‘A Kind Of Madness’

‘A Kind Of Madness’

“We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Citi’s head of global government affairs, Candi Wolff, told employees, in a memo.

Citi is one of three major Wall Street banks pausing political contributions following last week’s events on Capitol Hill. Goldman and JPMorgan will also suspend donations.

Marriott International, which has ties to Mitt Romney, took aim at specific wallets, cutting donations to any GOP candidates who opposed the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. “We have taken the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election into consideration and will be pausing political giving from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokesperson said.

Read more: ‘It’s Not Clear What He May Do’: America Ponders Perilous Final Days Of Trump Presidency

Likewise, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Commerce Bank said they won’t financially support any member of Congress who opposed the certification of the election results. “We continuously evaluate our political contributions to ensure those we support share our values and goals,” Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Kim Keck remarked. “In light of this week’s violent, shocking assault on the United States Capitol, and the votes of some members of Congress to subvert the results of November’s election by challenging Electoral College results, BCSBA will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy.”

When considered in conjunction with the steps taken by Twitter, Apple, Google, and Amazon on Friday and over the weekend, the message is clear. Or, rather, it’s more accurate to say that the message corporate America heard from the president and his supporters was clear. That message was: “This is not a drill.”

For lack of a better way to describe the situation, there is now palpable concern in many corners that between the president, the GOP lawmakers who supported overturning the election (some of whom even exhorted Mike Pence to unilaterally throw out Biden’s electors, something Pence refused to do), and Trump’s most ardent supporters, the country is still at risk — and not just of succumbing to soft autocratic rule. But of being literally commandeered. I’d note the obvious, which is that such a thing is a logistical impossibility without military buy-in, but the fact that it’s come to this is extraordinary.

The “science fiction” scenario discussed (and preemptively lamented) in these pages at length on numerous occasions in September and October has unfolded, only on a delay. Thankfully, the government has held up — so far, anyway.

But the fact that corporations are cutting off contributions to specific lawmakers, indicates that corporate management teams believe those members of Congress are a threat to the country’s democracy. There’s no other way to put it. Indeed, some of the companies are making no secret of it. When you say, as Blue Cross Blue Shield did, that some lawmakers “voted to undermine our democracy,” you are, almost by definition, accusing those lawmakers of… well, you can fill in the blank. I’ve endeavored to eschew alarmist rhetoric where possible, and I will continue to refrain in that regard, even as C-suite executives no longer feel the need to dance around the issue.

On Sunday evening, in a letter to Democrats, Nancy Pelosi described next steps. On Monday morning, Steny Hoyer will request unanimous consent to bring up a resolution calling on Pence to activate the 25th Amendment. In short, Pelosi wants Pence to “immediately exercise powers as acting President.”

“If we do not receive Unanimous Consent, this legislation is planned to be brought up on the Floor the following day,” she went on to say, adding that “we are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours. Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”

In remarks to NBC, prominent Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who also spoke to CNN on Sunday, elaborated on his rationale for recommending Trump resign.

“After the election, he took this to an entire different place, orders of magnitude different. I mean, come on,” Toomey said, speaking to Chuck Todd. “The president spiraled down into a kind of madness.”


24 thoughts on “‘A Kind Of Madness’

  1. Thank goodness there are some corporate elites who are announcing in public these decisions. (No sarcasm.) And, over a weekend. Good, early steps from corporate America. I hope we continue to see more such outpourings of awareness in the upcoming days, weeks, and months…and, dare I say, years (sigh).

    1. Stripe, for online payments via credit card, is halting payment processing services for Mr. Trump’s campaign. This is a material addition to what we can only hope will become a corporate cacophony.

  2. I suspect we know only a small fraction of this story. The more I continue to dig, the worse it appears. In addition to the mostly disingenuous face-saving moves by so many, again, I stress that a great deal of others, including respected people outside of politics, are not only not expressing their disavowal and dismay, they are actually going out of their way to belittle the event, and now more recently also acting as hubristically amateur First Amendment experts, wondering out loud when the thought-censors will “come for them”. It is a stunning lack of self-awareness and responsibility; which isn’t to say that any new laws or regulations shouldn’t first of course be very carefully deliberated. This is a very dark state of affairs. I can’t say I am optimistic it’s going to improve. Soon, Trump will reach martyrdom in their eyes.

  3. What’s different about these politicians today from last week? Last week they still opposed the election and these C-suite execs still supported them financially. All of this is a public relations ploy to make it seem like these companies are ethical when in fact, they were fine supporting the unethical up and to the point that the general consensus was, defecating on the Capitol isn’t a value we support. So we should all just go ahead and exert a gigantic eyeroll at these faux displays of “Corporate Responsibility”.

    If these “leaders” truly were concerned with “values” they would have cut these people off BEFORE a well orchestrated mob attempted to kidnap the leaders of the first branch of government and was executed in broad daylight. The signs were always there, they just chose to pretend not to notice them.

    I for one am unimpressed.

    1. I’m honestly against CSR.

      The only value corporations should have is to make money, as much as possible, within a long time frame (“long term greedy”).

      It is for the laws and industry-specific regulations to ensure that the actions of corporations are constrained by society’s values and public good imperatives.

      1. Disagree. Profit maximaztion should not be the ne plus ultra for corporations. UChicao nonsense. As a legally-sanctioned structure embedded in a socially-constructed web of relationships, corporations’ moreal, ethical, and environmental obligations extend far beyond profit maximazation.

        1. I would agree with fredm421 except for the fact that corporations are considered the equal to flesh and blood folks under present supreme court rulings, and they exert force on our politics through direct contributions and influence. The outlook leave them to make money just is not the way the world works. It is an ivory tower type of viewpoint which just does not cut it in the real world.

