Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Barry's "To-Do" list for the Gulf oil spill

The oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico gets worse by the day. Oil spews from the broken well, further polluting our water and shores. The clean-up efforts drag on with bureaucratic interference, making matters worse. And what is the Obama administration doing? It continues to push for unrelated responses that will have a disastrous effect on our economy, especially the economy of the Gulf states most affected.

In fact, President Obama summoned a bipartisan group of senators to the White House on Tuesday to discuss his climate change legislation. When Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander suggested that any such energy meeting should include a focus on the oil spill and BP, Obama responded: “
that’s just your talking point” and refused to discuss the crisis.

Unfortunately, the American people are not hearing any of this. Day after day, blind allegiance to the president causes his supporters on the left to simply say the government is doing all that it can. The national media, prone to attention deficit disorder when a president they support is in the White House, have already moved on to a myriad of other subjects, offering only sporadic updates on the continuing crisis. ...

1. Waive the Jones Act: According to one Dutch newspaper, European firms could complete the oil spill cleanup by themselves in just four months, and three months if they work with the United States, which is much faster than the estimated nine months it would take the Obama administration to go at it alone. The major stumbling block is a protectionist piece of legislation called the Jones Act, which requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flagged ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. But, in an emergency, this law can be temporarily waived, as DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff did after Katrina. Each day European and Asian allies are prevented from helping us speed up the cleanup is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die. For more information on this, click here.

2. Accept International Assistance: At least thirty countries and international organizations have offered equipment and experts so far. According to
reports this week, the White House has finally decided to accept help from twelve of these nations. The Obama administration should make clear why they are refusing the other eighteen-plus offers. In a statement, the State Department said it is still working out the particulars of the assistance it has accepted. This should be done swiftly as months have already been wasted.

Take Sweden, for example. According to Heritage expert James Carafano: “After offering assistance shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Sweden received a request for information about their specialized assets from the State Department on May 7. Swedish officials answered the inquiry the same day, saying that some assets, such as booms, could be sent within days and that it would take a couple of weeks to send ships. There are three brand new Swedish Coast Guard vessels built for dealing with a major oil spill cleanup. Each has a capacity to collect nearly 50 tons of oil per hour from the surface of the sea and can hold 1,000 tons of spilled oil in their tanks. But according to the State Department’s recently released chart on international offers of assistance,
the Swedish equipment and ships are still ‘under consideration.’ So months later, the booms sit unused and brand new Swedish ships still sit idle in port, thousands of miles from the Gulf. The delay in accepting offers of assistance is unacceptable.” For more information, click here or here.

3. Lift the Moratorium: The Obama administration’s over-expansive ban on offshore energy development is killing jobs when they are needed most. A panel of engineering experts told The
New Orleans Times-Picayune that they only supported a six-month ban on new drilling in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. Those same experts were consulted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar before he issued his May 27 report recommending a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. A letter from these experts reads: “A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do.”

And just how many innocent jobs is Obama’s oil ban killing? An earlier Times-Picayune report estimated the moratorium could cost Louisiana 7,590 jobs and $2.97 billion in revenue directly related to the oil industry. For more information on this, click

4. Release the S.S. A-Whale: The S.S. A-Whale skimmer is a converted oil tanker capable of cleaning 500,000 barrels of oil a day from the Gulf waters. Currently, the largest skimmer being used in the clean-up efforts can handle 4,000 barrels a day, and the entire fleet our government has authorized for BP has only gathered 600,000 barrels, total in the 70 days since the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The ship embarked from Norfolk, VA, this week toward the Gulf, hoping to get federal approval to begin assisting the clean-up, but is facing bureaucratic resistance.

As a foreign-flagged ship, the S.S. A-Whale needs a waiver from the Jones Act, but even outside that three-mile limitation, the U.S. Coast Guard and the EPA have to approve its operation due to the nature of its operation, which separates the oil from the water and then releases water back into the Gulf, with a minor amount of oil residue. The government should not place perfection over the need for speed, especially facing the threat of an active hurricane season. For more information on this, click

5. Remove State and Local Roadblocks: Local governments are not getting the assistance they need to help in the cleanup. For example, nearly two months ago, officials from Escambia County, Fla., requested permission from the Mobile Unified Command Center to use a sand skimmer, a device pulled behind a tractor that removes oil and tar from the top three feet of sand, to help clean up Pensacola’s beaches. County officials still haven’t heard anything back. Santa Rosa Island Authority Buck Lee
explains why: “Escambia County sends a request to the Mobile, Ala., Unified Command Center. Then, it’s reviewed by BP, the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard. If they don’t like it, they don’t tell us anything.”

State and local governments know their geography, people, economic impacts and needs far better than the federal government does. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government has actually been playing a bigger and bigger role in running natural disaster responses. And as Heritage fellow Matt Mayer has
documented, the results have gotten worse, not better. Local governments should be given the tools they need to aid in the disaster relief. For more information on this, click here.

6. Allow Sand Berm Dredging: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently
prevented the state of Louisiana from dredging to build protective sand berms. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser immediately sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the work continue. He said, “Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil. Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil.” For more information on this, click here.

7. Waive or Suspend EPA Regulations: Because more water than oil is collected in skimming operations (85% to 90% is water according to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen), operators need to discharge the filtered water back into the Gulf so they can continue to collect oil. The discharged water is vastly cleaner than when it was skimmed, but not sufficiently pure according to normal EPA regulations. If the water has to be kept in the vessel and taken back to shore for purification, it vastly multiples the resources and time needed, requiring cleanup ships to make extra round trips, transporting seven times as much water as the oil they collect. We already have insufficient cleanup ships (as the Coast Guard officially determined); they need to be cleaning up oil, not transporting water. For more information, click

8. Temporarily Loosen Coast Guard Inspections: In early June, sixteen barges that were vacuuming oil out of the Gulf were ordered to halt work. The Coast Guard had the clean-up vessels sit idle as they were inspected for fire extinguishers and life vests. Maritime safety is clearly a priority, but speed is of the essence in the Gulf waters. The U.S. Coast Guard should either temporarily loosen its inspection procedures or implement a process that allows inspections to occur as the ships operate. For more information, click

