Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Sharp Tool With a Smooth Handle

The Inaugural bullshit is over. Long live the eternal campaign bullshit.

It's time to forget about Selma and Seneca Falls and Stonewall. It's time, once again, to dust off the whips and chains and scolds' bridles for the little people, and call them gifts. In this week's radio address, your President signals whose side he is really on. (Hint: it ain't yours.) Just pretend you're a fly on the wall in the boardroom of Goldman Sachs, and that he's talking directly to the annual convention of the Plutocratic Mafia.
Hi, everybody. Here in America, we know the free market is the greatest force for economic progress the world has ever known. But we also know the free market works best for everyone when we have smart, commonsense rules in place to prevent irresponsible behavior.
Greed is eternally good, and you guys will always be protected under my watch. We know the stock market works best only for obscenely rich people. We have tepid rules that fool the hoi polloi into thinking the government is on their side. These rules do nothing to prevent crime, because the lawyers  that you and I share in common made sure to decriminalize fraud a long time ago with the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Irresponsible, prankish behavior is the worst you can ever possibly do, even when you launder money for drug cartels. We'll slap you wiseguys with a pitiful fine and announce it in the New York Times, and pretend we're cracking down on you. Your grateful checks may be made payable to Organizing for Action, my astroturf 501(C)4 slush fund. Thanks to Citizens United, which I am not fighting, all donations may remain anonymous. Or maybe I'll give you a cabinet position or an ambassadorship or other phony job to give you the continued influence-peddling access to my esteemed rock star persona to which you have become accustomed
That’s why we passed tough reforms to protect consumers and our financial system from the kind of abuse that nearly brought our economy to its knees. And that’s why we’ve taken steps to end taxpayer-funded bailouts, and make sure businesses and individuals who do the right thing aren’t undermined by those who don’t.
I am lying through my blinding toothsome teeth. Dodd-Frank does nothing to end taxpayer bailouts for you. You are covered in perpetuity. You are still too big to fail and too big to jail. Didn't you hear what Lanny Breuer said on Frontline the other night? Well, consider this little chat damage control. My second term job description is continuing to lie to the chumps who still think I'm on their side. Hell, only a third of financial reform is even in effect, and you guys are doing a pretty good job of making sure even the few good parts will never see the light of day. That's what congress critters and friendly judges are for. To be bribed, er, I mean to have their campaigns financed.
But it’s not enough to change the law – we also need cops on the beat to enforce the law. And that’s why, on Thursday, I nominated Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Richard Cordray to continue leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Mary Jo White has decades of experience cracking down on white-collar criminals and bringing mobsters and terrorists to justice. At the SEC, she will help complete the task of reforming Wall Street and keep going after irresponsible behavior in the financial industry so that taxpayers don’t pay the price. 
Pay no attention to Matt Taibbi, who spilled the beans about how Mary Jo put the kibosh on SEC investigations of her white collar criminal clients. Notice how careful I am to say she will only go after "irresponsible" behavior. At the most there will be a paltry slap on the wrist now and again. There will be no perp walks. There is no criminal behavior on Wall Street! Cracking down? It's a wonder I'm not cracking up -- heh heh heh. But seriously. I am not telling what I scored on the Psychopath Test. Same for the Machiavellian Scale. I make it a point never to release any of my grades. But just between you and me, I'm so High-Mach that it's like a drug for me.
Richard Cordray is a champion for American consumers. After the Senate refused to allow Richard an up-or-down vote when I nominated him in 2011, I took action to appoint him on my own. And since then, he’s helped protect Americans from predatory lenders, launched a “Know Before You Owe” campaign to help families make smart decisions about paying for college, and cracked down on credit card companies that charge hidden fees. But Richard’s appointment runs out at the end of the year, and in order for him to stay on the job, the Senate needs to finally give him the vote he deserves.
OK, so Richard is not nearly as corrupt as Mary Jo. In fact, he is basically an honest guy, or he was until I co-opted him. But the Consumer Bureau is basically toothless. It's "loosely attached" to Treasury, which you should be pleased to know will soon be run by a former Citigroup guy who enriched himself on bailout money, same as you guys. So no worries there. Sure, there are some mortgage servicing rules you might have to follow so we can pretend to protect the rubes. But the kicker is there is no apparatus in place to actually enforce them. "Cracking down" in Obama-speak is translated as cracking up, remember?
As President, my top priority is simple: to do everything in my power to fight for middle-class families and give every American the tools they need to reach the middle class.
Sorry, guys, sorry, I think I really did OD on the High-Mach meds this morning. But somebody has to do damage control on that Frontline documentary. The proles are already onto the fact that I used the FBI to grind up their Occupy faces instead of probing your asses. What it all comes down to is I am the tool that fools. I'm the tool with the smooth handle. I'm the tool you need to reach the middle class and the working class and the underclass and grab everything they own and see to it that they work or sicken till they die. I croon to the masses that I am so in love with them. I'm the populist Novocaine that deadens their pain so that you plutes can get on with your extractions.
That means bringing in people like Mary Jo and Richard whose job it is to stand up for you. It means encouraging businesses to create more jobs and pay higher wages, and improving education and job training so that more people can get the skills that businesses are looking for. It means reforming our immigration system and keeping our children safe from the menace of gun violence. And it means bringing down our deficit in a balanced way by making necessary reforms and asking every American to pay their fair share.
Yes, Mary Jo will stand up for you, my Lords of Finance. I will obsequiously ask you to create a few crappy jobs and pay people higher pittances. But rest assured. The government will do nothing to solve the jobs crisis. I will never say a word about raising the minimum wage, or suggest  anything so horrific as a Living Wage Law to cut into your bottom lines. Because the comfort of your pampered butts is my top priority. Now that Harry Reid has conveniently caved on filibuster reform and I made sure to praise him anyway, stuff that helps regular, struggling people will never get through the Senate. The Republicans are just the figleaf I need to maintain the status quo. No immigration reform, no gun reform, but I will be seen as "trying." And yeah, despite what Krugman says, I am still the Deficit Hawk in Chief. I will cut the deficit that is getting better on its own, simply because I can. I will slash Social Security and the safety net and call it "reform." I will make sure that every serf pays through the nose. Rest easy, my lieges.  
I am honored and humbled to continue to serve as your President. And I am more hopeful than ever that four years from now – with your help – this country will be more prosperous, more open, and more committed to the principles on which we were founded.
As Cornel West famously said, I am a "Rockefeller Republican in blackface" and I will continue to serve Wall Street with impunity. With my propaganda and your untaxed corporate money, this country will be even more unequal by the time I leave office and cash in. I have my whole life ahead of me. We are still committed to the principles by which we were founded, rules that still have some people being more equal than others. Our neoliberal, plutocrat-funded Third Way and Hamilton Project think tanks and gridlocked Congress will ensure that the rich will get richer, and only the poor will go to jail. America already imprisons more people than were ever incarcerated in Stalin's Gulag. That's the American way.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
I know I will. Four more years of them. And then a well-rewarded lifetime of them.


