Archive for the ‘Good Enough For Government’ Category

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on December 31, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Contracts

January 17th will be the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s presidential farewell address in which he gave that famous warning about the “military-industrial complex”, that was really more like a caveat than a straight-up beware the Ides of March style foreboding to the American public. It has been portrayed in the more commonly viewed rehashing as the latter, to up the drama. But, really, the drama is either going to be sensed or not by the viewer based on what he/she knows about history, government, and our economy, all the way up to his/her present (the distinction between ‘to know’ and ‘to believe’ is infinitesimal here and not meant to be nailed down) and the attempt at manipulation through emotional cues may work for some things, but would ultimately fizzle out.

Here’s the whole address, plus coverage and commentary from some member of the media…

But if you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, here’s at least a very available example of the military-industrial complex stuff, with dramatics and all…

Now, the Department of Defense announced Thursday a new roll of contracts that are worth $183,451,599 collectively.

Its divisions (because the military is all about hierarchy and ‘divide and conquer’) unfold as such…

Navy

  1. The Boeing Co., St. Louis, MO-$69,098,221- as a “delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement…for the procurement of integrated logistics support”
  2. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., Fort Worth, TX-$22,021,303- as a “modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price…and services in support of H-1 helicopter upgrade program”
  3. The Boeing Co. (again), St. Louis, MO-$14,471,274– as a “modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract”
  4. Mikel, Inc., Fall River, MA-$9,068,671– as a “cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide engineering services to Team Submarine and the PMS 425 program offices”
  5. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, NY-$6,582,920– as a (if you were thrown by the contract-ise above, get ready for this) “modification to a delivery order placed against a previously issued basic ordering agreement…to exercise an option for engineering, technical and sustaining services in support of Taiwan Air Force E-2C aircraft”

Air Force

  1. Teradyne, Inc., North Reading, MA- $28,377,673– “for maintaining the B-1 automatic digital test systems and application development environmental systems” (So far only, $9,617,451 “has been obligated”)
  2. Integrated Data Services, Inc., El Segundo, CA-$10,436,911– “for the Comprehensive Cost and Requirements System, a financial program management software tool which is used by Air Force acquisition and sustainment organizations to accomplish planning and execution of program budgets” (So far, only $4,354,725 “has been obligated”)
  3. General Dynamics Advanced Information System, Minneapolis, MN-$7,832,414– to “provide a research and development program…to develop an open architecture for modular open systems architecture common back end for radio frequency…” The last ellipses covers the phrase “that conforms to interface standards” which implies that the Air Force already has the system referenced above, but that it does not meet “interface standards”; Only $230,000 “has been obligated”
  4. Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions, Santa Maria, CA-$7,189,632- “for four adaptable multi-based land/ocean stabilized antenna systems to replace aging antenna systems”; Only $6,657,099 “has been obligated”

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency– which is, taken from the “About” page on its website, “the research and development office for the U.S. Department of Defense. DARPA’s mission is to maintain technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security. We also create technological surprise for our adversaries.” which engenders more questions but foremost- What is “technological surprise” exactly?

  1.  BAE Systems National Security Solutions, Burlington, MA-$8,372,580- for a “cost plus fixed-fee contract”

It’s not exactly a decisive point to make, to say that you should pay at least cursory attention to military contracts and activity, since it is the largest sector of our government (and that’s to say by a lot: the most at $663.7 billion compared to the second most, which is $76.8 billion in Health and Human Services, according to the budget from 2010)…

…because it really might not be imperative for you to do the work to pay attention. It may even be overall detrimental to your life. And it might not matter one bit in the end if you had paid attention or not. Or rather, furthermore, tried to pay attention, because even if you do, it’s an engrossing complicated endeavor that necessitates certain knowledge that might never even be available to you. This stuff is really hard and there is no guarantee to anyone that he/she will attain the understanding set out for or even anything compensatory to it.

But on the other hand, it’s really no less a waste of time than reading a book, watching a movie or sports, dicking around, or doing a crossword puzzle, the merits of all of which could be argued.

-Matt

PS

The info for the contracts was taken from Veterans Today’s website, linked here  veterenstoday.com’s report on defense contracts where you can find more specifics, such as breakdowns of the locations where the work being paid for will be done.

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on December 24, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , ,

The Net-neutrality of Net Neutrality

On Tuesday, the officials at the FCC announced that they, in addition to deciding to finally let Eminem be, have approved a set of regulations on the distribution practices of broadband service companies, an issue that has been carried under the opaque, ideological umbrella dubbed “net neutrality”.

The temper and sheer volume of reports and blogs on this news, which not only generally highlight the fact that it was basically a split decision, 3-2, between Republicans and Democrats who make up the legislative, or ‘commission’ component of the commission.

Here’s a simple explicatory paragraph from the ‘About’ page of the FCC website that gives a helpful account of how the FCC is organized and how it functions…

“The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson. Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.

As the chief executive officer of the Commission, the Chairman delegates management and administrative responsibility to the Managing Director. The Commissioners supervise all FCC activities, delegating responsibilities to staff units and Bureaus.”

…it comprises 16 executive bureaus and offices.

All of the details were published and posted in a document on the internet on the 23rd, which you can peruse here. It’s outlined in eight sections (first 87 pages) with four appendices, that go like…

  1. Lofty opening summary.
  2. Argument for the statements made in the summary.
  3. The rules to be imposed.
  4. The legality of the rules.
  5. How the rules will be imposed.
  6. Dates, continuing structuring methods, and review.
  7. Description of the legal procedure.
  8. Official orders for the particular offices to adopt the new rules.

The appendices includes all the information behind the main text…but a few random specifics are lists of commenters, concluding, concurring, and dissenting statements by the 5 commissioners, who are (left to right in the picture) Mignon Clyburn, Michael J. Copps, Chairman Julius Genachowski, Robert McDowell, and Merdith A. Baker…

from FCC website

…which is where the 3-2 net neutrality of the regulations is represented. The ruling is getting complaints from both sides, and it is also written somewhere in the appendices that it is pretty much guaranteed to be challenged in the court system.

-Matt

Also see Good Enough For Government, 11/26/10.

PS

Congress passed a whole bunch of bills this week, including the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act on Wednesday.

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on December 17, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Mineral Dust

Joseph A. Main from wvgazette.com

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released a press release announcing an “increased focus” on regulating mining operations to ensure appropriate safety precautions against airborne contaminants, across the industry. Assistant Labor Secretary for Mine Safety and Health, Joseph A. Main, held a conference at MSHA headquarters in Arlington, VA, to explain what this means to the press. It’s not entirely clear whether or not anyone was actually there, since it seems like no-one reported has it other than whoever writes the press releases for MSHA.

Basically, the MSHA has decided to enforce the laws listed as sections 56.5002 and 57.5002 in Title 30 of the Federal Code of Regulations, which both state the same thing “Dust, gas, mist, and fume surveys shall be conducted as frequently
as necessary to determine the adequacy of control measures” (language which couldn’t be more noncommittal if it were written in the voice of some college kid stopped on the University mall and sucked into promising to sponsor a child in Bangalore) and has composed a letter to be sent businesses that might be affected by the change, to notify them and explain what they will be responsible for.

Also today, the Labor Department will be arguing for the authority to invoke injunctive relief on Freedom Mine No. 1, a mine in Pike County, KY owned by Massey Energy, at a federal court hearing in Covington, KY. According to NPR, this “injunctive relief option” is a 33 year old facet of federal mine safety law that has never been attempted for use until now. If the judge rules in favor of DOL, then it will go to trial on January 4th. in Pikeville, KY.

There are beads of news articles having to do with DOL and safety regulations strung around the internet lately, all seeming charged by the April 5th explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The MSHA is also supposedly planning to crack down on shuttle car safety in mines too. They say 16 miners have been killed and 800 injured by shuttle car accidents between January 2000 and September 2010. Mostly what we’re hearing on the news is preservation around the Republican and Democrats congressional infighting over the Bush tax cuts, Zadroga, the DREAM Act, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the Omnibus Bill slipped in there at one point, and for good reason. But apparently legislation called The Robert Byrd Mine Safety Act (H.R. 6495), meant to update mine safety law , was on the floor of the House last Wednesday, the 8th…But it was blocked by Republicans.

-Matt

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on December 10, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

  

 

Sourpuss Hary Reid from http://renovomedia.com/2010/09/

Marathon Runner

 This week’s blog is not about any legislative bill. It is not about the Republican filibuster of the Defense Authorization Bill because of the provision to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Nor the passage of the DREAM Act in the House Wednesday night. Nor the compromise Obama made with Republicans on a tax bill, that he announced at a press conference on Tuesday. Nor the reputed fall out in his own party since. Nor the GOP filibuster of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

What this blog is about H.R. 1704, good old House Resolution 1-7-O-4. The resolution “Honoring the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon.” That battle made timeless by fleets of manufactured elementary school text books distributed to sixth grade students across the country. The one famous not for the battle, but for what happened afterward, when the Greek herald Pheidippides ran from the city Marathon to Athens, 40km, 25 miles, to proclaim Greek victory over the Persians to a crowd of perplexed Athenians, many of whom probably weren’t even aware a war was going on or they thought it had ended already because they couldn’t remember any increase taxes for it. And then died on the spot, after uttering the phrase “we are victorious” in ironic glory, giving forever an arbitrary measure of distance for yuppies to run trying to catch up with a sense of accomplishment that seems to always be eluding them, like some other Greek tragic irony or something.

from http://www.lilano.de/catalog/brandenburg-gate-c-21_24.html

-Matt

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on December 3, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , ,

Pigford II, And All That Ballyhoo

It’s late and I’ve been delinquent, so I apologize in advance for how bare boned this post is. Although, for some, that may be more palatable, and so to them I’m not sure what to say except thanks, maybe?

Letter to Sen. Reid posted on http://southern4life.blogspot.com/

Congress has been carried on a wave of publicity that built and broke with the election and has been rolling since, with drama over the transfer of powerful positions in the House, the meeting between Republican and Democrat congressional leaders on Tuesday, the ensuing letter to Sen. Harry Reid on Wednesday signed by 42 Republican senators threatening to block all legislation through the end of the 111th congressional session if all the EGGTRRA 2001 and JGTRRA 2003 tax cuts are not extended, and, not to mention, Charlie Rangel’s very drawn out, very public self-destruction which will reach its finale ultimately with a Tony award.

However, there has been a lot happening in the domain run by the Department of Agriculture. The Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization Act on Tuesday (although a procedural error rooted in the Constitution may hold it up  [and that also took place in Congress, actually]). And on Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, gave a media conference call from the Broadcast Media & Technology Center, which is part of the USDA’s Office of Communications, in which he took questions from callers and discussed farm and meat industry production stats (which are apparently reflecting an upturn), as well as the Pigford II settlement, which amounts to $4.6 billion appropriated by Congress (passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday) that will be distributed (executed by the USDA) to black farmers who filed suit in 1997 citing discrimination in the department’s lending programs and Native Americans farmers who have land royalty claims dating back to 1887.

in the House

-Matt

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on November 26, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , ,

A Postponement (Friday. 11/26/10)

On Tuesday the FCC postponed its monthly meeting schedule for Dec. 15th to Dec. 21st.

This was widely depicted as a scandal by reporters and bloggers (source1, source2, and source3) on Wednesday and Thanksgiving, and the volume suggests that it may picked up briefly by one of the evening news shows tonight or sometime in December when it comes up again.

Julius Genachowski

The scuttlebutt is that industry execs. led by AT&T (who comes off as the villain overall), with support from 19 Republicans from the House of Reps. since as early as November 19 (source4 and source5), publicized the FCC’s apparent intentions to take up the issue of net neutrality during the meeting and discuss formats for regulation; and that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has been consulting with officials from AT&T, who (officials from which) was allegedly invited to the meeting as one of a group of “industry and public interest stakeholders”, for the past month (back to source3).

Net neutrality is a catch all term for the issue of regulating service providers on the internet. It’s more complicated than that and more complicated than can be handled in a blog, involving classification of broadband under the laws of the Communication Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which is under the FCC’s jurisdiction, and the possibility of new, special legislation in congress (source6 and source1…back to..).

-Matt

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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government,Matt on November 19, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , ,

This week’s Good Enough is a bit of a departure from the from the established rule of Good Enough For Government (if I have to refer to it again from now on, I will use the acronym GEFG and skip the bold type as well), which is to report on some action made by the federal government over the course of the week. I won’t go too far off to the side with reflexive commentary, but the ultimate goal is to become more and more accustomed to the people in power and terminology that denotes their actions through sustained, habitual forced attention.  Up until today, I think I’ve been pretty faithful to that rule, albeit some tentative ‘do these jeans make me look fat’ tweaking.

Well, this week, GEFG does not come out of any white columned building erected to represent the elegance of Greek democracy, but the NY Times (feel free to extract whatever juxtapositions you will).

On November 13th (which would technically count since it was Saturday, the day after last week’s post), the Times posted an article with a digital budget puzzle (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html) which lays out general areas of the budget that are being scrutinized in current discourse about the deficit among leaders (see the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s draft proposal [http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/CoChair_Draft.pdf], composed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, which has been prominent in the news lately).

The puzzle isn’t going to suddenly impart you with some magical comprehension of our nation’s finance but it may help with foundation-laying for working knowledge of the federal deficit, in the sense that when we can get farther through an article, panel discussion, or pundit’s diatribe before having to tap out.

The puzzle was accompanied by an article (or visa versa, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/weekinreview/14leonhardt.html?_r=1) titled Ok, You Fix the Budget, whose condescending veneer, what with a White House maze and squiggly-line graphic of spiral notebook-esque doodles ultimately connecting two points dubbed, uber-simplisticly, “deficit” and “surplus”, not to mention the overall impression left by a “deficit puzzle” in itself, is not lost on your writer. But at the risk of looping back inelegantly, I’ll say again, it might be a useful little tool to frame an approach.

Right now, the two rival ruling parties in congress are battling over separate issues linked by the deficit, which is rapidly becoming a political football. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act, which would extend the period that people can apply for federally funded unemployment benefits beyond the current 99 day limit, was voted down today in in the House of Reps. (although it won a majority of votes 258-154. Not competently sure why; just that for some reason it needed a 2/3 majority, or 290 votes) and to avoid getting swamped in equivocation, I’m just going to say it’s the Republican party that has been the most vocal in opposition to such legislation, but if that doesn’t sit well, then you amend it with a corrective comment. (It seems like they have been aggressive too, more so than in the past, and for about year, since Sen. Jim Bunning used the filibuster against a bill that eventually was passed and extended unemployment benefits in late February. This may just be an example of heightened sensitivity from the media in response to fervor around the economic woes throughout the country or it may just stand out more because of the severity of such a stance in a time when unemployment rate is beginning to mimic a divergent series in calculus.) In an article on OpenCongress.org, Donny Shaw, a government blogger, pointed out a contradiction in the rationale of the Republicans who, in crude terms, want to cut unemployment benefits while maintaining the tax cuts from the ‘Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001’ and the ‘Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003’ a.k.a ‘The Bush Tax Cuts’, ‘The Bush Tak Cuts on the Wealthiest 1%’, ‘The Bush Era Tax Cuts’, etc., while beating the deficit drum (http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/2108-Midweek-Unemployment-Extension-Update [although he called it irony rather than contradictory because of, as he anticipates, a possible compromise between the two, which isn’t really solid irony. Just two things that might cancel each other out.]).

-Matt

PS

Sorry about the naked links. WordPress’ hyperlink tool isn’t working today.