Tuesday, August 18, 2015

1600 Griftylvania Avenue

Not only don't they bother hiding their corruption, they gleefully rub our noses in it. As told to the New York Times, Barack Obama has been using the People's House as the main venue for negotiating his billion dollar exit bonus.

No matter that he has more than a year to go before actually quitting the premises and entering private life. Just because he is still a public servant doesn't mean he can't get a head start on the grifting sweepstakes. As a matter of fact, he got started on his abuse of power post-presidential planning and fundraising while the confetti from his second inauguration was still wafting above the Beltway swamp.

Obama has appointed a special White House aide whose only task is to ensure that his final year and half in office serves as a "glide path" to a rich and rewarding future.

He has designated Hollywood director Steven Spielberg chief scriptwriter for the narrative of his life. He fully intends to keep glamorizing, and doubtlessly fictionalizing, his biography. The I Am Legend show will continue.

And Obama has every intention of remaining a powerful leader of the free world, a sort of emperor emeritus influence peddler with star power:
In their conversations with Mr. Obama and his advisers, people from Silicon Valley and Hollywood are pressing for a heavy reliance on cutting-edge technology in the library that would help spread the story of Mr. Obama’s presidency across the globe. Ideally, one adviser said, a person in Kenya could put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and be transported to Mr. Obama’s 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia.
Some discussions at the dinners have focused on the role Mr. Obama might play internationally after the diplomatic opening with Cuba, the nuclear deal with Iran, the confrontations with Russia and the drawdown of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama doesn't want to emulate Bill and Hillary Clinton, who (notwithstanding the Lincoln Bedroom rentals) foolishly waited until they were out of office before starting their own grift in earnest. Not only were they dead broke when they left the White House, they discovered to their chagrin that their sudden loss of hard, official power and influence really put a dent in fund-raising for their library and family foundation. The Clintons were not in a position to trade favors for quite awhile.  Hillary was right about having to work really, really hard over many years to amass all those millions.

Therefore, the Obamas have already begun hosting a whole series of ego-stroking late-night schmooze-fests with the rich and famous to expressly discuss how best to accomplish the future care, feeding and glorification of Barack and Michelle Obama. Times reporters Michael Shear and Gardiner Harris chronicle one White House dinner for a hedge fund billionaire, a couple of bestselling authors, a Hollywood actress and a Silicon Valley venture capitalist: 
The long-running dinner this past February is part of a methodical effort taking place inside and outside the White House as the president, first lady and a cadre of top aides map out a postpresidential infrastructure and endowment they estimate could cost as much as $1 billion. The president’s aides did not ask any of the guests for library contributions after the dinner, but a number of those at the table could be donors in the future.
The $1 billion — double what George W. Bush raised for his library and its various programs — would be used for what one adviser called a “digital-first” presidential library loaded with modern technologies, and to establish a foundation with a worldwide reach.
Supporters have urged Mr. Obama to avoid the mistake made by Bill Clinton, whose associates raised just enough money to build his library in Little Rock, Ark., forcing Mr. Clinton to pursue high-dollar donors for years to come. Including construction costs, Mr. Obama’s associates set a goal of raising at least $800 million — enough money, they say, to avoid never-ending fund-raising. One top adviser said that $800 million was a floor rather than a ceiling.
So far, Mr. Obama has raised just over $5.4 million from 12 donors, with gifts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. Michael J. Sacks, a Chicago businessman, gave $666,666. Fred Eychaner, the founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp., which owns community newspapers and radio stations, donated $1 million. Mark T. Gallogly, a private equity executive, and James H. Simons, a technology entrepreneur, each contributed $340,000 to a foundation set up to oversee development of the library.
In days of yore, this might have been construed as bribery. But in the age of legalized corruption, it's just neoliberal business as usual. And with all the shallow media attention being focused on the insane antics of Donald Trump and the perfidy of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama is able to come off smelling like a rose, reeking of sober statesmanship. 

...and nor will it never end, not if they can help it.


Pearl said...

This article about the Obama library is so self evident of what the library really represents, that no comment is appropriate after reading it. All that comes to mind is from the McCarthy era for Obama - "Have you no shame?"

Pearl said...

Interesting statement from a commenter in the Washington Post about the usual
kind of article about Bernie. And something for us to keep in mind as we pen our thoughts.

Steve Bowlus

"Do I think Sanders is electable? No. Do I think he will get the Democratic nomination? No.

Then why all the excitement? Because most Democrats see that Sanders is the wave of the future: democratic socialism is where the US will be 20 - 30 years. It will take that long for us to catch up with Europe. And the more the Trumps and Walkers and Cruzes foam at the mouth, the wider and deeper the chasms in our politics will become, the more apparent the latent fascism of the GOP will become, and the faster the transition will occur. I hope I live to see it happen."

Jay–Ottawa said...

We call them presidential libraries, but they're really mausoleums. Did you know that presidents get buried in their so-called "library"? With initial building costs born by friends of the president, the whole shebang is then turned over to the National Archives for maintenance in perpetuity, the cost to be borne by taxpayers in perpetuity. Always a sound idea to let other people pick up the tab for your ego trip.

"With the exception of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and upon their own deaths, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, every American president since Hoover is or has chosen to be buried at his presidential library."

The papers and artifacts surrounding presidential bodies in the mausoleums serve the same purpose as the works of art buried with Egypt's pharaohs. They smooth the progress of such great souls to their place among the gods.

Coming in at $1 billion, Obama's mausoleum will be twice as grand as anyone else's.

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

We have looked upon your mighty works, dude sir, and rest assured we are in despair.

Tommy Bones said...

Well said Jay-Ottawa and your last barb had me laughing out loud.

Erik Roth said...


“I haven’t projected out 10 years,” he [Obama] said, offering his standard promise to remain engaged in policy-making until his last days in the Oval Office. “I know what I’ll do right after the next president is inaugurated. I’ll be on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut.”

As sure as time and tide wait for no man, Barack Obama had better heed the rising sea, and be aware that a just retribution washes in with it.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Meredith NYC said...

Pearl......thanks for comment quote that “most Democrats see that Sanders is the wave of the future: democratic socialism is where the US will be 20 - 30 years. It will take that long for us to catch up with Europe.”
Some hope? This is what I’d like to see discussed. How will this be best achieved so it doesn’t take a century. One way is for media to publicize the positive points of EU social Democracies for the US public---now cut off by a vast ocean, despite the internet. We are isolated, and the 1 percent like it that way.

Tonight I was just passing a Trump luxury condo and spoke to the doorman. He said the staff is embarrassed to say they work in a ‘Trump’ building at this point! I can imagine. He prefers Hillary, and he doesn’t know much about Sanders. (It’s obvious why---our media). But he thinks a woman president will be good for the country—like she doesn’t have to prove macho? We’ll see.

Karen.....I wonder if there will be any bartenders/waiters with tape recorders at Obama’s dinners with billionaires. To get some choice tidbits like the one with Romney.

Meredith NYC said...

See Democracy Now ...I caught some of it.....it’s repeated tonight on NY Cuny TV, or transcrpt, video....brilliant interview with Pulitzer prize David Cay Johnston....he pulls the mask from Trump on many issues....he has his tax returns .....says Trump used illegal immigrant construction workers on his 5th Ave Trump Tower and paid them 4 to 5 dollars/hour....and he used crime families in his dealings....among many other things. Trump is a human Potemkin Village facade.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Bruce Dixon takes a hard look at Bernie's campaign:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the Democratic nominee?

SANDERS: Yes. I have in the past.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to run as an independent?

SANDERS: No, absolutely not. I've been very clear about that.


voice-in-wilderness said...

I guess I was wrong to imagine Obama going back to Hawaii to live on his $200K pension, quietly reading and writing while resuming his Choom Gang habits?

I guess his pension wouldn't even begin to pay college tuition for his daughters or to buy clothes for Mrs. Obama!

Patricia M. said...

Karen - Last night I read your exceptional piece comparing Sinclair Lewis's Buzz Windrip and Donald Trump, ending with this prophetic statement: "What we're witnessing now is an epic battle between the forces of the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment." As I was writing a comment expressing appreciation and agreement, the entire piece disappeared - and I've not been able to access it since. Am I alone?

Karen Garcia said...

Hi Patricia,
I had to delete that post and re-do it from scratch, because the Word document from which I had pasted some of the quotes contained some incompatible code, really messing up the font sizes and making my piece kind of an unattractive mess. It's back up now. Glad you liked it!

Patricia M. said...

I'm relieved. Thanks, Karen. It's exceptional.

falken751 said...

I'm sick of listening and reading all of the drivel from all of you "ineffectual intellectuals". This country is worse than ever after Bush and Obama. We have been at war ever since Bush and Obama. I think all of you so called "ineffectual intellectuals" are worried that the people are getting wise to you. All of the "Harvard grads" that never were successful at anything before they became politicians have f*#ked up this country so bad and it's going to take people that "are successful" and don't want to become politicians to straighten this country out.