Archive for February 21st, 2009

President Obama’s–Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board–RAT Board–King Rat’s Chicago Corruption–The Fix is In The Stimulus Bill!

Posted on February 21, 2009. Filed under: Blogroll, Economics, Investments, Law, Links, Politics, Quotations, Regulations, Taxes, Video | Tags: , , |




President-elect Announces Committee for Economic Oversight


Part 2 2/17/09 President Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Denver, CO




King Rat (1965) – Vexley’s class



Looks like President Obama, aka King Rat, made sure the Chicago Way was included in the stimulus bill by making it possible to stop any investigation and audit  by the various Federal Departments and Agencies inspector generals into wrong doing resulting from spending associated with the so-called “stimulus package” :

The RAT hiding deep inside the stimulus bill

By Byron York

“…The provision, which attracted virtually no attention in the debate over the 1,073-page stimulus bill, creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — the RAT Board, as it’s known by the few insiders who are aware of it. The board would oversee the in-house watchdogs, known as inspectors general, whose job is to independently investigate allegations of wrongdoing at various federal agencies, without fear of interference by political appointees or the White House.


In the name of accountability and transparency, Congress has given the RAT Board the authority to ask “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.” If the inspector general doesn’t want to follow the wishes of the RAT Board, he’ll have to write a report explaining his decision to the board, as well as to the head of his agency (from whom he is supposedly independent) and to Congress. In the end, a determined inspector general can probably get his way, but only after jumping through bureaucratic hoops that will inevitably make him hesitate to go forward.

When Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime champion of inspectors general, read the words “conduct or refrain from conducting,” alarm bells went off. The language means that the board — whose chairman will be appointed by the president — can reach deep inside a federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some particularly sensitive subject. Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target. …”

“…Last Friday, when he learned the RAT Board was in the final bill, Grassley wanted to voice his objections on the Senate floor. But there was no time in the rush to a vote, so Grassley’s statement went unread. “It’s fitting that the acronym for this board is RAT,” he was prepared to tell the Senate, “because that’s what I smell here.” …”


Smelling a RAT

“…First, let’s ask ourselves how this stimulates the economy.  Why include this in an emergency stimulus bill when it has nothing to do with stimulus or economics?  This rule change should have come in separate debate in Congress — like so many other portions of Porkulus.

It does, however, have everything to do with Hope and Change.  What the RAT Board can do, as York points out, is direct or quash investigations by Inspectors General throughout the federal bureaucracy.  Until now, IGs have had independence of action in order to avoid charges of politicization (remember that word?) and to conduct probes without interference from the Department of Justice, the White House, or Congress.  Now they will answer to Congress not on general performance, but on the specifics of their probes.

How did it get into Porkulus?  Grassley says it wasn’t in the original bill passed in the Senate, and it suddenly appeared in the conference version.  No one has claimed ownership of the RAT Board yet, but clearly the Democratic majority wants full control over oversight in the bureaucracy — which more or less means an end to effective oversight over the majority, which is the entire point of the IG position.  After all, if we could rely on politicians and bureaucrats to police themselves, we wouldn’t need Constitutional checks and balances at all. …”


“…Obama blocks transparency on

That’s just one of several reported transparency and related problems with the stimulus bill, but let’s tackle it first.

A sneaky text file embedded at initially prevented Google, and other search engines, from indexing content on the site. And, no, don’t tell me this was accidental. The file was embedded for three hours, then removed; all the biggie tech-type online mags seemed to have picked up on this.

“…(As CNET notes, the file was just three lines of text, and was written expressly for the purpose of blocking web-crawling.)

Oh, this is far and away from the first time the Obama Administration has used the robots.txt file to block crawling of various government websites.

That said, Chris Soghoian says don’t judge Team Obama’s commitment, or lack thereof, to transparency just by the robots.txt file usage.

Of course, Chris earlier commented on the White House allowing YouTube tracking cookies on government websites.

