Category Archives: Evil Rich People

Chief of Cash

The New York Times delves into what it calls “a little-known episode of Mr. Emanuel’s biography” – you know, those 36 months in which he made $18 million working as a mergers & acquisitions guy.

My favorite part is this:

“Confidants of Mr. Emanuel’s said he decided to try his hand at business because he wanted financial security for his family, before eventually returning to public service.”

Oh, the sacrifices he’s made for us!

“He had a number in his head to make enough for the family,” one of Rahm’s brothers, Ezekiel, told the Times.

And he fell just short!

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The Devils in Durbin’s Details

A collection of noteworthy points, details and arguments from the Durbin-Ryan-commutation imbroglio that I haven’t yet had a chance to point out.

* “If Ryan is released early, he will have spent less time in prison than two friends convicted in the case – Ryan’s aide, Scott Fawell, who did the dirty work, and businessman Lawrence Warner, who profited from the dirty deals,” the Sun-Times notes in an editorial today.

* “Let’s also look at one of the main assertions on Ryan’s behalf, that he’s been punished enough in part because his government pension has already been taken away,” Mark Brown writes today.

“What they fail to mention is that he had already collected about $800,000 from his ridiculous $197,000-a-year pension before he was sent off to prison. How many of you can expect to collect $800,000 from a pension in your entire lifetime? Not many. It’s not our fault if he spent it all.”

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My Darling Clemency

In conjunction with stating on Thursday that George Ryan should be set free, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to announce the following this week:

* He will not only keep Death Row empty, but clear out Simple Felony and Misdemeanor Row too.

* He is planning to enter the priesthood sometime between the end of his term as governor and the day of his coming federal indictment. He has also taken on a second job at a soup kitchen and a third job as a paralegal at Winston & Strawn.

* He will accept an ambassadorship from Barack Obama, but swears it is not because it will give him diplomatic immunity.

* Yes, he knows what irony means.

* Patti made him do it.

Meanwhile, Jim Thompson insists that Ryan feels remorse.

A) He’s just been too shy to say so publicly.
B) He’s damn sorry he ever trusted Scott Fawell.
C) He’s sorry he shanked that guy in Unit C and he’ll apologize for anything to get out before the ladies trap him in the shower.

Having a Ball

“Barack Obama tried to keep corporate lobbyists out of his campaign, but when it comes to his home state’s Inaugural Gala, everything is for sale, and the corporate sponsorship list reads like a Who’s Who of Chicago big business,” Politico reports.

“Stroke a $55,000 check, as utility giant Exelon Corp. has, and you’ve purchases sponsorship of the ‘City of Chicago Ballroom.’ American Airlines has dropped $40,000 for exclusive sponsorship of a cocktail reception that may include members of Congress. And $20,000 merely gets your company name over the coat check booth.”

That’s right – you can even sponsor the coat check. That’s almost worth it just to tell the story about how you, um, sponsored the coat check.

Now, if you can only scrape together $10,000, you can get your name on a dessert.

Which is only about a third as crazy as Monsanto spending $30,000 to build a mock-up of the Steppenwolf right there, apparently, in the ballroom.

Monsanto, of course, is the recipient of generous tax subsidies, so they can afford it. Their executives will probably even fly in on private jets.

Hey, it’s a ball. That’s what corporate royalty does.

Good Night Sunshine

“Lou Piniella is on board with the Cubs’ plan to ask the city to relax its ordinance and allow games on Friday and Saturday nights at Wrigley Field,” the Tribune reports.

“Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney hopes to convince the city that flexibility in scheduling night games on weekends is needed to keep the players fresh and that concerns over neighborhood congestion are no longer relevant because of the influx of bars and restaurants in the 20 years since the ordinance was enacted.”

So let me see if I can restate this argument: What’s another 40,000 people when the neighborhood is already congested beyond repair?

“Since the Cubs often return from trips on Thursday nights, Piniella said the players would benefit with extra rest if they played at night on Friday or Saturday.

“‘A good example is Friday,’ Piniella said. ‘We had an afternoon game in Milwaukee on Thursday, and we get in late and have a day game on Friday.'”

True enough, but as Jim Coffman points out in his Beachwood Reporter column today, the visiting Pirates were coming into town from the road as well – and didn’t get to sleep in their own beds or play in their home park.

The Cubs have chipped away for years at the traditions – like day baseball – that have made the Cubs the Cubs. One day soon there will be no more day games, no more bleachers, no more rooftops, no more wind and no more sunshine. And then there might as well be no more Cubs.

Transformation Plan From Outer Space

The Tribune summarizes its examination on Sunday of the CHA’s vaunted Plan for Transformation thusly: “Thousands of families displaced. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent. Years behind schedule. What went wrong with Chicago’s grand experiment.”

To which I can only say: Duh.

The Tribune used nearly 4,300 words to detail what many of us have been arguing for years – that the critics were right from the beginning, that the Plan for Transformation is a failure, and that it was always about slum clearance, PR, and developers, not about housing policy or the city’s neediest residents.

That’s not to say the Trib’s 4,300 words are wasted; in fact, it’s a fine story. It’s just that the paper is a little late proclaiming one of the biggest feathers in the mayor’s cap a grand experiment gone wrong. Let’s take a closer look.

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Greenroots Campaign

As long as I’m reading the New York Times Op-Ed page (“Caveney’s Dish“), David Brooks outlines an indisputable fact about where Barack Obama gets most of his funding from despite the campaign’s efforts to tell you otherwise: from rich people.

“As in other recent campaigns, lawyers account for the biggest chunk of Democratic donations. They have donated about $18 million to Obama, compared with about $5 million to John McCain, according to data released on June 2 and available at OpenSecrets.org,” Brooks writes.

“People who work at securities and investment companies have given Obama about $8 million, compared with $4.5 for McCain. People who work in communications and electronics have given Obama about $10 million, compared with $2 million for McCain. Professors and other people who work in education have given Obama roughly $7 million, compared with $700,000 for McCain.

“Real estate professionals have given Obama $5 million, compared with $4 million for McCain. Medical professionals have given Obama $7 million, compared with $3 million for McCain. Commercial bankers have given Obama $1.6 million, compared with $1.2 million for McCain. Hedge fund and private equity managers have given Obama about $1.6 million, compared with $850,000 for McCain.”

Hedging on Hope!

“When you break it out by individual companies, you find that employees of Goldman Sachs gave more to Obama than workers of any other employer. The Goldman Sachs geniuses are followed by employees of the University of California, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, National Amusements, Lehman Brothers, Harvard and Google. At many of these workplaces, Obama has a three- or four-to-one fund-raising advantage over McCain.”

Cynics might suggest these are “insiders” and “special interests.”

“When he is swept up in rhetorical fervor, Obama occasionally says that his campaign is 90 percent funded by small donors. He has indeed had great success with small donors, but only about 45 percent of his money comes from donations of $200 or less.”

By small, he means short. Most of his donors really aren’t very tall.

“Over the past few years, people from Goldman Sachs have assumed control over large parts of the federal government. Over the next few they might just take over the whole darn thing.”

Viva la Revolucion.