Government too hungry to shut down; reflections on Fox in Hillsboro


By Gary Abernathy - Contributing columnist



The so-called “government shutdown” ended Monday afternoon after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recognized that the Democrats were paying the price, and would later pay it again at the ballot box.

I call it a “so-called” shutdown because the government never really shut down by any true definition. Some paychecks would have been delayed, a few national parks might have temporarily closed, but if it was possible to shut down the government by failing to pass a budget or a continuing resolution, a lot of people would have urged members of Congress to do it a long time ago.

Truth is, the federal government has a life of its own. It has grown over the years to become a behemoth, an insatiable perpetual motion machine. I’ve said before that “lawmakers” take that description too literally, and they believe their job is to pass new laws. Congressional scorecards kept by the media often rate Congress poorly based on how few new laws are passed in any given year.

It could be argued that the best grade any Congress could receive would be an A-plus for passing the fewest new laws or regulations. With tens of thousands of laws on the books, the most necessary ones for society to function were passed ages ago, and we could go a decade without passing another new one and be no worse off.

More practically, a limit on law-passing might actually make sense. Changing times and circumstances do create the need for at least updating laws or regulations. On average, according to various sources I found, Congress passes about 700 new laws and regulations every two years. A rule stating that Congress could pass no more than five new laws each session might work, forcing Congress and the president to decide what’s really important.

But when it comes to the federal government, no one, Republican or Democrat, will allow the beast to go unfed for too long. The longest “government shutdown” in history was 21 days in 1995-96, and most Americans weren’t impacted in any way. Even federal workers eventually received any back pay they did not receive initially. Fears of a prolonged “government shutdown” are always unfounded. The machine will be fed.

This time around, the Democrats were in an unsustainable position. Refusing to vote for a continuing resolution to fund the government for the sake of forcing a deal for illegal immigrants was a losing proposition. Chuck Schumer was smart enough to recognize it, even as he tried to lay blame at the feet of President Trump.

‘Fox & Friends’ in Hillsboro

On another subject, the “Fox & Friends” visit to Momma’s West Main Café in Hillsboro last Wednesday was a lot of fun. Onsite Fox host Pete Hegseth was approachable and amiable between on-air segments, chatting with the patrons and posing for countless pictures. He was a class act.

Some folks who showed up did so rather sheepishly because they were not necessarily regular customers at Momma’s. I don’t think that bothered anyone, least of all Momma’s co-owners Bobbie Barr and her daughter, Jeretta. Getting some new (and likely returning) customers into the restaurant is not exactly bad for business, and in fact it’s part of the benefit in hosting such a high-profile, nationally-televised event.

Yes, it was a pro-Republican, pro-Trump crowd, and that was reflected in the comments during the show. Welcome to Highland County.

There’s nothing wrong with the rest of the nation hearing from Trump Country once in a while, with people providing a point of view not well represented in most of the mainstream media on a regular basis. I’m a believer that news consumers should vary their viewing and reading habits enough to hear different viewpoints, but if there’s one conservative cable news outlet – Fox – is that so bad in a world dominated by the other side, be it cable or over-the-air broadcast? No, it’s not.

I share Bobbie and Jaretta’s opinion that everyone who showed up Wednesday and those who were interviewed left a great impression about Hillsboro. I know that was true as far as the Fox crew was concerned, and I will be very surprised if there’s not a follow-up visit down the road.

Thanks also to all the patrons at Momma’s who were very kind and welcoming to the news crew from TV Tokyo, allowing the Japanese journalists to interview them Wednesday after the Fox folks packed up. I received an email later from their producer, May Moqiu Ma, telling me how gracious everyone had been. Hillsboro, building international relations. Gotta love it.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @AbernathyGary.

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By Gary Abernathy

Contributing columnist

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