7 months into a lame-duck speakership

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) marked his seventh month in office Saturday, a lame-duck speaker hampered by conservative critics, office dysfunction, and a shadow race to replace him before he’s even gone.

Staff turnover happens, and it often happens in waves. You’ll see a lot of turnover at the top of a new year, as team members look for fresh starts; you’ll see it in the spring, for those who decide to put in another six months before tapping out; and you’ll see it at the end of summer, as Capitol Hill’s denizens hedge their bets before the voters judge their work on Election Day.

Still, four senior departures in two days is a terrible look, and that’s just what Johnson underwent last week, when Brittan Specht, Jason Yaworske, and Preston Hill announced they’d be joining a D.C. lobbying firm. Later the same day, reports leaked that his communications director, Raj Shah, formerly of the Trump White House, was leaving as well.

‘It’s a sign they know he’s not going to be speaker at the end of the year.’

It’s no secret that Johnson marked a major shift in staffing at the speaker’s office. There hadn’t been a real shake-up since Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Speakers Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and later Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had largely kept their predecessor’s staff on. Johnson opted to bring in a largely fresh team, a sign that gave early hope to conservatives hoping for a change in the direction of Republican leadership.

Those who stayed included Specht, Yaworske, and Hill, all of whom reportedly gave time limits on their service to aid in the transition. But people don’t swim away from a happy ship, and it’s no secret that frustration has gripped a speaker’s office marred by inexperience.

“You’re seeing the heavies with political experience leaving,” one longtime Senate aide and observer told Blaze News. “The people leaving are pros. It tells me maybe nobody was listening to them. It’s also a sign they know he’s not going to be speaker at the end of the year.”

Republican critiques frequently focus on Johnson’s chief of staff, Hayden Haynes, who was the congressman’s chief before his unexpected election, but whom many consider to be in over his head in the top staff role in Congress. For his part, Johnson’s policy director, Dan Ziegler, has reportedly struggled to predict his counterparts in negotiations between “the four corners,” or the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House and Senate. This inexperience, multiple Republicans told Blaze News, is simply exhausting for staff who can make more money working fewer hours elsewhere.

“Experienced policy staff like Specht, Hill, and Yaworske added a critical backstop for a team that was otherwise relatively new to leadership,” one former Republican leadership staffer explained to Blaze News. “They are a huge loss to this team.”

And pros at that level aren’t easy to come by on public funding. “There are very few people who operate at that policy level who are in the Capitol Hill system and you would be able to afford,” a top House conservative aide explained.

But Johnson’s weaknesses extend much farther than staff defections. His fellow Louisianan and majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise, has effectively launched a shadow race for the top job, taking lead on briefing conservative movement groups like the Republican Study Committee and the Conservative Action Project on the Republican reconciliation agenda.

“He’s basically doing a publicity tour,” an attendee at the Conservative Action Project breakfast told Blaze News.

It’s an aggressive play and made actually believable after the brain drain in Johnson’s policy corner. The question for Scalise is, first, whether he can actually wrest control, and second, whether he can deliver on the things Republican candidate Donald Trump actually wants from these negotiations. The whole time he’ll be essentially shadowboxing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who doesn’t like to share.

Scalise’s success aside, the writing is on the wall for Mike Johnson. And that’s not a criticism; it’s a reality.

Blaze News: Desperate to kneecap Justice Alito, liberal media try tying him to Bud Light boycott

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Senators target McKinsey & Co. for playing footsie with treason

Rubio, Hawley target global adviser network after they deliver a report to China on how to dominate warfare

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter Wednesday to a McKinsey Global Management partner demanding that the company come clean on its dealings with China — and cease any future business.

The company has denied a Financial Times report from February linking it to a report on how the Chinese military can outmatch the United States. The think tank that produced the report, the Urban China Initiative, was reportedly cofounded by McKinsey, shares McKinsey’s Beijing address, and was hosted on a McKinsey domain.

The report says it was compiled using McKinsey research, questions to the Initiative were directed to McKinsey’s China office, and the report’s forward was written by McKinsey China’s top guy, Lola Woetzel, who reportedly hand-delivered the report to Chinese then-Premier Li Keqiang, the second-highest-ranking Chinese official before his retirement.

McKinsey’s business with the Department of Defense, FBI, CIA, NSA, and Director of National intelligence runs deep. According to a November 2023 report obtained by Blaze News:

The Department of Defense (DOD) has paid McKinsey approximately $450 million since 2008. The firm has received these revenues while executing 90 prime contracts for the Department, plus an additional 15 subcontracts. It has also made at least $17 million from the FBI, as well as undisclosed amounts from the CIA, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Its DOD projects have focused on the F-35 fighter jet program, missile defense systems, and advanced microelectronics. McKinsey is currently still under contract with the Department of Defense.

McKinsey has worked for dozens of Chinese state-owned entities, with such organizations reportedly accounting for 30% of all the firm’s Chinese engagements. It counts several influential and controversial companies among its SOE clients, including COSCO Shipping, whose maritime fleet has allegedly aided the Chinese navy in its overseas expansion; as well as China Communications Construction Company and China Unicom, both of which have allegedly aided Chinese development of artificial islands to support dubious territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“Your company’s inability to come clean about its dealings with China,” the two Republicans wrote, “disqualifies it from future work with the United States government — a government your company has worked to undermine both economically and militarily at the behest of our national’s primary geopolitical adversary.”

Financial Times: McKinsey-led think-tank advised China on policy that fed US tensions

THE FIRE RISES: Tablet: ‘What Nellie saw’

The Free Press’ Nellie Bowles’ new book, “Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches from the Wrong Side of History,” has been panned by all the usual commissars. The New York Times Book Review accused her of the awful crime of not wanting homeless vagrants taking over her city park. The New Yorker and Washington Post were furious that she’d criticize the grand new experiment. So, what was so bad about it all? Tablet reports on what this liberal apostate really saw:

Early-2020s wokeism exerts a dismal fascination in part because it was (is?) more a patchwork than a consistent ideology. In this way it resembles liberalism, conservatism, and a few other -isms, only more so. Wokeism began in the wake of the Floyd murder with a neo-Puritan practice of self-examination geared toward the spiritual regeneration of enlightened “white people.” This project merged with a patrolling of speech engineered by academic elites who were carting around a barrelful of new phraseology. When the pandemic hit, the protesters cast their lot with the surveillance state and the powers that be, since social change could only be dictated from above.

Wokeism immediately added a contrary aspect, though—heavily-armed liberated zones in West Coast cities run by violent male youths who, instead of being agonized by their skin color (mostly super-pale, this being the Pacific Northwest), ran rampant like bite-sized made men hoisting their AKs. Those anarchist spaces were short-lived—people got killed. So, wokeism pivoted to milder forms of self-expression, like queering yourself in inventive ways, even if you were purely vanilla. (Bowles describes the speech given by Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo’s daughter, when she came out as “demisexual,” meaning she only wants to have sex with people she’s emotionally attached to.) Somewhere in there came the genius inspiration of Tema Okun, a middle-aged white woman, who said that Black kids, and maybe white kids too, shouldn’t try to get the right answers in school, since objectivity was toxic whiteness. Oh, and there was also that business of ending prison sentences for theft, pulling down public monuments and paintings of “white men,” helping drug addicts get high, and other interesting stuff.

Puritanism and libertarianism, of the somewhat unhinged Murray Rothbard sort, were the strange bedfellows of the wokeist movement. In the 1960s Rothbard had urged getting rid of the police, since vigilantes would do a much better job in a free market. But the new woke libertarianism was clothed in utopian social welfare garb, which made it all the more confusing. Cops would be replaced not by armed gangs but by social service professionals who would eliminate all crime, since people are inherently good and do bad things only because of social oppression. Yet there was still room for healthy mayhem, as long as it was left-wing violence directed at the police and others deemed to be “fascists.”

Over time, the Puritan side of wokeism faded, and the urge to mortify white flesh gave way to a vogue for trans-humanist gender expression, coupled with an admiration of the noble “bodies of culture” that remained nonwhite. (Bowles quotes a professor on the radio claiming that “rape did not exist among Native nations” before contact with white people.) It has ended, at least for now, with the adulation of the decidedly nonwhite Hamas with the noble hang gliders, bravely resisting the white Jews whom they burn and rape.

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