Monthly Archives: June 2009

Sex, Lies and Corruption – Embarrassing tales from the world of politics…… Why do we put up with this?

One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace; good people don’t go into government. – Donald Trump

Why have Americans come to expect so little from their elected leaders? Daily it seems we are bombarded with stories of our elected leaders, at almost every level of government, being involved scandals of every variety. The reaction to the scandals by the media varies depending on the party of the offender and the level of office they hold. Neither party thinks their side gets fair treatment when the scandal is covered. What is most disturbing is that these scandals are becoming more frequent and covering a broader range of transgressions. Sure these men and women are just human and prone to make mistakes just like the rest of us, but more and more it seems that they feel above the rules and the laws that the average citizens is held accountable to. Here are a few examples: 

Monica Conyers (D), the chairwoman of the Detroit City Council (Corruption)

(Politico 6/26) Monica Conyers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a city sludge-hauling scandal. As a member of the Detroit City Council in 2007, Conyers cast the deciding vote in favor of awarding a $1.2 billion contract to Synagro Technologies Inc. 

Monica Conyers initially opposed the Synagro contract with the city but later reversed her position and cast the critical vote approving it. Her reversal caused uproar inside the city council, and federal investigators soon began looking into allegations of payoffs surrounding her vote. 

According to Monica Conyers’s plea agreement with the Justice Department, “During the summer and winter of 2007, both before and after her vote, defendant received cash payments … from an individual sent by Rayford Jackson, a paid consultant for Synagro.” 

Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery 10 days ago, leading to heavy speculation in Detroit political circles that Monica Conyers would soon accept a plea deal of her own. 

Jackson’s payments to Monica Conyers totaled at least $6,000, according to news reports. Monica Conyers’s attorney said Friday that she would be sentenced to between 30 and 37 months in federal prison.

Monica Conyers, 44, was elected to the city council in January 2005, and in September 2008, she was named the council’s interim president. 

Her tenure has been marred by controversy and complaints about her personal behavior. Last year, in a dispute during official council proceedings, Conyers called then-council President Ken Cockrel “Shrek.”

Earlier this year, Councilman Kwame Kenyatta accused Conyers of making fun of his poor hearing and lack of a college degree in a confrontation outside his office. Kenyatta also said Conyers had started rumors about him having cancer. 

Monica Conyers also came under fire after the city’s pension board said she owed the city $5,600 in unpaid travel advances from last year. 

With her guilty plea today, Monica Conyers joins former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the ranks of now disgraced Motor City politicians. 

What makes this story even more interesting is that her husband the is 80 year old, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), who’s the lead House official conducting oversight of the Justice Department and the FBI which helped conduct the investigation. Rep. Conyers, did not attend his wife’s court session and declined to say anything to Capitol Hill reporters about his wife’s guilty plea.

For more:

Other Detroit politicians…..

With her guilty plea today, Monica Conyers joins former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the ranks of now disgraced Motor City politicians. Following a long, winding investigation that convulsed city politics, Kilpatrick, son of Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice charges, resigned from office and served more than three months in jail. The House ethics committee announced on Wednesday that Carolyn Kilpatrick would be among the five lawmakers that it would investigate as part of its probe into who paid for Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008 that the lawmakers took. He was not implicated in any way in the case.

Read the full story at:,8599,1725259,00.html 

Sen. Barney Frank (D) MA, (Sex and Bad Judgment) – Yes, the same Barney Frank!

(Time) Widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and well spoken members of the House of Representatives, Barney Frank, a Democratic U.S. congressman for nearly 30 years and the first openly gay member of the House, almost undid his career in 1989 after an affair with Steve Gobie, a male prostitute. Although Frank was single at the time — thus not committing adultery — he did pay someone for sex (with personal funds), which is illegal in his state of Massachusetts. But the poor judgment didn’t end there. Frank hired Gobie to run errands and allowed him to live at his home, where Frank obviously hoped he would be rehabilitated and renounce his life of sin. The only problem: Gobie kept on working as a prostitute — from Frank’s home.

The Representative maintained that he had no knowledge that his digs were being used as a brothel and said that he kicked Gobie out once he learned what the escort had been doing there. Desperate to prove his limited culpability in the case, Frank requested an investigation by the House ethics committee. The 10-month probe found that Frank did not, in fact, know about the happenings in his home but that he should be reprimanded for use of House privilege in waiving 33 of Gobie’s parking tickets and for writing a memo that attempted to end Gobie’s probation for a prior infraction. 

Read more:,28804,1721111_1721210_1883878,00.html 

Sen. John Ensign (R) NV, (Affair)

(Time 6/18) The news blindsided official Washington: Senator John Ensign (R) NV, a well-known social conservative and family-values advocate, admitted on June 16 to an eight-month extramarital affair with a married campaign aide. The Nevada Republican’s sober confession, read before a pack of reporters in Las Vegas, doubtlessly dashed the hopes of many in the party who considered Ensign an emerging national leader. The 51-year-old even fanned the flames of presidential speculation earlier this month with a trip to the key presidential-primary state of Iowa. Beyond embarrassing the second-term Senator, the revelation opened him to charges of hypocrisy: he had previously called on both President Bill Clinton and former Idaho Senator Larry Craig to resign after their own sex scandals.

“Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything in my life that I could take back, this would be it,” Ensign said.

“Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation … With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger.”
— Darlene Ensign, in a statement (June 16, 2009)

For more:,8599,1905351,00.html 

Gov. Mark Sanford (R) SC, (Affair)

(Time) The Sanford saga began with a disappearing act. The South Carolina governor apparently left home in a black SUV on June 18 and stopped picking up his cell phone or responding to text messages and emails. He was AWOL for the better part of a week. The explanations piled up: the rising GOP star was “writing something,” said his wife; he was recharging after losing a fight to refuse stimulus money, said his spokesman; he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, said his staff. When a reporter cornered Sanford in the Atlanta airport June 24, however, the governor revealed that he’d been in Buenos Aires. With South Carolina’s capital buzzing with talk of impeachment, Sanford, 49, held a press conference to explain himself: he’d gone to visit an Argentinean woman with whom he’d been having an affair. Apologizing to his wife and four sons and choking up repeatedly, Sanford said he’d spent “the last five days of my life crying in Argentina,” and had now ended the year-long dalliance. Sanford, a rumored 2012 presidential hopeful, said he will resign as head of the Republican Governors Association. 

Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D) NY, (Sex and Call Girls) 

(Time) It all began as an IRS investigation. When the New York Governor attempted to transfer upwards of $10,000 to a mysterious business known as the Emperor’s Club, employees at North Fork Bank got suspicious. Their tip led federal authorities to one of the most shocking sex scandals in recent memory, and to one of the most unexpected “Johns” in political history — Client #9 a.k.a. the “Luv Guv” Eliot Spitzer. Yes, the same man who made a name for himself prosecuting prostitution rings as New York’s hard-charging Attorney General. When the New York Times broke the story about Spitzer’s hotel rendezvous with a $1,000-an-hour call girl named Ashley Alexandra Dupré on Mar. 10, 2008, he resigned two days later. When asked in December about his new job as a columnist for Slate magazine, Spitzer deadpanned: “It sucks. I used to be Governor.”,28804,1721111_1721210_1883851,00.html

Sen. John Edwards (D) NC, (Affair)

(Time) After months of denying the allegations, the onetime Vice Presidential candidate confessed on Aug. 8, 2008 to having had an affair with a 42-year-old aspiring actress turned political documentarian named Rielle Hunter, whom Edwards’ staff had hired to make videos for his campaign. In a plot twist fit for a Jerry Springer episode, Edwards, whose wife Elizabeth had been diagnosed in Nov. 2004 with incurable breast cancer, vehemently denied fathering Hunter’s child, as had been alleged in the Enquirer report, and offered to take a paternity test.

In an interview with ABC News Nightline, Edwards chalked up the affair to a “self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism” inevitably spawned by his becoming a leading national political figure (and perhaps by his receiving a nod as People Magazine’s “Sexiest Politician” in 2000). In May, Elizabeth appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss her memoir Resilience. In the book she does not once mention the name of her husband’s mistress, instead referring to her as “that woman” or “the female videographer.” The same week Hunter — after initially saying no — agreed to allow a DNA test to prove whether John fathered her daughter. No test has yet been conducted. 

Read more:,28804,1721111_1721210_1883910,00.html 

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) IL, (Corruption)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Sweeping aside six years of scandal and crippling political infighting with a historic impeachment vote, the state Senate on Thursday ousted one governor for abusing his power and anointed another who built his political career around having no power at all.

The Senate’s unanimous, back-to-back votes to convict Blagojevich on a sweeping article of impeachment and disqualify him from future public office in Illinois represented a swift repudiation following his Dec. 9 arrest at his North Side home on federal corruption charges that included plotting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Blagojevich immediately proclaimed his innocence.

Senators voted 59-0 to remove Rod Blagojevich, who walked out of the silent chamber after delivering an impassioned plea for mercy. Within hours they applauded his former running mate and lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, who was sworn in as the state’s 41st governor vowing a new course for Illinois.

“The ordeal is over,” said Quinn, long viewed as an unwelcome outsider by the state’s political establishment. “In this moment, our hearts are hurt. And it’s very important to know that we have a duty, a mission to restore the faith of the people of Illinois in the integrity of their government.”

He replaced a defiant Blagojevich, 52, the first Democratic governor in a quarter century and the first governor in Illinois history to be impeached. After racing back to his Chicago home before the vote could deprive him of a ride home on the state plane, Blagojevich once again said he was the victim of a rush to judgment.

For more:,0,5791846.story

Rep. William Jefferson (D) LA, (Corruption)

(CBS/AP)  Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was indicted Monday on federal charges of racketeering, money-laundering and soliciting more than $400,000 in bribes in connection with years of trying to broker business deals in Africa.

The indictment in federal court in Alexandria, Va., lists 16 alleged violations of federal law with prison terms totaling as much as 235 years. Jefferson is charged with racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

He is the first sitting congressman to face charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corporate bribery overseas.

The indictment claims Jefferson bribed Nigerian officials to pave the way for U.S. businesses — deals in telecommunications, oil fields, sugar, fertilizer and waste recycling plants, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. In return, he demanded monthly payments, profit shares and stock for his family-owned businesses.

The scheme was complicated, and Jefferson set up a front company to hide the money, prosecutors said.For more:

This list could go on forever – Sen. Chris Dodd (D) CT, (Country Wide mortgage deal, AIG Bonuses), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) CA, (Military jets, CIA lies about torture), Rep. John Murtha (D) PA, (Earmark king), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) NY, (Taxes, Ethics), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (Taxes), President Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones), President Richard Nixon (Watergate), Sen. Gary Hart (D), CO (Donna Rice) to name a few.

Then there is Illinois – Its’ incredible corruption was documented in Sept. 7, 2006 by the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported that at least 79 current or former Illinois, Chicago or Cook County elected officials had been found guilty of a crime by judges, juries or their own pleas since 1972. The paper provided this tally of the tarnished: three governors, two other state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three other city officials, 27 aldermen, 19 Cook County judges and seven other Cook County officials. Soon there will be four governors.

Many of the named above are career politicians. Politics is their job and they will promise anything to stay employed. They are the argument for term limits but that’s another blog.

If you wonder why our economy, our country and our way of life has become such a mess, look no further than some of the idiots we keep electing. I am not saying that they all are idiots or incompetent but the good guys are becoming a rare breed. However, at the end of the day, WE own this. It is our responsibility to vet the candidates. Let’s start electing real people with character, ethics, morals and flaws, which were forged in the real world under fire.

We need:

  • principled men and women who are willing to represent the values of their constituents and do what’s best for their country, their state or community
  • true leaders that will not mortgage our future for short term victories or sell their values to the highest bidder in exchange for support on an item they want
  • leaders who have common sense, love their country and believe in the American dream

As voters, our responsibilities are the same as the candidate’s. We have to be leaders in our communities, educating ourselves as well as fellow voters through debate and discussion. We need to invest enough time in the election process to understand the issues and know who we are voting for.

The time to “throw the bums out” is long over due if we are going to save our country we have to act now. The country can not and will not survive if we do not find and vote for leaders who will follow the Constitution. We need leaders that will put our country first – not their political ambitions or personal fortunes.

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands clean as they are empty.” – Thomas Jefferson

Quick Hits – More creative thinking from the left…….


The Administration sets up its’ U.A.W. Outreach Office

If I studied all my life, I couldn’t think up half the number of funny things passed in one session of congress. – Will Rogers

If you make any money, the government shoves you in the creek once a year with it in your pockets, and all that don’t get wet you can keep. –Will Rogers

(AP Perrysburg, OH)— President Barack Obama is creating a White House council to handle issues that affect American communities and workers tied to the automotive industry.

“Today’s announcement reiterates the president and vice president’s deep commitment to standing with our auto communities and workers during these very tough economic times. The White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers will ensure that the federal government is responding quickly and accelerating recovery efforts to those communities hardest hit,” said Dr. Montgomery. “It builds on the foundation we have laid over the past months to speed up and increase recovery to the region and ensure workers see a coordinated response from their government.”

The recession has been particularly hard on the auto industry, which has lost more than 400,000 jobs in the last decade. Northwestern Ohio has been hit hard by the job losses, and now is banking on more “green” factory jobs.

I am as empathetic as the next guy and I feel bad that so many auto workers are unemployed. But what about all the other industries with unemployment reaching six figures (Examples; Construction & Printing), who is looking out for them? I guess it is harder to pin down the vote of this worker demographic. Seems like the administration is good at creating government jobs between the new departments they keep setting up and all those Czars, they must have created a few thousand jobs by now. The problem is it requires more taxes to pay all these government salaries and it adds nothing to the GDP.

California cities monkey around as the state goes bankrupt…..

(L.A. Daily News) After hiring a feng shui expert and spending more than $7.4 million on a special exhibit, Los Angeles will not be getting three rare golden monkeys from China promised in a 2002 trip led by former Mayor James Hahn, officials said Wednesday.

“It was a decision by the Chinese government and we’re disappointed,” said Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the Greater Los Angeles Zoo. “But, it is not a waste. We have a beautiful facility and we will put other animals on display there.” The special exhibit was designed to create the sense of a rural Chinese village.

The agreement to bring in the golden monkeys, identifiable by their blue faces and long flowing blond hair, was developed by Hahn during his trip to China.

He went to China hoping to win a panda exhibit for the zoo, but came back with what was seen as a consolation prize – a commitment by China to loan the city three golden monkeys for 10 years.

Now even the consolation has been withdrawn.

Low‐Income Student Food Program Funds Used for Employee Bonuses – California ($3 million)  

The  San  Diego  school  district  misused  $3  million  in  federal  funds  intended  for  nutrition  programs  to  assist  low‐income  students  by  spending  it  on  bonuses  for  employees  leaving  the  district,  according  to  the  Voice  of  San  Diego.   The funds  were  given  to  the  school  district  by  the  Department  of  Education,  which  had  not  yet  decided  whether  the  school  district  would  be  required  to  pay  back  the  misused  funds. (Source: 2008 Worst Waste of the Year, Sen. Tom Coburn, (R) OK)

So California is going broke, they are considering selling off state monuments but in the tradition of liberal spending, they built three foreign monkeys, coming to LA for a ten year visit, a $7.4 million dollar home with all inclusive service. Meanwhile, in San Diego they are stealing lunch money from low income school kids to provide bonus money to employees leaving (?) the district.  This proves it is better to be an animal or a former school district employee than a homeless person or a low income student in CA – you’ll be treated better. If the administration bails out CA, taxpayers in the rest of the country should refuse to pay their taxes. We can not be expected to continue to bailout fiscally irresponsible states, companies or individuals. It is unfair to those that are responsible.

“We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be  unfair – to drunken sailors. It would be unfair, because the sailors are  spending their own money.” – Ronald Reagan on Congress  

Barbara Boxer is an egomaniac

Sen. Barbara Boxer* (D-Calif.) didn’t like a Brigadier General calling her “ma’am” at an EPW hearing yesterday.

“Do me a favor,” she said, “could you say ‘senator’ instead of ‘ma’am?’ It’s just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it, yes, thank you.”

Imagine the nerve of this woman — this ‘servant’ of the people — interrupting a Brigadier General to make sure that he stops referring to her as ma’am and starts calling her by the title she ‘worked so hard for’…

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina was also disturbed by the nomenclature request, calling the Senator a “loose cannon” and an embarrassment to her party.

Unfortunately, this is what passes for Congressional leaders these days. Polite is not good enough, she is a senator – he is only a mere Brigadier General. I’ll say no more…

“Whenever a man (or woman*) has cast a longing eye on [offices,] a rottenness begins in his (her) conduct.” –Thomas Jefferson

Now for some hope, presenting … Intelligent Lawmaker of the Week …

Utah Rep. Chaffetz suggests mail carriers conduct Census

Double duty » Proposal would turn postal workers into counters 

Thomas Burr, Salt Lake Tribune Updated: 06/24/2009 03:23:22 PM MDT

Washington » Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, wants your mail carrier to count you.

Chaffetz said Wednesday he will introduce legislation to marry the U.S. Postal Service temporarily with the Census Bureau so that the postal workers can help with the once-a-decade count of how many people live in America.

“They really have the workforce in place to do this,” Chaffetz said. “They already go to everybody’s door.”

Chaffetz proposes taking a “postal holiday,” so that mail carriers, instead of dropping bills and magazines to your mailbox, would count the number of people in each household. The Postal Service matches up well with the Census needs, Chaffetz argues.

There are 760,000 postal employees, and the Census is anticipating it will need 750,000 temporary workers to conduct the Census next year. Congress is forking out $11 billion to do the count while the Postal Service is looking at a $1 billion revenue shortfall this year.

The Postal Service had no comment on the bill because the legislation had yet to be formally introduced Wednesday and Census officials did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.  

Chaffetz says he’s introducing the bill to avoid having the Census hire groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which has been under investigation in several states for voter fraud during the 2008 election.

“The ultimate underlying thing here about the Census is trust,” Chaffetz says. “And people trust postal employees a lot more than somebody just off the street.”

 Meanwhile, Rep. Rob Bishop introduced legislation Wednesday that would force the Census Bureau to count Americans living abroad.

The move is a response to Utah missing out on a fourth congressional seat after the 2000 Census because the bureau did not count thousands of Mormon missionaries serving overseas.

“The Census Bureau could fix this problem right now and count Americans abroad, but they refuse to and are sitting on their hands until Congress makes them do this,” Bishop said. “It seems there is no other solution other than mandating that the Census Bureau change their policy immediately.”

Bishop’s bill follows on the heels of language that Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, tacked onto a funding bill that requires the State Department to study the best way to count Americans abroad.

The amendment is in reaction to the 2000 census when Utah came about 800 people shy of gaining a fourth U.S. House seat. But the census didn’t count Mormon missionaries in foreign countries, a bone of contention with Utah officials who unsuccessfully sued.

Matheson called it “unfair” that LDS missionaries abroad are not counted in the Census.

This is a great idea. Let’s utilize a workforce that is in place, that we trust and needs more to do right now. The government is going to underwrite the massive losses being incurred by the USPS anyway so why not redirect the funding from the census and kill two birds with one stone?

Of course, this is a logical, common sense solution so the question is will Pelosi and Reid allow it to get to the floor for a vote since it wasn’t their idea? Also there is that other minor issue of cutting ACORN out of the deal…..Hmmm, I wonder how that will fly at the White House?

“I love to see honest and honorable men at the helm, men who will not bend their politics to their purses nor pursue measures by which they may profit and then profit by their measures.” –Thomas Jefferson

Obama slam dunks Inspector General in KJ scandal…. Is the White House engaging in Chicago-style politics?

Last week, a top White House lawyer called the firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin “an act of political courage.” But is it really an act of “political cowardice?” 

(AP, Washington, 6/12/09) An inspector general fired by President Barack Obama said Friday he acted “with the highest integrity” in investigating AmeriCorps and other government-funded national service programs. Gerald Walpin said in an interview with The Associated Press that he reported facts and conclusions “in an honest and full way” while serving as inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Obama’s move follows an investigation by Walpin finding misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star. Johnson and a nonprofit education academy he founded ultimately agreed to repay half of $847,000 in grants it had received from AmeriCorps.

The inspector general found that Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Johnson and even wash his car.

In settling the case, the government agreed to lift its suspension of any future grants to the academy and Johnson agreed to immediately repay $73,000 in past grants. The academy was given 10 years to repay the remaining $350,000.

Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled the investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy. Walpin defended his work on Friday. “I know that I and my office acted with the highest integrity as an independent inspector general should act,” he said.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote President Obama a letter pointing to a law requiring that Congress be given the reasons an inspector general is fired. He cited a Senate report saying the requirement is designed to ensure that inspectors general are not removed for political reasons.

Grassley said Walpin had identified millions of dollars in AmeriCorps funds that were wasted or misspent and “it appears he has been doing a good job.”

Norman Eisen, the White House Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, said “Mr. Walpin was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the board to question his capacity to serve.” After the meeting, Eisen wrote, Walpin lost the confidence of the Corporation Board.  The White House conducted a review of the matter, and Walpin was fired. 

“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Obama said in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Joe Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general”.

The Inspector General Reform Act enacted last year dictates that the president must notify Congress of his intention to dismiss an IG 30 days before the termination takes effect.

The fired IG Walpin, a New York attorney, was appointed by then-President George W. Bush and sworn into office in January 2007 after being confirmed by the Senate, according to a news release on AmeriCorps’ Web site. Walpin graduated from College of the City of New York in 1952 and received a law degree in 1955 from Yale Law School. He was a partner with the New York City law firm Katten Muchin and Rosenman LLP for more than 40 years. He is 77 years old.

(Source: The above is a compilation of two stories by Bryan York and Pete Yost)    Links to both stories below:

So what is AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service*?

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, which established the Corporation for National and Community Service and brought the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one central organization.

This legislation built on the first National Service Act signed by President H.W. Bush in 1990. It also formally launched AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

The newly created AmeriCorps incorporated two existing national service programs: the longstanding VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program, created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).

AmeriCorps is made up of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).

AmeriCorps State and National*:

 AmeriCorps State and National supports a broad range of local service programs that engage thousands of Americans in intensive service to meet critical community needs.

AmeriCorps VISTA*: AmeriCorps VISTA provides full-time members to community organizations and public agencies to create and expand programs that build capacity and ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.

AmeriCorps NCCC*: The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is a full-time residential program for men and women, ages 18-24, that strengthens communities while developing leaders through direct, team-based national and community service.

Corporation for National and Community Service*

AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. In addition to AmeriCorps, the Corporation also administers Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America. Together these programs engage more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year.

The Office of the Inspector General*

Created by the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, the Corporation for National and Community Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts and supervises independent and objective audits and investigations of Corporation programs and operations. Based on the results of these audits, reviews, and investigations, the OIG recommends policies to promote economy and efficiency and prevent and detect fraud and abuse in the Corporation’s programs and operations.

(Source*:  The above descriptions of AmeriCorp and the NCS are from For more on AmeriCorps:

Unfortunately, while the organization’s mission as described by the website sounds noble, one can’t help but feel this is another poorly thought out government program ripe with opportunity for fraud and abuse. After reading about AmeriCorps on line I cynically wondered about possible connections to ACORN.

The first search I ran led to this:

ACORN took advantage of the federal agency a decade ago. As I wrote previously, ACORN, which is now notorious for its commingling of funds within its network of affiliates, used government resources to promote legislation.

A congressional report noted that there was “apparent cross-over funding between ACORN, a political advocacy group and ACORN Housing Corp. (AHC), a non profit, AmeriCorp [sic] grantee” that is a major affiliate of ACORN.

The government-funded AmeriCorps, which promotes public service, suspended AHC’s funding “after it was learned that AHC and ACORN shared office space and equipment and failed to assure that activities and funds were wholly separate.”

The report noted that, “AmeriCorps members of AHC raised funds for ACORN, performed voter registration activities, and gave partisan speeches. In one instance, an AmeriCorps member was directed by ACORN staff to assist the [Clinton] White House in preparing a press conference in support of legislation.” (“Report on the Activities of the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities during the 104th Congress,” Report 104-875, January 2, 1997)

Aware of this kind of abuse, earlier this year Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) tried to block ACORN from using AmeriCorps funding to promote its own political objectives, but ACORN allies, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), helped to defeat Vitter’s legislation. (Source: American Spectator, Matthew Vadum on 6.17.09) To read the complete article, go to:

The reason offered for the termination also is interesting to say the least. The suggestion that Mr. Walpin, a 77 year old, “was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the board to question his capacity to serve” based on a single meeting would never pass the litmus test for termination in the private sector. However, suggesting without substantial proof, that an older employee was possibly a little senile would almost guarantee a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Again, I am left with the feeling that this firing was politically motivated. It looks more like payback for holding a political ally of the administration accountable for unscrupulous behavior than a warranted dismissal. The fact that the administration did not follow the required protocol of notifying Congress 30 days in advance of their intentions and failed to provide a reason at the time the firing was announced, alone are enough to make the firing suspect. When you add to that, the triggering event appears tied to the investigation of a political supporter it becomes difficult to dismiss without questions. Also remember that the rules of dismissal for an IG are in place to prevent politically motivated retaliation.

Even more concerning is what else was Walpin working on? Considering all the threats to investigate ACORN and the relationship between ACORN and AmeriCorps were they next? Yes, this is just speculation on my part but the swift and decisive action by the administration raises questions. If the administration is offended by the questions there is a simple solution – follow the rules!

Ironically, neither the mainstream media nor the Congress (who’s job it is) seems interested in the case or investigating the “facts”. The Bush administration caught a lot more heat when they changed out U.S. Attorneys even though these positions are political appointments that serve at the pleasure of the administration, unlike the IG position which is supposed to be a non partisan watch dog. Also let’s not forget that Mr. Johnson agreed to return $425,000. Would he have willingly done that if there had been no wrong doing?

So is this the kind of openness and transparency that we can continue to expect from the Obama administration? So far the administration has trampled the Constitution and seems to make up the rules as they go. (Example: retroactive taxes on Wall Street bonuses) This is starting to sound like good, old Chicago style politics, take out the opposition by whatever means necessary to win. This is not the change that anyone was hoping for or can believe in. Is there any integrity left in Washington?

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake”. – Thomas Jefferson

Welcome to The ABC White House Evening News – June 24, 2009

Good Evening, This Charles Gibson and welcome to The ABC White House Evening News…………….. Tonight’s top story – Health care Reform, The President says, “We have to do it and we have to do it NOW”! 

This is not a fantasy, this is going to happen. ABC News is going to provide the Obama administration unprecedented coverage on June 24th to sell their program to nationalize health care. ABC News will devote extensive coverage to the issue. This will include an interview with President Obama and the First Lady on “Good Morning America“, live from the south lawn, followed by a telecast of “World News”, live from the Blue Room. They will finish with a one-hour prime time town-hall health care discussion with President Obama called “Questions for the President: Prescription for America” moderated by Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer. 

The Republican National Committee claims this will be nothing but a “glorified infomercial” to promote the administration’s agenda. When the Republicans asked ABC for time to present their counter proposal they were flatly told no.

“I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC’s astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue,” RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay wrote in a letter to ABC News President David Westin.

The administration continues to successfully pimp out the media to advance its’ own agenda. Even Jon Stewart remarked that the recent NBC, The White House, Behind the Scenes, special had no actual news value. It was just propaganda for the President. The special has even been described as being similar to an episode of MTV’s Cribs, certainly not a flattering comparison.

Rich Noyes, research director at the Media Research Center, said the amount of time being dedicated exclusively to Obama’s platform presents a problem for those claiming fairness. “Will the opponents of President Obama’s health care plan get an equal shot at the debate on the airwaves? This is an awful lot of time that ABC is giving over to one side of the debate,” Noyes said. “This is an issue of such importance, the public really requires a balanced debate.” (source – Fox News) 

The American people deserve to know that they’re not just watching the administration’s spin on their local newscasts — they’re paying for it, too.” Sen. John Kerry (Ironically, even a liberal gets it right once in a while)

What has happened to journalism? Why has the media become the public relations arm of the Democratic Party? What is it going to take to get a fair public debate on any issue with this administration? I’m tired of the President’s arrogant finger wagging and scoldings about how we must do everything right now because there is no time to wait. I am also tired of him telling us what HE will and will not accept. We need to remind the President that he was ELECTED to lead a democracy. The President and his czars need to understand that we are entitled to a debate of the facts and a say in the direction. We will not be dictated to. Despite the President’s continuous assertion to the contrary, health care is not destroying the economy –  government regulations and excessive interventions are. The public needs to wake up and engage! Make your voice heard. This is serious business.

This is potentially the most important policy debate in modern U.S. history. The economic impact of nationalizing health care or even simply expanding government provided health care to cover the uninsured could be a financial disaster. The government has already proven that they can not efficiently manage a health care program. Two of three biggest government liabilities are Medicaid and Medicare, right behind Social Security. When they were started in the mid sixties the Johnson administration promised they would be modest programs. They were to be funded by a small incremental tax. These programs were only supposed to help the elderly and the very poor. Yet today, they are  anchors around the neck of the country.

As citizens we should demand a full debate on this issue and we should hold our legislators accountable for the decision. We do not need an artificial deadline imposed. This should be fully vetted. Since the TARP legislation was shoved down our throats by the Congress and the Bush administration we have had a steady diet of spending and new government intervention. What is worse is that most of this spending and power grabbing is unconstitutional! We need to call a time out and take our time to decide the right solution. What is the objective – to lower the cost of health care so that it is accessible and affordable for more Americans or to create a government run health care system? After all if you were going to make a $1.2 trillion purchase with your own money you would probably want to do some research and investigate all your options before spending your cash. Oh wait, this is your money, your children’s money and your grandchildren’s money!

“We are so cleverly manipulated and influenced by the media and establishments on both the right and left, that the truth has become hopelessly lost in semantics.”- Jules Carlysle 

“It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

“A dictator must fool all the people all the time and there’s only one way to do that, he must also fool himself.” –  William Somerset Maugham

Things that make you go… Hmmmmmm……..


“We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.” — Ronald Reagan

I have finally figured out the strategy being employed by the administration – if we do 50 insane things at once, they won’t be able to stop them all!

Here are a few examples of the strategy in action: 

Cash for Clunkers 

As if we haven’t done enough for the auto companies already there is a bill headed out of committee in the House to “jump start new car sales”.

This $4 billion program would provide federal vouchers of up to $4,500 for people to trade in their vehicles for new ones that get better mileage. 

How does the program work: The government would send up to $4,500 to the selling dealer on your behalf, if you: 

1. Trade in a car that — this is a key point — has been registered and in use for at least a year, and has a federal combined city/highway fuel-economy rating of 18 or fewer miles per gallon.

2. Buy a new car, priced at $45,000 or less and rated at least 4 mpg better than the old one (gets a $3,500 voucher). If the new one gets at least 10 mpg better, you get the full $4,500. 

Example: Trade that well-worn 1985 Chevrolet Impala V-8 police special, rated 14 mpg, for a 2009 Impala V-8 rated 19 mpg and the government will kick in $3,500. Downsize to Chevy Cobalt (27 mpg) or even a larger Honda Accord (24 mpg) and get $4,500. (source: USA Today) 

The bill also requires destruction of the trade in vehicles to keep them off the road. The money would be pulled from funds allocated to the Dept of Energy in the stimulus bill. Mileage ratings back to 1985 are available @ :

President Obama is urging Congress to create consumer incentives for new car purchases but critics say this is an artificial attempt to boost car sales. 

“It’s defying the laws of economics and saying we can manufacture enough of a demand to keep the auto industry afloat,” said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. 

Seriously, how many more “problems” can the government solve by stepping in and footing the bill. Oh, wait the taxpayers will foot the bill. In the long run, you can’t keep spending money you don’t have unless you raise taxes!  Good thing they didn’t think of this type of program sooner. If they had, instead of those crappy digital converter boxes, everyone without cable could have gotten $500 towards a new flat screen and a voucher for Direct TV. To read more go to: 

Business cell phones and laptops are an “employee benefit” and therefore, that’s right TAXABLE! 

In the 80’s the IRS treated cell phones like company cars requiring users to separate their personal use from business use so they could tax it like income. This was to prevent expensive personal cell phones from being written off as business expenses. (Phones were about$2,000 and air time was $2/minute) 

“The rationale behind this policy perhaps made sense in the 1980s, but it doesn’t reflect how people live their lives and the ubiquitous nature of cell phones,” Sprint Nextel spokesman John Taylor told The Washington Post

Under the proposed rule the IRS is asking companies to charge 25% of cell phone use as personal and treat it as taxable income. They are also looking at extending these rules to texting, email, the internet and use of a company laptop. This makes the rope that ties you to your job 24/7 a benefit! 

The alternative to the flat 25% tax approach would be to pay only for actual usage by creating a log to create a record of actual use. 

“Do we really want employees to, instead of being productive, spend their day logging every e-mail they send, every Web site they browse and every time they use GPS?” asked Howard Woolley, senior vice president of Verizon Wireless. 

For hard working Americans everywhere, this is another slap in the face. For most employees that carry a company phone or laptop it is not a choice – it is a requirement. Where will this end? This is just another clever attempt to raise money through taxes to fund all the programs we can’t afford but are implementing anyway. To read more, go to:—-on-Your-Cell-Phone.html 

Soda you think we should tax pop? 

