Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ATF Busts Texas Cop for Selling Guns From Evidence Room

Evidence Room

By Allan Lengel

A 55-year-old Texas cop had a nice little thing going — that is until he got busted by ATF and the Texas Rangers.

Authorities charged that Harry Leroy Kelly, as a cop with the Cleveland Police Department in Liberty County, Tex., sold guns and ammunition from the evidence room. He is currently a captain with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities alleged that Kelly had control over the evidence room and was responsible for destroying items.  As part of his scheme, Kelly drafted papers showing he destroyed firearms, when in fact he had not.
He faces 103 counts of possession of a stolen firearm, two counts of possession of a firearm without a serial number, one count of possession of stolen ammunition and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas said.

“Sometime in 2007, Harry Kelly began taking firearms from the evidence room and traded or bartered them to his friend, who in turn gave Harry Kelly credits for the merchandise that Kelly brought, which Kelly used to buy his own firearms for his own firearm business,” U.S. Attorney John M. Bales said, according to TV station KPRC.

Drug Cartels Operate Freely in Small Calif. Towns

In these small little towns in California, not only are some of the politicians extremely corrupt, but they’ve become places where gangs and Mexican and Colombian drug cartels operate freely.  Investigative reporter Jeffrey Anderson examines the problem.
CALIFornia map
By Jeffrey Anderson
Washington Times
BELL, Calif. –  The gang graffiti that coats freeway overpasses, exit signs and the concrete banks of the Los Angeles River attests to a problem more alarming than the recent revelations of hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual salaries for public officials.

Street gangs, a powerful prison gang known as the Mexican Mafia and even more powerful drug-trafficking organizations based in Mexico and Colombia operate freely in this small city and the similarly sized cities surrounding it.

News reports in recent weeks have focused on three Bell city officials who resigned on July 26 amid revelations that they were being paid up to $800,000 per year in a city of 36,000 where the average annual household income is less than $40,000. California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Monday announced that he issued subpoenas to current and former members of Bell’s city government, adding that his office also is investigating allegations of “possible illegal election conduct by Bell officials.”
To read full story click here.

Engineer Guilty of Selling Military Secrets to China


Honolulu_mapBy Allan Lengel

A former engineer who worked on the B-2 Stealth bomb was convicted in Honolulu Monday of selling military secrets to China to help that nation develop a stealth cruise missile, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities said the engineer, Noshir Gowadia,66, pocketed at least $110,000 from the transactions and used the money to pay the mortgage on a multimillion-dollar ocean-view home on Maui’s north shore, AP reported.

He had been in federal custody since 2005. His lawyers had argued that the materials he gave to China came from unclassified and public information, AP reported.

“Mr. Gowadia provided some of our country’s most sensitive weapons-related designs to the Chinese government for money,” U.S. Attorney David Kris said in a statement.

“Today, he is being held accountable for his actions. This prosecution should serve as a warning to others who would compromise our nation’s military secrets for profit.”

Will the Fed Opt For More Stimulus as the Economic Recovery Founders?

Weaker-than-expected job growth is fueling speculation that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will unveil new stimulus measures to prop up the economic recovery when it meets today (Tuesday) for its regular rate-setting session.

Friday's July unemployment report was by most measures a disaster, providing the latest indication the economic recovery is running out of steam with 14.6 million Americans still searching for work.

The economy shed 131,000 jobs, as 143,000 temporary census workers fell off federal payrolls. Private-sector employment grew by 71,000 in July after a downwardly revised June increase of 31,000 workers.

The private sector so far this year has added 90,000 jobs a month on average, well below the 125,000 needed to keep up with population growth - let alone recover the eight million jobs lost during the recession.

"It's a double whammy because it causes people to take a psychological step back," Tig Gilliam, chief executive of staffing firm Adecco Group North America, told The Wall Street Journal. "Now, it looks like not only has the economy slowed, but maybe it wasn't as good when it was originally reported as we thought."

Matt Simmons Has Died

Posted by Big Gav in ,
I was sorry to see this article in the WSJ reporting on the passing away of Matt Simmons - Without Matt Simmons: Has Peak Oil, Well, Peaked?. Even if he had become a little erratic in recent years, he was still an individual with a lot of interesting ideas.
Matt Simmons, the maverick investment banker who championed the concept of peak oil, died of a heart attack in a hot tub in Maine. He was 67.

Simmons is best known for raising the alarm, in books, in lectures, television interviews and to anyone who would listen, that the world’s oil reserves had peaked.

The concept of “peak oil” wasn’t new when Simmons wrote Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, in 2005. In fact, peak oil was first posited by a geophysicist named M. King Hubbert in the 1950s who predicted that world oil supply would peak in 1995.

But Simmons helped to being the theory to the mass media, after traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2003 to research that nation’s secretive data on oil reserves, or the amount of oil able to be pumped out of the ground. His book became an instant classic among conspiracy theorists. It gained mainstream exposure when, in the summer of 2008, crude-oil prices began spiking to $147 a barrel and American drivers were getting crushed at the gas pump.

“I find it ironic that here we have the biggest industry on earth, and I’m one of the few people to figure out that we have a major problem,’’ Simmons told Fortune in September 2008. “And I did it all in my spare time. How stupid and tragic is that? I shouldn’t be one of the only folks that actually has a handful of ideas of how we can keep from blowing each other up and get through this.”

Simmons’ stood out because of his street credibility, not with environmentalists, but in the oil industry, where he worked for decades as an investment banker. He started his own firm Simmons & Co in 1974. He espoused maverick views, but he was still of the industry establishment (admired by T. Boone Pickens and an energy adviser to George W. Bush)

It was against the backdrop of peak-oil concerns that the industry underwent a consolidation wave, as companies clamored for greater share of a finite resource, and oil giants made plays for natural gas, such as Exxon Mobil’s acquisition of XTO late last year.

Simmons was back in the limelight this spring when BP oil’s rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. He went out on a limb (his critics say too far out) by predicting in June that the spill would cause BP to go bankrupt and that “if a hurricane comes and blows this to shore, it could paint the Gulf Coast black.”

In recent weeks, BP has capped the leak and independent scientists have found that environment damage from the spill has been less than initially feared. (Simmons supported offshore oil drilling in 2008, but said Americans need to change their energy-consumption habits because even offshore sources wouldn’t produce enough oil to sustain world demand.)

Peak oil remains hotly contested and the information about reserves from less than forthcoming from such oil-rich nations as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria is incomplete, to say the least. Regardless, peak oil has lost one of its most eloquent adherents.

Billionaires Give Away Half Their Fortune

For a long time in American history, the richest of rich would give their wealth to their heirs after their passing, creating plenty of trust fund kids who never had to work a day in their lives. Two of the richest men in the world are changing that trend. Billionaires and philanthropists Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have pledged to donate half of their fortune to various charities. Recently news came out that more billionaires have pledged to share the wealth. Notable names in the list include David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomberg and Oracle founder Larry Ellison

Tigers owner might buy NBA’s Pistons

By sparty

Mike Illitch is one of the kings of the pizza industry. His tasteless, quickly made Little Caesar’s Pizza has made him a fortune and allowed him to purchase 2 sports franchises in Detroit, Michigan. First he purchased the Detroit Red Wings in 1982 for $8 million. The Wings are now worth over $300 million. Illitch purchased the Tigers from the other Michigan pizza mogul, Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan, in 1992. Now, with the Detroit Pistons up for sale, and the Red Wings needing a new building to play in, Illitch may have a chance to land a 2-for-1 deal, kinda like the old Little Caesar deals.

Illitch has been trying for years to get a new home for the Red Wings. He has been reluctant to put his own money into a new stadium, hoping that the City of Detroit would help finance it. He did finance 50% of Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers. Illitch can contend that the great success that the Red Wings have had has benefited the Detroit economy during the cold winter months. For a time, the Wings tickets were the hardest to get in Detroit, and they filled Greektown and the surrounding bars with fans during the season. A new arena would most assuredly generate new jobs, and help the downtown district of one of the poorer cities in the country.

The Detroit Pistons are one of the more lucrative franchises in the NBA because they are actually part of a conglomerate that is the Palace Sports and Entertainment. This group, which is ultimately owned by Karen Davidson, not only has control of the Pistons, but also the most played concert venue in the state, the DTE Energy Music Theatre. They also own several other smaller venues throughout the metro-Detroit area. It has been rumored that Davidson would prefer to sell PSE as a whole, and not the Pistons separately. This would give great leverage to Illitch in his quest to get a new arena built if he chose to purchase the entire package. He can then tell the city that he can bring the only Detroit team missing from the city back, or he can take the biggest winner out. This would most definitely put former Piston, and current mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing in a tough spot. It is already hard enough to get people to spend time in the city, and losing the Wings to the suburbs would be devastating. But gaining the Pistons would be huge.

No owner has ever really successfully, from a pure financial standpoint, done well owning 3 sports franchises. Wayne Huizenga probably had the most well known ownership of 3 teams. He owned the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins back in the 90s. He also hemorrhaged money while owning the Marlins. He threw a ton of money into a team to win a World Series, and after they did that, he had a fire sale. Not just the players, but the team itself. Many believe that Illitch would not be as hasty as the former Blockbuster owner, and be in it for the long haul. It has been suggested that Illitch Holding groups could do what the New York Yankees did, and create a channel that is specific to its teams. Probably even more similar to the Big Ten Network, as it would feature 3 separate teams to have programming surround for 365 days a year. The advertising from such a deal would help create ridiculous amounts of money for the Illitch empire. He has already hired former Pistons PR guru, Tom Wilson, so the fit with the Pistons would be an easy transition if and when the keys are turned over.

The actual process of purchasing a sports franchise isn’t necessarily smooth and usually takes longer than originally anticipated, and other groups will probably throw their hat in the ring. However, Illitch does seem like a natural choice, as he has had great success with the Wings, and definitely helped over time to bring the Tigers back to respectability, and Comerica a place to visit. The majority of the sports fan base in Detroit would be very happy to have the Pizza eating entrepreneur own their basketball team. They just hope Papa John’s doesn’t throw his hat in the ring.

Warner Bros. Hires 'Harry Potter' Scribe to Pen 'Green Lantern' Sequel

Ryan Reynolds Green LanternIf there's any project in the vast stable of DC Comics properties controlled by Warner Bros. that you would expect to get the green light, it is, of course, Green Lantern. Now, appropriately enough, it appears that the emerald crusader is on the fast track for a sequel, nearly a full year before his first movie is scheduled to debut.

Yes, according to Variety, Warner Bros. has given the go-ahead to 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' scribe Michael Goldenberg to write a full screenplay for 'Green Lantern 2.' The move, which indicates the studio's clear commitment towards the Ryan Reynolds franchise, isn't a complete surprise, as they had previously commissioned a script treatment from the team that wrote the first 'Green Lantern' film.

That movie, of course, is scheduled to premiere next summer and centers on the origin of Hal Jordan, a test pilot who is chosen by a dying alien to become Earth's protector as a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an inter-galactic police force.

Considering the breadth of the character's concept, then, it's difficult to guess which elements of the comic character's rich background may make their way into the sequel; in the comics, Green Lantern battles alien armadas and cosmic menaces in deep space as often as he tackles more mundane supervillains on Earth. Given Hollywood's propensity to jamming comic book movies with as many characters and plotlines as possible, though, our guess is that the sequel will introduce one or more of Earth's other Green Lanterns, most likely John Stewart, Hal Jordan's African-American backup, who has recently starred in a number of high profile cartoons and who should not be confused with the host of 'The Daily Show.'

The sequel may also provide an opportunity for fans to see a new side of Blake Lively, who plays Hal Jordan's romantic interest, Carol Ferris, in the first 'Green Lantern' movie; in the comics, Ferris eventually becomes one of Jordan's arch-enemies in the form of the cosmic queen of love Star Sapphire.

Fans hoping to see Lively get her villain on and rock the purple tights will have to wait to see it, though: any decision on filming for 'Green Lantern 2' will no doubt be delayed until after the box office receipts from the first movie are tallied when that film finally debuts -- on June 17, 2011.

It's going to be a long year.

McGrady Now A Piston

While the Chicago Bulls held some interest in Tracy McGrady, there wasn’t much interest elsewhere – until now.

According to the Associated Press, the Detroit Pistons have aigned the seven-time All-Star to a one-year contract; according to an anonymous source, McGrady will make $1.3 million this season, presumably the league’s veteran minimum.

Detroit plans to utilize McGrady in their rotation of wing players, including Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva. That right there makes me wonder which of the aforementioned players is either released or traded outright as that seems to be a glut of players for the 2 and/or 3 spot on the floor.

Fmr. Conservative President of Mexico calls for Drug Legalization

From Eric Dondero:

Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico, with the conservative Partido Accion National (PAN), has officially come out for the legalization of drugs.

From Bloomberg:
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said his country should legalize the production and sale of drugs in order to curb rising cartel-related violence.

Legalizing narcotics would curtail funding to organized crime groups, who are using profits from the drug trade to consolidate power, Fox wrote yesterday on his personal website.

“Radical prohibition strategies have never worked,” Fox said. “The cost of the fight against organized crime, and in particular narcotics trafficking, has been enormous in our country.”

The drug war has killed 28,000 people in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon entered office vowing to take on the cartels, according to data from the government intelligence agency, known as CISEN. That’s keeping tourists away and limiting foreign direct investment, Fox said.

Fox said in a July 28 interview with Bloomberg Television that the U.S. as well as Mexico were responsible for the violence.
Editor's Note - I had the pleasure of meeting President Fox in person at a Young Republicans of Harris County (Houston) meeting in 1996. He was the guest speaker. Serving as Congressman Ron Paul's Senior District Aide at the time, I was one of 5 other Houston YRs to share his front table for the dinner.

US military commissions go to work in Guantanamo

gitmo US military commissions  go to work in Guantanamo

By Agence France-Presse

US President Barack
Obama's revamped military commissions start work Monday at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, focusing on the cases of two men facing terrorism charges.

One has pleaded guilty and the other was 15 at
the time of his arrest.

Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, 50, pleaded
guilty last month to conspiring to provide material support to
terrorism. The former bodyguard of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will
appear before a commission on Monday to hear his sentence.

A spokesman for the prosecution, David Iglesias, refused to tell reporters
if Qosi's sentence will be made public or remain confidential.

Asked if convicted Guantanamo prisoners would be kept at the prison even
after their sentences had run out, as happened under former US president
George W. Bush, Iglesias said he was "not aware of any controlling
direction from Washington, DC, on that."

Also Monday, in a second courtroom at the naval base, Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured at age 15 by US troops in Afghanistan and the last Westerner at the naval base,
will appear at the last preliminary hearing before his trial, due to
start on Tuesday.

The trial will begin with the selection of a
15-member jury, at least five of whom will be military officers.

now 23, is accused of throwing a grenade in 2002 that killed a US
soldier. He also is alleged to have been trained by Al-Qaeda and joined a
network organized by Osama bin Laden to make bombs.

"It's very
clear that the government of the US and the government of Canada have
decided not to intervene in this case and therefore we are going to see
the first case of a child soldier in modern history," said his military
lawyer Jon Jackson.

"When President Obama was elected, I believed
that we were going to close the book on Guantanamo and the military
commissions. And instead President Obama has decided to write the next
sad, pathetic chapter in the book of the military commissions," he

"Forever, Obama's military commission will be remembered as
the trial of a child soldier," Jackson said.

Iglesias had a different view on Khadr's case.

"There is no legal prohibition in
the US to try underage" people, he said, adding that the prosecution
would have no trouble asking that he be put away for life if he is found
guilty of the charges.

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's
government has not requested the return of Khadr, preferring to allow
the US trial to run its course.

Khadr has so far refused a plea
deal. In a letter to his Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, published in
newspapers in Canada and the United States, Khadr said the trial may
show the world how unfair the process is.

"The world doesn't get
it, so it might work if the world sees the US sentencing a child to life
in prison, it might show the world how unfair and sham this process
is," he said.

Since 2001, four men have been convicted of
terrorism-related charges in Guantanamo military trials, two of whom
pleaded guilty, while US federal courts have sentenced some 200
extremists over the same period.

The first, so-called "Australian
Taliban" David Hicks, pleaded guilty in May 2007 to material support for
terrorism in exchange for a reduced sentence of nine months in prison
to be served in his native Australia.

On Friday, the US Supreme Court declined to block Khadr's prosecution at Guantanamo.

Jackson had sought the injunction in order to force a lower court to examine
the constitutionality of the military tribunal set to try the Canadian.

Lebanon criticizes US over military aid halt

Lebanon criticized the U.S. decision to suspend military aid over concerns that Iranian-backed Hezbollah may have influence over the army, saying Tuesday it was unwarranted and weakens American-backed efforts to build up its national forces.

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman ( pictured right) , said Monday he suspended $100 million in assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Lebanon’s government is an uneasy coalition of a Western-backed bloc, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which in just a few years has gained so much political power it now has a virtual veto over government decisions. Hariri’s bloc wants Hezbollah, which is far more powerful than the Lebanese army, to disarm, but does not have the power to force its will.

“The U.S. government is quite familiar with the reliability and importance of the Lebanese armed forces as a central institution in our country’s quest for peace and security and for asserting state authority throughout the country,” Mohamed Chatah, an adviser to Prime Minister Hariri, told The Associated Press. “The last thing that the U.S. or any other friend of Lebanon should do is to weaken the effort to build up our national army.”
He added that government officials were contacting Washington “to make sure that there is a better and fuller understanding of the situation in Lebanon and along the border.”

The Congressman Berman said his concerns about Hezbollah’s influence over the Lebanese armed forces were reinforced a day after he suspended the aid when Israeli and Lebanese army forces clashed along their common border.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese army both insisted the militant group did not take part in the clash, and the State Department said Monday there was no evidence American-supplied equipment had been used by Lebanese soldiers. It said it was not yet clear whether the soldiers involved had received U.S. military training.

The fighting was the worst since 2006 in the area, killing two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli officer. It underlined how easily tensions can re-ignite along the frontier where Israel and Hezbollah fought a war four years ago.

There has long been debate over Hezbollah’s substantial arsenal. Israel occupied south Lebanon for nearly two decades following an invasion in 1982 to fight Palestinian forces entrenched in the area.

Since Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 — removing the main motive for Hezbollah’s armed struggle against the Jewish state — Hezbollah’s opponents in Lebanon have grown bolder in demanding it relinquish its weapons and in criticizing it as a rogue element.

The U.S. has pressed Lebanon to strengthen its army to become the predominant force in the country, but its Western-backed partners do not have the power to force Hezbollah to disarm.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have backed sending aid to Lebanon’s army, maintaining that a professional military is critical for the government to exert its sovereign authority, which has been challenged by armed Hezbollah militants in the past.

“Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the (Lebanese army) — and can assure that the (Lebanese army) is a responsible actor — I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon,” Berman, a Democrat from California, said Monday of the suspension in aid.

Since it was founded at the height of Lebanon’s civil war, Hezbollah has grown into one of the most robust, organized and sophisticated resistance groups in the world with a small army of about 6,000 fighters. With an annual budget of more than $100 million largely supplied by Iran, it also runs a network of schools, charities and clinics, and has its own satellite television and radio stations.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley defended the U.S. assistance Monday.

“We have an extensive military cooperation program with Lebanon because it’s in our interest to have that program,” he said. “It allows the government of Lebanon to expand its sovereignty. We believe that is in the interest of both of our countries and regional stability as a whole.”

Crowley said he was not aware of plans to reevaluate U.S. military cooperation with Lebanon. AP

Breaking News: Plane Crashes in Alaska, Former Senator Stevens Feared Aboard

News reports indicate former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens may have been on a plane that crashed late Monday in the U.S. state of Alaska.

The state's National Guard said the plane was believed to be carrying eight people when it went down near the southwestern town of Dillingham. The statement said some passengers may have been killed.

The Anchorage Daily News newspaper cited friends of Stevens as saying he had been flying Monday in the area of the crash and that his wife was concerned he was on board the aircraft.

Officials said rescue crews were having trouble reaching the crash site because of severe weather conditions.

This is the third plane crash in less than two weeks in the large, sparsely populated state.

On July 29, a military plane went down near Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, killing four people.

Just three days later, a cargo plane crashed in Alaska's Denali National Park, killing all three people onboard and sparking a forest fire.

Stevens spent 40 years in the U.S. Senate, making him the longest-serving Republican senator in history. He was defeated in 2008 following his conviction for failing to report corporate gifts. The conviction was later overturned because of prosecutor misconduct.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

Is Stephen Hawking Spaced Out? Hawking Says Humans Must Leave The Earth

Abandon Earth Or Face Extinction, Stephen Hawking Warns

August 9, 2010

Jan. 14: Stephen Hawking speaks via satellite during a Science Channel presentation in Pasadena, Calif.
It’s time to abandon Earth, warned the world’s most famous theoretical physicist.
In an interview with website Big Think, Stephen Hawking warned that the long-term future of the planet is in outer space.

“It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet,” he said.

“I see great dangers for the human race,” Hawking said. “There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The Cuban missile crisis in 1963 was one of these. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future.”

“But I’m an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space,” he said.

That said, getting to another planet will prove a challenge, not to mention colonizing it for humanity. University of Michigan astrophysicist Katherine Freese told Big Think that “the nearest star [to Earth] is Proxima Centauri which is 4.2 light years away. That means that, if you were traveling at the speed of light the whole time, it would take 4.2 years to get there” — or about 50,000 years using current rocket science.

Still, we need to act and act fast, Hawking stated. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth but to spread out into space. We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space.”

Posted by Marc

Federal worker pay tops private sector pay. Few public-sector workers are employable in the private sectors, for good reason.

This ain't right.

At a time when worker pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private-sector workers make, a USA Today analysis finds.

Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

Federal civil servants received average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.
Overpaid workers, bloated salaries and benefits; most of 'em represented by Service Unions. Many of these employees are likely easily expendable, and wouldn't be missed.

Can you say Federal, State and City employee wage and benefit freezes, with rollbacks for every department? And no new hiring, until we get our economy fixed. There's no need to create so many new Federal jobs, Mr. Obama, just to make employment numbers look a bit better.

While we're looking at Federal employees, I'll bet every State has plenty of overpaid and underzealous sorts who could be carefully examined, for to prove their true use and value to The Company. Oh, that's right, Federal, State and Local governments are not 'Companies'; they are public sector non-profits who live off of our taxes and don't really have to concern themselves overmuch about tightening the budgets to a point that actually...hurts. As most private companies must.

What I could do as Personnel Director for government! Evaluations, screenings, monitoring work output and throughput to drive maximum efficiencies. And the firings!, departmental cutbacks for to trim bloated budgets, wage and salary freezes and wage rollbacks for those determined to be...not of any use or value. The crying, it would be loud, but would we actually lose anyone of value? No, because valuable resources would stand out as valuable resources, and, as cream, rise to the top. We'd give valuable resources raises funded by rollbacks from the sluggards.

Case in point: Driver's License Renewals, State of Tennessee. Never have I witnessed a more poorly-run 'office'. Employees are to a person seemingly disdainful, distant and morose, unhelpful and uncaring. Without the motivation needed to rise up and excel, such people are dead-enders walking. And sitting, mostly. Sure, you have a steady stream of some of the lowest sorts of humanity, but you also have Daddy with his Daughter who's getting her first driver's test. What a nice experience; let down by dealing with lackluster, hate-their-job peoples who, in a 'real' company, would find themselves on their fat asses just outside the front door, told to get lost. Severance this, bitch.

I suspect most Government jobs attract the same sorts. These would-be private sector failures.

Exceptions? Of course! Medical, Fire, Police, those who are hands-on and truly helpful to society. I speak with disdain mostly of the paper-pushers and others who have jobs they hate and, well, it shows.

But they can't do any better. And the pay is good, so they just do enough to get by, flow baby flow. Dead-enders on the dole.

I'll bet you know a few, if you know any Civil Servants employed at any level of government.

