As we enter day four of the government shutdown and its accompanying clown show, there appears to be a flicker of light inside the increasingly dark tantrum tunnel. The New York Timeslearned last night that Speaker John Boehner announced to his colleagues in a closed-door meeting that he intends to hold a vote on the debt ceiling later this month, which would side-step a potentially crippling blow to the American economy. The votes are evidently there, and, at least for now, the vote appears to be on.
This is about as good it gets in the wake of a harrowing fiasco in Washington, DC during which a woman with apparent mental health issues plowed her car into a series of barricades outside the White House and was subsequently pursued to Capitol Hill where a gunfight ensued.
The incident seemed to magnify and exacerbate an atmosphere of insanity spreading virally through the halls of Congress -- and, as we'll observe presently, elsewhere. Indeed, the shutdown has turned our collective attention directly to the self-beclowning instigators behind the shutdown, further exposing the fact that this particular litter of congressmembers are not only terrible at conducting political theater, but they're truly despicable human beings -- especially knowing that they're all members of an exclusive club intended to be populated with 535 of America's best and brightest. Instead, the shutdown has once again highlighted that there are way too many incompetents and crazies voting (or not voting) on laws that directly impact the governance and citizenship of the most powerful nation in the world.
Take for example Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) who's collecting a $170,000 annual government salary as compensation for being an all-day, all-night Twitter troll; ejaculating the most childish, unprofessional, bile-filled awfulness into public view practically around the clock via two separate Twitter accounts. Stockman is a talking, tweeting bumper sticker who, if his 140 character screeds are any indication, is a disgrace to the office to which gerrymandering has unjustly elevated him.
For example, there was this:
Har-har. Yes, a sitting member of Congress tweeted that. Stockman also tweeted several variations of the following:
These piecemeal appropriations votes are part of the House GOP's gimmicky plan to only fund areas of the government that would ostensibly make the Democrats look bad if and when they vote against it. Regarding the cancer kids, Stockman was referring a vote to authorize funding for the National Institutes of Health. It's a trick that begins to disintegrate when we rewind to March when Stockman and his Republican caucus voted to cut funding for the NIH by upwards of 20 percent. It was also Stockman and his caucus who refused to pass a clean continuing resolution that would've funded the NIH in the first place, all in the name of de-funding Obamacare, which, yes, would allow cancer patients of all ages to receive affordable treatment without being rejected for an insurance policy due to their obvious pre-existing conditions. And while we're so concerned about children, what about funding for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which, due to the shutdown, will deprive nine million women and children of food.
All of this in service of Stockman and his tea party gaggle's strategy to demagogue and de-fund a law that Congress passed; which the Supreme Court validated; and which 53 percent of American voters approved in the 2012 election (the same election that gave us Steve Stockman).
Elsewhere, everyone from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and all unhinged points in-between managed to turn World War II veterans and the memorial dedicated to them on the National Mall into their own cheap political stunt. Especially disgusting was Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) who, with cameras rolling, scolded and literally shamed a National Park Service ranger, all in the name of scoring political points on the backs of elderly war veterans. Such a move is made additionally egregious when we learn that Neugebauer reportedly received a student deferment to avoid the Vietnam-era draft.
I posted it yesterday, but here's the video again.
When we're forcibly treated to an up-close view of today's House of Representatives, say nothing of the Senate, it's far from reassuring to be reminded that these are the men and women who are tasked with helping to shape the present and future of the United States of America. In addition to not appearing to be very bright, they're not at all effective at the show. Political theater in 2013 has taken on an embarrassing, flop-sweat-inducing flavor. It's almost worse than the scripted stunts on display on any televised reality show because these are public officials who are supposed to be more noble -- who ought to know better. But they obviously don't. Civility has been abandoned in lieu of shouting "you lie!" at the President of the United States, or Neugebauer shouting "baby killer!" at Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and then publicly shaming a ranger who was simply doing her job. Even the mere facade of decorum has been stripped away to reveal an animal house of political hazings and narrow-minded, congressional adaptations of Jackass pranks.
George Carlin once observed that while everybody complains about politicians, they don't magically "fall out of the sky," nor do they "pass through a membrane from another reality."
"If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders," Carlin said. Between that an the increasingly destructive abuse of gerrymandering, it's no wonder why the clown show continues to get clownier by the day. This is one of many reasons why it's beginning to sink in that the shutdown will be long, and the pain will be intense.