Alert the heavens: Elijah Cummings is coming

Brexit

It’s now about the Democratic Unionist Party’s quest for political power. Yes, really. And because of that,[1] Parliament’s ratification of the deal remains in doubt.[2]

With the DUP refusing to give its backing, there remains serious doubt that the deal will pass through parliament unless Johnson is able to convince both a significant number of Labour MPs and a large chunk of the 21 MPs whose whip as Conservatives was removed last month.

Soon after the agreement was announced, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, rejected it as worse than the deal produced by Johnson’s predecessor in Downing Street, Theresa May.[3]

Daniel Boffey, Jennifer Rankin, and Rowena Mason, “Johnson seeks DUP backing in race against time over Brexit deal,” Guardian, October 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/16/michel-barnier-optimistic-of-deal-after-pm-makes-concessions-on-irish-border

James Rothwell, “DUP’s demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue,” Telegraph, October 16, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/16/dups-demand-veto-deal-brings-talks-standstill-consent-not-customs/

Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin, “Boris Johnson and EU reach Brexit deal without DUP backing,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/boris-johnson-and-eu-reach-brexit-deal-without-dup-backing

Laurence Norman and Max Colchester, “U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-talks-are-dealt-a-blow-as-northern-irish-party-rejects-draft-11571294766


Elijah Cummings

I have marked my own passing through phases of life by the deaths of others: Middle age as celebrities of roughly my parents’ generation have begun to pass on, old age as celebrities of roughly my own generation have begun to pass on.

I don’t believe I particularly express that ineffable quality of soul, at least not very often. B. B. King did and recognized it in others. He talks about that somewhere in the music collection I have curated over decades. I most often recognize soul in the additions I make to that collection when I learn of artists’ passing: Yes, of course, B.B. King, but also Arethra Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder.

Soul is perhaps what I perceived in my grandfather.

I don’t often include obituaries here, let alone of politicians.

I fault Elijah Cummings as I do all politicians, for their belief in and their participation an inherently corrupt and violent system that is incapable of significant progress, particularly as life on earth faces near-term existential challenges.[4] But ironically, it might be Trey Gowdy, following a clash with Cummings in the then Republican-controlled House at the Benghazi hearings, who summed it best:

“It’s not about politics to him; he says what he believes,” [Trey] Gowdy told the Hill newspaper. “And you can tell the ones who are saying it because it was in a memo they got that morning, and you can tell the ones who it’s coming from their soul. And with Mr. Cummings, it’s coming from his soul.”[5]

Whatever our differences, and whatever the solutions may be to the problems we face, we need a lot more soul.

And with Cummings’ passing—he was eight years old than me—the curtain on my own utterly futile and wasted life seems that much closer. I wish I could make it all different.

Jenna Portnoy, “Rep. Elijah Cummings, Democratic leader and regular Trump target, dies at 68,” Washington Post, October 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/17/elijah-cummings-dies-baltimore/


  1. [1]James Rothwell, “DUP’s demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue,” Telegraph, October 16, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/16/dups-demand-veto-deal-brings-talks-standstill-consent-not-customs/
  2. [2]Laurence Norman and Max Colchester, “U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-talks-are-dealt-a-blow-as-northern-irish-party-rejects-draft-11571294766
  3. [3]Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin, “Boris Johnson and EU reach Brexit deal without DUP backing,” Guardian, October 17, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/boris-johnson-and-eu-reach-brexit-deal-without-dup-backing
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 23, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/
  5. [5]Jenna Portnoy, “Rep. Elijah Cummings, Democratic leader and regular Trump target, dies at 68,” Washington Post, October 17, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/17/elijah-cummings-dies-baltimore/

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