Saturday :: Mar 11, 2006

Let The Whoring Begin

by pessimist

Osama bin Laden's niece is to star in reality TV show. (I've written about her before.) Considering that we are entering a political period of major media misuse and abuse, I think that her story is an appropriate metaphor.

Osama bin Laden's niece, an aspiring singer who posed for a sexy photo shoot in a men's magazine last year, has signed up for a reality television show about her life and her as yet unfulfilled "quest for stardom." Based in New York, Dufour has been promoting herself as a musician and last December appeared in a sultry GQ photo spread, reclining on satin sheets wrapped in feathers and posing in a bubble bath wearing nothing but a necklace.
Wafah Dufour Bin Ladin, whose mother was married to the al Qaeda leader's half brother, was born in California but lived in Saudi Arabia from the age of three to 10. "I understand that when people hear my last name, they have preconceived notions, but I was born an American and I love my country," Dufour said in a statement from ReganMedia announcing the deal to develop a reality TV series.

Dufour has dropped the "Bin Ladin" -- a different spelling of the Arabic name from that used by Osama bin Laden -- and now goes by the name Wafah Dufour. "Her story will bridge the gap that people feel exists between the cultures she has lived in," ReganMedia President Judith Regan said.

OK, she wants to make her own name for herself and make it in America. Everyone is supposed to have that opportunity. So why do I lump her in with political prostitutes? Because while she earned a master's degree in law from Columbia University, she is pursuing a career path that any high school dropout with looks could achieve.

Her father is rich, and her mother most have earned something from her book. Is it only 'Anything for more money!'?

It is if you are in politics - and the American Electoral Idol 2008 qualifying rounds are about to begin!

Money's Going to Talk in 2008

"There is a growing sense that there is going to be a $100 million entry fee at the end of 2007 to be considered a serious candidate," Michael E. Toner, the chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said in a recent interview.

I guess that's why the GOP has been charging $25,000 for a front row seat in the Oval Office?

What's more, many analysts believe that 2008 will be a clash of such titanic intensity that the nominees will reject public funding -- and the spending limits that govern it -- even for the fall campaign. If so, most bets are that each major-party candidate would need to raise in excess of $400 million by the Nov. 4, 2008, election. Candidates would want to raise as much of that money as early as possible, so as not to waste precious campaign time holding fundraisers.

All the more important to use a sitting official not running again to raise the capital.

Clearly, the GOP is running scared that they will lose political power and national control if they were to allow an honest election to occur. That is one reason why they are already going after Hillary. Here is another that frightens GOP strategists:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has a proven ability to raise money on a national scale, and if she runs for president in 2008 she will raise the stakes for competitors in both parties. One Republican 2008 operative, discussing campaign strategy on the condition of anonymity, said it would be "irresponsible" for a candidate to be thinking solely about spending needs for a primary election campaign without weighing "the consequences of what Hillary is bringing to the financial table and how quickly a potential nominee will have to turn his attention to dealing with her campaign."
"It's the organizational prowess and ability to put together a national organization to raise money that is the real test, and it's that ability that translates into dough," said an adviser to a potential 2008 Republican candidate.
For a front-runner, $100 million by Dec. 31, 2007, may be the goal, but candidates trying merely to become the main challenger face a lower hurdle. Ron Kaufman, who is helping Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) explore a bid, said the competition to become the challenger would require much less because $40 million to $50 million is more than enough to compete in the early caucuses and primaries. A victory early on would spark a financial outpouring to sustain the remainder of the campaign.

Kaufman's view was shared by supporters of Sen. Clinton, who is expected to have little trouble raising $100 million by the end of 2007 if she runs. The Clinton backers said a legitimate challenger to her would need to raise between $35 million and $40 million to finance strong campaigns in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early states.

But for all the talk about Hillary and how powerful she is economically, she has many fatal flaws. People just aren't very supportive of her candidacy. Progressives aren't going to like her support for the Iraq Oil War, and conservatives will blast her for changing her position on it.

Organized labor isn't necessarily in her corner, either. Will the unions 'forget' Hillary's six years as a Walmart director?

Hillary Clinton had kind words for Wal-Mart as recently as 2004, when she told an audience at the convention of the National Retail Federation that her time on the board "was a great experience in every respect."

And can we forget how she bungled her opportunity [PDF] to make Walmart's callous attitude toward employee health care a moot issue?

Message to the DINOs at the DNC: Tell Hillary "Thanks, but no thanks."

That goes for John Kerry as well. He may claim that losing in 2004 made him tougher, but that doesn't make him qualified to be the Democratic nominee in 2008.

Ditto for Al Gore, whose role as an elder statesman of the party, along with Jimmy Carter and Gary Hart, would be better served in creating a new generation of Democratic candidates that understand that the welfare of the American Commonwealth needs to come before partisanship and pettiness.

Speaking of partisan and petty, Arizona Sen. John McCain, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Virginia Sen. George Allen, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee all addressed the GOP’s Southern Regional Leadership Conference in Memphis.

Would that the SRLC does for the GOP what the DLC did for the Democrats!

But I digress.

At this prenatal stage of the 2008 battle, probably more important than the issues is the persona of each candidate. The Memphis jamboree is a prom date, an audition for the starring role, a chance to wow the delegates with charisma and passion.
Any of you women readers remember what was expected from you after the prom was over?
“Republican strategists will be looking for the person who can best connect with the early-adopting Republican activists,” said Republican strategist Patrick Davis.

ActivistS - plural.

Back in high school, we used to call such young women 'engineers', for they would drive the train that made the belles ring and the whistles blow!

But it seems that the First Prize - the Prom Queen of Queens - missed this event:

The Missing Man at Memphis: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll last month, is a favorite of Republicans, getting 33 percent with McCain right behind him at 28 percent and other GOP contenders trailing in single digits.

I guess Rudy the Philanderer had a better date lined up. One with money, perhaps?

One of the least known but most important dimensions of the early competition to raise cash is securing the support of men and women who have proven effective in the past at raising large sums -- usually from a well-tended network of business associates, corporate subordinates and clients. The 2004 Bush campaign designated these people as "Pioneers" (raised $100,000), "Rangers" ($200,000) and "Super Rangers" ($300,000).
A senior GOP strategist said these Bush backers undoubtedly are "being swarmed over" by the president's would-be successors.
Texas lawyer Thomas G. Loeffler, a Bush Ranger in 2004, has already signed on to help Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008; Northern Virginia real estate developer Dwight C. Schar, a Ranger in 2004, was on the host committee for a Super Bowl fundraiser to benefit Sen. George Allen (R-Va.).

But this time, GOP candidates are going to have to work hard for the money. The Pioneer$ - and other large donors - aren't very happy with Bu$hCo'$ Bidni$$ A$ U$ual approach:

With an anti-incumbent feeling on the rise, it’s not an especially good time to be a Washington figure, which may create an opening at Memphis for an outside-the-Beltway politico such as Romney. Republicans haven’t had this kind of free-for-all coming at the end of two-term GOP presidency since 1987.

Just as immigration has divided the nationalist wing of the Republican party from the libertarian wing, the Dubai ports deal has split the international trade constituency in the party from the nationalists. Worth watching in Memphis: Will any of the contenders be outspoken be in questioning the Dubai deal?

Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., a leading fiscal hawk, won’t be in Memphis to hear the speeches but does keep his finger on the pulse of GOP voters in his state. He points to another issue the grassroots Republicans are up in arms about: soaring federal spending. “As bad as the Democrats are, Republicans have not had the discipline” needed to stop the growth of federal outlays.

“On domestic issues it is vital that we have a nominee that will level with the American people and provide adult leadership when it comes to spending,” Feeney said.

And that's not all:

He added that “McCain has been terrific on earmark reform,” but said conservatives give the Arizona senator low marks for McCain-Feingold campaign spending bill that in their view restricts freedom of speech. Feeney said conservatives also unhappily recall that McCain joined the Senate Gang of 14 “that refused to restore the Senate’s rule of 51 votes” to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.

This means that the Bu$hCo Radical Republican Religiou$ types are still out for blood, and McCain has been hurt by them before. [More here.]

The Real Issue

If there is one issue facing America that will determine whether it can ever regain its democratic republic status, it is campaign financing. Until that issue is resolved for the benefit of the nation, those with the money will continue to run everything for their own benefit.

Case in point:

A group of lawmakers on Friday said an industrial bank owned by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, could threaten the stability of the U.S. financial system and drive community banks out of business.

The congressmen said the losses to the FDIC, which insures deposits at banks and thrift institutions, could be staggering if Wal-Mart begins to have financial troubles that bleed into its bank's business.

"Consider the consequences if Enron or WorldCom had owned a bank," the group said.

It would almost be as much as Neil Bu$h'$ Silverado Savings fiasco!

But who cares about mere consumers? The Havemore$ - er, The Walton Family isn't as rich as it used to be:

The Walton family, children of legendary Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, saw their considerable fortune decline this year. The family ranked Nos. 10 through No. 13 on last year's list, ranging from oldest son S. Robson Walton's $18.2 billion to daughter Helen Walton's $18.0 billion.

But the past year was not as kind, and the Walton family saw a collective $9.4 billion drop in net worth push them to Nos. 17 to 20 on the 2006 list. The death of Sam Walton's son, John, in a place crash also pushed daughter-in-law Christy into the No. 17 spot.

Consider that drop in net worth to be the Walton Family contribution to 'fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here'.

There was a recent (and nationally unhearalded) event which should place this whole issue into perspective for America's wealthy:

Rachel Mellon Walton: A grand, classy lady
Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The greatest accolade that can be paid to a person just passed is to pay homage to her class - not her position in society, but her core character.

That's what people the world over have been doing since the death of Rachel Mellon Walton was announced.

Mrs. Walton, 107 -- yes, 107 -- died Thursday in Pittsburgh. The daughter of Gulf Oil founder William Larimer Mellon, Walton was a grande dame of philanthropy, supporting a variety of causes that bettered humankind.

Most notable among her efforts was her generous financial support of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti, founded by her late brother Dr. William Larimer Mellon Jr.; her work with the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh and the Contact Pittsburgh Crisis Hotline, where she took her own turn at the telephones; and her dedication to conservation.

The most eloquent tribute we've seen to Mrs. Walton was the simplest, from her son, James Walton, the retired president of Carnegie Institute and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

"My mother was a classy lady who loved people and went out of her way to lend a hand to anyone who was hurting or needed help."

Instead of being a person who went out of her way to lend an economic hand to those who hurt or deny help to those in need? How LIBERAL!!!

Who could aspire to anything more?

Rest in peace, Rachel Mellon Walton. Your class and good works will be missed. Sorely.

Your diminishing kind will indeed be missed, Mrs. Walton. I hope that someday the wealthy of this nation will again see that Christian Light thing that you clearly saw, instead of that Chri$tian Rightwing. It's a shame that low-life, high-livin' scumbag relative of yours couldn't have learned to be more like you!

Don't care how big you are
I don't care what you worth
When it all ends up
You got to go back to Mother Earth
- Eric Burdon and War, Blues For Memphis Slim: Mother Earth

But enough with mourning the dead! Turn On That Red Light, Roxanne! It's Fundraisin' From The Living Time!

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