Below is a transcript from a Georgene Rice KPDO FM interview with Michelle Malkin, investigative reporter, syndicated columnist and author of “Invasion” and her latest book, “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies”
Georgene: For those of us who have had an ear to the media for any length of time, we thought the culture of corruption only applied to the Republicans—one single party. Your book, however, seems to suggest that there is a broader culture than perhaps the mainstream would have us believe.
Malkin: I believe I do make a comprehensive case that this label, this tarring in epithet, that Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi slapped on to the Republican party to great effect in the 2006 midterms and then invoked the “culture of corruption” over and over again—has finally come to boomerang right back on the Democrat majority and Obama and his team of tax cheats, crooks and cronies specifically. I have compiled a 400 page book that includes case after case and profile after profile of the kind of corruptive graft and influence peddlers that Barack Obama and Michelle Obama promised they would get rid of. A lot of people are familiar with the high profile cases like Tom Daschel and Bill Richardson, but there are so many others, and it really is top to bottom every inch of this administration—not only the nominees who failed, but the ones who barely made it through by the skin of their teeth. There are upwards of 44 of these appointees who escaped public scrutiny and congressional oversight altogether.
Georgene: You refer to these nominees as the Obama “nominee withdrawal syndrome”. I think a lot of people found it very intoxicating to hear someone speak about the culture in Washington and wanting to do something dramatically different. Even people who had very differing political ideologies were lured in to what sounded very much like the potential for something dramatically different in Washington. Where did the administration go wrong? Was this just an extension of Chicago-style politics from the very beginning, or was there a corrupting influence in Washington that somehow moved things in a direction that was foreign to what the president had articulated and intended?
Malkin: I think it’s a bit of both. I think it’s very important to go back and look at the kind of cronies and power brokers that brought Barack Obama into the fold, and that starts with his wife. I dedicate a chapter to the woman I call the “first crony”: .Michelle Obama. She was the literal heir to the Chicago patronage. Her father was a patronage appointee under the Daley administration, and despite her constant carping about how bitter and mean this country was and her very effective use of the politics of racial resentment, she herself was quite a beneficiary of the “old boy” network that she condemned in her Princeton thesis. She went from Princeton to Harvard Law School to Findley and Austin, one of the most prestigious law firms in Chicago.
From there she hooked up with many key members of the Daley administration, including Valerie Jarrett, who now advises both Barack and Michelle Obama. She followed Jarrett to the University of Chicago Medical Center where she had a nice, cushy six figure job with a very long title, which she used to reward her other crony friends, including David Axelrod—the master of “astroturf”—the political strategist who owned a corporate communications company, which used fake grass roots to convince people that bad medicine was good. In that case, Michelle Obama, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett all conspired to hatch what was essentially a patient dumping scheme at the University of Chicago Medical Center. In other words, they redirected poor minority patients away from the ER at the University of Chicago to community health centers and put them on buses far, far away from this prestigious ER.
Georgene: Another is Joe Biden. I think he has a long enough history in Washington that people had some idea who Joe Biden was. But he was really marketed as the “average guy”…he’s just one of us who happens to be in Washington….he is more of a reflection of the average American guy.
Malkin: Well, that is the image that he was able to perpetuate over 30 years as an entrenched senior senator from Delaware. One of the richest ironies I found in writing and researching this book came at a time when Barack Obama was picking his fresh new face Joe Biden to be his running mate. At the time, Barack and Michelle had spent a great deal of energy demonizing corporate lobbyists, the practice of corporate law, hedge fund managers, and the evil greedy folks on Wall Street who were exploiting us on Main Street. At the same time, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, had been working in this “evil industry” as a corporate lobbyist for MBNA, which was the great banking interest that was formally headquartered in Delaware. At the same time, Joe Biden had been shepherding bankruptcy reform legislation through the senate, which MBNA was pushing for mightily. Hunter Biden went on to be a lobbyist for many other “evil industries”—evil in the rhetoric of the Obamas—pharmaceutical companies, many universities—and then he quietly resigned as an officially federally registered lobbyist after his Dad accepted the nomination for vice president.
Georgene: We are familiar with a few names of the president’s cabinet members who have questionable backgrounds, like Tim Geithner and Eric Holder, but talk about some of his other cabinet appointees, as well as those who are unelected and unaccountable czars—the most we have ever seen in any administration.
Malkin: Many of the czars I’ve highlighted have a lot of relevance to the policy debates we’re having right now. First and foremost is the health care czar, Nancy DePaul. I think people really need to know that this woman was installed early in the year through executive order. An.entire new office was created for her, and this is on top of the already existing confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. It really does beg the question: why do we need a special overlord and master on top of Kathleen Sebelius?
This is the case with many of these czars. There are upwards of 44 of these presidential appointees now installed in the Obama white house. They completely circumvented the advice and consent process of the Senate. There is no congressional oversight and there is very little scrutiny of the personnel they have hired, the budgets that they have and the power that they wield.
This brings us to the present. It was the health care czar’s office that initiated this “internet snitch brigade” that was launched two weeks ago when the white house got upset that the internet, conserve talk radio and alternative sources of media were spreading the word about what Barack Obama himself said about his advocacy of universal health care and single payers, and he said it—it’s verbatim, and it’s on tape. The white house didn’t like that this was being spread out there, so the health care czar’s office launched a campaign to convince Americans to turn in their fellow neighbors, co-workers and family members who engaged in “casual conversations” involving “fishy rumors about Obama care”.
Georgene: We’ve heard a lot about the virtue of community organizing and the importance of expressing one’s dissent when the Democrats were in the minority. What has happened to this notion that the most American thing one can do is raise our voice in opposition to express dissent when necessary?
Malkin: Obama is all for community organizing, except when the communities are organizing against him. I include two chapters in the book on two of these far left outfits that have helped forge an entire army of foot soldiers for Obama on the ground. And those foot soldiers are organized from the top down. They are the ones who are the masters of “astroturf”: David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and the Chicago cronies who have had a long history, including Barack Obama, with groups like ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which started out as a welfare rights organization but has ballooned and exploded into an entire unit that is dedicated to electing Democratic majorities and keeping them in Washington into perpetuity. 40 percent of ACORN’s revenue comes from taxpayer dollars. And they have parlayed that, along with seed funding from ultra left wing philanthropists, into a huge operation. A lot of people already know about voter fraud registration involving ACORN—homeless activists who register dead people as “Mickey Mouse”—but that is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Georgene: What does all of this corruption mean for America? What does it mean for the future of the country and what should our response be?
Malkin: I think that the entire book illustrates the first law of political civics: when government grows, corruption flows. And this rule holds true whether there is a Democrat in office or a Republican in office. I’m not arguing that the Republicans have clean hands. I have been a very vocal critic about cronyism in any white house, especially under the Bush administration Department of Homeland Security, where cronyism is not only run of the mill corruptive, but it also undermines national security and public safety. It’s double, triple, quadruple that in the Obama administration. The American people were sold a bill of goods. They had an enabling media that helped perpetuate these myths. I wrote this book so people could arm themselves with knowledge—knowing that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Georgene: I think that a lot of people were so hopeful because of the rhetoric of the previous campaign that this was going to be the exceptional administration—that this was going to be different. What do you say to those who have simply said “I’ve given up. I’m done”?
Malkin: I would say “keep the faith”. Apathy in large part is what led to this mess in the first place. I am very encouraged by the amount of participatory democracy that we are seeing now. People are showing that they are not afraid of the brass knuckles. They are not afraid of the thuggery and intimidation tactics by the administration that promised to do things differently. I think we are going to see the wind shifting. We’re seeing it already. I really do believe that we will see real hope and change in Washington in 2010 and 2012.
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