Before being given an up-close and personal introduction to the undercarriage of the Obama campaign bus, the ScaryAngry(Insubordinate)Pariah preached some serious gospel this past Thursday:
[Obama's] a politician, I’m a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they’re two different worlds. I do what I do. He does what politicians do.
The same Beltway lobbyists, corporate donors and public relations firms, the same weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, nuclear power companies and Wall Street interests that give Clinton and John McCain money, give Obama money. They happen, in fact, to give Obama more. And the corporate state, which is carrying out a coup d’état in slow motion, believes it will prosper in Obama’s hands. If not, he would not be a viable candidate. We have come full circle, back to the age of the robber barons and railroad magnates of the late 19th century who selected members of corrupt state assemblies to be their pliable senators and congressmen and sent them off to Washington to do their bidding.
There have been some important investigations into Obama’s links with major corporations, including Ken Silverstein’s November 2006 article “Barack Obama Inc: The Birth of a Washington Machine” in Harper’s magazine. Newsweek has also detailed many of Obama’s major corporate contributors. Obama’s Leadership PAC includes John Gorman of Texas-based Tejas Securities, a major supporter of Senate Democrats as well as the Bush presidential campaigns. It includes Winston & Strawn, the Chicago-based law and lobbying firm. It also includes the corporate law firms Kirkland & Ellis, and Skadden, Arps, where four attorneys are fundraisers for Obama as well as donors. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Henry Crown and Co., an investment firm that has stakes in industries ranging from telecommunications to defense, are all funding the Illinois senator.
Individual contributors to Obama come from major lobbyist groups such as those of Jeffrey Peck (whose clients include MasterCard, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) and Rich Tarplin (Chevron, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers). Exelon, a leading nuclear plant operator, based in Illinois, is a long-time donor to the Obama campaign. Exelon executives and employees have contributed at least $227,000 to Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fundraisers. Obama has also accepted more than $213,000 from individuals (and their spouses) who work for companies in the oil and gas industry, and two of Obama’s bundlers are senior oil company executives who have raised between $50,000 and $100,000. I could go on, but you get the point.
Obama, as you will see if you examine his voting record, has repeatedly rewarded those who reward him. As a senator he has promoted nuclear energy as “green.” He has been lauded by the nuclear power industry, which is determined to resume building nuclear power plants across the country. He has voted to continue to fund the Iraq war. He opposed Rep. John Murtha’s call for immediate withdrawal. He refused to join the 13 senators who voted against confirming Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. He voted in July 2005 to reauthorize the Patriot Act. He did not support an amendment that was part of a bankruptcy bill that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He did not support the single-payer health care bill HR676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supports the death penalty. He worked tirelessly in the Senate in 2005 to pass a class-action “reform” bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms, which make up Obama’s second-biggest single bloc of donors. The law, with the Orwellian title the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), would effectively shut down state courts as a venue to hear most class-action lawsuits. This has long been a cherished goal of large corporations as well as the Bush administration. It effectively denies redress in many of the courts where these cases have a chance of defying powerful corporate challenges. It moves these cases into corporate-friendly federal courts dominated by Republican judges. Even Hillary Clinton voted against this naked effort to allow corporations to carry out flagrant discrimination, consumer fraud and wage-and-hour violations.
Even I’m finding it hard to be comforted by the (far from baseless) assertion that an Obama (or a Clinton) administration would be “better” than one helmed by John Sidney McSame. This is not to say that I’m coming out for Nader (gah!), nor am I encouraging people to sit out the general or waste their vote on a third party vanity candidate. But I can’t help but lament the sad-yet-undeniable fact that the only viable options American voters have to choose from are all feeding from–and eagerly refilling–the same corporate trough.
Sweet Jesus, I hate this goddamn election.