Tag Archives: election

An Exclusive Interview with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller III.

As President Trump pumps out Tweet after shameless, petty Tweet and his TV lawyer Ruby Giuliani lies outrageously on any show that will give him a microphone – the American body politic is left to wonder, “What would Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller say?”

In recent weeks, Trump and his mob have launched a campaign to discredit Mueller and his investigation – but standing placidly amid the faux outrage and bombast, the man fixed in the dead center of Trump’s target has remained silent. Owing to his sense of duty, propriety and professionalism – the veteran U.S. Marine officer and former FBI Director Robert Mueller III has kept quiet.

Until now.

Unknown-6I was stunned when my iPhone buzzed this morning at 7:00 AM ET. I was expecting a call from my pool maintenance guy to say what time he was coming over to fix the light bulb in my hot tub – so imagine my surprise when it was the Special Prosecutor himself!

Mr. Mueller explained that he enjoyed my recent blog post on a hike my wife and I made in Yellowstone National Park  – and that he needed to let off some steam without winding up on the front page of The New York Times. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a compliment when he told me that he was certain nothing I wrote on my blog was going to make headlines anywhere.

Unknown-3Mueller didn’t have much time to chat. He, Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray had to leave shortly for a breakfast meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Of course, Mueller told me, they can’t really talk about anything with Sessions because (A) he’s recused himself from the Trump investigation, (B) he’s likely to leak info to Trump and (C) they suspect he’s angry because he’s lost his magic powers and can’t remember where he buried his pot of gold. You can’t trust a bitter ex-leprechaun.

Unknown-4In the short time we talked, Mueller got a number of things off his chest.

He said I could ask him anything I wanted.

What follows is a transcript of our phone call.

ME: You’re getting a lot of pressure to wrap up your investigation…

MUELLER: Hold on, what do you mean by pressure?

ME: You know. Giuliani and the President are waging a campaign to discredit you…

MUELLER: (Laughs) Oh, that? You call that pressure? I’ll tell you what pressure is – and Donny Bone Spurs has no clue – but pressure is trying to keep a squad of young soldiers alive when you’re waist deep in a muddy rice paddy taking incoming fire from an enemy you can’t see. That’s pressure. This is no deadly jungle firefight. I can see Trump and his impotent bullies coming a mile away. Nothing they say affects me.

ME: But it does seem to affect public opinion.

MUELLER: That’s not my concern. I’m not hosting a popularity contest – I’m running a criminal investigation. Facts matter to me. I don’t give a rat’s ass for anyone’s opinion. And certainly not a flack like Sean Hannity or a soulless, Mephistophelean mouthpiece like Kellyanne Conway. Funny. Her husband actually sounds like an intelligent guy. That’s a real odd couple there.

ME: But what do you say to those who complain that your investigation has gone on too long and has spent too many taxpayer dollars?

MUELLER: You mean what do I say to my fellow Republicans who say that?

ME: Oh, that’s right, you are a Republican.

MUELLER: Have been all my life. So are Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray. We’re rock-ribbed members of the Grand Old Party. Accent on “Old”.

ME: So, are your fellow Republicans correct? Is it time to wrap this thing up?

MUELLER: First of all, not every Republican wants to end this investigation. There are still quite a few in Congress who want to see it play out and justice be done.

And between you and me — many of my fellow Republicans won’t say it publically, but they’d love to have me indict Trump and his whole White House mafia so I’ll rid them of the disaster they helped to create.

Secondly, let’s dispense with this bullshit about how long my investigation is taking. Does anyone remember Whitewater? That took more than 5 years. Never heard any GOP flacks complain about that. Benghazi? Please. That shit show ran longer than the Watergate probe. And those idiots in the House Freedom Caucus still want to investigate Benghazi some more! And how about “Uranium One?” It’s madness! Those ginned-up, penny-ante cases are nothing compared to my investigation. We’re trying to get to the bottom of how a hostile foreign power managed to meddle in an American Presidential election.

ME: I see, but…

MUELLER: I mean, Putin and agents of the Russian government fucked with our most scared democratic process! They even tried to hack into our voting systems. That should set my fellow Republicans’ hair on fire. And when I get done, they’ll want to set Trump’s hair on fire, too. What a blaze that’ll be! Not since I saw napalm in Vietnam…

ME: But Trump and Giuliani are certain you haven’t found any evidence of collusion.

MUELLER: Collusion? I don’t give a fig about collusion. I’m running down a conspiracy: a criminal conspiracy. And it’s a big case.

It’s like a vast all-you-can-eat buffet. There’s so much perjury, malfeasance, chicanery, money laundering, petty grifting, influence peddling, and conspiracy to defraud the American electorate that you simply can’t pile it all on your plate. You can’t digest it all in one meal. If I tried to ingest this immense, illegal feast all at once – I’d explode like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

ME: What about Trump and his allies calling for an investigation of the origin of your investigation?

MUELLER: I could care less. This probe started long before I took charge of it. It began because our brilliant and patriotic intelligence community learned that folks working on the Trump campaign had all sorts of sordid contacts with Russian oligarchs, the Russian government, Wikileaks and, possibly, Putin himself.

ME: Putin?

MUELLER: Trump’s mysterious man crush.

ME: Okay. Trump’s relationship to Putin is notably homoerotic – but let’s stay on point…

MUELLER: And your point is…?

ME: Are you going to indict President Trump for conspiracy with the Russians to manipulate the vote in the 2016 elections?

MUELLER: Certainly. Eventually. And a whole lot of other things, including that crazy sale of his Florida mansion to some Russian for a half-million more than it was worth.

ME: Well, when?

MUELLER: Look. Here’s the thing. Because of what Comey did during the last Presidential election, I have to be careful. I can’t make any kind of public statement that might affect the mid-term elections.

ME: You can’t?

MUELLER: No. Think about it. If before this year’s critical midterms, I laid out the litany of crimes that I intended to charge Trump and his mendacious mob with — there wouldn’t be a Republican elected dogcatcher outside of Wyoming and the Dakotas.

ME: Would that be so bad?

MUELLER: That’s not my call. I’m not about politics. I’m not about public opinion. I’m all about the law.

ME: Is there any way you can tell us more about what you already know? Must we rely on Michael Avenatti to keep us informed?

MUELLER: I love Avenatti! I wish I could be like Mike!

ME: Really?

MUELLER: Of course! Mike’s a bull in the china shop. I can’t behave that way. But without giving away the whole game, I’m sure he and I will end up in the same place.

ME: Are you saying that President Trump and his minions are guilty?

MUELLER: Guilty of what?

ME: Of criminal conspiracy and everything else!

imagesMUELLER: I can’t reveal that information. It’s classified. Let’s just say that Trump and his lying legions will ultimately be connected to a Russian conspiracy to screw with the 2016 Presidential election.

ME: Wow!

MUELLER: And to make money and effect policy during – and after — the campaign.

ME: That should be revolutionary!

MUELLER: It should be. But it may not be.

ME: Why not?

images-2MUELLER: Because the end of this legal drama is up to the American people. I may or may not be able to indict Trump (there’s this whole Presidential thing) – but even if the Supreme Court says I can’t indict Trump – the Congress can impeach him. This government is yours. You can let your representative know that Trump should be impeached,

Donald Trump is a cheap criminal. And I’ve got the goods on him — in spades. I can’t wait to bring the hammer down on this un-Presidential prick.

ME: You don’t sound very objective…

MUELLER: I’m completely objective.

ME: So, do we American lovers of democracy have anything to fear in the near future?

MUELLER: A low turnout in the midterms.

ME: Why so?

MUELLER: Because, you liberal morons, if you don’t elect a Democratic majority in the House, they’ll never impeach Trump — let alone convict him in the Senate.

ME: Oh….

MUELLER: Sorry, I’ve gotta go. Jeff wants to push our breakfast meeting by a half hour (he’s texting Trump) – and move it from Denny’s Diner to the nearest Waffle House.

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Filed under Comedy, History, Politics, Random Commentary, Uncategorized

Time To Step Down, Mike Pence.

A vendor flies the confederate flag prior to a Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump rally in Pittsburgh, June 11, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk - RTX2FOT5

trump-warns-election-may-be-rigged

It’s actually long past time for beleaguered GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence to repudiate his great orange running mate’s toxic campaign.

trump-pence-03But now that Donald Trump sees the writing on the wall (and the polls), his destructive attack on the integrity of the American election process itself leaves his Veep pick with no other way to save his dignity, credibility and reputation than to jettison the flame-throwing narcissistic demagogue at the top of the ticket.

For the good of our democracy, Pence must dump Trump.

