Friday, September 9, 2016

September, 2016, Part 5, Political Class Insanity: Sexual Harassment at the EPA, Taxpayer Wealth to Morocco, A Guilty Politician and More

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

The current monthly record for the number of days needed to cover one month's worth of insanity is ten. We almost equaled that record last month when we needed nine days to cover one month’s worth of political class insanity. There is a very good chance that the ten day record could fall this month since as we get closer and closer to the election, the volume of ineptness grows almost exponentially. 

But today and for all of the posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson. Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy."

He then burst out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) We have often discussed what a sorry state the Pentagon accounting processes are. Just this week we discussed the scandal where Pentagon government credit cards had been used at strip joints and casinos. We have often reported on the reality that the accounting practices are so bad at the Defense Department that auditors have declared that the Pentagon books are so bad that cannot even be audited to find the problems. All of this incompetence probably leads to massive wasting of taxpayer wealth and outright fraud.

Thomas Phippen, writing for the Daily Caller on August 16, 29016, uncovered yet another Pentagon financial screw up:
  • Over a six year period, the Defense Department improperly moved $146 billion from its war readiness account to pay for its basic military operations.
  • The General Accountability Office (GAO) uncovered the accounting shenanigans: “GAO found that DOD used its authorities to realign about $146.9 billion of its funding from fiscal years 2009 through 2015.” 
  • The war readiness funds, the Overseas Contingency Operations, is supposed to be used to give the Pentagon operations flexibility to deal with emergency situations that require immediate attention before approval is obtained from Congress.
  • This fund is not subject to budget cuts and Congressional oversight, it is supposed to be used only to immediately neutralize foreign military threats.
Thus, it appears that the Defense Department was gerry rigging the budget process to counter the will of Congress and the American people by funneling money to basic operations that had seen budget cuts by Congress. Another example of a government bureaucracy that is out of control.

2) Government is supposed to be honest and pure and an example of integrity for Americans. Of course, any reader of this blog knows that this ideal is far from the truth. And recent sexual harassment charges at the EPA prove that this Federal organization has some serious behavior problems.

Lachlan Markay, writing for the Washington Free Beacon on August 15, 2016, reported that:
  • The EPA inspector general’s office announced that it was opening an investigation into serial sexual sexual harassment and retaliation at the EPA.
  • Specifically, a Congressional committee found that: “Senior EPA leadership systematically pursued retaliatory actions against employees involved in investigating sexual harassment cases. These investigators allege that Susan Hedman, the Region 5 Administrator, was personally involved in retaliation against them.”
  • The committee heard testimony “from multiple former employees in EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office who said they had either witnessed or been informed of repeated instances of sexual harassment by an EPA scientist.” and that an official at the EPA “found that multiple female employees had been involved and that such harassment by this scientist and it had been ongoing for the better part of a decade with the full knowledge of the managers of the division and involved many young female interns in their early to mid twenties.” 
  • The EPA managers involved are also accused of retaliation against those that brought the harassment charges: “That punishment has included having my primary duties stripped away from me, effectively being marginalized and ignored by the managers who had permitted the sexual harassment to occur until they were confronted by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) through an investigation in which I was instrumental in initiating.” 
Nice place to work, get sexually harassed and then find your career sabotaged by those who harassed you. As usual with politicians and bureaucrats, nowhere does it appear that anyone who harassed women and broke the law faced any kind of disciplinary action or were fired. That only occurs to regular Americans who break the law.

3) While it appears no one as of yet has been punished for the EPA sexual harassment, there is some good news from a justice perspective that recently came out of Pennsylvania. This type of good news is so rare that it should be celebrated: a politician who broke the law is actually going to pay the price for her law breaking. How refreshing!

The CBS TV affiliate in Philadelphia recently reported that Kathleen Lane, the state attorney general, was found guilty of all nine counts brought against her in a perjury and obstruction of justice case. As a result of the guilty findings, she resigned her post as the state’s top law enforcement official. 

The charges included leaking a 2009 grand jury probe results and then lying about her actions in an effort to discredit a rival prosecutor. At least two of the guilty counts were felonies. Two state Supreme Court justices also lost their jobs as a result of these criminal activities.

I guess there is hope if judges and state attorney generals can be found guilty of breaking the law and face the required and necessary consequences. It is just that it happens so infrequently that one often loses hope that we are living in a fair and just society.

4) Here is a depressing little statistic that was just announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): the number of government employees at all levels of government in this country far outnumber the number of Americans working in the manufacturing sector of the economy. The BLS announced that 12,281,000 people work in manufacturing jobs in this country today while 22,213,000 work for some level of government across the country. This is a whopping difference of almost 10,000,000 people.

But this is part of a long term trend that has been going on for decades:

Since government employees do not create wealth, they are supported by the wealth created and paid for (taxes) by those working in the private sector, the above chart is not a good economic trend. As more and more people end up working in jobs that do not create wealth, they need to tax those that do create wealth more and more to keep government viable. This reduces overall economic growth and makes us all poorer.

5) We run a monthly series of posts along the theme. “I am a global warming doubter and a believer in science.” Every month we present research, scientific analysis, and basic climate realities that prove that the concept of man made global warming is very likely nothing more than a myth perpetrated by scientists and politicians that are using this myth to improve their own careers and well being. Thus, we have continually asked for an adult dialog that considers ALL of the available science and data before embarking on government policies that will make all Americans poorer.

Given all of these realities, you can see how we think the following government expenditure is insane and useless. According to Michael Bastasch, writing for the Daily Caller on August 12, 2016, the State Department is handing out almost $400,000 for ideas on how to fight global warming….in Morocco: “Morocco and the U.S. share a strong commitment to combating climate change which they are tackling aggressively at the international, national, and local levels.” 

Seriously, we are sending $400,000 to a third world country to work on a potential myth of global warming when Americans are going homeless, hungry, drug addicted, etc.? Even if Morocco converted its entire economy to clean energy it would not make a nit of difference in humanity’s carbon footprint. So why do it? Insane waste of money for no benefit in return.

Another day, another varied set of political class insanity and idiocy: wasting money on nothing in Morocco, way too many government workers who do nothing to expand the economy, sexual harassment at the EPA misappropriating budget at the Pentagon, and finally a criminal politician gets what she deserves. More insanity tomorrow.

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