Category Archives: Incompetent Elected Officials

Whose Lie Was More Newsworthy, Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Regarding His Imaginary Mugging In Rio, Or The Obama Administration’s Regarding Paying Ransom To Iran? [UPDATED]

U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question as he and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

News Item #1:

The story that Ryan Lochte told four days ago was frightening and detailed, the Olympic gold medalist recalling a late-night robbery and a pistol pressed against his head. On Thursday, Brazilian authorities presented evidence they say contradicts that account and could turn what at first had been a deeply embarrassing incident for the Summer Games’ host country into a different kind of international incident.

The head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, Fernando Veloso, said the version of the events told by Lochte and three U.S. swimming teammates was fabricated. The athletes, he said, damaged a gas station bathroom early Sunday morning and were involved in a confrontation with armed security before paying about $50 to resolve the matter.

“We can confirm that there was no robbery as they described, and they were not victims as they presented themselves,” Veloso told a packed news conference, alleging the athletes had given “a fantastical version of events.”

News Item #2:

The State Department conceded for the first time on Thursday that it delayed making a $400 million payment to Iran for several hours in January “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day.

For months the Obama administration had maintained that the payment was part of a settlement over an old dispute and did not amount to a “ransom” for the release of the Americans. Instead, administration officials said, it was the first installment of the $1.7 billion that the United States intends to pay Iran to reimburse it for military equipment it bought before the Iranian revolution that the United States never delivered.

But at a briefing on Thursday, John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said the United States “took advantage of the leverage” it felt it had that weekend in mid-January to obtain the release of the hostages and “to make sure they got out safely and efficiently.”

There is little doubt as to which of the two lies the U.S. public is being informed about most thoroughly today: It’s #1. After all, Ryan Lochte is a reality TV star, and a celebrity, and an athlete, and this is the Olympics! Up close and personal! Bread! Circuses!

The second story? Meh.What’s the big deal? So the Obama Administration paid ransom for hostages, endangering U.S. citizens all over the world, and repeatedly lied to the press and the public about it over the past two week, issuing unequivocal denials that the 400 million dollar payment and the hostage release were related in any way. So what?

On CNN this morning, the stupid, stupid, stupid story about how a group of boorish Olympic athletes (‘USA! USA!”) peed on the walls of a Rio bathroom and made up a robbery —at gun point!—story to cover up their vandalism was the subject of a full panel discussion. If the Obama version of Iran-Contra was covered at all, it wasn’t in the hour I saw.

Google News search, “Ryan Lochte”…nearly 10 million results.

Google News search, “Iran ransom”…about 220,000 results. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Wait, I’m Confused: I Thought Racial Segregation Was BAD….”

america-flag-damaged

I have been writing for some time that the most disappointing and damaging failure of Barack Obama’s leadership has been the marked deterioration in racial trust, respect and communication during his administration. I raised the alarm regarding trends that began making themselves evident during the 2008 campaign, before Obama was elected. The use of race-baiting to silence political adversaries and critics. The shift of the news media, in its efforts to get the first black President elected, pound on racial fault lines while openly dismissing John McCain, a decent man, as old and white, and therefore irrelevant. Obama’s close ties to the racist Rev. Wright, and his self-evidently disingenuous denials that his “spiritual advisor’s” bigotry had any effect on his own views about America raised additional suspicions. After Obama’s election, his overtly and intentionally racialist Justice Department repeatedly signaled that racial neutrality was not a goal, with predictable resentment following from many white citizens, as it should have. The tactic of tarring his critics as motivated by racism continued, with the tea party, conservatives and Republicans being routinely compared to racists for levels of critical rhetoric that were neither excessive nor undeserved.

Then came Obama’s disastrous comments on the Trayvon Martin killing, as he chose to take sides as an angry family, race hucksters and an irresponsible press claimed that white men with guns were stalking and hunting down young black men and “children” like Trayvon because they were black. Obama, who had run for election on the promise of healing divisions, had through his leadership incompetence—no, I do not believe he intended to tear the nation apart along racial lines–sent race relations hurtling backward. So much societal carnage has resulted, including the cataclysmic candidacy of Donald Trump, the rise of Black Lives Matter,  and a frightening explosion of anti-white racism and advocacy for segregation on college campuses. That this has happened during Obama’s Presidency, of all Presidents, is nothing less than a tragedy.

Naturally, the liberal mainstream media adamantly refuses to confront this, even after manifestly absurd statements by Obama that he believes race-relations have improved. Conservative critics, for their part, have no credibility on the topic, since they are presumed to be blind to Obama’s virtues. They are also too gleeful about the President’s failure; for example, conservative pundit Glenn Reynolds posts this old tweet routinely…

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…it’s mordantly amusing in its irony, but still not funny. Again, this is tragic.

Many readers here, including African Americans and Obama supporters, vehemently object to my assessment, which is undeniable on the facts and impossible to rebut. After a recent post, “Wait, I’m Confused: I Thought Racial Segregation Was BAD….”,  about black activists demanding campus spaces that are “safe” from whites while enabling, guilt-racked white administrators give such racist arguments legitimacy that would never be tolerated were the colors reversed, commenter Zoltar Speaks! authored this Comment of the Day in response to a protest by another veteran reader.

Here it is:

I’ve heard some of my nearly life-long black friends opinions shift in dramatic ways that I never would have expected, and it’s all happened since Obama was elected President. The change in attitude and rhetoric has been absolutely astounding. I think I’ve had no less than a dozen of my black friends unfriend me on Facebook for reasons that they never would have 10-15 years ago, and some others have just ceased to communicate. Some of these people have been friends from 25 to nearly 50 years – yup long before Facebook and computers when people had real face-to-face conversations and shared our lives offline. I still consider these people to be my friends and I miss their company, but some of them have built impenetrable walls between us and gone to a very dark place – racism is a very, very dark place.

Continue reading

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Why Dan Pabon’s DUI Stop Matters To Everyone, And Why He Must Resign

Pabon Apology

Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon (D. North Denver) was considered a rising political star. Among his well-publicized public policy triumphs was to  help pass a law forcing convicted drunk drivers to appear before a DUI victim-impact panel.

Then Pabon himself was pulled over in his vehicle on St. Patrick’s Day evening for driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead of Pabon accepting his fate as an honest lawyer and elected official should, the video of the stop shows the legislator trying to persuade the officer who stopped him not to make the  arrest. He tells the officer that he is a state representative who is driving a car without his legislative plates. He asks the officer to call a supervisor or the city attorney so they can direct the officer to give him mulligan. When Officer Brian Bienemann explains that he cannot let Pabon off and indeed would be subject to discipline if he did,  Pabon pleads,  “Is there any way we can avoid this possibility? This is going to change my life.”

After Pabon pleaded guilty and gave an emotional apology (above) to the public and the legislature, saying  “I have taken full responsibility. I have done everything above board,” the editors of The Denver Post begged to disagree. They called for his resignation in an edotorial. They were correct, but they weren’t clear enough about why.

The Post was upset that Pabon didn’t specifically apologize for trying to use abuse his position and power to avoid legal accountability for a serious violation of the law, even after the video of the stop was leaked to the news media. Of course he didn’t. Like most current elected officials, he didn’t see anything wrong with that. Don’t they deserve special consideration and privileges?

There can be no sufficient apology for what Pabon did. Elected officials and other government personnel must not view themselves as deserving special immunity from the laws and regulations they impose on society. Pabon’s attitude and attempt to play the “Do you know who I am?” card is poison to democracy, and exactly the kind of “fix” Donald Trump’s speech last night correctly condemned.

The public sees a Secretary of State expose sensitive information to discovery by the enemies of the United States, and not only is she not punished, she is selected to run for President. The public sees HUD Secretary Julian Castro blatantly violate the Hatch Act, combining an official appearance with campaigning for Clinton, and  then learns that the President will not discipline Castro in any way. Casrto is also considered a “rising political star.” A nation in which individuals who break the law are still considered “rising stars” and prospects for national leadership has its values in a tangle. Continue reading

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Ethics Dilemma: What Do You Do With Steve King?

Steve King

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) is an infamous loose cannon, as well as being Cro-Magnon in his politics. He is prone to misstatements, colorful hyperbole and utter nonsense. There are head-scratching lists all over the web of his “greatest hits.”  Once, for example, he suggested that “For every time we give amnesty to an illegal immigrant, we would just deport a liberal.” OK, that was tongue in cheek (I hope), if hardly helpful to the cause of mutual respect and comity, but this probably wasn’t:

“If there is a sexual predator out there who has impregnated a young girl. Say a thirteen year old girl; and it happens in America more times than you and I would like to think. That sexual predator could pick that girl up off the playground at the middle school and haul her across the state line and force her to get an abortion to irradiate the evidence of his crime and bring her back and drop her off at the swing set and that’s not against the law in the United States of America.”

Actually, that would violate a number of laws, but never mind: Rep. King is an ultra-conservative idiot, and “the Julie Principle” applies: fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly.” If the good people of Iowa want someone like this to be one of their voices in the House, so be it, but don’t expect me to eat as much corn as I might otherwise.  Unfortunately, though, elected officials whose minds and tongues are not well connected to each other and who lack ethics alarms as well eventually get themselves into real trouble, unless they are nominated as the Republican candidate for President, like Steve King’s favorite orange tycoon.

The cock finally crowed for Steve King this week when, appearing on MSNBC  (which loves to book really stupid Republicans and conservatives because it makes all Republicans and conservatives look as stupid as MSNBC’s audience thinks they are) leftist pundit Charles Pierce engaged in typical ageist, racist-baiting that good progressives think is perfectly fine. He sneered about “old white people” controlling the  GOP and said that Republican convention was filled with “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

Naturally, Steve King saw this as his signal to embrace white supremacy, saying..

“This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”

Excellent timing, Congressman! Here is the nation on the verge of racial conflict, with police being targeting for death and afraid to police, while the black community is being convinced that a white justice system is biased against them, and you start talking like a Grand Dragon on national TV. Continue reading

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To Be Fair To Incompetent Elected Official Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), His Nemesis, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla) Is Incompetent Too.

Incompetence and idiocy in Congress is a bi-partisan ethics problem.

Rep. Louie Gohmert and Rep. Corrine Brown reportedly almost came to blows during last month’s cynical Democratic “sit-in” demanding that Sen. Susan Collins’ anti-Due Process, anti-Fifth Amendment, pre-crime “We have to DO something!” gun bill get a vote in the House despite being, you know, unconstitutional and totalitarian. Gohmert and Brown were screaming at each other and had to be separated.

Gohmert has proven himself to be an idiot, and idiots do not make competent members of Congress. To be fair, however, Brown is as least as big an idiot, and may be a crook as well.

Brown was charged with 24 counts of fraud late last week based on an investigation that found her and her Congressional staff using a college scholarship fund as “a personal slush fund.”  Federal prosecutors allege that the Congresswomen and her chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, used her position and office to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the fake charity.

Brown’s jaw-dropping response? This:

“These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of [shooter Omar Mateen], and we ended up with 50 people dead,” Brown said. Having made that ridiculous rationalization-soaked diversion official (they aren’t the same agents, by the way), she moved on to playing the race card, the default defense of all unethical African-American officials.

But first I should mention that the rationalizations behind Brown’s diversionary  non-explanation are…

22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse or “There are worse things.”

26. “The Favorite Child” Excuse (“Why are you punishing her when there are people more deserving of punishment?“)

54. The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!”

On her blog, Brown attributed the indictment to racism and had the gall to compare her fate to those of the two men recently killed in police shootings as well as the assassinated Dallas police officers, writing in her blog,

“Two black men were needlessly gunned down by police; five Dallas police officers were slain by a demented man, and on Friday I had to appear in federal court. I’m not the first black elected official to be persecuted and, sad to say, I won’t be the last.” 

OK, I’m ready to call it! She’s even worse the Louie. Nevertheless, a battle between the two would have been the Godzilla vs. Mothra of incompetent elected officials. Two bad they didn’t just let these twin embarrassments to the Congress go at it.

 

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

I know this is like shooting fish in a barrel—dead fish, in fact— but I need some levity about now. Of course it’s no joke, and indeed tragic, that a certifiable fanatic like Gohmert can reach a position of influence in our government, and a greater tragedy that there are so many equally unfit officials, from both parties. Few, however, are willing or able to expose their cognitive deficiencies as deftly as Congressman Gohmert.

When a gay, progressive friend posted the story about this, I assumed that he had been caught (again) in a web hoax. Surely Gohmert isn’t THAT stupid. Nobody is that stupid in Congress, surely. Yet he is, and the story was correct and true.

This happened a while back, during the “general speeches” portion of House proceedings on May 26, 2016. It was little noted, because if it had been, I would hope that GOP leaders would have placed him in a padded room and denied him the opportunity to ever speak for the party again.

Here, in part, was Gohmert’s anti-gay, science fiction rant (the video of his whole speech is above): Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Day: Ann Althouse

politifact_photos_Obama_speaking_in_Poland

Why is racial discord the problem of the summer 2016? If anyone has what it takes to unify the country over race it is Barack Obama, who is President right now and who had been President for 7 1/2 years. If it makes any sense to be deciding the current presidential election on this issue, if this longed-for capacity is something that can possibly exist, then Barack Obama would be doing it now and would have been doing it for years.

Before you push us to judge whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would do better in bringing us together in racial harmony, Mr. Healy, please say a few words about why President Obama has failed. Of course, neither Clinton nor Trump inspires hope for a new opportunity at racial harmony. That’s what Obama did in 2008. He was ideal for that issue and we voted for the hope. Now, so many years later, things seem even worse. Can you analyze how that happened? Because that did happen. I don’t see how we can begin to think about what more Trump or Clinton could do unless we understand why President Obama failed.

—–Law professor Ann Althouse, on her blog, responding to an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Pat Healy bemoaning the inability of either Trump of Clinton to respond to the Dallas shootings in a manner that unifies rather than divides.

1. I admit it: sometimes I look for other commentators who have discerned what I have discerned and use their quotes to state what I would normally be writing myself. Althouse is a left-leaning eccentric moderate who is not overtly political, and who is skilled at overcoming her own biases. She voted for Obama (at least once), and she plies her craft as a law professor in Madison, Wisconsin, as progressive a community as there is. I have found Obama’s leadership ability and Presidential performance wanting in almost all respects since early in his administration and have explained my analysis here.  The price I pay for this is that those who are in denial over what should be obvious (though terribly disappointing and sad) feel that my consistent  criticism gives them the opportunity to mask their denial by  labeling me an Obama-hater, a partisan (as if I wouldn’t be equally critical of an incompetent Republican President with a flat learning curve) and even a racist. A quote like Althouse’s is not so much an appeal to authority—I disagree with Professor Althouse a lot, though not her dislike of men wearing shorts—but choosing to allow someone else to say well what I may not have said any better, and to prove that I’m not the only one coming to such conclusions.

2. The President’s comments on the shooting deaths of officer-involved deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota were irresponsible, inflammatory, and typical of his approach to race relations from the very beginning, when he stuck his influential nose into a controversy between a competent white Cambridge police officer and a race-baiting black Harvard professor. Then, without knowing any of the underlying facts, he suggested that the white police officer was at fault and the black professor (a friend of his) was blameless. His remarks about the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota issued from the same bias. I’ll just comment on the beginning of his statement, which is enough to make the point: Continue reading

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