I still recall that tragic day nearly two years ago when the Democrats regained power. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made one of those smarmy, pompous, self-righteous, over-the-top, flies-in-the-face-of-the-facts sort of statements that has come to characterize her when she said, ““Democrats are leading the effort to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest Congress in history.” She liked the ring of that so much she said it again and again with varying iterations. “The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”
Well, of course she was completely full of what my dog regularly adds to my back yard. Remember how she tried to appoint people like Jack Murtha (the traitorous slimebag who was so ready to convict Marines of war crimes) and William Jefferson (the greedy slimebag caught red handed with $90,000 in his freezer) to important House positions?
Well, strike another blow for Democrats’ ethical purity.
A June 13, 2008 Associated Press story titled, “Sens. Dodd, Conrad tied to special mortgage deals,” opened with the following:
WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, a leader of Congress’ efforts to help homeowners ensnared in the subprime mortgage meltdown, reportedly got special treatment on his own mortgages from the CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., a company whose practices he has called “abusive.”
At least one other lawmaker, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., also benefited from the VIP treatment after placing a personal call to Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo seeking a mortgage.
Both senators say they weren’t aware they were getting special deals.
Still, their involvement in a special program that awarded discounts and waived fees for “friends” of Mozilo – first reported by Conde Nast Portfolio magazine’s Web site – raised questions about whether lawmakers weighing a homeowner rescue themselves benefited from the actions of a leading offender in the mortgage meltdown.
It could be especially damaging for Dodd, D-Conn., one of four Senate Democrats who pursued his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, given his high-profile role in crafting the housing rescue.
In order to believe Dodd’s and Conrad’s stammering protestations of innocence, one must accept that neither man understood what the acronym “V.I.P.” meant.
The magazine (this being another big story in which the elite media had to be dragged into coverage by exposure from new media revelations) said other participants in the company’s VIP program included former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, and former U.N. ambassador and assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.
A whole bunch of prominent, smarmy, holier-than-thou Democrats, in other words.
Dodd and Conrad made their pathetic excuses, but “An internal e-mail from Mozilo, however, said the exception was “due to the fact that the borrower is a senator,” according to the Portfolio report.”
So, the bottom line is that while the housing market meltdown was taking place, and as Democrats were out in force taking turns blaming President Bush for every aspect of the crisis, Democrats were benefitting from sweetheart deals handed out by some of the worst (by their own charges) offenders of the subprime mortgage scandal.
The AP story concludes:
Mozilo received compensation worth more than $22.1 million and cashed $121.5 million in stock options in 2007, while Countrywide posted a loss of over $700 million and saw its stock plummet 80 percent. The company agreed in January to be acquired by Bank of America Corp. for $4.1 billion in stock.
Countrywide has come under fire for its lending practices, including providing mortgages with low initial “teaser” rates that balloon higher than borrowers can afford. Dodd and other Banking Committee Democrats wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in December 2007 singling out Countrywide and calling the loans “abusive.”
A watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called Friday for House and Senate investigations of Dodd and Conrad, and any other lawmakers who may have received preferential mortgages through the Countrywide program.
Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., said Congress should hold hearings on “Friends of Angelo” loans.
Souder told the Fox Business Network, “The question is, who are the friends? What is the list? How is it done? What does it mean? If we don’t pursue it, it would show preferential treatment.”
By all appearances so far, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate leadership promise to move on this scandal with all the speed of chilled mollases. They called for Rep. Tom Delay’s head on a platter when there was nothing more than a charge from an ideologue district attorney. Rep. William Jefferson has been officially under criminal indictment for over a year, and he’s still happily “serving” his district (his sister, Brenda Jefferson, just copped a guilty plea for activities he was involved in, by the way).
Don’t ever expect Democrats to live up to the standards they demand of Republicans.
Having said all this, there remains still one more link to be pointed out: the link between Barack Obama – he of the Tony Rezko sweetheart real estate deal – and the man he appointed to head his important vice president selection committee:
Lawmakers’ participation in the VIP program is coming to light just days after similar revelations about former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson prompted Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to ax Johnson from his vice presidential vetting team.
Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, said it was Johnson who referred him to Mozilo in 2002 when the North Dakotan was seeking a loan to buy a vacation home in Bethany Beach, Del.
“I called (Mozilo). I said, ‘I’m buying this property. Would you be interested in the mortgage?’, and he said, ‘Yeah. Call these people and we’ll take a look,’” Conrad said.
“I did not think for one moment _ and no one ever suggested to me _ that I was getting preferential treatment,” Conrad said.
So Kent Conrad calls the CEO of sleazy Countrywide fishing for a personal mortgage, and it never once occurs to him to think that the really, really good deal he gets as a result just might be a political favor?
And there’s Barack Obama’s (now ex) point man, Jim Johnson, steering Conrad toward the promised land.
Assuming you believe Barack Obama – who oh-so-innocently received his own sweetheart real estate deal – it is just a coincidence that the man he appointed to lead one of the most important committees of his campaign would be dirty.
In which case it has to occur to you to ask just how many dirty Democrats there are involved in the housing market scandal.
But have no fear: Democrats will continue to lay the blame for the mortgage meltdown on Republicans, no matter how many of their most prominent members are involved, and no matter how up-to-their eyeballs that involvement turns out to be.
If you’re gag reflexes can handle it, you should read Pelosi’s “pledge” of unparalleled integrity and ethics (and note that Barack Obama’s name appears on the “look at me: I’m wonderful too!” line):
Pelosi: ‘We Will Create the Most Open and Honest Government in History’
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Contact: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, unveiled Democrats’ “Honest Leadership, Open Government Act,” which will restore honesty, integrity, and openness to government. Below are Pelosi’s remarks as prepared.
“Good afternoon. It is fitting that we gather in the building of the Library of Congress named for Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence. Today, Democrats are here to make a Declaration of Independence from special interests.
“These halls contain great wisdom. In the hall behind me are three paintings about government. The central painting contains President Lincoln’s famous words, ‘A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ On the right side, a mural entitled ‘Good Administration’ shows a figure reading and voting, symbolizing the value of an informed and involved citizenry. On the other side is a painting entitled ‘Corrupt Legislation,’ which shows a figure burning a scroll of learning and trampling a Bible.
“It is a harsh image, to see a Bible underfoot – but it makes a powerful point: corrupt government undermines our values. We come here today to support those values, and to lay out an agenda for a new era of honest, open, and transparent government.
“For a long time now, an ethical cloud has hung over the Capitol. For years, Democrats have called for an end to the Republican culture of corruption.
“Yesterday, House Republican leaders unveiled a vague and insufficient set of so-called reforms. What is important about their list is not what it does do, but what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t kill the K Street project, it doesn’t address procedural abuses in the House that Republicans use to implement their culture of corruption, and it doesn’t charge the Ethics committee to act immediately. The Democratic plan we unveil today addresses all of these necessary reforms.
“Republicans are resisting true reform because they all benefit from enabling the culture of corruption to continue. Republicans have allowed this poison tree of corruption to bear the fruit of bad policy for the American people. When a prescription drug bill puts pharmaceutical companies first, senior citizens pay higher prices for prescription drugs. When the energy bill give tax breaks to oil companies already making historic profits, Americans pay the price at the pump and in record home-heating costs. When liability is waived for vaccine manufacturers, companies will profit, but Americans can get hurt.
“The intention of our Founding Fathers was for Congress to be a marketplace of ideas. The Republicans have turned Congress into an auction house – for sale to the highest bidder. You have to pay to play. It is just not right.
“Democrats are leading the effort to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest Congress in history.
“That is why, with our Democratic Declaration of Honest Leadership and Open Government, we are pledging to enact and enforce legislation that will:
- Ban all gifts and travel from lobbyists. Period.
- Kill the K Street Project, the Republican plan that trades favors for lobbying jobs, and toughen public disclosure of lobbyist activity.
- Remove the revolving door by doubling the amount of time Members and staff are prohibited from going from legislating to lobbying. Stop legislators from negotiating legislation, while also negotiating employment contracts for themselves with those who benefit from that legislation. Keep former Members who are lobbyists off the floor of Congress.
- Next we would end the ‘dead of night’ special interest provisions that turn bills into special-interest giveaways. Lawmakers must have the opportunity to read every bill before they vote on it. It’s common sense.
“When it comes to contracting and cronyism, we intend to:
- Eliminate the practice of irresponsible no-bid contracts, bring criminal penalties against war profiteers, and ensure that the government contracting process is honest, open, competitive, and fair. No more Halliburtons.
- Prohibit cronyism in key appointments by making sure any individual appointed to a position has proven credentials. Brownie certainly wasn’t doing a ‘heck of a job’ for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
“These are tough standards, but they are just the beginning. We are prepared to do even more.
“If we are to have true reforms, two things need to happen: We must have strong enforcement, with an active and functioning Ethics Committee. That is why last week I wrote to Speaker Hastert asking him to join me in urging the Ethics Committee to begin investigations immediately. Second, if and when the Speaker brings reform legislation to the floor, an open rule is absolutely essential. A new era of openness can only begin if we debate the reforms in an open manner.
“Taken together, Democratic proposals will lead this country in a new direction, put an end to business as usual, and make certain this nation’s leaders serve the people’s interest, not the special interests.
“Ours must be a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ That means all of the American people. Republicans have made it a government of, by, and for a few of the people. America can do better. We can and we will. With this agenda, Democrats will create the most open and honest government in history, and put power back where it belongs – in the hands of all the people. Together, America can do better.”
The Democrats demonized the Republicans with an unprecedented blitzkrieg of nasty attacks, even as they promised to be bi-partisan. But they who were so quick to point out how awful the Republicans were and how oh-so-wonderful they would be have magnificently failed to improve the moral climate of Congress in the least.
The thing that infuriates me the most about Democrats isn’t that they are any more corrupt than Republicans. I don’t know that they are. I do know that the bigger government becomes, and the more billions getting doled out to one special interest or another, the more corruption there will be as groups try to influence politicians to steer money their way. But what never ceases to tick me off to no end is that Democrats are so full of venomous attacks, so full of smarmy assurances of their own wonderfulness, and inevitably always so full of hypocrisy.
The Republicans have introduced some excellent Congressional reform measures that have gone absolutely nowhere under the Democratic leadership.
Barack Obama – just like Nancy Pelosi – is full of promises about what a wonderful job he’ll do if given power, and how wonderful he’ll be. Trust me: he won’t do any better than the Congress that has attained the distinction of achieving the lowest approval ratings of all time.