I had five seconds to make the secretive most powerful man in the world like me so I could potentially make millions. “James,” Bill McCluskey said to me, “this is Alan Quasha.” Bill was CEO of Brean Murray, one of the mini-banks I considered selling my fund of hedge funds to in 2006. We had a deal on the table and I was desperate at the time to make it work. The table was circular, there were papers on it with numbers, I was bullshitting every which way I could about “synergies”. Whatever. That was months later. But first I had to meet Alan Quasha, the owner of Brean Murray, at an event they were throwing, and he had to like me. Because…
Alan Quasha squinted his eyes, shook my hand. He had no idea who I was. I certainly wasn’t anything like George W. Bush, the man Quasha had personally saved in 1986. The man Bush owes his sobriety to. In 1986 Bush was CEO of some oil company that was going down in flames. Possibly the worst oil company in Texas history.
Some calls were made and Quasha’s Harken Oil bought Bush’s company for millions of dollars. Then, of course, a few years later, Bush sold his shares in Quasha’s Harkin Oil right before Harkin Oil announced a mega-loss and the stock tanked. Bush used his profits to buy a stake in the Texas Rangers, sold that stake later for 10-15 million dollars and was finally able to follow his father’s sage advice (“don’t go into politics until you get rich” ***).
Let’s spell out what that means: if Alan Quasha called up W on September 12, 2001 in the middle of Bush pouring over maps of the jungles of Afghanistan to see where we would invade (do they have jungles in Afghanistan? Do we really need an “h” in Afghanistan?), Bush would say “hold all calls”, close the doors of the Oval Office and say “Hi Daddy Number 2”, to Quasha. He owed his life, his livelihood, the Texas Rangers, the Presidency, all to Alan Quasha and now I was shaking Quasha’s hand. I had five seconds to make Alan Quasha like me almost as much as he liked Bush so he would buy my company. Why? Alan Quasha was Chairman of Brean Murray.
Fast-forward about ten seconds. Alan Quasha had moved on. Now I was being introduced to Terry Mcauliffe. Terry was the Vice-Chairman of Brean Murray. Terry was known in most circles as “Bill Clinton’s best friend”. Terry raised the bulk of the money for the two Presidential campaigns that Bill was in (the first, of course, where he crushed Bush, the Elder). I’m guessing Terry also raised the money for all of Hillary’s political races. If Chelsea Clinton ever ran for Mayor of New York (now that Weiner is out of the running so you never know) I bet Terry would raise all the money for her race as well.
So there you have it. The biggest mastermind in Republican politics, the behind the scenes mover and shaker across the entire Bush family, was Chairman of the company. And the biggest mover-and-shaker in Democrat politics, was Vice Chairman. The war of values, between Democracy and Republicanism that our founders had fought for, had shed blood for, was over between them, if it ever even existed. Screw “The Federalist Papers”! Let’s make some money!
You see why your vote is useless? Not only is it useless, it’s scary. A female friend of mine told me: “it was like the biggest orgasm I had felt in the past 10 years of my marriage” when Obama became President.
But then what happened? Obama extended Bush’s tax cuts, kept Bush’s Secretary of Defense, extended the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, didn’t close Guantanamo Bay, and fought for a healthcare that’s now being disputed (and overturned) in every court in America. What else has he done? I can’t think of it. Planned Parenthood has less government funding now than under Bush. Africa has less funding from the US than under Bush (in fact, Obama has bombed Africa / Libya).
And yet we all fought so much. “Palin is an idiot!” “Biden can’t speak straight!” “Where’s Obama’s birth certificate!” “Is McCain senile?”! “!”!”!” Let’s fight in the streets and pass out pamphlets and wear buttons and lose friends (“I can’t believe he’s voting for Nader!”) and stick on bumper stickers that can never be scratched off once we realize they are as embarrassing as that magic dragon tattoo we got lasered across our backs when we were 17.
We fought so hard for beliefs we all thought we had and where do they all end up? Where does it all congeal together right before it flushes down the toilet?
One is Chairman and the other is Vice-Chairman of the same company. They’re all laughing together. Slapping backs. Making Money. They are laughing at you and me, my friend. The war is over for them.
We voted them all in there, they served their time, and now they are minting money as if they own the printing press. I watched Quasha and McCaulliffe laugh, sitting next to each other when they used to pretend to be sitting so far apart.
They have no idea who I am, what I want out of life, what ideas I think are good or bad, or would save the world, or whatever. They were laughing as hard as they could just ten feet from me and I knew while I stood there watching them, hoping beyond hope that they would share some of the wealth, I knew that they were laughing at me.
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*** Net worth of most recent Presidents and Vice-Presidents (according to celebritynetworth.com)
- Barack Obama: $5 million (will probably end up around a billion)
- George W. Bush: $26 million
- Bill Clinton $85 million (my guess is this is understated by about $50-100 million.)
- George H.W Bush: $15 million (I think this is understated by about a billion)
- And now the big question: Al Gore versus Dick Cheney? Democrats versus Republicans. The winner is….
- Al Gore, coming in at $300 million with Dick Cheney at $90 million (don’t forget Gore was an advisor to Google since 2001 and on the Board of Apple. He also manages a billion dollar “green fund”). Al Gore’s net worth in 2001: $1 million.
To get a sense of how I edit you can see the original version of this post here.
[Update: someone asked on twitter, “whats the alternative?” My response on twitter: ” better if it was a true democracy (instead of a republic) and better if all advertising was banned except for equal air time as the president.” ]