Sunday, July 10, 2011

Horace and Gabe, Cousins [1]

President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue.

At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems and that policymakers should seize the moment to take dramatic action.

As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.

“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.” [2]


One fine afternoon, enticed by the blue sky, and a tepid sun, Mr. Rabbit slipped his favorite hat over his long ears and tentatively stepped out his front door.

As he closed it, the door squeaked a little, but still too loud for comfort, thought Mr. Rabbit. And with a swift movement of his right hand, he inserted a wide, rusty key into a rustier lock; and, although the key turned with difficult, the lock finally clicked, giving him all the assurance he needed that his home, the one he had dug out of the high side of a hill, would be secure during his short absence.

Mr. Rabbit rarely ventured beyond his hillside home during the day, and certainly not by his front door, but usually under the cloak of darkness, and then from a concealed opening he'd built for such stealthy egress, relying only on the light of a moody moon, and surly stars to guide him.

He and the Mrs. had lived there happily until a hunter's aim, finding its mark, had left him a widower. Now grown, their several kids lived in burrows of their own.

Hopping to the end of the sidewalk, he paused momentarily to test the direction of the wind, using a wetted, upturned foot.

Taking the wind's advice, Mr. Rabbit set out to his right on the heavily trodden path that led through the forest to the river.

As he approached the river's muddy edge, Mr. Rabbit spied two strange creatures; both were reclining in lounge chairs, and using long straws to drink a frothy reddish liquid from tall glasses, clearly hoping that the sun would, after a languid morning, turn up the heat on their naked, scaly bodies.

Yielding to his instincts, and his better judgment, Mr. Rabbit lowered his head and began to retrace his steps, already regretting his decision to leave the comfort and security of his home during daylight hours.

"Mr. Rabbit!" yelled one of the scaly creatures through a pointed, v-shaped snout, beckoning him forward with a massive leg. "There's nothing to fear."

"That's right, Mr. Rabbit," said the other scaly creature, flashing a toothy grin from a rounded, u-shaped snout.

Doubly assured, Mr. Rabbit hopped closer to the two, confident that he could scurry away faster than the two could rise from their lounge chairs to give him chase.

"What kind of creatures are you?" asked Mr. Rabbit, furrowing his brow more emphatically than caution would have suggested.

"I'm a crocodile and my cousin's an alligator," said the creature to his left.

"No, I'm a crocodile, and my scaly cousin is an alligator," protested the creature to his right, contradicting the claim of the first. "Just in case you might ask, my name's Horace. I'm on vacation, and a goodly distance from home, spending a little time with my cousin, Gabe.

Mr. Rabbit scratched his white, furry head, and with a serious, searching frown, eyed the two, Horace, and his cousin, Gabe. "The two of you must be related," he said, finally. "It's hard to tell you apart."

"That's because you're standing so far away," said, Horace. "Come closer!"

Mr. Rabbit, still believing that he could outrun any danger the two cousins could pose, hopped within a couple of feet of the two.

"Now take a closer look," urged Horace, as he sucked on the straw, loud, exaggeratedly, filling his mouth with an extended swig of the reddish drink, while shifting his considerable weight in the lounge chair. It was then that Ol' Jim, Mr. Rabbit's neighbor, flew overhead, navigating an invisible highway that only crows could see, and use, as he sounded an alarm so loud that it startled Mr. Rabbit.

"Kaw, kaw, kaw," came the warning, one that Mr. Rabbit could still hear long after Ol' Jim disappeared into the blue distance.

"Hmm," said Mr. Rabbit stroking his chin with his left foot. "Up close I can see that you are different." He looked first to his right at Horace, and then to his left at Gabe, searching intently for any small detail that might have escaped him.

"Well?" asked Horace, baring his sharp teeth, which passed as a disarming grin to the increasingly unwary eye of Mr. Rabbit, who was gradually lowering his guard.

"You, Sir," addressing Horace to his right, have a narrow snout and a protruding tooth on either side of your mouth."

At that, Horace grinned again, as he struggled mightily to suppress the twitching in his tail.

"And you, Sir," said Mr. Rabbit, now addressing Gabe to his left, eager to impress with another burst of insight, "your snout isn't as narrow as your cousin's, more rounded, I'd say, and all your teeth fit inside your mouth the way teeth should."

Mr. Rabbit could hardly contain himself. So pleased was he, that he attempted another step forward to confirm his clever, oh so clever, observations.

