AP NEWS

D.C. Buzz: Hayes duel with DeVos ... pass the popcorn

April 13, 2019

WASHINGTON - The honeymoon, if ever there was one, is over for Rep. Jahana Hayes. No more pinching herself, “can’t believe I’m here,” Connecticut neighbors and well-wishers crowding her office in celebration.

As a member of the House Education & Labor Committee, Hayes on Wednesday had her first chance to question the Trump administration’s notoriously slippery Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The former history teacher at Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School brought her best disciplinary tone to bear on the evasive DeVos, taking aim at President Donald Trump’s oft-stated endorsement of arming teachers as the answer to mass shootings at schools.

(And it will be remembered that after the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre famously proposed arming teachers and volunteers as the ultimate solution. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he declared.)

DeVos danced around whether she has the authority to block federal funds to help train and arm teachers. And she also said she had never taken a position for or against such funding.

But Hayes wasn’t letting it go at that.

Citing an internal memo that appeared to give DeVos discretion on funding, Hayes thundered: “Your silence is a decision!”

DeVos deflected but Hayes was there for the rebound.

“You have the authority to say that we cannot use funds to arm teachers,” she said. “Make a decision on this! You have the authority to do this. Will you prohibit teacher federal funding to arm teachers, yes or no, madam secretary?”

After DeVos insisted that Congress has the authority, Hayes held the memo aloft and said: “You have the authority, if you so choose. Read the memo!”

Wow! Glad I never was a student in her class who showed up without a homework assignment to turn in.

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Rep. Jim Himes wasn’t close to being born yet when The Twilight Zone aired one of its spookiest episodes of all, “To Serve Man,” in 1962.

OK, stay with me here, I’ll circle back to Himes . . .promise!

“To Serve Man” is the title of a book in an indecipherable language that a spaceship of benevolent aliens, the Kanamit, bring to Earth. They offer humanity a path out of early-’60s misery and apprehension.

Suddenly, the Cold War ends, the threat of nuclear war evaporates, deserts are abloom with crops, energy becomes cheap and abundant. A team of code-breakers at the UN, Michael and Patty, figures out the title of the book, “To Serve Man.”

But as the world heads toward unheard-of Nirvana, Michael forgets about translating while Patty keeps at it. (Spoiler alert . . . stop reading if you want to see this on YouTube, or one of the classic-TV channels.)

Eventually, the Kanamit offer to take waves of humans in spaceships to visit their planet. Michael is walking up the steps for one such trip when Patty breaks through the crowd, only to be stopped by a Kanamit guard.

“Don’t get on that ship!” Patty cries out. “The rest of the book ‘To Serve Man,” it’s... it’s a cookbook!” So somehow, Himes, age 52, had this on his mind when he tweeted a still from the Twilight Zone episode showing the original book cover in Kanamit script and “To Serve Man” handwritten on a piece of paper. Himes’ Twitter caption? “The Trump-McConnell healthcare plan.”