Think Congress is spinning its wheels?

If you take the time to read the daily summary of the Congressional Record, chances are that you will be overwhelmed before you know it. Now, think of all the activity and uncoordinated initiative it took by a bunch of busy little elected bees and their over-worked, appointed office staffs to hatch the content of the Record daily.   

For certain, it appears that almost everybody on Capitol Hill is doing SOMEthing — introducing a bill, debating a measure, attending a subcommittee or a committee meeting, casting a vote on a resolution. And that doesn’t even begin to count activity in which our elected representatives engage themselves beyond the walls of the congressional chambers — such as meeting with visitors, conferring by phone on political strategies, reading the mail and e-mail that has been filtered and forwarded by the front-office staffs, dictating and approving press releases, and so on.

If you read every word of what’s in the daily Record and click on the hot buttons that take you to the devil in the details, what’s most daunting is the seeming complexity of actions taken. Some of it comes off as redundant. Some of it appears to be unnecessary. Some of it reflects ding-dong school thinking — makes you scratch your head and wonder what the heck prompted THAT?

Every now and then, as you wade through the weeds of make-work and blind-man’s-bluff, you stumble over a gold nugget that invites you to dive into the meat of an issue.

If you’re NOT reading the Congressional Record online summary daily, you ought to give it a try. Here’s where to start. Just click on the Web link below, or copy and paste the link address into your browser:

https://www.congress.gov/crec/2017/05/22/CREC-2017-05-22-dailydigest.pdf

 

The long road to national perdition

More and more Republicans in the U.S. House are being threatened physically by angry constituents in their respective districts, according to a report in The Hill. U.S. representatives such as Arizona’s Martha McSally, Tennessee’s David Kustoff and Virginia’s Tom Garrett have had occasion to fear for their safety.

Scores of GOP lawmakers have been subjected to videos going viral this year, showing constituents shouting their disagreement on support for President Donald Trump and policies such as the GOP’s health-care bill. Some of the rabble rousers even went so far as to boo God during one town-hall meeting.

Meanwhile, NBC-Washington TV-4 reports that Paul Irving, sergeant at arms for the U.S. House, has asked for at least $2 million to beef up security at representatives’ offices in their home districts. The upgrades would include so-called panic buttons and video surveillance equipment. Unfortunately, even that kind of spending might not prevent a repeat of the shooting in Arizona in 2011 that forced Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords out of her seat in the House.

On Saturday, Democratic activists rallied in Sacramento, Calif., to declare the Golden State to be the epicenter of liberal resistance to President Trump, according to the online Gateway Pundit. At one point, things got out of hand and infused the fingers – the middle fingers, to be exact, of outgoing California Democratic party chairman John Burton. Addressing the frenzied crowd, Burton jammed the air above his head with the double bird and reportedly hollered, “(Expletive deleted) Donald Trump!”

Seriously? First Amendment rights aside, is this the way we conduct ourselves here in the USA as the rest of the world watches?

We apparently are witnessing the beginning of the end of political civility. The last time that happened and was carried to its furthest extreme, this nation descended into civil war. Hopefully such a violent and bloody conclusion will not befall us again in these enlightened times, will it?

As someone said recently: Donald Trump’s election did not cause liberals to hate. It revealed their hate.

In the long run, the haters will be despised and ignored — or, worst case, wind up behind bars. Apparently to them, such outcomes are worth it. (Sigh.)

Whiners win; another good leader is out

Fringe-stream interests, fake news and political backbiting once again have run off a well-qualified candidate chosen to serve in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

On Friday, Tennessee state senator and former U.S. Army doctor Mark Green withdrew as President Trump’s choice to be secretary of the U.S. Army. Green cited false and misleading personal attacks, mischaracterization of his years in public service and acrimony over his Christian beliefs — to the point that he did not want to distract from the president’s aggressive agenda to make America great again.

Green was eminently qualified for the post. A retired Army flight surgeon, he is a graduate of the Military Academy at West Point. Green also has roots in Christianity, being a self-described “creationist” who is at odds with the secular theory of evolution. 

According to CNN, Green faced rising opposition from LGBT activists and Democrats over past comments about transgender individuals. In 2013, Green blasted President Barack Obama for supporting what he said were “‘transvestites in uniform.” Three years later, Green reportedly told a Tea Party group: “If you poll the psychiatrists, they’re going to tell you that transgender is a disease.” 

The era of political correctness should be over by now, especially when it involves naysayers representing social abomination. Before we can make anything right, we’ve got to deal with and reverse what’s wrong. Wouldn’t we rather have an individual who speaks honestly and with candor in a position of authority, rather than a “yes” man who cloaks his words in political correctness and opportunism?

Oh, the words we choose to use

Former CBS News president Andrew Heyward has offered his own take on the loyalty of FOX News cable/satellite viewers in the wake of the dismissal of prime-time ratings king and conservative political analyst Bill O’Reilly.

“There’s vulnerability in that FOX’s biggest star is gone,” Heyward told The New York Times. “There will be resentment among his loyal base. What mitigates that, of course, is that FOX’s success is tied to being sui generis.”

Sui generis? Sounds like something a redneck farmer would say about the birth of a pig.

Why didn’t Mr. Heyward just say “unique”?

Sit-rep on North Korea: What’s factual?

Tags

, ,

Before we worry ourselves into a costly war with a pissant totalitarian nation such as North Korea, our media representatives need to be asking some hard questions and reporting some well-informed answers.

For example, the PRNC celebrated its founder’s day on Saturday with a massive parade of military might in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. Newspapers and Web sites around the world posted photo after photo of the parade, which prominently featured a herd of rolling launchers bearing what were described as ballistic missiles, such as the one pictured below by The Washington Post.

Really?

Were these truly launch-capable agents of destruction out in the open, exposed to compromise? Or were they simply well-fabricated model missiles made of painted wood and plastic? Did anybody bother to check? Did anybody bother to ask? Does anybody honestly know the size and makeup of North Korea’s arsenal?

Without we — the U.S. public — having a true-picture threat assessment of North Korea’s purported military might, how can we allow ourselves to get all stirred up over international rhetoric and juvenile-minded tweets?

We need some realistic reporting delivered in small, digestible bites. Is there a bona fide threat? Or is this just more saber-rattling by a so-called nation too poor to properly feed and provide medical care for its over-taxed and overwhelmed citizens?

Can we please pursue some common goals?

Tags

, , , ,

What’s wrong with this nation? Has the melting pot become just a bag of various rocks refusing to blend in? Why are so many of us at each other’s throats? Could it have anything to do with the divisive nature of almost everything you see, hear and read?

Take this excerpt from a recent report in Politico magazine about a campaign gathering in the Sixth District congressional race in Georgia. One attendee was quoted as saying: “There was a lot of talk about health care, but not the specific concerns of the sixth district, which is very diverse and growing more diverse.”

And then, the author of the article went on to write: Indeed, in this district, once represented by Tom Price, Johnny Isakson, and Newt Gingrich, fully 21 percent of residents are foreign born. When Newt Gingrich was elected there in 1992, more than 90 percent of the residents were white; now 70 percent are. And large sections of the sixth are majority-minority … . “There are subdivisions out here that are entirely Asian, or Southeast Asian, with only one or two white families,” the attendee said. And yet (Democratic candidate Jon) Ossoff and the other Democrats on that panel weren’t offering much to those voters.

Why do some among us continue to browbeat the rest of us with our differences? Do we honestly expect our elected officials to champion agendas that are favorable to white people? Or to black minorities? Or to brown factions? Or to Christians? Or to Sikhs? Or to Jews? Or to Muslims? Or to transplants from Asia? Or to refugees from the Mideast?

All of us – that is, all of us here legally – are citizens of the United States. Certainly we celebrate our cultural differences. But just as certainly, should we not put our faith in those politicians who have track records that reflect pursuit of the common good — regardless of race, color or creed?

Hopefully, we elect people to represent all of us – not just one special interest at the expense of another. So, of what value is pushing the percentages of who’s black versus who’s white, who’s the same and who’s different, how many of us are male versus how many of us are female? Why do we continue to tolerate the mass media’s propensity to constantly box us in?

The governing bodies of this nation should be held responsible for creating a framework for the success of anyone willing to work for it. It is not the government’s duty or responsibility to confer success upon anyone. Perhaps all of us could take a lesson from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, where the doctors, nurses and administrators focus on ways to make life worth living for all who are taken there. 

Buildings don’t get constructed by flinging bricks in every direction. They go up at the hands of caring bricklayers who find the mortar to pull the bricks together to build a sound structure in which everyone can take pride.

Special interests — from the big guys with deep pockets to the whiny cupcakes with little minds and big mouths – are killing us. Will we ever rise above the political detritus, the social hubris and the horse hockey on the street that keep pushing us apart?

Pride stirs in the homeland

Tags

, , , , ,

U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan have dropped a 21,600-pound MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) bomb on caves comprising a major ISIS stronghold in eastern Afghanistan’s mountains. It was an admirable move tactically, strategically and psychologically.

The strike involving the so-called Mother Of All Bombs showed the world that the United States has a new sheriff in town, who has no tolerance for so-called political correctness. President Donald Trump and his armed forces leaders have shown twice in the past two weeks that they’re not afraid to stand up to the world’s thugs. They have redefined “political correctness” as carrying out the ability to neutralize oppression, fraud and corruption wherever human freedom is compromised.

Best of all, the MOAB initiative signals that we’ve got a strong, decisive world leader in the White House, not some empty suit incapable of leading from the front. Gone are the days of a straw man who was twice elected because he broke the hex on the idea that an African-American could not function as president – a pied piper who could woo votes by invoking the magic of a teleprompter and retaining speech writers who could script mesmerizing texts.

Get used to it. Actions finally speak louder than words.

#     #     #

Here’s a thought regarding the construction of a wall along the entire U.S. southern border with Mexico. If Congress doesn’t want to pay for it, and if Mexico will not pay for it, why not use every opportunity to confiscate the fortunes of the drug cartels and their minions operating in the United States? Using that loot to construct the wall would be money well spent.

#     #     #

The senseless debate in Washington continues to numb our minds as allegations of domestic spying during the 2016 presidential campaign drag on.

If the Fourth Amendment has been violated, of course we need to know when, how and by whom. But so far, no one has shown – as the Democrats have alleged – that the Republicans committed any unreasonable searches and seizures of Democratic candidates, their houses, their computer files or any of their other effects. No one has even presented any evidence of probable cause for such actions. It’s a political football filled with air. And that’s all that will be inside the football — empty air.

All the rhetoric thus far has amounted to a meaningless sideshow designed to fill on-air time slots in the electronic media and to distract us from more critical issues at hand.

Did Russia or Russian interests try to influence the outcome of the race for the White House? All we’ve seen so far is smoke – but no fire. The election is now water over the dam. Even if there was potentially intrusive activity from beyond our borders, it failed. No outside interests changed the outcome of the election.

But some members of Congress and many in the liberal media keep stoking the fire – pushing a “guilty until proven innocent” agenda, which is decidedly un-American.

So, let’s wrap up these distracting investigations and turn our attention to more pressing matters.

In the final analysis, the time-tested bottom line remains steadfast: If you’re not guilty of doing anything wrong, what do you have to fear – or even get riled up about?

#     #     #

We’re hearing a lot of saber-rattling again coming out of North Korea. That immature kid over there who’s supposedly running things – Kim Jong Un – has taken the pacifier out of his big mouth long enough to threaten the United States with nuclear obliteration.

Seriously?

Through his closely controlled North Korean state media, the youngster said that “our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements, with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary [sic] bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater, but also in the U.S. mainland.”

Does anyone honestly believe that the U.S. would not immediately respond to shoot down each and every missile carrying a nuclear warhead within seconds after it left its North Korean launch site?

If that’s what you believe, it’s time to wake up and smell the scorched ozone.

#     #     #

One final rant: We are way too consumed these days with putting people in boxes (conservative, liberal, alt-right, leftist revolutionaries, facists, socialists, Tea Partiers, RINOs, libertarians, moderates, neoconservatives, etc.).

We’re too focused on:

— labeling every little government action.
— repeating “pivot” as a dirty word in every context.
— putting ideology ahead of critical thinking.
— politicizing every move our public officials make.
— running every action taken in government through a “them vs. us” filter.
— jumping to conclusions before we know all the facts.
— allowing ourselves to be misled by mindless leader-wannabes or by overly zealous and liberally speculative media celebrities.

Individually, we need to do better, to be more conscientious, to be less vitriolic, to be more responsible in our own thinking, to be less like cream puffs, pansies, snowflakes and cupcakes — before we collectively wind up like the Roman Empire.

Tabled repeal-and-replace vote is a blessing

Tags

, ,

U.S. House Republican leaders scotched a planned vote today on repealing and replacing what has come to be known as ObamaCare after a head count by Speaker Paul Ryan showed the bill would go down in flames if it had been brought to a vote on the House floor.

The left-leaning media as well as some within the Republican party were quick to pounce, calling the scotched vote a setback for President Donald Trump.

However, don’t be too quick to bemoan the abrupt sidetracking of the Republican do-over on yet another Democrat-spawned giveaway program aimed at rescuing the uninsured. In the long run, Friday’s decision to leave the dance could be a blessing in disguise for the nation’s health-care system as well as for the vibrancy of the nation itself.

The GOP balk on Friday means the Obama-engineered Affordable Care Act remains in place – for the time being. But the increasingly unaffordable ACA already is being crushed under its own weight. It’s only a matter of time before it suffocates and decomposes into a dead issue.

That is as it should be. And Congress should not revisit the issue. Consider this no-frills statement: Health care is not – repeat, not – a right in these United States. Access to good health care is a right. But Congress rightfully cannot mandate health care itself (or low premiums, or penalties for non-compliance with an overbearing law) any more than it can legislate morality.

In short, ObamaCare is a socialist (at best) program being pushed by left-leaning liberals, bleeding hearts and RINOs who expect it to survive and flourish in a free-market republic. It just will not work. Not unless every taxpayer in the USA starts paying monumental premiums that many already cannot afford. 

Sure, everybody should have access to quality health care. But it is not the responsibility of the many to knuckle under to tyranny and pay for the wants of the few. That’s where organized charity comes in. That’s where Emergency Rooms come in, with hospital patients paying a little extra to help cover the costs of treating those who go to the ER because they are too poor to afford health insurance.

Moreover, too many people fail to understand the insurance paradigm. (Just watch any Liberty Mutual commercial on TV, and you’ll get a firsthand look at the outlandish expectations of some policyholders represented by bad actors.) Any kind of insurance is a money pool. You pay in, hoping you’ll never have to collect because of a catastrophic event but knowing that if you do, you are covered.

Then you go about your business as a productive and law-abiding citizen, striving to live the best way you can without succumbing to society’s vices and pitfalls or suffering any of Mother Nature’s ravages. Except for life insurance, you know up front that you’re not buying a policy with the goal of collecting it all back some day. You’re buying insurance so that as a citizen and a taxpayer, you will have peace of mind.

Our nanny state is big and broad enough. Let ObamaCare fall on its sword. And then, let’s allow federally mandated health insurance to perish in a well-earned death.

When budget-cutting is timely

Tags

, , , ,

In a wide-ranging and convoluted blog, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan addresses the frugal Trump budget proposal.

“Is cutting the absolute No. 1 priority right now?” Noonan asks.

The answer: Absolutely.

Before the lolling, 650-pound federal government can wrestle with the tax code, or with infrastructure restoration, or with rebuilding the U.S. armed forces, or with education reform, the bureaucracy needs to slim down to a modest 250-pound fighting weight.

That’s where the cutting comes in.

What’s being cut? The fat that stores and even grows waste – based on the bureaucratic theory that if you don’t spend what you’re allocated, you have no basis to ask for more next fiscal year.

What’s being cut? The fat that hides duplication. Why have two administrative assistants when a time-motion study shows that you can make do with one? Why have a federal agency in charge of what the states can do effectively by themselves? Why have a bloated federal agency doing nothing but paper-shuffling when it could be eliminated, with that agency’s operating budget going to more critical needs?

What’s being cut? The fat that gooses the overreach of the nanny state and succeeds far too well in covering up widespread fraud in the system. It’s the old “too” story. Too few are being taxed too much to support too many who count on welfare for their food and housing – and, in too many cases, their illegal drugs, booze and cigarettes. To salve these welfare cuts, the sitting president is creating an atmosphere to foster the creation of paying jobs that hopefully will rekindle the spirit of those who have stopped looking for honest work.

The time for prudence and patience is over. It’s time to address these drastic times with drastic measures. It’s time to cut budgets, to bring the bureaucrats to their senses, to get back to the basics without all the bloat.

And then, when we have re-learned the meaning of sacrifice and hunger, perhaps we can return to an atmosphere of prudence and patience. That’s when it’ll be time to take a zero-based budget and build a new tent that will serve everybody fairly.

Tax-return bombshell morphs into a dud

Tags

, ,

If that’s the best reporting that Rachel Maddow can present, then she and her producers need to jump into the effluent as President Trump goes about draining the swamp.

In case you missed it, MSNBC celebrity Rachel Maddow pitched a “scoop” Tuesday about having an “exclusive look” at then billionaire businessman Donald Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. The “scoop” turned out to be a pooper scooper – the tax return showed that he was rolling in cash in 2005, and that he was paying more than his Hillary-Rodham-Clinton fair share in federal income taxes.

If an individual – ANY individual – earns $150 million and pays nearly $40 million in income taxes, is that news? Hardly.

For a minute, forget the back-and-forth about whether what Maddow reported was legal. It indeed was legal under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for her to report it. The illegal part occurred before that, when somebody “leaked” the tax return out of its supposedly protected domain of privacy and into the mailbox of “investigative reporter” David C. Johnston – who put it on a fast track into of the public sector. If Maddow did not participate in that personal-property theft as a co-conspirator, then she has done nothing illegal – only foolish.

For a minute, forget that Maddow suffered enough of an on-air faux pas to all but mandate that she fall on her sword for an encore. She promised a fat, juicy deluxe hamburger. What she served her public amounted to little more than an empty bun so old that it was swathed in mold and mildew.

Here’s what should be the real concern: Today’s “journalism” is a double slap in the face of what it used to be. That’s mainly because a new generation totally devoid of news judgment is in charge. 

Journalism today has an ugly face and an ugly body – it is cloaked in character assassination. It is long on hype and personal opinion, short on logic and facts.

It is long on one-sided press releases, conjecture and hyperbole, short on selfless investigation and in-depth scrutiny.

Is there even double-source confirmation these days? That’s when a reporter confirms a piece of information or an assertion by getting two sources – independently – to confirm the information or the assertion.

The three cornerstones of reporting, editing and publication used to be – and still should be – the standards of truth, accuracy and impartiality. Unfortunately, a blanket has been thrown too many times over those cornerstones by too many in today’s media.