Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama's Posse o' Change

Well, this seems an inauspicious start. No, not the oath of office (that appeared to be a gaffe by the Chief Justice). It's the crew that President Obama assembled to serve as his Cabinet.

A Secretary of State whose personal coffers are overflowing with foreign money. If you look up "conflict of interest", you'll see a picture of Hillary being sworn in as Secretary of State. The Clinton Foundation has raised more than half a billion dollars including more than $40 million from foreign sources including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Taiwan. Put simply, "The Clinton Foundation exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it could curry favor." To make matters worse, Hillary has refused to temporarily halt foreign contributions during her service or even to disclose donations in a timely fashion. Change!

A Treasury Secretary who cheats on his taxes doesn't know the tax code worth a damn. And who had a pathetic performance at the New York Fed, not to mention his de-orchestration related to the TARP debacle. And the double standard is appalling: as Tom Blumer points out, "Zoe Baird (Clinton, 1993), Kimba Wood (Clinton, 1993), and Linda Chavez (Bush, 2001) all had relatively minor or potential issues with self-employment taxes on household help... Geithner’s unpaid amounts were exponentially larger. Is there a whiff of male chauvinism in the air?"

A sleazebag Attorney General who appears to be the worst breed of political hack. In 1995 U.S. Attorney Eric Holder declined to prosecute a top aide of President Clinton. Shortly thereafter, he was named Deputy Attorney General. In that role, Holder sanctioned two of the most outrageous pardons in Presidential history. When Holder blessed the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, at least one congressional report alleged that Holder was seeking an endorsement by Rich’s attorney for the role of “attorney general in a potential (Al) Gore administration.” And Holder's blessing of Clinton's pardon of the FALN terrorists has been criticized by scores of law enforcement officials. The COO of the LEAA stated that Holder's "involvement with FALN terrorists is not so much political as a significant sign of disregard for law enforcement." Gee, that's precisely what we need in an AG!

A proposed Commerce Secretary forced to withdraw because of an ongoing federal "pay-to-play" investigation. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson withrew from consideration for the Cabinet post when the investigation was disclosed. The probe centers on whether a campaign donor, CDR Financial Products, received millions in state contracts in exchange for the contributions. The word is that federal investigators "are zeroing in on two of his close advisers."

For the love of... Is it really that tough to find qualified Democrats who don't live full-time under an ethical cloud?

It gets worse. Consider those Democrats who currently occupy positions of significant power in Washington. On the other hand, maybe Obama was trying to level the ethical playing field between branches of government.

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), head of the Senate Banking Committee, played a major role in the mortgage meltdown that precipitated our current financial crisis. Not only did he take more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than any other politician, but NBC News reports that Dodd received a sweetheart mortgage deal from Countrywide Financial. To this day, Dodd refuses to release the HUD statement for the mortgage, despite promising to do so months ago.

A Democratic Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel (D-NY), who is currently the subject of four separate ethics investigations. Rangel is alleged to have: violated rent-control laws; preserved a tax break for an oil company in exchange for a $1 million contribution; failed to pay taxes on $75,000 in unreported income; and solicited donations on his office letterhead.

House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) also played a significant role in the mortgage meltdown. Not only did he take numerous contributions from those affiliated with the GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), but he repeatedly fought oversight and audit controls that could have saved the country from their catastrophic meltdown. Best quote? "I think it is clear that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are sufficiently secure so they are in no great danger... I don't think we face a crisis; I don't think that we have an impending disaster. ...Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do very good work, and they are not endangering the fiscal health of this country.." That was Frank defending the GSEs' loose accounting standards in 2004 and he continued to do so through the summer of 2008.

Disgraced ex-Congressman William "Freezer-burn" Jefferson (D-LA) was found with $90,000 in marked bills stuck in his freezer at home. Federal agents told a judge the money was part of a $100,000 payoff delivered to Jefferson by an informant in a bribery probe. That probe has already led to guilty pleas by a Kentucky businessman and a former Jefferson aide. The Justice Department is investigating Jefferson's relationship to various international telecommunications agreements.

Allan "Jed Clampett" Mollohan (D-WV), who is a former chair of the House Ethics Committee under federal investigation after the National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint with the department regarding a bizarre increase in Mollohan's net worth. For 2005, Mollohan and his wife reported assets worth $6.8 million to $25.7 million, up from $116,000 to $315,000 in 1999. His financial disclosure restatements came only after the group's complaint.

John "Porky" Murtha (D-PA), the famed chair of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee; a charity founded by a longtime Murtha aide has become a "funnel for money" to his campaigns from defense contractors and lobbyists who directly benefit from his decisions. A Taxpayers for Common Sense spokesman noted, "It's a real tangled web between the congressman, the nonprofit, the defense contractors and the lobbyists." Oh, as an added bonus, Porky's one of the infamous unindicted co-conspirators caught during the Abscam round-up.

Harry "Land Deal" Reid (D-NV), the Senate Democratic Leader who collected a $1.1 million windfall profit on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't owned the property for at least three years. Reid also did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company. The AP learned of the land deal from a former Reid aide concerned that the deal had been "hidden from Congress."

And, lest we forget, let's not omit Caroline Kennedy, who dropped out of contention for the New York Senate seat amidst reports of tax and nanny problems.

This is a world-class collection of losers, punks and crooks.

Culture of corruption? This isn't just a culture, it's an influenza-like epidemic.

But that's today's Democratic Party. They are among the sleaziest group assembled in Washington since the Teapot Dome.

Linked by: Vocal Minority and Curmudgeonisms. Thanks!

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