A Legitimate Reason?

OPM: Unpaid essential personnel must show up or risk AWOL status | WTOP

If an employee has a legitimate reason for the absence, the agency could place the person on furlough, but AWOL employees can face appropriate consequences based on the discretion of the agency.

Gee, what could a federal employee use as a legitimate reason for not reporting to work, when they are being ordered to report and not actually getting paid for coming to work. Hm, let me think, let me think. Oh, I know! How about Amendment 13, Section 1 of the United States Constitution?

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

I guess being essential, working without pay, for the United States Government, in the event of a shutdown is…punishment for a crime?

Failing that, not being able to pay for gas, or transit is also something I would accept. After all, many TSA worksites are not exactly conveniently located to public transit.

And The Stupidity Keeps Coming.

Trump says solution to shutdown impasse ‘so simple’ | WTOP

“I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” Trump said Monday. “This is so simple we shouldn’t have to.”

The President is correct. The solution is quite simple. The Senate needs to vote on the bills already passed by the house. That means the Majority Leader needs to man up and bring them to the floor. Let them stand or fall on their own merit and let the President sign or veto them as he wishes. This will show the country who is really causing 800,000 Federal workers to miss paycheques, put their credit history at risk, and, according to the Bureau of Revenue of Maryland:

The state’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates said Monday in a report that each biweekly payroll those residents are not paid results in about $778 million in lost wages. That results in roughly $57.5 million less in combined state and local income tax withholding and $2.1 million less in sales tax collections. WTOP

And that is just one state’s lost taxes.

Yes, Mr. President, the solution is so simple.

Pot, Meet Kettle

GOP Rep. King loses committee posts over racial remarks | WTOP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced King earlier Monday, saying, “There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind.”

Let us recall statements by the sitting GOP President following the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017:

Mr. Trump defended those gathered in a Charlottesville park to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he said. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” NY Times

Now, you can argue that 45 is not supporting racial supremacy, but I can argue even more that he sure is not, by his actions so far, saying there is no place for this sort of ideology. So Mitch, when you are digging a whole, the best way to save yourself is to stop digging.

Say What?

Exclusive: Trump team should be allowed to ‘correct’ final Mueller report, says Giuliani | TheHill

Rudy Giuliani says President Trump’s legal team should be allowed to “correct” special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it.

Just when you think you have heard the most ludicrous statement come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, someone comes along and says something even more jaw droppingly stupid.

As a prosecutor, how many times did Mr. Giuliani let the defendant correct his indictment before he presented it to the courts? Because that is exactly what the Mueller report will be, an indictment of the current President of the United States. Whether it leads to additional legal or Constitutional charges should be the decision of the bodies best qualified to make them. The President’s lawyer is not one of them.

I certainly hope that the adults in the room prevail.

Can We Do Te Same For Pastrami and Bacon?

Industry wary of alternatives tries to protect a word: meat | WTOP

Nebraska lawmakers will consider a bill this year defining meat as “any edible portion of any livestock or poultry, carcass, or part thereof” and excluding “lab-grown or insect or plant-based food products.” It would make it a crime to advertise or sell something “as meat that is not derived from poultry or livestock.”

As more and more marketing people try to get the general public to fall for their new and improved usually faux healthy product, like nut water, or margarine, instead of milk, or butter, the blurring of the lines between what we know it is and what the marketing doublespeak wants us to believe it is will only get broader.

Even foods that should be clearly delineated, like bacon, seem to now come with qualifiers, and the qualifiers are rather odd. I have yet to encounter the full shift I have seen with coffee (you now have to explicitly say you want your coffee hot), but I do not think we are far away. When I order pastrami, being asked to define whether I want beef or turkey probably makes several in the smoked meat business cringe. Bacon now comes as pork (the so far default), turkey, or tofu (when you are eating something called tofu, bacon is the last thing that comes to mind).

Many people have decided to cut meat out of their diet. That is just fine. However, please, do not confuse your need to follow rabid diet models with the public’s need to be able to identify their food. Meat only comes from animals, milk from cows or goats, and keep your ground up nuts out of my water. I need them for my Chex Mix.

The Party of No

House passes bill that would end shutdown, but Senate unlikely to take up

By a vote of 240-188 along mostly partisan lines, the House passed the bill and sent it to the Republican-controlled Senate as part of Democrats’ latest strategy to end partial government shutdowns at many federal agencies that began on Dec. 22. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not indicated a willingness to bring the bill up for a vote.

