Shutdown, Day…. Over?

There’s a deal…but it’s unclear if I’m going to work tomorrow. In their final act of douchebaggery, Congress passed this measure one day before I was supposed to be on leave due to a friend being in town. SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS? Can’t you do ANYTHING right?

I know this is good for the country and we won’t default on our loans and yadda, yadda, yadda… but like, I’m not entirely ready to go back to work. It’s going to be weird. I think there will be cobwebs on my desk phone.  My monitor may have been eaten by rats.

The important thing to remember is that the Tea Party failed in their attempt to derail our government. They failed hard. Like, Icarus falling from the sky for flying too close to the sun levels of hubris. Turns out behind all that crazy is… nothing. Not a damn thing. They had no plan, no exit strategy, and honestly believed that stamping their feet and holding their breath like children would result in capitulation. NOPE.

But seriously, now that I’m done gloating (I’m not NEARLY done gloating), the actual important thing to remember is that ultimately, and perhaps at the last possible minute, the system worked. We don’t yet know the lessons of this particular debacle, but today we remain a democracy. Thank God.

 

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Shutdown, Day 15 [insert snarky but uncomfortably true thing here]

We are now 24 hours away from not paying our bills, as a nation. The country is engaging in the same game of paycheck chicken that most of us participated in for years during school. The only difference is our Chinese debt holders are not as kind as your junior year landlord. Or maybe they’re more kind. I don’t know your life…. this metaphor has gone off the rails.  

There was a deal, then there wasn’t a deal, then the House Republicans blew up the deal. I don’t know. I’m done paying attention. This isn’t funny any more. It was just me and 799,999 other federal employees salaries, and the shutdown of services across the country. But a debt default is going to fuck us all. 

To be clear, the shutdown and the debt ceiling are two different things; the debt ceiling is about paying for the things Congress already authorized, while the shutdown over the budget is about authorizing new things. But they have become tied, because this is all arguably about spending. The difference is that we already made these purchases. We don’t get to say “um, I don’t feel like paying this, even though I said I would, because I don’t like the President.” No. We are grown ups. Congress is made of 535 grown ass people. Many of them have mortgages, and car loans, and student loans, and utility bills, so they should know how this goes. I don’t like my downstairs neighbor, I don’t write that on an IOU to the Department of Education loan servicer. Why? Because it doesn’t make a fucking difference. I took out a loan, I am obligated BY LAW to pay it back. Congress defaulting on our loans by not raising the debt ceiling is the same thing. It’s the same thing as me sending a picture of a spider to my creditors with a note that says “this is pretty good. Kthxbyeee.”  

I don’t know what to tell you, people. Congress has lost it’s damn mind, and it’s taking the rest of us with it. On day one of the shutdown, the morons of the internet kept talking about how this meant we had no laws, how none of the rules mattered anymore. At the time, I thought they didn’t understand what a shutdown really entailed (for example, a shutdown does not automatically trigger marshall law or a “purge”). But now I’m beginning to think they were right. Sure, law enforcement still exists. Sure, I can still call 911. But the conservatives in Congress are leading us down a path where we as a nation no longer play by the same rules which we demand others follow. They are dragooning us into their hypocrisy, and decimating our salaries and stocks for the privilege.

This behavior is criminal. Literally. 

 

Shutdown, Day ALL THE DAYS

I don’t know what day of the shutdown it is, since technically it’s a federal holiday commemorating the end of the world for most Native Americans. Also, America. 

At this point, I’ll honestly be pissed if we get a deal before Thursday. As much as I don’t want the debt ceiling to be crashed into, with the resulting economic trouble, I have friends in town this weekend, and it would suck to have to go back to work when I was already planning to take vacation. A true first world problem, I realize. 

I’ll leave you with this non-sequitur. Stinkbugs are apparently at an unprecedented high, and are a big problem in Virginia and West Virginia, and the shutdown is to blame. The people responsible for getting rid of them are furloughed. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m too saturated in irony already. 

 

Shutdown, Day 11.5/12

My parents are visiting, so I’m getting less screen time (which is a welcome change, since my life was beginning to resemble a particularly angry version of that dog that listens to the radio), which is why I haven’t posted on a true daily basis.  Here are the bullet points: 

– It’s raining. It needs to stop. It’s making everyone angry… angrier. 

-The Truckers Ride for Bullshit was a HUGE failure, and those truckers that did participate were issued warning by the Virginia State Troopers. Word. Civil Disobedience is one thing; creating an actual travel hazard for your made up reasons to hate a legally passed law and lawfully elected President is just dumb. 

– My paycheck did come in today, so a big shout out to the good folks at the NFC for processing payroll. An equally big go fuck yourselves to the members of Congress keeping us shutdown, for the missing $800. 

– Thank God for my parents. On top of emotional support and covering the deficit in my paycheck so I don’t have to run up credit cards they have stocked my bar, my fridge, and my housewares.  The shutdown has basically returned me to my off-campus living college days, where I’d eat buttered noodles for days on end, waiting for my parents to arrive and maybe buy me a piece of fresh fruit. The trade-off is my father doesn’t understand that people can leave the house for more than one night in a row. 

Shutdown, Day 10.5

Apparently there are talks about the debt limit. Whatever. Don’t care. We’re still going to need a budget, and I’m not doing this bullshit again in November.

Washington DC is now running out of contingency funds, which means that in addition to DC not having totally unnecessary things  like trash pick up, we’re running low on rape kits to help victims prosecute their attackers.

But you know, like the government, the female body, in those situations, has ways of shutting things down.  THESE ARE THE ASSHATS IN POWER. If ever you thought that voting didn’t matters… it fucking matters. Vote.  For all of the things. As soon as humanly possible, and as often as is legal. Just… vote. Please.

 

 

Shutdown, Day 9. Well, fuck.

Today shutdown came to the NRC, and with it, my friend E was furloughed. She’s a fucking champ, so we took it in stride with adult beverages and some pizza. Like grown-ups. Welcome to the club. Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu,  today you are a non-essential federal employee.

I’ve sort of forgotten what I do for a living. My job was already nebulous at best, some sort of wonky, DC, policy thingy, but now I’ve really lost track of my current projects. Returning to them is going to be a real bitch, because most of them were with non-governmental folks (we call them stakeholders-barf), and they’re not going to be pleased that we simply stopped returning their calls. At it’s most basic level this shutdown is just plain Stephanie Tanner levels of rude. How rude.

That’s all I’ve got tonight, kids. I’m a little drunk, and a little pissed, but sort of over it. I have no control. I float on a sea of other people’s egos. I have amazing friends, supportive loving family, a roof over my head, a cat by my side, and tonight that’s going to be enough. It may be enough for many more nights to come. Hunker down, because I fear the worst is yet to come. You might want to buy some precious metals and bury them in the ground.

Shutdown, Day 8… for the love of…

Today, reports surfaced that Boehner has the votes in the house to pass a clean Continuing Resolution, but won’t bring it to a vote. No one is entirely sure why he won’t bring it to a vote, nor is anyone entirely sure why Reid won’t bring the back pay for federal workers bill to a vote (see, I am critical of both sides). This is just getting asinine. What’s the exit strategy? Our two parties are playing a game of chicken, except instead of their own cars having a head-on collision, they’re both going to plow into a school bus full of children with cancer, WWII vets, senior citizens on a fixed income, and generally well-meaning employees.

And what’s worse, if we default on the 17th, if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, our credit rating as a nation goes straight into the crapper. That means loan rates skyrocket, the dollar is devalued, and people light themselves on fire on the National Ma- OH WAIT, that happened. PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM THIS SHUTDOWN. People with other pre-existing mental problems to be sure, but DEAD nonetheless. You almost have to wonder if they had access to the affordable medical care they needed to deal with their psychological problems… Look, that might be a low blow, and I have no idea if either the poor woman who drove a car into the White House or the man who self-immolated on the National Mall had health coverage or not, I’m just saying it couldn’t have hurt and maybe we shouldn’t be fighting against people in need, either physically or psychologically, having MORE access to healthcare.

Now we’re hearing that this thing is going to drag on into late October. Can we just take a moment and appreciate how deeply, deeply stupid this is? We aren’t a fucking third world country (no offense to the developing world, but there is more governmental instability there…or their USED to be), but this is basically a coup. We are experiencing a junta, right here in DC. Before you say I’m overreacting, here’s the definition of a junta: “a military or political group that rules a country after taking power by force.” Here’s the definition of a coup d’etat: “a sudden attempt by a small group of people to take over the government usually through violence.” So maybe less so a coup, since it wasn’t sudden (the Tea Party’s been threatening to do this for years), and it wasn’t by physical violence (although the Constitution’s taken a beating).  But I stand by it.

This is not what democracy looks like. This is what a government overthrow looks like.

Shutdown, Day… 7? SEVEN. Seriously. SEVEN. MORE CAPS AHEAD.

Today I stayed home. All day. All day long, in my pajamas. It was heavily raining all day long, and it was exactly the sort of day where I would ordinarily be moved to seriously consider a mental health day. So, I guess today was the first day since the shutdown started a week ago where I was actually grateful that I was forced to stay home. I worked out, I had some coffee, I caught up on magazines, books, cat snuggles, and some spiced hot chocolate. It was sort of great. I felt calm, and centered.

And then tonight I heard about the Truckers Ride for the Constitution, which is encouraging independent truck drivers to protest the shutdown by parking on the Beltway, not moving any cargo for the duration of next weekend. WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK?! HOW IS THIS HELPING? How is this “for the Constitution”? I’ve read the Constitution, and at no point does it encourage or legally enforce unmitigated asshaberdashery in the form of a fucking truck blockade around an already traffic-jam prone, embattled city. These douchecanoes also refer to the President as Barry Soetero, so they’re really being bi-partisan about it.  Here’s one thing the Constitution does talk about: voting. More specifically, voting for a President. More specifically still, term limits, and that when a majority of the people of the United States, as represented by the Electoral College, cast their ballots for a particular person TWICE IN A ROW, he gets to be President BOTH OF THOSE TIMES.

You know who should be excited about this shutdown? Hillary (Rodham) Clinton. You know who should be sad? Civics teachers and ALL OF HUMANITY.

I’m done. I’m just…. I’m done trying to employ logic. I’m tired of bringing rationality to a knife fight. As my father says, there’s no point in wrestling with a pig-you both get dirty and the pig likes it. So I’m walking away from the mud pit. At least for tonight. I’m sure something else will make me screamy tomorrow night.

Sunday Supper: Shutdown, Day 6

I’m beginning to think I’m wasting my furlough. I’ve checked out some new restaurants, caught up on some paperwork, reconnected with some friends. I’ve trudged up and down the city like a vagabond. But, I haven’t tackled some sort of massive home project (I rent), or painted anything (I rent), or fed the homeless (no excuses here).  My parents are coming to town this weekend, so I’m holding off on the non-federal museums (Phillips, National Geographic, Women in the Arts) since we’ll have to do something else other than visit the Constitution and Ford’s Theatre, like we had planned.  I’m also going to do a deep cleaning of the whole apartment because of their visit, and my best friend K’s visit the next weekend.

Basically, I’m bored. I made a chicken. Now I’m making chicken stock. Exciting times. I could travel, but I actually feel like I need to be here, seeing this thing out. Not sure what difference it will make, but I feel like so many people are shitting on my city right now, I don’t want to abandon her too.

What would you do, if you were me?

Shutdown, Day 5

Technically today and tomorrow are weekend days, when I and most of the federal workforce would be at home, anyway. But still, Congress is arguably in session and meeting, so I’m counting this weekend.

The days are beginning to run together. I forgot two separate events I was supposed to attend yesterday. I barely know what time it is, let alone what day it is. Without a regular work schedule, every day feels like a Saturday, and every day feels like a Tuesday. Tomorrow I have church choir, so I know it’s Sunday. God forbid this furlough lasts through the end of daylight savings time, I’ll have absolutely no idea where I am.

Nothing much to report today. Beautiful family brunch to celebrate one of my best friend’s 30th Birthday, dinner at the home of two other friends to celebrate, hopefully, the end of a dark season (though there is much left to do). No one tried to run their car into the White House, no one set themselves on fire, and the House unanimously passed a bill to retroactively pay federal workers* when the shutdown ends. I’m chalking the day up to a win.

* A quick word on this: while I am grateful that it’s looking more and more like I will eventually see some compensation for this undesired furlough, it’s really frustrating that we could have been paying people to WORK this whole time, instead of adding pure debt, with no accompanying productive offset.  In case you’re keeping score, that’s the most counterintuitive model to capitalism. Congratulations, Tea Partiers: you are the people you warned us about.  The fact that the bill passed unanimously, with members all of a sudden singing the praises of the heretofore universally vilified federal workforce, just shows how quickly these people will switch tactics to get a vote. And hopefully shows that they’re losing.

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