October 1, 2006

Weekend Question 3: Guess Who’s Opposing the Fight Against International Aid Corruption?

Filed under: Business Moves,Scams,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 2:02 pm

ANSWER: It’s the countries in the developed world being fleeced.

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Paul Wolfowitz had a tough job when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense during the runup to and invasion of Iraq.

His job as the head of the World Bank may be tougher, if the madness he has encountered there so far, chronicled in a Sept. 25 subscription-only editorial in the Wall Street Journal, continues:

Corruption? Ho-Hum

You might think the biggest objections to a World Bank anticorruption push would come from, say, corrupt poor countries in danger of losing international aid. In fact, it’s such donor nations as Britain, France and Germany — and bureaucrats at international aid agencies — that seem to be complaining the loudest.

Welcome to the upside-down world of development aid, where a country’s actual use (or misuse) of money is much less important than how much it receives. Paul Wolfowitz, who took over as head of the World Bank last year, wants to change this paradigm, which won’t be easy. At an annual meeting of bank officials in Singapore last week, European elites let it be known that they much prefer a lending system that gives lip service to ending graft but in fact turns a blind eye to corrupt government officials on the receiving end of billions of dollars in foreign aid.

British Development Secretary Hilary Benn threatened to withhold $94 million in funding next year to protest the transparency and accountability conditions that Mr. Wolfowitz is implementing. Mr. Benn, along with his French and German counterparts who serve on the bank’s board of directors, finally relented after assurances from Mr. Wolfowitz that the board would play an oversight role. So the same countries that say Americans need to throw more taxpayer money at the developing world don’t seem to care how much of it is siphoned off by corrupt governments. The only word for this is bizarre.

Mr. Wolfowitz has said that this anticorruption drive “is about making certain that money goes to schools and textbooks for children, medicines for mothers and creating job opportunities for the poor — not to line the pockets of the rich and powerful.” These days as so often in the past, the latter is the norm.

….. Our guess is that the more than 40% of government revenue that (Cameroon’s ruler Paul) Biya receives each year via foreign aid isn’t doing much for the average Cameroonian, but it is helping Mr. Biya maintain power.

The World Bank says it has uncovered more than 2,000 instances of fraud, corruption and other misconduct related to its projects since 2001, a situation that led Mr. Wolfowitz to suspend more that $1 billion in loans to countries including Kenya, India, Bangladesh and — yes — Cameroon.

….. Mr. Wolfowitz’s detractors characterize his anticorruption efforts as “obsessive.” The Financial Times went so far as to imply that he doesn’t grasp the “complexity” of the problem, as if theft and bribery are difficult concepts.

Mr. Wolfowitz is being attacked precisely because he understands the situation all too well. As he put it last week, “better governance . . . is the key to reduction of poverty.” We’d go further and add that corruption tends to accompany too-powerful governments that give politicians and bureaucracies control over investment and other economic decisions. The World Bank’s own annual “Doing Business” survey documents this problem, even if some on the bank’s board apparently don’t read its own work. The last thing the world’s poor need is international aid organizations that indulge their oppressive governments.

This is beyond ridiculous. If Mr. Wolfowitz is successfully sidetracked in his efforts to make sure that money is spent or loaned as intended, his next “move” should be from the World Bank’s posh headquarters across town to congress — to speak out at hearings suggesting that the World Bank be defunded until its members decide to fight against corruption instead of enabling it.

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Previous Related Posts:

  • Aug. 6, 2006 — Column of the Day: Reality-Based Optimism on Ending World Poverty
  • July 6, 2005 — A Kenyan Economist Says “Stop Aid to Africa”
  • July 5, 2005 — Quote of the Day (on African Poverty)

Weekend Question 2: When Will The 527 Media Report Hillary’s Inconvenient Untruth about Her Husband Being Warned about OBL?

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 10:03 am

ANSWER: Don’t hold your breath. This post not only refutes Ms. Clinton’s contention, but also presents a case that her husband was distracted by (and perhaps even obsessed about) his impending impeachment by the House, at the exact time the warning about Osama Bin Laden’s plans to attack targets in the United States was communicated to him.

This could explain why Mrs. Clinton’s expression has changed little from the one she had on September 20, 2001, the night of President Bush’s post-9/11 speech before both houses of Congress ……

HillaryAtWspeech092001

….. to the one that accompanied Wednesday’s article where she defended her husband:

Hillary0906WithArticle

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Now to the story. Lots of sources have picked up on this, but the earliest that I saw was Jim Taranto’s item at Best of the Web on Wednesday (HT Porkopolis).

The underlying story in question is Hillary Clinton’s defense of her husband and simultaneous criticism of the Bush administration:

“I think my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take these attacks,” Hillary Clinton said. “I’m certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States’ he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team.”

There’s only one problem. Her husband was briefed on Friday, December 4, 1998, according to the 9/11 Commission report, as follows (text is about halfway through link):

SUBJECT: Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks

1. Reporting [-] suggests Bin Ladin and his allies are preparing for attacks in the US, including an aircraft hijacking to obtain the release of Shaykh ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, and Muhammad Sadiq ‘Awda. One source quoted a senior member of the Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG) saying that, as of late October, the IG had completed planning for an operation in the US on behalf of Bin Ladin, but that the operation was on hold.A senior Bin Ladin operative from Saudi Arabia was to visit IG counterparts in the US soon thereafter to discuss options-perhaps including an aircraft hijacking.

2. ….. Bin Ladin could be weighing other types of operations against US aircraft. Accord-ing to [-] the IG in October obtained SA-7 missiles and intended to move them from Yemen into Saudi Arabia to shoot down an Egyptian plane or, if unsuccessful, a US military or civilian aircraft.

3. [-] indicate the Bin Ladin organization or its allies are moving closer to implementing anti-US attacks at unspecified locations, but we do not know whether they are related to attacks on aircraft. …..

The first item definitely relates to possible attacks within the United States. The second probably doesn’t. The third certainly could.

So there is no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s backhanded claim that her husband never received warnings about planned attacks in the United States by Osama Bin Laden is false.

But equally importantly, I would suggest that Mr. Clinton had other things on his mind at the time that would have caused him not to treat the threat with the degree of urgency it deserved, as this portion of the impeachment timeline shows:

November 28, 1998: Republicans express disappointment and outrage at what some describe as President Clinton’s evasive and legalistic answers to the Judiciary Committee’s questions.

December 1, 1998: On a party-line vote, the House Judiciary Committee expands its impeachment inquiry to include alleged campaign finance abuses, approving subpoenas for Attorney General Janet Reno, FBI Director Louis Freeh and federal prosecutor Charles LaBella.

December 3, 1998: After two staffers look at internal Justice Department memos, Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde tells Republicans that campaign fund-raising will not be part of the impeachment debate.

December 4, 1998: Lawyers for President Bill Clinton ask the House Judiciary Committee for three to four days to make their defense presentation.

December 6, 1998: President Clinton’s attorneys are granted 30 hours over two days to make his defense case before the Judiciary Committee.

December 8, 1998: In a daylong session, President Clinton’s lawyers and three panels of witnesses testify on the president’s behalf, saying Clinton’s behavior does not warrant impeachment.

After the November 1998 congressional elections, the Democrats had picked up a few seats. Newt Gingrich had taken a lot of heat for te GOP’s narrower majority in the House, and had announced his resignation as Speaker of the House and his departure from Congress at the end of his term.

With Republican fortunes ebbing, Clinton’s minions clearly felt they had beaten the rap. So when a series of interrogratories arrived from Henry Hyde’s Judiciary Committee shortly after the election, they treated them with a level of disrespect bordering on ridicule. Here’s an excerpt from a November 29, 1998 Washington Post editorial about those responses (link is to item at ProQuest library database; story is not available on the unfettered Internet):

PRESIDENT CLINTON’S answers to 81 questions from the House Judiciary Committee were guided by one basic principle: Admit nothing. Though each question was phrased as a request for an admission or denial from the president, Mr. Clinton never once responded by simply using the word “admitted.”

When he was asked to admit or deny that he called Betty Currie on Jan. 18 at 11:02 p.m., for example, he responded: “According to White House records included in the OIC Referral, I called Ms. Currie’s residence on January 18, 1998, at or about 11:02 p.m.” Even when he was asked to admit or deny that he is the chief law enforcement officer of the country — hardly a point of serious contention — he could not bring himself to offer a straight answer, giving, instead, a lesson in constitutional structure that was, presumably, not what the questioners had in mind. “The President is frequently referred to as the chief law enforcement officer, although nothing in the Constitution specifically designates the President as such,” he wrote, noting that “the law enforcement function is a component” of the president’s executive power.

