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Newsweek Magazine Calls Obama ‘The First Gay President’ | Newsmax

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House, U.S. Media by James Pat Guerréro on 05/14/2012

President Barack Obama’s unplanned, sudden endorsement of gay marriage may pose potential political challenges for him in the upcoming months, but at least one news organization is proclaiming the married father of two the nation’s “first gay president.”

Newsweek on Sunday released the cover of their next issue, which features President Obama with a rainbow halo and the title of ‘The First Gay President.’ Not to be outdone, The New Yorker magazine’s new cover shows the White House with a gay friendly rainbow column.

Tina Brown, who heads Newsweek, and its sister website The Daily Beast, is known for her appreciation of controversial covers to help boost public interest and sales, the Daily Telegraph points out.

The article accompanying the cover was written by the news magazine’s nominally conservative blogger, Andrew Sullivan, who is an openly gay.

‘When you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work,’ Sullivan said in a statement about the article.

‘He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family,’ he wrote, describing the similarities between Mr Obama and the gay community.

Obama only made his move after his hand was forced by Vice President Joe Biden, who last week said he was quite comfortable with gay marriage. The next day, Education Secretary Arne Duncan seconded Biden with his own support.

Obama, facing a major series of fundraisers dominated by Hollywood liberals and leading members of the gay community, came out later in the week during an interview with ABC News.

Nevertheless, while the mainstream media celebrates the move, there are serious potential political challenges for Obama in most of the states that may decide this year’s election.

But some conversatives have applauded the move. Several pundits last week pointed out that before Obama, the highest ranking government leader to endorse legalized gay unions was former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The move is “the right thing to do,” said strategist Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush.

“I give the president great credit for voting his conscience, because when you net this all out, it’s not a political winner,” McKinnon said today on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Offering an overview of some of the most competitive battlegrounds in Democrat Obama’s re-election bid, McKinnon said, “You net look at those states and think about where’s that going to help him, probably just one — Colorado. And maybe New Hampshire.”

In other swing states — including Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Arizona, Missouri and North Carolina — “arguably, it’s a net loser,” McKinnon said of Obama publicly expressing support for same-sex marriage in an interview May 9 with ABC News.

Obama’s statement set off speculation about its political effect and the contrast it creates with presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposes gay marriage. Romney reiterated his opposition in a commencement address yesterday at Lynchburg, Virginia-based Liberty University, an evangelical school.

McKinnon, who helped orchestrate Republican Bush’s successful White House campaign in 2000 and 2004, in expressing his own support for Obama’s decision said the president may gain some political benefit from it.

Leadership ‘Important’

“What’s important is we have a president who leads and stands for what he believes in,” McKinnon said. “President Bush won re-election in 2004 not because people liked him necessarily, or even agreed with his policies, they voted for him because they thought he had core principles and he’d fight for them.”

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who held that job under Bush and who McKinnon termed “a legend” among Republicans, also expressed support for Obama’s decision on “Face the Nation.”

“I don’t know about politics,” Olson said when asked about the move’s possible impact on the election. “I do know about human rights, and constitutional rights, and on that basis I think the president did the right thing and I’m very glad he did it.”

Olson, the lead counsel for Bush in the 2000 Supreme Court case that decided that year’s election, has joined with David Boies, the lead attorney for 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore in that year’s battle for the White House, to legally challenge California’s 2008 ballot measure known as Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a group opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage, said on “Face the Nation” that Obama’s gay marriage position will bolster Romney’s standing with evangelical voters who are part of the Republican Party base.

“I think that Barack Obama has helped fit that missing piece of intensity that Mitt Romney’s going to need,” Perkins said.

In March, when the Republican race remained undecided Perkins said that many voters for whom opposition to gay marriage and abortion are paramount issues “have not been excited” by Romney.

“They just don’t think Romney’s conservative,” Perkins said at the time.

Some doubt Obama’s announcement will have much impact on the presidential race.

“I literally don’t think anybody’s vote was changed by this one way or the other,” said Representative Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat.

“I can’t think there are many people who said, OK, well, I’m going to vote for Obama even though he said that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and he said gay people can serve in the military, but if he says marriage, that goes too far,” Frank said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Frank, who is openly gay and isn’t seeking re-election this year after 16 terms in office, referred that Obama administration’s decision last year to no longer defend the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex spouses and the president’s push for repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military.

Polling shows the gay marriage issue deeply divides Americans. Fifty percent of respondents said in a May 3-6 Gallup poll that same-sex marriages should be recognized as legal, with 48 percent saying they shouldn’t.

Independents support same-sex marriage 57 percent to 40 percent, according to the Gallup Poll.

An April 2012 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed a 7-percentage-point drop in opposition among independents over the last four years, and a 15-point drop over the last eight years.

Romney, though, could benefit with older people, as opposition to gay marriage tends to increase by age, according to polls. Just 30 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds were opposed to gay marriage in the Pew survey, compared with 56 percent of those over the age of 65.

© 2012 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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via Newsweek Magazine Calls Obama ‘The First Gay President’.

Dick Cheney On Gay Marriage: “I Certainly Don’t Have Any Problem With It” (VIDEO) | The View

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 05/09/2012

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, surprised viewers on Tuesday’s episode of “The View” when they they expressed their support for gay marriage.

“I think freedom means freedom for everybody,” said the former vice president, “and you ought to have the right to make whatever choice you want to make with respect to your own personal situation.”

“I certainly don’t have any problem with it,” he added.

Barbara Walters, one of the hosts of “The View,” raised the subject when she asked Lynne Cheney what she thought of gay marriage.

Lynne Cheney responded by telling Walters about their gay daughter, Mary, and her partner, Heather, who have two kids. “Whatever Mary and Heather decide to do is up to Mary and Heather,” she said.

“So you’re not against gay marriage?” Walters asked.

“That’s right,” Lynne Cheney said, nodding as the crowd applauded.

This isn’t the first time that Dick Cheney has expressed support for gay marriage, and his comments on Tuesday echoed what he said at the National Press Club in June 2009. But in those comments, however, he added that he believed that same-sex marriage “ought to be handled on a state-by-state basis.”

The former vice president was on “The View” promoting “In My Time,” his new memoir.

via Dick Cheney On Gay Marriage: “I Certainly Don’t Have Any Problem With It” (VIDEO).

Strassel: The President Has a List – WSJ.com

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 04/29/2012
Tagged with:

Al Qaeda: Jaque mate | The Americano

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 08/23/2011

Por esta razón, el Pentágono y la CIA están incrementando las operaciones para cazar a estos líderes destacados de Al Qaeda, con especial énfasis en los que se ocultan en Pakistán, Afganistán, Yemen, Irak y Somalia, aunque no únicamente.

La estrategia que Estados Unidos viene implementando desde hace tiempo para eliminar a Al Qaeda, defendida desde el principio por numerosos especialistas militares y de Inteligencia, se ha enfocado en los tres últimos años en la eliminación de sus principales líderes, algo que ha conseguido con un éxito más que sobresaliente. Ahora, tras la muerte de Osama bin Laden, esta estrategia persigue la eliminación de unos 20 líderes terroristas adicionales, cuya desaparición pondrá a la red terrorista al borde de una derrota definitiva.

Por esta razón, el Pentágono y la CIA están incrementando las operaciones para cazar a estos líderes destacados de Al Qaeda, con especial énfasis en los que se ocultan en Pakistán, Afganistán, Yemen, Irak y Somalia, aunque no únicamente. Son estas operaciones especiales, conjuntas entre fuerzas especiales y agentes de Inteligencia, las que están derrotando a la red terrorista y descabezando sus células. La clave de la estrategia es mantener la presión e intensificar estas operaciones, ya que tenemos la victoria al alcance de la mano y la oportunidad de desactivar a Al Qaeda como una amenaza elevada para este país.

La estrategia denominada “decapitación”, cuyo objetivo es la eliminación o captura de los principales líderes terroristas, está rindiendo unos resultados extraordinarios justo en los momentos más oportunos y ha causado daños reales y definitivos a Al Qaeda, rompiendo su estrategia de ataque de una forma significativa y sustancial. Esto quiere decir en pocas palabras que la perspectiva real de una derrota estratégica de la red terrorista y su desmantelamiento logístico, es una realidad y un objetivo en vías de cumplirse.

En suma, casi diez años después del ataque del 11/S, que se conmemorará en septiembre, Estados Unidos está muy próximo a derrotar a Al Qaeda y pasar página de la guerra contra el terrorismo a una nueva fase con un escenario diferente, no exento de riesgos, pero definitivamente distinto al que hemos combatido hasta ahora.

James Nava es un consultor veterano de inteligencia y un prestigioso escritor, autor de “Lobo gris” y “El agente protegido”. wwww.jamesnava.com

via Al Qaeda: Jaque mate | The Americano.

Global Warming Link to Drowned Polar Bears Melts Under Searing Fed Probe – HUMAN EVENTS | Audrey Hudson

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 08/13/2011

Polar bears drowning in an Alaskan sea because the ice packs are melting—it’s the iconic image of the global warming debate.

But the validity of the science behind the image—presented as an ignoble testament to our environment in peril by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth—is now part of a federal investigation that has the environmental community on edge.

Special agents from the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office are questioning the two government scientists about the paper they wrote on drowned polar bears, suggesting mistakes were made in the math and as to how the bears actually died, and the department is eyeing another study currently underway on bear populations.

Biologist Charles Monnett, the lead scientist on the paper, was placed on administrative leave July 18.  Fellow biologist Jeffrey Gleason, who also contributed to the study, is being questioned, but has not been suspended.

The disputed paper was published by the journal Polar Biology in 2006, and suggests that the “drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues.”

It galvanized the environmental movement that led to the bear’s controversial listing in 2008 as threatened, and it is now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Although the four dead bears cited in the paper were observed from 1,500 feet during flights over the Beaufort Sea, and the carcasses were never recovered or examined, Gleason told investigators it is likely the creatures drowned in a sudden windstorm that produced 30-knot winds, not for lack of an ice pack.

“We never mentioned global warming in the paper,” Gleason told the investigators, according to the transcript.

“But it’s inferred,” responded investigator Eric May.  “That’s why the world took it up as a global warming tangent.”

Gleason told investigators that reaction to his and Monnett’s paper was overblown and spun out of context.

“I think these sorts of things tend to mushroom, and the interpretation gets popularized,” Gleason said.  “Something very small turns into this big snowball coming down the mountain, and that’s, I think, what happened with this paper.”

Gleason concedes that the study had a major impact on the controversial listing of the bear as an endangered species because of global warming.

“As a side note, talking about my former supervisor, he actually sent me an e-mail at one point saying, ‘You’re the reason polar bears got listed,’” Gleason said.

Monnett now manages $50 million in studies as part of his duties as a wildlife biologist with the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Investigators are also examining Monnet’s procurement of one of those research studies on polar bears conducted by Canada’s University of Alberta, as well as the “disclosure of personal relationships and preparation of the scope of work,” according to a July 29 memo from the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office.

In particular, investigators are asking questions about the peer review work on Monnett’s drowned polar bear paper, which was done by his wife, Lisa Rotterman, as well as Andrew Derocher, the lead researcher on the Canadian study under review by the inspector general’s office.

Monnett is being legally defended by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which posted the interviews the inspector general’s office conducted with both scientists on its website.

PEER calls Monnett’s work “groundbreaking research,” and says the investigation is a political attempt to “impugn his observations on polar bears’ vulnerability to retreating sea ice.”

“With each interview, it becomes more outrageous that government funds are being spent on this crackpot probe while paying Dr. Monnett’s salary to sit at home,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER.

“This seven-page paper, which had undergone internal peer review, management review and outside peer review coordinated by journal editors, galvanized scientific and public appreciation for the profound effects that climate change may already be having in the Arctic,” PEER said in another statement in support of Monnett.

Eric Holder’s Justice Department has already declined to pursue any criminal prosecution in the probe, but the scientists still face possible administrative action for any wrongdoing, the inspector general said in the memo.

With investigators suggesting his research is collapsing, Monnett was defensive in the interview, and asked for the inspectors’ credentials to question his work or second-guess his calculations.

For example, there was some confusion as to whether it was three or four dead bears used in the calculation to determine the ratio of survival, and whether Monnett assumed that four swimming bears seen the week earlier were the same polar bears recorded as dead in the next survey.  The statistic in question was the percentage of bears likely to survive when swimming in a storm—Monnett estimated it to be around 25%, whereas investigators put the number at more than 57%.

“Is there a potential we made a mistake, and the peer reviewers didn’t catch it?  Possibly,” Gleason said.

If the scientists had reported the 57% figure, investigator May said, “how people were taking this and exaggerating the results, probably may not have happened in terms of the world taking your study as attributing [the drownings to] global warming.”

After nearly two hours of Monnett defending his work to investigators, Ruch from PEER asked the officials to explain what allegations are being made against Monnett.

May said they are examining the “wrong numbers,” “miscalculations” and “scientific misconduct.”

“Well, that’s not scientific misconduct anyway,” Monnett said.  “If anything, it’s sloppy.”

“I mean, that’s not—I mean, I mean, the level of criticism that they seem to have leveled here, scientific misconduct suggests that we did something deliberately to deceive or to change it,” Monnett said.

“I sure don’t see any indication of that in what you’re asking me about,” Monnett said.

The actual survey Monnett was conducting when he observed the dead bears in 2004 was the migration of bowhead whales.  Investigators questioned how he later obtained data for a table listing live and dead polar bear sightings from 1987 to 2004.

“So how could you make the statement that no dead polar bears were observed” during that time period? May asked.

“Because we talked to the people that had flown the flights, and they would remember whether they had seen any dead polar bears,” Monnett said.

Asked whether he had any documentation to back that up, Monnett said that he did not.

“Science is about making the best case you can to test your hypothesis,” Monnett said.  “You assemble your arguments and your data, you put it out there, and you see who’s going to knock it down.”

“And surprisingly, nobody, you know, knocked this down in any way.  Everybody was just kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah, four dead polar bears.  Okay, that’s kind of cool,’ ” Monnett said.

Dr. Rob Roy Ramey, a biologist who specializes in endangered species scientific issues for Wildlife Science International, Inc., reviewed Monnett’s paper as well as the inspector general’s interviews for HUMAN EVENTS and said that the authors made unwarranted assumptions and large extrapolations based on a single event.

“They did not know if the polar bears actually drowned, they assumed that they had drowned.  There were no statistical tests, just extrapolations made with no accounting for measurement error,” Ramey said.

“The paper gives the appearance that rigorous surveying was done for polar bears, when it was not,” Ramey said.

“They were flying at 1,500 feet with the purpose of looking for bowhead whales, which are much larger and easier to spot.”

Ramey also says he sees a conflict of interest for Monnett’s wife to be part of the internal peer review, and questioned the awarding of a contract to Derocher, who also participated in the peer review.

“That’s not impartial,” Ramey said.  “It’s really important that peer review be truly independent.  If they can’t be, then everyone has to state their conflict right up front.”

“I think it’s very illustrative of the problems with government research on endangered species, and raises the question as to whether government should be in the business of science,” Ramey said.

Numerous studies contributed to the bear’s listing as a protected species, including the paper on polar bear drowning, which was cited in the Federal Register’s proposed rule.

In making the announcement May 14, 2008, to protect the bear under the Endangered Species Act, the Interior Department said the listing “is based on the best available science, which shows the loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat.”

The Interior Department said it would modify regulatory language “to prevent abuse of this listing to erect a backdoor climate policy outside our normal system of political accountability.”

As part of the Endangered Species Act listing, the department said work would continue with scientists to monitor polar bear populations and trends, as well as the effects of oil and gas operations in the Beaufort Sea region.

“Power, money, authority and recognition come with listings on the endangered species list,” Ramey said.

Investigators conducted a second interview with Monnett on Tuesday.  PEER said in a statement afterward that his “2006 peer-reviewed journal article on drowned polar bears remains the focus of the inquiry.”

Myron Ebell​, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said that the government is expected to “spend trillions of dollars to save the world from global warming on the basis of what a few scientists say.”

“There needs to be due diligence, and we need to challenge and investigate every single claim.  The public expects that,” Ebell said.  “But we find over and over that shoddy science has been put forward, and in some cases, dishonest and manipulated science, and they say, ‘Trust us,’ ” Ebell said.

“It’s extremely irresponsible.”

via Global Warming Link to Drowned Polar Bears Melts Under Searing Fed Probe – HUMAN EVENTS.

President Obama Second Worst President on Job Creation | James Pat Guerréro

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 08/04/2011

President Obama is one of the five worst presidents in the modern era on job creation. In the exactly 31 months since he’s been in office, he has come in as the second worst out of five worst presidents. In order of most worse to least worse: President Herbert Hoover, President Barack Obama, President Grover Cleveland, President Woodrow Wilson, and President Dwight Eisenhower.

This is not what Democrats would like one to think. Once the debt issue passed, immediately Nancy Pelosi (D-MD) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) began to “talk about jobs” and claim that job creation is the Democrats’ “strong suit,” respectively.

According to Hassett (2011) of the American Enterprise Institute on the five worst Presidents on job creation since 1890, President Obama came out the second worst behind President Herbert Hoover whose first two and one-half years were during the Great Depression.

Since taking office President Obama has been proclaiming that job creation is the most important issue. But that’s not what his failed economic stimulus and Obamacare shows. Berman (2011) reports that next month’s jobs report by Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc., quite possibly will release figures that show worse job cuts beyond the job report of July which was the largest in the last 16 months. At this time there are 16 million unemployed.

Read More: Polling_News_and_Notes_08_04_11.pdf (application/pdf Object).

References

Berman, J. (2011). Announced U.S. Job Cuts Jumped 59% in July. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-03/announced-u-s-job-cuts-jumped-59-in-july.html.

Hassett, K. A. (2011). One for the History Books. National Review, August 15 Issue.

Obama’s Exclusive George Soros Waivers – HUMAN EVENTS | Michelle Malkin

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 07/30/2011

“Millionaires and billionaires,” President Obama says derisively, must make more “sacrifices” and live by the same rules the rest of America lives by. But there are seven little words that will never appear on the White House teleprompter: “And that means you, too, George Soros.”

For all his (and his wife’s) bashing of greedy Wall Street hedge-fund managers, Obama has shown nothing but love to the world’s most famous hedge-fund mogul. The feeling is mutual and deep(-pocketed).

Soros and his family shelled out $250,000 for Obama’s inauguration, $60,000 in direct campaign contributions and untold millions more to liberal activist groups pushing the White House agenda. While the class warrior-in-chief assails conniving financiers who exploit loopholes and corporate titans who imperil the planet, he lets the Soros exemptions to his attack-the-rich rules slide like butter on a hot plate.

This week, for example, Soros announced he was “quitting” the hedge-fund industry. The headlines emphasized his decision to return about $750 million to outside investors (a drop in his $30 billion bucket of personal wealth). He’s reconstituting the business that landed him on Forbes magazine’s “wealthiest people” list as a “family” interest. But the move has “self-serving politics” written all over it.

Over the past year, Soros provided coveted support for Obama and the Democrats’ Byzantine financial “reforms” under the sweeping Dodd-Frank law. He preached to financial publications around the world about the need for increased regulatory controls over his industry. And in November 2008, while paying obligatory lip service to concerns about going too far, he submitted a statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that recommended: “The entire regulatory framework needs to be reconsidered, and hedge funds need to be regulated within that framework.”

Frameworks for thee, but not for he, however.

Under Title IV of Dodd-Frank, hedge funds were required to abide by new registration and reporting requirements in an attempt to better police systemic risk (not that the feckless Securities and Exchange Commission has ever been able to fulfill that mission). To evade the regulations, Soros and other firms have used a recently passed rule allowing so-called family offices to shield themselves from both registration and disclosure rules that would have subjected Soros Inc. to a new “Financial Stability Oversight Council.”

Somehow, in touting its one-year anniversary last week, there was nary a peep about the myriad loopholes and de facto waivers being granted to Obama’s powerful benefactors whose names start with “S” and end in “-oros.”

GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama called Soros’ hypocrisy out, telling Reuters this week: “It appears that Mr. Soros talked up financial reform only to sell it short. Don’t be surprised to see his fellow Wall Street financiers follow suit.”

This comes on top of the Obama administration’s $2 billion offering in 2009 to Brazilian state-owned offshore oil-drilling company Petrobras — in which Soros and his management company own an $811 million stake.

Offshore drilling for they, but not for the rest of the USA. Membership in the self-exempting progressive billionaires’ club has its privileges.

via Obama’s Exclusive George Soros Waivers – HUMAN EVENTS.

Dump the Military Retirement System? | Military Advantage Blog | Military.com | Terry Howell

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 07/27/2011

Some in the DoD are push­ing to dump the cur­rent retire­ment sys­tem and replace it with a ver­sion of the “Thrift Sav­ings Plan” similar to the one cur­rently offered Fed­eral Employ­ees. This plan would allow DoD to save money by mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions to a civil­ian style 401(k) retire­ment plan.

Accord­ing to some reports, the DoD would also use the new retire­ment plan as lever­age or incen­tive by offer­ing increased con­tri­bu­tion rates for those who opt for mul­ti­ple deploy­ments, hard­ship assign­ments, and high demand or unpop­u­lar mil­i­tary occu­pa­tions. In addi­tion, ser­vice branches could use it to entice ser­vice­mem­bers to retire early or stay in longer.

Unlike past changes to the mil­i­tary retire­ment plan, which shielded cur­rent ser­vice­mem­bers from the changes, the plan pre­sented by the Defense Busi­ness Board would not grand­fa­ther cur­rent ser­vice­mem­bers. The plan would go into effect imme­di­ately and includes cur­rent and future ser­vice­mem­bers.

Click here to find out more!

Under that plan, new recruits would start imme­di­ately earn­ing TSP con­tri­bu­tions, but, would have no incen­tive to stay in the mil­i­tary for 20 or more years since they would not get a fixed-benefit pen­sion. Cur­rent ser­vice­mem­bers would begin receiv­ing TSP con­tri­bu­tions imme­di­ately and would earn a grad­u­ated per­cent­age of their pay if they stay in the mil­i­tary for 20 years or more years. Their fixed pen­sion rate would be based on their years of ser­vice when the new plan kicks in. For exam­ple a ser­vice­mem­ber who has 15 years of ser­vice would get 37.5 per­cent of their base pay at 20 years in addi­tion to the new TSP con­tri­bu­tions.

Some see this as a way to make the sys­tem more flex­i­ble or fair to those who serve less than 20 years and a great way to reduce the over­all cost of mil­i­tary retire­ment.

[BLOGGERS NOTE: A 2010 Defense Busi­ness Board slide show pre­sen­ta­tion states that “Pay­ing the mil­i­tary and their fam­i­lies for 60 years to serve for only 20 years” is unsus­tain­able. Many retirees may find the point of view that “only 20 years” of ser­vice shouldn’t earn ben­e­fits, trou­bling. The same slide pre­sen­ta­tion also refers to the mil­i­tary retire­ment sys­tem as a “sacred cow.” Seems to indi­cate the bias the board has toward mil­i­tary retire­ment.]

Whether you sup­port the over­haul plan or not, you should con­tact your elected offi­cials to let them know how you feel about this issue.

More details are avial­able at the Mil­i­tary Times.

via Dump the Military Retirement System? | Military Advantage Blog | Military.com.

FEC Orders Edwards to Pay Back $2.3 Million : Roll Call News

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 07/25/2011

The Federal Election Commission ruled that former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) will have to pay the government almost $2.3 million following an audit of his 2008 presidential bid.

The payments are mostly a result of Edwards’ acceptance of federal matching funds beyond the limits that he was entitled to and not connected to allegations that he used campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair.

By a unanimous vote, agency leaders ruled that the Edwards campaign has to pay back the government more than $2.1 million in primary matching funds that were “in excess of the candidate’s entitlement.” The FEC also said the campaign may have to pay $142,000 to the Treasury Department for 128 stale-dated checks.

The agency’s decision may deplete most of the remaining $2.6 million that John Edwards for President reported having in cash on hand at the end of June.

“This is a perfectly ordinary event in the lives of publicly funded campaigns,” Democratic FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said. “If you are going to take taxpayer money, then you have to subject yourself to an audit to make sure that taxpayer money was appropriately spent.”

In addition to these issues, the audit also found that the campaign misstated financial activity on reports and failed to itemize more than $4.4 million in loan payments.

Republican FEC Commissioner Donald McGahn, who has criticized the agency’s audit division in the past, voted in favor of the recommendations, saying “sitting here today it seems as though the auditors have done what they are supposed to do.”

McGahn also addressed “the pink elephant in the room,” which is how he referred to the technical reporting issues that relate to Edwards’ extramarital affair, his alleged payments to cover it up and the resulting federal investigation.

The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee has been indicted and a criminal trial is expected to begin in October over accusations of campaign finance violations in relation to an affair that he had with Rielle Hunter, who briefly served as the campaign’s videographer. The indictment states that Edwards used campaign cash to funnel almost $1 million to Hunter in order to conceal their extramarital affair. Edwards later admitted to the affair and said he fathered a daughter outside his marriage.

“The allegation, for our purposes, is that money was paid and the theory is that it somehow benefited the candidate,” McGahn said about the large in-kind contribution from a wealthy donor that was used to hide Edwards’ affair. “Let’s assume that legal theory is correct and let’s assume the jury agrees. Would they have to then amend [campaign filings] and show all of that?”

Commissioners also questioned the rules concerning more than $800,000 that the Edwards campaign has paid in legal fees since the election, including some that may have gone toward defending the former North Carolina Senator from federal allegations. The commission took no action regarding these funds.

The FEC’s audit of Edwards recent campaign is the sixth such routine investigation of 2008 presidential candidates by the agency so far. Other released audits have included those for Democrat Joseph Biden, Libertarian Mike Gravel and Republican Duncan Hunter.

The commission has yet to release its audits of Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, Republican nominee John McCain or President Barack Obama. Roll Call first reported this spring that the FEC is also conducting an audit of Obama’s campaign even though it did not accept the federal funds that would legally trigger such an audit.

AlexKnott@rollcall.com | @tweetalexknott

via FEC Orders Edwards to Pay Back $2.3 Million : Roll Call News.

Essential Corruption – HUMAN EVENTS | John Hayward

Posted in U.S. Executive Branch - White House by James Pat Guerréro on 07/21/2011

Prior to this week, Kathleen McGrade was a “contract specialist” for the State Department. That means she had a hand in doling out million-dollar contracts. A lot of those contracts were doled out to the Sterling Royale Group, which offers design and construction services. Over $52 million taxpayer dollars flowed into Sterling Royale’s coffers before it was discovered that its president and vice-president are Kathleen McGrade’s daughter and husband, respectively.

The family went to great lengths to conceal its relationship. Kathleen’s husband, Brian Collinsworth, flat-out lied about it when the Daily Caller confronted him. On the other hand, he did leave his wedding photos posted on his MySpace page. I guess the ethics watchdogs of our masterfully-run federal government can’t be expected to notice things like that.

Just as the public was gathering its breath for a good, old fashioned howl of outrage, the State Department sacked Kathleen McGrade. Huzzah! Big Government is clean once again!

Or do you think there could be more Kathleen McGrades out there?

How are those massive Obama subsidies for politically favored projects ladled out? It’s a process that involves a lot of high-powered super-lobbyists and political connections. Does it matter that none of them ever seem produce much in the way of energy, useful technology, or “green” jobs? Big Government “stimulus” plans never produce the promised results, because politicians have no idea what really needs to be stimulated… but their good friends and big-money contributors have a few suggestions.

When the government picks winners and losers in the marketplace, tossing around bailouts and penalties, what criteria are used to select the “winners?” It’s obviously not efficiency or productivity, or else we wouldn’t be caught in a death spiral of stagnant growth, rising inflation, and sky-high unemployment.

Turn the situation around, and ask yourself this: what if Sterling Royale really was the best company for performing all the work Kathleen McGrade slipped their way? Perhaps they were. They might do great work at a reasonable price… but obviously their relationship with State would never be free of the taint of corruption, even if McGrade’s relationship with the company officers was openly acknowledged. The necessity of avoiding corruption can, itself, lead to inefficiency. Would it be logical to exclude every company whose officers have relatives in the public sector from doing business with the government? Given the current size of the government, is that even possible?

Politics is all about connections. Business can be that way too, of course, but politicians are insulated from the market realities that swiftly punish bad business decisions. Politicians depend on vital supporters and loyal constituencies, whose reward is a higher priority than the efficient allocation of government resources. Why shouldn’t it be? If those resources run low, they can always raise taxes – or the debt ceiling – once again.

There is no such thing as “clean” Big Government. It will always be corrupt, no matter what ethics or campaign laws are passed. It is inherently corrupt. Vast amounts of power are too valuable to be kept off the market. Rich and influential buyers will always be able to persuade politicians to sell their influence. Demand for influence rises as the government expands, and political power becomes the most valuable resource in the land.

Ask oil companies how valuable all their offshore crude is, compared to the political power used to enforce Obama’s drilling moratorium. Ask someone from a corrupt subsidy failure like Solyndra, Obama’s favorite solar cell manufacturer, if any technology in their stockpile is worth more than the political connections that got them a $535 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department, with a lot of corners conveniently cut off the paperwork.

The only way to increase the honesty and transparency of the State is to reduce its size. Clean governments are, without exception, small. Government control of the economy, from bailing out corporate failures to subsidizing politically favored “transformative” industries, is all about neutralizing the results of competition. The opposite of competition is corruption. Anyone who wanted to compete with Kathleen McGrade’s daughter and husband for those State Department contracts could tell you all about it.

via Essential Corruption – HUMAN EVENTS.

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