Uncle Sam: Eagle Scout or Charlie Sheen?

Friday - 5/4/2012, 2:00am EDT

Many people, including a lot of hard-working, by-the-book feds, were shocked or angered by the $800,000 romp in the desert for some West Coast GSA folks. Then came the Secret Service's wheels-up party in Colombia.

In both cases, heads have rolled. There may be more to come. Heads and new scandals too. You can almost count on it. It's a very big government.

Earlier this week Ronald Kessler wrote a column in The Washington Post outlining what he says are other, serious chinks, in the Secret Service's armor. Kessler is a former Post reporter (and colleague of mine) and author of "In The President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect".

That said, a lot of people don't think this is governmentwide. They don't believe that the two incidents represent all the crazy, illegal things that go on. On the other hand, they think it's widespread and that the GSA and Secret Service episodes are merely the tiny tips of a giant government iceberg of waste, fraud and abuse.

As yesterday's column pointed out, many feds are furious and frustrated by the actions. That for the most part the government is staffed by honest, hard-working people who take their jobs and responsibilities seriously.

But not everyone agrees. That includes a D.C.-area reader who says where there's smoke, there's lots of fire. He thinks some of us need a jolt of reality juice. For example:

When I was ending my sixth-grade year at Fairview Elementary (Burke, Va.) the PTA brought in the Fairfax County Police Department to give the rising junior-highers some lessons about the dangers of illegal drugs. Our parents were invited to attend and one of the warnings given to them was, "If you find evidence of drug use by your kids in the house, statistics show that they likely have been using for months. It's only after they get comfortable getting away with it that they let their guard down and do something that is detectable for the parents. Do NOT let them tell you this was the first time and you just happened to catch them. Ask tough questions and follow up, and up, and up"

Mike, do you really think that this is the first time for any of these government worker scandals? That this isn't about a deep-seated culture issue that feds, among dozens of other things, lack the fear of accountability? We just happened to catch — in the span of a couple weeks — the 0.001 percent of government employees who are operating with a moral code that would make Charlie Sheen blush?

99.999 percent of feds might be embarrassed by these incidents coming to light but trying to sell that that is the same percentage of workers who are wrongly being lumped in with the bad apples is a statistically improbability. Trying to defend them like you are is almost proving the culture issue point — a radio station dedicated to the federal government has its lead columnist writing about why the GSA and Secret Service criticism is unfair. Just like a true "govy" — above all else protect where the money is coming from.

The government is full of inefficiency, waste and unaccountable people — that's the way it's has always been. It will never change. You proved with your column playing to low-hanging, emotional-mindset fruit of the typical government worker that your endorsement of this behavior will never change either. " Michael Shaw


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Forget Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie. The bearer of the world's most valuable autograph is astronaut Neil Armstrong. The famously reclusive moon-walking legend's autograph can fetch as much as $7,500. The value of his John Hancock skyrocketed when he apparently began refusing to sign autographs.

(Hat tip to Causey reader, Regi T. for this one.)


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