Monday, February 19, 2018

Bureaucrats Behaving Badly

Time for a confession.

I routinely mock bureaucrats, but I don’t really think they are any worse than other people. Indeed, I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who work for various levels of government and they are fundamentally decent people.

The real problem is that bureaucracies create bad incentives. So even people who are generally good will be tempted to exploit rules that reward bad behavior.

And some of these folks, operating in systems with bad incentives, will morph into bad people. Heck, some of them are so awful that I elect them to the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame.

But it’s also important to recognize other bureaucrats – as well as the perverse rules that encourage their bad actions.

Let’s start with a cop in New Jersey who went above and beyond the call of duty, at least if the call of duty involves ripping off taxpayers.

…former Police Chief Philip Zacche…could spend the first decade of his retirement in federal prison after he admitted to stealing $31,713 from an agency that serves the city’s neediest families. Federal prosecutors said Friday that Zacche filled out phony time sheets to get paid for security work that he never performed for the Jersey City Housing Authority. …As a member of the department’s brass, Zacche pulled a six-figure salary before overtime. He earned even more by working an off-duty part-time gig as a security officer for the Authority’s Marion Gardens housing development. When he retired in June, city taxpayers had to cut Zacche a check for $512,620 to compensate him for 450 unused comp and vacation days. The 61-year-old Manalapan resident is now set to collect a pension of at least $11,946 every month for the rest of his life.
That’s a pension of more than $140,000 per year. And he gets it well before age 65. No wonder New Jersey is a fiscal mess.

Let’s also highlight a senior federal bureaucrat who specialized in exploiting immigrants to steal money.
A chief counsel at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has admitted stealing immigrants’ identities to defraud banks. Raphael Sanchez, 44, forged identity documents on his government computer to open bank accounts and credit cards in the names of seven immigrants. He racked up more than $190,000 (£135,000) in personal loans, transferred funds and card-spending during the four-year scam. …He claimed three were dependent relatives on his tax returns for 2014 to 2016. …He resigned from his role at the ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor after his crimes came to light.
I’m almost impressed by this guy’s depravity. Not only did he steal identities, but he even listed some of the victims as dependents on his tax return. That’s real chutzpah!

And notice that theft and fraud apparently are not enough to get a bureaucrat fired. Instead, he resigned.

And since we’re on the topic of bureaucrats doing bad things and not getting fired, we may as well note that the guy who sent the false alert in Hawaii is still getting checks from the taxpayers he terrified.
The worker who sent a false missile alert to Hawaiian residents on Saturday has reportedly been reassigned. The civil defence employee has been moved to another role, but not fired, according to multiplemedia reports. In a press conference on Saturday, the head of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi, said the worker “feels terrible.” …The Post also confirmed that there are no plans to fire the employee.
Here’s a fourth example, dealing with a former Obama appointee who was unmasked for screwing taxpayers.
Vikrum Aiyer liked to commute to his government job by taxi. On at least 130 occasions over two years — the majority during a four-month stretch in 2016 — the then-chief of staff for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called a taxi to pick him up near his home in the District. He was chauffeured across the Potomac River 10 miles or so to the agency’s headquarters in downtown Alexandria. And then…Aiyer billed the government for each ride. To escape notice, Aiyer impersonated current and former high-level agency officials, writing their names on cab receipts and vouchers he submitted to the taxi company, which then billed the government, investigators found. …Aiyer…released a statement saying he had a “misunderstanding of agency taxi rules.”
Hmmm…, I think I’ll go to the grocery store later today and slip a couple of steaks into my jacket. If I get caught leaving the store, I’ll say I had a “misunderstanding of store rules.”
The good news, at least if we’re grading on a curve, is that it only took about two years for the government to realize what was happening.
Aiyer’s unauthorized rides apparently went unnoticed for at least two years by budget officials who reviewed the invoices from Alexandria Yellow Cab, which has a contract to provide authorized taxi services for agency officials. The patent office paid the taxi company more than $4,000 for Aiyer’s rides, the report says. …For most of the cab rides, Aiyer was picked up on a street corner a tenth of a mile from his home, according to the report. But he wrote on the invoice that he was leaving from Commerce Department headquarters in downtown Washington. …investigators found…that he “used the Agency’s Cab Company account to facilitate his weekend social activity… Aiyer also racked up $15,000 in expenses on his government-issued credit card, charging for food and drink at local bars, clubs, coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores, dry cleaners and at least one liquor store, the report said. …The report says he also misstated his educational credentials on résumés he submitted to the Obama administration, claiming to have a postgraduate degree that he did not receive.
By the way, the article mentioned that Aiyer was a technology adviser for the White House. Did he advise on how to lie on your resume and how to get taxpayers to finance one’s social life?
A common problem in most of these stories is that politicians and bureaucrats conspire together to create rules that enable bad behavior.
Government employee unions, for instance, give lots of money to politicians and then sit down with those lawmakers to “negotiate” pay and benefit packages.

Needless to say, the interests of taxpayers don’t get represented. And that’s why many state and local governments are careening toward bankruptcy.

What’s especially discouraging is how these deals often include loopholes that are designed to be exploited.

