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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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And throw away the key

Holy smoke! The solution was right in front of us all the time. Now that our federal government cannot prevent doing things even it knows are ludicrous, the rest of the country just sits and waits for things to fall apart completely. Government not only is broken, it is unable to come up with a plan to fix the problem. So along comes the Catholic Church -- seldom seen as being on the cutting edge -- with its conclave to elect a new pope as the supreme pontiff of more than one billion Catholics.
With all the trappings of a Cecil B. DeMille blockbuster, just watching the elderly church leaders, dressed in red against the monumental backdrop of the Vatican, seems almost quaint. Catholics believe the proceeding, with rituals hardly changed from medieval times, takes place in the presence of the Holy Spirit. And it works. With no TV ads, no sophisticated fundraisers and officially no campaigning, the cardinals remained locked up until finally, with a few puffs of white smoke, they emerged last week with a new pope who will be the unquestioned leader of the church. Think how simple it would be to incorporate a similar approach into the American federal government to get things moving again. Instead of a Sistine Chapel, we could move the entire House and Senate into the Capitol building and seal it off. I mean really seal it off, with no secret cell phones hooked up to Glen Beck. The current conclave in the Vatican is secret enough but I kind of prefer it the way they did it the first time. That was back in January of 1276. Under rules established by Pope Gregory X, cardinals were kept in a secluded area. They didnít even have their own rooms. Food was supplied through a window. After meeting for three days with no results, the meals were cut to one a day. If they didnít make a decision after five days, all the cardinals could expect was bread and water. I donít suppose this is something that would work all the time. But on those big issues, such as the fiscal cliff and sequestration, where neither side is willing to do anything, I say lock Ďem up until they do. Ensure that it is done right. There canít be any smart phones, cable TV, internet service or other contact outside the building until Congress has voted a bill into law, passed a budget or done something else constructive. As soon as positive action is taken, white smoke will come out of the Capitol dome, and emergency workers will be allowed to rush in with laptops set to Twitter or prepared speeches touting the sacrifices senators and representatives have made for their constituents. As itís all done in secret nobody knows what really went on; and if we get results, who cares?

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