Cronyism at the Army Human Terrain System program

Human Terrain SystemNothing is sacred in Washington these days even when it comes to the U.S. military. The Army’s Human Terrain System program is one such program that has not been benefited by the crony capitalism of the Obama administration.

The program was proposed in 2005 and started in 2007. The Human Terrain System program employs personnel from the social science disciplines, such as anthropologysociologypolitical science, regional studies and linguistics, to provide military commanders and staff with an understanding of the local population.

Initially, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command deployed five HTS teams in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has grown to 31 deployed teams and a $150 million annual budget. In 2010, the Army made HTS a permanent program.

The HTS program has been surrounded by controversy since its inception with criticism from academia,  journalists, military officials and HTS personnel and former personnel.

Most notably, on 31 October 2007, the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) published a statement opposing HTS as an “unacceptable application of anthropological expertise” that conflicted with the AAA’s Code of Ethics.

Enter the Obama administration in January 2009. The administration contracted with CGI Federal to turnaround the program. If you recognize that name you should. CGI Federal, the U.S. arm of the Canadian CGI Group, is the company that designed of the failed Obamacare website.

It is also well-connected with Michelle Obama’s former Princeton classmate and Christmas guest Toni Townes-Whitley as a top executive. They received eight figures from the Army in 2013 for the project, records reveal.

Oberon Associates, a CGI Federal subsidiary that joined the CGI portfolio in 2010, earned the $227 million contract to run HTS in 2011 in a deal that insiders said reeked of cronyism due to former HTS director Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s rumored friendship with an Oberon co-founder.

The HTS contract was one of CGI’s first big contracts in the United States since CGI Federal was only formed to bring the CGI Group into the federal contracting business in 2009. CGI Federal received a more than $45.5 million modification this year to continue work on the Human Terrain System.

“They took over in 2011. There were high hopes that CGI Federal could turn it around, but there’s a hearing going on now into fraud, waste and abuse,” John Stanton, author of “General David Petraeus’ Favorite Mushroom: Inside the US Army’s Human Terrain System,” told The Daily Caller.

“Many troops were injured defending Human Terrain system academics,” Stanton said. ”I was just kind of stunned to see CGI Federal running that [Obamacare] website. To me, it’s an example of bad contracting and bad government oversight.”

HTS team members were found to have engaged in instances of fraud, sexual harassment and racism in 2009 and 2010, prior to CGI’s takeover, according to recently released documents.

CGI’s management of the program failed to sufficiently turn things around, with Stanton noting that the problematic behavior continued.

“The HTS reduction is long overdue and it’s good to see the Army take this initial action to downsize the program,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter of the House Armed Services Committee in 2013. “The program definitely requires an even closer look for reasons pertaining to both past performance and future necessity.”

Government waste, fraud and abuse is everywhere, inflating the cost of government throughout the system. Like whack-a-mole as soon as one program is downsized another starts sucking our tax dollars.

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California’s High Speed Rail slowed to a crawl

California HSRThe California High Speed Rail has hit several more snags due to two court rulings by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny on November 25.

“The Judge’s ruling will prevent the [California High-Speed Rail] Authority from spending bond measure funds for construction until the funding plan is brought into compliance,” said Michael Brady co- lead attorney on the case.

But because that would require finding at least $25 billion in extra funds, Brady believes compliance seems “virtually impossible.” “They need to step back and rethink their whole approach,” added co-lead attorney Stuart Flashman.

The Authority’s Chairman, Dan Richard, tried to cast the Court decision in a more positive light. “The judge did not invalidate the bonds as approved by the voters,” he said. “Like all transformative projects, we understand that there will be many challenges that will be addressed as we go forward in building the nation’s first high-speed rail system.”

We’ve written about this expensive boondoggle that has been supported by the Obama administration. We wrote about it here, here and here. California has plowed forward with this $68 billion boondoggle that goes nowhere.

The litigation has gone on for over two years when two aggrieved individuals, farmer John Tos and homeowner Aaron Fukuda joined Kings County Board of Supervisors in filing a lawsuit asserting that the Authority failed to comply with certain statutory requirements in its 2011 funding plan.

Judge Kenny ruled that the Authority failed to comply with the requirements of Proposition 1A in two fundamental respects:

(1)  It was unable to certify completion of all the environmental clearances for the 300-mile Initial Operating Segment (IOS) extending from Merced to San Fernando Valley. (To date, only a 29 mile stretch of initial construction from Merced to Fresno has been examined); and 
(2)  It was unable to identify “reasonably expected” sources of funds required to complete the Initial Operating Segment. 

Here’s where the Authority’s problems lie. The Authority estimate that the Initial Operating Segment will cost $31.5 billion to build. It currently has only about 20 percent of that sum or $6 billion. It’s funding consists is $3.25 million in federal funds and $2.7 million in Proposition 1A bond funds appropriated to match the federal funds.

The judge ruled that the Authority cannot “proceed to commit and spend Proposition 1A bond proceeds for construction or property acquisition” until it has complied with the requirements stated in his August 16 ruling.

In short, Judge Kenny has ordered the state of California to draft a new budget for the multibillion dollar project and prove there’s enough money to finish the job before it is started. What a new approach: have the money before you spend the money.

The only funding that California can spend is the $3 billion that the state received from Federal government. The $8 billion in state bond money cannot be accessed until the state fulfills the rulings’ requirements.

The state’s quest for a bullet train has been plagued by controversy and court decisions that have pushed the project years behind schedule, with Monday’s decision the latest setback. A groundbreaking set for this past summer never happened, and the latest time-frame forecasts a spring start.

 

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Bureaucrats in Paradise

St. CroixIt always seems that bureaucrats like to hold conferences and meetings in warm, sunny locations especially when it’s winter in the nation’s capital. You can almost hear them wondering why the Federal government is in a location where it is hot and humid in the summer and cold and wet in the winter.

Why couldn’t the capital be in Las Vegas or Orlando? After all we’re already gambling away the taxpayer’s money on money-wasting schemes like ObamaCare. And it always seems as if our bureaucrats are already in an amusement park, so why couldn’t the capital have been in the warmth?

It seems that our bureaucrats are blind to the public’s perception that they’re wasting money with their conferences. Earlier this month a group of Washington bureaucrats skipped out of town to hold a conference in beautiful St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Trust me, I’ve been there and it is beautiful.

They just happened to select the beachfront resort Buccaneer Hotel for their very important conference. This taxpayer-funded trip was taken in the name of protecting the coral reefs of the world and was sponsored by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. In the interest of security, their own from angry taxpayers, the total cost of the junket was not revealed.

We do know that they received a $73 meal per diem. The runs cost an average of $323 per night and the airfare from Washington ranges from $500 to $1,000. But as we said no total cost was revealed. These folks have been too many times with revelations about conferences.

Who can possibly forget the Government Services Administrations costly Las Vegas conferences that sparked Congressional hearings, suspensions, firing and retirements? Well no one because it was a long-running story in America’s media.

Bureaucrats from 11 different departments were needed to participate in a conference to save the coral reefs of the world. As a scuba diver who has dove the reefs off Grand Cayman the answers are simple.

Restrict boat traffic, especially cruise ships. They kick up the sand that smothers the reefs. Limit diving to certain endangered reefs is another way of preserving the natural beauty of the coral reefs.

Not to be too worried about the cost. The Interior Department pointed out that many of the participants to the coral reef conference also were there in conjunction with a meeting of the Caribbean Regional Planning Body. So it was a two-fer.

These people just don’t get it. When the country is $17 trillion in debt, unable to pass a budget and mired in the disaster of ObamaCare, it’s no time to vacation in the sun on the taxpayer’s dime.

 

 

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Is SolarCity the Next Solyndra?

Rooftop solar panelsIn recent days the spotlight has been turned on to SolarCity, a company that leases and maintains solar panels. Back in August Barron’s published an article Dark Clouds over SolarCity that reported that the solar panel company reported “fair market values” for its solar panels. This value is one that their government subsidy is based and its higher than the costs the company incurs to install the panels.

SolarCity claims to be the U.S. leader in leasing solar panels to homeowners, businesses and government organizations. They also say that they provide full-service solar power system design, financing, installation and monitoring services.

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in San Mateo, California, they operate in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Their business plan is simple. The company leases, installs and maintains solar panels. Consumers pay by the month and according to the company’s website it is a “more affordable alternative to your monthly utility bill.”

That’s the company line but once you delve a little deeper into their background their are a number of disconcerting facts that come to light. For one, the company has never made a profit in its seven years of operation.

How do they stay in business? Simple, they are the recipient of federal tax credits. Solar City receives government subsidies based on the value of their solar panels. The higher the value the greater the subsidy.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sent a letter on November 18th to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on November 18th questioning taxpayer-funded grants received by SolarCity.

“Over-inflating the cost of solar products is not only detrimental to the government, but to investors as well,” Sessions wrote in his letter. “Barron’s questioned whether SolarCity’s economic outlook or market value was adequately reflected through its stock prices, raising the question of whether its survival is reliant on political support, rather than investors’ belief in the company’s prospects.”

SolarCity is already under investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general, who is looking into whether the company may have misrepresented the fair market value of the solar systems it installed.

A review by Barron’s of 153,628 records from databases of solar contracts in California and Arizona showed SolarCity had repeatedly reported fair market values at higher rates than competitors.

The Internal Revenue Service is also auditing some of the company’s financing funds, which SolarCity depends upon to pay for panel installation.

Meanwhile, two of the company’s subsidiaries are suing the Treasury Department claiming that the amount of money the Treasury Department has been paying to the company is “less than the amount to which the plaintiffs are entitled.” This is almost unheard of. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

The company announced on November 21st that they were planning on offering bonds based on the value of their solar panels. The offering could be in the range of $200 million.

Meanwhile the company has incurred losses of $322 million since 2008. But never fear, among SolarCity Corp.’s biggest investors is Elon Musk, the high-profile donor and fundraiser. Musk co-founded PayPal.

His companies, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, have received at least $846 million in loans and startup money from the Obama administration. There seems to be a pipeline of money from this administration to companies run by Obama’s cronies.

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The DoD’s Accounting Mess

The Pentagon's Piggy BankFormer Defense Secretary Robert Gates once said: “My staff and I learned that it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to questions such as ‘How much money did you spend’ and ‘How many people do you have’?

Accounting systems may not be the most exciting topic that you can read about but when you’re talking about the Department of Defense it adds some spice to the subject.

The DoD spends over $650 billion on National Defense. Now, we’ve written about the DoD’s chain of hotels, their Department of Everything mindset and their proposal to fuel the Navy with “green” biofuels. All the while they’re wasting money by the billions.

But here’s their dirty little secret. Due to their lack of one cohesive accounting system, the DoD doesn’t even know how much money they’re spending or even wasting.

A report from Reuters claims that the Defense Department regularly fudges their numbers by billions of dollars, wasting huge amounts of money and equipment in the process. On top of this the DoD is the only agency that fails to conduct an annual audit of its finances.

According to former officials at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, workers routinely doctor thousands of blank, incomplete or incorrect spending documents in order to comply with Treasury records.

Officially called “unsubstantiated change actions”, unofficially “plugs”, the reconstructions come from all defense agencies and together add up to around ten billion per year, at least. A Pentagon report found $9.22 billion in “reconciling amounts” for 2012 alone.

“I don’t think they’re lying and cheating necessarily, but it’s not the right thing to do,” Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told Reuters. “We’ve got to fix the processes so we don’t have to do that.”

But fixing the process is no easy thing to do. By the Pentagon’s own estimate the department uses as many as 2,200 accounting systems. Others say it could be as many as an unbelievable 5,000 accounting systems. “It’s like if every electrical socket in the Pentagon had a different shape and voltage,” one official said.

Over the years the Pentagon has tried to correct the problem, mostly without success. The Air Force’s Expeditionary Combat Support System, was cancelled in late 2012 after seven years and a $1.03 billion price tag.

This woeful state of affairs has created problems in the purchasing of supplies and equipment. One such example of the purchasing mismanagement was the purchase of over 7,000 “vehicular control arms” for the front of their Humvees, despite having over 15,000 of them already in stock, a 14-year supply.

According to a DoD document provided to Congress, in 2012 alone the department had over $733 million in excess supplies and equipment. Often that equipment sits unused for decades until the government is forced to destroy it, again at cost to the taxpayers.

Besides the opportunity for wasteful purchasing, fraud is an issue. Without knowing how much is being spent, the Pentagon simply doesn’t know if contractors are overbilling for crucial goods and services.

A total of $573.3 billion dollars worth of contracts stretching back to 1996 have never been audited. Contractors could have effectively fleeced the government out of tens of billions without the DoD ever catching on.

In 2009 the Congress passed a bill that required the Pentagon to be audit-ready by 2017. Even though the Pentagon spends $10 billion a year for their accounting systems, experts told Reuters that they expect the Pentagon to miss this deadline as well.

 

 

 

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The Costs of ObamaCare

ObamacareWhoever said that no government program ever comes in at or under budget should get the Nobel Truth Prize. Anyone who expected the trainwreck called ObamaCare to come in on budget and on time needs to have their medication checked. Its time to count the cost of ObamaCare.

Now that it has become clear that the ObamaCare website will not be ready by November 30th, the Democrats are heading for the exits. They all seem to understand that it is a giant boat anchor dragging down their reelection chances.

Now they’re trying to save their phony-baloney jobs, at least the smart ones are. The kool-aid drinkers and true believers are ready to ride this disaster to oblivion, proving once again that some politicians are simply stupid.

Now it’s time to count the cost for this disaster and it doesn’t just include the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on a non-functioning website.

This misguided attempt to control healthcare costs has turned into a giant black hole for the country. If a large number of older people who generally need more services sign up and are not balanced by healthier younger workers then the costs will rise exponentially.

Why would that be, you might ask? Well, the spread-the-wealth Democrats who wrote this law outsmarted themselves and the American people. In order to attract all demographic segments to ObamaCare they rigged the premiums, charging healthier enrollees more and older, presumably unhealthier, people less.

Surprise, only the unhealthier are signing up while the younger people are taking a wait-and-see attitude. After all they can afford to wait since they use less healthcare services.

Meanwhile, just shy of six weeks to the end of 2013, over 4 million Americans have been told they are losing the insurance they thought would be secure. Many of them do not know whether after January 1 they will still have coverage, or what that coverage will look like.

Doctors and hospitals are in the dark about whether they or their patients will be able to participate in the exchanges. Some doctors are opting out altogether. Premiere institutions like Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai are running costly television and radio advertisements encouraging their patients to be sure their hospital is included in their coverage.

Changing the rules after the game has begun is fraught with all financial implications. Karen Ignagni president of America’s Health Insurance Plans did damage control:

“Making sure consumers have secure, affordable coverage is health plans’ top priority. The only reason consumers are getting notices about their current coverage changing is because the ACA requires all policies to cover a broad range of benefits that go beyond what many people choose to purchase today.”

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers. Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If now fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase and there will be fewer choices for consumers.” 

Yes, if you change the rules now, expect higher premiums later. But remember that this is the administration that announced that insurance for 30 million more people would cost less in total. They also announced that contraception would be provided at no charge by the insurance companies and expected the American people to buy that lie.

Let’s move on to the cost of the ObamaCare website and its related expenses, such as call centers. The often-quoted estimate of $634 million has been challenged by a number of sources.

Government spending is bundled into large contracts that last for years, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what is spent for what project. For instance, CGI Federal, generally regarded as the main contractor for healthcare.gov, has one such contract that was signed three years before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law and lasts until 2017.

The news release issued by CGI in 2011 touted a contract of $93 million over two years. The entire backbone of the exchanges, such as the data hub was created by Optum/Quality Software Services Inc., a unit of UnitedHealth Group.

In a June report, the Government Accountability Office said that as of March 31, $55 million had been obligated to QSSI for the data hub. GAO says it does not have any updated figures.

The GAO report also lists a number of other contracts related to supporting the federal exchanges, totally $394 million, but the figure includes projects unrelated to the Web site, such as call centers.

The long list of contracts in the appendix of the GAO report does not give enough detail to fully determine which contracts are directly related to the Web site, though at a glance you could reduce the total to at least $350 million.

In testimony on Capitol Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, in response to a direct question: “Congresswoman, we have spent about $118 million on the website itself, and about $56 million has been expended on other IT to support the web.” That adds up to $174 million and counting.

But that figure does not include the costs incurred in government employee’s salaries and other costs hidden within the Federal budget. It will require an army of accountants with subpoena powers to dig through the piles of government contracts. Don’t hold your breath.

