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Friday, October 18, 2013

So here we are

If you have ever read comic books, you know that there is usually an uncomfortable issue or two that comes after the 8-part cosmic saga in which our heroes defeat an unstoppable foe. The bad guy usually has a name like BAY-NARR, the Thing That Will Destroy Everything, and when he is reduced to a smouldering carcass, the world feels empty and meaningless.

Back in the 1970s, there was an issue of Howard the Duck titled "What do you do the night after the night you save the universe?" Basically, the duck wandered the city through the wee small hours, hobnobbing with low-lifes and trying not to go mad.

That's where we are now. We're walking aimlessly through the City of Dreadful Night, trying to understand what hit us and how not to be hit again. (Yes, my allusions just went from Steve Gerber to James Thomson. Kindred souls.)

So here we are:
There have always been the wild, vicious voices of the right. The devil on the shoulder of the conservative movement that whispers in its ear, “burn it down, burn it down.” But those voices were to be ignored, humored, tolerated, placated, or just deceived. That was the way of things, and we were protected by the obvious: people who believe foolish things tend to be easy to fool.

Then it all changed. The Republican elite caught a ride on the tiger. But the tiger got sick of waiting for the gazelles it was promised, the gazelles that were always one election away. The tiger was hungry and angry and tired of being used and the longer it waited the more appetizing the elite on its back became. So the tiger got a radio station and a news channel. The tiger got organized and mobilized. And finally the tiger realized it didn’t need someone kicking its sides telling it which way to run and who to eat and when to eat and why it wasn’t time to eat and the time to eat would come, don’t worry, you’ll eat soon enough.

So the tiger ate its master and now here we are.
Indeed. So here we are:
Donors and business leaders, whose words used to carry great weight with candidates ever worried that the money spigot might be turned off, now face a new reality. It’s a Frankenstein syndrome of sorts, in which the candidates they’ve helped fund, directly or indirectly, don’t fear them, and don’t think they need them.
Fred Zeidman, a Texas-based bundler who supported Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, is among those who don’t want to give to party committees right now.

“Why do I want to fuel a fire that’s going to consume us?“ he asked.
So here (by way of Paul Krugman) we are:
You may say that Republicans would be crazy to provoke another confrontation. But they were crazy to provoke this one, so why assume that they’ve learned their lesson?
We should also acknowledge the power of bad ideas. Back in 2011, triumphant Republicans eagerly adopted the concept, already popular in Europe, of “expansionary austerity” — the notion that cutting spending would actually boost the economy by increasing confidence. Experience since then has thoroughly refuted this concept: Across the advanced world, big spending cuts have been associated with deeper slumps. In fact, the International Monetary Fund eventually issued what amounted to a mea culpa, admitting that it greatly underestimated the harm that spending cuts inflict. As you may have noticed, however, today’s Republicans aren’t big on revising their views in the face of contrary evidence.
And here we are:
Earlier this year, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius gave a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, encapsulating recent global history and the end of “The American Century.”

“The world was bipolar with the domination of the United States and the USSR,” Fabius said. “It was then, for a short time, uni-polar, dominated by the United States. In the future, we all want it to become multi-polar, with regulated multi-polarity. For the moment, in my view, it is zero-polar.”

As such, the global cost of this government shutdown shouldn’t be measured in dollars as much as in prestige, some analysts say. And in those terms, the losses were steep.

Joerg Wolf, editor in chief and a foreign policy expert at the Atlantic Community, a Berlin-based think tank, noted that “it is mind boggling that politicians are so slow to see the costs of their actions.”

Wolf wonders if politicians really need to experience the consequences to appreciate them.

“The perception in the United States Congress does seem to be that if a default causes problems for China, that’s China’s problem,” he said. “The U.S. is playing with fire. There will be blowback.”
Here we are.

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;
There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;
The pitiless hours like years and ages creep,
A night seems termless hell. This dreadful strain
Of thought and consciousness which never ceases,
Or which some moments' stupor but increases,
This, worse than woe, makes wretches there insane.

I reached the portal common spirits fear,
And read the words above it, dark yet clear,
"Leave hope behind, all ye who enter here:"

And would have passed in, gratified to gain
That positive eternity of pain
Instead of this insufferable inane.
I've been there for years! :)
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