The science is settled, er, a settlement

We’re asked daily to accept a lot of ideas based on the recommendations of “experts.”  It’s important to realize that “experts” — and the people who offer them data — are still fallible human beings, susceptible to error… or deliberate misconduct:

Duke University is paying the U.S. government $112.5 million to settle accusations that it submitted bogus data to win federal research grants. The settlement will also bring a $33.75 million payment to Joseph Thomas, the whistleblower who drew attention to the fraud when he worked for Duke.

The dozens of grants in question covered the study of the lung function of mice. The Justice Department says Thomas’ lawsuit alleged that “between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly submitted and caused to be submitted” claims to federal agencies that were unknowingly paying grant money for falsified research data.

In a letter to the university’s community, Price said, “This is a difficult moment for Duke. Citing the “devastating impact of research fraud,” he also said the school had taken numerous steps to encourage scientific integrity, improve training and archive research data.

Because Thomas brought the original lawsuit under the False Claims Act’s qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions, he stood to share in any money that was recovered from Duke. For pursuing the case on the U.S. government’s behalf, he will now receive $33,750,000 from the settlement, the Justice Department said.

Thomas’ attorneys say he stuck with the case after the government opted not to mount its own investigation after he reported his allegations and filed suit.

“In many meritorious cases, the government decides to ‘intervene’ at that stage of the proceedings, basically taking over the lead of the case,” lawyers for Thomas said. “But here, that never happened. This left Mr. Thomas and his lawyers at the point of the spear – going against a venerated academic institution with enormous resources.”

Note it was a private citizen, not the government, that ultimately forced the issue and brought accountability.  That’s the problem with most government spending: too little incentive to ensure it’s doing any good.  As we’ve seen with Federal funding of many “green technologies” under the past administration, Uncle Sam is often a lousy judge of potential.  Is it harder to get private money?  Sure.  But if someone like the late Paul Allen is funding your project, you can expect to be asked regularly what their money is accomplishing.  That gets better results.

Accountability: the standard of winning societies.

(Oh, and remember this anytime global warming alarmists smugly tell you “the science is settled.”  Is it really?)

By any means necessary

The Democrats clearly do not intend to honor any facet of our system of government that does not result in their gaining power.  Senator Marco Rubio sounds the alarm:

rubio tweet

Broward County – a heavily Democratic area whose supervisor of elections illegally destroyed ballots in a previous election.  (Why is she still in the position?)  Broward County – a heavily Democratic area home to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who (among many other things I don’t have space to list here) stated publicly there are “many things” that can be done to rig an electionBroward County – a heavily Democratic area known for being home to the “Broward Cowards” — Sherriff Israel’s police force that failed to actively intervene during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.  (Like the supervisor of elections, the Sherriff still has his job, despite losing a vote of confidence by his own department’s union.)

The problem is not limited to the whisker-close races in Florida, either:

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema took a narrow 9,610-vote lead over GOP Rep. Martha McSally Thursday evening as Arizona’s election authorities counted more ballots in the state’s uncalled Senate race.

…depending on the results in Arizona and Florida, the Republican majority in the next Senate could be as small as 52 seats or as big as 54. That spread could be significant on legislation and judicial confirmations over the next two years…

Especially since Senator-elect Romney will undoubtedly take the RINO role previously held by the late Senator McCain, poking his finger in his own party’s eye when it suits him.  President Trump announced before the election that the Federal Government would look closely at improper actions and allegations of fraud.  I sincerely hope they are doing so, and are prepared to make very public examples of anyone found putting their thumb on the scale.  We keep hearing that Trump’s election somehow made Democrats lose faith in our Constitutional system.  As one writer points out, that’s not the case.  They haven’t lost faith in it… they just don’t like how it gets in their way.  That’s why places like Broward County will try to continue “finding votes” until they have enough to get the election results they wanted.

This is outright attempted electoral theft.  It cannot be tolerated.  Period.  The public must demand accountability for this process.  If the Arizona and Florida races are shown to be stolen by the Democrats, the Senate MUST refuse to seat the alleged winners.

Americans have long been cynical about their own elections — but have been willing to abide by the results of record.  If that ceases to be the case (and the Democrats’ collective tantrum after 2016 was a huge step in that direction), we will have anarchy in very short order.  Are you prepared for that contingency?

Parasitical terrorism

I’m increasingly convinced that if we (and the rest of the West) got our own house in order with regard to immigration and welfare, terrorist activity would be severely curtailed even without further major military operations:

On the morning of March 15, Fox 9 chased a tip about a man who was leaving the country. Sources said he took a carry-on bag through security that was packed with $1 million in cash. Travelers can do that, as long as they fill out the proper government forms.

Fox 9 learned that these cloak-and-dagger scenarios now happen almost weekly at [Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport].  The money is usually headed to the Middle East, Dubai and points beyond. Sources said last year alone, more than $100 million in cash left MSP in carry-on luggage…

[Former Seattle police detective Glen] Kerns discovered some of the money was being funneled to a Hawala in the region of Somalia that is controlled by the al Shabaab terrorist group…

As Kerns dug deeper, he found that some of the individuals who were sending out tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of remittance payments happened to be on government assistance in this country.

How could they possibly come up with such big bucks to transfer back home?

“We had sources that told us, ‘It’s welfare fraud, it’s all about the daycare,’” said Kerns.

Read the whole thing.  Minnesota is now home to a very large Somali Muslim community.  Next door in Michigan the Muslims tend to be from Bosnia, Yemen and Bangladesh.  In both states, Islam is increasingly influential.  Those communities are already linked to a rise in female genital mutilation cases (a practice that is rightly illegal in most of the West).  It appears the community is also linked to shenanigans back home as well.

Think about it: we’re allowing colonists to come here, partake of our welfare system, and use some of the proceeds to fund extremist groups back home.  We can’t defeat what we’re allowing ourselves to subsidize.  Seal the borders and tighten down on foreign remittances.  Otherwise there’s no point in waging this war.

And this is the thanks they get

At the height of the war in Iraq, the military offered large bonuses for experienced troops who chose to stay in despite the grueling deployment tempo, the risk to life and limb, and the effects on their families.

But Uncle Sam always reserves the right to change the terms of the deal whenever he wants:

Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Saturday…

A federal investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly doled out to California Guard soldiers. About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22 million recovered so far.

Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money.  ((Editor’s note: THEY WERE!))

These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. “People like me just got screwed.”

The government breaks its promises to We the People on a regular basis.  But this is an unusually egregious case.  To entice a veteran to stay in uniform during increasingly unpopular (and poorly managed) wars, have some of them wounded, crippled or killed, then wait a decade and say “now you have to pay it all back” is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

Why isn’t the government of California on the hook for “overpaying” its National Guard?  Why should these soldiers suffer because someone made a promise that was not theirs to make?  Which bureaucrats will lose their jobs over fraudulently recruiting?  (I know… I’m not holding my breath.)  Why is it there’s always money and favors to give to illegal immigrants or foreign terror regimes, but never any to take care of Americans?

There have been too many broken promises, too much corruption, too many of our politicians on the take, and nothing for the average, law-abiding citizen of this nation.  Our self-appointed elites are so stupid that now they’re bashing thousands of combat veterans who may be wondering which way to point the rifle next time.  That’s just one of dozens of reasons why I’m convinced the United States is a dead country walking, and will soon collapse with a heartrending crash.  Why would anyone defend it, when this is the thanks those defenders get for putting their lives on the line?

For what little good it may do, there is an online petition to the White House asking to forgive these ‘debts’ that should never have been levied.  You can add your name here.

