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Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate's clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee -- all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.

When House Republicans shut down the government last Tuesday, they did so with the blessing of Catholic bishops. One week prior to the shutdown, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote a letter to the GOP House. The letter asked them to hold America hostage until Democrats kill birth control rules set by the White House. The rules require insurance companies to include birth control coverage for all employees, regardless of the religious beliefs of employers.

San Juan County has become the fifth county in Utah to declare a state of emergency in response to the closure of National Park areas. But the San Juan County Commission has also decided to storm National Park Service barricades, take control of some parks, and reopen them to the public.

Last weekend, the government decided that the NSA and its spying activities are essential government functions, but that surveillance oversight is expendable. As the government shutdown continues and thousands of federal employees remain furloughed, almost all of the Department of Defense’s civilian employees are heading back to work. The Pentagon announced on Saturday that 90% of its 350,000 furloughed employees could go back to their jobs in order to support various aspects of military readiness.

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning

Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

If a government shutdown genuinely shut the entire government down, you might be able to trace a few silver linings from an otherwise bad situation. Military conflicts might end (or at least be temporarily suspended), the destructive drug war might grind to a halt, mass surveillance might be put on hold and congressional legislators might be financially punished for their malicious behavior. But a government shutdown is mostly just a shutdown of good things — stuff like Head Start and food assistance to low-income moms and kids. Indeed, because of the way shutdowns are structured, the only silver lining from a budget stalemate is that you might get to hear a few curse words and see some nudity on television.