President Obama is getting a bad rap. His critics are blaming him for everything that is going wrong. Cut the man some slack. He’s the president. How’s he supposed to know what’s going on in his government.
Let’s start with Benghazi. The president says neither he nor his political pals in the White House had anything to do with re-writing those talking points to make it look like some dopey anti-Muslim video started the whole thing.
I believe him – and so should you, unless you hate your country.
Why in the world would the president lie to the American people? Because he was in the middle of a presidential campaign and was telling voters he had terrorists on the run? And if terrorism were behind Benghazi then he’d look foolish?
Why in the world would the president lie to the American people? Because he was in the middle of a presidential campaign and was telling voters he had terrorists on the run? And if terrorism were behind Benghazi then he’d look foolish?
Who thinks President Barack Obama would do something so political? Apparently his critics don’t remember that this is the man who promised to usher in a new post-partisan America if only we elected him back in 2008. We elected him and I say he did.
Then there are the so-called press scandals. Boo-hoo! Justice Department big shots were spying on reporters and reporters are whining over it. They say the First Amendment is coming under attack. My advice: calm down, there are plenty of other amendments that no one is “attacking.”
Everything this poor man does is called a scandal by his hate-filled, probably racist, opponents. Take the case against James Rosen who supposedly is a journalist who works at Fox News. The FBI spied on Rosen and says he may have been a co-conspirator — under the Espionage Act– because of stories he did on North Korea.
Here’s my question: How do we know Rosen isn’t a commie spy for North Korea? Does he have proof that (more…)
Who’s the biggest the bully of them all? Barack H. Obama and his Chicago gang.
Catherine Engelbrecht’s tale has all the markings of a classic conspiracy theory: She says she thinks that because of her peaceful political activity, she and her family was targeted for scrutiny by hostile federal agencies.
Yet as news emerges that the Internal Revenue Service wielded its power to obstruct conservative groups, Catherine’s story becomes credible — and chilling. It also raises questions about whether other federal agencies have used their executive powers to target those deemed political enemies.
Before the Engelbrecht family’s three-year ordeal began, Catherine says, “I had no real expectation or preparation for the blood sport that American politics is.” Sounding weary on the phone, she continues: “It’s all been a through-the-looking-glass experience.”
Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who specializes in representing conservative organizations, says that the Engelbrecht family’s experience is “just the tip of the iceberg. . . . I think there’s definitely a Chicago-politics-style enemies list in this administration, and I think it permeates this branch of the federal government.”
The Engelbrechts were not, until recently, particularly political. They had been busy running a tiny manufacturing plant in Rosenberg, Texas. After years of working for others, Bryan, a trained machinist, wanted to open his own shop, so he saved his earnings, bought a computerized numerical-control machine, which does precision metal-cutting, and began operating out of his garage. “That was about 20 years ago,” he says. “Now, we’re up to about 30 employees.”
For two decades, Bryan and Catherine drove to work in their big truck. Engelbrecht Manufacturing Inc. now operates out of a 20,000-square-foot metal building on the prairie just outside of Houston, where a “semi-pet coyote lives in the field just behind us,” Bryan says. They went back to their country home each night. Stress was rare, and life was good.
But the 2008 elections left Catherine feeling frustrated about the debates, which seemed to be a string of superficial talking points. So she began attending tea-party meetings, enjoying the political discussion. A spunky woman known for her drive, Catherine soon wanted to do more than just talk. She joined other tea partiers and decided to volunteer at the ballot box. Working as an alternate judge at the polls in 2009 in Fort Bend County, Texas, Catherine says, she was appalled and dismayed to witness everything from administrative snafus to outright voter fraud.
These formative experiences prompted her to found two organizations: King Street Patriots, a local community group that hosts weekly discussions on personal and economic freedoms; and True the Vote, which seeks to prevent voter fraud and trains volunteers to work as election monitors. It also registers voters, attempts to validate voter-registration lists, and pursues fraud reports to push for prosecution if illegal activity has occurred.
Bryan says that when his wife began focusing on politics, working less often at the manufacturing shop, “I told her, ‘You have my undying support.’” He pauses, then adds in his thick Texan drawl: “Little did I know she’d take it this far!”
In July 2010, Catherine filed with the IRS seeking tax-exempt status for her organizations. Shortly after, the troubles began….
Is President Obama directly implicated in the IRS scandal?
Is the White House Visitors Log the trail to the smoking gun?
The stunning questions are raised by the following set of new facts.
March 31, 2010.
According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.
The IRS is unionized? Why aren’t they covered by the civil service?
The White House lists the IRS union leader’s visit this way:
Kelley, Colleen Potus 03/31/2010 12:30
In White House language, “POTUS” stands for “President of the United States.”
