Tag Archives: constitution

3 Videos That Explain the Government Shutdown

Yesterday, after Congress failed to pass a new budget (or a continuing resolution to give them more time to work out a budget), the federal government was shutdown. But what does that mean? It means that government services deemed “non-eseential” were closed until Congress passes a bill to allow them to re-open and some 800,000 government employees are currently not working.

VlogBrother Hank Green (the other VlogBrother is NYT Bestelling author John Green) posted a video yesterday that more clearly explains what it means when your government shuts down, what services are effected, and the deeper root of this problem:

But why is the government shutting done? 

To answer that question we turn to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D)  from Massachusetts. On Monday, September 30, Senator Warren gave a speech on the Senate floor about her disbelief of the current situation. “[The shutdown] is a last gasp of hope for those that can’t deal with the reality of this democracy,” is a quote from Warren’s speech that you have probably seen plastered all over your Facebook pages. Senator Warren drops even more knowledge about the Tea Party contingent of the House of Representatives forcing this shut down as a way to gut the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) in the full version of the speech below:

Wait, this is about Obamacare? Didn’t the Supreme Court already say it was constitutional? 

They did. The Affordable Care Act has been through all the proper steps to become a law – passed by the House and Congress, singed by the President and declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. It has checked off all the verses in that infamous School of Rock video we all had to watch in Civics class. And Obamacare is exempt from the government shutdown so it still went into effect yesterday, October 1, making the entire situation even more infuriatingly pointless.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to make a joke when explaining the reality is too baffling. Jon Stewart may have made the best metaphor possible on Monday night’s “The Daily Show” with a new segment “Rockin’ Shutdown Eve.”

In essence, politicians are playing chicken with the paychecks of almost 1 million government workers at stake. They have suspended vital services to underprivileged children and the elderly to bargain for their ideological ideals rather than by their desire to do what is best for this country, and that is unacceptable.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, supporter of the Affordable Care Act or not, we can all agree that politicians need to stop holding America hostage for their own agendas – and that goes for both sides. We the people elected Congress to represent and work for us, and they need to do better. That’s really what you need to know about the government shutdown.

What do you think of the shutdown? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

What Can Snowden Learn from the 3 NSA Whistle-Blowers Who Came Before Him?

Whistle, SuitsIf you’ve been following the recent National Security Agency leak and its aftermath, it might seem like the walls of order and secrecy are all crumbling down. It’s been a big last few years, in general, with the Wikileaks scandals, Bradley Manning’s shocking revelations, and protests springing up all over the world against authoritarian government policies. Is the world as we know it falling apart?

The caveat in Edward Snowden’s case is that this isn’t necessarily revolutionary. In fact, there are three former NSA agents  – Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe – who likewise spent years trying to expose the unconstitutional practices of the agency, to little avail. All three spent decades working for the NSA, even managing the data-collection programs they found so problematic. When they finally decided to speak out – first to superiors, then federal investigators, and finally to news outlets – they were forced out of their jobs and investigated as criminals.

The link in their stories and Snowden’s is that, in addition to speaking out against what they perceived as the unconstitutional, anti-American practices of the NSA, all of them also sacrificed their own comfort and reputations in doing so. The press and coverage gained by coming forward are no substitutes for jobs, homes, friends, and peace of mind – which suggests that these whistle-blowers really did have the American people’s best interest in mind. It’s a complex issue, though, and one that is by no means free of wrinkles.

In this candid and enlightening discussion, Drake, Binney, and Wiebe examine Snowden’s actions in comparison to their own, the places he may have misstepped, and why this general movement toward greater transparency excites them:

What do you think? Are you inspired or troubled by this growing trend of whistle-blowing?

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