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Michelle Malkin outlines the Obama cronies in Culture Of Corruption

Thursday, October 1, 2009
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HH: Let’s move on now and talk with none other than Michelle Malkin, the bestselling author most recently of Culture Of Corruption, a Regnery book, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list now for eight weeks, many of the in the number one spot. Michelle Malkin, how are you?

MM: Good. How are you, Hugh?

HH: Great. Congratulations. Are you surprised by the reach of Culture Of Corruption, which by the way, America, linked at Hughhewitt.com, available everywhere, at how long and how many copies it sold?

MM: Yeah, I am. We did not anticipate the strength of this reaction, but I think that it was the perfect storm. I mean, it’s always a bit of a crap shoot with any book launch, and Hugh, you know this. I mean, I’ve done four of them now, and I just think that the winds of hope and change are really blowing, and I have to attribute much of the success of the book to the synergy between talk radio, Fox News and the internet. I think that the rise of the tea party movement, and the backlashes that we’ve seen, the citizen revolts over the summer, are a reflection of a hunger for a real counter-narrative about the Obama administration. And that’s what the book served up.

HH: You know, a counter-narrative, and actually a fresh narrative – fresh eyes and fresh facts brought forward in a way that is not diminished by virtue of the slavish devotion to Obama that has been part and parcel of the legacy media. Before we dive into the key chapters here, and you were on ACORN before anyone else was, as this book will attest, and you know SEIU, which is the next big scandal waiting to happen, better than anyone does. I want to talk about what’s going on today in Copenhagen, where the Chicago elite are gathering, led by the elite of the Chicago elite, the president and the first lady, backed up by Oprah, in the company, I assume, of Valerie Jarrett, though I don’t know for sure. What do you make of this, Michelle Malkin?

MM: Oh, I think it’s a perfect illustration of all of the themes of Culture Of Corruption. And most notably, with a fresh headline of Michelle Obama moaning about her “sacrifice” in hopping onto a luxury jet to schmooze with the world’s elite in order to bring back a huge boondoggle for her developer friends and political cronies, I think it’s that sense of entitlement, then also that underlying sense of aggrievement, which I capture in the chapter that I did on Michelle Obama, but this intellectual and political pose of this team as somehow always serving the public interest, when in fact it’s so transparently obvious that they’re serving their own special and political interests. And that’s what this boondoggle is all about. And you don’t really have to scratch too far beneath the surface to see that the likes of Valerie Jarrett, who has been embedded in the Daley machine from the time that she entered public and political life herself, brought both Obamas into that sphere, and then are using those positions now in a big, big way to pay back Richard M. Daley, who sees this as his ultimate vision, a way to cap off a career in office that began in 1989. And unfortunately for taxpayers, what it would end up being is a very expensive way of papering over that city’s grave, grave fiscal and social and cultural ills.

HH: Mayor Daley really is the force majeure behind the Obama administration. And I have sort of a grudging admiration, because at least he’s an old style Democrat. He’s sort of like a Tammany Hall Democrat. He’s not one of these grievance politicians. He runs a tight ship. But Michelle Malkin, in your researches for Culture Of Corruption, I only have a suspicion, but I remember Boss Plunkitt of Tammany Hall saying there’s a difference between honest graft and dishonest graft. And honest graft is if you hear they’re going to build a road somewhere near an intersection, you go out and you buy that land, and you make some profit on it, that’s honest graft. I have a feeling if the Olympics go to Chicago, there’s a whole lot of money going to be made by a whole lot of friends of Obama. What do you think?

MM: Oh, yeah. And it starts with Valerie Jarrett, who headed up a company called the Habitat Company. And I talk about this in the book.

HH: You bet, detailed.

MM: And I single out for praise a lone reporter for the Boston Globe who single handedly exposed the incredible suffering of the tenants there under Valerie Jarrett’s management. And what happened was a federal court order handed over to Habitat, under Jarrett’s watch, management of public housing projects across the city. And Grove Park complex was one of them. It happens to lie in the shadow of where the Olympic village and stadium would be built. And what is happening in all of these neighborhoods where all these public housing projects have been built and deteriorated, and run into the ground, is that those properties are being razed, and then taken over by many of Valerie Jarrett’s friends, and in some cases, direct business interests, to redevelop as mixed housing with an eye towards the windfall that will happen come 2016. And so I just discovered this last night, that last month, very quietly, the Grove Park complex HUD mortgage, which was worth $12 million dollars, was handed over to the city of Chicago for $1,000.

HH: Oh wow.

MM: …and now will be managed by an eastern-based management company that will turn it into a huge, lucrative, new development just in time for the Olympics.

HH: Yeah, you know, I think that if you stay on that story, and I think any enterprising reporter in America ought to start getting a camp into Chicago, because the Olympics come there, every contract, and there are billions of dollars, Michelle Malkin, will go through that machine.

MM: Yeah, the Olympic village contract alone is worth about a billion dollars, and there are eleven different firms, development firms, that are vying for that. And guess what? One of them happens to be Valerie Jarrett’s old company, the Habitat Company.

HH: Watch that space.

– – – –

HH: Michelle Malkin, I wanted to talk a little bit more about Valerie Jarrett. As I mentioned, she’s covered in Culture Of Corruption quite extensively, but really, most of America doesn’t know who she is, where she came from, and how she rose to such power. I think it’s true to say no Valerie Jarrett, no Obamas. Do you agree?

MM: Oh, I absolutely agree. This woman basically made Barack Obama in almost the mafia sense of the word. And she comes from an elite, black, Chicago family. Her father was a doctor, and her mother was an academic of sorts.

HH: Her great uncle is Vernon Jordan.

MM: That’s right.

HH: I didn’t know that until I read Culture Of Corruption.

MM: That’s right, and in fact, this is where the Martha’s Vineyard connection comes in. They really are the crème de le crème. And there’s cronyism, and there’s cronyism of color. And she represents that quite massively, I think. Valerie Jarrett was a very close confidante of Richard M. Daley. She worked as his deputy chief of staff, as his legal counsel, and then as city planning commissioner. In one of those positions, she came across Michelle Obama’s application for a job, hired her as a mayoral assistant, and then the two of them went off to the University of Chicago Medical Center, Valerie Jarrett as a member of the board of directors, and Michelle Obama famously in a six figure job as a vice president of external affairs, and community relations. And that’s a whole other story. But Valerie Jarrett was also a real estate mogul, and on the boards of tons of boards of directors, corporate boards of directors, and is really a mover and shaker and fixer. She hooked up Barack Obama to all the money interests in Chicago, and helped him navigate the political machine and the patronage machine.

HH: Michelle Malkin, in your researches, you’ve got a section on Rahmbo, of course, Rahm Emanuel, who went off to Wall Street after his service in the Clinton administration, banked $15 million plus dollars as an investment banker in a very short order of time. Were you ever to connect the Emanuel book of business on Wall Street to the Chicago money machine?

MM: Well, you know, of course, Rahm Emanuel has lived and existed in that culture, in that world. But what’s interesting is there are these inter-city rivalries. And, in fact, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett don’t get along very well in the White House. And I think that a figure more like David Axelrod is the, is a link between those worlds, David Axelrod himself the master of Astroturf and the campaign strategist for Richard M. Daley since his very first run.

HH: And assistant to the president currently, right.

MM: Yeah, that’s right. And at least the development community is where Valerie Jarrett had helped raise untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for the Barack Obama campaign. And of course, many of those developers went on to sit as his finance chairs. For example, Marty Nesbitt, who is a lifelong friend of Valerie Jarrett, and chaired one of his finance committees in the inaugural committee, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for those causes. And then Penny Pritzker, who is infamous, of course, for being a subprime queen, headed up the Pritzker Realty Group, and is smack dab in the middle of all this Olympics bid shenanigans as well.

HH: Do you think Axelrod is wrapped up in the Olympics bid at all? Because again, the…you think about the money that flows in for all of the design, all of the production, all of the TV contract negotiation, all that stuff, and Axelrod’s had his fingers in everything, and he hasn’t been shy about keeping it. I mean, he’s still got a relationship with his old firm, even as he’s negotiating the AARP and Big PhRMA’s contributions to the Ad Campaign to pass Obamacare.

MM: Yes, that’s right. And in fact, Politico reported earlier this year that AKPD Message & Media, which is Axelrod’s old PR firm that owes him $2 million dollars, has pitched in work for the Chicago 2016 bid committee. And it’s unknown how much they received for those services, or how much they’ll make in future income if the bid is successful.

HH: I also was astonished to read about Ray LaHood. Of course, the nominal Republican at the heart of the Obama cabinet, if we don’t count Secretary Gates, who’s really more independent than anything else. “He may have had an “R” by his name,” you write on Page 133, “but it’s his political DNA that matters more than partisan label. He’s a card-carrying member of the Chicago political machine, and is an Illinois Congressman from ’95 to 2009. He reveled in his power as a House appropriate…just part of the same money machine.

MM: Yeah. You know, R & D are not the operative initials in Chicago and Illinois state politics. It’s M for machine, and P for patronage. And Ray LaHood is one of those Daley Republicans who has benefitted from that relationship, obviously, and his relationship with Rahm Emanuel, with whom he’s very close. But you find these machine Republicans in bed with the Democrats and the Daley and Obama machine, and it does quite turn the stomach. Since we’re talking about the Olympics, the head of the Chicago bid committee is Patrick Ryan, who headed up the Illinois state Republican Party several years ago, and then was chairman of the Aon Corporation, which was involved in all sorts of yucky corruption probes a couple of years ago, paid off $190 million dollars to states that were investigating them. And now he’s heading up that bid committee, and will benefit in small and large ways, direct and indirect as well.

HH: You know, having the Olympics go to Chicago is a little bit like having the AA international convention at the Guinness factory in Dublin.

MM: (laughing)

HH: They’re simply not going to be able to help themselves, Michelle. Now let me ask you about Patrick Fitzgerald, the reforming, you know, go get Rove, go get Scooter Libby DA, who is the U.S. attorney. He convicted Rezko, and then we haven’t heard anything from him since. What do you think is going on there as he sits in the middle of this train station of special interests?

MM: Yeah, it’s a good question. And it reminds me that I need to follow up and see what’s going on. And in Culture Of Corruption, of course, I highlight the investigation of Blagojevich, and the connection there with Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and the SEIU, Andy Stern directly involved in all those talks. And there are, I’ve got sources in the prosecutor’s office there, and they’re very good people who have a mountain of graft cases and pay for play scandals to dig into. So he’s one of the good guys on that, and he’s got his work cut out for him.

HH: Do you think there are other shoes to fall connected to Rezko and the Obama machine?

MM: Yeah, and you know, most recently of course, over the last couple of weeks, the unfortunate demise of Christopher Kelly has brought back into some of the public conscience that those probes are still going on, and that potentially, some of these White House cronies, both inside or formerly affiliated with Obama, may yet still be implicated.

– – – –

HH: Michelle, I think of the old adage, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. And Culture Of Corruption really is a book length scorecard. And I thought I knew a lot of this stuff, but you know, I didn’t know who Ted Van Dyke is. I didn’t know who Wade Rathke is. It’s just too much. I mean, I know the big ones, I know all about Daschle, and I know about Sebelius, and I follow the big stories. But this is, it’s really quite amazing how many characters with character flaws arrived in D.C. at the very same time to the applause of legacy media.

MM: Yeah, and I think that’s what makes it a useful compendium, because for those of us who are political junkies, who followed the campaign and covered it so closely over the last couple of years, yeah, you think you know everything. But when you tie it all together, it really does paint quite an amazing picture, and I think definitively shatters the myth of hope and change. And what I’ve found since I launched the book eight, nine weeks ago is that there’s so much in the book that can be repurposed, that can actually be used. This isn’t just a book that you can read and put up on a shelf and have it gather dust. In fact, the chapters on ACORN, and the chapters on the SEIU in particular have been very helpful, and I think instrumental in informing people about what’s driving things like the health care debate.

HH: In fact, let’s pause there for a minute, because the ACORN videos that Breitbart brought out with his two wonderful film makers, the young people…

MM: Yes.

HH: They have moved the needle on ACORN. But it’s still a very complicated story. I know in radio, you’ve got to reset it every time, because people don’t…you’ve done a lot of that work. You knew about ACORN before anyone else did. You knew about the fact that the president went to the ACORN rally or convention and said come on in, come on down, come to Washington, D.C. with me. Do you expect more revelations from Breitbart and Biggovernment.com?

MM: Sure. I assume that they’re probably sitting on more videos. And then I think more importantly, the entire meltdown as a result of that, of those video disclosures, has emboldened and encouraged whistleblowers, I think. And I dedicated the book to whistleblowers. One of them I single out is a former Project Vote worker, Anita MonCrief…

HH: Yup.

MM: …who was serving quite well as a New York Times source until it got too close to the election, and the editors there decided to “cut bait”.

HH: Yeah, fired.

MM: She’s currently being sued by Project Vote and ACORN, and I think that the discovery process and that entire judicial proceeding is going to yield much more eye-opening disclosures that directly tie the ACORN enterprise to the White House. And that’s what I think has been so important, and I think those are some of the more important disclosures that I make in my book. And there are three lines of investigation, I think, that the Congressional Republicans need to hammer on. And one is the $800,000 payment by the Obama campaign to an ACORN affiliate, Citizen Services, Inc., last summer, that somehow was reclassified as a clerical error…

HH: Yup.

MM: …which was accepted by the FEC at a time when there was already plenty of suspicion that there was illegal money funneling going on between the non-profit arms and affiliate, and the political umbrella. And that’s what I think people fail to understand, is that actually the national umbrella can engage in limited political activities. So what they’re doing is using this entire network to shuffle the money around so nobody knows which coffers the money is going into. The second thing I think is the sharing of donor lists. And this was disclosed by Anita MonCrief in judicial proceedings when Pennsylvania lawyers tried to go after ACORN, and it was sworn testimony where she said that these Democrat campaigns, Kerry, Clinton and Obama, and the Democrat National Committee, were handing over their donor lists to this supposedly non-profit, tax-exempt, non-partisan, Project Vote. And then the third line is something that the New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom, had been pursuing until again she was cut off, and that was the subversion of many federal laws, both tax laws and campaign finance laws, among these myriad entities.

HH: I also want to point out to people if they want to know more about ACORN, the tax lien scandal out of New Orleans is detailed in Michelle Malkin’s new book, Culture Of Corruption. That’s astonishing, Michelle…

MM: It is, and it’s a wonderful graphic that I was able to reproduce from some ACORN watchdogs about all those liens. And there are even more disclosures that have come out. There’s a conservative public policy institute, I believe it’s called The Pelican Institute, which has also been digging into this. And I think it would behoove Bobby Jindal to get on top of all that, because it’s his own backyard. I mean, that is ground zero for all the embezzlement scandals at 1024 Elysian Field.

– – – –

HH: And I want to wade this segment, Michelle, into SEIU, Service Employees International Union. Of course on the West Coast, where I broadcast from, SEIU is now infamous for its corrupt practices in the Los Angeles area. But it is to organized labor what the Teamsters really was to organized labor in the 50s and the 60s. And you were early to the story. Let’s break it down for them. They’re going to have to read Culture Of Corruption to understand really what the SEIU represents, but let’s break it down for people.

MM: Sure. The SEIU is the largest growing labor organization in the 21st Century. And it really is a tribute to President Andy Stern’s vision in turning these health care workers, home health care workers, into an army.

HH: In fact, let’s pause there. You don’t ever say any of these people don’t have talent. I mean, Valerie Jarrett, extraordinarily gifted and talented. Andy Stern may be the best organizer of the last fifty years in the labor movement. These are very competent people. It’s just their ends we don’t like.

MM: That’s right. No question about it. And so he has helped dragoon 1.8 million members who are a cash cow for the Democratic Party, basically. Over the last election cycle, the SEIU poured upwards of $60-80 million dollars of their members force dues into Democrat coffers in about…

HH: Didn’t you say $23 million into the Obama campaign?

MM: That’s right. That much went into independent expenditures, specifically to elect him, and they sent out millions of people to knock on doors, and put flyers out, et cetera, et cetera. And they are getting paid back quite mightily for that. Andy Stern now has a seat at the table of every legislative policy discussion. His two big agenda items, of course, the health care takeover, and card check legislation. And although it may appear that both of those things may be in peril right now, they don’t give up easily. And as is often the case with these huge government expansions that are meant to keep a Democrat majority in perpetuity, they try, try again. And if they don’t get the big Kahuna, they will get it in smaller chunks and incrementally.

HH: This takes me back to Patrick Fitzgerald, though. It is possible, SEIU got very close to Blagojevich, and we don’t know what’s going on in that investigation yet, do we, Michelle Malkin?

MM: No, we don’t. And I reprinted part of the court documents that implicate Andy Stern specifically as being part of those discussions where Blago was trying to figure out how to trade on his power to secure a new job. And one of those jobs that he mused about was possibly an SEIU-related non-profit group. So yeah, we don’t know. I mean, the story is yet to be told there. But what we do know about the SEIU is that it has specialized in these thug tactics, not only against corporate targets that they’ve tried to shakedown, but also against their own rank and file, and to whistleblowers within the SEIU that have exposed much of the corruption. And as you mentioned, Hugh, in Los Angeles in particular, the graft, the embezzlement, the abuse of untold amounts of worker dues to enrich the likes of Andy Stern’s lieutenants.

HH: Tyrone Freeman is a revelation to people. If you don’t know the details of this, those of us in L.A., and by the way, we’ve got to give kudos, the L.A. Times actually did good work here.

MM: Yes, yes they did. And it was work that was unnoticed during the campaign. Apparently the national media could not connect the dots between that kind of thug tactics and that kind of embezzlement, and the culture of corruption that infuses the White House now in large part because of the purple army.

HH: You quote Andy Stern, this very talented organizer, on Page 220. “We prefer to use the power of persuasion. But if that doesn’t work, we use the persuasion of power.” You know, that is so succinct, and it is so, so thoroughly Obama.

MM: Yes, it is. It is the Obama way. It’s the Chicago way. And of course, as many close watchers of these organizations pointed out, the SEIU and ACORN are flip sides of the same corrupt coin. And they all share that philosophy of using the persuasion of power to get what they want. And unfortunately, there are tea party activists who felt the literal fist of that power over the summer.

HH: Michelle Malkin, before we run out of time, I want to make sure we spend some time on the Senator from Countrywide, as you call him accurately, Chris Dodd, and on Hunter Biden. You know, Beau Biden’s a great American, just came back from service in Iraq. He’s going to run, but he ought not to be able to escape both his father and his brother’s long time, long time association with MBNA. And Chris Dodd ought not to be able to associate, disassociate himself from Countrywide. I think if Culture Of Corruption does anything, it’s got to open people’s eyes to the fact this is just special deal-o-rama with these people.

MM: It really is. It’s business as usual. And the Biden family’s connections to MBNA, which hired Hunter Biden as a lobbyist, and employed him at a time when Barack Obama was touting Joe Biden as his partner in hope and change, when they really are the antithesis of it, it’s quite telling. And the reason why I end the book with Dodd, an epilogue of all of Dodd’s dirty dealings with Countrywide and other vested financial interests, is I think it tells you all you need to know about the lip service that Barack Obama himself has paid to bringing cleaner government to Washington, D.C.

HH: Now his likely opponent, Rob Simmons, has really got traction. Do you think Dodd can outrun not just allegations, but the detail, and you have the details of his corruption, do you think he can survive that if there is any kind of media fairness in America?

MM: Well, one of the themes that I’ve found in all of my research is that the local papers are doing a very good job of smoking these corruptocrats out – the Hartford Courant, Kevin Rennie, the columnist who has been on the Dodd corruption case from the very beginning, and it’s having an effect. You see it in these polls, you see it in Dodd’s poll numbers, the erosion of support not just among Republicans, conservatives, moderate Democrats, but independents, most especially. I think Rob Simmons has a fighting chance, as do a lot of these upstart challengers in many of these districts across the country who are really fed up with the culture of hubris and arrogance and corruption.

– – – –

HH: You know, I have often been accused of not sleeping, but now I know how you, who really don’t sleep, do it. It’s Circle K premium coffee, Sonic mocha java chillers, and five hour energy. It is a great book. People should read it. But I want to know your work habits.

MM: I am just an incurable night owl. And I think it’s a mom thing, too. You just learn how to multitask, and use every second of the day most effectively. But I’m glad that you read that from the acknowledgements, because I couldn’t have done this without caffeine.

HH: Well, I’m curious, though. What’s next? You have literally built up a mountain of accomplishment on the internet, two of your websites, www.michellemalkin.com, www.hotair.com, among at least the top five in conservative circles always. What’s next for Michelle Malkin?

MM: I don’t know. And that’s what makes this job and our lives so wonderful, is my, one of my driving factors is I love a good story. And having the limitless space and limitless, you know, unlimited time constraints in the blogosphere allows me to do much more than I’d ever done as a dead tree syndicated columnist. And I still love doing that, you know, I still write two columns a week, and I’ve been with Creators since 1999. but my heart and soul is on the internet. And the books and everything else I do allows me to pursue that love.

HH: Let me ask you, last question, I make it a point to go and find people like Sam Tanenhaus, a lefty editor of the New York Times Review of Books when he puts out The Death Of Conservatism. I bring him on here and give him a lot of time. I think that’s what great conversation and improved conversation is about. Has the left extended you any courtesy? Any serious consideration of the amassed evidence of Culture Of Corruption?

MM: No. I’ve been met with pretty much radio silence and crickets chirping. And I found that disappointing, because I single out many left-leaning, so-called progressive groups and watchdogs that have done some good work. And I expected more of that, but I think that they have wanted to give their guy a chance. They’re increasingly disappointed. You see more and more buyer’s remorse. And to the extent that I have any regular communications with the left at all, it is with these watchdogs who have as strong a commitment as I do to some basic core principles of governance, and that includes transparency, fiscal and ethical responsibility, all of the promises that Barack Obama has broken over the last eight months.

HH: Let those with ears hear, let those with eyes read Culture Of Corruption: Obama And His Team Of Tax Cheats, Crooks And Cronies by Michelle Malkin. Thank you, Michelle, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

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