE's regulations. Nevertheless, the DOE rules might be implemented, and here's how: In most communities, the local realtor and bar associations get together to draft a form for real estate sales. It is simply a fact that neither the realtors nor the lawyers get paid unless there is a closing, and they do not want any hassles to delay those closings. So what they might do is put a paragraph in the sales agreement in which both parties agree to let federal DOE agents perform a warrantless search and agree that the appliances will conform to the federal regulations or be replaced. Let buyers (and sellers) of property beware -- and be prepared.
Reprinted from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/04/does_search_and_seizure.html
IS THE HOLDER DOJ IMPLODING
Clarice Feldman, December 08, 2009
The Washington Times suggests in an editorial that the fallout from the Department's refusal to proceed with the New Black Panther party's criminal prosecution for voter intimidation is causing an implosion in the Holder Department of Justice.
DOJ has already lost three top officials ; Gregory Craig, Cassandra Butts,
and now David Ogden:
[T]he Justice Department has, for now, ordered two key career attorneys not to comply with a subpoena about the case issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The commission, by law, has explicit power to issue subpoenas, and the law mandates that "all federal agencies shall cooperate fully with the commission." The Justice Department, however, is citing internal regulations stemming from a 1951 case to support its order to ignore the subpoena.
One of the attorneys, J. Christian Adams, has been advised by his personal attorney, former South Carolina Secretary of State Jim Miles, that failure to comply with the subpoena could put him at risk of prosecution. "I can't imagine," Mr. Miles told The Washington Times, "that a statute that gives rise to the power of a subpoena would be subjugated to some internal procedural personnel rule being promulgated by DoJ." In short, the department is stiffing the commission and unfairly putting its own employee in a legal bind.
Second, that same day, the two Republican House members with top-ranking jurisdiction over the Justice Department, Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, issued a joint statement calling Justice Department delays "a cover-up," and "a pretense to ignore inquiries from Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights." At a hearing on Thursday, Mr. Smith said that "continued silence by the Justice Department is an implied admission of guilt that the case was dropped for purely political reasons."
Third, at the same hearing, Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, accused Justice Department Civil Rights Division chief Thomas Perez of not being "truthful" while under oath, to such an extent that "there are people who have gone to jail" for such a level of purported "dishonest[y]."
I believe that normally, government agency subpoena enforcement is handled by the Department of Justice. Who will be selected to enforce these subpoenas against the Department itself?
Page Reprinted by permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/12/is_the_holder_doj_imploding.html
WHIFF OF FASCISM BECOMES A STENCH
Clarice Feldman, October 27, 2009
Herb Denenberg, once Pennsylvania's Commissioner of Insurance and a Professor at the Wharton School, describes in The Bulletin, how the whiff of fascism in this Administration is turning into the stench of fascism. He starts with a reminder of the many ways Obama has acted to stifle opposition views and manipulate public opinion and concludes:
I've emphasized one aspect of fascism -- its objective of the forcible suppression of opposition. But it also qualifies under the other elements, including the suppression of private enterprise and putting it under centralized government control. That is one hallmark of the Obama Administration, it expands government, contracts the private sector and places new and unprecedented power in the hands of a centralized, expanding government bureaucracy.
This government expansion also is a restriction of our freedom because as the government gets bigger, the individual citizen gets smaller. Consider some of the belief systems of his Czars. Ron Bloom, the manufacturing czar thinks the "free market is nonsense."
He also agrees with Chinese tyrant Mao Tse Tung that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. Anita Dunn, a communications director, also a big fan of Mao, expresses those views even when speaking to young students. And there is Mark Lloyd, Chief Diversity Officer at the FCC, who views tyrant Hugo Chavez in Venezuela as his model. The White House is brimming with socialists, communists, radicals and hate-America types. The only ideology not found there is one that respects American values and believes in American exceptionalism.
Page Reprinted by permission from The American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/10/the_whiff_of_fascism_becomes_a.html
ZOGBY POLL OF MEXICANS
RAISES CONCERNS OVER MEXICAN IMMIGRATION
David Paulin, October 15, 2009
Why do many Mexican immigrants -- legal and illegal -- have trouble assimilating into American culture? Most of the 10 to 12 million Hispanics estimated to be here illegally are from Mexico. How would granting them amnesty affect future illegal immigration -- especially from Mexico?
Recently, polling firm Zogby International surveyed more than 1,000 Mexican adults across Mexico. The idea was to get the opinions of the average man and woman on the street - all to better understand America's immigration debate from a Mexican point of view, according to the Center for Immigration Studies of Washington, D.C. The conservative think tank is now reporting the results of the Zogby poll.
According to CIS, the survey was the first of its kind to get the opinions of Mexicans, including those entertaining the possibility of immigrating to America illegally.
Many Americans may find the views that Mexicans have on immigration and America unsettling -- and even disturbing.
Critics of an amnesty for illegal immigrants contend it would only encourage more illegal immigration. Well, surprise, surprise: That's just what the average Mexican on the street thinks, too.
According to CIS: "A clear majority of people in Mexico, 56 percent, thought giving legal status to illegal immigrants in the United States would make it more likely that people they know would go to the United States illegally."
In addition, the think tank stated that: "Of Mexicans with a member of their immediate household in the United States, 65 percent said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally."
And that raises another question: Just how many more Mexicans would like to immigrate to America? According to CIS: "Interest in going to the United States remains strong even in the current recession, with 36 percent of Mexicans (39 million people) saying they would move to the United States if they could. At present, 12 to 13 million Mexico-born people live in the United States."
Most Americans would be shocked by how the majority of Mexicans felt about America. According to CIS:
* "An overwhelming majority (69 percent) of people in Mexico thought that the primary loyalty of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) should be to Mexico. Just 20 percent said it should be to the United States. The rest were unsure."
* "Also, 69 percent of people in Mexico felt that the Mexican government should represent the interests of Mexican-Americans (Mexico- and U.S.-born) in the United States."
CIS noted that "the perspective of people in Mexico is important because Mexico is the top sending country for both legal and illegal immigrants.
"In 2008, one of six new legal immigrants was from Mexico and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, six out of 10 illegal immigrants come from that country."
CIS noted there are now "10 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, seven million of whom are estimated to have come from Mexico. But this poll suggests that many people who might like to come have not done so. This could be seen as an indication that enforcement efforts are effective."
The results of the survey are sure to add to concerns raised by Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington in his 2005 book "Who are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity."
He wrote: "The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves-from Los Angeles to Miami-and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril."
He also published a related essay, "The Hispanic Challenge," in Foreign Policy magazine. It promoted liberals to all but accuse him of being a racist and xenophobe.
The Zogby survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent, "for a 95 percent confidence level," CIS noted.
Page Reprinted by permission from The American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/10/zogby_poll_of_mexicans_raises.html
DID THE CIA 'COOK THE BOOKS'
By Herbert E. Meyer, July 28, 2009
Do you remember that 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate which concluded -- to virtually everyone's astonishment -- that four years earlier Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program?
Publication of that NIE cut the ground out from under the Bush administration's efforts to prevent Iran from getting its hands on a nuclear bomb. After all, why pressure the mullahs in Teheran to stop a program they'd already abandoned? And, of course, the NIE's conclusion was cited by President Bush's political enemies as (further) evidence that the President and his team were so driven by their hard-line ideology that they (as usual) ignored the evidence provided by our country's senior intelligence analysts.
Now, thanks to a brilliant piece of journalism by German investigative reporter Bruno Schirra published in the July 20 edition of The Wall Street Journal Europe, we have evidence to suggest that the 2007 NIE's conclusion about Iran's nuclear bomb program wasn't merely wrong, but corrupt.
Here's a summary of Schirra's explosive article:
Over in Germany the Federal Prosecutor had charged a German-Iranian businessman with brokering supplies for Iran's nuclear bomb program, thus violating the country's War Weapons Control Law and its Foreign Trade Act. But a lower court in Frankfurt refused to try the case on grounds that at the time of the businessman's alleged activities, Iran didn't have a nuclear weapons program. According to Shirra, the court actually cited the 2007 U.S. NIE as evidence of its conclusion.
But the Federal Prosecutor appealed the lower court's decision to Germany's Federal Supreme Court -- and that's when Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) stepped in by submitting what's called an "office testimony," which Schirra defines as "factual statements about the Iranian program that can be proved in a court of law."
According to Schirra:
The BND...has amassed evidence of a sophisticated Iranian nuclear weapons program that continued after 2003....In a 30-page legal opinion on March 26 and a May 27 press release in a case about possible illegal trading with Iran, a special national security panel of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe cites from a May 2008 BND report, saying the agency "showed comprehensively" that "development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003.
According to the judges, the BND supplemented its findings on August 28, 2008, showing "the development of a new missile launcher and the similarities between Iran's acquisition efforts and those of countries with already known nuclear weapons programs, such as Pakistan and North Korea".....In their May press release, the judges come out even more clear [sic], stating unequivocally that "Iran in 2007 worked on the development of nuclear weapons."
Simply put, while our country's intelligence service believed that Iran had
abandoned its nuclear bomb program in 2003, Germany's intelligence service was
amassing evidence that the Iranian bomb program was ongoing.
This raises three obvious and crucially important questions:
Was our country's intelligence service aware of the BND's evidence and conclusions when its analysts wrote that 2007 NIE about Iran?
If not, why not?
If our intelligence service was aware of the BND's evidence and conclusions, then how and why did the authors of that 2007 NIE reach the opposite conclusion about Iran's nuclear bomb program?
To answer these questions, you need a bit of background about how National
Intelligence Estimates are produced, and of how our country's intelligence
service works with our allies' intelligence services. What follows is based on
my own experience during the Reagan Administration, as Special Assistant to the
Director of Central Intelligence and then as Vice Chairman of the National
Our country's intelligence service is actually a collection of more than a
dozen agencies including the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Defense
Intelligence Agency, the intelligence services of each military service, the
Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and a few others we won't talk about.
Even after all the reorganizations of the last few years -- it's now so screwed
up that if my life depended on it I couldn't draw an accurate chart -- there's a
unit that sits in the office of the Director of National Intelligence called the
National Intelligence Council. The NIC is comprised of the intelligence
community's most senior analysts, and it's the NIC that produces the National
These NIEs reflect the overall, coordinated judgments and conclusions of all
the various agencies and components of our country's intelligence service. They
include the evidence on which these key judgments are based, and when properly
done they even include dissents by one or another agency, for instance if
there's a disagreement about the evidence itself or about the meaning of the
evidence. All this explains why NIEs are so highly classified, and why they
carry so much weight. And it explains why the release of an NIE's key judgments
-- such as those of that 2007 Iran NIE -- is such a big deal.
In times of national emergency, the President can ask for a special NIE to be
produced within days, or even overnight. But as a general rule, it takes weeks
or even months to produce an NIE -- to amass the evidence, sift through it, and
to coordinate both the evidence and its implications with senior members of all
the agencies and entities that comprise our country's intelligence service. And
the individuals who actually produce the NIEs -- the members and leaders of the
National Intelligence Council -- can get their hands on anything our
intelligence service knows.
Of course, we aren't the only country with an intelligence service. Our
allies also have services of their own, and some of them are very, very good.
That's why senior officials of our country's intelligence service stay in close
touch with their counterparts in, say, London, Paris - and Berlin.
It is inconceivable to me that senior officials of our intelligence service
were unaware of the BND's evidence and conclusions about Iran's nuclear bomb
program. Indeed, if the BND's officials withheld what they knew from our
officials that constitutes an act of allied betrayal whose implications for
US-German relations are, well, staggering.
On the other hand, if our intelligence officials were aware of the BND's
evidence and conclusions, why did we reach the opposite conclusion? Did our
analysts judge the BND's evidence to be invalid? Or did they just ignore the
BND's evidence because they didn't like it and because our intelligence
officials wanted to throw a banana peel under President Bush's feet?
I don't know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that a
nuclear-armed Iran threatens our national survival, and that to meet this threat
President Obama and his advisers need the best possible intelligence. Only the
House and Senate intelligence oversight committees can get to the bottom of all
this. But right now leading members of these committees, and the Speaker of the
House, are blathering on -- and on -- about the phony issue of whether former
Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to not testify about some program to
wipe out the leaders of al Qaeda that never actually got off the ground.
This isn't politics; this is suicide. God help us if our enemies conclude
that the United States is no longer capable of being serious about intelligence.
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council. He is widely credited with being the first senior U.S. intelligence official to forecast the Soviet Union's collapse, for which he later was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. He is author of How to Analyze Information and The Cure for Poverty.
Page Reprinted by permission from the American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/07/did_the_cia_cook_the_books_on.html
THE GOVERNMENT WORKER UNIONS KNOW
By Greg Richards, March 10, 2009
The government wants to take over the provision of more and more services. Those who know the government best have a warning for the rest of us.
