Congressional Grandstanding

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Congressional hearings were created to educate lawmakers so
they have knowledge before they pass bills or impeach a president.

Not today. Today, hardly any education happens.

During the President Donald Trump impeachment “testimony,” legislators tried to score points. At least five times, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., shut down criticism by shouting, “Gentleman is not recognized!”

I get that politicians are eager for “face time”
in front of a larger audience, but I assumed they would at least try to learn things. Nope.

Maybe they don’t want to ask real questions because they
fear looking as dumb as then-Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, did at a hearing on
Facebook. He asked Mark Zuckerberg, “How do you sustain a business model
in which users don’t pay for your service?”

“We run ads,” smirked Zuckerberg. “I
see,” said Hatch.

What’s obvious to most people somehow eludes the oblivious
“experts” in Congress.

At another Facebook hearing, Congress grilled Zuckerberg
about his plan to launch an electronic currency called Libra. Zuckerberg said,
“I actually don’t know if Libra is going to work, but I believe it’s
important to try new things.”

He was right. But instead of asking about technological or
economic implications of the idea, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, asked Zuckerberg, of
the companies partnering with him, “how many are headed by women?”

“Congressman, I do not know the answer,” replied
Zuckerberg.

“How many of them are minorities?” asked Green.
“Are there any members of the LGBTQ+ community?”

Green doesn’t want to learn anything. He wants to sneer and
score points.

Politicians’ sloppy ignorance is extraordinary. Rep. Steve
King, R-Iowa, grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai about iPhones, citing a story
about his granddaughter using one, leading Pichai to explain,
“Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”

Today’s posturing is not what the Founders had in mind when they invented hearings in 1789.

George Mason said members of Congress “possess
inquisitorial powers” to “inspect the Conduct of public
offices.”

Yes! Investigate government.

But today, they are more likely to threaten CEOs and bully
opponents.

“Are you stupid?” then-Rep. Darrell Issa,
R-Calif., said to one witness. They want to showboat, not learn. Often, they
ask questions even when they know the answers.

“Ms. DeVos, have you ever taken out a student
loan?” asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., of Education Secretary Betsy
DeVos. “Have any of your children had to borrow money?”

Warren knows that DeVos is a billionaire, but she wanted to
score points with her fans.

One of the louder showboaters today is self-proclaimed
socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. She asked Wells Fargo boss Tim
Sloan, “Why was the bank involved in the caging of children?”

“We weren’t,” replied Sloan.

Some of today’s hearings are useful in that we get to see
how absurd and ignorant our representatives can be.

During a hearing on military personnel being stationed on
the island of Guam, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, said, “My fear is that
the whole island will become so overly populated that it would tip over and
capsize.” Really. He said that.

Then there was the time Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chair
of the House Financial Services Committee, summoned bank CEOs to Washington and
demanded, “What are you guys doing to help us with this student loan
debt?!”

“We stopped making student loans in 2007,” Bank of
America’s Brian Moynihan told her.

“We actually ended student lending in 2009,” added
Citigroup’s Michael Corbat.

“When the government took over student lending in 2010
… we stopped doing all student lending,” explained Jamie Dimon of
JPMorgan Chase.

The chair of the Financial Services Committee didn’t even know that her own party kicked bankers out of the student loan business, insisting that government take over?! Apparently not. She is so eager to blame business for government’s mistakes that she didn’t research her own topic.

The more I watch politicians, the more I hate them.

Let’s give them less power.

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