Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 27, 2015
One year ago 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, an African-American, was shot and killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke. Last week Van Dyke was charged with murdering McDonald. Given the video released by the city of Chicago during the same week Van Dyke was charged, there is little question as to the justification for the charges. The timing of the charges and other issues that indicate a cover up ans.
Immediately preceding the shooting, Laquan McDonald was being chased by Chicago police after they received reports of someone vandalizing automobiles in the area. One video shows McDonald running from the police carrying a small knife. Another video shows Van Dyke exiting his vehicle and shooting McDonald who was walking away from the police. The first shot took McDonald down and then Van Dyke emptied his clip shooting the victim another 15 times. There is no justification for Van Dyke’s actions.
The facts behind the McDonald shooting captured in the video are troubling enough. However, what happened since is also very problematic. First, the police department’s dash-cam video was not released for one year after the shooting and then only after a legal foundation took the Chicago PD to court to obtain its release. In addition, civilian video taken at a nearby Burger King was reportedly tampered with by the police the evening of the shooting. Finally, there were approximately a half a dozen other police officers on scene who witnessed the shooting, but did not participate in it. Their code of silence is inexcusable.
Justice must be served for Laquan McDonald and the charges leveled against Jason Van Dyke is a good start. However, the delay in making the charges, as well as the police department’s attempt to bury the video and cover up facts behind the shooting, are also inexcusable. Police officers who witnessed the shooting and did not come forward should be held culpable. In addition, those in the police department and the City who were in any way involved in a cover-up need to be made accountable.
Chicago’s corruption and tainted politics have been the subjects of national jokes for too long. The city that made famous: “vote early and vote often” needs to be cleaned up. Unfortunately given the power of the entrenched Chicago political machine, realistic cleansing is unlikely.
President Barack Obama has shown a willingness to step into local police matters on various occasions throughout his presidency. The corruption in Chicago is one issue this President should use his bully pulpit to address. However, given his close association with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other Democratic ward politicians, such a response by Obama is unlikely.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: 16, Chicago, Laquan McDonald, Police, shooting, Video | 2 Comments »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 31, 2015
CNN has reported that the US Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into a huge governmental program designed to assist severely disabled Americans find work. According to the report, AbilityOne and SourceAmerica are being investigated for potential infractions including financial fraud, inappropriate steering of contracts, and obstruction of justice.
The AbilityOne program is responsible for spending approximately $3 billion of taxpayer funds annually, which is supposed to be funneled to companies with at least 75% of their workforce being severely disabled. This program was initiated during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration in 1938. Typical of government programs, once started they continue into perpetuity. This program’s continuance is questionable given the many newer laws that protect handicap workers, including the infamous Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to CNN, up to half the companies receiving contracts from AbilityOne and SourceAmerica under this program do not meet the requirements of employing severely disabled in appropriate numbers. In other words, this program is yet another form of crony capitalism that permeates our government. In this case, approximately 10 large companies are receiving the lion’s share of this program’s funds. This degradation of a program initiated with the best intent is not surprising given that the person who runs AbilityOne is a presidential appointee, in other words a political hack.
Very large organizations are difficult to control under the best of circumstances. Lines of communications are tenuous and complex. Holding people accountable for their performance is nearly impossible.
The outrageously large US federal government has added burdens that ensure its inefficiency and ineffectiveness. This includes political appointments of unskilled managers, as well as a bureaucracy that answers to no one. Its employment rules also make it nearly impossible to terminate ineffective employees.
The greatest albatross on the government’s ability to reform itself is its nearly limitless budget that is only possible because of deficit spending. Only by removing the government’s ability to borrow funds for other than catastrophic needs could Americans hope to limit governmental corruption. Limited budgets force competition between different agencies for scarce funds, help weed out inefficient agencies, and would also help create transparency as groups vie for funds.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: AbilityOne, disability, disabled, DOJ, Fraud, SourceAmerica | 2 Comments »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 13, 2015
July has not been a good month for government and those that look to it to resolve societal challenges.
After the carnage in a South Carolina church that resulted in the death of nine African-Americans at the hands of deranged racist, Progressives sought to use the tragedy to push a gun control agenda. Then, last week it was announced that the accused shooter, Dylann Roof, was not legally able to purchase the gun used in the massacre. Admitting that the background check of Roof is not properly handled, FBI director James Comey said: “This rips all of our hearts out“. This is also an indication that America does not need more laws, but competent enforcement of current laws.
In San Francisco, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was murdered on Pier 14. Any murder of an innocent is a tragedy, but it becomes especially troubling when it could have been prevented had authorities acted responsibly. Ms. Steinle was reportedly shot by Francisco Sanchez, who is not only an illegal alien, but had been deported multiple times and had multiple felony arrests in the United States. Adding an explanation point to this avoidable tragedy, it was reported by the Associated Press that the gun used in the murder belong to a federal agent, but was reported stolen. Again, additional gun control laws would not have prevented the murder. However, had the city of San Francisco reported to the federal government that Sanchez was being released from jail, as requested by the federal government, he would have been deported prior to the killing.
