I have been silent for most of this year. The reasons why are many but suffice it to say that the stuff out there to write about is almost overwhelming and I have been unable to decide what I wanted to write about because there is just so much really distressing and distracting stuff that has happened since the beginning of the year. Much of what is going on is a distraction from the really important stuff.
I am interested in the news surrounding the change of heart on 'the marriage issue' that is dominating CPAC's annual circle jerk. Sen Rob Portman (R-OH) has announced that he is switching his position on marriage equality from being an opponent to being a supporter. He says that he changed his position because his son Will came out to him. I wonder if his position change extends to voting for repeal of DOMA and of course, preliminarily to such a vote into a vote for cloture of the always launched “GOP filibuster” machine. The conversion of Rob Portman makes me wish he had been the veep nominee of the GOP in the last election. Could it be that Paul Ryan was second choice to Rob Portman and that Portman was disqualified because he has a gay son at Yale and because the wingnuts in the GOP figured the potential nominee was struggling with something that might be an October Surprise for them?
Last weekend was also the weekend of the annual CPAC conference. There was a lot of the old in and out at CPAC this time around. This year Trump was in and Christie was out. Both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul competed for favorite son status at the conference. GoProud is also out apparently. Sarah Palin was obviously in. Sarah was in good form but sounded like her next gig is going to be in a back alley comedy house somewhere. Rand sounded like Rand, someone who would create his own ophthalmology association in order to call himself an eye doctor. Oh and in case you were worried Barack Obama is still on the outs, and according to some of our fellow citizens at CPAC, the worst thing to happen to the US of A since the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment. Speaking of the Thirteenth Amendment Mississippi just got around to ratifying it a few weeks ago. Repeal of ongoing injustices should never be entered into abruptly and only after careful thought apparently. It only took one hundred forty-three years.
One of the afternoon presiders at the conference on the afternoon before the straw poll was taken urged the attendees to vote 'early and often' as the saying goes. He suggested they just make up names and vote ignoring the log-in system that been established to provide security for the CPAC members' right to vote. These are the same people who are by and large arguing for and legislating to protect the sacred and fundamental right to vote by making sure exercise of the right by people of color, poor people and old people is as onerous as possible.
There was probably more fun stuff going on at CPAC but news of that circus was completely overtaken and pushed off the front page by the drama going on in Rome over the conclave of cardinals charged with selecting a new pontiff. Wonder, speculation and whimsy seemed to dominate that offering. The result of course was the guy no one expected, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the fellow who rides to work on the bus, cooks and eats his own meals. The man called Francis. He has apparently not yet moved into his apartment in the apostolic palace because he has complained of its size. It is being remodeled to reduce its size. That's an ominous sign for things to come at least as far as the curia goes. Talking heads are saying that the man's biggest task is going to be to rein in the curia and to diversify it. It is interesting to note that many of the papal electors were and are curia members. Perhaps that's why after five ballots they chose Jorge for the simple reason he has no curia experience and probably has no idea where the skeletons are buried in Vatican City and has no clue where to start. Or perhaps after two pontificates stretching thirty-five years headed by non-Italians the choice of an Italian-descended Argentine pope was a nudge back to selecting Italians as popes. Who knows? Doctrinally this Francis is pretty much by the book and I don't expect any large changes to come in doctrine. Although it is of some interest to note that when the Argentine national legislature was considering marriage equality he argued to the conference of bishops that they should not struggle against civil unions but should instead support them as the lesser of two evils. So he appears to be somewhat of a pragmatist. He is seventy-six years old and if he rubs too many medieval lords the wrong way they will most likely be rid of him soon, one way or another.