Tag Archives: Congress

What’s so wrong with ‘career politicians’?

You’ve heard it said millions of times, that someone is unfit for public office because he or she is a “career politician.”

I want to speak in favor of those who choose politics for a living, those who select public service as a career goal. I’ve never quite understood why these “career politicians” so often are held up as figures to be ridiculed, denigrated, reduced to four-letter words.

I am not a Pollyanna about this stuff, mind you. I’ve been watching career pols do their jobs for a long time. I spent nearly 37 years in the journalism trenches reporting and commenting on their activities. Some of them were, um, less than noble. I concede that point with no hesitation.

I’ve watched a few of them up close attain national stature. The meanest of them no doubt was the late Jack Brooks, the Democratic congressman from the Golden Triangle of Texas. He used to refer to himself as Sweet Old Brooks. Yep, he was an SOB, but he was “our SOB,” or so the saying went in Beaumont, Port Arthur and throughout Brooks’s congressional district.

Here’s the thing about Brooks: He got things done for his district. His constituents re-elected him many times because his staff did a good job of listening to people’s needs, concerns, gripes.

Career pols comprise a shrinking portion of Congress these days. Voters have expressed themselves with their ballots, turning away politicians who perhaps overstay their welcome. They bring in newcomers. In this current climate, many of the newbies see themselves as media stars, pushing their way into view of TV cameras. I cannot predict how they will wear over time.

I am not going to dismiss them immediately as flashes in the pan, although I am quite willing to make an exception to that rule: e.g., GOP U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York, the serial liar who needs to get the boot at the next election.

All told, though, I welcome career politicians. Someone has to do this job. Those who are willing and able to make public service a career and are willing to serve honorably, well … may they continue in their chosen field.


Sham ‘hearing’ worthy of scorn

You may take this straight to the bank because it is the unvarnished  truth, which is that I could have lived my entire life without hearing about a sham “hearing” conducted by MAGA cult members of Congress that actually saluted the criminals who stormed the Capitol Building on 1/6.

There they were: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar, among others, pretending to conduct a congressional hearing on the events of that terrible day.

All the while, the MAGA cultists insisted that the traitors who stormed the Capitol that day were being treated as political prisoners. The government, they said, wrongfully prosecuted them for crimes against our democracy because the 2020 election indeed was “stolen” from the guy who lost it legitimately.

What’s just as horrifying, of course, is that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who owes his speakership to these MAGA morons — let it happen in the first place.

None of these yahoos hold chairmanships in any actual House committee. The hearing they conducted today was made up to look like an official event, when in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was a staged propaganda performance designed to denigrate the prosecutions that have put many of the “witnesses” who spoke today behind bars.

And why are the convicted felons? Because they stormed the Capitol, assaulted police officers assigned to protect members of Congress from the frothing mob, they smashed windows, defecated on the floor of the Capitol Building and threatened to execute Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over a congressional hearing to certify the Electoral College results of the 2020 presidential election.

Oh, did I mention that that the Republican incumbent lost that election to Joe Biden?

The traitors who answered the call to assault the government from the guy who took an oath to “defend and protect” the Constitution do not deserve anything other than the nation’s scorn for the crimes they committed.

That goes as well for the president who incited them.


Rep. Santos: without shame

George Santos is that rare politician who believes he can function as a “normal” elected official despite the enormous baggage he’s lugging around as a result of his lies and deceit.

The first-term Republican congressman from New York is an absolute, hands-down laughingstock. No one can possibly take seriously a single word that flies out of the mouth of this serial liar.

He got elected in 2022 by lying his way into office. Let’s see, he lied about:

His parentage, his professional career, his educational background, his marital status, his family’s connection to the Holocaust and 9/11. Oh, then he is accused of swindling money from someone he knows.

Santos’s constituents elected a mystery man.

Yet he now functions as if he hasn’t a care in the world beyond his duties as a congressman.

Good grief, man!

I don’t even know why I’m getting worked up over this. Dude represents a district far from my home in North Texas. But … he is able to vote on federal laws that affect all of us. I guess that gives me justification to gripe and bitch about this fraud.

Like the man who once sat in the White House, I am left to question every single utterance that flies out of Santos’s mouth.

He is just one of 435 House members. He needs to be shown the door. My hope is that the New York congressional district voters who sent him to D.C. in the first place will wise up when they cast their ballots again next year.

The guy is without shame.


Why no remorse?

There likely isn’t a good reason to ask this question of a disgraced former Texas state legislator, but I’ll ask it anyway.

Is Bryan Slaton a dyed-in-the-wool sociopath? 

Here’s the deal. Slaton, a Royse City Republican, was caught having sex with an intern. He filled her with alcohol and then had his way with her in his apartment in Austin. The House General Investigations Committee got wind of it, examined the allegation, and then recommended his expulsion from the Texas House.

Slaton testified before the committee and according to sources on the scene, he expressed zero remorse, contrition or offered nothing resembling an apology for his hideous action. He resigned his House seat, but the House expelled him anyway in a unanimous vote.

Isn’t that the behavior of a sociopath?

Contrast that with the reaction that came from another Republican politician, former U.S. Rep. Van Taylor of Plano. Taylor was running for re-election 2022 when it was revealed he had an affair with a woman who once was married to an Islamic State officer.

When word of his misbehavior got out, Taylor issued a statement calling his action the “worst decision I ever have made.” He apologized to his wife and children and then backed out of his re-election campaign.

Taylor at least had the good sense and appropriate contrition to apologize to everyone involved.

Not so with Slaton, who ran for election and re-election as a “Christian conservative” dedicated to the family values espoused by the Republican Party.

He’s nothing more than a sociopathic chump.


Debt-ceiling fight enters critical phase

Congress and the White House are fighting over an issue that doesn’t deserve this level of political bloodshed.

I refer to the debt ceiling. Congress should increase it as it has done always since the beginning of the Republic. But no-o-o-o! The Republican caucus in Congress, led by the MAGA cultists among its members, are seeking to make some sort of idiotic statement about the need to cut spending before increasing the ceiling.

How can I state this more clearly: If the nation defaults on its debts, the economy is going to crash; we will lose millions of jobs; interest rates will skyrocket; the world will feel the pain this nation will inflict on itself.

Do congressional MAGA cultists really believe this is sound fiscal policy? It is nothing of the sort!

I say all this as a way to suggest that I believe President Biden and the congressional leadership are going to find a solution before the June 1 deadline believed to be when the ceiling must be lifted.

If they do, and I believe it will happen, we are surely going to be treated with all kinds of back-slapping, high-fiving and self-congratulations from our political leaders over the courage they showed in ending this crisis.

It’s all crap!

I am afraid that the end will last only until the next debt-ceiling crisis arrives.


Word of warning: Don’t default, GOP

The men and women serving in Congress as Republicans seem to have lost their collective minds.

They are threatening to allow the United States — for the first time in its history — to default on its debt obligations. They want to negotiate big spending cuts to, um, reduce the national debt before allowing the debt ceiling to be lifted.

If Congress and the president fail to reach an agreement, well, catastrophe looms. President Biden says he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling, because it’s an action the government has taken since the founding of the republic.

If we default on our debts, all hell is going to bust loose. All hell, I’m telling ya!

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to see my retirement portfolio flushed away. Yet that is what well could happen if we default on our debts.

I hasten to add that when Republicans served as president, the GOP was OK with raising the ceiling. No problem, man. They locked arms with their Democratic colleagues.

I also want to point out that the latest GOP pol to occupy the White House ran the debt up at a greater pace than any other administration in history. Where was the Republican outrage over that? I know the answer: There was none!

Congressional Republicans need to quit playing games and threatening to bring calamity to hundreds of millions of Americans’ financial well-being.

Time is running out. Raise the damn debt ceiling!


Santos to run again?

Why in the name of political sanity does anyone outside of a New York congressional district care about this moron’s decision to seek re-election to a second term in the House of Representatives?

I guess it’s because of the circumstances of his election in the first place and the fact that he actually votes on legislation that affects you and me far away.

George Santos announced he is running for re-election to the House in 2024. Santos is the dipsh** who lied his way to election in 2022. He lied about damn near every aspect of his life: his parentage, his faith, his work background, his education, his marital status.

The Republican has become a laughingstock. He embarrasses all Americans who are concerned about electoral integrity. I am one of those Americans.

This clown needs to lose his re-election bid next year. Indeed, many within his own GOP are saying the same thing.

But … here’s the thing: Santos has zero shame. Were he to actually win re-election, I fear it could open the door to even more frauds traipsing through the halls of Congress, a place that already suffers from abysmal public opinion ratings.


Permanent Daylight Time?

Well, kids … we sprang forward overnight, an event that produced the usual ration of griping — some of it good-natured — about the loss of an hours’ sleep and showing up late for some appointment this morning.

To be honest, I’ll stipulate that the time change — from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time — doesn’t bother me. I’m manic about setting clocks the night before. So, when the alarm goes off on Day One of Daylight Time, I usually am ready to get the day started.

All that said, I am wondering if the Texas Legislature ever will finish the job it tried to finish in its 2019 session when it ran out of time before referring a time-change measure to Texans that fall.

You might recall that the Legislature was pondering a three-choice option for voters. We were supposed to get a chance to state whether we wanted to shift to permanent Daylight Saving Time, permanent Standard Time or keep it the way it is, with a twice-annual time switch.

I stated then that if given a choice, I would prefer to go to a permanent Daylight Saving Time. I like the extended daylight at the end of the day. A permanent Standard Time setup would put the sun down too early in the evening for my taste.

But … as I noted, switching back and forth is not a big deal for me.

There might be a congressional push to make it a federal law, simply taking this entire matter out of the states’ hands. A few states already have forsaken Daylight Saving Time, preferring to not monkey around with switching clocks.

This whole concept has been around for a while. Switching to Daylight Saving Time was intended to save energy, allowing Americans to avoid turning on their lights in the late afternoon. I’m fine with that, too. So, why not make it permanent?

Eschewing the time-switch would be a nod to those who dislike the government mandating such behavior. Switching to a permanent time system would satisfy conservatives; hey, we seem to agree on something! How about that?

This debate is likely to flare yet again in Congress. I say “flare” because that’s what always seems to happen in that sharply divided body. Maybe they can put their partisan differences aside — finally! — and agree on this simple idea.

Or, they can simply let the states decide. Well, Texas legislators? Will you do it?


‘Pork-barrel spending’ has vanished?

Whatever happened to the term once used by budget hawks to vilify politicians who spend money “recklessly”?

That would be “pork-barrel spending.” It has vanished, seemingly, from the contemporary glossary of verbiage in today’s contentious political climate.

I remember when a former U.S. senator from Texas, Republican Phil Gramm, would boast about “bringing home so much pork, I was afraid I would come down with trichinosis.”

“Pork” is the term that refers to special project appropriations that members of Congress sneak into legislation. You know what I mean: money for bridges, airport control towers, road-and-highway improvements, federal office complexes. The late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, another Republican, once was vilified for his “bridge to nowhere” for which he managed to get money appropriated.

I am not entirely opposed to “pork-barrel spending” if the project that the Congress member is pushing actually does some good for the public. I mean, these men and women, do work for us. We demand certain things from our lawmakers and, as always, it takes money to make those things appear in our states and congressional districts.

In Collin County, Texas, we have a first-term Republican, Keith Self, representing our interests. I don’t hear much about his work to ensure federal money to improve our infrastructure. Instead, I hear him talking about “election integrity,” and a whole array of social issues that, frankly, mean next to nothing to me.

And our state’s two GOP U.S. senators — John Cornyn and Ted Cruz? They, too, are busy condemning Democrats to concentrate on matters of more immediate concern to their state.

If the MAGA crowd among the GOP congressional caucus is interested in controlling federal spending while they threaten to renege on our national debt — a truly catastrophic proposal — then they will resurrect “pork barrel spending” as a fiscal talking point.


Will this tragedy move Congress?

The question is being asked all across the country: Will the Michigan State University slaughter of three students and the wounding of five others produce meaningful legislation that will curb gun violence?

I believe I have the answer.

It is no. It won’t. Too many members of Congress are too beholden to the gun lobby to enact any sort of semi-aggressive legislation that would stem the epidemic of gun violence.

The latest shooting in East Lansing, Mich., is the 67th such “mass shooting” in 2023. Yes. That is correct. The number of shootings so far have outstripped the number of days in the year.

This latest goon was a 43-year-old moron with no apparent ties to the school. All of the victims were — and are — students. One individual, a young female, happened to live through her second mass shooting in a decade. She was one of the children who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. Think about that for a moment, about any individual who can live to talk about two such national tragedies, having seen them both up close.

Congress is too full of political cowards for the body to enact legislation that could keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have any access to such weaponry.

Shameful … simply shameful.