Imperial politics: right or wrong for the country?

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid smiling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“Rather than using the 10-day recess for the Independence Day holiday to reach a deal with (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell, (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid on Monday escalated the fight, warning that continued delaying tactics by Republicans would prompt him to unilaterally change long-standing rules about debate time.” (Emphasis added.)

This comes on the heels of actions taken by President Obama to sidestep Congress on a number of issues. Republicans say many of these actions are unconstitutional and House Speaker John Boehner has threatened to sue the president over the issue.

My question is this:

Media Musings: Throw the bums back in

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of June 28, 2014


Eagle clutching American flag with an I Voted sticker on it, perched on a shelf of American history booksA Seattle anesthesiologist had his license suspended because he sent nearly 250 sexually explicit texts during surgeries. He probably will run for public office.

In Maryland, you can’t run for office unless you have skeletons in your closet. On the ballot this month was a state House delegate who was convicted of driving a car and a boat while drunk; a county official accused of misspending, plagiarism, and assault; and a state senator who was censured by colleagues for using his office for private gain.

My favorite though is the state Senate candidate who is on probation for breaking election laws—and may have his probation revoked for running for office.

General Motors is recalling 29,000 Cruze model Chevys because of faulty airbags. But we don’t recall U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his 434 fellow members of Congress because they are faulty airbags.

Oh sure, there are the exceptions. Rabid Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, then the House majority leader, was trounced from the right by an unknown Tea Partier. And most of the Maryland scoundrels lost their bids for election or re-election.

But on average, 90 percent of members of Congress who seek re-election win. Some hope the tide will turn this year. After all, 22 percent of Americans polled by Gallup in April believe members of Congress do not deserve to be reelected, the lowest percentage recorded in an election year—except for January when the number was 17 percent. But that’s Congress as a whole. When asked about their specific incumbent, 50 percent support their member of Congress’s reelection.

For comparison, in 1992, 29 percent of Americans believed members of Congress as a whole should be reelected. Eighty-eight percent of them were.

Why the disconnect? Scientists have found the answer, as scientists always do. It was found in the 1946 Three Stooges movie The Three Troubledoers, when Moe asks Larry and Curley, “Are we mice or men?” Larry and Curley’s answer: “Mice!” And so we are.

Using electric-shock therapy, researchers proved the theory of learned helplessness. First they enclosed a group of mice in a room with no chance of escape and lit them up. Then they opened a door and electrified the room again. While most of the mice said, “I’m out of here,” 20 percent endured the shock in a whimpering ball rather than take the escape. The mice acted as if nothing they could do would change their situation, and so they did nothing.

Voting for an incumbent under the banner, “Throw the bums out,” is learned helplessness. Possibly worse is not voting at all, which is the learned-helplessness course taken by more than 46 percent of the voting age population in the 2012 election.

What’s an electorate to do? We could follow Pope Francis’ lead and excommunicate the mafiosi. That would only knock out about 30 percent of the Congress, but that’s still a lot more than we do through elections.

Or we could send them in search of public restrooms in DC’s Metro system. They’re there, but they’re hidden. It took a Washington Post reporter 20 minutes to find a useable one at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station—with the station manager’s help. Members of Congress have perfected the art of investigating crap and getting lost in the process. If they’re stalled in the stalls they can do the country no harm. There are mirrors for reflected selfies but there’s no wi-fi by which to send them. And every day would be a travel day.

Or we can be anesthetized by sexually explicit selfies that no longer shock us and vote the bums back in. I’ll pick you up in my Chevy Cruze on the way to the polls.



“Three Stooges Quotes.” The Three Stooges Online Filmography. Accessed 28 June 2014.

Associated Press. “GM recalling more than 29,000 Cruzes to fix air bags.” The Washington Post. 26 June 2014.

Bever, Lindsey. “This might be a first: A Seattle doctor is suspended for sexting during surgery.” The Washington Post. 10 June 2014.

Fisher, Marc. “In Maryland, it’s electable scoundrels vs. unelectable rogues.” The Washington Post. 24 June 2014.

Jones, Jeffrey M. “Ahead of Midterms, Anti-Incumbent Sentiment Strong in U.S.” Gallup Politics. 14 May 2014.

Kim, Meeri. “Why are some depressed, others resilient? Scientists home in one part of the brain.” The Washington Post. 5 June 2014.

McDonald, Michael. “2012 General Election Turnout Rates.” George Mason University. Last updated 22 July 2013.

Pullella, Philip. “Pope Francis lambastes mobsters, says mafiosi ‘are excommunicated.’” The Washington Post. 21 June 2014.

St. Martin, Victoria. “On the hunt for the elusive Metro restroom.” The Washington Post. 7 June 2014.

Consistent Voice Communications,


Roll Call logo.



This was the lead in a Roll Call story posted yesterday evening:

“It’s a tale as old as time: From the moment a high-profile terrorist suspect is snagged, the partisan fight is renewed over whether terrorism suspects belong in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.”

Really? As old as time? 9/11 was only 13 years ago. Hardly as old as time. And no editor caught this?

I know English is hard, but it’s not that hard.

Media Musings: In fine bullying fettle

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of May 31, 2014


Old white man sticking out tongue with thumbs in ears and fingers wiggling

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / atic12

Did your out-of-pocket expenses skyrocket along with your premiums once Obamacare went into effect? Mine did too. Obamacare has forced us to find alternative means to remain healthy and keep our healthcare costs down.

On my end, of course, I could quit smoking and drinking. But that ain’t gonna happen. I could cut back on my binge eating. But I still hold out hopes of coming out of the closet and slamming grown men for pay as a professional football player. You have to eat big and be big for that. In the 1960s, Roger Brown of the Detroit Lions was the NFL’s only 300-plus-pound player. Now they’re a dime a dozen, which is how many years ago offensive lineman Aaron Gibson became the game’s first 400-pound player.

I’m halfway to achieving my goal. I’m offensive. Now I just need to become a lineman.

My offensiveness, I’ve discovered, is what will keep me healthy. A study published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined there are long-term health benefits to bullying. Bullies, it turns out, have lower rates of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Bullying is the new yoga. Therefore, the remainder of this column is a prescription for elevating my health. Most of the bullied-to-come deserve it anyway.

My dad used to say that the only way to deal with a bully was to bully back, so let’s start with that worthless piece of crap, L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. I’m coming over and, with the help of my hefty NFL friends, I’m going to hang you by your testicles from an NBA-regulation hoop and have the boys dunk their balls on your boys, kneeing you in the face on the way up. Then we’ll see who owns who, you demented hog.

I’m sorry. Was that too over the top? Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Maybe we’ll send Joni Ernst over to tame Sterling. Ernst is running for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Iowa. She was relatively unknown until she ran a television ad proclaiming, “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm,” and promised to “make ’em squeal” in Washington. The ad went viral on YouTube and Ernst went from an unknown to a contender in weeks. But she’s still not a sure thing. If you want to win, Joni, take a detour to the City of Angels and make this pig squeal. That video would assuredly go viral.

Oh, I feel so diabolically metabolically healthy!

It’s apparently politically incorrect to bully women these days, at least judging from the mainstream media coverage in the aftermath of Elliot Rodger gunning down pretty women at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He gunned them down because pretty women routinely dissed him. They dissed him because they were pretty and he was a creep.

But a particular female circuit court judge in Montgomery County, Maryland, is just aching for an atomic wedgie. When now-judge Audrey Creighton was a lowly public defender, she represented Rickley Joshua Senning, an already convicted violent felon less than half her age. I don’t know if it was lust at first sight, but lovers they became. That is, until he surprised her by violently kidnapping her in an apparent drunken rage. Now one may argue that Creighton has been bullied enough by Senning and I shouldn’t pile on. But when you’re that stupid, the wedgies keep coming. Besides, my cardio needs the workout. (Senning, no doubt, is as healthy as a racehorse. He also undoubtedly knows that “bully” was derived from the 1500s Dutch word for “sweetheart.” I slap because I love.)

NASA deserves to be cyberbullied for hyping a giraffe that NASA said would spit out hundreds of camels an hour. Instead, sky watchers got skunked. Let me explain. The May 23 Camelopardalids meteor shower was predicted to rival the prestigious Perseid meteor shower, with more than 200 meteors streaking across the sky each hour. Oh, yeah, NASA did mention the storm could be the dud that it was, but it was just a whisper among the hype. They called it the Camelopardalids, a scientific name that contains a camel, not a giraffe, but still tried to persuade us they called it that because the meteors will appear to spit from the giraffe constellation. Astute observers will note the scientific name also ends with a lid on it, which is what happened to the shower. And they wonder why geeks get picked on.

That’s enough of a workout for today. Obamacare is not going to get any cheaper and I need to save some bully medicine for a future dose. Fortunately, I’ll never run out in my lifetime.



Babb, Kent. “Ex-NFL linemen discover that weighing 300 pounds or more is no asset in life after football.” The Washington Post. 28 May 2014.

Chappell, Bill. “Tonight’s New ‘Giraffes’ Meteor Shower Could Be A Great One.” NPR. 23 May 2014.

Medina, Jennifer. “Campus Killings Set Off Anguished Conversation About the Treatment of Women.” New York Times. 26 May 2014.

McCoy, Terrence. “Donald Sterling blames woman for his own racial comments: ‘I was baited.’” The Washington Post. 12 May 2014.

Morse, Dan. “Montgomery police seek suspect for allegedly abducting a judge from home where they lived.” The Washington Post. 23 May 2014.

Rucker, Philip, and Balz, Dan. “How Joni Ernst’s ad about ‘castrating hogs’ transformed Iowa’s U.S. Senate race.” The Washington Post. 11 May 2014.

Sullivan, Gail. “The health benefits of bullying.” The Washington Post. 13 May 2014.


Consistent Voice Communications,

Earth Day musings: A natural reconnection

I’m an outdoorsman. At least I used to be. My earliest memories are fuzzy visions of recreating in the great outdoors. I was a Boy Scout and my dad was our scoutmaster. Dad insisted that the troop camp one weekend a month throughout the year, except for June and July, which was reserved for a two-week Scout camp. Then there were the family camping trips up and down the East Coast. Later, my friends and I threw a tent and sleeping bags in the car trunk for road trips to scenic spots.

Terry F. Liercke, president of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, led a Nature/Bird Walk.

Terry F. Liercke led the Nature/Bird Walk. Click on the photo for more images on my Pinterest page.

I carried on that tradition when I began my own family. My daughters were in diapers and barely crawling when I began taking them on family camping trips. We camped, hiked, snow skied, and water skied throughout California. When we moved to Virginia, we explored the Shenandoah Mountains and Valley by foot and canoe, camped at Pohick Bay Regional Park, and kayaked off Chincoteague Island.

But somehow my daughters aged and so did I. Somehow my outdoor excursions became limited to performing yard work. I had lost my connection to nature. Daughter Clare pushed me back with a recent gift of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Near Washington, D.C. On Saturday, I took my first guided nature walk in years.

Our guide was Terry F. Liercke, president of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. Our venue was Mason Neck State Park, which was celebrating its 2014 Eagle Festival. Initially, I was disappointed because our hike was to be along the Bay View Trail, the trail I had hiked the week before. I wanted to hike the Eagle Spur Trail. It was, after all, the Eagle Festival and I wanted to see a bald eagle, or two, or three! But I grudgingly plodded along with about a dozen others.

It wasn’t long before I realized I was seeing the trail with new eyes. I learned, for example, that oak trees, including the native oaks of this mature hardwood forest, can host 534 species of moths and butterflies. The bird boxes in the freshwater marsh were erected for the wood duck. Mayapples and spring beauties adorn the forest floor. Blueberry bushes grow in wild abundance. Butterflies and bees avoid azaleas because they are non-native plants. Beaver and Canada geese live in harmony, or at least the goose we saw napping on a beaver lodge. A pair of osprey flew overhead as we approached the shore of Belmont Bay. But no eagles, until one of our group called out, pointing to a spot above the early spring’s leafless canopy, “Is that a bald eagle?” It was. Eagle Festival mission accomplished.

Bald eagle flies over hikers.

Bald eagle flies over hikers. Click on the photo for more images on my Pinterest page.

One would think it would be difficult to visit the park and fail to see an eagle. The Mason Neck peninsula juts into the Potomac River about 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. Like Italy, the peninsula is shaped like a boot. Mason Neck State Park comprises the top of the boot along Belmont Bay. The Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge is the boot’s sole on the banks of the Potomac River. It was the first national refuge created specifically to provide bald eagle habitat. Gunston Hall (home of founding father George Mason) and Pohick Bay Regional Park run up the Achilles tendon bordering Gunston Cove and Pohick Cove, respectively. Together, the four entities provide wildlife with 6,000 acres of protected land in which to thrive. Dozens of bald eagles call the peninsula home. One of them had to fly overhead.

Caroline "CobraCaroline" Seitz explains how the eastern rat snake she is holding is a bald eagle food source.

Caroline “CobraCaroline” Seitz explains how the eastern rat snake she is holding is a bald eagle food source. Click on the photo for more images on my Pinterest page.

And one did. Our nature walk and mission concluded, I was drawn to the Big Tent by the energetic voice of “CobraCaroline” enthusing her young audience with a show-and-tell of native reptiles. Caroline Seitz owns Reptiles Alive! LLC, which performs live animal shows throughout the Greater Washington, D.C., area. In addition to being an entertainer, Seitz also is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Along with her enthralled youngsters, I learned that the eastern rat snake is among the bald eagles’ taste treats, although 90 percent of an eagle’s diet consists of fish. I also learned that the eastern snapping turtle can grow to 75 pounds. Happily, even I can outrun a turtle.

Someday, I may have to. Because I’m back to nature. Anyone want to mow my lawn while I’m hiking the great outdoors?


If you go:

The park is in southern Fairfax County, about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. Access to the park is via U.S. 1, then five miles east on Route 242 (Gunston Road) to the park entrance.

The address is 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079-4010. Phone: 703-339-2385703-339-2385. Email:

Passenger vehicle parking fees: $4 weekdays; $5 weekends.

There are no campgrounds at Mason Neck State Park, but camping is available at nearby Pohick Bay Regional Park.

© 2014 Consistent Voice Communications, LLC ♦

A walk in the park

For my 60th birthday, daughter Clare presented me with AMC’s Best Day Hikes Near Washington, D.C. It’s not the first time she suggested I go take a hike.

Sign showing Bay View Trail 0.2 miles ahead.

Click on the photo to see more photos on my Pinterest page.

On Sunday, I opted to hike the Bay View Trail at Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, VA, just a 25-minute drive from my home. Mason Neck is just a hop, skip, and jump from Gunston Hall, George Mason’s home. (George Mason was the father of the Bill of Rights, for those of you wondering.) It’s also a hop, skip, and jump from Pohick Bay Regional Park. I’ve visited Gunston Hall and camped at Pohick Bay, but somehow never meandered down the road to Mason Neck. It’s been on my list for years because of its reputation for bald eagle sightings, but I needed to be prodded by Clare to get me there.

Everyone else in the Greater D.C. area were crowded into the pathways around the Tidal Basin for the Cherry Blossom Festival, so Mason Neck was relatively quiet. Alas, the bald eagles were also sparse, but then I hiked a trail on the other side of the park from the eagle trails.

Next Saturday, the park is hosting its 2014 Eagle Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Media Musings: Wrestling with gaiety

Editor’s note: This is another in my series of monthly musings on the news, published on the Sunday following the last Saturday of each month, except when it’s not.


© 2014 Tom Pfeifer

Current as of Feb. 22, 2014


It has been a gay month.

Wrestler in Mexican wrestling mask in front of Mexican flag

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / lunamarina

What could make you more jovial, for instance, than to discover that former wrestler and third-party Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is in hiding? U.S. drones apparently have driven him to an “undisclosed location” in Mexico. Well, actually, I’m pretty sure the drones didn’t drive Jesse. He probably drove himself. But the drones certainly followed him to the border. Jesse was able to hide after crossing over because the U.S. would never violate another country’s sovereign airspace.

Jesse would like us to thank him. He’s employing Mexican workers who would have fled to the U.S. for jobs if it weren’t for him.

Now, doesn’t that make you gay?

With fourteen children, “Octomom” Nadya Suleman obviously isn’t gay. Her gayness took another hit this month when she was hit with a fourth charge of welfare fraud. It seems she forgot to disclose the income she received from performing in porn videos, posing topless for magazine spreads, and boxing with other infamous personalities who make the rest of us shake our heads.

But don’t shake your head too hard. Excessive head shaking is known to create football brain, which is an unhappy condition because there aren’t any gays in professional football. Well, at least not yet and not openly. Those who were gay hid in the closet with Jesse who, I’m sure, hasn’t a jolly bone in his body. But the fantasy of gay-free football vanished when All-American University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who is to penetrate the NFL draft in May, announced he was gay a few weeks ago. His prospects in the draft slipped from the ninetieth-best to the 160th overnight. NFL teams fear his gaiety would be a distraction – and that there would be too many defensive ends in the locker room.

Now his prospects for getting paid to tackle grown men and make them cry like little girls have dimmed. And going down on the history books – oops, a typo – going down in the history books as the first gay professional athlete has also been torn asunder. That honor goes to NBA Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, whose ten-day professional contract inked the deal. Collins doesn’t drool when playing with manly men, but he does dribble on the court. Perhaps that’s why it’s only a ten-day contract.

Another gay milestone was erected in Montgomery County, Maryland, when openly gay Boy Scout Pascal Tessier was awarded his Eagle Scout badge, the highest rank to be achieved in the scouts. Tessier is believed to be the first openly gay Eagle Scout honored since the national council agreed to turn a blind eye to the sexuality of youths. But the seventeen-year-old will have to shed his uniform in a few months when he turns eighteen. Can’t have swishing adult scouts.

It’s a good bet Tessier was taught in coed classrooms. But where would he have landed had he been taught in nearby Prince George’s County? There, educators are going back to the future by separating the genders in middle school because, with all those teenage hormones raging, having boys and girls together is a distraction the size of an NFL defensive end. So, would Tessier have been taught with the girls to minimalize his distractions, thereby making it a coed classroom?

It’s enough to make your brain hurt. So we best get ourselves to Colorado, where smoking marijuana is legal but same-sex marriage is not. It’s a place where you can be deliriously happy but not gay. In fact, it’s become a marijuana tourist mecca.

“Dream that little creampuff dream, pot patriots,” high-life reporter Andrea Sachs wrote in The Washington Post. Just don’t be an open creampuff unless you plan to join the nine gay couples who have sued to overturn Colorado’s ban on gay marriage.

In Minnesota, whence our illustrious former wrestler (it’s so real!) and governor hails, you can marry someone of the same gender, but you can’t be happy. And perhaps that’s the real reason for Jesse’s retreat to the drug-lord-laden south. If you live in a fantasy world, being gay just isn’t enough for true happiness.



Babb, Kent. Mike Jones contributed. “Michael Sam’s announcement prompts NFL to examine what it considers a ‘distraction.’” The Washington Post. 10 February 2014.

Coffman, Keith. “Same-sex couples challenge Colorado ban on gay marriage.” Reuters. 19 February 2014.

Kopan, Tal. “Jesse Ventura hiding from drones.” Politico. 5 February 2014.

Rogers, John. The Associated Press. “‘Octomom’ faces additional welfare fraud charge.” AP News. 5 February 2014.

Sachs, Andrea. “A new Rocky Mountain high: Colorado open for cannabis tourism.” The Washington Post. 6 February 2014.

Vargas, Theresa. “An openly gay Eagle Scout achieves a milestone in Montgomery County.” The Washington Post. 10 February 2014.

Wiggins, Ovetta. “Students at Prince George’s school learn in single-gender classrooms.” The Washington Post. 10 February 2014.

Youngmisuk, Ohm; Shelburne, Ramona; and Stein, Marc. Mike Mazzeo and Arash Markazi contributed. “Nets sign Jason Collins.” 24 February 2014.

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