It’s Cyber Monday Every Day at the USPTO!

Amazon Prime users know what a great deal the program is for frequent online shoppers, but the civilian benefits pale in comparison to the windfall government workers can reap. Take the US Patent and Trademark Office. It has an “award winning” teleshopping program for both full and part–time patent examiners.

Employees, AKA personal shoppers, can browse from the comfort of their home while still claiming a 40–hour week.

working-for-the-governmentSure they call it “teleworking” but we know what’s going on. The Commerce Department’s Inspector General does, too. It found employees with the highest number of “unsupported” working hours — can you say Amazon Lightening Deals? — also had the highest number of overtime hours claimed.

How’s that for a cashback bonus?

It’s true these employees may not have been shopping while claiming to work. They might have been watching porn. That’s such a problem among government employees rumor has it when California porn sites shut down to protest a law requiring condoms, productivity in government offices skyrocketed.

We do know whatever these patent examiners were examining during the so–called workday, it usually wasn’t patents.

Sure there was an investigation and you’ll never guess what happened! Only you’ll have to click on the link below to find out. It’s worth it because you’ll also learn what happened when I contacted the investigating office to learn the final outcome.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/us-patent-office-trademark-office-inspector-general/2016/12/03/id/761981/

 

 

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ISIS Is Making a List & Checking It Twice

As if Christian pastors weren’t already busy enough this time of year, now there’s a new addition to the To–Do list that may take priority over the fight between Hymn singers and praise music listeners. Readers who worship the New York Times or only attend Christmas services may not be aware there is a schism regarding music in many congregations, or that there are even different types of worship music.

santa-delivers-presents-to-isisHymn supporters prefer singing from a hymnal where the music is visible and the lyrics indicate pauses and the like. Hymnists also like the fact they are singing music, particularly at Christmas, that connects them with hundreds of years of Christian tradition.

Praise music observers are different. A friend calls them Karaoke Christians because there are no hymnals. Instead the lyrics are projected using PowerPoint and a screen. Often this type of worship music is disparagingly referred to by people like me as “7/11” songs: The same seven words repeated eleven times.

I’ve read nursery rhymes containing deeper theology.

Be that as it may, parishioners will only tolerate a service that lasts about 60 minutes. Particularly on Christmas Eve, there are often multiple services that have to fit in a limited number of hours. These time constraints result in discussions concerning what type of music and how many tunes that can become spirited, to say nothing of unbiblical.

Just when the pastor began to feel like he was caught between Shiites and Sunnis, there comes a new complication that strikes an even more discordant note than the music wars.

Breitbart reports ISIS “has published a list containing the names and addresses of thousands of churches in the United States, Canada, France, and the Netherlands, encouraging followers to attack them during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season.

This comes as a shock to many TV–watching pastors who assumed the imam’s new kneepads in the Amazon commercial would pacify Moslems for the next few weeks. That’s a mistaken assumption.

The list was posted on “Secrets of Jihadis,” which is located on a secure messaging site called Telegram. This board is Heloise for the homicidal. It contains helpful hints on bomb–making, decapitation, easy no–bake date recipes and how to host a massacre.

For some reason the US news media believes it has fulfilled it’s responsibility to the public by announcing the list, without bothering to publish which churches are on the list. That’s a crucial oversight.

Ignorance might be bliss for a Unitarian, uh, do they even call them pastors? Maybe it’s emcee. Anyway, since they don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, shepherds tending their flocks or the Angel Alert Broadcasting network his church is likely to be so empty an exploding bomb or semi coming through the front door will only be a problem for the building inspector.

Episcopalians and Methodists may think their tolerance, inclusion and heresy will protect them from those mysterious exploding Moslems who lack any motive discernable by the FBI — but I have my doubts.

Jihadis aren’t noted for their attention to the nuances of Christian theology. Much like the Klan viewed race relations, one unbeliever is pretty much the same as another unbeliever to a jihadi with a detonator.

