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Grandstanding

October 23, 2013

By BOB SHRALUKA

    Who says the grandstanding in Congress can’t get any worse? Sen. Ted Cruz leads the fight to shut down the government, then goes to a rally at a veterans’ monument and rips the administration for closing the monument and playing politics with the veterans.
    And how about the members of Congress making a big deal about being willing to forego their paychecks while they’ve thrown millions of Americans out of work through the shutdown?
    The loss of one paycheck would amount to roughly $6,700 out of an annual salary of $174,000, it was pointed out in a recent Scripps Howard News Service editorial. Actually, the salaries are “a pittance” to most members of  Congress, the editorial continues, as the average net worth of senators is $11.6 million and $6.5 million for members of the House.
    “Some of these millionaires have voted recently to cut billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — food stamps — while long-term unemployment persists,” the editorial continues. “But the exclusive congressional gyms remain open.”
    Gobs of money and all the perks one can think of. Is it any wonder that these people have no idea what’s going on out here in the real world? Is it any surprise that they’re willing to financially impact millions of people to grandstand for their own political success?
    Take, for instance, Indiana’s own Marlin Stutzman, the Third District Tea Party Republican who the other day famously said, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
    This is the same member of Congress who rails against big government while his family farm operations have received some $998,000 in farm subsidies since 1995. He has several excuses, including telling Sylvia Smith of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette that the direct payments should be eliminated, but until they are, “we can’t say no.” He told Smith the payments are “federal mandates.”      
    Not so, says the Agriculture Department. “It’s a voluntary program,” Carl Schweikhardt, program specialist for the Farm Service Agency, the USDA operation in Indiana, informed Smith. “You can refuse payment on the farm.”
 
Got to Got to be a better way
    One hates to take a shot at schools — especially those in Indiana, which through no fault of their own have become a political football — but it seems there are just too many rigid, uptight folks in charge of some.
    On Long Island, for instance, where kids in the Port Washington School District are being protected from the ravages of balls at recess. You know, basketballs, soccer balls, kick balls, nasty stuff like that. To avoid injuries, the district has banned all balls except Nerf balls on the playground. Games of tag and cartwheels also have become no-nos, unless supervised by a teacher.
    Hey, here’s a better idea: To keep ‘em safe, just ban recess!
    Then there is the high school senior in North Andover, Mass., who was stripped of her captaincy and suspended from five volleyball games because she did the right thing. After getting off work one night, Erin Crosby received a text from a friend who was at a party and said she had too much to drink to drive home. So Erin went to the party and picked up the friend to take her home; well, the party got busted after Erin arrived. Even though the police cleared Erin of any wrongdoing, she had violated school policy simply by being where alcohol was present.
    Her violation involved the school code of conduct for “student leaders.” What better way to exhibit leadership than making sure a friend doesn’t drive drunk? But, hey, a violation is a violation. The policy rules. Only black and only white.
    Sounds like the incident at Bellmont some years ago when a softball player was suspended for five games because the athletic director was sure he saw her smoking. Positive? Well, no; but pretty sure.

    The writer is the editor emeritus of the Decatur Daily Democrat.

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