Monday, November 16, 2009

The Battle for Pelf in D.C.

At noon, the weather was beautiful in Washington D.C. The temperature was about 70 degrees with low humidity. A perfect day to watch a protest. And, the gods blessed me, there was a protest. The National Political Action Network staged a protest against Goldman Sachs. A pig against pig battle, I thought. Fighting over taxpayer spoils.

So I headed down to the offices of Goldman Sachs at 101 Constitution Avenue Northwest.

Now the thing you need to know about D.C. is that north, south, east and west are divided by the Capitol. So 101 northwest Constitution Avenue, I'm sure just by coincidence, is the closest private office complex to the Capitol Building. You can't get closer. If it wasn't for the expansive west lawn of the Capitol, I'm sure the Capitol and Goldman would be in buildings next to each other. They would be so close that Congressmen and Goldmanites could probably share a restroom.

But today, it would be a sidewalk, with the Capitol merely a backdrop, a short distance away.

The crowd was small, maybe 200 hundred, and I am guessing most of those were employees and volunteers of NPAN and SEIU. Yes, SEIU and NPAN seem to be buddies these days. The protest was really staged mostly for the cameras. They put on a helluva a show.

They even had a minister. Since Lloyd Blankfein had said Goldman was doing "God's work", the minister clearly announced that this was not so. Everyone cheered.

There was a guy walking around with a protest hat that said "I did not vote for this Obamanation." NPAN people quickly moved-in to push him away from being in the background of where television cameras were filming. A guy in an SEIU t-shirt shook his head in disgust and said to no one in particular, "Whatever happened to free speech?" I wondered if he knew that SEIU president Andy Stern, who was about to speak, had visited President Obama 22 times at the White House.

In fact, there were anti-Stern protesters at the protest. The Americans for Tax Reform and the Alliance for Worker Freedom were there to announce that they had formally requested an investigation by the acting U.S. Attorney, Channing D. Phillips, into the potentially illegal lobbying activities of Stern, specifically with regard to his many visits to the White House.

But the show went on, Stern spoke, then someone announced that they were going to deliver a letter to Goldman Sachs demanding that Goldman turn over their entire bonus money over to those who are facing foreclosure etc. Stern proceeded to walk towards the entrance to the Goldman building with the poster size letter.

Goldman sent down, accompanied by guards, some poor secretary who looked like she was somewhere between very confused and scared out of her wits. If anyone has ever done "God's work" at Goldman it was this poor woman, while Goldman execs were what? Hiding under their desks?

But the show was about to close after Stern handed over the poster letter to the secretary. That's when I made my move.

Stern was just standing there, so I went and showed him the flyer the anti-Stern protesters were handing out. It was a copy of the press release calling for Stern to be investigated. I asked him if he was aware of the call for an investigation. He said he had seen the release that morning on the "hot air blog." "The hot air blog, exactly where it belongs," he continued. He gave out a big laugh. His laugh is kind of a big buddy-buddy laugh. It engulfs you.

Since we were now buds, I then asked him, "So what do you and the president really talk about?"

Suddenly, I think we lost our bonding. He told me, "He was busy now." He turned and put his arm around a black woman opposite me wearing an SEIU t-shirt and started talking to her.


  1. Wenzel,

    You were the only honest man amongst them.

    The United States of America: A Tragicomedy

  2. Good to see some pictures of the protest and read your blog as always.