Finally, the costs of ObamaCare to the American economy are staggering but unable to be counted as yet.

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66 Crazy Ways That The U.S. Government Is Wasting Your Money

A bottomless pitHere’s a post from Michael Snyder at http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com with 66 crazy ways that the U.S. Government is wasting your money. If it wasn’t so wasteful some of them would be downright funny.

Why did the U.S. government spend 2.6 million dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly?

Why did the U.S. government spend $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”?

Why did the U.S. government spend nearly a million dollars on a new soccer field for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay?

This week when I saw that the IRS was about to pay out 70 million dollars in bonuses to their employees and that the U.S. government was going to be leaving 7 billion dollars worth of military equipment behind in Afghanistan, it caused me to reflect on all of the other crazy ways that the government has been wasting our money in recent years.

So I decided to go back through my previous articles and put together a list.  I call it “The Waste List”.  Even though our politicians insist that there is very little that can still be cut out of the budget, the truth is that the federal budget is absolutely drowning in pork.  The following are 66 crazy ways that the U.S. government is wasting your hard-earned money…

#1 The IRS is about to pay out 70 million dollars in bonuses to employees even though discretionary bonuses are supposed to be cancelled due to the sequester.

#2 According to the Washington Post, the U.S. government is going to leave 7 billion dollars worth of military equipment behind in Afghanistan.

#3 It is being projected that the trip that the Obamas will be making to Africa will cost U.S. taxpayers $100,000,000.

#4 The NIH plans to spend $509,840 on a study that “will send text messages in ‘gay lingo’ to methamphetamine addicts to try to persuade them to use fewer drugs and more condoms.”

#5 The National Science Foundation has given $384,949 to Yale University to do a study on “Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia”.  Try not to laugh, but much of this research involves examining and measuring the reproductive organs of male ducks.

#6 The IRS spent $60,000 on a film parody of “Star Trek” and a film parody of “Gilligan’s Island”.  Internal Revenue Service employees were the actors in the two parodies, so as you can imagine the acting was really bad.

#7 The NIH has given $1.5 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts to study why “three-quarters” of lesbians in the United States are overweight and why most gay males are not.

#8 The NIH has also spent $2.7 million to study why lesbians have more “vulnerability to hazardous drinking”.

#9 The U.S. government is giving sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt even though the new president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi (a member of the Muslim Brotherhood), constantly makes statements such as the following

“Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them”

#10 During 2012, the salaries of Barack Obama’s three climate change advisers combined came to a grand total of more than $370,000.

#11 Overall, 139 different White House staffers were making at least $100,000 during 2012, and there were 20 staffers that made the maximum of $172,200.

#12 Amazingly, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 1.4 billion dollars a year on the Obamas.  Meanwhile, British taxpayers only spend about 58 million dollars on the entire royal family.

#13 During 2012, $25,000 of federal money was spent on a promotional tour for the Alabama Watermelon Queen.

#14 The U.S. government spent $505,000 “to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs” in 2012.

#15 NASA spends close to a million dollars a year developing a menu of food for a manned mission to Mars even though it is being projected that a manned mission to Mars is still decades away.

#16 During 2012, the federal government spent 15 million dollars to help the Russians recruit nuclear scientists.

#17 Over the past 15 years, a total of approximately $5.25 million has been spent on hair care services for the U.S. Senate.

#18 The U.S. government spent 27 million dollars to teach Moroccans how to design and make pottery in 2012.

#19 At a time when we have an epidemic of unemployment in the United States, the U.S. Department of Education is spending $1.3 millionto “reduce linguistic, academic, and employment barriers for skilled and low-skilled immigrants and refugees, and to integrate them into the U.S. workforce and professions.”

#20 The federal government still sends about 20 million dollars a year to the surviving family members of veterans of World War I, even though World War I ended 94 years ago.

#21 The U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollarsa year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#22 During fiscal 2012, the National Science Foundation gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#23 The U.S. government is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority every single year.

#24 Federal agencies have purchased a total of approximately 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the past couple of years.  It is claimed that all of this ammunition is needed for “training purposes”.

#25 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 on the creation of a video game called “Prom Week” which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.

#26 If you can believe it, $10,000 of U.S. taxpayer money was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#27 When Joe Biden and his staff took a trip to London, the hotel bill cost U.S. taxpayers $459,388.65.

