May 31, 2013

Friday Musical Interlude - I Will Wait

Recently on Nonsensible Shoes Friday Musical Interludes I have posted songs from The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men as current musical acts that have quality and potential.  They are groups that rely on quality writing, melodies, harmonies, and real vocal performances as well as instrumental variety and skill.  In other words they have real talent.  The songs are simple and can compare to songs from years past when the songs were crafted not slapped together to get a quick hit. .  They don't rely on screaming, anger, whining, a repetitive beat, vulgarity, sex or vocal tuning to sell their songs.

A listing of current artist in that mold would not be complete without Mumford and Sons.  Their music hearkens back to folk and country roots from both America and Great Britain.  They are certainly a talented band and an enjoyable listen.  Their biggest hit to date is I Will Wait.  It's instantly recognizable and catchy.


May 30, 2013

FUN: Left Melt Down Over Koch Brothers LA Times Buyout

No time to post today, but here's some schadenfreude from Reason TV for your enjoyment. Watch the left melt down over the Koch Brothers attempt to buy the LA Times.

The tunnel vision of some of the statements are just too rich.  Like 1% rich.

Thursday Hillary Bash - May 30, 2013

I'm trying out a new feature on my blog. Thursdays will feature a Hillary Clinton Bash.  The idea is to poke holes in the notion of her mythological greatness as a leader and her divine right to be the next president of the United States.

The inaugural effort comes from a Steven Crowder and Andrew Klavan  discussion on Benghazi.

May 29, 2013

Saudi Prince Doesn't Trust Iran

An interesting discussion captured by MEMRI TV with a panel of questioners meeting with Prince Al-Waleed who reveals some very interesting opinions and details that as a North American we usually aren't privy to seeing.  Touching on such diverse topics like the Arab Spring and Twitter, he reveals also his distrust for Iran.

May 28, 2013

Top 10 Eric Holder scandals (to date)

Eric Holder, please step down, go away and don't come back.

Here's a list of the Top 10 scandals associated with Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, just because we need a reminder that the current scandal is not the only one.  If you aren't familiar with the specific scandals, links have been included to details of each scandal.  The question is, with 10 scandals associated with the Attorney General, why is he still in that role?

(10) The Holy Land Foundation. (2009-2012) Never heard of it?  Most people haven't but it has to do with the financing of terrorism.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee on oversight on Thursday called on U.S. Attorney General to provide documents and evidence relating to the landmark Holy Land Foundation trial – the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history.

The committee made a nearly identical request more than a year ago, however, the documents were never made available by Holder or his department, lawmakers say.

Following court proceedings, the Holy Land Foundation was found guilty of providing millions of dollars in funding to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations in 2008. Named as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the trial were the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Both have documented ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood…which then have ties to the Obama administration, but I digress.

Lawmakers, like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), are again asking to see the evidence presented in that trial, a request that Holder does not seem to be in a hurry to fulfill. In an impassioned speech, the congressman challenged Holder to uphold his oath to “justice.”
(9) Perjury (2013) Tied into other elements of the list, it appears Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, lied in testimony. There's nothing wrong with that if you are a Democrat; Bill Clinton set the standard.
...Pay particular attention to this statement made by Eric Holder during sworn testimony last week before Congress:
In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.
...The problem for Holder is that we now know he personally signed off on the order to get a subpoena for Fox News’ James Rosen’s phone records. The entire basis of the warrant for those records relies on Rosen being a potential conspirator and therefore potentially prosecuted.

...I’m sure Holder and his allies will say that they never intended to prosecute Rosen, but that’s 1) not the point and 2) even worse. If that’s their defense, they knowingly lied to the judge who would, hopefully, reject the request if they admitted it was just a fishing expedition for information.

They’re stuck. Either he (by signing the request for the records) lied to the judge or Holder lied directly to Congress.
This guy again?
(8) Contempt of Congress (2012)  Note to Mr. Holder - you are the Attorney General.  You are not supposed to perjure yourself or get yourself held in contempt of Congress.  Again, related to another scandal in this list (proving that when Holder gets in trouble, he lies), Eric Holder demonstrates he clearly does not respect Congress.
The House has voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over his failure to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal, the first time Congress has taken such a dramatic move against a sitting Cabinet official.

The vote was 255-67, with 17 Democrats voting in support of a criminal contempt resolution, which authorizes Republicans leaders to seek criminal charges against Holder. This Democratic support came despite a round of behind-the-scenes lobbying by senior White House and Justice officials - as well as pressure from party leaders - to support Holder.

Two Republicans, Reps. Steve LaTourette (Ohio) Scott Rigell (Va.), voted against the contempt resolution.

Another civil contempt resolution, giving the green light for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to sue the Justice Department to get the Fast and Furious documents, passed by a 258-95 margin.
(7) Drone Strikes (2009-2013)  Holder believes that it's okay to drone strike American citizens.  I understand the need to get terrorists.  But for an Attorney General to not care about the rights of actual citizens while being concerned about giving civilian trials to terrorists (yes, another scandal in this list) just seems like severely misplaced priorities.
Holder literally believes the U.S. government has the right to assassinate anyone, including U.S. citizens, without ever having to explain to anyone why they did it. As Obama continues to add names to his "kill list," Holder remains his most stalwart defender. According to Justice Department memos, the President (and any president that comes after him) can kill you just because he decides it would be a good idea.

The Constitution, of course, guarantees that no-one can be subject to punishment without due process. Holder famously redefined the term, saying "'Due process' and 'judicial process' are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security." Never mind that this flies completely counter to both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution...
(6) HSBC Money Laundering  need not be prosecuted. Seriously?  Forget contempt of Congress, this guys has contempt for his own job.  He's taken to task for it by the very liberal New York Times no less:
...Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, asked for more information on why federal and state authorities chose not to indict HSBC after it acknowledged laundering money for Mexican drug cartels, helping rogue states avoid international sanctions and working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations.

Mr. Holder said: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

It’s nice and all that Mr. Holder cares about the stability of the global financial system, but that is not Mr. Holder’s job. As attorney general he is the country’s top law enforcement officer, and in that capacity he should prosecute criminals and criminal institutions.

As we wrote in an editorial after the no-indict decision, “when prosecutors choose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as this, the law itself is diminished. The deterrence that comes from the threat of criminal prosecution is weakened, if not lost.”

(5) Civilian Trials for Terrorists Remember when Eric Holder was all for trying terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other al Qaeda planners of 9/11 in a civilian trial in New York?

Attorney General Eric Holder, who dropped this legal bomb on New York yesterday, called his decision to move their trial on war crimes from a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay to American soil "the toughest" he has had to make. Other words come to mind. For starters, intellectually and morally confused, dangerous and political to a fault.

This decision befits President Obama's rushed and misguided announcement on his second day in office that he would close Gitmo within a year. This was before the Administration had thought through what to do with the 215 prisoners there, though it did win him applause in Europe and on the American left. Yesterday's decision rids Gitmo of these meddlesome detainee cases in order to speed up this entirely political shutdown.
Thankfully it ended up not happening, but it was certainly scandalous at the time of the announcement. Holder ended up backing down.

(4) Non-prosecution of Black Panthers.  When Black Panthers stood outside a polling station to intimidate white voters from entering to place their votes in 2008. They were charged for their actions.  But they were not prosecuted.  In fact, Eric Holder apparently insisted they not be prosecuted.  Via Western Journalism:

A former Justice Department attorney who quit his job to protest the Obama administration’s handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case is accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of dropping the charges for racially motivated reasons.

J. Christian Adams, now an attorney in Virginia and a conservative blogger for Pajamas Media, says he and the other Justice Department lawyers working on the case were ordered to dismiss it.

“I mean we were told, ‘Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party,’” Adams told Fox News, adding that political appointees Loretta King, acting head of the civil rights division, and Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney with the division since 2003, ordered the dismissal.
(3) America, "nation of cowards" A scandal that does not involve the courts, Eric Holder actually referred to America as a nation of cowards:
In his speech, Holder expressed a brazen skepticism of the concept of America as a “melting pot,” seeing that as a form of self-deception. Despite the achievements of the civil rights struggle, Holder argued, racism and segregation had in some ways increased:
Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated.
Holder’s contradictory ideas—celebrating “positive” race consciousness while decrying continued segregation—are a tempered though familiar version of Bell’s radical idea that the civil rights movement had, in many ways, entrenched white supremacy in America.
(2) Fast and Furious  Since people died as a result of this horribly bad idea, arguably it should be the number one Eric Holder scandal. This is Eric Holder's Benghazi - it resulted in American deaths (not to mention numerous Mexican deaths). 
The "Fast & Furious" investigation was catalyzed on December 14, 2010, when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with Mexican cartel members in a remote Arizona canyon. The bullet that killed Terry came from a gun that was part of the multi-agency government operation called "Fast & Furious." In addition to Terry, hundreds of U.S. and Mexican citizens have been killed by cartel members wielding one of the more than 2,000 weapons paid for by government funds and sent to Mexico during the 2009-2011 "Fast & Furious" operation.
...Brian Terry died in December 2010, fatally wounded by a gun that was purchased by an ATF-semi-supervised "Fast & Furious" gun runner in January 2010, with money the FBI gave him in November 2009. None of those events could have been authorized by Mike Mukasey, the last Attorney General under George W. Bush; both left office January 20, 2009.
"Fast & Furious" is all about Eric Holder, who was Attorney General during all three of the Terry-related events, and who has denied knowledge just as Nixon's campaign chair and Attorney General John Mitchell did about Watergate from 1972 to the end of his life. 
Eric Holder really could be Obama's version of John Mitchell, who went from war hero and "Top Cop" to felon in disgrace.
(1) Press prosecution (AP, and Fox) After going after AP for phone records, the scandal that could take down Eric Holder expanded to a focus on a Fox News reporter.  Who knows how much deeper it goes.  But because this scandal has grown to the point where even many liberals are calling for his resignation and it might result in him losing his job, this will eventually rank as Eric Holder's biggest scandal.

What exactly happened? First, the Associated Press scandal hit the news:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. 
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls. 
In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters. 
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
But the story expanded beyond that and gave Holder little room to extricate himself from his previous misleading statements:
In his speech at the National Defense University Thursday, President Obama said, “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law.”
Maybe it’s time for the president to have a heart-to-heart with his attorney general, Eric Holder. 
NBC News is reporting that Mr. Holder “signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a ‘possible co-conspirator’ in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails,” per NBC conversations with a law enforcement official. 
In the case of the government’s subpoena for the phone records of as many as 100 Associated Press editors and writers, Mr Holder left the decision for a deputy to make after he recused himself. 
But if NBC News is right, then the attorney general himself green-lighted the FBI to seek a subpoena for Mr. Rosen’s private emails in the spring of 2010.
With so many scandals, averaging about 2 per year so far, Eric Holder is not up to the job as Attorney General. Not only does he need to resign, he needs to be prosecuted himself for some of these.  

May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day America

...And a heartfelt thank you to those who have served (and are serving) in the military.  Also, to those families who have lost members serving the nation and the cause of freedom, your loss is shared by all who appreciate the sacrifices made.

May 26, 2013

Detroit FAIL

Steven Crowder explains what happened to Detroit. As sad and disturbing as it is true.

May 25, 2013

Saturday Learning Series - MIT's Six Sigma Part 3

A continuation of MIT's series on Six Sigma.

Bill Whittle on Real People

Bill Whittle wonders whether the media has reached it's inflection point, it's moment of truth on Obama.

May 24, 2013

Is America failing the same way Rome did?

I've often wanted to research what caused the downfall of nations and empires to see if there are similarities and lessons to be learned to ensure America doesn't travel down the same path.  Or perhaps nations falling is inevitable.  There is ample evidence - Rome, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, the Mongols, ancient Greece, the Soviet Union and many others all eventually fell by the wayside or simply faded from greatness.

Many people have looked into the decline of various empires.  Here's a recent example worth watching (NOTE, it's preceded by an advertisement that you can skip if you like). There's not an in-depth dive here but the book seems like it might be worthwhile.

Friday Musical Interlude - Of Monsters and Men

Last week I mentioned that a lot of music from yester-year was far superior to the music of today.  While as a generality I believe that is true, there are some excellent and very talented bands out there today with some great songwriting behind them.  Of Monsters and Men is one such promising new band.  The group from Iceland has a very folksy, southern feel on their hit Mountain Sound.  It's their second hit in North America after their "debut" hit Little Talks. Both songs are quite catchy.

Is it just me or does the female lead singer, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (yes, I just typed that) sound similar to Bjork?

As an added bonus, here's Little Talks as well.

May 23, 2013

The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

Take that Hillary Clinton.  Via WSJ:

Government Without Brakes

Forget for a moment about the Orwellian Big Brother aspects of government agencies that feel nothing is wrong with targeting certain groups for harassment (for example the IRS, Justice, and even the EPA though there's no headline scandal right now). Instead, let's focus on what the underlying problem is - that which enables the government agency to feel they are insulated from having to answer to anyone about anything.

There are three reason I can think of that might account for that type of behavior - political motivations aside.  These reasons are not meant to be collectively exhaustive but they likely explain a significant percentage of why agencies think this sort of behavior is acceptable. 

Firstly, these agencies may feel that they are the government's equivalent of too big to fail, i.e. they are too big to answer to anyone because of the sheer titanic mass behind them. That's distressing from the perspective that they are relying on their size to intimidate or to squash any potential resistance.  That sounds a lot like tyranny.

Another possible reason is that because these agencies have become so large, there is no sufficient locus of responsibility.  In other words, no one answers directly to anyone that can be tied back to anyone in an administration.  That seems suspiciously convenient.  Those in charge of the executive branch can speak some ideology and have it obeyed without any accountability on their part or the part of their subordinates.  Either that means a structure prone to abuse due to that lack of specific responsibilities, or a structure prone to abuse because it can be blamed on the expanse of the government and it being beyond manageable.

That's the type of thinking that led to Nazi Germany's death camps. "I was just following orders" is a way to abdicate personal responsibility;
Large-scale evil requires surrender of autonomy, coercion by a central authority and a willingness to follow orders.
With no personal responsibility to stand up and say no to unfair policies and processes, government agencies become especially subject to misguided actions.  It's always someone else's fault.  It's always above everyone's pay grade.

That does nothing of course, to excuse inexcusable behavior.  Nor does that lack of locus of responsibility preclude the "too big to answer to anyone" mentality either.

Another possible motivating factor is that a government department's mandate, by being expanded and growing, continues the justification for that department's continued existence.  In other words, job security is a factor.  

As Oscar Wilde said, “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”  

Government departments are genetically encoded to expand - to propel forward, and find new reasons to justify their own existence.  That leads to massive spending requirements to support these departments and continually diluted and expanded mandates that go well beyond common sense.

Some of the lessons of history still have not been learned.  Governments are still designed without brakes.  And anything unable to stop, eventually crashes into something.

May 22, 2013

Never let a crisis go to waste

What would Rahm do?
Despite the fact that the public's confidence in the above-board nature of the Obama administration has taken a hit (as a result of the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal and the Associated Press Justice Department scandal), there has not yet been a crisis in confidence per se.  But taking a page from the White House playbook, this impending potential crisis represents an opportunity for Republicans:
You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

Rahm Emanuel
Liberals used that motto to great effect - Dodd Frank, Obamacare, election victories all were outcomes that liberals felt they had enough of a crisis to push their own brand of solutions onto the nation.

While these scandals all are still unfolding the GOP should be getting it's act together behind the scenes in preparation for ways to react as they unfold individually.  What do I mean by that?  There are ways to capitalize on these crises.  It is unfortunate that politics needs to be a part of this but when you are fighting a rabidly political administration you simply cannot afford to ignore the politics of these situations.  Furthermore, by exposing these scandals fully, conservatives can ultimately stem, halt or reverse the damages done to the country, so being political is not all bad.

What can be done in light of these scandals?  There are myriad possibilities including censure, impeachment, IRS re-organization, Justice department house cleaning, and State Department accountability.  There's also a possibility that the public's perception of not just this administration but of the value of liberty and the negatives of invasive government can be changed for the better.

Liberals clearly have an agenda that will come out of this should Plan A (deny, blame others, and distraction) doesn't work.  Their Plan B will be the requirement of more government oversight into each area the scandals have occurred.  That means yet more government.  They aren't going to let the crisis in confidence go to waste.  To not counter that is to roll over and play dead.

May 20, 2013

What hath multiculturalism wrought?

Canadian Victoria Day will have political fireworks this year
Today in Canada there's a national holiday.  Well, it's almost national, but more about that later.  Victoria Day is a celebration of the birthday of Queen Victoria.  Canada is still a part of the British Commonwealth, and the holiday predates Confederation of Canada as a country.  In other words, it's been around for a long, long time.  But there are rumblings today about changing the holiday.  This should serve as a cautionary tale.

The number of Canadians who you could call avid monarchists is pretty small, and the holiday has evolved for the most part into an excuse for a long weekend, the chance to launch some fireworks and the first weekend of the summer season that many use as a cottage weekend. But despite that, there is still some cache with the notion of the holiday as a tradition.  Tradition matters. But apparently not to everyone.

May 17, 2013

VIDEO: Mike Kelly Tirade Generates Applause at IRS Hearing

You don't often hear applause out of Ways and Means Committee hearings, but it happened today when Congressman Mike Kelly blasted the IRS for their harassment of conservative groups with an impassioned and reasoned complaint about the inherent hypocrisy in their behavior.

Friday Musical Interlude - Rhiannon (Rosebud version)

Last week in the Friday Musical Interlude, I implied that musical talent has declined with the passing years.  In days gone by people crafted their music and practiced and worked hard and they believed in what they were singing about - it wasn't about the fast money. Yeah, there were drug problems and a lot of terrible self-indulgent music was made as well.  But the music when done well was incredible.

A stunning example of someone living their music is Stevie Nicks' incredible performance of Rhiannon from the Rosebud documentary.  Rhiannon is an ethereal song but with the live version, this one in particular there's another higher gear.  Watch Stevie pour herself into the song from about the 5 minute mark onward. You don't see Lady Gaga doing that.


May 16, 2013

I agree with Frank but not this time.

The always delightful-to-read Frank Hill over at LeftCoastRebel makes a reasoned and sound point about how none of these scandals rocking the Obama administration are as important as the national debt.  He's right when he says this:
They are all important issues of governance or malfeasance, however you want to call it...

But none of them can do the damage to our future that out-of-control spending can cause because our debt gets too high and then, when interest rates return to 'normal'? It either crowds out other essential functions of government or inflation rears its ugly, ugly head and everyone suffers. Especially the elderly, poor and infirm.
He makes perfect sense and speaking as someone who believes national solvency trumps all other issues, I disagree.

I respectfully disagree with Frank for two basic reasons.  Firstly Frank is talking at a strategic level. But the root of the overspending problem is the mindset of the liberal spenders. Tactically it's a good idea to dislodge that mindset is to remove their power to influence the public.  One way to do so effectively is to ride these scandals until the president is truly a lame duck. His message of spending and growing government can be deeply if not mortally wounded if people lose faith in his message and also see what his ideology has wrought- an IRS not afraid to bully the citizens of America.

The other reason I disagree with Frank is that while economic concerns are paramount, the nation must be guided by principled leaders with courage and integrity.  This leadership has none of those qualities. They will be an obstacle to economic sanity at every turn because it suits their agenda. If they cannot be overcome (in the short term) then they must be exposed.   Exposing them is part and parcel to emasculating their grow-government agenda.

Frank is correct. The debt crisis is indeed the most important issue facing America today.  I only disagree on the approach to fighting that battle at the present time.  You have to play the cards that you are dealt and right now the right is holding a flush.  It would be a shame to fold this hand hoping that in the next game the cards we get dealt are an American Epiphany on economic fundamentals.  Not gonna happen.

Just saying.

Omnipotence as impotence

The infrastructure's fixed now, right?
The IRS scandal seems to be the top headline today. While the distraction from Benghazi has traction, the IRS scandal does merit a full accounting.  Here are some thoughts on the Obama defense.

The current liberal defense of this incompetent, self-serving and dishonest administration (from no less than David Axelrod himself, for example) is that the government is so big, it is impossible to self-police every corner of it.  If you are conservative and hear that argument used you think "of course it is!". If you are liberal you hear it and think"we need more laws and more people in government to police the government. "

Liberal folly is evident only to those not caught up in its circular logic.  Big government that doesn't work should not lead to bigger government.  When the government has grown to have near omnipotent power to act at will, it becomes impotent to be able to act cohesively or correctly. Local interpretation of directives is subject to a myriad of staff. And that's just one problem with big government.

