THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Is This Any Way To Run A Transition?: One out of five federal inspectors general, auditor or whistleblower protection jobs are vacant or are being covered by acting officials, according to a new Center for Public Integrity report by former Washington Times editor and Washington Post investigative reporter John Solomon:
When the top inspectors general jobs go unfilled, the career staffs continue to produce their daily audit and investigative work. But the agencies are often left to the care of an “acting” leader who lacks the authority, public standing, and ability to set the agenda that a Senate-approved, presidential appointee brings to the job, officials said. …
Congress first created the job of inspector general in 1978 with a law that directed the president to appoint 12 watchdogs to guard against wrongdoing at Cabinet agencies. Today, the number of IGs has grown to cover 69 agencies, and the jobs have come to symbolize the government’s commitment to accountability and transparency.
Solomon’s report also spotlights a troubling feature of the financial services “reform” bill being debated in the Senate:
Five financial regulatory agencies - the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Federal Reserve Board - for years have hired their own inspectors general because Congress had not included them in the system that requires a presidential appointment.
But a provision in the financial markets reform legislation passed by the House last December would remove those independently hired IGs in favor of political appointees named by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The current holders of those jobs are fighting the change, suggesting it would jeopardize the political independence they have enjoyed in aggressively pursuing wrongdoing inside their agencies.
Editorial Note: The Interior Department - which gave BP a "categorical exclusion" from the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement to perform a detailed environmental impact analysis for its Gulf of Mexico drilling operation in April 2009 – is one of the agencies lacking a permanent watchdog.
† Young, GOP And Black: The New York Times reports that the election of President Barack Hussein Obama has inspired nearly three dozen black Americans to run for Congress this year - as Republicans, “the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials”:
[B]lack Republicans are running across the country - from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.
Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected. …
But interviews with many of the candidates suggest that they felt empowered by Mr. Obama’s election, that it made them realize that what had once seemed impossible - for a black candidate to win election with substantial white support - was not. …
State and national party officials say that this year’s cast of black Republicans is far more experienced than the more fringy players of yore, and include elected officials, former military personnel and candidates who have run before. …
“These are not just people pulled out of the hole,” said Timothy F. Johnson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a black conservative group. That is “the nice thing about being on this side of history,” he said.
He added that the candidates might be helped by the presence of Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee who is black and ran for the Senate himself in 2006.
Though The Washington Post reports that Tea Party movement “is struggling to overcome accusations of racism that are tinting perceptions of this loose network of conservatives,” The Times notes that “[m]any of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown” and told the paper that “the racist narrative a news media fiction.” Or as black Tea Party leader Nigel Coleman put it to the WaPo: “I went to a wine festival yesterday," he said. "Weren't too many black people there, either. Nobody called them racists.”
Meanwhile, Republican women were inspired by former AK Gov. Sarah Palin’s nomination as the party’s first female vice presidential nominee, and “record numbers” of them are running for Congress, reports The WaPo:
The surge in female candidates has taken place largely under the radar. The previous high came in 1992, the Year of the Woman, when the percentage of women in Congress reached double digits for the first time. That year, 222 women filed to run for the House and 29 for the Senate.
So far this year, 239 women are candidates for the House and 31 for the Senate, according to data from the Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics. Among them, a record 107 Republican women have filed to run for a House seat, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee - surpassing a previous GOP high of 91 in 1994 and a sharp increase from the 65 who ran in 2008. And those numbers could grow. In each year that Rutgers has been keeping track, the final tally has exceeded the late April figure by more than 20. …
The jump in female GOP candidates mirrors the enthusiasm among Republicans in general, said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), who leads efforts to recruit female candidates for the NRCC. "I just think overall candidate recruitment is going well for the Republicans after two cycles where it's been more difficult for us."
All of this undercuts Dem claims that Repubs are not diverse and won’t field or women candidates.
