Current Trends

Aside from no open national parks, national monuments, famous land marks barred to the general public leaching critical tourism dollars away from the fragile, just recovering American economy, as their surrounding businesses selling food and tourist wears are no longer open, campers told to pack up and vacate our beloved national forest camp grounds, vacationers from far and wide, across the nation or across the globe told they can’t go up to iconic things like the statue of liberty, forget if it’s the only chance you may ever have, there are the more pressingly urgent financial issues. Next contributing to the astounding money drain are the other 800,000 government workers furloughed; beyond nuisances in cashing some checks, people who filed for tax extensions nervously awaiting their refund, an inability to obtain a passport, families impacted by FHA backed mortgages either not begun or stuck in the processing pipeline leaving them in limbo, remains all this lost work productivity, all the business our United States government does with entities from foreign countries to domestic, private contractors come to a screeching halt, a 160 million dollar a day grinding halt, detrimental to everyone. Then come the real, tangible and sometimes dangerous, effects rippling across the country, indeed effecting U.S. operated anything overseas because congressional members, exclusively tea party republicans, have lost sight of what’s important, let the government actually shut down.  Including but not limited to, after the obvious and somewhat flamboyant warnings on national security, uncertainty about pay for military families, potential cut off for veterans’ benefits by November 1, if this is not resolved, there are the lack of inspections to food domestic and imported before it hits your grocery store, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. How about the workers called back to the CDC and the FDA to deal with a salmonella outbreak and a proving to be deadly diet supplement causing a need for liver transplants, though still without paycheck, crucial research into diseases, cures, treatments not being conducted for “lack” of  money to pay them to do it. A cemetery in France honoring U.S. soldiers killed during World II closed while the French laugh in dismay at why, instead, visiting a cemetery there commemorating German soldiers. And as the shutdown drags on the negatives just keep piling up.

One day into the shutdown, here at home, news outlets were showing video from the national mall, site of the World War II memorial; veterans who fought for this country unable to see their monument past the barricades. This particular commemorative space that became a labor of love and a priority long overdue, rushed to completion specifically so those dying members of the World War II generation might see a physical testament to their sacrifice like others who’ve fought in war, served their nation via the military in later years, already possessing a place of remembrance there, like the Vietnam memorial wall and others.  These veterans, many of whom were transported to see said monument, said representation of their significant contribution, directly because of donations, charity organized honor flights, don’t have the resources to go any other way, don’t have the ability to arrange the type of flight they require to accommodate their medical equipment, flights taking a noticeable amount of preparation and planning that cannot be easily rescheduled. Luckily for the reported on honor flight participants, persons in congress gladly moved the barricades for them and they have since been largely ignored by the public particularly veterans. Large piles of trash, the resulting stench, no so much. Yes honor flights have continued undeterred; however not without trepidation, looming uncertainty flyers could be prevented from seeing, taking part in this once and a lifetime experience they earned. Though other veterans, park goers are not so fortunate encountering padlocks and guards present to keep them out. Worse, when republicans who voted for the shutdown began to hear about the problem, sure, some moved the barricades, The House attempted to fast track passing a bill to fund national parks, keep them open for veterans sakes, but one decided to accost a national park worker, yelling, screaming, telling her she ought to be ashamed of herself for denying said veterans entrance to one closed park, rather than realize the government shutdown was at fault, not someone doing their job, without pay it might be added. Further this gentleman, if he can be called such a thing, did this in full view of a camera, simultaneously ignoring another person in the vicinity who identified himself as a furloughed federal worker calling out senate and house bodies for not doing their jobs so he can do his. It really is a no brainer regarding who actually should be ashamed of themselves, beginning with tea party members, supporters and anyone who thought the shutdown was a good idea; unfortunately try telling that to exactly the people who need to hear it, it would only fall on deaf ears. Apparently they would prefer to listen to Ted Cruz read Green Eggs and Ham, among several random things amounting to a 21 hour filibuster so they can say see, we can stop Obama care, stop everyone from having healthcare, stop the steps toward a more nationalized system that would solve huge portions of the fiscal nightmare stalling an actual budget in coming years. Never mind enrollment for the Affordable Care exchanges rolled out right on schedule October 1.\

Day 2 of the shutdown it was the unconscionable plight of sick kids with cancer whose experimental drugs were cut off, them kicked out of possibly lifesaving drug trials for “lack” of funding to the NIH (national institutes of health), who among other things run research trials on new, cutting edge drugs treating devastating diseases like cancer; events again reported by an increasingly incensed news media. Following 2 solid days of bad press, pleading families and disgruntled Americans, came House of Representatives efforts to fund the government piecemeal approving funding for both national parks and the NIH in light of recent developments; actions stonewalled by the Senate and for good reason, in favor of opening the whole government, getting back to doing what the American people elected them to do, running the country, as opposed to running it into the ground. Still news outlets and analysts had the nerve to point to a video clip of Senate majority leader Harry Reid asking why would we want to do that, distorting the context, calling it a gaffe, applying it to, implying he was asking why we would want to fund drugs for extremely sick kids, instead of asking why would we want to fund the government only in parts rather than do a budget, not even a budget per say, simply a continuing resolution, open the government and move on to discussing the raise of the debt ceiling in order to avoid defaulting on our credit, continue paying our bills, not the least of which are the entitlements owed to senior citizens, veterans and the disabled. It wasn’t a gaffe; it was a reasonable question asked to some of the most unreasonable people in government. Notice too it was only after the media got ahold of these stories that House members tried to rectify what they had caused and only partly at that; it’s as if most members of the tea party are toddlers who didn’t get their way so decided to shut down the government with no comprehensive understanding whatsoever of what that entails, no clue exactly what it impacts, not even a rudimentary grasp on precisely what the government does, what safeguards, services it provides and how those facilitate the functioning of a country. It’s like these persons qualified to serve in our government, elected to be there are just now getting a practical crash course in why we have national parks and keep them open, what the NIH does period, ignorant that drug trials came out of there, why we enacted programs like and head start in the first place, what some of the taxpayer dollars, gargantuan budgets are put toward. They are only just within the last few days absorbing what the same budget they are so interested in cutting, the government they are so interested in shrinking rightly gives to its people. More than things they should already have enough of a civics, social studies, government affairs, fundamentals of politics, background to comprehend, but things they should have damn well found out before pushing to shut down an entity as important as the, any national government.

 And while kids with cancer already in a trial got their funding and their medication, forging whether the interruption could cost a child their life, by day 11 of the shutdown ABC news was doing a story of a young girl unable to get into a trial to attempt to irradiate her rare form of leukemia, because the NIH can no longer accept new patients during the duration of the shutdown; at the same time additional things effecting the nation’s most precious and most vulnerable citizens, children, are virtually ignored. Funding for WIC (women infants and children) providing nutritious food and formula for babies and toddlers has been cut off in certain areas, head start closed meaning preschool children have nowhere to go for learning enrichment and at least one healthy meal per day, while republicans a-la Eric Cantor call for congress, the public to understand funding the things, i.e. sections of the government, we agree on. Except the government doesn’t run on only concepts we agree on; it has to function on things needed to operate the country as a whole. A saving grace for some social programs were private donations translating into continued head start, the opening of the popular Ford’s theater; the end of week 2 in shutdown mode saw state governments opening select national, monuments, parks, go to tourist attractions, picking up the tab along the way. By now it’s completely unsurprising, if yet still appalling, considering on day 9 post shutdown stalemate news programs were airing perhaps the singularly most shameful story to originate from what many are calling madness; stoppage of the so called death gratuity, death benefit in the amount of $100,000 to soldiers families who were killed in action, given that they might bury their dead loved one in relative peace, a civilian charity contracted to close this unimaginable gap. Concurrently workers at one branch of the social security administration were seeing their pay cut in half complete with letters to be forwarded to their creditors asking them to be nice to aforementioned employees, essentially begging those creditors regarding deferment, delaying payments or suspending consequences for unpaid bills, like that would happen anywhere outside Washington, never mind that it shouldn’t happen either inside Washington or out of it. You pay your bills on time; that’s what people are expected to do. Washington really is no strange anomaly, only tea party alternate reality members pretend it’s any different while jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States to prove a point, to supposedly stand up to Washington and the way it purportedly does things; though democrats, alternative parties have never closed the government, flirted with default to do it.      

Remember both sides are not fighting, haggling over budgetary matters, ironically not funding for food stamps, welfare programs like TANF, general relief, allocations for WIC, not duking it out over cost of living raises for social security, controlling the costs of Medicare, complaining about monies spent on clean energy, funding for science entities conservatives view to be wasteful; republicans forced a shutdown of the entire American national government over the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obama care, seeking to delay or change it in some way. However shutting down the government to stop legislation called catastrophic wouldn’t appear so outlandish if their findings weren’t based on ignorance, misinformation, if The House hadn’t already voted upwards of 4 dozen times, that’s over 40 times, to repeal the act to no avail; an act passed by the legislative process and upheld by the supreme court, in case they have forgotten.  Hints why there is no negotiation on the part of the President, willingness to work with representatives supposedly representing their district, the people who voted for them, because it was a bill passed into law by the legislative bodies of this great nation; it is by virtue of the legal process the law of the land. Those identical individuals opposing it, virtually anything this democratic president does, are the very same, largely tea party republicans, possessing greater interest in characterizing all health options for women as promiscuous women wanting government to pay for their birth control so they can have gratuitous amounts of sex sans consequences, instead of treating their medical conditions or preventing them from ending up on demonized welfare supporting a child they can’t afford. Almost twin minded republicans who couch requiring all employers to offer all reproductive services, including abortion and the birth control pill, to women as a battle for religious freedom, impugning on religious employers’ freedom, rather than the equal access mandated under the constitution. So called representatives who claim not to know how old the earth is, going beyond beginning fights for teaching creationism in school, to rejecting key, unrelated parts of longstanding science; thus stopping sound environmental policy that ensures we have a planet to live on, running the serious risk of returning us to the scientific dark ages by defunding the NSF (national science foundation). And all this is when they aren’t trying to defund the department of education, eliminate social security, instead of approaching real budget reform, focusing on what the American people deem more important, jobs and the economy. They are willing to funnel unnecessary uncertainty into it; poking at democrats saying in a child’s sing song, taunting voice “you won’t negotiate it’s your fault,” expecting the American people to fall for it and wonder why there isn’t any, negotiation. We’re not, falling for it.

No, counter to doing a deal, counter to if you’re going to begin a fight at least begin it concerning an on topic, in this instance budget, grievance, in addition to a useless filibuster, a ranting congressman who thought it was appropriate to accost a park worker doing a job for which, thanks in part to him she was not getting paid, you have a member of congress whining about the lack of towels in the congressional membership gym, stating they pay a fee to utilize it and, “we are doing our own laundry down there.” Except oh wait, average American’s do their laundry every day, not to mention, since there is a government shutdown, a gym congressional or otherwise, should not be open for business, because it is non-essential. Here’s a novel idea floated, and not for the first time, shut down the gym, cut off all congressional pay until the government is reopened and see how fast the problem gets resolved, how likely they are to pick a meaningless fight, huff and puff threatening to disrupt government operation. Similarly 99% of us would get fired from our jobs if we were caught napping when we were supposed to be working; same holds true if our boss found video of us on Facebook, related social media showing us napping through our shift, especially if it went viral. So how is it on day 4 of the shutdown ABC News managed to obtain a congressional video depicting a member giving a speech while another one’s head is drooping, they are obviously falling asleep, commented on by nearly every major news and print media source and this person remains in their job or that securities and exchange commission workers were caught viewing porn as much as 8 hours per day, 17 of 33 managing to keep their employment, because Washington is irrevocably broken. Still instead of fixing it with our ballot choices, demanding action be taken about real issues, we elect people like Ted Cruz who would rather fight an unrealistic fight over giving all 300 million American citizens healthcare than going after the person who signed off on the making of presidential dollar coins no one wants and has cost thousands to store, calling out the bureau of printing and engraving for their disastrous, not to mention expensive, new $100 bills some of which now have to be destroyed at added cost due to too much ink, not enough testing, how about calling out his fellow colleagues on the $20 million price tag for pastries/coffee served to congress over the course of a year. Government money, tax payer dollars wasted that didn’t have to be, that could go toward the havoc supposedly coming due to the full implementation of Obama care, could go to pay down the deficit he, his cohorts claim to be concerned about.

Yet true to form genuine public servants, unpaid and unappreciated didn’t hesitate to do their sworn duty on the day a woman tried to drive her car through not one but two barriers outside the White House, then the US capitol building; when police in S.W.A.T. like gear saw potential members of congress running for safety, possibly their lives they asked are you a member of congress, if they said yes, asked for identification and told them to remove the pins they wear because they could be a target. They didn’t either ignore the people in business suites assuming they were members, not caring if they were attacked, they didn’t use it as an opportunity to accost or bombard them with questions about where’s my blankety-blank paycheck, discriminating between those who voted for the shutdown and those who didn’t when deciding to protect them or not, warn them of potential danger or not. No, once they were adequately identified as a member of congress they were simply warned to take off their pin, a glaring symbol of who they were, and get to safety, an example of consummate professionalism. If only there were some of that in the Republican Party today. And of course there was an 11th hour deal done, calamitous default avoided but not without lasting consequences, major hits to already lagging economic growth, the disbelief of others around the world too many whom we owe money to, too many who regularly lend money to us, who may not be near as willing into the future. This has been a blow to businesses who can’t plan, invest, hire or expand because they have no idea what is coming down the pike, when the next bout of crazy will come out of Washington; it has been a devastating blow to consumer confidence right before the holiday shopping season. Yes let’s all hail Mr. Cruz as a hero for standing up to Washington instead of the wing nut who derailed it in the worst of ways. The resounding chorus of the American people: I don’t think so.