Journalists Aren’t Helping, Gotta Watch Live

Not sure I understand C-SPAN’s writeup of where we are this evening. Journalists are really pretty useless in this day and age. Did the House vote again to delay the individual mandate a year? Is that a change from their previous position? Whatever, I suspect they’ll figure out a temporary solution by the time I wake up tomorrow, and we’ll have to go through this again in a month or so. Because that seems to be something this Congress likes to do. Put things off until later, I mean.

Well since I don’t understand the journalists, I guess I’ll sit here and watch C-SPAN for a while to see it first-hand.

Please, Senator Dick Durbin: STOP LOOKING AT THE CAMERA. That is so creepy.

Oh wait, I think the Senate is voting to table the House’s amendment right now. I like how the Senate floor is mostly empty. Where are these people voting from? I hear them calling names but I don’t hear anyone responding. Do they raise their hands from somewhere off camera? Do they have some fancy electronic vote-delivery system? Oh! I heard someone say, “Aye.” The role call is done. And the winner is … the lady is counting … 21-18 … … this is so exciting … 22-19 … … 23-22 … … 23-24 … … 27-26 … … Warner, aye … … (I think I missed Kaine) … 30-30 … 34-34 … 38-36 … 41-37 … 43-37 … Ayes pulling ahead now … 47-40 … really don’t understand the order that they’re calling these names … I wonder if they’re all standing around down there talking about their golf games … 49-43 … McCain, no … 52-45 … almost done … … and C-SPAN calls it, the Senate killed the House amendment. Time of death, roughly 9:22 PM.

Soooooo… what does that mean exactly? I can only assume that means the bill goes back to the House again for the absolute last possible chance of keeping the government open tomorrow.

(By the way, C-SPAN updated the text at that link so it doesn’t say what it said at the time I copied it anymore. I guess that first SEO part of the link doesn’t matter. Only the numbers at the end count.)

Final vote to table, 54-46. Guess it’ll be a late night for those guys. I don’t feel bad for them at all.

An Odd Time For a Late Opening

You have to wonder about the logic of waiting until 2 PM to open the Senate for business on the final day before an alleged government shutdown. But then, this could be why they aren’t taking it more seriously: Because the government probably won’t shut down. First there is the addendum that the House put in to pay the military even if there’s no funding, so that hot-button issue is covered. Then there’s the fact that it will take a while to spin down the whole entire government, and during that time apparently they just need to come up with a handshake agreement and fill in all the paperwork later.

Bring On The Shutdown I Guess

Well, it looks like the House Republicans are determined to shut down the government because now they’ve put in a clause to fund the government only if Obamacare is delayed for a year. I mean, I can’t think of any other explanation. I guess it makes sense that Republicans wouldn’t care if federal workers get paychecks or not (considering their dislike of government handouts and whatnot).

Although, I suppose it is possible that the Senate could pass through a bill that delays Obamacare. Not that it will have any real-world effect because we’d be in the exact same position one year from now. If they truly want a chance of getting rid of Obamacare entirely, they need to delay it until 2017, when there is a possibility that a different president might go along with it. (Except, come on, we all know Hilary Clinton will be president then, don’t we? Is there any potential Republican candidate that doesn’t look like a total buffoon right now?)

By the way, if you’re wondering, a government shutdown has no real effect on me personally, but I suspect it might send all my government co-workers home for a nice vacation.

I need to find some sort of concise, human-understandable explanation of what Obamacare actually does starting October 1. Because it’s rather confusing to keep hearing over and over again about Obamacare going into effect like every month. For example, I thought it took effect and destroyed the country years ago, but now here we are fighting over delaying Obamacare again. And what about that last time we were fighting over Obamacare going into effect? Politics. You can never make any sense of it.

UPDATE: House Republicans said in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and I quote, It’s on like Donkey Kong. Or off, I guess.

Back to the House We Go

As fully expected by everyone, the Senate removed the defund-Obamacare provision and returned the budget bill to the House. Ted Cruz and his pointless 21-hour grandstanding (which was not a filibuster and never could have affected the outcome of the bill) did nothing, and I have to say that I’m rather glad that one guy in the Senate can’t realistically determine U.S. policy all by himself. What will happen now? How will House Republicans avoid shutting down the government without showing their constituents that they will cheerily cave on their allegedly deeply-held convictions? What kind of twisted logic will they make up to blame the Democrats for forcing them to vote yes on Obamacare? Will I ever take the time to study Obamacare to see for myself whether anything that politicians say about it is true? Probably a big no on that last one, because have you seen how dull the topic of healthcare law is?

MacBook Air Obtained

This may come as a shock, but I ordered a MacBook Air. It was a bit of a shock for me, too. I was finally ready to get a “thin-and-light” laptop for writing and web surfing, and I had always assumed I would get a Windows laptop for that, but when I started really looking for one, I found that there were very few plausible Microsoft options to choose from. There were a handful of Ultrabooks that might have served (the Samsung Series 9 comes to mind), but they were all pricey, and I decided that if I was going to have to spend a chunkload of cash anyway, I couldn’t get much thinner and lighter than a MacBook Air. So I got a 13″ 8GB model with a 128GB SSD. It arrived today and I’m typing this post on it right at this very second!

Trying New Feed Readers

Lately I haven’t been too thrilled with Feedly, so I was quite excited to find not one but three new web-based RSS readers: InoReader, Feedspot, and G2Reader. I’m assuming these popped up from startups trying to cash in on Google Reader’s demise.

But…

My excitment soon faded when it became clear that none of these are any faster than Feedly, which was my main complaint with it. What is wrong with all these web-based feed readers? They are sooooooo slow it’s painful. It’s like they’re all forked from the exact same codebase. Click the “update” button, then wait 10 seconds for the screen to do its AJAX-y update. I mean, is it just me? Is it my connection (my connection at work is actually pretty bad)? Are they transferring 20 gb of data back and forth with every mouse click? Is everyone’s server overloaded from new GReader-convert traffic? Was Google’s Reader that much more advanced than anything else?

Anyway, of the three, InoReader seems to be marginally faster than the rest so I’ll be trying it out for a while. I like the looks of FeedSpot best, though. (Although really, they are all three basically clones of Google Reader, almost down to the pixel.)

Chicken With Defunding

Looks like we’re back at the ol’ debt ceiling stalemate. Or government funding stalemate. Or something like that. Is this the third one? Fourth? Hundredth? I can’t remember. It seems to happen once or twice a year now.

Apparently funding for the government runs out at the end of this month (it’s the end of the fiscal year), so we need to get a thingy passed. (“Thingy” is the technical term.) However the only acceptable bribe for Republican votes this time is a provision to “de-fund” Obamacare. I’m not exactly sure what de-funding does, but Republicans believe it will postpone the destruction of America, and they have been assuring us that it’s what the American people want. The House of Representatives votes on this thingy first, then it goes to the Senate. Everyone expects the House to de-fud Obamacare (because everyone in the House is certifiably insane), but we’re not so sure what the Senate will do.

Oh wait. It’s taken me so long to get this post together that the House has already voted to de-fund Obamacare. That means they’ve passed on a bill that will fund the government and avoid a shutdown … IF Obamacare is defunded/delayed/whatever. House Republicans are basically playing chicken with the Senate and the president. (Ugh, I used a stupid analogy as if I were a cable news host.)

Now the Senate has two choices. It can pass the bill through to the president with the Obamacare provision, which will allow the government to keep operating, or it can strike the Obamacare provision like it probably knows it should and run the risk of shutting down the government and looking bad before their constituents. (Shutting down the government, by the way, does not result in an apocalypse, but it’s more than just closing some parks, too. Among other things, it would adversely affect military veterans, who are already getting shafted pretty hard by the VA. The last time the government actually shut down, by the way, was 1996.)

There is also the slight problem that the president is likely to veto any bill which defunds Obamacare. I mean, it’s got his name right there in the plan, so Obama isn’t going to want to get rid of it. And if he vetoes it, the bill goes back to Congress and then who knows if they can get a revised bill back to him before the end of the month.

So is this an empty gesture by House Republicans? Looks that way to me. My personal conspiracy theory is that everybody wants healthcare reform, but no Republican can ever go on record as approving of Obamacare, because that would make them a traitor to everything America stands for. So Republicans are making this grand gesture opposing it so all their constituents can applaud them and re-elect them for taking a stand against the tyrannical Obama dictatorship, despite the fact that they know full well that there is exactly zero chance that it will really be de-funded because of the aforementioned presidential veto. And that suits them just fine because they know that healthcare reform is inevitable, and they’ve probably already lined up all their investments to take advantage of whatever loopholes allow them to get rich off of Obamacare. (As opposed to getting rich off of pre-Obamacare.) The only real question is how many days will the government have to shut down for them to make this empty gesture? Probably none, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

By the way, after this stalemate, there’s another deadline for raising the debt ceiling in mid-October.

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Crazy People Are Always Out There

Blah, blah. It’s all been said before. New laws will just make us a police state. Crazy people are always out there. You can’t stop them. And every time we see one of these mass shootings play out on the news, the crazy people are emboldened to think about just how easy it is to carry out a crazy act. Literally all you have to do is walk into any space with people in it, and you, too, can commit a mass murder/suicide. You can do it with guns or knives or a sharp stick. All you need is the right mindset. Where does that mindset come from? Personally I think it comes from insufficient parenting, but that’s just me.

Regarding this specific case, though, I can’t help but wonder how the media can uncover a person’s troubling history in a few hours, while an employer vetting a security clearance apparently can’t. Then again, people should be allowed some room to make mistakes in their past, right?

UPDATE 9:20 PM – That was probably a dumb thing to say up there about insufficient parenting. Some people are hard-wired to be crazy no matter what.