Tag: Shutdown

National Parks Are Kicking Out Libertarians… For Cleaning Them Up

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

The government shutdown has turned into the longest one in United States history. The consequences have included our TSA not being paid (scary!) and the National Parks losing funding. In addition, the FDA is shut down. So amidst the constant slew of overdoses on cheap EpiPens and terrorist attacks, some kind-hearted libertarians decided to step up to the plate and do their part for nature.

Continue reading “National Parks Are Kicking Out Libertarians… For Cleaning Them Up”

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Government Shutdowns and Debt Ceilings

Craig Axford | Canada

Government shutdowns and flirtations with default by putting off raising the federal debt ceiling have become regular occurrences in Washington, D.C. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised given the number of representatives and senators regularly expressing disdain for the very institution they were elected to run, but still.

Americans like to believe their nation is exceptional, and it is: it’s the only developed nation on the planet that doesn’t guarantee all its citizens healthcare, higher education is more expensive there than just about anywhere else, it has the only government that it’s possible to shut down without having to resort to violence, and it’s the only nation that flirts with suicide by requiring votes on its debt ceiling.

That’s right. No other governments have even one, let alone two, kill switches built into their system. And why would they? What’s the point? Unless the intent is to erode public confidence in government it makes no sense for elected officials to even contemplate closing down popular national parks or giving all the people in charge of enforcing our public health and safety regulations an extended unpaid holiday?

The habit of shutting down the government now and then (as well as the continuing resolutions passed to avoid them) is an unintended bug in the American system rather than a feature of it. So too is the necessity to authorize more borrowing periodically once the national debt has reached a predetermined threshold. Both of these bugs are extremely dangerous but, unfortunately, they are likely to remain unfixed for the foreseeable future.

America’s founding fathers were revolutionaries. As such, they were no fans of the British government, which by the late 18th century was already well established and quite recognizable to any citizen of the 21st century. Though King George III was the titular head of state, like his contemporary successor Queen Elizabeth II, he had very little actual power to match the privileges that came with his hereditary title. Parliament was already very much in charge.

Nothing like what took place in Philadelphia following the American Revolution had ever been seriously considered, let alone attempted, in London. To intentionally sit down and craft rules for a new government quite literally being built from scratch was a radical idea if ever there was one. To call America an experiment is not an exaggeration. As with any experiment, the outcome is unknown until it has come to a close. The American experiment hasn’t ended, but so far it certainly has produced some unanticipated results.

In creating the modern world’s first republic, America’s victorious rebels were faced with the task of establishing rules for a country that no longer had centuries of tradition to fall back on. The norms of the mother country they had just abandoned had evolved over hundreds of years of power struggles between the aristocracy and the crown, with a nascent merchant middle class increasingly making its own demands over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. The newly independent colonies wanted to distinguish themselves from the nation they had just liberated themselves from, but how?

The US Constitution settled for a president instead of a monarch, while the House of Representatives took the place of the House of Commons and the Senate stood in for the House of Lords. Each elected member of these respective branches is subject to regular fixed terms of office, with the power balanced more or less equally between them rather than resting largely in the representative branch (i.e., parliament) alone. With the exception of the extremely rare and difficult case of impeachment, the US Constitution provides no opportunity to hold any single officeholder accountable for failure during the period between elections, let alone the government as a whole. Federal judges receive lifetime appointments, something else not seen in any other developed representative democracy to this day.

In a parliamentary system, the failure to pass something as routine as an annual budget triggers a crisis. Under the Westminster parliamentary model followed in the UK, Canada and several other members of the Commonwealth, this crisis brings down the government and forces the monarch or her designated representative to dissolve the government and call an election. In unstable periods when minority governments are common, elections tend to be relatively more frequent, while in less turbulent political times a majority government can persist for five years or so before facing a vote.

Likewise, when a parliament authorizes spending beyond the government’s anticipated revenues, it is understood they have necessarily approved an increase in the national debt. Therefore, there is no need to consider raising the debt limit independently. From the perspective of citizens living in parliamentary countries, it makes no sense that the same Congress that approved deficit spending one month can spend time the next flirting with a refusal to allow any borrowing. It’s like having a government that doesn’t know its own mind.

Unfortunately, the kind of crises that bring down governments in parliamentary systems has become commonplace in the United States. Budgets go years without being approved, with Congress lurching from one continuing resolution to the next while various factions hold federal employees and the citizens dependent upon their services hostage until some pet project or favorite policy or another is approved in exchange for keeping things running for a while longer. A Prime Minister Donald Trump would either be facing a vote of the people at this point in the budget process or a leadership challenge by members of his own caucus. One year in office would be unlikely, but four would almost certainly be impossible.

I’ve been living in Canada for the better part of a decade now. On most days I find myself feeling pretty ambivalent about the monarchy if I even think about it at all. That’s not because I can see equal merit in both sides of the argument regarding having someone born into the role of head of state. It’s because I recognize all societies require a sense of continuity and for some countries that can take the shape of a monarchy that has existed in one form or another for centuries. A woman that appears on our money while playing an entirely ceremonial role is harmless, if not for the actual person forced into the job by an accident of birth then at least for the rest of us.

I’m not feeling so ambivalent about having a parliament, however. I have strong opinions about the two Canadian prime ministers I’ve lived under so far. But the extent of my approval or disapproval aside, at least I know that the nearby Pacific Rim National Park will, weather permitting, always be open and that with the exception of national holidays at the local Services Canada office the door will never be locked. Even the UK Brexit debacle hasn’t convinced me parliaments are less effective or ultimately less democratic than the divided governments that have become the norm in the US.

If for some reason, it turns out parliament can’t do its job there will be an election lasting a little over a month while the people try to vote one in with a sufficient mandate to do it. In the meantime, things will go on pretty much as before without any nightly news reports about government employees unable to pay the rent because someone got it into their head they wanted to build a wall. I know it’s incredibly unAmerican to say so, but if you were to put me in a time machine and send me back to 1776, I would tell the founding fathers to get rid of the monarchy if they must, but at least keep the parliament.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com


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YouTube Down Across Servers Worldwide

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

As of 10:20 PM EST Tuesday, the YouTube.com website is down. The outage started about an hour ago, at 9:20 PM. When going to the homepage, users see a blank page. The search bar is still present, but none of the recommended or suggested videos appear.

At this time, it is still possible to search videos from the bar, and results are coming up. However, upon clicking on any video, an error message occurs. This, of course, renders all of the videos entirely unplayable, even though the search results are visible.

History for YouTube outages is very limited. This past summer, during the World Cup, the YouTube TV services went down for a short period of time. Moreover, some specific channels were shut down in April.

Despite this, there has not been a major shutdown of the entire site in over a decade, when Pakistan tried to censor a video that they thought was anti-Islamic in content. The Pakistani government was tasked with shutting down the site within the country’s borders but accidentally shut down the site worldwide. This outage took several hours to restore.

With YouTube down, users cannot be sure when to expect the video service to return to its proper function.

Several users have taken to Twitter to discuss the unforeseen outage. A number say that they have never seen anything like this before.

Other users are taking to memes as a form of protest against the outage. The YouTube down memes are flooding through Twitter with the hashtag #YouTubeDown.

UPDATE: As of around 10:40 PM EST Tuesday, YouTube is fully operational. They have not yet released a cause.

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Shutdown Looming as President Trump Threatens to Veto Budget

By Nick Hamilton | United States

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday morning, in his usual tweetstorm, that he is considering vetoing the spending bill that has just passed the Senate, 65-32.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,” the President tweeted, early Friday morning.

This comes after the White House assuring on Thursday that the President would support the plan. Both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support, however, despite Mick Mulvaney, the Management and Budget director on Thursday saying that the bill “funds all of [Trump’s] priorities,” the government may be shutting down at 12:01AM on Saturday morning.

Trump reportedly wants to receive $25B in long-term funding for his border wall in exchange for protecting recipients of DACA. In Trump’s book, Crippled America, he asserts this kind of nature, saying he would indeed be stubborn when trying to strike deals.

So, it’s no surprise to see President Trump threatening to veto this budget due to him not getting what he wants. He’s done it in business, why should expect different while he’s President?

Many Republicans support this legislation (including Speaker Ryan, who met with President Trump on Wednesday), however, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) took to Twitter early Friday morning to encourage President Trump to veto this bill, tweeting in response to President Trump’s tweet: Please do, Mr. President.

I am just down the street and will bring you a pen. The spending levels without any offsets are grotesque, throwing all of our children under the bus. Totally irresponsible.”

It’s looking very possible that we may be entering another government shutdown.

 

 

 

The Shutdown: Just Another Show That Pragmatism Will Never Work

By Ryan Love | USA

In 2013 on the eve of implementation of Obamacare Republican Ted Cruz initiated a filibuster to shut down the government. The theory being that by using the shutdown as leverage Obamacare would not be implemented. Naturally, the Democrats met this action with fierce resistance. They lambasted the unwillingness of Republicans to compromise and they raised can about how damaging a government shut down can be. No one thought to ask them “Would Democrats support a shutdown?” But if they had I wager the answer, if you could get a straight one from a politician, would be no.

Fast forward to a week ago, Republicans, lacking enough senators to surpass the 60 Senator limit to pass the continuing resolution to prevent a shutdown, appealed to the Democrats. As we all know the government shut down. Democrats did this as a way to force a vote on DACA, the executive order issued by Barack Obama granting temporary protection to illegal immigrants brought to America as children. Republicans, trying to force a vote, made it clear that if the CR was not passed needy children would not receive healthcare. Politics is a dirty game but that does not mean that the hypocrisy of both sides should not be exposed and criticized.

This recent debacle (a shutdown is truly a debacle) is but a microcosm representing a broader ideological problem, that can be analyzed through the following question: what separates the Democrats from the Republicans? Using the analogy of a coin, it is nothing but a thin strip of metal. The Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same ideological coin. And like a coin they cannot exist without the other. The broader globalist system, supported by both parties, as made evident by bipartisan agreements on things such as The War on Terror, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and both sides willingness to engage in a government shutdown highlights this. It is wholly laughable to argue that there are distinct differences between the two parties. And if there are differences, they are surely outweighed by both parties’ desire to maintain hegemonic power in the American political sphere.

What is to be done about this broken and fool-hearty system? From my estimation, support the President. Now for die-hard Trump supporters, there is nothing else to say. President Trump, for all his faults, is certainly not a member of this political establishment. The radical nature of his election can be regarded as a point of condensation. A rally around the radical mysticism of his election.  This type of energy, the infectious energy that spread across the country that “Made America Great Again”, can be harnessed for a broader ideological goal that fosters change. Essentially Trump’s energy can be used for goals either Trumpian or not.

The most important thing to be said here is that one must abandon the cult of pragmatism. The cult that insured Hillary Clinton would win, with all the data, and polls, and mainstream media assurances. Trump has laid a blueprint to attack and dismantle the vast ideological machine that is bleeding us all to death.


Image from Business Insider.