With Halloween coming up on Thursday, it reminds me of a story about some creative high school students. Some years ago, my wife was a teacher at a small-town high school with a lot of rural students. Halloween was on Friday night and the boys in her class teased her about whether her yard might get toilet papered for the holiday.
My wife teased them back by saying she would hope her students were more creative than that.
Sure enough, I got up Saturday morning to discover our front yard had been decorated. With a layer of corn cobs. The boys came over that afternoon, looking sheepish until I told them we got the joke, thought it was funny and no one was mad.
They picked up the cobs. They had to get them back into one of the boy’s grandfather’s barn. The days of outdoor toilets and corn cob accessories were long gone, replaced by the Sears catalog and then indoor toilets. But cobs were still useful to start fires in wood-burning stoves.
That was a creative group of boys. When someone shot off an M-80 in a locker my wife explained the stupidity of such an action and suggested pranks should not be dangerous and should be more creative because any idiot could shoot off fire crackers.
So, the next morning she found a possum in her classroom.
It was a simpler time. When called on to do a “demonstration” speech a kid could still field strip a rifle and explain all the parts. And during dove-hunting season many of the cars and pickups in the school parking lot contained a shotgun for after-school recreation.
Deep State to deep states: President Trump ran for office vowing to dismantle the “Deep State” in Washington, but he is finding out that the nation’s capital is inside a bubble and oblivious to the real world. If you doubt it, watch cable news for 24 hours and see if you can discover anything that you or anyone on your street cares about.
Trump doesn’t understand that the answer to making government more responsive to citizens lies in geography. Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn has a bill to move federal agencies out of Washington to locations in the states.
Why not have the Department of Agriculture located where the farms are? Put the Bureau of Land Management in the midst of the vast tracts of federal land in the west.
Yes, you keep the Department of Defense and the State Department in Washington, along with intelligence agencies. But elements of the Housing and Urban Development need to be located in major cities with public housing around the country.
But if you spread these offices out around the country how can Congress hold hearings or investigate things? Well, you keep the secretaries and senior staff in Washington in small offices to testify. If they need one of their people out in the hinterlands to testify, fly them in or put them on Skype. The cost savings for rental of space around the country versus Washington will buy a lot of plane tickets.
On one point I strongly disagree with Blackburn. Don’t move the Department of Education to Tennessee, abolish it. Abolish the Department of Energy and put some of its functions in the Department of Commerce, where it used to be. Have a director for all the national labs, based in Oak Ridge.
Make Washington, D.C., about a third the size it is now. Instruct all cabinet secretaries to reduce the number of employees in their agency by 10 percent a year for the next five years. Freeze federal salaries at present levels until the wages in the private sector catch up.
Break the permanent ruling bureaucracy into parts, shrink the size and freeze all the budgets.
Pass a law that no member of Congress or congressional staffer can become a lobbyist when they leave office.
That is, if you want to break up the Deep State.
Bible scholar? Delivering a eulogy for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went over the top again. She took a funeral oration and used it to take a cheap shot at Trump and his wife, Melania. She compared them to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel as corrupt and Cummings to the prophet Elijah. The crowd left no doubt they knew who she was talking about as they burst into prolonged applause.
This comes after she called third party candidate Jill Stein and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard “Russian assets.”
Frank Cagle is a retired newspaperman and the former managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel.