There Is No Reason for Anyone to Be Happy About How the Shutdown Ended

American Flag as a brick wall

Shutting down the shutdown and avoiding imminent default was not like Idris Elba in Pacific Rimcancel[ing] the apocalypse.” Democrats making victory laps on the heads of irritated Republicans seems a bit premature, don’t you think? Talking point-fueled elation notwithstanding, the average person looking on won’t understand cheery partisan piston pumps when the $24 billion plus in damage is already done, not to mention the sting of a perennially uncertain political system. This wasn’t our proudest governing moment, unless governing by crisis is your thing.

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Are Normally Hawkish Republicans Endangering U.S. Security Abroad?

U.S. CAPITOL BUILDINGIt’s not at all clear if Republicans, especially those knee-jerking and red-necking in the House, have assessed that a government shutdown is having a massive impact on American foreign policy. The nation has been brought to an unnecessary and crumbling cliff—mostly because a small contingent of mostly rural, outhouse lawmakers want to make a point. But, beyond the domestic impact and future Constitutional crisis this will soon raise are the rather dangerous ramifications abroad.

Which is strange considering Republicans are quick to brand themselves as more hawkish and pro-defense than Democrats.

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Democrats Screwed Themselves Using “Obamacare”

shutterstock_affordable-care-act-obamacare

Question to Democrats: Whose bright idea was it for you to start using the term “Obamacare?”

Oh, yeah, that’s right–it was the guy who created it. Putting his hands up in resignation after a few years of unnerving Republican temper tantrums, the god of Obamacare thought co-opting the term would be a clever way of turning the tables. “I like it,” said the President during his first debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney this same time last year. “I do care.”

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6 Reasons Cory Booker Lost a Whole Lot of Ground to Steve Lonegan

There was a tremor on the political Richter scale you may have missed, since partisan prognosticators and Crossfire fan-kids have been all but assuring us of a Cory Booker senate race shoo-in. In fact, you’d think the New Jersey Senate race was done and that Booker was already hanging drapes in his Capitol Hill office.

But the latest Quinnipiac University poll suddenly shows Newark Mayor Booker’s lead much smaller than Gov. Chris Christie’s hit-and-run crush of State Sen. Barbara Buono in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race. Booker now leads Republican and former Bogota, N.J., mayor Steve Lonegan 53 percent to 41 percent. While that might seem like a comfortable 12-point lead, Booker should be concerned since the last Quinnipiac poll on Aug. 7 showed Booker leading Lonegan by 25 points.

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Guns, PTSD, Mental Illness and a Post-Navy Yard World

As the theories about what set Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis on his homicidal tear pile up, old policy clashes are re-emerging. Gun control advocates are quick to offer assorted “we-told-you-so” arguments, and for good reason. But as fevered as the uproar over guns is the conversation on mental health.

Once details emerged that Alexis had a long post-9/11 history of mental issues, the spigot of outrage flowed. How could a 34-year-old disturbed Navy veteran with a Molotov cocktail of “anger management” and firearms episodes get a security clearance to the facility overseeing Naval operations worldwide? Here in D.C., getting security clearance for a cushy federal gig is like finding gold. You can’t even get one if you have bad credit. So, how did Alexis slip through the cracks?

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Are Whites Stripping the Word “Racist” of Its Meaning?

Even though we’ve got the Democratic primary for the New York City mayoral race out of the way (well … sort of), for some reason we can’t forgot about that awkward moment when the Big Apple’s outgoing boss Michael Bloomberg fumbled his way into the always-thorny issue of race.

In a New York magazine interview, the outgoing mayor called democrat Bill De Blasio’s campaign “racist,” then clumsily backtracked to suggest the candidate, whose wife is black, was using that fact in a bit of class warfare. The stickiness of the moment, as moist as a sudden September heat wave, seemed to define the primary all the way to its clumsy photo finish. That wasn’t such a bad thing considering Gotham’s electorate was up to its receding hairline with Anthony Weiner jokes.

But, the massive New York City political scene couldn’t help but weigh in on it, from De Blasio and his wife, to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who piped up to revive an otherwise bland public profile. However, what stood out wasn’t the reaction, but the very nonchalant, wave-of-hand way in which Bloomberg dropped the “R” word.

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Are We Heading for a Civil War Over… Pot and Guns?

In the 19th century, it was tariffs and slavery that eventually triggered a Civil War here as devastating as the one we’re debating over in Syria. In the 21st century it’s pot, guns and ObamaCare that tempt the return of old tensions once known as the Nullification Crisis.

As noticeable as dysfunction in Washington is the rampant regionalism which defines its partisan factionalism. Many of the ideological red lines drawn on Capitol Hill appear very much a result of geographic lines beyond it, something that shouldn’t go unnoticed or be casually ignored—yet it tends to get dismissed with “it can’t happen in the 21st century.” Still, contemporary American politics continues its descent into the regurgitation of old issues that history books would have us think were resolved—until gangs of Republicans engineer unfriendly reminders. That has the electorate comfortably isolating itself—at least politically for now—into corners of red and blue, and (more uncomfortably) into acres of North and South.

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Let’s Not Overreact to the Syrian Electronic Army Threat

Fascinating reports about the sudden rise of the Syrian Electronic Army will ultimately raise more questions about federal investment in technology than how long U.S. military assets will be lobbing cruise missiles at Damascus. The topics seem unrelated, but they’re not, particularly since the new kid hacking sensations on the block have successfully forced the New York Times to send online readers to their mobile site.

That’s a feat of abundant tech-ticular fortitude by numerous measures these days, leading many to wonder if a full-blown cyberwar isn’t already brewing. Less than two full weeks ago, and right on the cusp of a possible Syria strike, Google, Amazon and Outlook.com blew a fuse.

Was it really technical difficulties, or was it the SEA digital guard blasting bits all over the Internets? There’s no way to confirm at the moment since we’re all caught up in politician huddles over next steps.

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We Need to Rebrand the Climate Change Conversation

As the Earth appears to snap, crackle and pop into a molten lava pulp of pain, the reaction of its largest super power inhabitant is ineptitude and partisan bickering. We’ve always known Washington is its own greatest enemy; in the case of imminent global apocalypse, we see that Washington is now the planet’s greatest enemy. As the world spins about rudderless and leaderless, policymakers delve deeper into tit-for-tat talking point plays from extreme sides of the debate.

House Republicans want us to walk away with the impression that they’ve attached some semblance of urgency to the issue by planning an unprecedented multi-agency hearing on climate change scheduled for Sept. 18. But this is really just optics and political maneuvering in the wake of slow leakage of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report due sometime next month. What we do know from what’s been released is that climate change is real and much of it is due to unmitigated human pollution. There may be minor disagreements over how soon it gets worse.

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Democrats Should Be Wary of a Hillary Coronation

Should Democrats continue with their coronation of Hillary Clinton as their nominee for 2016 — prior to any official primary — they run the risk of appearing as manufactured as their Republican counterparts. They could end up looking as old-school, out of touch and unauthentic as their rivals.

Commentators point to us having been here before — when Clinton was the junior Senator from the Empire State and presumptive nominee with a brand name in politics as big as Jay Z in hip-hop (and dubious sports team deals). True: The scent of pre-2008 hype is thick the air like incense sold on a Philly street corner.
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