For instance, the Los Angeles Times has a very depressing exposé showing how senior bureaucrats in the police and fire departments benefited from a scam allowing them to double dip. But not just double dip. They get extra compensation and oftentimes then don’t do any work.
When Capt. Tia Morris turned 50, after about three decades in the Los Angeles Police Department, she became eligible to retire with nearly 90% of her salary. But like many cops and firefighters in her position, the decision to keep working was a financial no-brainer, thanks to a program that allowed her to nearly double her pay by keeping her salary while also collecting her pension. A month after Morris entered the program, her husband, a detective, joined too. Their combined income for four years in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan was just shy of $2 million, city payroll records show. But the city didn’t benefit much from the Morrises’ experience: They both filed claims for carpal tunnel syndrome and other cumulative ailments about halfway through the program. She spent nearly two years on disability and sick leave; he missed more than two years… The couple spent at least some of their paid time off recovering at their condo in Cabo San Lucas.
Yes, I’m sure they were “recovering” at their luxurious place on the beach.
Just like the other bureaucrats who exploited the system.
The Morrises are far from alone. In fact, they’re among hundreds of Los Angeles police and firefighters who have turned the DROP program — which has doled out more than $1.6 billion in extra pension payments since its inception in 2002 — into an extended leave at nearly twice the pay… Former Police Capt. Daryl Russell, who collected $1.5 million over five years in the program, missed nearly three of those years because of pain from a bad knee, carpal tunnel and multiple injuries he claimed he suffered after falling out of an office chair. …Former firefighter Thomas Futterer, an avid runner who lives in Long Beach, hurt a knee “misstepping off the fire truck,” three weeks after entering DROP, according to city records. The injury kept him off the job for almost a full year.Less than two months after the knee injury, a Tom Futterer from Long Beach crossed the finish line of a half-marathon in Portland, Ore.
Yes, you read correctly. His knee supposedly was so damaged that he couldn’t work, but he nonetheless runs long-distance races.

I’m beginning to think that firefighters in big cities are the most cossetted of all bureaucrats. I now understand the hostility in this video.

Here’s some background on the DROP scam.
The idea of allowing retirement-age public employees to collect their pensions while working and receiving paychecks originated more than three decades ago in tiny East Baton Rouge, La. …the goal was the opposite: to discourage older employees from staying so long that they limited upward mobility for younger workers. And it had a two-year time limit. Since then, versions of the program have been adopted by dozens of states, counties and cities across the country. The details vary — some have short terms to encourage early retirement, others have long terms to retain experience — but the central appeal for employees is constant: two large checks instead of one. …former Mayor Richard Riordan…said: “Oh, yeah, that was a mistake…it’s total fraud.” …in recent years, a growing number of jurisdictions have abandoned or drastically scaled back DROP programs because the math doesn’t work. …Instead of saving money, or remaining “cost-neutral,” the programs lead to ballooning pension costs and accusations that employees are simply double-dipping.
Needless to say, the taxpayers who finance all this aren’t treated nearly as well as government insiders.
When most Los Angeles taxpayers reach the standard retirement age, 65, they face a stark choice: keep working and collecting their paychecks or quit and start collecting Social Security, which replaces only a small fraction of annual wages for most people.When city firefighters or police officers reach their retirement age, 50, the choices are far better. They can keep working for a paycheck, they can retire with up to 90% of their salary in pension and city-subsidized health insurance for life, or they can enter DROP. For many, the choice is easy. …they keep working and collecting their paychecks for up to five years while their pension checks are deposited into a special account. …the city guarantees 5% interest on the money in the account. The city also adds annual cost-of-living raises to the pension checks to make sure they keep pace with inflation.

Let’s close by speculating whether Trump will do anything to fix this mess, at least the part that occurs on the federal level.

Some pro-Trump readers sent me this story from the Washington Post and suggested it shows that the President is making progress.
…a year into his takeover of Washington, President Trump has made a significant down payment on his campaign pledge to shrink the federal bureaucracy… By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January — with most shedding many hundreds of employees, according to an analysis of federal personnel data… The falloff has been driven by an exodus of civil servants, a diminished corps of political appointees and an effective hiring freeze. …Federal workers fret that their jobs could be zeroed out amid buyouts and early retirement offers that already have prompted hundreds of their colleagues to leave, according to interviews with three dozen employees across the government. Many chafed as supervisors laid down new rules they said are aimed at holding poor performers and problem workers to account. …“Morale has never been lower,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers at more than 30 agencies. “Government is making itself a lot less attractive as an employer.”……Agencies have told employees that they should no longer count on getting glowing reviews in their performance appraisals, according to staff in multiple offices, as has been the case for years. Housing and Urban Development managers, for example, are being evaluated for the first time on how effectively they address poor performers.
If I was planning to die in the next month, I would probably agree with readers that Trump made progress in this area.

But as I wrote last year, the only way to successfully shrink bureaucracy in the long run is to shrink government.

Yet Trump just capitulated to a budget deal that increases spending.

