The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘government

Happy hump day Widdershins!

The January 6 commission is about to hold public hearings to show some of the mountains of evidence they have collected with about 1,000 interviews and many thousands of documents. One “news” network has decided not to air it. We all know which one. They need to protect themselves, I suppose, since we know some of their highest rated prime time hosts were active participants in the attempted coup. They are also trying to protect their audience from the truth. Meanwhile, as we know, they held countless hours of hearings about Benghazi. But an attempt to overthrow the US government is not big enough news for them.

“The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the panel said.

– CNN

The hearings begin tomorrow. Will they make any difference? I’m trying to be optimistic…

I hope that everyone had a nice holiday.

Plenty of food, family, football, travel, shopping or whatever  – this may just serve to keep us a bit saner as we look down the barrel of yet another week of our lives.

I opened an e-newsletter from my city commissioner, who advises that he has filed for re-election.  This amazes me,  as our incumbent commission discovered that they were roughly in an $8 million dollar hole due to no fault of the commission but rather because of “poor accounting methods”.  Some of the less than stellar uses of these bucks include sinking more than three-quarters of a million dollars into refurbishing our city water tower.  It is painted with a rather nice marine life mural, and has a digital clock and temperature feature, which is usually inoperative.  Apparently, and I promise that I am not making this up, our water tower is considered to be so lovely (by water tower aficionados) that it will be featured in a calendar devoted to gorgeous water towers of America.  Keep that in mind for those people on your holiday shopping list who have everything……………..

I suppose the knowledge that our water tower kicks butt will just have to comfort us.  We’ve lost city services as employees have been let go in bunches in order to cover the massive deficit.  In order to make all this up to us, our city commission has decided to eliminate the parking meters in our downtown area – this should only cost us another $1.5 million or so a year.  They are also hiring some outfit which provides a happy combination of street cleaning, “ambassador services” to answer questions, and (of course) encouragement to the homeless to keep moving out of our newly refurbished,  free parking downtown area.  I don’t think that I want to know what the annual cost of this service might be.  Yeah – go ahead and refile, all of you.  The 2012 election should be simply fascinating.

I guess that I am trying to convey my dismay at what municipalities – large, medium, and small – consider to be a priority.  For example, I heard on one of the news programs that large cities are frantic about what the Occupy costs have been, with some such as New York whizzing right past the two million dollar mark.  I certainly hope that they are not attempting to elicit sympathy for their expenditures, especially as so many appear to have sent forth a sufficient number of officers with militarized equipment to deal with passive resistors.  This can get really expensive, especially when said officers fail to real the label on their military-grade pepper spray and send large numbers of non-violent protestors to the hospital on their employer’s dime.  (I can’t get the image of the UC Davis cop spraying pepper spray from a distance of less tha two feet back and forth as though he were watering a shrub.  That strength is meant to be delivered from 10-20 feet as a single quick blast.  He is fortunate that overnight visits were all that occurred.)  At any rate, when your response level appears to be keyed in at Defcon 4, things can get expensive in a hurry.

For anything else, there is no money.  Nope, not a dime.  Homeless?  Too bad.  Schools falling down?  No  money for that, either.  Teacher’s pay?  Frozen like a glacier.  Infrastructure?  Pray that it holds.  We’re broke.  I suppose that if you don’t mind living in a police state, or you can afford private education and health care then it’s all good.  Otherwise, it’s just not so hot these days.  I agree that government at all levels needs to spend its money carefully.  Back in the day, I could afford to spend money on things other than necessities.  These days, like most people, I rank my necessities in the order of importance and move carefully down the list.  I used to assume that my government was doing the same thing,   but I’m now paying a lot more attention to what my government considers to be a priority and I’m not thrilled by what I see.

2012 is coming soon, and I’m not at all certain whether it brings us fair winds or foul.  However, if my local government is any example, there will be little responsibility assumed by any of The Deciders who engineered the downfall of America.

This is an open thread.

(For those not familiar with “Mad Dog”, it is the street name for Mogen David 20/20, a wine so cheap and awful that it would makes Andre Cold Duck seem like Moet. It is the table wine for the homeless.) I guess that I’m still thinking about “us” versus “them”.  Frankly, there are any number of examples out there of how our elected leadership considers themselves to be well above the economic fracas, but this one beats all.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) of austerity budget fame was observed having dinner at a ritzy Washington bistro. The diners chose to wash down their evening meal with not one but two bottles of a wine that was tied for first place on the menu. One of the other diners took exception to this:

Feinberg, an economist by training, was even more appalled when the table ordered a second bottle. She quickly did the math and figured out that the $700 in wine the trio consumed over the course of 90 minutes amounted to more than the entire weekly income of a couple making minimum wage.

“We were just stunned,” said Feinberg, who e-mailed TPM about her encounter later the same evening. “I was an economist so I started doing the envelope calculations and quickly figured out that those two bottles of wine was more than two-income working family making minimum wage earned in a week.”

She was outraged that Ryan was consuming hundreds of dollars in wine while Congress was in the midst of intense debates over whether to cut seniors’ safety net, and she didn’t know whether Ryan or his companions was going to pay for the wine and whether the two men were lobbyists. She snapped a few shots with her cell phone to record the wine purchase.

Feinberg knew if the men were lobbyists, or worked for a firm or company that employs lobbyists, then paying for such expensive wine would be a violation of Congressional ethics rules barring members from accepting anything of value from lobbyists.

Members can also run into trouble if they accept more than $100 per year from anyone – even a friend.

“Basically, you have a situation in which the person who bought the meal says I bought it on the basis of a personal friendship and if it’s under $100, you have to show the history of the relationship and some degree of reciprocity,” said Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center.

If the gift is more than $100, House rules require members to obtain written determination from the Ethics Committee on whether they can accept it or not.

We don’t need no stinkin’ ethics rules. We’re a God-fearing legislator and his lobbyists just trying to keep America safe for democracy. And that kind of hard serious work makes a man thirsty, dadgummit! It gets better:

After ending their meal and paying the check, Feinberg decided to give Ryan a piece of her mind. She approached the table and asked Ryan “how he could live with himself” sipping expensive wine while advocating for cuts to programs for seniors and the poor. Some verbal jousting between Feinberg and the other two men ensued. One of the two men said he had ordered the wine, was drinking it and paying for it. In hearing how much the wine cost, Ryan said only: “Is that how much it was?”

The clash became especially heated when Feinberg asked the men if they were lobbyists.

“F—— her,” one of them replied and stood up in a menacing way, according to Feinberg’s account. Feinberg said her husband then “puffed out his chest” in response before the manager and a waiter came over and Feinberg decided she had said her piece and it was time to leave

.

Ryan does not dispute most of the details of Feinberg’s account, although he told TPM the two men are economists, not lobbyists, and characterized Feinberg as “crazy” and possibly drunk. For her part, Feinberg said she believes the economist at the table who got out his seat to challenge her was the one intoxicated.

“It was my birthday, and I’d had half a bottle of great wine with dinner,” she wrote in an e-mail to TPM. “I wasn’t drunk, but I was certainly emboldened to speak my mind

Ms. Feingold, you’re my new hero. Somehow it’s allright for the rest of America to tighten their belts, but at least some of our legislators seem to feel that they are exempt. Are you listening, America? There’s really no good way to explain this. Remember all of the uproar surrounding John Edwards’ $400 trim? At least he was paying for it personally, and wasn’t suggesting bigtime haircuts for the rest of us while styling himself up.

This is an open thread.
Enjoy one of my favorite college drinking songs which was played at every frat party that I ever attended. Somehow it seems to fit these times as well.

.


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