Ho, hum, just another Democrat scandal

The name Imran Awan has appeared in the local newspaper just twice since his arrest at Dulles Airport on July 24 while attempting to board a flight to his native Pakistan to rejoin his wife and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he had wired there — suspected to have been the proceeds of bank fraud.

It took awhile for Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz to get around to firing him from his IT job. According to Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel, Awan has worked for Democrats on the Hill for more than a decade, along with his wife, two brothers and a sister-in-law. His 20-year-old brother was reportedly paid $160,000 for a no-show job. The family reportedly has netted nearly $5 million from taxpayers.

The family, which had computer access to the highest levels of Democratic leadership in Washington,  has been accused of bankruptcy fraud, life-insurance fraud, tax fraud and extortion.

Strassel reported:

The most recent FBI affidavit accuses Imran Awan of defrauding the Congressional Federal Credit Union by lying about the use of his rental properties to get a $165,000 home-equity loan—which he immediately wrapped into a $283,000 wire transfer to Pakistan. At one point, when the credit union asked Mr. Awan (who was pretending to be his wife on the phone) why he wanted to send money to Pakistan, he replied, “funeral arrangements.”

Told this was not an acceptable reason, Mr. Awan went to “look online for an acceptable reason” and responded “buying property.” The bright bulbs at the credit union approved the transfer. His wife was already in Pakistan. The FBI stopped her at the airport in March, and despite finding $12,400 in undeclared cash (in excess of the legal limit), they let her go. Seriously.

No Russians to see here. Move along.

Debbie Wassermann Schultz (AP pix via WSJ)


Bill would repeal ‘Read by 3’ law

A bill wending its way through the Nevada Legislature would undo one of the few educational reforms pressed by Gov. Brian Sandoval that could actually be effective and provide a return on investment.

Assembly Bill 409 — sponsored by the Assembly Education Committee, so no Democrats had to leave fingerprints — proposes to repeal the law that requires third graders who fail to read at grade level be held back and not promoted to fourth grade. The law, which doesn’t take effect until July 2019, met resistance from educrats from the beginning. A former State Board of Education member was quoted as saying another test is “not going to improve reading.”

This was back in 2011 when former Florida Gov. and future presidential candidate Jeb Bush was writing in The Wall Street Journal: “While preparing kids for college and careers starts on the first day of kindergarten, the first good indicator of their chances for success may come in fourth grade. That is when students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.”

Bush explained what Florida did: “Florida ended automatic, ‘social’ promotion for third-grade students who couldn’t read. Again, the opposition to this hard-edged policy was fierce. Holding back illiterate students seemed to generate a far greater outcry than did the disturbing reality that more than 25% of students couldn’t read by the time they entered fourth grade. But today? According to Florida state reading tests, illiteracy in the third grade is down to 16%.”

Sandoval embraced Bush’s concept and added it to his education reform package of laws.

According to a reporter for The Nevada Independent, Sandoval just might veto AB 409 if it makes it to his desk. She has posted on Twitter what is apparently a statement attributed to the governor: “The Read by Grade 3 initiative placed nearly $30 million directly in classrooms in more than 300 schools across Nevada with a clear line of accountability and singular focus on developmental reading. The Governor will not compromise on the goal of ensuring every student in Nevada is reading at grade level by third grade.”





Why judge blocked Trump travel ban

Immigrants arrive at Boston airport. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Immigrants arrive at Boston airport. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Now, we’ve never been big fans of executive orders and question whether they comport with the law and the leeway any given law grants the executive branch.

But Trump’s order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days in an effort to block potential terrorists and to give time for vetting sounds much like what Obama did without prompting legal challenges. Without consulting Congress Obama called for allowing 110,000 Syrian refugees into the county. Trump cut that in half.

But a Seattle judge, in his seven-page ruling, granted a temporary restraining order sought by the state of Washington.


His rationale seems a bit dubious. How is the state irreparably harmed by a 90-day cessation of immigrants?

This is what he wrote:



Sounds more like a savings and potential benefit to taxpayers and the state than an irreparable harm. It might well be the right decision under the law and the Constitution, but is it for the right reason?



In iPhone/GPS era, FAA still flying by passing out slips of paper

Here is still another example of a bureaucracy mired in incompetence.

The Wall Street Journal reports in an editorial today that the Federal Aviation Administration runs an air-traffic control system with the best technology World War II could offer, while its efforts to upgrade are overbudget and overdue. The FAA is expected to miss its 2025 completion date by a decade.

The Associated Press recently reported that new air control towers at McCarran International in Las Vegas and San Francisco International can’t open and will have to be remodeled because they are built for new technology that keeps crashing. Work spaces will have to be expanded so controllers can handle slips of paper for tracking flights.

Both the AP account and the WSJ editorial report that a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, would take air traffic control operations away from the FAA and hand it to a nonprofit company run by the aviation industry.

WSJ says it works in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and a Government Accountability Office report found safety either improved or remained unchanged.

Sounds like a better alternative.

New McCarran tower in the foreground and old tower to the left. (R-J photo)

Still another reason Trump is not presidential timber

Reason No. 1,730 why Donald Trump should not be president.

As James Taranto points out in his morning screed for The Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton is accusing Trump of having a “penchant for sexism.” 

Of course, twit Trump tweeted about Hillary using Bill to campaign for her: “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”

But what should be disturbing to everyone with a lick of propriety is the quote another columnist turned up from Trump’s 2000 book “The America We Deserve.”

Hypocrite Trump called critics of Bill Clinton’s philandering and sexual assaults hypocrites, writing:

“I got a chuckle out of all the moralists in Congress and in the media who expressed public outrage at the president’s immoral behavior. I happen to know that one U.S. senator leading the pack of attackers spent more than a few nights with his twenty-something girlfriend at a hotel I own. There’s also a conservative columnist, married, who was particularly rough on Clinton in this regard. He also brought his girlfriend to my resorts for the weekend. Their hypocrisy is amazing.”

That is on the penultimate page of the introduction.

If Trump will so readily and cavalierly violate the sanctity of the hotel registry, what do you think he will do with classified national security information? Swap gossip with his pal Putin?

Trump will do and say anything to accomplish his ambitions and the consequences be damned.


You never know what part will come flying off the ObamaCare contraption next

Toby Dials cartoon

ObamaCare is a huge Rube Goldberg device with near-infinite springs, levers and cogs that flip, spin and spiral, continually casting off parts and pieces in unanticipated vectors.

The latest iteration of this, as The Washington Post reports, is that about 22,000 people who signed up for ObamaCare on the infamous HealthCare.gov website have found the computer made errors — charged them too much, steered them into the wrong program or denied coverage entirely.

Lisa Benson cartoon

“For now, the appeals are sitting, untouched, inside a government computer,” WaPo relates. “And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means — by calling the health-care marketplace directly — are told that HealthCare.gov’s computer system is not yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them, according to individuals inside and outside the government who are familiar with the situation.”

Speaking of computer glitches, today’s Las Vegas newspaper carries an op-ed by an Hispanic activist, Daniel Garza, executive director of something called the LIBRE Initiative, who reports that the “Spanish-language health care website, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, is already a laughingstock. Much like its English language counterpart, the site is filled with technical issues. There are mistranslations and links to English-only pages and forms.”

He also attests the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable for Hispanics and they can’t keep their doctors.

Speaking of cost, an Investor’s Business Daily editorial today tells us that one study has found the average deductible for a low-cost “bronze” ObamaCare plan is more than $5,000, which is about 40 percent higher than the average deductible available prior to ObamaCare.

Then there are all those people who are getting insurance coverage at the expense of the taxpayers. Obama told Bill O’Reilly on Superbowl Sunday, “What we’ve ended up doing is we’ve got 3 million people signed up so far.  We’re about a month behind of where we anticipated we wanted to be.  We’ve got over 6 million people who have signed up for Medicaid.”

And, when Congress decides to stop borrowing 40 cents on the dollar from the Chinese to pay for those Medicaid enrollees, the states, which must have balanced budgets, will have to turn to the taxpayers to foot that bill.

That will be a particularly heavy burden for those who have had their workweek shortened to less than 30 hours by the 401 companies trying to dodge ObamaCare penalties, according to an article in IBD.

That cutting of hours is one reason the unions are turning against ObamaCare, but another is the costs imposed on their Cadillac health plans. Union officials in a recent letter to Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi wrote:

“We were bitterly disappointed upon reading the proposed regulations put forward by the Administration. If the Administration honestly thinks that these proposed rules are responsive to our concerns, they were not listening or they simply did not care. We have examined various health exchanges and should members be forced to purchase insurance on an exchange, their out of pocket costs are likely to be significant, reaching into the thousands of dollars even if they are eligible for a subsidy under the act. It would be a sad irony indeed if the signature legislative accomplishment of an Administration committed to reducing income inequality cut living standards for middle-income and low-wage workers.”

That’s got to sting.

Another sting will come when 12 million currently illegal aliens are given amnesty. “Adding these largely poor immigrants to the state health exchanges and Medicaid rolls threatens to explode the $2 trillion cost of ObamaCare by another $210 billion to $300 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Senate Budget Committee,” reports IBD in an editorial, which added that the Congressional Budget Office estimates amnesty will add $112 billion over the next decade to the cost of Medicaid, Medicare and ObamaCare.

And that is just the out-of-pocket cost, because now the CBO is saying ObamaCare will slow economic growth and cost 2.5 million jobs and add $1 trillion to projected deficits, according to The Hill.

And just when you thought there was nothing else in the law that could be delayed comes another delay. The obscure “two midnight” rule for Medicare hospital admissions has been put off till Sept. 30, reports Modern Healthcare. Under this rule hospitals are presumed to have made an error and provided medically unnecessary care if a patient doesn’t spend 24 hours, or two midnights, in a hospital bed. More paperwork.

Too many moving parts mean too many things can and will go wrong.

Glenn McCoy cartoon

Someone should file fraud charges against Congress

If any company kept its books the way the federal government does, Eric Holder would drag it into federal court on charges of fraud.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal money manager Stanley Druckenmiller points out that the $17 billion federal debt figure we hear everyday is a myth.

Gary Varvel cartoon

“If you borrow money from an individual with the agreement to pay them back in benefit payments in Social Security and Medicare after the age of 65, in their brilliance the United States accounting experts call that revenues. …” Druckenmiller said. “But in any corporation in America — other than maybe Enron — if you borrow money from someone with the agreement to pay it back in the future, that’s called a debt.”

He calculates the nation’s unfunded liabilities at $205 trillion, though the national debt clock, which apparently uses a shorter window, put the figure at $126 trillion. GDP is only $15.9 trillion, so the “debt” is 107 percent already.

Of course, the U.S. can always renege on its promises to future retirees. That is looking more and more like the only option.

It is a Ponzi scheme.

I see your Light Brigade and raise you a Hidden Imam

Charge of the Light Brigade.

Metaphors to the left of me. Metaphors to the right of me. It’s a double flanking maneuver!

Kimberley Strassel compared the Republican effort to win a few concessions of ObamaCare and federal spending by daring the president to allow the country to hit the debt ceiling to the charge of the Light Brigade, commemorated by Tennyson’s famous poem:

On an October morning in the Crimea, 1854, British Lord Cardigan led his 600-strong cavalry force into a frontal assault of a fully dug-in and alerted Russian artillery battery. The charge was courageous. And it was suicidal.

The Light Brigade was ripped apart in the Valley of Death. Commenting on the bravery and utter futility of the attack, French Marshal Pierre Bosquet declared: “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre. C’est de la folie.” (“It is magnificent, but it is not war. It is folly.”)

This she says is what happened to the Republicans.

On a far, far lower journalistic level than Strassel, we have Las Vegas newspaper scribbler Steve Sebelius comparing Rep. Mark Amodei’s principled vote against the budget and debt ceiling deal (which is how Obama and Harry Reid voted in 2006, by the way) to a Japanese solider on some distant atoll still fighting World War II:

“My conscience is clear with respect to an all-out effort in a four-against-one fight,” Amodei said. “I now know how those folks at the Alamo felt.”

But Amodei wasn’t defending American soil against hostile invaders — he was intentionally grinding his own government to a halt in an already-lost cause. A better example would be a Japanese soldier on a deserted Pacific island, fighting anyone who comes ashore, pathetically unaware that the war ended long, long ago.

No, Republicans mistakenly thought they were dealing with rationale people who would compromise before hitting the full faith and credit wall that every side said would be apocalyptic in scale and end in financial ruin and deprivation. That is actually what they were willing to do. They sat on the ammo dump and dared the GOP to shoot.

Harry and Barry were in it to win, even if it was a pyrrhic victory.

Perhaps, California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock said it most succinctly:

Given the ruthless and vindictive way the shutdown has been handled, I now believe that this president would willfully act to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States, unless the Congress acquiesces to all of his demands, at least as long as he sees political advantage in doing so.

Bring on the Hidden Imam to hasten victory. Look it up.

The dumbing of Americans will make us less competitive

We are saddling the next generation with crippling debt and simultaneously failing to provide them adequate skills stay competitive in the world economy.

According to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development survey, older Americans, specifically Baby Boomers, are superior to other those in other nations in skills, while younger Americans lag.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of the data found:

“The results show a marked drop in competitiveness of U.S. workers of younger generations vis a vis their peers. U.S. workers aged 45 to 65 outperformed the international average on the literacy scale against others their age, but workers aged 16 to 34 trail the average of their global counterparts. On the numeracy exam, only the oldest cohort of baby boomers, ages 55 to 65, matched the international average, while everyone younger lagged behind their peers—in some cases by significant margins.”



It’s not ransom, it’s a game of chicken

While Harry Reid and Obama dash about flinging outrageous metaphors comparing the government shutdown and pending debt ceiling to arson and hostage taking, I think William Galston, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, may have hit upon a more accurate metaphor:

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images via WSJ

“In the classic game of chicken, two cars are racing toward a one-lane bridge from opposite directions. If one swerves to avoid a collision, the other wins. If both swerve, neither wins, but both live to race again. If neither swerves, the cars crash.

“Right now, that’s the structure of the struggle over the debt ceiling. Neither party is swerving or even slowing down. Each driver is assuming that the other must change course, and both have their reasons. President Obama and Senate Democrats believe that the public is more inclined to blame congressional Republicans for the impasse and that every day that passes will ratchet up the pressure on House Speaker John Boehner. Republicans are betting on public concerns about deficits and debt, on the continuing unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act, and on what they see as the president’s unwillingness to defend his own red lines when the going gets tough.”

The problem is that the American population is in the back seat and our sleeves are caught on the door handle.