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The Freedom Caucus Chronicles | Madisonville

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Sen. Ted Cruz : This group of resolute men gathers to light a torch in the darkness. Standing sentry at the door are two American bald eagles, Freedom and Caucus, the tethered reminders of the liberty hobbled so casually, even callously, by the nearby Congress.  

Rep. Jim Jordan : Thank you, Sen. Cruz.  We’d like to get started. As usual, you remind us of the dramatic time we live in. We’re here to plan strategy for the leadership elections.  

Dear John Boehner: The Madisonville Papers

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To: John Boehner  

From: Kevin McCarthy  

Madisonville Gazes Into Boehner's Papal Moment

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Boehner: Welcome to Congress, Your Holiness. Your timing is immaculate, if you don’t mind me saying so. We sure need you around here. You can cool passions running pretty high lately.  

Francis: May the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your house. But what difference can I make?  

House Panel Hones Skills on Genetically Modified Consumers | Madisonville

Ranking member Schrader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The more obscure House committee hearings can be like minor league baseball: a place to see raw talent refining its skills for a bigger stage. You just have to look past the wild pitches and base-running mistakes.  

House Agriculture has a Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee that includes Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and ranking member Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., on the roster. Davis, holding the gavel in the absence of the chairman, pounded it audibly at a hearing last week and spoke with one-day-I’ll-be-a-real-chairman deliberation. Schrader kept saying “this great country” as though he had been flubbing it in the past and was sent down for additional practice.  

Senate Panel Goes Back to (Dr.) Oz | Madisonville

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You could tell Oz was a star because his entourage included somebody to knot his tie. Bright studio lights were stationed in the corners for the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance hearing Tuesday. Other witnesses knotted their own ties and mostly faded into the wings.  

McCaskill gave Oz a tongue-lashing, telling him to stop talking about the benefits of green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia and raspberry ketone — “The number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat!” — on his show. "Why don’t you tell people to take a walk instead of a pill?" McCaskill asked. She was on such a roll that you expected her to accuse Oz of being the inspiration for the 64-oz. soda. Poor Oz — “This is a huge problem for me.” — is finding his words showing up in the diet product ads.  

Health Subcommittee Diagnoses Country’s Mood | Madisonville

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The June 11 hearing on 21st century cures raised the question of how to encourage investment in potential treatments or cures for all those sick people. The issue combines two things Americans are passionate about: Their health and getting rich. The hearing was accordingly filled to standing-room-only capacity.  Doctors are identifying problems so fast that they now can list about 7,500 conditions with no cure or treatment. The number ranged from 7,000 to 8,000 through the hearing, possibly because more were being identified as the event progressed. Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette got something caught in her throat during her statement, possibly running up the condition meter. She eventually cleared it, possibly signifying a solution. Only about 500 conditions can be treated.  

The British have a joke that five minutes after meeting an American, they’ve been told his entire medical history. With so many health problems plaguing so many Americans, the British are going to have to allocate more time.  

House Panel Searches for Intelligent Life | Madisonville

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The committee initially stumbled over what to call its May 21 hearing. It started as Cosmology: The Search for Intelligent Life, possibly in expectation of a dire outcome in Tuesday’s primaries. But by Wednesday, the title — if not the ambition — was enlarged to Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Universe.  

Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas welcomed a group of high schoolers, saying the hearing was to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s scientists. (Just perhaps not the vast majority of climate scientists, about whom Smith is unenthusiastic.)  

Wyden Channels 'Portlandia' at Senate Finance | Madisonville

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So when Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, holds a hearing about the depleted Highway Trust Fund — the biggest single source of funding for the nation’s roads — you expect him to find language to do justice to the cause.  

“My bottom line is that you can’t have a big-league quality of life with little-league infrastructure,” Wyden said to open the hearing Tuesday.  

Too Much Regulation? There Oughta be a Law | Madisonville

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Two Minnesotans were enough to account for a third of the congressional participation, and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen hijacked a good chunk of time to promote the state’s medical device industry, described by some as “Minnesota’s medical alley.” That’s a fine echo of Silicon Valley if you can block out the image of used syringes littering a poorly lit street.  

Red Tape is something all political denominations can agree on.  The pejorative Red Tape is one cue about how to think about it.  Better Analysis is just as uncontroversial, as long as everybody overlooks the reality that Better Analysis is the kind that supports the already established view of one side or another. This being Congress, of course, the road to reduced Red Tape is paved by ... new Red Tape. Mandated by new laws. And executed by a new office of federal employees tasked with regulating the regulators, or at least keeping an eye on them. If you can fight fire with fire, the theory seems to be, you can fight regulation with regulation.  

Wyden Calls His Own Tune in Senate Finance | Madisonville

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There’s no particular logic to where he chooses to do it. But once the listener gets in the spirit of it, it’s easy to forget the subject: In Tuesday’s case, it was the misery inflicted on Americans by tax preparers who are incompetent or crooked.  

“most of those paid tax return preparers don’t have to meet ANY standards, ANY standards for competence,” Wyden says. Except that the normal typeface doesn’t do justice to the difference between monotone Wyden and stressed Wyden.