Shutdown Day One

Packs of glassy-eyed media drones shamble through the empty streets, groaning something incoherent about how Republicans made Harry Reid shut the government down.  Groups of terrified survivors huddle in the blasted ruins of our cities, nervously eyeing their dwindling supplies of canned food and peanut butter, wondering if they’ll be able to clear a few more rounds of Candy Crush before the batteries in their smartphones die for good.  Cults of hapless government dependents hold revival meetings before the abandoned temples of bureaucracy, singing hymns about the day when the gods will return and once more take charge of their lives.  On the roads it was a white-line nightmare, as gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice.

Welcome to the latest shutdown apocalypse, where the acolytes of Big Government will hope Republicans fold before the public notices how much of our expensive Leviathan State they really don’t need, or could easily privatize.  It’s not an unreasonable hope, because of course the State and its media will ensure as many people as possible feel as much pain as it can arrange, with cameras standing by to capture their anguished expression.  Something like 40 percent of government spending seizes up during a “shutdown.”  Essential services like the military and airport security continue.  But we’ll be told our civilization cannot survive a week without that forty percent, which coincidentally is not far from the percentage of government spending that is now routinely carried out with borrowed money.  I suppose leaving the shutdown in place permanently and balancing the budget is out of the question…?

It’s hard to tell exactly how much of Big Government would sputter out during a prolonged shutdown, because nobody really knows how much money it was going to spend.  We don’t do “budgets” anymore, a feature of our dreary New Normal that has been so thoroughly accepted that people who know better casually refer to the endless stream of continuing spending resolutions as a “budget,” or speak of yesterday’s Senate shutdown as a “budget battle.”  Nobody really knows what the federal government is doing with all that money it’s spending, either.  Even the President of the United States routinely declares that he has no idea what the system he “manages” has been up to.  He claims he learns about its more colorful misdeeds by reading newspaper articles and watching television.  The public accepts this.  The public has been forced to accept a lot over the last five years.

Are they going to accept a spin-storm that paints this as a “Republican shutdown,” after listening to Democrat Harry Reid loudly and repeatedly declare his intention to shut the government down, if he doesn’t get what he wants?  That would seem to be a tough sell for the Democrat-media axis, but they’ll give it their best shot.  They’ve sold far more ridiculous things to the American people.  There’s always the danger that people will reach their limit, and wonder why they’re not supposed to place any blame on the party that’s controlled the White House and Senate for five years – the party that brought a hated health-care program into their lives on a strict partisan vote, and uses parliamentary maneuvers to kill the bipartisan bills that would give Americans the sort of relief that has thus far been reserved for high officials and well-connected friends of the Democrat Party.

The public might grow uneasy when they notice that our glorious government takeover of the health insurance industry isn’t working very well.  Today is also ObamaCare launch day, and there are already reports of government websites going offline.  Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) tried to sign up for the ObamaCare exchanges last night, and it didn’t go well.  “I was met with error messages, unfinished security forms, and misspelled notices at every click,” he grumbled in a statement.  “Seeing how poorly this has been implemented, I am surprised that Harry Reid and Senate Democrats are willing to shut down the government over a law that simply is unworkable, unaffordable, and increasingly unpopular.”  For the love of God, I hope they didn’t hit him with a “please rate your experience!” feedback form when he tried to log off.

Other reports of ObamaCare crashes in California, Oklahoma, and Maryland rolled in.  The “click here for help” support feature apparently isn’t much help.  Clearly the system isn’t working, and nothing would make more sense than delaying the entire mess until the day when Barack Obama unilaterally decided to begin enforcing the employer mandate.  But you’re not going to find much common sense among the Democrat shutdown caucus.  They can’t afford to concede that kind of political ground, and they still think they can lean back in their hammocks and wait for the media to win this thing for them.

We also learned on Monday that –  surprise! – not only do our rulers in Congress and their highly-compensated employees get special ObamaCare subsidies available to no one else, but they can also use their taxpayer-funded benefits to pay for abortions, which was a violation of federal law, until ObamaCare came along to crush all other laws and Constitutional rights beneath its vast and frigid bulk.  Remember Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)?  He made a big production out of the supposedly iron-clad promises President Obama gave him, swearing on a stack of Bibles that this would never, ever happen.  That’s what eased Stupak’s “conscience” enough for him to vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act.  Stupak got bounced out of office, and was last heard from about a year ago, mopping sweat from his brow and muttering that he was “perplexed and disappointed” that ObamaCare’s contraception mandates violated those wonderful guarantees he got from Honest Barack, back in the day.

It’s funny to hear Democrats nattering about how ObamaCare is the “law of the land” and must be accepted without question, unlike every other law ever passed, when the Affordable Care Act isn’t really a “law” at all.  It’s an assertion of raw power, and it can only survive by breaking every law surrounding it, with everything from unconstitutional exercises of executive power to special waivers.  ObamaCare cannot survive in the ecosystem of American law, culture, and principle, so that ecosystem will be polluted until it’s toxic enough to support this bizarre new mutant life-form.

As for the shutdown itself, President Obama was swiftly caught lying about it – among other scare tactics, he claimed VA clinics would be unstaffed, but they’re actually funded a year in advance.  This is similar to the nonsense he pulled during the great sequester showdown, which ended with the public concluding that sequestration wasn’t that bad, despite a combination of tall tales and outright assaults from a manic-depressive Administration.  There must be some Democrats nervous about something like that happen again.

But Democrats are still confident that a large swath of Americans just started paying attention to the shutdown drama this morning, when the first apocalyptic headlines popped up.  The media certainly isn’t going to show those people footage of Harry Reid grimly gunning down bill after bill that would have kept the government running.  There will be horror stories, and interviews with anguished foot soldiers from the Army of Debt – the meat shield hired with all that lovely taxed and borrowed money, to ensure every effort at fiscal restraint is met with camera-ready human faces.  There will be man-on-the-street segments in which people who don’t really understand what’s going on thunder about how stupid it all is.  All that Administration happy talk about a “robust recovery” – which we’ve heard non-stop through five years of grinding unemployment and flat economic growth – will abruptly cease, to be replaced with stern warnings that America will swiftly perish, if it doesn’t have a four-trillion-dollar government nurse working full-time to keep it alive.

The Left has been winning bets about the fecklessness, dependency, and despair of the American people for years.  Those who want their freedom and prosperity back are denounced as “anarchists,” “terrorists,” “extremists,” and “hard-liners.”  Don’t you people know that only the folks who want to make the government bigger are allowed to take hard lines?  Didn’t you understand that you only got to cast one vote to retain control of your health care, and that was back in 2008?  Maybe the Democrats forgot to mention that at the time, but you really should have understood – that’s how things work in a “progressive” super-State.  There is no going back, ever.