Sunday, October 2, 2016

October, 2016, Part 1, Political Class Insanity: More Corruption In Afghanistan, More Inetpness In Veterans Affairs, Poorer Americans 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 posts that were needed to cover one month's worth of insanity is ten. We equaled that record last month when we needed ten 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 insanity 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) Unfortunately, it seems we have to review this topic every month as local and Washington politicians obviously still have no answer to the gun and drug cartel violence that is racking Chicago every day and every week of every month. According to Robert Gehl writing for the Federalist Papers on September 25, 2016, in a recent 24 hour period, 22 people were shot and two died. This adds to the record number of people that have been shot and killed already this year in Chicago, three months before the year is over.

Victims included a 16 year old boy, a 17 year old boy, and two women who were just walking down the street. In the face of these incidents and violence, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel recently gave what was called a “big speech” on violent Chicago crime levels. Apparently, his big speech was accompanied with his tears and little in the form of creative and ground breaking, effective solutions. 

As we have often pointed out, the city with the most stringent of gun control laws has the most violent crime in the country, proving that past politician attempts to resolve the problem via gun control has not worked and they have no alternative plans in place.

2) The Convention of States website did a quick review of the massive waste of taxpayer wealth in all aspects of the Afghanistan occupation by U.S. troops. John Spoko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, recently released a new report that shows in detail how untold billions of dollars were lost to fraud, were given outright to corrupt local warlords, and ended up in the hands of terrorists that were fighting American and government troops.

According to Spoko: “Considering that more than 2,300 Americans have died in Afghanistan and that Congress has appropriated nearly $115 billion for Afghanistan reconstruction -- a number that does not include [the estimated $680 billion] spent on U.S. military operations there -- it would be an absolute dereliction of duty not to try to extract lessons from 15 years of struggle.” Unfortunately, this corruption has existed through two full terms of two Presidents over the past 15 years, all of which has resulted in a still broken country that will likely collapse once U.S. troops leave, resulting in the total waste of upwards of a trillion dollars.

3) We often the debate the question of which Federal government agency or organization is the most inept, ineffective, and haven for wasteful spending. Morgan Chalfant, writing for the Washington Free Beacon, provided more evidence that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to be a leading candidate for most dysfunctional government agency. According to the reporting:
  • The VA wastes billions of dollars every year on contracts for services and goods without giving those contracts and purchases proper oversight and management.
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the VA, which has spent at least $46 billion on procurement in just the past three years, is managing procurement contracts using “outdated and fragmented policies.”
  • In addition, the GAO auditors found “shortcomings in the VA’s data systems, policies, oversight, acquisition workforce, and contract management related to the agency’s multi-billion-dollar procurement program.”
  • Unfortunately, as we have found with other dysfunctional government agencies, the VA has been repeatedly told of their shortcomings over the years in this area and apparently did not fix what had been pointed out to them, resulting in the continued waste of billions of dollars: “This GAO report shows VA’s contracting operations are as dysfunctional as ever. This is the same sort of bureaucratic bungling that led to the massive VA procurement scandal that was exposed in 2015,” Congressman Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. “The fact that VA can’t seem to stop mismanaging resources underscores the agency’s lack of respect for taxpayer dollars. Given VA’s abysmal accountability track record, it’s unlikely the department will hold any employees accountable for this mismanagement, leaving veterans and taxpayers to foot the bill.” 
Imagine how more more veterans could get quality health care, that many do not get today, if those billions of wasted dollars could be directed to their care and medical needs? Billions of dollars could buy a lot more medical capabilities for our vets, as pointed out by Shaun Rieley, an analyst at Concerned Veterans For America: “The VA continues to be buried in red tape and bureaucracy, and cost efficiency is not a top priority for the self-serving bureaucrats who work there. Until real VA accountability is enacted, American veterans will continue receiving poor service and American taxpayers will continue getting short-changed.”

The article says that Congress will get involved but Congress has been involved with the VA problems for years and apparently they have not been able to fix anything despite their faux horror and surprise whenever a new VA scandal arises.

4) While the VA is often cited here as a top incompetent government function, the Federal food stamp/food assistance program is usually right there when it comes to incompetence. We have often reported on how store owners across the country have conspired with food stamp recipients who trade their food stamp credits for cash from the retailers, who then redeem the food stamps even though no food products were exchanged.

But apparently, food stamp fraud is not restricted to humble store owners and their customers. David McIntosh, writing for the American News website on September 16, 2016, reported on how an immigrant from Iran has been living the good life while taking food stamp assistance from American taxpayers. Ali Pascal Mahvi owns a whopping 8,000 square foot home in Ohio, a home that has horses on site, an inground swimming pool, and a set of sports cars in the garage.

But he has been taking in food stamps from the Federal government despite his obvious wealth. Fortunately, he was finally caught but one has to ask how did he get away with collecting any Federal welfare benefits when he was living, let me say it again, in an 8,000 square foot house? Don’t the Feds have any kind of screening protocol that says if someone is living in a neighborhood with 8,000 square foot houses may not deserve food stamps? Insanity.

5) One last piece of political class insanity for today. The Obama administration overspent its tax collections by an amazing $10 TRILLION over the past eight years. It has imposed thousands and thousands of new regulations on businesses in this country, hindering the economy from growing and creating new job opportunities. His Obama Care legislation imposed taxes and businesses restrictions and hassles on every American, depressing economic growth.

As a result of his mismanagement of the economy, Businessweek reported this week that “From 2008 to 2014, the share of the U.S. population living in poverty grew by 11%.” This time period covers a majority of the Obama recovery from the recession and occurred even though Obama had the benefit of an $800 billion (failed) economic stimulus program, unexpected and record low energy costs, and trillions of dollars from the Fed to stimulate the economy. Pathetic management of the economy despite having three tailwinds of economic stimulus and a lot of Americans are poorer because of this ineptness.

This gets us started on which is likely to be a long series of political class insanity. More tomorrow.

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