But also, four ludicrous letters: A lot of confusion surrounds the discussion of the so-called government shutdown. Example:
As Gail Collins jokes her way through the topic today, do you understand the highlighted point? Warning! Butch Otter joke:
COLLINS (10/3/13): So here we are. The Senate has passed a bill to keep the government running until Nov. 15. A majority in the House would probably go along, but the House leadership won’t let the bill come up for a vote. The fate of the nation now appears to be hinged on a couple dozen unhinged House Republicans who are demanding that government funding be coupled with Obamacare axing.If the whole west coast succumbed to bubonic plague, Collins would be joking about it in her very next column. In this instance, we’re forced to endure another “Butch Otter has a funny name” joke, for what is now the eighth time.
Public-spirited citizens are now forced to become acquainted with a whole new collection of characters who seem to be running the show, like Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho. Actually, he is the easiest one to remember, since he once considered running for governor against the current incumbent, Butch Otter. I think I speak for us all when I say that Labrador versus Otter would have made 2014 worth waiting for.
Ignore all that! In a chamber which has 435 members, do you understand how “a couple dozen unhinged House Republicans” could be ruling the fate of the nation?
We’re not sure we understand that either, and Collins doesn’t bother explaining. (We keep hearing different explanations.) And doggone it! Across the page in today’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof makes the same claim with a slightly larger number:
KRISTOF (10/3/13): The only reason for the government shutdown is that a small number of Republican hard-liners, around 40, insist on relitigating health care reform over and over. If Speaker John Boehner allowed an open vote on the budget, it would likely pass. But Boehner hasn’t done that.Kristof says the number is forty. But in a chamber of 435 members; in a caucus of 234 Republicans; how can forty people keep Boehner from staging a vote?
Like Collins, Kristof doesn’t explain. But he does a great deal more in this morning’s column. He runs through four “excuses” being offered by Republicans for the ongoing shutdown. As he does, he bats them aside in clear, understandable ways.
A lot of confusion surrounds discussion of the shutdown. On TV, to cite one example, pundits and pols keep getting drawn into discussion of the merits of Obamacare.
We had that discussion for a year in 2009 and early 2010! Today, these reruns are constantly replacing discussion of the reasoning and the behavior of those who are causing the shutdown.
Kristof does an excellent job looking at the excuses they offer for their conduct. But good God! On the facing page, the New York Times has published five letters about this very same shutdown.
Who in the world selected these letters? We’d say that four of the five are either confused or utterly worthless. One of the letters says this:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (10/3/13): Who caused the government to shut down? You and I did by electing the wrong people to represent our interests in Washington. We made the mistake of believing the promises of professional politicians, both Democrats and Republicans.Could a letter be more pointless? It’s followed by a letter designed to stir the soul:
What can we do to rectify our mistakes? Make better decisions about whom we elect to represent us in the future. Actions (of politicians) speak louder than (their) words.
Dallas, Oct. 2, 2013
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (10/3/13): As expensive, time-consuming, emotionally draining and senseless as the Congressional budget battle may seem, I am grateful to live in a country where a minority group with such strongly held opinions can act on its beliefs, exercising its rights in a peaceful way, within a democratic process, without fear of harm or retribution.In Canada, those two dozen senseless people would almost surely get shot.
Edina, Minn., Oct. 2, 2013
(Question: If those people are engaged in expensive, time-consuming and senseless behavior, wouldn't a minor bit of “retribution” possibly by a good thing?)
The New York Times must have received hundreds of letters about the shutdown. It’s amazing to review the bunch some editor chose to publish.
Again, a basic point:
It’s very hard to comprehend the low caliber of our upper-end press corps. Again, we’ll turn to The Kevin Drum Files for a possible explanation:
Was there too much lead in the air when these journalists were children? We’re thrashing around for a way to explain the work we find in the Times.