The budgets submitted so far by the new Administration show that the central theme of Obamanomics is the expansion of government. Indeed, if the 27% share of GDP projected by the 2010 budget actually materializes, this will break all previous constraints on government spending absent world war.
There is a theory behind this spending that liberals consider so self-evident that they feel they don't have to articulate it. This is that government is (a) benevolent, meaning it has everybody's best interests at heart and can act in accord with those sentiments; and (b) that it is omniscient, or, if that is too argumentative, that it is at least knowledgeable about the activities it undertakes.
There is a whole school of economics called "Public Choice" devoted to debunking the first point. Public Choice economics demonstrates that government is populated by self-interested utility maximizers just as are other sectors of the economy, and, as Thomas Sowell has observed, the primary self-interest of politicians is to get reelected. That is Job One.
We have another channel of insight into the competence and benevolence of government through the existence of public sector unions, the fastest-growing part of the union movement.
What does the demand for public sector unions tell us?
The purpose of a union is to interpose itself between the employer and the employee to the benefit of the employee. The existence of public sector unions tells us that the people most intimately familiar with government, those who experience it every moment of every work day, don't trust it!
And yet the basis of liberalism in general and Obamanomics in particular is that we should turn over to government some of our most important, intimate and consequential activities, such as retirement, education and health care.
But the significance of public sector unions is that the people who know government best and deal with it most often don't trust it to be either benevolent or knowledgeable in dealing with their interests.
The prescription of Obamanomics is that we, the public, should do what government employees refuse to do! Turn over our destinies to the government! As the Romans would say, note bene (pronounced know-tay bay-nay) -- note well -- this discrepancy. It can save us from the grief of lying for hours or days in our own excrement waiting for medical attention, or having our children indoctrinated with the latest Leftist (anti-American) fad in our schools, or....well, you fill in the blank.
Maybe the public should form a union. Oops. We already have one. Obamanomics is trying to bust our union.
Page Reprinted by permission from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/03/what_the_government_worker_uni.html
THE FINAL CHAPTER
The story of John Rapanos’ fight against the federal government has come to a close. After 14 years of court battles and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent defending himself from the federal government, Mr. Rapanos agreed to end the persecution by paying the government nearly $1 million in fines and mitigation fees.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency accused Rapanos of polluting “waters of the U.S.” by spreading sand on his property twenty miles from the nearest navigable waterway. When Rapanos told them to “take a hike” they retaliated at his lack of respect for their omnipotence and sued him, criminally and civilly. One judge remarked during one of the many trials that his “crime” appeared to be “moving sand from one end of his property to another.”
Federal regulators have never used consistent standards when bringing complaints under the Clean Water Act and have been scolded for their inconsistencies by the U.S. Supreme Court. One judge commented that bizarre federal wetlands regulations were akin to the upside down logic of “Alice in Wonderland.” The feds argued the government had jurisdiction over Rapanos’ land because the Clean Water Act extended its authority to all waters that could be used by migratory birds. The U.S. Supreme Court shot down that argument in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers decision in 2001. The government then claimed the Clean Water Act covered all waters, no matter how remote or insignificant.
The Supreme Court finally agreed to hear the Rapanos civil case and in the 2006 decision, Rapanos v United States ruled in his favor, sort of, but left the door open for further lawsuits. Rapanos finally had enough and agreed to settle. Reed Hopper, with the Pacific Legal Foundation, who represented Rapanos through his struggles, wrote regarding the outcome; “…it is an alarming demonstration of the erosive effect of heavy-handed government. When ordinary citizens can be beaten down so their only viable choice is to minimize their losses by the very process designed to protect their rights, everyone loses.”
Reprinted by permission from the Feb. 3, 2009 edition of Liberty Matters News Service. www.libertymatters.org
GLOBAL POVERTY ACT HEADED TO SENATE FLOOR
A bipartisan bill, the Global Poverty Act is headed for a full Senate vote. The bill is sponsored by Republicans Richard Lugar, and Chuck Hagel and Democrats Barack Obama, Joseph Biden, Maria Cantwell, Chris Dodd, Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein, and Robert Mendez.
The bill compels every American to sacrifice their security in a futile attempt to eradicate world poverty. The House version, H.R. 1302, passed last September by voice vote. The Senate version, S 2433, passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also by voice vote.
The bill would require the president “to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to develop programs to spend more tax dollars on foreign assistance. It would require the U.S. to implement the U.N. Millennium Development Goal that calls for ‘the eradication of poverty’ by ‘redistribution of wealth and land.’”
Jeffery Sachs, a Columbia University economist, in 2005, presented then- Secretary General, Kofi Annan with a 3,000 page document detailing what must be done to cure the world poverty problem. The United States, currently forking over $16.5 billion on world poverty programs, he declared, must increase poverty spending to at least $30 billion a year. Adoption of S 2433 could “result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States,” says Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media. The measure would dedicate “0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product to foreign aid, which over 13 years would amount to $845 billion ‘over and above what the U.S. already spends.’”
The bill would force the U.S. to accept a multitude of U.N. treaties and protocols, including the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming), the Convention on Biological Diversity (Wildlands) and on and on. It would allow the U.N. to charge license fees to use air, water and natural resources and it would regulate all corporate environmental issues as provided in the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). It would ban “small arms and light weapons,” a long-time dream of liberals. It would authorize a standing U.N. army and require registration of all arms, if there remained any, of course. It is not clear when this bill could face a vote.
Reprinted by permission from the August 6, 2008 edition of Liberty Matters News Service. www.libertymatters.org
If this is not enough impetus to vote for Jack Hoogendyk and McCain/Palin, I don't know what is.
CLEAN WATER "RESTORATION ACT"
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing Wednesday, April 16, on HR 2421, the Clean Water Restoration Act, (CWRA) and the opposition was wide and deep. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican Leader, issued a statement following the hearing. “There is significant nationwide opposition to this unprecedented and historic federal jurisdiction grab… Multiple witnesses testified to the confusion, costs, delays, and endless litigation that will result should this overreaching bill become law…HR 2421 and its companion bill in the Senate could lead to the regulation of virtually every wet area in the country…”
Senator James Inhofe, (R-OK), Ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, also had harsh criticism of the bills. “Both Committees heard repeatedly in testimony that clean water is critical for our well being; however,” said Inhofe, “this bill does not lead to cleaner water and is nothing more than a federal land grab attempt. We should not propose, let alone pass legislative language that increases uncertainly, burdens local government, and challenges the sanctity of private property rights.” Sen. Inhofe continued, “If Congress is to amend the Clean Water Act, any changes must provide clarity and reduce lawsuits.
This bill does neither. It will not curtail litigation, but rather increase it.” Rep. Mica said; “The responsible regulatory agencies also voiced their concerns with the bill…and believe that such a heavy-handed legislative approach is unwarranted. With our economy already in troubled waters, this legislation could push American jobs overseas and put another nail in our economic coffin,” Mica said.
THE POOR WHO AREN'T
Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is an economist who actually looks at income statistics to learn something, not to make a point.
In the Dec. 6, 2007 column which was published in the Detroit News, he pointed out the difference between income and earnings and that both are different from economic resources on which people's standard of living is based.
While most people get their income by earning it, the elderly do not. Only 24% of the income of those over 65 is earned, the rest comes from pensions, a stream of income from investments and savings leaving actual incomes four times what their earnings statistics might suggest.
When it comes to wealth, the net worth of people over 65 is several times that of people under 45. The highest average net worth in any age bracket belongs to households headed by people aged 70 to 74, even though their income is lower than middle-aged people.
Since 80% of the people who are 65 and up are either homeowners or home buyers, their housing costs tend to be lower. Among the 80% the median monthly housing costs in 2001 averaged just $339 a month, including property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs, condominium and association costs and mortgage payments.
These facts must be kept in mind when politicians and journalists start talking about the poor.
The elderly are not the only people whose standard of living is grossly understated.
The statistics of low-income people do not include transfer payments from the government, such as welfare, subsidized housing, medical care and food.
As of 2001, about 78% of the economic resources used by people in the bottom 20% of income recipients were in the form of either cash or in-kind transfers, so that to judge the standard of living of low-income people by income statistics is to leave out more that 75% of the economic resources used by them.
Those who have an ideological or political interest in exaggerating the numbers of "the poor" often use statistics that greatly understate the standard of living of low-income people as well as the elderly. It is, therefore, important to understand what those statistics do and do not mean.
THE HOMELESS 'VET' STORY
Michael Fumento, writing in the New York Post on December 18, 2007, about the homeless -advocacy industry which works so hard to divert attention from the alcoholics, drug users, schizophrenics and panhandlers who comprise a good portion of the homeless. It doesn't talk about the unpleasant truths like those reported by John Stossel, who after exhaustive efforts, managed to find only one person with a sign reading "Will work for food" who would actually do so.
Fumento noted that many of the studies that talk about "homeless vets" are based solely on the men's own claims, and that claiming to be a vet is a favorite panhandler ploy.
A new "study" from the Homeless Research Institute (HRI), claims government data show that vets are twice as likely to be "homeless" as non-vets -- that is that vets make up 11% of the adult US population but 26% of the labeled homeless. It dismisses substance abuse and/or mental illness and blames the problem on the lack of affordable housing, a failure of government.
The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, says only 18% of the homeless are vets, down from 23% in 1996 (based on incomplete data).
Analysis of the numbers, however, show that 75% of those in homeless shelters are men, while females outnumber males in the general population, and 93% of all veterans are male. This means that vets are proportionally NO MORE LIKELY to be homeless than the general population.
While veterans generally are more educated and more employed than those with similar demographics in the general population; they earn more, too. They should be able to afford housing more easily.
The truth is that the major problem with the homeless, some of whom will not even go to a shelter, is substance abuse and/or mental illness. The Veteran's Administration says 70% of the homeless vets are so afflicted.
In homeless studies performed by Washington University of Medicine in St. Louis, 84% of men and 58% of women were substance abusers, while 88% of men and 69% of women had psychiatric disorders.
While HRI tries to blame the mental illness problems on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their military service, they exaggerate the problem. With 17 years of "hot wars" in the 62 years since 1945 it must be remembered that most (even during wars) never saw combat. Another problem is that homeless vets suffer mental illness at half the rate of the general homeless population, strongly suggesting PTSD is not a big factor.
The truth is that HRI wants to raise "awareness" and money to expand the welfare state with more subsidized housing while removing focus from the real problems of the homeless.
53,741 FIRES; 3,788,883 ACRES BURNED SO FAR
Western forests and prairies are ablaze again. As of July 20, there have been 53,741 fires in the western United States since January 1. The fires have burned 3,788,883 acres and there are months of warm weather yet to go.
This year's fires will probably surpass last year's record 4,676,830 acres of burned timber and destroyed grasslands, not to mention habitat of untold numbers of endangered species. Ranchers are seeing their summer range go up in flames and they are hot under the collar about government mismanagement of the public lands. "The way we manage our resources today is to let it burn," said Harney County, Oregon Commissioner Jack Drinkwater of Burns. "We need to go back to the days when we logged and let the cattle in there to eat the grass. Then there wouldn't be all that fuel for these catastrophic fires," he said.
Oregon's U. S. Rep. Greg Walden visited the site of the huge Egley Complex Fire after being deluged by calls from angry constituents. Walden told a crowd of about 50 ranchers, agency personnel and concerned citizens the law needs to be changed to keep environmentalists from blocking forest and range management techniques. "We need to get to the fire, put out the fire and get in to salvage," Walden said. "190 million acres of land nationwide need treatment."
Idaho ranchers have also been hit hard as the fire in the 975 square mile Murphy Complex has killed unknown numbers of cattle. "This didn't have to happen," said Rep. Bert Brackett to The Times-News of Twin Falls as he stood over the charred body of a cow. "Had more cattle been allowed to graze, there would have been less available fuel." stated Bracket. Jon Marvel, executive director of the Idaho-based environmental group Western Watersheds Project, disagreed. "There is no scientific evidence that cattle or sheep grazing prevents fires at any time," he said. "If ranchers have evidence that grazing prevents fires, they should produce it." It is Marvel's group, however, that has worked for decades to remove cattle from the area. The wealthy Sun Valley architect's organization has filed countless lawsuits against the BLM in an attempt to force the agency to fulfill Marvel's political agenda against the ranchers.
Meanwhile, a northern Idaho man says firefighters set a backfire that destroyed his $1.2 million guest ranch, including an indoor riding arena. And another northern Idaho resident reported that his home was looted after he fled a fire near Waha.
Utah ranges have been equally devastated. The Milford Flat Fire burned over 360,000 acres in July and many think the Bureau of Land Management made things worse by not allowing enough cattle to graze rangeland and permitting piñon-juniper forests killed by bark beetles to remain standing. Utah State Senator Dennis Stowell, (R-Parowan), said, "I just feel like [we have] failed environmental policy in the whole country. We've got a lot of fuel build-up, a lot piñon-juniper. We're not managing the land enough." The people who bear the burden of government land mismanagement know how to solve the problems; question is will the politicians ever figure it out?
