Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Order of Orders

I sat and reviewed the 23-odd Presidential executive orders.  It's an odd group:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

-- And they weren’t already doing this? They didn’t care about doing the right thing before and you had to order them to do this?

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

-- The law was passed by Congress and will continue to be a law on the books until Congress directs it’s removal. Any state or county can enforce the law, if they desire.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

-- Basically, you refuse to give them various federal funding packages unless they play by your rules….paving money, or bridge money, or river-clean-up money. Or they can refuse to even collect the data, thus making such a database worthless to start with, unless you give them an extra $5 million just to hire Buddy Joe (a friend of the Governor's office).

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

-- There’s basically two categories…normal folks and crazy folks. What would you do if you had a crazy guy? Can you really prohibit him from having a weapon? Will the Attorney General create fourteen categories?  Well....you don't know.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

-- How long would such a full background check take? You stop a guy on your interstate and seize the gun to take over to the county office. Joe wants his gun back now…but you end up forcing Joe to stay overnight at the Motel Six….and into the afternoon of the second day….before handing his weapon back? You could generate $500k of local hotel tax revenue….forcing guys traveling from one state to another….to wait out some seized gun scam by the local cops?

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

-- Who from the state or local government will enforce such a directive? None of them are honor-bound to obey Presidential orders. Will the private sellers have the same form of ID as required for voting in elections? Well....that wasn't spelled out.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. -- Yes, we will unload $600 million in advertising dollars (tax revenue), to show hunter Joe and customer Bob in responsible activity with guns. TV and radio stations will greatly appreciate your effort. What about those who don’t watch TV or listen to radio? Well…yeah, that’s a problem.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

-- At least six different paid studies will be underway via university or private companies on a government grant, likely totaling $15 million. The end result? Gun locks and safes meet the national requirement.

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

-- Honestly, if fed law guys aren’t tracing guns they recover presently….there’s something wrong, and they ought to be fired.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

-- Likely to be a two-hundred page document with lots of statistics on caliber of guns that went missing, lost or stolen. And which members of the county Sheriff’s office will read the two-hundred page report? And then, what will do they after they’ve read it? 

11. Nominate an ATF director.

-- For roughly six years, a permanent director has been sought but none supported via the confirmation process (the Senate, not the House, would do this….but they are way too busy on budget approval episodes).

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

-- Grant money….hundreds of millions via Homeland Security. You can see Wannabe trainer Joe charging $2600 a responder for a eight-hour class on a Saturday for sixteen guys. Wannabe trainer Marty will charge $9000 for twenty-two school administrators to get trained and certified. Scam game to the maximum.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

-- “Maximize”? So they haven’t been attempting to prevent gun violence or prosecute criminals? For the last decade or two? Really?

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

-- Gun violence….a disease? Isn’t this Center supposed to be for flu stuff and physical diseases? So a dozen grants go out, for professors to do research projects. They will cut and paste everything written over the past twenty years and repeat everything already accomplished. The only unusual thing out of this? Someone might accidentally admit that crazy people shouldn’t have access to weapons.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

-- Grant money….into the hundreds of millions via the Attorney General. The technology they talk about? At least twenty years away before it’d be affordable. Meanwhile, for another hundred years….300 million weapons without such technology will still exist in America.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

-- Well….the law absolutely says that a doctor cannot ask a patient about his guns. So you say that this law cannot be obeyed? Really?

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

-- Medical professionals all have an oath to cover what they can or cannot give to the authorities, period. They’ve had that oath for a long time, and no new letter will change the oath.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

-- It’s one thousand folks (I checked). For 98k schools. It’s a bit short. Also, it’s split between guards and mental health professionals. Figure 500 each. With our luck, they will all be sent to Montana and Idaho.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

-- No Piggly Wiggly? No town hall? No restaurants? No bus terminals? But Pastor Joe needs to have a plan on the back wall of the church detailing exits and deputize fourteen deacons to return fire if necessary with their own weapons?

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

 -- If your letter doesn’t state that crazy folks must be put into mental facilities….don’t bother clarifying.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

-- If the benefits don’t cover tossing nuts into permanent facilities for crazy folks….don’t bother clarifying.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

-- Would the regulations allow a city, county, state or federal judge to toss a nut who is a threat into a facility? If not, don’t bother with more regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

-- Unless they agree that 250k Americans ought to be locked up in mental health facilities for the rest of their lives….don’t bother with dialogue chats.

 In the end? Around two to three billion a year will be spent on these executive orders. It’s mostly a funding game or a public relations game.

Simply Observations

After you view the entire Lance Armstrong "confession"....you come to this strange trail ahead.  Lance intends to name all the folks involved....including the sponsors who knew about the business.  This puts the prosecutors and the media folks at an awkward situation.  To go after Lance....you'd have to drag big-name sponsors into the mess, and reveal pay-offs and probable tax violations along the way.  The sponsors?  Oh, they probably are going to shy away from all bike races for the next year or two.  These idiots who felt the truth would help the sport?  I'd start to prepare for bikers with no real sponsors and no way of paying for their sport.  In a way, Lance has fired a nuke into the middle of bike racing and screwed up things for several years.

It is absolutely true....two six-year old punk kids in Maryland were in the school playground, and using their fingers to pretend they had guns.  They got reported, and then suspended from school....for fake hand (real hand) guns.  The lesson learned?  Just stay away from the school playground, and sit under a tree.

To simplify this story...it goes this way.  This bi-polar gal (age 21 at the time) had a breakdown at the Midway Airport in Chicago.  Cops got involved.  They tote her off to jail.  After various determinations ...the Chicago authorities decide to release her.....in the heart of downtown Chicago....in one of the worst neighborhoods possible.  Don't ask why....the authorities don't even discuss this part in public now.  She gets enticed into some apartment building....where she is raped and chased around....finally jumping out of a seventh-floor window, and getting a concussion that leaves her in a fairly bad mental state for the rest of her life.  After six years....the court came to determine that the city of Chicago really screwed up. The cost to the Chicago tax-payer (don't even talk about legal costs)....$22.5 million.  All one cop had to do was take the gal back to the airport and drop her off there, and they weren't even capable of doing that.

The Harry Reid new mess?  Well....it's simple story.  Some Utah guy was running a fairly questionable business operation, and got noticed by the feds.  An investigation started up.  Some guy comes to visit the wannabe executive in trouble and offers to be a middle-man to Senator Harry Reid.  The Senator....as our wannabe executive is told....can stop FTC investigations.  This all happens in 2010.  Well....stuff happens along the way, and the feds intervene anyway.  The amount paid to the middle-guy?  $600k.  The main part of this case on corrupt business practices is proceeding ahead into court.  The $600k bribe is staying separate at this point in time.....but you can bet that the wannabe business guy wants to drag this whole thing out into public.  The odds of the middle-guy being a fake and pretending to be Harry's friend?  Better than fifty-percent chance.  The chance that the middle-guy might have given Harry a donation of $100k along the way?  Well....maybe fifty-percent too.  Does Harry even know the wannabe business guy or the middle-guy?  Probably not.  You can imagine John McCain walking up to Harry Reid this week and mentioning that he knows a good lawyer if he gets into trouble with the FTC folks.  Harry would utter some four-letter words and the two would have a good laugh for five seconds.

No one really talks about it much....but as the Feds pushed and pushed car-makers to get better gas mileage....the only alternate way to cram more miles per gallon now....is to move away from steel, and more toward plastic and aluminum.  Safer?  No.  Feeling better about gas mileage?  Yes.  Thank goodness that politicians are working hard to make your life better.

Finally, the President's team kind of hinted yesterday that they could take money from the government worker's pension deals.....including anything tied down to the Threat-Savings-Plan (the gov't 401k plan).  I'm a participant of the TSP, and of course....it gets me aggravated that they'd have the ability to reach in and take this money.  The TSP managers stepped out yesterday and laid out the mess.  There are roughly ten funds that they operate.  Nine are related to stocks and the President can't touch those.  The G-fund....related to government treasury bonds....is totally open and the President could remove or borrow all of that, if necessary.  My humble guess is that almost everyone will shift money out of the G-fund over the next four weeks....making it almost empty.  Course, the sad thing is that G-fund will become mostly worthless in the end....even if you kept your money there.  So the President...just by a hint....really screwed up a decent investment fund...overnight.    

Stuff Happens

I looked over the story, and tried to write it as Paul Harvey would have viewed it for his Saturday edition.

Somewhere on a chilling Monday afternoon in New York City....a guy entered the subway.  It's hard to say what was on his mind as he entered, but that would end up being the last minutes of his life.

Authorities say the thirty-one year old gentleman was from the Bronx.  No one has uttered much over his occupation or path in life.  Maybe that didn't really matter.

Around 4PM in the afternoon, he got on the number six train.  We shall never know why, or if there was just some element of luck of that train. For some reason, he had a reason to defecate, and just waiting until they got to the next station was not practical.  Maybe he had done this before.  Maybe he was carrying out a bet, but authorities simply don't know.

This gentleman stood between the one car and the next....in a position that few would imagine.  We aren't sure if he had some paper to wipe.  We aren't even sure if he was standing or squating.  Maybe the rocking motion or just bad luck, but he fell to the side....off the train...onto the track.  And there, the northbound train leaving out of the 125th Street station ran him over completely.

The authorities arrived and staged one of their hazmat crews.  One would assume that the subway line was tied up for hours, while clean-up took place.

The necessity of relieving one's self there?  Well....you just don't know.  Stuff happens in New York City, and you don't question the events later.  It just happens....you know.

The safety commissioner's comments?  So far, he's stayed off the topic, but one would imagine that he's working on a one-liner for the New York Post....stuff happens....you know.

But, there's other part to this odd story.  Minutes after the first guy was noted dead on the tracks....there's a second guy who stumbles up onto the platform of the 125th Street station.  He's all bent out of shape, bleeding, broken pelvis, and some severe buttock injuries (something that most folks rarely ever encounter).

The second guy is alive, and was described by the authorities as mostly drunk.  The authorities don't think there's any connection between the two.  Well....they say that anyway.

The odd timing of one guy passing while on a defecation event, and the other hit by the likely same train? Statistically, it's one in a million.  There's an engineer somewhere....calculating this and just noting that it can't happen too often.  The odds of surviving a hit in a subway tunnel in New York City?  One in a million.

Stuff happens....you know.  And no connection between the defecation guy and the guy with severe buttock wounds.  Yeah, as the Post says....no connection.  Stuff happens (as Paul Harvey would have written it).

The Mandatory Job

The Air Force got into a big scandal at basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas this past year.  After a whole bunch of investigation, and questions....they have determined that one of their big issues....was allow junior NCOs to become training instructors, and occupy a great deal of the billets at basic training.

It's an odd thing, but most NCOs....after you've got twelve or more years in....really don't want to do any TI duty or get assigned to Air Force basic training.  Nothing personal, but they spent a number of years getting into their career field....they really don't want to get up at 04:30 in the morning to be at work at 05:30, and these dang 18-year old punks just are a hassle to motivate and discipline.

So for the past two or three decades, it's been mostly junior NCOs...some with only four years of background....who felt this would be a great deal.  You might also guess that they were thrilled in ordering a bunch of folks around for three or four years, and this filled a big square in their life.

This week, the Air Force came out and said that immediately ...they were going to source these empty TI billets with E6 or E7 NCOs..... forceably.

You can imagine this episode.  Master Sargent Joe is about to end four years of duty in Italy and rotate back to the US.  He just needs four years, and he's done and can retire.  So he gets this note....he got picked for TI-duty.  He asks to be let out of this....he really doesn't want a job like this.  And the Air Force says "no".

TSgt Mike gets a call there at the office in South Korea...expecting a great job in North Carolina, and the news is forced TI-duty.

Over the next year....a bunch of NCOs will find themselves shifted around and told to report to Lackland.  They will be blunt upon arrival....they don't want this duty, and the Commander tells them that this isn't a like-it-or-not deal.  You have no choice.  After about two years....the Air Force discovers that a number of senior NCOs have drinking issues and have found various problems to get themselves dissolved of the TI-duty.

Eventually, the Air Force will admit that it'd rather have volunteers...rather than force unhappy people into such a position.

You can imagine yourself....putting in eight hours a day, and sometimes pulling another eight over the weekend....dealing with punks who see this as simply high school version 2.0.  It takes around three weeks to get their attention and then you can start to be a little less hostile.  It's not a job that most folks would ask for.  And the sad thing is....you'd likely have to do this for three years before they'd let you leave.