The Wheels Of Justice Sometimes Turn Very Slowly

Yesterday The Washington Post reported the following:

The FBI on Wednesday arrested two former senior officials who served in administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, leading the chair of the House committee that oversees Puerto Rico to call for the governor to step down.

The arrests also spurred concerns on Capitol Hill about the billions of dollars in aid that Congress has approved for the island.

The federal indictment says the former officials illegally directed federal funding to politically-connected contractors. The arrests come about a month after Congress approved a controversial disaster aid bill that earmarked additional funding for Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which were tied up in part because President Trump called Puerto Rico’s officials “incompetent or corrupt.”

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the Natural Resource Committee that oversees Puerto Rico, called on Rosselló to resign amid the ongoing federal investigation.

The article concludes:

The arrests come as senior White House officials are searching for new ways to limit the amount of federal aid going to help Puerto Rico, and the island’s allies fear the arrests will give Trump greater justification for curtailing additional aid to the island.

“The governor of Puerto Rico and his administration have now given President Trump the ammunition he needed,” said San Juan Mayor Yulin Cruz, a political opponent of the governor.

I really think we need to make sure that any additional aid given to Puerto Rico will be properly administered and distributed. It appears that they have a corruption problem, and there is no way of knowing whether or not it has been solved. Unfortunately, it will be the people who need to help the most who will suffer the most because of the corruption.

Progress?

Yesterday Hot Air reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has agreed to pass the Senate border funding bill after the House bill was defeated in the Senate. The bill has now passed the House by a vote of 305-102. Some Democrats want to be re-elected in 2020.

The article reports:

“Behind the scenes,” noted CNN, “moderates were encouraging members of the Blue Dog and Problem Solvers caucuses to vote against a procedural vote that governed floor debate and force Pelosi to pass the bipartisan Senate bill, as the White House and Hill Republicans have been demanding.” Per Politico, 18 centrist Dems were prepared to tank her revised bill on the floor if she didn’t hurry up and pass the Senate bill instead. The reason Democrats hold the House majority right now is because a bunch of centrists knocked off a bunch of Republican incumbents last year in purple districts. Those centrists are frightened of perceptions back home that Democrats don’t want to do much of anything to ease the crisis at the border except complain about how immigrants are being treated, and they know how potent Trump’s messaging on this topic can be. In the end, if Pelosi wants to keep her majority, those members need to be protected even if it makes AOC cry. So Pelosi made a hard choice: Hand the centrists a win, even at the price of being steamrolled by Mitch McConnell, even knowing how lefties will caterwaul, and get immigration off the table for now.

That choice was made slightly easier for her by the fact that McConnell’s Senate bill wasn’t a party-line matter.

The Senate border bill passed the Senate by a vote of 84-8. It has bipartisan support.

According to UPI:

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday, setting aside nearly $3 billion in humanitarian aid and increasing security measures at the border. The Democratic-controlled House passed its version of the bill earlier this week with a stronger focus on protecting migrant children.

At some point we need to understand that the more liberal Democrats are not interested in increasing security  measures at the border.

President Trump’s Saturday Speech

I watched the President’s speech on Saturday afternoon. I have a few observations. As the President pointed out, the proposals he is offering to the Democrats are things that they have voted for in the past (as is the fence, actually). He is also asking the Senate to introduce a bill on Monday based on his proposals. This is smart–the bill has a reasonable chance of passing in the Senate. If the bill passes in the Senate and fails in the House of Representatives, then the Democrats can be blamed for the shutdown, which is definitely lingering on. It also puts the Democrats in the position of keeping the government shut down by voting against things they have voted for in the past. That is not a good optic for them. Introducing the bill in the Senate first is a win-win for President Trump. There may be information that some Democrats in the House will support the President’s compromise. I don’t know that, but I wonder because of the speech today.

Mitch McConnell posted a press release following the President’s speech that included the following:

“I commend the President for his leadership in proposing this bold solution to reopen the government, secure the border, and take bipartisan steps toward addressing current immigration issues.

“Compromise in divided government means that everyone can’t get everything they want every time. The President’s proposal reflects that. It strikes a fair compromise by incorporating priorities from both sides of the aisle.

“This bill takes a bipartisan approach to re-opening the closed portions of the federal government. It pairs the border security investment that our nation needs with additional immigration measures that both Democrat and Republican members of Congress believe are necessary. Unlike the bills that have come from the House over the past few weeks, this proposal could actually resolve this impasse. It has the full support of the President and could be signed into law to quickly reopen the government.

“Everyone has made their point—now it’s time to make a law. I intend to move to this legislation this week. With bipartisan cooperation, the Senate can send a bill to the House quickly so that they can take action as well. The situation for furloughed employees isn’t getting any brighter and the crisis at the border isn’t improved by show votes. But the President’s plan is a path toward addressing both issues quickly.”

Opening the government without fully funding the wall would be a mistake. Congress has proven in the past that they do not always get things done if the pressure is taken away. I can guarantee that if the government is opened before an agreement is reached, the wall will never be built and our border will remain unsecured.

An Anonymous Article

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an anonymous article written by someone they know to be a senior official in the Trump administration. I am posting the full text of the article because I believe all of it is very important. I have no additional comments.

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Process is what we serve, process keeps us safe, process is our core value. It takes a lot of people to maintain the process. Process provides jobs. In fact, there are process experts and certified process managers who protect the process. Then there are the 5 percent with moxie (career managers). At any given time they can change, clarify or add to the process — even to distort or block policy counsel for the president.

Saboteurs peddling opinion as research, tasking their staff on pet projects or pitching wasteful grants to their friends. Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. One might think this is how government should function, but bureaucracies operate from the bottom up — a collective of self-generated ideas. Ideas become initiatives, formalize into offices, they seek funds from Congress and become bureaus or sub-agencies, and maybe one day grow to be their own independent agency, like ours. The nature of a big administrative bureaucracy is to grow to serve itself. I watch it and fight it daily.

When the agency is full, employees held liable for poor performance respond with threats, lawsuits, complaints and process in at least a dozen offices, taking years of mounting paperwork with no fear of accountability, extending their careers, while no real work is done. Do we succumb to such extortion? Yes. We pay them settlements, we waive bad reviews, and we promote them.

Many government agencies have adopted the position that more complaints are good because it shows inclusion in, you guessed it, the process. When complaints come, it is cheaper to pay them off than to hold public servants accountable. The result: People accused of serious offenses are not charged, and self-proclaimed victims are paid by you, the American taxpayer.

The message to federal supervisors is clear. Maintain the status quo, or face allegations. Many federal employees truly believe that doing tasks more efficiently and cutting out waste, by closing troubled programs instead of expanding them, “is morally wrong,” as one cried to me.

I get it. These are their pets. It is tough to put them down and let go, and many resist. This phenomenon was best summed up by a colleague who said, “The goal in government is to do nothing. If you try to get things done, that’s when you will run into trouble.”

But President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them. Sure, we empathize with families making tough financial decisions, like mine, and just like private citizens who have to find other work and bring competitive value every day, while paying more than a third of their salary in federal taxes.

President Trump has created more jobs in the private sector than the furloughed federal workforce. Now that we are shut down, not only are we identifying and eliminating much of the sabotage and waste, but we are finally working on the president’s agenda.

President Trump does not need Congress to address the border emergency, and yes, it is an emergency. Billions upon billions of hard-earned tax dollars are still being dumped into foreign aid programs every year that do nothing for America’s interest or national security. The president does not need congressional funding to deconstruct abusive agencies who work against his agenda. This is a chance to effect real change, and his leverage grows stronger every day the shutdown lasts.

The president should add to his demands, including a vote on all of his political nominees in the Senate. Send the career appointees back. Many are in the 5 percent of saboteurs and resistance leaders.

A word of caution: To be a victory, this shutdown must be different than those of the past and should achieve lasting disruption with two major changes, or it will hurt the president.

The first thing we need out of this is better security, particularly at the southern border. Our founders envisioned a free market night watchman state, not the bungled bloated bureaucracy our government has become. But we have to keep the uniformed officers paid, which is an emergency. Ideally, continue a resolution to pay the essential employees only, if they are truly working on national security. Furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid.

Secondly, we need savings for taxpayers. If this fight is merely rhetorical bickering with Nancy Pelosi, we all lose, especially the president. But if it proves that government is better when smaller, focusing only on essential functions that serve Americans, then President Trump will achieve something great that Reagan was only bold enough to dream.

The president’s instincts are right. Most Americans will not miss non-essential government functions. A referendum to end government plunder must happen. Wasteful government agencies are fighting for relevance but they will lose. Now is the time to deliver historic change by cutting them down forever.

The author is a senior official in the Trump administration.

The Look Of Desperation

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit reported that Robert Mueller is investigating ‘billionaires with ties to Russia’ who attended Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. Good grief. We have large donations from Russia to the Clinton Foundation followed by a transfer of a large portion of America’s uranium resources, and Robert Mueller is investigating businessmen who attended the inauguration parties? This totally smacks of desperation!

The article quotes ABC News:

The presence of people with Kremlin ties in Washington for Trump’s inaugural celebration was first reported by The Washington Post. But the guest lists obtained by ABC News offer a new glimpse at the level of access granted to several well-connected oligarchs.

Several donated enough to the Presidential Inaugural Committee to qualify for tickets to a “Candlelight Dinner” in Washington’s Union Station on the eve of the inauguration, a perk for $1 million contributors, the list of attendees show. Guests were treated to a preview performance by singer Jackie Evancho, a one-time runner-up on “America’s Got Talent,” who would go on to sing at the inauguration the following day.

…The Trump inauguration brought in more than $107 million, double the amount of President Obama, to finance a week of festivities that was filled with far fewer events than past inaugurations – only three Presidential balls. In May, ABC News reported that the Special Counsel had questioned several witnesses about millions of dollars in donations from donors with connections to Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Donating to the inauguration is not unusual. Has anyone looked at donations to the Clinton Foundation during the time that Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State? This investigation is clutching at straws hoping that the American people are unaware of what is normal practice in Washington. It would make more sense to evaluate the funding of inaugurations than to try to accuse President Trump of something based on donations from Americans (which are perfectly legal, regardless of who those Americans do business with).

Pork In The North Carolina Budget

Washington isn’t the only place where lawmakers love to spend money that isn’t theirs. The North Carolina legislature is currently working on its state budget for FY 2018-19. On Monday, Civitas posted an article about the current budget proposal.

The article reports:

The state budget for FY 2018-19 contains nearly 170 line items totaling $30 million that are highly inappropriate or outright pork.

Appropriations directing funding to local pet projects include items such as walking trails, playgrounds, county fairs and highway signs. Moreover, dozens of nonprofit organizations receive direct appropriations in the budget. Make no mistake, these nonprofits perform admirable work. However, it is highly inappropriate – and unfair favoritism – to single out nonprofits for specific appropriations of state tax dollars, instead of having them go through the appropriate grant process.

There is little doubt that a large percentage, if not all, of these earmarks represent legislators trying to “bring home the bacon” to their districts in an election year. State taxpayers should not be forced to finance explicitly local projects.

Note that the items identified in this article include only adjustments made to the second year of the biennial budget passed last year. There no doubt are many more such earmarks that will be doled out this year that were previously included in last year’s budget.

Legislative leaders have rightly been criticized for the closed-door, non-transparent process used in crafting the budget. It is plausible to believe that these 166 line items were the result of political horse-trading behind closed doors, which left virtually no time for objections from legislators before the House and Senate voted.

Such a significant number of earmarks, while not adding up to a major percentage of the budget in dollar terms, raises legitimate concerns about political patronage in which representatives direct state funds to local projects in exchange for political support.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It includes a specific list of the earmarks in question.

The Children Are Misbehaving Again

John Hinderaker posted a article at Power Line yesterday about the Democrats latest antics in the Senate.

The article explains:

In a shocking move, Senate Democrats today filibustered all funding for the Department of Homeland Security. They refused to allow the DHS funding bill, which has already passed the House, to be brought up for a vote. This means that funding for DHS, including its many vital national security functions, will soon run out.

Why would Democrats vote unanimously to shut down DHS? Because the funding bill excludes the implementation of President Obama’s patently illegal and unconstitutional subversion of the nation’s immigration laws. The Democrats’ position is: either you go approve of and pay for the president’s illegal acts, or we will shut DHS down.

The Republicans need to develop some backbone and deal with this. I am sure (I hope) there are some Democrats who put national security over politics. Essentially the Democrats have shut down one part of the government.