Friday, March 29, 2013

Off the Wal-Mart

In case you still needed a reason to boycott Wal-Mart, hate Wal-Mart, protest Wal-Mart, picket Wal-Mart, avoid Wal-Mart like the plague, I think this might finally be the breaking point for those die-hards who still think it's worth it to stand in a sweaty line for an hour to save 10 cents on a bottle of Chinese shampoo.

Store executives, worried about recent bad sales figures and competition in the indigent consumer market from the Dollar Store franchise and Amazon, have hit upon a novel idea to suck every last bit of economic marrow from the emaciated public -- use desperate Wal-Mart shoppers to deliver online orders to the homes of other Wal-Mart customers -- and reimburse them not with a paycheck, but with store coupons that will barely cover the cost of their gas.

Just in time for Easter (and April Fools Day) Reuters has gotten the scoop on this truly rotten egg of an idea hatched in the vulture's nest of a retail board room. According to the reporter, though, the sociopathic plan is simply "radical":

Tapping customers to deliver goods would put the world's largest retailer squarely in middle of a new phenomenon sometimes known as "crowd-sourcing," or the "sharing economy."

A plethora of start-ups now help people make money by renting out a spare room, a car, or even a cocktail dress, and Wal-Mart would in effect be inviting people to rent out space in their vehicle and their willingness to deliver packages to others.

Such an effort would, however, face numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles, and Wal-Mart executives said it was at an early planning stage.
Wal-Mart currently uses carriers like FedEx Corp for delivery from stores - or, in the case of a same-day delivery service called Walmart To Go that is being tested in five metro areas, its own delivery trucks.

"I see a path to where this is crowd-sourced," Joel Anderson, chief executive of in the United States, said in a recent interview with Reuters.

Wal-Mart has millions of customers visiting its stores each week. Some of these shoppers could tell the retailer where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route back home, Anderson explained.

Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers' shopping bill, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages, he added.
Even though Joel Anderson lives inside a bubble within the rotten egg gilded with gold plate, Bloomberg News thinks he deserves credit for thinking outside the Big Box by using slaves with cars and rusted-out pickup trucks to augment Wal-Mart profits and his own multimillion-dollar pay package. Still, will Walmart shoppers be willing to work for nothing?  Will they actually even deliver packages instead of stealing them?What if they cause an accident while clunking across town with loads of guns and ammo, tainted toothpaste, and Chinese dog food? The experts in Brooks Brothers suits with Harvard MBA degrees are at least admitting that their toxic germ of an idea is "fraught." How will people react, for example, when a random Wal-Mart shopper suddenly shows up at their door with their internet order?

 Well, I guess if they're that scared of the Wal-Mart volunteers, they can always call 911, and a volunteer cop will show up at their door. Up in my Ulster County neck of the woods, the cash-strapped town of Saugerties is copy-catting Wal-Mart and and has just started advertising for unpaid police volunteers to write tickets, direct traffic, answer the phones and otherwise free the paid police from such humdrum scut work as minding an army of Wal-Mart couriers.

As I wrote in a previous post, the American plutocracy is yearning for the glory days of feudalism, if not downright slavery. Leave it to the world's largest retailer, whose heirs own more wealth than 40% of all Americans combined, to lead the charge back to the future. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pay to Play, Peasants!

Stung by recent criticism from public interest groups and editorial boards that it was operating a bribery-intensive astroturf slush fund, Organizing for Action has now switched gears in an effort to stay viable. No more acceptance of anonymous, unlimited corporate money -- officially, that is. In a transparent ploy to deflect attacks of corruption and elitism, OFA is mounting a brand-new PR offensive to spread the delusion that regular people are just as important to President Obama as his millionaire donors. And to prove it, he'll make you a very special Founding Member of his legacy-burnishing club. You, too, can pay to play!

Just found this choice little nugget in my spam bucket:
 Karen --
Organizing for Action is staring down our first quarterly fundraising deadline -- ever.
After March 31st, we'll have a record of the founding members who helped build this organization from the start.
You should be one of them. Chip in $5 or more right now to get in on the ground floor. No one has ever done what we're trying to do: restore the balance of power to ordinary people by countering the special-interest groups with the most powerful grassroots movement ever built.
Chip in $5 or more and make sure you're one of the folks* who will make history: (web address redacted for the protection of Sardonicky readers.)
Jon Carson, Executive Director
Organizing for Action
I don't know whether to howl or to puke. Restoring the balance of power by declaring all money is equal? Will grass seed take root in a pile of toxic sludge? Forget record levels of income disparity. Forget the regressive tax policies at work in this country. Forget 50 million uninsured people trying to stay alive within the most expensive, predatory health care system on the planet. Forget massive unemployment and underemployment and stagnating wages. No mention of overturning Citizens United to get the money out of politics. To the contrary -- you can only aspire to be a member of our thriving democracy if you start at the bottom of the pile and give to Barry. Does it get any more egalitarian than that, people?

It's the Feudalism Nostalgia movement -- the serfs paying tribute to the lord of the manor right along with the overseers, as we all toil merrily on our little patches  and hope for a better tomorrow, tomorrow, and feel like we're equal belongers. And when we hand over our meager coins, we will be protected by such Obamian initiatives as a Grand Bargain of "superlative" chained CPI adjustments to further reduce the payout on our Social Security earned benefits. Our contributions will make political corruption all balanced and good and equitable and, Obama hopes, impervious to further complaints by such pro-democracy groups as Public Citizen and Common Cause. It's historic, all right, but not in the good way the Obama machine wants you to think it is.

It was only a few weeks ago that OFA set the bar for Founding Member status at a whopping $50,000. But the elites evidently were not nibbling at the Barry Bait, and attendance at an exclusive Founders Dinner in Washington earlier this month was reportedly sparse. The poor millionaires are all tapped out when it comes to Barry-bribery, it seems. Apparently, there are no lines forming for private meetups with POTUS in exchange for $500,000. Thus, the bottom barrel-scraping evident in today's email blast to the hoi polloi. 

Oh, and about OFA's humble-bragging pledge of transparency on the source of its fund-raising? Um, how do you spell work-around? Even though its website requires donors to declare such data such as place of business and occupation and employer, this information will be kept secret from the public. If, for example, a Bill Smith of New York gives $500,000 in exchange for four annual meetings with Obama, we'll never find out if this particular Bill Smith happens to work for G.E., Honeywell, Goldman Sachs or General Dynamics.

Something is rotten in the Beltway Swamp. So, what else is new, you may ask? Only the myriad novel ways, such as insulting emails to unsuspecting victims, in which it's being bottled and packaged for our every-day consumption. 

* "When a politician uses the word 'folks', get ready for the next series of lies" -- Noam Chomsky. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Roll Over, Roll On

Whether it's giving a pass to war criminal sadists, or kicking tens of thousands of kids off Head Start in the name of political sadism, President Obama always stays true to his political mantra: You gotta look forward, not backward.

So it is with great fetishist fanfare that the White House has just announced that the endangered Easter Egg Roll will now go on as planned. The Head Start evictees may not have been lucky enough to score a ticket in the lottery, but the Obama Administration thinks they can still take comfort watching a video of Bo the Dog pimping out the festivities. That is, if their homes even have an internet connection.... which, given that a fifth of all American children now fall below the official poverty level and electric lights are often a luxury, is kind of an iffy proposition.

Only Romania beats the United States for child poverty in civilized countries. As Sheldon Danziger, director of the National Poverty Center, puts it: "Among rich countries, the U.S. is exceptional. We are exceptional in our tolerance of poverty."

But hey. The First Family wants kids from all classes and income levels to have a blast anyway. Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile though your heart is breaking. Get with the program -- Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!!!!!!!
In addition to all the fun and games, the day's activities — which will include sports courts and cooking demonstrations — will help educate families on smart ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise choices into their daily routines, which are key pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
So pay no attention to the reality that it truly is Obama's hand that will sign into law those cruel, needless, draconian cuts to Head Start and other anti-poverty programs. One day of noblesse oblige for a handful of families will salve their consciences. But how about that irony of touting the expansion of early childhood education at his State of the Union speech in January, only to have to slash it to ribbons two months later? The Washington Post explains the glaring cognitive dissonance thusly:
Historians note that presidents sometimes get what they want, as Obama did with health-care reform, or they are rebuffed, as George W. Bush was in attempting to privatize Social Security. But rarely do presidents find themselves enacting major policies they fundamentally oppose. (or just say they oppose)
Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, said Obama shoulders part of the blame. Since 2010, he said, Obama has spent too much time focused on the debt, including agreeing to significantly shrink domestic spending as part of his own budget proposals.(you can say that again!) 
“I think they brought it on themselves to the extent that they validated the deficit issue,” Mishel said. “It was always the case that the actual budget policy being pursued contradicted the rhetoric in the campaign. Now it’s even worse.” (when the divergence of his words and deeds comes back to bite Barry in the ass)
White House officials say they will continue to press forward on proposals that would not require new federal funding, such as raising the minimum wage, opening manufacturing institutes, revamping housing policies and overhauling immigration laws.(to be continued to be perceived as trying to do good things and at the same time lick the boots of billionaire lunatic sadist Pete Peterson and the Austerian Shadow Government.)
American Eggceptionalism

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dewey Cheatham & Howe: Cyprus Edition

Do the outrages never end? While Cypriot working stiffs are at least temporary spared from having their bank accounts seized by the Eurozone Austerity Brigade, and nobody really cares whether the murderous Russian oligarchy has to take a haircut, stuck right in the middle are the countless innocent victims in the international tax-evading business community. The world's off-shorers have been swept up in the massive financial tsunami hitting this island Club Med of Sheltered Wealth.

Poor expatriates. They thought they came to Cyprus for the waters. But like Rick in Casablanca, they were misinformed. Wave or no wave, they're in the desert now. And there's no chartered plane waiting to rescue either them or their wads of cash hostages.

Ironically, among the tax-evading conglomerates set to be cheated out of millions is the internet dating site called Ashley Madison which specializes in extramarital hookups. The Avid Life Media transglobal pimping outfit is, for whatever reason, being featured prominently on the New York Times homepage as a poster child for hapless tax-evaders marooned on Cyprus. (Maybe because multinational accounting firms aren't sexy?) From the article:
Only a few weeks ago it set up an office here as a base for its international operations, attracted to Cyprus — as hundreds of other foreign businesses have been — because of its reputation for financial stability, a low corporate tax rate, a friendly banking environment and most of all, a strong rule of law.

Sure, the Avid Life Media executives were aware that a banking crisis was brewing, but they had ventured ahead. They were assured in part by a promise from President Nicos Anastasiades when he was elected in February that he would soon arrange an equitable bailout with the international organizations that have guided the euro zone through four previous bailouts while keeping bank depositors whole.

“We went from paradise to hell in a minute,” said Keith Lalonde, Avid Life Media’s top executive here. He recounted the cellphone call he got from his financial adviser a week ago Saturday while strolling under a bright sun on Limassol’s fine white beach.

“We have a problem,” the adviser told him. The Cypriot government had just declared it would seize nearly 10 percent of the €2 million, or $2.6 million, the company had on deposit in Cyprus — and about 7 percent of Mr. Lalonde’s personal funds — to help secure its bailout.
International adultery has taken a huge hit, thanks to the greed of the international plutocracy. The skimming of depositor accounts has been heretofore unheard of. There hasn't been this much cheater-on-cheater outrage since Bernie Madoff had the chutzpah to scam a slew of fellow millionaires out of their life savings. And now, this. Avid Media's 18 million members worldwide will be left hanging, the company's whole world crumbling. They may even have to pull up stakes from Cyprus, even if there's no letter of transit for their cash. 

While The Times skims over the actual nature of Avid Life's business model, the piece is rife with humor, recounting the escapades of a billionaire pimp scurrying from cash machine to cash machine to withdraw money while he still can, expressing shock that any government would dare cheat him out of millions of Euros. Just like every other greedy, plutocratic job-creator on the planet, Avid Life CEO Noel Biderman is bemoaning the "lack of confidence" that the extraction of wealth has instilled in his sensitive psyche.

Serves him right, though. A former entertainment lawyer, Biderman once boasted to the L.A. Times  of milking the financial meltdown of America for all it was worth. Since Wall Street greed destroyed jobs and homes and families, but left people too broke to get a divorce, he just promoted his cheating website as an alternative:
The money-saving solution? Seek carnal comfort in others. He also made an analogy between his extramarital dating service and handing out condoms to teens.
"Some people say it promotes promiscuity," he said. "But if you don't do it, you get behavior that's way more harmful to society. Infidelity has been around a lot longer than Ashley Madison."
He believes that hearing about the service in a commercial is not going to persuade anyone to have an affair. "It's a decision they've come to already. All I'm saying is, don't do it in the workplace where it could result in someone losing their job, don't go to a singles dating service and lie about your status, don't hire a prostitute. Given that affairs are going to happen no matter what, maybe we should see Ashley Madison as a safe alternative."
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ashley Madison does not even exist. She's a made-up marketing ploy -- kind of like Betty Crocker, the Sunmaid Raisin Girl, Marie Callender and Mrs. Butterworth.

Oh well. As Ashley says, "Life is short. Have an affair."

We'll always have Cyprus.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Links / Open Thread

Oh dear. The doomed assault weapons ban vote in the Senate is leaving the poor Dems vulnerable. To say nothing of all the incipient victims in classrooms, malls, theaters and other community gathering spots. But never mind. The recent lack of filibuster reform by Harry Reid is having the desired effect. Popular bills backed by the majority of the citizenry will die by preordained plan, but the Dems will still be seen as having "tried." So sit back, wait for the next massacre, and then watch amazed as the politicians cry on cue before the TV cameras, and your inbox fills up with fund-raising appeals to demonstrate just how much the Dems differ from the Repellicans.

It turns out that besides being a lovely island paradise, Cyprus is the unregulated paradisical parking lot for the money of the Russian oligarchy -- much like the Caymans are for the American oligarchy. Paul Krugman has the best and pithiest encapsulation of the whole mess that I have yet read. He can even say FUBAR in the title and not get censored the same way he censors himself by never calling out President Obama for being a member in good standing of the Clan of the FUBAR Social Security-Hating Deficit Scolds. 

As Cyprus goes, so goes Detroit, another recent victim in the bankster war against civilization. The "manager" being brought in to deliver the coup de grace to the Motor City is actually a bankruptcy lawyer at a firm which boasts a veritable who's who of Fortune 500 companies as clients. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report has the lowdown. With any luck, this massive privatization scheme could be the tipping point that actually gets the people out in the streets.

A Tree Doesn't Grow in Jerusalem: Barack's Department of Horticulture has apparently committed a diplomatic faux pas, and the magnolia tree the president so lovingly planted may have to be dug up for not having going through the same sequestration procedures being bipartisanly imposed here at home against poor and unemployed people. In another gaffe, the president's armored tank-mobile had to be towed away for repairs after a Secret Service agent (accidentally, of course) filled it with regular instead of diesel. These stories will no doubt spark a whole new slew of conspiracy theories and right-wing blog plants by gasbags. And then stay tuned for more Democratic fund-raising emails, because nothing makes you open your wallet for politicians like some trumped-up outrage. 

Fat, and Proud of It: Mississippi, which ranks tops in gun deaths and probably all kinds of avoidable deaths, has just passed an Anti-Bloomberg Law, which will ban politicians from banning stuff that is bad for you. Mike Bloomberg, the New York mayor whose ban on supersized drinks was just overturned in court, scoffed at the new law and suggested that the state to his south just be renamed Mississgulpi. No, he didn't it. I made that up.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sympathy for the Devil

For all who were justifiably outraged by the empathetic coverage of the two Steubenville rapists by a couple of CNN hostesses reporters actually named Poppy and Candy, I have one question: What else did you expect?

This is a country with a corrupt media machine that has long shown undue deference to predators of all stripes. We must half-admire our criminal athletes, we must show a grudging respect for the financial miscreants who've raked in 100% of all the wealth regained since they themselves brought the world economy crashing down in 2008, we must give a wink and a nod to the antics of all those rascally politicians whose power just unaccountably went straight to their heads.(and loins)

Everybody loves a winner, and if our movers and shakers and celebrities are caught misbehaving or worse, we tear them down, only to build them back up again, cheering them on in their pursuit of even greater riches and fame under the shiny patina of false regret and rehabilitation. Look at Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, David Vitter, Bill Clinton and pretty soon, Anthony Wiener, Jesse Jackson Junior and Blago. (Do not look at Dick Cheney and his band of merry neocons, however, since they skipped the part where they were punished and have not one regret for their proxified mass murder, torture, rape and sexual abuse, and maiming of millions of innocent people. Cheney is still being invited on the Sunday talk shows simply to show off his serene immunity as a new heart is beating, trapped and helpless, within his soulless chest.) 

But were you surprised that two female reporters (Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow) went all weepy over two rapists? Don't be. Crowley, you may remember, hosted the town hall-style debate between the two vetted presidential candidates of the predatory plutonomy last fall, staying silent as two female Green Party candidates were kidnapped, bound and gagged by President Obama's security detail. She did her duty by the elites running the show. Among them was multimillionaire misogynist Alan Simpson, who once chauvinistically referred to Social Security as "a milk cow with 300 million tits" in a letter to a female advocate for older women. 

President Obama kept him on the Deficit Reduction ("Catfood") Commission anyway, despite an outpouring of protest similar to the outpouring of protest to CNN this week. The Commission on Presidential Debates kept him on board, too. Candy Crowley did not make a peep then and (so far) she is not making a peep now.

And then there's Poppy Harlow, who very naturally ended up covering a juvenile rape trial after years of covering the predatory financial sector. Her shocked weepiness over the weeping young convicts had to have been a knee-jerk reaction, given that her previous story subjects have always enjoyed immunity with impunity. Harlow, moreover, is a meritocrat all the way, having risen through the ranks of private schools, the Ivy League, Forbes video, CBS MarketWatch and CNN Money. No wonder her first reaction to the conviction of the teenage boys was regret that their own economic potential is down the tubes. However, given the stories of Vick and Roethlisberger, these youngsters may be redeemed by the National or American Football Leagues, or even a college that is not too picky about doing background checks on its athletic recruits.

Stay tuned, too, for the lucrative interviews from Juvey Hall on Dr. Phil  (I'm betting on next week), then the usual solemn, probing and tough but fair profiles soon thereafter on 60 Minutes and Dateline.

But let's cut Poppy Harlow some slack. In case you thought she had zero empathy for the victim in this case, Poppy herself has been a victim of that most egregious and increasing crime against wealthy elites: Invasion of Privacy by Internet! In a daring act of true confession, Poppy recently revealed right on teevee that somebody had surfed the web and revealed her outrageous salary. And not only that, they got her net worth all wrong. Poppy was violated. They even hacked into public records and found out that she's single and Episcopalian. Eau de humanity!

And in case this still isn't enough parody for you, The Onion has thoughtfully dug out a pre-Steubenville prequel that uncannily mirrors the coverage of the real case. You can savor both the Poppy Candy and the Onion at Truthdig. Then swig some Alka-Seltzer.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Campus Crusade for Austerity

It's bad enough that college students are getting crushed with debt before they even graduate to a lifetime of wage slavery. But now, insult is being added to injury. On campuses throughout America, kids are getting inundated by a flood of class war proselytizers. The missionaries, unfortunately, are not the remnants of the Occupy movement or the labor movement. They're the One Percent Meritocracy, spreading the addictive dogma of austerity to their peers. The message: Wall Street is not robbing you blind. Grandma and Grandpa are. Stop them, starve them now, before it's too late!

And just who do you think is behind the innocuously-named "Up To Us" propaganda campaign? It's the Clinton Global Initiative University! Already spreading its tentacles across authoritarian-ready campuses throughout the nation, this traveling college-within-a-college is much more than a neoliberal greed-washing racket purporting to fight global hunger and disease. It aims to be a full-scale evangelical Campus Crusade for Austerity, in which well-off, well-scrubbed, well-dressed and annoying young things corner their unsuspecting peers in order to hammer home the Gospel of Voluntary Safety Net-Shredding. The aim is to create the next generation of greedsters, get them before their social idealism permanently alters their psyches.

Not surprisingly, the Department of Deficit Hawkery at CGI University is being partially funded by billionaire vulture capitalist Pete Peterson's greed foundation. It's even sponsoring an "Up to Us" essay contest in which the  college team coming up with the best idea on how to make the rich richer and the poor poorer "Fix the Debt"  will be awarded a relatively paltry $10,000 grand prize (which will just about pay the interest on the typical six-figure student loan.) 

Among the essay contest judges will be (shock) Chelsea Clinton, who, having just plunked down over $10 million on a new luxury apartment for herself and her hedge fund hubby, is now a deficit hawkette in good standing, sincerely worried about how retirees, war widows and orphans, and veterans will eat into her tax-exempt trust fund. Also judging will be ABC/Disney Sunday plutocratic coffee klatch host/Clintonite George Stephanopoulas. George, apparently, sees no conflict of interest between openly shilling for billionaires and hosting a news program in which he uncritically swallows the dogma of the same wealthy deficit cultists, projectile-vomiting it back out at you, the victimized audience.

(In case you were wondering if there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats, it's this: the Romneys and their ilk openly bash the 47%, the "You People." The Clintons smarmily feel your pain, and will pose for pics with you while you slave away in their kid's new digs. Oh, and let's not forget the culture war wedge issues to make you believe there's a difference between the two halves of the Money Party. Hillary finally comes out in favor of gay marriage today, even though her kid is not gay, thus one-upping R-Coming Out Rob Portman, who is, libs say, a total hypocrite because his son is gay. Plus, she publicly comes out to the Human Rights Campaign lobby, big funder of Democratic candidates, supporter of past efforts to privatize Social Security, and instigator of Barack Obama's own coming-out evolution extravaganza. Wealthy LGBT groups also have been corraled in the Pete Peterson deficit reduction veal pen. Are we sensing a pattern yet?) 

But I digress. Getting back to Clinton Initiative University -- just to show that CGI U. is totally down with that all-important "balanced approach" beloved of Obamians and Clintonites everywhere, the other two judges of the Save the Rich contest will be (you guessed it!) those beloved greedy geezers Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson of Obama's Catfood Commission. These guys definitely put the cool back into cold-hearted cruelty.

Pete Peterson and the Clintons have even managed to corral Comedy Central host and youth idol Stephen Colbert and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey into their veal pen of celebrity spokespeople. The participants are a veritable who's who of Fortune 500 CEOs and Hollywood moguls -- in other words, the Democratic Party donor class. Eat, Pray, Love, Profit. I bet they all huddle under their covers at night, reading Ayn Rand by a flashlight powered by environmentally friendly batteries.

I Dreamed I Dwelt in Marble Halls, or Chelsea's Bathroom

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Pelosi Pity Party

Mitt Romney was rightly castigated for his "binders full of women" remark at the same town hall presidential debate in which the binding and gagging of two female Green Party candidates precluded any real discussion of human rights.

 And now there's the trumped-up angst over Barack Obama keeping his own female Democratic minority leader in such a bind. For it is now Nancy Pelosi's onerous task to become loyal marionette to the martinet in the Oval Office. She has accepted the challenge to lead the Party of FDR over a right-wing cliff.

Her current job description: getting her caucus to cut Social Security earned benefits and still get away with pretending they're on the side of the same people that they will condemn to pain and an earlier death. Will Democrats win votes by reasonableness? Does compromise with nihilist Republicans trump the well-being of Grandma? Is anybody questioning why such a question is even being asked?

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or, in multimillionaire Nancy's case, a diamond and a continuing seat at the Obamian Wall Street Roundtable.

The Grand Bargain for the Grandees puts her in such a difficult situation, commiserates Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who very centristically balances loyalty for his fabulously wealthy friend with his concern for his own struggling constituents. Instead of outright condemning a Grand Betrayal, he is in ruminating mode: "The question is, are you going to balance the budget on the backs of seniors who have already paid into the system?" he mused. From The Hill,
Cummings also noted a political advantage in the openness of Obama and Pelosi on the chained CPI: “They're trying to show that they are being reasonable,” he said. “It shows the public that if a deal is not struck, it's not our fault.”
Cummings said, despite liberals' reservations about the chained CPI, there's near-unanimous faith in Pelosi to protect the Democrats' ideals.
"She finds a way to bring her party to some type of consensus," he said. "It may not be 100 percent, but consensus."
These clowns are still operating under the false impression that the public gives a crap about whether an elite group of One Percenters can strike a deal among themselves. More than 90% of Americans, according to polls, do not want Social Security benefits decreased, tweaked, protected or improved -- unless it is to raise or scrap the cap on currently regressive FICA contributions. But you wouldn't know it from the corporate coverage, framing the issue around the professional juggling act of an obscenely rich politician who has already and very truthfully allowed that she, personally, can "live with" chained CPI.

Of course, making the story about personalities rather than the real issues makes it easier for the plutocracy-funded media functionaries to function. The fact that Social Security has added not one penny to the deficit, and should not even be included in budget talks, is a secondary sidebar in typical coverage of the political theater.

To further illustrate how far right the Democrats have gone in the Age of Obama is today's New York Times editorial praising Senate Democrats for their own deficit-hawkish, conservative milquetoast of a budget and totally ignoring the more liberal document released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Readers' comments rightly castigated the Times for this glaring oversight. 

And while Paul Krugman, the lone token liberal voice at the newspaper, did mention the jobs-promoting progressive budget in his last column, he failed utterly to mention the president's role in steering his party into Republicanville. I corrected this obviously inadvertent oversight in my own comment:
President Obama is not impressed with any plan, whether by moderate Democrats or progressive Democrats, that does not include gratuitous cuts to the social safety net.
As Dean Baker points out, Obama's deficit-cultish "balanced approach" does, in fact. favor the wealthy. His chained CPI plan would slash Social Security benefits by 6% after 20 years. For the average retiree, whose benefits amount to two-thirds of her total income, this amounts to a 2% total net reduction in cash flow. But for a couple earning over $450,000, the hit will only be .07% of total income, based on the fiscal cliff tax plan enacted at the beginning of the year. The poor, in effect, will be sacrificing at triple the rate of the rich.
Paul Ryan's plan may be a pathological joke, but he is simply playing his extremist part of court jester in the class war. Obama, on the other hand, is deadly serious as he pressures his own party to join him in what can only be described as a narcissistic exercise in presidential legacy-burnishing.
He seems to be maligning our great social insurance programs as addictive candy that the Democratic children simply must give up for Lent. This, despite the fact that chronic and unaddressed joblessness means that more minor dependents and their surviving parents, veterans, and retirees are falling into poverty.  
(this is the part where I say Obama is full of shit, in censorproof Times-speak) Politicians who persist in calling Social Security a "sacred cow" in this time of economic trouble are not only insulting and cruel. They're full of bull.
Meanwhile, about that progressive Back to Work Budget: I tend to agree with John Stauber, the (retired) founder of the Center for Media and Democracy, that this is just the latest going-nowhere-fast manifesto which, along with the new Organizing for Action Obama astroturf slush fund, is just one more empty, slippery aspirational straw for the veal pen inmates to suck on, just a convenient cover for the real corporate movers and shakers of the Democratic establishment to rake in cash and pursue their Wall Street-enabling agenda. Stauber's recent piece in CounterPunch is well worth a read.

Real change only comes from the outside. Rights are not going to be bestowed upon us by any group of politicians, no matter how progressive the message. Rights are something to be grabbed, something that we must bestow upon ourselves. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Assisi Dove vs Austerian Hawk

I'll admit it. I indulged myself in a spate of silly cynicism as I watched CNN's coverage of the Pope-a-Palooza yesterday afternoon. I even started humming "The March of the Flying Monkeys" from The Wizard of Oz as the Swiss Guard strutted around St. Peter's Square.  I mused over the possible genetic origins of Chris Cuomo's speech patterns (he sounds just like his dad, Mario and a more refined version of his guv bro, Andy) while I paid no attention to what he was actually blathering on about.  

Then my ears perked up when they announced the name that the new Argentinian pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had chosen: Francis. I at first assumed it had to be an homage to fellow Jesuit Francis Xavier, of the elitist class of xenophobe, proselytizer and inquisitor saints. Then came confirmation that Bergoglio had taken his name after that most radical leftist of Christian saints, Francis of Assisi. Then came news that, while a typical hardliner in matters of contraception and gay rights, the new pope is both a champion of poor people and a foe of government austerity for poor people. And given that popes, despite all the well-deserved bad press the Church has gotten lately, are news-makers and that what they say always gets covered in the corporate press, that just maybe the deficit hysteria possessing not only this country but most of Europe, will finally get a much-needed exorcism. 

Dylan Matthews, an economics writer at the Washington Post, has written an interesting piece on the new pope's macroeconomic philosophy, which is more Keynes/Krugman than Milton Friedman and disaster capitalism Chicago school. Bergoglio, unfortunately, is not so radically humanitarian as to have been a supporter of South America's Liberation Theology movement; he was even implicated in the "disappearance" of two politically active Jesuits during a right-wing junta in 1976. But at least, the new pope and his fellow bishops did fight back against the Argentinian government when it mulled the imposition of austerity during its own economic meltdown in 2002. A free-market neoliberal the new pope most certainly is not:

A paper by Thomas Trebat, “Argentina, the Church, and Debt,” details the church’s role in the crisis’s resolution. Argentine bishops, including Francis, had long criticized the laissez-faire policies of Carlos Menem, who was president from 1989 to 1999. “The bishops were critical of the economic model as a generator of poverty and unemployment, notwithstanding the stability it had brought to the country,” Trebat wrote.
And when the debt crisis hit in 2002, the church called in strong terms for a debt restructuring to take place which privileged social programs above debt repayment. They argued that the true problems in the Argentinian economy were, in their words, “social exclusion, a growing gap between rich and poor, insecurity, corruption, social and family violence, serious deļ¬ciencies in the educational system and in public health, the negative consequences of globalization and the tyranny of the markets.”
I guess you can tell how far to the right this whole capitalist world has swung when we can rejoice when a new pope chooses a symbolic name that does not glorify rich people. No Pope Lloyds yet, even though Blankfein is infallible and and immune, and has publicly declared he is doing God's work and lightning did not strike. Jorge/Francis has got a whole lot of his own Vatican bank chicanery to clean up as it is. And as Charles Pierce astutely points out, the new guy is an old guy and thus a convenient place-holder for the real guys in charge. Plus, he has only one lung.
Joe Biden is reportedly going to attend the anti-bling pope's coronation. Maybe Jorge/Francis can whisper a little sermonette into the the VP's ear on the evils of austerity, the class war, income disparity and sequestration. Maybe Joe Biden will undergo another epiphany and can once again "get out ahead of his skis" like he did on marriage equality and shoot his mouth off on national television about the need for Medicare for All. Maybe the corporate media will develop some honesty about the cruelty of not only Paul Ryan's latest Randian manifesto, but also about President Obama's own war against older people. Dean Baker has crunched the numbers, and proven what we already knew:  Obama's so-called "balanced approach" of cuts and revenues actually does punish retirees in a cruelly lopsided way:

Paul Ryan, meanwhile, is reprising his supporting role in the continuing saga known as American Austerity Theater. He is the useful idiot of the Deficit Brigade, acting out ever more extreme Randian fantasies. He is the indestructible Rasputin cast against the centrist Democrats' phony Franciscan monastery. He is a parody of himself at this point. Even the negative attention he is getting from the usual purveyors of progressive outrage is misplaced, because it merely serves to make the similarly cruel Obama seem reasonable. Ryan, as he rails against food stamps and medical care for the poor, looks like the devil incarnate. Obama, as he flashes his boyish, aren't-I-adorable grin, is the devil in disguise.

Francis of Assisi repudiated riches and lived to serve the downtrodden. Ryan and Obama have repudiated the downtrodden and live to serve the rich. May the spirit of St. Francis rise again, and become a continuous thorn in both their sides.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Light vs Blight

Is it someone's idea of a joke to celebrate Sunshine Week at the same time the geniuses in charge keep pretending that Daylight Saving Time magically bestows an extra hour of wonderful sleep-deprived glare upon us?

This is the dreaded Monday to end all Mondays, when more heart attacks happen, and traffic accidents skyrocket, and "cyberloafing" at work becomes epidemic. So let us ponder, through our untimely snores and our bleary eyes and our snickering cynicism, this blinding ephemera known as Open Government. Some history:

Sunshine Week naturally got its start in Florida, the Sunshine State. According to the official shiny website run by the brightness brigade,
The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002 in response to efforts by some Florida legislators to create scores of new exemptions to the state’s public records law. FSNE estimates that some 300 exemptions to open government laws were defeated in the legislative sessions that followed its three Sunshine Sundays, because of the increased public and legislative awareness that resulted from the Sunshine Sunday reports and commentary.
Several states followed Florida’s lead, and in June 2003, ASNE hosted a Freedom of Information Summit in Washington where the seeds for Sunshine Week were planted.
Though created by journalists, Sunshine Week is about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why.
Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.
Participants include news media, government officials at all levels, schools and universities, libraries and archives, individuals, non-profit and civic organizations, historians and anyone with an interest in open government.
I don't know about you, but whenever somebody I don't know tells me I can become empowered and enlightened, I get very, very cranky. For example, I got very grumpy when tax-exempt billionaire Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg went on 60 Minutes last night to tell me to "lean in" in order to get ahead in life. And the fact that Sunshine Week is made possible, in part, by a grant from Bloomberg LLP does not help my mood. Mayor Mike Bloomberg is now 10th richest billionaire on the entire planet, and he's against the minimum wage and he wanted to fingerprint food stamp applicants and now he wants to ban earbuds to prevent the deafness that will close our ears to his harangues against sugary soft drinks.

Plus, the Sunshiners got the bright idea of giving President Obama a transparency award behind closed doors a couple of years ago, even though he was already well on his way to becoming the most opaque president in history. It's not just that he makes secret laws pretending to justify secret assassinations and has prosecuted more whistleblowers than in any previous administration. According to the AP, the Obama government is now actually censoring public records at an even faster clip since the beginning of his second term:
The administration cited exceptions built into the law to avoid turning over materials more than 479,000 times, a roughly 22 percent increase over the previous year. In many cases, more than one of the law's exceptions was cited in each request for information.
In a year of intense public interest over deadly U.S. drones, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terror threats and more, the government cited national security to withhold information at least 5,223 times — a jump over 4,243 such cases in 2011 and 3,805 cases in Obama's first year in office. The secretive CIA last year became even more secretive: Nearly 60 percent of 3,586 requests for files were withheld or censored for that reason last year, compared with 49 percent a year earlier.
Other federal agencies that invoked the national security exception included the Pentagon, Director of National Intelligence, NASA, Office of Management and Budget, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Communications Commission and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.
All told, the government is now refusing to comply with fully one-third of all requests under the Freedom of Information law. And it's taking a lot longer to get the information:
Some agencies, such as the Health and Human Services Department, took less time than the previous year to turn over files. But at the State Department, for example, even urgent requests submitted under a fast-track system covering breaking news or events when a person's life was at stake took an average two years to wait for files.
Journalists and others who need information quickly to report breaking news, for example, fared worse last year. The rate at which the government granted so-called expedited processing, which moves an urgent request to the front of the line for a speedy answer, fell from 24 percent in 2011 to 17 percent last year. The CIA denied every such request last year.
Flying in the face of all fact, the White House itself hilariously claims to be celebrating its own week-long extravaganza of openness. Obama does the usual doublespeak routine, promising to be transparent about the need for transparency and setting aside a Very Special Week to Have a Conversation about Transparency. And the Good Ship Lollipop is a sweet trip to the candy shop.

Feeling depressed yet? Right after you write your letter to the government asking for your Aunt Sally's immigration records from the Year Zero, my prescription is to drop everything and go take a nap. As a matter of fact, I strongly suggest that you set your clock back an hour to really screw with the establishment. I actually did once get away (accidentally of course) with imparting this same advice on the front page of the first newspaper I ever worked for. (If this story sounds familiar, it's because I told it in my Reader Comment to Maureen Dowd's column yesterday. I've been telling it every year to my long-suffering family and friends, and now I am sharing it again with my long-suffering blog readers):

(This column) reminded me of my own first week at my first newspaper job. I was assigned to write an innocuous story reminding readers about Daylight Saving Time. I somehow managed to totally botch the piece by advising people to set their clocks back an hour, instead of ahead.

