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Lynn Wenzel

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August 9, 2014
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Burning while Congress fiddles

John Boehner is fiddling now. He has filed a federal lawsuit (financed by our taxes) which House Republicans just voted to advance, challenging President Obama’s Executive Orders. Really? As of the beginning of July, the president has issued about 180 Executive Orders — a power that has been utilized by every president since George Washington, except William Henry Harrison who died too soon to use it.

George W. Bush issued 291; Bill Clinton issued 364; Ronald Reagan issued 381; Richard Nixon issued 346. Yet, Representative Boehner asserts, “The suit was about defending the institution in which we serve.”

Oh, John, stop it. When has this institution served anything lately? If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to distract all of us from the job Congress is not doing just before you headed off on yet another vacation.

And what’s going on while Congress fiddles? Well, for one thing, there’s this little problem of children arriving in droves at the border. The children — 60,000 of whom are expected to be intercepted this year — are running from Central America to escape murder, rape and conscription in the cartels. The U.S. has no solution to this humanitarian tragedy. Many of these kids deserve asylum under the law aimed at combating child sex trafficking enacted under President Bush in 2008.

Yet, Republicans in Congress have now stated their intent to undo this law. And, unfortunately, the $3.7 billion in emergency money President Obama requested to fund handling the children’s’ cases has been promised a swift death by a partisan Congress.

So hooligans gather and scream “diseased” and “terrorist” at 5 year olds crying for their mothers. Keep fiddling. The gap between the rich and the rest of us keeps growing. Latest figures show that the top 1 percent owns almost 40 percent of all the wealth in this country.

Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour. Try living on that with two kids — especially when your food stamps have been cut. Meanwhile, in newly-built New York high-rise apartments, owners have created “poor doors” for lower-income tenants, while residents in more luxurious apartments will be able to enter through a separate door. To keep from getting cooties I suppose.

The lower-income residents will also be prohibited from using amenities — swimming pools, gyms, rooftops and basketball courts — offered to those paying higher rent. Can “Whites Only” signs be far behind?

Keep fiddling while the U.S. ranks 17th globally in education. David Lehman in his New York Times essay, “Sing to Me, O Muse (But Keep It Brief)” says, “The ability of an educated populace to read critically, to write clearly, to think coherently and to retain knowledge — even the ability to grasp the basic rules of grammar and diction — seems to be declining at a pace consonant with the rise of the Internet.”

Heather MacDonald writes in The Wall Street Journal that the English department at UCLA has dismantled its core, doing away with such courses as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton.

Yet Congress still argues about who should control education rather than supporting a culture that values it.

More? How about Ukraine, the new/old war between Israel and Hamas, the rise of xenophobia in Europe mirroring the Weimar 1930s, the NSA’s fanatic snooping into our private lives, and the crumbling of our infrastructure (I believe I heard one House member suggest we just let the highways crumble. Does he travel everywhere by private plane? Maybe, if he’s rolling in enough money from lobbyists.) For tomfoolery though, you can’t beat Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion that the border troubles might be an Obama plot. Talk about paranoia. Run, governor, run!

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto disparaged Boehner’s effort to sue the president as “an enormous waste” and a “political football” reminding Republicans that President Bush used similar executive authority and belittling Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s proposition that Congress should simply defund the executive branch. Such idiocy must always be accompanied by fiddle music.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins suggests all of us make a list of the things we would like to see Congress do before they leave on yet another vacation. I’ll bet it’s not suing the president for “king-like” behavior. Keep fiddling, boys.

Lynn Wenzel, who lives in Grass Valley, is a member of The Union Editorial Board.

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The Union Updated Aug 9, 2014 01:01AM Published Aug 9, 2014 01:01AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.