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.


Denis Neville said...

Let the austerian times roll! “Let them eat cat food.”

Where nothing is sacred, we the people will perish.

A Thousand Cuts:

"Politicians are the public face of corporate power. They are corporate employees. Their personal narratives, their promises, their rhetoric and their idiosyncrasies are meaningless. And that, perhaps, is why the cost of the two presidential campaigns is estimated to reach an obscene $2.5 billion. The corporate state does not produce a product that is different. It produces brands that are different. And brands cost a lot of money to sell.

“You can dismiss those of us who will in protest vote for a third-party candidate and invest our time and energy in acts of civil disobedience. You can pride yourself on being practical. You can swallow the false argument of the lesser of two evils. But ask yourself, once this nightmare starts kicking in, who the real sucker is.” – Chris Hedges, “How Do You Take Your Poison?”

hermanas said...

perhaps the homeless camping on the mall this summer would open eyes.

James F Traynor said...

God, there a lovely lot. Makes you want them fricasseed and washed down with a nice chianti.

James F Traynor said...

They're, not there.

Denis Neville said...

Spikes in homeless families across nation indicate the severity of our current economic stress.

How many homeless families does it take to make a billionaire?

Barack Hoover Obama, forgetting history, is turning himself into a modern day Hoover by preemptively giving up FDR’s New Deal social and economic programs. Our Democratic president, and increasing numbers of elected Democratic representatives in Congress, will not rest until all vestiges of the social safety net programs associated with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal are dead and buried with him.

“The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Happy days are coming again!

Break out the Hoovervilles, Hoover hogs, Hoover flags, Hoover blankets, and Hoover Pullmans.

Karen Garcia said...

Is there a religious deprogrammer in the house? I can't seem to get away from the churchy metaphors, even in my response to Krugman's column:

The way the pundits go on about The Market, it's a fire-breathing god with an anger management problem. It demands coddling, reassurance and constant sacrifice from us mere mortals.

Never mind that people have already sacrificed enough, having lost their life savings, their jobs, and their physical and mental health from the previous perverse antics of the Market God. Wall Street won't rest until every last drop of blood has been extracted from the body politic on the altar of its greed.

President Obama, unfortunately, has fully embraced the austerity dogma as dictated from on high by the free market deity. He even gathered the appropriately religious number of 12 GOP "disciples" around him for a special supper as prelude to a grand bargain for the grandees, a safety net slice-o-rama designed to send a thrill right into the centrist center of the Fix the Debt protection racket. Austerity will be going forth and multiplying with a vengeance.

They chatted about chained CPI for retirees between mouthfuls of foie gras and Lobster Thermidor, having skipped over the Sequester appetizer. Head Start kids, poor people who depend on home heating assistance, abused women in need of emergency shelter, and those facing cuts in their unemployment checks? Not on the discussion menu at all any more, apparently.

Maybe our leaders are expecting a round of applause. But if they keep this up, they will soon get their just desserts, both in the streets and in the voting booths.

James F Traynor said...

The Lede (NYT) claims that the 'too big to fail' banks have done better in surviving computer based stress tests, then finishes with the statement that Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs didn't do so well. And naming them 'trading banks'. Well, hell, that was the trouble in the first place. And Dimon at Chase recently scared the shit out of everybody with his little trading 'mistake'. These guys are still playing Russian roulette - they've just lowered the caliber from .44 to .32 and called it Dodd-Frank.

Zee said...

Off topic, but I thought that this was a hoot coming from an administration that values symbolism over substance:

The article in its entirety except for the included link:

'Oh, dear. This is probably not the symbolism the White House wanted.

Hours after CIA Director John Brennan took the oath of office—behind closed doors, far away from the press, perhaps befitting his status as America's top spy—the White House took pains to emphasize the symbolism of the ceremony.

“There's one piece of this that I wanted to note for you,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at their daily briefing. “Director Brennan was sworn in with his hand on an original draft of the Constitution that had George Washington's personal handwriting and annotations on it, dating from 1787.”

Earnest said Brennan had asked for a document from the National Archives that would demonstrate the U.S. is a nation of laws.

"Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA,” Earnest said.

The Constitution itself went into effect in 1789. But troublemaking blogger Marcy Wheeler points out that what was missing from the Constitution in 1787 is also quite symbolic: The Bill of Rights, which did not officially go into effect until December 1791 after ratification by states. (Caution: Marcy's post has some strong language.)

That means: No freedom of speech and of the press, no right to bear arms, no Fourth Amendment ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and no right to a jury trial.

How ... symbolic?'
(My bold emphasis.)

I can't help but wonder if some clever archivist knew exactly what (s)he was doing?

Pearl said...

An excerpt from an article in the Christian Science Monitor:

The drop in joblessness in February - from 7.9 percent in January - came partly for the "wrong" reason. Although part of the improvement came from new hiring, a big factor was a rise in the number of adults not looking for work.

The Labor Department itself didn't play up the jobless-rate shift, saying in its press release that the unemployment rate "has shown little improvement, on net, since September 2012."

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@James F Traynor: Damn you! I want to stay outraged by the maneuverings of contemporary politicians, but your first comment has made me laugh --- and made me hungry! Now where are those fava beans to accompany the main course?!

@Karen: Great column here, great comment on Krugman's NYT column. No need for your deprogramming. The 12 Disciples/ Last Supper metaphor was an appropriate segue into the criticism they all so justly deserve.

