Category Archive 'Corruption'
12 Mar 2023
Matthew Crawford finds his home state evolved into the classic Third World kleptocracy.
I grew up in California, moved away in the early Nineties, and moved back in 2019. One of the new things I noticed upon my return was small signs stuck to the side of a car, or printed on posterboard and erected on a street corner, advertising “DMV services”. After some intercourse with a few of these, always conducted in halting, heavily accented English, I came to understand that these entrepreneurs are “fixers”, a species that most Americans are unacquainted with. If you want to get something done in the developing world, you often need to engage the services of a fixer. This is someone who has connections in the bureaucracy, often by virtue of kinship. Being a naïve visitor without connections, you couldn’t possibly know whom to bribe, how to approach them, or what forms must be observed. These things must be accomplished with delicacy. You, brainwashed to believe in the Weberian version of bureaucracy as impersonal rationality, are too naive to navigate a real one in most parts of the world. Too European.
They say California is the future. However that may be, the state has become more like the rest of the world, less like the erstwhile United States. The old European ways of procedure-following are anomalous, and perhaps never made a lot of sense. Or maybe they made sense only within a framework provided by something like Calvinism, Prussian organisation, ecclesiastical administration, or some similarly ascetic institutional morality that is “no respecter of persons”. By contrast, ties of kinship are easy to grasp, more robust, and make sense to more of the world’s peoples as the ground of cooperation, particularly in societies where the clan may be as far as trust extends.
I was very happy to have found my way to Smog Lady. I spotted her 20 minutes after I arrived at the parking lot. She was making her rounds, leaning into cars through the driver’s side window. Finally she approached me: a toothless matron who spoke only Chinese beyond a few key words in English such as “odometer” and “VIN number”. I noticed she had a large wad of cash in her hand. I gave her my $200. She then got in her car and drove out of the parking lot. I had a moment of panic, thinking I had just been ripped off. But sure enough, 30 minutes later she came back with my fraudulent smog certificate.
The Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine coined the term “service nomads” for distinct peoples, typically itinerant or diaspora, who perform functions within a society that can only be done by outsiders. That is because these functions, though indispensable, are shady in one way or another and can’t be openly avowed as necessary. Things such as usury (that is, providing credit), burying the dead, magic, puppeteering, prostitution, peddling, cobbling, knife sharpening, dispute mediation and all manner of border-crossing and go-between work that allows the principals to negotiate without losing face or being compromised.
Every society has such liminal populations (gypsies, Jains, Travellers, the “overseas Chinese,” the Sheikh Mohammadi of eastern Afghanistan) who develop some kind of “transgressor expertise”. They must keep themselves apart, as integration into the bonds of reciprocity and communal honour would make their trade impossible. As Slezkine lays out: they are regarded as unclean, and in turn they guard their own purity against contamination by the host population, from intermarriage, say, or simply by accepting hospitality from them. Dietary restrictions and other taboos of self-segregation serve to keep the boundary intact. They speak their own language, and may pretend not to understand the host language.
At first blush, the providers of DMV services appear to fit Slezkine’s description of “service nomads”. But that concept only makes sense when framed against a surrounding society that is settled and cohesive, with taken-for-granted norms that secure a basic solidarity among the host population. Without such a background of belonging, and therefore communal honour to uphold, there would seem to be no need for a separate population and social type invested in transgressor expertise. California has become a polyglot of unrelated diasporas, opportunity-seekers, guest workers, tech Brahmins and multiple-passport-holding functionaries posted to the Pacific Rim economic zone. It is more like the bar scene in Star Wars than like Tolkien’s Shire. We are all wanderers.
28 May 2021
In Los Angeles, city officials grappling with an ongoing homelessness crisis have turned to an idea that for decades was politically unpopular and considered radical: a government-funded tent encampment.
Other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa, Fla., have opened similar programs in recent years. But the high public cost of LA’s first sanctioned campground — more than $2,600 per tent, per month — has advocates worried it will come at the expense of more permanent housing.
The campsite opened in late April on a fenced-in parking lot beside the 101 freeway in East Hollywood. The lot-turned-campground can accommodate up to about 70 tents in 12-by-12-foot spots marked by white squares painted on the asphalt.
Power-Line’s Steven Hayward is justiably appalled.
What a minute—what? $2,600 per month, per tent?!?!
As the kids say, AYFKM!? Only government could spend more for tents than you’d have to pay for a rental apartment even in high-priced Los Angeles. You can shoplift ten tents from a store (without risk of prosecution in California right now) for that amount.
But let’s keep going with the NPR story:
On a recent afternoon, the site was nearly full. A row of port-a-potties stood along one side of the camp. The program also provides showers, three meals a day and 24-hour security. Campers get entered into the county’s database for matching unhoused people with social services and housing resources. . .
