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FROM THE EDITOR: Shutdown orchestrated by billionaire Koch brothers? Say it ain't so!

What day is it?

Oh, it’s Day 11 of the Republican-engineered shutdown of the federal government.

Or, is it the Obama-engineered, Reid-orchestrated government shutdown?

Hmm. Well, whichever it is, the government remains shut down a full week after my last editorial, which equated this dangerous, even by Washington standards, game of chicken to a mass suicide attempt by the House GOP.

I stand behind that and polls suggest most Americans do as well. Even as late as Thursday a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that the GOP share of the blame for the shutdown was a full 22 percentage points greater than the share of the blame cast upon Obama. That’s a pretty wide gap.

John Podhoretz, a columnist for the New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication (he also owns Fox News), authored a column on Tuesday that agreed with my position. His title: “Suicide of the Right.”

What he writes, and I happen to agree with, is that this shutdown is a blunder of unimaginable proportions by a party already barreling toward oblivion. Marginalized: It’s what tends to happen when you hold onto values not held by a growing population of women and minorities and people who simply feel that the GOP better represents affluent white men above everyone else.

In his lead paragraph, Podhoretz cites an ABC News poll from Monday that showed that “71 percent fault the GOP; 61 percent fault Congressional Democrats; 51 percent fault President Obama.” Pretty close to the NBC poll — 20 percentage point margin between GOP and Obama in the blame category.

He also writes — and this too is spot on — that Obamacare, though unpopular, is not by any stretch wildly unpopular, say, like Congress is wildly unpopular with an approval rating of just 11 percent. The conservative columnist goes on to compare the Republican Party to a car, the only vehicle in town for conservative ideas. And yet, the House GOP seems hell-bent on destroying it.

Poderhoretz says it better: “But here’s the conundrum: There is only one electoral vehicle for conservative ideas in the United States — the Republican Party. It’s one thing to refuse to waste your time buffing and polishing the vehicle so that it looks nice and pretty; that’s what political hacks do, and ideologues have every right to disdain such frippery. But if, in the guise of making the vehicle function better, you muck up the engine, smash the windshield, put the wrong tires on it and pour antifreeze in the gas tank, you are impeding its forward movement. You’re ruining it, not repairing it.”

Remember, this is a true conservative’s estimation, published by one of the most anti-Obama publications in the country.

Closer to home, Gov. Brian Sandoval, looking more like a RHINO every week, warned that if the federal shutdown persists into November, Nevadans will begin to surely suffer as the federal largess the state’s grown accustomed to dries up. As for the state stepping in and picking up the slack, fat chance. Sandoval made clear, Nevada has a small rainy day fund but nothing compared to what would be necessary to fund the myriad federal programs many Nevadans depend upon to meet their needs. Of course, in what must be called a pure display of political cowardice, Sandoval, and many other Republicans in the state, were mum on who they believed was responsible for the nation’s current political impasse.

Day 11, in a fight over legislation passed two years ago, affirmed by the Supreme Court. A fight at the expense of the country’s global reputation and even the future of the political system. Unbelievable.

How did we get to this point?

Well, if you read The New York Times on Saturday, an interesting news item revealed that the government shutdown was months and months in the making, orchestrated by a loose-knit group of some three dozen conservative political action groups led and funded by none other than the billionaire Koch brothers.

After leading off with a paragraph about how desperate conservatives were to hand Obama a political defeat, particularly by defunding Obamacare, the article reports that these inglorious Republican organizations signed off on a plan called simply “Blueprint for Defunding Obamacare.” The third paragraph of the story reads thusly, “It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.”

And the smoke slips in shifting waves out of the barrel.

About the tenth paragraph down, the story reads, “The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight.”

Of course, the Koch brothers issued a statement this week — it was sent to every U.S. senator’s office after Harry Reid mentioned The New York Times article on the Senate floor — denying that their $200 million was meant to be used to defund Obamacare. They’d rather it just be used instead to repeal the law altogether. But, of course, they’re among the few in this country who have so much money they can self-insure their entire family, and even the families of family friends for generations and generations and generations to come, no matter the malady, while everybody else might go bankrupt if the wrong calamity strikes at the wrong time.

So, if you had any doubt about how we got here, track down that article, it’s interesting reading and goes much further in depth than I have space for here. This shutdown didn’t just happen overnight. Even House Speaker John Boehner admitted on one of those Sunday news shows last week that he was close to a deal with Reid on the budget, squeezing some $60 million in new cuts from Senate Democrats if the House GOP would simply leave Obamacare alone.

Boehner and his Tea Party faction reneged, and now we find out that was the plan all along. Devised and funded by billionaires.

What will next week bring?

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