Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Games Plutocrats Play

Many a tear has to fall, but it's all in the game.* 

Even though Weeper of the House John Boehner rails, "This isn't some damned game!"

It most certainly is, suavely counters Secretary of State of Affairs John Kerry. Think of this little tiff as a rare bad inning for the World Series champs. 

The fact that one upstart, extremist right wing faction seemingly has the power to bring the greatest nation on Earth to its knees should not be cause for too much concern, he reassured the wavering global client/fan base of Team America. This shutdown kerfuffle is merely an example of how broad-minded and exceptional and strong we truly are. Since it is indeed all a game, it's patently unfair that the United States is getting such a bad rap and taking such an unfair hit to its good rep.
“Do not mistake this momentary episode in American politics as anything more than a moment of politics,” he said. “This is an example of the robustness of our democracy.”
I imagine that those nearly one million furloughed federal workers are breathing a huge collective sigh of relief right about now. When the bill collectors call, they can always say they are experiencing a momentary episode. The robustness of their endangered personal credit ratings must not be challenged.

The New York Times inadvertently broadcast the real truth: "Standing in for President Obama at an economic summit in Asia, (Kerry) warned on Saturday that the United States’ reputation was endangered because of the government shutdown, which sends the message that “we can’t get out (sic) own act together.”

Whereby he confirmed that the latest piece of bipartisan Disaster Capitalism is, of course, just an act. And that we the people are just the audience posing as unpaid bit players in the whole staged fiasco. Along with the furloughed workers, we will breathe a collective sigh of relief as the bickering parties in a fundamentally solid marriage finally come together to renew their vows.... their Grand Bargain for the Grandees. The Republicans won because they got all their hatred out in the open. The Democrats won because they made a good show of fighting for the peeps, even as they started their negotiations having already accepted austerian budget numbers.

The Democrats, as a few analysts point out, have essentially adopted flim-flam man Paul Ryan's budget. All this talk about Obama standing firm against the Republicans is bullshit. He already caved. John Boehner already got 98% of everything he wanted. Wall Street already got 1000% of everything it wanted.

It's all in the game.

Once in awhile he won't call, but it's all in the game. Soon he'll be there at your side with a sweet bouquet. Then he'll kiss your lips and caress your waiting fingertips. And your hearts will fly away.

The sweet bouquet, of course, is cutting Social Security through chained CPI, along with the possible raising of the Medicare eligibility age, no new taxes on the rich, further tweaks to Obamacare, and maybe even approval of the tar sands pipeline. Obama has left "entitlement reforms" on the table for a romantic candlelit dinner in the denouement of Crisis Theater, 2013. Kiss and Makeup Time is inevitable. John Kerry promised this to the fan base of the whole world. They're just waiting for either the staged GOP temper tantrum to bawl itself out, or for Obama to issue a time-out and invoke the 14th. Either way, he wants to bargain away the great social insurance programs of the 20th century.

"The robustness of the Market shall not be challenged" is what he dog-whistled. The world shall remain safe for plutocracy.

Unless, of course, more of us spectators make our voices heard. We stopped the bombing on Syria. We stopped the appointment of Larry Summers to the Federal Reserve. We can also stop the final shredding of the New Deal. We can crash their makeup scene, take all the pleasure out of their fervid makeout session.

We can, and must, get out of the box the media-industrial complex has constructed for us. This is not about Democrats vs. Republicans, and picking a side. This is about the .01% vs. the rest of us. It's about resetting the terms of the Class War.

* This pop staple was actually written by Calvin Coolidge's vice president, Charles Dawes... who was a banker before he entered politics. Plus ça change, etc.

** Update: here's a link to Maureen Dowd's cinematic column, comparing Jeffersonian "Utopia" to Ted Cruz-inspired Thunderdome. It got good reviews from the usual critics; it had me riveted right up to the point where she seemed to compare Julian Assange to a crazoid militia dude. I notice that all our usual media suspects, stung by recent criticism of their "both sides do it" journalism, are now on their best behavior and trying to be very careful not to lump the Dems and the Pugs together in the Shutdown debacle. Ergo, for some reason, Dowd drags out Assange as an example of extreme leftism. My comment:

Great cinematic treatment of 2084. But for many of us, the future is now.

