Patterico's Pontifications

3/22/2014

Hiltzik: Federal Government Takes a MEAT CLEAVER!!! to Social Security Administration Spending, by Increasing Rate of Spending By “Only” 11% Over Four Years

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:24 pm

Michael Hiltzik:

It’s no secret that if you really want to destroy a business, just hack away at its customer service. (Sears has been testing this axiom with considerable vigor.) The principle also holds true for government programs, which is why you should be very suspicious about the relentless budget-cutting at the Social Security Administration.

Mark Miller of Reuters brings us up to date on this underhanded campaign, which involves closing field offices by the score, satellite offices by the hundreds and service staff by the thousands. “Visitors to field offices waited more than 30 percent longer in fiscal 2013 than in 2012,” Miller reports. “Busy signals on the SSA’s toll-free customer assistance line (800-772-1213) doubled in fiscal 2013 over the previous year.”

As Nancy Altman, co-director of the advocacy group Strengthen Social Security, told Miller, this is part of “a raging fight by conservatives to get rid of the government’s footprint wherever possible.” And since Social Security has long been in their cross hairs, it’s unsurprising that a meat cleaver has been taken to its administrative budget. The budget request has been pared down in 14 of the last 16 years, Miller found.

Because as everybody knows, if a government agency does not get what it asked for, then the budget is being SLASHED!!!!!!!! — even if it’s being increased every year. If we learned nothing during the Era of Austerity, we learned that the dreaded Sequestration — a minor slowing of the rate of increase in government spending — was the slashiest of all budget slashings in all American history.

Thank the Lord that’s all over with.

So anyway, I decided to spend a few minutes looking into the actual numbers. Because, you’ll be shocked to learn, I didn’t quite trust Michael Hiltzik.

Here’s what I found.

Nota bene: I don’t get paid to do this research, so what you get is limited. It’s free ice cream; if you want to improve it, go ahead, but don’t complain while you’re doing it. In this post, we will focus on the “LAE” which is the “Limitation on Administrative Expenses.”

The President’s proposed 2011 budget contains the following passage:

Provides an 8 Percent Funding Increase to Provide Services Faster and Reduce Backlogs. This year, SSA will process almost 5 million retirement, survivor, and Medicare claims; 3.3 million disability claims; and over 326,000 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) aged claims. The Budget proposes $12.5 billion for SSA, an increase of $930 million, or (8 percent), above the 2010 enacted level of $11.6 billion.

From this we get these figures:

2010 enacted: $11.6 billion
2011 requested: $12.5 billion

Further down in the document there is a table of other figures:

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 9.43.13 PM

From this table I get these figures:

2009 actual: $10.3 billion
2010 estimated actual: $11.3 billion
2011 estimated actual: $12.2 billion

Now here is the fiscal year 2014 budget overview document. The request is made for $12.3 billion, an 8 percent increase over the previous year’s budget. (They apparently enjoy requesting 8 percent over the previous year. Nice work if you can get it.) So:

2014 request: $12.3 billion

The request contains this table:

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 9.31.58 PM

2012 actual: $11.5 billion
2013 estimate: $11.5 billion
2014 estimate: $11.1 billion

(That last figure adds a healthy $1.2 billion above that for “Program Integrity Proposed Mandatory Funding.”)

Here is another document with some figures to fill in some of the gaps. Quote: “The President’s FY2013 budget request for SSA administrative expenses, referred to as the limitation on administrative expenses (LAE) account, is $11.8 billion.” So:

2013 request: $11.8 billion

Quote: “For FY2012, the total SSA LAE appropriation was $11.4 billion, taking into account the 0.189% across-the-board rescission.” So:

2013 actual: $11.4 billion

Now I am putting together these all figures that I set aside above, in chronological order:

2009 actual: $10.3 billion
2010 enacted: $11.6 billion
2010 estimated actual: $11.3 billion
2011 requested: $12.5 billion
2011 estimated actual: $12.2 billion
2012 actual: $11.5 billion
2013 estimate: $11.5 billion
2013 request: $11.8 billion
2013 actual: $11.4 billion
2014 estimate: $11.1 billion
2014 request: $12.3 billion

We go from a 2009 actual expense of $10.3 billion to a 2013 actual expense of $11.4 billion. I calculate that as about an 11% increase. Raise your hand if you got an 11% raise between 2009 and 2013.

MEAT CLEAVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now we have a 2014 request of $12.3 billion — admittedly an 8 percent requested increase from 2013 (8 percent in one year!) — not to mention the little $1.2 billion for “Program Integrity Proposed Mandatory Funding.”

So we have an 11% increase in actual funding over four years, and a request for another 8 percent in the next year. And if we get a penny less than the amount requested? Well, then: the government is just using a MEAT CLEAVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

More claptrap from Michael Hiltzik.

