Shutdown: Juvenile self-indulgence


Some of you blame Republicans for the federal government partial shutdown, some of you blame the Democrats and the President’s refusal to negotiate.

Personally, as a registered Republican, I think the Republican party is superior to Democrats but not by much any more, and that the whole of them taken together have, over the last 50 years, betrayed America and the Constitution. But don’t get me started!

If you listen to the President’s whining speeches, which I no longer can abide for more than a moment, he will tell you the government shutdown is unprecedented, but that is a lie.

I could use the kinder version of saying it is inaccurate, but he would have to be dumber than an Anthony Weiner tweet not to know that over the last five presidents there have been 17 government shutdowns and in every case the president negotiated with the other party to find a way through the impasse.

The only thing unprecedented this time is Obama refusing to meet Republicans at the negotiating table while he points his finger of blame, the only thing he seems to be really good at.

Our mainstream media lap it up dutifully for repetition to brain-dead viewers otherwise known as Obama voters.

Welcome to modern America.

If you argue that Republicans shouldn’t be trying to defund Obamacare since it is the law of the land, unlike many of my Republican friends, I’ll give you that one. However, Obama has modified the law to seek his own benefit by waving his royal finger several times, with nary a thought to congressional blessing since they are the law-making branch of government.

Obama postponed the employer mandate for a year at a cost of $15 billion to the system, with the clear intent of getting past the 2014 elections before employers begin announcing to the world they dislike Obamacare so much they are compelled to move herds of employees to fend for themselves on the government exchanges.

The bone of contention is Republicans insisting the individual mandate – requiring uninsured individuals to buy health insurance – be similarly postponed for a year.

Simple fairness seems to be lost on the Democrats, but once the word “fair” passes anyone’s lips we must pivot to the brazen waving of Obama’s royal finger again to exempt Congress and congressional staff from Obamacare.

But hold on there, that part of Republican outrage is inconveniently untrue. As it turns out, the Obamacare law, by an amendment of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), requires members of Congress and their staff to switch from the healthcare they now have, the same as federal employees, to Obamacare.

An unintended consequence of the law’s wording stripped them of the “employer contribution” towards healthcare cost, thereby unintentionally imposing a serious pay cut.

The President’s executive action – another modification of the law with his royal finger to illegally bypass Congress again – provided a subsidy that makes the change neutral in cost to members of Congress and their staff.

In fact, to be scrupulously fair, let’s acknowledge that they get treated worse than we do since they are REQUIRED to switch to Obamacare. Let’s face it, conservatives, Obama’s abuses of power abound, but this is not one of them.

Of course, Obama himself isn’t blessed with any clarity. Commenting about the looming debt ceiling deadline of Oct. 17 that complicates the impasse, and the likelihood he will have to give Republicans something in exchange for their vote to raise the ceiling so the U.S. can continue borrowing money, the President declares with indignation, “I’m not going to negotiate over the debt ceiling, certainly not with a gun to my head!”

Maybe Obama is the only one on the planet not knowing such negotiation is precisely the way our government is designed to work out differences. I imagine what drove our founding fathers in their design was first their thought of “Here’s how it will work if we get elected,” closely followed by, “But what if those bastards get elected?” Thus the delicacy of balance.

Even so, the President wags his finger at the press while he warns that he “… expects a clean debt ceiling bill,” meaning he expects Congress to pass a bill raising the debt ceiling without any unwanted piggy-back rider deals.

Well, good luck with that, especially considering since 1980 the debt ceiling has been raised 40 times, every time requiring presidential negotiation and over half the time the successful bill carried unrelated amendment deals the president didn’t want but had to concede. That’s how sausage is made.

But his majesty thinks himself above it.

My favorite government abuse amidst this shutdown silliness is what have become known as “Barrycades,” the barriers erected to keep the public out of open-air memorials to which the public might normally have access 24/7.

As you know, a mistake in Washington, D.C., is when someone slips up to utter the truth rather than spin the party line, and apparently a park ranger slipped up recently at the Barrycades to admit receiving orders to make the shutdown “as painful as possible” to fuel the blame game against Republicans. Thus the barricades around memorials, where National Park rangers are absent by furlough.

Groups of WWII vets, coming to Washington DC on long-planned “honor flights” found themselves blocked out of the memorial they came to visit. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature must know it takes more manpower to staff the barricades than to merely leave the memorial unstaffed and let the public visit at will. But I guess that doesn’t serve our President’s childish purpose.

Never mind, the vets pushed aside the barricades to visit the WWII Memorial as planned, just as they did at the Marine Corps Memorial at Arlington and at the Vietnam Memorial adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial.

I have to wonder why anyone would barricade the Vietnam Memorial, especially since it was built with private funds. It is usually open around the clock. Some of us like to go there in the wee hours when we can be alone with our thoughts and memories of good guys who died a violent death just when their life as an adult was beginning.

Joe Galloway, a correspondent who spent four tours in the boonies with grunts in Vietnam, is loved by them as the “Ernie Pyle” of that war. Joe tries to comfort the vets he loves in return by telling them he likes to visit The Wall just before dawn when it is very quiet, he says, so if you listen hard enough you might hear the voices say, “We are at peace. So should you be. So should you be.”

I know a lot of guys fuming at the unnecessary barricading of these memorials just to score gotcha political points. Some are sufficiently angry to make the trip for a confrontation. I hope it stays peaceful.

The Lincoln Memorial is also barricaded, just one more attempt by a vain, spiteful, juvenile empty suit masquerading as President of the United States, just one more gambit to point the finger of blame at Republicans and declare to the public, “See, it isn’t my fault!”

I tried after Obama was elected to keep my commentary respectful and give him the benefit of the doubt, but all doubt has long since evaporated. I don’t think Obama would know leadership if it bit him on the backside.

[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is]