Kathleen, Can we talk?; terrible news; read the email carefully (don’t skim); Please, don’t click delete; Absolutely urgent; DISASTROUS; The next two years are on the line; Today’s critical deadline; NEVER in US history (completely unprecedented); DEADLOCKED; Photo finish; Not an option – DON’T DELETE; All is lost; It’s going to come down to you, Kathleen; disappointed; Kathleen!; I need your help, Kathleen!; DISASTER; DEADLINE: Add your name if you live on Earth; I’m relying on you Kathleen; This is disgusting; lost cause; All is lost; We’ve lost; All Hope is Lost; Doomsday.
And to think I woke up in a good mood. These emails litter my inbox daily.
“Shoot. Again? All hope is lost… again?”
Political action groups, political parties, U.S. Representatives, Senators, even the Prez send me missives. I wrote in a previous post that the Prez and I are good buds because we are on a first name basis. Nothing’s changed there. I realize that folks sitting at their computers at home or at favorite coffee shops all over the place are being paid a pittance for these emails, and they are grasping at straws to find new sensational wording to get my attention, but really, is this necessary? Haven’t people ever read the story about the boy who cries “wolf!”? What a waste of time and resources.
Usually, my responses are about as thoughtfully crafted as the emails themselves. “Idiotic!” “Are they kidding?” “What imbeciles!” “How stupid.” “Ridiculous.” “They’re off their rockers!”
Routinely, I delete the lot of them, but once in a while I take a peek. Just last week the Prez thanked me for my help, (What help?) and I could tell he doesn’t read my blog. For the umpteenth time, if I donate money, my name will be entered into a drawing and I could meet the President. This is all routine. Here’s the part that got to me; the missive said that POTUS wants to meet my parents! I just shook my head. These people sure have their demographics wrong. I am the parent! My folks are dead. I am not a twenty-something.
“Get it together, people! If you have to send stupid emails, at least target the right group!”
I started getting these emails as I wrote to elected officials a year ago pleading with them to end the government shutdown. I wrote to everybody, and so these responses are fallout from my kitchen grassroots campaign. My letters were impassioned, yes, but they were also respectful and, I believed, well crafted. Could it be that my kitchen campaign of activism has caused a dramatically different and unexpected outcome?
While I look forward to reading the rare but newsworthy and interesting political updates, I could care less about all these “crises.” I am not giving a dime. I am not signing petitions. I am not sending hate mail. I am not reading these missives. I don’t care about them. I am rapidly losing interest in the process. Yes. I mean it!
Of course, the campaign finance rules need to be changed. Yes, real work needs to be conducted on Capitol Hill. But does everyone really need to air their dirty laundry every single second? Can’t elected officials do one thing without calling everybody they know? Sure, there are days that go from bad to worse to really downright lousy, but is it every single day? We vote. We elect officials to do the business of our country. So just do it already, and stop bothering me with the petty stuff.
The sheer number of these nonsensical emails barraging my inbox for a year now is making me numb – well, emails, sound bites, news, all of it reflecting the reality that nothing gets done anymore. But my inbox is my personal domain and I don’t need groups and individuals harassing me every second of the day. I can feel my drive for activism being shut down.
Now that’s a crisis.
October 15, 2014
I’ve been having a little trouble jumping into thoughts of whimsy these past few days; the shutdown has left me tired and bruised. Yesterday I nursed a headache, and today I tried to write something humorous, but it wasn’t forthcoming. This isn’t to say there hasn’t been humor – on the contrary, there have been many a smile generated by this mess. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief that political pundits barraged my Inbox with requests for contributions, for instance, while each passing day, things just worsened. Was this a joke? I was supposed to hand over money to a cause supporting a politician when the politicians got us into this mess in the first place?* It’s a sad commentary, I grant you, but there’s humor in it. Nope, nice try! My purse strings stayed closed. You have to give ‘em points for shameless spunk, though, right?
Here’s another one. On the morning after the shutdown ended, I read a request by an organization under President Obama’s name to petition Congress to get to work on the immigration bill because, the request said, “my voice counted.” Naturally, the request was followed by the customary appeal for money. Now I had just heard the President on the news, twice!, say: “… all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict.…”** Had somebody not turned on the news that day? The irony of it continues to make me shake my head in disbelief. No problem. Sure, I’ll support an important issue through an organization where people are paid to stir-up reaction and create action under the President’s name right now! Oh, and I’ll send you money, too! I’m so happy the President wants you to do this, even though he just said that nobody is to listen to this kind of thing. The image conjured to mind was the scene from The Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Here’s the person who is really going to laugh – the one who is hired by political groups to write memos to tell them what’s in the news!
*NOTE: Yea, I know what you’re thinking. It wasn’t all the politicians who drove us into this, right? Well, the fact remains that the 113th Congress is comprised of two full chambers of elected representatives and so, ultimately, it’s the 113th Congress’ combined fault.
**Read the President’s remarks here: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/10/obama-hits-bloggers-radio-talking-heads-who-profit-175330.html “Obama hits bloggers, radio ‘talking heads’ who ‘profit from conflict’” By Dylan Byers, October 17, 2013
October 19, 2013
We’ve been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a Cincinnati radio station. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.*
With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, you not only “just didn’t win.” Your sixteen day experiment caused great damage. Your sixteen day experiment caused us to lose, and to say, “We fought the good fight” is disrespectful, patronizing and the poorest choice of words possible. How about an apology to the citizens of the United States for starters? It’s as though now that this “inconvenience” is over, there’s an “Oh, well…” attitude, with perhaps a moment to let the end of the shutdown sink in, and then it’s on to business as usual.
And in the meantime, the rest of the country is looking at the new date just after the holidays, and one can’t help but wonder if a shutdown is going to happen again, right when the holiday bills are due. So, do we spend generously this Christmas, or worry that another shutdown looms? From the same Washington Post article quoted above, we have this recap of the bill that was passed last night:
“Meanwhile, federal agencies are funded through Jan. 15, when they might shut down again unless lawmakers resolve a continuing dispute over deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.”*
And then there’s the default issue again. From the same article:
“Enforcement of the debt limit is suspended until Feb. 7, setting up another confrontation over the national debt sometime in March, independent analysts estimated.”*
The thought remains in the forefront of our collective mind, “Is the United States of America going to partake in these shenanigans again?”
While I write, and all this swirls in my mind, I hear President Obama on the radio.
“Now that the government is reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do — and that’s grow this economy.”**
“Need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers….” I’m a blogger. Hey, the President is talking about me! At first, I was incredulous. Do I understand this statement correctly? President Obama does not believe that my concerns are legitimate because I represent them in a blog? It’s okay for me to write a letter, but just not publish my thoughts?
Then I had an amusing thought; I had no idea that my individual campaign to draw attention to the ramifications of the government shutdown, including my pleas to elected representatives to tell me what I can do to help, is in a class of activism that precludes anyone from focusing on growing the economy. And just for the record, the only profit I’ve taken is a bit of personal satisfaction that I have done something, but clearly not enough, to bring attention to this shutdown and to end it, to contact my government representatives, to talk about the problems and the positive points, and yes, the negative ones, too, to attempt to remain civil in tone, and to try not to lose too much sleep with worry. Oh, and I also derived satisfaction when my “Stats” page indicated that somebody else, somewhere, read my posts. It’s strange, of course, but I had no idea the President believes I wield so much power.
My point is that ramifications to the shutdown continue; there are large economic issues at stake, and personal ones. Plus, I don’t think the government can expect everybody to forget what they’ve been subjected to because Congress members got to work and struck a deal. Frankly, I feel that collectively, we’ve been put through the wringer. I feel that way, anyway.
But you may not want to pay attention to anything I write, because, well, I’m a blogger and the President says you should stop focusing on me.
*The Washington Post, “Obama Signs Bill To Raise Debt Limit, Reopen Government,” by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Published: October 16, 2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-effort-to-end-fiscal-crisis-collapses-leaving-senate-to-forge-last-minute-solution/2013/10/16/1e8bb150-364d-11e3-be86-6aeaa439845b_story.html?hpid=z1?wpisrc=al_special
**Here’s a link to the President’s quote, (although I heard it on National Public Radio news): http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/10/obama-hits-bloggers-radio-talking-heads-who-profit-175330.html “Obama hits bloggers, radio ‘talking heads’ who ‘profit from conflict’” By Dylan Byers, October 17, 2013
October 17, 2013
“So, the mortgage [or rent] is due, but for sixteen days, nobody’s worked. Hmmm. What happens if I can’t pay?
