Ran into this on the Christian Zone Forum.
31 January 2010
28 January 2010
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2009 list of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians." The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
1. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT): This marks two years in a row for Senator Dodd, who made the 2008 "Ten Most Corrupt" list for his corrupt relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a scandal which still dogs him. In 2009, the scandals kept coming for the Connecticut Democrat. In 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch's complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. The false financial disclosure forms were part of the cover-up. Dodd remains the head the Senate Banking Committee.
2. Senator John Ensign (R-NV): A number of scandals popped up in 2009 involving public officials who conducted illicit affairs, and then attempted to cover them up with hush payments and favors, an obvious abuse of power. The year's worst offender might just be Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign. Ensign admitted in June to an extramarital affair with the wife of one of his staff members, who then allegedly obtained special favors from the Nevada Republican in exchange for his silence. According to The New York Times: "The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules as part of an effort to conceal an affair with the wife of an aide…" The former staffer, Douglas Hampton, began to lobby Mr. Ensign's office immediately upon leaving his congressional job, despite the fact that he was subject to a one-year lobbying ban. Ensign seems to have ignored the law and allowed Hampton lobbying access to his office as a payment for his silence about the affair. (These are potentially criminal offenses.) It looks as if Ensign misused his public office (and taxpayer resources) to cover up his sexual shenanigans.
3. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): Judicial Watch is investigating a $12 million TARP cash injection provided to the Boston-based OneUnited Bank at the urging of Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank. As reported in the January 22, 2009, edition of the Wall Street Journal, the Treasury Department indicated it would only provide funds to healthy banks to jump-start lending. Not only was OneUnited Bank in massive financial turmoil, but it was also "under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives' use." Rep. Frank admitted he spoke to a "federal regulator," and Treasury granted the funds. (The bank continues to flounder despite Frank's intervention for federal dollars.) Moreover, Judicial Watch uncovered documents in 2009 that showed that members of Congress for years were aware that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were playing fast and loose with accounting issues, risk assessment issues and executive compensation issues, even as liberals led by Rep. Frank continued to block attempts to rein in the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs). For example, during a hearing on September 10, 2003, before the House Committee on Financial Services considering a Bush administration proposal to further regulate Fannie and Freddie, Rep. Frank stated: "I want to begin by saying that I am glad to consider the legislation, but I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two Government Sponsored Enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis. We have recently had an accounting problem with Freddie Mac that has led to people being dismissed, as appears to be appropriate. I do not think at this point there is a problem with a threat to the Treasury." Frank received $42,350 in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 1989 and 2008. Frank also engaged in a relationship with a Fannie Mae Executive while serving on the House Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
4. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner: In 2009, Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that he failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes from 2001-2004 on his lucrative salary at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization with 185 member countries that oversees the global financial system. (Did we mention Geithner now runs the IRS?) It wasn't until President Obama tapped Geithner to head the Treasury Department that he paid back most of the money, although the IRS kindly waived the hefty penalties. In March 2009, Geithner also came under fire for his handling of the AIG bonus scandal, where the company used $165 million of its bailout funds to pay out executive bonuses, resulting in a massive public backlash. Of course as head of the New York Federal Reserve, Geithner helped craft the AIG deal in September 2008. However, when the AIG scandal broke, Geithner claimed he knew nothing of the bonuses until March 10, 2009. The timing is important. According to CNN: "Although Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told congressional leaders on Tuesday that he learned of AIG's impending $160 million bonus payments to members of its troubled financial-products unit on March 10, sources tell TIME that the New York Federal Reserve informed Treasury staff that the payments were imminent on Feb. 28. That is ten days before Treasury staffers say they first learned 'full details' of the bonus plan, and three days before the [Obama] Administration launched a new $30 billion infusion of cash for AIG." Throw in another embarrassing disclosure in 2009 that Geithner employed "household help" ineligible to work in the United States, and it becomes clear why the Treasury Secretary has earned a spot on the "Ten Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington" list.
5. Attorney General Eric Holder: Tim Geithner can be sure he won't be hounded about his tax-dodging by his colleague Eric Holder, US Attorney General. Judicial Watch strongly opposed Holder because of his terrible ethics record, which includes: obstructing an FBI investigation of the theft of nuclear secrets from Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory; rejecting multiple requests for an independent counsel to investigate alleged fundraising abuses by then-Vice President Al Gore in the Clinton White House; undermining the criminal investigation of President Clinton by Kenneth Starr in the midst of the Lewinsky investigation; and planning the violent raid to seize then-six-year-old Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint in order to return him to Castro's Cuba. Moreover, there is his soft record on terrorism. Holder bypassed Justice Department procedures to push through Bill Clinton's scandalous presidential pardons and commutations, including for 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that orchestrated approximately 120 bombings in the United States, killing at least six people and permanently maiming dozens of others, including law enforcement officers. His record in the current administration is no better. As he did during the Clinton administration, Holder continues to ignore serious incidents of corruption that could impact his political bosses at the White House. For example, Holder has refused to investigate charges that the Obama political machine traded VIP access to the White House in exchange for campaign contributions – a scheme eerily similar to one hatched by Holder's former boss, Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The Holder Justice Department also came under fire for dropping a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. On Election Day 2008, Black Panthers dressed in paramilitary garb threatened voters as they approached polling stations. Holder has also failed to initiate a comprehensive Justice investigation of the notorious organization ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which is closely tied to President Obama. There were allegedly more than 400,000 fraudulent ACORN voter registrations in the 2008 campaign. And then there were the journalist videos catching ACORN Housing workers advising undercover reporters on how to evade tax, immigration, and child prostitution laws. Holder's controversial decisions on new rights for terrorists and his attacks on previous efforts to combat terrorism remind many of the fact that his former law firm has provided and continues to provide pro bono representation to terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Holder's politicization of the Justice Department makes one long for the days of Alberto Gonzales.
6. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)/ Senator Roland Burris (D-IL): One of the most serious scandals of 2009 involved a scheme by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to sell President Obama's then-vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Two men caught smack dab in the middle of the scandal: Senator Roland Burris, who ultimately got the job, and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, emissaries for Jesse Jackson Jr., named "Senate Candidate A" in the Blagojevich indictment, reportedly offered $1.5 million to Blagojevich during a fundraiser if he named Jackson Jr. to Obama's seat. Three days later federal authorities arrested Blagojevich. Burris, for his part, apparently lied about his contacts with Blagojevich, who was arrested in December 2008 for trying to sell Obama's Senate seat. According to Reuters: "Roland Burris came under fresh scrutiny…after disclosing he tried to raise money for the disgraced former Illinois governor who named him to the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama…In the latest of those admissions, Burris said he looked into mounting a fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich -- later charged with trying to sell Obama's Senate seat -- at the same time he was expressing interest to the then-governor's aides about his desire to be appointed." Burris changed his story five times regarding his contacts with Blagojevich prior to the Illinois governor appointing him to the U.S. Senate. Three of those changing explanations came under oath.
7. President Barack Obama: During his presidential campaign, President Obama promised to run an ethical and transparent administration. However, in his first year in office, the President has delivered corruption and secrecy, bringing Chicago-style political corruption to the White House. Consider just a few Obama administration "lowlights" from year one: Even before President Obama was sworn into office, he was interviewed by the FBI for a criminal investigation of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's scheme to sell the President's former Senate seat to the highest bidder. (Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and slumlord Valerie Jarrett, both from Chicago, are also tangled up in the Blagojevich scandal.) Moreover, the Obama administration made the startling claim that the Privacy Act does not apply to the White House. The Obama White House believes it can violate the privacy rights of American citizens without any legal consequences or accountability. President Obama boldly proclaimed that "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," but his administration is addicted to secrecy, stonewalling far too many of Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act requests and is refusing to make public White House visitor logs as federal law requires. The Obama administration turned the National Endowment of the Arts (as well as the agency that runs the AmeriCorps program) into propaganda machines, using tax dollars to persuade "artists" to promote the Obama agenda. According to documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, the idea emerged as a direct result of the Obama campaign and enjoyed White House approval and participation. President Obama has installed a record number of "czars" in positions of power. Too many of these individuals are leftist radicals who answer to no one but the president. And too many of the czars are not subject to Senate confirmation (which raises serious constitutional questions). Under the President's bailout schemes, the federal government continues to appropriate or control -- through fiat and threats -- large sectors of the private economy, prompting conservative columnist George Will to write: "The administration's central activity -- the political allocation of wealth and opportunity -- is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption." Government-run healthcare and car companies, White House coercion, uninvestigated ACORN corruption, debasing his office to help Chicago cronies, attacks on conservative media and the private sector, unprecedented and dangerous new rights for terrorists, perks for campaign donors – this is Obama's "ethics" record -- and we haven't even gotten through the first year of his presidency.
8. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): At the heart of the corruption problem in Washington is a sense of entitlement. Politicians believe laws and rules (even the U.S. Constitution) apply to the rest of us but not to them. Case in point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her excessive and boorish demands for military travel. Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Pentagon in 2008 that suggest Pelosi has been treating the Air Force like her own personal airline. These documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, include internal Pentagon email correspondence detailing attempts by Pentagon staff to accommodate Pelosi's numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker's 11th hour cancellations and changes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also came under fire in April 2009, when she claimed she was never briefed about the CIA's use of the waterboarding technique during terrorism investigations. The CIA produced a report documenting a briefing with Pelosi on September 4, 2002, that suggests otherwise. Judicial Watch also obtained documents, including a CIA Inspector General report, which further confirmed that Congress was fully briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques. Aside from her own personal transgressions, Nancy Pelosi has ignored serious incidents of corruption within her own party, including many of the individuals on this list. (See Rangel, Murtha, Jesse Jackson, Jr., etc.)
9. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and the rest of the PMA Seven: Rep. John Murtha made headlines in 2009 for all the wrong reasons. The Pennsylvania congressman is under federal investigation for his corrupt relationship with the now-defunct defense lobbyist PMA Group. PMA, founded by a former Murtha associate, has been the congressman's largest campaign contributor. Since 2002, Murtha has raised $1.7 million from PMA and its clients. And what did PMA and its clients receive from Murtha in return for their generosity? Earmarks -- tens of millions of dollars in earmarks. In fact, even with all of the attention surrounding his alleged influence peddling, Murtha kept at it. Following an FBI raid of PMA's offices earlier in 2009, Murtha continued to seek congressional earmarks for PMA clients, while also hitting them up for campaign contributions. According to The Hill, in April, "Murtha reported receiving contributions from three former PMA clients for whom he requested earmarks in the pending appropriations bills." When it comes to the PMA scandal, Murtha is not alone. As many as six other Members of Congress are currently under scrutiny according to The Washington Post. They include: Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-VA), Norm Dicks (D-WA.), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS.). Of course rather than investigate this serious scandal, according to Roll Call House Democrats circled the wagons, "cobbling together a defense to offer political cover to their rank and file." The Washington Post also reported in 2009 that Murtha's nephew received $4 million in Defense Department no-bid contracts: "Newly obtained documents…show Robert Murtha mentioning his influential family connection as leverage in his business dealings and holding unusual power with the military."
10. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): Rangel, the man in charge of writing tax policy for the entire country, has yet to adequately explain how he could possibly "forget" to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property. He also faces allegations that he improperly used his influence to maintain ownership of highly coveted rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, and misused his congressional office to fundraise for his private Rangel Center by preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for funding. On top of all that, Rangel recently amended his financial disclosure reports, which doubled his reported wealth. (He somehow "forgot" about $1 million in assets.) And what did he do when the House Ethics Committee started looking into all of this? He apparently resorted to making "campaign contributions" to dig his way out of trouble. According to WCBS TV, a New York CBS affiliate: "The reigning member of Congress' top tax committee is apparently 'wrangling' other politicos to get him out of his own financial and tax troubles...Since ethics probes began last year the 79-year-old congressman has given campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are charged with investigating him." Charlie Rangel should not be allowed to remain in Congress, let alone serve as Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and he knows it. That's why he felt the need to disburse campaign contributions to Ethics Committee members and other congressional colleagues.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Understanding the Latest Anti-Gun "Poll"
This week, anti-gun New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, released the findings of a poll conducted by a political consulting firm called "The Word Doctors," whose slogan is "It's not what you say, it's what people hear." Word Doctors' president is a pollster who has been reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research and censured by the National Council on Public Polls, and who says that the key to polling is "to ask a question in the way that you get the right answer."
At some other time in our nation's history, an organization like this would not have been commissioned to conduct a poll, and perhaps it would not even have existed. At a minimum, its poll would have been considered biased and rejected by every newspaper in the country.
But today, as the distinction between editorials and news has become blurred, information is treated so superficially that a catchy word or two is enough to get someone elected to public office, and some in positions of authority cannot conceive of the concept of shame.
Thus, earlier this week, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) excitedly called attention to the bought-and-paid-for Word Doctors "poll," which claimed that a majority of NRA members and other gun owners support Lautenberg's bills to prohibit the possession of firearms by people placed (often mistakenly) on the FBI terrorist watchlist (S.1317), to require gun show promoters to send ledgers of customer information to the federal government (S.843), and to let the FBI retain records for 180 days of every gun purchase approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) (S.2820). The poll also claimed support for Bloomberg's proposal to rescind the Tiahrt Amendment, which prevents unfettered release of BATFE firearm trace data. (Bloomberg, of course, wants to use the data in lawsuits against the firearms industry.)
But did the poll really show such strong support? Certainly the participants didn't have much information to go on. The poll didn't explain that the watchlist has been under fire by the Department of Justice's Inspector General's office and the ACLU for improperly including the names of innocent people, and that many innocent people have been mistaken for those who are on the watchlist. It didn't explain that Lautenberg's gun show bill would do much more than require NICS checks on private gun sales at gun shows.
The poll mischaracterized the issue of NICS record retention. Instead of informing poll participants that the accused Ft. Hood murderer had been investigated by the FBI and found to not constitute a terror threat months before he went through a NICS check to purchase the gun he allegedly used in the murders, the poll simply asked whether "the FBI should be able to access and keep information about gun purchases by terror suspects in cases similar to [the accused Ft. Hood killer's]?" Worse, Word Doctors misinformed poll participants by telling them that the accused killer was still under investigation at the time he purchased the gun.
The poll also asked if participants agreed that "The federal government should not restrict the police's ability to access, use, and share data that helps them enforce federal, state and local gun laws," when in fact the Tiahrt Amendment fully allows access to trace information, as long as it's related to crimes that they're actually investigating.
And the poll also claimed that a majority of gun owners want to "balance" their rights against the need to stop criminals from getting guns. But what it actually asked was whether gun owners agreed that "We can do more to stop criminals from getting guns while also protecting the rights of citizens to freely own them." Coupled with the poll's findings that an overwhelming majority of gun owners believe "Criminals . . . should be punished to the maximum extent of the law" and "Law-abiding Americans should have the freedom to choose how to protect themselves, based on their personal situation," it's fair to conclude that gun owners understand the two concepts aren't mutually exclusive. Since the ideas are compatible, they don't require a "balance," as suggested by gun control supporters.
Notably, Lautenberg mentioned none of the poll's findings that undercut the anti-gun agenda, and Dionne mentioned few. These include findings that an overwhelming majority of gun owners:
* Thinks President Obama will try to ban guns;
* Agrees that the Supreme Court's decision in last year's Heller case was correct;
* Agrees that the Second Amendment should prevent all levels of government from infringing the right to arms;
* Agrees that people should be allowed to carry guns for protection in national parks;
* Agrees that people should be allowed to transport firearms in baggage on Amtrak trains;
* Agrees that gun laws should be less strict or left as they are; and
* Opposes or is neutral about gun registration and an "assault weapon" ban.
