I started putting this post together yesterday and didn't quite finish. It's a bit of a throwaway but even so, I might as well not waste it.
It all started in the White House.
After the no-alcohol years of the Bush administration, suddenly there was drinking again... and conga lines... and rock concerts [pictured above: Earth Wind & Fire]. According to Canada Free Press, it's been estimated that the Obamas spent "at least $10 million on 'drunken White House parties' in 2009 alone."
In a New York Post report titled "President party boy" (June 9, 2010), John Gibson recounted:
.... All told, during the last seven weeks of spewing oil and rampant unemployment, he has frolicked and danced through three major White House music parties:
* The black-tie tent bash on the White House South Lawn after the state dinner for Mexico's President Felipe Calderón, which featured singer Beyoncé.
* The Paul McCartney hootenanny -- a night of tributes to the former Beatle, which featured the president himself scooting onto the dance floor to join the Jonas Brothers in the long "la-la-la" closing refrain of "Hey Jude." (Plus, of course, McCartney serenading the first lady with "Michelle.")
* The Ford Theater event -- in which the president, taking a break from "kicking ass" on the oil spill, kicked back and relaxed to the song stylings of one-time "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, among other B-listers.
It was one thing when the president launched his White House days with a round of Martini Wednesdays, Stevie Wonder concerts, conga-line dancing and Super Bowl parties. That was before the gushing oil and before the employment picture defied the Obama hope-and-change cures.
Now it's different. Now the president's fascination with fun and parties in the midst of crisis has not only reinforced a feeling he's out of touch, but has migrated down the chain of command....
Last weekend, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel held a "super soaker" squirt-gun party at the veep's residence. Everybody ran around giggling and shooting squirt guns at each other. Members of the press covering Biden joined in, to their shame.
And last Sunday, presidential spokesman Tommy Vietor and Obama speechwriter extraordinaire Jon Favreau, both 29 years old, were spotted at a Georgetown bar, stripped to the waist, playing a game of beer pong with a gang of bare-chested buddies. (This game involves throwing a ping-pong ball into cups of beer -- loser drinks beer, winner drinks beer, everybody drinks beer.)
And who can forget the "first ever White House luau" for members of Congress and their families, back in June 2009 ( back when the national debt was a paltry $11.3 Trillion and just two weeks after he had proposed "PAYGO" rules for federal spending).
The Thursday luau is pretty much all the Hawaii-born-and-raised president's idea—his revamping, of sorts, of the annual White House Congressional picnic for members of Congress and their families.
Award-winning Hawaii-based chef Alan Wong is crafting the luau’s menu of contemporary Hawaiian cuisine, making use of as much Island-grown produce as he can get to D.C. The chef’s Honolulu eatery, Alan Wong’s Restaurant, has been a favorite dinner choice of the Obama’s onrecent visits to Oahu.
The South Lawn luau will also feature hula and music from Hawaii and the South Pacific by Honolulu-based entertainment company Tihati Productions. Daily newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser reported this morning that White House planners specifically requested Tihati add Samoan fire-knife dancers to the entertainment lineup. They’ll get six of ‘em—doing a fire-knife dance pyramid.
The fire-knife dancers will join a troupe of about 20 musicians and dancers, picked from Tihati luau shows throughout Hawaii.
The "Abondanza!" party atmosphere has trickled down, and today is seen throughout the federal government. The GSA, the Secret Service, even the federal courts, are all getting their bit while they still can.
Judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, federal district and bankruptcy courts in nine Western states and two Pacific island territories, along with lawyers practicing in those courts, and court staff, will gather at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa from August 13 - 16, 2012 in what looks like a less than valiant attempt to ensure American justice is being served...at a cost to taxpayers of approximately one million dollars.
From tennis courts to the caddy shack and luau experience, justice will be served in a manner many Americans never get to experience....
.... As in past years, the Ninth District seems content to leave taxpayers on the hook for whisking many judges and aligned judicial professionals off to an exclusive destination, so that they might also enjoy "yoga, surfing lessons, stand up paddle board lessons, Zumba (a Latin-inspired dance program), a tennis tournament, a day trip and tour of Upcountry Maui, a Gemini Catamaran snorkle trip, and an activity called 'The Aloha Experience.'"
The "Floor Action" blog at The Hill has filed a report on the judges' response to the outrage of Congressional Republicans:
Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday blasted the conference as excessive, and indicated that they expect the conference will cost upwards of $1 million and provide a chance for judges to partake in yoga, snorkeling and dance lessons.
Judges from the 9th Circuit defended their plans to hold a judicial conference in Hawaii in August, but said they are nonetheless reviewing a letter from two Senate Republicans that said the conference should be scrapped to conserve scarce federal resources.
"As part of the third branch of government, the 9th Circuit is fully aware of its responsibilities as a steward of public funds," 9th Circuit Executive Cathy Catterson said Monday. "The conference is authorized by law 'for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit.' "
[blah blah blah]
... in an email late Monday from Sessions's office, Republican staff.... noted that participants will get a $400 per diem, and asked,
"What message does it send during this time of grave financial duress?"
I shouldn't complain, but where have Sessions and Grassley been these last three and a half years? This seems to me to be a case of "too little, too late, but better than nothing." Though I like them both, I suppose we have Election Year Politics to thank for the sudden appearance of their Watchdoggedness.
Even if 2012 is not the Chinese Year of the Dog, I will certainly remember it as such. Lap dogs. Watch dogs. Obama eats dogs. Oy.