I think it is paramount that we as a nation should have an unwavering quest to fix all that is wrong with our country and that our elected representatives should be the best stewards of the public they can be. Part of that responsibility should be to conduct one’s self on the highest level, with dignity and decorum. But Friday we missed the mark; I was appalled when I caught a TV snippet of Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, as he grilled IRS Commissioner John Koskinen during testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Understand me -- Koskinen should definitely have to testify for any and all mistakes made by the IRS, but for a Congressman like Ryan to use his chair as a bully pulpit and degrade anyone in a search for the truth is not what I had hoped our Congress would ever be. The IRS is claiming that sensitive emails have been lost forever because a very important hard drive was destroyed, which is downright scary, but Ryan was either playing to the TV cameras or hepped up when he attacked Koskinen yesterday.
“This is unbelievable!” Ryan raged. “That’s your problem! Nobody believes you!”
Koskinen stood his ground, responding, “I have had a long career. That’s the first time anyone’s said I don’t believe you.”
Ryan glared back, spitting out his anger once more, “I don’t believe you!”
Admittedly the commissioner and his agency are a mess. David Camp (R-Mich) outlined the dilemma in a steady voice. “The IRS is in charge of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ information. And you are now saying the technology system was so poor that years’ worth of emails are forever unrecoverable? How does that put anybody at ease?
Then Camp bore down even harder. “How far would the excuse ‘I lost it’ get with the IRS for an average American trying to file their yearly taxes who may have lost a few receipts?” (That’s a great question asked in the proper way.)
Obviously lost emails and other blatant mistakes by the IRS seriously threaten the agency but to scream and rant and all but fist-fight only makes the truth harder to find. Paul Ryan should be ashamed of himself for such behavior. The sad thing is that he knows better.
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A recent study by the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University revealed that corruption on the state level costs each taxpaying American an average of $1,308 every year. Researchers studied 25,000 convictions of public officials between 1976 and 2008 and – voila! – they came up with the Top Ten ‘Most Corrupt’ States.
According to the study, Mississippi is the worst in the United States, followed, in order, by Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Who would have ever believed Tennessee was worse than Illinois! The next five are Alabama, Alaska, South Dakota, Kentucky and Florida.
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You have to laugh at the obvious challenge facing the LSU football team this summer. Like all college teams, the Tigers bring in their upcoming freshmen for the second session of summer school before fall practice begins in August and they have a new defensive tackle from San Antonio whose name just happens to be Trey Lealaimatafao. That’s the longest last name for a Tiger since 1939 when W.H. Froechtenicht played for the Bayou Bengals. The way you pronounce it is “Lay-Ah-Lah-EE-mata-fow” but at LSU it is agreed they’ll just call him Trey.
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Speaking of football, those so eager for the season to start are studying the 2014 schedules and somebody noticed that powerful Alabama will play only five teams that had winning records last year – and each is a member of the SEC West. The Crimson will face Ole Miss (8-5), Texas A&M (9-4), LSU (10-3), Mississippi State (7-6) and Auburn (12-2). The other seven opponents are FCS Western Carolina (2-10) and six teams that had combined won-lost records of 23-49 (32 percent) in 2013.