A House Divided


The announcement of Speaker Boehner’s sudden retirement has mostly been met with joy, and I am not sorry to see him go. But we should temper our enthusiasm about how radical a change will come with a new speaker.

The reality of the House, in my opinion, is that it is not made up of two parties. It is made up of three.

The Francis Effect


shutterstock_313976906According to a comprehensive Pew poll, since Francis became the supreme pontiff, the number of Catholics in this country has remained unchanged, the rate at which Catholics attend mass has remained unchanged, and the rates at which Catholics go to confession or participate in volunteer activities in their churches and communities has remained … unchanged.

In view of all this, Mollie Hemingway on the Pope’s visit:

It’s wonderful that some people say that Francis makes them feel the church is more welcoming to them. But if it’s just making people feel more comfortable in their politics, instead of making them feel the comfort of absolution, communion and strengthening of faith, that’s not much to get excited about.

The Establishment on the Rocks


shutterstock_304544159The base is done with The Establishment. They’ve had it with the same tired, compromised, money-soaked power-brokers who feel entitled to votes and they’re looking for someone to shake things up and send a message. Yes, it seems New Hampshire Democrats are fed up:

It is part of Mrs. Clinton’s play to win New Hampshire, which is shaping up to be a vital state for the candidate once seen as the inevitable 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. With Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders drawing close in Iowa, and Vice President Joe Biden weighing a South Carolina launch pad, New Hampshire may wind up as critical to Mrs. Clinton’s path to her party’s nomination.

New Hampshire turned her husband into the self-declared “comeback kid” in 1992 after a second-place finish, and it revived then-New York Sen. Clinton’s 2008 run after a loss to Barack Obama in Iowa. Now, the Clinton campaign is trying to win it again by closing the gap with Mr. Sanders, who has moved ahead in polls. While Mrs. Clinton still leads in Iowa, neither she nor her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has prevailed in the caucuses when there was a competitive race.

Jay Nordlinger is that most valued sort of journalist: a true intellectual. Not only does he cover politics as the Senior Editor of National Review, he’s also a fine music critic.

Nordlinger has a curiosity that lends itself well to writing books. He recently asked himself what might have become of the children of some of history’s most devilish dictators. That question has produced great fruit in the form of his latest, Children of Monsters. Some of the offspring of these mass murderers turned their back on the family business, while others happily towed the line and became maniacal outliers in their own right.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review discuss the sudden resignation of House Speaker John Boehner and his successes and failures during his time as GOP House leader.  They also slam the eight Senate Republicans who refused to back a continuing resolution calling for an end to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.  And they unload on Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for suggesting Marco Rubio was being insensitive to Jews by holding a fundraiser in the home of a Texas man who collects many historical artifacts, including some from Nazi Germany.

On Government Shutdowns, Let’s Take Our Own Side



The president of the United States is not going to [defund Planned Parenthood, and all we’re going do is shut the government down … The American people are gonna shake their heads and say, “What’s the story with these Republicans?” … There are ways to do it without having to shut the government down, but I’m sympathetic to the fact that we don’t want this organization to get funding, and the money ought to be reprogrammed for family planning in other organizations that don’t support this tactic. But I would not be for shutting the government down …because I don’t think it’s going to work out.

That’s what John Kasich said during last week’s Republican debate and Karl Rove said something similar this morning in The Wall Street Journal. Honest people can disagree on whether a “shutdown” strategy is a good idea or not, but we need to be truthful and accurate about how this works: Republicans can’t shut down the government; Congress can’t shut down the government; Only the president can shut down the government.

Breaking: Speaker Boehner to Resign Oct 30


640px-John_BoehnerVia the NYT:

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner will resign from Congress and give up his House seat at the end of October, according to aides in his office. Mr. Boehner was under extreme pressure from the right wing of his conference over whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood in a bill to keep the government open.

Update 10:38 ET: Live stream here:

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The Union-Leader reports today that Socialist Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has a sizable lead over Hillary Clinton in a University of New Hampshire poll of Granite State Democratic primary voters. Sanders receives 46%, while Clinton trails at a distant 30%, down from around 65% at the start of this year. Preview Open

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No Country For Old Men


TrumpOldRepublicans have youth on their side. That’s one of the many arguments offered for why the GOP may have a bit of an advantage in the next presidential election cycle. For the past quarter-century, we’ve abjured sexagenarian (stop laughing!) commanders-in-chief. Bill Clinton was 46 when he took the oath of office. George W. Bush was 54. Barack Obama was 47. There definitely seems to be a sweet spot.

Now compare the two presidential fields. Let us assume for a moment — “assume” understood here as “acknowledge the obvious reality” — that there are only three major potential candidates on the Democratic side: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden. Average age of that group? 71.

Now consider the Republican field. While there are plenty of entrants in their 60s (given the size of this field, there are plenty of entrants from every demographic), there is also a surplus of youth. Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and the recently departed Scott Walker are all in their 40s. Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Rick Santorum are in their 50s.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review react to reports that State Department employees are tired of Hillary Clinton blaming her email scandal on them.  They also scratch their heads as liberal columnist Frank Rich says Republicans are supporting Ben Carson’s comments in opposition to a Muslim president because they’re racist and bigoted.  And Donald Trump is now waging fights against Fox News, Club for Growth and National Review Editor Rich Lowry.

Content of third martini includes terminology some may find uncomfortable but is unavoidable in covering the story.

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About a month ago Reddit users were clamoring and praising the fact that Bernie Sanders has reached 1 million Facebook likes. It worried me because I knew Clinton wasn’t doing so hot and this Socialist was gaining traction. However, a few days ago Ben Carson had a Facebook post highlighting the fact that he had […]

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Jeb Bush Vows to Slash the Regulatory State. Nicely. Sort of.


Jeb Bush is back in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages this morning, explaining “How I’ll Slash the Regulation Tax.” Similar to his tax plan, there’s both rhetoric here to warm a conservative’s heart — whatever that means — and details that demonstrate how Bush simply doesn’t get the the expectations of the right wing of what should be his base (disclosure: I am a card-carrying member of the far right wing of what should be his base).

Corporate Climbers and the GOP Establishment


shutterstock_55052476In a small organization, everybody cares about now it is doing. After all, it cuts their paycheck, so all the employees have a direct incentive to care for it. But the bigger an organization becomes — and this is equally true whether it is private or public — the less important its immediate survival becomes to each employee. Its continuity and health is more and more taken for granted as the prospects of bankruptcy become ever more remote. Instead, what looms larger and larger in everybody’s mind is their individual place in its hierarchy. It is much more lucrative to be an executive in a large ailing company, than to floor sweeper at a corporate success story.

This leads inevitably to the flourishing of a particular type of creature: the corporate climber. This person doesn’t give a whit about how the outfit he works for is doing, but is solely focused on the next rung in the org chart. The proliferation of corporate climbers is a problem for all organizations that are successful for too long. The danger is magnified because the company can do well for a long time – coasting on its laurels – before the moral rot becomes apparent. Unfortunately, often by the time it is noticeable, not only will the CEO have become a self-interested striver, but also was the man he replaced, and the man that man replaced.

The best example of this is Rick Wagoner, the former CEO of General Motors. He ran the company from 2000 until its bankruptcy nine years later. In 2007 – the year before bankruptcy — his salary was $1.5 million, with a total compensation of $14.4 million. After the company failed, he retired with an exit package worth $10 million. In other words, if the rot is deep enough, it doesn’t even matter if the organization fails completely; the man most responsible for its failure will still draw generous benefits.

Why Have the Governors Stopped Campaigning?


Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.12.48 AMWalker has now joined Perry in dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination. And yet, not a single vote has been cast. Not even a notoriously bad-at-predicting-the-final-outcome early primary vote, nor a single caucus. We’ve had a couple of debates that everyone agrees are meaningless to any final result, and there has been a constant drum beat of polls that could mean anything, and about which no one has any tested theory to predict the nomination in many months’ time. But nothing has actually been decided, or is decidable at this point.

Can someone please explain the mechanism by which these serious and intelligent men — surrounded by the best political consultants money can buy and, more importantly, by other sober and intelligent people — have, in the absence of any plausible evidence as to the likely outcome, decided to stand down?

Image Credits: “Gov. Perry CPAC February 2015” by Gage Skidmore . Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons and “Scott Walker AZ Chamber of Commerce 2015” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Flyover 42 – Soto Returns!


Frank Soto joins us this week; pessimistic about the pope, optimistic about conservatives’ political future. Is Marco Rubio out of the race? We’re done talking about Trump, and — given the prescience of Flyover Country — let us simply assume that this is the start of something. Speaking of which, Rob Long points out an article in which Newsmax declares Flyover Country to be the #1 conservative podcast in the Multiverse. You’ve got to read between the lines, but that’s essentially what they’re saying.

Intro includes a song from Ronald Jenkees; closing music this week comes from Public Service Broadcasting; h/t Ricochet member Lance.

Rubio: Slow & Steady Wins the Race?


Marco-Rubio-1I’ll admit I’ve always been partial to Marco Rubio. He, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry were my top considerations. But with the latter out of the race, it seems to me that Rubio is the presumptive GOP candidate.

Craziness, you say? Let’s look at my line of thinking …

Trump is an aberration and possibly a Democratic stalking horse. I don’t expect him to gain much support as other candidates drop out. Speaking of which, all-around nice guy Ben Carson seems to be starting to implode. I’m sure Jeb Bush won’t exit anytime soon, but he seems to have peaked despite his $100 million. That leaves Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Rubio.

What Happened to Scott Walker?


shutterstock_297134234If you look back to the spring and early summer (a period before, it should be noted, he was even an officially declared candidate), there was a fair bit of talk about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as the “frontrunner” for the Republican presidential nomination. Fast forward to September, and we’ve got a new CNN poll that shows Walker as little more than a rounding error. He’s actually trailing Rick Santorum, who’s yet to make it to a prime-time debate.

Writing at Bloomberg Politics, John McCormick paints a grim picture of the current state of the Walker campaign:

The signs of his precipitous fall were all too vivid Sunday afternoon inside Serena’s Coffee Café in Amana, Iowa, where about 40 stoic supporters showed up for his first retail campaign event in the state since Wednesday’s debate.

Have You Read the Constitution of the United States?


It’s a rhetorical question. I presume you all have, and many times over. And I presume you’ve all carefully read the Bill of Rights, and probably know the Second Amendment by heart. And so I assume that if you saw the following sentence, you’d know how it should be corrected: “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon.”

You’d just whip out that red pen and get rid of the “upon,” wouldn’t you? Because you know what it actually says by heart, and that sounds wrong. It sounds wrong the way, “O say can you see, by the dawn’s early lightning” sounds wrong. It’s just not the way the lyrics go, and every Americans knows those lyrics by heart.

Are the GOP 2016ers Really Ignoring the Economy?


DebateThe WaPo’s Catherine Rampell certainly sums up what I was thinking during the recent GOP debate:

To the great disappointment of econo-nerds everywhere, the economy was almost entirely ignored during Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate. Over the course of three hours, the moderators and debaters found time for but a few minutes of discussion on the economy, most of that on the minimum wage. There was almost nothing on jobs; nothing on inflation; one throwaway mention of trade; and nothing on the Federal Reserve’s impending interest-rate decision, which would be announced the following day (spoiler: the Fed kept rates at zero percent— more on that in a bit). And so the econ-Twitterverse cried out: Whither the economy? Attention must be paid!

Rampell speculates Republicans don’t want to talk so much about the economy because of its slow improvement. Sort of makes sense.”The economy is not as strong as it should be” is a less compelling narrative than, “The economy is in the tank.”