Journal of the Great Shutdown: Day Four

Effluvia, Fun, Politics & Current Events

A family emergency is calling me out of town. I really hate to leave home at a time like this. I know – I just know – that the motorcycle gangs are gathering, and with Homeland Security down to a mere 86% of its strength, and with the Department of Defense no longer able to give MRAPs to local police departments and higher educational facilities because of the shutdown I can taste the chaos in the wind, like ashes and smoke from a burning once-great civilization.

Given the inevitable looting I can't help thinking that my home is a target (especially with all that gasoline and salted beef sitting in the garage).

Still, Mrs. Clark is handy with a crossbow and looks, frankly, hot as hell in white hockey armor. And I have to – I have to – go. I hope she'll be able to defend the juice, the precious juice.

I'll try to get back as soon as I can.

Stay strong, people. If you don't hear from me again, know that I had you – all of you – in my heart.

Last 5 posts by Clark

67 Comments

67 Comments

  1. Mike  •  Oct 4, 2013 @5:30 am

    I sent an e-mail yesterday that has not been responded to yet. I'm very worried.

  2. Bear  •  Oct 4, 2013 @6:00 am

    "Mrs. Clark is handy with a crossbow and looks, frankly, hot as hell in white hockey armor."

    Pix, or it didn't happen.

  3. Greg  •  Oct 4, 2013 @6:05 am

    Darn you, Clark! Now I have to watch Mad Max tonight! Again!

  4. Dan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @6:15 am

    Are you implying that the follicly challenged represent a threat to civic order and safety?

  5. Mercury  •  Oct 4, 2013 @6:48 am

    Be careful out there.

    If you’re driving around Washington DC or near any sensitive government areas don’t trust your GPS and for heaven's sake try not to make any wrong turns!

    Rational threat assessment among armed government employees has been shutdown.

  6. jb  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:02 am

    My wife and I are buying a house, and the last thing we need before we can get our loan is an IRS tax transcript, without which the agency securitizing our loan will not lend us the money. The IRS tax transcript service is down, as part of the government shutdown, so there is a nonzero but small chance that we will not get to buy the house, and a larger chance that our moving will be delayed substantially, at significant cost to us.

    One might argue that it is ridiculous to require the IRS to confirm our tax return (I would disagree, it's a fairly reasonable anti-fraud measure against the possibility that we falsified our income). One might also argue that it is socially destructive to base the granting of a loan on the ease with which the loan can be securitized. However, that is an argument for a different thread. The government shutdown is hurting real people who read and comment on this very blog, in real ways.

  7. Ken White  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:28 am
  8. jb  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:31 am

    Ken,
    Yep, and so do lots of other government employees who need theirs more than he needs his, so do the people who those government employees need their paychecks in order to pay (even aside from those people who need those government employees' work product).

    Clark's post series is amusing hyperbole, but many people are in fact negatively affected and for many it is in fact a catastrophe.

  9. marco73  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:33 am

    JB: sorry to hear the issues with your home purchase. Hopefully this won't last long and you can move forward.
    They use tax services such as HR Block for electronic filing; certainly they could set up a third party for income/filing status verification. But that would mean they were more interested in saving money and providing service, not empire building.
    Many taxpayer services are down, but the IRS was still able to cash my check that I mailed on Tuesday.

  10. a_random_guy  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:44 am

    @jb: I'm not familiar with this practice – granted, the last time I went through the process was more than 20 years ago. At that time, I think I just presented my most recent pay stubs.

    Seems to me that involving a government agency in a private lending process is letting the camel's nose into the tent. A very bad idea on principle.

    That said, I sympathize with your predicament.

  11. jdgalt  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:46 am

    This joke is past old. It's starting to rot.

  12. Shane  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:46 am

    @jb

    Yep, and so do lots of other government employees who need theirs more than he needs his

    I've noticed that people that come here ill prepared to deal with the open debate that will follow when they say something that they can't back up almost universally don't read posts completely (or the article for that matter) and really don't follow links of said post.

    I HIGHLY suggest that you don't follow in the footsteps of those people.

  13. bill  •  Oct 4, 2013 @8:00 am

    @jdgalt – speak for yourself. Considering the comment volume (scolds aside) it looks like it's a pretty popular topic.

  14. Chris F  •  Oct 4, 2013 @8:21 am

    a_random_guy
    @jb: I'm not familiar with this practice – granted, the last time I went through the process was more than 20 years ago. At that time, I think I just presented my most recent pay stubs.

    I don't recall needing to get anything from the IRS either but that doesn't mean much. Different companies will have different requirements for getting a loan. Even the same company can require different things. My co-worker just built a house and contractor required the loan approval prior to starting the build but didn't get paid until the move happened. By the time the house was built the initial loan offer had expired and he needed to re-apply. The second time around they asked for things they hadn't the first time.

  15. TomB  •  Oct 4, 2013 @8:29 am

    WHITE HOUSE: 'DOESN'T REALLY MATTER' WHEN SHUTDOWN ENDS 'WE ARE WINNING

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/10/04/white-house-doesnt-matter-shutdown-ends-we-are-winning

  16. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @9:06 am

    Breitbart isn't exactly what an outside observer would call an unbiased, reputable news agency.

    If you read the original WSJ article it quickly becomes apparent that that quotation is referring to the importance of government not being held hostage, not that this is merely political calculation.

    There's no question there are significant political calculations involved, but there is a bigger picture at work – namely, that Legislative and Executive Branches of the American government should not be held hostage by the policy desires of a tiny proportion of all the representatives that represent a very tiny portion of the US populace.

    And before anyone leaps down my throat about being a Republican-hater / Democrat-apologist [again], I am neither; as a foreign citizen and non-US resident, I have no personal stake in the current shenanigans going on in the US.

  17. Evan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @9:09 am

    @jb – I was actually just talking with a friend of mine who works in the loan approval business. He says that with the IRS not giving out tax transcripts, he's using other more-involved and slightly-less-accurate methods to get the same information. Loans might be slightly delayed, but nothing's getting turned down just because of the shutdown. That might just be his company, but you should try contacting your lender to ask whether they could consider other options.

  18. Bryan C  •  Oct 4, 2013 @9:40 am

    Winter is coming.

  19. TomB  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:02 am
  20. gramps  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:05 am

    @jb,@a_random_guy: Have you not taken notice of Fannie May and Freddie Mac, not to mention VA? A great deal more of the "camel" than his nose has been in the tent for a very long time. Federal influence on private housing loans?? I am shocked, shocked!

    Perhaps some of this involvement could be part of the excess we bemoan.

  21. BadExampleMan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:38 am

    13K children kicked out of HeadStart; School lunch funds running out, curtailing what's for many kids the only hot meal they get all day; ditto for elders and Meals on Wheels; NIH having to deny last-ditch experimental treatments to cancer patients; FEMA officials unavailable with a hurricane, tornados and a blizzard all possible this weekend (really!) – But thank goodness you're not affected and can joke about it. Because if your comfortable, fortunate existence were at all inconvenienced, why, that would be a tragedy.

  22. stillnotking  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:39 am

    If getting a Capitol parking space, a legislative staff, a national platform from which to expound one's opinions and grievances, etc., are all considered perks of the job, why wouldn't continuing to draw one's paycheck during a shutdown be one too?

    I say this not to defend Rep. Ellmers, but to point out how odd are our intuitions of fairness.

  23. Clark  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:47 am

    13K children kicked out of HeadStart;

    Awesome. There's no evidence that HeadStart has any lasting effect.

    13k kicked out of taxpayer supported cargo cult daycare strikes me as a good move, shutdown or no.

  24. Reformed Republican  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:53 am

    This joke is past old. It's starting to rot.

    .

    Then write to your representative, and get them to work toward a compromise, so the shutdown and the joke can be ended.

  25. Doctor X  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:02 am

    "Cargo cult daycare"–I like that!

  26. Chris  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:03 am

    Ryan, you're not very well informed about yet another subject.
    50% of Americans oppose the individual mandate.
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/health_care_law

  27. Marconi Darwin  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:18 am

    @Chris I wonder if there are polls that reflect what percentage of Americans oppose paying taxes.

  28. Todd S.  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:29 am

    @BadExampleMan

    I've gotta say…your post definitely supports your chosen user name.

  29. wgering  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:40 am

    Stay strong, people. If you don't hear from me again, know that I had you – all of you – in my heart.

    And some of you in my stomach.

  30. TM  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:42 am

    13K children kicked out of HeadStart; School lunch funds running out, curtailing what's for many kids the only hot meal they get all day; ditto for elders and Meals on Wheels; NIH having to deny last-ditch experimental treatments to cancer patients; FEMA officials unavailable with a hurricane, tornados and a blizzard all possible this weekend (really!) – But thank goodness you're not affected and can joke about it. Because if your comfortable, fortunate existence were at all inconvenienced, why, that would be a tragedy.

    I don't know about you, but this seems like a perfect argument for why these things should not be under the control and direction of the federal government (or at the very least, that the federal government should only have a limited role in them) given that they've all been brought to a halt by 536 adult sized children throwing hissy fits.

  31. northern_rebellion  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:47 am

    Citation needed.

  32. HamOnRye  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:49 am

    …but there is a bigger picture at work – namely, that Legislative and Executive Branches of the American government should not be held hostage by the policy desires of a tiny proportion of all the representatives that represent a very tiny portion of the US populace

    Your framing is completely wrong and you have some false assumptions on how the American government is structured.

    This is an issue of funding and therefore clearly within the scope of responsibilities given to the legislative branch. They control the purse strings and can choose to fund or defund programs as they see fit. For historical reference the legislative branch ended our involvement in the Vietnam conflict by choosing zero out the budget for military expenditures for that effort.

    Second, characterizing the core Congressmen representing the portion of Americans who want this ACA policy defunded as tiny is blind to the obvious and frankly a bit dishonest. The push to defund the ACA, the high stakes game of government chicken, and the current 4 days into the shutdown would have never happened if that "tiny portion of the US" didn't have the clout to pull it off. That so called "tiny portion of the US" is roughly 50% of the electorate and thus not so tiny

  33. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @11:56 am

    @Chris

    Here we go with the inferences again. Where did I say anything about the individual mandate, or health care at all? What I said was:

    the American government should not be held hostage by the policy desires of a tiny proportion of all the representatives that represent a very tiny portion of the US populace

    The US is a nation of ~314 million people. The Tea Party Republicans currently mounting the challenge to funding the government have a voter base that makes up perhaps 15% of that – a tiny fraction of the entire country.

    It would be another matter entirely if 50% of the population gave 50% of the representatives in Congress (both Houses) a mandate to oppose funding the ACA, but that isn't what's happening here. This is a tiny part of one party trying to end-run around the fact that a law was voted on, passed, and signed by a majority of representatives and they don't have a political mandate from the electorate to repeal it… so instead they'll try to gut it with budgetary measures.

    Imagine what a frightening precedent that sets for the future if it succeeds. All a small movement needs to do is get a small number of their supporters into government, and they can effectively hold the entire federal governance structure hostage until they get their way. That's no way to run any country, nevermind a democracy that constantly asserts itself as a bastion of fairness and freedom *snort*.

    @TomB

    It appears you are not actually reading the articles you are quoting from. It's not the dialogue about winning that's worth focusing on – that's media fluff – it's the why each side views winning as very important that is particularly relevant. The WSJ piece talks about that with some depth, which is absent from both the Breitbart and the Post pieces.

  34. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @12:03 pm

    A good read on why procedural shenanigans are bad for democratic institutions:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/10/04/dems-move-to-force-republicans-to-reopen-the-government/

  35. TM  •  Oct 4, 2013 @12:15 pm

    @ Ryan

    It sounds to me like the political process is working as intended then. After all, just because a majority of people decide something and even have laws in place to make it so does not make that law or the majority right.

  36. HamOnRye  •  Oct 4, 2013 @12:49 pm

    @Ryan

    Still missing the obvious. Defunding the ACA is not limited to only the Tea Party as they don't have enough votes to pull it off.

    Dangerous precedent indeed. God forbid a minority of people demand representation of their interest, especially their money. Don't they know that they are clearly standing in the way of the glorious utopia that awaits at end of the rainbow?

  37. Malc.  •  Oct 4, 2013 @1:12 pm

    Of course it's easy to jump on the Rasmussen figure and claim that 50% of voters are opposed to the individual mandate, but of course that ignores a few substantive issues:

    1. The wording of the question is carefully misleading: do I "think the government should require every American should buy or obtain health insurance"? No, I don't. I *do* think that the government is justified in requiring health insurance OR the payment of a penalty PROVIDED ONLY that such steps are necessary to fund the other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including the guarantees of coverage to those who have previously been excluded (pre-existing conditions, high-risk groups, etc).

    2. Obviously, opinion polls have some negligible value, but it's easy to forget that the Republican "majority" received 49.2% of the votes for Representatives, while the Democrat "opposition" received 50.8%.

    3. What Rasmussen actually discovered was that 500 respondents to a telephone survey said they didn't think the government should require purchase of health insurance. This is a rather different question from asking whether the 60,000,000 of the roughly 120,000,000 voters at the last general election think that.

    4. A much more problematic issue for the Tea Party Republicans is that the trend is that the number of objections is shrinking. The figure was 56% in July…

    5. Per Rassmussen, the number in FAVOR of the mandate, plus the number who are "undecided" (and who obviously think that drastic action is unwarranted) is… 50%! So if 50% is a number justifying extraordinary action, surely the other 50% is a number justifying equally extraordinary action? The case neither advances nor retreats…

    6. 73% think existing gun control laws should be enforced more strictly, and statistically the case for more gun control is evenly tied. Yeah, so THAT's going to happen…

  38. northern_rebellion  •  Oct 4, 2013 @1:29 pm

    I should not be shocked that Obama's supplicants will stop at nothing to promote his ideas.

    http://reason.com/blog/2013/10/04/reported-obamacare-enrollee-chad-henders

    I am done with the blue-red narrative anyway… I'll be in Montana, stockpiling potable water and building a shelter.

  39. gramps  •  Oct 4, 2013 @1:34 pm

    Why is it certain commenters here find no problem with the behavior of either Hairy Reed or Obummer? All HR has to do is put the House appropriation bill (pick one) up for a vote in the Senate and it will either fail or pass.

    If he does that however, members of his party who are up for election in 2014 will have to go on record: either fund Soc Sec/NIH/etc/etc (pick one) or not. Then they can take some credit for denying the service in question or for supporting it. Depending on how the voters back home feel about that they may get another term. But Hairy is afraid to allow the vote. The bill might pass and then BHO has to decide if he wants to block the services or not.

    The current process gives them room to make a lot of noise but do nothing else…. They are like bank robbers threatening to shoot the hostages because they cannot get all the money in 10s, that they don't want any 50s or 100s. And it will be the bank's fault….

  40. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @1:35 pm

    @TM / HamOnRye

    The "tyranny of the majority" is an interesting conundrum in any democracy, but there is a fundamental problem with governments that can be effectively crippled by a small but militant minority: that small minority can be any movement, not just one you happen to agree with (I assume you agree with it at present by the tone of your responses; correct me if not).

    There's a now-small but very vocal faction that oppose equal rights for homosexuals; should they be able to shut down government until they get their way? Imagine for a moment that gay marriage becomes federal law in the US (it's only a matter of time, really); should a small but vocal minority be able to end-run around legislative changes they don't like through budgetary measures (e.g. defunding selective the government until they get their way)? How about legalization of drugs (also likely in the cards in the future)? If the majority in the US wants to pass legislation legalizing narcotics and other drugs for recreational use, should a small minority be able to effectively hold the government budgetary processes hostage when they don't like it? Better yet, an issue that goes the other way – should a small but vocal minority be able to defund government because of legislative repeals they don't like made on federal or state gun control measures?

    The whole "minority standing up for their rights" argument holds up very well when it's a cause you agree with, but there's a cautionary lesson here. If Obama and the Democrats in Congress cave, there is a precedent set that BOTH parties can and will exploit in the future, and you can pretty much guarantee it won't always be exploited in ways you agree with.

  41. jtf  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:02 pm

    Newsflash: the idea of a concurrent majority went out of fashion and died in a spectacular, bloody fire in, oh, 1861-1865. I thought we as a society have moved on from refighting those particular political battles.

    Although considering the discussion above, perhaps not.

  42. David C  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:10 pm

    All a small movement needs to do is get a small number of their supporters into government

    I don't think a majority of the House counts as a "small number".

    And if the voters don't like it, they can vote them out next year.

  43. HamOnRye  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:21 pm

    @Ryan

    You are correct that happen to agree with the current shutdown, and yes tyranny of the majority (or perceived majority) is foremost in my thoughts when I have been responding.

    Concerning your second point, the vocal minority blocking funding for that are in the direction of what I hope most would call expansion of liberty.

    We provide the Executive branch with funds to execute something. In each of your examples (gay marriage, drug legalization, gun regulation) requires the Federal Government to do something.

    So for each of you examples we want the federal government to do nothing and not be involved. How will the minority block nonexistent funding for something we don't want the executive branch to do?

    For the minority to act in an obstinate manner we first have to pass legislation requiring the executive branch to do something. Which brings me to my next point. During the past four days, we have had several people trot out sob stories and other emotionally tugs at our heart strings. All the while missing the point that if you don't want the minority yanking the funding out from under it don't put it within their grasp. The only way to do that is to not incorporate it at the Federal level.

  44. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:22 pm

    @David

    From what I'm reading, the Republicans may have a majority in the House, but the Representatives that favour this approach do not constitute a majority of Republicans.

    Indeed, the WP article above points out that there are enough Republicans willing to vote for a "clean funding resolution" that it could pass the House even with the current Tea Party opposition, but the GOP leadership in the house isn't willing to call a vote on a clean funding resolution.

    Like I said, procedural shenanigans.

  45. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:33 pm

    @HamOnRye

    For the minority to act in an obstinate manner we first have to pass legislation requiring the executive branch to do something. Which brings me to my next point. During the past four days, we have had several people trot out sob stories and other emotionally tugs at our heart strings. All the while missing the point that if you don't want the minority yanking the funding out from under it don't put it within their grasp. The only way to do that is to not incorporate it at the Federal level.

    This isn't true either. The House is currently preventing a clean funding resolution from passing because they want to defund part of government operations, but there is absolutely nothing stopping them from refusing to pass any funding resolution because of another federal policy they don't like that isn't attached to the budget. That's my point.

    If the precedent is set that a minority interest can defund government operations because of an Executive Policy they don't like which has been supported by all of Congress in the past (linked to budget or not), then it can be done again in the future, and for far less palatable reasons. Right now its a funding fight over medical coverage; there is nothing stopping it from being a fight over policy principles (which this essentially is, it just has budgetary provisions attached) except when it runs afoul of the Constitution.

    Like I said earlier, frame this a different way: a majority of Americans, and a majority in the House, Senate, and the President all favour the repeal of all federal firearms restrictions. A small, vocal minority in the House does not. Said minority, with the current procedural shenanigans now, could theoretically shut down the government on budgetary grounds because of an unrelated policy they don't like, then try to force the other side to negotiate. Does that sound like a great idea to you?

    As I said before – I'm not an American and I don't live in the US, so this is all academic to me, but I'd think those of you living there would find this development very concerning.

  46. Malc.  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:33 pm

    @HamOnRye,

    How will the minority block nonexistent funding for something we don't want the executive branch to do?

    Nice point-missing. The issue of funding is irrelevant, and you know it: the zealots simply block the funding of all government until/unless the funding measure includes legislation achieving what they want.

  47. Shane  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:41 pm

    @Ryan

    This is a tiny part of one party …

    You are right others agree.

  48. Shane  •  Oct 4, 2013 @2:43 pm

  49. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @3:10 pm

    @Shane

    The Democrats represent a unified front on this issue. Furthermore, Obama took 51.1% of the popular vote (Romney 47.2%), Democrats took 48.3% of the popular vote in the House (GOP 43.7%), and 53.7% in the Senate (GOP 42.1%).

    The only "tiny part of one party" at the source of this is the Tea Party movement within the Republicans, and they seem to be pissing off a large number of other Republicans – look at the comments coming from the governors in Florida, NJ, and Nevada.

  50. Shane  •  Oct 4, 2013 @3:28 pm

    @Ryan

    There's a now-small but very vocal faction that oppose equal rights for homosexuals; should they be able to shut down government until they get their way?

    If by their way, you mean using people with guns to stop other less liked people from establishing mutually beneficial associations, then no.

    Imagine for a moment that gay marriage becomes federal law in the US

    Why do we need laws that regulate mutually beneficial associations?

    … should a small but vocal minority be able to end-run around legislative changes they don't like through budgetary measures (e.g. defunding selective the government until they get their way)?

    Hmmm last I checked the House controlled the whole pesky money thing.

    How about legalization of drugs (also likely in the cards in the future)? If the majority in the US wants to pass legislation legalizing narcotics and other drugs for recreational use, should a small minority be able to effectively hold the government budgetary processes hostage when they don't like it?

    Yes. What about when the majority took control, and passed the criminalization of it in the first place?

    should a small but vocal minority be able to defund government because of legislative repeals they don't like made on federal or state gun control measures?

    Yah those amendments aren't worth the paper they are written on, the government should never ever be shut down for any reason and especially for something as trivial as the constitution.

    The whole "minority standing up for their rights" argument holds up very well when it's a cause you agree with,

    Because anything is fair game when it comes to the government intervening. Like it or not the government has the right to do whatever it likes and because the majority are ok with that then the minority just need to roll over and accept it. Because America is a democracy.

    … but the GOP leadership in the house isn't willing to call a vote on a clean funding resolution.

    Gee maybe the Tea Party isn't the only driver of this bus.

    … but there is absolutely nothing stopping them from refusing to pass any funding resolution because of another federal policy they don't like that isn't attached to the budget. That's my point.

    After extensive consulting with @Ryan the GOP have chosen a path that is wrong headed because it might necessarily become beholden to those people that the GOP represent. And since they are the one's in control of the purse strings then only the programs that @Ryan finds acceptable will be presented to the senate for funding.

    If the precedent is set that a minority interest can defund government operations because of an Executive Policy they don't like which has been supported by all of Congress in the past (linked to budget or not), then it can be done again in the future, and for far less palatable reasons.

    OMG that is what they said 17 years ago. And heaven forbid the house of representatives should shut off things that the executive branch wants funded. That would be un-constitutional.

    Like I said earlier, frame this a different way: a majority of Americans, and a majority in the House, Senate, and the President all favour the repeal of all federal firearms restrictions. A small, vocal minority in the House does not.

    And this matters because the second amendment applies to the people not to the government.

    As I said before – I'm not an American and I don't live in the US, so this is all academic to me,

    And yet you comment vigorously to tell how the rethuglicans are ending the world. It makes one wonder.

  51. Wade  •  Oct 4, 2013 @4:14 pm

    That right there's funny…except for the part about Juicy. Leave him alooooooooooooonnee! Leave Juice alone!!!!!!!!!!

  52. Allen  •  Oct 4, 2013 @4:35 pm

    @Ryan

    Please, if you must go on about percentages at least use real ones. There is no such thing as the popular vote in elections for Congress or the President. They are all local or state elections.

    I believe it was Pat Moynihan who said "all politics are local."

    My rep in the House is keenly aware of what this shutdown means to his district, and he's taking some heat for it. Since he's the Majority Whip he's probably helping to organize the current stance in the House. We'll see what the mid-term election holds for him.

  53. HamOnRye  •  Oct 4, 2013 @4:41 pm

    This isn't true either. The House is currently preventing a clean funding resolution from passing because they want to defund part of government operations, but there is absolutely nothing stopping them from refusing to pass any funding resolution because of another federal policy they don't like that isn't attached to the budget. That's my point.

    First off why is it necessary to have a "clean funding" bill? The congress can fund laws separately, in bundles, or a yearly budget.

    The fax drama over "clean funding" is just more Barrycades. Several bills have cleared the House for stopgap spending so that right indicates this obsession with "clean funding" is just more theater.

  54. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @7:51 pm

    So Shane, just to be clear, if the majority in the House, the Senate, and the President were in favour of a policy that was near and dear to your heart and a small portion of the House managed to use procedural tactics to shut down the US federal government (possibly for a few days, possibly for longer) as a tactic to prevent that policy from taking effect (despite the fact that it was entrenched in law previously), then insist it be negotiated away, you would have no problem with that?

    Take the fact that it's the ACA out of the equation and tell me you have no problem with a small minority of legislators representing a small minority of the US population from holding the entire US federal government hostage to their policy demands on any issue they please, and then setting the precedent that it works because the majority in the House, Senate, and President caved.

    That is quite a frightening precedent, and the contemporary USA is rife with polarized issues that are championed by very small but very well-equipped, well-organized, and vocal minority causes (abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-immigration, anti-drug, anti-gun, pro-religion etc etc ad nauseum). If you're concerned about liberty this should terrify you, because it means that anyone putting forth a restriction on liberty needs just enough support to prevent a vote from taking place and/or passing in one chamber of Congress and they now have a gun to the head of the entire federal legislative and executive branches. That sounds just bloody awesome.

    Incidentally, republics are one form of democracy by its strict definition. The article you linked doesn't appear to acknowledge the history of the subject at all (the author is basing his argument on a false premise, as many other democracies also have binding Constitutional documents). Democracy is literally 'rule of the people' from the original Greek root, and Constitutional Republics are merely one form. As usual, the conservative American narrative on certain terms is heavily divergent from their actual meaning for the rest of the world. Technically, the United States is actually a combination of direct and representative democracies, unlike most countries with Parliamentary institutions that have few direct democratic institutions and rely primarily on their representative democratic institutions (e.g. Propositions are quite common at the State level in the US, whereas referendums in Parliamentary democracies are comparatively rare).

    @Allen

    I am aware of how the elections work; I used popular vote to point out that the Democrat position represents a non-tiny portion of the country, contrary to Shane's earlier allusion that they were equivalent to the Tea Party idiocy that has currently hijacked the GOP.

  55. AlphaCentauri  •  Oct 4, 2013 @8:37 pm

    Yet the states that elected those Republicans on a platform of opposition to big government are the bigger beneficiaries of federal money. Urban areas tend to send much more to Washington in taxes than they get back. Head Start funding and federal welfare benefits are miniscule compared to military bases, defense contractors, interstate highways, farm subsidies, etc.

  56. Shane  •  Oct 4, 2013 @8:56 pm

    @Ryan

    One day you will get it. But as long as you think that I believe that the government has any business in the private affairs of individuals beyond a very narrow scope you will continue to be baffled by my responses.

    To be clear, I think that a government at loggerheads is a good government. I think that a government that can hardly agree on anything is a good government. Because history shows that an effective government is a tyrannical government. How many countries do you see where government is so stymied as this one? That is a feature not a bug. The framers set up our government to be at war with itself and constantly. The house checks the senate, the president checks the house and senate, the supreme court checks the house senate and the president, the states check the federal and so on … this to those not familiar with our form of government seems a bug, but in reality it is feature built in from the inception of this country.

    I believe in this feature. A divided house is a weak house and weak government is a government where individuals retain most of their freedoms.

    If you see what is happening as from the view of a play or theatre, as many commentors have suggested, you will see that the system is working as intended but the actors are lost in the current script.

    A unified government is to be feared by all men, for it is only a unified government that can enforce uniformity on men. We commonly call this tyranny.

  57. Shane  •  Oct 4, 2013 @9:31 pm

    @Ryan

    … as many other democracies also have binding Constitutional documents)

    If it has a constitution then is no longer a democracy, because some areas become off limits for majority voting. A republic is a form of pure democracy only it uses a layer of indirection in the form of representation to carry out the democracy. A constitution adds a hard limit to certain functions to help smite the majority rule under certain situations. By adding a constitution to any form of government whether it is a monarchy or democracy or whatever, changes that government to a constitutional one e.g. constitutional monarchy.

    As usual, the conservative American narrative on certain terms is heavily divergent from their actual meaning for the rest of the world.

    Because I draw my principles from conservative ideology.

    So the whole of the world is right in its interpretation and conservative Americans are wrong, as interpreted by you. I am not really buying this as it is an argument from intimidation. And if the world has a different definition it would be kind of you to link it.

    Honestly I find the term republic misleading as there are many meanings for the word. The term that I normally use for the system of government in the U.S. is Constitutional Democracy, but if you are to define republic as a representative democracy then Constitutional Democracy and Constitutional Republic are functionally equivalent.

    Technically, the United States is actually a combination of direct and representative democracies,

    No, it is a Constitutional (specific limits) Republic (representative democracy) as stated in the article.

  58. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @9:54 pm

    @Shane

    Wikipedia actually has an excellent primer on what democracy is before you venture further down the path you're meandering down: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy

    Much like the semantic bastardization of the term 'liberal,' you're taking a narrow interpretation of American conservatives and applying it to a term that – the world over – means something else entirely. The sources you keep quoting are basically ignoring the most prominent ideas of the Enlightenment to make a contemporary political argument that the US system is somehow different from (and in the conservative American lexicon, superior to) democracy.

    All forms of government wherein law is made by the direct participation of the people, or by participation of their elected representatives are democracies, regardless of the presence or absence of Constitutional documents which establish limits on those functions.

    If you don't like Wikipedia, we can instead resort to the plain old dictionary. Choose your flavour: Merriam-Webster or Oxford English

    Regardless – the United States is a democracy; it's specific form embraces both direct democracy and representative democracy, and its particular form (being somewhat unique) is typically shorthanded as a constitutional republic.

    Now, if you want to take the definition of a pretty obviously-biased (in terms of political leanings) pundit on RedState / Madison Project over that of two of the most prominent English-language dictionaries in the world and a fully-source public Encyclopedia that is, of course, your prerogative.

  59. Allen  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:04 pm

    @Ryan

    When you are making a claim to not being a US citizen and are just all-fire concerned about how the politics in the US are going. It helps to use language that indicates that you are exactly that.

    That and not having a stake in the matter but the Democrats' rhetoric about sums it up for you.

    Concern troll language tip: use "your elections" not "the elections." But, you might be new at this so I'll give you a solid C.

    The other leg has bells on, give it a pull.

  60. Ryan  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:07 pm

    @Allen

    I'm Canadian and have always lived in Canada; I just happen to closely follow US politics out of personal interest (and possibly masochism).

    EDIT: I do have another post in the pipe to address Shane (lest you think I'm avoiding him), but it looks like it triggered some sort of automated moderation requirement (maybe a wordfilter picked up on a partial word?).

  61. Bill  •  Oct 4, 2013 @10:59 pm

    @AlphaCentauri:

    I told myself after getting caught up into a political debate on Clark's first post that I'd avoid all politics from here on out. As an admirer of your comments though, I think it's safe ;-). From the little bit of research I've done, it does seem that the states that push hard opposition candidates (to big govt agenda) do in fact take more than they consume. However, a few things come to mind (whether it's the case is hard to tell). I could be a firm believer in adhering tothe rules of Poker as they were originally written, but if I'm effectively forced to play (I know, this part of the metaphor is fails, but there aren't many exactly similar situations available) and in that game, X, Y and Z are allowed and everyone at each game engages in them. I can stand on principal and unilaterally disarm myself ensuring I lose regularly. I can only rely on "But I kept it real" for solace. I can engage in the 'new rules' which the other players all have agreed to and if I win, it's either luck or just that I'm better at it than they are. However I could be principled and say "I'm playing by these rules b/c i have to and as long as they're here, I'm going to play to win, but I detest these rules, will do anything I can to get rid of them and would do anything to go back to the original rules if possible." I don't think that sentiment could be said of "All" of the people in the districts you mention, but I'm willing to bet it's a significant # of them. If they could vote on a 25% across the board reduction in govt spending (not just growth) and they were confident that the 25% really would be cut equally for everyone, I think those districts would take that offer any day of the week. I think it's not just hard right Cons that think the govt is spending us into oblivion, doing so many things we don't need/want it to do that it's failing at most of them, particularly the ones we all agree we do want it to do etc. Even if someone loves Big Govt, they can hate the current implementation of it and be opposed to more of it. I'm just throwing this out there for discussions sake, interested as to what your thoughts are on it (more as a thought experiment than a policy prescription)

  62. TomB  •  Oct 5, 2013 @2:49 am

    It's odd that in the entire wikipedia entry for the Federal government of the United States, term "democracy" is never used to describe it.

    It is a constutional republic.

  63. TM  •  Oct 5, 2013 @7:14 am

    @Ryan

    To be honest, I personally think one of the best things to come out of this would be a new precedent that the funding and implementation of individual parts of the government are voted on and passed separately rather than in these giant omnibus bills. I would love a country where we could fund or defund individual parts of the government without bringing the whole thing to its knees (personally, I'd rather the government always be on its knees but hey, I'll take what I can get). Perhaps with that level of scrutiny and detail and voting, the government might actually get reigned in since there are only so many hours in a day. In my more fevered moments, I dream of a day when congress is only allowed to pass laws with a word count of no more than the original constitution, no amendments. If your bill is too long to fit in that word count, then it must be divided into individual sections for individual voting. Of course then I recall that all of politics is seeking power and control over other free men and think that even if such a rule were passed we'd start seeing bills written "alawforthemakingillegalthepossessionof marajuannadoubleplusungood"

  64. AlphaCentauri  •  Oct 5, 2013 @8:43 am

    @Bill — I was thinking in particular to highway funding. States will alter their own laws in all kinds of unpopular ways (speed limits, drinking ages, drivers license ages) if making the change is tied to federal highway funds. It's not just grabbing whatever free money is available. It's subverting their interests in the name of the almighty automobile. (The car culture is interesting. When there was a flurry of well-publicized carjackings, politicians were proposing federal laws that would have treated it much more severely than murder, rape or pedophilia.)

  65. XS  •  Oct 5, 2013 @9:25 am

    Mrs. Clark is handy with a crossbow and looks, frankly, hot as hell in white Jockey armor.

    Corrected.

  66. Shane  •  Oct 5, 2013 @9:29 am

    @Ryan

    Ok, if you insist on debating the finer point of meaning of words, then fine you win. I am not going to get into a semantic tit for tat with you. The important point that I was trying to make with the link and also with the Time cover was this … we are not a majority rule society. This is by design. To bemoan that one group is holding the government hostage is stupid, because at some point many different groups are holding the government "hostage". And things are being done or not being done. My view is that the less being done the better, and the more "hostage" taking the better.

    Democracy has evolved to mean many things. But what I take issue with is that the majority no matter how the government is named can and will enslave the minority. Can this work in reverse why, why yes it can. Because the constitutional framers understood that it could work both ways, they devised a government that was always in conflict, by design. This is the genius or luck or failure, depending on your point of view, of the U.S. constitution.

    I don't care a shit for the parties that a system has in power. The more disparate that they are the better, and the more conflict that they create is a bonus. You seem to keep thinking that I am a conservative. I am not. I don't like the rethuglicans any more than I like the dumbacrats. Your continuing attempt to paint me into either the Coke or Pepsi corner is a waste of time, I am neither, and I despise both.

  67. Ryan  •  Oct 6, 2013 @8:10 am

    @Shane

    I don't see much point in arguing the rest of your post because its a matter of opinion that we could carry through for a hundred posts without getting anywhere, but I do want to address this:

    You seem to keep thinking that I am a conservative. I am not. I don't like the rethuglicans any more than I like the dumbacrats. Your continuing attempt to paint me into either the Coke or Pepsi corner is a waste of time, I am neither, and I despise both.

    Actually, I'm not trying to paint you into any political corner. I am pointing out that the sources you are relying on are heavily-biased conservative American "news"/blog sources that have a very definite political objective that inherently mean they distort terminology to suit their political objective. The fact that one blogger can try to frame an argument that a constitutional republic is not democracy (and in doing so, try to assert that the US was somehow different to all other democracies, but now has "fallen" down the same flawed path as Europe) is evidence of that political twist.

    I don't care what your politics personally are – I'm just pointing out that some of the sources you are relying on cannot be trusted for an unbiased view – which is why I pointed to an encyclopedia (granted, a wiki-based one) and two well-respected dictionaries to make my point.

    There is a startling political narrative emerging from the fringe but increasingly mainstream American "right-wing" in the past decade or so that is trying to re-write the definitions of a number of terms to suit their political objectives and has become startlingly anti-intellectual/educational; the unfortunate consequence is that anyone who doesn't subscribe to that thought pattern and relies on the historical and common definitions of certain terms has an almost impossible task when trying to debate with people who rely on that source material. Examples include the way 'liberal' has become an insult in certain political circles (despite the fact that conservatism is actually a part of liberalism, not its polar opposite, in the historical sense), equivocation of atheism/socialism/liberalism/etc with communism, the assertion that the US is not a democracy (which still boggles my mind, no matter how often I hear it), etc.

    I don't think you're conservative, but I think the conservative sourcing you keep using is doing you a massive disservice to the point you're making. In terms of fundamental beliefs on the tyranny of the majority and the ability of the minority to assert their rights, I suspect you and I are not all that far apart in our views, though we have different beliefs in how those issues should be dealt with.

    TL;DR – You may not be a 'conservative,' but the problem with the sources you've chosen is that they make you talk like one, specifically of the breed that has an active project re-writing definitions.