CSotD: Financial Follies

Steve Sack comments on the Chinese woman who wandered into Mar-A-Lago with some malware and god knows what intentions, which also ties into the administration’s general “It’s okay: He’s with me” attitude towards security clearances.

The official response has been “See? We caught her! No problem!” but that’s a damn fool attitude.

We in the media used to get called to the border when they’d snag a major drug haul, but, while nobody ever offered an estimate of how many people they didn’t catch, they never pretended to be catching them all.

The whole Mar-A-Lago thing is kind of nuts anyway.

With other presidents, we’ve had security retrofits for their getaway spots, and I haven’t seen a breakdown of what that cost versus what we’re paying in hotel fees and golf-cart rentals for Trump’s security team.

On the other hand, when the Secret Service has put in security features at a presidential retreat, there was surely some kind of bidding process involved. It would certainly have raised eyebrows if a previous chief executive had put his own people to work on the project and then pocketed the money.

Though Nixon raised plenty of eyebrows — including Herblock’s — when the expenses for San Clemente, both taxpayer-funded and fat-cat donated, were revealed during the Watergate investigations.

Here’s an interesting summary of the whole thing, which includes this:

When Nixon would show up — and he stayed for as long as a month — an entourage of Secret Service agents, advisors and Cabinet officers would accompany him, renting 60 hotel rooms, eating in local restaurants and shopping in local stores.

Camp David is a nice cheap place to get away for a weekend, and most presidents have been happy to use it for quick, short breaks.


In the days before air conditioning, however, presidents often left Washington for the summer. McKinley used to visit the Hotel Champlain in Plattsburgh, NY, and Benjamin Harrison also favored the Adirondack region for avoiding Foggy Bottom’s ghastly summer heat.

It was easier to get away in those days, in part because the US was somewhat isolated, though McKinley worked hard to end that, and also because we didn’t expect communication or transportation to be instantaneous.


In fact, in 1903, Roosevelt famously took off two months to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, a trip that helped solidify the conservation movement but that just involved a couple of bodyguards whose presence was barely noted, except when TR would shake them, and the press, to have some time alone in nature.

Simpler times.

But, certainly, times in which Presidential Vacations might have cost the boss a little money rather than making him any.


Speaking of Emoluments

March Madness is nearly over for the year, and Mike Thompson notes the money which has changed hands without the athletes getting any of it.

Those who support serfdom will point out that student athletes get an increasingly expensive education, though those who support reality will point out that many schools are lax about the quality of that education while many of the athletes themselves are increasingly lax about sticking around for four years.

I’ve known athletes at Division I, Division II and Division III programs and they all enjoyed playing, most took advantage of the education, but only the Div I kids brought in millions of dollars.

That money is shared across the university in one way or another, so there’s no need to be sidetracked by the assumption that it only fattens the athletic department, but here’s where logic and fairness intervene:

It’s true that the coach at a state’s flagship university makes more than the governor, but he (pace, Muffet) is bringing in those millions and deserves a taste.

The real issue is why the athletes don’t also deserve some share of the revenues they generate. Avery Brundage has been dead for more than 40 years and so has his elitist view of amateurism.

And let me further point out that graduate students often get a living stipend, and I don’t see the networks bidding to broadcast their work.

We can debate the value of big time college sports, but there shouldn’t be much debate about this: If you’re going to run a program that generates millions, pay the workers.


Constructive Criticism

Prickly City is done enough in advance that Scott Stantis cannot be addressing King Features’ redesign of the Comics Kingdom website, but the shoe does fit, if a bit indirectly.

Daily Cartoonist, like Prickly City, is an Andrews McMeel property, however, I have always attempted to play fair, featuring and applauding strips from King and other sources.

And I want to be fair now, but — as noted elsewhere here — there’s a lot wrong with the new website.

It’s not clear whether the strips are smaller; it may be an optical illusion caused by the surroundings, but there is too much surrounding, such that you can only view one strip at a time rather than two as in the past, while the limit per page requires what is on my relatively fast computer a 30-second reload between pages.

This disrupts the reading of strips and I have, instead, created a bookmark file with the individual strip’s websites so that I can use “Open All” and then leaf through them by Ctrl-W’ing as I go.

It’s a cure for the problem but reduces my motivation to be a paid subscriber.

“The easiest thing for a reader to do is to stop reading.” – Barry Kilgore/Wall Street Journal

However, I maintain my subscription for the sake of the Vintage strips. Two problems there: One is that I can’t put them in the order I would like, so I have to scroll past Sundays I’ve already seen to get to dailies I haven’t. The other is that it no longer displays their original dates, which is a major problem in recognizing their context.

As for Winslow’s remark about small strips, newspaper shrinkage has taken much of the joy of comics out of the print experience, but sites like Comics Kingdom and GoComics are a very strong alternative. Or should be.

I hope that King will not sit back and simply hope people will adapt to a site with multiple, major, fixable problems.

Several of my very favorite strips are at King and I want to be able to enjoy them.

Please fix it.

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Financial Follies

  1. I dont know about other schools, but any income generated by the athletic department at a few of the universities in NC stays in the athletic department at those universities in NC. It is not put in the general fund. It’s how Duke’s basketball coach can be paid more than the school’s dean and how its athletic centre is so cutting edge, your teeth hurt, even as other departments have to scramble to find the funding for a single bunsen burner.

    And yes, we’re talking about schools that had recently uncovered scandals in which these guys were given paper courses whose minimal requirements most didnt even fulfill. I have little doubt that NC is unique in this regard, and I”m not surprised that nothing has happened as a result of the uncovering of all this. There are some places, like Duke, where the quality of education is so poor for the amount of money spent on tuition that it doesnt surprise me that one of their biggest marketing angles for new students involves shoving the basketball and football teams front and centre. The sciences? The arts? The humanities? Pfft! “We got ourselves uh wuhrld-class basketball team!” That’s their selling point these days.

    As for the athletes getting paid for their efforts, sorry, no. If they want to put athletics over a real education, then let them see how far that takes them in the real world. I dont want to be a hard-rear-end on the point, but that’s a choice they have to make. And most of them, to be blunt, chose wrongly. As far as I’m concerned, they’re willing enablers of this whole system of athletic exploitation. The problem isnt whether or not they should get paid so much as maybe someone needs to look at the NCAA, the TV networks, and the universities to talk about the hideous amount of coin thrown at “amateur” athletics.

  2. I agree with your comments about the changes at Comics Kingdom, and would add one more: The whole “favorites” page used to be able to go back to any date and go forward and backward one day at a time. Now we can only go to each individual comic’s archive page. If I get a few days or a week behind, it’s tedious to catch up. I probably won’t bother.

  3. “I hope that King will not sit back and simply hope people will adapt to a site with multiple, major, fixable problems.”

    Hope springs eternal, but it might be misplaced here. Norm Feuti, in May of last year, told his fans that CK would redesign its site(s) “later this year”. Instead of 7 months, it took almost 11 to come up with this debacle, so I don’t expect any immediate remedies.

    I’ll “check back later”, as they suggest on the interwebs, but until CK gets their act together, I’ll stick with the separate strips’ sites.

  4. Almost all of the strips I used to read on Comics Klingon (as someone on another of my lists has taken to calling it) are also readable on the Seattle POST-INTELLIGENCER page, and for me at least that loads about as fast as CK used to do (and far faster than it does now, apparently) and navigation from the A-Z list is about as fast as CK used to be (and ditto).

    Unfortunately, they don’t carry KEVIN AND KELL or POPEYE’S CARTOON CLUB, but I can gladly live without them (or look them individually elsewhere) for the tradeoff of never having to deal with CK’s “improvements” again.


  5. I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks the new Comics Kingdom “upgrade” is a total disaster. One wonders if they tested it all before taking it live. They really should have spent a little extra money for a web designer.

    In addition to the other problems mentioned, the site no longer remembers me, so I have to log in every time I visit the site.

    Some of the Sunday strips have been reformatted. If you click on the strip to enlarge it, the strip is displayed with all the panels in a single horizontal row, making me think that at least some of the problems were caused by trying to enhance the interface for mobile users. Are they the majority now? There is still no reason that a good website could not accommodate all platforms.

  6. Mike, on the Editing Favorites page you can reorder selections by grabbing the “=” sign at the far right of an entry and dragging up or down.

  7. In strict archaelogical order:

    Sean — appears you’re right about the money staying within the dept. That’s a change in the past half century since I paid attention, and I quit paying attention because the last few clean Div I programs seemed to have gone over to the dark side. OTOH, the bulk of student athletes truly are both. Only about two percent go on to pro careers and only the superstuds have the option of goofing off. The fencers and javelin throwers hit the books pretty hard and their sports, and scholarships, are paid for by the massive, ridiculous profits of those major sports.

    Becky — To repeat, the easiest thing for a reader to do is to stop reading and that’s a pretty powerful incentive right there. They need to fix that.

    Mark — Thanks. I’ve reordered my Vintage strips.

    Everyone — thanks for more feedback and let’s hope someone from KFS is monitoring this sort of thing. They’ve got a terrific lineup of strips and, however much they spent on this thing, they should be expecting some modification and warranty work.

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