Monday, December 9, 2013

Obama's friends on the west coast hand over some cash.

The 1% can't lose when they have both candidates
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Barack Obama was out here on the West Coast in November spending time with supporters. Oh, you thought I meant you?  No, no, you have to get up every morning and go work for a wage. I’m talking about the folks he represents as President of the US; Microsoft executives and other Wall Street characters.  You just vote for him and his party, that’s the choice we have in the electoral arena here, we get to vote for one of Wall Street’s candidates every four years. 

Obama stopped off at Jon Shirley’s “mansion” in Seattle. Shirley is a former president of Microsoft and likes to collect Ferraris and fine art which adorns his 27,000-foot home. We all have friends like that don’t we. Obama was there in 2011 as Shirley hosted a $35,800-a-couple fundraiser.  This November’s bash was a little less extravagant as individuals paid $16,200 each to hang out with the president who brought another multi-millionaire Nancy Pelosi along as well as the Washington state’s governor, Jay Inslee.

Along with the visit Jon Shirley, Obama stopped by another tech mogul, Tom Campion, where 30 people paid up to $32,400 each to attend according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Needless to say, the media did not report a visit to Kashma Sawant’s headquarters in Seattle.  Sawant, an open socialist, was elected to the Seattle City Council in November. Not very comradely really for a “socialist” president

Obama fit seven such dinners in to a three-day period visiting Seattle, San Francisco and LA. In San Francisco 30 millionaires/billionaires dropped by Mac Benioff’s home for a snack but figures were not given for that bash.  Benioff is worth $2.6 billion according to Forbes.  I don’t think he lives in the Mission.  As is usually the case, the working class, the folks that vote to put these people in office, aren’t privy to what they discuss as the events are off limits to reporters in most cases. Sometimes reporters can be present during the President’s remarks which are scripted remarks safe for us to hear, but are then removed from the room before the discussions between the parties take place as was the case at Benioff’s.

Obama then headed down to Beverley Hills and Magic Johnson’s pad for a $15,000 apiece mingling, inside the house that is, an outside seat cost $2500. Obama finished it all off with a visit to Israeli American Haim Saban’s home where another 120 donors forked over cash to ensure Palestinians are kept in their place and finished with a $32,000 a plate breakfast at “friends” producer Marta Kauffman’s place with Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson at his side.

The visit was productive as Obama raked in $6.5 million.  Obama’s had a bit of a sticky run of it lately and these fundraisers are more about ensuring Democratic Party successes in 2014 as Obama’s term ends. (I wonder if Hilary or perhaps Elizabeth Warren will be such enthusiastic drone warriors). 

We often hear how “corrupt” our political system and politicians are.  Politics and politicians are hated here; in fact, politics is a dirty word.  There’s so much disgust at it all that in the last national election, close to 140 million eligible to vote chose not to. But this is OK with the capitalist class that has a monopoly politically. Where are we to go? There are never major appeals and attempts to draw these people in to the process primarily because their abstention is not driven by apathy or because they don’t care or are happy with things.  They have drawn the correct conclusion that no matter which party they vote for, on the essentials, there’s not much difference between the choices.; they've given up.  They are disgusted for the right reasons so they are not useful. It doesn’t take rocket science to know that Obama’s friends have nothing in common with working folks, black white or otherwise.  The people he hung out with in November have nothing in common with the vast majority of us.  They do no productive work and have accumulated their wealth on the backs of workers in America and the super exploitation of workers throughout the former colonial world.
It’s no so much that their representatives like Obama and the others are “corrupt”; their whole system is corrupt. Their political representatives are simply doing their job, safeguarding the economic and political interests of their class; this naturally means policies favoring the likes of the billionaires Obama was visiting in November.

We are not naïve enough to think that someone paying $30,000 for a breakfast with a politician is not buying something other than ham and eggs.

As a socialist I do not believe that this rotten system can be voted out of existence. Its adherents are absolutely ruthless characters, we just have to look around us to see that; the homelessness and poverty here, the savagery inflicted on other workers abroad all in the struggle for profits sand maintaining the luxurious life of folks like the Ferrari collector in Washington State.

This does not mean we should not engage in a political struggle with the 1%.  We can’t do that as an adjunct to one of their two parties, as beggars at their political table.  An independent working class political alternative is a necessary and inevitable formation along the road to changing how we do things, to building a genuine democratic socialist economy and society.  The election of Kshama Sawant in Seattle and the great result for Ty Moore in Minneapolis is a reflection of the growing discontent with the two capitalist parties.

The Boeing workers in Washington State where Jon Shirley lives are in an important battle with the company. They are trying to keep their standard of living while the coupon clippers that own Boeing want to drive their wages and conditions lower in order to reap more profits. They are threatening to move to a more fruitful locale with lower wages and unions if the Washington State workers don’t buckle under.  Obama has said nothing about this economic terrorism; he wouldn’t be at a former Microsoft execs house getting money if he did. 

Kshama Sawant on the other hand has called on the Boeing workers to take over the factory and run it themselves.

And she didn’t need a $30,000 bribe to offer that advice.

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