If I were a Hobbit, right about now I would be wondering just how the heck I wound up at the center of this Washington intraparty political fight, personally. What (I would ponder in my metaphorical Hobbit hole) had I done to any of these folks to deserve being dragged into this fracas?
Archive of Articles for July, 2011
As I write this, the House of Representatives has still not voted on Speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the debt ceiling. But no matter how the vote goes, the real question behind this week's action in the Republican caucus in the House may be whether Boehner will still be Speaker when the shouting's over and done. The simmering Tea Party factionalism may be about to explode into public view, in other words.
There are now only a handful of possible outcomes of the debt ceiling standoff in Washington. We'll get to them all in a minute in more detail. One way or another, it's a pretty safe bet that the issue will (at least temporarily) be resolved by the fifth of August, at the absolute latest. Bank on it. The reason for such certainty is a simple one: if the debate goes on in any way past that date, then it will start to cut into Congress' month-long summer vacation. Which is (as any observer of American politics should know full well) the one unthinkable bridge-too-far in Washington. Because Congress' vacations are sacred... at least, to them.
We're all sick and tired of the debt ceiling debate, so I'm just going off on a complete tangent today for a little grammar rant. Hope no one minds.
There is a grand tradition in Washington -- which is followed by both parties, at various times -- of avoiding big and politically-delicate problems. This tradition used to be called the "blue-ribbon commission," although for some reason the "blue-ribbon" part isn't used much anymore. But whatever you call it, this political dodge is created for one purpose and one purpose alone: to waste time. To the best of my knowledge, no commission (blue-ribbon or otherwise bedecked) has ever come up with a solution to anything which has been thus implemented by the politicians (again, of either party) to solve a big problem (although you could make an argument for the base-closing commission, I guess). But virtually all of these commissions have succeeded wildly on their main objective of wasting as much time as possible.
The bigger space news this week, sadly, was not that exciting. The final space shuttle mission just ended. Although I didn't see it specifically, a newspaper headline-writer with a sense of irony would have set the story under: "The Shuttle Has Landed." Because this week also saw an anniversary of import to the discussion -- 42 years ago this Wednesday, Neil Armstrong radioed back to Houston the immortal phrase: "The Eagle has landed," marking the first safe landing on Earth's natural satellite by the human species.
This is but one poll, to be sure. But most of the other polls I've seen this week back up the data presented here. Americans are turned off by Republican extremism, and open to Democrats' willingness to compromise. They are disgusted with the way the lawmakers in Washington are operating, and they may just take out this anger next year at the polls.
A battle is currently being fought in Libya over the town of Brega, which could turn out to have strategic importance for the rebel forces. This battle has been underway for days now, and may continue for days to come. The American media has so far been ignoring this development in the Libyan revolution, perhaps due to lack of solid information from the frontlines. But it deserves a bit more attention than it has so far been getting.
I find it interesting in the media circus surrounding Rupert Murdoch that nobody has yet started making references to the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies -- since the villain in it was nothing short of a thinly-veiled caricature of Murdoch himself.
In the past few weeks, one rising star has appeared in the Republican firmament (or two, depending on how you count them), and more than a few have begun fading -- perhaps permanently -- from center stage. But the field itself is not yet set (in terms of who is actually running and who will sit this one out), as the Republican Party continues to search for the perfect candidate to defeat President Obama. In fact, two of our four frontrunners this time around have not even announced their candidacy yet -- showing how volatile the entire race still remains.