SCOTT DREYER: Coming To Your Phone…Congressional Stupidity Alerts?

Most of us by now are aware of alerts that come to our phones to make us aware of emergencies. The AMBER alert system began in 1996 to notify people when a child is missing or has been abducted. Weather alerts inform us of possible severe storms or tornadoes. As reported by CNN, by November 2020 fifteen states including Virginia were participating in a notification program where phone-owners, with help from technology from Apple or Google, could get an alert if they had been close to a person who later tested positive for Covid.

Detractors viewed those Covid alerts as “George Orwell’s 1984 come to life” while supporters saw them as a huge help for public health.

Historically, and in keeping with the principle of federalism as enshrined in the Constitution, these alert systems have been managed by local or state governments or law enforcement.

Recently, however, the US House of Representatives has been debating federal involvement in these phone-based alert systems.

That notion inspired one Congressman, Republican Chip Roy of Texas, to suggest a new government program: “A Congressional Stupidity Alert System,” which he suggested could also be named “The Congressional Harm Alert System.”

Speaking on the House chamber a few days ago, Rep. Roy lamented several examples he sees of “Congressional stupidity.” He said, “We do it every single day. Harming the American people. That’s what this body is engaged in on a regular basis, harming the American people, either through non-action, or action.”

Getting specific, Rep. Roy cited a number of policies coming from Washington that are hurting people. First, government overspending is fueling the high inflation that in turn causes so much suffering from high prices.  Second, the stream of illegal immigrants coming into Texas “right now” as well as the harmful drugs coming in undermine the rule of law and public health and safety. Three, mask and shutdown mandates closed schools and impaired student learning and triggered many mental health challenges. Four, wokeness and vaccine mandates in the military are weakening our preparedness and making it harder for the Pentagon to recruit and retain talent. Rep. Roy claims the Army cannot maintain 40% recruiting standards.

You can watch Rep. Roy’s three-minute statement here.

Responding to Rep. Roy on Twitter, one user wrote: “Great idea, but our phones would be going off all day/night long…”

On the topic of Congressional intelligence or the lack thereof, one story that takes the cake was a 2010 exchange in the House of Representatives between Democrat Congressman Hank Johnson from Georgia and a Navy admiral.

The hearing in the House Armed Services Committee was on the topic of the US possibly dispatching an additional 8,000 Marines and their families to the tiny, tropical island of Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific, to help bolster our military readiness in that crucial region. After haltingly explaining how small Guam is, Congressman Johnson told the admiral: “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly-populated that it will tip over [tilting his hands to the side for emphasis] and capsize.”

Showing remarkable restraint, the admiral calmly explained, “We don’t anticipate that.”

To be fair, after the exchange made national headlines, Rep. Johnson’s office released this clarification:

“I was using a metaphor to say that with the addition of 8,000 Marines and their dependents — an additional 80,000 people during peak construction to the port on the tiny island with a population of 180,000 — could be a tipping point which would adversely affect the island’s fragile ecosystem and overburden its already overstressed infrastructure.”

“Having traveled to Guam last year, I saw firsthand how this beautiful — but vulnerable island — is already overburdened, and I was simply voicing my concerns that the addition of that many people could tip the delicate balance and do harm to Guam.”

It should be noted, during his questioning in Congress, Rep. Johnson said “tip over” and not “tipping point,” and that he flipped his hands to the side as if demonstrating an actual flip. Others have claimed that Rep. Johnson was making a wisecrack about Guam’s small size. However, if he was joking, then he is blessed with a poker face and humorous deadpan delivery that would earn him more money in Hollywood than he makes in Congress.

You can watch the exchange here and decide for yourself if the Congressman from Georgia was serious, speaking in metaphor, or joking. Notably, this clip comes courtesy of Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN, not known as being a GOP-loving or Democrat-bashing source.

It is unlikely we will be getting “A Congressional Stupidity Alert System” on our phones anytime soon. However, our Founding Fathers almost 250 years ago in their wisdom created a similar but even better mechanism. It’s called recurring elections. This November, all 435 members of the US House of Representatives and one-third of our 100 senators will have to face the voters. (Since Virginia’s two senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, were re-elected in 2020 and 2018 respectively, they will not be on the ballot this year.)

If you are not pleased or impressed with our leaders in DC or their job performance, reflect on what that says about “We the People” who keep sending them there….

If you don’t like the policies coming out of Washington and how they are impacting you and your livelihood, do more than passively look at your phone.

Feel free to count this column as your “alert.”

Do your homework and this fall, vote!

Scott Dreyer at Bryce Canyon
Scott Dreyer M.A. of Roanoke has been a licensed teacher since 1987 and now leads a team of educators teaching English and ESL to a global audience. Photo at Utah’s iconic Bryce Canyon. Learn more at





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