Matt Taibbi has a decent write-up of the Senate Banking Committee's mass fellatio testimony from Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, which highlights the continued evolution of our government from a functional if unwieldy public sector to an expensive group of administrative assistants to the financial industry. Dragging some hapless public figure before the Senate to testify uncomfortably for the cameras is a timeless political ritual in the U.S. However, in the past it was done primarily for the purpose of tearing the witness a new asshole with the greatest possible fanfare for political gain – Look at Senator Smith handing it to those crooked fat cats! Look at how he pounded the table and shouted "Sir, I demand answers!" Not even popular public figures were off limits; recall Howard Hughes being dragged before the War Investigating Committee in 1947 to account for the lavish War Department contracts his companies had received over the previous decade. Today our elected officials sit listlessly through such hearings with the Captains of Industry, scarcely able to whimper out a few softball questions before recalling that children are best seen but not heard.

There are two obvious explanations here, both of which reflect a political process so completely broken that we can safely confirm a return to the 1890s at this point. One, quite obviously, is that the Senators have been bought off by the financial interests they are supposed to regulate. Remember, the recent testimony took place before the Senate Banking Committee – a group of people that at least in theory is supposed to have a great interest in the issue. Instead the Senators' intent appeared to be to let Dimon speak virtually unchallenged for over an hour, to pick his mighty brain for ideas on how to do their job of regulating his behemoth company. The second explanation is much more disturbing – that the Senators no longer have any political points to score from a public Asshole Tearing of a man who is the modern textbook definition of a Wall Street Tycoon. In fact I suspect that many of them would suffer political repercussions (GOP primary challengers) if they did anything beyond occasionally glancing up at Dimon and asking him if they're doing it right. Don't worry, Sen. Corker. He'll give you the rhetorical head tap if you're not up to snuff.

I rarely say "I'm surprised" by the political world as anything other than a rhetorical device, but this is the real deal. How can it be unpopular to take rhetorical shots at the 21st Century equivalent of the Monopoly Man or J.P. Morgan? How and to whom is this a sympathetic figure? That the Senators can plausibly think "My constituents are gonna be angry if I'm too hard on this guy" is the least subtle sign that Gilded Age politics have returned in full force. That they don't even put up the pretense of being tough on the cartoon villain banking CEO – reaming him for the cameras and then kissing his ass behind closed doors with hearty backslaps and plenty of winking; "Sorry you had to sit through that song and dance, your majesty!" – reveals that they know exactly who the real "constituents" are. Graft and corruption collapse into themselves when those involved get so brazen that they conduct their crimes out in the open because they no longer fear punishment enough to bother with a cover-up. Yet rather than collapsing under a tidal wave of reform, Congress manages to continue getting worse. Each new election thins out more veterans with half of a brain and brings in more Ron Johnson "pro-business" types who don't know their mouths from their assholes.

That anyone could watch such a spectacle as the Great Dimon Gangbang of '12 and not be disgusted is hard for me to believe. Luckily for the bottoms/Senators involved, most Americans appear to have given up so completely on the idea of a functional government representing their interests that no one really notices anymore. Between the 800 cable channels and the number of Americans working two jobs just to keep afloat, most of us are sufficiently distracted to guarantee the Senators free reign to worship their master on camera.

25 thoughts on “OF, BY, AND FOR THE PEOPLE”

  • In other news, you probably noticed that the former head of Goldman's got nailed for insider trading.

    Whilst this is great news, I can't help but wonder if the reason he was nailed on what some call "circumstantial evidence" had to do with his Anglo-Celtic surname: Gupta.

    To nail someone so easily with a foreign surname like Dimon would smack of racism wouldn't it? Wouldn't want to surrender the outsider now would we?

  • Oh, and pity that my home state is such a minor contender in the game. At least Merkley had something to ask. But Oregon, enh, who cares, it's not New York of Florida.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    It's not just the money, it's not avoiding the tea party objection, it's a deep conviction that finance is everything. Unemployment, no health care, underemployment, 60 hours weeks for the pay of a week's work are minor beyond visibility.

    Look at the campaigns of the twins Obama/Romney; neither offers anything beyond Dimon yesterday, Dimon today and Dimon forever.

  • If you think Obama and Romney are twins, you are going to be unpleasantly surprised with a Romney Administration, as you probably were with the Bush Administration.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Sex workers, male and female, across the world, wish they could service their clients with the high degree of satisfaction to their clients AND their pimps, as the Senate just did to this thieving greedy motherfecker.

    They must have bowed their heads in admiration of the Senator's skills.

    Not a drop of bodily fluid was spilled – it was all licked and sucked with the sort of relish you don't normally see, except from children given their first ice-cream sundae.

    "A Parliament of Whore's," indeed.

    What the powers-that-be here in America fail to realize, as we'll discover soon when the whole house of cards collapses, was that the Romans were smart enough to include some 'bread,' and not just have circuses.

    Stick a fork in us. We're done.
    Time to break out the guillotines, burn this feckin' place to the ground, and start over again.

    And then, maybe the next few generations of greedy motherfecker's will remember that circuses alone just don't cut it – that people need some bread, too.
    They'd better – their heads will be on the line!

  • "One Ring To Rule Them"

    I don't think these politicians take themselves or congress seriously. How many of them even bother to read the legislation they sign?

  • I don't see anything getting better unless/until we have 100% publicly funded elections and/or absolute caps on campaign spending. It's extremely depressing.

    AND YET:

    I think it's possible to flank the superior position when it comes to campaigning, by "taking it to the people" and so on. But the big problem is the large percentage of "swing voters" who don't pay sufficient attention and appear to be (unless we can cite research the proves otherwise) influenced by the carpet bombing of negative advertising. At the end of the day, these ratfuckers still have to depend on real, actual votes out there among the public, and while that's still the case, there is the slightest glimmer of hope.

  • we can safely confirm a return to the 1890s at this point.

    Ed – we don't always agree, but I never thought I would have to chide you for a failure of imagination.

    You have fallen short here by close to 1000 years.


  • @Fezzik:
    You hit on something there. Most of the voters, including (maybe particularly) the ones who are struggling, think they're too stupid to follow or grasp financial/economic news. Representatives thus have little to gain by taking snaps at guys like Dimon – they'll lose campaign money, which will go to opponents who will crush them with numbing, empty negative ads.

    Aside from hardcore campaign finance and lobbying reform, I see know way out of it. And it's hard to imagine that happening in a country where something like the Tea Party can exist.

    It's a pretty sweet deal when you can count on We The People not giving a fuck what you do.

  • mel in oregon says:

    the only thing jeff merkely did wrong is, he should have got up, walked over to dimon & knocked dimon on his ass. we aren't ny or cal? thank darwin for that, we don't need hollywood or broadway. this has always been the most progressive state, remember wayne morse was one of two senators to vote against the gulf of tonkin rsolution, which he knew was absolute bullshit. obama also should have had security remove the idiot monroe from the group of reporters & taken his press credentials away. if his boss, the little prick tucker carlson doesn't like it, tough shit!

  • Yeah, we all know the real problem is too much money in politics. When those campaigning have to make (and the last I saw for a Senator it was $25,000 a day but I'm sure it's gone waaaayyyy up) so much per day to meet their next election, and the bulk of that money comes from lobbyists, especially from Wall Street, of course they are going to ask the fox how to guard the henhouse – afterall, they are foxes guarding their own henhouses.

    Limit terms, enforce the revolving door provisions and make them tougher (5 years before they can cash in on K street), and above all, take the money out of elections – federal elections should be a set amount of money divided between the candidates that make it to the final race, no personal money, no donations. It should be an issues fought race and the voices should be equal. After all, money doesn't talk, it swears.

  • @mel: we also had those wonderful OCA people. Thank god the more populous parts carried the state in that one. Lon's probably heading up the OR chapter of the T-baggers now. Saw him once on 205, he looked like a rat dog Pekingese. It was all could do to not "lose control" of the car.

    It doesn't matter how progressive OR is. If the mass of votes comes from else where who cares. FL, NY and CA have more delegates. Why else the return of Jim Crow? Why else is PA trying to change its electoral college away from "Winner Take All"* Seattle and Portland may have similar views, but the rest of the states are OCA types. ID… Well that stops us from having an influential regional block vote à la Hillbillista… erm… I mean the South.

    *what was the outcome of that move?

  • @xynzee

    Late breaking from from HillBillistan…:-)

    As per the Constitution, the method of selecting the electors to the Electoral College is under the control of the individual states. I believe both Maine and Nebraska award electors based on the majority vote in the congressional districts. I don't know how they assign the electors representing the Senate seats.

    And as you probably know, there is no US Constitutional right for citizens to vote for the President/VP. Several state constitutions provide that right (as does GA) A few years ago Rep Jessie Jackson, Jr was pushing an amendment to the US Constitution to encode that right.

    Again, the electors to the EC can be selected by any method the States, through their legislatures, decide.


  • @ BB: Thanks for the stomach-churning reminder of our undemocratic electoral college system! :)

    My latest nightmare scenario involves either a 269-269 tie in the EC, or a narrow Romney victory, most likely with victories in states that do not legally require the winning electors to cast a vote for the candidate they're pledged to. At that point, with the 12th Amendment's provision that if no candidate wins a majority in the EC, the election is thrown into the House, with the representatives choosing among the three individuals with the most votes in the EC, what's to stop an elector with a distrust of Mittens' ideological purity from casting a vote for a REAL REPUBLICAN? Can you say Constitutional crisis?

  • @A.B.A.B.D.

    Why is it that when we employ or exercise little or never used (to date) portions of the Constitution do people (media usually) pump it up to the level of "Constitutional Crisis"? Well, actually I get the media part :-)

    Ain't no crisis if we follow the plan…


  • I don't think the calculation is that being aggressive will be unpopular with the constituents.

    It's that they don't care.

    Being aggressive will get them one or two things: unpopular with the Deep Pockets People, and possibly marked as vulnerable to the TeaBag Savages.

    They've seen over and over that their constituents are way down the list of opinions that they need to care about, and have little concern that unpopular stances will impact them.

  • Luckily for the bottoms/Senators involved, most Americans appear to have given up so completely on the idea of a functional government representing their interests that no one really notices anymore.

    I have found that sitting and reading trashy novels at night is much better for my blood pressure than keeping informed on the dysfunctional mess that is our Federal government.

    So when Obama for America calls looking for a donation, I now tell them, "Sorry, but I don't have enough to give that you will care what I think."

  • I'm with RosiesDad on this one. I've been a politics junkie my entire adult life. No more. What you say, do, or think doesn't matter, it's all about the money. Couple the Citizens United decision with outrageous voter suppression in thirty or so states, and the future looks dark. Now add the election fraud techniques that have been perfected over the last twelve years by the wing nuts and their willing henchmen and it seems absolutely hopeless. The game is now rigged to the extent that resistance, if not futile, is reduced to an increasingly empty gesture good only for patting yourself on the back and saying "don't look at me." Fuck it.

  • @ BB:

    Do you sincerely believe that if an actual, far left ideologue was elected President by a Democratically-controlled House in a scenario that was the reverse image of the one I described, there would not be a Constitutional, or at least a legitimation, crisis?

  • @ABABD

    If you mean by crisis, people getting their boxers bunched real tight and bitchin' up a storm – yes of course. Would the Right storm the barricades?

    Based on the T party's behavior versus OWS and the anti-Walker campaign in Wis. – No.

    The Rs would suck it up and go on trying to fight it politically.

    And please spare me McVeigh (in general – not necessarily you ABABD). He was as isolated and weird as Kasinski.


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