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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 25, 2007 / 9 Tamuz, 5767

The ‘Do-Nothing Congress’ — big salary, little work, free trips

By Dick Morris & Eileen Mc Gann


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Americans are not happy about the job that Congress is doing, and with very good reason. According to the results of a Gallup Poll completed last week, only 14 percent of the American people have a lot of confidence in Congress.

That's the lowest Congressional rating since Gallup started measuring confidence in American institutions in May of 1973. Even then, at the height of the Watergate scandal, Congress scored a 42 percent confidence rating. And now, Congress is rated as the worst of all 16 American institutions measured.

The results are hardly surprising when you look at how little the House and Senate actually work, their minimal accomplishments and their generosity to themselves and their families. They have not been able to pass important legislation on minimum wage, immigration reform, or anything else of importance. Instead, they spen d their time raising money for themselves, bickering and passing bills to change the names of courthouses and post offices, commending winning sports teams, and suggesting that the flag be flown on Father's Day. These are their weighty concerns.

Congress Will Be Out of Session for More than 16 Weeks

In our new book, Outrage, we document the awful truth about the "Do-Nothing Congress." The fact is that they are paid at least $165,500 a year, and they hardly show up at all. In 2006, for example, Congress was only in session for 103 days, slightly more than two days a week on average. Nice work, if you can find it.

When Harry Truman criticized the "Do-Nothing Congress" in 1948, the House was in session for only 108 days!

In the current Congress, despite Speaker Pelosi's loud promise of a five-day workweek, the House schedule is laughable. The first clue that members wouldn't be working harder was when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the House would take a day off during the first week in session. Why? Was there a national emergency? Maybe a catastrophic storm? Not at all. It was because of the championship college football game between Oklahoma State and Florida State. Obviously oblivious to the criticisms of Congressional laziness, Hoyer explained that the work of the Congress would be suspended so that everyone could watch a football game.

How many American workers are given a day off to watch a football game?

A close look at the schedule of the House is shocking. Congress will be out of Washington for more than 16 weeks. And when they are technically in session, they don't do much. Take the month of February, for example: the House was only in session for nine days — and on three of those days, the sessions lasted less than 20 minutes, while a fourth lasted for 39 minutes. Their designated "President's Day District Work Period" is a ridiculously transparent euphemism for a vacation week — sometimes involving free travel. Right after the so-called travel "reforms" were passed, 66 members of the House traveled during February at the expense of private organizations (legal under the new rules), many of them to exotic vacation spots.

Free Trips to San Juan in February — Bring Along the Kids!

Fourteen members and their spouses spent five days of the "President's Day District Work Period" at a luxurious hotel in sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico at an Aspen Institute conference on "No Child Left Behind." Several of the members apparently took the conference mandate quite literally and brought their own children for a free trip: Congressman Zach Wamp, of Tennessee, was joined by his son, Cody, and Congressman Jan Schakowsky, of Illinois, was accompanied by her daughter, Mary Hart. The average cost of the trip was about $7,000 per member. Only five of the 15 were members of the House Education Committee:

  • Zach Wamp (R-TN)
  • Melvin Watt (D-NC)
  • John Tierney (D-MA)*
  • Janet Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Edward Pastor (D-AZ)
  • George Miller (D-CA)*
  • Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  • Raymond Green (D-TX)
  • Diane Degette(D-CO)
  • Susan Davis (D-CA)*
  • Russ Holt (D-NJ)*
  • Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)*
  • Sam Farr (D- CA)
  • Bob Etheridge(D-NC)
  • Richard Lugar (R-IN)

* member, House Education and Labor Committee

Last summer, the director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, former U.S. Senator Dick Clark, insisted, in an interview with us, that Aspen had discontinued paying for the trips of the children or siblings of members. Apparently, that policy has been changed, since two children went to San Juan and another sibling to China.

And, by the way, Speaker Pelosi has proposed that adult children be permitted to accompany members on taxpayer paid trips.

A number of the February travelers are perennial beneficiaries of the Aspen largesse. For example, while House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller may have had an interest in the "No Child Left Behind" conference, he is a serial traveler on the Aspen dime. Since 2000, he and his wife have attended a total of 30 Aspen conferences at a cost of more than $125,000, and total trips valued at over $200,000 — and only three of them were concerned with education. Mr. and Mrs. Miller traveled to Aspen conferences in:

Naples, Fla., San Juan, Vancouver, Prague, Grand Cayman, Florence, Helsinki, Punta Mita, Mexico (three times) Scottsdale, China, Barcelona (two times), Montega Bay, Jamaica, Rome, Moscow, Cancun, Venice, Dublin, Istanbul (two times), Honolulu, Krakow, and Llubjana.

In addition, Congressman Miller has traveled on government expense to:

Mexico, Cambodia (two times), Vietnam (two times), South Africa, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Laos, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel (two times), Jordan, Iraq, Italy (two times), Sudan (two times), Ghana, Liberia, and Cape Verde. (The records do not indicate whether his wife also joined him on these trips.)

The government trips consumed almost 75 days at a cost of over $65,000, excluding the airfares for military transport. And, Congressman Miller is not a member of any committee dealing with foreign relations. The Aspen trips took over 150 days! That's an average of almost 30 days each year!

Who has time to work with this kind of travel schedule?

But he's not alone.

Fellow traveler Sen. Richard Lugar is another Aspen favorite. He and his wife were on 25 other Aspen trips and visited:

Naples, Helsinki (two times), Grand Cayman, Punta Mita, Mexico (three times), Scottsdale, London, Montega Bay, Rome, Moscow, Honolulu, Cancun, Barcelona, Lausanne, Venice, D ublin, Istanbul, and Krakow.

Almost makes you want to be a Senator, doesn't it?

Other Aspen regular travelers and their wives with the number of free trips include:

  • Howard Berman (D-CA) — 18
  • Donald Payne (D-NJ) — 16
  • Henry Waxman (D-CA) — 13
  • Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) — 12
  • Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) — 11
  • Gene Greene (D-TX) — 11
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA) — 10
  • Nita Lowey (D-NY) — 10

April in China

During the so-called "Spring District Work Period" in April, many of the same characters went on yet another Aspen trip to China for a Chinese-American relations conference at a cost of about $25,000 per couple. Only two of the travelers were on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Don Payne (D-NJ) brought his brother along. Joining the group were:

  • Donald Payne (D-NJ)
  • Lloyd D oggett (D-TX)
  • Frederick Upton (R-MI)
  • Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
  • Susan Davis (D-CA)
  • Brian Baird (D-WA)
  • Mike Honda (D-CA)
  • Michael Castle (R-DE)
  • Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
  • William Clay (D-MO)
  • Tom Petri (R-WI)
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)

Slovenia in May

During the "Memorial Day District Work Period," the following members went on an Aspen sponsored trip to Slovenia, no doubt tending to their district and constituents all the while they were sight-seeing. Most were accompanied by their spouse. What is truly amazing is that every single one of the participants had already attended other conferences on the same subject. Howard Berman, Henry Waxman and George Miller — and their wives — went to five separate Aspen conferences in various European capitals and a Mexican resort; Lloyd Doggett and his wife attended four. The complete list of attendees:

  • Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)*
  • Rush Holt (D-NJ)***
  • George Miller (D-CA **
  • John Tierney (D-MA)*
  • Melvin Watt (D-NC)***
  • Harry Waxman (D-CA)**
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)***
  • Phil English (R-PA)***
  • Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)**
  • Howard Berman (D-CA)**

* Attended four Aspen conferences on Political Islam: Mexico, Barcelona, Istanbul, and Slovenia

** Attended five Aspen conferences on Political Islam: Helsinki, Mexico, Barcelona, Istanbul, Slovenia

*** Attended two Aspen conferences on Political Islam: Istanbul, Slovenia(Holt)Mexico, Slovenia (Watt),

**** Attended three Aspen conferences on Political Islam: Barcelona, Istanbul, Slovenia

What's wrong with this picture?

Why would the Aspen Institute invite the same people back to conference after conference about the same topic in expensive and exotic places? Why are so many members invited to participate in forums that have nothing to do with their committee assignments? Why are most of the participants Democrats?

Aspen points out that it does not lobby and only wants to give Congressmen the opportunity to think about important issues away from the pressures of the Capital. Given what we know about their schedules, that's hardly a good argument for the free trips.

It's true that Aspen does not lobby, but it does develop public policy initiatives on a wide range of issues and even has a special conference for legislative staff. So, it definitely has a point of view — and usually a liberal one. There's nothing at all improper about Aspen's conferences, but the lavish foreign trips contribute to the evolving Congressional imperiousness.

What's wrong with the free travel? Well, for one, it creates a sense of entitlement. Members of Congress have gotten used to being wined, dined and flown to beautiful a nd expensive places. It adds to the insulation from their constituents, it takes up time that should be spent on the job they were elected to do and it basically provides tax free income for free travel.

And it's not just Aspen. Another favorite travel underwriter is the International Management and Development Fund, which hosted Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and his wife on a $20,000 trip to Germany in February. Congressman Hinchey has received over $200,000 worth of free travel since 2000. Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Mark Souder (R-IN), Tom Feeney (R-FL) and Ralph Regula (R-OH) also went to Germany.

It's not what they were elected to do. Since 2000, Aspen has spent over $4 million on 719 trips for members of Congress and their spouses and family members.

It's time for Congress to stop the free travel and focus on the important issues that need resolution. That means showing up for work and making tough decisions.

Maybe then, Americans might have some confidence in Congress.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is author, most recently, of "Outrage: How Illegal Immigration, the United Nations, Congressional Ripoffs, Student Loan Overcharges, Tobacco Companies, Trade Protection, and Drug Companies Are Ripping Us Off . . . And". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.



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