Reprinted by permission from Liberty Matters News Service, August 7, 2007 edition. www.libertymatters.org.
A SOLUTION TO OIL NEEDS?
On July 6, 2007, Eugene Bukoveczky wrote in Investopedia about a project which had its roots in apartheid South Africa. Because of its status as a world-wide pariah, South Africa was concerned that it might be subject to an oil embargo. With no oil of its own, it updated a technique of coal-to-oil conversion developed by the Nazis in World War II.
Sasol Ltd. is the company that successfully implemented the technology and South Africa now gets about 40% of its oil from that source.
The United States has an abundance of coal, twice the amount of proven coal reserves as Saudi Arabia has oil reserves. Several American companies, including Rentak Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation are eager to put the technology to work. JP Morgan has made a study showing that the construction of 70 to 100 plants could produce enough oil to replace all of our OPEC imports at a cost of about $48 a barrel.
China is moving ahead quickly with this technology to help fulfill its growing energy needs. In August of 2008, it anticipates its first plant will produce 20,000 barrels a day at a cost of about $30 a barrel. If it is successful, the plant will be expanded.
In the US, however, politics is slowing down the process. In June, the US Senate rejected both Democratic and Republican sponsored amendments to the Energy Bill because of concerns about carbon dioxide which is produced in the process. If a market can be developed for the carbon dioxide, however, the picture may change.
FORCE THE DEMOCRAT'S HAND ON
By James Lewis, June 13, 2007
The emerging conservative consensus is that border security must come first. But such a sound and sensible approach won't pass this Congress, because the Left will fight it. That was the key idea in President Bush's Lose-Lose compromise bill, which is now in shreds. The White House is going to try again, but it still can't possibly work as long as Ted Kennedy and the Democrats have more to gain from blocking border enforcement than from making it happen. And with La Raza writing memos to the Dems, effective border enforcement will never pass in the present Congress.
The President takes the Democrats' position as a given. In return, he hopes, the Dems will vote for things he wants in immigration. It's a formula for disastrous public policy.
But an aroused conservative base has caught on. Something much like this happened before 1994, when a GOP Congress took power in the House after a widespread voters' revolt. The Gingrich House came in with a firm and popular set of policy proposals, the Contract with America. It was only when the GOP became far too comfortable with the perks of power that it lost control in 2006.
President Bush can do us all a favor by proposing a sound Border Fence Appropriation Bill and dropping everything else. That will force the Dems to come out of the closet, because they will vote against effective border control. That bill may not pass this year, but it doesn't have to. It will set the goal for conservatives to fight for. It's a winning issue among the voters across parties.
Nothing President Bush can do today would be more statesmanlike than
proposing a sensible border security bill, and let the Democrats hang themselves
James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com
Reprinted by permission from American Thinker from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog
Two recent U. S. Supreme Court cases underscore the growing problems landowners face with government agencies continually expanding their power base by misapplication of environmental regulations.
The Court heard the cases of Michigan residents John Rapanos and June Caravel both of whom had been snarled for years in the web of Army Corps of Engineers illogical interpretation of the Clean Water Act. The Court's decision to remand the cases back to the lower court did little to alleviate the property owners' problem, however.
Jefferson G. Edgens, Ph. D. director of research for the Bluegrass Institute, writes that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) as well as other regulatory agencies, have made "fugitives of landowners, bankrupted others and left the remainder perplexed about their own property." The Bluegrass Institute report states: "The expanded control sought by these agencies has corresponded to the broadening of their definition of wetlands beyond the traditional designations of marshes, swamplands, ponds or other entities 'saturated with moisture' to include ditches, gullies and creeks that flow only after a rainstorm."
Justice Antonin Scalia branded the Corps an "enlightened despot" for its treatment of Rapanos and argued in his brief "that a broad definition of 'waters of the United States' places the federal government in the seat of being the nation's land-use 'czar.'"
Reprinted with permission from the August 26, 2006 Liberty Matters News Service. www.libertymatters.org.
IF YOU FEEL TAXES ARE TOO LOW. . .
For all those Democrats and demented others who are so willing to pay more to the government, Tech Central Station provided the address to do so in an August 23, 2006 article.
You can send additional money you think you owe to Gifts to the United States, US Department of the Treasury, Credit Accounting Brand, 3700 East-West Highway, Room 6D37, Hyattsville, MD 20782.
Last year the Treasury received 48 contributions for $21, 179 at that address. If you take into account all of the contributions to all of the departments of government which were made, the total 2005 numbers were $2,671,628.40.
So for all of those Democrats who want to pay more taxes, feel free to do so. I don't think the government is a good steward of the resources it already extracts from us.
Note that when Warren Buffet and Bill Gates (whose father has joined Buffet in objecting to the elimination of the estate tax) they put their own money in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which, as a non-profit foundation, pays no taxes. Likewise, all of the money donated escapes estate (death) taxes as well.
ISN'T THIS AMAZING
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
Capital Gains Tax
CDL license Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Court Fines (indirect taxes)
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel permit tax
Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon)
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax Interest expense (tax on the money)
Inventory tax IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Local Income Tax
Marriage License Tax
Real Estate Tax
Septic Permit Tax
Service Charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Road Toll Booth Taxes
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone federal excise tax
Telephone federal universal service fee tax
Telephone federal, state and
local surcharge taxes
Telephone minimum usage surcharge tax
Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges tax
Telephone state and local tax
Telephone usage charge tax
Toll Bridge Taxes
Toll Tunnel Taxes
Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)
Trailer Registration Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was the
most prosperous in the world, had absolutely no national debt, had
the largest middle class in the world and Mom stayed home to raise
What the heck happened?!?
Originally posted by "Steelian" on www.hannity.com discussion group
AN IDEA FOR TAX REFORM
Deroy Murdock, in his June 17, 2005 syndicated column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, had a suggestion for President Bush's bipartisan Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. He wants them to assist a neglected segment of society: the avowedly under-taxed.
The HOT (Higher-rate Optional Tax) would offer relief to powerful Democrats and wealthy liberals who cannot stand it when Republicans cut their taxes. Some examples he cited:
"I don't need a tax cut," Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, announced on the Senate floor. "It will not do me any more good. I can't buy more. I can't eat any more. I can't do any more, and I want it distributed among the ordinary people who work every day."
"If you think it's good policy to pay for my tax cut with the Social Security checks of working men and women and borrowed money from China, vote for them (the GOP)," former President Clinton at the Democratic Convention.
"I am a traitor to my class," actor Paul Newman said. "I think that tax cuts for wealthy thugs like me are borderline criminal. I live very high off the hog."
The HOT would ease all this pain. The IRS simply would add a small box to the 1040 tax form beside these words:
"If you believe you should be taxed at a rate above that assigned to your income bracket, please indicate here the higher rate you prefer. Kindly calculate your tax liability, and send it in."
This option is already available in Arkansas, Massachusetts and Virginia, but few use the opportunity.
When Massachusetts cut its top tax rate to 5.3% in 2001, it let guilty liberals pay the old 5.85% rate. As of June 15, only 930 taxpayers chose to do so on their 2004 returns, generating an extra $246,505.
Pro-tax Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., spurned the higher rate. "No, I won't" pay some $800 extra, Frank told Boston radio host Howie Carr. "I don't trust the legislative leadership and Gov. (Mitt) Romney to make the right decisions, so I'll donate the money myself."
"Americans recognize, as Congressman Frank also figured out, that government doesn't spend its money wisely as is and already takes too much of what we earn," National Taxpayers Union president John Berthoud observes.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., sailed into hot water last year when tax returns revealed that he also paid the Bay State's lower rate. Kerry thus enjoyed state tax cuts akin to the federal tax reductions he excoriated on the campaign trail.
Beneficent supply-siders should introduce the HOT in Congress even before the tax-reform commission's deadline.
American liberals should be given the earliest opportunity to stop resisting tax relief and send the Treasury as much of their own money as their bleeding hearts desire.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Ryan Sager of the New York Post, on March 17, 2005, broke a really interesting story about the hue and cry for campaign finance reform that resulted in the 1st Amendment-defying nightmare that now exists.
It turns out that of the $140 million which was spent from 1994 to 2004, $123 million (88%) came from just eight liberal foundations.
One of people behind the effort to make it look as though there was a great mass movement in favor of the reforms, Sean Treglia, a former program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, confesses it all at a conference at USC's Annenberg School for Communication in March of 2004. The Post obtained a copy of a video tape of Treglia telling the story after he left Pew.
Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money, and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform.
"The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says -- 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot -- that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."
The foundations involved in funding this sham were: the Pew Charitable Trusts ($40.1 million), the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy ($17.6 million), The Carnegie Corporation of New York ($14.1) million, the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million), George Soros' Open Society Institute ($12.6 million), the Jerome Kohlberg Trust ($11.3), the Ford Foundation ($8.8 million) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($5.5 million).
The left-wing groups that these foundations support include: the Earth Action Network, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Public Citizen Foundation and the Feminist Majority Foundation, among others.
Among the recipients of grants on the project to push campaign-finance reform were the following liberal media outlets: American Prospect magazine, National Public Radio, and the Radio and Television News Directory Foundation. All created articles or programs to promote reform.
Because of legal filing requirements, the press could have figured out these connections. However, most journalists were too ill-informed or too unconcerned to figure out the fraud.
"We had a scare," Treglia says. "As the debate was progressing and getting pretty close, George Will stumbled across a report that we had done and attacked it in his column. And a lot of his partisans were becoming aware of Pew's role and were feeding him information. And he started to reference the fact that Pew had played a large role in this -- that this was a liberal attempt to hoodwink Congress."
"But you know what the good news is from my perspective?" Treglia says to the stunned crowd. "Journalists didn't care . . . So no one followed up on the story. And so there was a panic there for a couple of weeks because we thought the story was going to begin to gather steam, and no one picked it up."
Treglia's right. While he admits Pew specifically instructed groups receiving its grants "never to mention Pew," all these connections were disclosed in various tax forms and annual reports. "If any reporter wanted to know, they could have sat down and connected the dots," he said. "But they didn't"
THE REAL DEAL ON THE GORE TAX
In a June 30, 2004 editorial, the Los Angeles Times (hardly a conservative bastion) took aim at a 1996 program that is up for renewal this year -- the "e-rate." This tax, aimed at providing schools and libraries with Internet access has cost consumers and phone companies upwards of $2 billion a year, is a rudderless program riddled with fraud and waste. This was the program championed by Al Gore when he was vice president.
The e-rate fund has distributed $12 billion over 6 years, and estimates place the amount wasted in the billions. Because of lack of oversight, it's impossible to know the extent of the losses.
An example was $101 million in e-rate funds spent in Puerto Rico. Some of the money went to 73,000 wireless connection cards for individual computers at $300 a piece in 1999. They have grown obsolete in a warehouse outside San Juan. Most Puerto Rican children still access the Internet through dial-up modems on roughly 2 computers per school.
A conflict of interest exists at the core of the program. Its dollars are doled out by a nonprofit corporation established by telecommunications service providers whose businesses benefit from the money. They are barely overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Los Angeles Times says this program should be made accountable or discontinued.
In my view, the latter choice is preferable.
LINE ITEM IN BUDGET: WASTE, FRAUD & ABUSE
Once again, the government demonstrates that there is very little that it does well. In the December 1, 2004 edition of the Niagara Falls Reporter, it is noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was extraordinarily quick and generous in handing out relief checks to residents in the Miami-Dade area in the wake of the multiple hurricanes that ravaged Florida during late summer and early autumn.
FEMA, according to an investigation by the Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale, has handed out at least $28 million so far for new cars, new TVs, new refrigerators, new, furniture, all sorts of minor appliances, and just about anything an alert homeowner would need to replace after a devastating storm.
The only thing wrong is that the four storms never touched Miami or Dade County. Not even a breeze. They didn't even come within 100 miles of the area. As usual, federal vigilance in persuing the claims was less than intense. Some of the money went to several bold claimants who put down ice and snow as the cause of their damage.
In Miami. Brilliant. Ice and snow.
Investigations are under way.
LAND SCHEMES CATCH ATTENTION OF IRS
The Internal Revenue Service has announced it is cracking down on individuals and non-profit organizations that make cozy land deals with one another. The IRS is particularly interested in gifts of "conservation easements" that provide deed restrictions having little to do with conservation of resources.
"We've uncovered numerous instances where the tax benefits of preserving open spaces and historic buildings have been twisted for inappropriate individual benefit," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson.