I’m willing to praise this President when he does good things, but his weak record on spending almost surely is going to translate into a bigger bureaucracy over time. Though I hope I’m wrong.
Here are two final additional passages from the story that deserve some attention. Starting with an honest bureaucrat.
…some civil servants said they welcome the focus on rooting out waste and holding federal workers to high standards. “Oftentimes we run on autopilot and continue to fund programs that don’t produce the results that were intended,” said Stephanie Valentine, a program analyst at the Education Department. “You can’t keep blindly spending because that’s what we’ve always done.”
And since I’ve previously contrasted Bill Clinton’s good record and Obama’s bad record, this passage is added confirmation of my findings.
Trump already has begun to reverse the growth of the Obama era, when the government added a total of 188,000 permanent employees, according to Office of Personnel Management data. …The last time federal employment dropped during a president’s first year, President Bill Clinton was in the White House.
It’s also worth noting that the bureaucracy didn’t contract during the big-government Bush years.
I’ll conclude by circling back to my original point. Most bureaucrats are no better or no worse than the rest of us. Given the perverse “public choice” incentives inherent in government, however, the good bureaucrats often are lured into bad behavior and the bad bureaucrats frequently become scam artists and crooks.

P.S. If my conclusion was too grim and pessimistic, you can cheer yourself up with another example of bureaucrat humor.

Reckoning at Hand for General Electric?

By Charles Ortel February 19, 2018

If your hackles are not yet up concerning the outlook for highly indebted multinational companies such as GE in a possible looming crisis of 2018, they ought to be. From September 2008 until recently, we operated in a new world without traditional controls, prepared to believe everything, and happy to own almost anything.

Skeptics were mocked, as markets rocked. However, in recent months, benchmark interest rates in the United States -- the largest market in the world -- are trending upwards after 10 years at historic low levels. As interest rates rise, most asset values will fall. Declining asset values are especially for complex borrowers like GE. Now, investors are, again, agonizing, trying to assess how rising interest rates will affect the values of companies. It is no wonder that GE and its stock price should be back in the spotlight............It wasn’t “easy being green” for GE under Obama Under Jeff Immelt from March 2009 through his departure in 2017, GE’s directors, executives and professional advisors evidently learned little from their “near-death” experience. Perhaps Immelt should have spent less time working with President Obama, and more time on his day job at GE............ Read more

Chinese Catholics Call on Bishops Worldwide: Stop the Vatican Deal With Chinese Gov't

By Michael W. Chapman | February 15, 2018

( -- In an open letter to Catholic bishops throughout the world, a group of Chinese Catholic scholars, lawyers, and activists plead with the bishops to contact the Vatican and urge Pope Francis to not go forward with his plan to try to unite the underground Chinese church with the Communist-run Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), which is schismatic and rejects some of the basic teachings of Catholicism.

"We earnestly ask you, with the love of the people of God, appeal to the Holy See," reads the letter. "Please rethink the current agreement, and stop making an irreversible and regrettable mistake."

Pope Francis reportedly is preparing to sign off on a deal with the Chinese government to supposedly improve diplomatic relations and allow Catholics to worship more freely in the Communist regime. The deal would require the Pope to accept seven bishops that were appointed not by him, but by the CPA, which is completely controlled by the government.

These CPA bishops do not profess loyalty to the Pope and the Magesterium of the chuch. They also do not accept the church's teachings on such issues as right to life, abortion, contraception, and euthanasia...........And, ironically, the situation potentially would place the Pope on the side of the Communists. The faithful Catholics would face mroe persecution..........To Read More.....

Pennsylvania’s Constitutional Crisis

By Frank Ryan February 19, 2018

In a repeat of the state’s extraordinary role in the 2016 presidential election, this year Pennsylvania will be the center of a serious constitutional challenge. At stake may be the entire congressional balance of power between Democrats and Republicans.

Democrats in PA are attempting to do through the courts what they were not able to do at the ballot box.

They are assuming that the woes of their cause are due to redistricting, not to failed policies repudiated by the electorate. Trump’s stunning statewide victory in Pennsylvania in 2016 had absolutely nothing to do with gerrymandering.

As background, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2018 ruled that the 2012 redistricting of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts was unconstitutional. The Court gave the legislature until February 9 to submit a plan of redistricting to the governor for approval. The governor would then have until February 15 to accept or reject the map.

The governor has rejected the map, and in its decision the Supreme Court reserved the right to draw the boundaries of redistricting on its own accord or to select one of many competing plans .......As soon as the Supreme Court intercedes and adopts a new map, a constitutional crisis immediately ensues. Seldom in our nation’s history has a state Supreme Court usurped the constitutional role of the legislature in drawing congressional boundaries.............The damage to our republic when a judiciary not only legislates from the bench but manipulates elections makes the interference by Russians pale in comparison.........Read more

Progs Love a Man in a Uniform

Why the media fell in love with North Korea's Kim Yo-jong.

German Activist Has Her Eyes Opened About Muslim Refugees

“Those people who ate with me, drank, danced, laughed – they talk about me as ‘stupid German whore’.”

February 16, 2018 Mark Tapson 

The must-read Vlad Tepes blog posted a lengthy but fascinating interview recently with a German artist, activist for the rights of indigenous peoples, and UN advisor Rebecca Sommer, posted by the Polish website EuroIslam.

As Vlad Tepes notes, "Rebecca used to support Muslim 'refugees' in Germany, and describes how her experience made her gradually change her mind over core issues." That's putting it mildly. Sommer's experiences were eye-opening enough that she is now unafraid to declare truths about Islamic mass migration that are unacceptable to the European elites who insist on accelerating their countries toward cultural suicide.

Among some of her revelations:...........I am afraid that in the next election, in four years, we can see a new phenomenon – Muslims will establish their party and because they already have a large electorate, they will become unstoppable. With the help of the left wing and almost all parties, they will begin to change the rules and we will be the ones who will have to adapt..........To Read More....

Time to remove federal judges from office?

By James J. Johann February 19, 2018

It is time to remove federal judges whose orders direct the President to perform unconstitutional acts or prevent the President from performing actions granted to him by the Constitution. A current judicial order directs President Trump to continue Obama's DACA order, which has been determined to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The judge's order is expected to be overturned by the Supreme Court. There have been several earlier judicial orders to prevent President Trump's executive orders from halting certain types of immigration. Those judicial orders, and their Circuit Court appeals, have already been overturned by the Supreme Court. Even though the cases have been properly resolved by the Supreme Court, the rulings by the federal judges appointed by the opposition Congress needs to correct political efforts by activist federal judges who intentionally defy the President.............In other words, lower courts such as the federal and appeals courts only exist by and at the will of the Congress. Therefore, the Congress itself may ordain the limits of the courts they have established and can modify those limits at will. Congress could ordain that only the Supreme Court, and not a lower court, may override an Executive Order............... More

My Take - I would go a step further. Pass a 28th Amendment.  If the Constitution is going to really be the document that governs government, and is the real and legitimate law of the land, it's in serious need of reinforcements. It’s time for a 28th Amendment that would impose strict term and age limits on the federal judiciary.

There are three levels of the federal judiciary- the District level, the Appeals level and the Supreme Court. Each level should have a ten year limit with a review after five years requiring a majority approval by the Senate. At each level each nominee would have to go through the same process, even if nominated to a higher court before they finish their term in a lower court. If their tem runs out and they’re not nominated to a higher court they may be nominated at some point in the future. No jurist can return to a lower court if their term runs its course at a higher level, and no jurist can ever be appointed to a court if their nomination to any court has ever been rejected by the Senate. No jurist may serve after the age of seventy.

The only federal court authorized by the Constitution is the Supreme Court.  All other courts are a creation of Congress and the Constitution gives Congress the right to determine the jurisdiction of all the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, and can impose any limits it sees fit.  

This idea the Supreme Court decides what the Constitution means is a fallacy promoted by the courts and law schools.  That concept has no basis in the Constitution.  They made that up to suit themselves and the Congress doesn't have the currachies to put a stop to it.   

Antifa Thugs Target ICE

The Left interferes in immigration law enforcement -- and plans to escalate its lawlessness.

February 19, 2018 Matthew Vadum

 The anarchist thugs of Antifa are branching out into obstructing immigration law enforcement, apparently no longer content with shutting down conservative speakers and beating up those they promiscuously label “fascists.”

A case in point was last Thursday, Feb. 15, when about 70 activists surrounded a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) van that was attempting to enter the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles. The anarchists chanted “no more deportations,” “Trump and Pence must go,” “f--k ICE,” as well as slogans in the Spanish language.

Although the two ICE agents in the van at the time were unharmed and there were no arrests, the action was viewed by anarchists as a successful test of the tactic. Antifa intends to expand its use of the approach. Given Antifa’s ugly track record, this could mean violent, terroristic attacks on law enforcement.

The nighttime action was leftist retaliation for ICE officers doing their jobs by enforcing the law. ICE reportedly detained more than 200 illegal aliens in Los Angeles during a recent five-day enforcement sweep...........To Read More.....

Hungary's Orban calls for global anti-migrant alliance with eye on 2018 elections

By Marton Dunai Reuters February 18, 2018

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian leader Viktor Orban called on Sunday for a global alliance against migration as his right-wing populist Fidesz party began campaigning for an April 8 election in which it is expected to win a third consecutive landslide victory.
Popular at home but increasingly at odds politically and economically with mainstream European Union peers, Orban has thrived on external controversy, including repeated clashes with Brussels and lately the United Nations.
Those conflicts, mostly centered on migration since people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa flooded into Europe in 2015, have intensified as the elections approach and Orban poses as a savior of Europe's Christian nations.........To Read More.....

Where Are the Indictments of Obama’s Foreign Colluders?

The collusion fraud continues.

February 19, 2018 Daniel Greenfield

The indictments are in.

Team Mueller indicted a bunch of Russians associated with a troll farm for interfering with an election in the United States. Russian troll farms generally don’t follow United States law. But foreigners are not allowed to interfere with elections in the United States. Unless they’re named Christopher Steele.

The Clinton campaign employed a British foreign agent who used Russian intelligence sources to put together opposition research meant to interfere with the results of a United States election. Collusion between the Clinton campaign, Steele and the Russians doesn’t require an endless fishing expedition.
Foreigners interfering in United States elections are not a new phenomenon. Muslims in Gaza famously ran a phone bank for Obama. A Hamas political adviser had declared that he hoped Obama would win.............To Read More......


Mueller’s Sop to the Slavering Media

David Catron February 18, 2018

The multi-headed beast must be fed so he can continue his search for a crime.

Having anxiously watched Robert Mueller blunder around the Beltway for a year with his metal detector and tinfoil hat, the legacy media were doubtlessly relieved Friday when he seemed to have finally found something they could sink their teeth into. Sadly, for them, there isn’t much to his indictment.

All it confirms is the blindingly obvious reality that Russia interferes in American elections. Because we are the big dog and they are the mangy tail that would wag us, the Kremlin tried to influence us via Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. The indictment doesn’t even claim this hare-brained scheme worked.

Being too dishonest to tell the truth, the “journalists” who infest the airwaves and the editorial offices of the big dailies have been reporting… well… fake news. Mueller has not, as the New York Times claims, “unveiled a sophisticated network designed to subvert the 2016 election and to support the Trump campaign.”

Neither the indictment nor Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement announcing it says the meddling was restricted to aiding Trump. Both clearly state that the primary Russian objective was to foment rancor and suspicion throughout the electorate. As Rosenstein phrased it:.........To Read More...

It Took 100 Years for Liberals to Grasp That Russians Interfere

Daniel J. FlynnFebruary 17, 2018

Too bad the Mueller indictment starts only with the year 2014.

The grand jury indictments against Russian nationals secured by special counsel Robert Mueller make a strong case that foreign interference in American politics thrives. They make no such case regarding collusion between the Trump campaign, or the campaigns of Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein for that matter, and foreign interests.

“By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the indictment reads. “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Mueller provides evidence supporting this claim. But, to his credit, he also offers evidence of the foreigners organizing activities in support of Clinton and against Trump.

Consider this important passage on page 23:................. Liberals turned a blind eye to this sordid history for much of the 20th century. In the 21st century, they show all the zeal of Joe McCarthy. Carl Hatch, Pat McCarren, and Martin Dies would be proud......To Read More.....

My Take - McCarthy and all the commie chasers were right.  We know Soviet agents and their fellow travellers infested every institution in the nation.  The U.S. became the most infiltrated government in the history of the world.  The Democrats never noticed, even though one Soviet agent lived in the White House for over a years with the Roosevelts. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The World as I See It: Middle East Disharmony

By Rich Kozlovich

During one of the Iraq wars the media quoted a Muslim religious leader who declared "Muslims don't kill other Muslims".  That sound fairly clear - except when compared to reality and history - that's as clear as mud.

Muslims murder other Muslims and have been doing so since Mohammad died and the split between Sunnis and Shiites came into existence.  Why?  Because the Koran demands faithful Muslims must kill heretics.  Guess what?  Each of these groups feels they're the only faithful Muslims and all others are heretics.  And it gets worse.

Muslim societies are not modern civilized societies as we understand modern and civilized. Just because they have modern transportation, communications and arms, doesn't make them civilized.  If anything, it makes them less civilized since they can now easily export their extremism all around the world.  These are medieval tribal societies with all the unbridled violent passions and mentality of that age completely intact today.  To them - no moral imperatives or moral foundations have changed.

It appears "Iraq's Sunnis seem to be fed up with the presence of Iranian-backed Shiite militias" and people wonder how much control Iran has over these militias.  My feeling is the only influence these sponsor states have is minimal.  As long as they keep funding them, which is now much easier since Obama gave these maniacs hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, they have some control, but I think it's minimal.  These radical groups are legion, and like the Hydra, when you cut off one head, two more grow in its place, and each has its own power structure and vision of what Islam means.

Hamas and Fatah are now and have been in competition for control of Palestinian politics forever, and no matter what's in the media - that's not going to change.  Unlike Western diplomats and politicians, these guys know the real rules of the game.  They want the money and power and will not honor any agreement that's going to diminish either for their group.

Among others - Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Egypt are also involved in this mess, and this outside interference is a continuing factor in the Middle East, not just among so-called Palestinians, but in every Muslim controlled land. 

There's a constant balancing of power among the players, and for one reason, the relative "stability" of the Middle East and Muslim controlled lands was predicated on the power of tyrants.   For hundreds of years the Middle East and North Africa was controlled by the Ottoman Empire.  Turks who practised a form of Islam antithetical to both Shiites and Sunnis.  How did they keep them in control?  They killed any who started to have enough influence to unbalance the power structure.  The only thing Muslims understand is power and the willingness to use it. 

Carter abandoned the Shah of Iran, which was the real beginning of this mess.  The Shah may not have been a model of civil rights, but the people who replaced him have left their nation devastated economically and socially.  Make no mistake about this.  Life under the Shah was far better on the worst day than the best day under the Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors.

Both the Bush's failed to understand (possibly deliberately) the real politics of Iran and Iraq, and truthfully, I do believe they were both co-opted by some kind of unknown involvement with Saudi Arabia.  I think there's far more to that story than we may ever know. 

When Saddam Hussein was defeated it left a major hole in the power structure of Iraq, and all these factions he kept under control erupted in violence to try and fill that vacuum. 

Obama made a decision that helped topple Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak based on the idea there was an "Arab Spring" hatching all over the Muslim world that was going to lead to the creation of Democratic governments in these nations.  At least that was the public position he took.

Under that same failed thinking Obama helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya which led to an explosion of tribal and extremist violence.  This led to a planned and coordinated attack against American government property and facilities in Benghazi by members of the Islamic militant group known as Ansar al-Sharia, which cost the lives of Americans including the Ambassador.   All of which could have been prevented if Hillary Clinton had provided the extra security the ambassador requested and the military support after the attack started.  The Obama administration ignored both trying to save face for their political decision to overthrow Gaddafi.   

Did Obama understand what he was unleashing on the world?  Is it possible a man who was raised as a Muslim didn't understand what was really happening? 

My view is that Obama was a true Manchurian Candidate, and it's my belief he deliberately set things into motion that were detrimental to America.  Why?  The goal of the left is now and has always been a worldwide socialist government.  Today they're working to establish a worldwide system of governance under the auspices of the most corrupt and incompetent organization the world has ever known.  The United Nations! 

What could justify such a takeover more than anarchy the world over?  Everything Obama did while in office laid the groundwork for that kind of anarchy.  But make no mistake about this.  The Bush's were just as guilty.  Since WWII, the Bush's, and the Republican elite, are now and have always been Globalists, and much of what they did supported the idea of a global system of governance.  An excellent example of that was the position of G. W. Bush and Condolezza Rice on the Law of the Sea Treaty that gave complete control of the world's oceans, along with all that's in it or under it, to the United Nations.  They supported it!

The only President since WWII who hasn't been a Globalist was Reagan, and the only thing standing between a socialist controlled U.N. and global domination is the United States economy and the U.S. Constitution.  As for Donald Trump - what Trump ends up being remains to be seen.

As for my solution to this mess, since the solution used by the Ottoman Empire is out of the question that leaves what I believe is the only solution.  Keep them isolated, keep them poor, keep them disarmed as much as possible and keep them over there.  Stay out of those countries militarily and stop thinking if we give them Democracy they'll be just like us.  The foundational social paradigm for those nations is based on the Koran, and that's a burden and curse we can't fix.  The minute they get to vote for their leaders they just vote in a different tyrant.  As time has shown, they invariably choose a radical Islamist tyrant. 

As for Syria?  I left this out because that's a mess beyond definition, and I think it's now beyond any fix.  The country is totally devastated, the people have been destroyed, and there's nothing there that's worth fighting for.   What will happen?  Nothing good as long as these groups are funded by outside forces.  Syria no longer exists.  It's now nothing more than a geographical designation. 

Congressional oversight weeds out corrupt international junk science

by Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier February 16, 2018 This appeared in the Washington Examiner 

This may be the year when Congress finally cracks down on the corrupt World Health Organization. The last straw may be not what WHO did, but what it didn't do.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has been investigating the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the WHO, amid accusations that IARC holds secret proceedings and conducts shoddy research to reach politically-motivated conclusions. Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who has been threatening to withhold federal funding for IARC, twice asked IARC to testify at a hearing to explain itself. IARC refused to send an official to answer questions at a February 6 hearing. The agency has received more than $48 million in U.S. tax dollars via the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. is the WHO's largest donor.

Smith's request wasn't just refused, it was dismissed with bureaucratic diplo-speak that could put its author in the running to be the next U.N. secretary general. IARC spokeswoman Véronique Terrasse told POLITICO Europe in November that IARC "will respond when we receive an official request through the proper channel." IARC believes it is only accountable, if at all, to the U.S. State Department, and that any request must be directed at American representatives on IARC's governing council.

Congress is asking questions because IARC's findings on the carcinogenicity of certain chemicals, personal behaviors, and environmental factors often diverge from mainstream science. And its junk-science conclusions cannot just be ignored, because they go on to heavily influence policy, public opinion, and even legal actions.

For example, California might soon require coffee shops to post cancer warnings based on two IARC reports that concluded the acrylamide found in roasted coffee beans and the act of drinking very hot beverages can cause cancer. The agency's widely-criticized 2015 allegation that red and processed meats are human carcinogens have been used to justify sin taxes.

Chairman Smith warned at the hearing that the "selective use of data and the lack of public disclosure raise questions about why IARC should receive any government funding in the future." The committee heard testimony from experts at the EPA and U.S. National Cancer Institute about IARCs widely discredited "hazard-based" approach, focused only on the chemical's dose, rather than a "risk-based" approach which takes into account actual exposure.

One of IARCs most disputed reports is highly suspect; its 2015 assessment declared glyphosate, the world's most widely-used herbicide, is a "probable human carcinogen." It's the only major scientific organization to reach that conclusion. Subsequent studies, including a major review issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in December, found no link between glyphosate and cancer. Glyphosate is controversial because it's the main herbicide used on several genetically engineered crops — called Roundup Ready — that have been developed to withstand the chemical without harming the plant. It was developed by Monsanto, the bête noire of the global environmental movement.

How did IARC reach such a different conclusion from so many leading institutions? In October, a Reuters investigation found that unknown officials at IARC made "significant changes and deletions" to a draft of the report. IARC deleted language from a draft report citing an EPA-ordered study which "firmly" and "unanimously" concluded that glyphosate did not cause abnormal growths in mice.

