The Sum of All Their Fears: Interest in the evil promise of affordable healthcare overwhelmed the Obamacare insurance exchanges on opening day. Over 2.8 visited the federal website even though it was impaired with technical problems caused by the unexpected outpouring of interest. States, too, saw great interest, with NY having 2.5 million visitors to it's exchange site in the first half hour. Republican fears of public acceptance of Obamacare seem to have been validated. If you couldn't get onto a health exchange website, relax for a few days while the bugs get worked out – you've got a threee months to pick and chose. Unless the Republican Right works some sort of black magic.
Mumbo Jumbo: Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank, says that while the European economy is “still fragile” the bank will use "all available instruments" to keep market interest rates from rising and hurting a fledgling recovery. Whatever that bunch of words might mean.
Silver Lining: The government shutdown has caused 70% of civilian employees of US intelligence agencies to be furloughed.
On The Other Hand: NSA's beloved leader assures us that his agency does not snoop on your Facebook information. It just compiles information on all your emails, phone calls, texts, cell phone use and location – but not from your Facebook page. He also admitted to “misleading the public”.
End Game: The shutdown is not the result of a bunch of renegade Republicans throwing a temper tantrum; it is the result of a deliberate strategy, one thought out and written down last January in the “Williamsburg Accord” after the Republicans had been unable to keep Bush's tax cuts for the rich in force. Republicans responded to their 2008 defeat by moving farther right and to their 2012 losses by moving even further right. Being unable to force concessions out of Obama, they have decided to simply render democratic government irrelevant and replace it with a series of non-negotiable demands.
Barrel, Bottom Of: Crude oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE reached a record high in August, yet petroleum prices remain above $100 a barrel - because their efforts could not offset the decline in OPEC's overall production. Brings considerable doubt as to the ability of the Saudis (or anyone else) to act as “swing producer” to satisfy the global thirst for oil.
Unclear On The Concept: Republican congresscritters claim that they were forced to shut down the government because they didn't get to vote on Obamacare, which became law before they were elected and they deserve a 'do-over'. They'd also like another whack at the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and the legislation that made MLK's birthday a national holiday.
Asked & Answered: “Is the US a functioning democracy?” No. It is not a democracy (especially considering gerrymandered districts) and it most certainly is not functioning.
Backup Plans: The Republicans, seeing their Pyhrric victory in shutting down the government backfiring on them, now seem intent on compounding the felony by going ahead with their threat to shut down the Treasury's power to borrow, forcing the nation into default. That'll do their brand even more good than the current mis-step has.
Take Two Laps And Call Me In The Morning: Research published in the British Medical Journal indicates that exercise can be as beneficial as taking pills in preventing death from some illnesses.
Shelling Out: Shell has abandoned its efforts to get oil out of Colorado's “oil shale” deposits, mainly because it is not shale and it does not contain oil. After 31 years of trying, the process of wresting stuff that can eventually be transformed into an oil-like substance still requires too much energy to make it worth doing. So scratch those 800 billion barrels of salvation off the menu – but don't tell the cornucopians.
Fission Follies: There's a new leak of radioactive water at Fukushima, while a Swedish nuclear power plant has returned to service after a three-day shut down caused by hordes of jellyfish clogging the water intake system.
The Parting Shot: