Patterico's Pontifications

2/13/2015

What Are The Perks Of Working For The Government? It Depends On Who You Ask

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:43 pm

[guest post by Dana]

While speaking at the Legislative Conference of the National Treasury Employees Union recently, Rep. Elijah Cumming (D-Md.) played to his audience when he told them the noble reason people choose to work for government:

“People do not seem to understand that so many people come to government knowing that they are not going to make the kind of money that they would make in the private sector but they come to government to feed their souls.*

Well, I’ll give him this: government employees are certainly “feeding” something:

Rep. Mark Meadows introduced legislation Wednesday that would prevent federal employees from viewing pornography on the taxpayer’s dime.

The Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act aptly shares its initials with the government agency that drew attention to the problem of staff watching pornographic videos at work, the Environmental Protection Agency. An inspector general report released last year revealed an EPA official was caught with thousands of downloaded pornographic files on his government computer and had watched up to six hours of porn a day while on the job. The employee wasn’t fired.

The North Carolina Republican acknowledged existing rules prohibiting pornography at most federal agencies but noted their inability to stop officials like the unnamed EPA employee from keeping his job after being caught red-handed with the explicit material.

*Strangely not mentioned by Cummings:

A December 2014 Cato Institute report on federal and private sector worker pay finds, “In 2013 federal civilian workers had an average wage of $81,076, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. By comparison, the average wage of the nation’s 107 million private-sector workers was $55,424.”

When benefits like health care and pensions are included, “federal worker compensation averaged $115,524, or 74 percent more than the private-sector average of $66,357.”

Facts: the buzzkill of political posturing.

–Dana

Oregon’s Kitzhaber Is Out

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:10 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Oregon’s beleaguered governor, John Kitzhaber, announced his resignation today amid an investigation of his fiancée’s use of her status as Oregon’s first lady to steer public green jobs funds to businesses who had employed her as a consultant. This comes a mere three months after Kitzhaber had been elected to a record fourth term and only one month removed from his inauguration.

Though personally admired by Powerline’s John Hinderaker, a former classmate schoolmate of the governor’s, Kitzhaber was a by-the-book lefty who had all the requisite economic and social views which allowed him to rise to the top in that uber-trendy state. The story of the potential conflict of interest broke just before the election, but did not stop Kitzhaber from winning by nearly six points (though handicappers had expected a much larger margin).

Before any conservatives start celebrating, know that Kitzhaber is being replaced by secretary of state Kate Brown, a stooge of public employee unions who has her own history of ethics problems. Brown will face a special election in November 2016, so the GOP has the opportunity to win back the corner office in Salem, though the Presidential election that year will no doubt help Democrats turn out their voter base.

[Note: Edited to reflect that Kitzhaber was a few years ahead of Hinderaker in school.]

– JVW

Tulsa University to Student: Because of Someone Else’s Facebook Post, You Are Suspended And Can Never Receive a Degree From Us in Your Chosen Major

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:15 am

I have no idea why anyone would ever go to the University of Tulsa when they are willing to do things like this to their students:

In a triple blow to free speech, due process, and freedom of the press, the University of Tulsa (TU) arbitrarily banned a student from campus until 2016 for Facebook posts that someone else admitted to writing and then attempted to intimidate student journalists who were trying to cover the story.

. . . .

TU suspended student George “Trey” Barnett last October for three Facebook posts published by his husband that criticized another student and two TU faculty members. None of the Facebook posts came from Barnett’s account; the statements were posted by his husband, who either tagged Barnett or posted them directly to Barnett’s Facebook page. Barnett’s husband later submitted a sworn affidavit attesting to his sole authorship of the posts. Nevertheless, shortly after TU professor Susan Barrett filed a complaint against Barnett arguing that Barnett could not “avoid responsibility” because someone else was responsible for the posts, TU Senior Vice Provost Winona Tanaka imposed eight restrictive interim measures against Barnett. The sanctions included suspending his participation in certain courses and activities and even barring him from speaking about certain individuals.

. . . .

Less than two months before Barnett was set to graduate, Tanaka not only suspended him until at least 2016 but also permanently banned him from receiving a degree in his major even upon his re-enrollment.

The student never received a hearing, despite policies requiring one.

Also, a campus newspaper which has criticized the university has been told it can be punished if “anything that the university deems to be confidential” is “published or shared, [that] could violate university policies.” The university refuses to elaborate as to what is meant by this vague phrase — which of course increases the in terrorem effect to the point where any criticism at all feels risky.

More on the case from Inside Higher Education.

FIRE is involved — which reminds me that it’s time to make a monetary contribution to FIRE. Hang on one sec . . .

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.01.54 AM

There. That was easy.

Thanks to Simon Jester for the tip.

The Omission of Jews: Glaring, Yet Not Surprising

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:32 am

[guest post by Dana]

Freshman Congressman Lee Zeldin, who happens to be Jewish, observed a glaring omission from the president’s proposed Islamic State war authorization:

Bipartisan criticism of President Barack Obama’s proposed authorization of force against ISIS mostly has to do with the use of U.S. troops and limits on the commander-in-chief. But one Republican lawmaker noticed something else that he calls quite troubling – omission of the word “Jews.”

Freshman Lee Zeldin is the only Republican Jewish member of Congress, and says it immediately leapt off the page that the President’s proposed resolution specifically singles out several ethnic groups threatened by ISIS: Iraqi Christians, Yezidis and Turkmens, but says nothing about Jews.

“I see an understanding, a recognition in the resolution with regards to ISIS attacks on Muslims, on Christians and others, and I didn’t see a reference to Jews,” Zeldin told CNN in an interview. “And one of the efforts I’ve been involved in is trying to raise awareness for the rising tide of anti-semitism.”

The New York Republican questioned whether the White House deliberately left out Jews as an ethnic group that ISIS has threatened.

“I think that when the White House is drafting a resolution for the authorization of force, that every single word, every phrase in there is done deliberately — it has to be,” said Zeldin.

In defense:

But the White House argues that its war request draft language borrows from the resolution passed in the then-Democratic led Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year.

And it clearly does. However, that was written prior to the Jewish Kosher deli attacks that took place right after the Hebdo massacre. One would think that in the name of accuracy and public relations, the White House would immediately jump to edit and correct the text to include Jews on the list of targets. This especially given last week’s clumsy, childish efforts by the White House and State Dept. to clean up the messy, egregious misspeak made by the president when he claimed the attack at the kosher deli was simply “random”.

If the White House isn’t careful, the public might actually start to believe this administration is not really a friend to the Jewish people.

–Dana

President Obama: “Can I Live?!”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:23 am

[guest post by Dana]

Obamacare, a selfie-stick, and the President of the United States.

Apparently this was made after learning about the beheading death of an American at the hands of ISIS.

–Dana


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