- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2018

Capitol Hill culture changes, and quietly. House lawmakers can now use taxpayer funds to buy bulletproof vests or reinforce their own personal security under a resolution approved this week by the House Administration Committee. It’s all spelled out under “office expenses” in the “Members’ Congressional Handbook,” one of nine official publications on Capitol Hill that specify what’s what in that rarefied workplace.

The particulars are listed right there among guidelines for appliances, furniture, flags, parking and stationary. Lawmakers only need to consult the “security” section.

“Payment for security personnel is an ordinary and necessary reimbursable expense when such personnel is hired to provide security at official, Member-hosted district events (e.g., town halls); To accompany Members during the performance of their official duties; or to be stationed inside or outside the district office during business hours,” say the guidelines.

Modifying an office with such security enhancements as bulletproof glass is considered a “capital improvement” and not reimbursable, however. Bulletproof vests are a go, as is practical safety training.

“If an item exceeds $500, it must be added to the office inventory. The purchase of a bulletproof vest for the Member is a reimbursable expense. Security training for members and staff is a reimbursable expense,” the handbook advises.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DENNIS

“Power to We the People” is the motto of Dennis Kucinich, now running against four other Democrats and two Republicans for governor of Ohio. The primary is May 8.

Mr. Kucinich is a spirited, uber-progressive hybrid and former eight-term congressman who announced his candidacy on Fox News. He once called for then-President Barack Obama to be impeached, and has affirmed his belief there is a “deep state” seeking to undermine President Trump. He also calls for a ban on assault weapons, public funding for abortion and full legalization of marijuana — and has won the endorsement of Our Revolution, a nonprofit that grew out of Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ campaign for president.

“You have to be ready to march into hell for a heavenly cause,” Mr. Kucinich advised his rivals during a candidate in Toledo this week.

A SINGLE HEADLINE SAYS ALL

“Hollywood’s Oscars night tanks and NRA membership skyrockets,” writes D.C. McAllister, a columnist for PJ Media who points out that TV ratings at the recent Tinseltown fete fell by 20 percent this time around, its fourth year of audience decline.

Citing Time magazine and other sources, Ms. McAllister also notes that membership at the National Rifle Association, Georgia Gun Owners and National Association for Gun Rights all report marked spikes in membership applications.

“We have people flocking to gun rights organizations and running from Hollywood. Why do you think that is? Hollywood doesn’t want to face the reality that it’s because people are fed up with condescension from celebrities who don’t value Americans’ civil rights,” notes Ms. McAllister, who adds that ratings for the Grammy Awards and the Super Bowl also are dropping.

“What do all of these events have in common? They’ve turned political. Sports and entertainment are a value to the civil society because, unlike anything else in our culture, they bring people together — or they’re supposed to, ” she says. “But thanks to egocentric celebrities who prefer to be social justice warriors attacking their own country and fellow citizens rather than providing what America really needs — their talent and not their politics — they have lost viewers and fans. Not only have they betrayed the American people with their progressive, socialistic politics, they’ve betrayed their craft and the unifying power that comes with it.”

PERSISTENT SUCCESS

President Trump’s tax reform continues to shore up the economy. Much of this goes unreported in the press, but no matter. Here is the latest evidence of success, according to a White House tally:

Unemployment is at the lowest rate in 17 years, and jobless claims recently reached a 48-year low. Hispanic and African-American unemployment rates are at the lowest levels in history. The number of minority-owned businesses is growing faster than non-minority owned businesses — and they now generate more than $1 trillion in annual economic output and employ 8 million Americans.

Homebuilder confidence is higher than at any point since the 2008 recession, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers reports that manufacturer optimism was at the highest level in 20 years. In addition, 90 percent of Americans are seeing more money in their paychecks while 4 million Americans are receiving extra bonuses, wage increases and other benefits.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For Sale: The Red Skelton Ranch, built in 1991 on 600 acres near Anza, California. Eight bedrooms, eight baths, great room, formal living and dining rooms, art studio; 9,800 square feet. Property includes main house with beamed ceilings and multiple fireplaces, two guest houses, bunk house, warehouse, indoor arena, 12-car garage, multiple pastures and paddocks, windmills, hay barn, ponds, mountain views, extensive fencing. Priced at $5.9 million through Coldwellbanker.com; find the home here.

POLL DU JOUR

• 33 percent of American adults say they would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who received support from the NRA; 8 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of independents and 61 percent of Democrats agree

 30 percent say an NRA donation would not affect their voting decision; 45 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 16 percent of Democrats agree.

 18 percent say they would be more likely to vote for that candidate; 36 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree.

 18 percent are not sure how an NRA donation would affect their vote; 11 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted March 4-6.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.


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