U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.

When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)

“When I get home, Esmee tells me she got a C on her math homework from the night before because she hadn’t made an answer column. Her correct answers were there, at the end of each neatly written-out equation, yet they weren’t segregated into a separate column on the right side of each page. I’m amazed that the pettiness of this doesn’t seem to bother her. School is training her well for the inanities of adult life.”
“[W]hat [Senator Rob] Portman is telling here is that on this one issue, his previous position was driven by a lack of compassion and empathy. Once he looked at the issue through his son’s eyes, he realized he was wrong. Shouldn’t that lead to some broader soul-searching? Is it just a coincidence that his son is gay, and also gay rights is the one issue on which a lack of empathy was leading his astray? That, it seems to me, would be a pretty remarkable coincidence. The great challenge for a Senator isn’t to go to Washington and represent the problems of his own family. It’s to try to obtain the intellectual and moral perspective necessary to represent the problems of the people who don’t have direct access to the corridors of power.”
“Orca had been conceived by two men—Romney’s Director of Voter Contact Dan Centinello and the campaign’s Political Director Rich Beeson. It was named in honor of the killer whale as an allusion to the Obama campaign’s own voter identification program, code-named Narwhal; orcas are the top predator of narwhals, Romney campaign staffers explained, and they were preparing to outshine the Democratic voter turnout effort.”
“NASA is serious about sending astronauts back to the moon’s neighborhood and will likely unveil its ambitious plans soon now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected, experts say. The space agency has apparently been thinking about setting up a manned outpost beyond the moon’s far side, both to establish a human presence in deep space and to build momentum toward a planned visit to an asteroid in 2025.”