Tag Archives: Department of Defense

Security!!

Big Man on Campus, Congressman Eric Swallow Swalwell (D-CA) has entered the 2020 presidential race!! Can he solve these BIG PROBLEMS??

The Department of Defense recently misplaced (at least on paper) over $2,000,000,000 designated for F-35 fighter jet parts. An inspector general at the Pentagon dug into the books on America’s $400 billion effort to produce “next‑generation strike fighter aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and international partners.”

The Hill notes that neither the F-35 program nor a separate, billion-dollar federal agency that administers Defense contracts (creatively named Defense Contract Management Agency) can account for these “3.45 million pieces of government property” and must rely on the supplier, super-contractor Lockheed Martin, to detail for Defense if and when they purchased the engine parts GOING BACK TO THE YEAR 2002.

Politico reported in 2015: [t]he F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is $163 billion over budget, seven years behind schedule, and will cost taxpayers about twice as much as sending a man to the moon.

According to Lockheed Martin’s 2017 annual report, the F-35 manufacture comprises 25% of their sales.

Defense’s F-35 office Fed-splained away the OIG findings in a comment to The Hill: “There were no surprises in the report and the items mentioned are well known to the F-35 Enterprise. [somewhat ironic, as the billions of dollars in “items” themselves are not known at all] […] [F-35 office] will continue to inventory, track and contractually account for all [government furnished parts] associated with the F-35 system.”

The phrase “continue to” now means “start to” in gov-speak.

“Remember that $2.1 billion we’ve sent you over the past sixteen years? Can you just real quick confirm that was actually used to make planes because we don’t know lol.”

*

The Trump administration’s Secret Service has shown a real talent for ineptitude, as we have documented.

On Monday, Secret Service director Randolph Alles was on his way out quietly (a scheduled sayonara, according to Randolph Alles) before someone leaked the plan to the press and Trump had to unceremoniously ax the two-year Secret Service and 35-year Marine Corps veteran.

Secret Service officials have been caught by surprise with the news and are only finding out through CNN, according to the source.

[…]

A source familiar with the director said his ouster was not related to the recent scrutiny the Secret Service got after a Chinese woman illegally entered the President’s Mar-a-Lago club carrying Chinese passports and a flash drive containing malware. Just five days ago, Trump said he “could not be happier with Secret Service” following the Mar-a-Lago incident.

The “incident” involved Yujing Zhang (below) entering Trump’s Florida country club on the pretense of swimming some laps while carrying “a thumb drive with malicious software on it, four phones, a laptop and a separate hard drive[,]” but no bathing suit.

She is being held without bail and is charged with lying to a federal agent and entering restricted property without permission. There is speculation of espionage after more thumb drives, cash and a “hidden camera detector” were recovered in a raid of Zhang’s apparently off-Largo hotel room.

Court sketch artists: many are either mean-spirited or should have [trigger warning] learned to code instead of draw.

Samuel Ivanovich, Secret Service agent extraordinaire, neglected to use a Mandarin-speaking agent for the first “hours” of interrogation, although the club staff who let Zhang into reception (and through a metal detector with all her gadgets) blamed a “language barrier.” He also forgot to record audio of the first four hours of footage, so when the raw tape is played for the jury it will be slightly less realistic than a Law & Order episode (New York Times reported Mr. Clouseau didn’t realize that the agency’s office in Palm Beach didn’t have that capability.

Washington Post had more:

Ivanovich also testified that when the thumb drive they recovered from Zhang at the club was inserted into another agent’s computer, “a file immediately began to install itself.” The agent, Ivanovich said, had never seen that happen before. …

[our emphasis]

*

Acting director of ICE, Ronald Vitiello, and his boss up the food chain, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, also recently left the Federal terror security business.

Maybe the Feds should study counter-espionage from local police in nearby Jupiter, who lied about a bomb in the building to execute a secret (“delayed notice”) warrant and plant secret cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is criminally charged with getting his dick wet.

USA Today notes the Florida Department of Health, which buttressed a human trafficking investigation into the spa, used some sloppy techniques, including answering “N/A” to a qualifier as to why such intrusive and Constitutionally-shady techniques were required for surveillance, and citing two beds (in a massage parlor), bottled water and ranch dressing as evidence of people being sold.

Kraft’s lawyers [argued] in their latest motion to suppress video evidence [that] the Jan. 20 traffic stop after Kraft allegedly exited the spa […] had the “sole purpose of identifying Mr. Kraft – a passenger in the car – in the absence of any traffic violation or reasonable suspicion of one by the driver.”

Ironically, the warrant did not allow audio recording, so Kraft’s jury, like Zhang’s, will have to watch in awkward silence if the tapes are allowed into evidence. And be spared the stipulations of hidden valleys into which to pump that Ranch.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/f-35-fighter-plane-costs-103579

https://thehill.com/policy/defense/434280-watchdog-pentagon-doesnt-know-where-21b-was-spent-on-f-35-parts

https://www.lockheedmartin.com/content/dam/lockheed-martin/eo/documents/annual-reports/2017-annual-report.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mar-a-lago-intruder-had-cash-and-additional-electronics-in-her-hotel-room-prosecutors-say/2019/04/08/2edd875a-5a22-11e9-a00e-050dc7b82693_story.html?utm_term=.5bd0f521f621

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/08/politics/randolph-tex-alles-secret-service-director/index.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/10/ronald-vitiello-ice-leaves-post-1342090

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/04/12/Chinese-woman-formally-charged-for-entering-Mar-a-Lago/7941555111827/?rc_fifo=1

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/08/politics/mar-a-lago-yujing-zhang/index.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/espionage-is-supposed-to-be-more-difficult-than-this/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2019/04/03/robert-kraft-sex-spa-case-fake-bomb-threat/3354549002/



$22,000,000,000,000 and Counting

The Trump Defense Department should be taking fire for presumed upcoming abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund.

