Yesterday El Grande Hefe de First Draft wrote about the early political obituaries for Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema. Today I come here, in the words of Shakespeare, not to praise her but to bury her.
In an American Oak wine barrel filled with Sonoma Chardonnay.
Sinema of course has gained fame and notoriety for basically telling all the folks who helped her get elected, both the political classes of the Democratic Party and the good citizens of Arizona who voted for her, that her idea of being a maverick is to do everything she can to prevent the implementation of laws designed to give people the certainty that elections will be held in fair and honorable means. She wants to muck up every chance her party has to turn the hatred of Trump into a solid watershed moment to beat down incipient fascism and create an America where all truly are created equal. She wants to in effect take a parliamentary procedure not mentioned in the Constitution, something not even codified till near 50 years after the Constitution was written, and make it a permanent fixture of congressional debate going forward.
In other words she just loves her some filibuster.
You shouldn’t be surprised. If you have followed her career in politics at all she is the winner of the “Most Likely To Say One Thing But Do Another” award. I mean this is the woman who ran as a moderate Democrat wanting to help the poor of her state then showed up on the floor of the Senate dressed like a teenager heading out to the mall to squash the $15 per hour minimum wage. Not that I have any statistics to back it up but I have a feeling many of the people who voted for her could have really used an upgrade in their minimum wages to help with things like, oh I don’t know, food, shelter, clothing. Especially in the middle of a global pandemic. But hey, she made all Gen Xers yearn for the good old days of Debbie Gibson.
Now I know it’s hard to believe, but we here in Sonoma have a tie to the peripatetic Ms. Sinema. One that is, to say the least, a bit strange. You see, back in the summer of 2020, the Senator from Arizona spent two weeks here in Sonoma as a paid intern at the Three Sticks Winery just a few blocks from my house. How I never ran into her I don’t know. It’s a small town and word of strangers with big names gets around quick.
Let that sink in for a moment. A United States Senator, making a salary of $170K a year, decided to take two weeks off and go learn how to scrub out wine barrels. Not only that, but she got paid $1117.40 per week for the privilege. A quick bit of math shows that means she was paid $28 per hour, nearly twice the minimum wage she voted against. She did it in the middle of a pandemic, five months before the rollout of the initial COVID vaccine, and in the middle of a presidential and congressional election that just might have been the most consequential in the history of the country. I’m sure some of her constituents would have liked her to have been working on programs to save their jobs or even their lives. I’m sure the Democratic Party would have liked her to have gone out stumping for congressional candidates to shore up their House majority or to swing into some swing states to help Joe Biden.
Instead with all that going on she decided to take a couple of weeks off to leave the humidity of Washington and the “but it’s a dry heat” of Arizona to come up to the warm during the day, cold at night temps of Sonoma to learn the ins and outs of winemaking. It shouldn’t be surprising though. Sinema had been called out before the pandemic for missing critical senate votes so she could compete in Ironman Triathlons in such nearby locales as New Zealand. At least the winery was in the US.
But she wore her Ironman garb even better than Tony Stark and that’s all that really matters in the end.
More on this rather strange story by clicking the link
Lets talk a little about Three Sticks Winery. Three Sticks Winery is owned by Bill Price, the founder “emeritus” of TPG Capital, a private equity firm currently managing $109B for their investors. They may not be as famous as some of the other Silicon Valley vulture capitalists, but they are still one of the largest. They seem to specialize in disrupter companies and it appears they take their love of upsetting the economic apple cart to the political world as well. So that’s where the money to support this little side venture winery comes from. Nothing that unusual, most of the newer wineries in both Sonoma and Napa are owned by wealthy individuals looking to squirrel some of their fortunes away in a tax saving, money losing, oh so fun to spend the weekend at location in the Wine Country. Is the wine any good? Eh, not so much. It’s not bad, but it’s not something to write home to your sommelier about.
By the way, the winery is called Three Sticks in honor of it Bill Price’s surfer nickname. You know, as in the fact that his full name is William S. Price III. What? Did you think he rose to the heights of the vulture capitalist world on his hard work and bootstrap philosophy only? But I’m sure he never dipped into principal to fund his fund.
A major focus of Bill Price’s political viewpoint is structured around preventing the Ending the Carried Interest Loophole Act from passing. Simply put, currently hedge fund managers (he and his buddies) pay only capital gains taxes on the income generated by their businesses, a far lower tax rate then if it was declared to be their salary. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the bill would raise more than $63 billion over 10 years, which would go a long way to paying for the Build Back Better Bill. It’s one of those make the rich pay their fair share laws that progressives love and Repugnicants hate.
Guess who opposes the Ending the Carried Interest Loophole Act? If you said Winery Intern Krysten Sinema from Tucson Arizona well then I bet you don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, and San Bernardino.
I’m sure the giant fundraiser she held at Three Sticks just a week after the ending of her “internship” has nothing to do with it. The same way the hundreds of thousands of dollars the pharmaceutical industry has funneled her way has nothing to do with her opposing the budget reconciliation bill that contained the Democrats’ drug pricing plan, the plan that was estimated to save the government between $450 and $700 billion over 10 years, another chunk to pay for Build Back Better. The same way she opposes any bill that can even vaguely be considered making the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. Yeah in general, she opposes raising taxes on the wealthy in any manner, shape or form. She thinks the tax code is just peachy keen the way it is and probably wouldn’t mind doing away with taxes on anyone making more than a middle class income. If the poor, the working class, the middle class want to pay less taxes they should just make enough money to get up into the rarified air of the wealthy just like she did.
Which brings up her backstory which seems to be vary depending on who she’s talking to. In her campaign bio she goes on about how she came from poverty, lived in a car at one point, then an abandoned gas station without water, electricity, or heat, before she bootstrapped her way to a bachelor’s from BYU and a master’s from Arizona State. Except her mother and step father contradict most of the story, saying they never lived in a car, the gas station was a building they were renovating into a house, and that they lived a pretty middle class lifestyle, especially with the child support her attorney biological father provided.
So basically Krysten Sinema is the prototypical political shapeshifter. Whichever way the money blows that’s where she goes. Having to please her and Senator Manchinnychinchin in order to get anything done is providing Chuck Schumer with an agita he doesn’t deserve. Having her serving in the United States Senate at all is something Americans shouldn’t have to put up with. Will you be shocked when so much of that campaign money she has raised (estimated at $6M as of the moment) ends up in her own bank account? I won’t be.
One last thing. Most wineries in both Sonoma and Napa are flooded with pleas from students wanting to intern during the summer. The viticulture department at UC Davis, America’s preeminent university when it comes to enology, is filled with students who beg to work the entire summer at a winery FOR FREE in order to get the experience. Ultimately though, space is limited. The idea of paying a sitting United States Senator $1117.40 a week to be an intern is a slap in the face of all those eager, hardworking students who are trying to bootstrap their way into the business of wine. Shame on you Bill Price for paying her, and shame on you Krysten Sinema for shoving some deserving student out the crush pad door. I truly hope the good citizens of Arizona do the same to you come re-election time.
I’ll leave you with a song from a real Sonoma resident that seems to sum up Sinema’s political style.