Tuesday Open Thread

“If you can once engage people’s pride, love, pity, ambition on your side, you need not fear what their reason can do against you.”

–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

47 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

    ancestor of Karl Rove.

    Same MO.

  2. Libertad says:

    Recapping yesterday, the inspector general now believes the GSA managers conducted bribery and kickback schemes modeled on those developed by government workers in Louisiana and Chicago.

    In Las Vegas in 2010, Jeff Neely bragged about a conference he called “over-the-top,” which cost taxpayers $822,000. “What’s done in Vegas needs to be shared with everybody!” Neely said at the time.

    But on the Hill Monday, the San Francisco-based GSA official was far less forthcoming, repeatedly saying words to the effect of “Mr. Chairman, on the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer” to different questions.

    Emails released at the hearing show Neely planned lavish after-hours parties and invited friends to stay at the conference hotel, all at taxpayer expense. Pictures on the Internet show him enjoying one of at least half-a-dozen so-called “scouting trips” to Vegas in the months before the conference.

    “Why is he still an employee?” wondered Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R, Utah). ” … What does it take to actually be fired from the GSA?”

    “It’s so easy,” remarked Rep. Mike Kelly (R, Pa.), “to spend someone’s money, especially when you’re not held accountable. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the American people have to sit back and watch this.”

    Source CBS

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        I understand the desire to try and minimize it as it will hurt Obama’s image as a competent administrator. And for the political operatives, they definitely should do anything they can to minimize it.

        But for those of us who don’t work for a campaign, for an elected official, and/or for the federal government (all 3 of us here), we should talk about it honestly. And the details are looking pretty bad.

        • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

          the AP story, David. They paint a slightly different picture than does the tadpole.

          This guy is a bonehead, some of his supervisors were on to him, knew he was being investigated, and moved to deny an annual bonus until the investigation was complete.

          He is on administrative (or some such) leave until the investigation is done.

          I am relatively certain the issue was never brought up to the President, except perhaps, as a note that others were handling the situation. There would be no reason to advise the President that he should become personally involved.

          Obama Derangement Syndrome…no mas.

          oh…it was party, Tad…not parties.

        • AristotleAristotle says:

          Don’t be a pollyanna, Dave. Scandals ALL need to be viewed objectively, and frankly, not all of them reflect poorly on the administration in charge.

          I’ll give you an example. I recently googled “Bush scandals,” and this link tops the list. Exactly 400 enumerated instances of Bush-era corruption, dirty tricks, and cronyism. And frankly, many of them didn’t deserve to be listed.

          Out there, somewhere, some wingnut is busy compiling a similar list of “Obama scandals,” many of which will be phony (like the birth certificate) and exaggerated (Rahm Emmanuel). Where will this one rate? Time will tell, but given the propensity for the right to hypocritically blow these things way out of proportion, it’s really incumbent on us on the left to counter that as much as we can.

          No one is perfect. The government is HUGE, and if Obama or any other president is to do something about it, then they need to take “Big Picture” kinds of action. This GSA thing is very small potatoes to an entity whose budget is measured in the trillions.

          • BlueCat says:

            Even when the message comes from ‘tad, which ought to be a great big heads up that perhaps one should look before leaping on board.  

            • Libertad says:

              WASHINGTON – The main figure in a General Services Administration spending scandal took trips to Hawaii, Napa Valley and the South Pacific islands, all after the agency’s inspector general warned top officials about the excesses.

              A timeline released by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday shows that GSA executive Jeffrey Neely took five trips totaling 44 days, including a 17-day trip to Hawaii, Guam and Saipan that he and his wife planned as a birthday celebration.

              [snip photo]

              ( J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press ) – Witnesses of sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, prior to testifying before a House Transportation subcommittee hearing to investigate an excessive conference at a Las Vegas resort by General Services Administration officials in 2010. From left are, former GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck, suspended GSA Public Buildings Service event planner Lisa Daniels, Martha Johnson, who stepped down as GSA administrator because of the scandal, and David Foley, deputy commissioner of the GSA Public Buildings Service.


              Miller said he’s investigating kickbacks, bribery and other matters and has already recommended criminal prosecutions to the Justice Department.

              Source http://www.washingtonpost.com

          • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

            What I disagree on is because it’s our guy in the White House, we then downplay it as much as possible. We don’t need to make it larger than it warrants, but neither should we minimize it.

            • AristotleAristotle says:

              I think we’re countering GOP hype, and trying to show it in proper perspective.

            • BlueCat says:

              I’m hardly screaming Judas and nobody is downplaying anything. In fact, heads are rolling, investigations are moving forward, there is no hint of foot dragging, excuse making or stonewalling on the part of anyone speaking for Obama, any Democratic pol or anyone here on this site. Compare and contrast with anything similar during the Cheney/Bush administration.

              In order to see anything resembling downplaying, excusing or looking the other way,  a person would have to be buying the same crap ‘tad lines up to buy every day.  

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      Then I call bullshit.

        • AristotleAristotle says:

          This is a personal matter with Libertad, and his continued inability to prove HIS assertions, not an open invitation for his likeminded friends to jump in.

          I’ve already read the news, thanks.

          So, do you still believe Trayvon could have killed you with a single blow?

            • AristotleAristotle says:

              Some people are capable of that, but attributing that ability to a boy with no such training is just sad, and speaks volumes of the prejudice and fear that grip you.

            • AristotleAristotle says:

              Are you fucking serious? Shithead.

              • Albert J. Nock says:

                It is called a sucker punch you dillweed and it happens all the time. No special training or prejudice required. Have you ever watched UFC? Most kids have, TV is thy teacher.

                Even if you do not die, concussion is minimum, and long term brain damage is likely. Not to mention broken nose, orbital and facial bones.

                What rock do you live under when you are not behaving immaturely here at POLS?

                Have fun backpedaling, you tool…

                • AristotleAristotle says:

                  If you perceive any backpedalling to you, that’s a result of your wishful thinking.

                  Trayvon Martin was incapable of killing anyone with a single blow. Full stop.

                  You’re a racist cretin for assuming he could do that from looking at a single photograph.

                  The GSA needs cleaning up, and Libertad needs to remember that it’s incumbent on him (and not his dingleberry friends) to provide them.

              • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                by calling them Nocks, Ari.

          • Albert J. Nock says:

            Oh and BTW, that FBI link is not “the news”,  rather a previous GSA corruption case in which the FBI convicted many people of much wrong doing.  Good thing the FBI is trying to save government face otherwise the entire group would be laughed out of town.

            SEE HERE. http://www.fbi.gov/washingtond

            WASHINGTON-A General Services Administration (GSA) customer service manager was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme related to payments he received for awarding GSA contracts to various government contractors, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, GSA Inspector General Brian D. Miller and Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

            In addition to Minor, each of the following 10 individuals pleaded guilty to federal offenses relating to bribery and kickback schemes in the award and administration of GSA contracts, and each has been sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Urbina for their illegal activities:

            On Feb. 19, 2008, James Fisher pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a planner and estimator for GSA at the White House Property Management Center in the District of Columbia. Fisher was sentenced on May 13, 2008, to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution.

            On Aug. 19, 2008, William Dodson pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a building manager for GSA at the Potomac Annex in the District of Columbia. Dodson was sentenced on Sept. 10, 2009, to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $26,200 in restitution.

            On Oct. 6, 2008, Daniel Money pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a government contractor at the U.S. Tax Court in the District of Columbia. Money was sentenced on Feb. 5, 2009, to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $95,000.

            On Aug. 14, 2008, Fred Timbol pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States related to his work as a facilities services officer at the U.S. Tax Court in the District of Columbia. Timbol was sentenced on March 5, 2009, to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $24,143 in restitution.

            On June 23, 2008, Oscar Flores pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a government contractor at the U.S. Tax Court in the District of Columbia. Flores was sentenced on April 12, 2010, to six months of home confinement, three years of probation, and 300 hours of community service and was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine.

            On May 12, 2008, Raj Singla pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a mechanical engineer at the Wilbur J. Cohen Building in the District of Columbia. Singla was sentenced on May 27, 2010, to five years of probation and six months of home confinement and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay a $75,000 fine and restitution of $74,000.

            On Feb. 18, 2010, Suresh Malhotra pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a general engineer and project manager for GSA in the District of Columbia. Malhotra was sentenced on May 27, 2010, to five years of probation and nine months of home confinement and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay a $60,000 fine and restitution of $57,060.

            On June 30, 2010, Tarsem Singh pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a consultant for a government contractor working at GSA facilities in the District of Columbia. Singh was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2010, to five years of probation and six months of home confinement and was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.

            On Dec. 16, 2010, Narsinh J. Patel pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a government contractor at GSA facilities in the District of Columbia. Patel was sentenced on March 10, 2011, to three years of probation, and was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and pay a $10,000 fine.

            On Jan. 29, 2009, Gary Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of bribery related to his work as a building manager for GSA at the Metropolitan Service Center in Maryland. Thompson was sentenced on Aug. 2, 2011, to nine months in prison, and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and forfeit $55,000.

            • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

              does this list extend back, beyond Feb. of 2008?

              Corruption is ubiquitious in government at all levels.  How many employees does the GSA have?

              Trying to tie corruption at the lower levels of govt. to the President is weak politics at best.

              Grasping at straws it’s called.  

            • Gray in Mountains says:

              where is the justice?

              you, Nock, are idiotic in the extreme

            • ajb says:

              When did the investigation against any of these people start? When were they arrested?

              It’s nice that you’re willing to give Obama credit for bringing corrupt workers to justice for crimes they committed under the Bush administration, but really it’s not necessary. You see, this happens all the time. It even happens in the private sector. Would you believe that the courts are absolutely FULL of people who have committed crimes? Amazing. Just amazing.  

            • MADCO says:

              Personally, I don’t want the president down int he weeds of gov’t doing the FBI’s or Inspector General’s job.

              I want him in the Oval or on AF 1 doing his job.

              Bin Laden is dead.

              GM isn’t.

        • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

          Should we pillory GW because his cronies were living it up at the Mineral Management Service in Lakewood during his term ?

          A thief is a thief…  so what?

          That brings Wall Street to mind…

          let’s talk about that …OK?  

    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

      what the inspector general believes…how?

      Where’s that link Ari mentioned?

    • Arvadonian says:

      estimated $60 billion dollars that went missing in Afghanistan/Iraq under the previous administration?  $600,000, while disgusting, is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.


    • Craig says:

      NBC news last night reported that this scandal was from the Bush Administration and that it was the Obama Administration which was trying to clean it up.  Right?

  3. PitaPita says:

    and OK, maybe I am trying to change the subject too. 🙂

    Space Shuttle Discovery flies final mission


    It was a different flight for Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday as it hitched a ride from the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard, Fla., mounted atop a 747.

    The plane soared 1,500 feet over the nation’s capital, gliding over the Potomac River, Reagan Airport and National Mall before touching down at Dulles Airport.

    After 39 trips into space, NASA’s oldest surviving shuttle now will settle into its retirement home at the Smithsonian institution’s facility at Dulles International Airport, just outside Washington, D.C.

    I watched the live feed. Atop the 747, the Discovery looked so small to have accomplished so much.

  4. Sir RobinSir Robin says:

    More than 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.

    That’s as much as $13.7 billion per year, but it’s still minimal when compared to the federal deficit, which hit $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    While the economists don’t directly call for pot legalization, the petition asks advocates on both sides to engage in an “open and honest debate” about the benefits of pot prohibition.

    “At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition,” the petition states.

    The economic benefits of pushing pot into mainstream commerce have long been cited as a reason to make the drug legal, and the economists’ petition comes as government officials at both the federal and local levels are looking for ways to raise funds. The majority of Americans say they prefer cutting programs to increasing taxes as a way to deal with the nation’s budget deficit — marijuana legalization would seemingly give the government money wtihout doing either.

    Officials in one state have already made the economic argument for pot legalization, but to no avail. California Democratic State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed legislation in 2009 to legalize marijuana in California, arguing that it would yield billions of dollars in tax revenue for a state in dire need of funds. California voters ultimately knocked down a referendum to legalize marijuana in 2010.

    Economist Stephen Easton wrote in Businessweek that the financial benefits of pot legalization may be even bigger than Miron’s findings estimate. Based on the amount of money he thinks it would take to produce and market legal marijuana, combined with an estimate of marijuana consumers, Eatson guesses that legalizing the drug could bring in $45 to $100 billion per year. Easton’s name doesn’t appear on the petition.

    Some argue that the economic argument for pot legalization is already proven by the benefits states and cities have reaped from making medical marijuana legal. Advocates for Colorado’s medical marijuana industry argue that legalization has helped to jumpstart a stalled economy in cities like Boulder and Denver, according to nj.com.


  5. Libertad says:

    Warren Buffett announced Tuesday that he has stage 1 prostate cancer and that doctors have begun treating it with radiation.

    Source: LA Times

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