The account is separate from the Pentagon’s mere $576,000,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2020. But unlike the “defense” budget, OCO funding is exempt from budget caps.

The Trump administration is seeking roughly an additional $150 billion (possibly as much as $174 billion, which would bring the overall budget for defense to $750 billion) for the war fund […] Entire programs, such as the U.S. Army’s accounts for ammunition and training, will be moved to this war account, according to multiple sources.

[our emphasis]

OCO spent just $90,000,000,000 last year.

Is the President’s request a harbinger of an upcoming endless war that need not be bound by a budget, as Trump’s batshit crazy, warmongering national security adviser John Bolton (who Wall Street Journal reported in January started drafting plans to bomb Iran after an explosion near the American embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, a completely different country, last year) would prefer?

The funds can be shoveled to less nefarious purposes, such as a troop pay raise as the waning days of the Obama administration brought us in f.y. 2017’s bloated National Defense Authorization Act. We reported:

But it’s ultimately another venue for the Dirty Dems and Rotten Republicans to come together and skirt the budget caps that were supposed to curtail federal spending over the past decade in exchange for short-term increases to the debt ceiling, succeeding in achieving only in the latter.

For example, in 2016 the Government Accountability Office reported the vast majority of these “emergency war” funds in the f.y. 2017 appropriations supported our decades-long, unconstitutional occupation of Afghanistan.

In fact, according to this January https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44519.pdf report from Congressional Research Service, fighting abstract “terror” outside of legislators’ purse string control is so ingrained in the “emergency war” fund, terror has entered the acronym:

“Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has appropriated approximately $2 trillion in discretionary budget authority designated as emergency requirements or for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism (OCO/GWOT) in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks and for other related international affairs activities.”

[our emphasis]

Extra budget wiggle room certainly can’t solve the recruiting woes of the most expensive defense force on the planet. The Army missed its goal enrollment by over 6,000 last year, “despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.”

Heritage Foundation recently reminded us that just 29% of 17-to-24-year-old Americans are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces. Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 [t]he ineligible typically includes those who are obese, those who lack a high school diploma or a GED, convicted felons, those taking prescription drugs for ADHD and those with certain tattoos and ear gauges[.]

*

Disgraced FEMA director Brock Long has resigned, boasting that “[d]uring my tenure, the Agency worked more than 220 declared disasters[,]” which is slightly greater than the number of days on the job he spent getting chauffeured to and from North Carolina.

*

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering making the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 look more palatable. Politico reported the large-headed enforcer kicks off a tour of early primary state New Hampshire this week, continuing a trend of quality candidates from the Empire State.

Probably good to start self-promoting in a state with fewer citizens viscerally offended by the phrase “c.p. time” :

Politico suggested Bombastic Bill is already floating slogans:

“There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands,” [de Blasio] declared at his State of the City address last month.

De Blasio seized the occasion to pitch socialist policies including ten mandatory paid vacation days annually for everyone working in the city.

“I’m not aware of any other state or city that requires [paid vacation],” said Rick McGahey, an economist at the New School for Social Research who served as an assistant secretary for policy in the U.S. Labor Department during the Clinton administration.

Puerto Rico does mandate paid vacation days, McGahey said[…]

Puerto Rico recently went bankrupt.

The part-time mayor, full-time Red Sox fan’s travel bill is covered by his federal political action committee…Fairness PAC.

De Blasio did not, that we can find, characterize the devil the “richest man on earth” Amazon‘s sudden decision Thursday to scrap plans for its New York City location as “unfair.” Instead, he found the move “disappointing” and “disrespectful.”

“Working people are very smart and very discerning. They want jobs, they want revenue, they want the kinds of things that government can do for them,” the mayor lectured WNYC’s radio audience, explaining that industrious New Yorkers would have valued the opportunity to work hard so their earnings can be redistributed. Working people can’t be trusted to responsibly spend their own money. They’re smart, but not that smart.

This would put de Blasio at odds with hometown social justice warrior, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,(D-NY), (below), who according to CNN had publicly railed against the tech company’s incentives extended from New York’s layer cake of municipal regulators to build in Long Island City, Queens. New York Post reported these included $2.5 billion in tax credits, a $500 million state construction subsidy and the ability to sidestep the city’s laborious zoning process.

[our emphasis]

Apparently, that pot of honestly confiscated taxes was not worth sacrificing for an estimated 25,000 jobs with wages averaging 150,000 [sic].

Ocasio-Cortez announced on Twitter:
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

The first-term representative also recently proposed legislation to eliminate the country’s airplanes, which are only used by those making $150,000 or more annually.

New York governor and family mobster Andrew Cuomo (D) (below, jowls), desperate to brand his third term with something besides the murder of Eric Garner, a decrepit subway, and millions of dollars of illegal state-sponsored street signs, was nearly as angry as de Blasio.

Syracuse.com reports Cuomo blustered that “[t]he New York State Senate has done tremendous damage. They should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

Amazon said Thursday that local opposition was the main reason it is dropping its New York City plans, despite 70 percent of Empire State residents supporting the investment.

While he apparently didn’t single out Ocasio-Cortez, the governor’s spokesperson noted Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky (below, squinting) “tanked the Amazon plan by placing a stalwart Amazon opponent on the government approval board to pander to the local socialists.”

It’s unclear whether that board had a representative in Wednesday’s [trigger warning] powwow in Cuomo’s office. Amazon’s people were hammering out the proposed employees’ ability to unionize, aided by representatives of AFL-CIO and Teamsters. Union bosses directly determining the fate of corporate satellite headquarters must be a key element of de Blasio’s declaring New York “the greatest city in the world” while pouting on WNYC.

According to Bloomberg, the meeting was productive, and one of the AFL-CIO affiliate’s presidents was about to deploy his–this is the actual self-important term for union regulatory writers–*wordsmiths* to solidify union influence in the deal when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled the plug the following day.

