The Golden Gavel

The most talked about show this week was the one where a group of adult politicians squirmed in desperation, objected in glee and eventually screamed with pride as they finally, after 15 torturous televised parliamentary procedure-moderated votes, managed to elect a new Speaker of the 2023 U.S. House of Representatives.

Well whoop de doo

And yet no single image summed up the marathon. multi-day event better than this behind-the-scenes photo snapped of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), she of handy-dandy, I will school you, portable white board fame, as she sat patiently waiting for the just barely-in-the-majority opposing party to get it together enough to agree on some one to take possession of that much hallowed Speaker’s gavel.

We stan

When Holly, our beloved NFAC executive editor, private messaged me the photo of our beloved Katie reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck amid all the chaos on the House Floor my first thought was:

 OMG, I bet that’s exactly what she’d say after a glass a wine and exactly what she’d do, née read publicly, if she WASN’T a politician.

I also thought. What a f’n great title for a book!  Someone should write that rather than just spend time merely reproducing it for some snide meme people like me would like.

Well, never let it be said that I don’t tell tales on myself out of school and don’t appreciate former college professor Katie (Note: And current one, Holly) for both their nerve AND for schooling me once more.

As it turns out, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, written by blogger Mark Manson, is indeed a REAL BOOK.  In fact, it’s a N.Y. Times bestseller that to date has sold 20 million copies and has been translated into 65 different languages. 

And it has a sequel!

Not only that, but he’s the subject of a 2023 documentary feature now playing in movie theatres, entitled….well, figure it out.

I’m so out of it. 

But, well, at least I know it.  And clearly I DON’T give a f*ck.   Nothing subtle about that.

Cheers to you Chairy!

But let’s get back to Katie and Mark and how together they’ve captured the national zeitgeist, as far as public reaction goes, to the Speaker of the House election.

“F” bombs flew, fingers wagged, and a fistfight nearly broke out among that very special group of political, ahem, elites, by the time a razor thin majority of Republicans dragged their new leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), across the finish line. 

The final vote had McCarthy with 50.5% of the chamber, excluding six members of his own party that could only bring themselves to vote present (Note: A House version of abstaining) rather than granting their candidate a full-on endorsement.

Press it again!

This, of course, was nowhere near the spectacle of the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol Building that ironically occurred exactly two years ago to the day in exactly the same place  and in front of many of the same people that this final vote was taking place.

Way back on Jan. 6, 2021  there was a storming of the entire Capitol Building to stop the count of a free and fair PRESIDENTIAL election.  And on that day many, many dozens of people were actually physically injured, including 140 members of law enforcement.   Windows and doors were broken, offices were defaced and feces were spread all over the walls.

Oh and also, five people died.

Never forget

A number of politicians who supported that insurrection, attempted coup or patriotic peaceful protest of the Republican base of disgruntled and suspicious voters – depending on how you want it referred to and whether you believe in fact or fiction – were, in fact, actually among those whose votes, or votes of PRESENT, granted Rep. McCarthy his….victory two years later.

People like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the subject of an extensive federal probe of sex-trafficking/having sex with a 17-year-old girl; and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a twice arrested gun enthusiast and anti-gay marriage crusader who believes the church is supposed to direct the (U.S.) government.

This this this

Not to mention several more we won’t name who were in on the planning of Jan. 6 2021, along with POTUS #45.

Speaking of #45, another McCarthy voter, Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA), she of the Jewish space lasers, gleefully approached one of the McCarthy PRESENT holdouts with her cell phone at the 11th hour and urged him to take the call of D.T. (aka #45), which he promptly refused.  (Note: Okay, twist my arm, it was Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-CO)).

But, as the reporting goes, #45 did manage to reach Rep. Gaetz and urged him to wrap things up and get the vote done.

Which, miraculously, he did at the eleventh and a half hour.

But not before Rep. Greene was then caught by intrepid C-SPAN cameras yucking it up with about to be newly minted, lair, liar pants on fire Congressman George Santos (R-NY).

Where’s my cringe button?

In case you don’t remember, that’s the guy who lied about everything on his resume, including his college degree, work history in finance, and mysterious million dollar plus increase in annual income in 2021 and 2022 (Note: From $50,000 the year prior), that became one of the chief funding mechanisms that enabled his campaign win.

Like Gaetz,  #45 and a bunch of other Congressional McCarthy voters, he is also currently the subject of multiple investigations.

I guess this isn’t funny.  Or maybe it is.   We’ll know in a few months. 

But how many of us will give a you know what about it, or much of anything, by then?

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” Trailer

Am I Optimistic?

It’s so difficult to not get taken in by the headlines and be depressed, especially if you’re a baby boomer Democrat like me.

Conservatives targeting public libraries and their funding to ban books they don’t like

Indiana lawmakers ban abortion statewide with few exceptions

A 38% approval rating for Pres. Joe Biden, the worst ever recorded for a president.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)  gleefully proclaiming to a crowd of his fans, my pronouns are kiss my ass.  Not to mention Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) authoritatively stating most Americans are Christian nationalists, despite all rational facts to the contrary.

Evergreen

But those are headlines, half-truths and provocative click bait that don’t tell the whole picture.  Still, it is easy to believe any one of these digestible thoughts in their entirety, or at least partially, because it takes time and energy to unravel them.

The fact is many Americans don’t have time or inclination to address these and many other issues, especially at the speed with which they’re hitting us.

And most of us definitely do not have the energy. 

For the majority of us, what little intellectual space we have left has to be doled out towards paying the bills and eluding the next airborne national/international virus.

I mean, polio is back?  POLIO????

I truly cannot

Nevertheless, and in truth, this week was a win for Dems like me, and for the country.

Voters in Kansas – a red state by any measure and somewhat of a bellwether for broad conservative thought – resoundingly rejected an abortion law that could have opened the door for the state to altogether OUTLAW abortion.

Toto, we’re home! #NoPlaceLikeKansas

July had an unexpected and exceedingly strong U.S. jobs report of more than half a million jobs added, bringing us back to pre-pandemic levels and more than doubling even the boldest predictions.

Gas prices dropped 70 cents per gallon in the last month from a record high and are predicted to further plummet back down to manageable levels.

The Biden administration tracked down and killed the #1 most wanted terrorist – Ayman al-Zawahri, the current head of Al Qaeda, and mastermind of 9/11 as Osama Bin Laden’s #2 in command, after a more than two decade search. 

Congress is about to pass a historic $740 billion bill that will tackle climate change and move us towards clean energy, reform the tax code to benefit average Americans, and take drastic steps towards getting prescription drug prices under control.

And this was all accomplished over a two-and-a-half week period when Pres. Joe Biden was twice diagnosed with Covid, the latter a rare rebound case.

Sleepy who?

If I were an optimist, which I generally am not, I might even write, who knows what could happen in the months going forward now that he’s testing negative?

The above events and my intermittent Ping-Pong thinking on all of them, reminds me of a life lesson I have to actually keep reminding myself of daily

It is always darkest before the dawn.  

Or as Shelly, my second mother and an avid reader, used to tell me to cheer me up –

Life is like a great book (Note: No, NOT a box of chocolates!) – you turn the page and you never know what can happen.  Good and bad.

Is this… optimism?

It is disorienting to be met with such anger and vitriol by people who don’t agree with you, not to mention your, ahem, lifestyle, whatever that might be.

But it is not determining of what awful things will literally occur in the world or in your life.

It is merely a take on a viewpoint or event you can’t control.

It is a snapshot, a fact, a statement or a misstatement at any given moment.  It is indicative of what is from a source, but not necessarily predictive of what will be. 

Certainly, it is not predictive of your day, unless you want it to be.

Whatever Francis!

This of course doesn’t mean I still don’t want to push Ted Cruz into a vat of his own bullsh-t or tell Marjorie Taylor Greene to go f-ck herself while she is suspended upside down in Macy’s window.

It only means I know the difference between my fantasies and reality. 

And that what I will actually choose to devote my time to do, much less believe, on a given day, is in my hands, not theirs.

“Don’t Stop Believin'” – viral Janitor performance (from ABC News)