Man of the People

 

By: the Common Constitutionalist

Wow! Did you here the news? President Obama has announced he is taking a 5% pay cut. Shortly after his declaration, both billionaire Secretary of State John Kerry and Eric Holder joined him with their own voluntary cut in pay.

The president did so to show that he feels the pain of the little guy, the workers, the proletariat. Oh wait; it’s not the workers? No, it’s to show solidarity with furloughed federal (public sector) employees, although, when you dig a little, showing solidarity with temporarily furloughed public-sector employees is not very courageous.

You see, there is a big difference between a public-sector furlough any private sector layoff. This is a dirty little, unspoken and unreported fact.

When a private sector employee is laid off, that’s usually it. He is out of work and on his own. He has to look for other employment, or if his hours are cut he must find a way to supplement those lost wages. Okay, everyone knows that. So what?

Well, when the public sector worker is furloughed, is strictly temporary. When the budget gets ironed out they will be rehired. In most cases a furlough is not a layoff. It may come down to working a four-day week instead of five.

All right, that  can still put a crimp in anyone’s household budget. I agree, but here’s the kicker. When the federal budget is rectified the furloughed employee not only gains that fifth day back but also receives all the back pay for those lost fifth days retroactively.

Have you seen or heard that reported anywhere? No? It’s just another reason people want to work for the feds.

So what else has the King done to cut back to show solidarity?

Let’s see; after the family got back from Hawaii, Michelle and the kids were off to Aspen for some pre-sequester skiing. While the girls were away, the man of the people jetted off to Florida for a golf outing with Tiger Woods and Butch Harmon. Lucky for us it was just a weekend so it only cost us workers about $1 million.

Since we all know the Secret Service works free of charge it’s okay to double their workload and hours so that the family can take separate vacations.

After returning from Aspen it’s off to spring break in the Bahamas for the two princesses with their 15 to 25 Secret Service agents, while the president returns to work. My mistake; he jets off out West, hitting the campaign trail and schmoozing with Hollywood liberals on the left coast.

So that 5% pay cut means absolutely nothing to the informed citizen. It’s actually a bit of an insult, but the announcement of solidarity is not for us but for the ET/TMZ/MSNBC/NBC/ABC/CBS/PBS/CNN watching low information crowd. They will think it’s wonderfully generous.

Cocoa Island Resort

These photos are of one of the most striking tropical resorts on the planet. It’s Cocoa Island Resort, in the Kaafu Atoll chain about 500 miles southeast off the southern most tip of India in the Laccadive Sea, part of the southern Arabian Sea.

cocoa-makunu

 

Bungalow

 

Walk up to Bungalow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Umbrella

 

Bungalow in the Evening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cocoa-Island-Maldives

 

HammockNice View from Your Terrace

 

It’s a Jolly Holiday

Residents Alerted to Obamas’ Hawaiian Holiday Plans

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – KAILUA, OAHU

Residents living near the beachfront homes where President Barack Obama and First Family vacation with their friends every year since 2008 were alerted on Monday to some specifics ofthe Obamas’ holiday vacation plans.

The report delivered to residents living along the ocean and canal that surrounds the multi-million dollar homes at Kailuana Place where the President stays, informed  them of restrictions that will be implemented for 20 days beginning December 17 and running through January 6.Kailuana Place

In a matter of weeks, Kailua residents will see the familiar street barricades fronted by U.S. Secret Service agents and Navy Seals and the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in canal and ocean waters.

The President, who spent some of his childhood years in Hawaii, brings his wife, two daughters, Sasha and Malia, with dog Bo in tow, each holiday season. They settle into the small town community known for its spectacular sparkling beaches, warm turquoise ocean, rolling surf, country shops and restaurants and friendly people.

The homes where they stay are just a two-minute drive from Kaneohe Bay and the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where the Obamas and friends can access private white sand beaches kailua-beachand military workout facilities.

While many residents welcome the First Family, others are disheartened by the restrictions put on air, water and road travel while the President and family are in town, especially because it is the holiday season and many families on vacation want to use their boats or surf and paddle in the welcoming ocean waves fronting the Kailua homes. In addition, the President’s caravan of at least 22 vehicles including an ambulance can easily overwhelm the community that typically has single lane streets.

Adding to the controversy surrounding the President’s visit is the cost of the trip.

With the staff, special forces, local police presence and equipment, the President’s visit adds up annually to at least a $4 million vacation courtesy of the Hawaii and federal taxpayers.

While the President and his friends pay for their own rental homes, taxpayers pick up the cost of security and waterfront housing for the Secret Service, Navy Seals and Coast Guard as well as staff accommodations at a plush beachfront Waikiki hotel.

TRAVEL: $3,629,622

The greatest expense is President Barack Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air ForceAir Force One One.

A Congressional Research Service report released in May 2012 said the plane typically used by the President, a Boeing 747, costs $179,750 per hour to operate. The U.S. Air Force has listed the cost of travel as high as $181,757 per flight hour.

Travel time for Air Force One direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours or as high as $1,635,813 each way for a total of $3,271,622 for the round trip to Hawaii and back.

The cost for USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports the Presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii has never been disclosed in the years the President has traveled to Hawaii. However, the flight time between Andrews Air Force USAF C-17 cargo aircraftBase and Hawaii is at about 21.5 hours roundtrip, with estimated operating cost of $12,000 per hour. (Source: GAO report, updated by C-17 crew member). The United States Marine Corps provides a presidential helicopter, along with pilots and support crews for the test flights, which travel on another C-17 flight. That is $258,000, not including costs for the 4 to 6 member crew’s per diem and hotel.

The rentals are fronted by the ocean and backed by a canal. So, the taxpayers must cover the costs for housing U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Seals in beach front and canal front homes around where the President stays.

Last year, that added up to about $200 per bedroom per day, or $21,600 per average home for a nearly three week period, with special forces renting at least 7 homes. Security arrives ahead of the President costing taxpayers about $176,400 for the length of the visit.

The President’s staff and White House Press Corps typically stay at one of Hawaii’s oldest and most elegant hotels, the Moana Surfrider. Besides its stunningly beautiful view of Waikiki, and its traditional Hawaiian architecture and decor, it is one of the most priceymoana-surfrider hotels in the state and government rates are not available during the holiday season. Rooms  start at around $270 but can cost as much as $370 a night for an ocean view before Christmas, and climb much higher around the new year.

A conservative estimate with rooms at $270 (excluding a 9.25 percent Transient Accommodation Tax and a 4.712 percent General Excise Tax on each bill, meals, internet charges and other charges) means the taxpayers are covering more than $129,600 in hotel bills for some two dozen staff.

LOCAL TAXPAYER COSTS: $260,000

Local police are paid over time for the President’s visit, which has historically cost Oahu taxpayers $250,000.

The city ambulance the accompanies the President 24 hours a day through his entire visit is about $10,000 to city taxpayers.

UNKNOWN COSTS

There are several costs the White House annually refuses to release, citing security.

  • For example, the President’s security usually rents an entire floor of an office building in Kailua on the canal during the president’s stay.
  • There are security upgrades and additional phone lines to several private homes where Obama and friends are staying. That includes bullet proof glass installed, home security systems disabled, new security measures put into place and additional phone lines added.
  • There is the cost for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at a Waikiki Hotel.
  • And there are additional travel costs Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President.

The total cost (based on what is known) for a 20-day round trip vaobama-lazy-americans-congress-should-work-hardcation to Hawaii for the President and his family and staff and security is more than $4 million.

Hawaii Reporter annually has requested details on the cost of the President’s trip, but the White House will not release any figures, citing security concerns. A spokesperson has maintained the costs are “in line” with other presidential vacations.

Hawaii Reporter has sought to determine the cost of vacations for the current president and last two presidents but the Government Accountability Office referred Hawaii Reporter back to the White House spokesperson.

The Groundscraper

For most hotels the key selling point is a room with a view, particularly if it towers over a bustling cityscape or sprawling countryside.

But designers behind this new luxury resort have gone in the completely opposite direction to attract customers – by creating a ‘groundscraper’ hotel built 16 floors beneath the earth’s surface.

The hugely ambitious underground hotel project will see a 19-storey, 380-room structure chiselled out of a giant quarry in Songjiang, near Shanghai.

Designers have set aside a site about 30 miles from the city of Shanghai, in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Tianmashan Mountain.

While towering skyscrapers boast of rooftop restaurants and penthouse luxury, the InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland’s bottom two floors will include an underwater restaurant, athletic complex for water sports and 10-meter deep aquarium.

Surrounding the unique hotel will be a 428,000 square-meter theme park, complete with room for bungee jumping and rock climbing overlooking the descending 16 floors.

Project developers Shimao Property Group worked with British engineering firm Atkins to design the imaginative hotel, which they hope to complete in late 2014 or early 2015.

It is thought the vast project will cost at least $555 million, with nightly rooms starting at around $320.

Attribution: Mail Online

I Can Fly

The nation’s first ever zip-line roller coaster, the Rattlesnake, sends dangling riders flying off a 65 foot tower over treetops on a 1,000 feet long rail of sharp curves and plunging dips.

The eco-tourism ride, which lasts for about a minute, is set on the 4,700-acre Forever Florida conservation area in Osceola County.

The attraction is part of a $1.5 million expansion at Florida EcoSafaris in St. Cloud and opened Friday.

‘It’s inspired by zip lining, but it’s gone way past that,’ Matt Duda, sales and marketing director at Florida EcoSafaris, which opened the state’s first zip line in 2009, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Unlike the traditional zip lines the Rattlesnake does not follow a straight course.

‘It’s the evolution of zip line toward high-volume, high-capacity thrill rides. This is one of many ways that zip rides are going — further, faster and articulated turns.’

 ‘That’s the amusement-park ride aspect of this.’ Michael Smith, adventure-course consultant and operator told the Sentinel.

The Rattlesnake is only the second of its kind in the world, the first is similar ride at a park in Tulum, Mexico.

Emily Kaufman, a California-based travel expert known as the Travel Mom, who previewed the ride last month gave it her approval

‘It married a couple of things that I really love: The-zip line experience – the fantasy of feeling like you’re really flying – and a roller coaster. It wasn’t too intense, but intense enough,’ she told the Sentinel.

Zip Lines which began as a form of transportation have become more and more popular in the country.

‘Every single day I’m learning about a new tour. We’re seeing a boom simply because the population is desperate for activities that evoke imagination and inspiration.’

‘And you pair that with the green movement that’s going on – the connecting with the natural world – you have a product that sells itself on so many levels.’ Mr Smith said, reports the Sentinel.

The park’s expansion also saw several other rides opening today, including the Panther Pounce, a 68-foot freefall from an observation tower; Swooping Crane, where guests drop themselves from a height of 55 feet, creating a giant, swinging motion; and Peregrine Plunge, side-by-side, 1,300-foot straight zip lines.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

A man went to the confessional. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.”

“What is your sin, my son?” the priest asked.

“Well,” the man started, “I used some horrible language this week, and I feel absolutely terrible.”

“When did you use this awful language?” asked the priest.

“I was golfing and hit an incredible drive that looked like it was going to go over 250 yards, but it struck a power line that was hanging over the fairway and fell straight down to the ground after going only about a hundred yards.”

“Is that when you swore?”

“No, Father. After that, a squirrel ran out of the bushes and grabbed my ball in his mouth and began to run away.”

“Is that when you swore?”

“Well, no. You see, as the squirrel was running, an eagle came down out of the sky, grabbed the squirrel in his talons, and flew away!”

“Is that when you swore?” asked the amazed priest.

“No, not yet. As the eagle carried the squirrel away in his claws, it flew toward the green. And as it passed over a bit of forest near the green, the squirrel dropped my ball.”

“Did you swear then?”

“No, because as the ball felt it struck a tree, bounced through some bushes, careened off a big rock, and rolled through a sand trap onto the green and stopped within six inches of the hole.”

The priest signed, “You missed the putt, didn’t you?”

NFL Rules Updates

From Alex Marvez of Fox Sports

The NFL’s traditional “sudden death” overtime format died a sudden death Wednesday at the league’s annual owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.

NFL owners voted to adopt the same overtime rules for the regular season that are used for the postseason.

The team that loses the overtime coin toss is now guaranteed a possession provided the club that won the toss doesn’t score a touchdown on its opening drive.

The NFL instituted the postseason overtime rule during the 2010 offseason following the 2009 NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. The Saints won the overtime coin toss and drove for the game-winning field goal on their first possession.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and members of the NFL’s competition committee believed too many teams were enjoying an unfair competitive advantage by winning the overtime coin toss and proceeding to score without the coin-toss loser receiving at least one possession

The playoff overtime rule came into play for the first time in last season’s first-round game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos. Because the Broncos scored a touchdown on their opening possession, Pittsburgh’s offense never got to take the field in OT.

The NFL also voted to make review of turnovers by the instant replay booth automatic rather than requiring head coaches to use one of their two challenges. Reviewable plays include interceptions, fumbles, backward passes recovered by an opponent or those that travel out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone, and muffed scrimmage kicks recovered by the kicking team.

A rule proposal advocating that all challenged calls get reviewed by the replay booth rather than the on-field referee didn’t pass. Horse-collar tackles on quarterbacks in the pocket are also still permitted. NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay pointed to the fact such plays are rare and might not be preventable considering the unpredictable nature of tackling that happens during a pass rush.

“We just didn’t think this had an impact on player safety,” McKay said Wednesday morning after the vote was announced.

Other proposed rules changes that passed after receiving votes from at least 24 of 32 NFL owners:

• The banning of “crack-back” blocks on defensive players aligned more than two yards laterally outside an offensive tackle at the snap. This was aimed at improving player safety.

• Being caught with more than 11 players on the field before the snap becoming a dead-ball foul rather than a five-yard penalty that would be enforced after the play was run and time taken off the clock. This is to fill a rules loophole that was exposed during Super Bowl XLVI, when the New York Giants fielded 12 defensive players during a last-minute New England Patriots drive. There was a concern that coaches would begin illegally fielding extra defensive players to preserve a lead if there were no ramifications on the game clock.

• Illegally kicking a loose football becoming a loss-of-down penalty.

Proposed rules changes tabled for further discussion until the NFL’s spring meeting in May in Buckhead, Ga.:

• The addition of a game-by-game roster exemption for one player who has suffered a concussion and is not cleared to play. This would allow greater flexibility for clubs to sign short-term replacements without adversely affecting the roster. It also may lessen pressure on concussed players to return to the field prematurely.

• The ability to bring one designated player off injured reserve during the season after a minimum eight-week recovery period. All players currently placed on injured reserve are prevented from returning for that team during the season.

• The rescheduling of the NFL trade deadline from six to eight weeks into the regular season. The extension was designed to give teams greater flexibility to swing deals, especially those in playoff contention seeking to replace injured players or upgrade their rosters. Clubs that are out of the playoff race also might be more likely to begin early housecleaning before the offseason begins.

• The expansion of training-camp rosters from 80 to 90 players. Although the regular-season roster will remain at 53 players, one of the rule’s intents is to allow teams to better scout reserve talent that could serve as in-season injury replacements. Starters and key backups also would potentially receive less preseason wear-and-tear if more substitutes were available during practice

Joke of the Day

A Blonde’s Year in Review

January – Took new scarf back to store because it was too tight.

February – Fired from pharmacy job for failing to print labels……Helllloooo!!!…..bottles won’t fit in printer!

March – Got really excited…..finished jigsaw puzzle in 6 months…..box said “2-4 years!”

April – Trapped on escalator for hours ? power went out!!!

May – Tried to make Kool-Aid…..wrong instructions….8 cups of water won’t fit into those little packets!!!

June – Tried to go water skiing…..couldn’t find a lake with a slope.

July – Lost breast stroke swimming competition…..learned later, the other swimmers cheated, they used their arms!!!

August – Got locked out of my car in rain storm….car swamped….convertible top left open.

September – The capital of California is “C”….isn’t it?

October – Hate M & M’s…..they are so hard to peel.

November – Baked turkey for 4 1/2 days. Instructions said 1 hour per pound – I weigh 108!!

December – Couldn’t call 911…. “duh”….there’s no “eleven” button on the stupid phone!

Joke du Jour

A couple is in bed sleeping when there’s a rat-a-tat-tat on the door.

The husband rolls over and looks at the clock, and it’s half past 3 in the morning.” I’m not getting out of bed at this time,” he thinks, and rolls over. Then, a louder knock follows. So he drags himself out of bed, goes downstairs, opens the door, and there’s a man standing there. It didn’t take the homeowner long to realize the man was drunk.

“Hi there,” slurs the stranger, “Can you give me a push?” “No, get lost. It’s half past three and I was in bed,” says the man as he slams the door. He goes back up to bed and tell his wife what happened and she says, “That wasn’t very nice of you. Remember that night we broke down in the pouring rain on the way to pick the kids up from the baby-sitter and you had to knock on that man’s house to get us started again? What would have happened if he’d told us to get lost?”

“But the guy was drunk,” says the husband.

“It doesn’t matter,” says the wife.” He needs our help and it would be the Christian thing to help him.” So the husband gets out of bed again, gets dressed, and goes downstairs.

He opens the door, and not being able to see the stranger anywhere,

He shouts, “Hey, do you still want a push?”

And he hears a voice cry out, “Yeah, please.”

So, still being unable to see the stranger he shouts, “Where are you?”

The drunk replies, “Over here, on the swing.”

Joke of the Day

A 17th Century captain was sailing along with his crew when a pirate ship came over the horizon.

The captain says, “Cabin boy, get me my red shirt.” So, he gets his red shirt and they victoriously battle the pirates.

 Several days later, they spot another pirate ship off the port bow. “Cabin boy,” says the captain “get me my red shirt.” They again battle the pirates and are victorious.

Later when things had settled down, the cabin boy asks, “Captain, why do you always want your red shirt just prior to battle?”

The captain responds, “Well, in case I am inflicted with a wound, I don’t want the crew to see my injury and lose spirit.” “I see,” says the cabin boy.

A few days later, they sight 20 pirate ships in the distance the captain yells out, “Cabin boy, get me my brown pants.”