Bob Franken


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Transportation Security Administration agents are doing their part as the partial government shutdown drags on — at least some of them are. Forced to work without pay, some are expressing their disgust by calling out sick in ever-increasing numbers. That’s causing the wait times to get to your plane even longer. So it may seem counterintuitive, but if you know one of them personally, feel free to show your support with a warm “Thank you for not serving.”
At least they’re taking action with their inaction. It’s far too easy to sustain this absurd political gamesmanship simply by declaring that certain federal workers are “essential” and forcing them to stay on the job without pay. That way, critical services, like law enforcement, are continued. As for the hundreds of thousands of unpaid feds who can’t keep up with their bills, obviously this president — whose stubbornness is causing their plight — has moved them down on his list of priorities. Walled them off, so to speak. He’s definitely not feeling their pain, no matter how much he claims to “relate.”
The dillema is that there’s not enough pain, certainly not for Trump. If someone with political clout squeals a little — say, the food industry, which can’t, uh, stomach the idea that people are avoiding their farm products — he waves his executive-order wand and brings back inspectors. Speaking of farmers, who generally are part of Trump’s rural base, Department of Agriculture employees were ordered to return to process vital loans and subsidies, along with IRS workers to deal with tax refunds. You can count on Donald Trump: Just be the squeaky wheel, and the Trump administration will simply make another exception and order a batch of federal workers back on the clock. Mostly unpaid, of course.

Therein might lie the problem. A few are arguing that the stakes are too low. If you’re going to have a shutdown, they contend, let’s have a complete shutdown, not just a selective trinket for the politicians. What is the term the Trumpsters used in another context? Oh yeah, it was “zero tolerance.” Let’s apply that mindset to shutdown politics. Zero federal employees go to work. No FBI agents, no air traffic controllers, zippo. Let the American people deal with a complete absence of services, not just the ones someone deems “unessential.”
By the way, once again I need to mention that my wife works for the federal government. She has not been designated “essential,” but she certainly is to me. Asked whether I’m “essential” to her, she would neither confirm nor deny.
Back to the shutdown. However it ends up, at least it exposes one institution for the crock that it is. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, showing she’s no slouch in a knife fight, is really sticking it to Donald Trump. In effect, she disinvited him from appearing before Congress for the State of the Union address. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if it was permanently canceled, this annual slobberfest, with its phony bonhomie and pageantry?
Donnie loves it, so he was not about to just absorb this attack on his manhood. It wasn’t long before he took his own shot: Pelosi was about to lead a congressional delegation on a trip to Afghanistan. That’s one of the perks of being a member, the so-called CODELS, otherwise known as junkets. They are supposed to inform representatives and senators on the ways of the world. As often as not, their studies abroad take them to places like Paris, or in winter, to tropical beaches. Trump pulled the military planes that were taking this particular group to Afghanistan. Take that, Nancy!
So it’s not just the TSA officers. All Americans should be sick, as we all are threatened by this national debilitating disease. It’s called politics.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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