Happy Tidings From the Hill

Good news, people! The government will be functioning in October. Congress paid the bills for seven more weeks. And did you hear? Willow the cat is back!

Comments: 125

  1. Willow the cat needs to have one of her photo-ops on Capitol Hill, where all the politicians can jockey for position in front of the TV cameras and fight (in a bipartisanshippy way, of course) over who gets to hold her first. Then she can proceed to bite them each of them in their tenderest spots. Unfortunately, the Republicans and Blue Dogs don't have a tender spot among them.

    I don't think anything can light Harry Reid on fire, though. You know how President Obama has been talking (no, screaming) up his jobs plan out there in the hinterland? Well, according to the Washington Post, Reid said they before they get around to jobs, first they have to deal with punishing China for its currency manipulation. Apparently, even though Chinese dirty tricks regarding its monetary policy have been about 100th on the list of senatorial priorities over the past year or so, it has suddenly become a national emergency.

    Here is what Reid was quoted as saying: “We understand that there’s conversations going on about the president’s jobs bill — which I support, I’m in agreement with. We’ll get to that. But let’s get some of these things done that we have to get done first.”

    I guess Reid's constituents haven't heeded the Obama message, ostensibly meant for GOP reps: PASS THIS BILL NOW! Meanwhile, the Republicans are laughing their hardened hearts out. No wonder Obama escaped to Hollywood, land of fantasy and money. It looks like this whole jobs agenda is so much Kabuki theater anyway, and they're not even pretending to care.

    The heck with it. We're all doomed. So we might as well relax and just wallow in Willow.


  2. I would be surprised is Senator Roy Blunt had any interest or awareness of what Americans are tired of. If he and his Republican colleagues cared a fig about what Americans want, they would all resign and stand in the unemployment lines with everybody else. They'd give up their excellent health care coverage, turn in their country club memberships, and call their lobbyist pals and tell them not to send them any more money.

    Actually, I would nominate Willow to run for Congress. I think she'd be a natural Republican. She's indifferent to the people who cared for her, knows how to abandon them, and is not above biting the hands that feed her.

  3. If it isn't eminently clear by now, it should be, that the primary purpose of the tea party led Republican Party is to destroy the government. They are not there to govern. Not there to fix things so they work better. They are there to slash and burn. To destroy everything in their path. Except, of course, anything related to their corporate masters, such as the Koch brothers who have funded the tea party since its Astroturf inception.

    But the way they choose to do it, the idea of balancing a budget on the pain of others, handing over billions to corporations with no strings attached but making sure that states whose citizens are without power or homes or clean water or food after recent catastrophes, all pay through the nose. You want food? Okay, we're closing down your schools. You want a road fixed so you can get to the hospital? No problem. But then grandma doesn't get her meds.

    This is the true face of the Republican Party as revamped by the corporate sponsored tea party. Meanwhile, on Wall Street, bankers who have been coddled by insider politicians are annoyed that citizens have the gall to protest the obscene fortunes they've made off the rest of us. Never fear, call out the police to mace them and arrest them. Then call Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan and John Boehner and set up an appointment to talk about how they can get some additional tax breaks and make those women who were just maced pick up the tab.

    Yup, happy times on the Hill.

  4. To my chagrin, I spent all day with my plumber as he tried diligently to fix a nasty leak. Unfortunately he had this little portable radio going at his side so he wouldn't miss a single moment of Rush Limbaugh and then Sean Hanratty. His major complaint to me: his business is way down ever since Obama was nominated! Not elected, not inagaurated, just nominated. Ergo post hoc, propter hoc! To him Democrats are completely dangerous to his business. He has a severe heart problem yet will not see a doctor or take high blood pressure medication - because they keep making him have blood tests. All the fault of Obamacare. He has no employees and is now on Medicare but is sure it is all Obama's fault for fooling with his health and making his doctor order those blood tests. Gail, I am very afraid that there are millions of such people out there wanting to vote for anyone who will upset Obama and satisfy Rush and Sean. The are immune to any sense of reason and impossible to argue with. The guvmint is the enemy, pure and simple. I is there to harrass honest workmen and entrepreneurs by depressing the housing market just by being nominated and making those teleprompter speeches. Never mind that the banksters put housing in the toilet - those good old days were under the republicans and no effort by Obama can bring them back. Be very afraid...

  5. Yes, and when my children were around 2 1/2 it was always a good day when they went the entire day without soiling themselves. Too bad the Republican House has to be measured the same way to find a good day.

    Take away all the media from Capitol Hill. It's like my grandmother used to say, "Don't pay any attention to children acting up or they'll keep acting up for attention."

    Poor Willow. A fine cat living amongst all this. Perhaps a Canadian or German will give her a home run by responsible, stable adults.

  6. Yes, we're in such a governmental mess, that it's almost funny. Things are so desperate that some panic-stricken people think Corpus Christie could save us, I guess, by browbeating congress or perhaps breaking some kneecaps in order to get cooperation between the parties (could he take congress hostage?). Or maybe with ample Christie as the head of the ticket, the Republicans could win by a wide margin in 2012 and end this irritating gridlock and bloat in our government.

  7. It really is no laughing matter. What we are witnessing is the evil of fundamentalism being applied to the political process. Fundamentalist attitudes applied to race and religion are bad enough. When it affects the political process, democracy itself, which depends on reason, conciliation and compromise is in peril.

    Senator Rand Paul, the fundamentalist libertarian son of Rep. Ron Paul is holding up a bill that would regulate gas pipelines. This is crazy given the fact that there was a pipe line explosion near Lexington Kentucky, the state Paul represents, there has been several gas pipe explosions recently, and the gas industry itself supports the legislation. Even crazier is Paul's stating that he doesn't oppose specific parts of the bill, but that he is against the bill on principle, because he is against all regulation.

    This is similar to a patient refusing to be treated by a black doctor even if it may lead to catastrophic health issues because having fundamentalist racist beliefs, he was opposed to any racial mixing,while acknowledging that the doctor was qualified.

    The fundamentalist anti government,anti regulation ideology of mostly Republican politicians, particularly Tea Party ones render them unfit to serve ina democracy.

