Archive for February 2009

The Council Has Spoken: Feb 27, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council:
Rhymes With Right - About The Chimp Cartoon

Noncouncil:
The Nose On Your face - Islamic Rage Boy Addresses Muslim TV Exec’s Recent Wife-Beheading

Full voting here.

Octomom: A Symbol of Obama’s America

Symbolism played an important part in the elevation of Barack Obama to the presidency. He became a blank canvas to his supporters for their hopes and dreams while evoking men who transcended the office of the presidency to become symbols in the past – Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. It’s ironic that a month into his presidency we find a symbol that accurately portrays what Obama’s America is becoming under his administration: mother of 14, Nadya Suleman.

Like many on the left, Suleman takes an ala carte view of parenthood. In this Politically Correct view no man is necessary. Suleman even went to the extreme by avoiding a relationship with a man who would sire and help raise her children.

Since Dan Quayle was pilloried by the Left for his comments regarding Candice Bergen’s portrayal of Murphy Brown’s single motherhood, liberals have railed against marriage for anyone who isn’t gay. This is partly due to feminist Marxist literature which views marriage as institutionalized slavery of women. While the value of marriage versus cohabitation may be debated (I argue here that the government has no role to play in marriage), this view against marriage has evolved into broader misandry that assumes children can be raised as well by women alone as by men and women together. Unfortunately statistics do not bear this view out. A University of Chicago study found that “living with a single mother or living in a cohabiting arrangement is associated with poorer child development outcomes relative to living in married mother arrangements.”

Feminists have vehemently argued that as a woman, Suleyman has an absolute right to control her own body. However this “right” is almost always invoked regarding  the aborting of children, not birthing an entire baseball team in one shot. But with rights also come responsibilities: I may have a right to bear arms, but I will be held responsible if I shoot and kill my neighbor’s dog. Suleman has avoided these responsibilities while choosing her “right” to bear children. The outcome of her “rights” – her children -  are borne by her mother and society.

In a similar way in Obama’s America the CEOs who ruined companies like AIG, Merril Lynch, and Lehman Brothers walk away with golden parachutes. Banks that speculated during boom times in derivatives and exotic mortgage instruments, raking in huge windfalls are now deemed “too big to fail” and taxpayers are left to pay for the cleanup. Homeowners who bought homes they couldn’t afford are bailed out by those who lived within their means and purchased smaller homes or rented. This rewarding of selfish concerns – “what she wants” vs “what is best for everyone differs little in spirit from the “greed is good” credo that drove Wall Street to bribe legislators like Chris Dodd and Charlie Rangel to remove the guard rails preventing it from driving off a cliff.

Even the most hard-hearted conservative will not let any of her 14 children starve – in a similar way that most politicians argue that they must rescue GM, Chrysler and other firms deemed “too big to fail.”There is no way to punish Suleman without harming her children, just as there is no way to punish the CEOs of bailed out firms without hurting innocent workers, businesses and creditors.

This creates a moral hazard. If the gov’t is going to take away the pain, what’s to stop anyone from avoiding risky behavior? But the gov’t can’t afford to bail everyone out. This transfer of wealth from the prudent to the irresponsible will eventually ruin the prudent since the appetite of the irresponsible is without limit.

The problem is that government help always rewards one group at the expense of another. Suleman gets money from the state. This money doesn’t appear from a magician’s hat; it comes from the pockets of the childless or working parents.She gets a lip job with money taken from a working mother who could have used the extra cash to take the kids out to dinner, forcing her to cook after a long day at work. Suleman buys clothes for herself with tax money taken from a husband working two jobs to keep his own wife and kids in clothing. Suleman isn’t paying the medical bills for her latest brood – which are estimated to top $1 million - anyone hit by an $8 charge for a Tylenol at the hospital is the one paying.

Similarly the government bails out GM and Chrysler for making cars that 16 out of the 18 Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and assisting aides don’t drive themselves. They probably don’t drive them for the same reason I don’t: because they are overpriced and poorer quality than cars from companies headquartered abroad.

By assisting GM, Chrysler the government penalizes Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW- many of which own factories here and employ Americans. So the Americans working at the Honda plant in Lincoln Alabama will have to pay for the mistakes made by GM and Chrysler in Deerborne Michegan.

For the banks, the outcome is more dubious: nationalization. Both Bank of America and Citigroup are in danger of collapsing as investors pull their money out of them, fearful that Sen. Chris Dodd’s Friday remark on Bloomberg TV about their impending nationalization was coming to fruition.

But back to Suleman, her mother – who appears to be playing the role of responsible codependent for the excesses of her daughter – seems overwhelmed by the doubling of her burden. Suleman herself seems oblivious to her predicament and incapable of making the changes necessary in her lifestyle to make a decent home for her 14 children.

If we are asking ourselves whether Citibank and Bank of America can survive the financial crisis and thrive on their own, shouldn’t we ask the same of Suleman? If we do we come to a similar conclusion:

We must nationalize Suleman’s children.

