- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman presented an intriguing history of the transfer of power in this country, starting with the earliest days of the republic when the federal government “was a massive spoils system,” in his speech to the career Senior Executives Association.

“To the victor of the presidential election went the spoils,” Mr. Bodman noted. “Federal employment was a jobs program for the winning side — jobs that weren’t intended to serve the American people, but to pay off friends and supporters.

“That made elections very tumultuous affairs, indeed,” he said. “Losing the White House often would result in nearly every person on the federal payroll being tossed out on the street.”

The secretary quoted Henry Clay, the great senator from Kentucky, as saying that government officials after an election were “like the inhabitants of Cairo when the plague breaks out. No one knows who is next to encounter the stroke of death.”

and now

These days it’s almost impossible to be fired from the federal payroll.

Take a follow-up press release issued in recent days by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), plastered with a frightening mug shot of heavy-metal architect Ozzy Osbourne.

The appearance of the Prince of Darkness in this congressional report pertains to extensive internal credit card abuse at the Agriculture Department, where a previous investigation by the inspector general had determined that certain bureaucrats were using government-issued credit cards for personal purchases — $7.7 million over the course of six months, all paid with taxpayer dollars.

Among the items purchased: Ozzy Osbourne concert tickets, tattoos, exotic attire, enrollment in bartending college, an automobile, cosmetics and cigarettes.

One person made 147 car payments totaling $11,444, another withdrew $17,000 from ATM machines, while a dozen persons spent $196,000 among them.

The USDA, reports the RSC, has since taken several measures to address the abuse, not the least being the deactivation of more than 10,000 credit cards, while instituting a “zero tolerance” policy for credit card misuse.

Which is a good thing, considering the person who pulled the 17-grand from the ATMs landed only a 30-day government suspension, reveals the RSC.

As for the Ozzy Osbourne fan, might we suggest the USDA force the employee to sit through an entire Celine Dion concert, singing along to “My Heart Will Go On.”

Extreme leaders?

America’s college students are increasingly turned off by “partisan bickering” among the country’s political leadership, or so says a poll for the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, headed by Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.

As a result, important issues are “not being dealt with,” say a majority of students polled.

“Today’s students are reflecting the growing anxiety of the nation over the future,” says Mr. Panetta, adding that students also expressed concern about leaders’ moral and ethical standards.

One verbatim response from one of the 806 student interviews: “People in politics are either extreme or they don’t care; there is no middle ground.”

Of meat and men

“You are in good company,” we’d quoted Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as writing in a letter this week to former President Bill Clinton, who is “struggling” to become a full-fledged vegetarian.

“From Mahatma Gandhi to Albert Einstein, some of the world’s greatest historical figures and thinkers have chosen meat-free diets,” she said in her pep talk to the former president.

To which Inside the Beltway readers like Michael Logan, a company vice president in Princeton, N.J., and Eric Jamborsky respond: “It is interesting [Miss Newkirk] never mentions two of the most famous vegetarians of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler.”

Yes, certain accounts have suggested Hitler and his sidekick Himmler (the latter a former poultry farmer before crowning Hitler the Messiah), were both biocentric vegetarians.

Not so, says VIVA, or Vegetarians International Voice for Animals. Hitler, says the group, enjoyed his bratwurst. And he was in good company.

“He ate meat — just like Himmler, Hermann Goering, Adolf Eichmann, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Attila the Hun, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Harold Shipman, Timothy McVeigh, Myra Hindley and almost every other killer in history,” the group states.

“So even if he had been vegetarian, it would prove nothing. But he wasn’t.”

c John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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