Sure that I would be fired before I even got started, I was pleasantly shocked to discover that my gaffe had inspired spasms of newsroom hilarity. It turned out the editors were all hardened atheists as well as hardened boozehounds, and they got much satisfaction dealing with all the irate readers calling to complain that they'd missed church because of me.

That paper, of course, was one of hundreds that have long since folded. Independent local journalism has been largely replaced by a concentration of national media power in fewer and fewer plutocratic hands. (i.e. Rupert Murdoch). This is hardly conducive to a healthy democracy.

As Maureen says, good writing is good writing regardless of whether it's in print or in pixels, or in the case of the NYT, both. Even George Orwell's diary has been transformed into an internet blog. For every issue of People Magazine, there are hundreds of news blogs worth reading, including one from our very own Paul Krugman. Good journalists are not only valuable, they are absolutely essential.

Before closing, I'd like to redeem myself and remind everyone to set your clocks ahead if you haven't already done so. Spring ahead, because hope springs eternal. I hope.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Weekly Dog Whistle to the Plutocrats

Hi, everybody. My top priority as President is making sure we do everything we can to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.
There will be a continuous topping off of your corporate tanks by the U.S. Treasury. While the oligarchic engine thrums, its premium gas is producing the toxic by-product of deficit hysteria. Like all things shitty, it flows downhill, eventually igniting into a final conflagration destroying what little is left of the middle class. This, my fellow plutocrats Americans, is the power of creative destruction. But as the serfs in our midst suffer through this endless, needless depression, we'll just keep reminding them of the Greek myth of the phoenix rising from the ashes. We'll keep intimating that poor people still reside in the middle class. Let the mellifluous magical-thinking presidential oratory sink deep into their tired, benumbed brains. 
Yesterday, we received some welcome news on the class war of the plutes against the proles  that front. We learned that our businesses added nearly 250,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7% – still too high, but now lower than it was when I took office.
The stats, of course, do not count the chronically unemployed, those who have simply given up and fallen into the permanent underclass. They also do not mention the fact that many of the jobs being added are part-time, temporary, low-wage and no-benefit. No mention of the fact that the average CEO earns more than 300 times as much as the average worker. SSSHHH.... must not mention the fact that the Swiss are moving to cap executive pay and the European Union is mulling a financial transaction tax on high speed trades.

Our businesses have created jobs every month for three years straight – nearly 6.4 million new jobs in all. Our manufacturers are bringing jobs back to America. Our stock market has rebounded. New homes are being built cheaply and sold at a faster pace. And we need to do everything we can to keep that momentum going.
Here is where your president honors public-private cronyism as though it were a form of American patriotism that simply does not exist in the real world of "free" trade and transglobalism. By using the first person plural, he glosses over the fact that the government itself has cut jobs and wages. He tacitly admits that a kind of fascism, or at least corporatism, has taken over. We have bribed corporations to bring a small number of manufacturing jobs back to "right to work" (anti-union) states by offering corporations even more welfare, via tax breaks -- and even tax rebates based on the fraudulent losses they claim to have suffered through some token reverse-offshoring. Damned straight that the stock market is rebounding, because all the wealth continues being sucked up by those at the extreme pinnacle. And the apparent resurgence of the housing market is largely due to vulture capitalists buying up the inventory of foreclosed homes and the deliberate ploy of keeping excess inventory off the market to further inflate another real estate bubble. Thanks to the toothlessness of Dodd-Frank financial "reform", the taxpayers have guaranteed they will bail out the banksters when yet another inevitable bursting occurs. Even now, banks are getting back-door bailouts through the gaping, unguarded window of the Treasury.

That means asking ourselves three questions every day: How do we make America a magnet for new jobs? How do we equip more of our people with the skills those jobs require? And how do we make sure that your hard work leads to a decent living?
So now it's the Power of Three, huh? Holy Holy Trinity, Batman! And 3X3=9, the same magical number as that glorious Obamian minimum wage suggestion for those futuristic and ephemeral non-union low-paying tech jobs requiring the expertise of an advanced engineering degree. Otherwise, this paragraph is simply for rhetorical purposes. Your president is in musing mode, not bothering to answer his own questions.

That has to be our driving focus – our North Star. And at a time when our businesses are gaining a little more traction, the last thing we should do is allow Washington politics to get in the way. You deserve better than the same political gridlock and refusal to compromise that has too often passed for serious debate over the last few years.
Just when the plutocracy stands poised to have it all, Washington politics is getting in the way of Obama's grandiose bargain for the grandees. When he says "you deserve better" he is dog-whistling directly to the Fix the Debt deficit scolds and their compromised media hacks, who as far as we know, are the only people kvetching about political gridlock. Have you noticed that Our North Star has become the latest hackneyed phrase in the presidential repertoire? It is Newspeak for the aggregation of the national wealth at the very pinnacle of the stratosphere, evoking a self-righteous Biblical image of the Three Wise Men searching out salvation in the form of Mammon. Meh. Their bright is our blight. 

Ka-Ching Went the Beat of Their Blessed Little Hearts

That’s why I’ve been reaching out to Republicans and Democrats to see if we can untangle some of the gridlock. Earlier this week, I met with some Republican Senators to see if there were smarter ways to grow our economy and reduce our deficits than the arbitrary cuts and the so-called “sequester” that recently went into place. We had an open and honest conversation about critical issues like immigration reform and gun violence, and other areas where we can work together to move this country forward. And next week, I’ll attend both the Democratic and Republican party meetings in the Capitol to continue those discussions.
See previous post about that deliciously decadent deficit dinner party. And, by the way, the president is very deliberately not reaching out to the Progressive Caucus. Their ideas (such as raising the FICA contribution cap) may be serious, but they are very deliberately being blackballed from admission to the Very Serious People Country Club. (see every blogpost and column ever written by Paul Krugman, especially this one published today about the disappearing deficit that Obama insists, apparently under orders from Wall Street, still needs shrinking.)

The fact is, America is a nation of different beliefs and different points of view. That’s what makes us strong, and frankly, makes our democratic debates messy and often frustrating. But ultimately what makes us special is when we summon the ability to see past those differences, and come together around the belief that what binds us together will always be more powerful than what drives us apart.
The two political parties of the plutonomy both work for the same masters of the universe. Money is the tie that binds all of the millionaires and billionaires together. It is more powerful than all the pretend ideologies in the world, combined. The "gridlock mess" is a big sham anyway. It is a smokescreen giving the lobbyists more time to bribe and the politicians more time to be bribed. Filibuster reform didn't happen, because the Senate leaders didn't want it to happen. A series of fake crisis gridlock dramas provides the perfect smokescreen for the infliction of a whole mess of pain on the masses.

As Democrats and Republicans, we may disagree on the best way to achieve our goals, but I’m confident we can agree on what those goals should be. A strong and vibrant middle class. An economy that allows businesses to grow and thrive. An education system that gives more Americans the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. An immigration system that actually works for families and businesses. Stronger communities and safer streets for our children.
Insert the usual bromides as this latest weekly address draws to a close. Mention middle class again. Check. Tout deregulation for businesses so they may confidently hoard ever greater piles of cash and create a few low wage jobs. Check. Tout the technocratization of education for the enrichment of profiteers, with a concentration on teaching narrow technical skills for the jobs of the future which, of course, do not exist in the here and now. Check. Tout immigration policies that are heavy on business benefits and light on human rights protections. Check. Tout Strength and Safety, evoking visions of armored Homeland Security tanks and paramilitary police forces to protect the Corporate State and to stifle the inevitable populist dissent arising from increasing wealth inequality. Check.

Making progress on these issues won’t be easy. In the months ahead, there will be more contentious debate and honest disagreement between principled people who want what’s best for this country. But I still believe that compromise is possible. I still believe we can come together to do big things. And I know there are leaders on the other side who share that belief.
Barry just had a very hard slog of a catered lunch with Paul Ryan -- that principled other half of RomRy the Democrats used to pretend to hate because he wants to voucherize Medicare --  but now all of a sudden he wants whatever is best for this country. (Newspeak for whatever is best for the ruling class, which runs the country.) Obama is desperate for a grand bargain of safety net cuts by the end of July, the optimal time (after Christmas) to ram another 2,000-page disaster capitalism bill through Congress. Everybody will be in a big hurry to escape the Beltway Swamp, go on vacation, and fund-raise. Big things, by the way, is Newspeak for gutting Social Security and making FDR turn in his grave. Big things is Orwellian code for Austerity.

So I’ll keep fighting to solve the real challenges facing middle-class families. And I’ll enlist anyone who is willing to help. That’s what this country needs now – and that’s what you deserve.
Simpson & Bowles and the Centrist cult of Fix the Debt tycoons will keep doing the Sunday shows sponsored by your corporate largesse.... the oil and gas industry, the big banks, the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance leech brigade, the defense contractors. Your placeholder president understands your needs, my liege lords. You deserve every last ounce of flesh, every last drop of blood. 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Way, the Truth, the Life

Last night, while you were perhaps trying to decide between paying your electric bill or splurging on that long-delayed expensive medical checkup, Blessed Barack and the new Twelve Disciples of the Republican Party were stuffing themselves on terrine de foie gras and Lobster Thermidor as they mulled putting old people on a cat food diet and other creative ways to make your lives even more miserable.

The president had invited a dozen Senators to the exclusive Plume Restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington in hopes of forging a new testament to safety net cuts in order to appease the heavenly fathers of Wall Street. Far from being a Last Supper, it looks to be the first of many soirees that our demigod president will host in an effort to burnish his legacy. "Do this in remembrance of Me" appears to be the motive of Obama's longed-for Grand Sacrificial Bargain. Jesus knew that one of his own disciples would betray him. But in this perverted Biblical tableau, it is Barry and the Dirty Dozen who would just love to betray all of us. That is their way, that is their truth, that is the purpose of their political lives.

They broke the ice, they broke the bread, they preached austerity, and their zombie ideas will go forth and multiply in the corporate media churches of the nation. From The Hill:
“I think really what he is trying to do is start a discussion and kind of break the ice and that was appreciated,” said Sen. Mike Johanns (Neb.), one of twelve Republicans who broke bread with Obama. “Most of the meeting was spent on budget and [finding] a way forward. His goal is ours. We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis.”
Johanns said he is more optimistic of reaching a broad deficit-reduction deal this Congress.

“I think he’s very sincere. I think he wants to try to figure something out. Today was a good step and we’ll see what happens now,” he said.
As they gorged themselves on expensive food and slugged down wine priced as high as $1,000 a bottle, the politicians reportedly did not once mention the suffering they have gratuitously imposed on the nation's most vulnerable citizens in the latest bout of austerity known as the Sequester. Although Congress is already moving to restore cuts of the Defense Budget, the cuts to Head Start, the mother/child nutrition program known as WIC, programs for battered women, and low income housing and heating assistance will be allowed to stand. Meanwhile, Obama and his cohort haggle over the destruction of the New Deal in exchange for a few token and meaningless bits of revenue from the rich.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has already proposed such "painful" cuts to Medicare that they rival those of the Randian Paul Ryan, confirmed to The Hill that The Sequester was not discussed. The decadent dining experience was merely an appetizer for the main feast, the orgy of mass cannibalism-by-plutocrat. "I think meetings like this are helpful and I think they build relationships," Corker added. “It was as social a meeting as you would find anywhere."

And well it should be. To go with the Lobster Thermidor, the senators were treated to sides of White Wine Saffron Gllacage (menu typo, or is this an actual food product?) and Herbed Fingerlings. If they are real red meat Republicans and chose the prime rib, they got an extra helping of beef marrow to go along with it. No word about whether they picked over Skin-in-the-Game canapes. But the sound of sucking the life out of our bones was certainly echoing through the darkness of the Beltway Swamp last night.

And you thought the saga of New York City's Cannibal Cop was disgusting? He's got nothing on the flesh-eaters in suits residing in the lower depths of the Acela Corridor.