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October 2006 Archives

Backdoor Spending Authority - legislative glossary

Backdoor Spending Authority

Budget authority provided in legislation outside of the normal appropriations process. The most common forms of backdoor spending are borrowing authority, contract authority, entitlements, and loan guarantees that commit the government to payments of principal and interest on loans - such as Guaranteed Student Loans - made by banks or other private lenders. Loan guarantees result in actual outlays only when there is a default by the borrower.

In some cases, such as interest on the public debt, a permanent appropriation is provided that becomes available without further action by Congress.

From TheCapitol.Net's Glossary of Congressional and Legislative Terms, which can also be found in the Congressional Deskbook.

October 30, 2006 02:37 PM   Link    Legislative Glossary    Comments (0)

Discretionary Appropriations - legislative glossary

Discretionary Appropriations

Appropriations not mandated by existing law and therefore made available annually in appropriation bills in such amounts as Congress chooses. As defined by the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, it refers to budget authority - and the outlays derived from it - provided in the annual appropriations acts, other than appropriated entitlements.

From TheCapitol.Net's Glossary of Congressional and Legislative Terms, which can also be found in the Congressional Deskbook.

For federal budget process training, see our "Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations"

Congressional Deskbook 2005-2007, by Judy Schneider and Michael L. Koempel

October 27, 2006 06:17 AM   Link    Legislative Glossary    Comments (0)

"Poster Girl"

Beccy Cole sings "Poster Girl"

October 26, 2006 06:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

"Ten Percent Tip Teaches Waitress Valuable Lesson"

After receiving "subpar" service and experiencing an unusually long wait for his $4.75 lunch at a local Beefside Family Restaurant Monday, customer Gus O'Connor opted to give waitress Carla Hyams a reduced 10 percent tip in an attempt to communicate his dissatisfaction and raise awareness of the areas in which he felt her performance was lacking.

Hyams, 49, who has been serving tables at the popular eatery for 13 years, expressed enthusiastic gratitude for the "immense personal growth" the gesture will afford her, adding that, in the long run, the experience will make her a better waitress.
. . .
"If he hadn’t withheld that 50 cents, I'd make these mistakes over and over for the rest of my career," said the 49-year-old server.
. . .
O'Connor said his overall goal was not only to receive better service, but to help Hyams become a role model for her two teenage children, Tyler and Michael.

"Ten Percent Tip Teaches Waitress Valuable Lesson," The Onion, October 19, 2006

October 20, 2006 06:03 AM   Link    Dining    Comments (0)

Cynicism or critical awareness

If there were a prize for most-teased professor at BYU, Kerry D. Soper would likely win hands down. Soper studies comic strips--and the Simpsons and David Letterman and soft drink commercials and Saturday Night Live. And his colleagues don't let him forget it.
. . .
"People often confuse the value of products created by popular culture with the value of studying such products. If academics treat all cultural products as cultural artifacts, whether they are considered high art or low art, they will get much further in understanding society," [Kerry Soper] says.

For example, Soper says a careful study of satire trends reveals a disturbing development affecting Generation X and Generation Y. When satire got battered on the mainstream comics page, the venue shifted to magazines and late-night television shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live.

"This new generation learned the discourse of postmodern satire, which is an ironic, continual undermining of authority and a mocking of the earnestness of heroism. Everything is fair game for that kind of cynical, knee-jerk irony. It's the pose David Letterman takes on everything."

The result is that Generation Xers and Generation Yers tend to talk to each other in cynical, sarcastic terms, Soper contends. Pop culture has taught them that owning up to true emotions or ideals opens them up to mocking.

"It's not hip to be earnest. You have to say things in the right way to preempt possible mockery. Even advertisers have learned how to adopt the satiric pose. Companies like Sprite create ads that are self-satirizing. They mock other soft-drink ads and then conclude at the end, including themselves in their rhetoric, that 'image is nothing; thirst is everything.'"

To Soper the issue is not so much whether the cultural products are good satire or bad satire but that their marks are indiscriminate. Rather than taking careful aim at deserving targets, anything and everything is fair game, and consumers of such satire often end up with cynical perspectives instead of critical awareness. Soper believes that shedding light on such trends is important.

"A Serious Study of the Funnies: Studying comics and pop culture, a BYU humanities professor examines the role of satire in society," by M. Sue Bergin, BYU Magazine, Spring 2002

October 6, 2006 06:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Google-Like Pork Thing on the Internets

Bloggers have scored many significant victories in the political sphere in the past few years, bringing down some high-profile politicians in the process. Now they're starting to influence the legislative process, too. Which raises the question: Will they be around for the next phase, monitoring whether the projects they have pushed are funded appropriately and implemented properly?

A case in point: Earlier this year, members of the House and Senate took up the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. The legislation would, its backers said, "create a Google-like search engine and database" that tracks $1 trillion in federal spending on contracts, grants, earmarks and loans. The bill quickly attracted dozens of co-sponsors. But then some senator or senators placed an unpublicized hold on the measure, slowing its progress.
. . .
The watchdog organization OMB Watch is in the process of developing its own database of agencies' spending under a $234,000 grant. Officials at the organization say its site, which was slated to debut in beta form in early October, does much of what the proposed federal site would do. Other experts, though, have their doubts about whether $15 million will be enough to do everything the bill envisions. And even the folks at OMB Watch acknowledge that neither they nor the government will be able to create a fully Google-like site for federal spending.

"Blog-islation," by Tom Shoop,, October 2, 2006

Maybe it could be based in West Virignia and called the "Robert Byrd Google-Like Pork Thing" ... or in Alaska and named the "Ted Stevens Internets Pork Tubes" ...

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, S. 2590, on Thomas

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, on Wikipedia

October 2, 2006 06:27 AM   Link    Congress ~   Earmarks    Comments (0)

What not to do ...

Here is what you don't want to do when you are being booked by the police for DUI ...

Hat tip: Ernie the Attorney

October 2, 2006 06:07 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Men - do you wear a tie? Socks with your shoes?

The proportion of men in professional jobs who buy ties, a report says, has dropped from 70% in 1996 to just 56% today. And, to break that down (pay attention at the back, please), only 28% of office managers have bought a tie in the past 12 months. It is, however, floppy-collared architects and surveyors who are the biggest slackers: last year only a paltry 16% of them bothered to purchase a thin string of fabric to tie around their necks at 7 o'clock every morning.

These architects and surveyors are doubtless responding to the realisation that the tie is the sartorial equivalent of an appendix - an entirely redundant bit of kit left over from a much earlier phase of evolution.

"Uncool under the collar: The decline of the tie reflects a refusal to be defined by class - and a reluctance to point rudely," by Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian, September 4, 2006

Also see: The Sartorialist - do you wear socks with your shoes?

October 1, 2006 12:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)