Burning Down the House

No visible means of support and you have not seen nothin’ yet.
Everything’s stuck together.
I don’t know what you expect staring into the TV set,
fighting fire with fire,
burning down the house.

Talking Heads

This week’s featured posts both have something to do with the shutdown/debt-ceiling crisis. “Countdown to Augustus” takes the long view, while “7 Key Points About the Shutdown” is more immediate.

This week everybody was talking about (what else?) the shutdown

Usually I try to be the calm voice in the room, and to balance the over-hyped Big Issue that the news networks fixate on by pointing out that other things are happening in the world.

This week, though, I’m probably more obsessed with the government-shutdown/debt-ceiling-default than my readers are, and I keep wondering why everybody isn’t more freaked out. Like, why is the stock market drifting gently downward rather than crashing?

I continue not to see an end to this that doesn’t involve some market-crash or riots-in-the-streets type of disaster. I don’t think the Democrats can give in without setting up more hostage crises down the road. So the only way out is for the Republicans to back down without extorting anything in return. And I don’t think they can do that, because their whole mindset says that re-assessing your position in the face of reality is weakness.

So something external has to force this. It doesn’t end any other way.

Jon Stewart has been amazing through this whole mess. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think I go with his Rockin’ Shutdown Eve last Monday.

and raids against al Qaeda

The U.S. launched two raids in Africa this weekend. The Libya raid successfully captured Abu Anas al Libi, allegedly a high-ranking al Qaeda guy. And the Sudan raid ran into heavy resistance, but may have killed a guy who may have been connected to last week’s mall shooting in Kenya. So far all we know is what the government is telling us, so wait and see before you draw any conclusions.

and ObamaCare

The web site had problems, as often happens as things roll out. Keep in mind that ObamaCare is fundamentally about health insurance, not about the web. So a problem about the web site is not necessarily a problem with ObamaCare.

Last week I linked to part one of Kurt Eichenwald’s Vanity Fair series on ObamaCare. It covered the lies conservatives have been telling about ObamaCare, and so had a polemic tone. It’s hard to discuss blatant lies calmly and dispassionately.

Part two is much drier: It focuses on the logic of ObamaCare, the problem it’s trying to solve, and what’s in it for you even if you already have insurance. It is full of facts about the uninsured, the cost of providing emergency care for them through our current system, why they die sooner than they should, and the uncomfortable reality that

the vast, vast majority of them are hard-working Americans who simply do not have the same salary and benefit opportunities that others might. And again, no, there are not tens of millions of higher-paying jobs with benefits sitting out there unfilled.

and you also might be interested in

Michele Bachmann claims that her decision not to seek re-election has nothing to do with the ethics charges against her 2012 presidential campaign. But AP reports this about the guy on the other side of the transaction:

Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson … resigned from office Wednesday after investigator Mark Weinhardt concluded Sorenson likely broke ethics rules in receiving $7,500 in monthly income from Bachmann’s political action committee and presidential campaign in exchange for being Bachmann’s state chair in 2011.

The Ron Paul campaign is also implicated. Sorenson switched his allegiance to Paul, allegedly after receiving $75,000 in what AP calls “suspicious payments that may be linked to Paul’s campaign”.

Here’s a consequence of the shutdown that is going to hit people where they live: Notre Dame might have to drop two games out of its football schedule. It’s scheduled to play the Air Force academy on October 26 and Navy on November 2. The academies are currently shut down with the rest of the government. [Tuesday update: Not really. See the comments for a correction.]

A Pro Publica investigation shows that Tylenol is not as harmless as you probably think.

Some straight talk about rape prevention:

If your advice to a woman to avoid rape is to be the most modestly dressed, soberest and first to go home, you may as well add “so the rapist will choose someone else”.

About that IRS scandal … never mind.

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  • Dave Lance  On October 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    My Pollyanna thought process convinces me to believe that all sides are consulting a computer model that has all the variables of the economy dialed in. This model (that I believe in like Catholics believe in St. Wally) is, I believe, funded largely by Kraft Velveeta Cheese profits. It is so sophisticated, multi-layered, and accurate that all of the players from Pelosi to Putin know exactly where the shatter points are. Now, it is a test of wills. The Koch brothers who built the computer model seem to believe they have already usurped our Republic. They may prove right. The corporate wo/men work in the boardroom, and send representatives to do their bidding, just as the common Concord farmer once did. We the people it would seem, are being shackled in slow motion. Nevertheless, as I still believe I elected Obama to represent me, I vote that he doesn’t blink until after Armageddon finishes up.

  • Robin Rankin Willis  On October 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Correction: the service academies (West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy) are NOT shut down. The football programs may be affected, but the academies remain in operation.

    Robin Willis

    Sent from my iPad


    • weeklysift  On October 8, 2013 at 7:37 am

      Thank you for the correction. Foolishly, I left out the link that made me think this would happen, so it looks like I just made it up. The issue (which ESPN describes here much better than I understood it when I wrote that note) is whether the academies can spend travel funds to send their teams to road games. The Air Force/Navy game got played Saturday because a private donor (USAA) picked up the tab for Air Force’s plane. USA Today says, “Though USAA made it possible for Air Force to play this weekend, future games are still up in the air as long as Congress remains in gridlock.”

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