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There are good pundits and there are bad pundits. Bad pundits lead with with claims that "gridlock" in Washington caused the first federal government shutdown in 17 years. They claim that the shutdown is a "pox on both your houses" type of deal, and use phrases like the White House and Congress "trading blame" or "pointing fingers" for shutting down the government.  

Good pundits write about the fact that the shutdown is the result of House Republican behavior. Specifically, House Republicans, led by the nose by the Tea Party, are throwing a tantrum because, boo hoo, they didn't win a presidential election in 2008 and 2012.

Let's jump in to the good punditry about the shutdown, then some fantastic write-ups about the launch of below the fold.

(By the way, if you haven't read this weekend piece by James Fallows, "Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead," do so now. It's worth the click.)

Michael Tomasky at Newsweek's The Daily Beast says that House Republicans aren't "hostage takers" keeping the economy hostage, they're "political terrorists":

What they’re doing here is not hostage taking, the most commonly used metaphor in the media. It’s political terrorism. When hostage takers see that their demands are met, they release the hostage. But what makes anyone think today’s Republicans will ever release the hostage? No—if the Democrats agree to negotiate, the demands will never stop. Every pivot point on the legislative calendar will be an opportunity to make demands without precedent in our system.

And they won’t care how much they sink in the polls, as long as Obama sinks too.

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post:
Democrats howled about “extortion” and “hostage taking,” which Boehner seemed to confirm when he came to the floor and offered: “All the Senate has to do is say ‘yes,’ and the government is funded tomorrow.” It was the legislative equivalent of saying, “Give me the money and nobody gets hurt.”

A threatened rebellion by the small band of House GOP moderates failed to materialize, and, just three hours before midnight, House Republicans sent their politically explosive device to the Senate, which disposed of it like the suspicious package it was.

Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal Constitution:
I still can't get my head around the idea that this is considered an acceptable means of doing the people's business. Even more bizarre, Republicans appear to believe that by threatening to harm the country to get their way on a partisan issue, they will be able to convince the American people that they have the judgment and maturity to be trusted with the reins of power. Color me surprised if that strategy works.
The Des Moines Register:
High school civics textbooks define political tactics, such as logrolling, pork-barrel spending and the storied art of compromise. Nowhere is there any mention of blackmail as a legitimate legislative tactic.
Joe Nocera at The New York Times:
[A]s Boehner well knows, many House Republicans do not want the government to shut down and would probably vote for the Senate’s clean bill if given half a chance. Their unwillingness to speak out against the extreme faction in their party is shameful. And it’s tragic that, at a time when the House desperately needs a strong speaker, it has John Boehner instead.
Heidi Przybyla & Julie Hirschfeld Davis at Bloomberg:
The Republican war with President Barack Obama over funding the government and the new health-care law will play out in the coming days and months. The conflict now exposed within the party may shape its future for years.
Carrie Wofford at U.S. News:
We are witnessing a political shift. The tea party seems to be taking over the GOP. Its small numbers belie its increasingly outsized clout. Despite having only 49 caucus members in the House, the tea party has so threatened House Speaker John Boehner that he not only puts forward bills he knows full well are only gimmicks, but also now seems willing to risk a government shutdown and default crisis while doing so.
Lydia DePillis at The Washington Post:
These are the conditions brought upon us by a small core of Republicans who can't let go of their opposition to a law their colleagues passed three years ago. And yet, not long ago, many of those same Republicans were declaring that uncertainty is the economy's biggest threat.
And now, for the good news. The launch of federal and state health insurance exchanges.  Click below for analysis on implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act.

On to the official launch of, the federal government's Affordable Health Care Act portal.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Today is a historic day in America. As we write this, because too many Republicans in the U.S. House have lost touch with reality, the nation is hurtling toward a government shutdown that could create an economic meltdown. That’s irresponsible on an epic scale, but not historic.

Today will be remembered for generations because for the first time in the nation’s grand history, health care is a right.

One could argue that Thomas Jefferson always meant it to be that way. Here’s what he and other founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

For much of our nation’s history, including and up to the last day of September of 2013, those courageous and simple sentiments were not manifested in public policy.

The Washington Post editorial board:
THE AFFORDABLE Care Act’s market­places open Tuesday, even though the federal government has shut down.  [...] As with any big rollout, there will no doubt be problems, many of them mundane. Computer systems will not work perfectly. Some people might have to sign up over the phone or on paper. But everyone should hope that those sorts of problems — and the overheated rhetoric of critics — do not deter too many people from buying insurance. Many Americans’ health depends on it.
The editors at The Los Angeles Times:
The subsidies will make a huge difference in the cost of coverage for many low- and moderate-income Americans. Yet a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that almost three-fourths of eligible Californians were unaware of the aid or assumed (wrongly) that they were ineligible.

That lack of awareness is one hurdle. Another is the relentless invective about Obamacare that's reducing support for the law among the people who have the most to gain from it. But the exchanges have started telling the other side of the story, and their outreach begins in earnest Tuesday.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger on Republican scare tactics over Obamacare:
if you want to see something truly scary, try not having anyone to pay for your health insurance. No company, no government entity, no family member. That’s the real alternative here.
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