The Governing Cancer of Our Time

An excellent commentary by conservative David Brooks that helps explain the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, and also the negative effects the “antipolitics” Tea Party type people have had on our democracy.

The New York Times Opinion Pages / Op-Ed Columnist February 26, 2016

By David Brooks

We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.

Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.

The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

But that’s sort of the beauty of politics, too. It involves an endless conversation in which we learn about other people and see things from their vantage point and try to balance their needs against our own. Plus, it’s better than the alternative: rule by some authoritarian tyrant who tries to govern by clobbering everyone in his way.

As Bernard Crick wrote in his book, “In Defence of Politics,” “Politics is a way of ruling divided societies without undue violence.”

Over the past generation we have seen the rise of a group of people who are against politics. These groups — best exemplified by the Tea Party but not exclusive to the right — want to elect people who have no political experience. They want “outsiders.” They delegitimize compromise and deal-making. They’re willing to trample the customs and rules that give legitimacy to legislative decision-making if it helps them gain power.

Ultimately, they don’t recognize other people. They suffer from a form of political narcissism, in which they don’t accept the legitimacy of other interests and opinions. They don’t recognize restraints. They want total victories for themselves and their doctrine.

This antipolitics tendency has had a wretched effect on our democracy. It has led to a series of overlapping downward spirals:

The antipolitics people elect legislators who have no political skills or experience. That incompetence leads to dysfunctional government, which leads to more disgust with government, which leads to a demand for even more outsiders.

The antipolitics people don’t accept that politics is a limited activity. They make soaring promises and raise ridiculous expectations. When those expectations are not met, voters grow cynical and, disgusted, turn even further in the direction of antipolitics.

The antipolitics people refuse compromise and so block the legislative process. The absence of accomplishment destroys public trust. The decline in trust makes deal-making harder.

We’re now at a point where the Senate says it won’t even hold hearings on a presidential Supreme Court nominee, in clear defiance of custom and the Constitution. We’re now at a point in which politicians live in fear if they try to compromise and legislate. We’re now at a point in which normal political conversation has broken down. People feel unheard, which makes them shout even louder, which further destroys conversation.

And in walks Donald Trump. People say that Trump is an unconventional candidate and that he represents a break from politics as usual. That’s not true. Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.

Trump represents the path the founders rejected. There is a hint of violence undergirding his campaign. There is always a whiff, and sometimes more than a whiff, of “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

I printed out a Times list of the insults Trump has hurled on Twitter. The list took up 33 pages. Trump’s style is bashing and pummeling. Everyone who opposes or disagrees with him is an idiot, a moron or a loser. The implied promise of his campaign is that he will come to Washington and bully his way through.

Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero. As the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams found, the one trait that best predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter is how high you score on tests that measure authoritarianism.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements. As Harold Laski put it, “We shall make the basis of our state consent to disagreement. Therein shall we ensure its deepest harmony.”

Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights | ThinkProgress

Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights | ThinkProgress.

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Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.
That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.
But there may be a shift on the horizon.
As the new year kicks off, the pro-choice community is beginning to lay the groundwork for a new kind of strategy. On the state level, they’re beginning to push for legislation that not only rolls back anti-choice restrictions, but also expands health care opportunities for women and their families. They’re striking a delicate balance between finding common ground with social conservatives — like focusing on preventative care and maternal health outcomes — while maintaining that abortion is also an important aspect of reproductive health. And grassroots activists are committed to nudging the dial forward on issues that have long been considered too controversial for the political sphere.
We’re starting to define what a new agenda for reproductive freedom looks like in the 21st century.”
“The momentum has shifted,” Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told ThinkProgress in an interview. “Americans as a whole have had enough. We’re not just going to sit idly by and fight defensive fights and take these attacks on reproductive freedom sitting down. We’re starting to define what a new agenda for reproductive freedom looks like in the 21st century.”

