Friday, May 16, 2008

Ponies, Cows and K Street

The last three posts, Presence and Absence, Fear and Loathing, and 1968 or 1976?, are part of my attempt to think through what this current campaign can tell us about the state of the Democratic Party as we enter a period of great political opportunity. The last Democratic period of dominance was with LBJ and ended because of the Democratic embrace of Civil Rights. As Paul Krugman elaborates in The Conscience of a Liberal, (and if you have not read that book, hie thee to a library or bookstore at once), a large enough block of middle and higher class Southern whites, especially former Democratic party bosses, defected to the Republicans to cause an electoral shift. Mark Schmitt has also documented this.

While we had two Democratic presidents during the sea-change, overall it was a time of loss and retrenchment for Democrats as the pre-New Deal Southern wing of the party abandoned it over race, and significant portions of the pre- and post-New Deal Northern working class wing have wavered in their support due to a mix of school integration, perceived weakness in national defense and thoroughly deserved disgust at Congressional corruption. One of the reasons that Bill Clinton was not able to consolidate a restructured party was because his term in office coincided with the final exit of the Dixiecrats and a wholesale house cleaning of a lot of old machine Democrats. Anybody here remember Dan Rostenkowski? Big Dog was also being rejected by his own party because he represented (as Hillary does now) a challenge to existing power structures. One of the reasons Kennedy & Co. so strongly support Obama is because he has not yet developed a full political entourage and thus another faction's network can be substituted, allowing that faction to retain control even as the leaders age and retire. We're talking politics here, not tiddlywinks.

I have written extensively about the fear of the reemergence of the South as a power center in the Democratic Party and the various strategies being deployed to try to alloy the "West" (note - there is no "West" just as there is no "South") with the Northern tier to neutralize the Democratic Southeast. (Dumb move, in my anything but humble opinion. I myself am left very uneasy by the "F*ck the South" attitude of certain party thinkers, but that is a post for another day.) One of the reasons given for celebrating Obama's ostensible strength in "the West", as demonstrated by some caucus votes (Oh, and when did California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada stop being part of the West? Just askin'...), is that he will bring the western states into the Democratic fold and thus we can safely abandon the South. In the wilder flights of fancy, you see the liberal elite hoping that the unreliable northern working class can be done away with as well, leaving just us arugula eaters. You're right, it is as incoherent as you think, but that's what we're reading.

That the clothes have no emperor is a realization that people are coming to as they understand the claim to be recruiting new kinds of voters is not holding up when tested through actual elections. The Unity Pony is not quite the fine steed we’ve been told to Hope™ for.

But the other animal in this contest is the Cash Cow, and this is something that The Precious appears to have on a leash. The money issue is fascinating, and may have as much salience as the obsession with driving the Clintons from the party. While I don’t think Obama has managed to create a substantially new voting base, he is clearly trying to control all the money. Whether or not he can do that is another question. It will depend on the outcome of the general election.

The candidate whose appeal is to the big bucks donors (and not always Democratic donors, if the attendees of his Bittergate San Francisco fundraiser is any sign) is now trying to monopolize Democratic cash flow to create the simplest and crudest of political machines, a straightforward cash-exchange patronage system. He’s done some time-honored practices like giving to large sums of money to other politicians’ campaign chests, and handing over donor lists in exchange for endorsements. The new twist (and I have to admit a certain admiration for the sheer chutzpah of it all) is to demand that his donors not provide money to any other outlet than himself so that he can be the Godfather of campaign funds, dispensing it to reward loyalty and punish defections and opposition. You do business with us and only us or else (sound of knuckles cracking). Got it? It does fit well with the bully-boy tactics we’ve seen in everything else this guy has done.

The demand that other modes of political communication and action be denied operating funds is savvy in several ways. It makes Obama the arbiter of political viability. It boosts the power of his message by reducing the number and efficacy of competing voices and alternate views. It enforces loyalty to his agenda, preventing an internal opposition from forming. In its structure, it is the same as the Republican’s K-Street project, a shake-down racket.

Hmm, maybe The Precious should have been a little more specific about exactly which Republican ideas he thought were so good.

The DNC has struck a Faustian bargain with Obama over this money. They have cast their lot fully with the Obamacans to root out the Clintons and to gain access to the cash cow. Here’s the problem with that bargain, which I’m sure is really kicking in about now. The drive to destroy a wildly popular candidate is drying up the donations that would otherwise have been coming from Clinton supporters, which will make the DNC and similar party organs increasingly reliant on the Obama ATM, which demands greater loyalty in exchange for the operating capital. The more aggressively Hillary is demonized, the fewer independent sources of funding and the more dependent the party is upon The One.

Dean has bet everything on this one horse, not just an election but the future of the party and the cohesion of the constituencies under the Democratic umbrella. As all of the contests since early March have demonstrated, money can only buy you so many votes. The rest you have to earn. If Obama gets the nomination and is defeated in the general, it is unlikely he will be able to maintain his hold on the donors, who want access to power, after all. It is unclear what condition the party would be in after such a defeat having tied its fortunes so closely to this single candidate.



Randall Kohn said...

I like the way you think, Anglachel. Or is it just the fact that you DO think?

Making sense of this Pod invasion is a herculean task. Your narrative makes as much sense as anything I've encountered thus far.

Horselover Fat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As I already commented in your previous post, my read of the process you have outlined (and I have sketched out too) is way more Machiavellian. In my view, Obama wants to use the money to be the Democratic party. He is called the One, the Precious and it started from him and not his supporters. He encourages the cult of personality because he loves and needs it.

We have seen these signs way too many times. They are called Saddam, Mugabe, Nasser, etc.

Horselover Fat said...


Thank you for the blog. You are doing wonderful work.

Do you have any idea how it is Obama has access to so much money? Where is it all coming from, and why him?

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

As I have more or less stated on a previous thread, I suspect Obama's big money is coming from the Wall Street jackals, in exchange for his covert promise to privatize Social Security, which would be the mother of all gold mines for the jackals. He has spouted right-wing talking points about SS at times.

Lakelobos states some comparisons which did not occur to me, but now that the Busheviks have perverted the Presidency into a de facto dictatorship anyway, it makes a horrid sort of sense.

Horselover Fat said...


Given who his health care people are,
Jim Cooper etc., I suspect a giveaway to the health insurance companies is a possibility, analogous to the way Medicare Part D raids the Treasury for the benefit of Big Pharma. I get Medicare Part D, and I can see little advantage from it compared to what it costs the taxpayers.

Unknown said...

Given your argument, why should Clinton supporters vote for Obama in the Fall? They would be voting against the foundations of the Democratic Party and establishing a destructive infastructure that could last for decades.

orionATL said...

anglachel -

this is superb analysis. it articulates my inchoate concerns.

overall, i think it suggests a matter that bothers me greatly, which is the instability of the traditions and institutions we have built up into a national government over 250 years.

it seems like this nation is heading more and more into a "managed" national government, by that i mean:

now that much is understood about how two-party government works, how congress works,how the electoral college counting works, how the federal judiciary works,

"insider" groups like david axelrod/obama/? and karl rove/bush/hot-tub tom/abramoff can take over the machinery of party and government

pretty much at will.

an analogy - as students who want to go to a "big name" college (and their parents) learned more and more about the admissions practices of those colleges, they began to game the system, planning way in advance of the senior year in high school, choosing their academic and extra-curricular achievements carefully.

the entire system becomes, in a sense, "closed" as more and more students/parents compete under a very well known set of rules.

{and no, i am not an upset parent. my sons graduated long ago, are married, and themselves fathers.)

where to go from here? i don't know. but i feel the specter of totalitarianism looming like night riders.

a tightly controlled party, hands firmly on the levers of government, with "national security" and resource scarcity arguments to be made,

is a recipe for authoritarian government.

the bush administration AND the republican congress AND the right-wing supreme court have done us the favor of demonstrating just how little a constitution means when a political party controls all of government.

time for a glass of tea.

gendergappers said...

Some nasty intruders are going at a lot of blogs. Perhaps constant warnings not to reply or encourage them is needed since apparently not everyone reads the comments teling them not to feed trolls.

Just a suggestion.

Shainzona said...

I've been reading a bit about the Rezko Operation Board Game kickback schemes and this all sounds vaguely familiar with what you're talking about here. Obama has the backing of a lot of very nefarious people who know all about campaign "funding" - might be nice for him, but not for anyone outside of "his circle".

orionATL said...

shainzona -

thanks for the link to countercurrents. i have been following pringle's series at rezko watch but they don't give me an easy way to printout out the entire report.

countercurrents does.

printing aside, it looks like a very interesting site

Stella said...

Frankly, this is a big reason I will not vote for Obama. I don't like the political power he has amassed, I don't trust the personality movement and I don't like that he steps into a presidency that has all that power. I really would prefer that we lose than risk the outcomes of the Obama movement in power.

orionATL said...


in the sentence

"i don't know. but i feel the specter of totalitarianism looming like night riders."

please replace the word "totalitarianism" with "authoritarian government".

the former is hyperbolic and has too many connotations that i do not intend.

pm317 said...

As usual right on the money, Anglachel. Dean and his cabal are betting everything on this one horse but they are deluding themselves to think it is a winner. In fact, Obama is also playing a risky game for himself -- it is almost certain that he will lose in November -- he does not have the right coalition and has angered too many groups for them to come back to him. He is done after this. He looks like the kind of guy who would not have it any other way. I read he plays poker but he can't always bluff and win -- it works every time but once

I am curious, what is the origin of your name? Thanks.

Anglachel said...

I am curious, what is the origin of your name?


Shainzona said...

orionATL: I confess to being confused by all of the ins and outs of the Rezko case, although overall it doesn't seem to be positive for Obama.

What is your take? Will anything significant come out of it? And, of course, will it be big enough that the MSM ultimately can't ignore it?

Shainzona said...

Anglachel = Iron of the Flaming Star.

WOW. How appropriate.

Greenconsciousness said...

I am hoping that Bill and Hill will organize the first successful 3rd party. A party for the working class. The Center Democratic Party. Let the elite academics have the left Democratic party and the corporations have the right Republican. The working class needs the Clintons and a voice that does not have contempt for us and does not sell us out to the bosses as soon as they take office.

Look at who BO's real contributers are (hint: NOT a million SMALL donors). Obama will sell us to the nuclear industry and call it green; privatize Social Security and call it saving the young. BO will sell us out and call it all progressive.

BO is a very slick politician in the oldest sense of the word. Locking up the money for one. Today he uses Kennedy's health crisis to slap Hillary by saying Kennedy has done more about health care in this country "than anyone else". Talk about snorting out your coffee through your nose.

orionATL said...

shainzona -

my take is, and i've read the first four installments:

-no one yet has a smoking money bag with barrack's name on it

- rezko's purchase of obama's house (obama would deny this) immediately following a loan from auchi is a very, very large red flag (for any body but howard dean and donna brazile)

- obama has been associated with some very sleazy operators (rezko and ali a. and auchi), some of them for a very long time.

-rezko, auchi, and ali a. seem to be involved one way or another in an huge electrical contracting scam in iraq (reconstruction money wouldn't you know)

- ali a. was the former minister of electricity in iraq during the american occupation - can you believe that!. he escaped from jail in the (american held) green zone, actually he walked out of jail to a waiting car. and then he came back to the u.s., despite the iraqi gov't insisting they had the info needed to convict. and know he lives in chicago and the federal gov't has not touched him.

why? that is the question. to me this reeks of cover-up of war-time corruption.

- there are other parts of pringle's investigation coming out. i have no idea if any of them will have anything definitive about obama and corruption.

so far, the story is that he lived in a very corrupt environment- chicago-, but managed to keep clean enough.

- the story doesn't mention this but obama has not released his 1997-99 income tax records. his campaign is very slick about refusing to publish them and the press has not been at all persistent.

- pringle does rasie the question of who paid obama's house taxes - for his mansion and a condo he owned in (?) year or whether they were paid at all.

so far, what pringle has shown is that obama lived and worked in a political cesspool


he had long time associations with fixer rezko.

at s some point i would expect the republicans to use the fact that obama has a muslim connection (thru birth) and that he was a long time acquaintance of the syrian born rezko, who was a business partner with the iraqui ali a. and the iraqui-born auchi.

what this situation requires is a very thorough chronology, some foi's, combing thru real-estate and income tax records, and a close look at some depositions.

this is my view of what has been revealed so far.

jacilyn said...

Given your argument, why should Clinton supporters vote for Obama in the Fall? They would be voting against the foundations of the Democratic Party and establishing a destructive infastructure that could last for decades.

I think a lot of Clinton supporters have already figured this out, even if a lot of Obama supporters haven't.

Hank Gillette said...

Anglachel said:

The drive to destroy a wildly popular candidate is drying up the donations that would otherwise have been coming from Clinton supporters, which will make the DNC and similar party organs increasingly reliant on the Obama ATM, which demands greater loyalty in exchange for the operating capital.

In other words, Clinton supporters demand loyalty too, or the money from them dries up. How is that the least bit different from what you are accusing Obama of?

Which campaign has called people who defected to Obama "traitors", or "Judas"? Who organized her campaign around loyalty rather than competence?

You consistently project Hillary's characteristics onto Obama and then call them fatal flaws. It's really ironic that you can talk about Obama supporters "drinking the Kool-Aid" with a straight face.

CognitiveDissonance said...

Let's don't be obtuse, Hank. There is a huge difference between demanding fairness on the one hand and out and out hijacking the party's infrastructure on the other hand. Not even close.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Who's REALLY funding the Obama ATM?

Chinaberry Turtle said...

"In other words, Clinton supporters demand loyalty too, or the money from them dries up."

No Hank, Clinton supporters demand that Obama not act like a sexist asshole towards women and a condescending prick towards working folk. He coulda had my vote if he was capable of doing those two simple things.

"How is that the least bit different from what you are accusing Obama of?"

Different in two respects: Because saying "i won't GIVE you money if you're a sexist and classist asshole" is different from "i won't allow you to participate in the party power unless you give all your political related money to me" in two important ways:

(1) In the first, the GIVERS of the money are putting conditions on their gift whereas in the second the RECIPIENT of the money is putting conditions an being able to play in the system;


(2) the condition in the Hillary supporter case is "don't be a sexist and classist asshole", whereas Obama's condition is "you must give all your love to me."

But nice try there Hank trying to muddle it all together.

And beyond all that Hank, we're just not gonna vote for your Messiah. He's gonna lose in the general election. This is a fact. You can rail against this fact while we look at you and talk among ourselves about how ineffective you are in helping your Messiah, or you can come to terms with this fact and realize you and your Messiah actually have to do stuff we like in order to get our votes.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Turtle--for a guy named "Gillette", he isn't very sharp, is he? ;)

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Well, either that Ivory or it's semi-smart if the strategy is: "well, let me go to Hillary blogs and just try to get everything all muddled up so that Hillary supporters can't clearly articulate their anger and are thereby guilted into voting for the Messiah b/c they start to think their anger is irrational."

But if that's his strategy, it won't work here. Everybody who comments on this blog knows exactly what the fuck is going on.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

I saw over on one of the semi-assimilated blogs a report of a bumper sticker that said:



orionATL said...

ivory b -

great line.

wish i'd thought of it.

Hans said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Shorter Hans: "Mmmm...Kool-Aid" ;)

orionATL said...


hans von spakovsky?

dear hans,

is that you?

how delightful that you could join us.

makana44 said...

You've quite brilliantly unveiled the source of the dis-ease I've been experiencing; and the nature of my personal dilemma. I've been an activist Democrat all my voting life (since 1968). If I vote for McCain I'm voting for 'four more years' and a nasty Supreme Court. If I vote for Obama (and he wins) I will lose ‘my’ party to a force that I don't like, trust, or belong with. And so, in fact, does the entire middle class - which will have no place to turn.

I reject this whole ‘creative class’ thing. Ain’t no one been more creative than I’ve been my whole life, and still am. They and their children are playing the video games that I created. And now they’re being as creative as a herd of sheep being shaved, placid and bleeping all the way.

I read an article (in an Australian newspaper of all places) that shed so much light on “The illusion that is Barack Obama.” It is fascinating, deep, and disturbing. It is what the NY Times “investigative report” last week should have been. Read it and weep if that is the future of our party and the next leader of our republic. Here’s the URL:

Look out, it’s a Bush in Democratic clothing.

BTW – Thank you so much Anglachel. You have been a sword of truth.

SezU said...

Fred Siegel's piece in The Australian that makana44 references is a must read. Here's a line I loved from his conclusion:
"Obama has, in a sense, represented a new version of the invisible man, a candidate whose colour obscures his failings."

Hans said...

Wow brilliant source there Makana44! did you ever bother to check out who owned The Australian? Didn't think so...

5th Paragraph, Start of Business Career In 1964, [Rupert] Murdoch launched The Australian, Australia's first national daily newspaper...intended to give Murdoch a new respectability as a 'quality' newspaper publisher and greater political influence....the paper actually veered between tabloid sensationalism and intellectual tedium."

Do I really need to go into who Rupert Murdock is? Ok, seeing the brain capacity is not too great here, he is the Owner of News Corp, which is the Owner of Fox Noise Channel, which brings you such greats as Hannity, O'Reilly & Snow.

even a three year old knows Murdock is from Australia

Hans said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
makana44 said...

Wow, Herr Hans….that must have hit a nerve. A little too close for comfort? Had a few of your illusions come crumbling down?

I suppose you get all your news from Jack Welch? And you trust all that, right? Or Punch Sulzberger? And you trust all that, right? I guess everything written in the Wall Street Journal these days is all lies, too? Right?

The American press in general, as we are all aware, is on the take. So (as with the run-up to the Iraq War) one must often reach beyond our borders for information.

Regardless of publisher, I do know that Fred Siegel knows his stuff. He obviously isn’t a Barry fan, or he wouldn’t have revealed all that he did. But he’s a history Professor at Cooper Union in NYC. And I’ve read his stuff in the Commonwealth and Atlantic Monthly (home of Obama fanboys Andy Sullivan and Big Media Matt Yglesias). And Prof. Siegel is a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, which while it could be deemed a Clinton-leaning think tank, isn’t exactly the source of tabloid fare.

If you can refute the evidence in the article then, by all means, do so. But don’t tell me it’s not fact because it was published in one of Rupert Murdoch’s 7 zillion newspapers. Larry Johnson’s been saying the exact same thing for months; just not as elegantly and authoritatively.

And please lay off the bold, will ya? Anglachel’s is a place with some class. If you got a point to make, no need to scream…just say it.

And BTW – Hillary’s got $21 million sitting in an account set aside for the general. Barry boy has $7 million. Ain’t it just like a woman to be thinkin’ ahead.

TLE said...

Can someone here tell me the origin of the term "creative class," and who it is meant to describe? When I first started coming across the phrase, I thought it applied to artists, writers, musicians and actors; but I find it difficult to believe that these people would form a large enough (and cohesive enough) group to be labeled as a political class unto themselves, and the majority of them already belong to an established economic class: the poor.

From the usage, it appears that the term is applied to that group of degreed wage slaves whose job descriptions are so vague that you can never remember what it was they told you they do for a living, but you know it involves attending a lot of meetings and sitting in front of a computer screen the rest of the time. However, there is certainly nothing creative about that, so I must be wrong.

I would appreciate any insight. I think I can get a good answer here, as the majority of the posters seem to be thoughtful and knowledgeable (with the obvious exception of the Unity Pony True Believers wandering amongst the filthy heathens, exhorting us the see the Light of the Precious before it is too late).

I have been reading here for several months, and really appreciate Anglachel's intelligence, insight and coherence.

Anglachel said...

Hans' comments have been deleted for blog whoring and general offensiveness. Anything he posts from here on out will be deleted when I see it, so regulars please don't respond to him.


Anonymous said...

TLE, the term was popularized by Richard Florida. I'm not sure if he coined it.

(Anglachel, please don't delete this. I'm just trying to be helpful.)

Anglachel said...

missplcd - allowed. Thank you for the link.


CMike said...

missplsd's Richard Florida link seems to dead end. I assume it was to somewhere like this.

Florida, an academic whose field is regional economic development, explains the rise of a new social class that he labels the creative class. Members include scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists, and entertainers. He defines this class as those whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content. In general this group shares common characteristics, such as creativity, individuality, diversity, and merit. The author estimates that this group has 38 million members, constitutes more than 30 percent of the U.S. workforce, and profoundly influences work and lifestyle issues.

The purpose of this book is to examine how and why we value creativity more highly than ever and cultivate it more intensely. He concludes that it is time for the creative class to grow up--boomers and Xers, liberals and conservatives, urbanites and suburbanites--and evolve from an amorphous group of self-directed while high-achieving individuals into a responsible, more cohesive group interested in the common good.


Subsequently, he has been milking the cow with The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent and Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life.

Perhaps missplsd linked here.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I must have messed up the coding. I had actually intended to link to his biography at the consulting group he runs:

Florida's work has been widely criticized in urban planning circles for its intersection with neoliberal models of governance.

Anglachel, thank you for your grace. :)

Greenconsciousness said...

I am not afraid of H or speech and here is just one source = there is a lot more where this came from I can bring back other links to orgs that follow campaign financing.

Funded by a million small donors: April Fools
Taken from the comment section of the Guardian.

"Obama's presidential campaign has received nearly $5 million dollars from securities and investment firms and $866,000 from commercial banks through October of 2007.

Obama's top contributor so far is Goldman Sachs (provider of $369,078 to Obama), identified by Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) investigators as "a major proponent of privatizing Social Security as well as legislation that would essentially deregulate the investment banking/securities industry."

Eight of Obama's top twenty election investors are securities and investment firms:
Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros. (number 2 at $229,090), J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. (# 4 at $216,759), Citadel Investment Group (#7 at 4166,608), UBS AG ($146,150), UBS-America ($106,680), Morgan Stanley ($104,421), and Credit Suisse Group ($92,300). The last two firms are also known to be leading privatization advocates (Center for Responsive Politics 2007a).

Meanwhile, Obama's presidential run has been "assisted" by more than $2 million from the health care sector and nearly $400,000 from the insurance industry through October of 2007 (Center for Responsive Politics 2007b).

Obama received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006 (Center for Responsive Politics 2007c).

His wife Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law graduate, was until a recently a Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid her $273, 618 in 2006 (Sweet 2007).

And Obama's sixth largest contributor is Exelon, the proud Chicago-based owner and operator of more nuclear power plants than any entity on earth (Center for Responsive Politics 2007a).
Go figure.

As for his "lobbyist ban," last August the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama "raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation's capital."

Campaign finance expert Stephen Weissman observed that this raised troubling questions about the practical relevance of Obama's much-ballyhooed pledge to turn down donations from "federal lobbyists."

"Obama's rise to national prominence and presidential viability, Helman discovered, depended significantly on PAC and lobbyist money."

And we have not even mentioned Soros and the other billionaires supporting him. We have not mentioned the media, owned in significant Shares by Saudi princes."

Anonymous said...

If you are concerned about where the money is coming from, the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets website (cited by the Guardian commentator in greenconsciousness's post) is a great resource.

In particular, with respect to the size of donations:

TLE said...

Thank you for the information about the origin amd meaning of "creative class."

Greenconsciousness said...

For a good post on the creative class go here

Donna Darko was the first to speak about BO's big donors here;

and she said after she posted:
"When I posted the top 20 contributors to Obama, 17/20 of which are financial and insurance institutions, these institutions all the way from NY, Johannesburg, Geneva, London and NY were frantically on my blog for three days even though it's public information ( They want to privatize social security."

Greenconsciousness said...

what a pain these comment boxes are: