His fame reached out from shore to shore, he had all he could do and more,
He had to buy a plane to get around;
Now he's the tops in all the land, so let's all give that man a hand,
He's the best of all the auctioneers;
45 dollar 50 now 50 dollar 50 dollar
50 dollar 50 dollar give me a holler 50 dollar
Who will bid it at a 50 dollar bill?
50 dollar 55 55 make it 55 and a 55 make it 55 and
Sold that horse for a 50 dollar bill.


Ever since I attended the Chasetown Auction as a youngster in the 1960s with my dad and his uncle, Chuck McComas, I’ve always admired auctioneers. On a rainy Saturday afternoon this week, my son, Colin, and I watched a tractor and antique automobile auction on one of the satellite stations. We like to guess the ultimate sale price of each vehicle, but we also enjoy listening to the auctioneers.

I still remember the country music song about an auctioneer, called – not surprisingly – “The Auctioneer” and sung by Leroy Van Dyke.)

One of my new favorite members of the United States Congress (mine is a very short list, to be sure) is Rep. Billy Long, a Republican from Missouri, the Show Me State. By the way, Congressman Long is an auctioneer. That little bit of information is no longer a secret.

During a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, a far-out, far-right political activist named Laura Loomer interrupted the hearing with an unscheduled extemporaneous speech.

According to a Washington Post story (they’ll print anything, you know), committee chairman Congressman Greg Walden, R-Ore., tried to gavel down Loomer’s lament. Loomer labored on, God love her. That is, until Congressman Long broke into an impromptu auction call, while “accepting” his imaginary bids. “Thirty dollars now, two and a half, seventy-five, forty. We’re selling the cell phone, there. Four and quarter, four and a half. Sold.

“I yield back.”

Congressman Long has a 30-year history as a real estate broker and the owner of Billy Long Auctions, LLC, in Springfield, Mo. According to his House website, “His experience running a small business gives him a unique understanding of the challenges facing families and small businesses. His top priority in Washington is to stop the irresponsible spending and overreaching of modern-day Washington.”

For his efforts, Congressman Long has earned the Guardian of Small Business award from National Federation of Independent Business.

He also has earned The Highland County Press’ Citizen of the Day Award. (I just made that up and there’s no trophy or gift card associated with this high honor.)

But anyone who can peacefully put down a loudmouthed interloper by conducting an imaginary auction deserves it. Well done, Congressman. And since I do not have a cell phone, would you take two and a half?

Sold.

* * *

It’s too bad Congressman Long didn’t sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week for its hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s impressive nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He could have interrupted Sen. Cory “Spartacus” Booker by auctioning off dates with the wannabe Thracian gladiator (mouse).

“Two hundred dollars; now two and a half, three. Three hundred; now three and a half. We’ve got four, four-fifty, five. Oh, my, we’ve got six, now seven. Do I hear seven-fifty? Seven and a quarter? Seven come eleven. We’ve got seven. Going once, going twice, SOLD! Book your date with Booker at The Red Hen for a $700 campaign contribution.”

Spartacus, my arse.

* * *

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg sheds some much-needed light on Booker’s role on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Here’s what Sen. Booker said when Trump nominated Kavanaugh, an eminently qualified judge who would have been on any Republican’s short-list including, by the way, Sen. John McCain’s.

“‘This has nothing to do with politics but with who we are as moral beings,’ Booker said. ‘I’m here to call on folks to understand that in a moral moment, there is no neutral. In a moral moment, there is [sic] no bystanders. You are either complicit in the evil, you are either contributing to the wrong, or you are fighting against it.’

“I bring up John McCain for a reason,” Goldberg wrote. “We’ve just been through a melancholy riot for the lost world of John McCain, in which every establishment Democrat openly pined for McCain’s style of bipartisanship. Well, that cuts both ways. McCain can’t be a hero for refusing to demonize his opponents, while it’s OK to claim that anyone who disagrees with you about Kavanaugh is complicit in ‘evil.’”

Very good point. Bipartisanship involves the cooperation of two political parties that oppose each other's policies. Liberals love to clamor for it, but are loathe to practice it.

For all of Trump’s many faults, he was right on his nomination last year of now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch, and he is right on his nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.

An American Bar Association committee gave Judge Kavanaugh its highest rating based on his integrity, competence and judicial temperament. The late-night TV comedians won’t mention this, of course. These talking heads are fixated on Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., like Spartacus, another potential Democratic presidential candidate, on her cryptic – and pointless – questioning of Judge Kavanaugh.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination next week, and the full Senate vote is expected before the Supreme Court's term gets under way on Oct. 1.

The senators ought to be sold on Judge Kavanaugh. I’m betting that Rep. Billy Long is.

For all his faults, maybe Trump will restore some constitutional respect from within the Supreme Court – and some respect for the separation of powers. With that, he can ride off into the stormy Sunset Strip.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County’s only locally owned and operated newspaper.

Correction from last week’s column: Last week, I wrote that Rosemary Ryan chaired Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in Highland County in 2000. She did not. But she did support him. She chaired Ken Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006. Sometimes (not often), I misremember.