There is no misspelling here. The article’s title is a play on words that alludes not to what Cain did to Abel, but rather to why he did it.
Cain acted out of jealously, envy, weakness, pride and greed. That is, the lesser angels of our nature – which we all know from being alive live with us still. The simple fact is that we remain what we have been for thousands of years, with all that suggests for good and for ill. It is why we need checks and balances. It is why Trump and his acolytes remain a clear and present danger to our basic freedoms. And it goes some distance towards explaining where we now are in our national life.
When Kevin McCarthy cut his deal to become House Speaker, it was not about policy or principal. And it was certainly not about us. It was only about one thing; him.
We know this from McCarthy having previously bent the knee to Trump, parroting the Big Steal, doing everything he could to undermine the January 6th Committee, and actively enlisting Marjorie Taylor Greene as a key ally in his “leadership” bid. And we know it from McCarthy’s now fully demonstrated commitment to expanding the swamp.
To discern this commitment we need look no further than committee assignments. Twenty-one Republican House members initially voted against McCarthy as House Majority Leader. So he worked hard to buy them.
Five of these same twenty-one representatives now sit on the Judiciary Committee, which (among other things) oversees law enforcement, the judiciary, and internal threats to the United States. Three are on the Homeland Security Committee, which is supposed to protect us from all threats – foreign and domestic. Five are on the Oversight Committee, and now well-positioned to aggressively pursue revenge politics. And two are on the Foreign Affairs Committee; that is, the body that helps shape and define how the United States engages with the rest of the world.
Who are these people? Let’s examine a sample – McCarthy’s five picks for the Oversight Committee.
One, Lauren Boebert, is a high school drop-out (she later earned an equivalency diploma) and failed restaurateur who supports private ownership of assault rifles, actively opposed laws intended to keep them out of the hands of demonstrably unstable people, and blames the National Institutes of Health and its former Director, Anthony Faucci, for having funded COVID-19.
Boebert is sympathetic to, and supported by, various militias implicated in the January 6th insurrection. She also “hope[s]” QAnon – a loose amalgam of conspiracy theorists united by the belief that Democrats are pedophile sex traffickers – is “real” and considers the 2020 election (which she won but Trump lost) a massive fraud.
Another is Andy Biggs, an election denier who pressured Arizona state officials to circumvent millions of his state’s voters and decertify Arizona’s presidential electors. Former Chair of the so-called Freedom Caucus, Biggs also voted against (i) condemning a military coup in Myanmar (formerly Burma), (ii) coordinating government efforts to help Sub-Saharan nations combat terrorism, (iii) helping 8,000 Afghans who had risked their lives on the ground to help us gain entry into the United States, (iv) providing aid to Ukraine, and (v) Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO. As for oversight – Biggs, while in the minority, sought to impeach our current Secretary of Homeland Defense, Attorney General, and President. But not President Trump. No need. Because for Biggs, January 6th is just another date on the calendar.
A third – Scott Perry – has claimed that China, Britain, and a site located in Italy participated (along with the CIA) in the Big Steal. Even worse, Perry – now charged with government “oversight” – is believed to have played a key role in Trump’s failed attempt to weaponize the Department of Justice by forcing it to falsely issue a statement of concern that the election was fraudulent. I say “believed” because Perry was asked, and declined, to provide information to the January 6th Committee.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Perry voted against (i) condemning the QAnon conspiracy, (ii) condemning the coup in Myanmar, (iii) helping the same 8,000 Afghans referenced above from entering the United States, (iv) documenting and preserving evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, (v) and impeaching Trump for the insurrection. There is also evidence that Perry sought a “pre-emptive” pardon from Trump before Trump was, in effect, dragged out of the White House. Perry is the current Freedom Caucus Chair.
Then there is Anna Pauline Luna. As a freshman member, she has not had much time to reveal herself. Beyond being an election denier who was endorsed by Trump.
Leaving us with Paul Gosar – who, like the rest of this dreadful crew – is an election denier. Indeed, Gosar favorably compared the Stop the Steal debacle to the Alamo. Criticized even among Republicans for being the keynote speaker at a white nationalist conference hosted by a holocaust denier (Nick Fuentes, who recently dined with Trump at Mar-a-Lago), Gosar was stripped of his committee assignments in 2021. No more. Gosar is back.
I suggested earlier that McCarthy worked to buy each of these members of Congress. Were they for sale? You decide.
The past is usually not quite prologue. But history is always “our story,” and something like our current Greek tragedy has been played out before.
One of those plays took place in the late 1650s in Great Britain. I don’t know a lot about Oliver Cromwell, and 1653 is a long time ago. Even so, his words strike me as an uncanny description of our times. Here is some of what Cromwell said to the members of that “rump” Parliament.
“Sitting in this Place, . . . you have dishonoured by your Contempt of all Virtue, and defiled by your Practice of every Vice; Ye are a factious Crew and Enemies of all good Government; Ye are a Pack of mercenary Wretches and would, like Esau, Sell your Country for a Mess of Pottage; . . . Is there a single Virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one Vice that you do not possess? . . . Is there a Man amongst you that has the least care for the Good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes! Have you not defiled this Sacred Place, and turned the Lord’s Temple into a Den of Thieves by your immoral Principles and wicked Practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole Nation. Your Country therefore calls upon me to cleanse the Augean Stable . . . which . . . I now come to do. [D]epart immediately out of this Place; Go! Get out! Make haste, ye Venal Slaves, begone!”
And so they were. Parliament was dissolved.
I do not advocate disbanding what is now left of the Congress. And there is precious little to be gained from shaming this group, who by all indications are shameless. But we do need to be steely eyed in describing the times in which we are living.
How should we describe McCarthy and his sordid coterie of malevolent mediocrities who, when they are finished betraying us, will surely begin betraying each other?
My vote – the Cain Caucus.
It is a shoe that fits. Wear it.