Another double posting today just a little diversion from the news. 127 and 128.
Wednesday I started the routine I was working into; a VCATS to home, the daily security briefing and updates with the security teams and the joint chiefs.
After that Troy and my aides went through the rest of the budget. In it we identified twenty seven sub-agencies that I felt could be eliminated and save several billion. They were agencies that I felt had outlived their usefulness.
There were a group of agencies I wanted changed in the DHS, HHS and Agriculture departments. Those agencies administered the programs that dealt with illegal immigration along with the courts.
In this morning’s search into today’s budget numbers, those agencies had asked for billions extra for continued illegal immigrant funding – up twenty percent from last year.
I had that massive research department of mine tackle the problem. I wanted to know why it was so high and had not declined in a decade. I knew the number of new immigrants was down now over the last three months. The security zone numbers were practically zero. So why a twenty percent increase?
If they were here illegally they needed to be sent home. If they were here legally through some program, why were they still getting money when they should have jobs and be self sufficient as good as the economy has been?
If they weren’t and had been here any length of time, then they had no interest in being part of America, only freeloaders. The intent of immigration was to allow the individual to become part of a productive and contribute to the American dream.
There needed to be limits on the time for many of the aid programs. Free money was as addictive as any drug. Like all drugs it bred contempt, laziness and the attitude that one deserved more and more.
My idea was two years financial aid, reduced by fifty percent for the third year and then ended. If you had not been able to join Americas dream by then you needed to be sent back to your home country.
The only people that deserved long term financial aid were Social Security recipients- they had paid all their working lives with the promise it would be there for them. Veterans because they earned it – many with some kind of disability including mental conditions that lasted a lifetime.
Disability through SSA was for those truly disabled. The list of deserving ailments was growing, mostly because of trial lawyers, special interest groups and union attorneys that thought they deserved a handout and convinced Congress they did.
I decided that people from those agencies needed a place on the hot seat to explain things to me in person. The DHS was easy; they were under Eric and I saw him daily.
Jack Carol was the Secretary of Agriculture; the nutrition programs were under his agency. Ruth Packard was running part of the nutrition programs. Dirk Blake was in charge of the rest, according to Troy.
I remembered the names after Troy said them. President Thomas was always angered after meetings with them. It seemed there was no real accountability from them and always a reluctance to discuss policy changes and they were experts at double-talk. Reports from them were always delayed.
But they were favorites of several members of the Senate and the House.
I asked Connie to get transcripts of all the recent conversations between President Thomas and the group. Then I had a thought – I wanted transcripts of the calls and emails of the three and anyone in Congress they called.
I called Bob Smith and told him what phone and email transcripts I wanted and why.
When we were finished I vetoed the budget and sent my list of objections back to the House and Senate.
I sent a note to Harry with the reasons highlighted to announce that the proposed budget had been vetoed and sent back to Congress. Let the fun begin.
Connie and Kitty Winn were beginning to figure out how I wanted things done and what I wanted to do with them. My desk and the table I had asked to be placed in the Oval Office were stacked neatly with the documents for my scheduled meetings so I could be prepared for them.
Every time one of them came in, they had fresh hot coffee for me.
One of the unscheduled meetings was with Adam Pierce. He had an outline done for the State of the Union speech (SOTU) and wanted to quickly go over it; if it suited me, he would fill in the dialog with the normal gibberish.
The other meeting that popped up was with the Ambassador Fazel Al Farsi of Pakistan. He had called earlier in the day asking for an emergency meeting. I knew what he wanted; he was waiting in the lobby.
”Madam President, it has been a while since we talked. First I must express my sorrow for the attack on your convoy while you were visiting. My country has arrested and will try all the members of the group that attacked you.”
”I do hope that you and all the members of your team have recovered from your injuries,” he said.
”The attack has placed a dark cloud on your abilities to provide security for visiting diplomats. Hopefully it will not take long for the cloud to go away. Swift and proper maximum punishment of the culprits will certainly help,” I said.
”I was informed that the request to meet was urgent,” I said to move the conversation long.
”Yes. My Prime Minister was asked by friends if I would deliver a letter to you. I am reluctant to do so given the difficulties there have been with them and your country. But I must do as the Prime Minister directs,” he said as he handed me the letter.
”I will not be able to send a reply today as I must wait for all the appropriate individuals to read it and have expressed an opinion. That will take a day or two,” I said.
”I will call you when the reply is ready,” I added.
We talked for another 10 minutes – mostly international politics and the issues in the Middle East – before he left.
Policy dictated that the President opened no packages or letters until they were checked for chemicals, powders or any other substance. The FBI carried it to the US Postal Service center for decontamination. It would back in an hour.
While I was waiting, one more unscheduled event happened. Troy came in to tell me Supreme Court Judge Agnes Copeland was in the lobby asking to see me. I walked to the lobby to walk her back to the Oval Office.
Associate Judge Agnes Copeland was nominated by former President George Bush in 1993; she was eighty one. Her votes could not be counted on as conservative or liberal. She did tend to vote conservative on federal issues but more liberal on issues regarding states and individual rights.
We had a pleasant conversation about the courts, the presidency and my experiences with it so far.
”I am handing you my resignation, effective for the first of the month from the Supreme Court. I want to spend more time with my children and grandchildren. I’m not a spring chicken anymore,” she said as she handed me the letter. It was written on her official court stationary.
”I reluctantly accept the resignation, I understand completely your desire to spend more time with your family. I trust your health remains good so you get to enjoy them for a long time,” I said.
”Would you like to go to the media center to make the announcement yourself?” I asked.
”No, I will have a court spokesperson make the announcement tomorrow in the daily news briefing,” she said.
”I will not make an announcement until that happens. The nation thanks you and owes you a debt of gratitude for your honorable service, dedication to court and constitutional law,” I said.
”After you retire, I wonder if you would have some time to school me on questions I have about challenges between the Congressional and Executive branches and the powers and limitations I have?” I asked.
”I would be happy to. But first I want to go to my see my twin grandsons in Hawaii; it’s their birthday February seventh. I want to be there for the party. I dread the flight – it’s so long that it will be tough on my husband and me. It’s a good thing my other son and daughter are going to help,” she replied.
”Tell me what day you want to leave and how many are going and I will see that you fly better than first class,” I said as I handed her a JBG business card with my personal cell phone number on it.
We talked a bit longer before she left. Life just became more complicated for me. My administration was just saddled with picking a new Supreme Court justice and getting the nomination through the Senate. I wondered if the Senate would even consider any nomination in an election year, but I was going to try.
I put the letter in my desk and locked it to make sure there would be no leaks until after she made the announcement. We would not start looking for a candidate until then.
The Supreme Court made its daily news briefing at 1000. I called Troy into my office.
”Schedule a special staff meeting at 1000 and send a notice to VP Harrison that his attendance is required. I want to discuss the updates from the Navy on the work at Newport News Ship Building and other issues,” I said – it was a cover not to raise suspicion about Justice Copeland’s visit.
I called the Chief of Naval Operations Patterson and told him I wanted a daily progress report on the ships at Newport News Ship Building at 0945 tomorrow.
The FBI agent brought the letter from Iran back from the decontamination center. It had been opened so they could check and then clean the inside and between any sheets. The FBI agent was sent with it for chain of custody and security.
I ran the letter through the translator program, then I had Ziva translate the letter and read it to me.
”The people of the country of Iran demand that you return the hostages you have taken. We also demand that you release the injured being held in Dubai. Their mistreatment, torture and any medical malpractice against them will not go unanswered.”
”The people of Iran demand that you compensate the families of the nine honorable sailors that your men killed to the price of ten million US dollars each and that you compensate the families of the injured being held ten thousand US dollars each for each week that you hold them.”
”The people of Iran demand that you pay full price for our fast boats. The cost of those fast boats is twenty four million US dollars.”
”In closing we demand you release our men and pay the compensation as stated immediately or we will be forced to take corrective measures against you and your men for failing to do so.”
Kars Marwan President of Iran
There was nothing in the letter directed at the United States; it was all directed at JBG. Had I known that I would not have accepted it but had him deliver it to Vicky and Andy. This weekend at home they could write the response that would be sent.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.
“… The intent of imigration was to allow the individual to become part of a productive (?) and contribute to the American dream.”
Okay, not so much a typo, but there is certainly something missing here. Without any additional wordsmithing, I believe the best single-word with which to complete that thought is probably “workforce.”
Off topic, may I say that seems like a marvelous ideal but I cannot see it becoming practical or effective policy with People involved. Then, again, fiction may as well be idealized. 😉
I came across a textbook about 50 years ago in a library, so it may have been even older. I don’t recall the author after all this time, of course, but I’m fairly certain the title was something to the effect of “General Theory of Bureaucracy.” While much was interesting reading, the one thing that I will never forget is the expressed concept that “Bureaucracies are created to solve problems, then staffed by People who (if successful in solving those problems) would be removing the need for their own continued employment.” While some few staffers may be idealistic enough to pursue such a goal, human nature will drive the majority to be ineffective solely to preserve their income.
Not only does that concept make perfect sense but, in the decades since I’ve yet to see a single counter-example of a Bureaucracy actually succeeding in solving the problem they were created to address. They (Bureaucracies) auditably “work toward” it, they actively pursue expansions of their scope, but they never solve the fundamental problem(s) which thich they were established to address. I observed some agencies will have Major Reorganizations about every two years like proverbial clockwork; one year to auditably prove they were still not doing well enough (which they excused by being “in transition”), then another year planning for the next Major Reorganization. ;-(
Back on topic, thanks for another great double installment in this wonderful epic.
Ludwig Von Mises “Bureaucracy” is a small volume containing that observation.