Monday, January 11, 2021

Corporate Crocodile Tears

A lot of corporations are crying crocodile tears this week.

The blowback from the ill-conceived coup attempt is continuing.  Trump has been banned from a number of online networks including Facebook, Twitter, and Pornhub.   Melania can no longer shop on Wayfair.   People have been fired from their jobs for participating in the riots.  Even policemen, firemen, and state lawmakers are under investigation or have resigned in disgrace.   Mainstream Republicans are elbowing each other out of the way to escape the dirty halo that is Trump, each announcing that they were the ones to first turn against him.

It is, in a way, like the Nazi regime.  Yes, they basically destroyed Germany, but in the interim, there was a lot of money to be made - by the Krupps works as well as party leaders who plundered the economy - and the bank accounts of exterminated Jews.   Why stop a good thing, just because it is headed off a cliff?

But the day of reckoning has come - or has it?  Maybe this is a transitional thing and in a week or two we'll be back to Trump rage-tweeting and the news media obediently letting him dictate what the main topic of the next news cycle will be.  Perhaps.

All these politicians didn't get into office without a lot of money behind them.  The millionaires behind Senator Josh are now regretting their decision to throw millions behind his campaign - "the worst decision I ever made!" one laments.   Yes, a bad decision, because Senator Josh will be sidelined for at least two years as the least-effective member of Congress (moving Cruz up to second-least).    What's the point of funding a politician who wields no power?

Others are following suit.  Major corporations and corporate lobbying groups, as well as investment firms, have all "suspended" their political donations.   Suspended, but not cut off forever, of course.  The very folks who paid for this shitstorm are now claiming to have a conscience.   The spectacle of the riots at the Capitol tugged at their heartstrings - or will, at least, for a week or so, or whatever the consensus is as to how long we need to send "thoughts and prayers" this time around.  I mean, it's not like a school shooting or something, right?  That would be about three weeks.  Two weeks should be sufficient, here.

As I noted before in "Hell, I Don't Know Any Demmy-Crats!" only the little people - schmucks like you and  me - donate money to political campaigns because we fervently believe in the policies and positions of the candidates.   That sort of shit is window-dressing to get us to vote.  The real money donates - and donates heavily - to the side they think will win the election, and positions and politics be damned.  And in many cases, these corporate entities donate to both sides so as to hedge their bets.

And the reason for this is simple: When you commit a million dollars or more to a PAC that places attack ads - and helps Senator Klaghorn get elected - the Senator will take your calls when you dial the Capitol.   Even the President may kow-tow to you, or at least grant you an audience.  And this helps, for example, if you are a telco and want the "Telecommunications Fairness Act of 1997" enacted (or some such dreck) which, despite its friendly-sounding title, allows the telco to screw its customers ruthlessly and also puts its major competitor out of business.

Ayn Rand was wrong about most everything, but in Atlas Shrugged, she did get that part right - depicting politicians picking winners and losers in the marketplace - often based on who contributed the most to their campaign.  But let me be clear, she was wrong about everything else.  I mean, the whole fucking book makes no sense.  Capitalists go on strike and move to the mountains and form a hippie commune? Yea, like that would happen.  It explains, though, the muddled thinking of these alt-right nutjobs and libertarians, who want to be freed from government oppression, but also want "guaranteed annual income" or whatever.

Big business made two major miscalculations in the last five years.  First, in 2016, polls showed Hillary leading Trump - which she did, in the popular vote.  So Hillary went after the big-money corporate donors and they showered her with cash.  But that backfired, as the perception that she was beholden to large-money donors is exactly what turned off many folks, particularly on the far left, as well as the populists.

So, over the next four years, finding themselves shut out, they had a Ted Cruz road-to-Damascus change of heart and decided Trump was a good deal, or at least something they would have to live with.  So they poured money into his re-election efforts, and that of right-wing candidates like Senator Josh, never dreaming that they would lose the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.   Well, hey, there's always the Courts!  And thank God for the Supreme Court which ruled that Political Action Committees are people too, and have a "constitutional right" to flood the airwaves with wall-to-wall attack ads, even if they are espousing lies and using deep-fake videos.  I mean, people will figure that out, right?

So now, here we are in 2021.  And January 6th isn't notable as the day of the Capitol Hill riots, it is the day the Republicans lost the Senate.   As a result, the big-money donors have to pivot and pivot fast.   They are falling all over themselves to denounce violence, Trumpism, and Trump.   Maybe this is a good thing, but then again, maybe not.  Because when it comes down to it, I think in a few weeks or months at most, these same companies and organizations will quietly start contributing to the campaigns of right-wing Republicans for the 2022 elections.   If they calculate that a Trumpist primary candidate has a good shot of unseating a "traditional" GOP candidate, well, they will fund that alt-right nightmare. Politics matter less than winning.

Think about it for a second.  In January of 2021, what is the real damage to a big corporation or Wall Street investment house in "suspending" their political contributions?   I mean, no one is running for office right now, anyway.   Most politicians' political campaigns are in hibernation - well, except Trump's, which is a perpetual fundraiser for him.   So Goldman Sachs et al. can "suspend" their political donations and it sounds really swell, but means absolutely nothing, whatsoever.

But hey, the big bank that has all my 401(k) money really has my best interests at heart.  They care about democracy and the little guy - they really do!  Enough to "suspend" political donations for an unspecified period of time.  For a brief time, they will not use my money to lobby politicians to enact laws in their favor.  Gosh, our Benevolent Billionaires really care!

Let's be clear about this, though, Democrats are no better and I have no illusions about either party. The problem for the Democratic party has been their "political" message has been so muddled that it isn't clear who their constituency is - labor? the poor? LGBT? middle class?  What?  Or is it the same real constituency as the GOP - the big money that keeps them in power.  Sure, they will throw us a bone on political issues now and again, but their real interests lie elsewhere.  Look how quickly Democrats fell in line for a budget-busting defense bill.

I mentioned the courts before - the "conservative" Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage before the Democrats in the House could do so.  Marijuana was legalized in many States only because of a public referendum.  We like to think it is our politicians who are leading the way, but it seems that ducking under their desk isn't just something they do when a riot occurs. Cowardice runs rampant among politicians.

But as I noted before, when it comes down to it, if the choice is between a Republican who wants to throw a punch in my face, and a Democrat who wants to throw a free school lunch in my face, I'll take the latter, even if the free school lunch is prepared by a big corporation who donated to the Democrats.  I have to go with the guy who isn't going to cancel Social Security or revoke my health insurance plan, even if it means they give away money to folks and raise taxes on the rich.  I can live with that trade-off.

Politics is often - perhaps always - about choosing the lesser evil.

IN OTHER NEWS: Melania Trump issued a "statement" that sounds suspiciously like it was written by Donald.  Is this his way around the Twitter ban?   After making the perfunctory "thoughts and prayers yadda yadda" that Republicans love to make, she pivots the whole thing into a Donald-like grievance rant.

You may not realize this, but the real victim of the January 6th riots wasn't the officers who died, or Democracy itself, but Melania Trump.   People said mean things about her on the Internet!   We should all pause for a moment of silence for this brave. brave lady!

Make me puke, Melania, and not just because of your botched facelifts.  I mean, sheesh!  People died.  Rioters smeared feces in the halls of the Capitol.  But the big issue in your mind is how this affects you?

Narcissism much?