*

Mr. Bezos, by the way, alleges National Enquirer publisher David Pecker–again, his actual name–is using a subordinate to blackmail Bezos into dropping his investigation of the sources behind the tabloid’s article, “Jeff Bezos’ Raunchy Text Messages That Prove Illicit Affair.”

Dylan Howard, an Australian national and VP of Pecker’s AMI‘s National Enquirer, (below), reportedly has damning images of Bezos, some involving a Lauren Sanchez. These include a fully-clothed “selfie,” a “selfie” in which Bezos wears“just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks,” and
“Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.”

https://medium.com/@jeffreypbezos/no-thank-you-mr-pecker-146e3922310f

https://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/jeff-bezos-lauren-sanchez-text-messages-affair-scandal/

As we reported earlier, Pecker himself, whose empire Vanity Fair describes as “Trump’s most powerful media ally next to Fox News,” rolled on the president last year, corroborating Cohen’s “hush money to Trump mistresses” scheme in exchange for federal immunity. Howard, an Australian national, has also been protected by the deal.

*

Delta Airlines‘ latest scandal has also dragged soft drink giant Coca-Cola into the gutter.

Getting an early jump on the Valentine’s Day festivities, the soon-to-be-Green-New-Dealed-Into-Obscurity carrier apparently tried to spark in-flight stalking while reminding passengers to keep it trim by sucking down Diet Coke. Twitter went peanuts nuts, and the inflammatory line of napkins was pulled starting last month:

Thanks to our sources:

https://nypost.com/2019/02/15/de-blasio-rips-into-aocs-amazon-opposition-working-people-want-jobs/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/amazon-aoc-democrats-future/index.html

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/10/02/love-ny-signs-removed/1496503002/

https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/7/18215314/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-resolution-climate-change

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/2019/02/cuomo-blames-other-dems-for-amazon-exit-as-aoc-celebrates.htmlhttps://www.theverge.com/2019/2/7/18215314/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-resolution-climate-change

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-14/amazon-was-holding-talks-wednesday-to-make-nyc-deal-happen

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2019/02/06/delta-airlines-apologizes-creepy-diet-coke-flight-napkins/2796432002/

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/donald-trump-national-enquirer-allies-defect-david-pecker-michael-cohen

https://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/australian-journalist-dylan-howard-reportedly-granted-immunity-could-give-info-on-trump-payments/news-story/14439dc2474d2971cde68851b5e6b85c

https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-68

https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-sought-options-to-strike-iran-11547375404

http://www.newser.com/story/264957/us-army-falls-short-of-2018-recruiting-goal.html

https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/the-looming-national-security-crisis-young-americans-unable-serve-the-military

http://time.com/2938158/youth-fail-to-qualify-military-service/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/13/politics/brock-long-fema/index.html

http://www.fox5ny.com/news/mayor-progressive-agenda-paid-vacation

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/new-york-mayor-bill-de-blasio-explained-his-loyalty-to-the-red-sox-on-the-jonah-keri-podcast/

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2019/02/11/de-blasio-heads-to-new-hampshire-as-he-contemplates-run-for-president-848323

Wild Turkey

“We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan (below).

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! December 8: Pentagon Audit

The Pentagon wrapped its first-ever audit and the results were apparently so humiliating they were not released.

Defense News does note the year-long endeavor consumed $413 million […] [another] $406 million was spend [sic] on addressing issues found by the department, with another $153 million on “financial system fixes,” per a DoD factsheet — a total […] of $972 million.

While shoveling Federal Reserve-weakened cash toward improving the system is an honorable step, we won’t hold our breath for any legitimate proposals to more efficiently administer what Reuters characterizes–in perhaps the rosiest pro-big Government euphemism of the year–numerous military bases of various sizes at home and abroad and troops deployed in far-flung locales.

Meanwhile, the Federal Deficit packed on an additional 17% in preparation for holiday hedonism. Fiscal year 2018 saw a $779 billion shortfall, and, to their credit, CNN admitted the gap could not be blamed on the recent Republican tax cut, which was more than offset by increased revenues from individual and self-employment taxes.

[Why tax cuts are so maligned when they apparently lead to more tax revenue, we’ll never understand.]

Rather, [s]pending rose 3% over the previous year, fueled in part by increases to the defense budget agreed upon in September 2017 as part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats to head off a government shutdown. Social Security and interest on the federal debt also contributed to the increase.

[our emphasis]

Related:

FEMA Withdraws Aid Withdrawal Amid Backlash, Raises Stakes with Seedy Power Provider and Drops the Ball on Puerto Rican Food Delivery; Congress Shits on Taxpayers Again; Your Location and Face Broadcast to More Federal Agencies

When your national debt is a record $21,000,000,000,000-plus, and even ultra-left wing NPR cautions merely covering the interest on that monstrosity will outstrip defense spending in a few years, the obvious solution is to spend more on defense. It’s all about winning.

*

Another example of winning: the lame-duck GOP majority snuffed out a bipartisan effort to end our unconstitutional Yemen carnage with a 201-187 procedural ploy.

This greased the wheels for the Manage Our Wolves Act, whose passage will reportedly strip “endangered species” status from American gray wolves. And, according to The Intercept, incidentally block a floor vote on whether to direct President Donald Trump to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in Yemen.

A September resolution by Ro Khanna (D-CA) mandating the end of America’s unconstitutional interference in the conflict had the standing for a floor vote without the blessing of the Establishment-controlled Rules Committee under the War Powers Act. Not anymore.

Even the Humane Society of the United States implored Congress for mercy towards the ferocious mammals. And, perhaps unbeknownst to them, the shell-shocked, cholera-stricken Yemeni, with whom we are not at war.

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 29: Two Americans Killed

Just twelve Republicans, including Justin Amash (R-MI), had the stones to oppose the final bill (although a combined 54 members chose not to show up), which passed by a mere 16 votes.

*

Trump’s election year fear mongering over the migrant caravan got a little-noticed boost from the “law and order” angle when NBC revealed the DHS has infiltrated the estimated 4,000 Central American asylum seekers by paying moles to monitor their progress. Namely, the new Federal employees are tapping the WhatsApp communication of the refugees.

Trump, according to CNN, deployed 6,000 American troops to the border just prior to his party’s somewhat muted shellacking in the midterms, because you need 1.5 heavily-armed Americans to safely deny each starving homeless Honduran access to the country. Or for a more nefarious purpose:

“If [the troops] have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve given the OK,” Trump said. “If they have to — I hope they don’t have to[…] I have no choice[;] [y]ou’re dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals[,] rough people.”

[our emphasis]

Defense’s top dog James Mattis had other ideas: “[T]here has been no call for any lethal force[.]”  CNN has him on record that any troops backing up customs personnel would not be carrying firearms but could be equipped with shields and batons.

Trump fired back: “[If]our people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control […] [t]he whole border. I mean the whole border.”

*

Forbes reported the Federal Government is successfully prying innocent Americans’ locations from technology companies via warrants demanding details on anyone essentially using a phone within a certain radius of the coordinates of alleged crimes.

Those users could be Android phone owners, anyone running Google Maps or any individual running Google services on their cell [phone].

[…]

Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department in Minnesota said it wasn’t just Google that could furnish cops with a startling mount [sic] of detailed location data. Facebook and Snapchat [had also] proven useful.

[our emphasis]

Fortunately, the ham-handed FBI might have struck out in this instance, which featured a location sweep for the time frames surrounding five (5) armed robberies of the same Hernico, VA Dollar Tree earlier this year (four at the store, one of their manager at the local bank deposit box):

[F]or unknown reasons, no records were returned. Forbes couldn’t find any charges against individuals named as suspects in the document. Forbes also contacted the prosecutor who signed off on the search warrant, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

[our emphasis]

*

Not to be outdone, Facebook is weathering scrutiny for siccing right wing researchers Definers Public Affairs on those who would bring the social decay giant scrutiny: with intent to smear [Facebook]’s critics by linking them to the billionaire liberal donor George Soros.

The Hill notes Facebook has seen more than a quarter of its value wiped out this year amid data privacy issues, strict regulations in Europe, the threat of regulations in the U.S. and stagnant user growth.

[…]

Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adults say that social media platforms hurt democracy, according to a recent poll by Axios and SurveyMonkey

The oven gloves were off on Thanksgiving eve, as Facebook quietly admitted to asking an opposition-research company to investigate billionaire George Soros over his public criticism of the social network.

Mashable reported soon-to-depart policy pusher Elliot Schrage (below) will take the kitchen heat for head Q-tip Mark Zuckerberg, stammering the tech giant used “public information” to determine Soros was funding the heretofore “grassroots” organization Freedom from Facebook, whose ambitious call to action can be found here.

 

COO Sheryl Sandberg (below) was also on the carving block, and to her credit assumed responsibility for using Definers, despite her recent duplicity as the scandal unfolded. Like Obama, she hears about her own operations from the news.

Sandberg said she did not initially remember Definers when she read a New York Times story that detailed how Facebook had employed the firm. She subsequently asked her staff to look into the matter to “double-check whether anything had crossed my desk.”

 

The silver lining for Facebook: their failure to swiftly deploy speech restriction policies as photos and discussions of a 17-year-old South Sudanese child bride being auctioned off from a reportedly unrelated platform sprouted on the social media site was largely ignored over the holiday weekend.

Facebook said the post was taken down as soon as the company learned of it, but that wasn’t until after the girl involved was married.

 

Thanks to our sources: 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pentagon-audit/pentagon-fails-its-first-ever-audit-official-says-idUSKCN1NK2MC?fbclid=IwAR1qfSDx_O6JTkGFclgSzEnWmRo2MrC3fSzbTAZXwN9J1MJqjhdMnNIeukE

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/15/economy/us-budget-deficit/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/feds-have-paid-undercover-informants-migrant-caravan-n938416

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/22/politics/trump-us-troops-lethal-force-closing-border/index.html

https://theintercept.com/2018/11/14/yemen-war-wolves-bill-congress/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2018/10/23/feds-are-ordering-google-to-hand-over-a-load-of-innocent-peoples-locations/?fbclid=IwAR1JfPp2p2fgKwv-xc6KEOMiS_buWrfRFlcjJO_AZkhnZpn7DYvXtl3Z7LU#3ff529b95a0d

https://thehill.com/policy/technology/417933-facebook-faces-calls-for-new-leadership?userid=115887

https://mashable.com/article/facebook-admits-attack-billionaire-george-soros/#mwRhi7bERsOB

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/11/21/zuckerberg-says-he-wont-step-down-sandbergs-job-is-safe-even-after-facebooks-scandals/?utm_term=.604b29fe555f

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/20/africa/south-sudan-child-bride-facebook-auction-intl/index.html

ICE, IRS, VA and the Russia Thing

A chief counsel at ICE, Raphael Sanchez, resigned Monday after his four-year scheme of stealing seven immigrants’ identities and spending $190,000 on credit cards and Amazon accounts opened in their names was exposed.

This required forging social security cards and drivers licenses from the ICE database. Not to be confused with the Vigilant database ICE now accesses for new prey:

Refrigerators, ICE and Ex-Im Updates

(Accolades are in order for Alameda, CA, whose residents recently nixed a $500,000 contract for a Vigilant license plate reader network.)

The 44-year-old Seattle-based lawyer, whose job description is “immigration removal proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington”,  claimed three illegal immigrants as dependents on his tax returns with impunity, but got pinched when he used a Chinese national’s permanent resident card to pay his electric bill.

Through his own lawyer, Sanchez offered “sincere and immense regret” and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. His recommended sentence is four years.

*

Despite Pentagon comptroller David Norquist echoing military leaders’ “pleading” with Congress to save $2,000,000,000 PER YEAR by closing “tens of thousands of excess military bases around the world” [our emphasis], our entitled representatives have so thoroughly refuted the move that Defense didn’t even broach the subject in their 2019 budget request. According to Washington Times, the improbable decision to conduct a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is out of the question this election year.

The last BRAC round occurred in 2005 and took a decade to complete. It is estimated to have cost $24 billion and the Pentagon estimates it will save about $4 billion per year.

The House Armed Services Committee dismissed the Pentagon’s request last year, because America was founded on the basis of a stifling cent Federal government whose chief objective is to provide military and contracting jobs indefinitely.

*

As the IRS gears up for tax season, they’re dogged by the independent Taxpayer Advocate Service‘s damning details of last year’s effort to recover $920 million that was mistakenly not confiscated. Private collection agencies and IRS itself were allowed to pocket 25% commissioneach–of what they scored for the Feds.

Image result

IRS’ target group unfortunately included many struggling taxpayers. The 4,100 targets had a median household income of $41,000 (national median last year was $59,039, according to the Census Bureau); 28% made less than $20,000, and some received Social Security, making them ineligible for shakedown by IRS ground rules.

19% were below the federal poverty level.

Of those bullied into “installment agreements” by the collectors, 45% could not afford to make the payments because they had income that was less than their allowable living
expenses.

According to the report obtained by ThinkProgress, the agencies got paid for accounts actually settled by IRS:

The IRS is aware that it is paying commissions to [collection agencies] with respect to work done by the IRS, but has
no plans to change its procedures to attempt to identify payments that were clearly not attributable to [agencies]…

[our emphasis]

Also, the initiative cost $20 million but recovered just $7 million.

A revenue-neutral FairTax, collected with every purchase to punishe consumption rather than production, eliminating the IRS, is still out of the question.

Related:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 10: IRS Takes From Little People; Squander Millions on Unused Email, Faulty Fraud Detection

The Department of Veterans Affairs is back under the microscope.

Last week’s Office of Inspector General report scrutinized VA secretary David Shulkin (below) for attending the Wimbeldon tennis tournament–and stopping in Copenhagen, Denmark–last July in conjunction with the London Ministerial Summit on Veterans’ Affairs.

A portrait of David Shulkin, secretary of the Department

The Obama-appointed Undersecretary is the only Trump nominee to wield unanimous 100-0 consent from the Senate from his 2017 confirmation to head VA.

Washington Post, who apparently got the story first in September, noted Shulkin previously denied reaching out to Prince Harry’s 2016 Invictus Games head Victoria Gosling to poach the tennis tickets (worth thousands on the street). It turns out Shulkin did exactly that, and got served when OIG found Gosling could not come up with the first name of Shulkin’s wife, Dr. Merle Bari. This did not match Shulkin’s story that Gosling was a friend, so the exchange did not require ethics clearance.

Dr. Bari proved to be a very expensive add in add on to the delegation, adding $4300 in plane tickets alone to the $122,000, 11-day European extravaganza funded by the VA’s taxpayer-provided budget. Her status as “invitational traveler” cleared the VA ethics office just two weeks after her husband directed the agency to determine “essential” travel to “decrease employee travel and generate savings.”

Shulkin (2016 net worth: $17 million) repaid the government for Bari’s ticket.

A member of the security team’s expense voucher included “an inexplicable $3,825 overpayment for airport parking and a $2,718 overpayment for lodging.”

The report mentions another unusual expense: VA had official “Trip Book” itineraries printed for the entourage, 15 copies at a cost of $100 each.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13 and 29: Mnuchin Continues Opulent Employment; Tom Price Priced Out of Trump Administration

The best part? Shulkin’s chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson (below) resigned Friday after altering emails to VA’s ethics lawyer to suggest Shulkin received an award on the trip’s Denmark leg (which would have justified his wife’s traveling at taxpayer expense). OIG, of course, found Shulkin had no idea of the malfeasance.

636543769466427466-Screen-Shot-2018-02-16-at-11.19.54-AM.jpg

(Wright Simpson flew in economy class, but changed her connecting city, adding $2900 to the cost of her ticket.)

Two other staff members indulged in the trip, with six (6) security employees requiring “several additional days of advance travel.” So several of the trip itinerary booklets were apparently extras.

It’s unclear if Shulkin has yet rewritten VA hiring guidelines as he promised last December when USA Today found the agency has routinely–in violation of Federal law–employed physicians with revoked medical licenses for the past 15 years.

*

Besides Shulkin, four other Trump officials are under investigation for lavish travel using government funds. EPA head Scott Pruitt, for example, traveled from Cincinnati to New York on a military plane at a cost of $36,068.50 to catch his first-class flight to Rome, according to CNBC. Pruitt, according to the EPA, is awarded first or business class (for his frequent travel on jumbo jets to spread environmental protection) to avoid repeating past “security threats.” The Hill:

Pruitt has a “blanket waiver” to federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime.

*

Paul Manafort‘s release from house arrest looks even less likely, as Robert Mueller‘s long awaited Russia probe turned up evidence of his “additional criminial conduct…[including]  a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies.”

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

It’s unclear if the still-pending $10 million bail deal will proceed for Manafort’s alleged overstatement of income by his company DMP International to secure a $9.5 million mortgage for his other venture, Summerbreeze LLC. No additional charges are yet filed, and D.C. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson (below) has everyone under gag order as her office aims for an October trial.

Amy Berman Jackson.jpg

On February 16, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein indicted 13 Russian citizens and 3 Russian entities for spreading anti-Hillary and pro-Trump propaganda during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election via (according to Politicoidentity theft, fake accounts, carefully orchestrated trips and outreach, a concerted social media strategy and even real live rallies across the United States secretly planned from Russia.

Specifically: Russian “specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except [Bernie] Sanders and Trump—we support them)[.]”

[our emphasis]

According to The Hill, the Russians sought to suppress support among black voters for Hillary Clinton, creating fake accounts on social platforms including Facebook and Instagram with names like “Blacktivist” and “Woke Blacks” — and suggesting that she was not strong enough on issues germane to African-Americans. 

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ice-lawyer-seattle-charged-stealing-immigrants-ids-n847856?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/ICE-Seattle-Immigration-Corruption-12617163.php

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/raphael-sanchez-ice-chief-steal-immigrants-identity-fraud-us-immigration-customs-enforcement-a8214511.html

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/pentagon-drops-effort-to-close-unneeded-military-bases-that-cost-2-billion-per-year/article/2648854

IRS paid private debt collectors $20 million to recoup $6.7 million from low-income Americans

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/veterans-affairs-chief-shulkin-staff-misled-ethics-officials-about-european-trip-report-finds/2018/02/14/f7fbc020-0c3a-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.39103093bba7

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/16/va-secretary-david-shulkins-chief-staff-retiring-amid-travel-report-findings/344810002/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/15/trump-cabinet-officials-in-ethics-scandals.html

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/373811-pruitt-coach-travel-yielded-interactions-that-were-not-the-best

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/16/mueller-russia-indictments-not-playing-around-217014

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/bernie-sanders-russia-2016-election-interference-415691

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/mueller-manafort-bank-fraud-accusations-416509

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/374302-five-key-takeaways-from-the-russian-indictments?userid=115887

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! August 30: Pentagon Plays with Truth

The Department of Defense adjusted the official number of Americans still serving in our longest-ever war, the nation-building of Afghanistan. While the actual number is “classified,” it was revealed to be at least 25 percent higher than the figure of 8,400 our employees previously fed us [our emphasis]:

“The number 11,000 is an approximation. It may be slightly above that, it may be slightly below that, it will certainly vary,” Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Jr., the director of the Joint Staff [below], told reporters at the Pentagon.

Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr.JPG

Related:

U.S. Bombs Hospital–UPDATE

The Sky’s the Limit…for Debt

McKenzie further acknowledged the Pentagon lied to the public about this for “six months or so.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis (who apparently now goes by “Jim”) mentioned to reporters the “very strange accounting procedure” by which the Pentagon discounts troops in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq deployed for less than 120 days from the official tally.

President Trump publicly ordered 4,000 more troops (not included in the 11,000-ish we now know about) into the country earlier this year. Because national security. In June, Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now, and we will correct this as soon as possible.”

According to Military Times, U.S. involvement peaked in 2010, with about 100,000 deployed. This followed an Obama-authorized “surge” of 33,000 in 2009 to counter al-Qaeda.

According to Associated Press, almost 2,400 Americans have perished in Afghanistan since we invaded following the Twin Towers terrorist attacks of 2001. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks, was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan–not Afghanistan, where we continue to keep thousands of troops–six years ago.

A “cap” of 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, reportedly set by Obama in 2016, seems to carry just as much weight as our budget “caps.” Or  the Constitutional requirement for the Congress to authorize war.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/30/afghanistan-troop-levels-trump-242186

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/338076-us-to-send-about-4000-more-troops-to-afghanistan

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2016/07/06/a-timeline-of-u-s-troop-levels-in-afghanistan-since-2001/

https://apnews.com/b76f5d92b38d429c877564ad9ff9661a/APNewsBreak:-About-4,000-more-US-troops-to-go-to-Afghanistan

 

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 20, 25, 27–Recent American Military Operations

March 20: Business Insider reported that 1,100 American soldiers would deploy to Poland starting in April.

“This is a mission, not a cycle of training events,” U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Steven Gventer, who heads the battlegroup, told a news conference. “The purpose is to deter aggression in the Baltics and in Poland … We are fully ready to be lethal.”

[our emphasis]

The Americans are part of a NATO force of about 4,000, which will reportedly prevent, if necessary, Vladimir Putin from further invading Poland. Putin “annexed” the Crimea in 2014. The peninsula, according to Wikipedia, is currently run by Russia as Republic of Crimea and a separate “Russian federal city” of Sevastopol.

British, Canadian and German forces will be stationed alongside America.

*

Undeterred from his disastrous Yemen strike that killed one American Navy Seal, one American girl (age eight) and many innocent people (estimates vary; Politifact reports “dozens”),  President Trump reportedly gave the CIA authority on March 20 to conduct drone strikes (beyond whatever they’re already doing covertly).

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 29: Two Americans Killed

This seems unwise, given the CIA’s vast web of paramilitary activities in the name of America. And the fact that they personally have already droned at least one American (Warren Weinstein) by accident in January 2015. Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, a fellow hostage of al Qaeda (not ISIS…different terror group we’re bumbling to bomb indiscriminately with hordes of collateral damage) was also destroyed. President Obama said he was sorry.

In expanding the George W. Bush policy of killing from the air, Obama admitted to over 100 civilian casualties outside war zones, and doubled down on the necessity of drones.

Happy Independence Day

*

Meanwhile on March 25, the United States admitted they were behind a March 17 assault on ISIS in Mosul that may or may not have destroyed 100 or so citizens accidentally. Oops.

Altaf Musani of the World Health Organization in Iraq said of the wounded referred to hospitals:

“When you take a better look at what those numbers mean, what is worrying for the WHO and aid actors is that roughly 30 percent of the total numbers are women. Roughly 30 percent of that large number are children under 15, and that is deeply concerning because of the capacities needed to treat those wounded coming out of the front lines.”

Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi was not pleased. According to Yahoo!, he described the incident as a “humanitarian catastrophe,” blaming the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and excessive use of force by militarized Federal Police forces. Al-Nujaifi put the number of civilians killed at “hundreds.” He called for an emergency parliament session and an immediate investigation into the incident.

NPR, who provided the above photo of the wreckage, noted that [United States] Central Command said that an initial review of strike data from March 16-23 indicates that “the Coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties.”

[our emphasis]

Part of the difficulty inherent in policing the world (our prerogative because Americans and their military always know what is best for everyone) is that ISIS hides in residential areas, essentially using “human shields” to bait U.S. airstrikes that then kill innocent people, as we have previously reported.

*

The Department of Defense tried to spin recent operations as a success, reporting to Fox News that Qari Yasin was killed in a “counter-terrorism airstrike” on March 19.

A US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan on March 19 killed the senior Al Qaeda military commander Qari Yasin, the United States military confirmed (file) 

Image from dailymail.co.uk.

“The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice,” said Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

According to New York Times, Yasin planned the 2008 Islamabad, Pakistan hotel bombing that killed 50 people including two Americans:

 

More than 50 people were killed when a six-wheel dump truck carrying explosives blew up at the entrance of the hotel, which was a prominent meeting place for foreigners and leading Pakistanis. Among the dead were Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez of the United States Air Force and Matthew J. O’Bryant, a cryptologic technician and a third class petty officer in the Navy. More than 260 people were wounded.

[…]

 

Mr. Yasin was also linked to a 2009 attack in which gunmen using rifles, grenades and rockets assaulted a bus that was transporting the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan. Six Pakistani police officers and two civilians were killed, and half a dozen members of the cricket team were wounded, including a British coach. Since then, Pakistan has been forced to play most of its home matches in the United Arab Emirates.

*

UPDATE: March 27:

BuzzFeed reported the Pentagon was still combing through 700 videos of the bombing:

“We look through those videos initially” to determine if it achieved the mission, Air Force Col. John Thomas, a CENTCOM spokesman explained, and there was no indication internally that civilians may have died. The videos were taken over the 10-day period before and after the strike, whose exact date still has yet to be determined but took place sometime between March 17-23.

The American military-industrial complex, reigning from the sky, is in complete control and knows exactly what they’re doing. Except when exactly they did it. And what they actually did. Like a hungover frat boy rummaging through his GoPro footage the next morning. “Let’s see how many deaths I was able to cause with my hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.”

BuzzFeed:

[R]eporters from Rudaw arrived at the strike site and alleged there more than 200 deaths had resulted from the attack [sic].

[…]

The US’s inability to determine the massive damage its strike caused during a key battle against ISIS is the latest example that, short of independent observers on the ground, there is no way to know how many civilians have died because of coalition strikes in the war against the militant group.

An Iraqi firefighter inspects the damage in the Mosul al-Jadida area

 

Local reports put the death toll Monday at 260, which if determined to be caused by a coalition strike, would be the deadliest civilian casualty incident in Iraq since the US invasion of 2003. It is also the third accusation US officials said they were investigating in the past 10 days. The Pentagon is also is trying to determine if civilians died in two strikes in Syria in the last two weeks — at a potential mosque in Jinah, Syria, targeting al Qaeda and a second strike at a school outside of Raqqa that local officials said was being used as a shelter for displaced civilians. In all, the strikes are alleged to have killed more than 350 people.

[…]

Never has the US been accused of killing so many in such a short period of time. According to Airwars.org, there have been 1,000 alleged civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria by coalition airstrikes in the month of March alone, a record high since the US-led coalition’s strikes began.

In addition to the growing accusations of civilian casualties, in recent weeks, the US military has been increasingly opaque about its effort in Iraq and Syria. Last month, the US military moved Marines into Syria as part of a staging effort for the upcoming battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital. The move took place without a public announcement beforehand. On Monday, CENTCOM said it would no longer give figures for future troop deployments in Iraq and Syria, saying it will instead provide rough unit sizes.

“It’s about capabilities not numbers,” Thomas explained.

 You just keep the checks flowing, taxpayers in whose name we shed unconstitutional blood. Don’t worry your pretty little heads over the details.
[T]he alleged deaths have not sparked any outrage in Washington or demands for clarity on how the US deals with civilians in the midst of dense urban spaces. There have been no questions from Capitol Hill about the strike, nor has the White House mentioned it. That may change Tuesday when Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee.

 

*

On March 29, the Pentagon began a “formal investigation” into the Mosul civilian deaths.

*

On April 30, the Pentagon announced American strikes in Syria and Iraq against ISIS have killed 352 civilians since 2014, including 45 between last November and March 2017.

But, Reuters notes:

The military’s official tally is far below those of other outside groups. Monitoring group Airwars said more than 3,000 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes.

[…]

“We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives … and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/we-are-fully-ready-to-be-lethal-1100-us-led-troops-to-send-a-message-to-russia-in-poland-2017-3

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-cia-drones-idUSKBN16K2SE?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=58c764eb04d3017e295f885c&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iraq-speaker-voices-concern-over-mosul-airstrike-134850280.html

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/25/521489530/u-s-investigating-whether-its-mosul-airstrikes-caused-mass-civilian-casualties?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170325

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/25/us-airstrike-kills-high-profile-terrorist-leader.html

https://www.buzzfeed.com/nancyyoussef/the-us-says-its-finally-watching-700-videos-of-an-airstrike?utm_term=.rkzG6Q7gJ#.qeBbQWvR3

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-opens-formal-investigation-civilian-deaths-mosul-155636933–politics.html

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/mar/01/what-donald-trump-left-out-about-successful-yemen-/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-led-fight-isis-killed-352-civilians-pentagon-160256077.html

In Defense of Defense

This post has been updated for formatting and to correctly state former senators must wait two years, not one, to become lobbyists.

United States “Spends to Defend”

SOURCE: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, April 2016. Data are for 2015. Compiled by PGPF. NOTE: Figures are in U.S. dollars, converted from local currencies using market exchange rates.

To ensure America continues to spend more on defense than the next seven highest spending countries–combined–Congress has passed, with moderate fanfare, a $619,000,000,000 “defense policy” bill, according to The Hill.

