Stones Fly In City Of Glass Houses: Congress and the White House

As a longtime critic of congressional junkets and travel, I am a bit confused by the effusion of shock and contempt by our congressional leaders in both parties over the recent Nevada conference by GSA employees. There is no question that the conference was outrageous and an abuse. However, these are the same people who have spent hundreds of millions on trips that have long been denounced as little more than paid vacations and long fought for the right to be wined and dined by lobbyists and other interests at swank hotels and restaurants (here and here and here). In the meantime, recent reports show that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has cost the taxpayers $860,000 to fly back and forth on weekends to his home in California. That is almost the exact amount spent at the Nevada conference. They sound like a city of Claude Rains, “shocked, shocked” by the allegations as they rush to make their private flights on government aircraft.

Panetta has apologized for his costs of travel. The costs of the 27 roundtrip flights amount to $3,200 per flight hour for his Air Force C-37 — somewhat comparable to a Gulfstream jet. The high costs are associated with his insistence in “going home” to California. Pelosi was previously criticized for using military jets to go to California at a huge public cost. At least Pelosi could claim that she has to return to her district — though I have previously criticized her for these flights and her purchase of planes to be used by members for junkets. Panetta’s flights in my view are excessive. He could simply not fly to California for weekends and show a modicum of fiscal restraint.

The hypocrisy shown over the GSA conference has reached a new high in this city. There are members of the legislative and executive branches who have not bilked the public for such trips. However, they are you will find few such examples among Democratic and Republican leadership who have records replete with junkets and free vacations (dressed up as educational trips).

24 thoughts on “Stones Fly In City Of Glass Houses: Congress and the White House”

  1. I am confident that Republican outrage over prostitution will subside as soon as their national convention swings into high gear in Tampa later this year.

  2. YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS CONTINUOUS ABUSE BY GOVERNMENT AGENCYS AND CONGRESS.
    WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN AND TELL HIM IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS THAT YOU WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE THIS AND IF HE CAN’T VOTE FOR MEASURES TO STOP IT, HE CAN BE REPLACED WITH SOMEONE WHO WILL.
    CHECK ON HIS RECORD FREQUENTLY,AND ACCEPT SOME RESPONSIBILITY, WE PUT THESE CROOKS IN OFFICE. STOP VOTING BASED ON PARTY AFFILIATION AND GET THE BUMS OUT.

    WE THE CITIZENS HAVE THE POWER TO ” CHANGE ”

    VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE & VOTE

  3. The only thing that shocks me is that more people aren’t disturbed by the constant, blatant hypocrisy rife everywhere. I guess we have our bread and circuses to keep us happy. The attitude was expressed in this song.

  4. Stones Fly In City Of Glass Houses: Congress and the White House

    Love the imagery.

  5. They do have some vague resemblance to a chicken, but I would think any wine, the worse the better, would suffice.

  6. But do they taste like chicken? Do you serve a white wine with them like a Jayhawk or a red wine like a Wildcat? Mascot cookery is such a hassle.

  7. Further on team nicknames/mascots that no one really cares about anyway: there is a creation called the “Hokie bird”, which parades around with a human inside it. Some years ago a local business group (not the real business group that represents, like, real businesses, but some fat cat made up group) decided to raise money by producing a lot — maybe even 50 — hokie bird replicas in fiberglass, FULL SIZE, or maybe even bigger (use your imagination), to be uniquely decorated by local artists and auctioned or sold. Needless to say, this really didn’t generate a lot of interest or money since who want’s a 7 foot, say, argyle painted bird creature on their front lawn. Eventually some deep pockets person bought them up and distributed them to malls, no doubt at a deep discount.

    Anyway, the relevance of the story to the Wahoo comment, and this legal blog, is that one of these creations was STOLEN, off the street by, as it turns out, three probably quite drunk UVA lads, and hauled back to C’ville. In the fullness of time their deed was discovered — think, where would you hide a 7 foot cowboy painted bird creature, or fish scale embellished creature (I don’t remember exactly which one they lifted). Naturally the community took this the theft very seriously — I don’t remember anyone laughing at it, although a few of us did speculate on the native intelligence of the UVA guys. But, as you might guess, the district court judge sitting in Christiansburg, after much berating, lots of apologies from the UVA guys and promises of eternal good behavior, sentenced them to community service I think.

    So don’t mess with hokie birds. Though I admit it is tempting.

  8. TD,
    Here’s my second comment today to you, Am not stalking, My last too.

    You seem to be some kind of leaker (not your bladder as whelps do of happiness or old dogs for other reasons).

    You leak sensitive information. Are you an insider with telephone contacts intact?
    Are your buddies howling that the Feds have arrived?

    Wait until one of them pats you on the head and make a break for it.
    Remember to zig when you should zag. Oh, I know, it’s already programmed.

  9. Bron, thanks for correcting my “Y”. I realized it about as soon as I sent! Here in Virginia Tech territory, the team has the equally puzzling nickname of “Hokies” of course. And no one really agrees on it’s provenance or meaning. But my wife and I get a kick out of saying — when others call something hokie — “hokies a good thing”, since the entire region seems oblivious to the contra meaning.

  10. Congress recently passed some measure that allows them to buy up to 999 shares of a stock without public disclosure. Anyone know what one share of Berkshire Hathaway goes for? So, Warren Buffet comes to town, they dine at the Willard, Congressman Issey gets prissy, calls his broker tissy and invests a million in Berkshire based on the Buffet edge at the Willard.

  11. dONs:

    they wouldnt take any, seeing as how they are Wahoo’s.

    “The most prominent and widely accepted nicknames of Virginia athletic teams are “Cavaliers”, “Wahoos”, and “Hoos”.

    Legend has it that Washington and Lee baseball fans dubbed the Virginia players “Wahoos” during the fiercely contested rivalry that existed between the two in-state schools in the 1890’s. No doubt this was a reference to the carp of the same name found in the waters of Virginia which is capable of retaining a prodigious amount of liquid to increase its size and fend off enemies. By 1940 “Wahoos” was in general use around the grounds (campus).”

  12. I didn’t mention the WH. Fill in the blanks. Plus Mr. Coward-in-chief never misses an opportunity to show he’s just another yahoo. (no offense to UVA grads intended)

  13. For starters, Congresscritters are hypocrites who think they can wave a wand an have the “public” forget the embarrassing stuff and be enchanted by the latest pearls that drop from their (critters) anointed mouths. They’re pretty much right, and the press usually ensures this.

    Second, the trick here is to label the GSA types as “civil servants” (even if a bunch of them are political appointees), and civil servants are the universally agreed upon whipping boy of all non-civil servants. And of all non government types as well.

    Third, of course, Congresscritters always relish being able to point the finger of blame somewhere else to distract from their dismal existence and performance.

  14. So how does one go about getting a paycheck in DC and doing no harm…

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