You might even say it started with Jefferson himself, whose declaration that all men are created equal didn't extend to freeing his own slaves. His utopia was envisioned as a utopia for the ruling class.. Emancipation was always for another day. That "existential dread" has been a way of life for the underclass since the founders did the founding. Just ask the Native Americans.

The most recent outbreak of fear of our own government is due not only to the antics of the Tea Party. It stems from the overarching, paranoid antics of the national surveillance state, the evisceration of civil liberties, and capitalism gone wild. Julian Assange did us all a favor revealing such antics. So casting him as a villain in your dystopian film makes me suspect that the script came from the same official sources that brought us "Zero Dark 30."

And it's a movie we've seen before. Create a crisis, foment some fear, use it as a smokescreen to rob the poor and give to the rich. Even John Kerry as much as admitted that the current showdown meltdown is just a glitch in the well-oiled machine. He told a nervous crowd in Asia: "Do not mistake this momentary episode in American politics as anything more than a moment of politics, This is an example of the robustness of our democracy.”

Translation: Fear not, blood-sucking plutocrats. The fundamentals of the Market are strong. Keeping you well-fed is our highest priority.


Will said...

You know what I hate just as bad as Obama's voice? When Boehner says "the American people" this or that. Like friggin' fingernails on a chalkboard, man.

Anyway, here's a 1-minute cartoon that made me chuckle today. Enjoy. :)

Pearl said...

If this impossible shut down situation continues, I feel that Obama will make a secret deal with some semi sane Republicans to agree to cutbacks to our current set up (SS., Taxes,ad infinitum) if they will drop the issue of Obamacare and get rid of their great Speaker of the House. There may be enough frightened Repugs to be willing to accomplish this. Citizen revolt is helpful.

Meanwhile the paperwork for people applying for the new regulations (ACA) is totally unready and may delay immediate coverage for many desperate citizens. This is besides other complications with getting states to accept Medicaid. It is a nightmare mess.

Noodge said...

@ Pearl:

Your comment brings to mind Oveta Culp Hobby saying nobody could have foreseen the demand for the Salk vaccine. How could they not have?

For Barack Obama, it's even worse. Obama said public interest far exceeded the government's expectations. The ACA REQUIRES people to buy health insurance. How could he not know precisely how many people would be headed for the exchanges? And from Obama's standpoint it's vitally important that this program succeed. How could he not have been on top of the roll-out?

Krugman in his blog today said that the last couple of years have destroyed the notion that the Republicans are the party of governmental competence. That "the old Will Rogers line — I’m not a member of any organized political party,I’m a Democrat — has lost its sting; the upper hand is on the other foot."

We may, as a people, have come around to the notion that the Republicans are incompetent, Paul, but that doesn't mean the Democrats have suddenly become masters of governance. Far from it.

The Black Swan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Black Swan said...


If you happen to wander by today, I thought you might like this:

In fact I think everyone should take a look. Democracy can't coexist with raw capitalism. People looking for work in order to survive are not free human beings.

The apparatus of our enslavement is the tool of our liberation.

May all beings be happy.

Jay - Ottawa said...

The straightforward Republican Way of mucking up the ACA is to de-fund it and shutter the bureaucracy needed to implement it.

The devious White House Way of mucking up the ACA is to play stupid about the bureaucratic basics of sound administration.

Mission Accomplished: neither party was, is or ever will be serious about healthcare for all.

Pearl said...

Karen: Please put your wonderful comment to Maureen's interesting column on our website. I am sure the people in the U.S. without jobs, health care, safety from violence or hope see the country as she has pictured it. Lots of things are becoming exposed now and the picture ain't pretty. Maybe we are
in for a real shake-up finally.

Zee said...

@The Black Swan--

Thanks for the link. Fred Drumlevitch also referred to it on a previous thread (I'm losing track), piqueing both my curiousity and my calculator as to what this might cost the Swiss--or us, if we attempt to do the same thing.

It has reminded me--along with some other things that I have read recently courtesy of Sardonicky--of topics that I wish to discuss both here and on your own blog.

However, upcoming travel and some minor home emergencies will require that it wait at least a week or two.

James F Traynor said...

Everyone should get over the idea, at once, that the Republicans are stupid. They definitely are not; they are vicious, cunning, ruthless. Understand that and you're half way there. Never, ever underestimate them. Do business with them - we have to, but they are the enemy. Something they never forget and neither should we. That Tip O'Neal - Reagan baloney is just that. Each, given the opportunity, would've gutted the other - and cried at the funereal.

Zee said...


A question well-asked:

"How could [Obama] not know precisely how many people would be headed for the exchanges? And from Obama's standpoint it's vitally important that this program succeed. How could he not have been on top of the roll-out?" --Noodge (My bold emphasis.)

"How," indeed?

Well, perhaps because the guy is a faux genius. You know, the guy whose IQ was supposed to be "off the charts," despite the fact that no one had ever seen any of his academic records--let alone the results of an IQ test--and also despite the fact that he had never published so much as an iota of scholarly legal thought in his entire faux career.

Barack Obama is like Robert Redford's character in the movie, "The Candidate." Once elected, the Senator-elect plaintively asked, "Now what?" and the screen cut to the credits, if I remember accurately.

Well, Obama never got an answer to that question, and he's still hoping and praying that, left to their own devices--because Congressional Democrats are equally useless--things will somehow just work out.

"Why bother to look in on all those computer programmers who have been frantically setting up the dysfunctional exchanges, and see if they're doing their job? I've given them their marching orders-- via layer after layer of bureaucracy--and so it WILL be as I have commanded."

Not being a laboratory scientist or engineer, Obama never learned the many corallaries to Murphy's Law, one of which is:

"Left to their own devices, things will go from bad to worse."

Well, Obama's good at "leaving things to their own devices," and we can see how well that's working out for him.

I don't think we have ever seen a less "hands-on" President than Obama. And the people are reaping the "benefits" of what he has failed to sow.

James F Traynor said...

Yes, Black Swan, the Swiss, unlike us, know the beast and manage to live with it. And the beast knows it - here and there. It is the same animal.

Zee said...

@The Black Swan and @James--

While I continue to be intrigued by the possibility of offering a Guaranteed Annual Income here in the U.S., it's important to observe that at the moment, the Swiss initiative has been put on the ballot by only "more than the 100,000 signatures" in a country of 8,000,000 people.

So it remains to be seen whether or not the initiative--which would guarantee an annual income of $33,600 to every citizen (presumably, of some threshold age)--is passed by the entire electorate.

I'll keep my eye out for such stories, and I hope you will, too.

Also, I'm intrigued by the Swiss "1:12 initiative," which would limit the annual income for corporate executives to 12 times the income of the lowest paid employee.

We could use something like this here, too.

Zee said...

@Karen, ré The Update--

I hope that you were being sarcastic when you claimed to find Dowd's column “riveting” up until the point that Julian Assange was portrayed as “ a crazoid militia dude.” Please, say it ain't so! (As I have said before, sarcasm is sometimes lost on me.)

I found the whole thing at best a very strained and seriously inconsistent satire—certainly NOT a Jeremiad—once Dowd explained that “[t]he BlackBerrys that were pried from the hands of White House employees in 2013 are now piled up on the Potomac as a flood barrier against the ever-rising tide from melting ice caps. Their owners, unable to check their messages, went insane long ago.”

One could only wish 't'were so!

If—despite my suspicions and against all logic—Dowd was being serious, well, I'm sure that Liberal Democrats and Progressives would love the piece. Portraying Republicans—falsely known as “conservatives”—as the ones who reduced our struggling society to one of climate catastrophe and ensuing cannibalism fits right in with trite liberal dogma.

I take Dowd's “predictions”—and, again, I think she was merely making a sorry attempt at Swiftian satire—about as seriously as I take those of Sir Bob Geldof, musician-turned-Nobel-Prize-winning atmospheric physicist (Not!) who claims that humanity will be extinct by 2030 owing to catastrophic climate change.

After all, who could doubt the scientific prognostication of a “former Boomhouse Rats singer[?]”

PS: I note that Geldof was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, too. In my eyes, that puts his credibility on the same level as you-know-who.

James F Traynor said...

As I said, the Swiss know the beast.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Did you hear the one about the proctologists who kept dropping in on the bars where Congress Critters congregate? Read on. It seems the AMA has weighed in on Obama's ACA.

The Allergists were in favor of scratching it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists sort of had a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

Meanwhile, Obstetricians felt certain everyone was laboring under a misconception, while the Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted.

Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Pediatricians said, "Oh, grow up!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.

Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing and the Internists claimed it would indeed be a bitter pill to swallow.

The Plastic Surgeons opined that this proposal would "put a whole new face on the matter".

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and those lofty Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.