Tim Huelskamp's town hall truthiness
Lester (we'll call him) says, "Saw ya at Huelskamp's town hall."
"Boy," he goes, "Tim's lookin' out for us. Holdin' them far-left liberal atheists accountable. Can you believe them bureaucrats outlawing our congressman from telling us 'Merry Christmas.' Tells you something about the black guy in the White House." Gotcha grin.
"Actually," I say, "Huelskamp can mail out what he wants -- if he pays for the stamps and the printing. To qualify for 'franking' (mailings where taxpayers pick up the tab), he has to stick to business. Tim wants to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Yippee Yoga -- great. He just pays with his own money, or his $1.42 million office allowance."
Huelskamp can also use email and his website.
There he wrote: "Dear Friend, On behalf of my family and our staff, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. This time of year is so special in that it reminds us of the reason we are here and how we are called to serve one another in His name ... (signed) Tim Huelskamp." (Dec. 23, 2012)
Lester rolls his eyes. "Whatever. How about the EPA sayin' if your wife drives to town on the country road and kicks up dust, she pays a fine? What about the EPA, Ever-Pathetic-Asses, clamping down at harvest. Dust-traps on combines and tractors. EPA drones spyin' on farmers."
"Yeah, I think that was on Fox. Maybe Patriot Radio," Lester says.
"Lester, that's nuts. The EPA does have standards for airborne 'particulate matter' that can clog air passages in lungs, but it's based on size of particles, not source. Mostly that's from 'coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, oil refineries, mines, manufacturing plants.' There's been no effort, nor is one planned, to broadly regulate farm dust."
"OK, why would Tim say that then? Sayin' he's a liar?"
"Well, Les, maybe Huelskamp's real motive is promoting EPA paranoia. Like in protecting fossil fuel industry profits."
Lester guffaws. "You climate-change chimpanzee. That's Al Gore hooey and everybody knows it. No global warming since 1998. I got an email proving that, I think from Americans for Prosperity. But maybe NewsMax. Maybe WorldNetDaily. Who cares where, anyway?"
"Actually, 2010 was warmer globally than 1998."
"Bull," Lester goes.
"And of the 10 warmest years on record, eight have been in the last decade," I tell him. "You do know Huelskamp got big campaign money from the oil and gas industry, including the Koch brothers?"
"That means squat," Lester goes. "Campaign contributions don't buy politicians. A Fort Hays professor proved it."
"Whatever. But in Tim's first term he did co-sponsor HR 97 -- the Free Industry Act. It would have changed the Clean Air Act to exclude from the term 'air pollutant' carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. It also read 'nothing in the Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming.' "
"HR 97 didn't say nothin' about farm dust?" Les asks.
"Well, I don't care. Huelskamp's a conservative Christian. Him wanting taxpayers to foot the bill for sending Christmas greetings is all the proof we need. And if that isn't, he wants to cut food stamps."
"There's more to that story, too," I start to say.
But Lester jumps in. "And that rude woman asked if he thought NASA and NOAA and all those climate scientists were all wet."
I respond: "A brand new poll found 83 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans, and 77 percent of independents say the world is getting warmer. And 97 percent of climate scientists researching the issue and writing for peer review say it's a no-brainer. Maybe that's why Tim beat around the bush. Knows he's losing on that one."
"Well," he grumbles, "you can blame those liberal money-sucking scientists for the hoax." He brightens. "What about the trillions in debt Obama gave us? You see that chart? China owns so much of our debt they'll be running this county pretty soon."
"Huelskamp's chart was misleading," I say. "The one I saw had almost 70 percent of our debt owned by the U.S., Japan about 7 percent, U.K. close to 3 percent, OPEC 1.5 percent, China 7.5 percent. All other countries, 12.7 percent."
"Chris Matthews?" he snorted.
"Nope. American Enterprise Institute -- conservative as it gets. Oh, and two unfunded wars. Bush tax-cuts for the wealthy. Medicare Part D. Sky-rocketing medical costs. That's the lion's share of the deficit. The CBO says, as a share of economic output, the deficit has fallen in recent years -- from 10.1 percent of GDP in 2009 to 9 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011 -- and 7 percent in 2012."
"Well, your snotty abortion question took the cake," Lester says, index finger aimed and loaded.
"You mean when I asked him, 'Does voluntary abortion at any stage -- from conception to delivery -- for any reason, including rape, physical malformation of a fetus, age or health of the female equate to pre-meditated murder? If so, do you advocate prosecuting the female and/or the abortion provider for first-degree homicide. If not, why not?' "
"Totally, totally out-of-line."
"Well, Huelskamp didn't really answer," I say, "just stammered and stuttered and looked eager to leave the room."
"I sure see why," Lester says.
And I say, "Well, on that we agree."
Bob Hooper is a fourth-generation western Kansan who writes from his home in Bogue.