The IRS crack down comes in the wake of hearings held by the Senate Finance Committee last year that investigated easement transactions involving The Nature Conservancy. Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), welcomed the news. "I'm encouraged that the IRS is willing to challenge the tax-exempt status of charitable organizations that engage in shady practices in land donation transactions." Individuals who claim improper deductions may be penalized and charities may lose their tax-exempt status. "Taxpayers who want to game the system and the charities that assist them will be called to account," said Commissioner Everson.
Reprinted by permission of Liberty Matters News Service, from the July 8, 2004 edition. www.liberymatters.org
HOW YOUR TAXES WORK
Sometimes Politicians can exclaim; "It's just a tax cut for the rich!", and it is just accepted to be fact. But what does that really mean? Just in case you are not completely clear on this issue, we hope the following will help.
Tax Cuts - A Simple Lesson In Economics
This is how the cookie crumbles. Please read it carefully.
Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this: The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1. The sixth would pay $3. The seventh $7. The eighth $12. The ninth $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."
So, now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So, the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'? The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being 'PAID' to eat their meal.
So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings). The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings). Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man "but he got $10!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.
David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D
Distinguished Professor of Economics
536 Brooks Hall
University of Georgia
STRETCHING THE POOR
In a column published on Townhall.com, Thomas Sowell, on January 22, 2004, commented on the left's efforts to stretch out the poor to make them last as long as they can. The real problem is that the left is running out of the poor, who serve as a justification of the left's drive to extend their power over all the rest of us.
The average real income per person is rising in the bottom 20% on the income distribution. People seldom stay in the bottom brackets for more than a few years. Most of those same people are in the top 20% at one time or other.
The left cannot let the public know that most of the people in the lower income brackets are just passing through, instead of being stuck there for life. The statistics presented to the public cannot be in terms of real income per person, because that is rising, which undermines the left's vision. The liberal media discusses family or household income statistics, because families and households are getting smaller over the years. That conceals the rise in income per person.
Sowell refers to a five-pages-long article in the January 18th issue of the New York Times Magazine which highlights the story of a woman who has held a string of low-paying jobs and has problems caused by her lack of money. While this one woman's story proves little in a country of a quarter of a billion people, the Times story gets around this problem by simply declaring her to be like "millions at the bottom of the labor force" who are part of "the hidden America." This unsubstantiated assertion is crucial to the point that they are trying to make.
Most of the people at the bottom of the labor force are young and this is a middle-aged woman with grown children. There are undoubtedly individuals who, for one reason or another, have not moved up over the years, but transforming these exceptions into the rule is a part of the magic of left-wing rhetoric.
The Times reporter blamed other people for not solving this woman's problems for her. For example, "if the factory had just let Caroline work day shifts, her problem would have disappeared." The reporter declares: "Wages and hours are set by the marketplace and you cannot expect magnanimity from the marketplace." The straight story from the New York Times.
What does "magnanimity" mean in this context, except having somebody else pay for what this woman want? If she goes from the night shift to the day shift, somebody else is going to have to go from the day shift to the night shift.
Other people -- notably the taxpayers -- have already paid for her in terms of subsidized housing, government-provided dentures, and job training. Moreover, she has also helped herself to more $10,000 of other people's money by running up credit card debts that she avoided paying by declaring bankruptcy. But it is never enough.
Sowell finishes by saying: "Nothing is easier than for third parties to think up things that can be done at somebody else's expense. That is what the agenda of the left largely consists of."
WHAT IS CRUSHING MANUFACTURING
Bruce Bartlett, in National Review Online, December 15, 2003, commented on a study published the week before by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Manufacturers Alliance (MAPI) which detailed the true sources of manufacturing's problems. They do not originate is Asia, but here at home. Relative to our trading partners, the US imposes many costs on our manufacturing businesses that make it difficult for them to compete. Without these additional burdens, American firms would be far more cost-competitive, leading to increased employment and wages.
The NAM/MAPI study identifies four key areas where American manufacturing firms are significantly burdened compared to our principal competitors. It estimates they add 22.4% to the cost of production here relative to there. These included corporate taxes, employee benefits, pollution abatement expenses and tort liability costs.
Corporate taxes are 5.6% higher here on average than among our competitors,. Only Japan's corporate taxes are higher than ours; China's and Taiwan's are 15% lower.
Employee benefits, mainly for health, are 5.5% higher here. Only South Korea, France and Germany have higher benefit costs.
Pollution-abatement costs are 3.5% higher in the US. None of our competitors has costs higher than ours.
Our tort-liability system is 3.2% more expensive. No country has a system more expensive than ours.
A new study from Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, a consulting group, estimated that US tort costs climbed to $233 billion in 2002, 2.23% of the gross domestic product. This is like an $809-per-year tax on every American, paid in the form of higher prices for goods and services, higher insurance costs, and a deterioration of living standards. Less and less of each dollar awarded in tort suits actually compensates for injury. According to the Tillinghast study, only 22 cents on the dollar compensate for actual economic loss. The rest went to lawyers or involved punitive damages or those for "pain and suffering" that went far beyond compensating actual loss.
Because companies have to worry about the "jackpot-lottery" system of jury verdict system, they change their behavior in ways that are often injurious to everyone. For example, it is thought that $50 to $100 billion is wasted each year on unnecessary medical tests that doctors order just to protect themselves from a lawsuit. Pharmaceutical companies have cut back on the manufacture of vaccines in large part due to lawsuits, leaving many unprotected.
People know the heavy cost they pay for an out-of control legal system. A poll earlier this year for the American Tort Reform Association found that 76% of Americans believe that their health costs are higher because of excessive medical liability lawsuits. By a 2-to-1 margin, people believe that lawsuits are hurting the economy and discouraging the creation of jobs. Yet every effort to reform the system is blocked by the trial lawyers who have gotten rich off of it. And, as the biggest contributor to the Democratic party, they have the clout to do it.
RIGGING THE STATISTICS
Ralph de Toledano, in Insight magazine, in the 10/28/2003 issue, details the way phony statistics are used as a political tool.
For example, the claim that 43.6 million people are without health insurance. This is only an instant snapshot of a given day. People come on and off economic and participation levels, so on an annual basis the figure of those without medical insurance for the year always is roughly one-half of that. The largest group not on health insurance is young people who figure that paying medical bills is cheaper than the cost of health insurance premiums. They don't want insurance.
It is claimed that the poverty rate rose to 12.1% last year. It was 15.7% in Bill Clinton's first year as president and 12.7% in the Clinton "prosperity" year of 1998.
According to the Census Bureau, the 37 million "poor" Americans were better housed, fed and had more personal property that the average American had throughout most of the century.
Nearly 40% of "poor" households owned their own homes, the average of which is a 3-bedroom house with a garage. More than 750,000 had homes worth more than $100,000, and 71,000 owned $300,000 homes. Nearly 60% of the homes have more than two rooms per person -- twice as much living space as the average Japanese. The same percentage have air conditioning.
64% own a car; 14% own two or more. 74% own microwave ovens; 23% have automatic dishwashers; 91% have color TV and 29% have two or more sets.
"Poor" Americans are better off than the general population of Europe. Their children eat more meat than do higher-income children, and have protein intakes 100% higher than middle-class children. The obesity rate is higher among the "poor" than among the middle class. The daily intake of such vitamins as E, C and thiamin among children in families below 75% of the poverty threshold is greater than among children in families 300% above that threshold.
Strange contradictions exist in poverty statistics. In 1993, the Census Bureau reported that the lowest one-fifth of US households had an average income of $7,263. Meanwhile, the US Department of Labor showed the same group of households spent $13,486. A similar gap between alleged income and spending has been reported steadily year by year.
Part of the reason is that in ascertaining the income of those below the poverty level, the Labor Department does not include public housing, health-care subsidies through Medicaid, Medicare and other federal, state and local programs.
The Census Bureau fails to count most welfare benefits as income. For example, if a family received $4,000 in food stamps and $5,000 in housing aid, these benefits have zero income value. It also fails to count the enormous "underground economy" of persons who perform work "off the books" to avoid taxes. These unreported earnings are estimated to be worth anywhere from $300 to $500 billion a year.
The Census Bureau ignores household assets. In determining if a household is "poor" the Census Bureau counts only the household income in the current year. It ignores all assets accumulated in prior years. Thus, a businessman who has suffered losses, and as a result has a zero or negative income for the current year will be counted officially as "poor" even if he owns a home and has several million dollars in the bank.
The "poverty" figures that most of the media so happily brandish have a non-existent link to economic fact. But those alleged figures make good politics for those who want us to look the other way.
AMERICORPS' PAID "VOLUNTEERS"
On July 25, 2003, the House of Representatives refused to include an additional $100 million for AmeriCorps in an emergency supplemental funding bill. According to the Associated Press, critics say the agency is mismanaged and does not deserve an additional infusion of money in this bill.
Agency allies and officials have said if the money was not approved by the summer break, beginning July 25, it would have to scuttle 20,000 of its 50,000 volunteer slots.
House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who said in a brief interview that no AmeriCorps funds would be approved, said the agency had retained more volunteers than it could afford, causing its own problems.
Though members of both parties agree that AmeriCorps has been badly managed, support runs strong for the agency. It also is a favorite of President Bush.
The House plans to debate a separate bill which would fund the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps, at $480 million for fiscal year 2004, beginning on October 1, 2003. Bush proposed $598 million for next year.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, in the case of Dana v. American Youth Foundation, No. 237919, decided in the Michigan Court of Appeals on June 24, 2003, the Court ordered that plaintiff be awarded unemployment insurance benefits.
The plaintiff worked for American Youth Foundation (an AmeriCorps program) from October 30, 1995 to August 31, 1996. She received a monthly stipend totaling $7,945 over the course of her service. She also qualified for health insurance and a child-care allowance during her service. At the end of her term, Dana received an education award of $4,725 to be used within 7 years of the completion of her service.
When her term of service ended, she applied for unemployment.
Under the federal law establishing AmeriCorps, the federal government does not allow participants to obtain unemployment benefits when their terms are complete.
The Michigan Court, however, determined that AmeriCorps programs are not work-relief or work-training programs which would make them exempt from unemployment coverage under Michigan law. Instead, the Court agreed with the lower court's determination that the primary purpose of these programs "was to encourage service to community."
The Michigan legislature should solve this problem now. It is bad enough to pervert the language by calling paid workers "volunteers." Making them eligible for unemployment benefits for these "volunteer" jobs is one step too far.
National Review Online, in an article written by Joel Mowbray, on January 24, 2003, reported on the reaction of Consular Affairs (CA) chief Maura Harty to a January 27 article in the same publication.
The article told of a plan by the State Department to enter into a "Totalization Agreement" with Mexico. Totalization is government-speak for combining or "totalizing" the Social Security taxes paid by individuals into the US's and a foreign country's respective systems to create a single, harmonized retirement payment. Unlike the agreements with most countries, in which only those people legally residing and working in the United States are covered, Harty was in the process of negotiating a deal with Mexico to include illegal aliens.
When Mowbray exposed the details of this plan, Harty lashed out at CA staff members, declaring that the "leak" at State was a "traitor."
It seems that those at State knew the plan would include illegal aliens, and knew that the White House officials didn't know. Government investigators are looking into why officials at State and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have consistently mischaracterized and understated the progress of the talks with Mexico.
At the request of the House Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office is going to calculate the true costs, with and without illegal aliens. If the agreement is similar to the 20 that are already in place, the costs are relatively low. If, however, the 7 to 11 million illegals are included, the cost skyrockets to hundreds of billions of dollars.
The original plan was to finalize the agreement by the end of February with State submitting the accord to Congress. However, Congress doesn't have to approve the Totalization Agreement for it to take effect; so long as Congress doesn't affirmatively vote it down, the Agreement becomes law. Sources report that many officials at State, SSA and the White House are starting to get cold feet.
Harty reportedly tried to push the deal through to curry favor with the White House by coming to an agreement which would make Mexican President Vicente Fox happy. It appears that her efforts to impress Karl Rove and company may not succeed.
HOW MUCH WE OWE. . .
The continuing case, which resulted in US District Judge Royce Lambert holding Bruce Babbitt and Robert Rubin in contempt of court during the Clinton administration, goes on without resolution.
Arising from the 1887 action of Congress which assigned small allotments of land to individual American Indians and gave the Interior Department the responsibility for managing the royalties from the natural resources, it appears insoluble.
The Associated Press reported on January 7, 2003 that the Interior Department is incapable of producing records to accurately account for the money. The Department estimates that about $13 billion in Indian royalties have been collected since 1909. The Indians claim losses of $40 billion to $137 billion.
The Interior Department has now come up with a $335 million, 5-year plan, to do a transaction-by-transaction accounting of the money in the largest Indian accounts, and to do a statistical sampling of enough of the smaller accounts to pin down the amount owed within 99%.
So many documents have been destroyed or lost, the Indians claim no accurate accounting is possible and urge the court to adopt an analysis similar to the one used to produce the $137 billion.
