The Battlefield, October 9, 2015

The battlefield today obviously surrounds the Speakership of the House. And it appears littered with bodies.

Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker yesterday, when he realized that he simply could not get to 218 votes. McCarthy had two insurmountable obstacles in his way – first, his stupid statements giving fuel to the Democrats’ contention that the Benghazi special committee is nothing more than a partisan witch-hunt, and second, the persistent rumors about his having an extramarital affair with a fellow member of Congress. Both weighed on his candidacy and while he would have had more votes than anybody else running, he couldn’t get to 218.

But nobody else, right now, could get to 218.

Jason Chaffetz put himself out as someone who could maybe get to 218, but Chaffetz has something of the same problem McCarthy had. He doesn’t have any particular scandal in his background, but Chaffetz was a hatchet man for John Boehner in throwing Mark Meadows off a committee as punishment for Meadows’ “bad actions.” That ultimately led to Meadows, a member of the 40-strong Freedom Caucus who has a veto over the Speakership, filing a motion to vacate the chair against Boehner which ultimately led to his impending resignation. Meadows says he and Chaffetz are friends, but the Freedom Caucus isn’t exactly in forgive-and-forget mode. It’s unclear how much support Chaffetz has outside the Freedom Caucus anyway.

The Freedom Caucus is backing Dan Webster, who was Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature before being elected to Congress. Webster is less conservative than Chaffetz, but what he offers is essentially a return to regular order in Congress where the power would return to the committees and be drained out of the leadership. To date, there is no clear indication how much support Webster has, if any, outside of the Freedom Caucus.

The media narrative and the conventional wisdom holds that the only member of Congress capable of getting to 218 votes is Paul Ryan, who is being recruited by Boehner for the job but so far has not publicly stated he’s running for it. Last night there appeared to be some rumblings that was changing, but nothing has materialized so far to give flesh to that story. Ryan is, ideologically, no particular improvement over McCarthy – but he’s a far savvier politician and a much smarter guy. The problem is, to what end? Ryan is a big proponent of amnesty for illegal immigrants and he was a booster of the bank bailouts; he’s not a particular solution to the GOP’s perceived problem of being a slave to corporate America.

At some point it might be likely that Steve Scalise makes a push for the job. Scalise is seen as a Boehner stooge by a lot of the conservatives in the House, and that’s something of a bad rap – he got into the leadership in an effort to move it to the right – but because of his role as Majority Whip it might be difficult for him to get Freedom Caucus support. Scalise does have John Fleming as an ally within the Freedom Caucus, but whether Fleming could broker support for him is up in the air. Scalise would likely have to make the same kinds of promises to the Freedom Caucus McCarthy said he couldn’t do in order to win; the question is whether he would do so.

Those promises largely include an agreement to engage in a shutdown fight over one or more hot-button issues. The problem being that while the GOP base is happy to do that, and the Freedom Caucus is happy to do that, there are not 218 Republican House members who are happy to do it and there are absolutely not 51 Republican Senators who are happy to do it. That means that while a shutdown fight might be precisely what the country needs if the power of the Obama administration over federal policies badly in need of change (Planned Parenthood funding, the Iran deal, the EPA or any number of other budget issues), the GOP isn’t poised to win it because the caucus just isn’t strong enough.

And that’s why it’s entirely possible – more than possible, in fact – that Boehner is going to stay on as Speaker for long enough to give away the store on a whole host of things. The debt ceiling, Obama’s new desire to stall defense funding – NOW, he’s talking about stalling defense funding! – unless Congress agrees to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and whatever else the president and his Democrat friends on Capitol Hill can think of. Boehner will clear those decks and then turn things over to a new Speaker – and it won’t matter how conservative that Speaker is, because all the battles will be lost and with the 2016 elections looming there will be no discussion of re-engaging them until a new president is in the White House.

So if you want to be excited about McCarthy’s demise, we won’t stop you. And sure, it’s a conservative victory to have taken a scalp. But there is no path out of the woods at this point.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-SaltireTed Cruz’ destruction of Sierra Club president Aaron Mair at that Senate hearing earlier this week was epic, but nothing beat this for entertainment…

So much derp. So much.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire– I don’t think Allah contemplated the coming of video.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire– The other night I was flipping channels and there is actually a Lifetime movie about Ariel Castro and his abduction of those three women in Cleveland.

What possible entertainment value is there in women being chained to beds in a house filled with trash?

Meanwhile, this week marked the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, one of the most important historical events in world history. It was at Lepanto where Christians stopped the Ottoman Turks from exerting dominance over the Mediterranean Sea and in so doing perhaps saving at least southern Europe from Muslim conquest. So far as we know nobody has ever made a movie about Lepanto, or at least not in a very long time.

Lepanto would make a great blockbuster movie. Lepanto was before naval battles were fought with cannons at a distance; the ships were actually still largely powered by use of oars, and the battles were fought on the basis of boarding the enemy’s ships and fighting hand to hand. The cinematic achievement of making a movie depicting such a battle could be legendary.

But we don’t get movies about major battles defending Western Civilization from invading barbarians. We get movies about Ariel Castro, and Eddie Redmayne in a dress.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire– Prediction: should Biden get into the presidential race, Hillary Clinton will make a big deal about how he lied when he said his dying son urged him to run.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire– More locally,  I thought it was a mistake for Vitter to skip that debate Wednesday night. I was wrong.

45 percent of Louisiana voters identify as conservative, and they just watched Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne sound pretty much exactly like John Bel Edwards for the whole hour. It won’t exactly light them up to vote against Vitter. As for Edwards, I think he might be a mole for the state of Texas. If he were to get his policies passed, Texas could clean out Louisiana’s economy and bring it across the Sabine.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire– Why is Ben Carson getting criticized for giving solid advice on how to deal with a mass shooter, and yet this idiot is free to call him a “coon” for his trouble?

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