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Analogies in the news


Sometimes it's hard to find the right words to explain your position on an issue without sounding like a policy wonk. You come across all, "The profit margins have been decimated, so a contract extension should not be forthcoming blah blah blah," and you notice that the person you're talking to has gone to sleep. So what do you do instead? You use an analogy, like a normal human being, and say, "Hell, letting Ken Lewis keep his job would be like going back to the mechanic that ruined your transmission." Point made, point understood, if not necessarily agreed with. There are a lot of issues out there, and there's a big pile of dry-as-dust information to back up every side of every one of them. So we've cut to the chase on some recent issues and offer analyses and opinions, analogy-style.

• Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman deals with budget cuts by laying off hundreds of teachers. It's like a guy who can't afford shoes anymore so he cuts off his feet.

• Gorman follows up his firings by running want ads for 250 available jobs. It's as if after he had finished slapping some people silly, he went back and spit in their faces.

• Bank of America, which received $45 billion in taxpayer bailout money, is reportedly doling out millions in bonuses to various executives. It's like if your neighbor's house burned down and you loaned him money to build a new one, and then you find out he's giving part of your money to the guy who set the fire.

• Local television stations go utterly nuts, as in "apparently trying to scare the hell out of their viewers," in reporting on something as routine as summer afternoon thundershowers in a Southeastern city. It's as if they broadcast a terrifying, graphics-laden report about people outside their studios who've been seen engaging in a mysterious activity called "inhaling and exhaling."

• GOP officials in South Carolina apologize for making racist statements, such as the one about an escaped gorilla being an ancestor of Michelle Obama. It's as if dogs apologized for chewing bones, or doing any of the other instinctive things that come naturally to them.

• Sarah Palin griped loud and long over David Letterman's joke about her daughter supposedly being "knocked up" by baseball star Alex Rodriguez. Letterman apologized for the "lousy joke," but considering the hatefulness of Palin's rhetoric during the past presidential campaign, her complaints were like a vampire grumbling about a mosquito bite.

• Senators working on health care reform but who oppose a "public option" -- in which people who can't find affordable insurance could enroll in a publicly funded plan such as the one now enjoyed by members of Congress -- say that a wide variety of private insurers will guarantee consumers a fair deal. That's like slashing funds for police protection with the explanation that "there are so many different gangs, they'll be too busy fighting each other to bother with killing you."

• Mecklenburg County commissioners cut spending by, among other things, closing libraries on Sundays, one of the library system's busiest days. In terms of providing essential services to the community, it's as if they decided to cut off everyone's air conditioning three hours a day.

• North Korea threatens to launch a missile over Japan and toward Hawaii. It's like one of the Little Rascals bragging that he's going to show those grown-ups who's boss by shooting a rock with his new slingshot, over the 10-story building next door and onto the sidewalk near the skyscraper two lots over.

• Neoconservatives like Charles Krauthammer, John McCain and the Wall Street Journal editorial writers -- all of whom, until two weeks ago, wanted the United States to bomb "Axis of Evil" charter member Iran -- now slam President Obama for supposedly not supporting the Iranian protesters enough. It's as if Hitler's supporters suddenly became passionate about saving democratic traditions in France.

• FoxNews, which used to run ads bragging about its "unprecedented access" to the Bush White House while kowtowing to the administration's every whim, now condemns ABC News -- which ran a special this week in which President Obama answered questions on health care reform -- for its "unprecedented access" and kowtowing to the current administration. It's as if Microsoft's Bill Gates gnashed his teeth and accused Apple's Steve Jobs of being "obscenely wealthy."

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