Saturday, September 13, 2008
He has admitted evading back taxes on $75,000 of income from a rental property over a period of 20 years.
For what it's worth, he is being represented by Democratic party fixer and Clinton confidant Lanny Davis.
Rangel blames his wife for the error, claiming that she handles finances, so he isn't really culpable. Nevermind that they file a joint return. Or that he must have signed the returns.
Now, if you know about filing taxes, you probably also know that penalties, at least for you, me, and other average Americans who don't belong to the ruling party's House delegation, are much stiffer and more serious for 'above the line' misstatements than they are for 'below the line' errors.
The 'line' in question is gross income. The IRS takes a much dimmer view of misstating income than it does for erroneously claiming deductions.
What Rangel committed was an 'above the line' infraction. He and his wife misrepresented their gross income.
If you or I were found to have done that, it could be a major issue. A criminal offense.
Do you think the sitting tax dodger from New York is worried about that? No way.
Or, maybe, 'no way or means.'
In a Presidential election year in which Rangel's party's own candidate is alleging to be above reproach, the Messiah of ethics and clean campaigning, the untimely revelation of Rangel's ethical and financial gaffe must be irritating to the freshman Senator from Illinois.
It might even give voters pause about just how 'new' the politics of the Democratic party really are.
Judging by Rangel's attempt to trivialize his crimes, hold onto his Chairmanship and seat in the face of Republican House leadership calls for him to step down, he knows he will get off without a penalty on this.
Surely, he knows he won't be treated as an ordinary citizen. After all, as a Democratic Congressman, he no doubt feels invincible and safe from all manner of penalties and punishments for illegal actions that lesser, non-office-holding Americans would suffer.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I am originally from Illinois, so I happen to know a few things about the political past of the freshman Senator from that state.
Do you know how he became Senator? It's a story involving some curious occurrences.
Republican Jack Ryan had won the primary for his party to run for the seat of retiring Illinois Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald. But questions about the records of his California divorce from Jeri Ryan clouded his past.
Initially, Obama urged the unsealing of these records. Then, after his minions had pressured for their release, and emailed information about them, the Democratic candidate did a public about-face, the better to appear ethical and above using smear tactics.
But, ultimately, against the wishes of both parties to the divorce, a California judge inexplicably released details from the divorce records which included allegations by Jack Ryan's ex-wife regarding his involving her in activities at sex clubs.
Within a few days, Ryan, who had an excellent prospect of winning the election, had withdrawn. The remaining, no-name or ill-chosen Republican candidates had no chance, by mid-summer, of winning the contest.
It's a stretch to say Obama personally influenced a California judge to divulge the sensitive divorce information. But it's not a stretch at all to note his eagerness to pry those records open in the first place.
It fits with his pattern of unseating his original political patron in Illinois by disqualifying her for re-election via challenging signatures on her nominating petitions, as well as those of other candidates.
Ever the 'community organizer,' Obama's first steps to political office were taken by organizing grassroots sabotage of his opponents, including his own mentor.
Of course, the rookie Senator doesn't dwell on that anymore. Nor his lackluster time as an Illinois state legislator.
It looks bad in comparsion to his current attempts to be the squeaky clean, 'post-partisan' candidate who said he would not engage in negative campaigning.
In fact, he has done so throughout his political career. And with the arrival of Sarah Palin on the national scene, Obama has revved up his mudslinging, personal attacks against opponents again into high gear.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
That is, Obama is on the attack. Personal attacks. Likening his opponent's VP pick to an animal- a pig, to be specific.
This is the same guy who so recently promised 'post-partisan,' high-minded politics and campaigning. The same Democratic Savior who has promised to bring a new, positive-only brand of politics and governing to America.
Was anyone able to measure the half-life of his empty promises? He and his running mate, who, I think, most Americans would be hard-pressed to recall, or even recognize, are slinging mud at and smearing McCain and Palin as fast and hard as possible.
In short, politics as usual.
I happened to see a friend at my fitness club on Tuesday. He's a fairly liberal Democrat who was born in France. Despite our political differences, we have some interesting and constructive conversations.
He has lately, in his retired state, been taking American history classes. Just now, he's studying the politics of the early American Republic, post-Washington, but pre-Lincoln. As I expected, he related to me that today's politics- full of mudslinging, venom, and negative, ad hominem attacks- are not only in the tradition of American politics from the founding of our Republic, but pale in comparison to the antics of old.
Like Thomas Jefferson hiring third parties to smear his opponents.
If Obama were to have run a non-negative campaign, it would have indeed been the political equivalent of walking on water, or parting it.
Of course, as soon as the Illinois freshman saw his 'entitled' lead in the polls melt away with the arrival of Sarah Palin, he began doing to McCain and Palin what he claims Hillary did to him when she felt her rightful nomination as Democratic party Presidential nominee was slipping away.
