Monday, October 14, 2013

The D.C. Area Weekend Rain World and Crazy Republican Chronicles

Rainy, gloomy evening outside my Hampton Courts apartment building in the 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 6:33PM Oct. 11, 2013.


This is a rewrite of an entry I actually started on Friday but was unable to complete until Monday afternoon. It contains the final four-day precipitation (rainfall) totals from the coastal storm and some political analysis and commentary.

A distant, blurry view of the U.S. Capitol dome as seen along the National Mall on a rainy evening (already quite dark), Washington, D.C., 7:18PM Oct. 10, 2013. I was walking home from work this evening -- a little over a 2-mile trek from L'Enfant Plaza to near U and 16th NW.


The pictures were taken between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon including outside on a rainy Thursday night as I walked home from work; a showery Friday evening as I walked home from the Metro; a Saturday night deluge while heading to Larry's Lounge and later at Nellie's and on my bike trek to Silver Spring on Sunday to visit Quill and her parents' house and go to lunch. (Her parents were away and she was house-sitting.) The pictures therefore are not entirely related to the content of the entry, especially the political commentary part.

The scaffolding covered, scrim-fringed, nighttime illuminated Washington Monument as seen along the National Mall on the same rainy early night as in the picture above (looking the other direction), Washington, D.C., 7:18PM Oct. 10, 2013.


It's Monday afternoon on this Columbus Day Federal holiday, which I have off from work -- yes, it's a "normal" Federal holiday for me despite the radical Republicans' Federal Government shutdown (more on that below) as I am still able to work normally at my job, at least for the time being. That may end soon if the shutdown persists into November (again, more on the shutdown and impending debt ceiling limit breach below). I'm not sure what to do later today, though I'll probably just go to the gym. On Tuesday evening, want to go to the happy hour at Dupont Italian Kitchen bar because a certain bartender formerly at Cobalt is working there.

The intersection of 14th and New York Avenue, Washington, D.C., 8:10PM Oct. 10, 2013. I was walking home slowly and had spoken for about 16 minutes on the phone with my mom. Normally, the walk home takes about 45 minutes.


For starters, let me give the precipitation (rainfall) totals from the coastal storm that impacted the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions between Friday and Sunday. The storm lolled slowly northward to the Virginia capes, slowly dissipating even while drifting back south (because of a blocking high over New England and no other mechanism to push it out to sea). The storm -- the indirect remnants of Tropical Storm Karen -- tapped a substantial amount of Atlantic tropical moisture and sent at least one meso-low rotating across the area on Saturday night.

14th and I Streets NW (nearing Franklin Square), Washington, D.C., 8:13PM Oct. 2013.


Rainfall totals were primarily in the 4 to 8 inch range area-wide with some variability. There was more in central Pennsylvania (nearly 10") and less down toward Charlottesville. Below are the four day storm-totals from Oct. 9th through Oct. 13th and the totals and departures from averages for the month-through-date (MTD), climatological fall season (i.e., Sept. 1st) through today (9/1), and year-to-date (YTD) through the 13th for the regional NWS climate stations ...

4-day total: 4.99"
MTD: 6.12" +4.69" (1.43")
9/1: 7.34" +5.15" (2.19")
YTD: 35.66" +4.11" (31.55")

4-day total: 6.59"
MTD: 7.43" +5.98" (1.45")
9/1: 9.08" +5.48" (3.60")
YTD: 34.65" +1.32" (33.33")

4-day total*: 6.26"
MTD: 7.39" +6.02" (1.37")
9/1: 9.00" +5.29" (3.71")
YTD: 36.85" +3.56" (33.29")

*Note: My spreadsheet total of the six-hour obs is 6.25".

4-day total: 3.74"
MTD: 4.47" +3.06" (1.41")
9/1: 6.14" +0.64" (5.50")
YTD: 34.12" +1.25" (32.87")

**Note: KDMH does not have a full thirty-year climate base period as of yet. Departures are from a truncated averaged (unsure of the length but it's not yet 30 years).

Other 4-day totals ...
KMDT: 9.75"
KCHO: 2.01"


Walking along the sidewalk between Franklin Square and 14th Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 8:14PM Oct. 10, 2013.


On Friday, I wrote about the then-current status of the still-ongoing / unresolved political crisis in Washington with the Federal Government shutdown and impending debt limit / possible debt limit breach / default, specifically, to note that things had started to move quickly both in terms of a collapse in public support for the Republican Party and the negotiations, esp. in the Senate.

The corner of 14th and L Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 8:17PM Oct. 10, 2013 near the Jimmy John's ("JJ").


However, things have not resolved since that time, although the Senate is reportedly approaching a deal. The main problem continues to be the blow-up everything radicalism of the House GOP caucus -- and we even have the zombie-like return of Paul Ryan's "compromise" budget that is anything but a compromise. The worst part is how his idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare predictably has gotten The WaHoPo Editorial Board all tingly all over.

The rainy night view of Vermont Avenue from Thomas Circle, Washington, D.C., 8:20PM Oct. 10, 2013. This is the view to the southwest "down" Vermont Avenue toward the White House (not visible in this image).


These "entitlement reforms" -- i.e., turning Social Security over to fee-skimming Wall Street crooks and block-granting Medicare -- are the obsessive dreams of Fred Hiatt, Ruth "Mother" Marcus, and Jackson Diehl, among the others, are the embodiment of the tools of The Washington Consensus. It is always made on the assertion that the two programs are immediately going bankrupt -- in fact, Social Security is fine for many years and can be made solvent indefinitely while Medicare's financial outlook will improve if the Affordable Care Act (i.e., "Obamacare" -- or as the rightwingers say it, "ObamaCare") continues (as it appears to be doing) to bend the medical inflation cost curve downward.

The part that annoys me the most is both this kind of "professional centrist" drivel of Hiatt, his WaHoPo editorial board, and the Beltway courtier class that is based on a cult-of-false objectivity only serves to hurt the American working class and does nothing to address the radicalism of the neo-Confederate right. If anything, it helps foster it by offering "solutions" that only exacerbate our fraying social bonds.

Anyway, what I had written on Friday was that opinion polls -- including a "brutal" NBC / Wall Street Journal one and a Gallup -- showed a collapse in Republican Party public support to record low favorability ratings.

It's not that Obama and the Dems are super-popular but rather that the Republican "brand" has been badly damaged in the past few weeks. Not only that but support for Obamacare -- the issue over which the neo-Confederate Tea Party faction in Congress attempted what amounted to a coup attempt in order to nullify the law -- has risen 8 points in the past month.

The 1300 block of U Street NW, Washington, D.C., on a showery Friday evening, 6:21PM Oct. 11, 2013.


In theory, Obama and the Dems have the upper hand, and it appeared that the House Republicans had agreed to a six-week extension of the debt ceiling -- due to be hit on or about Oct. 17th with a partial Treasury Dept. default thereafter, but Senate meetings failed to produce any results and continued through the weekend. There was a not-quite-totally-horrible compromise plan by Sen. Sue Collins whose fate has been uncertain (yes, it's dead, not it's not). Meanwhile, as noted, on the House radical right side, Rep. Paul Ryan's un-dead zombie budget plan was resurrected.

The intersection of 17th and T Streets NW during a deluge, Washington, D.C., 10:52PM Oct. 11, 2013.

It was a frickin' Indian Monsoon at this point. I was walking to Larry's Lounge to meet that fellow Roy and his girlfriend. We ended up going to 1905 and then to Nellie's.


At this point, the media narrative has switched (or rather, is desperately trying to for purposes of the "both sides are equally to blame" narrative of false-objectivity) to one in which Senate Dems are pressing their advantage too far, and thus are now the ones engaging in demands for "ransom."

The rooftop deck at Nellie's on a rainy night, Washington, D.C., 1:45AM Oct. 12, 2013. In case I haven't mentioned, gay men don't do well in the rain or really in any kind of "weather" that isn't warm and dry.


Regardless of these hourly machinations, the Federal Government remains partially closed, its adverse impact is spreading, and we are just three days from the notional deadline of the Treasury Dept. hitting the debt ceiling with a possible, unprecedented and devastating partial / rolling U.S. Government default, unless Obama opts to ignore / break that law -- which would allow the "insurrectionist neo-Confederates" in the House GOP to impeach him and produce a constitutional crisis.

This is a very old garbage can in the garage at Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring, Md., 3:15PM Oct. 13, 2013. There was actually what looked like a date on the garbage can of the year it was made: 1947. This is a borderline antique garbage can, and kind of looks like the one in which Oscar the Grouch lived.


As for the Federal Gov't closure (though not yet complete -- witness my own situation described below) it is starting to hurt across the board and in all kinds of ways including unexpected places such as Utah where there is such a heavy reliance on the Federal Government (the state's bright red Republican leanings notwithstanding). This explains the 10 point drop to 40 percent among Utahns in the favorability rating of its idiot junior Senator Mike Lee, the clueless "I want to be a pirate!" sidekick to Sen. Ted Cruz.

A house with that an actual gazing ball in the shrubbery, Rogart Rd., Silver Spring, Md., 3:18PM Oct. 13, 2013.


Concerning Sen. Lee, Lawrence O'Donnell's "Rewrite" segment last week on his show "The Last Word" entitled "The sad story of Cruz's sidekick, Mike Lee" (see video link here) on this very topic was epic (even if O'Donnell incorrectly placed Yellowstone National Park in Utah).

The interior of the 4 Corners Pub, Silver Spring, Md., 4:37PM Oct. 13, 2013. The pub is quite pleasant, it's food good, but there were too many TVs on -- all tuned to the same football game.


Finally, bout the Tea Party and what it stands for, I highly, highly recommend this Michael Lind piece "Tea Party radicalism is misunderstood: Meet the 'Newest Right'".

It's quite detailed, but in brief, Lind argues that the Tea Party is primarily the Southern neo-Confederates in the tradition of the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian sort. This electorate is centered on the "local notable" wealthy whites of their community -- i.e., the local Southern bourgeoisie rather than big money Wall Street interests (which would NEVER favor a U.S. Government default).

Another view of the interior of the 4 Corner's Pub, Silver Spring, Md., 4:38PM Oct. 13, 2013.


Lind begins by stating three general misconceptions about the are Tea Party base including: (1) that they are simply "extremists" along a traditional left-right spectrum; (2) that they are populists (instead of being in the tradition of the Southern white aristocracy); and (3) that they are irrational and ignorant. Rather, they are the "provincial elites whose power and privileges are threatened from above by a stronger central government they do not control and from below by the local poor and the local working class."

An old basement utility sink in Quill's parents' house, Silver Spring, Md., 4:52PM Oct. 13, 2013. It is the kind of sink that a washing machine drains into with a hose covered by a lint trap.


Lind writes:

"The political strategy of the Newest Right, then, is simply a new strategy for the very old, chiefly-Southern Jefferson-Jackson right. It is a perfectly rational strategy, given its goal: maximizing the political power and wealth of white local notables who find themselves living in states, and eventually a nation, with present or potential nonwhite majorities.

Although racial segregation can no longer be employed, the tool kit of the older Southern white right is pretty much the same as that of the Newest Right ..."

Yours truly listening to the lullaby of the washing machine in Quill's parents' basement, Silver Spring, Md., 5:01PM Oct. 13, 2013. The whole house -- even the basement -- is just soothing and tranquilizing and very pleasant in a good suburban way.


These tools and techniques include the following: (1) The Solid South of partisan and racial gerrymandering; (2) abuse of the filibuster to halt laws (and now government shutdowns and threats of default); (3) disenfranchisement of non-whites (esp. poor blacks and Latinos); and (4) localization and privatization of Federal programs (thereby making them less generous and helping to attract corporations that pay low wages).

Lind's piece was quoted in another Salon piece by Josh Eidelson that builds on the same point.

The utility sink filling up with water draining from the washing machine.


The Tea Party wealthy whites in these places are the local bourgeoisie that (correctly) sees its power as being threatened -- and hence the kind of resistance tactics it is employing. Viewed in this broader perspective, the attempt to nullify Obamacare is almost like a re-fighting of the Civil War to preserve the South's particular way of life. If it means "bankrupting" the United States Government's ability to do the things it fears -- including Obamacare -- so be it. The bigger issue, then, is the unwillingness and/or inability of "moderate" / non-Tea Party type Republicans (whatever they are) to do anything about this situation.

Brunett Avenue, Silver Spring, Md., 6:26Pm Oct. 13, 2013

I had just started biking back home. This is just south of the Capital Beltway overpass (one of the few side street "access" points between "inside" and "outside" this super highway that rings D.C. and its inner suburbs.


Anyway, at this point, the attempted nullification / coup is failing but it will take a while to get back to anything to a normal situation. But I'm not ready to declare, as John B. Judis suggests in this New Republic piece, that the Republican Party could very well be in its "death throes."

Movie theatre in downtown Silver Spring along Ellsworth Drive, 6:38PM Oct. 13, 2013.


As a few concluding thoughts ...

I have thought -- and been telling coworkers -- this week that this issue won't be resolved until between mid-November and early December. But at this point, I just don't know.

As it is, I've taken as many preparatory actions as I could including taking out the 401k loan, which along with pay through October 21st or so, would help me pay my Nov. and Dec. rent and give me money until at least mid-December. However, I got some good news at work today in that it looks like we may be able to operate longer on our main contract that first feared (at least through the end of the month).

I am quite lucky in this respect.

Rainy, gray day view from the agency cafeteria looking toward the USDA HQ building with the Washington Monument just poking above it, 1:09PM Oct. 11, 2013.


OK, that's all for now. I probably won't update the blog until Wednesday night (i.e., just after midnight Thursday).


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