October 4, 2013. The Debt Ceiling Crisis - The lifeboat is sinking and the clowns are in charge.
Imagine you're in a lifeboat with about 30 others. You have been drifting for about a week, with no oars. The lifeboat is leaking and slowly sinking. No one seems to be in charge, though there are people onboard with titles and degrees. No one organizes regular bailing, but some of those onboard bail from time to time. Some do not bail at all, leaving it up to the others. They are thinking about when they get back home, and getting back to their day trading, and flipping houses. There is one guy onboard who comments on how the water in the lifeboat is getting deeper, which means the lifeboat is sitting deeper in the water. No one pays any attention to him, but you notice that he is right.
The amount of freeboard is steadily decreasing. This means that even smaller waves can now wash over the top of the lifeboat. You think back to something you heard one time..... "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning". You noticed the sky was red that morning, and you know that means a storm is coming.
Many of the others in the lifeboat have duffel bags with them. You wonder if any of them contain much that can help you survive. You wonder if the owners will share their contents. You wonder if there was a qualified captain in charge, if the law of the sea would require that everything be shared. Then one guy opens his duffel bag and tries to sell a warm coat, but no one has his asking price so he puts it away. You lean forward with your knees bent, and your head resting on your knees, and have a nap.
When you awaken, you notice the wind has picked up, and that there are dark clouds on the horizon and a storm is surely coming. You also notice that some of the passengers are now dressed in clown suits, with their faces painted. What some of them had in their duffel bags is now apparent. And though they seemed intelligent before, these few are now mostly making silly jokes and talking meaningless nonsense. Those who are not clowns have apparently given the clowns the authority to be in charge of the lifeboat.
If the boat isn't bailed out immediately and a sea anchor isn't rigged up to keep the boat pointed into the growing wind and waves, capsizing is imminent. The clowns decide it is a good time to give everyone extra rations and to arrange some entertainment. This is Washington, October, 2013.