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Lead makes you stupid

23 Jan
Published Thursday on Breitbart.

While in Detroit rallying union members yesterday President Obama made a statement that the water crisis in nearby Flint, Michigan, where government water authorities have knowingly supplied 100,000 residents with unhealthy, high lead level water, demonstrated the need for more government.

It followed a week of Democrats calling for the resignation of Michigan’s Republican Governor for not solving the problem sooner.  And blaming the crisis on Republican penny pinching.

As it turns out, many levels of government, and politicians and bureaucrats of both parties, have known that Flint residents were being supplied with poisonous water for months, including officials at the EPA.

The reason the crisis is happening is that politicians have incentives to defer maintenance and upgrades on infrastructure and instead spend public funds, even to the point of bankruptcy, on buying votes, especially from organized special interests like unions, with programs like luxurious pensions or bail outs of failing corporations.  Like the unions Obama was in Detroit to rally.  The result is that citizens, in the words of analyst Mark Aesch, “are paying Ritz Carlton level taxes and getting Bates Motel quality government”.

One aspect of the story that has gone uncovered is that it isn’t new.  It’s a repeat of a very similar event that happened only 12 years ago.

In 2004, Washington, D.C.. was discovered to have been serving up high lead content water to its residents and to some neighboring communities like Falls Church, Virginia, that used water from its municipal water authority.  During that crisis, where it was discovered that the water authority, WASA,  had fired their own scientist, Seema Bhat, when she started to inform the EPA of the high lead levels, and the almost all Democrat D.C. City council spent weeks distributing bottled water and water filters to pregnant women and families with small children, held many CYA hearings, and tore up most city streets and replaced water pipes for almost two years, there was discussion that the problem of high lead levels in public water systems was probably ubiquitous and that the EPA does nothing to monitor it proactively.

Back then D.C. had a luxury Flint doesn’t have, a booming economy based on an expanding federal workforce paid for with taxes from the rest of the country.  D.C. was adding 1,000 highly paid bureaucrats and lobbyists to its population monthly, and they were driving up real estate prices about 25% annually.  The local government was taking in income and property taxes and replaced its lead water pipes and also built a new $800 million convention center.

Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and other alternatives to the mainstream media didn’t exist in 2004.  Journalists didn’t hold negligent Democrats accountable.  But the D.C. government did still feel the need to spin the story and avoid law suits from those damaged.  It hired a silk stocking corporate attorney as its spin meister.  His name? Eric Holder.

So what Democrats normally do when caught poisoning their subjects with lead water is (1) not learn from the crisis, and (2) reward their PR flaks with high level presidential appointments.  Holder must think the water is safe now.  He just bought a one and a half million dollar condo in downtown D.C.

Vanita Gupta loves her some black folk

20 May

Vanita Gupta, the Eric Holder hire charged with investigating racism in Ferguson, Missouri, became a bête noir of the conservative blogosphere this week for blaming all criminality and anti-social behavior on slavery.

As a Democratic Party minion, this is much more convenient for her than blaming the problems of black America on the dependency created by the welfare state, the unemployment created by the regulatory state, or by the erosion of human capital created by Ms. Gupta’s party’s ongoing tribute to its slavery-loving past, the kidnapping of poor black and brown children to be sold to the educrat cartels in exchange for donations to Democratic Party campaigns.

Ms. Gupta may actually have more sympathy for African Americans than her former boss, Eric Holder.  He actually worked for the DC based law firm back in 2004 that spun the story for the city government when it was discovered that DC had been supplying its (mainly black) children and pregnant women with high lead content water (along with poisoning the rest of the city).  In contrast Gupta around the same time was defending poor black people in Texas against the drug war.

