Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Impact of Incestuous Ironies

This is rich: 
President Obama blasted Republicans as the party of “billionaires” on Tuesday while mingling with high-rollers at the $26 million estate of Rich Richman — yes, that’s his real name — in Greenwich, Conn. Richman, who built his $10 billion company developing rental housing, lives in the Conyers Farm area, where the minimum lot size is 10 acres. Twenty-five donors paid $32,400 each to get their photo taken with the president. Others paid $10,000 for dinner.
(snip)
Obama arrived from New York City — where he had attended a fundraiser with hedge-fund billionaires George Soros and Paul Tudor Jones — in a convoy of four helicopters that landed at the Greenwich Polo Club.
And the irony just keeps on coming. The Washington Post has all the rich dirt:
... New details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.
The team member was a well-heeled young Yalie named Jonathan Dach. So not only did the Obama administration cover it all up, it rewarded the young stud muffin with -- get this -- a job at the State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues. One night in Cartagena with an exploited sex worker is apparently more than enough to qualify a male as an expert in "women's issues" in the Obama administration. According to the State Department website, Dach's role is to foster "participation of women and girls in the political, economic, and social realms of their countries (as) a key goal of U.S. foreign policy. When women and girls are empowered, educated, and equipped to contribute to their societies, their families and countries are more likely to prosper, and be more stable and secure."

 Meanwhile, according to the Post, government investigators looking into the Secret Service prostitution scandal were fired when they started asking too many questions about young Dach. The White House was afraid the truth might hurt Obama's re-election chances.

Could it get even richer? Yes, it could.  It turns out that the wealthy father (Leslie Dach) of the aforementioned Ivy League Lothario was one of those generous high-roller Obama campaign donors while also working as the top lobbyist for Walmart. Dach and first lady Michelle Obama later became partners in a short-lived Let's Move publicity campaign, in which Walmart promised to someday day stock its shelves with healthier foods -- thus helping divert public attention from a class action lawsuit then being brought by the retail chain's underpaid women employees. (The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the case, on grounds that women wage slaves don't constitute a class.)


Leslie Dach (the chin-stroker at the left) with Michelle Obama
 
And guess what Leslie Dach is doing now? He's spun through the revolving doors right into the very heart of the Obama administration in order to help his former Walmart colleague, HHS  Secretary Sylvia Mathews-Burwell, to implement the next phase of Obamacare!
In 2011, Mr. Dach recruited Ms. Burwell to become president of the Walmart Foundation, where she worked for just over a year before heading back to Washington. As we noted earlier, Mr. Dach has spoken well of the work she did there.
 HHS announced Wednesday that Mr. Dach would be coming to the department for a newly-created job that will include working on the next sign-up period for coverage under the health law. “Leslie’s experience, which spans the business, government, and civil society sectors, will further enhance our ability to deliver impact for the American people,” said Ms. Burwell, in a statement.
The impact is already being delivered good and hard, with all the intensity of a sledge hammer. Just this week, only one day after Walmart announced that it is getting into the lucrative for-profit Obamacare marketplace itself, it cut off tens of thousands of its own part-time employees from their company-subsidized health insurance plans. It was just getting way too expensive for the Walton family, who own more wealth than the poorest 40-plus percent of all American families combined. From Common Dreams:
For the fiscal year of 2014, Walmart "increased net sales by 1.6% to $473.1 billion and returned $12.8 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases," the company states on its website. Furthermore, in 2014, Walmart was ranked number one on the Fortune 500 list for its large revenues. The Walton family is one of the most wealthy on earth and has consistently been in the Forbes 400 top ten wealthiest list since 2001.
Now, let's ironically take a stroll back through the revolving doors, from Burwell to Wellborn --  the ironically-named Sally Wellborn that is, head of Walmart's ironically named Benefits Division. She said the policy axing employee medical benefits for part-timers (legally defined as workers putting in slightly less than 40 hours per week) was one of those "tough decisions," made by tough bosses not afraid to say "tough shit" to minimum wage workers.  This begs the question: will Sally Wellborn's own job be discontinued? Will Wellborn be hired by Burwell?  Or is Wellborn, like young Jonathan Dach, well-born enough to not have a care in the world?

Always the high public cost of low prices, low wages, low moral corporate standards, outsourced manufacturing.  Always.

