Government Shutdown FAQ Page

As a public service, I shall now address the most frequently asked questions about the Government shutdown.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT?

In this case, it’s the federal government, as opposed to your state, city or county government.  I live in an area with a merged city-county government.  It is sort of like Christian Rock combining the worst of elements of two conflicting disciplines.  The federal government is described in the United States Constitution.

The federal government has three branches:  1) Executive (the President and all his minions); 2) Legislative (Congress); and 3) Judicial (Courts).  The Shutdown involves primarily the Legislative Branch.

WHAT IS CONGRESS?

Our Congress has two parts.  The Senate consists of like 50 or 100 senators or possibly more.  The House of Representatives contains God knows how many people, maybe 1,000.  They make the laws, sort of.  Mostly, they just disagree about what the laws should be.  This is because the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate.  John Boehner, a leathery-faced chain smoker from Ohio, is the Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, a feckless milquetoast from Nevada, leads the Senate.  They do not get along with each other.  Although Reid used to be a boxer, my money is on Boehner in an actual fight.

Congress has an approval rating of less than 10%, putting it just ahead of syphilitic dementia and just behind root canals in popularity.

WHAT IS A SHUTDOWN?

It’s where the government doesn’t have enough money to operate and shuts down a bunch of stuff.  They won’t shutdown everything.  We’ll still have air traffic controllers, prison guards and, of course, Congress.

WHY DO THEY CALL IT A SHUTDOWN?

Not everyone calls it that.  Fox News calls it a “slim down,” which sounds like a really positive thing. It might be a real positive, unless you’re one of the million or so people not getting paid during it.

Others call it a slow down, as though the government could actually move any slower than it already does.

HOW DID IT GET SHUTDOWN?

The House controls spending and won’t agree to fund anything unless part of Obamacare is delayed for a year AND members of Congress are required to participate in it.  The President and, hence, the Senate refuse to agree to this, saying that the law is law.  So, both sides would rather have much of the government grind to all a halt than compromise.

WHO SHUT IT DOWN?

That’s hard to say.  There are three schools of thought:

The Right:  Folks on the right (the “Conservatives”) say that the President did it.  Why?  First, they hate the President, so he has to be blamed.  Second, the President is a Democrat, and the Conservatives are not Democrats.  They blame the President for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare.  They don’t like Obamacare and don’t want it implemented, even though it is now the law.  So, the House won’t agree to fund any of the government unless there are changes made.

The Left:  Those on the left (the “Liberals”) blame the Conservatives, more particularly the Republicans.  They don’t want to negotiate with the Republicans.  So they don’t.  They hate the Republicans.  As a result, they don’t really want to talk to them at all.  Their hate of the Republicans is probably the reason they made Obamacare a law to begin with.

Everyone Else:  The remaining Americans (the “Victims”) don’t know who the f**k to blame and don’t give a rat’s ass.

WHAT IS OBAMACARE?

I’ve written extensively about that before.  No one really knows, but it exists.

WHO IS MY CONGRESSMAN?

I have no idea.  Just pick one.  They’re all about the same.

WHY WOULD ANYONE VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE IN CONGRESS?

You got me on that one.  No clue.

SO, IS THERE NO GOVERNMENT NOW?

It’s not really shut down completely.  Let’s say you worked in factory, and it got shut down.  There would still be security guards and some maintenance people working.  It’s kind of like that, but completely different.

Mostly, they’ve just furloughed a lot of employees.  That means they’ve told them not to come to work. Of course, they also don’t get paid. For example, of the 1500 employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only three are working.  Those three are complying statistics on how many people in the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t working.

If you are a “non-essential” employee, you’re not working.  “Non-essential” means they don’t really need you, which begs the question of why they’re paying you to begin with.

I’M A NON-ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE.  WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK?

That’s likely because you don’t work for the government.  Private sector non-essential employees should still report to work and pretend to be busy like usual.

HOW MANY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES ARE THERE?

Something like 3,000,000, and that doesn’t include the military, CIA, NSA and a bunch of others.  That’s more than Walmart, IBM and McDonalds combined.  The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees itself.  That’s hell of a lot but only one for every 1300 people in the country.  They can’t really protect all of us, can they?

IS CONGRESS GETTING PAID?

What kind of idiot are you?  Of course, they’re getting paid.  The Congressional barber shop, gym and shoe shine service are closed, though.  So, they are suffering but not as much as Congressional Barbers, Shoe Shiners and Gym Attendants.  Besides, if Congress doesn’t get paid, the Washington D.C. prostitution industry will collapse.

I’M IN A TENT AT A NATIONAL PARK.  WHAT’S THE DEAL?

You have 48 hours to get the Hell out.  If you don’t, the NSA will turn bears loose on your campground.

DOES THIS AFFECT THE NFL?

Luckily, no.

CAN I GET FREE HEALTH INSURANCE?

Probably not, unless you’re really poor or a member of Congress.

ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO MY PHONE CALLS FURLOUGHED?

No, we’re not.

DOES ANY OF THIS AFFECT MY OBAMACARE BRAIN IMPLANT?

Yes.  For the time being, the microchip implant has been deactivated.  You’ll know when it restarts, because you’ll piss your pants a couple of times.

ARE THE DEATH PANELS STILL WORKING?

Yes, they are.  Much like jury duty, you may be called to serve at any time.

SO, I GUESS THERE ARE NO COPS? (ASKING FOR A FRIEND)

You’re wrong about that.  Most cops are state employees anyway.  Plus, I know an FBI agent, and he’s still working, although it’s questionable about whether he’s being paid.  Imagine how surly he’d be if he had to bust your ass for free.

DO I STILL GET MY MAIL?

Yes.  The Postal Service isn’t affected, because it generates income from postage.  Somehow a business that loses billions of dollars can still deliver a letter for you 3000 miles away for 46 cents.  Go figure.

I’M DRUNK AND DON’T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS

First, that’s not a question. Second, your drunkenness does not explain your lack of understanding.  Many teetotalers, including the few sober members of Congress, don’t understand any better than you.

WHY ARE THEY TAKING OUR GUNS?

That’s a Frequently Asked Question About The United Nations.  I can’t answer it.

WHY CAN’T A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN STOP THIS?

Mr. LaPierre, I told you to quit posting questions.

WHAT’S THE PRESIDENT DOING?

How should I know?  Golf?  Vacationing?  Fighting evil?  Doing evil?  Just the usual stuff that Presidents do, I guess.

DO YOU THINK YOU’RE THE BOSS OF ME?

Yes.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  THE FOREGOING REPRESENTS THE OPINIONS, SPECULATION AND ASSUMPTIONS OF THE AUTHOR.  ALTHOUGH I AM A LICENSED ATTORNEY, NONE OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED OR RELIED UPON AS LEGAL ADVICE.  IN FACT, MUCH OF IT IS INACCURATE AND/OR FALSE.  IF IT WERE ACTUAL LEGAL ADVICE, I WOULD SEND YOU AN EXORBITANT, YET REASONABLE, BILL FOR MY SERVICES.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress 2013

The Middle East: A Simple Guide from a Simple Man

As always, the Middle East in the news. The government of Egypt has been overthrown (again) and the USA is threatening something against Syria. Apparently, the Syrian government gassed some of its citizens. At first, it sounded like we were going to wipe them out.  Then, it sounded like we might just block them on Facebook.  Now, it sounds like we’re doing nothing.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t know nearly as much about the Middle East as you should. After all, other than occasional lunacy from North Korea, the Middle East is pretty much where all the world’s trouble originates these days. I’ve penned this short primer to help others gain my limited knowledge of this troubling region.

DEFINING THE MIDDLE EAST

What is the Middle East? Well, first off, it’s not continent or a country. It’s actually a bunch of countries, mostly in Western Asia and a tiny part of North Africa. So, the Middle East is actually Western Asia and small speck of North Africa. Understand?

Below are all the countries that comprise the Middle East, along with my brief comments on what I know about each of them:

  • Bahrain: Didn’t know this was a country. I thought it was a city in Iraq.
  • Cyprus: Never heard of it. I don’t think we’ve ever attacked it or attacked anyone on its behalf. Thus, it’s safe to assume that 1) It has no oil; 2) It hasn’t attacked Israel; and 3) It isn’t another name for Israel.
  • Egypt: Egypt is actually in Africa. Did you know that? It was ruled by ruthless dictator Hosni Mubarek who was ousted from power by people who were then ousted from power. Most of what I know about Egypt is from The Ten Commandments. Looks like a bad place. They once had someone win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated.
  • Iran: The biggest of the troublemakers. Iran used to be called Persia and was known for its fabulous rugs and house cats. Now, it’s known for political and religious fanaticism and occasional wild threats against countries which could wipe it out in about a day and a half.  It’s only modern contribution to society was former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s embrace of business casual attire.
mahmound

Iran’s former president may have been nutty, but he made every day Casual Friday.

  • Iraq: Also known as the 51st state of the United States. Of course, it was once ruled by evil ruthless dictator Saddam Hussein. Now it is ruled by God knows what.  Hussein was the kind of well-balanced leader who tried to repel an America military attack by firing rockets at Israel.
  • Israel: Sort of like the United States’ little brother. It gets picked on a lot but always knows big brother has its back. Like a little brother, it also talks tough and doesn’t hesitate to threaten others. Beloved by evangelical Christians who somehow don’t care that a vast majority of its citizens reject the most basic tenets of Christianity. It has never been ruled by a ruthless dictator, but it has been governed by ruthless democratically elected leaders. Americans aren’t allowed to publicly criticize the Israeli government. Oddly enough, Israelis criticize it openly and often.
  • Jordan: I don’t know much about it, other than they seem like they’re friendly enough. I just found out the King Hussein died in 1999. He seemed alright to me. I was excited to learn that Abdullah is now the king–until I found out it wasn’t Abdullah the Butcher.
abdullah

King Abdullah The Butcher of Jordan (I wish!)

  • Kuwait: They have a lot of oil and a king or emir or something like that. They were invaded by Iraq 20 or so years ago, causing us to kick some Iraqi ass back to Baghdad. Since then, they don’t cause trouble for the U.S.
  • Lebanon: Beirut was once considered the Paris of the Arab World. During most of my life, it’s been a hotbed for troublemakers. Apparently, it still is, as it is the home base of Hezbollah, a disagreeable group whose sole purpose is the destruction of Israel.  Then again, no country is perfect.  We have the Westboro Baptist Church.  Oddly, though, Lebanon is a democracy–probably because it doesn’t have any oil.  Their constitution requires that the highest government officials belong to varied religions.  This keeps any one group of loons from taking over.
  • Oman: Hmmm. They’re too small to cause much trouble, I guess.  It sounds a lot like Onan, which makes me giggle.
  • Palestine: Not really a country, but it used be. That’s one of the big problems over there. They want to be a country again, but there isn’t enough land. So, they fight with the Israelis.  A lot of it has to do with the Gaza Strip, which sounds like an exotic dance, but it isn’t.
  • Qatar: Here’s what I know. The name is pronounced “Gutter.” Sometimes. It has a lot of oil (surprise!), but it’s a tiny little piss ant of a country. They seem to keep to themselves.
  • Saudi Arabia:  It’s a kingdom and also lousy with oil.  People wear robes and fabulous head wear.  They have a royal family.  May be best known as the home country of Osama Bin Laden, the lanky terrorist mastermind who had his sorry ass blown away by Navy Seals.  They’re heavy-duty Muslims, allowing religious leaders an official role in the their government.  Supposedly friendly to the U.S., but I have my doubts.  They remind me of friend who would sleep with your girl friend, and then blame her (not that I ever knew anyone like that or anything).
  • Syria: Doesn’t seem to get along with anyone, except Russia.  It is said that if Turkey and Syria ever go to war, they will fight until the last drop of Iraqi blood.  They’ve had a civil war going on for a couple of years now, but no one seems to know who is fighting whom.  There may not be any good guys.
  • Turkey:  Turkey is a democracy and has been for some time. It’s almost all Muslim but not Arab. They’re Turks, of course. They’re very sensitive about Armenians, so don’t bring that up around them. They’re best known for their wonderful baths and horrific prisons.  A friend of mine went to Turkey and ate a big bucket of cherries causing some sort of severe gastrointestinal reaction.
  • United Arab Emirates: This isn’t a country but a group of country-like states. They might just be cities. They’re all ruled by emirs and sheiks. One of the sheiks has a horse farm not too far from where I live. I’ve seen him at the race track. Dashing fellow that sheik. The best thing about the UAE is that it’s where former Iraqi Information Minister Baghdad Bob lives.
  • Yemen: It is the Unemployed Brother-in-Law of the Middle East. It’s real close to running out of oil which would pretty much turn it into the set for the next Mad Max film. They seem fairly friendly with the U.S., as do most impoverished nations. On the other hand, Yemen is a hot bed for terrorists resulting in the occasional lethal drone strike.  They don’t seem to mind.

Were you as surprised as I was to find out that Libya isn’t part of the Middle East, at least according to Wikipedia?  It sure seems like it should be with all its threats and saber-rattling over the years.  The late Muammar Gaddafi (Khadafi?  Qaddafi?) certainly qualified as a ruthless dictator.  I don’t get it.  Let’s just throw Libya in there anyway.

Libya's late strong man was certainly a bad guy, but the world misses his style.

Libya’s late strong man was certainly a bad guy, but the world misses his style.

Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan are in the Middle East, and we can’t stretch the definition to include them.  Remember this rule of thumb:  None of the “Stan” countries are in the Middle East.

GOVERNMENT

Middle Eastern countries have a vast array of governments from democracies to theocracies to monarchies to dictatorships.  They all seem to have one thing in common:  They like to threaten and fight with each or, at the very least, Israel.  Generally speaking, they also seem to despise the United States–and we ain’t too fond of them, either.

All Middle Eastern nations brag about their armies who typically provide little resistance to invaders (Israel excepted, of course).  They quickly surrender and often join forces with the invaders.

Strong men and ruthless dictators have always been popular.  They’re usually fairly despicable, although the United States has been friendly with some of them.  The Shah of Iran, for example, was a fast friend of ours.  One good thing about these folks is that they are able to keep the religious nuts out of their governments, which is more than we can say for our own form of government.  Of course, if you’re like the Shah, you may be unfortunate enough to thrown from power by the religious nuts.  That also happens sometimes in our country, but it’s through elections.

Some of the countries follow Sharia law, which is a form of theocracy incorporating Islamic law into the secular laws of the country–or something like that.  You may have heard Glenn Beck and others of his ilk decrying the possibility that Sharia law will become the law of the land in the United States.  Some states have even passed laws to prevent that.  If you voted for anyone based upon that, please consider not voting anymore.  Thanks.

RELIGION

If Middle Eastern governments are varied, their religion is not.  The countries are predominantly Islamic, with exception of Israel, which is mostly Jewish.  I don’t know about Cyprus.  Lebanon used to have more Christians than anyone else.  I assume that’s still the case.

As we all know, we’re not to discuss religion in polite company, but religion is a big deal in the Middle East.  Most of the countries don’t want any religion but Islam.  Of course, many Americans don’t want any religion but Christianity, but we are certainly more tolerant, if not any less hateful about it.

Some Americans think all Muslims are terrorists. It’s like people who say all conservatives are racists. Although there may be quite a few who are, the overwhelming majority are not.  Facts don’t matter.  People believe what they want to believe.  It’s sort of like religion.

My son has a close friend who is Muslim, and he seems harmless enough.  We have millions of Muslims in the U.S., and I’m reasonably certain they aren’t all terrorists.

We in America talk about radical Islam or Muslim extremists.  I’m not sure how you define those terms, but read the Old Testament and take every single rule and law literally.  You’ll probably be an extremist.

A lot of the fighting in the Middle East is between Muslim groups.  There are Shiites and Sunnis.  I don’t know the difference and don’t intend to find out.  I have a hard enough time with all the different Christian denominations.  Here’s a good guide for you.  If your church suggests that you blow yourself up or blow up other people, consider checking out another group.

CULTURE

I don’t know much of their culture.  They like soccer, so much so that Iraq once executed its national soccer coach.  They also play buzkashi, a game where you throw around a goat carcass (maybe that’s Afghanistan).  They probably play cricket.

I’ve never heard any of their music, but I imagine sitars.  If they make movies, they’re probably anti-American.

They don’t treat women very well or at least most of the countries don’t.  There is a lot of capital punishment (very American, too) and hand chopping (not American).  When excited, they randomly fire weapons.  Lots of Americans do the same thing.

American flag burning remains popular, too.  Throwing shoes is their idea of a cutting edge insult.

ECONOMY

Oil.  Tourism for Israel and Turkey. Oh, and don’t forget American foreign aid.

SO, WHAT NOW?

That sums up all my knowledge about this fascinating and controversial region.  I have never visited the Middle East and don’t intend to do so.  You may visited there or even be a native. If so, you are likely appalled by my ignorance and outright fabrications.  Well, too bad.  I’m an American, and I don’t have an obligation to learn about every foreign country on Earth.  I know a little, and so does everyone else who read this. Just don’t throw a shoe at me.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

My Random Inner-Dialogue

I don’t get too worked about the news.  At my age (almost 51), I am supposed to huff and pontificate about the news of the world.  I just don’t.  This may be where my narcissism pays dividends.  Most of what I read just doesn’t get my attention.  There are exceptions, of course.

Larry King used to do a column where he strung together random thoughts about everything.  It was like reading someone’s inner monologue.  I think he wrote that for USA Today.  Earlier in his career, he did a similar column for The Sporting News, except it was limited to sports. The Bob and Tom radio show parodies it to great effect.   I’ve decided that I will do that occasionally.  Here goes.my brief comments on the things on my mind these days:

The Yankees would rather have a team full of Steve Howe copycats than one Alex Rodriguez...Hope Edward Snowden enjoys Russia where dissent is embraced…Speaking of which, FREE PUSSY RIOT ! (I just like saying that)…Did you know that the Royal Family’s real name is Saxe-Coburg and Gotha?  Can’t blame them for changing it to Windsor…I’m guessing that almost no one can find Benghazi on a map–I know I can’t…We gave King George III a “royal” ass-beating.  Hope Prince Georgie remembers that…Ryan Braun just looks like someone I wouldn’t like…Seems like Amanda Bynes needs therapy…If my son gets another tattoo, I’m going to carve out one of the other ones…When did the IRS start picking on people?…

On Wednesday, I saw a guy with a huge goiter–that’s just not necessary these days…Ariel Castro will find that the last 1000 years in prison really flies by…If you’ve had testicular torsion, I know your pain…Marcus Vick offered a $1000 bounty on Riley Cooper–where the Hell did he get $1000?…This Whitey Bulger seems like a bad sort…If you see only one movie this year, it probably shouldn’t star Adam Sandler…Don’t ever let someone punch you in the throat…I’ve never seen a single episode of any of the sundry CSI TV shows…Bud Selig looks like an unmade bed…There is almost no chance that I am the biological father of Megan Fox’s children…I dare you to burn your own car…You can’t put a good spin on stomping a vagrant…Lindsay Lohan has a lot of freckles…There is a woman at my gym so pretty that she makes me want to weep…

Mama June on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo looks remarkably like Fat Elvis…I have a wart on my hand that  is impervious to modern medicine…I know a guy who got shot by cop.  He said it hurt like Hell…Say what you will, but Carlos Danger is a kick-ass name…I’ve never felt like dancing…If you can run a 4.4 40 yard dash, you should play a sport…Road House is a perfect film…Typing is the only thing I retained from high school…Rabbits have razor-sharp teeth…I’ve never had a problem with gluten…Fred Gwynne was a good actor…Tina Fey is quite fetching…Politics aside, Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Bachmann are both repellant…Glenn Campbell is a hell of a guitar player…I met Chuck NorrisCaptain Kangaroo, too…I currently have a headache…I don’t sleep well, except for napping…I like Reese’s Cup Blizzards…My wife is more attractive than I am…So are my kids…My Granny had a dog named Mousie…Juggling is very difficult to master…I’ve never had a good vomiting experience…I believe everyone has thought about robbing a bank…If there were a medicine to make my hands bigger, I’d take it…Sometimes, I hear voices, but they’re friendly…I haven’t punched a wall in a long time…I would make for a really homely woman…Rob Lowe, though, would be beautiful…

Why can’t people on TV hear me?…I can influence the outcome of sporting events…My vote counts…I’d kill Wolverine in a fight…Women who don’t find me attractive are lesbians…Is Claude Akins dead?…Aquaman is an idiotic superhero…

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…Sham a lam a ding dong…Who do you think you’re talking to?…They’re always talking about me…What are you looking at?…

Boy, that didn’t turn out like I expected.  Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.  I’ll just keep this stuff to myself from now on.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013