For the last two years, the House, Senate, and Executive have been controlled by the Republicans. For the past two years, the party of No has had control of all aspects of the government. During that time, they have not passed any significant bills related to border security. Now, suddenly, at the eleventh hour, the party of No suddenly needs to pass a bill containing $5bn for a wall. It no longer matters what this wall is made of anymore. $5bn is just the entry, like a gateway drug. And this is such an important issue, that the party of No has decided to shut down the government and not reopen it.

Let me be clear. The bills that are being passed are identical to the proposals the Republican-controlled Senate passed which did not have the $5bn in it anyway. Now, suddenly, the House bills are not good enough, and the Party of No in the Senate is refusing to bring them to the floor. Why?

The answer is pretty simple. The Republican-controlled Senate is afraid that if they bring these bills to the floor, the Senate will pass them, at a veto-proof level, and Majority Leader McConnell will look like an ass. This is now beyond the temper tantrums the President is throwing. This is a full-blown ass-covering exercise. And 800,000 federal workers are being held over a barrel because of it.

Is the Love In Over at Fox?

Fox News Legal Analyst Warns Trump Off New Wall Plan: ‘He’s In Dangerous Waters’

“The president may be biting off more than he can chew here ― legally and financially,” Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano told Martha MacCallum on Monday. “He is clearly in dangerous waters constitutionally.”

When the legal analysts at Fox News are saying the President is in Constitutionally dangerous waters, one has to wonder if perhaps the roof might be about to collapse on the whole stand-off. Of course, that is just guess work right now.

All and all…

In June, 1987, another Republican President said:

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev…Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

This morning, while the fact checkers are busy mocking the current Republican President is getting ready to go on television to try to convince the United States that what was not needed in Germany, is needed on the US border. The irony is thick.

I do not have time to fact check the President. He lies so often that you just assume he is lying. The Washington Post has a few people that can do fact checking and they have. This includes sources like State Department report which says:

Despite their portrayal of Mexico as a teeming portal for terrorists the State Department issued a report in September finding ‘no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.

So while there might be a crisis, and there is an immigration problem, the real problem is eight hundred thousand federal employees and contractors are 1) Not getting paid, 2) Working without pay (for those who are essentials), 3) Forcing employees not considered essential back to work to improve optics.

It is time to forget about a drop in the bucket five billion dollars and get the government back to doing the people’s business.

National Emergency?

The Latest: Pence says national emergency being considered | WTOP

Vice President Mike Pence says the White House is looking into the legality of declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress and begin construction on President Donald Trump’s long-promised Southern border wall.

Let me see if I understand this. There are 800,000 people not getting a paycheque because the President of the United States wants to build a wall, that even his own experts (and the Cato Institute and a half-a-dozen other firms) believe will solve nothing. Especially when there are bridges falling down, courts backed up, and, um, 800,000 people not currently drawing a paycheque.

The National Emergency is the unfunded nature of several agencies critical to the operation of the country. At this point, even ISIL is laughing at us.

Welcome to 1984, er, 2019…NewSpeak Is Alive And Well

Trump told lawmakers he prefers word ‘strike’ to government shutdown, sources say | WTOP

President Donald Trump told congressional leaders during a meeting Friday to try to negotiate terms to re-open the government and that he preferred the word “strike” in describing the ongoing government shutdown, a person familiar with the meeting and a Democratic aide told CNN.

George Orwell wrote, in the opening line of his essay Politics and the English Language:

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.

This was before he wrote his novel 1984 in 1948. One of the hallmarks of 1984 is the discussion of Newspeak. I am sure Orwell would be delighted to see how the current President of the United States has not only adopted his vision but implemented in such as way as to make it a vital part of the political discussion!

The current government shutdown is not a strike. It is not a refusal to work organized by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer. It is the temper tantrum of an adult who is not getting his way. Period. Also, worse, it is a temper tantrum that has now expanded to include a group of mostly white men who are upset that they are not going to get their way, so they are taking their toys and going home, putting thousands of Americans at risk, economically and socially. This is not about security. It has never been about security, despite what the current holder of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would have you believe from his tweets. This is about the unbridled lust for power and what happens when someone says No.

For 45 to call this a strike is another example of how he is twisting the narrative to shield his actions from those that are not paying attention. At this point, do not be surprised to find him saying we have always been at war with Oceana. But good luck trying to understand just who that is.