Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Legislation Round Up

The President has not signed a bill into law for two weeks now. He hasn't named a post office, he hasn't blown our tax money on bailouts or hookers or whatever he spends it all on, and he has not criminalized any behavior.

The thought has occurred to me before that people really have no idea what it is Congress spends all day doing unless you have immersed yourself in that world. Once you have immersed yourself, however, you will never, ever find a towel to dry yourself. I think normal employers can smell the stench of a political background and just instinctively know that unless they have a policy/politics related task to accomplish that it is best to stay far away lest you also become contaminated with government.

So think of you, dear reader, and I as the awkward couple at the pool where one person wants to swim and the other doesn't so they end up at the edge of the pool, one in, one out, talking. I promise not to splash, but when we have slow weeks like this one I will tell you things about how the water feels.

Terrible analogies aside, the most recent bill the president signed was Harry Reid's peculiar bill covered last week.

Before that were a pair of acts of congress establishing that the parking fees for the congressional parking garages should be raised as appropriate to install electric vehicle charging stations. On this I will simply say that if your congressman doesn't represent Maryland or Virginia there is no way that an electric vehicle can carry them to and from their nominal home in your district, meaning that they are probably out of touch.

Between the two of those was the North Korea shaming act that was covered two weeks ago.

Then there was a small miscellaneous bill correcting small errors in an assortment of trade agreements, including CAFTA.

On Friday the 10th, three weeks ago, they named five post offices, and the Friday before that they named another.

Also on Friday the 10th was a strengthening of Iranian and Syrian sanctions which had, among other effects, the effect of forcing World of Warcraft to stop operating in Iran. Because everyone knows that you can't build nuclear reactors without level 85 death knights and Elven wizards.

That Friday the president also signed a bill allowing the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo discriminate against people based on whatever "blood quantum" rules they cared to apply, a pretty racist and scientifically backward view for our post-racial blackberry obsessed president.

Additionally, an amendment to a commemorative coin act passed to help fund a National Infantry Museum allows for collected funds to be used to retire Museum debt.

That Friday there were also two bills conveying land owned by the federal government to a few counties and municipalities in Oregon. This (and the related land conveyance bills, they come up with some regularity) is probably the closest thing to Federalism endorsed by this president and the real truth is that no one involved thinks of the issue in anything more than the most base, utilitarian manner. Land transfers are simply things that must be done to increase land use efficiencies.

That Friday the Senate delegated away, and the president gladly accepted, the right to advise and consent to the appointments of the following positions:

  • Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Administration
  • Rural Utilities Service Administrator
  • Commodity Credit Corporation (seven board members, five advisers)
  • Chief Scientist; NOAA
  • Assistant Secretaries of Defense (and the Ass. Sec Def for Networks and Information Integration as well as the Ass Sec Def for Public Affairs positions are eliminated, though whoever currently holds those jobs may continue to hold them indefinitely)
  • Six members of the National Security Education board.
  • Dept Educ Assistant Secretary for Management
  • Dept Educ Commissioner of Education Statistics
  • HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
  • Director of the Office for Domestic Preparedness 
  • Assistant Administrator of FEMA, Grant Programs 
  • Administrator of the United States Fire Administration
  • Director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement (Spell check doesn't believe Counternarcotics is a word. I tend to agree)
  • Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security (Sounds like something out of a fascist version of Star Trek)
  • DHS Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs
  • DHS Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs
  • DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (all these affairs make me think that these are Clinton era positions)
  • HUD Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (this position is actually fabricated whole cloth in this bill, his job description being "...shall perform such functions, powers, and duties as the Secretary shall prescribe from time to time". Government of limited powers, my @$$)
  • Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics (This sounds like the best job in the world)
  • Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance
  • Director, National Institute of Justice (whose job it is to fight the bastards over at the National Institute of Injustice over in the Commerce department)
  • Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Director, Office for Victims of Crime
  • Dept of Labor Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
  • Dept of Labor Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
  • Dept of Labor Director of the Women's Bureau
  • Dept of State Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
  • Dept of State Assistant Secretary for Administration
  • DOT Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs
  • DOT Assistant Secretary for Administration
  • Deputy Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
  • Treasury Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
  • Treasury Assistant Secretary for Management
  • VA Assistant Secretary for Management
  • VA Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration
  • VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • VA Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security, and Preparedness
  • Appalachian Regional Commission; Alternate Federal Co-Chairman
  • 2 of the three Council of Economic Advisers Members
  • Managing Director of the Corporation for National and Community Service (How the hell did a thing like this enter the public sphere???)
  • All fifteen members of the National Council on Disability
  • Any number of paid members of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities National Museum and Library Services Board
  • Deputy Director of National Drug Control Policy
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Director for Demand Reduction
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Director for Supply Reduction (How are either of these real things? If I saw them on the internet there is no way I would believe we have not only a Director for both supply and demand reduction, but Deputy Directors as well)
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs
  • Commissioner of the Office of Navajo and Hopi Relocation (Holy shit! Are we still doing that?)
  • US Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Management
  • Administrator of the Community Development Financial Institution Fund
  • DOT Administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Also removes the seven year term limit
  • Mississippi River Commission Commissioner
  • 15 voting members of the National Board for Education Sciences
  • 10 members of the National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board
  • 13 voting members and 6 nonvoting members of the American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development Board of Trustees
  • The entire Public Health Service Commissioned Officer Corps
  • The entire NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps
The bill also establishes a director of the census, modifies appointment regulations for the Governors and Alternative Governors of the Asian and African Development banks and Fund. It also establishes a working group for making the process for presidential appointment easier, with less pesky documentation. The GAO will report on all the new positions evaluating the costs and benefits of removing these position or converting them to career positions held indefinitely without presidential oversight.

Not sure what bothers me most about the above bill. It could be the fact that Congress is being lazy and letting go of their ability to oversee and prevent corruption, incompetence and petty tyranny, though I doubt they are doing much about these positions now. It could be the fact that the President now has fewer checks on his already substantial power. It could be the fact that this is only a tiny fraction of the federal bureaucracy and that every one of these people is either useless and wasting tax money or not useless and holding some non-insignificant amount of power, backed by the world's most powerful coercive agent, to restrict my life in some way.

Also that Friday they designated the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization.

This is why I am voting for Gary Johnson.

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