PGA tournament TV ratings DOWN 51% even with Tiger Woods

Used to be that TV rat ings suffered when Tiger Woods did not play in a golf tournament. Now, things are so bad for the onetime superstar golfer that ratings go down when he does play. After Woods played the worst golf of his career, ratings for the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational were down 51 percent over last year, when Woods won the event. But more telling, the ratings were down 34 percent from 2008 — when Woods did not even play in the tournament. — NY Post

Gibbs Goes Off on Professional Left

by BooMan

The story du jour is going to be Robert Gibbs's interview with The Hill. The White House is frustrated with the relentless negativity they're getting from their left flank, which is the same exact thing that I've been fulminating against ever since a good part of the progressive blogosphere decided to fight against the passage of the health care bill. Much of what Gibbs said needed to be said, albeit probably in a less dismissive tone. For example, Gibbs goes too far here:
The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”
This is an exaggeration. While we won't be "satisfied" until we have a Canadian-style health care system, we would have been content with a public option that got the ball rolling down that road. And we don't want to eliminate the Pentagon. We want to get the peace dividend we were denied when terrorism replaced communism as the raison d'etre for our astronomical military budget. We know it's nearly impossible to eliminate military programs, but we feel that the military budget is so bloated and our missions are so over-ambitious that we should trim the Pentagon before we touch Social Security, Medicare, or other valuable social programs. Gibbs knows we're right on these issues, so he should be a little more respectful despite our detachment from reality.
On this part, I agree with Gibbs completely:

“There’s 101 things we’ve done,” said Gibbs, who then mentioned both Iraq and healthcare. Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.
Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished in a shattered economy with uniform Republican opposition and a short amount of time.
As I've been saying for about a year, the progressive commentariat is not representative of "the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama." That doesn't make "the professional left" wrong on the issues. For the most part, they're right on the issues. Where they tend to err is their understanding of Washington DC, the Congress, and the political realities facing elected Democrats all over this country. They err when they assign blame in the wrong places for the results we've seen so far.
If Gibbs thinks his comments are going to win over the progressive elite, he's the one who needs to be drug-tested. But I feel his pain.

Gates Trims Senior Ranks in Major Cost Cutting Initiative

In his continuing war on the “culture of endless money that has taken hold” within the Department of Defense since 2001, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced today plans to eliminate Joint Forces Command, based at Norfolk, Va., curtail the use of contractors and eliminate up to 50 flag officers and 150 senior civilian positions over the next two years.

The cost cutting efforts announced today are not a budget cut drill, rather, he is trying to get ahead of deficit hawks in Congress that may be tempted to look to the defense budget as a source of money to cure the federal government’s fiscal woes. Seeking a “peace dividend,” Congress has slashed defense spending four times in the past, he said; he worries they’ll try it again.

“It’s about protecting money for the future.” Gates is struggling to free up money within the defense budget top line to spend on force structure and modernization to meet what he said were future threats, including failed and failing states and countries that are rapidly modernizing their militaries; which is the common euphemism for China. He singled out “precision ballistic missiles” as a looming threat to U.S. forces.
Current and planned defense budgets represent the minimum level of spending needed to prepare the military to counter such threats, he said. He hopes to find 2 to 3 percent in savings that can be reinvested in weapons systems. He highlighted shipbuilding as one area where more money is needed.

Where savings can be found, Gates said, is in the military’s bloated executive suites which have become “cumbersome” and overly reliant on contractors. While the wide ranging cuts he proposed today focused on trimming labor costs, Gates said he was mindful that at some point DoD must address the rampaging elephant in the defense budget: rising health care costs. “We’re being eaten alive by health care,” he said. The military’s health care costs have risen from $19 billion in 2001 to over $50 billion in 2011.

Gates said the services get to keep any savings they can come up with to spend on new weapons. He hinted that the services may propose significant personnel cuts of their own to free up money.

The initiatives announced today to reduce overhead duplication and excess include:

• Reduce funding for support contractors by 10 percent a year for the next three years.

• Close JFCOM, a command that includes some 2,800 military and civilian personnel and 3,000 contractors at an annual cost of $240 million.

• As part of a re-base lining, freeze the number of OSD, defense agency and Combatant Command billets at the fiscal 2010 levels for the next three years. No additional full time OSD positions will be created after 2010 to replace contractors except for critical needs.

• Freeze at FY2010 levels the number of flag officer, senior executive and political appointee positions
• Consolidate IT infrastructure facilities.

• Freeze the number of DoD required oversight reports and cut the dollars for advisory studies by 25 percent.
– Greg Grant