Why another shutdown? Our government has three parties these days: Democrats, Republicans and the new radical Republicans. That "radical Republican" label has some history. The old radical Republicans were the Grand Old Party's progressive wing. They were opposed during the Civil War and through Reconstruction by the party's liberals and conservatives.
The other day Tommy McCann came in with a framed black and white photo of three high school football players. Two players in uniform, each holding a football, flank a teammate, who has a cast on his right arm. McCann is on the right and Mike McRaney is on the left. The player in the middle with the cast and a "Lee High" sweatshirt is unmistakably Billy Brewer.
I once believed that at the end of our lives, relatives and loved ones would take care of us, bring us comfort, break the monotony of long, last hours.
Ask most people on Capitol Hill and they'll say: 50-50. Those are the odds they give for a government shutdown. An alternative to the shutdown would be a proposed delay of the individual mandate, the most painful part of Obamacare, which may seem like a Republican victory but on closer inspection would be a win for President Obama and Democrats.
In the latest polls, just 14 percent of all Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. You might think that number would inspire fear in people who stand for reelection every two years. You might hope that members of Congress would see in such numbers a mandate to do better -- to stop playing games (hello, Ted Cruz) and focus on actually getting things done.
Voices from right field are explaining why they're justified in threatening the United States with default if Congress does not defund Obamacare. The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel said on Sunday chat TV, "There isn't one poll that shows that Americans approve, as a majority, of this health care law."
News consumers by now have absorbed the message that Republicans are going to defund Obamacare, shut down the government, ruin the economy and starve the poor. This is what Democrats would have you believe and, given the GOP's recent obstructionist history, it would not be a stretch.
A survey of American economists found that 90 percent of them regarded minimum wage laws as increasing the rate of unemployment among low-skilled workers. Inexperience is often the problem. Only about 2 percent of Americans over the age of 24 earned the minimum wage.
Colorado floods of so-called biblical proportions, fire on the Boardwalk, a Miss America contestant with visible tattoos? It really might be the End Times.
A couple months ago, I got an email from Supreet. Supreet is in the 11th grade. He shops at Wal-Mart and plays basketball. His father came to this country from India and both are Sikhs, followers of a centuries-old faith founded in the Punjab region. Supreet wanted to tell me what it is like being a Sikh in America.
And the worm turns... Look back at the presidential campaign of 2008. Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden strongly criticized young, first term U.S. Senator Barack Obama for his lack of experience. He won't be ready on "day one," said Clinton. Republican nominee John McCain agreed and used Clinton's and Biden's remarks in television ads. All to no avail, as we know. The inexperienced senator won the Democratic nomination and the presidency.
This is for four women who are not here. It is for grandchildren who never existed and retirement celebrations that were never held. It is for Sunday dinners that were never prepared in homes that were never purchased. It is for children who were never born and fathers who never got to walk daughters down the aisle.
As I read Vlad's op-ed in the New York Times, a Judy Collins tune kept replaying in my head: "Isn't it rich? Isn't it queer?" The song -- actually written by Stephen Sondheim, although it is Collins's signature hit -- is "Send in the Clowns," and it seems an apt soundtrack for current events.
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