Finally, last week the Country learned of a very damaging, but less violent event involving governmental incompetence to the max. Over 25 million Americans had their personal information stolen from a governmental computer system. This led to the resignation of Katherine Archuleta, the director of the Office of Personnel Management. Ms. Archuleta’s resume included working for the Obama administration’s reelection team. It is little wonder that she lacked competence computer/personnel security.
Over the years those with a Libertarian view of government have railed at the crony capitalism, waste and incompetence of government. As the government has grown, increasing its reach deeper into the economy and society, the opportunities for incompetence and abuse increases.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: Charleston, church, computer, Government, Hack, Steinle | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 15, 2015
The Amtrak train crash earlier this week resulted in the death of eight and dozens of seriously injured. The victims were not even buried before this tragedy became a political tool championed by Democrats to increase governmental spending.
The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) quickly concluded that the train crash occurred due to operator error. The train was traveling over 100 mph, twice the safe speed at that point in the track. While operator error was the cause, Democrats immediately began placing blame on Republicans who supposedly refused to supply funding to Amtrak to install the safety equipment that could have avoided the accident.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, stated:
“Speaker Boehner’s comments are patently false. Experts have made clear that Positive Train Control could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia. It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality.”
While this Blog is no fan of Republican Speaker of the House Boehner, in this case it is Schumer who is “patently false” and “denying reality”. Here are the facts reported by the New York Times:
- In 2008, seven years ago, Congress mandated installation of Positive Train Control system in trains, the system mentioned by Schumer.
- The Amtrak train involved in the crashed was already equipped with Positive Train Control.
- The main reasons Positive Train Control in the Amtrak train was not operational were due to technical hurdles and bureaucratic bungling.
- Amtrak took four years to obtain the wireless frequencies needed for the Positive Train Control system, which were finally approved by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in March, 2015.
This tragedy and the way Democrats attempt to use it to further their political agenda is telling at various levels. First, it demonstrates that Schumer is either ignorant, a liar or both. It further demonstrates the incompetence of government to implement its own regulations.
Liberals offer a basic solution to any societal problem; throw money at it. Since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and more specifically since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the United States has gone through perhaps the most expensive social reengineering experiment in history. The results are in and they show failure. A prime example is the War on Poverty initiated by Lyndon Johnson. After spending trillions on this “war”, the poverty rate remains nearly unchanged in 50 years. Then there is Nixon’s War on Drugs that has failed in its efforts to stem the flow of drugs to the United States, has resulted in the growth of cartels south of the border, and led to too many inner-city “capitalists” being imprisoned. Examples are nearly endless. But still Progressives call for more spending and more government. That is indeed insanity.
Posted in Government Ineptness, Government Spendning | Tagged: Amtrak, crash, Funding, Republicans, safety, Senator | 1 Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 24, 2015
Another high level US government official has been caught in a lie. This time it is Veterans Administration Secretary Robert McDonald. On January 30, a CBS video captured a homeless veteran informing McDonald that he was once in the US Special Forces. To that McDowell responded: “Special forces? What years? I was in special forces.” While a touching response, it was false with McDonald serving with the 82nd Airborne, not Special Forces.
After being confronted with the lie, McDonald forced to make a retraction saying: “I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong. I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly, [with] no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is.”
While in the scheme of things McDonald’s lie was not grand in scale, it represents yet another high-level government official being caught lying. In addition, McDonald’s retraction/excuse is lame.
What is it about high-level “public service” that too often leads these supposed representatives of the People to become disingenuous? Does the lust for power attract a high percentage people with disingenuous traits or does the power of the positions corrupt? Whatever the answer, it is difficult to justify giving the political and bureaucratic elites more power.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: McDonald, special forces, VA, veterans-administration, why | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 20, 2015
Tonight President Barack Obama will make his State-of-the-Union address to Congress and the American people. Leaked material indicates it will be pure Obama, on the one hand touting the success of his economic programs of the first last six years, but then claiming the need for additional governmental programs and interventions to fix other “inequities. This includes two years of free community college to any who desire it, as well as taxing some for the benefit of others. The macro result will be increased government spending.
There two drivers of governmental programs/spending promoted by Obama other big-government politicians. The first and most egregious is political. Politicians learned early in the development of their art that giving rewards (programs, tax refunds, handouts, etc.) greases the way towards their reelections, irrespective of long-term consequences.
The second aspect is a belief in Keynesian economic principles that state when economies are slower the government should use deficit spending to offset the lower demand. While there are questions as to the efficacy of this basic Keynesian principal, one important part of Keynesian economics is that during good times governments need to run budget surpluses to prepare for economic downturns that require deficit spending. Progressive politicians either have forgotten or purposely ignore this important piece of Keynesian theory.
There is growing evidence that governmental stimulus programs are counterproductive to real economic growth.
For example, the United States has had special government spending since the 2008 economic meltdown. Given the size of these expenditures it would be reasonable to expect robust economic growth if Keynesian economic theory worked. Instead, the recovery has been the slowest since the Great Depression. In addition, while the official unemployment numbers are down, numbers that are already doctored in favor of a positive outcome, wage growth has been stagnant for a decade.
Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, posted an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled How Spending Sapped the Global Recovery that offers further evidence that worldwide government stimulus programs have hindered economic recovery. Sharma points out that political leaders are urging European countries, i.e. developed countries, to significantly ramp up stimulus and deficit spending programs. However, this focus on additional stimulus spending ignores evidence that similar programs have already failed in emerging countries. Sharma points out the following examples: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in economics, Government Ineptness | Tagged: economy, Obama, Recession, State-of-the-Union, Stimulus | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 19, 2014
The New York Times reported that President Obama is fuming about the governmental missteps relating to the growing Ebola problem in the United States. According to the Times, during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the President was visibly upset with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who showed an inability to get its hands around the Ebola threat. This came to a boil when a second healthcare worker not only came down with Ebola, but traveled on commercial airline while potentially contagious.
Obama is learning firsthand of governmental incompetence and its inability to resolve complex managerial problems. However, instead of realizing that special interest and the bloated size of government is the center of the problem, Obama added yet another layer of management, naming Ron Klain the Ebola Czar. In addition, Klain is a political operative and former aide to VP Joe Biden.
While Obama expressed frustration with the government’s response to the Ebola problem in his cabinet meeting, he offered a different tune to the public stating: “We have the infrastructure in place to respond safely and effectively.” This dichotomy demonstrated yet another failing of government; the truth.
President Obama is correct that the Ebola miscues by government is in part caused by poor management. Unlike in the private sector, those responsible for these miscues are still on the job collecting full salaries. Instead of adding yet another layer of management, the President should have fired the incompetents and streamlined the managerial process. The President’s misguided approach shows yet another reason why government fail so often: lack of accountability.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: CDC, Czar, Ebola, klain, Obama | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 2, 2014
Yesterday was dynamic for former Secret Service Director Julian Pierson. In the morning Obama’s press secretary announced that the President had full confidence in Ms. Pierson going forward. A few hours later her resignation was accepted with her immediate dismissal, even before a replacement was hired. This is another sign of the disorganization within team Obama.
The day before Pierson resigned she was grilled at a congressional hearing by representative Trey Gowdy, as included in the video below. The exchange showed Pierson’s inability to respond coherently to even the simplest questions. While there is no doubt that Pierson was incompetent and ill-equipped for the position, the bigger question is who interviewed and hired her in the first place. That individual should be following Pearson out the door.
Americans are becoming numb to the many scandals that have hit the Obama administration. One or two scandals can be attributed to human error. The sheer numbers that occurred under this administration is hard to fathom and include: 1) Solyndra (DOE), 2) Fast and Furious (DOJ), 3) Benghazi cover-up (State Department), 4) targeting Americans for their political views (IRS), 5) obstructing freedom of the press targeting AP and Fox reporters (DOJ), 6) $800,000 taxpayer bill for a party in Las Vegas for government workers (GSA), 7) $6 million taxpayer funds blown on two Florida conferences (VA), 8) botched Obamacare rollout (HHS), 9) veterans not receiving required medical treatment due to employee cover-ups (VA), etc.
Progressives who believe in big government are being forced into a dilemma by the incompetence of President Obama, the most liberal and activist president in generations. There are only two reasonable explanations for the extraordinary governmental gaffs of the past six years. Either the man they voted in for hope and change is totally incompetent or government itself has grown to the point that it can no longer serve the people, but instead serves its own needs and greed. Truth resides in a combination of both issues.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: Gowdy, Obama, Pierson, Secret Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 30, 2014
The New York Times reported that the recent breach of White House security was much more serious than initially reported. The armed intruder, 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez, jumped the White House fence. Initial Secret Service reports indicated that Gonzalez, who had a knife, did not enter the White House itself. This was false.
According to a recent report by The Washington Post, the intruder actually breached the White House running through the ceremonial East room, before being tackled by Secret Service agents. González incredibly ran past the staircase leading to the Obama family’s quarters.
This Secret Service failing is problematic on its face. However, it also plays into the broader narrative of governmental incompetence. Here is an agency with nearly unlimited budget whose main duty is to protect the President of the United States and his family, which they failed at with this low level attack. In addition, the Secret Service’s initial reports on the breach was false and meant to mislead those they serve, the People, in order to cover up their own incompetence.
Virginia Democratic representative, Gerald Connolly, said of this incompetence: “It’s an astounding set of facts. It just boggles the imagination and is deeply destabilizing in terms of public confidence in the Secret Service and how it is carrying out its mission.” Welcome to the real world Mr. Connolly. Washington’s incompetence no longer amazes those of us from the real world. As the saying goes, these guys would have trouble arranging a three car funeral.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: breach, Gonzalez, intruder, Secret Service, White House | Leave a Comment »