Guvs grumpy over proposed National Guard cuts

    Expect much harrumphing from governors over Pentagon plans to save money by thinning out National Guard troops.

    The brass aren’t happy at restrictions put on movements of Guard troops
    to hot spots like Afghanistan and Iraq, and want to redirect money away
    from the Guard to regular forces that can be more readily deployed. The
    Pentagon says the plan, to be included in next year’s budget, would
    leave the Guard with a force sufficient to deal with natural disasters,
    civil unrest and other domestic emergencies.

    But governors of
    the states and Guard leaders are gearing up to fight the plan with a
    lobbying blitz in Congress aimed at keeping Guard forces at current

    Swains looking for
    Valentine’s Day goodies take note: the bloom is off the idea of low-cal
    chocolate. Confectionary News, a publication that tracks the candy
    industry, reports that sales of low-cal and sugarless chocolate fell
    unexpectedly by a third last year. Your message this 2/14: If you are
    going for something really sinful, don’t be chintzy with the sweeter

    It’s not just members of
    Congress who are being given luxury vacations at spas and golfing
    resorts. The Senate Finance Committee is demanding that the Centers for
    Medicare and Medicaid explain the lavish partying that went on last
    year at the exclusive Don CeSar Beach Resort in Florida.

    session was supposedly a Tri-Regional Conference at which contractors
    earning more than $300 million in federal contracts were to discuss
    improving Medicare and Medicaid services. Finance Committee Chairman
    Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said his office found post-conference
    pictures posted on the Internet depicting lavish dinners, dessert
    buffets and beach parties that had nothing to do with federal programs
    for the poor and elderly.

    The burgeoning lobbying scandals roiling the nation’s capital are ringing few bells with voters back home.

    A Pew Research Center survey finds that only 18 percent of those asked
    were following the Jack Abramoff scandal. That compares with 40 percent
    of voters who are following news developments in Iraq.

    It took only minutes after the announcement that the Navy has decided
    to christen its next guided-missile destroyer after the late Vice Adm.
    James Stockdale for Internet wags to proclaim that the ship’s motto
    will be “Who are we, why are we here?”

    Stockdale is the former
    Vietnam prisoner of war and Medal of Honor winner who ran for the
    vice-presidential nomination with Ross Perot in 1992, and is fondly
    remembered for his anxious appearance at a televised debate, where he
    asked: “Who am I, why am I here?”

    The State Department is saying goodbye to the print edition of Hi
    magazine, a glossy effort launched in 2003 to portray American values
    to Arabic-speaking audiences. After spending $4.5 million, the
    government found that the magazine was having little impact, but is
    continuing the Internet version at

    In spite of special vetting procedures imposed after 9/11, federal
    investigators say they are continuing to unearth cases of illegal
    aliens who are getting work on military bases, at nuclear plants and on
    other supposedly secured sensitive federal facilities.

    latest case involves 11 illegal aliens found working on construction
    projects at a naval air station in Fort Worth, Texas. What’s
    embarrassing investigators about this development is that, just two
    years ago, new procedures were imposed after 21 illegal aliens were
    rounded up working at the same facility.

    In the last two months,
    illegal aliens have been uncovered working at hurricane-ravaged oil and
    chemical refineries in New Orleans, a military installation at Kirtland
    Air Force Base in New Mexico, at the White Sands Missile Range in New
    Mexico, and a Navy base in Belle Chasse, La.

    (Contact Lance Gay at GayL(at)