Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Smoking War

We had another indication over at the Pentagon today (where I work)....that a smoking war is about to start.  Management has heat breathing down on it....to eliminate the smoking spots in the center courtyard.  Typically, a smoker would walk six to eight minutes....enter the Pentagon courtyard, and find one of the two points where you could openly smoke.  The non-smokers are angers by the drifting smoke in the courtyard....so the pressure has reached the upper management of the building.

The feeling is....they'd just declare the whole reservation a non-smoking spot.  This means you'd have to exit the building and literally walk into the parking lot.....just to smoke.  The length of time involved?  For some folks.....it's going to amount to a 45-minute smoke break by the time you walk, smoke, and return.

There's the threat of union folks getting into this, and I suspect that folks will be hostile about missing their smoke break.  Out of 23k folks....I'd be guessing that at least 4k smoke at least three times a day while at the Pentagon.

My suggestion?  I'd put up a hut of sorts at one end, with a large funnel reaching up 100 feet, and just let the folks smoke....while their smoke drifts off at a higher level.  The non-smokers will be unhappy about this.....hoping instead to put a complete end to smoking at the Pentagon.  So there's a war brewing.....and it won't be pretty.

The McDonalds "Wink"

This is what we know.  Some gal who works at a McDonalds in Maryland....has claimed that she won the $640 million Mega Millions Lotto from Friday night.  She has some problems though.  First, there were three winning tickets....of which only one came from Maryland.  So she can't take home more than $120-odd million (from the cash pay-out deal).  Then there's this funny deal.  She took money from various McDonald's employees as a group.  She bought X number of tickets.  She claims that she later bought a $1 ticket....independent of the group deal....and that's how she won the money.  The group....simply doesn't believe her story and are preparing for some legal fight.  Now to the final part of this story....the gal claims that she has the ticket hidden at McDonalds, and that it's safe there.

I pondered over this whole story today.  First, what idiot would store a lotto ticket worth millions at your workplace....especially at a McDonalds.  This part of the story....is totally bogus in my mind.  What she wants is for every employee at the McDonalds to waste hours and hours....searching the shop....for the single ticket.  The ticket is either safely at a bank deposit box, or sitting in this gal's freezer....either way, it's safe.  As for the McDonald's management?  I'd bring the gal in and let her know that she can't come back in and just shut the joint down for twenty-four hours while an independent cleaning crew cleans the place from top to bottom....ensuring the ticket isn't there.

Meanwhile....another employee from the McDonalds ought to stand up and announce that they found the ticket, and have it safely hidden in some library book at some local library....just fake the faker out a bit.

Finally, if I were this gal....I'd start to think about a huge court battle brewing....for months, if not years.  The rest of the McDonalds crew are going to find the right lawyer, and engage on this.  She literally screwed up by announcing her winning status.  She should have kept quiet and just waited 90 days....quietly picking up the check and walking out the back door to Canada.  I suspect that she will have to cut the check up into five or six pieces....and just be happy with $15 million instead.

Our Government, at Work

This is what we know.  The General Services Administration (GSA) runs all of the government requirements for pens, paper, buildings, and car purchases.  Various methods have been invented over the past twenty years, where government organizations can bypass GSA, and just buy items directly from companies.  Two years ago.....GSA, under new management from the incoming administration.....decided to hold a big fancy meeting.  They decided that it would be held in Henderson, Nevada.....not Las Vegas or any of the other 100 cities where conferences are typically held.

What GSA did in this conference....was arrange for fancy food and breakfast items to be laid out (at an excessive cost), hire up a magician for entertainment, hire a clown for entertainment, hire a mind-reader for entertainment, spend over $75k for a team building exercise on how to put a bicycle together, rent a couple of tuxedos for the master of ceremonies event at the end of the episode, and give everyone some commendatory coin for the grand event.

If this had been done by Wal-Mart....no one would have said much.  But this was GSA....an arm of the government.  Eventually someone reported bits and pieces....and a major investigation was concluded.  It was bad enough.....that the head of GSA was forced out, and several other big-names of the organization will likely end up demoted or fired or punished in some fashion.

There are various questions here.  Didn't anyone with the ethics program ever oversee the planning to this? Didn't someone comment that you can't hire a clown or magician with government funding?  How did they come to pick this Henderson resort, and not a Vegas resort?  Couldn't the mind-reader tell them something bad was going to happen from this episode?

My guess is that every single government agency will review it's conferences planned out and start to require them in places like Birmingham, Bama, or some remote desert location like Yuma, Arizona.  Maybe some more ethics people will be hired to oversee stupid government managers.  Perhaps some idiot congressman will pass a law that actually forbids the hiring of clowns by the US government.

The positive side of this?  During some bad economic times.....we, the US government, helped out the mind-readers and clowns of America.  It was rough economic times.....and we did our part to ensure their economic survival.  In fact.....there ought to be some stimulus package existing....just to happen clowns.  We need someone like Harry Reid or perhaps Mitch McConnell to bring in the clown support for America.  It'd be the right thing to do.

Three Pages, Single-Spaced

When those young radical punks gathered back over two hundred years ago....to design the United States government....they sat and pondered upon things for a good bit, then wrote some basic drafts.  Discussions were held, and more chit-chat.....with the majority of folks coming to some agreement over things.

One of the key things that they all decided on.....was that only Congress could make laws.  The President and his executive branch were the ones who were supposed to uphold the laws or enforce them.  And the judicial branch of the government was supposed to decide if laws or the application of laws.....were against the Constitution.   Each division protected the people from the other two, in some essence.

The President walked into a fair mess this week when he got a bit disturbed over the threat to the health care law.  Based on some comments....he's now pretty sure that the straw vote last week (secretly held by the Supreme Court).....went against him.  You see various indicators that he's figured out results from this secret vote.  The President had some harsh words over the court system.

Well....yesterday....the 5th Court of Appeals stood up and called in a federal attorney....asking him to define if the President thinks the court has the power to challenge or strike down a law.  They'd like this statement by Thursday, on three pages minimum, single-spaced.  The federal attorney involved in this....just said "yes sir", and quietly walked out.

So this federal attorney will call up Eric Holder.  There will be this short seven-minute conversation.  Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States.....will turn around and call up the President....with another short seven-minute conversation.  All three of these characters are supposed to be well-versed in Constitutional law....to some degree.

My humble guess is that the young attorney over at the 5th Court of Appeals will work on this document.....quoting from the Constitution for the most part.....cutting and pasting from Wikipedia and some government sources, and explain how the process of law challenges work.  He'll hint at some point of how judicial activism is such a terrible thing and that only Congress can make laws because they are elected into their position by the people.

I would imagine that everyone around the White House will read this three to four page document....marveling at the simple wording and character of the document.  This will end up being passed around, and likely earn some special title in the records of American history....simply confirming that the judicial branch of the US government....has one function only....to decide if laws abide by the Constitution, or strike them from law because they don't support the Constitution.  The President?  He'll quietly sit there....angry over this challenge to the Administration.

In reality, another soap opera concludes in DC....with some winners and losers.  And next week?  A fresh new soap opera, with a fresh script, and another actor or two tossed into the mess.