It was at that moment that Mr. Rabbit realized the unthinkable: His feet were stuck, shackled in mud. Unknown to him, they had sunk way too deep into the gluey mud for him to make a hasty retreat, if such a retreat became necessary; and it was also at that precise moment that Horace, correctly reading Mr. Rabbit's sticky predicament, swung his powerful tail across Mr. Rabbit's small, furry body, pinning him deeper into the mushy mud.

"Aha! We have you now!" exclaimed Horace, pressing his tail a bit harder on Mr. Rabbit's stuck body to stress his advantage, and to punctuate Mr. Rabbit's tight situation.

"Please, Sir!" pleaded Mr. Rabbit. "Let me go!"

Horace looked at his cousin, Gabe, and they both broke out with a wide grin that showed off their gleaming, sharp teeth.

"He wants us to let him go," said Horace, his voice feigning pity, mocking the entreating tone of Mr. Rabbit.

Sitting up in the lounge chair to bring his eyes on a level with Mr. Rabbit's, Horace continued the mockery, "What do you think, cousin? Should we let Mr. Rabbit go?"

"On one condition." said Gabe, with the air of one who's suddenly become aware of his importance. "We'll let him go, if he can tell which one of us is the croc, and which one the gator."

"Not fair!" cried Mr. Rabbit. "Before today, I've never seen a croc or a gator."

"Don't matter," said Horace, "that's the condition."

Gabe clapped his strong feet together gleefully, fully appreciating Mr. Rabbit's predicament and the growing promise of rabbit stew for dinner.

"All right, I'll do it," said Mr. Rabbit, poignantly aware that his opportunity for freedom had been chained to one hopeful venture, "but I'll need a minute or two."

"Take all the time you need, Mr. Rabbit," said Horace, with a grin, "you'll be sticking around for a while."

The moral: Whether you can tell the difference between crocs and gators won't matter much, 'cause, in the end, they'll both grow fatter, serving you up with brocs and taters, and such.


[1]Original story by Black Diaspora. Copyrighted July 2011.

[2]

10 comments:

msladydeborah said...

You wrote a great story with a good food for thought ending.

I find it interesting that inspite of all the different economic realities that have been in the face of the American people, it is only one sector of the population that has risen up to have their voice heard. That definitely is not the sector that represents my interests.

Greg L said...

BD,

Thanks for the story and yes, any difference between the two political parties is really limited to rhetoric. There exists those who are true defenders of the people, but they're muted and powerless. Just the other day, congress passes a new military appropriation with an increase of $ 17 billion over last years with absolutely no debate. It sailed right through the house. We have spent trillions on the wars killing people and billions of that were just straight up "lost" in Iraq and can't be accounted for. We collect a damn payroll tax that's earmarked to pay social security and medicare and yet those funds have been stolen to support a war machine because someone doesn't want to raise taxes. And now, rather than sharing the pain and cutting defense, you want to cut medicare and social security? Now, don't get me wrong, I know that entitlements are an issue, but the main issue is that the money set aside for them has been used for other stuff. Basically, what we have here is the beginning of austerity on the backs of the people.

It's painfully obvious that there is no one who is going to defend the interests of the people and just like Mr. Rabbit, we're being fattened for slaughter and in the current context, our vote is absolutely meaningless. It doesn't have to be this way and Obama can simply dig in his heels and insist on what makes sense; increase taxes on the rich and force defense cuts first. But he won't do that. To say that he's a profound disappointment is a understatement. Of course, I've been disappointed with a number of things about him for awhile.

We've officially arrived at a one party state. That much is clear.

Black Diaspora said...

msladydeborah said...
"You wrote a great story with a good food for thought ending."

Thanks, mslady.

"[I]t is only one sector of the population that has risen up to have their voice heard. That definitely is not the sector that represents my interests."

Nor mine. Despite claims that that "sector" is grassroot, we all know their AstroTurf origin, and that any solutions that they pose will be as radical, and as hurtful to the general welfare, as it will be beneficial to those interests that are supporting them.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "Basically, what we have here is the beginning of austerity on the backs of the people."

True. The coporatists are the only winners here, especially the multinationals that can service the emerging middle classes around the world as they once serviced us, and still pocket billions.

Our austerity, and lack of buying power, aren't going to hurt them as much as it's going to hurt us: Their markets have expanded to places like China and other emerging nations around the world.

"It doesn't have to be this way and Obama can simply dig in his heels and insist on what makes sense; increase taxes on the rich and force defense cuts first."

I'd like to think that Obama's positioning himself to take advantage of the extremists in congress, but that seems less likely given his previous negotiations with that bunch, where the Bush tax cuts were extended with very little to show for the effort.

"Just the other day, congress passes a new military appropriation with an increase of $ 17 billion over last years with absolutely no debate."

We can learn more about lawmakers, and this White House when we look to what they both agree on, have bipartisan support for--a meeting of the minds.

The only collision I fear is a meeting of the minds.

"We've officially arrived at a one party state. That much is clear."

Hopefully, Mr. Rabbit will come to that same realization, now that he's being measured for the stew pot.

Greg L said...

>>>We can learn more about lawmakers, and this White House when we look to what they both agree on, have bipartisan support for--a meeting of the minds....The only collision I fear is a meeting of the minds.<<<

Well that collision of minds is a collusion to fleece the people. Regrettably, this outrageous conduct is lost on most who are more enamored with the Casey Anthony trial than the drama that's occurring right in front of our eyes. One's eyes have to be open to see it and unfortunately there are too many who have no clue and that's why there's no organized opposition to any of this. There's too much unawareness. The administration nor the republicans could get away with any of this in the face of sustained opposition.

The people who are succeeding in getting every accommodation they want are very small in number, but are organized and have totally purchased the system including the media.

If the facts were fully know by the people, there'd be no partisan divide per se on most issues that really matter, but the manner in which the issues are parsed ensures that divide and that is greatly to the benefit of the corporatocracy. The last thing they want is consensus because they'd be finished. They much prefer dissension and chaos because that's fertile ground for shaping the sort of policies they want and this is what we're seeing.

If we had someone for the people, they'd be fighting tooth and nail against this and they'd have the backing of the people, but that's not even being sought.

Black Diaspora said...

One

@Greg L: "There's too much unawareness. The administration nor the republicans could get away with any of this in the face of sustained opposition."

Or, we're "aware," focused, as you often say, on the wrong things--willing victims of distraction.

Those on Capital Hill know what needs to be done to make us competitive again in the world, as do the White House, but neither side is willing to take the hard steps to restructure, to overhaul, our economic system, for fear that the Big Boys will invest their money in their opponents, opponents who are more than willing to play along.

You'd think that the miserable state of the economy would be "awareness" enough to draw attention to the political stalemates, and corruption that are now characterizing our politics.

What will it take: defaulting on our national debt (not raising our debt ceiling) to anchor people's attention long enough for them to see the "fleecing" of America that's being done at the behest of those who created the mess in the first place?

If I could be assured that an enlightened electorate would be the result of such a default, I'd say all to the good, bring it on.

But Fox News would still characterize the default as some liberal, Machiavellian plot to hold Republican's responsible for Obama's lack of leadership, or blame it on the intrigue of some Democratic cabal.

"The people who are succeeding in getting every accommodation they want are very small in number, but are organized and have totally purchased the system including the media."

The operative term is "purchased." We voted for representation, these small, but influential numbers, paid for it. Guess who's gonna get the attention of congress? Exactly, those who paid to get in, not the freeloaders, as the electorate, and the American people are often seen.

Don't extend unemployment insurance for the chronically unemployed, it will kill incentive, and encourage sloth.

But, for those who have grown richer during our economic struggles, and hardships, or for those corporations that are enjoying record profits, don't deny them their tax subsidies, or raise taxes to reduce the deficit. Instead, balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the middle class, and the disabled.

"If the facts were fully know by the people, there'd be no partisan divide per se on most issues that really matter, but the manner in which the issues are parsed ensures that divide and that is greatly to the benefit of the corporatocracy."

Again, I agree, but here's the rub: Today we have an electorate that, years ago, stopped thinking for itself, when the first talking heads emerged on the scene to tell them what to think--Rush Limbaugh being chief among them on the Right.

How else can you explain Sarah Palin's near celebrity status, and Michele Bachmann's meteoric rise in the polls?

"The last thing they want is consensus because they'd be finished. They much prefer dissension and chaos because that's fertile ground for shaping the sort of policies they want and this is what we're seeing."

Again, Right On! Crises, even those manufactured, serve political purposes as nothing else can.

We hear talk of a "debt ceiling" crisis. There's no such crisis! It was manufactured. The debt ceiling shouldn't be used in ways that it's now being used, not to fix the real problems facing this country--which came to the fore under George Bush, who squandered a sizable surplus--but to take a sharp knife to those odious social programs that people have become too dependent upon, depriving them of the "conservative freedom" to be poor, sick, and unemployed.

It's a national travesty!

Greg L said...

>>>We hear talk of a "debt ceiling" crisis. There's no such crisis! It was manufactured. The debt ceiling shouldn't be used in ways that it's now being used, not to fix the real problems facing this country--which came to the fore under George Bush, who squandered a sizable surplus--but to take a sharp knife to those odious social programs that people have become too dependent upon, depriving them of the "conservative freedom" to be poor, sick, and unemployed.<<<

Absolutely. By the time it the Milton Friedman, IMF type policies are recognized for what they are--ways to rape and pillage the public treasury--whole decades will have passed. Future historians who chronicle this time period may be free enough to tell the truth that's not recognized now.

What we're experiencing here in America and in Europe now are the same stunts that have been pulled in Africa and South America for decades--buy off the politicians, raid the public treasury and privatize everything to ensure future "rents". In Greece right now and in the rest of the European periphery, their debt "problems" are being "solved" by their corrupt politicians handing over state assets like lotteries, utilities and etc to the bankers while they cut public benefits and that's where we're going here. They know their game is up in the sense that everyone is tapped out. Governments and individuals not only can't pay their existing debts, but the demand for new loans is on the decline as anyone with any sense is getting out of debt. Both are a threat to their business model, so the only way they can survive is to grab "real" stuff and the same thing is being engineered right here in America.

I think that Americans are going to be awakened from their slumber mainly because of what's going to occur in Europe. I think there's going to be war there behind all of this. For years, there's been a gentleman's agreement to carve up the rest of the world and not fight each other, but they're not getting enough from the "colonies", so they're bringing the same system used in the third world home. Folks over there tend to be more politically aware and they're not going to take this lying down. The weak sisters that constitute the PIIGS are being taken over to accommodate French, German and American banks. Before long, I think there will be war.

We're being set up. The debt crisis is in fact being manufactured to enable a takeover.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "The weak sisters that constitute the PIIGS are being taken over to accommodate French, German and American banks. Before long, I think there will be war.

"We're being set up. The debt crisis is in fact being manufactured to enable a takeover."

PIIGS, tying their political and economic fortunes to the euro, and the eurozone, may prove unimaginably disastrous for all involved.

Wars have started over less!

I said upstring, "I'd like to think that Obama's positioning himself to take advantage of the extremists in congress."

Lately, it appears that he may be doing just that. So entrenched is the congressional Tea Party faction in its ideological foxhole (no new taxes, regardless of the consequences), that House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, may be finding themselves between Barack and a hard place.

This is the problem with a "non-negotiation stance," your opponent can use his flexibility to outmaneuver and outflank you.

Had Republicans agreed to give Obama what he wanted in return for cuts to Medicare and Social Security, I think he would have been prepared to make some rather deep cuts, which would have summarily ended his bid for a second presidential term.

It's a gamble, but one Obama was apparently willing to risk. Perhaps the capture of Osama bin Laden emboldened him to take such risks--the payoff, if you're successful, is incalculable.

At state and local levels, the "takeover" is in full force. Republicans have, for years, positioned their players (court appointments, and electoral wins), to expedite the seizure of valuable public resources.

For that reason, they're holding up Obama's federal court appointments.

Republicans don't play fair, and are as ruthless as tyrants in getting their way, in seizing and holding power, and doing whatever is necessary to win--no matter how winning is defined.

In Wisconsin, for example, Republicans ran phony Democrats to face Republican challengers that have been recalled, and passed legislation to make it harder for traditional democrats to vote in the recall election--students, and the elderly.

Resorting to tactics like this, I don't think the Republican Party has much of a future in this country--its demise seem imminent

Greg L said...

>>>Republicans don't play fair, and are as ruthless as tyrants in getting their way, in seizing and holding power, and doing whatever is necessary to win--no matter how winning is defined.

In Wisconsin, for example, Republicans ran phony Democrats to face Republican challengers that have been recalled, and passed legislation to make it harder for traditional democrats to vote in the recall election--students, and the elderly.

Resorting to tactics like this, I don't think the Republican Party has much of a future in this country--its demise seem imminent<<<<

With each passing day, the republican party becomes all the more ridiculous. I have a theory about this extreme right no holds barred no compromise ideology. Everything is a fight for a reason. Their purpose is to prevent consensus as that would be to the left of them, so they confuse every issue with a bunch of nonsense so true consensus based on an examination of the facts is never reached. They want emotions high and a lot of anger in support of that objective.

They are truly working for the big economic interests that have taken over the political class. There's no question about that. Very Nazi like is how they're set up.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "They want emotions high and a lot of anger in support of that objective."

True. I think Republicans calculate their every move. That will be the subject of my next blog entry.

Tempers on a fast or slow boil negates a careful, reasoned assessment of the issues at hand, generating knee-jerk reactions, when calmer, more well-thought-out responses are needed, because as you say: "Their purpose is to prevent consensus as that would be to the left of them...."