The Debt Ceiling, Fail-Safe, and Fire Ants

Jonathan Alter has a nice piece at Bloomberg on the debt ceiling.

Alter gets some bonus points for his discussion of the wonky Fail-Safe, though not as many as if he’d mentioned the 1962 novel and not just the 1964 film. I’ve read the novel several times since discovering it in our middle school library. I like it a lot. The movie, which I saw at Film Forum a few years ago is not as good as the novel, but the novel sets a high bar (for the sort of thing it is anyways).  The plot and conclusion (no spoilers!) are still profoundly upsetting in the film version, but the back-story is not explained as effectively. IMDB points out that the movie will air next Saturday, July 9, on TCM at 8 P.M. It’s also coming to Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade theater as part of a retrospective on director Sidney Lumet later this month, where there will be a Q&A with screenwriter Walter Bernstein.

(The live television adaption in 2000 was technically interesting and impressive, but ultimately not as good as either the novel or the movie. The sometimes odd casting choices did it no favors.)

But returning to the article, the part about Grover Norquist is fun:

Norquist Looms

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader recently described by Alan Simpson as “the most powerful man in America, including the president,” has convinced the majority of House members to sign his pledge to oppose all tax increases. He’ll fight even these fail-safe triggers, just as he fought them under the first President Bush.

But even being the dark prince of the GOP doesn’t prevent Stephen Colbert from stealing the show right from under you, though Norquist has a pretty good comeback:

(When Stephen Colbert asked Norquist this week whether he would support a tax increase if it would save grandmothers from being bitten to death by angry fire ants, he said: “I think we console ourselves with the fact that we have pictures and memories.”)

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