Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored." Sometimes we search for a topic. Sometimes a topic appears on our plates.
I am greeted today by the feed from my hometown newspaper. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) has died in office. He was 92. No senator in history has served longer.
Those of us with West Virginia ties used to joke that, even after he died, we would elect his corpse to the Senate. As leader of the Appropriations Committee, he steered gazillions of dollars into one of this country's most impoverished states. Pork barrel projects? So be it. West Virignians need to earn a living wage. Without Senator Byrd, this will be more difficult to do.
My dad didn't like Senator Byrd. Dad thought Byrd was arrogant. I didn't particularly care about Senator Byrd's personality. He brought jobs and strong leadership to a state that needed both.
Once, about a decade or so back, I was out driving with my sister and her husband. We passed a humongous construction site, nearly in the middle of nowhere.
I said, "What the heck is that?"
And my brother-in-law said, "It's a new headquarters for the Coast Guard."
I said, "You're kidding me. West Virginia doesn't even have a coastline!"
And my brother-in-law said, "Yes, but it has Robert Byrd."
When people think of West Virginia, they think of coal. And most certainly Robert Byrd was friendly to the coal industry. He wanted the people of his state to have jobs. But imagine for a moment: Today, as you read this, people are working on behalf of the Coast Guard, in West Virginia. These people are making good wages and paying taxes to West Virginia. They live in West Virginia. They buy stuff in West Virginia, which means the state needs stores and people to run them. And a Coast Guard facility isn't going to rip down a mountain.
Yes, yes, Byrd was briefly in the Klan. He was against the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. He later openly regretted both decisions. What dumb thing did you do when you were young that you wish you didn't have to own up to now?
My moment of greatest pride in Robert Byrd came when our former president sent our nation's troops into Iraq for no good reason at all. At a time when many people were still being convinced by the bogus claims of WMD, the pictures of missile sites, all of those BIG FAT LIES, Robert Byrd would have none of it.
The speech below occurred in 2003, when Senator Byrd was well into his eighties. Don't you wish we had listened to him? Me too.
Faeries, please do not yet escort Robert Byrd to the Summerlands. We need his return. If I live to see a U.S. senator described as "Robert Byrd all over again," I will be overjoyed.