Category Archives: Fraud & Corruption
by Paul Sperry
If you believe recent media accounts, the former Democratic president has suddenly transcended the political fray. It’s as if a newly “Zen-like” Barack Obama is content to just write his memoir and let Donald Trump and Republicans write the next chapter of history.
In a cover story asking “Where is Barack Obama?,” for example, New York magazine concluded that the 44th president has “virtually disappeared” from the political scene and is sitting idly by as his legacy is dismantled piece by piece. From an exclusive interview, the periodical concluded Obama was “modeling his political engagement out of office after George W. Bush’s” — that is, staying out of the rough-and-tumble of politics, maintaining distance from his former office and resigning himself to be an elder statesman fading into the sunset.
Don’t buy it.
Obama is doing far more to shape the political landscape than is visible. In fact, for an ex-prez, he’s taking an unusually active role in politics, including helping radical protest groups fight Trump and his policies and devising a scheme to flip the GOP majority in the House and permanently turn red seats blue.
From his sprawling DC office not far from the White House, where he oversees a full-time staff of 20, Obama has held regular meetings with Democratic lawmakers, as well as DNC chief Tom Perez, whom he personally helped install to run the Democratic Party. Obama has also met with his attorney general, Eric Holder, to craft a strategy to redraw congressional district maps in Democrats’ favor, according to Politico. Holder now runs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which Obama helped his old friend launch.
Obama, who maintains a home in Chicago, originally said he only planned to stay in Washington temporarily, until his younger daughter, Sasha, now 17, finished high school there. But the family is clearly putting down deeper roots. They recently bought their DC rental home and erected a massive security wall around the property, which includes offices, and are installing a swimming pool.
While it may be true Obama does not want to engage directly in Washington politics, including personally protesting Trump’s policies, he is using a political organizing group he founded to do that for him.
That nonprofit — Organizing for Action — is not exactly a household name. But it is no less than the organizing and training hub of the anti-Trump resistance.
Most recently, OFA helped stage rallies across the country against the administration’s border policies, which it has decried as “cruel and inhumane.” OFA describes itself as a “nonpartisan grass-roots-driven organization,” but it clearly has a pro-Obama agenda. In fact, it’s run almost entirely by alums from Obama’s campaign and White House, including Jon Carson and Jim Messina, who co-chair the group, and Katie Hogan, who serves as its executive director, according to recent tax filings by the nonprofit.
Though Obama has no official or legal role in OFA, he features the group along with his foundation on his post-presidency website and rallies its foot soldiers, who wear blue T-shirts with big white “OFA” letters, in conference calls. After Trump won, for example, he phoned to “fire up” Carson and his team and told them not to worry, that they would “cook up all kinds” of strategies to reclaim the agenda, according to a Nov. 14, 2016, White House transcript of his OFA conference call. More recently, Obama sent an email to “OFA supporters” urging them to “keep going in 2018,” because “there’s simply too much at stake this year.” Obama has tweeted from OFA’s account before and after leaving the White House, and while he was in the White House, he let OFA control his Twitter account, according to The Atlantic.
Earlier this year, moreover, he met with Hogan to discuss how the group can flex its muscles during the midterm campaign to help Democrats recapture the House, according to the New York Times. To that end, OFA plans to train and deploy organizers in 27 Republican-held congressional districts, many with heavy Latino populations, that could be key to a Democratic takeover of the House. With offices in DC and Chicago, OFA has already trained more than 40,000 leftist agitators in person or by webinar, according to tax records.
Behind the scenes, he really may be coordinating the resistance
“We’ve seen grassroots organizing make a big difference this past year, it will again in November,” Hogan recently tweeted.
Meanwhile, OFA has formally partnered with one of the angriest resistance groups, Indivisible Project, which has been criticized for using overly aggressive protest tactics against Republicans at town-hall meetings. Indivisible plans to deploy OFA-trained agitators to storm Republican districts during the Fourth of July recess, starting this weekend, to shout down “Trump’s racist policies,” according to its website.
OFA brings in between $6 million and $14 million in donations a year, and is funded in part by Democracy Alliance, which is connected to the radical group that dispatched agitators to march outside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s Virginia town house, blaring an audiotape of crying immigrant children and chanting “No justice, no sleep!” The group, CREDO Action, also held signs calling Nielsen a “child snatcher” and shouted, “You’re a modern-day Nazi!”
With the help of 40 full-time staffers, OFA trains volunteers in the hard-core tactics popularized by the late Chicago radical Saul Alinsky, including smearing and intimidating opponents and mobilizing angry mobs to convey the appearance of a mass movement that enjoys a good deal of public support.
Alinsky trainers schooled Obama in these same tactics when he was an organizer in South Side Chicago.
Meanwhile, Hogan and OFA have partnered with Obama and Holder’s gerrymandering project to manufacture future Democrat victories.
Republicans are so alarmed by Obama’s permanent presence and political interference, they are raising money from donors based on these fears, warning in a recent fundraising newsletter about “his scheme to interfere in the 2018 midterms,” according to a June 22 email from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
In public, Obama has skillfully kept his distance from recent anti-Trump protests and politicking. But behind the scenes, he really may be coordinating the resistance — and acting as its organizer in chief.
Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of the bestseller “Infiltration.”
by Tyler Durden
Oct 30, 2016 11:46 AM
Until the Friday blockbuster news that the FBI was reopening its probe into the Hillary email server, the biggest overhang facing the Clinton Campaign was the escalating scandal involving the Clinton Foundation, Doug Band’s consultancy firm Teneo, and Bill Clinton who as a result of a leaked memo emerged was generously compensated for potential political favors by prominent corporate clients using Teneo as a passthru vehicle for purchasing influence.
In a section of the memo entitled “Leveraging Teneo For The Foundation,” Band spelled out all of the donations he solicited from Teneo “clients” for the Clinton Foundation. In all, there are roughly $14mm of donations listed with the largest contributors being Coca-Cola, Barclays, The Rockefeller Foundation and Laureate International Universities. Some of these are shown below (the full details can be found in “Leaked Memo Exposes Shady Dealings Between Clinton Foundation Donors And Bill’s “For-Profit” Activities“)
Band also lays out the millions in speaking fees arranged by Teneo:
Band also offers the following commentary on the “$50 million in for-profit activity” he was able to secure for Bill Clinton (as of November 2011) as well as the “$66 million in future contracts, should he choose to continue with those engagements.”
Independent of our fundraising and decision-making activities on behalf of the Foundation, we have dedicated ourselves to helping the President secure and engage in for-profit activities – including speeches, books, and advisory service engagements. In that context, we have in effect served as agents, lawyers, managers and implementers to secure speaking, business and advisory service deals. In support of the President’s for-profit activity, we also have solicited and obtained, as appropriate, in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like. Neither Justin nor I are separately compensated for these activities (e.g., we do not receive a fee for, or percentage of, the more than $50 million in for-profit activity we have personally helped to secure for President Clinton to date or the $66 million in future contracts, should he choose to continue with those engagements).
With respect to business deals for his advisory services, Justin and I found, developed and brought to President Clinton multiple arrangements for him to accept or reject. Of his current 4 arrangements, we secured all of them; and, we have helped manage and maintain all of his for-profit business relationships. Since 2001, President Clinton’s business arrangements have yielded more than $30 million for him personally, with $66 million to be paid out over the next nine years should he choose to continue with the current engagements.
In effect, what Band was doing, as the NYT’s Nick Confessore summarized, “was selling his clients on idea that giving to foundation was, in essence, a way to bolster their influence. Clinton & Band built a platform for executives to bolster their companies’ images, bathe in BC’s praise, and do some good, while Teneo extracted earnings for Band and, depending on what you see in these e-mails, Clinton himself. Teneo paid Clinton until late ’11.”
As Confessore also pointed out, “I guess you can wave it all off as a nothingburger. But Chelsea Clinton and some of Clinton’s other aides were clearly freaking out.”
And he concluded by saying “Generally, the emails show Clinton’s *own closest aides* troubled or horrified by things that her surrogates have spent years waving off.”
Today, with this context, we focus on one particular email disclosed in the latest Podesta email release, in which an email from Doug Band to Cheryl Mills and John Podesta dated November 12, 2011, or just days before the abovementioned memo was sent out, admits that “I’m starting to worry that if this story gets out, we are screwed.”
Here is the full email:
Need get this asap to them although I’m sure cvc [Chelsea Clinton] won’t believe it to be true bc she doesn’t want to Even though the facts speak for themselves.
John, I would appreciate your feedback and any suggestions I’m also starting to worry that if this story gets out, we are screwed. Dk [Declan Kelly] and I built a business. 65 people work for us who have wives and husbands and kids, they all depend on us. Our business has almost nothing to do with the clintons, the foundation or cgi in any way. The chairman of ubs could care a less about cgi. Our fund clients who we do restructuring and m and a advising the same just as bhp nor tivo do. These are real companies who we provide real advice to through very serious people. Comm head for goldman, dep press secretary to bloomberg, former head of banking, and his team, from morgan stanley for asia and latin am.
I realize it is difficult to confront and reason with her but this could go to far and then we all will have a real serious set of other problems. I don’t deserve this from her and deserve a tad more respect or at least a direct dialogue for me to explain these things. She is acting like a spoiled brat kid who has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she’s doing because she, as she has said, hasn’t found her way and has a lack of focus in her life. I realize she will be off of this soon but if it doesn’t come soon enough…
Four years later, the story is out, not thanks to Chelsea Clinton as Doug Band was concerned, but due to a hack of John Podesta’s email account.
However, in light of the latest FBI scandal involving Anthony Weiner, It remains to be seen if either Band or the Clintons are screwed – it appears that the general public has more than enough distractions to forget about this potential graft scandal involving the Clintons and their influence-peddling clients.
Hillary Clinton with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former president of Argentina.
Florida lobbyist Freddy Balsera partnered with Carlos Molinari, who’s been indicted in the financial scandal in Argentina, on the scheme
By Ken Silverstein • 10/24/16 8:00am
I’m a reporter who intensely dislikes both major party presidential candidates, but my personal experience during this campaign, bolstered by witnessing the incredibly slanted coverage we’ve seen the past month, is that the media is far more interested in running negative stories about Donald Trump than about Hillary Clinton. Trump indisputably received a lot of positive coverage when he was running in the GOP primaries, but once this became a two-person race the gloves came off, which has had a huge impact on coverage and helped Hillary immensely.
One of the most heavily promoted storylines of this year’s campaign is that Trump is a tool of Moscow and Vladimir Putin and no one is pushing it harder than Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as seen in last week’s debate. The idea that Trump is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate is too ludicrous to take seriously, as Paul Starobin, Businessweek’s former Moscow bureau chief, has written.
This storyline gained currency a few months back when Trump’s top campaign advisor, Paul Manafort, was forced to resign following a barrage of negative coverage about his work as a lobbyist in Ukraine. A flurry of stories came out — I wrote a couple of them— that raised legitimate issues about Manafort’s role in Ukraine, but few noted that his efforts mainly took place at a time that Ukraine had friendly relations with the United States, during the Bush and Obama years.
Here’s a story, thus far unreported, about a leading Clinton surrogate and fundraiser named Freddy Balsera who founded a company called Global Development Consultants Inc. with Carlos Molinari, a businessman who’s been indicted in a massive financial scandal in Argentina. Global Development Consultants is mentioned on multiple occasions in Molinari’s indictment, and Argentine prosecutors believe it played a role in laundering money directly into the United States — which would seem to be a good hook for U.S. reporters. The related scandal — which has been heavily covered by major U.S. media outlets — has resulted in the indictment of former Argentine president Cristina Kirchner and a host of financial middlemen and money launderers.
Do I think this made Hillary Clinton a tool of Kirchner’s left-leaning government? No I don’t, just as I don’t believe Manafort’s work in Ukraine somehow makes Trump Putin’s puppet. But I do believe the media would have been all over this story if it had been a Trump surrogate and not a Clinton surrogate who was involved, and that it raises important questions about one of her leading allies in Florida.
(I asked Balsera and the Clinton campaign for comment. Thus far they have not replied.)
Balsera is a lobbyist and PR consultant who runs Miami-based Balsera Communications, and he has a “unique proficiency” in peddling political narratives to the public, according to his bio page on the firm’s website. His partners at the PR firm include David Duckenfield, who took a leave from Balsera Communications to work in a senior job at the State Department under John Kerry between 2014 and 2016.
Balsera is also a Democratic operative with a big, influential political network in Florida, a key swing state, and he claims to have a huge following with Hispanic voters. He was an Obama media surrogate and claims to have crafted a good chunk of Spanish-language political ads for his campaign which “helped deliver an estimated sixty-six percent of the national Hispanic vote.”
Balsera was an Obama bundler and a member of his national finance committee, which appears to have reaped him some notable dividends. His family and Molinari’s bowled at the White House in 2010 (and Molinari’s daughter is an Obama donor). The president appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which sells U.S. foreign policy abroad, and earlier this year Balsera Communications opened a new office in Buenos Aires just as Obama was in the country tangoing his way through a state visit. A picture on Balsera’s Twitter feed shows him and Duckenfield jetting down to Buenos Aires to be there for Obama’s official trip. All a coincidence, no doubt.
Balsera helped secure a U.S. visa for an Ecuadorean woman, Estefanía Isaías, who had been barred from entering the United States because she’d been busted for illegally obtaining visas for her maids. The State Department under Hillary Clinton lifted the ban on Isaias in 2012 — the same year her rich, politically wired family gave more than $100,000 to the Obama Victory Fund and other Democratic causes, the New York Times has reported. “It was one of several favorable decisions the Obama administration made in recent years involving the Isaías family,” which lives in Miami and is accused by the government of Ecuador of having looted a bank,” the Times wrote.
Balsera sponsored Isaías’s visa application, which said she would be employed by his firm. But the Times never found any evidence that Isaias ever actually went to work for Balsera Communications. A senior executive at the firm had never heard of her and she was not listed as an employee on its website, Facebook page or Twitter timeline. In other words, it looks like Secretary Clinton did a big favor for Obama money man Balsera and for a family of Democratic donors.
