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Bad Governance

Obama's first year. Tasers. Pennsylvania senators. Plus more.

1.29.10

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RESOURCE CURSE
Re: George H. Wittman's Ghana's Oil Bonanza Battle:

At first glance, the promise of Ghana's impending oil boom paints a picture of a country with everything to gain. But as Mr. Wittman rightly stated, when oil arrives on the scene, things can get complicated quite quickly. Ideally, the anticipated oil revenues are the pathway out of poverty for the 80 percent of Ghanaians living on $2 per day. However, this never came to fruition in oil-rich countries like Nigeria and Angola where billions have been squandered and mismanaged. Ghana runs the risk of following the same path -- one that does not lead to citizens benefiting from resource revenues.

This time around, for the oil boom to fulfill its potential in Ghana, transparency and accountability by both the government and oil companies are essential. If this industry is to work for Ghana, President Mills should make good on his March, 2009 pledge to disclose all petroleum contracts. He must insist on transparency from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and other government institutions.

And for their part, companies operating in Ghana and elsewhere should disclose the payments they make to host governments. The US Congress can help foster an environment of accountability by introducing and passing mandatory payment disclosure legislation, which would require major oil and mining companies, including many invested in Ghana, to publish what they pay to host governments. Ghanaian citizens can use this information to hold the government to its reputation for good governance and devote oil revenues to the long-term reduction of poverty.
-- Ian Gary

Senior Policy Manager - Extractive Industries
Oxfam America
Washington, D.C.

George H. Wittman replies:
It is my understanding that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 requires all American corporations operating abroad to file regular reports on their activities. It is the responsibility of local U.S. embassies to report any and all questionable activity on the part of these commercial groups. Legally, therefore, the action that Mr. Gary calls for in his letter is already in place. Enforcement is the issue. This has been true since the Carter Administration. It is worthwhile to note that commercial organizations hardly need to force financial advantage onto host government officials. That there is a lack of appropriate "trickle down" effect bringing economic advancement to the people of the host countries is a matter of poor governance and not commercial exploitation.

TELLING US OUR VALUES
Re: Andrew Cline's Obama Prepares to Squander Another Year:

Mr. Cline is right on the money.

I've been struggling for a while to figure out why I find myself so irritated by the president. I know there are many reasons, but I was curious as to the root cause of my irritation. Leave it to Mr. Obama himself to assist me in finding the cause. He said in his ABC interview, "I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values."

To my mind, this statement represents the full expression of the president's hubris. I find it insulting that Mr. Obama believes that it is his job to tell us, the American people, what our values are or should be. It is his job to listen to us about our values and to adjust his positions accordingly. The arrogance of the man, his administration, and the radical left from which they come, is nothing short of astounding. They should be removed from office as soon as the electorate has the opportunity.
-- Dr. Robert T. Jones IV
Conyers, Georgia

What the nation fails to understand is that Barack Obama's approach to governing is based upon the Chicago model, a foundation set in stone by the Mayor Daley dynasty. No understanding of Chicago styled politics can be comprehended without first understanding the late author Franz Kafka, novels like The Castle and The Trial. Myth holds that Chicago is a toddling town when in reality it is totalitarian town. The majority of the population is always against the policies and politics of the mayor, but he can care less because he knows better. He must be right, for he is always elected, again and again. The main canon of Chicago politics is that PAYOLA, doled out liberally and in all directions will make everyone happy and everything all right. Mr. Obama proceeds under this illusion. His election begged one basic question: Is Chicago styled politics ready for prime time? Evidently, it is not. At this point, this is what Barack Obama fails "to get."
-- Frank Pulaski

COMEUPPANCE
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Mom Gets Sick: Why Scott Brown Should Listen to Dr. James Rich:

Mr. Lord gets it right again.

There should be no surprise that Dr. Rich has heard nothing back from the two Senators from Pennsylvania.

I write regularly to both of them. I have even written a couple of times regarding the perception in this country that our elected officials in Washington do not care to listen to us.

Senator Specter has responded with some form letters, and by putting me on his bulk mailing list.

Senator Casey has not acknowledged a thing. Not a dot!

It is crystal clear from this, his general demeanor, and his supercilious manner on television, that Senator Casey considers his position a divinely-ordained sinecure, and that, with his father's respected name to ensure re-election, he doesn't have to listen to the un-anointed -- yea, unwashed -- hoi polloi.

His comeuppance will come.

Senator Specter's is apparently imminent.

Let's hope they both get theirs before they and their progressive mates do any further damage.
-- A. C. Santore

Great, just great. Jeffrey Lord wants us to take policy advice from a doctor that would transform the Center for Spirituality and Health at Duke University into the Department of Spirituality and Health at HHS. We can lower our health costs if only we can get enough Buddhists to pray for us before we go into the hospital. Lord describes this as "a radioactive finding if you're a liberal lobbyist". I would imagine this is a radioactive finding to a rational person of any political persuasion.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey

CONJECTURES WITHOUT PROOF
Re: Eric Peters' The Taser's Edge:

As a retired Pittsburgh Police Sergeant and current L.E. instructor, I'm curious to understand what motivates this obviously misinformed writer. He makes all sorts of conjectures without showing any proof or statistics.

Today's police officers are better educated and better trained than ever before. Each candidate is prescreened by overlapping levels of psychological testing.

Police officers have rules of engagement just as the military. There are levels of force that graduate from verbal to deadly force. These are firmly established and if not used a police officer is subject to departmental charges as well as charges in criminal court. ( I am curious does this writer think that police officers are exempt from prosecution)?

Actually I am glad to say a career in law enforcement is attractive to many nice young educated men and women. They see it as a chance to be altruistic and, yes, they care about the safety of others. They also see it as a career that offers a decent living and a secure retirement.

As in any profession, there will always be the occasional lout that needs to be weeded out but to denigrate an entire profession is just stupidity.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
-- D. Trautman

INSUFFERABLE ALLIES
Re: Doug Bandow's Letting Go:

Let South Koreans defend themselves.

Despite the 50,000+ American lives sacrificed to keep them free, despite open access to the American market -- which lifted them from one of the poorest nations in 1960 to one of the wealthiest today--  there are continual anti-American demonstrations in South Korea.

History shows that America's least-insufferable allies are those who need access to the pockets of the U.S. taxpayer and weapons of the U.S. military, and S. Korea now thinks it doesn't. Prove it.
-- David Govett

RESTORING DECENCY
Re: The Prowler's Obama's Foursome:

Morally agnostic, mendacious, megalomaniacal, Marxist ideologue Barack H. Obama has so sullied the Office of the Presidency with his Democrat-Chicago-Machine's cesspool politics and character that it'll take some industrial-strength cleanser to remove Obama's stains and restore some level of decency.

He and his similarly unprincipled thugocrats are embarrassments.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.

FORCING THE MASSES
Re: Robert M. Goldberg's Cohn Heads:

"...once the benighted masses are forced to live under the new order, they will awake to celebrate the benefits they failed to perceive over the past two years of health care debate"

Isn't this sort of like the rapist using the defense: "Yeah I raped her. But once we were in to it she loved it."

Yeah ... That's the ticket!
--David Constans

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