Lectures By Leaky Leahy

Vermont’s perennially-serving Senator, Patrick Leahy, recently managed to unload a press release on a Russian “hacking” event at Burlington Electric Department.

So leaks are bad, then? Someone tell the Senator!

So leaks are bad, then? Someone tell the Senator!

State-sponsored Russian hacking is a serious threat, and the attempts to penetrate the electric grid through a Vermont utility are the latest example. My staff and I were briefed by Vermont State Police Colonel Matthew Birmingham this evening. This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides – this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter. That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.

computer-hacker

Watch out. I’m extra hacky.

Alarming  I’m sure all Americans can sleep better tonight knowing a man who first came to the Senate in 1975 is all up to speed with the latest in all that computer stuff the kids know so much about these days.  I can also see where someone at BED using a utility’s laptop at home, off the network at the utility, surfing questionable websites, might pick up some malware or two that the utility’s IT department will pick up during recurring scans.  Which seems to be exactly what happened:

The Department of Homeland Security alerted utilities on Thursday night about a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the Burlington Electric Department said.

“We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature. We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems,” it said.

The matched malware code on the laptop may have resulted from a relatively benign episode, such as visiting a questionable website, a source familiar with the matter said, suggesting Russian hackers may not have been directly involved.

It’s not a direct attack against the electric infrastructure.  It’s a chowderhead taking a company laptop home, outside of the utility’s firewall, and since the malware is out in the wild, can wind up on any laptop, anywhere, if someone clicks on the wrong site.  Had it wound up on a laptop from a guy working at the Twinkie factory, would our supply of cream-filled deliciousness be just as threatened by Russia?

No.  It’s Leahy posing as being somebody useful – to the Democrat party, which is looking to find a source of their own malaise in an external actor, instead of asking themselves how their candidate, in Hillary Clinton, could possibly have lost, without first asking themselves hard truths about their own decisions and behaviors.

Speaking of a lack of self-reflection, Captain Irony (or as others like to call him, Senator Leahy) has a decades-long history around questionable behavior with sensitive information, which actually put the country and lives at risk, and may have caused a death or two along the way.  But hey, when you’re busy doing cameos in Batman movies and lecturing the public about Russian malware, maybe you’ve got some free time on your hands.

So let’s take a peek at one or two of Senator Leahy’s own forays into questionable dealings with sensitive information.  Hm.  Looks like there’s a rather distinguished history in this Senatorial practice called “leaking”:

As you may recall, Leahy was stripped of his Senate Intelligence Committee vice-chair during the mid 80’s for making good on threats to sabotage classified strategies he didn’t personally care for. During Ronald Reagan’s own war on terror, the Vermont Democrat was aptly nicknamed “Leaky Leahy” for proving time and again that he would do absolutely anything to discredit the Republican President — including revealing the most vital of national security secrets.

In 1985, he was charged with disclosing a top-secret communications intercept which had led to the capture of the murderous Achille Lauro hijacking terrorists. That leak likely cost an Egyptian counterterrorist agent his life shortly thereafter. Then, in 1986, Leahy threatened to leak secret information about a covert operation to topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. When the details of the operation later appeared in the Washington Post, the mission was immediately aborted.

So disclosing information that gets people killed is OK, and so is leaking congressional reports to reporters, and so is pumping up the volume over a malware-infected device in order to score political points and distract from the horrorshow that was the Clinton defeat in the election.  All of those things are fine by Leahy, in service to the Party.

And his own party’s presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, used an unsecured private hillary-russianserver to keep the US government’s restrictions on the handling of sensitive data out of her considerations, and out of FOIA requests – and Leahy endorsed her for office (8 years after he un-endorsed her for office, but hey, fish gotta swim and Leahy gotta Leahy).

Apparently when it’s his party that’s in question, concerns about sensitivity and security fly out the window, to the point where Leahy would have voted for Hillary as a superdelegate even if she didn’t win the state’s vote.  That’s a man of the people, right there – as long as they do whatever he wants them to do.  Then he’s their man!

Now, just a couple of days later – well, it’s not a hack.   But that fact certainly won’t merit a retraction by Leaky Leahy.  Does this still constitute a direct threat to Vermont that Leahy does not take lightly?  Or does this constitute yet another political embarrassment by Vermont’s (largely) sitting senator that he’ll happily ignore until the next time he can exploit false information for political gain?

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Vermont’s Useful Idiots: Patrick Leahy and Peter Welch

A week ago, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter Welch traveled with President Obama’s entourage to visit Cuba.  While

Chicks dig the beret.

Chicks dig the beret.

there, they called for an end to the 54-year embargo of the country – which is a call for free trade, incidentally, and since Cuba is one of the final, dying vestiges of communism still barely kicking on the planet, you’d think the inherent irony in these calls would be enough to create some kind of sub-atomic irony explosion, ending all life on the planet as we know it.

Instead, we get two tired, pampered old men, acting as useful idiots, parading publicly for the benefit of dictators:

President Barack Obama also called for an end to the 54-year ban, in a joint news conference Monday with Cuban President Raul Castro. Obama added that how Cuba addresses human-rights concerns will influence how quickly Congress ends the sanctions.

In case Barry’s missed it, the US has asked Cuba to address human rights concerns for 54 years.  That’s why the embargo has been in place and hasn’t been lifted.

Welch said the House would vote overwhelmingly to lift the blockade if the issue were to come to the floor. Leahy said the Senate would do the same.

Well.  Considering Leahy has been in the Senate for, oh, eleventy gazillion years, why hasn’t he made that happen yet?  The issue of the blockade has come to the floor of both houses, repeatedly, for decades.  It’s like Leahy’s a bystander of history on this subject.