And yet this is the liberal defense of Obama in some quarters in a nutshell.  Yep, blame. Again.  Blame the lack of government synergy.  Blame local potentates within the bureaucracy. Just be sure the president is untouched.  The media and liberal pundits are the president's secret service.  The irony is that those defenders of Obama are making an argument against his objective of bigger government in order to keep him in power to continue to grow government.

They are making our case for us but they will fail to see it that way. They see it as an end (bigger government) that the means (blaming big government)  justifies. In fact, they may not even realize the irony. They just want to ride out this storm.

May 15, 2013

What Obama would have you believe

The president is about to speak about the IRS scandal.  After releasing a bunch of email documents on the Benghazi scandal.  The president will focus in prime news time on the IRS scandal.

Classic misdirection.

There's likely no major smoking gun in the Benghazi declassified emails.  But if the president wants eyes on the IRS - a scandal brought to light by the IRS in the midst of a Benghazi whistle blower probe - TV still trumps an email dump.

He will likely pump up the importance of the IRS scandal and then deflate the issue by announcing firings.  He would have you believe he's above board on this and therefore also the Benghazi stuff, which he will play later as a witch hunt.

May 14, 2013

IRS scandal grows, threatens to derail Benghazi scandal

Breitbart has a startling new twist on the IRS scandal - the IRS has been sharing it's dirt on conservative groups with a progressive group.  No kidding
The progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office that targeted and harassed conservative tax-exempt groups during the 2012 election cycle gave the progressive group nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending. 
The commendable admission lends further evidence to the lengths the IRS went during an election cycle to silence tea party and limited government voices.
So the scandal grows. Unexpectedly.

Let's all take president Obama at his word

Imagine.  The president knew nothing about the IRS intimidation tactics with conservative groups (and what's with CNN using the term alleged? The IRS openly admitted it and apologized.) .  The president knew nothing about the Justice Department tapping phone lines of AP press reporters.  The president didn't know who was responsible in Benghazi for a few days at least.  And that they were unaware whistle blowers were experiencing legal difficulty imposed by the administration.  And the likely coming distancing from HHS Secretary Sebelius for her unethical and possibly illegal solicitation of donations from companies to support Obamacare.  Let's stretch our imaginations and assume he really, really didn't know about any of these problems.  Let's all take president Obama at his word.


If so, I have only question for everyone:

If the president didn't know any of this and apparently finds out everything from the news reports, after the fact, then why the hell does anyone think he is competent enough to run the country?


Damage Done - Candy Crowley Redux

This may sound like a told-you-so post, but that is not it's intent.  The intent of this post is to point out the Benghazi scandal that is bubbling up now was deliberately tamped down long enough for Obama to get through the election and to question whether the press, now suspicious of the president's narrative, was deliberately complicit at the time of the election. 

Remember this?  Candy Crowley, worst moderator ever, is seen below giving president Obama a free pass on his interpretation of how events unfolded post-Benghazi.  In fact a free pass is too small a description of what she did.  She enabled a cover-up and helped mislead the American public on what now is turning into a scandal of possibly mammoth proportions.

She'll never moderate again.  Forget presidential debates, she's not fit to moderate a PTA meeting.  But the real problem is the damage she caused to the country by allowing and enabling this facade.  Innocent dupe misled by the Obama administration's talking points, or partisan hack trying to get Obama re-elected? The motive doesn't matter the results would have been the same regardless of why the debate moderator Crowley sided with the president, impartially in the CNN presidential debate.

Should Benghazi turn into another Watergate-scale scandal, Crowley would rightly be regarded as a hack journalist with purely partisan intent.  What will likely happen is that she will continue to be employed by CNN with nary a whisper of ineptitude on her part.  That's because the problem she exhibited in the debate is endemic to CNN.  It's core to their thinking.

May 13, 2013

Scandals happening faster than they can be reported

While this week has been a bad week for the president, one has to wonder if the IRS scandal was deliberately released in order to distract attention from the Benghazi scandal.  It would seem, that either there has been a nefarious plot by the White House to flood the scandals from the Executive Branch across the land now in order to avoid political impacts in the 2014 and 2016 elections.  But if that's the case then we could be in for a bumpy ride, as yet another new scandal is hitting the media today.

This one should be big based on the target.  You know if this was a Bush initiative it would have been thermonuclear.  Let's see what happens.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
By every logic this should be a big deal for the media.  They were the ones being looked at by the administration.  I'm doubtful it will be, but time will tell.

Gosnell guilty

Dr. Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty of 3 counts of first degree murder for his actions in his late term abortions (seemingly post-term abortions)  at his abortion clinic.

I haven't commented on this before because I haven't followed it closely, but it seems the correct verdict was reached in this case.

Sentencing will follow.  As will more commentary.

President calms no one with assurances

President Obama indicates how high the scandals are piling up.
President Obama held a press conference today with British Prime Minister Cameron to make a joint statement.  While I half-expected a declaration of ear on Syria a la Wag the Dog or Bill Clinton, the statement was clearly a set up for a question period for Obama.  The first two questions were exactly as expected.

The two question focused on the expanding scandals of IRS targeting of conservative groups (beyond just Tea Party groups now) and the cover-up of a failure of leadership in the Benghazi embassy attacks.

May 11, 2013

IRS - targeting the Tea Party since 2011

Yesterday the scandal - one of a few in the headlines of late - broke. The IRS, an arm of the government, was targeting conservative Tea Party groups leading up to the 2012 election.  While the IRS apologized, it was too late - the election is long over now.   In it's apology the IRS tried to minimize and isolate the scope of the unconscionable infraction. But was that a fair assessment they built into their apology?

Well, there's this:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.

The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog's report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriot" or "9/12 Project" in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

The 9-12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.

Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups "immediately," the report says.
So it seems the answer is "no - the IRS was not fair in their assessment of the problem that they built into their apology.

Saturday Learning Series - Six Sigma part 2

MIT has a course on Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology.  If you are interested, take a look.  If not, it's pretty dry.  I'm more posting these Six Sigma lectures for my own edification.

Note -- Last week was part 1.

May 10, 2013

Scandal - IRS goes after Tea Party groups and then apologizes

The problem, they targeted the groups in 2012 before the election.  The apology came today - almost a year after the problem probably started and long after it could make a difference in the election.  This is a major scandal and a huge abuse of power.  Not only that, this truly is the actions of George Orwell's Big Brother for pure partisan purposes.

I am officially disgusted.  This has to be as a big a deal as the Benghazi-gate story.  It had better get the attention it deserves from both the left and the right or else the country is truly lost.

Jay Carney plays Duck, Duck, Goose with the media

Jay Carney, questioned on Benghazi ducks questions for over seven minutes and continues to goose the American public with lies, half-truths, and misdirection.

Benghazi-gate is just getting interesting

It looks like the White House is getting close to panic mode on the ABC report today about the Benghazi spin and now it seems to be in cover-up mode.

Via ABC:
WASHINGTON - When it became clear last fall that the CIA's now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on the Sunday talk shows after the attack.

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well as references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in November about the talking points.
That's not exactly a smoking gun, but it is damning and deserves to be investigated much more deeply than it has been.  Those who sought back in November to derail those who questioned why nothing was done and why the story out of the White House through it's speakers like Susan Rice was very different from what really happened.

Why is it flaring up now?  There are whistle blowers out there saying the official White House version of events on the ground is deliberately misleading.  They will get skewered (unfairly) for doing so. And more importantly the White House goes on the offensive and Press Secretary Jay Carney is out there blaming the right, again.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday continued to downplay the Obama administration’s role in editing official talking points following the deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and in doing so took a swipe at former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well as former president George W. Bush.

“This ongoing effort [to compile the talking points] began hours after the attack, when Mitt Romney put out a press release to try to take political advantage out of these deaths, out of the attack in Benghazi, in a move that was maligned even by members of his own party,” Carney said. “And from that day forward there has been this effort to politicize it.”
I don't think they are panicking just yet in the Obama camp, but they most surely are getting nervous.  You can see the wounded dog going on offense at the latest media briefing.

This is all an attempt to cover for both Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Failing being able to do that, Hillary will be tossed under the bus.  That's where it will really get interesting.  Meanwhile the real problem is the bumbling on the night of September 11th, 2012 that led to four dead Americans.  Those in charge deserve all of the fallout from this that they get.

Friday Musical Interlude - Stubborn Love

Lest I be accused of being an old fogey because I find most current mainstream music to be lame compared to so much well-crafted music of the past, here's a newer song for today's Friday Musical Interlude.  

Contrary to what you might think that I think, there are some really good and promising bands, musicians and singers around today.  While they are fewer and farther between, they do exist.  And the dearth of quality music of the last decade plus, has not be completely pervasive and even more importantly of late there has been a surprising uptick in the number of quality songs.

It doesn't hurt that songs like Stubborn Love by The Lumineers clearly have their inspirational roots in history much like other groups like Mumford & Sons. It's folksy but with an inescapable pop hook. Give it a listen.

May 9, 2013

Hey Conservatives, Libertarians and Republicans - what Rodney King said

Granted, I'm a little behind in posting this week.  I've been busy but I have time for a quick post .  I was reading through the comments on my most recent post on Left Coast Rebel.  One comment short caught my eye, and it made me think about conservatism, libertarianism and the future of the Republican Party and the Tea Party.  That's the sign of a great, thought-provoking comment.

How delusional that she thinks we are republicans, too. Ha!

While my thoughts ran on several different tangents that are worth sharing, I'd like to focus on just one for now.  

May 4, 2013

Let Hawaii starve! Wait, what? We already are?

Via Reason TV, Hawaii's competitive disadvantage explained.  If you thought the reason Hawaii is an expensive state to live in is the problem of isolation you're right - but probably not in the way you expect.

Saturday Learning Series - Six Sigma Course from MIT (Part 1)

MIT has a course on Six Sigma.  I was curious about it and started watching the video.  I thought that it might be a good course to bring back the Saturday Learning Series.  We shall see, it could be as dull as wet paste.  But I'll be sharing the videos over the next few weeks at least.

If you aren't familiar with Six Sigma, it's defined in Wikipedia as follows:
Six Sigma is a set of tools and strategies for process improvement originally developed by Motorola in 1985.[1][2] Six Sigma became well known after Jack Welch made it a central focus of his business strategy at General Electric in 1995,[3] and today it is used in different sectors of industry.[4]

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes.[5] It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Champions", "Black Belts", "Green Belts", "Orange Belts", etc.) who are experts in these very complex methods.[5] Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified value targets, for example; process cycle time reduction, customer satisfaction, reduction in pollution, cost reduction and/or profit increase.[5]
Let's hope it's good.

May 3, 2013

Good Reading Linkaround

A short list of good reading for this afternoon.

A tale of two cities - Chicago vs, Houston in stats - murder, not baseball. [Plan of the Day]

Power to the Pizza: Justice is a dish best not served. [It Don't Make Sense]

Rash of Retirements of Major Military Commanders a Sign of Something?: Brass less shiny than before? [A Conservative Teacher]

Get The FAA Out of Politics and Into Flying - Privatize It: Have we been flying blind for so long? [America's Chronicle]

Welfare for Terrorists: About what you'd expect [What We Think and Why]

By Popular Request - A Friday Musical Interlude

A few years back I had Friday Musical Interludes to have some music break up the constant political ranting.  Since I don't use the Rule 5 Fridays advice that guarantees a million hits on your web page (not out of moral indignation - I'm married, it's a physical harm issue for me...), I decided long ago to use music instead.

That was before I gave it up to focus on Search Engine Optimization considerations.  Unsuccessfully.

Recently I was bombarded with requests - well, okay one request - to bring back the Friday Musical Interludes.  Maybe just this once...

James N. Common's Rumble and Sway released in March of 2013, it's an "Americanized Southern swamp gospel blues" song style (from a British artist) that is as catchy as anything I've heard recently. I've always enjoyed the music of the southern United States - blues, rock, gospel, country, zydeco or whatever. Given that and the fact that I just posted about rednecks earlier today, I guess this is an appropriate song choice.


Duck Dynasty, Rednecks, Race Baiting and Etymology

"It seems a fine line between being a matador and being a rodeo clown"

A&E's Duck Dynasty
Duck Dynasty chronicles the activities of a family in Louisiana who own a duck call business that has made them wealthy.  The show is a humorous 'reality' show,and the family is very likable.  But not to everyone.  A school in Phoenix is embroiled in racially tinged controversy that has roped Duck Dynasty into the story.

Via USA Today:
PHOENIX -- When members of the student council at an Arizona high school organized a schoolwide "Redneck Day" and encouraged classmates to dress — and spoof — accordingly, they hoped to build school spirit leading up to prom week.

Instead, "Redneck Day" at Queen Creek High School has angered African-Americans and civil-rights leaders and touched off a debate about free speech, social stereotypes and good taste.

Tom Lindsey, superintendent of the Queen Creek Unified School District, said the only intent of Wednesday's event was to satirize the A&E reality TV show "Duck Dynasty," which follows a family of duck hunters and entrepreneurs from West Monroe, La.

But some students and their family members weren't amused. Among them: the Rev. Ozetta Kirby, pastor of Holy Trinity Community AME Church in Mesa and vice president of the East Valley chapter of the NAACP.

"I'm sitting here crying and praying," said Kirby, whose grandson Marcus Still is a 16-year-old junior at the school.

"This thing really got to Marcus," Kirby said. "When you're in 11th grade, that can break you down and make you feel at the bottom rung of the whole society, where everybody is being jubilant. No kid should have to go through that. We all know the connotation of 'redneck.' "
This is an interesting issue.  I am not a proponent of political correctness, but perhaps some people may have been offended and it should be reviewed.  But not in a knee-jerk fashion.  And the issue is more complex than political correctness.  Before I get into the etymology, of the word redneck there are a few other considerations to this news story.
  • Was this originally a planned spoof of Duck Dynasty, or is that just an after-the-fact cover story for the "Redneck Day"? It's not clear in the story which is really the case.
  • Should the people who are rednecks not be angered by the idea that their culture is being spoofed?  How is it not okay to upset African Americans with a Redneck day but okay to spoof Redneck culture with  stereotyped persona for an entire day? Hint: It's not okay. That's political correctness at work - don't hurt the feelings of this group of people, but it's okay to spoof this group. That, is wrong.
  • If this was indeed upsetting for some of the students and faculty (which it clearly is) then why was the idea not vetted before being allowed to go forward?  It seems like a failure of the public school system. 
Redneck does have some negative connotations Rev. Kirby states, however the interpretation of those connotations is far from universal.  Wikipedia has an entry for the term that begins with the following (emphasis added):
Redneck is a derogatory slang term used in reference to poor, uneducated white farmers, especially from the southern United States. It is similar in meaning to cracker (especially regarding Georgia and Florida), hillbilly (especially regarding Appalachia and the Ozarks), and white trash (but without the last term's suggestions of immorality). 
In recent decades, the term has expanded its meaning to refer to bigoted, loutish reactionaries who are opposed to modern ways, and has often been used to attack white Southern conservatives. The term is used broadly to degrade working class and rural whites that are perceived by urban progressives to be insufficiently liberal. At the same time, some Southern whites have reclaimed the word, using it with pride and defiance as a self-identifier...

