Can’t Do Their Damn Jobs

The thread that ties together the passport meltdown, hurricane FEMA and stories like this is that in so many important ways, our government just lacks the ability to do simple tasks well.

Undercover congressional investigators posing as West Virginia businessmen obtained a license with almost no scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that enabled them to buy enough radioactive material from U.S. suppliers to build a “dirty bomb,” a new government report says.

The investigators obtained the license within 28 days from officials at the NRC, the federal agency that in addition to regulating nuclear power plants oversees radioactive materials used in health care and industry, the report by the Government Accountability Office says.

[…] Using a post-office box at Mail Boxes Etc., a telephone and a fax machine, the undercover investigators from the GAO obtained the license “without ever leaving their desks,” the report says.

As I pointed out in my post below, the government cares primarily about the appearance of credibility, the appearance of safety. They know when they’re lying and they probably know that our security apparatus has more holes than Fred Fielding’s last legal brief. They don’t care. Or maybe they think that nothing will serve the Norquist brigades better than gumming up government until it breaks down altogether. Either way, 2009 cannot come soon enough.






26 replies
  1. 1
    Zifnab says:

    Santorum went on to clearly imply that terror attacks will occur inside America which will alter the body politic and lead to a reversal of the anti-war sentiment now dominating the country.

    “Between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the American public’s going to have a very different view,” said the former senator from Pennsylvania.

    ~link

    I think this brings us back to the previous thread’s debate of “Are they that Evil or just that Stupid?” Republicans did very well off the last terror attack, and I’m betting they still harbor stary-eyed dreams of recapturing American gullibility and misplaced patriotism at the minor expense of another skyscraper or two.

  2. 2

    Considering that the Administration is guided by a philosophy to make the government small enough to drown in a bathtub, is it so surprising that once these people have a shot a running things that they just use government to fill their pockets? Or that there are so many drowned babies? And if some of these people are lousy government employees, so what? Government itself is lousy in their eyes.

    If you presume the illegitimacy of government what kind of government employee are you going to be?

    There are reasons to have a structured society other than to loot. The philosophical underpinnings of the Bush Administration parallel those farms where you hunt domesticated animals. What rules exist are there to protect the hunters.

  3. 3
    RSA says:

    a philosophy to make the government small enough to drown in a bathtub

    This administration has refined the metaphor: they want to make the government small enough such that as soon as you walk into the bathroom, you slip on a piece of soap, crack your head on the wash basin, and land in a puddle the floor, to be electrocuted by faulty wiring.

  4. 4
    Jake says:

    [The NRC commisioner] said terrorists have looked for relatively simple ways to cause massive death and damage. Devices such as the moisture gauges, he said, pose a relatively low-level risk because they require a vast amount of work to fashion into a dangerous weapon.

    Yeah, everyone knows terrists is brown folks and that means they’re lazy and stupid. And they have to stop to pray to Allah every five minutes. No way the same people who (according to Chertoff’s guts) are spending every moment of their lives thinking about how much THEY WANT TO KILL USsssss are going to invest the required time and effort.

    And don’t forget the DoD’s encounter with the GAO.

    Our undercover investigators were able to obtain these items because Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO) personnel did not confirm their identity and authorization to requisition excess DOD property items. The DRMO personnel even helped our undercover investigators load the items into our van.

    Makes you feel all cozy and safe, eh? Maybe that’s the origin of Chertoff’s intestinal unease. He knows someone’s been selling dangerous trinkets to the wrong people.

    When historians look back on this period, the GAO will be the only government agency that consistently and fearlesly exposed the Bush Admin for the rabble of frauds that they are.

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    This administration has refined the metaphor: they want to make the government small enough such that as soon as you walk into the bathroom, you slip on a piece of soap, crack your head on the wash basin, and land in a puddle the floor, to be electrocuted by faulty wiring.

    This is also why Republicans are fighting for tort reform.

  6. 6
    Jake says:

    Surely there must be some government agency that isn’t run by complete incompetents.

    Perhaps the CDC?

  7. 7
    chopper says:

    Republicans did very well off the last terror attack, and I’m betting they still harbor stary-eyed dreams of recapturing American gullibility and misplaced patriotism at the minor expense of another skyscraper or two.

    what’s a coupla skyscrapers if it puts you back in a solid political majority?

  8. 8
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    They don’t care. Or maybe they think that nothing will serve the Norquist brigades better than gumming up government until it breaks down altogether. Either way, 2009 cannot come soon enough.

    Simple minds, simple minds. Democrats will solve everything! They wouldn’t be incompetents like those losers at the NRC! Democrats are smart and Republicans are stupid! Us good, them bad! Nuance!

    NRC commissioner Edward McGaffigan Jr. said in an interview yesterday that the agency, while concerned about any security weakness, has had to allocate finite resources to what it thinks are the biggest potential threats to public safety. …

    McGaffigan, who is to testify on behalf of the NRC at the hearing, acknowledged that one serious hurdle remains. “We have to fix the problem of people taking our licenses and counterfeiting them,” he said.

    Yeah, no kidding, Brainiac! You’ve only had years and years to work out this tiny little simple problem, genius. Go suck Grover Norquist’s dick some more, you creationist climate-change-denier!

    Dem appointees would really be top-notch science-based professionals who would keep tight reins on their… uh oh.

    McGaffigan’s first term began Aug. 28, 1996. He was renominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in May 2000, and served an additional five years. His current term will expire in June 2010.

    And another typically simple-minded meme goes fizzle.

  9. 9
    Mr Furious says:

    If the NRC would simply get out of the way, those “suppliers” would voluntarily self-regulate, and all these problems would be solved by the market.

    Right, Lambchop?

  10. 10
    Zifnab says:

    E3L, did you… uh… have a point?
    McGaffigan is worried about people counterfeiting licenses, so… he’s a bad NRC director? McGaffigan has eleven years of experience running the bureau so he’s too knowledgeable? What exactly are you implying? I’m totally confused.

  11. 11
    Tim F. says:

    So after six+ years under Bush the NRC is still a Clinton department. How convenient.

  12. 12
    Dreggas says:

    Fuck Fear and Fuck Bush and his enablers. Is it really so hard to say it?

  13. 13
    Rudi says:

    The WaPo story is BS, put on your NASA diaper. The “nukelear” material used in those industrial gages is the same as what is used in home smoke detectors. I for see a rash of home invasions around Dearbornistan to gather up these gamma sources to create dirty bombs. The results will be a couple of cancer deaths(bomb builders) after 20 years.

    Maybe our briliant politicians will outlaw smoke detectors as possible terrorist weapons. Never mind the death toll due to Vitters falling asleep with a cigarette after some kinky escort role playing.

  14. 14
    Chad N. Freude says:

    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop Says:

    well-thought-out, carefully reasoned arguments on important political, social and scientific issues.

    Thanks for elevating the level of discourse.

  15. 15
    Tsulagi says:

    So after six+ years under Bush the NRC is still a Clinton department. How convenient.

    See, what you fail to understand, Tim, is that in the shadow of the Clinton penis the grownups who came to town are incapacitated. Under Jamie Gorelick’s vagina shadow too. Stops them cold. Paralyzed. They just can’t help it.

    Such is the power of the Clenis upon the mighty Republicans. If it weren’t for those imposing shadows, they wouldn’t be such brain-dead abject failures. Clinton’s fault he has a penis that keeps them mesmerized and inadequate at the same time.

  16. 16
    John Harrold says:

    … our government just lacks the ability to do simple tasks well

    Well Tim, how do you comport statements like this with the progressive desire to shift to a single-payer system for medical care. I’m not trying to be snide or shrill here, but I think this is a really good question that doesn’t get answered. Moore goes on and on about how evil Bush is, how screwed up the war has turned out, etc. But this is the same government that would administer the socialized medical program he trumpets.

    One response would be: well it’s just the republicans that are inept at governing. While I don’t really believe that statement, the republicans are not going to disappear so that is something that should be considered when trying to expand the government.

  17. 17
    demimondian says:

    it’s just the republicans that are inept at governing.

    Except that statement appears to be true — Republicans don’t want government to succeed, so, unsurprisingly, they make it fail.

  18. 18
    ThymeZone says:

    Fuck Fear and Fuck Bush and his enablers. Is it really so hard to say it?

    Fuck no, been saying it for years.

  19. 19
    Tim F. says:

    Well Tim, how do you comport statements like this with the progressive desire to shift to a single-payer system for medical care.

    I think you hit on part of the answer without needing a reply from me. As you might have guessed, if our present government proposed a single-payer health plan I would have to read very carefully before I supported it. The Bush clan has far, far too long a record of delivering something other than promised (“clear skies”) and then screwing up what they do deliver.

    Regarding the inevitable interparty government handover, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Social Security has survived six Republican administrations (counting Ford) and will likely survive plenty more. The magic, of course, being that anybody who screws it up will punt their party to LaRouche status in the next election.

    If you think that the same thing won’t happen with a well-designed single-payer system, notice how every single western country but us regard their single payer plans. Liberal and conservative governments come and go without anybody seriously proposing to privatize the systems. Americanization is both unthinkable and politically lethal. As long as a dumbass Democrat doesn’t create an doomed chimaera in a typically Dem effort to please everybody (sadly, I think that probably will happen) the system could quickly become just as untouchable here as everywhere else.

    Hope that answers your question.

