Twenty-four billion flushed down the drain, but Ted Cruz gained his fleeting fame.
That seems to be bottom line for the disastrous Tea Party slam down that brought our Federal government to a wrenching halt for 16 agonizing days, continuing right up to a last second Congressional deal avoiding chaotic global consequences, possibly concluding with catastrophic collapse.
Standard and Poor's, a highly regarded, non-partisan financial services company, says the debacle has also reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3% to 2.4%, a significant blow to our national economic health.
Here in the foothills, an extensive article in Friday's Fresno Bee cited such specifics as business cut in half at Todd's Barbeque in Oakhurst, a reservation cancellation rate of 90% at the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge just outside Sequoia National Park and similarly stark developments at the Narrow Gauge Inn near the southern entrance to Yosemite. All told, over a half million business bucks were blown here in Madera County alone.
One of the most disturbing aspects of our first Federal shutdown in 17 years, now ranked as possibly the most severe ever, were the well-worn canards, clichés and quaint commentaries emerging from an, oftentimes, seemingly clueless general public.
A now famous and clearly catalytic NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published Oct. 10 demonstrated a decisive majority of voters blamed Republicans more than Democrats for the suspension of services. Less reported was the fact that an astounding 60 percent also said that they would vote and replace every single member of Congress, including their own representative, if such action was possible.
"Government sucks." "They need to get along." "Everyone is to blame." False equivalency is the sign of a sluggish mind.
While a requirement to pay taxes is important, the need to pay attention is even more imperative.
Watching Fox News is not paying attention.
Updated studies confirm that those watching FOX are less informed than those watching no news at all. That doesn't mean FOX viewers are stupid just unknowingly susceptible to cynical, ratings-driven programming that elevates form-over-substance. Human nature finds comfort in the confirmation of righteous pre-conviction. Ask Bill O'Reilly on his way to the bank.
But turning off TV and referring to our president as a "tyrant," "thug," or "disgrace" is insipidly, abysmally lazy and hateful demonstrating not only pungently pretentious posturing, but shameful ignorance of information easily accessible from a multitude of alternative media sources.
Our own Congressman Tom McClintock (R-California) shares direct responsibility for all of the horrors recently encountered in the Tea Party fiasco and should be held appropriately accountable.
His Republican colleague, Devin Nunes (R-California), said it perfectly in voting to reopen the government along with seven fellow GOP California representatives. Nunes exclaimed, "No more lemmings!" having earlier described colleagues who were willing to bring about the shutdown as "lemmings with suicide vests."
I'm hoping that Devin can convince his furry friend Tom to agree with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and publicly confess that any similar actions in the future should be judged as hopelessly irresponsible.
In an interview Thursday, McConnell admitted that his party had learned a painful political lesson. He said he saw no reason to go through the agony again in January 2014 when the current stopgap measure is set to expire.
Quoting McConnell, "One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there's no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of the mule was when we shut down the government in the mid-1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days. There will not be another government closing. I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is."
In a Sierra Star column last April, I unambiguously stated that Tom McClintock was no fool. We'll soon find out if he's a mule.
I'd hate to have to call on Tom Waits.
"And I filled me a sachel full of old pig corn. And I beat me a billy from an old French Horn. And I kicked that mule to the top of the tree. I kicked that mule to the top of the tree."
Tom Waits "16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought-Six" --"Mule Variations" (1999)