Now.

donald-trump-victim__optMike Pence says he’s a follower of Jesus Christ. What is there in the four Gospels that give any indication that the Prince of Peace would approve of Donald J. Trump? Not a thing. Re-read the Sermon on the Mount – especially the Beatitudes. Nowhere does Jesus say, “Blessed are the whining sore losers, for theirs is the right to torch the landscape in their wake.”

nov-9-lat-concedes-if-300In 1960, when Richard Nixon lost by the thinnest of whiskers to John F. Kennedy, even the man who would become infamous for campaign “dirty tricks” and Watergate respected the vote of the American people, despite unproven claims of election fraud in Illinois and West Virginia.

In 2000, when Al Gore lost by a few hanging Florida chads (and one dubious Supreme Court decision) to George W. Bush, Gore went before the cameras after the Florida recount was halted to put the nation first and acknowledge the legitimacy of his defeat.

maxresdefaultAnd now comes Donald Trump. He’s not even waiting for his eventual (and much deserved) defeat to cast doubt on the fairness of our American democracy.

Trump incites his angry followers to show up at the polls to watch out for the mass voter fraud he assures them will take place. Especially in those “inner cities” filled with, well, you know, those people…

And then there’s all those illegal immigrants Trump claims are pouring across our border to vote for Hillary. Because, of course, tens of thousands of desperate Central Americans are surely lining up to risk their lives and fortunes on a dangerous and expensive U.S. border crossing so they can put Hillary in the White House. (If you believe that, I have a bankrupt casino I’d like to sell you.)

16-trump-rally-w710-h473-2xTrump indicts the dishonest media for its part in rigging the election against him. Really? Is that what FOX, CNN and MSNBC were doing for a solid year when they covered just about every one of his rallies from start to finish? When they would put Hillary or Bernie Sanders in a little box in the corner of the frame while The Donald held court full screen? The truth is that the cable news networks were major enablers of Trump’s candidacy.

Yet even though all of Trump’s talk of a rigged election is absolute crap – millions of his followers believe him.

ct-trump-pence-huppke-20160715And that’s why Mike Pence – who surely knows better – must take a stand by standing down.

If Mike Pence doesn’t repudiate Trump’s claims of a rigged election in the strongest terms — and quit the Trump ticket now — he will have forfeited his credibility as a future candidate in our American democracy.

Trump is calling for torches and pitchforks, Governor Pence.

What would Jesus do?

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Filed under History, Politics, Truth

Mr. Crawford Goes to Washington

Our favorite artist, the brilliant Ron Crawford, went to the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” in Washington DC this past Saturday, November 30th and captured his impression of the crowd of over over two hundred thousand folks. (Which dwarfed the crowd at Glenn Beck’s rally.)

If you look closely, I think Ron has actually drawn every one of the quarter of a million progressive sanity enthusiasts at the rally, hosted by The Daily Show host John Stewart and Stephen Colbert (yet another funny Northwestern University alumnus.)

Click on Ron’s drawing to enlarge it. You don’t want to miss all those Rondraw details!

And because Ron couldn’t draw ALL the inspired signs, placards and banners he saw, Gardner Loulan sent me this link to the 100 Best Rally for Sanity Signs.

Enjoy, folks! And don’t forget to vote tomorrow. Early and often.

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Filed under Art, Politics

Mid-Term Madness: The Top Ten

With the continuing misadventures of the Tea Party candidates, Election Season 2010 has, despite the efforts of Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, entered the realm of Beyond Satire.

Radical policy positions that would have seemed extreme in any other election year – such as abolishing the Department of Education, ending Social Security, and requiring victims of rape and incest to give birth to their attackers’ progeny – are no longer confined to the far right wing of GOP politics. Given the Tea Party’s success in GOP primaries, it appears that anti-government dogma, anti-immigrant hysteria and Taliban-like anti-female and anti-gay social conservatism may become central planks in the mainstream Republican Party platform in 2012.

Of course, there’s also an undercurrent of creeping fascism — which is really creepy — but let’s stick with the outright crazy stuff for the moment. After all, even the more sane, sophisticated and relatively humorless right wing ideologues and corporate robber barons have to be stunned by the pageant of unskilled, unfettered, uneducated and unhinged campaigning on display in the run up to November 2, 2010.

In many states across the country, political aspirants with scant experience in public service who would have been considered fringe candidates in the past (if not the lunatic fringe) are now making national headlines on the campaign trail, in debates, and on the Sunday talk shows.

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.

Here, then, are some of the biggest jokes of the 2010 election. There have been so many wacky (actually quite scary) moments involving today’s kooky crop of candidates that it’s time to round up Mid-Term Madness: The Top Ten.

1. Aqua Buddha

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, a Republican darling of the Tea Party movement, had already raised eyebrows with many of his extreme anti-government positions, borne of his passion for novelist Ayn Rand’s everybody-for-themselves Objectivist philosophy. But if wanting to do away with public schools and Social Security didn’t brand Rand Paul a fringe candidate, what would Kentuckians make of accusations that, when he was in college, Rand Paul tied a woman up and forced her to bow down before the “Aqua Buddha”? (Which sounds, to me, a lot like some sort of exotic bong.)

The candidate’s still-anonymous accuser said he “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.”

She added that the whole thing was so “weird” that she ended relations with Paul and his friends. But will Kentucky voters end their weird relationship with Rand Paul? In 2010, who can say?

2. “I’m Not A Witch”

Christine O’Donnell, Delaware’s Republican nominee and Sarah Palin’s endorsed Tea Party candidate for Joe Biden’s Senate seat, spent a lot of the 1990’s as a chirpy, sexy, conservative talking head on TV shows like Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect. As a result, Mr. Maher had a lot of video clips with which to torture O’Donnell’s candidacy, including her prudish crusade against masturbation and her startling admission that she “dabbled in witchcraft” while in high school.

The facts that O’Donnell has no real qualifications for high office, has lied about her education bona fides (no, she didn’t attend Cambridge) and can’t recall a single Supreme Court decision haven’t dampened her Tea Party support – but the witchcraft thing pricked the deaf ears of even the lowest-information Delaware voters.

As a result, O’Donnell had to spend good money on a statewide television ad to declare, “I’m not a witch.” (President Nixon must have been chuckling in his grave.) But the craziest part of the ad is when O’Donnell says, “I am you.”  Oh really, Christine? I don’t think so.

3. The SS Candidate

How to win friends and influence people?

Well, for one thing, don’t go around proudly dressed as in a Nazi uniform.

That’s what Republican Congressional nominee Rich Iott, whose district lies in my home state of Ohio, should have known. But, then again, parading around as a Nazi is such a good time, right?

Mr. Iott is a military history and reenactment buff who likes to parade around in a German Waffen SS uniform. (That’s Rich Iott dressed in Nazi drag in the picture at left. He’s the guy second from right. Far right, that is.) Candidate Iott also likes to participate in Nazi re-enactments. So, what’s wrong with that?

After all, Iott says his interest in Nazi Germany is historical and he doesn’t subscribe to Nazism – and some on the right wing have defended him, arguing that Iott also attends Civil War re-enactments in a Union army uniform.

The problem is that the Waffen SS were a particularly evil bunch of murderous rat bastards.

Unlike the conscripted citizen soldiers of the regular German Army (or Wehrmacht), the Waffen SS were a volunteer arm of the Nazi Party that enthusiastically committed countless war crimes and atrocities, including their prominent role in the slaughter of Jews and other “undesirables.” That should make Rich Iott undesirable as a Congressman from my home state. But will it?

Above is a photo of Rich in his jaunty Nazi cap, third from the right (wing).

4. Mr. Green (Does Not) Go To Washington

No state can outdo South Carolina for crazy. But what happened in the 2010 Democratic primary was absolutely nuts. Somehow, an unemployed 32-year-old Army veteran named Alvin Greene with no campaign funds, no posters and no website defeated a well-funded former judge and state legislator, Vic Rawl, for the right to oppose the incumbent GOP Senator Jim DeMint, another Tea Party darling. The mainstream media ignored the possibility of electronic vote tampering and dirty tricks leading to Greene’s election – but they couldn’t ignore how spectacularly unsuited and unprepared Greene was to campaign for, much less hold, a high office.

And if it wasn’t strange enough that a guy with no political experience, unemployed for nine months, somehow paid a $10,400 filing fee and all his other campaign expenses from his own personal funds – the sad, self-defeating saga of Alvin Greene got more bizarre when a Richland County grand jury indicted him for disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity (a felony) as well as a misdemeanor charge of communicating obscene materials to a person without consent.

According to prosecutors, Greene approached a female student in a University of South Carolina computer lab, showed her some obscene photos online, then talked about going to her dorm room. When a reporter from a local TV station pressed Greene to elaborate on the indictment, the accidental candidate told the reporter to “leave [his] property” and “go away.” Unlike Jim DeMint, I wish this whole sorry example of political dysfunction (and dog whistle race baiting) would go away.

5. Headless Bodies in the Arizona Desert

Batty, blustering Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s erratic reelection campaign has earned her two spots on this list. Brewer’s relentless demagoguery on the immigration issue and her support for Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (the “show me your papers” law) have made her a darling of the right in that troubled border state, despite the fact that she’s several bricks shy of a load. In fact, in her zeal to portray the threat from illegal immigration in as dire a light as possible, Brewer finally lost her head.

As Dana Milbank wrote in the July 11th edition of The Washington Post, “The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. ‘Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded.’” She also mentioned “beheadings” on Fox News. (One can only imagine the cutting, incisive follow up questions from her Fox interlocutor.)  Two months later, with no evidence of any headless bodies littering the Arizona desert, and no law enforcement officials willing to back her claims, Governor Brewer conceded she “misspoke” when she claimed that headless bodies were found in her state’s desert. But her half-hearted semi-apologia came only after her Democratic opponent decapitated Brewer over her headless nonsense in their gubernatorial debate. And how did she handle the issue with the press immediately after the debate? You gotta see it to believe it.

6. Jan Brewer’s (Very) Long Pause

Jan Brewers absolutely stunning (actually, stunned) opening statement in the Arizona Gubernatorial Debate on September 1st must also be seen to be believed.

Only in wacky, way-out Elections Season 2010 could a politician possibly survive turning in a performance like this on a televised debate.

7. Carl Paladino

The New York Republican Party had planned to run former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio to become the Republican candidate for New York governor in the race against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the son of the revered former Governor Mario Cuomo. Instead, thanks to the Tea Party’s clout in the NY primary, they got little-known businessman Carl Paladino.  According to Dick Brennan in The Queens Courier, “Paladino has been dubbed by some as ‘Crazy Carl,’ but the reality is that Paladino is crazy like a fox. Nobody can figure out his strategy, so why not just call him a nut? In fact, the multimillionaire from Buffalo is following a plan, and sticking to it with great discipline.It’s easy to see the first part of his program: hit and run politics, guerilla war, throw your bombs and run for cover. By bombs we mean politically incorrect statements, the more outrageous the better.”

Among the rhetorical bombs tossed by Paladino are his claims that students are being “brainwashed” into believing that the gay lifestyle is a valid option. (This from a guy whose son is the landlord for two gay bars.) Out of the blue, Paladino criticized the media for not asking completely unfounded questions about Cuomo’s marital fidelity. (Crazy Carl claimed to have evidence, but revealed none.) And then there’s Paladino’s penchant for off-color e-mails, like the video he sent to friends of Africans dancing in traditional dress that was titled “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal” – and the video he forwarded of a woman having sex with a horse. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the most vigorous vetting process, does it?

8. Sharron Angle

Did I mention that The Tea Party doesn’t seem to have the most vigorous vetting process?

Of all the Senate Democrats in trouble this election season, Harry Reid of Nevada looked like a soft target for the GOP this fall. Nevada’s economy has been devastated by the housing crisis and Harry Reid is, well, Harry Reid. A decent, stalwart, western Democrat – but not the most charismatic or inspirational politician one could hope for. (As a Californian, I see Harry as the Gray Davis of Nevada.) But, once again, The Tea Party insurgents blew up the GOP’s hope for an easy victory by nominating the most spectacularly unqualified, un-muzzled, and unbelievably obtuse candidate to contend against Reid: Sharron Angle, an ultra-right former member of the Nevada state legislature.

Daniel Kurtzman has listed “The 10 Most Ridiculous Sharron Angle Quotes (So Far)” at About.com (and you should check them all out.) They don’t even include her recent suggestion that many of the Hispanic high school kids she was speaking to looked Asian to her. But here’s just a few…

“People ask me, ‘What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. senator.”

“The Federal Department of Education should be eliminated. The Department of Education is unconstitutional and should not be involved in education, at any level.”

And she said this to explain why she opposes abortion — even in cases of rape or incest. “I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.” Only amid the madness of Mid-Terms 2010 could such a fringe nutcase become Nevada’s junior Senator.

9. Joe Miller or Joe Stalin?

Ah, Alaska! The state the just keeps giving to satirists, cynics and those awaiting signs that the end of the world is upon us. Now the Tea Party voters of Alaska, with the endorsement of no less an authority on wacko, vacuous, right wing politics than Sarah Palin, have given us Joe Miller: he of the permanent five o’clock shadow – and shadowy ideas about how to govern our country. But you’d think that a candidate representing the party of St. Ronald Reagan, who famously stood before the Berlin Wall and uttered the words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” would be loathe to show admiration for Joe Stalin’s infamous Cold War barrier to freedom. Alas, in 2010, any strange thing is possible.

In fact, at a town hall meeting, GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller praised East Germany as a model for how the U.S. might defend its borders. According to Joe (that’s Miller, not Stalin, though I can understand the confusion), “East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow,” of cross-border traffic. “Now, obviously, other things there were involved,” Miller conceded, but… “We have the capacity, as a great nation, obviously, to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could.”

Of course, awful visions of barbed wire, machine guns and Checkpoint Charlie aside, Joe Miller fails to understand that the Berlin Wall was built to keep East Germans in – not to keep illegal immigrants out.

Can being such a wacko keep Joe Miller out of the Senate?

Let’s hope so.

A guy like Miller almost makes me want to write in M..u..r..k..o..w..s..k..i. Then again, now that this is a three-way race, the Democrat, former Sitka mayor Scott McAdams, just might sneak in. Provided Joe doesn’t build that wall to keep him out.

10. Sarah Palin as Tea Party Kingmaker

That’s all you need to know about the lunacy of Election 2010. A know-nothing former pageant princess, ex-mayor of a tiny town, failed Governor, failed Vice Presidential candidate and a woman who quit her job working for the people of Alaska to line her pockets at Fox News, TLC and anywhere they’ll pay her big bucks to speak – is somehow a Tea Party kingmaker, capable up upsetting the mainstream GOP applecart. It’s actually fun to watch. Just imagine how the relationship between Mitch McConnell and John McCain is going lately.

Thanks, Senator McCain. If you hadn’t chosen Sarah Palin as your running mate, the GOP might have had a good chance of taking the Senate in 2010. So you could say all this mid-term madness started with McCain.

No nutty deed goes unpunished. Especially in this election season.

And now, the dream GOP/Teas Party ticket for 2012…

Now, that would be truly beyond satire. (Oh, but we’d have to try, wouldn’t we?)

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Will California Buy a Used CEO this Election Year?

How is it possible that in a post-Enron, post-Lehman Brothers, post-Wall Street Derivatives & Mortgage Meltdown, post-British Petroleum/Haliburton Oil Spill world – that Californians could consider handing the state’s highest offices to a couple of people whose claim to fame is that they were corporate CEOs?

Aren’t we well beyond false notions that “What’s Good for General Motors is good for the country”?

Hell, what was good for General Motors wasn’t even good for General Motors!

The elections in California this fall for Governor and U.S. Senator will test the appetite of the body politic for that old GOP/Chamber of Commerce pabulum that government works best if it is run like a business. Will working class voters still buy that snake oil from millionaires masquerading as populists? Does anyone really believe they want their government run like a business – when the primary purpose of a business is to make a profit? Protecting all of our citizens from crime, fires, unsafe drinking water, and providing us all with parks, roads, garbage removal, and a judicial system – none of that will ever turn a monetary profit. Our profit from the exercise of good government is a better life for everyone.

What have the corporate CEOs of the 21st century shown us so far in the first decade of the New Millennium about their concern for the welfare of average Americans struggling to stay afloat? How have they demonstrated their concern for the commons? How have they acted as stewards of the environment they exploit for profit?

The answer to these critical questions can be found in jacked-up credit cards rates, skyrocketing insurance premiums, continued pollution of the environment, turning banks into Wall Street gambling casinos making bad bets with our money – and, of course, corporate bailouts paid by taxpayers.

All the while, the CEOs that run these under-regulated rackets rake in mega-millions – taxed at a lower rate than the average fireman, cop, or teacher.

E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are cut from the same bolt as the rest of our modern corporate robber barons. And now, after having lined their pockets in the Great Post-Reagan Corporate Cash Grab, they think that a bit of faux feminism and tough but tired talk about balanced budgets and “runaway” spending will convince voters to put two foxes in charge of the henhouse.

The U.S. Senate race pits Senator Barbara Boxer against her likely adversary, Carly Fiorina. Sure, Fiorina looks good, sounds good, and talks tough – but she’s the worst kind of predatory corporate animal. And like so many corporate CEOs whose successful image does not match up with their actual performance on the job, Carly hopes to “fail up”. And, if California voters don’t take a close look at her history, she might even get away with it.

