Founded by geniuses … run by idiots!

Last month President Trump sent up a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. District Court who had never tried a case at law in his entire life. At his confirmation hearing, one Senator – a conservative Republican – completely demolished his candidacy. This Senator’s questions were delivered gently and in a friendly manner but they probed like a surgeon’s scalpel. And the blood flowed freely. Shortly thereafter the candidate withdrew his name from nomination. Out of consideration for his family, I won’t mention his name.

I recall thinking at the time, “Now if we only had more Senators like this ...”

Of course, the true culprit is Donald Trump, as it has been innumerable times before. By now anyone not blinded by party allegiance knows that Trump is totally unsuited for his job – by knowledge of its functions, by temperament and by inclination. His list of failed or flawed appointments is disturbingly long. That doesn’t mean that none of his appointments are well-qualified nor that he can’t accomplish valuable results in general. It simply means that he is often more a hindrance than a help in his floundering endeavors. If, unaccountably, you doubt this, watch what he tweets the next time an important issue arises. His mind is an open book for those who choose to read it, and these tweets are an unexpurgated excerpt.

Ah, but then we have the Congress. Let’s ignore for the moment the current fuss over whether to keep its doors open or not. Do you know what the most important responsibility of that august body is? It is to define necessary federal governmental activities and then to appropriate the funds required to accomplish them. In theory, this is kicked off by a budget request from the President, but the common practice has evolved to ignore that request and for Congress to create its own budget, expressing its own priorities. The crucial aspect is a set of twelve bills that make up the entire federal budget. This is supposed to be completed by October 1 of each year. Would you like to guess when was the last time this task was successfully completed?

Well, the last time a full set of appropriation bills were passed on time was 1994. The practice that has evolved is for all of these laws to be cobbled together into a massive omnibus spending package, and to do this either very late in the process or long after it is supposed to be in effect. Often many of these crucial decisions are defined without public hearings and without significant Congressional debate. I can assert with confidence that not a single one of the 535 members of Congress reads even a significant part of this prolix compendium.

All of this leads me back to the Senator I mentioned in the beginning. He is Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La). Last Friday he told reporters, “Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots.”

Amen to that!

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