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Thoughts on Events the Week of April 9

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on April 19, 2018

Speaker of the House is leaving the building: Paul Ryan, leader of the Republican-controlled U. S. House of Representatives, announced that he will not seek re-election in the 2018 mid-terms, guaranteeing that there will be a new Speaker next year, whichever party controls the House.

It is unusual for someone to give up that much power and authority without a fight. I suspect Ryan became sick of fighting with his own tempestuous caucus, and I think he calculates that Democrats might very well win back the House in the next election and he wouldn’t have any power or authority anyway. He may also calculate that he would lose his own House seat against Democratic challenger Randy Bryce.

Ryan, 48, has been a rising superstar in Republican politics. He is what passes in Republican circles for a “policy wonk,” because he can put a patina of rationale over the most mean-spirited, preposterous or patently obvious rip-offs of the poor and elderly, with a straight face.

Ryan can take credit for guiding the obscene $1.5 Trillion tax cut for the already too richest of our fellow countrymen through the House. But, when people begin to experience the consequences of that tax cut, he may not be able to show his face in public again… perhaps another reason he decided not to run.

Taxes are the primary source of revenue by our government is funded. Taxes are also essential in implementing and influencing public policy. But they also reflect where our hearts, our morals and our values lie.

Justice, individual rights and compassion are human concepts. They don’t exist in Nature. They don’t exist in Paul Ryan either. He is the author and champion of vicious attacks on the poor, elderly and minorities among us.

It’s said that Ryan didn’t want the job of Speaker of the House, and had to be coaxed into taking it. This could be true. Ryan was instrumental in driving his predecessor – John Boehner – to resign in frustration and disgust at his own party. Ryan knew what a miserable, difficult, unrewarding job it could be to lead the deeply fractured Republican House caucus.

Ryan only agreed to take the job when both Republican factions – the right and the wing nut right – promised to stop fighting and follow his lead. Here’s the delicious part: the Republican’s brilliant policy wonk is so stupid he actually believed them. The warring factions were at each other’s throats again, and Ryan’s, before he could swing his new gavel.

Somewhere in Ohio, Boehner is smoking a cigarette, sipping bourbon and chuckling. Except for the cigarette and Ohio parts, so am I. Ryan is a truly bad guy, and I am glad to see his career come to such an ignominious end.

Syria: President Assad gassed his own people, again, and President Trump fired a bunch of missiles into Syria, again. The whole episode was a Kabuki dance, except, of course, for those Syrian citizens killed by their own president in the gas attacks. Trump’s missiles accomplished nothing.

Our “position” regarding Syria remains the same as it has for years. We don’t know what is going on there. We don’t know what we are doing there. We don’t know what we want to accomplish there. We don’t know our friends from our enemies there. We don’t have a clue, and yet we dance on.

Revisiting Good Friday: We celebrated this “holiday” last week, and our schools, public buildings and many businesses were closed, at least in Arizona. I am adamantly opposed to a public celebration on this holiday, in the interest of separating church and state.

I don’t mind celebrating Easter (well, not me personally, but Christians), because it always falls on Sunday and doesn’t cause any harm then anyway. For others, it’s just another Sunday.

And, I don’t mind celebrating Christmas, because it, and all the other holidays celebrated around that time, are all descendants of the Winter Solstice, something genuinely worth celebrating. No harm, no foul.

But Good Friday is an expressly Christian event, with a little Judaism thrown in, I suppose, forced into our holiday calendar exclusively for Christians, and that is not as the Constitution intends. So, take your palm fronds and your Hosannas and celebrate with them at home, with my blessing. But leave the schools open. Closing the schools on Good Friday is a poor way to teach students the Constitution.

Status of the States: Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a stench that keeps on stinking. Among his most egregious abuses of the public financial trust is having installed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – called a SCIF for short in governmental jargon, and a Cone of Silence in episodes of the sitcom “Get Smart,” which anticipated this clown – in his own office, at a cost of around $43,000 of your and my money.

In practice, SCIFs are used by our military, national security and intelligence personnel to communicate sensitive, confidential or secret information securely. Although I can’t imagine why it would be needed, there is already a SCIF in the EPA building at Pruitt’s disposal, but he just had to have his own.

To add insult to injury with this abuse of the public trust, it turns out that Pruitt’s SCIF doesn’t even meet the SCIF standards, just like in “Get Smart,” so the $43,000 was a complete waste of our money.

To be fair to Pruitt, if I were constantly colluding with big business to roll back regulations that protect our environment but which business finds inconvenient, I probably wouldn’t want anyone to hear my conversations either. What a worst state cup-winning putz! He’s all yours, Oklahoma.

 

 

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