A clown, a comedian and a mind reader walk into a Las Vegas bar. The bartender says, "This joke is going to be really funny when the General Services Administration Inspector General's report is released…"
The chief of the General Services Administration resigned, two of her top deputies were fired and four managers were placed on leave Monday amid reports of lavish spending at a conference off the Las Vegas Strip that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception.
Among the "excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable" spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a "team-building" exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 "networking" reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference's closing-night dinner, employees received "yearbooks" with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.
I think the real problem here is that they only spent $3,200 on the mind reader. The government is always penny-wise and pound-foolish. For a slightly larger appropriation, they could have gotten a clairvoyant that would have foreseen this whole fiasco.
As for Administrator Martha Johnson, who is the official taking the fall for this, she had only arrived at the GSA in April 2010, while the conference took place in October. So in all seriousness, Johnson probably had little opportunity to put a stop to the affair, given how long in advance such events are planned.
Given the integrity she has shown in tendering her resignation, the best solution may be to put her in charge of the war in Afghanistan. If she only wastes $823,000 — the full cost of the Las Vegas conference — that would constitute just .27% of what the United States spends every single day on the Afghan war.
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Tags: Barack Obama, Comedians, Las Vegas, Money, Nevada
In an exciting development for the struggling producers of such American classics as Thunderbird, Cisco and Wild Irish Rose, the Republican presidential candidates held their ninth debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, a city suffering from some of the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country. The winners and losers, in gloriously objective alphabetical order…
Michele Bachmann said this: "The president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin, and he put our special operations forces in Africa." But can she see Uganda, where the U.S. has deployed 100 special forces operatives, from her house?
Herman Cain was attacked from all sides…
The first to feel the assault was the front-runner of the moment, Herman Cain, who is struggling to prove that he is a serious contender and not merely another evanescent phenom of this election season. He was thrown on the defense by new criticism of his signature '9-9-9' tax overhaul plan, which an independent analysis released shortly before the debate indicated would be a boon to the wealthy and put a significantly heavier burden on lower- and middle-income Americans.
Cain defended his proposal by pointing to an analysis conducted by Fiscal Associates, Inc. of Virginia, a firm directed by a longtime supporter of a national sales tax. The 10-page analysis is emblazoned with the word "draft" and doesn't include a single distributional table, so…you know can trust it.
Newt Gingrich won the debate according to some lady named Sarah Palin. Did not win the debate according to those of us who inhabit reality.
Ron Paul made a serious points about the costs of American empire. Unfortunately, had to make those points in conversation with Rick Santorum, which is enough to ruin anyone's day.
Mitt Romney is still showing too much evidence of being a somewhat competent technocrat to secure the nomination.
Rick Santorum is still invited to these things?
And the Winners:
Gary Johnson. Gary Johnson won.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: CNN, Debates, Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, Las Vegas, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Nevada, Newt Gingrich, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul
9:53 – So, what do you think? Lots of blood on the mat, but I'm not sure whose it is. Well, clearly a lot of it is Perry's. But I think Cain and Romney were pretty gashed as well. And how about Santorum. He came with a really sharp sword.
What do you think? Who won? Or, who lost the least?
9:52 – It's over? Where's this cake that Bachmann promised?
9:51 – Michele Bachmann: "I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage." Well put.
9:50 – Santorum is currently polling #3 behind Romney and Perry in Pennsylvania.
9:45 - @TheInDecider: "Rick Santorum: 'I'm gonna be the president of Pennsylvania, just you wait and see!'#CNNDebate"
Tags: CNN, Debates, Herman Cain, Las Vegas, Liveblog, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Nevada, Newt Gingrich, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum
As a great American once said, you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to suggest electrocuting Mexican immigrants. Join us here and @TheInDecider tonight at 8/7c for live coverage of the GOP #CNNDebate in Las Vegas.
In the lineup: Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, the ghost of Ronald Reagan.
Not in the lineup: Jon Huntsman (boycotting), Gary Johnson (against the rules), Buddy Roemer (what's he up to, anyway?), Fred Karger (probably also against the rules), rational explanations of workable policies.
See you tonight!
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Tags: Buddy Roemer, Debates, Fred Karger, Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Las Vegas, Liveblog, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Nevada, Newt Gingrich, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul