Hey, It’s Not Our Money, It’s Theirs

From Bob Livingston at Personal Liberty:

Recent news-making events demonstrate that the rot infesting the cesspool that is Washington, D.C., can no longer be contained. The rot is noxious, pervasive, knows no political party and infests all it touches.

The recent events include the scandalous excesses of the General Services Administration junkets — on which even the bureaucrats’ spouses traveled, partied, wined and dined on the taxpayers’ dimes — and the Secret Service’s drunken whoring with Colombian prostitutes.

These events contain a common thread: Federal government employees who understand that in the United States, money does indeed grow on trees (or at least in Federal Reserve computers). They view the American taxpayer as a bottomless pit. They have come to think of themselves as a privileged class and believe rules of decorum and normal conduct do not apply to them.

This is not a new thing; it has been occurring — at the GSA at least — for about 40 years. As lawmakers grilled GSA officials last week, they learned that GSA employees have repeatedly taken financial kickbacks, engaged in insider dealing and suffered from general incompetence. It’s a pattern that dates back to the 1970s.

It’s also increasingly apparent that the rot is not confined to the Federal government. More than 100 workers in the city government of Washington, D.C., received jobless benefits totaling at least $800,000 while still working for the city. Ninety-two workers implicated in the scheme were suspended (61 of those were subsequently fired), and 40 more workers who left the city’s employment before the scandal broke have been identified. Another 100 workers are being investigated.

Federal bureaucrats and elected elites owe $1 billion in back taxes for 2010. Some of them are people who set or enforce tax policy on the rest of us. Remember that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner did not pay taxes for the years 2001-2004 until the issue came up as he was being vetted for Senate confirmation. Obviously, Senators did not care.

Nor did Congress care that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) flew home and back on weekends at a cost of $120,000 per trip. That’s almost four times as much as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spends to go home to Carmel Valley nearly every weekend. They are not the only ones who have done this or are doing it. At least Panetta says he regrets the cost (not that he’s stopping the practice).

Neither the criminal political class in Congress (criminalongress?) nor President Barack Obama, the Redistributionist-In-Chief (RIC), speak of making any meaningful cuts in government spending. Under Obama’s recently introduced budget, Federal spending would increase by 55 percent from 2012 to 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Under Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget, Federal spending will increase 34 percent.

In other words, when members of the political class speak of “cuts” what they’re talking about is reducing the amount of year-to-year increases. They never cut anything.

Yet bearing down on America like a Category 5 hurricane is taxmageddon. It will make landfall on Dec. 31 unless a lame duck Congress and President (whether Obama is re-elected or defeated will not matter) can reach some kind of agreement.

What is taxmageddon? It’s a combination of expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts and the implementation of new Obamacare taxes. The marriage penalty for joint filers will return, the child credit will drop in half and the rate everyone pays on the first $8,700 of wages jumps from 10 percent to 15 percent. The Social Security payroll tax will go from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. Obamacare-mandated Medicare taxes will also rise.

There is little comfort to be found in the knowledge that the criminalongress and RIC will tackle the tax issue in a lame duck session following the November election. They will be unfettered by political considerations: Obama because regardless of November’s outcome he will never again be seeking election, and members of criminalongress because elections will be more than two years away for those who won. They will count on voters’ short memories. Those who lost will be attempting to win favor with the corporatocracy: those large fascist corporations that snatch up former lawmakers and pay them exorbitant salaries to lobby their former peers for special favors, tax breaks and government contracts.

Meanwhile, criminalongress will engage in political theater sleight of hand in an attempt to distract you from their own corruption. Criminalongress engages in insider trading, earmarks bills to benefit favored constituencies, take kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions from companies it supposedly oversees and regulates, cedes its authority to faceless and unelected bureaucrats at dozens of unConstitutional alphabet soup agencies, and dishonors the oath to “support and defend” the Constitution by allowing the Imperial President to wage unConstitutional war and set spending policy without Congressional approval.

Other than that, we are in great shape.

A Democracy Held Captive

The U.S. government is trying to lift a travel ban on a number of American citizens who were forbidden from leaving Egypt earlier this week, reports Daniel Tovrov: of the International Business Times (IBT).

At least 10 Americans and Europeans, including the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, working with non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) in Egypt were barred from leaving the country after they tried to board a plane in the capital.

“We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Thursday.

Ah, the U.S. State Department. A collection of silver tongued orators that couldn’t talk their way out of a paper bag. Maybe if they “Stongly Urged” the Egyptians, the radicals in charge would free the captives, or hostages.

Yes, I said captives, hostages. They are being held against their will. What would you call them?

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. It is, however, all too predictable.

In December, security forces of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) raided NGO
offices and confiscated files, computers and cash. They took the cash too?

“Officials in Washington, Berlin and London expressed alarm and dismay that democracy-building organizations would be subject to search and seizure, especially by a regime that receives so much Western military and economic aid,” The National Interest magazine said.

Do these Egg-Heads in Washington, Berlin & London not see the Egyptian leaders are not interested in “democracy building”? That was a rhetorical question. Are they all so insulated from the real world so as to not realize what is transpiring right in front of them? Another rhetorical question. Sorry.

In total, the U.S. sends more aid to Egypt than any other country except Israel. We’ve also equipped them with fighter jets, tanks, helicopters, surveillance aircrafts and anti-aircraft missiles.

So this is what we get for all the billions of dollars we’ve thrown away on the burgeoning “democracy” in Egypt. Harken back to the “Arab Spring”. The glorious freedom movement. Those were the days. Who could have predicted it would unfold this way? Oh, wait. Lots of us predicted just this!

Some of us didn’t. In February, 2011, Charles Krauthammer wrote,
“Who doesn’t love a democratic revolution? Who is not moved by the renunciation of fear and the reclamation of dignity in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria? … “The Egyptian awakening carries promise and hope and of course merits our support.”

Bill Kristol also writes in Feb. 2011, “The United States…has a paramount moral and strategic interest in real democracy in Egypt and freedom for the Egyptian people.”

At the same time they were crafting those sage words, they were deriding skeptics like Glenn Beck, many others, and me who were convinced it would unfold about as it has thus far.

Here is how the grand democratic experiment is taking shape thus far in the land of the Pharohs.

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which represents Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has won 47 per cent of all seats in the country’s election for the lower house of parliament.

Freedom & Justice
Party? You’re kidding, right? More like the Freedom from Justice Party.

The hard-line Islamist Salafi al-Nour party has won 24 per cent of all seats.

The FJP has named Saad al-Katatni, a leading Muslim Brotherhood official, as speaker of the assembly.

Radical fundamentalists will now occupy a total of 71% of Parliament seats. Oh good.

Ten seats were reserved for appointees of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military council that has been ruling Egypt since Mubarak fell.

“This parliament, that has its opening session on Monday, has very limited powers,” reported Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros from Cairo, the Egyptian capital.
“The most important thing that it will be doing in the coming weeks and months is setting up a 100-member body that will then write the constitution.”

I can’t wait to see that. DEMOCRACY RULES! Right.

Attribution: Aljazeera, International Business Times