The Republican-dominated House got plenty of Democratic votes for a blowout 375-34 vote on Friday.

The bill would authorize a total of $618.7 billion in spending, including $59.5 billion for a war fund known as the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.

[our emphasis]

OCO is another sneaky way for the President to blow American money on death and destruction without formally declaring war. It’s better for everybody this way, because that usually involves droning innocent people (or people in hospitals, or people not in war zones who we have decided should be executed).

Not at War

U.S. Bombs Hospital–UPDATE

Droning Africans: UPDATE

Congress made sure to include some popular provisions, like raises for the troops, which can apparently also come from the OCO. (If you make it complicated enough, the little people won’t ask where all their confiscated income is going.)

Another $8.3 billion from the OCO account — $3.2 billion more than Obama requested — would be used for base budget requirements such as a pay raise for troops and troop increases.

The troop pay raise would be 2.1 percent, above the president’s request for a 1.6 percent pay raise.

You get more than you even asked for, Obama! Merry Christmas non-exclusionary winter holiday! Ho ho ho! What $20,000,000,000,000 national debt???

According to non-partisan PopVox, the Senate version of the bill has 20% constituent approval.

defense

(Yellow indicates disapproval.)

Senate Bill 2943 (above) has been kicking around since earlier this year and approved at least once: on June 14 the Senate gave it an 85-13 vote of approval after the House voted “yes” by 277-147 in May. Obama threatened to veto that measure because it apparently undermined his capabilities to clear out Guantanamo Bay.

Politico: [The House bill] adds $3.2 billion over the president’s budget request in war funds to mitigate readiness shortfalls in the Pentagon’s base budget.

[our emphasis]

Other changes on the horizon:

As in previous years, the bill would bar transferring detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S., virtually guaranteeing the president’s pledge to close the prison will go unfulfilled.

(Politico)

This means Obama will have to continue removing the prisoners extra-legally, as he has done throughout his eight years in office. Fortunately, only “at least twelve” of those (imprisoned without trial) suspected terrorists who were freed have engaged in terrorism as of June, according to Washington Post.

The Obama administration believes that at least 12 detainees released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have launched attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan, killing about a half-dozen Americans, according to current and former U.S. officials.

*

One snag in negotiations was whether women would be required to register for the draft. In the final bill, they are reportedly not.

*

GOP dinosaur John McCain, 80, who was re-elected last month to a sixth six-year term as U.S. Senator from Arizona and sponsored S. 2943, reportedly looked up from his Syria defense hearing pastime of online poker to congratulate his colleagues:

“I am tremendously proud of this NDAA,” [McCain] said. “Thanks to these provisions and many more, the NDAA will enable our troops to rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world.”

(Politico)

Will he pull the Senate votes together again???

Not all House members were completely satisfied. Although House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) praised the fact that the bill “stops the layoffs of military personnel,” he will look to President-elect Donald Trump to demand a “supplemental spending request” next year:

Image result

No relation to Eliza.

That’s not nearly enough,” Thornberry said of the [GOP-offered $3.2 billion over Obama’s initial request] increase. “And my great hope is that the new incoming administration will submit to Congress a supplemental request that can really get about the job of rebuilding the military, which is so essential.”

[our emphasis]

*

But don’t think our hardworking Congress people are working themselves to death.

The Hill heard from lawmakers last week that although some important measures had still not been ironed out, the hope of “getting out of work early for vacation” was in the air:

[Kevin] McCarthy [(R-CA)] said House lawmakers will finish two must-pass items left on their 2016 agenda — a short-term government-funding bill and a water resources bill — next week. 
 
McCarthy predicted the House would clear a measure to keep the government funded by Thursday, though so far such a measure has not been released. Lawmakers have until Dec. 9 to move legislation to keep the government operating and avoid a shutdown.

[our emphasis]

Well hopefully we can rush through the temporary “continuing government funding resolution” to keep our pathological need to spend at record levels so that, despite record tax revenue ($3,270,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2016 KA-CHING!!!) we still leave the little people on the hook for $500 billion to $1 trillion in deficit for the year!!

The Hill notes that while both houses of Congress could conceivably rush through the latest financial mortgage on the country’s future, as well as “water resources,” “medical innovation” and temporary “extended legal status for some illegal immigrants” and get off of “work” for a well-deserved three-week sloth fest, there is still potential for someone to screw up this “good thing they got going on.”

[Representatives and Senators make over triple the national median income. Plus benefits. Plus pensions. Plus stocks that do 6% better (House) and 10% better (Senate), on average, than those of the little people.]

Any senator could use the Senate rules to drag out the upper chamber’s procedural clock and eat up days of debate time. Though no lawmaker has publicly threatened to do so, the move would easily force senators to stay in town past Dec. 9.
 
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it’s “possible” the Senate could wrap up early, but noted lawmakers still needed work out a deal to fund the government. 
 
“Frankly I’m not too certain it’s going to happen,” he told reporters.

[our emphasis]

(“Dirty” Harry, 77, who is retiring, may be okay with that. He lives in a Washington D.C. Ritz Carlton and must wait two years before registering as a lobbyist.)

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.pgpf.org/Chart-Archive/0053_defense-comparison

https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/114/s2943

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/308522-lawmakers-eye-early-exit-from-washington

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/308463-house-passes-619b-defense-policy-bill

https://www.rt.com/usa/346698-senate-passes-defense-bill/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/04/john-mccain-poker-iphone-syria-debate

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/defense-bill-passes-house-2016-232123

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/about-12-released-guantanamo-detainees-implicated-in-deadly-attacks-on-americans/2016/06/08/004d038e-2776-11e6-b989-4e5479715b54_story.html?utm_term=.e3c46338520c

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/308522-lawmakers-eye-early-exit-from-washington

http://freebeacon.com/issues/government-collects-3-27-trillion-taxes-fiscal-year-2016/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/members-of-congress-get-a_n_866387.html