Back in 1980, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to 11-years-deceased John Kennedy Toole for his novel A Confederacy of Dunces. Though I never read it, I loved the title.

And 41 years later we see a modern-day confederacy of dunces. Just look at the roster of folks chosen by the White House as department heads and other folks-in-charge.

First is Air Force Gen. Jacqueline van Ovost, newly confirmed commander in chief of Transport Command. Most recently she presided over its component Air Mobility Command. Those are the folks who were supposed to evacuate U.S. troops as well as American civilians and allied personnel. The troops got out. But too many others they could and should have protected are still there, left to the tender mercies of the Taliban: the evacuation was botched so badly The Three Stooges would’v’e been proud.

Now she’s moved up the chain of command, to the headquarters to which Air Mobility Command belongs, along with the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Army’s Military Traffic Management Command.

Sigh. We had an expression for such occurrences when I was in the Air Force: “[mess] up and move up.”

Next is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. A spokesperson for the Obama Administration, she has picked up where she left off in terms of competence:

At a Sept. 28 press briefing she was questioned about Joe Biden’s claim that the $3.5 trillion spending bill actually “costs zero dollars.” A report by the Joint Committee on Taxation had said – Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on incomes less than $400,000 annually notwithstanding – the spending bill would hike taxes for “more than 16 percent of taxpayers.”

“There are some ... who argue that, in the past, companies have passed on these [tax increases] to consumers,” she said. “We feel that that’s unfair and absurd.”

But haven’t businesses always offset increasing costs by passing them along to consumers? And if they must eat those costs, won’t they fold eventually, with the loss of products consumers want and jobs that produced them?

What about the federal fuel tax? Each gas pump has a little sign that shows exactly how much of the fuel price is actually the fuel tax. So what Psaki calls “ unfair and absurd” has actually been happening for decades. Same for sales tax. Who’s dumb enough to think companies won’t pass along new costs they incur in taxes on to consumers, just like everything else?

Besides Jen Psaki, that is?

Psaki also got into an argument Sept 28 with a reporter about who decided not to leave any troops in Afghanistan. “That is not the decision the president made,” she said. “It’s up to the commander in chief to make those decisions.”

So who’s that, if not Joe Biden?There are plenty more members of this confederacy of dunces. Education secretary Miguel Cardona doesn’t see parents as the primary stakeholders in their children’s education. He tried ducking a question from Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) who asked him directly on Oct. 1. “I believe parents are important stakeholders,” Cardona began. Braun immediately interjected that he was asking about whether parents should be the “primary” stakeholder. “But I also believe educators have a role in determining educational programming,” Cardona replied.

But who has the greater stake: parents who have their kids at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for at least 18 years, or educators whom have them eight hours a day at most, for only half a year for 13 years at most?

Let’s not forget Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. To paraphrase a recent New York Post headline, however bad the current situation is on our southern border, he seems committed to making things infinitely worse. “The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen ... should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them,” reads part of a seven-page memo Mayorkas sent out on Oct. 1. Translation: the individual broke our laws in coming here, but we shouldn’t enforce those laws. Scofflaw Mayorkas is untrustworthy to enforce any of our laws.

And then there is Joe Biden himself, who never ceases to appall. Remember those 13 U.S. troops killed by suicide bomber Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri Aug. 26? We’d held him in a prison at Bagram Air Base, one of several hundred ISIS fighters. But when Biden ordered our troops out, the Taliban took control of the prison and released everyone including him.

Biden did not specifically say: “turn Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri loose.” But he is the Commander in Chief and he is responsible for the chaos and bloodshed that followed the decision to leave Afghanistan. So the blood of those 13 troops is on his hands.

Not because Biden wanted them dead (hopefully), but his decisions as Commander in Chief got them killed. In short, Joe Biden mirrors those he’s hired, in this modern-day confederacy of dunces.

Gary Exelby is a reporter for The Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at

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