We had decided to allocate 15 of our patient ‘openings’ to current members of Congress. Who are our ‘winners’?
“There are 435 members of Congress,” I said. “So many potential patients.”
“Time to decide on our full list of high priority patients,” Jay reminded us.
“I’ve been working with Kay on the various Congressional committees and subcommittees,” I responded, “trying to identify which might provide access without serious security or related issues.”
“Yes,” Bill said. “If we can get access to a subcommittee hearing or meeting, we may be able to access several members during one session.”
“And if that doesn’t work, we can still work to treat them on their own turf, during local events, town meetings, Congressional recesses, etc.”
“And parties, “ Jay suggested.
Committee and subcommittee meetings are generally open to the general public. They are scheduled at least a week in advance, although the specific agenda may not be fully available. The schedule is readily available. Audio and/or video records of meetings are available within three weeks after the meeting. Many are covered via C-Span. The site includes information on the Chair and Members and often on the specific agenda, legislation, or issues being addressed, as well as direct links to the Committee’s own site where there is far more information, including video records of hearings and meetings. The videos are a good way to ‘get to know’ the specific patient serving on the committee. harmless will review previous meetings and hearings using the available audio or video recordings.
There are major problems with the Committees and indeed with Congress itself, going back to Gingrich and the Bush-Cheney era.
“You mean Congress is broken?” Bill asked.
“Very much so. In fact The Broken Branch was published already in 2006 – and it’s gotten worse from then on,” I said.
“I read it, too,” Jay said. “And Mann and Ornstein’s more recent It’s Even Worse than it Looks.”
“And even more recently, mid-2014, we have The Big Lobotomy, a summary of everything Congress has done to make itself – and its members – even more stupid and uninformed,” Bill said. “It even covers the shutdown of the Office of Technology Assessment in 1995.”
“You worked for the OTA, didn’t you?”
“I did. They did the greatest fact-finding reports for Congress.”
“I interacted briefly with OTA’s Director, John Gibbons, during my artificial organ – bioengineering years,” I said.
“Great guy. He died just a year or so ago,” Bill noted.
“I just saw that Ashton Carter, Obama’s Secretary of Defense, also did an OTA stint back in 1979,” I said.
“There was just a piece on him in WIRED,” Jay added, “titled the Military.Industrial.Complex. It’s periods or dots today – not dashes.”
“He has a strong science background,” I continued. “PhD in Theoretical Physics from Oxford – and his undergraduate degrees are from Yale – in Physics and Medieval History.”
“The WIRED story said he’s empathetic, flexible with people, and likes to read textbooks for recreation.”
“Are Republicans allowed to read textbooks?” Bill asked, smiling.
The Lobotomy piece has some interesting facts and perspectives. Since 1995 Congress keeps cutting its own staff and expertise. Making Congress dumb and dumber started with Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’, resulting in what Lorelei Kelly called a ‘self-lobotomy’ of Congress – which is still ongoing. The result is an outsourcing of legislation-related ‘research’ and drafting and a great dependence on lobbyists. Committees have lost their responsibilities and influence. There are fewer committee meetings, lower attendance, and thus a mal-functioning – or non-functioning – Congress. Conservatives don’t see the lack of expertise as a problem. The downsizing and the brain drain is their way to advance the conservative agenda. The lack of staffers means there is far less non-partisan influence or oversight. Committee chairs and members can ‘…regularly shake down lobbyists for money’, as we well know and as The Broken Branch notes. Political extortion has been partially institutionalized; one key extorter was the House’s former Speaker, John Boehner.
Committee meeting rooms are roughly similar to what Utah legislative committees use. The audience is in the ‘back’ of the room, then – proceeding towards the front – a table for witnesses and others asked to address the committee, then space for the press, then a semi-circular table for committee members, and finally the staffers.
“So the press has space between the witnesses and the Committee?” Jay asked.
“Apparently so,” I responded, “according to Kay’s discussions with several committee staffers and via several C-Span videos.”
“So the press can video both the witnesses and the Committee from the same location, I assume,” Bill added.
“I wonder what it takes to get access via the press route?” Jay pondered. “What credentials are appropriate?”
“I imagine the Chair’s office can provide authorization. Kay learned that the Chair and his staff control nearly everything: meetings, agenda, who’s invited, who speaks – everything. Minority members have no input.”
“Here’s an idea,” Jay smiled. “A local paper doing a story on the Committee and, especially, on one of its key GOP members. Paper wants access to do a story on Mr. GOP in action.”
“That might work,” I said. “And the press person can also provide chocolates before, after, and during breaks.”
“That may be the easiest way to get direct access,” Bill concluded.
We focused on the Senate, identifying those committees and many of the subcommittees wherein deniers might be particularly present, troublesome and accessible.
After working extensively with Kay on all the appropriate Senate Committees, and then on the House Committees, and considering their hearing and meeting schedules, and many other factors, we decided to access each patient directly – on their own turf. Accessing Congressmen and staff in their local offices would likely be easier and just as – or even more – effective than trying to do so in D.C. – and with less security hassles.
Given the high priority patients we’d already selected – Justices, Presidential candidates, and allowing for several bad guys – we only had space for 15 Senate and House patients. We began to learn something about each candidate, her accessibility, and his likelihood of being successfully treated.
Patient choice is so difficult. There are rankings and listings of Congress member attributes and performance. ‘Least effective’ members are at www.insidegov.com . Steve King, Iowa, is rated the least effective; Jim Jordan, Ohio, the second least effective (we saw why by watching his ‘performance’ on the House Benghazi Committee).
A Bipartisanship Index is at www.thelugarcenter.org . Paul Ryan’s ideological buddy, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, is dead last. We were disappointed to note that his Ph.D. in Political Science from American University is not especially conducive to fostering bipartisanship.
How far ‘right’ or ‘left’ they are shows up nicely via the ideology-leadership plots at www.govtrack.us . The individual’s position on the ‘political spectrum’ refers to the rough ideology of the bills they’ve sponsored and co-sponsored. The site uses a statistical method based on Principal Components Analysis to determine the Ideology (X axis) coordinate and a Page Rank approach to determine the Leadership coordinate (Y axis). The left side of the plot tends to be liberal; the right side conservative. It’s fascinating that there is almost no inter-mixing of Democrats (blue points) and Republicans (red points) in the final plot. The ‘spectrum’ results in two ‘peaks’ – one including nearly all Democrats; the other including nearly all Republicans. It’s a clear representation of the strong polarization existent in today’s Congress.
For example Senator Jim Inhofe, climate denier par excellence, is on the far right – a very high ideology score – with a roughly average Leadership Score.
Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, has said: ‘Ideological extremism correlates closely with legislative impotence.’ Ineffectiveness and ideological extremism do correlate for many Congress people, as the Govtrack plots often show.
Very strong ideologues may be much more difficult to successfully treat. But if they do ‘respond’ to treatment, it will generate publicity and awareness among their equally ideologic followers. We began to feel that a mix of ideologues and somewhat more moderate patients might be best for harmless.
We agreed to prioritize and fast track the current leadership: Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy – the majority leaders and Speaker.
McConnell, Mitch – Senate Majority Leader.
Mitch McConnell is Kentucky’s senior Senator and says he is in his last term. He was first elected in 1985. Govtrack puts him in the middle of the GOP ideology curve, with a high leadership score.
McConnell is looking tired. He failed at his earlier goal of ‘…making Obama a one term President’. He now has his ‘dream job’ – Senate Majority Leader.
“Yes, but he’s failing at it,” Jay said. “He lost to Rand Paul on the Patriot Act provisions.”
“He screwed up the timing,” Bill added. “He was confident that by letting it go to the wire, Paul would play ball. He didn’t; McConnell took a beating.”