One final note: Since Word Doctors had no access to NRA membership lists, there's no way the pollsters could verify that any of the "NRA members" actually were NRA members. While this is a fatal flaw, we mention it at the end only because the poll's other flaws were even worse.
27 January 2010
President Obama delivered a State of the Union address that was very different than the one he was planning on giving just a few weeks ago.
The State of the Union was supposed to be a victory speech for health care. It was supposed to showcase lower unemployment numbers, and a stronger national defense effort, buttressed by his recent shift of troops to Afghanistan.
Instead, the speech was an omnibus apology by President Obama on his failure to accomplish anything.
"We face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics," said Obama.
No actual apology was made, of course. But it was clear by the tone of his voice, and the frequent references to agenda items that were unlikely to be accomplished, that there was little room for optimism.
The issue in the speech most demonstrative of his apologetic approach was, of course, the health care. All Obama said on the issue was a somewhat timid reminder that people should "take a second look" at an effort which even Democrats think will probably be futile. He said he didn't get into the issue to make friends, and then quickly recognized his wife for her "healthy kids" initiative. The brevity of his remarks health care demonstrated a further resignation to failure; the issue dominated his schedule just a few weeks ago.
Instead, the Obama talked about jobs – a key political action item for the 2010 mid-terms, and his own re-election in 2012. He honed in on a “jobs bill” that ostensibly pushed small business investment, infrastructure, and manufacturing, with an emphasis on “green jobs.” It would potentially use the remainder of the $700 billion that hasn’t been used for the financial bailout program.
Scott Hodge, the president of the Tax Foundation, said using that money for a jobs bill was exactly opposite of the approach the President should have taken towards decreasing unemployment.
"The most harmful taxes for economic growth are high corporate taxes, and high personal income taxes. The U.S. has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world," said Hodge. "He's acting contrary to what the real current wisdom is to not only foster, but sustain long term economic growth."
Obama’s other big push was for a “spending freeze,” which critics have viewed as throwing ice cubes at a forest fire. The freeze would be a partial, 3-year cut in “discretionary spending” – less than 1 percent of the federal budget. This has received widespread criticism, such as that launched by Sen. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, (R-Wa.), who said that the focus of cutting spending was off-base.
“We need to get serious about entitlement reform, in addition to just balancing the budget,” she said.
One item that has garnered bipartisan support was increased bank regulations that he said would end the “too big to fail” phenomenon, reign in profits from financial institutions that have accepted federal bail out money, and increase the amount of information that consumers get from financial institutions. These regulations have largely been viewed favorably by the right and left.
Obama also dealt – in veiled references – to the blow Democrats had suffered after the special Massachusetts Senate election. Unfortunately, words cannot fix the terminal blow Scott Brown’s win dealt to the Democrats’ 60-vote supermajority.
"We have finished a difficult year. We have finished a difficult decade. But it's a new year. Let's start anew," he said.
Sorry to everyone for being gone, but I have been, well, busy. Here is my life in a nut shell: I was down on major financial times, and only now could I afford to restore internet, and still feed and house my family. I switched jobs from, but remain in the same field. Instead of a Correctional Officer, I am now a Jailer. Same "customers", less job stress, and a little more money. It also feels better being a line officer, instead of a sergeant, but the old title follows me. Imagine my face walking into my pod for the first time, expecting the "new" officer test from the inmates when the first thing I hear is "What are you doing here Sarge?" Needless to say, the inmates did not test me.
Finances are so much better, I managed to get a new toy, a Glock 22 RTF2. SWEET!
Anyway, back to entertaining my friends, and annoying Libtards.
Finances are so much better, I managed to get a new toy, a Glock 22 RTF2. SWEET!
Anyway, back to entertaining my friends, and annoying Libtards.