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Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 02:28 am

Corporate Corruptistan

The teabag forces are out front in today’s politics, noisily trying to oust Democrats and install a new Congress that they think will end “business-as-usual” in Washington. Nice political rhetoric, but peek behind the curtain.

While the rise of the tea parties was fueled by the legitimate fury of thousands of outsiders, the rank-and-file troops have unwittingly fallen under the political leadership of consummate corporate insiders. For example, few grass-roots tea bag enthusiasts realize that the chief funder of their anti-establishment rallies is uber-establishmentarian, David Koch, who’s using the tea party to advance his laissez-faire agenda of creating a corporate kleptocracy that’ll stomp on people like them.

There is also another force behind the scenes. And this force is moving quietly and assuredly to make certain that a Republican Congress will deliver business-MORE-THAN-usual.

Meet Paul Singer, the ultra-rich operator of a $17 billion hedge fund. A far-out laissez faire ideologue, he’s one of the Wall Street barons who’s mad-as-hell at Barack Obama and the Democrats for having the temerity even to try reining in the bankster greed that has brought our economy to its knees, leading to millions of Americans to be either unemployed or underemployed.

Like a big chicken little, Singer has been running around decrying Obama’s Wall Street reforms, insisting that they’ll ruin America’s position as the world leader in finance. Apparently he slept through 2007, when Wall Street itself ruined that reputation.

Nonetheless, Singer is richer than Daddy Warbucks, which makes him a BIG chicken little in Republican politics. So far this year, he has poured $4 million of his own fortune into GOP congressional candidates and corporate front groups, and he’s raised millions more, plus backing Wall Street-friendly Republicans with cash from his hedge fund.

Singer’s not alone in trying to co-opt teabag energy and divert it into the service of the corporate agenda. K Street, where flocks of corporate lobbying firms roost, is moving quickly to capture any gains that Republicans make in November. This corporate lobbying corridor is undergoing a major makeover, quietly shifting from Democratic to Republican influence peddlers.

In particular, GOP staffers on Capitol Hill are in high demand, with such outfits as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and Raytheon now paying top dollar to hire well-connected Republicans. “They’re the new ‘It girl,’” gushed one insider.

And that’s “it” exactly. Money is the real power in Washington. Until that changes, there’ll be no change.

It doesn’t help our democracy that the Supreme Court saw fit to funnel even more corporate money into our elections, thus drowning out the voices of citizens in favor of giving corporations the biggest, loudest, rudest megaphone ever.

In January, five black-robed autocrats on the Supreme Court decreed that America’s corporate powers must be allowed to flood our elections with an unprecedented, unlimited, unconscionable tsunami of special interest money that’ll swamp over any pretension that our elections are an exercise in democracy.

Oh, tut-tut, clucked the five Supremes at the time, the electoral impact will be minimal, for corporate executives will be self-regulating in the use of their shareholders’ money. Wow, what a happy theory!

Maybe these five slap-happy theorists should visit the ongoing Senate race in Florida. Led by the ethically challenged Republican hatchet man Karl Rove, a front group named American Crossroads has amassed an ocean of Supreme Court-approved money from out-of-state corporations and billionaires to back a Republican hustler named Marco Rubio. Hailing the influx of corporate cash from Rove’s front group, one of Rubio’s backers happily declared, “I think it’s going to seal the deal in getting his message out.”
And what exactly is his message? “Rubio will rein in out-of-control spending in Washington,” screams one of his ads. No, he won’t. He’ll simply shift spending from public needs to giveaways for oil companies, military contractors and other money powers that the five Supremes and Karl Rove have unleashed on the good people of Florida.

In Corporate Corruptistan, money is the message.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.
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