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Bush Versus Obama: Who’s Worse?


Obama Names Top Fundraisers to Major Political Posts

Last week, the Obama administration announced its choice to lead the Federal Communications Commission: Tom Wheeler, who is not only a former telecom lobbyist but also a huge bundler for the Obama campaign. The New York Times Editorial Page today explains that this choice is “raising serious questions about [Obama’s] 2007 pledge that corporate lobbyists would not finance his campaign or run his administration.” It also notes that “given his background, it is almost certain that [Wheeler] raised money [for Obama] from people whose companies he would regulate, creating potential conflicts of interest.”

Last week, President Obama named another big bundler of his, the billionaire heiress Penny Pritzker, to be his Commerce Secretary; at the Nation, Rick Perlstein details just some of the interesting questions about that choice that need to be explored. At this point, the only surprising thing is that there are any more bundlers left for Obama to appoint to important administration positions.

While despicable, this is nothing new.

The Center for Public Integrity reported in 2011 that Obama had rewarded as many big money bundlers in 2 years as Bush had appointed in 8:

Source: Public Citizen, iWatchNews analysis. Graphic: Jeremy Borden/iWatch News.

The Center wrote:

As a candidate, Obama spoke passionately about diminishing the clout of moneyed interests and making the White House more accessible to everyday Americans. In kicking off his presidential run on Feb. 10, 2007, he blasted “the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests,” who he said had “turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”

***

[But:]

• Overall, 184 of 556, or about one-third, of Obama bundlers or their spouses joined the administration in some role. But the percentages are much higher for the big-dollar bundlers. Nearly 80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took “key administration posts,” as defined by the White House. More than half the ambassador nominees who were bundlers raised more than half a million.

• The big bundlers had broad access to the White House for meetings with top administration officials and glitzy social events. In all, campaign bundlers and their family members account for more than 3,000 White House meetings and visits. Half of them raised $200,000 or more.

• Some Obama bundlers have ties to companies that stand to gain financially from the president’s policy agenda, particularly in clean energy and telecommunications, and some already have done so. Level 3 Communications, for instance, snared $13.8 million in stimulus money. At least 18 other bundlers have ties to businesses poised to profit from government spending to promote clean energy, telecommunications and other key administration priorities.

***

Bundling is controversial because it permits campaigns to skirt individual contribution limits of $2,500 in federal elections. Bundlers pool donations from fundraising networks and as a result “play an enormous role in determining the success of political campaigns,” according to Public Citizen. The group has tracked bundlers on a website http://www.whitehouseforsale.org in the belief that they are “apt to receive preferential treatment if their candidate wins.”

***

Ambassadorships have been the classic payoff for big bundlers. But it’s not just the posts in foreign capitals that are attractive. Light, the NYU expert on presidential transitions, said that in recent years many have sought jobs with deep reach into the federal bureaucracy — and found a receptive ear in the White House.

“When they get a resume from a bundler, that is a real signal of seriousness,” Light said. “It’s also a thinly veiled quid pro quo,” and it “goes without saying they will get considered.”

Bringing in a lot of cash to the campaign, Light added, “seems to be well established as a signaling device for getting into key jobs running the government. It’s become more significant and nobody seems to have much outrage about it.”

***

Passing over career diplomats in favor of mega-donors amounts to “selling ambassadorships,” said Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association. She said it runs contrary to the law and is unethical, yet, “That hasn’t stopped anybody.”

Thomas Pickering, who served as ambassador to Russia and several other countries during a diplomatic career spanning four decades, said turning to bundlers adds a “new dimension” to what he termed “buying offices” through aggressive fundraising.

***

Hyatt hotels heiress Penny Pritzker, Wall Street titan Robert Wolf and financier Mark Gallogly, for instance, all served on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Commission.

***

In late February, in creating a new commission to take on the task of creating jobs, Obama again appointed the three businesspeople.  Transcripts of the recovery board meetings show that commission members are free to press for an agenda that could significantly benefit their business interests.

The Center pointed out in 2012:

At least 68 of 350 Obama bundlers for the 2012 election or their spouses have served in the administration, ranging from seats on advisory boards that tackle critical national issues such as economic growth, to ceremonial posts such as serving on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

At least 250 of the bundlers have been cleared to attend a White House event since January 2009. Most have come twice while others are frequent visitors. The events range from policy briefings to coveted invitations to state dinners and music and entertainment nights featuring top-draw performers at the executive mansion.

At least 30 of the 2012 bundlers have ties to companies that conduct business with federal agencies or hope to do so. They range from Wall Street investors to green energy, technology and defense firms with multimillion-dollar government contracts.

***

Bundlers have been cleared for more than 5,000 visits to the White House from January 2009 through August 2011, according to visitor logs.

***

Boyle of Common Cause said that wealthy bundlers can amass political clout and use it to “further enrich themselves, and their circle of friends and business acquaintances.”

“Money buys access and influence and that’s the big problem,” she said. “Those who don’t have it are left out in the cold. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work, and it must change.”

That’s not likely, according to Tufts political science professor Berry.

Asked if a Republican presidential challenger would end the practice should he win the office next year, Berry said: “It would be shocking if they decided not to try to reward their most loyal fundraisers. It would make no sense.”

Of course, Obama’s top donors in the 2008 election included:

Goldman Sachs

JP Morgan Chase

Citigroup

General Electric

Morgan Stanley

Goldman Sachs folks held so many top jobs in the Obama administration in his first term that everyone called the cozy relationship “Government Sachs”.

Obama appointed GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt as his jobs czar.

And of course, Obama rewarded his big contributors with tidal waves of government money.

Bush was a horrible crony nepotist, who favored the super-elite at the expense of the little guy.

Obama’s worse.

via Bush Versus Obama: Who’s Worse? | Global Research.

via Bush Versus Obama: Who’s Worse? | Global Research.

Billionaire Bankster Penny Pritzker Breaks into Obama’s Cabinet


Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter

Thursday, May 2, 2013

By Greg Palast 

You made fun of me when I suggested that President Barack Obama would nominate a confessed bank scammer, a loan-sharking mortgage predator, to his cabinet.  But thar she blows!

Today, Obama has named Penny Pritzker Secretary of Commerce. As the President says, It’s a milestone:  the first female fraudster to hold that post. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration – because now they’ll have one of their own in the Cabinet.

The following is taken from the Chapter, “Penny’s from Heaven?” you’ll find in my bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.  [Get a copy, I’ll sign it, and you send it to the President.]

We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools – not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker.

Pritzker’s net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.

Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust – at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior’s depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama’s South Side district lost their homes.

Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators and the Commerce Department so she could get away with this crap.

Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that’s really what they call themselves) on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better – an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.

Rubin opened the doors to finance industry vaults for Obama. Extraordinarily for a Democrat, Obama in 2008 raised three times as much from bankers as his Republican opponent.

So what did Citibank’s Rubin get for showering Obama with gold? Obama agreed to take care of Rubin’s poodles, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. They became Obama’s first cabinet picks: Summers as Economics Czar and Geithner as his czarina, Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner and Summers were the gents who, under Treasury Secretary Rubin, designed the deregulation of banking. In effect, they had decriminalized the kind of financial flim-flammery that brought the planet to its knees while bringing Rubin, Pritzker and the banksters loads of lucre.

So, in 2008, Summers and Geithner were put back in the saddle – Obama’s horse but Rubin’s saddle.

Rubin received more than $100 million from Citigroup, the gargantuan commercial bank/investment bank/casino created by deregulation. It is worth a mention that Rubin’s centi-million-dollar payoff went unchallenged by Citi’s new owner, the US Treasury, which had put up more than a trillion dollars in loans and guarantees to pull Rubin’s creature out of bankruptcy.

Rubin rocked, but Penny was pissed off. Pritzker had taken this state senator/community organizer from the ghetto, made him a US Senator, then, as Obama’s campaign finance chairwoman, raised a mind-blowing three-quarters of a billion dollars to make him president.

In return, in 2008, Obama decided to make his patron Penny the Secretary of Commerce. But then, in November 2008, just as Obama was about to submit her nomination to Congress, a bunch of Pritzker’s victims marched on Washington. They were not from her busted bank, but unhappy workers from the lucrative nursing homes that her family owns through a string of complex offshore trusts. Obama slammed the door on Penny pronto.

The Pritzker family made its billions mostly from Hyatt Hotels and Hyatt nursing homes. Penny, on the Hyatt board of directors, is an infamously combative anti-union apostle. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, has called for an international boycott of Hyatt hotels. In 2012, UNITE HERE and its parent, the AFL-CIO, were crucial to Obama’s winning Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. So, in this last campaign, Obama had to keep his billionairess heiress on the down-low.

Obama appeared to keep the door shut on Pritzker throughout the 2012 campaign, reducing her to hosting an election fundraiser at her Gold Coast digs, which she had to bill as a Goldman Sachs PAC event. This marks possibly the first time and last time anyone used Goldman Sachs as a PR cover.

