One trick politicians use to bamboozle the taxpaying public is to take certain expenses “off the books”. The numbers are then not added to the “on the books” total. This allows the lying bounders to pretend that they are wasting less of our hard-earned than they actually are.

Regrettably, this plays into a very common psychological trait of humans: if we don’t see it over here, we kinda sorta forget it’s really right there. Rather like setting your watch or alarm clock five minutes fast to make sure you aren’t running late (full disclosure: Mr. Blunt and Cranky does this).

We bring this up today to remind everyone about the origins of the federal budget deficit. It is a favored rhetorical technique of politicos to select certain portions of the truth to create better lies. This example: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were, during the Reign O’ The Shrub, kept off the books. This allowed the administration to claim that the budget deficit was lower than it really was.

When Obama came in, he put the wars on the books, which appeared to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit: of course, it did no such thing. The actual deficit was unchanged by this rare act of transparency. But the politicians have used it as a cudgel ever since by claiming that Obama raised the deficit yadayadayada.

Gentle Readers, watch out for this little shell game when your “representatives” give you an “accounting” of how they are “managing” your money. On or off the books, we still have to pay their bills eventually.

Mr. B & C