March 2015, Part 3
Jim Miller on Politics
Another EB-5 Visa Scandal: First, a review from the Wikipedia article.
The EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area - high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family. Initially, under the first EB-5 program, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the Pilot Program investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing - "Troubled Business"), or into a "Regional Center" - a 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor's investment.(Which is accurate, as far as I know.)
You don't have to be an expert on investment, or government, to see weaknesses in this program. If there is a good business opportunity in a "Targeted Employment Area", then there is no need to pass out visas to encourage investors, even foreign investors, who can just send money. If the bureaucrats try to enforce the provisions of the law, then the approval is likely to be delayed for years, at a time when many investors think in months, not years.
But there can be a way for people with the right connections to speed up matters, and that's what the Virginia governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, is accused of doing.
Not long before he became governor of Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe received special treatment on behalf of his electric-car company from a top official at the Department of Homeland Security, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.Those who have followed McAuliffe's career, even casually, will find nothing surprising in this story.
Mayorkas appears to have been rewarded for his efforts. Which tells us something about the Obama administration.
(For the record: I have long thought that we should simply abolish this program, that it makes no sense economically, and is subject to abuses, of many kinds.
His Wikipedia biography will show you why I am not surprised to see McAuliffe in still another scandal.)
- 8:28 AM, 25 March 2015 [link]
Good Line, Mitt.
While discussing his upcoming charity boxing match with former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield on Fox News, Romney said, “I can fight anybody so long as Candy Crowley isn’t the referee.”(This Wikipedia biography makes Crowley sound a little odd.)
- 3:20 PM, 24 March 2015 [link]
The House Of Representatives Delivered A Resounding Vote Of No Confidence In President Obama's Policies Toward Iran: The letter cautioning Obama was signed by 367 members of the House, a more than two-thirds majority.
The reproof was bipartisan; majorities of both parties signed the letter. Many prominent Democrats signed, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Chairwoman of the National Democratic Party Debbie Wasserman Schultz, civil rights hero John Lewis, and far-left congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.
Not all Republicans signed the letter. I was not surprised, for instance, that Justin Amash did not sign.
You can look at the signatures to see whether your representative signed the letter; you can even, as I just did, look to see who in your state's delegation signed.
For Washington state, there are eight signers, in order: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, 5th), Suzan DelBene (D, 1st), Derek Kilmer (D, 6th), Rick Larsen (D, 2nd), Dave Reichert (R, 8th), Dan Newhouse (R, 4th), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R, 3rd), and Denny Heck (D, 10th).
In this area, I don't know of any local journalists who will ask our representatives why they signed, or why they did not sign. That's unfortunate, because the decision to sign, or not sign, is one of the most important in this Congress, and voters should know why their representatives chose to reprove — or to back — President Obama's increasingly reckless efforts to get an agreement, any agreement, with Iran.
Cross posted at Sound Politics.
(If you haven't already, you really should read the brief letter. It's polite — and powerful.)
- 8:42 AM, 24 March 2015
Correction: Derek Kilmer did sign the letter, which makes more sense, from what I know about the 6th district. Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for spotting the name, which I had somehow missed, on three separate readings of the list. I've corrected the text above.
- 6:41 AM, 25 March 2015 [link]
Worth Reading: (Though I must warn you that you may find it difficult to read her description of the massacre; I certainly did.) Kathy Platoni's Wall Street Journal op-ed, "The Army’s Fort Hood Disgrace".
The Army knew that Nidal Hasan was dangerous, and did nothing. And then after the massacre the Army protected those who had failed, while doing little for his victims.
Both an instructor and a colleague referred to Hasan as a “ticking time bomb.” But his shocking conduct was ignored. Officer-evaluation reports “sanitized his obsession with violent Islamist extremism into praiseworthy research on counterterrorism,” a 2011 congressional review states. Political correctness, to which the military continues to bow, led many to fear that reporting Hasan would result in career-ending charges of racial or religious discrimination.Thanks to congressional pressure, the victims are now finally getting some of what they are entitled to.
Although Platoni doesn't mention him, there is no doubt that President Obama deserves some of the blame for the way the Army protected those who had failed, and failed those it should have protected.
But we must also recognize that the FBI and the Defense Department should have detected and removed this threat while George W. Bush was president.
