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Dear Susan, welcome back to the reality-based community

by: Eric B.

Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 10:39:14 AM EST

I don't normally take back the bad things I say about people, especially when they're funny, but I'd like to today take back the time I said that Teh Demas was a tequila-swilling drunk. I don't remember the context under which I said it, and it's still funny, but I'd like to take it back as an olive branch for what's been a string of excellent opinion pieces involving what has become a political party chiefly for lunatics. The latest one involves the fiscal cliff.

That's because the deal does little to shrink the deficit, especially by keeping the Bush tax cuts for all but about the top 1 percent -- those people banking $400,000 or more a year. (Yes, tax cuts add to the deficit). Taxes were raised on about 77 percent, however, as 2-percent payroll tax expired. 

But cutting the deficit wasn't the goal. Staving off a double-dip recession was. And that's why Obama decided the deal that has some modest stimulus measures, like extending unemployment benefits -- but forgoes tax and entitlement reform for a grand bargain -- was worth it. The alternative was driving the U.S. and world economies off a cliff.

This also lays bare as silly the idea of a balanced budget amendment. There are reasons why we might want to run budget deficits, extraordinary circumstances like wars and recessions where spending more than what the government takes in for the short term is necessary for long-term prosperity. A balanced budget amendment is like insisting that one year in the red means a business ought to declare bankruptcy and start liquidating assets.

But, here, she's absolutely correct. The point wasn't to reduce deficits. The point was to prevent an explosion of austerity and tax hikes that would have crippled the economy. We can address deficit spending when it's no longer needed.

As for the nation's long-term debt, that's a different story.

Update! ... Teh Demas in her column mentioned a couple of times the windmill tilting revolt by Lil' Fella over the other day's vote for the Speakership. The usually loathesome John Podheretz deals with this.

Then came talk that Boehner should be fired as speaker of the House when the time came to vote in the new speaker yesterday afternoon. Yet none of the insurgents was brave enough to stand against him; instead, a bunch of them cast nonsense votes for someone else or refused to vote at all.

In so doing, they came close to handing Boehner a humiliating and entirely destructive defeat — forcing a second ballot and leaving their own party leader critically injured. They seemed to crave disorder.

This is how people who are more comfortable on the margins than in the middle of things behave. This is cannibalism, not political combat. This is unreason, not reason. This is temper, not temperament.

That's Lil' Fella for you ... called to the carpet for casting a nonsense vote that damaged his own party's leadership.

My guess? Republicans in the 3rd District are waiting to see how the grand jury investigation into Jase Bolger's conduct in the Roy Schmidt scandal plays out, and if he comes out mostly clean they'll start priming him for a primary run in 2014.

Eric B. :: Dear Susan, welcome back to the reality-based community
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