Cartoon by Michelle Sayles
I'd known it was coming for a while but it was on a miserable winter day that it all came crashing in on each of us. It was the kind of day that made me long for a stiff drink and a soft bed as I sloshed my way home from the shit-hole job that I'm too embarrassed to tell anybody but close friends and family about. As I pried off my wretchedly holey shoes and attempted to restore blood-flow to my blue toes, I glanced up to see the news spread across the computer screen. In big black letters the headline proclaimed “CONGRESS PASSES FARM BILL, CUTS $8.5 BILLION FROM FOOD STAMPS.”
“Well fuck!” I grumbled as my gastrointestinal tract changed positions in apparent disgust with all things displayed on that glowing blue screen. Given the numerous other shit decisions being handed down from Congress in the name of bi-partisan bullshit, I could no longer claim that this treachery was unexpected. After all, the Congress-as-Human-Centipede model had achieved perfection years ago. Such was the level of stitched-orifice cooperation that the very word “bi-partisan” ought to be recognized as the whole lot singing “fuck you!” in 535 part harmony. Our only hope left was the unlikely possibility that the too-well-spoken Obama would veto this heinous rag brought to him from Capitol Hill.
Suppressing the urge to heave Molotov cocktails at the nearest large edifice, I shook my fist quietly at the drones that are likely monitoring Vermont's northern border and pictured the disgusting bunch of law-writers and lobbyists at their celebratory gala, filing in under that phallic dome in all their ghoulish splendor. Unlike most stiff-necked Washington get-togethers, each of the revolting inhabitants of power and privilege are preparing to let it all hang out tonight. There, using the heavily soiled carcass of Old Glory herself for a tablecloth, all the Senators and Representatives are scurrying to and fro in eager anticipation of their guests of honor. Presiding over every debauched preparation is the bulge-veined Speaker of the House John Boehner: snarling and grunt-thumping from his rabid elephant seal countenance at any hapless human soul within reach. Taking their seats at the great table the Congress are joined by their closest friends and confidants: slithering in from global headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas are the Waltons, looking more like a medusa's head of hagfish than any discernible individual; in one year, nine of their vaunted WalMart stores in Massachusetts had sucked up more than $33 million in food stamps, over four times the amount spent at our nation's well-meaning farmer's markets in the same space of time.
Now arriving, in a click-clack-clacking of claws and spines on the marble floor, are the guests of honor. It can be said that there are many ghouls, monsters, and parasites in attendance this evening, but the sight of these two creatures make even the most resistant of Representatives gasp and scurry to recesses of the corridors, surely the best way to keep out of decapitation range. Horrifically spiny crustaceans bound to be on the “immune to nuclear radiation” list of unsavory creatures, the Brothers Koch have arrived. Identifiable at distance by their arachnid-typewriter footfalls, their latest boondoggle is intimately tied to the Farm Bill.
Part of the evil of this bill is how it preserves corporate exceptionalism: through god-knows-how-many campaign contributions and lobbyists slinking through the capitol, the Koch monster has been able to secure $881 million in mandatory spending for the biomass industry; through which the Koch-owned Georgia-Pacific Company can exploit the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Six states (spanning from Florida to Oregon) will now let America's worst parasites scratch, scrape, and suck every last shred of biomass from the ecosystem while poisoning any shriveling local economies (not to mention their watersheds) along the way.
Fuck Wikipedia. If you want to know the genuine meaning of “natural resource extraction” look to the windfall profits of Brothers Koch and their scorched-earth march to Washington.
While the Ghoulish Gala rages on, we continue to toil in our lives down below the tables of power. Out of sight from congressional corridors and out of mind of those committing economic genocide upon the fabric of the American Dream. We're growing hungry. More and more of us each day will throw open the doors of creaky cabinets and empty refrigerators and find nothing more than the scraps thrown to us, almost as an afterthought, by politicians and the corporate peddlers they've come to so plainly serve. In years past, most of us hungry enough to receive foodstamps were the very young and the very old. Now, the unbearable ache of hunger and poverty is striking so blindly in America that working age adults make up the majority of the human beings yearning for a meal.
This is new territory for us. We've never been here before as a nation. Rising inequality and pathetically stagnant wages are poisoning the economic well. Middle-earners, those who are neither rich nor poor, are now on the declining side of income distribution. Things are slowly getting worse for everybody with the overwhelming exception of the vile creatures at the top, each disgusting one happily awaiting their feast.
Passing this new bill, they've pushed so many of us so decisively in the hole that they're losing track of their own beltway buzzwords: the painfully accurate term “sequesterity” dripping from their mouths. Even now, the stain is slowly taking hold on that threadbare flag; pooling somewhere in the deep blue of the Union before finally setting in and darkening the stars.