9. Stop Coast Guard Budget Cuts: Now is not the time to be cutting Coast Guard capabilities, but that is exactly what President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress are doing. Rather than rebuilding and modernizing the Coast Guard as is necessary, they are cutting back assets needed to respond to catastrophic disasters. In particular, the National Strike Force, specifically organized to respond to oil spills and other hazardous materials disasters, is being cut. Overall, President Obama has told the Coast Guard to shed nearly 1,000 personnel, five cutters, and several helicopters and aircraft. Congress and the Administration should double the U.S. Coast Guard’s active and reserve end strength over the next decade and significantly accelerate Coast Guard modernization, but for the time being, they should halt all budgetary cuts. For more information, click

10. Halt Climate Change Legislation: President Obama has placed his focus to the oil spill on oil demand rather than oil in our water. Regardless of political views, now is not the time to be taking advantage of this crisis to further an unrelated piece of legislation that will kill jobs and, in the President’s own words, cause energy prices to “skyrocket.” Less than 5% of our nation’s electricity needs are met by petroleum. Pushing solar and wind alternatives is in no way related to the disaster in the Gulf. It’s time for President Obama to focus on the direct actions he can take in the Gulf rather than the indirect harm he can cause in Congress. As Heritage expert David Kreutzer opines: “Fix the leak first, and then we’ll talk.” A crisis should not be a terrible thing to waste, as Rahm Emanuel said, but a problem to be solved.

Folks, if we had thinkers like those at Heritage in the Obama administration, I'm pretty confident that the last year-and-a-half wouldn't have been as much of a disaster as it has been, and the president wouldn't be seeing his approval numbers below 50% right now. Barry is a failure. He doesn't want to be the president. He just enjoys the perks of the taxpayer dime as he jets around the world for idiotic purposes, as he plays golf, shoots hoops, and generally makes himself a paint in the @$$ to the American public.

Hey Barry, would you actually like to BE the president now instead of doing your best Martin Sheen impression of playing the president?

Publius II

Monday, June 28, 2010

Robert Byrd RIP

The longest serving senator in the US Senate died early this morning, leaving the Senate with a pickle of a problem, legislatively speaking:

The Senate has lost one of its legends with the death of Robert C. Byrd, an orphan child who married a coal miner’s daughter and rose from the hollows of West Virginia coal country to become the longest serving senator in U.S. history.

He died around 3 a.m. Monday morning after being admitted to the hospital last week for dehydration, yet his condition worsened over the weekend and he became critically ill. Byrd was 92.

What's the pickle? Nate Silver explained part of this prior to the passing of Senator Byrd:

Byrd’s current term expires on January 3, 2013. Under West Virginia state law on handling Senate vacancies, “if the vacancy occurs less than two years and six months before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to fill the unexpired term and there is no election”. Otherwise, Manchin would appoint an interim replacement, and an special election would be held in November to determine who held the seat in 2011 and 2012.

In other words, we are within a week of the threshold established by West Virginia law. If a vacancy were to be declared on July 3rd or later, there would not be an election to replace Byrd until 2012. If it were to occur earlier, there could potentially be an election later this year, although there might be some ambiguities arising from precisely when and how the vacancy were declared.

That's just part of the problem, and that one lies at the feet of Governor Manchin. Granted, as Captain Ed notes, Manchin wanted that seat for himself. ABC News reports that Manchin has to declare the seat vacant, and if the voters in West Virginia don't raise a big stink about it then he can take his time.

However, the longer this takes that means Harry Reid has one less vote in the Senate. And should Barry apply pressure to Manchin to name a replacement, he would be interfering in a state matter. It is up to the governor, and the governor is going to want to appoint the seemingly best person to the position (not so good he couldn't take the seat himself at a later date, of course), but at least someone who has a clue as to what they're doing (unlike Roland Burris).

As for kind words on his passing? I really don't have a lot of them. The man was an embarrassment to the Democrat party. He was a former recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, and had a history rife with racism. It wasn't until his later years when he apologized for that past, and admitted that today's world had no room for those views. He was also an embarrassment when it came to his self-described classification of being the "constitutional expert" in the Senate. I could care less about his four-volume set of books on the Constitution, the man didn't know squat about the document. He was a pork-barrel spender for the state of West Virginia, so much so that the taxpayers of his state raised a statue in his honor.

The man should have retired decades ago. Our condolences to the remaining family he has, but we have little else to offer in terms of kind words. We didn't like the man, and didn't believe he should have been lauded the way most Democrats did.

Publius II

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal out, Petraeus in

This is breaking just now. Apparently General McChrystal has tendered his resignation with Barry, and it's been accepted:

A senior administration official tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama has accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and is replacing him with Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command.

McChrystal was pushed out over his blistering remarks about administration officials quoted in a magazine interview.

After an Oval Office meeting with McChrystal in the morning, Obama huddled with his war advisers and planned to announce his decision on the general's fate to the nation at 1:30 p.m. EDT in the
Rose Garden.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity, because the president's announcement was not yet public. Petraeus now oversees the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Look, we knew this was going to happen. We knew that either General McChrystal was either going to resign or be sacked. The thin-skinned president isn't one to allow criticism to go unpunished, and it was clear yesterday that he was out. We had hoped that he'd end up with a dressing down; a reprimand, and be allowed to return to duty in Afghanistan. Apparently, that's not the case.

Do we excuse General McChrystal and the comments that were quoted from his aides? No, we don't. They should know that any public rebuke or critique of the administration was going to result in someone losing their job. The lessons from MacArthur during Korea should have served as a reminder to what they were saying, and who they were saying it to. Evidently, they didn't take that into account.

Do soldiers gripe in the field? Hell yes they do, and more often than not, their ire is directed towards the civilian leadership in DC. The military detests back-bencher, armchair quarterbacks questioning them, and constantly checking up on them. But you don't go off spouting about it in public, and that was where they made their mistake.

It's a shame to see McChrystal go, but at least the troops in Afghanistan will be in good hands when General David Petraeus arrives. He helmed the Surge in Iraq, and he'll do what he has to do to win in Afghanistan.

Publius II

More feckless bureaucratic fiddling while the Gulf burns

Actually, a plan early on in the Gulf situation called for burning the oil off, but the enviro-weenies the president seems beholden to threw a hissy fit over that idea. But the situation in the Gulf isn't getting any better, and federal government has ordered the complete shut-down of berm building to go into effect tonight at midnight:

The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue.

Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline.

"Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil," Nungesser wrote to Obama. "Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil.

Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work.

Work is scheduled to halt at midnight Wednesday.

The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials.

Nungesser's letter includes an emotional plea to the president.

"Please don't let them shut this dredge down," he wrote. "This requires your immediate attention!"

"Mr. Nungesser, I'm sorry but the president is currently unavailable. He had to take time out of his busy golfing/hoops shooting day to dress down General Stanley McChrystal. Please leave your name, number, and contribution check for the president, and we'll make sure he gets back to you at his earliest possible convenience."

Folks, "feckless" doesn't even begin to describe the lack of leadership and effort to stave off the flow of oil into the Gulf and its clean-up. We are now on Day 64, and we're still no closer to cleaning this mess up than we were from the start. Had the federal government actually acted in the beginning, much of this would already be cleaned up. (After all, the Dutch did offer their help, and that of another dozen nations to help with the clean-up but that offer was turned down by the White House.)

Barry's sycophantic supporters can repeat his mantra of being involved in this "from Day One," but that boast doesn't even come close to passing the smell test. Governor Bobby Jindal has been screaming at the federal government to do something other than twiddle their thumbs, and demand that environmental impact studies be completed before any clean-up work really starts. This is what happens when a bloated bureaucracy leaps into action ..... Two months later people are still waiting for action.

The simple fact is this: The president doesn't seem to care about the oil accident. He's shown that in how long it took him to address the accident to begin with (10 days), and the consistent demands for berms, booms, and skimmers went unheard for the better part of two months. As Governor Jindal started to move, the White House finally relented, and allowed the construction of the berms.

But now they're being told to stop, and built them another two miles out. Um, where was this decision two months ago? That was a decision that should have been made in the hours after the accident, not months. Barry is showing this nation exactly what he is: A clueless rookie that never had to make a decision harder than what to pair the Kobe beef steaks with. He is an embarrassment to the nation, and the world is having a facepalm moment in trusting this guy to know what the Hell he's doing.

Publius II

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

General McChrystal called on the carpet

General Stanley McChrystal is facing a firestorm over his controversial interview with Rolling Stone magazine (whiskey-foxtrot-tango?) and has been ordered to the White House, from Kabul, to explain himself, and get a dressing down from the president:

The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been summoned to the White House to explain biting and unflattering remarks he made to a freelance writer about President Barack Obama and others in the Obama administration.

The face-to-face comes as pundits are already calling for
McChrystal to resign for insubordination.

McChrystal has been instructed to fly from Kabul to Washington today to attend Obama’s regular monthly
security team meeting tomorrow at the White House.

An administration official says McChrystal was asked to attend in person rather than by secure video teleconference, “where he will have to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes about his colleagues in the piece.”

Both Defense Secretary
Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have spoken with McChrystal. Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen, said “the chairman spoke to General McChrystal last night and expressed his deep disappointment with the article and with the comments expressed therein.”

First, let me say that Rolling Stone is hardly the place to vent. After all, the magazine is barely more than a rag akin to the Arizona Republic (or Arizona Repugnant, if you live in Arizona, and know the paper as well as we do). That said, there's an unwritten rule in the military that you take up such matters in private, and if privacy isn't available, you bite your tongue, and keep your opinions to yourself. So, McChrystal screwed up on that particular point. However, the people calling for his head on a platter seem to forget that Barry doesn't exactly have a plethora of counter-terror/counter-insurgency experts to choose from.

General Stanley McChrystal was credited with taking out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, and his career has been exemplary as an Airborne Ranger. The man helped create the counter-insurgency strategy used in Iraq for the Surge, and he has carried much of that over to Afghanistan. So, if relieved of his command, Barry will be hard-pressed to find a suitable replacement. The question remains "Does this amount to insubordination?" The link to the Rolling Stone article is here. HT to Captain Ed for the link.

Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan – then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan – and replaced him with a man he didn’t know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.

Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better.

“It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f*cking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

[I censored the language above.] Captain Ed is correct: This sort of criticism is reserved for memoirs, or after one leaves the service; it's not for when one is still serving the current Commander-in-Chief. You can despise Barry all you want, and believe me we do, but there is a certain professionalism and decorum when you're a serving commander of military forces that's called for when it comes to speaking of the president. More:

Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

“Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”

“Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?” ...

McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. “The Boss says he’s like a wounded animal,” says a member of the general’s team. “Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He’s a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can’t just have someone yanking on shit.”

At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,” he groans. “I don’t even want to open it.” He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.“Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail. ...

Part of the problem is structural: The Defense Department budget exceeds $600 billion a year, while the State Department receives only $50 billion. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a “clown” who remains “stuck in 1985.” Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, “turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.” Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal’s inner circle. “Hillary had Stan’s back during the strategic review,” says an adviser. “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.’ ”

Is this insubordination? No, not by my reading. Insubordination, as defined by the Uniform Code of Military Justice is:


Any warrant officer or enlisted member who--

(1) strikes or assaults a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer, while that officer is in the execution of his office;

(2) willfully disobeys the lawful order of a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer; or

(3) treats with contempt or is disrespectful in language or deportment toward a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer while that officer is in the execution of his office;

Nothing in this applies to the president. It applies to officers the person serves with. What McChrystal did falls under Article 89 of the UCMJ:


Any person subject to this chapter who behaves with disrespect toward his superior commissioned officer shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Or, more likely, under Article 88 of the UCMJ [emphasis mine]:


Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

General McChrystal may be brought up on Article 88 charges, and be court-martialed for it. He clearly did exactly that in this article (at least his aides did in recounting what the general supposedly said in closed quarters), but if what has been relayed is true, McChrystal is guilty of this charge.

I'll be blunt: We don't like the president. We think he's an incompetent rookie that couldn't find his @$$ in the dark with both hands and a flashlight. However, when you take the oath in the military, it's expected that you will follow the orders of the duly-elected president who is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and if you have a beef with him, you bring it up to him directly, and privately. You don't criticize him publicly. That's a no-no. Every military veteran we know, and every serving soldier we know, will not publicly criticize the president. They may not like him, and they may tell us that in private, but they're not going to go spouting off, in public, how much they dislike him. They understand the necessity for unanimity in the military and in the chain of command. They also understand that such things, when said in public, could very well affect the morale of soldiers they serve with or serve over. That is unacceptable. McChrystal should have known better, and apparently he didn't.

A court-martial would be in order. But his removal from command would be asinine. The pundits calling for his head need to shut up. A reprimand should be in his record, and that should be the end of this little issue. If the president demands his resignation, he's cutting off his nose to spite his face, and he's feeding his already overblown ego.

That won't serve the troops well in Afghanistan, nor will it win him any serious support (other than lip service) from the troops in the region that continue to fight this war.

Publius II

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reaction to Barry's lifeless, specificity-lacking speech

Presidents don't often get the chance to address the nation from the Oval Office. Those occasions are usually reserved for a national tragedy (a la the space shuttle Challenger blowing up in 1986), or for consoling the nation in the face of a serious tragedy (a la President Bush's address to America on 11 September). Barry's address last night was a serious let-down, and that's not just the reaction from those of us on the conservative side of the political spectrum. Andy Barr at Politico picks up on a couple instances where those on the Left tossed in their two cents worth, which was about how much the president's address was worth:

“Junk Shot,” blared the headline at Huffington Post. Salon took a similar theme: “Just words: Oval Office speech fizzles.” ...

“It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days,” said Olbermann on his show’s recap of the speech.

He noted that there was “not even much of a pitch for his own energy bill which, as he mentioned, was passed by the House, which he did not mention was stalled in the Senate and still sits there.”

“Nothing specific,” he added. “Nothing specific at all.”

Appearing with Olbermann, “Hardball” host Matthews said Obama fell short in showing the American public that he is in charge.

“I don’t sense executive command,” Matthews said.

Huffington Post, underneath a picture of Obama, linked to stories from its own writers on what he was “overlooking” and asking “what was the point of that terrible speech?”

Ouch. Granted, those opinions aren't as harsh as other ones. Take, for example, John Hinderacker's take on the speech at PowerLine. (HT to Hugh Hewitt.) Mr. Hinderacker is a lawyer, and takes a sharp scalpel to the president's speech:

I read President Obama's Oval Office speech at an airport gate rather than seeing it on television, so I might have misjudged its impact. But it struck me as uninspiring at best. Obama has been behind the curve ever since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, and over the last week or two he has transparently tried to stop the political bleeding with a series of symbolic acts. The problem is that these gestures won't do anything to contain the oil that is already swirling around the Gulf--currently spewing out at an upwardly-revised estimate of up to 60,000 barrels per day--and the environmental disaster will continue to unfold over the coming weeks and months regardless of what the federal government now does.

So nothing Obama says is likely to change the negative impression the public has already formed, rightly or not, of the administration's response to the spill. Residents of Louisiana, by a 50-35 margin,
rate the Obama administration's response worse than the Bush administration's performance on Hurricane Katrina.

It's hard to see how an Oval Office Speech could help much, even if it had not been pedestrian. In fact, the speech offered nothing new, and featured the same BP-bashing and pledges to unleash squadrons of lawyers to collect damages that already grate on most Americans. Obama doesn't seem to understand how hollow, and sometimes petulant, his vows to make BP pay sound.

But what struck me the most about tonight's speech is how dishonest Obama was. There is nothing new about this, but tonight's performance seemed to pack a lot of whoppers into a relatively small space. Here are a few:

I've talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don't know how they're going to support their families this year. I've seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers - even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I've talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists will start to come back. The sadness and anger they feel is not just about the money they've lost. It's about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.

I refuse to let that happen. Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness.

Two problems here. First, collecting money from BP won't restore the way of life that many on the Gulf fear is slipping away. Second, while human error no doubt played a role in the disaster, there is no evidence that BP was "reckless." As I noted yesterday, BP's market capitalization has declined by around 50 percent--$100 billion--as a result of the spill. By any rational measure, BP has been harmed more by the spill than anyone else, even Barack Obama. It serves no purpose to launch unsupported accusations of recklessness. One might say, on the contrary, that it is reckless to do so.

I'd cite the whole thing from Mr. Hinderacker, but I think you ought to go and read it for yourselves. It's lengthy, but he hammers the president on his whoppers, his twisting of facts, and more importantly he unloads on the president for the one thing that people down in the Gulf wanted to hear.

He offered no solution. He blasted British Petroleum again. And he basically offered up the idea of a carbon tax. Taxes are the last thing people in the Gulf wanted to here. Given the huge deficits the government is running up right now, the people have no more money to give to Uncle Sam, and if the Democrats go along with this they're finished in November. It's already apparent that they'll take a drubbing at the ballot box in November, but if they go along with the idea of adding another tax to our backs we'll make sure they don't see the slightest hint of power for the next decade.

Instead of speeches and more empty suit rhetoric this nation wanted to hear solutions to the problem. He gave none. As Keith Olbermann observed (cited above) there was nothing specific that he proposed to the nation. I'd add that people are also sick of him pointing fingers. He is the President of the United States, and at some point during his term in office (may it only be four years) he needs to stand up and be a leader. Since being inaugurated last January he has done what he did last night.

He voted present.

Publius II

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Observations on the continued Gulf oil spill circus ...

First off, Gallup has Barry's approval sitting at 46%. that's the lowest his numbers have been since being inaugurated last January, and back on 27 May, Gallup reported that a majority of Americans believed the government, led by Barry, had failed in containing this spill, and acting effectively to deal with it. Whether Barry and his sycophantic supporters want to believe it or not, this is THIS president's "My Pet Goat" moment, complete with the deer-in-the-headlights anxiety that we see from this administration. Now, what could I possibly mean by that? I defer to Thomas Sowell who sums this up perfectly:

Let's stop and think. Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or they don't. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out, for weeks on end? All they have to do is tell BP to step aside, while the government comes in to do it right.

If they don't know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP, the attorney general of the United States going down to the Gulf to threaten lawsuits - on what charges was unspecified - and President Obama showing up in his shirt sleeves?

Just what is Obama going to do in his shirt sleeves, except impress the gullible? He might as well have shown up in a tuxedo with white tie, for all the difference it makes.

This government is not about governing. It is about creating an impression. That worked on the campaign trail in 2008, but it is a disaster in the White House, where rhetoric is no substitute for reality.

If the Obama administration was for real, and trying to help get the oil spill contained as soon as possible, the last thing its attorney general would be doing is threatening a lawsuit. A lawsuit is not going to stop the oil, and creating a distraction can only make people at BP start directing their attention toward covering themselves, instead of covering the oil well.

If and when the attorney general finds that BP did something illegal, that will be time enough to start a lawsuit. But making a public announcement at this time accomplishes absolutely nothing substantive. It is just more political grandstanding.

This is not about oil. This is about snake oil.

Nothing will keep a man or an institution determined to continue on a failing policy course like past success with that policy. Obama's political success in the 2008 election campaign was a spectacular triumph of creating images and impressions.

But creating political impressions and images is not the same thing as governing. Yet Obama in the White House keeps on saying and doing things to impress people, instead of governing.

Hammer. Nail. Head. No one quite hits the target the way Dr. Sowell does, and he is spot-on in his assessment. Now, contrast the grandstanding with the real leadership from Governor Bobby Jindal; fed up with empty rhetoric from this administration:

Eight weeks into the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of the Mexico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has told the National Guard that there's no time left to wait for BP, so they're taking matters into their own hands.

In Fort Jackson, LA., Jindal has ordered the Guard to start building barrier walls right in the middle of the ocean. The barriers, built nine miles off shore, are intended to keep the oil from reaching the coast by filling the gaps between barrier islands.

Today, huge Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters lined up in the air, dropping sandbags one by one into the sea.

"They are lifting up about 7,000 pounds of sandbags," said 1st Lt. James Tyson Gabler.

We can understand the governor's frustrations with BP, but the facts still speak for themselves. Governor Jindal was told by the administration that he couldn't act to protect his shores until an environmental impact survey was conducted to see what effect, if any, the berms would have. The administration seemed more fixated on the damage that might potentially be done by constructing the berms to prevent the oil from washing ashore as opposed to the real damage the oil itself would do; this despite Governor Jindal's warnings about the environmental damage that would occur if the oil reached Louisiana.

Since this accident occurred, the president has been more concerned about rhetoric and image as opposed to action. As Dr. Sowell observes, the talking points and platitudes are great on the campaign trail, but being president means having to make decisions, sometimes tough ones, and rhetorical flourishes have no place in that office when action is demanded.

Michelle Malkin notes that Barry is catching flak for his poorly-chosen words comparing the Gulf oil spill to the 9/11 attacks. Now when we heard that, we were naturally ticked; angered by the misplaced allegory. But we were also amused that he would dare to compare his actions in this accident to that of President Bush in the aftermath of the worst attack on the United States, ever.

We can start with the basics such as the fact that Bush was at Ground Zero a couple short days after that attack whereas it took Barry ten days to even mention the accident, and another few days before he showed up down in Louisiana. The Left criticized Bush for not jumping up like Superman when he learned of the attacks, but they give Barry a pass for his nonchalant attitude regarding this accident. Bush's response was to go to Congress, and ask for a declaration of war. Barry declared war on the only entity qualified to handle the accident which was British Petroleum. And the list is seemingly endless. Oh, and Barry, the Brits aren't exactly happy with you making that comparison. They called the statement "cruel." Personally, we call it stupid, but that isn't exactly news concerning this administration. This administration has to be filled with some of the most inept, incompetent, ill-educated, non-common sense-minded people this nation has ever seen. Congrats guys, you managed to knock Jimmy Carter off the top of the list as the worst presidency ever in the history of the nation.

The Heritage Foundation has done yeoman's work in investigating what could and should be done to deal with this spill. What they reveal in this piece should have everyone -- regardless of whether or not you're an environmentalist or not -- spitting nails. The media has ignored this little fact, but not Heritage:

When the federal government isn’t sapping the initiative and expertise of local governments, it has been preventing foreign governments from helping. Just three days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Dutch government offered to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms and proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands. LA Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) supported the idea, but the Obama administration refused the help. Thirteen countries have offered to help us clean up the Gulf, and the Obama administration has turned them all down.

According to one Dutch newspaper, European firms could complete the oil spill cleanup by themselves in just four months, and three months if they work with the United States, which is much faster than the estimated nine months it would take the Obama administration to go at it alone. The major stumbling block is a protectionist piece of legislation called the Jones Act which requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. But, in an emergency, this law can be temporarily waived, as DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff did after Katrina. Each day our European allies are prevented from helping us speed up the cleanup is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die.

They refused the help. Barry is having more fun sucking up to tinhorn dictators and thugs than with accepting help from our allies. This administration has set US foreign policy back decades with its continued snubbing of our allies, from the Brits, to the Israelis, to the Iraqis, and now the Dutch; a nation willing to work in concert with a dozen other nations and the US in containing and cleaning up this mess.

But Barry & Company aren't interested. They're concerned with rhetoric, public image, and their agenda, and all of this garbage he's had to face since being inaugurated is a distraction; an interruption that prevents them from pushing their radical agenda forward. Funny thing about a president's agenda: They can get a decent amount of their agenda passed and enacted, but the real world tends to befuddle their plans and timetable. After all, Bush never wanted to be a wartime president, but he stepped up to the task when the decision hit his desk. Barry is still in the middle of voting "present" than making decisions.

Publius II

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Primary round-up

Last night was a big primary night around the country. We're pretty sure that more than a couple Democrats aren't pleased with who they're going to be facing this fall. Needless to say, the GOP women shined brightly last night in their wins:

Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, who ascended to the top of the business world before turning to politics, prevailed on Tuesday in their respective battles for the Republican nominations for the United States Senate and governor in California, setting the stage for costly general election fights this fall.

Ms. Fiorina, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, beat Tom Campbell, a former congressman, and Chuck DeVore, whose candidacy drew the backing of many Tea Party activists. She will face the incumbent senator, Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, in the fall.

Ms. Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay and a billionaire, had invested a small share of her personal fortune to prevail in the governor’s race over Steve Poizner, the state insurance commissioner, who put $24 million of his own money into his primary campaign. She will challenge Jerry Brown, the state’s Democratic attorney general, who was first elected governor of California three decades ago. ...

In a closely watched race in Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln survived a tough challenge from her party’s left wing to capture the Democratic nomination in a runoff primary election, resisting the anti-incumbent wave that has defined the midterm election year.

Mrs. Lincoln withstood a multimillion-dollar campaign against her from organized labor, environmental groups and liberal advocacy organizations from outside Arkansas as she prevailed over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She faces a difficult contest in the fall, but her victory challenges the suggestion that voters are poised to oust all officeholders.

“We proved that this senator’s vote is not for sale and neither is yours,” Mrs. Lincoln said. “We took on the outside groups seeking to manipulate our votes.”

It was the busiest primary day so far this year, a coast-to-coast series of contests that stretched from Maine to California and helped to decide which candidates will be on the general election ballot in races for governor, the House and the Senate.

Setting the stage for one of the more intriguing races this fall, Nevada Republicans chose Sharron Angle, a candidate backed by the Tea Party, to challenge Senator Harry Reid, the embattled Senate majority leader. Mr. Reid has emerged as a primary target of conservatives intent on dethroning key Democrats this year.

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley moved closer to becoming the first female governor of South Carolina as she strongly outpaced three Republican primary rivals in one of the nation’s most divisive contests. ...

Iowa Republicans nominated Terry Branstad, who served as the state’s governor from 1983 to 1999, to run again. He prevailed in a three-way primary and will face Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, in the fall.

In another South Carolina race, Representative Bob Inglis, a Republican who has occasionally broken with his party on national security and social issues, was forced into a runoff against Trey Gowdy.

In the only contest of the night that will send a new lawmaker to Congress, voters in the northwest corner of Georgia elected a former State House member, Tom Graves, to fill a House vacancy created when Representative Nathan Deal left to run for governor. It was a low-turnout election and is expected to be the last special Congressional election before November, meaning that any new vacancies will be filled on Nov. 2.

In Virginia, Robert Hurt, a state senator, easily won a contested Republican primary to challenge Representative Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat, in November. Mr. Perriello is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents because of his votes for both the Democratic health care bill and climate change measures.

What the Times failed to cover was that Jim DeMint won his primary in South Carolina, as well, putting to rest all of the critics saying he was done like dinner. Also, sadly, John Eastman came in second in the California AG race. While we would've liked to see him on the ballot in November, his half-million votes showed that he wasn't a flash in the pan, and many, many Californians that backed him were signalling that they wanted to see a serious change in the AG's office.

Anyone who thought that Ms. Whitman, Ms. Fiorina, and Ms. Angle didn't have a shot at winning, I hope you all enjoy the egg on your face. Both Whitman and Fiorina are going to be tough opponents for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, respectively. (If I were either of them, I'd be sitting down with my campaign staff today to devise a strategy. However, they'd be smart to remember both of these women are former CEOs -- captains of industry -- and they're extremely smart, savvy, and shrewd.)

On a lighter note, noted Birther, Orly Taitz, lost in her bid to be California's GOP nominee for Secretary of State. This loon is so out there she tried to get her opponent thrown off the ballot, using the argument he didn't file his registration by the deadline. Furthermore, if any of you happen to be fans of her, and are still holding out a glimmer of hope she can win any of her nutty Birther lawsuits in an effort to overturn the presidential election in 2008, you can forget it. She's been sanctioned by so many courts, forbidding her suits, that this should be the final nail in this woman's coffin, both politically and legally. And just as we shed no tears for Helen Thomas retiring, we shed no tears over this nutbag's loss.

Congrats to the winners. They have a long, tough slog ahead of them. We know Democrats aren't going to silently disappear into the night. They know that their political future this year doesn't look good. Between the anti-incumbent sentiment in the country, the ire the nation has towards congressional Democrats, and the constituents the so-called Blue Dogs lied to the Democrats could face a serious drubbing this November. The Cook Political Report's last numbers that I saw showed a significant shift in the House, with the GOP retaking it, and some heartbreakers in the Senate that will, at the very least, narrow the numbers. In short, November is going to turn this president into a eunuch. Barry will be forced to work with the GOP legitimately in an even-handed and honest fashion, or he'll be relegated to lame duck status.

Publius II

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

News for the day

Normally, I'd focus on one topic for a post, and leave it up for the day. However, I've decided to make a slight change in that. See, I'm a tad busy right now. I'm in the middle of writing a novel, and I need to focus a little more on that. But I don't want to neglect you, the reader, and I feel just simply putting up one post is doing exactly that. So, consider this your morning briefing.

First up, I'd like to say a couple things about the old witch that retired yesterday after she was dropped by her agency as a client. Neither of us are shedding tears that the Anti-Semitic old buzzard is gone. As far as we're concerned, she should have retired a couple decades ago. I remember first seeing Helen Thomas berating President Reagan's press secretary, Larry Speakes, over the Iran-Contra affair. We also will never forget the day that Tony Snow slammed the door on the Anti-Semitic old hag when she was criticizing the US's actions during the Israeli/Lebanon War in 2006. Good riddance to bad rubbish, and by all means Helen, DLTDHYWTGLSY. (I'd be remiss if I didn't note that a few of her colleagues weren't thrilled with her outspoken nature and apparent lack of objectivity. Of course, that's almost a pot and kettle moment, no?)

Second, Barry seems to be getting a tad angry over the criticism he's taking over the Gulf oil spill. (To be fair, he could've done something sooner, but he was too busy playing golf and having his entertainment nights at the White House to really give a rat's @$$ about a massive oil spill.) Last night he was interviewed by Matt Lauer and let this part of the exchange fly:

I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. And I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers so I know whose ass to kick.

Sorry Barry, but unlike you, the talking heads were all over this spill from "Day One." Most talking heads, and your looney tree-hugging special interests, were screaming at you to do something. In fact, one Day One, Mark Levin reminded listeners that under the Clean Water Act (passed by Congress, and signed by President Nixon that would've allowed Barry to federalize the spill, and begin clean-up) he was mandated to take action. But he didn't. Instead, he played the blame game, which is often the case in DC politics. He has blamed British Petroleum. He has blamed Governor Bobby Jindal for being a pain in his backside. He has blamed everyone except himself. It must be hard to kick that ass when one's head is so far up it.

Third, It's primary day across the country. Well, at least it's some serious primaries that people have been keeping a close eye on. And there's the run-off in Arkansas where it appears that Lt. Gov. Bill Halter might actually take out Blanch Lincoln. Again, good riddance. In California, the primaries are on who will have the honor of taking on Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown in November. Good luck to Meg Whitman. She can take out Governor Moonbeam Brown (he was a former governor, for those keeping track of history), and Good luck to either Chuck Devore or Carly Fiorina in their efforts to knock off Boxer. And good luck to Niki Haley in South Carolina. Forget the mudslinging crap coming from her opponents. She's leading her GOP opponents by close to 20 points. Kudos to all of the Nevada candidates, and whoever manages to win the primary -- Sharron Angle, Sue Lowden, or Danny Tarkanian -- Godspeed in removing Harry Reid from the US Senate. All in all, today will be an interesting day in America's political landscape, and hopefully on that has Democrats wetting their pants over who they'll have to face.

Fourth, Nancy Pelosi made an absolute fool of herself yesterday with a speech. See, she not only had to deal with a bunch of hecklers, criticizing her over a host of issues, but she decided to pull out the big guns and blame Republicans for the lack of action on the BP oil spill, and the outrageous deficits being run up by Congress. Um, Nancy, you and your cronies have been in charge of Congress since January of last year. Kind of hard to put the blame at the feet of the MINORITY party, don't you think?

Lastly, The Politico is reporting that Barry is reshaping the federal judiciary with an "unprecedented number" of female and minority nominees. Again, this shows the complete lack of attention the president has to the American electorate. The public doesn't give a rat's @$$ about the number of minority jurists on the federal bench; they want competent jurists that follow the rule of law, the US Constitution, and don't attempt to rewrite the bloody thing to suit social needs. In other words, they want originalist-minded jurists. They don't want judges that see things in the Constitution that aren't there. So, Barry can pat himself on the back for nominating minorities, but the public won't be pleased by his picks. All we need to do is look at his Supreme Court picks to see he clearly is pushing an agenda of judicial activism and social justice. Neither have a damn thing to do with interpreting the highest law in the land.

Publius II

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Former GOP backstabber now reveals he's "very lonely"

Who is this? Charlie Crist, that's who.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says it is “very lonely” running as an Independent.

Since he quit his party, Crist says he has discovered that people he thought were friends turned out to be only Republican friends who dropped Crist after he left the GOP.

Gee Charlie, it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact you lied, and stabbed the party in the back, would it? After all, you did tell voters you wouldn't run as an Independent and then less than a month later you reneged on that promise.

Crist has lost so many campaign staffers that his sister is now running his third-party effort.

“When you’re not affiliated with a party, it can be very lonely, particularly initially,” Crist told The Hill in an hourlong phone interview.

Still, he insists he has no regrets about his decision, and offered criticism for the GOP activists who took a stand against him after he supported President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.

“It just became increasingly apparent to me that a segment of the party was drifting so far to the right that it just wasn’t a place where I felt comfortable anymore,” Crist said.

Whoa. Just a second there, pal. You got the endorsement of the NRSC. And as to the stimulus argument, the GOP has been virtually lock-step together in opposing the federal funds being wasted by this administration. Those funds were supposed to have eased this recession, and they haven't. They were supposed to go for the creation of jobs, and they haven't. These funds haven't been spent wisely at all, and most of it is going straight to Barry's cronies who worked to get him elected. What's so extreme, so "far to the right" about opposing federal tax dollars being misspent?

“That level of acrimony and bitterness is what frustrates people today. There is this focus on being loyal to a party over the people, and it’s just wrong,” Crist said.

Crist won’t say which party he will caucus with in the Senate, if he is elected. When asked if he still considers himself a Republican, however, his answer is clearer: “I’m an Independent. I’ve changed my registration.”

That's Crist-speak for "I'll caucus with whichever party kisses my @$$." I'm serious, folks. Charlie Crist cares about one thing in this world -- himself. He proved that by breaking his promise to voters to run as a Republican. He proved it when he refused to give back campaign donations breaking a promise made just sixteen days prior.

Voters in Florida have seen Crist for what he is: a two-faced, backstabbing political hack that will say and do whatever he has to to get elected. Charlie Crist is lonely not because his "loyal" supporters abandoned him. He's lonely because he's burned so many damn bridges in Florida that even his most loyal supporters are fed up with him, his ego, and his antics. When he loses, and make no mistake he will lose, he's going to blame everyone around him. Instead of pointing fingers at others, maybe Charlie should take a look in the mirror. He should also do the voters in Florida a huge favor, and bow out of the race.

Finish out your term as governor Charlie. Shut up, and fade into obscurity. Don't worry. You'll still get noted in history; a footnote, mind you. You'll be remembered not as an also-ran, but as a never-was.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: It's actually a side note, and doesn't really affect Charlie Crist. (Well, unless he had a hand in this, that is.) Jim Greer, Charlie Crist's handpicked Florida GOP chairman, was arrested this morning:

The former chairman of the Florida Republican Party was arrested Wednesday, officials said, though they did not release the charges and there was no immediate word on whether they were linked to a probe of his finances.

Jim Greer, who had been handpicked to lead the state GOP by Gov. Charlie Crist, was arrested at his home near Orlando, Seminole County authorities said. …

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been investigating Greer since an audit found he awarded himself and his executive director a fundraising contract that paid them about $200,000.

The department declined to comment ahead of a news conference scheduled for later Wednesday morning.

Greer owned 60 percent of a corporation set up to raise money for the party and former party executive director Delmar Johnson owned the other 40 percent. That corporation got a 10 percent commission on money it brought in, the audit found.

HT to Captain Ed who notes that both Greer and Johnson are close allies to Charlie Crist. That fact, alone, should have Florida law enforcement taking a closer look at their ties to Crist just in case he might be caught up in this investigation.

Publius II

Say it ain't so!: More Census fraud

On the heels of my post yesterday citing James O'Keefe's investigative report on Census payroll fraud in New Jersey comes this report from Shaughn Adeleye at Big Government about more Census payroll fraud, this time in Louisiana:

From May 3rd to May 8th of this year, I worked for the United States Census Bureau in Lafayette, Louisiana. With the aid of a hidden camera, I witnessed and captured evidence of wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars–one systemic failure after another of this a Constitutionally mandated entity during a time of great recession and high unemployment.

The training course consisted of four three-hour days and one eight-hour day. I was paid for a total of 20.75 hours, 3.5 of which I did not work. I was paid with your money, money that was stolen from you.

On multiple occasions I was given three 15-minute breaks over the course of three hours and was instructed to fill out false ending times. When I confronted the supervisor about the discrepancy, she said she was just “giving us this time” and told me “I think you’re worrying over nothing.” At any business, this would be theft.

We were also coached to indicate government phone numbers were in fact our personal cell phone numbers (a blatant lie) in order to prevent people from calling and harassing us.

When I addressed what seemed to be a discrepancy on my form, I was told to not worry about it: “As long as you don’t have any major felonies or your fingerprints don’t come back as jack the ripper, you’ll be fine.” And yet sex offenders and rapists
find a way to squeeze through the government filter. If a business hired this way, they would be held criminally liable for the actions of their employees.

I had a payroll supervisor tell me not to worry about having been paid for hours I did not work: “I think you are just making a big deal out of it… I would just throw it away.” Yet within a few minutes I was told it was an offense worthy of termination.

I resigned prior to doing any of the enumeration work door-to-door. There have been
other reports around the nation of the systemic waste and abuse on the part of the United States Census. The nation sees it for what it is. It’s the same continual waste of taxpayer funds in a time of need, the fraud that frolics freely through our political landscape, and corruption that would rather see us silent and submissive. The media will say that all government steals, is inefficient, and wasteful, but during this time of budgetary crisis, when everyone else is asked to tighten their belts, Obama’s Census gets to lie, cheat, and steal as much as it can get away with. Obama moved control of the census to directly report to the White House, and yet the quality is dreadful. No one is accountable, no one takes any responsibility, and the media yawns while as much as a billion dollars is wasted.

This is what’s wrong with America.

Mr. Adeleye is quite correct. Since the Census was moved to the White House, it has been nothing more than a barrel of waste and abuse. But are we really surprised? After all, this is the most inept, incompetent, and hyper-partisan presidential administration since Jimmy Carter. (The only difference between Carter and Barry is that Carter didn't adhere to the unions as much as Barry has.)

And where is Congress? They are, after all, the body that should be doing the oversight on the Census. The Census may be routed through the White House, but it's Congress that ultimately spends the money to run the Census. Where are the watchers? This is preposterous to see the Census handled in this fashion, wasting our hard-earned dollars.

Additionally, with the discovery of this fraud, eyebrows should be raised when it comes to the data collected. After all, if these people can't manage their funds properly, then it stands to reason that they're not handling the data properly either. If anyone else is running an undercover operation like the one done by James O'Keefe and Shaughn Adeleye, don't quit after the training. Document everything that happens with the payroll, but we also need to see if supervisors are manipulating the data collected.

Let's see if we can blow this wide open. Payroll fraud is one thing, and heads should roll. But if it's discovered that data is being tainted by Census workers, then there should be criminal prosecution as well. Those in the administration that are overseeing the Census should be dragged in front of Congress for hearings into the malfeasance being perpetuated by Census workers.

Publius II

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

James O'Keefe strike again!

You all remember him, right? His investigative journalist pieces that crucified and crushed ACORN are legendary. He and Hannah Giles exposed ACORN for the corrupt organization that it is. (Yes, ACORN has reconstituted itself under a new banner. In California they are The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. In New York they are New York Communities for Change. And ACORN itself was renamed Community Organizations International. Thanks to Mr. O'Keefe's work, ACORN is dead, but not gone.)

Today, Mr. O'Keefe gives everyone a head's up on another story. This one involves the US Census in New Jersey. It's a story about the fraud going on behind the scenes there with the tax money we send to Washington, DC:

On April 27, 2010, I got a job with the United States Census Bureau in New Jersey. With a hidden camera, I caught four Census supervisors encouraging enumerators to falsify information on their time sheets. Over the course of two days of training, I was paid for four hours of work I never did. I was told to take a 70 minute lunch break, was given an hour of travel time to drive 10 minutes, and was told to leave work at 3:30pm. I resigned prior to doing any data collection but confronted Census supervisors who assured me, “no one is going to be auditing that that level,” and “nobody is going to be questioning it except for you.” Another Census supervisor only said he’d adjust my pay after I gave him a letter recanting my hours.

As to whether this is an “isolated incident” or if there are more Census videos showing more waste, fraud, and corruption, we’ll let you take a wild guess.

Given the fact that the Census is run by the federal government, this is hardly a surprise. Additionally, I doubt that this is an isolated incident. The nonchalant attitude about auditing not being done at the "street" level isn't surprising either. Washington, DC seems to have made a career out of wasting taxpayer dollars.

The downside of his reporting is that it doesn't deal with actually taking the data as a Census worker, or if there was any fraudulent tweaking of said data. Granted, this story is a fairly big one, especially if he can add more to this story, but it would've been a helluva lot bigger if he caught senior Census workers/supervisors fraudulently changing the data collected by other Census workers.

I'd love to see how far this story goes. His last series of stories brought down a corrupt community organizing group. Time will tell if the federal government audits it's actions, and deals with those who are wasting our money and committing fraud. My guess, as this story applies solely to New Jersey, a few Census supervisors are likely to be fired.

And this isn't the only story of Census fraud. There is this infamous story from 25 May 2010. It involves the Census cooking employment books to give the president some room on the unemployment numbers:

Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.

The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.

Below, I have a couple more readers who worked for Census 2010 and have tales to tell.

But first, this much we know.

Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired. That figure goes into the closely followed monthly employment report Labor provides. For the past two months the hiring by Census has made up a good portion of the new jobs.

Labor doesn't check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

One hour! A month! So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor. (I've been unable to get Census to explain this to me.)

Here's a note from a Census worker -- this one from Manhattan:

"John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census.

"I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.

"I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work.

"A few months ago I was trained for three days and offered five hours of work counting the homeless. Now, I am knocking (on) doors trying to find the people that have not returned their Census forms. I worked the 2000 Census. It was a far more organized venture.

"Have to run and meet my crew leader, even though with this rain I did not work today. So I can put in a pay sheet for the hour or hour and a half this meeting will take. Sincerely, C.M."

And here's another:

"John: I worked for (Census) and I was paid $18.75 (an hour) just like Ms. Naomi Cohn from your article.

"I worked for about six weeks or so and I picked the hours I wanted to work. I was checking the work of others. While I was classifying addresses, another junior supervisor was checking my work.

"In short, we had a "checkers checking checkers" quality control. I was eventually let go and was told all the work was finished when, in fact, other people were being trained for the same assignment(s).

"I was re-hired about eight months later and was informed that I would have to go through one week of additional training.

"On the third day of training, I got sick and visited my doctor. I called my supervisor and asked how I can make up the class. She informed me that I was 'terminated.' She elaborated that she had to terminate three other people for being five minutes late to class.

"I did get two days' pay and I am sure the 'late people' got paid also. I think you would concur that this is an expensive way to attempt to control sickness plus lateness. I am totally convinced that the Census work could be very easily done by the US Postal Service.

"When I was trying to look for an address or had a question about a building, I would ask the postman on the beat. They knew the history of the route and can expand in detail who moved in or out etc. I have found it interesting that if someone works one hour, they are included in the labor statistics as a new job being full.

"I am not surprised that you can't get any answers from Census staff; I found there were very few people who knew the big picture. M.G."

This is our tax dollars at work, folks. The Census is an important function of the federal government. Forget the federal money states get, and think more about the representation in Congress. This is how we determine that enumeration. And this administration, backed by bureaucratic red tape, is treating it like it treats everything else -- they act like an absentee landlord unfazed by the problems, but thrilled to be the focus of attention. I swear, based on these two stories, the Census appears to be as incompetent and narcissistic as the president is.

Publius II