Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

In the Mad House


Our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.

— Lewis Strauss, Speech on atomic energy (1954)

Albert Einstein once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Republicans in the House would disagree with Mr. Einstein. They do it to make sure that the country knows what they are thinking.  They do not consider themselves to be insane. Some of us do.

The House of Representatives has devoted an astonishing number of hours to debating and trying to repeal what is commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” As of this writing, since becoming law on March 23, 2010, the House has voted 37 times to modify or completely abolish it.  The House deserves plaudits for its persistence if not its wisdom. Its persistence may be seen by some as a waste of the legislative body’s time but, as it turned out, those votes did not take away from its attention to other legislative matters since when not voting on health care the House was doing nothing of substantive significance. Since the vote to repeal or modify health care has been the most significant action in the House for many months and an activity of which, at least, the Republican members of that body are most proud, it was not surprising to hear House Speaker John Boehner cheerfully explain on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “You’re going to see a lot more [votes to thwart Obamacare].” Given that somewhat dismal prospect (if one is not numbered among those who find that a productive use of the political body’s skills) it was reassuring to learn that there is one member of the House able to address something other than health care. That person is Marsha Blackburn (R. Tenn.).

The issue that Ms. Blackburn has demonstrated an interest in addressing is the movement of hot air.  Since that is her interest and since she is a member of Congress the immediate assumption is that she wanted to address the verbal flatulence produced by that body. That was not, sadly, the case.   The hot air that concerns her is the hot air that is circulated by the ceiling fan and it is that device that concerns her.

Ms. Blackburn’s interest in the topic was aroused because the Environmental Protection Agency has come out with 101 pages of regulations with the catchy name of “2013-03-08 Energy Conservation Standards Rulemaking Framework Document for Ceiling Fans and Ceiling Fan Light Kits Lights RIN: 1904-AC87.” Regulations pertaining to ceiling fans and their lights have not been updated since 2005. Since there is a greater awareness of the need for efficiency in all manner of things electric, it is no surprise that the proposed standards are more conservative than the existing standards and are designed to make the fans more efficient. Because the House has spent so much time on repealing the unrepealable, Ms. Blackburn has had adequate time to read the proposed regulations and has formed an opinion about them that she recently shared on the floor of the House.

A search of the Internet fails to disclose whether or not she believes in the existence of climate change but what her remarks make abundantly clear is that she does not like government regulations. Her particular concern is that if enacted, the regulations will drive up the price of fans thus harming the consumer even if helping the environment.  In a speech on the House floor she said:  “First, they [the government of which she’s a part] came for our healthcare, then they took away our light bulbs, and raided our nation’s most iconic guitar company-now they are coming after our ceiling fans.”   (The guitar raid to which she referred was a raid on Tennessee’s “Gibson Guitar Corp.” for alleged violations of the Lacy Act.) Bringing the proposed regulations to our attention was a great service since there is an outside chance that without her words, many of us would have completely overlooked the 101 pages in question.

Thanks to Ms. Blackburn’s attentiveness, the ceiling fan is protected from the EPA.  She and Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) added an amendment to the fiscal year 2014 energy-and-water appropriations bill that will prevent the Energy Department from using any money in that bill to implement or enforce energy efficient standards for ceiling fans and ceiling fan light kits.    That is great news and having dispensed with that issue, Ms. Blackburn and Mr. Rokita can rejoin their colleagues in focusing their attention on Obamacare.  In celebration of their success it would be nice if they could schedule a vote to repeal Obamacare before the five-week recess that begins August 3 and follows, by three weeks, the Fourth of July recess.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 28, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Inside the Invisible Government; War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump
Andrew Levine
The Hillary Era is Coming: Worry!
Gary Leupp
Seven World-Historical Achievements of the Iraq Invasion of 2003
Paul Street
Standing Rock Water-Protectors Waterboarded While the Cleveland Indians Romped
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel: 1984 Everlasting
Michael Brenner
American Foreign Policy in the Post-Trump Era
Luciana Bohne
Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam
Robert Hunziker
The Political Era of Climate Refugees
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution was an Atrocity
Pete Dolack
Work Harder So Speculators Can Get More
Joyce Nelson
Canadians Launch Constitutional Challenge Against CETA
John Laforge
US Uranium Weapons Have Been Used in Syria
Paul Edwards
The Vision Thing ’16
Arshad Khan
Hillary, Trump and Sartre: How Existentialism Disrobes the Major Presidential Candidates
Peter Lee
It’s ON! Between Duterte and America
Joseph Grosso
Starchitects in the City: Vanity Fair and Gentrification
Patrick Carr
Economic Racial Disparity in North Carolina
David Swanson
Public vs. Media on War
Chris Gilbert
Demo Derby in Venezuela: The Left’s New Freewheeling Politics
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution Was an Atrocity
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Russell Mokhiber
Lucifer’s Banker: Bradley Birkenfeld on Corporate Crime in America
Ron Jacobs
Death to the Fascist Insect! The SLA and the Cops
Cesar Chelala
Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States
Jack Smith
And the Winner Is….
Ken Knabb
Beyond Voting: the Limits of Electoral Politics
Matt Peppe
An Alternate Narrative on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
James Rothenberg
Water Under the Bridge
Louis Yako
Remembering Rasul Gamzatov: The Poet of the People
Brian Cloughley
The US, NATO and the Pope
Louis Proyect
The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake
Martin Billheimer
Now and Then, Ancient Sorceries
October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat