A bad case of mission creep: The U.S. Secret Service

Secret Service BadgesThe United States Secret Service has been in the news with adverse publicity for the last several years. It might be time to take a hard look at this powerful agency and examine its various missions. It seems that since it was moved from the Treasury Department to Homeland Security bad things have been happening to the Secret Service.

First, a little background on the agency. The United States Secret Service was created by an act of Congress on July 5, 1865 as a division of the Treasury Department. Its first and only mission was the suppression of currency counterfeiters. The U.S. Marshals Service did not have the manpower to investigate all crime under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service began to investigate everything from murder to bank robbery to illegal gambling.

The division soon became a catch-all unit for everything from domestic intelligence to counterintelligence. After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Congress informally requested that the Secret Service provide presidential protection. A year later, the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for presidential protection.

They shed some of these responsibilities when the Federal Bureau of Investigation was created in 1908.  Many of the agency’s missions were later taken over by subsequent agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Marshal Service(USMS), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Currently, the Secret Service has responsibilities that include:

  • Financial Crimes, covering missions such as prevention and investigation of counterfeiting of U.S. currency and U.S. treasury securities, and investigation of major fraud.
  • Protection, which entails ensuring the safety of current and former national leaders and their families, such as the President, past presidents, vice presidents, presidential candidates, visiting heads of state, and foreign embassies.

The first questions that need to be asked are: Should the Secret Service be split into two since the two missions are totally unrelated? Should the Financial Crimes unit be returned to its rightful place at the Treasury Department where coordination with the other financial agencies would be closer?

This seems like a no-brainer in terms of organizational efficiency but quite often efficiency is not what government does best. I suspect that the higher-ups at the Secret Service would fight any change that diminishes their power. It would probably hold true for entrenched bureaucrats at Homeland Security who might see it as threat to their department. But that’s another post for another day.

The main area of mission creep has come about in the Protection Division. Where once they were assigned to protect the President and his immediate family, the division now protects almost every high federal official. Here’s the list of current protectees:

  • The President, the Vice President (or other officer next in the order of succession to the Office of President, should the vice presidency be vacant), the President-elect, and the Vice President-elect
  • The immediate families of the above individuals
  • Former Presidents and their spouses for their lifetimes except when the spouse divorces or remarries. From 1997 until 2013, legislation became effective limiting Secret Service protection to former Presidents and their spouses to a period of 10 years from the date the former President leaves office. President Barack Obama signed legislation reversing this limit and reinstating lifetime protection on January 10, 2013.
  • The widow or widower of a former President who dies in office or dies within a year of leaving office for a period of one year after the President’s death (the Secretary of Homeland Security can extend the protection time)
  • Children of former Presidents until age 16 or 10 years after the presidency.
  • Former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and their children under age for up to 6 months from the date the former Vice President leaves office (the Secretary of Homeland Security can extend the protection time)
  • Visiting heads of states or governments and their spouses traveling with them,
  • Other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad, as directed by the President
  • Major presidential and vice presidential candidates
  • The spouses of major presidential and vice presidential candidates (within 120 days of a general presidential election)
  • Other individuals as designated per executive order of the President
  • National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security

In today’s era of terrorists blanket protection seems necessary but the Secret Service has perhaps carried things too far. I have a real problem with protecting major presidential and vice presidential candidates plus their families. These modern campaigns raise enough money to pay for their own protection and they should.

Currently, Hillary Clinton who is running a stealth campaign for the Presidency has Secret Service agents protecting her while shew’s on her nation-wide book tour. Can you image what that costs? Her husband is also protected by the Secret Service while he travels around the country campaigning and making speeches. It also holds true for George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. Can’t they afford their own protective details rather than making the taxpayers foot the bill.

Plus, there are a number of other individuals and events that can be designated for protection by the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Secret Service protection has become a sign of power in Washington and it needs to be investigated by Congress.

Are lies and racism the Democrats last ditch tactics?

If you tell a lie...It has started to dawn on the Democrats that they are going to get another ‘shellacking’ on Election Day. They have now turned to their last ditch tactics: lies and charges of racism. And remember they are very good at both.

In North Carolina a flyer was found on cars parked at a Fayetteville, NC church for Sunday service. The flyer had a picture of a lynching. The words on top of the picture were Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) Doesn’t Win. Obama’s Impeachment will Begin!”

The Hagan campaign has yet to denounce this blatant effort at fear-mongering based on race. And they won’t because the Democrats see it as ‘good’ politics. They will press this for all its worth because if they black vote doesn’t go their way they’re toast on Election Day.

In one neat package you have the Big Lie and Race. Striking fear into the hearts of African-American voters has been a Democrat tactic for almost 50 years. The message is simple: ‘If you don’t vote for us, the Republicans will take all of your rights away’.

According to Erick Erickson the tactic was used in Georgia in 1998. Two weeks before the Georgia general election, flyers began circulating in black communities around metro Atlanta with pictures of burning crosses and KKK members. The text in the flyers claimed Georgia would see a return to that if black voters did not vote, especially if they didn’t vote for Democrats.

According to Erickson the hyperbole reached a low point when just a few years ago, Congressman Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and then Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta participated in an advertisement for John Eaves, the Democrats’ candidate for Chairman of the Fulton County Commission. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) claimed that if Eaves lost, Republicans in charge would be more dangerous than fighting off firehoses and “the dogs in the street” in the Civil Rights era.

And now the Democrats have their backs to the wall. If they lose the Senate then Obama’s Presidency is all but over. He must cooperate with a Republican Congress in order to accomplish anything. He can only push the executive order thing so far before the Republicans react with vehemence.

The possibility of Joint Committees of Investigation must chill the members of the Obama administration to their marrow. Everything from Fast & Furious to Benghazi to the IRS will be under the microscope. And the ultimate aim will be indictments for those who transgressed and lied about it.

Over the next two weeks expect a full court press by Democrats as the spew lies and accusations of racism against any and all Republican opponents. With or without it they stand to lose 6 to 10 seats in the Senate. Brace yourselves.

The New Domino Theory

The New Domino TheoryThose of us of a certain age will remember the famous domino theory of power politics in Asia during the 1960s. The theory basically said that we needed to stop the Communists from gobbling up the countries of Southeast Asia by setting a red line, if you will, in South Vietnam. The red line cost us over 54,000 killed with many more wounded.

We lost that war because support on the homefront collapsed after the Tet offensive which we actually won inflicting over 50,000 dead on the Viet Cong insurgents. But this what Ho Chi Minh wanted. We killed a good portion of the Viet Cong which cleared the way for the North to eventually sweep the country in 1975.

Thousands of South Vietnamese fled their homeland but found a new one right here. Unfortunately, things did work out so well for the Cambodians or the Laotians. The murderous Pol Pot took over Cambodia. The combined effects of executions, forced labor, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population. In all, an estimated 1 to 3 million people (out of a population of slightly over 8 million) died due to the policies of his four-year premiership.

The Laotians suffered the same fate. From 1953 until 1975 Laos was the scene of a civil war between the Communist Pathet Lao (including many North Vietnamese of Lao ancestry) and the Royal Lao Government in which both the political rightists and leftists received heavy external support for a proxy war from the global Cold War superpowers.

Perhaps the most dramatic event that took place during the takeover of Laos by the Communists was the evacuation of the Hmong tribes from the country. The communist Pathet Lao had threatened to exterminate them “to the last root.” CIA case officer Jerry Daniels organized an airlift of 3,500 Hmong leaders and their families from Laos to Thailand . Eventually, an additional 40,000 Hmong walked overland to freedom in Thailand and ultimately to the United States.

History has a way of repeating itself. The left has always denied the validity of the domino theory but now their denials have become fainter as we are seeing it happen again. But this time the dominoes have begun falling not by the actions of our enemies but actions that are being carried out by an American President, Barack Obama.

Obama was elected as an anti-war candidate who promised to end the war on terror and remove all of our troops from the Middle East. He wanted to change the domestic policies in America without the distractions of foreign adventures. After all, how would he pay for his domestic policies while our military was spending vast amounts of money overseas?

At first he attempted to close our prison at Guantanamo Bay and move the terrorists to prisons in the continental United States. He was thwarted by both the Congress and public opinion.

He then began a legalistic game with the Prime Minister of Iraq over the status of forces agreement for American troops who would remain in Iraq. President George W. Bush had signed an agreement that called for the removal of all U.S. troops by December 31, 2011. The Obama administration insisted on a new agreement that needed to be ratified by the Iraqi Parliament. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that he could sign for Iraq but Obama insisted on a positive vote from the Parliament. When it was not accomplished all U.S. troops were removed from the country.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan the very same train of events began to start but fortunately we had willing partners who have signed a status of forces agreement with the complete approval of their leaders.

In North Africa Obama saw an opportunity of ridding the world of a number of dictators. He practically forced our former ally Hosni Mubarak from power only to see him replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. We have now come full circle with a new military commander as President of Egypt. Except now the Russians have moved into a position of importance in this most important of Arab nations.

In Libya we joined our allies but not in a lead position to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi. The result is a failed state and four dead Americans in Benghazi. The Syrian red line on chemical weapons proved to be a threat that he didn’t carry out. He finally outsourced the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile to the Russians.

Meanwhile like a kettle waiting to boil ISIS began to build an army in western Syria. Using money generated from captured oil fields ISIS began to steamroll their enemies to a point that the now hold vast stretches of Syria and Iraq. They have captured most of Iraq’s Anbar province with its oil fields. THe oil wealth has been turned into $100 million a month in revenue. They captured large amounts of Iraqi military equipment that had been given to them by the United States. They even captured jets and other military aircraft.

They now style themselves the Islamic State and they have challenged all comers to attack them. But Obama has drawn a new red line in the sands of the Middle East. He has proclaimed that no American ground troops will be used against the Islam State, only air power. Where did he get his military education? Oh yes, he doesn’t have one. The United States is in the hands of an ungifted amateur and many will die because of him as the dominoes continue to fall.

 

 

The War on the First Amendment

The ConstitutionThe Framers of the Constitution felt that certain rights were so important to Americans that the enshrined them in the first ten amendments and named them the Bill of Rights. Yet, many of today’s politicians, particularly those on the left, see them as limiting the power of government.

Well, that was exactly the point of the Framers. These men were extremely suspicious of an all-powerful central government. After all, they had battled the British government to gain their freedom and feared an attempt by the same government to reclaim the colonies. The Bill of Rights made it very clear to both internal and external enemies that the freedoms that were won were not bestowed by a government but by God.

The most important amendment was the first one and it couldn’t be clearer. Here is the text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yet, there are those in our modern society who see the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as irrelevant because as Ezra Klein, then of The Washington Post said:

The issue with the Constitution is not that people don’t read the text and think their following. The issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago and what people believes it says differs from person to person.

If this is the baloney that they’re teaching in America’s schools and universities then we are truly in trouble. Klein is a graduate of some of the country’s best schools and yet he couldn’t even place the writing of the Constitution in the right century. Can you imagine asking the same question of those who haven’t had his opportunities.

Which brings us to the War on the First Amendment. During the years of the Obama administration we have seen a concerted effort by groups both inside and outside of government to weaken the First Amendment.

The most current attempt is the fishing expedition that is being carried out by Houston city government against certain church pastors who are unhappy with a recent ordinance passed by the city council.

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court. This is just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.

Apparently, the Houston city government needs to go back to school on the First Amendment. The rights under the First Amendment are absolute. There can be no curtailment or modification of them by anyone. The courts have ruled innumerable times that the word Congress also covers every other governmental organization, be it federal, state or local.

But they’re only following the lead of the Obama administration which has attempted to curtail freedom of religion with the Obamacare contraception mandate. Facing off on the issue is the massive federal establishment against the Little Sisters of the Poor. That’s right it’s David versus Goliath and David might win again.

The fact that everyday Americans have to resort to the courts in order to defend and uphold their rights bodes ill for America. It leads me to believe and rightly so that respect for the United States Constitution and our other institutions are at an all-time low. Our schools and universities spend next to no time teaching the Constitution and our other Founding Documents.

The current administration sees the Bill of Rights as a negative rather than a positive. By allowing these freedom to exist and be exercised the Bill of Rights restrains them from running roughshod over American’s rights. And that’s what they were intended to do. But don’t get me started on the Fourth Amendment.

Desperation Thy Name Is Democrat

To do list PanicToday marks three weeks until the mid-term elections and the Democrats are beginning to panic. From the President on down to the local organizers fear is in their eyes. Fear of a Republican takeover of the Senate. Fear of an increased Republican majority in the House. And fear of increasing Republican control of state governments.

For the Republicans: don’t become too giddy with impending victory and snatch defeat from its jaws. For the Democrats: grit your teeth and take the whipping that you deserve. It is now clear to most of the country that Barack Obama is not up to the toughest job in the world. Sure, he seems to be a loving husband and father but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to separate Obama the Chicago politician from Obama the National Leader.

It’s not easy doing that but in order to be a great President it’s imperative. Jimmy Carter never stopped being a micro-manager and he’s considered one of the worst President’s that we’ve ever had. On the other hand even Democrats will grudgingly admit that Ronald Reagan transcended the Hollywood actor in him to become one of the top five Presidents that we’ve ever had in the United States. The judgement of history will be pretty harsh on Barack Obama.

The Obama administration has governed for nearly six years and it’s time once again to be judged by the voters. All of the House seats are up for grabs while a number of Senate seats are also in the election mix. And things don’t look good for the President’s Party.

In order to gain control of the Senate, the Republicans must gain six seats, giving them a one vote majority. A victory will enable them to organize the Senate, control the bills that will be voted on and generally hold a hammer over the White House. So, let’s look at their chances.

There are 33 seats up for election. According to Politico five are Safe Democrat, 4 are Likely Democrat and 2 are Leans Democrat. On the other side of the equation 4 are Leans Republican, one is likely Republican and 12 are Safe Republican. One state, Louisiana, is rated as a toss-up because of its jungle primary and Alaska is also in this category. In Kansas incumbent Pat Roberts (R) is running against Independent Greg Orman and the race is even.

In order to gain control of the Senate the Republicans have to hold all of their seats. They need to win in South Dakota, Alaska, West Virginia and Montana where Democrats currently hold seats. They are currently leading in all of these states. The also need to win in Louisiana where it’s a three-way race with two Republicans running against incumbent Mary Landrieu. If that race isn’t decided on Election Day then there will be a runoff.

Predictions range from 5 to 10 Republican pickups and here’s where the Democrats desperation might hurt them. In the Texas governor’s race Wendy Davis who is trailing by as much as 11 points her campaign recently put out an ad that highlighted her opponent Greg Abbott’s use of a wheel chair.

An outside liberal organization just began running an ad that essentially blames the U.S. government’s failure to cure Ebola on the Republicans. The ad called Republican Cuts Kill claims that every cut in the CDC’s budget was the fault of Republicans. This despite the fact that the sequestration was put forward by the Democrats, approved by a Democrat Senate and signed into law by a Democrat President. This is the Big Lie technique carried to its extreme.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, in January the CDC won in the budget deal for the current fiscal year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will see an 8.2 percent budget increase for fiscal 2014, thanks to a $1.1 trillion spending bill announced by Congress Jan. 13.

But not just that. There was also this nugget of news:

This influx of cash will raise the CDC budget to $6.9 billion, which is $567 million more than it received in 2013. This is more than the agency anticipated, because the president’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for it was just $6.6 billion — a decrease of $270 million from fiscal 2012.

The Democrats will do anything to win. Even lie. Let them know on Election Day that this is unacceptable in a free society and vote them out.

 

 

 

Ebola and ISIS: Obama’s Twin Problems

Ebola victimEverything that wrong with the Obama Presidency and its failures can be summed up in two words: Ebola and Isis. All of the scandals, crises and controversies pale by comparison.

The stimulus was a huge waste of money but we can recover from the wasted money and time. Our economy is resilient enough to recover from a disaster caused by an incompetent President. Ronald Reagan proved that when he cleaned up all of Jimmy Carter’s mistakes, fixed the U.S. economy and pushed the Soviets into the dustbin of history.

Obamacare is an ongoing train wreck but with fewer than 8 million people signed up its best days are past. Once the Republicans take control of the levers of power changes will be made and eventually it will fade from importance. The health care system will be healed and Americans will return to normalcy.

The IRS scandal is still ongoing and again when the Republicans control the Senate they can get to work and dig up the real truths about the actions that the tax agency illegally took against American citizens. Those who were responsible will be punished.

All of Obama’s other issues will be dealt with in due time to the satisfaction of the American people, one way or another. They will have to be dealt with because the American people are at an end point of their patience with governing elites.

But the twin menaces of Ebola and ISIS loom in our national consciousness on a daily basis. They dominate the news despite attempts by the liberal media to paper them over with ‘happy talk’ news stories. I always find it interesting to view their sites and see what they consider a priority in news and information. But these two stories are so huge that they can’t be kept off the top headline for long.

Ebola is a silent menace.So far the Obama administration and the CDC have fumbled the response. Obama assured the American people that it would never reach our shores, until we brought several American home for treatment. Well, after all they were Americans. Then, Thomas Duncan showed up at a Dallas hospital, was turned away and then was returned there to eventually. One of his nurses tested positive. We have inadequate vaccines and a long lead time for ISIS executionsmore.

What if Ebola mutates into an airborne virus? They do that, you know. The effects would be catastrophic. One cough and an entire room of people would be infected. Millions could die before we get enough vaccines to wipe it out. Meanwhile in West Africa 3,000 America soldiers are at risk in the contamination zone with more on the way. What are their risks? Don’t lie to us Mr. President.

Which bring us to the real threat to us, our society and our very civilization: ISIS, or if you prefer ISIL or the Islamic State. This rampant form of radical Islam is prepared to kill everyone in their way. Yet, we sit here dispatching troops, even medical ones, to West Africa. Our so-called air war is a farce with pinprick airstrikes against solitary pickup trucks, buildings and APCs. At this rate they’ll have taken over most of Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East in no time.

Meanwhile, our so-called allies are calculating how they can do the least while profiting the most. War is bad for business and like us the Arab oil countries have become proficient at kicking the can down the road. Turkey, another reluctant ally, is profiting by the transshipment of captured crude oil to the world markets. This money is being used by ISIS to enlarge their military by hiring more soldiers.

And while all of this is taking place Barack Obama continues to raise funds for the Democrats, play golf and make pronouncements on subjects that in the big scheme of things are nowhere near as important as Ebola and ISIS. On Election Day send him a message: either suck it up or resign.

 

 

The Campaign Clinton meets the Real Clinton

Hillary Clinton at UNLVWhen Hillary Clinton left her post as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State on Feb 1, 2013 it was assumed by all that she would run for the Presidency in 2016. Pundits on both sides predicted that she would have an unobstructed procession to the Democrat nomination and then up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Oval Office.

The Ready for Hillary organization sprang up throughout the length and breadth of America. Confidence was high. Money was being raised. Mrs. Clinton began touring the country to promote her new book, Hard Choices.

But niggling questions began to crop up while this triumphal parade wended its way across country. Unbiased reviewers had harsh things to say about her book. They claimed that it didn’t really say anything hard. It seemed to book a book that was written by a committee (it probably was) and its main goal was not to offend anyone.

Then, there was the television interview from a normally sympathetic Diane Sawyer of ABC News during which Mrs. Clinton claimed that when the Clintons left the White House:

You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education. It was not easy. Bill has worked really hard. And it’s been amazing to me. He’s worked very hard.

Left unsaid was the fact that they had the financial wherewithal to purchase two homes, one in Chappaqua for $1.7 million, the other in Washington for $2.85 million. They sent their daughter Chelsea to Stanford University, a school with a cost at the high end of the scale.

Then, critics began to question the extremely high speaking fees that Mrs. Clinton was receiving from all manner of organizations and universities. UCLA paid her $300,000. UNLV forked over $225,000 despite protests from the student body. Goldman Sachs paid Mrs. Clinton $400,000 for two speeches. And the list goes on.

The drumbeat became so loud that the Clinton’s tried to turn it to their advantage. They announced that all of the former first lady’s speaking fees would go to The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation. Earth to Clintons. Do we look stupid? All of her stealth campaign aides and their expenses are paid for by the foundation. The speaking fees are no more than an under-the-table campaign contribution to the Hillary for President stealth campaign.

Many liberal and progressive activists don’t trust Clinton because they think she sides with big banks and big money instead of the middle class and they’re wary of her on national security.

“If there was an actual, authentic ‘I am going to listen to you about your issues’ from Clinton, instead of kind of pounding the drum of inevitability and stampeding over the left on her way to assumed victory, that would be effective,” said Sally Kohn, a progressive activist, CNN contributor and Clinton critic. Until then, the trust deficit between Clinton and the left of her party will grow, Kohn and other liberals predict.

Activists point to Clinton’s voting record in the Senate, where she voted to authorize the Iraq war and increase domestic surveillance. They say that and decisions her husband made while president, like the Defense of Marriage Act and the authorization of the North American Free Trade Agreement, give her little street cred among liberals and populists.

Possibly the biggest concern among liberals is Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street, their big bogeyman. Since leaving the State Department in 2013, she has spoken at events sponsored by Wall Street giants like Fidelity, Goldman Sachs and Ameriprise Financial, and during her Senate runs and 2008 presidential run, Clinton defended lobbyists.

“I don’t think she has been aggressive on the banks,” said Nelini Stamp, a progressive political organizer from New York. “When I think of Hillary Clinton, I actually think she is in bed with some of the banks and Wall Street is her ally.”

Mrs. Clinton has begun to use populist rhetoric in her speeches. Clinton told an audience at the liberal New American Foundation in May that “the dream of upward mobility that made this country a model for the world feels further and further out of reach” and because of that, “many Americans understandably feel frustrated, even angry.”

But is she just saying what people want to hear in order to get elected? You decide.

The Medicaid Expansion Shell Game

The Medicaid Expansion Shell GameFor those who have never seen a street shell game it goes like this. The operator places a coin under a shell and proceeds to move it around so fast that the majority of players never win. He then scoops up the money and calls for the next victim.

We’re seeing the same kind of scam taking place with Medicaid expansion. The Obama administration has touted Medicaid Expansion as almost free money for the states who have enrolled in the program. Uncle Sam would pay the entire expansion cost for two years and never less than 90 percent in the future.

But nothing is ever free. If you paid federal taxes then you will pay for the Medicaid Expansion program. Most opponents of the program have missed the main point. They say that the government can’t be trusted to continue to pay their share. But ‘their’ share is really ‘our’ share. It’s as if they think that the funding comes from another dimension. Well, it doesn’t. It comes from the paychecks of hardworking Americans.

So now that we’ve established that it’s our money let’s look at bigger parts of the federal shell game.

When the Democrat Congress passed and Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill in 2009, its original intent was to pump up the U.S. economy; to help it recover from the recession. After all the bill was named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 wasn’t it?

The three immediate goals of the Recovery Act were:

  • Create new jobs and save existing ones
  • Spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth
  • Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending

The Recovery Act intended to achieve those goals by providing funding for:

  • Tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses
  • Funding for entitlement programs, such as unemployment benefits
  • Funding for federal contracts, grants and loans

But it hardly put a dent in the recession and here’s why. The states and local governments took the money and used it to close budget gaps. They used it to continue paying for unnecessary programs and unnecessary job positions. In a word they maintained the status quo rather than cut a new path to prosperity.

We should have known that was going to happen because the big banks and financial institutions did much the same thing with the billions in TARP funding that they received. Some of them didn’t need the money but were literally locked in a conference room at the Treasury Department by then-Secretary Henry Paulson until they accepted funding. They took the money, invested it and when the time came paid it back with interest, making a handsome profit at the same time.