But how much Gupta will achieve in “working across the aisle” on criminal justice reform with libertarian leaning Congresspeople remains to be seen.  Her biographies seem to make her the walking stereotype of the West Side socialist gal played by Carol Kane in a Woody Allen movie.  She may not write her own bios but they are heavy on how she was a women’s studies major in college and how “racists” (or perhaps just unemployed and disenfranchised) lower class British whites threw french fries at her and called her a Paki as a child.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about Gupta, is that like almost every single “progressive” in the news (including those who work in the media), who almost all live in Chevy Chase (Chris Matthews) or Bethesda (Cokie Roberts) in suburban Maryland, or in DC neighborhoods like Kent or Berkeley (Andrea Mitchell, Jay Carney) that are so wealthy most long term DC residents have never heard of them, Gupta has demonstrated preferences in her residential real estate choices.  She didn’t buy a house in up-and-coming LeDroit Park, Bloomingdale, Trinidad, or Anacostia, and send her child to a charter school with an African American majority or large minority.  She bought a $1.4 million home on Clarendon‘s Highland Street in zip code 22201, where her neighbors include Chuck Todd (in the minimally more diverse zipcode adjacent, 22203), and, as virtually her only black neighbors, MSNBC regular/Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson’s family.

Lifestyles of the Tax Predator Ruling Class – the D.C. Ritz Carlton

1 Aug

Several buildings in D.C. are home to our richest ruling class tax predators, living in multimillion dollar loft penthouses, paid for with your money.  Senator Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Eric Holder just bought new ones in the brand new City Center condos at 9th and H Streets NW downtown near the Cato Institute on 10th Street and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform on 12th.  Congresscritter Nancy Pelosi lives in one at Washington Harbor at 3030 K Street NW with a view of the Potomac River, the Key Bridge, and the Kennedy Center.

Senator Harry Reid lives in a $750,000 one bedroom at the Ritz Carlton (1155 23rd Street NW DC 20037) he bought in 2001 down on the second floor in apartment N2E (I’m sure it is large and has two baths and two garage spaces) across the street from my own more modest home.  (And it’s OK for me to post Harry’s exact address – he spends your tax money on several large black SUVs full of men who park downstairs all day and sometimes threaten tourists who take photos on the block.) He’s not alone – mortgage crisis villain Franklin Raines lives there, as does libertarianish former Governor of Puerto Rico Luis Fortuno (now a Steptoe and Johnson lawyer in what for DC passes as the private sector).  Federal Express also seems to own the largest unit, over 6,000 square feet, as a corporate executive suite.

It remains a question how “public servants” like Reid and some of the others come up with this kind of scratch.  Buying cheap property and using political connections to change the zoning laws so it becomes more valuable is often the way, as well as getting your spouse a high paid lobbyist job by telling a law firm or corporation to hire them…if they know what’s good for them….

InTheCapital, an interesting local blog, reports that someone is selling a penthouse there for $7.6 million.  It’s not in the local multiple listing system.  It may be a pocket listing with the listing broker, who claims the unit is 5600+ square feet and last sold for $5.5 million.  There are only three units over 5,000 sq ft at 1155 23rd Street NW (the one of the two Ritz buildings that this unit is supposed to be in), according to property tax records.  One is the FedEx unit, one is Franklin Raines’s condo, and one belongs to a couple who are not public personalities.  But the tax records and the multiple listing system have nothing that sold for $5.5 million in 2012, and even a private sale that long ago should be in the property tax records.  So it is unclear if this unit belongs to Raines, the private couple, or someone else.  But you can see my balcony, across the intersection, from their balcony.  I think it probably isn’t the Raines unit, which I think has a private roofdeck which these peeps aren’t promoting or claiming.

Your tax dollars at work in DC real estate

18 Apr
Eric Holder just bought a $1.5 million condo this month at the new City Center development at 10th and H Streets NW, located between the White House and the Capitol.  Senator Claire McCaskill bought one for $2.7 million last month.

Your tax dollars at work!


Open living rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows that draw on different exposures to maximize natural light. Foster + Partners’ signature solar shades on the building façade provide light control. Northern European white oak flooring further enhances the open, natural feel of the space.


Created as an extension of the living space, the Molteni kitchen cabinetry has been designed to evoke the feeling of high quality furniture, blending the spaces together seamlessly.


Designed with an innovative “dual bathroom” concept, the bathrooms have the ability to function as a separate powder room for guests. This configuration makes these areas highly versatile.


All homes provide the ability for residents to extend their living space outdoors through terraces, balconies or Juliet balconies.

Holder pressed on U.S. drug agency use of hidden data evidence

27 Aug

By John Shiffman
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.
The August report revealed that a secretive DEA unit passes the NSA information to agents in the field, including those from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and Homeland Security, with instructions to never disclose the original source, even in court. In most cases, the NSA tips involve drugs, money laundering and organized crime, not terrorism.
Five Democrats in the Senate and three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee submitted questions to Holder about the NSA-DEA relationship, joining two prominent Republicans who have expressed concerns. The matter will be discussed during classified briefings scheduled for September, Republican and Democratic aides said.
“These allegations raise serious concerns that gaps in the policy and law are allowing overreach by the federal government’s intelligence gathering apparatus,” wrote the senators – Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Holder, an appointee of U.S. President Barack Obama, is the country’s top lawman as head of the Justice Department. The Justice Department is reviewing the congressional inquiry, a spokesman for Holder said on Monday.
The Reuters reports cited internal documents that show how DEA’s Special Operations Division funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
The documents show that agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin – to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information, raising questions about whether exculpatory information might be withheld from defendants at trial.
The internal documents describe the process of recreating the evidence trail to omit any reference to the Special Operations Division as “parallel construction.” For example, agents said in interviews, they act as if a drug investigation began with a traffic stop for speeding or a broken taillight, instead of a tip passed from the NSA. An IRS document describes a similar process for tax agency investigators.
Justice Department officials have said they are reviewing the matter. DEA officials have said the practice is legal and has been in near-daily use since the 1990s. The purpose is to protect sources and methods, not to withhold evidence, they said.
The three congressmen – John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Jerrold Nadler of New York and Bobby Scott of Virginia – wrote to Holder on August 9, shortly after the original Reuters report.
“If this report is accurate, then it describes an unacceptable breakdown in the barrier between foreign intelligence surveillance and criminal process,” the congressmen wrote.
On the CBS program Face the Nation on August 18, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, a Republican, said the use of NSA intelligence to make non-terrorism cases should be scrutinized. “I think we need to have a very careful examination of this. I think that the trust of the American people in their government is what’s at stake here,” he said.
(Editing by Howard Goller and Mohammad Zargham

Adam Kokesh vs Restore the Fourth

5 Jul

So while a number of libertarians were speaking at the Restore the Fourth rally in DC’s downtown McPherson Square, freshly re-sod from the Occupy occupation of a year or so ago, and others were at the annual marijuana decriminalization rally nearby that happens every July 4th, everyone’s favorite kinda-hot-and-hunky-but-is-he-crazy Ron Paulista former marine, Adam Kokesh, was locking and loading a gun and video taping it elsewhere in DC.  He had originally planned a big march across one of the bridges connecting Virginia to DC, with 2500 armed protesters, which got him a spot on FOX News debating Juan Williams, and a lot of police and political attention, threats, and warnings.  [It also sparked a lot of talk among liberty movement people about whether Kokesh is crazy, a government plant, counter-productive, an avatar of radical libertarianism, etc., and provoked another local libertarian, who like Kokesh and myself is sometimes totally unfairly labelled a publicity hound, Austin Petersen, to organize a July 3rd Toy Gun march on DC, which I really meant to attend and video, but inclement weather made me think no one would be there).]

I don’t usually comment in a very judgmental way about Mr. Kokesh’s street theater or general oeuvre.  I am not wholly against it as some are, though I understand why it may keep him out of certain areas of the liberty movement, just as my snark and bawdiness may keep me out of many things that I would be good at if I weren’t scaring away the libertarian horses.

