It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
The most important story that you probably missed is that Nerf is selling a toy mortar. Your friend and humble narrator speaks for all guys when he says: Where was this when I was a kid?
Not to brag, but this reporter had an idea for this exact toy years ago. It was during 7th grade math class – when adolescent Schogol would think about anything other than linear functions – that your friend daydreamed about a mortar that could lob a sand bag from his yard to his neighbor's tree house.
The idea was the sandbag would burst on impact, creating the appearance of a smoke cloud. In retrospect, the projectile would probably have had enough mass to kill anyone on the receiving end, so it's probably for the best that this idea was abandoned.
Real mortar men will probably debate whether the Nerf toy accurately replicates the experience of walking it in, as mortars are indirect fire weapons and the toy is clearly made for direct fire. (This would be a good subject for an analysis piece on War on the Rocks.)
Another piece of news you might have missed is that U.S. Special Operations Command is working on a mechanical third arm that “combines a lightweight modular gyro-stabilization device to enable the operator to engage targets with more accuracy,” SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins.
When this story posted, your friend and humble narrator suggested calling the Robo Arm “The Stranger,” but the idea went the way of the mortar that fires sand bags. (In all fairness, what do you think special operators are doing to do with a third arm? I'm looking at you, Navy SEALs.)
Here's one last bit of important non-impeachment information: the U.S. military continues to operate without a budget. Since the start of the fiscal year, the Defense Department has been funded by a temporary spending measure known as a continuing resolution – the dreaded “CR.”
You may be wondering why haven't been seeing many stories about this, and that is because the Pentagon is not saying much beyond: CR bad; budget good. Defense officials have made no effort to explain why Americans should care that Congress cannot do its job and pass the National Defense Authorization Act..
Thankfully, this reporter's esteemed colleague Haley Britzky recently went beyond the Pentagon's empty talking point to show that if Congress fails to pass a defense spending bill this fiscal year, it could mean the Army would lose $597 million for soldiers' salaries, housing allowances, bonuses, and other pays and benefits.
The Pentagon needs to stop complaining that the lack of a yearlong spending measure is limiting how many toys it can buy and start stressing that lawmakers are hurting real people. It's also time for Congress to take a break from the impeachment reality show and fund the military.
Not everything is about Trump.
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Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 14 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Comments or thoughts to share? Send them to Jeff Schogol via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.