Problem Solved!

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I guess the big story over the past few days was the defenestration of Kevin McCarthy. Following my usual Elvis Costello strategy (don't be disgusted, try to be amused) I'm not that interested in making an enthusiastic attack on one side or the other.

But on the other hand, there were slightly amusing meta-issues, as described by Ed Morrissey. Frog meets scorpion: House Republicans threaten to quit Problem Solvers Caucus after McCarthy ouster. Why? Because my very own CongressCritter, Chris Pappas, is a member of that worthless caucus. Assuming you're up on the Scorpion/Frog Fable:

House Republicans partnered with Democrats to form the “Problem Solvers Caucus” (PSC) in January 2017, as a counter to the supposedly extreme-MAGA agenda of Donald Trump. For the most part, the Problem Solvers offered nothing much but cheap virtue-signaling by its members over the last six-plus years. The conceit played well in the competitive districts its members represented, but the caucus has never produced any successful legislation. It exists to fluff itself and to vaguely scold everyone else on the benefits of bipartisanship and defense of institutions.

And Democrats kept scolding on that point, right up until the point that every last PSC Democrat voted to oust a sitting Speaker for partisan purposes. Suddenly, the Republicans in the caucus are shocked, shocked — no, wait, wrong analogy — are surprised to find out that the scorpion they’ve carried on their backs acts like a scorpion:

GOP members in the group are furious at their Democratic colleagues who voted to remove McCarthy. The Republicans say he was punished for “doing the right thing” after advancing a stopgap funding bill on a bipartisan basis.

Frustrated members said that Democrats in the group, which is aimed at finding bipartisan solutions, sparked chaos for political gain despite many Republicans in the group having faced primaries for crossing the aisle and taking difficult votes.

A draft letter obtained by Axios took aim at Democrats for siding with “Gaetz and a single digit number of chaos agents in the Republican Conference.”

“It is unfortunate, for America and the institution of Congress, that Democrats in PSC chose not to risk the smallest amount of political capital or show the minimal courage necessary to merely vote against the Motion to Vacate. Instead, they voted for the chaos and now hope to benefit politically from it,” the draft memo said.

Under other circumstances, this would be hilarious. What exactly did these geniuses think would happen, especially after six years of posing without a single substantive accomplishment? The PSC was nothing more than a PR move by savvy Democrats intended to split the Republican caucus, paint the rest of the GOP as “extreme MAGA” by comparison, and if possible slow down or stop progress on the GOP’s agenda. During the Biden era, the PSC did little or nothing to restrain the sharp left turn taken by Joe Biden.

"Under other circumstances, this would be hilarious." Ed, some of us think it's pretty hilarious under these circumstances.

Also of note:

  • There was no Plan B. There was no Plan A either. Paula Bolyard says, convincingly: I Don't Think the House Fight Worked Out the Way Matt Gaetz Thought It Would.

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) successfully led a coup against now-former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday. He managed to eke out a “win” by rallying the entire Democratic caucus and eight Republicans to oust him. It’s the first time that has happened in U.S. history.

    And it’s a total clown show.

    Not only does it distract from the already tense budget negotiations, but it makes a laughingstock of the GOP—and the U.S.—and gives Democrats even more leverage to push through their radical policies.

    "Clown show." "Laughingstock." What's not to like?

    Oh yeah: radical policies. That is a downside. Thanks, Matt!

  • Using small words that Lina Khan understand. Sorry for that bad pun, but it's the first thing coming to mind while reading Jessica Melugin's explanation of Why the FTC’s Antitrust Case against Amazon Misses the Mark. She makes a point we've made here before: Amazon is only a "monopolist" if you dubiously define its market narrowly enough so that only Amazon fits.

    Incorrectly defining the market and failing to prove that Amazon is a monopolist lays bare that the specific “crimes” the FTC charges Amazon with committing are nothing more than business practices consumers and third-party sellers are free to reject by taking their business elsewhere. If fees are too high for the likes of sellers or lowest-price contracts are objectionable, they are free to sell elsewhere. If ads appearing in search results displease consumers, they can shop elsewhere. These arrangements are voluntary and, absent consumer harm that has not been demonstrated, it is not a matter in which the government needs to meddle.

    In order to gore its preferred ox, the FTC is ignoring the realities of today’s retail world in asserting that Amazon is a monopolist. Amazon is only a monopolist of Amazon. That’s not illegal, that’s just running a business. The FTC’s case against Amazon is a waste of taxpayer money, but consumers will pay the price if it’s successful.

    And (to repeat) New Hampshire is joining in on this folly that (if successful) will only hurt Amazon's customers. I sent this to Governor Sununu:

    I'm extremely disappointed that New Hampshire is one of only 17 states joining in the Biden Administration's FTC suit against Amazon. It is essentially an arbitrary attack against a company whose "crime" is simply being successful. It is a mockery of the rule of law. Why is the state spending time and (taxpayer) money on this?

    There, that'll show 'em.

  • Repeal the Jones Act. George Will goes nautical: Ahoy! It’s crony capitalism sailing in and out of U.S. ports. Some history, as only GFW can do it:

    Wesley Jones, a Republican U.S. senator from Washington, 1909-1932, should be canonized as the patron saint of industrial policy. His contribution to such mischief, which is enjoying a rebirth of respectability, is in its second century of doing damage.

    His advocacy of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, included the usual cant about serving national security and the public interest generally. The act began, however, as garden-variety political parochialism. It survives because it is defended by the “reliance interests” — industries tethered to government favoritism — that industrial policy, a.k.a. protectionism or crony capitalism, invariably produces.

    Industrial policy involves government supplanting society’s myriad private collaborations — i.e., market transactions — to allocate resources and opportunities as government thinks best. Such policy empowers government, which is politics in every fiber of its being, to supplant markets in shaping the future, deciding which industries and products should prosper. Jones wanted Washington state’s shipping industry to prosper, with the help of the other Washington. He particularly wanted to protect his state’s shippers from foreign competition serving ports in Alaska — over Alaska’s strenuous objections.

    Cato and the Mercatus Center have been longtime critics of the Jones Act provisions as well. Will notes the U.S. Maritime Administration's reaction to such criticism: “Charge all past and present members of the Cato and Mercatus Institutes with treason.”

    That's a crime punishable by death.

  • It's funny because it's true. And also funny because it's funny. David Strom notes some consternation when some people took the gender ideologues at their word: All's fair in the alphabet wars.

    A major tech job fair for women (AnitaB) was flooded with biological men, and lots of people were angry about it.

    I don’t understand why. The conference opened itself up to “nonbinary” participants. And given the current definitional confusion, how can we possibly know who is really a man, a woman, or a non-binary person anyway?


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Last Modified 2024-01-10 6:59 AM EDT