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E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post writes—Shutdown: The tea party’s last stand:

If the nation is lucky, this October will mark the beginning of the end of the tea party.

The movement is suffering from extreme miscalculation and a foolish misreading of its opponents’ intentions. This, in turn, has created a moment of enlightenment, an opening to see things that were once missed.

Many Republicans, of course, saw the disaster coming in advance of the shutdown. But they were terrified to take on a movement that is fortified by money, energy and the backing of a bloviating brigade of talk-show hosts. The assumption was that the tea party had become invincible inside the GOP.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times puts in arrow in the bullseye in The Boehner Bunglers:
Early this year, it turns out, some of the usual suspects — the Koch brothers, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and others — plotted strategy in the wake of Republican electoral defeat. Did they talk about rethinking ideas that voters had soundly rejected? No, they talked extortion, insisting that the threat of a shutdown would induce President Obama to abandon health reform.

This was crazy talk. After all, health reform is Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement. You’d have to be completely clueless to believe that he could be bullied into giving up his entire legacy by a defeated, unpopular G.O.P. — as opposed to responding, as he has, by making resistance to blackmail an issue of principle. But the possibility that their strategy might backfire doesn’t seem to have occurred to the would-be extortionists.

Oudeh Basharat at Haaretz writes—Israel's new Iran policy is the stick and the stick:
As long as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered the goods, Iran had no representative more authentic than its president, in the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But now that Ahmadinejad’s successor, Hassan Rohani, has breached the trust and has the chutzpah to keep on smiling, that is no longer the case. Were Netanyahu instructed to tailor a tender for the post of Iran’s president, there’s no doubt that it would be awarded to none other than Ahmadinejad. This shouldn’t come as a great shock: If the shoe were on the other foot, Ahmadinejad would surely pick Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel. Devious are the ways of the extremists.

And so, the bigger the trick, the bigger the disappointment. Here’s the new gospel according to Netanyahu, the teacher: If the child doesn’t make an effort, he’ll get it. And if he does make an effort and get good grades, he’ll still get it. No more “carrot and stick.” From now on our policy is the stick and the stick: Even if the Iranians change their attitude, Netanyahu wants to continue with sanctions. The same thing with the Palestinians. If they recognize Israel they will receive—how did Yehoram Gaon put it, in his tortured voice?—“nada.” And if they don’t recognize Israel they will get nothing. If they give up on the right of return they’ll get nada and if they don’t they will still get nada. If they agree to conduct talks while construction in the settlements continues they’ll get nada, and if they don’t they’ll get nada.

With one click, you can read more pundits beneath the squiggle.

James Warren at the New York Daily News interviews one-time conservative firebrand Vin Weber, who now seems like pussycat, and other somewhat stunned partisans on How we came to the brink:

Long Island Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who worked as a congressional staffer in the ’80s, recalls “people actually rooting for compromise. Now compromise is viewed as a betrayal.”

He swears that in the House gym when he asked a Tea Party congressman why he wouldn’t compromise, he was told, “I wasn’t elected to compromise.”

When Israel, who runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, warned the Tea Partier that Democrats might kick his butt in the next election if he didn’t compromise, the response was: “I know. But I will take this government down with me.”

John Nichols at The Nation writes—Yes, Federal Workers Are Essential:
Government workers form the human infrastructure that underpins a great deal of what is good and necessary in the American experiment. We the people care for one another, we take on great challenges, we achieve great things, and we do this by forming a more perfect union and asking some of our fellow citizens to do perform the tasks that are necessary to its maintenance.

Federal workers are essential. [...]

The communities and the states where federal workers live are hurting, too. The economic uncertainty—and the potential damage to local economies—is real. And potentially devastating. [...]

According to a Goldman Sachs study, every day of the shutdown robs the US economy of $400 million in economic activity—because of lost pay. Th study estimates that economic growth would slow measurably—perhaps by 0.2 percent[age] points—after just one week of a shutdown.

Peter Schrag at the Los Angeles Times writes—California's recall revolution that wasn't:
Monday is the 10th anniversary of the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Was it the great watershed in California government that some predicted at the time? Was it a "people's revolution," something like Proposition 13, that would trigger a broader national uprising against politics as usual? Was it the great reengagement of an electorate that had been alienated by the mess our leaders had made of things?

Or was the recall none of these things, just a system reset that hardly changed anything?

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones dredges up William Jennings Bryan to make a headline in John Boehner Has Been Cruzified on a Cross of Tea:
Here's the thing: I agree with our unnamed congressman about the device tax. It's a fairly small thing ($2-3 billion per year) and completely nonessential to Obamacare. It could be eliminated without harm, and it would give Boehner a small bit of face-saving that might allow him to pass a budget. If this had been the GOP's initial ask, Democrats probably would have given in.

But after weeks and weeks of tea party rage and intransigence, that became impossible. By the end of September, the Republican strategy had become crystal clear: demand unceasing concessions from Democrats at every opportunity without offering anything in return and without any negotiation. A month ago, Democrats might have shrugged over the device tax.

William K. Black whittles down a piece he wrote for New Economic Perspectives for Alternet and goes for the jugular in America Has Become a "Cheater-Take-All" Nation:
Tyler Cowen’s new book Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation warns that inequality will only get worse as a "hyper-meritocracy" of smart, energetic people at the top commanding machines and data speed ahead and the lazy, not-very-bright folks at the bottom fall further behind.

One thing seems to be left out of the discussion: those hyper-meritocrats are led by criminal morons.

Cowen’s embrace of Social Darwinism assumes that the winners have a selective advantage that arises from “merit” – which Cowen conflates with the ability to create wealth.  This is passing strange as we are still suffering from an orgy of wealth destruction led by the “winners.”

Ana Marie Cox at The Guardian writes—Unless you're a very healthy rich person who lives in a cave, the government shutdown affects you and should make you mad:
Human puff-adder Bill Kristol drolly noted on Morning Joe this week that the shutdown is not "the end of the world". The Huffington Post's Sam Stein snapped back, "For these people affected by these cuts, it is sort of comparable to the end of the world."

I have one quibble with Stein's otherwise satisfying smackdown: "For the people affected by these cuts" implies that there are people who are not affected by these cuts.

Robert J. Samuelson at the Washington Post undermines his own both-sides-do-it thesis about the hardening of ideology with one clear paragraph in his otherwise mushy Ideology is what has won in the shutdown debate:
Just why partisan differences have widened is controversial, but they clearly have. “[B]asic beliefs are more polarized along partisan lines than at any point in the past 25 years,” said a 2012 Pew opinion study. One question asked about the need for “stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment.” Among Democrats, 93 percent agreed, the same as in 1992; for Republicans, agreement was 47 percent, down from 86 percent in 1992. Large gaps have also opened on the social safety net, minority preferences and immigration. Some centrists are alienated; more count themselves as “independents.”
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