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It’s Monday, September 28th, 2015…and here’s The Gouge!

First up, the editors at NRO forecast the GOP’s future… 

After Boehner



The election of a Republican House in 2010 put an end to the march of liberal legislation through Congress. Obama would get no signing ceremony for carbon caps, for pro-union laws, for new gun controls, or even, as it turned out, for the “comprehensive immigration reform” so favored by all the great and good. Republicans in Congress also imposed some spending cuts, albeit ones that fell too heavily on defense. When George W. Bush’s tax cuts expired, they got President Obama to agree to put many of them into law indefinitely.

Those are real accomplishments for which Speaker John Boehner, who has just announced that he will retire at the end of October, deserves some credit. While he seems to have favored something like the misbegotten immigration bill that the Senate passed in 2013, for example, he wisely chose to avoid letting it go through over his party’s objections. But overall his record is one that conservatives find, and should find, disappointing. To be sure, there are real limits, as Boehner and his allies always insisted, on what Republican congressmen can achieve when an implacably liberal president has a unified Democratic party behind him; but what is most dismaying is how little Republican congressmen have even tried to achieve. The House has never voted on a conservative replacement for Obamacare, or a tax reform, or even a bill to unwind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One of the few conservative policy victories in the last few years — the end, for now, of federal authorization of the Export-Import Bank — was accomplished over Boehner’s objections.


The Republican leadership in Congress constantly complains that conservative groups are demanding that it fight the Obama administration in ways it considers counterproductive. But it does not suggest that instead Republicans fight against the administration, or for conservative causes, in some superior way. Its alternative to losing fights consists of “regular order” and advancing bipartisan legislation that appeals to business groups. That is a recipe for demoralization among conservatives, loss of Republican popularity among swing voters, further strife within the party caucus, and a further weakening of Congress as an institution.

Boehner has conservative views on most issues and sought to advance those views as best he could. But he has allowed a destructive dynamic to take hold among Republicans in which realism is forever pitted against vision. We wish him well in retirement, and wish for a successor who will transcend that division.

Even the WSJ, which railed against what it described as the wrong-headed Republican “backbenchers” who forced Boehner out, had to admit…


“Boehner, you read putts about as well as you recognize the character of your political opponents!”

Mr. Boehner made his share of mistakes as Speaker, and the biggest was trusting Mr. Obama to bargain in good faith. He entered solo negotiations with the White House, told his conference to wait and see, and behind closed doors even cut preliminary deals on modest tax and entitlement reform—not once but twice. Mr. Obama suddenly raised his demands each time and then ambushed Mr. Boehner publicly. These double-crosses damaged his credibility among conservatives. (Along with anyone else with an ounce of common sense and political savvy!)

The Speaker might have improved relations with better internal communication, and too often his strategy has been improvisational.

Strategy?  WHAT strategy?!?  If Boehner ever had a strategy, let alone a clue, then Jimmy Carter wasn’t terrified…


…of the aquatic version of what Wikipedia terms “gregarious burrowing animals with long ears, long hind legs, and short white bushy tails“!

Boehner had as much chance against Barry as Carter had opposing the Ayatollah Khomeini…or Obama had against his successor.  Which of course assumes The Dear Misleader wasn’t on the Iran’s side!

As Jonathan Tobin notes at Commentary Magazine, the…

GOP Needed a Leader, Not a Boehner



“…The basic truth the ardent constitutionalists in the Tea Party seem not to understand is that the Founders handed down to them a system that is set up to create gridlock. The checks and balances that the Constitution provides mean that the separate branches of government can thwart each other. Even though Americans who wanted them to stop Obama gave the GOP control of Congress, that was never going to be possible. In that sense Boehner is merely a scapegoat for the anger felt by a conservative base that feels it is cheated and wants to fight even if they have no chance to prevail in that battle.

But it is a little too easy to paint Boehner as a helpless sacrifice being offered by his party on the altar of a frustrated Tea Party base. At a time when Obama was running roughshod over the Constitution and the will of Congressional majorities, Republicans needed something more from its leaders than competent management. The GOP needed inspirational leadership and a guiding spirit that promised a fight to the last ditch in the name of the principles on which their majorities were elected.


That is something of a conundrum since the way one gets elected House Speaker or Senate Majority Leader are pretty much the opposite of the way we choose presidents. Caucuses traditionally choose leaders that are likeable, efficient and competent legislators. Going along to get along is a tired cliché that exemplifies much of what most of us hate about Congress. These bodies simply cannot function if people who are not behaving in that manner run them. Both Boehner and McConnell know this and operate accordingly.

What Republicans need now is someone who can provide the sort of inspiration and combative spirit that Boehner lacked. That is exactly what the presidential race ought to be about. The rise of Donald Trump is directly linked to dissatisfaction with Boehner since he embodies the desire for combat — even if it is not tethered to any recognizable conservative principle.

But we’ll leave it to John Hawkins to speak our mind on Boehner’s final retreat:

Boehner Resigned? Good. Go Cry, Drink And Surrender Somewhere Else.


John Boehner :: Jameson

“…Over the next few days, you can expect to see lots of politicians, columnists and talking heads saying nice things about John Boehner now that he has stepped down as Speaker.

I am not going to be one of them.

There’s no reason to say nice things about John Boehner that he doesn’t deserve. He didn’t die; he quit his job after enough Republicans FINALLY started moving to unseat him behind the scenes. It would be a better country if that had been done years ago. Other than an earmark ban long ago and sequester cuts, which were practically accidental, John Boehner’s tenure as a leader has been one long, unbroken streak of mediocrity, cowardice and disaster…”

In all seriousness, to think this weeping wimp was only two .115 grain slugs away from President of the United States is almost as terrifying as the thought of who was only…


one away!!!

Now if only the Senate Majority Leader…


…would walk in front of a bus!

Since we’re on the subject of surrender monkeys, next up, NRO‘s Kevin Williamson opines on something…

Not Exactly Satire



I am not sure whether The Onion here is being more serious than it usually is when it writes:

WASHINGTON—Admitting the startling discovery had compelled him to reexamine his long-held beliefs, His Holiness Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he had reversed his critical stance toward capitalism after seeing the immense variety of Oreos available in the United States. “Oh, my goodness, look at all these! Golden Oreos, Cookie Dough Oreos, Mega Stuf Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos—perhaps the system of free enterprise is not as terrible as I once feared,” said the visibly awed bishop of Rome while visiting a Washington, D.C. supermarket, adding that the sheer diversity of flavors, various colors and quantities of creme filling, and presence or absence of an outer fudge layer had led to a profound philosophical shift in his feelings toward the global economy and opened his eyes to the remarkable capabilities of the free market. “Only a truly exceptional and powerful economic system would be capable of producing so many limited-edition and holiday-themed flavors of a single cookie brand, such as these extraordinary Key Lime Pie Oreos and Candy Corn Oreos. This is not a force of global impoverishment at all, but one of endless enrichment.”

The apparent frivolity of the free market, which seeks to satisfy every need and every taste, is a favorite target of its critics: In the Progressive Era, it was “unhealthy competition” or “destructive competition” [which] diverted resources from the “rational” uses to which they could be put by enlightened central planners; Senator Sanders has his weird thing about how having 23 brands of deodorant (memo to Sanders supporters, incidentally) is somehow related to childhood hunger. The old doctrinaire socialists scoffed at the diversity of capitalist markets–who could need that many choices? Even our postmodern miserablists, like Barry Schwartz, argue that the proliferation of choices is bad for us, a drag on our mental health.

It may be accidental, but The Onion is actually on to something here: Yes, trivial and over-indulgent as it may seem, our multivariate Oreo menu is precisely the case for capitalism.

I think often of a story I heard about East Germany in the days following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. (Socialism: An idea so good you have to be literally locked into it.)


Under socialism, oranges were a rarity, one associated with Christmas. (The commies hated Christmas, but couldn’t quite keep it down.) If you were lucky, you might get a few oranges, or a small basket of orange for the family, at Christmas. And then, after socialism, suddenly: oranges. Oranges any old time, whenever you wanted them, cheap. On that front, every day was Christmas.

That Onion piece is pretty funny, if you never saw a Soviet grocery store back in the day, or if you haven’t seen a Venezuelan grocery store this week.


Muy divertido…



In a related item, also courtesy of NRO, touching on a theme we’ve rammed home time and again, David French highlights the irreconcilable differences between Biblical charity and the inevitable enslavement of Progressive entitlement:

The Economic Fallacies of Progressive Christianity



When it comes to considering the arguments of newly resurgent Christian progressives, we hold these truths to be self-evident: Jesus was not a socialist, the Bible is not an economics textbook, and while scripture commands believers to help the poor, it also commands the poor to help themselves. As Pope Francis gains rock-star status on the economic left, Christians would do well to remember not just scripture, but the economic reality of recent world experience.

This morning, the pope addressed Congress with relative restraint. Rather than decrying the perceived excesses of global capitalism — calling it, as he once did, the “dung of the devil” or the “new colonialism” — he used more measured language. He urged American politicians to exert their primacy over “the economy and finance,” creating a community that shares its goods:

If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.

While the words may be less fiery than those Francis has used in the past, their meaning is still clear: Politicians exist in part to mandate public economic sacrifice in the name of a nebulous “common good.”

Yet one must take great care when making religious claims about political management of the economy, never forgetting that ideology can’t trump human nature and outcomes matter more than intentions. I can agree wholeheartedly with the Pope’s calls for an ethical capitalism in which great wealth carries with it great responsibility. I remain wary of the rhetoric of redistribution(We remain not only wary, but wholly and utterly unconvinced!) 


One can scour the entire Bible without finding any example of progressive taxation or any endorsement of large-scale government redistribution of wealth. Instead, the default position is that the individual owns his property and the worker deserves his wages. While charity is an unquestioned obligation, Scripture also places responsibilities on the poor that would make any good progressive blanch.

The Apostle Paul condemns idleness, saying, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” In the book of First Timothy, he goes even farther: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” The bible even conditions church aid to widows on their age and reputation for good conduct: Young widows are excluded for fear that they will grow “idle.” These words sound extraordinarily harsh to modern ears, yet they reflect divine insight into fallen human naturerewarding idleness will breed more idleness.


The Pilgrims tried Socialism once…once!

Indeed, in the only government God did establish — ancient Israel — the “welfare” system stood in stark contrast to modern custom. Here’s how He commands the Israelites to use their possessions to care for the poor:

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.

Not only is private property recognized (“your land”), but the welfare that does exist requires the poor to actually engage in the harvest to collect the gleanings.


God commands nations to strengthen the hand of the poor, and outcomes matter. Recent history demonstrates that capitalism, not socialism, is the great engine that lifts people out of poverty. In 2013 The Economist asked, “How did the global poverty rate halve in 20 years?” The answer wasn’t redistribution, but economic growth:

Fast-growing economies in the developing world have done most of the work. Between 1981 and 2001, China lifted 680 million people out of poverty. Since 2000, the acceleration of growth in developing countries has cut the numbers in extreme poverty outside China by 280 million.

China grew, incidentally, when it became less socialist and more capitalist, and almost a billion people have joined the middle- and upper-class as a result.

The pope calls on politicians to serve the “common good.” The common good, however, is best served by a rejection of the progressive economic politics he favors. In the battle between the advocates of growth and the advocates of redistribution, err on the side of growth. Capitalism is what makes the poor man rich.

Perhaps if community organizers had to produce a product, risk their own hard-won capital, or actually earn their daily bread…


…they might take a different view not only of the value of making people labor to enjoy any fruit, but what’s required to fuel an economic engine.

On the Lighter Side…

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Tuesday we’re heading west to The Land of Fruits & Nuts to enjoy not only the company of some old and very dear friends, but a well-deserved respite from the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune on the links; including two rounds at Lakeside in Burbank…what is, in our humble opinion, the greatest golf club on the planet!

So until Wednesday October 7th…