The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.
The NTEU is the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies. Kelley herself is a 14-year IRS veteran agent. The union’s PAC endorsed President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles to anti-Tea Party candidates…
The candidates listed are mostly Democrats, so how do they determine whether a candidate is “anti-Tea Party”?
Read it all (the site must be heavily trafficked because it can hard to get in).
The State Department, under Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, created an arrangement for her longtime aide and confidante Huma Abedin to work for private clients as a consultant while serving as a top adviser in the department.
Ms. Abedin did not disclose the arrangement — or how much income she earned — on her financial report. It requires officials to make public any significant sources of income. An adviser to Mrs. Clinton, Philippe Reines, said that Ms. Abedin was not obligated to do so.
The disclosure of the agreement that Ms. Abedin made with the State Department comes as her husband, former Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat, prepares for a mayoral run in New York City. Politico reported the arrangement on Thursday afternoon.
Ms. Abedin declined a request for an interview, but the picture that emerges from interviews and records suggests a situation where the lines were blurred between Ms. Abedin’s work in the high echelons of one of the government’s most sensitive executive departments and her role as a Clinton family insider…
Kimberly Strassel’s column will, no doubt, cause apoplexy on the left.
Just remember how progressives are always citing a “climate of hate” or “culture of violence” to point fingers.
Was the White House involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that’s not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. “He put a target on our backs, and he’s now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?” asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a “wealthy individual” with a “less-than-reputable record.” Other donors were described as having been “on the wrong side of the law.”
This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That (more…)
One thing that I hope is not lost in the political maneuvering surrounding the IRS scandal: This is not mainly about the president, the Republicans, or either party’s political prospects. The first sentence out of practically every Democrat’s mouth has been: There’s no evidence the White House was involved. And that’s true enough, though there is very strong evidence that at least one Senate Democrat, Carl Levin of Michigan, was pressuring the agency to investigate tea-party groups.
Whatever happens politically in the next few years, Barack Obama will leave office at the end of his term — and the IRS will still be there. The permanent bureaucracies have political interests of their own, which may or may not align with the interests of any given candidate or any given party at any given moment. A dangerous, abusive, and politicized IRS is a serious threat to the well-being of our country: The rectitude of such institutions is an important part of what makes a free society and a free economy work. Labor is cheap in Haiti and Afghanistan, but there is a reason that people do not invest in those places. Even India, which has relatively good law and honest courts but a great deal of piddling corruption, especially in the lower levels of the bureaucracies, suffers economically because of political corruption. If you do not have credible institutions, it is difficult to thrive…
But the Senate is another story:
The abuse of power may not be confined to the IRS. It might also involve high-ranking Senate Democrats who pressured the IRS to conduct such witch hunts and threatened action if it didn’t.
In September 2010, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, requesting that the agency survey major nonprofits involved in political campaign activity for their possible “violation of tax laws.” In February 2012, Sens. Charles Schumer, Michael Bennet, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote a similar letter to Mr. Shulman, and promised to introduce legislation if the IRS failed to “prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups.” In July 2012 and again in August, Sen. Carl Levin complained to the IRS about its apparent passivity.
“I believe if we want to know what happened in Benghazi, it starts with the fact that there was not enough security. There was not enough security because the budget was cut.”
— Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), speech on the Senate floor, May 14, 2013
WASHINGTON — In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked.
That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.
In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.
As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups. They included:
• Bus for Progress, a New Jersey non-profit that uses a red, white and blue bus to “drive the progressive change.” According to its website, its mission includes “support (for) progressive politicians with the courage to serve the people’s interests and make tough choices.” It got an IRS approval as a social welfare group in April 2011.
• Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment says it fights against corporate welfare and for increasing the minimum wage. “It would be fair to say we’re on the progressive end of the spectrum,” said executive director Jeff Ordower. He said the group got tax-exempt status in September 2011 in just nine months after “a pretty simple, straightforward process.”
• Progress Florida, granted tax-exempt status in January 2011, is lobbying the Florida Legislature to expand Medicaid under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments. The group did not return phone calls. “We’re busy fighting to build a more progressive Florida and cannot take your call right now,” the group’s voice mail said.
Like the Tea Party groups, the liberal groups sought recognition as social welfare groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, based on activities like “citizen participation” or “voter education and registration.”
In a conference call with reporters last week, the IRS official responsible for granting tax-exempt status said that it was a mistake to subject Tea Party groups to additional scrutiny based solely on the organization’s name. But she said ideology played no part in the process.
“The selection of these cases where they used the names was not a partisan selection,” said Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations. She said progressive groups were also selected for greater scrutiny based on their names, but did not provide details. “I don’t have them off the top of my head,” she said.
The IRS did not respond to follow-up questions Tuesday.
As the nation’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder is privy to all kinds of sensitive information. But he seems to be proud of how little he knows.
Why didn’t his Justice Department inform the Associated Press, as the law requires, before pawing through reporters’ phone records?
“I do not know,” the attorney general told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon, “why that was or was not done. I simply don’t have a factual basis to answer that question.”
Why didn’t the DOJ seek the AP’s cooperation, as the law also requires, before issuing subpoenas?
“I don’t know what happened there,” Holder replied. “I was recused from the case.”
Why, asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), was the whole matter handled in a manner that appears “contrary to the law and standard procedure”?
“I don’t have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked, because I was recused,” the attorney general said.
On and on Holder went: “I don’t know. I don’t know. . . . I would not want to reveal what I know. . . . I don’t know why that didn’t happen. . . . I know nothing, so I’m not in a position really to answer.”
Holder seemed to regard this ignorance as a shield protecting him and the Justice Department from all criticism of the Obama administration’s assault on press freedoms. But his claim that his “recusal” from the case exempted him from all discussion of the matter didn’t fly with Republicans or Democrats on the committee, who justifiably saw his recusal as more of an abdication.
“There doesn’t seem to be any acceptance of responsibility in the Justice Department for things that have gone wrong,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), after Holder placed the AP matter in the lap of his deputy. “We don’t know where the buck stops.”
The best Holder could do was offer an “after-action analysis” of the matter and pledge the administration’s renewed support for a media shield law (the same proposed law the Obama administration undermined three years ago). But that does nothing to reverse the damage the administration has already done with its wholesale snooping into reporters’ phone records and its unprecedented number of leak prosecutions.
“I realize there are exceptions and that you have recused yourself, but it seems to me clear that the actions of the department have, in fact, impaired the First Amendment,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told Holder. “Reporters who might have previously believed that a confidential source would speak to them would no longer have that level of confidence, because those confidential sources are now going to be chilled in their relationship with the press.”
…Too many Washington journalists see everything through a prism of politics. Benghazi isn’t about the death of four Americans … it’s about the future of Hillary Clinton. The IRS scandal isn’t about the abusive use of federal government power … it’s about how the GOP will use it to score political points.
But even if you play by these rules, why isn’t the story on page one of the New York Times about how Democrats in the Obama administration may have been going after conservative groups … for political gain?
Why isn’t the Benghazi story framed in a way that questions Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s political spin? Is she trying to stay out of trouble precisely because she wants to run for president? Was Mr. Obama more concerned about winning re-election, running in part on the phony premise that he had al-Qaeda on the run, than he was in admitting early on that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack in Benghazi? Is he now more concerned about his reputation than … well, than anything else?
Victor Davis Hanson on Obama’s selective leak investigations
…when the Obama administration wants the public to appreciate its unheralded and successful accomplishments, it leaks classified information that imperils national security (did the Taliban really need to know the precise units and their methodology of operation that took out bin Laden?) — and leaks so much that former defense secretary Bob Gates is said to have been reduced to threatening John Brennan with “shut the f*** up!” Yet one wonders whether the administration tapped the phones of David Ignatius or David Sanger on rumors that by some strange happenstance they got the classified information about the most intimate moments of Obama as commander-in-chief and protector of the realm and wrote quid pro quo paeans despite the national-security implications?
Ditto the televised dramatics of the Obama team huddled around consoles as they saw the raid against bin Laden unfold in real time — a photo opportunity not repeated when live feeds from Benghazi began coming in about the al-Qaeda attacks. Certainly, that evening when Americans were on the defensive rather than the offensive, nobody deemed it necessary to bring in the photographers to capture the Obama team in mediis rebus. Translated into Animal Farm terms: All leaks bad — except some. All hands-on-operations are televised — unless they go badly. Give classified information to reporters — if they are cooperative.
Obama’s extended family is a real class act. I hope some reporter has the guts to ask Obama about this in a news conference. The One’s reaction would be priceless.
Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target tea party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.
According to the organization’s filings, Lerner approved the foundation’s tax status within a month of filing, an unprecedented timeline that stands in stark contrast to conservative organizations that have been waiting for more than three years, in some cases, for approval.
Lerner also appears to have broken with the norms of tax-exemption approval by granting retroactive tax-exempt status to Malik Obama’s organization.
The National Legal and Policy Center filed an official complaint with the IRS in May 2011 asking why the foundation was being allowed to solicit tax-deductible contributions when it had not even applied for an IRS determination. In a New York Post article dated May 8, 2011, an officer of the foundation admitted, “We haven’t been able to find someone with the expertise” to apply for tax-exempt status.
Nevertheless, a month later, the Barack H. Obama Foundation had flown through the grueling application process. Lerner granted the organization a 501(c) determination and even gave it a retroactive tax exemption dating back to December 2008.
The group’s available paperwork suggests an extremely hurried application and approval process. For example, the group’s 990 filings for 2008 and 2009 were submitted to the IRS on May 30, 2011, and its 2010 filing was submitted on May 23, 2011.
It is illegal to operate for longer than 27 months without an IRS determination and solicit tax-deductible contributions.
The ostensibly Arlington, Va.-based charity was not even registered in Virginia despite the foundation’s website including a donation button that claimed tax-exempt status.
Its president and founder, Abon’go “Roy’ Malik Obama, is Barack Obama’s half-brother and was the best man at his wedding, but he has a checkered past. In addition to running his charity, Malik Obama ran unsuccessfully to be the governor of Siaya County in Kenya. He was accused of being a wife beater and seducing the newest of his twelve wives while she was a 17-year-old school girl.
Sensing something wrong when he and a group of Missouri State students visited Kenya in 2009, Ken Rutherford, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on banning landmines, determined that Malik Obama was an “operator” and elected to give a donation of 400 pounds of medical supplies to a local clinic instead.
“We didn’t know what he was going to do with them,” Rutherford told the New York Post in 2011.
…so they them a copy of the Constitution.
When Marion Bower decided to start her tea party organization in 2010, she didn’t know that it would take nearly two years for the Internal Revenue Service to approve her request for tax-exempt status.
The Ohio woman also did not expect that providing information about the books her group read would be part of the application process.
“I was trying to be very cordial, but they wanted copies of unbelievable things,” Bower told ABC News today. “They wanted to know what materials we had discussed at any of our book studies.”
She ultimately sent one of the books, “The Five Thousand Year Leap,” promoted frequently by Glenn Beck, to the IRS official handling her tax-exempt request in Cincinnati. She also sent a paperback copy of the Constitution.
“They wanted a synopsis of all the books we read,” Bower said. “I thought, I don’t have time to write a book report. You can read them for yourselves.”
Bower, 68, said she did not want to cause trouble or be argumentative with the IRS, so she patiently responded to their questions about her group, American Patriots against Government Excess (PAGE). She said the group in Fremont, Ohio, about 45 miles from Toledo, was formed as an educational group…
Why Stewart still thinks the unanswered questions about Benghazi are the province of conspiracy theorists is beyond me.
But the rest is point on.
Those are the four stupidest words to come out of Obama’s mouth. He essentially dared anyone with a brain to ignore the facts of the past week:
- That the State Department scrubbed the official talking points of any mention of terrorism to deflect criticism for failing to secure its facilities in a dangerous place
- That his spokesman, Jay Carney, lied about it to the press
- That the criminal investigation– bringing those responsible to justice–was hurt by insulting the leader of Libya with the asinine “the video made them do it” line of BS.
What was he thinking? That he can bluff/charm his way out of this? Is he expecting Candy Crowley to vouch for him again?
And on a day that the news media learned Obama’s DOJ had snooped on 20 reporters from the Associated Press? And that the IRS targeted his political opponents?
Obama still claims that he called the Benghazi attack terrorism from the get-go. The Washington Post gives him Four Pinocchios for that lie. And Fox put together a damning montage of Obama talking up the video story for days after the event.
As one of many who watched a man with no experience or significant accomplishments bluff his way into the White House with the absurdly vacuous Hope and Change campaign, I agree in one sense that there’s no there there.
There’s grousing from both the GOP and the Dem Cong about Mark Sanford, disgraced former governor of South Carolina, winning his House election this week.
You’d think having a sex scandal was enough to discredit you from politics forever. Yeah, he had sex and lied about it.
What about Slick Willie? He was a serial cheater, a sexual harasser and most likely, a rapist.
But let’s stick to Congress. Might the Democrats have someone worse among their numbers? How about a this creep? From Wikipedia:
Alcee Lamar Hastings (born September 5, 1936) is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 20th congressional district, serving in Congress since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He served as a Judge on theUnited States District Court for the Southern District of Florida from 1979 until his impeachment and removal from that post in 1989, and is one of only eight federal officials in American history to be impeached and removed from office.
What did he do to be impeached?
In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. In 1983, he was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).
In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate, becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate. The Senate, in two hours of roll calls, voted on 11 of the 17 articles of impeachment. It convicted Hastings of eight of the 11 articles. The vote on the first article was 69 for and 26 opposed, providing five votes more than the two-thirds of those present that were needed to convict. The first article accused the judge of conspiracy. Conviction on any single article was enough to remove the judge from office. The Senate vote cut across party lines, with Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, voting to convict his fellow party member, and Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, voting to acquit.
The Senate had the option to forbid Hastings from ever seeking federal office again, but did not do so. Alleged co-conspirator, attorney William Borders went to jail again for refusing to testify in the impeachment proceedings, but was later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office.
There’s slick Willie again. One wonders if he got something sweet for that pardon, like some others.
I was living in Miami when all this took place. The weasel Hastings cried racism all the way. It seems to have worked because he got elected to Congress and has been there ever since.
Readers of this and other conservative blogs know about the corrupt money giveaway known as Pigford. Breitbart was all over it. So was National Review.
Now, two years later, the New York Times discovers the story is fit to print.
In a nutshell: the racialists in the Obama administration have given away $1.33 billion to black and Hispanic. The tab will likely get much bigger.
Sequester that, honky!
In the winter of 2010, after a decade of defending the government against bias claims by Hispanic and female farmers, Justice Department lawyers seemed to have victory within their grasp.
Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers, the Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.
But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost.
They were wrong.
On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.
The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.
“I think a lot of people were disappointed,” said J. Michael Kelly, who retired last year as the Agriculture Department’s associate general counsel. “You can’t spend a lot of years trying to defend those cases honestly, then have the tables turned on you and not question the wisdom of settling them in a broad sweep.”
The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.
…the onetime wife of Marc Rich, she was a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
She was very generous to the Clintons and Bill repaid her with a presidential pardon for Marc on his way out of the White House. (One of a few sleazy pardons issued by the sleazy president.)
There are 4,000 Americans affiliated with offshore accounts identified in the documents. Among them is Denise Rich, a Grammy-nominated socialite who helped secure the presidential pardon of her ex-husband, Mark Rich, who was indicted on charges of tax evasion and illegal trading with Iran. As of April 2006, she had $144 million stashed in a trust in the Cook Islands. She gave up her U.S citizenship in 2011 for Austrian citizenship
That’s from a post on the Daily Beast about rich people using offshore accounts. Instapundit notes:
The pardon, as this story fails to mention, was granted by Bill Clinton. Attorney General Eric Holder was instrumental in securing it.
Bubba was a piker. The Clinton White House sold sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom that were cheap at the price. Barack Obama is auctioning off access to His Grandiosity for really big bucks. Unlike Hillary, Michelle doesn’t even have to straighten up the room and make up the bed when the guests leave.
The White House reacted with considerable heat Monday to editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post scolding the president for putting “major campaign donors” on an “advisory board” and giving them frequent “access” to the president. This little perk was said to be going for a half-million dollars.
“Any notion that there is a set price for a meeting with the president of the United States is just wrong,” Jay Carney, the president’s mouthpiece, told reporters at the White House.
The wording of Mr. Carney’s remarks, which are usually carefully measured to make sure the spokesman’s brain is engaged before his mouth moves, raises speculation that the price of the access is set on a sliding scale. This could pose problems for the president and his men. If the CEO of Ajax Widgets LLC pays $500,000 for a cup of coffee and a breakfast bagel with the president, he won’t be pleased to learn that the CEO of Acme Anvils, Inc., got the president’s ear for $475,000, and maybe got two bagels and a strawberry shmear on the side.
The Washington Post, in its editorial, decried the sale of access as “behavior that has become all too common in this town and carries more than a whiff of influence-peddling.” The New York Times detected more than a whiff, of something like genuine stink. An advisory board, the newspaper said, “is nothing more than a fancy way of setting a price for access to Mr. Obama.”
This contretemps, so far the cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, is (more…)
Senator Chuck Grassley’s floor speech
The problem we face with Mr. Lew’s nomination is that the Senate does not have answers to basic factual questions about Mr. Lew. How can we make an informed choice on his nomination? For example, when Mr. Lew worked at tax-exempt New York University, he was given a subsidized $1.4 million mortgage. Now, Mr. Lew claims that he cannot remember the interest rate he paid on his $1.4 million mortgage that tax-exempt New York University gave him. Does this pass the laugh test? . . .
When Mr. Lew was executive vice president of NYU, the school received kickbacks on student loans from Citigroup C -0.38% . Then, Mr. Lew went to work for Citigroup. When I asked Mr. Lew if he had any conversations with Citigroup about these kickbacks while he was at NYU, he once again “could not recall.” . . .
In the past, the President has railed against the “fat cats” on Wall Street. Today, the President nominates a man who took a bonus from a bailed-out financially insolvent bank. The President has constantly complained about the high cost of college tuition. While Mr. Lew was at NYU, the University increased tuition nearly 40 percent while he was getting paid more than NYU’s President.
