Rahm Emanuel and Rick Perry Hold Public in Bipartisan Contempt

Lambert here: This post is short and sweet. It’s worth reminding ourselves that on some axes of evaluation, Republicans and Democrats are far more alike than different.

By PEU Report. Originally posted on their blog, Private Equity Report.

Holding the public in contempt is a bipartisan effort.  Consider the following stories.  The first involves Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas:

Information contained in a blistering state audit shows that at least five of the recipients… which got tens of millions of dollars from the fund — never actually submitted formal applications.   At issue are at least five recipients of Texas Enterprise Fund money: Vought Aircraft…

Texas Governor Rick Perry gave Vought, a Carlyle Group affiliate, $35 million for fifteen years. Ten years later it’s unclear if Vought provided even one additional new job.  Governor Perry’s job number is fanciful and the recent audit gives no overall job number.  In 2010 Carlyle sold Vought for $1.44 billion but not one penny was returned to Texas taxpayers. 

Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel is as free with taxpayer money for his political benefactors and purposely evasive about those relationships:

Emanuel’s administration has for weeks blocked the release of correspondence between his administration and one of the Democratic mayor’s top donors, Michael Sacks.  The administration has also refused to release details about tens of millions of dollars in shadowy no-bid city payments to some of Emanuel’s largest campaign contributors.

Rahm’s top donor is a private equity underwriter (PEU):

The CEO of the Chicago private equity firm Grosvenor, Sacks has been described as Emanuel’s closest ally in the private sector, and has been called Emanuel’s “go-to guy” and his “top troubleshooter.”

PEU sponsored politicians are above the law:

Illinois’ open records law mandates that communications to and from public officials like Emanuel be made available for public inspection.

 Back to how Rahm rewards his donors:

…firms that have received tens of millions of dollars’ worth of shadowy “direct voucher payments” (DVPs) from the Emanuel administration have given more than $775,000 worth of campaign contributions to the mayor’s political organizations.

Chicago’s DVP process is permitted thanks to loopholes in Illinois’ procurement law that allow municipal officials to circumvent the traditional contracting process. Unlike standard government contracts, DVP payouts do not require any type of public documentation. Emanuel appointees retain substantial discretionary authority to approve DVPs. The payments are not required to go to the lowest bidder; vendors receiving the payments do not have to list their qualifications and never need to document the services they provide to the city in return for the money. The DVPs appear to have been used for everything from phone service to interest payments to financial firms, but unlike the George W. Bush administration’s no-bid contracts, DVP payments do not even require a formal contract, so it is impossible to verify what the money purchased. 

No application, no contract and no accountability.    It’s our PEU world, where politicians Red and Blue love PEU.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. cnchal

    From Larry Sommers missive.

    First, American leadership must have a bipartisan foundation at home, be free from gross hypocrisy and be restrained in the pursuit of self-interest.

    Hey Larry, next time you get close to a lever of power, yank it out of the machine and beat the corruption out of Rahm and Perry. Please.

  2. jgordon

    Well hang on a minute. If the majority of voters are willing to vote for Rick and Rham then the voting puplic (gasp) deserves to be held in contempt. Let’s be real: people like Clinton, Obama, Hitler, Bush, etc, don’t get elected because people are smart.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Yah, blame it on the voters, right? Not on slick SOBs who steal electoral legitimacy along with anything else tat isn’t glued down. Because after all, this is a “democracy,” and pretextually we get to vote for our lords and mistresses, from a wide ballot of candidates, so it looks like we mopes have made our bed of choice and now just have to provide the servicing we married up for. Yah, that’s how it works. I get it now, it’s one of those PROFIT deals! And the wise person goes along so he or she can get closer to where the hyenas are gutting and dismembering the corpse, so we can snap up some scraps!

      1. Pat

        Unless you want to talk about black box voting, in which case they really are blameless and are victims of the slick SOBs who steal elections, they are to blame. Hell I’m to blame. I voted for Obama once. My friend who has not voted in ten years is to blame as well. We fell for the crap. You only have two choices, vote for one of them or stay home.
        Well we do have other choices much of the time – third parties. And where we do not have that, there is such a thing as writing in your vote. By choosing to go along with the so-called lesser of two evils vote, by buying the campaign bullshit regardless of the record, or by just giving up the voters have given the SOBs what they want. And in the case of the stay at home non voter, we give the SOBs the scenario they want that the choices they have made for us are the ones people want. Showing up on election day and voting for someone, any one but the choices laid out for us destroys that myth. Even if it is Rick or Rahm, suddenly it is Rick Perry elected with 31 per cent of the vote, Rahm Emanuel elected with 26 per cent. And eventually the voters will realize they DO not have to toe the corporately captured/SOB controlled Party lines.
        But as long as voters do not claim the responsibility they have to show up and then vote their conscience even if it is supposedly meaningless or a waste- change is impossible without something a lot more involved then using our legal right.

      2. jgordon

        Chicago in November, a polling station on the south side. A once vibrant courthouse that’s seen better days is now hosting a crowd.

        Rham greets the voter: “Hello, I’m Rham Emanuel.” He grins and holds out his hand as if to shake. Wearing a bemused expression the voter hesitantly reaches out, but just then like a snake Rham snatches the arm from midair and deftly muscles it behind the hapless voter’s back. He whispers in her ear, “If you like your arm you’ll vote like I say, right? Muhahahah.” Rham and the voter enter the polling station.

        If only people could vote as they desired the world might have been a better place. But with Rham lying in wait at every polling station the voters never had a chance. They were most heinously forced into supporting privatized parking meters and charter schools completely against their will even as their once magnificent city got flushed down the toilet bowl of history. There was nothing that could be done.

        1. diptherio

          Come on, you know our democracy is a sham. We’ve got one corporate party with two right wings. If anything, you should be demeaning Chicagoans for voting at all and playing along with the charade, not for voting in the wrong guy.

          The two legacy parties have a lock on American politics and the Wall Street elite have a lock on both legacy parties, so how’s about we stop blaming the poor schmucks who are trying to do their civic duty by voting for the lesser of two evils, and place the blame on the evil itself? Just sayin’…

          1. alex morfesis

            our democracy is NOT a sham. our choice to act as if being a democracy is as simple as flipping a channel on the remote is the problem. Like most things in life, it is work…work that most people do not want to partake in…

            “I don’t have the time” said the chorus…

            well…actually…you have the time…you just don’t have the will (not “you” personally di, just the “laos” in general)…and that is how the operatives can convert a great entity into a carcass…by feeding on most peoples dysfunction…

            “being free is hard work…”

            it most certainly is…

            vote early, vote often, vote chuy

            1. hunkerdown

              Popular suffrage is neither necessary nor sufficient for democracy. What part of “binding will” must be ignored to make this rotten bit of salesmanship stand up?

          2. Carla

            But the lesser of two evils is not lesser at all, just more accomplished at lying.

            The Republicans tell us they’re going to f*ck us over, and then they f*ck us over.

            The Democrats tell us they’re going to help us, and then they f*ck us over.

          3. different clue

            Every Chicago voter that voted for Rahm could have voted for Mr. Chuy if it had wanted to. They all had that free choice.

            What percent of the Race Card vote did Mr. Rahm get, again? Because the Firstest Black President EVah supported Mr. Rahm? That was a choice the Race Card voters chose to make.

            1. participant-observer-observed

              No different than the FL voters who voted for Rick Scott, whose Medicare settlements are well known to everyone.

              I am with Jgordon on this one. In other countries with nominal democratic process, ordinary, otherwise-powerless people would be out on the streets, or calling a general strike.

              Or corrupt politicians and the populace who relinquished their franchise to them are co-dependent enablers. It is true, the powerful have more power, but only because the public gives it to them!

        2. Denis Drew

          There is a stab at getting the parking meters back. That little red flag that pops up in the meter means GO — just like the right light means stop. IOW, you cannot sell your police power — which was the original purpose of the meters — repeatedly opening up parking spaces in business districts. When I first came to Chicago the meters in nearby Evanston took pennies. Some group is trying to get the meters back on that legal basis, I believe.



  3. ErnstThalmann

    I’ve written about filth like Emanuel and Perry being tried by peoples’ courts in large sports arenas on many occasions before. This following a popular revolt in which such reptiles are thrown bodily from their offices by incensed mobs. Ultimately, we will reach a point where ruling class authority over the military will break down and the people at last will have at these dual loyaltied, corporately owned slugs. It happened in Russia in 1917, in China in 1949, and it can happen again.

    1. RUKidding

      It’ll happen here, just like in Russia & China?

      Maybe. Not holding my breath. At any rate, while I’m no history buff, I do believe that the Russians & the Chinese – who have a lot longer cultural/societal history than us dummies here in the USA – were even more downtrodden than we are now. And that’s rub. It’s not bad enough… yet. Too many citizens are still not feeling any pain, and if they are even vaguely aware of the increasingly awful plight of the really poor in this country, they look down on them and blame them for being “too lazy” and other ridiculous propaganda that they enjoy believing.

      Plus a whoppingly huge segment of US citizens still believe in and adhere to tribalistic authoritarian political party identity. I just had yet another talk with someone (who’s very intelligent, btw) who kept insisting that Obama really, truly, for sure is a “nice guy with good intentions.” I have to work really hard at not being in despair sometimes.

      Time will tell. Color me skeptical.

    2. hunkerdown

      Not here — the US military has sinews of strong but unofficial devotion to the Dominionist wing of American Exceptionalism and I seem to remember that some units had some recent, real problems maintaining the separation of church and state. It’s been a problem since Reagan or so, and it’s not much different from the addiction-to-abuse that constitutes American life today, just harder.

  4. timbers

    It seems incomprehensible that Rahm could win re-election. Can people really be that dumb? If he wins, maybe people deserve him?

    It’s just so behind belief. I know even Obots who hate him.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      He’s got a lot of money. And he hammered the “how are you going to pay for it?” narrative (which assumes, among other things, that the books aren’t cooked, megaprojects with skyboxes are always good, big real estate should always be subsidized, corruption doesn’t take a cut, there’s never any Federal money, and on and on and on).

  5. sam snead

    Vought is no longer owned by the Carlyle Group. Triump purchased Vought in 2010. It is now knows as Triumph Aerostructures – Vought Aircraft Division.

    The TEC money did create jobs….just not in Texas. Vought built a new plant in South Carolina in order to hire non-union employees( no defined pension plan, no retiree medical, etc).

    Boeing eventually bought out the plant for $1 billion and the Govornor Nikki is fighting to make sure that the employees are not allowed to have a vote as to whether or not to join a union.


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