Rand Paul and the FBI
Having previously written about President Obama's plan to keep FBI director Robert Mueller on the job two years past the ten year term limit, I found it interesting, the involvement of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Sen. Paul had placed a hold on legislation allowing the two-year extension, due to his concerns on FBI policies regarding anti-terrorism cases, including the recent case that erupted in Paul's backyard, Bowling Green, Kentucky.
After a classified briefing between Paul and Mueller July 21, Paul changed his mind, the extension was allowed to go through, and Mueller was confirmed by a 100-0 Senate vote. Yes, Virginia, the Senate can vote unanimously on something...just not much of anything of great importance.
What I found equally interesting was Sen. Paul's remarks following the briefing:
"I am opposed to changing the term limits on this important position, which serve as a safeguard and check against the significant power of the position. I am not opposed to Director Mueller and will not oppose his renomination, but I do oppose the idea that term limits should be changed when it is convenient."
I can appreciate Sen. Paul's stance on term limits, believe you me, but when it come to "important positions," when will we see this same stance applied by anyone to our most important positions- congressional and senate seats? That is where power ultimately languishes in a vacuum, as we have all seen over the past couple of years, and even more so in the last six months. For the opposition of the idea of changing term limits due to convenience, enacting term limits on our federal legislators has proven to be more a matter of necessity than anything else.
More outsourcing our war to the enemy
In a recent Washington Post article, the newspaper relays the tale of yet more pallets' worth of cash being straight handed over to our enemies. I would give you a couple of moments to feign surprise, but who the hell even bothers acting surprised by news like this at this point in the proceedings?
A year-long investigation of a $2.16 billion transportation contract uncovered a process where money traveled from subcontractor to subcontractor until it invariably wound up in the account of an Afghan National Police commander. In all, the investigation found that $3.3 million of government funds, earmarked in part to help promote business in Afghanistan, had been instead funneled to the Taliban in the form of weapons, cash, and explosives. And that was just what they could trace.
The commander was accepting the payments to guarantee safe passage for convoys. Yep, a member of the Afghan National Police, whom rumor has it will eventually take over the security role when our military leaves (about five minutes after shit sticks on the moon), was squeezing subcontractors for our money in return for protection from the enemy, whom he is supposed to be fighting against, and then helping fund the enemy with that very same money. Our money.
And they wonder why this has become an unpopular war. First off, why in the name of bluest hell are we trying to promote business in Afghanistan, when apparently the only successful businesses in Afghanistan involve either opium or killing our military personnel? Secondly, wouldn't it be nice if our government was even a tenth as interested in promoting business in our own damn country? You know, the country with unemployment over 9% and climbing (wait until after August 2, when Congress royally pooches it, and see what that percentage climbs to, and how fast it makes it there).
Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass) said "this goes beyond our comprehension." No, Congressman, I have to disagree. This kind of government-subsidized corruption is well within our grasp. What may be just a bit past our comprehension is why our government continues with the same fraud and waste that not only makes us look stupid on an international level, but more importantly endangers our armed forces each and every day.
A 50/50 shot at eating dog?
T minus 4 days until our know nothing, do nothing Congress works America onto the third world nation list...
A senior White House yeshole was apparently feeling froggy earlier this week, going out just far enough on a limb to say there's only a "50/50" chance of reaching some kind of deal to resolve the impending debt crisis.
A 50/50 shot? Coin flip odds? Well, thanks a lot, pal. This person must have just finished the latest government yeshole seminar. You can tell their calling card a mile away- the dumber or more generically pointless the statement, the less the likelihood you will have a name attached to the yeshole.
This idiot's odds are 50/50, I got no idea what Vegas odds are, but with zero chance of anything resembling competence from our government, in just five days' time, I believe there is a 100 percent chance we're pretty much fucked...
On the plus side, the good folks at CNN, when they aren't breathlessly waiting on some Rebecca Black news/rumors/poorly autotuned music to tackle, are at least paying a bit of attention, as they posted a blog post asking the question on everyone's lips (at least when the fit really hits the shan): Can eating dog be done humanely?
You thought it was going to be a long summer? Wait until you and your family are sitting down to carve the Christmas spaniel, thanks to Barry O, Captain Spray Tan, and the rest of government as usual.
Our shovel-ready military
With the caterwauling and posturing over the debt ceiling running on, no end in sight, I find it interesting how many commentators, economists, legislators, and other assorted TV talking heads and yesholes keep yelling for spending cuts. Gotta cut the spending! Needs to cut the spending! Oh Lawd, please help us cut the spending!
The Obama administration's plan is a $400 billion defense budget cut over the next twelve years. Getting beyond the whole "we do a budget every year (or at least used to)" part of the equation, our President is only calling for a $33.3 billion cut per year? That amount of money means nothing on a right now basis, or even a next year after next year basis.
If anyone, anywhere on Capitol Hill was even halfway serious about pretending to be the least little bit serious about cutting defense spending, they would start demanding that some of the bullshit ways the Pentagon is wasting it's budget. Seriously, it's like they should be on Hoarders for filling the joint up with dumbass bills.
Dumbass bills like the one Boeing dropped on the United States Army, charging them $23 million for $10 million worth of helicopter parts. A 130% markup, and oddly enough, the Army is apparently fine with it. Why wouldn't they be? It's not like it's their money, and they didn't even feel like auditing the entire bill, covering only about eighty percent of the dollars spent, due to the sheer number of parts involved in the contract.
Fantastic. What is this, be all you can be (at least 80% of the time)? Did they literally put An Army ofOne on the audit? If one of my companies bought $10 million worth of anything, you can be damn well sure two things are going to happen:
According to Army spokesperson Dan O'Boyle, the Army Material Command has implemented policy "requiring the use of all on-hand inventory before the purchase of any additional material on performance-based contracts."
So, the United States Army had to put it in writing to use what's on-hand before ordering more?
Exactly. What the fuck?
If that wasn't bad enough, there was also the report that said twenty-two percent of the United States Navy's ships aren't ready to sail or fight (in other words, they failed inspection), and more than half the Navy's planes are ready for combat. That's deployed aircraft, people. Aircraft carriers, destroyers, and frigates spend as much as forty percent of their deployed time dealing with at least one major system or equipment failure.
Ain't that some shit? These statistics were released during a hearing by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), chair of the House Armed Forces Readiness Subcommittee, last Tuesday.
For the amount of cash we give the Pentagon, and through them, a crapload of contractors, our Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps should be the Corvette of the world's military, not the battered Cavalier with one bum headlight I have been writing about.
There are things I would love to see the military do away with, and not because I'm some sort of heathen who doesn't support our troops (disclosure: I'm the fourth generation of my family to serve in the United States Army, including both my parents), but on a budgetary basis. Like planes. Why the hell does the Navy have planes? I mean, it's not like the Air Force has ships. Put the Air Force planes on the Navy's ships, let the Navy run the ship, let the Air Force run the planes. Could it really be that simple? Shouldn't it be that simple, really?
(Information for this commentary came from Spencer Ackerman's article at Wired.com, and Michael Hoffman's article at Defense News.)
Originally published July 15, 2011 on the blog at ElectMyAss.com:
Let me first say I agree with New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey's plan to revamp the take home car policy for officers. The new policy would forbid officers who live outside the Floyd County limits from driving their patrol cars home at the end of their shift. This is a sensible policy shift by Bailey, no question about it.
One of the constant arguments I have heard over the years about allowing police officers to take cars home with them is that it helps promote neighborhood safety. I'm not arguing the merits of the "for" argument, but I would like an explanation of how exactly a New Albany police car sitting in Charlestown, Corydon, or beyond is supposed to promote neighborhood safety here in New Albany. You know, where the police cars are most of the time. Not to mention, my first thought every time this argument even starts is "Neighborhood safety? That's just silly. When's the last time you saw a cop live in a bad neighborhood?"
Naturally, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 has a problem with this, and have filed a grievance, claiming the take home cars are a contractually protected right. While this matter could be heard by the Board of Public Works and Safety, City Attorney Shane Gibson said both sides will most likely argue before an arbitrator, with the city's stance being that it's an administration decision, therefore it's Bailey's call.
The bottom line is the city is going to have to start making both tough and rational decisions as a budget shortfall exists this year ($3 million), as well as questions regarding the impact of public safety budgeting for 2012. With the police and fire unions' annual one percent longevity raises making up a good portion of a $400,000 increase in the general fund budget, money need to be found somewhere, and why not start by keeping the city's police cars right here- in the city.
The results would be immediate, considering the NAPD has already cruised through $114,000 of it's 2011 fuel budget of $150,000. If you can't see that bringing the out-of-pocket police cars back into the city would tip the scales back in both the department and the city's favor, then you either need to wipe the crap out of your eyes or change the batteries in your calculator. City Councilmen John Gonder and Dan Coffey would like to see the policy narrowed further, only allowing take home cars to officers that live within the city limits. Can't rightly say I disagree with that, either, but one step at a time, I suppose...
originally published yesterday at ElectMyAss.com:
I love how this works. The State Board of Accounts recently completed their audit of the city, and there were concerns over a lack of transparency in the city's financial record-keeping. This apparently keeps city officials from being able to verify all public cash and investment balances.
Naturally, our present Mayor, City Council President (who just happens to be my Democrat challenger in the Mayoral race), and at least one other City Councilman think there's nothing really wrong. Just a procedural issue, is all.
Among the State Board of Accounts' findings:
Okay, let's examine those statements. I agree with Mayor England. We should have an updated computer system, but at the same time, I learned how to do bookkeeping with paper ledgers and a number two pencil. Shouldn't we at least expect something in the neighborhood of being able to write down a payment when it is received?
I agree with Council President Gahan. We need accurate record-keeping. Without resorting to a total housecleaning in the city controller's office, I would like a hard look taken at what the work load is, and how many people are needed to properly staff the office, because having one employee solely in charge of correcting accounting errors seems harmless, until you look at the eighteen months the employee has been on that task. I am a small business owner, and believe me, I have a year-and-a-half of accounting errors on my books, I'm probably going to wind up in an orange jumpsuit with a number on it. Why should the office in charge of the city's finances be allowed to make it up as they go along?
I agree with Councilman Caesar. A better bookkeeping system needs to be in place. As for his remarks about the systems in place not being enough for a city of our size, I find that to be no one's fault but that of the city council. For the growth they seek and obtain, they fell asleep at the wheel if this has become the state of the city's finances...again.
As for the popular assertions that "not a penny has gone missing," or "I don't really feel like there's any monies missing," how you you listen to those statements without wanting to stop the people making them, put an arm on their shoulder to steady them, and ask them just how in the hell would they know?
That will be my first act as your Mayor. To bring the city controller's office in line with what it should be for a city our size, and not only equip it properly, but staff it with accuracy, efficiency, and competency as a top priority.
Winner, The Blogitzer
(Best Overall Writing), 2011 Blogger's Choice Awards