- 6:48 PM, 23 March 2015 [link]
The Great Unanswered Question About The Oso Mud Slide: Yesterday, I looked through my posts on Oso and was struck by one unanswered question: Why did Snohomish County ignore the dangers in the area?
As I mentioned last April, they were told, by experts, that the area was dangerous. But they did not act on a proposal to buy out the home owners in the threatened area. Instead, they continued to issue building permits in the area.
I suspect, though I have no direct evidence of this, that we know so little because some of those who know more have clammed up — on the advice of attorneys.
And there are, no surprise, lawsuits about the mud slide coming to our courts.
But it is also possible that our local journalists simply aren't asking the questions I would ask about the tragedy.
- 2:41 PM, 23 March 2015 [link]
The Troy Kelley Plot "Thickens" Last Monday, as I mentioned on Thursday, federal agents raided the home of the Washington state auditor, Democrat Troy Kelley, and searched it for about five hours. (Kelley was away on vacation at the time.)
Area journalists have been trying to find out what this is all about, and strongly suspect that Kelley is in trouble for business dealings that led to a federal civil suit.
Kelley has maintained a fairly low-profile as state auditor since taking office in 2013. He was elected after a campaign during which his opponent dredged up past lawsuits and allegations of misappropriated funds. It all related to Kelley’s work in the real estate title and escrow business.I am no expert on the escrow business, but that does sound a little unusual. (I don't know what Austin Jenkins means by "linked to", though I can think of some possibilities.)
The federal authorities are especially interested in a long-time associate of Kelley's, Jason Jerue.
Eleven days before federal agents searched state Auditor Troy Kelley’s Tacoma home on March 16, they demanded records related to a state employee and longtime business partner of Kelley’s whose name appears in an acrimonious lawsuit tied to Kelley’s past business dealings.Could that "former employee" be the person who triggered this investigation? Quite possibly.
In 2012, James Watkins, Kelley's Republican opponent, tried to raise these issues, but was unable to get much attention from our journalists.
For those unfamiliar with Washington state politics, I should add that large financial scandals are unusual here. (Small ones are fairly common in Seattle.) In fact, one local reporter went back to 1980 and "gamscam" in his search for a possible parallel.
(For the record: Kelley is proclaiming his innocence, and says he is fully cooperating with federal authorities.
There's not much in this stub Wikipedia article, but I would guess that he earned a law degree from Buffalo, given his position in the National Guard.)
- 1:59 PM, 23 March 2015 [link]
The First "Bush Boy" Announces For President: By "Bush Boy" I mean the candidates who got their start, or a big boost, by working for or with a member of the Bush family. And by that standard, Ted Cruz is a definitely a Bush Boy.
Between 1999 and 2003, Cruz served as the director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, an associate deputy attorney general at the United States Department of Justice, and as domestic policy advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush on the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.Cruz was appointed Texas solicitor general by Greg Abbott, a long-time Bush ally.
You may not want to share this thought with people who get their political ideas from Matt Drudge.
(For fun, you may want to try to identify more "Bush Boys" who are likely to run for president. Jeb Bush is the easiest, but there are others.)
- 10:48 AM, 23 March 2015 [link]
It's Been One Year Since The Deadly Oso Mud Slide: If you need a review, this Wikipedia article is a good place to start.
On Saturday, March 22, 2014, at 10:37 a.m. local time, a major landslide occurred 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Oso, Washington, United States, when a portion of an unstable hill collapsed, sending mud and debris across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, engulfing a rural neighborhood, and covering an area of approximately 1 square mile (2.6 km2). Forty-three people were killed.Tomorrow, I may have more on what we have learned in the year since the disaster.
- 6:32 PM, 22 March 2015 [link]
Yes, The World Is Getting More Violent: After decades of getting more peaceful.
If you were watching the news last year, it was hard to escape the impression the world was falling apart. Now the data is in. And yes, it turns out the world’s most violent conflicts got a lot bloodier in 2014 — almost 30 percent bloodier, in fact.Reuters correspondent Peter Apps seems befuddled by this increasing violence.
I'm not; it's what I expected when the Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, and what I predicted when Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
Nor is the pattern of increasing violence hard to understand. For decades, the United States was the "world's policeman", keeping order in much of the world. The modern Democratic Party is not comfortable with that role — understandably, since a policeman's lot is not a happy one — and has been trying to get us to give it up.
When policemen go on strike, or even start slacking off, crime, including violent crime, usually increases.
That's not too hard to understand, is it?
(For the record: I'd much rather some other nation, or group of nations, police the world. But I don't see any that are willing and able to do what the United States has done since World War II.)
- 5:18 PM, 22 March 2015 [link]
The Clintons And Obama Show How An Endless Pursuit Of Office Can Distort A Person: Jim Geraghty thinks that the Clintons are motivated by both power and money, but that President Obama is motivated mostly by a desire for power.
The Clintons had enormous power, and considerable wealth. But mere considerable wealth wasn’t enough; they wanted enormous wealth. Mogul wealth.I think Geraghty is right about the difference in motivations.
- 3:40 PM, 22 March 2015 [link]
Professor Althouse For Mayor! (Of Madison, Wisconsin.)
She is better qualified, by one traditional standard, than either of the two principal contenders, as we can see from her reply in this comment:
"Write yourself in, Ann..."Which was traditionally considered almost a requirement for office. A candidate was supposed to reluctantly accept the wishes of the people, while pretending that he would really rather be doing something else. It was common, for instance, for candidates not to attend the presidential nominating conventions until after they had won the nomination.
We don't see such sentiments often these days; we don't even see many candidates pretend that they are not seeking office.
And that is, I think, unfortunate. We could use a few more elected officials who are serving because they think it their duty, and a few less who are fulfilling their lifetime ambitions.
(For the record: I am joking, mostly, about her being mayor. From what I can tell from her posts, she is a decent person, who does not deserve to be punished by having to serve as mayor, especially of that politically correct city. But she might be better for the city than the incumbent, Paul Soglin, or his principal challenger, Scott Resnick.
You can get some of the flavor of politics in Madison from Resnick's title; in most cities he would be a councilman or alderman, but in Madison he is a non-sexist "alder". And they don't mean the tree.)
- 3:19 PM, 22 March 2015 [link]
Bipartisan House Majority Opposes Obama's Iran Policies: That isn't the headline The Hill used on this story.
A bipartisan letter on Iran signed by 360 members of Congress will be sent to President Obama on Thursday, one of its House signers said.But it could have been.
There are 435 members of the House. In the 2014 election, Republicans won 247 seats, Democrats, 188. If we assume that 240 Republicans signed that letter, which is a reasonable guess, then Democrats must have provided the other 120 signatures. So almost two-thirds of the House Democrats signed that letter.
But, whatever the exact numbers, we can be certain that majorities of both parties signed that letter; both parties reminded Obama of some limits to his negotiating power. (And reminded the Iranian regime that dropping permanent sanctions will have to pass the US Congress.)
The letter was drafted by two party leaders (or, their staffs), the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, and the ranking Democrat, Eliot Engel.
Royce and Engel don't agree on much else, which makes their cooperation even more striking.
(Here's their press release, along with the text of the letter. It's just six paragraphs long, and definitely worth reading.)
- 4:21 PM, 21 March 2015
Update: The total number of signers is now up to 367, which slightly strengthens my argument. The first four signers are Ed Royce, Eliot Engel, Speaker John Boehner, and the second ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. The article includes the letter and all the signers, so you can check to see if your own member signed. Note that the layout is carefully — and, I am sure, intentionally — bipartisan.
- 3:26 PM, 23 March 2015 [link]
Yes, Hillary Clinton Did Say That American Adults Need Time At Camp, Too: But she was speaking to camp associations, so that's understandable.
On the other hand, I'll admit that I find it more than a little bit creepy to have Hillary Clinton talking about a "fun deficit".
There are many adjectives, some of them positive, I could apply to her, but "fun" is not one of them.
- 12:53 PM, 20 March 2015 [link]
Joke Or Threat? While browsing through Bob Dole's Great Political Wit, I came across a joke that Hillary Clinton had used at a National Prayer Luncheon:
In the Bible, it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said seventy times seven. Well, I want you all to know that I'm keeping a chart. (p. 120)Well, that is funny, though perhaps inappropriate for that event. But I think the answer to my question is joke and threat.
(The book is pretty good. I think most people who are interested in politics would find jokes and stories in it that they liked.)
- 8:03 AM, 20 March 2015 [link]
Washington State Auditor Audited: Rather forcefully.
Agents from the U.S. Treasury Department served a search warrant Monday at the Tacoma home of state Auditor Troy Kelley, according to information obtained by The News Tribune.He's a Democrat, though the article doesn't mention that.
The raid took place when Kelley was out of town. Deliberately, perhaps?
Treasury agents suggest that he may have a tax problem, though that isn't the only possibility>
(The comments following the article are definitely worth reading. I regret to say that I can not give you any evidence, one way or another, on the charges made in the comments.)
- 1:35 PM, 19 March 2015 [link]
Whenever I Think About The Difficulties Of Negotiating With Nasty Regimes, I think about the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact, more formally the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which led directly to World War II.
And, of course, about the famous David Low cartoon, published weeks after the pact, and after the invasion of Poland.
Not so incidentally, Low was attacked for his views before World War II.
His works are featured in many British history textbooks. One of Low's most famous cartoons, Rendezvous, was first published in the Evening Standard on 20 September 1939. It satirises the cynicism which lay at the heart of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, depicting Hitler and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin bowing politely before each other after their joint invasion of Poland, but nevertheless greeting each other respectively as "the scum of the earth" and "the bloody assassin of the workers". On 1 September, the Germans invaded Poland from the west and, on 17 September, the Soviets invaded from the east.(Emphasis added.)
The pact is usually seen as a victory for Hitler, which it was, short term. But I think you can argue that Stalin won, in the long run.
(You can find many David Low cartoons with an image search on his name.)
- 8:53 AM, 19 March 2015 [link]
Jonah Goldberg Restates The Obvious about the Iranian regime.
It has been an Iranian tradition since 1979 to end Friday prayers with chants of “Death to America!”As George Orwell famously wrote, sometimes ". . . the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."
We can be grateful to Goldberg for restating the obvious, in his defense of Senator Tom Cotton, but we ought also to think seriously about the difficulties of negotiating with Iran (and similar regimes).
It is not impossible to negotiate, productively, with such regimes, but you must have negotiators who are exceptionally well informed and skillful. Alas, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are neither — but seem unaware of their deficiencies.
- 8:20 AM, 19 March 2015 [link]
It's Not Important, Or Surprising, but it is interesting to learn that Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother, cared about the color of Barack Obama's skin, as well as the content of his character.
A new biography of Michelle Obama has revealed that her mother was initially suspicious of her future son-in-law because he was of mixed race.In the 20 second video that the Daily Mail includes in the article, Robinson says: "I guess that I worry about race mixing because of the difficulties", not out of "prejudice".
Of course it doesn't have to be one or the other.
(I find these tidbits interesting because, whatever it may have been in the beginning, the Obama marriage now reminds me of one of those arranged royal marriages that were once so common in Europe (and elsewhere). Sometimes the couples in those marriages couldn't stand each other, sometimes they tolerated each other, sometimes they liked each other, and, very rarely, they loved each other. But the marriages tended to be stable, as long as the political situation that produced them was stable.)
- 7:09 AM, 19 March 2015 [link]
How Bad Have Things Gotten in Venezuela? So bad that even major league baseball teams are pulling out.
After 15 years of having a recruitment center in the country, the Seattle Mariners are packing their bags and leaving town for the Dominican Republic.They aren't leaving because there is a lack of baseball talent in Venezuela; they are leaving because there is a lack of law and order.
(Venezuela has about three times as many people as the Dominican Republic.)
- 1:57 PM, 18 March 2015 [link]
Andrew Malcolm's Weekly Collection of jokes.
Vladimir Putin's unexplained absence drew some attention from the joke writers.
Conan: Vladimir Putin is back in public after a mysterious 10-day absence. Putin said, “It took me that long to recover from ‘The Bachelor’ finale.”Those two are as good explanations as most of the others I've seen.
There were two other jokes that I especially liked:
The staff exodus in this administration has begun. Pretty soon, the only one left reporting to Valerie Jarrett will be President Obama.But that's probably just my partisanship showing.
(I'm not sure what prompted the jokes about "The Bachelor". I'm compulsive enough so that I actually did a brief search, but didn't find an obvious answer.)
- 1:17 PM, 18 March 2015 [link]
Netanyahu's Party Won 23 Percent of The Israeli Vote; Netanyahu's Party Won A "Crushing Victory" The first is certainly true; the second is the opinion of the Times of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party was the clear winner in Tuesday’s election, a near-final tally showed early Wednesday morning, defeating the Zionist Union by a margin of some six seats.(I would probably say "solid", rather than "crushing", but I am no expert on Israeli politics.)
That combination may seem strange to Americans, who are used to plurality elections where a victory to be "crushing" usually requires at least 55 percent of the popular vote.
But it makes sense in a proportional system, like Israel's. Netanyahu's new coalition government is likely to be a bit larger than his previous coalition — and that's what counts.
(Carl Bialik and Harry Enten (who are both pretty good with numbers) missed badly in their prediction. The Huffpollster(s) says the pre-election polls weren't as bad as some people are saying.)
- 8:11 AM, 18 March 2015 [link]
The Least Transparent Administration Ever? That might be too strong, but the Obama administration is certainly the least transparent in recent years.
For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.Administration spokesman Josh Earnest said: "We actually do have a lot to brag about."
And, in a perverse way, he's right.
(The leaders of the Associated Press have had it with the Obama administration, and for good reason. One of the breaking points was when Obama decided that photographs from inside the White House could come only from official White House photographers.)
- 6:32 AM, 18 March 2015 [link]
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
And if you would like to go beyond the green beer, the pinches for those not wearing green, the rivers dyed green, and, this year, the complaints that those who celebrate a particular kind of sins are not allowed in all the parades, you may want to read this Wikipedia biography of the saint. We know little about the man for certain, but what little we do know is fascinating.
(Recycled from 2008, and if you still haven't read that article on St. Patrick, let me urge you to do so.)
- 3:01 PM, 17 March 2015 [link]
Two Reactions From Leftists On Ferguson: Yesterday evening, I said that pragmatic leftists would drop Ferguson now that the story had been spoiled by the shootings of the police, and the arrest of one of the demonstrators, Jeffrey Williams.
Today, the Washington Post published a column by Jonathan Capehart, in which he gives up on Ferguson because "'Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie".
What DOJ found made me ill. Wilson knew about the theft of the cigarillos from the convenience store and had a description of the suspects. Brown fought with the officer and tried to take his gun. And the popular hands-up storyline, which isn’t corroborated by ballistic and DNA evidence and multiple witness statements, was perpetuated by Witness 101. In fact, just about everything said to the media by Witness 101, whom we all know as Dorian Johnson, the friend with Brown that day, was not supported by the evidence and other witness statements.(DOJ = Department of Justice. Capehart is referring to one of two recent reports on Ferguson, specifically the one that exonerated — let me repeat that — exonerated Officer Darren Wilson.)
Capehart does not mention the shooting of the two officers, nor the arrest of Jeffrey Williams, but I suspect those events help explain the timing of his column.
And Capehart is quite frank about his desire for another story that will support his conclusions.
In contrast, as I also predicted, radical leftists are not planning to give up on Ferguson. It is too good a story for them — even though it happens not to be true.
(Kudos to Capehart for naming the source of many of the falsehoods.)
- 12:27 PM, 17 March 2015 [link]
Interested In The Israeli Election? Here's the Wikipedia scorecard.
Which will, as they warn you, change as the returns come in.
I don't have any special insight into the election, so I will just remind you that Israel has a relatively pure form of proportional representation. Israelis vote for party lists, not individual candidates.
In past elections that system sometimes gave small parties great power.
The use of multiple-member districts enables a greater variety of candidates to be elected. The more representatives per district and the lower the minimum threshold of votes required for election the more minor parties can gain representation. In emerging democracies, inclusion of minorities in the legislature can be essential for social stability and to consolidate the democratic process.:58To make that less likely, the Israelis raised the threshold.
The 120 seats in the Knesset are elected by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral threshold for the 2013 elections was 2%, but on 11 March 2014 the Knesset voted to raise the threshold to 3.25%. The change may exclude many of the smaller parties, and could result in some mergers. The vote was boycotted by the opposition. In almost all cases, this is equivalent to a minimum party size of four seats, but on rare occasions a party can end up with three.Which, no surprise, made many smaller parties join in alliances.
There are also "surplus-vote" agreements covering most of the major parties.
(I don't know what happens if two coalitions form, each with 60 votes.)
- 5:30 AM, 17 March 2015 [link]