The Chaos Caucus

The House of Representatives continues to be a national disgrace. Rep. Jim Jordan, an odious troll who has accomplished nothing in 16 years of public office, is trying to get himself elected as Speaker of the House. As of the date of this post he has gone through two rounds of voting and has lost ground in the second. As Tom Nichols writes in The Atlantic, this mess is exactly what GOP voters wanted all along. The GOP electorate does not give a damn about actually governing the country. It is all about “owning the libs” these days, which generally means spreading deranged conspiracy theories on Fox News or OANN. There is no GOP theory of governance, there is no GOP policy agenda, there is only the grift.

Meanwhile, the Russians continue to occupy a significant chunk of Ukraine as the Ukrainian people continue to bravely and deftly fight back. The situation in Gaza remains unstable as it appears that the destruction of a Gaza hospital was caused by an errant rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Here in the United States, the government will shut down in a month unless Congress can get its shit together and do its job.

In other words, the country needs leadership. The GOP is not offering it. Jim Jordan is a joke, a waste of a Congressional seat, and not remotely the sort of person who belongs in political power.

The GOP has become the Chaos Caucus. Drama leads to fundraising and news hits, and that’s all the modern GOP gives a damn about. Meanwhile, President Biden went to Israel and negotiated a deal with Egypt allowing some humanitarian aid to cross into Gaza through the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. While the GOP was fighting amongst each other like a bunch of schoolchildren that found a crate of Pixy Stix, President Biden was saving the lives of Gazans while also ensuring aid to Israel to fight Hamas.

As a former Republican, seeing the GOP in this state is horrible. The country needs two functioning political parties. Right now, it has one. Voters are noticing that President Biden is getting things done and the GOP is unable to find its own ass with a roadmap and a flashlight. And while the GOP base is never going to leave, the GOP base is not enough to win national elections as we saw in 2020 and again in 2022. Even districts like CO-3 that is “represented” by the Platonic ideal of white trash Lauren Boebert are now likely swing districts. (Boebert only barely held on in 2022 and that was before the most politically disastrous night at the theater since the Lincolns went to see My American Cousin.)

The time to show real leadership is now. The GOP cannot even select a leader amongst themselves, and the frontrunner for the job is a hysterical idiot whose only accomplishment has been in covering up rampant sexual abuse. To paraphrase Reagan, it is a time for choosing. The GOP has chosen poorly, and that was very much a conscious choice by an electorate that wants this chaos.


Jim Jordan is about to announce that he will not seek a third vote and will move to give powers to the current Speaker pro term Patrick McHenry. Whether that is allowable under House rules is unclear, but what is clear is that Jordan does not have the votes to become Speaker and never will. Jordan is not formally dropping his bid for Speaker, but the chances of it going anywhere are slim to none.

The Fall of Kevin McCarthy

For the first time in American history, the House of Representatives have kicked out the Speaker of the House, as Kevin McCarthy lost a vote to keep his office 216-210.

McCarthy sold his soul for power, and lost both in the process.

Now the GOP owns this chaos, despite increasingly desperate attempts to pin this all on the Democrats. It is a testament to just how screwed up the GOP is that the former President of the United States being put under a gag order to stop threatening the clerk of the judge in his civil case is not even the biggest and most damning story of the day. The GOP is simply a party that cannot govern because it does not want to govern. The entire nervous system of the GOP is based on getting approval from the radicalized right-wing media ecosystem which requires constant performative assholery. That is why the first thing that the interim Speaker did was kick Rep. Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats out of their offices. It is all about what generates clicks and fundraising dollars. The process of governing the country is not even a consideration.

Ultimately, the reason why Kevin McCarthy lost his job was because he decided for one moment to do his job instead of throw chum into the wide-open maw of the right-wing rage machine. By working with Democrats on a continuing resolution that kept the government running McCarthy committed the one unforgivable sin in the GOP world: not putting the grift ahead of everything else.

Sadly, whatever poor sap that ends up replacing McCarthy will no doubt have learned their lesson: that to “lead” today’s GOP requires commitment to the grift above everything else, Actually governing is a fatal error. This is the way for the nihilism of today’s hollowed-out shell of the GOP. And this is ultimately why the GOP has to be completely destroyed as a viable party before there can be a responsible and mature conservative party in this country again.

Leviathan Unchained

Harold Meyerson, writing in The American Prospect argues that Americans are “hypocrites” because we dislike regulations in general, but like specific regulations:

Last Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a survey that revealed what Pew termed “Mixed Views of Government Regulation.” But “mixed,” in this case, means anti-regulatory in matters of ideology and pro-regulatory in practice. Asked whether they believed that government regulation of business was necessary to protect the public or that such regulation usually does more harm than good, just 40 percent answered that regulation was necessary, while 52 percent said it did more harm than good.

But then came the specifics. Pew asked whether federal regulations should be strengthened, kept as is, or reduced in particular areas. When it came to food production and packaging, 53 percent said strengthen, 36 percent said keep as is, and just 7 percent said reduce. In environmental safeguards, the breakdown was 50 percent strengthen, 36 percent keep as is, 17 percent reduce. In car safety and efficiency, the split was 45, 42, and 9 percent. In workplace safety and health, it was 41, 45, and 10 percent. And with prescription drugs, it was 39, 33, and 20 percent.

This is hardly a new discovery—public opinion polls have shown similar results for decades. In general, Americans dislike government regulations, but they want stronger regulations in specific areas.

The Overreaches of the Regulatory State

Meyerson thinks that this is hypocrisy and that Americans are “in denial.” Meyerson misses the point:
when Americans are directly effected by regulations, they oppose them. But it’s easy for Americans to want those “other guys” to be regulated. And in fact, the numbers are not that heavily weighted towards more regulation. A plurality thinks that there’s too much regulation, a slightly larger plurality thinks that there are two little. A smaller plurality thinks that the amount of regulations are fine the way they are. Together, the number of people who want fewer regulations or the status quo outnumber those who want to expand the regulatory state.

And as the regulatory state grows and the state and federal level, we will likely see the number of people wanting to roll back government regulation rise. Take these examples:

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.

Imagine what will happen when something like that becomes commonplace. It’s one thing for a government regulator to go after “big corporations” with stupid and destructive regulations. But the second those stupid and destructive regulations effect the average American, it will be time to break out the tar and feathers.

And the school-lunch police aren’t the only example of regulatory insanity going on in America today.As one Nevada farmer found out, the regulatory state doesn’t give a damn about common sense or your rights:

I can’t tell you how sick to my stomach I was watching that first dish of Mint Lamb Meatballs hit the bottom of the unsanitized trash can. Here we were with guests who had paid in advance and had come from long distances away anticipating a wonderful dining experience, waiting for dinner while we were behind the kitchen curtain throwing it away! I know of the hours and labor that went into the preparation of that food. We asked the inspector if we could save the food for a private family event that we were having the next day. (A personal family choice to use our own food.) We were denied and she was insulted that we would even consider endangering our families health. I assured her that I had complete faith and trust in Giovanni our chef and the food that was prepared, (obviously, or I wouldn’t be wanting to serve it to our guests).

I then asked if we couldn’t feed the food to our “public guests” or even to our private family, then at least let us feed it to our pigs. (I think it should be a criminal action to waste any resource of the land. Being dedicated to our organic farm, we are forever looking for good inputs into our compost and soil and good food that can be fed to our animals. The animals and compost pile always get our left over garden surplus and food. We truly are trying to be as sustainable as possible.) Again, a call to Susan and another negative response. Okay, so let me get this right. So the food that was raised here on our farm and selected and gathered from familiar local sources, cooked and prepared with skill and love was even unfit to feed to my pigs!?! Who gave them the right to tell me what I feed my animals? Not only were we denied the use of the food for any purpose, to ensure that it truly was unfit for feed of any kind we were again threatened with police action if we did not only throw the food in the trash, but then to add insult to injury, we were ordered to pour bleach on it.

There was nothing wrong with the food, other than it didn’t meet the purely bureaucratic whims of the health inspector. And this wasn’t one deranged idiot going off on a whim: the state health inspector was constantly on the phone with her superior, who not only ratified each decision, but was apparently calling the shots.

This is the face of government regulation in America: it’s not about protecting people, it’s about power and control. Was the state protecting that elementary school student from anything? No, the options she was later given were worse than what her parents had packed. Was there any danger to the guests of that Nevada farmer? No, but because the government doesn’t want any deviation from their narrow rules, they acted like tinpot dictators and made the farmers throw away the food and pour bleach on it.

In a sane world, the people responsible for those decisions would be fired immediately. But this is not a sane world. It’s a world where too much power has been abdicated, too much common sense abandoned, and too much authority ceded ever upwards. And that is why Americans hate regulation—and as more Americans experience this kind of rampant idiocy, the number of Americans who see the regulatory state as the enemy will only increase.

And when Americans say that there are too many regulations on small business, they are absolutely right. Take for example what happened to a small business trying to operate a beer garden in Arlington, Virginia. Government bureaucrats at the local level are ofter just as rapacious and just as foolhardy as their compatriots on the state and federal level. For another example, watch this video outlining the many needless hurdles a small business owner has to go through to open an ice cream parlor in San Francisco.

We talk about how important it is to foster the growth of small businesses and how critical it is to get Americans working again. But as the above examples demonstrate, our system of massive government overregulation costs jobs and takes thousands of dollars out of the economy and into the hands of the government apparatchiks who administer this maddening system.

So yes, it’s easy for the average American to say that someone else should be regulated—given that the media has turned big corporations into mustache-twirling villains at every opportunity it’s no wonder that a plurality support more regulation. But when Americans look at the issue of regulation holistically, they see the reality that regulations hurt more people than they protect.

Meyerson thinks that the problem with America is that government isn’t powerful enough. But a government powerful enough to make BP, GE, or any other company do whatever government wants is a government that is powerful enough to make you do whatever government wants. And that doesn’t even get into a discussion of regulatory capture. Big business doesn’t hate government regulation—they’ve learned to use it as a cudgel to beat down competition before they can rise up to challenge the established players. That beer garden in Virginia can’t afford an army of lawyers and lobbyists to negotiate with the regulators—but a chain restaurant can. What is the result of this nonsensical regulatory overreach? Fewer small business and more powerful big ones.

American’s aren’t hypocrits—at least not in the way Meyerson accuses them of being. Rather, Americans need to understand that the same sort of regulatory insanity that causes schoolchildren to be given chicken nuggets or farmers to have to throw away perfectly good food is no less idiotic and no less harmful when it’s applied to big corporations.

Capping Prosperity, Trading It For Poverty

As the media fixates on the death of Michael Jackson, Congress stands ready to enact the largest and most regressive tax hike in history in the guise of “cap-and-trade.” Jim Lindgren explains why this bill is so dangerous:

The cap-and-trade bill, if passed by the Senate and actually implemented over the next few decades, would do more damage to the country than any economic legislation passed in at least 100 years. It would eventually send most American manufacturing jobs overseas, reduce American competitiveness, and make Americans much poorer than they would have been without it.

The cap-and-trade bill will have little, if any, positive effect on the environment — in part because the countries that would take jobs from US industries tend to be bigger polluters. By making the US — and the world — poorer, it would probably reduce the world’s ability to develop technologies that might solve its environmental problems in the future.

Cap-and-trade is a joke—it is a policy that has already failed in Europe and in virtually guaranteed to fail here in the United States. By giving in to the demands of radical environmentalists, Congress is preparing to take our current recession and plunge it into depression.

As the media focuses once again on celebrity, the advent of the next Great Depression comes closer. Cap-and-trade is terrible policy enacted for foolish reasons, and we will all pay the price for it if we allow it to pass.

ABC – State-Run Television

Sheldon Alberts has a good editorial on ABC’s decision to become a propaganda organ for the White House tonight:

At the president’s invitation, ABC News anchors Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer will host a prime time town hall-style meeting from the White House during which Obama – and Obama alone – will answer audience and viewers’ questions about efforts to cover 50 million Americans without health care insurance.

Talk about a bully pulpit for Obama to sell his proposal for the creation of a government-run public health insurance plan.
ABC News’ packaging of the health care special also includes a Good Morning America “exclusive” interview with the President on Wednesday morning, a live broadcast of ABC World News from the White House, a full edition of ABC’s Nightline devoted to the issue, an ABC News webcast and an ABC Radio special.

ABC is essentially become a journalistic whore—giving away their credibility in favor of access to their master’s house. Tonight’s programming will be little more than propaganda, despite ABC’s weak promises that they’ll be critical of Obama’s plans, they have not given any airtime for any dissenting voices to Obama’s attempts to “reform” health care.

In short, ABC has decided to become a political propaganda network for the White House. Not only is this blatantly against the “watchdog” role of the press, it also violates the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. That Code requires journalists to “[a]void conflicts of interest, real or perceived.” Here, ABC is trading objectivity for access, but even if they are not, the fact that not a single voice will be given time is more than enough to “perceive” a conflict of interest. The Code demands that journalists “[r]efuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.” Here, ABC is compromising their journalistic integrity in order to curry favor with the Obama White House and gain access to the administration. One could go one, but the point has been made: what ABC is doing is a violation of professional ethics.

It is ironic that a party that has called for a “fairness doctrine” to promote “balance” on the airwaves and criticizes other networks for being “biased” seems to be silent as ABC refuses to give equal time. It only exposes the hypocrisy of those who would censor talk radio to prevent dissenting voices from having a bully pulpit.

This sort of thing should not happen in a free society: and that this is not the product of government coercion is even more distressing. It is one thing to become a slavish propaganda organ for the ruling clique at the barrel of a gun—but that ABC will prostrate themselves of their own volition is even more disgusting.

ABC has no objectivity. They have allowed themselves to become an uncritical propaganda organ for the Obama Administration and should be treated with the same critical eye as one would treat any other state-run propaganda outlet.

Liar, Liar, Pantsuit On Fire

Charles Krauthammer has a typically great column on the ongoing debate over “torture” after Nancy Pelosi’s denial that she knew anything about waterboarding. Pelosi, assuming that the liberal press would cover for her, has now gotten caught up in a web of her own lies. So much so that the press has the scent of blood in the water:

Rep. Pelosi has ended up making a laughingstock of herself—her desperate attempts to backpedal from her own words are Clintonian in audacity without the skill of Slick Willy. Even the mainstream press has caught on.

Krauthammer puts the political impact of all this succinctly:

The reason Pelosi raised no objection to waterboarding at the time, the reason the American people (who by 2004 knew what was going on) strongly reelected the man who ordered these interrogations, is not because she and the rest of the American people suffered a years-long moral psychosis from which they have just now awoken. It is because at that time they were aware of the existing conditions — our blindness to al-Qaeda’s plans, the urgency of the threat, the magnitude of the suffering that might be caused by a second 9/11, the likelihood that the interrogation would extract intelligence that President Obama’s own director of national intelligence now tells us was indeed “high-value information” — and concluded that on balance it was a reasonable response to a terrible threat.

And they were right.

In the end, that’s correct. The “torture” issue will never have legs because the average American doesn’t share the sense of moral outrage that some have over that issue. In war, bad things happen. People get killed. Killing is a moral wrong, yet it is part of the nature of warfare. In the same vein, a practice like waterboarding may be credibly called torture, and torture is a moral wrong. Yet it is also a part of war. Pelosi doesn’t care about the morality of torture, she wants to score political points for partisan reasons. Some have a legitimate, rational, and moral objection to these practices, but they are a distinct minority.

In the end, Pelosi’s dissembling masks the real issue here. Waterboarding someone who was directly responsible for the inhuman September 11 atrocity is morally and politically different than the mistreatment of detainees. The abuses of Abu Ghraib and others are examples of acts that harm America’s reputation and dishonor our military. Yet the focus is not on those acts, but on the waterboarding issue. Were this a moral rather than a political issue, detainee abuse would be placed in its full context, rather than being used as a truncheon against the Bush Administration.

Pelosi’s lies are political in nature, just like this whole attempt at a partisan witch-hunt. Even for those who legitimately and truly oppose torture, tying their wagons to such a despicably partisan crusade only undercuts the seriousness of their position. If the anti-torture campaign will be spearheaded by outright liars like Rep. Pelosi, it will never be taken seriously.

Some People Just Don’t Get It

Bill Maher flaunts his ignorance once again over the issue of the Tea Party protests. Like many who live in a comfortable cocoon of left-wing orthodoxy, Maher fails to understand that the reaction to the Obama Administration is about matters of substance. Maher rants:

t’s been a week now, and I still don’t know what those “tea bag” protests were about. I saw signs protesting abortion, illegal immigrants, the bank bailout and that gay guy who’s going to win “American Idol.” But it wasn’t tax day that made them crazy; it was election day. Because that’s when Republicans became what they fear most: a minority.

The conservative base is absolutely apoplectic because, because … well, nobody knows. They’re mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. Even though they’re not quite sure what “it” is. But they know they’re fed up with “it,” and that “it” has got to stop.

Here are the big issues for normal people: the war, the economy, the environment, mending fences with our enemies and allies, and the rule of law.

Mr. Maher, here is what “it” is, in a way that even you can understand:


This is what President Obama is doing to this country. Former President Bush was fiscally irresponsible enough, but what Obama is doing is sheer madness. Trying to use government to fix the economy will not work. The bailouts are failing. The housing market is still in the toilet. Lenders are still holding back. If that isn’t a reason to be worried about the future, then it is time to pull your head out of the sand and look at the numbers.

When it was politically convenient, liberals pretended to care about the effect of massive deficits on the future of America. Now that Obama is in office, who cares about a few trillion here or there?

The Tea Party movement is not a partisan movement. There is great anger at the GOP for not leading on the issues of our time and allowing government to grow out of control during their tenure in office. This is a protest based on principles: in fact, it is a protest based on the classically republican principles that the United States should have a limited federal government of enumerated powers.

Maher, like many, think that just because Obama won an election, that means his policies are 1) popular and 2) right for the country. Neither are true. Winning an election doesn’t vindicate your policy prescriptions now any more than it did in 2004. Obama’s ham-handed handling of the economy, his Quixotic campaign against the Bush Administration on torture, and his constant prostrations before America’s enemies from Iran to Venezuela all demonstrate how radical he truly is. His popularity is being supported by a fawning media and a public that is hardly paying attention. Obama’s gotten the same honeymoon that most new Presidents get. But in time, his star will fade, as all Presidents do.

When that happens, the arrogance of Mr. Maher may come back to bite him. Politics in America is cyclical, and given the radical course that President Obama has set for this country, it may well be the Tea Parties that get the last laugh.

The GOP Needs an Enema

Sen. Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens has been indicted for failing to report over $250,000 in gifts.

Sen. Stevens is a national disgrace, and I join with the editors of National Review in calling for him to resign immediately. Furthermore, Sen. McCain should disavow himself from Sen. Stevens and his brand of “scratch my back” politics. For the good of the Republican Party, and more importantly the good of the Republic, Sen. Ted Stevens should leave the Senate.

Sen. Stevens represents the very worst of the American political system. He not only demonstrated an astonishing lack of education on the issues he was trying to legislate with his “series of tubes” harangue, but he has squandered taxpayer money on boondoggles like the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

The American people have little faith in Congress, and for good reason. If the GOP is to be the party it should be, it cannot allow its members to continue to disrespect the values of our party. Limited government and fiscal discipline requires personal discipline on the part of our elected officials. Good government requires a willingness to put principle ahead of party loyalty.

Sen. Stevens has continually broken his trust with the American people. He should resign. The Republican Party’s brand is tarnished because our leadership continues to behave in a manner that betrays our principles. If they are unwilling to embrace a true commitment to political reform and an end to the corruption that plagues Washington, then they will sow the seeds of electoral defeat.

Obama: The Surge Was A Failure, Let’s Do Another

Sen. (not President, despite the way he is carrying his campaign) Obama’s position on the surge still does not make a great deal of sense. As with everything Obama says or does, what really matters is not consistency, logic, or good policy, but cheap politics.

First, Obama can’t deny that the surge has produced results. It clearly has. The violence in “unwinnable” Iraq is now down, and the gains that have been made are finally on a solid foundation.

What did Sen. Obama say about the surge?

We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality, uh, we can send 15,000 more troops; 20,000 more troops; 30,000 more troops. Uh, I don’t know any, uh, expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to, uh, privately that believes that that is gonna make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.

He also made this remark:

I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

That was January of 2007. Later that year, Obama said this:

Here’s what we know. The surge has not worked. And they said today, ‘Well, even in September, we’re going to need more time.’ So we’re going to kick this can all the way down to the next president, under the president’s plan.

There’s no doubt that throughout 2007, when Sen. McCain was risking his political future in supporting the surge, Sen. Obama held the position that the surge would not, and could not, work. Now Obama has had to scramble away from that position in recent days. His position that even knowing what he knows now, he would not support the surge is preposterous—and by his own words is based on his dislike of Bush rather than substantive reasoning.

His statement to ABC News’ Terry Moran was that he would still be against the surge because “we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one I just disagreed with” is childish. His argument is that since he disagrees with Bush, he would do the opposite of what Bush did even if what Bush did was actually effective. It is tempting to remind Sen. Obama that Bush was elected President in the hope that he’d drop out of the race and spare us from more of his endless political vanity.

There is a reason why the surge worked. It worked because security is absolutely necessary for political compromise. The Sunnis and Sh’ia could never make political concessions when they had every reason to fear each other. You can’t have political compromise when the parties are trying to kill each other. That such a concept is radical to some is a little distressing and shows how political rhetoric has become so divorced from thinking about the real world. The surge worked because it helped restore order. Obama’s plan would have failed because it would have put the cart before the horse in terms. Pushing for political compromise would have been foolish when the Sh’ia feared al-Qaeda and the Sunnis feared the Sadrists. People don’t tend to make deals with people that they think are going to kill them.

If logic isn’t enough, that Obama is endorsing a virtual replay of the surge in Afghanistan should make it clear. To be fair, Afghanistan is not quite like Iraq. It has never been a truly “modern” country, and while it has had moments of peace, for most of its history it has been a place wracked with violent conflict. Obama’s strategy of replaying the surge in Afghanistan is probably the right call, but there is no reason to believe that Afghanistan is truly the central front in this war. Al-Qaeda isn’t in Afghanistan, they are hiding next door in Pakistan, where we cannot go.

If the surge supposedly didn’t really do the job in Iraq, why should it work in Afghanistan? The Afghan government is weaker than Al-Maliki’s. President Karzai has little effective control outside Kabul, and there’s no reason for many of the distant tribes outside the cities to submit to him. Afghanistan is a tribal state, not a democracy, and it will be generations (if not longer) before that will change. Defeating the Taliban is a good thing, but that doesn’t help us fight al-Qaeda, which is a different group entirely.

Don’t expect answers from the Obama camp. More vague platitudes about “hope” and “change” are enough to pack in the throngs of admirers, and that’s all he will deliver. With Obama, style and ambition continue to trump substance, and like Bill Clinton what matters is not what the best policy is, but what does the most to stroke the ego of the candidate. That kind of feckless egotism was fatal to American interests throughout the 1990 as al-Qaeda metastasized, Pakistan got the bomb, and America’s enemies saw us as a venal paper tiger. They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. A President who fails to learn from history can doom us all.