I just finished reading Nicholas Kristoff's column in the NY Times today, and I found myself shaking my head in agreement on many of his points. I certainly agree that this whole ridiculous episode could have been averted altogether if the Congress had pushed to complete the budget last year. I lay blame on last year's Congress for this, both the fearful and feckless Democrats, and the utterly nihilistic Republicans (who have managed to bully Democrats since the rise of Reagan, and have only perfected their bullying tactics in the subsequent decades).
I am proud to say that I belong to neither party, and if we as Americans ever get any common sense (an extremely tall order, I know), we would develop competing political parties. It isn't as though we haven't had multiple parties in our past. We've just become fearful, lazy and uninterested (and do not believe the bullshit line that the Tea Party is a "party"; it is a faction of the most rabid of conservatives within the Republican Party, with no desire to form an independent party whatsoever). We have been given a front row seat to see precisely why Americans (particularly those actually paying attention) DESPISE the Congress.