Sequestering And Washington’s Fiscal Incompetence

spending2 Sequestering And Washingtons Fiscal Incompetence

As many of you may know, if the political class does not get its act together by March 1, 2013, automatic Federal government spending cuts will kick in that will reduce government spending by over a trillion dollars over the next ten years. This “sequestering” of budget dollars was agreed to by Congress and Obama in August of 2011 in the debt ceiling negotiations.

While this is a decent first step in reining in government spending, it is still pretty meager. Overall government spending will still increase in the baseline budget view, it will just increase at a somewhat lower rate. Annual spending deficits will continue to mount up, increasing our national debt and burdening future generations of Americans with that debt.

How anemic is this effort at reducing spending? Let’s do some simple math:

  • Let’s assume that the ten year trillion dollar spending reduction averages out to about $100 billion a year.
  • According to the official White House website, the Federal government will spend about $4.5 trillion in 2017.
  • This $4.5 trillion is less than it spent in 2012 but is less than it will likely spend ten years from now, under baseline budget assumptions, so the 2017 estimate is a good ten year annual average.
  • $100 billion a year in spending cuts against an average spending budget of $4.5 trillion is only a meager 2.2% spending decrease.
  • According to the White House website  budget spreadsheet, in 2017, this $100 billion in spending cuts would still add over half a TRILLION to the national debt.

Despite this feeble attempt at expense reduction, many in the administration are choking on it. Retired Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claims our national defense would be endangered by a 2.2% reduction in spending. Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that we could not afford a meager 2.2% reduction in his budget since we needed to continue to butt into the lives of people in other countries around the world. President Obama has been spreading panic, claiming many vital government services would be slashed because of this meager 2.2% cut in spending.

Makes you wonder if these so-called leaders are 1) that out of touch with the real world, 2) want to protect their turf at any cost regardless of the impact on the fiscal integrity of the country, or 3) are just that fiscally incompetent that they do not know how to run an efficient operation and can only operate it by increasing their budget rather than decreasing their organization’s waste, redundancy, and incompetence.

To help these politicians understand why this 2.2% reduction is a very easily attainable goal, let’s point out via just a HANDFUL of examples of how wasteful, redundant and incompetent their organizations are today:

- Medicare and Medicaid lose over $100 billion a year to waste, inefficiency, and criminal fraud.

- Social Security loses over $100 billion a year to waste, inefficiency, and criminal fraud.

- The IRS admits that it is so incompetent that it fails to collect over $380 billion a year from tax evaders.

- The U.S. Navy, one of Panetta’s former organizations, spent $300 million to build two Navy ships almost to completion before spending another $10 million to turn them both into scrap metal without ever using them.

- The State Department, John Kerry’s organization, recently spent $80 million to build a consulate building in northern Afghanistan that will never be used since the $80 million is not defensible from a terrorist attack and was built by bypassing the State Department’s own building guidelines relative to terrorists.

- The Transportation Safety Agency recently bought over $180 million worth of airport security equipment that it will never use, storing it in a warehouse in its original packaging.

- Employees in the General Services Administration threw themselves a Las Vegas bash at taxpayer expense, resulting in the dismissal and resignations of GSA employees and executives.

- The Obama administration recently made the inane, indefensible decision to give Egypt over one billion dollars worth of F-16 fighter planes and tanks, weapons that could eventually impact both Department of Defense and State Department operations in the future.

- And last but not least, consider some new findings relative to the President’s economic stimulus plan, as recently reported by the Independent Journal Review. Unfortunately, these types of expenses are no confined to the stimulus program, they happen every day in every Federal government department and entity.

These insults to the taxpayer occurred even though when President Obama signed the $831 billion stimulus into law in 2009, he stated that “tough choices smart investments” needed to be made. So ask yourself: if these are the “smart investments,” you can only wonder what the dumb expenses were:

  • $250 was sent to a woman in Maryland who died in 1967.
  • $840 was spent to disassemble and assemble three desks.
  • The Lincoln Center in New York City was paid to host a “tango salon.”
  • $10,000 was spent replacing light fixtures at a fish hatchery.
  • $425,000 was spent in $250 increments to 1,700 prisons inmates for social security checks.
  • $426,000 was spent to rebuild a bridge that is used by a average of ten cars a day.
  • $500,000 was spent in subsidies for rain barrel installation.
  • $600,000 was sent to a school district in Kansas …that no longer exists.
  • $1 million was spent in New York on road signs advertising stimulus projects.
  • $1 million was used to build 250 bike lockers.
  • $1.25 million was used to use electric fish to study animal sensory information.
  • $1.75 million was spent on energy-efficient garage doors.
  • $2.2 million was spent to install skylights for a liquor store in Montana.
  • $2.8 was million spent installing toilets in New Mexico’s national forest.
  • $15 million was spent to build an airport in Ouizinkie, Alaska …a town of 165 people.

Disgraceful wastes of money. Which gets us back to our central question: Are Kerry, Panetta, and Obama out of touch, protecting turf or just fiscally incompetent? Or possibly all of the above?

Hillary, What Difference Did You Make?

Hillary Clinton on the Hill Hillary, What Difference Did You Make?

When recently testifying in front of Congressional committees investigating the fatal disaster that happened at the U.S. Consulate at Benghazi in Libya, former Secretary of State famously shouted, “What difference does it make?” when asked detailed questions regarding the inferior and shoddy security at the consulate. Maybe America should ask a slightly different question of Ms. Clinton if given the opportunity: “What Difference Did You Make?”

News reports and poll results show that Ms. Clinton has very high favorability ratings among Americans. To be honest, many of us don’t see it or get it. When we look at her record as Secretary of State, we see a string of failures, missed opportunities, and management shortcomings that culminated in the unnecessary death of four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador in Libya.

One cannot say that someone else could have done better in this role in this tumultuous times. But it is difficult to see why she is getting this much love for just showing up for work with no discernible success stories or accomplishments to her credit:

1) Iran is four years closer to having nuclear weapons, and no diplomatic efforts from this administration and this former Secretary of State have come close to terminating this growing danger.

2) North Korea is four years closer to having nuclear weapons, and, more importantly, four years closer to having the rocket delivery capability to put one of those nukes into the West Coast of the United States. No diplomatic efforts from this administration of this former Secretary of State have come close to terminating this growing danger.

3) This administration and this former Secretary of State were caught completely by surprise and off guard by the so-called Arab Spring and the ramifications from these uprisings. Once caught by surprise, they never got out in front of the changes and problems associated with these earth moving political shifts.

4) This administration and this former Secretary of State apparently did not anticipate and have no plan to cope with the civil war in Syria, showing no leverage to get the violence to stop or to contain the various types of weapons, including chemical, from falling into the wrong hands.

5) Four years of this administration and this former Secretary of State has gotten us no closer to resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Now, granted, not much progress has been made since the whole conflict started in 1948 so this was a tough issue on which no progress was made.

6) Late last year, the Associated Press reported on the disaster that was to be a U.S. consulate facility in the northern part of Afghanistan. After $80 million of taxpayer wealth had been expended, the State Department decided to abandon the facility since it was basically indefensible, wasting $80 million. Existing State Department procedures and protocols were ignored or overwritten that would have prevented this wasting of $80 million. This calls into question of how well the State Department functioned administratively under Clinton’s direction, especially on high profile, expensive spending initiatives like this consulate.

7) Four years of this administration and this former Secretary of State resulted in no leverage with China, a nation that bullies its neighboring countries, sponsors cyber attacks on other countries’ military, infrastructure, and private businesses, manipulates its currency to our detriment,  and which is the biggest polluter and emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.

8) She was either unaware or stood by quietly as this administration violated any number of laws and treaties by allowing the Fast And Furious gun running operation to ship thousands of illegal weapons to Mexican drug cartels, weapons that ended up killing a U.S. border agent and dozens of Mexican civilians without contacting Mexican authorities ahead of the operation.

9) And worst of all, the death and destruction from the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate at Benghazi:

  • Despite many, many warnings ahead of the attack regarding the weak consulate security operations, no attempt was made to successfully beef up security in one of the most dangerous places in the world.
  • Security was so bad that a badly injured ambassador received medical treatment not from U.S. resources but was driven to a local hospital by Libyan citizens. There Libyan doctors treated him without even knowing who he was. In other words, security operations were so bad we physically lost track of a U.S. ambassador‘s whereabouts and body.
  • It is still unknown the real reasons behind the attacks: was it a botched kidnapping attempt, with the Obama administration’s involvement, to trade the ambassador for the “blind sheik?” Was it to cover up an illegal gun running operation to the Syrian rebels and shut down the operation and those that were involved? Or was it just gross incompetence?
  • These questions do make a difference and it is her responsibility to come clean with America, she was in charge.

So, yes Hillary, it really does make a difference. But more importantly: What difference did you make in the four years you served as Secretary of State? To be honest, there seems to be no positive difference or international relations progress between now and 2009 when you took over the difficult job of managing our international affairs.

How About Some Hate Control Before More Gun Control?

Nancy Pelosi SC How About Some Hate Control Before More Gun Control?

As most informed people know, there was a tragic and senseless school shooting incident in Newtown, Connecticut last month that left defenseless children and adults killed by an obviously deranged young man. It is inconceivable to most people how a young man can go so astray that he murders random people for no obvious reason.

As a result, certain elements of the political class in Washington have taken advantage of this tragedy to advance their own personal agendas relative to gun control, with the idea that controlling or eliminating gun possession by all of us would have somehow prevented the Newtown tragedy.

Rather than trying to understand the root causes of such abhorrent behavior, these politicians simplistically look at the “what” of the situation (guns were used to kill) rather than the “why” of the situation (what causes such behavior.) By not understanding the root causes, the chance of resolving the problem is next to nothing.

Maybe there are other causes of such behavior, not simply gun possession. Rather than more draconian gun control rules and laws, we should do a little “hate control” before we recklessly and senselessly go off on a gun control tangent, a tangent that will likely increase crime and gun play, not reduce it and shred the Second Amendment in the process.

Let’s be honest; there is a lot of hate and venom circulating in our country today. Much of it is fomented by the political class as they try to incite their supporters and degrade their opponents in the most dehumanizing ways possible.

The more we dehumanize others, the easier it is to see them as less worthy of their opinion and their life. Maybe if we started respecting each other a little more and taking some of the hate and venom out of our politics, thought processes, and speech, incidents like the shootings in Newtown, in south Chicago, in the ghettos of Detroit, etc. might become a little less frequent if we respected each other a little more.

This increase in respect and humanizing of other human beings should start with our so-called leaders, However, these so-called leaders are a big cause of the problem, not the solution. They have had a busy and disgraceful past couple of years degrading and abusing the opinions, lives, and very existence of the citizens they are supposed to be serving:

  • Democrat Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi called citizen opponents to ObamaCare unpatriotic for simply having a difference of opinion with many politicians in Washington.
  • Democrat Charles Rangel slandered millions of Americans who opposed ObamaCare by calling them racists for simply having an honest difference of opinion with many politicians in Washington.
  • Democrat Shelia Jordan Lee slandered Americans who opposed ObamaCare by associating them with the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Union boss and Democratic supporter Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. stated that his union was at war with the Republicans and Tea Party citizens and that these people “need to be taken out.”
  • Democratic Congressmen Mike Doyle and Henry Waxman and Vice President Joe Biden slandered American citizens opposed to unfettered and destructive government spending and debt by calling them terrorists (those people who bomb and kill innocent civilians).
  • When ordinary Americans objected to the building of a Islamic mosque near the World Trade Center property because of the sad memories of 9-11, Democrat Nancy Pelosi said THEY should be investigated for simply having a passionate opinion on the mosque.
  • Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Walters said all Tea Party American citizens can go to hell simply for having a difference of opinion with her.

When you viciously and unfoundedly associate ordinary citizens with racism, call them terrorists, question their patriotism, wish they would go to hell, and then threaten to take them out/exterminate them, you have dehumanized them in the eyes of your political supporters, making it easy to imagine them actually going away permanently.

Maybe this type of hate, venom, and dehumanizing goes through the head of a young man when he decides to go off and actually follows the advice that those people “need to be taken out.” When your so-called leaders call for this type of behavior and language, it can’t be wrong, can it?

But our political class and their direct supporters also direct their hate and venomous words towards other politicians:

  • The campaign manager of Democrat Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign called his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, a whore.
  • White House czar Van Jones publicly called all Republicans a**h****s.
  • Democrat Alan Grayson called all Republicans knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.
  • TV host Montel Williams publicly hoped that Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachman would commit suicide by decapitating herself.
  • Ed Schultz, an on-air commentator for the Democratic-leaning MSNBC news channel, called Laura Ingraham of Fox News a slut.
  • HBO TV host Bill Maher, a major donor to Obama’s 2012 Presidential Super PAC, said on air that Republican Sarah Palin “would f*** Rick Perry if he was black.”
  • Bill Maher also called Palin a disgusting and derogatory name that I will not repeat here.
  • Playboy magazine’s online website offered a detailed analysis on why and how each of ten Republican women in politics should be hate raped.
  • Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen likened Republican critics of Obamacare to the Nazis and their propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
  • A rap artist gave a Minnesota concert that was billed as the “F*** Michelle Bachman” concert (spelling out the entire f-word).
  • A Democratic operative insulted Ann Romney (and millions of other American women) by slandering and demeaning her as a stay-at-home mother.
  • Martin Bashier of MSNBC News showed a video of Mitt Romney’s campaign bus that was interspersed with video clips of buses blowing up in balls of fire, explicitly wishing that the Romney bus also blow up and that those inside die a fiery death.

When you label others as “sluts” and “whores” and suggest they should be raped or be killed, either by themselves or a fiery bus explosion, you set another stage for dehumanization. If you political opponents are just “sluts” and “whores”, no big deal if they go away, right?

This type of disgusting, hateful behavior is an influence in our society and not an influence for good. It infects the undertone of how we view others. It reduces the amount of respect we have for others, making it easier to abuse others, possibly violently.

It usually does not cause someone to go off and actually start killing others, but it certainly cannot help. It also cuts short the ability to listen to each other and appreciate the diversity of opinion each brings to a potential solution of a problem.

If I have allowed the political class and their ardent supporters to frame you as a racist or a slut or a terrorist, I am unlikely to consider any good you can bring to my life or to a solution of a problem. If I think it is a good thing that you self-decapitate or die in a bus explosion, you will probably not get my attention when it comes to working towards a better society.

As a result of this hateful divisiveness the political class has driven into our society, we despise others who have opinions different from ours. Major issues, such as failing public schools, a lost war on drugs, skyrocketing national debt, high health care costs, illegal immigration, etc. never get resolved. The hate prevents us from listening to each other and calibrating our view of the world with others’ views of the world.

And possibly in the case of Newtown, we go beyond not listening, and we start shooting. Not because guns are legal, but because we have allowed the political class to desensitize us to each other as human beings.

But it is not only politicians who spew the hate and venom, hate and venom that others take to heart, hate and venom that their children take and internalize. Consider just some recent examples that have appeared in the news:

- Consider the hateful speech and intentions of Professor Richard Parncutt of the University of Graz regarding other human beings who are global warming deniers, those daring to have a different opinion than his: “In this article I am going to suggest that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for influential GW [global warming] deniers… They [global warming deniers] are already causing the deaths of hundreds of millions of future people. We could be speaking of billions, but I am making a conservative estimate… With high probability it will cause hundreds of millions of deaths. For this reason I propose that the death penalty is appropriate for influential GW deniers.”

Different opinion; therefore, you should die. If you have a different opinion than Professor Parncutt, he deigns that you do not deserve to live.

- Pulitzer nominated newspaper columnist Donald Kaul recently wrote an article for the Des Moines Register where he called for the killing of gun owners and “dragging legislators who disagree with gun control behind pickup trucks until they get the message.” Don’t agree with my opinion? Thus, we should have more killing and more torture for those who dare to have a difference of opinion. How does this stop the cycle of hate that starts with the political class?

- Erik Loomis, PhD, assistant professor of history at the University of Rhode Island, decided he needed to get into the hate and venom game also when he recently stated on Twitter that he wanted the death of National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre, branding the gun rights group he heads as a terrorist organization””[I] want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.” A little hateful, a little violent?

- Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, recently had some violent rhetoric of her own to share: “Do not think for a minute that the wealthy are ever going to allow you to legislate their riches away from them. Please understand that. However, we are in a moment where the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber baron ages. The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill. They were. They were just – off with their heads. They were seriously talking about that.”

And this person is associated with educating young minds and kids. Don’t like someone or are jealous of their wealth (that in all probability was garnered via hard work and sweat? Then just off with their heads.

You cannot have such hate and disrespect and venomous speech floating around and not have a negative impact on how we treat each other, how it dehumanizes others. You cannot say the Newtown shooting was directly caused because of this poisonous environment, but it certainly did not help. Was the shooter seated around his dinner table through the years when slurs and demeaning things were said about others, how others different from him were worthy of being “taken out“?

And it certainly does not allow us to sit down and go face-to-face with others to leverage everyone’s knowledge and skills to confront all of our problems from school shootings to high debt, high illiteracy levels, failing public education, a failing health care system, etc.

But if we solved all of our problems, on what issues would our politicians run on? And that, my friends, is the root cause of most of our problems from school shootings to the lack of a national energy problem; our shameless politicians need the hate and venom to frame and finance their continual reelection effort.

So tonight, when you are sitting around the table with your family, how about a little more hate control and a lot more respect for others in front of our kids? Again, it couldn’t hurt.

And when you come across such people in life, those who want others to die simply because they have a different opinion, walk away. These people are part of the problem; do not join them in spreading their venom and hatred. There is an old saying that goes as follows: “Never mud wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” Stay clean, reduce the hatred, and maybe save the Second Amendment in the process.

You Are Not Living In A Free Country If…

Dont Tread on Me1 You Are Not Living In A Free Country If...

As we start the new year, one would hope that we could look forward to better times and better lives. However, in the U.S. Republic, that might be a tall order, given the obscene growth and reach of the Federal government in this country and the politicians that operate it.

Read the following and then decide if you think you are still living in a free country:

- You are not living in a free country if your retirement medical care, via Medicare, is dependent on the actions and whims of Federal government politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if a large percentage of your retirement cash flow, via Social Security, is dependent on the actions and whims of Federal government politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if your pre-retirement medical care, via the ramifications of Obama Care, is dependent on the actions and whims of Federal government politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if your ability to go to college, via student loans, is dependent on the actions and whims of Federal government politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if your ability to get a home mortgage, via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is dependent on the actions and whims of Federal government politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if almost a third of your annual earnings go to taxes to support all levels of wasteful, inefficient, and criminally-infested government programs and entities.

- You are not living in a free country if the Federal government’s executive branch can commit U.S. military resources and taxpayer wealth to foreign military actions (e.g. Libya, Yemen, Syria) without Congressional or Constitutional approval.

- You are not living in a free country if the Federal government’s executive branch can independently and arbitrarily designate any American for assassination and then actually commit that assassination without due process of law (e.g. Anwar al-Awlaki).

- You are not living in free country when the Federal government can hold a U.S. citizen in prison for an indefinite period of time without due process of law if that government arbitrarily defines that citizen as a potential threat to national security (National Defense Authorization Act – NDAA)

- You are not living in a free country when a President can seize control of all forms of communications when he alone decides it is in the national interest (Executive Order – Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions)

- You are not living in a free country when the Federal government can collect and store every electronic communication any citizen makes (e.g. email, text messages) in massive data storage centers (e.g. Bluffdale, Utah) without due process, a warrant, or privacy protection.

- You are not living in a free country when the Federal government’s executive branch thinks it can affix a GPS tracking device to any citizen’s car without a warrant (see U.S. Vs. Jones decision).

- You are not living in a free country when the executive branch thinks it has the power to arbitrarily ignore judicial rulings and existing laws (e.g. Gulf Of Mexico drilling moratorium and DOMA).

- You are not living in a free country when government agents, via the TSA, are allowed to grope and grab U.S. citizens’ body parts in the name of national security.

- You are not living in a free country if government and political class spending has rung up trillions of dollars of national debt that will eventually have to be paid by you, your children, and your grandchildren.

- You are not living in a free country if you privacy rights can be almost arbitrarily violated by the Patriot Act.

- You are not living in a free country when crony capitalism wastes billions of taxpayer dollars every year without any redeeming societal benefits (e.g. Solyndra, Fisker, Tesla).

- You are not living in a free country if your political leaders hold you and your opinions in contempt:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – those Americans that opposed Obama’s health care reform effort are un-American.
  • Congressman Charles Rangel – those Americans that opposed Obama’s health care reform effort are like the racists that opposed the civil rights movements in the 1960s.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – American tourists that come to D.C. in the summer physically smell.
  • Congressman Alan Grayson – those Americans with a different opinion from his are knuckle dragging Neanderthals.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – those Americans against the building of a mosque close to Ground Zero in New York City needed to be investigated.
  • Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee – Tea Party members used to wear Ku Klux Klan white sheets.
  • Congresswoman Maxine Walters – Tea Party advocates “can go to hell.”
  • Czar Van Jones – those opposed to the President’s policies are a_ _ h_ _ _ s.

- You are not living in a free country if the executive branch can circumvent Constitutionally mandated government appointment reviews via a “czar” politburo.

- You are not living in a free country when politicians can use billions of taxpayer dollars, via earmarks, to finance their perpetual re-election campaigns.

- You are not living in a free country where politicians decide what private companies live (e.g. Citigroup) and what private companies die (e.g. Lehman Brothers.)

- You are not living in a free country when those in office can maximize their re-election chances with favorable gerrymandering of Congressional districts.

- You are not living in a free country if your selection of a Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party via the primary and caucus system can be overturned by a small cadre of insiders in the upper echelon of the party called “super delegates.”

- You are not living in a free country when sitting politicians can automatically grant themselves annual pay increases regardless of how poorly they led the nation during the past year.

- You are not living in a free country when sitting politicians cannot be removed from Congressional committee posts regardless of how poorly they performed their jobs on those committees (e.g. Intelligence committee members who did not foresee the 9-11 attacks, Finance committee members who did not foresee the coming of the “Great Recession”, Interior Department committee members that did not properly oversee the BP oil rig inspection process, etc.)

- You are not living in a free country when any level of government can seize your property for a supposedly fair price and turn it over to developers for a private sector development project.

- You are not living in a free country when perceived and actual voter fraud makes you question whether your vote actually counted and whether the political winners actually won the vote.

So let’s review. Politicians control our pocketbooks, our health care, our retirement funding, and who we vote for; invade our privacy; read our electronic communications; violate our property rights; and control our ability to get a mortgage or student loan while calling us names if we dare to disagree with them. Hardly sounds like the traditional definition of a Republic.

The beauty of this system that the political class has worked out for themselves is that they are able to keep us fighting among ourselves. This diverts our attention to the fact that our freedom and liberty have slowly been stripped away. We have reached a point in this country where a great portion of our lives is no longer controlled by our brains, our energy, and our initiative, but by about 600 people sitting in Congress and the executive branch of the Federal government.

We vehemently and fruitlessly fight among ourselves over relatively trivial issues while the political class strips us of our wealth and our liberty without ever solving a major issue:

  • We are no closer to a rational drug policy in this country since Nixon declared war On drugs in the 1960s, with this void allowing a narco-state to develop just south of our border with Mexico.
  • We are no closer to a rational and coherent national energy policy, despite the oil crises from the 1970s.
  • We are no closer to having world class public schools, despite the warning of failing public schools from early in the Reagan administration and the expenditure of trillions of dollars since then.
  • We are no closer to having a coherent and effective immigration plan and strategy.
  • We are no closer to having an effective strategy for containing escalating health care costs.
  • We are no closer to having a sane, balanced budget process for the Federal government with the political class spending trillions of dollars more than they bring in in revenue.

We no longer live in a free country, and we have allowed the politicians to do it to us. That is why it is so important to begin the cleansing process and the restoration of freedom with the implementation of the following steps:

  1. Step 1 – reduce Federal spending by 10% a year for five years in order to tame our out-of-control political class spending.
  2. Step 2 – implement specific and fair processes to eliminate the current gerrymandering process for Congressional districts.
  3. Step 3 – eliminate the “Super Delegate” process.
  4. Step 4 – strengthen eminent domain laws to prevent the arbitrary confiscation of private property.
  5. Steps 5 – Make the following changes to the Patriot Act to protect the privacy of citizens: review every section of the Act to see if each part is still really needed for national security, make it illegal to intercept any form of communications of a citizen without a judge-approved warrant, notify any citizen if they have been investigated and cleared by any government agency investigation, and finally appoint the members to the oversight committee of the Act, a committee that has never been staffed.
  6. Step 6 – repeal Obama Care, an atrocity that imposes thousands of rules and dozens of taxes on the nation without solving the root causes of our escalating health care costs.
  7. Step 7 – implement a citizen approval process that would remove politicians from Congressional committees for gross dereliction of duty.
  8. Step 8 – eliminate the Congressional process that automatically grants an annual pay increase to Congressional members, replacing it with a citizen satisfaction-based pay system.
  9. Step 9 – implement term limits for all Federal politicians in order to get some fresh thinking and problem solvers involved with the myriad issues facing America, “one and done.”
  10. Step 10 – Disband the czar process and restore the Constitutionally mandated checks and balances of our government processes.

Time is running out to fix what the political class has destroyed in this country from a liberty-based, privacy-based, freedom-based, economic, and Constitutional perspective. We have allowed this situation to arise, and we are the ones who need to fix it. Otherwise, some morning, we will wake up and realize that fifty years ago, Nikita Khrushchev got it right when he said:

You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright; but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you; we will so weaken your economy until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.

Photo Credit: marsmet 541 (Creative Commons)

The Transparent Failure Of Obama’s Transparency Promise

Obama Transparency Blinds Peeker SC The Transparent Failure of Obamas Transparency Promise

One of President Obama’s greatest assets is that he makes grandiose, bold commitments of what his administration is going to do for the American people and the nation. When he came into office, he promised to “usher in a new era of open government” and “act promptly” to make information public.

One of President Obama’s greatest liabilities is that he rarely, if ever, fulfills those promises. Consider his track record:

•One of the first acts he was going to do when elected in 2008 was to shut down the prison facility at Guantanamo since it is a symbol of U.S. repression. As of today, nearly four years later, the prison is still open with no sign it will be shut down any time soon.
•He promised that unlike George Bush, he would not go around Congress and appoint any high ranking government bureaucrat without Congressional approval and hearings (a promise that he has broken numerous times.)
•He promised that his economic stimulus program would get unemployment well below 6% and prevent it from ever going over 8%. Unfortunately, his administration oversaw an all-time record for consecutive months having an unemployment rate over 8%.
•He promised that he would slash the annual Federal government spending deficit in half by the end of his first term but ended up setting sky-high record deficits every year of his first term, incurring a total national debt of over $5 TRILLION in just four short years.
•He promised that he would never raise taxes in a weak economy on any American, something he cannot wait to do now.
•He promised that he would quickly disengage U.S. forces in Iraq and ended up taking three years to do it using the existing Bush exit plan.
•He promised to slash earmarks, thinly-disguised misuses of taxpayer wealth by incumbent politicians to finance their reelection campaigns, but was unable or unwilling to do so.
•At his swearing-in ceremony, he swore to uphold the Constitution and laws of the land and then ignored both during his first four years in office by engaging our military in the Libyan civil war without Congressional approval, ignoring court orders by a Federal judge relative to the Gulf oil drilling moratorium, unilaterally declining to enforce the tenets of the DOMA law (a law that should have never been passed but was the law of the land, requiring the administration to enforce it), and sanctioning the first official government assassination of an American citizen without due process of law.

We could go on with other broken promises, but you get the idea. Great at promising, pitiful in delivering on those promises. But probably his biggest lie/disappointment has been the promise to operate the most transparent Presidential administration ever. No secrets, open government, high transparency. Not surprisingly, this is also a failed promise, a very large failure across all Federal entities:

For example, Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, is involved in the latest Obama administration embarrassment over transparency when it came to light that she has been conducting EPA business using two email accounts. One account is a publicly known and used, official email account.

Another email account that she has been reportedly using for private EPA business is listed under “Richard Windsor”, a moniker that very few people knew was actually Ms. Jackson. Richard Windsor is a family dog from Ms. Jackson’s childhood. Obviously, at least on the surface, this appears to be a way for a top Obama administration official to bypass those nasty laws on transparency, Freedom Of Information requests, and Congress.

According to a recent article on the same topic from the Washington Times on November 17, 2012, government open-records laws are supposed to make information available to the public now and for posterity at the National Archives, the government agency that gathers official correspondence. There are strict rules on the use of email addresses, and the rules prohibit using private emails to try to bypass open-records laws.

The EPA claims that nothing was amiss here, just an EPA official doing business like many of her predecessors who also may have had alternative, secretive emails. Obviously, there are two problems with this excuse. First, just because previous people had secret email accounts does not make it right, legal, or transparent, as promised by Obama.

And second, experts in this area of governance are not buying this somewhat lame excuse, quoting from a recent article from Politico:

•“I don’t know any other agency that does this,” said Anne Weismann, chief counsel of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which asked EPA’s inspector general on Tuesday to investigate the matter. Even if Jackson needs a separate email account, Weismann asked “why would you pick a fictitious name of someone of different gender? To me it smacks of … trying to hide.”
•Another expert, Bradley Blakeman (a former senior Bush aide) stated in a broadcast interview that the EPA arrangement “smells.”
•“What good reason, if we use common sense, would there be for a high government official to have a fictitious email account?” he asked.

Good question, Mr. Blakeman. Congress is investigating, as are some government inspector generals, to see if this was actually an attempt to undermine and undercut government transparency rules, regulations, and promises.

But the intrigue of hidden emails to possibly avoid transparency does not stop at the EPA. The Washington Times article cited above reported on similar hanky-panky at the Department of Energy. According to the article, a Congressional committee, the Science committee, investigating this hidden email scandal found that Jonathan Silver, the Energy Department’s loan officer, “explicitly directed others to keep loan guarantee communications secret by not linking public and private email accounts, and sent emails detailing official government business using his private email account.”

One instance of using hidden emails to conduct secret business might be an accident. However, two departments using hidden emails to conduct secret business is a trend. If we find another department doing the same shenanigans, we have a scandal and a confirmed broken promise of the Obama administration.

A November 21, 2012 article on the InfoWars website cited a Washington Post story which reported that the Obama administration had secretly signed off on a secret cybersecurity Presidential directive that would allow intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) to secretly operate on the networks of private companies such as Google and Facebook.

This directive would greatly expand the NSA’s authority and ability to spy on citizens and companies. In response to this obvious direct hit on freedom and privacy, lawyers from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding that the Obama administration release the text of the directive for review.

Unfortunately, for liberty and transparency, the NSA denied the FOIA request. The NSA contends that it does not have to release the directive since it is a confidential Presidential communication and it is classified. So much for transparency.

The EPIC plans to continue the legal battle for transparency on this issue, which we wish them luck on. However, this is not the first time that the EPIC and this not-so-transparent administration have clashed over the release of government information:

•In testimony to Congress earlier this year, EPIC explained that the NSA has been a “black hole for public information about cybersecurity.”
•EPIC is also currently involved in an ongoing lawsuit involving the nature of the NSA’s secretive relationship with Google.
•Another EPIC lawsuit, this one dating back to 2008, is also being pursued relative to the NSA’s cybersecurity authority.

Again, so much for transparency, a concept that is critically important when it comes to freedom and the authority of government to spy on its own citizens without debate, without judicial overview, and without consent.

If you are like most Americans, you are probably not aware of what the government calls “fusion centers”. These “centers” are regional government centers that collect information on American citizens. Quite simply, they are domestic spying operations as defined by Wikipedia: “A fusion center is an information sharing center, many of which were created under a joint project between the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice‘s Office of Justice Programs between 2003 and 2007.”

They are designed to promote information-sharing at the Federal level between agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice, the US Military, and state and local governments. As of July 2009, the Department of Homeland Security recognized at least seventy-two fusion centers.

In other words, fusion centers are domestic spying and analysis centers located around the country. Now, I understand there are reasons for secrecy and security when it comes to protecting citizens. However, the Department of Homeland Security has more or less unilaterally decided that fusion centers will be exempt from Freedom Of Information requests and other inquiries.

Thus, most if not all Americans will never know if they are under investigation or if their names and personal information have somehow been identified and stored by one of these fusion centers, making them a perennial suspect in the government’s eyes. The concept of freedom of information was to ensure that these types of domestic spying activities were open to the air and sunshine of disclosure and discussion in our republic.

To unilaterally decide not to share the processes and information that the government is collecting on innocent Americans (remember the quaint concept of “innocent until proven guilty”) is not consistent with the concept of liberty. It is certainly not consistent with the concept of government transparency.

But apparently, this lack of transparency in the Obama administration is not related to just national security and spying. Bloomberg ran an article in late September regarding the utter failure of the Obama administration to fulfill a simple FOIA request:

•Nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law requiring the simple disclosure of public information unrelated to national security.
•The request was the travel cost of top government officials.
•Bloomberg found that just 8 of the 57 Federal agencies met Bloomberg’s request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act.
•Nineteen of the twenty Cabinet-level requests were not fulfilled in time to be in compliance with Federal disclosure laws.
•In an ironic twist of government incompetence and secrecy, the Department of Justice, which is charged with monitoring how well Federal entities react to FOIA requests, also failed to release the travel details of top officials at three of its affiliated agencies (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation) in accordance with the legal requirements and law.
•Some agencies tried to minimize FOIA compliance by illegally trying to charging requesters of information thousands of dollars for the information.
•According to the article, the Obama administration claimed almost half a million exemptions to the FOIA laws and guidelines in 2009, about 50% more exemptions claimed than in the final year of the Bush administration.

According to experts on government disclosure compliance:

•“When it comes to implementation of Obama’s wonderful transparency policy goals, especially FOIA policy in particular, there has been far more ‘talk the talk’ rather than ‘walk the walk,’” said Daniel Metcalfe, director of the Department of Justice’s office monitoring the government’s compliance with FOIA requests from 1981 to 2007.
•“I don’t think the administration has been very good at all on open-government issues,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington attorney who has been filing open records requests since the late 1970s. “The Obama administration is as bad as any of them, and to some extent worse.”
•“In a 24/7 world, it should take two days, it should take two hours. If it’s public, it should be just there,” according to Eric Newton, senior adviser at the Knight Foundation (a Miami-based group that promotes citizen engagement). He said that agencies have no excuse not to rapidly disclose travel costs.

So it is not just national security that the Obama administration officials think should be shielded form the daylight of disclosure. Hardly the behavior you could have expected form a Presidential administration that claimed it would be the most transparent ever. Given these examples, it is clear that this group of politicians and bureaucrats from Obama on down will never receive an award for their transparency.

But wait…the Obama administration did get recognized for its transparency back in March of 2011.

But we do not know anything about the transparency award since the ceremony was closed to the press and the public, totally consistent with Obama‘s transparency failures. Another promise broken, to the detriment of freedom and liberty.

Photo credit: terrellaftermath

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