This deletion, and nine similar to it, were crucial because, as Reuters put it, IARC's "conclusion was based on its experts' view that there was "sufficient evidence" glyphosate causes cancer in animals. There was only "limited evidence" it could do so in humans.

Committee members also expressed unease over IARCs secret proceedings and lack of standard scientific protocols, such as peer review. "IARC monographs do not employ any independent outside peer reviews," said Texas Republican Brian Babin. "Instead an IARC working group collaborates behind closed-doors to select data, analyze data, and reach conclusions. So, without any public engagement or independent scientific peer review, the working group acts as hand-in-hand with IARC staff as judges, juries, and executioners."

Insularity can be a breeding ground for corruption. The committee is looking into the role of Christopher Portier who recommended that IARC evaluate glyphosate. He was chosen to serve as an "invited specialist" to the glyphosate working group. Now, court documents have revealed that Portier was hired by a law firm suing on behalf of glyphosate "victims" several days after the glyphosate monograph was issued.

According to news reports and Portier's own admission, over the past two years Portier has earned more than $160,000 for his "expert testimony" on several glyphosate lawsuits. At the same time, he was active in trying to pressure the European Parliament and U.S. agencies not to publish favorable findings about glyphosate without disclosing this obvious conflict.

Let's be clear about what's happening here: a public charity is refusing to answer questions by the charity's largest donor about an unfolding scandal.

Global public health is too important to cede to a scandal-ridden organization behaving as if it is beyond not only reproach, but oversight. Congress should cut IARC funding to let the beneficiaries of our generosity across the world know that they are answerable to taxpayers through our representatives in Congress.

Julie Kelly is a senior contributor to American Greatness. Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.
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Climate Change Weekly #277:

