Gary Horton | Republican Radicals Burn Down the House

Gary Horton

Two Friday nights ago, Carrie and I celebrated her 29th birthday with a surprise movie over at the Edwards followed by dinner at Larsons. A nice, easy, local birthday celebration. We’ve been married a long 44 years now, so birthdays come and go, and we didn’t want to drive all over L.A. just for one more 29th. There will always be more … 

The surprise were tickets to the newly released IMAX version of the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” concert, filmed 40 years ago in L.A. We got to see the movie right here in the Santa Clarita Valley at the Regal Theatre without that long trip to L.A. mentioned above. The Talking Heads, here in the SCV. “That was easy …” 

This incredible concert ends with the Talking Heads’ keynote song, “Burning Down the House.”  


Watch out, you might get what you’re after 

Cool, babies – strange but not a stranger 

I’m an ordinary guy 

Burning down the house! 

“Burning Down the House” is a super-catchy song with incredible drum riffs. But while it’s a great song and everyone loved it, it turns out what’s inside, the lyrics, were just silliness. In fact, the lyrics were written after the music was originally recorded! All that drum beating and jumping up and down and running all around … just silliness for a silly-lyric song. It’s a song about nothing … 

But still, the words, “burning down the house!” have vivid visuals, and so the nothingness grabs our attention and gets us going and keeps us there.  

In Congress, burning down stuff also grabs our attention and keeps us there. Nearly everything out of the House recently has been artificially created with unnecessary drama: scary words and actions drumming up the base and staying on top of the headline news. For the past two months, you and I and businesses and government workers have all been getting stressed out and rung out from yet another Republican-threatened government shutdown. 

A Reuters headline late last week: “Republicans reject own funding bill, U.S. government shutdown imminent.” 

A Freedom Caucus and friends coalition has been threatening to burn down our house, holding the nation’s funding and functioning hostage unless this extremely small, reactionary wing of Republicanism gets its way. Yes, influential elements of our very own government publicly threatening to shut it all off, burn it all down, purposefully harming the entire country, to blackmail their way. They learned from Donald Trump’s now infamous blackmail call to Volodomyr Zelensky. “Nice nation you’ve got here. Would be a shame if it got shut down.” America got dragged through all that with Trump and now we’re getting dragged though this the most radical of MAGA people. 

Loud sideshow to the main shutdown attraction is super-crazy Matt Gaetz’s threat to remove Kevin McCarthy as House speaker if McCarthy dared cooperate with Democrats to pass even a temporary funding measure. 

McCarthy took him on, and the resolution did pass with required Democratic support. McCarthy commented about his position, “If you have members in your conference that won’t let you vote for appropriation bills, [don’t] want an omnibus and won’t vote for a stopgap measure, so the only answer is to shut down and not pay our troops: I don’t want to be a part of that team.”  

Some wonder how McCarthy temporarily grew a spine to save our skin over his. 

But just as Matt Gaetz threatened, at this moment of writing, the website headlines, “GAVEL UNRAVELS: Lawmakers debate as House barrels towards historic vote to oust Speaker McCarthy.” 

Here we go again. More frivolous Republican drama, egged on by Trump himself. We’ll see if Gaetz’s terrorist band can make good on threats and oust McCarthy to further throw our government again into chaos…  

But either way – the bipartisan funding extension only lasts 45 days, so Thanksgiving may be more Groundhog Day than Thanksgiving Day, and you and me and the whole nation will again get stressed out, wrung out, and hung out by another Republican-threatened government shutdown. Happy Thanksgiving: Watch our international credit rating crash. Experience shut-down services. Punted paychecks for federal workers and families. Real hurt purposefully blackmailed against real Americans. In short, more “Burning Down the House,” but without the great music.  

Basic governing shouldn’t be this hard. 

Rep. Mike Garcia understands this. It’s nice to say Garcia voted on the good side of continuing funding and supporting Kevin McCarthy. Mike knows in the SCV we’re all busy trying to raise families, hold down jobs, stay healthy, mow the lawn and all the rest of life and we don’t have time for avoidable governmental drama and worse – threats – in our lives. Thank you Mike, for not burning down our house this time. 

But Mike, regardless, this just in: Major news sites now headline, “Keven McCarthy Ousted as Speaker.”  

Here we go … more burning in the House. Verse two of the song reads: 

Hold tight, wait till the party’s over 

Hold tight, we’re in for nasty weather 

There has got to be a way 

Burning down the house 

The words are prescient. Indeed, we’re in for nasty weather, and for sure, “there has got to be a way.” There just must be. But for now, more drama and uncertainty. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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