Saturday, October 5, 2013

Squaring the Circle, Placating Radically Idiotic Republicans, and Other Impossibilities -OR- This Overheated October (Part 2)

**This entry was posted October 5, 2013.**

Married With Children screenshot from the 1994 episode "Assault and Batteries" that was on Thursday night.

Al, who is trapped inside a store and about to miss the once-every-17-year showing of the John Wayne film "Hondo," is retelling a whimsical story of the Old West. Here the bank president villain, played (of course) by Marcy, brings a "computer" into the saloon, and Al promptly shoots it up.

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This entry contains both a weather and Federal Government shutdown update / commentary.

For starters, though, I'm still nursing a hangover from too much drinking last night on my mostly solo bar crawl. First, I headed over to RFD ("Regional Food and Drink") in Chinatown to meet Andrea, Imara, and a few others including their friend Roy from New York who is in town for a period of time. It was an uncomfortably -- summery -- warm evening with temps at dusk still around 84F after having reached 90F at KDCA, which I believe is the first 90F reading in October since 2007 (when we had a prolonged heat wave). However, it was also no where near the daily record (see below for weather discussion).

The heart of Chinatown in downtown Washington, D.C., 7:13PM October 4, 2013. As I mentioned, it was a rather warm and humid evening for October.

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After RFD, I walked solo first to Stan's at Vermont Ave. and L Street NW (see discussion below) and then to the nearby Post Pub, where there is a new bartender who is also the son-in-law of the current owner. We had a very nice conversation and the place is quite pleasant (a rude pair of girls notwithstanding). I then went over to No. 9, where I had a couple more drinks and talked to Patrick before heading home.

I mostly slept in today.

The view from the corner of L and 13th Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 9:25PM October 4, 2013.

I was walking from RFD toward Stan's. As for Stan's, this dimly lit but usually quite busy bar / restaurant at the corner* of L St. and Vermont Avenue is a truly strange place, a sort of throwback to D.C. circa 1985 with a sort of black bourgeoisie crowd, and it is always very busy. I go there maybe three times a year.

There was a bar stool available at the corner next to a large, very black man. I knew it was "taken" -- I carefully asked him. He said with a slight African or Caribbean accent -- I couldn't tell -- that his girlfriend was sitting there and the seat wasn't available. But then he looked at me and said, well, she wasn't there yet, and then insisted I could sit there until she arrived.

I stayed about 15 minutes -- having one of their signature strong drinks -- before leaving. She didn't show up then. He ate large pile of French fries and, I think, BBQ chicken.

* Actually, it is "under" the corner of 13th and Vermont in that you have to go down a steep flight of stairs to reach it. I once took a (former) friend (Joe) there and he perfectly summed it up with his question, "How did you ever find this place??"

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Weather Update

As noted, it reached 90F at KDCA on Friday, though the daily record was 94F from 1954. It looks as though it reached 89F at KDCA today -- well short of the daily record of 96F set on Oct. 5th, 1941.

That was also a single extreme event for the month, i.e., officially the hottest temp. ever recorded in October in D.C., not repeated on any other day (see here for more info). As I've mentioned before, I'm not sure if the climate station had already been moved to National Airport (i.e., "KDCA") by that point or not (it was either in 1941 or 1943 -- I've heard both years and never gotten a conclusive answer).

KBWI reached 89F yesterday (no where near the daily record of 92F set in 1954) while KIAD reached 90F, which was a daily record (surpassing the 88F set in 2007). As for the Maryland Science Center / Inner Harbor (KDMH), it reached 91F but it doesn't have an official 30-year climate record yet.

For today, it looks as though the other regional climate station highs were as follows:

KBWI: 90F
KIAD: 90F
KDMH: 89F

For KBWI, the daily record was 97F in 1941. As with here for more info). Given that it was in 1941, it is most definitely a pre-KBWI Baltimore record when the weather records were kept in downtown Baltimore at, I believe, the U.S. Custom House.

For KIAD, the 90F tied the daily record set in 1967. The extreme high temp event for October was 94F set on October 9th, 2007. It too was a single event (see here for more info).

NWS/NCEP/WPC 48 hour surface forecast map for Lower 48 valid at 12Z (UTC) October 7, 2013 issued earlier today.

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It looks as though we will FINALLY be getting some decent rain on Monday -- although I don't want to jinx it. While the circulation of Tropical Storm Karen is basically going to fizzle out over the Florida panhandle / southwestern Georgia, some of its remnant moisture should get caught up into a strong cold front progged to cross the area by Tuesday morning. A strong upper level (500mb) low moving across the Great Lakes region should drag the front through with a good fetch of tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that taps some of Karen's moisture.

12UTC GFS model run today valid at hour 57 / 21UTC (5PM EDT)Oct. 7, 2013 showing mean sea level pressure (MSLP), 6-hour precipitation, and 850mb temps. This tends to be the default parameters / map I view though there are so many other ones to see.

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As you may -- or should -- know, the NWS forecasters are not getting paid during this radical Republican Tea Party shutdown of the Federal Government. Yet these forecasters must still work because of the critical nature of their job.

One of the forecasters in the Anchorage, Alaska NWS put together an area forecast discussion (AFD) yesterday that had a "secret" message in it: PLEASE PAY US. As carried / shown in this Capital Weather Gang entry:

Here is the "secret message" version of the AFD published at 5AM AKDT (Alaska Daylight Time) October 4, 2013. It says PLEASE PAY US.

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Here was an alternate version from a few hours later somewhat rewritten to remove the secret message. It was rewritten because they were directed to change it, lest a Republican get upset). I hope this person doesn't get in trouble for doing this, but you know how hyper-sensitivity the Federal Government is to everything, esp. at the prospect of upsetting the craziest town hall participant out there.

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Federal Government Shutdown Update with Political Commentary ...

New York Daily News headline on October 1, 2013 at start of Federal Government shutdown.

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So let's talk about the current shutdown and where things stand.

For starters, on a personal note, the agency to which I am a contractor has approximately two weeks left that it can go before it must cease all non-essential operations. (I am quite lucky in this respect that I've had all this extra time). In addition, my company would probably hold onto most of us for a week or two -- bringing us in November -- before furloughs began.


At this point, my sense is that the issue is going to be resolved in a big, messy, everybody-hates-the-outcome way in late October or, more likely, early November. That's just my hunch. The wild card is the debt ceiling deadline of October 17th, and whether or not the House GOP leadership simply brings up a "clean" vote to extend it even briefly, or if all sides actually go over this really scary cliff. I'm pretty sure at this point that Obama is not going to back down, nor is he going to invoke emergency powers -- so it is literally up to John Boehner.

I posted this image nearly 2-1/2 years ago in this entry. It is hard to read at this scale and clicking on it doesn't really make it larger. The only solution is to download it and open it in Paint or some such program. The content under each heading is pretty funny -- and spot on.

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The New York Times published this piece today: Boehner Urges G.O.P. Unity in 'Epic Battle'.

(The term "epic battle" was used by Speaker Boehner himself in meeting with his conference.)

As noted by Paul Krugman in this blog entry, here are two key paragraphs that get to the heart of the internal Republican civil war that is pitting the leadership -- hard right but still reality based and willing to compromise -- against the apocalyptic Tea Party sorts who, ginned up on years of rightwing talk radio and Fox News and living in that alternate information / entertainment bubble, see this as a Manichean battle of good versus evil:

"The overarching problem for the man at the center of the budget fight, say allies and opponents, is that he and his leadership team have no real idea how to resolve the fiscal showdown.

"They are only trying to survive another day, Republican strategists say, hoping to maintain unity as long as possible so that when the Republican position collapses, they can capitulate on two issues at once -- financing the government and raising the debt ceiling -- and head off any internal party backlash. Republican lawmakers say Mr. Boehner has assured them privately that he will not permit a default."

I alluded to this nature of the battle in a recent blog entry.

Krugman notes that this sentence violates the mainstream corporate media strictures of always blaming "both sides" in "equal measure." As I like put it, it upends Washington Consensus Central courtier Fred Hiatt's Zen-like "bipartisan" approach to everything.


Krugman also notes in this subsequent entry that whether or not this GOP shutdown hurts the Republican "brand" in the next election -- and I would like to note there that Gallup is furiously trying to prove that it won't based on number crunching that purportedly shows Romney will win the presidency it did not in 1996 -- this GOP civil war and massive incompetence will over the coming years ensure that the standard Washington Establishment notion that Republicans always have the upper hand in governing in terms of general competence, authority, and seriousness.


For more on the Republican Party civil war, here is a very good overview by Ezra Klein of The WaHoPo's online Wonkblog.

By the way, there is growing unease around the world at this ugly spectacle of how the self-styled Greatest Hope of Humanity, America the Exceptional, is simply unable to govern itself.

Saw it on Bartcop. Ha ha

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An actual U.S. Government debt breach / default could potentially be cataclysmic -- and will also forever deeply cloud America's standing in the world. The notion of U.S. Treasury securities as the safest human financial asset on Planet Earth will be nixed.

There was one major development today (Saturday): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is recalling "most" of the 400,000 furloughed civilian workers back to the Pentagon based on a liberal interpretation of the Pay Our Military Act that Congress passed and President Obama signed. The story in The WaHoPo is here.


Another weird aspect of this shutdown is how the most radical and insane of GOP Teabagger Members of Congress are trying to force open little bits of the government through mini-CRs -- and for the most unlikely of agencies and programs including EPA, NIH, SNAP, and even Head Start -- even while PRAISING those who run the agencies and programs and what they do.

We are in very weird territory.

And keep in mind it is separate from the symbolic moves to reopen the national park system -- and the GOP spectacle down at the National World War II Memorial. But the Obama White House and Democrats in the House and Senate have categorically rejected this approach.


By the way, VP Biden called that NPS Ranger who was berated by the geriatric Teabagger Congressman Randy Neugebauer from Texas in what has to be the height of political hypocrisy and bullying this year.* Biden told her he was proud of her.

*Yes, we know WaHoPo Editorial Boards: You see the "subtle nuance" in his position, how "both sides" need to "come together," for "entitlement reform," "free trade," and to get all those WMDs in Iraq.


I personally hope they pass one for the District of Columbia government's operations. The city government has remained open due to Mayor Gray's efforts at moving money around but it can't last forever ... And as a resident of the District of Columbia, not having the trash picked up in 90F heat in a city infested with squirrel-sized rats is not something I want to deal with.


One last item on the ongoing shutdown: I highly recommend the Daily Intelligencer blog entries by Jonathan Chait (as well as the longer pieces he writes). It is must reading. The current most recent one -- "Let Me Explain How Extortion Works, Republicans" -- is well worth your time to read.

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OK, that's all for now. I intend to post a Jukebox Saturday Night entry. As for tonight, I think I'm going to dinner with Wendy and Gary, but we never really "circled back" on that one, so I may go solo to Old Ebbitt Grill -- but not until nearly 11PM as I want to watch my "Sci-Fi Saturday Night" lineup on ME TV.

The Post Pub, Washington, D.C., 10:38PM October 4, 2013.

The area around the Post Pub (so named for the nearby Washington Post building) has changed so much -- gone are all the prostitutes and scary denizens of the night. You have to go farther east for that now.

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As for tomorrow, I intend to take a bike ride. I am thinking of taking the bike up to Rockville and biking over to the C&O Canal via Potomac and then back into the city to stop in Georgetown at Chadwick's. At least that's my plan right now.

--Regulus

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