San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are You Really Free?

I was watching Fox News last night.  A lady reporter was conducting an interview with a fellow from St. Louis who had written something in his local paper about how veterans should not have funerals paid for by the taxpayers.  The man was a veteran himself and specifically stated that he would not permit taxpayer dollars to be used for his funeral.  His comments outraged the host of the Fox News show (it was a lady sitting in for Bill O'Reily).  Back on the set the lady was flanked by a man who was a member of the military brass.  He looked sharp in his uniform.  He took great offense at the idea that veterans of foreign wars should not be given funerals at taxpayer expense.  He went on a rather extended rant in which the usual platitudes were brought forth.  In particular he informed me that I am only free today because of the service of every person who has ever worn a military uniform.  He told me that I would not be free if the military had not either bombed or invaded Vietnam in 1959, Thailand in 1962, Laos in 1962, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Cambodia in 1968, Grenada in 1983, Libya in 1986, Panama in 1989, Iraq and Kuwait in 1991, Bosnia in 1995, Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2002, and Iraq again in 2003.  Although my puny mind was unable to make the connection between all of those wars and my personal freedom that was not what bothered me.  What bothered me was his assertion that I am a free man.  Am I free?
Freedom is a word that is used all of the time and rarely defined.  Allow me to make an attempt at defining the term.  It seems to me that freedom is more than just not being physically restricted.  By that I mean there is more to freedom than just not being in prison, jail, house arrest, or under some other form of control over my movements.  To be truly free I have to be truly free.  I should be able to do what I want, when I want, where I want, how I want and with whomever I want to do it.  I should be able to do all of these things without first having to seek and obtain permission to do them from some authority figure.  To be truly free I should have freedom of movement, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and the freedom to do whatever I want to do with my property.  In light of this understanding of what it means to be free, am I really free?  Consider the following:
  • I am not free to travel outside the Socialist Democracy of America and then return without having my Fourth Amendment rights disregarded when I must, by law, submit my person, papers and property to a search by government agents.  In other words, I am not permitted to re-enter my own country freely.
  • I am not free to travel by air within my own country without first having my Fourth Amendment rights ignored when I must, by law, submit my person, papers and property to a search by government agents.  I have the option of choosing my search parameters. I can either submit myself to a electro-magnetic strip search or I can submit myself to a physical search of my body that has historically been reserved for those who have been arrested and/or incarcerated.  
  • I am not free to purchase a new automobile that does not have air bags, despite the fact that I do not want them and I do not want to pay for the extra cost associated with having them.  I also do not want tire pressure sensors on my car.  Nevertheless, I am not free to buy a car without them.
  • Starting in 2014 I will not be free to purchase a new automobile that does not come equipped with a rear view camera, despite the fact that I do not want one and do not want to pay for one. 
  • I am not free to refuse to answer the questions coming out of the mouth of a law/rule enforcement officer when he pulls me over and detains me by the side of the road.  I know, some of you will say that I am free to ignore his questions and, technically, you are correct.  However, freedom also means a lack of coercion.  How many of us really believe that if we respond to an officer of the rules/law who has just pulled us over with the statement, "I plead the Fifth", we would not immediately receive a citation just because we got uppity with him?  Clearly all encounters with these uniformed weapons carriers are coercive in nature.  I am not free and neither are you.
  • I am not free to construct a new bedroom in my basement or put an extra room on my house without first obtaining the permission of the county authorities.  I am not free to build a house on my own land without first going through a veritable circus of permitting all required by the local authorities. 
  • I am not free to fill in a swamp on my own land lest I run afoul of the "wetlands" protection laws.  These laws are so stringent that I may not even ask for permission to fill in my swamp.  It is never permitted.
  • I am not free to give a glass of milk that came from my own cow to my neighbor's children without first pasteurizing it.  If I do I can be arrested and fined.
  • I am not free to pay just ten percent of my annual income in taxes to the governing authorities.  I must violate the principles of my own conscience and submit to their immoral decrees requiring me to turn over almost half of my income to them through the myriad of taxes they collect.  
  • I am not free to speak at a political rally in opposition to the candidate unless I have first placed myself into an area that is cordoned off and indicated by a sign that reads "Free Speech Zone".  Not surprisingly, these "Free Speech Zones" are physically small and a very long distance from where the actual speaking is taking place.  Indeed, does not the mere presence of a special "Free Speech Zone" indicate that every place outside of that zone is not free?
  • I am not free to drive on a highway near my house when the King is in town and anywhere within a three mile radius of my favorite highway.  The road will be closed until he passes.
  • I am not free to form a club that only includes men, whites, or Welshman.  If I do I will be subject to lawsuits for discrimination.
  • I am not free to refuse to rent my property to a couple that is living together outside of marriage.  To do so would subject me to lawsuits for discrimination.
  • I am not free to refuse to sell my wares or to give service to anybody with whom I have a disagreement regarding his sexual orientation.  To do so would mean I have committed a "hate crime" and would subject me to serious fines and imprisonment. 
  • I am not free (except in Las Vegas) to walk down the street drinking an adult beverage.
  • I am not free to smoke in privately owned restaurants, even if the owner has no problem with my smoking. Furthermore, I am not free to open a restaurant that allows smokers to smoke in a separate room with a state-of-the-art ventilation system that ensures nobody outside of that room can get even a whiff of smoke. 
  • I am not free to not provide health insurance benefits to my employees that allow them to obtain abortions at my expense.
  • In 2014 I will not be free to make the decision to go without health insurance of my own.
  • I am not free to put a handrail around my deck unless it has a finger groove cut into it.
  • I am not free to give my friends legal advice without a government license.  I am not free to give my friends medical advice without a license.  I am not free to give my friends investment advice without a license.  I am not free to drive people to the airport for a fee without a license.  
  • I am not free to withdraw more than 10,000 dollars in cash from my bank account without having the transaction reported to the FBI.  If I get pulled over by an officer of the rules/law while carrying that amount of cash it can be immediately confiscated under the guise that I am presumed to be guilty of violating some SDA drug law.  I am not free to keep my own cash.
  • I am not free to open an investment account with my broker unless I have first disclosed the source of the funds I am going to invest.  He is then required to report that information to the FBI.  He is not free to keep my confidential financial records just between the two of us.
  • I am not free from any of the multitude of violations of the Fourth Amendment that come from the falsely named Patriot Act.  I am not free to send emails without having them subject to FBI surveillance.  I am not free from having my phone wire-tapped.  
  • I am not free from being executed by a drone launched missile if the King of the SDA capriciously believes that I am an enemy combatant.
I think you get the point. These twenty four items showing just how non-free I am just scratch the surface of the government intrusions into my life.  I am sure you can think of many more.  If SDA soldiers have engaged in all of the wars I listed above in order to make me a free man today, I am forced to say that their actions have been in vain.  All of their wars, all of their killing, all of their bombing and all of their covert activities have not purchased an ounce of freedom for me. 
There is only one part of my life where I am truly free.  I am free from sin.  I join with Christians all around the world today in memory of what our Lord accomplished on the cross this Good Friday.  On this day about two thousand years ago God the Father took out His wrath on His Son on our behalf.  Because of His substitutionary atonement I have propitiation for my sins.  I am a free man indeed.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nanny State Gains Ground In Colorado HOA Statutes

I was watching the local television news last night when a report came on about two new pieces of legislation that were introduced to the Colorado legislature by two air-headed female legislators.  The two new bills deal with Colorado statutory law related to homeowners associations.  As I have been a member of various homeowners associations for most of my adult life, the report got my attention.  In fact, I have sat on boards of homeowner associations for about twenty years of my adult life.  I am also a voluntary member of a homeowners association as I write this piece.  In fact, I have selected the places I have lived in over the years specifically because of the presence of HOAs that would enforce rules I wanted to live under.  So, what did these two ladies have to say?
The first woman (her name escapes me) told the reporter that Colorado was living in the dark ages when it comes to homeowner association regulation.  Whew, I thought, finally somebody has come riding to the rescue by proposing to give us many more laws about how homeowner associations should operate.  If there is something the citizens of Colorado definitely suffer from it is a dearth of laws related to the regulation of homeowner associations.  Who cannot benefit from a dramatic increase in the number of laws, rules and regulations we are required to live under?  I think we are all aware of how dangerously under regulated we are.  This legislator informed the reporter, and the viewing public, that Colorado essentially has no body of statutory law that applies to homeowner associations.  Now that really caught me by surprise.
Did I mention I have served on homeowner association boards in the past?  While serving on those boards I frequently had to examine the relevant statutes regulating HOAs in order to advise my fellow board members on proper actions to take under various circumstances that would come up in the course of pursuing  our duties.  To simplify the process I downloaded a copy of the "Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act" (CCIOA).  This act can be found at Article 33.3 of Section 38 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.  It contains 319 separate provisions and goes on for 73 pages with various descriptions of those provisions.  That hardly seems like a complete lack of HOA regulation to me.  I wondered to could an elected representative who specializes in HOA regulation be totally unaware of the CCIOA?  I wondered could a Colorado legislator stand there and tell me that there is essentially no regulation of HOAs in Colorado when I have 319 separate regulations pertaining directly to HOAs sitting on my computer in a PDF file?  I can only conclude that this Colorado Nanny is either lying or stupid.  Or, it could also be some combination of the two.  She could be a stupid liar.
After telling the viewers that Colorado is in desperate need of more laws regulating HOAs, the legislator went on to say that her primary goal with this proposed bill was to require that all HOA management companies be "licensed" by the state.  After all, she went on, this is a matter of public safety.  Apparently someone has been telling her that rogue management companies have been messing with the hundreds of thousands of people who are members of HOAs in Colorado.  Her law was being proposed to make sure that never happens again.
What does her licensure proposal entail?  Will HOA management companies be required to have copies of the CCIOA on hand at all times?  They already do. Will HOA management companies be required to complete some sort of training and then pass a state administered test showing they have minimal abilities at managing HOAs?  Nope, that wasn't part of it.  In fact, all that her proposed licensure will require is that HOA management companies register with the State of Colorado and pay a fee, I suspect annually, for the privilege of doing business as a property management company in this state.  Obvious to all, I presume, is the fact that this proposed bill is nothing more than a revenue maker for the state.  Maybe this woman is not so stupid after all.
The second air-head to address the camera (her name also escapes me) told us that HOA boards were out of control.  She described several situations where managers would actually enforce the requirements of the association's covenants upon the members of the association.  This would sometimes result in people being turned over to collections agencies or, gasp, having liens perfected against their property.  This lady legislator was on a crusade to protect the little guy against the evil Board of Managers intent upon taking his property.  Picture Snidley Whiplash and Sweet Nell and you get the idea.  As so many socialist legislators are prone to do, she equated the Board of Managers of an HOA with a profit seeking bank and the members of the HOA with people horribly oppressed by the greedy intentions of the evil bank managers.  This lady needs a dose of reality.
Let me let you in on a little secret.  In my many years sitting on the Board of Managers for various HOAs, I have never witnessed a member of the association ever confessing to having done something contrary to the covenants.  Never!  I have sat in on literally hundreds of hearings where cases of covenant violations were being discussed.  In every single case, without exception, the person charged with the violation denied having done so.  In many of those cases I had personally witnessed the violation and, in some cases, I was the one bringing the charge.  Every single person, to a man (or woman), sat there and lied about what he had done.  I could go on and on telling you story after story of how these people lied.  I had taken a video of one man who allowed his dog to run freely in a common area, in direct violation of the covenants.  When confronted he adamantly asserted that his dog never runs freely and most certainly had never run freely in the common area.  You get the point.  Now, our Nanny legislator wants to shield people like this from the consequences associated with their actions.  Now our Nanny legislator is trying to tell us that the Board is evil for enforcing the rules all members had previously agreed to live by.  Now our Nanny legislator is telling us that the little guy, no matter how many times he violates the covenants,  is always morally pure and righteous altogether. 
Most bothersome to me about the second proposed bit of legislation is that it overrides existing covenantal provisions.  In particular, in a nod to the greenies that surround us, it states that any member of an association who wants to personally engage in "eco-friendly"  management of his property can do so regardless of the existing terms of the HOA covenants.  In other words, if my HOA forbids xeriscaping I can now do it anyway.  If the HOA brings a charge against me for violating the terms of the covenants, the HOA is overruled by the new statutes that allow me to xeriscape.  If I decide to let my lawn die through lack of watering and the HOA fines me for letting it die, I can flee to the new statutes of the nanny-state for protection.  The Nanny State of Colorado has virtually rewritten every HOA Declaration of Covenants in the state without the permission or consent of those members who voluntarily entered into agreements to live under the terms of those covenants.  That is an egregious abuse of authority and should result in the impeachment of those two air-headed legislators. 
My voice, of course, will be the lone voice of protest.  These two ladies will be praised for their tireless work and selfless dedication to the common man.  They will likely get plaques describing their supreme virtue at some future awards ceremony.  Meanwhile, all they have done is put another brick in the wall that is undermining our right to free association.  One more link has been forged in the chain of bureaucratic control and micro-management of our lives and wrapped around us.  They have intruded into our lives and told us that we are no longer permitted to form voluntary associations and then choose to live in those associations in subjection to rules and regulations we all want enforced.  No, they have clearly informed us that they are better than us and, if we know what is good for us, we had better respect our betters.

Update:  September 24, 2013

There is an error in what I reported above.  This phrase is wrong:  "all that her proposed licensure will require is that HOA management companies register with the State of Colorado and pay a fee".  As it turns out, management companies that voluntarily contract with HOAs in Colorado will be required to provide credentials to the state and take a test proving proficiency.  For further information go to my September 24, 2013 blog posting on this topic.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two Men Were Murdered Last Week, One Mattered

The front page of the Denver Post yesterday featured a headline story about Tom Clements.  The headline read, "He lived his life believing in redemption and the ability of the human heart to change."  Underneath that headline was a large picture of his family eulogizing him at a church in Colorado Springs.  An enormous photograph of Mr. Clements graced the stage where they stood.  The first line of the story said, "Lisa Clements' voice warbled with grief.  Before her on Monday sat more than 1,000 people, most in uniform, for the memorial service for her husband, slain Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Tom Clements."
Those of you reading this post who live outside of Colorado might not be familiar with the story. Clements, who lived in a wooded neighborhood along a high ridge that separates Denver and Colorado Springs, was murdered execution style a week or so ago.  He answered the door early in the evening and was shot and killed by a man dressed in a Domino's Pizza uniform.  Due to the circumstances surrounding the murder and the nature of Clements' job, speculation immediately began that this could have been some sort of hit by a disgruntled prisoner or ex-prisoner.  What happened next was very interesting.  The story shot to the top of the nightly news.  The governor immediately assigned armed body guards, paid for by the taxpayers, to ensure the safety of dozens of other people involved in the same sort of government work Clements had performed.  Apparently the governor believed a popular uprising against high level government employees could have been in the offing.
The story took a dramatic turn a couple of days later when the man who was responsible for the murder of Clements was involved in a running gun battle with police officers in Texas.  The high speed chase ended in a crash and the murderer was shot and killed.  Everybody breathed a sigh of relief now that the deranged executioner had himself been executed.  I don't know for a fact but I assume the governor told the body guards to stop protecting the government employees they had been assigned to guard.  There was nothing left to do but the eulogy.
Since then there have been dozens of stories about Clements on the nightly news and in the papers.  All of them have spoken of him in glowing terms.  We have been told that he "treated corrections as his calling".  I read that he "dreamed of opening a halfway house for troubled men" and that "his belief in rehabilitation stemmed from his faith".  Report after report drove home the point that Clements was a great man.  I have no reason to believe otherwise in regards to the reports about his character.  Aside from what appears to be a serious theological flaw (he clearly did not believe in original sin or the total depravity of man), he seems to have been a genuinely good individual.  His murder was a stupid and senseless tragedy.
Hundreds of uniformed government employees attended his memorial service.  I have always wondered about these "shows of force" by uniformed government employees any time one of their own is killed.   I think I have a handle on the desire of close-knit groups to show camaraderie for a fallen compatriot.  Still it seems a bit excessive to me when law enforcement personnel from states all around the country send delegates to these funerals.  That happened in the case of the Clements memorial service.  I wonder, are these government employees paid for the time they spend traveling to and from the service?  I know enough about human nature to know that I would be the first to volunteer to represent my branch of government employees at a memorial service.  It gets me out from behind the desk, or off the beat, and gives me a nice day off.  I can get paid, I suspect, for taking a nice drive on a warm spring day.  I will probably get a free meal.  All in all, not a bad deal for a day's work.
As I went to the Post Office yesterday I noticed that the flag had been lowered to half-mast.  Sure enough the governor had ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of Clements.  He is now being described as a hero.  In fact, he has the potential, or maybe I should say his public image has the potential, of becoming a poster boy for dedicated government servants.
Meanwhile, another man was murdered a couple of days prior to the murder of Clements.  His name was Nathan Leon, although his name is hard to find in media reports.  He was a Dominos Pizza delivery man.  He was in his twenties and the father of three children.  He was working nights to make extra money for his family.  He went on a delivery run to a truck stop along I-70 in Denver and never returned.  His body was later found in an open field near my home in west Denver.  As it turns out, he was murdered by the same person who killed Clements.  He was murdered for his Dominos uniform.  His story was only told as it related to Clements story.  I "googled" his name and every link that came up had the name of Tom Clements in the main body of the story.   Apparently his life only mattered as it related to the life of Tom Clements.  His story quickly disappeared from the newswires.  Since he did not hold a high level government job he was a nobody.  He was treated like a nobody.  Apparently his life did not matter.  Or, at least, his life did not matter as much as the life of a man who held a high level government job. 
There was no news coverage of his memorial service, if he had one.  The governor did not order armed guards to accompany pizza deliver drivers until his executioner was caught.  Apparently pizza delivery drivers lives are not as important as the lives of high level government employees.  There were no photographs in the newspaper of his wife and children eulogizing him.  In fact, it was almost as if he never lived.  It was almost as if, when compared to a high level government employee, his life just did not matter.
John Denver wrote a song a long time ago that contained the following lyrical question:  "Is a hero's blood more righteous than a hobo's sip of wine?"  According to the governor, it is.  I am not sure I agree with the governor's position.  Two men were murdered in Colorado last week but apparently only one of them lived a life that mattered.  How sad.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Is A "Regime"?

Webster defines 'regime' quite simply.  It is "a form of government".  Oh that things were really that simple.  The Free Online Dictionary modifies that definition considerably.  In fact, it adds a significant moral connotation of judgment to the word.  The online dictionary typically defines the term and then uses it in a sentence.  Here is how the term 'regime' is defined:  "a form of government" or "a government in power".  Things get interesting when the word is used in the sentence fragments that follow. The two sentence fragments associated with the term are:  "a fascist regime" and "suffered under the new regime."  By means of a simple turn of a phrase the morally unloaded word 'regime' turns into a morally loaded word associated with a despotic government.
I was watching Fox News the other night.  Fox News is hard for me to watch because I tend to end up suffering from stimulus overload.  I try to listen to the shows, along with listening to the numerous people who are hosting the shows, along with listening to the numerous people who are interviewed on the shows, along with reading the endless trailers, sometimes several lines stacked on top of each other, scrolling along the bottom of the television screen.  The other night, just before I passed out, one of the trailers caught my eye.  It said something about a "regime" being in danger of an insurrection due to the efforts of a group of people called a "popular uprising".  I did not notice the trailer quickly enough to find out which country it was in reference to, but that did not matter.  What mattered to me was the use of the word 'regime'.
I am fascinated at how the term 'regime' has come to dominate statist propaganda.  The use of the term in the history of the Socialist Democracy of America is telling.  Our government rulers and various career politicians and bureaucrats have commandeered the use of the term for their own purposes.  Consider some of these historical examples:
  • Manuel Noriega was a Panamanian citizen and CIA operative in Panama throughout the 1960s and 1970s.  He received training in military operations and psychological warfare on SDA military bases.  The CIA used him extensively in various operations that resulted in regime changes in south and central America.  During this time he came to be considered to be the worthy leader of the nation of Panama. When he took control of Panama as General Noriega in 1983 all seemed to be well. Six years later our rulers in the SDA decided that he was a despot and said it was time for a regime change. SDA forces invaded Panama and forcibly extricated Noriega.  He was brought to the SDA where he was tried and convicted of numerous crimes against the state.  He was imprisoned until 2007 at which point he was released and extradited to France to face additional charges.
  • The Mujaheddin in Afghanistan was a group of "freedom fighters" that were directly supported with SDA money and weapons when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the late 1970s.  Our rulers told us they were brave men standing against foreign tyranny and wanting nothing more than the right to control their own national destiny.  Fast forward to 2001 and many of these same men are now members of the Taliban regime.  The goal of the Taliban regime was the same as the Mujaheddin freedom fighters, sovereign rule.  The difference, of course, was that the group had previously sought independence from the Soviets but now was seeking to be free of SDA influence.  Our rulers determined that it was time for a regime change and went to war against Afghanistan to get rid of the group that had previously been our ally.
  • Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in 1968.  He was a member of the Ba'ath political party which was directly supported by the SDA via the CIA.  The rulers of the SDA believed that Hussein would be the best possible counter-agent to the Soviet presence in the Middle East.  Saddam and the various rulers of the SDA enjoyed a good relationship for decades.  Some even believe that Saddam asked and received permission from the SDA to invade Kuwait just prior to his doing so in 1990.  For whatever reason, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, using weapons that had been sold to him by the SDA, he was condemned for doing so and the first Gulf War erupted.  After the first war it was determined that Saddam Hussein was a tyrannical dictator and it was time for a regime change.  Gulf War II brought about the desired result.
  • At one time (under the SDA installed Shah) Iran was considered to be a good country.  Today it is a regime.  South Vietnam was a good country, North Vietnam was a regime.  South Korea is a good country, North Korea is a regime.  West Germany was a good country, East Germany was a regime.  Japan was a good country, then it became a regime, then it became a good country again.  The list of examples is practically endless, but I will stop now.
Am I the only one who sees a pattern here?  It seems to me as if there is one, and only one, thing that causes a sovereign foreign government to be labeled a regime and that is the fact that that country does not bow down to the SDA.  Any country that bows before the all powerful throne of the SDA is a legitimate county. Any country that does not is a regime and in desperate need of a regime change.  Now if our view of American exceptionalism is true, it necessarily follows that all of this is good and proper.  The doctrine of American exceptionalism, as you will recall, states that whatever the rulers of the SDA do is good because we are exceptional.  We are better than everybody else in the world and we know what is best for everybody else in the world.  We should meddle in the affairs of everybody else in the world because that is the only way the good can be maximized.  Under the terms of American exceptionalism, if you know what is good for you, you will bow down before us.  There does indeed seem to be a real bully on the block.  However, that bully is not who we are being told he is.
Our rulers tell us that regimes need to be changed for a variety of reasons.  Despotic rulers in foreign regimes oppress their citizens and take away their basic freedoms.  Freedom to assemble is restricted.  Freedom of the press is restricted.  Freedom to live their lives the way they want to is restricted.  Taxes are raised to subjugate the citizenry.  People are imprisoned at frightening rates and for excessively long sentences that do not fit the crimes.  Meanwhile, the rulers in these regimes live lives of luxury.  Every whim of the despot is catered to.  They live in a state of almost complete detachment from the citizens of the regime.  Public appearances are carefully crafted to ensure that no one from the public can get close to the leader.  A constant stream of propaganda emanates from the regime telling its citizens that they need to be patriotic and love their country.  In all cases being patriotic means loving the government and the military of their country.
Wow!  Is any of this starting to sound familiar?  It should.  It sounds just like the good old SDA.  By any objective standard of what a regime is, the SDA has to rank right near the top of what it means to be one.  Still, I believe it is highly unlikely that our government is going to turn upon itself and change itself from a regime into a good government.  And, since we are by far the biggest bully in the world, there is nobody else out there who can come and deliver us from our oppressors.  It looks like we are all going to be stuck with this regime for a long time. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Biden's Expense Account Is A Princely Sum

I posted an article to this blog back on October 15, 2012 about the size of King Obama's expense account.  You may have been surprised to learn just how much taxpayer money  he gets to spend on his various kingly activities.  The title of that post was "King Obama's Expense Account".  As I was looking around the web this past weekend I came across a CNN article about Prince Biden's expense account.  What it had to say astounded me.  Here are some excerpts from the story:

"(CNN) — If you think Paris is expensive, the City of Light costs a lot more when you’re traveling with the vice president.  Recent documents posted to a government website give a rare glimpse of Vice President Joe Biden’s overseas travel expenses.  Official business took him last month to Europe, a trip that included a bill of $585,000 for his one-night stay in Paris.  Also on the receipt was $321,665 for a limousine company and $459,338.65 for a hotel stay in London.
And while Biden was only in each town for one night, the London hotel bill, for example, included 136 rooms for multiple nights for his advance team, according to the documents posted on the website for Federal Business Opportunities and unearthed by the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard.
Was this deluxe or just routine?  Several officials from previous administrations said this is just what it costs to run a full-scale, overseas trip for someone like the president or the vice president.  One former official from the George W. Bush administration thought the price tag was high, but conceded there are a lot of factors that drive up the cost, such as compensation for emptying rooms or displacing guests for security purposes.  The vice president’s office referred CNN to the State Department, which said the costs are “nothing out of the ordinary.”  “They are in line with high level travel across multiple administrations. The contract costs cover the entire range of support, including accommodations for military, communications, secret service staff, and other support professionals.”   In addition, the department said, security experts are also required to travel in advance of the president or vice president.  “Safety and security are not negotiable,” the statement read.  A former senior White House staff member who served in a couple of Republican administrations and whose responsibilities included oversight of travel, said the hotel rate of $500 per night in London is “not bad,” adding it sounds normal to have as many as 136 rooms.  “It doesn’t seem out of line to me,” the source said.
The State Department has a contract with the Hyatt Regency London-the Churchill, the former official said of the necessary agreement in such cases so several floors of a hotel can be reserved at once.  The largest number of rooms for a trip normally goes to the Secret Service. Next comes the military, which sets up secure communications.  Following that are the medical unit and the stewards, who screen and serve food to the president, vice president or other top officials. 
As for the limousine to travel around Paris, the former advance official said that goes for the motor pool.  The vice president’s limo is flown in, but staff members on the trip didn’t take the Metro around.  They’re not allowed to drive themselves and tend to book normal cars and drivers with the motor company-but don’t necessarily take limousines. The $321,665 figure in Paris sounded about right, that former official said."

Am I the only person in the Socialist Democracy of America who thinks that our King and Price have lost their minds?  The Constitution of the United States (you remember that is the thing both the King and the Prince swear an oath to uphold while they are in office) says very little about the role of the Prince.  Article II of the Constitution describes the office of the Vice-President (Prince).  He basically does nothing until the President (King) either dies or becomes unable to function in his capacity as King.  Article I, Section 3 states that the Vice President shall be President of the Senate, although he shall have no vote unless the Senate is deadlocked, which, coincidentally, never happens.  That is it.  Besides being one heart beat away from the throne, the Prince effectively does nothing at all.  I suspect we all realize that the Prince is nothing more than a "gopher" for the King.  He gets assigned all the duties that the King does not want to do.  In the CNN story reported above, note that the Prince had to go visit the French.  Clearly King Obama did not want to spend any time with the frogs.  So he sent his Prince to do his dirty work.  That is where things get interesting.
No doubt Prince Biden did not want to have to spend much time with the Frenchies.  He probably does not like baguettes.  I have never seen him wearing one of those funny little hats the French like to wear so much.  I seriously doubt that he sat down in a gourmet restaurant to a meal of fine French wine and escargot.  So what did he do?  He ensconced himself in the most expensive hotel in Paris and had a nice little mini-vacation.  He paid $500/night for a room in London and his total bill in Paris was even more.  I wonder how many taxpayer dollars he spent for his night in Paris?  I don't know about you but I have never spent $500 for a hotel room.  I do remember once I spent $200 for a hotel room in Aspen, while I was riding on a bike tour, and I thought that was outrageous.  I wonder, what did the Prince get for the extra $300?  When I paid $200 for my room I had somebody come into the room while I was out and pull down my bedspread.  He or she also put a mint on my pillow.  I wish I had known that was what I was paying for.  I would have offered to pull down my own covers in exchange for a discount.   And I would have been more than happy to walk across the street to the local Kwik-E-Mart and buy myself an entire sleeve of Thin Mints if they would have agreed to shave a couple of dollars off my bill.
Apparently the Prince does not like to travel alone.  I can understand that.  Being sent all over the world on trips the King does not want to take can be lonely work.  What I don't understand is why he has to take 136 people with him.  I could see four body guards (one for each of the cardinal points of the compass to surround him as he walks about), a food taster (to make sure nobody slips some ground up frog legs into his smoothie), a tailor (to make sure his clothes are clean and well pressed), a chauffeur (who knows which side of the street to drive on over there?), and a personal secretary to keep track of his busy schedule.  So, according to my count, he can have an additional eight people with him on his journey.
I also do not understand why the Prince has to have 136 people arrive at his hotel several days prior to his arrival. What are these people supposed to do?  Are they looking for electronic spying devices in his room?  Are they really worried that some Frenchman might overhear Prince Biden confessing that he knew all along that Lance Armstrong was a doper?  Heaven forbid that sort of national security information might be leaked to the French eavesdroppers!
The more I think about his advance crew the more I can understand how one more person could be added to the Prince's entourage.  He could use one person to travel a day ahead of him to make sure that the hotel he is planning on staying with has not overbooked his room.  That happened to me once.  I was in some little town in northern Wyoming and discovered that my room had been double booked.  I got there last and was forced to find a room at another motel in town that just ended up being on the other side of the railroad tracks.  I kept my door tightly closed that night.  Friday night in a town full of drunken oil well roughnecks can be a dangerous place to be.  I can understand how we would not want our Prince to have to suffer that type of indignity.
There is one more thing I don't understand.  Why does the Prince have his limousine flown into town for him?  Of course I don't expect him to utilize public transportation.  May it never be that one of our elected officials should ever be required to be in the presence of some peons in a foreign country.  If they recognized him they might actually try to talk to him.  Some silly Frenchman might have the unmitigated gall to offer to buy him a pastry in some al fresco cafe.  We can have none of that.  But why can't he just rent a limo in the town in which he finds himself?  Why do the taxpayers have to pay for the cost of flying his limo around the world?  I really don't know the answer to that question.  Maybe his limo is stocked with his favorite DVDs so he can watch Looney Tunes while driving past the Louvre.  Maybe he has some good old American beer in his mini-fridge that he can drink while taking laps around the Champs de Elysee.  With the window tint being as dark as it is he can pretend he is a cyclist sprinting across the finish line in first place at the end of le tour.
I don't know.  It still seems like a lot of money to spend for a couple of nights in Europe.  Over one million dollars of taxpayer funds were spent for a night in London and a night in Paris.  Still, I am glad the military was with him.  You never know when the Limeys and the Frogs might conspire together to initiate World War III.