In the line-up of corrupt people and corporations who populate the rogue’s gallery related to Wall Street’s pillaging of the world economy, you’d have a hard time coming up with more perfect villains than Goldman Sachs (GS) and its CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
There does not appear to be any depth which would seem too low for Goldman Sachs to sink in pursuit of tainted profits, and for which Blankfein could not offer some justification for doing do.
If there is a sleazy elected official out there who is trying to sell off a publicly owned toll road or municipal parking meter system to the highest bidder no matter how much such a deal might soak the taxpayers, chances are Goldman Sachs will have a hand in it somewhere. If there was some sort of double dealing to be uncovered in the financial meltdown that began in 2008, there is a very real chance that Goldman Sachs will have been in the middle allegedly playing both sides of a deal against one another for its own profits, including screwing any number of public pension funds in shady deals involving tainted collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) laced with bad mortgages sold as top grade investments.
Goldman Sachs is, after all, the company about which investigative financial journalist Matt Taibbi famously wrote in July 2009 in Rolling Stone, “The first thing you need to know about [GS] is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.”
So imagine everyone’s surprise when none other than our own Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that it was making a deal with the devil in the form of a partnership of sorts with Blankfein. Under the banner of its American’s For Marriage Equality effort, HRC got a video in which Blankfein issues some late-to-the-party bromides about marriage equality.
What do GS and Blankfein get from the deal? Goldman Sachs, one of the worst corporations in the world, gets a listing as a Bronze Partner (still well under Platinum, Gold and Silver partners). But, most of all, Blankfein and his company get to be humanized at very little financial cost and without a single bit of evidence that it will change its financial dealings that helped to bring the world economy to its knees and bankrupt untold numbers of other non-profits that have gone out of business since the economic meltdown began. Existing non-profits, including HRC, are still paying the price of Goldman Sachs’ venality.
Joe Solmonese and HRC prove once again to those of us who’ve defended them all these years against charges of being soulless corporate and political shills how wrong we may have been in dismissing HRC critics as not understanding politics in the real world. No less than Taibbi himself said in a Rolling Stone blog post, “This is an extremely unfortunate error by the HRC, which in making Blankfein a spokesman for this important political campaign has allowed one of the most relentless enemies of the poor and the disadvantaged to use the gay and lesbian community to buy moral credibility. What’s most distressing about this decision is that the HRC has decided to honor and celebrate the CEO of a company with an extensive record of promoting inequality and preying upon ordinary working people.”
Added Taibbi: “There is a long tradition of Wall Street predators mesmerizing the liberal press through their advocacy—often sincere advocacy—of socially liberal causes. …Crossover types like Bob Rubin, another former Goldman head who made it fashionable for a depraved finance pirate to vote Democratic, paved the way for the modern phenomenon of corrupt financiers escaping media scrutiny through the careful nurturing of good-guy images through advocacy on issues like environmentalism and gay rights.”
Solmonese has a history of this sort of thing, not least when he was at Emily’s List and allowed (then) closet case founder Ellen Malcolm to endorse anti-LGBT political candidates under the guise of real world political decision-making. At that time I gave Solmonese a pass, even though his justifications didn’t completely pass the smell test.
I’ve decided, however, that the Blankfein decision is the deciding factor in turning me from a staunch HRC supporter into someone who will now scrutinize its every move with a more critical eye toward what is best of our community, as opposed to what makes HRC and its functionaries feel important.
As for Solmonese, who is leaving to be one of many co-chairs of the Obama re-election campaign: good riddance to self-serving political trash.