Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Holder admits he may have 'misled' Congress in OFF testimony

Why is the media so determined to make every excuse on behalf of disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder? A puff piece on Holder's Senate testimony from US News & World Report actually insults the intelligence of every American with the following: "So far, no evidence has come to light showing that Holder read 100-plus page memos that briefly and broadly referred to the operation, or that his senior aides knew either."

They actually state this asinine caveat as though it's a good thing. That there's no proof he read the memos doesn't make Holder look any better but would just be yet another altogether separate yet compelling reason that he should be replaced immediately. Not having read the memos just speaks to his incompetence. Most other media outlets are giving Holder a similar pass, as evidenced by the coddling in the latest CNN report: They make a point of quoting Holder as he scolds Republicans for allegedly playing "gotcha" politics, but make no mention that he admitted  his Congressional testimony was misleading.

CNN never acknowledges Holder's mea culpa, which to be fair is wishy-washy and insufficient at best, but of great significance nonetheless. Holder admitted to the Senate committe that he testified in May Congressional hearings of only having been aware of OFF for a few weeks when he had actually been aware of it for at least a few months by that point.

From The Daily Caller:

“I did say a ‘few weeks,’” Holder clarified Tuesday, responding to questions from Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I probably could’ve said ‘a couple of months.'

Holder also admitted to Leahy that Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley handed him letters in person in late January, months before Holder previously claimed he knew of the controversial initiative of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). The BATFE is a division of the Department of Justice.

All hell should be breaking loose in the media, calling for his resignation and characterizing him as incompetent at best, yet the vast majority of media outlets are omitting the most pertinent details of his Senate testimony. It appears that news is now being reported quite selectively. Too bad Eric Holder isn't a football coach or his mistakes, both real and perceived, would be newsworthy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PA House Democrats trying to lay their own failures on Corbett & the GOP

The PA House Democrats have had the spin machine working overtime since Corbett took office. They're constantly insisting that Corbett and the state GOP are to blame for every problem in PA, despite the reality that such claims are patently false. There's an endless wash of memos, newsletters, tweets, press releases and more from the PA House Dems constantly pounding every Pennsylvanian with this disingenuous message. It's too bad that our state Democratic Party refuses to be accountable for their own failures and won't own up to their mistakes. The fact that they're trying to pin the fruits of their own incompetence on the current administration is truly offensive to citizens' intelligence.

The PA House Dems obviously think the voters are very stupid. There's no other way to explain their sensationalized finger-pointing at the GOP. The Dems refuse to accept any responsibility for their own bad policies and the repurcussions of those choices. Voters are tired of the blaming on multiple levels, first and foremost because it's dishonest. The party owes us the truth but all they give us is childishly crafted misinformation. And to what end? Is this our punishment for voting in a GOP majority? It's almost as though the Dems have decided that by taking away their majority, we now warrant a blizzard of PR temper tantrums.

Rather than learn from their mistakes and come up with ways to do things better, the De rfuse to acknowledge those mistakes. They want to pretend that Pennsylvania was all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns until the GOP took charge but nothing could be further from the truth. For 8 years under the Ridge/Schweiker administration there was total GOP control. During that time, Pennsylvania added more than 380,000 jobs. Even during Rendell's first term jobs increased by 163,000 when the GOP still controlled the House and Senate. But when Democrats took over the state House and held the Governor's office from 2007 through 2011, the state lost more than 137,000 jobs. Unemployment in PA more than doubled under what passes for leadership from the state Democratic party, rising from 4.2% to 8.5%.

They should be telling us what they learned from their failures and how they will use that knowledge to do better by us, but instead they're sending out memos claiming that unemployment has risen half a percentage point due to Corbett. Most citizens would be happy if it had only risen that slightly during their tenure but we're presumably supposed to be incensed at Corbett. The actions of the PA House Dems are akin to an arsonist telling you that your house is burning because the fire department is taking too long to arrive on the scene.

That's really what all this comes down to: the Democrats caused far more harm than good but now want you to blame the Republicans for not being able to fix the mess. Rendell increased total state spending by nearly 40%, even after off-setting cuts in many areas. The 2009-2010 state budget represents an overall increase of more than 36% from 2002-2003 spending. They cut budgets for executive offices and conservation by more than 50%, community development by more than 20%, environmental protection by more than 30% and the historical and museum commission by more than 40% in what they presented as a "bare bones" budget. They even cut the budget for labor and industry by more than 20% overall despite the fact that unemployment in the state more than doubled.

Yet they increased welfare spending by more than 62% in the same period, even as they cut out critical oversight needed to prevent fraud. Auditor General Jack Wagner has fought to audit various aspects of welfare in PA for years now without success, all the while calling for improved oversight as well as procedural changes to prevent waste, also with no success. Pennsylvania deserves to have adults in charge, not whiny children who want to pass the buck on their failures. We also deserve leaders with enough integrity to admit when their policies fail and learn from their mistakes. The current crop of PA House Dems soundly escew both maturity and accountability in their ridiculous PR campaign against Corbett and the GOP. We can only hope that voters start holding them accountable for the misinformation campaign they're spreading and vote them all out.

Welcome to America, terrorists and drug lords!

Apparently it's not enough for some people that the highest levels of our federal law enforcement is already helping criminals get guns; So now some Senators want to encourage foreign investors to make cash puchases of expensive homes in exchange for a US visa. A new immigration bill is being proposed and one facet seeks to entice foreign buyers to make cash purchases of residential real estate of at least $500,000 by giving them a visa for doing so.

This abortion of logic is a bipartisan travesty between Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Utah Republican Mike Lee. What could possibly be more enticing to criminals than large cash purchases in exchange for preferential treatment under visa and citizenship laws? And how would these cash transactions be assessed to prevent laundered money or profits from criminal enterprise from being used for the purchases? A government that can't secure our borders is hardly competent to police such transactions.

The impetus for this provision appears to be the fact that foreign real estate investments helped prevent the housing crisis from being even worse. But since the main goal of the US government is now to punish those with assets and tax them into the poorhouse, investing in our nation is hardly a tantalizing prospect for foreign investors who are free to invest in nations with more reasonable goals and tax structures. A sensible way to entice foreign investors would be tax breaks, including protection from future tax increases over the immediate future, say, 5 years. But as usual, Washington strives to hammer home the point that there's no room for sensible decisions in government. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Obama administration will advance their political agenda at any cost, even American lives

It's difficult for anyone reading about Operation Fast and Furious to follow the logic of the federal government. To what end should we ever knowingly allow straw purchasers to buy high-powered weapons? The government claims that it was to build a bigger case against the ultimate end-users. In other words, they were letting the "little guys" go about their business in order to build a better case against the bigger fish. That's pretty hard to believe, considering the possible implications of this strategy. This stated strategy just doesn't make sense and often when something doesn't make sense, it's simply not true.

The operation was in direct conflict with the official DOJ policy, which is to everything possible to reduce the number of illegal guns traveling south of the border. Email trails and other documentation in this case show a disturbing trend of doing the wrong thing on every level of this operation. Those running OFF were repeatedly reminded that all actions should support the DOJ mission statement yet they purposely continued to run their operation contrary to those goals. Field agents were repeatedly ordered to stand down in situations that would normally warrant action and even threatened with repurcussions should they insist on acting responsibly. The whistleblower was summarily terminated by the ATF as the investigation into the scandal grew.

The Congressional investigation is bringing disturbing new information to light. One example shows that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress. Holder testified in May 2011 that he had merely heard about OFF a few times in recent weeks as the investigation into OFF got underway but proof shows that he was aware of the operation and regularly briefed on it from at least June of 2010 on. The White House has also denied knowledge of this and similar operations, claiming that high-level officials in the administration were not made aware of these cases but proof shows that at least one of Obama's National Security officials, Kevin O'Reilly, had knowledge of these operations.

Exactly how much O'Reilly knew is not known at this time because as the scandal heated up, he was transferred to the State Department and as the Congressional investigation picked up speed, O'Reilly was suddenly sent to Iraq as part of his new duties and unavailable to testify. The administration should recall O'Reilly immediately for testimony to avoid any illusion of impropriety. Anything less looks like an obvious and clumsy attempt at a cover-up. That O'Reilly is still in Iraq is not only obstruction of the Congressional investigation but is also fueling speculation among conspiracy theorists that the Iraq mission may be so dangerous that O'Reilly won't survive.

What has happened to the most transparent administration in the history of the nation? For all of his campaign rhetoric about accountability and transparency, Obama hasn't improved anything on those fronts. If anything, his administration appears to be doing everything in it's power to cover-up, destroy evidence and obstruct the investigation. How else can they explain missing the Congressional deadline to turn over subpoenaed documents by a full week? The public deserves to know everything that happened, the offending parties must be punished to the full extent of the law and procedures need to be revised to ensure such a debacle never happens again. But these things can't happen so long as the investigation is hampered by all of the offending parties.

To what end did anyone support OFF and the similar operations? The stakes were high, after all. Loss of life was guaranteed and there was no reason to believe that the majority of these weapons would ever be recovered so the potential repurcussions are exponential. The only thing that makes sense is that this administration wanted to support it's spurious claims that drug cartel violence is fueled by illegal American weapons purchases. After all, Hillary Clinton and others in the Obama circle like to claim that most of the guns used by the cartels come illegally from America.

Despite the fact that this claim is easily proven to be false,  the administration appears to love to insist it's a fact. The folly of these operations is easily explained by the goal of "proving" this falsehood. After all, if they can facilitate a way to allow large volume buys by known straw purchasers, then track the guns across the border to seize the cache at a later date, they could easily spin it as "proof" that they've been right all along in their assertions about illegal guns in America fueling the Mexican drug trade. No matter that the evidence would be anecdotal and based on faulty premise, all that matters is that large seizures would take place and the confiscated weapons would be easily tracked back to US dealers.

The intent to further a partisan agenda here trumped the responsibility of the government to perform it's most basic function. Rather than stopping the purchases, the government coerced gun dealers into cooperating. At least one dealer expressed concern that the firearms would be used for illegal activities, especially to bring harm to law enforcement in border areas, but was continually assured that the best course of action was to continue selling guns to criminals. Rather than arrest the purchasers and recover the weapons, the government insisted on doing nothing in the hopes that they would later recover the firearms in a manner that would allow them to grandstand.

This is a complete failure of government in every possible way. They have intentionally put guns into the hands of criminals in order to further a partisan agenda. They are obstructing the investigation on various levels. There is nothing even close to transparency from this administration, as this may actually be one of the darkest corners of our government. Additional details of the Congressional investigation will be posted soon in a follow-up, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Be careful what you wish for, kids

It goes without saying that the "Occupy" protestors are largely pathetic failures of personal responsibility. Even in the most fawning of media portrayals -- which are legion -- these people appear to be absolutely clueless in every possible way. There is no acknowledgement of controlling one's own destiny or taking responsibility for one's own choices. This is nothing more than a glut of  people who have consciously made a series of bad decisions suddenly demanding a handout to reverse their self-inflicted bad fortune.

These are freelance artists and wanna-be filmmakers who resent their struggle to make a living "protesting" the wealth of the upper classes when in fact they have simply refused to get a job. Face it, your art sucks and it's never going to pay the bills. McDonald's is in the midst of a national hiring event and supposedly offers decent benefits. Take a shower, wash your clothes, head over to the Golden Arches and voila, you can pay rent this month. Art is a hobby for millions of Americans who find time to draw, paint, sculpt and create in their free time, you know, after work.

Nobody has a right to enjoy their dream job despite a lack of success in their chosen field. Let's face it, most things that make the world go 'round aren't anyone's passion but they are jobs that need to be performed in order for us to live in a civilized society. Nobody wants to write insurance policies, clean toilets, be a medical biller or process raw sewage but these things need to be done every day and someone has to do them. There are millions of jobs in the world that don't inspire zeal in anyone yet somehow millions of Americans perform them every day with pride then go home and write, paint, take pictures, make jewelry or perform any number of hobbies in their spare time. That's life and that's how life should be beause nothing else will keep society functioning.

Imagine for a moment that these whimsical little urchins got exactly what they wanted: a society where those who have worked to earn are forced to completely subsidize those who choose to play (as opposed to the mere partial-subsidization under which we currently operate). Those billions and even trillions don't go very far when they have to cover the cost of everything for everyone. Socialism and communism have failed in every aspect in every attempt to organize such societies and for good reason: There is never enough money to satisfy those who aren't required to earn it.

These protestors lack not only vision but also maturity and even the most basic understanding of how a society can (or can't function) with any degree of success. The Tea Party has long been excoriated in the media for protesting government spending, political pay-to-play and government waste but this new movement is being lauded for harassing private citizens with largely the same demands. All of the "problems" identified by these protests (at least the few coherent points we can garner from this mess) are rooted in our government's ineptitude, incompetence and failure of accountability.

Were these protests being held at Congress, the White House and state or local government offices natiowide, they would have a sensible purpose with intelligent goals. But as they are, it's merely a bunch of lazy, spoiled, entitled brats harassing those who have bothered to work out of spite that their own choice to merely play hasn't paid off. Support or applause for these misdirected and ignorant sentiments is pathetic, at best. These protestors are intentionally turning a blind eye to all of the very real problems in our society and creating scapegoats to avoid taking responsibility for their own choices. If they have any success with their childish and misguided mission, we will all be far worse off for it.