A new agenda for reproductive freedom
So what does that agenda look like? In a political atmosphere that’s long segregated women’s health care from the rest of policy as a “culture war issue,” it involves a more comprehensive approach to reproductive freedom.
“Abortion access is ground zero of reproductive freedom; without it, we don’t have autonomy and self-determination over our lives. But it’s not as though our reproductive lives start and end there,” Hogue noted. “There’s a whole landscape out there of policies that have lagged far behind.”
Those policies include other health-related initiatives, like ensuring that women have access to family planning services and maternity care. They involve tackling sexual health issues, like cracking down on domestic abuse and rape. But they also include economic policies to help ensure that women have the resources to direct the courses of their lives and provide for their families — like equal pay legislation, affordable child care services, and efforts to prevent workplace discrimination. Rather than framing reproductive rights as a women’s issue, groups like NARAL are working on making the point that they’re also inextricable from the nation’s economic agenda.
We want women to know that there’s a path, there’s a fight being made on these subjects.”
On a national stage, some lawmakers have already made the shift to talking about women’s full equality in this way. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) were particular champions of this fight in 2013, attempting to reposition women’s economic success as a national priority. “We want women to know that there’s a path, there’s a fight being made on these subjects,” Pelosi told ThinkProgress in July.
State legislatures starting to lead the way
Pelosi has focused on workplace equality as a women’s issue without necessarily coupling that effort with other areas of women’s rights, like abortion rights or sexual assault prevention. But state lawmakers are beginning to propose sweeping packages of women’s health legislation that include the full range of those issues.
For instance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pushed an ambitious Women’s Equality Act — which included measures to advance pay equity, outlaw discriminatory practices against women in the workplace and the housing sector, tighten penalties for sexual crimes, and reaffirm reproductive rights — in 2013. It ultimately failed to pass because some members of the legislature wouldn’t agree to its abortion-related provision, but the female members of the Assembly’s Democratic majority are ready to try again. They’re already urging Cuomo to take up the full version of the legislation again this year. They’re also framing these issues broadly, pointing out that advancing women’s equality is more than access to gender-specific health care. “We believe it is important to look at all of those barriers women face and to make sure we include issues such as access to affordable, high-quality child care, paid family leave and eldercare so that New York’s women and families have every opportunity for a dynamic future,” a statement from the Democratic Women Assembly Members explains.
State lawmakers are beginning to propose sweeping packages of women’s health legislation.
Pennsylvania probably doesn’t immediately come to mind as a state that’s committed to protecting reproductive rights — Guttmacher rates the state as “hostile” to abortion, since it’s enacted several harsh restrictions on the procedure — but lawmakers are making a very similar push there. In December, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a package of legislation that includes measures to strengthen workplace protections for pregnant women and nursing mothers, prevent anti-abortion harassment at health clinics, advance pay equity, and protect victims of domestic violence.
“The Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health represents a genuine cross-section of issues and concerns facing women today,” Rep. Dan Frankel (D-PA), one of the lawmakers heading up the new initiative, explained when it was first introduced. “This is a comprehensive collection of bills based on what women want in regard to their own health.”
Just this week, a pro-choice coalition in Virginia unveiled the 2014 Healthy Families Legislative Agenda, another broad push to advance women’s health from this angle. After a high-profile gubernatorial race that resulted in the election of pro-choice Terry McAuliffe, reproductive rights activists are eager to begin undoing some of the damage to women’s rights in recent years. In addition to pushing to repeal the state’s forced ultrasound laws and harsh restrictions on abortion clinics, the coalition is also advocating for expanding Medicaid and increasing health coverage for low-income pregnant women.
“We are re-orienting ourselves a bit more toward offense and trying to take advantage we see in this immense backlash to these really radical attacks on women’s health care access,” Anna Scholl, the Executive Director of ProgressVA, explained to ThinkProgress. “I don’t want to minimize or underestimate the size of the hole that we have to dig ourselves out of… But we are taking a much more holistic approach to choice and to women’s health, putting together an agenda that we think will support families across the Commonwealth in every one of their childbearing positions.”
Are national lawmakers finally ready to go on the offense?
The end of 2013 signaled a potential shift in the way that Washington approaches abortion rights, too. Of course, getting pro-choice legislation past both chambers of Congress is far less likely than beginning to turn the tide at the state level. But national lawmakers are indicating that they may not be afraid to take a bold stance in favor of reproductive rights. In November, a group of Senate Democrats introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, the first piece of national legislation in nearly a decade that is intended to protect — rather than dismantle — abortion rights. The Women’s Health Protection Act would prevent states from enacting medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion.
“This assault on essential, constitutionally protected rights has gone on too long,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, explained in an op-ed when it was first unveiled. “We are introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013 this week to end it, once and for all.”
When you actually take a strong, courageous stand on abortion access as part of a full suite of reproductive freedom, voters reward you.”
NARAL’s Hogue points to Wendy Davis, a relatively unknown state lawmaker who rose to national fame after fighting to defeat stringent anti-abortion legislation in Texas, as evidence that the American public is ready for more elected officials to go down this path. “When you actually take a strong, courageous stand on abortion access as part of a full suite of reproductive freedom, voters reward you. We’re going to see more of that, and we’re going to incentivize more of that,” she noted.
And grassroots activists are preparing to push lawmakers even further. The hostile environment around abortion has made elected officials wary to take any strong stance on expanding access to the procedure, particularly if that results in taxpayer dollars financing abortion. For nearly 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has outlawed federal funding for abortion, preventing low-income women who rely on Medicaid from using their insurance coverage to help pay for the procedure — and Democrats have largely refrained from doing anything to get rid of that policy. But this past fall, reproductive justice activists formed All*Above All, a coalition that hopes to bring a renewed momentum to the fight to restore abortion access to economically disadvantaged individuals.
“All*Above All pushes back on the long-running urban legend that funding abortion coverage is some kind of political third rail,” Kierra Johnson, Choice USA’s executive director, explained in a statement about the coalition’s launch. “This campaign offers people a fresh approach to declare their support for bold action to change these policies.”
Looking to 2014 and beyond
“I think we’re going to sort of hit our stride in 2014,” Hogue told ThinkProgress. “In 2014, we’re going to see a lot more offensive legislation. We’re going to start to see states really experiment with what policy packages look like that actually support women at all stages of their reproductive life, and we’re going to demand what we need to be thriving, equal members of American society.”
But change is slow, and after such a dramatic recent assault on women’s bodily autonomy, it will take time to pull the country back to the other direction. As ProgressVA’s Scholl noted, there’s still a lot of damage to undo. In deeply red states like Texas, much of that damage will only continue to worsen this year. And, of course, the pro-choice community may be mobilizing for 2014 — but so are abortion opponents.
According to Hogue, the shift will begin in 2014 and get even more dramatic in 2016 and 2018. It will take several trips to the ballot box to counteract the power that the Tea Party built up over the past three years. But there’s reason to believe that the American people, who have repeatedly rejected legislative attempts to restrict abortion, are ready for a dramatically different approach to reproductive freedom.
“It’s going to take longer than more election cycle to re-center the country where the actual center is, but make no mistake — this shift has started to happen,” she noted. “The pendulum will be swinging back in this direction for quite some time.”

Day Sixteen of GOP Government Shutdown: Congress Overturns Shutdown | Nel’s New Day

http://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/day-sixteen-of-gop-government-shutdown-congress-overturns-shutdown/

After weeks of temper tantrums, the GOP members of Congress have decided that their attempt to dump the Affordable Care Act is indefensible. The government opens up again tomorrow thanks to the passing of a continuing appropriations bill with a Senate vote of 81-18 and a House vote of 285-144. Eighty-seven GOP House members and 27 GOP senators voted for the bill.

What the CR does:

The government is funded through January 15, 2014The debt ceiling is raised until February 7.Congressional leaders will establish a Senate-House conference to negotiate fiscal reforms and report the result to Congress by December 13.The Treasury Department is permitted to continue its use of “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the government’s bills when the debt limit is reached.Furloughed workers will receive back pay for the time that they were not working.Income verification for Affordable Care Act applications will be tightened.Sequester cuts are kept at the current level.It provides a $1.2 billion funding authorization increase for the Army Corps of Engineers to improve of locks and dams on the lower Ohio River on the Illinois-Kentucky border in Senate Minority Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) area.It allocates $450 million to rebuild flood damage in Colorado as well as $36 million to the Department of the Interior and $600 million to the Forest Service for fighting wildfires and refurbishing the fires’ damage.

What the CR doesn’t do:

The 2.3 percent tax on medical devices is neither eliminated nor delayed.And anything else that the GOP House members wanted.

The fight is not over. McConnell (R-KY) declared that the GOP will continue the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare, meaning that another shutdown can happen in January. The Republicans may have more problems the next time around because polls show that the popularity of the health care reform law is rapidly growing.

After gathering House minions at a local restaurant yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has decided that opening the government, which he doesn’t support but won’t oppose, is really a win for him. When he was asked what he gained in the last 3 weeks, Cruz said that more than 2 million people signed his petition to defund Obamacare. Those two million people translate into fund-raising for Cruz’s future political aspirations.

Right now, fundraising in the South is benefiting Democrats who have outraised GOP counterparts during the third quarter which ended September 30. One of those races will include McConnell who was down $230,000 to candidate Democratic Secretary of state Alison Lundergan.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that he knew the conservative Republicans wouldn’t win: “People don’t like government, but they sure don’t want it shut down.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also spoke out against House conservatives: “I just bitterly resent some of the things that have been done.”

Conservative Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he hopes the Republicans pushing to derail ObamaCare “learned a lesson that shutdowns and defaults shouldn’t be a part of the way we do business. They should be off limits. We have plenty of other legislative tactics we can use.” Hopefully, he’ll remember this when Sens. Cruz, Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rand Paul (R-KY) lead the charge to close down the government in another three months.

Karl Rove wrote an angry op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. Except for the accusation of the trap, his conclusion is right on target:

“Barack Obama set the trap. Some congressional Republicans walked into it. As a result, the president is stronger, the GOP is weaker, and ObamaCare is marginally more popular. The battles over spending, taxes and debt have not been resolved, only postponed. It’s time Republicans remembered that bad tactics produce bad outcomes.”

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) voted tonight to continue the shutdown just as she originally voted to close the government. At the same time she wants help for her state after a blizzard may have destroyed $100 million of its $7 billion cattle industry. Without the shutdown, cattle ranchers would file claims at the local offices of the USDA Farm Service Agency to file claims for their losses. The shutdown, however, closed those offices.

A week ago, Noem asked the House to help these ranchers because of the “unprecedented” nature of the blizzard that blew through her state. She said, “”There may be disagreement over certain parts of the federal budget, but not on FEMA.” Her state is especially reliant on federal funding because it has no personal or corporate income tax and a sales tax of only 4 percent, the second lowest of all states with sales taxes.

Noem also wants a permanent increase in assistance by expanding the livestock indemnity program in the farm bill. One rancher who lost 96 percent of his herd of 100 cattle wasn’t insured because storm insurance is too expensive. Thus Noem thinks that federal taxes should give insurance to all her cattle ranchers but not to the 50 million people in the United States who cannot afford health insurance.

A members of the Agriculture Committee, Noem voted for the $39 billion cut in food stamp funding over the next decade, taking benefits from 2.8 million low-income workers. Last year, she also voted against federal assistance for victims of Superstorm Sandy that devastated parts of New York and New Jersey. Noem is now on the conference committee to work on a farm bill to replace the one that expired at the beginning of the shutdown.

Instead of “NIMBY” (Not in My Back Yard), Noem’s philosophy represents that of many in the Republican party, “OIMBY” (Only in My Back Yard).

The conservative party members who whine about the deficit just cost the economy as much as $31 billion since their ploy started on October 1. With the GOP having pushed the U.S. to the brink of default and destroyed people’s willingness to spend money, the economy will continue to weaken. The possibility of Fitch Ratings lowering the nation’s rating caused the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, important for interest rates, to rise four basic points from  0.04 percentage point to 2.73 point. Three-month notes rose to their highest rates in more than two years.

Last month, banks were paying for the privilege of buying Treasury notes. Those days are gone. Instead of providing needed services and boosting the economy, tax dollars are now going to lenders, and budget deficits are again growing. The past two weeks have diminished the United States and made it less financially strong and globally competitive, its people less economically secure.

At one time, the Heritage Foundation, although conservative, was a think tank. Now it’s become a radical rightwing, destroy-the-country, organization. Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham proved that this morning on Fox when he explained that the GOP had shut down the government to keep Obamacare from going into effect on January 1. After praising Republicans for standing strong—at least until this morning—he admitted, “Well, everybody knows that we’re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017, and that we have to win the Senate and win the White House.” GOP members of Congress determined to close down the country are getting paid for being total obstructionists.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to protect House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and take the high ground. In the end, however, he admitted that the GOP was responsible for the debacle: “We won’t be the last political party to overplay our hand,” he said. “It might happen one day on the Democratic side. And if it did, would Republicans, for the good of the country, kinda give a little? We really did go too far. We screwed up. But their response is making things worse, not better.”

Even extremist Pat Robertson, who actually told a woman that her husband is ill because she’s not tithing, thought the GOP went too far in the government shutdown: “The Republicans have got to wave the white flag and say, ‘We fought a good fight and now it’s over. They cannot shut the government down and then bring about a default. We can’t do it. I mean, it would be devastating economically to every human being and the Republicans just can’t get tarred with that.”

Furloughed workers will have to rely on the media to determine whether to go back to work. The employees were strictly ordered not to check government e-mail but instead to monitor television broadcasts and check into the web site of the Office of Personnel Management for instructions. The last post on this website was on October 1. Workers in the Labor Department were told:

“Please note that all employees are expected to report for work on their next regularly scheduled work day following the enactment of appropriating legislation which allows normal DOL operations to resume.”

 October 17, 2013 – Spirit Day

Tomorrow is the first day that the government will be open this month. It is also the fourth Spirit Day, a day to remind people to take a stand against bullying and to show support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Wear your purple, the color that symbolizes the “spirit” on the rainbow flag.

 

trp2011 | October 16, 2013 at 8:37 PM | Tags: continuing appropriations resolution,government shutdown, Spirit Day | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p1vpbG-F7

Day Fifteen of GOP Government Shutdown: Divisive, Duplicitous Tea Party

Nel’s New Day

October 15, 2013

During the past several months, I have encouraged people to sign up at Cover Oregon, a model for the 24 states that provide exchanges, or “marketplaces,” that compare insurance rates and give poor people the chance for health insurance subsidies. This morning she told me that her sister told her not to sign up because of dangers in identity theft. After I got my temper under control, I asked her what her sister’s salary is. She responded, “$250,000.”

My friend is a wonderful, generous person who unfortunately tends to be gullible. She also lives with and cares for her aging mother, which gives my friend an over-exposure to the Fox network. Again, I see the influence of the people who will do anything to destroy Democrats and who have no concern for the poor, even if they are relatives.

Because of people like my friend’s sister, the Affordable Care Act will not be able to help two-thirds of poor, insured blacks and single mothers as well as more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance. The total population of the 26 states refusing Medicaid is about half that in the U.S., but 68 percent of poor, uninsured blacks and single mothers live in those 26 states. About 60 percent of the country’s uninsured working poor also live in those 26 states. That’s 8 million people who can’t have medical help because of the states controlled by Republicans that refuse Medicaid. Because each state can set its own income ceiling for the top income of Medicaid eligibility, it can be as low as $11 per day, about $3,000 in Mississippi and Texas.

Originally, the health insurance exchanges were established to pick up where Medicaid left off. This level, which would have been established by the federal government because it would pay for it, was fairly high—138 percent of the poverty level. The Supreme Court removed the Medicaid mandate for all states, leaving the people below the exchanges but above the horrible Medicaid income ceiling in no 26 states with no health insurance.

Virginia is a classic example of have-nots, especially notable because its Rep. Eric Cantor is the legal gatekeeper who refuses to allow bills to enter the House to close the shutdown. Cantor has also worked tirelessly to close down Obamacare. The state has done almost nothing to help residents to sign up for the exchange, which is federally run because Virginia refused to have anything to do with the Affordable Care Act.

The federal government is paying all Medicaid charges for states that expanded the program. The health care reform law in those states requires that Medicaid is open to anyone earning up to 133 percent of poverty, about $15,300 for a single person this year. In Virginia, adults without children or who don’t have a disability cannot get Medicaid at all, no matter how poor they are. Coverage for parents cuts off at 30 percent of poverty, or about $5,900 for a family of three. Fourteen percent of people in Virginia, about 1.1 million, have no health insurance.

Making the situation is the GOP to not increase the debt limit. People who think that this cannot affect them should not have credit cards, 401(k)s, adjustable rate mortages (ARMs), or any benefits from government, including Social Security and government contractor payments. The first two will likely go up, the third will vastly shrink, and the fourth may be delayed.

Our current disastrous gridlock comes from the split in the GOP, demonstrated by the debacle at the World War II Monument last Sunday which included a Confederate flag, signs calling for the president’s impeachment, the verbal abuse of police, and the trash left behind by the crowd. Tea Party activist, Larry Klaman of Freedom Watch, said, “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come up with his hands out [sic].”

The small apolitical Brats for Veterans Advocacy (BVA), disappointed with veterans being used as “political pawns” in the shutdown, posted a “Million Vet March on the Memorials” on its Facebook page. Larry Ward with the grassroots veterans organization Special Operations Speaks (SOS) saw the post and offered SOS’s help in promoting the rally. BVA agreed, and Ward drafted press releases and asked Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to appear at the event.

BVA objected to publicity such as “tyranny” and “protest.” The group didn’t want politicians at the event and “divisive” language because it was “causing confusion with our cause.” Ward said that they wouldn’t mention BVA in the promotion to SOS members so that he could use “harder anti-Obama messaging.” BVA had envisioned thousands of veterans gathering on the Mall and singing the Star Spangled Banner—“no one storming a barricade.” Ward said that people don’t congregate to sing.

SOS and BVA went their separate ways, as shown by the different websites. On Monday, BVA also issued a disclaimer regarding SOS participation. SOS is part of the Tea Party mentality that will keep the government shut down and the veterans from getting their benefits.

Comedians were worried when President Obama was elected that they might run short on subject matter. No fear—the GOP are here. Andy Borowitz has a classic example with his satiric column entitled “Rand Paul Proposes Reopening Just Enough of Government to Hold New Hearings on Benghazi.” Borowitz ended with this (possibly fictional) statement from Rand: “For the two weeks of this shutdown, the American people have had no new information about Benghazi. It’s time to stop the madness.”

Humor doesn’t need to be fabricated, however. The RNC tweeted its New Jersey constituents, urging them to vote today in the election determining whether candidate Cory Booker or the Republican would go to the U.S. Senate. When Huffington Post pointed out that the election is not until tomorrow, RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski got snippy. Republicans are probably still irritated because Gov. Chris Christie’s fear moved the senatorial election away from his own for fear that he might lose.

Joking aside, another day has passed with no action about the government shutdown. Earlier today the House GOP planned to pass a CR including the delay of the 2.3 percent on medical devices for two years, stricter income verification for Obamacare applicants, and elimination of the health insurance subsidies for members of the Congress, Cabinet, and the president. By the end of the day, they had dropped the first two parts, and some GOP members were so unwilling to give up their subsidies that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) couldn’t get enough support to put the CR up for a vote. The measure would also fund the government only until Dec. 15 and raise the debt ceiling to Feb. 7. The Senate had suspended any talks to allow the House to act.

Yesterday Fitch Ratings announced that it was putting the U.S. on an increased risk of a default and the nation’s AAA rating on a negative watch. Citigroup told analysts that it was trimming its holdings in Treasury debt that were due to mature before the end of the month. The Dow Jones average dropped 133 points.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) blasted the House GOP: “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle. We would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.” He added that the party’s brutal poll numbers made it clear that the GOP needs to accept a deal and end the shutdown. When asked about his opinion, McCain read from a paper in his hands that “74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans in Washington are handling the nation’s budget crisis. That’s why!”

Thanks to the GOP Tea Party, the United States is rapidly losing respect in the world. Yesterday, the New York Times reported:

“Chinese leaders called on a ‘befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.’ In a commentary on Sunday, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua blamed ‘cyclical stagnation in Washington’ for leaving the dollar-based assets of many nations in jeopardy.”

Tomorrow is another day. The Senate plans to return to negotiating, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has met with 15-20 highly conservative GOP representatives in the basement of Capitol Hill’s Tortilla Coast to plan amendments to the Senate plan including dismantling Obamacare.

Meanwhile members of Congress are getting paid, receiving free health insurance, and going to the taxpayer-funded gym.