102 Responses to “Hiltzik: Federal Government Takes a MEAT CLEAVER!!! to Social Security Administration Spending, by Increasing Rate of Spending By “Only” 11% Over Four Years”

  1. We live in an age where many of our senior citizens are at least somewhat web-savvy, so this fetish for continuing to operate 1-800 numbers and field offices is really nothing more than the continuation of government bureaucrat jobs. So naturally the government bureaucrat class and their media allies are going to do their darnedest to make every single one of these jobs sound like it is absolutely irreplaceable, but it just ain’t so.

    JVW (9946b6)

  2. – Can you lend me twenty dollars?
    – I’ve only got ten.
    – I’ll take it. Thanks, now we’re even.
    – What do you mean we’re even?
    – How much did I ask you for?
    – Twenty.
    – How much did you give me?
    – Ten.
    – How much do you owe me?
    – Ten.
    – How much do I owe you?
    – Ten.
    – Then we’re even.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. Abbot and Costello do it better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHxthrg9DH8 Maybe almost as good as Hiltzik.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. Hiltzik can split atoms with his mind!

    Just ask him.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. SS budget slashed! Pet food eating old people and starving chilluns hardest hit!!!!!

    Colonel Haiku (f4b9a2)

  6. I think it is safe to say that Michael Hiltzik is a liar.

    Michael Ejercito (906585)

  7. Reading Michael Hiltzik is as informative as listening to Katherine Sebelius.

    ropelight (6411a1)

  8. …Hiltzik is a liar.

    Comment by Michael Ejercito (906585) — 3/23/2014 @ 3:28 am

    Havent we had this discussion about the slimes before?

    Steve57 (ab7166)

  9. *Haven’t*

    Steve57 (ab7166)

  10. That doesn’t mean that it’s not true that:

    “Visitors to field offices waited more than 30 percent longer in fiscal 2013 than in 2012”

    Or that:

    “Busy signals on the SSA’s toll-free customer assistance line (800-772-1213) doubled in fiscal 2013 over the previous year.”

    It might mean that the decision to whatever it is that is causing that are Obama’s and not that of Congress, and this is where Hiltzik is misleading people.

    This is what Ronald Reagan or his people called the Washington Monument syndrome.

    http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/washington_monument_syndrome_washington_monument_strategy says that this actually happened in 1969, but the term seems to have originated in the mid-1970s.

    Here is more on it:

    http://gradyent.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-washington-monument-game.html

    “The Washington Monument Game refers to an apocryphal story wherein the president assembles his cabinet, tells them their spending plans are over budget, and orders them to review their budgets to establish priorities so they will know where to cut. The next day the cabinet reassembles and the Secretary of Interior says that after thorough review he’s identified the lowest priority; he proposes closing the Washington Monument. This tactic, of course, is designed to assure full funding of his budget, as what President wants to be responsible for closing the Washington Monument?”
    Also see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument_Syndrome

    (I think in the government shutdown it was literally the Washington Monument, or it would have been, had it not been closed already because of the earthquake, and maybe not fixing it.)

    Another idea: Maybe Obama had loaded up Social Security with other work.

    Sammy Finkelman (798a49)

  11. Oh, my. The self-aware life is one that should be lived.

    Simon Jester (1af503)

  12. There are people nuttier than Hiltzik — just check out the comments section to his article in the LA Times. If this is representative of Cal, then there is no hope to it. these people are sick.

    jb (030df7)

  13. Exactly Simon.

    SPQR (768505)

  14. Patterico, you’re a far more patient, tolerant person than I am. Whenever I see the byline of “Michael Hiltzik” attached to an article, I immediately, automatically bypass it.

    There’s the saying of “love me or hate me, but please don’t ignore me.”

    Hiltzik is so ideologically deranged or damaged, he should be ignored. To do otherwise is similar to staring at a bag lady standing out on the street hollering at the demons in her head. While such people may be a spectacle that’s hard to overlook, they do make for a rather rude spectator sport.

    Mark (cc48f8)

  15. This reminds of the mid to late 1990′s, when the Democrats wanted to increase funding for some program or another by 7 percent. Republicans wanted to increase funding by a mere 3 percent.

    So, of course, the media reported that Republicans were going to slash funding by 4 percent (i.e., 7-3).

    Whitey Nisson (7f2263)

  16. Nope, Mark. We gotta call ‘em out for their lies and fight ‘em every chance we get like Patterico does.

    elissa (ffcbfb)

  17. The Hiltzik piece refers back to a Reuters article by Mark Miller which cites works done by an organization called Strengthen Social Security. The Steering Committee of the organization is composed of the following:

    American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
    AFL-CIO
    Alliance for Retired Americans
    American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
    American Federation of Teachers
    Campaign for America’s Future
    Center for Community Change
    Center for Medicare Advocacy
    Democracy For America
    Economic Policy Institute
    Food Research Action Center
    Generations United
    Latinos for a Secure Retirement
    Medicare Rights Center
    MoveOn.org Political Action
    NAACP
    National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
    National Council of Women’s Organizations
    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
    National Nurses United
    National Organization for Women
    National Senior Citizens Law Center
    National Women’s Law Center
    OWL – The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
    Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
    Social Security Works
    Sojourners
    The Arc
    United Cerebral Palsy
    USAction
    Voices for America’s Children

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  18. How many of those orgs are funded partly or all by government grants? Have any of them or their officers ever been audited, or have any on that list been sabotaged and prevented from forming or fundraising by the IRS? Just asking.

    elissa (ffcbfb)

  19. Ah Hiltzik. It’s safe to say that almost anything written by him is a piece of crap. He’s a delusional moron. I can sometimes get to the second paragraph of one of his columns if I’m in a masochistic mood.

    But what does it say about the Los Angeles Times that Hiltzik manages to hang on? They’ve let any number of their columnists go, and yet Hiltzik and his work stays there, shining and stinking like a dead mackerel on the beach in the moonlight.

    Skeptical Voter (12e67d)

  20. We gotta call ‘em out for their lies and fight ‘em every chance we get

    I take solace in the fact that opinion polls indicate a large majority of the public has greater distrust of and lower respect for the media than in the past, and, at the same time, a significant percentage of Americans also now believes the government is a major threat to this society.

    Personally, I know I used to have more of a goody-two-shoes attitude about one’s honesty regarding matters involving the IRS. No longer. However, I’ve seen another poll from not too long ago that indicates a substantial number of people still frown upon cheating on one’s taxes. Okay, suckers, bend over and take that whip like a man.

    Mark (cc48f8)

  21. Well, looking on the bright side, in a follow-up to last week’s awful left-wing excuse for journalism, the Daily Breeze has placed a correction in both the online version of the silly Tim Rutten column and in today’s print edition which runs his latest stupid column. They also ran my letter in Thursday’s paper. Kudos to the Breeze for handling this in the proper manner. The Dog Trainer could learn something from their smaller neighbor.

    JVW (9946b6)

  22. Skeptical Voter–it’s good that you look away from his articles after reading a few paragraphs of bilge. But what of all the other LA Times readers who do not know he writes mostly bilge, and read his columns as truth and enlightenment? And what of others across the country who read his articles in companion newspapers, and link his columns to their facebook pages and blogs?

    You’re right. The LA Times needs to get rid of him. We need to help them along that path.

    elissa (ffcbfb)

  23. Comment by Skeptical Voter (12e67d) — 3/23/2014 @ 8:58 am

    Hiltzik. It’s safe to say that almost anything written by him is a piece of crxx. He’s a delusional moron.

    This doesn’t look like any exception, but you have to appraise exactly what’s wrong with it.

    Hiltzik attacks things that clearly the Obama Administration did, but blames conservative ideologues!

    It’s not that these things didn’t happen – it’s that this is not a conspiracy by conservative haters of Social Security.

    Sammy Finkelman (798a49)

  24. This group Strengthen Social Security sems to be Hitzik’s source.

    Although everything they cite points to the Obama Administration, they – or he – wants to blame mysterious conservative ideologues for it.

    It looks like Hiltzik or others can mention things Obama and nobody else did, but just think all this will go over most people’s heads, and they attribute it to nefarious conservatives.

    Maybe this is a way to lobby, so that, maybe the Obama Administration can back down, and say, oops, we didn’t realize that conservative moles had burrowed into and infiltrated Social Security, or tricked his Administration into appointing radical conservatives or some kind of a deal. Or at least not take that as an attack on his Administration.

    They don’t seem to say that Obama had appointed radical conservatives or negotiated a deal with some Republican conservatives. which would at least have the virtue of being a little bit more logical, although not true.

    This group Strengthen Social Security cites customer service, maybe that’s dues paying union jobs, but Hiltzik mainly focuses on the fact that Social Security has stopped mailing that New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was responsible for. They stopped in 2011.

    What was especially fatuous was the agency’s assertion that the annual statements, which showed up in people’s mailboxes with such regularity you could almost set your watch (or at least your calendar) by them, could easily be replaced by an online service anyone could access by computer.

    Betchu didn’t know that Obama had appointed radical conservatives to top jobs in Social Security!

    Hiltzik tries to go ahead and say that many people don’t have access to a computer
    (which isn’t really a problem) or don’t feel comfortable going online for private, personal information (better) – BTW, if that’s a problem why is it there then not a problem with the very idea of covered Californoa or healthcare.gov?

    But the real problem with the online substitute is that many people probably don’t know about that, and it requires initiative.

    I suspect this was a decision by Presidnet Obama because he wants to cut Social Security benefits, (yes he does – he’s got that in mind as part of abidget deal, although that part will be attributed to Republicans) so what they report will turn out to be wrong.

    Obama would prefer that nobody know what their anticipated Social Security benefits would be.

    At least those people who don’t take the trouble to or know how to find out.

    Sammy Finkelman (798a49)

  25. The lunacy of “lefties” like Hiltzik often has the law of unintended consequences. So many of his ilk are incubating the situation described below, and then, when it comes around and bites them squarely on the butt, they shrug, look around furtively, pack their bags and then create a similar mess in some other part of a world that they want to be as humane, beautiful, tolerant and compassionate as possible.

    dailymail.co.uk, March 23, 2014:

    Top lawyers have written guidelines for British solicitors on drafting ‘sharia-compliant’ wills which can deny women an equal share of their inheritance and entirely exclude non-believers, it was revealed today. The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, has written a guide on Sharia succession rules that will be used in British courts. It will mean that children born outside of marriage and adopted children could also be denied their fair share.

    ‘The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death.’

    Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, an organisation that campaigns for strict separation of the state from religious institutions and equality of religion before the law, says the move is a backwards step that undermines British justice.

    ‘Instead of running scared at any mention of sharia, politicians of all parties should face these issues square on and insist on the primacy of democratically-determined human rights-compliant law. Laws determined by Parliament should prevail over centuries-old theocratic laws. We should have One Law for All, not allowing any law to operate which disadvantages any sections of the community.’

    …Baroness Cox, who campaigns against religious discrimination against women, said the guidance was a worrying development.

    There are now estimated to be no fewer than 85 Sharia courts across the country — from London and Manchester to Bradford and Nuneaton. They operate mainly from mosques, settling financial and family disputes according to religious principles.’

    Mark (cc48f8)

  26. Odd the LA Times does not cover its backyard.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2014/cjc0314bb.html

    April 15th is coming and it won’t be pretty.

    gary gulrud (384f70)

  27. Sammah – the point is not “who did it”. The point is that the evil slashing of the SSA have never happened, outside these leftist “advocacy” groups imaginations.

    JD (534747)

  28. Ardilla gigante, giant squirrel.

    narciso (3fec35)

  29. Cluebat concussion.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  30. The esteemed Mr Hiltzik wrote:

    It’s no secret that if you really want to destroy a business, just hack away at its customer service. (Sears has been testing this axiom with considerable vigor.) The principle also holds true for government programs, which is why you should be very suspicious about the relentless budget-cutting at the Social Security Administration.

    It seems that Mr Hiltzik has forgotten the difference between Sears and Social Security: Sears wants you to buy stuff from them, stuff that you can get elsewhere, or choose not to buy at all, while the Social Security Administration exists to hand out money and benefits; the people who are eligible for said money and benefits can’t go elsewhere to get them.

    But, at least Social Security recipients are (mostly) retired people. I’d like to see such cuts, and more, at the regular welfare offices.

    The businessman Dana (af9ec3)

  31. 27. Comment by JD (534747) — 3/23/2014 @ 10:49 am

    Sammah – the point is not “who did it”. The point is that the evil slashing of the SSA have never happened, outside these leftist “advocacy” groups imaginations.

    No, the evil slashing did happen.

    Social Security stopped mailing out its annual statements to everyone who was making contributions. Is that true or not true?

    And what Strengthen Social Security, told Miller of Reuters about tthe closing of local field and satellite offices, and laying off thousands of service staff probably did happen (or else why would the unions be complaining about this?)

    And it’s probably true that busy signals on the SSA’s toll-free customer assistance line (800-772-1213) doubled from Fiscal 2012 (Oct 2011-Sept 2012) to fiscal 2013 (Oct. 2012-Sept 2013)

    Although I’d like to see that verified.

    The issue is indeed who did it and why. It just wasn’t for the absurd reasons Hiltzik suggests.

    Sammy Finkelman (798a49)

  32. “Because as everybody knows, if a government agency does not get what it asked for, then the budget is being SLASHED!”

    Not true, if the agency is the Department of Defense.

    Lorem Ipsum (cee048)

  33. So, who is this Republican President that is drastically curtailing the service/out-reach of the Social Security Administration?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  34. Comment by jb (030df7) — 3/23/2014 @ 7:33 am

    You should read the comments in the WaPo to almost anything written by Jennifer Rubin.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  35. 33. Comment by askeptic (2bb434) — 3/23/2014 @ 12:34 pm

    So, who is this Republican President that is drastically curtailing the service/out-reach of the Social Security Administration?

    Barack Obama. But because he is a Democrat, the unions can’t blame him for all the layoffs.

