Meanwhile, underneath Tijuana...
Just recently having had some fun with the terror drill portraying pot farmers leading an armed takeover of Shasta Dam, at least the cartels are using their ingenuity to actually try and move some drugs.
This past Thursday, federal authorities discovered another intricate tunnel system, complete with branches leading to warehouses, lighting, and ventilation connecting San Diego and Tijuana. The fact this is the second tunnel found in three weeks, with 45 tons of marijuana seized altogether, says the feds are on a role, and at least accomplishing something at the border other than busting Willie Nelson. The fact the cartels can run a safer underground operation than Massey Energy says something too, but that's for another column.
The other interesting part of this bust to me was the math involved with the amount seized, as DEA Special Agent in Charge Ralph Partridge said the haul of 20 tons was the equivalent of 17 million joints. Let me get this straight...20 tons = 17 million joints. Bet the street value must be near a gazillion dollars. I would love to see how long it took them to roll up 20 tons to arrive at that number. Not to mention, I kind of wish I had kept track of all the weed I've smoked...I mean, I know I am nowhere near 20 tons, but what can I say? I am curious nonetheless...
This is terror level "high?"
Thanks to the unnecessary Department of Homeland Security, and the continued incompetence of its bosses, the idea that a million dollar counter-terrorism drill could center on the premise of pot farmers staging an armed takeover hardly surprises me at all.
Actually, truth be told, it inspired me a bit. I mean, couldn't you just imagine the trailer for Die Hard With a Headchange?
The twelve hour drill, the culmination of a year and a half of planning amongst 20 different agencies, ran on the scenario that a group of marijuana farmers set of bus and car bombs, before taking control of the Shasta Dam with three hostages and threatening to flood the Sacremento River by opening the gates atop the dam.
You get all that? Pot farmers. With car bombs. Taking over a dam.
This shows just how far down our federal government has fallen. You can't come up with a rationalization, because every time you try, you just can't get past the thought this scenario is just slightly less believable than the Amish declaring they have developed nuclear capabilities.
Twenty agencies, eighteen months, a million bucks, and they can't even come up with a coherent conspiracy theory? I mean, JFK's been good for a few books, couple of movies, and the Iran Contra deal could be reworked for some direct-to-DVD action, but this pothead terror attack wouldn't even make sense as a Mad Magazine sketch.
To further highlight the utter lack of intelligence with this exercise, a 2005 catalogue of terrorist threats created by the Department of Homeland Security did not even mention the marijuana farmers of Northern California.
That's right. Your government is spending money and wasting time to train against stuff they don't even consider a threat. Remember that next time you see a War on Drugs commercial.
Mitch McConnell: Master of Subtlety
In a land of imagery, yesterday just plain sucked. It rained most of the damn day, and while I was pleasantly surprised to see I-65 South flowing freely as I crossed the Kennedy Bridge into Louisville, the least surprising thing about my day had to be the return of the chinless wonder, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
As the Republicans continue preparations to take over the House (no doubt the code name being Preparation H), the senior senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky has been busy ducking and weaving and trying not to get his wattle stuck in the door behind him. After receiving some criticism for waiting all of six seconds before saying what we already knew, that GOP goal #1 is making sure that President Obama is a one-term wonder, McConnell has managed something of a trick play- he dropped back and punted, yet lost no field position whatsoever. Not that I take any fault in McConnell's stance. OF COURSE the GOP wants Obama out of the White House, why the hell wouldn't the Republicans want a Republican in the White House? If you are playing for second, you're kind of missing the mark. Then again, I'm a Libertarian...I'm used to playing for fourth in a three-team field.
McConnell's announcement Monday that he would support a moratorium on earmarks should be a miracle deserving of a Lifetime movie set around Christmas, but what it shows is the bare bones model of a man and a party that all of a sudden wants to listen to the voters, or at the very least continue to create that impression.
Mitch McConnell saying he would give up earmarks is as believable as a televangelist crying for forgiveness on TV, as sincere as a starlet saying this time the rehab will work...honest...she swears, and as cheap as Paris Hilton when she knows the camera's night vision is switched on. For anyone keeping score at home, Mitch has wrangled up $457.9 million in earmarks in just the last two years alone. And just how has that money helped the people of Kentucky? I don't see where the schools are getting any better, I don't see where the roads are getting any better, I don't see a new bridge, or much-needed repairs being done to the John F. Kennedy Bridge. I see a shiny new arena on the waterfront drawing douchebags like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Dane Cook, but that's a bitch for a different time.
For anyone who likes to crunch the numbers, that is 47.7 percent of the $960.5 million in earmarks Kentucky received in that time period. Yep, nearly a billion fucking dollars, and not really a whole lot to show for it. McConnell ranked 39th in Congress in earmarks, and Kentucky ranked 17th out of the states. For someone who desperately wants to hit a home run with the people on deficit reduction, Mitch seems to have hacked away at a lot of pitches outside the strike zone along the way.
Wow, am I glad I do not have children in the New-Albany-Floyd County school system. The board changed plans to give Superintendent Bruce Hibbard a $24,000 raise, giving him a one year contract extension at his current $142,000 salary.
This came after the public found out and raised a stink. I can not say I have been following the activities of the local school board, but with a niece and nephew in this system, I think I need to pay a little more attention, because there have been a couple of things that are not quite making sense to me as of late, this just being the most recent.
To his credit, Hibbard announced at the onset of a meeting this past Monday night that he would not accept a pay raise, although I share the sentiment of teachers union head Mark Kessans that the timing of Hibbard's refusal left a lot to be desired. I always thought a wise strategy in politics was not to do good, but to be seen doing good. And yes, it is in fact possible for me to agree with a teachers union head. Mark it down, because it does not happen very often.
The school board's fuzzy math is what started peaking my interest. By their logic, Hibbard deserved a bump to $166,000 to bring him in line with what the board called the average of the 24 superintendents that have 10,000 or more students. Okay. I'm with you there, as I believe in competitive salaries, but as the Louisville Courier-Journal pointed out, the average salary of all superintendents, which the board repeatedly mentioned, is only $115,000.
You go by that measuring stick, then Hibbard is doing alright. Even without the measuring stick, Hibbard is doing alright at $142,000. The only thing I am willing to grant is Hibbard is in charge of the 15th largest student population in the state, yet is only the 32nd highest-paid superintendent in the state, which does seem a bit disjointed to me.
For all the disapproval of the public, and the other employees of the school district, the school board acted decisively, by which I mean they voted to remove the provision tying Hibbard's future raises to the percentage given to teachers each year. This after no employee got a raise this year, and the teachers agreed to no raises for the next two years. Nice little end run right around the notion the people you are representing wanted you to stay within your pay grade.
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