@Zee: Yeah, ironic for Brennan to take the oath of office on a version of the Constitution that precedes the Bill of Rights, which thinking Americans understand as an essential safeguard for liberty. Note though the comment at the Marcy Wheeler site that references more recent agreements pertaining to human rights:

Old stuff:

Yeah, @Karen, that Titanic II story that you mentioned in your previous post also caught my attention --- as did the recent Denis Tito push for a trip to Mars. Exotic travel, on this planet or off of it, so that the rich can avoid facing the many needs of most ordinary citizens. They want an exotic trip? I say send them to Devil's Island, or Alcatraz.

@Zee, thanks for your recent info/links about the cost of military weapons systems. I did see your comment here at Sardonicky prior to your mirroring it at my blog. Actually, unless I've recently posted something at my own blog (when I therefore might be expecting comments, and thus would check), I'm far more likely to see a post at Sardonicky sooner. I didn't immediately acknowledge because I intended a long comment, about other things as well, and then got sidetracked by some obligations. Anyways, stay tuned, my post will hopefully be done this weekend. (It's essentially done --- and 3700 words! stop me before I blog again! --- but I do have some more fact checking and linking to complete). Military spending is actually only a small portion of this upcoming post, and I decided to express costs in one of the ways that Eisenhower did in his 1953 "The Chance for Peace" speech, that is, as bushels of wheat! But I'm sure the broader scope of the links you provided will be useful in the future.

@4Runner: thanks for the reference to

@all: on the subject of the MIC evading sequestration (even if --- perhaps especially if --- the particular weapons programs are massively costly, and fail to meet design objectives):

from the above article:

"The Department of Defense sheltered the F-35 funding from spending cuts even as officials warn they will have to impose furloughs on civilian workers and reduce troop training at the risk of combat readiness."

And did anyone notice the irony of the recent PBS NewsHour news coverage of Bradley Manning's court appearance? It had recently been revealed that Manning had originally wanted to leak to the New York Times rather than Wikileaks, but apparently no one at the paper took a serious interest. So who does the NewsHour choose to comment on Manning's court appearance? Yeah, you guessed it, someone from the NYT, with no questions or commentary regarding their journalistic failure.

Denis Neville said...

What symbolic irony! John Brennan was sworn in as CIA Director using Constitution lacking Bill of Rights.

What exactly does the Constitution and Bill of Rights or the related amendments have to do with America these days? Rights are passé. We are living in a Brave New World.

“It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.” - George Orwell, 1984

John Brennan, Obama’s drone czar and "the Holy Ghost" in Obama's targeted killing program, delivered a speech on drone ethics at the Woodrow Wilson Center last year.

WWGO think?

George Orwell on German buzz bombs (drones):

“I NOTICE that apart from the widespread complaint that the German pilotless planes ‘seem so unnatural’ (a bomb dropped by a live airman is quite natural, apparently), some journalists are denouncing them as barbarous, inhumane, and ‘an indiscriminate attack on civilians’.

“After what we have been doing to the Germans over the past two years, this seems a bit thick, but it is the normal human response to every new weapon. Poison gas, the machine-gun, the submarine, gunpowder, and even the crossbow were similarly denounced in their day. Every weapon seems unfair until you have adopted it yourself. But I would not deny that the pilotless plane, flying bomb, or whatever its correct name may be, is an exceptionally unpleasant thing, because, unlike most other projectiles, it gives you time to think. What is your first reaction when you hear that droning, zooming noise? Inevitably, it is a hope that the noise won’t stop. You want to hear the bomb pass safely overhead and die away into the distance before the engine cuts out. In other words, you are hoping that it will fall on somebody else. So also when you dodge a shell or an ordinary bomb—but in that case you have only about five seconds to take cover and no time to speculate on the bottomless selfishness of the human being.” – June 30, 1944

James F Traynor said...

Google' Dwayne Clarridge'. Old Hannibal (as in Lecter) doesn't seem so bad now, does he. Just misunderstood.

Denis Neville said...

Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole rewrites the opening lines of seven well-known books for his seven short stories about drones:

• Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Pity. A signature strike leveled the florist’s. [Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf]
• Call me Ishmael. I was a young man of military age. I was immolated at my wedding. My parents are inconsolable. [Moby Dick by Herman Melville]
• Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stair head bearing a bowl of lather. A bomb whistled in. Blood on the walls. Fire from heaven. [Ulysses by James Joyce]
• I am an invisible man. My name is unknown. My loves are a mystery. But an unmanned aerial vehicle from a secret location has come for me. [Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison]
• Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was killed by a Predator drone. [The Trial by Franz Kafka]
• Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond. His torso was found, not his head. [Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe]
• Mother died today. The program saves American lives. [The Stranger by Albert Camus]

Teju Cole, Nigerian small local news, fait divers that are eminently tweetable, Small Fates:

• “Madam, the car has been stolen,” Amaziah, a driver in Lagos said, correctly, as he had stolen it himself with a duplicated key.
• Arrested by fearless police officers, the four men who robbed a bank in Ikorudu were all themselves fearless police officers.
• E. Mozie, 28, won’t finish his political science degree at the University of Jos. He stole two phones and is to be hanged.
• If sneaking into a house to have sex with a neighbor's sleeping wife is wrong, Edunjobi, of Oshodi, doesn't want to be right.
• In Lagos, Mr Sikiru, 33, and Mrs Awosanya, 38, inspected schools and pocketed bribes, as though they were actual government employees.

Kat said...

Thanks for sharing those tweets! I liked his series that referenced Downton Abbey. There is something about the popularity of this show that strikes me as deeply disturbing (beyond the silly soapishness of it.)

James F Traynor said...


I think it was a typo. Should read glacage (one 'l') - a kind of glaze. Not that it matters.