The Youngs are revolting against Obama (and it’s not just because of Obamacare).
This might be one of the stupidest things I’ve read today, and I’ve been going through emails from the Tea Party for most of my morning. Several rapid thoughts:
- The language. I know it’s your “shtick” to try and sound like a young person when writing this thing (“It’s like totally official now, bro,” “The stimulus… was an epic fail,” “Barack Obama seemed like the coolest cat…”), but it’s patronizing and insulting. No one from an older generation, ever, has mastered the nomenclature of the ones that come after it. You would not write an article about black voters with Ebonics thrown in there for laughs. It just makes you seem… well, out of touch.
- The inane statement that President Obama is somehow, inexplicably, “worse” than President Bush when it comes to political doublespeak and dishonesty. This is all based on the spurious claim that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” is on par with death panels and pulling the plug on grandma… or, going back further, the massive, massive fraud pulled on the American people to get this country involved in Iraq in 2003. In terms of political lies told, a statement made by the president about legislation while it was still being drafted that later turned out to be untrue (although I will argue until I’m blue in the face that it’s being blown out of proportion, because the plans that are being dropped are plans that can no longer legally be offered under the Affordable Care Act, anyway) does not a great whopping pants-on-fire fib make.
2a. The insulting claim that the rollout of healthcare.gov is in any way similar to the federal government’s disastrous handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 2,000 people died on the Gulf Coast. A major American city was underwater. It was one of the most devastating storms to strike the United States, and the Bush Administration handled it about as well as I handle a basketball. Healthcare.gov =/= a hurricane. President Obama handled a hurricane in October 2012 — and remember all the laurels laid at his feet for how well he responded to Hurricane Sandy?
- The notion that pushback from Rand Paul, Justin Amash, et. al., somehow stopped American involvement in Syria, and that American involvement in Libya has been disastrous. Despite the superficial similarities (“both are Middle Eastern countries run by brown people with scary names!”), the conflict in Syria and the conflict in Libya were very different both in terms of what was happening and what international intervention could do. NATO air raids would not work to end the civil war in Syria in the same way that they helped ease the conflict in Libya. To claim otherwise is to stick your head in the sand and shout loudly “IGNORANCE IS BLISS!”
Nick Gillespie is peddling libertarian gobbledegook, claiming with confidence that Americans just want less government and that all of our problems will be solved by eliminating the entire executive branch and letting His Holiness Pope Ron Paul II and his acolytes run this nation by committee. There are few legitimate criticisms of the Obama Administration to be found in here. President Obama never campaigned as an anti-war candidate. There was little he could do during the Gulf oil spill in 2010. (What, would you have him swim down to the drill itself and plug it with his fingers?) He has pushed back against the “drill baby drill” crowd and encouraged (or tried to encourage) the development of greener energy. He has seen the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, and is the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality. The hyperventilating about the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an Internet conspiracy theory best left to the gutters of reddit.
Why are young people “abandoning the president” in droves? Because young people have low turnout rates and tune out, typically. This isn’t an election year, and you will not be getting the attention of the Millennial Generation until 2016. (Sorry Democrats in 2014. I’ll be working with you.) The other reason is more complicated, and it has little to do with President Obama.
My generation was the hardest hit by the Great Recession, which, if you’ll recall, started in full swing in 2008, before Barack Obama’s presidency. The causes of the Great Recession are myriad and complicated, but it can be traced back, in part, to the culture of deregulation and the erosion of safeguards that took place starting when Ronald Reagan was elected. Bill Clinton triangulated his way through the ’90s, pushing through modest progressive changes but, on the whole, upholding the status quo established by the Reagan-Bush years. George W. Bush continued the trend and exacerbating the problem by waging two wars while cutting taxes, increasing spending while decreasing revenue.
The perfect storm was in place in September 2008 when everything went down the crapper, and the kids who were going into college (I was in my first semester when Lehman Brothers collapsed!) were the ones who’d be screwed the hardest. Employment plummeted, especially for young people. Wages fell, especially for young people. Governmental services were cut. The safety net was vanishing and we were free falling.
Did the Obama Administration fix everything? Absolutely not. But it could have been so much worse. He could have taken the Hooverian approach to economic crises (i.e., do nothing), and we would be in the middle of a second Great Depression. Of course young people are dissatisfied with the way things are — we’ve been royally screwed over! (If you are under the age of 40 and you think you’ll have Social Security benefits when it’s time for you to retire, I’d really like to know your plan for getting them because I’d like Social Security, too.)
A six percent drop in the youth vote between 2008 and 2012 does not make this president an unmitigated disaster and disdained by the Millennial generation. That’s an overwhelming majority of the youth vote. I do not know why Republicans and libertarians like Nick Gillespie are insisting on declaring the presidency of Barack Obama over and done with when he still has three more years captaining the ship of state, but they are wrong in almost every way.
You asked, I answered. I used my night off to research and write a breakdown of the Federal Government shutdown. Read, educate yourself, enjoy.
How can the government shut down?
The government is in many ways a massive business. It makes money through loans, taxes, etc, and it spends many on everything from defense, federal agencies (health, science, defense, parks, etc) and paying the millions of people that work for the federal government. Congress has to agree to fund all of these things by passing a budget.
The budget process is a mess, but here’s the short version:
Polarization and policy gridlock have made Congress really bad at this. Each year, Congress is meant to agree on these appropriation bills that fund various federal agencies. But the Republican controlled Senate and the Democratically controlled House of Representatives haven’t, and therefore have been getting stuck on Step 4: Reconciliation. If they can’t agree on the appropriation bills, they can pass continuing resolutions to keep the government running while they bicker like children. These stopgap budgets have been keeping us afloat since 2009.
Like any business, with no budget we have no money to spend. And if we have no money to spend, the federal government enters a shutdown. This time around, Congress has not been able to even agree on a continuing resolution, so we have entered a shutdown.
Back Up. What happened? How did we get to this point?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereafter referred to as ACA) - colloquially known as Obamacare - happened. I broke down the primary tenants of the Affordable Car Act a little while ago. A very long story short, Republicans have not let it go. To date, though doomed to fail in the democratically controlled Senate, Republicans have voted on repealing ACA nearly four dozen times. Though the law was passed, then subject to Supreme Court approval, then approved by the Supreme Court, Republicans have continued to lobby to have it either defunded or shut down.
The issue has come to a head in the last couple weeks. The Republican party initially insisted on attaching a bill to the containing resolution that would defund ACA. They then gave up on that and added a measure that would push back for one year a key tenant of ACA- The Federal Mandate (again, see the previous breakdown). President Obama refused to sign any budget that would diminish ACA, and urged Republicans to pass a “clean” bill with no provisions attached. Republicans refused. The stalemate went past the 30th, and the government shut down went into effect.
What exactly is a government shutdown?
A government shutdown is what happens when the government no longer has money to pay for the various government agencies and services it funds. Essentially, the government goes on auxiliary power, as all quintessential services continue but everything considered nonessential is shut down. All nonessential government employees are furloughed - sent home/temporarily suspended - until further notice. These nonessential services include parts of the National Institute of Health, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department, the Immigration department, the Department of Agriculture-run Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and a plethora of other government services and agencies, will go on hiatus.
Various “essential” parts of these and other agencies stay open. Most of Social Security, employees that “provide for national security”, employees that “conduct activities that protect life”, etc, remain open. The list of agencies and services that are affected (and precisely which part of said agencies/services) is exhaustive; if you’d like to delve deeper, read this Washington Post article.
So who is affected?
The effect can be devastating. Approximately 800,000 government employees are no longer receiving income. Not only is this painful for those families, it is painful for an immeasurable amount of businesses at which these people will no longer be shopping. Every single sandwich shop, toy store, gas station, grocery store, etc, where these government employees would be spending their money will feel the pinch as those employees and their families tighten their belts. Secondly, the shutdown actually costs America a huge deal of money. The time and resources it takes to shut everything down and keep it safely shut down adds up; according to the Washington Post, the government shutdowns in the ’90s cost America almost $2 billion in current dollars.
Whose fault is it?
That’s the million dollar question. Many - including President Obama - argue that it is the fault of Congress Republicans for refusing to accept the Affordable Care Act as a passed and approved law. Republicans argue that they are fighting in the interest of the American people and their constituents, and blame the president for refusing to compromise. The arguing continues, and the hundreds of thousands affected by the government shutdown continue to suffer.
Black and white does not always equal grey, though. Several polls taken by multiple news and media organizations show that Americans place more blame for the GOP on the shutdown than President Obama. According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released on Monday, most Americans blame Republicans rather than the government for the shutdown. A CBS/New York Times survey released the week before indicates the same. The Republican party has taken a hit to their public image as they are seen holding the budget ransom, demanding that the President accept the hit to Obamacare or face government shutdown. The bluff was called, and the government (partially) shut down.
President Obama has stated that the Republicans refuse to give up their ideological crusade, and are willing to drag down the country with them. “They have shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job,” said Obama. Apparently, a majority of America is inclined to agree.
What do you think?
I think it’s complicated. The full story requires going back years and delving deep into the origins of the Tea Party - a radically conservative group of Republicans within Congress - and their sway over the rest of the party. But I believe that the end result is this: The Affordable Care Act has passed. It was voted into law, it was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. It is not going anywhere, and to damage the lives of millions of Americans for the sake of hurting the law is any way possible is irresponsible and deplorable. A budget must be passed. If Congress Republicans want to fight the Affordable Care Act, that is their right. But it should be done after the government has resumed its function.
“Absolutely Everything you need to know about how the government shutdown will work”. The Washington Post.
“Everything you need to know about why the government might shut down”. The Washington Post.
“Stages of the Congressional Budget Process”. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget.
“Government shutdown blame would fall on Republicans, GOP seen as ‘Spoiled Children’." The Huffington Post.
“Polls: Americans put more blame on the GOP for shutdown”. USA Today.
Anonymous asked: Why is the government "shutting down"
I’ll answer this just as soon as I can.
letterstothelovesick asked: Hey! Can you breakdown the gov shutdown? How does it work exactly and what does it mean? I know it affects my job somehow...
Thanks for the request. Negative free time but I will do my very best to get this up as soon as I can.
I listened to President Obama’s speech yesterday, and the part that struck me the most was his statement that, though he had the authority to issue the military strike against Syria, he had decided to ask Congress for permission instead. This begs the question - who controls the military? Can the President declare war? Why or why not?
Well, let’s break it down.
Just who’s in charge here - Congress or The President?
The framers of the Constitution meant for Congress to have more power than the President. In the Federalist Papers (articles written by the framers of the Constitution to allay fears and convince people the Constitution was a good idea), Madison wrote “..it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates”.
Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, “The Powers of Congress”, spells out seventeen explicit powers of the legislative branch over society, the economy, foreign affairs, and the military, while Article II, Section 2, which details the power of the executive, gives only three relatively vague (though significant) powers: to command the military, make treaties and appoint ambassadors, and to fill up vacancies in the Senate during a recess.
While each branch of the government is meant to have its own place and powers, the framers of the Constitution meant for the legislature to be the predominant branch of government.
Okay..so Congress is meant to be more powerful. So who can declare war?
Congress. The President does not, because the Constitution says he doesn’t.
Others must have worried about the executive taking control of the military, because once again the framers of the constitution had to quell fears of executive dominance. In Federalist Paper 61, Hamilton writes, “the President will have only the occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as by legislative provision which may be called into the actual service of the union…the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies..all appertain to the legislature”.
In Section 8, Congress’s power over the military is mentioned five times: the power to call forth the Militia, declare war, raise and support Armies, provide and maintain a Navy, and to organize, arm, and discipline the militia. The executive’s power is only mentioned once, that the President “shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the States…when called into the actual Service of the United States”. Though command of the military is an enormous power, it is only given to the executive when Congress has called the military to service.
Alright! Done Deal. What’s the problem?
The problem is that presidents have been finding workarounds to this since the country began. In most cases, they just blatantly disregard this provision. Presidents have been engaging in hostilities, committing troops, and utilizing the military and then running to Congress to back them up very nearly since the country began.
You get the point. The provision that’s meant to keep the executive branch from effectively controlling the military is little more than a joke. Presidents since Abraham Lincoln have claimed that their role as Commander in Chief gives them the right to do what they feel is necessary to protect the United States. Whether they are correct or not is a question for scholars of the Constitution.
But What About the War Powers Act?
Good question. In 1973, Congress got sick of its inability to keep the president from doing what he liked with the military, and passed the War Powers Act. Fun fact: President Nixon vetoed it, but Congress was united enough to overcome his veto with a greater-than-two-thirds majority vote.The War Powers Act requires the president to inform Congress before committing troops abroad in military action. If he does, he has 60 days, with the option of a 30 day extension, to get them out (sound familiar?). In order for the campaign to continue, war must be formally declared by - you guessed it - Congress. The War Powers Act concedes that the President is going to use military force without Congress’s former consent, for good or for ill. But it constrains his ability to do so by giving him a very small window before he must seek Congress’s approval for further action.
So..he does have the authority?
Whether the President has the authority to commit military forces is a tricky question, but history has shown time and time again that he does have the ability.
The War Powers Act tacitly gives POTUSes permission to utilize military force, if only by acknowledging that they’ll do so anyway and constraining them after the fact. "Declaring war" is just a formality, and not particularly important. The most important question is, "Does the President have the ability to authorize military action?", and for better or worse the answer to that question is "yes".
As I mentioned before, whether he should have this ability is a tough question. Strict interpretation of the Constitution would lead to an answer of “no”. Recognizing that the world is complicated, Congress is a mess, and sometimes the executive may have to act quickly to ensure the safety of the United States might lead to an answer of “…maybe”.
Alright, so what about Syria?
The strike against Syria falls into a grey zone. He may not be putting “boots on the ground”, but he is still committing troops and forces to combat operations. Precedent shows that Obama’s statement during his speech was also in the grey zone between right and wrong: though he may have the ability to commit the military without Congress’s approval as other presidents have done, whether he has the authority is a question of Constitutional interpretation.
Just because presidents have always extended the power of their office doesn’t make it right. The checks and balances meant to keep the United States government in equilibrium have become so strained it is a wonder they still work at all (if, indeed, they still do).
Though Obama may have the ability to begin military action without Congress’s consent, as a Constitutional scholar he ought to know that he probably shouldn’t. His choice to go to Congress with the question of military action - though he refused to say he wouldn’t go ahead and authorize military action if Congress voted against him - shows that hey, maybe he realizes this. The Constitution has been stretched and skewed from its original balance of powers continuously for hundreds of years. If power continues to flow inexorably into the hands of the executive, I don’t know exactly where it will lead us, but I’m confident it won’t be to a good place.
The Constitution of the United States.
Rossiter, Clinton, ed. The Federalist Papers. New York: First Signet Classic, 2003.
Kernell, Samuel; Jacobson, Gary C.; Kousser, Thad. The Logic of American Politics.
Deleted my last post because I felt it needed some work. I’ll repost it soon.
Hell yes! That’s my President!
What do you think we should do about Syria, and why?
Terrible things are happening over there. The government has lots its collective mind and people are dying as a result. The prospect of sitting back our haunches and watching the shoe seems repugnant to me. And yet, nobody wants “another Iraq”, as so many people are beginning to make the comparison to.
Bush was widely criticized for making America the police of the world. Yet I believe that Syria is not the next Iraq. I believe that drawing that comparison is prety goddamned stupid, and I’ll tell you why. Our purported reason for invading Iraq was that they had weapons of mass destruction. They did not. UN Specialists said they did not. Our own team of investigators came back with a report saying they did not. And yet we went in anyway.
Now, the reason for aggression against the Syrian government is that it has slaughtered tens of thousands of its citizens in a brutal civil war. Nobody is disputing this. Whether this is reason enough to attack Syrian military outposts is another question entirely; my point here is that the two situations are not the same.
If we were to attack the Syrian military, I would want UN Support. Yet terrible things are happening and the United Nations is in complete gridlock thanks to the actions of Russia and China. With the formal, official channels impossible blocked and the atrocities mouting day by day, what do we do? And why?
snailwood asked: Your comparison between Trayvon with a white teenager in skinny jeans and a tight Hollister t-shirt is laughable. To claim that Trayvon's race was the factor by which Zimmerman profiled him, and then use that comparison shows either a lack of intellectual honesty, or intellectual clarity. You would have to make the claim that Zimmerman wouldn't have followed a white teen wearing the same clothes as Trayvon to claim that Zimmerman profiled him based on race.
Oh hey, never saw this question. You’ve a fair point in that by changing the clothing of my hypothetical subject, I introduce another variable into the equation. Eliminating the variable and putting hypothetical white kid in a hoodie, I’d still happily claim that Zimmerman wouldn’t have followed a sandy blond (or whatever hair color you’d like) white teenager wearing a hoodie with skittles and juice in his hands.
1. When I’m working on a new 3d model? No.
2. When I’m doing some basic stress analysis or sketching a new design in my notebook? No.
3. When I’m sitting cross-legged on my desk, eating a Greek yogurt and checking tumblr on my phone? Naturally.