Bureaucrat Beat: Too Many Lobbyists, Three Cups of Tea, and Pirates Galore!

Here’s a scarey statistic. Recent reports said that Washington, D.C. is home to 35,000 lobbyists. That’s roughly 70 lobbyists per legislator. No wonder we’re in trouble. All they must get done is talking to lobbyists. And, no, we, the common citizens don’t have lobbyists.

Want to read a good book? Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom have just about wrapped up the book. It’s a #1 from the New York Times Bestseller list. The short explanation? Mortensen builds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly for girls, with donated money. He believes, and his theories are convincing, that the only preventive for terrorism is education – to give people in these violent countries something to live for besides the extremist Moslem groups.

If you read the book, you will see he is right. All the bullets in the world won’t change anything. It is a remarkable story of great insight. Hopefully, the new administration will talk to Mr. Mortensen.

On the people scene. In all bureaucracies there are people who make life better. We don’t really think of them as bureaucrats. Corinne Malaer is one of those. She recently retired from the Bishop Post Office after 32 years of service. Her friendly smile and helpful ways made the day better. That’s as good as it gets. Thanks, Corinne. We’ll miss you.

In the So Glad He’s Back Department – Dennis Domaille, long-time Mammoth Community Water District board member, spent many months in recovery from serious burns sustained in an accident at his Mobile Mart in Lee Vining. Many community members donated blood to help Dennis and wished strongly for his recovery. He is now well and back at his spot on the water board. That’s a holiday gift!

And in the Long Time No See Department, who should turn up at the crazy Fruitcake Festival in Independence but Chuck Tomajko, formerly of Mammoth Lakes. Many of you remember Chuck, who sold real estate in town. We had a good time re-telling stories about the Volcanic Hazard, the jitters back then and the fact that the mountain never blew, not yet anyway. Chuck looks great and he’s enjoying life in the Reno area.

Totally off the subject – what’s up with these bands of pirates in various seas around Africa and the Middle East? Did they watch Pirates of the Caribbean too many times? Probably not. They probably just went with the new outlaw morality now apparent from Wall St. to Washington to the Red Sea with Illinois in between.

Why is this happening? Perhaps someone needs to use harsh measures to get things in line. Now, we hear that Vice President Cheney, better known as the Prince of Darkness in elite circles, admitted on network television that he supported the torture of a detainee. Experts call this a war crime. This after President Bush declared, “We do not torture.” We are told that Japanese military who water boarded our soldiers were tried and hanged. Now, we’re not suggesting the VP wear the rope necktie, but how about some consistency when it comes to standards of decent, humanitarian, intelligent behavior?

Speaking of lack of decency, how about those robocallers? That’s when your phone rings, you pick it up and a computer starts talking – usually about some fabulous deal you need to do. It’s the height of bad manners and ineffective marketing, in the view of the Bureaucrat Beat news staff.

We’re not alone. The Federal Trade Commission now requires prerecorded telemarketing calls from businesses or charities to include ways to opt out of future calls. Consumers can bust telemarketers who fail to offer a way out of their calls. Go to www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Finally, one of our staff made an observation he wanted to pass on. A look at the Los Angeles Times Business section on Tuesday revealed several headlines about fraud and crime in the financial sector.

One story spoke of bribery and criminal charges at German industrial giant, Siemens. Another story spoke of alleged fraud at the National Lampoon. No joke. Still another story speaks of Henry Nicholas III of Broadcom Corp. failing to avoid a trial on charges that he illegally manipulated stock options. Then, there’s Bernard Madoff who allegedly ripped off thousands of investors to the tune of $50 billion in what has been described as a sophisticated Ponzi scheme. If we didn’t know better, we’d think we were reading crime watch not the business section.

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.



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