Government Waste

I heard Congressman Issa’s concern about expensive government conferences — I ran one myself back in my earlier Navy days. A Captain I had worked for previously approached me in my office at the foot of Broadway and asked, “How would you like to run a conference for the Admirals of six or eight South American Navies, here in San Diego?”

 

“”Not really,” I replied. I was in a deep dog house with Navy brass because of my involvement with the USS Pueblo — the Navy had once actually sent me orders to transfer me to Keflavik, Iceland (Rose Bucher got those changed – the orders arrived in my office while she was having coffee in CNO’s Office) —  and I was not interested in any more “high -visibility activity.”

(I need not have worried!)

“What if I told you that you would have an unlimited budget?” The Captain asked.

The old story comes to mind about the time the great Washington Redskin coach, George Allen, was fired by owner William Bennett, who said of the controversial firing, “I gave George an unlimited budget, and he exceeded it!”

Anyway, I took the job. Flowers at the door of every Admiral (and his spouse) every morning along with three-language translation of every word of the previous day’s activities; sumptuous meals and activities…the list was endless.

Of course I never saw any of it. I was in a hotel room with my selected staff, trying to put out fires.  We had twenty Navy cars driven by multi-language Sailors roaming the city (some, reportedly, looking for prostitutes), getting people out of police situations, newspapers in Spanish and Portuguese being delivered late, liquor orders mixed up…

Meanwhile, I was sleeping in my dress whites in a small hotel room, eating sandwiches and sleeping at my desk, with my wife bringing new Whites and underwear each day.

But I hear it was a grand conference.

I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that there are many unnecessary, lavish, conferences. I suspect there are many, many of them but I only had experience with one.

The good news is that with social media, excesses that once flew under the radar now get some visibility. I remember being in a Working Party on the USS General Billy Mitchell some 60 years ago – throwing HUNDREDS of 60 pound packages of frozen beef over the fantail before arriving in San Diego, just so the ship could show it needed more food next time it applied than it really did need.

I would hope that there is now some mechanism for an iPhone report to someone about this sort of thing – the problem is that young Sailors probably don’t even realize the impact of such actions. I know I didn’t as a 17 years old Sailor.

 

 

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Weird!

The Feds are releasing “hundreds” of detained illegal aliens — to demonstrate the impact of Sequestration.(Of course, Obama had no idea. That actually is a pretty good deduction — name the subject and Obama has no idea.)

(Meanwhile, thousands sneaked across the border last night.)

The Sequestration cuts just over 2.4% of the annual budget, $85 billion out of three thousand, seven hundred billion dollars, but, according to Obama and the Democrats, planes will fall from the sky and children will starve in the streets!

Now just for the record, a WHOLE BUNCH of Democrats voted for the Sequestration, including Boxer and Feinstein, and Pelosi from our state. Harry Reid voted for Sequestration! It was the President’s specific idea, and he SIGNED the bill. To hear the Democrats tell it, the Sequestration is something the the cheap, dirty Republicans did.

The federal government will spend more money next year under Sequestration than they did last year, and planes did not fall from the sky last year, aircraft carriers still deployed, and children did not die.

This entire episode is so bizarre, because anyone with half a brain knows that 85 out of three thousand is not a lot. If you had an income of three thousand dollars a month, and you had to take a cut of $85, it would not ruin your day.

Somehow it ruins Democrats days.

Weird!

And The Beat Goes On…

Just as a kerfuffle explodes about Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony is exploding, as he both gives depositions about his hiding Priests who molested children and plans to depart for Rome to vote on a new Pope, the senior Catholic cleric in all of Britain — just a few weeks before his retirement– is now enmeshed in scandal as well.

Four Priests or former Priests have accused Cardinal Keith O’Brien of engaging in “inappropriate activity” with them when they were young Priests. cardinal O’Brien has been a particularly vocal opponent of homosexuality. The four accusers want Cardinal O’Brien to be forced to resign rather than be permitted normal retirement and they want him denied voting rights at the Vatican.

All of this is against a backdrop of the Pope retiring, and these “Princes of the Church” being asked to vote on the new Pope — or not, as efforts are made to stop these particular “Princes” from participating.

The saga continues and the intrigue within the walls of a Vatican not accustomed to public controversy remains a staple of the evening news.

And the beat goes on…

The Sky Wiil NOT Fall

The Sequester is coming! The sequester is coming!

And, suddenly, the angst among Washington Post writers is, “Hmmmm…perhaps we have overhyped it a bit.”

Yep!

“The good news is, the world doesn’t end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn’t end March 2,” said Emily Holubowich, a Washington health-care lobbyist who leads a coalition of 3,000 nonprofit groups fighting the cuts. “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-big-sequester-gamble-how-badly-will-the-cuts-hurt/2013/02/23/be0c44e2-7c4e-11e2-82e8-61a46c2cde3d_story.html?tid=wp_ipad

This, in the same edition where Bob Woodward called BS on the president”s assertion that the Sequester was not the idea of the White House. Oh, yes, it was, reports Woodward. It seems he was in the White House writing a book during that time.

But, as I have previously noted, this is not my first rodeo, and I have been down this path before. In Washington there is even a name for it — it is called the Washington Monument Syndrome and it has had it’s own Wikipedia entry for many years.

(The term emanates from the habit of blackmail by government agencies who threaten to close the most public and venerable part of their service if a dime is cut from their budget. In 1968 the Park and Recreation Department threatened and actually closed the Washington Monument for two days when facing a budget cut. “It is also called the “Firemen First Syndrome” for the same reason.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument_Syndrome

But it is just possible that this time the Republicans are serious — although I doubt it.

I would love to see the Sequester, followed immediately by a Republican bill to restore the military cuts — let the Democrats vote against THAT!

Watch the newspeople back off the “Sky is falling” this next week – because they will have facial egg when the sky does not fall.

And, In Other Big City News…

I read that 47% of the property taxable homes in Detroit do not pay their property tax.

Then they complain that the services don’t exist, so why pay property taxes!

Of course you see the conundrum, and, to be fair, probably they do also. The report says that looking at 77 city blocks, as an example, on average just one person in each block pays their property tax.

I thought that the Obama administration had solved the auto industry problem, and since General Motors is headquartered in Detroit!

Apparently, not. Reports are that the unfunded liability of the city is so high that the Governor of the state cannot find anyone to take it over for a turnaround. Just as a side note, Forbes Magazine just listed the 20 Most Miserable Cities in the US, and unsurprisingly, Detroit stands number ONE! Flint, Michigan stands number two!

(The state has taken over Flint, Michigan among other smaller cities.)

In other Detroit news about which you may not care except in the abstract, the former Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, has missed paying his court required restitution to the city, so his Mother has paid the required $500 for the second month:

(He owes $854,000. You do the math as to how long it will take at $500 a month…)

“Kilpatrick, officials said, has had trouble earning money in recent months for two reasons: One, he’s on trial in federal court in Detroit for alleged public corruption; Secondly, he’s got a tether on his ankle for a parole violation and can’t leave the state.

Still, he managed to get his restitution payment in on time this month, thanks to his mother, the former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, who made the $500 payment on Wednesday.”

http://www.freep.com/article/20130222/NEWS0102/130222067/Kwame-Kilpatrick-s-mom-makes-his-500-monthly-restitution-payment-to-Detroit

 

 

 

 

You Are Kidding Me, Right?

I was watching Shawn Styles, who does weather on Ch. 8 in San Diego, and he was doing a piece on measuring and reducing your “carbon footprint.”

It immediately struck me as the former CEO of a TV station in Los Angeles, and Chairman of a TV Broadcasting system, that damn few things in most people’s lives have larger carbon footprints than TV systems!

Think of the size of a TV station, with multiple “sets” and the lighting required, not to mention the heating and cooling systems. Think of the people who drive there, and back throughout the day, and their car pollution. Think of the transmitter site — it takes huge electrical punch to distribute a local signal — and think of the power consumed to build a rocket and the fuel it takes to launch satellites to distribute the signal.

Ch. 8 (just like all stations) has multiple enormous trucks for remote broadcast, and even a helicopter — probably the least efficient aerial vehicle type known to man.

Multiply that imagining times all of the TV stations in not just this city, but the state, and then the nation.

Now, think of the number of TV sets in this country — probably close to a half a billion. The cumulative amount of power drawn by TV sets is enormous!

And Shawn, using all those power-using assets, wants me to be concerned about my washer and refrigerator?

‘Gimme a break!

Seems Right To Me — Even If I Personally Disagree

Rachel Maddow is all incensed that Mississippi has effectively banned abortions by requiring all abortionists to be OB/GYN who have hospital privileges, and, as it happens, no hospital will give such privileges lest no one use their hospital. People have choices.

As Rachel correctly says, the state is not making abortion illegal, it is making abortion unavailable. The law does not deal with availability, it deals with law.

North Dakota and Alabama may soon be following suit with similar laws.

I support abortion rights, and I also support the State of Mississippi. I believe that abortion, which is not addressed in the Constitution, is, under the 10th Amendment, a state issue.

I may disagree with Mississippi, but the Constitution makes abortion a state issue and that’s good enough for me.    I don’t live there and I have no vote on the issue. Mississippi doesn’t care what I think.

Come to think about it, Mississippi doesn’t care what Rachel Maddow thinks, either. Rachel thinks that  federal judge should step in, but I am at a loss to think what a federal judge might do. Mississippi didn’t make abortion illegal, so what is a judge to do — order a hospital to permit any OB/GYN who applies to be given hospital privileges? Order the single abortion clinic in Mississippi to remain open in spite of a law that does not ban abortion? Can a judge order a restaurant, or a muffler shop to stay open?

Now federal judges have a lot of power, and some have exercised enormous power, but the anger in the nation is already palpable, and the administration surely recognizes that. The anger with the Justice Department, in particular is extremely high.

No one knows how long the fuse is.