Speaking of things that we can’t afford to pay for what about healthcare reform – with an estimated price tag of $1.2 trillion, we will need to find some new sources of revenue. 

Fear not, the Senate has an idea. Presenting the “soda” tax. The plan is to place an excise tax on regular soda, certain fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and ready-to-drink teas. Diet drinks would be exempt. The proposed tax at 3 cents per 12 oz. can would raise an estimated $6 billion annually. 

The logic is that these drinks are bad for you and therefore taxing you for their consumption is a good way to help fund healthcare. Supporters of the tax point to research indicating that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks can result in obesity and diabetes. The tax theoretically would save medical costs by lowering consumption which would reduce health problems. 

Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is pushing the idea, said in his testimony. “Soft drinks are nutritionally worthless…[and] are directly related to weight gain, partly because beverages are more conducive to weight gain than solid foods.” (source: CBS News)

So what’s next?  Alcohol is already foregone conclusion. Butw atch out ice cream, cookies, cakes and pies could be next. This might not be as far fetched as it seems. In our new environment of “change” nothing has proven to be off limits. 

This just another example of the new “nanny state” approach to government, you know where the government decides what is best for us in every aspect of our lives. For more details, go to: 

President to propose new government power to seize key businesses 

The Obama administration this week will propose the most significant new regulation of the financial industry since the Great Depression, including a new watchdog agency to look out for consumers’ interests.

Under the plan, expected to be released Wednesday, the government would have new powers to seize key companies — such as insurance giant American International Group Inc. — whose failure jeopardizes the financial system. Currently, the government’s authority to seize companies is mostly limited to banks. (source: L.A.Times) 

The Federal Reserve, already arguably the most powerful agency in the U.S. government, will get sweeping new authority to regulate any company whose failure could endanger the U.S. economy and markets under the Obama administration’s regulatory overhaul plan. (source: The Washington Post) 

Here we go again – sweeping change to SEIZE private businesses and more authority for the Federal Reserve the one “government agency” that can hide behind banker privileges and not be compelled to answer questions by Congress. More government power, more government oversight…. This looks less and less like America all the time! What is it going to take to scare people into fighting back? Read more at:,0,4262249.story 

Today’s Cool Quote: 

Liberals believe that men–left to their own devices–are not to be trusted. They also believe in the goodness of government; a government composed of men. This paradox may help explain why many liberals are angry much of the time.” –RE Bierce

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” 
James Madison 

Quick Hits…… Part 2, Theater of the Absurd

America is now a state run corporation 

Today on Fox Business News, former Time Warner AOL CEO Gerald Levin declared, “You know basically what we have now is a new CEO and it happens to be the president of the United States and new CFO that happens to be — Tim Geithner. And I think we’ll never see business as usual again”.  So there you have it – even powerful business leaders are acknowledging that the President has taken the government and is using it to nationalize private businesses. He went on to say, “You know who’s to say, who’s going to do a better job with General Motors or Citibank at this point. Because up until now things have not been going well at all. And it’s time I think not only to put some principals back in executive pay but also trying to get CEOs to be — a part of society. You know let’s shop at Costco and you know let’s fly Coach for awhile and let’s not have a class society where the disparity between what — the CEO makes and what people in the company — is so large. As to be almost unfair and unjust.”….. Seriously? – this guy made tens of millions per year at Time Warner, I’m sure this made him a regular Joe at the office. 

However, the message here is the nationalization of American businesses and banks is real and is happening. Capitalism is on the ropes and socialism is on the rise. The question is what are we going to do about it? To see this disturbing interview, go to:

 Tough New Obama Terror Policy ……..Enemy Combatants get Miranda Rights! 

Miranda rights are being read to suspected terrorists at military detention facilities in Afghanistan. This practice could result in a shift from a war against terrorists to legal battles against criminal defendants.

The Department of Justice acknowledges terrorist suspects have been read Miranda rights, at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and other places but claim it is to “preserve the quality of evidence obtained.” 

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-MI of the House Intelligence Committee has visited bases in Afghanistan and Bagram. He said the practice is causing chaos, confusion and frustration in the field.  “We don’t want our soldiers thinking, is this a law enforcement event or is this, a combat event,” Rogers said, “It’s shocking to believe that we’re going to give non-United States citizens in combat zones who are training, equipping and planning to kill United States citizens and our military and treat them as if they’re U.S. citizens and afford them those rights.” Read more below:

Today’s Crazy Quotes from the Left: On The Environment 

By David Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!: “We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of acres of presently settled land.” 

By Harry Reid, Democrat, U.S. Senate majority leader: “Coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick. It’s global warming. It’s ruining our country. It’s ruining our world.” 

By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: “Large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.” 

By Ted Turner, billionaire, founder of CNN and major UN donor: ‘Global warming’ will kill most of us, and turn the rest of us into cannibals.” 

By Noel Brown, UN official: “Entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees,” threatening political chaos.” (Yes, he meant the year 2000.) 

By Paul Ehrlich, professor, Stanford University: “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” 

By Ted Turner, billionaire, founder of CNN and major UN donor: “A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.” 

By Jeffery Sachs, Columbia University, Director of The Earth Institute: “Obama is already setting a new historic course by reorienting the economy from private consumption to public investments…free-market pundits bemoan the evident intention of Obama and team to ‘tell us what kind of car to drive’. Yet that is exactly what they intend to do…and rightly so. Free-market ideology is an anachronism in an era of climate change.” 

By Emma Brindal, a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth: “A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources.” 

These are examples of the agenda of left wing environmentalists. They are dangerous to all Americans. The Waxman Markey Climate Change Bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever proposed. Please read my previous blogs on the bill and on cap & trade. This legislation will undermine our economy and by doing so our national sovereignty will be put at risk as well.  

There are many ways to improve our stewardship of the earth without destroying our country. I support cleaner cars, energy and general environmental stewardship but a balance must be established to protect both our country and our planet. Responsible citizens owe it to themselves and future generations to research the proposals being discussed and make their voices heard. We can not leave our future in the hands of politicians, lobbyists and zealot environmentalists. 

And now for a glimmer of hope………….. 

East Texas Congressman introduces bill in the House to sunset T.A.R.P. by year’s end 

(June 8, 2009)  Rep. Jeb Hensarling R-Texas, introduced a bill which sets a Dec. 31 deadline for the Treasury Department to loan remaining TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money to banks or forfeit it. Also this week an announcement that some banks will be allowed to repay their TARP loans is expected. These banks, including JPMorgan Chase, American Express Co., BB&T Corp., U.S. Bancorp, Capital One Financial Corp. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., have passed their stress tests clearing the way for repayment. 

Congressional Republicans have been unhappy with the way the TARP money was being used citing that the money was allocated to purchase the “toxic assets” of troubled financial institutions. However, both the Bush and Obama administrations have abused this program loaning money to the automakers and insurance companies as well as banks fueling “taxpayer ownership” of private businesses. In light of this, Republican lawmakers would like to return the unused and repaid money back to the Treasury and terminate the program.

“It’s time to terminate the TARP program,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, told reporters. “TARP is increasingly not being a vehicle for economic stability and taxpayer protection but is evolving into 700 billion dollar revolving slush fund that the administration can use to advance economic, social and political agenda items far and apart from what Tarp was ever designed to do.”  He also said his legislation calls for reducing the amount of the TARP program by recalling all currently unspent funds and sets a Dec. 31, 2009 deadline for the allocation of TARP funds. It also kills a provision in last year’s Emergency Economic Stabilization Act that would enable Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to renew the TARP program for two more years.

“The economy is in serious condition but we have gone past the emergency point. I fear that TARP is no longer what Congress thought it was when it passed it and I certainly do not believe it’s what the American taxpayer thought it was,” said Hensarling, who sits on the House Financial Services committee.

It appears that at least one Congressman realizes that the Federal government is not supposed to be buying up private businesses. America needs more of this kind of leadership in Congress! 

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

Quick Hits……. The politics and other nonsense of a world gone mad!

Today’s blog is a series of quick stories. I usually like to more fully explore an issue but at the pace things are happening I can’t write fast enough to keep up. So today I am going clean up a list of accumulating stories into quick hits. You’ll get a short overview and links to the rest of the story. 

The Federal Reserve hires a lobbyist to improve image? 

The Obama administration wants to expand the authority of the Federal Reserve but recent events have cast doubt about the role of the Fed in helping manage the bail outs and the economy. Enter Linda Robertson, a former Enron lobbyist and Clinton administration Treasury Department aide. She is expected to start at the Fed in July. She will be in charge of congressional affairs. Previously, Robertson had been considered for a senior post at the Treasury Dept. but was removed from the running because of the Obama administration’s rules against hiring lobbyists. The recent problems on Wall Street and Treasury Secretary Geithner’s desire to use the Fed as a regulatory tool to manage large business failures has left Congress questioning how much authority should be given to this independent government agency. 

A couple of points to consider; why are lobbyists okay in some jobs and not others, also why does a government entity need a lobbyist to talk to Congress for them? Read more here……

Leading Democrats pushing back on the President over dealership closures!

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Daniel Maffei have asked other congressional lawmakers to join with them in pushing the administration to answer questions on the forced bankruptcy and reorganization of Chrysler and GM. The issue at the heart of the matter is the forced closure of so many healthy dealerships. Specifically, how will closing these dealers will make the companies more profitable. This is the second time in the last few weeks the democrat controlled congress has stood up to the President ( the first was Guantanamo) Read more here……

 Ginsberg halts Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay of the bankruptcy proceedings just a week before the  government-backed sale of Chrysler to Fiat. Three Indiana state pension and construction funds who have secured debt in Chrysler are petitioning the Supreme Court to intervene on their behalf. They are challenging the constitutionality of the Treasury Department’s use of money from T.A.R.P. to finance Chrysler’s bankruptcy protection. They also claim the administration put less qualified stakeholders ahead of their secured debts which goes against the grain of typical bankruptcy rulings. Could this be a win for the Constitution as well as the funds… Stayed tuned, for more of the story, go to:

 Unfortunately, before I could finish and post this blog the Supreme Court decided they would not take this case. This is a huge defeat for capitalism. Basically this sets a bad precedent for future bankruptcy proceedings in that it minimizes the rights of secured debtors in the process. The court ruled the plaintiffs had not met their burden of proof which seems like a cop out since the process used broke almost every rule of standard bankruptcy procedure prior to this filing. For more on the courts decision, go to…

 Another Czar…… of the Great Lakes, Seriously?

 President Barack Obama has tapped Cameron Davis, the leader of a Chicago-based environmentalist group, to head up his initiative to clean up the Great Lakes. He will be responsible for implementing a restoration program expected to cost more than $20 billion. What’s next a graffiti czar to clean up graffiti in major cities? Enough already! Aren’t there civil engineering companies who could run this program on a contract basis? Or how about the Army Corp. of Engineers – after all, they built every major lake in Texas except Lake Caddo which God took care of. Some how I am sure G.E. will get the contract to do the actual clean up.

 Nuclear Proliferation can wait……The U.N. seeks to immediately reduce plastic bag proliferation

 Proving their priorities are in the right place, Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) said today, single-use plastic bags should be banned because of their degrading effects on the planet. Claiming the bags choke marine life he stated, they “should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere. There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere.”

It is amazing how swiftly and decisively the U.N. can move when it’s dealing with a “major” issue like the plastic bag. Yet when a rogue nation like North Korea or Iran gives the world “the finger” ignoring U.N. resolutions and making defiant statements they struggle to come up with an “appropriate” response.

For the last few weeks North Korea has performed several missile tests, and the UN Security Council is working toward a denunciation of North Korean defiance . In other words they are drafting another “strong letter of disapproval”.

U.S. participation in the U.N. needs to be reconsidered; the organization has become a joke and an embarrassment. 

The Cow Fart Tax……. The next battle in the fight to curb global warming….. Really!

 Farting cows and other livestock are a major source of methane emissions into the atmosphere. As a result the EPA is looking for ways to address this greenhouse gas problem. So you won’t be surprised to find out that one of the ways they are considering addressing the problem is through a tax. While I am not sure how this will reduce the gases legislation to impose the tax is working its’ way through a House committee. 

According to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI., the ranking member of the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, if this bill becomes law it could have a devastating impact on agribusiness. In the absence of a technology based solution for livestock methane emissions the congressman said, “I don’t know if we’re supposed to develop the technology to strap a catalytic converter on the back of a cow”, since a capture and convert strategy would be a more earth friendly solution than a tax, if global warming wasn’t a myth in the first place. (Please see my 4 part series on The Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill)

In case you are wondering about the cost of livestock farts, the EPA proposal breaks it down like this, $175 a year on every head of dairy cattle in the United States, $80 for beef cattle and $20 per head of hogs. In a recent blog I joked about a methane tax because it seemed so ridiculous, turns out we now live in theater of the absurd. If this bill passes hamburger will replace steak as a luxury item and the price of food will keep going up. Amazing how every “green” initiative has a negative effect on the price of something. President Obama may have promised income tax cuts for 95% of Americans but by the time he is done with his social reengineering, the economy will be in shambles and inflation will be through the roof. Then everyone will wish for the good old days of higher income tax. By the way vegans beware – beans are next! Read more at: 

Two female American journalists sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean labor camp 

(AP) – The families of two American journalists sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean labor prison urged its hard-line government to grant them clemency, amid hopes the U.S. government would send an envoy to negotiate their release.

“We remain hopeful that the governments of the United States and North Korea can come to an agreement that will result in the release of the (women),” said a joint statement by their families received Tuesday.

Lee, 36, and Ling — who work for former Vice President Al Gore’s Current TV — were arrested March 17 near the China-North Korea border where they were reporting about the trafficking of women. It’s unclear whether they tried to sneak into the North or if aggressive border guards crossed into Chinese territory and grabbed them, as has happened before.

The North accused the reporters of unspecified “hostile acts” and illegally entering the country, but the formal charges against them were unclear. Their trial, which was closed to foreigners, began Thursday and they were sentenced Monday to 12 years of “reform through labor.”

So far the administration has been mostly quiet on the situation other than to say they will “pursue all possible means to gain their release”. Again, the president faces another test on the world stage and so far it is another show of weakness.

Newsweek promotes Barack Obama from President to…. God?

Newsweek editor Evan Thomas commenting on President Obama’s speech in Cairo declared on MSNBC: “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God.”

Previously, Mr. Thomas had said that Ronald Reagan was all about “America”. He then went on to point out how President Obama was above that saying, “we are above that now. We’re not just parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, and we’re not just provincial. We stand for something … He’s going to bring all different sides together.”

See the video here:

Okay, seriously is the media so infatuated with this President that they have lost all perspective of what journalism is about. How can Newsweek be considered a serious news magazine if their editor is running around making statements like this?

So far the President’s foreign policy has been both naïve and ineffective. He has yet to gain real cooperation from our European allies, Asia, Russia or anyone in the Middle East. When is this great coming together going to begin? My other concern is what will this great coming together cost America? Our national sovereignty is too high a price! Maybe he will prove me wrong … but for now the promotion seems premature. 

We seem to be spinning out of control on almost every front as P.J. O’Rourke once said, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

Socialism, the new czars and government “gone wild”……..

Obama has gone czar crazy! The new administration is appointing Czars at a rate that would put Russia to shame. It has gotten so out of hand that even senior democrats are starting to complain. 

(CBS News) Robert Byrd, the longest serving senator in history, criticized President Obama’s appointment of numerous White House advisors, also called “czars,” saying the presence of the czars gives the president too much power. In a letter to Obama, Byrd, a Democrat, said that the czar system “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances,” Byrd added that oversight of federal agencies is the responsibility of officials approved by the Senate. “As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, or to virtually anyone but the president,” Byrd wrote. “They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability.” 

