Bird Brains in High Places

Bird Brains in High Places

A recent scientific study conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany has proclaimed that roosters, at least Teutonic ones, are smarter than we think. They apparently can recognize their reflection in a mirror, something that human babies start doing between 18 months and two years of age. Some members of our species, however, take longer—or never catch on.

Kudos to roosters for pushing back against that tired old “bird brain” stereotype.

Follow up studies are anticipated on hens and U.S. House and Senate Republicans. When the latter look into the mirror in the morning, before setting out to do the “people’s business,” do they recognize themselves?

Take the newly elected Speaker of the House, far right Rep. Mike Johnson. What does he see in that morning mirror? Does he recognize himself or think Stephen Colbert is in the bathroom with him? The likeness between the two men is striking, as even the left-leaning Mr. Colbert concedes. Wouldn’t the two of them freshening up together be a hoot?

Or does Mr. Johnson see either a Louisiana native primped and primed to do “the people’s business” or simply a partisan hack who, along with his 220 Republican House colleagues, aims to shut the government down on November 18—while continuing to cash his weekly paycheck. Mr. Johnson’s annual reimbursement is $223,500, and our Congressional leaders in Washington would continue to draw their pay while many other government workers, including members of the armed forces, would be tasked with keeping us safe without recompense while the closure lasts.

Or perhaps Mr. Johnson, in a moment of extreme candor, sees himself as being a hapless throttle bottom nestled in the pocket of the oil and gas industry, which has contributed about $240,000 to his campaigns since 2018, according to the watchdog group Open Secrets. The new Speaker is dutifully on record doubting climate science and not accepting that fossil fuels are a primary driver of the well documented warming of the planet. Most Americans don’t receive largess from oil and gas conglomerates, and they disagree with Mr. Johnson on this.

It is worth noting that a recent Pew Research Center study reported that among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters interviewed, 58 percent say the national priority should be the expansion of the production of coal, oil, and natural gas. Conversely, nine out of ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters questioned in the study said that the priority should be developing alternative energy resources.

To be fair, House Republicans are not, of course, roosters or hens—although some have compared their recent internecine struggle to find a leader—it took the GOP flock almost a month—to chickens running around with their heads chopped off.

Whether Mr. Johnson and his feathered friends are up to the task of governing is, at this writing, up in the air.