You know, I really wanted to write about something other than the current events that continue to make me dribble margarita into my lap as I watch the news. I really did. So I'll do that before sinking my teeth into the latest from Lauren Boebert, which is the only thing they didn't do at the theater in Denver, by the way, or the wacky madcaps in the House GOP. Honestly, I want to be even-handed on this, but no one else is leading us to a shutdown. No one.
But first, two things reminded me I'm getting older this week. I wrote a piece a while back about losing friends, family, icons, and old romances as we age. This week brought another one. A news anchor named Ginger Casey only spent a few years in Houston before moving on to California, which was a much better fit for her. I worked with her at two Houston stations, KRIV and KHOU. I didn't know her really well, but admired her work tremendously. She was an Air Force veteran...
...and a funny and professional news woman. This is how I remember her when she was working in my hometown in the 70's, when we both looked like this.
I was leaving KRIV for a sojourn working in politics, which I'll write about someday when I'm less embarrassed about it. She was coming on board as part of a new anchor team with a nice guy named Hank Plante. I got a taste of her sense of humor when shortly after arriving, it was announced that the station was to be purchased by Fox. Knowing Rupert Murdoch's reputation for naked women in his British tabloids, and sensationalized local news, Ginger lamented, "Oh great. The set will be covered in blood and I'll be doing the news topless."
Later, we worked at KHOU, where I anchored the morning show and she the midday news. Her partner was a guy named Rick Sanchez who came from Florida and was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I got the distinct impression that his attempts at anchor banter left her scrambling most days to try to salvage something decipherable. You know how you feel if someone says something simply dumb like, "Isn't it weird how hot it is some days?" And you sit there, nonplussed, wondering how in the world I respond to something that simple-minded? Well, Ginger had to do it on TV, overcome her stunned reaction and fast forward to some semblance of competence like an F-15 on afterburners. She handled it all with aplomb.
She went on to other markets, found her life mate, and ultimately retired. We reconnected on Facebook where I learned a couple of days ago that she had lost her battle with lymphoma. If I may be forgiven for what may be a generational faux pas, she was one of those people deserving of the antiquated descriptor, "A really great dame."
The other thing that hit me this week, was discovered on a long drive, which I normally love. I am anchoring the news for a station roughly 80 miles away, a station in which I am an investor. We have put our lovely old 19th century house on the market here in east Texas because of that and this town is truly more boring than should be allowed by law. But given 7% interest rates out there, we might as well be trying to sell a bottle of covid on Ebay.
So, for now, I'm driving a lot. Over the years, I have owned 33 cars as best I can figure. In the early days, they were sports cars. Healeys, MG's, a Triumph, an Alfa, a Fiat, a Porsche and a couple of Jaguars. In between, while financially recovering from the expense of keeping them running, I owned VWs of various sorts. Then in 1982, I married Karen. We honeymooned in Puerta Vallarta, and during our week there, I rented an old, rusty Jeep CJ5. It was loud, slow, and the passenger seat was held in by the seat belt across Karen's lap and it crapped out on our last day there. But I was smitten, and since then it's been Jeeps mostly, with a couple of other 4x4 vehicles occasionally. Surprisingly, Karen is still here.
Currently, I have an old 1993 Jeep Wrangler which I keep telling myself I'm restoring. Oh, it's rust-free but loud, slow, and without AC or a radio for now. So, during our recent descent into Hell this summer, I drove my wife's Cadillac on the daily 160 mile round trip. But, the weather down here is moderating and on a couple of balmy days in the 80's, I decided to take the doors off, roll up the back window, and drive the Jeep. I don't really take the top down much as I am glow-in-the-dark Irish and I don't look great in red. And besides, putting the top up on an old Jeep is like erecting a tent.
But on a cool morning, it was a joy... for about a half hour. Then the boredom of the noise, lack of music, and pulling over constantly for faster cars since the Jeep is a 50-60 mile per hour vehicle. And it hit me, as a man of a certain age (my extremely late 40's), I'm not having the fun I used to. That hair shirt is beginning to itch.
I now am looking at other Jeeps, hard tops, with air and a stick shift. And it's apparently because I am officially an old fart. I'm even more embarrassed because our Outlaw Writers colleague Jim Moore is still riding motorcycles through Big Bend like he's some kind of active guy or something. So, where did this guy go?
But, enough whining about my wussification. On to the events of the day, which on this day are nothing since the Republicans in the House of Representatives decided to go home for the weekend when the government will probably shut down by the end of this week. Yes, fresh from almost screwing up our national credit rating, the merry pranksters of the so-called "Freedom Caucus" have decided that they seemingly just don't like government at all. So, they want any budget proposal to contain things no one else with vote for. And Speaker Kevin McCarthy, still recovering from his spine bypass surgery, is at a loss to stop them.
And we are talking about the usual players. Everyone's favorite theater snuggle bunny, Lauren Boebert is part of this Nutty group. Using the tried and true tactic, well for a 2-year-old, of stomping their feet and whining for budget cuts that are simply not going to happen, they will instead simply bring it all down.
Not even willing to grant the budget negotiators the equivalent of a fiscal reach-around, Boebert and her fellow travelers Marjorie Taylor Greene...
Sorry, my mistake...
There we go. And of course, the guy you don't want chaperoning the senior prom, Matt Gaetz...
This trio and some others like the clearly certifiable Paul Gosar, who just yesterday called for the execution of General Mark Milley, want to balance the budget seemingly all in one fell swoop.
This indicates a couple of things. One, they don't understand the consequences of their plan, and two, they can't add. The things they hate, education, the EPA, the labor department, and more, will not happen and wouldn't come anywhere near cutting the deficit. I explained all this in a piece I wrote last year.
And like all in their party, the problem is always the spending and not the federal income. If you raise spending and don't pay for it with increased revenue, you have red ink. If you cut taxes, and not spending, you get red ink. This is simple enough for a member of the House with only a GED. Cutting Social Security, which many have wanted since FDR bounced Missy LeHand on his knee, is reliably on their agenda.
But Social Security has it's own source of funding, along with Medicare. It is not contributing to the deficit. Anyone who says otherwise is quite simply a liar. Yes, both face shortages in the future, but while Republicans only see cutting benefits, raising the retirement age so gramps can keep greeting WalMart shoppers into his 90's, or eliminating it altogether for kids in school now, the solution is much simpler. Eliminate the income cap for SS taxes and it's done. Again, read the piece I did last year. I pay SS tax on every dime I make. So can Bill and Elon.
They won't cut defense, in fact, they will increase it. They want to cut off aid to Ukraine, but no one else will go along with that. And the other budget items they do want to cut are a drop in the bucket. Even their colleagues in the Sanity Caucus and the whole damned Senate are telling them to take a hike. Well, except for Tommy Tuberville, who sounds like the host of an afternoon kid's show and makes Boebert look like Jefferson.
But this is all about performance art. This is not governing. It is not statesmanship. It is about a slot on Fox and more contributions from the great unwashed. It's the political equivalent of a roadshow of Beetlejuice, but without the fun stuff on row 36.
And Kevin McCarthy? He fought to a humiliating degree to become the speaker of the House. And now he finds that to remain that, he has to allow unsupervised children to run the daycare. McCarthy, before he sold his soul to Trump and put his manhood in a blind trust, was considered a standard issue conservative engaging in battles with the other side that stayed within the agreed-to guard rails of American government. Now, his only goal is to not be removed as Speaker, period, full stop.
And the capper to this nonsense? Moody's Analytics, the last of the big 3 ratings agencies to keep America's rating at the top level of Triple A, said today that even a short shutdown would essentially jeopardize that. Congratulations, House Republicans. As mentioned in the TV show "Succession," these are not serious people. Hell, these are not smart people.
It is voters who have honestly put us in this bind by putting just enough halfwits into office to gum up the works. And they are led by a guy too craven to call them out and assert command. And because of this, starting at the end of the week, this collection of blockheads will cause the government of the greatest democracy in the world to close for business. If you support them, don't explain it to me. Explain it to military families who will have to somehow budget for this. Men and women who would, literally, take a bullet for this country will be stiffed on their paychecks.
These are the same voters who might actually elect Ken Paxton over John Cornyn next go around. The same kinds of voters who kept electing Senator Robert Menendez who so clumsily was paid off by folks in Egypt. I mean, gold bars and a Mercedes? And this came after he barely escaped the big house ten years ago for the same thing. His daughter Alicia is an accomplished journalist and anchor on MSNBC. Usually, it's the kids that embarrass the parents, like a certain Presidential son that comes to mind. I feel for Alicia. It's like being a Cuomo, for crying out loud.
I know every politician ends a speech with "God bless the United States." Maybe we should copy our British cousins with "God save the United States." We haven't made it easy for Him.