March 12, 2010

Traders to the Cause - Republicans Are All Ears

Hatched by Dafydd

In 2006, incoming Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) infamously promised that the Democrats would run "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." When President Barack H. Obama ran for president two years later, he made a similar pledge of ethics and transparency that would rise so high above the supposed gutter-level of the George W. Bush administration, it would be heaven on Earth. He explicitly pledged that lobbyists would find no home in the Obama administration.

Now, after a year plus of Obamunism, we're starting to see the outlines of those ethics and that transparency:

President Obama's pick to oversee export controls at the Commerce Department is a trade lawyer whose recent clients include two companies on a government watch list and a shipping business that agreed to pay millions of dollars last year to resolve a federal probe into shipments to Iran, Sudan and Syria.

All three companies have had recent interests before the government office that Eric Hirschhorn would oversee if he is confirmed as undersecretary of commerce for industry and security....

"If confirmed, Mr. Hirschhorn will be required to recuse himself for two years on all matters in which his former clients are parties or represent parties," Commerce Department spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said.

Do ye want yer old lobby washed down?

Eric Hirschhorn is a lawyer who most recently acted as a lobbyist for a couple of Hong Kong companies linked to Mayrow General Trading (Dubai); the feds linked Mayrow to manufactured parts found in IEDs set in Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis. He also represented a DHL division that had to pay a huge fine for unlawful shipping to Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke singled out Mayrow in a speech last fall on export controls, saying that through work with the United Arab Emirates, "we successfully targeted Mayrow General Trading, which was forwarding U.S.-made goods to Iran that ended up in bombs in Iraq."

But I'm sure naming Hirschhorn to a top Commerce Department job -- where he "would oversee the Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, which controls exports of technology, software and dual-use items that can be used for both commercial and military purposes" -- was a mere oversight, a fluke event. He'll just recuse himself in a few cases, and then all will be well. Oh, wait; there's this:

Another top export official at the department, Kevin J. Wolf, a trade lawyer recently confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary for export administration, is recusing himself from matters involving 36 former clients, including major exporters such as Raytheon and Boeing.

At least there's no suggestion that Mr. Wolf's former clients are linked to IEDs in Iraq, thank goodness.

But it is peculiar just how easy it seems for lawyers and lobbyists, deeply committed to their oft-unsavory clients, to find themselves working in the Obama administration at the very body they used to lobby; one wonders how many of these appointees expect to return to their former advocacy jobs as soon as legally allowed after finishing their stints in the Obama administration... thus might (just a thought) make decisions with an eye towards future employment, after their recusal period ends.

Paul Mirengoff has recently noted that it's unfair to refer to seven Justice Department lawyers who voluntarily sought to defend America-attacking terrorists held in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility as "the al-Qaeda Seven," since that implies that the lawyers share the views of al-Qaeda. All right, I won't argue against that case; but what does it say about the President of the United States that he has such a fetish for hiring such individuals into the administration, his administration?

Not only those seven at the Department of Justice, but now Mr. Hirschhorn to the Commerce Department, where he will "oversee" the committee that decides what companies can export to which enemy recipients; and of course, many, many other former lobbyists or advocates against America have wound up in the current administration... starting, I note, with the president himself, who called on the U.S. military in Iraq to declare defeat and go home.

The president should be held to a higher standard than merely saying that it's not strictly illegal for him to appoint a tendentious partisan on the enemy's side to a powerful post in D.C.:

  • Barack Obama has no duty to those companies;
  • Barack Obama did not represent them, nor did he have any responsibility to ensure they were represented;
  • Barack Obama is supposed to pick the best person for a job, taking all factors into account;
  • Barack Obama himself knows that not every person who is technically qualified under the law is therefore a good choice for high-ranking positions in the government.

Those are two different standards: Activity that may be perfectly legal -- such as lobbying for companies that are already known to be aiding and abetting Iran's program to build IEDs to blow up American soldiers, Marines, and civilians -- can still be a common-sense disqualifier for a plum federal position. Nobody has a "right" to be named to the Department of Justice, Commerce, or any other federal agency.

What's next -- if Attorney General Eric Holder resigns, will Obama replace him with some lawyer who rushed to file a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court demanding the release from military custody New York "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla?

Oh, wait. My mistake: That was Attorney General Eric Holder, not some hypothetical replacement, who forgot to mention that amicus curae brief during his confirmation hearings. Never mind!

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...

In the meanwhile, Republicans are not letting the crisis of a yawning chasm between rhetoric and reality under Barack Obama go to waste:

In a move to break with the GOP's big-spending past, House Republicans voted Thursday to ban their members this year from requesting earmarks, the pork-barrel spending that directs money to pet projects in home districts....

"Today, House Republicans took an important step toward showing the American people we're serious about reform by adopting an immediate, unilateral ban on all earmarks," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, adding that this was just a first step in a broader fight to control overall spending.

Blindsided by the GOP's sudden burst of propriety -- Pelosi never expected that! -- Democrats labored mightily to respond -- and gave birth to a mouse:

On Wednesday, House Democrats announced another new rule, one to ban earmarks to for-profit companies.

Fortunately, this will not prevent Democrats from using earmarks to funnel money to ACORN. Or to International ANSWER or the SEIU. Or to some "charity," such as the Holy Land Foundation. Or to Hamas itself, if they really wanted to do; last I checked, the Palestinian terrorist organization was not a "for-profit company," hence not covered by the ban.

So there you have a tale of two parties: One is showered daily by a cornucopia of corruption... while the other can only sigh wistfully for the good old days, when it had its own bottomless bowl of largess.

Previous posts in our neverending series about the Democratic culture of corruption and earwax:

  1. The Missing Earpiece
  2. Has Nancy Pelosi Changed Her Mind About Ears?
  3. The Democrats Are All Ears
  4. Earmarks? No No... Phonemarks!
  5. They're All Ears... Again
  6. The Power of the Big Idea: O'Billery Reduced to "Me Too!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 12, 2010, at the time of 3:22 PM

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