In the not so distant past, President Obama called the Ugland House “the biggest tax scam in the world.” Today he nominates a man who invested there. In fact, the President has repeatedly railed against the Cayman Islands and Cayman Islands investments. Mr. Lew is a serial Cayman Islands investor. On his watch, Citigroup invested money there, NYU invested money there, and he invested his own money there.
The WSJ wryly noted Lew’s confirmation as good news:
…there is a silver lining. His support from every Democrat (save Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders) sets a new standard that renders irrelevant a decade of Democratic political campaigns. Such as:
• Investment accounts in the Cayman Islands are no longer evil tax havens. Now they are a form of prudent investor diversification. Tax lawyers everywhere want to thank Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus for his new forbearance.
• Poorly disclosed executive compensation is no longer a plague on profit-making businesses. It’s now “not uncommon for large organizations,” as New York University explained Mr. Lew’s $685,000 severance payment for leaving the school to join the paupers on Wall Street.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that this severance “payment was not disclosed in the university’s publicly available tax records.” This is true, but it’s odd because NYU told us last week that Mr. Lew’s compensation was reported in the school’s IRS filings. The school’s policy, clearly stated on its website under the headline “No Severance Pay,” says no one who resigns voluntarily receives such a payment. But Mr. Lew did.
• Corporate jet rides? They’re now a necessary perk that former Democratic Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin is allowed to bestow on his political protégés.
• And private lending in the student-loan market—featuring what liberals used to call “kickbacks” to colleges—is now officially acceptable in President Obama’s Washington. Mr. Lew was at NYU when the school made Citigroup, C -0.31% his future employer, its preferred lender in return for a 0.25% share of each loan.
• Perhaps those who still have jobs on Wall Street can also take heart that Mr. Lew’s ascension might mark the end of Washington’s banker-bashing. Having been present at the meltdown of Citigroup’s mortgage investment arm, Mr. Lew will no doubt understand that failure happens in finance and it’s not usually a crime.
Words matter. Laws matter. Logic matters. But not to the likes of Democrat John Conyers
Opening the first immigration hearing of the new Congress, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee warned his colleagues not to use the term “illegal immigrant” as the debate goes on.
“I hope no one uses the term illegal immigrants here today. Our citizens are not — the people in this country are not illegal. They are are out of status. They are new Americans that are immigrants,” said Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat.
As Congress begins the immigration debate, both sides are preparing for an emotionally charged fight, and language will be one of the battlegrounds.
Many immigrant-rights advocates object to the terms “illegal” and “alien,” saying that people cannot be deemed illegal, and that the word “alien” makes them sound inhuman. They argue the better terms are “undocumented migrants.”
Conyers should be more sensitive to illegality. After all, his wife Monica is serving a three year term for bribery as Detroit city councilwoman.
Americans know Jackie Chan best for his cheery, acrobatic performances in action movies such as “Rumble in the Bronx” and “Rush Hour,” made successful by his amazing martial artistry and self-effacing comedy. Chinese know Chan, a Hong Kong native, for largely the same reasons. But they also know him for something most Americans might find surprising: He is passionately political, a staunch defender of the Chinese Communist Party and harsh critic of anyone he sees as opposing Beijing. Today, that includes the United States.
Chan, responding to widespread criticism of China’s recent censorship of a popular newspaper, insisted in a Chinese TV interview that the United States is “the most corrupt country in the world.” He scolded Chinese who criticize their country in a way that foreigners can hear or see, adding that he’s careful to only praise China when giving interviews in the U.S.
… An excerpt from a TV interview:
Jackie Chan: The New China. The real success has been made in the past dozen of years. Our country’s president also admits they have the corruption problem, and some other stuff, but we are making progress. What I can see is our country is continuously making progress and learning. If you talk about corruption, the entire world, the United State, has no corruption?
Chan: The most corrupt in the world.
Chan: Of course. Where does this Great Breakdown [financial crisis] come from? It started exactly from the world, the United States. When I was interviewed in the U.S., people asked me, I said the same thing. I said now that China has become strong, everyone is making an issue of China. If our own countrymen don’t support our country, who will support our country? We know our country has many problems. We [can] talk about it when the door is closed. To outsiders, [we should say] “our country is the best.”
Well, there is Chicago. And Illinois, where the past three governors have gone to prison. But heck, at least we punish corruption. Most of the time.
If you’re concerned about corporate crime, 2012 looked like a pretty successful year for the good guys.
The Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen paid $762 million in fines and penalties and pleaded guilty to a federal charge related to illegal marketing of its anemia drug Aranesp. Britain’s GlaxoSmithKlineand Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories paid $3 billion and $1.5 billion in government penalties, respectively, in connection with their off-label promotions of blockbuster drugs. Glaxo’s was the biggest drug company settlement in history.
The global bank HSBC paid a record $1.92 billion to settle federal accusations that it operated a huge money-laundering scheme for Mexican drug dealers and Middle Eastern terrorists. BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion and plead guilty to 11 felony counts in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the biggest federal criminal penalty ever.
To the companies, however, these big numbers are just chump change. Typically they don’t even represent repayment of ill-gotten gains — more often merely the cost of doing business. And to the public, they’re insults piled atop the injuries caused by the firms’ wrongdoing.
“These fines are a carny act to keep the rubes happy,” according to William K. Black, who was a thrift regulator during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. “It’s cynical — the art is to make the amount sound large but make sure that it has no material effect.”
What might really get the attention of the CEOs and other top executives of lawbreaking companies would be some time in the hoosegow. Does that sound quaint? If so, it’s because not a single high-ranking executive of any of the companies mentioned above faced indictment or was even forced to step down.
The absence of criminal cases against perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis is a continuing scandal. It’s not as though there haven’t been suitable candidates for the docket. Angelo Mozilo, the chairman of Countrywide Financial, was the face of mortgage company excesses in the housing bubble…
UPDATE: Ann Althouse has a new slogan for Al Jazeera, “You can call us Al.”
Bernard Goldberg on Al Gore selling his TV channel:
…Because Current was such a financial flop, Gore and his business partners decided to sell. (These are the same geniuses, by the way, who once paid Keith Olbermann $10 million dollars and got nothing but trouble in return.) But they wanted a very special buyer, one who shared their values, they said.
Turns out Glenn Beck wanted to buy Current but no way Gore and his team would ever let that happen. They refused to take an offer from Beck because, as one source put it, “the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view.”
Instead, they sold out to al Jazeera. Seriously.
If you think that’s funny wait until you hear the rest of the story. The government of Qatar owns al Jazeera (which claims to be independent from the government). Qatar makes about a bazillion dollars a week selling oil to the gas-guzzling world. So if you connect the dots you can easily see that money derived from oil bought Current TV – from the same Al Gore who has spent the past decade or so railing against oil, unless it’s being pumped into the private jet which hauls his considerable rear end all over the place.
Can you say irony? But wait. Don’t say it yet.
It also turns out that Gore – whose picture you see if you look up the word “liberal” in the dictionary — wanted to close the deal before December 31. Why? Because he reportedly is making about $100 million on the sale and … (wait for it) … wanted to avoid the higher tax rates on people like him that went into effect on January 1 of this year. (He missed by a day; the deal wasn’t done until January 2nd.)
Don’t you love those sanctimonious liberals who tell us the rich need to pay their “fair share,” that raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans is the patriotic thing to do … and then do their best to make sure they themselves don’t actually have to pay higher taxes.
Just buying Current does not guarantee instant distribution, however. Time Warner Cable, which offered Current in roughly 10 million of its homes, is dropping the channel. Without Time Warner Cable, which is the largest distributor in New York City and Los Angeles, Current TV is in only about 50 million homes.
Typically, when a cable network is sold or changes its programming direction, distributors can renegotiate their deals. It is possible that other distributors that carry Current may see the sale as an opportunity to drop a low-rated channel that is fairly expensive in proportion to its ratings.
But here’s the corker:
Gore and Hyatt said in a statement that Current and Al Jazeera shared similar goals of speaking “truth to power” and providing “independent and diverse points of view and to “tell the stories that no one else is telling.”
Gore’s propaganda film–which won an Oscar and him a Nobel prize–pretends that the green lobby is outnumbered and outspent by evil capitalists. This is just another lie.
…some Republicans and business groups see signs of a “regulatory cliff” that they say could be just as damaging to the economy.
For months, federal agencies and the White House have sidetracked dozens of major regulations that cover everything from power plant pollution to workplace safety to a crackdown on Wall Street.
The rules had been largely put on hold during the presidential campaign as the White House sought to quiet Republican charges that President Barack Obama was an overzealous regulator who is killing U.S. jobs.
But since the election, the Obama administration has quietly reopened the regulations pipeline.
The Obama way: hire an army of academics who know everything but have done nothing (but tell everyone what’s what) and give them power.
Hold on, that describes Obama himself.
As for the crackdown on Wall Street, Obama’s DOJ has not prosecuted one case from the 2008 meltdown. John Corzine is a free man.
In the case of HSBC, the bank admitted to criminal acts, yet the DOJ will not prosecute any bank officers criminally.
George W. Bush’s DOJ pursued felony charges against Big 5 accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, effectively killing the company and setting an example.
But the tough talking Obama has set a new example for banks: launder Mexican cartel money, and work with the Iranian mullahs and get fined.
Mohammad Safi, a graduate of a medical school in Afghanistan, began working as a psychiatrist at a California mental hospital in 2006, making $90,682 in his first six months. Last year, he took home $822,302, all of it paid by taxpayers.
Safi benefited from what amounted to a bidding war after a federal court forced the state to improve inmate care. The prisons raised pay to lure psychiatrists, the mental health department followed suit to keep employees, and costs soared. Last year, 16 California psychiatrists, including Safi, made more than $400,000, while only one did in the other 11 most populous states, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The jockeying between agencies for the same doctors demonstrates a payroll system run amok and chronic mismanagement, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale University School of Management and founder of a training institute for chief executive officers.
“Even though this all took place in California, such apparent recklessness is almost too over the top for Hollywood,” Sonnenfeld said. “These irresponsible public officials have artificially constrained the market with an unnaturally limited supply pool, either due to laziness, incompetence, corruption or all of the above.”
All of the above, but also because the electorate consists of clueless morons who won’t demand the state government reform itself.
Next, let’s hear how the prison guards make.
It’s one thing for a Democratic presidential candidate to dominate a Democratic city like Philadelphia, but check out this head-spinning figure: In 59 voting divisions in the city, Mitt Romney received not one vote. Zero. Zilch.
These are the kind of numbers that send Republicans into paroxysms of voter-fraud angst, but such results may not be so startling after all.
“We have always had these dense urban corridors that are extremely Democratic,” said Jonathan Rodden, a political science professor at Stanford University. “It’s kind of an urban fact, and you are looking at the extreme end of it in Philadelphia.”
Most big cities are politically homogeneous, with 75 percent to 80 percent of voters identifying as Democrats.
Cities are not only bursting with Democrats: They are easier to organize than rural areas where people live far apart from one another, said Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.
“One reason Democrats can maximize votes in Philadelphia is that it’s very easy to knock on every door,” Issenberg said.
Still, was there not one contrarian voter in those 59 divisions, where unofficial vote tallies have President Obama outscoring Romney by a combined 19,605 to 0?
The unanimous support for Obama in these Philadelphia neighborhoods – clustered in almost exclusively black sections of West and North Philadelphia – fertilizes fears of fraud, despite little hard evidence.
Upon hearing the numbers, Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, brought up his party’s voter-identification initiative – which was held off for this election – and said, “We believe we need to continue ensuring the integrity of the ballot.”
The absence of a voter-ID law, however, would not stop anyone from voting for a Republican candidate.
Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia who has studied African American precincts, said he had occasionally seen 100 percent of the vote go for the Democratic candidate. Chicago and Atlanta each had precincts that registered no votes for Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008.
“I’d be surprised if there weren’t a handful of precincts that didn’t cast a vote for Romney,” he said. But the number of zero precincts in Philadelphia deserves examination, Sabato added.
“Not a single vote for Romney or even an error? That’s worth looking into,” he said.
Two comments: no kidding and don’t hold your breath.
FEMA, while it is a clusterfrig of titanic proportions, could not cause this much misery on its own. Although they FAILED to have emergency generators at key fuel distribution points (read gas stations) and although they FAILED to have any kind of plan to move food and fuel to the affected areas, and although they FAILED to even have a forward based supply of bottled water and ran out last Friday, even these gold plated MORONS couldn’t have frigged things up this badly alone.
Do you want to know why the power is STILL off on Long Island, Davenport? Read this here: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Sandy-LIPA-Outages-Power-Long-Island-Defense-Military-178115341.html
In it you will find reference to a report from 2006, SIX YEARS AGO, which found that Long Island Power Authority had not done the basic maintenance required to secure the power grid from weather damage. The maintenance they’re talking about here is tree cutting mostly, and replacing bad power poles.
I lived in New York in the 1990’s. I could have written that report. The f-ing power went off every time it snowed because they didn’t cut trees and the trees ripped the lines down. They also didn’t plow the roads, but that’s a story for another day.
You want to know why they don’t cut the f-ing trees Davenport? It isn’t because they are stupid, it isn’t because they don’t know, it isn’t because private enterprise is inherently corrupt, it isn’t even because union workers are a bunch of rent-seeking layabouts. Its because every time they go to cut down a tree, some local Greenies get up a petition or a court order to make them stop. So they stop. So the trees break and knock down the power lines. Same thing all over the North East until you get up into snow country, where even the f-ing tree huggers know better.
Well -this- time it all came home to roost the same day, and every overhanging (more…)