Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Brown Award’

I wrote back in June that I was relieved about a bureaucrat from the National Weather Service getting elected to the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame.

I realize I was being jingoistic, but after selecting bureaucrats from France and India, I had been worried that foreigners were beginning to dominate the award.

But now Americans are on a roll. We have a new honoree, and she hails from one of those bureaucracies that shouldn’t exist – the Commerce Department in Washington.

Here are some remarkable excerpts from a report in the Washington Post.

A high-ranking official at the Commerce Department took at least seven government computers home, an IT smorgasbord from iPads to Dell desktops that she rarely used for work. And if that wasn’t enough, she allowed her kids to download pornography and “racially offensive materials,” an investigation found.

My main reaction is to ask why she was given seven computers. I realize that government bureaucracies waste money and have a callous disregard for taxpayer-provided equipment, but what possible rationale could there be for that many devices?

And my secondary thought is to wonder whether she “allowed” her kids to download inappropriate material or they did it behind her back.

If it’s the latter, then I’m not really sure why it matters. And I’m not even upset that she then tried to erase the info. I can understand why a parent would want to get rid of evidence that their kids were looking at porn.

When investigators started asking questions, they said, she tampered with evidence by erasing the offending material on some of the computers.

Though it’s far less excusable that she tried to penalize lower-level bureaucrats as part of her efforts to hide her misbehavior.

…and in retaliation moved to discipline a woman on her staff who cooperated with the probe.

If the information we’ve looked at was the extent of the matter, this bureaucrat wouldn’t be eligible for the Hall of Fame. However, she also engaged in other behaviors that make her a stellar candidate.

Including lavish trips with taxpayers picking up a big chunk of the cost.

This accumulation of misdeeds described by the Commerce Department watchdog in an investigative report released last week also included a layover in Paris en route to a European conference, partly funded by taxpayers. The official told colleagues her primary reason for going to the conference was to shop, the report said.

And she apparently didn’t think goofing off at her desk was a valuable use of her time, so she played hooky so she could goof off elsewhere.

Investigators said they also found a suspicious pattern of inconsistencies in when the official said she was working and what the swipe records on her security badge showed, including one day when she said she was on the clock for eight hours — but really worked just 20 minutes.

But here’s the clincher, the final piece of evidence that she belongs in the Bureaucrat Hall of Fame.

The statement doesn’t say whether the employee, a GS-15 on the federal pay scale, faces misconduct charges. She now works in another job at Commerce.

Isn’t that wonderful. Based on the GS-15 pay rules, she’s getting paid at least $125,000 per year (and perhaps as much as $158,000) and so far gets to keep her job notwithstanding serial misconduct.

A truly deserving candidate for the Hall of Fame!

P.S. I’ve previously written about America’s very quick and very successful recovery from a deep recession thanks to good fiscal policy in the early 1920s.

Writing for the New York Times, Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh argue that the President during that time, Warren Harding, is mistreated by history. They start by noting Harding’s low ranking.

From the first poll of historians ranking the presidents, conducted in 1948 by Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr., to the most recent one in 2015, Harding has always come in either at the very bottom of the list, or one above James Buchanan.

They then point out that Harding took office during a grim period.

By the time Harding was inaugurated, in March 1921, the nation was in the doldrums, experiencing a postwar depression. In 1918, four million doughboys came home from the war and many could not find jobs. Unemployment hit African-American soldiers especially hard, and race riots broke out in the Midwest industrial belt. Harding, much like Ronald Reagan in 1980, brought an upbeat message to Americans.

And the part of that upbeat message that gets me juiced is smaller government.

A fiscal conservative, he pledged to right the nation’s finances and resuscitate the economy by lowering taxes, reducing the debt, balancing the budget and making government smaller and more efficient. …By…June 1922, the federal budget had been balanced, revenues exceeded expenditures and the public debt had been reduced. Spending had been $6.3 billion in 1920; by 1922 it had dropped to $3.3 billion.

Harding even had enough principles to reject politically popular spending bills. What a remarkable contrast with a recent Republican who was profligate with other people’s money.

Most telling was Harding’s veto of the popular so-called bonus bill, which would have given veterans an expensive bonus paid over time through deficit spending. The country, he told Congress in a speech, simply did not have the money. He argued it would also set a precedent to use public funds to pay for anything if it was “publicly appealing.”

And there were many other reasons to admire Harding. Unlike his predecessor, the notoriously racist Woodrow Wilson, he supported full equality and protection of the law for all Americans.

Harding immediately stressed his commitment to equal opportunity for all Americans, men and women, “whatever color, blood or creed.” …Harding was a racially enlightened president, especially for the time. During the campaign and his presidency, he supported an anti-lynching bill proposed by Republicans. …In October 1921, Harding traveled to Birmingham, Ala., where, in a powerful speech to a mixed-race (though segregated) audience, he demanded justice for African-Americans. In the first speech in the South by a sitting president on race, he argued for full economic and political rights for all African-Americans.

He also defended the rights of political minorities, again in contrast to Woodrow Wilson’s noxious actions.

Harding also stood out on civil liberties. On his first Christmas in office, Harding commuted the sentence of the Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs, who had been imprisoned under the Sedition Act under Wilson… Later, Harding commuted the sentences of the remaining political prisoners still incarcerated.

Pretty impressive.

I know that Reagan and Coolidge are the two best Presidents of the past 100 years, but I’ve never given much thought about who would be in third place. Seems like Harding might be the obvious choice.

Picking the bottom three would be harder because we’ve had so many bad Presidents. Wilson almost surely belongs on that list, but it would be tough to narrow down the list because FDR, Obama, Hoover, Carter, and Nixon would provide strong competition.

P.P.S. Returning to our original topic, here’s my collection of bureaucracy humor. I’ve targeted particular bureaucracies, such as the Postal Service,IRS, TSA, Department of Energy, and National Park Service.

We also have jokes about an Indian training for a government job, a slide show on how bureaucracies operate, a cartoon strip on bureaucratic incentives, a story on what would happen if Noah tried to build an Ark today, and a top-10 list of ways to tell if you work for the government.

There’s also a good one-liner from Craig Ferguson, along with some political cartoons from Michael Ramirez, Henry Payne, and Sean Delonas.

Read Full Post »

Even though America’s fiscal problem is entirely the result of too much government spending, I wrote earlier this year that there were all sorts of scenarios where I would agree to a tax increase.

But I then pointed out that all of those scenarios were total fantasies and that it would be more realistic to envision me playing center field for the New York Yankees.

The fundamental problem is that politicians never follow through on promises to reduce spending – even if you use the dishonest Washington definition that a spending cut occurs whenever the budget doesn’t rise as fast as previously planned.

And to make matters worse, they always seem to want class-warfare tax hikes that do heavy economic damage rather than the loophole closers that at least get rid of some of the inefficient corruption in the tax code.

That’s why I like the anti-tax pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. You don’t solve America’s fiscal problems by saying no to all tax increases, but at least you don’t move in the wrong direction at a faster rate.

Notwithstanding the principled and pragmatic arguments against putting tax increases on the table, some Republicans – in a triumph of hope over experience – are preemptively acquiescing to tax hikes.

Here’s what Jeb Bush said.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, said Friday that he could back a broad deficit plan that increased taxes, a stance that puts him at odds with other prominent Republicans. Bush told a House panel he could get behind a plan that combined 10 dollars in spending cuts for every dollar of new revenue… “The problem is the 10 never materializes,” [Congressman Paul] Ryan said after Bush said he could support a revenue-increasing deficit deal. Norquist also has criticized deficit deals crafted in 1982 and 1990 – the latter agreed to by then-President George H.W. Bush, Jeb’s father – for failing to deliver on the spending side.

Kudos to Paul Ryan for making the obvious point about make-believe spending cuts. And Grover is correct about the failure of previous budget deals.

Indeed, I cited a New York Times column that inadvertently revealed that the only budget deal that worked was the 1997 pact that cut taxes rather than raised them.

Jeb Bush isn’t the only apostate. Here’s what Senator Graham had to say.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday he believed Republicans should consider eliminating loopholes in the tax code even if they aren’t replaced by additional tax cuts, a move that would break with an anti-tax pledge many GOP lawmakers have signed with activist Grover Norquist. “When you eliminate a deduction, it’s OK with me to use some of that money to get us out of debt. That’s where I disagree with the pledge,” Graham told ABC News. …”I’m willing to move my party, or try to, on the tax issue. I need someone on the Democratic side being willing to move their party on structural changes to entitlements.” Graham said, for instance, he would support a plan that included $4 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. During a Republican debate last August, all eight Republican candidates in attendance said they would reject a proposal to trade $10 in spending cuts for even $1 in tax increases.

In some sense, Senator Graham’s comments are reasonable. With real spending cuts and less-damaging forms of tax hikes, an acceptable deal is possible. But only in Fantasia, not in Washington.

In the real world, all that Senator Graham has done is to move the debate slightly to the left.

I’ve noted that tax increases are political poison for the Republican Party, but I don’t lose sleep worrying about the GOP.

But I do have nightmares about government getting even bigger, and that’s why I don’t want tax increases on the table. I don’t even want them in the room. Or the house. Or the neighborhood.

That’s why Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham are the newest winners of the Charlie Brown Award. They’ve put blood in the water. I wonder if they’ll act surprised when hungry sharks show up looking for a meal?

Read Full Post »

I’ve remarked before that Democrats are the evil party and Republicans are the stupid party. Well, if anyone needs additional proof about GOPers being clueless and tone deaf, exhibit A is Congressman Rick Crawford of Arkansas, who has decided to preemptively capitulate in favor of higher tax rates.

Here are the relevant details from a Politico story.

Freshman Republican Rep. Rick Crawford will propose a surtax on millionaires Thursday morning, a crack in the steadfast GOP opposition to extracting more money from the nation’s top earners. The Arkansas Republican will unveil the plan during a local television interview Thursday morning, and plans to introduce legislation when the House returns next week, according to sources familiar with his thinking. Crawford will propose the additional tax— expected to be north of 2.5 percent — on individual income over $1 million as part of a broader fiscal responsibility package.

I have no idea if Congressman Crawford is simply naive, unaware that tax-increase deals inevitably lead to higher spending and more red ink. Or perhaps he’s trying to become the kind of Republican who thinks he can advance his career by saying things that will earn him pats on the head from the establishment media.

But I do know that America’s fiscal problem is a government that is far too big. You don’t solve the problem with more taxes, just as you don’t cure alcoholics by giving them more to drink.

Congressman Crawford, though, wants to give away the keys to a liquor store without even asking for an insincere commitment for future sobriety in exchange. Indeed, the Congressman’s naiveté is so impressive that he is the first winner of the Charlie Brown Award for Vapidness and Gullibility.

There’s a rumor that he is sending former President George H.W. “read my lips” Bush to collect his award, but I’m unable to confirm at this point.

This new award is part of a series, with the “Bob Dole Award” having been announced earlier this year.

In the same vein, but recognizing concepts rather than people, we also have “Mitchell’s Law” and “Mitchell’s Golden Rule.”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: