Monday, October 7, 2013

Government of Poltroons

The last time there was a government shutdown, I was the consul at the U.S. embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania and fortunate enough to be considered "essential." So I continued to get paid. I had very little to do except think about the enormous backlog of visa applications we were building up, so I straightened up my office and played a lot of games on the computer.

Our junior political officer, however, was not deemed "essential" and didn't get paid. He had a wife and two toddlers to support. I wound up lending him $3,000 or so to get past the 17-day shutdown. (That was back when I had money in the bank.) I'm sure he found it humiliating that he was forced to ask me for money.

The cowards in the House of Representatives don't seem to understand, or care, about the human pain they are causing, not just to federal employees and their dependents, but to others whose income or well-being depends on them -- small restaurants that cater to workers at lunchtime, mortgage lenders who can't close deals because the FHA is shut, vendors at national parks whose livelihoods are threatened and so many others. Literally millions of people are having their lives disrupted by this nonsense. And I do mean "literally."

A friend asked me the other day whether I thought the Republicans, especially the Tea Party types, actually thought they could repeal or delay Obamacare in this way. I don't know. I don't know whether they're delusional or cynical, or both.

What I know is this is no way to run a railroad.

You want to get rid of Obamacare? Fine, win the House and Senate and presidency and repeal it.

In the meantime, stop wrecking people's lives and screwing up the economy.

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