Lawmaker's license

John McCaslin
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Posted: Jun 30, 2006 12:01 AM

A newcomer to Capitol Hill, a Republican freshman congressman from Texas, is concerned that his congressional colleagues are not as well-versed on the U.S. Constitution as they ought to be as representatives of the American people.

So Rep. K. Michael Conaway has introduced a resolution that, if approved when voted on in September, would require every member of Congress and each person on their staff to read the Constitution at least once per year.

The Constitution is a relatively short document - about 2,500 words - not an "onerous task" by any means to consume, the congressman points out.

Republicans, in comparison, couldn't wait to digest the 75,000-or-so words of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," and Democrats the 80,000 words of Michael Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country?"

Before Conaway was elected to Congress in 2004, he was a Certified Public Accountant. He still maintains his license, which for renewal requires him to participate in 40 hours of continuing professional education each year.

He feels the standards should be no different for congressmen.


TAKE A LESSON

That was golf legend Jack Nicklaus on Capitol Hill the other day telling congressmen that positive behaviors are like the game of golf and are based upon these nine values: honesty, responsibility, respect, judgment, courtesy, perseverance, integrity, confidence and sportsmanship.

He testified about the importance of character education at a hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.


EXIT, STAGE LEFT

Talk about an intriguing compilation of polls on the subject of patriotism, compiled by American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Karlyn Bowman just in time for Independence Day.

The good news from Gallup is that 83 percent of a group it surveyed said they are either extremely or very proud of being an American.

The bad news (unless you're a Republican) is that a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll reports that 24 percent of Democrats said they would leave the United States permanently and live in another country if given the opportunity.


HANG HIM

A word of advice for politicians and celebrities: Don't get caught cheering for the cowboy at a rodeo.

Tom Selleck, who hails from the conservative one-tenth of 1 percent of Hollywood, is coming under attack by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals "for attending rodeos, where horses, bulls, sheep and calves are trucked from city to city to be wrestled to the ground, gouged with spurs, and yanked around their necks with ropes."


ANY ANIMALS LEFT?

It so happens that Rep. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican and co-chairman of the Friends of Animals Caucus, was to hold a hearing Thursday afternoon on humane treatment of farm animals - assuming that they all haven't boarded Noah's ark after this week's deluge of flooding rains.

Matthew Scully, a former White House special assistant and deputy director of speechwriting for President Bush, is among those who will enter written testimony. He authored the recent best seller "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy," which the Library Journal called one of the best books written about animal welfare.

Others testifying in person today include Gene Bauston, president of the Farm Sanctuary; Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society; Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute; and David Andrews, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and consultant to the U.S. Catholic Conference on Bishops.


NEEDS A RIBBON

"Miss Beazley knows courage when he sees it - she sees it." - President Bush, correcting his "gender confusion," as one observer described it, while commenting this week on the Bush family's Scottish Terrier


LOL

"Sir, it's been raining all day and you look completely dry. Do you work for FEMA?"

So inquired comedian and filmmaker Jeffrey Ross of a well-dressed gentleman seated in the front row for Monday night's VIP screening in soggy Georgetown for Mr. Ross' new film, "Patriot Act."

The stand-up comedian told the audience that the documentary - what was originally intended to be a home movie of his USO tour of Iraq, shot with a $600 camcorder - would appeal to everyone, "whether you're a Republican, Democrat or Joe Lieberman."


MURTHA MISSIONARIES

Just in time for the 2006 midterm elections, we learn that supporters of the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Sen. John Kerry are starting "Murtha Lied" - with a Web site "and all the accouterments of a hotshot political campaign," says the guiding force, retired Navy SEAL Capt. Larry W. Bailey of North Carolina.

Bailey informs fellow veterans in a memo we obtained that he's just opened a bank account in the name of "Vets for Truth," as "we're going to need enough money to send our Operation Street Corner 'missionaries' into Rep. John Murtha's home district in Pennsylvania."

Murtha, a veteran of the Marine Corps who has served more than 35 years in the House, has been the most outspoken member in Congress against U.S. war policy in Iraq. Keep an eye out for the veteran group's launch at www.murthalied.com.


WITH ONE EXCEPTION?

"In all my years in public life, I have never seen leaders that act with the contempt for the truth as I have witnessed in George Bush's administration." That's what Al Gore is claiming, at least, in a Democratic Party fundraising letter dated Monday.


ALL ABOUT POLITICS

We have in Rep. Jim McDermott an honest politician. The Washington Democrat acknowledged during Monday's late-night congressional debate over the war in Iraq: "The first thing you have to understand is that everything that is happening on this floor and in the other body has to do with the 7th of November, the election."


SIMILAR, EH?

That was the speaker of the Canadian Senate, Noel A. Kinsella, and Canadian Sens. Colin Kenny and Donald Oliver dropping in this week to observe the proceedings of the U.S. Senate.

Kinsella, a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, was appointed his country's speaker on Feb. 8, holding a post similar to that of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.


TENANTS OF THE TIMES

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson is being applauded on Capitol Hill for his intervention after managers of a Section 8 housing complex built with HUD funding told tenants that they no longer could hold Bible study on the premises.

The owners of the South Carolina apartment complex said they were afraid of being served with lawsuits for allowing religious activities under the Fair Housing Act.

Jackson's office sent them a letter stating the concerns were unfounded, pointing out that the Fair Housing Act requires that voluntary religious events be treated like any other public event.

"Thank you for your leadership in protecting the religious freedom of Americans," said a letter to Jackson signed by nearly three-dozen congressmen.


RAVEN'S RETURN

Edgar Allan Poe is returning to his old haunt, the Willard Hotel near the White House, where the gifted writer lodged way back in 1843. (It was the City Hotel before it became the Willard in 1850.)

Actor David Keltz will assume the persona of Poe during a pair of special performances July 23 in the Nest bar of the hotel. He'll perform Poe's little-known romantic comedy, "The Spectacles," retell his classic tales of horror and conclude with a recitation of "The Raven."


GIVING TO GATES

With so much of the world in dire straits,
Even we with our meager estates
Should each do what we can
To relieve Fellow Man:
Let's give all that we have to Bill Gates.

- F.R. Duplantier