But Adam did facilitate in the media blackout, or rather the American media blackout, of the Restore The Fourth rallies.  The local hipster website DCist managed to cover Adam loading a gun, but I believe ignored the Restore the Fourth rallies (they did report weeks ago that the rallies were planned).  I was at the DC Restore the Fourth and video taped (posted below) the major speakers including the major libertarian speakers, and then repaired to a nearby pub afterwards for beer and apps with two of the libertarian speakers, several attendees and one journalist friend.  They confirmed that almost all the media interviewing speakers at Restore the Fourth were foreign media.  Not American outlets.  I guess Eric Holder’s DOJ surveillance of journalists has had its desired effect.

(One exception is Julie Ershadi, whose piece will load up later today at The Fix.)

House schedules contempt vote against Holder

11 Jun

bySusan Ferrechio Chief Congressional Correspondent

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill on June 7 before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
House Republicans say they have run out of patience with the Justice Department over its withholding of documents related to the gun walking operation known as Fast and Furious.
The House Oversight and Government reform committee announced Monday that it will vote on a “contempt of Congress” motion against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “for his failure to produce documents” related to the department’s knowledge of Fast and Furious, which the panel subpoenaed in October.
The announcement ends a brief detente between the two branches over Fast and Furious. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tried to stave off a contempt vote by pressuring the White House directly to turn over thousands of pages of documents, but the Justice Department has not complied.
Aides told The Washington Examiner that the committee’s statement could be a last-ditch effort to get Holder to cough up the documents. The statement includes this line: “If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary.”
Last week, Holder and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., engaged in an angry exchange over the documents at a hearing, with Holder telling Issa he believes the department has released enough information. Issa responded by telling Holder, “You’re not a good witness.”
The panel is stacked in favor of Republicans, 22 to 16, so it’s likely the committee will vote Holder in contempt, but it remains unclear where the charge will go beyond Issa’s committee.
While Boehner backs the inquiry, he may not want to take the next step of having the full House vote on the contempt charge against Holder. Such charges are rarely prosecuted even when Congress agrees to hold a witness in contempt and Boehner has said repeatedly he wants the party to be focused on the economy in the months leading up to November’s pivotal election.
Boehner issued a statement Monday warning Holder that Congress is prepared to act
“The Justice Department is out of excuses. Congress has given Attorney General Holder more than enough time to fully cooperate with its investigation into ‘Fast and Furious,’” Boehner said. “Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the Attorney General in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.”
Here’s the full statement from House Oversight:
“For over a year and a half, the House Oversight Committee, with Senator Chuck Grassley, has conducted a joint investigation of reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious. With the support of House leadership, the Republican Conference, and even some Democratic Members who have expressed concern to the White House over the Justice Department’s failure to cooperate, this investigation has yielded significant results. The Attorney General has acknowledged that the operation was fundamentally flawed and he has committed to take steps to ensure that it does not occur again. Evidence found in applications for wiretaps shows that although senior officials were given information about reckless tactics, they still signed affirmations that they had reviewed the investigation and determined that electronic surveillance of phones was necessary.
“Despite what the investigation has uncovered through whistleblowers and documents the Justice Department had tried to hide, the Committee’s work is not yet complete.  Attorney General Holder has failed to meet his legal obligations pursuant to the October 12 subpoena.  House leaders reiterated this failure in a May 18, 2012, letter. Specifically, the Justice Department has refused to turn over critical documents on the grounds that they show internal Department deliberations and were created after February 4, 2011 – the date Justice issued a false denial to Congress.  Contempt will focus on the failure to provide these post February 4th documents.
 “The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them.  These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics.  The Justice Department’s actions have obstructed the investigation. Congress has an obligation to investigate unanswered questions about attempts to smear whistleblowers, failures by Justice Department officials to be truthful and candid with the congressional investigation, and the reasons for the significant delay in acknowledging reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious.
 “While the Justice Department can still stop the process of contempt, this will only occur through the delivery of the post February 4, 2011, documents related to Operation Fast and Furious and whistleblower accusations subpoenaed by the Committee.  If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary.”
 Committee consideration of a contempt citation is a debatable and amendable measure.  Committee approval requires a majority vote.  Contempt is a process for enforcing compliance with a lawful subpoena and does not assign blame for the flawed and reckless conduct that took place in Operation Fast and Furious.