Meanwhile, uberconservative writer Byron York smells a RAT – namely, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, or the RAT Board, in the stimulus bill.

If York is even half right in his worries, about how the RAT board has the power to try to get Cabinet department and Federal agency inspectors general to curtail investigations…

It’s scary. …”


To be fair to President Obama, he is not the King Rat character in the novel or movie, but closer to the character of Robin Grey, a British officer and Provost Marshal of the prison camp.



Background Articles and Videos


King Rat the Movie

King Rat

King Rat is a 1962 novel by James Clavell. Set during World War II, Clavell’s literary debut describes the struggle for survival of British, Australian and American prisoners of war in a Japanese camp in Singapore — a description informed by Clavell’s own three-year experience as a prisoner in the notorious Changi Prison camp. One of the major characters, Peter Marlowe, is based upon Clavell’s younger self.

Despite its fearsome reputation, Changi was historically among the better-run Japanese camps, with only 850 deaths among the 87,000 prisoners who passed through.[1]

King Rat retroactively became the first book published of Clavell’s sweeping series, the Asian Saga, and the fourth chronologically. Several main characters from King Rat appear again in Noble House. …”

“…The novel opens in early 1945. Peter Marlowe, a young British Flight Lieutenant, has been a P.O.W. since 1942. Marlowe comes to the attention of the “King,” an American corporal who has become the most successful trader and black marketeer in Changi, when the King sees him conversing in Malay. Marlowe’s language skill, intelligence, honesty, and winning personality cause the King to befriend him and attempt to involve him in black market deals. This, in turn, brings Marlowe to the attention of Robin Grey, a British officer and Provost Marshal of the camp, who has developed a Javert-like obsession with the King and hopes to arrest him for violating camp regulations. Grey is attempting to maintain strict military discipline among the prisoners and sees the King as the antithesis of everything he believes.

Despite being only an enlisted man and without distinction in civilian life, the King has become a major power in the enclosed society of the P.O.W. camp through his charisma and intelligence. Trading with Korean guards, local Malay villagers, and other prisoners for food, clothing, information, and what few luxuries are available, the King keeps himself and his fellow American prisoners alive. Even senior officers come to him for help in selling their valuables to buy extra food, and other officers are secretly on his payroll.

Grey, the son of a working class family, is a legal positivist, following the rules for their own sake, and using his position as Provost Marshal to gain a status otherwise unavailable to him in British society. …”

“…The novel can be understood as an examination of the ethics of individualism and natural law in opposition to collectivism and legal positivism. In this sense, the novel takes on a certain amount of political significance in that it establishes two forms of political ideology that Clavell would explore in his entire Asian Saga series. The King relies on free trade to survive, in which he reaps the most reward, although he does help all the men who are associated with him. On the other hand, the system Grey attempts to enforce is one of Socialistic equality in that every man would only get an equal share what was rationed by their captors, regardless of individual merit. …”

In recent years, some critics have compared the philosophy and character of the King to that of Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. Clavell himself lent credence to this claim by sending Ayn Rand a copy of Noble House in 1981 with the following inscription – “This is for Ayn Rand – one of the real, true talents on this earth for which many, many thanks. James C, New York, 2 Sept 81.”[ 


Will We Be Able to Follow the Money?

by Jennifer LaFleur, ProPublica

“…Will [1] — the oversight Web site promised in the stimulus bill — really give the public enough information about how their money is spent?

While the stimulus package passed by the House of Representatives earlier today lays out some public reporting requirements, it also leaves some wiggle room. And that’s what worries some transparency advocates.

Any direct recipient of stimulus funds must give the agencies they’ve received funds from details about their projects. Then agencies, in turn, have to make those details public. But the bill doesn’t clearly define how states and other recipients of the money will have to report information.

“These could be pdfs on and that wouldn’t be the kind of transparency that we would urge there being,” said Sean Moulton, director of federal information policy for OMB Watch [2]. “We wanted a strong requirement on the government to establish a standard reporting system. So you’re not getting 50 different structures.” 


