Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Clips of the Week

Jon and Stephen were off for the week, but fortunately last week's episodes have more than enough great material for two Saturday Clips of the Week posts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why can't we be friends?

Yesterday, President Obama told it like it is and called on the GOP to change tactics.

The question now facing our country is whether or not Democrats and Republicans can come together before the new budget and debt ceiling deadlines hit and whether or not they can come together on the pressing issues of comprehensive immigration reform and passing a farm bill. The possibility of this happening depends on eliminating, or at least reducing, the barriers to such compromise, so what are these barriers?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A dramatic plan for change

In case you've been living under a rock, here's the good news. Yesterday, a deal was finally made and the US government is open for business. Additionally we've also put off the possibility of default and upped the debt limit for a short while longer. Of course, this Boston Globe front page summed it up best. As you'll see, all this agreement has done is postpone further crises for a few months. But this presumes that somehow in a few months, we can all reach a reasonable agreement, because that's been working so well for the past three years. It seems far more likely that in three months we'll be here again. And next time we could even lose more than just 0.6% points of our growth or $24 billion.

The absurdity of the situation in this governing body is only becoming more obvious with time. The bill that finally ended this shutdown and averted fiscal calamity through default passed the Senate with a broad bipartisan support, 81-18. The President was more than happy to sign it. But what happened in the House of Representatives? It passed 285-144. While this seems like a large victory, it's a sad state of affairs when you actually break it down. While all the Democrats happily came out supporting a solution (albeit an imperfect and temporary one), the majority of the Republicans in the House voted against the bill 144-87. This victory was won only through the alliance of some moderate Republicans and every single Democrat. But such an alliance is always fleeting, despite the fact that the Tea Party and their ilk present a problem for both groups. But what if the alliance was made more serious?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Return of the Fed-i

Obama-Wan Kenobi
It appears the US Federal Government will be up and running again by the end of the week, with a new deal having passed the Senate and the House and President promising to see it through the rest of the process quickly.

This is good news, although the whole shut down impasse was still terribly embarrassing and the deal that was struck in many ways just defers the need for a real solution to the debt ceiling and budget disputes for a few weeks. Specifically, the last-minute bill will "finance the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit through Feb. 7."

Let's hope the Buck Shot stops here...

President Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read "The Buck Stops Here"meaning the Washington tradition of shirking responsibilities would stop with the Office of the President, where the big, difficult decisions would have to be made. As we face a looming debt default and threatened impeachment efforts against President Obama, it seems we're in a situation where the buck and the BS have to stop somewhere.

At this point the prospect of raising the debt ceiling and re-opening the government appears bleak, though I still hold out hope for last-minute heroics from more level-headed conservatives. In light of this, we have to consider what could happen if the debt ceiling is not raised.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Update (3:25 p.m.) - Finally someone in the news actually asks the right question. "Do you hate Obamcare more than you love your country?"

Update: (2:30 p.m.) - House Republicans are literally considering skipping town after voting on their bill, presumably ensuring a government default over birth control. I honestly don't know if I could make this up.

Yesterday, the Senate agreed to a "bipartisan" deal, to reopen the government. You can clearly tell Mitch McConnell is excited in the picture on the left, if not possibly aroused, and I'm sure for Harry Reid this image conveys the most emotion he's shown since his teenage years. Under the deal, the debt ceiling would be extended until February, and the government would be reopened until January 15, with a budget conference on December 13 that will work out a longer term deal. This will have changes to the Affordable Care Act, but on minor issues that are not the ones House Republicans shut the government down over. That said, this at least lets Republicans save some face in their voters' eyes, by cutting down on what they see as "Obamacare fraud." Sure, it doesn't exist, but they have to get something, right? The changes do not affect the individual mandate, the medical device tax, or any other key provisions of the law.

Well, the House plans to reject this and do their own bill that's even more right wing. You know, the same thing that got us into this mess in the first place. Surprise! The House Republicans that started the shutdown just aren't ready for the party to end yet. Basically, they started the shutdown because they wanted to prevent the ACA, reneging on a deal that already existed to keep the government running. and they would rather see the country and world economy burn to the ground then not get a "win" out of this.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Eric Cantor Holds the Keys to Government

Via Upworthy

Typically I don't like to post videos with little commentary, but this video basically explains how House Republicans have given Eric Cantor the keys to the U.S. Government, suspending existing rule and precedent.

It's worth watching just for the fantastic line from Representative Chris Van Hollen, when told to suspend by the presiding speaker.

"Democracy has been suspended, Mr. Speaker."


Columbus Day: A National Embarassment

Christopher Columbus is quite possibly one of the most whitewashed figures in history, and yet one of the most deserving of the label "war criminal."

First, the most blatant lies.

1) Columbus discovered America.

Typically, this is phrased in a way to imply Columbus discovered the lands that became the United States. He did land in the Carribean, Central America, and in South America.  But never in North America. Which makes Columbus Day as a U.S. holiday silly.

2) Columbus proved the world wasn't flat.

No educated person in the 1400s thought the world was flat. This lie is one of the most perpetuated lies in education, and it's wrong in ever possible way. I'm not going to bother to cite every example, but the Ancient Greeks knew the world wasn't flat in the 5th century B.C.

These are the most common things people point out. Here are the things you should know below the fold (most information taken from this page, unless otherwise noted).