Stuck in first gear
THUMBS DOWN: Congress sometimes moves with the speed of a snail that can't get out of first gear. That was so on Thursday.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had hoped for a vote on his proposal to set a higher government debt ceiling, while cutting back slightly on deficit spending.
It did not occur because some conservative Republicans balked at the measure - but more importantly, virtually all Democrats said they would not vote for the bill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had given them their instructions.
Apparently, the nation is back to "square one" on the matter, with just a few days left before the government's authority to borrow money expires.
President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Pelosi - all the while warning of the allegedly dire consequences of not increasing the debt ceiling - reject the Boehner bill.
Why? Because it would force a new debate over the national debt early next year, when Obama and many members of Congress are up for re-election.
Surely conservative Democrats, along with most Republicans, recognize Obama, Reid and Pelosi are engaged in a dangerous game of brinkmanship. It's time for it to be stopped. It's time for thoughtful lawmakers of both parties to say "no" to the triumvirate - and "yes" to the good of the nation.
A man-made tragedy
THUMBS DOWN: A terrible human tragedy is taking place in drought-stricken Somalia. The drought is causing terrible famine in this poor nation. People, especially children, are starving to death.
It is not for lack of humanitarian aid, however. There are people and organizations willing to help, but in part of the country controlled by al-Shabab militants, with ties to al-Qaida, the militants attack aid workers who try to deliver assistance, and try to prevent starving refugees from leaving the area to seek aid, according to an Associated Press report.
"They're godless. They have no heart. They want people to die of hunger," rather than accept aid from the West, according to one refugee, Fatima Mohammed. They tell refugees, "It's better to died of hunger than accept the West," Mohammed said.
It is heart wrenching to look at the pictures of the children, their large eyes looking out from wizened, skeletal faces. We doubt that the al-Shabab militants are doing much starving.
Drama in the house
THUMBS UP: There has been a lot of high drama in the house this week. No, not the House of Representatives in Washington. That's more like a low comedy. The drama is at the Lind House, where Luverne Seifert, head of the Theater Performance Department at the University of Minnesota, is directing Anton Chekhov's classic play, "The Cherry Orchard." The Lind House is a great setting for the play, which is set in a Russian estate house.
The audience follows the actors through the house, so seating is extremely limited. We would imagine it makes for an extremely intimate theater setting.
Thanks to Seifert for thinking of New Ulm and the Lind House for this experiment in drama.