Sunday, December 9, 2012

Parasites on Parade

All you have to do is part with one million George Washington smackeroos, and your corporation people will get exclusive access to the festivities at the Second Coming of Obama next month. This means that all the little people will be excluded and will not be around to breathe on you or otherwise disturb your VIP exclusivity during your foray inside the Beltway.  

If you didn't get your invitation yet, don't despair. They were delivered, en masse, via email, and merely give the illusion of being engraved. They are actually kind of cheap and tawdry-looking. And the spelling skills of whatever Social Secretary of Snobbery designed them leave something to be desired too. For example, the ultra-exclusive George Washington Premium Partner Package includes Inaugural Parade "bleecher" seats. Not only is the lack of custom-upholstered seating de trop, the offer is downright insulting. It sounds like they're going to stuff the corporate welfare leeches up in the nosebleed section.

The only surprising thing about President Obama shilling for tax-shielded corporate money to fund his extravaganza is that a lot of people are actually surprised about it. After all, this is the guy who sold exclusive access to his corpus throughout his campaign, for a grand total of a billion dollars. The proceeds from his Inaugural balls will be mere chump change in the grand scheme of things. 

But I guess you can't blame the victims of the Surprise. After all, in 2009, Team Obama made a big righteous deal about not taking any corporate lucre for the swearing-in festivities. Those were the days when our president was still fresh from his victorious marketing campaign based on a "grassroots movement." One of his PR flacks, a guy oxymoronically named Josh Earnest, sincerely joked at the time that the banning of corporate money was only the beginning to changing "the way business as usual is done in Washington."

 The pretense at pretense is all gone now. Still, as Public Citizen puts it, we the people should have the right to not have "our" inauguration brought to us by the likes of Bank of America:

 That the corporate-funded inaugural festivities will fall on the anniversary (Jan. 21) of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is not just ironic given President Obama’s stated support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision holding that corporations can spend unlimited amounts on elections, it undermines the case for corporate-free elections.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee has stated that it will not accept funds from lobbyists, foreign corporations, TARP recipients that have not repaid their government loans or others that do not pass its vetting process. But every corporation’s donations create a conflict of interest, because they all have business before the government in one way or the other. The problem with donations from lobbyists is that they expect something in return for their contribution. The situation is exactly the same with corporate contributors, virtually all of whom employ lobbyists.
Of course, it has long been known that the Obama Administration has a nifty work-around to its anti-lobbyist rule. Either the lobbyists don't even bother registering as lobbyists, thereby gaining unfettered access to the White House, or the Obama people just meet with the influence peddlers across the street at the Caribou Cafe. From the New York Times:
On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.
But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the “most transparent presidential administration in history.”
So it's not so much the graft and corruption --  we have cynically come to expect that in our politicians. It's the continuing hypocrisy of a president who lectures the country on the need for austerity at the same time he wines and dines with the elites. Those "bleechers for leechers" -- the seating arrangements for the exclusive corporate rumps -- are being constructed at taxpayer expense, by carpenters who now may have to wait a few more years to retire and collect Medicare. Those people cannot afford tickets to Candlelight Receptions and Benefactors Brunches and Children's Balls.

Writes John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation,
Even if Sheldon Adelson doesn't throw a casino-themed gala in Obama's honor, there's a whole machinery in DC built on brokering wealth and influence, and a good party feeds the scene. Neither defending the celebrations nor priming the check-writers presents a good public interest case for this move.


The Obama administration is likely to, again, justify their behavior by saying that they're following the law. Whenever their accountability policies have loopholes or problems, rather than fixing them, the administration asks to be judged in comparison to Bush, saying their record speaks for itself. At some point, though, it's time to judge Obama in his own words. Obama said unlimited donations sully our democracy, threaten public service, and weaken representation -- and has now chosen to embrace them.
Maybe Obama's setting the tone for his second term: we're not worried about whether we look like reformers at all.
Like I said -- they're giving up pretending at pretending. I wonder if the crowds in the exclusive bleechers (sic) will cheer when the president praises the free market in his Second Inaugural Address?  I wonder if they'll send me an email asking me to donate $3 for a chance to win one of the nosebleed seats?

One thing's for sure: if Barack Obama channels FDR and says "I welcome their hatred", he won't be talking about banksters. He'll be talking about his own base.

The Class War Ain't Got No Class!



Zee said...



If the term "imperial presidency" was coined for Richard Nixon--and here I admit that my knowledge of history is somewhat lacking--BHO has truly taken Nixon to the outer limits with the outright selling of the Presidency.

Nice, finally, to see a price tag on the cost of access, though I think that our Founders might possibly gag at the thought that their names would be affixed to price "categories!"

And if an invitation to the selling of the Presidency goes out with "bleachers" spelled as "bleechers," well, I've changed my mind. I DO want a copy of Barry's transcripts.

More later when I get my computer back. This tablet is hard to use.

4Runner said...

Have some pity on the Prez: he has to be (corporately) well-endowed to have such big inaugural balls.

Karen Garcia said...

Speaking of the Class War, Paul K. has another good column on the new age of robber barons, robots taking over human jobs, low wages and asking why nobody is talking about it. My response:

The widening gap between wages and profits is a cataclysm waiting to happen.

Since they're owned and operated by the robber barons, our leaders will never pay attention to the victims of the jobs crisis -- unless they're forced to. In the normal scheme of things, access to politicians costs a lot of money. And those poor, often homeless, people you do see waiting in line for Congressional hearings aren't there to plead their own cases. They're paid a pittance to stand there by VIPs too important to do something as demeaning as using their own pampered bodies to wait their turns.

The shift in capital to the very top is not talked about, because the wealthy people running things don't want to talk about it. According to a study by the public policy group Demos, 68% of the general public thinks the government should help anyone who wants work to find a job, while only 19% of wealthy people think this. If you're wondering why we don't have a WPA other New Deal program, it's because only 8% of the wealthy think the government should be the job creator of last resort. More here:

This column reminds me of that Weimar Germany-era film classic, "Metropolis." In a futuristic dystopian society, a robot foments revolt by oppressed workers against their cruel overlord of a boss.Things don't end well, for anybody.They never do, when the toil of the many creates wealth for only the privileged few.

Denis Neville said...

Obama welcomes their [his base] hatred.

Ah, those virtuous Obamabots! We could pity them perhaps, but we can never admire them. They made private terms with the devil by selling their souls for very bad pottage. How extraordinarily stupid!

The surest way to remain poor is to be honest.

And be forgotten at the bottom of the economic pyramid – haunted by unemployment, accident, sickness, and old age.

"Bleechers for leechers” constructed at taxpayer expense!

Poverty is an anomaly to rich people [parasites]. It is very difficult for them to make out why people, who, having already lost much of their accumulated wealth and are still suffering, are hungry and want dinner, do not ring the bell.

Pearl said...

Regarding your column about politicians asking for handouts, there was a recent article in the N.Y.Times about Hillary Clinton's job choices depending on the 2016 election by Jodi Kantor. He said she would have to find a dignified way to make money as being a Clinton is expensive. Yes indeedy. They now own two extremely expensive homes and are looking for another in the Hamptons. Why so many virtues are pinned on Hillary(and by many women who should know better) is beyond my understanding. She is a card carrying member of the 01%, was (and probably still is) a bona fide hawk.

Nothing she has done or stated as Secretary of State has been anything but a carbon copy of all the ones of both parties hiring and preceding her. And how can she truly understand the plight of the people who are the victims of this and former administrations' policies which seem to blend into a blur in my mind?

Our only hope is that she will be too old to run. Money still seems to make the world go round for 'these people'.

Valerie said...

Excellent, comment to Krugman, Karen. Thanks for putting yourself out there on a limb.

And AMEN! Pearl! I have never trusted Hillary - in fact, it was why I voted for Obama (the first time). Now that the Democratic machine knows that their ace in the hole is to simply terrify the party faithful and any dissenters into voting for their corporate shill as the Lesser of Two Evils, expect even worse behaviour.

America had a chance to let the system know that we don't like what they are offering us in terms of candidates, and like scared children, we did exactly what was expected. No wonder they don't respect us.