Sunday, February 25, 2018

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Upside-Down America: Manafort, Hillary, Miller and Parkland

When I was a kid, my Italian-American mom, who was a superb cook, made pineapple upside-down cake, which was an all-American desert.  Now I’m retired and living in a nation that has upside-down priorities and ethics.

Two recent examples are particularly telling—and sickening.

The first is former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort being indicted for secretly paying a small number of former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.  At the same time, there are about 11,000 registered lobbyists in upside-down Washington who are paid by various interest groups to lobby on their behalf.

Does the formality of registering make it ethically okay in the case of the 11,000 but not okay in the case of Manafort, because his few lobbyists were unregistered?  Using that logic, stealing should be legal as long as thieves register as thieves.

Even more ethically dubious, and a worse double standard, is the case of Bill Clinton taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from foreign governments and companies while his wife Hillary was Secretary of State.  The foreigners clearly were trying to buy influence, but the Clintons were not indicted for unethically enriching themselves, because the money was euphemistically called a speaking fee instead of a lobbying fee.

Apparently, ethics and the law in American turn on what something is called.

The second example is closer to home, for it happened in Tucson, where I live.  The University of Arizona’s basketball coach Sean Miller has been indicted for speaking on the phone with a potential basketball recruit about the possibility of getting a $100,000 payment for joining the U of A team.

The FBI had tapped Miller’s phone.  This would be the same FBI that didn’t follow up on calls warning that Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz was going to kill students in Parkland.  Apparently, tapping a coach’s phone is a higher priority to the FBI than listening to calls to its 1-800 number about a potential mass murderer.

In any event, is it unethical for a basketball coach to pay a poor black kid to play college basketball?  Well, it is not unethical at all and is actually quite ethical.  After all, NBA teams, NFL teams, and MLB teams pay millions of dollars to athletes.  It would be unethical if these teams treated their players as slaves by not paying them for their labor, which is essentially what colleges do with their players (that would be the same colleges that preach social justice).

What is unethical in college basketball (and football) is the sham that college sports are amateur endeavors and not profit-making enterprises.  The sham has a corrupting influence on coaches, players, administrators, and on the core educational mission of a university.

Everyone has to pretend that sports programs are something other than what they are.  Coaches are paid more than college presidents or Nobel Prize-winning professors, players are given a free education in lieu of pay and then graduate uneducated, faculty are pressured to give passing grades to players who would otherwise flunk out, national athletic conferences engage in gross hypocrisy, alumni delude themselves and look the other way, and advertisers, media and fans not only go along with the charade but encourage it.

If Sean Miller deserves to be indicted, then everyone associated with college sports deserves to be indicted.

I may not know much, but thanks to my mom’ pineapple upside-down cake, I at least know when something is upside-down.

The Economics of Policing in Broward County, Florida

James, thanks very much for posting that. I wonder what will happen to him. Is it clear what led the police to finally admit this after so many days?

Check out this incredible thread about the economics of policing in Broward County. The Sheriff’s Department and the school police have a racket where the school cops cover all the student crime, so as to fulfill the proper statistics for the state money, leading to a situation where serious crimes are covered up and explained away — very likely including those committed by the Parkland shooter — so that they can keep their scheme, which even includes living rent-free on school grounds, grinding onward.

News Roundup 2/23/18

  • Prosecutors use the Alford Plea Deal to cover up for the state’s mistakes. [Link]
  • Nebraska’s Governor signs a bill limiting the use of data obtained by licenses plate readers. [Link]
  • 418 people died of overdoes in Maine in 2017. [Link]
  • Iraq War vets who were deployed near Burn Pits continue to suffer and receive little help from the government. [Link]
  • Glenn Greenwald and James Risen debate Russiagate. [Link]
  • Parents say more than 100 Nigerian girls are missing after a Boko Haram attack. [Link]
  • South Sudanese report horrifying human rights abuses to UN. [Link]
  • An outbreak of Listerious has killed 182 in South Africa. [Link]
  • Turkish activist is sentenced to two and a half years in jail for pro-peace Tweet. [Link]
  • US troops that will be deployed close to the front lines begin arriving in Afghanistan. [Link]
  • Pakistan deploys an additional 1,000 troops to Saudi Arabia. Pakistan now has 2,600 troops in Saudi Arabia. [Link]
  • Airwars issues the January report on civil casualties in the Syrian civil war. [Link]
  • Reports claim over 400 people have been killed by Assad bombing near Damascus in the past week. Human Rights Watch claims Turkey is not trying to prevent Kurdish civilian deaths. [Link]
  • Operation Olive Branch has forced 125,000 Syrians from their homes. [Link] Militias allied to Assad continue to move into Afrin to support the Syrian YPG. [Link]
  • A German ISIS fighter surrendered to the SDF. [Link]
  • The US is pushing a UN Security Council Resolution targeting Iran for allegedly arming the Houthi in Yemen. [Link]
  • Saudi’s aid plan for Yemen is a war tactic. [Link]

Armed Cop Was Present During Entire High School Shooting and Did Nothing, Videos Show

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

Broward County, FL — An armed officer on campus during last week’s mass shooting in Florida “never went in” the building to confront the killer, the Broward County Sheriff told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

Sheriff Scott Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson, the resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, opted instead to take up position outside the building for “upwards of four minutes.”

Asked what Deputy Peterson should have done on that day in which 17 were killed and over a dozen others injured, Israel said the officer should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

In Sheriff Israel’s eyes, Peterson did nothing,” and for that the sheriff suspended the officer without pay and placed him under an internal affairs investigation for failing to meet the requirements of his position.

Peterson then chose to resign, Israel told reporters Thursday. Two other deputies on duty that day, Edward Eason and Guntis Treijs, have been placed on restricted duty while the department reviews their response to the incident.

Sheriff Israel said at the news conference he was “devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. I’ve been to the funerals. I’ve been to the vigils. There are no words.”

Coral Springs police officer Tim Burton, who responded to the February 14 shooting, told the New York Times on Wednesday that he witnessed Deputy Peterson “seeking cover behind a concrete column leading to a stairwell.”

The revelation comes as Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed the idea of arming highly trained teachers to prevent future school shootings, even offering those teachers bonuses for undergoing such training.

News Roundup 2/22/18

  • Mitt Romney accepts Trump’s endorsement. [Link]
  • Immigration Agents are setting up checkpoints and carrying out warrantless searches miles from the border. [Link]
  • The US trained Honduran TIGER police forces is arresting protesters. [Link]
  • The Philippines President disputes the claim by US intelligence that he is a threat to the Philippines Constitution. [Link]
  • 50 girls are missing after a Boko Haram attack on a Nigerian school. [Link]
  • Israeli police arrest two more associates of Israeli President Netanyahu. [Link]
  • Bahrain sentences activist to five years in prison. [Link]
  • The US is moving towards an agreement to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear reactors. Saudi Arabia is refusing to agree to restrictions on enriching uranium. [Link]
  • Turkish forces attack militias allied to Assad as they were moving to support the Syrian Kurds in Afrin. Erdogan says he had Putin permission. [Link]
  • Syrian bombing has damaged or destroyed 13 Doctors Without Borders hospitals in three days. [Link] The US is asking Russia to end support for Assad. [Link]
  • Aid is failing to meet the demands of the Yemeni people. More Yemeni are becoming dependent on aid because of the Saudi commercial blockade of Yemen. [Link]
  • A bombing in Afghanistan killed three village elders. [Link]

Genocide in Yemen

While every idiot in America is wrapped up in this Russiaghazi horseshit, the greatest purveyor of violence on the face of the earth — your own government — continues its war of starvation against the civilian population of Yemen.

UN:

“Almost three years into the conflict, Yemen remains the largest man-made humanitarian crisis globally. A staggering 22.2 million people – some 75 per cent of the population – need humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million people who urgently require immediate assistance to survive.”

News Roundup 2/21/18

  • Lt. Col. Daniel Davis explains how the military spending is hurting the economy. [Link]
  • The US adds a second Navy ship to the Black Sea as a show of force to Russia. [Link]
  • France supports the Iran Nuclear Agreement as written. [Link]
  • The Washington Post looks at the Afghans who clean up from the US war. [Link]
  • The Afghan government claims to have killed 28 militants. [Link] The Taliban kill at least eight Afghan Police. [Link]
  • Forces allied to Assad enter Afrin in support of the YPG. [Link]
  • US weapons, provided to Syrian rebels, are appearing on jihadist black markets. [Link]
  • Syrian airstrikes have killed 250 civilians in the past 48 hours. [Link]
  • The evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia is targeting civilian infrastructure in Yemen. [Link]
  • Peru’s president rejects calls for him to resign. [Link]

Keeping Up With the Syrian War

A guest poster at Patrick Lang’s blog has a summary of recent events and military positions.

Thanks Obama

News Roundup 2/20/18

  • A Baltimore jury awards $37 million to the family of a woman murdered by Baltimore police. [Link] Baltimore ranked first in homicides per capita in 2017. [Link]
  • South Korea’s President says the Olympics have eased tensions with North Korea. [Link]
  • At least 17 people have been killed in a garbage pile collapse in Mozambique. [Link]
  • At least 18 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Nigeria. Boko Haram is suspected to have carried out the attack [Link]
  • Mehdi Hasan blowback series on blowback covers Israel and Hamas. [Link]
  • Two Afghan Governors are refusing requests from the Afghan President to step down. [Link]
  • Nearly 100 people have been killed by Syrian bombing rebel-held areas near Damascus. [Link]
  • Israel is arming at least seven Syrian rebel groups. [Link]
  • ISIS ambushes and kills 27 members of the Iraqi Shi’ite militia. [Link]
  • The Brazilian Army has been deployed to Rio De Janeiro to restore order. [Link]

 

The Feds Misplace $21 Trillion and a School Shooter

Americans are rightly chagrined that the FBI had known that Florida mass killer Nikolas Cruz was a threat but didn’t follow up on the information.

But Americans shouldn’t be surprised.

In addition to misplacing a potential shooter, the feds have misplaced $21 trillion.  If they can misplace $21 trillion, they can certainly misplace one bad guy.

A February 13 story in City Journal details how the $21 trillion was misplaced.  It seems that when federal agencies can’t balance their books, they just plug in a number to make them balance. (https://www.city-journal.org/html/americas-missing-money-15725.html)

Between 1998 and 2015, the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development alone made “unsupported adjustments” of $21 trillion to their books.  That comes to about $136,000 per American household.  It also comes to more than the annual gross domestic product of the nation.

Yawn!

That’s the reaction I’ve gotten after publishing articles over the years about how the feds cook the nation’s books.  I’m either a lousy writer, or Americans don’t give a damn, or the lovers of big government in the media have been largely silent about this.  Or maybe the reason is all of the above.

The following is an excerpt from an article of mine that was published on Dec. 31, 2014:  “The government’s auditor, the General Accounting Office, has determined once again that the financial reports of the United States are not trustworthy.   The GAO said that the statements are so full of ‘material weaknesses’ that it cannot be determined if they are in ‘compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements.’” (http://www.jpands.org/vol22no3/cantoni.pdf)

Business executives would be jailed for such sloppy accounting.  Better yet, their businesses would go out of business and be replaced by more competent and ethical firms.  Nations also go out of business, but this can take centuries.

Double-entry bookkeeping was invented four centuries ago by an Italian, but the feds still haven’t mastered the simple concept.  So why do we expect them to have mastered much more difficult tasks, such as keeping tabs on bad guys, alerting Americans to Russian meddling in US elections, or reordering the Middle East?

The feds are masters at self-promotion, however.  They have convinced Americans that to keep the nation safe, they need bigger budgets, more personnel, swanker buildings, and more sophisticated snooping and eavesdropping software.

At the local level, public-school teachers and first responders also have mastered self-promotion.   Local governments have had to cut back on such services as filling potholes and maintaining infrastructure in order to pay their rich pensions and retirement benefits.  The states and cities that have caved the most to public-sector unions tend to be wholly owned by the Democrat Party and will benefit the most from Trump’s infrastructure plan, thus being rewarded for their profligacy and corruption in buying the votes of their union interest groups.

In the same vein, the FBI is petitioning Congress to spend billions of dollars for a new FBI headquarters, since it has outgrown the current HQ, due to the agency’s bureaucracy growing faster than its effectiveness, competency, and efficiency.

As an author of a book on bureaucracy, a longtime student of this organizational disease, and a consultant to organizations on how to cure it, I offer an Iron Law of Bureaucracy:  The larger an organization, the more bureaucratic it becomes; and the more bureaucratic it becomes, the more those at the top of the organization become out of touch with the bottom of the organization and turn into deadweight preoccupied with pay, perks, and office politics instead the organization’s mission.

Sound familiar?

Eventually, two watersheds are reached as bureaucracy takes hold:  First, a point of diminishing returns is reached, where each additional employee or dollar is less effective than the previous employee or dollar.  Then, sometime after that, a tipping point is reached, where each additional employee or dollar has a negative return.

It’s more than a coincidence that after Sears built the 100-story Sears Tower in downtown Chicago, it quickly lost touch with the marketplace.  And it’s more than a coincidence that the FBI lost touch with Nikolas Cruz after it had established a centralized department to keep track of leads about bad guys across the nation, thus diminishing the flexibility and judgment of local gumshoes.

Ballooning staff and corresponding bureaucracy are problems across all levels of government.  In 1941, there was one government employee at the federal, state and local levels for every 27.7 citizens.  Today, the ratio is one for every 14.6 citizens. If the ratio had kept pace with population growth instead of exceeding it, government would be smaller by millions of employees.

The growth of red tape has been even steeper, as measured by the number of pages in the Federal Register—numbers I won’t repeat here because they seem so farfetched that you might think I made them up.  Or the numbers might put you to sleep, assuming you’re not already asleep.

Federal bureaucrats, the White House, and Congress know that such numbers make citizens somnolent.  They also know that public schools and colleges that receive government money aren’t about to teach students about the problems of a ballooning government.  Moreover, the feds know that it is not in their best interest to streamline government.  Not only that, but lawyers comprise about half of Congress, and lawyers are horrible managers with little experience or interest in operational effectiveness.

Come to think of it, taking a nap is a better use of one’s time than trying to understand why the feds misplaced $21 trillion and the school shooter.  It’s the government, stupid!

Sweet dreams.

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