Archive for government shutdown

Lauren Mayer: 'Brave Sir Cruz'



Lauren Mayer is a singer/songwriter/pianist who writes comedy songs about everything from Supreme Court decisions to the Kardashians. She proudly supports leftist causes including equal pay, reproductive choice, fair minimum wage, addressing climate change, and marriage equality.
Note: Check out Lauren's CDs, including her latest, "If My Uterus Were A Gun (And Other Musical Rants From The News)" - available at "" as well as on iTunes and Amazon. Her website is She's on Twitter at @laurenscomedy
Lauren's podcasts are on IndieMediaWeekly.

From YouTube

Cruz compares his denial of climate change to Galileo - and no, he wasn't joking!

Cruz is a legend in his own mind.

From Lauren's email to me this morning:

Ted Cruz not only announced his candidacy, he compared his climate change denial with Galileo's scientific brilliance (with a straight face, too) - how could I resist?


2013 Was A Kick Ass Year -- According To The Song


Troye Sivan

YouTube pop star Troye Sivan put out a song about 2012 last year and it went viral. So, when you've hit gold once, you go for it again. His tribute to the social phenomena, the political events and the year's pop culture in 2013 are amusing, poignant and very addictive. It may not be "Dumb Ways To Die" in its 'can't get it out of your head' quotient, but it sure is light, breezy and fun. So here it is for you. Look back at 2013 and it's cultural imprint (including, twerking, Nelson Mandella, Robin Thicke, the royal baby, One Direction, the LGBT world, the government shutdown and the Harlem Shake.)

Enjoy: (warning, adult language)


In Congress It May No Longer Pay To Die


Mr & Mrs Frank Lautenberg

Most family's rely on the earnings of "the head(s) of household" to see them through. From their earnings, they must put a shelter over their family's heads, feed and cloth them, also provide for all other exigencies of living. If something catastrophic happens and the key wage earner(s) in the family die, hopefully there's some insurance to provide for the survivor's future.

That's why there's life insurance. Not everyone takes advantage of it because it can get costly and there's so many other things that seem to be more pressing. After all, not too many of us think we're going to die until the moment it's upon us. Death is generally something that happens to other people, not us.

When I read about the bill passed that refunded the government after it's shutdown recently, I was surprised by one of the add-ons. No, not the funding of some dam project in Mitch McConnell's state of Kentucky. It was the funding of money for the widow of Senator Frank Lautenberg. He had died shortly before the shutdown and his poor dear widow was assuredly counting on his death benefits package to get her through.

I was struck by this $174,000 to Bonnie Englebart Lautenberg, wondering what all that was about? I mean it had to be important if it was a crucial attachment to the bill to reopen our government. And now I know. It's known as a death gratuity.


Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) introduced a resolution in the House this week, proposing a ban on death gratuities for spouses of deceased lawmakers.

When a member of Congress dies in office, an item is inserted into the next appropriations bill, granting the equivalent of one year's pay to the survivors of the lawmaker.

On Saturday, Cooper told The Hill that members of Congress should not receive such "special treatment," but should secure their families' futures through life insurance, "like regular citizens."

At first when I read about Cooper's resolution, I thought it was cold. Someone has to die to get this money and I'm sure the family could use any help they can get at this time of need. But when he laid it out that this was special treatment, I got to thinking. I pay annually for life insurance to protect my family. My employers don't contribute. So why should Congress?

It can't be because they need it. It's actually a bit archaic -- a holdover tradition and maybe one past it's necessity.

"The death gratuity became customary starting in 1918 before the birth of modern life insurance (1924), the creation of Social Security (1935), the establishment of civil service pensions (1942), and health benefits under Medicare (1965)," Cooper said. "A lot has changed since 1918, and the gratuity custom should have been abandoned a long time ago."

According to Open Secrets: In 2011, the average net worth of a U.S. Senator: $11.9 Million and the average net worth of a U. S. Congressperson: $6.5 Million. So maybe Cooper's onto something here.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the particular financial state of the late Sen. Lautenberg -- his recorded net worth was $56.8 million in 2012. Hardly a pauper, yet reopening our government required this money added to our overhead? Really? At that crucial time, this was what the shutdown was over? 

And add this little nugget. We also paid Jeffrey Chiesa who was appointed to fill Frank L's seat a full salary for serving until a special election could be held for a permanent replacement, Cory Booker.

Anyone smelling special treatment here? Republicans, this is what you held out for? I thought it was defunding Obamacare. You didn't get that, but you settled for this?


GOP Refuses To Pay Government Shutdown Costs


Zion National park

Well, Utah is unhappy with the Obama Administration, the department of the Interior specifically. So are the states of  Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, New York and Tennessee.

But their anger is actually misplaced. Their problem is actually with the GOP and the House of Representatives. They're the ones who voted to defund the government, not the Department of the Interior.

Each of these states makes millions every year from revenues derived directly or indirectly (tourism related) from their federally maintained national parks. Parks like the Grand Canyon and Zion National park.

In the past shutdowns, these states were actually rewarded with money paid post-shutdown, to make up for their losses. Well, it seems the Republicans on the Hill this year have decided not to do that this time

So the next place the states took their demand was the Department of Interior. And they're saying no dice. Due to the sequester, they don't have the funds. They had gone to Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell who had told them in the past her department had been authorized to make that repayment for direct lost revenues. But that money came as part of "post shutdown funding bills" voted on by the Congress. She herself could not guarantee that money, but suggested that if past history was any indication, the state should lend their parks the money to stay open. When the shutdown was over, Congress would authorize funding for them to be repaid.

Seems the GOP  turned their backs on these states, once again.

Grand Canyon

Well, when Utah and the other states DEMANDED the repayment of the money they loaned their own parks, it fell on deaf GOP-led Congressional ears. The Representatives voted to repay furloughed workers but not the parks.

So, now it's up to the Republicans to clean up their spilled milk. Two GOP bills have been proposed, one to repay the states for this past government shutdown and another to force them to pay in case of another closure. According to the Hill:

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) is pushing a bill aimed at ensuring national parks remain open in the event that the government someday closes down again.

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has another bill that would require states to be repaid for expenses within 90 days after a shutdown ends. The House committee will consider it on Wednesday as well, and there is a companion bill in the Senate.

Sadly for the states, it doesn't seem that the congressional leadership is in any hurry to see these bills happen.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) does not yet have plans to bring either bill to the floor, his office said.

So much for the Republicans caring about the damage they've done. They're trying to put the blame on the Department of Interior as if they have extra money sitting around since the sequester. This is just another example of the Republican passing the buck tactics and their true lack of compassion. They're bulls in a china shop and they refuse to pay for what they've broken. Let's see how long these Red states take to become purple -- with rage, now that they've been stiffed.