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The Government Shutdown Brouhaha

Bluffing for Nothing, or Digging In For the Final Showdown?

Interesting that people take this government shutdown business seriously.

Consider what it would actually mean for the congress to withhold funding from the executive.

If it were anything more than a bluff or political theater (directed at gullible base-voters), it would entail that those congressmen engaged in the theater were in fact willing to withhold funds from the operation of the entire government, including the military, the executive law enforcement, homeland security, the state department and diplomatic corps, the judicial, the maintenance of nuclear stockpiles, trade organizations, the national payments and clearing system, the money supply, the Fed, and the entire welfare state. Including whatever portion of congress' own salary or operating budgets come from the federal government.

Since playing this 'hand' all the way would immediately mean a show of cards, i.e., the reality of presidential and executive authority over congress in such an actual conflict, the hand will never be showed, and the bluff will remain a bluff.

People don't call and show with 7, 2 unsuited, unless they're fools.

For that portion of congress that is bluffing to actually follow through and show its hand, would imply it expected the preponderance of power (military, law enforcement, states, national guards, judges, mass media, banking, Fed, etc.) to be on its side, and would actually be prepared for physical danger and civil war.

The preponderance of power is clearly on the executive side and the side that would fold first is the congress. If it did not fold, I think the executive would call and win the hand. It is unlikely that the executive is bluffing, since it has the preponderance of power and the megaphone from which to speak to and rally the public. The power of the compliant media, the Fed's control of the whole money stock and operation of the financial system, and the mass dependence on federal entitlements.

In the end, if it comes to a show of hands, the majority of those promoting a shutdown will fall in some kind of line behind leadership and always vote to fund.

The few outliers who will follow through and vote not to fund -- probably a growing but still pretty small minority -- are doing one of two things.

(1) They are simply taking advantage of the full knowledge that the government won't indeed shut down, and playing their principled stand as a means of establishing their partisan bona fides and cementing their popularity with the base. Political histrionics.

(2) They are making themselves into a bloc that they expect to grow in the long run into a plurality, or majority, that can command the preponderance of other institutions to line up behind the insurgent side, and force the executive to fold its bluff at some point in a distant future. But full well realizing that showdown isn't happening now.

Both groups have their uses, as group 1 can be expected to fall behind group 2 if group 2 ever realized its objective.

As much as I like the number Three, blessed be its name, its unlikely there's any third possibility at present.

The third possibility would be someone expecting an actual showdown today -- calling with 7-2 offsuit -- and being summarily crushed by the executive, which would then have established formal as well as de facto legal power to roll over any protest of the legislative branches.

To actually desire to show down with a crap hand would only be the act of someone too mentally imbalanced and self destructive to have made it into the great liar's hall that is Congress.


The government shutdown bluff, although known to be a bluff by the other side, still works to obtain some small concessions, as the other side is also not eager for the showdown to occur, as business as usual is more preferable for both sides, with the appearance and theatre of real political conflict and drama being beneficial to all the players in the player's ball, which after all is a Show more than a Game.

In sum, the small cadre of real radicals who are digging in and holding to the no vote, as much in preparation for a real future showdown as for present political benefits, those are few and far between. Whether our Rand is among them or JAmash is hard to tell. A little faith, and a line in the sand, will both be necessary for such as these.

Cruz... seems like a less embarrassing Rick Perry, ambitious member of group 1 who could be useful as long as not vested with real confidence. But immediately after saying this I feel I should be charitable and hold my tongue. But I say it nevertheless.

In truth, it is unknown if any of "them," our current crop, would ever contemplate a real ultimate showdown no matter what the conditions are of the future, because it is unlikely that there are any true radicals in public office that would prefer the showdown to compromise.

But do we really want a showdown? The federal government as its presently constituted, and the interests it represents, would seem to demand it eventually. But it might not always be so, therefore it may be the non-radicals who ultimately transition us to a positive outcome without an ultimate showdown, as unlikely as it now seems.

I don't know whether they're right or wrong, because I'm not that much of an ideologue and radical anymore to want to volunteer the bloodshed of others or general chaos to win.

If I write anymore it will be tl;dr. Paece.

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hindsight bump

hindsight bump

Maybe there is another outcome

The people who are watching this, including the international community become sick and tired of the small group they have entrusted to control the "worlds reserve currency" and turn the lights off in the casino. The flop becomes the crash as the stock market sells off, people close checking/savings accounts, gold and silver skyrockets, China dumps a boatload of treasuries, and OPEC switches to either gold or another more stable currency.

Because what they are threatening is not just some silly healthcare bill, its the full faith and credit of the USA and that should never ever be questioned, especially publicly.

Maybe V. Putin has a

Maybe V. Putin has a solution.

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be. Albert Einstein

Rasputin predicted the coming

Rasputin predicted the coming of the great non-ras Putin, riding shirtless on a stallion, to offer solutions to the vexing problems of our times.

Thank God for fruiternufflers like you.

You really skamp my skrunk.


Tweeting occasionally as himself @cudnoski on the twitter.

Dr. Seuss?? He is risen!

Dr. Seuss?? He is risen!


I'm hoping it shuts down for good. I'm wondering how many years it'll be till we all finally move on from government.

Damn Government!

First they make it almost impossible for me to smoke anywhere.
Then they shutdown my favorite bar!

 photo brouhaha_zps01882474.jpg


Brou.. like brew,haha!

Brou.. like brew,haha!

Michael Nystrom's picture


But there's one thing you left out.

And whatever that is, that is what is going to happen.

The possibility for something completely unexpected remains:

How about this? Under a stalemate, Texas secedes from the union in protest, so much doth the whole state protest Obamacare (all except Austin, I'm sure).

Maybe there is a move to arms. Maybe the Tea Party got in touch with the Oath Keepers in advance? Maybe there's a Valkyre plan already in motion, and it plays out in high dramatic fashion.

Weird shit like this happens from time to time in history.

Maybe the government shuts down, and the American people actually rally! Rally for the defeat of Obamacare: "We don't care when you open up again, just open up without ObamaCare!"

Maybe some democrats can't take the pressure, and they cave over to the GOP? They renounce Obamacare to save their own hides, because they know what's coming!

Or maybe this is a play fight, that suddenly turns real, and then vicious, and all the logic you so carefully drew out for us gets chucked out the window, because suddenly its two animals drunk with rage going at each other.

The future being what it is, remains unknown and unwritten.

That being said, I enjoyed your piece immensely.

Personally, I think the Republicans have something better than a 2 - 7 offsuit. That is complete junk. But these guys do have something, and that is a certain big chunk of the population.

They've got something more like a 10-10. Pair of tens. Solid. Not bad. Not the greatest. You might win. But you'll need some help, and some luck.

And I've lost with pocket aces on more than one occasion, trying to be greedy.

This is the beauty - the unpredictability of it all. That's what's got me roped in.

Monday, 10:00 am, we'll see the flop.

No doubt Cruz will be working the Sunday morning shows tomorrow.

I'll give him this much: Politics, like sports, is both competitive, and entertaining. He is definitely giving us a good show.

He's unstable. A loose canon. How far is he going to blow? That's how the media is going to paint him.

Under a stalemate, Texas

Under a stalemate, Texas could secede. That would be wonderful thing to see. But that would presuppose the possibility of a stalemate. A stalemate would be a situation where the House holds strong and the executive is forced to operative on extralegal funding via a overdraft from the Fed under some emergency powers clause already neatly deemed legal by the courts and even congress' own patriotic act.

I think that congress knows this and is bluffing, and if they showed their cards the outcome would allow them to pretend even less actual relevance while taking much more risk and more responsibility. Their behavior has tended towards abandoning responsibility and accountability and ceding it towards the executive.

But this is the whole rub. At some point one or the other side has to back down, otherwise the consequence is a resolution of the difference outside of the law. Any such resolution goes to the executive/Senate/judicial/military combine in my opinion, therefore the side more likely to be bluffing and fold first is the congress. It has some popular support but no real institutional allies.

I don't expect a violent outcome, but a compromise that leaves a lot of people unhappy, or a drawn out delay that is papered over with temporary measures to continue funding pretty much all the government. The sharper the tension grows the more a frenzy the media will whip the public into against the Republicans.

Now, more people than ever are hardened and ready to stand with the hardline Republicans, which is a good thing. It may not be a majority but its a bigger minority than ever before. It is all tending in the direction of a showdown, but to have a showdown now with a much worse hand is unlikely. But the psychological preparation for such a thing might be burnt into public consciousness depending on how ugly this gets.

But the fact remains I think that the House can't really showdown with the hand it has and doesn't intend to, even aside from its ability to do so with any measure of success.

Two other points. I agree all the things you mentioned are possibilities, and I have followed this all I think less closely than you, and am more detached both on the facts and the sentiments of those more directly "in the fight." I'm not sure how far some are willing to go, maybe I've missed some sea change.

Second, when I say the House Republicans who will hold out have a crap hand, I mean at the point of showdown where it becomes a real political conflict, in the sense of extralegal, willingness to use force to decide the what the law will be, regardless of the letter of the law. At that moment, the hand that might look good as a bluff will become crap, unless of course you really think the feds would back down or the "country party" would win or persevere in a real physical conflict.

Not only would the power institutions line up with the Democrats, but unless something has changed, deeply, the establishment Left of centralized executive power is much more willing to use violence and propaganda to impose its seemingly stronger will, than the conservative opposition, that is always dragged along kicking and screaming and quilted into giving up literally everything. And always accommodates, makes its peace, and defends an ever leftward moving boundary and shrinking perimeter.

I wish it were otherwise, but I don't think it is yet. I think this is the realistic assessment, while keeping in mind the possibility I am just out of touch and missing a fundamental change.

Michael Nystrom's picture


Yes, I think ultimately we're talking about different things when we're talking about the hands. In the ultimate showdown, 2-7 is a crap hand, and they're not going to take it that far.

So we can safely assume that they're bluffing, but for what reason? You don't just bluff for the fun of it.

So they're bluffing to see the flop, and if a pair of twos show up on the flop, then you got a little something to work with!

-- - -

Personally, I think Cruz has gone rogue, and he's behaving like Cap't Kirk in the latest (terrible) Start Trek movie. "Let's just try some shit, and hope it works out for the best!" No plan, no strategy.

That's what makes the endgame so fascinating. This is as much fun as watching the Pats - Falcons game tonight is going to be (I hope). You really never know what the endgame is going to be.

- -

But as you mentioned - the stalemate will not go on forever. They'll do a little song and dance, take a bow, and get back to work. They'll have to come to some kind of compromise. One side, or both sides, will be forced to back down.

What do you think that is going to look like?

Cruz backs down, takes one for the team, but meanwhile builds a huge amount of goodwill among the hardcore fan base of the GOP. Someone put a thread up here about that. I can't find it, but it linked to this article:


Good article. I don't know

Good article. I don't know the outcome. What are we demanding? I'll admit I haven't read deeply into what the healthcare law will even do. Is there a good breakdown anywhere that's trustworthy?

So much of it is prediction on how economic actors will respond to problems that arise, how the thing will be adjusted in response. I imagine it creating a large bureaucratic constituency to manage it, I imagine it puts money in insurance company pockets, crowds Doctors offices, raises prices, and causes layoffs for those businesses around the threshold employee level. They will use accounting tricks used to hire through sub firms, and multiply the number of existing firms to dodge that count...

A whole new bunch of tax avoidance, filing and court-determined case law for the next decade before the monster takes firm shape.

So I don't really know what we're demanding, and of course neither does the public. The danger there is that when we finally do accept the compromise, it might just be a few minor concessions that allow Republicans to save face, and don't fundamentally impact the structure of the new law. But I just have to plead ignorance. They're fighting over a bunch of BS to save face and save prez legacy for passing something, whatever it was.

But sure it is fun to watch.


As the Republicans ease into being a party that can't win national elections, for demographic reasons, because of the dying demographic of religious and traditional voters as a broad constituency, and the economic shifts happening as we move away from a dominant middle class, where is the party headed?

Lacking national election prospects, they will harden into a minority party, which will remove incentives to moderate toward a political center for maintaining a distinct half of the electorate and having continuing prospects for presidency. When that incentive is absent it makes the party much more real, more ideological, more true to its hardcore constituency, and so on.

But this all has value only toward the eventual showdown, and that can't happen without horizontal infiltration or capture of power institutions that would enable a minority party or political faction to win a showdown that leads to real extralegal conflict, or forces the other side to backdown, and then codify those new realities into formal law.

It also runs the risk of creating sub-politics, or inside politics, where the whole purpose of GOP party activity is to win primaries, win stronghold districts and win Senate seats that are still locked in, and milk those remaining positions as sinecures. As their power wanes, they might just become showpiece and titular fake opposition, maintained and funded by the central state apparatus, which is heading toward one Partydom.

Shills will do good work there. What's worse than McCain and Graham, who want real power and so hug the middle, wh0re to lobbies? Shills who play the opposition part with no expectation of ever winning, just to milk their constituents.


What will happen to the Democrats is also extremely interesting once they attain dominant party status.

Once they do not need to win a tight election every 4 years or fight tooth and nail to win the House, interesting dynamics occur there as well. For one thing, they can in-fight more, and more often, when they have a comfortable margin. Groups can split off and still allow Democratic predominance.

Also, more ideological movement and independence, flexibility, can emerge in the predominant party. The other power institutions like media and corporate lobbies lose influence in a world where the two party game is less tightly strung, where media influence or corporate money can no longer turn the election on a dime.

This gives the dominant party imperial or executive leeway to act independently of peripheral institutions, including congress as a whole, or the Fed, or the corporatocracy, etc.

Strengthens the government and the executive.

Because it will be harder for these power institutions to raise a 2nd party (GOP) from the dead if it is only a 40% or 35% party for a few decades, as demographics is leading ineluctably towards, as well as other factors like changing age-breakdown of population post boomers, and changing economic realities, wage arbitrage and globalization extinguishing the middle class, creating a more developing world style divided population.

The Dems will fracture as well as act with less deference to the private sector elite.

The old civil society of other estates like churches, unions, etc is gone, maybe being replaced by the new internet intelligentsia of an un aligned, independently thinking, and independently evaluating class of voters, writers etc.

So that's a third group besides the Gov and the private elites, which is emerging to take the place of the extinguished old civil society.

What does the republican party become in that world? God only knows.

Maybe a real American empire is in the cards, with one party executive sort of Caesarism or commintern Sovietism... not the empire we rail against, merely overseas, but actual imperial government when the exhausted domestic power bases that once balanced our body politic weaken before these trends.

Congress is becoming less and less relevant, and the procedures, documents, laws and technicalities we go by are going to become awfully unwieldy in the chaotic future I would anticipate, where there is no cultural, ethnic, religious or other stability, no ideological consensus, diminishing middle class, and when economic factors lead toward greater and greater dependency on diminishing resources.

Inflation, brain drain, capital flight, denser and denser population lacking genuine social capital and cultural bonds for enduring hardship and working together.

This amoral future stew of division will require a hard boiled executive administrative apparatus to make things happen, and this will open the Pandora's box to both terrible mismanagement and horrible ad hoc policy, ignoring market signals, private interests, and local desires...

Also sweeping away lots of inefficiency and absurdity inherent in this ridiculous Democratic, bureaucratic rule-by Gameshow elections, self serving criminals, and the no-one-in-charge or accountable for anything once in power-structure, besides lining pockets and serving short term interests of dirt bag lawyers, lobbyists and other private sector shysters and gaming the system.

That I think is the real future.

How'd Pats do?

Nice job Bill3


My sentiments could not have been articulated as well as yours....cheers

For Freedom!
The World is my country, all mankind is my brethren, to do good is my religion.

Thanks dex!

Thanks dex!