Thursday, October 17, 2013

What We've Learned in the Last Sixteen Days

This is the end
Beautiful Friend
This is the end
my only friend, the end
of our elaborate plans, the end...

by Tony Jackson, Ben Roberts, and Aaron D'Arcy; The Doors rendition of the lyrics are currently playing over and over in the brains of United States Senators, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.

Well, at least until January 15, 2014. That is when this "deal" between the suddenly steely nerved democrats and the shattered fragments of the republican party ends.

We've learned several things in the last sixteen days, many of them are not the least bit hopeful.

Number one is that Standard and Poors' economists estimate the government shutdown, engineered by the tea party wing of the republican party, cost the economy an estimated $24 billion and took a 0.6% chunk out of the 4th quarter GDP growth. This from a gang of werewolves who claim they want to cut back on government spending in order to improve the economy.

Number two, it proved without a doubt there is no longer one republican party. The entire GOP has splintered into at least three groups. The tea party is one, the traditionalists are another, and then there is the religious right. It has become increasingly clear they hate each other almost as much as they despise Barack Obama. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's primary opponent, who is straight from the dark heart of the tea party, has already issued a press release stating, McConnell, "sold out conservatives," because he brokered the deal to save the economy with Harry Reid. In other words, he conspired with the enemy. On the other end of the spectrum, even before the entire sordid affair began, John McCain called linking passage of a budget to the defunding of Obamacare a, "fool's errand."  North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said it was the "stupidest idea I've ever heard off." 

Number three, while the republicans took the biggest hit in the polls, Obama said it best this morning when he looked at television cameras and stated, "there are no winners here." The GOP approval rating is at an all time low, but the same is true for the entire congress. One poll showed 60% of Americans want to fire everyone who now holds a seat in either the House or Senate. If you're an incumbent, no matter what the party, you might want to start thinking about new career opportunities.

Number four, the republicans utterly failed in what amounted to an act of political extortion. It was indeed, "a fool's errand." Their popularity sank like a stone, they managed to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work for 16 days, the economy took a huge hit, and in the end, they got one minor concession from democrats. In the meantime, the ACA actually grew in popularity despite a tangled and maddening web of technical failures during its start up and the president's approval ratings held steady or went up by a couple of points depending on which poll you were reading.

Number five, the president finally found the backbone to stand up to that savage pack of baying hounds. While the GOP's traditionalists could see disaster looming, the freshly minted tea party hacks blundered ahead assuming the president would cave into their demands if they just acted rabid enough. As a whole, they displayed a complete lack of understanding of, not only how things really work, but what happens when you threaten a man who has nothing more to lose. Did they not know the president can't run again? Not only did he have the best hand at the table to begin with, but he had absolutely no fear of going all in, because for him the whole poker game ends in January of 2017, no matter what happens right now. Ultimately the result was, for the second time in 12 months, the republicans got their asses kicked by Barack H. Obama.

Number six, we found out, Ted Cruz is certifiably insane. From the very beginning this hasn't been about jobs, the economy, the government, or even Obamacare--it has been all about him. He had to have known the numbers from the very outset. For God's sake even Princeton grads can count. Given that knowledge, one has to assume he either thought an armed public would rise up and support him in vast numbers--a sort of Cruzian coup de'etat--or democrats in the Senate and Barack Obama himself would yield to his superior intellect and say something like, oops we were wrong. We're sorry--here, run the place while we're in a time out.

The sham filibuster was the most lewd and garish display of egotism ever seen by the American body politic. By the time he bought the tennis shoes he stood in to deliver it, he knew the votes would never be there. He also knew Senate rules had limited the debate. But there he was, yammering away for no other reason than the entire shutdown debacle was his moment in the spotlight and by God he was going exploit it to the maximum. When asked about his party's falling poll numbers a few days ago, he simply refused to believe them. Even yesterday the delusions persisted when he claimed if Senate republicans had stood by the members of the House, rather than fighting among themselves, the outcome would have been, "very, very different."

How could it have been? Does the man think the laws of basic math will change just because he wants them to? Is the word veto beyond his comprehension? Frighteningly, the answer to both questions is probably yes.

The final vote in the Senate to stop the madness, at least temporarily, was 81-18. The House vote was 285-144. That means 18 United States Senators and 144 Representatives voted in favor of defaulting on every outstanding government loan and putting not only the national economy, but the finances of almost the entire world into a tail spin, simply because they loathe Barack Obama.

Now there is statesmanship.

So what happens in January? You would think the tea party just learned a hard lesson and wouldn't waste every one's time and money with another hopeless banzai charge. After all, the democratic majority in the Senate won't magically disappear between now and then and Barack Obama will still be sitting in the oval office. Unfortunately, by now it should be painfully obvious to everyone, these thugs don't think like the rest of us. Before the budget nightmare even began they'd voted to repeal Obamacare 40 plus times while knowing each and every one of those attempts would go no where. No, you can't count on logic, common sense, or even sanity when it comes to some of these dreadful clowns.

That would be the seventh thing we've learned in the last few weeks.

We'd all do well to remember it in November of 2014.

Next stop--immigration reform.

sic vita est


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