Exhibit A, of course, is HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the historic disaster of the ObamaCare rollout, whose aftermath has given us so many wonderful congressional hearings filled with mighty six-figure bureaucrats claiming that nobody had any idea what was going on, during the three and a half years they were blowing a billion dollars on web infrastructure, training, and marketing. There was no oversight… so the overseers cannot be held responsible for the ensuing disaster. There was no management… so the managers must be allowed to keep their jobs, every single one of them. It really is like watching a gang of drunken frat boys claim nobody was at the wheel when their party van slammed into a tree.
ObamaCare is the paramount example of Derp Government, but it’s far from the only one. Last week, we had the spectacle of the Obama Administration’s top Afghanistan specialists rolling into a congressional hearing without the foggiest notion of how many casualties there have been this year, or how much the war effort cost. Hey, man, nobody told us there was going to be a test, or we would have done some homework instead of partying all night.
No better prepared was the hapless clown currently serving as Secretary of State, onetime Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who apparently didn’t know that North Korea already has nuclear weapons when he moaned, “To have a nuclear weapon, potentially, in the hands of somebody like Kim Jong In… Jun… just becomes even more unacceptable.” That’s Kim Jong Un, Mr. Secretary. And he does indeed have nuclear weapons in his pudgy hands, as did his father. But in the crazy who-gives-a-damn degeneracy of the Obama Administration, where trillion-dollar industry takeovers are made up on the fly, no one expects the Secretary of State to have the geopolitical knowledge of the average college freshman. He says he’s real smart, and that’s good enough for the media.
Then there’s the bizarre spectacle of Fake Sign Language Guy, a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of crime and violent behavior, coupled with a blissful lack of knowledge about sign language, who somehow managed to get on stage with the President of the United States at the Mandela memorial in South Africa. It turns out that Fake Sign Language Guy, Thamsanqa Jantjie, participated in a mob action that killed two men by “necklacing” them with tires full of burning gasoline.
“Questions have been raised over the screening of the man who has been the subject of complaints from the deaf community before, and who said he had hallucinations and saw angels while interpreting at the stadium in Soweto,” writes the UK Independent. Why, yes, I think there are a few questions to be asked about that, especially since the President is pleased to bill taxpayers for a titanic entourage of security personnel and aides, every time he travels. But nobody in this vast royal procession bothered to apply even the most elementary scrutiny to the interpreter that would wind up standing next to the President? It’s not the first time the vaunted Secret Service has been caught metaphorically flat on its back during the Obama years, either. Wait, make that literally flat on its back.
The combination of unlimited money, total power, and absolutely zero accountability is intoxicating. It’s hardly a new feature of this Administration – it’s been building for decades in the depths of imperial agencies, completely insulated from both fiscal reality and the voting public. No degree of failure means extinction for any big government program. The good times will never stop rolling. Careless disregard for taxpayer money has given us infuriating carnivals of excess, from the lavish conference parties of the General Services Administration, to the goofy training videos of the Internal Revenue Service. A common thread running through these scandals is how silly they are. Nobody with a shred of common sense or responsibility would approve them. But Uncle Sam is living like the Great Gatsby these days, and few of his bureaucratic nephews see themselves as the careful stewards of scarce and sacred taxpayer dollars.
Which brings us to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest scandal, and this one’s a doozy. NBC News tells the tale of John C. Beale, a “climate change” expert who cheated the government out of a few million dollars in outrageously lavish salary and benefits over the course of a decade… by never showing up for work… because he claimed he was working as a CIA spy in Pakistan.
John C. Beale, who pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade, will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his lies were a “crime of massive proportion” that were “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.
Beale’s lawyer, while acknowledging his guilt, has asked for leniency and offered a psychological explanation for the climate expert’s bizarre tales.
“With the help of his therapist,” wrote attorney John Kern, “Mr. Beale has come to recognize that, beyond the motive of greed, his theft and deception were animated by a highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior.” Kern also said Beale was driven “to manipulate those around him through the fabrication of grandiose narratives … that are fueled by his insecurities.”
