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<p>The sun begins to set against the Capitol dome as the budget battle continues on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 in Washington.</p>

The sun begins to set against the Capitol dome as the budget battle continues on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 in Washington.

Shut ‘er down!

So they pulled the trigger. For the first time in 17 years, the Congress of the United States, an institution blighted by partisanship and self-loathing, has decided to shut down the government.

The decision was handed to us by a relatively small cadre of hard-core conservatives who believe it is better to shut down the government than provide private health insurance to America’s poor. Well done, Congress! Way to ignore a law passed by your own selves and affirmed in a national election and by the Supreme Court!

People will lose paychecks or benefits or the ability to visit Yosemite National Park on its birthday Tuesday - happy birthday, Yosemite! They may have to push back medical care or mortgage payments or electric bills. Rest assured, though, that paychecks for the very same congressmen and women who made this mess will not be interrupted. Shutting down gubmint is one thing. Cutting off your own pay, quite another.

We don’t know if the shutdown will still be in place by the time you read this. It’s hard to spot signs of intelligent life among the posturing peacocks who hate the President and anything he supports, but hope springs eternal.

Hey, if you thought this economy-rattling, self-imposed punishment was fun, just wait until later this month when our Congress takes up the debt ceiling debate. Yes, the “full faith and credit” of the United States is up for grabs. Again, some lawmakers will try to burn the U.S. and world economies to the ground. And they may well succeed.

You’re still talking about Obamacare, right?

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — on the first leg of his inevitable book tour/failed presidential bid — vowed to speak until he could no longer stand, Jimmy Stewart-style. Only Jimmy Stewart was crusading for the people over the powerful, and Cruz was lusting for the days when insurance companies could deny you coverage for preexisting conditions, put lifetime caps on your coverage and figure out other devious ways to fulfill the Insurance Industry Business Model, i.e. collect your premiums and never pay out when you need help.

“This grand experiment is simply not working. It is time to make D.C. listen,” Cruz said. We’re pretty sure he was talking about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but that also nicely describes the Republican view of our 237-year dalliance into representative government, so who can know for sure?

Hey, Republicans! Look!

A shiny object!

It’s pretty bad when Republican leaders are the ones trying to coax the radicals off the warpath. House Speaker John Boehner dangled a Christmas tree of incentives before his obstreperous caucus, if only they’d keep the government running and threaten to ruin the country’s credit rating instead. Boehner’s idea would be to fold like a chair at a church potluck on the continuing resolution, thus avoiding a shutdown, but then make a stand on a bill to increase the debt ceiling. That bill would include a host of Republican wet-dream material, from the Keystone XL pipeline, abolishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (and its attendant consumer financial protections, presumably), cuts to civil service pensions, increasing offshore oil drilling and blocking rules for carbon pollution. It’s pretty much everything but outlawing abortion, renaming Washington, D.C. for Ronald Reagan and putting Jesus Christ on the $20 bill. (“In me we trust!”)

But the rambunctious radicals didn’t go for it, probably fearing that the surrender tactic would send the signal they were giving up.

Let’s send this guy to D.C. instead!

Nevada state Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, in a profile in the Las Vegas Sun, told reporter Andrew Doughman that it’s his respect for the Constitution that propels him as he mounts a bid for lieutenant governor of Nevada. (It certainly isn’t the glamour of the job, which of course has no glamour and is only a part-time job.) But we think he’s really serious about it: How else would a Republican Mormon business lawyer and former Boy Scout find himself championing medical marijuana dispensaries during the 2013 Legislature? Because voters put it in the state constitution back in 2000, that’s how!

“The same thing that motivated me as a state senator motivates me now as I run for lieutenant governor — a profound respect for the U.S. Constitution, the Nevada Constitution and the systems of government that are created under those seminal documents,” Hutchison said. Sadly, under the Nevada Constitution, the lieutenant governor has but two duties: Preside over the state Senate for the four months every other year it’s in session and take over for the governor if he’s unable to discharge the duties of his office. Sounds like we need this guy in Washington, D.C., where we’re sure his profound respect for the Constitution and the system of government created thereunder would prevent him from shutting down the government, right?