“McConnell’s convinced that the now two term Obama will be replaced by a Republican, saying, in response to the recent Paris climate agreement: ‘Obama should remember that the agreement is subject to being shredded in 13 months’.”
“And McConnell should recall that Romney lost – and so will Rubio, or Cruz, or whoever.”
“The McConnell – Paul fight is an interesting power struggle – the old and young senators from Kentucky duking it out,” I said. “Both are strong climate deniers, but Paul at least tries to be semi-rational, consistent, and principled.”
“Paul’s covered as one of our Presidential aspirants – even though he just dropped out of that race.”
“To focus on his Senate reelection,” Jay said.
“And another presidential aspirant, Senator Cruz, is now on McConnell’s case – calling him a liar on the Senate floor,” Bill added.
“Which means Cruz is just shooting off his own toes,” Jay said. “He’ll come tumbling down soon – with Trump.”
“McConnell won one for Kentucky – The Bluegrass Benefit,” I said.
“A lawn seed subsidy?” asked Jay.
“No, a sweet race horse subsidy – part of the new omnibus spending bill – a special benefit for the race horse crowd.”
“I’ll bet they’re all in the upper 1%,” Bill said, cynically.
‘I’m sure. This sweet little tax giveaway makes racehorses eligible for depreciation over a three year period, rather than seven years.”
“So they can wear them out quicker? Where’s the SPCA when you need them?” asked Jay.
“There was some budget good news – solar and wind tax breaks,” Bill said.
“And one for hard cider,” I added.
“Back to McConnell,” I said. “Perhaps he may be receptive to a change – even a revelation – which might endear him to his kids and grandkids.”
McConnell’s wife is Elaine Chao, a former Labor Secretary, and is reported to have said ‘…there’s nothing better than girl power.’ She immigrated from Taiwan with her family when she was eight. Her father developed a successful shipping business. She’s eleven years younger than Mitch, been a key part of his fund-raising and campaign efforts, and was very instrumental in his last re-election. She has a Harvard MBA, worked in the banking sector, served as Director of the Peace Corps under Bush #1, and was Secretary of Labor for both terms of Bush #2. She married Mitch in 1993. McConnell has said ‘In my first marriage, I married a Liberal.’ Chao is not a liberal. She is conservative and has worked for the Heritage Foundation. She’s been characterized as a ‘tiger woman’, meaning focused, hard-nosed, hardworking, etc.
There’s often a strong conservative component to immigrants who have struggled, worked hard, and succeeded in America. They adopt an Ayn Rand philosophy – if I could do it, you can, too – and loose much of their compassion and empathy along the way.
She’s received over 30 honorary degrees. In her commencement speech at DePauw, 2002, she noted that it is a ‘… top liberal arts university’, and that the students now have ‘… a responsibility to lead.’ She referred to volunteerism, her experience with the Peace Corps and United Way, her immigrant roots. She is a very smooth and personable speaker. She concluded by telling them all ‘… to do good.’
“I wonder if she’s ever whispered in Mitch’s ear, ‘Do good, Dear’.”
“Do you think she fully understands what the liberal arts are? What a real education is?” asked Bill.
“She is a very effective politician,” I said. “The speech is on YouTube. Given her political skills, she’s the part of the couple that should be a Senator.”
“Any kids?” Jay asked.
“Apparently not. She was 40 when they married in 1993,” I said. “But he does have three daughters via his first marriage. His recent campaign referred to his three daughters, but no details.”
“It’s sounding to me,” Bill surmised, “that we may not want to target McConnell, given his wife’s apparent conservatism, the anonymity of his daughters, and his own hard wiring.”
“I thought the same,” I said, “until I learned about his commitment to civil rights. The Times just did a large story on his ‘…longstanding commitment to civil rights legislation’.”
“I did hear about that, too,” Jay added. “So maybe he’s not hopeless?”
“Maybe not. The Times article ended with a McConnell quote: ‘America is a work in progress…We are always looking for opportunities to improve our country.’ Perhaps we can induce him to expand his civil rights interests to human rights.”
“It’s worth a try,” Bill said. “He’s entitled to the benefit of our doubt.”
“Let’s see what we learn about his daughters – and if there are any grandkids,” I said.
Ryan, Paul – Speaker of the House
Paul Ryan represents Wisconsin District 1 – the far SE corner of the state, including Racine and Kenosha. Surprisingly, because he is basically a Libertarian, Govtrack puts him to the left of the GOP center, with a low leadership score.
His hometown and residence is Janesville WI (a Democrat town!) on the far west end of the district, near both Milwaukee and Chicago. He drives a Chevy Suburban, attends Catholic mass at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, and is a Green Bay Packers fan. He is a bow-hunter. Prime rib is apparently his favorite meal, and he likes to go to the Main Street Citrus Cafe and the Buckhorn Supper Club. Ryan’s father died from a heart attack when he was only 16.
Ryan owns a six bedroom 5,800 sq ft house in the Courthouse Hill district of Janesville. Built by George Parker of Parker Pens, it is locally referred to as the Parker Mansion. The Ryans have lived there for many years: Paul, wife Janna, and their three young children: Liza, Charlie, and Sam.
“The House Speaker, and former GOP VP candidate for 2012, is a very traditional Hayekian economics fan,” I surmised.
“In 2012 the press dubbed him ‘the intellectual brains of the GOP’,” Bill recalled.
“Because, starting in 2007, he began developing his Roadmap for America – a largely Libertarian economics – based budget plan,” Jay added. “The GOP was completely against it, as they thought the Democrats would use it to the GOP’s disadvantage in the 2008 elections.”
“He waged a very uphill battle within the Republican Party to get it to eventually endorse his Roadmap and adopt much of it for the 2012 Romney-Ryan campaign,” I added. “I’ve been reading his little 2014 book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea. It’s worth reading.”
“He was quite an Ayn Rand fan, but then recanted a bit as he started to experience some of the realities of governing,” Jay said.
“Jon Stewart took him on in 2013 for the takers vs. makers comments he made in response to Obama’s 2013 Inauguration speech,” I said.
“Yea – and if I recall correctly, the same Stewart piece showed many earlier Ryan clips on the takers vs. makers theme,” Bill said.
“Did you ever read Ishmael – a little book about an intelligent gorilla teaching a guy about the takers – makers history and economy?” I asked.
“I haven’t – sounds clever,” Jay said. “Go on.”
“The story’s narrator, a somewhat clueless but curious fellow, comes across an intriguing ad in the Personals section of the Classifieds.”
“I remember Classifieds,” Bill laughed. “A 20th century phenomenon.”
“Well Daniel Quinn, the author, published it back then – in 1992. Actually it was the result of a competition – the Ted Turner Fellowship Award,” I said.
The Wikipedia entry states:
The Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award was created in 1989 by Ted Turner, to be awarded to an unpublished work of fiction offering creative and positive solutions to global problems. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn won the award in 1991, which will not be awarded again, and was selected out of 2500 entries by a celebrity panel including famous sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury. The award was worth $500,000, the largest single sum ever awarded to a single work of literature. Turner created the prize in hopes of combining literary merit with potential solutions to near-term environmental concerns… the fellowship included a hardcover publishing contract with Turner Broadcasting’s publishing unit.
Amazon.com says that there are more than one million copies in print.
The book begins with a classified ad:
TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.
“Fascinating. I might respond to such an ad,” Jay said. “But why a Ted Turner Prize? I’ve only associated him with Buffalo and Jane Fonda.”
“That alone makes him pretty interesting,” Bill said.
“Turner’s a very interesting guy. He’s donated big time to the United Nations – a billion dollar pledge in 1997, which he has fully paid,” I said. “And shortly after he made the pledge his assets plunged. But he struggled, partially recovered, and honored the pledge.”
“Was he at the U some years ago?” Bill asked.