Nowadays Balsera raises money for Hillary’s campaign —incidentally, his partner Duckenfield, another Obama bundler, does so, too— and is national co-chair of the DNC’s Hispanic Leadership Council. He’s also a director of Correct The Record, a Super PAC that closely coordinates with Hillary’s campaign and that put together a “rapid response team” that attacks Hillary’s critics. The group spent at least $1 million to target social media users and heavily pushed the “Bernie Bros” meme, which suggested that Sanders’ supporters were mostly deplorable misogynists.
Correct the Record was created by David Brock, the professional propagandist who also set up Media Matters — another Clinton attack vehicle that protects its Supreme Leader in the same way that North Korea’s Central News Agency defends Kim Jong-un.
Like many in the Clinton camp, Brock’s political positions and empathy are decidedly situational.
His vehicles have worked furiously to promote stories about Donald Trump’s awful remarks about women. This is a bit rich because back during Bill Clinton’s years as president — when Brock got his start in propaganda as a Republican hatchet man — he famously labeled Anita Hill, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”
Anyway, Balsera is a big deal in Washington and Miami and it turns out that he’s well connected in Argentina as well through Molinari and Global Development Consultants (and now with his PR firm’s brand news Buenos Aires office). But for reasons that will become clear shortly, the normally voluble Balsera apparently doesn’t like to talk about Global and all traces of that firm’s presence on the Internet have been scrubbed, seemingly after Molinari’s embarrassing legal problems erupted in Argentina.
I obtained — from the National Legal and Policy Center, which provided key research for this story — a screenshot from the firm’s old website. It shows that Global, registered in Florida, was created by Balsera and Molinari. A third major player at the firm was Diego Molinari, Carlos’ son, who was identified on the now scrubbed Global website as CEO and executive vice president.
Here’s a nutshell summary of the case:
The figure at the center of the scandal is Lázaro Báez, a former bank teller turned oligarch who built a vast business empire through contracts awarded by his close friend Cristina Kirchner and her husband, Néstor Kirchner, who preceded her as president of Argentina. When Néstor died, Báez was so bereft that he erected a three-story mausoleum to house his former patron’s remains.
Prosecutors allege that Báez received huge kickbacks on his government contracts and moved them abroad into offshore accounts with the help of a labyrinth of middlemen. The network was reportedly set up in large part by Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the heart of the now famous Panama Papers scandal, and includes dozens of shell companies set up in the United States, mostly in Las Vegas.
According to the prosecution, tens of millions of dollars in kickback money was moved abroad with the help of SGI Argentina, a financial consultancy firm. SGI was hired to move Baez’s money by a man named Leonardo Fariña, who worked for Molinari for years and, the prosecution claims, retained SGI on his advice.
The whole scandal erupted after video footage from early 2011 emerged showing Martín Báez, the oligarch’s son, and a number of SGI employees counting cash at the company’s office and stuffing it into suitcases to be shipped overseas. Fariña, who later turned state’s witness, claimed that SGI sent so much money abroad, mostly to Switzerland, that the cash wasn’t counted but weighed.
On February 24, 2011, which is close to the time that the video was made, SGI sent a letter to the U.S. consulate in Buenos Aires requesting a visa for Fariña. The letter said he would travel to Florida the following month on a chartered plane with Molinari, who was identified as the president of Global Development Consultants.
Leonardo Fariña. Twitter
The letter refers to Fariña as SGI’s representative and said that Global Development Consultants had invited him “to see all the projects in which we may be interested in investing.” Molinari’s November 2013 indictment says that Farina bought 10 percent of the shares of Global Development Consultants for $1 million, which would have made him a partner in the firm.
According to prosecutors, Fariña’s trip with Molinari coincides with a period when SGI was moving all that dirty money abroad and was looking to make investments in Florida. Prosecutors say that during the first six months of 2011 Molinari and a number of friends took a total of 33 chartered flights looking to funnel SGI’s money offshore, including to Florida.
Curiously, in May 2011 Global Development Consultants and another firm formed an LLC called Stambul Ventures to manage the luxury Langford Hotel in downtown Miami. Molinari’s divorce records, which included a list of his assets, and Florida corporate records show that he had an interest in the property as well.
The Langford’s developers raised millions — 35 percent of the total costs — through the State Department’s EB-5 visa program to underwrite the renovation of the property, which was previously a historic bank. They applied for the funding in 2012 and began receiving the money in 2015.
In order to apply for the EB-5 visa, a foreigner must invest $500,000 in a project that produces at least 10 jobs in a rural or high unemployment area – or $1 million elsewhere. “Critics of the visa program say it amounts to little more than buying a visa and it benefits the wealthy more than the high-unemployment communities it’s supposed to help,” NBC News said.
The EB-5 program has been riddled by allegations of fraud and favoritism toward politically connected investors. In 2015, a Department of Homeland Security watchdog report said a top official had repeatedly intervened “on behalf of well-connected participants,” including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Tony Rodham, a brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Politico has reported.
As of this writing, Báez remains in prison as the case unfolds, former president Kirchner has been called to testify and Molinari remains indicted and has reportedly been barred from leaving the country. And it appears that Balsera’s company Global Development Consultants served as a method for Argentine crooks to move dirty money through the United States.
It’s a ripe, juicy story involving a foreign scandal that helped bring down an overseas president, and it involves allegations of financial criminality in the United States and features an appearance by a major political campaign figure. I look forward, with bated breath, to reporters jumping to pursue this story, as there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Oct 16th, 2016
An intriguing Ministry of Finance (MoF) report circulating in the Kremlin today says that elite Western bankers were “stunned/bewildered” a few hours ago after the Bank For International Settlements (BIS) registered a $1.8 billion transfer from the Clinton Foundation (CF) to the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) through the “facilitation/abetment” of JP Morgan Chase & Company (JPM)—and for reasons yet to be firmly established. [Note: Some words and/or phrases appearing in quotes in this report are English language approximations of Russian words/phrases having no exact counterpart.]
According to this report, the Bank for International Settlements is the world’s oldest international financial organization and acts as a prime counterparty for central banks in their financial transactions; the Qatar Central Bank is the bank of that Gulf State nations government and their “bank of banks”; JP Morgan Chase & Company is the United States largest “megabank”; and the Clinton Foundation is an international criminal money laundering organization whose clients include the Russian mafia.
With Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign Chairman John Podesta having longstanding ties to the Russian mafia and money laundering, this report continues, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) maintains “complete/all times/all ways” surveillance of him and his criminal associates—including both Hillary Clinton and her husband, and former US President, Bill Clinton, and who are collectively designated as the “Clinton Crime Family”.
On Saturday 15 October (2016), this report notes, the SVR reported to the MoF that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta met with JP Morgan Chase & Company CEO Jamie Dimon at Clinton’s Chappaqua Compound outside of New York City—and who, in 2009, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton allowed to break US laws by his, Dimon’s, being able to buy millions-of-dollars of his company’s stocks prior to the public being told his JP Morgan bank was receiving a Federal Reserve $80 billion credit line—and that caused JP Morgan’s stocks to soar and that have had an astonishing 920% dividend growth since 2010.
Within 12 hours of the Hillary Clinton-John Podesta-Jamie Dimon meeting at the Chappaqua Compound, this report continues, the BIS registered the transfer of $1.8 billion from the Clinton Foundation to the Qatar Central Bank.
To why the Clinton Foundation transferred this enormous sum of money to Qatar, this report explains, is due to the longstanding ties between this Islamic neo-patrimonial absolute monarchy and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who “oversaw/managed” the “massive bribery scheme” that allowed this Gulf State nation to secure the 2022 World Cup—and that the Qataris were so appreciative of they donated millions to the Clinton Foundation, and incredibly, in 2011, gave former US President Bill Clinton $1 million for a birthday present—bringing Hillary Clinton’s total “cash grab” from these Persian Gulf sheiks of $100 million—all occurring as recently released secret emails revealed Hillary Clinton’s knowledge that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia were, and still are, funding ISIS.
To what Jamie Dimon “related/said to” Hillary Clinton that caused her to suddenly transfer $1.8 billion to Qatar, this report notes, revolves around his JP Morgan bank being told by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in April (2016) that this “megabanks” master plan to save itself had “serious deficiencies” that could “pose serious adverse effects to the financial stability of the United States”.
Two months after the FDIC’s warning letter to Jamie Dimon, in June (2016), this report says, he cryptically “sounded a warning” that the United States sub-prime auto loan bubble was nearing collapse and stated that “someone is going to get hurt”.
Unbeknownst to the American people, MoF experts in this report explain, is that just 8 weeks ago multiple warnings began to be issued that the United States $1 trillion sub-prime auto loan bubble was beginning to collapse—and that this past week became so severe the Bank of America issued a recession warning telling its elite customers that “this market is scary”, and the British-based multinational banking and financial services company HSBC, likewise, issued a “Red Alert” warning all of its clients warning them to “prepare for a severe market crash”.
With one of the first “victims/casualties” of this sub-prime auto loan bubble being the German global banking giant Deutsche Bank that is “nearing its doom” and laying off tens-of-thousands of it workers worldwide, this report grimly states, the American mainstream propaganda media is failing to allow the people of that nation to know the full extent of this looming catastrophe—who unlike Hillary Clinton who has just protected $1.8 billion of her wealth, will be left defenseless once again at the hands of their elite rulers.
As Wikileaks secret Hillary Clinton emails have now proven that the US propaganda mainstream media is now totally controlled by her, and who continue their blackout on the “Clinton Crime Story of the Century”, this report continues, the absolutely horrifying statistics released this week showing that an astounding 35% of American who have been brutalized by the Obama-Clinton regime these past 8 years are so buried in debt they can no longer pay their bills is, likewise, being kept from these most innocent of peoples.
And rather than the US propaganda mainstream media warning the American people of their economies looming destruction, this report concludes, they have, instead, begun a “systemic mainstream misinformation” campaign to manipulate the presidential election polls showing Hillary Clinton leading—but that stands opposed to actual (but unreported) polls showing Donald Trump leading.
Critical Note: A highly classified SVR amendment to this MoF report states that upon Qatar receiving Hillary Clinton’s $1.8 billion earlier today, one of that sheikdoms royal places was “ordered emptied” in preparation for the “early November arrival” of a “high value” dignitary—Hillary Clinton perhaps?
by Tyler Durden
Sep 6, 2016 6:30 PM
Why does it seem like almost everything is made in China these days? Yesterday I was looking at some pencils that we had laying around the house and I noticed that they had been manufactured in China. I remarked to my wife that it was such a shame that they don’t make pencils in the United States anymore. At another point during the day, I turned over my television remote and I noticed that it also had “Made In China” engraved on it. With Labor Day just hours in the past, I think that it is quite appropriate to write about our transition from an industrial economy to a paper economy today. Since the year 2000, the United States has lost five million manufacturing jobs even though our population has grown substantially since that time. Manufacturing in America is in a state of stunning decline, our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted, and our formerly great manufacturing cities are in an advanced state of decay. We consume far more wealth than we produce, and the only way that we are able to do this is by taking on massive amounts of debt. But is our debt-based paper economy sustainable in the long run?
Back in 1960, 24 percent of all American workers worked in manufacturing. Today, that number has shriveled all the way down to just 8 percent. CNN is calling it “the Great Shift”…
In 1960, about one in four American workers had a job in manufacturing. Today fewer than one in 10 are employed in the sector, according to government data.
Call it the Great Shift. Workers transitioned from the fields to the factories. Now they are moving from factories to service counters and health care centers. The fastest growing jobs in America now are nurses, personal care aides, cooks, waiters, retail salespersons and operations managers.
No wonder the middle class is shrinking so rapidly. There aren’t too many cooks, waiters or retail salespersons that can support a middle class family.
Since the turn of the century, we have lost more than 50,000 manufacturing facilities. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of gleaming new factories have been erected in places like China.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
At this point, the total number of government employees in the United States exceeds the total number of manufacturing employees by almost 10 million…
Government employees in the United States outnumber manufacturing employees by 9,932,000, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Federal, state and local government employed 22,213,000 people in August, while the manufacturing sector employed 12,281,000.
The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to 1939. For half a century—from January 1939 through July 1989—manufacturing employment always exceeded government employment in the United States, according to these numbers.
You might be thinking that government jobs are “good jobs”, but the truth is that they don’t produce wealth.
Government employees are really good at pushing paper around and telling other people what to do, but in most instances they don’t actually make anything.
In order to have a sustainable economy, you have got to have people creating and producing things of value. A debt-based paper economy may seem to work for a while, but eventually the whole thing inevitably comes crashing down when faith in the paper is lost.
Right now, the rest of the world is willing to send us massive amounts of stuff that they produce for our paper. So we keep producing more and more paper and we keep going into more and more debt, but at some point the gig will be up.
If we want to be a wealthy nation in the long-term, we have got to produce stuff. That is why the latest news from Caterpillar is so depressing. In addition to the thousands of layoffs that had been previously announced by the industrial machinery giant, it appears that a fresh wave of layoffs has arrived…
Hundreds of mostly office employees received layoff notices at one of the largest Caterpillar Inc. facilities in the Peoria area this week, just as the company announced plans to close overseas production plants and eliminate thousands more positions.
A total of 300 support and management employees at Building AC and the Tech Center in Mossville this week received job loss notifications that included severance packages, 60 days notice and mandated Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letters.
During this election season, you will hear many of our politicians talk about how good “free trade” is for the global economy. But that is only true if the trade is balanced. Unfortunately, we have been running a yearly trade deficit of between 400 billion dollars and 600 billion dollars for many years…
When you have got about half a trillion dollars more going out than you have coming in year after year that has severe consequences.
Let me try to break it down very simply.
Imagine that I am the United States and you are China. I take one dollar out of my wallet and I give it to you and then you send me some stuff.
After a while, I want more stuff, so I take another dollar out of my wallet and send it to you in exchange for more products.
But that stuff only lasts for so long, and so pretty soon I find myself taking another dollar out of my wallet and giving it to you for even more stuff.
Ultimately, who is going to end up with all the money?
It isn’t a big mystery as to how China ended up with so much money. And when we can’t pay our bills we have to go and beg them to let us borrow some of the money that we sent to them in the first place. Since we pay interest on that borrowed money, that makes China even richer.
This is why I am so obsessed with these trade issues. They truly are at the very heart of our long-term economic problems.
But most Americans don’t understand these things, and they seem to think that our debt-based paper economy can just keep rolling along indefinitely.
In the end, history will be the judge as to who was right and who was wrong.
In a fair election, my best estimate is that Donald Trump would win in a landslide.
But this election will not be fair. In fact, few of them are.
For Trump’s part, there is no doubt that he has been this year’s sensation. A newcomer to politics, he has thrown out all the conventional rules, played by his own, and found a captivated country hanging onto his every word. Love him, hate him, or somewhere in between… no one can look away from the spectacle.
After a war within the party and the convenient disposal of 16 conventional GOP contenders, Trump is now the official Republican candidate and he is in a strong position. Coming out of the relatively calm Republican National Convention and going into the tumultuous DNC, Trump has enjoyed soaring poll numbers while Hillary has been losing ground fast to the scandals and corruption revealed by Wikileaks and other related mouthpieces.
But the fat lady has not sung.
Hijacking the Party, Keeping Dissent Under Wraps
Hillary’s coronation last night as she formally accepted her party’s nomination could hardly have been more forced. The entire Democratic convention has been stage-managed to downplay the overwhelming noise from Bernie supporter who are outraged and feel betrayed by Hillary.
The entire convention has had a certain air to it, a quality that reveals the desperation for power, and the crisp sense of danger that brings with it.
To a casual observer, things might look typical enough, with a few sore losers and pipe dreamers wishing for an ideal country run by decent and fair people that either don’t exist or haven’t figured out how to win an election. But things are not typical – the paradigm is shifting. Politics realigns every 30 years or so, or at least that is the maxim that has held in political science. Only, the last shift has been 30 or 40 years overdue.
There is a reason for that, and the establishment has been fighting to stop the change for the past generation. They have faked out the cycle and kept the population under their thumb (when was the last time you saw a “real” presidential election that wasn’t a means to keeping the status quo?)
But delaying the inevitable won’t hold.
Why Trump Should Win…
As Michael Moore argued, Trump has been preaching the gospel of restoring America’s manufacturing, and is working to woo and turn to “red” the “blue” Rust Belt states where Americans once had strong middle class jobs, especially in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. According to Moore’s numbers (which are cited to motivate support for Hillary and opposition to Trump), if Trump captures those key states in addition to the red states that Mitt Romney, a weak candidate, won in 2012, then Trump should win the electoral college:
I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest.
In fact, Moore is right. Nobody wants any more Flint, Michigans (where the water is contaminated and poverty seems to be airborne and contagious), least of all Michael Moore.
Trump’s appeal is much broader than just his sensational antics and controversial statements. He is resonating with America because he is speaking to the wounds of those struggling to cling to what’s left of the middle class American Dream.
And the strength of Trump’s position there is buttressed by the cold fact that the Clinton’s strong support for NAFTA played a major role in the downward spiral of the Rust Belt, and many other parts of the United States.
Trump’s appeal to bringing jobs back to America has to sound like not only a good campaign strategy, but an actual sound idea.
Things have reached a point where nearly every American – regardless of how little they pay attention to news and world affairs – is feeling the damage that has been done. NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and an entire shift into pseudo-governing structures of globalism that have eaten away at the sovereignty of the United States and devoured the prosperity of its people have taken a serious toll on our way of life. And we have all been programmed to take it lying down.
The steady flow of funny money, artificially pumped out by the Federal Reserve has kept many from noticing it, but the real world effects are still hitting people on the street. Not only does the dollar not go as far as it used to, but everything in life is increasing in cost, and getting watered down in value and substance. Society is acting out one big charade, and pretending not to notice the outrage, dissent and anger seeping through the cracks and edges.
Inevitable and determined to win at all costs
Rather than let that burst on her watch, and during the only opportunity she has left in this lifetime, Hillary Clinton and her minions have rearranged all the deck chairs in her favor to force a win. It certainly hasn’t come from the grassroots. Where necessary, the Democratic party has fudged primaries and stolen them outright. The mainstream media has been scripted around her as an anointed figure who is untouchable and beyond reproach. They have stifled exposure of Bernie and would have done so to any other rival… if only any others had dared to enter the race.
Instead, the campaign to elect Hillary became an unrelenting junta to force her into office in spite of the will of the people, the rules of the game or the ever-expanding negative image of the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State whose corruption and ties to bad deeds are both legendary and sufficiently documented to warrant life without parole.
There was a never a realistic chance that Hillary would be prosecuted or even reprimanded over her email scandals, because the fix was in a long time ago. Those who would theoretically hold her into account were appointed by her husband, or by President Obama, and their cooperation was assured in private.
Though many have argued that you can’t put lipstick on a pig, that is exactly what has taken place. 2016 is more of a farce than ever… and there is still another round to go.
Only One Persons Stands Between Her and the Presidency
Can anyone else see that the most rigged and stolen election of all time is shaping up? If the Democratic party doesn’t want Hillary, what makes anyone think the entire country wants anything to do with her?
Before you answer that openly, make a strong educated guess about who the next president is going to be… and how many bodies she will have to climb over to get there.
What Wikileaks exposed with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC, and what the emails have revealed about Hillary and the Clinton Foundation are surely only the tip of the iceberg. The stories of the delegates who were silenced or kicked out of the convention, and many other deceitful acts to destroy dissent and keep up appearances suggest some of the rest of the story… and it is anything but democratic or “of the people” – though very likely the whole of it will never be known.
There is something very, very wrong going on and it is time that everyone – regardless of ideology, party affiliation or politics – needs to face up to. Preliminary evidence indicates strongly that there has been a very carefully orchestrated coup taking place… and if successful, it will have only one logical conclusion:
Total power, at any price, with a facade of support and momentum that just isn’t there from anyone other than a handful of elite billionaires, and a cadre of clients with addresses that are either foreign or based on Wall Street.
If you missed the convention coverage, then you have got to see Hillary playing with the balloons after her speech.
There really is no wondering who she is concerned about… herself, of course.
As I mentioned above, it is reminiscent – even spot on – of Charlie Chaplin’s amazing parody in The Great Dictator, where his version of a Hitler-esque autocrat toys with the world as his plaything.
We are in for a world of hurt if what I think is going to happen turns out. The entire democratic process is being pushed back under the water, and a crude, fake smile is broadcast for appearances, while holding it all down.
Part 1 :: How This Phony CIA Agent Pulled Off a ‘Scam’ to Impose Environmental Regulations on Americans
Kevin Mooney / @KevinMooneyDC / February 10 2015
Remember the EPA bureaucrat who got caught receiving $900,000 in pay without working because he claimed he also was employed by the CIA?
According to a report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the man, former climate policy expert John Beale, “retired” when questions arose about his spotty attendance and expense records.
Only he didn’t file his retirement paperwork and continued to draw an active-duty salary for some time after. His boss at the time in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, now-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, knew this for about seven months and did nothing to stop it.
>>> This is the first of a two-part series.
“On March 29, 2012, an OAR official raised concerns about Beale’s retirement when he informed McCarthy that Beale was still on payroll,” the report stated.
“Despite being aware of the fact that one of her subordinates was collecting a paycheck without providing any work product, this arrangement continued for seven more months before McCarthy ever contacted Beale.”
In December 2012, McCarthy met with Beale for the first time in nearly 15 months, and he informed her that he was no longer planning on retiring. Two more months passed before concerns with Beale were officially reported to the inspector general. On April 30, 2013, McCarthy had cause to fire Beale, but instead elected to allow him to voluntarily retire with full benefits.
Liz Purchia, press secretary for McCarthy, told The Daily Signal in an email: “[McCarthy] believed he was retired, and [that] was the reason he was not in the office.”
How Did He Do It?
According to the Senate report, Beale’s career at the EPA was marked by relentless dishonesty on matters large and small and a cadre of supervisors who, like McCarthy apparently in the matter of his retirement pay, enabled his self-dealing behaviors.
He claimed an injury so he could ride first-class on flights for government business, which in one case drove the ticket price from $1,000 to $14,000. He forged expense forms, claimed to be away on CIA business for 2½ years worth of work days and flew to Los Angeles and stayed in posh hotels on the EPA’s tab for family visits that had nothing to do with agency work.
Few even attempted to question Beale’s frequent absences, enormous expense reports, exorbitant salary—he retired as the agency’s highest-paid employee—and lack of accountability. He was personally popular, well-connected and believed to be among the agency’s most effective employees.
But Beale’s greatest deception has nothing to do with first-class flights and fancy hotels.
Beale, who is serving a 32-month sentence in the federal prison in Cumberland, Md., for pleading guilty to felony theft of government property, spent most of his career devising regulations under the Clean Air Act that are justified by science few have seen and no one has peer-reviewed, according to the Senate report.
“We should all question how John Beale became a senior official at the EPA and played a major role in long-lasting policy decisions while pulling off a scam I thought only Hollywood could make up,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told The Daily Signal.
“But this egregious case helped us successfully reveal how EPA has wasted taxpayer resources and mismanagement in a manner that is far too common.”
John Beale and the Clean Air Act
Beale’s penchant for bilking the EPA out of money eroded the trust Americans place in their government and EPA employees place in their superiors and coworkers. But it was the role he played beginning in the mid-1990s in creating and implementing regulations pursuant to Clean Air Act that continues to reverberate and linger at the expense of the American people.
Staffers with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee set out last year to probe the relationship between “sue-and-settle” arrangements and evidence they had uncovered that pointed to the manipulation of scientific data.
What they discovered, as detailed in their report, titled “EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit and Secret Science,” was how agency officials concealed and misled about the science that underpinned its most significant initiatives and silenced and marginalized their own internal watchdog offices, which enabled the agency to greatly overstate the benefits and underestimate the costs of its Clean Air Act rulemaking.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to create National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter and ozone. The American Lung Association sought to jumpstart this process with a so-called “sue-and-settle” suit filed in 1995.
The idea behind “sue-and-settle” is for friendly plaintiffs to sue a government agency, work out agreeable terms—perhaps even beforehand—and emerge with a court order to implement rules or regulations that could not have been achieved through the democratic or even regulatory process.
The American Lung Association suit resulted in a consent decree that called for the EPA to propose final standards for particulate matter by Nov. 29, 1996, and issue the standards by July 19, 1997. The decree set no deadline for ozone standards because they had been reviewed in 1993 and were not up for another review until 1998.
But Beale and Robert Brenner, his best friend and erstwhile boss, made what documents called a “policy call” and seized on the urgency to produce new particulate matter standards to rush through a new ozone standard as well.
This put the agency in the position of advancing two regulatory standards simultaneously, which it had never done. And it put the agency and those charged with reviewing such regulations, including the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, under impossible deadline pressure.
Why Beale Was Emboldened
The EPA admitted in court papers filed pursuant to the American Lung Association lawsuit that any period shorter than Dec. 1, 1998, for promulgation of the particulate matter standard “would require the EPA to reach conclusions on scientific and policy issues with enormous consequences for society before it has had an adequate opportunity to collect and evaluate pertinent scientific data” and that further time was needed to reach a “sound and scientifically supportable decision.”
Beale had no time for that. He needed an ally to move things along and found one in Carol Browner, the Al Gore acolyte and former staffer who served as administrator of the EPA through both terms of the Clinton administration. Beale formed a close relationship with her and met with her multiple times per week to discuss his progress on this.
The urgency, as well as his influence with the boss and an unwillingness of others at EPA to block him, gave Beale “the mechanism he needed to ignore opposition to the standards.”
Beale’s efforts to include ozone in the new regulations proved expensive for Americans.
The EPA estimated the cost at $2.5 billion, but its estimate was based on receiving the full benefits of cutting ozone but achieving only a partial attainment of the standards, which the law did not permit. The Council of Economic Advisers also measured the cost and found it to be $60 billion—24 times the EPA estimate.
Indeed, as was the case with him getting away with not showing up for work and submitting exorbitant expense reports, succeeding in this regulatory sleight of hand only emboldened Beale to go further.
‘Hidden and Unverified’
That first round of standards, which regulated coarse particulate matter, such as pollen and dust, became known as PM10. But Beale wanted more.
In 1997, with the backing of his superiors, he sought to engage the agency in regulating fine particulate matter—particles a fourth the size of those regulated under PM10 and too small to be visible to the human eye.
But to enact these regulations, EPA first had to produce scientific research that established these smaller particles posed a threat to humans.
To accomplish this, Beale pulled data from two controversial studies—the Harvard Six Cities Study and an American Cancer Society study known as ACSII. The data was not trusted. The air advisory committee pointed out it had not been peer-reviewed, and others indicated Beale was exaggerating the findings for his desired result.
Further undermining those studies’ credibility is that even now, 20 years later, EPA still refuses to release the data, despite McCarthy’s promise to do so during her confirmation hearings.
Though Beal is out of the picture and in prison, his rulemaking techniques he employed to advance the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter remain firmly entrenched.
“This effort codified EPA’s now customary practice of using fine particulates (PM2.5) to inflate the benefits of nearly all regulations issued under the Clean Air Act,” the Senate report concludes. “Yet the science supporting nearly all of EPA’s alleged benefits remain hidden and unverified.”
Part 2 :: EPA Under Fire for Concealing Controversial Scientific Data, Silencing Skeptics
Kevin Mooney / @KevinMooneyDC / February 11, 2015
For more than 15 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has resisted releasing data from two key studies to the general public and members of Congress. Government regulators used those studies to craft some of the most expensive environmental rules in U.S. history.
When skeptics within the federal government questioned and challenged the integrity of the studies—the Harvard Six Cities Study and an American Cancer Society study known as ACS II—they were silenced and muzzled.
That’s when the Republican staff on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee stepped in to shine light on the situation, revealing the scope of the scandal in in a report titled, “EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit and Secret Science.”
>>> This is the second of a two-part series. Read the first part: How This Phony CIA Agent Pulled Off a ‘Scam’ to Impose Environmental Regulations on Americans
The key player in the scandal is John Beale, who was sentenced to serve 32 months in federal prison on Dec. 18, 2013, after pleading guilty to stealing almost $900,000 from U.S. taxpayers.
It was in 1994 that Beale first began to beguile EPA employees and supervisors into believing he worked for the CIA. When he failed to report for work, Beale would enter “D.O. Oversight” on his calendar, which meant he was a director of operations responsible for covert operations at the CIA.
But it was the role Beale played beginning in the mid-1990s in creating and implementing regulations pursuant to Clean Air Act that continues to reverberate and linger at the expense of the American people.
Two Allies at the EPA
Over the past decade, evidence has emerged to reveal the Six Cities and ACS II studies did not support enacting one of the most controversial, far-reaching and expensive regulations in American history. Otherwise, the agency would have provided access to the data without a fight.
The political appointees who led the EPA at the time feared the consequences of enacting such a regulation without being able to offer scientific evidence of its necessity.
Beale needed an ally. He needed someone to explain the problems with the research and the reasons the data could not be released. Someone who could run interference with various actors in Washington. He found one in top EPA official Robert Brenner.
Brenner had recruited Beale, his former Princeton University classmate, to the EPA as a full-time employee in 1989.
Brenner, then deputy director of the EPA’s Office of Policy Analysis and Review within the Office of Air and Radiation, hired his friend despite Beale’s lack of legislative or environmental policy background. He also placed Beale in the highest pay scale for general service employees—a move typically reserved for those with extensive experience.
He then allowed Beale to collect retention bonuses, which go to only the most highly qualified employees to keep them from jumping ship—an unlikely scenario for a man who had picked apples and worked in a small-time law firm in Minnesota before joining the agency. Employees are supposed to be eligible for such bonuses—potentially worth as much as a fourth of the employee’s annual salary—for only three years, but Brenner helped Beale receive them for more than 10.
The two would work together at the EPA for 25 years—during which time the Office of Policy Analysis and Review would grow “in both scope and influence” as Beale and Brenner worked in tandem to muzzle dissenting voices within the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.
‘Beale Memo’ Details Regulatory Agenda
At the crux of their agenda—the initiative that would build their legend within the agency—was implementation of a fine particle standard regulating air pollution.
The formula had been set with the American Lung Association sue-and-settle agreement and codified in a confidential document known as the “Beale Memo,” which described how Beale pressured regulatory and clean air bodies to back off criticisms of EPA rulemaking both within the agency and in correspondence with members of Congress.
The EPA attempted to conceal this document from Sen. David Vitter’s committee investigators, but a conscientious whistleblower “turned it over surreptitiously,” the report said.
The memo outlined how Beale and Brenner would work to compress the time the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the voluntary Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee had to review regulations so they could get away with using “secret science.”
The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee opposed from the start the move to regulate fine particulate matter. Members claimed there was no precedent or court order to establish these regulations, that research had not distinguished between dangers posed by PM 10 particles and those a fourth that size under PM 2.5, and that the PM 2.5 target was arbitrary and tied to no known science. (PM stands for particle matter, a term “for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets,” according to EPA.)
Further, the committee, known as CASAC, complained it was being asked to do the work that took eight years on the previous air quality review in 18 months.
“The Beale memo is interesting in that it provides evidence of Beale’s direct role in ensuring concerns raised by other agencies, CASAC members and OIRA were not considered in the final rulemaking,” wrote Luke Bolar, spokesman for Vitter, in an email to The Daily Signal.
“While there were major concerns with the science and the cost-benefit analysis as outlined in comments filed on the rule, the Beale memo was written to push back against OIRA publicizing those concerns,” Bolar added. “They didn’t have to directly ‘blunt’ criticism, as Beale got his way through his close ties to Mary Nichols (then head of the Office of Air and Radiation) and Carol Browner (EPA administrator.”
Efforts to slow Beale, Brenner and their highly charged regulations failed. As a result, today the “co-benefits” of PM 2.5 are used to justify almost the entirety of the Obama administration’s air quality initiatives even though the immediate benefits still have yet to be proven.
“There is no watchdog now inside the EPA,” laments Steve Milloy, the former editor of JunkScience.com, which has posted a fact sheet that debunks the EPA’s PM 2.5 claims. “Whatever the EPA wants it gets. The agency is allowed to run rampant. There was a time when OIRA use to have stopping power, but now it’s just ignored. OIRA has become a rubber stamp.”
This is especially true of PM 2.5, Milloy says. “There is no real world evidence” PM 2.5 has caused sudden or long-term death, he said. “The claim that PM 2.5 kills people is at the heart and soul of how the EPA is selling these regulations. But it’s a claim that’s not supported by the facts or evidence. The EPA has rigged the whole process.”
Indeed, the purported co-benefits have become the benefits, according to Vitter’s report.
“Historically, EPA used co-benefits in major rules as one of several benefits quantified to justify a rule in the RIA,” the report says. “Yet, at the beginning of the Obama administration, there was a ‘trend towards almost complete reliance on PM 2.5-related health co-benefits.’ Instead of being an ancillary benefit, EPA started using PM 2.5 co-benefits as essentially the only quantified benefit for many CAA regulations.”
The Senate report claims all but five air pollution rules crafted between 2009 and 2011 listed PM 2.5.
Lack of Transparency at EPA
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set air quality standards to protect public health with an “adequate margin of safety.” In its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the EPA considers factors such as the nature and severity of health effects, the size of the at-risk groups affected and the science.
Several exhaustive scientific reviews prior and subsequent to the 1997 standards were conducted following open, public processes that allowed for public review and comment prior to updating the standards.
EPA press secretary Liz Purchia told The Daily Signal in an email that the process is open enough.
The National Ambient Air Quality Standards are bolstered by “sound science and legal standards,” she said, and “several exhaustive scientific reviews prior and subsequent to the 1997 standards were conducted following open, public processes that allowed for public review and comment prior to updating the standards.”
Beale’s involvement in no way undermines the rational basis for the agency’s decisions nor the integrity of the administrative process. Reducing the public’s exposure to ground-level ozone and PM protects millions of Americans from costly and dangerous illness, hospitalization, and premature death.
All that may be true, but the EPA still won’t provide the underlying data to put the matter to rest.
Vitter and his team say this is because the EPA can continue to overstate the benefits and understate the costs of federal regulations—just as Beale did in the 1990s.
“This technique has been applied over the years and burdens the American people today, as up to 80 percent of the benefits associated with all federal regulations are attributed to supposed PM 2.5 reductions,” the report states.
By Mollie Hemingway October 14, 2014
As the Ebola situation in West Africa continues to deteriorate, some U.S. officials are claiming that they would have been able to better deal with the public health threat if only they had more money.
Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Huffington Post, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.” Hillary Clinton also claimed that funding restrictions were to blame for inability to combat Ebola.
Conservative critics have pointed out that the federal government has spent billions upon billions of dollars on unnecessary programs promoting a political agenda rather than targeting those funds to the fight against health threats.
Other limited government types point to the Progressive utopian foolishness seen in opposing political factions, both sides of which seem to agree humanity could somehow escape calamity if only we had a properly functioning government. People who don’t want an all-powerful government shouldn’t blame it for not having competence when crisis strikes.
What’s particularly interesting about this discussion, then, is that nobody has even discussed the fact that the federal government not ten years ago created and funded a brand new office in the Health and Human Services Department specifically to coordinate preparation for and response to public health threats like Ebola. The woman who heads that office, and reports directly to the HHS secretary, has been mysteriously invisible from the public handling of this threat. And she’s still on the job even though three years ago she was embroiled in a huge scandal of funneling a major stream of funding to a company with ties to a Democratic donor—and away from a company that was developing a treatment now being used on Ebola patients.
Before the media swallow implausible claims of funding problems, perhaps they could be more skeptical of the idea that government is responsible for solving all of humanity’s problems. Barring that, perhaps the media could at least look at the roles that waste, fraud, mismanagement, and general incompetence play in the repeated failures to solve the problems the feds unrealistically claim they will address. In a world where a $12.5 billion slush fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is used to fight the privatization of liquor stores, perhaps we should complain more about mission creep and Progressive faith in the habitually unrealized magic of increased government funding.
Lay of the Land
Collins’ NIH is part of the Health and Human Services Department. Real spending at that agency has increased nine-fold since 1970 and now tops $900 billion. Oh, if we could all endure such “funding slides,” eh?
Whether or not Dr. Collins’ effort to get more funding for NIH will be successful—if the past is prologue, we’ll throw more money at him—the fact is that Congress passed legislation with billions of dollars in funding specifically to coordinate preparation for public health threats like Ebola not 10 years ago. And yet the results of such funding have been hard to evaluate.
See, in 2004, Congress passed The Project Bioshield Act. The text of that legislation authorized up to $5,593,000,000 in new spending by NIH for the purpose of purchasing vaccines that would be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack. A major part of the plan was to allow stockpiling and distribution of vaccines.
Just two years later, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which created a new assistant secretary for preparedness and response to oversee medical efforts and called for a National Health Security Strategy. The Act established Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as the focal point within HHS for medical efforts to protect the American civilian population against naturally occurring threats to public health. It specifically says this authority was established to give “an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.”
Last year, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 which keep the programs in effect for another five years.
If you look at any of the information about these pieces of legislation or the office and authorities that were created, this brand new expansion of the federal government was sold to us specifically as a means to fight public health threats like Ebola. That was the entire point of why the office and authorities were created.
In fact, when Sen. Bob Casey was asked if he agreed the U.S. needed an Ebola czar, which some legislators are demanding, he responded: “I don’t, because under the bill we have such a person in HHS already.”
The Invisible Dr. Lurie
So, we have an office for public health threat preparedness and response. And one of HHS’ eight assistant secretaries is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, whose job it is to “lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.”
In the video below, the woman who heads that office, Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are “to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, “Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.” A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, “I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.” Still another refers to her as “the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.”
Now, you might be wondering why the person in charge of all this is a name you’re not familiar with. Apart from a discussion of Casey’s comments on how we don’t need an Ebola czar because we already have one, a Google News search for Lurie’s name at the time of writing brings up nothing in the last hour, the last 24 hours, not even the last week! You have to get back to mid-September for a few brief mentions of her name in minor publications. Not a single one of those links is confidence building.
So why has the top official for public health threats been sidelined in the midst of the Ebola crisis? Only the not-known-for-transparency Obama administration knows for sure. But maybe taxpayers and voters should force Congress to do a better job with its oversight rather than get away with the far easier passing of legislation that grants additional funds before finding out what we got for all that money we allocated to this task over the last decade. And then maybe taxpayers should begin to puzzle out whether their really bad return on tax investment dollars is related to some sort of inherent problem with the administrative state.
The Ron Perelman Scandal
There are a few interesting things about the scandal Lurie was embroiled in years ago. You can—and should—read all about it in the Los Angeles Times‘ excellent front-page expose from November 2011, headlined: “Cost, need questioned in $433-million smallpox drug deal: A company controlled by a longtime political donor gets a no-bid contract to supply an experimental remedy for a threat that may not exist.” This Forbes piece is also interesting.
The donor is billionaire Ron Perelman, who was controlling shareholder of Siga. He’s a huge Democratic donor but he also gets Republicans to play for his team, of course. Siga was under scrutiny even back in October 2010 when The Huffington Post reported that it had named labor leader Andy Stern to its board and “compensated him with stock options that would become dramatically more valuable if the company managed to win the contract it sought with HHS—an agency where Stern has deep connections, having helped lead the year-plus fight for health care reform as then head of the Service Employees International Union.”
The award was controversial from almost every angle—including disputes about need, efficacy, and extremely high costs. There were also complaints about awarding a company of its size and structure a small business award as well as the negotiations involved in granting the award. It was so controversial that even Democrats in tight election races were calling for investigations.
Last month, Siga filed for bankruptcy after it was found liable for breaching a licensing contract. The drug it’s been trying to develop, which was projected to have limited utility, has not really panned out—yet the feds have continued to give valuable funds to the company even though the law would permit them to recoup some of their costs or to simply stop any further funding.
The Los Angeles Times revealed that, during the fight over the grant, Lurie wrote to Siga’s chief executive, Dr. Eric A. Rose, to tell him that someone new would be taking over the negotiations with the company. She wrote, “I trust this will be satisfactory to you.” Later she denied that she’d had any contact with Rose regarding the contract, saying such contact would have been inappropriate.
The company that most fought the peculiar sole-source contract award to Siga was Chimerix, which argued that its drug had far more promise than Siga’s. And, in fact, Chimerix’s Brincidofovir is an antiviral medication being developed for treatment of smallpox but also Ebola and adenovirus. In animal trials, it’s shown some success against adenoviruses, smallpox, and herpes—and preliminary tests show some promise against Ebola. On Oct. 6, the FDA authorized its use for some Ebola patients.
It was given to Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died, and Ashoka Mukpo, who doctors said had improved. Mukpo even tweeted that he was on the road to recovery.
Back to that Budget
Consider again how The Huffington Post parroted Collins’ claims:
Money, or rather the lack of it, is a big part of the problem. NIH’s purchasing power is down 23 percent from what it was a decade ago, and its budget has remained almost static. In fiscal year 2004, the agency’s budget was $28.03 billion. In FY 2013, it was $29.31 billion—barely a change, even before adjusting for inflation.
Of course, between the fiscal years 2000 and 2004, NIH’s budget jumped a whopping 58 percent. HHS’s 70,000 workers will spend a total of $958 billion this year, or about $7,789 for every U.S. household. A 2012 report on federal spending including the following nuggets about how NIH spends its supposedly tight funds:
- a $702,558 grant for the study of the impact of televisions and gas generators on villages in Vietnam.
- $175,587 to the University of Kentucky to study the impact of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quail.
- $55,382 to study hookah smoking in Jordan.
- $592,527 to study why chimpanzees throw objects.
Last year there were news reports about a $509,840 grant from NIH to pay for a study that will send text messages in “gay lingo” to meth-heads. There are many other shake-your-head examples of misguided spending that are easy to find.
Indeed. The Progressive belief that a powerful government can stop all calamity is misguided. In the last 10 years we passed multiple pieces of legislation to create funding streams, offices, and management authorities precisely for this moment. That we have nothing to show for it is not good reason to put even more faith in government without learning anything from our repeated mistakes. Responding to the missing Ebola Czar and her office’s corruption by throwing still more money, more management changes, and more bureaucratic complexity in her general direction is madness.