Baptists and Catholics can’t be so complacent. A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention memorably called Mohammed a “demon–possessed pedophile” and every crusader without exception was a Catholic. Meaning caution is in order for both denominations.

Services in my church are packed with people I haven’t seen since last Christmas. Mega churches are now mega–targets and winter weather certainly isn’t helping. There’s an old terror–community cartoon that has an Arab woman looking in a full–length mirror and asking her husband, “Does this bomb make me look fat?”

I personally own a coat that could hide 30 lbs. of C–4 or one bag of fertilizer without affecting the drape.

This puts the onus on churches to find out for themselves if their congregation is on the list and if it is, what preparations to make for volatile, uninvited guests.

Frankly as far as I’m concerned, pastors just can’t win. I’m surprised there is any joy in Christmas for the clergy this year. For them the only situation worse than being on the list, is being so insignificant your church was left off the list.

NFL Owners Can Afford to Build Their Own Stadium

Shocking election development in San Diego. Football one–percenters discovered the people who sweep NFL luxury boxes aren’t willing to subsidize box owners.

Nestled far under the existential choice of Trump or Hillary on the local ballot was Measure C. The Babbits in city hall thought “C” was a chance to raise money for their legacy by taxing tourists and Trump voters and using the windfall to build a new palace for the San Diego Chargers.

san-diego-chokers-chargers-nflPoliticians love hotel taxes because this levy is the embodiment of taxation without representation.

Hotel taxes are municipal add–ons at the bottom of the bill. The people victimized by this scam are all from someplace else. No one who pays the tax, with the exception of a few local adulterers, has any say in the political process or a means of punishing the politicians.

This tax is so repercussion–free I’m surprised politicians aren’t riffling through tourist’s wallets as they clear baggage claim at the airport.

Call it another populist revolt or a driverlash against the Charger’s $75 parking fee; either way voters didn’t view increasing this tax as a victimless crime.

Measure C asked voters to boost the city’s hotel room tax from an unconscionable 12.5 percent to a confiscatory 16.5 percent. The additional gouge would raise money to fund $1.5 billion in bonds for a new stadium and convention center.

The rest of the cost would be covered by selling organs belonging to people who complained about the tax. Or, maybe it was to be covered by a love offering of $650 million from the NFL and the Chargers; I forget which.

Passing a tax increase, even on strangers, is never a sure thing and it was tougher in this instance because a tax increase for a specific project must be passed by a majority of two–thirds of the voters. Politicians always on the make for tax dollars to fund their “legacy” don’t like letting the public vote in the first place and a super majority is even worse.

So they snuck Measure D on the ballot with a smaller tax increase for no specific reason — wink, wink — that only required a simple majority to pass.

And both measures went down to a resounding defeat. Measure C by a total of 57 to 43 percent and Measure D — only requiring the simple majority — was thrashed even worse: 60 to 40 percent.

The sports shill for the San Diego Tribune couldn’t believe it, “The defeat of C in no way reflected on the chances of a different proposal getting a simple majority.” Except it did since voters also delivered a crackback block to Measure D. Now he’s hoping for pressure on “the dawdling obstructionists in our local government.”

I suppose that includes voters, too.

Maybe next season the Chargers will make fans go through airport metal detectors, search their bags and confiscate any water, soda or snacks they brought from home. Wait, the NFL already does that. The only physical pressure left is locking the bathrooms.

In all the discussion of the options open to the Chargers, which include shacking up with the Rams in LA at their taxapalooza of a stadium or wasting voter’s time with yet another vote, the owner paying for his own dang stadium is never mentioned.

It’s like the topic is something polite people simply don’t discuss, but since the NFL owner keeps the profit, shouldn’t he bear the risk.

Taxpayers in other cities that paid for stadiums often discover they are still paying long after the team departed. In New York when the Giants decamped for New Jersey taxpayers were still paying off $110 million in debt on the old stadium. St. Louis just lost the Rams, but they didn’t lose $144 million in stadium debt the team left behind.

Another topic seldom mentioned is what a bad deal taxpayer–funded stadiums are. Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University, says that in spite of what stadium boosters claim, “There is no [economic] impact.

A baseball team [with ten times the number of home games as a football team] has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store.”

Yet I don’t know of any city that is rallying voters to pay for a new Belk’s.

Then again maybe the “no” vote wasn’t an economic decision at all. Maybe the NFL is reaping what it has sown. Attending a game in person is volunteering to be fleeced. Expensive tickets, expensive parking, expensive mandatory concessions and excessive consumption of your time is simply too much, regardless of how lavishly taxpayers have furnished the stadium.

It’s easier and cheaper to watch the game at home.

Pentagon Remains a Quart Low on Integrity

The biggest mistake the Germans made in World War II wasn’t the invasion of Russia. It was failing to line the beaches on D–Day with Members of Congress. Evidently these worthies are such fierce antagonists that installing a few Barbara Comstocks or Chuck Schumers in each pillbox would have meant a devastating repulse for the Allied invasion.

After that crushing setback the only hope for the Allies would have been to send GIs over as “undocumented immigrants” and hope Berlin wouldn’t notice.

defense_guide-to-cutting-waste-spendingThe news on the potency of politicians with regard to the Pentagon is deep in a Washington Post story on waste. Pentagon officials commissioned a study and when the researchers found $125 billion being spent on superfluous bureaucrats they buried the report.

The scenario was a little like Rocky I. The Defense Business Board, composed of experienced corporate executives and management consultants, was supposed to find chump change–sized waste that could be easily eliminated earning the Pentagon high praise and bonuses.

But like Rocky Balboa, the committee didn’t know they were a palooka. It discovered the Pentagon spends “almost a quarter of its [yearly] $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.”

Compare that with overhead spending in the private sector where Alix Partners analyzed over 1,900 public and private companies with revenues over $500 million. Overhead as a percentage of sales varied between 14.6 and 15.2 percent, a bit over half what the Pentagon spends. The numbers are even worse for the Pentagon, because many private sector overhead employees are instrumental in producing revenue.

Whereas in the Pentagon, revenue just rolls in like the tide and the bureaucracy wastes it.

So what happened to the recommendations from the study? How does the Pentagon compare with private sector staffing? How much do the generals in charge of firing money into the air know about total Pentagon spending?

All will be revealed when you click on the link below, which will whisk you to the rest of my Newsmax.com column.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/pentagon-government-waste-department-of-defense/2016/12/09/id/763199/

 

Football Flashback to An Earlier Era

This season a remarkable decision took place on the next–to–last play of the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game. This intra–state championship matchup dates back to 1904, but this matchup was particularly important. Oklahoma was ranked #9 and OSU just behind at #10. The game winner would not only have bragging rights, the victor would also be the Big 12 champion.

perine-kneeMy alma mater OU got off to a ragged start. The defense was exceptionally porous and the usually reliable running game stalled. Then in the second quarter Heisman Trophy candidate receiver Dede Westrook was knocked unconscious after being hit while making a catch.

OU dropped seven points behind, but managed to tie 17 – 17 to end the half. In the third quarter, just as prospects were looking up for the Sooners, RB Samaje Perine limped off the field and into the locker room.

Perine is the Sooners’ hammer. He’s a punishing straight–ahead runner who brings back memories of Steve Owens. Without him the load would go to Joe Mixon, who so far was having an off day. It looked like a long afternoon ahead.

Then without ceremony Perine quietly returns. Viewers, like the OSU defense, learned he was back when he got the ball. On a rainy, slick day OU wanted to keep the ball on the ground and use up the clock. Perine got the ball play after play after play. OSU had eight players stacked on the line and they knew who was going to get the ball, yet he kept going.

On the last drive of the game he carried the ball 11 times and it looked toward the end like some OSU players had their fill of tackling Perine. They began making what Deon Saunders called “business decisions.”

Then it happened. On what became the last time he would touch the ball, Perine broke through line and had a clear path to the goal line. Nothing short of Divine Intervention could have prevented a touchdown, yet just before he crossed the goal line, Perine stopped, took a knee and ended the play.

The announcers didn’t make much of it at the time, as OU ran out the clock, but the significance struck me immediately.

It was an extraordinary act of sportsmanship. Maybe viewers who have never played a contact sport miss these nuances, but those of us who have appreciate a player who has some reverence for the way a game should be played.

In rivalry grudge matches, particularly when one of your star players has been knocked out of the game, it’s natural for teams to want to punish their opponent and the scoreboard is the natural place to do it.

Perine didn’t. When asked about the play after the game he explained, “I mean, what’s the point of scoring? We’re already up by two touchdowns. There’s only a few seconds left, so there’s no need to run up the score. I just did what I thought was the right thing to do.”

Coach Bob Stoops explained that taking a knee was all Perine’s idea, “God bless him. “What a class, character guy. It’s character. That’s him. Rather than padding his stats, just take a knee. No sense in running it up on somebody.”

This is typical of Perine. He plays like the coach is Vince Lombardi. Earlier in the game Perine crashed head–on into an OSU defender on the goal line and swept by him for the score. Instead of treating teammates, TV cameras and opposing players to 20 seconds of interpretive dance, Perine handed the ball to the nearest official and walked back to the huddle.

Like Lombardi said, he acts like he’s been in the end zone before.

While he’s got the ball Perine is all business and all contact, but even in this heated rivalry game he helped OSU players to their feet more than once. After the game he sits in the back of the interview room and lets other teammates bask in the spotlight.

The knee and what it signified might be Perine’s last regular season carry for Oklahoma. Perine is a junior. An average performance in the Sugar Bowl will put him ahead of Owens and probably ahead of Billy Sims, giving him the all–time Sooner rushing record. He’s eligible for the NFL draft and as my son says a running back’s body can only take so many hits, to Perine may as well be rich when he’s bruised.

If he leaves, I’ll miss watching him, but what a way to finish.

Thirty–seven carries, the most by one running back in the last 27 years, 239 yards, one touchdown for the record books and one he decided to donate to sportsmanship.

McConnell & Ryan Join Trump Troika Under Duress

It appears the Trump, McConnell, Ryan honeymoon is over before the marriage was consummated.

term-limits-adSure Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan made the right noises just after Trump’s astonishing victory. On the Senate floor McConnell said, “Speaker Ryan and I have had productive discussions with the president-elect last week and we’re both looking forward to working with him.”

McConnell was even ready to take on Obamacare, “It’s pretty high on our agenda, as you know. I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward and keep our commitment to the American people.”

Yes it’s been on Mitch’s “honey–do” list for almost a decade, just under “defund National Endowment for the Arts,” “zero out PBS” and declare war on North Viet Nam.

I always had my doubts as to the durability of this menagerie of three. As 1 Corinthians 14:8 advices: “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?”

And as McConnell has proven over the years his whoopee cushion call–to–action inspires neither his troops nor the voters. (For complete details on McConnell’s reluctance to fight for conservative principles see my earlier column here.)

Now that Trump is serious about “draining the swamp” and the denizens thereof, not only is a divorce in prospect — the fight over who gets custody of the GOP is going to be nasty. In a post–election interview with “60 Minutes” Trump declared, “We’re going to put on term limits, which a lot of people aren’t happy about, but we’re putting on term limits. We’re doing a lot of things to clean up the system.”

That choking noise you just heard was McConnell gagging on his Senate Bean Soup.

So what’s the time–server’s response and the Trumpista solution? You can find out by clicking the link below and traveling to my Newsmax.com column:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/president-elect-trump-mcconnell-paul-ryan-term-limits/2016/11/22/id/760234/