“No, I don’t think so. But his semi-official biographer did give a lecture at the Law School titled something like Plutocrats and Ted Turner. I was so impressed by what I learned that I bought and read the book.”
The book is Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet, by Todd Wilkinson, 2014. Wilkinson’s U lecture was videoed and is online at www.law.utah.edu . It’s worth watching.
“Perhaps Turner should be the businessman running for President, rather than the casino clown.”
“Turner couldn’t run as a Republican,” Bill said.
“Nor would he want to,” I concluded.
Janna Ryan participates in the Janesville Woman’s Club. She was interviewed by the Janesville Gazette in August, 2015. She’s 46, he’s 45. He lives in his office during the week and returns home to his family in Janesville on the weekends. He sleeps in his Longworth Building office so he can work out in the House gym. He’s begun sporting a beard, saying ‘I’m the first Speaker to sport a beard in about 100 years.’
“He’s Speaker of the House, but without the beard looks like a kid,” Jay said. “He’s probably trying to distance himself from the other clueless kids on TV – like Cruz and Rubio. Others have said it makes him look cool and contemporary.”
“It sure is better than Trump’s hair,” Bill noted.
Paul Ryan replaced John Boehner as Speaker of the House when the tea party – in the House now known as the Freedom Caucus – acted to precipitate Boehner’s resignation. A House Divided, a New Yorker story by Ryan Lizza, says
Ryan represents a bridge between Boehner’s generation and the members elected
since 2010 … some in the older guard … don’t know if Ryan can control [the Freedom Caucus] any better than Boehner could.
Tom Cole, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma and a close ally of Boehner’s said,
John Boehner was … I think … an excellent teacher. I just don’t think he had the brightest students in the world.
Lizza notes that Charlie Dent, the head of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of fifty-six center-right Republicans, says that the rejectionist wing, dominated by the Freedom Caucus, votes against everything and considers government shutdowns a routine part of negotiating with Obama.
Ryan is extremely conservative, basically a Libertarian. In response to Obama’s executive actions on guns after the San Bernardino massacre, Ryan said:
From Day 1 the President has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding… rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, [Obama] goes after the most law abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.
Regarding Congressional agendas, Jennifer Steinhauer wrote in the Times:
[Ryan and McConnell] … are operating on starkly different political planets in this election year, with little harmony in their legislative agenda. … Mr. Ryan wants to finally offer a Republican alternative to Mr. Obama’s signature health care law. Mr. McConnell does not. Mr. Ryan would like to see his chamber explore authorizing military force against the Islamic State. Mr. McConnell would not… nearly every item on Mr. Ryan’s ambitious policy agenda for the year has been welcomed by Mr. McConnell with all the appreciation of a cup of black coffee after 8 p.m. Thanks, but no.
McConnell said of Mr. Ryan’s agenda: ‘…what we take up with in Senate will be different, with
special eye toward our incumbents.’
“It’s not about governing,” Jay fumed. “It’s about re-electing.”
“I’m not sure any amount of our precious chocolate will impact Ryan or McConnell,” Bill added.
“Maybe Janna – or the kids?”
“If the kids could read Ishmael, they’d begin to question their father’s takers-makers perceptions and prejudices.”
Ishmael, the gorilla philosopher in Quinn’s book, defines ‘Takers’ as members of the dominant globalized civilization and its culture, while ‘Leavers’ refers to members of the countless other ‘non-civilized’ cultures existing both in the past and currently. Leavers tend to live sustainably – they leave the environment in a generally healthy condition. Takers live by taking from the environment – resources like minerals, wood, land, etc., and degrade it by their massive economic enterprises.
In Ryan’s neurons the Makers are those who make stuff, cities, jobs – fuel the economy. But of course they do so generally at the expense of the environment – at the expense of the Planet. Ryan’s Takers are those who might require social services, participate in the dwindling ‘safety net, who have low and minimal incomes. Ryan’s Takers are close to Ishmael’s Leavers – they tend to leave the environment as is, without significantly depleting it.
“Remember Obama’s 2012 Inaugural address – when he beat Romney-Ryan and their Taker-Maker mantra?” Jay asked.
“Remind me,” Bill said.
Obama’s 2012 Inaugural Address included
… every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity… We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that … one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
“I think Ryan’s kids would really enjoy conversing with an intelligent gorilla,” Bill said.
“Let’s make it happen.”
McCarthy, Kevin – House Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy represents California District 23 – between Fresno and Los Angeles – a very Republican district. His parents are Democrats.
His Govtrack Ideology score is, surprisingly, on the left side of the GOP distribution, with a very low Leadership score (although he is House Majority Leader and almost became Speaker!).
McCarthy is 50, a graduate of California State University – Bakersfield (BS in Marketing and an MBA), and essentially a career politician. He began his Congressional seat in 2006 and is considered a GOP ‘Young Gun’; now in his fifth term; he gave John Boehner, former Speaker, a B- grade for his performance as House Speaker.
When he’s in Washington, McCarthy sleeps on a sofa in his office. He flies home weekly to see his wife, Judy. Their kids are Connor (20) and Meghan (18). Immigration has been a tough issue for McCarthy, who represents a 35% Latino district that relies on immigrants for picking crops. He recently did a fundraiser for a fellow party member and attended a symposium on valley fever, a very serious health problem in the drier, desert-like regions of southern California.
‘Judy is the ultimate ‘there you are’ person, always looking for a way to support the people around her, and treats everyone with respect’, said one of her Congressional wife friends. Friends closer to home agree – ‘Judy is unaffected by the notoriety, always keeping her focus on her convictions of faith, family and friends’. She is said to be the yang to Kevin’s yin. She is happy to leave the glad-handing to her gregarious husband.
She is one of four children. She says of her dad: ’He is the perfect example of hard work. … we have a very close family, and my foundation of faith came from my mother’.
Judy and Kevin met in a biology class at Bakersfield High School. ‘Kevin’s personality wins you over, and he doesn’t give up,’ she said.
In Washington, Judy is a volunteer trustee at Ford’s Theatre, which celebrates the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln. She is fond of James Patterson novels, but said her favorite book is the Bible. She is apparently quite religious. Wikipedia lists Kevin as a Southern Baptist.
McCarthy was a young member of the so-called ‘Caucus Room Conspiracy’ in 2009. On January 20, 2009, when the Obamas were dancing at inaugural balls, a group of Republicans, including Paul Ryan, were planning the end of the Obama presidency before it even got going.
They promised each other that they would filibuster and obstruct any and all legislation
supported by the new president. They would do everything possible, for as long as it took, to make his a ‘failed presidency’.
Rachel Maddow said ‘His ascent seems to be based on tactical expediency instead of competence’. He torpedoed that ascent to the Speakership by going on Fox News to brag about his party’s responsibility in bringing down Clinton’s poll numbers via the Benghazi hearings, essentially admitting that the hearings were always about sabotaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
A recent critique noted that a recent McCarthy speech on foreign policy contained many
incoherent sentences. As Speaker of the House of Representatives he would have been third in line for the presidency. According to Mark Levin, a conservative talk show host: McCarthy’s credentials are ‘… [former Majority Leader] Eric Cantor with ten less I.Q. points’. McCarthy likes to give ‘red meat’ comments on the Hannity tirade show.
He’s not fond of Obama and tried to derail the Paris climate discussions. He’s very pro-fracking.
There was some speculation as to why McCarthy abruptly withdrew from the race to replace Boehner as Speaker, leading Chaffetz and Issa to magnanimously offer themselves for the job. The common perspective was that McCarthy’s remarks related to the Benghazi Committee questioning of Clinton ‘torpedoed’ his candidacy.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California District 48) publicly dressed down McCarthy for his Benghazi comments and described how they had harmed his ability to lead and be a forceful Speaker in the 2016 campaign. This and other criticisms are generally credited for his decision to withdraw from the race for Speaker.
