Happy Halloween

zom copy

Advertisements

Wednesday post and ramblings–VA Corruption

What to write about?  Well, there is politics, which never seems to go away. It would be easy to take a couple shots at the ACA / Obamacare drama but I think I’ll just let it unfold.  I wrote before we voted in and continue to vote in those that create these programs so I’m just choking down the bitter pill. 

No, today I want to note the continued spending spree of another government agency, the Veterans Administration. It’s been reported that an IG investigation turned up the VA spending over 6.1 million dollars on two conference events in Orlando.  The IG’s report states that over $762,000  in un-authorized and wasteful spending was found.  Once again we see big government, big unaccountable government spending like royalty.  They even made a movie parody of Patton.  Do they never learn? 

According to reports the VA spent somewhere between 20 million and 100 million in 2011 on conferences. 

In August, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller, and Ranking Member, Rep. Bob Filner, sent a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Eric. K. Shinseki. The letter requested that VA detail all conference expenditures by the department since 2009, including clarifying whether VA spends $20 million on conferences annually, or $100 million, differing numbers cited in Congressional testimony by VA officials.

Upper level civil servants seem completely out of touch.  They aren’t working for us and like the politicians in Washington they seem to think it’s their money.  It happens in all Government agencies.  It’s taught in house.  The proper way of spending the peoples money for “morale” events.

Fear not though, our good civil servants gave themselves $43,000 in bonuses for their great management.  Well with some of the perks a really huge bonus wasn’t needed.

http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/va-conference-spending-questionable-result-weak-oversight/2012-10-02

http://washingtonexaminer.com/watchdog-va-admits-spending-100-million-on-conferences-in-2011/article/2508603

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/30/ex-va-exec-wont-testify-lavish-conference-spending/

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/committee-pushes-va-conference-spending-20731816

How a deal is born

McConnell-Reid Deal Includes $3 Billion Earmark for Kentucky Project

A proposal to end the government shutdown and avoid default orchestrated by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid includes a nearly $3 billion earmark for a Kentucky project.

mitch_mcconnell

Same old Washington.  Doesn’t matter if they have an R or a D behind their names.  Actually I believe it’s worse than it’s ever been. 

update: What Mitch McConnell’s Dam Deal and Frank Lautenberg’s Death Benefit Tell Us About Govt Spending

Remember when

Some days the melancholy sets in. I don’t know what sets it off but today was like that. So, when you need to dive into a feeling what do you do? Well music of course. Now my little discussion the other day with 11th ACR got me thinking. Not of politics which we talked about and often disagree but of music. 11th is my cousin, an older cousin and we were brought up on different music. But there were a lot of crossover years. 11th had the coolest stereo I’d seen at that time. Back around 83-84 he had a nice Marantz system. At least part of it was Marantz. I remember he was the only one I knew who had a separate reverb and diamond tip record player, remember those. Many a day 11th and his brother and I would play some pool and listen to a pretty large collection of music. Everything from Elvis, the Beatles to I believe even a little country.

Now I really grew up with 11th’s younger brother Robert and since it’s October seems like a little story of one October not too many years before I left California for the Army. It was Halloween and Robert and I had bought some Halloween costumes. One was a skull and the other an ape. These were the kind you glued to your face and were pretty realistic for Halloween costumes. After messing around in our own neighborhood we headed out to 11th’s house. That was about a half hour drive away. What we forgot to think of was the time and the fact it was the middle of the week. I don’t recall the exact time but it was late and 11th and his wife were awoken by two idiots wearing masks rummaging through their house in the dark. How we didn’t get shot I don’t know.

Ape4

They of course welcomed us, which they always did.

So back to music. Today I’ve loaded Pandora with some Jim Croce, Neil Young, Eagles, Coven ( remember Billy Jack’s “One Tin Soldier”) and many more.

That and some Crown Royal have set the tone for this Saturday evening. The Melancholy is lifting already just thinking of those days.

I think the last time I felt like this I wrote about pirates.  I was drinking Rum then..  

Shutdown Week Two

Was7967526Yes, I know posting is light. But hey it’s due to the partial Government shutdown. No, really. I’ve been too absorbed watching this fiasco that I really didn’t have anything to say. Plus, I’m actually in this mess as a military retiree and a contractor that is not working due to our contract having a stop work order at this time. So, I just watch like the rest of you.

It’s been an  interesting event with all the really important and money saving shutdowns, like the Washington open-air malls and memorials. I’m pretty sure it’s costing us all more to put up barricades and kick people out then to just leave it alone. Then the stopping of privately own businesses working on government lands, blocking highway turn outs so you can’t look at monuments. This is really surreal.

Of course the Obama administration may have gone too far with the military death benefits. To say they couldn’t re-direct or work a deal to fund that is straight up BS. That is something you don’t stop while a war is still going on. Not that the media is noticing.

Oh well, we’ve gotten what we’ve voted for.

How to lose trust–NSA

 

keith-alexander

NSA chief’s admission of misleading numbers adds to Obama administration blunders

The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.

Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

This is how you lose the American public trust.  Deceit and lies while a necessary part of espionage is not a good thing for US agencies and Congress.  By Congress I mean the U.S. people through their representatives.  Now I know the trust in our representatives isn’t real high now either but the point is this cannot continue as it is. 

What bothers me is that for the most part I’m sure the NSA like most intelligence agencies are full of great hard working people.  But again like most government agencies it’s lead by political hacks most often that do and say anything their told.  Then even when caught in outright lies nothing can be done if they are supported by the administration.  Of course this still comes back to the voting public and what they will allow.  We at this time in history will allow an awful lot.

Is the DNI competent?

Intel chief suggests US spies might defect over budget impasse

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seems to think so.

Taking the warnings about the impact of the partial government shutdown to new levels, Clapper suggested Wednesday during a Senate hearing that cash-strapped spies might be tempted to switch national loyalties.

"This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to recruit," Clapper said, citing the "financial challenges" facing intelligence employees from both the current stand-off and furloughs driven by the sequester. He said roughly 70 percent of civilians doing intelligence work have been furloughed. 

"The danger here of course (is) that this will accumulate over time. The damage will be insidious. So each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases," he said.

odni-circle

So, basically James Clapper is insulting every intelligence employee, asset and I assume IC government worker out there.  Does he really think our intelligence people are that motivated by money or that hard up?  Yes, assets are money driven but they don’t just run to the other side and say hey, the US isn’t paying well enough can I help you? 

In an attempt to play up the pain of a Government partial, kind, sort of, shutdown once again this administration has succeeded in pointing the doubt inward.

Remember this is the guy who during the congressional hearings on Benghazi said,"I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no.  Yahoo/NBC

If it’s truly this easy to lose national intelligence assets or employees we are in deep trouble and probably in need of some serious intelligence community investigations.  Starting at the DNI’s officer perhaps.

Linux on the rise?

French National Police Switch 37,000 Desktop PCs to Linux

Yes, I know it’s the French.  But think of the potential savings.

Linux is now the primary means of running computer servers inside the data centers that drive the web’s biggest services, from Google to Amazon to Facebook, but it has struggled to replace Microsoft Windows on the desktop. The news from the Gendarmerie could be a sign that this is changing.

The agency claims the total cost of ownership of Linux and open source applications is about 40 percent less than proprietary software from Microsoft, according to an article published on the European Union’s Interoperability Solutions for Public Administrations website.

linux_tux_67671Actually, once you get used to using FireFox or Chrome and Libreoffice or OpenOffice it’s pretty easy to switch.  I use Linux on my netbook and like it.

Windows 8 didn’t help by hiding everything.