What Leahy doesn’t note is that despite the embargo, the US is one of Cuba’s largest exporters.  Despite Leahy’s and Welch’s rhetoric, trade has been happening between Cuba and the US, along specific, designated lines, so as not to enrich the dictatorship, and to benefit the Cuban people.

At present, the embargo, which limits American businesses from conducting business with Cuban interests, is still in effect and is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the fifth largest exporter to Cuba (6.6% of Cuba’s imports are from the US).  However, Cuba must pay cash for all imports, as credit is not allowed.

As an example, Cuba imports 6.2% of its X-ray equipment from the United States:

X-ray machines benefits Cubans, not a dictatorship.

X-ray machines benefits Cubans, not the dictatorship.

But let’s not let facts get in the way of simpering obeisance to dictators and murderers:

Leahy and Welch, in a conference call with reporters, said ending the embargo would help improve human rights in Cuba.

“The impact of this embargo is on average Cubans,” Welch said, adding that sanctions have failed to pressure Castro to improve his human-rights record.

Human rights won’t be improved by an embargo or a lack of one.  Cuba is free to trade with any other country on the planet, and does so, and that trade still has not stopped the Castro regime from murdering, imprisoning, torturing, and shattering Cuban lives for decades.  The US is not the only country on the block, and to hang Cuba’s horrifying human rights record around the US embargo is not only wrong factually, financially, and economically, it gives cover to the Cuban regime to keep right on what they’ve been so successfully doing since 1960 – staying in power.

But the Leahy and Welch lunacy doesn’t stop there.  Of course it doesn’t.  You see, they both think that we could actually learn from dictators:

Both Vermont lawmakers said there is a lot that America can learn from Cuba, citing the country’s medical system, low infant mortality rate and high literacy rate.

Cuba’s medical system?  Are Leahy and Welch flying there for their own medical care?

Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.  But note that Cuba is a country of 11 million people.  The United States has cities that large, with a total population over 300 million people, and has millions immigrating into the United States annually.  Comparing infant mortality rates (as reported by a Cuban regime very interested in propaganda) is laughable; it’s like comparing tacos and oranges.  If you ask a pregnant woman in the United States if she’d like to fly to Cuba to deliver her baby, what kind of response would you be likely to hear?

A literate Cuban with permanent restrictions as to what he or she can read is not an accomplishment; it’s an insult to human rights, and to cite literacy statistics from dictators is being complicit in their repression.  What good is literacy if all you can read is communist propaganda, internet access is severely restricted, and books are burned publicly, by the regime?

I guess we do have a lot to learn from Cuba.  Where even the literature on human rights gets trampled by the state, along with the rights

This is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights looks like, on fire.

This is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights looks like, on fire.

themselves.

But wait:  There’s still more exciting opportunities in idiotic usefulness to be gleaned from two-thirds of our congressional delegation.  To wit:  Let’s introduce crony capitalism to Cuba!

Leahy also spoke about the economic possibilities that ending the embargo could bring Americans. Vermont’s renewable-energy industry could see significant opportunities in Cuba, and the senator said he planned to bring a trade mission of Vermonters to Cuba early next year.

Well, if it’s not working here in the US, let’s just export the fail to Cuba!  Problem solved.  What’s next, we’ll ship some type of blight to Cuba?  City tap water from Flint, Michigan, perhaps?

Considering the rampant failures of renewable-energy “initiatives” – which are more like cattle-calls to the public trough (I’m looking at you here, Solyndra) – I would think the Senator would want to introduce successful and productive initiatives to the Cuban people, instead of just more of what Castro, et al, have done for decade at the cost of Cuban freedom and human rights.

But any ode to Castro would be incomplete without some romantic re-writing of history, and ignoring the deaths of thousands who’ve died trying to escape that low mortality rate and high literacy rate:

Leahy has long advocated for the opening of relations with Cuba. Both he and Welch have sponsored legislation to lift the ban on Americans traveling to Cuba. Leahy has visited about eight times. This is Welch’s third trip.

The Vermont senator said he was excited to be on the historic trip and see something he has wanted for so long finally happen.

"Your scuba-diving adventure boat is ready for you, Senator Leahy!"

“Your scuba-diving adventure boat is ready for you, Senator Leahy!”

“When I went to bed last night, I was about as happy as I’d been in a long long time,” he said. Leahy added that he and his wife, Marcelle, were hoping to visit Cuba to go scuba diving.  

I hope Leahy doesn’t see any sunken Cuban rafts during his scuba adventures off the shores of Castroland.  And the potentially unfortunate viewing of, perhaps, the remains of a Cuban seeking freedom from oppression.  Might spoil his trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Slaughterhouse EB-5

Further evidence that Peter Shumlin is right to let Vermont college graduates know that Vermont has good, high-paying jobs available, Seldon

Hey, it worked for Grenada!

Hey, it worked for Grenada!

Industries, a small water-purification maker in Windsor, recently shut its doors unexpectedly, leaving all 32 employees without a job.  A few weeks ago, Shumlin actually went so far as to almost beg St. Michael’s College graduates to stay in Vermont, saying:

“We’re trying to tell the story,” Shumlin said. “It’s a myth that we do not have jobs for young people in Vermont. The facts are that we have jobs.”

Just 32 less of them now, it seems.  Now it’s true that Vermont does have jobs, but when Shumlin says this, one wonders which Vermont he thinks he’s living in:

Shumlin said there are thousands of open jobs in Vermont at dozens of employers who are “clamoring” for graduates, and that many of the jobs available are high-paying. Some starting salaries are in the $90,000 to $100,000 range, he said.

The actual data on job expectations provided by his own Department of Labor tell a completely different story, as has been discussed at some length.  In terms of short-term job prospects, 9 of the top 10 jobs in terms of growth for 2013-2015 (the report is from 2014) do not require a college degree.  In fact, the one occupation that does, nursing, is not a degree offered by St. Mike’s, which might be a bit of a kick in the shins to the Purple Knights, courtesy of outgoing governor Peter Shumlin.

Seldon Industries, however, is a more unique story, in that its existence, and subsequent closing, were made possible by the EB-5 program.  A

Leahy: So you're telling me 32 Vermonters can lose their jobs with no warning in a program I support? Ha ha ha ha! Ahem.

Leahy: So you’re telling me 32 Vermonters can lose their jobs with no warning in a program I support? Ha ha ha ha! Ahem.

significant piece of its EB-5 funding was paid for by foreign nationals who “invest” in US companies, to the tune of $500,000 or $1,000,000, and in return acquire a green card.  It’s essentially allowing wealthy foreigners to jump the immigration queue, and since the dollars come from these individuals, the investments are viewed as not coming out of taxpayer pockets.  That said, Vermont’s EB-5 Regional Center is run and  administered by the State of Vermont, the only state in the country to do so.  Clearly Vermont’s politicians are involved, so there is a cost and an impact being borne, in taxes and in policies being put forward – especially for those now out of a job at Seldon.  The 6 investors (there was a $3 million investment by EB5 investors at $500,000 per) are still likely to see their green cards, but the dollars and “investment” are another thing entirely.  Meaning entirely gone.

Even as recently as June, 2015, Seldon was to land a huge contract with Senator Leahy’s “help”, although now I’m sure the Senator won’t be knocking down doors finding jobs for 32 people:

Just three months ago, Seldon Technologies was celebrating a new contract to provide water purification devices to Mexican public schools. The deal, arranged with Senator Patrick Leahy’s help, was to mean production of a half million units, and Seldon officials expected to expand their 37-person workforce.

Seldon’s closing begs the question:  If they were on the verge of an enormous contract, why did they shutter the facility three months later?  Why would a US Senator pose for a photo op at a facility that had to know they were about to go under?

Other Vermont EB5 ventures, like Jay Peak, have run into controversy.  Jay Peak converted the EB-5 investments into loans, without the investors’ knowledge.  So much for the state’s oversight in running the EB-5 Regional Center:

Vermont strong? Only if foreign 1%er checks don't bounce.

Vermont strong? Only if foreign 1%-er checks don’t bounce.

The management of Jay Peak Resort is defending its right to convert $17.5 million in equity stakes held by immigrant investors into unsecured, nine-year loans. The conversion was implemented on Aug. 31, 2013, without the knowledge or consent of 35 immigrant investors who each put up $500,000 toward the construction of Tram Haus Lodge, which is part of the Jay Peak Resort. The deal was disclosed to reporters and the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center last year, but investors were not sent a copy of paperwork for the original loan until May of this year. Jay Peak has since offered a second IOU to investors that shortens the repayment period to five years. The promissory note is secured by the value of Jay Peak Resort, says company president Bill Stenger. But a group of 20 disgruntled investors question the value of the guarantee. Several say they expected to receive the principal on their investments at the end of a five-year period.

The Tram Haus Lodge, which was constructed in 2008, is the first phase of $312 million in EB-5 investments in Jay Peak Resort, located in the Northeast Kingdom.

But don’t worry, there was nothing illegal or unethical about completely re-structuring the “investment”:

The company and the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development say the decision to convert the equity investments into loans was entirely within the company’s rights.

Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros said the transaction was “200 percent” ethical.

Oh, it’s 200% ethical.  That’s different.  I’m sure that’s twice as re-assuring to the investors who ponied up big piles of cash to have their investment re-structured without their knowledge, at the whim of Jay Peak, all done under the guidance and oversight of the State of Vermont.

One of the selling points of EB-5 is that the money is an investment, with a return – but the reality is that there is no guarantee on the funds, on re-payment, on ROI, nothing.  But those facts are clearly not emphasized to foreign investors, who were completely taken by surprise by Jay Peak’s actions.

Another EB5 project in Vermont, AnC/Bio, a medical company specializing in stem-cell technology, plans to build a brand-new manufacturing and research facility in that well-known, high-tech, Silicon Valley East corridor of northern Vermont known as “Newport”.  Clearly, if you’re thinking about building a cutting-edge technology center, anywhere in the US, you’d first think “Newport, Vermont.  Obviously!”.  The project’s developer, Bill Stenger – the same Jay Peak developer – says it will create about 400-450 jobs:

And he says Vermont is a good place for those 400-450 jobs to be created. About half will be local workers trained to make devices, and the rest will be scientists.

“Because we’re close to major colleges and universities. There are a tremendous number of reasons why living and working in our part of Vermont has value. Safe, clean, environmentally beautiful, a facility that’s state of the art and debt-free,” Stenger said.

Vermont’s major colleges and universities are located in Burlington – at least those that offer significant degrees in STEM fields.  I didn’t realize Vermont had an extra 200 scientists just lazing around coffeehouses in Burlington.  Burlington to Newport is 2 hours by car.  Is Stenger assuming PhD candidates at UVM will move to Newport to work at AnC/Bio?

Investors will seize an opportunity, whether it comes from the private or the public sector.  In this case, it’s politicians seizing the opportunity by looking for investments that are completely outside of the normal taxation realm, trading cash from the foreign 1% for US citizenship, just as long as they can make it look like the money is going to create jobs.  In fact, if indirect jobs are claimed to be created, that also helps sell the EB-5 “investment”, meaning if a local deli gets more customers because a new factory went up outside of town from an EB-5 investment, then that indirect job counts.  Except that estimating what jobs might be created isn’t an empirical matter; it’s completely guesswork, and open to spurious claims of job creation, by both the EB-5 project and the politicians that love them.

So what our politicians are telling foreigners is:  If you’re wealthy, you get to the cut to the front of the line.  What’s interesting is that the same politicians supporting EB-5 as a way to generate growth are frequently the same politicians who publicly demonize the domestic 1%.

As others have noted, it’s really just the fastest way to get a green card, for 10,000 wealthy foreigners per year:

“There have been some rare but highly publicized failures in the EB-5 program,” said Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer at Miller Mayer and a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School.

Foreign interest in the EB-5 program has grown dramatically in the last few years. Applications were sluggish until the recession, Yale-Loehr said. But then, when domestic financing for construction projects was tough to find, some developers started to look overseas for financing.
There were just 700 visas issued in 2007; in 2014, for the first time ever, the program reached its quota of 10,000 visas through the EB-5 program and had to stop accepting applications. The quota was reached again this year.
For wealthy foreigners, the EB-5 program is the best bet for getting U.S. citizenship. Other options—finding an employer or a family member to sponsor them—have long backlogs and a lot of paperwork. The EB-5, by contrast, is a relative breeze.

“Most of them are doing it because they want the green card and it’s the fastest or best way to get a green card,” Yale-Loehr said.

Great for the crony! For everyone else, not so much.

Great for the crony! For everyone else, not so much.

Unfortunately for Vermonters, if the “investment” tanks, the loser is not the State of Vermont, it might be the person who ponied up half a million under the assumption that this money meant a real investment, but it most certainly is the Vermonter who thought they had a job at Seldon Technologies.  Especially when their own Senator proudly claims it as one of his accomplishments in June, but is nowhere to be seen come the shutdown in September.

Oh, and if you happen to be the head of the state’s EB-5 program, and then, shockingly, find yourself working for Mt. Snow after it received $52 million in EB-5 funding?  Well, hey, that’s just cronyism.  Er, I mean, “coincidence”.

Patrick Leahy: Impregnator-In-Chief

Vermont’s Senator Patrick Leahy, who spent several years as a US Senator not bothering to pass a budget, which is one of his primary responsibilities, has found time over the past few years to help an imprisoned Cuban spy impregnate his wife.

An Impregnation Only A Spy Who Loved Me Could Love.  Or a US Senator.  One or the other.

An Impregnation Only A Spy Who Loved Me Could Love. Or a US Senator. One or the other.

Because, y’know, that’s what Senators do.  I mean, in between being Senator-For-Life (Leahy has been a US Senator since 1975), Leahy visited Cuba in 2013, to learn how Fidel and Raul Castro created a Communist paradise so rich and rewarding for its people they strap themselves to inner tubes and travel north through shark-infested waters in order to be, um, free.  And Leahy was also there to determine whether or not he could help out a spy:

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba is celebrating the return of three intelligence agents imprisoned in the United States for more than a decade, and the joyful but puzzling news that one of their wives is expecting just two weeks from now.  Adriana Perez‘s pregnancy has been the talk of Cuba since she appeared with Gerardo Hernandez at the island’s parliament this weekend. Perez beamed and held hands with Hernandez as he caressed her baby bump, clearly visible beneath a flowing blue dress.

Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Leahy, told The Associated Press that it all began with a February 2013 trip to Cuba by Leahy, who has visited the island multiple times since the early 1990s, met with both former and current presidents Fidel and Raul Castro and opposes the U.S. embargo.

Leahy and his wife, Marcelle Pomerleau, a registered nurse, met with Perez, now 44. At the time, Hernandez was still at a federal prison in Victorville, California, serving two life sentences on murder conspiracy and other charges. Cuba had complained repeatedly that the U.S. was denying her a visa to visit her husband.

Well, the United States is crazy like that, denying visas to wives of spies from embargoed countries.  Next we’ll be denying Kim Jong-Un a conjugal visit visa to the Kardashian compound.

I assume Jaws is here only representing the actual jaws that Cubans risk while paddling northward.

I assume Jaws is here only representing the actual jaws that Cubans risk while paddling northward.

U.S. officials had been trying to win better conditions for Alan Gross, an American man who was serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba after he was caught introducing restricted communications equipment as part of a U.S. government democracy program on the island.

Rieser lobbied for Perez to receive a U.S. visa and she was able to visit Hernandez twice in the last year and a half, after apparently only being allowed to see him once before. Rieser also helped another member of the “Cuban Five,” island agents who were serving long prison terms in the United States, access to medicine he needed. He said there was no quid pro quo, however.

Oh, of course there’s no quid pro quo.  It almost seems inappropriate to even bring those three Latin words into the conversation.  But why was Gonzalez in a federal prison in the first place?  No real reason.  Just espionage and conspiracy to commit murder:

The Cuban Five had been sent to South Florida by the Castro government to gather information about exile groups. As part of what was referred to as the Wasp Network, they would infiltrate anti-Castro groups and then send back information to Cuba through what the Associated Press described as “encrypted software, high-frequency radio transmissions and coded electronic phone messages.”

Cuban intelligence officers had been operating in the United States for years and been monitored by various government organizations. However, after Cuban fighters shot down two planes in 1996 that were carrying U.S. citizens working with an exile group, Brothers to the Rescue, the U.S. government began a crackdown. The FBI arrested the Cuban Five in Miami in September 1998.

In June 2001, after a lengthy trial, the five were convicted on espionage charges (Hernández was also found guilty of a conspiracy to commit murder for his involvement in the 1996 incident), and they received sentences that ranged from 15 years to life in prison.  

"And then I said to the spy 'Sure you can impregnate your wife!  I'm a US Senator!  Ha ha ha!  Ha.  Ahem."

And then I said to the spy “Sure you can impregnate your wife! I’m a US Senator!” Ha ha ha! Ha. Ahem.

Are there any other people currently serving time in prison for espionage and conspiracy to commit murder who might also be interested in impregnating their wives?  If so, applications can be forwarded to the Impregnator-In-Chief’s office below.  Please mark all applications as “ATTN:  Senator Hookup”

Washington D.C. Office
437 Russell Senate Impregnation Bldg
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

 

If A Senator Speaks, Does The Planet Listen?

Recently, Democrats in the US Senate spoke in all-night floor discussion in the US Senate regarding the subject of climate change, which itself was recently changed from global warming, because, well, the settled science turned out to be completely unsettled and if

Damn you, Keystone!  Damn you all to hell!

Damn you, Keystone! Damn you all to hell!

you call it “change”, well, everything changes, so you’re covered.

Vermont’s own pair of climate scientists, both with PhD’s in climatology, and with the requisite background in rigorous academic research, both took the Senate floor to argue that something must be done, now, to combat the changing of the climate.  Oh, wait a minute, that’s right – they’re not scientists, they’re politicians!

Which makes them both uniquely unqualified to preach to the citizenry about what constitutes “science”, and also fulfills their role of condescending patriarchs quite nicely, so it’s like a two-for-one for both of them.  So what did our intrepid scienticians have to say, exactly?

Sanders:

The scientific community has been extremely clear — no debate —climate change is real, climate change is man-made, and climate change is already causing severe damage in terms of drought, floods, forest fires, rising sea levels, and extreme weather disturbances.

Sanders, a Senator with no private-sector experience and no scientific background whatsoever, declares that there is “no debate” on climate change. None. Simply by dint of him saying so, probably the least-qualified person schlumping down Senate hallways to make a pronouncement on science in any way, shape or form, says debate is over.

The core of science is debate. The core of science is to challenge accepted norms to find the flaws in the argument.  It’s like asking explorers to stop exploring because everything that could be explored has been explored – so stop exploring West in the Pacific, he would have argued, and North America wouldn’t have been discovered by European countries.

What is flatly amazing is that in the name of science, both Sanders and Leahy are arguing to shut down scientific argument about what impacts climate. But he goes on to argue further, by making the inevitable “Shut up, he argued” statement:

It is not my view. It is not Senator Boxer’s view, not Senator Schatz’s view. That is the view of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which includes some of the major agencies of the U.S. Government. By the way, clearly it is not just the U.S. Government or agencies that believe that. There are agencies representing virtually every country on Earth that have come to the same conclusion.

Sanders cites a federal agency that’s funded on the assumptions made by the global warming community, and politicians like himself, and it’s entire reason for existence is to secure funding to promote the idea of global warming and climate change. This is like a criminal arguing in court that he didn’t do it, and to prove it, he says he didn’t do it – and then the state is prevented from presenting countervailing evidence.  This does not constitute a convincing argument.  Also, note that the agency’s website has changed, from what it was, to what it is now – with a name befitting its imprimatur.  13 agencies, all getting funding related to climate change.  For some reason, I don’t see its budget line getting reduced annually.  For some reason.

Not one to be left out when a lot of pointless speaking needs to be done, Senator Leahy had this to add to the debate that Sanders previously advised us was over:

Leahy:

Once again, we are confronted with irrefutable evidence that humans have altered

And here's the drone that told me the climate was changing!  Ha ha ha ha!

And here’s the drone that told me the climate was changing! Ha ha ha ha!

not just the weather of a region, but the climate of the entire planet. This time, we do not need to climb mountains to see the damage.

We see it in New England’s flood ravaged river valleys, California’s scorched farmland, Alaska’s retreating glaciers, Wyoming’s burnt forests, and super-storm ravaged coastlines.

Leahy’s arguing that flooding is caused by climate change.  I guess in 1927 the flooding that wiped out the bridge in Winooski was also caused by climate change, it’s just that those rubes back in the day didn’t know it was happening to them.  It could be that floods happen every year, some larger, some smaller.  It could be that year over year weather patterns change that have nothing to do with emissions, and in all likelihood are due to sunspot activity or other phenomena (as if the climate itself is static and never changes) but if you’re going to shut off debate, you don’t need to explain yourself.  You only need to tell everyone else to shut up.  Leahy continues:

The State Department recently released its long-awaited environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL pipeline. I am deeply troubled that the State Department’s analysis did not take into account the overwhelming evidence that this project will further accelerate the release of greenhouse gas pollution and intensify climate change.

Even though it’s the 5th environmental impact study done, and also came to the same conclusions, and the only reason State is involved is because it crosses the border – well, since Leahy didn’t seem to complain about State’s explanation of Benghazi, why does he have a problem with their current analysis of Keystone?  At this point, Senator, what difference does it make?  Will a special prosecutor be appointed to change the outcome of the impact study?   If so, why, since I thought Sanders made clear the debate was “over”?

What’s really hilarious is that decades ago, when the boogey-man du jour was global cooling, the same “science” used to justify the scare tactics for massive government intervention are the same ones being used now, but used to combat global warming.

So which is it, Senators?  Are we warming, cooling, changing, or are we merely tepidly walking away from voting for you in the next election cycle?  With real calamities walking among us, including a trainwreck of an economy, I expect the average Vermonter is more interested in the economics of right now versus the grandstanding that occurred in the US Senate.  Grandstanding that is, again, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Climate Organologists: When Barry and the Vermont Triumvirate Collude, Er, Collide

President Barack Obama, renowned scientician and climate, er, “community” organizer, is proposing $1 billion in spending to “help communities prepare for the

I hope Democrat boats weren't anchored here.

I hope Democrat boats weren’t anchored here.

effects of climate change and to fund research and technology to protect against its impact.”  From the article:

“The president announced the “climate resilience fund” during a meeting with farmers and ranchers in Fresno, Calif., who have been severely affected by a drought in the state’s San Joaquin Valley.”

