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Obama: The Buckraking Starts Here

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When I was in DC about a month ago, speaking at the Atlantic Economy conference, the keynote speaker was Paul Volcker. Tall Paul could not refrain from starting his remarks by commenting on how prosperous the capital looked and made it clear he regarded it as unseemly. And indeed, at least to someone breezing in and out, the town is ostentatiously well turned out, with lots of new construction and upscale stores and restaurants. The cab driver pointed out a new commercial building which he said had been built on spec and was leasing up well.

It has become depressingly normal to hear of senior Administration officials going immediately for the golden ring when they leave public service. But for every Mary Shapiro joining Promontory and Lanny Breuer returning to Covington & Burling for $4 million a year, there are even more operatives at similar or lower levels who make a very juicy return on their association with Obama but don’t get the same level of attention in the mainstream media.

Norm Scheiber, in a must-read article in The New Republic, “Get Rich or Deny Trying:
How to make millions off Obama
,” chronicles how this process works. It’s even uglier than you might imagine.

In theory, there are some bounds of propriety:

Within Obamaworld, there are a few unwritten rules about how to parlay one’s experience into a handsome payday. There is, for example, a loose taboo against joining a K Street lobbying shop and explicitly trading on administration connections. And while joining a consulting firm is acceptable, those who do are reluctant to work for clients reviled by liberals: gun makers, tobacco companies, Big Oil, union busters. Above all, there is a simple prohibition against excessive tackiness. “It’s like: Don’t embarrass yourself. You were part of something special,” says a longtime Obama adviser. “I think if [Obama] were to send an all-staff e-mail, it would be along the lines of Ron Burgundy—‘Stay classy, San Diego.’ ”

But of course, these protocols are often violated in practice. One assumes that as long as one isn’t too flagrant about it, no real harm done, right? Scheiber uses major Obama fundraiser, former UBS chairman Richard Wolf as an example. Wolf never held an Administration post, so he can’t necessarily be expected to hew tightly to the unwritten code. But one of the no-nos is trading, or being perceived to trade, on one’s connection to Obama. Wolf has staffed his consulting firm 32 Advisors with Obama luminaries such as Austan Goolsbee and important insiders like Kevin Varney, the former chief of staff of Ex-Im Bank. Wolf maintains that Obama would never lift a finger to help him while also saying the President is supportive and playing up official relationationships in his website and marketing materials.

While Scheiber discusses some of the places that offer a lucrative landing for former Obama team members, like SKDKnickerbocker, he makes clear how easy it is to profit if you’ve acquired the right connections:

But it turns out the highest-profile White House grads don’t so much join consulting firms these days; they found them. A boldfaced Obama name can rake in upward of $25,000 per month from a client just by dialing into a conference call and drafting a memo from time to time. Four clients means more than a million dollars a year with virtually no overhead. “You can run a business like that on an iPad and a cell phone,” says the former administration official. The godfather of this approach is ex-Clinton strategist Doug Sosnik, famous for conducting his business meetings in jeans from coffee shops and hotel lobbies. David Plouffe and Stephanie Cutter have both adopted the Sosnik model.

The alternative is to rent out office space and staff up, in hopes of one day growing into a consulting powerhouse. This is the Glover Park Group model, based on the firm a group of former Clinton and Gore hands opened in 2001 and nurtured into a 160-person juggernaut. Jim Messina appears to have ambitions in this vein, having procured office space and hired support staff. Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, who briefly flirted with trying to return to the White House, is in the process of launching a similar firm with Ben LaBolt, the 2012 campaign press secretary.

Oh, and if you care about inside baseball, Scheiber also describes some of the rifts among the Obama alumni. But of course, if there is any problem with propriety, it’t the other guys who have it:

Of course, this being the Obama tribe—a group of people who promised the most ethical, transparent administration in history; who gave themselves migraines by refusing to hire lobbyists (except when they did); who, during the 2008 primaries, held up the influence-peddling ex-Clintonite Lanny Davis as a shorthand for everything wrong with Washington—there is more than a little anguish over all the newfound riches. “Axe [David Axelrod] thinks all of us are lobbyists,” says one Obama campaign adviser. In conversations with other Obamans, several were willing to damn former colleagues as ethically suspect. (Naturally, they downplayed their own transgressions.)

There are paths outside the Beltway too, such as tech consulting firms, big technology companies, and Hollywood. But one “protected zone is Organizing for Action, which is a permanent campaign apparatus, now focused on Obama’s legislative agenda (catfood futures!) and one presumes, early legacy-building. It managed to earn a rebuke from the New York Times over its post-campaign fundraising. But it’s such a powerhouse that former operatives curry its favor.

This story makes the outrage over the Clintons’ selling the Lincoln bedroom seem so…quaint. For every anecdote Scheiber presents, it’s certain there are a dozen more like it. No wonder people like Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, use the phrase “middle class” as if it was an alien phenomenon. The people in the Beltway money bubble don’t need to care about ordinary Americans, and so they don’t.

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64 comments

  1. YankeeFrank

    “Don’t embarrass yourself. You were part of something special…”

    Man these douchebags really know how to massage their own egos. I can think of nothing “special” about Obama or his administration, if we think of special in terms of “beneficial to the citizenry”, or “advancing the cause of liberty and justice”, or “breaking the iron grip of criminal corporate finance on the nation”. If special means cementing in place the neoliberal onslaught, institutionalization of criminal finance, destruction of civil rights, rewarding predation, theft and torture, murdering thousands of innocents abroad, crushing civil protest and civil society, destroying whistle-blowers and those with patriotic integrity… then yes: man are they special. Profoundly special.

    After all Obama has “accomplished” I will be grimly satisfied if he is lame-ducked very soon and his efforts to privatize more of our infrastructure, pass the TPP and hollow out social security and medicare all fail miserably. He is more dishonest than Bush and Cheney. Less ethical than Bill Clinton, and more incompetent and dumb than Reagan. Those are some achievements there ‘Bammy. The man has no integrity and not a shred of honesty. He is detestable. His administration is loathsome. I thought after the W administration anything would be better. I was wrong.

    1. from Mexico

      At least Bush was what he was, an advocate for wealth and privilege, and made no bones about it.

      What we get with Obama is Bush in populist drag.

      In addition to all of Bush’s faults we have to put up with an additional crime: hypocrisy.

      1. jake chase

        I cannot help thinking we have gotten is exactly what one can expect in a democracy which imposes no voting qualifications. How can there be a better investment than buying a candidate who combines impassioned and articulate horseshit with overweening ambition, hypocrisy and greed? What sort of people would you expect to find infecting his administration?

        Maybe democracy worked 2500 years ago in a country the size of Cleveland, Ohio (think Athens). These days we would probably be better off under feudalism, assuming some degree of noblesse oblige.

        1. Susan the other

          I’d like to believe that a form of democracy can evolve here that will be very effective. Stg like an electronic/phone referendum for whatever the issue is. Athens had direct democracy.

          1. Susan the other

            In fact I’d like to see us give up the whole idea of a “president” because the only thing we get is a representative of the oligarchs. Can we just have a big computer for a president? Hal?

      2. Brindle

        At times recently I have found that I have more respect for Bush and Cheney than for Obama.
        They were right wing Republicans and did not try to disguise it, Obama is essentially a right wing Republican who conned most of the Dem party.

        1. Massinissa

          Im actually more ‘impressed’ with Obama than with Bush, in terms of being the greatest political charlatan since… Id like to say Reagan but Reagan didnt completely lie about his policies. I cant really think of a frame of reference to compare Obama to right now, few politicians break every single goddamn campaign promise, fully on purpose! Breaking promises go hand in hand with politics, but its hard to stomach that he pretty much had all of this planned out beforehand: most politicians make and break their promises ad-hoc.

          I find Obama to be far more morally reprehensible than Bush much for this reason. Bush at least gave his rank and file voters exactly what they voted for.

          1. Brindle

            To be blunt I find Obama to be as sleazy and slimy a politician to come down the pike in a long time.

        2. jrs

          Obama is also much more heavily into propaganda. Ok, they’re ALL into propaganda through the official channels (WMDs for the Iraq war etc.). But what I mean is none seemed so into brainwashing their followers as Obama. All the Obama Truth Teams and so on. Criticized legitmately by the right and for legitmate offenses, but never cutting to what I see is the real point of them: to brainwash Obama’s own followers. To produce dumb brainwashed Obamabots.

      3. dannyc

        Bush is the greatest example of Affirmative Action this country has ever known since before the Revolution– for white people. Whites Only Affirmative Action is also what makes Obama’s corruption so tragic and disgusting: the first African-American to achieve the White House and what does he do?– cuts Social Security, a program so popular and successful even the Tea Partiers don’t want it touched.
        (Note: Social Security when it was first enacted, August 1935, covered all occupations except maids and farm workers. Guess who the maids and farm workers were in USA 1935? Hint: they also couldn’t vote in many states; and, as MLK would later say, had no one to vote for in the remainder.)

    2. Klassy!

      “Something special” reminded me of this quote from the NYT article about Apple store employees.
      “When you’re working for Apple you feel like you’re working for this greater good,” says a former salesman
      In both cases, my thought is: WTF?

      1. Massinissa

        Because working for a company that exploits asian slave labour conditions famous for worker suicides is totally for the greater good!

      2. curlydan

        You have to realize this “feel good, inc.” strategy is the modus operandi of nearly all corporations and now governments.

        Walmart’s corporate slogan is “Live Better”. Google’s is (I believe) “Do No Evil”. When you’re screwing over millions, you have to have in place a saying to make yourself feel better.

      3. jrs

        Yea it’s one thing to say that while your working for them. It’s another to entirely swallow the kool aid afterward. Ha, probably an Obama voter.

    3. diptherio

      Obama’s election proved that the American electorate are more gullible than they are racist. Now that’s special…(it’s gotta be some kind of improvement, right?)

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Really, this reverse racism is way way overdone. Obama lied and the country was really eager for anyone different than Bush. Him being half black made that a bit more obvious, but I really don’t see that as a major driver. It was mainly the hopey-changey snake oil.

        I will confess I voted for Obama in 2008 and it was for ONLY one reason: Palin. McCain’s health isn’t great and it was not hard to see him dying under the stress of being President.

        Plus I was apolitical then and by virtue of not having checked into his history, assumed the fact that Paul Volcker was Obama’s most visible economic advisor meant he’d be tough on the banks.

        Then he appointed Geithner as Treasury Secretary and I knew I’d been had. The only reason I had had for weakly preferring Obama to Clinton was I thought she’d bring back the old (horrible) Clinton economics team.

    4. pws

      Well, it is special if you mean “especially bad.”

      Also, even now I see Obama-zombies everywhere, saying things like, “C’mon, the guy was a Community Organizer, do you really think he wants old ladies to starve? It’s those darn Republicans.”

      So, Obama is especially good at creating zombies, too. Which is bad.

  2. Lambert Strether

    One longs for the integrity of the Bush administration. Give me one of his Christianists, who for all thir many faults at least knew what a belief system was over these smug, amoral “I’ve got mine” weasels any day.

    1. TK421

      Bush would actually prosecute a criminal CEO now and then to keep up appearances. Obama feels no need for any of that.

    2. pws

      I read an argument which said that people are more stressed out by hidden racism, such as saying, “You wouldn’t fit in here,” because the person is black but not telling them that’s why they won’t hire them, more so than by actual overt racism, “You wouldn’t fit in here because you are black.” Because they know what’s going on in both cases, but without confirmation there is always that tiny bit of creeping doubt.

      Actually, it reminds me of the concept of gaslighting, where the villain does his best to make his victim doubt the victim’s own sanity while carrying out his villainy.

      Well, that’s how I feel about Bush versus Obama, give me naked aggression and avarice rather than being back-stabbed and told, in the most sanctimonious way possible, “but it’s for your own good.”

      1. jrs

        Worse than “but it’s for your own good”, that would just be moralizing. It’s worse than that, it’s sanctamonious, more like: but it’s for some noble principle, it’s for the good of all that is good, blah blah blah we believe in the most noble principles blah blah blah.

        1. pws

          Yeah, that’s the problem with talking about the bottomless well of moral corruption and Orwellian propaganda created by the Obama administration, it’s hard to really get what they are on about because it’s all lies wrapped in lies.

          I mean the only “greater good” we are all “nobly sacrificing” for is the increased wealth and privilege of the global moneyed aristocracy, and their bootlicks like Obama.

          So, I mean, I know I’m not doing it for my child, or for my wife and even though I don’t have any grandchildren yet I’m not doing it for them either. I know it isn’t for the people in our society who are struggling even more than me, or the third world poor, or senior citizens or the environment.

          So, I have a hard time to know who we’re all sacrificing for. Michelle and the kids? Larry Summers? Robert Rubin? Bain Capital?

          What noble entity are we giving up everyone’s future for?

  3. Thor's Hammer

    Every time I begin to long for the honesty and integrity of the Bush administration– “we represent the interest of Oil and Texas and to hell with the rest of you”, I recall Colin “Oreo” Powell testifying in front of the UN about WMD’s. And then long suppressed memories emerge of “Shock and Awe”, Dick Cheney micro-managing the attack on 911 and the totally impossible conspiracy theory hatched by his administration to cover it up and I’m no longer nostalgic.

    1. traveler

      Bush & Co. lied but Obama has lied and betrayed. Even Republicans began distancing themselves from Bush whereas Obama still has an adoring coterie of True Believers.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Disgraced former Senator Jon Corzine is a most heinous example of trading on personal connections to Obama. After stealing over a billion dollars of customer money at MFG, that unindicted felon secured a permanent “get out of jail free” card simply because he was Obama’s key bribe-bundler. It makes Obama his conspicuous co-conspirator … in addition to his many other crimes. And compounding these are crimes of the heart, the devious treachery of killing the hope and aspirations of “ordinary” Americans.

        This is neofeudalism, a perverse Game of Thrones—noblesse without oblige—where fraudulent self-dealing is so smug and scornful that healthy people can’t even comprehend it or begin to combat it. And so it trickles down. It’s hard to imagine such agents of corruption and misery sleeping well, but I suppose the human heart can be callused gradually enough that the mind becomes reprobate; screaming dissonance is steadily muted to white noise, until it fades into the senility of Reagan, Thatcher or Cheney. This is the sordid legacy of America’s first African president—a tragic, historic disgrace.

        1. John F. Opie

          No need to get into any other description of President Obama than that he is a Chicago politician. Look at the systemic, endemnic corruption of Chicago politics and then look at what President Obama’s administration is performing, ethically, and you will see that he is very much a product of his environment.

          No need to bring race or anything else into it. Chicago is a Democratic swamp of corruption, incompetence and venality. If the Democrats keep the Senate and take the House, that would probably mean the institutionalization of such corruption far beyond what we see today in Washington. Such a lovely legacy…

          1. Doug Terpstra

            Race is an issue in how it compounds the tragedy. The first African-American president, so full of transcendent post-racial promise, becomes a despicable, devious disgrace — arguably the worst president in US history. And he drags the non-Caucasian Caucus with him into the snake pit.

            On the bright side, maybe this will foster true post-racialism and end colorblind blindness. People will no longer judge a Trojan horse by its color but its dubious content.

    2. Thor's Hammer

      This is an interesting presentation by a Swiss professor of history about the difficulties of putting together an accurate history of the events of 911. For many Americans, and I suspect for most who follow this site, the official story was embedded in their consciousness on the day they viewed planes flying into the Twin Towers. That is why it is informative to listen to an outsider engage in a rational analysis about how history gets written and cast into concrete.

      http://edvan.fadeout.ch/v2/?customerId=30&channelId=189&broadcastId=1379

    3. pws

      Yes, but Bush wasn’t trying to fool hos own voters, who could not possibly care less whether Saddam had weapons or ties to Al Qaeda. Every war is a good war for that lot.

      Bush was only trying to fool the most gullible of gullible fools who for some reason still wouldn’t just sign off on an Iraq invasion just because Bush said Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. I mean, to me, I never took any of that weapons of Mass Destruction/Al Qaeda stuff seriously, and I was shocked to find out that people actually believed it.

      Besides, the Clinton’s spent years propagandizing against Saddam Hussein as well. It’s just that they preferred their slow and brutal siege versus a messy war, so we ended up with both. (A slow cruel siege followed by a disastrous war.)

  4. clarence swinney

    SMALLER GOVERNMENT
    Half of discretionary spending goes for defense.
    Half goes to mandatory spending.
    All the budget plans, so far, puts spending at lowest percent of GDP since 1962.
    Since that date, non-defense spending has never been less than 16%.
    The budgets on hand reduce it to 11.5% of GDP by 2023.
    The trend has been for Mandatory to increase more than non-Mandatory

  5. banger

    I was around the Washington scene for many years and have left. The scene there can be best described as a huge imperial court except there is no real center. The WH is one factor in the world of government that kind of nudges the ship of state in some vague direction but directions that can mean financial gains or losses to some people. Thus access is important to make sure the nudges are favorable. I found Congress to be even more self-serving than the WH and also the bureaucracies are very powerful due to the increasing power of very, very powerful consulting groups that can make life very good for bureaucrats that go along with the ridiculous contracts they negotiate with the government (yes, I was a government contractor).

    The town is very well networked and people on the inside, in their narrow area, know the score and go along to get along. Whistleblowing is discouraged unless there is some very obvious fraud involving minor players very much like any other part of our society. Major Pentagon fraud is ok, employees making illegal purchases for themselves etc., does get some attention.

    I personally have come to the conclusion that, while government can theoretically provide healthy regulation and cushion the effects of predatory capitalism that, at this point in history, we are better off without most of its functions–it really is too corrupt and getting worse.

    It started on this course during the “reinventing government” phase when politicians decided to downsize government by firing civil service workers and hiring, at a much higher fee, consultants. The consultant game became a game and it’s been gamed. Some of us did a lot of good work but the fraud I’ve seen is enormous. Projects that have gone on for years with no tangible results but lots of words justifying them and all the regs were followed. Congress offers virtually no oversight and the WH is remote and usually only concerned with PR. I had to leave, it was horrible despite many good people that dotted (only dotted) the landscape over there.

    1. Susan the other

      I agree with you on this completely. Government, if it ever existed in a democratic form, has been shamelessly co-opted. But by the same token I disagree with your previous comments about Occupy being ineffectual. Occupy is only ineffectual insofar as heart and soul are ineffectual. Why can’t we just cancel the presidency and have direct democracy. Gotta change that outdated constitution before democracy passes us by altogether.

      1. banger

        I appreciate everyone’s defense of Occupy but as a movement it was, shall we say, soft and chaotic. There was little real leadership–it was just a bunch of stuff I saw that destroyed the old “new left” I was a part on–stupid meetings about process and consensus and no action. I saw the tail end of the Civil Rights movement and it was better organized and focused.

        Sorry, but politics is politics. If you aren’t organized, if you don’t punish enemies and help friends, have clear goals and objectives and a solid divisions of labor and strong leadership it comes to nothing. The ad hoc communities don’t last–there has to be firm commitment to go at over long periods of time. I’ve written about this extensively over the years and few people on the left seem interested in building something solid–like labor and the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement came close to doing.

  6. Garrett Pace

    I think the Bush nostalgia arises not so much from any of that administration’s qualities, but out of a sense of personal betrayal – getting excited about Obama’s potential and finding the actuality that much more disappointing.

    Same for some who supported Bush years ago and watched helplessly as the world reaped that whirlwind. It’s no mystery why Bill Clinton is popular today – people are longing for the days of garden variety sleaze; of lobbing a few missiles and then calling it a day rather than levering up the giant war machine; of letting the teeming masses die in other nations rather than doing the killing ourselves.

    1. YankeeFrank

      I don’t really think there is nostalgia for any of these crooked slimeballs. The same “work” is being done by all of them. Its that the proportion of corruption relative to the suffering of the populace has grown exponentially, and yet Obama and his cronies walk around like he’s the savior of western civ or something.

    2. Yalt

      Well, in those days of “lobbing a few missiles and calling it a day” we did bomb Serbia “back to the stone age” to the warm applause of Tom Friedman and the NYT and kill half a million Iraqi children with sanctions and no-fly zones while Margaret Albright told us “the cost was worth it.”

      The last President not to do some killing was…who? Eisenhower was relatively tame in that regard, I suppose. You have to go back to the second Jefferson administration to find a four-year gap in Wikipedia’s list of US wars.

      I’m not sure what to be nostalgic for. King George II? At least he went into battle himself.

      1. REDPILLED

        Eisenhower’s proxy killings were enormous. His 1953 coup CIA removing democratically-elected Mossadegh in Iran and returning the Shah resulted in the deaths and torture of tens of thousands of Iranians over the following 25 years. His 1954 CIA coup removing democratically-elected Arbenz in Guatemala resulted in genocide in that country over the next 40 years. As Noam Chomsky has said, “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war [WW II] American president would have been hanged.”

        1. Yalt

          Oh, for sure. You could add Mossadegh, or the beginnings of our Southeast Asia adventures, or countless other examples. But the post I was responding to was yearning for the days of proxy killings instead of “doing the killing ourselves.” Eisenhower had a marked preference for…ahem…”peaceful” means.

          It’s maybe a characteristic of former generals that they tend to be a bit more careful with the lives of their own soldiers and would rather carry out their mayhem through third parties.

          1. Yalt

            Oops, I’m not sure how I missed the Mossadegh reference in your post since it was the very first thing you said.

    3. jrs

      The Bush nostalgia is that ok, W was bad, about as bad as I thought a president could possibly be. But I really do think Obama is worse. Targeted assasination (murdering poeple because you feel like it), really I’m tempted to say it can’t get any worse (but then I said that about W).

      And here we pretend we live in a decent country (and many Americans on the ground may indeed be decent) but these are the laws of the land. Is it any wonder we’re also insane?

  7. Hugh

    Kleptocracy, class war, and wealth inequality. It is all and always about the looting. All the activity, all the daily toing and froing, the anthill of motion, are so much distractive cover for looting. Big Government is actually quite useful for this. Hundreds of agencies and departments, thousands of important players, who can keep track of it all? Sure, for a few days we may discuss crooks like Shapiro, Lanny Breuer, and Mary Jo White. We may key in on ludicrously goldplated, poorly designed projects like the F-35. But these people and projects are there, day in, day out for years working their evil, wrecking the country, and of course looting it. The sheer mass of looting helps to obscure its individual manifestations, those who benefit from it, those who perpetrate it, and those who give additional cover for it.

    And as here, we need to understand that looting is displaced in time. That is what the revolving door is. Work for the looters today so you can be one of the looters tomorrow. But it is so much more than that. Work for the looters and you will get that nice position in academia. You will get to write op-eds in the New York Times. Work for the looters and after a few years in Congress or the White House, you can rake in your own pile of loot as a “consultant” or a “lobbyist”. Work for the looters and after your top spot in the Administration, you can sit on boards where you get paid for looking the other way, you can give speeches at tens of thousands, even a hundred thousand, a pop. It is not so much that bribery pervades our system. It is that bribery is the system. It is the essential contract between our elites and our overclass of the looting rich. Work for them and get a share of the loot. Do not and get looted like all the other saps.

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    Apologize for the OT, but I’m fed up to here with the references to Palestinian terrorists the media is forcing onto any mention of the Boston Marathon tragedy.

    So far, all we know for sure is that actually protecting its citizens is the last thing our government is interested in since it fails so miserably at it as opposed to its brilliant success in controlling those citizens by eliminating their civil rights, their privacy, their democracy and arming police forces and “Homeland Security” to the teeth.

  9. Eureka Springs

    The problem with O’bashing is it conveniently fails to examine or ‘blame’ the entire D party… the entire system, particularly of the kleptocracy, the bribe based political and electoral process, loss of rule of law etc.

    At least in the Bush years some of us had false hope in the D party. We had places to raise money, pretend to be activists, mo and better democrats etc.

    What we know now is there will be no representation, and any resistance to neoliberalism (again both parties/systemic) will be called a retard, perfect or shot with rubber bullets as if they are terrorists.

    Hell, I rarely trust/sign a petition anymore because it will not be heard and usually it’s penned in the most feckless language by the veal pen.

    From here on out it’s Delegitimization from me. People need to stop pretending… it worked to peacefully bring down the behemoth USSR.

    We need a reboot.

  10. LAS

    The country voted for round 2 with Obama because he was perceived to be the lesser of two evils.

    Why exactly is it that our choices are so narrow? Why can’t we grow the progressive party or the labor party in this country? If we had a few more political parties with greater visibility and some popular support (and leftward leaning) it would probably force the Democrates to rethink their capitulation to a Republican agenda.

    1. pws

      It was, to use wrestling terminology, a “kefabe” election. in other words, a rigged match, like a wrestling bout or a Harlem Globetrotters’ game.

      First you had the absurd Republican clown show, a group of clowns, has beens and never weres fighting for the crown. Finally, that was paired down to the least objectionable choice, a candidate who was named, I believe, Scrooge McMoney. My memory is a bit hazy, but I’m fairly certain that Scrooge McMoney, Mormon Leveraged Buyout Billionaire, was the Republican candidate.

      His campaign was primarily him and his running mate, a Mr. Paul Ryan, saying the most outrageously awful things they could come up with, or staging outrageous press conferences designed to show them as greedy, out of touch, ultra-rich, greedy snobs who hated anyone who didn’t have at least 100 Million in liquid cash to throw around.

      Then, because the intention of Scrooge McMoney to throw the election became way too obvious even for our credulous media, they had Obama throw the first debate so it seemed like there was actually still an election going on. (A classic pro-wrestling trick, give the bad guy wrestler an upper hand for a match so the good guy wrestler looks even better when he triumphs. It makes for great TV.)

      Unsurprisingly, candidate Scrooge McMoney was defeated in a rout, and had to go home and cry in his money bin. He could take comfort in the fact, however, that after the election, Obama poached a lot of his and Ryan’s more horrible ideas to use for “Obama Term Two: This Time it’s Personal!!!”

      So, in a way, both candidates really won.

        1. pws

          I thought about trying to do something with Rand, but then I remembered that we have an actual Senator named Rand. Maybe Paul “the Machine” Ryan? It captures several things: his ridiculous fandom for Hard Left band “Rage Against the Machine,” Shelley “The Machine” Levine from Glengarry Glenn Ross, and the fact that he often reminds me of a Disney Audio Animatronic Figure.

          http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/08/paul_ryan_reall.php

        1. pws

          Yes, I’m a fan of Carl Barks work. (Although it’s unfair to Uncle Scrooge, who is less of a cartoon character than Romney…)

  11. MaroonBulldog

    If you want to predict the behavior of employees in a command-and-control economy, study their leader’s behavior. They will model that.

    The federal government is a command-and-control economy, as far as the “civil servants” and “public officials” are concerned. (So are business corporations, as Coase taught.)

    It doesn’t make any difference whether the President is a Democrat or a Republican. In a command-and-control economy, the most unscrupulous will always get to the top, as Hayek taught.

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