Wednesday, 11 February 2009

THE TERRORIST "VICTIM"

Ken Berwitz

From the UK's Daily Telegraph:

Female FBI officer 'tortured Mumbai terror attacks suspect with sex'

A female FBI officer tortured a suspect in the Mumbai terrorist attacks by performing a sex act on him during interrogation, it has been claimed.

By Ben Leach
Last Updated: 7:37AM GMT 11 Feb 2009

Fahim Ansari is accused of helping to plan the attacks in which 173 people were killed in November.

His lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, has filed legal papers with Mumbai magistrate's court, claiming the "white woman" removed all his clothes and showed him pornographic films.

In the papers, he claims that three foreigners, including the woman, sexually abused him, causing him "severe itching and wounds" on his body, including his genitals.

Mr Ansari, a devout Muslim, claims this amounts to torture because it is against his religion, The Sun newspaper has reported.

A court in the Indian city ordered medical checks on "wounds on his private parts and all over his body."

Mr Ansari was arrested with five other suspects last year.

Police have said that he is a trained member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organisation responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

He was detained in February last year in connection with an attack on a police camp in Rampur that left seven paramilitaries and one civilian dead.

Police have said Mr Ansari had hand-drawn maps of key Mumbai landmarks, some of which were hit in the attacks that started on 26 November.

Do you like ansari's perfectly absurd circus performance?  

What we are dealing with is people who, instead of celebrating the legal rights they have in countries like the UK, or India, or the USA, exploit them to make insane claims like this --- always with the purpose of ending such rights and replacing them with shari'a law.

This is what we are fighting.  This is why we fight. 


NO, NOT THERE! THE UDDER! THE UDDER!

Ken Berwitz

Thirsty for some cow piss?

If you are, you'll particularly enjoy this story, which comes to us from India.  If you aren't, you probably won't. 

Here is the story, straight from the Times of London:


BIPARTISANSHIP IN THE OBAMA ERA

Ken Berwitz

From Connie Hair at www.humanevents.com

Republicans Shut Out of Stimulus Conference Negotiations
Republicans have caught the Democrats in a midnight stimulus power play that seeks to cut Republican conferees out of the House-Senate negotiations to resolve a final version of the Obama stimulus package. Staff members from the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met last night to put together the stimulus conference report.

They intend to attempt to shove this $1.3 trillion spending bill through in the dead of the night without Republican input so floor action can take place in both chambers on Thursday.

I spoke with House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) moments ago about this latest version of Democratic bipartisanship. Pence told me, I think the American people deserve to know that legislation that would comprise an amount equal to the entire discretionary budget of the United States of America is being crafted without a single House Republican in the room.
 
UPDATE:  Some Republicans reportedly were in the late-night conference. But -- at least from the Senate -- the official Republican conferees were excluded.  HUMAN EVENTS has received e-mail confirmations from the staffs of both Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Ia) and John Thune (R-SD) saying that they had no participation in the conference.  

From other Senate sources, we understand that the RINOs were there:  one senior staff source told us that the most likely suspects were Sens. Arlen Specter (RINO-Pa) and Susan Collins (RINO-Me) whose staffs may have been there.

HUMAN EVENTS has attempted to verify that report with repeated e-mails and phone calls to Specters and Collinss staffs.  We have been unable to get a response so far.  

We will continue to update this report as information becomes available.

From Mr. Obama's own web site:

  • End the Practice of Writing Legislation Behind Closed Doors: As president, Barack Obama will restore the American people's trust in their government by making government more open and transparent. Obama will work to reform congressional rules to require all legislative sessions, including committee mark-ups and conference committees, to be conducted in public. By making these practices public, the American people will be able to hold their leaders accountable for wasteful spending and lawmakers won't be able to slip favors for lobbyists into bills at the last minute.
  • Liars.


    THE REPUBLICAN 'MODERATES'

    Ken Berwitz

    About the 3,692nd time I've read that the three Republican senators signing onto the Stealfromus Package are "moderates", I thought I'd check and see how moderate they actually are.

    So I went to www.vote-smart.org, an invaluable site for getting factual information about our politicians, and checked the most recent ratings given to these three by the American Conservative Union (long-time conservative group) and the Americans for Democratic Action (long-time liberal group).

    Here they are:

    ACU RATING    ADA RATING

    Arlen Spector                     40%                     60%

    Susan Collins                      36%                     55%

    Olympia Snowe:                 28%                     60%

     

    Yep, they're "moderates" all right. 

    I would love to compare that to the voting records of "moderate" Democrats.  Maybe media would like to supply us a list to see where they fall too.

    The point, of course, is that these "moderates" are probably the three most liberal Republican senators that exist.  To our wonderful "neutral" media, however, this equates to being "moderates".

    But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

     

     


    ORAL R. OBAMA?

    Ken Berwitz

    When I was a kid I used to love watching Oral Roberts on Sunday Morning.  Not for his message about Jesus (being Jewish, that didn't ring my chimes).  But for the segment when he healed the sick.

    Somewhere within his show, people would come out of the audience with a variety of disabilities that could be faked.  They would profess their love of, and faith in, Jesus.  Roberts would then lay his hands on them and scream "HEAL!  HEAL!".  Amazingly, every one of them was then healed.

    He healed more deafness, arthritis, limps, etc. than I can remember.  He never healed a scar, or regrew a leg or normalized a physical deformity of any kind - the stuff that you couldn't fake. 

    But it was great fun watching him.  (I watched professional wrestling then too, pretty much for the same reason).

    This brings me to Barack Obama's performance in Florida yesterday.  He's busy making a rousing speech about how dire our need is for the stealfromus...er, stimulus package, to an enthusiastic, supportive crowd.  And suddenly there is this "homeless woman" who is handed a microphone and sobs that she and her family live in their car and they need their own kitchen and bathroom.

    Mr. Obama comes down from the stage, asks her name, and tells her that "we'll do everything we can", as the crowd applauds and cheers - just like they applauded and cheered when Oral Roberts "healed" the infirm.

    Here, from www.finkelblog.com ,  is Mark Finkelstein's take on this bizarre incident, complete with video.  Mark was astute enough to notice, and point out the woman mouthing "I love you Barack", as the President kisses this poor (but strangely well dressed and groomed) homeless woman. (You can see the video by  clicking here ):

    Wall Street might have blown Barack Obama a big collective raspberry for the underwhelming performance of his Treasury Secretary yesterday, but there are clearly still some passionate fans of the president out there.

    The emotional highlight of yesterdays town hall in Ft. Myers, Florida occurred when a woman described herself as homeless and asked the president for help.

    Pres. Obama asked the womans name, embraced her, and promised to do everything he could to help her.  The presidents display of compassion manifestly moved another woman in the audience.  Keep your eye on the woman in white in the left-hand side of the frame.

    The audio is very faint, but the lip-reading leaves little doubt that she was saying: I love you, Barack.

    Note:  As they cheered, Wall Street took a complete nosedive on the specifics laid out by Timothy Geithner, our new Secretary of the Treasury, whom Mr. Obama gratingly refers to as "MY" Secretary of the Treasury (the Dow dropped almost 400 points).

    He ain't yours, Barack.  He's ours.  You're the one who inflicted him on us.


    THE HOMELESS PLANT

    Ken Berwitz

    Here's a shocker for you:  That "homeless woman" Barack Obama promised to help, the one who immediately got a home (why....he's not a President, he's a Saint, that's what he is!), was a plant. 

    And her homelessness had nothing to do with the current financial meltdown.

    Michelle Malkin has the story - one that we somehow didn't see in this morning's media:

    Update: Henrietta Hughes gets a house

    By Michelle Malkin    February 10, 2009 04:31 PM

    Ask at an Obama revival meeting and ye shall receive:

    Henrietta Hughes was offered a home by Chene Thompson, wife of State Representative Nick Thompson, who heard the homeless womans pleas for help to President Obama before a local and national crowd.
    Advertisement

    The house is in LaBelle, the first home [Chene] Thompson bought after law school. She told Hughes, Just give me the opportunity to help you.

    Hughes broke down in front of thousands when she told the president that she and her son have been homeless for more than a year. They are living in a pickup truck.

    Obama hugged her after she asked her question and said his staff would help. A staffer later gave her a card to the head of the housing authority and she was told he would help her.

    (link)

    Reader Erik E. has questions. Careful, Erik. You are committing sacrilege. Dissent is unpatriotic. And cruel.

    You know you cannot just enter an Obama town hall meeting. They give out tickets in advance. Who gets the tickets? People who stand in line and wait. Who tells people when and where Obama will appear next? Certainly not the Secret Service who has to protect this man. Not the MSM, who are too busy telling us how great he is without asking any critical questions.

    Sooooo how does a 61 year-old homeless woman whos living in a pickup truck with her son JUST HAPPEN to get a ticket so she can VERY PUBLICALLY ask Prez. Obama for a HOUSE? Anyone? Who pushes her up on stage? Shes right at the front of the crowd. Did she just happen to get a seat there?

    Now, within moments of this happening, its trumpeted all over the news. AND, surprise, surprise, the wife of State Representative Nick Thompson, Chene Thompson JUST HAPPENS to have a spare house worth $150,000 lying around, so she GIVES it to this unemployed, homeless, living-in-a-truck woman. Theyve been homeless for more than a year, which coincidentally, predates the current housing and banking crisis by quite a while. How did they learn about the Obama Town Hall and Tent Revival? Were homeless people simply rounded up? Did someone pre-canvas the area in search of great, tear-jerking stories? Of all the people in the audience, SHES one of the ones Obama chooses to ask a question?

    BTW-the taxes which will be charged on this free house will bankrupt the poor woman. Taxes are levied based on the homes assessed value, not on the basis of it being a free gift.

    On a second, double-snort, the last guy who gets to ask a question JUST HAPPENS to be a 19-year-old kid of Hispanic descent whos going to Edison State College (free tuition perhaps for in-state students?) and has worked at McDonalds for FOUR AND A HALF YEARS. By my math, he started working there when he was 14! Florida child-labor law infraction, anyone? Now, having worked at McDs several times in my past I can say that they DO offer health care plans. You have to PAY for it, just like everyone else in the country does. Its OPTIONAL. Its not a God-given right.

    Do the Thompsons get to claim this as a charitable tax deduction against their (probably) considerable 2009 income? How many houses do they own?

    Is there anyone left in the media who will ask these questions? Ever?

    Silence! Do not question Dear Leader.

    So tell me; if this logic was so basic, and the information so easy to come by, how come it wasn't on the Today show or in my New York Times this morning?

    Never mind.  We both know why, don't we?


    MORE MADOFF THIEVERY

    Ken Berwitz

    From Reuters:

    Madoff's wife pulled out $15 million before his arrest

    Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:11pm GMT
     
    By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Martha Graybow

    BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The wife of Bernard Madoff withdrew more than $15 million from an account linked to the accused swindler in the days before his arrest, Massachusetts authorities said on Wednesday, adding a new layer of intrigue into the probe of the purported $50 billion scam.

    Ruth Madoff pulled $10 million on December 10, the day before her husband was arrested and charged with running a global investment fraud, and $5.5 million on November 25, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.

    Galvin did not file any charges against Ruth Madoff. The disclosure of her withdrawals came in reports produced by Cohmad Securities, a firm co-owned by Bernard Madoff that had funneled millions of dollars from its clients to Madoff.

    Bernard Madoff, 70, is the only person charged so far in the alleged scam that has hit banks, charities, wealthy investors and celebrities worldwide.

    Madoff told authorities he acted alone in confessing to the fraud, prosecutors have said.

    Legal experts, however, have said they are skeptical that such a massive fraud could have been pulled off by one person.

    Federal prosecutors, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, various state authorities and a court-appointed trustee liquidating the Madoff firm are all investigating.

    Lawyers for the Madoffs could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

    Why isn't ruth madoff in jail?  Why isn't the brother, peter madoff in jail?  Why aren't the sons, mark and andrew, in jail?  Every one of them worked with him.

    And WHY ISN'T BERNARD MADOFF IN JAIL?


    THE CABLE NEWS RATINGS

    Ken Berwitz

    Here, straight from Neilsen, and www.drudgereport.com where I just saw them, are the latest ratings for prime-time news stations.

    See if you notice a bit of a trend:

    CABLE NEWS RACE
    TUES NITE, FEB 11, 2009
    VIEWERS

    FOXNEWS O'REILLY 3,494,000
    FOXNEWS HANNITY 2,658,000
    FOXNEWS BECK 2,370,000
    FOXNEWS BAIER 2,305,000
    FOXNEWS SHEP 2,190,000
    FOXNEWS GRETA 1,847,000
    CNN KING 1,761,000
    MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,485,000
    CNN COOPER 1,286,000
    CNN BLITZER 1,246,000
    MSNBC MADDOW 1,240,000

    No wonder Democrats are pushing "the fairness doctrine" (which, in reality, is the exact opposite.).  As with talk radio, when there is an actual competition between liberal and conservative, their side can't compete.  So their answer is to eliminate the competition.

    One other thing.  I notice that O'Reilly has about 2 1/2 times the viewership as keith olbermann.  They both have huge egos.......but evidently O'Reilly has a lot more to be egotistical about.  Like 2,000,000 additional viewers.


    THE END OF OFFSHORE DRILLING?

    Ken Berwitz

    One of the few bright spots in our situation is that the cost of oil has dropped so low. 

    No one realistically expects it to stay here for the long haul.  But it gives us a respite from the onerously higher prices we saw just a matter of months ago, and buys time for us to develop the desperately needed offshore oil resources that..........

    ......wait a minute.  This is now the Obama administration.  There may not be any offshore oil resources.

    The San Francisco Chronicle has the details:

    White House puts coastal drilling plans on hold

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    (02-11) 04:00 PST Washington - --

    President Obama is shelving a plan announced in the final days of the Bush presidency to open much of the U.S. coast to oil and gas drilling, including 130 million acres off California's shores from Mendocino to San Diego.

    Interior Secretary Ken Salazar put the plan on hold Tuesday while his agency conducts a 180-day review. But Salazar's critical comments about the proposal made clear that the new administration will rewrite it if not completely scrap it.

    "It opened the possibility of oil and gas leases along the entire Eastern seaboard, portions of offshore California and the far eastern Gulf of Mexico with almost no consultation from states, industry or community input," Salazar said at a news conference in Washington. "In my view, it was a headlong rush of the worst kind."

    He said his agency will hold four public meetings over the next few months - one in Alaska, one on the West Coast, one on the East Coast and one near the Gulf Coast - to hear from governors, local officials, industry groups and environmentalists about the plan.

    Salazar steered clear of the bigger question: Whether Obama will seek to renew the 3-decade-old presidential moratorium on drilling off most of the East and West coasts, which Bush lifted in July amid soaring gas prices.

    He echoed comments made by Obama last year that the administration would be open to more offshore drilling but only as part of a broader policy focused on producing more renewable energy from wind, solar and geothermal power.

    Seat at the table

    "For those of you from the oil and gas industry ... I pledge to you that you will have a seat at the table," Salazar said. "We need your expertise and your resources as we move forward. But as President Obama has said and as I believe ... a drill-only energy approach, onshore and offshore, is not enough."

    Salazar also ordered his agency to finalize rules to speed the development of offshore renewable energy, such as offshore wind turbines, tidal and wave energy and other emerging technologies, which he said the Bush administration had delayed.

    Bush had sought to seize on a lapse in the congressional drilling ban last year to craft a new five-year oil-lease sale program, which it announced Jan. 16, the last business day of the Bush presidency. The outgoing Republican administration was daring the new president to reject the plan.

    The Bush rules would have opened most of the U.S. coastline to exploration, from the Gulf of Maine to the Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as areas of Alaska's Bristol Bay and the Arctic Ocean.

    Effect on California

    In California, the plan would have allowed drilling on 44 million acres of federal waters off Humboldt and Mendocino counties, and 89 million acres off San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. One of the leases would have required special drilling equipment to reach oil beneath the Santa Barbara Ecological Preserve.

    California officials praised the Obama administration for slowing down the process.

    "I'm pleased the department will base its future leasing decisions on the strongest, most objective science available instead of campaign slogans, especially in areas that have previously been off-limits to drilling for decades," said Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, an opponent of drilling.

    Oil industry setback

    Oil industry officials were disappointed by Salazar's announcement, saying it was a major setback to efforts to tap what the Interior Department's Minerals Management Services estimates is 18 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the areas of the Outer Continental Shelf that remain off limits.

    Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America said, "This unnecessary delay will hold America back, at the precise moment when we need to move forward the most."

    Environmental groups applauded the decision, but they plan to keep pressuring Salazar, fearing that the Interior Department could still allow drilling in sensitive areas, especially Bristol Bay, a key fishery.

    "We hope the secretary will apply the same principles of acting in the public interest to other offshore decisions, including those that are so critical to Alaskan communities in Bristol Bay and the offshore areas of the Arctic region," said William Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society.

    Enjoy the window of lower oil prices, folks.  It won't forever.  And when prices go back up, we will be even more dependent on foreign oil - in places like Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela which absolutely hate our guts - than we were before.

    Thank you Secretary Salazar.  Thank you President Obama.  Great idea.  That'll do wonders for the economy you profess to be rescuing.


    THE OCTUPLET WOMAN: DECENCY AND SHAME

    Ken Berwitz

    I had a bit of trouble titling this blog.  I started with "the octuplet lady", but nadya suleman is no lady.  I went to "the octuplet woman", but she does not display the behavior of a grownup.  I thought about "the octuplet woman-child" but that suggests she is a woman with the mental capacity of a child when she clearly has an adult level of intelligence.  So I reverted back to "woman" as the best that I could come up with.

    Jeff Jacoby has a typically intelligent, analytical column today about her.  In part, Jeff says:

    It is easy to assert that Suleman's Beverly Hills fertility clinic should have refused her grotesque demand to be implanted with six embryos (two split and became twins), but it isn't clear that a court would have upheld such a refusal. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends transferring no more than two fertilized embryos to a woman of Suleman's age, but when a patient insists on more, the physicians' hands may be tied. "Doctors' attorneys are advising them, `You have to do it,'" ASRM spokesman Sean Tipton tells Time magazine. "The courts have made clear that decisions about what to do with embryos are in the hands of patients, not in the hands of physicians."

    Last summer the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a fertility specialist may not refuse, on religious grounds, to inseminate a lesbian. What would the law say if Suleman's doctors had refused to impregnate a woman who already had six young children but no husband? Discrimination on the basis of marital status is illegal in California, too.

    It may seem reasonable to argue that women are not designed to bear litters. Or that society should not have to absorb the costs of indulging an unemployed woman's obsession for a "huge" family. Or that it is wrong to purposely bring 14 fatherless children into the world.

    Those are all sensible opinions, and a sensible public policy would reflect them. But in the name of autonomy, privacy, and adult self-esteem, our public policies regarding families and reproduction have grown increasingly unmoored from good sense. From the campaign for homosexual marriage to the routine insemination of single women to the legality of abortion on demand, notions that would once have been thought outlandish have steadily been normalized.

    Would that further industrial-scale pregnancies like Suleman's could be headed off with a new law or stepped-up regulation. But can law and regulation fill the void left when longstanding taboos and morals are cast aside? When society decides that families and child-rearing can be improvised at will, who gets to say what's "freakish?"

    Jeff makes a lot of good points.  But I can't abide his conclusion.

    The problem here is not law.  suleman's existence, however grotesque (yes, I borrowed that line from A Few Good Men), is legal -- and should be.  It should be in the sense that I agree with every individual legal decision that enables her to be this grotesque. 

    The problem is decency and shame. 

    Want a parallel?  How many people do you know who at one time or another found a way to collect unemployment benefits they probably were not entitled to?  Or to collect health insurance for a regular checkup by inventing "a pain" somewhere on their body in order to claim a specific physical problem that just happens to be covered?  There are two examples, and we both can name many, many more.

    But would you end unemployment because some people game the system?  Would you make health care insurance illegal?  Of course not.  We understand that whenever a law or procedure of some kind is put in place for good, beneficial, necessary reasons, there will be people looking for, and finding, angles they can use to exploit it. 

    Again, the problem is decency and shame.

    nadya suleman apparently has neither.  So she is playing taxpayers for suckers in a lot of ways, not just the 14 children she has brought into this world for we, the taxpayers, to subsidize. 

    It turns out that, years ago, she had a spinal "injury" (sorry, I am very suspicious here) that causes her not to be able to work, and she has collected $165,000 on it.  So far.

    A spinal injury so bad she can't work, but not bad enough to stop her from proactively seeking out a pregnancy and carrying multiple children in her body.  If you like fraud, try that one on for size.

    And, since two of her children (so far) are autistic, and she can't pay for their needs, who do you suppose is footing the bill?

    Then there are those Angelina Jolie lips -- that she says are natural.  Yeah, ok, and so are Dolly Parton's boobs.  Who do you suppose paid for that?  I don't know for 100% sure, but I can guess.

    The point is that it isn't the law that has to change.  It is the shame and decency level of people like nadya suleman. 

    Sadly, I don't know that we will solve this problem any time soon.  Or ever.


    BARNEY FUDD ON INCENTIVES

    Ken Berwitz

    From Noel Sheppard of www.newsbusters.org:

    Barney Frank: Bonuses to Financial Executives Are Bribes

    Capitalism Derangement Syndrome was on full display during Wednesday's House Financial Services Committee hearing when Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) accused the financial industry executives present of needing to be bribed with bonuses to do their jobs.

    That's right: a bonus is now the equivalent of a bribe as far as Frank is concerned.

    Given the beating capitalism and the free market have been getting from the press on a daily basis since the financial crisis began in September, it seems a metaphysical certitude that Frank's rant to the CEO's of America's leading financial institutions will get a lot of play in the next 24 hours:

    BARNEY FRANK: Let me ask you, on the incentive, and I'm glad to see that you're not, many of you are not taking bonuses. But I have to say this: if you believe in bonuses, then is that something bad? I mean, I guess, you've gotten bonuses over time. If in good times you were told you weren't going to get a bonus, what part of your job would you not do? I mean, if you weren't getting a bonus, would you like leave early on Wednesday? Or would you take longer lunches? Would you bypass a certain class of investors? I guess that's, you say, and somebody said, well, your incentive comes in shares that align your interests with that of the company's. Here's one of the problems: why in the world do some of the most highly-paid talented people who have jobs that are fun. Let's be clear, not always fun, this is not amusement park time. Why do you need to be bribed to have your interests aligned with the people who are paying your salary? And this is part of the problem. I know it's a problem at the lower end who get bonuses and that's been built into their compensation. But at your level, again, why do you need bonuses? Can't we just give you a good salary, or give yourselves a good salary, you're in charge of that -- and do the job? This notion that you need some special incentive to do the right thing troubles people.    

    Actually, Senator, that's exactly what incentives are for: to encourage people to do the right thing. It's called positive reinforcement, or in more simple terms "a carrot."

    That Frank and his media minions don't understand this is the problem, for every business owner, manager, and executive in America knows that incentives do indeed work AT EVERY level of any successful organization.

    Will press outlets address that side of the equation when they report Frank's comments, or just applaud his Capitalism Derangement?

    Stay tuned.

    Getting a bonus for poor work is ridiculous. 

    Getting a huge bonus for poor, or just adequate work is even more ridiculous.

    Getting a bonus because the company has done well and there is extra money to distribute, or especially, because individual employees have performed very well, is great. 

    But to Barney Fudd, it's a bribe.  This, from his vast experience outside of politics, where, as we all know, bribes are unheard of.

    I wonder if Mr. Fudd accepts the countless perks that are available to him as a house member.  Or does he disdain them as "bribes", refuse them all, and condemn the house members who do accept them? 

    In case you're wondering what specific perks I'm talking about, here is a partial list from www.kiplinger.com:

    A base lawmakers' salary, for instance, is now $165,200 (a little higher for House and Senate leaders). There is a cheap but excellent federal health care plan and life insurance. Plus free outpatient care from military hospitals. There is an inflation-adjusted pension plan that's almost three times as generous as the typical private sector pension, and there's a special thrift-savings accounts, a kind of 401(k) plan, that comes a one-to-one match up to 5% of a member's salary.

    On top of that, they're given a sizable budget of $2 million to $4 million a year for office administration and staff expenses. There is a furniture expense account, subsidized mass mailings to constituents (known as the franking privilege) and free income tax-return preparation assistance. In addition to all that, members also receive a special tax deduction for maintaining a second residence, and yet more, there are the numerous foreign trips (spouses included) often to exotic places hosted by nonprofit groups. House members, but not senators, can also keep frequent flier miles they rack up on official travel and use them for personal trips later.

    What's more, members have exclusive use of the Congressional Research Service to do their legwork. There is free use of broadcast taping studios, free reserved parking at the office and at Washington-area airports and a free member-only gym and pool, expedited passport services and of course the well-appointed and subsidized members' dining rooms.

    Do you have any doubt that Barney Fudd accepts these "bribes"?

    What a complete jerk this guy is.  And what jerks the people who keep re-electing him are.


    D- FENCE! D- FENSE! D- FENCE!

    Ken Berwitz

    charles rangel (D-NY) is a corrupt man, who has cheated on his taxes, cheated on the rental income from properties in and out of the US and cheated on leasing a subsidized apartment he has no legal right to.

    That is before we get to his string of increasingly vile and irrational comments and actions in the house of representatives.

    So how is is possible that this serial tax cheat and borderline lunatic remains the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee?

    D- fence, that's how.  You have that D- after your name and you are home free.  It doesn't matter what you do or what you are or what you say.  You skate.

    Here is the latest example, via excerpts from an Associated Press article in today's New York Times.  (This being the Times, instead of a featured story, it is buried on page A29):

    Democrats Reject Move to Strip Rangel of Chairmanship

    WASHINGTON (AP) House Democrats voted down an attempt on Tuesday to remove Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee during a continuing ethics investigation.

    The House ethics committee also voted Tuesday to reauthorize a subcommittee of three Democrats and three Republicans to investigate Mr. Rangel, a Democrat who has served in Congress for nearly 40 years. The investigation began last year at Mr. Rangels request, but the subcommittee needed reauthorization because a new Congress was sworn in last month.

    The ethics committee, formally the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, is looking at Mr. Rangels failure to pay taxes on about $75,000 in rental income from a beach house he owns in the Dominican Republic and his use of four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, including one for a campaign office. Also under scrutiny are letters Mr. Rangel wrote on Congressional stationery looking to find donors for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

    The resolution to remove Mr. Rangel as chairman said he has dishonored himself and brought discredit to the House. With no public debate, the House voted 242 to 157 to table the resolution, effectively killing it.

