I was away for most of the day and checked into Dkos before I was planning to go to bed. Then I saw this Diary, Grover "Jack Abramoff Scandal" Norquist Calls Rahm Out?
Now I always check out a Diary when I see the names Abramoff or Norquist in the title. I’ve been researching these two scumbags since 1998 and writing about them at Daily Kos since 2004.
As I read the Diary steam began to flow from my ears. I could not believe what I was reading, so I went to check the source material. The Atlantic had an item about it and a copy of the letter that Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist sent to the Attorney General. Now I was spitting mad. As I read the letter I could only repeat WTF, WTF, WTF over and over again.
To the jump...
There have been many other Diaries written about what a scumbag Norquist is and why folks are shocked to see a self-proclaimed leader of the progressive movement like Hamsher make common cause with this despicable little prick. While these comments make part of the case, they just do not dig deep enough.
Grover Norquist is a lifelong Right-Wing warrior. Destroying all progressives and any progressive/liberal agenda is his life’s work. He is very good at and has been finding useful idiots to help him divide and conquer progressives for over thirty years.
Norquist started this work with Jack Abramoff at his side. One party rule has always been their goal and Democrats and liberals have always been their blood enemies. Destroying progressives and everything we believe is their life's work. It is what they do.
Grover is deeply connected to Abramoff. Perhaps nobody goes back as far with Jack as Norquist.
Back in 1978 they took over the College Republicans in Massachusetts. In 1980, using an absentee ballot scam, Jack and Grover delivered enough ballots to win the state for Reagan. The two came to DC as stars of the conservative movement. Both played a role in the Iran-Contra scandal and both worked for the South African Secret Police through the front group, the International Freedom Foundation (IFF).
Here are Jack and Grover with Reagan promoting their work on behalf of South Africa (it is an IFF promotional folder that Jack and Grover are presenting Ron in the third image and the boys used this photo in their direct mail fundraising campaigns on behalf the the Apartheid finance organization):
These two created Ralph Reed and inflicted him upon the world and they spawned a host of other lobbyists, activists, media whores, think tankers, staffers and politicians that make up the extreme conservative movement in America. Jack Abramoff’s ability to lobby and be successful as the point of the spear for the K Street Project depended upon Norquist and his weekly gathering of DC conservatives (Jack’s in jail, but these weekly meetings go on—perhaps Ms. Hamsher will be Grover’s featured guest at a future meeting). The sweatshops, sexshops, human trafficking and systematic labor abuse on the Marianas Islands have Grover Norquist to thank for their protection by Republicans just as much as they have Abramoff to thank (and Jack kicked back funds to Grover as part of the circle of "thank yous"). Norquist should be in jail, but he was protected by McCain, Rove, Bush and Congress. Now he is still out on the streets of DC and making fresh "alliances" with gullible and foolish people within the progressive movement. Sadly, Jane Hamsher is one of those foolish people.
Now, I am certain that she does not see this the way I do and over at FDL, she offered a spirited defense of her alliance with Grover Norquist. She opens with a list of campaigns by other progressive organizations that had the support of Norquist over the years, and she wonders why those efforts were OK and that hers is not (more on this in a moment). Then she goes into the heart of her justification for an alliance with Norquist (emphasis added):
They [the other progressive groups she mentions] all know who Grover Norquist is and what his political history is. So do I. That’s not the point.
In this instance, the fact is that most "liberals" who work at institutions can’t step out and take a shot at Rahm, because Rahm would take it out on their organizations. That leaves the people on the right — those out of Rahm’s reach — who can be called upon to get the media "heft" you need to call attention to an issue. The year-end deadline for doubling the Fannie/Freddie commitment to $800 billion was fast approaching, and it’s hard as hell to get media traction on something over the holidays.
So, it’s not an issue of "personalities." It never should be. It’s about principles. And principles aren’t pliant — you either have them or you don’t. You can’t just use them as a yardstick to measure the inadequacy of people you don’t like, and then throw them away when it comes to your "friends."
Rahm Emanuel is destroying not only the Democratic majority but the Democratic Party. There isn’t enough pork in the world to hold his "Blue Dogs" in office with the legacy of bailouts that he has engineered, and that’s why his "big tent" is now collapsing in his wake. Parker Griffin, and now (possibly) Chris Carney, may blame Nancy Pelosi for their defections to the GOP, but that’s pure demagogurery. The mess they are fleeing — the corrupt back-room deals, the endless bailouts — belong to Rahm.
The ground is shifting. You can feel it. And the Rahm dead-enders have become no different than the Bush dead-enders, completely unaware that the President whose malfeasance they are defending on the basis that one must not "consort with Republicans" is the one who ran on — consorting with Republicans. It is knee-jerk authoritarianism in the extreme. Rick Warren is okay because Obama says so. Principles? Who needs them.
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.
I just do not know where to begin with such crap. She is forced to work with Norquist because progressives are too weak and lame to work with because we do not follow her blindly on the attack? Really? WTF. Her alliance with Norquist is based on "principles"? Really? Like what? The only thing she seems to outline is that she hates Emanuel and thinks that Obama is as bad or worse than Bush and that anybody who disagrees with her framing is a sellout, corporate loving Obamabot or something. Really? WTF
Mostly this seems to be about anger and that never leads to good policy or good decisions. This Hamsher/Norquist alliance is a case in point.
And the heart of her alliance with Norquist is the fact that she is lending her support and credibility to the conservative conspiracy theory that the financial meltdown was caused by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lending money to poor people through the Community Investment Act and Community Banks. It is an article of faith among conservatives that Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama forced Freddie and Fannie to engaged in risky loans and that these two mortgage giants forced the big banks to do the same. And then the system crashed. See, in wing-nut world everything bad that happened to the economy was caused by poor people taking advantage of the system. This is a scandal that the wing-nuts want exposed just like they want that whole birth certificate thing exposed, and the ACORN thing exposed, and the death panel thing exposed, and the government’s dirty hands on your Medicare thing exposed, and the socialist takeover of America exposed, and the... WTF is she thinking.
The Norquist/Hamsher letter calls for the Attorney General to appoint a "Special Prosecutor" to get to the bottom of this "scandal". Here it is in full:
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 potentially 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 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.
Americans for Tax Reform
First, I have to say that I did a spit take when I read that Norquist describes what he does at Americans for Tax Reform as being the "conservative head of a transparency foundation". Now that is some bold spin completely at odds with reality, but I digress.
It is odd and funny that the letter is only signed by Hamsher and Norquist. And yet, in her defense of this action, Ms Hamsher points to a number of other progressive efforts over the years that Norquist signed onto. There is a big difference that Hamsher is trying to sweep under the rug by grouping her actions with the other progressive efforts that had included Norquist as a signatory. Her alliance with Norquist is fundamentally different than the other efforts that she cites in her defense.
The biggest difference is that the other examples she cites were driven by a progressive organization. Norquist was just another person signing on to get aboard their bus. He was just another name, among many, endorsing a letter. It was not Grover’s letter. It was not Grover’s core agenda and he had reasons that made sense within the scope of his conservative agenda each time he joined one of those efforts.
In the case of the letter that Jane Hamsher signed onto, she decided to get on Grover's bus and endorse his agenda. You can read the letter above. It basically is a way for the wingnuts to try and gin up a scandal about poor people getting loans. It is an effort fueled by their manufactured "populist rage". Ms Hamsher has let her rage (and her "rage envy") sweep her into an embrace of Grover’s agenda and now she gets to be his token "liberal" stooge in this attack on a progressive agenda concerning housing policy and community banking. Finding a "progressive voice" to support a conservative attack is a tactic that Grover has used over and over again in his forty years of working to destroy progressives and their agenda.
For all of her bluster and name calling, Hamsher is just a passenger on Grover's train and she is actively giving her support to the right wing's myth that the financial meltdown was caused by Fannie and Freddie lending money to poor people.
Her hatred has trumped reality and as a result, she embraces Norquist and the right-wing because they also oppose the Senate Bill and the agenda of President Obama. She admits as much in her defense of her alliance with Norquist:
...most "liberals" who work at institutions can’t step out and take a shot at Rahm, because Rahm would take it out on their organizations. That leaves the people on the right — those out of Rahm’s reach — who can be called upon to get the media "heft" you need to call attention to an issue...
Oh yes, another right wing meme endorsed, the Chicago way. Obama and Rahm are gangsters who will whack you if you get out of line and so, poor Jane is forced to make common cause and embrace right wing myth after myth and meme after meme. WTF.
Now, one can follow Ms. Hamsher if you wish, but you should do so with your eyes wide open. You can not make an active alliance with people dedicated to destroying a progressive agenda—by any means necessary—and then pretend that you're doing something to promote a progressive agenda. Once you decide to sign onto Grover's agenda, I’m afraid that you can only be his useful idiot.
As far as I am concerned, an active alliance with Norquist—on his terms and promoting his spin and agenda—is a bridge too far. If you do not see this issue that way, fine. Whatever. I will hope for your return to the reality based community, but in the meantime I will take anything you say with a big grain of salt.
The corruption of Grover Norquist is massive, deep and (IMHO) evil. Yes, Jane Hamsher has done some good things, but making common cause with Norquist is despicable and indefensible. I for one can not go there. I know way too much about Norquist. As of this point, I just have to turn my back on Jane Hamsher and discount as useless her advice on any issue.
As I see it, this alliance is a blatant betrayal of the progressive movement, regardless how you choose to define it. She has signed on with Grover on signed on to his terms. She has ceded to him whatever credibility she had and actively calls on others to follow her in this betrayal. And betrayal, IMHO, is too weak of a word to use for this action. (It is like signing onto a letter drafted by John Yoo asking the Attorney General to investigate how Rahm Emanuel corruptly influence the decision to move Gitmo detainees to Illinois)
Jane Hamsher has let her hatred trump her judgment. I know Grover Norquist and I have followed the way that he works too closely to let anybody try and justify this betrayal to me with spin and "hey, look over there" arguments. I’m not buying it and it does not justify this alliance with Norquist.
If you want to fight with Rahm Emanuel, fine. If you want to pretend that he is your chosen personification of evil on this earth, go ahead. Whatever. But, if you decide that your hatred of Rahm is stronger than common sense, if you decide that you must join Jane Hamsher in making common cause with a shitbag like Norquist to attack Democrats, the President and his agenda, well then—and I mean this in the most civil way possible—go to hell. You have let your anger and your desire to piss farther and harder than you think Rahm can piss cloud your judgment.
Surrendering to anger and embracing people who are dedicating to destroying every aspect of a progressive agenda is a strategy guaranteed to fail. And if you think Jane is going to get the better end of a bargain with Grover, you are naive and deeply mistaken. Grover has been in this game a lot longer than she has. He was effectively caught in the Abramoff scandal and managed not only to survive, but to thrive.
As I mentioned, I've been away from Dkos most of the day. I was not planning to write a Diary, nor did I want to step into this latest Dkos pie fight. But an active alliance with a prick like Grover Norquist is a bridge too far. It is a shocking development. It feels like a knife in the back and I am very angry at this foolish sell-out of the progressive movement.
Others will feel very differently. Some will no doubt attack me for negatively responding to this Hamsher/Norquist alliance. So be it and so it goes.