Curmudgeons Carp About Obama’s Revolving Door
Well, jeez Louise, Bill Black and Matt Taibbi haven’t really gotten with the ‘Messages America Loves’ program yet, have they? Wot; don’t they know about political push-polls and focus groups? They should just simmer down before they give themselves a fucking heart attack, don’t you think? Americans don’t really want to hear about Jack Lew being at the center of boring crap like financial deregulation, profiting from ‘bubbles’ based on fraudulent grift that were rewarded handsomely by way of seven trillion bucks worth of taxpayer financed bailouts, and tra la la. Nor do they want to know about the massive bonuses Citibank execs like Lew and the same execs at ‘too big to prosecute’ mega-banks that are so flooded with bailout money that they’re just hangin’ on to it waitin’ to cash in on the next huge bubble they can’t even lend money to Main Street businesses to save them. Would you in their position, given that the bailouts came with no strings whatsoever?
Hell, they didn’t even mention what the Prez said about Lew having helped Tip O’Neill save social security a hundred years ago! What cranks! And don’t they get that we crave to believe the lies politicians tell us, as long as they use the right words?
Americans like success stories like Jack’s; we believe that the uber-wealthy deserve what they have, and the power they exert, cuz they got their lucre through hard work and ingenuity, right? And we like continuity, in this case: Lew = Geithner (with a little extra belt-tightening). We don’t care about holding politicians accountable; we care about what they tell us in their rousing speeches, and we care that things don’t change too much, and feel securely in our comfort zones. Hell, we don’t even mind that they lie to us; we expect it! And in the same way that we like reruns on television, continuity provides the comfort of familiarity, see? Baby steps, or hell…no steps at all…and blame that on ‘Congressional party roadblocks’.
So Obama’s lookin’ to replace Timmeh Geithner with Jack Lew? Hell, he’s just makin’ sure that Lew, like loads of his team get a chance to leave the financial sector and serve their country, right? Summers, Orszag, Axelrod, Donilon, Immelt, shoot, even partial lists are long. Patriots these guys are, just helping out their friend Barack Obama. Kinda like Congress-critters used to do: do a stint in Washington, then go home to tend their flocks or whatever; not make a flippin’ career out of it all. One private-public sector shift exception is John Kerry for State, but then, since Buffet and 3G just bought Teresa’s multinational for $28 billion, who knows if he’ll do a revolving door gig after he serves? Sure won’t be no friggin’ financial need, anyway. Of course, maybe he’ll do some unofficial UN ambassador-ing like the way The Big Dog’s been doin’ again for the constantly beleaguered Haiti.
You might be thinkin’ of the continuity of his national security and military buddies as well, how the names keep recycling over the decades; the insiders’ insiders. You know who they are, but this week an ‘uh-oh’ occurred for our President. His choice for NATO Commander, Jack Allen, who was a blowback victim of the ‘Petraeus sex scandal’ was exposed as emailing with the infamous Florida socialite Jill Kelly (oopsie), and even though the Pentagon’s IG has cleared him of ‘wrong-doing’, he’s withdrawn his name in order to spend more time with his family. We understand that, don’t we? The President ‘accepted his resignation’.
But zounds, the Prez was getting’ some heat about the lack of diversity in his cabinet replacements (kinda heavy on the old white guys), so rumor (leaks) have it that he’s gonna nominate Penny Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune to head Commerce. The ironic joke in DeeCee is whether or not the White House is ready for a billionaire in the cabinet, but at least the NYT reckons that her ‘shady dealings’ in a failed bank that bundled crap derivatives, her family’s exposed history of tax avoidance, and whatnot are okay now, since we’re ‘further down the road now from the financial crisis’ since she failed to get Obama’s final nod for the job in 2008. You can bet her level of experience will be useful in completing and launching the free fair trade deals TPP and TTIP with the EU, leading to a trade surplus for the US. Her past experience with her family’s credit ratings agency TransUnion will also be valuable.
But Lord love a duck, his apparent choice to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is brilliant: Sylvia Burwell, Clinton era figure, who is now the head of Walmart’s ‘philanthropic’ arm. For the years before her Walmart gig she worked for the Gates Foundation as well, so she embodies the other thing Americans love: philanthropy. Now the curmudgeons at The Nation Magazine have been poking around to see just how altruistic the Walmart Foundation millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of generosity has been, and they’re quibbling with how much quid pro quo they’ve found, to black leaders endorsing Walmarts being built in Harlem, DeeCee, Brooklyn, simply to help water the virtual ‘food deserts’ in the ghettos.
The authors have included a ‘leaked’ four-page memo outlining the courtesies that recipients of Walmart grants should engage in, from directives to perform simple PR announcements extolling Waldo World’s virtues, to making sure grantees ‘reach out to multicultural media’ to extol their caring largesse. They hint that Walmart’s purpose is to blunt criticism by those striking Walmart workers last year, as well as for the Walmart Mexican ‘scandal’. Agreed, but…it’s just good business. Don’t the authors know that noblesse ain’t quite as oblige as it once was? There are strings attached now, and that’s the price of doing business with capitalist philanthropists.
Given Burwell’s close relationship to Bill and Melinda, you know she’ll be pushing all those ‘private/public’ partnerships that we love, like partnering with Arne Duncan to build charter school systems they’re helping to build and prove efficacious, right down to the student bracelet galvanic skin response sensors that help prove what excites students. Positive responses will lead to improving their curricula focusing on math and science and hence, better standardized test scores. Win, win. Or Gates’ collaboration with Monsanto, the biotech giant whose sole mission is in ‘feeding the world’ the genetically modified food that will end world hunger.
Now Seamus Cooke recently published a piece explaining ‘What the 1% Heard’ in the President’s SOTUS. Cooke carped about Obama’s corporatized vision of public schools, the corporatized rebuilding American infrastructure, no mention of a jobs program, yada, yada. But Obama did say that his new trade deals would be ‘fair’, and he mentioned reforming Medicare, and promised that his drone program would be both transparent and legal. But even Cooke admitted that he’d delivered enough lofty buzz words and paens to the American Dream that most liberals apparently loved the heady ‘something for everyone’ speech, proven by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka:
Tonight President Obama sent a clear message to the world that he will stand and fight for working America’s values and priorities. And with the foundation he laid, working families will fight by his side to build an economy that works for all.
Now I’ve been doin’ a lot of thinking about this stuff, and especially about the folks who’d caterwauled about Bush’s regime being engaged in torture or drone assassinations, lies that were used as reasons for war, etc., but support Obama’s doin’ the same shit but more, in a version of ‘it’s okay if our guy does it; it ain’t that bad’. Or the familiar: ‘as long as my family’s doin’ okay, who needs a jobs program?’ sort of tribal political calculations.
And I happened upon this piece by the grumpulous Norman Pollack, who really does get a lot of it as evidenced in his ‘Liberal Fascism’:
In broadest terms, America has absorbed its own negativity, and by America I mean a culmination of tendencies toward the systemic integration of capitalism, now at a mature stage of development, and correlative mechanisms of support, previously inchoate or less operant, starting with the bludgeoning of a radical political consciousness through several decades of applied public and private pressures toward conformity: i.e., internalized boundaries of acceptable doctrine and modes of protest.
Obama can begin from where the long-term formation of a dissipative consciousness leaves off, extolling “change” as the formula for acquiescence—submission to authority, war, assassination, bank bailouts, military budgets, false either-or alternatives in social policy, whatever it takes to keep the ship of, not state, but monopoly capitalism, on course. Why liberal? Because rhetoric trumps reality, and the attachment of leader and led is bound up in an apolitical moral vacuum, affecting each, altogether resistant to critical thinking and analysis.
Whether we had created the conditions of international hostility to the US, is unthinkable. Better to plod ahead. Draw together in classless harmony. Celebrate America as the Land of Opportunity, as societal dislocation proceeds apace, whether unemployment, foreclosures, renditions, torture, nonregulation, crumbling infrastructure, gun rampages, or presidential unctiousness papering over war crimes, wealth concentration, and destruction of the environment.
Wow. Did Pollack just unintentionally call for a new political third-party: The Liberal Fascist Party? I’m in; let’s just cut to the chase.