For years, top officials at the Department of Homeland Security have touted “fusion centers“— designed to share security information between state, local, and federal government agencies — as a “vital tool for strengthening homeland security,” a “proven and invaluable tool,” and “one of the centerpieces of our counterterrorism strategy.” But a blistering new bipartisan Senate report paints a radically different picture, exposing these centers as a costly boondoggle that flouted civil liberties safeguards, lacked basic accountability, and produced “intelligence” that was overwhelmingly useless or irrelevant—or as one particularly candid official put it, “a load of crap.”
I live in Virginia, which is a battleground state, and my mailbox has been littered with political propaganda in recent weeks. Here are some questions for the candidates:
Today’s New York Times features an opinion piece by J.D. Kleinke of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Kleinke’s thesis is that ObamaCare’s conservative opponents should stop complaining. “ObamaCare is based on conservative, not liberal, ideas.”
Politicians from Mike Huckabee to Michael Bloomberg to Michelle Obama have been hectoring Americans about their eating habits. (What is it about the name “Michael,” anyway, that seems to encourage paternalism and nanny-state politics? Well, it turns out that “Michael” comes from a Hebrew name meaning “Who is like God?” Maybe Michaels just get the idea that they are.)
Washington Post reporters Jerry Markon and Alice Crites deserve kudos for turning the spotlight on the Obama administration’s use of taxpayer funds to curry voter favor in the critical battleground state of Ohio. Markon and Crites cite a laundry list of largess that has poured into the state in recent years:
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) spends $50 million more than its peers on employee benefits, says KPMG in an audit of the agency. Reducing benefits to national average levels (easier said than done) and contracting out some services such as cleaning would allow MARTA to erase a $33 million deficit in its annual budget.
Government subsidies often produce unintended consequences. The latest example comes from the New York Times, which reports that federal subsidizes to encourage doctors and hospitals to use electronic billing and recording records are leading to larger Medicare bills. That means that taxpayers are taking a double hit even though policymakers claimed that electronic record-keeping would make health care delivery more efficient, and thus less costly.
The Romney campaign is airing a television ad in Florida, and similar ads in other states, accusing President Obama of pushing “defense cuts” that “threaten thousands of jobs.”
Watching one of the first showings of Part II of Atlas Shrugged was a surrealistic experience for me after testifying earlier in the day (September 20) to the House Transportation Committee about Amtrak. In the movie, government officials piously argue that for the “greater good” they need to provide “guidance” to the nation’s capitalists—and the more guidance they give, the more capitalism fails, which naturally justifies even more guidance.
Last week, the House passed the “No More Solyndras Act” on a mostly party-line vote. However, instead of terminating the Department of Energy loan guarantee program that subsidized Solyndra and other boondoggles, the bill allows applicants who filed before the first of this year to still receive handouts.