Congressional Reports, Boondoggles And Politics

I saw a few news items this week that I thought might prompt some good discussion as we're getting ready for the Submarine Force Birthday and "Wear Your Dolphins To Work Day" on Wednesday, April 11th. Without further ado:

1) Here's the new CRS report on Virginia-class submarine procurement. They've already backed off on the "2 boat per year" fiction they put out a few years ago by canx'ing the 2nd boat for FY2014, and the report analyzes what might happen if they cancel a few more boats in the coming years. Even without postponing any planned starts, the Submarine Force still drops below the 48 attack boat "floor" in 2022. [Update 0737 10 April: The CRS has been busy. Here's their report on the Ohio-class replacement.]

2) The latest government boondoggle to go public actually cost an agency head their job this time. One of the lines about the GSA conference in Las Vegas really jumped out at me:
The report shows that GSA employees "scouted" the location several times before the conference and that travel for conference planning totaled more than $100,000, with catering costs of more than $30,000.
Although I never got any "scouting" sweet gigs, I heard some stories from those who did (mostly aviators), but even they couldn't consume $30,000 in food and drink during their pre-event trips. About the best deal I got (other than 3 trips to Poland when I was at CENTCOM, and I did actual work during the day when I was there) was a week-long BSY-2 class at Lockheed Martin for the PCO, PXO, and I (the P-ENG) of PCU Connecticut (SSN 22) where they served us bagels with cream cheese at the introductory briefing; I thought I'd died and gone to JO Heaven. Did any of you get a Good Deal on the taxpayer dime? (Other than PNEO, which is a given.)

3) There's been a lot of Facebook discussion about the Marine who was recommended for dismissal for starting a Facebook group that was very critical of President Obama, and keeping it up even after being warned that it was against regulations. Personally, I was OK with giving up some of my First Amendment rights when I was on active duty, and I'm not a big fan of those who publicly use contemptuous words against the President while in the service. (I wasn't a big fan of it during the last Administration either.) Do you think that traditional regulations limiting the free speech of active duty servicemembers are appropriate? And for those who agree with the feelings of Sergeant Stein, in that you feel that the current President, who all evidence seems to show is in reality a pragmatic, fairly standard-issue center-left politician, is actually an America-hating socialist out to destroy the country, would you be willing to provide some specific predictions of how President Obama is threatening our freedoms? Something specific we can check out before the end of his 2nd term, like "Before January 2017, the Kenyan Muslim will have confiscated xx of my guns", or "Before November 2016, the Communist Usurper will declare martial law, cancel elections, and put xxxx Patriots in FEMA concentration camps".  We can check out the results of the predictions in a few years. (I did the same thing on other boards with those who hated President Bush before the end of his term, and had some fun bringing up the fallacy of their predictions in January '09.) For those who think he's already taken away all your freedoms by requiring that people buy health insurance, I'd also be interested to hear about your thoughts on why the Founding Fathers would have been so opposed to the federal government requiring a large number of citizens to buy a product from a commercial company, like, say, a musket or firelock.
Although I'm currently planning on voting for Gov. Romney, I really have a hard time understanding the hatred that's shown towards President Obama -- the same way I couldn't understand the hatred generated towards President Bush a few years ago. The spread of idiotic conspiracy theories, and the large number of people who are willing to believe any bad thing they hear about those they oppose -- no matter how ridiculous -- makes me worry for the future of our country. I strongly believe that those who spread idiocies should be called on it at every opportunity; maybe they can be shamed into providing at least some facts to back up their assertions.