I used to think that Iran was America’s “worstest” enemy in the world. To hear the political chatter, they were out to destroy us and destroy the American way of life.
Suddenly on the front page of the LA Times, the headline says, “U.S. and Iran discuss unity in the Iraq crisis.” There apparently is something worse than the “worstest,” and it’s called ISIS, which seemingly scares the hell out of both the U.S. and Iran, enough so that we’re now talking to each other earnestly. It makes you wonder about the extent we’re all being manipulated and what’s real in this morass of conflicting claims, warnings and cautions. The problem is, I’m beginning not to believe the administration anymore, but even worse than the Democrats are the Republican senators on TV, all pretending they’re the President of the United States with an easy solution to this very complex morass. Seems to me that the bottom line is that the Middle East is in turmoil. It’s probably going to continue in turmoil for the next century or so, and there is very little any of us can do about the sectarian violence other than wait it out, until they get tired of killing each other. It took several hundred years before the Catholics and the Protestants stopped killing each other, and there is absolutely no reason to believe the Muslim world will do it any quicker.
Nationally, on Thursday the Republicans are going to elect a new majority leader in the House and, barring any big surprises, it looks to be Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Congressman. I met and spoke to McCarthy when we owned our Sacramento newspaper, Capitol Weekly, and he was the minority leader of the State Senate. He struck me as a pretty levelheaded guy — smart, strategic, who knows how to work a room about as well as Bill Clinton. It can’t hurt California to have the #2 guy in the House to be from California. The big question is, how did Eric Cantor manage to get beaten so badly, or, to put it another way, how is it that he didn’t see it coming? One of the toughest things in politics is to smell a change in the air, particularly after you’ve been successful many times before. As we look back now, we can say the signs that he was in trouble were there, but he apparently had a “kiss up” staff who never said, “Boss, we may be in trouble,” and that was Cantor’s failure as a leader. It’s dangerous to believe your own polls and your own press releases.
Changes are going on in the State as well. We elected a new leader of the State Senate — Kevin De Leon, a Latino from LA. He’s smart, very personable, has a full, four-year term ahead of him; tight with labor, which, in a very blue state, isn’t bad. But there is a cloud on his horizon by the name of Bob Hertzberg and due to the peculiarities of term limits, law looks to have eight years in the Senate. Hertzberg, a former Speaker of the Assembly, is a man with formidable political skills, and typically a political moderate. There is an emerging moderate Democratic Caucus in the Senate and if the California Republicans ever decide to stop being stupid and get back into the game, the State Senate could become a very interesting place.
In LA, the Kings took the Stanley Cup and major credit goes to their conditioning coach, who turned out a bunch of guys who seemed able to skate full out during the game and then through a couple of overtimes — a remarkable display of stamina. My most lasting impression watching these guys smile is I hope there is good championship money because most of them need extensive dental work.
Locally, we just ran a story of a very popular watering hole in Malibu Creek where, if you’re young or out of your mind, you can jump into the creek from a cliff about 40 feet up. Unfortunately, they don’t all make it cleanly and the emergency crews spend a lot of time carrying people out on backboards. I guess I’m showing my age.