A Step By Step Guide To Preparing For The Coming Government Shutdown

Trump is almost certainly going to shut down the government again. Here's how to be ready for it.

by Justin Rosario

In a few weeks, Congress will likely pass another continuing resolution to keep the government open into December. By then, Democrats should be well into the public hearings that will lead to Trump's impeachment. Bill Barr, Trump's historically corrupt Attorney General, will also have made his "investigation" public in hopes of derailing the impeachment hearings.

When this fails to stop Democrats from moving ahead, Trump is almost certainly going to shut the government down.

Even if they pass a CR that lasts until February, which would be past the impeachment hearings in the House, Democrats will not give Trump money for his racist border wall. But my bet is that he's still going to find a reason to shut the government down to show that he's tough during an election year.

Unlike the previous shutdown, which only affected a relatively small part of the federal government, this one will likely shut down almost all of it.

Mitch McConnell may well urge Trump not to (because shutting the government down has never once worked in favor of the GOP) but Trump is a rabid dog and difficult to control. Better for government workers to be prepared now for a shutdown than scramble at the last second.

Stock Up

My wife and I have been preparing for shutdowns ever since Republicans took control of the House in 2010 because we knew that they love nothing more than to throw sand in the gears of government. Even so, we still weren't entirely ready when "The Big One" landed at the end of 2018, when Trump partially shut down the government for over a month. But we learned a lot of useful lessons, some of which seem screamingly obvious in hindsight. (cont below..)

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Stock up on dry and canned goods - Rice, pasta, soups, beans, sauce, cereal, oatmeal, stuffing, cooking oil, etc. If you have a pantry, even a small one, cram it with food that will hold for a while. If not, start storing it in boxes and label it.

Stock up on frozen meat - If your freezer permits, stock up on meat. Don't worry about frozen vegetables, those are very cheap and even $20 can buy you 2 weeks' worth of veggies. But if you need meat in your meals, better to stock up now. Whole chickens, as opposed to chicken pieces, are good because they're inexpensive and provide more than one meal. A family of four can get two full dinners and a lunch out of a medium-sized chicken. And you can make soup out of the bones if you know how.

Stock up on pet food - This is one of those hindsight things I mentioned earlier. We were so focused on people food, we didn't think about our poor kitties. Pet food is not super expensive but a month's supply isn't cheap when you have no paycheck. And food banks don't usually help with pets. Put a month's supply aside and don't forget about litter if you have cats.

Stock up on medicine - This one's a little tricky. You can't just ask for an extra month's supply of prescription medication. One thing I do is skip a day or two a week until I have enough pills put aside for a month. But that's assuming you can skip your medication at all. You can try to get an early refill when the shutdown looms closer but that leaves you at the mercy of the insurance company. Not a bet I'd be willing to make. The sooner you start squirreling meds away, the less you'll have to skip.

Also, don't forget about medicine for your pets if they have any.

Stock up on toiletries - Soap, shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc. You don't want to have to buy any of this stuff when you don't have a paycheck. It's annoying. And you don't want to run out when you don't have the money to buy more. That's even worse.

Money Prep

This is the really really hard part. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck so putting money away, much less a few thousand dollars, is not easy. If you can do it, do it. If you can only do some of it, do that. If you can't put anything away, don't despair, you still have options.

Rent - This is the one that will hurt the most. Put away at least one month's worth of rent (or mortgage) and pretend it doesn't exist. Banks and rental companies, for the most part, do not care that the government is shut down. They only care that you are not paying your rent on time.

Student loans - Get the numbers and/or emails you'll need to ask for a deferment ahead of time. Most college loan companies are actually pretty good about this. You'll still be collecting interest on the loan but you won't get a penalty for not paying. If they give you a choice for how long to pause payments, do not choose one month. The last shutdown went longer than a month and there's no guarantee the next one won't be even longer than that. Also, you'll need time to get your finances back into order and a little breathing space will help.

Credit Cards - Some companies are better than others about this. Some will allow you a month's grace, others will be jerks about it. You'll have to call and find out.

Collection agencies - Ignore them. What are they going to do? Garnish your nonexistent paycheck?

Utilities - Put away at least one month's worth for your phone, electricity, heat, etc. Utility companies are also very unforgiving.

Transportation - Here's one we didn't think about for the first shutdown. Gas money. Just because you're not working doesn't mean you won't still be driving the car. Put the money on a gift card that's only to be used for gas and label it clearly.

Transportation part the second - Here's another one we didn't think about until the second shutdown. Metro money. My wife Debbie was one of the lucky "essential" employees who had to keep working while not getting paid. Guess what happened after four weeks? She ran out of money for the Metro and had to pay for it out of pocket.

Grocery store gift card - Slap some money on a gift card for your local grocery store. That way, you won't have to worry about buying fresh veggies, bread, milk, and other perishables.

Quarters for washing machines - If you live in an apartment building or take your clothes to the local Laundromat, put aside enough quarters for a month's worth of wash. It sounds trivial, but when you don't have a paycheck coming in, those quarters add up fast.

Cash - Put some in an envelope or put some money on a visa gift card. Whatever you're the most comfortable with, put it someplace where you won't spend it until you need it. I leave some of mine sitting in Paypal because I hardly ever touch it and the rest in an envelope buried in a drawer. It doesn't have to be a lot, even $40 will do, just enough for an emergency tank of gas or a doctor's visit.


Food pantries - Locate three or four food pantries in your community. Find out their times, how many people they can accommodate, if they have any requirements or restrictions, what parking is like, etc. You may not love the idea of taking a handout but when you skip two paychecks in a row, as Marcellus Wallace always says, "Fuck pride." You have a family to feed. Or you just yourself. Either way, food pantries exist explicitly to help people who need help. And if some jackass in the White House is holding your paycheck hostage, you need help.

Unemployment - Apply for this as soon as humanly possible. Get the information for your state's service's and read it over well before the shutdown starts. This stuff is complicated and you don't want to wait to figure it out while you're stressing out. If you are an "essential" employee and working, you will be denied. That's OK. You can appeal and get approved, it just takes a little longer. This is exactly what happened to my wife.

Just be aware you have to pay it back later when you get your back pay.

Get a temp job - During a government shutdown, all sorts of places will be looking to help out by hiring government workers, even if it's only for a few weeks. One of these will almost certainly be your local school district. Depending on where you live: You do not need a degree in education to be a substitute teacher. You do need to pass some background checks and get some basic training but almost every school district is starved for subs. You can earn some money and help out your community at the same time. You can do the training in advance if you're interested.

Always check the rules and regulations of your particular agency concerning a second job.

Fundraising - If an emergency comes up and you need to raise money, there's always online fundraising but, again, always check with your particular agency for the rules and regulations dealing with this.

Don't wait until the worst happens

Humans are not great at being proactive. We tend to wait until something bad happens and then freak out. This is a terrible idea. If a shutdown goes on long enough, it will negatively impact your credit rating if you can't pay your bills and you risk your security clearance, if you have one. Did that get your attention? I hope so.

You don't have to be a Doomsday Prepper and dig a fallout shelter in the backyard but these are fairly simple precautions to take to get you through the worst of someone else stupidity. Should you have to worry about this kind of thing? In an ideal world, no. But that's not the world we live in so it's better to be prepared, even partially, than to find yourself scrambling to find enough quarters to wash your underwear or praying you have enough gas to get the kids to school one more day.

Even after Trump is gone, you never know when some jackass is going find a way to shut it all down again. So why not be ready and worry-free?

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The Banter Brief: The GOP Nightmare In Virginia, Worst/Best Movie Ever, And Buttigieg Rising

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of The Banter Brief!

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of The Banter Brief! This is free round up of the most important events of the week published every Friday. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so here:

1. Most Important Story Of The Week

The most important story of the week was the Democrats’ stunning victory in Virginia and Kentucky. Democrats won complete control of the Virginia government for the first time in 25 years on Tuesday, and beat Republicans in the Kentucky governor’s race. The GOP were beaten in other races across the country too that says much about their prospects in 2020. From The Atlantic:

Amid all the various local factors that shaped GOP losses—from Kentucky to Virginia, from suburban Philadelphia to Wichita, Kansas—the clearest pattern was a continuing erosion of the party’s position in the largest metropolitan areas. Across the highest-profile races, Democrats benefited from two trends favoring them in metro areas: high turnout in urban cores that have long been the party’s strongholds, and improved performance in white-collar suburban areas that previously leaned Republican.

This should terrify Republicans as it appears to be a direct refutation of Donald Trump. As Bob Cesca noted in his piece for Banter Subscribers this week, “Three shitty elections for Trump have proved that despite his childishly ridiculous excuses and spin, he’ll need all the illegal outside help he can get away with in order to make up for the fact that everyone beyond the 40-percenters aren’t playing any more.”

Read more:

Trump Is A Weak Incumbent, And He’s Getting Weaker - Bob Cesca on why the Virginia and Kentucky elections spell doom for the GOP in 2020

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2. Poll Analysis

Trump Polls: There were some troubling polls published this week showing Trump being extremely competitive with the leading Democrats in crucial swing states. Given the results in Virginia and Kentucky, Democrats have a lot to be confident about, but Trump is still dangerous and Democrats should not take victory for granted.

Read more: The Poll That Should Really Worry Democrats - Ben Cohen explains why new polls show that Democrats need to be very careful about their policy positions heading into 2020.

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Democratic Polls: Perhaps the most interesting news from the Democratic primary is Pete Buttigieg’s astonishing rise in Iowa. The Mayor from Indiana is now an extremely close second to Elizabeth Warren (19% to Warren’s 20%). If Buttigieg pulls the upset, or even places second, he may turn the whole race on its head.

Impeachment: According to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times nationwide poll, 4% say the House should vote to impeach and 30% say it should not. The rest of the country is undecided.

3. Quote Of The Week

"What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward Ukraine: It was incoherent, it depends on who you talk to, they seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo, so no I find the whole process to be a sham and I'm not going to legitimize it."

- Sen. Lyndsey Graham trots out his new, bizarre defense of the Trump administration’s quid pro quo with Ukraine.

4. What to Watch

‘Holiday In The Wild’

This Netflix Christmas movie is so bad it’s good. Starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe, ‘Holiday In The Wild’ follows the newly single Davis on her travels to Zambia where she meets a sort of beta version of Indiana Jones (Lowe), who is a pilot and looks after baby elephants.

The plot is so inane and predictable you know what happens from looking at the cover image: Privileged white woman from America meets rough and ready Crocodile Dundee type character, realizes her life buying shoes and lunching is meaningless, then helps save animals, extremely grateful Africans, then finds love etc. The dialogue is perhaps worse — in fact it is so bad and so cheesy one wonders whether ‘Holiday In The Wild’ is really a comedy and Netflix accidentally miscategorized it. It’s basically another sequel to Sex And The City, but in Africa and without any real plot.

Apparently though there’s a huge market for these types of films in the weeks leading up to Christmas, especially ones featuring baby elephants. And that’s where ‘Holiday In The Wild’ really shines. The baby elephants really are extremely cute, and no matter how ludicrous the rest of the film is, the wildlife makes it all worthwhile.

5. Good News

We hate to be repetitive here, but the good news this week is clearly America’s rejection of the GOP in previously red leaning districts around the country. The Democrats have been badly in need of some good news, and the recent elections have given them a tremendous boost. With Trump now actively hurting Republicans in crucial elections, the GOP is now in an impossible position. They have to defend Trump while distancing themselves from him while also appealing to Republican voters whom overwhelmingly support the president. In other words, a strategic nightmare.