What the president failed to mention is that the drought in California is almost entirely man-made. Due to restrictions put in place to protect a sardine-sized delta smelt (which sounds like an off-the-menu budget at In-N-Out), California is experiencing an enormous drought, ones previously only seen before the novel and unique idea of irrigation was largely adopted.  From the article:

  • California’s water storage and transportation system designed by federal and state governments includes 1,200 miles of canals and nearly 50 reservoirs that provide water to about 22 million people and irrigate about four million acres of land throughout the state.
  • In May 2007, a Federal District Court Judge ruled that increased amounts of water had to be re-allocated towards protecting the Delta smelt – a three-inch fish on the Endangered Species List.
  • Because of this ruling, in 2009 and 2010 more than 300 billion gallons (or 1 million acre-feet) of water were diverted away from farmers in the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay – eventually going out into the Pacific Ocean.
  • This man-made drought cost thousands of farm workers their jobs, inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment in certain communities, and fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland.
  • Unemployment remains at a regional average of 17%. With current precipitation at near-record lows, the same regulations will be imposed pushing unemployment even higher.

In other words, Mr. Gorbachev is, oh, wait – Barry is tearing down these aqueducts, by spending a billion to study why there’s a drought in a location very proximate

Look!  I spotted a smelt!

Look! I spotted a smelt!

to what we call “deserts”, and mentions nothing about the forced withholding of water from thousands of farms that are suffering under the onslaught of progressive California thought. That climate change, warming, cooling, or meandering, has been and continues to be studied worldwide, is of no consequence – we’re talking legacy here, the legacy of a man who seems to enjoy nothing more than taking an airline flight to unique and out of the way places to play golf, where that noisesome miracle of irrigation ensures that Barry only hits off freshly clipped Kentucky bluegrass, every single time.

So as not to be outdone in the colossally useless expenditures of tax dollars and borrowed money, Vermont’s Congressional delegation/climatologists are echoing the president’s call to spend more money to study that frightening and newly developing threat, often referred to by older, actual native-born Vermonters as “the weather”.  But let’s let the scientitiously-enhanced baldies speak for themselves, in no particular order (from the Freeps):

Bernie:  “I hope that he would be as forceful as he can to make it clear that we are facing a global crisis, that bold action is needed, and that the United States can and should lead the way on this issue,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. “When you are addressing what the scientific community believes is the greatest crisis facing our planet you have got to make it a major, major priority. You just can’t walk away from it.”

Even though the scientific community is throwing serious science sand in the gears of the climate warming hoax.  Oh, and if the economic community thinks that spending trillions we don’t have will crash the US economy, will Bernie make cutting spending a “major, major priority”, and fail to “walk away from it”?  Oh, I forgot – he’s never held a real job.  So he couldn’t possibly understand economics.

Leahy:  Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he hopes and expects Obama to continue his advocacy in his State of the Union address.

Leahy’s hopes and expectations were miraculously fulfilled.  It’s almost as if he knew Barry was going to say something!  And people ask why we keep him around as Senator?

But for the cake that as yet lacks sustainable, solar-powered goodness in the form of gluten-free icing, I present to you, the Captain of Team Capitulation, Peter Welch (last seen standing and applauding Barry for making this same statement in the SOTU):

Welch:  The other member of Vermont’s congressional delegation, Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, said Obama should tell members of Congress that he’ll work with them in areas where there is bipartisan agreement, such as energy efficiency. But he should continue to use his executive authority where “climate change deniers” block congressional action.

“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time,” Welch said in a statement. “I hope the president clearly defines in his speech the imperative to act.”

Peter, perhaps unknowingly, and if it is unknowingly then he should be removed from office immediately, is telling both the President and the Vermonters that put him into office that his job is no longer necessary.  If Barry’s going to do the right thing, and Congress is only getting in his way, then hey – just use “executive authority” and go around that annoying, pesky, legislative work frequently being seen not to come out of the greatest deliberative body in history, aka: the US Senate.

It's not like abdication if we cede power to the executive, right?  Right?

It’s not like abdication if we cede power to the executive, right? Right?

To sum it all up:  Our Congressional delegation is quite happy to continue to receive checks for their fine work, as long as Barry does whatever it is he feels like, without the actual authorization required by the Constitution, in terms of, y’know, Congress passing a law and the President signing, and then enforcing it.  So why are Patrick, Peter, and Bernie down in DC, at all?  Can’t we just send down 3 rubber stamps instead, since they seem to be so completely and publicly uninterested in upholding their oath?  I’m quite sure it would be cheaper, and no doubt Barry would approve – with the stroke of an autopen.

The Kampus Krusaders

Vermont’s Trifecta of Fabulous, the aging and somewhat lucid political leadership of the 14th Republic, recently congratulated themselves on securing more funds for VSAC, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. In other words, education is an industry that is too big to fail, and these three rough ‘n tumble hombres are just the fellers to make sure overpriced student loans are available for immediate encumbrance upon unsuspecting Vermonters’ lives.  But let’s let them tell the good news, shall we?

“Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which handled the Senate’s negotiations, led the effort in the work on the bill, on behalf of VSAC, with strong support from Sanders and Welch. Leahy said: “No student should be denied the opportunities of a college education

College.  It's a bitch.

College. It’s a bitch.

because of her or his family’s financial resources.””  

No student should be denied the opportunities of a college education because the price of a college education has skyrocketed for decades, dwarfing the CPI rate of inflation – a college degree is roughly 500% higher now than in 1982.  Why?  Because the federal and state governments have ensured that by making student loans available (at rates that are multiples of the average mortgage rate), colleges will continue to endlessly spend money on programs of dubious utility to the average college student, and soon-to-be unemployed college graduate. Those dorms with hi-def screens on the walls in every room, dorms with pools and hot tubs, upscale cafeterias, resort-level gyms and spas, well, it turns out that someone’s going to pay for those. It will be the students, taking out loans, that will fund the majority of those capital projects, new division chairs, new programs with Majors Of Dubious Value, and the campus President’s tasty salary.

Kickoff's at 6:00!

Kickoff’s at 6:00!

Oh, and what goes unmentioned by our tripping-over-themselves-to-congratulate-themselves “leaders”:  Be careful what major you bring to the labor market.

Also, no American should be denied a Senate that passes a budget, but we got that from Leahy and Sanders.  I await their apology.

Continued – unendingly – from above:

“Nonprofit loan servicers like VSAC serve as instrumental partners in guiding Vermont students through the complexities of financing their college educations.”

It’s more complicated because funding mechanisms like VSAC exist. The state could block-grant the VSAC dollars directly to the colleges to reduct their costs, but perhaps our
Federal Triumvirate knows that giving additional dollars to colleges is dangerous. You don’t feed the insatiable more of what they love so dearly – unrestricted funds.  Why is there no call to nationalize education so as to control costs?  Isn’t that how things get fixed now?  Nationalize an industry and the costs will magically go down?

“I continue to hear from students and adult learners across our state that VSAC’s outreach counselors gave them the support system they needed to graduate.”

The only time I ever needed VSAC was when I was dropping off a student loan payment at 8% interest. A better support system would have been an aggregate tax reduction equal to the amount of money VSAC was spending so I could better afford to live in Vermont, and businesses might decide to site or expand here.  Oh, and I continue to hear from the recently-graduated how much their student loan payments makes it impossible to live in Vermont.  So they leave for places that actually have jobs.

“I am delighted we were able to make sure that the new spending bill will enable VSAC to continue to serve students in need.”

Our congressional delegation continues to be delighted in spending our money and money borrowed from investors in Treasury bills. Funny, they’re securing funding for a service

No, but being a politician almost always guarantees a paycheck.

No, but being a politician almost always guarantees a paycheck.

that is only going to decrease in demand as Vermont’s demographics continue their steep decline, in terms of birth rate and the aging demographic. Worse, because so few are participating in Vermont’s labor force, and our unemployment rate is low as a result, there will be fewer and fewer jobs waiting for college grads once they do graduate, and start looking forward to re-paying the “support system” they needed to graduate.

Instead of our delegation’s solution, I offer an alternative to aspiring Vermont collegians.  There’s a cheaper path to a degree:  Get a job at a college.  Any job.  Mop a floor.  Then go to school for free. Get a degree. Get two. Then leave.

It’s that simple. And you don’t need the Three Unwise Men from DC to help you get there, either, which would probably make another, more ancient Vermonter named Cal very happy, too.

Perpetuating The Catastrophe

Vermont’s Democratic and Independent leadership, rarely described as a shy and retiring group, have recently chimed in on the current impasse in the budgeting/funding fiasco currently unraveling in DC. In the interests of time,

You blew it up!  You damn dirty Congress!

You blew it up! You damn dirty Congress!

I’ll summarize their position thusly:

All federal spending is good. So let’s keep spending more.

Now, ignoring the fact that Leahy, and his counterparts, themselves held the country “hostage” when they failed to pass a budget for four years (there’s nothing like federal transparency when continuing resolutions are used to fund innumerable programs with no specific targeted guidelines for outcomes, but hey, we’re the government, we know what’s best for you), that the US now has a debt that is equal to US GDP (a previously unheard-of level of debt, now being routinely heard in such thriving economies as Spain and Greece), and that our national unfunded liabilities run into the tens of trillions – if we can just ignore those facts, well, then positions such as Leahy’s, Welch’s, Sanders’, and Shumlin’s become completely and utterly rational.

But let’s get the words straight from the non-hostage-takers’ mouths (from the Freeps):

Shumlin also urged “all parties to sit down,” but he and the congressional delegation have argued that there should be no negotiating over a health care law that has been enacted and was essentially ratified by voters when they re-elected President Barack Obama in 2012.

As opposed to all the House seats lost to Republicans in 2010? Was that a public endorsement of BarryCare? Waving Peter’s magic wand over the results of 130 million votes, saying he knows exactly what that vote means, is laughably idiotic. We don’t ratify by national vote, either, else BarryCare would have been shot down, easily. And since we are a Democratic Republic, and not a Democracy, it might be worth noting that not one single Republican voted for BarryCare.

Shumlin’s sweating it out more than most because he knows that roughly 1/3 of the state’s budget comes from federal outlays, which means Vermont, as a state, is taking money from taxpayers in other states to fund our own state expenditures. Shumlin is going to carry that party line until his back breaks. He has no other choice, especially if he wants one of the three Congressional seats that are so tantalizingly within his reach.

But there’s more!

Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy, both Democrats, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, have contended that congressional Republicans have already won budget concessions and it is they who are unwilling to compromise.

Unlike, say, the President, who says he’s not going to negotiate.

Leahy said Wednesday on the Senate floor, “Unyielding in their opposition, Tea Party members of Congress, for whom ‘compromise’ is a dirty word, are on a crusade to hold the federal government hostage until the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It is a form of extortion that has no place in a democracy.”

Again, as opposed to a President who says he’s not going to negotiate. And the Democratic party’s own Tip O’Neill

In case of a Congress and a President, break open immediately.

In case of a Congress and a President, break open immediately.

shut down the government multiple times during his tenure. Was O’Neill holding the government hostage? Was Tip extorting America?  How did we survive?

What has no place in democracy (and I remind Senator Leahy that we do not live in one) is a tiny group of aging, compromised, and insulated patricians who live so far removed from the reality that the rest of us live in that they actually think what the government does is critical to every step in our daily lives. Worse, they think that that is how it should be.  Since Leahy likes to throw the word “Democracy” around without knowing its meaning, might just mean that Leahy is as uninterested in a government of, by, and for the People, as he is uninterested in negotiations within what has been laughably described as the world’s greatest deliberative body.

The Cold Pimpin’ Leahy

Senator Leahy, fresh from the manic pace of being an incumbent for decades in the same tired, worn-out chair in the Senate, takes a little time out

You can't bully me into voting for a budget!

You can’t bully me into voting for a budget!

of his day to pay a staffer with tax dollars in order to pimp out, to you the taxpayer, his obviously laudable efforts in both heading off financial crises while simultaneously picking up cameo work in Batman flicks.

(Oh, and you might want to have you staff fix your broken links there, too, Senator.)

From Leahy’s website:

“In February 2009, Congress passed and the President signed into law an economic recovery plan to provide assistance for hardworking Americans struggling during this economic downturn.”

It was certainly pitched that way. But the reality is that the “plan” involved funneling tens of billions to banks, to state governments which largely used the dollars to plug their own budget shortfalls (including state pension funds), and to build signs that told us tax dollars were going to eventually be spent on improving a highway sometime with the next decade or so, which will “stimulate” economic growth.

The only infrastructure project Leahy won't vote for.

The only infrastructure project Leahy won’t vote for.

As has been widely and repeatedly demonstrated, there is no correlation between federal spending and economic (GDP) growth, especially considering that federal spending is a component of GDP. Even with record-setting deficits that Senator Leahy, as a member of the exclusive club of 100 Senators who can’t be bothered to pass a budget for over 1,000 days helped to heap onto the federal debt structure, GDP has barely moved tenths of percentage points in the almost 4 years since Leahy so proudly assisted struggling Americans during the economic downturn. A downturn helped, in large part, by public policies that Leahy himself endorses, but are harder to track these days when he doesn’t sign his name to budget bills, since his majority leader hasn’t felt any pressure to perform a task the Senate is legally required to perform, but fails to.

“As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy worked hard to ensure that the recovery bill included priorities important to Vermont, such as expanding financing opportunities for Americans in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure; promoting small business investment in plants and equipment; repairing our deteriorating roads and bridges; providing Food Stamps to struggling families; improving high-speed Internet access; and offering financial relief to states struggling with budget deficits that are forcing them to cut essential services.”

Whew. That’s some bill, Senator!  I had no idea your magical economic powers extended to such lengths.  Behold!

1. Re-financing capital for already-overcapitalized banks (courtesy of Bernanke), which would help keep people in houses they were already having serious trouble making the payments on. Re-financing an underwater mortgage is not going to net a significant cut in the monthly mortgage payment.

2. Promote small business investment – well, if that’s such a great idea (the depreciation rules), why weren’t these magical growth bills put in place decades ago? Was Leahy sitting on a great small business growth formula for 3 decades, and only noticed it falling out of his lap when he stood up, slowly, to lecture taxpayers from a podium on what he thinks is best for them?

3. Repairing bridges and roads. Ah, yes – the old chestnut still provides. When all other excuses for spending are exhausted, trot out “infrastructure” and folks go wobbly in the knees. Actually, states go wobbly in the knees, because they know that magically free Federal money will come their way in these projects, thus reducing the requirement that the state actually have revenues to cover its expenses.

First of all, the budget approvals for these projects take years, not months, and so (even if you buy the stimulus idea) for the spending to work, it has to be done immediately. Even Leahy’s site links to spending projects that haven’t even started yet. Well. Feel the power of this fully operational Battle Stimulus.

“While we are now seeing the positive results from the recovery bill, it is easy to forget just how perilous our economic outlook seemed at the beginning of last year. Some economists predicted that the United States could slip into a severe downturn rivaled only by the Great Depression.”

Some economists said that federal housing programs created the bubble that helped crash the economy, that Fannie and Freddie should be completely re-structured or closed down, and that more of the same lunatic policies would continue to exacerbate the problem and drag out the recovery that has historically happened much more quickly after the bottom is reached. Note that this is the longest and slowest economic recovery in modern history, and Leahy’s telling us it would have been worse without his help. Really? That’s like telling me that my house would have burned down less quickly had I not thrown gas on it.

Slow and low, that is the tempo!

Slow and low, that is the tempo!

“However, partly as a result of the economic rescue and economic recovery bills that Congress passed, our situation looks much better today.”

Which misses the point: What would it have looked like had you and your fellow clown-car drivers in DC not done anything at all?  If you passed anything at all, you can still claim credit years later that it “would have been worse” without the bill you passed.  I wish I could pimp that idea at every real job I’ve had all my life, but I don’t enjoy being fired.  Let’s not forget – the economy always recovers.  That doesn’t mean its recovery is created by, or even helped by, the US Senate.

“There are dozens of important economic development projects underway throughout Vermont that would not be possible without this infusion of federal money.”

Yet Vermont’s economy is still in its historical tank.  Unemployment, while low, is artificially low as the economic powerhouse that is Vermont manages to eke out 36th place in national household median income rankings.

I guess we can thank Senator Leahy for making us 36th. Without all his help, we might be in 57th place.

But here, at last, the painful kicker:

“Much of the recovery money still needs to be dispensed, but the spending thus far has proved to be effective. While our economic problems certainly are not over, we are starting to see signs of real economic recovery.”

It Both Chops AND Lifts To Economic Freedom

It Both Chops AND Lifts To Economic Freedom

So the bill that was rushed through Congress, passed with a heaping of lard so enormous that ChopLifters had to be flown in to   carry it out of the Capitol building, still has not yet been completely spent.

Let me see if I’ve got all of this straight:

1. 2009: We must pass this bill to stimulate economic growth or we’re all going to die.

2. 2013: We must continue the urgent work to spend this money or we’re all going to die.

My only conclusion to all of this is that someone, someone who has spent the majority of his adult life being adored for bearing the burden of being Senator, is flat-out lying. The truth is, we do not need his help, or the 99 other aging incompetents, in saving ourselves – the fact is, we need them to stop helping us, so we can help ourselves. Pimping out these dubious achievements is little more than an attempt to slap some window-dressing on an increasingly pathetic performance as Vermont’s Most Self-Congratulatory Senator.