The term characterized farmers having a red neck caused by sunburn from hours working in the fields. A citation from 1893 provides a definition as "poorer inhabitants of the rural who work in the field, as a matter of course, generally have their skin stained red and burnt by the sun, and especially is this true of the back of their necks"
Aside from the specious connection to the term cracker, which does hold more racially tinged connotations, there isn't any racial connotations about African Americans in there.  In fact, Wikipedia has a separate entry for poor whites - in and of itself an interesting distinction.  Yet it does add one element of clarity if rednecks do indeed equate to poor white as Wiki states (emphasis again added):
The Poor White (or Poor Whites of the South for clarity) are an American sociocultural group, of European descent, having origins in the Southern United States and Appalachia. They first emerged as a social caste in the Antebellum South, consisting of white, agrarian, economically disadvantage laborers or squatters often possessing neither land nor slaves. In contemporary context the term is still used to pertain to their descendants; regardless of present economic status. While similar to other White Americans in ancestry, the Poor White differ notably in regards to their history and culture.
Rednecks were disadvantaged - poor white - and almost certainly did not possess slaves.  Seems pretty straightforward to me - rednecks .  The term has taken on different connotations in the minds of some, including Rev. Kirby.  The action and reaction then become a matter entirely of perspective.  It was very not likely intended in an insulting or offensive way.  It was taken in an offensive and insulting way.  That should be resolved.  Dialogue might be enough to put this story to rest.  It is a tempest in a teapot and not deserving of such drama.

Do those reacting by "crying and praying" really believe that the students responsible were motivated by racial hatred or a desire for segregation? Honestly?  What group of kids heading into prom season are thinking like that, en masse? Certainly that is not the case here, regardless of what anyone thinks of the advisability of  such an event.

The most specific issue it turns out was a Confederate flag that was worn by one student, who did not do it to offend anyone and was unaware that the connotations of the flag meant to some:
Most offensive to Kirby and others was that one student chose to wear a Confederate flag — for many a grim reminder of slavery and segregation.

"The Confederacy represents the horrible institution of slavery, and that is a direct attack on African-Americans," said Steve Montoya, a prominent civil-rights attorney in Phoenix.

The Rev. Oscar Tillman, president of the Maricopa County NAACP, who grew up in the 1940s in the South, said: "Our community knows what that flag represents. ... A school is supposed to be for education and showing people where we come from, our history, and to try not to go back to some things."

Lindsey said the student wearing the Confederate flag was pulled aside by an assistant principal and asked to change his clothes.

"It was no ill intent," Lindsey said.

The student, who is from a state where the flag is more prevalent, did not see a negative connotation, the superintendent said.
Again, uninformed actions lead to uninformed reactions.  A Redneck Day is not about going back to 1940s segregation as Rev. Tillman seems to suggest.  No ill intent says it all.

May 2, 2013

Hillary Clinton Experienced?

I saw this yesterday and I just had to comment on it. Hillary Clinton will make an abysmal president - worse than Obama.  She'll be almost as progressively liberal, and she has a track record of doom to look at and wonder.

Unfortunately, in and out of the media, she has a lot of rabid fans.  If you are one of them, for your benefit, let me dissect those bullet points quickly.  I've provided links because you may not have heard of these things before and you'll need some context.

8 years as First Lady: great, put her in charge of the White House China sets, not relations with China.  Besides, her husband already was too cozy with China.  8 years as First Lady is meaningless in terms of leadership skill and negligible in terms of experience.  Sure, she had Bill's ear but he didn't think with what was between his ears anyway. Then there was Whitewater, FilegateTravelgate and sitting idly by while being cheated on by her husband. Oh, and her odd conspiracy theories. Oh and Hillarycare - a failure that Americans should have been thankful for getting.

8 years as a Senator: Let's see, she ran in a state where she had no chance of losing to a Republican. She kept a low profile in her first (partial) term as a NY Senator.  She served on a few committees (including one on Aging?). She supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (enjoy that one liberals), secured a bunch of money for New York (by the way - not her home state) for rebuilding after 9/11 (pork anyone?).  She did get some pro-family credit for trying to get the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the video game Grand Theft Auto. No kidding. You just know that's important work and the number one issue facing American families of this generation.She was against the troop surge in Iraq that proved successful. She also insulted General David Petraeus at the time who turned out to be right about the surge - not Hillary.  Oops.  So why exactly did she get the Secretary of State role then?

4 years as Secretary of State: Lot's of foreign policy experience right? Um, not so much. Benghazi. Tuzla Air Base  trip (grant it was pre-Secretary but it fits the pattern), maybe arming Al Qaida in Syria, the Russian reset kerfuffle, she went all Nancy Pelosi on her administration's position on supplying the rebels in Libya.  That's a pretty impressive record.  The press will tout the fact that she set a record for most foreign visits but what did she accomplish really?  As a voter it's not wise to be invested in the window dressing as it is to be informed of the accomplishments and failures.  All those foreign visits were her way, or Obama's way of keeping an arms lengthy from each other and each other's record. Nothing more.  There is no great list of accomplishments.  Visits just don't cut it.

And finally, let's not forget that the only real race she had was against Obama to be the nominee for the Democratic party to run for president against John McCain.  She lost to a then relatively unknown Obama when she started out as a prohibitive favorite.  During the race, promised not to campaign in Florida before she...campaigned in Florida. She also cried in New Hampshire. Tested? A little bit.  Passed the tests? Not really.  Her experience is all about politics not solutions.  If she had solutions we wouldn't have seen this.  And as far as politics goes, she would have seen this coming.


More here.

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