The View is Not Worth It
The Cartoon of Kevin McCarthy
The clown-car that is the House GOP reached a decision early Saturday that Kevin McCarthy would be Speaker of the House, after over a dozen ballots that showcased McCarthy as the oleaginous and craven figure he is. A man of questionable popularity within his own party, McCarthy’s razor-thin margin in the House was always going to be difficult to manage, but his battle to win the Speaker’s gavel laid bare the difficulties he will face going forward.
The Wing-Nut Caucus of the GOP (no folks, they are not ALL wing-nuts) has no real agenda, short of wanting to get on TV, “owning the libs”, and issuing political and personal payback. They will not all of a sudden begin to act like responsible legislators now (not that you suspected they would), but they will wrap themselves in the mantle of responsibility as they grind the works to a halt. I’m no legislative genius, but it strikes me that the only way tough things are going to get done will be if enough Democrats sign on, as the Wing-Nuts will almost certainly overplay their hand, often. The very fact that legislation has some Democratic support will then become a rallying cry for the Wing-Nuts to take McCarthy down, as he will be seen as insufficiently devoted to their ass-hattery. Wash, rinse, repeat.
All Paul Ryan ever wanted was to be the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and if he had been able to stay there (rather than being convinced that when John Boehner quit, the prospect of a Kevin McCarthy speakership was anathema), I think the country would be in MUCH better shape than it is now. Not because of any particularly enlightened legislation that would have come of it (and there would have been), but because he would not be sitting on the political sidelines after having carried water for Trump and then having the rug pulled out from under him. Instead, the most cogent thinker on the practical applications of conservative policy is on the sidelines, and the idiots are running the asylum.
One final bit on what we witnessed. This was NOT what democracy looks like. A lot of Wing-Nuts and their enablers have been taking to their basement studios to tell us that what we saw last week was what the Framers intended, that it was just the rough and tumble of American politics and we shouldn’t be concerned. Poppycock. What we saw last week was another sign of the ruinous decline of the party system in general and the GOP in particular. Don’t get me wrong—the messiness itself was not a threat to the Republic. But its existence points to a greater cancer eating away at American political life, and that is the atomization of politics and the decay of parties as means to foster and create policy consensus. If what was happening last week was policy-based—if the debating and the speeches and the tussles were about trying to reach policy consensus—I would not even bat an eye. But it wasn’t. It was about a (fairly routine) intra-party personnel decision, and the great near-failure we witnessed augurs poorly for the future.
End of Solitude
By the time you read this, my women will have returned from their little sailing jaunt, and my winter solitude will end. It sort of ended on the 3rd when I traveled to California on business, but I returned home Friday and had two nights of just me and the animals.
So far, the plants haven’t died, nor have the cats/dogs, so in my estimation I have succeeded in all assigned duties. I put up a blind in the mancave, defrosted the freezer, did a lot of laundry, unclogged a drain, and maintained a high level of housekeeping. I’m a fan of order and neatness. Not a freak, but a fan. Outsiders like to think it comes from having been in the Navy, but the truth is that it developed as a reaction to the minor chaos that was a constant in my six-child family. My Dad (only child) gave up a long time ago on general neatness and order, but has always maintained standards where his own “stuff” was concerned.
I used my last night alone to conduct a little experiment. You see, my mostly-beloved-sometimes-hated UVA Basketball team had a game against Syracuse starting at 5PM. I decided a few days ago that I was not going to watch the game, both as a means to control my bad attitude and as a protest over their stinky play (don’t come at me with the “it’s hard to win on the road in the ACC” crap. Trust your eyes—this team has ISSUES). So from 5PM to 7PM I made dinner (two shake/bake pork chops, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon) and then did some reading (see below). I did not watch, nor did I “Twitter-cheat”; rather, I remained ignorant of any part of the game. A little after seven (thinking the game would have ended already), I turned on the TV coverage and saw that there was about a minute left and UVA was winning. But the very first words I heard were something like “UVA without a field goal in the last eleven minutes” and my heart dropped into my stomach. Eleven minutes without a bucket to close a game at home against a team that lost (at home) to both Bryant and Colgate. I grow weary of the “a win is a win” crowd who refuse to consider that our big men are soft, our defense is suspect, and our lineups are puzzling. We need to get our act together, fast.
A few weeks ago, I wrote of the impact Handel’s Messiah has on me, and in that essay I went into a bit of my own faith and theology, which included some discussion of interactions with people I know who don’t see the world quite like I do. A pastor friend read that piece and had some nice things to say about it, but the nicest thing he did was recommend a book to me—sort of a modern update on C. S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”, which I consider a masterpiece on faith and doubt. The recommended book is “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” by Timothy Keller. I’m about 2/3 of the way through it, and it is a great read. Keller is very respectful of doubt and doubters while working though thoughtful argumentation that not only addresses the arguments of doubters, but makes an affirmative case for believers.