As a native Texan, I’d like to apologize on behalf of Beyoncé, Kelly, LeToya, LaTavia, and all of the other sensible Texans for the antics of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), a useless legislator if there ever were one. This week, Farenthold revealed legislation that would prohibit federal employees found in contempt of Congress from receiving government paychecks. Not so coincidentally, in 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for refusing to cooperate in their witch hunt over the Fast and Furious program.
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The program allowed weapons from the United States to pass in to the hands of suspected gun smugglers — with the intent of tracing them to the upper echelons of Mexican drug cartels. The ATF ran the operation, but they lost track of some 2,000 guns. Those guns were linked to multiple crimes, including the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Justice Department officials repeatedly denied knowledge of the ATF’s program until whistle blowers made the information public. Congressional investigators argued that Holder’s staff was briefed three times prior to that. During hearings, Holder defiantly said, “I want to be clear: Any instance of so-called ‘gun walking’ is unacceptable.” More, “I am determined to ensure that our shared concerns about Operation Fast and Furious lead to more than headline-grabbing Washington ‘gotcha’ games and cynical political point-scoring.”
And now we’re back to Republicans in the House playing political dodgeball. On H.R. 4447, aka the“Contempt Act,” Farenthold said in a press release:
“The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials’ bad behavior. If the average American failed to do his or her job, he or she would hardly be rewarded. High-ranking government officials should be treated no differently than everyone else.”
Mind you, this comes from the party responsible for the recent government shutdown. The same party responsible that elected a House leader that argued Congress “should not be judged on how many new laws we create, we ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal” at a time when millions of Americans continue to languish in harsh economic conditions — conditions created by members of that same party who served in previous (and current) sessions of Congress. I would like to introduce Farenthold to fall directly in to a trap door.
This is a party that boasts of “fiscal responsibility” and yet wastes precious paper on laws with no chance in hell of becoming law. The same party that worked a whooping 109 days last year. If there’s anyone who shouldn’t be getting paid, it ought to be several GOP members of Congress.
If anything, Eric Holder deserves a raise. For trying to ease America’s overcrowded federal prisons in part by reducing mandatory drug sentences — which both liberals and conservatives alike have supported. The same goes for allowing Washington and Colorado to keep their marijuana legalization measures intact. And for being, as Melissa Harris-Perry recently noted, “The Barack Obama we’ve been waiting for.”
Though FOX News has since dismissed it as “pulling the race card,” Holder was right when he strayed from prepared remarks at the NAN Convention and asked, “What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
Holder, who never mentioned race while making those comments, has since elaborated with the Huffington Post:
“I think what we have seen is kind of a breakdown in civility in Washington, D.C., and that becomes important because I think it has substantive impact. We are celebrating the 50th anniversary passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. If we had a Congress or an executive branch-legislative branch relationship in the way that we now have one, where there’s this lack of civility, I wonder whether or not you could have forged the necessary compromises, things that involved personal relationships, in order to get such a landmark piece of legislation passed.
And that’s essentially what I was decrying, the fact that we can’t somehow separate whatever our personal feelings are and focus on our functions as members of the executive branch or as legislators. I think that I’ve done a pretty good job in doing that, but it’s frustrating at times.”
Unlike the likes of Blake Farenthold, Holder actually does his job and uses his platform as attorney general to offer the kind of thoughtful, nuanced commentary about race and politics in this country that we’re not used to getting.
Can someone introduce legislation that would give Farenthold’s salary to Eric Holder’s piggy bank? I mean, if Congress is just about introducing stupid bills with no real chance of passing at the expense of doing something that matters.
Michael Arceneaux blogs at thecynicalones.com, tweets at @youngsinick, and praises Beyoncé’s name everywhere he goes.
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