Thursday, October 24, 2013

Open Thread

I don't usually do this, but it looks like the comment thread on the last post is too long to display, so I'll start an Open Thread. Lots to talk about -- more school shootings, NSA spying revelations, ACA web site problems, the World Series, post-shutdown observations, drones, drugs, polls ...

Have at it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Million Vet March Yesterday

Republican leaders joined the Million Vet March yesterday, as the group vandalized government property, waved Confederate flags, and listened to speeches calling President Obama a Muslim and demanding that he "come out with his hands up."

A crowd converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday, pushing past barriers to protest the memorial’s closing under the government shutdown.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah were among the demonstrators, as were Texas Rep. Steve Stockman and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Cruz and Lee are among the tea party-backed lawmakers who refused to keep the government operating unless President Barack Obama agreed to defund the nation’s health care overhaul.

“Let me ask a simple question,” Cruz told the crowd of hundreds that gathered beginning at 9 a.m. “Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?”

Black metal barricades have lined the front of the memorial since the government closed Oct. 1. That’s when more than 300 National Park Service workers who staff and maintain the National Mall were furloughed. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee at D.C. memorial protest
According to the Washington Post, "U.S. Park Police estimated there were 100 to 200 protesters and said there were no arrests."

The memorials are closed, of course, because the federal government is closed. Erecting barricades is routine work that probably doesn't cost much of anything -- federal workers were given a half day, October 1st, for "shutdown activities," and that probably included erecting barricades, besides completing time sheets, shutting down servers, and hanging out the Closed sign.

CNN quotes a speech to the group:
"I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up," said Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group. Rallier tells Obama to 'put the Quran down'
These stupid people are protesting the highly visible signs of the government shutdown because they do not realize all the things the federal government does. Hundreds of thousands of people are working without pay, and hundreds of thousands more government employees are out of work, medical research is stopped, aid to hungry children, NTSB investigations, thousands of programs -- the President and US Trade Representative are missing a major trade negotiation meeting that could cost the country billions. The memorials and museums are a tiny part of it. By making a scene at the war memorial they may think they are "proving" that the President is disrespectful to veterans, but remember, only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor or someone designated by him can even introduce a bill into the House of Representatives to get the government open again: WATCH THIS [Fixed 10/14/13]

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Govt Shutdown a Week Later

Washington Post: For Boehner, surrender may be only way out of shutdown and debt-ceiling mess
As the government shutdown and the threat of a federal debt default begin to merge into a singular Washington crisis, the only way out for House Speaker John A. Boehner may be something he disparaged earlier this week as “unconditional surrender.”

More than a week into the shutdown and just days before the government is set to exhaust its borrowing authority, Boehner (R-Ohio) and the White House remain at a standoff with no solution in sight.

President Obama has consistently said he will not negotiate until the government reopens and the debt limit is raised.

Most of the political pressure has been on Boehner and his fellow House Republicans to fix the problem, and none of their options are attractive.
See also Gallup Poll: Republican Party Favorability Sinks to Record Low

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

ACA Takes Off, GOP Crashes Govt

Grover Norquist said "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Ninety-five percent of Republicans in Congress signed his pledge to reduce funding to the federal government, and they have been moving forward with the plan.

Today the halls of the federal agencies are dark and silent, the people's work is not getting done, as the Republican Party drowns the government.

Also today, the airwaves are brimming with talk about the new Affordable Care Act. The exchanges opened up today, you can now shop around and see what your options are. I have spoken to several people who are going to cut their health insurance costs in half. Last week I talked with an uninsured guy who was just going in to be tested for a debilitating nervous-system disorder -- he would have been uninsurable yesterday, today there is hope for him, even if the tests confirm his doctor's diagnosis. It is really going to be nice for a lot of people.

The Republicans disagree. They feel that affordable health care for Americans is so threatening, so heinous, that it is better to shut down the federal government than to provide access to it. As I write this, the House has passed four budgets, all of which de-fund affordable care, and sent them to the Senate, where there is no chance in hell it will pass. They know it will never pass the Senate, and they know the President will never sign it. This is irrational, expensive, time-wasting.

You might not feel it at first, unless you work for the government, and lots of our Washington-area readers do. A lot of government work happens behind the scenes, working with the economy, with regulations that protect the citizens, funding and conducting medical research, investigating fraud and white-collar crime, all kinds of things that you might not immediately miss.

The government does the things that private industry can't do, especially things that require impartiality and things that do not make a profit. Government success is not measured in stock dividends or profits, government is successful when people can live their lives in peace, prosperity, and safety. If Grover Norquist and the Tea Party and the NRA got their way, every American city would be like Mogadishu, controlled by armed gangs. Everybody complains about government but we're lucky to have it.

I don't see a way out of this. You know, don't you, that if they voted on the simple continuing resolution from the Senate it would pass. Even the majority of members of the House of Representatives would support it. This is a mess within the Republican Party, where pusillanimous whiners like John Boehner have to strike their tough-guy pose for the cameras because of challenges from the right in the upcoming primary elections. He won't allow a vote because a reasonable budget would pass, with Obamacare written into it. It's what the people want, it is even what Congress wants, it's what the President wants, but we're not going to get it.

The country is disgusted and the world is laughing at us. Our political process brings out the worst in people, it attracts those whose goal is self-aggrandizement, it invites corruption, and it is so complicated that nobody can really figure out what shell the pea is under. But it's as good as you can get. The populace is really in charge, we can only kick ourselves for electing these idiots in the first place.

Any bets on how long the government stays closed?

Oh, and in a couple of weeks the real fighting starts. Stay tuned.