Sunday, May 11, 2008

Obama's Money Cartel

Important article on Obama's Wall Street financial backers from Counter Punch -
Part 1

Wall Street, known variously as a barren wasteland for diversity or the last plantation in America, has defied courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for decades in its failure to hire blacks as stockbrokers. Now it’s marshalling its money machine to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. Why isn’t the press curious about this?

Walk into any of the largest Wall Street brokerage firms today and you’ll see a self-portrait of upper management racism and sexism: women sitting at secretarial desks outside fancy offices occupied by predominantly white males. According to the EEOC as well as the recent racial discrimination class actions filed against UBS and Merrill Lynch, blacks make up between 1 per cent to 3.5 per cent of stockbrokers -- this after 30 years of litigation, settlements and empty promises to do better by the largest Wall Street firms.

The first clue to an entrenched white male bastion seeking a black male occupant in the oval office (having placed only five blacks in the U.S. Senate in the last two centuries) appeared in February on a chart at the Center for Responsive Politics website. It was a list of the 20 top contributors to the Barack Obama campaign, and it looked like one of those comprehension tests where you match up things that go together and eliminate those that don’t. Of the 20 top contributors, I eliminated six that didn’t compute. I was now looking at a sight only slightly less frightening to democracy than a Diebold voting machine. It was a Wall Street cartel of financial firms, their registered lobbyists, and go-to law firms that have a death grip on our federal government.

Why is the “yes, we can” candidate in bed with this cartel? How can “we”, the people, make change if Obama’s money backers block our ability to be heard?

Seven of the Obama campaign’s top 14 donors consisted of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages. These latest frauds have left thousands of children in some of our largest minority communities coming home from school to see eviction notices and foreclosure signs nailed to their front doors. Those scars will last a lifetime.

These seven Wall Street firms are (in order of money given): Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. There is also a large hedge fund, Citadel Investment Group, which is a major source of fee income to Wall Street. There are five large corporate law firms that are also registered lobbyists; and one is a corporate law firm that is no longer a registered lobbyist but does legal work for Wall Street. The cumulative total of these 14 contributors through February 1, 2008, was $2,872,128, and we’re still in the primary season.

But hasn’t Senator Obama repeatedly told us in ads and speeches and debates that he wasn’t taking money from registered lobbyists? Hasn’t the press given him a free pass on this statement?

Read the rest of this article and part 2 tomorrow at Counter Punch
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