Alex Blaze

Homophobia: The other conservative solution to the financial crisis

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 06, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media
Tags: Barney Frank, Fannie Mae, financial crisis, Freddie Mac, government bailout, herb moses, homophobic behavior, racism, relationship recognition, sodomy

Last week I wrote about conservative efforts to deflect attention away from the real causes of the current financial meltdown, deregulation, corporate greed, and the failure of conservative ideology, and pin it instead on scary minorities. Now Fox News has an article up about how this whole mess is really about the buttsex:

Unqualified home buyers were not the only ones who benefitted from Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank's efforts to deregulate Fannie Mae throughout the 1990s.

So did Frank's partner, a Fannie Mae executive at the forefront of the agency's push to relax lending restrictions.

Whether there was a conflict of interest worth reporting about there is besides the point (hell, we have the husband of a fabulously beer heiress who plans to run the business from the White House running for the presidency), conservatives are using this to stir up homophobia so they don't have to take the fall for their own incompetence. More after.

Now that Fannie Mae is at the epicenter of a financial meltdown that threatens the U.S. economy, some are raising new questions about Frank's relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie's assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie.

Both Frank and Moses assured the Wall Street Journal in 1992 that they took pains to avoid any conflicts of interest. Critics, however, remain skeptical.

Those "critics" that the Fox News report quotes from are merely Republican strategists, and they're complaining about how the media isn't covering this enough. The "media bias" card is even older than the homophobia one.

Edroso has more on the conservative blogosphere's reaction (via digby):

"PART OF WHY THE USA GOT IT UP THE YOU KNOW WHAT," bellows The Astute Bloggers. "HOMO BARNEY FRANK WAS SLEEPING WITH MALE FANNIE MAE EXEC FOR YEARS." Ace O'Spades is of course on it like Lindsay Lohan on Samantha Ronson, and his commenters spray milk (at least we think it's milk) out their noses ("This sickens me on so many levels"). Dad29 assails "back-door-banditry" and asks, "Why should THEY worry about imposing a huge national debt on children?" (Please don't tell Dad29 they're allowed to adopt now, or he'll wear out his slur thesaurus.)

And a reader sent me a link to a local conservative blogger who jumped on this homophobic meme:

If you wondered why U.S. Rep. Barney Frank was so vocal in his defense of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac four years ago when he fought efforts by the Bush administration and congressional Republicans to regulate the two out-of-control mortgage lender giants, you need look no further than the man sleeping next to him in his bed for many years. Frank's spouse, significant other, gay lover or whatever you want to call him was Herb Moses, a top executive at Fannie Mae.[...]

His selfish desire to satisfy his own sexual appetite at the expense of the public good is self-evident from his actions.

Seriously? Is he implying that Herb Moses withheld sex in exchange for votes, years after their relationship ended?

The narrative is ridiculous enough as it is. They want us to believe that the current crisis was caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac giving too much money to risky minorities. This would mean that it had nothing to do with the lack of transparency when selling these loans in bonds, the amount of abstract, non-existent money being used to buy and sell credit default swaps, and the largess of finance firms that grew and grew as Republicans passed deregulating legislation until they were too big to fail.

Their argument's an absurd attempt to play to Americans' baser instincts, and saying that liberal elites used sodomy to convince one another to let minorities destroy America is just icing on this cake.

Consider this, from the Fox News article:

"If this had been his ex-wife and he was Republican, I would bet every penny I have - or at least what's not in the stock market - that this would be considered germane," added Gainor, a T. Boone Pickens Fellow. "But everybody wants to avoid it because he's gay. It's the quintessential double standard."

Considering how much conservatives whine, piss, and moan when anyone suggests that same-sex relationships should be recognized at all, I might find it surprising that they want everyone to be talking about this relationship. But they're desperate, and desperate times call for ignoring their established narratives and grasping at bare hatred and prejudice to find a scapegoat.

So next week will probably be time to find a way to blame uppity women, transgender people, Islam, and the French.

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Wilson46201 | October 6, 2008 6:49 PM

Allegedly-gay local Republican blogger Gary Welsh was pushing this gay-baiting story a week ago! Gary's wildly in love with Sarah Palin and all she stands for -- now Gary is sliming gay folk bigtime.

For a petty bigot and small town gossip, Welsh has sunk even lower after accusing Barack Obama of being a murderous corrupt druggie homosexual Muslim foreigner terrorist.

It looks like Gary Welsh is trying for a full partnership with the powerful GOP law firms of either Eric Miller or Brian Bosma. He's now the white Jocelyn Tandy of the Marion County GOP...

Besides which, I wouldn't call an "assistant director for product development" at Fannie Mae an "executive." More like "mid-level management." I think the hierarchy at Fannie goes something like CEO, Executive VP, Senior VP, VP, Director, Assistant Director, Senior Manager, Manager, line employee. I don't think anyone below a senior VP counts as senior management.

So, Frank's partner was a mid-level manager at Fannie. He probably should have disclosed that at the time, if he did not. But Fannie and Freddie didn't create this mess (the private-label securitizers of subprime and other loans that weren't good enough for Fannie and Freddie to buy did so), and blaming Frank for the problems created by Republican-leaning investment banks is bullshit.

That's what I was thinking: would he have really been in charge of anything related to the current crisis? Product development doesn't seem to be the front end of this problem.

And he disclosed, at least according to Fox News. He talked about it with the Wall Street Journal.

Wilson46201 | October 6, 2008 7:41 PM

Why should Frank have disclosed his personal relationship? Don't folk recall DOMA?

The ethics rules were written for straight people: there are no rules requiring disclosures of girlfriends, boyfriends, one-night-stands, concubines, mistresses, boytoys, fuckbuddies, whatever. The relationships that have to be disclosed are spelled out with great specificity: wife, husband, parents, children, in-laws, etc. "Domestic partner" is mentioned noplace.

I agree with Bill O'Reilly that there's plenty of blame to go around, and it's on the heads of both Repubs and Democrats. And Barney Frank IS another guilty party, but is too arrogant (or afraid) to admit it. (At least we know gay politicians can be lying rats just like the straight ones, which- in a way- is another type of equality).

Bill O is just saying that this is "both parties' fault" because it's mostly the Republicans'. If it were really both parties' fault, then he'd say it was the Democrats. In fact, if it were just 10% their fault, he'd pin the whole thing on them.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed on party lines.

We'll have to agree to disagree on that one, guy. Most independent economic eggheads have told me it's the fault of both. We're seeing the usual partisanship here, though, where Repubs are mostly blaming Dems and Dems mostly blaming Repubs. I just mentioned Bill O'Reilly since he's famous and I share his opinion on it, but I'm really coming to my conclusions from the economists. I'm more interested, though, on who will be better for the economy overall in the next four years.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 7, 2008 11:53 AM

Alex, when you say that the “The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed on party lines” you’re not telling us the real story. Any attempt to deny the co-responsibility of both parties for deregulation, the ensuing attack on our standard living and it’s major escalation by the $700 billion giveaway to the rich is just not accurate.

Here are the facts. Gramm-Leach-Bliley was one of a number of anti-consumer, anti-union bills authored by Republicans but championed by Democratic Presidents like Carter and Clinton and by Democratic presidential candidates like Obama.

Fact. Carter and the Democrats passed and signed the 1-Financial Institutions Regulatory and Interest Rate Control Act of 1978 deregulating S&L’s. They promised ‘oversight’. Reagan’s Garn - St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 sealed the fate of the S&Ls. Both parties offered the fig leaf of oversight. Both bills had heavy bipartisan support and they led to massive failures of S&L’s after which working people were forced to pay the debts of the rich.

Fact. Clinton and the Democrats voted for and signed NAFTA. Clinton made it his number one priority and it passed in the House with 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats voting aye and in the Senate with 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats voting aye. Clinton promised oversight but NAFTA proved to be a disaster for working people and the environment from Chiapas to the Yukon.

Fact. The first call on the repeal of Glass-Steagall was had some Democratic crossover in the Senate and overwhelming Democratic support in the house, passing 343-86. After adding a fig leaf about the Community Reinvestment Act and promising oversight it passed on the second call it passed in the Senate 90-8-1 and in the House: 362-57-15. Clinton and his Treasury Robert Rubin, now Obama’s key economic advisor on how to fleece the public, got it rammed through Congress better than any Republican could have because people had illusions about him.

Fact: the Grand Theft $700 billion dollar giveaway passed by huge bipartisan majorities in both houses with the total support of Bush and Obama. Obama promises the fig leaf of oversight.

The same pattern emerges on deregulation, votes for the Clinton and Bush genocides and on bigot laws like Clintons DOMA and DADT. Whether initiated by Democrats or Republicans they’re passed with huge bipartisan majorities and Democratic Presidents, because people have illusions about them, are far more successful ramming them through Congress.

Oh, this is a tangled mess, full of ethical barbs and protocol gray areas! (OTOH, Frank probably has trouble finding DC boyfriends who aren't involved in the federal government somehow ... Gey men in DC tend to fall into two groups: 1) Those that work for the govt, and 2) hustlers. Recall, dear Frankie fans, that Frank also tried the hustler route once --- and it, too, was fraught with controversy and scandal!)

... hell, we have the husband of a fabulously [wealthy] beer heiress who plans to run the business from the White House running for the presidency ...

Alex, I'm no fan of Cindy McCain, but the conflict of interest she poses is just a fly on a cowpie when compared to the gargantuan conflict of interest that Cheney has been milking for the past five years, funneling billions of federal money into Halliburton and Blackwater, while we know full well that he has ties (and stock to boot!) in Halliburton, and that he and the whole Cheney family benefit from this! Why this is allowed I don't know, but this bull elephant in the living room has been ignored by everyone except the late-night talk show hosts, who love it for the eternal joke fodder that it is.

... would he have really been in charge of anything related to the current crisis? Product development doesn't seem to be the front end of this problem.

This depends upon what type of financial "products" we might be talking about. If loans to individual homebuyers, then no. But one major function of Fannie and Freddie is to bundle the mortgages up and securitize them, then these mortgage-backed securities get sold to banks, stock brokerages and other investment houses. If Moses was involved in the securitization of mortgages, then a conflict of interest seems like it might be more of a possibility. But I'm no expert at this, I don't know for sure.

What I am sure of is that homophobic straight guys are all fixated on the notion that gay men have butt sex. Of course, these same straight guys NEVER BUTT NEVER have butt sex with their girlfriends, now, do they?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 7, 2008 12:37 AM

Just a quick Google of Herb Moses name and I cannot believe the blog reactions of homophobic hatred. This includes: "Homosexuals are selfish liars lacking any moral compass." And that was a polite one.

My high school class president at Elston Sr High in Michigan City Indiana is George Bush's "war czar" that is heard less of even than Dick Cheney. General Douglas Lute's wife is Jane Holl Lute who is retired from the military herself and is a former national security council staffer, VP and COO of the United Nations Foundation etc. in a career that began after her retirement from the military in 1991. A very smart general's wife with her eye on the family finances.

I always liked Doug, he did a great Spiro Agnew impersonation, but he has recently called for reinstating the draft.

Do you suppose there was pillow talk between the Lutes? Oh yeah!, but the same bigots would consider that privileged spousal communication. They would not even want to comment upon it. They have just made the perfect argument for ending all privileged spousal communication (in Federal Government issues) Gay or Straight, but they won't do that. It would make too much good sense.

"Whether there was a conflict of interest worth reporting about there is besides the point...."

I wouldn't say that its beside the point.

It is yet another reason why regarding St. Barney as, well, literally St. Barney is as perilous as building a house on a quicksand foundation (Steven Gobie ring a bell?).

However, the crocodile tears over this possible conflict of interest is hypocritical to say the least (Justice Scalia duck hunting with a guy who had a case in his court - a guy named Cheney - and repugs saying there was NO conflict of interest ring a bell?).

And, yes, they're heavy-duty crocodile tears of homophobia.

Just because the wingnuts are wrong does not mean that St. Barney is right.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 7, 2008 11:58 AM

No amount of Republican dirty tricks can save them this time.

The Republicans always get ugly in the last few weeks of the campaign and are expert at exploiting racism and homophobia because the Democrats give them so many openings by doing things like injecting racism in their own primaries and by gutting ENDA and similar moves.

Nothing was uglier than the Clinton's blatant racism or Barney Franks stabbing us in the back to please bigoted business owners.

It’s a bipartisan thing.