Observations on Occurrences of Note

The Past Week or So Left Us a Lot to Think About

Pelosi and Team Step Down

Not unexpectedly, Speaker Pelosi announced this week that she was stepping down as party leader in the House after a 20 year run. Her two key deputies did the same. A few points to highlight:

  • It was a gracious and classy speech.
  • This marks the end of what could well be the most effective Speakership ever. She has been a remarkable leader because, as is often said, she does so many things so well. The nation and her party owe her more than can be expressed.
  • The timing was right. The new team of candidates to be leaders look pretty solid, but they surely will be tested over the next couple of years. Expect a couple of growing pains, but overall I think they look right going forward.
  • It did not miss anyone’s notice that Speaker Pelosi said she enjoyed working with three presidents. Her time of service included four presidents. Donald surely took it hard. I remember she also butted heads with Bush the Younger quite often, but when working together counted, as in the economic crisis at the end of Bush’s term, she did all anyone could ask to pull the nation through.
  • We will miss her. I yield to no one my level of respect for this leader.
So, What Will Republicans Do with Their House Lead?

The Republicans did terribly by historic standards on these midterms. It was clear that the public was, surprise, paying attention. They rejected, for the most part, extremism, and those who did win, just barely squeaked in.

McCarthy, assuming he actually gets enough votes from his own members to be Speaker, will come in with a razor thin margin. This gives him two options:

Option 1: Do whatever his extremist wing demands. Spend most of the party’s time and energy in bogus “investigations” and opposing anything the Democrats propose, simply because they proposed it.

Option 2: Sit down with Democratic leaders and say something like the following: “We disagree on almost everything, but I am not interested in spending the next two years just fighting. Can we figure out at least a short list of priorities and programs that most of both our parties could agree on and at least get a minimum of governance accomplished, with full credit shared. I can bring along most of my members if you do the same.”

So which option do you think he will choose?

Yeah, that didn’t take long to figure out, did it? Option 2 would require a modicum of leadership, intelligence, and morality. Those three cabinets are empty with McCarthy.

The Republicans hit some issues of genuine concern in this recent election, leading among them being inflation and crime. Both of these are not easily fixed, we are in better shape than they said, and they had no solutions to offer. Still, the issues are absolutely valid.

So, are these their lead emphasis areas coming into January. Nope. They are leading with:

— The Hunt for Hunter Biden’s Laptop (if you enjoyed their SIX “investigations” of Ben Ghazi, you will like this one),

— Expanding gun rights,

–Impeaching the Attorney General, and

–Breaking up the FBI

(these last two because they hurt Trump’s feelings). Unbelievable.

Folks like Senator Hawley have already written that this course is the way to go, what people voted for, and signals the death of the old Republican party. The old party is, indeed, dead, but this is not the successor. They have run these lines about as far as they will go.

I surely could be wrong, but I don’t think the country is going to buy any of this. The Republicans will pay a price in 2024.

 The War in Ukraine – An Unexpected Change on the Battlefield?

There is a tradition about as old as anyone can measure around warfare in Russia’s neighborhood. The Winter is so brutal, that everyone stops major fighting, digs in, tries to stay warm, regroups and resupplies, with war restarting in Spring. Pretty much as we saw in Afghanistan, too.

I think Russia is counting on that pattern (they need it), but I am betting there are some surprises coming for them. Ukraine went to school seriously on modern warfare, mostly with the US and the UK. One of the lessons our forces believe in almost religiously is that you never give the enemy a break, a pause, a chance to catch their breath, to feel safe at any time.

My bet is that the Ukrainians will make great use of the technology they now have and the Special Forces they have developed, along with limited maneuver warfare, to punish the Russian forces through the Winter in ways they never saw coming. Physical and phycological exhaustion are on the menu. Let’s see if that happens.

 The Crash of Crypto Currency

This has been a tough year for Bitcoin, et all. The spectacular, almost overnight complete crash of the FTX exchange brought home the point: There is no there, there. I get all the sophisticated arguments for it and the dabbling by billionaires and big banks, but I am as convinced as ever that this is the new Version of the Dutch Bulbs economic phenomena of centuries ago. This is little more than a Ponzi scheme. Something with no substance, no oversight, no transparency is doomed as a financial market.

Nice if out of all this people got sober and governments worked to get a grip on this stuff. As one wag said last week, “If only a few thousand more people had warned me…..”

 Musk and The Remnants of Twitter

It is hard to imagine how this could be going any worse. It has been a case study in mismanagement and emotional immaturity on a grand scale. I think this is rather simply an example of the price of hubris and perhaps some mental/psychological issues. One should never underestimate Musk, but this is quite the unraveling.

I was willing to watch it go for a bit until he invited Trump back in. That did. Cancelled my account, small gesture that it is. I hardly ever posted on Twitter, but I did get some useful reads from it. To continue even that is underwriting a very bad thing. May it die the death it deserves (More on the changing social media world in another post soon).

Musk’s behavior is erratic enough that Tesla stock is taking a beating. If I was the USG, I would be looking seriously for a Plan B should Space X feel fall out from all this.

 Holidays – All 14 of Them

We had a glorious Fall here – hope you did too, wherever you are. Now we are in that extended holiday season. Between late October and mid-January there are 14 religious and cultural holidays celebrated around the world. Time to celebrate, congregate, cogitate. Reflect on the recent past, plan for the near future.

Enjoy the ones that apply to you. Happy Holidays (PS – that phrase in not an attack on Christmas. Someone please send Tucker Carlson a memo on this please).

            Bill Clontz

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2 replies to Observations on Occurrences of Note

  1. While both parties sort out their leaderships for the next session of Congress, I hope the that the Democrats will focus much of their lame-duck efforts on two big challenges that may just be solvable with their limited control. First, take the debt ceiling fight off the next Congress’ table. Hard and must be done through reconciliation but seems to be doable. (Some might argue that allowing the Republican Party to implode over this crisis next year as they have done over past budget fights and government closures would be a better strategy. Let’s not take a chance like that.) Second, fix and clarify the rules for the Electoral College. Can’t be done alone but there seems to be some energy on both sides of the aisle for this one and it’s far too important for future elections to ignore the confusion that the current law allowed in 2020.

    • Good calls, Warren. I expect the Electiral College may be a bridge too far for this session, but it surely needs to be done. And spot on about the deficit. This is a dumb approach we have: if the spending is legislated the debt should be built in.

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