You really don’t want to be the doc telling your patient the devastating news that he or she has cancer. There is a bit of a bright spot, however, because at least there’s an appropriate clinical drug trial that just might help. But oh yeah, even though the cells are multiplying like crazy, the treatment’s off limits because the government says so.
Federal courts have enough funds to continue until the end of this week. Then each Federal court will have to decide what’s essential; most likely, “essential” doesn’t cover civil cases at all. And, if you’re in the jury pool and actually serve, don’t expect to be compensated until this mess is over.
If you have been waiting for your green card, you better dig in your heels because the wait just got longer.
It’s Okay, Kids. Mommy’s not worried that our WIC money to buy food will go away in a few weeks. Everything’s going to be fine. Just fine.
Oh well, most of the people who inspect the food aren’t working anyway. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the government has stopped U.S. food inspections overseas.
But the little one may not be able to go to her Head Start school.
Here’s some more non-essential stuff “With two-thirds of personnel sent home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The FDA has halted the review and approval of new medical products and drugs. Nearly all staff at the National Science Foundation has been furloughed, and new scientific research grants are not being issued.” (NY Daily News, October 14, 2013*)
In case you like to get ready for Christmas and Hanukkah a little early, here’s an uplifting bit: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission is no longer screening products at ports of entry to prevent potentially dangerous ones from reaching store shelves, such as children’s products containing excessive levels of lead.” (New York Daily News, October 13, 2013*. Merry Christmas.
Just in case there’s a problem with the car, auto recalls are on hold. You can still file a complaint, of course, but don’t expect anybody to look at it.
Here’s something that really instills a lot of confidence. The Guardian** reports: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission closed most of its operations on Thursday, though on-site inspectors will remain on the job and the government says it will handle any immediate safety or security issues.” Are they kidding? We’re expected to trust that the NRC will be able to handle problems while employing a skeleton crew, and that the government is going to keep us safe? Has the government been paying any attention at all to what it is doing? I’m speechless.
Oh, but here’s something that’s still working: “The more than 12 million people who requested automatic extensions on their spring tax return must still file their returns, which are due on Tuesday.” (The Guardian, Monday, October 14, 2013.)**
I can’t make this stuff up. You know what they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
Here are my sources:
*New York Daily News, AP, October 13, 2013, SHUTDOWN IMPACT: 13 Days after the federal government closed, affects are felt across many agencies: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/shutdown-impact-13-days-federal-government-closed-affects-felt-man-article-1.1484061
**The Guardian, October 14, 2013 by Amanda Holpuch, “US Government Shutdown: which agencies are next to run out of money?” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/14/government-shutdown-closures-money
October 16, 2013
Dear Mr. Vice President:
I have been posting a daily blog about the shutdown. Yesterday I implored my readers to send invoices to Congress for reimbursement of money Congress has denied them, such as salaries and lost business revenues.
What causes me the most angst, however, is the collective attitude of Congress. (I have stopped calling congressional members “leaders” or “officials,” as I do not believe they are embodying the qualities inherent in leaders representing constituents in a democratic republic. I invite you to read my post.
Mr. Vice President, I urge you to relay to this body that I, as a voter, am most ashamed of their behavior and their collective attitude, because not only is the 113th Congress failing to do the business of the United States, it is failing to responsibly represent the United States in a global economy.
Thank you, Sir.
October 15, 2013
After Fourteen Days of pondering this mess, what comes back to me time and again is not just that Congress has shut down business, and killed the paychecks of tens of thousands of employees, and hurt families as well as local economies, and put the kibosh on scientific research, and turned its collective back on people who need help the most, and even gotten the head of the IMF to say that if we don’t do something right now, the world could slide into another recession.* At least I can wrap my head around that part of this mess because I can see the damage the shutdown is causing. Just this weekend a friend told me of a conversation he had with a disgruntled TSA agent at an airport; this security employee was supposed to have received a paycheck. And I shake my head in deep sadness and shame when I read that someone can’t start a cancer trial right now. This whole mess is one long nightmare and gets worse with every ticking second.
What comes to me is that every time I hear a Congress member** interviewed on the news, I get this unnerving fleeting twinge of something in my gut. I think it’s just that I can’t expect the news to get worse, and yet it does, but I know deep down that’s not it. What unsettles me is that I’m fed up with the attitudes of our congressional members.
Every time I hear somebody say something like, “I don’t know how much we can do,” or “It’s all about the other side,” or “We’ll see what happens,” or, “I need them to…,” or even something like, “I think we can get around to something by Thursday,” I cringe. These people, these men and women elected to Congress, are the only people who can do something about this mess. If they were in school, the teachers would be sending emails home and making phone calls because of destructive, non-caring attitudes. I would never hire a person who can’t put his or her best foot forward and articulate an outcome and then work to achieve it, in a positive fashion. No professor or high school teacher would be satisfied with the work of the current 113th Congress if the job at hand were to be graded as a class group project. They’d fail miserably.
When I hear these sound bites, it’s like people have all the time in the world and it doesn’t matter if congressional members negotiate and solve the issue today or tomorrow or ever. Heck, Congress is getting paid; that’s the law. (There’s an online petition circulating which I have signed; it demands that congress members be stricken of their pay during the shutdown. It’s a great show of force for the public and I urge you to sign it, but know that congressional salaries will remain.)
What also gets to me is that congressional members (as a body, not necessarily individually) not only feel like they are under no critical deadline, they just don’t care, again, as a body, and that is what’s causing most of my angst.
Well I care. And I think the public should start sending invoices to Congress for lost wages and for lost business and for all the economic resources lost to citizens because of this stupid business. Yes, my language is getting stronger. I still caution my readers to maintain respect to the institution of the United States and to use verbiage that gets to the point without dropping to the level of disrespect. As I always say, somebody has to take the high road here and be a role model to kids. It might as well be us.
* I watched NBC’s Meet The Press yesterday, October 13, 2013. Here’s what the Washington Post wrote:
“IMF Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a failure by the United States to make scheduled payments to investors “would mean massive disruption the world over. And we would be at risk of tipping yet again into a recession.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-leaders-begin-to-negotiate-as-other-efforts-to-end-impasse-crumble/2013/10/13/498f4202-341a-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html?tid=pm_politics_pop
** (I refuse to call Congress members “leaders” or “officials” right now.)
October 14, 2013
- D.C. visitors are completing the entire “Hop On, Hop Off” Big Bus Tours in record time.
- George W. Bush’s place in history has risen two notches.
- The Library of Congress will make out great with all those overdue fines.
- The comedy team Capitol Steps has enough material for the next decade.
- Kinda makes you nostalgic for Watergate.
- National Symphony players, not used to getting weekends off, say, “Wow! I can wear my uniform to parties!”
- John Boehner really does have something to cry about.
- Religious leaders love it when people lose faith in the government – their numbers are way up!
- “Glass Ceiling” has been replaced by “Debt Ceiling.”
- I can write a Top Ten list and not worry about there being anyone to start a file on me.
OK, Readers, It’s your turn!
Thanks to my husband, my kids, and the staff of the Daily Grill in San Francisco for a lovely dining experience while I jotted these down on my cocktail napkin last night.
October 13, 2013
So do you want the good, or the ugly news first today? We’re beyond “bad.”
I’ll make an executive decision – we’re all going to need a ray of sunshine, so I’ll start with the bomb. Bombs – plural, really, because I just heard that the teams in Antarctica have been told to pack up and leave. See my post Research Will Be Frozen – Day Nine of Shutdown, published October 9, 2013.
A few days ago my sister told me that if things don’t change, the Lab will shut down next Friday, October 18, 2013. We are talking about the Los Alamos National Labs, or LANL, in New Mexico.
Let me offer you a quick verbal picture of the town. “L.A.” as the locals call, sits 7’000-plus feet above sea level, and frankly, the altitude makes it difficult for me to walk and talk at the same time, (though not everyone may be complaining about that.) It’s a gorgeous place. Built on four mesas that are like fingers extending from the hand of the plateau, it’s easy to get “that view” of the canyon, the Rio Grande River, and the sweeping panorama of the pinion forests and mountains. My family always takes the dog, well, the dog always takes us, down the street and on the path to the canyon rim where he chases wild rabbits and we never tire of the vista. It’s quiet. The prominent night sky is a gift for any amateur astronomer or deep sky photographer; my brother-in-law’s shots of the heavens look like they were taken through the lens of Hubble.
The town is your basic town with homes and apartments, stores and restaurants and kids and schools, library and banks and businesses including a fabulous resale shop, parks and movie theaters and churches and doctors’ offices and gas stations, music and dance performance groups and museums and even a National Monument (Bandelier is closed, of course), plus the main employer, the Los Alamos National Laboratory. People from all over the world have settled in Los Alamos. It’s a town of hard working, well-educated thinkers and doers.
LANL employs about 8,700 people, the Department of Energy employs around 1,600 contractors, so roughly we’re looking at the furlough of 10,000 people in one town. There will be a few people working because of safety and security operations, but that’ it.
The web site is running, but with a caveat that it may not be updated until Congress approves funds for 2014. LANL is a leader in science technology and innovation, the environment, space research, security and yes, defense. Fusion energy research is being conducted. The place is a national and international think tank. Scientists and engineers routinely travel to universities and labs in the U.S. and abroad to engage in research. Check out the web site before that’s shut down, too. http://www.lanl.gov/index.php
People are scrambling. College kids are worried that parents won’t be able to keep up their tuition payments. Locals are thinking ahead, trying to figure out a plan to hold onto their homes and businesses because when a community’s number one employer locks the doors, how can the economy not be decimated? Hotels and restaurants are already feeling the pinch of Bandelier National Monument’s closure.
Want some stats? Read this quote from Albuquerque Business First, reported by Dan Mayfield and published October 9, 2013 http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/news/2013/10/09/costs-potential-sandia-lanl-shutdowns.html (This article discusses the impact of the impending closure of the Sandia National Laboratories (October 21) in Albuquerque if there is no resolution to the standoff in Washington.) “BBER [The University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research] did a study in 2011 that said the lab [LANL] injected $1.6 billion into the northern New Mexico economy in 2009, which resulted in 11,200 direct jobs. That equals an economic impact of $4.38 million a day. Of those jobs, 8,700 employees are on LANL’s payroll. Mr. Mayfield continues, “LANL is the sixth-largest employer in New Mexico. All of its revenue is provided by the federal government. Annually, the BBER study said, LANL is responsible for $1.05 billion in employee compensation and benefits.
Wow. Let that sink in.
Now, I promised you a ray of light.
After employees received word that the shutdown will force LANL to lock its doors next Friday, the local paper published this rare and polished gem: Breaking News: Los Alamos National Bank Launches Program to Provide Relief for Furloughed Federal Employees. http://www.ladailypost.com/content/breaking-news-los-alamos-national-bank-launches-program-provide-relief-furloughed-federal
The Los Alamos National Bank President, Steve Wells, stated: “Our community and customers have always counted on LANB to be there for them. The unfortunate situation many may find themselves in due to government furloughs is a time when LANB can again help.” Breathe a sigh.
The piece states, “Los Alamos National Bank (LANB) is rolling out a program to provide relief for furloughed Federal Employees called “LANB S.T.R.O.N.G., which stands for “Short Term Relief Options (while) No Government.” This includes relief in the forms of payment deferrals on loans and credit cards, home mortgage loan payment forbearance, waived overdraft fees and short term loans. It’s brilliant.
Kudos to LANB. We need to help each other. As Los Alamos is a town of ideas and innovations, let’s take LANB’s lead and extend a hand to others impacted by this dreadful thing. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to read my posting for Day Eight of Shutdown. https://kathygalgano.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/its-a-barn-raising-show-up-and-give-a-hand-day-eight-of-shutdown/ There is no way that we can let Congress drop this fiscal bomb.
October 12, 2013
- Tee-shirt sales are down in our nation’s capital. Hawkers near the Smithsonian have slashed prices, and can’t even give away childrens’ and youth-sized “Someday I’m Gonna Be Speaker” shirts. Pink, yellow and blue baby bibs imprinted with the National Zoo animals remain top sellers, but sales for elephant bibs are down.
- Fresh produce sales, on the other hand, are up. Lunch vendors outside the Capitol have noted a sharp increase in customers ordering a side of day-old, soft whole tomatoes, instead of the usual lettuce and tomato slices added to sandwiches and paninis.
- Essential emergency workers on duty near the Capitol building report an increase in the number of people suffering from head pains in recent days. Essential emergency workers also report that a reddish blood-like substance has been staining the hair, faces and clothing of the stricken.
- The city’s essential garbage detail has declared a street emergency, and has petitioned Congress to transition “Non-Essential” street sweepers to “Essential” status immediately. Workers are attempting to eradicate the growing large red slick on the street pavement.
- Non-essential furloughed lawyers have begun moonlighting because “slip and fall” accidents outside the Capitol are on the rise.
- In related news, the Chicago Board of Trade has noted an increase in futures trading for the tomato crop.
October 11, 2013