Tonight I had a chance to see an early screening of the new movie, Captain Phillips, based on the true story of the ship captain freed by Navy Seals after being taken hostage by Somali pirates. The story provides a good illustration of the problem faced by hostage-takers who fail to get their prisoner to a safe location. If they give up the hostage, they risk being killed. If they kill the hostage, they will almost certainly be killed or captured. And if they try to bargain for the hostage's release, they still face the difficulty of making a clean escape. In other words, at some point even they started to realize that they couldn't win.

Tonight was the same night that House Republicans refused to bring to the floor a bill that would continue to fund the government, without adding some new conditions to achieve objectives they cannot achieve legislatively (because they will be blocked by the Senate and the President). The chief condition of course being the delay or dismantling of Obamacare. House Republicans have failed to keep their hostage safe in these negotiations. For although they may be able (at least temporarily) to demonstrate their power by shutting down the government, one thing they cannot acieve by these tactics is delay Obamacare, which is taking effect on October 1 even while the rest of the government is shut down. Republicans are thus shooting their own hostage without being able to achieve their principal objective, a strategy that seems even more defective than the one employed by the failed group of Somali pirates in the movie.