As virtually everyone knows by now, there are significant threats of a government shutdown in the US. The basic guts around it is that the US government will run out of funds for daily operations as no appropriations bill has been passed (as of yet). The reason there is no appropriations bill passed is because the GOP wants to defund the Affordable Care Act, and therefore makes defunding it one of the strings it has attached to get what it wants. And there is also the debt ceiling on the way.
Do I agree that the above is irresponsible, petty, partisan, reckless, and obstructionist? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. But guess what, it is perfectly legal. Article 1, Section 5 of the United States Constitution says (in part) the following:
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.
In other words, filibusters, refusing to fund the government, and so on, are all allowed by the rules the two Houses of the United.
Therefore, this means that another takeaway from the (likely) US Government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis is that the rules of operation should be amended to prevent the above obstructionism and hostage-taking from being allowed to occur.
I’ve found two quotes in the blogosphere, and they basically summarize my view of the Tea Party, Rand, and the GOP.
I don’t know who came up the first, but I found versions of it at both Dispatches from the Culture Wars and at DAMMIT JANET!:
A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate that holds a dozen cookies. The CEO grabs 11 cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, “Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie.”
I’m pretty sure that the other one comes from someone named John Rogers, writing at the blog Kung Fu Monkey:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
The so–called “family values” of GOP presidential candidates are getting worse over time. This chart from Salon is instructive.
Nothing more to say, really.
Today is NARAL Pro–Choice America’s Blog for Choice Day. For the third consecutive year, I am participating.
This year’s topic is: “Given the anti–choice gains in the states and Congress, are you concerned about choice in 2011?”
The answer to that question is complex. Abortion, as it gets people riled and worked up, serves as an excellent motivator for Republican voters, as well as a fundraising tool. Since politicians will eventually learn from losing, it is unlikely that anti–choicers in the US Congress will try to eliminate such an excellent political tool. Indeed, they had complete control of the federal government for six years and only passed the PBABA, which didn’t prevent a single abortion. In addition, any ban would also have to get through the Senate and past Obama’s veto pen. For these reasons, the chance of anti–choicers making a serious attempt to ban abortion is pretty unlikely. It’s far more likely that they’ll just throw table scraps at anti–choicers, try passing an analogue to the PBABA, and make a lot of noise about abortion to keep their supporters worked up. The GOP will gladly have people continue to believe that they intend to ban abortion, however.
On the state level it is different. I agree with Melissa McEwan that the real access issues will be at the state level. There anti–choice activists will try anything to eliminate any pretense of reproductive rights. They will attempt to add arbitrary exclusions that retain a nominal right to abortion, while throwing obstacles that add serious impediments to access. They might even go after contraception as well. And the faux minimalists on SCOTUS will likely uphold most of the restrictions. It would be a kind of incrementalism, slowly eating away at reproductive rights like rust or tin pest go after metal. The end result could well be a regime where abortion rights nominally exist but are completely gutted of meaning and impact.
So in short, there are reasons to be concerned at the state level, and far less so federally.
American evangelical Mark Noll’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, has one of the most memorable opening lines of any book I’ve ever read. That memorable line is: “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” The thesis of the book is not that American evangelical Christians are stupid, but rather the pervasive anti–intellectualism that permeates the movement. The result is that gut feelings and truthiness are trusted more than education; that “God did it” is always the best explanation; that the “man on the street” always knows better than the experts. Where independent thought is discouraged as Rushbo, Bam Bam, and the (likely hypocritical) pastor bleating from the pulpit do the thinking for you.
With this in mind, I believe that we have found the primary explanation for why students are leaving the United States Republican Party in droves (via). Nils August Andresen’s series of posts covers this. He considers it not to be due to students becoming more leftist. He also discounts the theory that it is due to indoctrination of students by liberal professors (correctly; there is no evidence that academic freedom is being threatened, and claims otherwise or of indoctrination are just whining by the alternate reality people). Rather, he attributes it to students being repelled by the anti–intellectualism and hostility to science that is within the GOP; that is, the rise of the Religious Right. It wasn’t always this way: in the 1950s, for example, academia was mostly Republican.
It doesn’t have to remain this way; a rational party serves as a necessary counterweight to the other party. When both parties are rational, everyone benefits, as the foolish excesses of both the left and right are avoided.
Clearly, the scandal of the Republican mind is that there is (no longer) much of a Republican mind.
As pretty much everyone knows by now, the United States had a general election yesterday. The Republican Party took the House of Representatives, but the Democrats retain the Senate, but with a smaller majority.
I don’t think the Republicans will really accomplish much of anything. They do not control the Senate and there is Obama’s veto power, so no significant agenda will be advanced. Basically, the likeliest results is basically a lot of keeping things the way they are. The GOP is not going to make a serious attempt at cutting government spending because they have no plans to do so. Their rhetoric on the matter is hollow because they always exempt the biggest financial black holes on the US budget. It’s easy to simply be against the government when out of power, but now that they control the purse strings they’ll have to do something. Nor do I think they will fail to increase the US’s debt ceiling. They might talk a lot about doing it but when the time comes to govern they’ll increase the ceiling rather than cause a default.
Several extremist Tea Party candidates lost. I’m especially glad that Christine O’Donnell lost. She and other lunatics probably kept the Senate in Democratic hands. It looks as if Sarah Palin’s chances of being the GOP presidential nominee in 2012 went down a bit, if she is serious about running. Her own chosen candidate could lose in her own state.
In other news, California unfortunately failed to legalize marijuana and Iowa had its pro–marriage equality judges thrown out. But at least California moved closer to getting rid of gerrymandering.