So here is a list of several high profile Czar positions currently in place under the new administration: 

Nancy Ann Deparle, Health Reform Czar – DeParle will be charged with helping to craft and sell the administration’s ambitious effort to revamp the nation’s health care system to both extend access and rein in runaway costs. A veteran of the Bill Clinton health-reform wars, DeParle brings institutional memory to the job as well as an understanding of the arcane nooks of government-funded health insurance plans. She’s an expert on Medicare and Medicaid, and could help the Obama administration expand those programs while in pursuit of universal coverage.  DeParle was previously commissioner of the Department of Human Services in Tennessee, and during the Clinton administration she oversaw Medicare and Medicaid as the administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration. Source: 

Adolfo Carrion, Jr., Urban Affairs Policy Czar – The man who is President Obama’s newly minted urban czar pocketed thousands of dollars in campaign cash from city developers whose projects he approved or funded with taxpayers’ money, a Daily News probe found. He often received contributions just before or after he sponsored money for projects or approved important zoning changes, records show. Source: N.Y. Daily News

Read more: “Buildings sprang up as donations rained down on Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion” – 

Carol Browner, Energy and Global Warming Czar  Global Warming Czar Carol Browner was — until last week — listed as one of 14 leaders of a socialist group that advocates what’s called “global governance” and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change. The Washington Times reports Browner’s name and biography were listed on the Web page for Socialist International. Source: Fox News

John Brennan, Terrorism Czar – Brennan boasts a 25-year intelligence career and an expertise in counter-terrorism, skills that will make him an asset to President Barack Obama as deputy national security adviser for counter-terrorism. A fluent Arabic speaker, Brennan is known for being smart and tough-as-nails – according to George W. Bush CIA director George J. Tenet, Brennan once confronted a top Iranian spy in the streets of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But his connections in the intelligence community have also gotten him in trouble. Brennan was Obama’s top pick for CIA director, but he withdrew his name in November 2008 after he was attacked for his earlier statements in support of the Bush administration’s advanced interrogation techniques. Instead, Obama appointed Brennan to a White House job that does not require Senate confirmation. Source: 

Daniel Fried, Guantanamo Closure Czar – Of the czars, few will face as much pressure as Fried, who has been tasked with turning into a reality the President’s promise to close Guantanamo Bay prison within a year of taking office. As a State Department Special Envoy, Fried must convince America’s European allies to accept as residents in their countries about 60 of the detainees still imprisoned in Guantanamo. That concept faces significant pushback from some foreign leaders, who worry about potential threats posed by the inmates. Fried comes to this job with more than three decades of experience with Europe. A career Foreign Service officer, he has served throughout Eastern Europe, on the National Security Council, and most recently as Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department.  Source: 

Gary Samore, Non Proliferation Czar – His official title is Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction & Proliferation. He leads a team of ten staff members and sits on the National Security Council. Though the position is new, Samore will be addressing issues that he worked on for years as a State Department official. Samore said Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were some of the biggest challenges facing President Obama. Just a few weeks later, he was tapped to join a team of White House officials, national security experts and State Department leaders entrusted with developing U.S. nuclear non-proliferation strategy, a top priority for the administration. 

Alan Bersin, Border Czar – Bersin was the leader of Operation Gatekeeper in 1994, a major border crackdown in the San Diego border area. His job will be to try to slow down the drug and gun trade around the border.

Steve Rattner, Car Czar – Previously, an investment banker and N. Y. Times journalist, Rattner was picked to lead the recovery of the auto industry. Many believe he was the architect behind the firing of GM chairman Rick Waggoner.

Vivek Kundra, Aneesh Chopra, and Jeffrey Zients, Tech Czars – According to the administration the tech czars will be in charge of “setting technology policy across the government and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs.” 

Herb Allison and Earl Devaney, Bailout Czars – Allison is the former CEO of Fannie Mae so he was the perfect choice to be the TARP Czar. Devaney is the new stimulus accountability czar. He is a former Secret Service agent who investigated infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff. 

Joshua DuBois, God Czar – According to Time magazine, he will lead a group that will seek to generate policy recommendations on four issues: “domestic poverty, responsible fatherhood, reducing the need for abortion and preventing unintended pregnancy, and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.” 

Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar – He is the new drug czar. He previously served as the chief of police in Seattle. 

Cass Sunstein, Regulatory Czar – Harvard Law School professor and intellectual has been tapped to be the regulatory czar. 

Kenneth Feinberg, Pay Czar – The Obama administration plans to appoint a “Special Master for Compensation” to ensure that companies receiving federal bailout funds are abiding by executive-pay guidelines. The administration is expected to name Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the federal government’s compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to act as a pay czar for the Treasury Department. Mr. Feinberg’s appointment could be announced as early as next week, when the administration is expected to release executive-compensation guidelines for firms receiving aid from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Those companies, which include banks, insurers and auto makers, are subject to a host of compensation restrictions imposed by the Bush and Obama administrations and by Congress. Wall Street has been anxiously awaiting more details on how the rules will be applied. “The law is confusing and a bit ambiguous, and so we’re looking for certainty as to how to structure pay incentives,” said Scott Talbott, senior vice president of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade association. Source: Wall Street Journal

Cyber Czar – President Obama announced on Friday the creation of a “cyber czar” to oversee an enhanced security system for U.S. computer networks. Obama said he will pick the person he wants to head up a new White House office of cyber security soon, and that person will report to the National Security Council as well as to the National Economic Council, in a nod to the importance of computers to the economy. Source: Fox News 5/29

This is not the complete list but you get the point. The Obama Administration is certainly not the first to create or appoint these positions but they have taken it to a new level. I have listed 15 and there maybe as many as 20 of these positions in his administration. 

However, there have been so many of these positions being added to the Executive Branch of the government that it has resulted in an increased level of discomfort in the other branches of the government as well as the private sector. 

March 17 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama’s decision to place czars above Cabinet-level agencies presents dangers beyond confusion over who’s in charge and an organizational chart that looks like pasta carbonara. There’s also the potential for a constitutional crisis.

Obama’s czars, the most ever appointed by an administration, are likely to have the authority to influence or make decisions for Cabinet-level agencies. Yet they aren’t confirmed by Congress and don’t have to respond to pesky requests to testify before oversight committees.

“What you are having here is a supplementing of the power vested in agency heads with someone in the White House you can’t talk to,” said Morton Rosenberg, a former Congressional Research Service regulatory analyst. “It troubles me.”

This scenario lends credence to the concern that czars will add a layer of opaqueness and unaccountability to a rule-making system that’s largely incomprehensible to the outside world and a puzzle even to seasoned pros representing industry groups, companies and the public.

“Every time you add another variable, you will have trouble sorting out what had influence on a rulemaking,” said Cornelius Kerwin, president of American University in Washington who wrote the book, “Rulemaking: How Government Agencies Write Law and Make Policy.” “It’s not like legislative or judicial decisions.”

The Chamber of Commerce plans to tell the Obama administration it should disclose oral and written communications among executive branch employees, including those operating under the radar.

“The czars’ enormous ability to influence rulemakings without accountability to the public is, at best, problematic and should be rectified through any new executive order,” said the chamber’s draft comments.

The part that I find most concerning is that these appointees are not properly and publicly vetted. In some cases, they also appear to have sweeping authority granted by the president’s proxy over legitimate cabinet posts.

Of course, the businessman in me has other questions like:

Are these positions budgeted? (This is a rhetorical question)     

How much do these people earn?  

What kind of benefits do they get?    

What’s the process to justify the positions?                                      

What’s the pay back?

In any well run business these are the questions that are asked before personnel requisitions are approved.

Of course, the government is not a well run business. In fact it is not supposed to be a business at all. But maybe with the process of nationalizing so many industries – cars, energy, banks, healthcare, insurance companies, etc. the administration decided they needed more of a pseudo business structure. You know a bunch of high paid executives each with their own “area” of expertise managing that area so the big boss can fly around and look for new acquisition targets. Oh wait, this is supposed to be an article about government posts, the government doesn’t make acquisitions – do they? Or maybe when you have such an inexperienced leader you need to surround him with a lot of help.

By the way, can we at least start referring to them differently, you know like “pseudo V.P. of Energy” for example? I know that the administration did not coin the term “Czar” but I am sick of it, especially given the word’s Russian roots. It’s just kind of offensive since I still identify with my American heritage and don’t believe that there is a place for “Czars” in a democracy.

In any case, this is not how our government is supposed to operate. It is supposed to be mostly managed by our elected representatives. However, it is getting harder and harder to tell who is in charge and how we can hold them accountable. The fact that we “need” all these positions is the first sign that government has gotten too large. The only positive in the whole mess is it might make it harder for the lobbyists to figure out who to bribe.

The Waxman Markey Climate Change Bill (Part 4)…… The Potential Impact

In the final installment of this series, I will pull together the factors of this bill that will ultimately impact all Americans if signed into law. A bill like this comes with a price tag that is not inconsequential. 

“The answer to global warming is in the abolition of private property and production for human need. A socialist world would place an enormous priority on alternative energy sources. This is what ecologically-minded socialists have been exploring for quite some time now.” – Louis Proyect, Columbia University 

So here is a list highlighting a number of things that will be impacted. 

The Economy at Large:  

Job Loss: There will be fall out in the form of lost jobs as a result of this bill being passed into law. American companies will be faced with significantly higher energy costs as a result of the cap-and-tax plan and other provisions in the bill. This will put U.S. based manufacturing facilities at a competitive disadvantage with plants in other parts of the world not forced to play on the same field of “environmental stewardship”. 

