There are many ways of defining America. Free speech might be one. Open spaces. The freedom to worship in a church of one’s choice might be another.

Predictability is another. Predictability is the assumption that when we get up in the morning, there will not be a government coup, the lights will come on and the food supply will remain open.

This kind of certainty sounds obvious. But in many countries it is not.

The shutdown of America’s government that is being threatened by a few Republicans in Congress strikes at the heart what we count on in this nation.

These destructive fringe ideologues can get away with it, because their constituents buy into Armageddon. But if these lawmakers were sitting in a city council or a state legislature, they would not dare let City Hall, police departments or state troopers stop work. If they did, they would be turned out of office.

The outlines of the GOP game became especially clear last week when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas sucked up valuable time on the Senate floor. It was a Ted Cruz promotional event. But the underlying message was plain. Cruz is part of a protection racket. Absurdly, Cruz said that if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would only accept a repeal of Obamacare, this shutdown thing would go away. Imagine Cruz in a black shirt and black tie saying: “If your people just pay me and my pals a small ransom, we’ll make sure you and your family won’t be harmed.”

Cruz might have degrees from Princeton and Harvard, but he’s running the equivalent of a mob protection racket.

For Cruz and his buddies in the House to broach another idea – holding Congress hostage on defaulting on America’s debt – is like spreading gasoline throughout the Capitol and lighting a match. For all of his Ivy League education, Cruz missed economics and public finance. Or was it merely the section on personal responsibility and the role of prudence and restraint in Amerivan history?

Responding to Sen. Cruz, Sen. Amy Clobuchar of Minnesota said: “Some of my colleagues see (the Senate) as a battle ground. I see it as common ground.”

The label “conservative” should not be applied to Cruz and his allies. There is nothing conservative about what these men and women are doing. These are radicals holding Molotov cocktails.

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