Politics

03.21.14

Up to a Point: The U.S. Government’s Minimum Wage Is $430 Million Per Hour

A week’s worth of “work” in D.C. is almost as dispiriting to watch as Vlad’s grab of Crimea.

Our Busy Government at Work…

The 2014 federal budget is $3.77 trillion.  There are 8,765 hours in a year.  The federal government works 24/7—for $430,119,795 an hour. Well above proposed new minimum wage.  What’s government doing for the money?

The Department of the Interior Is Lifting the Ban Against BP Bidding on New Gulf of Mexico Off-Shore Drilling Sites…

Because BP did such a good job at its old site.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Is Giving Helpful Espionage Hints…

According to The Wall Street Journal a study by FERC concludes, “The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day.”

“The Wall Street Journal isn’t publishing the list of 30 critical substations,” says the Wall Street Journal, patriotically.

Go to facebook.com/pages/Edward-Snowden for Goggle Street Views.

U.S. Senators Are Playing Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead…

Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Udall (D-CO) protested the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program’s decision not to give white potatoes as supplemental food to children at nutritional risk and low-income pregnant and breast-feeding women.  Senator Collins said potatoes are “cholesterol-free, fat-free, and sodium-free, and can be served in countless healthy ways.”  And they can, if WIC won’t give you butter or salt either.

U.S. Senators Are Refusing To Go the Fuck to Sleep…

Twenty-six Democrats calling themselves the “Climate Caucus” spoke nonstop on the Senate floor from 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 10 until 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 11.  Insert your own carbon emissions joke.

The White House Office of Management and Budget…

Will miss next month’s deadline for installing secure operating systems on federal government computers. Hundreds of thousands of government computers—including many on classified military and diplomatic networks—will be left with obsolete Windows XP software that’s highly vulnerable to hackers.  OMB had only six years advance warning.

The Environmental Protection Agency…

Is set to issue new rules, under the federal Clean Water Act, giving EPA authority over ditches that don’t have water in them.

Because…  Because if the ditches did have water in them, it would be dirty ditch water.

The Obama Administration…

Which, to quote the President, is “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government,” has refused an unprecedented 8,496 Freedom of Information Act requests.  Among these were six made to the Department of Agriculture, two to the EPA and one to the National Park Service, all denied on grounds of national security.  The Park Service FOIA redaction possibly concerned picnic baskets, possibly involved Jellystone Park and possibly was in response to a request submitted by a bear named Yogi.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration…

Received more than 260 complaints about an ignition switch fault in General Motors cars linked to at least a dozen deaths.  NHTSA didn’t order a recall.  According to a NHTSA statement the agency “uses a number of tools and techniques to gather and analyze data and look for trends that warrant a vehicle safety investigation and possibly a recall.”  Tools and techniques apparently do not include counting.

Turns Out The Federal Government Doesn’t Work 24/7 After All…

Arrived in Washington Monday to find whole USG shut down after city experienced a snowfall of… Let’s just say, if I bought a Washington D.C. snow globe and this was what I got when I shook it, I’d want my money back.

Can’t understand why Republicans keep letting themselves take the rap for government shutdowns when all they have to do is wait for the Capital to get a light dusting.

“The Chief Business of the American People Is Business, said President Calvin Coolidge…

Wednesday morning, with USG back at work, I noticed a vehicle with federal government license plate “FTC 0001” waiting at curb outside my hotel.  The Federal Trade Commissioner (free Washington D.C. snow globe to first reader who can name him or her) does get a big, black, official car.  But it’s a Chrysler minivan.  And—to judge by the guy in a suit with an earpiece standing stiffly in the hotel lobby—Commissioner has a security detail of one.  Security detail was somewhat fussed when D.C. police made FTC 0001 move because the minivan was blocking rush hour traffic.

But President Obama Means Business…

He’s imposing sanctions on Russia by banning travel visas and freezing assets of miscellaneous street hustlers and rough trade who were hanging around the Kremlin when Putin grabbed Crimea.

This is like imposing sanctions on Taliban by cutting Visa Card credit limits for Mohamed Omar’s wives and telling them they can’t go to Disney World.

The New York Times (Which Is Not Part of the Federal Government, But Don’t Tell Them, It Would Hurt Their Feelings)…

Says in last Sunday’s “Economic View” column, “It’s worth viewing the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of game theory…”

As Russia Stacked the Deck and Got Ready to Take All the Tricks in Match Against U.S./Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry Made a Final Bid…

He bid one no-trump.

Russia Bid 16,000 Clubs…

And knives…  And guns…

In the next rubber President Obama played dummy.

President Obama Is Getting…

Opinion poll approval ratings of 40% in U.S.  President Putin is getting opinion poll approval ratings of 72% in Russia.  No truth to rumor that President Obama will invade South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, regions with close historical ties to the Democratic Party now under control of right-wing ultra-nationalists.

Vice President Biden Goes…

To Eastern Europe to reassure leaders of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that U.S. is committed to their defense.  When they send Joe Biden to tell you the U.S. is committed to your defense, you know where you are on the international geo-political food chain.  Suggest Warsaw, Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn keep an eye out for masked men with guns wearing camouflage and no military insignia.

President Obama Tells…

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that peace deal with Israel will require “some tough political decisions.”  Such as those required during Crimea annexation, Syrian chemical weapon attacks and Libyan military intervention.

White House press corps photographers did not capture pictures of Obama and Abbas exchanging “Been There, Haven’t Done That” t-shirts.

And Here’s Just Some of What the House of Representatives Has Been Doing This Month…

Monday, March 3rd…

Hearing, H.R.2824—“Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America”

Bill would overturn new Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement’s rules that allow coalmines to deposit mine tailings near watercourses, leaving in place previous rules that allow coalmines to deposit mine tailings nearer watercourses.

A sample of the thoughtful and measured debate on the House floor…

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), who represents the hard-working folks up in the hills and hollows of Marin County, on congressional supporters of H.R.2824:  “They believe coal companies should be allowed to blow the tops off mountains and dump the waste into streams.”

Tuesday, March 4th…

Hearing, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology—“Can Technology Protect Americans From International Cybercriminals?”

Wouldn’t try using agriculture.

On second thought, what with increasing legalization, agriculture might be the answer.  “Let’s see you hack code after a big drag on this spliff.”

Wednesday, March 5th…

Markup, Committee on Small Business, H.R.2751 —  “Commonsense Construction Contracting Act of 2013”

Have contractors been constructing buildings without commonsense since 1776? Putting roofs on upside-down, etc.? And why has passing this bill taken a year?  Did some congressman want us to build our house on sand because his state has a lot of it?

Thursday, March 6th…

Hearing, Committee on Foreign Affairs—“U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Ukraine”

And, since we don’t have one, gosh knows what they heard.

Tues, March 11th…

Hearing, Committee on Foreign Affairs—“The Northern Ireland Peace Process Today: Attempting to Deal with the Past”

In Northern Ireland “the past” starts, at the latest, with the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. That hearing must have gone on a while.

Thursday, March 13th…

Hearing, Committee on Energy and Commerce—“Improving Sports Safety: A Multifaceted Approach”

Insert your own cognitive disabilities from head-butting in the House of Representatives joke.

But it would look hilarious on C-SPAN if all House members were required to wear hockey helmets.

Friday, March 14th…

Committee on Natural Resources draft bill discussion—“The Alaska Native Subsistence Co-Management Demonstration Act of 2014”

Must have missed hilarious C-SPAN broadcast of committee members’ discussion on ice flow off Point Barrow while demonstrating co-management of subsistence walrus hunt.

Saturday, March 15th…

They went home for nine days, thank goodness.

Meanwhile, Over in the Senate…

Oh, the hell with the Senate.

Saw an Item by New Delhi Journalist Nida Najar Estimating that 30% of India’s Lawmakers Have Criminal Charges Pending Against Them…

So maybe we’re being too hard on our government.

Or maybe we’ve got a lot to learn from India.