The Holder letter is small potatoes, coming as it did right on the heels of some truly monumental White House hypocrisy, with Obama's insistence that Congressional debate does not count as debate when it comes to impeding the ability of the police state to police us. Voting to take money away from the surveillance-industrial complex is just way too blunt. (in other words, way too public.)
Want more hypocrisy? A son of one of the most self-serving philanthropists on the planet has written an op-ed skewering the emergence of what he calls the Charitable-Industrial Complex. This is the bait and switch scam in which the warts of the greedy right hand are hidden beneath the pristine softness of philanthropic left hand. I was happy to see this piece, because it exposes the growing and nefarious substitution of private guilt-washing for a strong government safety net. Writes Peter Buffett:
Philanthropy has become the “it” vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups.
As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.”
It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.
The Obamas are huge aiders and abettors of the conscience-laundering industry. Michelle, for example, recently parachuted into Chicago to Empower Black Youth by boosting a charity of tycoons that uses poor black youths as poorly-paid interns. It was on the very same day that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had fired over 2000 teachers from the schools attended by the same poor black youths.
Barack, meanwhile, started a new White House task force on community service of, by and for philanthropists just days after the House of Representatives decoupled food stamp funding from the Farm Bill. There's a word for this state of affairs. It's called feudalism. But in 21st Century noblesse oblige America, they prefer to call it Empowerment.
Which brings us to yet another piece of White House propaganda. I got an email yesterday with this headline: "Michelle Obama Empowers Latino Community!" Say what? With enemies like Steven King (R-Xenophobia) accusing Hispanics of having "cantaloupe calves", who needs friends like the first lady telling a roomful of mamacitas to stop stuffing their offspring full of tacos? Of course, it's totally up to the women working two or three minimum-wage jobs -- not Big Ag or Big Retail -- to do the stepping up. (another weasel phrase used by the powerful to instill guilt into the souls of the hopeless.) Thus spake Michelle:
Today, the Latino community’s buying power is more than one trillion dollars – you hear me? Trillion with a “t” – and it’s expected to increase to $1.5 trillion by 2015. So make no mistake about it, with the choices that you make, you all could completely transform the marketplace…you all have the power right now, today. So when companies step up and provide healthy choices…we all need to step up and actually take advantage of those choices.”
Highlighting the influence of the growing Latino community, she offered these final words of advice to attendees: “In the end, we create the demand for these [healthier] products…and it’s up to us to demand quality."That was a sneaky way of saying it's really no longer "on" Walmart. According to a recent piece in the Los Angeles Times, Michelle Obama has quietly abandoned her passive-aggressive effort to cajole the biggest corporate welfare recipient on the planet to sell healthy food at affordable prices. Walmart, it seems, is not "stepping up." Even after she gave them a whole bunch of guilt-washing publicity when rolling out another one of those public-private partnerships with the Walmart CEO last year. (Who, by the way, makes more than a thousand times the salary of the average Walmart employee.) According to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, the first lady has gotten cold feet when it came to going to the extreme of actually holding Walmart and other corporations up to public scorn for continuing to market unhealthy food to children.
Mrs. Obama also failed to note in her speech that one of the other main causes of obesity in poor children is the de-funding of physical education in poor neighborhood schools. She neglected to mention that the Latino community does most of the low-paid crop-picking of the food that ends up on Walmart store shelves. And that her husband's White House last year even killed a regulation that would have protected the children of migrant farm families, so as not to eat into the profits of Big Ag -- and that also includes the toxic tobacco industry.
One final entry in today's Hypocrisy Sweepstakes: the much ballyhooed national boycott of Florida over its Stand Your Ground law appears to be running out of steam before it even got started. Celebrities who initially joined the cause are backing out in droves. Their excuse is that you can't punish the masses by withholding their entertainment. Disneyworld trumps Trayvon. Capitalism rules.
President Obama himself never dreamed about cancelling his own trip to Jacksonville on Thursday in order to pimp out yet another public-private partnership to improve the port system. He lent his star power for the continued taxpayer enrichment of billionaire industrialists, while once again couching it in terms of helping the middle class. His proposal would deepen a channel, enabling more supertankers to come in from Asia via the Panama Canal as part of the very top-secret Trans-PacificTrade Partnership.
Obama did not even try to disguise his contempt for working people while spewing the same old trickle-down theories so beloved of his idol, Ronald Reagan:
Bringing in more supertankers "works for everybody,'' he said, because it means "more contractors are getting jobs" and have more money "to spend at the restaurant," which brings more money for the waitress "to buy her iPod."
He noted that manufacturing jobs are the cornerstone of the middle class, as are investments in education, science and research, but "too many folks in Washington have been cutting these investments."Isn't that sweet? All that trickle-down tip money from rich folks will help a lovely little wage slave of a waitress buy herself a cheap iPod arriving on a Chinese supertanker. Your money will continue to flow into the Sunshine State, the secretive free trade deals will continue to flood the globe, and the Stand Your Ground law will be laughing all the way to the bank. So shut up and step up so your leaders can empower you.