Government Shutdown is Making U.S. an Object of Ridicule



English: US Capitol, Washington DC, the seat o...
English: US Capitol, Washington DC, the seat of government for the United States Congress. Nederlands: Het Capitool, de zetel van de volksvertegenwoordiging van de Verenigde Staten. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I am appalled by what’s happening. I freely confess I don’t know what will happen if this last beyond the 17th and we go into default. It could be anything from very little happening to a worldwide economic catastrophe culminating in a decade long Depression. If I were a legislator, I like to think I would want to avoid going into default where the unknowns are so perilous. But I do not believe I can count on the intelligence or judgment of those willing to shut down the government as a form of blackmail. It was irresponsible to begin with, and it has only become less moral, less ethical and less intelligent as the days have gone by.




James Pilant




Trudy Rubin: Shutdown repercussions | Opinion | McClatchy DC








How far we have come since the heady days of the 1990s, when eager civic activists from ex-communist and third-world countries looked to U.S. experts to show them how a multiparty system worked.Indeed, America\’s longtime allies are bewildered by a system where a small minority of legislators can hijack Congress. They also can\’t understand why Congress has to vote separately to authorize the borrowing of funds to pay for expenses it has already approved. Perhaps because no other modern democracy except Denmark has such a system.The commentary in friendly countries has been scathing.\”For a country that fancies itself the greatest democracy on Earth, the fact that a small band of outliers in one party can essentially shut down the federal government over a petty political brawl seems woefully undemocratic,\” Lee-Anne Goodman of Canadian Press told the Talking Points Memo blog. Le Monde columnist Alain Frachon told the New York Times that \”Washington is looking more like the Italian political system, with its permanent crises.\”David Usborne wrote in the British newspaper The Independent: \”America is indeed exceptional, at least in terms of its place in the global financial system,\” but \”in almost every other respect right now it is starting to look exceptionally silly.\” Even if a budget and debt-ceiling deal is completed in the next two weeks, he add …






via Trudy Rubin: Shutdown repercussions | Opinion | McClatchy DC.






From around the web.






From the web site, Newsworks.








For instance, the BBC intoned,

“That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth willingly

provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic

growth is astonishing….Even in the middle of its ongoing civil war,

the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers’

wages.” In western Europe, a think-tank scholar tweeted, “Next time you

blame the woes of developing nations on ‘poor governance,’ think about

how the U.S. government arrived at today.”






In France, the newspaper Le Monde assailed the “grotesque” shutdown, and aimed its editorial message at one of America’s founding fathers: “Jefferson, wake up! They’ve gone crazy!” In Germany, Der Spiegel Online declared, “A superpower has paralyzed itself,” and the business daily Handelsbatt depicted the Statue of Liberty in chains, capped by the headline, “The Blocked World Power.” In Spain, the El Pais newspaper marveled at America’s “suicidal madness.”






Granted, some of these reactions have a touch of schadenfreude,

taking pleasure in our misfortune. That’s especially true with the

French, who always love to tweak us, even while forgetting that if not

for America 69 years ago, they would’ve stayed under the Nazi heel. But

why give them an excuse to treat us as a laughingstock?






And the current scoffing spans the continents. In China, an

entertainer tweeted, “Chinese must be wondering – When will America

embrace real reform? How long can this system survive? Where is

America’s Gorbachev?” In China, a government-run news website said

the nation should be “on guard against spillover of irresponsible U.S.

politics.” In India, business executives told the Voice of America that

they couldn’t fathom how an advanced nation like America could allow its

government to close, and a college student in New Dehli said it was

“sad and shocking.” In the Philippines, an editorial writer asked, “How

did the world’s lone superpower come to such a sorry pass?” In Malaysia,

a news website ran the headline, “U.S. shutdown leaves the world

scratching its head,” and the story said that some Malaysians “had

trouble suppressing smirks.” And The Australian newspaper said that the shutdown “doesn’t say much for the budgetary process in the world’s largest economy.” And so on.






From the web site, Esquire.








In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected

the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been

Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible,

though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more

vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for

trees. But there has never been in a single Congress — or, more

precisely, in a single House of the Congress — a more lethal combination

of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory

than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal

government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous

Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a

law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health

insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a

law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on

the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also

happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the

United States. That is why the government of the United States is, in

large measure, closed this morning.

















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Fed Up With Stupid

This is an anonymous quote from Talking Points Memo –

I’m a lawyer. I go through security checkpoints all the time. Went through one at the local criminal courthouse this morning. They x-rayed my stuff, sent me through a metal detector, and then had me come back through it to pick up my stuff when they were done looking at it on the monitor. Done. 30 seconds. The lawyer’s line at the courthouse is ever-so-slightly less rigid than the general public line (if it’s obviously my belt buckle setting off the detector, they’ve never made me take it off; they’ve learned to accept that lawyers often keep calendars on their smartphones so we don’t have to check them before entering the building, though they check to make sure the ringer is off), but even the general public line is pretty much what we were used to pre-9/11. X ray machine. Metal detector. Wand if they can’t quickly figure out what’s setting off the detector. Pat downs only if you’re still setting off the detector and nothing’s visible. 45 seconds or a minute, tops. And you know, a rather substantial percentage of the people who go through the line to get into a criminal courthouse are people out on bail, some of whom are actual dangerous criminals. And a lot of the others are people who are witnesses to crimes whose presence is not exactly welcomed by the criminal element. Honestly, this new TSA genital-feeling stuff goes further than I’ve ever had to go through to even go into a *prison.* They cavity search prisoners for drugs and weapons, of course, but lawyers and other visitors? Not in my experience. Not in this northeastern state. Not unless they’re pretty damn sure you’re carrying contraband. And we’ve had, what, 3 attempted bombing incidents post-9/11? Out of how many scheduled flights? I just did the math. Over 150 *million* worldwide. That’s one attempt per 50 million flights.

The author wanted his identity hidden for fear of being placed on the no-fly list. It is unfortunate that his fear is fully justified. The capricious and unjust application of the no-fly lists is a well established fact. This is our America, where such persecution takes place for those the government (TSA) find inconvenient.

By the way, I’ve gone through the searches he is talking about. He describes them with perfect accuracy.

Let’s hear some more –

Profiling isn’t the answer either. The most ridiculous post-9/11 airport story I have seen involves an airport back in early ’02. I saw them stop and aggressively question a young middle eastern-looking man after he’d paid for a one-way ticket to San Francisco in cash. Sounds suspicious, right? Except that I’d been listening to him on his cell a few minutes before. My Hebrew is pretty bad, but I gathered enough to figure out he was an Israeli soldier on leave who had to fly to the west coast to visit some dying relative, not knowing when he was going to return. Sure enough, he turned up back at the gate 45 minutes later, clutching his Israeli passport, putting stuff back into his IDF-issued backpack, and cursing up a storm. I’ve heard similar stories from Sikhs, who evidently give off the “other” vibe enough to be forced into humiliating removals of their turbans every time they go to an airport. The TSA, at least at my local airport, has at least three corrupt officers. There’s evidently something broken in oversight. (changing minor details in the following) I have a client who had a bottle of DEA-scheduled medication (she’s epileptic) confiscated from her despite showing a legitimate doctor’s prescription (forcing her to have to find an English-speaking hospital the moment she got to France to get a new prescription to avoid having seizures.) Upon follow up, there was no record of the confiscation whatsoever. Of course, I can’t subpoena the videotapes for national security reasons. There’s absolutely no question in my mind that the TSA guys realized that a bottle of a hundred downers was worth quite a bit on the street, and they decided to take it from her. Simple as that. This is, coincidentally, the same airport where a TSA officer was recently fired for planting baggies of white powder into the luggage of attractive women so he could take them to the back room and chat them up. It wasn’t until one of the women went to the press that any investigation whatsoever was done.

He’s right. We need to put this organization in its place. That organization’s job is serving the public not acting as a pretend rogue intelligence agency. We already have incompetent intelligence agencies. Another one would be superfluous.

Do we have to subject ourselves to the self important pronouncements of everyone from the President on down, who assert that if we are only willing to give up our dignity we will be protected from the terrorists? Actually, that’s not true. What they assert is that there is nothing we can do that can prevent attack. It is inevitable. These measures only reduce the probability. You see, there is no measure that can be considered enough, no defense that does not require strengthening, no amount of money sufficient to make us secure. That is the real agenda. You are helpless and we know what’s best for you.

James Pilant