Aug 19 2012
Randy Weaver moved his family to northern Idaho in the 1980s to escape what he saw as a corrupt world. Over time, federal agents began investigating the Army veteran for possible ties to white supremacist and anti-government groups. Weaver was eventually suspected of selling a government informant two illegal sawed-off shotguns. To avoid arrest, Weaver holed up on his land. On Aug. 21, 1992, a team of U.S. marshals scouting the forest to find suitable places to ambush and arrest Weaver came across his friend, Kevin Harris, and Weaver’s 14-year-old son Samuel in the woods. A gunfight broke out. Samuel Weaver and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan were killed. The next day, an FBI sniper shot and wounded Randy Weaver. As Weaver, Harris and Sara ran back toward the house, the sniper fired a second bullet, which passed through Vicki Weaver’s head and wounded Harris in the chest. During the siege, Sara Weaver crawled around her mother’s blanket-covered body to get food and water for the survivors, including the infant, until the family surrendered on Aug. 31, 1992. Harris and Randy Weaver were arrested, and Weaver’s daughters went to live with their mother’s family in Iowa. Randy Weaver was acquitted of the most serious charges and Harris was acquitted of all charges. The surviving members of the Weaver family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The federal government awarded Randy Weaver a $100,000 settlement and his three daughters $1 million each in 1995.
The main thrust of the story is that one of the daughters of the slain woman has “forgiven” the government killers of her mother. I’m all for forgiveness, of course.
One wonders, though:
Did those killers ever ASK for forgiveness?
Did they keep their jobs?
Did they ever serve time for pre-meditated murder under the color of authority?
Here’s a very basic fact: if Randy Weaver was the person they thought he was when they shot him and killed his wife, the “authorities” who murdered his wife would not now be alive, would they? After all, Mr. Weaver has had all the time he needed to plot any revenge, and carry it out, that he could possibly have needed.
This is one of the darkest of several very dark spots in the Clinton administration, with Janet Reno at the helm of Justice at the time, and Clinton, of course, claiming he didn’t know anything about it.
Just to be clear: today (and for that matter, all through the Clinton administration), the inner cities of America are/were rife with constant sales/possession of illegally sold and owned firearms. These aren’t firearms in the possession of people who are situated remotely and simply wish to be left alone. They are firearms in the hands of criminals, drug dealers and their employees, gansters of several stripes, illegals of all kinds, you name it. These firearms are constantly used to commit crimes, including murder, which is why Chicago and Detroit are more dangerous places to live than Baghdad or Kabul.
What would be the reaction, do you suppose, if the FBI planted snipers on the rooftops of tenements in Chicago, and waited for known criminals to appear, and simply shot them… and then their wives (if they had any…)?
Let’s put it another way: if something like this was done in inner-city Chicago 20 years ago, there would be a national commemoration of it, national introspection about how out of control our government and authorities were, etc.
But unless you were an adult in 1992, who read newspapers, there’s an excellent chance that you have never heard of the FBI murdering civilians at Ruby Ridge. Why do you think that is?
Feb 14 2012
This post is a summary of the Fast and Furious scandal. We now have this letter from Rep. Darrell Issa to Attorney General Eric Holder.
It’s very hard for me to see how the media can let this slide. Holder should resign. But the media is mostly looking the other way. Imagine if a parallel scandal in a Republican administration happened. The media feeding frenzy would be incredible.
The movie Media Malpractice told the story of how the media essentially acted as an arm of the Obama campaign in the 2008 election. It’s gearing up to do the same in 2012, it seems. Actually, I’m not sure it ever stopped.
In any case, pretending that Eric Holder is an honest man who deserves to stay in office is just par for the course.
Read the letter to Holder from Rep. Issa and draw your own conclusions. Holder is clearly stonewalling, hiding, and using every device of his consider power to keep the truth from coming to light. Will the media finally start giving this the coverage it deserves? Only if it’s embarrassed into it…. which has happened before, for example in the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the case of Dan Rather and cronies reporting fake news about George Bush.
Feb 11 2012
I posted this earlier, but it accidentally went to a PAGE instead of a POST. I’m fixing that now.
A year ago this week, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. He died protecting his country from brutal Mexican gangsters. Two AK-47 assault rifles were found at his death site. We now know the horrifying truth: Agent Terry was killed by weapons that were part of an illegal Obama administration operation to smuggle arms to the dangerous drug cartels. He was a victim of his own government. This is not only a major scandal; it is a high crime that potentially reaches all the way to the White House, implicating senior officials. It is President Obama’s Watergate.
Operation Fast and Furious was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and overseen by the Justice Department. It started under the leadership of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Fast and Furious enabled straw gun purchases from licensed dealers in Arizona, in which more than 2,000 weapons were smuggled to Mexican drug kingpins. ATF claims it was seeking to track the weapons as part of a larger crackdown on the growing violence in the Southwest. Instead, ATF effectively has armed murderous gangs. About 300 Mexicans have been killed by Fast and Furious weapons. More than 1,400 guns remain lost. Agent Terry likely will not be the last U.S. casualty.
Mr. Holder insists he was unaware of what took place until after media reports of the scandal appeared in early 2011. This is false. Such a vast operation only could have occurred with the full knowledge and consent of senior administration officials. Massive gun-running and smuggling is not carried out by low-level ATF bureaucrats unless there is authorization from the top. There is a systematic cover-up.
Congressional Republicans, however, are beginning to shed light on the scandal. Led by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rep. Darrell Issa of California, a congressional probe is exposing the Justice Department’s rampant criminality and deliberate stonewalling. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who heads the department’s criminal division, helped craft a February letter to Congress that denied ATF had ever walked guns into Mexico. Yet, under pressure from congressional investigators, the department later admitted that Mr. Breuer knew about ATF gun-smuggling as far back as April 2010. In other words, Mr. Breuer has been misleading Congress. He should resign – or be fired.
Instead, Mr. Holder tenaciously insists that Mr. Breuer will keep his job. He needs to keep his friends close and potential witnesses even closer. Another example is former acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson. Internal documents show Mr. Melson directly oversaw Fast and Furious, including monitoring numerous straw purchases of AK-47s. He has admitted to congressional investigators that he, along with high-ranking ATF leaders, reassigned every “manager involved in Fast and Furious” after the scandal surfaced on Capitol Hill and in the press. Mr. Melson said he was ordered by senior Justice officials to be silent regarding the reassignments. Hence, ATF managers who possess intimate and damaging information – especially on the role of the Justice Department – essentially have been promoted to cushy bureaucratic jobs. Their silence has been bought, their complicity swept under the rug. Mr. Melson has been transferred to Justice’s main office, where he serves as a “senior adviser” on forensic science in the department’s Office of Legal Policy. Rather than being punished, Mr. Melson has been rewarded for his incompetence and criminal negligence.
Mr. Holder and his aides have given misleading, false and contradictory testimony on Capitol Hill. Perjury, obstruction of justice and abuse of power – these are high crimes and misdemeanors. Mr. Holder should be impeached. Like most liberals, he is playing the victim card, claiming Mr. Issa is a modern-day Joseph McCarthy conducting a judicial witch hunt. Regardless of this petty smear, Mr. Holder must be held responsible and accountable – not only for the botched operation, but for his flagrant attempts to deflect blame from the administration.
Mr. Holder is a shameless careerist and a ruthless Beltway operative. For years, his out-of-control Justice Department has violated the fundamental principle of our democracy, the rule of law. He has refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panthers for blatant voter intimidation that took place in the 2008 election. Career Justice lawyers have confessed publicly that Mr. Holder will not pursue cases in which the perpetrators are black and the victims white. States such as Arizona and Alabama are being sued for simply attempting to enforce federal immigration laws. Mr. Holder also opposes voter identification cards, thereby enabling fraud and vote-stealing at the ballot box. What else can we expect from one who, during the Clinton administration, helped pardon notorious tax cheat Marc Rich and Puerto Rican terrorists?
Mr. Holder clearly knew about Fast and Furious and did nothing to stop it. This is because the administration wanted to use the excuse of increased violence on the border and weapons-smuggling into Mexico to justify tighter gun-control legislation. Mr. Holder is fighting ferociously to prevent important internal Justice documents from falling into the hands of congressional investigators. If the full nature of his involvement is discovered, the Obama presidency will be in peril.
Fast and Furious is even worse than Watergate for one simple reason: No one died because of President Nixon’s political dirty tricks and abuse of government power. But Brian Terry is dead; and there are still 1,500 missing guns threatening still more lives.
What did Mr. Obama know? Massive gun-smuggling by the U.S. government into a foreign country does not happen without the explicit knowledge and approval of leading administration officials. It’s too big, too risky and too costly. Mr. Holder may not be protecting just himself and his cronies. Is he protecting the president?
Aug 24 2011
If you’re a lefty, you might be inclined to dismiss this first story, since it’s posted at BIGOVERNMENT.COM, and so biased to the right (although lefties continue to trust the New York Times and the LA Times… funny, that). But the second story, below, is based on a Standford University study…. and we all know what a hotbed of ultra-rightwing radicalism is found at Stanford. I hate that the state has done this, because I have some family members who are counting on the state system to work properly. That is, however, what comes of trusting Democrats to run a budget, let alone make financial projections into the next decade.
The three largest California public retiree plans (CalPERS, CalSTRS, and UCRS) that administer pensions of approximately 2.6 million State and Local public current and retired employees have been under tremendous scrutiny since last year’s release of the Stanford University Institute for Public Policy report: “Going For Broke”. The study concluded that California retirement plans liability was under-funded by over $500 billion.
The report blamed most of the shortfall on the pension plan’s expectation of future annual investment returns of 7.75%; versus a realistic expectation of a 4.14% annual return. The cabal of California politicians, bureaucrats, and crony consultants that justified granting lucrative benefits to employees while failing to contribute enough to support the true pension costs; solemnly dismissed the Stanford report as unsophisticated reflections by academics. But now that a swarm of local governments want to abandon the floundering retirement trusts; the State plans are only willing to credit a 3.8% expected return. If the California State pension plans adopted the same 3.8% rate they are only willing to credit when participants want to leave; their published $288 billion in pension shortfall would metastasize into an $884 billion California State insolvency.
It doesn’t take a Stanford MBA to realize producing consistently high investment returns since 2007 has been a difficult in the extreme. The California State pension plans that currently control $432 billion in assets, suffered a $109.7 billion in losses during the 2008 to 2009 recession. Pension plans normally require employers and their employees to mutually increase contributions to make up pension shortfalls. But public pension plans are notorious for not requiring employees to make significant contribution. California police, prison guards, firemen, and lifeguards can retire at age 50, but have never been required to contribute to fund pensions. With headlines that California plans are in big trouble; many government agencies applied to withdrawal from the State plans. But as calculated below; compounding investments at 7.75% grows to more than three times the amount of compounding investments at a 3.8% rate of return.
When I was elected as Orange County, California Treasurer in 2006, I was flabbergasted to discover that the County’s $8 billion of retirement investments was covertly leveraged up by $22 billion of derivatives. I quickly learned that many unions see pension benefits as contracted rights; and pension investing as a no risk crap-shoot for extraordinary returns.
If the pension investment returns sky-rocket, the unions will bargain for increased benefits. If the pension investment returns crash; the public employees are protected by rock-solid contract law that prevents any reduction in benefits. In 2007, I was fortunate to gain the support of enough OC Pension Trustees to reduce speculative derivative use by 90%. At the time, Trustees for the California public pension plans solemnly dismissed Orange County as unsophisticated. Shortly thereafter the stock market crashed and the State Pension Trustees stopped making comments.
Once famous as the Golden State for leading the nation in high tech growth industries that provided excellent wages; California is now tarnished for having the second highest unemployment and worst state credit rating in the nation. Forbes recently quoted a top venture capitalist that compared the California business climate to France: “I try not to hire here, and I certainly would not launch a company here. But the wine is good.” Tripling of the burden for under-funded pension liability to almost $1 trillion will probably ruin the taste of California wine for most taxpayers.
California state pension funds going broke, Stanford study finds
New calculations by Stanford graduate students show that California’s three main public employee pension funds are in more dire financial trouble than previously believed.
BY GWYNETH DICKEY
California public employee pension systems are worse off than anyone previously projected, according to a new report generated by five graduate students in Stanford’s graduate Public Policy Program. The result could be greater pressure on the state budget and a shortage of pension funds in the future.
“This is a really dire situation,” graduate student Howard Bornstein said today at a press conference at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), which is publishing the students’ findings. “If we don’t do something now, we’re going to have major issues in just a few years.”
Bornstein and his fellow graduate students examined public records of past performance of three pension funds – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the University of California Retirement System (UCRS), which together administer pensions for approximately 2.6 million Californians.
The students ran computer simulations to predict the unfunded liabilities of the pension funds over the next 16 years.
Major investment needed
“The simulation shows that the state would need to invest more than $200 billion, and possibly as much as $350 billion, today to return the fund to a minimum responsible level of funding,” said Bornstein, who noted that the figure is approximately four times the current state budget.
“It’s an enormous number,” said Joe Nation, a public policy lecturer at SIEPR and the adviser for the research team. He said it’s important to look at the shortfall relative to state resources. Pension funds fluctuate with market performance, but state employees are guaranteed a fixed pension regardless. If the market performs poorly, the state is obligated to step in and provide the missing pension funds. That takes money away from other public projects, such as education and healthcare, Nation said.
“The students did an amazing job providing a better sense of unfunded liability for those three pension funds, and I hope observers out there will begin to understand that this is a financial train wreck that is not very far down the tracks,” Nation said.
In the report, Bornstein and his fellow graduate students suggest policies to fix the shortfall and prevent a similar one in the future.
They propose that the managers of the pension funds project more realistic rates of return, which would indicate higher liabilities in the future.
“The whole approach that the state currently uses is inherently flawed. They look at averages as opposed to a fan of outcomes,” said Bornstein. “If you instead look at the range of outcomes in the future, you’d see there’s over a 60 percent chance of a deficit greater than $250 billion for CalPERS alone. This is something that really scares us.”
The students suggest that the minimum level of caution should be for the pension systems to aim for an 80 percent probability of having at least 80 percent of the funds necessary to cover the pensions. They also advocate investing more conservatively, taking fewer risks.
“Funds in other parts of the country are in similar situations, and they are beginning to invest in riskier assets,” Nation said. “That’s exactly the wrong thing to do. If the market doesn’t perform well, the taxpayer ends up paying.”
The students suggest either reducing pension benefits or moving to a hybrid system in which retirees receive a smaller fixed pension combined with a 401(k)-style plan. This would relieve some of the burden on the state and give employees more responsibility for their retirement. Two-thirds of Californians would support such a plan, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
“The biggest challenge with this is making sure elected officials understand the severity of the problem,” Nation said. “It’s a political hot potato and most politicians shy away from the issue because you offend a lot of the constituencies by acknowledging the problem exists.”
But, he said, citizens and institutions are increasingly aware of the situation and are speaking out.
“The University of California is engaged in this debate because they finally understand that as pension fund benefits grow, there will be fewer dollars for higher education,” Nation said.
The report was prepared for the Office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of the Graduate Practicum in Public Policy, a two-quarter sequence required for master’s degree students in the Public Policy and International Policy Studies programs.
In addition to the masters’ program in Public Policy, Bornstein will earn his Masters in Business Administration degree this June.
SIEPR conducts research on important economic policy issues facing the United States and other countries. SIEPR’s goal is to inform policymakers and to influence their decisions with long-term policy solutions.
What’s funny is the heading above, “major investment needed.” The left wants to make a major investment, alright. An Obama-style investment, called enormous tax hikes to fund impossible promises made to public employee unions.
Something will have to give. Higher taxes to fund impossible-to-fulfill promises will just postpone the disaster, and not by very long. A complete, structural, top-to-bottom readjustment is needed, and people have to lose the idea that they can work for 30 years and retire at the age of 55 and still get paid till they die at 95.
Nov 17 2010
Much has been said here and elsewhere about various leaders, both local and global. In particular President Obama has been in these proverbial crosshairs concerning a variety of issues concerning his leadership since taking office.
The recent election would seem to indicate that more and more voters find Obama to be a toxic leader. But he is certainly not the only leader, good or bad, who affect the lives of the constituency under them.
Research is currently being done concerning how and why people find themselves in a workplace environment under leadership that is considered to be toxic. If you’d like to participate in a survey related to the subject of toxic leadership as it may relate to childhood trauma please click on the following link:
Jun 20 2010
Entertaining. And educational.
Apr 09 2010
When your life and career are predicated on how well you consistently lie to people it is inevitable that the truth will slip out on occasion. After all, constantly maintaining those lies requires constant vigilance. Here are three possible recent slips of the tongue that may give pause for one to wonder if they serve to illuminates a lie:
1. As the First Lady spoke to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender delegate back in 2008 before Barack Obama was elected to office, she proved that once again the truth may be right in front of us.
When we took our trip to Africa and visited his home country in Kenya….
Is it just slightly possible the birthers have a point? Is it slightly possible Barack O. has a reason to spend so much time and money to hide parts of his past?
2. Polls and polling data can be manipulated to provide a desired outcome. Many polls are simply false, but wrap themselves in a garment of non-partisanship legitimacy in order to sway public opinion, not report it. I call this a lie. Here a recent article from The Politico describing a couple of spring special elections for congress and problems for the Democratic party.
According to sources familiar with the effort, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already assembled teams of top party operatives — including veteran pollster John Anzalone and longtime ad man Saul Shorr
So much for pollster neutrality.
3. We were told Obamacare was about providing quality health care to the uninsured. Now that it is law we find out that maybe we were lied to about the intent of this legislation. Commenting on issues raised by the Tea Party movement, Reid said,
They want things to be the way they used to be. They will never be the way they used to be.
Is it just possible this so-called health care bill was about much more than helping the uninsured?
Funny how an off-handed truth can slip past the lie like a small dog through a picket fence. But if you don’t pay attention you might miss it. That’s what the liars are counting on!
Mar 29 2010
We all know how Rep. Bart Stupak caved the day of the passage of the government takeover of health care. But we don’t know why.
Well, we do know why. We’ve known all along that Stupak supported ObamaCare. After getting his amendment passed to the original public option health care bill that passed the House in November, he voted for the final bill. But it is baffling to pro-lifers why he, who had the power to singlehandedly make or break health care reform, would give up all that power in the last minute for a worthless scrap of paper.
An executive order cannot change current law. They can easily be overruled by the courts, which have done so in the past. Legislation from Congress supersedes them. And an executive order can be rescinded at any time. President Obama could sign the order then revoke it 60 seconds later. If the new health care system withstands legal challenges and a possible repeal, this executive order will just become another Mexico City Policy, rescinded and reinstated whenever a new president takes office.
Stupak’s move pleases neither side of the abortion debate. The pro-life side thinks the order doesn’t go nearly far enough, and the pro-abortion side thinks it goes too far. The SBA List rescinded the Defender of Life award we were supposed to give Stupak at our gala two days ago. Other pro-life groups across the country have condemned him and are now working to defeat him instead of supporting him. Pro-abortion groups are doing the same. NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund are now backing Stupak’s primary challenger.
In an editorial to be published Saturday in the Washington Post, Stupak says, “The pro-life groups rallied behind me – many without my knowledge or consent – not necessarily because they shared my goals of ensuring protections for life and passing health-care reform but because they viewed me as their best chance to kill health-care legislation.”
Oh, yeah? Then why did pro-lifers in Congress vote in favor of the Stupak Amendment in November, thus opening the door for your group to vote for the bill and therefore pass it? And if you didn’t want pro-life groups rallying behind you, why did you accept their money and support?
Mr. Stupak, we trusted you. We thought we had found a hero, someone who was standing up for Life when it looked hopeless. And then we found out you’re just like any other politician, lying to the people to get your way. You broke our heart. And now pro-lifers are not rallying around you, but around your opponent. We’re going to do everything we can to ensure you get defeated with everyone else in November.
Actually, I think the Left is quite happy with Stupak. They got what they wanted from him, and he provided cover for Democrats from pro-life districts. In the end, he sold out to Obama and the Democrats for less than a mess of pottage.
The definition of a pro-life Democrat is someone who wants to say they are pro-life but vote for pro-abortion candidates and policies. That’s because they think many other things are more important than ending legal abortion. But you can’t be seriously pro-life and think that there is all that much that matters more than ending legal abortion. So another way to describe a “pro-life” Democrat is as someone who is vaguely uncomfortable with legal abortion-on-demand, but doesn’t think it matters enough to do anything really significant about it, and certainly not enough to take any political risks for it, or risk losing on any other issue that matters more.
These days, pro-life Democrats always fold in the end, which is predictable by the fact that they caucus with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
The latest oxymoron: pro-life Democrat.
Add it to the list of species that went extinct in the 20th century.
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