Posts Tagged ‘Kent Conrad’

Rampant Democrat Corruption Extends To Most Powerful Leaders

July 29, 2009

Right now, three of the most powerful Democrats are documented corrupt scumbags.

Charles Rangel, Chairman of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee is a tax cheat.  Chris Dodd, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, took corrupt mortgage loans from a corrupt mortgage lender at the epicenter of the mortgage meltdown crisis.  Kent Conrad, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, also took such loans.

These men are incredibly influential in the writing of laws and legislation that will absorb most of the economy under their power.  And they are corrupt.

We were entertained at the beginning of the Obama administration as it became painfully obvious that it was hard to find an honest Democrat who actually paid the taxes that they hypocritically wanted everyone else to pay.  Many fell by the wayside, but “Turbo Tax” Tim Geithner’s personal dishonesty in paying his taxes didn’t stand in the way of his being Obama’s choice to become the Treasury Secretary in charge of enforcing tax laws.

Let’s start with the man who writes your tax laws but doesn’t want to follow his own laws and pay his own taxes: Charles Rangel.

The man has all kinds of issues, such as selfishly and greedily taking rent-controlled property meant for poor people.  It’s hard to say which is worse, but don’t forget to consider what he did in buying pricey beachfront rental property and then refusing to pay taxes on his substantial income:

JULY 27, 2009, 4:28 P.M. ET

Morality and Charlie Rangel’s Taxes
It’s much easier to raise taxes if you don’t pay them.

Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who is leading the charge for a new 5.4-percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it “the moral thing to do.” About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent.

Exhibit A concerns a rental property Mr. Rangel purchased in 1987 at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. The rental income from that property ought to be substantial since it is a luxury beach-front villa and is more often than not rented out. But when the National Legal and Policy Center looked at Mr. Rangel’s House financial disclosure forms in August, it noted that his reported income looked suspiciously low. In 2004 and 2005, he reported no more than $5,000, and in 2006 and 2007 no income at all from the property.

The Congressman initially denied there was any unreported income. But reporters quickly showed that the villa is among the most desirable at Punta Cana and that it rents for $500 a night in the low season, and as much as $1,100 a night in peak season. Last year it was fully booked between December 15 and April 15.

Mr. Rangel soon admitted having failed to report rental income of $75,000 over the years. First he blamed his wife for the oversight because he said she was supposed to be managing the property. Then he blamed the language barrier. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” Mr. Rangel explained.

Mr. Rangel promised last fall to amend his tax returns, pay what is due and correct the information on his annual financial disclosure form. But the deadline for the 2008 filing was May 15 and as of last week he still had not filed. His press spokesman declined to answer questions about anything related to his ethics problems.

Besides not paying those pesky taxes, Mr. Rangel had other reasons for wanting to hide income. As the tenant of four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, the Congressman needed to keep his annual reported income below $175,000, lest he be ineligible as a hardship case for rent control. (He also used one of the apartments as an office in violation of rent-control rules, but that’s another story.)

Mr. Rangel said last fall that “I never had any idea that I got any income’’ from the villa. Try using that one the next time the IRS comes after you. Equally interesting is his claim that he didn’t know that the developer of the Dominican Republic villa had converted his $52,000 mortgage to an interest-free loan in 1990. That would seem to violate House rules on gifts, which say Members may only accept loans on “terms that are generally available to the public.” Try getting an interest-free loan from your banker.

The National Legal and Policy Center also says it has confirmed that Mr. Rangel owned a home in Washington from 1971-2000 and during that time claimed a “homestead” exemption that allowed him to save on his District of Columbia property taxes. However, the homestead exemption only applies to a principal residence, and the Washington home could not have qualified as such since Mr. Rangel’s rent-stabilized apartments in New York have the same requirement.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating Mr. Rangel on no fewer than six separate issues, including his failure to report the no-interest loan on his Punta Cana villa and his use of rent-stabilized apartments. It is also investigating his fund raising for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York. New York labor attorney Theodore Kheel, one of the principal owners of the Punta Cana resort, is an important donor to the Rangel Center.

