Some of you may share my frustration at what’s going on in the US. I’m hugely disturbed that the country that serves as the anchor for the world economy can be brought to its knees by a handful of loons. The founding fathers of the US had some clever ideas about how to structure a republic (particularly in the face of on-going fears of tyranny), but they certainly weren’t precogs. I cannot believe that they could have anticipated the inmates that have taken over the Congress asylum. These representatives, pumped up on conspiracy theories, partisan news coverage, and good ol’ time religion will do anything to achieve their goals (even if their goals don’t actually follow a coherent ideology). It’s as if they’ve combined the worst parts of Atlas Shrugged, The Conscience of a Conservative[i] and the Bible (the genocidal parts) to generate an ideology that must not be questioned.
But among the depression, at least we can laugh at just how crazy these people are.
The most current example of their illogic and intransigence is the government shutdown, in which representatives who “fell off the right side of the earth”[ii] shut down the Government because some laws were passed that they didn’t like.[iii] It’s the political equivalent of strapping a bomb to your chest in the middle of a busy train station and threatening to blow yourself up (and everyone else in the vicinity) unless people give you stuff you want.
I’ve started with one of the more extreme analogies (though you can see the parallels if you substitute a busy train station for the US economy), but let’s take it down a notch.
I first heard this one on Piers Morgan’s show from Debbie Wasserman (Chair of the Democratic National Committee) – though her delivery wasn’t particularly clear. It seems to have come from this NBC piece and runs:
“But here’s the reality: Whether it’s veterans’ benefits or the memorial closure, you can’t close a grocery store and then be “outraged” that the bread aisle isn’t open.”
It’s been called a “game of political chicken” by a number of sources, but Jon Stewart had a better take.
“I’m all for a pox on both their houses when appropriate, but this is not a game of chicken. This is when someone is driving to work, and there’s a car coming directly at them in their lane. That’s not a game of chicken. That’s an asshole causing a head-on collision.”
False “balance” is a story for another day, but I will say how depressed I am that Republicans can (with a straight face) complain about being blamed for shutting down the federal government when they went around telling everyone that they wanted to “shut down the federal government.”
Michelle Bachmann was quoted by the Washington Post as saying “We’re very excited. It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it.” While’s she’s perhaps one of the craziest, running around telling everyone how giddy she is about being a dick, those who have a preference for defending the indefensible have tried a different approach. Ted Cruz (Tea Party darling) and his mates at Fox News have instead attempted to label it the Obama-Reid Shutdown because the President and the Senate majority leader refused to “negotiate”. College Humour explains how this line of reasoning works:
Meanwhile, Stewart gave us another analogy that helps provide some perspective.
“Did you see the Giants game on Sunday? Okay they lost 31 – 7. And you know what the Giants didn’t say after that game? If you don’t give us 25 points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the fucking NFL! They didn’t say that!”
I had high hopes for any analogy that involved Ferris Bueller, but it seems like Buzzfeed has too many interns working their desks and lost me completely.
The Huffington post got in on the act with a cracking soda machine analogy: It works best in its entirety, but in essence, a majority of workers want the soda machine that has been offered by management. They’re asked again and again and every time vote in favour of the soda machine, but Bill from accounting hates soda. Bill’s response?
“OK, I’M NOT PROCESSING PAYROLL ANYMORE UNTIL THE SODA MACHINE IS REMOVED,”
However, my favourite analogy involves baseball – something I understand even less than the machinations of Republican politics. Georgia Lawyer Paul J Kaplan wrote to his representative (Jack Kingston (R/Teaparty) suggesting that the solution to the Atlanta Braves losing to the LA Dodgers in the recent playoffs was to “outlaw Major League Baseball until the Dodgers cave (relinquish the title).”
Jack Kingston responded with a letter that looks like it was written by a daggy dad with a love for bad sporting puns. I’ll leave the baseball analysis to the experts, but it seems that “Hardball” doesn’t think much of the representative’s suggested approach:
“So, as far as I can tell, the Republican Kingston is suggesting that the opposition — be it the Dodgers or Democrats — execute a bunt. A play which makes no tactical sense, would be self-defeating and would serve no one’s interests other than the Braves/Republicans.
Man, this analogy approximates reality even better than we first thought.
[i] Pity they ignored Goldwater when he said “I am frankly sick and tired of the political preachers telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D.”
[ii] Senator Jon Tester (D, MT)on the Rachel Maddow Show 17/10/2013
[iii] Note that while the shutdown has been resolved, it’s only for a short period of time, so we can look forward to going through this again real soon.