    Sammy Finkelman (798a49)

  36. While we are harassing on the ridiculousness of the Dog Trainer: I saw the print version earlier today and the headline is something along the lines of “Obama Faces Key European Test.” Uh-huh, right. The reality is that Obama has already failed that test, and now can only help mitigate the damage as much as possible (hint: browbeat our allies to invite what’s left of the Ukraine into the EU and NATO immediately). But of course the Obama Fan Club still is searching for the narrative where he snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.

    JVW (9946b6)

  37. No, the evil slashing did happen.

    Not on any planet is this true, Sammah.

    JD (5c1832)

  38. The record time aloft for a P-3 is over 21 hours, if anyone cares.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  39. Patrick, have you bothered to send this to the LAT Readers’ Rep? Not that it will help.

    Mitch (28fdd7)

  40. SF, 33 was a rhetorical question.

    Steve, that 21 hours aloft, was that with, or without, aerial refueling?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  41. this a more honest assessment of the predicament;

    http://www.interpretermag.com/ukraine-liveblog-day-34-is-chance-of-war-growing/

    narciso (3fec35)

  42. how many nasty geriatric boomers do you have to keep locked in your basement to even make a halfway respectable income from this social security dealio anyway?

    I’m guessing at least 4

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  43. Obama actually does want to cut Social Security. He put it in his budgets. He took it out this year. His proposal was means testing. (Medicare, too)

    Which means the Social Security reports mandated by Senator Moynihan’s law would not be accurate.

    He wanted to characterize it, though, as a Republican idea – a concession he made to the Republicans to get a budget deal.

    Sammy Finkelman (798a49)

  44. “Obama actually does want to cut Social Security.”

    Sammy – Has he ever said that publicly or is that more of your mind reading?

    He has occasionally uttered the heretical words “entitlement reform” but never actually taken a step in that direction.

    Obama has ignored his mandatory reporting obligation under Social Security to produce reports responding to the insolvency concerns raised by the trustees of the trustee of both the regular and the disability income fund since taking office.

    Is there any evidence the metrics cited by Hiltik are metrics the SSA believes are importance for measuring its own performance? Well over 40% of SSA claims are now processed electronically, lessening the need for personal contact. The SSA operates out of numerous offices run by states, providing over 1,500 points of personal contact nationwide, making the closure stats cited in Hiltzik’s piece deliberately misleading. Basically, it was an ill-informed, agenda driven hit piece, like most of his writing.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  45. Nota bene: I don’t get paid to do this research

    Hiltzik gets paid to not do it.

    Teflon Dad (53f3f7)

  46. ==how many nasty geriatric boomers do you have to keep locked in your basement to even make a halfway respectable income from this social security dealio anyway? I’m guessing at least 4
    Comment by happyfeet (8ce051) — 3/23/2014 @ 5:44 pm==

    You do not even have a basement, do you feets? So I’m afraid for you that dream is dead.

    elissa (b0299e)

  47. Dear World,

    March is the month when I watch college basketball.

    Signed,

    Barack

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  48. 46. …You do not even have a basement, do you feets? So I’m afraid for you that dream is dead.

    Comment by elissa (b0299e) — 3/24/2014 @ 12:40 pm

    You called it. I don’t have a basement. When the weather report says a Tornado is coming I have to go hide in the closet under the stairs. Which all the experts tell me is the next best thing to a basement, what with no windows and all.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  49. I’m thinking of getting a storm shelter, thoug.

    http://tornadotough.com/home2/

    http://stormdorms.com/

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  50. Gee that’s interesting info, Steve57.

    elissa (b0299e)

  51. You know what they are cutting though;

    http://freebeacon.com/obama-to-kill-tomahawk-hellfire-missile-programs/

    narciso (3fec35)

  52. You don’t think so, elissa? I found lots of people don’t even know above ground storm shelters even existed. I’m not trying to be a jerk.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  53. Whatevs, Steve. I was obviously just razzing feets about his silly (semi on-topic) comment about keeping boomers in his basement to collect their SS checks– and somehow you make it about you, and turned it into a tornado safety tutorial because, hey, you do not happen to have a basement, either. Again, whatevs.

    elissa (b0299e)

  54. Just thought I’d use the opportunity to throw the information out there. No offense.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  55. “Whatevs, Steve. I was obviously just razzing feets about his silly (semi on-topic) comment about keeping boomers in his basement to collect their SS checks– and somehow you make it about you, and turned it into a tornado safety tutorial because, hey, you do not happen to have a basement, either. Again, whatevs.”

    elissa – I was waiting for the navy to show up again or sandrails, or whatevs.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  56. Many of the times that mister happyfeet announces it’s time for him to go get tacos—well, that’s just him buying dinner for the boomers down in his basement.
    One time he announced that Amazon just shipped his season 3 of “The Golden Girls,” but I guess none of us thought much about it at the time.
    I just thought, “Hey, so mister happy has a thang for Bea Arthur.”

    If I were to go the cougar actress route, I suppose I’m more of a Susan Lucci or Jane Seymour kind of guy.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  57. ES – Sometimes Mr. Feets goes to buy pillow. He used to buy cupcakes, but now not so much.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  58. daley, elissa you clearly have taken a dislike to me.

    But all I meant was to point out that there are above ground storm shelters.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  59. “daley, elissa you clearly have taken a dislike to me.”

    Steve57 – I was just putting my observations out there. No need to be so paranoid.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  60. Having a sense of humor is a beautiful way to get through life. Sometimes it’s the only saving grace.

    Trust me, I took no offense, Steve57. I just thought your segue was a little strange. Relax. It really is not a big deal.

    elissa (b0299e)

  61. In fact, being trapped with Susan Lucci or Jane Seymour in a storm shelter sounds interesting.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  62. Speaking of storm shelters, I believe our friend Gary Gulrud has built himself an underground bunker. I think he plans to live in it if Karl Rove becomes the GOP nominee in 2016.

    I wonder if he has it wired for DirecTv.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  63. I was just putting information out there about storm shelters. Since somebody brought up basements. How does that make me paranoid?

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  64. R.I.P. Oderus Urungus

    . . . so sad.

    Icy (fd3344)

  65. 60. Having a sense of humor is a beautiful way to get through life. Sometimes it’s the only saving grace.

    Trust me, I took no offense, Steve57. I just thought your segue was a little strange. Relax. It really is not a big deal.

    Comment by elissa (b0299e) — 3/24/2014 @ 2:11 pm

    I have a sense of humor. It’s gotten me this far. daley likes to call me Admiral. Well, our motto in AOCS was “No matter what happens, try not to laugh.”

    We laughed anyway. It was one of those ironic things.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  66. “How does that make me paranoid?”

    Steve57 – I was referring to your speculation over whether people disliked you because of your habit of talking about yourself so frequently.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  67. A young teenager in Kansas at the turn of the 20th century named Dorothy couldn’t get the storm doors to open one time, and so she ended up getting knocked out, and then had a nightmare dream which included witches, flying monkeys, and screaming trees.
    There was also a man behind a curtain, but that was just actor Frank Morgan.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  68. If I talk about myself so much, daley, it’s only because I’m my favorite target of humor.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  69. Do you want to know how many times I got my @$$ kicked in the boxing ring?

    I’m nothing to brag about.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  70. I did better at Rugby.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  71. “Well, our motto in AOCS was ‘No matter what happens, try not to laugh.’

    We laughed anyway. It was one of those ironic things.”

    Comment by Steve57 (4507bb) — 3/24/2014 @ 2:26 pm

    This reminds me of a story that Jack Benny told to Dick Cavett: (to the best of my bad memory)

    DC: But who makes you laugh?

    JB: Who makes me laugh?

    DC: Yes.

    JB: George Burns – that guy’s got my buttons. One time we were at a funeral for a fallen comrade and just before I was due to speak, he leans over to me as says “Wouldn’t it be terrible if you were start laughing right now”? And I just wanted to laugh so hard – I had to hold it back.

    felipe (6100bc)

  72. Jack Benny died at a young age—he was only 39.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  73. Yes, when Jack Benny died, the life insurance company went with him. That’s the kind of life insurance he had.

    His own words were “When I go, they go”.

    felipe (6100bc)

  74. Do you want to know how many times I got my @$$ kicked in the boxing ring?

    That’s a flat lie. Kicking asses is not allowed in the boxing ring before April 15, 2015.

    Jesse Lee (dbc370)

  75. It seems that Jack Benny lived until his 70s, but alas, he was only 39.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  76. LOL, ES, now tell me about Santy Claus.

    felipe (6100bc)

  77. Does anyone in LACo have a basement?
    I thought it was against code?

    askeptic (2bb434)

  78. No, really. I got my @$$ kicked. I’m more of a wrestler.

    I tried to tell the DIs that but they weren’t in a listening mood.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  79. Comment by Jesse Lee (dbc370) — 3/24/2014 @ 2:58 pm

    I cast my vote for Jesse as today’s thread winner.

    felipe (6100bc)

  80. Ok, but why would I make up lies about getting my @$$ kicked?

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  81. BTW, O/T and all that, but am I the only one getting a “400 Bad Request” error on my desktop when I try to go to Insty?
    This has been happening on and off since breakfast.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  82. felipe owns a trophy shop. That’s why he’s always naming the “thread winner.”

    By the way, felipe, I still have my plaque with my name engraved for my “thread winner” about Obama a few months ago.
    My mother is so proud of me—the plaque sits above her mantel !

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  83. 80.Ok, but why would I make up lies about getting my @$$ kicked?

