There are 246 Republican members of the U.S. House. Approximately 40 of them are members of the Freedom Caucus. That’s less than 17 percent of the GOP membership of the House. It should be called the “Nut Job Caucus”. The caucus would rather be pure than govern. The Freedom Caucus will not list its members but there are a number of internet sites that list the suspected members of the group. In reality, the Freedom Caucus should be known at the Tea Party Caucus. The Wall Street Journal reported that when the Freedom Caucus got involved in the leadership fight to oust Speaker John Boehner and oppose Kevin McCarthy to take his place, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin resigned from the group. Rep. Tom McClintock of California also left the caucus of tea party members because as Ribble said, there is “no room for dissent” in the Freedom Caucus. WSJ said that the Freedom Caucus “demands absolute fealty from members.” Ribble said if 80 percent of the caucus members agree about a course of action, all members are required to vote that way. Too bad members of the Freedom Caucus do not have the same rule when they participate in the larger Republican caucus for the entire House. It’s their way of saying that their group of 40 members are more important than the 246 Republicans of the entire House. The Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party, RedState, and Heritage Foundation all talk about Republican “moderates” in the House. From their rhetoric you would think that the old Rockefeller wing of the GOP is still in power. Give lots of credit to Mississippi Congressman Gregg Harper. Harper told a Gannett reporter of his irritation with the Freedom Caucus. Harper said, “I am also proud to live in Mississippi where our people have common sense and are not misled by outside groups whose purpose is to raise money.” Harper could have added that Republican in the Freedom Caucus spend more time attacking Republicans rather than Democrats.
Congressman Palazzo, you must be kidding?
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi has endorsed Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee for Speaker of the House to replace John Boehner. In a radio interview, on Twitter and in an Associated Press story, Palazzo said he would support Blackburn if she decides to run.
McDaniel term limit proposal creates a lot of smiles
Politicians are often the source of amusement. State Sen. Chris McDaniel can always be counted on to be a source. A few days ago, The United Conservatives Fund PAC of McDaniel issued a press release regarding term limits. The organization will seek enough voter signatures for a constitutional amendment in 2016 to limit state legislators and statewide elected officials to two consecutive terms in the same office. Of course, while advocating limiting legislators to two consecutive terms, McDaniel is seeking his third term in the Mississippi Senate. The next day I received more than a few calls and emails from people that were very amused that McDaniel is seeking a third term while advocating term limits. In regards to McDaniel, a lot of us are still waiting for him to concede his defeat by Sen. Thad Cochran and to congratulate his fellow Republican on his re-election to another term in the U.S. Senate. McDaniel’s ego, arrogance, and self-righteousness are never diminished. There will never be term limits for McDaniel in “The World is Flat Club.”
In sports, the “silly season” is used most often in reference to NASCAR’S offseason when rumors about drivers switching teams, crew chiefs switching drivers, etc. are in full swing. There’s little doubt that Mississippi politics is having its own version of a silly season with only a few days to go before the Feb. 27 qualifying deadline for statewide, district, legislative, and local candidates. Even in many legislative districts the list of qualified candidates is thin and there will certainly be more candidates jumping into contests before the end of the day next Friday. Here are some of the big “ifs” and discussions that are prime topics for the political silly season…
Harper makes sound statement; comments by Palazzo are weak
Following the vote that re-elected John Boehner as Speaker of the House, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo issued a statement saying that many people asked him to vote against Boehner. Palazzo then proceeded to say that before the vote he met with Boehner one-on-one for more than an hour. With the full plate that Boehner has as Speaker, please forgive me if I can’t quite believe that Boehner took the time to meet “one-on-one” with Palazzo for “more than an hour.”
From that point on, Palazzo’s statement only got more pathetic. You would have thought that Palazzo threatened the Speaker and Boehner promptly quivered and caved in to Palazzo’s demands. Palazzo claimed that he extracted a pledge from Boehner that the Speaker would “stand up to the liberal agenda of President Obama.” Wow, consider that. Without Palazzo’s demands Boehner would have probably become the leading supporter of Obama in the U.S. House.
When the subject comes up about pork barrel spending and congressional earmarks, one of the favorite references is known as the “Bridge to Nowhere.” The $398 million project in Alaska was to build a bridge to an island that contained an airport and a grand total of 50 residents. Mississippi can now stand with Alaska. At NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. we can proudly claim the rocket-testing tower to nowhere.
The U.S. House had two important votes on Wednesday of last week. THOMAS (Congress.gov) is the official website for legislative information and is maintained by the Library of Congress. On the site you can not only get detailed information on the U.S. Senate and House and their members, but you can find all roll call votes of every member of Congress.
The first vote Wednesday was on an amendment to a bill that would fund the government until Dec. 11 or after the November elections. As most people know this is commonly called a continuing resolution (CR), which allows the government to operate after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 when all the necessary appropriation bills have not passed the House and Senate. Funding during the term of the continuing resolution will be at current levels for this fiscal year.
The Arms Race is On
No, I’m not talking about an arms race between two or more nations for military or weaponry superiority. What I’m talking about is the arms race for 2015 campaign contributions when statewide and legislative elections will be held. Last year the 2015 elections were two years away but most people said they had never seen the number of fundraising events or fundraising letters, etc. that were held in 2013. In the past 30 days or so there’s been a steady barrage by elected officials seeking campaign contributions.
One obvious reason is that the next deadline to report campaign contributions is January 30, 2015 for contributions and campaign expenditures made through December 31 of this year. One way for candidates seeking re-election to discourage opposition is to report a large war chest on hand at the end of year. Some politicians might also have their eye on higher office that will require much larger campaign funding. A lot of legislators not only have campaign events in their district but also will hold events in Jackson — the easier way to tap into contributions from Jackson lobbyists and major companies that have a presence in the state capital.
No one can question the very conservative credentials of nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas. Yet, in a column published in early May, Thomas cited Matthew 6:6 when Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Thomas, of course, was commenting in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding prayer at government meetings. Thomas noted that in the majority opinion Justice Anthony Kennedy said that prayers offered at a town council meeting are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation’s traditions. Thomas added, “If prayer is largely ‘ceremonial’ and ‘traditional’ then it has lost all meaning. One might was well chant ‘2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate’.”
And the reason I am noting Thomas’ comments about the decision of the Supreme Court? Headline this week: “Palazzo (Mississippi Congressman) hands out 535 Bibles on Capitol Hill.”