After the Hewlett-Packard board forced Fiorina to resign in the wake of a contentious merger with Compaq and falling stock prices, Infoworld put Fiorina on their 2008 list of products and ideas that were flops, calling her the “anti-Steve Jobs” for losing the goodwill of American engineers and alienating HP’s existing customers. In April 2009, the business web site Conde Nast Portfolio named Fiorina to their rotten roster of “The 20 Worst American CEOs of All Time” for her failed HP-Compaq merger and the sad but salient fact that HP stock lost half its value during her tenure.

Of course, when they booted Fiorina out, the HP board softened Carly’s fall with a golden parachute worth more than twenty million dollars. How’s that for fiscal conservatism?But you can be sure she’ll be an aggressive penny-pincher when it comes to pensions for public employees. For corporatists like Fiorina, public sector spending is always “wasteful” and “bloated”. Besides, Carly is the queen of off-shoring jobs. Maybe she can have our California road system — and all those nasty potholes — fixed by low-paid phone-bank employees in India?

And if that’s not enough, Ms. Fiorina was the top economic advisor to GOP presidential candidate John “the fundamentals of our economy are sound” McCain.

Oh yeah, and moments later, our “sound” economy crashed and burned like The Hindenburg.

The race for Governor will be a contest between Meg Whitman (and her mega-million dollar campaign war chest) versus that old Democratic stalwart, Jerry Brown. It’s frightening that the Democratic Party couldn’t find a sexier, more contemporary, inspiring, and charismatic candidate that Jerry Governor Moonbeam” Brown. But progressives can’t let their lack of enthusiasm for a retread like Brown lesson our zeal to keep Whitman out of the Governor’s mansion.

Meg Whitman is a carefully packaged product, rolled out in a glitzy multi-million dollar promotional campaign – but voters should reject her like New Coke.

This ersatz woman of the people, has an annual salary of $2.19 million — but her eBay stock ownership has probably made her the first female billionaire created in the Internet age. Of course, we don’t really know ho much money Meg has. We can guess, however, that given the zillions she’s spent on TV ads so far, she probably is a billionaire. Great. Just what we need in California: a billionaire CEO deciding that we’re “wasting” too much money on public education, public parks, public heath, and all those pesky environmental and workplace safety standards that “drive business away”. Given her corporate-friendly priorities, no doubt Meg would help California win the national race to the bottom.

Whitman graduated from Princeton in 1977 and went on to Harvard, where she earned a master’s degree in business administration. But she still manages to join her GOP brethren, like the cranky old guy she’s smooching in the picture below) in casting progressives as “elites” who are out of touch with mainstream America. Whitman worked her wa up the corporate ladder, from Procter & Gamble, to Stride Rite, Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD), and Hasbro, where she successfully re-launched the vintage toy, Mr. Potato Head.

Alas, when she tried to help Mr. Potato Head get elected as President in 2008, she met with less success. (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist.)

Of course, it was Meg Whitman’s success at eBay that earned her fortune and fame. She oversaw eBay’s initial public offering of stock in ‘98 and helped eBay become a great success. That’s true. And after making corporate history by helping to promote and expand this revolutionary new way for people get rid of things they don’t want by selling them to others – she’s hoping sell herself to California voters.

But Meg Whitman is something we don’t want. GOP fiscal policy is founded on one thing: what’s good for corporate America is good for the country. Whitman buys into that because she’s a thoroughly corporate creature. She didn’t devote herself to public service: she made money. She turned a profit. Government was something that often got in her way.

Would that government would have gotten in British Petroleum’s way. Or Enron’s way. Or Lehman Brothers’ way…

Don’t be fooled, California. Republicans and Corporate CEOs don’t give a damn about average working Americans, and progressive, egalitarian values are anathema to them.

Ignore the flags and the ads. We don’t need the GOP-CEO mentality in the Senate or the Governor’s mansion. We need leaders who put people above profits.

Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown have proven their commitment to putting people first.

They may not be the flashiest product on the shelves this year, but they’re reliable.

Shop wisely this election year.

And if the Republicans can’t sell Meg Whitman and  Carly Fiorina to California voters this year — they can always put Meg and Carly up for sale on eBay. Just ask Meg: it’s a great way to get rid of stuff you don’t want.

Finally, just for fun — a loving look back at “Governor Moonbeam”…

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