In the House, a Bill to end the National Security Agency's collection and storage of bulk data from Americans' phones was passed by a vote of 338-88 (See HR 2048). I think this is a positive step considering one of the Federal Appellate Courts ruled the collection "Unconstitutional" late the prior week. The House also passed a Bill to curtail late term abortions by a vote of 242-184. Unfortunately, Roe v. Wade set up the Trimester System for abortions, so the need to engage in this legislation is solely to pander to certain constituencies of the members of Congress. I doubt the measure will get through the Senate (See HR 36). The House then voted 261-155 to kill a proposed EPA rule designed to protect headwaters, wetlands and other navigable waters under the Clean Water Act. Who would support and lobby such a measure? Go figure! The House then voted 400 - 25 on HR 1191 to give Congress the power to review a possible nuclear deal with Iran (I'm all for this). The House also voted on a military budget bill appropriating over $611.9 Billion for Fiscal year 2016 (HR 1735). The Bill also prohibits the closing of Guantanamo Bay and another round of base closings (can you say "bringing home the bacon?). The Senate was relatively quiet this past week, voting only on taking up Obama's secretive trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (HR 1314). I'd like to tell you more about this deal, but apparently, those involved seem to think the American public doesn't need to know what it involves. That alone is enough for me to oppose it. We'll have to wait and see if the deal is approved.
Now that the field of announced Republican candidates for president is expanding, some in the GOP are finally realizing that having too many candidates for president might actually be a problem. Go figure! I like to call the log jammed roster of candidates the result of Hyper-Pluralistic Candidacies (where too many candidates clog the process and cause much more harm than good). And the Democrats? They simply have to minimize the concerted efforts to paint Clinton as a money hungry sell-out. Although this strategy may work, it also is a bit hypocritical right? I mean, Jeb Bush has set a goal of raising $100 Million to start his campaign and others are trying to do the same. Does anyone really think raising campaign cash is not selling out?
And on a lighter note, I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to Coach Craig Faulkner and his incredible team of over achievers for winning (another) Florida 6A Baseball State Championship last night. It's a great story and I will keep it short. You see, Venice High school baseball has ascended to the height of all heights over the past several years. Prior to 2007, the program got to the State Championships on a few occasions, but could not get the job done - until 2007. By that year, the Venice coaches had finally honed a system of teaching a proven system of baseball plus instilling an attitude of doing good works (reading to elementary school children, working with the Challenger Baseball program for kids with special needs and working with local senior citizens). And in 2007, it all came together for their first State Championship. Like any other program, new student-athletes come and go and typically so does the ability to win championships - except at Venice. In 2012, the team went back to the State Championships and won it all - only to return in 2013 and do it again! In 2014, the team returned to the Final Four, only to lose a close game in the Semi-Finals. But this 2015 team? Missing 5 starters from the previous squad, including pitchers, few expected them to win anything. So low were expectations, the team began calling themselves "Whoville" with Whoville signs posted on our facilities. No one expected them to accomplish anything. They are young and inexperienced - except they just won their last game of the season finishing with a 29-3 record and a State Championship crown with their names etched in it forever. Better yet, they have the tools to return next year too! So hats off to the Venice Indian Baseball Team, parents, fans and coaches. Three State titles in four years - four State titles in eight years! Having solid students athletes on and off the field pays off here in Venice. So to all the haters, give it up. Do it right and you always will be a winner! (*full disclosure - I teach at VHS and several players have come through my door, including my son Nathan, State Champ in 2007).
As President John F. Kennedy once wrote; "Things do not happen. Things are made to happen." Now if we could get our politicians to be as focussed as our high school baseball team, we could all share in victory for America. Have a great week!