Saturday, December 10, 2011

Former Obama lawyer admits Walpin deception

Byron York at the The Washington Examiner gets an "A" for tenacity.  Two years ago, I wrote about the politically motivated firing of Gerald Walpin by the Obama administration.  Now, in what would be a stunning revelation in an accountable democratic republic, comes an admission that Obama administration officials lied in order to protect an Obama supporter and torpedo the career and reputation of an honorable career public servant.

Walpin had made some CNCS political appointees unhappy by tenaciously investigating misuse of AmeriCorps funds by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, California and a prominent supporter of President Obama. When Grassley and other lawmakers found out that Walpin had been summarily fired, and that a political motive might be involved, they demanded an explanation.

There was no doubt the White House had failed to give Walpin 30 days' notice, but on the substance of the matter, Eisen told congressional investigators the White House had done a full investigation of complaints about Walpin's performance and the CNCS board had unanimously supported Walpin's removal.

Neither statement was true.

Republican investigators released a report on the matter that was strongly critical of White House actions, and particularly Eisen's actions, in the Walpin firing.  As it turned out, even though interest in Walpin faded, Eisen's statements would come back to haunt him, because in June 2010 President Obama decided to nominate Eisen to be U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic.  The job, of course, requires Senate confirmation.  And that means any senator can stop a nomination.  So in September 2010, Grassley announced that he was placing a hold -- not a secret hold, but an entirely public one -- on Eisen's nomination.  Grassley specifically cited Eisen's "lack of candor" about the Walpin matter.
Before he would lift the hold, Grassley wanted the White House to admit that Eisen had lied.  The White House declined.  Facing a deadlock, President Obama recess-appointed Eisen to the ambassadorial post.  Of course, the recess appointment was temporary, and now it is running out.  The White House faced a choice: give up on Eisen or re-submit his nomination and 'fess up to deceiving Grassley so that Eisen might ultimately be confirmed.

The White House chose to 'fess up -- sort of. After weeks of back-and-forth, Eisen has written a letter to Grassley admitting he did not tell congressional investigators the truth.  Concerning his claim that the CNCS board unanimously supported Walpin's removal before the White House acted, Eisen writes, "To be clear, at that time, CNCS board members did not express to the White House, verbally or otherwise, unanimous support for the removal of Mr. Walpin."
Scooter Libby lost his job, was convicted of a felony and disbarred for obstructing and lying to federal investigators.  What a contrast....  Eisen 'fesses up to lying to Congress in a federal investigation and all is forgiven.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Obama's $443 Million "Biodefense" Boondoggle

The Los Angeles Times serves up a withering blow to the Obama administration today in a surprisingly no holds barred account of how the Department of Health and Human Services is pushing through a no-bid $443 million contract for a smallpox drug that leading epidemiologists say we don't need, and representatives at FDA say has little chance of approval for use in humans.  Huh?  Oh, yeah.  Another thing: Siga Technologies, Inc, the company that Obama has cherry picked to provide this experimental drug (with a shelf-life of 38 months compared to decades for current smallpox vaccines) was ineligible for the original federal contract due to its size and is controlled by billionaire Democratic Party and Obama inauguration super-donor, Ronald Perelman.

In the aftermath of the $535 million Solyndra boondoggle, it is difficult to muster surprise over this.  I did find it shocking that HHS confirmed that Dr. Nicole Lurie, a presidential appointee who heads biodefense planning at Health and Human Services, lied about writing a letter to Siga's CEO, signaling that HHS would cave on price negotiations:
Negotiations over the price of the drug and Siga's profit margin were contentious. In an internal memo in March, Dr. Richard J. Hatchett, chief medical officer for HHS' biodefense preparedness unit, said Siga's projected profit at that point was 180%, which he called "outrageous."

In an email earlier the same day, a department colleague told Hatchett that no government contracting officer "would sign a 3 digit profit percentage."

In April, after Siga's chief executive, Dr. Eric A. Rose, complained in writing about the department's "approach to profit," Lurie assured him that the "most senior procurement official" would be taking over the negotiations.

"I trust this will be satisfactory to you," Lurie wrote Rose in a letter.

In an interview, Lurie said the contract was awarded strictly on merit. She said she had discussed buying a smallpox antiviral for the nation's emergency stockpile with White House officials and with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, but that the conversations focused on policy, not the manufacturer.

"We discussed the need for the product, and a need for a product to be stockpiled," Lurie said. "And we discussed an impending procurement."

Lurie denied that she had spoken with or written to Rose regarding the contract, saying such contact would have been inappropriate.

But in a subsequent statement, an HHS spokeswoman acknowledged Lurie's letter to Rose, saying it "reflects the importance of the potential procurement to national security." (emphasis mine)
The article is quite damning on its face; which, considering its source, has me wondering what's the real story?

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Cain Mutiny: Voters Taking Back the Ship

It is truly unfortunate that many voters may not know the real Herman Cain.  He is a regional phenom, inspiration, rock star in the Southeast.  For a long time.  His passion, class and energy are unquestioned by the thousands of listeners in Georgia who have followed him on his radio program on WSB through the years.  For us, he is a known quantity.  Solid.  Selfless. Intelligent.  Courageous.  Principled.  It is difficult for that legacy to pierce the national feeding frenzy that has been unleashed in recent days.  Amazingly, if you look at recent poll results, it appears that many voters have been able see beyond this choreographed deception and embrace his sincerity, integrity and statesmanship.

Rush Limbaugh decimated the Politico attack on Herman Cain today.  If you missed it, the transcript is here.  It's long, but you really must read it if you are on the fence about this non-news story.

I've been in self-imposed blog silence for a year.  There are many reasons, but I won't bore you with them.  Please let it suffice to say that I have been reinvigorated by the campaigns of ALL of the GOP candidates, but even more by the coordinated, calculated, and disgusting attempts to eviscerate each of these decent, accomplished Americans by the pond scum that passes for the "press."

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All the President's Rooms

In February of 2009, President Obama chastised Wall Street for irresponsible spending of the taxpayers hard-earned bailout money.  Remember this famous quote?
It all began at a town hall in Elkhart, Ind., on Feb. 9, 2009, when Obama discussed how federal bailout money should be spent: "You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."
Well next month, the First Family will be taking a trip to Mumbai, India that will make the expense of even the most extravagant corporate Sin City event look (in the words of Herman Cain) "like a rounding error."  From The Economic Times (of India):
To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked. The officer said, “Obama’s contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President’s convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels.”

Since Obama will stay in a hotel that is on sea front, elaborate coastal security arrangements have been made by the US Navy in consonance with the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. “There will be US naval ships, along with Indian vessels , patrolling the sea till about 330-km from the shore. This is to negate the possibility of a missile being fired from a distance,” the officer said.

The President will be accompanied by his chefs, not because he would not like to savour Indian cuisine, but to ensure his food is not spiked.
Almost 800 rooms.  You can check out the room rates for the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower here.  Hint:  it's a five star hotel.  Not cheap. 

This international boondoggle will seem even more surreal when seen through the prism of an election four days earlier which saw the President's party lose control of the House and the Senate.

Update:  The President is also catching it from the left for the upcoming trip.  But for different reasons, of course.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

UC Professor: Global warming scam "the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist"

On Friday, The Washington Post dutifully ran an uncontested (and I might add, pathetically whiney) opinion piece from Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann assailing the "anti-science bent" of current political discourse.  What the Post completely ignored was the resignation of a sixty-seven year member of the American Physical Society over the corruption of science that has been propagated by the once esteemed organization. (The American Institute of Physics has an excellent oral history interview with Professor Lewis here.)

The letter is so compelling that James Delingpole at The Telegraph (UK) has elected to reproduce it in its entirety and without further comment, as have I:

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara
To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society
6 October 2010
Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence---it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d'ĂȘtre of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer "explanatory" screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind---simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members' interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people's motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don't think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I'm not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.


Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President's Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Audacity of Retraction?

At the DNC Convention in 2004, then Illinois Senator Barack Obama delivered the keynote address, ostensibly on behalf of the hapless Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Viewing that speech today is quite revealing.  It wasn't a campaign speech for Kerry, but for the Prairie State Senator himself.  The Obama signs, the chorus of adoring spectators, and the choreography of their elated cheers, even then, was quite creepy.  His words, however, were indeed inspiring . . . then.  At 4:50 he quotes the Declaration of Independence, complete with reference to "Our Creator."  Around the 11:16 mark he questions sending our military into battle without "enough troops."  The most famous quote comes around 13:33:
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.

There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.

Really. On Wednesday in a radio interview, President Obama abandoned the soaring ethereal rhetoric of 2004 and invoked a rather malevolent tone:
Everybody in the barbershops, the beauty shops, and at work -- everybody's got to understand: This is a huge election," he said. "If we turn out in strong numbers, then we will do fine. If we do not, if we are depressed and decide, well, you know, Barack's not running right now, so I'm just going to stay home, then I'm going to have my hands full up here on Capitol Hill."

Days before the release of a key jobs report, Obama said most of the job losses his administration gets blamed for occurred before "any of my economic plans were put into place," and that the country is still "experiencing the hangover from the misguided policies" of the last decade.

Obama said a big voter turnout was vital, both to counter millions of dollars being spent by outside groups and the enthusiasm Republicans have demonstrated.

"They are fired up. They are mobilized. They see an opportunity to take back the House, maybe take back the Senate," he said. "If they're successful in doing that, they've already said they're going to go back to the same policies that were in place during the Bush administration. That means that we are going to have just hand-to-hand combat up here on Capitol Hill." (emphasis mine)

Hand-to hand combat?  This President doesn't know the meaning of those words and really should refrain from using metaphors which include the language of real war.  It's simply not credible.

And another thing, who says beauty shop any more?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Social Network

Newsweek's David Lyons suggests the origins of Facebook movie, The Social Network, set for release on October 1, exposes a serious and insidious threat to the future of the U.S. economy:
The risk is that by focusing an entire generation of bright young entrepreneurs on such silly things, we’ll fall behind in creating the fundamental building blocks of our economy. The transistor and the integrated circuit gave rise to the last half century of prosperity. But what comes next? “If we distract people with the lure of easy money, with making companies that don’t solve anything hard, we’re going to wind up derailing the thing that has been driving our economy,” Myhrvold says.

We’ve already fallen behind in areas like alternative energy, better batteries, and nanotechnology. Instead of racing to catch up, we’re buying seeds and garden gnomes on Facebook. This won’t end well.
The author seems to suggest that an intervention of some kind is needed to insure that venture money and America's talent are focused on the right things.  An intervention by whom?  Although he doesn't come out and say so, I'm thinking he means the federal government.  And why not?  The statist media has yet to find a non-existent national or world crisis for which the federal government can't provide an inefficient, ineffective, wasteful and fiscally immoral solution.  Admittedly I am an old free markets relic of a bygone age, but I find Lyons argument entirely unpersuasive.

The real societal revelation of a movie about Facebook is better captured by an insightful pre-teen friend of mine (Thanks, JS):

My ultimate regards to Mr. Fincher for his outstanding work in taking the 'person-with-no-life' scenario to the next level. Really. Here, we have Facebook, a website supposedly to connect with old friends but is really used to have obssesive compensation rants about their problems and how mighty they think they are, and then we have the film world, a place where looks matter more than brains and faces are more recognizable than talents. You know what happens when they are combined? A dramatic, action, political, movie about; Facebook! Because apparently the film world is making an 'original breakthrough'.

Just the thought of the making of Facebook, a website to talk on, being brought up as a serious movie idea makes me rather tempestuous. Maybe I'm off my meds or something, but this new movie 'The Social Network' will probably destroy more brain cells than sucking helium. Now, if you want to go see it, then by all means, go see it. I'm not stopping you. But think about something else you can do in that time. And it better not be checking your Facebook status.