The trouble is, while the Cartagena tawdriness is getting all the headlines, the political prostitution is not. It's just the way business gets done in an oligarchy. And it's by no means a victimless crime. Tens of thousands of low-wage Walmart victims, tens of millions of victims of the predatory health insurance industry, seven billion victims of unfettered capitalism the wide world over.

Delivering impact? Quite the understatement.


17 comments:

Denis Neville said...

“This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country.” – President Theodore Roosevelt, 1905

“If the Republicans win, we know who they’ll be fighting for. The interests of billionaires will come before the needs of the middle class.” - President Barack Obama

Obama and his billionaires…

Greg Palast, in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, chapter “Penny's from Heaven?” wrote that Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker introduced Illinois State Senator Obama to Supreme Deity of Wall Street Robert Rubin, who later opened the “doors to finance industry vaults” for Obama.

http://www.gregpalast.com/billionaire-bankster-breaks-into-obamas-cabinet/

Since the banksters crashed the global economy, the Obama administration has remained silent on their control fraud criminality.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-big-jail/

Nomi Prins, All The Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power, writes:

“US hegemony and the strength of Wall Street have been closely aligned for more than a century, during which certain private bankers have achieved a position of greater power than the presidency (or central banks). The crises of the past decade were a manifestation of what happens when US bankers operate beyond the control of government, often enabled by the highest political office in the world…

It no longer matters who sits in the White House. Presidents no longer even try to garner banker support for population-friendly policies, and bankers operate oblivious to the needs of national economies. There is no counterbalance to their power. And since America’s latest elected leader pressed the pretense of financial reform instead of actually pushing for real reform, bankers can do greater damage than ever before. Bankers dominate the globe using other people’s money, and presidents gain command through other people’s votes, but in the ongoing game of influence and control, these are mere chips that grant players a seat at the table of power…

It is not US military might alone that evokes global trepidation; it is also US financial might, in the form of the alliance between the presidency and the major bankers.

No other country on the planet is driven by such a critical symbiotic and costly relationship. This is why US hegemony, from a financial superpower perspective, is not in decline. The most elite US bankers and government officials understand that their positions are mutually reinforcing, with the Fed serving as a support vessel in the middle. The US bank heads retain more influence over global capital than any government, and their unique alignment with the presidency is a force that will fortify America’s power, often at the expense of populations the world over.

Our choice is simple: either we break the alliances, or they will break us.”

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance” - Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Isaiah Earhart said...

@ Karen

This is one of my favorite pieces of all time!

Thank you.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Thanks, Karen, for connecting all the dots revealing the degree of political prostitution and revolving door incest continuously being promoted by this Administration. Hope Truthout picks up this essay. The only question while reading this was should I laugh uncontrollably or vomit uncontrollably.

Does the revolving door spin this fast in every administration? The most disgusting caper has to be where Jonathan Lach gets promoted to a sinecure in the State Department, where he is to watch over women’s interests.

Still no torches and pitchforks in the street. What’s it going to take?

Jay - Ottawa said...

Dach

Denis Neville said...

Obama broke nearly all his campaign promises to voters; but nary a promise to his Wall Street campaign contributors, thereby, delivering his constituency of voters to the maws of Wall Street.

Jay - Ottawa said ... “Still no torches and pitchforks in the street. What’s it going to take?”

Bruce A. Dixon, Democrat sheep and the chorus of progressive Democratic sheepdogs, who bark at the herd:

http://blackagendareport.com/content/progressive-sheepdogs-democrat-sheep-broken-promises-minimum-wage

It is denial that turns people into sheep.

Something more than simply “irony” describes this.

“Load every person with a gargantuan student loan and an equally enormous mortgage and toss on an auto loan and credit card debt, and you have the perfect serf, too busy servicing his debt to question the arrangement, much less resist it. This reduction of selfhood to consumption insures the brainwashed consumer has neither the savings nor the cultural tools needed to acquire financial and social capital. Debt-based consumerism insures the lower orders will never have the means to escape the Neofeudal arrangement.” - Charles Hugh Smith, “The Neofeudal-Neoliberal Arrangement: Since We Own What You Need, We Own You,” http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjune14/neofeudal-neoliberal6-14.html

Jay - Ottawa said...

There goes Bruce Dixon again. (h/t Denis) Like the little boy from the emperor has no clothes story, Dixon has to point out that Progressive Democrats wear nothing more than transparent fig leaves. Dixon sees right through them.

Let us dare to open our eyes. The Dems had two years, 2010-2011, when they could have easily passed an increase to the minimum wage against a minority Republican opposition. AND taken the extra-special step of keying it to cost-of-living forever after.

Well, they did nothing at a time when they could have done everything. Now that our darling progressives lack a majority, it’s yadda-yadda-yadda all the day about raising the minimum wage, and aren’t those Republicans nasty for blocking the increase sponsored (finally) by our dear leader, his party and roughly 80% of the electorate. Timing is everything, to coin a phrase.

The takeaway line from Dixon’s latest fed-up-with-Obama & friends essay:

“…Democrats only campaign differently than Republicans, not govern differently.”

Kat said...

Dach was serving in a volunteer capacity? Nice work if you're rich. Looks like Obama was able to find a nice make work position for him though. And it only cost Dad 25K. That seems like a pretty god ROI considering that in yesterday's NYT article on ActBlue the retired university administrator who had given about 30K to their appeals probably got squat.
But I guess Dach comes with connections. One more dot: Dad was a partner at the odious Edelman group prior to serving at Wal Mart.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Edelman
Thanks for tying this all together, Karen. I happened to flip by Chris Hayes' show last evening. I don't usually watch his show or MSNBC, but I guess the takeaway from this scandal is "tempest in a teapot". I'm not surprised that he missed the real scandal. That's what MSNBC is for.

Pearl said...

Restoring a United States That Has Lost Its Way http://shar.es/1mtDRy via @sharethis


This an interesting interview by
Bill Moyers with Bob Herbert and what he is doing now.

Denis Neville said...

@ Pearl

Bob Herbert used his NY Times column to hammer President Obama, the Democrats, and the Republicans for their neglect of the poor and their responsibility to help those who are most needy.

“The poor, who have been hurt more than anyone else in this recession, don’t stand a heartbeat’s chance in this political environment. The movers and shakers in government don’t even give a thought to being on the side of the angels anymore — they’re on the side of the millionaires and billionaires.” – Bob Herbert

Herbert nails it when he says, “We need a movement, a powerful grassroots movement and leadership to emerge from these disparate groups that can pull some of that energy together in a force that demands the attention of the population at large. The Occupy protest did not have a clear focus, did not make specific demands, and did not have a long-term strategy.”

Occupy lacked organization and structure. Jo Freeman’s “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” (written in 1970) is still relevant and useful today. When the women's liberation movement began, emphasis was placed on leaderless, structureless groups as the main, if not the sole, organizational form of the movement. Freeman, founder of the first women’s liberation group in Chicago, warned of the severe limits that ‘structurelessness’ imposed on an anti-authoritarian movement:

http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm

The plutocrats with their two-party duopoly benefit from their divide and conquer strategy, pitting the public against each other.

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to the doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extreme shifts in policy.” - Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope

As Thomas Frank says, “Republicans and Democrats have come together to dismantle the regulatory state at the behest of the One Percent…The heart sickens at the thought of these many long years of fake populism, and the stomach turns to imagine how little time there is before we are swept up in it all over again.”

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/22/hillary_clinton_forgets_the_90s_our_latest_gilded_age_and_our_latest_phony_populists/

"A highly competent Bitch often deprecates herself by refusing to recognize her own superiority.... Bitches are among the most unsung of the unsung heroes of this society. They are the pioneers, the vanguard, the spearhead. Whether they want to be or not this is the role they serve just by their very being. Many would not choose to be the groundbreakers for the mass of women for whom they have no sisterly feelings but they cannot avoid it. Those who violate the limits, extend them; or cause the system to break.... Their major psychological oppression is not a belief that they are inferior but a belief that they are not.... Like most women they were taught to hate themselves as well as all women. In different ways and for different reasons perhaps, but the effect was similar. Internalization of a derogatory self-concept always results in a good deal of bitterness and resentment. This anger is usually either turned in on the self —making one an unpleasant person or on other women — reinforcing the social cliches about them. Only with political consciousness is it directed at the source — the social system.... We must be strong, we must be militant, we must be dangerous. We must realize that Bitch is Beautiful and that we have nothing to lose. Nothing whatsoever." – Jo Freeman

Will said...

Need some Saturday morning inspirational material to keep fighting the good fight? Here's Glenn Greenwald's brief but compelling TED Talk on privacy he gave in Rio earlier this week. Enjoy.

http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Off-topic:

If Karen will permit me to toot my own horn, I'd just like to say that I've got a new blog post up — nothing momentous, just a few short paragraphs after my prolonged posting neglect, now commenting on a NYT article and video that stand as evidence of just how out-of-touch the NYT is from the reality faced by ordinary people.

http://www.freddrumlevitch.blogspot.com/2014/10/neoliberal-voyeuristic-entertainment_11.html

Karen Garcia said...

Sure Fred. Now that you've updated your blog, I'll re-post on my Roll.

Denis: Loved the Freeman quote. I used part of it in my Maureen Dowd comment just now, related to "Gone Girl" and its fake feminist critics. Here's my comment:

How ironic. In her novel, Gillian Flynn satirized the same vacuous political correctness now on display by some of the "feminist" critics of the film version.

I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know if the male director over-emphasized the cry-rape scenes or not. But the novel, besides being a suspenseful nail-biter, is above all an evisceration of a consumer society in the late stages of predatory capitalism. Its landscape is littered with foreclosed mcmansions and an empty mega-mall, now a makeshift homeless shelter.

One scene takes place in a blood bank, transformed into a dystopian kaffeeklatsch for a group of middle-aged women who amiably shoot the breeze as they open up their veins. It's the only way to score an extra 30 bucks for groceries till the next unemployment check comes in.

Gillian Flynn also spends a lot of gleeful time on the media vampires and professional feminists who, meanwhile, rake in millions of dollars exploiting the latest missing, exploited white woman.

Not for nothing does the action take place around Hannibal, MO, boyhood home of one of our greatest satirists -- Mark Twain.

So yes, please, more Joans and Bettes to replace the vapid Gwyneths and Jennifers. Don't waste your anger on fictional characters, ladies. Direct it at the real exploiters -- the American oligarchy.

As Jo Freeman wrote, "Bitches are among the most unsung of the unsung heroes of this society. They are the pioneers, the vanguard, the spearhead."

Long may they live.

(PS -- If you like Patricia Highsmith, you'll love Flynn's book. It was laugh out loud funny in many spots, but you wouldn't know from all the irony-deficient critics out there.)

Zee said...

@Karen--

An interesting exposé of the incestuous—indeed, generationally incestuous—nepotism of “modern” dynastic politics. Courtesy of Barack Obama, positions of power granted from father to son, ad nauseum; from Leslie Dach to Jonathan Dach and on to whom next?

(Not to mention the Udalls, Bushes, Clintons, Landrieus, and dynasties yet to come, of course.)

Interesting also that a promising young Yalie—Jonathan Dach—had to resort to prostitution in Cartagena to get what he really wanted—and on the government's dime.

One might have thought that the world was his—Jonathan's—oyster, but perhaps the beautiful and intelligent young women in his Ivy League world weren't quite so readily willing to give him what he wanted/needed as we might have imagined?

In other words, he was/is a Yalie loser who needed to pay a Colombian prostitute for the sexual satisfaction that he really needed.

No bright, talented and independent American women need apply.

Just speculation on my part, of course.

Grumpy Pearl said...

Karen and others: It is confusing to me to give power to "bitches" who supposedly represent a constructive fighting opposition? Mix in the conflicting messages of "feminists" and sensationalize odd characters who supposedly represent people to be supported? I don't feel they are pioneers or the vanguard of the future. I thing it is a book and a movie to make money and the more sensational the better for ticket sales. I have not read the book or seen the movie but am picking up comments from Dowd and others. If the 'message' is unclear to me how is it coming across to others? It is like giving credit to the Mylie Cyrus's (hope I got her name right) prancers for making sex a more open and healthful activity.
We have better examples of women (and men) who fire up our civilized selves who have and are leaving a lasting gift with dignity. MLK is one. And when mentioning the oppression of the oligarchy remember it includes both sexes. Please challenge me.

Karen Garcia said...

Pearl,

"Bitches" in the context that Jo Freeman uses it means an assertive woman who makes people uncomfortable -- she ably rips the pejorative sexist aspect right from the word and gives ownership of it to feminists.

The book (not the movie) that I was referring to has as one of its subplots an episode of false reporting of rape. I won't go into any more details, lest I spoil the story for those wanting to read/see it. Suffice it to say that the author, Flynn, turns the whole narrow, stereotypical definition of what it means to be a "liberated" American woman right on its head,in one plot twist after the other. It's the best fictional treatment of psychopathology written since "The Talented Mr. Ripley"-- which also doubly succeeds as satire and suspense thriller. It was also written by a woman, Patricia Highsmith.

So, the narrow-minded nitpicking against this movie over its "insensitivity" in light of Obama's anti-rape campus crusade and the NFL scandals is actually missing the whole point of the story: when class disparity rules, the kooks come out and misery prevails.

As far as women in the movies are concerned, I'll pick any bitchy brilliant role of Bette Davis over the romantic comedy fluff being churned out these days.

Here's a take-down of the same NY Times narcissistic navel-gazing that Gillian Flynn skewers so ably in her novel:

http://gothamist.com/2012/11/18/ny_times_trys_on_thought_catalogue.php



Pearl said...

Thanks Karen: There is no current comparison regarding current female actresses appearing in movies being churned out now as the great ones of the past: Bette Davis, even Joan Crawford who had depth and talent in their bitchiness along with great movies. "All about Eve" was a masterpiece of a woman's choices to succeed and the price paid with a double message. Somehow everything attached to the current hullabaloo seems shallow somehow but I could only be more informed by reading the book which doesn't seem to excite me judging from reviews.
Thanks for trying to educate me. I will look up some more reports and reviews to try and make sense of it all.

Denis Neville said...

There is an excellent comment by 21st Century Poet over at Naked Capitalism:

“We can get caught-up in an endless maze of party politics and electoral games, or we could just admit the corporate capture of the entire political process, over most of the world, often by the same corporations, is near complete. We are in the middle of a world-wide corporate-led neoliberal restructuring that is killing poor people and doing significant damage to the so-called middle class, to say nothing of ecological systems that sustain human life – and many have argued, capitalism itself. In other words, the whole system is corrupt. Electoral politics cannot turn back this tide. When it comes down to it, I think people are too afraid to acknowledge this…

It goes on and on. The point is, whomever gets into a corrupt system will not stop it. If you want to insist on party politics at least talk about building up and putting forward some common sense socialists like Kshama Sawant (who, by the way, is someone who would look like a progressive democrat on any normal old political spectrum). But really let’s face facts, though many of us have a good understanding of what’s happening – and many even have a good analysis, we are scared of doing anything radical. If you’re not scared, you are too comfortable and you think your wealth will protect you. I can’t say it much more simply than that. Time for radical left politics. Don’t be afraid, in this 21st century dystopia, radical lefties are just old fashioned progressives.”

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/10/gaius-publius-democratic-leaders-already-tea-partying-progressives-f.html#comment-2329700

In Kansas, the national Democratic Party threw the state Democratic Party’s candidate under the bus in favor of Independent candidate Greg Orman, a private equity multi-millionaire with ties to a jailed Wall Street inside trader. What do they expect to gain by doing this? (Social Security is on Orman’s chopping block.)

In Virginia, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Dave Brat, the Republican candidate running for Eric Cantor’s former seat in the 7th Congressional District, and his Democratic opponent, Jack Trammell, don’t agree on much. But both propose raising the retirement age to ensure Social Security payouts for future generations.”

No Labels is a national movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to a new politics of problem solving. No Labels’ slogan is "Not Left. Not Right. Forward.” Sounds familiar! One their four key national goals: “securing” Medicare and Social Security for the next 75 years.

“There’s one issue where those who define themselves as “centrists” — the No Labels crowd, conservative Democrats, politicians running as independents to distance themselves from the taint of the “Democratic” or “Republican” party labels — gravitate towards the exact opposite of what the vast middle supports: Social Security.

http://www.salon.com/2014/10/09/centrists_clueless_obsession_why_do_so_many_want_to_cut_social_security/

21st Century Poet hits the nail on the head! Corporatism is criminal by nature, a vehicle for looting. Democrats and Republicans are equally corporatist. Corporatism is antithetical to any kind of fair, just, and equitable society.

Time for radical left politics!!!