  20. 20
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    So after six+ years under Bush the NRC is still a Clinton department. How convenient.

    Here we see one person trying absurdly hard not to get a simple point. Look, you must realize by now that you couldn’t have been more wrong in this post.

    Whining that Republicans “Can’t Do Their Damn Jobs” is only effective for you if it’s only incompetent Republicans at the NRC, and when the Senior NRC Commissioner during this set-up operation (orchestrated by a Republican, Norm Coleman) is revealed to be a Clinton appointee (there were two Dem and three GOP appointees on the Commission at that time, although one of Bush’s appointees was a longtime Harry Reid aide, so I’d wager he’s a Democrat), it kind of undermines your simplistic narrative, “Bush’s appointees are the problem! Wait ’til 2009!”

    So actually, it seems the Republican Coleman was the one more concerned by actual safety than the appearance of credibility. You kind of got that backward in your post. Shocking.

    One response would be: well it’s just the republicans that are inept at governing. While I don’t really believe that statement,

    And here we see one person who is a lot closer to getting it.

    I’m just amazed that a blogger who feels qualified to analyze how government works still spouts simplistic nonsense that betrays that he has not a clue how our federal bureaucracy operates. As if on Inauguration day, all 2 million federal employees from the previous administration (who, of course, all belong to that administration’s political party… and if they are from the party you don’t favor, they are all stupid, incompetent and corrupt) are suddenly fired, and in walk 2 million federal employees from the new ruling party (and if it’s your party, they are all geniuses).

    Is this a blog for fifth-graders? If so, you got Pwn3d!!1! d00d!!1!!1

  21. 21
    b-psycho says:

    If Bush & the Republicans wanted to cut the size & scope of government, they would’ve. You give them way too much credit Tim, it’s just power & dollar signs for them.

    They’ve actually gone so far off the deep end that libertarian-leaning types are swinging towards democrats, that really says a lot. I swore off of voting a long time ago, but if I still believed in making that type of tradeoff it’d be an easy one. Tax rates going up a few percentage points vs Habeas Corpus being thrown away is not a coin-flip…

  22. 22
    demimondian says:

    E3L, it is a great pleasure to see you finally agreeing with the farthest left wing of the Labor movement that management, and particularly executive management, doesn’t play an important role in the performance of large organizations. I’m looking forward to hearing your insightful thoughts on excessive CEO pay.

    You can’t have it both ways, dude: either executives contribute something, or they don’t. You’re saying that they don’t — which seems kind of odd to me.

  23. 23
    Tim F. says:

    As if on Inauguration day, all 2 million federal employees from the previous administration (who, of course, all belong to that administration’s political party… and if they are from the party you don’t favor, they are all stupid, incompetent and corrupt) are suddenly fired, and in walk 2 million federal employees from the new ruling party (and if it’s your party, they are all geniuses).

    As always my friend lambchop, you are in an extremely weak position to accuse anybody of misunderstanding what one reads. Nothing would please me more than if you could point to the place where I argued that the mid-level management of our government went to hell on inaguration day. You and I both could both point at that silly guy and have ourselves a good belly laugh.

    Some things certainly change on inaguration day. Without question a president can screw up the top decisionmaking staff right away. One could cite for example the mulish refusal of Ashcroft and Rice to rate nonstate terrorists a government concern. Screwing up the midlevel management takes time because one has to move in friendly faces as the older crowd gets transferred, retires or resigns in disgust. People have to figure out over time what sort of behavior leads to advancement (backing the president’s party, looking the other way) and what doesn’t (accountability). Departments certainly don’t adopt the administration’s overall character overnight, but to deny that they ever do is something that I would expect from a moron. Or you.

  24. 24
    Tim F. says:

    Look at it this way – most federal agencies didn’t realize right away that an important part of their job was to promote Republican candidates, so GSA head Lurita Doan had to go around giving powerpoint talks to inform them. These things take time.

  25. 25

    Here’s a little tidbit. One government agency, the Post Office, has survived since the country’s founding. Believe it or not, the most popular federal agency and employee is the Post Office (although, alas, consider the alternatives). Since Nixon Republicans have been trying to slice that big boy up to feed to private corporate interests.

    Last year Bush signed a law whereby the cost of a stamp could never rise faster than the cost of living. Sounds nice (and postage rates generally rise faster than the COL), but suppose you were a gas station and the government slapped rules that the cost of a gallon of gas couldn’t go up faster than the cost of living? Oil companies wouldn’t stand for it. And besides salaries, what is the biggest cost of the Post Office? Fuel for their fleets. So that little law has guaranteed the bankruptcy of the Post Office, eventually.

  26. 26
    ATS says:

    First consider how few competent people there are. Then halve them by excluding anyone in the other party. Sure recipe for catastrophe. The Alberto Gonzales formula.

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