#28 Joe Biden and his staff also stopped in Paris for one night.  The hotel bill for that one night came to $585,000.50.

#29 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#30 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar.

#31 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is conducting a study on the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#32 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#33 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#34 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study….

“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”

#35 In 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#36 The National Institutes of Health has spent more than 5 million dollars on a website called Sexpulse that is targeted at “men who use the Internet to seek sex with men”.  According to Fox News, the website “includes pornographic images of homosexual sex as well as naked and scantily clad men” and features “a Space Invaders-style interactive game that uses a penis-shaped blaster to shoot down gay epithets.”

#37 The General Services Administration spent $822,751 on a “training conference” for 300 west coast employees at the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  The following is how the Washington Post described some of the wasteful expenses that happened during this “conference”…

Among the “excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable” spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a “team-building” exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 “networking” reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference’s closing-night dinner, employees received “yearbooks” with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.

You can see some stunning pictures of GSA employees living the high life in Las Vegas right here.

#38 Do you remember when credit rating agency Egan Jones downgraded U.S. government debt from AA+ to AA?  Well, someone in the federal government apparently did not like that at all.  Accordingto Zero Hedge, the SEC planned to file charges against Egan Jones for “misstatements” on a regulatory application with the SEC.

Normally, the SEC does not go after anyone.  After all, when is the last time a major banker went to prison?

No, the truth is that the SEC is usually just a huge waste of taxpayer money.  According to ABC News, one investigation found that 17 senior SEC officials had been regularly viewing pornography while at work.  While the American people were paying their salaries, this is what senior SEC officials were busy doing…

One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn, according to the report, which has yet to be released. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant used his SEC-issued computer to upload his own sexually explicit videos onto porn websites he joined.

And another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

#39 According to InformationWeek, the federal government is spending “millions of dollars” to train Asian call center workers.

#40 If you can believe it, the federal government has actually spent$750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

#41 The U.S. Agency for International Development spent 10 million dollars to create a version of “Sesame Street” for Pakistani television.

#42 The Obama administration has plans to spend between 16 and 20 million dollars to help students from Indonesia get master’s degrees.

#43 The National Science Foundation spent $198,000 on a University of California-Riverside study that explored “motivations, expectations and goal pursuit in social media.” One of the questions the study sought an answer to was the following: “Do unhappy people spend more time on Twitter or Facebook?”

#44 In 2011, $147,138 was given to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan.  Their best magic trick is making U.S. taxpayer dollars disappear.

#45 The federal government recently spent $74,000 to help Michigan “increase awareness about the role Michigan plays in the production of trees and poinsettias.”

#46 In 2011, the federal government gave $550,000 toward the making of a documentary about how rock and roll contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.

#47 The National Institutes of Health has contributed $55,382 toward a study of “hookah smoking habits” in the country of Jordan.

#48 The federal government gave $606,000 to researchers at Columbia University to study how heterosexuals use the Internet to find love.

#49 A total of $133,277 was recently given to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games for video game preservation.  The International Center for the History of Electronic Games says that it “collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography.”

#50 The federal government has given approximately $3 million to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to fund their “research” into video games such as World of Warcraft.

#51 In 2011, the National Science Foundation gave one team of researchers $149,990 to create a video game called “RapidGuppy” for cell phones and other mobile devices.

#52 In 2011, $936,818 was spent developing an online soap opera entitled “Diary of a Single Mom”.  The show “chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face, such as childcare, healthcare, education, and finances.”

#53 Last year, the federal government spent $96,000 to buy iPads for kindergarten students in Maine.

#54 The U.S. Postal Service once spent $13,500 for a single dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

#55 In 2011, the Air Force Academy completed work on an outdoor worship area for pagans and Wiccans.  The worship area consists of “a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with [a] propane fire pit” and it cost $51,474 to build.  The worship area is “for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of ‘Earth-based’, which includes Wiccans, druids and pagans.”  At this point, that only includes 3 current students at the Air Force Academy.

#56 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $400,000to study why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk.

#57 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $442,340to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.

#58 The National Institutes of Health once spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.

#59 The National Science Foundation recently spent $200,000 on a study that examined how voters react when politicians change their stances on climate change.

#60 The federal government recently spent $484,000 to help build a Mellow Mushroom pizzeria in Arlington, Texas.

#61 At this point, China is holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  But that didn’t stop the United States from sending17.8 million dollars in foreign aid to China in 2011.

#62 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build “a Greek yogurt factory in New York.

#63 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping$697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.

#64 The federal government once shelled out $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.

#65 The U.S. Department of Agriculture once handed researchers at the University of New Hampshire $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows.

#66 The federal government has spent $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”.

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Pay to Play at the Department of Energy

Pay to PlayEven though ObamaCare is sucking all of the oxygen out of newsrooms across America corruption is still proceeding unimpeded.

Pay to Play is a well-known Chicago political practice in which money is exchanged for services or the privilege to engage (play) in certain activities. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to a 14-year prison term for engaging in the practice.

Throughout the Obama administration we have seen Pay to Play practiced by various departments in the Executive Branch. The most flagrant has been the Department of Energy.

Many of the earlier green energy company failures received grants and loans that can be directly attributable to their financial donations to the President’s two successful election campaigns.

And how did Barack Obama fumble the green technology future? He and his administration used green technology funding as a reward for loyalty to their machine.

Many of the grants and loans were awarded on the basis of political loyalty and the donations of cold, hard cash to the Obama machine. Irregardless of Stephen Chu’s demurrals, the trails back to Obama campaign bundlers is as clear as a six-lane highway.

The Obama machine has no shame and even today continues to use Pay to Play as their primary means of distributing political patronage to their financial contributors.

The Washington Times in a June report detailed how James Coyle, a well-connected Obama donor and head of Massachusetts-based SCS Energy acquired Hydrogen Energy California with the help of DOE officials.

Coyle contributed $2,300 to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and $31,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2010, according to federal contribution records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Under the revised contract, the project’s estimated costs rose from $2.8 billion to $4 billion, while the Energy Department agreed to boost conditional taxpayer backing by $100 million, to $408 million in all.

In a report dated June 6, Western Audits Division Director David Sedillo said the department allowed SCS Energy to take over the project with a reduced equity share and did not fully verify their financial projections.

Now there is another Washington Times report that details the newest Pay to Play participant and their connection to the Department of Energy taxpayer-funded money machine.

The latest DOE grants involve carbon capture technology with the lion’s share of the tax dollars going to firms that donated heavily to Democrats. Carbon capture technology is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. It is currently considered too expensive and too inefficient.

The DOE awarded $84 million in grants in order to “support the development of advanced technologies that will help enable efficient, cost-effective application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes for new and existing coal-fired power plants.”

Of the 14 recipients, employees of nine of the recipient firms gave $112,312 to Democrats (including $35,512 to President Obama) and left-leaning groups like Emily’s List since 2010, according to OpenSecrets.org. By comparison, $25,006 was donated to Republicans by employees at just five of the recipient companies.

It appears that the most direct route to Federal largesse is still through various Democrat campaign committees. Pay to Play is alive and well and living in our nation’s capital.

 

 

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Is the IRS in over its head?

IRS Enforcer cartoonApparently, the Internal Revenue Service is in over its head. Starting with their suppression of tea party groups and other conservative organizations back in 2009, it seems that their plate has been full. The IRS’ suppression swung the 2012 election to Obama, according to a number of observers.

The IRS is so overwhelmed with tasks that it’s become clearer that their future role in ObamaCare is asking for trouble. How can they be expected to enforce the tax side of the healthcare law when they don’t even check where they’re sending refunds?

In 2012 the IRS sent $4 billion to identity thieves filing fraudulent tax returns, according to a recent report released by Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George the IRS.

“Identity theft continues to be a serious problem with devastating consequences for taxpayers and an enormous impact on tax administration,” George said in the statement. “Undetected tax refund fraud results in significant unintended Federal outlays and erodes taxpayer confidence in the Federal tax system.”

George is no favorite of the Obama administration or their allies in the Democrat Party since his audit that detailed the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups. His audit revealed that the IRS subjected conservative groups to extra delays and unconstitutional scrutiny.

This included asking Christian groups to provide “both sides of the issues” and detail the content of their members’ prayers, while withholding approvals and slow-walking applications.

Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service’s ‘friends’ over at CBS News reported that they sent 343 tax refunds to a single address in Shanghai, and another 655 tax refunds to another in Lithuania.

And in 2011, a statement detailing a similar report filed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found 1.1 million fraudulent tax returns were filed with clearly fabricated Social Security numbers that IRS could have detected, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion in 2011.

Approximately 2.8 million taxpayers were affected by the IRS’s failure to catch identity thieves from 2012 to 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found. This time frame that with the  agency’s aggressive harassment of conservative groups and its efforts to cull them from the political herd as the 2012 election carried on.

The IRS has become the Obama administration’s enforcer when it comes to their opponents, particularly those who want ObamaCare defunded. It was this type of illegal use of the federal tax collector that contributed to the demise of Richard M. Nixon.

The first step in rehabilitating this seemingly rogue agency should be their removal as the ObamaCare enforcer. It would go a long way in rehabilitating them in the eyes of American taxpayers. The simple fix to mailing refunds to suspicious locations is nothing more than a programming fix that holds them for hand inspection.

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The ObamaCare Fivesome

Cancelled subscriberIf three’s a crowd, then what’s five? In the case of ObamaCare it’s a partnership for a disaster. Except everyone hasn’t been an active partner in this disaster.

Let’s start with the Federal government and more specifically the Department of Health and Human Services. The leader of this group of techie wannabes is back pedaling furiously while she’s until a relentless barrage of criticism from the Republicans (not surprising) but more than two dozen Democrat senators who are afraid for their phony-baloney jobs.

Kathleen Sebelius has appeared before a number of House and Senate committees to try and explain the massive failure of the ObamaCare website. Given almost four years to build and test the eCommerce site, HHS has done neither.

Oh, they have a site that you can visit but it’s non-functioning. In fact, when it was tested the week before the October 1st debut the techies determined that it could handle a mere 1,100 users at a time. But’s that’s okay because three states, Delaware, Kansas, and Alaska, have enrolled less men than we put on the moon.

The next group of active partners are from the Democrat Party. More specifically, they include the Democrat senators who are afraid for their jobs. As they watch their crashing poll numbers they contemplate Terry McAuliffe freefall in Virginia.

At the beginning of October McAuliffe led in the Virginia gubernatorial race by double digits. Depending on the poll that you viewed he was leading by between 12 to 18 points.

Once the Cuccinelli campaign used ObamaCare as their primary issue those numbers began to drop like a rocket going downhill. On election day he won by 2.5%. Given another week the Republicans might have won.

The Democrats are looking at that example and a chill runs down their spine. It appears that the President has become toxic. No one wants to be associated with him. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is in a tough fight to retain her seat. Today, she’s flying to New Orleans with Obama but will not appear with him at his speech.

This is just the beginning. Politicians have an acute sense of smell and the smell the failure of ObamaCare. They don’t want to be caught in the riptide of this debacle.

The Republicans by and large can stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at their opponents. Except there are a few Republicans in the Senate who don’t understand the phrase, “when your opponent is digging a hole for himself, give him the shovel”.

They need to stop throwing lifelines to the Democrats and stand back. Misguided senators seem to want to be seen as heroes but is it heroic to allow an incompetent Federal bureaucracy manage 1/6 of the U.S. economy? The Democrats made this rope. Let them hang themselves with it.

Then, we have the insurance companies who supported this legislation because of greed. They saw it as an opportunity to clean up by enrolling 30 million uninsured. However, they didn’t see the trap that the liberal;s had set.

You see, liberals see insurance companies as blood-sucking parasites who charge inflated premiums. Their goal here is to create a single-payer system run by the Federal government. There’s no place in it for insurance companies. ObamaCare is a one-way ticket to oblivion for them.

Finally, we have the American people. They’ve been lied to by their President. They’ve seen their once-thriving economy been trashed by this group of incompetent amateurs. The U.S. economy has gone from full-time workers to part-time workers due to ObamaCare.

Their taxes have risen because of ObamaCare. Their taxes have been wasted on a non-functioning website and then as an added insult, millions have seen their health insurance cancelled because of fine print and red tape.

But there is an upside. The once low information voters are starting to pay attention. The Democrats biggest asset, disinterested voters, have begun to pay attention. I can’t wait for next November.

 

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