Patterico's Pontifications

2/2/2009

Daschle: Tax Cheat and Lobbyist

Filed under: General,Obama — Patterico @ 11:04 pm

So Tom Daschle has a $140,000 tax “glitch”. Or should we say “glitches,” plural?

After all, we all know that he failed to report six figures’ worth of taxes he owed due to his being driven around by his good buddy the chauffeur.

Oops!

But Daschle had some other whoopsies as well:

Due to an apparent clerical error at InterMedia — which paid Daschle $1 million a year for consulting services — Daschle also failed to pay taxes on one month’s salary.

Oops!

And he improperly deducted several thousand dollars in charitable donations.

Oops! Oops! Oops!

But I have another bone to pick with the former Senator: he’s yet another lobbyist working for an administration that claims not to be employing lobbyists.

Yes, I know: he’s not a lobbyist:

Let’s be clear: Tom Daschle is not a lobbyist. Which is good, because the Obama administration does not employ lobbyists (mostly).

A lobbyist, you see, uses his special insider knowledge, connections, and status to turn a buck and help special interests. Oh, and a lobbyist also has to file a paper certifying that (s)he is a lobbyist. This is a huge difference from what Tom Daschle has been doing the last four years, right?

. . . .

Lobbyists use their insider knowledge and connections to make money from special interests and because they do so directly (call their former colleagues, for example), they must register as lobbyists. Tom Daschle used his insider status and knowledge and connections to make money from special interests but because he did not directly lobby (rather than calling a former colleague, he would tell the special interest who to call), he did not have to register as a lobbyist. And so he can work in the Obama administration.

Got that? Daschle is not a registered lobbyist, so we can overlook the $5.2 million he made advising health insurers and hospitals, among others. We can overlook Daschle’s likely conflicts of interest.

Never mind that Big Media described him as a lobbyist back in 2005, when he became one. NPR interviewed Daschle, who denied being a lobbyist in the interview — but NPR didn’t seem to buy it. Their segment was titled Tom Daschle on His New Role as Lobbyist.

Daschle joined the “Legislative & Public Policy Group” at Alston & Bird with Bob Dole, and it’s not hard to guess why the firm boasted of having both men on the payroll. The firm publicized a discussion featuring Daschle and Dole by saying that their Legislative & Public Policy Group “is well-positioned to provide sound, strategic advice to clients, helping them create new opportunities through the legislative process.”

Bob Dole put it more colorfully in a quote from this 2005 Washington Post article, which described Daschle’s joining Alston & Bird along with Dole:

Dole said the Democrat would be a valuable asset to the firm even though Congress is run by the GOP these days.

“He’s got a lot of friends in the Senate, and I’ve got a lot of friends in the Senate, and, combined, who knows — we might have 51,” Dole joked.

You got Dole’s joke, I take it. 51, you see, is how many votes it takes to get the client’s legislation passed.

Look at how the Washington Post described Daschle’s job then:

Daschle is merely the latest high-profile former lawmaker to jump to the lucrative world of lobbying and law firm work in what has become an increasing trend.

Hmmm. Guess the Washington Post considered Daschle to be a lobbyist, just like NPR — and just like any man off the street would. (Maybe I should ask Greg Packer what he thinks!) Registered or not, the guy’s a lobbyist — pure and simple.

Well, at least he’s popular with the left. Here’s Glenn Greenwald, who says Daschle

embodies everything that is sleazy, sickly, and soul-less about Washington. It’s probably impossible for Obama to fill his cabinet with individuals entirely free of Beltway filth — it’s extremely rare to get anywhere near that system without being infected by it — but Daschle oozes Beltway slime from every pore.

Heh. The folks at Democratic Underground don’t care for him much either, noting that Daschle defended Obama’s 180-degree spin on telecom immunity, even as Daschle was working for Alston & Bird, which lobbied on behalf of AT&T with respect to that very issue.

So, add it up. A tax dodger, a lobbyist in an administration that supposedly doesn’t employ lobbyists, and a slimy, sleazy, soulless politician hated by the right and the left alike.

What’s not to like?

I Don’t Know; This Seems More Like a Bill Clinton Cabinet Position

Filed under: General,Obama — Patterico @ 8:33 pm

The L.A. Times reports:

“Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis was arrested Monday afternoon after failing to appear for a hearing earlier in the day in a federal tax-evasion case.

. . . .

Last year, a grand jury in Reno accused Francis of two counts of tax evasion. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors allege Francis improperly deducted more than $20 million from his companies.

A commenter at the L.A. Times web site beats us all to the obvious joke:

I guess this qualifies Francis for appointment to Obama’s Cabinet.

Almost. He has the crucial tax evasion qualification. But has he ever been a lobbyist?

Obama on Meddling in Foreign Affairs: Then and Now

Filed under: General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:06 pm

Barack Obama, January 5, 2009:

“I will continue to insist that, when it comes to foreign affairs, it is particularly important to emphasize that there is one president at a time,” Obama said Monday. “There are delicate negotiations taking place right now and we can’t have two voices coming out of the United States when you have so much at stake.”

February 2, 2009:

US President Barack Obama has already used experts within the last few months to hold high-level but discreet talks with both Iran and Syria, organizers of the meetings told AFP.