    Comment by Steve57 (4507bb) — 3/24/2014 @ 3:10 pm

    I would do it to play the victim card, but that’s just me!

    True story:

    My best friend and I were drunk one (looong ago) night and he decides that we need to fight in order to establish who is the better fighter. Well, I had studied Kung Fu and decide to apply some deterrence by way of demonstration. So I kicked the cigar out of his hand before he could react but I lost my footing in the process and fell down. He laughed and declared that he had just kicked my arse. These things just sort themselves, y’know?

    felipe (6100bc)

  84. Comment by Elephant Stone (6a6f37) — 3/24/2014 @ 3:15 pm

    LOL! I tried to make it “sound” fair by casting a “vote”, but I am busted!

    felipe (6100bc)

  85. .83. ..I would do it to play the victim card, but that’s just me!…

    Comment by felipe (6100bc) — 3/24/2014 @ 3:20 pm

    I’m not trying to play a card. I was a decent wrestler and rugby player. Just not a good boxer.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  86. “I’m not trying to play a card”.

    I know you are not, Steve. I don’t see you doing something like that. Like me, you ( and others on this blog) type what you type, and let the chips fall where they may because we can take it.

    From time to time, though, I will rib you a little and try to duck when you hit back. XD

    felipe (6100bc)

  87. I was riffing on the real Jesse Lee, Steve. The White House buttboy who said that about Drudge paying his Obamacare tax. Combined with kicking being a foul in boxing. (Yes, I know it’s also a figure of speech.)

    Jesse Lee a/k/a nk (dbc370)

  88. I’d like to hit back, felipe. Did I mention I am a lousy boxer?

    I can take a beating, though. I proved that.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  89. Hey, nk, elephant stone is jealous of your thread winning comment.

    felipe (6100bc)

  90. Maybe we can make a running gag out of your lousy hitting. But we can’t say you “hit like a girl” because Elissa, Dana, and DRJ hit so hard.

    felipe (6100bc)

  91. he was teh King of China
    a patron of the prize-ring
    and every time his man’s on top
    you could see his boxers rising

    Colonel Haiku (4a5fff)

  92. 90. Maybe we can make a running gag out of your lousy hitting. But we can’t say you “hit like a girl” because Elissa, Dana, and DRJ hit so hard.

    Comment by felipe (6100bc) — 3/24/2014 @ 6:26 pm

    Grappling just came more naturally to me. But thanks for your kindness.

    In gratitude I offer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7pRfix_sNg

    US Navy Ship loses anchor and chain

    I can assure you, it wasn’t funny at the time. But I can’t help but laugh when the dude talks abut getting a salvage crew out to recover what they lost.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  93. Man, that was an incredible video. I had to watch it closely to understand what was going on. Also, the comments helped me understand how it happened. Thanks. I wonder what the replacement cost is on a 110+ ton of chain and anchor?

    felipe (6100bc)

  94. Fascinating, Steve57. Like felipe, it also took me some time to understand what was happening but it was worth the time.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  95. 180+ fathoms ! Over 1000 feet of chain …

    So how ummmm ‘interesting’ would the Captain’s Mast (or whatever it is called over here) be ?

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  96. I had to look up Captain’s Mast. The crew by tradition does not ordinarily talk to the captain?

    nk (dbc370)

  97. nk – as I understand it, enlisted men try not to be noticed by the Captain/Commander/Squadron Leader …

    Sorta like the peons try not to be noticed by the King … it doesn’t usually go well … defenestration is seldom good for the one who is defenestrated …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  98. Steve57,

    Given your background in the Navy, this Free Beacon article may interest you:

    Obama to Kill Tomahawk, Hellfire Missile Programs

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  99. You have to analyze stories like this the Illinois way, DRJ. Did Raytheon contribute in the correct proportions to Republicans and Democrats in the last election cycle? Can it do better this year? Did Axelrod’s brother-in-law get an exclusive import contract for the Israeli Popeye missile? Things like that.

    nk (dbc370)

  100. DRJ, it’s just another data point that confirms my assertion that the Obama regime isn’t pivoting to Asia. And never intended to.

    I can’t believe I’m reading things like this.

    A senior Pentagon official let slip this week that the administration’s commitment to the pivot to Asia is under review because of large-scale defense spending cuts.

    “Right now, the pivot is being looked at again because, candidly, it can’t happen,” Katrina McFarland, assistant defense secretary for acquisition, said at a defense conference Tuesday.

    The comments appeared to undermine one of the Obama administration’s most important foreign and defense policies: the pivot, or rebalance, to the Asia-Pacific region after the military withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/5/inside-the-ring-pentagon-reevaluating-obamas-pivot/#ixzz2wzmVRVxE
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

    I mean, hello! It was obvious from the Navy’s shipbuilding plan and the 2013 defense budget Obama put out that it was never going to happen.

    I can’t understand how theoretically smart people haven’t figured out Obama has been lying all along. I found this part of your article to be wryly amusing.

    “It doesn’t make sense,” said Seth Cropsey, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower. “This really moves the U.S. away from a position of influence and military dominance.”

    Cropsey said that if someone were trying to “reduce the U.S. ability to shape events” in the world, “they couldn’t find a better way than depriving the U.S. fleet of Tomahawks. It’s breathtaking.”

    You don’t say, Seth. If someone were trying to reduce the US ability to shape events. If that was what’s happening.

    Like it’s inconceivable that’s exactly what’s happening.

    I don’t see how people can just now have it start dawning on them six years into the Obama presidency that what’s happening is happening on purpose.

    Oh, by the way, welcome to your new, soon-to-be-Sharia-compliant internet.

    http://nypost.com/2011/12/17/a-perverse-process/

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday ended the “Istanbul Process,” a three-day, closed-door international conference hosted by the State Department on measures to combat religious “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization.”

    The conference was intended to “implement” last March’s UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, on the same subject. Notwithstanding Clinton’s final speech defending freedoms of religion and speech, the gathering was folly.

    Resolution 16/18 was adopted in the place of one that endorsed the dangerous idea that “defamation of religion” should be punished criminally worldwide. That call for a universal blasphemy law had been pushed relentlessly for 12 years by the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an essentially religious body chartered to “combat defamation of Islam.” It issues fatwas and other directives to punish public expression of apostasy from Islam and “Islamophobia.”

    … By standing “united” (as the OIC head put it in a Turkish Daily op-ed) with the OIC on these issues, America appears to validate the OIC agenda, thus demoralizing the legions of women’s rights and human-rights advocates, bloggers, journalists, minorities, converts, reformers and others in OIC states who look to the United States for support against oppression.

    * It raises expectations that America can and will regulate speech on behalf of Islam, as has happened in Western Europe, Canada and Australia.

    Hey, you know what? It’s almost as if someone doesn’t like the Constitution. It’s old and hard to understand. But now we have these nice shiny new international agreements to go by instead.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2011/06/07/u-n-agreement-should-have-all-gun-owners-up-in-arms/

    It’s almost as if somebody meant it when he was talking about fundamentally transforming America. If these defense experts who are now shocked to discover Obama is cancelling weapons programs and that we aren’t going to be pivoting to anything except to a greatly reduced military had been listening him, none of this would be a surprise.

    But I bet there are still people who believe Obama when he talks about pivoting to jobs, too. The past few years have been very interesting. Eye opening. I knew there were lots of gullible fools, but I didn’t believe there were this many. Was I wrong.

    Steve57 (4507bb)

  101. Steve, you might have underestimated the number of gullible fools, but you ain’t wrong where it counts.

    ropelight (db3103)

  102. That’s not much consolation, ropelight.

    The thing is, Obama wasn’t hard to figure out. I don’t understand how so many people could have been taken in by him.

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-citizen-of-the-world-presidency-1/

    In 2007, early in the improbable presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, the young first-term senator began a series of foreign-policy speeches that seemed too general to provide a guide to what he might do if elected. Aside from making it clear he was not George W. Bush and would get out of Iraq, the rest read like liberal boilerplate: “We have seen the consequences of a foreign policy based on a flawed ideology….The conventional thinking today is just as entrenched as it was in 2002….This is the conventional thinking that has turned against the war, but not against the habits that got us into the war in the first place.” In 2008, he visited Berlin and told an enraptured crowd: “Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen—a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world…the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together.”

    In Obama’s fifth year as president, it is increasingly clear these vague phrases were not mere rhetoric. They did, in fact, accurately reflect Obama’s thinking about America’s role in the world and foreshadow the goals of the foreign policy he has been implementing and will be pursuing for three more years. Obama’s foreign policy is strangely self-centered, focused on himself and the United States rather than on the conduct and needs of the nations the United States allies with, engages with, or must confront. It is a foreign policy structured not to influence events in Russia or China or Africa or the Middle East but to serve as a bulwark “against the habits” of American activism and global leadership. It was his purpose to change those habits, and to inculcate new habits—ones in which, in every matter of foreign policy except for the pursuit of al-Qaeda, the United States restrains itself…

    I recall candidate Obama talking about what he planned to do about the economy. And he noted that no nation ever maintained it’s military power without having a powerful economy. Words to that effect.

    Some people I knew thought Obama meant he was going to get the economy rolling so we could maintain our military. I’d ask them, “Are you nuts? He’s going to try and permanently cripple the economy.” Because of course a powerful military enables us to act in accordance with our old “habits.” If we can’t afford much of a military, then we have to develop new “habits.”

    Steve57 (4507bb)


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