See you next week!

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Trump Is A Weak Incumbent, And He’s Getting Weaker - Bob Cesca on why the Virginia and Kentucky elections spell doom for the GOP in 2020

The Poll That Should Really Worry Democrats - Ben Cohen explains why new polls show that Democrats need to be very careful about their policy positions heading into 2020.

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Matt Taibbi Spent The Weekend Defending Trump. It Was An Embarrassing Disaster

This has not been a good week for Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone's erstwhile contrarian.

by Justin Rosario

This has not been a good week for Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone's erstwhile contrarian. The whole point of being the guy that speaks truth to power is that you have to speak the truth and Taibbi has apparently completely abandoned that concept in favor of just spewing his loathing of Democrats and anyone who thinks Donald Trump is a criminal who should be removed from office.

Taibbi kicked off the week with a column that should have been a fair critique of how the media responded to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Washington Post had an obituary with what became a widely criticized and parodied headline of, "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48."

Part of the uproar was perfectly fair, al-Baghdadi was a fucking monster and the Post chose the most innocuous description imaginable to describe him. It would be like describing Hitler as an "amateur painter." Technically accurate but kind of missing the point. They didn't have to say he was a rabid, bloodthirsty animal but the eventual headline they went with (after 3 or 4 tries) was clearly more appropriate: "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48."

The other part was a little less fair; the part about "dies at 48." People complained that it made it sound like he died in his sleep, something Taibbi alludes to. Apparently, and I was not aware of this, obituaries don't specify how people die. Everyone "dies at age xx" no matter if they die from cancer, overdose, old age, or a suicide vest.

Still, the general outline of the criticism was fair. For about three paragraphs. Then Taibbi flies off the rails:

When important events take place now, commercial news outlets instantly slice up the facts and commoditize them for consumption by their respective political demographics. We always had this process, to some degree, but it no longer takes days to sift into the op-ed pages.

Now news is packaged for Republicans or Democrats on the first reporting pass. Moreover, it’s no longer true that Fox is more blatant about its slant than the Democrat-friendly press, which in the Trump years has become a bullhorn of caricatured bellyaching in the same way Fox was in the Clinton years.

That is such utter nonsense that it's almost impossible to believe that Taibbi believes it. It's true that it's the thesis of his latest book which directly equates Rachel Maddow with Sean Hannity but no rational person can look at Fox News and CNN or MSNBC and declare "both sides are the same" without denying reality.

But that's exactly what Taibbi does.

Taibbi doesn't want the press to report on Trump

He laments that the "anti-Trump" media didn't just report on the death of a wanted terrorist but only had the gall to put it into context, something we have seen far too little of over the last three years. But Taibbi finds outrageous, nonetheless.

Even if you’re not the kind of person who can ever celebrate a violent helicopter assault that results in the deaths of children – I count myself in that number – the difference in how this story was covered compared to analogous stories about bin Ladenor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was striking. Apparently, the salient facts about the death of al-Baghdadi included:

Taibbi goes on to list several aspects that were reported on as if they shouldn't have been. I'm going to list them and explain in italics why Taibbi is either a liar or an imbecile for suggesting they weren't important:

  • Trump didn’t “inform some key Democrats” about the operation; Why does this matter? Because it shows that Trump is so goddamn petty that even in areas of national security, he will be as partisan as possible. What happens when there's an emergency and Trump decides not to work with Democrats because they hurt his feelings? 

  • Trump “notified Russians… before telling congressional leaders”; Why does this matter? How many freaking times does Trump have to show his loyalty to Russia over his own country before Taibbi stops pretending the alleged President of the United States is not a Russian asset? If Obama was this slavishly devoted to a foreign power, Taibbi would have set himself on fire on the South Lawn in protest.

