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April 22, 2008

Plain Brown Rapper: Congressman John Yarmuth, the man and his words

Words are important, damn important. The Apostle John put it this way in the very first verse of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1.So, The Rapper was not upset in 2006 when Anne Northup rightly requested copies of John Yarmuth’s columns that graced LEO for so many years. In 2008, though, Anne — who’s fast becoming a perennial candidate with back-to-back losses — won’t have to worry about such things. Now (if she beats Chris Thieneman in the primary) she can attack John’s voting record. Now John’s words REALLY matter.President Theodore Roosevelt, in a 1910 speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, opined “(i)t is not the critic who counts ... The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood ... (H)is place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory (n)or defeat.”So, John Yarmuth, welcome to the mother of all arenas — the floor of the United States House of Representatives — turf rented if not owned by special interests, entrenched lobbyists in place to influence votes and swell the campaign war chests of their toadies. Welcome to the floor, where reputations are trashed for sport, where career-killing landmines lurk and where an honest politician is one who stays bought.Here, WORDS really matter. While today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s bird cage liner, remarks in the Congressional Record are enshrined forever.But, before looking at some of his words, let’s take a look at the man who spoke them.John’s official bio states:“Passionate about honest and open government as well as issues involving working families and students, Congressman John Yarmuth sought and received appointments to the Committee on Education and Labor (Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness and Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities) as well as the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Information, Policy Census and National Archives).”He’s also an “At Large Whip” for the majority party, meaning John cracks the whip and makes sure his fellow and sister Dems show up to vote — and vote the party line.Secondly, it should be noted that John was named “2007 Legislator of the Year” by the Kentucky Reading Association and “Outstanding New Member of Congress” by the Committee for Education Funding, America’s largest non-partisan education association.Finally, like JFK, John donates his net salary to charity — in Yarmuth’s case, to more than three-dozen Louisville organizations and worthwhile endeavors.That’s class, just like John.  He puts his money where his bleeding heart mouth is.In addition to campaign finance reform/revolution, let me focus on three burning issues that keep me awake at night: the war, a living wage and tax reform.As far as the failed war goes, Congressman Yarmuth observed: “Tragically, for the (4,000-plus) American soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq, there will never be a ‘Plan B’.”With respect to a living wage for all, John said: “Mr. Speaker, Teddy Roosevelt first suggested that all hard-working Americans should earn what he called ‘a living wage.’ Today, a century later, millions of Americans have been denied the promise of his great vision ...”And taxes? Congressman Yarmuth on the House floor said: “I rise today in support of the Taxpayer Protection Act. Our tax system is tailor-made for the accountants and those who can afford to hire them. For those who must tread the tax season alone, a dearth of regulation opens these citizens up to Internet scams and identity theft.”Words matter.To find out how John speaks to issues important to you, pull up yarmuth.house.gov. There you’ll find no spin, only the actual words.But anyway, I’m Carl Brown, Louisville’s Plain Brown Rapper, and my own damn opinion is that Louisville has done itself proud. John Yarmuth is in the House. If you don’t like it, sue me. Just re-elect a good man, my friend, John Yarmuth. Contact the writer at plainbrownrapper2001@yahoo.com