Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Spanish Inquisition, Republican Congressional Edition

For an obscure subcommittee hearing broadcast on C-Span, it was pretty exciting TV.  It was also a pretty disgusting display of Republican mendacity.  But what else is new?

The title of the latest attempt to sling more mud on Elizabeth Warren and her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was "Who's Watching the Watchmen?" But Democratic TARP and Oversight member Carolyn Maloney quipped today that it might more aptly have been named "Let's Pretend the Financial Crisis Never Happened."

And the Chairman of the Subcommittee had a typical Republican doublespeak of an opening statement too. "The American people have a right to know," Patrick McHenry (R-NC) was essentially complaining, "if the government is overreaching and unfairly protecting the American people by cracking down on the poor maligned banks and credit card companies!"

 The nature of the Republican questioning of Warren today by Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC),  was typically inquisitorial. McHenry's first lame tactic was to accuse her of having the nerve to talk to state attorneys general and the Dept. of Justice over the mortgage fraud settlements, and doing so behind the Republicans' backs, and then committing perjury by omission!  Apparently, he was under the mistaken impression that Warren needs Congressional okay before speaking with any government agency, and that she needs to report such discussions to him.  In person, presumably.  He pretty much accused her of lying to Congress.  He repeatedly interrupted her attempts to answer his questions with the usual prosecutorial "It's either a yes or a no!"

(McHenry, incidentally, has reason to hate and fear Warren. He came under fire last year while he was "investigating" the Countrywide subprime mortgage scandal, and it turned out he had accepted $5500 from the Countrywide PAC for his reelection campaign, and kinda-sorta forgot to let anybody know. But Chris Dodd got a sweetheart deal from Countrywide too, so they couldn't very well give Dodd a pass and then pick on McHenry, could they?)

The hearing had originally been scheduled for Tuesday morning, but was delayed until afternoon because of Bibi Netanyahu's joint session of Congress address.  Warren had another meeting scheduled, but agreed to answer questions for an hour. But when it came time for her to leave, a desperate McHenry (whose bullying questions had failed to break her), accused Warren of bailing out before her time was up.  When she tried to explain that her truncated testimony had already been agreed to by his own staff, he shrilled: "You're making that up!"

As Warren sat there, her mouth agape, Democratic committee member Elijah Cummings calmly noted that McHenry was again accusing her of lying.  McHenry sulkily backed down.

Earlier, Cummings had urged Warren to stay on in her position as head of the agency she had created after the financial meltdown of 2008. "I'm begging you to keep up the fight," he pleaded, noting that the full impact of the chicanery of the big deregulated banks had yet to be felt among his constituents.  Houses are still being foreclosed, the unemployment rate is still sky high, the banks have yet to be held accountable.  Warren's bureau is the only federal government agency to be focused exclusively on the consumer rights of families.

Cummings noted that while the banksters haul in an annual $59 billion in overdraft fees alone, the CFPB operates on a shoestring budget. Warren said that although the spending cap on the agency is $600 million, she expects it to operate for only half that amount next year.

Meanwhile, The New York Times was reporting that certain "Democratic officials" have been urging Warren to run against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race next year rather than stay on in the Bureau. These officials naturally are anonymous. This might sound like somebody helping her get into politics, but to me it smells more like a gentle nudge under the bus, and a way to make her go quietly away.  Her putative boss, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, has made no secret of his lack of enthusiasm for both her and the bureau.  Wall Street is not interested in consumers.  Geithner is obviously not interested in consumers.  Watch out for attempted "bipartisan compromises" down the road.

And watch out for next week, when Obama will have a golden opportunity to recess-appoint Warren during the Senate vacation.  Congressional Democrats have already written him a letter urging him to do just that.  This is one of those times to hold the president's feet to the fire as he has so famously urged his "base" to do.  And Warren herself has stated she has no plans to run for any political office.  She is staying right where she is.

And well she should. She is as popular in the U.S. as Obama apparently is in Ireland.  Since a primary challenge to him now seems out of the question, there is always 2016. She would win in a landslide. NY State Attorney General Eric Scheiderman might be a shoo-in too. Between the two of them, we have many fat little bankster rolling heads to look forward to. But watch out too for even more Republican smear campaigns while we're waiting for the roll-o-rama. 

She's Not Going Anywhere

Update:  some video from the hearing:


McHenry later told Politico he was shocked at what he called Warren's "blatant sense of entitlement". The MSM, let me add, is spinning this story as a spat between Warren and McHenry.  I watched the whole hearing and can attest that this North Carolina boor of a man had it out for her from the get-go: he essentially called her a liar a few minutes into the testimony, was rude and hardly allowed her to answer a single question.  If anything dragged the proceedings out, it was McHenry's grandstanding.  I don't think I could have been as cool and civil as Elizabeth Warren.  Watch the whole thing on C-Span and decide for yourself.

Update II 5/25 -- here is a petition going to President Obama asking that he recess-appoint Elizabeth Warren:



Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Thank you for keeping this story alive, Karen. I think it is THE single most important battle the Democrats should be fighting - those who aren't in collusion with the big banks, that is.

We citizens need to take action and make a big noise about this. We need to call and nag our representatives if we have a representative on the House Financial Services Committee. And we need to call the White House and demand Obama make a recess appointment.

Main Street needs this agency to protect us from Wall Street. If we can give it the independence and power it needs to regulate the banks, it will do a good job for us. THAT is why there are so many in-the-pocket-of-the-big-banks detractors trying to smear Warren and the CFPB. A smart, ethical director of a regulatory agency with power is a real threat to the corrupt, bully bankers.

Anonymous said...

Okay you guys! You want to do something? Call this guy's office and voice your "displeasure".
But let yourself calm down just a bit before making that call. They'll be only too happy to dismiss you as unamerican and unchristian. Just sound as smart as you are!

By the way....he got election money from Countrywide.

McHenry's office: 202-225-2576


Anonymous said...


Sorry! I was so pissed by the inqusition that I commeted before reading your post where I see you covered the Countrywide bit.


Kate Madison said...

Since Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC) called Elizabeth Warren a liar today in the congressional hearing about approving the CFPB, and refused to apologize to her afterwards, I think it is time for all of us to flood Rep. McHenry's congressional office with our disbelief at his despicable behavior AND tell him of our strong support for Elizabeth Warren!

His address and phone numbers are as follows:

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry
224 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
Telephone: 202.225.2576
Fax: 202.225.0316
Email: mchenry@house.gov

Remember, this is the loony-toons congressman from Bank of America (which is in his district and used to be Wachovia), and as others have noted, he is up to his ass in the Countrywide scandal!

John said...

It's a relief to hear Warren say she is not going for the bait of running for the Senate.

The Comments section is still open on this morning's Times story about the Democratic Senatorial Committee's trying to woo her away from the CFPB. Not clear where Sen Reid, who brought her to Washington in the first place, now stands on her appointment to the CFPB.


Following -- and working on -- this issue between now and July 21 is a must. If it turns sour, we should know where to place the blame and demand accountability. If all goes well, someone like Jon Stewart should throw a party on the Mall.

Jay - Ottawa

Kate Madison said...

I forgot to add in my comment, which I tried to keep clean and to the point:

arbiters of fake scandals, dust-ups and
infotainment, but care not a whit for the
truth and importance of any matter!

What is important is what SELLS!

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I might be reading the lady wrong, but Elizabeth Warren doesn't seem like a politician to me. She seems like a really good person who finds her particular expertise is needed and feels called to serve her country in this capacity - A REAL patriot - unlike the demagogs who try to bite at her ankles.

Would that our country be so lucky to have people of Elizabeth Warren's integrity and intelligence run for public office and be elected.

Anonymous said...

I have made my call to McHenry's office, whose staffer was as polite as he was rude, and claims she will forward my demand that he apologize on the floor of the House to Ms. Warren.

I agree with Jay, if Warren is appointed, we've got to meet on the Mall to celebrate....then, stay camped until we get a WPA style program to do disaster relief for all the tornado ravaged areas of our country.

Frightening to think tornado season could be this way every year from now on, and only worsening as the tempest of climate extremes rocks our little planet off its axis.

~DreamsAmelia (other profile links remain frequently broken)

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

We know what the "agenda" of the GOP is - and that's not going to change anytime soon. Their "agenda" is the same one it's been since the administration of President Grant nearly a century-and-a-half ago: to act as handmaidens for the corporate plutocracy.

BREAKING NEWS: They're are not on our side. They haven't been for a very long time. In fact, "Republican party" is a misnomer. They are no longer a political party. They are an organized criminal enterprise. Wake up. While the Democrats (in their present incarnation anyway) may be all-but-worthless, the GOP is beyond redemption.

The American people committed economic suicide when they handed the House of Representatives back to these jackals and jackasses.

And our downward spiral will only continue....


Tom Degan

Janet Camp said...

I've contacted everyone and made donations to ActBlue and again to Al Franken, who did an email on this.

She's our last hope for any meaningful financial reform.

Kate, et al, just kill your television. I did this years and years ago. It is soooo liberating not to have anything to do with that form of MSM. You'll have way more time to read books and blogs! You can watch clips of things you read about if you're really interested.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I woke up to e-mails from Bold Progressives and Credo asking me to sign petitions demanding Obama make a recess appointment. The word is spreading. I have posted it on my Facebook page - Don't have a clue as to whether I did this correctly but I have several ex-students who check in. I am making my phone calls today to the White House and to that jerk, McHenry's office.

I used to send e-mails but Robert Reich, in some long ago blog posting, wrote phone calls and actual letters carry more kick. Since postage is vetted (for mail bombs?)and slowed down by a couple of weeks, I figured the phone call is the best. - Just thought I would add that in case anyone reading these comments didn't know. -

jhand said...

With some exceptions such as Franken, Weiner, Pelosi, Kucinich, and several Black and Hispanic congressmen, most of the luminaries in Washington don't deserve to even be in the same room with Elizabeth Warren. i wonder how she sleeps at night, knowing that most of the people she tries to deal with in a rational, intelligent manner are either too ignorant or too self-serving to give a damn about what she is trying to accomplish. Washington does not deserve a person of the quality of Warren.

John said...

Honey, I didn't lose the kids, but I think my Mac crashed Sen McHenry's system with my email to his office. This is what his computer bounced back after it choked, a message worthy of Orwell:

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification
Delivery to the following recipient has been delayed:
Message will be retried for 2 more day(s)
Technical details of temporary failure:
The recipient server did not accept our requests to connect. Learn more at http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=7720
[house.gov (1): Connection timed out]

Maybe the problem was the subject line: "Elizabeth Warren." Can it be his IT staff now bars anything with her name, meaning McHenry must be feeling the heat, no? I sure hope so.

Jay- Ottawa

Karen Garcia said...

John, that is hilarious. To test your theory, I sent McH an email just now with the subject "I Love You" and then the message "Now do the right thing and apologize to Elizabeth Warren before the full House and notify all the cable channels of the time and date. Thanks, Not a Constituent." As far as I know, it's in his InBox, awaiting his fluttering black heart.

VLT said...

Jay and Karen - Thanks for that laugh! We have so few these days! Very cathartic!

John said...

Karen, good luck with your Valentine.

In case others try your fake-to-the-right move, be aware that I left out a lot of the nerdy detail that followed the quote from the bounce I posted above. I sent my email yesterday @ 7 PM. The notification came back after 10 PM tonight, a little over 27 hours. Something like punching your arrows through a mountain of peanut butter.

Tomorrow, like DreamsAmelia, I'll call Mac's passive-aggressive flack catcher.

Jay - Ottawa

Sharon said...

Although, being from MA. I would like nothing better than for Elizabeth Warren to run against Scott Brown, I am willing to make the sacrifice for the good of the country and promote a different candidate to run against the despicable Scott Brown. We are facing a redistricting issue, having lost one seat in the house. If it is Cong. Mike Capuanao's seat, he may be a strong enough contender to unseat the unsavory, corporate Toady Scott. Otherwise, so far, a viable contender has not yet appeared. We definitely need to return Sen. Kennedy's seat to the democrats to which it belongs.
As for McHenry he is beneath slime. You can also post comments to his facebook page via CoffeeParty.com. He has been getting slammed and rightfully so. It is amazing to me, as well as disheartening, that slimeballs like him, Boehner, McConnell, et al, get elected to office. Just shows how poor our educational system really is and has been for a very long time.

Anonymous said...

As a rule, I never sign online petitions or otherwise give out my personal information. Even if I'm not at risk for ID theft by doing so, I just don't want to be harassed by the resultant barrage of spam.

This time, however, I went there, did that. (Thanks for the link, Karen.) Signed the petition, and am now seriously contemplating e-mailing the little turd (I no longer have long distance phone service -- too expensive, and serves no purpose for me)to let him know how those of us with functioning synapses feel about his pathetic performance.

There are currently several men in the Democratic party for whom I could happily cast my vote for President: Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Al Grayson, Russ Feingold, and Bernie Sanders among them...but my dream ticket is Pelosi/Warren -- or Warren/Pelosi. Either iteration will do. Those two women are possessed of more macho than all the male Democrats in Congress combined. They have smarts, they have principles, they have backbone. And they're on our side.

Thing is, I suspect Ms. Warren is far too wise to dive into the cesspool of current American politics. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but in the meantime, I fear it's our loss.

Rose in Michigan