Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Strange Co-Signers

I was traveling and did not notice last week that FireDog Lake's Jane Hamsher and the Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist have co-signed a letter calling for an investigation of President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

Jane Hamsher has been one of the most thorough and tenacious progressive bloggers out there, for a long time, a true lefty. I admit that when I saw her on Rachel Maddow's show a couple of months ago I developed a bit of a crush on her, she turns out to be beautiful and articulate and funny in person, too. Grover Norquist, on the other hand, is a key conservative strategist, he's the guy who said, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." She represents the "left of the left" -- the term used by a "senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity" talking to the Washington Post a while back -- and Norquist represents the right of the right. The fact that they went in together on this is remarkable, to say the least.

Here's their letter:
December 23, 2009

Attorney General of the United States of America
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write to demand an immediate investigation into the activities of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the cover up of potential malfeasance until the 10-year statute of limitations has run out.

The purpose of this letter is to connect the dots to establish both the conduct of Mr. Emanuel and those working with him to thwart inquiry, and to support your acting speedily so that the statute of limitations does not run out before the Justice Department is able to empanel a grand jury.

The New York Times reports that the administration is negotiating to double the commitments to Fannie and Freddie for a total of $800 billion by December 31, in order to avoid the congressional approval that would be needed after that date. But there currently is no Inspector General exercising independent oversight of these entities. Acting Inspector General Ed Kelly was stripped of his authority earlier this year by the Justice Department, relying on a loophole in a bill Mr. Emanuel cosponsored and pushed through Congress shortly before he left for the White House. This effectively ended Mr. Kelly’s investigation into what happened at Fannie and Freddie.

Since that time, despite multiple warnings by Congress that having no independent Inspector General for a federal agency that oversees $6 trillion in mortgages is a serious oversight, the White House has not appointed one.

We recognize that these are extremely serious accusations, but the stonewalling by Mr. Emanuel and the White House has left us with no other redress. A 2003 report by Freddie Mac’s regulator indicated that Freddie Mac executives had informed the board of their intention to misstate the earnings to insure their own bonuses during the time Mr. Emanuel was a director. But the White House refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request from the Chicago Tribune for those board minutes on the grounds that Freddie Mac was a “commercial” entity, even though it was wholly owned by the government at the time the request was made.

If the Treasury approves the $800 billion commitment to Fannie and Freddie by the end of the year, it will mean that under the influence of Rahm Emanuel, the White House is moving a trillion-dollar slush fund into corruption-riddled companies with no oversight in place. This will allow Fannie and Freddie to continue to purchase more toxic assets from banks, acting as a back-door increase of the TARP without congressional approval.

Before the White House commits any more money to Fannie and Freddie, we call on the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department to begin an investigation into the cause of Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship, into Rahm Emanuel’s activities on the board of Freddie Mac (including any violations of his fiduciary duties to shareholders), into the decision-making behind the continued vacancy of Fannie and Freddie’s Inspector General post, and into potential public corruption by Rahm Emanuel in connection with his time in Congress, in the White House, and on the board of Freddie Mac.

We also call for the immediate appointment of an Inspector General with a complete remit to go after this information.

We both come from differing political ideologies. One of us is the conservative head of a transparency foundation, and the other is the publisher of a liberal political blog. But we make common cause today out of grave concern for the future of our country in the wake of corruption-riddled bailouts. These bailouts continue to rob Main Street to benefit Wall Street, and, because of that, we together demand the resignation of Mr. Emanuel, a man who has steadfastly worked to obstruct both oversight and inquiry into the matter. Rahm Emanuel’s conflicts of interest render him far too compromised to serve as gatekeeper to the President of the United States.

We will lay out the details further below, and are available at your earliest convenience to meet with you directly.

Jane Hamsher

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Jane Hamsher, Grover Norquist Call for Rahm Emanuel’s Resignation

It is hard to imagine an alliance forming between progressives who want to see a powerful government that protects its citizens from corporate greed and works toward world peace and conservatives who want to bolster the interests of big business and shrink government. But both sides have expressed intense disappointment at the action of the current administration so far.

The best analysis I've seen of this particular alliance between left and right appeared on Ellen's Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog. I recommend reading the whole thing. One point that jumped out at me:
Progressive populists argue that you have to fight the large corporate interests to achieve reform. Conservative populists argue that you have to fight big government to keep taxes down.

She describes how these messages have been appropriated by powerful groups, delegitimizing them as populist positions, though they are opinions held by a great number of Americans. The problem is that the only force that can control corporate greed is government regulation, and to reduce government you have to move responsibility to the private sector, e.g., corporations that are motivated by profits. So while the vast majority of ordinary citizens would like to see minimal government interference with their personal liberties, lower taxes, and a competitive marketplace that drives prices down and quality up, there are two polarized viewpoints about how to get to that point. And these days the messages for those viewpoints are controlled by government and corporate propagandists, so the populist plea is effectively drowned out.

The conservative teabaggers might carry signs demanding their country back, but progressives also feel that the vision of the Founding Fathers is being undermined as the Obama administration measures its decisions against a centrist position that is held only by voters who aren't paying attention. It is possible to look at a piece of legislation or a new policy with the question in mind, will it affect me? And if it doesn't, it is possible to shrug your shoulders and accept whatever Washington does as some kind of inevitable background noise. I am not affected if gay government employees don't get benefits for their partners, it doesn't affect me if we bomb innocent Pakistani villagers with drones, I won't really feel it personally if corporations getting gigantic bailout donations from taxpayers give their undeserving CEOs ridiculous bonuses. That is the position that Obama seems to weigh his positions against, the position held by the majority of Americans who are too busy living their lives to pay close attention to Washington politics. Meanwhile, those who are honestly interested in the integrity of government feel they are being undermined, left and right. The press can call them extremists, but they are the people who are paying attention, and the administration has alienated progressives and conservatives alike.

I am not in a position to judge whether Rahm Emanuel is the guy to go after here to get things back on track, but it is significant to see these two individuals, representing opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, co-signing a letter demanding accountability from the White House.


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Not to put a damper on the possbily justifiable concerns, but I suspect (but do not know for sure) that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to Fannie Mae. It would certainly apply had Fannie Mae not been privatized.

Yet another reason why Fannie and Freddie never should have been privatized in the first place.

December 29, 2009 3:44 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Jane Hamsher says: Rahm claims he just “doesn’t remember” what happened during that time, but the White House turned down the Tribune’s FOIA request for the board minutes and correspondence from the time Rahm was there. They claimed it was “commercial information,” even though at the time of the request Freddie was wholly owned by the federal government.

Their argument then is going to be that since Fannie Mae was part of the government at the time the information that they are seeking was generated, it should be subject to FOIA requests. I'm no lawyer but there is a kind of sense to it.


December 29, 2009 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

'Former Lesbian' apparently disappears with the child in the Miller-Jenkins child custody case in Virginia

The latest court ruling gives custody to the gay parent, and apparently the 'ex-gay' parent has disappeared rather than follow that order.

Liberty Counsel's (as in Liberty University) own Matt Staver is the lawyer in this case; he has so far decined to comment.

Staver et. al. used this dispute as a test case for Virginia's anti-marriage amendment; they were overruled by both the Vermont and Virginia Supreme Courts (I suspect on the basis of a Federal law which prohibits 'venue-shopping' in custody disputes).

I think, myself, that from the child's point of view, this is a horrible situation. Children are the real victims when parents find their differences so irremedial.


December 30, 2009 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats, frightened as all get out by Sarah Palin, have tried as hard as all get out to give her the Dan Quayle treatment.

Can you say "backfire badly"?

"(Dec. 29) -- The president is always under a microscope, so it's natural that he dominates the news throughout the year. That's especially true for the first year of a young president who was swept into office on the promise of change. But if anyone rivaled President Barack Obama this year when it came to making headlines and consistently eliciting strong reactions from all sides, it was the woman who hoped to be vice president.

In many ways, 2009 was the Year of Sarah Palin.

Hardly a day went by when Palin wasn't getting some kind of attention – for better or worse – on TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter, as well as news outlets and blogs across the spectrum. For anyone in the business of attracting an audience, Palin and her family were the gift that kept on giving all year long."

She changed the health care bill, altering the debate by posting on Facebook about the danger of death panels.

She urged the President not to go to Copenhagen and he ignored her advice to his chagrin.

She began a non-partisan era by declaring she would campaign for any candidate who supported her principles, regardless of party, and singlehandedly ended a Republican's race for Congress in NY.

She outfoxed her opponents by resigning as governor of Alaska when liberals from across the country were travelling to the 49th state and threatening her ability to govern with voluminous and frivolous ethics challenges.

That really enraged the liberals.

She wrote a book that sold more than a million copies.

Across the country, long lines formed overnight for a chance to have her sign a copy.

She appeared on Oprah, giving that show its highest rating in two years.

She was named one of the ten most fascinatin' people by Barbara Walters for the second year in a row.

Even her attackers made her look good: Levi Johnston, the porn star, insulting her family values; David Letterman, dirty old man making vile jokes about her underage daughter; Arnold Swarzenegger, yelling form the global warming ship that had just hit an iceberg and was going down.

It was all good for Sarah Palin.

She's a female version of Ronald Reagan, the "teflon" President.

Maybe she'll make Dan Quayle her running mate in 2012.

Liberals deserve it.

December 30, 2009 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous"...perfect example of your "screw America" agenda...let the two imbeciles run the country just so you can get your ounce of revenge against liberals. But then...what else is new?

December 30, 2009 3:42 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Back to the original post, I don't think that Freddie was owned by the United States Government when Emanuel was on its board. But I might be wrong.

December 30, 2009 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"let the two imbeciles run the country just so you can get your ounce of revenge against liberals"

this guy is a classic sap

the liberal media says Palin and Quayle are imbeciles, so it must be true

it worked in 1989

it's not working now

sorry guys

you need a new strategy

December 30, 2009 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is the bumbling Barry supposed to be an example of someone running the country who is not an imbecile?

when Sarah Palin speaks, it has an effect

when Barry speaks it has no effect

who's the imbecile?

the liberal line that anyone who holds conservatives views is, be definition, an imbecile

read Danile Schorr's book again

he pointed out that when conservative lawyers were interviewed by the liberal media, they were identified as "conservative spokesmen" but when liberal lawyers were interviewed, they we identified as "legal experts"

America isn't falling for it anymore

December 31, 2009 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, "Anonymous"...I am not a "classic sap"...unlike you and your neo-fascist cohorts, I DO think for myself and the description of Palin and Quayle are my own analysis - generally agreed to by the majority of intelligent Americans, btw.

You, my friend, are the tiresome village idiot troll who posts here obsessively and boringly, and with no end in sight, as required by your employer.

I do my thinking independently.

December 31, 2009 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, sorry

I thought you were just listening to the liberal rabble

I had no idea you had actual thought up those remarks


your insulting characterization of me aside, could explain why you think Palin and Quayle are imbeciles?

try to give some examples

btw, I haven't really made many comments over the last week but even if I had, let's face it, you wouldn't have a problem with it except that you secretly know that your views can't withstand any reasoned scrutiny

if I was saying Obama was doing a great job and homosexuality is a splendid and healthy color of the human rainbow, you wouldn't say I was doing so "obsessively and boringly"

why don't you make it a new year's resolution to try to think before you talk?

December 31, 2009 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Lesbian mother files missing person report in Virginia child custody case

This case has for years been a cause celebre of the ex-gay movement and Virginia's anti-marriage and 'ex-gay' forces. Liberty Counsel and it's Virginia allies have made this little girl's well-being into a 'culture war' football, apparently to make some sort of obscure point.

Steve Hunt wins Republican nomination to replace rabid anti-gay Ken Cuccinelli in western Fairfax Senate district

I know the Virginia news may not be that interesting to our neighbors across the river, but Steve Hunt has a PFOX connection: several years ago, at Regina's instigation, he sent letters to Fairfax HS principals (on school board letterhead, when he was a school board member), encouraging them to teach their students about 'ex-gay' materials, promoting PFOX' agenda. The school board censured him.

I met with him and his wife, and shared some details of my experience in the ex-gay movement. I don't think I changed their minds about the potential harm of 'reparative therapy', but I will say on his behalf that when, over the years, I would see him at high school graduations in the county, he was unfailingly polite and courteous.

He doesn't seem to be as committed to the same anti-gay agenda with the same energy as the man he replaces, Cuccinelli, who is a real piece of work; still, he's involved.

December 31, 2009 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton very narrowly topped Sarah Palin in a Gallup survey to determine the most admired woman in America, according to results released Wednesday.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey was third, edging first lady Michelle Obama, who was fourth."

December 31, 2009 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Hillary Clinton has now been named Most Admired Woman 14 times since 1993, spanning her career as first lady, New York senator, and now secretary of state. The three times she has not finished first during this time, she earned second place (to Laura Bush in 2001 and to Mother Teresa in 1995 and 1996)."

January 01, 2010 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

'Ex-gay' mother fails to show up to transfer custody; police notified

January 01, 2010 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


January 01, 2010 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


January 02, 2010 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a classic TTF line

a gayish obsession with excrement and vomit

the pathology is not pretty

January 03, 2010 6:29 AM  
Anonymous wink wink said...

Look who's talking! Over the years "Anonymous" has repeatedly brought up his favorite obsessions of pedophilia and necrophila, and has even more frequently brought up his favorite organization NAMBLA.

Anonymous behaves a lot like Tres Kerns and Peter Spriggs, two men so obsessed with homosexuality they've made it their life's work.

January 03, 2010 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't know what you're talking about, winkie

the only time I've brought up NAMBLA is when TTFers try to associate all pro-family groups with extremist elements and I help the TTFers out by showing them how ridiculous they are

January 03, 2010 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's because "Anonymous" is painfully closeted...and that's difficult to be when you are a paid mouthpiece for PFOX.

January 04, 2010 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


why is that difficult?

you aren't just making up something to try impress the other lunatics, are you?

January 05, 2010 12:11 AM  

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