- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Alas, a new Gallup poll reveals that 86 percent of Americans disapprove of the U.S. Congress, tying a 41-year record for such negative sentiments. The survey was conducted after Rep. Paul Ryan took over as new House speaker, incidentally. A paltry 11 percent of the respondents actually approve of the lawmakers; that includes 8 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 11 percent of Democrats.

“Republicans’ more negative evaluation of Congress is a recent development. In the first poll Gallup conducted entirely after the GOP assumed control of the Senate earlier this year, Republicans (27 percent) were significantly more likely than Democrats (17 percent) and independents (18 percent) to approve of Congress, consistent with the historical pattern,” reports Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones.

Republicans got cranky in spring and summer when legislative goals got murky.

“Those views got worse through the summer and early fall,” Mr. Jones says, adding, “to put Republicans’ unhappiness with Congress in perspective, their 8 percent approval rating of the GOP-led Congress is essentially the same as the 9 percent approval rating they gave the Democratic-led Congress at the time of the 2010 midterm elections.”


Maybe they should have a red carpet walk. The number of high-profile attorneys, politicians, judges, policy advisers and scholars arriving for The Federalist Society’s 2015 National Lawyers Convention in the nation’s capital Thursday is, well, bodacious. The three-day gathering will center on the role of Congress, for better or worse.

The 100 speakers include Govs. Sam Brownback, Scott Walker, Nathan Deal and Pete Ricketts — along with Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, Mike Lee and Tom Cotton, and former U.S. Ambassador C. Boyden Gray. Feisty big thinker George Will serves as moderator of weighty discussion. Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers will parse out the topic of the left versus free speech, among other things. C-SPAN coverage begins shortly after noon.

And what does such an esteemed group dine upon? The menu for the grand opening dinner, staged at a historic hotel:

The introductory canapes include smoked salmon loin with purple potato and fennel salad and spicy beef empanada with avocado creme. Then it’s on to celery root and apple bisque with chive pesto, followed by butternut squash dumplings, plus braised kale and lemongrass cream. There’s an entree of braised bone-in short rib chop with whipped parsnips and charred green bean salad with bourbon carrots.

Oh, and dessert for the lawyers? That would be “The Washingtonian” — apple spiced cake filled with apple compote and lime ginger mousse plus a ginger snap cookie, garnished with dulce de leche whipped cream.


Fans of Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters — who offers headline-based levity during the prime-time “O’Reilly Factor” — will soon get a whole flood of Mr. Watters. Beginning Saturday at 10 p.m. EST, the network will air “Watters World,” a series of one-hour specials focused on the biggest comedy of them all, the 2016 presidential election.

The premiere episode is based around the fourth GOP debate, which aired Tuesday on the Fox Business Network and drew 13.5 million viewers and launched at least 6 million tweets. The monthly specials will run all the way up to Election Day.

Mr. Watters’ segments have proven extremely popular with viewers, says Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming for Fox News. “It’s only natural we’d want to expand on that this election cycle.”


“Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel”

— Called a “robot submarine” by some observers, the project is under development at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. A 132-foot prototype is almost finished in an Oregon shipyard, with a sea trial early next year.

“The vessel is being compared to naval destroyers, which are currently tasked with trailing — and are outfitted to eliminate — submarines. The drone boat costs as little as $15,000 a day to operate, versus the destroyer’s $700,000 per-day price tag,” says Brian Wang, the founder of NextBigFuture.com, a very snappy science blog.


Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher — aka “Joe the Plumber” — became an instant symbol of grass-roots America after he confronted candidate Barack Obama during a campaign stop in the 2008 presidential election. The Ohio stalwart sought answers about the fate of small business, the moment was caught on video, and the rest is history.

Bob — or Jane — the Welder may be waiting in the wings. Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio stepped forward at the Republican debate to point out that what the nation really needs is more welders and less philosophers. It was a moment of note.

“The audience chuckled, but the point I made is serious. We need a president who understands the new economy of the 21st Century, and we need a higher education system that will help fuel it. If we elect Hillary Clinton next fall, we’re not going to get either,” Mr. Rubio says in a follow-up voter outreach, detailing his concern that millions of jobs go unfilled because worker skills are lacking.

“Lots of them are in fields like welding — which don’t require a college degree, but do offer good salaries and require some training. We need to stop stigmatizing vocational training and education, and we need to break up an overpriced, outdated higher education system and introduce market forces to make it easier for hard-working Americans to get the skills they need,” Mr. Rubio advises.


73 percent of Americans say technology is creating a “lazy society” and is too distracting.

71 percent say technology has also improved the overall quality of their life.

69 percent say it corrupts interpersonal communications.

68 percent say technology encourages people to be more creative.

62 percent say it is updated too frequently.

59 percent say technology hurts literacy.

51 percent say it enhances their social life.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,220 U.S. adults conducted June 17-22 and released Monday.

Hoots, hollers, complaints to jharper@washingtontimes.com

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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