Let’s mutter a fond farewell to Paul Ryan (the Speaker of the House of Representatives and third in line to the presidency) who, after twenty years in the House, is retiring from his lofty post with a whimper, not a bang. Truth told, he will not be missed here; yet, in the generous spirit of the holiday season, we wish him success in his life-long search for a spine. (We may assume the Wisconsin “young gun” will be devoting his retirement to writing an appreciation of his guru, Friedrich A. von Hayek, rumored to be titled “The Road to Smurfdom.”)
You will recall that Congressman Ryan was a failed candidate for Vice President when Mitt Romney ran for the top spot in 2012, then reluctantly (or so it seemed) accepted speakership of the House in 2015. Passing for an intellectual in conservative circles, the self-styled policy wonk had the chance, as Speaker, to advance his ambitious long-time goals of balancing the budget and reducing the deficit. Instead, he failed miserably, blowing up both to new highs in a mere three years—the last two as a pliant tool of President Donald J. Trump.
Paul’s exit has been welcomed by both left and right with a hearty “good riddance!” “An abject failure” (Reason magazine), “Just a con-man” (Salon), “Biggest phony” (Vox), “A creation of Washington, an insider beloved only by insiders (Vanity Fair), “Has done such a poor job that it has become impossible for even the paid sycophants of Conservative Inc. to whitewash his record” (Townhall).
Such barbs fail to pierce Paul’s hide. Or if they do, the Fox News pundit has a knack of drawing healing media attention to himself and soft-soaping his detractors. His glowing self-assessment? He tells us, with an earnest, wide-eyed faux sincerity, that he “achieved a heck of a lot” and left “a darn good legacy.” (Nice, got your G rating there, Paul.) His greatest achievement? No surprise. The supply-side, trickle-down laggard cites last year’s tax cut act, a law that now assures the haves will have more, the have-nots a lot less, and pushes the nation as a whole to the brink of a fiscal abyss.
Our take? Two-shoes Ryan has a nice-guy face masking a shallow mind that finds no contradiction in a good Catholic worshiping both Jesus and Ayn Rand. (Paul, you’d better pray that Saint Peter moonlights as a hedge fund manager.)
Apparently Ayn had Ryan’s ear on his way out; the departing Speaker couldn’t help trashing, in his cautious way, California for its “bizarre,” “strange,” and “logic-defying” electoral practices. He says he went to bed election night with the Republicans leading in four or five of the seven of the state’s House seats in play, only to learn three weeks later that the Democrats had swept them all.
He wasn’t insinuating any “nefarious” doings, he admitted under questioning. But they do it differently in Wisconsin, he said. Indeed they do, as we shall see.
A quick rebuke to Ryan’s meek slander came from Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, in charge of our elections:
It is ‘bizarre’ that Paul Ryan cannot grasp basic voting rights protections. It shouldn’t ‘defy logic’ that elections officials are meticulous in counting every eligible ballot. California works to ensure every ballot is accounted for. In the most populous state in the nation—and the state with the largest number of registered voters—this takes time.
To further explain, California has recently encouraged vote-by-mail to make it easier for all citizens to do their civic duty. The result? Of the more than 12.5 million ballots cast in November, more than 40 percent of them (mail-in, provisional, etc) arrive for counting after election day, and a month is allowed for that laborious process. The late-count batch consistently favors Democrats by roughly two percent, explaining their late, come-from-behind victories in close contests. You know, Paul, you really ought to come out here and visit us. Get a glimpse at 21st Century living. (And check out the latest advances in the dairy industry; you may know ours is the largest in the nation.)
Turnabout is fair play, they say. Now it’s us Golden Staters’ turn to ask you, Paul, how you Cheesy State guys run your elections. You didn’t tell us when you lectured us, and we think we know why. You didn’t want us to know about your party’s latest dirty trick, November’s shameful heist of power in Wisconsin from the newly elected Democratic governor Tony Evers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it kind of goes like this: Voters vote out your Republican governor, Scott Walker, but before his Democratic successor Evers can take office, you use the lame-duck legislative session to pass laws that transfer power from the newly elected governor to whatever legislative branch or branches your party still holds...kind of a three-card monte scam gaining favor with the GOP nationally. We hear that Michigan (also with an incoming Democrat succeeding a vanquished Republican) is considering adopting this Banana Republic ploy.
But give credit where credit is due for this latest breakthrough in electoral corruption. That honor goes to the up-and-coming state of North Carolina, home of the famous Research Triangle Park, of which Tar Heelers are justly proud. Republicans there are keeping abreast in the political field. Not only were they the first to pull off the lame-duck power heist in 2016 on incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper; they perfected it, patented it, then exported it to the Badger State. Now, as we speak and read, they are on the cheating edge of Republican politics again with their latest trailblazing experiment. That is forging absentee ballots, and stealing and destroying others that don’t favor their candidate. That test is going on in Bladen County, North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, and, if successful, will soon be fit for export to Republicans everywhere to add to their bulging bag of dirty tricks.
Golly! This is mind-bending stuff for us simple, honest West Coasters. Which leads me to ask you three final questions, Paul, before you stroll off into the moneyed halls of lobbydom:
Don’t you think such political “advances” might damage our democracy? Seriously, how the hell do these sordid stunts move our nation forward...you know, the USA, the begetter of modern democracies, AKA the hope of the world, the land of the free and the home of the brave?
What would Robert La Follette think of your conduct if “Fighting Bob” were alive today?
Can you tell me why political corruption is so rampant east of the Rockies? Why is it that those states have so much trouble conducting fair elections? You know, your own Wisconsin, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Alabama, to name just a few.
All we can say is wow! Your tactics leave us clean, honest folks on the West Coast behind the curve of corruption, at a constant disadvantage in the national governance. Time to take drastic action. Californians! Oregonians! Washingtonians! Hawaiians! Unite! Time to peacefully part from those chronic cheaters east of us and form a more perfect union of our own. We’ll call it Pacifica, with liberty, justice, and fair elections for all!