Friday, March 1, 2013

Madness In High Places

Can the Obama machine get any more crazy-cynical? I just found this email from campaign hack Jim Messina in my spam folder:
Brace yourself.
If congressional Republicans don't act by tomorrow, we're going to be hit by a series of devastating, automatic budget cuts called the sequester.
It's a sledgehammer to the budget, our economy, and millions of Americans across the country -- and the most frustrating part? It doesn't have to happen.
The majority of Americans support President Obama's balanced approach to deficit reduction -- add your name if you do, too.
So far, congressional Republicans are refusing to compromise -- all because they don't want to close tax loopholes for millionaires, billionaires, vacation homes, and corporate jets. Seriously.
This has very real consequences.
On the chopping block are 10,000 teaching jobs, more than 70,000 kids' spots in Head Start, $35 million for local fire departments, $43 million to make sure seniors don't go hungry, and access to nutrition assistance for 600,000 women and their families. That's just a few of the things we'll lose.
President Obama has put forth a balanced deficit reduction plan with smart spending cuts that protect the critical investments needed to strengthen middle-class families and our economy.
We need to send a strong signal about where Americans stand on this issue.
Add your name today:
Incidentally, when I clicked on the (disabled by me) link at the end, one of those warning messages popped up about there being a problem with the Obama website's security certificate. Access was denied, to what I can only assume would be a shameless plea for cash for the presidential slush fund. So enter at your own risk. At the very least, they will install a big fat tracking cookie on your computer to follow your every keystroke.

But anyway -- the email was already outdated by the time I got around to reading it. John Boehner is refusing to engage in any more Grand Bargain talks with Barry. The White House is also apparently putting the kibosh on any more fear-fomenting. That is because the whole idea behind the contrived sequester was to make the defense cuts so unpalatable that the Republicans would be forced to give Obama needed cover for his long-planned gutting of the social safety net. The disease to please the Wall Street titans who vetted and approved his candidacy in the first place is still festering. Stayed tuned for another three years of one manufactured fiscal crisis after the other until Obama gets his way. 

And meanwhile, they're using a sophisticated internet campaign to lie about it. Lie Number One: The presidential minions are telling supporters that the only way to avoid the sequester is to forge that much longed-for grandiose bargain with the GOP. Not true. They could nullify sequestration, repeal the law that spawned the whole austerity stupidity. Obama is not suggesting the actual cancellation of the sequester. Not by a long shot. Lie Number Two: In poll after poll after poll, the majority of Americans want to strengthen the safety net. They want jobs. People do not care about deficit reduction. And to the extent that they do, it is only as a result of the contant barrage of deficit hysteria propaganda being spewed by the corporate media with the unlimited billions of Pete Peterson's Fix the Debt astroturf cabalLie Number Three: President Obama wants to implement the Pete Peterson/Simpson-Bowles chained CPI for reducing lifetime Social Security benefits. So, for Messina to moan in an email that he cares about seniors suffering under the sequester,  is not only beyond hypocritical, it is downright cruel. Lie Number Four: most sequestration cuts will unfold gradually, not "hit us with a sledgehammer" overnight.

President Obama is insulting our intelligence. He is trying to fool us into participating in our own destruction. He is using a mendacious email blast like a shot of anesthesia to prepare us for his scalpel. By  fooling people into signing a consent form for "smart" surgery they don't even need and will end up hurting them, he is committing some mighty egregious malpractice. The austerian medicine he's peddling during this time of economic stagnation and joblessness and the most severe income inequality since the Gilded Age is pure poison.

First, do no harm, said the wise Hippocrates. Oops. Never mind. They don't even make real doctors swear that little oath any more.

But I was heartened to receive one very wise and true email this morning from my friend Peter S., who was responding to my comment about money running politics on Paul Krugman's column last night. He shares this quote from Guy Debord:

"For the first time, the same people are the masters of everything that is done and of everything that is said about what is done. And so Madness 'hath builded her house in the high places of the city.' "


Kat said...

OMG Karen! Did you sign up for monthly giving to OFA? Who will stop those rascally Republicans?

Zee said...


I had never heard of "Guy Debord" before today's essay, and I probably never will hear of him again, unless you or Peter S. can persuade me that he is "essential reading."

As nearly as I can tell from the Wikipedia article for which you provided the link--and related articles that I could find by "Googling" Debord myself--he was a self-absorbed, petulant, probably quite boring, and very minor French intellectual who once called his own book, The Society of the Spectacle, "the most important book of the twentieth century".

His "importance" was only recognized after he chose to kill himself, whereupon:

"The French press promptly made him a celebrity, never before having acknowledged the significance of the Situationist International or Debord's work."

Quelle bore!

From what I have read of his Marxist-based "philosophy" per Wikipedia and other articles, Henri, Le Chat Noir has much more to offer to post-modern society from the French perspective.

Pearl said...


Regarding your comment about Guy Sebord whom I knew nothing about and who was quoted in Karen`s column, I also read about him in Wikipedia as I often do when people are mentioned by
Karen or readers. I also read the biography reference you included and neither source of information stated that --'he was a self-absorbed, petulant, probably quite boring, and very minor French intellectual' and you added at the end 'quelle bore!' and the comment about 'he chose to die' which there may have been legitimate reasons for instead of gaining attention as you intimated, was insensitive.

It seems that he was a very active member of various left wing groups, had many followers and although his
interpretations of Marxism sounded vague and complicated doesn't mean he didn't contribute anything worthwhile to the Paris political movements of the time. He would not have been honored after his death because he merely died unless there was some importance about his life that was recognized by his country.

To disagree with his political and social beliefs is your right and I and others might agree with your opinions, but to basically malign him with shallow comments reminds me too much of how people of opposition such as ourselves are often described in order to diminish our importance.

Denis Neville said...

Karen, Thanks for sharing that quote by Guy Debord.

The Situationists maintained that modern life made everyone a consumer and therefore a serf. Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle was an indictment of the hypocrisy of our lives. We are all victims of a con-trick which gives us the illusion of choice. DeBord waged war against what he called "the forces of spectacular domination."

Guy Debord and the Occupy Wall Street movement

The initial concept for Occupy Wall Street came from Adbusters, whose chief inspiration came from Guy Debord and the Situationist movement and the 1968 protests in Paris.

“We are not just inspired by what happened in the Arab Spring recently, we are students of the Situationist movement. Those are the people who gave birth to what many people think was the first global revolution back in 1968 when some uprisings in Paris suddenly inspired uprisings all over the world. All of a sudden universities and cities were exploding. This was done by a small group of people, the Situationists, who were like the philosophical backbone of the movement. One of the key guys was Guy Debord, who wrote The Society of the Spectacle. The idea is that if you have a very powerful meme — a very powerful idea — and the moment is ripe, then that is enough to ignite a revolution. This is the background that we come out of.” - Kalle Lasn, Adbusters editor and co-founder,

@ Pearl – excellent comment

Words of wisdom I learned from my mother: “If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Despite the Situationists’ reputation for difficulty, they are not really all that hard to understand. Those who took part in Occupy Wall Street understood them far better than those snide and silly, “tiny, extinct priesthood of jargon-spouting frogs.”