Pat Bagley on the current economic standoff.
I like his graphic invocation of "The American People Are On Our Side." Yes, they are, except for the majority who voted in favor of the Other Guy last November.
The whole idea of sequestration was that it proposed a solution so horrendous that cooler heads would prevail before it actually came to pass. Now the GOP is criticizing Obama for having said, "Don't worry, it won't happen."
They, of course, accuse him of lying. His own critics accuse him of underestimating the willingness of the GOP to light that pool of gasoline. (But note that Bagley doesn't place him within that pool, and public opinion appears to suggest that the GOP is only fueling themselves.)
Such willful ignorance on the part of purported leadership is frustrating. I've written before about how simpleminded metaphors have been used to obscure the issues in all of this, the chief one being the ridiculous comparison between macroeconomic realities and your family budget.
It's one thing to not quite understand that the majority of states face different economic constraints than the federal government does, and that what a particular state does about its budget might not be applicable to the situation in DC.
And it's reasonable at several levels to make the error of thinking that everything is on the table at budget time when, in reality, almost nothing ever is.
You see this all the time on the microlevel at school board meetings, where the part of the proposed budget which is not absolutely determined by contracts (not just employment contracts with teachers but contracts with fuel companies, for example, or payments on already-completed buildings and major equipment purchases) is miniscule and mostly made up of things like furnace or roof maintenance which will cost a great deal more later if you don't do it now.
One of the great advantages of New England's town meeting system is the chance to hash those things out so that taxpayers understand each line item. Which in turn makes it frustrating to see that a lot of communities have switched to ballot voting in order to increase participation by people who can't, or won't, take the time to attend town meeting and find out what they're actually voting for.
We base a lot of our politics on hoping people don't pay attention to the men behind the curtain.
Which means you don't bother to correct misperceptions, but, rather, figure out how to exploit them, which leads to, for instance, the ridiculous idea that nations set economic policy the same way a family sets a budget, a doubly dishonest approach when you aren't even realistic about the unrealistic metaphor.
What family would sit around the table and, seeing that they don't make enough money to feed their children, refuse to even consider the need for additional revenue in the form of a second job or working some overtime or maybe looking for a new job that would provide more pay?
What's more, the same people who flog this metaphor without admitting the possibility of additional revenues also rail against any families where the parents don't take a second job when the first one leaves them still in financial crisis.
As for the cuts to be made, those who have hoped for government to fail are now touting the notion that it's "only 3 percent," which should be a double-edged argument: If the difference is inconsequential, why so passionate about the need to make those cuts?
And if 3 percent won't hurt, then let's hike your taxes by that much. You won't even notice it!
In any case, yesterday's discussion of people assembling their own facts pertains here, as does the chickenshit notion that "fair coverage" means blaming everyone equally.
"On the Media" devoted a segment specifically to coverage that goes out of its way to pretend both sides are equal. And, predictably, the comments are full of "nuh-uh" arguments, though, the commenters being NPR listeners, they spell more of the words correctly.
Also on the topic of making judgements:
More entertaining, since it only involves playing with a handful of people's lives instead of the well-being of an entire nation, is cartoonist response to the raft of amateur judging that continues in South Africa.
Zapiro offered this gem:
While Madam & Eve turned it into a parlour game:
M&E has also (as seen here before) compared it to the OJ Simpson case, but I get the feeling that Pistorius has more standing than OJ, if only because he is a current star rather than a former star turned somewhat beloved actor.
While the charge and several circumstances seem to link OJ and Oscar, public response seems more along the lines of Lance Armstrong, with people desperate to believe any explanation except guilt.
And finally today: