Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

Rep. Murtha Dogged By Questions About Earmark Use, Ethics

March 24, 2009

Rep. John Murtha celebrated his 35th anniversary as a congressman by getting an early start on his next campaign, staging an invitation-only fundraising luncheon for dozens of lobbyists and defense contractors at the private Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. 

AP

But last month’s event, with tickets starting at $1,400, was missing one longtime friend: Paul Magliocchetti, the founder of a lobbying firm that over the past two decades has been one of Murtha’s biggest sources of campaign donations. 

Magliocchetti was absent because of what had happened three months earlier. At 7:30 one evening shortly after Thanksgiving, the FBI raided his lobbying firm, carting off records of the firm’s political action committee and files of some of its lobbyists. 

The work of those lobbyists took them often to Murtha’s Capitol Hill office, as well as those of fellow Democrats Peter Visclosky of Indiana, Jim Moran of Virginia and others on the defense appropriations subcommittee that Murtha chairs. The FBI says the investigation is continuing, highlighting the close tie between special-interest spending provisions known as earmarks and the raising of campaign cash. 

For Murtha, Visclosky and Moran the practice has paved the way for their congressional careers. In 2007 and 2008, the three directed $137 million to defense contractors who were paying Magliocchetti’s PMA Group to get them government business. That kind of clout put the midsized 33-lobbyist firm into the big leagues, ranking it in the top 10 in billings among Washington lobbying shops. 

At the same time, the three lawmakers received huge amounts of political donations from PMA lobbyists and their clients. Murtha has collected $2.37 million in campaign contributions from PMA’s lobbyists and the companies it has represented since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money. Visclosky has collected $1.36 million; Moran, $997,348. 

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2
009/03/23/rep-murtha-dogged-que
stions-earmark-use/

Michelle:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009
/03/24/dont-honor-john-murtha/

Obama’s Abortion Stand Causes Problems for him At Notre Dame

March 24, 2009

President Obama will be speaking at the University of Notre Dame commencement ceremony on May 17th.  While the president will also be speaking at the Naval Academy and Arizona State, those appearances haven’t caused as much uproar as his trip to South Bend, Ind.

From NBC’s Christopher Wilson
 
In today’s edition of the student newspaper, The Observer, letters to the editor, which are usually reserved for debates over the color of The Shirt or whether it’s proper to chant “Sucks” at sporting events — was expanded to cover a lively debate over whether Obama should be speaking.  

“Obama choice unacceptable,” read one headline, and “Obama a disgrace” shouted another.

The point of contention? The president’s record on issues related to abortion, the majority of which clash with the strict anti-abortion stance of the Catholic Church. An online petition has sprung up urging people to voice their complaints to Father John Jenkins, president of the university.  
Jenkins said in an interview with the student paper Monday that while there are clear differences between the president and the Catholic church on some issues (abortion and embryonic stem cell research), it was a great honor to have the president accept the university’s offer and that he had no plans to rescind the offer.

Read the rest:
http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/arc
hive/2009/03/23/1854122.aspx

Related from Nice Deb:
http://nicedeb.wordpress.com/2009/0
3/23/stop-the-scandal-obama-invited
-to-notre-dame-commencement/

Maxine Waters Helped Steer Bailout Funds to Bank With Family Ties

March 12, 2009

Do you think Nancy Pelosi will investigate her California pal Maxine Waters for conflict of interest?  There is still an ethics panel in the House, isn’t there?

******************

When Rep. Barney Frank was looking to aid a Boston-based lender last fall, the Massachusetts Democrat urged Maxine Waters, a colleague on the House Financial Services Committee, to “stay out of it,” he says.

The reason: Ms. Waters, a longtime congresswoman from California, had close ties to the minority-owned institution, OneUnited Bank.

Ms. Waters and her husband have both held financial stakes in the bank. Until recently, her husband was a director. At the same time, Ms. Waters has publicly boosted OneUnited’s executives and criticized its government regulators during congressional hearings. Last fall, she helped secure the bank a meeting with Treasury officials.

Read the rest from the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/
SB123682571772404053.html

[Rep. Maxine Waters] Getty Images

Rep. Maxine Waters, center, with Earvin “Magic” Johnson, left, and Ms. Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, at the 2009 BET Honors Reception in Washington, D.C.

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/12/
calling-bull-on-abc-news-time-magazines
-apologists-for-pelosi/

http://michellemalkin.com/200
9/03/11/culture-of-corruption-alert/

Stem Cells, Obama, Science, Morality, Taxes, Responsibility

March 9, 2009

One of our regulary readers commented on another site: “Yes, please. Let’s allow scientists to determine what is right and moral; they have such a lack of bias and experience in knowing right from wrong.  I’m sure Dr. Mengele would approve wholeheartedly of such a course of action.”

Well, we aren’t much suprised at the irony of American life: a nation that has food banks for underfed dogs and cats has chosen a course of politial action called “choice,” which is really a birth control measure for those too lazy to use prevention measures wnich results in, many say, human death.

We are in the age of f**k you!

So now we are going to use the human death of some future genertion to keep alive (if the science eventually works) older people suffering from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other fatal illnesses.

Maybe.

And the president who hosted a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” sees no lack of responsibility in abortion and the use of hman tissue for “research.”

Ironic.

Well, the unborn are overtaxed already under the Obama spending, borrowing and debt plan so who cares if the unborn live to pay their tax bill?

We’ll be gone.

Seems America has joined others in the world of the totally selfish….Fiscal responsibility is now the mantra: yet we are burdening our children with debt (if they survive their embrionic stage).

Ironic.

I am sure the Vatican will weigh in on this latest American retreat from morality and that most of the mainstream media will blow off the Pope by saying he supports sexual abuse of children….

Charles Krauthammer siad, “The President hasn’t thought about  this enough.”

Related:

http://eideard.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/obam
a-to-let-health-institute-decide-day-to-day-policy-
on-stem-cells/

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By Rachel Zoll, Ap Religion Writer

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

“No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state,” the study’s authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren’t Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090309/
ap_on_re/rel_religious_america

File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg

Michelle:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/09/anot
her-unhinged-democrat-to-taxpayer-get-the-fk
-out-of-my-office/

Related:
http://nobamablog.wordpress.com/2009/03
/09/obamas-political-munchausen-by-prox
y-syndrome/

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By Philip Pullella

 

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – President Barack Obama‘s lifting of restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research puts him at odds with Pope Benedict and the American Roman Catholic Church.

 

After Obama signed the order on Monday, the Vatican and U.S. and Italian Church leaders condemned the move. One commentator said the test of “a real democracy” was its defense of the most defenseless.

 

Obama’s executive order reversed and repudiated restrictions placed on the research by his predecessor, George W. Bush, freeing labs across the country to start working with the cells, which can give rise to any kind of cell in the body.

 

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on pro-life activities, called Obama’s decision “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.”

 

“This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested,” he added.

 

The Catholic Church, other religious groups and pro-life advocates oppose stem cell research — which scientists hope can lead to cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — because it involves the destruction of embryos.

 

The Catholic Church supports adult stem….

Read the rest:
http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCa
ndidateFeed2/idUSTRE52933620090310

Trust is the coin of the realm

February 14, 2009

Thomas F. Madden’s book “Empires of Trust” begins with the story of Rome’s conquest of Locri, a small Italian city-state.

A Roman lieutenant named Pleminius maintained order there in a heavy-handed manner, sacking and looting religious shrines and enslaving the Locrians. When Locrian ambassadors later assembled in the Roman Senate chamber, it was not, as many senators expected, to beg for forgiveness and charity but to lodge a complaint.

Pleminius, they charged, was a tyrant. “There is nothing human except his face and appearance,” cried one. “There is no trace of the Roman except in his clothing and speech.”

By Mike Mullen
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 15, 2009; Page B07

Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top ... 
Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said on Tuesday more American troops were needed in Afghanistan as soon as possible to hold territory where insurgents have been routed.(AFP/File/Jason Kempin)

Though they had rebelled against Rome — siding with archenemy Hannibal — the Locrians expected better. “They trusted the Romans to act responsibly,” writes Madden, “and even when that trust was violated, they trusted the Romans to make it right.”

Such was the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built. Such were the responsibilities of leadership.

We are not Romans, of course. Our brigade combat teams are not the legions of old. Madden makes that clear. But we in the U.S. military are likewise held to a high standard. Like the early Romans, we are expected to do the right thing, and when we don’t, to make it right again.