In 2010 McCarthy signed the Koch Brothers – sponsored Americans for Prosperity pledge – promising to vote against any climate change legislation that would raise taxes on affected companies.
McCarthy is pro-life and has received a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He has voted to ban abortions, to stop perceived taxpayer funding of abortion and has also voted repeatedly to repeal and/or defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As Trump began to acquire states during the state caucuses and primaries, McCarthy said, responding to a question on MSNBC, ‘I think I’ll work with Donald Trump … I think I can work with anyone that comes out to be the nominee’.
“They keep getting dumber and dumber,” Jay said.
“But Lindsay Graham just had a minor revelation,” I countered. “He said it would be better for a Democrat to win the White House than Donald Trump.”
“Cool,” Bill said. “Graham used to be – way back – a moderate. Maybe there is some hope.”
Congress’ ‘soldiers’ – Twelve priority patients:
“That’s good background on the three major leaders of Congress – now time for the ‘soldiers’ – or those who vote on bills,” Bill said.
“Or don’t vote, like the mighty Marco Rubio,” Jay noted. “But he’s covered under Presidential candidate.”
“We’ll also include other needy members of their delegation, in case they are convenient to treat.”
“And if the book about harmless and its actions is published, we can Tweet to each of them: ‘You made the cut. Congratulations’,” I smiled.
harmless selected the additional 12 Congressional ‘soldiers’ on the basis of their far right, anti-environment, and anti-bipartisanship records and statements. We also considered their membership on Congressional committees.
Barrasso, John – Wyoming Senator, denier, anti EPA. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University. He’s an MD and did a residency at Yale University. He practiced orthopedics and was named Wyoming Physician of the Year. Barrasso is married (his second) to Bobbi Brown. They married in 2008. She is a breast cancer survivor. He has three children: Peter, Emma, and Hadley. Although Barrasso went to Catholic schools, he is now a Presbyterian.
He’s quoted as saying, ‘I believe in limited government, lower taxes, less spending, traditional family values, local control and a strong national defense’; he has ‘voted for prayer in schools, against gay marriage and [has] sponsored legislation to protect life’.
Barrasso was one of 46 senators to vote against the passing of a bill in April 2013 which would have expanded background checks for all gun buyers. He received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association in 2002.
He wants to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting carbon dioxide emissions.
He is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, within the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“Barrasso’s now speaking out, unfortunately,” I said. “He tried to undermine Obama at the Paris Climate talks by saying ‘…the American people have [climate] as a very, very low priority’; he also said ‘…foreign leaders in Paris could not trust Mr. Obama’s commitments’.”
“How can someone with degrees from Georgetown – and an MD degree – be so conservative – so dogmatic,” Bill asked.
“Ben Carson has an MD degree,” Jay smiled. “It hasn’t helped his perspective on the planet.”
Capito, Shelley Moore – West Virginia, Senator, denier.
Shelley Capito was elected to the Senate in 2014 after having served in the House for seven terms. She is married to Charles L. Capito. They have three children: sons Charles and Moore and daughter Shelley. The Capitos are now grandparents.
Shelley Capito is another Presbyterian, and a strong advocate for the mining industry, especially coal. She opposes ‘job-killing’ energy regulations, opposes capping CO2, and has voted with her party 93% of the time. Her position on the Govtrack ideological spectrum is not very conservative; her ‘leadership score’ is quite low. However, she serves on many important committees; if her conservatism could be adjusted a bit more to the left, she could make a real difference. She has a B.Sc. in Zoology from Duke University, so she should know something about science and critical thinking.
“Perhaps she had a class from Steven Vogel at Duke – that would have taught her real critical thinking,” I said.
“Is that the guy who did so much, for so little cost, on animal biomechanics?” Bill asked.
“Yes. The U’s Bioengineering Department had him give a seminar decades ago, when we were beginning the Bio-Based Engineering program.”
“He wrote some great ‘popular’ science books,” Bill recalled. “The one I read was called, I think, Life and Fluids – something like that.”
“Life’s Devices, one of his earlier books, was a major inspiration for our Bio-Based Engineering program,” I said.
“I did some homework on him when I saw she has a Bachelor’s in Zoology from Duke. He died recently, in November, 2015; 75 years old. The Times obituary said he ‘… had a biologist’s romance with the natural world, but an engineer’s appreciation of human design’.”
“Well, if Capito didn’t actually take one of his courses, she certainly must have heard of and about him,” Bill said.
“We’ll give her the benefit of our doubt,” I concluded.
Chaffetz, Jason – Utah District 3, strong denier.
Jason Chaffetz is reported to have said – to a member of the Citizen Climate Lobby at a Utah town hall meeting – ‘Climate Change is an Al Gore hoax’. Chaffetz was, like his father, a Democrat – prior to 1990. He was even co-chair of a college Dukakis for President campaign in 1988. He met Ronald Reagan in 1990, during a Reagan motivational speaker gig at Nu Skin, and immediately became a Republican.
He is a Brigham Young University (BYU) graduate in Communications (1989) and football player – an outstanding place kicker. He converted from Judaism to Mormonism during has last year of college. After graduation he did public relations for Nu Skin, a Utah multi-level marketing firm, for ten years.
Chaffetz was the campaign manager for Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman in 2004. Huntsman won. In January 2005 Chaffetz became Huntsman’s chief of staff, but left some eleven months later. Chaffetz was considered abrasive and perhaps arrogant with legislators and office staff. Chaffetz was elected to the House in 2008 from Utah’s highly Republican District 3.
In spite of his work with Huntsman, Chaffetz endorsed and supported Romney’s presidential bid in 2012, rather than supporting Huntsman in the early days of the campaign. His ‘disloyalty’ apparently annoyed Jon Huntsman so much that Huntsman sent out the now classic Tweet, when Chaffetz offered himself up as a possible Speaker of the House:
McCarthy just got “Chaffetized”. Something I know a little something about.
The hashtags say it all.
Jason and Julie were married in February, 1991; they have three children: Max, Ellen, and the youngest, Katie. They are all included in a 2008 campaign video on line. Max and Ellen are apparently now in college.
Jason has written that he and Julie ‘… met at a wedding in Arizona and started dating shortly after when I was a senior and Julie was a junior at Brigham Young University in 1989’.
Julie has written:
I’m the youngest of six and I have an amazing family. My parents and siblings are settled everywhere from Minnesota to Arizona…. I also belong to a book club of six women. … One of my recent favorites is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
In 2008 Chaffetz said he would run a different kind of campaign: no paid staff, no campaign office, no free meals for delegates, no campaign debt, and no polling. It worked. He won.
He did garner well-known backing from conservative circles: Utah’s ‘red meat’ conservative state senator Howard Stephenson and Gayle Ruzicka, the leader of Utah’s ultra-conservative Eagle Forum.
Very early in his Congressional career he became annoyed and concerned with the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) full-body scanning implemented at Salt Lake City International Airport. So he introduced an amendment to ban ‘whole body imaging’ at airport security checkpoints, saying ‘You don’t have to look at my wife and 8-year-old daughter naked to secure an airplane’. The issue generated much press, including aspersions that he was arrogant and expected special treatment. Chaffetz and TSA have had a rocky relationship since then.
Chaffetz is roughly in the center of the Republican half of the Govtrack ideology distribution.
He now chairs the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, replacing Darrell Issa as Chair in 2015. His Democratic counterpart on the committee is Ranking Member Elijah Cummings of Maryland. The two visited one another’s districts the summer before Chaffetz became chairman. When Cummings visited Utah, Chaffetz took him to Moab, briefing him on public lands issues before meeting with Utah Governor Herbert. Chaffetz said he was committed to bringing a new level of bipartisan cooperation to the committee; Cummings has been supportive of – and even complimentary – to Chaffetz’s efforts on some issues.
“Maybe there’s some hope for Chaffetz,” Jay offered. “He’s been a Democrat, his kids are old enough to start asking questions, and he is a bit of a rebel.”
“Did you notice how adoringly Julie looks at him in their online campaign and PR photos?” Bill asked critically. “She must be the perfect Mormon wife.”
“Look at it this way,” I suggested. “Two of the kids are in college and Jason is generally not home. She likes books. Maybe she’s beginning to think and expand her perspectives.”
“You’re always the optimist,” Jay smiled. “Are the kids at BYU?”
“I don’t know – yet,” I answered. “But The Glass Castle is not a typical Mormon happy family novel or memoir – it’s a hard book by someone with fairly open and critical perspectives. In fact, a key character, Mom, right at the beginning of the book, says
You’re the one who needs help. Your values are all confused…tell the truth. That’s simple enough.”
“Maybe Julie could whisper that line in Jason’s ear,” Jay said.
“Does Jason read? He’s one of the few national politicians who hasn’t ‘written’ a book, I think,” Jay said.
“Maybe we can get to them at Mike Lee’s Christmas party – in the Utah State Capitol,” Bill suggested. “After all, Mike’s son John took Chaffetz daughter Ellen to a prom. Maybe they’ll all be there.”
“I plan to be there, chocolates in hand – and also at the St. George meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee on BLM Planning – Chaffetz, Bishop, and Stewart should all be there,” I said. “There’s even a ‘listening session’ that afternoon hosted by Stewart with ‘special guests’ Chaffetz and Bishop.”
“Report back if any of them actually listened to anything,” Bill requested.
“And as they’re not likely to have drinkable coffee, you should have great interest in Ananda’s Chocolates,” Jay said.
“I’m sure I will.”
Ernst, Joni – Senator, Iowa; elected 2014 after serving in the Iowa State Senate.
Ernst is the first woman to represent Iowa in the US Congress and the first female veteran to serve – from any state – in the Senate. She recently retired from the Army National Guard as a Lt. Colonel. She saw 14 months of active duty in Kuwait in 2003-04. Her undergraduate degree is in Psychology from Iowa State University.
She used her experience in castrating pigs in a campaign ad which got her national attention and greatly aided her 2014 campaign. The Des Moines Register stated:
Ernst is a smart, well-prepared candidate who can wrestle with the details of public policy from a conservative perspective without seeming inflexible.
Indeed, her Govtrack Ideology Score is a bit liberal for a modern Republican; she has a low Leadership Score. Her Govtrack position is almost identical to Capito’s.
She received enthusiastic support from the Kochs, who saw in her an advocate for their brand of free-market, libertarian conservatism. She participated in the August 2013 Koch gathering at an Albuquerque resort.
Her Koch support included hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of television ads funded by undisclosed donors and tens of thousands of dollars in direct campaign contributions. Interestingly Charles Koch, wife Elizabeth, son Chase and his wife Anna – each donated $2,600 to her campaign, according to http://realkochfacts.com/ . What is perhaps even more interesting is that Charles daughter, Elizabeth R., apparently didn’t contribute.
About seven months after Ernst won over Koch allies during her appearance in Albuquerque – still barely registering in Iowa polls – the Koch network created a nonprofit group called Trees of Liberty. Trees then launched a TV and web advertising campaign attacking Mark Jacobs, Ernst’s much less conservative GOP rival.
The Koch’s Freedom Partners group began a $1 million-plus ad campaign attacking Braley, the Democratic candidate. Although Ernst ran a good campaign, the boost from the Koch network was crucial. She won the June 2014 GOP primary and went into the general election in strong position against Braley. Shortly after her primary win, she participated in the Koch summer 2014 summit in Dana Point, saying at a candidates’ panel:
The first time I was introduced to this group was a year ago, August, in New Mexico, and I was not known at that time. The exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you – that really started my trajectory.
Cory Gardner of Colorado also sat on the panel, and also collected about $60,000 from the Victory Trust 2014, a group that hosted a fund-raising reception at the event.
Ernst delivered the official Republican response to the State of the Union a week later on January 20, 2015. She is very smooth.
Ernst is very conservative, claiming the United Nations’ Agenda 21 is a plot to move people off farms into urban areas and take away property rights. She’s proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency as a means of cutting federal spending. She has advocated eliminating the Department of Education ‘not just because it would save taxpayer dollars, but because I do believe our children are better educated when it’s coming from the state’.
She’s a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and has received its “A” rating. She opposes same-sex marriage and is more than pro-life, believing that life begins at conception. She voted for a fetal personhood amendment in the Iowa Senate in 2013 and has said that she would support a federal personhood bill.
She said in 2014 that Obama had ‘become a dictator’ and that if he acted unconstitutionally, he should face the proper repercussions as determined by Congress, ‘whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment’.
She supports a ‘fairer, flatter, and simpler Federal tax code. She is a mild denier.
In mid 2015, Ernst sponsored ‘Joni’s 1st Annual Roast in Iowa and Ride’ – a motorcycle parade in which she rode a motorcycle. The Des Moines Register: ‘Ernst indicated that it is critical for presidential candidates to engage in the type of retail politicking this and other Iowa events provide’. The event was attended by Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Peter Walker. She and Scott Walker are close friends.
Her husband, Gail, a retired command sergeant major in the United States Army Rangers, has tweeted hate stuff when she was in the Iowa legislature.
She did say:
I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks. They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband, and that’s between us.
Joni and Gail have a daughter, Libby. Husband Gail also has two daughters from a previous marriage.
She is a member of the Mamrelund Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Stanton, Iowa and teaches bible confirmation to 8th and 9th grade-level students. Her Wikipedia entry says she’s an ‘Evangelical Lutheran’.
“I imagine evangelical Lutheran puts her far, far right of Garrison Keilor,” Bill smiled. “But a degree in psychology, and her military experience, suggests she may know a little about neuro-drugs, PTSD, and even empathy.”
“Iowa really needs our assistance,” Jay said. “I just saw some poll questionnaire numbers from Iowa – part of a Cruz campaign assessment.”
Jay was referring to a mid-December Times’ Iowa poll:
The poll provided a snapshot of how conservative Iowa’s likely Republican voters are. Nearly six in 10 say climate change is a hoax. More than half want mass deportations of illegal immigrants. Six in 10 would abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
“Six in ten say climate change is a hoax?” Bill asked.
“Yes, but that’s perhaps because half or more Iowans are evangelicals, like Joni – just waiting for the Rapture,” Jay smiled.
“Joni and Cruz are on the program for the CPAC Annual Conference, together with John Bolton and Sean Hannity,” I noted.
“That’s one I really do want to miss,” Bill smiled.
Ernst’s offices are is Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Davenport, and Council Bluffs.
Gardner, Cory – Colorado Senator, elected 2014, after serving in House for two terms.
Gardner received a B.A. in political science in 1997 from Colorado State University. While in college, he switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and interned at the Colorado State Capitol. He earned a law degree at the University of Colorado in 2001
He helped create the Colorado Clean Energy Development Authority, which issued bonds to finance projects that involve the production, transportation and storage of clean energy – until it was repealed in 2012
Gardner believes climate change is occurring, but he is unsure whether humans are causing it –
and supported the Keystone Pipeline. He is pro-fracking. Gardner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge and is a recipient of much Koch interest and support.
Gardner participated in a Candidates’ Panel at the Koch 2014 Dana Point Summit, receiving Koch support there and along the way.
Govtrack gives him a moderately right ideology score. He has had interests in energy efficiency and renewable energies, as well as in contraceptives.
He lives in Yuma, in NE Colorado, with his wife Jaime and their three children: Alyson, Thatcher, and Caitlyn.
“Gardner may be salvageable, in spite of his attention from the Koch apparatus,” Jay said. “His renewable energy interests merit cultivating.”
“I think so, too,” I said. “And he’s so close by.”
Gowdy, Trey – South Carolina District 4 (Spartenburg, Greenville); Benghazi Committee chair; former prosecutor.
Gowdy earned a B.A. in history from Baylor University in 1986 and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1989. His wife is Terri Dillard; they have two children, Watson and Abigail. The Gowdy family also includes three dogs: Judge, Jury, and Bailiff. Wikipedia says Trey is a Southern Baptist.
“You gotta be kidding!” Jay chuckled. “Judge, Jury, Bailiff?”
“He’s a gung-ho prosecutor,” I said. “Remember the Benghazi hearings.”
“But he said then, indignantly, ‘this isn’t a prosecution – it’s an investigation’.”
“That was just before McCarthy misspoke.”
“His dogs’ names remind me of the guy who installed a folding ‘Murphy’ bed in our basement some 15 years ago,” I recalled. “He’d left his wife and three boys in his truck while he was working on the bed. So we invited them in – to our backyard, so the boys could at least run around. He came up, probably to keep an eye on them. I tried to interact with the boys, getting them to tell their names. Dad interrupted, and introduced them as Colt, Wesson, and Ruger!”
“You’re kidding!” Bill said.
“Nope – those were their names.”
“That must have been before Glock started to dominate the market,” Jay smiled. “At least Gowdy didn’t name his kids Judge and Jury.”
“Did you see the Times piece on Cruz’s ‘sharp elbows’ campaign manager, Jeff Roe?”
“The one that said he was pithy, profane, and that no lie is too big and no trick too dirty for him?”
“That’s the guy. He and wife, Missy, named their new baby Remington!”
“There’s a type of arrogance and cluelessness in naming kids or dogs like that. It’s a personality aberration, to me,” I surmised.
“Perhaps our treatment will help him,” Jay concluded. “Or his clueless client.”
“More than clueless,” Jay added. “Bruni now calls Cruz ‘diabolically hypocritical’.”
In 2009 Gowdy challenged incumbent Republican Bob Inglis in the primary for South Carolina’s 4th district. Inglis, who had a 93% lifetime conservative rating, angered the conservative wing of the Republican Party by ‘coming out’ on climate change. Gowdy ran well to the right of Inglis, defeating him in the run-off, thus allowing Gowdy to win in the heavily Republican district. He was reelected in 2012 and 2014.
“Our local Citizen Climate Lobby chapter had Inglis out in Fall, 2013 to give several talks and meet with Utah GOP legislators,” I recalled.
“Wasn’t his climate change ‘revelation’ due to his own eighteen year old son?” Jay asked.
“Yes, the kid apparently said he couldn’t vote for his Dad because he hadn’t looked at the evidence for climate change.”
“Inglis did look at it – and he was man enough to change his position.”
“And presumably get his son’s vote.”
“After loosing to Gowdy, Inglis set up the Energy and Enterprise Initiative and began speaking to conservatives across the country – including in Salt Lake City.”
“Revelations can happen,”
Gowdy is very conservative, saying he is ‘pro-life plus’ and believing in ‘the sanctity of life’. He signed the Contract From America, to defund, repeal, and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and limit EPA regulations. His Govtrack ideology score is not too far right of middle, a bit surprising; he has a low leadership score.
Gowdy will be 52 in 2017 – with a strong judge-relevant resume. He wants to be a Federal judge.
South Carolina Senator Tim Peter, a Gowdy friend, has said:
…a federal judge. That would be the best job he’s ever had. … I assume he’ll be a Supreme Court justice before he’s 65 or so.
“Gowdy has helped Cruz a bit in his campaign, hosting a Furman University event for him in Greenville, but he now seems to be betting on Rubio,” I said.
“He’s covering his bases. If Rubio is elected, perhaps he’ll appoint Gowdy to the Supreme Court,” Bill suggested.
“Without having served on the Federal District Court?” Jay asked.
“It’s happened before,” I said.
“We certainly don’t want him to become a judge – appointing him to the Supreme Court would be a disaster,” Bill said.
“All the more reason to treat him right away,” Jay said. “I understand Greenville is a nice city.”
“You’re on,” Bill smiled. “Maybe I can get Bob Inglis to introduce us.”
Inhofe, Jim – Senator, Oklahoma; best known Congressional climate denier and anti-science ‘hoax’ man.
“I just love Gail Collins!” Jay said.
“You must’ve read something this morning – out with it.”
“She finds the coolest, most ridiculous, crazy facts about Congress – and tells us about it in colorful and humorous language.”
“I missed her this morning,” Bill said. “Go on.”
“Guess who this is: an 81 year old private pilot, with quadruple bypass surgery just two years ago – who wants to get rid of medical exams for pilots.”
“He’s not the same guy who landed his Cessna on an X-marked (under construction) runway at a Texas airport five or so years ago, is he?” I asked.
“Sending the construction workers jumping out of the way? Bill asked.
“You got it – Jim Inhofe, the very senior senator from Oklahoma,” Jay smiled.
“He’s the same age as Charles Koch. We should get to each of them quickly.”
“More credit for Gail – her pithy, succinct summary of the Adelson GOP debate in Vegas recently:
Kill the families. Screw the orphans. Carpet bomb Syria, but in a targeted way. Send Jeb Bush a dollar. On to 2016.
“Apparently Rand Paul was the only one who said anything reasonable or even factual. As someone else said recently – be afraid; be very afraid! – of front-running Republican candidates.”
Inhofe grew up in Tulsa, married Kay Kirkpatrick in 1959; they have four children. He received a BA, at 40 years of age, from the University of Tulsa. He served as mayor of Tulsa and was then elected to Congress in District 1 in 1986. After several terms he was elected to the Senate in 1994 at the age of 60. He’s served for over 20 years.
His biggest donors are the oil, gas, and electric firms; he’s also a favorite of the NRA and the Kochs.
He is Chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, where he performs his climate dental and scientific hoax tirades. He is endorsed by the American Chemistry Council in its efforts to keep formaldehyde from being regulated as a toxic and carcinogenic chemical. In 2012, he published The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. He is one of the most conservative senators, with an ideology score pegged to the far right axis on the plot! He says:
God’s still up there … the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.
He’s compared the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to a ‘Soviet style trial’.
In The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney stated in 2006 that Inhofe ‘politicizes and misuses the science of climate change’. During a heat wave in July 2006, Inhofe said to the Tulsa World newspaper that the environmentalist movement reminded him of ‘the Third Reich, the Big Lie’, as in ‘You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their strategy.’ In 2011 Inhofe testified
I have to admit—and, you know, confession is good for the soul… I, too, once thought that catastrophic global warming was caused by anthropogenic gases—because everyone said it was.
With the Republicans regaining control of the Senate in early 2015, Inhofe returned to chairing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He brought a snowball on to the Senate floor and tossed it, claiming environmentalists keep talking about global warming even though it keeps getting cold!
Now he’s bad-mouthing the Paris Climate Agreement, saying it will fail. The GOP continues to look for ways to undermine or stop the Paris agreement, while Rubio and Bush are getting letters from mayors telling them to actually do something about climate change.
Inhofe is very pro-Israel, stating
I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel, and that it has a right to the land, because God said so. In early 2002, he suggested to the Senate that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a form of divine retribution against the U.S. for failing to defend Israel.
Inhofe first ran for Senate in 1994, using his plane as a daily campaign vehicle and visiting nearly every town in Oklahoma. He participates in Senate and Congressional debates involving aircraft regulation.
He landed his Cessna in the fall of 2010 on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives. The airport manager, speaking to the FAA in a recorded telephone call, said:
I’ve got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam, and I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life …. Something needs to be done. This guy is famous for these violations.
Inhofe stated that he ‘did nothing wrong’, and accused the FAA of ‘agency overreach’ and causing a ‘feeling of desperation’ in him. As he agreed to take a remedial training program, the FAA agreed not to pursue legal action against him. But six months later Inhofe introduced a bill to create a ‘Pilot’s Bill of Rights’ – to increase ‘fairness’ in FAA enforcement actions. The bill passed.
“Perhaps Inhofe is also ‘losing it’, like Scalia,” Bill suggested.
“And like McConnell,” Jay added.
“And I’ve had my doubts about our own Orrin Hatch,” I said.
“It seems reasonable to me to have mental and proficiency tests for pilots, drivers, physicians and surgeons every so often – why not elected officials?” Bill asked.
“Yes, Inhofe is ‘piloting’ and working on legislation and policies of national and even international significance and impact. We shouldn’t trust him with that responsibility if he’s not ‘all there’ upstairs,” Jay said.
“And that argument is even stronger for someone on the Supreme Court,” I added. “You know – we tenured faculty have performance and competency reviews every five years – al least at the good colleges and universities.”
“”And we shouldn’t depend on the every two year or every six year reelection process to medically and mentally evaluate candidates,” Bill said. “There should be a rigorous medical examination, just as there has been for pilots and other semi-dangerous professions that deal with the public.”
“Perhaps it can be part of the swearing in process – part of the oath of office formality. Any candidate over 70 years of age should be assessed every three years; anyone over 80 or so every two years.”
“We’ll ask Hatch and Inhofe to voluntarily submit – to set an example.”
“Scalia’s not a worry anymore,” Jay said.
Issa, Darrell: California House #49, denier; richest member of Congress, net worth about $355 M. His second wife is Kathy Stanton; one child, Bill. Wikipedia list his religion as Eastern Orthodox. He’s also very familiar with Jewish culture; his mother was Mormon. He is in his eighth House term.
Some five years ago he said that the science community is not in agreement about climate change or its severity. He has attacked both the IRS and the EPA – basically to get at Obama, and has voted against CO2 regulation. His climate denialism seems to be intact and perhaps has hardened in more recent years. He’s a Norquist pledge signer.
Issa began dogging Obama from the moment Issa became chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2010. He spent four years holding hearings on everything from an IRS training fiesta at Disneyland to an attack at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. According to House rules, the Committee may at any time conduct investigations on any matter, which gave him, via the Committee, the power to subpoena, investigate, and harass the Obama Administration. During his time as chairman, Issa held 128 hearings; Congressional leadership was happy to see him go when term limits forced him out. He developed a reputation for brash behavior and dramatic remarks that overshadowed his own hearings.
Then another Issa emerges, a forceful advocate for government transparency, capable of working with Democrats and negotiating with the administration to pass open government legislation and whistleblower protections. Issa says he has a solid relationship with House leadership, calling Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, ‘a dear friend’.
“A ‘dear friend’, until Issa undercut him a bit by offering to be Speaker of the House,’ I smiled.
“We talked about Issa many months ago,” Bill noted. “I even visited his district offices in Southern California.”
Issa’s Ideology Score is a bit to the left of the GOP Center, has an above average Leadership Score, and is an avid denier.
Labrador, Raul: Idaho District 1, elected 2010.
Raul Labrador lives in Eagle, Idaho. He is a Mormon, the first to represent Idaho’s 1st district. He and Rebecca Johnson Labrador were married in 1991and have five children: Michael, Katerina, Joshua, Diego, and Rafael. When he and Rebecca were married, Raul relocated to his wife’s home state of Idaho and practiced law and immigration law in private practice from 1995 until his election to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2006.
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Labrador grew up Las Vegas, Nevada, as a child and graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1985. He attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and spent two years as a Mormon missionary in Chile, from 1987 to 1989. He then returned to BYU, receiving a B.A. in 1992, in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American literature. He was admitted to the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, receiving the J.D. in 1995.
In 2010, Labrador won the Republican primary in what was considered a major upset and then beat the incumbent Democrat. He was reelected in 2012 and 2014.
In Las Vegas in 2011 he sharply criticized Mitt Romney’s comments about Hispanics.
In 2010 he signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity – a Koch-funded group – promising to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.
Labrador announced in mid-2014 that he would run for the House Majority Whip leadership position, but lost to Kevin McCarthy. He obviously has leadership aspirations, although his Govtrack leadership ranking is modest. Several House conservatives have suggested him as a candidate for Speaker or Majority Leader. He is a bit right of the GOP average on the Govtrack ideology plot.
On Meet the Press in mid-2014 he stated that Obama needs to ‘immediately deport’ young undocumented immigrants.
“Do Puerto Ricans consider themselves Latinos?” Jay asked.
“Yes, I think so,” I responded. “Certainly Sonya Sotomayor considers herself a Latina. Why.”
“Well, Labrador, wants to deport undocumented immigrant kids. Why doesn’t he have some empathy for Latino kids? And what about Cubans? Cruz and Rubio hale from Cuba – and they want to deport them, too.”
“It’s not about ethnic heritage,” I suggested. “It’s more about libertarian teachings – and brainwashing. So-called self-made people, including immigrants, tend to be very conservative – almost libertarian.”
“Yea,” Bill agreed. “They’re the ones who love Atlas Shrugged – and say ‘I did it, you can, too’.”
“Remember Dickinson’s Rolling Stone piece on the Freedom Caucus and the resignation of John Boehner?” I reported. “Here’s what he said about Raul:
Labrador was raised by a single mother in Puerto Rico, who instilled in him a bootstrapping sense of self-reliance. ‘My mom never used welfare because she believed welfare was destructive to the soul,’ he says. ‘I became a Republican because of that’.
Labrador’s House web site has him taking major credit for using very tough strategies, including government shutdowns, to force action. The details are in Lizza’s New Yorker piece A House Divided. Lizza describes Labrador as ‘the public face and strategist for the Freedom Caucus’.
Lizza quotes Labrador as saying to Boehner:
You have two choices, Mr. Speaker. Either you change the way you’re running this place, which you have been unwilling to do, or you step down.
The next morning, Boehner announced his retirement.
Dickinson also noted that Labrador said he thought Nancy Pelosi was a smarter leader than John Boehner or Kevin McCarthy. Labrador advocated Ryan for Speaker, saying:
In Ryan, we have somebody who understands what Obama’s trying to do. He understands that we have to have a bright contrast between the two sides and that only through that contrast are you going to be able to win the battle of ideas. Boehner was never about ideas.
Labrador does ‘believe in’ alternative energy sources but opposes government subsidies for their development. He does say Idaho’s development of geothermal energy is being impeded by government regulations.
Labrador is well supported by the NRA.
Lee, Mike: Senate Utah, elected 2010.
Mike Lee married Sharon Burr in 1993. They have three children: John David, James Rex, Eliza Rose They are advocates of ‘free-range kids’, a group advocating treating kids as smart and self-reliant. Lee speaks Spanish and served a Mormon mission in the southern Rio Grande Valley in Texas. In 2014, he had the opportunity to speak Spanish with Pope Francis.
Mike Lee was the tea party youngster who surprisingly beat out Robert Bennett for the Utah GOP Senate nomination in 2010 and then won election to the Senate. He received a BSc, 1994, in Political Science from Brigham Young University and a law degree from BYU in 1997.
He worked for Energy Solutions, a Utah company, arguing they should be able to accept low level radioactive waste from Italy.
He is basically a libertarian – and a far right conservative, almost as far right as Inhofe and Risch on the Govtrack ideology plot. He claims to be a ‘tireless advocate for our founding constitutional principles’. His father argued cases before the Supreme Court.
“Do you think he and Scalia have ever interacted – or Alito?” Jay asked.
“Interesting you should ask,” I smiled.
Lee served as law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the Utah U.S. District Court and with then Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He served as general counsel in Jon Huntsman’s governor’s office 2005 to mid-2006, when he returned to Washington to serve a one-year clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court with Justice Alito.
In early and mid-2011 Lee, along with Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against extending three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The NSA’s new massive billion-dollar data facility recently opened in Bluffdale, Utah, South of Salt Lake City, close to Lee’s home.
Lee and Jason Chaffetz, Utah District 3, know each other well. It’s been reported that Lee’s son John, took Chaffetz’s daughter Eliza to a school prom.
“The kids should be old enough to be asking questions by now,” Jay said.
“And getting Libertarian-like answers,” Bill smiled “Lee and Chaffetz are on similar wavelengths – and their kids likely similarly brain-washed.”
“What about Sharon – anything about her?”
“Good Mormon wife, I suppose,” Jay said.
Rodgers, Cathy – Washington District 5 – Spokane and Eastern Washington.
Cathy Rodgers was elected in 2004 and serves as Chair of the House Republican Conference. She has a BA in pre-Law from an un-accreditied ‘Christian’ school and a 2002 MBA from the University of Washington. Wikipedia lists her religion as Evangelicalism. She ranks in the center of the GOP ideology distribution, with a fairly high leadership score.
She married Brian Rodgers, a retired Navy commander, in 2006. A year later she became the first member of Congress in more than a decade to give birth while in office, with the birth of Cole Rodgers, who was later diagnosed with Down syndrome. Grace, was born December 2010, and Brynn Catherine, in November 2013.
She gave the Republican response to Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address.
After voting dozens of times to repeal Obamacare, in 2014 Rodgers responded to reports that the ACA had provided coverage to over 600,000 Washington residents; she then acknowledged that the law’s framework would probably remain and that she favored reforms within its structure.
In early 2015, on the fifth anniversary of Obamacare, her Facebook page said
…whether it’s turned your tax filing into a nightmare, you’re facing skyrocketing premiums, or your employer has reduced your work hours, I want to hear about it.
Her page was then filled with testimonials on the benefits of the ACA. At a later press conference, she said nothing about the overwhelmingly positive comments she’d received, rehashing her old arguments against the ACA.
She’s quite positive on Trey Gowdy and his Benghazi hearings.
There are online reports that she’s signed the Koch-sponsored pledge against climate taxes. She’s received multiple contributions from the NRA
She has offices in Spokane and Walla Walla, just North of Pendleton, Oregon.
Smith, Lamar, Texas, House #21, avid denier, lawyer.
Smith represents Texas District 21. He is Chair of the House Science Committee and an avid climate change denier; he has tried to subpoena NOAA records because he’s against NOAA’s analysis of data in clarifying climate change ‘pause’.
He is to the right of average on the GOP ideology plot with a modest above average leadership score.
Smith was born in 1947. He graduated from T.M.I., a college preparatory school known as the Texas Military Institute, and now called The Episcopal School of Texas. He received is undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1969, and a Southern Methodist Law degree in 1975. In 1969, he was hired as a management intern by the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. He was a business and financial writer for the Christian Science Monitor. His religious affiliation is Christian Science.
“I heard something about Christian Scientists at the U the other day,” I said. “It’s relevant.”
“Peggy Fletcher Stack, the Salt Lake Trib’s religion reporter for some 40 years, was giving a talk – I stepped in just as she was talking about great newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor.”
“So…it’s a ‘great’ paper?” Jay asked.
“She wondered why, too – and said it’s because they believe their goal is to help address problems and challenges around the world – and that they need to know what those problems and challenges are – hence, a good newspaper.”
“That’s fascinating,” Bill said. “It is a very good paper.”
“Think we could use that Christian Science argument on Lamar Smith?”
He was elected to the House in in 1986 and has been regularly reelected since. He’s always been re-elected with at least 72% of the vote. He was reelected to a 15th term! in 2014 in the still heavily gerrymandered 21st District.
Smith was selected Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in 2012-2013, beating out Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI).
Just prior to his selection, he said
I will promote legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration, and the application of new technologies to expand our economy and create jobs for American workers.
He is a fan of NASA but doesn’t want it to use its resources to study global warming or climate change.
He had an early interest in science and began as a Physics major at Yale. But as a Yale freshman he says he took
a physics class taught by the chairman of the department. … Looking to either side of me, I soon realized that I was sitting next to the future Einsteins of the world, and I wasn’t one of them.
“That’s my story, too,” I said. “- Physics at UC-Berkeley. My professor, just before our first midterm exam, said he designed the exam to be challenging for those students who would go on to become highly accomplished researchers in the international physics community.”
“And you didn’t,” Bill smiled.
“I had accidently seen a document with my IQ on it – and knew that the average Berkeley entering student had an IQ about 10 points higher.”
“That’s disheartening,” Jay said.
“Disheartening is the wrong word. I knew from the very beginning that I was in over my head – literally.”
So, what happened?” Bill asked, encouragingly.
“Well, I actually did ok on the first exam. But I rapidly moved from Physics to Math, and then two years later became a Berkeley drop-out.”
“You’re a Berkeley drop-out! Cool,” Jay said.
“I dropped out in good standing. If I’d stayed another quarter, they probably would have thrown me out. As it was, the counselor who allowed me to leave said ‘You shouldn’t be burning your bridges behind you!’
“And then what?”
“A semester of working and dating – met my future wife during that time – and then on to San Jose State, initially in Electrical Engineering.”
“And that’s where you ran into the Eleusinian ceremony people, right?”
“Yes – Eleusinian – like. That turned out well. But back to Texas.”
Smith is very anti-abortion, anti-marijuana, but apparently pro-alcohol, because in 2011 he received nearly $40,000 from the Beer, Wine and Liquor Lobby – over $60,000 between 2009 and 2011. He received some $200,000 from the Content Industry (now called the Media Business) through 2012.
He is a signer of the Norquist Pledge. His climate skepticism, and his Chairmanship of the House Science Committee, resulted in his receiving more dollars in 2014 from fossil fuels than from any other industry. Under his chairmanship, the House Science Committee has held hearings that feature the views primarily of skeptics, subpoenaed the records and communications of scientists who published papers that Smith disapproved of, and attempted to cut NASA’s earth sciences budget. He has been criticized for conducting witch hunts against climate scientists. He’s issued more subpoenas in his first three years as Chair than the committee had for its entire 54 year history.
“So he’s more infatuated with hearings and subpoenas than Darrell Issa – or Jason Chaffetz,” Jay smiled.
“Or even Benghazi warrior Trey Gowdy,” I added.
Smith is now de facto leader of the House GOP climate change skeptics’ caucus. They are anti – EPA and, Smith in particular, is very critical of the National Science Foundation’s peer-review process.
But now Smith has some denier competition: Ted Cruz wants in on the denier action, via his Senate post – using his position as Senate chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. He held a Data or Dogma hearing, subtitled Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.
Smith is a Christian Scientist. In 1992, he married Elizabeth Lynn Schaefer, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, as was his first wife, Jane Shoultz; she died in 1991. He has two children, Nell Seeligson (born 1976) and Tobin Wells (born 1979), from his first marriage.
He and his second wife, Beth, have an adult daughter and son.
Smith’s convoluted 21st Congressional District has district offices in San Antonio, Austin and Kerrville.
“What makes you think he’s salvageable,” Jay asked.
“Besides optimism, you mean? He’s 70, lives in a heavily climate impacted state, is probably getting a lot less money from the fossil fuel, avid denier folks than he used to, and keeps hearing that climate change is really real.”
“And you think some of all that has sunk in?”
“Maybe – with Ananda’s help.”