Archive for October, 2023

Can he do it?

Author: admin


So we have a Speaker of the House. I’ll give you that.

Question is, for how long? Six months? Three months? Two? One?

No one knows at this juncture. But, given the history of the far right in all things political, the honeymoon may be short-lived. Words like “constancy” and “lengthy service” are not often attached to their doings.

Mike Johnson is the poster boy for all things extremist. He’s had a fair to middling career on the bank benches. Not often raising his voice, sort of going with the flow. Especially if that flow has been to the right.

But, here’s the thing. If he’s to be Speaker, he has to be Speaker for the whole House. Not just the 40 or so cretins of the right. He may tilt that way in speech or thought. But, in the end, those of the opposite political persuasion have to be included in the workings of the House, too. That means, he’ll have to moderate a bit.

Now, if there’s one thing the right flank can’t stand it’s moderation.
Even the smallest movement to the middle. “Our way or the highway.” “You’re with us or you’re ‘agin us.”

Even Newt Gingrich, with his “take no prisoners” politics, found he had to compromise here and there. While his career was nothing to write home about, he at least survived his turn “in the barrel” with his scalp intact.

If Johnson “moderates,” will he be accused of “selling out?” Will a move toward the middle be viewed as “traitorous?” Will he find himself on the outside of the cabal looking in?

Then, there’s new relationships with the President and the Senate to contend with. While Mr. Johnson might hold far right positions on such issues as abortion, he’s got to work with the other two branches of government who are not as hidebound as himself. Can he do that?

If he doesn’t move leftward, he won’t have much cooperation from the folks at the other end of political life. Like Democrats. Remember, the GOP margin in the house is about four votes.

Mr. Johnson is going to have to do some soul searching. Does he really want the job and all the accouterments there-with? Or, would he rather enjoy the peace and quiet that’ve been the hallmark of his career thus far?

A former Idaho Governor used to say: “It’s easier standing outside the circle, throwing the spears in, than it is to be on the inside catching ’em.”

Johnson might enjoy a bit of a honeymoon with Democrats lying low for a short period. And, with the right-wing of his own Party holding it’s fire for awhile.

But, sooner or later, he’s going to be put to the test. Remember, it was Republicans who introduced this idea of Speaker recall by just a handful of voices in the House. So, when that test comes – and it will – will Johnson survive?

Words like “stable,” and “permanent,” and “moderate” are highly to be desired in the new Speaker. Those adjectives certainly don’t describe the political roots from whence Johnson came. Far from it.

So, Mike Johnson could have some tough times ahead as he tries to be Speaker for all 434 House members. A job he can’t successfully do if he tries to simply hang onto his previous political leanings.

I don’t know who would want the job. But, I wish him well.


Author: admin

There’s a question that needs to be asked about our country’s future.

“Is America governable?”

At the moment, and for the last couple of years, the answer to that question might require a qualified “yes.”

Not exactly the ringing endorsement one would expect. Certainly not the answer you might desire. Just a qualified “yes.”

Some 50 years ago or so, there was a collection of malcontents that founded the John Birch Society. From the start, the various “cells” of the Society found fault with the then-direction of the country, its politics and society (small “s”) in general. The search for suspected Communists kept members busy looking behind every tree and bush. No one in any position of government was to be trusted. Especially Democrats.

Over the years, the Society and others of such ilk morphed into all sorts of “aginers.” Trusting nothing. Trusting no one. Offering not a speck of anything to right the “wrongs” they opposed.

Along came “talk radio.” Suddenly, the malingerers had a “voice.” Their activities could be brought out into “the light.” They had a focal point for all to see.

The sad truth is this “voice” of the right morphed again. It found a home in the national Republican Party and, through that, down to the local committees. The “Grand Old Party” would never be the same.

Over many national and state elections, representatives of rightward thought were elected to thousands of public offices. The face of government changed at all levels. The “my-way-or-the-highway” crowd was in charge.

Think about it. Our current struggle to simply elect a Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives has become such a volatile mess because of what? The far-right. About 20 or so members got their backs up and told Jim Jordan his search for power would end in failure. And, that’s been true.

While advocating nothing and opposing everything, these “cells” of rightward “thought” have infected Congress. The legal demand of a general national budget looms just a couple of weeks off. But, thanks to these miscreants, no one is doing much about getting down to the number crunching.

For the last few years, we’ve not had a national budget. We’ve been existing on what’s called a “continuing resolution.” That means, no one has constructed a budget from scratch for a decade or so. Instead, Congress has simply adopted a budget from a few years back and added an annual percentage “guestimate” to keep things running.

There’s a wonderful contradiction in all this. The right-wingers have loudly – and repeatedly – advocated for “cutting the fat” out of our government spending. But, it’s the same bunch that’s continually – and successfully – kept budget hawks from creating a leaner operating document.

The embarrassing fight keeping Jordan out of the Speaker’s chair is the doing of the far-right contingent within the national GOP. Whatever blood there be is on their hands. The personal threats against families of members of Congress, the anonymous callers in the middle of the night, the threatening texts and emails – those are theirs, too. All of it. The whole nasty, dangerous, mindlessness mess is theirs.

