Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that the U.S. government has lurched into a partial shutdown this week.
In recent years, American politicians have been all too willing to indulge in a high stakes game of chicken.
Going to the brink, approaching the "fiscal cliff," hitting the "debt ceiling" - and beyond - are now all part of partisan poker in Washington.
Blink - or compromise, as it's known in most other civil societies - and you lose.
The result, as seen Tuesday, is that parts of the American government ground to a halt, while a Republican-dominated House of Congress refused to pass a temporary funding bill. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were "furloughed" as the government ran out of authority to pay them.
The shutdown, of course, has little to do with ability to pay and much to do with ideology. A core group of Tea Party Republicans is determined to use any measure possible to resist Barack Obama's health care law, despite it being a key issue in the last presidential election - an election Obama won.
While the Republican core dug in their heels Tuesday, Americans got a rare glimpse at what's considered essential government service. Workers with the FBI and the postal service were still at their posts. Parking enforcement in the capital was apparently still operating. Most national parks, however, were shut, and NASA was operating with a skeleton crew.
The Capitol was also open - Congress having been deemed an essential service.
That should serve as a message to the Republican diehards who seem more intent on re-fighting old battles than getting on with the job of governing.
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