Federal Times Blogs
The Onion today published an amusing story with the headline “Hungover Energy Secretary Wakes Up Next To Solar Panel.” It contains an incriminating photo of a perplexed Steven Chu in bed wearing a tank-top, and this classic quote: “This is bad. I really need to stop doing this. I’ve got to get this thing out of here before my wife gets home.”
But what is even better than the story is this: Chu actually responded on his official Facebook page, and denied the alleged affair with a solar panel was behind his decision to step down from the Energy Department. Said Chu:
I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.
Ahem. “Not going to confirm or deny the charges”? We can read between the lines, Mr. Secretary. (Hat tip to Mike Sager for giving me a heads up on this one.)
The Onion yesterday published an eight-point plan to avert the rapidly-approaching fiscal cliff, and its editors are nothing if not confident. The editorial begins by declaring: “Those who reject any part of this plan are not only ignorant, but are also guilty of actively trying to undermine the nation and its government.”
Their cuts would be brutal … and unique. The Onion proposes abolishing several agencies (such as the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency), New Mexico, dams, and elk. Schools would only teach corn farming, nuclear weaponry and print journalism. All foreign aid would be cut, except to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And fishing licenses would cost $140,000.
Since my wife is from Iowa, I was somewhat disturbed to see The Onion propose targeting Iowa and Minnesota teenagers as a way to eliminate 8 percent of the nation’s population. (They don’t explain how this would be accomplished, but I suspect it would involve some sort of Hunger Games.) But I don’t want to be accused of actively trying to undermine the United States, so I guess I have to support their whole plan.
But at least they’re not proposing more cuts to federal pay and benefits. So that’s something, at least.
According to a fact sheet issued by the White House, the proposed measures include slashing farm subsidies, cutting federal pension insurance, tricking Fort Knox security personnel into thinking that the president and five others are ordinary elevator repairmen, capping Medicaid’s outlays on equipment, shaping C4 charges to blast 21-inch-thick vault doors off their hinges, and curbing discretionary spending.
[...] “Reining in the runaway growth of entitlement programs and the defense budget will not be easy,” Obama said. “And neither will silently ferrying 5,000 tons of bullion through a network of ventilation ducts. But just trust me on this; I’ve got the blueprints and I think I found a way out through a drainage pipe.”
Other ideas under consideration: Trimming the federal workforce, raising the retirement age, and “taking out a $4 trillion fire insurance policy on the Pentagon and burning it to the ground.”
Happy Friday! To ease you into your Labor Day weekend, enjoy a few headlines from The Onion, such as “Pentagon Ripped Off By Shady Weapons Dealer:”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted losing $192 million in defense funds Tuesday when he unwittingly purchased a large number of bogus BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles from a disreputable arms dealer known only as “Steve.” “When I got the crate open at the office, it turned out the ‘missiles’ were nothing more than old sewer pipes filled with newspapers and capped with construction cones, all painted to look legit,” Gates said.
That’s probably the Onion’s best weapons acquisition story since last year’s “Obama Axes Pentagon Plan To Build Billion Dollar Tank In Shape of Dragon.”
And while we’re at it, their gloriously insane send-ups of Joe Biden continue in “Biden To Cool His Heels in Mexico For A While” (link contains profanity):
“I need to steer clear of D.C. until some **** blows over,” said Biden, sitting in the far corner of a Mexican cantina with his back to the wall and taking a long swig from a bottle of Tecate Light. “It’s nothing I can’t handle, but let’s just say there was a little misunderstanding. Somebody didn’t get something they were supposed to get.”
“And somebody else got a whole lot more than they bargained for,” he added.
[...] On Tuesday, the Senate received a postcard of topless women wearing green, red, and white bikini bottoms from Biden. A personal message apologized for his extended absence and provided contact information and instructions to call his buddy Blaze if they needed a tiebreaking vote.
Have a great weekend! FedLine will be back on Tuesday.
The Onion “reports” that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has come up with the ultimate way to test our national security vulnerabilities: Releasing the five most dangerous prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, into the United States to see whether we can catch them before they strike.
“If the Empire State Building or Jefferson Memorial blows up, for example, then we’ll know we have to make some improvements,” she added. “It’s all part of the process.”
[...] DHS also confirmed that the terrorists, who vowed nothing would stop them from their ultimate goal of destroying all of America, received a $100 Home Depot gift card for incidentals and supplies.
[...] Homeland Security officials said the drill will provide vital information on exactly how easily a hypothetical group of terrorists could exploit vastly underprotected and insufficiently funded areas such as Yosemite National Park, the Hoover Dam, most of the North American power grid, or virtually any U.S. port.
“Some of them will certainly attempt to infiltrate some of our more vulnerable nuclear power plants in Texas or North Carolina, but the odds of them succeeding are pretty low, if you think about it,” [DHS spokesman Roger] Munns said. “Although, off the record, I really hope they don’t go after Chicago’s mass transit system, because, let me tell you, that whole thing would go up in flames real quick.”
GAO investigators, eat your hearts out.
In other news:
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday told comedian-turned-senator Al Franken that, “This isn’t Saturday Night Live,” after Franken apparently clowned around during McConnell’s speech. Politico reported that Franken rolled around in his chair, gasped and rolled his eyes as McConnell delivered remarks opposing Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Franken apologized, but we should probably be happy he didn’t deliver an in-character rebuttal as Stuart Smalley.
- Stephen Colbert, of all people, debunks a news report that claims the Taliban is training terrorist monkeys to fight soldiers. Phew. I’ll sleep easier tonight.
- And Colbert talks to Rep. Barney Frank here about the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and potential nominee Elizabeth Warren.
No-bid contracts? Lobbyists and special interests? Multi-billion dollar Defense acquisition projects that don’t work? Bo-ring!
The Onion reports that the public is increasingly demanding that if the government’s going to waste taxpayer dollars, at least spend them on things that are cool. And I think we all can get behind this kind of spending:
A CNN poll conducted last month found that, among Americans who favor eliminating tax breaks for Big Oil and blowing the cash on something that’s actually cool, 41 percent want to build a shopping mall in the clouds that would be accessible by hovercar, 33 percent support the research and development of a viable invisibility pill, 19 percent would triple the length of summer, and most of the remaining 7 percent just want sweet new boomerangs that actually come back after you throw them.
Nine of 10 respondents said they favor the continued public financing of new sports stadiums, but only if the old ones are imploded in an elaborate pyrotechnic display that everyone can watch from reclining chairs as AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” blasts in the background.
[...] Meanwhile, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has vowed that Congress “won’t spend another dollar” on new prisons to house nonviolent drug offenders until it has allocated the resources necessary to finally capture Bigfoot.
Nobody likes paying taxes, of course, but here are two things that might take a little sting out of today. The Onion has the scoop on the U.S. Postal Service’s latest can’t-miss scheme for boosting its dwindling revenue: Late-night post offices to draw in the nightclub crowd.
“We’re busier than ever, though to be honest, a lot of these people’s packages never even make it to the processing center,” Loftus continued. “The address will be illegible, or the envelope soaked in beer or hot sauce. You’d be surprised how many people try to mail themselves hot sauce at 2:30 in the morning.”
And enjoy this clip from the Simpsons episode The Trouble with Trillions. No matter how hectic your last-minute tax filing was, it couldn’t have been worse than this:
Sadly, it cuts off right before one of my all-time favorite Homer Simpson lines: “Would you look at those morons. I paid my taxes over a year ago!”
Happy Friday! Here’s a few amusing links to take you into the weekend.
The Onion breaks the “news” here that the federal government plans to save $300 billion a year by eliminating the wasteful and “100 percent redundant” Senate:
Established in 1789 as a means of overseeing the passage of bills into law, the once-promising senator program has reportedly failed to contribute to the governing of the nation in any significant way since 1964. … In fact, the program has gone unchecked for so long that many in Washington are now unable to recall what purpose U.S. senators were originally meant to serve.
And while we’re on the subject of outdated legislative bodies, follow this link for a good laugh. Apparently Britain’s House of Lords has a mouse infestation, and the Lords and Baronesses last month engaged in a dry-witted debate on the costs and benefits of hypoallergenic cats and Parliament’s mouse helpline. FedLine usually doesn’t cover legislative bodies other than the American Congress, but this exchange was too droll — and hilariously formal — to not pass on:
We at Federal Times had an enlightening editorial board meeting at our offices earlier this month with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, which resulted in several interesting stories. But the crack staff at the Onion appears to have scooped us on the real story: