THE BOY WHO CRIED MANUFACTURED DRAMA

Having somehow survived the harrowing twin ordeals of the Debt Ceiling and the Fiscal Cliff, it is with stoic hearts that we stare down the gaping maw of the Sequester. Now that we've been down the "OMG there's a deadline and this is such a crisis!" road a few times the script feels pretty uninspired – the cable news coverage (with clocks counting backward menacingly), the grandstanding legislators, the screaming lobbyists, the grave punditry, and the USA Today-style graphics, all leading up to a last minute "compromise" that will be lauded by all and sundry. It seems like the Great Sequestration Showdown of '13 just hasn't gripped the viewing public with the same intensity as previous installments of this drama. Or perhaps that's just me editorially projecting my own staggering lack of interest in seeing yet another iteration of this tired dog-and-pony show.

This makes me feel guilty, as I know this is important. Not only am I supposed to find this interesting, I am also responsible for convincing young tuition-paying people that it is interesting. The problem is…it isn't. This is a pattern; a new normal of Republican brinksmanship in which the party shouts "Do as I say or I'll shoot!" while pressing a gun to its own temple. Despite the Tea Party-led chants ("Pull the trigger! Pull the trigger!") they will chicken out at the last second. The Democrats, given what they have become, will give them half of what they want anyway, because Bipartisanship and Good Faith and Cookies. And we will end up with more bad policy, another bill designed to shower money on people who are important while also making Tough Choices and cutting spending to show that we are Serious People. Being neither all one thing nor all the other, it will accomplish nothing.

And not an hour will pass until we are warned in ominous tones of the date of the next looming showdown, hopefully coinciding with the Memorial Day summer blockbuster release schedule. Be still, my heart.

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38 Responses to “THE BOY WHO CRIED MANUFACTURED DRAMA”

  1. ladiesbane Says:

    That "important" no longer implies "interesting" is so counter-survival…is fascinating, I guess. Is it because we pay so much attention to The Newz™ That Cried Wolf? Is it that we're so undereducated at the primary level that we don't know what's what? Is it that laws, econ, and the tax code are so Byzantine that the words have lost all meaning?

    No wonder we're all stacked like glazed doughnuts in front of our TVs and computers and Wiis and kegs and Kindles and Hulu and Netflix. Oh, you wascawwy wabbit! is much more meaningful as well as comprehensible.

  2. LK Says:

    By the time I got to the Tea-Party chant I was laughing so hard I had to stop reading. This is the most I've laughed in weeks.

    Thank you.

  3. Nunya Says:

    So Ed, for the first time in a long time, I'll add nothing more than this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVzp4MJRKHc

    You're doing good things for good people. Keep it up. You make a difference.

  4. Middle Seaman Says:

    So, not watching TV news or reading papers is a major disadvantage in the W/Obama stone age. Turning to the weather on TV makes you go through some sequestering. It's not clear, however, whether the danger is to people, the banana grope or circus acts.

    But then, we are governed by people who nominated Kerry and Hagel seriously important position. Both being accomplished idiots one of them even an anti-Semitic idiot.

    Where are Clinton's sex scandals when we need them. We talked about cigars, the country was flush with money and the president showed the Republicans who is boss.

  5. Tim H. Says:

    I wonder what the Democrats will use as their sorry excuse for pandering to the .02% if the tea party succeeds in making the GOP irrelevant?

  6. c u n d gulag Says:

    Back in the day, there was "Russian Roulette."
    There was one bullet in the gun, with 4 or 5 empty chambers.
    And the person pointed the gun at his/her own head.

    Today, our Republican politicians are playing what I'll call "Confederate Roulette."
    Every chamber in the gun has a bullet.
    And the Conservative politicians point the gun at the economy, and makes his/her demands.

    Today's Republicans are no longer your parent's GOP (Grand Old Party), they are the new GOP (Geriatric Over-reaching Paranoids) – or, maybe the NCP (New Confederate Party).

    Hell, they're not Republicans anymore – they are Nihilists and Anarchists.

    Now, not every Republican is a racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, a homophobe, a dimwit, a halfwit, a nitwit, and/or a f*ckwit.
    But every racist, misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe, dimwit, halfwit, nitwit, and/or f*ckwit, is a Republican.

    And if the entire country, or even the world, is destroyed, as long as a Conservative is the last one standing on the rubble, that person will feel that the Conservative cause had won, and every Conservative had been vindicated in their war on progress and Liberalism.

    And that last Conservatives final words will be, "I'd rather rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven!!!"*

    *h/t – Dante.

  7. Anonymouse Says:

    This, exactly: "This is a pattern; a new normal of Republican brinksmanship in which the party shouts "Do as I say or I'll shoot!" while pressing a gun to its own temple." It's like a bunch of cranky toddlers.

  8. Tim H. Says:

    Ah, like Cleavon Little, only not funny.

  9. Rick Massimo Says:

    Anonymouse: I was gonna go with "abusive, alcoholic spouses." After all, they don't want all this conflict and drama. All we have to do is let them do what they want and everything will be peaceful and quiet. Don't we want that? Wouldn't that be nice? But no. Ever since Obama took office there's been nothing but conflict and strife. Why does he want all that? Why do we want to stir things up like that by voting for him?

    God, it makes my skin crawl just typing that.

  10. jon Says:

    The sequester is a direct result of a Republican Congress being unwilling to pay for the spending a Republican Congress approved. That was the debt ceiling debacle in a sentence, and it's still the beginning and the solution to this fake crisis. Concern about the debt when there's a chance non-rich people might be helped by government is the Republican playbook's go-to option in all situations.

    The Democratic response has been to deal with those nitwits for the good of the country. I wish Obama and Co would stop taking one for the team and let the economy stall under GOP demands, but I know he'd be blamed for it.

  11. BrianK Says:

    They're just re-enacting the end of the New Sheriff scene from Blazing Saddles, where Bart takes himself hostage.

    http://youtu.be/upvZdVK913I?t=2m43s

    "Ooh, baby, you are so talented. And they are so dumb."

  12. Dick Nixon Says:

    Ever notice when "tough choices" just "have to be made" that it is the poor and vulnerable who bear the brunt of "sacrificing for the public good"?

    I thought you did.

  13. DH Says:

    Please don't feel guilty. I've stopped paying any attention to this crap too and don't feel badly about it at all. Because, really, what is my paying attention going to do to change anything? The asshats in charge will do what they are going to do and I will deal with the consequences when they arrive. At least by ignoring it I'm not feeding the media beast that produces the faux drama that surrounds these things.

  14. Number Three Says:

    Ed,

    I know, especially about the tuition-paying people . . . I am finding it almost impossible to take the material in Public Policy seriously this semester, b/c it's almost inconceivable that any of the actual policy proposals that we discuss can be enacted under our current political regime. And then, in that futile effort to be balanced, when I try to present the "best face" of the Ryan budget or something like the move in the states to sales taxes instead of income taxes . . . just saying what the policies will, in fact, do is enough to call into question not only the sanity of the people proposing these things, but my own. It's like those focus groups that refused to believe what the Ryan budget would do to Medicare over time–no one would propose such an odious policy!

    I can't imagine what it must be like to have to teach a process class! I can't even begin to think how one would lecture on, say, Senate floor procedure (really an unbelievable mess!) or committees on the Hill (are they important?).

    Once you start to try to objectively describe how the system works, it's almost like reading the Necronomicon or something . . . it drives you insane!

    Best, #3

  15. zach Says:

    The current Continuing Resolution Expires on March 27th, and the debt ceiling expires again in mid-May. If you think you're fatigued now, just wait!

  16. anotherbozo Says:

    @ Dick Nixon: the great Ironist in the Sky has timed the wide release of "A Place at the Table," the devastating documentary about hunger in America, for March 1, too.

    The filmmakers were interviewed on The Daily Show last night. When did things turn south on this problem we'd already solved? Their answer: "One word: Reagan."

    Enjoy your meal.

    http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/aplaceatthetable/

  17. mothra Says:

    I noticed that, too, anotherbozo. Was a bit sorry Jon Stewart didn't mention the irony on his show.

    And the SEQUESTER. I stated a while back that it wasn't going to happen. I figured there would be a grand bargain (read: nothing from Repugs, everything from the olds and poors) before March 1, but now I am not positive. Because the Sequester can go into effect, but none of the cuts will really roll into place for another month. So they get to extend the drama. Mind you, they won't let the cuts go into effect, but they'll extend the drama up to the last minute. Think of it as a James Brown encore.

  18. Rosalux Says:

    Word.

    Maybe politics, like, doesn't work if the party you're trying to negotiate with is Hitler-in-the-bunker paranoid and delusional.

    The smart money for anyone trying to get anything does is in the state legislatures, where, in some places, reality still reigns. I don't think anyone – save immigration advocates – have much hope for anything useful coming out of DC in the next 4 years. See what the states can do, see what Obama can do through the agencies, and abandon congress as the rat-infested sinking ship it is.

  19. Rosalux Says:

    This doesn't relate to anything really, but has it ever been explained on this blog what Ed's favorite gin is? Like top favorite (because obviously different cocktails may call for different gins). We're 10 minutes from nuclear holocaust, you've got a tumbler, a bucket of ice and a bottle of gin in front of you. What gin is that? I would probably say Leopold Brothers, though maybe I'd end up with old reliable Tanqueray. There's got to be a previous post on this, right?

  20. JohnR Says:

    Don't think the Powers That Be haven't noticed this widespread lack of shrieking terror, Ed. I understand that the plan is now for Fox to hire Paula Abdul, Ted Nugent and Simon Cowell to host a new reality show featuring discussions of these consequences of Rampant Socialist Immorality. Lots of shocking footage and tastefully-censored full-frontal nudity, of course, because you can't have a shocking show about the horrible effects of Rampant Immorality without examples. I hear the first episode will feature a shocking and graphic depiction of the consequences of The Sequester, which will involve a bunch of topless strippers invading the home of a righteous Conservative Blogger and forcing him at gunpoint to perform numerous degrading and revolting actions of a lascivious nature. The ads should be on TV this weekend, I hear.

  21. Patrick Says:

    Probably not getting resolved until the end of march. That is when we hit the next debt ceiling and the continuing resolution on the budget expires. Since the sequester builds up gradually, it looks to me like Obama had it trigger a month before the other deadlines so that he'll have leverage going into the negotiation.

  22. Da Moose Says:

    I work in DC and got laid off a couple of weeks ago from a terribly shitty job. (read: working with brain dead flat-earthers in Virginia). So…anyways…from my perspective, the reason why the Sequester is making such news within the Establishment is because, unlike the Debt Ceiling and the Fiscal Cliff, it is the first real economic blow that those in DC area are going to feel. This includes the '08 banking crisis. I am all for the sequester even if it means losing my job which it does. DC has become, what I now regularly refer to, as Douchebag City. It is filled with some of the most scum sucking people I have ever encountered and I grew up here (turning 40 this year). DC needs to get a huge slap in the face. I love seeing the right wing assholes just south of here in Hampton Roads look like mommy just took away their bottle. "Hey, when I voted for right wing nutters, I didn't mean for them to take away my military ship building job." (read: redneck backdoor entitlement program) I love seeing federal workers and associated dirt bag contractors finally in a panic—some of the dumbest, most self entitled assholes I've ever encountered. (read: warrantless arrogance) And all this in the backdrop of the recent"small government" supreme court majority ruling in favor of pervasive government surveillance. You can't make this shit up, boys and girls. Letter I recently wrote to my federal bosses to follow shortly….

  23. Da Moose Says:

    Dear USG “leadership,”

    Good afternoon. Today is my last day on this contract. Before I depart, I wanted to let you know how proud I am to say that I was affiliated with this government agency. The profound and extensive professionalism exemplified by your shop was and is a true inspiration for all civil servants. From the weekly confidence building grade reports to the always clear and consistent goal setting, it has been quite exciting to bear witness to these daily examples of USG efficiency. I observed clear executive leadership portrayed by a sense of real urgency in the decisive choices made over the past few months. At no time did I witness money or time being wasted by you or your staff because the forward looking vision was set with piercing clarity.

    Indeed, the ever expanding leadership vacuum in this city as demonstrated by pervasive petty squabbling, the inability to focus on or even understand the larger picture, the inability to have the courage to make any real decision though job security is not in question, the well-practiced art of faux victimization, the lack of urgency in appreciating the need to stick one’s neck out to simply lead, was not to be found at this agency. Additionally, I think any corporation or commercial entity would be envious of how you have struck out on this path of focused goal setting and value added achievement. Finally, the level of professionalism you displayed by treating us as peers (my interaction with Bill on a process form comes to mind in which he displayed an amazing amount of patience using an extensive and deep vocabulary which clearly demonstrated a masterful understanding of the process he oversees) will be missed and reflected upon in conversation for years to come. The only way that I feel that I can repay this agency for the things I’ve learned is to proselytize how wonderful this DHS Component is to as many people as possible. This story needs to be told!

    So, it is with great regret and sadness that I leave this contract. My general impression of how the USG conducts its business has been raised to a height that will probably never be reached again by any organizational entity, government or otherwise. I am certainly more proud to be a US taxpayer and citizen than ever before.

    Thank you!

    Government contractor

  24. sluggo Says:

    @ Da Moose

    Lack of self-awareness and lack of reading skills will ironically land you the best reference of your life.

    Ciao.

  25. Anonymouse Says:

    @Rick, you are right. Upon reflection, "abusive spouse" doesn't even go far enough. More like "Profoundly mentally handicapped and hopped up on some sort of mood-enraging drug". There is simply no reasoning with them because they do not think.

    @Da Moose: I've taken some amusement out of the sheer indignation. "Smaller government doesn't mean MY job. How DARE they?!?"

  26. Da Moose Says:

    @ slugo,

    Not sure what you mean. Are you trying to say that I like self-awareness and lack reading skills? If so, I am not sure what you mean sans the oblique and passive aggressive suggestion that I did not accurately respond to Ed's post. First of all, I readily admit that I am actively working on trying to be more self-aware. I don't think it's possible to be fully self-aware because you'd have to have some sort of supernatural ability to be able to look at yourself in a completely objective fashion which I think is impossible. If, like Anonymouse, you are implying that I am pissed off simply because I lost my job, then you are mistaken. As Ed can probably testify to my many contributions to this board, I have been pissed off for quite sometime even when I was employed.

    As far as employment goes, I am not worried about finding a job so, unlike Anonymouse's implied criticism, I am hardly indignant only because I lost my job. I don't necessarily want smaller government but I do want efficient government. A government should exist only to serve its people. It should not exist to serve itself which is what has happened to our federal government.

    I don't think that I've arrived at the right answer–not even close. But, I do see what I believe to not be working and that is our two party system. I would very much like to see the two party system collapse. If it means we all must starve for a bit, then so be it. Right now, as things stand, the generations to come, both liberal and conservative, are completely fucked. You don't need to be a partisan to understand that fact. You just need an inkling of self-awareness and the indignation to say it at the risk of being criticized by folks who offer up nothing but criticism—probably both boomers.

    Onward Christian Soldiers.

  27. Da Moose Says:

    And if Sluggo is actually Ed trying to impart some wisdom beyond his initial post, go phuck yourself, Dick Cheney. :)

  28. Robert Says:

    I am so glad to not be working for the government of the richest and most powerful country in the history of the world any more.

  29. Xynzee Says:

    My favourite Small Goverment proponents are those w a *.mil in their address.

    Combine this w a rampant adherence to their "Second Amendment" rights…

    The lack of self-awareness is staggering. They do not connect that they are employed by the Fed. In their reality, some how the military budget is separate from the rest of the government.

    Why is there an "un-Constitutional" income tax? Military.
    Why is there a Second? To avoid the costs of a standing military. Though a navy, and by extension the Air Force, with high infrastructure needs makes sense for a Constitutional clause.

  30. Anonymouse Says:

    @slugo's "If, like Anonymouse, you are implying that I am pissed off simply because I lost my job": Uhm, what? I implied no such thing. Where did you get that?

  31. Anonymouse Says:

    @Da Moose: sorry, I wasn't sufficiently caffeinated and thought your post was Sluggo's.

    My point was this: I work right alongside the fed. gov't workers. Many are awesome, but ever since St. Ronnie's time, there's been a growing contingent who whine and whine about the imagined privilege of "others", and ever since the Teatards, have been insisting that not one cent of THEIR taxes should go to pay for government (which is ironic, because their paychecks *come from the gov't*). After sneering at others for years, suddenly they're facing losing some cash and suddenly they're aghast that others are pointing fingers at them.

  32. Da Moose Says:

    @Anonymouse, my apologies. I thought you were saying that I was a hypocrite, which I am. :)Trying to remedy that as much as possible though these days.

  33. Xynzee Says:

    @Anony & Moose:

    This will be an interesting study n'est-ce pas?

    All of these T-baggers who have been bitching about how the unemployed are lazy, and should be drug tested and not be given extension for unemployment, etc etc etc.

    Suddenly will need to pee in said cup. For that wee is thee and not for me.

    Yes, shall be an interesting experiment indeed. Sadly, a deal will be cut, and these anal-pores won't have to suffer what they've asked for.

  34. Anonymouse Says:

    @DaMoose: "@Anonymouse, my apologies. I thought you were saying that I was a hypocrite," No worries, glad we got that cleared up. I enjoy reading your posts and don't think you're a hypocrite.

  35. jjack Says:

    What incentive did the GOP ever have to avoid the sequester? I believe John McCain said in a debate with Obama himself that he would "attack the budget with a chainsaw." Seems like they got exactly what they've been campaigning on for my entire adult life, and all it cost them (that I'm aware of) is a military budget that is only moderately ridiculous (instead of obscenely ridiculous).

  36. jjack Says:

    Oh yeah, and the best part is they can blame Obama even though it's exactly what they wanted all along.

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