to describe an entity
that exists only for its own benefit. A quick web search seems to show this phrase is commonly used by policy wonks
to describe government
institutions. In his article "The Intelligence Gap: How the digital age left our spies out in the cold"1
, Seymour M. Hersh
wrote this about the NSA
: "One former official described the civilian leadership
as 'a self-licking ice-cream cone', with little tolerance for dissent
or information it did not wish to hear."
1The New Yorker
, December 6, 1999, pp. 58-76.