Saturday, April 25, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

We’re facing Cliffageddon!

Maureen Dowd

By
From page A11 | December 21, 2012 |

The end of the world never comes at a convenient time.

It never comes, for instance, when you’re sitting in front of a blank computer screen trying to think of a column.

But the end is nigh, according to ancient Mayans and Washington mandarins.

We have reached the quivering moment of truth that Jon Stewart calls “Cliffpocalypsemageddonacaust.”

However the Mayan prediction and the fiscal cliff work out in the next few days, I hope we are talking about the end of talking about the end.

It’s tedious to always be suspended in midair, like Wile E. Coyote or Thelma and Louise. The attempts by some to continually whirl the whole American population into a state of apocalyptic excitement are exhausting.

We have enough real cliffhangers – Will Carrie and Brody descend into craziness together or go to a movie and chill, going zero dark flirty at “Zero Dark Thirty”? Will RGIII’s knee buckle against Cleveland on Sunday? – without creating fake ones.

There’s a new American trend in hysteria. Everything now is in italics, punctuated by exclamation points!!! As entertaining as Carrie Mathison’s bouts of hysteria have been in “Homeland,” stirring up hysteria in real life, whether to draw clicks, eyeballs or votes, is not a good idea.

Cliff dwellers in our society may think that facing the guillotine focuses the mind. But the cliff metaphor is so overused it makes me want to walk off one. Don’t even mention Cliff Clavin, Cliff Huxtable, Cliff Robertson, Jimmy Cliff or Heathcliff (either on the moors, in Cliffs Notes or in the funny papers.)

If your Christmas presents don’t come from Amazon in time, you’re going over the gift cliff. If your boyfriend bails, you’re going over the romance cliff. If he comes back, you could be going over the marriage cliff.

Journalists now have to add an extra coup de grace (“Fiscal cliff crash”) or double metaphor (“Clock is ticking for fiscal cliff”) or raffish cartoons to juice things up. The new cover of The Economist features Uncle Sam, waving a Jack Daniels bottle, with the Statue of Liberty, wearing cool shades and smoking a doobie, plunging into the Grand Canyon in a red, white and blue Thunderbird with the license plate “Debt 1.”

Other metaphors have been suggested: “fiscal obstacle course,” ”debt bomb,” ”austerity bomb.” But we’re stuck in the year of cliffian thinking.

There are cliffians, who predict dire consequences if a deal is not reached, and anti-cliffians. But no matter if you’re into Keynes, Krugmania or Ayn Ryanism, looking at things as a cliff is not the most constructive way to live. It’s sheer madness. Apocalypse is a very bad place in which to think clearly about anything.

There are people in both parties who have wanted to keep everything on a war footing for years, a Manichaean battle between good and evil, right and wrong. Every election brings more insanity, hyperbole and demagoguery.

But scaring people is generally not a good way to get people to understand things. It’s like the color-coded warnings for terrorist attacks that lost all meaning amid the fearmongering.

Especially in emergencies, grave crises like a nuclear threat or a terrorist attack, you need calm people who don’t think the world is going to end.

Lincoln wasn’t cliffy. As the new Steven Spielberg movie shows, Lincoln had a goal and pursued it methodically through various means, some shady. He wasn’t interested in hysteria. It had no political use for him.

The BBC examined the etymology of the phrase of the moment. The lexicographer Ben Zimmer discovered that an 1893 editorial in The Chicago Tribune warned: “The free silver shriekers are striving to tumble the United States over the same fiscal precipice.”

Zimmer traced the first use of “fiscal cliff” to the property section of The New York Times in 1957, in an article about people overextending their finances to buy their first home. Ben Bernanke imprinted the term on the public consciousness last February, pointing ominously toward Jan. 1.

But Derek Thompson, the business editor at The Atlantic, told the BBC that if you had to go topographical, a slope or a hill was more accurate.

“You talk about a cliff, it’s extremely sudden and the second you step off the edge you plunge to your death,” he said, adding: “We’re not going to fall off anything.”

Language is important, he said, because it can provoke a panicky deal rather than a smart deal. He suggested that a more apt metaphor might be dieting after bingeing, as in “fiscal fast.”

“There will be a short, sharp recession in early to middle of next year, which is more like falling on your face after fasting too vigorously, and then the economy is going to grow,” he said.

The really bad news is that, even if we survive this abyss, there are more coming, with the debt ceiling cliff and the spending bill cliff dead ahead. Once you start with the cliffs, you can fall into cliffinity — with endless cliff riffs on the horizon.

Cliff talk is not cool talk.

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • So you are telling us.......December 21, 2012 - 10:48 am

    That it is more like a Fiscal Fred or a Fiscal Tom, Dick and Harry. More like a Hail Mary Pass down a slippery slope?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Transportation leaders point to need for funding changes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
Together to remember children lost to violence

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Church offers free Southern Gospel concert

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Summer Spare the Air season set to start

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

‘Cinderella’ carries on despite theater flood

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
3 letters to Vacaville may cost $100,000 to answer

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Suisun City police log: April 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: April 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Food often a conduit to something more

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

San Francisco Catholics deeply divided over archbishop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Colleges starting to offer brewing courses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Hate crime charges for homeless beating suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
SFPD to pay for settlement of wrongful termination suit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

16 students injured when school stage collapses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Thousands march to mark anniversary of Armenian massacres

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man ordered to stand trial for kidnap, rape charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Nuclear launch officers charged in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Supreme Court ruling keeps sex offender registration in place

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Rubio looking to gain support in Iowa

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hep C, HIV cases spike throughout Indiana

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Obama uses hospital funds to help push for Medicaid expansion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hawaii raises smoking age to 21

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Gray should have received medical treatment

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Italy police arrest nine terror suspects in sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Yemen rebels ordered to pull back

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

US completing review of hostage policy following drone strikes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

 
Chaos in the primaries

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

Joy of baseball back in my life

By Deon Price | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: April 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Daughters’ ex is determined to turn their children against her

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

.

Entertainment

Seriously silly, Monty Python reunites for a weekend tribute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

SCC baseball team wins to claim share of BVC title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

 
Ynoa, Butler send Rockies to 6-4 win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Vikings fall to Jaguars 4-3 in 8 innings

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
After working OT in NBA playoffs, Curry, Rose can earn rest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Scott Dixon is chasing IndyCar wins leaders, not spotlight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ducking the spotlight, some stars decide to skip NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Garber: MLS plan in 6 months to expand beyond 24 teams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dortmund, American Pharoah vie for favorite in 141st Derby

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harden, Howard lead Rockets to 130-128 win, 3-0 lead on Mavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Olympic sailing events may be moved from Rio’s polluted bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Canadian Henderson shoots tournament record for LPGA lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bowyer and Stewart looking for good runs at Richmond

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Oregon wins distance medley relay at Penn Relays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Goodell: LA projects viable for bringing back team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former Buckeyes teammates Cook, Sindelar top Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Swafford, Weekley atop Zurich Classic leaderboard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano wins pole at Richmond, his third of the season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Usain Bolt: Gay’s reduced doping ban sends wrong message

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Signups for Saturday, April 25, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B3

.

Business

Winners and losers of the demise of the big Comcast deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
What could McDonald’s do to fix its business?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 3 Comments | Gallery

Durable goods orders up, but business investment falls again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Harley recalls nearly 46,000 motorcycles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comcast abandons Time Warner Cable bid after gov’t pushback

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Cheaper fuel has airlines soaring to record profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Wynn Resorts shareholders: Elaine Wynn won’t return to board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Ford recalls 390,000 cars to fix door latches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
.

Home Seller 4/25/2015

Ask a Designer: decorating with spring pastels

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1 | Gallery

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage slips to 3.65 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for April 25, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3