Archive for Barney Frank

Barney: Flaming A-Hole

Well, I’ll be bent over a sawhorse and buggered till I cry uncle.

Umm… don’t ask me why I react to this random act of journalism that way:

The morning after his retirement announcement, Rep. Barney Frank scored an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, gaining the opportunity to act as an elder statesman in front of a TV audience of millions. Instead, the Massachusetts Democrat chose to quarrel with the interviewer.

“You said that your district has been redrawn in a way that would make it more difficult for you to win reelection,” host Savannah Guthrie said.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t running because I was afraid I couldn’t win,” Frank retorted.

Guthrie asked for his response to those who take his retirement as a sign that the Democrats won’t win control of the House in 2012.

“I wish we could talk substance sometimes in the media,” Frank complained. “I know that’s against, kind of, apparently, the rules.” He went on to say that “I have decided not to serve until three months before my 75th birthday. I guess I don’t understand why that is so hard for people to grasp.”

The amiable Guthrie tried again. How does he feel about the worsening tone in Washington?

“Well, you exemplify what I think is a change in the tone,” Frank said. “You’ve managed to ask all sort of negative questions. .?.?. It’s ‘gotcha’ journalism. It’s ‘gotcha’ politics. And it does lessen our chances to get things done.”

The interviewer gave it a final attempt. Does Frank “feel any responsibility for your own role in, kind of, that tone that we do see in Washington?”

“Well, congratulations,” Frank said with derision. “You’re four-for-four in managing to find the negative approach.”

It was a chance for the nation to see what so many in the Capitol had seen up close over the years: That Barney Frank, liberal lion, gay pioneer and respected legislator, is also one mean and ornery S.O.B.

Cut him some slack you say? That’s just one interview?

No question, Frank is one of the smartest on Capitol Hill and probably the most colorful. But he is also one of the most notorious bullies, known for berating staff, alienating allies and causing aides to cower in fear of his gratuitous and frequent browbeatings.

The stories are legendary: making a young network employee cry when he scolded her for trying to un-rumple him before a TV appearance; demanding that an aide “answer the [expletive] question” before giving him a chance to respond; asking a woman escorting him to a Chicago meeting, “Why do you care what kind of flight I had?”

The invective poured forth with great fluency. He asked critics: “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” When the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim asked a question Frank didn’t like, he replied, “What is this, some kind of idiotic contest?”

If Barney’s colleagues in the Massachusetts Democratic caucus indeed did you-know-what him up the you-know-what, it’s probably because they thought the fat [bleep] deserved it. Local scribe and radio host, Howie Carr, reported he had heard that John Olver, whose “retirement” from the House (coerced suicide is closer to the truth) solved the problem of Massachusetts losing a seat in the House, was livid that Barney had decided to bow out. If Barney had let his intentions be known earlier, Olver might still have a district to run in.

What an entitled, selfish little prick. (That’s être, not avoir.)

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Barney, Barney, What’s the Hurry?

Take a seat, stay a little while. Can we get you something. Soft drink? Pillow?

If you thought Rep. Barney Frank was bad, his likely replacement is worse. Rep. Maxine Waters is Congress’ most anti-bank member — unless she owns stock in one, that is.

Waters is in line to take over from Frank on the powerful Financial Services Committee when he retires next year. On financial issues, the California liberal is even left of Frank, who was the chief architect of the disastrous banking overhaul bill bearing his name.

“As the next most senior member of the committee, I hope to use my experience to continue and expand his work in the committee,” Waters said. “I will continue to champion practical regulations.”

Really? As a key member of the Dodd-Frank conference committee, Waters authored the “practical” rule of requiring every bank regulatory agency to create an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

Really, a whole office? Wouldn’t just a desk or maybe a bureau have done?

Of course, I have no problem with the inclusion of anyone. But it was government meddling in banking affairs (namely the extortionist tactics used to make banks lend to bad credit risks) that created the mortgage mess and led the banking system to the abyss. If I thought Maxine “Love-That-Dirty” Waters was smart enough, I’d suspect her of torpedoing the system on purpose. I think Barack Obama is smart enough—and devious enough. Portraying the financial system as racist, corrupt, and failed, he can rebuild it in his own Marxist image.

As I said, Waters isn’t that smart. Her interests lie closer to home:

Despite Fannie’s and Freddie’s demise, Waters has no regrets. She lobbied to exclude them and their government-mandated affordable housing charter from the “sweeping financial reforms.” And she got her wish.

She also got another wish: a provision exempting minority-owned banks from the new oversight.

Quite interesting. Because at the same time she got that little gem added to the bill, she was under investigation for steering federal bailout money to a troubled minority-owned bank in which she and her husband held a large financial stake.

Good girl.

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Even Barney Frank Is Against Obama’s Death Panel

He is co-sponsoring a bill to repeal it.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank announced on Tuesday his support for the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a significant portion of President Obama’s health care overhaul.

Frank, who announced Monday that he would retire at the end of his current term in office, became the 12th Democrat, and the 212th member of the House, to co-sponsor Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe’s bill aimed at repealing the IPAB.

Frank is the most prominent Democrat to join Roe’s bipartisan repeal effort.

IPAB is a 15-member board, appointed by the president, scheduled to convene in 2014. In order to reduce per capita Medicare spending, the board will recommend levels at which Medicare recipients, including seniors, can be reimbursed for health care expenses.

In March, Roe told The Daily Caller the IPAB is the “real death panel” in the health care law, as compared to “end-of-life counseling” Obamacare provisions which former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin once deemed “death panels.”

“This one is the real baby right here — and most people missed this,” Roe told TheDC then. “What everybody was talking about, when you saw Sarah Palin and so forth, what they were talking about these advanced directives where you sit down and there’s sort of mandatory counseling — and Medicare paid for it. This IPAB got missed — and it’s the real death panel.”

The board would cap the total amount of money Medicare recipients could receive for care. Roe, a practicing physician before he entered politics, said health care decisions will ultimately be based solely on cost, instead of on the best possible health care outcomes for Medicare patients.

If he wasn’t retiring, he probably wouldn’t be doing this. And he’s doing the right thing.

- Aggie

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Why Bawney Wetiwed

In answer to Buck:

I think there are many truths. Barney had always said that as long as he had Newton and Brookline (largely liberal and somewhat Jewish), he’d be fine. So the redistricters took him at his word (wowd), and trimmed off the fishermen of New Bedford, etc. I never understood what the Portuguese trawlermen saw in him—and the old Mass 4th was a travesty, more resembling an eel than a congressional district—but he must have delivered the bait. Barney’s new district is more compact, but does indeed include more conservative towns.

But was he screwed? I say no. Even though Barney was a bit of a loner (no backslapping Irish pol he, at least not as typically meant), I still don’t see him as a martyr. The state had to eliminate a district, and John Olver (who? exactly) helpfully offered to retire. Everyone else got a piece of his district’s corpse.

I think Barney got old and entitled. Until 2010 he hadn’t had a serious challenger since forever, and his reaction was petulant, not political. Even a slick talker such as himself was having a harder and harder time explaining away Fannie and Freddie, but the old Barney would have taken up the fight. This old Barney took retreat as the better part of valor. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t whisper his retirement to them in advance.

When the redistricting commission took up the cause of minority rights, they didn’t mean Republicans, believe me. They fully expected a Democrat to be able to win. But maybe that Democrat wouldn’t be Barney. Maybe he was telling the truth when he said he didn’t want to have to introduce himself to new constituents. Not that we didn’t all know who he was—maybe because we did. Barney hasn’t had to be likable for years. His old district didn’t care.

He’ll be 72, and will have served 32 years in the US Congress (and another decade before that in state office). There will be no shortage of speaking and punditry opportunities, especially going into a presidential election. I bet he looks at his retirement as a promotion.

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Your Tax Dollars at Work

What, us worry?

Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and their regulator produced an accounting at the request of Congress.

The bulk of those expenditures — $132 million — went to defend Fannie Mae and its officials in various securities suits and government investigations into accounting irregularities that occurred years before the subprime lending crisis erupted. The legal payments show no sign of abating.

It is typical for corporations to cover such fees unless an executive is found to be at fault. In this case, if the former executives are found liable, the government can try to recoup the costs, but that could prove challenging.

Since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government in September 2008, their losses stemming from bad loans have mounted, totaling about $150 billion in a recent reckoning.

Freddie’s problems arose in 2003 when it disclosed that it had understated its income from 2000 to 2002; the company revised its results by an additional $5 billion. In 2004, Fannie was found to have overstated its results for the preceding six years; conceding that its accounting was improper, it reduced its past earnings by $6.3 billion.

Mr. Raines retired in December 2004 and Mr. Howard resigned at the same time. Ms. Spencer left her position as controller in early 2005. The following year, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, then the company’s regulator, published an in-depth report on the company’s accounting practices, accusing Fannie’s top executives of taking actions to manipulate profits and generate $115 million in improper bonuses.

The office sued Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer in 2006, seeking $100 million in fines and $115 million in restitution. In 2008, the three former executives settled with the regulator, returning $31.4 million in compensation. Without admitting or denying the regulator’s allegations, Mr. Raines paid $24.7 million and Mr. Howard paid $6.4 million; Ms. Spencer returned $275,000.

Fannie Mae also settled a fraud suit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting or denying the allegations; the company paid $400 million in penalties.

Richard S. Carnell, an associate professor at Fordham University Law School who was an assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial institutions during the 1990s, questions why Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and others, given their conduct detailed in the Housing Enterprise Oversight report, are being held harmless by the government and receiving payment of legal bills as a result.

“Their duty of loyalty required them to put shareholders’ interests ahead of their own personal interests,” Mr. Carnell said. “Had they cared about the shareholders, they would not have staked Fannie’s reputation on dubious accounting. They defied their duty of loyalty and served themselves. At a moral level, they don’t deserve indemnification, much less payment of such princely sums.”

How did Barney Frank put it before one of his many reelections?

… I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two government sponsored enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis.

Some of the critics of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say that the problem is that the Federal Government is obligated to bail out people who might lose money in connection with them. I do not believe that we have any such obligation.

Foxes, hen houses, you know what I’m trying to say.

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A Tale of Two Speeches

Barney Frank, in victory:

“With the re-election of the Massachusetts delegation and Gov. Deval Patrick, we can reaffirm the complete political irrelevance of the Boston Herald,” Frank told more than 100 supporters at the Crowne Plaza in Newton. “There is no limit to the bias and vitriol they unleashed.”

Frank, 70, spoke at length of the strain of the “vitriolic” campaign on him and his partner, James Ready, and complained the “campaigns of most Republicans are beneath the dignity of democracy.”

[Cue Howie Carr:]

Now, we know one of Barney’s big problems with this newspaper is that reporter Dave Wedge videotaped his partner, James Dude Ready, giving the needle to Sean Bielat after a debate a couple of weeks ago. Wedge rolled tape. In Barney’s world this is bias and vitriol.

See, no one is supposed to say anything about Barney. Certainly the Globe treats him with kid gloves. For example, he’s present at a house in Maine with marijuana plants growing, but he doesn’t know what marijuana looks like. He used to live with a male prostitute named Hot Bottom, but you can’t mention that either, because it’s homophobia. And then there was Barney’s former partner, Herb Moses, who made a six-figure salary at Fannie or Freddie – I can never remember which.

Barney, you won. In fact, you now know you’ll never lose, never have to work a real job, never have to live among the plebes. With this reelection, you are certain to live out your golden showers—I mean years—in the semi-retirement of the minority party in the US House of Representatives.

And instead, you act like a loser—the loser that you are.

This is how to deliver a victory speech:

Rubio, flanked by his loving family, opened graciously with words of thanks to Charlie Crist and words of praise for the “dignity and strength” of Kendrick Meek. He emphasized the importance of his family, thanked his wife, and went on to outline his own story as someone who rose through the Cuban-American immigrant community. “I will always be the son of exiles,” he said, “and will always be the heir of two generations of unfulfilled dreams.” This statement would carry emotional weight for anyone watching, imbued as it is with the classic story of the American dream — but it was all the more poignant knowing that Rubio’s father had died just two months ago. (His mother, Coria, standing with her son last night, got to see the dream of watching her son rise to be a U.S. Senator fulfilled.)

And:

“The United States is simply the greatest nation in all of human history,” Mr. Rubio said. But he added, “it requires action on our part.”

“We’re making a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican party,” Mr. Rubio said in his 15-minute speech. “What they are is a second chance — a second chance for Republicans to be what they said were going to be not so long ago.”

I remember how it turned my stomach the way people got weak-kneed at a mere speech by then state senator Obama in 2004. So, I’ll chose not to do the same with Rubio. But he is a very impressive character. And Rush is right: as a conservative Latino, he is the Democrats worst nightmare.

Rubio is the future; Frank is the behind.

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Funny… And Not Good When WBUR Hedges Their Bets

This article discusses a similar race in Rhode Island where the good old boy lost.

So, maybe we’ll have a little hope ‘n change in Massachusetts for once.

- Aggie

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Funny Political Ad

Do The Bubble

- Aggie

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Fat Cat

Can Barney Frank lose fast enough and big enough? Not weight, obviously, but the election? If he doesn’t lose to the perfect candidate that is Sean Bielat, he’ll never lose. Ever.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, in an intensifying clash with GOP upstart Sean Bielat, has pledged not to take campaign cash from lenders that got federal bailouts — yet has raked in more than $40,000 from bank execs and special interests connected to the staggering government loans, a Herald review found.

Just yesterday, Frank made new campaign finance disclosures showing he received $17,000 from top executives of Bank of America — including $2,000 from CEO Brian Moynihan. B of A received $45 billion in bailout money. In all, Frank has hauled in at least $27,000 since 2009 from bank execs — and $13,000 from PACs — connected to banks that received TARP funding….

In a related story:

U.S. taxpayers could be on the hook for up to another $215 billion in aid to housing finance giants Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) through 2013, their regulator said on Thursday.

The companies, which were seized by the federal government in September 2008 to save them from collapse, will likely have total capital needs of between $221 billion and $363 billion through 2013, the Federal Housing Finance Agency estimated.

The estimate includes the $148 billion that the two companies, the largest providers of U.S. home loan funding, have already received in the form of preferred stock purchases by the U.S. Treasury.

In other cultures in other times, he would be put in the stocks and pelted with rotten vegetables.

Good times, eh Barney?

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Barney Frank Dances Around The Issues

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