Recent governance, as we know it, has been simply responding to one crisis or another, drifting along without direction, without goals, without truly responding to national concerns. Gun violence. Solid evidence of the effects of climate change. Action on our national drug crisis and it’s many manifestations on society. Reining in our bloated defense spending. All are serious national problems. But, Congress is doing nothing!

So, we are left with the question. “Is America governable?” And, the answer continues to be a qualified “yes.” And such governance as there be is facing threats of violence and insurrection we’ve not seen for 250 years.

The answer – the action to get us back on the correct path – will not come from the top down. Solutions – corrections – must come from the bottom up.

We have a national election in some 13 months. A third of the seats in the U.S. Senate will be contested. And, every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives will be “up for grabs.” Every one.

That election is so damned important. More than ever, we need an informed electorate. A very well-informed electorate. Vacancies in public offices must be filled. Candidates – whether now in office or new faces – must be re-examined for fitness. For judgment. For integrity. Nothing less is acceptable.

“Is America governable?” Can we make that answer an unqualified “YES?” The answer is up to us.

Three stories

Author: admin

For over a week now, we’ve been confronted by three stories from opposite sides of the world: Hamas attacks in Israel; the pending war in Gaza; the bungling, feckless attempts of Republicans to find themselves a Speaker in the House of Representatives.

Watching Israel-Hamas-Gaza stories, it’s impossible for nearly any of us to imagine what agony this new series of battles represents for those who live there, seemingly under attack from all sides.

Sitting in the security of our living rooms, we’ve witnessed human carnage from afar. Footage of the bullet-riddled body of a baby wrapped in small, blood-stained blankets is the worst inhumanity I’ve ever witnessed. What animal could have fired the many bullets that caused the deadly wounds? For God’s sake, why”

Carnage at the site of that music festival was especially disturbing as I thought back to the many such gatherings I’ve attended over the years. Wine, music, dancing blended over many hours lying on blankets with friends creating some of the best memories possible. Some, for me, were on warm Summer days at Ste. Chappelle Winery in Idaho’s Canyon County. Remember Gene Harris?

Trying to juxtapose those memories with stories of gunmen peppering those far-off revelers with bullets as they enjoyed the same sort of weekend afternoon is impossible.

In Israel and looming crisis in Gaza, the war is defining life. And death. When conditions settle down, there will be no winners. No victors. Just defeat and the stench of death for all participants.

The search for a lasting peace will be fruitless because the battles have been going on for centuries. What began hundreds of years ago is as current as today. Religious and social differences carry on the deadly traditions.

The rest of the world can watch the killing and express hopes for a lasting peace. But, peace has been elusive in the region for hundreds of years. And, it seems it will remains so.

In our nation’s Capitol, battles of a different kind as Republicans continue to be their own worst enemies. They’ve brought national governance to a standstill. The splintering GOP is now threatening our national security.

Congress can’t act on anything, including aid to our friends in Israel. Republicans can’t even enjoy their slim majority in the U.S. House to elect a Speaker.

Simply put, there is no majority in the majority. Republicans have become so divided they can’t even name a Speaker candidate. Which is the most honored perk of a House majority party.

Forget congressional action on dozens of important issues. Forget any compromise leading to the fulfillment of their oaths of office. Forget the necessary balance of a three-legged government. Righting those efforts seems impossible given the current divisions.

The road ahead of us seems out of focus. The road back to the societal peace we’ve so long enjoyed seems illusory. Out of reach.

It doesn’t seem any force could reconcile Congress – much less this nation – short of war. That’s done the trick a couple of times.

We’re about to enter the first trial of Donald Trump. Maybe the first of several similar judicial acts. He’ll rant and rave and threaten. He’ll bluster and lie. But, justice is about to bite him for the first time. Other such judicial events lie ahead. He may escape some but not likely all. His life and comforts are about to change radically.

There are plenty of stories that’ll come out of these three highlighted. A war. An internecine battle for the soul of House Republicans. Trials of a long-time grifter whose time to face justice has finally come.

We won’t be wanting for “hard” news for some time to come.

To what end

Author: admin

I’m a senior. A very senior senior.

One of the constants in life has always been the stability of my country. My own life might include some twists, turns and upsets.
But, over the long haul, my homeland was secure. Safe. Stable. Many thousands of our brothers and sisters fought and died to assure that security. That stability.

Then – POW!!!

Stability is threatened, to be replaced with loud noises and divisiveness. Fractures of governing bodies. Attacks on those who have differing views. Institutional instability. An uncertain future.

For the first time in my life, I fear for that future. The uninterrupted continuity of our nation. The consistent presence. The assurance of peace. The guarantee of liberties for all. These and more are under attack by some in our society. Inside our own government.

Adding to that fear is the fact the current dangers to our mutual future are compounded daily. In courtrooms. In halls of governance. In the foundations of our national existence.

Some in our political system want to tear down the very government they were elected to serve. They want to destroy our institutions – our way of life. From local school boards to the halls of Congress.

They offer no hope for the future. They bring forward no plans for a better society. They offer nothing but a desire to disrupt and destroy.
The most recent example of this cancer is the ousting of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House. A small group – hardly more than a dozen – hollered and screamed until they got what they wanted. To get rid of McCarthy. Put to a “no confidence” vote, minority Democrats decided to go along.

But – what now?

The office of Speaker is vacant. The miscreants have nothing to offer in the way of an acceptable replacement who can get the 218 votes necessary to win the Speakership.. They destroyed their target but with no plan for the next step – replacing McCarthy.

Now, the House can’t conduct business. No legislation can be voted upon. Members are leaderless. No one who currently covets the job appears to have the ability to garner the minimum votes to win an election for Speaker. Death and destruction with no plan to rebuild or replace.

Those behind McCarthy’s ouster had only that task in mind. They offered nothing more than getting rid of their political target. It will be up to others to repair the damage.

Remember, McCarthy only got the job after 15 votes of the House and only after selling his soul to the devil to gain the favor of the 40 or so members of the far right cabal.

There is an irony here. That cabal that helped him get the speakership was prominent in McCarthy losing the job. That’s because the House voted last year to allow just a single, formal request from the floor to declare the Office of Speaker vacant, to be followed by an election to fill the vacancy. To become Speaker, McCarthy agreed to that change.

Historically, the Republican Party, as we’ve known it, no longer exists. Oh, you’ll face a ballot, a year from now, that’ll have Republican candidates. There’ll be Republican names alright.

But, once the successful Republicans get to the banks of the Potomac, will they join the political violence we’re now witnessing? Is there anything Republican about the Boeberts, Taylor-Greens, the Biggs or the rest of the mob? If you’re a Republican, do they represent your Republican values?

What we’re witnessing now is only the beginning. The battle in the House is only the initial act. The misplaced, ignorant anger that’s been percolating in the GOP for a couple of decades is building to a full head of steam.

We will see it’s effects in other outbreaks. And, there will be other outbreaks. You can bet the farm.

The ‘Pied Piper’ that is Donald Trump will continue to lead the way to more disruptions and violence. Standing on a street corner or from a jail cell, he’ll continue to have 20 or 30 million followers, eager to tear down our society – our government – or whatever other target he chooses.

All of this makes me fearful for the survival of our society and governance as we know it. As we’ve lived it.

We will survive the continued onslaught. Our institutions will remain. We will continue to have a position in world leadership. We will survive.

But, at what cost? And, what will our future look like? Certainly not the future millions and millions of us thought it would be. The predictability has been redirected.

To what?

New blood

Author: admin

What the Hell is wrong with Republicans in the U.S. House?

Speaking as someone who’s lived a long life and, one who has a penchant for following this country’s political affairs, I hasten to ask, “What the Hell is going on?”

House Republicans have been a pain in the ass for several years. But, the current crop has simply gone bananas.

An impeachment committee, looking for evidence it can’t find, trying to embarrass a sitting President whose done nothing impeachable. A President who could conduct a graduate-level course in politics that most of them couldn’t pass. A “special” committee trying to find “evidence” that doesn’t exist? Really?

There are 221 GOP’ers in the House. Most are sane. Most are there to do the people’s work. Most have a sense of the importance of the positions they hold. The history. The responsibility.


About 40 of those folks have no understanding of their roles in our democracy. They don’t understand the real work that must be done. They offer nothing in the way of responsible legislation. They produce nothing constructive. They make noises and clutter the atmosphere with baseless charges and personal antics that should be embarrassing. At least to them. ‘Cause they’re certainly embarrassing to the rest of us.

If those cretins were workers at a business in the private sector, it’s doubtful they’d be long-employed, given their disgraceful antics.
Facing the 2024 national election, you have to wonder if the folks at home will send these miscreants back for another term.

I know. I know. Your good guy is my bad guy and my good guy is your bad guy. Heard it all before.

But, Boebert? Taylor-Green? Gaetz? Biggs? Really?

All of this is getting out of hand. What’s needed is a Speaker of the House who will “crack the whip” and get things quickly straightened out. Gonna happen? Ya think?

The current Speaker is not up to the job. He’s proven time and time again he really doesn’t understand all the details. Kevin McCarthy, busy trying to hang onto that job, sold his soul to “the devil” to get it and, given ample evidence of his ego, he now must dance to the “devil’s” tune to keep it. Right now, he’s on very shaky ground. The situation is so bad Kevin can’t even introduce Senate-passed bills.

And, the next one introduced may be one to vote Kevin out of his job.

The U.S. House appears to be very close to being ungovernable. There are so many caucuses of this and that. Little groups of 10 to 40 that vote as a block. In close votes, one or more can make a difference.

The Senate, while splintered in philosophy as well, seems to be able to get its work done. How long that will last is anyone’s guess.

Looking down the political road to the election of 2024, that one is going to be absolutely critical. If there is any chance to weed out the miscreants and replace the wrong-doers with new, younger folks to get things back on track, November 4th, 2024 is the ‘drop dead’ date.

This time around, we can’t keep voting for the same old names. What’s needed now is ‘new blood.’ Fresh faces. Ages between 40 and 60. Either party. Younger people, some with legislative experience at home.

‘New blood’