  • The Baghdadi raid was “complicated” by Trump’s plans to withdraw from Syria, happening “in spite of” Trump, not because of him; Why does this matter? Trump put our troops in danger and almost let the head of ISIS get away because of his utter incompetence as president. If killing the head of ISIS is important, and Taibbi thinks it is, then almost botching the planning to get him is worth taking note of.

  • The raid was a “victory built on factors Trump derides” (i.e., it was a win by intelligence agencies Trump has criticized); Why does this matter? Trump pounded his chest over "his" great victory while doing everything possible to make sure we can never do anything like it again. I get it, Taibbi hates the I.C. with every fiber of his being (just like Trump!) but you don't get to enjoy the work the people you hate do while cursing their existence.

  • Trump’s gloating tone contrasted with the more “measured” tone of Barack Obama after the bin Laden operation; Why does this matter? Because like it or not, the president represents the country and we shouldn't be seen as a drunken frat boy bragging about their latest conquest, something Taibbi knows all about. Also, ISIS will use Trump's arrogance as an excellent tool to recruit more terrorists, resulting in more death.

  • The operation was like watching a movie, except “there was no live audio” (this was the New York Times where the “whimpering and crying” detail came from); Seriously, how dishonest do you have to be to think the press shouldn't report on the President of the United States lying yet again?

  • Trump is going to “milk” the political benefit of Baghdadi because he needs to, because of impeachment and other problems; Where's the lie? Taibbi literally complains in his own column that Fox and right wing media "emphasized the political benefit of the raid to Trump." But when the "liberal" media points this same exact thing out, it's bad because...why? Because a liar said so, I guess.

  • Trump’s situation room photo appeared more “staged” than Obama’s, experts said. In fact, they were taken before the raid even happened! Why is this important? Even if the timing aspect of this was wrong (it does not appear to have been taking hours after), the picture is still clearly staged. That is not a group of men watching a raid. It's a group of men posing for a photograph. Trump himself made it clear that the only thing he cared about was having a "bigger" moment than Obama and that included having an iconic photo to match Obama's bin Laden photo.

Hint: Taibbi is being incredibly dishonest

Maybe because he was dragged over his column or maybe because the stress of being a "progressive" who can't stop defending Trump, Taibbi had what could be charitably be described as a meltdown on Saturday that lasted the entire day.

It started off really bad and it got, ahem, progressively worse throughout the day:

As I've mentioned before, I am not an extremely well-paid professional journalist for a venerated publication like Rolling Stone. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that I appear to understand American politics better than one of the more well-known political writers in the country.

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A little cold water on this hot take: The president does, indeed, set U.S. foreign policy. But he does not do so in a vacuum, does not have absolute unilateral authority to do so, and it is absolutely illegal for the president to benefit personally at the expense of the country's interests. If Taibbi honestly didn't know this, he should quit his job.

But really, he does know this. He's just being incredibly dishonest.

Taibbi goes on and, of course, has to toss in some "whataboutism." But it's possibly the worst attempt I've ever seen outside of Fox:

I'll say it slowly for the chuckleheads that think this was clever: Obama chose not to give Ukraine lethal military aid because he did not want to escalate tensions between Russia and the United States by fighting what would be essentially a proxy war. Taibbi, who loathes the military-industrial complex (not without ample justification), should 100% agree that avoiding more war is a good thing.

But in his need to defend Trump, suddenly Obama not giving military aid is just like what Trump did. Except it's not, and a child could see that.

Trump had already agreed to the escalation (hey, remember when people like Taibbi said Trump wouldn't be a warmonger?), but then withheld the aid in order to force the Ukrainian president to open a fake investigation into Joe Biden and his son for the explicit purpose of helping Trump with his reelection.

Obama said no to avoid a larger conflict. Trump said yes, but only after you do something to benefit me personally. Again, if Taibbi is incapable of sussing this out himself, he is not qualified to write about politics.

But of course he knows he's not being honest here. He just doesn't care.

Here's another gem. Taibbi invokes the dreaded name of...Hillary Clinton!!!!!

Matt Taibbi@mtaibbi
Hillary did request that Ukraine investigate Trump:

Afferent Input@afferent_input

@JohnPNoonan @diamond_dog2 @mtaibbi Imagine if it was Hillary that was requesting Ukraine to investigate Trump if they wanted Congressionally mandated taxpayer $ to counter Russian aggression. Taibbi would be all over that like flies on shit.

Except, if one were to, you know, actually read the article, one would find that Hillary did not, at any point, ask Ukraine to investigate Trump. Nor did anyone in her campaign. Officials in Ukraine saw, accurately, that Trump was Putin's creature and even before Manafort (a known Russian asset) was hired as his campaign manager, they were raising the alarm. (cont below)

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Taibbi was in rare form on Saturday. His thin skin was on full display as he started to lie about his lies. Here's him justifying lying about comparing Obama's sending nonlethal aid to Trump withholding lethal aid for personal gain:

If you're not sure what Taibbi is talking about (2016 feels like a million years ago, I know), he's talking about some of the first and most overt signs that Trump was Putin's puppet.

During the Republican National Convention in 2016, the Trump campaign changed one part of the GOP's platform. Just one. They pushed the GOP from supporting sending lethal aid to Ukraine to only sending non-lethal aid.

It's hard to recall but back then, Republicans all hated Russia and would have loved nothing more than to go to war. These days, of course, most of Trump's cult adores Putin because their orange god has told them to admire the dictator. But in 2016, the average Republican was quite eager to show the Reds how tough America is, so it was extremely odd that the Trump campaign did this.

It wasn't that the press wanted Obama to go to war and the GOP switching its platform to a less aggressive stance that alarmed the press. It was that a huge warning light was flashing — one of the first of many. Taibbi has dedicated the last 3 years to dishonestly distracting anyone he can from noticing those lights and calling everyone that comments on them "conspiracy nuts" and "idiots."

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You never go full Breitbart

To cap it all off, Taibbi went full Breitbart by the end of the day:

That is 100% pure right wing tinfoil hat nonsense based on the fever dreams of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Reddit. Republicans controlled all three branches of the government for two full years and somehow failed to uncover the vast conspiracy behind the Deep State. But when you have nothing but bullshit to begin with, why not go all the way?

Taibbi hasn't started blaming "globalists" and George Soros yet, but it really is just a matter of time.

It's clear that from the triumphant peak of March, when he was gloriously stomping around screeching "I told you so!" at all of his detractors in the wake of Bill Barr's "summary" of the Mueller report, that Taibbi has been watching the last three years of his life crumble to dust.

It took a massive and concerted effort from the right wing media and the GOP to obscure the Mueller report. And even then, it was obvious that Taibbi was full of shit for denying its conclusions. The only reason that Democrats didn't impeach Trump eight months ago is because the investigation was so limited in scope and extreme Republican obstruction.

But the Ukraine extortion scheme is too out in the open, too simple, and has too many credible witnesses willing to speak. Taibbi has been frantically moving the goalposts almost by the hour in a desperate attempt to discredit the investigation. He's invested so much of his intellectual capital in painting Trump's critics as liars that he's bankrupted himself.

The once excellent journalism of Matt Taibbi has turned into a parody of itself. Instead of speaking truth to power, Taibbi only speaks lies to defend the powerful in a perversion of "the enemy of my enemy."

It's only going to get worse from here as Trump's criminality becomes more brazen and Taibbi struggles to convince his base of progressive readers that Trump is actually the victim here and Democrats and the mainstream media are all out to get him. One can only assume that when Trump tries to declare his impending 2020 loss null and void and attempts to seize control of the country through a coup, Taibbi will take to twitter to blame Democrats for forcing him to resort to such extreme measures.

It's the only logical outcome of an ideology whose sole guiding principle is "always oppose Democrats no matter what."

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