But today, with the unions’ money and votes already pocketed and counted, Obama can give working folks The Finger and give Penny her pound of flesh: the Commerce post.

The New York Times says that, “At Commerce, Ms. Pritzker could provide the president with a new way to reach out to the business community.” The last time Pritzker reached out to the business community was to sell them sub-prime mortgage securities, worthless bags of financial feces manufactured by Superior Bank.

By giving Penny, the Piggy Banker, Commerce, we have to change Obama’s rating to sub-prime.

I do note that some woman’s organizations are applauding the appointment of the first female to the Commerce post.  But I prefer to honor the victims of the Chicago femme fatale.  Most of Penny’s victims, busted bank borrowers and underpaid health care workers, are women, too. But, unlike those wounded and destroyed by Pritzker, she worked hard for her money: it was not easy inheriting her first billion from her daddy.

* * * * * * * *

Greg Palast earned his degree in finance at the University of Chicago but has since gone legit.  View his reports for BBC Television, Vice Magazine and more at http://www.GregPalast.com

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, just named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

Billionaire Burglar Breaks into Obama’s Cabinet Pinch-Penny Pritzker pockets Commerce post


A parade of media reports this week name Penny Pritzker as Obama’s prime choice for Secretary of Commerce. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration – because now they’ll have one of their own in the Cabinet.

We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools – not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker.

Penny’s from Heaven?

Penny’s from Heaven?

Pritzger’s net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.

Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust – at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior’s depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama’s South Side district lost their homes.

Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators so she could get away with this crap.

Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that’s really what they call themselves) on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better – an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and, when Robert met Barry, co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.

Rubin opened the doors to finance industry vaults for Obama. Extraordinarily for a Democrat, Obama in 2008 raised three times as much from bankers as his Republican opponent.

So what did Citibank’s Rubin get for showering Obama with gold? Obama agreed to take care of Rubin’s poodles, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. They became Obama’s first cabinet picks: Summers as Economics Czar and Geithner as his czarina, Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner and Summers were the gents who, under Treasury Secretary Rubin, designed the deregulation of banking. In effect, they had decriminalized the kind of financial flim-flammery that brought the planet to its knees while bringing Rubin, Pritzker and the banksters loads of lucre.

So, in 2008, Summers and Geithner were put back in the saddle – Obama’s horse but Rubin’s saddle.

Rubin received more than $100 million from Citigroup, the gargantuan commercial bank/investment bank/casino created by deregulation. It is worth a mention that Rubin’s centi-million-dollar payoff went unchallenged by Citi’s new owner, the US Treasury, which had put up more than a trillion dollars in loans and guarantees to pull Rubin’s creature out of bankruptcy.

Rubin rocked, but Penny was pissed off.

Pritzker had taken this state senator/community organizer from the ghetto, made him a US Senator, then, as Obama’s campaign finance chairwoman, raised a mind-blowing three-quarters of a billion dollars to make him president.

In return, in 2008, Obama decided to make his patron Penny the Secretary of Commerce. But then, in November 2008, just as Obama was about to submit her nomination to Congress, a bunch of Pritzker’s victims marched on Washington. They were not from her busted bank, but unhappy workers from the lucrative nursing homes that her family owns through a string of complex offshore trusts. Obama slammed the door on Penny pronto.

In the 2012 campaign, Obama, to his credit, kept the door shut on Pritzker, reducing her to hosting an election fundraiser at her Gold Coast digs, which she had to bill as a Goldman Sachs PAC event. This marks possibly the first time anyone has used Goldman Sachs as a PR cover.

The Pritzker family made its billions mostly from Hyatt Hotels and Hyatt nursing homes. Penny, on the Hyatt board of directors, is an infamously combative anti-union apostle. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, has called for an international boycott of Hyatt hotels. In 2012, UNITE HERE and its parent, the AFL-CIO, were crucial to Obama’s winning Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. So, in this last campaign, Obama had to keep his billionairess heiress on the down-low.

But today, with the unions’ money and votes already pocketed and counted, Obama can give working folks The Finger and give Penny her pound of flesh: the Commerce post.

The New York Times says that, “At Commerce, Ms. Pritzker could provide the president with a new way to reach out to the business community.” The last time Pritzker reached out to the business community was to sell them sub-prime mortgage securities, worthless bags of financial feces manufactured by Superior Bank.

If Penny the Piggy Banker gets Commerce, we’ll have to drop Obama’s rating to sub-prime.

So what are you going to do about it?

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

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