So now we have the latest attempt at a shell game, this time by hospitals and medical centers. Under Obamacare their Medicare reimbursement has been cut severely. Many hospitals have slipped into the red and are desperate to close budget shortfalls with new Medicaid money. Democrats have strongly supported the expansion, arguing, in part, that it would ease losses hospitals suffer from treating indigent patients. But the hospitals, mostly in rural areas, also blamed declining patient populations and lower Medicare payments.

Various news releases from around the country in the 23 states that have rejected Medicaid Expansion blame this for hospital job cuts. In Virginia, some 405 employees have lost their jobs at a total of 13 hospitals and medical centers. That’s an average of about 31 per location.

The institutions saw Medicaid Expansion as their pot of gold. It would close their budget shortfalls and enable them to continue to function in much the same manner. In a word, they would maintain the status quo.

In a news release about closing Lee Regional Medical Center in Southwest Virginia, Wellmont attributed the cause to “reimbursement cuts associated with the Affordable Care Act, extremely low community use of the hospital and a lack of consistent physician coverage.”

It should be noted that rural hospitals across the country were in financial trouble long before Obamacare became part of our lexicon, facing shrinking patient populations and under pressure to shorten hospital stays. The Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found in a 2003 report that 208 rural hospitals closed from 1990 to 2000. The report has not been updated.

In Virginia, the Democrat Party has accused the Republicans of causing the hospital closures because they didn’t agree to Medicaid Expansion. But Virginia Republicans get it. They understand that Medicaid Expansion is paid for with ‘our’ money not ‘their’ money. They understand that hospitals and medical centers will use a portion of the money to maintain their status quo. And who will get the short end of the stick? Why those who need it the most: medicaid patients.

But don’t let your guard down because Obamacare supporters are relentless and won’t give up trying to get more of ‘our’ money.

 

Obama’s Huge Tactical Error

Obama-PinocchioYesterday while he was speaking at the Kellogg School of Business of Northwestern University, Barack Obama made the biggest tactical error of this election cycle. After listing his dubious accomplishments he made this 28-word statement that must have Democrat candidates holding their heads in the hands and wondering if the President has a death wish for the Democrat Party.

“I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

With that statement Obama took the midterm elections from the ‘All elections are local’ focus to a national referendum on his policies and his leadership. Has he looked at any of the polling lately. On every facet of his policies he is polling at about 50-55% disapproval with about 35-38% approval. His handling of the economy, Ukraine, ISIS, etc. You name his ratings are in the tank.

With the looming possibility of a massive Democrat defeat on election day, this was not the time to let his ego override his political sense. The crazy thing is that his staff obviously agrees with him on this approach. Led by Valerie Jarrett, his eminence grise, he lies about almost everything and they swear to it.

Obama actually said in his speech that the Affordable Care Act was bringing down the cost of healthcare. Of course, he was preaching to his acolytes at Northwestern. They all nodded their approval and clapped at the appropriate pauses.

But tell that to the folks who are being told that their policies are being cancelled or the people who have seen premium increases from 10 to 25% or higher. The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare if you prefer has done nothing for the cost of healthcare. It has hardly put a dent in the tens of million uninsured. At least half of those who were forced into purchasing a policy already had one that was cancelled because of the one size fits all requirements of the act. Rather than more for less, we have gotten less for more.

In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press the President made this contradictory statement about the economy after discussing a number of pressing issues: ISIL, Ebola, immigration and the midterm elections. He then talked about the economy and how things were looking up, ticking off a number of points most of which he had nothing to do with. He then admitted that the middle class has taken a beating and still haven’t recovered.

In essence, the President wants the cake of credit for a booming stock market but doesn’t want to accept the bitter pill that it has been created by zero interest rates from the Federal Reserve. He wants to take the credit for a booming energy sector but not the blame for excessive regulations that have stifled even more energy growth. His typical approach of half-truths and lies shines through in every statement that he made.

With his nationalization of the midterm elections he has allowed his massive ego to take him to a place where he could possibly lead his party to a massive wave election for Republicans. And here’s my final thought. He has become energized and will run all over the country campaigning for people who up to now have been able to avoid his lethal embrace. As a Republican I can’t wait for election day to watch this egotist eat crow.

The City of No Consequences

US CapitalRonald Reagan called the United States the City on the Hill. But things have changed since then. Washington D.C. has become the city of no consequences. It certainly has lived up to its nickname over the last several years. But before we look at the current issues let’s take a look at some of the previous actions by those in the Obama administration that resulted in no consequence. After all, we have plenty of scandals to pick from.

We need to go all the way back to 2009 and look at Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF gunwalking scandal. We all know how the Justice Department and their Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division ran a gunwalking operation out of the Phoenix, Arizona office. Over the course of the two-year operation ATF agents purposely allowed thousands of guns to be sold to individuals that they believed would get them into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

In the course of this disaster Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered and two guns from the operation were found at the scene of the crime. Mexican authorities were never notified of the operation and later identified several Mexican law enforcement personnel that were killed by Fast and Furious guns.

No here’s the real kicker. Attorney General Eric Holder denied any knowledge of the operation despite emails that were sent to him and which updated him. Documents show that Attorney General Holder’s office had been sent briefings on Fast and Furious as early as July 2010.

In June of 2011, ATF Agent Vince Cefalu, who helped to publicize Fast and Furious, was served with termination papers, in a move by the agency he described as politically motivated retaliation. He had been at odds with ATF management since he filed a complaint over tactics in an unrelated case in 2005. The ATF denied that the firing was retaliation, and Cefalu’s termination letter noted that he leaked documents to the Internet and showed a “lack of candor” in other operations.

In August, three important Fast and Furious supervisors were transferred to new management positions at ATF headquarters in Washington: William Newell and David Voth, field supervisors who oversaw the program from Phoenix, and William McMahon, an ATF deputy director of operations. The transfers were initially reported as promotions by the Los Angeles Times, but the ATF stated that they did not receive raises or take on greater responsibilities. 

In late August, it was announced that Acting ATF Director Melson had been reassigned to the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney Burke announced his resignation after being questioned by Congressional investigators earlier that month. Fast and Furious was a classic case of punishment of the innocents and praise for those who covered up the operation.

Let’s move along to the Veterans Affairs scandal. For years Veterans Hospital have been rigging the appointments for veterans by maintaining two lists. When a veteran called for an appointment they were put on a secret list.

For nearly a decade, reports from the VA Office of Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office and whistle-blowers warned the VA and Congress about mismanagement and long wait-times at the VA. Some even noted that the VA’s wait-time statistics were suspect and that bureaucrats were “gaming the system” to make it appear veterans were getting timely medical care when, in many cases, they were not. A December 2012 GAO report said “outpatient medical wait-times … are unreliable.”

To date the only person to lose his job was Secretary Eric Shinseki who inherited this mess. Three other high bureaucrats also resigned. None of those who carried out the VA shell game have been fired. The Feds excuse: it’s very difficult to fire people, even if they’re incompetent.

Then, of course, we have the IRS targeting scandal of Tea Parties and conservative groups. So far the IRS has managed to stonewall Congressional committees with the IRS Director John Koskinen adroitly deflecting any and all questions.

The person at the center of the scandal Lois Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination on two occasions, despite making an opening statement that negated that right according to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). She then retired with a lifetime pension that could be as much as $102,600 per year. This after receiving as much as $177,000 while she was on leave. What a deal!

The two latest no consequence scandals involve the Secret Service and ISIS. Let’s look at the Secret Service scandal first. There have been a series of Barney Fife-like screwups on the part of the units that protect the President, his family and other high officials. We’ve had fence jumpers at the White House, one of who made it as far as the Green Room in the mansion. The dogs were not released nor was the door locked.

Then, we found out that a former felon with a gun was on the elevator with the President at the CDC in Atlanta. The Secret Service was unaware that the security contractor had been convicted of three felonies.

Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, had no reasonable explanation to the Congressional committee that grilled her. This afternoon she offered the President her resignation and he accepted it. She then took her pension and retired.

Finally, we have the whole ISIS intelligence fiasco. The President clearly blamed the intelligence community starting with the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for not keeping him informed on the seriousness of the situation. Meanwhile, leakers from intelligence sources say that the President was informed as far back as 2012 about the growing threat of ISIS.

It’s a classic case of he said-he said. Who do you believe?

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