All of this has previously appeared in print in one place or another, and we salute the reporters who did the leg work. We thought we’d summarize it now for readers who are confronted with the prospect of much higher tax bills, and who might like to know how a leading Democrat defines “moral” behavior when the taxes hit close to his homes.

Charlie Rangel is a man who has been patently dishonest for his entire public life.  Not that it matters to Democrats.  If you’re a Democrat, you can be caught red-handed with $90,000 of FBI bribe money in your freezer like William Jefferson and actually get re-elected the following year.

That leaves Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad (at least, for me today).

AP IMPACT: Dodd, Conrad told deals were sweetened

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer Larry Margasak, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jul 27, 9:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Despite their denials, influential Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd were told from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts from one of the nation’s largest lenders, the official who handled their loans has told Congress in secret testimony.

Both senators have said that at the time the mortgages were being written they didn’t know they were getting unique deals from Countrywide Financial Corp., the company that went on to lose billions of dollars on home loans to credit-strapped borrowers. Dodd still maintains he got no preferential treatment.

Dodd got two Countrywide mortgages in 2003, refinancing his home in Connecticut and another residence in Washington. Conrad’s two Countrywide mortgages in 2004 were for a beach house in Delaware and an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck in his home state of North Dakota.

Robert Feinberg, who worked in Countrywide’s VIP section, told congressional investigators last month that the two senators were made aware that “who you know is basically how you’re coming in here.”

“You don’t say ‘no’ to the VIP,” Feinberg told Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to a transcript obtained by The Associated Press.

The next day, Feinberg testified before the Senate Ethics Committee, an indication the panel is actively investigating two of the chamber’s more powerful members:

Dodd heads the Banking Committee and is a major player in two big areas: solving the housing foreclosure and financial crises and putting together an overhaul of the U.S. health care system. A five-term senator, he is in a tough fight for re-election in 2010, partly because of the controversy over his mortgages.

Conrad chairs the Budget Committee. He, too, shares an important role in the health care debate, as well as on legislation to curb global warming.

Both senators were VIP borrowers in the program known as “friends of Angelo.” Angelo Mozilo was chief executive of Countrywide, which played a big part in the foreclosure crisis triggered by defaults on subprime loans. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company was bought last July by Bank of America Corp. for about $2.5 billion.

Mozilo has been charged with civil fraud and illegal insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He denies any wrongdoing.

Asked by a House Oversight investigator if Conrad, the North Dakota senator, “was aware that he was getting preferential treatment?” Feinberg answered: “Yes, he was aware.”

Referring to Dodd, the investigator asked:

“And do you know if during the course of your communications” with the senator or his wife “that you ever had an opportunity to share with them if they were getting special VIP treatment?”

“Yes, yes,” Feinberg replied. […]

Countrywide VIPs, Feinberg told the committees, received discounts on rates, fees and points. Dodd received a break when Countrywide counted both his Connecticut and Washington homes as primary owner-occupied residences — a fiction, according to Feinberg. Conrad received a type of commercial loan that he was told Countrywide didn’t offer.

“The simple fact that Angelo Mozilo and other high-ranking executives at Countrywide were personally making sure Mr. Feinberg handled their loans right, is proof in itself that the senators knew they were getting sweetheart deals,” said Feinberg’s principal attorney, Anthony Salerno.

Two internal Countrywide documents in Dodd’s case and one in Conrad’s appear to contradict their statements about what they knew about their VIP loans.

At his Feb. 2 news conference, Dodd said he knew he was in a VIP program but insisted he was told by Countrywide, “It was nothing more than enhanced customer service … being able to get a person on the phone instead of an automated operator.”

He insisted he didn’t receive special treatment. However, the assertion was at odds with two Countrywide documents entitled “Loan Policy Analysis” that Dodd allowed reporters to review the same day.

The documents had separate columns: one showing points “actl chrgd” Dodd — zero; and a second column showing “policy” was to charge .250 points on one loan and .375 points on the other. Another heading on the documents said “reasons for override.” A notation under that heading identified a Countrywide section that approved the policy change for Dodd.

Mortgage points, sometimes called loan origination fees, are upfront fees based on a percentage of the loan. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan. The higher the points the lower the interest rate.

Dodd said he obtained the Countrywide documents in 2008, to learn details of his mortgages.

In Conrad’s case, an e-mail from Feinberg to Mozilo indicates Feinberg informed Conrad that Countrywide had a residential loan limit of a four-unit building. Conrad sought to finance an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck that he had bought from his brothers.

“I did advise him I would check with you first since our maximum is 4 units,” Feinberg said in an April 23, 2004, internal e-mail to Mozilo.

Mozilo responded the same day that Feinberg should speak to another Countrywide executive and “see if he can make an exception due to the fact that the borrower is a senator.”

Feinberg said in his deposition with House Oversight investigators last month that exceptions for the type of loan Conrad received were not allowed for borrowers outside the VIP system.

“If there was a regular customer calling, and of course you say, ‘No, we’re a residential lender. We cannot provide you with that service,'” Feinberg said.

Feinberg also told House investigators that Countrywide counted both of Dodd’s homes as primary residences.

“He was allowed to do both of those as owner-occupied, which is not allowed. You can only have one owner-occupied property. You can’t live in two properties at the same time,” he said.

Normally, Feinberg said, a second home could require more equity and could have a higher mortgage rate.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the senior Republican on the House Oversight Committee, had his investigators question Feinberg as part of a broader investigation into Countrywide’s VIP program.

Other names that have surfaced as “friends” of Mozilo include James Johnson, a former head of Fannie Mae who later stepped down as an adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and Franklin Raines, who also headed Fannie Mae. Still other “friends” included retired athletes, a judge, a congressional aide and a newspaper executive.

Conrad initially said in June 2008, “If they did me a favor, they did it without my knowledge and without my requesting it.”

The next day, Conrad changed course after reviewing documents showing he got special treatment, and said he was donating $10,500 to charity and refinancing the loan on the apartment building with another lender. He also said then it appeared Countrywide had waived 1 point at closing on the beach house.

Gaddie said Feinberg has previously made statements to the news media that Countrywide waived 1 point without the senator’s knowledge.

Feinberg testified that VIPs usually were not told exactly how many points were being waived, but it was made clear to them that they were getting discounts.

And, of course, Barack Obama has his own sweetheart mortgage deal with his own scumbag, Tony Rezko.  Not to mention all kinds of other skeletons in his “Chicago Way” closet that were never investigated by a clearly biased press.  A lot of the most obvious corruption occurs through his wife Michelle Obama, who kept getting paid more and more on hospital boards as Obama advanced politically.  On hospitals that did some really nasty things, such as patient dumping which she might have participated in.

Democrats cry day after day that what the world needs is more government.

But consider something: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

No entity wields more absolute power, or is more corrupt, than government.

Democrats tell us every day that they are out to save us from evil big businesses.  But there is no one to save us from Democrats, or the intrusive giant octopus federal government behemoth they are seeking to create and empower to rule over virtually every aspect of our lives.

Obama V.P. Pick Joe Biden Shares Direct Blame For Foreclosure Disaster

August 28, 2008

Barack Obama – you know, the guy who tells us he can fix all the problems that Bush and Republicans caused – has an uncanny track record of picking the people who actually caused all the problems in the first place for key campaign positions.

Should Joe Biden Share Blame for Foreclosure Crisis?  At least two major studies and an ABC News investigative report say “YES.”  According to interviews with financial “Experts: Many Americans Lost Homes Due to a Bill Championed by Biden.”

Add that to Penny Pritzker – Obama’s National Finance Chairpersonwho was at the epicenter of the sub prime loan scandal that caused the foreclosure meltdown in the first place.  She paid $460 million of her family fortune through trusts to avoid going to jail.  And add that to Jim Johnson, Obama’s pick to chair his important Vice Presidential selection committee until he resigned amidst revelations that he had received sweetheart deals from sub-prime king Countrywide.  And Jim Johnson joined other key Democrats like Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, who received similar sweetheart deals.  And you can add to that the fact that federal regulators are pointedly blaming U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY for the run that caused the IndyMac bank failure.

This is just like Democrats: behind all the  ostentatious and pretentious chants that they are fighting the battles for the little guy, they do what is best for their political futures at the behest of big money donors.  And when what they do in the name of the “little guy” ends up blowing up in the little guys’ face, they wash their hands of it and try to blame Republicans for it (after all, it’s all President Bush’s fault).

Hey, Democrats: President Bush’s Vice President didn’t cause the foreclosure meltdown; Barack Obama’s did.  And President Bush’s national finance chair wasn’t involved in the sub prime scandal from the very beginning; Barack Obama’s was.

Read the ABC investigative report on Joe Biden below.  Warning: it’s damning.  You’ve got Biden fighting for a law that directly led to the foreclosure meltdown, which wouldn’t have passed without his efforts.  You’ve got banks and credit card companies headquartered in Delaware.  You’ve got Biden’s own son working as an executive, lobbyists, and consultant for one of the players.

Should Biden Share Blame for Foreclosure Crisis?
Experts: Many Americans Lost Homes Due to a Bill Championed by Biden


August 28, 2008Experts say hundreds of thousands of Americans may have lost their homes due to a bill championed by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., Barack Obama’s vice-presidential running mate.

At least two studies have concluded that the United States’ foreclosure crisis was exacerbated by a 2005 law that overhauled the nation’s bankruptcy law. That conclusion is echoed by other experts, although the banking and credit industry disputes it.

Congressional Republicans drove the effort to pass the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005. But Biden – who has enjoyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from credit industry executives – endorsed the measure early on and worked to gather Democratic support for it.

Biden’s early and vocal support was “essential” to the bill’s passage, said Travis Plunkett of the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Consumer Federation, which opposed the measure. Biden “went out of his way to undermine criticism of the legislation,” and his efforts helped convince other Democrats to support the bill.

“Biden was a fairly strong proponent of that bankruptcy bill,” said Philip Corwin, a consultant for the American Bankers Association, which represents banks and lenders. However, Biden was “not in our pocket in any way,” he added.

Biden’s Senate office did not provide comment for this story.

Asked if the Obama/Biden campaign was concerned Biden’s record was a liability when discussing economic security, David Wade, a spokesman for the Obama/Biden campaign, said, “Barack Obama and Joe Biden have real solutions for struggling families in danger of losing their homes because of the Bush economy and abusive lending practices.”

BAPCPA “is directly responsible for the rising foreclosure rate since the end of 2005,” concluded a 2007 study by Credit Suisse. The law “increased foreclosures and the number of homes for sale,” echoed a July 2008 study by U.S. Treasury researcher David Bernstein. That study estimated the law had pushed foreclosures or forced sales on 200,000 homeowners since it went into effect, but noted that was a rough, “back-of-the-envelope” calculation.

“Trying to tie the forclosure crisis to the [2005 bankruptcy] bill is a stretch,” said the ABA’s Corwin. Corwin called the Credit Suisse report “junk” and said the Bernstein study wasn’t “worth the paper it was written on.”

The head author of the 2007 Credit Suisse report clarified his earlier findings in an email Wednesday. “The law likely contributed to increased foreclosures early on,” said researcher Don Ravitsky, but combined with other key factors, including subprime lending practices, to create the current crisis. Bernstein did not respond to a request for an interview.

The bill was backed by banks and credit card companies including MBNA, which is headquartered in Delaware, Biden’s home state. They wanted the bill because it would make it harder for Americans to use bankruptcy to avoid repaying credit card debt. MBNA executives had been Biden’s single largest source of campaign donations, and MBNA has employed Biden’s son Hunter as a company executive, lobbyist and consultant. The Obama campaign has said Hunter Biden did no work for MBNA on the bankruptcy bill. MBNA has since been bought by Bank of America.

Over the past two years, sub-prime mortgage borrowing and a weakening economy have pushed increasing numbers of Americans into dire financial straits. Under the old rules, many could have declared bankruptcy, shed much of their debt, restructured their mortgages and held onto their homes, according to experts and the two reports.

But the 2005 law Biden championed made it more expensive and more difficult to declare bankruptcy, experts conclude. That forced hundreds of thousands of distressed homeowners to sell their homes, or default on their mortgages, after which the bank would sell their former home, according to the studies. That flood of homes going up for sale in an already-weakening market further depressed home prices, according to the two reports, snowballing into the current crisis.

BAPCPA “increased home foreclosures, increased the dollar value of financial assets in default, and put additional downward price pressure on real estate markets,” concluded the Bernstein report. Bernstein conducted the report as an individual, not as a representative the Treasury Department.

A Hope For Some Rare Awareness About The Economy

July 21, 2008

I was in a Wal Mart store a little while back, and got into an argument with an older employee with whom I have periodically chatted.

In that discussion, I discovered that the man was a Democrat, and a pretty liberal one to boot.

And I learned that he had a terribly flawed memory about the Clinton years.

His primary contention was that he had never seen the regional economy so bad. He told me, “When Clinton was president, I had no trouble finding work. But now this Wal Mart job is the best I can get.”

Well, to put it into six words: he’s wrong, wrong, and more wrong.

The Press Enterprise, Riverside County’s (and the Inland Empire’s) largest paper, had a front-page article on July 19 titled “Inland unemployment rate hits 8 percent, highest in 9 years.”

I didn’t have to pull out my calculator to realize that “nine years ago we were in the height of the Clinton presidency.

So why on earth was my liberal Democrat friend at Wal Mart so completely wrong?

Partially because that’s precisely what the media told him to think (you ever hear that sarcastic expression, ‘If I want your opinion I’ll give it to you’?).

John R. Lott did a study that demonstrated that the media viewed the economy through rose-colored glasses during the Clinton years even when the economy was in fact entering a recession. By contrast, we have been hearing the word “recession” for the better part of a year now under a Republican president even when the economy was actually growing and even though the economy is STILL not in recession according to the standard definition of the term. When Bill Clinton was president, the media largely saw even negative news through rose-colored glasses. By contrast, throughout the Bush presidency, the media has been hypercritical – as well as hypocritical – of virtually every economic development.

It is simply a demonstrable fact that the media have for years given Democratic administrations’ economic performance every benefit of the doubt, and given Republican administrations’ economic performance an unrelentingly critical review. Republicans aren’t angry that the media is portraying the economy as being in a recession; they are angry because the media subjectively and unfairly refuse to evaluate Democrat-managed economies by the same standards.

And when it comes to the economy, perception often becomes reality, because people who think that the economy is tanking will invariably begin to act in ways that subsequently cause the economy to tank. As one example, if people are continually told that the economy will worsen and the housing market will continue to decline, will they buy homes now, or will they hold off and wait for the market to further decline and lower prices further? But by waiting, they are actually contributing to the market’s actual decline.

So the same media that helps to create positive perceptions of the economy during Democratic administrations helps to undermine the economy during Republican administrations. They frequently resort to downright irresponsible reporting to do so. And when Democrat and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich used the term “DEPRESSION” to describe the Bush economy, he was going beyond even the irresponsible media and pandering to the very lowest form of demagoguery.

Is our economy really doing so terrible?

Just to demonstrate how horrifyingly irresponsible Robert Reich was in his prediction of a “Bush depression” on March 14, 2008, the VERY NEXT DAY the story emerged that the United States continues to have the best and most competitive economy in the world!

I hate to be rude, but Reich revealed himself for the vile little pandering and demagoguing rodent that he is. Yet rabid little rat or not, he continues to be paraded from elite media network to network with all the fanfare of an enlightened analyst who truly understands what is going on.

My liberal friend at Wal Mart assured me that the economy was always great under Clinton, and that Clinton balanced the budget. The fact that neither statement is true doesn’t matter. Today’s liberals are fitted with psychological filters designed to prevent truth from entering their minds.

First of all, Bill Clinton most certainly did not get off to all that great of a start as president. If he had, he wouldn’t have contributed to the greatest landslide in political history with a massive 52 seat swing in the ’94 midterm elections that put the Republicans in power for the next dozen years.

Furthermore, President Clinton – all ubiquitous media misrepresentation aside – most certainly DID NOT balance the budget. What he did was fiddle with the numbers to pay off the public debt by borrowing from the intergovernmental debt (particularly from the Social Security Trust Fund). The so-called “Clinton surplus” is simply a myth: The national debt continued to grow and grow and grow, and the last Clinton budget was $133.29 billion in the red.

And when President Clinton left office, he also left President Bush with an economy that was very definitely stumbling into a recession about as bad as the one we’re stumbling into now. He also left President Bush with Osama bin Laden (when he rejected a Somali offer to literally hand him over to us) and with an al Qaeda that was growing stronger and stronger after repeatedly attacking the United States throughout the Clinton administration.

Mansoor Ijaz, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that:

Clinton’s failure to grasp the opportunity to unravel increasingly organized extremists, coupled with Berger’s assessments of their potential to directly threaten the U.S., represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history.

Please don’ think that the vicious 9/11 attacks – which President Clinton could have nipped in the bud by taking out its chief leader and architect – didn’t massively hurt the U.S. economy. Yet a liberal media ensured that President Bush duly received all the blame for both the recession and the attack.

The Press Enterprise article points out that a year ago, the two-county unemployment figure was a reasonable 5.9%. If anything, we have Nancy Pelosi and her “commonsense plan” to thank as much as anyone for the dramatic increase that has taken place during the oversight of a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But you can count on the fact that the media will never connect the economic downturn to the Democrat’s control of Congress the way they routinely connect President Bush to it.

What’s caused the dramatic negative economic turnaround in the last year?

Is it the sky-high increase in oil prices? I have written again and again that it is Democrats – and Democrats virtually alone – who deserve the blame for the current situation by refusing to allow us to act in a responsible way by drilling the oil we have right under our feet and right off our shores.

See my articles (in order from the earliest to the most recent):

Democrat’s ‘Commonsense Plan’ Revealed: Let’s Nationalize the Oil Industry

Blame Democrats for Sky-High Gas Prices

Democrats Block US Energy Independence, Send Gas Prices Soaring

Democrat’s Ideological Stand Against Domestic Oil Terrible for US Economy & Security

If You Want $12 A Gallon Gas, Vote for Obama and Democrats

Pelosi, Reid, and Obama: The Three Stooges of American Energy Policy

Is it the secondary market fiasco and the subsequent housing market collapse? While Republicans deservedly merit some of the blame, let us not forget that it was Democrats who demanded that poor and unqualified borrowers had to have access to home loans. And let us not forget that the principle political figures involved in the subsequent scandal have been Democrats (Former Fannie Mae Chairman and former Barack Obama key assistant Jim Johnson, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad headline the list among other prominent Democrats).

The media that would have left no stone unturned in launching exhaustive and well-covered investigations into Republicans in any kind of similar situation has conveniently allowed the Democrat’s scandal to vanish off the headlines. They continue to play the part – of Democrat apologist and enabler – that they have chosen for themselves all along.

And we saw an all-too typical example of Democrats and the media ganging up to harm the economy under a Republican administration. Sen. Charles Schumer unnecessarily notified the public of the impending federal takeover of IndyMac in California, creating the equally unnecessary lines and panic among account holders. And then there was the media flocking like vultures, breathlessly envisioning one worst-case scenario for the American economy after another.

Don’t you DARE try to claim that Democrats – who were so utterly consumed with investigating baseball players’ for allegations of steroid abuse and with repeatedly demonzing oil executives at one communist-type show trial “hearing” after another that they were entirely blindsided by the secondary market collapse – were one iota less to blame than the Republicans even at their worst.

And don’t you dare believe that Republicans under George Bush mismanaged the economy in spite of the Democrats’ best attempts to keep it rolling smoothly along. If anything, it was precisely the other way around.

My liberal friend is responsible for unquestioningly believing the liberal media spin rather than engaging in the critical thinking that would let him see the truth about the disinformation campaign going around all around him. Please don’t make the same mistake.

Democrats, The Countrywide Scandal, and Self-Righteous Hypocrisy

June 27, 2008

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.