Well, that actually sounds plausible, given that “climate change” is the biggest, most delusional fraud ever perpetrated. A lot of the people who marinate in that atmosphere of self-righteous quackery lose touch with reality.
It’s long past time for the Church of Global Warming to start paying for its own clergy, because they’re not cheap dates:
Beyond Beale’s individual fate, his case raises larger questions about how he was able to get away with his admitted fraud for so long, according to federal and congressional investigators. Two new reports by the EPA inspector general’s office conclude that top officials at the agency “enabled” Beale by failing to verify any of his phony cover stories about CIA work, and failing to check on hundreds of thousands of dollars paid him in undeserved bonuses and travel expenses — including first-class trips to London where he stayed at five-star hotels and racked up thousands in bills for limos and taxis.
Until he retired in April after learning he was under federal investigation, Beale, an NYU grad with a masters from Princeton, was earning a salary and bonuses of $206,000 a year, making him the highest paid official at the EPA. He earned more money than Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator and, for years, his immediate boss, according to agency documents.
In September, Beale, who served as a “senior policy adviser” in the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, pled guilty to defrauding the U.S. government out of nearly $900,000 since 2000. Beale perpetrated his fraud largely by failing to show up at the EPA for months at a time, including one 18-month stretch starting in June 2011 when he did “absolutely no work,” as Kern, Beale’s lawyer, acknowledged in his court filing.
And who would miss him? Dogs don’t notice when their ticks take the day off. At this point, the machinery of the “climate change” fraud runs itself. Billions of dollars are flogged out of the private sector with automated whips. Sign a couple of reports, write a few op-eds inveighing against “deniers,” announce that every hurricane and typhoon is the wrath of the Angry Sky Gods, declare that cold winters are proof of global warming, declare that hot winters are proof of global warming, work with radical greens to target the next bit of the Industrial Revolution you can bully the populace into renouncing… most of it can be done by underlings, and one imagines the highest-paid official at the EPA has a lot of those.
Quite a bit of Derp Government is running on autopilot. It’s filled with redundant and obsolete agencies, whose primary objective is demonstrating they are too under-funded to accomplish anything. The most outrageous, and yet comically awesome, example is a scam artist who gets away with bilking the government out of a $200k salary, limo service, first-class air fare, and five-star hotels for a decade while telling anyone who asks what he actually does that he’s too busy to answer, because he, Jack Ryan, James Bond, and Jason Bourne are getting ready to take out a terror cell in Pakistan. At least Beale had a sense of humor about it:
To explain his long absences, Beale told agency officials — including McCarthy — that he was engaged in intelligence work for the CIA, either at agency headquarters or in Pakistan. At one point he claimed to be urgently needed in Pakistan because the Taliban was torturing his CIA replacement, according to Sullivan.
“Due to recent events that you have probably read about, I am in Pakistan,” he wrote McCarthy in a Dec. 18, 2010 email. “Got the call Thurs and left Fri. Hope to be back for Christmas ….Ho, ho, ho.”
But he didn’t work for the CIA, ever, and didn’t even have a security clearance. He spent the decade living large at his Northern Virginia house and Cape Cod vacation home, when he wasn’t jet-setting at taxpayer expense. He was constantly zipping off to conferences and violating the official per diem expense limit by 100 percent, and his expense vouchers were routinely approved by his colleagues. For ten damn years.
Nor was that Beale’s only deception, according to court documents. In 2008, Beale didn’t show up at the EPA for six months, telling his boss that he was part of a special multi-agency election-year project relating to “candidate security.” He billed the government $57,000 for five trips to California that were made purely “for personal reasons,” his lawyer acknowledged. (His parents lived there.) He also claimed to be suffering from malaria that he got while serving in Vietnam. According to his lawyer’s filing, he didn’t have malaria and never served in Vietnam. He told the story to EPA officials so he could get special handicap parking at a garage near EPA headquarters.
I wonder if he got a magic hat while he was non-serving in Vietnam. No doubt the experience is seared into his memory. And he used that story to scam a handicapped parking space!
How did Derp Government finally catch this legendary grifter? Well, he had a big, splashy retirement aboard a yacht, attended by top EPA officials… and then he kept collecting paychecks. For another year and a half. And then someone at the EPA finally decided something was amiss.
This blood-boiling outrage is casually written off by EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan as a product of agency culture. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s describing a culture of mind-blowing, reform-proof arrogance and irresponsibility:
Sullivan said he doubted Beale’s fraud could occur at any federal agency other than the EPA. “There’s a certain culture here at the EPA where the mission is the most important thing,” he said. “They don’t think like criminal investigators. They tend to be very trusting and accepting.”
In a statement to NBC News, Alisha Johnson, McCarthy’s press secretary, said that Beale’s fraud was “uncovered” by McCarthy while she was head of the Office of Air and Radiation. “[Beale] is a convicted felon who went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the U.S. government over the span of more than a decade,” said Johnson. “EPA has worked in coordination with its inspector general and the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Agency has [put] in place additional safeguards to help protect against fraud and abuse related to employee time and attendance, including strengthening supervisory controls of time and attendance, improved review of employee travel and a tightened retention incentive processes.”
But he didn’t go to “great lengths.” This was easy. He gamed a system that was institutionally incapable of seeing through the flimsiest story ever concocted, a story that could have been shredded with a couple of phone calls. And he did it from the very pinnacle of privilege and power, not the dark and faceless recesses of a cubicle farm. Our titanic super-government, staffed with the best and brightest, claims it can run every industry in America better than its owners… but nobody noticed that the highest-paid “expert” at one of the most powerful Washington agencies spent ten years goofing off at home. There’s really nothing all that surprising about the failure of ObamaCare, is there? This entire system has passed the point of caring what happens after it wins the latest political victory and expands further. It thinks always about its frontiers, never about the careless rot at its core.
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Otherwise, Americans don’t hear much about the agency. So many of them would probably be as unpleasantly surprised as I was by a new report by Open the Books, a nonprofit group that promotes government transparency. Its look into the EPA’s spending habits is alarming, to put it mildly.
The first thing that strikes you is the EPA’s spendthrift ways. Even if times were flush and government coffers were overflowing (which is far from the case), the agency spends money like it’s expecting the Second Coming next week. The Open the Books audit covered tens of thousands of checks the EPA wrote from 2000 to 2014, with hundreds of millions going toward such things as luxury furnishings, sports equipment, and “environmental justice” grants to raise awareness of global warming.
The second thing that hits you is where the rest of the money goes. The headline of an op-ed by economist Stephen Moore in Investor’s Business Daily sums it up well: “Why Does the EPA Need Guns, Ammo, and Armor to Protect the Environment?” And not just a few weapons. Open the Books found that the agency has spent millions of dollars over the last decade on guns, ammo, body armor, camouflage equipment, unmanned aircraft, amphibious assault ships, radar and night-vision gear, and other military-style weaponry and surveillance activities.
Among the EPA’s purchases:
The list goes on. It’s filled with the kind of equipment you’d expect to be purchased by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not an agency ostensibly designed to protect the environment.
But as it turns out, armed, commando-style raids by the EPA are not unheard of. One such raid occurred in 2013, in a small Alaskan town where armed agents in full body armor reportedly confronted local miners accused of polluting local waters. Perhaps the agency is gearing up for more operations like that one?
If so, the EPA wouldn’t be all that unique. According to the Justice Department, there are now 40 federal agencies with more than 100,000 officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests. They include the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The EPA audit underscores the need for serious budget cuts at the agency. In July, before the Colorado spill and the Open the Books report, environmental policy expert Nicolas Loris called on Congress to shrink the EPA’s budget, outlining several specific cuts that could be done immediately and with no detrimental effect on the environment.