Friday, December 25, 2009

The Hamsher Norquist Knuckle Sandwich


Jane Hamsher, the political femme fatal who ran on her site a picture of Sen. Joe Lieberman in blackface to help Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont’s campaign, is attempting a little triangulation of her own now that President Barack Obama seems to have made common cause with the redundantly wealthy denizens of Wall Street.

She has combined with the decidedly non-progressive Grover Norquist to throw Rham Emanuel down the mineshaft. Emanuel is Obama's Disraeli. The Norquist/Hamsher combo is very unusual. Norquist is one of the best conservative-libertarian organizers on the planet. In fact, if the Republicans ever do regain the reigns of power in Washington, before the country is flat broke, it would be well if they allowed Norquist to form the entire government -- including the Supreme Court.

“If Obama/Rahm want to triangulate against progressives (and they do), they’re not the only ones who can make cause with people on the other side of the aisle. If that’s what it takes to shake up the corporate domination of our political system, we’ve done it before and we can do it again. Because working within the traditional political order to support “progressives” whose conviction lasts only as long as it doesn’t matter just doesn’t seem to be working.”

This is the joint letter Hamsher and Norquist have sent to Attorney General Eric Holder:

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.

It’s difficult to put this request in perspective, so that people in Connecticut might realize it’s far-fetchedness. Though President Barack Obama has often claimed that the U.S. Attorney General is, and ought to be, an independent free floating agent, close watchers of the administration know that everyone and everything in the Obama admistration is attached to everyone and everything else, as befits a well oiled slightly less than scrupulous Chicago organization. The president has an enviable talent for organizing things.

It would be as if President Pro Tem of the state Senate Don Williams were to get together with state Republican leader Larry Cafero and both were to write a letter to prominent partisan Democrat Attorney General Richard Blumenthal requesting that suit happy knight in shining armor to sue Speaker of the state House Chris Donovan because his associations with state union leaders compromised his ability to honestly run his office.

The chances of such a suit being seriously pursued are, well… far fetched.
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