I’ve got a slow start on this week’s column. It’s 7 a.m. Friday morning. The deadline is 9 a.m. I’m an hour late getting going. So let’s do a countdown. We’re now at S minus 120 minutes — S is for submission.
This week the news that’s caught my attention has been national news.
The House of Representatives voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to obey a subpoena! Yay! Let’s break out the good glasses and our best champagne! It’s party time!
Of course, by the time he could be convicted and sentenced, if it even comes to that, it will probably be the next presidential election, but that’s no reason not to celebrate now. Celebrate now, let the process continue and, at each upturn in the process, we can celebrate again. The big celebration for me will come if the Supreme Court rules Bannon’s claim of executive privilege on Trump’s behalf is rubbish. Fingers crossed.
I play this game both ways. If there’s a downturn in the process, I allow myself consolation pizza, with a consolation bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I always win something. S minus 112 minutes.
The court that gets his case could just decide to fine him a token dollar. That would call for extra pizza.
“Supply Chain Shortages, Your Questions Answered,” says The New York Times. Technically not actually national news, but as an American, I don’t know where any other countries might be or if they exist, and OK, even if they do exist somewhere (rumors abound), I can tell myself they’ve never known anything but supply chain shortages.
But this is America, the land of the free and the home of unlimited supply. When am I getting the Ritz crackers I ordered on Amazon? Would these fictitious Parisians I’ve heard mention of even care about Ritz crackers? I doubt it. Even if the Parisians are real, with their baguettes and snails and cheese, what would they need with real supplies? Are they going to complain the shelves at the local supermarket aren’t stocked with Wonder Bread? Of course not.
Compare the Steve Bannon contempt story and the supply chain shortage story. They both probably won’t get settled until 2024. Sometime around when all the masks come off.
Here’s something that could be resolved a lot sooner: The Supreme Court is going to hear arguments in a couple of libel cases that challenge a 1964 Supreme Court decision that made it hard to sue news outlets for libel. This is something Donald Trump wants, and it looks like at least two of the conservative members of the court — Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — are keen on making it easier to sue for libel.
I’m kind of split on the subject. On the one hand, it’s going to be bad for some reputable papers. On the other hand, look at where all the fake news is coming from these days. I don’t think Trump and his supporters have thought this through. Most of the lawsuits are going to come down on conservative fake news mills. National Fox News could get sued into bankruptcy two or three times over. S minus 93 minutes.
President Joe Biden is talking seriously these days about ending the filibuster rule. My understanding of how this works is that what we’re talking about is not really ending the filibuster as it used to be in the old days — just getting rid of the rule that 60 votes are needed to end debate in the Senate. It still will be possible for some nutter like Senator Lindsey Graham, who probably has no bladder, to try to keep a debate going by talking at the podium for hours, reciting from the collected works of e. e. cummings and long passages of “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace” and letters from his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The whole purpose of the current so-called filibuster rule has always been, again as I understand it, just to spare us the spectacle of some marathon speech by some self-sacrificing stick in the mud. But I like watching self-sacrificing sticks in the mud trying to delay an inevitable end to debate in the Senate. It lifts my spirits and puts a bounce in my step. It’s the whole reason for C-SPAN.
S minus 38 minutes and holding for revisions, cuts and fueling (fake French Cabernet Sauvignon).
S minus 20 and early launch.
Read more of the Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2021 issue.