    When Jackie Robinson became the first African American major league baseball player in 1947, southern members of the Dodgers said they would refuse to take the field Robinson because of their fundamentalist racial beliefs. Burt Shotten, the Dodger manager called a team meeting, and said quite simply that any player refusing to take the field would have their contracts terminated and should leave the team immediately. No one left.

    The voters in the 2012 election need to send the same message to Republicans and vote them all out of office.

    At least Willow the cat had an excuse for nipping the little girl. He still hasn't bonded with that family. The GOP has no excuse for their failure to be loyal to our democracy

  8. Sad that our representative government has sunk so low. I am beyond fed up. And even Willow the Cat can't take my mind off it. Maybe I need to go camp out on Wall Street with all the young people. Or riot in Madrid. Or join the Areb Spring( Fall?).

    It is sad to see our representatives behaving like the Hatfields and the McCoys.

  9. We must realize that some voters actually elected these people. Yes,most only received 33% of the possible voters registered but still thats a lot of dysfunctional people. As a nation we have only 50% (or less) of the voters vote in most elections. If the candidate gets 50% of these he /she still has a small number of people who actually voted for them. Even so,there they are in Washington doing their crazy acts.
    If you then add the insane ways the congress allows itself to function and the fact that a committee can control what is presented to the congress and that a single senator from a state of 3-5 million (who only got about a third of the possible votes) can hold up any and all legislation after the congress of 200 plus passed it then you began to understand the craziness of it all.
    Somebody elected these folks!

  10. The sheer audacity of the GOP hypocrisy is stunning - really it is. Where else but in Congress can a republican decry funding disaster relief and denigrating the democrats who say the people need, yet Cantor and the rest of them are the first in line for their federal relief funds and any other funding they can steer their way.

    Guess this is why they rally behind the likes of Perry who too decries the federal government as if it were an evil institution while at the same times applies for, receives and takes federal funding which he used to further his own political career. Of course I understand why he has no respect for the US Government - deep down he and the rest of them cannot respect any institution that is foolish enough to keep funding them. Maybe we should stop using tax dollars for those who hate federal funding. Maybe it's time to force them to grow up and accept just how much they rely on federal funding. It might at least put an end to some of the hypocrisy.

  11. I can only repeat my plea of last week. Willow for President!! A cat for all cats not just fat cats. A cat who really believes in change. The present incumbents are just not getting it, they are all a dead loss. Desperate measures for desperate times. Let's get rid of ALL the incumbents and try a new feline approach. I just can't stand to listen to another word from the cynical creeps of both parties. If a corporation is a person, why not a cat? Vote Willow, the meow of the people. No talking, no lying!

  12. Harry Reid needs to pass a budget. He hasn't in over two years, which is why we have a new continuing resolution every 7 or 8 weeks to keep funding the government.

  13. They need to get a tracking device on Louie Gohmert, that's for sure.

  14. Gail: In one not so happy tiding from the Hill, comes a story which proves (1) that Members of the Tea Party are certifiably insane; and (2) we do have the most dysfunctional legislative system every invented. One Senator----Rand Paul----has put on hold legislation to require gas pipeline operators to have automatic shut-off valves in case of explosions and to keep good records of the pressure tests on their pipelines (which in case you didn't notice transport natural as in Interstate Commerce, which under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, is the exclusive prerogative of the federal government to govern.

    Never mind the Constitution! Senator Paul believes that the federal government has no business protecting Americans from pipeline explosions, so he is setting out to kill a bill which is endorsed by the vast majority of the Senators, as well as the industry itself. And, of course, the United States Senate, being the United States Senate, is allowing him to block the bill all by his lonesome self, under a rule that was originally intended to allow Senators time to ride their horses from places like Kentucky, except in Senator's Paul case, I believe that he saddles up a mule. Makes you long for a Parliamentary system.

  15. Republicans want to kill FEMA but the Republicans always scream loudest for FEMA money when disaster strikes. Rick "Secession" Perry constantly has his hands out to Washington what with all the fires, drought, tornados, and hurricanes that Texas is plagued with.

  16. "Think of all the things you’ll be able to do in October if there’s a government. Camp out in a national park!"

    Really? People camped out for thousands of years before the Federal Government took my money in order to take credit for it.

  17. Re: "The latest stalemate in Washington has been over the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which had been running out of cash what with all the recent fires, floods, earthquakes, plagues of frogs and what have you."

    It's called Global Warming--yes, probably the plagues of frogs too, I shouldn't be surprised. So considering all those idiots in the nineties were obviously wrong about our not being able to afford to do anything about it (we couldn't afford NOT to do anything about it), do I feel vindicated? No, I feel more fires, floods, earthquakes, plagues of frogs and what have you are coming, faster and stronger, and we've passed the point at which we could have stopped them. Of course, it will be only worse if we continue to fail to act, but there appears very little chance of our acting.

    So what do I expect? I'm reminded of a scene from "Goldfinger" (the movie, not the book). James Bond, strapped to a table facing a deadly laser asks, "Do you expect me to talk?" and Goldfinger answers, "No, Mr. Bond; I expect you to die." James Bond somehow manages not to die, but that was a movie. I'd bet big money humans won't outlast this century if it would do me any good. They're far too stupid.

  18. Maybe even Willow the Cat just got so fed up with the economic hegemony that Wall Street and its Republican enablers have foisted upon the American people that she hitched a cross-country ride to join the young protestors presently picketting the big banks and brokerage houses. What I want to know is why the middle-aged affluent tea party protestors were allowed to brandish weapons and personally mock the president with impunity while these young kids with a much bleaker financial future (many women with little kids) are being roughed up and pepper-sprayed by NYC cops belonging to a union that the GOP wants to see busted? Where's the logic and fairness? What's the cat's opinion on all of that? (Beyond the obvious success of the super rich in getting the rest of us to turn on one another.)

  19. Wow, that was tiring. I think I'll go visit London again. Was there all last week and didn't get annoyed once by Congress.

  20. I love Gail Collins.

  21. The tidings were actually pretty pathetic, as usual. But I appreciate that they were related in a happiness-inducing manner.

  22. A cure to this insanity, vote Democratic for the rest of your life!

  23. The Democrats haven't passed a budget since Obama was elected, but somehow it's the Republican's fault when an agency runs out of money??

  24. Farce.

    Well, that's what it's all about, isn't it? They want to make us so annoyed, confused and frustrated that we just throw our hands up and say, "That's it, this is absurd, I'm out." and then they win.

    It's all part of the plan: Make you sick of politics and government so you stop paying attention... but don't. Seriously, don't. It isn't funny, it isn't stupid. It's all planned out this way.

    What can you do to stop playing along like a sheep? Stay mad. Keep paying attention, and instead of thinking it's all madness and stupidity, realize it's actually calculated cunning, devised to wear you down. So easy to give up and quit focusing on all the ways the upper class wealthy political corporate rich are playing the rest of us.

    Decide you won't fall for it. As much as you can, don't let them trap you. They want you to fall for it. Instead, rage against it.

    They want you to be: in debt, addicted, buying into it. Don't do any of that. If you have gotten into debt to the credit card usury-rate banks: borrow from family or friends or tighten your belt and get out of debt as fast as you can or declare bankruptcy. Now. They are killing you with their APR fees and they'll destroy your financial life forever if you let them.

    If you have gotten addicted to cigarettes, drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with this mess of an economy and failed system, get out of it. Now. As fast as you can. Go to rehab, get a sponsor, choose a quit date... get out of the addiction, because if you're addicted, you're paying too much taxes, you're hurting your health and they're fleecing you. Refuse to let them.

    If you're buying the propaganda... well, you're voting against yourself and the rest of us. Wake up. Do some research. Educate yourself so you can finally see what's happening. Businesses thrive when they rip you off and pretend they don't (health insurance, I mean you), and lobbyists make money by fooling people into voting against their own best interests. Don't let them win.

  25. If Congress shuts down the government, who pays Congress? Just wondering...

  26. In fourteen months the time will come to clean the house, and the senate as well. The revolution should statrt with the electorial expungement of every member of the house and senate who come up for re-election. Every long journey starts with one small step.

    Thomas McMahon
    Millis Ma

  27. What kind of man (Rand Paul)would hold up testing gas pipes to ensure they don't cause explosions that kill people? Makes me think of Aldous Huxley's comment on Napoleon's claim that his wars merely killed 50 million worms. Huxley said somehow his sympathy is with the worms. Not so Paul's namesake Ayn Rand who hated the common man.

  28. The Democrats are behaving like normal politicians. The Republicans are behaving like a bunch of Communists, with ideological tests of purity and a refusal to abandon the party line even when it is incoherent or contrary to fact.

    If your two kids bicker and fight in the back seat of the car, laying down the law to both of them rewards the instigator and punishes the other kid. Laying down the law is much easier than figuring out what is going on, who is the instigator, and coming up with a plan to deal with the problem. Blaming Congress is ducking the problem of figuring out what is going on and why and how it can be fixed. New congressmen is not the answer; whatever forces made the old congressmen the way they now are will be equally effective on the new ones.

    Blaming Congress for the problem just makes the problem worse. What we need to do is debug Congress -- not blaming it but understanding it and making modifications so it works better.

  29. In some ways government's ability to keep on is good. But in every way?

  30. Hey,
    they won't shut down the government over the week-end: if they fly into Washington to shut down the place, how will they get back? They're not that stupid!

  31. Maybe it isn't really Willow, but an impostor cat, planted in New York so the family could fly there and have its fifteen minutes, alá the Balloon Boy folks.

  32. I can't help but remember a Richard Nixon interview in the 1960s. He warned his party of the danger of the "nutty right wing". He said the GOP tent had enough room for established Republicans and responsible conservatives.

    Even Nixon would not recognize the party today. There are a few responsible conservatives and a lot of "nutty right wingers'. Try to name an established Republican, like Richard Lugar, who will be left after the 2012 primaries.

    A nutty right winger leads with government anger and at best compromises by voting "no".

    A nutty right winger, who serves in public office, is duplicitous, by being part of "Washington's problem". There is room for debate on taxes and spending. The nutty right wing is against ALL government spending and taxation. Why they cash their paychecks seems to be a contradiction.

    If a government shouldn't fund basic services, why would a nutty right winger, give up their nutty time?

    The compact of a central government is to provide resources and organization, that a state can't do by itself alone, National defense and FEMA are examples. If nutty right wingers are saying "no" to funding FEMA, they really should not be associated with a federal government job.

    If the nutty right wingers were not duplicitous; they should move on. Washington should be manned by moderates and responsible left and right wingers.

    The nutty right wing should use their nutty time to support their real agenda. If any government spending and taxation is bad; they should leave Washington and get on with their true agenda: anarchy.

  33. Willow the cat, as the Republican candidate for President (the Democrats know better), would simply be a shill for the cat food industry, encouraging everyone who is under- or unemployed to eat as she does, maybe even limiting the use of food stamps to cat food and advising people without health insurance to visit the vet.

    The thought alone is enough to turn the Blue Dogs' faces green.

  34. If the government closes down there will be no one to tell us about killer Cantaloupes.
    The war in Afghanistan will halt.
    The South can succeed and no one will stop them.

  35. Threaten to shut down government. Go on vacation. Threaten to shut down government. Go on vacation. Is anyone seeing a pattern here? It's becoming like Wednesday, Hump Day and TGIF - Thank God It's Friday. Every week has one.

    If these politicians can afford to take so many vacations, then I think they should be able to afford their own reelection campaigns and stop emailing me to send them my last $5.00.

    Who knows, I may be Occupying the Halls of Congress this winter just to stay warm. Then what will Marco Rubio do?

  36. It is absolutely insane that these people can play with the lives of millions like we are NOTHING! Can spend more time off than on during times of such desperate distress for much of the nation-and get paid for it-with luxury benefits on top of all else. They treat this all like some big game of cat (speaking of Willow) and mouse as they toy with our lives like it's no big deal. And the problem is, to 'them' it isn't.They will deposit our broken bleeding society at the feet of their corporate masters just like a cat brings it's chewed up prey to it's human for praise.
    No matter what they do or don't do, most all of these people are set for life. "They" have powerful behind-the-scenes backers and big bank accounts(or the promise of lucrative 'other' employment when they (God, I hope anyway) get tossed out on their keesters-but not before they have done irreprable damage to this country.
    'They' don't go to bed praying for help that doesn't come, basic human aid to feed their kids in a society where there is only one job for every four people looking. 'They' aren't having to wait out the gameplaying in order to know if they will even be able to dig out from under debri that used to BE cities, and homes. 'They' aren't dependent on what are nothing more than corporate shills and/or zealots, to put immediate need of the nation's people ahead of their ' vacation' time and their own twisted ambitions and ideology.
    I find it the height of hypocracy that Eric Cantor would dare petition FEMA to fast track aid for Virginians hurt by natural disasters at the same time he and his ilk are holding FEMA'S funding hostage.
    And I am disgusted beyond all else that our system of governance has been reduced to hostagetaking by a handful of fools who get 'their' paychecks no matter how little they do to earn them.
    At least Willow has the excuse of being an animal.

  37. Brilliant, Gail! If I wasn't laughing so hard, I'd be crying. Thanks again for keeping us mentally afloat as the whole ball of wax just grows and grows....

  38. Actually,
    Gail, a column of yours with many funny and true points.
    "However" Harry Reid failed to produce a budget by last Oct 15 2010, as he was supposed to do. Therefore these continuing emergencies...this last one fully false, as FEMA "found" that the funding already existed.
    The House passed the bill and went on its break. Then enter Harry Reid and the obstructionist Democrats, who played with the bill and surrounding publicity for a few days before passing it.
    As usual, your mere writing a column allows the many Republican-hating readers of the NY Times to vent, after they have told us, with their infinite wisdom, what Republicans are.
    Didn't get to post re. your last, column, as I tried to make your recurring non-funny joke funny: Willow got to New York by riding on top of Mitt Romney's car.
    Have a nice weekend.

  39. I am sick and tired of the political terrorism of the Tea Party Republicans. How can they make such blatant efforts to destroy the federal government while being people's representatives to that very government? How do people send these cynics to the office knowing they would only work (and I use the term loosely as they seem interested in anything but work) to dismantle the very foundations of modern government and create roadblocks to solving any problems? When will people wake up and realize that they should vote for people who make up an effective government, not ones that are fond of 30 second soundbites to get their 15 minute of fame?

  40. Bar? There's no bar. Washington is now sitting on the floor.

    As to the Republicans? They baffle me, as does anyone who votes for them.

  41. @R Head #9
    You have touched on the crux of America’s problem with government. Voter apathy.

    A few years ago, I noticed that on one of my pastures the beneficial grasses had become sparse and that their absence had allowed wild onions to overtake the field, rendering it unusable. To correct the problem, I merely over seeded the field with good grasses which crowded out the wild onions and turned the field into a viable pasture again.

    If only American voters would return to the voting booths in numbers that reflect 80 or 90 percent of the electorate, the “onions” in our congress could easily be crowded out and restore it to a working, viable, productive entity again.

  42. IF the Republicans win the WH and get more seats in Congress, what then? Will they destroy everything that bipartisanship has wrought over the past 40-50 years that they don't like? Are they so out of touch with the average "man on the street" that they actually believe the majority of people in America WANT to have the government made so small it can be drowned in a bathtub? Do they honestly think that by destroying the departments that keep our air relatively clean, our water fit to drink, our banks from totally stealing our savings, and making more of us unable to get anything but basic bandaids at the local hospital ER that we will be HAPPY with their being in office?

    Are they as crazy as most of us think they are?

  43. you would think that boehner would some day understand that if he gets enough republicans and democrats to rally around anything he'd stand a chance of not being one of the least effective speakers of the house ... he could be historically cited as somebody that could get things done for the american people ... maybe he just is destined to be one of the worst ...

  44. They have funded the gov't for a whole 7 weeks? It's official - the lunatics have finally taken over the asylum!

    Willow for President! She knows how to get somewhere, isn't shy about expressing herself, and doesn't worry too much about public opinion!

  45. Do as I say; not as I do....the creed of elected GOP/Tea Party officials....hypocrisy, thy name is Republican.

  46. The plumber's view of Obama, fueled by Rush and Hannity, is chilling. This has been posted before, but it is worth repeating:

    The Republicans speak of the virtue of hard work, but they focus their actions on rewarding special interests who seek extraordinary concessions from the government as shortcuts to profits.

    The Republicans want to shrink government, but they consistently promote expensive military action around the world at the drop of a hat.

    The Republicans claim that they want America to be more competitive with other countries in the global marketplace, but they frown upon expenditures for education and discourage immigration of talent from other countries.

    The Republicans are adamant in their opposition to intrusive government regulation, but they have no problem having the government inject itself into the privacy of bedrooms and of doctors’ offices across the country.

    The Republicans say that job creation for Americans is important to them, but they do nothing to remove incentives for outsourcing American jobs overseas.

    The Republicans urge the need for innovation and technological advances in the United States, but they rarely miss a chance to take an anti-science position on any given issue.

  47. Your humor makes crazy Congress seem bearable. On the serious side, our community in Virginia was VERY grateful for FEMA the past couple of weeks--help came with huge container trucks & claws & cleared away whole trees (about 8 houses had trees go through the roof etc. in Hurricane Irene)& huge debris all over--something as individuals we could not have done.

  48. We focus a lot on the behaviors in Congress, for obvious reasons, but I think the point at which I would try to intervene would be getting these human beings to articulate more accurately what they are feeling and why, what's bothering them, as it were. The unexamined life may or may not be worth living (pace Socrates), but it will definitely distort one's behavior. I don't doubt that self-awareness is not part of the skill set that is directly rewarded with election, but I think it is necessary for safe governing.


  49. The Republican controlled House has passed a series of budget plans. All have died in the Democrat controlled Senate. The Senate meanwhile has not even submitted budget plan in three years. The Senate has done a particularly nice job with the President's budget plans. The Senate voted the President's plan down in January 97-0 and has not even addressed the latest $500 billion jobs plan. Some joke?indefinitely

  50. Gail,
    But you missed the whole point. Will Willow bite another three year or not? We wait.

  51. Congress is on vacation?? Didn't they just get BACK from a LONG one?

    Well, bless their hearts, as reported last week, they're forced to spend a whopping 50% of their waking hours focused on fund-raising - just to keep those jobs. No doubt, what you're calling a "vacation" is what the rest of us call miserably exhausting "cocktail parties". (I wish I had a job that pays me to nibble on canapes while promising the moon to fat-cats all too happy to write me checks for said moon).

    And about that rotten FEMA. Yesterday it was announced by my Republican congressman, (in place thanks to convicted Tom Delay's illegally funding an insane redistricting scheme that split my city into 3 districts) that he's PO'd because FEMA may not have responded as fast as my Rep. thought it oughtta, once Texas caught on fire a month ago. So, Congressman McCaul's gonna hold a hearing to get to the bottom of it.

    That's been one of the funny things about Texas Republicans lately: they hate/hate/HATE the gubment and demand it leave us alone, but boy-howdy do they get spittin' mad if Federal help isn'tt here johnny-on-the (smoldering) spot.

    Oh, and our brilliant state legislators (with our handsome Governor's blessing) voted to cut budgets for our firefighters. Well, FEMA better dang well send Texas plenty of aid - and be quick about it - before our US reps cut FEMA's budget, too.

  52. Who wants to take bets that Michele Bachmann who could not be bothered to show up for work over 40% of the time will show up on Thursday? I know she isn't a senator but she has been screaming to shut down the government since the day Obama was elected.

  53. Yet there is a better than even chance the republicans will take the presidency and the senate. I hope under that circumstance the democrats stop fighting for the middle class and yield to majority rule. The resulting catastrophe should force the American people particularly in the red states to think before they enter a voting booth. Remember the republicans were almost wiped out right after the Bush presidency and many were concerned that they would never recover. However with the famous memory lapse of the American people the republicans have come roaring back ready to wreck havoc on the poor and middle class. I doubt the rich will fare better under republic rule either since the depend on demand in the economy to grow their investments.

  54. "No one in the House of Representatives actually wants to single-handedly shut government down in its tracks."

    You are an eternal optimist, Ms. Collins. That person would probably become the Republican primary frontrunner overnight.

  55. During the last siege, crisis, emergency or what have you, the airport inspectors had to work without pay, out of pocket, and everything worked out fine. I suggest we de-fund the congress and make them pay their own way until they fix everything. I mean everything; health care, jobs, housing, national security, and the regulation of interstate cats.
    To further democratize our system of government, lets extend the power of the filibuster to each and every citizen that votes. Then you'll see lots more concerned citizens participating hands on. It can't make things any more confused or crazy.
    Then lets get the lawyers to start suing individual senators and representatives for political malpractice, and do so on a class action basis. This alone would create millions of good paying jobs in law enforcement.
    After we eliminate all the tax breaks for oil companies, churches and clinics that help patients pray away the gay, lets take that money and buy 535 copies of "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" and make every memeber of the upper echelons of government watch it all day every day until they accomplish the above, no popcorn allowed.
    These simple measures will have both immediate and long term benefits for all Americans, and improve our standing in the world. It has bipartisan appeal, is revenue neutral, and is gauranteed to tick off every elected official, and therefore is proved, a priori, to be fair, just and reasonable.

  56. The only thing in governmental history that I can remember being crazier than now was the Roman Emperor Caligula appointing a horse to the Roman Senate.

    Oh dear, perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that. . .

  57. I wouldn't put it past Cantor to wander into the House chamber on Saturday.

  58. "Even lower, goes the bar."

    Yes; and as our expectations of Congress drop, so do our grocery lists shorten. A year ago, we wanted to buy organic vegetables; today, we want to buy gas to get to the grocery story for bread, beans and eggs. A year ago, I worried about losing my job, and finding a comparable position elsewhere. Now I am concerned that, if I lose my job, I may never work again.

    The notion that Congress will wake up, stop having ideological wars, stop taking money from the Koch brothers and other lunatics, eschew corporate donations, and do what it is supposed to do -- help us, for god's sake -- is as delusional as Willow the Cat reunion fantasy. We try and try, but all we get is -- bit.

  59. I remember the days when important legislation that addressed vital social needs were enacted, with groups of congressmen and senators gathered around the president congratulating each other and themselves on their accomplishment - oh what must have gone on away from the cameras.

    Now the congress congratulates itself because we don't shut down the government.

    When the next calamitous attack or other striking national emergency occurs, do we risk inaction because we must first find spending cuts in other programs?

  60. "If a single representative shows up and objects, the four-day funding bill is dead and the government shuts down this weekend. But, of course, what would make anyone think that there could be a member of the House of Representatives crazy enough to make the trip back to Washington just to bring the entire federal government to a crashing halt?"

    I wouldn't risk betting a nickel on it. If fact it wouldn't surprise me if that's exactly what happens. Yes, they are that crazy.

  61. Our Congress's behavior is enough to make an atheist pray, there being no other seeming solution to it.

  62. "This is a little like protesting the slowness of rush-hour traffic by abandoning your car in the center lane." We watch in horror as the country turns on itself and, like an auto-immune disease, starts to destroy itself. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are merely the symptoms of this disease. As Mikee (No. 4) says "Be very afraid....."

  63. Good for you, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, you are officially like a child holding his breath and stamping his feet. I think what we're seeing is the the triumph of ideology over reason when it comes to the Tea Party Congress. With such people, the ideology is sacred, nothing can come before it, no matter the cost, human or material, and it all comes down to feeling "right," feeling superior, and having the last word. Willow and her fellow felines could govern better.

  64. Another home run, Gail. Wonderful piece and thanks. Do you think the GOP is going to run Willow in the 2012 race?

  65. Roberto (12) Re: "Harry Reid needs to pass a budget. He hasn't in over two years, "

    And one guess why that would be, Roberto. It's the GOP holding up the works because they'd rather see the country and people's lives destroyed to make political points.

  66. Basically, the states that vote Democratic are as Germans to the states that vote Republican as Greece. We pay for them to exist, and they are nothing but trouble! Let's quit bailing them out. Let them live on their own earnings and find out front-and-center exactly what the government they so deplore does for them. Will the Koch brothers bail out Nebraska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama? I'm not holding my breath.

  67. Revolution is the only way to get rid of a system now controlled by the wealthy few.

  68. So, my senator, Roy Blunt, was one of those thinking he could help the traffic jam by abandoning his car in the center lane at rush hour. What an embarrassment to have him representing our state. I hope Willow runs against him next time.

    No doubt, someone like Joe Walsh will show up in the House today to shut down the government. After all, that would be the next logical step.

  69. A note to #16, Publius: People did not camp out in National Parks 'for thousands of years' before Government, because there were no National Parks before the Government made them. They were Wildernesses. Like, you know, some people's back yards. However, today, many people are camping out on sidewalks, and not just to get a glimpse of Willow the Cat. They are the homeless created by the insane policies of George Bush II. Although it *is* obnoxious to listen to all the government officials who are constantly taking credit for things like National Parks. I wish Rick Perry would just shut up about it.

  70. I would have thought they would not shut down the federal govmint because that should mean they get no paychecks. Then I remembered they have been bought and paid for by their rich/corporatist pals and could well afford to miss a paycheck or two.

    I would suggest that we do shut down Congress for a few months, give them an opportunity to volunteer to serve the public, the 98% of us they are supposed to serve. You know, shared sacrifice?

    Another thing, why can't the Kochs put all that money they put into getting laws written to deregulate their oil industry, just save the money and put it into saving our planet. The irony of corporate welfare is all that money they put into the Tea Party is a return on their investment. They get it all back plus plenty from the rest of us.

    Another thing, how can O'Reiley not afford to pay a little more in taxes. We should only hope that Obama would raise his rate so he would be forced to "pack it in". That would be a good day for America!

  71. I would like to add to your excellent observations one of my own. And that is people are going through a stupid phase. Now I don't mean you or me or the multitude out there, I mean people in general. How do I know this? Look who's running our country.I don't think you could come up with a more non descript bunch of dullards if you tried. And how did they get there? By hook or crook I'm sure but also by being elected by a public that wants immediate gratification without having to think. And when this happens - What do you get - just turn on the tv and look.

  72. More liberal whining. Remember folks, it is the Democrat party who failed to produce any budget at all for over two years now. Just spend, spend, spend and leave it to someone else to figure out. That's real governing for you. Notice how FEMA managed to find the money after all - once pressed? It is obvious the federal gov't is an out of control train wreck. Stop the madness.

  73. Maybe the US Senate could actually meet its constitutional responsibilities this year and actually pass a budget. That is something Harry Reid has not allowed for two years because he did not want Democratic Senators to have to be on the record for anything controversial. Funny that Ms. Collins fails to mention that this is one of the main reasons we need these continuing resolutions every couple of months. The Obama budget was voted down 97-0 in the US Senate in February and then no further budget bill were advanced by Mr. Reid and his controlling committee chairmen. So, Ms. Collins, who is really the problem here? THe House, which passed a budget early in the year this year and last and every year before that. Or the US Senate, controlled by Harry Reid and the Democrats, who are doing something unprecendented by not passing budget bills for more than two years. Congressional dysfunction? Yes, and it starts with the Senate!

  74. Thanks for the early morning chuckle, Gail. Way to start an oppressive work day. I just love your sooo subtle sardonic sense of humor. Humor is the best medicine yet in a dysfunctional ruling political elite at the Sisyphian Hill. Now back to Willow, the Cat, at the bat!

  75. Is this any way to run a business? The much touted Republican mantra that government should be run like a business is apparently no longer one of their principles.

  76. Most disturbing about all the Rand Paul et al tactics is that legislaters such as he are not open to debate or compromise. No amount of phone calls to his office, no plundering of his poll numbers would change his position. The Tea Party obstruct because they can; because the Constitution allows it. In no other venue would this be tolerated.
    Rank Paul's devotion to Ayn Rand's absolutism is as destructive to our nation as the Repub devotion to Grover Norquist's loony no tax pledge.
    The rules of Congress must be changed.

  77. Yo! Roberto! (Poster # 12: Go back to Civics Class! The HOUSE has the power of the purse, NOT the Senate. Direct your comment to Speaker Boehner!

  78. I remember once reading a piece about research that attempted to discover why people laugh. Apparently, after failing to come up with a plausible scientific explanation for this trait, someone got kind of poetic and determined that it has something to do with laughter being what we need to do to keep from crying all the time.

    Reading this piece, I came to understand this theory in an entirely new way. But since it's just a theory, we can be sure that Rick Perry and his ilk will not want it taught in our schools.

    Gail, as we all go down, at least we'll be laughing - as long as your computer works.

  79. The Draft Willow for President movement brings to mind the old Firesign Theater bit: Papoon for President -- He is Not Insane ! Why not? Some township has already elected a canine for mayor, so a feline in public office is overdue. This is especially appropriate now that the cat has replaced the dog as America's favorite pet -- no need for walking the cat. Willow could run on the platform: Litter in Every Box. She seems so refreshingly unlike a politican, in that she bit a little girl in full view of the media and the television audience,
    while old style politicans do that sort of thing behind closed doors.
    Really, Willow could not do any worse than the current pack of jackals.
    A Real Live Meowing democratic Cat--to paraphrase a line from The Dog
    by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

  80. Can it get any crazier? In the midst of a record drought & heat wave, our governor, Rick Perry, tells us to pray for rain, and not to listen to what scientists are saying about global warming, while his state budget cuts funding for fighting wildfires. Now, following the largest wildfire in Texas' history, not to mention the monster hurricane that ravaged the East Coast, the blizzard in January, and the Joplin tornadoes, Republicans in Congress play politics with FEMA disaster relief. What has happened to my country?

  81. The Democrat controlled senate voted 97-0 against the Obama budget. The Democrat controlled senate has not passed a budget during the Obama term as President. Who is avoiding responsibility?
    The discussion of fairness and equity is used to distract from the real responibilities to govern.

  82. On behalf of Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”

  83. Roy Blunt is an embarrasment, and he raised his son (our former governor) to be the same.

    I"m tired of the manufactured crisis the Rs keep foisting on us. They are deteremined to demonstrate that government doesn't work. I wish we could require a "works well with others" test before anyone is nominated for a position in DC. I also wish that we could have some genuine campaign finance reform and limited campaign time frames, so we could elect poorer, but more sane representatives. But I guess that's like wishing I could win the latest Powerball drawing.....

  84. More "clever" stories - sickening at this time: but the story that I am waiting for is the announcement by the Democratic Party that they will hold a primary, so that we can vote for a new Executive in the White House who we believe in and global leaders also believe in, someone who will put an end to the bad actors in the US Congress, who indulge
    themselves irresponsibly in so called "cat fights": No one wants the news about the so called leaders in Congress; or news about Obama's endless hinterland town hall talks: We want the Democratic Party to announce a primary to elect a President whom we can all believe in; a proven statesman or stateswoman: I think Hillary Clinton would be very proven,and very believable candidate for President in 2012. NYT editors, Let's stop the nonsense and get real. This is not cute/or funny. The economy is crushing.Can you imagine, Gail Collins, what you would do without a job? or NYTimeseditors: what would you all do if no one paid attention to you anymore. If we didn't trust you...what would you do if no one read your essays..and you were given the pink slip....It could happen, you know
    I for one am tired of cute stories. Please no more....it's like a
    terrible dose of junk food, when we all need a balanced meal...

  85. Washington has become repulsive. A few months back, I made a resolution not to read another word about the Palin. Then I added all Republican candidates. Then I included all doings inside the beltway. I've followed the news for over 50 years and never before has it been so demoralizing, so utterly juvenile. I still follow the doings in Berlin, Athens, etc., but I've given up on Washington. Before long all we will have left is either the veto of the week or the filibuster du jour, with an occasional Supreme Court fiasco thrown in for spice. I expect us to go bankrupt. We're morally bankrupt already.

  86. Go Gail! What would we do without your humor to help us get through all this? Thanks for your humor and witty articles. And you're right, the bar continues to be lowered on our politicians.

  87. Wait a minute - Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are possibly breaking up?!

  88. The GOP has finally succeeded in the "dumbing down" of both working class and middle class US citizens who vote. Without an understanding of how government actually governs, they vote for those who, like them, also don't know. Or, cynically, those elected do know and laugh all the way to the bank along with their backers like the Koch brothers.

  89. The stunning examples of Republican ignorance and destruction abound, and yet, the Democratic leaders fall silent, send mixed messages and mostly cower.
    The pressure needs to go not to the cartoonish GOP but, to the sorry excuses for Democratic pols we have representing us. After all, if they can't fight back forcefully and intelligently to this group of spectacular failures, they must be forced out!

  90. Thank-you, Ms. Collins for your gift of alchemy. With almost every column, you're able to transform the bitter iron-y I feel about our current political mess into the pure gold of laughter.
    It sure beats screaming or sobbing.

  91. Sadly, after a five year trek punctuated by meeting up with so-called compassionate conservatives, blue dog democrats, tea party radicals, and finally wall street banksters, Willow learned to bite indiscriminately.

    Alas, this was the lesson from tea pots who delight in threatening government shutdowns and from the banksters who delight in keeping the rest of us poor.

    We should turn the banksters into bankers through regulation and send the tea pots back home tied to the roofs of their cars.

  92. And it must be noted that Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, one of the 3 Republican Senators serving on the Super Committee, voted against the stopgap funding measure as well. A sure sign that he will be a tremendously useful member of that bi-partisan effort.

  93. So, can we all agree our current version of democracy isn't working? And please don't tell me to write my senator, or call, or donate money, or vote. I've done all that, and I don't think it's made a difference. Let's face it: Republicans don't care what voters want.

  94. Former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi: “For the past eight months, the White House has had “no celebratory bill signings. Do you remember any that they signed, any bill? No. If the Republicans hold on to the House and Obama is reelected, “it’s going to be two years again of a presidency without a legislative agenda.”

    She is so right.

  95. The problem with "Willow the Cat" being a feel-good story is that her name brings to mind "Willow Palin" and all its feel-bad connotations.

  96. To Willow and the people of America: Illegitimi Non Carborundum!

  97. How many days in a year does congress actually work? It seems that they are constantly in recess. Maybe if they spent some time in session they could actually get something done.

  98. I read somewhere that the House has been in session 123 days this year. It seems nothing can be done to compel the House and the Senate to do their work. Since the inauguration of President Obama, Republicans have stopped working, regardless of the price the country (and us citizens)pay. When Democrats controlled both chambers, way too many members--particularly in the Senate--felt compelled to preen and make themselves the story because a black man had been elected president. We can thank those who rail incessantly against "government spending" and fund the government by serial continuing resolutions for bumping up the price of goods and services purchased by the U.S. I wish media would present a primer on federal appropriations law and the cost of failing to pass a budget since--wait for it--the country elected a black president.

  99. I have never been SO GLAD to be 66!
    If nothing changes, I will be so glad not to be here in 25 years.

  100. Gail, why do we keep referring to government gridlock when what exists is an attempt to destroy majority rule democratic government by sabotage. We are witnessing the attempt of a minority party, by refusing to participate in the government in which they sought office, to govern in the public interest and now controlled by theocratic extreme right wing radical reactionaries.

    While the job killing Republican party has always been mean spirited and authoritian and devoid of ethics when it came to elections and always sought unfair advantage, presently, the real looney tunes, those who make up their own facts and history and statistics and believe them, those that believe that poverty is the way God punishes losers and that wealth equal goodness and that Republicans need not obey the same rules as anybody else, have floated to the top of the pool in which they float far from the mainstream.

    Gail we have too many insane people with too much power in all levels of government. A few may be Democrats, although none come to mind, by in large they are almost all Republicans, with alien and un-American ideas and they fully intend to destroy the United States and resolve the gridlock with a one party dictatorship.

  101. My dog doesn't like kids at that age so it doesn't surprise me that Willow bit the kid, I wish she would bite Harry Reid and get him to fight, even if it's just rhetorically. He's never been an effective leader and he needs to call out the Republicans tout de suite, twenty-four seven, tout les temps.

    The guy who was trying to get the plumber to fix the leak should have shown the guy the door when he turned on the radio, it's not Obama's fault his business is in the can, it's his own fault. Listening to Rush destroys brain cells while hardening arteries at the same time. He's plant for managed health care, a contradiction in terms!

  102. There are a lot of similarities between Willow and Congressional repressentation. Cats are not particularly loyal to anyone and for the sake of a meal will leave their owners for someone else. Cats do not care what anyone things of them and welcome disdain. Cats can be manipulative allowing people to pet them and then turning on them in an instant with a nasty bite. Cats do not get along with other cats very often but are very competitive. Cats do not do well in groups preferring their own company. Cats cannot be trained to do much of anything and only if they are coaxed with treats. Yes, cats and Congress are a great deal alike. Too bad for us they didn't lose a dog.

  103. In the spirit of Rand Paul's opposition to any and all government regulation, I propose that obeying traffic signals become optional. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say government can regulate traffic, and the cost of gas wasted while idling at red lights, and wear and tear on my brakes, is an unnecessary financial burden. Also, having to drive my car on the right side of the road infringes upon my personal liberties. If I want to drive on the left, or on the sidewalk for that matter, the government has no right to stop me! If I happen to hit or run over someone, that's my personal responsibility. As long as the victims and their families are compensated it's none of the government's business. Let the free market rule!

  104. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore might break up??!?

    And for the news, honestly, I'm watching Aljazeera on broadcast channel sub-4 or whatever. It is something of a thrill to hear about things that I have a strong feeling I might actually need to know. Apart from my own local primaries, I swear I won't need to know a single thing about the presidential campaign before National Children's Day in October 2012.

  105. Gail says "No one in the House of Representatives actually wants to single-handedly shut government down in its tracks." Looking at some of the members of the House, I think she is optimistic.

  106. Things can actually pass the House with no one actually there? That's pretty scary.

    I'd be happier if the president told Congress, "Your vacation is postponed until you finish your work and vote on this bill." With the House of late, though, I'll have to admit that that's probably more likely to fail. If it passes in an empty House, the Tea Partiers can at least claim that it was passed behind their back and they didn't have anything to do with it.

  107. "No one in the House of Representatives actually wants to single-handedly shut government down in its tracks."

    Eric Cantor?

  108. Any wonder the President is frustrated? President Obama may have been naive to think he could govern with the republicans but at least he is trying to get something accomplished. What's the republicans excuse? Oh yeah, "government is the problem". Why would anyone vote for someone who doesn't believe in the value of the job they are running for? I certainly would not hire anyone who felt that they were being hired to do as little as possible.

  109. Readers - Go see "Dolphin Tale" if you want to feel a touch of humanity in today's world. A kid's movie? Maybe. An adult movie, too, which in the midst of our selfish, greedy, inhumane treating of each other gives a little tinge of hope that there still are some people out there that actually care about something bigger than themselves. In the meanwhile - thanks for the Willow Story and thanks NBC TODAY show for giving it to us. We need sparks in "TODAY'S" society and beyond.

  110. I can walk down any street in my small town in northern Illinois and see little old ladies out weeding their gardens - every one of them listening to Rush on the radio. The inescapable, onerous sound of his voice follows me down the block as I realize these people hold the future of our children and country in their ignorant, bigoted hands.

  111. Ever lower, indeed. Have we have reached the nadir in our backward National Evolution?(apologies to the Evangelicals, but evolution is a real word)
    The National political stage is so far from who I believe that we are, that we cannot even recognize ourselves any more.
    The Cat's journey is analogous to how we have strayed from who we think we are. The Right Wing has set us on a path that is taking us back to what they believe were our halcyon days - the days of Ike, Reagan, Nixon, McCarthy, Jesse Helms. Now that we are being dragged backwards, some are realizing that maybe those were not actually the best of times.
    The Know Nothings are running things and those who get in their way will be dragged back "home", just like the Cat by the Right Wing Mob.

  112. Are you suggesting that if Mr. Boehner disappeared for 5 years and was found in a shelter in NYC we would then have a national day of reconciliation?

  113. I'm not someone who likes to camp out. The way things are going I'm seeing that I might be going there. Thanks congress for sending everyone to camp. I thought that we pledged our allegiance to the [Latin] word Republic. Meaning that we wear a group of people working in the same field, America.

  114. Time to read BEING THERE once again.

  115. Voters need to realize that it is not Congress that is dysfunctional. It is the Republican party.

  116. None of the political shenanigans that Gail amuses us with are actually funny. Ghastly, incredible, horrifying, imbecilic are all more like it.

  117. Gail,

    You are a treasure. Thank you, thank you, for helping us remember that we can laugh amidst our troubles.

  118. It is a disgrace to the citizens of our nation to have watch and listen to these bickering politicians who are obviously more concerned about getting re-elected, than helping us out of this economic mess. Maybe they should observe how the German parliment acted like adults and did what was needed to be done. Another reason why a multiparty parlimentary system would be much more truly represenative of our nations diversity. Our system no longer functions to serve the needs of the "people". Maybe a national referendum. That way, we could send them all home with a vote of no confidence, have an elections until we get some folks that want to solve problems and understand that compromise is the art of politics. What we currently have is more like a smelly stagnant pond, with too many mosquitos.

  119. This government has not worked since January 2008... well it has but only to cripple the lives and future of our great nation and that's working if you believe only FOs (Friends of Obama), Karl Marx, ACORN, Chicago Thugs, Michele's entourage, bloated government wit Czars and Jeffrey Imelt are the most important people.

  120. "Ever lower, goes the bar."

    I don't think it's possible for it to get much lower, Gail.

    I'm beginning to think that no – not low – taxes isn't such a bad thing. At the very least it would put all these fools out of a job.

    But then I've heard it said that a country gets the politicians it deserves...

  121. Gail, I can just picture you giggling while you write these columns. Do you think maybe you and Dave Berry could collaborate some time? Seems like a natural fit.

    And the thought of Marco Rubio in the VP slot gave me even more reason to smile...the thought of him riding shotgun is itself reason enough to rally a good chunk of the Democratic base.

  122. Dear Gail, In this age that's gone WAAY beyond satire in real life, you still find a way to let me smile, early in the morning California time...thank you!

  123. Anyone who has taught early teens kids would agree that most of them become disagreeable and cranky for reasons they do not know--all they know is that everyone and everything annoys them. The same can be said of Congress, but more specifically, House and Senate Republicans. This malaise seems to have broadened to the voters, results of the 2010 elections for example, and it is hard to determine if the source's origin is from the top down or the bottom up. In any case, it's time to grow up, cut the grousing, and put patriotism before self-interest and crass materialism.