Barack Obama’s support for corporate trade goals, no matter how unethical and/or borderline illegal, is nothing new. His early and lasting backing of the Panama trade deal – a stellar performance wherein he convinced Democrats to vote for a bill which made it legal for US corporations to violate US law – was a brilliant part of his strategy to move the Democrat party onto Wall Street.
So it was no surprise to anyone familiar with his history that he has been appointing hired Wall Street guns – or goons – to write his TransPacific Trade Policy. Nor is it surprising that he has had nothing to say against their “former” companies paying them for writing and negotiating the deal.
Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.
Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.
Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman's] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.”
Do I have to explain what this means? How their companies are basically paying these guys in advance to continue promoting their interests even as they pretend to work for the govt? Or that Obama just about had to be working hand-in-glove with these corporations to come up with these guys’ names in the first place? Or that these payments are a measure of how deeply corrupt our system is now?
That’s what I thought.
For a long time I have been listening to liberals and progs talk as if something has gone wrong with the system and if we could just adjust this or tweak that, everything would be hunky-dory. They understand that the Republicans are out of control, the corporations are in control, and the financial sector calls the shots. What they consistently refuse to do is admit that those three sectors are and have been working together for 30 years or that the fourth of the united sectors consists of Third Way Democrats. Here’s a recent Krugman.
[W]e had our own version of the sorta-kinda left utterly failing to take on austerian macroeconomics in the United States – President Obama’s “pivot” from jobs to deficits, which actually began in 2009, back when Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress.
Sounds like a policy switch on Obama’s part, doesn’t it? Only it isn’t. In his famous keynote speech at the ’04 Dem convention, Obama was careful to eschew any too left-leaning rhetoric that might dismay corporate backers; just before the ’08 election, Obama met secretly with some of the most powerful financiers on Wall Street; and one of his early acts as president was to name an anti-deficit commission to which he appointed a number of powerful and long-term opponents of Social Security including Pete Peterson.
Seen from that angle, not so much a pivot as a straight line. Krugman seems to think the Dems are just listening to the wrong people because they lack “moral courage”.
[T]he nature of our current economic situation is that smart policy requires that you ignore what supposedly responsible people, who sound as if they know what they’re talking about – and hey, they’re rich, so they must know something – have to say.
And no government of the moderate left has had the intellectual and moral courage to do that.
Fraid not. An objective analysis of Democratic actions over the past two decades leaves little room for doubt: in virtually every instance when the Dems had to choose a path, they chose the one that was corporate-contributor friendly. Maybe we should stop pretending that the Dems are liberal, hm? They’re just slightly less obsequious than Pubs when it comes to kissing 1% ass. Get used to it.
The NYT decided to actually investigate something this week because they thought the result would embarrass Obama (their main criteria for greenlighting political exposes). It does. It also embarrasses the whole Democrat party.
With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”
But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.
Aside from the usual circumstance of Obama’s mouth writing checks his administration can’t – or won’t – cash, this is a classic example of standard Democrat duplicity: doing what they see as expedient and then blaming progressive activists for making his job dealing with batshit crazy Pubs more difficult. According to Obama and his people, when progressives call him on his bullshit, they are hurting him; when they try to help him achieve his stated goals, they are hurting him; when they won’t follow him as he surrenders to conservative insanity, they are hurting him. In fact, it seems that the very existence of progressives is a threat to him. Read the rest of this entry »
The Corporate States of America just got itself a new jolt of freedom thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts and his Happy Conservative Warrior Quartet.
[T]he Supreme Court continued chipping away at federal campaign finance reforms with a 5-4 ruling striking down the federal cap on the total amount of money an individual donor can spend supporting candidates and political parties during a two-year election cycle.
The ruling, which split the high court along ideological lines, eliminates the aggregate the cap on the total amount of money an individual can donate to candidates and party fundraising committees during an election season, which was set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That cap was so high that only…several hundred mega-rich donors reached it during the last election cycle.
Meaning that this ruling effects, at most, a mere few hundred people. Fortunately, those few hundred are the richest few hundred people in the country and who deserves a self-serving law that crews democracy more than them?
The ruling also could inflate the power of joint fundraising committees, which take large donations from donors and funnel the cash to candidates and party committees with full knowledge of who signed the original check.
“Eliminating these limits will now allow a single politician to solicit, and a single donor to give, up to $3.6 million through the use of joint fundraising committees,” said Michael Walden, president of the Brennan Center for Justice. “Following the Citizens United decision, this will further inundate a political system already flush with cash, marginalize average voters, and elevate those who can afford to buy political access.”
I don’t think Mr Walden gets it. See, money is free speech and in the CSA you only get as much FS as you can afford to buy and those few hundred have made sure you don’t get paid enough to buy hardly any so they get more than you or me and that’s the way it should be.
Get used to it. If you can’t afford to pay for an election, you don’t deserve to have one.
The corporation that virtually destroyed half the Gulf of Mexico by spilling millions of tons of oil into it tried this week to get out of its responsibility – and previous agreement – to pay for at least some of the damage it caused.
Last week, [the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals] rejected [British Petroleum]‘s attempt to stop businesses in the Gulf from collecting on losses resulting from the 2010 oil disaster. BP claimed that the companies were trying to recover “fictitious losses,” but the New Orleans court didn’t buy it. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the judges upheld an earlier ruling against BP, and said that an injunction on BP payments to Gulf businesses should be lifted. These payments are part of a settlement that BP agreed to back in 2012 – a settlement that the oil company said was “good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf, and in the best interests of BP’s stakeholders.”
This is just s-o-o-o corporate America. First they lowball damage estimates, then they make promises they have no intention of keeping, then they attack the victims by claiming they’re perpetrating fraud, and finally they send their high-priced lawyers to convince the courts to let them off the hook when the damages turn out to cost more than their original, absurdly low, estimate. Corporate America takes NO responsibility for its actions unless forced to by the courts (an increasingly rare outcome, btw) and even then never stop trying to get out from under. Read the rest of this entry »
The NYT’s block of editorial blockheads have had quite a week for themselves. First Tom Friedman embarrasses himself by writing about economics as if he knew what the word meant, and now David Brooks notices the country isn’t in very good shape after years of the austerity and corporate theft he’s been championing as solutions without actually realizing that’s what he’s doing. Pretty good trick for a normal person but a necessary skill for right-wingers. Without it their heads would explode collectively. Read the rest of this entry »
A few little tidbits:
1) Thomas Friedman isn’t just an idiot, he’s ignorant too. But then he’s an ideologue and ideologues are professional morons.
2) The 1% can justify every single policy in their (financial) favor…but only if they lie their asses off.
3) Jeff Bezos has just made Amazon a CIA asset and himself The Bagman. In retrospect, it was predictable if not inevitable.
4)Exxon CEO and Frackmeister extraordinaire Rex Tillerson is a strong advocate, even a champion of fracking technology but only until it’s his backyard getting fracked. Then, not so much.
Rex Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to stop construction of a water tower near his $1.3 million estate on Dove Creek Road. That water would be used in fracking, a process to drill oil and gas.
Tillerson even appeared at a Bartonville Town Council meeting to speak against it.
The lawsuit claims the project would create a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.
Yah. Well. You know.
5) Budget hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – two of Pete Petersen’s most reliable anti-SocSec thugs, set up an anti-deficit group. In the Irony of Ironies category, this group is now, um, broke. (scroll down)
While slamming Democrats, [American Postal Workers Union president Mark] Dimondstein reserved special condemnation for Issa, the Republicans’ leading voice on postal reform. Noting that Issa had proposed eliminating Saturday postal service as part of a bill undoing veterans’ pension cuts, the union president called the congressman “a pure enemy of the Postal Service…”
This is, of course, a half-truth. In fact, Issa has shown himself to be an enemy of all public services, including free parks and libraries. He has consistently advocated the privatization of all govt functions, proposing that even police and military be replaced by private security firms and fire depts be paid for by subscription. So it really isn’t fair for the postal workers’ union to single him out. Still, it’s typical of the Issa wing of the party (the wing which is, after all, in control of the party) to attach an attack on a public union to a bill cutting veterans’ benefits. Sort of a Pub’s Dream Two-fer.
An Issa “spokesperson” (you can never get these guys to reply personally to any communication from the hoi-polloi) replied to the union’s criticism this way:
This false claim about privatization is being pushed by entrenched special interests who oppose common sense and bipartisan reforms in both House and Senate postal modernization bills.
“Special interests” may be accurately considered as a reference to unions since Issa defines “public interest” as anything a corporation wants, but the interesting word here is “false”. Whenever Issa and his people have claimed that some unpleasant fact reported about this peppy little stooge of the powerful was “false”, all the evidence proved it was true, which in turns mean this flat denial likely proves it’s exactly what this is all about.
The most obvious question here is: did Staples contribute to Issa’s campaign and if so how much? But Salon’s reporter, Josh Eidelson never asks – let alone answers – that question. Instead he delves deeply into Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s connections to Staples (to no very great effect) because he’s suspicious of La F’s refusal to support the union’s preferred bill (offered by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders), a bill he doesn’t bother to explain.
It seems that even “progressives” can’t bring themselves to directly attack extreme corporate puppets like Issa, who has never had a thought a corporation didn’t put in his head.
PS I don’t have to explain why privatizing the Post Office is a really bad idea, do I?
So what else is new? Is there, that anyone can remember, any topic that Friedman can’t blather about with the bewilderingly incoherent and blazingly ignorant certainty of the true moron? No, I can’t think of one either.
As if to prove it, today Tosspot Tommy threw in his cent-and-a-half about Nelson Mandela. Seems Mandela’s best virtue was his “moral authority”, which, according to Tommy, he got only when he went against his base.
Much of the answer can be deduced from one scene in one movie about Mandela that I’ve written about before: “Invictus.” Just to remind, it tells the story of Mandela’s one and only term as president of South Africa, when he enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. Before the games, though, the sports committee in the post-apartheid, newly black-led South Africa tells Mandela that it wants to change the name and colors of the almost all-white Springboks to something more reflective of black African identity. But Mandela refuses. He tells his black sports officials that an essential part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”
There are so many big leadership lessons in this short scene. The first is that one way leaders generate moral authority is by being willing to challenge their own base at times — and not just the other side. It is easy to lead by telling your own base what it wants to hear. It is easy to lead when you’re giving things away. It is easy to lead when things are going well.
Are you listening, Obama? There are the lessons of Mandela: Don’t listen to your base and bend over backwards to accommodate your opponents. That’s the path to “moral authority”.
Uh-huh. Awright, enuff about Lil Tommy Friedman and his latest right-wing anti-Obama talking point. Let’s spend some time on something really important:
When is Sleepy Hollow going to let Crane buy a new suit?
Reprinted from 12.24.06 – And it will continue to be printed until the O’Reilly-originated “War on Christmas” BS ends. There’s no antidote to lies except truth.
This would be the time, if ever there was one, to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, but before we can do that to any purpose we need to clear away some of the dead wood by exploding a couple of the myths that have built up around it since the holiday became popular in the late 19th century. Chief among these is the legend that Christmas is Christian, or even religious. Read the rest of this entry »
Just when you thought corporate greed couldn’t sink any lower, Coca-Cola, based in not-too-far-away Atlanta, takes it to a whole new level.
Coke [is] urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is the govt “watchdog” that’s supposed to bark at corporate wrong-doing, has a gift for us this Thanksgiving. Well, that is, not us exactly. More like for lobbyists.
As the Project on Government Oversight reports, the SEC is postponing a new ethics rule. That’s no big deal, right? Wrong.
As POGO notes, the move deliberately allows an untold number of senior SEC employees to evade standard employment regulations – more specifically, it allows them to leave the agency and immediately begin lobbying their old government colleagues on behalf of corporate clients.
Eliseo Medina, a long time union activist who used to march with Cesar Chavez, is in deep shit.
So there Mr. Medina was on Friday, now 67 years old, in a white tent just below the Capitol on the National Mall in the 11th day of a water-only fast he hopes will “touch the heart” of the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and make him act on immigration.
Despite Boehner’s penchant for tears whenever he’s feeling sorry for himself -
which he does a lot – would you really want to bet your existence on his heart? On his ability to empathize with someone in trouble? Other than himself, of course.
I am loaded with admiration for Mr Medina’s courage and optimism, but his judgement may need a little work. You can’t shame the shameless.
The sterling-silver New York Times took a break from its long series of tear-stained stories covering the tragic consequences on the rich of our economic disintegration to notice – briefly – how destructive our attitudes toward the unemployed have become.
Ms. Barrington-Ward…was laid off from an administrative position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008; she had earned about $50,000 that year. With the recession spurring employers to dump hundreds of thousands of workers a month and the unemployment rate climbing to the double digits, she found that no matter the number of résumés she sent out — she stopped counting in the thousands — she could not find work.
“I’ve been turned down from McDonald’s because I was told I was too articulate,” she says. “I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn’t speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was ‘too pretty.’ I’ve also been told point-blank to my face, ‘We don’t hire the unemployed.’ And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.”