A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It’s ‘March Madness’ with Congress, Clinton and coverage

Bill Knight column for Thurs., Fri., or Sat., March 19, 20 or 21

March Madness isn’t confined to the IHSA or NCAA, as shown by actions of Democratic near-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Congressional Republicans or what passes for news on cable TV.

Personally, I don’t trust Hillary as far as I could throw a strong forward from a state championship team, but the media frenzy given to her improper, if not illegal, use of a private server and an email account outside government openness is akin to celebrating a free throw in a blowout

Across the aisle, the GOP is performing like the Washington Generals, that hapless squad touring with the Harlem Globetrotters. Following Republicans’ invitation for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress and the GOP’s mishandling of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, 47 GOP Senators committed a flagrant foul by trying to undercut bargaining with Iran about nuclear energy and weapons (at a critical point in those proceedings).

As to Hillary, every Sunday network yak-fest March 8 discussed her emails, but they added nothing newsworthy, commenting more than reporting. Clinton’s secretive stupidity didn’t violating the law (the National Law Journal said her tone-deaf action is getting attention but “any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible”), and the public may care more about filling out basketball brackets than Hillary’s tin-ear sensitivity to transparency (60 percent of Americans think it’s a “very serious problem,” according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll last week). Still, TV is treating it like it’s a criminal act instead of an arrogant conceit.

These “journalists” (really, entertainers who perform in TV newsrooms) just dribbled off their feet and pretended they hit a buzzer beater. It’s much different than how media have treated similar incidents. Eight years ago next month, these celebrities posing as journalists hardly yawned when the Bush White House announced that as many as five million emails sent over two years were inexplicably lost. The emails were requested by Congress pertaining to its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys – emails sent via private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee. But the press then sniffed at the millions of missing White House emails and mostly after a day or so dropped the story like a no-look pass from a hyperactive guard with bricks for hands – while we endure 24/7 coverage of Hillary-mails.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Republicans are on a losing streak. After strong midterm-election results, the GOP-controlled Congress took power promising to work with the administration and to govern instead of once more using an obstructive defense so suffocating it was like a stall alternating with triple-teaming a three-point shooter.

Tufts University professor of international politics Daniel W. Drezner in the Washington Post wrote, “The GOP has squandered what was supposed to be a political and policy advantage.”

Indeed, House Speaker John Boehner couldn’t get his Republican team to run to the other end of the court, much less execute a fast break, to fund Homeland Security. Then – like a disoriented point guard scoring at his opponent’s basket – the GOP Senate sent that letter to Iran. Drafted by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, it basically claimed that any agreement negotiated with administration diplomats was worth about as much as a Technical Foul against your team in a close-game overtime.

The letter stunned and outraged foreign-policy veterans and everyday Americans alike.

In fact, more than 300,000 people have petitioned the White House to seek charges of treason against those 47 Republican Senators for violating the Logan Act, a federal law prohibiting U.S. citizens from negotiating on their own with foreign governments.

Even if we observers aren’t exactly fans of all this, the question is: “Why?”

Drezner offered three reasons. First, Congress feels disrespected – despite the fact “that both the Constitution and history have stacked the deck in favor of the executive branch.”

Next, Drezner writes, many Republican Senators, like Cotton, are new – naïve, untested or as clueless as a scorekeeper leading cheers. Finally, today’s Republicans are politically rewarded less for passing legislation (governing) than for raising Cain (and campaign funds).

Republicans and Democrats alike should think about Capitol Hill and Hillary Clinton based on what Charles C.W. Cooke in the conservative National Review commented about embattled Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock shortly before he quit: “There are 310 million people in the United States, 12.8 million of them in Illinois. In the House of Representatives, by contrast, there are just 435 — only 18 of whom have been sent from Schock’s state. Really, there is no good reason whatsoever that Aaron Schock needs to be among those 18; and, indeed, there are a host of good reasons that he should not be.”

Surely, Democrats and Republicans have someone on the bench who could be put into the game when their “stars” get a muscle cramp – the brain.)

The insanity can’t be ignored. “Time out!”

[PICTURED: Editorial cartoon by Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune, via the Progressive Populist.]

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