• This Is No Way To Run A Country.

    Today marks week two of the ongoing government shutdown, brought to you by the House GOP's refusal to sign off on a congressional budget that included funding for the Affordable Care Act, a legislative act that was already passed and signed into law way back in 2010. For some reason, the idea of mandated private health insurance with subsidies for the poor (which itself was downgraded from a far-superior publicly funded single-payer system) sends most conservatives into epileptic seizures. So much so that it's resulted in a crisis that's only gonna get worse, by all indications.

    Everyone has a stake in this shutdown. For the political parties, this whole ordeal can end one of two ways: if the Democrats blink, that means the Tea Party element of the GOP can cherry-tap their way towards favorable legislative action through constant hostage-taking. The Democrat party ends up getting its electoral chains snatched and reverts to being the perpetual weak sister of the two parties.* If the Republicans blink, it'll cause an already-burgeoning schism between the moderate and extremist ends of the GOP to fully break open. It won't kill the party, but it will be a deservedly swift kick in the electoral jewels. Oh, and John Boehner faces the possibility of having his position snatched from under him by a vengeful Tea Party.

    For President Obama, the stakes are much higher. If he doesn't bend and the GOP refuses to bend, the shutdown keeps on trucking towards yet another fiscal cliff and the president's own image gets tarnished. There'll also be plenty of fuel for an impeachment hearing, if the GOP so desires (a far-gone conclusion). If he bends, the GOP gains victory, adds cherry-tapping to its repertoire of effective legislative strategies and the president's own image gets tarnished. That means the president somehow has to force the extremist and moderate sides of the Republican party to have their own "come to Jesus" moment and pass a clean continuing resolution, preferably before October 17 rolls around.

    For the average Joe working for various government agencies, the consequences of maintaining a government shutdown hit home and hit hard. Example? The United States Antarctic Research Program is the latest casualty of the shutdown, which not only affects the livelihoods and aspirations of the 500 or so people stationed at McMurdo, but also the integrity of various other international Antarctic programs that rely on the U.S. for various logistics and support. Meanwhile, NASA's down for the count, along with the Congressional Budget Office and countless other federal agencies. If things keep up beyond October 17, there's no guarantee of whether people will continue receiving their Social Security benefits.

    For everyone else, it's a prime example of how a few actors within the government, led on by a large contingent of people who thinks that hamstringing the government's ability to function properly is the best way to make themselves and their agenda known. It's also an example of what happens when a small group of people with the government's worst interests in mind are able to hijack a party and force it to do its bidding or face total destruction.

    Or when a party attempts to use a bunch of rabid extremists as its enforcer wing to effect legislative changes without getting their hair mussed.

    Or perhaps when a party gerrymanders the living daylights out of its districts to hold on to as many seats and as much power as possible, only to watch that power slip into the hands of ideological fundamentalists with a hankering for a threadbare federal government and a possible subconscious desire to revive the concept of "state's rights," all with the relative consent of their constituents, most of whom regard "Obamacare" and other federal programs as a giveaway for blacks, illegals and the undeserving poor.

    Either way it goes, current events are clearly showing folks around the world how not to run a country, because this way just ain't cutting it.

    *But at least the perpetual underdogs will still be welcome in every cocktail party in D.C.