Carbon Tax Cabal, Part Two:
Economic Punishment
In the previous issue of Climate Change Weekly, I discussed the economic harm a carbon tax would create. In this issue I provide evidence such a tax will be ineffective in preventing climate change and will hurt the poor.
Neither federal nor state carbon tax schemes will do anything to prevent the climate from changing. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made this point when he admitted in a December 2015 speech to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, “If we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what—that still wouldn’t bend enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.” A state-based carbon tax would have even less impact on global temperature.
Carbon taxes won’t prevent any measurable amount of sea level rise, either, or reduce the likelihood of hurricanes forming or wildfires from occurring.
The only reason to discourage the use of fossil fuels is to prevent dangerous climate change, yet the best evidence—as opposed to dubious computer model predictions—suggests humans aren’t causing dangerous climate change.
Almost every testable projection made by computer models concerning the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet has been proven wrong. Hurricanes aren’t getting worse; sea levels are not rising at an unusual rate; Antarctica is adding ice, not losing it; scientists can show no species to have been lost due to climate change; droughts continue to wax and wane as they always have; and crop production continues to set records.  Actual measured temperatures are much lower than the computer model predictions, indicating global temperature is most likely less sensitive to greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere than computer models suggest.
If humans aren’t causing apocalyptic global warming, there’s no good reason for governments to tax fossil fuel use.
Discouraging fossil fuels is an especially bad idea because expanding the use of these fuels is the quickest, surest way to decrease poverty and increase economic progress in the United States and abroad. In addition, higher carbon dioxide levels are demonstrably beneficial for plants, increasing agricultural yields, improving plants’ water use efficiency, and greening Earth by shrinking deserts and expanding forest cover.
More than one billion people don’t have access to regular supplies of electricity today, with millions dying from preventable cardiopulmonary diseases each year from indoor air pollution caused by their use of wood, charcoal, dung, and other materials they use to cook with and heat their homes. Millions more die prematurely from a lack of access to safe drinking water, modern transportation, and hospitals with continuously working electric lights, medical equipment, and refrigeration. In the West, we take these necessities for granted, but they were all brought about on a large scale by the use of fossil fuels. Where coal, natural gas, and oil are in regular use, people are wealthy, and where their use is absent, poverty, disease, and hunger are rife.
—H. Sterling Burnett
In a recent paper, economist Alan Carlin, Ph.D., former Director of the Implementation Research Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, writes the theory human greenhouse gas emissions are causing dangerous climate change is nothing more than an expensive, failed modeling exercise based on flawed assumptions about the relations between greenhouse gases and temperature, and the use of manipulated data.
Citing Mike Jonas from Watts Up With That, Carlin describes how General Circulation Models (climate models) are constructed. First, all known or at least well-understood factors, such as the general rules of physics, are built into the climate models, with estimates included for unknown factors, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls parameterizations, such as feedback mechanisms and the effects of cloud cover and solar activity. Second, model results are then compared with actual observations. Since GCMs reproduced only about a third of the observed warming in the 20th century, the modelers then adjusted or fiddled with the unknown factors until they fairly closely reproduced past climate conditions and current temperatures. What this means, however, is two-thirds of the models’ predicted future warming comes from factors that are not well understood.
Adding error on top of error, a recent report found because models still grossly overestimate the amount and rate of warming the earth has experienced in recent years, scientists have taken to adjusting surface temperature data in order to force it to coincide with GCM projections, ignoring satellite temperature records and temperature data from weather balloons which show much less warming than the adjusted ground level data and GCM projections. The authors of this study write, “The magnitude of their historical data adjustments … [is] totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data. Thus, it is impossible to conclude from the three published global average surface temperature data sets that recent years have been the warmest ever—despite current claims of record setting warming.”
Even IPCC admits GCMs cannot predict climate change well.  When IPCC Working Group 1 assessed the physical-scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change in 2007, it said “we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
After calculating governments have spent approximately $1.5 trillion annually in recent years to study and combat climate change, Carlin concludes, “This is undoubtedly the worst scam-based science on a major public policy issue in the history of the world.”
California’s 2017 wildfires destroyed a record number of homes, with the fires and subsequent mudslides killing more than 60 people and leaving many others injured. In a recent paper, meteorologist Robert W. Endlich, who served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years before working at the White Sands Missile Range, says entirely “explainable weather conditions” combined with the California’s “hands off” forest management policy “set the stage for 2017’s intense, highly destructive wildfires in California.” Contrary to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s claims, human-caused climate change was not to blame for the fires.
Data shows California has experienced a slight increase in rainfall and snowfall over the past 125 years, including record rainfall during the 2016-2017 winter season.
On the meteorological front, the winter’s record rainfall produced lush vegetation and brush in the spring. Then, as a “subtropical ridge” shifted northward in California, rainfall dried up during the summer and the vegetation dried out. In addition, the Santa Ana winds (as they are called in southern California) or Diablo winds (as they are referred to in northern California) arrived in force and lingered throughout the fall—another periodic and hardly unusual event.
That’s nature’s part of the story. As Endlich points out, the state and federal governments also played a critical role in fueling the wildfires. Endlich quotes an op-ed as stating, “Decades of aggressive firefighting left too much fuel on the ground” and “another man-made initiative: building more and more homes in hilly communities adjacent to brush and woodlands” over the long term set the stage for the 2017 conflagrations. In addition, as  environmental activists took control over forest management policy, logging on national and state forests came virtually to an end, resulting in forest growth of unnatural density. Endlich writes, “Government agencies [refused] to permit the removal of dead, diseased and desiccated trees and brush from these woodlands—especially in the broad vicinity of these communities. Together, these factors all but ensure recurrent conflagrations and tragic losses of property and lives.”
The Mercury News reports Brown worsened the problem by vetoing a unanimously passed 2016 bill to fund power line safety measures which would have included trimming trees and brush near power lines. During the northern California fires which began on October 8, high winds knocked utility power poles down onto adjacent dry trees.
Even while misstating the facts concerning 2017’s temperature, James Hansen et al. make a surprising admission: the sun has a strong influence on temperature that may overwhelm rising greenhouse gas emissions and lead to decade-long hiatus in temperature rise.
Hansen and his colleagues say 2017 was the second or third warmest year since widespread surface instrumental records were kept. They attribute this warming to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, stressing it was not helped along by any boost from a tropical El Niño as was arguably the case in 2015 and 2016.
Their claim is false. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an 11 week springtime El Niño anomaly occurred from April through July of 2017. Because it didn’t last five months, NOAA did not classify it as an El Niño event, but El Niño conditions persisted for three months, affecting both ocean and land temperatures, the latter of which take longer to recover from. El Niño conditions thus affected temperatures well into 2017.
More interesting than their temperature claim was the Hansen team’s admission solar variability has a powerful influence on temperatures. In the past, Hansen and others on his team have dismissed solar activity as not having any significant long-term impact on global temperatures, but in this paper Hansen et al. write:
The record 2016 temperature was abetted by the effects of both a strong El Niño and maximum warming from the solar irradiance cycle. Because of the ocean thermal inertia and decadal irradiance change, the peak warming and cooling effects of solar maximum and minimum are delayed about two years after irradiance extrema. [S]olar variability is not negligible in comparison with the energy imbalance that drives global temperature change. Therefore, because of the combination of the strong 2016 El Niño and the phase of the solar cycle, it is plausible … the next 10 years of global temperature change will leave an impression of a ‘global warming hiatus.’”
In one paragraph, Hansen acknowledges solar variability and oceanic oscillations could overwhelm any effect greenhouse gas concentrations could have on temperatures. And by the way, the result would not be just an “impression of” a global warming hiatus. It would be a real hiatus.
As part of President Donald Trump’s continuing effort to shift focus from the inane quest to fight climate change toward establishing American energy dominance, the Trump administration cut funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, reducing the number of fellowships by half, from eight to four. Since its inception in 1992, the program has funded 218 fellowships. The program’s eight fellows cost the nation’s taxpayers approximately $2 million each year. EOS reports the Trump administration has also defunded or put on hold at least two other climate-related postdoctoral fellowship programs at other agencies.
Journalist James Delingpole writes another measure indicating the Trump administration’s “draining of the climate swamp” has begun to have an impact is the fact the words “climate change” appeared in 40 percent fewer university research grant applications in 2017, according to the National Science Foundation.
“To be absolutely clear, … NOAA’s ‘prestigious’ Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is a waste of money,” writes Delingpole. “The four places on the program which have been scrapped so far are a very good start. Let’s hope the other four places … are nixed soon.”
I couldn’t agree more.
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