YOU THINK ENRON HAS PROBLEMS?
In the 2001 Financial Report of the United States Government, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill revealed that when the government uses the same accounting method that corporations are required to use, the federal deficit in 2001 was $515 billion rather than the reported surplus of $127. The difference is mainly due to the health benefits to military retirees, John Crudele reported in NYPOST.COM on May 28, 2002.
In that same Financial Report, Crudele noted that last year the government misplaced an incredible $17.4 billion because of shoddy bookkeeping. He tells how to find it.
Go to www.USTreas.gov , click on Treasury Bureau on the left, then click on "financial management services.
If you've made it this far click on "Financial Report of the U.S. Government" for 2001 and download it.
Now find page 49. Look at the line that says "Unreconciled transactions affecting the change in net position." The figure in the 2001 column next to that is $17.3 billion.
What that means is that when the accountants tried to balance the government's books, they came up $17.4 billion short. Note 16 on page 110 sort of explains.
That footnote says that the accountants had to pencil in $17.4 billion that didn't exist (or was missing) in order to achieve a balanced government ledger.
The footnote adds that the mistake could simply be bad record keeping or "improper recording of intragovernmental transactions by agencies."
Keep this in mind when you hear the Democrats talk about undoing the tax cuts.
DID THEY REALLY SAY THAT?
These are actual comments left on US Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips :
"A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call."
"Escalators would help on steep uphill sections."
"Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness."
"Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands."
"Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals."
"All the mile markers are missing this year."
"Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse."
"Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill."
"Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests."
"Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter."
"Chair lifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them."
"The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals."
"Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights."
"Need more signs to keep area pristine."
"A McDonald's would be nice at the trail head."
"The places where trails do not exist are not well marked."
"Too many rocks in the mountains."
IT'S NOT JUST SCREW-UPS. . .
A couple of months ago, we featured an article about screw-ups in the FBI who got promoted. This is even worse.
The Associated Press reported on March 13, 2002 about a Navy employee Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, testified about in a hearing before the House Government Reform subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Cal. The employee, Tanya Mays, charged nearly $12,000 in personal expenses on her government credit card. The purchases included a computer, a kitchen appliance, clothing and groceries. Mays was never disciplined and has never been asked to repay the government for any of the purchases. Instead, she was promoted in October, 2001, to a key Army financial management office at the Pentagon and placed in charge of "cash integration."
More than 46,000 Defense Department employees had defaulted on $623 million in official travel expenses charged to the government cards as of November, 2001. The bad debts, which banks that issue the cards have been forced to write off, are growing at the rate of $1 million a month.
Horn and Grassley said they intend to ask Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to determine what action should be taken against 713 commissioned officers who have defaulted on $1.1 million in charges on their government-issued travel cards. The accounts have been unpaid for seven months or more and include individual balances of up to $8000. The officers range from junior lieutenants to senior colonels and a Navy captain.
"Somebody over in the Pentagon needs to come down hard on the officer scofflaws," said Grassley. "Credit card abuse in the military will never stop until the officers clean up their act."
HERE A TRIBE, THERE A TRIBE. . .
The Associated Press, on March 1, 2002, reported that Michael Anderson, the acting head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the end of the Clinton administration, sat in his car three days after leaving office, on Jan. 22, 2001, and signed documents granting a group of American Indians status as a tribe against the recommendations of the BIA staff. A BIA staffer then stamped the document with a date of Jan. 19, 2001 -- Anderson's last day on the job.
In a report by the inspector general, which disclosed these actions, the chaos and arguments which took place in the last days of the Clinton administration are documented.
Federal recognition as a tribe grants Indians status as a sovereign nation and makes them eligible for many federal benefits. It also can pave the way for casinos on their land.
The Bush administration secretary of Indian affairs, Neal McCaleb, announced the retirement of the official who had authorized the signing. He also reversed the Duwamish recognition decision last September, saying the group of 560 Indians does not meet the criteria for federal recognition. The Duwamish are appealing.
SCREW UP -- GET PROMOTED
In the January 14, 2001 edition of Human Events, Terence P. Jeffrey discussed a report issued by a subcommittee chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter on the Wen Ho Lee investigation which "involved allegations of espionage as significant as any the United States is likely to face."
Dr. Stephen Young, the associate laboratory director of nuclear weapons at Los Alamos, speaking of the information Lee was suspected of passing to the Chinese, said: "These codes, and their associated data bases, and the input file, combined with someone that knew how to use them, could, in my opinion, in the wrong hands, change the global strategic balance. They enable the possessor to design the only objects that could result in the military defeat of America's conventional forces."
Despite the magnitude of the danger, the FBI put the investigation on the fourth lowest priority within the National Security Division at FBI headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico (FBI-AQ).
"At every level of management at FBI-AQ from May 1996 to August 1998," says the report, "there was a failure to provide proper supervision to the case and its case agents." The Special Agent in Charge (SAC) for most of the investigation paid so little attention to the project that he was not even aware of the underlying predicate until after he left the FBI-AQ. Two incompetent agents were assigned to be the Supervisory Special Agents (SA) sequentially.
The report says of the first SA: "The conclusion is inescapable that [SA-1] should never have been assigned a case of this magnitude. Although it states the obvious, it was not [SA-1's] fault that he was assigned the Wen Ho Lee investigation." The italics were in the original report. "The most fulsome praise [an FBI Supervisory Special Agent (SSA)] could muster about [SA-1]," says the report, "was that he was not the worst agent with whom [the SSA] had ever worked."
He finally took himself off the case by taking a promotion to FBI-HQ.
The second agent was also incompetent. The report states: "[SA-2] was a significant improvement over [SA-1] as the Wen Ho Lee case agent. Having said that, he also was not an appropriate choice to be the sole agent running a major espionage investigation that required initiative, aggressiveness and speed." He was also removed from the case by being kicked up the ladder.
The SAC who chose SA-1, Tom Kneir, was promoted to Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Division at FBI-HQ in 1996. Another SAC, James Weber, who failed to oversee the investigation appropriately was promoted to Deputy Assistant Director of the International Operations Branch at FBI-HQ. The Assistant SAC for more than two years of the Wen Ho Lee investigation who was most directly in line to pursue the investigation aggressively, and did not, was in the process of leaving the Albuquerque Division for his new job at FBI-HQ in August 1998.
We will soon see whether the FBI has changed. The New York Times reported on January 30, 2002 that the new director, Robert S. Mueller, III, has transferred a senior counterintelligence official, Sheila Horan, one of the bureau's highest ranking women, for failing to conduct a sufficiently aggressive inquiry into an investigation of suspicions of Chinese espionage. She was moved from acting head of the bureau's national security division to an administrative support position. FBI officials said she was expected to leave the bureau.
AN OINK, OINK, HERE. . .
In looking at the new farm bill which Sen. Tom Daschle considered more important than the President's stimulus package last December, Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. of The Heritage Foundation had some interesting observations.
David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, Sam Donaldson and Scottie Pippen, all rich and famous, collect subsidies from the federal farm program. So do at least 14 members of Congress. They grow, or agree not to grow, the "right" crops -- the corn, wheat, rice, cotton and soybeans that eat up 90% of subsidy dollars. The farmers foolish enough to produce the "wrong" ones -- poultry, eggs, cattle, nuts (with the exception of peanuts) and most vegetables get nothing from Uncle Sam.
Not all subsidies go to rich people. Some go to rich corporations. Chevron, with revenues of $5.2 billion in 2000, received $260,223 between 1996 and 2000. John Hancock Life Insurance, with $9 billion in annual revenues, raked in $21,368.
Other subsidies from 1996 to 2000 were:
David Rockefeller, former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank -- $352,187 for corn, wheat and soybeans.
Ted Turner, net worth more than $6 billion, $176,077.
Scott Pippen, who will make $18.1 million this year playing basketball, will get $131,575 not to grow crops.
Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. member of the House Agriculture Committee, more than $750,000.
Rep. Doug Ose, R-Cal., 22nd richest member of Congress, $149,000 in rice subsidies.
Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, net worth $7 million, has pocketed nearly $50,000.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., a member of the Senate Committee dealing with agriculture, $351,085.
The House passed the "Farm Security Act of 2001" (conveniently renamed after 9/11) which is to be reconciled with the Senate version later this year, adds $73 billion to the $95 billion already approved for farm subsidies next year.
Why push this through now? Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said: "The money is in the budget now. If we do not use the money, it is very likely not going to be available next year."
No wonder Mr. Daschle doesn't like the tax cuts which are scheduled to occur.
AG DEPARTMENT DOES IT TOO
An Agriculture Department agency used inflated numbers to make a rural housing program look more successful and persuaded Congress to more than double funding to $100 million a year, the Department's inspector general reported.
The Associated Press reported on July 13, 2001, the Rural Housing Service told Congress it had helped build 3,650 affordable apartments in 1998 and 1999. But only 222 rental units had actually been built by 2000. The agency counted the number of units planned, many of which will not be built, to help get large budget increases.
While the agency's Carl W. Wagner admitted that a literal reading of the report would lead one to the false conclusion that it was referring to units built rather than those which were planned, he defended the reports by saying that Congress knew the agency was reporting the number of apartments planned, not the number actually built.
The program offers loan guarantees to developers who build affordable apartments in rural areas, where among other things, farmers' need for seasonal workers increases demand for seasonal housing. It replaced a program that gave direct loans to builders. This program has proved unpopular because those persons who need the housing cannot afford to pay market rate and the finances do not work.
NO WONDER THEY DON'T WANT A TAX CUT
IRS records show that 340,000 federal government employees or retirees getting government pensions last year owed a total of $2.5 billion in unpaid taxes.
This includes 2,975 workers who were employed by the IRS itself, Scripps Howard News Service reported on June 16, 2001. A 1998 law says IRS employees can be reprimanded if they are found making an intentional error that results in underpayment of taxes, or fired if they are found to be negligent in paying their taxes.
The General Accounting Office report found that 36% of the cases were delinquent for more than a year and 29%, involving $1.4 billion, was due for taxes assessed prior to 1995.
The rate of non-compliance of more than 8 million federal workers and retirees was about 5% while the rate among the general public is 7%. The IRS estimates the total of unpaid taxes at $240 billion.
IS THERE NO END TO CORRUPTION?
The Pentagon agency charged with rooting out fraud destroyed documents and substituted fakes to win a passing grade in an audit of its own operations, according to an internal inquiry, the Associated Press reported on June 6, 2001.
The incident occurred as the Pentagon inspector general's work was about to be reviewed by auditors working for the Internal Revenue Service's inspector general. The review was part of a routine program where one government agency's inspector general's office checks the work of another. The unsuspecting IRS reviewers found "no problems" with the Pentagon's audit work after poring over the phony documents, concluded an internal report, written by a Defense Department inspector general's employee assigned to investigate her own agency. A whistleblower tipped Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who wrote Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
The 983 hours spent creating the fake documents cost the government $63,000. The scheme started when the IRS selected 8 Defense Department audits for review. Senior Pentagon officials realized that working papers for a 1988 audit report would not get a passing grade.
"Instead of submitting it and suffering the consequences, a decision was made to destroy all the original work papers and to re-create an entirely new set," Grassley wrote Rumsfeld. He said 12 to 15 officials in the Defense Department inspector general's office were involved, including senior auditors.
The senator also said that disciplinary actions were under consideration only for lower-ranking auditors and their immediate supervisors but not senior officials.
WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE
While there is no line item in the national budget called "Waste, Fraud and Abuse," there certainly should be. As you hear the spendthrifts talk about how the government cannot get by with about a nickel less in every dollar of taxes over the next ten years, keep these examples in mind.
WorldNetDaily reported on Jan. 22, 2001 about a Human Events expose of a study by the Capital Research Center which revealed that at least 18 of the nonprofit organizations that sent representatives to a Jan. 9 meeting to organize the left-wing opposition to Attorney General John Ashcroft's nomination received federal tax dollars. In the four funding years of 1996 to 1999 the grants received by the groups added up to almost $150,000.
On April 3, 2001, Associated Press reported that the Education Department's chief inspector said the department had lost nearly half a billion dollars in the past three years to waste, fraud and errors. Among the findings were that about 230 employees had credit cards in their names with most allowed to charge up to $10,000 a month without any oversight, 36 could charge up to $25,000 and two could charge up to $300,000. In criminal actions, $3 million in grants was stolen and, in another case, 6 employees plead guilty to stealing $1 million in equipment and to falsely reporting overtime.
At the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Inspector General could not account for more than 61,000 items worth about $70 million including 539 weapons and 12,000 computers, The Washington Times reported on April 18, 2001.
On March 30, 2001, the Indianapolis Star reported that 17 people were charged with defrauding the Indianapolis Housing Authority of nearly $50,000. This program is subsidized through the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
The Defense Department paid General Electric $50 million too much on several jet-engine contracts in the 1990's and took years to recoup the money, allowing General Electric to earn $5.5 million in interest which does not have to be returned to the Pentagon, Defense Week reported April 16, 2001.
On May 9, 2001, Scripps Howard News Service reported that the Internal Revenue Service workers used more than half of their online time at work to visit sex sites, gamble, trade stocks, participate in chat rooms and do other nonwork activity. The Treasury Department's inspector general's report did not sit well with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). He noted that during this year's tax season, 37% of taxpayers calling the IRS for tax information didn't get their calls answered. Those that did get a response were given wrong answers 47% of the time.
Get the money out of Washington.
GET THE MONEY OUT OF TOWN
When you hear the Democrats moaning about the "enormous tax cut" that President George W. Bush is proposing, don't run out to buy dog food for your favorite senior citizen. Take a look at some of the "investments" of the last administration.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on March 24, 2001 on the misuse of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Funds in that city's Housing Authority.
Decrying what he call Third World-style corruption in San Francisco government, a federal judge sentenced a city official, Patricia Williams, to more than five years in prison for masterminding a bribery scheme involving the sale of as much as $500,000 worth of low-income housing vouchers.
The sentencing came two days after Williams' former boss Ronnie Davis was indicted for stealing funds from the housing authority in Cleveland, where he used to work. He was suspended from his post in San Francisco.
In all, a federal grand jury indicted 22 people for participating in the bribery scheme, and many who pleaded guilty to lesser charges were called to testify.
Not to be undone, the east coast plunders the HUD programs, too. The New York Post reported on the same day that the Galveston County Daily News had been trying for three months to get hold of documents under a Freedom of Information Act request relating to HUD spending under Andrew Cuomo's reign.
The Daily News was curious about why Texas was awarded far less funding on homeless issues than was New York. However, the New York Post noted that it had been documenting since 1998 how young Cuomo spread federal largesse across his home state in preparation for a run for his father's old job, governor of New York.
HUD seems to be a particularly vulnerable agency. The Associated Press reported on March 3, 2001 that a federal program that allows police officers and teachers to buy half-priced homes in troubled neighborhoods is plagued by widespread fraud and lax oversight. The HUD inspector general's office reports that 9 police officers have been convicted and 72 more are under investigation for defrauding HUD.
The biggest problem is that participants buy a discounted home through the Officer Next Door/Teacher Next Door program and agree to live there for three years, but rent, sell or leave it vacant before then.
HUD now estimates that one in four participants has misused the program, the report said. Since the program was created in 1997 to help blighted neighborhoods, 4,732 police officers and 805 teachers have bought half-priced homes.
The program "appears to be at high risk for noncompliance and abuse by homebuyers," auditor Nancy Cooper wrote in the preliminary report in February.
Maybe this is a program we can do without.
Get the money out of town.
INDIANS WIN ONE
Alan Balaran, who was appointed by US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth to oversee the process of attempting to straighten out the records relating to payment of royalties to Indians for resources removed from their lands complained that some Justice and Interior Department lawyers "have launched a misguided campaign to undermine my authority," the Associated Press reported on Feb. 13, 2001.
Balaran is launching a formal probe of the Interior Department's Office of Trust records, which was formed to handle the records involved in the lawsuit which seeks to force the US to pay more than 300,000 Indians more than $10 billion which has accumulated from over a century of mismanagement.
The Justice Department lawyers dispute Balaran's claims.
In a Feb. 22, 2001 article, the Washington Post reported that Balaran urged Judge Lamberth to launch contempt of court proceedings against former secretary Bruce Babbitt, mid-level Interior officials and government lawyers for retaliating against a longtime employee who criticized the government's efforts at overhauling the trust fund system. She was stripped of her duties in March 2000 after exposing the problems. She sits at home, collecting a salary, waiting for her next assignment.
The Interior Department denies the charges.
But, finally, on Feb. 24, 2001, the Washington Post reported that the US Circuit Court of Appeals for DC agreed with Judge Lamberth's findings that the "federal government has failed time and again to discharge its fiduciary duties." This decision means that Lamberth now can move forward and determine how much is owed to the Indians.
The government lawyers had not yet decided whether they would try to appeal to the entire appellate court.
For additional information see the Archives under Federal Government:
April 1999: Contemptible Secretaries
October 1999: Contempt Costs Us Cash
February 2000: Treasury Department 'Out of Control'
March 2000: Judge to Oversee Indian Trusts
UNIONS LOOK ASKANCE AT HUD HIRING
Three months before a new administration was to take office, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was getting ready to hire up to 900 people, 10% of its current workforce, the Washington Post reported on October 30, 2000.
No official announcement was made and no job openings were posted, raising suspicions in HUD's unions that Project Hire was a scheme for mass "burrowing" of political appointees into the civil service, or for forcing out veteran HUD employees, particularly minorities.
While Congress was looking at the program carefully, an unnamed department official predicted the hiring would extend beyond the election, probably until the inauguration in January.
While anti-burrowing rules require the Office of Personnel Management approval for an agency to hire political employees in a civil service job, the unions are still concerned. They worry that their members may not be given a fair shot at the jobs in competitions against outsiders. Anxiety is particularly high among blacks and Hispanics.
CLINTON WON'T GO QUIETLY
Even after election day, Clinton continues to make mischief. According to Reuters, November 9, 2000, Clinton signed proclamations "protecting" nearly 1 million acres in Arizona and Idaho.
While local officials and Western lawmakers were not consulted, the environmentalists were pleased. He proclaimed Vermilion Cliffs National Monument covering 293,000 acres of federal land on the Colorado Plateau in Arizona and expanded Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho by 661,000 acres.
TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS
The Libertarian Party's press secretary, George Getz, released some comments on August 30, 2000 about one of the latest projects of the Department of Agriculture (USDA). (This is the same department that is trying to handle the bovine tuberculosis problem, remember. . . .)
"We know the federal bureaucrats don't have enough to do, but when they start to cheddar-chatter about the correct size of the holes in Swiss cheese, well, they ought to be dipped in a fondue pot.
"The fact is, the only holes that need to be regulated are the holes in the heads of federal bureaucrats."
Late in July the USDA released a proposed new 15 page regulation that would require the holes in Swiss cheese to be reduced from an average of 11/16" to 3/8" in diameter in order to qualify for a federal Grade A rating. This change is proposed by lobbyists from the cheese industry, which wants the more popular smaller-hole cheese to qualify for Grade A rating rather than the Grade B it now gets, which reduces the price.
Getz sees no reason why the government is involved in the size of holes in Swiss cheese and suggests that the marketplace will allow customers to choose their favorite size of holes.
"Frankly, Americans are getting feta up with this kind of meddling. If these federal busybodies are not stopped, what will they regulate next? The size of the holes in doughnuts? The holes in onion rings? The holes in Bill Clinton's alibis?"
Getz concluded: "Americans don't need Monterey Jack-booted thugs from the USDA messing around with our Swiss cheese. The bottom line is that this cheese regulation is to the proper function of government what Cheese Whiz is to real cheese."
THEY ARE AFTER YOUR WASHER NOW
Remember the geniuses who decided how much water could come out of your shower head and how many gallons of water your toilet could use? They are after your washer now.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute in a July 1, 2000 release, the federal bureaucrats and government-funded environmental activists have spent millions of tax dollars critiquing washing machines. They have determined the popular top-loading design uses too much water and too much energy to heat that water.
The feds prefer front-loading washing machines which remain unpopular with consumers. They cost several hundred dollars more than top-loaders and longer cycle times. Today, they comprise less than 10% of the market.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is, therefore, going to mandate the top-loaders out of existence. (Remember, this is the group that can't seem to keep our nuclear secrets under control.) Under authority delegated to the DOE in the 1987 National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, DOE can set energy efficiency requirements for clothes washers and most other household appliances. On May 23, the department announced new standards that will effectively regulate top-loaders out of existence over the next few years.
Rules such as these are supported by a coalition of DOE bureaucrats and federally-funded advocacy groups who make their living from the energy efficiency game. Ironically, the process of creating an appliance efficiency standard is a marvel of inefficiency, requiring 34 discrete bureaucratic steps unfolding over the span of several years. This exercise keeps a lot of Washington paper-pushers permanently employed.
ADMINISTRATION GRABS FRIARS PROPERTY
The latest victims of Clinton's legacy quest are the Franciscan Friars of Atonement at Graymoor in New York, National Review Online reported on July 20, 2000.
The Catholic friars have been in Garrison, New York, for more than 100 years, their property partially crossed by the Appalachian Trail since 1923. In 1984, at the Park Service's request, the Friars handed over 58 acres of their land to the federal government. For many years, the friars have voluntarily hosted hikers on the trail, offering free meals, showers and sleeping accommodations. In addition, the 43 friars and 85 sisters who live at Graymoor operate a pilgrimage center, a homeless shelter and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, and an ecumenical institute which serves over 1,000 people annually.
However, the Park Service is now trying to force the friars to turn over an additional 20 to 60 acres for "scenic protection" which goes beyond the Park Service's mandate -- actually, in effect expanding the Trail. The Park Service has decided to hand the case over to the Justice Department for eminent domain proceedings to force the friars to give up the land.
National Review Online notes: "Besides wondering how the federal government could possibly make better use of this land than the friars are, one wonders: Doesn't the Clinton administration realize these monks are potential Hillary voters?"
In his frenzy to give himself a "monumental" legacy, Clinton has named more national monuments.
The Washington Post reported on June 10, 2000, that Vice President Gore visited Washington state on June 9, to tout two new monuments in the Pacific Northwest, a key campaign battleground. He traveled a portion of the 51-mile "Hanford Reach" of the Columbia River and announced the creation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in south-central Oregon, along the California border. This area includes Soda Mountain and encompasses about 52,000 acres controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.
Officials described the other two new monuments: The Ironwood Forest National Monument, near Tucson and the new Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado's Four Corners region, near Durango.
On July 16, 2000, The Deseret News reported that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has recommended President Clinton designate a 280,000-acre national monument centered on Paria Canyon along the border shared by northern Arizona and southern Utah.
If these folks don't leave Washington soon, everything west of the Mississippi will be "monumental."
THE NAVAJOS' LAST STAND
In our June 1999 newsletter, we reported on an ongoing problem between the Hopi and the Navajo tribes which has lasted over 100 years. (See "Navajo Noose Tightens" under Socialism in the Archives.) At that time, somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 Navajos were still to be removed from the land in dispute or had to come to an accommodation with the Hopi. The Dallas Morning News of June 7, 2000 provides an update.
Now there are 12.
One, Roberta Blackgoat, 83 has been a trespasser on her land since February 1, 2000. She and the other 11, mostly elderly Navajos, have refused to sign papers to settle their differences with the Hopi. They could have signed agreements that let them remain on their land for 75 years, have a 3-acre home site and a 10-acre farm but refuse to do so.
They would have to abide by Hopi jurisdiction, and this is intolerable.
These resistors are adamant that they will not leave. They are spread out over a wide rugged area.
While the Hopis are adamant that the remaining dozen must agree to the accommodation and "become Hopi" or leave, legal actions are expected to last another two years.
So far, $390 million of the Congressionally budgeted $430 million has been spent.
NEW FLOOD INSURANCE "FEE"
The Naples Daily News on March 5, 2000 brought to light a new "license fee" tucked into the Clinton-Gore administration's budget request to Congress. It is an increase in the fee on virtually all home mortgages: flood zone certifications.
Although the vast majority of homes in the United States are not located in 100-year flood zones, federal law requires lenders to obtain a certification to that effect for every property they finance. The certification charge of $25 to $30 is usually wedged in among charges for loan origination, appraisal, credit, document preparation, tax service and other fees that must be paid the lender.
Under the new proposal, the firms that lenders contract with to provide flood-hazard certifications would have to pay the federal government $12 per loan to examine flood zone maps prepared and maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which runs the National Flood Insurance Program.
The object of this fee is to raise $104 million during the course of the year so FEMA can update its maps more often. Unlike the present system, consumers buying or refinancing properties located nowhere near an actual flood zone could bear a large portion of the expense.
SECRET SEARCHES SNEAKING INTO LAW
Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute had a guest column in the May 18, 2000 edition of National Review Online in which he outlined the Reno Department of Justice plan to allow secret searches of homes.
The Secret Searches item already passed the Senate, hidden inside the methamphetamine giant S. 486. It is also hidden in the federal bankruptcy reform bill which is currently in conference. It would, however, apply to all searches conducted by the federal government, not just those involving methamphetamines or bankruptcy.
Presently, federal agents must announce their presence before entering, provide an inventory of any items taken and the person whose home or business is being searched can exercise his rights and make certain a properly-issued warrant exists. He can also make certain the police are searching only for the items authorized by the warrant.