† Lawyers Defending Terrorists: Gotta Do It, But Don’t Gotta Like It (second item): Ajmal Amir Kasab, a 22-year-old Pakistani terrorist was found guilty of "waging war on India" during the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, reports The Washington Post:
It was an emotional day for many Indians because Kasab is the lone surviving attacker from the gun-and-grenade ambush on India's financial capital, a powerful strike at a city that has been at the forefront of India's economic boom. …
A total of 610 witnesses testified during Kasab's trial, which ran for 271 days and produced a 1,522-page verdict that was read aloud Monday in a packed courtroom within the jail premises in Mumbai where Kasab is being held for security reasons.
Kasab could be sentenced to death for his crimes.
† Deconstructing Obama’s Cairo Speech: Robert Spencer of JihadWatch notes that the conclusions of the latest annual report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) should have caused “cognitive dissonance in Washington”:
[T]en Muslim countries were among the 13 designated by the USCIRF last Thursday as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC): Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Along with those, the worst violators of religious freedom around the world, six other Muslim countries were on the USCIRF’s watch list: Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Somalia, Tajikistan and Turkey. …
The USCIRF report “also criticized the current and former U.S. administrations for doing little to make basic religious rights universal,” according to the ANSAmed news service.
Spencer cites several heinous acts of violence against Christians throughout the Middle East that occurred recently:
‡ Pakistani Christian, Marwat Masih, was savagely beaten and sodomized by a Muslim mob earlier this month. Marwat Masih is a barber and he committed the heinous crime of cutting a Muslim’s beard.
‡ In Iraq Sunday, Islamic jihadists exploded two bombs near buses full of Christian students, killing one and murdering over one hundred.
‡ Last week in Indonesia, thousands of enraged Muslims destroyed numerous cars, burned down several buildings, and attacked a Christian center. What goaded them to this insane frenzy? There were rumors that the Christians were going to build a church. Islamic law forbids Christians to build new churches or repair old ones.
‡ In Iran in mid-April, the Islamic Republic arrested three Christian leaders within the span of a week, for crimes such as running a house church.
Spencer demands to know, “Who will speak up for these oppressed people, many of them in nations that are at least nominally allies of the U.S.?,” but isn’t holding out any hope that President Barack Hussein Obama will because “[h]e is too busy pretending that Islam is a Religion of Peace - and no inconvenient disconfirming evidence is going to shake that conviction.”
† Faster Internet For Islamofascists: Wesam El-Hanafi, 34, of Brooklyn, and Sabirhan Hasanoff, 34, of Queens, have been charged in a conspiracy to send money, supplies and computer advice to Al Qaeda, reports the New York Daily News:
"Wesam El-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff conspired to modernize Al Qaeda by providing computer systems expertise and other goods and services," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. …
El-Hanafi traveled to Yemen in 2008 where he swore an oath of allegiance to Al Qaeda, and then returned to the United States.
† Life Imitates “A Law Abiding Citizen”: The American Board of Anesthesiologists adopted a new policy that is meant to deter its 40,000 from participating in lethal injection executions by advising prison officials on dosages, being present to deal with complications, or inserting the catheters and infusing the three-drug cocktail. “[A]ny of these activities could lead to a loss of certification” reports The Washington Post, adding that “[a]nesthesiologists can get state medical licenses without certification, but most hospitals require it”:
The mandate from reflects its leaders' belief that "we are healers, not executioners," board secretary Mark A. Rockoff said. Although the American Medical Association has long opposed doctor involvement, the anesthesiologists' group is the first to say it will harshly penalize a health-care worker for abetting lethal injections. …
Thus far, no doctors have been disciplined, Rockoff said, but several anesthesiologists, including some who have worked as execution consultants or testified in capital punishment litigation, said the step has had a chilling effect. …
"It sure will deter me. For the ABA to threaten to pull your board certification is a big deal," said one anesthesiologist who has consulted for prison officials in his state about drug dosages. Arguing that the decision should be left up to individual doctors' consciences, none of those who criticized the policy agreed to be named, saying they feared repercussions.
Michael Rushford, president of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, tells The WaPo that the new policy won’t delay scheduled executions because, "You don't need a doctor to do this."
When I encountered Kerry Healey, his friend and former lieutenant governor, at the GOP’s state convention a couple weeks back, she had this to report: “I think he’s going to be himself.’’
With any other candidate, that news would hardly make your jaw drop. How else would you expect a person to run?, the politically uninitiated might well ask.
With Romney, however, a different question arises: Which himself? After all, there’s an assortment of Mitts to choose from. There’s the Newly Minted Mitt of 1994, the fresh first-time candidate who asserted that he’d be better than his rival Ted Kennedy on gay issues and who betrayed a distinct lack of reverence for GOP patron saint Ronald Reagan.
There’s Masterly Manager Mitt, the accomplished Winter Olympics impresario who ran as a moderate for governor in 2002. He was followed ever so quickly by … the Amazing Morphing Mitt of presidential campaign fame. That Mitt tacked so hard to starboard that he was soon assailing John McCain from the right.
Lehigh isn’t quite sure he’d recognize “the real Mitt” if he saw him.
† Updates To Previous Posts (The Media Love Obama, But He Didn't Respect Them In The Morning): MediaBistro’s PRNewser blog reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs burned up five minutes of the daily press briefing splitting hairs with World Net Daily correspondent Les Kinsolving on which of Obama’s press availabilities - “one-on-one interviews, group interviews with a select few reporters, or social media channels”- counts as a formal press conference:
The debate went on and on as to the number of questions and/or reporters that must be present in order to constitute a press conference.
Other reporters at the daily briefing were clearly frustrated. One said "filibuster" in response to Gibbs going on about the numbers. Another said, "lets [sic] move on."
† Updates To Previous Posts (There’s Many A Slip ‘Twixt The Cup And Lip): Until Obamacare’s guarantee of coverage to people with preexisting conditions kicks in almost four years hence, states can draw upon a $5 billion kitty to set up "high-risk pools" for people who have been uninsured for six months, with out-of-pocket expenses capped at $5,950 for individuals. Eighteen states have already informed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that they have no plans to administer these insurance pools, because Congress underfunded the program, reports The Washington Post:
Most of those states are led by Republican governors. Three of them - Delaware, Tennessee, and Wyoming - are led by Democratic governors. Florida's governor was elected as a Republican but is now running for a Senate seat as an independent.
HHS has been exploring the possibility of hiring nonprofit insurance companies to operate the pools.
Most states already have high-risk pools, but they can be prohibitively expensive and they generally do not meet the new federal requirements.
The chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has predicted that the $5 billion allotted for the new program will run out as early as next year.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on NYC street vendors Lance Horton and Duane Jackson. The two disabled Vietnam vets thought there was something fishy about the Nissan Pathfinder being parked in a bus lane with its engine running and immediately acted on their suspicions and alerted the authorities. Jackson tells The Washington Post, "We dodged a bullet big-time":
Jackson was on his usual corner Saturday night when he noticed the Nissan Pathfinder parked directly across from him. He could see the steering wheel, and "you could see the key inside the car."
He walked to it, and "I saw the car was running." He added, "What was funny was there was one key in the ignition, and like 15 or 20 keys tied to it."
He and [Horton] waved down a mounted policeman they knew, and then the car began smoking. Jackson said he assumed a lit cigarette was inside. And then he heard popping that sounded like firecrackers - boom, boom, boom - and he and the other vendors ran down the block for safety.
The WaPo reports that when police evacuated the area, Jackson stayed in his car to keep an eye on his cart and didn’t get home until 5 a.m. – but “was back out on his corner at 45th and Broadway by 8:30 a.m., undeterred, with a stoic bravado that typifies this city.” Says Jackson: "This is what I do, and I'm going to try to keep on doing it. This is kind of the belly of the beast or whatever. But I'm just out here showing my colors."
For his part, Horton humbly says, "I'm not a celebrity, I'm just an average Joe. It's nice, but I'm not a glory hound."