Denis Neville said...

Our democracy bubble

Heed the messages from the Deadheads in Davos and Obama. We are not welcome among them. We have no sovereignty where they gather. Obama has renounced the Democratic Party’s traditional belief in government as a means of achieving economic justice. Plutocracy is cool! Grotesque inequality and contempt for common men and women will be tolerated.

Franklin Roosevelt is spinning in his grave. A Democratic President “providing relief not for the needy but for the greedy.”

Bring true representative democracy to an end. Instead, give the American people real democracy – the democracy of unfettered free markets.

Make the world safe for billionaires – deregulation, privatization, globalization, free-trade.

And just as J. P. Morgan, Jr.’s servants had to snip out all pictures of FDR from the newspaper before he would read it, so do Wall Street’s Washington uberservants seek to scrub out the last vestiges of FDR’s still hated New Deal.

We once believed that certain things - education, jobs, housing, health care, pensions, Social Security and Medicare - could and should be available to everyone living in a democratic society, whether obtained through union membership or government programs. They would be ours simply by virtue of being citizens of this great nation.

Instead, there is the free market utopia of scoundrels and fools - the very philosophy that got us into trouble in the first place.

If we are Rome, Wall Street is our Coliseum.

Pearl said...

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars."--Will Durant in Caesar and Christ

James F Traynor said...

Civilization, as we describe it, hasn't been around that long, 5000 years or so. And the present form of our species has only been around for about 200,000 years. So actually what we call ancient history is, geologically speaking, less than a blink of an eye ago. To call it 'ancient' history is laughable; Greece, Rome, China, India - all just yesterday. And we've learned nothing from it. And it's really hilarious when you realize that we have had the temerity to invent religion and patriotism which is a kind of self denial of the most enormous kind. Remarkable.

Will said...

Hey everybody.

No cursing, no ranting, just wanna post a video I saw today. Prepare to be even more terrified of the Surveillance State than you were before. (I mean, that's the whole point of the video, right? To scare the beans out of us? Jeepers creepers!)

Zee said...


Ré: Argus

I think that I've seen it passing over my backyard hot-tub.

Hope they enjoyed the view of two portly seniors--in bathing suits, no less--sipping Chardonnay on a sunny Sunday afternoon!

Seriously, you are very RIGHT to be worried, but this is only the technology THAT THEY CHOOSE TO TELL US ABOUT.

What else is up there in the sky that's spying on you right through your roof?

Denis Neville said...

Will, prepare to be even more terrified:

Noah Shachtman and Robert Beckhusen, “11 Body Parts Defense Researchers Will Use to Track You,”

“It may be possible to distinguish our "primary odor" - separate from "secondary" odors based on our diet and "tertiary" odors based on things like soaps and shampoos. The primary odor is the one linked to our genetics, and there have already been experiments with mice, which have been found to produce distinct scents unique to individuals.”

Nightmare-inducing Darpa, the AlphaDog robot,

The above reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s “The Mechanical Hound.”

In Bradbury’s dystopia, “The Mechanical Hound” has been made into a watchdog of society and the enforcer of society’s rules. It is programmed to punish citizens who are not loyal and who break the rules. It is capable of storing "so many amino acids, so much sulphur, so much butterfat and alkaline" that it can inexorably trail the odor index of ten thousand victims to their doom.

“The mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the fire house. The dim light of one in the morning, the moonlight from the open sky framed through the great window, touched here and there on the brass and copper and the steel of the faintly trembling beast. Light flickered on bits of ruby glass and on sensitive capillary hairs in the nylon-brushed nostrils of the creature that quivered gently, its eight legs spidered under it on rubber padded paws.

Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house areaway. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentle paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the hound to inject massive jolts of morphine or procaine.”

“That's sad," said Montag, quietly, (referring to The Hound) "because all we put into it is hunting and finding and killing. What a shame if that's all it can ever know.”

Zee said...


Although I am a great Bradbury fan, I have no recollection of the "mechanical hound" from Fahrenheit 451. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

I think that it was you who quoted Bradbury in this forum as saying "I wasn't trying to predict the future. I was trying to prevent it," Fahrenheit 451

Well, I guess that Bradbury failed.

We have met his future, and they have won.