The only misconduct to which the president was, in fact, willing to admit were those acts that cannot possibly get him into any more trouble.

Interviewed by PBS at the time, Arkansas congressman and Judiciary Committee member Asa Hutchinson reacted strongly:

But of 81 requests to admit or deny facts, none of the 81 were admitted. You had to read through and answer to figure out what the President was saying. I think that some of it is helpful in determining what’s an issue. It’s important to note that the President has not admitted any legal wrongdoing. And that’s a responsibility of the committee to determine the facts of this case and whether there’s been any wrongdoing. And he’s insisted that he did not lie under oath in the Paula Jones deposition, nor did he lie under oath in the grand jury testimony. And so that is still a factual issue, a legal issue that we have to determine, and he has denied that wrongdoing. People think that he’s admitted wrongdoing, and he – these 81 answers makes it clear that he persists in that denial.

Now, grasp the significance of this and you’ll understand why I believe that the warning about Osama Bin Laden was the LAST thing on Bill Clinton’s mind on the morning of December 4, 1998 — Until just days earlier, Bill Clinton and his team thought that they could effectively rewrite history in their interrogatory responses, and that the Judiciary Committee, after the negative November election result for Republicans, would not have the nerve to go forward with the impeachment process. This was the conventional wisdom in Washington at the time on both sides of the aisle. If the Clinton team’s expectations were correct, they could then point to the interrogatory responses as having “set the record straight,” and claim to a pliant press that the opposition must have agreed with them because it didn’t proceed further.

But the Clinton team overplayed their hand badly. It’s more than a little possible that had Mr. Clinton genuinely owned up to the obvious misdeeds he committed, the Judiciary Committee might have been persuaded to censure him, and would not have gone forward with articles of impeachment. It’s clear that they knew the ultimate chance of conviction in the Senate were low, so they may have welcomed a reason not to press forward.

But because of the brazen denials of what everyone knew to be true, Henry Hyde and his committee instead became more determined than ever to go forward with impeachment. They essentially felt that their hand had been forced, and that they would not sit by and enable the Clinton team’s attempted whitewash. The expansion of the committee’s inquiry, as noted on December 1 above, showed everyone, including the administration, that, like it or not, impeachment hearings were on the way.

I believe that Bill Clinton and his team were blindsided by the reaction of Hyde and the Judiciary Committee, and spent most of the next seven days (December 1-7) preparing a defense that they had previously thought would be unnecessary.

The December 4 briefing about Osama Bin Laden’s plans came right smack dab in the middle of those preparations. And contrary to the image portrayed, Bill Clinton was not a “compartmentalizer” — instead, a book by a Washington Post reporters Susan Schmidt and Michael Weisskopf (Truth at Any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton), written during the summer after the House’s impeachment and the Senate’s supposed trial, revealed that Clinton was constantly obsessed with what he was going through and nearly uncontrollably angry about it.

It’s very plausible that an angry Bill Clinton, who just days ago had thought he was home-free, and that his long Lewinsky-related nightmare was over, decided that he would worry about Osama Bin Laden later. As we now know from the historical record, despite knowledge of the dangers of inaction clearly indicated in the report Hillary Clinton lied about the existence of, and despite numerous opportunities to act, Bill Clinton’s administration failed to kill or capture the man who masterminded the 9/11 attacks.

So I hate to have to break it to Hillary Clinton, but there it is — Not only was your husband briefed about credible threat and plans by Osama Bin Laden to attack targets inside the US, there is ample reason to believe, based on when he was briefed about them, that he did not heed them.

I would also question whether Bin Laden’s threat to attack targets in the United States was ever appropriately communicated to the incoming George W. Bush administration, for the same reasons as I outlined at the end of this previous post, where I concluded:

The overall point, based on the behavior of outgoing administration’s staff, is that there is very good reason to doubt if there was any kind of effective transition in any area from Clinton to Bush. I also see no good reason to believe that anti-terror strategy would have received a transition treatment any more mature than that seen in other matters.

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UPDATE: Anchoress linked to a 2002 interview by Jim Angle of Fox News with Richard Clarke, which has this nugget –

ANGLE: And none of that really changed until we were attacked and then it was …

CLARKE: No, that’s not true. In the spring, the Bush administration changed — began to change Pakistani policy, um, by a dialogue that said we would be willing to lift sanctions. So we began to offer carrots, which made it possible for the Pakistanis, I think, to begin to realize that they could go down another path, which was to join us and to break away from the Taliban. So that’s really how it started.

….. ANGLE: So, just to finish up if we could then, so what you’re saying is that there was no — one, there was no plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually the first changes since October of ’98 were made in the spring months just after the administration came into office?

CLARKE: You got it. That’s right.

Positivity: St. Wendelin Parish celebrates 150 years

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

The church is near Fostoria, OH, and has been a positive presence for a century and a half:

St. Wendelin Parish celebrates 150 years
German traditions still present in proud community
By Mary Knapke

ST. MARYS DEANERY – Parishioners who worship at St. Wendelin Church in the northern part of the archdiocese are reminded daily of their history as they celebrate their 150th year.

The present church, with 68 families and 255 members, dates to 1870. Its eight-stop pipe organ, which was installed in 1908, still provides music. The Stations of the Cross, with inscriptions written in German below each station, were given in 1915, and donated bells installed the following year are rung by hand before Mass, at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and before weddings and funerals. Last year, there were four baptisms, three first communions and four weddings.

Four daughters and seven sons of the parish entered religious life. And for the past 150 years, Missionaries of the Precious Blood have ministered to the faithful.

“We have a wonderful parish and community spirit at St. Wendelin,” said Missionaries of the Precious Blood Father Larry Wyen, pastor of the five churches in the St. Henry Cluster in the St. Marys Deanery. “It’s a very warm parish that takes a lot of pride in (its) heritage.”

A banner that hangs from the choir loft features a drawing of the church, the outline of each parishioner’s hand and the theme of the anniversary year, “Many Hands Together Have Built Our Church Family.” The banner is symbolic of the many hands that organized celebratory events that began in January, including a silent auction, children’s Way of the Cross, Easter egg hunt, May crowning, parish picnic, ice cream social and living rosary, culminating with the celebratory Mass, at which Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk was the main celebrant.

In his homily, the archbishop addressed the “implications and ramifications for every facet of our life” when Christians acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.

First, as individuals, “we must have Jesus at the very center of our lives,” the archbishop said. Christians must also remember that belief in Christ goes hand-in-hand with connecting with a community of believers, that faith implies suffering and that Christians are called to action in support of the poor and oppressed.

“Acknowledging the lordship of Jesus, then, is a pretty heavy thing,” Archbishop Pilarczyk said. “It implies centering Christ in our lives . . . active participation in the church . . . effort and even suffering. And it implies obligation to witness to the world at every point in which we come into contact with that world.”

In relation to St. Wendelin’s anniversary, the archbishop said, the implications of acknowledging the lordship of Jesus extend to the parish community as a whole. A parish must see itself as part of the worldwide church community; parish life calls for constant effort and suffering in order to succeed and thrive; and parish life has to bear fruit in the service of others.

“What we are aiming for in the life of a parish is a flowering of the lordship of Jesus in the hearts of these particular people in this particular parish,” he said.

“I’m glad and grateful for the life of the Lord that has been growing in this part of our diocese for 150 years,” he said. “The Lord has been in our midst here for many years and in many ways. The Lord is present and active here now. For all that, we offer God our thanks.”
Helping the archbishop were members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, including Father Wyen; Father Tony Fortman, associate pastor; Father Angelo Anthony, provincial director of the Missionaries’ Cincinnati province; Father Linus Evers, a native son of the parish; and former pastors, Fathers Matthew Jozefiak, Milton Ballor, David Hoying and Robert Reinhart. Following the Mass, a dinner was held at the St. Henry American Legion Hall. Parish afghans and history books are available for purchase through the parish office.

“The archbishop was very open and kind in his presence and in interacting with the parishioners, and they were very appreciative of that,” said Father Wyen.

St. Wendelin Parish was founded in 1856 when nine pioneer members secured permission from Archbishop John Baptist Purcell and nearby pastors to start a church. They pooled their money to purchase five acres of land with an unfinished frame building for $200. A general store was on the first floor and the second story redesigned as a mission church. St. Wendelin, a popular saint in central Europe, was chosen as the parish’s patron. During that time, a Precious Blood priest visited every four weeks.