Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barking the Squirrel Down

Once upon a time I saw a squirrel get barked out of a tree by a pack of dogs.  The squirrel was entirely safe.  The dogs couldn't climb the tree.  This is pretty much what is going on now with this deficit and debt panic.  President Obama is already nearly out of the tree too.  Meanwhile--the news media coverage notwithstanding--the facts remain.  The tree is solid and safe.  The dogs can't climb.  Here's a link, from last Sunday's New York Times.

You may also recall that Republicans very much wanted the Bush Tax Cuts not to expire--for some reason in December, 2010, there was no debt or deficit crisis.  Meanwhile, last Friday Congress shut down the FAA, a little-noted event given all the coverage devoted to the "debt crisis."  Some 1200 post offices are also going to be closed down due to budget issues.

Most pundits I've read still predict a last minute resolution of some kind.  Wall Street, it is opined, will simply not "allow" the country to teeter on default, or actually go over that precipice.  But Wall Street seems to be entirely unable to explain to the people it helped elect last year that the Federal Government cannot be understood as simply a big family, where dad cuts the credit card up when sis buys too many pairs of tight jeans without his permission.  Indeed, as Obama did point out in one of his attempts to direct the American people towards reality, the debt ceiling "issue" is about paying for stuff we've already bought, not about new spending.  Even in the false Iowa Family metaphor Mrs. Bachmann's shrill voice invokes hourly (snipping with her most articulate fingers an imaginary credit card, for all to visualize), Dad is going to have to pay for those jeans, because sis has worn them twice, they've been washed, and there's a catsup stain on one knee.

Or maybe, in Bachmann world, the jeans go back anyways.  Not to any store I know about.   As most people know, reality is a stern teacher.  Much of the government's efforts go into softening the blows that reality will be happy to met out, all things being equal.  If the debt limit isn't raised, it might be better for the country as a whole to pay treasury bond interest, than to pay social security recipients.  At that point, perhaps the rank and file tea party people--not finding their needed check in the mailbox--may begin to wonder what they actually have signed up for.  Ain't no doubt a passle of tea party members do get those checks, and use Medicare.  You can see the demographics in the photos.

While I certainly don't want to see such an eventuality, I have to wonder what the hell is really going on these days.  Shutting down the FAA is not even making the news.

Thursday morning update:   NPR yesterday was musing that wasn't it amazing that America could ever get even so close as it is to a default, being as how we're so amazingly sophisticated about these things, not to mention rich.  Seems like NPR forgets that the nation that brought us the most sophisticated music, physics, philosophy, and theology in the western world blossomed in the late 1920s into systematic extermination of their own citizens and a military conflagration that killed some 50 million people and left their own country utterly flattened.  Obviously we do not have a vaccine against crazy.  OBVIOUSLY.  The procession of events in one of our most sensible, educated states, Wisconsin, should give all pause.  Even NPR.  Michele Bachmann is an elected representative from another of our most sensible, educated states, Minnesota--a state which also put a professional wrestler in as Governor.  And of course I'm not living in some glass house around these parts--my benighted state gave the world Jesse Helms, and more recently, Rep. Virginia Fox, who sits squarely in the hen house now, on the Finance Committee.   (The NPR musing was going on on the Diane Rehm show, by the way, where Alice Rivlin, who used to be sharper, evoked the "both of  'em do it" meme on the grounds that the Simpson-Bowles Commission Report, of which she was a signatory, was pretty much ignored back in January.) 

In the larger perspective the public continues to be played.  While everything focuses on a phony crisis that at best will be ended by Presidential Invocation of the 14th Amendment, our voting rights are being dismembered at the state level via i.d. laws which are going to change voting demographics significantly.  Meanwhile the Supreme Court considers whether the Civil Rights Voting Laws are now irrelevant.  Ha.  The only people who can seriously deny that racism still flourishes in the United States are themselves racists, and people who seem capable of living in denial on many fronts these days.  Voter ID laws are the new strategy in the age old game of stopping all but the privileged from getting to vote. 

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