web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘federal’

On the Job but Not Getting Paid?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

I’m very glad Congress and the president decided to make sure the uniformed military will get paid during the government shutdown.  That was the right thing to do.  The move averts a game-of-chicken mistake made in late 1995, when Bill Clinton was dispatching troops to Bosnia while their pay was in jeopardy.

As long as preparations are made beforehand, meanwhile, there’s enough in the trusts to make sure Social Security and veterans’ pension payments go out next month as well as this month. That’s a relief to millions of elderly who can’t just go start harvesting vegetables or sweeping floors if their checks don’t come in.  We can assume Congress will keep a sharp eye out for the potential problems, and make provision for them.

That leaves our Border Patrol, FBI, other federal law enforcement agents, federal firefighters, and air traffic controllers, some of the 80% of federal workers who will remain on the job during the shutdown.  At least some of them are reportedly being required to work without their latest-due paychecks being in the bank, until the government is “open” again.  It’s not fully clear how many or which of these workers are having to show up for work with their pay suspended.  I’ve seen reports that suggest some are being paid; other reports seem to indicate that law enforcement and essential-services people are working without pay (i.e., presumably, pay delayed, not “pay never coming”).

In any case, as happy as I am to see the EPA and other agencies off the job, I’m concerned about morale among the hard-working law enforcement and essential-services folks.  They do a tough job 24/365, and a lot is being asked of them today, and for as long as the shutdown lasts.

We can hope the shutdown will last only a couple of days.  Presumably, Congress will be looking out for these workers, and have a care for the hardships they will face if the shutdown goes longer than that.  (In extremis, much could probably be done, even within the current debt ceiling, through issuing IOUs to the Social Security trust fund.)  As with those in all professions, the younger workers – with kids, mortgage and college-loan payments, living paycheck to paycheck – will be the hardest hit.

If the shutdown does become extended, those who have the means can consider donating to organizations that provide a helping hand to these particular federal workers in their time of need.  Here are some links to get you started:

Federal Law Enforcement Foundation

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Foundation

Wildland Firefighters Foundation

Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (especially for non-law enforcement personnel; air traffic controllers are members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, or NATCA, a labor union with some funding for mutual aid, as well as its own charitable foundation)

I (Heart) Public Safety Network (umbrella network coordinating various forms of assistance to public-safety programs, public-safety workers, and their families)

Note:  per the Washington Post summary at the first link, U.S. Postal Service workers should be getting paid on schedule.  Except for its annual requests for bailouts, USPS is “self-funding,” and should last through the shutdown, however long it goes.

Nadler: Stop and Frisk Rightly Ruled Unconstitutional

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, released the following statement:

Today’s ruling by a federal judge that the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy violated the constitutional rights of New Yorkers is a step in the right direction. It’s unfortunate that it took a lawsuit and a federal court order to safeguard the fundamental, and constitutionally protected, right to be free from unwarranted police harassment. Racial profiling and other discriminatory policies have no place in our great city or our great country.

ObamaCare: The Propaganda Machine Revs Up

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

A television commercial airing in the greater-LA viewing area for the last week depicts a middle-aged woman – not a senior; a tad zaftig; with dark salt-and-pepper hair – lauds Obamacare as the reason she is alive today.  Her story involves having a preexisting condition, which prevented her from getting private insurance.

From the standpoint of actual truth, of course, the condition would not have prevented her from having access to Medicaid or to California’s medical assistance programs.  And, what Medicaid does or doesn’t cover is the government’s fault, and could be changed (or exchanges for clients with preexisting conditions created) without implementing Obamacare.

At any rate, I don’t know if this transparent propaganda is airing elsewhere.   I have been unable to locate any information about it on the web.  I believe I recall seeing it on The Weather Channel, but have probably also seen it elsewhere, e.g., HGTV, the afternoon news on the local ABC affiliate (ABC-7), and possibly during a sappy Hallmark Channel movie.  I don’t recall seeing it all during the Thanksgiving weekend football marathon.  Its target audience is presumably women.