We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm — that building it takes time, losing it takes mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective.

That’s why images of prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib still serve as recruiting tools for al-Qaeda. And it’s why each civilian casualty for which we are even remotely responsible sets back our efforts to gain the confidence of the Afghan people months, if not years.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try to avoid hurting the innocent, and we do try very hard. It doesn’t matter how proportional the force we deploy, how precisely we strike. It doesn’t even matter if the enemy hides behind civilians. What matters are the death and destruction that result and the expectation that we could have avoided it. In the end, all that matters is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes we take the very lives we are trying to protect.

You cannot defeat an insurgency this way.

We can send more troops. We can kill or capture all the Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders we can find — and we should. We can clear out havens and shut down the narcotics trade. But until we prove capable, with the help of our allies and Afghan partners, of safeguarding the population, we will never know a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan.

Lose the people’s trust, and we lose the war. The strategy reviews for Afghanistan recognize this and seek military, economic, political, diplomatic and informational approaches to regaining that trust. We know that the people are the real long-term hope for success. No single solution or preventative measure will suffice in protecting them.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d
yn/content/article/2009/02/13/AR2
009021302580.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Americans Resent Obama’s Tone, Stimulus Bloat, Tax Cheats and Lobbyists

February 6, 2009

I’ve been participating in the public discussion for more than ten years, and I have never before seen the American people go so quickly from favoring a politician, to questioning and even hating, and in such numbers, as this.

Barack Obama’s “Rant At The Spa” last night before an all Democrat partisan crown did nothing to help him pass the stimulus and gain the faith and confidence of the American people.

If our email, phone and other comment indicators are any indication, well more than 60% of the population has turned against this president since his inauguration on January 20.

Rasmussen, Gallup and other poll groups say somewhere near 50% of American voters now worry about or disapprove of the way Obama is going.

Bill Sammon, formerly of The Washington Times and now the Washington Examiner and a Fox News contributor said today after the Robert Gibbs White House news conference, “Americans are growing to resent Barack Obama for the way he has handle this stimulus.”

The stimulus has not, unfortuanately, been the president’s only black eye.  His nomination of tax scofflaws and lobbyists to top positions is now a fequent theme of those sending us comments.

Polls show the American people expressing disgust and dismay.  And they have less and less confidence in the president and their lawmakers.

President Obama did not let up in his use of ugly languange and efforts to get the stimulus passed in the Senate on Friday.

“These numbers demand action. It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work,” Obama said bluntly. “Now is the time for Congress to act.”

Related:
http://righttruth.typepad.com/right_truth/20
09/02/jobs-for-citizens-imagine-that.html

What Became Of Obama’s ‘Hope?” Suddenly ‘Catastrophe’ Looms

February 6, 2009

Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared “we have chosen hope over fear.” Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill.

And so much for the promise to banish the money changers and influence peddlers from the temple. An ostentatious executive order banning lobbyists was immediately followed by the nomination of at least a dozen current or former lobbyists to high position. Followed by a Treasury secretary who allegedly couldn’t understand the payroll tax provisions in his 1040. Followed by Tom Daschle, who had to fall on his sword according to the new Washington rule that no Cabinet can have more than one tax delinquent.
.
By Charles Krauhammer

The Daschle affair was more serious because his offense involved more than taxes. As Michael Kinsley once observed, in Washington the real scandal isn’t what’s illegal, but what’s legal. Not paying taxes is one thing. But what made this case intolerable was the perfectly legal dealings that amassed Daschle $5.2 million in just two years.

He’d been getting $1 million per year from a law firm. But he’s not a lawyer, nor a registered lobbyist. You don’t get paid this kind of money to instruct partners on the Senate markup process. You get it for picking up the phone and peddling influence.

At least Tim Geithner, the tax-challenged Treasury secretary, had been working for years as a humble international civil servant earning non-stratospheric wages. Daschle, who had made another cool million a year (plus chauffeur and Caddy) for unspecified services to a pal’s private equity firm, represented everything Obama said he’d come to Washington to upend.

And yet more damaging to Obama’s image than all the hypocrisies in the appointment process is his signature bill: the stimulus package. He inexplicably delegated the writing to Nancy Pelosi and the barons of the House. The product, which inevitably carries Obama’s name, was not just bad, not just flawed, but a legislative abomination.

It’s not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It’s not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2009/02/05/AR2009020502766.html?hp
id=opinionsbox1

Obama Sorry For Daschle, Other Ethical Flaws; But Bigger Government Could Mean Worse

February 5, 2009

A United States president who admits a mistake is almost as rare as a Wall Street executive who refuses a bonus after losing money. When such humility strikes, it should be cheered to spur reform. But for a regretful Obama White House and a somewhat-rueful Wall Street, it’s still unclear what reforms lie ahead for each.

President Obama admitted Tuesday he made mistakes after two of his cabinet nominees, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, were forced to bow out because of revelations over their nonpayment of taxes. But what kind of mistakes?

Christian Science Monitor
Editorial Board

One was clear. “There aren’t two sets of rules,” he told NBC News, “one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”

Still, how should Americans square that new-found lesson on double standards with the fact that another tax-dodging nominee, Tim Geithner, was made Treasury secretary? Or that Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State despite her husband being allowed to accept money for his foundation from foreign governments that also make deals with the top US diplomat?

And what of the White House vetting process or that two Obama nominees are former lobbyists or that the president backed Mr. Daschle to the end?

For a politician who promised a high bar of ethics and a new era of responsibility, this president still has far to go to understand why it is so easy for many in Washington to claim immunity or a sense of entitlement not available or accepted by other Americans.

When the Senate salutes one of its own, Republican Ted Stevens, despite his felony conviction, or the House leaves Democrat Charles Rangel as head of its tax-writing committee despite his avoidance of taxes, such lapses of common sense erode faith in government.

It also makes people wary of bigger government with new programs such as universal healthcare. The more power that Washington commands, the more temptation there is for exploitation by special interests and revolving-door politicians. Daschle, for instance, was slated to head up healthcare reform even though he used his Senate tenure to advise that industry and make millions.

Read the rest:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0205
/p08s01-comv.html

Democratic Senator Calls Resignations from Obama Team “Awkward, Embarrassing, Troublesome”

February 3, 2009

Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska said today the resignation of two of President Obama’s nominees for top government posts was “awkward, embarrassing and troublesome.”

He said the vetting process for top jobs was “robust” but good people can still be forced to drop out.

“The process is working,” Nelson said.  “No one person is indispensible.”

Ben Nelson

Warning that a deep economic recession must be prevented from  “going into a depression,” Sen. Ben Nelson said Tuesday it’s urgent to stimulate job creation and protection.

“We can’t afford the old games of division and partisan politics,” the Democratic senator said.

What the country faces is “the most severe economic downturn in decades, and perhaps ever,” he warned.

“It’s a tough vote,” Nelson acknowledged, because people are “worried about borrowing money to stimulate the economy.”

Related:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/02/03/
daschle-withdraws/

 Daschle Out; Major Obama Setback

 Daschle Passes Point of No Return; Now Major Embarrassment to Obama

Obama White House Defends Stimulus, Ethics Rules, Lobbyist-Nominees

February 3, 2009

Two of President Barack Obama’s top nominees withdrew their named from consideration today because of tax irregularities.

Tom Daschle, the nominee as Secretary of HHS, and Nancy Killefer, who President Obama named to be the nation’s first chief performance officer, have both said they, in the past, failed to pay their taexes in full.

The current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner also had that problem but his nomination was confirmed by the senate.

In the senate today, the president’s economic stimulus plan is being debated.

The White House invited several national journalists to interview President Obama today on the stimulus but questions about ethics are also expected….

******

Despite the tax problems faced by high-level nominees, and the exceptions made to the no-lobbyists pledge, President Barack Obama’s spokesman is defending the administration’s ethical standards.

Robert Gibbs told reporters Tuesday, “The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs the press at ... 
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs the press at the White House in Washington, January 22, 2009.(Larry Downing/Reuters)

During a briefing filled with questions about Tom Daschle’s decision to withdraw from consideration to be Health and Human Services secretary, Gibbs pointed to experts who describe the administration’s ethics rules as the strongest in history.

He also said those experts recognized that Obama would need to make exceptions to his pledge to run an administration free of former lobbyists.

Obama’s choice to become the No. 2 official at the Defense Department recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. And his choice as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, lobbied through most of last year as an anti-tobacco advocate.