Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November, 2016, Part 5, Political CLass Insanity: Stupidity In Congress, Stupidity at CNN, Taking Care of Cronies,and Losing 700,000 Weapons

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) Let’s start with one of the best examples of political class insanity, or rather idiocy, we have seen in awhile. Unless you have been living under a rock in the past month or so, you know that Wikileaks has been releasing a treasure trove of hacked emails that show how unethical, racist, and illegal much of the Hillary Clinton campaign has been with the Democratic National Committee tagging along as accomplices. 

These documents show that not only should Hillary Clinton not be President but that she and others should probably indicted and put in jail for their actions. Obviously, the Clinton campaign needs to minimize and deflect attention to these hacked documents so they have taken the tactic of saying the Russians are behind the hack and are unfairly trying to affect this year’s Presidential election. Rarely, if ever, do they deny the documents are real and telling the truth, they just want attention to them to go away by falsely blaming the Russians.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee decided to take up the cause and blame the Russians. Recall that this Congress person has previously stated that the Constitution is over 400 years old, wanted to know if the Mars Pathfinder program had succeeded in taking a picture of the flag planted on Mars by Neil Armstrong in 1969, claimed that Vietnam was still two separate countries long after it had been united, and is a big admirer of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad who is currently ripping his own country to shreds.

Given this history of idiocy and ignorance, it should not be a surprise that when Jackson Lee sprung into action to accuse the Russians of being behind the Wikileaks document releases, she confused Wikipedia with Wikileaks:


Proving once again that there is still no cure for stupid, even for members of Congress.

2) But stupidity and ignorance are not solely owned by members of Congress, major players in the press can also fall into that category. Recently, Donald Trump announced that if elected President he would push for term limits for members of Congress, a reality we have long championed in this blog. Brooke Baldwin, who hosts an important news show on CNN, took up that issue on a recent edition of her show with a panel of so-called experts.

The problem was that Baldwin is obviously not an expert herself and thoroughly embarrassed herself and CNN when she started the conversation by claiming that Congress already was subjected to term limits, implying that Trump did not know what he was talking about. No, Ms. Baldwin, Congressional members are NOT subject to term limits, a reality that maybe you should have researched before you made a fool of yourself on national television:


Yes, these are the types of people that are supposed to be educating us on American politics and the issues of the day and at least one of them is so ignorant on a basic fact of American politics. Makes you wonder what else she gets wrong on her show everyday.

3) Congress and the President enact laws and the rest of the country is supposed to follow those laws, a pretty straightforward process. Unfortunately, we have shown many, many times in this blog that often the same people enacting those laws do not think that they themselves have to follow them, that laws to them are merely suggestions. 

During the Obama administration, more than one Cabinet secretary used hidden and private email accounts to transact government business which is against the law. One Cabinet secretary went so far to set up a private computer server in her house to conduct government business, which is against the law. Congressional members and their staffs were given Obama Care subsidies courtesy of the American taxpayer which is against the law. We could go on and on but you get the idea, laws are mandatory for the rest of us, mere suggestions for politicians and government bureaucrats.

And now we know, based on an analysis from the Government Accountability Organization (GAO), that the Obama administration is breaking at least the rules, if not the law, in a lot of its hiring practices:

  • In a study of thirty government organizations, it was found that the Obama administration was making sure that some of its political appointees were jumping to the head of the line for regular job offers in order to have a real government job when the new Presidential administration comes into office in January.
  • This infringement of the rules was happening at a one in four job vacancy rate, often denying a Federal government job to a more able and deserving citizen.
  • According to a Heritage Foundation article on this practice: “A disabled veteran didn’t get a job he sought in a federal agency, although he was qualified for the position and was supposed to receive preference. The job went instead to a political appointee of the Obama administration.”
  • This type of job placement is called “burrowing,” it describes a situation where a political appointee is moving into a career position in the Federal government bureaucracy, bumping someone who is not a political appointee.
  • According to Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Senate Committee: “The practice of burrowing in threatens the integrity of the federal workforce, where employees need to be hired based on merit and not on partisan political beliefs. I was particularly disappointed to see the Department of Homeland Security reporting the highest number of appointee-to-career employee conversions. It is critical that the administration take steps to ensure fairness and competition in federal service.”
A sampling of this type of political favoritism behavior uncovered by the GAO includes: 

• The Department of Education in March 2011 “gave the political appointee an unfair advantage in the hiring process by manipulating the requirements of the career position to align with the employee’s background.”

• In April 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services hired a political appointee “who did not qualify” and “improperly” removed from consideration an applicant with a veterans preference.

• The Food and Drug Administration in December 2012 “applied an overly restrictive definition of specialized experience” that screened out two qualified applicants with veterans preference status before selecting a political appointee.

Senator John Thune, chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee also opined on why this is a dangerous practice: “One of the reasons the federal government has laws on merit-based hiring is to prevent cronyism and political favoritism. GAO’s finding that the Obama administration hasn’t consistently followed these rules is troubling.”

This type of behavior could be in direct violation of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.

But being in violation of an existing law or existing Federal regulations has almost always been a suggestion under the Obama administration so it is not a surprise that this administration is taking care of its own as it’s days wind down, giving more credibility to the feeling that the “system is rigged,” something that Donald Trump has been pointing out on the campaign trail.

4) One short, last piece of insanity for today. We have often pondered the question of what is the most inept, most poorly run, inefficient Federal government organization. Usually the most worthy candidates for this honor usually include the Social Security Administration, the TSA, the National Science Foundation, and the Pentagon. Today’s winner appears to be the Pentagon, based on an article from the New York Times that was summarized in The Week magazine on September 9, 2016.

According to the Times reporting, the Defense Department has lost track of over 700,000 assault rifles, machine guns, and other firearms it has provided to various security forces, armed forces, and police forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is out of 1.45 million in total that were distributed. This means that almost half of the weapons that the Pentagon distributed, and Americans taxpayers paid for, have basically disappeared with no trace to be found.

The Times says many of them are being sold online by weapons dealers but I would bet that many of them fell into the hands of our Middle East enemies and have been used against U.S. troops and our allies. A quick Internet search shows that you can buy an assault rifle for as little as a few hundred dollars or more than a few thousands dollars. 

Let’s do some quick math and assume that the Pentagon gets a bulk discount on its high end rifles and pays $1,000 for each one. That means that the Pentagon wasted away/lost $700,000,000 million in taxpayer wealth, wealth that is being used to kill people all over the Middle East and possibly elsewhere. Insanity.

Losing 700,000 weapons, breaking regulations and the law on Federal hiring, stupidity on the CNN cable channel, and stupidity in Congress. More tomorrow.

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