Thursday, January 5, 2017

January, 2017, Part 2, Political Class Insanity: Criminal Politicians, Out of Control Federal Spending, and Still Losing The War On Drugs

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. 

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) Terence P. Jeffrey, writing for the CNS News website on December 12, 2016, showed how much Federal government spending was out of control:

  • In the first two fiscal months of 2017, October and November, 2016, the Federal government collected a record $213,300,000,000 in individual income taxes.
  • On average, this comes out to about $1,700 for every U.S. household in just two months.
  • This two month total broke the previous record set in the first two fiscal months of last year.
  • Despite this record setting collection of taxes from the American people, the Washington political class still managed to run up an amazing $180,843,000,000 spending deficit in the same two months.
  • At this current deficit rate, the Washington political class will incur another TRILLION dollar worth of national debt this year. 
In other words, despite collecting more taxes than at any other time in the history of humanity, the politicians could still not run a balanced budget. Another trillion dollar deficit will place an additional debt burden of about $3,000 on every man,woman, and child in this country, piled on the current individual debt burden of over $60,000 for every man, woman, and child from the $20 TRILLION in national debt that the Washington political class has already incurred.

As this insanity proves, consistent with other spending insanity we have previously discussed, we do not have an under taxation problem in this country, we have an overspending Federal government problem in this country. HIghest tax collection rate in the history of the world and they still run a huge deficit. Pathetic.

2) An additional scary revenue/spending issue identified in the above article was the reality that while income tax collections hit an all time high in early fiscal 2017, Social Security and other payroll taxes totals actually declined in early fiscal 2017 vs. fiscal 2016. Social Security and other payroll taxes dropped from $165,746,890,000 in October-November of last year to $164,936,000,000 in October-November this year.

This is scary since we know that the Social Security expenses and costs will continue to get higher and higher every month as more and more Baby Boomers retire but it appears, at least in this time frame, that the revenues needed to pay these increasing costs are flat or declining a little. More proof that Social Security is heading towards a fiscal cliff unless serious and smart changes are made to the program, changes that were outlined in our book, ”Love My Country, Loathe My Government.”

Unfortunately, the word “smart” and the Washington political class are two concepts that rarely are mentioned in the same sentence or context.

3) An article in the Salt Lake Tribune,written by Tom Harvey and Jennifer Dobner on December 17, 2016, discussed a criminal investigation going on in Utah as it pertains to retiring U.S. Senator Harry Reid. Keep in mind, that Harry Reid is presumed innocent until proven guilty despite being the focus of a criminal investigation involving a potential kickback or bribe worth $2 million. According to the article:

  • A $2 million cashier’s check was created at a St. , Utah bank on November 5, 2010.
  • The check was then sent via FedEx to a lawyer in Los Angeles, a lawyer that was employed by Ireland-based Full Tilt Poker.
  • The check was made out Mail Media LTD which was eventually deposited at Basler Kantonalbank in Switzerland where Mail Media LTD has an account.
  • The article alleges that Mail Media LTD is a subsidiary that is owned by Full Tilt and that it is used to launder online gambling funds.
  • From Switzerland, it appears the money went into a Marshall Islands account owned by Searchlight Holding Inc.
  • And that is where Utah Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings is trying to determine if that money eventually was used by Searchlight to benefit or bribe Senator Harry Reid.
In addition, documents obtained by investigative reporting by the Salt Lake Tribune, including state and Federal government court filings, public record requests, audio recordings and transcripts of interviews, emails, and other materials show that the Federal Department of Justice and the FBI failed to follow up in any way to see if Reid was the illegal recipient of the $2 million.

Even the Utah state attorney general has not turned over any funding that would help Rawlings determine once and for all, possibly via a grand jury, whether Reid is a dirty politician. Which has left Rawlings wondering who, if anyone, is telling the DOJ, the FBI, and others to stay clear of the case.

Of course, the FBI denies it is shirking its investigative responsibilities, according to FBI spokeswoman Sandra Yi Barker said, "At no time has the FBI or DPS been asked to back off of an investigation of any public official."

Rawlings provided some context for the FBI wavering in the article: "The FBI, via the Salt Lake City Field Office, was willing to investigate these allegations … wanted to actively engage. The Salt Lake office was taking steps to do so, but suddenly they were not."

Again, Mr. Reid is considered innocent until proven guilty. But given how the Obama administration has politicized and bastardized the DOJ and the FBI over the past eight years, it is not a stretch of the imagination for this administration to protect one of its own relative to self enrichment. That is the way of Washington where the rich get richer and we continue to pay record high taxes.

3) Let’s stay with the theme of crooked politicians for this next discussion where we have a politician that was actually proven guilty. According to Charlie Hoffman, writing for the Washington Free Beacon on December 12, 2016:

  • Former Congressman Chaka Fattah was sentenced to ten years in prison in mid-December.
  • He was found guilty of a number of Federal charges including corruption, fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.
  • In total he was convicted on 23 charges for which the prosecutors wanted a sentence of 17 to 22 years in prison.
  • Some of the charges including illegally taking a $1 million campaign contribution when he was running to become the mayor of Philadelphia, using campaign funds to pay off his son’s college debt, funneling money through a fake non profit organization, and taking $27,000 in bribes from a fundraiser.
  • His ten year prison term is the second longest for any member of Congress convicted of corruption charges.
Just another in a long line of Washington politicians where self interest and self enrichment are their primary functions as opposed to serving those that elected them. And remember, Harry Reid is innocent until proven guilty.

4) While many Washington politicians are greedy and criminal, Mexican drug cartels have to at least be given credit for creativity and originality in their pursuit of profit. According to the MRCTV website’s Brittany Hughes, writing on December 12, 2016:

  • Mexican drug cartel smugglers are using air cannons to launch shipments of marijuana into the U.S.
  • Unfortunately, one of those packages was picked up by a couple of American teenagers that happened to be in the area who were subsequently picked up by U.S.Border Patrol agents.
  • And this was not a couple of ounces, the projectile of grass weighed in at 34 pounds.
Never underestimate the creativity of a criminal when there is profit to be made regardless of whether or not that action is legal. Consider some other inventive ways that have been thwarted by the Border Patrol when it comes to smuggling illegal drugs into this country:

  • In mid-December, the Border Patrol arrested a 23 year old Mexican after they found him trying to sneak a whopping five tons of grass into the country, street value over $5 million, via a shipment of vacuum pumps.
  • That same day the Border Patrol agents found $370,000 worth of grass inside a horse trailer.
  • They recently found 190 pounds of weed inside a Mazda, $80,000 worth of cocaine inside an SUV, 36 pounds of meth in a Toyota, 16 pounds of meth in a Honda, half a million dollars worth of cocaine in a Dodge truck, and 17 pounds of heroin in freezer bags in toy boxes in a car coming over the border.
  • This should not be a surprise since in 2015, the Border Patrol seized, on average, 9,500 pounds of illegal drugs every DAY.
  • In other words, almost five tons of illegal drugs were intercepted every day throughout the year.
  • Border Patrol agent with the Grande Valley Sector of the the U.S.Mexican border testified for Congress that the Border Patrol nabs a pretty low percentage of drugs coming across the border, meaning that if almost five tons a day were being intercepted, many, many more tons were getting through to the streets of America.
We go over these numbers to prove once again what a failure that the Federal government’s “war on drugs” has been. Forty plus years and at least a trillion dollars later, the drug cartels and criminals are still smuggling tons of illegal drugs into this country every DAY, resulting in the deaths of upwards of 50,000 Americans every year. 

It is time to stop the war on drugs and start the war on treatment and prevention. What the Federal government has done over and over with failure at each turn reinforces an old Einstein quote: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” The failed war on drugs and the politicians who continue to support it prove Einstein right every day down on the Mexican and U.S. border.

That will do it for today’s insanity: a failed war on drugs, a convicted criminal politician, a potential criminal politician, and still spending more money than they are getting in Washington. More insanity tomorrow.

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