Summer Book Club Announcement!
Plus The Libertarian Party Takeover, GOP v. Chamber, Father's Day, YouTube Hypocrisy, Border Dispatch, Michele Tafoya
So given that we’re in the summer and folks need more of a beach read, I am once again taking a suggestion from Lisa de Pasquale and choosing what I think is a very fitting read in the spirit of Top Gun: Maverick’s success and our general theme of late on rediscovering America’s aspirational spirit: our book for July and August will be Tom Wolfe’s classic, The Right Stuff. It’s a phenomenal read, and the audio version is narrated by Dennis Quaid.
I’ll have plenty of extra material to share as you read, and paying subscribers will of course participate in our monthly Zoom sessions as well — all the more reason to join up today! If you don’t already own it, you can get the book here:
The Transom is a reader-supported publication. Please consider becoming a subscriber.
The GOP vs. The Chamber
House Republicans welcomed to the Capitol on Wednesday a new self-described "anti-woke" business lobbying group, amplifying their hostility toward the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and broader "environmental, social and corporate governance" (ESG) movement.
Why it matters: The U.S. Chamber used to wield enormous power within the GOP as the representative of business interests. But the country's largest lobbying group is now viewed with contempt across large swaths of the Republican Party.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says he won't even meet with the group if he's speaker next year.
The GOP Senate Conference isn't nearly as hostile as the House. But several high-profile Republican senators, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have been publicly attacking the business lobby for months.
Driving the news: The Republican Study Committee, the largest group of conservatives in the House, invited leaders of the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, to lunch at the Capitol.
As Axios first reported, the group is positioning itself as an alternative to lobbies like the U.S. Chamber, which some Republicans charge have lurched left to appease Democrats amid a broader effort by corporate America to advocate on issues such as abortion, voting rights and racial justice.
Behind the scenes: The Republican Study Committee lunch conversation turned into a bashing session against the U.S. Chamber and corporate ESG.
RSC chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who is close to McCarthy, introduced the new group's two leaders — its chairman, former Iowa governor and President Trump's ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, and its CEO Gentry Collins, a former political director of the Republican National Committee.
In his introductory remarks, Banks said he was "increasingly frustrated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for supporting woke policies and enriching China."
Between the lines: Woke is a term used to refer to an awareness of broad injustices in society that conservatives are increasingly using as a pejorative to criticize liberal ideals.
Things only got worse for the Chamber from there as the lunch entered a question-and-answer session with Branstad and Collins.
Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) described the corporate ESG movement as a "threat" to America that is "undermining American competitiveness" and said the U.S. Chamber "has been corrupted by woke thinking."
Barr told Branstad about his bill, the "Ensuring Sound Guidance (ESG) Act," which is part of a broader GOP legislative assault against green investing and other forms of socially responsible investment. Part of the GOP's goal is to get major investment firms to re-embrace fossil fuels.
"Amen — I agree with that," Branstad said of Barr's requirement that investment advisers prioritize financial returns over other issues such as sustainability.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) told Branstad and Collins: "Thanks for organizing an actual American Chamber of Commerce versus this woke Chamber."
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) contended that the U.S. Chamber had opposed sufficiently securing the southern border and was "flooding our country with cheap labor ... basically taking jobs out of the hands of U.S. citizens."
"Where is this new Chamber going to stand on border security?" he asked.
Branstad replied they would "stand strong for border security."
Branstad was seen huddling with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) at the end of the lunch and later met with McCarthy's staff.
Scalise's chief of staff, Brett Horton, said last year his office wanted nothing to do with the U.S. Chamber. "If the U.S. Chamber sent me a meeting request right now, I wouldn't even staff that meeting out to an intern, and I don't see that changing," Horton said.
The U.S. Chamber's executive vice president Neil Bradley is a former senior House GOP leadership staffer and executive director of the RSC.
The Mises Caucus Takeover Of The Libertarian Party
The Libertarian Party (L.P.) is under new management, tweeted Angela McArdle, shortly after she became the National Committee's new chair at its 2022 annual convention in Reno, Nevada, which was attended by more than 1,000 delegates from around the country.
"We're obviously at a crossroads right now," McArdle said during a debate for the chair position. "I hate to sound like a scumbag politician…but we are going to move heaven and earth to make this [party] functional and not embarrassing for you. We are going to change the country."
McArdle, who won her election with about 70 percent of the vote, is part of the Mises Caucus, which swept all the national leadership roles and is now in complete control of the nation's third-largest political party.
Mises Caucus supporters say they want to "make the Libertarian Party libertarian again," that it should no longer be concerned about offending progressives or Beltway types and shouldn't be afraid to reach out to the coalition that elected former President Donald Trump. McArdle says that the party faceplanted during the pandemic by failing to take a strong stance against lockdowns and vaccine mandates and that its messaging is far too tame and conventional to counter the power of the authoritarian state.
"If something like a lockdown or a vaccine mandate happens [again], we won't whiff the ball and humiliate ourselves and alienate everyone out there," she said in her acceptance speech.
Critics say they're shitposting edgelords who make controversial statements just to attract attention and that they have no interest in running viable candidates for office.
"If Angela McArdle becomes chair of the Libertarian National Committee and makes the party welcoming to bigots, the committee she is in charge of will shrivel and die," says Nicholas Sarwark, the chair of the Libertarian Party from 2014 to 2020 and a frequent critic of the caucus.
The Mises Caucus' namesake is the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, but its members are especially influenced by his student Murray Rothbard. Like Mises, Rothbard was a radical capitalist, who, unlike his mentor, favored the complete abolition of the state. Rothbard also advocated forming strategic political alliances with the New Left in the 1960s and then with paleoconservative figures like Pat Buchanan in the early '90s.
Rothbard was an enthusiastic supporter of Ron Paul's run on the Libertarian presidential ticket in 1988. He wrote that the party had become "increasingly flaky…libertine and culturally leftist" and saw Paul's campaign as a "last desperate attempt" to save the party. But it ultimately failed, in his view, leaving the L.P. "spiraling downward into oblivion." The Mises Caucus likewise looks to Ron Paul as a political role model, pointing to his 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential campaigns (which generated huge crowds and interest in libertarianism). Paul attended a Mises Caucus event in Reno to signal his support.
"These are the kids who came up in 2008 and 2012 inspired by Ron Paul," says Scott Horton, a popular anti-war radio host, author, and founder of the Libertarian Institute. It was Horton who officially nominated McArdle for the chair position. "Now they've been to college, grown up. They got their own lives and families and things, and they're ready to move in and take the next step."
Wanting More Of Less On Father’s Day
My father, Les, was a farmer, a small man with a big heart, frail limbs, and a strong faith. He walked with a cane in his later years and leaned on His Lord his entire life. His faith guided him daily and was passed along freely to his three children. Few would believe the depth of congeniality that prevailed in our home growing up. I can’t recall a harsh word between my parents, nor was there a day I questioned their love for each other or for us. To this day, more than six decades later, my sister and brother are two of my closest friends. And I have not one bad memory of growing up on our farm as the middle child of a middle-class family, in the middle of the century in Mid-America.
So as Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think about my father, more than a decade now after his passing, and simply wish I could have more of Les. More of his faith, more of his kindness, his humor, his work ethic, his responsibility, his love—innumerable and admirable qualities condensed in a man who walked humbly, lived justly, gave generously, and openly loved the Lord.
My father may have been a man of few words, but his influence was great, especially with the words he parsed out to strategically nurture, protect, and guide us. I recall his silent smiles, his listening ears, and later, as an adult, the long conversations we shared over pots of hot black coffee. Oh, how I wish I had more of his ways and more chances to soak up a little bit more of Les and to thank him for all he did for me.
Instead, only memories remain of a common man who lived ordinary days in extraordinary ways from which I draw countless inspiration. I'm grateful that before he died, I decided to tell him how I felt. I’m sure my letter took him by surprise. It would have arrived in the latter years of his life via postal. Stretching to multiple pages and written on blue-lined notebook paper, I itemized the many reasons I admired him. I highlighted certain childhood memories that had made a difference to me and told him that I appreciated how I had been raised, where I had been raised, and that after living, working, and traveling far distances from our farm, I had found no more beautiful view in all the world than the one I saw looking out the back door of the white-framed farmhouse in which I’d grown up—southwest across the pasture to the endless western horizon. I suspect I also told him that I loved him. (We weren’t big with those words in our family, but it didn’t matter: we knew.) And I thanked him for all he’d done for me and begged forgiveness for neglecting to tell him before.
We never talked about my letter; that would have been outside the character of Les and certainly outside my own character. But I know my letter meant a lot to him because years later, after he passed away, I found that letter while sorting through his belongings. It was folded compactly, stuffed into the worn black leather wallet he always carried with him. He had saved it. I don’t recall what else we found in that old leather wallet; it really doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that I know my Dad knew without question that I loved and respected him and appreciated all he did for me.
YouTube’s Arbitrary Rules
The video that so upset YouTube is "The Dark Age of YouTube," a video that shows that everything YouTube says about enforcing its own rules is often arbitrary nonsense. In the long-form video, Act Man -a popular YouTuber with 1.5 million subscribers, real name Kelly Van Achte- scathingly documented the bad behavior of one of the worst trolls and ne'er-do-wells on YouTube.
Quantum TV is, in the technical term: the worst. Throughout his time on YouTube, since at least 2018, he’s been responsible for several channels being banned on the platform, many more demonetized, and view counts dropped, sometimes going so far as to put people's lives in physical danger. If you really want to go down the rabbit hole; you can read some of his Twitter history. Quantum loves to use the Pulse Nightclub shooting, one of the worst mass shootings in US history, as both a slur and a talking point against any gay person online he may, unfortunately, come across.
Yet despite all this, YouTube has done just short of nothing about it save having Quantum’s small unused original YouTube account banned back in 2018. Here we have a creator that routinely stalks critics, mass flags copyright right strikes against other creators, and goes so far as to harass family members of critics, and YouTube doesn't have an opinion about it.
As for Kelly, besides being a gaming YouTuber known for his smarmy character and insightful long-form reviews on video games, The Act Man is also known in the YouTube community as someone always willing to help creators that approach him for advice and assistance. One day in March, a 16-year-old YouTuber named Mischief reached out to him for assistance with several false copyright strikes coming against him, which turned out to be Quantum TV. Van Achte agreed to investigate and speak to YouTube on his behalf to hopefully save Mischief’s channel. What he found during his investigation stunned him.
Items of Interest
“You can call it innocence or you can call it gullibility, but Celia made the most common mistake of the good-hearted: She assumed that everyone else was just like her. Evidence to the contrary found nowhere to lodge, like a book on chaos theory in a library that didn't have a physics section.”
— Lionel Shriver