Free Markets, Free People

Ethics

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IRS Commissioner knew about illegal targeting of conservative groups a year ago

And, as it always seems to happen now days, nothing was done:

In late March 2012, IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller–who resigned his post as acting commissioner last week at President Obama’s request–directed senior technical advisor Nancy J. Marks to investigate allegations of political targeting of groups seeking tax exempt status, agency officials told congressional aides. Holly Paz, acting director of ruling and agreements, worked with Marks on the probe, and both traveled to Cincinnati to conduct interviews.

Sounds serious, right?  Eh, not so much:

On May 3, 2012. Marks gave what IRS officials described as a “presentation” to Miller describing her findings. According to the House aide, Marks said the investigation had found significant problems in the review process and a substantial bias against conservative group. No written findings were produced as a result, the aide said, and it does not appear the internal review led to any disciplinary actions against IRS employees.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if, in fact, “a substantial bias against conservative groups” was found, and it was important enough, at least initially to send Paz and Marks to check it out, then by doing nothing, it would seem to me that IRS management at least tacitly endorsed the action.

Which may be why certain IRS official has decided has decided to plead the Fifth:

A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.

Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.

And yes, you’re right … this stinks to high heaven and it absolutely begs to be prosecuted.

Of course, if you had any faith in government, you’d expect it too.

That exempts me, however. I expect a few low level IRS employees to get to take one “for the team” and those that actually made it happen will, as usual, escape scott free.

That’s how it works today in this land where everyone is “equal” under the law.

~McQ


MLK is spinning in his grave

I wonder what Martin Luther King would say on the day  a black president is sworn in for his second term – a day that also celebrates King’s birth. You hope he’d be pleased. But my guess is, since he was more concerned with the content of your character than the color of your skin, that might not be the case.

Why? Because of the ongoing assault on our rights. For instance the gun control distraction that involves an Attorney General who is possibly the greatest hypocrite and biggest criminal in Washington.

What am I talking about?

Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.

Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and “specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”

The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder’s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama’s administration filed what’s called a “motion to stay” the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.

I don’t care what anyone says what happened with Fast and Furious was criminal. And the ongoing cover-up is also criminal.  The “most transparant administration ever” is, in fact, the most opaque.

As for the hypocrisy, well that’s easy, especially given Fast and Furious.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the government will consider “imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals” while talking about gun control to U.S. mayors.

ERIC HOLDER: And to consider a series of new federal laws imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals.

Who is the biggest “gun trafficker” we know of?

Eric Holder.

~McQ


As the left calls Romney a “liar”, Thomas Sowell exposes the real liar

Pay attention because this is important.

A week or so ago, a video from a 2007 Obama speech surfaced in which he used race baiting tactics to exploit the Hurricane Katrina disaster as proof that Republicans didn’t care for Black Americans.

In his speech — delivered in a ghetto-style accent that Obama doesn’t use anywhere except when he is addressing a black audience — he charged the federal government with not showing the same concern for the people of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina hit as they had shown for the people of New York after the 9/11 attacks, or the people of Florida after hurricane Andrew hit.

Departing from his prepared remarks, he mentioned the Stafford Act, which requires communities receiving federal disaster relief to contribute 10 percent as much as the federal government does.

Senator Obama, as he was then, pointed out that this requirement was waived in the case of New York and Florida because the people there were considered to be “part of the American family.” But the people in New Orleans — predominantly black — “they don’t care about as much,” according to Barack Obama.

Got it?  That was the crux of the speech.  Now remember, when delivered, he was a US Senator.  And remember too that the speech was delivered on the 5th of June, 2007.

Why is that significant?

Here’s why:

Because, less than two weeks earlier, on May 24, 2007, the United States Senate had in fact voted 80-14 to waive the Stafford Act requirement for New Orleans, as it had waived that requirement for New York and Florida. More federal money was spent rebuilding New Orleans than was spent in New York after 9/11 and in Florida after hurricane Andrew, combined.

So on the 5th of June, Senator Barack Obama got up and told a lie.  A known falsehood.  The Stafford Act had already been waived.  In the United States Senate.  You know, the body to which he was an elected member?

And if you can believe it, it gets worse:

The Congressional Record for May 24, 2007 shows Senator Barack Obama present that day and voting on the bill that waived the Stafford Act requirement. Moreover, he was one of just 14 Senators who voted against – repeat, AGAINST — the legislation which included the waiver.

Sowell says:

Some people in the media have tried to dismiss this and other revelations of Barack Obama’s real character that have belatedly come to light as “old news.” But the truth is one thing that never wears out. The Pythagorean Theorem is 2,000 years old, but it can still tell you the distance from home plate to second base (127 ft.) without measuring it. And what happened five years ago can tell a lot about Barack Obama’s character — or lack of character.

I don’t use the word “liar” much.  Politicians stretch facts, spin them to their own advantage, etc.  But there are certain instances when the word is very appropriate.

This is one of them.  And, as Sowell implies, that’s why this isn’t “old news”.

So next time you see the left deploy the  word “liar”, refer them to this “old news” and remind them about “glass houses”.

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO


Wisconsin recall election: How dirty is it?

All you have to do is look at the latest smear against Gov. Scott Walker and its clear that there is no limit to what the opposition will throw out there:

Bernadette Gillick was a college freshman in 1988 when she first met Scott Walker. It was spring semester, and she had just transferred to Marquette University. She was assigned a room in O’Donnell Hall (then a women’s dormitory), which she shared with her new roommate, Ruth (not her real name). Ruth was dating Scott Walker, who was 20 at the time, and, according to Bernadette, Ruth was deeply in love with him.

Midway through that spring semester, Bernadette alleges, Ruth found out she was pregnant. She informed her boyfriend, Scott, and initially he was supportive. That support changed to callous indifference for his girlfriend’s predicament after Scott informed his parents of the pregnancy.

Bernadette reports that at this point Scott began denying that he was the father of the baby, and when Ruth said she was considering an abortion, he claimed he didn’t care, as he wasn’t the father anyway.

Bernadette remembers being present when Ruth was dealing with the wrath of Scott’s mother, who allegedly admonished Ruth for trying to “ruin [her son's] reputation.”

“I supported her [Ruth] as he [Scott] went from encouraging her to get an abortion, to telling me it was in my best interest to keep my mouth shut, to denying that he was the father and having his own mother call her and tell her to stop erroneously accusing her son of paternity,” Bernadette recounts.

It was a “horrible time” for her friend. “Imagine her being 18 years old and pregnant, walking around Marquette’s Jesuit Catholic campus with her boyfriend denying he was the father,” says Bernadette.

All this was taking place while Walker was running for student body president. As one of his classmates, Dr. Glenn Barry recalled in a remembrance published last week, Walker’s campaign was, “one of the dirtiest in school history.” The student newspaper Marquette Tribune called him “unfit for office” after his campaign was discovered collecting and throwing out copies of their paper that endorsed his opponent. Commenting on the election and Walker’s political career and style at Marquette, he noted, “Walker lost on all counts, but not before destroying a few people’s reputations, and amassing personal power.”

If Bernadette’s story is true, Ruth – and eventually their child – were just a few of the people who got in the way of Walker’s quest for power.

Note the last sentence – “If Bernadette’s story is true …”.

Well, according to “Ruth”, it isn’t.  Too bad the “Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op” didn’t bother to do the basic verification a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online reporter (btw, as much crap as we give the MSM, its nice to see one of it’s members do some basic work) did rather quickly and easily:

Daniel Bice June 3, 2012 at 3:15 am Reply

I am getting a lot of emails because of this post. Two things: (1) I tracked down and talked to Dr. Gillick’s freshman-year roommate at MU yesterday, and she adamantly denies that Walker is the father of her child. Yes, she got pregnant as a first-year student, but she believes Dr. Gillick is mixing up stories …

Or, the child wasn’t Scott Walker’s.

The “Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op” then writes a follow up ironically entitled – “Editorial: On Integrity” where it attempts, poorly in my estimation, to justify running an unverified rumor that was quickly debunked. 

Further irony?  The Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op recalls Walker’s campaign at Marquette as “one of the dirtiest in school history”.

Heh … my bet it can’t hold a candle to the dirt the Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op just tried to dish on Walker.

But the irony impaired won’t get that either.

June 5th ought to be a very interesting day.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Quote of the Day: Do as I say, not as I do edition

The Democrats are a gift that just keeps on giving.  Hypocrisy R Us.  They make a career out of it.  You have a president who can’t get a single vote on the two budgets he’s submitted telling us why one which actually received a majority in one house of Congress is “out of touch”.

Then there’s the holier than thou, “we don’t take from special interests” ban on lobbyists and corporate contributions.  Or not.

