Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 16, 2016
Townhall.com reported on a story that should bring chills down any American’s spine, irrespective of their political views. In congressional testimony earlier this year, Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch stated that the Justice Department (DOJ) is considering punishment for some including academics and others in the fossil fuel industry for denying climate change.
Irrespective of where one comes down on the climate change discussion, we should all be outraged by the DOJ even considering such outrageous action. Sacrosanct to what is America is the Constitution and freedom of speech. For the DOJ to use intimidation and possibly the law to stifle free speech is not only illegal, but the start of a slippery slope that is reminiscent of actions of totalitarian governments. Governments that attempt to control the thoughts of its citizens have often become enemies of the citizens. The results are often ugly.
A few centuries ago the then “powers to be” persecuted those who did not believe the earth was flat. The US Department of Justice is now one of the “powers to be”. History repeats itself.
Posted in Political Correctness | Tagged: AG, Climate Change, department of justice, DOJ, Lynch, punishment | Leave a Comment »
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 August 21, 2014
The Wall Street Journal reported that mega-bank, Bank of America, has agreed to pay a $17 billion fine for its role in the mortgage crisis that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. This is only a piece of the nearly $60 billion the bank paid during the last five years to settle legal problems.
Those who cheer the huge Bank of America fine are missing the larger picture. Certainly many banks used dubious tactics and business practices that help lead to the 2008 economic meltdown. However, willing partners included the US government that pressured banks into giving mortgages to individuals who could not afford them, and the Federal Reserve whose easy money policies were major factors in creating the housing bubble. These issues, along with banker greed and borrowers, were significant factors in creating the bubble and subsequent meltdown.
How did the government respond to those largely responsible for creating economic calamity? First they bailed out large banks and other companies. Then they bailed out some individuals who borrowed too much money.
Perhaps the biggest problem relating to the huge monetary settlements between large banks and the Department of Justice is that the penalties are not placed on the perpetrators of wrongdoing. No executive or bank employee has been charged criminally by the DOJ. This is not by accident. Further, the current fines will be paid by shareholders including pension funds who had nothing to do with creating the problem.
The Department of Justice understands the misplaced logic behind the large penalties imposed on banks today. However, this populist action not only protects those in the private sector responsible for the bad behavior, but deflects attention from the government’s own role in creating the economic problems.
Posted in Bailouts, Banks | Tagged: Bank of America, Banks, DOJ, Fed, fine, Government | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 11, 2012
CNNMoney has reported on a giant stettlement between HSBC bank and the United States government. According to the report, HSBC will pay a fine of $1.92 billion for infractions that include money laundering for drug cartels and violation of other US laws for doing business with the likes of rouge nations Iran and Libya.
The DOJ/HSBC settlement adds to a growing list of banks that have paid fines relating to illegal banking activities. This includes:
Standard Chartered – Paid over $320 million to settle similar money laundering charges.
ING – Paid over a $610 million for illegally serving Cuban and Iran.
Wachovia Bank – Paid $160 million relating to laundering money for the Mexican drug cartel.
Credit Suisse – paid over $530 million concerning its business with Iran and others.
While $1.92 billion settlement is large, it is only a bit more than 10% of HSBC’s 2011 total profits. In announcing the HSBC settlement, N.Y. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said: “HSBC is being held accountable for stunning failures of oversight. The record of dysfunction that prevailed at HSBC for many years was astonishing.” This suggestion is nonsense. The perpetrators of the illegal acts are not being held accountable. While the HSBC shareholders pay a rather trivial fine, the individuals who broke US laws are neither being personally fined nor criminally prosecuted. Until such appropriate criminal actions are taken, executives of these banks will continue to flaunt American law
There is an incestuous relationship between governments and large international banks. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the American government and others justified bailing out mega banks with the claim that “they are too big to fail.” The implication was that should these banks fail, greater economic calamities will result for society. This logic must be questioned given the fact that those large banks have been allowed to become substantially larger in the past four years. The government’s more recent settlements with the same large banks over illegal practices support this incestuous theory.
Posted in Banks | Tagged: Banks, department of justice, DOJ, HSBC | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 21, 2012
United States Department of Justice is attacking various states on the issue of voter ID. One of the states, Texas, has been taken to court in Washington DC. Pjmedia.com reported that a DOJ witness, 18-year-old Victoria Rose Rodriguez, testified that her parents were too busy to take her to get the new voter ID cards that Texas requires.
Let’s see, her parents were too busy to take her a few miles to obtain a voter ID card, but not too busy to get Rodriguez from Texas to Washington and back. These folks must think that the American people have stupid written across their forehead!
The Left’s clamoring concerning the voter ID issue is a red herring. Photo IDs are required to get on airplanes, to cash checks and yes to get into the Democrat convention. This is not about ensuring the rights of minorities. This is about voter fraud. Obama and his team learned well in Chicago were the adage is “vote early and vote often”.
Posted in Voting | Tagged: department of justice, DOJ, Texas, voter ID | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 7, 2010
Through a combination of political correctness and the absence of an independent press the Obama Administration is marching down a path of trampling on individual rights. One manifestation is the Administration’s desire to have access to emails without the need for going to the judicial system for search warrants. Sounds like the Bush Administration? You bet. This group in Washington could teach Bush and Chaney a thing or two about trampling rights.
CNET has reported on an issue that should concern all Americans. In a Colorado court Yahoo is fighting the government’s attempt to obtain user emails without the need for search warrants. It has been joined by a coalition that includes Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, and TRUSTe in its battle with the US Department of Justice.
In a brief filed in April the coalition stated that a search warrant signed by a judge should be required for the FBI or other police agency to read contents of Yahoo Mail messages. Their position is that users who store emails on the Internet should have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The Obama Administrating disagrees with Yahoo’s position. They argue that federal law requires search warrants only for messages in “electronic storage” that are less than 181 days old. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pegeen Rhyne in the government’s brief stated that Yahoo Mail doesn’t meet the definition, specifically that “Previously opened e-mail is not in ‘electronic storage.” Had Bush and Chaney come up with the Obama Administration’s position on this issue the screams from the Left and press would have been ear-shattering.
This week President Obama expressed outrage at a new Arizona law that allows State law enforcement to insure that people stopped for reasonable cause were not in the country illegally. Given Obama’s willingness to trample on the rights of all Americans through email spying his expressed outrage at the Arizona law is clearly political. Obviously Progressives believe trampling on individual rights to further goals is justified. Conversely, should illegals be sent back to their countries for begin illegal the pool of Left-leaning voters may shrink.
As for the press, is has been eerily quiet on the email privacy rights issue. That is most likely related to the profit motive, rather than politics. They see the government’s attempt to stifle Internet freedom as a way to protect their own outdated business model. Just follow the money.
Posted in Constitution, Governmental Intervention, Internet, Privacy Rights | Tagged: Arizona, Bush, Center for Democracy and Technology, Chaney, CNET, Colorodo, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Constitution, DOJ, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Emails, Illegal Aliens, Internet, Justice Department, left, Obama, Pegeen Rhyne, Press, Progress and Freedom Foundation, Progressives, Rights, TRUSTe, Yahoo, Yahoo Mail | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 21, 2009
The citizens of the small town of Kinston, North Carolina voted last year to do away with party affiliation for candidates in local elections, a common practice in North Carolina. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) overturned the voters’ decision using rather perverse logic. In a letter to the city, Ms Loretta King, then acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division wrote:
“Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office,” and further stated: “the limited remaining support from white voters for a black Democratic candidate will diminish even more.”
It seems that Ms. King is indicated that Kinston residence will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Eric Holder, Racism | Tagged: Civil Rights Act, Democrats, DOJ, Election Day, Eric Holder, Justice Department, Kinston, Loretta King, New Black Panther Party, North Carolina, Obama, Racism, Republicans, Voting Rights Act | Leave a Comment »