Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May, 2016, Part 6, Political Class Insanity: Taxpayer Waste In Afghanistan and Idiocy In MInnesota

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) The military and foreign affairs operation in Afghanistan has been a disaster of epic proportions. Current news reports show that the Taliban now control more of the control than any time since they were beaten back during the Bush administration. Thus, militarily we have probably spent hundreds of billions of dollars, the majority of which was spent during the Obama administration, and are facing a military disaster.

And operationally, it has also been a disaster. We have often reported in this blog how the inspector general for Afghanistan has constantly reported on massive waste and fraud involving taxpayer money in Afghanistan. Billions and billions of dollars have disappeared, equipment has disappeared, multi million dollar facilities have been built but never used, the corruption and criminal fraud has been disgusting.

And apparently it continues today despite the best efforts of the inspector general to stop it:
  • According to John Sopko, the inspector general for Afghanistan, the American taxpayer has helped to pay the salary for the soldiers and police officers in the Afghan army and police corps. 
  • But in a recent interview with Sharyl Attkinson of Full Measure, many of those “positions” in the army and police do not exist, they are so-called ghosts that draw a salary, paid for by Americans, but whose money ends up somewhere else, paying for nothing that contributes to the success of the Afghanistan operation. 
  • We’ve been raising this concern about ghosts going back a number of years,” stated Sopko. “Actually I want to say we heard about it from (Afghan President) Ashraf Ghani years ago, before he became president, he warned me about ‘ghosts,’ so we started looking three years ago.” 
  • “What we’re talking about are policemen, Afghan policemen, Afghan military, Afghan civil servants who don’t exist or they have multiple identity cards and we’re paying their salaries,” he explained. “By ‘we’ I mean the United States and the international community. And we started finding out that we had no capacity to measure the number of soldiers, teachers, doctors, military people who we are paying their salaries.” 
  • In a separate Fox News report late last year, that report estimated that the ghosts fraud could be as high as $300 million annually. 
  • According to Sopko, the higher ranked officers in the Afghan army and police corps are just pocketing the ghosts’ salaries: “Major fraud. And what’s happening is the commanders or generals or other higher officials are actually pocketing the salaries of the ghosts.” 
  • Sopko went on: “And I remember President Ghani again, at that time he wasn’t president, saying, ‘John, you the United States government are paying the salary of an Afghan who’s a teacher, he’s a civil servant, he’s a doctor, he is a policeman, and he’s a soldier. And it’s the same Afghan. And he doesn’t exist.’” 
  • But the defrauding of the American taxpayer does not only occur with police and army personnel: “It’s not just the salaries. But we’re funding schools based upon the number of students, so if you invent or inflate the number of students, you’re going to be paying more money. On the soldiers and the police, we’re paying for extra boots, for food, for everything else, logistics for numbers that don’t exist.” 
  • The article contends that the Trump administration is finally doing what the Obama administration did not do and fix the problem by implementing so-called “proof of life” before paying out taxpayer funded salaries. 
And while it is good that Trump is getting after the problem, why should such a problem exist anyway? We have been mired in Afghanistan for about 16 years, one would have hoped that by now that correct counting and accounting procedures would be put in place to fix such expensive nonsense. But apparently not, not with $300 million a year being spent on ghosts and air.

Imagine how many hungry Americans could be fed for $300 million dollars year. Imagine how many drug addicts could be treated for $300 million a year Imagine how more teachers could be hired for $300 million a year. Pitiful, disgusting, and insane.

2) Sometimes you wonder where common sense hides when it comes to politicians. In Minnesota recently, a common sense law was voted on which would allow life insurance companies to deny death insurance benefits if the deceased killed themselves in a terrorist attack on Americans. 
Makes sense, if you intentionally kill yourself while killing others for a terroristic reason, life insurance companies should not have to pay for your idiocy and martyrdom. If you commit suicide, I believe life insurance companies do not have to pay out so it seems reasonable that if you kill yourself say in a suicide bombing attack, life insurance companies definitely should not have to pay out death benefits.But apparently that sanity is lost on a Muslim state politician in Minnesota who actually voted against this proposed law in that state. According to Leo Hohmann writing for the WND website:
  • Illhab Omar was a community organizer who came to this country from Somalia as a refugee. 
  • She is now an elected member of the Minnesota state legislature. 
  • She was two out of 129 legislators who voted “against a bill that would allow life insurance companies to deny payouts to the beneficiaries of terrorists who die in violent attacks on Americans.” 
  • This legislation was introduced in Minnesota in reaction to the terror attack in San Bernardino, California in which 14 Americans died and 22 others were injured. 
  • The terrorists in that attack, a husband and wife terror team, made sure that their life insurance policies were valid before they carried out their terror attack, likely to insure their daughter was properly cared for after they were likely to die for their actions. 
Again, common sense out the window when talking about some politician's actions and idiotic reasoning.That will do it for today's insanity. Wasting billions in Afghanistan...still and lack of common sense and decency in the Minnesota legislature.
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