This could result in millions of American jobs going overseas. The bill also mandates conceptual, unproven technologies for coal-fired plants which could result in plant closings if they are not able to comply with the new federal regulations. This could increase dependence on natural gas causing an increase in prices. 

Proponents of the bill claim the opposite; this will result in millions of new “green” jobs. Reality check – the new industries and jobs will require significant capital investment, research and can not be launched quickly enough to offset the losses. In other words, the ramp up is longer than the ramp down. Considering the current state of our national economy the timing of such an initiative seems potentially disastrous. 

Higher Energy Costs: The proposed regulations in the bill require a new Federal Renewable Energy Standard. The standard starts at a minimum of 6% in 2012 and escalates to 25% by 2025. The Department of Energy will issue utilities “credits” for renewable energy they generate which can be sold, transferred, or exchanged.  If a utility cannot meet the RES it would be required to purchase credits to make up the difference. In effect this becomes a hidden tax and a new source of revenue for the government. To offset these costs the utility companies will pass them on to their customers, ultimately resulting in higher energy prices for everyone. The problem here is that currently renewable energy technology is neither efficient nor cost competitive which is why it is not being implemented in a wide spread manner yet. Forcing the market to adopt this technology before it is ready will cause prices to increase rapidly. This mandate in effect put the Dept. of Energy in charge of the energy market. There are also concerns that a RES would impose a uniform federal standard on States despite varying sources of renewable resources.  Southeastern states would be especially hard hit.  

There are many other requirements that also will drive up energy costs up in this bill. Here are a few examples:

Cap and Tax – This issue requires a blog of its’ own. Please see my April 25th blog titled “Cap and Trade” or “Bait and Switch”  

Carbon capture and sequestration – This is the term used to describe a technology that captures carbon at its source and stores it before it is released into the atmosphere.  Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is designed to be a method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere.  In general, any CCS system would have the following components: (1) capturing and separating CO2 from other byproducts; (2) compressing and transporting the captured CO2 to the sequestration site; and (3) sequestering CO2 in geological reservoirs or in the oceans. This is not only as ridiculous as it sounds but it creates yet another expense that will need to be passed on to the end user. How much do you suppose it will cost to “dispose” of carbon dioxide? We better hope they never apply this logic to methane or nobody will be able to afford hamburger! 

Smart Grid – This is a distribution system that allows information to flow from a customer’s electric meter in two directions: both inside the house to thermostats, appliances and other devices then back to the utility. The bill facilitates the deployment of a Smart Grid, including measures to use it to reduce utility peak loads and promote capabilities in new home appliances.  States and utilities would determine and publish peak demand reduction goals. The goals would specify a reduction to a lower peak demand by 2012.  The bill also directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reform the regional planning process to modernize the electric grid plus provide new transmission lines to carry electricity generated from renewable sources. 

New Transmission Lines – The bill does not adequately address the need for new transmission lines the RES will require. These transmission lines would likely be subject to not-in-my-backyard opposition that impedes permitting. How the states and utilities will work through these issues remains to be seen but it will likely be expensive and challenging. Also additional costs for renewable energy transmitted from far away resources across longer transmission lines to states without such resources could further impact prices. 

Nationalizing the Grid – Under this bill the Federal Power Act is amended to require the FERC to adopt grid planning principles to achieve national policy goals. These goals include energy efficiency, a Smart Grid, and underground transmission technologies. Although better transmission infrastructure is the key to reliability, nationalizing the development of the grid might nationalize costs and raise questions on eminent domain. Again any program that the government is in charge of planning is going to drive up costs not efficiencies. 

Industrial Energy Efficiency – Under this plan the Dept. of Energy would develop industrial energy efficiency certification standards.  It also establishes a financial award program for electric or thermal energy generation facilities, which currently use fossil or nuclear fuel. Theoretically, this would encourage additional types of thermal energy production.  The legislation authorizes “such sums” for these awards. 

Building Energy Efficiency – The bill also contains several “energy efficiency programs” for commercial and residential buildings.  The legislation sets targets for national building codes to make a 30 percent improvement in energy efficiency within three years, and a 50 percent improvement starting with building codes released in 2016 and beyond using 2004 or 2006 codes as a baseline.  The Federal government will provide funding to States to implement these requirements. 

Lighting and Appliance Energy Efficiency – There will be several new federal standards for lighting and household appliances.  The bill would create a new standard for outdoor lighting fixtures effective in 2011, with progressively tougher standards by 2015.  The legislation would place new energy standards on appliances and would even make it a federal offense to sell appliances that do not meet the new requirements. 

International Reserve Allowance Program – Border tax adjustments or border tax assessments, are import fees levied by carbon-capping countries on goods manufactured in non-carbon-capping countries. We used to call these tariffs. The bill establishes a program to set up binding agreements committing all major greenhouse gas emitting nations to contribute equitably to the reduction of global GHG emissions.  Since we can not require foreign nations to cap their own emissions, the bill establishes a border adjustment program to require foreign manufacturers and importers to purchase emission allowances to “cover” the carbon emitted in the production of products being sold in the United States. The idea is to provide U.S. manufacturers competitive relief against their foreign counterparts. Any cost to foreign producers will be passed on to U.S. consumers.  Not only will domestic products be more expensive, but so will foreign goods. This will likely have devastating effects on free trade and foreign relationships.  

We, as Americans, have a duty to be good stewards of the planet. We have a responsibility to improve the way we generate energy and manage the earth’s resources. However, living up to these responsibilities does not require us to abandon the principles of government that made our nation strong and powerful. We have a responsibility to future generations of Americans which in addition to a healthy environment includes leaving them a free, sovereign and prosperous nation like the one our parents and grandparents left us. We do not have to choose between the American Dream and a healthy planet – we can have both. We certainly do not need a bunch of politicians and left wing scientists with an agenda manufacturing a crisis to do their own experiment in social re-engineering. 

“I think if we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecological society under socialism. I don’t think it’s possible under capitalism.” – Judi Barri, Earth First

General Electric (NYSE:GE) is the parent company of the major media conglomerate NBC Universal, which owns media outlets NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. At times that has led to the lines between corporate advocacy and journalism being blurred. GE C.E.O. Immelt used his platform at CNBC to make the case for a cap-and-trade program to curb emissions – something Obama has called for and one Congressional committee is debating this week. “There’s going to have to be a price for carbon,” Immelt said. “In some way, shape of form, you’re going to have to create some certainty. You have to make technology your friend in this debate. ….. I think about things like global warming. We’ve been on this for four or five years.” Immelt contended he wasn’t an environmentalist, despite criticism that his networks’ have patterns of promoting the green agenda. Immelt told “Squawk Box” the science surrounding man-caused global warming was “compelling” and that it was only a matter of time before something will be done about carbon emissions. The General Electric CEO said he favored a cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon emissions versus a carbon tax. – source: Business and Media Institute 5/20/09

More government intervention is not the answer to improving the environment. Besides, the science does not support the claims the U.N., Al Gore, the media and other fear mongers are making. We do not need to redistribute our wealth as the socialist environmentalists are demanding. We also do not need to make elite multi-national corporations any richer. GE is an example of just such a company. They have used their media empire (NBC, CNBC & MSNBC) to promote fear with heavy handed marketing of the “green” agenda and climate change issues. Meanwhile, they have heavily invested in alternative energy establishing a huge footprint in wind power, solar power as well as smart grids and those high efficiency appliances I mentioned earlier. GE also spent an estimated $20 million on lobbying efforts in support of their “green” business plan. Also just for good measure, GE recently announced the launch of a new subsidiary called Greenhouse Gas Services, which will facilitate the trading of carbon tax credits. There is your answer on why Mr. Immelt prefers carbon credits to carbon taxes! Do you suppose they have a motive that goes beyond their corporate concern for a healthy planet? 

The net result of this unfathomable bill will be higher energy prices, reduced global competitiveness, continued job loss, more government regulation, a stifling of free markets and a reduction of the standard of living for all Americans. This bill has the potential to effectively kill what remains of capitalism in our country. We must block this legislation. We can improve our environmental stewardship without killing our economic system. Write your Congressional and Senatorial representatives and tell them to vote for America by voting against this bill. Our country’s future as a sovereign world leader depends on it. 

“The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are. And it is important to the rest of the world to make sure that they don’t suffer economically by virtue of our stopping them.”—Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund