Monday, September 30, 2013

If It Happened There ... the Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, United States—The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city. Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. Money-changers are not yet buying stacks of useless greenbacks on the street.

But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.

The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. While the factions have come close to such a shutdown before, opponents of President Barack Obama’s embattled regime now appear prepared to allow the government to be shuttered over opposition to a controversial plan intended to bring the nation’s health care system in line with international standards.

Six years into his rule, Obama’s position can appear confusing, even contradictory. Though the executive retains control of the country’s powerful intelligence service, capable of the extrajudicial execution of the regime’s opponents half a world away, the president’s efforts to govern domestically have been stymied in the legislature by an extremist rump faction of the main opposition party.

The current rebellion has been led by Sen. Ted Cruz, a young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region, known in the past as a hotbed of separatist activity. Activity in the legislature ground to a halt last week for a full day as Cruz insisted on performing a time-honored American demonstration of stamina and self-denial, which involved speaking for 21 hours, quoting liberally from science fiction films and children’s books. The gesture drew wide media attention, though its political purpose was unclear to outsiders.

With hours remaining until the government of the world’s richest nation runs out of money, attention now focuses on longtime opposition leader John Boehner, under pressure from both the regime and the radical elements of his own movement, who may be the only political figure with the standing needed to end the standoff.

While the country’s most recent elections were generally considered to be free and fair (despite threats against international observers), the current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime’s ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people, not to mention its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Americans themselves are starting to ask difficult questions as well. As this correspondent’s cab driver put it, while driving down the poorly maintained roads that lead from the airport, “Do these guys have any idea what they’re doing to the country?”

By Joshua Keating/Slate

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/09/30/potential_government_shutdown_how_would_the_u_s_media_report_on_it_if_it.html

Affordable Health Insurance | Covered California™

Affordable Health Insurance | Covered California™





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Government shutdown is no idle threat - latimes.com

Government shutdown is no idle threat - latimes.com

WASHINGTON — Outside the capital the prospect might seem unthinkable, but inside it seems increasingly likely, and to some inevitable: In less than two weeks, the federal government, from the Agriculture Department to the Weather Service, may shut its doors.

Agencies already have contingency plans for stopping all but essential work. Soldiers would be required to report for duty but would not be paid. National parks would be closed and overnight campers would be given two days to leave. Social Security checks would go out, but the agency would stop updating people's earning records. The State Department would stop issuing most passports.

The snarl this time is worse than in the Clinton era in at least two ways: It involves not just one deadline, but a series of deadlines over the next several weeks, any one of which could see normal government activities come to a halt. If Congress manages to slip past the end of the budget year, the next crisis will come when lawmakers face a vote in mid-October on raising the limit on the nation's debt.

Moreover, the fight has morphed from a straightforward battle between Republicans and Democrats into a three-way brawl in which the GOP congressional leadership must contend not only with the White House, but with conservative insurgents in their own ranks.

Either way, economists warn that if a shutdown happens, the U.S. economy will suffer, particularly if it goes on a while.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Big Heart Open to God | America Magazine

A Big Heart Open to God | America Magazine


Father Spadaro met the pope at the Vatican in the pope’s apartments in the Casa Santa Marta, where he has chosen to live since his election. Father Spadaro begins his account of the interview with a description of the pope’s living quarters.


House GOP votes to cut $39 billion from food stamp program - In Plain Sight

House GOP votes to cut $39 billion from food stamp program - In Plain Sight

With only Republicans voting in support, the GOP-led House passed a bill Thursday to reduce spending for food stamps by $39 billion over 10 years.

The vote was 217-210. No Democrats voted for the measure