Holiday Party: Ogling the Oligarchs

Eyeballing the FCC boss gives one observer a look at the new owners of the Internet


You get some interesting jobs in D.C. around the holidays. Politicians using the season of giving to squeeze a little more giving out of a special interest or two, or playing Santa-and-his-elves with the wrong elves.

The ones who have to win an election are a little discreet, at least. Most of the dirty work happens much more out in the open, disguised as casual social meetings. Capitol hill staffers making a few extra bucks by casually introducing the Congressman to that lobbyist whose name no one wants on the visitor's record book.

Political, sexual and financial favors being paid back with more introductions and standup meetings by the hors d'œuvres where lists of possible winners of rich contracts are shortened from many names to just one, closed-door meetings behind someone else's doors, where recording devices and visitor records and the rules thick around normal "official business" are a little thinner.

This one wasn't too bad. Crash an FCC party and eyeball the boss -- Julian Genachowski -- to see which of the various constituencies that had contributed "ideas" to the net neutrality policy the agency just put out looked like they might be better friends of Julian's than was really appropriate.

I can always tell who's causing trouble for someone else and what the hot-potato issues are going to be for the next year by who someone pays me to watch at semi-public but exclusive holiday parties.

Sometimes I can land an invite, or merge with a Congressional entourage and let the tracings of power sweep me through the barriers.

Some are a little tougher. My client got an invite to the FCC holiday party for staff drones and "special friends" of the agency, but I didn't like the idea of using his or a cheap copy.

Little bar codes on the back meant the rent-a-cop, Secret-Service wannabes on the door would be scanning the invites and checking IDs against whatever privacy raping piles of personal data they'd been compiling into profiles.

I was pretty sure there was a thick profile on me in that database; I didn't relish the idea of helping them put a face or name on it.

Clients who are important enough for an invite are important enough for a permanent visitor pass.

I borrowed the client's pass -- a mag card much stupider than I'd expected from FCC. I cloned the important parts, filled in the rest with an identity that looked important but didn't exist and burned the new "me" onto a dummy card.

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