He has authorized digging up dirt on his opponents. He has cried foul when they question his own motives, background and positions. He has departed from his own lofty themes of 'change' and big government programs- which he claims are all voters really want to hear- in order to personally launch attacks on Sarah Palin's life and person, rather than her record.
Clearly, Obama is running scared. Very, very scared. When you counted on being the fresh face, race or gender, and personality, to sweep all before you, and you are upstaged by another, fresher face, race or gender, what can you do?
Attack! That's what.
So much for Obama the change agent. The non- or post-partisan pol and would-be President. Ethics be damned, there's an election to win.
The good news is that, none too late, Obama has revealed himself as the average, normal, typical politician he actually is.
Will this drive his allegedly-energized base of newly-registered college kids back to campus on election day, disheartened at the fraud and deceit of the Democratic Presidential candidate? I'd bet it will, to a larger extent than Obama expects, and can afford.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The liberal mainstream media, of course, ate this up. The fact that the rookie from Illinois was wrong did not bother them.
Why do Democrats, year in, year out, seem to dominate the networks and print media with their speeches, proposals and 'solutions?'
Perhaps because, as liberals, they strongly believe in a government-paid solution to anyone's problem.
They propose programs for every ill, imagined or not. They believe every economic down-draft and cycle should be eliminated, or, if not, ameliorated by compensating voters. If even one American experiences a bad day due to their own lack of judgment or poor choices, the Black Adder, Frisco Nan and Harry Reid are there to assure them that, if these latter pols have their way, Uncle Sam will be sending a check to the self-damaged voter muy pronto.
For example, right now, Obama claims our economy is 'fragile.' Is it? It's not even in a recession yet, as measured by agreed-upon, conventional methodology. So how can we need even more transfer payments?
Thus, Democrats always have a new program to 'fix' something, whereas Republicans, who tend to believe in self-reliance and weathering natural cycles, do not.
McCain and Palin did address numerous economic issues last week at their convention. However, none of their solutions involved new federal programs. Or expanding existing one.
No, instead, they dwelt on individual responsibility, reforming existing job retraining programs, and reining in Federal spending, i.e., the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Thus, media bandwidth and time are taken up by Democrats preaching 'solutions' for each misfortune, while Republicans are made to look insensitive, flinty and uncaring.
And every time a Steny Hoyer, Frisco Nan Pelosi, Harry Reid, "Lying" Joe Biden, or even Obama speak, they are sure to the new spending and programmatic 'solution' they are proposing for real or imagined ills.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Incredibly, the Democratic candidate literally gave as justification for his explicitly, acknowledged wealth-transfer economic policies, the following, closely paraphrased example,
'If you are doing alright, and the waitress over there is just getting by on minimum wage and tips, why not give a little extra for/to her.'
With incredible irony, Obama branded himself either a socialist, or a Bush compassionate conservative.
It's likely to be the first, of course. What the junior Senator has in mind is to use the tax code, as so many Democratic Presidents, from FDR to Clinton have, to reward poorer Americans for simply being poorer, rather than provide them with incentives to better their lot.
If it were the second, Obama would be advocating, as I do, local charitable activity to identify and help one's own, known fellow citizens.
To me, one of the great mistakes of modern American Federalism has been to attempt to nationalize the originally community-based function of helping the less fortunate. Like almost any Federal activity that is not a bare-bones nation-building or -preserving function, such as military security, an effective justice system, and a fair tax system to fund government, this has become bloated, ill-managed and ineffective ever since FDR and LBJ launched massive spending programs.
Community-based administration of social safety-net programs have always made more sense to me. One-size fits all Washington rules and regulations have hobbled and damaged everything from welfare to education in America.
Unfortunately, the rookie from Illinois understands none of this. He wants to continue ineffective Federal business as usual, taking your money, if you are anywhere near above-average in income, and handing it to a poorer person, rather than think about how to help the poorer Americans use education and our economic opportunities to better their own lives.
Our talk turned to Presidential politics. My friend is black, so she is, on simply the basis of demographics, an apparently easily-typed voter. One would naturally assume, especially this year, that she will vote for the freshman Senator from Illinois.
As it happens, she wasn't sure for whom she would vote, between him and Hillary. If memory serves, she didn't get the chance to choose when Michigan held its Democratic primary last spring.
Now, she surprised me with the news that she had been seriously considering voting for McCain. His reputation as a Washington outsider and irascible change agent made him her potential candidate of choice.
Ironically, she told me his choice of Sarah Palin as his VP sent my friend back toward the rookie from Illinois.
You see, my friend is pro-abortion, and nothing else about Palin captures her attention except the VP candidate's pro-life stance.
Just minutes after my friend decried single-issue voters, she reversed course and told me she was no longer remotely interested in voting for McCain, since that would potentially bring Palin to the Oval Office.
I'm not judging my friend's choice. She is who she is, and is entitled to her political views. Politics, as I told my daughter recently, is emotional. Rationality frequently leaves a person when s/he is discussing politics. And, this is America. Quadrennial voting for President is probably our ultimate expression of political freedom, even if, technically, we don't popularly elect the President.
But my Detroit friend's political course changes and deliberations made me think about the polls we all see on a daily basis now, as well as frequent projections of stereotyped voter bases.
This year, with the two major party candidates so extremely different in their philosophical approaches to using Federal power and the White House, it's difficult for me to believe two things.
First, that old demographic trends and typical behavior will still hold sway.
Second, that many polled individuals will remain solid in their choices throughout the next eight weeks.
Monday, September 8, 2008
The reason I found this so interesting is that, when I happened to catch the audio in the room next to my office, and walked in to watch the segment, I was fully prepared for the extent of Donny's remarks.
Having been a marketing student in both undergraduate and graduate school, I am well aware of the sociological and psychological bases of many marketing and advertising themes and propositions.
In fact, Donny directly and explicitly addressed the sexual component of Sarah Palin's appeal that Erin Burnett only referred to obliquely, using the first and last letters of the acronym MILF.
But I was not at all surprised that Deutsch described Palin as a 'seminal moment' in American politics. Further, he finally explained, without mentioning her, why Hillary was unable to leverage her gender.
She's simply not attractive. And if a woman is going to be powerful, female, and successful in politics, she needs to be both of the first two. Hillary adopted male trappings.
Sarah Palin is unabashedly running as an attractive uber-woman. Physically attractive, organizationally powerful, professionally successful and a mother, too.
I love the fact that Deutsch, simply following his professional instincts and nature, addressed all the themes present in Sarah Palin's attractiveness without flinching, hiding anything, nor beating around the bush.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
A recent Wall Street Journal piece sets the record straight. Among the choice observations provided by the author, Peter Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, and current senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, are,
"Mrs. Palin's lack of mastery of national security issues is often contrasted with Mr. Obama's vice presidential pick, Joseph Biden Jr. Mr. Biden has served in the Senate since 1973, is currently chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and is often described as a "statesman."
In fact, decade after decade and on important issue after important issue, Mr. Biden's judgment has been deeply flawed.
In the 1970s, Mr. Biden opposed giving aid to the South Vietnamese government in its war against the North. Congress's cut-off of funds contributed to the fall of an American ally, helped communism advance, and led to mass death throughout the region. Mr. Biden also advocated defense cuts so massive that both Edmund Muskie and Walter Mondale, both leading liberal Democrats at the time, opposed them.
In the early 1980s, the U.S. was engaged in a debate over funding the Contras, a group of Nicaraguan freedom fighters attempting to overthrow the Communist regime of Daniel Ortega. Mr. Biden was a leading opponent of President Ronald Reagan's efforts to fund the Contras.
Throughout his career, Mr. Biden has consistently opposed modernization of our strategic nuclear forces. He was a fierce opponent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Mr. Biden voted against funding SDI, saying, "The president's continued adherence to [SDI] constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft." Mr. Biden has remained a consistent critic of missile defense and even opposed the U.S. dropping out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty after the collapse of the Soviet Union (which was the co-signatory to the ABM Treaty) and the end of the Cold War.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and, we later learned, was much closer to attaining a nuclear weapon than we had believed. President George H.W. Bush sought war authorization from Congress. Mr. Biden voted against the first Gulf War, asking: "What vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?"
In 2006, after having voted three years earlier to authorize President George W. Bush's war to liberate Iraq, Mr. Biden argued for the partition of Iraq, which would have led to its crack-up. Then in 2007, Mr. Biden opposed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, calling it a "tragic mistake." It turned out to be quite the opposite. Without the surge, the Iraq war would have been lost, giving jihadists their most important victory ever.
On many of the most important and controversial issues of the last four decades, Mr. Biden has built a record based on bad assumptions, misguided analyses and flawed judgments. If he had his way, America would be significantly weaker, allies under siege would routinely be cut loose, and the enemies of the U.S. would be stronger.
There are few members of Congress whose record on national security matters can be judged, with the benefit of hindsight, to be as consistently bad as Joseph Biden's."
It's difficult to add to Mr. Wehner's own piece, so powerful and complete is it in cataloging Joe Biden's misguided votes, words and deeds in the US foreign policy arena.
When this do-nothing windbag from Delaware has expressed any opinions on foreign affairs, he has uniformly been wrong.
And this is the rookie Illinois Senator's new bulwark and resource for foreign policy on the Democratic Presidential ticket?
Lord, save us if these clowns win in November.