As part of the right-wing effort to blame The Bush Economic Miracle Financial Sector Meltdown on minorities who should have kept in their place rather than tried to join The Ownership Society as owners, a bunch of Bush-era Treasury politicos spun the New York Times into casting scary aspersions on heroic Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) for her involvement in a meeting with them about minority bank participation in TARP and the recovery.

Read how African-Americans act when you allow some of them to own banks and others to serve in Congress:

“Here you had a tiny community bank that comes in and they are not proposing a broader policy — they were asking for help for themselves,” said Steve Lineberry, a former Treasury aide who attended the meeting. “I don’t remember that ever happening before.”

Really, Steve? Because that sounds like the Bush Administration’s standard operating procedure from Inauguration Day, 2001. I remember a bunch of energy executives writing policy at a conference table in the Old Executive Office Building alongside Vice President Cheney with maps dividing Iraq up among all their companies, but I guess that didn’t bother Mr. Lineberry, formerly a Deputy Associate Director of the Bush White House Office of Public Liaison. I also recall a company called Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR, both of which have enjoyed skyrocketing profits during the Bush war era, having been headed by Vice President Cheney who enjoyed lucrative stock options in those very profitable entities.

But that wasn’t "asking for help for themselves," was it? That was "keeping us safe from terror," right?

An ex-Treasury colleague too afraid to attach his name to the canard being floated about Congresswoman Waters went farther in his accusations against the bank owners, not surprisingly, since the New York Times granted him anonymity:

“They wanted money — cash,” said a former Treasury Department official who attended the meeting but asked not to be named, because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. “That is why they were there. It was very, very explicit.”

Wow! That’s shocking — bankers who wanted cash from the United States Treasury and were unafraid to ask for it in a meeting called to discuss the participation of minority-owned financial institutions in the great shoveling-out-the-door of taxpayer cash. Just imagine: a "very, very explicit" interest in Treasury-managed cash from bank owners! That must have seemed unprecedented to these Bushie lame ducks.

No wonder they felt the need to alert the media, even if they’d rather not have their names used.

In paragraph NINETEEN of the Times article, we learn the actual connection between Congresswoman Waters and the bank, via her husband Sidney Williams who served on OneUnited’s Board of Directors:

Mr. Williams accepted no compensation from the bank, to avoid any appearance of a conflict, [Kevin Cohee, OneUnited’s chief executive] said. But as a director, Mr. Williams was required to hold stock. Accordingly, he acquired between $250,000 and $500,000 worth, records show. Mr. Cohee said that Mr. Williams paid for the stock himself, although Ms. Waters and Mr. Cohee would not say how much he paid for the stock.

Got that? A respected bank business consultant is asked to join the board of a large minority-owned bank and buys stock in the bank since it’s a requirement for board members to own stock. He leaves the bank board, in early 2008, and the New York Times presents Congresswoman Waters’ conflict as:

Ms. Waters declined on Tuesday to comment on the meeting, or to say if her husband still owns OneUnited shares. Her staff released two letters that showed the meeting was initially called to discuss industry concerns broadly, not matters related just to OneUnited.

The congresswoman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, did not disclose her ties to OneUnited to Treasury officials, who said they learned of them only later.

There is, of course, another very angry Bushie Anonymice who made his feelings known about this kind of non-conflict of interest. He was granted anonymity, well, here’s why:

“It angers me,” said one former Treasury official, asking that his name not be used because he had not been authorized while at Treasury to speak about the gathering. “You got to know you have to be careful when you are dealing with people who you have personal relations with.”

Yes, because the Bush Maladministration was always entirely impeccable about disclosing possible conflicts with personal relationships — for instance, Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was so willing to let Americans know which counterparties got our AIG bailout money and TARP cash. None of whom, you know, Secretary Paulson ever had any kind of "personal relations" with.
Or was once the CEO of.

And remember the example of clarity set by our first Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, and Bush’s best Attorney General, John Ashcroft, when they collected money from lobbying and working for their former departments? Remember all the clear personal relationships Richard Perle disclosed when he served on Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board?

And don’t forget those Cheney children and in-laws, burrowing into one department or the other to block Inspector General reports or write op-eds for the Washington Post while disclosing their personal relationships with the subjects at hand!

Maybe this is the first in a series about Congressional spouses, because I’m really interested in seeing Maxine Waters’ non-conflict of interest contrasted with the bailout provided to the current employer of the wife of Eric Cantor. Since, as of this writing, that doesn’t seem to yield any search results at the New York Times’ website.

I guess Americans deserve this kind of shoddy sourcing and non-attributed backstabbing because we’ve been screaming about Accountability Before Any More Cash. I didn’t think we’d see quite such a blatant "blacks tried to steal money from us" accusation this early in the roll-out, but I’m not that surprised.

Somehow, I always knew the Bushies would find a way to blame minorities for their Economic Miracle. It’s the Lee Atwater Way, after all.

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge

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