Under a Secret Searches law, federal police could enter a person's home surreptitiously, conduct a search, and not tell the homeowner until months later. Even then, police would not have to provide an inventory of "intangible" items which were taken in a search. If the police entered your home secretly and photocopied your diary or made a copy of your computer hard disk, they would never have to inform you of their actions.
If the Secret Searches item is deleted from the methamphetamine and bankruptcy bills, it is likely that Clinton will try to sneak it into a gigantic budget bill at the end of the fiscal year.
FOREST SERVICE DEALS WITH ECO-NUTS?
In information forced to be turned over her subcommittee, Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R.- Idaho, found a Jan. 24 memo showing the Forest Service was developing an agreement that would allow the World Wildlife Fund and the Conservation Biology Institute to develop a process for mapping and assessing roadless national forests, a key step in Clinton's plan to bar development of millions of acres of forests, the Associated Press reported on March 14, 2000.
The memo Chenoweth's staff found is a draft of a proposal for a $650,000 grant for the Wildlife Fund and the Biology Institute from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In the memo, the groups say they are eager to sign an agreement that would have the Forest Service and the groups "work together to create a sound, science-based roadless areas assessment." At the the Forest Service's urging, it said, the agreement "will be national in scope."
"We have a huge opportunity to influence the Forest Service and perhaps other agencies to move progressively on the roadless areas issue and perhaps others," the memo says.
Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck said he never would sign such an agreement and cannot be held accountable for a memo written be two environmental groups.
IN THE DEPARTMENT OF WASTED MONEY
Someone in the Clinton Administration's Department of Commerce (DOC) must have some friends in the direct mail business. The Bureau of the Census is a part of the DOC (which you will remember was selling trade trips to Democratic National Committee donors under former Secretary Ron Brown -- now deceased.) Not only did the Census Bureau send out a letter dated March 6, 2000 to tell you that you will get another letter in a week -- the census form, it sent out about 100 million of them. In each and every case, the address was wrong because the program automatically added a digit to the front of the address. But even worse, the envelope contained an envelope. There is nothing in this letter which directs you to send anything back. There is nothing to send back. One presumed that the next mailing, the census form, also will contain an envelope. Let's find out who sells envelopes. (Census officials said that in the non-English portions of the form, people who wanted forms in a different language could request them using the return envelope.)
BABBITT HAS MORE PLANS FOR LAND
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has decided to "protect" more federal land in the West by establishing a new National Landscape Monuments system, which he announced on Feb. 17 the Associated Press reported on Feb. 18, 2000.
Babbitt, who has often battled with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over what he considers its pro-mining and logging policies, says the new system, which will be operated by the BLM, will give the agency a purpose that it has lacked. Babbitt said he hoped Congress will act on his suggestions, but President Clinton could declare the land monuments by proclamation.
Some of the sites under consideration are:
In Oregon, Steens Mountain and Soda Mountain.
In Colorado, Canyon of the Ancients, and expansion of the Colorado National Monument and enlarging the Sand Dunes National Monument.
In California, the Santa Rosa Mountains near Palm Springs and Carrizo Plain in the San Joaquin Valley near Santa Barbara.
In Arizona, the Empire Ranch near Tucson.
In Montana, an area along the Missouri River.
Tina Arapkiles, the Sierra Club's southwest regional representative, praised the announcement, saying it would shift the BLM from its traditional mining and logging mindset.
The land being considered for landscape monument status is already owned by the federal government, though some holding might be purchased as well. Other uses, such as hunting, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
HOW THIS ADMINISTRATION SPENDS VET MONEY
Months before an audit uncovered similar problems, the chief financial officer of the Veteran's Administration (VA), Edward A. Powell repeatedly alerted VA secretary, Togo West, about the spending and hiring practices inside the agency's congressional liaison office. "I have rarely encountered such flagrant disregard for managerial responsibilities," he wrote, referring to the office when it was headed by Sheila Clarke McCready, Associated Press reported on Feb. 10, 2000.
The audit, concluded in January, concluded McCready, as head of the Office of Congressional Affairs, overspent her $2.3 million budget by $390,000 and improperly contracted work to consultants. The audit alleged the office failed to answer congressional requests on behalf of veterans for months.
McCready has since been transferred to a job in the Veteran's Health Administration but continues to earn more than $130,000 a year.
THERE ANYONE IN THIS ADMINISTRATION
WHO IS CAPABLE OF TELLING THE TRUTH?
The FBI has reopened an investigation into accusations that Commerce Secretary William M. Daley lied to a Senate committee during his 1997 confirmation hearing when he denied knowing about a state probe linking him to a suspected kickback scheme that was never proved, The Washington Times reported on Jan. 14, 2000.
FBI agents in Chicago are reportedly convinced that a formal investigation is warranted which could leave Mr. Daley facing charges of perjury or making false statements.
The case arises from a 1992 complaint by Chicago contractor Errol C. O'Brien who told the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission that Mr. Daley was involved in a 1984 scheme by a Chicago law firm, Daley & George Ltd., to bill him for more than $180,000 in kickbacks disguised as legal fees. The senior partner of the firm is Mr. Daley's brother, Michael. Daley worked at the firm until 1985. Another brother, Richard, now mayor of Chicago, worked at the firm until 1980.
O'Brien claimed that he desired to use the Daley name to be placed on the contractor list for power companies since his company was one of a few with the necessary equipment for industrial cleaning jobs inside fossil fuel-burning electrical power plants. After hiring the firm, he started getting referrals, but his legal bills went from $30,000 to more than $180,000 per year. When he complained, O'Brien claims William Daley told him that "since they were getting me the work, they were entitled to a fair share of the profits." Later, he claims, the firm proposed setting up a partnership where 80% of the profits on new work would go to the firm and 20% would go to O'Brien.
At this point, O'Brien went to the Illinois commission to lodge a complaint against the firm and the attorneys. The attorney who drew up the complaint confirmed William Daley was named.
Daley denied, during his confirmation hearings being "the subject of an inquiry or investigation by a federal, state or local agency," had "never been the subject of a proceeding, inquiry or investigation by any professional association" and was "not aware" of any charges filed against him at the Illinois Commission.
It is the accuracy of these denials which are under review.
JUDGE TO OVERSEE INDIAN TRUSTS
According to the Dec. 22, 1999 report of the Associated Press, US District Judge Royce Lamberth will directly oversee efforts to fix the trust account system for American Indians which has been mismanaged by the federal government since the 19th century.
In his 142-page ruling, Lamberth decried "governmental irresponsibility in its purest form." The government cannot say how many accounts should exist or how much money should be in them. "The court knows of no other program in American government in which federal officials are allowed to write checks -- some of which are known to be written in erroneous amounts -- from unreconciled accounts -- some of which are known to have incorrect balances," Lamberth wrote.
Government officials were pleased that Lamberth did not order the system into receivership. The lawyers for the Indians were happy that the Judge would oversee the efforts to straighten out the accounts, but still plan to ask him for another contempt citation against the federal officials who allowed 162 boxes of records to be shredded which could have contained records which should have been produced to the Indians.
Despite the statements that the administration was pleased with the ruling, the Associated Press reported on Jan. 4, 2000, that the Justice Department has requested an appeal of the ruling arguing that the judge lacks the authority to oversee the reforms. Since the ruling was not a final disposition of the case, the Court of Appeals can decide whether or not to accept the appeal.
For background on this case, check out the Archives, under the topic Federal Government.
ON SEVERAL FRONTS
Both the Departments of Interior and Agriculture (which has jurisdiction over the Forest Service) have initiated new attacks on the public and private lands in an effort to appease the eco-terrorists and provide a legacy for Clinton and a boost for Gore in the 2000 election.
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt asked Clinton to create four new national monuments -- two in Arizona and two in California -- which Congress has refused to place off limits, The Arizona Republic reported on Dec. 13, 1999. Against the wishes of the Governor of Arizona and the elected representatives of that state, Babbitt wanted to obtain the designations for the lands involved to prohibit mining, grazing and multiple uses of the public lands involved. On Jan. 11, 2000 Reuters reported that Clinton acceded to Babbitt's request despite the opposition of the Arizona's elected leaders.
This follows a plan which is being followed by the Interior Department to ban most public use of 5 million acres of federal land in six states. The states involved for this plan, reported in The Washington Times June 14, 1999, are Arizona, Montana, Utah, Alaska, Colorado and Missouri. Babbitt intends to prohibit any mineral activity and severely restrict access to the areas despite laws which require Congressional approval for the establishment of "wilderness areas."
In October, Clinton announced a plan to halt all road building and commercial development in 40 million acres of national forest. Liberty Matters News Service, 10/18/99. He was quoted as saying that he used his administrative might to "outmaneuver powerful opponents in Congress."
The fight over control of access to public and private lands is heating up. In Nevada, a pitched battle is in progress over the Forest Service bulldozing a road which Elko County claims is a county road. The Forest Service refused to provide answers to key questions in a Congressional hearing held in Elko on Nov. 13, 1999. (Elko Daily Free Press, 11/15/99) The road in question provides access to public and private lands and is supposed to be protected against any attempts to restrict or eliminate it (and other existing roads) by federal statute.
However, the battle continues. The Washington DC-based Wilderness Society and at least 100 other groups want Forest Service officials to ban the use of off-road vehicles in roughly 64 million acres of roadless areas in the 192-million acres national forest service system.
An environmental group, National Park Trust, is one of a group of organizations which is dedicated to eliminating the private ownership of parcels within the national park system. The private land -- known as "inholdings" is increasingly valuable as prime parcels to subdivide for recreational homes, business, or other commercial purposes.
According to the Associated Press, Paul Pritchard, president of the National Park Trust, stated: "Within 84 million acres of the national park system, seven million acres are privately owned." His organization considers the possibility that the land might be sold for commercial development the "single greatest threat to the system of national and state parks."
The real question which must be asked is exactly how much land should the government, federal, state and local control. If the government controls all mining, lumbering, drilling, and access to all property, will citizens of the United States have the right to use their own lands to provide opportunity for their own improvement, or, will the government have the power to decide who wins and who loses in this country?
TREASURY DEPARTMENT 'OUT OF CONTROL'
Remember that case that got Bruce Babbitt and Robert Rubin cited for contempt? It's not over. Judge Royce Lamberth, Wash. DC District Court Judge appointed an investigator to try to get to the bottom of the records question.
Alam Balaran, the investigator, reported that the Treasury Department lawyers failed to keep the agency from shredding potential evidence in the lawsuit over American Indians' money, covered up the shredding for more than 14 weeks, and misled the court about it.
"This is a system clearly out of control," Balaran wrote in the report, released on Dec. 6, 1999, and reported by the Associated Press.
The Indians' lawyers said they would seek another contempt citation after Balaran found documents relevant to the case dumped into a shed with used tires and other debris on a North Dakota reservation.
AND SO THEY LEAVE
As this administration's term winds to its end, more and more of the staff leave.
According to The Times of London, (Nov. 4, 1999) the rate of those preparing to jump ship is increasing -- three going away parties were recently held in the White House on the same day.
One of the more prominent people about whom discussions turn is James Rubin, US State Department spokesman. He is the husband of CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, who is based in London. His departure is expected to coincide with the birth of their first child next spring.
As the staff dwindles, there are signs that the Administration is losing some of its esprit de corps.
Charlene Barshefsky, the US trade representative in a Senate hearing held on November 2, bluntly responded to questions asking why negotiations over China's entry into the World Trade Organization were taking so long: "What happened, as I said to my staff, is that men never ask for directions and we mistakenly bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade [which] really chilled relations for almost five months."
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT ABUSES
The previous report of the misuse of funds by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (See November 1999 archives) is just one of a long list of abuses by that department during the Clinton Administration.
The Washington Times reported on June 2, 1999 on payments to two Interior Department officials, Robert L. Berman and Robert A Speir of $350,000 each. They received the money from a private "watchdog" group, Project on Government Oversight, POGO which had received $1.2 million of a $45 million settlement paid by Mobil Oil Co. for alleged underpayment of royalties by the oil industry. The employees were intimately involved in the rule making. Their activities are allegedly being investigated by the Justice Department, Interior Department and Congress. Speir refused comment on the advice of counsel and Berman invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions 150 time in a deposition about the payments and his role in the rulemaking.
The Washington Times reported on August 25, 1999 on another investigation of Interior Department officials which includes the White House. Allen P. Stayman and David North of the Office of Insular Affairs (which handles matters for the territories) were at odds with Republicans over President Clinton's plan to apply immigration and wage laws to the Northern Mariana Islands near Guam. This move is strongly opposed by the officials and governor of Guam.