The rigged game

*Update:  While my original post focused on how a mandarin class in our society has rigged the electoral game, this post focuses on how the concept of representative democracy itself has some inherent flaws and weaknesses.  None can deny that the electorate is complicit in the development of the current mess.  After all, pitchfork parades and tar and feathers are still options.  And far too many voters think they’re “sending a message” by voting for candidate X, when in fact they don’t know candidate X’s actual record or stated positions.  In other words, they’re voting by emotion, not fact and reason:

…as noted above, many people vote as an expressive act. The typical Obama voter knew nothing of his policies, but wanted to be “part” of “something”. There are all sorts of cultural and emotional connotations associated with Team Pepsi, and people want to affiliate themselves with those signals. Team Coke is no better: many Republican voters are in favor of a culture of God, Flag, and Apple Pie, and cast a vote for the GOP as an expressive act, without knowing or caring the actual positions of the candidates they vote for.  ((This, too, figures into the Rise of Trump, since many of his supporters see him as a chance to wave a middle finger at the mandarins, but haven’t taken the time to actually parse what he’s said. — Jemison))

ORIGINAL POST:

Read these two articles, then ask yourself: why is it we put so much faith in elections in this country?

After the final vote count in Nevada, Hillary Clinton has 52 pledged delegates and Bernie Sanders 51 — delegates required to vote for them at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. All were acquired in state primaries and caucuses as a result of a vote of the people.

So Clinton and Sanders are virtually tied, right?

Wrong. Clinton is leagues ahead of Sanders in the overall delegate count, 503-70. This is because of “superdelegate” rules that allow 712 Democratic Party insiders to decide on their own whom to support at the convention.

The Democratic Party’s superdelegate rules, devised after George McGovern’s 1972 defeat, are not particularly democratic, reflecting an era when party officials were reluctant to lose control of the presidential nominating process.

The Republicans are little better:

That rule was fortified by amendments made at the Republican convention of 2012, ironically to handicap insurgent candidates in the future. It was a response to the phenomenon of Texas Rep. Ron Paul winning nearly all of the delegates in states like Maine, Minnesota and Nevada, in spite of losing wider initial contests in those states.

What point is there to elections if Elephant and Donkey insiders always get to pick the candidates?  We’re stirred up to resent the influence of “big money” in elections, but Big Political Party shenanigans constrain our ‘choices’ as much or more than does donor activity.  Is it any wonder our government’s policies are so out of line with what the people want?  The bi-factional ruling class makes sure the only “choices” the public perceives are slight variations around a tightly controlled mean.  That way they continue to do what they want, public wishes be damned.  The best explanation for Trump’s meteoric rise is that so many people think he represents a means to say “up yours” to the insiders rigging this game.  (He doesn’t; he merely represents another facet of that rigged game — the face that’s shown when the electorate needs to blow off a particularly large head of steam, as it does this year.  The real function elections seems to serve in our country is pacifying the electorate with the illusion they have some input into what Washington does.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I have no idea where this is going, but I’m pretty sure we won’t like the destination.  Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul were “insurgent candidates,” to use the term in the article above.  Agree with them or not, they had a developed view of how they would approach governance.  Perot self-destructed, but the other two were deliberately (and in the case of Ron Paul, frantically) marginalized by the party apparatus — and the electorate let them do it.

So, having passed those off ramps, the course our nation is on has led to The Donald and his yuuuuuge ego, Bernie Sanders and the usual “hey kid, want some free stuff?” come on of socialism, and Her Hillariness, who promises to do for Washington what she did for information security at the State Department.  At this point I’m tempted to just write in “George Washington” this November.  I don’t think it would make my vote count any less.

Wake me when it’s time to rebuild from the ashes.

No accountability

Someone needs to look into the political donations this company has made… or who in Washington D.C. owns stock in it.  And Americans generally need to be paying MUCH more attention and demanding this kind of thing not be allowed to happen:

Seven months after federal officials fired CGI Federal for its botched work on Obamacare website Healthcare.gov, the IRS awarded the same company a $4.5 million IT contract for its new Obamacare tax program.

CGI is a $10.5 billion Montreal-based company that has forever been etched into the public’s mind as the company behind the bungled Obamacare main website.

After facing a year of embarrassing failures, federal officials finally pulled the plug on the company and terminated CGI’s contract in January 2014.

Yet on Aug. 11, seven months later, IRS officials signed a new contract with CGI to provide “critical functions” and “management support” for its Obamacare tax program, according to the Federal Procurement Data System, a federal government procurement database.

The entire government acquisition process is broken, because suppliers never face existential penalties for failure to perform.  Sure, there’s the occasional fine or public tongue-lashing, but the large Treasury checks still get written and cashed.  Meanwhile, the taxpayers continue to get bilked for shoddy contracting.  It’s not just the “military-industrial complex;” it’s the “government-favored industries-corporate campaign contributions” complex.

This is but one of many important reasons government needs to be small with very specific and narrowly defined roles.  If history demonstrates anything, it’s that the private sector is almost always more efficient — and effective — with the provision of goods and services.  For those few functions that are inherently governmental, extreme close scrutiny should always be the norm.  Cutting down on the amount of government activity in general would greatly facilitate that.

Organized crime pays

At least, that’s the message that keeps getting sent when one pays attention to what’s happening in the financial industries:

Traders who were rigging the £3.5trillion-a-day foreign exchange market boasted to each other about making ‘free money’ in a scandal that has today cost five banks a record £2billion in fines.
The bankers, who called themselves as the ‘A-Team’, ‘Three Musketeers’ and ‘The Players’, colluded online by sharing sensitive information to make millions for their banks and bag big bonuses themselves.
Other messages reveal how the cartel feared being caught, telling eachother on forums: ‘Don’t want other numpty’s in mkt to know… is he gonna protect us like we protect each other?’
State-owned Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £217million ($344million) by the London-based Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as well as £182million ($290million) by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
The others involved in the settlement are Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, who will also pay up to £500million each. Barclays said it continues to hold discussions with regulators.
More than 30 traders have been fired, suspended, put on leave, or resigned since the probes started, and the Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation – but there have been no arrests.

Why is that? Why is it that police will confiscate the life savings of an ordinary citizen on a whim, without bothering to establish any criminal activity, but bankers and financiers can break all regulatory law and simply write off a negotiated fine as the cost of doing ‘business?’  (Wouldn’t it have been informative if the media had bothered to figure out what small percentage these ‘fines’ represented, compared to the billions in illegal gains?  I’m betting it’s a mere rounding error, and it’s no accident such context is lacking in the coverage.)

This is not an isolated story, and is yet one more example of why I get irritated with people who look at conditions today and consider it an indictment of capitalism.  We don’t HAVE capitalism today.  We have corporatism — a condition in which well-connected interests such as the financial sector have coopted the very regulators that are supposed to constrain their ability to use their position to screw the common man.  This is another reason I said yesterday I’m no longer convinced we live in a free country.  Not when this kind of thing is considered ‘justice.’

In recent years we’ve seen the robo-signing scandal (which, in a just world, would have resulted in the voiding of ALL affected mortgages), large banks found guilty of laundering money for criminal syndicates (professional courtesy, it would seem), and now this.

As Karl Denninger is fond of saying, “where are the handcuffs?”  Not to mention the long stretches in a general prison population for these captains of industry, not some Club Med Behind Bars.  This is why there is no trust in government OR the business world today.  And rightfully so.  Nor SHOULD there be any until some “big fish” are held to hard account, with a clear message this flaunting of the rule of law will no longer be tolerated.  These banks keep claiming in recent years they are “too big to let fail.”  Fine.  Maybe the government that currently coddles them needs instead to seize and auction them off in smaller parcels to people who will compete fairly in a market environment, rather than create oligarchies.  Come to think of it, that would help considerably with some other issues, too… like our national debt.

That would, however, require government to be interested in justice, rather than cronyism.  And that will only happen, dear reader, when YOU demand it.

(HT: Vox Day)