Squashed

A blog of politics, law, religion, and the tricky spots where they collide.

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Congress sought to deal with this problem in 1997 by passing the Leahy amendment, a provision named after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that prohibits aid to units and individuals thought to be involved in gross human rights violations…. Such vetting ought to be built into the new partnership program. But the administration is seeking to neuter the Leahy amendment by giving the defense secretary the authority to disregard it by asserting that “it is in the national security interest to do so.” In fact, allowing aid to flow to foreign military units that commit major human rights crimes cannot be in the U.S. interest in any circumstances. Congress should reject the ­exemption.

rncresearch:

CBS: New Scandal At VA Involving Disability Benefits

This is a big problem, assuming it turns out to be accurate. The detail that isn’t mentioned in the story is that back disability pay is typically dated to the initial application. So changing that date may be effectively stealing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars from Veterans.

(There wasn’t quite enough detail in the story to determine whether that was happening.)

Citigroup and U.S. Reach $7 Billion Mortgage Settlement - NYTimes.com

NPR quoted some finance guy saying something to the effect that the Justice Department should prosecute people criminally rather than going after the banks for these gigantic civil settlements. After all, these settlements mostly hurt the companies and the shareholders.

The only problem is that deals like this don’t rule out criminal prosecution. Those aren’t mutually exclusive things. Prosecuting the little fish would treat their transgressions like isolated incidents. They weren’t.

A government watchdog agency said an estimated $106 billion in payments were made in error last year: meaning they were the wrong amount, went to the wrong person or lacked sufficient documentation.

Government makes $106 billion in improper payments - Jul. 9, 2014

CNN.com is basically Clickhole at this point. The headline linking to this article said, “Feds send $106 billion to wrong people.” That’s not what the article says at all.

A payment made without sufficient documentation is far different from a payment made to the wrong person. It’s just that somebody didn’t get all their paperwork in order. Maybe there’s a problem behind that. Or maybe it’s just that somebody thought the paperwork wasn’t as important as the Government Accountability Office thought it was. Little Susie needs a reduced price school lunch. Little Susie obviously qualifies. But maybe somebody decided to just sign off on the thing rather than insisting that Susie’s parents document their lack of income by going to whatever office they need to go to and filling out a pain-in-the-neck form in a language they maybe or maybe don’t understand.

So do your paperwork. Maybe it’s important. But “missing paperwork” is completely different than “we paid the wrong guy.”

virtualephemera:

englishprof:

Facebook Users Denounce Steven Spielberg’s Senseless Killing of Dinosaurs
For what it’s worth, I showed the above picture to my 3.5-year-old son, whose entire knowledge of the movie has been gleaned from like four YouTube clips. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Me: Hey. What’s this?Son: A dinosaur.Me: What kind?Son: Triceratops. Me: What’s it from?Son: I don’t know—ummm, oh, Jurassic Park!Me: Thank you.Son: Why was that triceratops sick?


The mystery of what caused dinosaur extinction has finally be solved. Damn you, Spielberg. You son of a bitch.

"If time travel were possible, why don’t we see all the time travelers?"

Why? Because you’re too boring. Who wants to visit this century. The time travelers are obviously all hunting dinosaurs to extinction.

virtualephemera:

englishprof:

Facebook Users Denounce Steven Spielberg’s Senseless Killing of Dinosaurs

For what it’s worth, I showed the above picture to my 3.5-year-old son, whose entire knowledge of the movie has been gleaned from like four YouTube clips. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Me: Hey. What’s this?
Son: A dinosaur.
Me: What kind?
Son: Triceratops.
Me: What’s it from?
Son: I don’t know—ummm, oh, Jurassic Park!
Me: Thank you.
Son: Why was that triceratops sick?

The mystery of what caused dinosaur extinction has finally be solved.

Damn you, Spielberg. You son of a bitch.

"If time travel were possible, why don’t we see all the time travelers?"

Why? Because you’re too boring. Who wants to visit this century. The time travelers are obviously all hunting dinosaurs to extinction.

A lot of congressfolk are demanding that Obama visit the border

It’s not clear what he’s supposed to do while he’s there. Presumably pose for photographs for negative campaign adds. But I suppose anybody can demand whatever they want of the President.

Can we change that rule slightly, though? I’d like the rule to be that you can demand anything you want to demand from the President unless you’re a member of a Congress with single digit approval ratings. Because maybe you need to prioritize getting your own branch of government in shape. Perhaps hold off on throwing stones until you figure out how to get that approval rating up to, say, 25%?

When spying on people outside America, the president announced that the intelligence services will listen to the phones of friends and allies only when there is a compelling national-security reason for doing so, rather than just because they can. America is not explicit about who its friends and allies are, so this pledge may lead to “some nervous glances around the table at the next NATO summit”, says one diplomat. But it has been welcomed by European allies, some of whom privately admit that there is a good deal of hypocrisy in the criticism of America’s spooks by allies, since their own spies do similar things, and even a smattering of jealousy, as America’s are better at it.