    There you have it.  A cheat, and a fraud, who has become more and more irrational in his words and the bills he proposes (one example is his bill to reinstate the draft, which he wasted the house's time with, and then voted against along with everyone else).  But Democrats will not remove him from chairing the tax-writing committee, let alone the house itself. 

    And don't expect to hear one disparaging word about it from President Obama either. 

    Look at it this way:  Mr. Obama is just making good on his promise of transparency in government.  Isn't this about as transparent as it gets?


    ISRAEL'S ELECTIONS

    Ken Berwitz

    There has been a lot of reporting on the very close election in Israel between the currently ruling Kadima Party (Tzipi Livni is its candidate) and the Likkud Party (Benjamin Netanyahu).

    The results right now show Kadima very slightly in the lead.  But a lot  of votes, including a lot of military votes, are yet to be factored in.

    This has not stopped some news venues in the USA from reporting the results from a position of ignorance about how Israel's system works. 

    With this in mind, here is a piece by Scott Johnson, of www.powerlineblog.com, which includes a very accurate assessment of how things are playing out in Israel:

    Dan Diker on Israel's elections

    February 11, 2009 Posted by Scott at 7:02 AM

    Dan Diker is a foreign policy analyst with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He writes from Jerusalem on Israel's elections:

    Perhaps Power Line can help CNN radio get its arms around Israeli politics. I heard a report last night that indicated they may need some assistance. ( (I overheard CNN while commenting from Jerusalem on northwest Florida's talk radio station 1330 AM WEBY.) CNN reported at 4:30 p.m. Central time that If Tzippy Livni's Kadima Party ends up taking the greatest number of mandates she will likely be Israel's next Prime Minister, and CNN emphasized, "the first woman since Golda Meir to take the post." Well, it may sound like good "top of the hour" headline news, but its simply inaccurate and misleading.

    Israel boasts -- many say suffers from -- a parliamentary political system that is based on ruling coalitions. Therefore, enthusiasm over Kadima Party's 28 seats is out of place. It means simply that approximately 23 percent of the Israeli electorate voted Kadima/ Livni, while 77 percent did not.

    The real headline news of yesterday's elections is the remarkable revival of conservative Likud Party led by Israel's version of a card carrying "Republican," Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud in leading with its security first and freer market economic policies, has managed to climb out of the deep dark hole of its near fatal 12 seats in the current Knesset to 27-- and perhaps as many as 29 seats by the final tally that will include soldiers-and-surplus votes.

    The other political note from to take down is the landslide victory for Israel's political right bloc that has skyrocketed from 50 to 64 seats and maybe as many as 66 in tomorrow's final tally. That nearly 30 percent growth is a statement by the Israel public that Israel wants a Prime Minister -- in all likelihood Mr. Netanyahu -- who will protect Israel's vital interests such as defensible borders in the West Bank and a United Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty even if those positions do not endear him to the Palestinians, some in Europe, and the US State Department.

    The Israeli public's nod to the conservative Likud and the right of center bloc is an expression of the Israeli public's sense of confidence and national self respect that were severely undermined by the "concessions for terror" policies of the Sharon and Olmert governments.

    Based on what I am seeing, it is likely (by no means certain) that Benjamin Netanyahu will squeak in as Israel's Prime Minister. 

    He can only do so by gaining the support of Avigdor Lieberman's Beiteinu Party, which most people think of as being to the right of Likkud - but which Kadima is desperately trying to recruit also.  The Labor party, which came in #4 in these elections, is almost certain to align with Kadima.

    Personally, I'm rooting for Mr. Netanyahu.  He understands better than Livni, or her predecessor Ehud Olmert, that you cannot make peace with Palestinian Arabs by giving them things.  They take what you give and make war anyway.


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