Jeffrey Farrow, a senior official in the Intergovernmental Affairs Office at the White House was subpoenaed to see if he knew what was going on in the Interior Department. It seems that Stayman and North (who are prohibited by the Hatch Act, Anti-Federal Lobbying statute and the Privacy Act from engaging in political activities in their offices) drafted press releases for Democratic candidates, provided derogatory information about Republican lawmakers to their opponents and reporters and wrote letters to the editor for constituents to submit to local papers. The investigation of these activities is reportedly on-going.
RESPONSE BY ROBERT A. SPEIR
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 5:23 PM
Subject: Slanderous article linked to your organization
A recent search for my name on the web turned up the article I have copied below from a page linked directly to "Iosco County Republicans". The story you present is factually incorrect, and is a further distortion of an already incorrect 1999 article in the Washington Times newspaper. I ask you to remove this> item as it represents a case of continuing public slander directed toward me personally. Your article is incorrect because:
1. Neither me nor Mr. Berman were involved in the rulemaking process as claimed by the Washington Times. This was a ruse by the oil industry and their supporters in Congress to get the Interior Department to cancel royalty rules that would have helped prevent the oil companies' royalty theft.
2. We were investigated-for four years-by the Justice Department Criminal Division and with no charges being brought against us. The reason it took four years is that the aforementioned members of Congress for several years made up charges and distorted facts faster than the Justice Department investigators could clear us. The criminal investigation was dropped early this year.
3. I was never an employee of the Interior Department. In fact, at the time I received the money, I had been retired from the Department of Energy more than a year. Government ethics rules, regulations, and legal> precedent support the fact that there was nothing improper or unethical in my receiving this money as a retiree.
4. Sloppy (or purposeful) writing in your article infers that I, like Mr. Berman, invoked protections granted by the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. That is not true. I answered all deposition questions posed by oil industry representatives, and I talked forthrightly to investigators of the Justice Department, Interior Department, and the Congress throughout this egregious process. This forthrightness, I must add, added about $50,000 to my overall legal expenses so far in this matter. I even wrote the Washington Times to say that I would talk to them also, provided they would incorporate my attorney in the process. The elected to misrepresent my willingness to discuss the matter with them.
The real facts on this issue are as follows:
1. Mr. Berman and I forced the Interior Department to investigate oil royalty fraud in California, and a team of which I was a member subsequently concluded that as much as $850 million was due for underpayments of oil royalties in that State alone.
2. Later, the Project on Government Oversight filed a false claims suit against a group of oil companies for similar fraudulent actions, and the Department of Justice pursued that case. The Project did receive the money the Washington Times quoted and did share it with Mr. Berman and me in recognition of our contributions to helping call attention to one case of company fraud against U.S. citizens. This was a rare case of whistleblowers being rewarded, although we did not know what was in store for us later.
3. Other companies also were sued by the Justice Department over the same matter. Ultimately they all settled their cases, for which the taxpayer got back about $450 million--unfortunately less than 20 cents on a dollar stolen--but something nevertheless.
4. Claims of improper behavior on our parts generally involve unsupported allegations that I and Mr. Berman were involved in a rulemaking attempt by the Interior Department to clarify its royalty payment regulations to prevent further royalty theft. The allegations come from the oil industry associations and companies themselves, which conducted a five-year legal and political campaign to stop the Interior Department from plugging the loopholes that allowed them to defraud the government. The oil industry and the influential congressmen and women who supported them thought that they could stop the regulation-rewrite by claiming our involvement using fabricating evidence and purposely misinterpreted facts. Within a few weeks of the Washington Times article you quoted, the Interior Department conducted first a brief, then an in-depth investigation into our possible involvement in the rulemaking process. Their conclusion both times was that we were not involved.
5. The oil industry supporters also made many other claims of criminal actions by me and Mr. Berman. The Justice Department's Criminal Division, with the help of the Interior Department's Inspector General's Office investigated, over a four year period, a myriad of oil industry and congressional claims against us. Early in this investigation, they concluded that we had no involvement in the rulemaking process, and stated as such to us, yet the oil industry's representatives in Congress continued to make these claims. The net result was that Justice dropped their investigation with no charges early this year. There is a possibility that Mr. Berman's actions may still be under review from a civil (not criminal) perspective, since, unlike me, he was a government employee when he received the award from the Project on Government Oversight. In light of the above, your article is clearly out of date. As such, it represents a continuing defamation by inferring that I was/am guilty of unethical behavior, or worse, to anyone who might conduct online research my name or this issue. I suggest you remove it immediately.
Robert A. Speir
DOES CHINA WANT HAWAII?
Interior and Justice department officials are preparing to open hearing on the question of whether or not Hawaii should return to a sovereign state, The Washington Times reported on Sep. 20, 1999.
The question has picked up steam since President Clinton apologized to the Hawaiians in 1993 for the US military forcibly ousting Queen Liliuokalani from her Iolani Palace more than 100 years ago. The sovereignty movement chose a convention of 85 delegates in January to set specific goals. Attorney General Janet Reno and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt appointed representatives in July to clarify legally the "native" status of Hawaii's indigenous people and to address land-trust abuses.
Hawaiians are considered native if their ancestry is at least one-eighth indigenous and make up no more than 15% of the archipelago's present populace, with large numbers of Anglos, blacks, Japanese, Chinese and Philipinos also present.
Activists want to make sure that the hearings, scheduled to take place on 4 of the 5 major islands, consider all alternatives, starting with complete sovereignty. The Interior spokesman said the hearings will focus not just on that issue, but will try to determine what would finally reconcile the preponderance of native Hawaiians to American citizenship. They will also try to determine how to raise the living standard of the native Hawaiians, whose average income and health status are well below those of later arrivals.
HOW THE GOVERNMENT KILLS CHILDREN
The October, 1999 issue of Liberty, in an article by Patrick Bedard reports on the story of Dwight Childs, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, who ran a red light, resulting in a 10-mph crash. His 2-year old son, Jacob Andrew, strapped into a rear-facing child seat on the passenger side of a 1997 Ford pickup was killed by the airbag. Childs was charged with vehicular homicide for not switching off the airbag.
The government forced this man to buy airbags, because bureaucrats in Washington know better than he what needed for his well-being. Then, when he failed to deactivate the safety feature he was compelled to buy, it sent him to jail. He is also being compelled to make airbag-safety ads on radio and TV saying "I made the fatal mistake on strapping my son's car seat, rear-faced, in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger-side airbag . . . don't make my mistake." The Ohio Department of Public Safety, which provided the script did not include the fact that the pickup did not have a rear seat, and that Childs' conviction was for NOT SWITCHING OFF the airbag.
Since 1993, 82 students have been murdered in shootings at schools, according to the National School Safety Center. During that same period, 99 children have been killed by airbag deployments. We do not need new laws to protect us, we need fewer.
WE OWE THEM
On July 7, 1999 the Court of Federal Claims in Washington ruled that the Internal Revenue Service breached a 1975 income tax treaty between the United States and United Kingdom, the Financial Times reported on July 8. Since 1981, the IRS has refused to allow as deductible business expenses a portion of the interest paid by the National Westminster Bank's branches in the US to other companies of the NatWest group outside the US.
In this particular case, the court ruled that the IRS must refund $180 million dollars in taxes, but could be significantly higher because of interest costs. While the case continues to determine other matters, including the total sum owed, the ruling can have implications for banks from other foreign countries which have similar tax treaties to that of the UK, which can also be expected to reclaim taxes paid.
CONTEMPT COSTS US CASH
On August 10, 1999 US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered the "Contemptible Secretaries" Bruce Babbit of Interior and Robert E. Rubin, former Treasurer, to pay $625,000 for withholding documents in a lawsuit involving the mismanagement of Indian trust funds. (See Archives for more details.)
The Washington Times in an August 11, 1999 article by Jerry Seper quoted Judge Lamberth and saying that the fine was the "only fair result" for the government attorneys who "covered up their disobedience through semantics and strained, unilateral, self-serving interpretations of their own duties."
The Judge lamented the fact that the money would be paid by taxpayers to the Native American Rights Fund attorneys who were trying to get information they were entitled to. "Ultimately these taxpayers will be forced to pay for the misconduct of their government's officials and their government's attorneys," he said. "This is a troublesome concept for the court. In this judge's view, the American taxpayers should not continue to be forced to bear the burden of these types of misdeeds.
"Instead, as in the case in the private sector, these attorneys and officials themselves should bear individual responsibility for their actions," he said.
An audit by the accounting firm Arthur Andersen said the Bureau of Indian Affairs could not account for $2.4 billion in transactions involving the funds.
BILL OF NO RIGHTS
Lewis Napper, a self-described "amateur philosopher and professional geek" was driving home for lunch in 1993 listening to the radio report about Clinton's proposed national health-care plan. As he listened to the chatter about "this right and that right" it hit him that all those misguided defenders of big government had perverted the intent of the founding fathers. Napper then composed the following addendum to the Bill of Rights just for those folks. He called it "The Bill of No Rights."
"We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some commonsense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt-ridden, delusional and other liberal, bedwetters.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people were confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights.
ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone - not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.
ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.
ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.
ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big-screen color TV or a life of leisure.
ARTICLE VIII: You don't have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and won't lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you'd like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat.
ARTICLE IX: You don't have the right to a job. All of us sure want all of you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.
ARTICLE X: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness - which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights."
If you wish to check out more of Mr. Napper's thoughts, see his website: www.bServer.com
WHERE ARE THE BIGGEST TAX CHEATS?
No wonder Democrats don't think the American people need a tax break. They don't pay the taxes they owe!
According to the Jacksonville (NC) Daily News, May 9, 1999, the worst federal agency, in terms of its employees paying their income taxes, is the Executive Office of the President, commonly known as the White House staff. According to a study done last October, 13.5% of the president's aides hadn't filed their tax returns or hadn't paid their taxes or were late in doing both. For all Americans, the rate is 8.7%.
The non-compliance rate government-wide is 5.2%. The best departments, Agriculture and Treasury (home of the IRS) have a non-compliance rate of 4.3%.
BUFFALO BILL RIDES AGAIN
In the March 3, 1999 New York Post, Deborah Orin reported that in anticipation of Clinton's visit to the Interior Department to celebrate the agency's 150th birthday, an artist was asked to alter a huge, 5-foot-wide blow-up of the Interior Department's seal.
The buffalo depicted is an anatomically correct male -- and Clinton was slated to stand in a position that would have made the day of every photographer in town. This called for a cover-up, so someone painted in a bit of extra prairie to expunge the X-rated part of the critter's anatomy, the Washington Post reported.
"Gelding might be an appropriate solution - but the American bison is not the most deserving candidate," cackled Republican National Committee Communications director, Cliff May.
White House Deputy Press Secretary, Amy Weiss, defended the action, saying, "It was the just and modest thing to do, for the buffalo's sake," insisting that the White House had nothing to do with the deletion that had everyone tittering.
Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt also pleaded innocence via spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna, who blamed the entire mess on "a very low-level employee." She insisted it was all a silly mistake because the deleted part "wasn't the genitals or what they thought it was."
An amused biologist at the National Bison Range in Moises, Montana, noting that the seal definitely show the hair over the buffalo's penis, quipped "I suppose it depends on what the definition of a genital is."
In 1996 a class-action lawsuit was filed by five Native Americans who argued that the federal government had mismanaged trust funds dating back to the early 1800's, losing track of billions of dollars deposited in the funds, Scripps Howard News Service reported on February 19, 1999.
Each year the federal government is supposed to pay about $250 million into 500,000 trust accounts held by individual Native Americans to pay for oil, gas and timber royalties. Much of that money cannot be documented the suit claims.
In November of 1996, Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. ordered the Interior and Treasury departments to turn over documents sought by the Indians lawyers to prepare for trial.
Since then, thousands of pages of documents have been withheld.
The government has offered a series of explanations, ranging from inability to reach records in high-stack areas to fears that some records stored in an Albuquerque, N.M., warehouse were so tainted by rodent droppings that to disturb them would risk infecting workers with the deadly hantavirus.
In January, Lamberth blasted the government's legal team, accusing it of a gross mishandling of the case. In a court transcript he is quoted as saying: "I practiced government law for 20 years, and I've been on the bench 11, and I've never seen the government mishandle a case as badly as this one has been mishandled. This one is beyond belief."
On Monday, February 22, 1999, The Washington Post reported that the Judge had issued the contempt order, saying Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt failed to produce the required documents. The secretaries and Assistant Interior Secretary Kevin Gover were ordered to pay legal fees and other expenses that resulted from their delay in complying with the November 1996 Order.
"I have never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government," Lamberth said in his order. "The court is deeply disappointed that any litigant would fail to obey orders for production of documents, and then conceal and cover up that disobedience with outright false statements that the court then relied upon. But when that litigant is the federal government, the misconduct is even more troubling."
Scripps Howard reported that the administration soon will face congressional scrutiny for its handling of the funds. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee planned to hold a joint hearing on the Interior Department's American Indian trust management practices.