So, Californians, if you have seen this commercial, please let me know anything you have identified about it.  My goal is to figure out who produced it.  I’m sure we know who paid for it – the American taxpayer – but there’s so much crony-ish revolving-door-ism going on with advertising agencies and the Obama administration that it would really be nice to know who’s responsible for this ad.

Placing propaganda in entertainment

Many readers are no doubt aware of the millions in taxpayer dollars that the Obama administration has contracted out to PR firms for the purpose of hawking Obamacare to a reluctant public.  Quite a few readers probably also know that California has contracted with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide to sell its state insurance exchange – and all the benefits of wholly-government-managed “health care” – to skeptical, resistant, or simply exhausted Californians.  A key product of this enterprise is the notorious bright idea of getting Hollywood to include Obamacare themes in the story lines of popular TV series:

And Hollywood, an industry whose major players have been supportive of President Obama and his agenda, will be tapped. Plans are being discussed to pitch a reality television show about “the trials and tribulations of families living without medical coverage,” according to the Ogilvy plan. The exchange will also seek to have prime-time television shows, like “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and Univision telenovelas, weave the health care law into their plots.

“I’d like to see 10 of the major TV shows, or telenovelas, have people talking about ‘that health insurance thing,’ ” said Peter V. Lee, the [California insurance] exchange’s executive director. “There are good story lines here.”

A cozy industry hits the government jackpot

What fewer readers may be aware of is the multitude of connections between the PR firms, advocacy groups with a financial interest in Obamacare, and the Obama administration.  For example, the advertising firm Porter Novelli, which was awarded the $20 million contract from HHS to urge Obamacare on American taxpayers, was founded by William D. Novelli, who was later the CEO of AARP – a major advocate of Obamacare – from 2001 to 2009.  (Novelli’s successor at AARP, Barry Rand, was a big Obama donor in 2008.)

As numerous news outlets noted at the time the $20 million contract was awarded, Catherine “Kiki” McLean was a senior partner and managing director of Porter Novelli.  McLean is a Democratic Party operative who worked for the campaigns of Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, as well as the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.  McLean was hired by Porter Novelli in June 2009.  Since 2010, Porter Novelli has been awarded $49 million in HHS contracts.

In October 2012, meanwhile, Susan Hayes, Porter Novelli’s “global head of healthcare” – their senior executive responsible for health care PR, brands, advertising, etc – left the firm to work for Obama for America, the president’s reelection campaign.  This departure was reported 20 days before the 6 November election, although it is not clear exactly when Ms. Hayes left Porter Novelli.  Apparently, she was able to log at least three weeks on the job.

Maker of Anti-Muslim Film Gets a Year in Prison

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Californian who produced the anti-Muslim film which led to anti-American violence throughout the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison, not for crimes against Islam, but for violating the terms of his probation, AP reports.

In a plea bargain between Mark Basseley Youssef and federal prosecutors, Youssef admitted in open court that he had used a number of false names, in direct violation of his probation order, including obtaining a driver’s license under a false name.

Youssef was on probation for a bank fraud case.

Youssef’s attorney, Steven Seiden, later told reporters outside the court house that he had a message for them from his client.

“The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology,” Seiden said.

Asked to elaborate, the attorney said, “I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know.”

All the parties to the plea deal agreed that the violations had nothing to do with “Innocence of Muslims,” Youssef’s film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.

But, of course, everybody also knew that, had Youssef not produced that idiotic film, he would have been allowed to go on with his grifter’s life at least until he got caught stealing something serious again.

Still, according to AP, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale argued that Youssef’s lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film’s cast and crew, who found themselves in the midst of an apparent plot to spread deadly violence to many parts of the Middle East.

“They had no idea he was a recently released felon,” Dugdale said. “Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts” about doing the film.

Dugdale said members of the crew had received death threats, and they fear their careers are ruined.

Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted.

A Pakistani cabinet minister even offering $100,000 to anyone who kills Youssef. This might force the federal prison authorities to take special measures in protecting him.

Sheldon Adelson’s Casino Reaching Deal with Feds on Money-Laundering

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Federal prosecutors and pro-Israel Republican stalwart Sheldon Adelson’s casino company Las Vegas Sands Corp. may have come to an understanding on issues pertaining to money-laundering laws allegedly violated in the cases of two criminal high-rollers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Lawyers for the Sands and federal prosecutors met on Thursday after the Sands failed to obtain a dismissal.  Prosecutors threatened to charge the Sands and a company executive with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Now, the prosecution may indeed drop the case, with the Sands paying a fine and updating regulations on handling customer money.

Sands representatives stated that the casino was cooperating with federal investigations and denied any wrongdoing.

Las Vegas Sands was investigated when it allegedly failed to report a potentially suspicious financial transaction by two wealthy gamblers to the federal government.  The two apparently worked millions of dollars in “dirty” money through the accounts of the casino operator.  The cases hinge on whether it was possible for executives of the Sands to know that the money could have come from illegal activities, and whether they should have had reasonable enough suspicion to alert law enforcement.

One, Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese citizen with a Mexican pharmaceutical factory, was charged in 2007 with manufacturing a component of methamphetamine, during which time evidence showed he had spent over $100 million at Las Vegas casinos.  Charges against him were later dropped by federal prosecutors.  But the case raised concerns over whether the Sands failed to report deposits made by a suspicious person.

For their part, the Sands said it performed due diligence measures to ensure the cleanliness of the money, even hiring a private investigator to determine whether Ye Gon was legitimate.

The second case, of former Fry’s Electronics executive and admitted 2009 kickback schemer Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, who made major transactions at the Sands despite an apparent history of being unable to pay gambling debts.

The Sands is also being investigated regarding alleged bribes paid overseas.  The company has maintained its innocence.

Adelson, owner of the Sands, is also the owner of the Israel HaYom newspaper, has contributed over $100 million to the Birthright Israel project to connect Jewish youth to their roots through his family foundation, and is married to an Israeli physician, Miriam Ochsorn.

Maryland Congressman Apologizes for Holocaust Reference

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

A Maryland congressman apologized for referring to the Holocaust as he discussed his opposition to federal involvement in providing student loans.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) apologized Thursday for the remarks, which drew criticism.

“While explaining my position on an important Constitutional issue I regrettably used an extreme example as a comparison that was ill-advised and inappropriate,” Bartlett said in a statement. “I should never use something as horrific as the Holocaust to make a political point, and I deeply apologize to anyone I may have offended.”

In his initial comments at a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Bartlett had argued that the federal government lacked the authority under the Constitution to offer student loans and warned of a “slippery slope” if the Constitution is ignored.

“If you can ignore the Constitution to do something good today, tomorrow you will be ignoring the Constitution to do something bad,” he said, adding: ” The Holocaust that occurred in Germany — how in the heck could that happen? And when you start down the wrong road, it can be a very slippery slope.”

Clint Doing the RNC (with Video)

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Lynne Lechter is on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Women’s Committee.  She is at the Republican National Convention as a guest of the RJC.  She is one of our good friend Lori Lowenthal Marcus’s sources on what Jewish Republicans have been up to in muggy Tampa. She’s been telling Lori this and that, until, last night, it all came to a giant crescendo with the appearance of the Man. Clint Eastwood.

Lynne wrote:

“It was unexpected. He was hard to hear from where we were, but he did get a lot of applause and chants – make my day. He got a lot of laughs from the empty chair routine and saying Mutt cant do that to himself as if Obama said it, got huge laughter. I think his early comment was about what I am doing here aren’t all Hollywood types liberal. And then saying there are a lot of conservatives in Hollywood. Being conservative they are more quiet about it.”

The note “Sent from my iPhone” explains some of the condensed nature of the text, but we get the gist of it. And we added the video, so you’ll see what she’s talking about. Clint is the man. Which is why they should have made the theme of “For a Fistful of Dollars” the campaign song.

I would totally vote Republican if Clint was running. Are you kidding me? But he’d have to drop the cigar stub. Federal buildings are a no-smoking zone.

Oh, yes, totally forgot – Some guy named Mitt Romney did the acceptance speech thing last night, too. Apparently he’s running for this or that federal post. I think Clint even recommended him…

Overregulation: The Problem We Can’t Outproduce

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/08/13/overregulation-the-problem-we-cant-outproduce-with-some-words-from-reagan/

In the period between 1950 and about 2005, Americans continuously sustained a hefty downpayment on our federal, state, and local governments’ spiraling debt, by upping our productivity, our economic output, and the scope of opportunity for everyone.

Overregulation and implied state ownership of what we produce has been a problem for us since Woodrow Wilson’s terms in office.  But until the last half-decade, the American people shouldered and outproduced greater and greater burdens of regulation and/or taxation, costly credit and inflation, and victim politics and litigation.  Operating in the conditions of relative economic and political freedom – more than most of the world, if not more than in our own past – the American people were a productivity engine unmatched in the history of man.  Spend more?  We’ll produce more.  Tax receipts will skyrocket.  If our governments can’t pay their bills, it won’t be because the American people aren’t producing.

The burdens have now caught up with us, however.  Tax rates, while they have gone up and down in the last 30 years, have hovered around a mean established in the 1980s.  Top rates have not skyrocketed as they did at some points in America’s past.   Yet the American productivity engine is faltering.  Unemployment remains high at over 8%, and America’s labor force participation rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1981 (which was in the trough of a major recession).

Credit is harder to get, but people don’t want that much of it anyway.  Consumers aren’t spending.  Housing values have plunged into an abyss, with no end in sight.  (A home virtually identical to mine was listed last week for about half what I paid for mine in December 2002.  Six months ago it would have been listed at about 65% of my original purchase price.)  In the current heat wave in the Southwest, California power companies that announced “flex alerts,” during which customers are asked to use less power, have been surprised that usage was well below what they thought it would be.  People can’t afford to pay for air conditioning as they once would have – and many homes are still standing empty after three, four, or five years.  Similar low demand has hit the US Northeast.  (This means, incidentally, that the power companies aren’t getting the revenue they were expecting.  Down the road, that isn’t going to be a good thing.)

It’s easy to say that people don’t want to work.  It’s also cheap and easy to talk about “fatcat” business owners who don’t want to hire people, or who are just being rich while the rest of us are miserable.

But most new jobs – about 70% — have always been created by small businesses in America, and those small businesses are being steamrolled by regulation.  Regulation is having a serious impact even on big business, and all its costs are passed on to the customer.  “Business” doesn’t pay for anything; you pay for it all.  If you don’t, the business isn’t viable, and you don’t have those big, clean grocery stores with thousands of products, or gas stations charging competitive prices on every corner.  Either you pay all the costs of regulation, or the product isn’t available.

One particular American president was closely attuned to the costs of regulation, and you won’t be surprised that it was Ronald Reagan.  Several times in the late 1970s, he spoke about this problem in his radio spots.  The points he made then resonate as if they were made at 10:00 this morning.

One 2 March 1977, Reagan talked about “Added Inflation” caused by government regulation*:

To inflation and taxes let us add another cost to all of us which is the indirect inflation brought about by excessive regulation and government statutes.

He went on:

… in 1974 the Federal Register needed 45,422 pages to list all the new U.S. Government decrees and regulations that year…

Those regulations add to the cost of doing business in a variety of fields and many ways which means they add to the cost of the things we buy.  For example Congressman Bill Armstrong of Colorado estimates, “Restrictive rate policies of the Interstate Commerce Commission add $5 billion per year in excess freight rates passed on to the consumer.”

Reagan cited other specific costs of regulation in this radio spot.  On 8 November 1977, he did a spot on the travails of the Greyhound bus company, which had had some very unfortunate encounters with federal regulators:

Greyhound happens to have the best safety record in the transportation business. …

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/overregulation-the-problem-we-cant-outproduce/2012/08/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: