FOLLOW THROUGH

Posted in Rants on February 11th, 2014 by Ed

Hey! Remember that entire session of Congress – hell, practically an entire calendar year – the GOP spent threatening to force the country to default on its debt and cause a global financial crisis the likes of which the world has never seen? Boy that sure was entertaining, at least to the Teabagger moneymen and the media that covered it breathlessly around the clock.

Well, on Tuesday the House GOP proposed a clean debt limit increase. That is, they did the exact opposite of what they spent a year claiming they would do (and, importantly, exactly what they did for George W. Bush nineteen times). The fact that it's an election year certainly has something to do with it. The fact that they obviously had no intention whatsoever of ever following through on their we'll-kill-the-hostages threat probably has a lot more to do with it.

The troubling thing is that the series of threats, grandstanding, and political Kabuki theater that defined the non-crisis throughout 2013 was front page, screaming headline news. The complete and total surrender that Tuesday's vote represents was barely a blip. Maybe a paragraph on Page 10. We're too busy talking about ice and dead actors. It would seem worthwhile and newsworthy, one would think, to tell viewers and readers, "So it turns out that all of that sound and fury last year was complete, unvarnished bullshit." Maybe that could even be followed up with something like, "Next time they pull this, likely in 2015, we should remember that they're liars and charlatans. While we're at it keep in mind that if you keep electing these people, one day there might be enough lunatics to go through with it."

That wouldn't be Fair and Balanced, though. Both Sides, bipartisanship, compromise, blah blah blah.

This is among the most serious problems with a for-profit media addicted to Breaking News: there is no follow through whatsoever. The first wave of alarmist and often incorrect coverage is all we get. After 72 hours they've moved on to something else and we never hear, for example, "Oh by the way, remember that Benghazi thing? Turned out to be total bullshit. None of that orgy of speculation and accusation turned out to be true." That would be useful to know, right? Instead we have a political and media environment wherein the only thing that matters is making the accusation; eventually you'll be exposed, but the first part is all anyone will hear.

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TANTRUMS

Posted in Quick Hits on February 11th, 2014 by Ed

So my city lost all water service for about 6 hours today. It is back on but we've been advised not to drink or wash in it for 36 hours without first boiling it. Oh, and the city ran out of salt and money to pay the city workers overtime to drive the plows, so our accumulated 8-10" of snow (it hasn't been above freezing in weeks) is turning into a solid, packed-down 3" crust of ice and rock hard snow. Oh, and when I walk to work Tuesday morning the air temperature is predicted to be -11 F.

I mention this as a way of saying "Fuck this place, I'm going to bed" and abrogating my responsibilities for the evening.

It's amusing to watch how much we – and I include myself pointedly here – throw hissy fits when our modern conveniences are taken away. Is this really that big of a deal? Is there not a water boil order in effect every day for like 70% of the world's population? Take away our water or power (or, god forbid, the internet) for a few hours and we act like we're in a walled city under siege, reduced after months of starvation to eating weeds and wallpaper glue.

Of course it's not a matter of what is absolutely essential but of what we are accustomed to. In my case I am bitchy enough to begin with at the prospect of getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work; adding any layers of inconvenience, however trivial, to that process is more than sufficient to raise my hackles.

I think this is what the kids call a first world problem.