The more I study 20th Century Political Nuttitude, the more I conclude that humans can convince themselves of anything. (More)

Squirrels can’t afford to confuse up and down. We live in trees and we have to know whether we’re climbing down to shop for seeds and nuts and other groceries, or climbing up to settle in with the family at the end of the day. Yes, we can scamper up or down a tree with equal ease, but we know which way we’re going.

If only humans were as intelligent.

For example, conservative pundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds says President Obama, not Sen. Ted Cruz and House Republicans, is threatening a government shutdown:

So the Republican-controlled House of Representatives – with the help of a couple of Democrats – has voted to defund Obamacare. In response, President Obama, declaring that the Republicans are “trying to mess with me,” has accused the House of trying to shut down the government.

But the government will only shut down if Obama vetoes the budget that comes to his desk. The House budget funds everything except for implementation of the Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare. In truth, by refusing even to negotiate with the House leadership and threatening to veto a budget that doesn’t fit his own specifications, it is Obama, not the House of Representatives, who is putting the country at risk of a government shutdown.

That’s like saying the bank manager who refuses to hand over the keys to the vault – not the gun-toting robbers – is putting the customers at risk of getting shot. Those gun-toting robbers are entitled to the money in the vault, even if it’s not theirs … just as Republicans are entitled to run the government, even if President Obama won reelection, Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate, and Republicans lost seats in the House in 2012.

In fact the Senate will amend the House resolution, by a simple majority, to restore funding for Obamacare. The Senate will then pass the amended resolution and send it back to the House. That leaves the House a clear choice: pass the Senate’s amended budget resolution that funds Obamacare … or shut down the government.

Of course, Sen. Cruz and House Republicans are already queuing up Plan B: pass a series of smaller funding bills, starting with military, each of which excludes Obamacare. Except the House passed a funding bill for the military last week. So maybe they’ll pass a bill to fund the FAA – gotta keep those airports open when members of Congress want to leave town – or some high-profile agency. But by Reynolds’ looking-glass logic, it will be President Obama and Democrats who pull the trigger … by refusing to yield to Republicans hostage-taking demands.

Reynolds also repeats the stale talking points about the “deeply unpopular” law, even though the Pew Research/USA Today poll he cites shows that most Americans don’t want the law repealed. Greg Sargent dug deeper and found that only Tea Party diehards – voters who dominate GOP primary races – are holding out for repeal. And Reynolds trots out the familiar right-wing meme that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats “crammed it through,” as if there were no 13-month national debate over health care from 2009-2010, when the final votes were held.

But Reynolds isn’t alone. In a much-ballyhooed-by-the-right New York Times story, Robert Pear wrote that Obamacare’s lower health insurance premiums come at a cost of fewer choices:

Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.

From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.

Note those last four words: “in their new health plans.” Pear is comparing the numbers of doctors and hospitals covered in the new federal and state exchange policies with the number of doctors and hospitals covered by existing policies. He ignores the fact that people waiting to enroll for the federal and state exchanges don’t have any health insurance right now.

No, the California state exchange policies won’t cover treatment at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles or other premier private hospitals. But uninsured people in California can’t go to those hospitals now anyway. Rich people with top-of-the-line insurance will still have more health care choices than hardworking families who buy their insurance through Obamacare exchanges. But those newly-Obamacare-insured families will have more choices than they had with no insurance at all.

We squirrels pretty flexible. But I’d pull something if I tried to twist myself in those kinds of upside-down, inside-out, through-the-looking-glass knots.

Good day and good nuts.