Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Quest For Hollywood Cash & Caché

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks to supporters at a rally in Austin, Texas February 23, 2007. Image Credit: REUTERS/Peter A. Silva

The Quest For Hollywood Cash & Caché

It’s a small pond with a lot of very big and influential fish. Hollywood political money, for some on both sides of the process, is more about position and stature than the value of the money and the power it brings.

Rob Reiner, through his political appointment and failed attempts to direct how Californians live and pursue their lives, is only one example of the abuses that may take place when Hollywood money and influence meet up with the potential of placing someone with real political power into office … any office.

All one needs to do is review the events of the past week after a major fund raising event to see how important it is for liberals to court and carry the majority of the “Hollywood Cash & Caché”.

Excerpts from the World Socialist Web Site (a liberal insider’s POV) -

The “scramble for Hollywood:” the Democratic Party and entertainment industry liberals
By David Walsh - 24 February 2007

The squabble that erupted this week between the camps of Democratic Party senators and presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois might best be described as a skirmish in the “scramble for Hollywood.”

The dispute brought to the foreground a sordid reality of contemporary American politics: the general hustling for cash from corporate contributors and wealthy donors that dominates US election campaigns, and the role, in particular, of studio executives and other major figures in Hollywood in funneling tens of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party.

Two Democratic heavyweights for the 2008 presidential nomination - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama - decided to bring their arsenals into the open. And the first salvo has been fired by Clinton in response to remarks made by Obama fundraiser, David Geffen. Image Credit: EARTHTIMES

Clinton and Obama, along with the other Democrats, are presently battling over Hollywood’s treasure trove of campaign funds.

As everyone in America knows and the media brazenly acknowledges, winning the presidential nomination of one of the two major parties depends in large measure on collecting more money than any of your rivals. Success in fund-raising is the principal indication that you are a “serious” candidate. It both confirms that you have the backing of powerful corporate and financial figures, the people who count, and encourages further support from these circles.
During the Presidents’ Day recess of Congress this week, many politicians found themselves fund-raising in southern California. Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and Senator Joseph Biden, another presidential hopeful, were among those who held one or more events in the Los Angeles area.

Obama’s campaign grabbed the spotlight by organizing a $2,300-per-ticket Beverly Hills reception Tuesday evening, the most significant event this month, attended by film stars, studio executives and others. The affair raised some $1.3 million.

Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Ron Howard and Dixie Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines were reportedly among those who attended. Obama, according to press reports, told the mostly film industry crowd, “Don’t sell yourself short. You are the storytellers of our age.”

The Hillary Clinton-Obama dispute broke out the following day after remarks made by the host of the event, film and recording mogul David Geffen (along with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the founders of DreamWorks SKG), appeared in Maureen Dowd’s column in the New York Times. Geffen, who raised $18 million for Bill Clinton during his presidency, has thrown his support and considerable influence behind the Illinois junior senator and rival of Hillary Clinton. Geffen asserted that Hillary Clinton was “overproduced and overscripted,” according to Dowd. He criticized her for not apologizing for her 2002 vote in support of the Iraq war.

Dowd wrote that relations between Geffen and the Clintons ruptured in 2001, when the president, during his last hours in office, pardoned international commodities trader Marc Rich while refusing to free political prisoner Leonard Peltier, the American Indian Movement leader who was framed up for the deaths of two FBI agents in 1977.

Geffen commented, “Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for the things that they genuinely believe in. Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”

The Clinton camp quickly shot back and the battle of press releases was on.
The stakes are high for the Democratic candidates. According to Eric Alterman in the September 2004 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, “During the 2000 election cycle, zip-code areas on average yielded slightly more than $35,000 in political contributions, while residents of Beverly Hills, 90210, ponied up slightly more than $6.2 million. In the same year Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, and Brentwood were each good for $1.7 million to $3.3 million.

“In 2002 entertainment ranked first among all industries funding Democratic Party committees, and roughly 80 percent of the industry’s party contributions went to Democratic candidates and committees; just 20 percent went to the Republican Party. From 1989 up to the start of the current election cycle Hollywood had given the party nearly $100 million for federal elections alone—close to the $114 million Republicans received from their friends in the oil and gas industries. Together with organized labor and the trial bar, Hollywood is now one of the three pillars of the Democrats’ financial structure.”
The Hollywood elite is not a monolith. Film studio and entertainment industry executives, leaders of the handful of enormous conglomerates that largely determine what Americans and much of the world see on cinema and television screens and listen to on CD and radio, belong to the same financial-corporate oligarchy that has a stranglehold over every aspect of American life. These are multi-millionaires and billionaires who have a very large say in determining who should hold political office and protect their interests.

The Center for Responsive Politics notes that the film industry has specific issues which it pursues with the politicians it helps bankroll, including “trade, copyright protection and free speech concerns.” The CRP continues, “While many of the big-name stars give mainly for ideological reasons, the corporate executives who run the industry take a more pragmatic view in dispensing their campaign dollars.
“A perennial concern of the industry is copyright protection, particularly as it concerns the practice of sharing music and video files via the Internet.
The film industry executives lean toward the Democrats for cultural and political reasons. The success of their business in this day and age depends on a certain “permissiveness” in the social atmosphere. The dominance of the Christian Right, for example, would not be helpful to those often attempting to market violence and sexual suggestiveness, nor would it accord with the temperaments and lifestyles of writers, directors, actors and musicians by and large.
The economic concerns of studio chiefs and their general political inclinations merge and overlap with the outlook of the extremely well-heeled layers who make up the upper echelons of the film and music industry in Hollywood and organize support for the Democratic Party — figures like Geffen, Spielberg, Streisand, Rob Reiner, Laurie David (producer-comic Larry David’s wife) and others.

No doubt, in many cases, a sincere desire to see social reform and improve the general conditions of life motivates such people in supporting liberal politicians, as well as environmental and charitable causes.
However, this is a privileged layer that sees the world and the political process in the US through a thick haze. Its particular brand of liberalism is shaped by a terrible distance from the working population and its concerns, the degree to which it is shielded from everyday life in general by managers, assistants and intermediaries of every sort, and its essential satisfaction with its own lot.
The continued flow of Hollywood cash to the Democrats, whatever the motives or intentions of its organizers, is a deeply reactionary fact of American political life.
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At Maxine, we wonder why all of this Hollywood Cash & Caché can't be directed toward issues of self-reliance and the kind of social reform that leads toward self-determination in the pursuit of happiness here in America … what is so really wrong with that?

I was reminded this morning in a presentation at the church I am prone to attend … with all of the liberal bashing that George Bush gets for being “dumb”, one assumes that the point these people seem to be making is that they posses greater knowledge than others … any others, save themselves.

1 Corinthians 8:1 states that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” - I am beginning to think with the more I listen and watch to what is being said this last week in Los Angeles, that people from the upper echelons of the film and music industry in Hollywood like those who organize support for the Democratic Party - figures like Geffen, Spielberg, Streisand, Rob Reiner, Laurie David (producer-comic Larry David’s wife) and others feel they have great knowledge … but lack love.

The Oscars are on tonight so here at MAXINE we plan on tuning in to "feel the love".

NOTE: After watching last nights Oscar presentations ... the key to get Hollywood Democrat CASH a flowin'? ... one word - CRISIS!

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