According to a report by the city administrative officer, the new East Hollywood campground costs approximately $2,663 per participant per month. That’s higher than what a typical one-bedroom apartment rents for in the city, according to the website RentCafe. While the per-tent cost covers services, meals, sanitation and staffing, some are concerned that the city is investing too much in short-term Band-Aids over long-term solutions.
I’d love to see a genuine audit of this homelessness spending to see how much the bureaucracy, consultants, administrators, and others in the “caring professions” chain of being skim off the top.
But this is obviously no accident or oversight, it’s simply the looting pf the public treasury undertaken behind the facade of an idealistic cause. You can bet that those tents are being rented by the brother-in-law or pal or corporate shell actually owned by some influential democrat panjamdrum.
07 Jul 2016
Red State explains how the Justice Department two-step worked:
James Comey was facing a revolt among his professional staff. If the case were sent to Lynch for adjudication, which is the usual process, the story would be that the FBI had “cleared” Clinton and therefore Justice was closing the case. In this case, Comey knew that one or more of his senior people, in order to defend the FBI, would either walk (unlikely because no one has principles that are going to cost them a six-figure income) or leak like a sieve (highly likely). This would make Comey the bad guy. It would make him corrupt to the core instead of merely the feckless p***y he’s has been revealed to be.
Unable to go for prosecution, because that would have required integrity, and fully aware that taking a pass on the case would make her unemployable as anything other than a punchline in political jokes for the next generation, she needed to unload this particular ticking time bomb. Unfortunately, she had no real reason to recuse herself from the process as her department was overseeing the case.
Enter the “chance meeting.” Last week this looked like one of the most boneheaded moves ever made by an attorney general. It turned out to be an inspired bit of political theater. This enabled Bill Clinton to throw his old friend a lifeline. By meeting informally and in near secrecy with Clinton, Lynch suddenly had a reason to essentially recuse herself from the case by “accepting the FBI’s recommendation.” …
By deferring to the FBI recommendation, Lynch has pinned the bull’s-eye firmly on Comey and his senior leadership.
Thus we have the FBI Director rendering a scathing public indictment of Hillary Clinton is every particular of the case. In fact, he goes out of his way to demolish everything she has said. And then he, Pontius Pilate-like, walks away leaving the American founding concept of the rule of law in utter shambles.
12 Jan 2016
Uh-oh! Red State reported yesterday that the FBI is now investigating Hillary, not only for security violations, but for corruption.
This was sort of inevitable. No sentient being ever saw the Clinton Foundation as anything other than a way to provide the Clintons with tax free income. No one ever thought that the Clintons and their inner circle were not enriching themselves by trading on Hillaryâ€™s position as Secretary of State. In fact, it is my contention that a significant number of the 1300+ classified emails held on Hillary Clintonâ€™s private email server were US government information that was being used as currency to enrich Sid Blumenthal, his deceased crony Tyler Drumheller, and others.
Read the whole thing.
Bringing Hillary down would be a gigantic feather in James Comey’s cap, and Comey is pretty much as ruthless and unethical as she is. I’d say that, this time, Hillary may be in for big trouble.
03 Aug 2015
Tigerhawk has a few choice words about the leading (Rand villain) couple of America’s “aristocracy of pull.”
The news today had its uplifting moments. Vox choked out a spectacular story about the arresting wealth gathered in by Bill and Hillary Clinton since 2007, and graced it with a headline so snarky that Donald Trump might have written it: “Hillary Clinton has paid more in taxes than Jeb Bush has ever earned.” The short version is that the Clintons have “earned” — more about the use of that word in a moment — $141 million since 2007. I don’t care who you are, that’s some decent coin.
The second best part about the Vox story is the searchable list of all the organizations, mostly large business corporations, that have paid the Clintons enormous sums to hear their talking points in person. Scroll down and make your list of boycott targets (I was sad to see my old law firm Latham & Watkins in that corrupt crowd, by the way). …
Is there a single person alive who believes that corporations, trade associations, NGOs, unions, and the like pay the Clintons enormous sums for speeches because they believe their members actually want to hear the Clintons say the same tedious talking points they have been spewing for years? If that were the only value received no profit-minded enterprise would pay the Clintons these vast fees because they would earn, well, a shitty rate of return.
No, the Clintons are not paid to speak. Businesses and other interest groups pay them for the favor of access at a crucial moment or a thumb on the scale in the future, perhaps when it is time to renew the Ex-Im Bank or at a thousand other occasions when a nod might divert millions of dollars from average people in to the pockets of the crony capitalists. The speaking is just a ragged fig leaf, mostly to allow their allies in the media to say they “earned” the money for “speaking,” which is, after all, hard work.
We have such people as the Clintons (and the tens of thousands of smaller bore looters who have turned the counties around Washington, D.C. in to the richest in the country) because they and their ilk in both parties have transformed the federal government of the United States in to a vast favors factory, an invidious place that not only picks winners and losers and decides the economic fates of millions of people, but which has persuaded itself that this is all quite noble. Instead, the opposite is true: This entire class of people, of which the Clintons are a most ugly apotheosis, are destroying the country while claiming it is all in the “public service.” It is disgusting. We need to say that, at least, out loud.
Of course, all of this was prefigured years ago in a novel some of you will know.
31 Jul 2010
!n 1997, attorneys signed up 400 black farmers to sue the Department of Agriculture for discrimination, claiming that they were denied loans or made to wait longer for loans because of bias. So the Clinton Administration simply chose to settle the case.
Under the consent decree, all African American farmers would be paid a “virtually automatic” US$50,000 plus granted certain loan forgiveness and tax offsets. This process was called “Track A”.
Alternatively, affected farmers could follow the “Track B” process, seeking a larger payment by presenting a greater amount of evidence â€” the legal standard in this case was to have a preponderance of evidence along with evidence of greater damages.
Originally, claimants were to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. Late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if they could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing on time.
Far beyond the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,505 “Track A” applications were heard and decided upon, of which 13,348 (59%) were approved. US$995 million had been disbursed or credited to the “Track A” applicants as of January 2009[update], including US$760 million disbursed as US$50,000 cash awards. Fewer than 200 farmers opted for the “Track B” process.
Beyond those applications that were heard and decided upon, about 70,000 petitions were filed late and were not allowed to proceed. Some have argued that the notice program was defective, and others blamed the farmers’ attorneys for “the inadequate notice and overall mismanagement of the settlement agreement
So now the Obama Administration is piling a further dubious capitulation on top of the first (which awarded $1 billion), and is agreeing to pass out an additional $1.25 billion to people who applied too late, and an additional 70,000 “victims” are going to cash in, on top of the first 16,000.
It’s a game. Trial attorneys cook up an alleged class of victims, and sue the government. A democrat administration obligingly settles, and everyone gets rich, especially the trial lawyers. It’s easy to win when the other team is on your side, and is eager to throw the game.
Zombie at PJM discusses the implausibility of all of this.
18 Jun 2010
American Solutions has the answer.
This is the form letter American Solutions provides:
To: Rahm Emanuel
Chief of Staff to President Obama
Dear Mr. Emanuel,
Iâ€™m writing you today because I want my very own taxpayer funded government job with benefits. Iâ€™ve heard a lot about all the jobs â€œcreated or savedâ€ by the Stimulus, but am frustrated that I am still out of work. It seems the only sure-fire way to get a job is to challenge a White House favored Democrat in a U.S. Senate Primary and hope the White House can offer me a position in the Obama administration not to run.
I donâ€™t necessarily want to be a Senator, but who wouldnâ€™t want the above-average salary along with the rich health insurance and pension benefits?
Now I will not say that you should offer me a job in the Obama administration or Iâ€™m going to run. That would be illegal, although that doesnâ€™t seem to matter much. White House lawyers have blessed the earlier White House job offer to Rep. Joe Sestak to get him out of the Senate race against Arlen Specter. It also seems that someone at the White House offered Andrew Romanoff a position to not run for the U.S. Senate seat from Colorado.
I need a job. As long as President Obamaâ€™s stimulus isnâ€™t doing anything to create new jobs in the private sector, Iâ€™ll take an Obama job, even if it means I have to run for Congress.
PS: How about an Ambassadorship? I didnâ€™t donate any money to the campaign, but I love foreign travel.
03 Jun 2010
Gallup is reporting Obama’s job approval rating at 44%.
The White House is admitting offering three jobs to Andrew Romanoff to persuade him not to run in Colorado.
Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett have been subpoenaed to testify in the Blagojevich corruption trial.
Peter Ferrara is now predicting that Barack Hussein Obama will be forced to resign in disgrace.
Oh no! That means that idiot Biden would become president.
Months ago, I predicted in this column that President Obama would so discredit himself in office that he wouldn’t even be on the ballot in 2012, let alone have a prayer of being reelected. Like President Johnson in 1968, who had won a much bigger victory four years previously than Obama did in 2008, President Obama will be so politically defunct by 2012 that he won’t even try to run for reelection.
I am now ready to predict that President Obama will not even make it that far. I predict that he will resign in discredited disgrace before the fall of 2012.
I can’t see it myself. A president would only resign if he were facing certain impeachment. Why would Republicans be willing to impeach Obama? The impeachment of Bill Clinton backfired on Republicans, and they are unlikely to want to repeat that experience. There is no reason for anyone to prefer Biden to Obama. And Obama shows every sign of continuing the same policies and patterns of behavior which have so devastated his party’s and his own political standing. He is a dead albatross hanging from the socialist party’s neck. Let them keep wearing him.
03 May 2010
An unnamed public official
Mark Brown, at the Chicago Sun-Times, is very amused by the determined efforts of the District Judge to keep a certain unnamed public official from having to testify in the trial of Rod Blagojevich
[A] three-paragraph letter that they say was turned over to the defense by prosecutors during a recent closed-door session in the governor’s chambers, laying out new information that convicted political insider Tony Rezko allegedly has told investigators, particularly this: that Rezko said he “believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold fund-raiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer.”
It also said the public official “denies any such conversation.”
Without flat-out naming Obama as that public official, the governor’s lawyers did everything but draw us a picture, saying Obama “is the only one who can testify as to the veracity” of Rezko’s allegations.
In other words, they’re saying Rezko reported trying to bribe Obama, and that while Rezko said Obama turned him down, Obama said it never happened.
Even if the prosecution avoids using testimony from Antoin Rezko in order to avoid deposing that particular unnamed public official, the Blagojevich defense may yet succeed in dragging Obama into the mess to testify about his own role in the negotiations over Blagojevich’s appointment of a successor to Obama’s seat in the Senate.
According to Blagojevich:
On the day before he was elected president, then-Sen. Obama personally called a union official about his desire for Blagojevich to appoint Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to replace him in the Senate, according to Blagojevich’s defense filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
20 Mar 2010
The New York Times reports on a very intelligent move by Tom Coburn (R – OK) attempting to counteract at least a portion of the wholesale exchange of favors for House votes for Obamacare. Nancy Pelosi’s preposterous attempt to strike a pose of moral superiority is good for a derisive laugh.
Raising the bar on Republican opposition maneuvers in the Senate, Mr. Coburn on Thursday threatened to put future holds on any Democratic House members who switch their vote in favor of the health care bill, lose their election as a result next November, and then are rewarded with a high-ranking job in the Obama administration.
â€œIf you voted no and you vote yes and you lose your election and you think any nomination to a federal position isnâ€™t going to be held in the Senate, Iâ€™ve got news for you, itâ€™s going to be held,â€ said Mr. Coburn, a physician known somewhat affectionately around the Senate as Dr. No.
Mr. Coburn, appearing at a news conference with 10 fellow Republican lawmakers who are also doctors, promised to scour upcoming spending bills for any special projects that may be given to lawmakers who reluctantly back the health care bill.
â€œIf you think you can cut a deal now and it not come out until after the election, I want to tell you that isnâ€™t going to happen and be prepared to defend selling your vote in the House,â€ Mr. Coburn warned those making up their minds across the rotunda. …
â€œThere is no limit to what the other side will do to protect the insurance companies,â€ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
04 Mar 2010
First there was the Louisiana Purchase of Mary Landrieu’s vote for $100 million (she claimed $300 million), then there was the “Cornhusker Kickback” used to acquire Ben Nelson’s vote, later still came the special deal for labor unions exempting them from the Cadillac Health Insurance tax, and now, as the Weekly Standard reports, it looks like Barack Obama is trading Appeal Court appointments for House votes.
Tonight, Barack Obama will host ten House Democrats who voted against the health care bill in November at the White House; he’s obviously trying to persuade them to switch their votes to yes. One of the ten is Jim Matheson [D- 2UT] of Utah. The White House just sent out a press release announcing that today President Obama nominated Matheson’s brother Scott M. Matheson, Jr. to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. …
Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother’s vote?
Consider Congressman Matheson’s record on the health care bill. He voted against the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee back in July and again when it passed the House in November. But now he’s “undecided” on ramming the bill through Congress. “The Congressman is looking for development of bipartisan consensus,” Matheson’s press secretary Alyson Heyrend wrote to THE WEEKLY STANDARD on February 22. “Itâ€™s too early to know if that will occur.” Asked if one could infer that if no Republican votes in favor of the bill (i.e. if a bipartisan consensus is not reached) then Rep. Matheson would vote no, Heyrend replied: “I would not infer anything. Iâ€™d wait to see what develops, starting with the health care summit on Thursday.”
16 Dec 2009
The Washington Times reports that Eric Holder’s Justice Department is again roadblocking federal efforts to investigate incidents of voter intimidation in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election by Black Panthers costumed as security guards and brandishing billy clubs.
The systematic efforts by the Obama Administration to protect their own partisans from prosecution are outrageous and have every possibility of developing into a serious scandal capable of inflicting major harm on a presidency already in serious trouble.
The Justice Department has told the federal attorneys who filed a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party for disrupting a Philadelphia polling place last year not to cooperate with an investigation of the incident by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
The commission last week subpoenaed at least two Justice Department lawyers and sought documents from the department to explain why the complaint was dismissed just as a federal judge was about to punish the New Black Panther Party and three of its members for intimidating voters.
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