American Elephants


So You Want to Get a Passport— Heh, Heh, Heh! by The Elephant's Child

The Heritage Foundation has been doing a series in their Foundry blog on governmental red tape. As a devout anti-Big Government activist, this is right up my alley. “Rewarding failure is a fundamental precept of the Bureaucratic Code,” Heritage says.  In this case it is the State Department and passport fraud.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has investigated the State Department’s procedures for processing passport applications and found them troublesome, to say the least.  In 2010, an investigation found passports granted in spite of things like a 62-year-old applicant using a Social Security number issued in 2009, passport and driver’s license photos with a 10-year age difference, the use of a California mailing address, a West Virginia permanent address and driver’s license address, and a Washington D.C. phone number all on the same application.  No problem!

State Department officials plan to fix the problem by expanding the investigatory powers they have failed to use properly, and plan to impose new burdens on applicants for passports.

They are proposing a new application, Form DS-5513.  It would require the name and address of your every employer, your every supervisor’s name and the address of your every residence.  If you were not born in a hospital, or if your birth was not recorded within a year, you would have to supply:

  • The circumstances of your birth, including the names of everyone in the room when you were born;
  • Whether your mother received pre-natal and post-natal care and the names of the doctors and dates of the appointments for that care;
  • The name of your mother’s employer when you were born and her dates of employment;
  • Your mother’s address when  you were born and her address one year before and one year after your birth.

Good grief.  I couldn’t supply those facts for my own children! Each of them were born in a different hospital, I have no clue who the obstetricians were, and who else was in the room?  Sheesh, only a cubicle-enclosed bureaucrat could dream up such nonsense.  Department officials claim the new application will take just 45 minutes, on average, to complete.

This is number 10 in the Red Tape series.  Follow the Heritage link, and you can read about the other nine,  although I’ve ranted about several of them before. The mindset that thinks this sort of thing is acceptable is beyond comprehension.



Here’s Another Reason for High Gas Prices at the Pump! by The Elephant's Child

Here is a wonderful example of the way government agencies work.  The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service was a sub-agency ripe for a lot of finger-pointing after the Deepwater-Horizon Oil Spill, because there was a lot of checking-up that had not been done. Blame was about to descend. Voilá, the Minerals Management Service disappeared, and was replaced by the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Michael Bromwich, Director of the new agency, which is responsible for the drilling permit logjam in the Gulf of Mexico, has said that his agency is too understaffed to address the slowdown in permits.  No time, too much work , too little staff.  But Director Michael Bromwich insists that he now plans to divert his limited staff resources to the additional regulation of oilfield service providers and other contractors as well. At an Offshore Technology Conference in Houston Bromwich announced:

We have completed our review of the issue and have concluded that in fact we have broad legal authority over all activities relating to offshore leases.

We have barely 60 inspectors to cover 3,000-plus facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.  If it weren’t so troubling, it would be laughable.

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) is not amused, nor sympathetic.  He pointed out the hypocrisy in a letter to Bromwich. “Expanding the reach of your agency while simultaneously claiming you are “understaffed” is nothing short of confusing.” He asked the agency director to identify what staff he intends to direct away from their current responsibilities. (He would be astonished to get a response).

Vitter has placed a hold on a key Interior Department nominee until the agency issues at least 15 deepwater permits.  Since February, when Vitter placed the hold, BOEMRE has issued 12 permits.  Before that, it was zero.  Muscle matters.

Federal Judge Martin Feldman ordered Bromwich’s regulators to act on six pending drilling applications by Ensco Offshore who has filed a case against the government.

Whine, delay, fail to respond, claim overwork, claim understaffing, and grab for more power and more authority. Unfortunately, this is the way things work in our nation’s capitol. And why our oil production is expected to drop by a third this year. Go figure!




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