Andrew Sullivan still can’t handle the truth on Obama renditions

Filed under: General — Karl @ 5:17 pm

Andrew Sullivan must have been miffed by the pantsing he took over his slavish defense of Pres. Obama’s expanded renditions policy, as he now resorts to quoting Scott Horton (someone who is almost as fond of conspiracy theories as Sully himself):

There are two fundamental distinctions between the (Clinton and Bush) programs. The extraordinary renditions program involved the operation of long-term detention facilities either by the CIA or by a cooperating host government together with the CIA, in which prisoners were held outside of the criminal justice system and otherwise unaccountable under law for extended periods of time. A central feature of this program was rendition to torture, namely that the prisoner was turned over to cooperating foreign governments with the full understanding that those governments would apply techniques that even the Bush Administration considers to be torture.

The ACLU has taken the opposite position since at least 2005:

Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as “extraordinary rendition.”

The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone. Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism have been transported to detention and interrogation facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and elsewhere. In the words of former CIA agent Robert Baer: “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt.”

Coincidentally, Michael Scheuer, who developed the program when he was at the CIA, also specifically mentions Jordan, Syria and Egypt as places we sent targets.  So when Sully and Horton raise a stink about detainees being outside the criminal justice process, mentally add, “in countries whose ‘process’ includes ‘serious’ interrogation, torture and  ‘disappearing’ people, never to be seen again.”

Although I would not subscribe to all of Scheuer’s views, it is also worth excerpting a bit from his interview with Die Zeit:

Die Zeit: One of your former colleagues has designated these “extraordinary renditions” as “atrocities”.

Michael Scheuer: If defending the USA is an atrocity, this critic would feel quite at home within the left wing of the Democratic Party. I believe that this shows only a lack of courage to do the dirty work oneself.

Die Zeit: Critics within the agency affirm that the program got out of control after 2001.

Michael Scheuer: Until today it remains very difficult to obtain the lawyers’ consent for an operation. The Europeans should not underestimate the paralysing nature of the American administrative system.

Die Zeit: Which legal changes have taken place since 2001?

Michael Scheuer: We have stopped being such Pharisees as we now imprison the persons ourselves. At least one can say in favour of the Bush government that it behaves more manly and that it takes care of the dirty work itself. And in the media I read that they now apply “improved interrogation techniques”, probably meaning that a little bit more force can be used now than before.

People like Sully would prefer to pretend dirty work never gets done, and to avert their eyes to reports that Obama may even secretly allow enhanced interrogation tactics in a classified annex to the Army Field Manual.  Obama, however, is primarily interested in maintaining the political viability of Obama, which would be nil if the US suffered another attack.  Consequently, Obama will engage in the Kabuki theater of very publicly declaring that Santiago is not to be touched, while issuing different orders afterward.  In return, Sully will twist himself into whatever position necessary to justify his mancrush on the Lightworker.

Update: HotAir-lanche!

L.A. Times Reports on UCLA Student Who Is Both Illegal and an Affirmative Action Beneficiary

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Immigration,Political Correctness — Patterico @ 7:26 am

The L.A. Times has a front-page story titled For an illegal immigrant, getting into UCLA was the easy part. It’s a perfect storm: P.C. attitudes on illegal immigration, combined with affirmative action.

She’s an illegal immigrant, so she isn’t eligible for most forms of state and federal financial aid. The University of California system, by policy, does not require applicants to disclose their citizenship status: Officials say their goal is to find the best students, not to enforce immigration law.

I wonder if they ask students to disclose whether they are California residents, to determine whether they are eligible for in-state tuition.

But the political correctness doesn’t end with her illegal immigrant status. She’s also, of course, a beneficiary (or perhaps a victim) of the lowered admission standards prompted by our old friend affirmative action:

The 18-year-old De La Cruz graduated barely in the top 20% of her San Pedro High class and is competing against students with much higher GPAs and test scores.

. . . .

UCLA officials acknowledge that some freshmen are admitted for reasons other than their grades and test scores, that some students come from dramatically different backgrounds than many of their peers but show academic promise.

. . . .

She never thought she’d get into UCLA, especially after San Diego State rejected her in February.

The average UCLA freshman boasted a 4.22 GPA in 10th and 11th grades, according to the most recent data posted by the school, and De La Cruz had a 3.365 at San Pedro High when she applied. She got a 21 out of a possible 36 on the ACT college admissions exam, ranking her in the 48th percentile in California. She scored 380 out of a possible 800 on an SAT subject test, putting her in the third percentile nationwide.

But on March 8, De La Cruz opened an e-mail from UCLA, and a congratulatory banner popped up. She screamed and asked a friend to look.

The article is mostly an article about how difficult her life is. She got a B- average for her first quarter, including a C+ in a Life Science class that other students describe to her as an “easy A.” I wish her good luck, but from the article, it sounds like she might not make it.

I bet the reporter could have reached an expert or two to opine on how this girl’s life may be ruined by her being put in a situation where she is having trouble competing academically. I bet the reporter could have found someone with a qualified daughter with high grades and test scores who didn’t get in to UCLA — who is a citizen.

But then, reporters usually go trolling for experts only when they have something they want to say themselves, but need to say it through another person. And somehow I doubt this reporter is trying to make a point about accepting unqualified students who aren’t even citizens.

Let’s hope this isn’t yet another life ruined by politically correct attitudes.


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