House Makes Transparency a Priority for Stimulus

“…Transparency and oversight in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extend beyond posting spending data on the Internet. The economic recovery bill establishes an “Accountability and Transparency Board.” The oversight body would be headed by the new Chief Performance Officer, Nancy Killefer, and composed of six inspectors general and/or deputy secretaries from various federal agencies. It would be charged with coordinating and conducting oversight of federal spending under the law to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse by submitting monthly reports to Congress on contract and grant awards, contractor performance, and the adequacy of contractor and acquisition oversight within the federal government.

In addition to the Board, the bill would also create an “Independent Advisory Panel” and require regular oversight by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm. Composed of experts in the fields of economics, public finance, and other related disciplines, the Independent Advisory Panel would be charged with advising the Accountability and Transparency Board with an aim to prevent and otherwise identify waste, fraud, and abuse related to spending under the law. The bill also appropriates $25 million to GAO for the ongoing oversight of and reporting on the stimulus bill.

OMB Watch has analyzed the bill’s transparency and accountability section and has found areas in which Congress could expand or improve the legislation as drafted. Our analysis expounds on these areas in some detail, but in short we suggest the bill stipulate that:

  • be open to indexing by commercial search engines
  • All contract and grant transactions should be posted on, with a special notation that such contracts and grants are created through the stimulus legislation
  • All reports, findings, minutes and agendas of meetings, official letters and correspondence of the Board, and any data or information gathered during investigations by the Board be made publicly available and posted on within five business days of the release of information  …”


Certain Firms, Industries Got Last-Minute Gifts in Stimulus

“…The political parties fought over words as well as numbers. For example, Democrats removed GOP language added in the Senate that would have barred the use of stimulus funds for stadiums, community parks, art centers, museums and highway beautification. The bill does forbid localities from using stimulus funds for casinos, aquariums, zoos, golf courses and swimming pools, but the federal government is not bound by the rule.

 Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, railed against a provision that he said would undermine the independence of watchdog agencies within the government. The bill sets up a new panel, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which has the authority to request “that an inspector general conduct or refrain from conducting an audit or investigation.”

“Any new limitation on the independence of inspectors general is dangerous,” Grassley said.  …”


‘‘American Recovery and Reinvestment

Act of 2009’’


 Starts on Page 172


Rebel Yell: Taxpayers Revolt Against Gimme-Mania

By Michelle Malkin

“…Plans are underway for anti-stimulus-palooza protests in Overland Park, Kansas, Nashville, and New York — home of smug Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer’s derisive comment on the Senate floor about the “chattering classes” who oppose reckless spending has not been forgotten or forgiven. The insult spurred central Kentucky talk show host Leland Conway to organize a pork rind drive. Angry taxpayers bombarded the senator’s office with 1,500 bags of cracklins.

Disgraced Democrat Sen. John Edwards was right about one thing: There are two Americas. One America is full of moochers, big and small, corporate and individual, trampling over themselves with their hands out demanding endless bailouts. The other America is full of disgusted, hard-working citizens getting sick of getting played for chumps and punished for practicing personal responsibility.

Now is the time for all good taxpayers to turn the tables on free-lunching countrymen and their enablers in Washington. Community organizing helped propel Barack Obama to the White House. It can work for fiscal conservatism, too. …”


Jim Rogers On Stimulus Bill and Who is to blame for financial crisis


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Joe Biden to preside over “RAT board”

By Michelle Malkin  


“…There’s a term for names that aptly suit their owners: Aptronyms.

Here’s a fresh new example. The board that will oversee, to be headed by Bozo the VP Joe Biden, will go by the aptronym “RAT Board.”

Yes, RAT Board. (I bet some of you will have FUN designing that logo!)

Via the INPUT blog, looks like the RAT Board will be stimulating a lot of new bureaucrat jobs: …”



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