If You Bernie-ites Don’t Believe Me, Try Barney Frank

Thanks to a commenter on this blog, I was reminded of a segment from MSNBC’s Hardball that featured Barney Frank—last summer—who made many of the points about the Sanders-Clinton race that I have been trying to make lately. I would ask—no beg—all sincere progressives who don’t like Hillary Clinton and are enamored of Bernie Sanders to watch the six-minute segment below and read Frank’s essay (“Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie“) and then think about what is at risk if Republicans win this fall:


Allen West And Mittens: “Dissociated From Reality”

Leave it to Barney Frank to perfectly characterize the recent McCarthyesque remarks of Allen West, Republican congressman from Florida.  West had this exchange at a town hall event:

Questioner: What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?

Allen West: It’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party…It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Barney Frank told The Huffington Post:

Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid and dissociated from reality. It’s an indication of the significant deterioration of the Republican Party as a responsible entity that an ignorant, mean guy like Allen West is considered one of their stars.

Stupid” and “dissociated from reality” is just about right. And Frank is certainly right that today’s GOP is not your father’s GOP.

Or, for that matter, Mitt Romney’s father’s GOP. Despite his reputation for gaffe-making, does anyone believe that George Romney would have said this:

There’s been some talk about a war on women. The real war on women has been waged by the Obama administration’s failure on the economy. Do you know what percentage of job losses during the Obama years of have been casualties of women losing jobs as opposed to men? Do you know how many women, what percent of the job losses were women? 92.3 percent of the job losses during the Obama years have been women who’ve lost those jobs.

That was not a Romney family gaffe. It was pure deception. Mittens made that statement on Wednesday as a way of improving his miserable standing among women voters. And in a way, it is sort of sad that a man who will be the Republican candidate for president has to resort to such dishonest tactics. Doing so is, well, if not technically “stupid,” at least “dissociated from reality.”

The reality can be found here and here and here. But Jordan Weissmann of The Atlantic summed it up nicely:

The Romney campaign is counting job losses that occurred literally the day Obama took office, which is a bit like blaming the fire fighter for not traveling back in time to stop the fire. It also ignores the fact that, before women started losing work en masse, millions of men had already been handed pink slips. Between December 2007 and January 2009, about 3.3 million men lost their jobs, versus 1.2 million women. Was President Bush waging a war on Y chromosomes? Hardly. That’s just the natural pattern of a recession. Male dominated fields like construction and manufacturing are more sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy, so when times get tough, their jobs tend to disappear faster, and in larger numbers. Women, who are concentrated in fields like healthcare, government, and education, tend to feel the pain less severely.

Weissmann makes an additional point, a point that Democrats should make to women at every campaign stop:

Romney should be careful with his talking point. All those women who lost work? About two-thirds of them were laid off from government jobs. And a lot of them lived in states governed by Republicans.

It is no secret that state and local government employment has been shrinking. And it is no secret that women make up a disproportionate part of that work force. Weissmann offered this graph:

The Taxed-Enough-Already Republican Party has argued for smaller government, and smaller government means fewer government employees, and fewer government employees means greater job losses among women.

From January 2009 to March of 2012, there was a net job loss of 740,000, most of which (683,000) were jobs held by women (this is the basis for the Romney near-lie). But of those 683,000 lost jobs, most of them were lost in the public sector.

Here’s Weissmann’s pie chart:

Now, given that Romney is convincingly running as a small-government teapartier, he should applaud these job losses, at least 64% of them. But as Weissmann points out, there is more to it. Here is another pie chart:

You can see that most of the job losses—at least 72%—occurred in states that have been under Tea Party control since 2010. And yet Mittens incredibly blames Obama for it!  And one must keep in mind that these job losses at the state and local level happened despite the fact that Obama’s stimulus plan kept some states from laying off even more workers.

So, Romney’s deceitful play for a bigger chunk of the female vote will, if Democrats can make the case effectively, backfire on him. Just like Allen West’s attempt to become a hero of McCarthyite Republicans has made a fool out of him.

Newton’s Fourth Law

The veracity of a statement remains obscure unless the statement is fact-checked by a journalist.”

—Found in the apocryphal works of Newton Leroy Gingrich


Barney Frank said today that Mitt Romney is a “very, very lucky man” because he will essentially become the Republican nominee by default. Yep, that’s what I’ve been saying, too.

Frank, you may remember, was essentially sentenced to the hoosegow via Newtonian logic in the October GOP debate in New Hampshire. Speaking of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Newton Gingrich said:

If they want to really change things, the first person to fire is Bernanke, who is a disastrous chairman of the Federal Reserve.  The second person to fire is Geithner.  The fact is, in both the Bush and the Obama administrations, the fix has been in, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people to be angry.  But let’s be clear who put the fix in.  The fix was put in by the federal government.  And if you want to put people in jail, I want to second what Michele said: You ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.  And let’s look at the politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the environment, and the politicians who put this country in trouble.

CHARLIE ROSE: Clearly, you’re not saying they should go to jail.

GINGRICH:  Well, in Chris Dodd’s case, go back and look at the Countryside deals.  In Barney Frank’s case, go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to at — at the — at Freddie Mac.  All I’m saying is, everybody…in the media who wants to go after the business community ought to start by going after the politicians who have been at the heart of the sickness which is weakening this country…

Unfortunately for Newt, he has been revealed as one of those politicians who has been “at the heart of the sickness.”  In fact, you might say he profited handsomely from the disease. From Bloomberg:

Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.

Uh-oh. I wonder if Newt will place himself under citizens arrest and send himself to jail with Barney Frank?

It turns out that Newt explained his relationship with Freddie Mac as recently as last week, during the CNBC Republican debate:

HARWOOD: …Speaker Gingrich…your firm was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac in 2006. What did you do for that money?

GINGRICH: Were you asking me?


GINGRICH: I offer them advice on precisely what they didn’t do. (LAUGHTER) Look — look, this is not — this is not…

HARWOOD: Were you not trying to help Freddie Mac fend off the effort by the Bush administration…

GINGRICH: No. No, I do — I have never…

HARWOOD: … and the — to curb Freddie Mac.

GINGRICH: I have — I assume I get a second question. I have never done any lobbying. Every contract was written during the period when I was out of the office, specifically said I would do no lobbying, and I offered advice.

And my advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, “We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do,” as I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible. It turned out, unfortunately, I was right and the people who were doing exactly what Congresswoman Bachmann talked about were wrong…

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative “Opinion Blogger” for The Washington Post, wrote today:

Newt Gingrich’s relationship with Freddie Mac is becoming a problem, or more specifically, his failure to level with voters about what he did for the lender, is becoming a problem. He claims he got $300,000 to be an “historian.” Freddie Mac says something different… 

What Freddie Mac says, according to Bloomberg, is that,

the former House speaker was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.

If that ain’t lobbying then there ain’t no such a thing as lobbying.

Back to the conservative Ms. Rubin:

…Gingrich denies he was a “lobbyist.” But that’s a red herring. What Gingrich has been is a high-flying Washington influence peddler who took big money to hawk for interests that surely didn’t have a free-market bent.

If he’s not serious about running for president he can stonewall all he likes. But if he wants to do more than raise his speaking fees and book sales he needs to come clean and reveal all his “consulting” arrangements. His refusal to do so only underscores the problems with his candidacy and the inherent contradiction at the heart of his message: The man who personifies Washington influence buying is selling himself as the cure to Washington corruption and self-dealing.

Man, that Mitt Romney sure is a lucky guy.

How Barney Frank Can Become President

If I needed another reason to avoid Texas, I found one today.

The governor of that state, former Texas A&M cheerleader Rick Perry, endorsed the views of Glenn Beck and made him an “honorary Texan,” which come to think of it, fits very well.

But Pom-pon Perry did us a favor by correctly pointing out Beck’s proper place on the star-studded right-wing, including the Tea Party movement. 

At a “Taking Back America” event in Tyler, Texas, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Perry said:

The governor described Beck as a national leader of a powerful group sending a message to the current administration and congress about Washington, D.C., how to control spending and Americans taking their country back.

A national leader.  That’s Glenn Beck. 

He speaks for the pale-faced patriots in the tea parties. 

He speaks for the God-fearing folks in the country who just want “their” country back. 

He speaks for those who believe Barack Obama’s presidency is a curse from God, sort of God’s way of saying, “I want a tax cut,” or something like that.

One person who didn’t need Glenn to speak for him at the event last Saturday was Texas state representative Leo Berman, who said:

I believe that Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us today, but in 2012, we are going to make Obama a one-term president.

Now, I know a little about divine retribution, having read about it in the Old Testament, and if Mr. Berman thinks the country can escape so easily from an Angry God, he’d better think again.  

Making Glenn Beck an honorary Texan and calling President Obama a socialist and parading patriotically around Tea Party rallies in powdered wigs will not appease the Almighty’s sense of justice.

We need to do more than that or else.

If anyone thinks Obama is a curse from God, how about President Barney Frank?  How would that bit of godly chastisement tickle the toes of teapartiers in Tyler?

Better get on your knees boys and girls or we could soon have a sodomite in the White House!

“Vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord.

Ready For Your Breakfast, Goldman Sachs?

Admittedly, some of the stuff surrounding the near-collapse of the financial industry and the current reform efforts to prevent another disaster are a little hard to understand sometimes, but Wednesday Barney Frank offered some clarity. 

He said that the Republican’s opposition to the Democratic financial reform bill in the Senate was based either on ignorance or dishonesty. It’s not that Republicans are in bed with Wall Street bankers, he said, it’s that Wall Street bankers are in bed and Republicans are serving them breakfast in bed.

Now, that I can understand.

All day Wednesday I listened to the on-the-half-hour news updates on right-wing radio, I listened to NPR, and I watched the network news Wednesday evening,  and I heard pretty much the same thing: Republicans oppose the financial reform bill proposed by the Democrats because, in the words of Mitch McConnell, the chief of Republican obstructionists in the U.S. Senate, it “guarantees future bailouts of Wall Street banks” and “endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks.

The only problem with what McConnell said is that it happens to be a lie, and it is a lie that all national reporters know is a lie, but for some reason neglected to point out. 

In fact, it is a lie constructed by the Republican propagandist and lie-maker, Dr. Frank Luntz, as Sam Stein pointed out a few months ago:

…Republican message guru Frank Luntz has put together a playbook to help derail financial regulatory reform… Luntz urged opponents of reform to frame the final product as filled with bank bailouts, lobbyist loopholes, and additional layers of complicated government bureaucracy.

Stein obtained a 17-page memo titled, “The Language of Financial Reform,” and you have to hand it to the Republicans: they know how to stick to a game plan. 

Unfortunately for the American people, that game plan is designed to offer lies to voters in order to exploit their dislike of Wall Street, all the while Republicans are whispering to the nervous bankers/gamblers that they will do everything they can to protect their racket, particularly their gambling in the mystical world of derivatives.

Most galling of all, though, is Luntz’s view on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which as proposed would put the interests of consumers ahead of the often predatory lenders who caused so much damage to the economy. Luntz wrote:

Ordinarily, calling for a new government program “to protect consumers” would be extraordinary popular. But these are not ordinary times.  The American people are not just saying “no.”  They are saying “hell no” to more government agencies, more bureaucrats, and more legislation crafted by special interests.

Why would the American people reject an agency designed to protect their interests?  Because the Republicans were so bad at regulating the financial industry (deliberately or not), the public does not trust the government to do so in the future. In other words, because of either Republican malfeasance—failure to adequate do the job of ensuring that things were not spinning out of control—or because of an ideological willingness to let bankers have their way—all government efforts are tainted. 

Here are a couple of graphs Luntz uses to show the lack of confidence among the public:

I can’t think of anything more cynical than to use your own failures as a way to both screw the public and get yourself elected, but then we are talking about the Republican Party. 

Are you ready for your breakfast, Goldman Sachs?  Need your pillow fluffed up?  How about a….

That’ll have to wait until Republicans are in power again.

Can There Be 41 Jim Bunnings?

As Ryan Grim of HuffPo reports, the Democrats in the Senate are about to make a serious mistake over the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which was originally designed to have independent authority to regulate the financial industry and keep it from continuing to rip off American consumers.

Let’s hope Barney Frank can stop them.

Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, in yet another attempt to compromise with Republicans, has come up with an idea to place the proposed new agency under the umbrella of the Federal Reserve, where it will, no doubt, go to die a slow death.

“I thought that was a joke,” [Frank] said. “Even by Senate standards, that’s mind-boggling.”

In fact, as Frank points out, the Federal Reserve already has the power to protect consumers from unfair banking practices:

The Fed has had authority over consumer financial protection for years but consciously decided not to use it, despite a congressional mandate to do so. In 1994, Congress instructed the Fed to protect consumers from subprime loans, but when Republicans took over in 1995, then-Chairman Alan Greenspan decided he could ignore the directive. The rules weren’t put in place until Democrats retook control of Congress and the crisis was well underway.

Mockingly, Frank continued:

The Federal Reserve is undemocratic, it’s non-transparent, it’s elitist, it’s arrogant: Let’s give them consumer protection.

Grim reported the reason that the Senators are leery of allowing the proposed agency to have independence:

The banks and Dodd’s chief negotiating partners, Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) argue that banking regulators must have veto power over consumer protections, because restricting some bank activities could harm the institutions and put at risk their “safety and soundness.”

But Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) wondered aloud how banks could argue that preventing them from ripping off consumers puts them in jeopardy.

“It would be one thing if they were saying, ‘They’re making us do things that will cause us to lose money.’ But they’re saying, ‘If you don’t let us do these things because they’re abusive to consumers, we won’t make enough money to survive,'” Miller said.

“The legislation doesn’t require the banks to offer anything. It would prohibit certain practices. So their argument is, they have to be able to cheat consumers to stay solvent. I’m not sure I’m persuaded by that argument, or that a bank that has to cheat consumers to stay solvent is one we should keep afloat.”

If Democrats in the Senate persist in bedding down with Republicans and giving up on real legislation that would actually curtail some of the practices that led to our near economic meltdown, and if people like Frank can’t stop them, then enthusiasm to keep such Democrats in office will evaporate completely.

We’re getting closer and closer to that as it is, and Democrats have to show, even if they go it alone, that they are on the side of the consumer, and against the big banks, when it comes to practices that clearly are wrong, even if profitable.

Speaking of the Senate, Frank says,

They better vote on this. If they want to kill consumer protection, let there be 41 Jim Bunnings over there.

12 Minutes On Republican Obstructionism

If you have about 12 minutes, you won’t waste it by watching the following clip from Monday’s Rachel Maddow Show. It featured a brief survey of ongoing Republican obstructionism in Congress and an interview of Barney Frank, who outlined a very different version of recent political history from what you get from right-wingers on television, radio, and the op-ed section of the Joplin Globe.

As usual, Saint Rachel, a liberal, does a great job of presenting a cogent analysis of what is going on.  And, of course, conservatives will dispute her analysis and challenge Frank’s version of history.  I only ask that people listen to both sides of the debate and decide for themselves. 

It’s not that hard to figure out who’s telling the truth and who has something to hide.  

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