          1. Ah, that’s a very good point Ria.

            FWIW, I am also totally against the personalisation of corporations made up by SCOTUS in recent years.

            Corporate personhood is a useful little fiction for legal and liabilities matter but corporations aren’t people, money is not free speech etc.

            Basic common sense stuff… sadly often missing from highly motivated political agents on SCOTUS and elsewhere.

        2. Without consequences and accountability what incentive does any corporation have to enact corporate responsibility? Especially when they are being monetarily incentivized to do the exact opposite?

          “If God does not exist then anything is permissible. ”
          – Dostoevsky

          That’s not to say that I believe God is the moral requirement for anyone to do the right thing, but it is to say without someone acting as an authority to counter natural human selfishness, morals are easily forgotten.

          1. The fact that we have laws and regulations, enforced at gunpoint if needed?

            If it wasn’t the case, corporations would practice piracy, “capitalism as God intended it”, I think someone joked once?

            The East India Company is not a model I would recommend. I do think corporations need to be oversought carefully and closely.

            Indeed, because monetary incentives run contrary to other worthwhile goals such as environmental preservation, customers’ and workers’ health and safety etc., I have no confidence in businesses to self regulate. I want others, without monetary incentives (governments, regulation agencies etc) to do it for them.

            In case it isn’t clear, I have no trust whatsoever in corporations and corporate leaders to do the ‘right thing’ if money is on the line. My argument is that no one should expect them to and it is foolish to do so. So rather than refining CSR implementation, I’d rather it’d be dropped entirely and we face the reality : corporations are greedy monsters we need to keep on very tight leashes.

      2. I agree with you, to a point. Government regulation can be a means to ensure social corporate responsibility is being enacted within a specific industry or as a penalty requirement for a specific company that has demonstrated an inability to self govern social corporate responsibility. However, the government regulation agencies have, at least recently, been enabling corporate greed more than they have been acting on behalf of societal constituents. So obviously laws and regulations, that is to say regulators, are only as reliable as the people who are appointed to ensure they are followed. I don’t have any faith in either at this point.

        1. Another fair point. But it would help if the public wasn’t constantly electing people convinced government is the problem and that it must be drown in a bathtub.

          The world is what it is. Maybe CSR is the best we can do when half of the population think government officials are all conspiring to… provide them with free healthcare or somesuch horror?

          But, in the abstract, I’m against it. Corporations make money, governments make rules for them to follow. “A chacun son boulot et les vaches seront bien gardées”

      3. I grew up instructed in the neoliberal laissez faire school of thought and did not question it much. However, I now think a lot of what we are seeing currently is an unintended outgrowth of that. We effectively cut out the rungs from under the most vulnerable in our society while we happily outsourced and shipped their employment overseas in the pursuit of profit maximization.

        I remember reading an article by a leading neoliberal economist giving a glossed over mea culpa about not appreciating the human cost on some people in our society who were unable to leave those hollowed out geographies and retrain to join the flowering parts on the economy. I recall thinking ” yeah, a little bit of an oops for you but a life altering event for those effected individuals”.

        The profit maximization quest undermined a lot of our social compact. We need to change that. Germany has managed to keep their economy robust while making social outcomes an integral part of their corporate governance. We should be able to do something similar.

        1. I think you’ll find that rules and regulations are pretty important in Germany : https://www.mondaq.com/germany/corporate-and-company-law/739368/doing-business-in-germany-what-you-should-know

          Again, I’m very much the opposite of laissez faire. This, because I do not believe in the moral sense of our corporate leaders.

          Basically, because humans are greedy, untrustworthy pieces of sh*t, I want strong, independent regulations (even if, of course, we must make it as easy as possible for businesses to do legal things and to innovate. So there’s definitely a balance and a dialogue to be had but don’t believe for a second that business leaders have any interests beyond lining their own pockets).

          1. Exactly. B/C corporate masters of the universe are the same everywhere. They want to make money, lots and lots of it. It’s pretty pointless to expect them to be also upstanding moral beings.

      4. I have no problem with CSR. It does no harm and may occasionally do some good. It also makes it easier to call the corporation to account when they (often) do not live up to the standards they purport to aspire to.

        What it clearly should NOT be is an alternative to effective laws and regulation. This is the meat of the solution, CSR is merely a garnish.

        1. Another fair point, and I wouldn’t mind that, though I think the issue is too many then believe CSR is a serious thing rather than some tasteless/harmless (depending on specific cases) PR.

  4. Money flow is the only communique many politicians will understand. They tailor messages to attract attention and donor/sponsors, and adjust their messages to reflect new realities. Unfortunately, the Trumpist reality of the past several years insisted on a far right messaging just to survive the GOP primaries. With Trumpism not yet fading, and corporate heads turning away, they find they are in conflict.

    re: @fredm421 – I will not agree nor disagree with your position, but clearly to some CEOs the long-term profit picture will improve with politicians who show respect for the Constitution. I would agree with that position and allocate my political sponsorships accordingly, were I wearing such shoes.

  5. While some might brand the corporate bail on political giving to those who took wrong positions on the election, this is not an expression of some kind of selfless ethics. ANY political contributions by any company to any party or individual are simply selfish expressions of greed and a desire to tilt the economic playing field in the donor’s direction, no more, no less.

  6. Industrial capitalism eating itself from the rust belt inward and outwards. The infection that UofC economics plagued the world with has come home to roost. The acceptable level of greed is ad infinitum, and the tax base is firmly zeroed in on an industrial working family. Germany had high productivity because the human cost of social capitalist relations maintains a line item in the algorithm. Not so in the land of liberty; architect of mass production and the moderne city-state. Now the automaton pilots our creations into the ether, ashes to ashes dust to dust. Welcome to the new world order. Skynet meets 1984 meets psychofascist capitalism

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