LA Times headlines provide your quote of the day:

Democrats give special interests a role at convention

Organizers have found ways to skirt their own rules and give corporations and lobbyists a presence at the national event in September. The situation reflects President Obama’s difficulties in delivering on a vow to limit the influence of money in politics.

This is just wonderful stuff:

Despite the ban on corporate money, for example, convention officials have encouraged corporate executives to write personal checks, according to sources familiar with the fundraising. And they have suggested that corporations can participate by donating goods and services to the convention, and by giving up to $100,000 through a corporate foundation.

They have also quietly explained to lobbyists that while they can’t make contributions, they can help raise money from their clients — by soliciting personal checks from executives or in-kind contributions from corporations. Lobbyists who bundle high sums will get perks like premium credentials and hotel rooms.

Oh, how wonderfully clever.  You have to feel all the confidence in the world in an organization that imposes rules on itself and then finds way to skirt them, don’t you?  Of course, no surprise – remember how ObamaCare was passed.

Finally, another unsurprising twist:

Labor unions, meanwhile, are not specifically prohibited from giving.

Of course they’re not, because while any reasonable person would easily classify them as a “special interest”, the Democrats have simply decided not to.  Why?  Well corporations and lobbyists give to the GOP, so making them pariahs is politically expedient (even if they obviously don’t plan on spurning the pariahs they’ve created), but labor unions won’t give to the GOP so they’re left out of the “special interest” equation.

Ethics – don’t look to the Democrats if you’re wanting positive examples.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


When is it OK to use homophobia? When the target is a right-winger

The Daily Caller spots another example of leftist hypocrisy in action.  

Talking about Andrew Breitbart’s death, a poster at the Daily Kos decides it would be cool to send him off with a nice little protest from the homophobic bigots at Westboro Baptist Church.  You see, Breitbart was a friend to gay right-wing groups such as GOProud.  Instead of celebrating that, the true bigotry of at least this leftist shows through in his (or her) little scheme:

A post dated March 1 by “dragon82a,” titled “Let’s Help Andrew Breitbart go out In Style..Get Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Him” encourages readers to post on the Westboro Baptist Church’s Facebook page calling for the group to protest Andrew Breitbart’s funeral:

Here is the Facebook of the WestBoro Baptist Church:

Send them a message anything will do, about how much publicity they would get by Protecting [sic] Andrew.

http://www.facebook.com/…

Lets give back to Andrew what he has so generously given to us all these years.

We could call this “Operation Sendaway”

Because you see, using homophobic fundies (who’s leader is a Democrat activist by the way) in their cause is okay, but utter one word that could even sound like it might be anti-gay and they’ll be on you with all the false righteous indignation they can muster in a heartbeat.

Of course, don’t bother pointing this out to them … they simply won’t get it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


WaPo: Politicians loot treasury for personal gain. Apparently that’s news

Most of us have known about it for decades:

A U.S. senator from Alabama directed more than $100 million in federal earmarks to renovate downtown Tuscaloosa near his own commercial office building. A congressman from Georgia secured $6.3 million in taxpayer funds to replenish the beach about 900 feet from his island vacation cottage. A representative from Michigan earmarked $486,000 to add a bike lane to a bridge within walking distance of her home.

Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation.

This is why earmarks need to go away for good. 

Ask yourself how a person elected to office who essentially has nothing (in comparative terms) and ends up sleeping in his or her office to save rent somehow, after years in office, ends up going home worth millions.

It’s a common DC success story.  And yet, no one seems to question it.  It’s just quietly accepted as something that just happens apparently.  It certainly isn’t a result of their salary, unless they are budget wizards and live on dust and water.

Most disturbing though is this:

Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

Earmarks have long been controversial, with the focus on spending that unduly favors campaign donors or constituents. The Post’s review is the first systematic effort to examine the alignment of earmarks with lawmakers’ private interests.

Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget, and the numbers uncovered by The Post are relatively small in the scheme of the overall Congress, but the behavior by lawmakers from both parties points to a larger issue at a time when confidence in Capitol Hill is at an all-time low.

Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget – that’s true.  But they are a perk that Congress has granted itself where lawmakers have the ability to loot the treasury in the name of their own interests (while using the façade of helping their district or state). 

And it’s not the only perk.  Insider trading for instance.  President Obama brought it up in the SOTU address:

In response,the Senate last week passed legislation that would require lawmakers to disclose mortgages for their residences. The bill, known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act, would also require lawmakers and executive branch officials to disclose securities trades of more than $1,000 every 30 days.

I have about as much hope for that happening as Congress moving to prevent the use of earmarks.  At the same time the Senate introduced the insider trading legislation it defeated an amendment, 59-40, that would have permanently outlawed earmarks.

Read the whole article – it’s a litany of what is wrong with our system.  It incentivizes behavior like this and, it leave the policing of that system to the very people who benefit from it.

It is the very definition of “dysfunctional”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Cain, politics, personal behavior and “the truth” (update)

A couple of polls have emerged since the charges of sexual harassment by Herman Cain, a GOP presidential candidate, were first surfaced by POLITICO. The reason the two polls are meaningful is they essentially address the same issue and come to much the same conclusion.

That is, the personal behavior of candidates matters to voters.  But, as I’ve observed it over the years, it means less to some voters than others.  Oh, by the way, when asked a question about morality, how do you suppose most people will respond?  Just sayin’.

But with those caveats let’s take a look.  First the Reuters/Ipsos poll:

The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.

Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.

The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.

A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.

Now I’m not sure yet how anyone can flatly say or believe the allegations are “true” based on what has so far been revealed about the alleged harassment.  So far the most we know is that 3 women claim to have been victims of “sexual harassment” and two were paid a sum to settle some sort of harassment claims.   And we’ve had one, through her lawyer, anonymously announce she stands by her allegations.  But what exactly are those allegations.   Are they of the Bob Packwood variety?  Or the Bill Clinton variety.  Right now we just don’t know.

While one might conclude that something went on then, it still isn’t clear that the allegations are “true”.   For instance, one could ask, was it cheaper for the Restaurant Association to pay off these women (most likely without admitting any guilt) than to pay armies of lawyers to fight the charges?  We don’t know.   And that sort of doubt and uncertainty casts any thoughts of “the allegations are true” out the window.  We need a lot more information to put “true” or “false” to this.  

But look at the effect it has had.  The unfortunate result of politics today.  This is hardly uncommon.

The second poll was taken by The Hill.

The results of this week’s The Hill Poll indicate that 85 percent of voters regard the way a politician conducts his or her private life as important to how he or she might discharge public duties. Forty-seven percent regard the candidate’s private life as “very important” and 38 percent say it is “somewhat important” in this regard.

The Hill Poll also suggests that 67 percent of voters feel presidential politics have become dirtier over the past generation, while a mere 4 percent say they have become cleaner. Roughly 1 in 4, or 27 percent, believe the ethical nature of presidential battles has stayed about the same as it was in the past.

Those two points sort of explain the politics of personal destruction.  Now I’m again not saying Herman Cain isn’t guilty of sexual harassment.   I simply don’t know at this point.   But I think the results in the poll point out why such allegations surfaced.   I’m of the opinion politics have gotten “dirtier” in the past generation and I think the reason is found in the first paragraph.  It is an easy way to knock out a contender or a threat.  Its that simple.

Politicians will drop to the lowest level of politicking in heart-beat if they perceive a benefit to them in doing so.  And in the last generation we’ve seen leaps of light years in mass communications.  It is much easier to get things like these allegations (with little factual support to this point) out there and going viral.

It’s a bit like the utility of saying something in court you know the judge is going to strike down if you’re a lawyer.  The judge may order it stricken from the record and tell the jury to disregard what was said, but we all know you can’t do that no matter how the judge insists.  The statement just lays there.  Once out of the jar, it can’t be put back in.

Secondly, this sort of an allegation has a tendency to have a weird bandwagon effect.  Remember Tiger Woods and his infidelity?  As soon as the name of one woman surfaced, women from all over raised their hands and said “me too”!  I’m not alleging Cain is like Woods, I’m just pointing out a phenomenon that’s fairly common.    In the case of Cain, these allegations may bring others out who may or may not have a valid claim, but whose mere surfacing will lend credibility to the former allegations.

Again, a technique that’s been used successfully in the past in all sorts of ways. 

Which brings me to the question, where did these allegations come from.  I know they were published in a story by POLITICO, but few if any reporters sniff out stuff like this.  They’re usually handed a tip by someone.  Cain’s campaign immediately claimed it was Rick Perry’s campaign.  The usual denials took place and the Cain campaign backed off.

Cain’s campaign knew this was coming 10 days before it was published.   They did absolutely nothing to address it or try to diminish its impact.  That either speaks of political naivety or the belief that there was no substance to the reported allegations (which brings us back to point one about political naivety).   Consequently when it hit, it hit hard and the polls show the result.  For someone, I’d guess, that was the desired result.

Oh, and one more little fact from the Hill poll that is a huge factor in all of this:

News organizations are viewed poorly in terms of political neutrality and their broader ethical conduct.

Gee, there’s a surprise, no?

It will be interesting to see whether Cain can weather these allegations and regain his momentum.  But the fact that he’s battling nebulous allegations of decades old sexual harassment claims certainly gives me an idea of the type of campaign we’ll witness in the coming 12 months.

If you thought it was dirty out there in politics land before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

UPDATE: The bandwagon effect.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


And now for something completely different–PC’s and embryos

A couple of topics of interest.  Reuters carries a story entitled “Aging PC giants see writing on the wall”.   Seems funny to call the personal computer industry an “aging” industry, but I think the thrust of the article is right – at least regarding the “desktop” computer:

Silicon Valley’s old guard is waking up to the fact that the era of consumer PC may be in its twilight, accelerating the need to invest and adapt to rapidly changing tastes.

This week’s earnings from the giants of technology had one thing in common: they underscored yet again how consumers are increasingly shunning desktop PCs and going mobile.

Intel, which had argued that pessimistic expectations about the market were out of whack, reduced its 2011 PC forecast. Microsoft Windows sales, that reliable indicator of PC market strength, fell short of expectations for the third straight quarter.

And Apple Inc, which single-handedly showed with its iPad that many consumers are more than happy with an unladen, light and mobile computer, obliterated all estimates by selling a whopping 9 million tablets.

"The desktop, at least for consumers, probably doesn’t have a great future, and the iPad and similar tablets can deliver a lot of the functionality of a laptop," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management.

Using only my own experience as a guide, I rarely use my desktop computer anymore.  In fact, I think of it as a legacy computer.   Just about everything I do now is on a laptop.   As for the iPad, I use it extensively as well, but not primarily.  In the type work I do, to include blogging, it is more of a supplementary tool.  But I can see that could easily change.   Given the paucity of good apps for blogging that presently exist – especially Word Press -  I’m on the laptop instead.   However, should that change, the iPad could easily become dominant (especially with the bluetooth keyboard).

On the business side of things, I can see the desktop being around for a while longer.   However, again, my experience working for a company in the field had me only operating off of laptops.   I could see beefed up tablets taking that bit of the market – i.e. that part of the business market that relies on laptops.  So yeah, I’d say the “aging giants” are right.  The desktop is likely headed for the museum.  Laptops probably have a longer (leaner and lighter) future.  At some point, I imagine the tablet and laptop will merge and dominate.

Topic two, from the UK:

Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.

The hybrids have been produced secretively over the past three years by researchers looking into possible cures for a wide range of diseases.

The revelation comes just a day after a committee of scientists warned of a nightmare ‘Planet of the Apes’ scenario in which work on human-animal creations goes too far.

This is a plot right out of a bad mad scientist SciFi movie.  The question of course is “why”?

That question was asked by this committee of scientists and the answer was apparently less than satisfying:

Last night he said: ‘I argued in Parliament against the creation of human- animal hybrids as a matter of principle. None of the scientists who appeared before us could give us any justification in terms of treatment.

‘Ethically it can never be justifiable – it discredits us as a country. It is dabbling in the grotesque.

‘At every stage the justification from scientists has been: if only you allow us to do this, we will find cures for every illness known to mankind. This is emotional blackmail.

But:

‘Of the 80 treatments and cures which have come about from stem cells, all have come from adult stem cells – not embryonic ones.
‘On moral and ethical grounds this fails; and on scientific and medical ones too.’

And:

All have now stopped creating hybrid embryos due to a lack of funding, but scientists believe that there will be more such work in the future.

To recap – they promise wondrous cures in an area where none have been produced and the marketplace has obviously turned its nose up on the effort of producing embryonic stem cells because funding has dried up one suspects to be placed in the area where there is promise and that’s adult stem cells.   So there’s no apparent market or reason to make embryonic hybrids.

Much discussion in the article about the “ethics” of the effort.  Is it indeed “dabbling in the grotesque”?  Is it “never … justifiable?” 

Your thoughts.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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