Are her 14 children better off with her than with a dozen or more pairs of foster and adopted parents? DSS/Children’s Services makes these types of decisions everyday. While their track records aren’t perfect, they are the only instrument Society has at its disposal.

We cannot force Suleman to have a hysterectomy, but we can investigate the doctors who performed these procedures. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told NPR “I don’t know any case where some of the children were not severely disabled,” and said the procedures raised a slew of ethical questions.

Does this mean that the government needs to regulate in vitro fertilization? If the idiots who performed these procedures on Suleman ignore medical ethics, and the AMA does not strip away their licenses, then perhaps it must.

The Council Has Spoken: Feb 20, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council:
Joshuapundit - Obama’s Model – And No, It’s Not FDR

Noncouncil:
American Digest - A House Divided A Century and a Half Later: What Lincoln Would Say Were He Speaking Today

Full voting here.

The Kid’s First School Dance

I am so not ready for this, but ready or not here it comes…

Or Maybe It’s Because You Own a Wild Animal

I supported the study of a wild chimpanzee population in Tanzania for a full year in 1994-95. I lived in an isolated area where researchers (including Dr. Wife) daily followed a large group of wild chimps from the time they started stirring at dawn until the time they bedded down at dusk. I’ve even had the honor of meeting Jane Goodall a few times.

Chimpanzees belong one place and one place only: in the wild. They do not belong in zoos and they sure as hell do not belong in people’s homes. Therefore I don’t have much sympathy for these walking Darwin awards:

Police said they had no idea why the chimpanzee, named Travis, attacked the woman as she got out of her car to visit the animal’s owner, Sandra Herold. Conklin said Herold wrestled with the animal, then ran inside to call 911.

“She retrieved a large butcher knife and stabbed her longtime pet numerous times in an effort to save her friend, who was really being brutally attacked,” Conklin said….

“He’s been raised almost like a child by this family,” Conklin said Monday. “He rides in a car every day, he opens doors, he’s a very unique animal in that aspect. We have no indication of what provoked this behavior at all.”


Maybe the only indication you need is that you own a wild animal.

I can take a dog and treat it like a cat but it’s not going to ever purr. I can take a lion and treat it like a dog but I’ll never be able to trust it around the neighbor’s kids. I can even take one of my favorite handguns, the Beretta Px4 Storm, put it in the bathroom and brush my teeth with it – but that’s not going to turn it into a toothbrush. And if I accidentally shot myself after flossing it would strain the meaning of the term “accidentally.”

Chimpanzees are wild animals; you can treat them like children all you want and they will remain chimpanzees. They are also incredibly social animals. The only time they leave the group is when females leave their home group and emigrate to a new one. Their society is incredibly complex and their social lives are full. Travis is fifteen – a young adult chimpanzee who is completely alone and cut off from his own kind.  Unfortunately for wild chimps, once they are taken from the wild they can never go back.

Now I hope the mauled woman recovers from her injuries, and I hope that Travis the chimp can find a chimp sanctuary. But when will people stop poaching these animals from the wild and making them pets?

UPDATE: Travis was shot dead by police. He’s probably better off.

The Opinions of Actors

Janeane Garofalo said something disparaging about Republicans and conservatives.

(yawn)

What, this is supposed to surprise me? Garofalo is so liberal she makes Rosie O’Donnell look like Ann Coulter after a few dozen whopper value meals. What amazes me is that it’s news.

I’ve hung around many different types of people in my time, and I have to say that actors have to be one of the most f’d up groups I’ve been around. They are so screwed up they make musicians and graphic artists look sane.

What are actors? Actors speak words written by someone else and are told by another how to do it. They don’t think for themselves. That’s what the script is for. They don’t act on their own; that’s the director’s job unless they’ve achieved such superstardom that no director can control them.  They don’t choose how they look or what they wear (costuming and makeup). They aren’t even necessary; half the movies that come out nowadays are computer animated and most of those are better than the ones with live action.

Actors are children – as Christian Bale’s recent meltdown showed. They have a very limited understanding of the world around them, and extremely limited control over that world – just like children. But children have an excuse to be stupid; they are young and inexperienced. Actors are not.

So why should we care about their political opinions?

If Garofalo wants to argue that Wallace Shawn is a better actor than Tom Cruise, then since she’s an actress I’d accept her opinion as better educated than mine. Heck, I’d even agree with her on this particular point.

But all her blah blah blah about Republicans and conservatives is just so much noise and honestly, I don’t give a healthy crap what she thinks of us or not.

Conversation with a Marine

One of my commenters is having problems posting, so he emailed his thoughts instead. Here’s our conversation so far..

The Marine:
> Individual Responsibility, Individual Liberty, Smaller, Limited Government-
>

> After 20 years in The US Marines- where personal freedom and self
> expression were voluntarily limited in order to serve the greater
> good…
>

> I got my hopes up- then looked out to see Federal raids on state
> sanctioned medical marijuana operations, the Federal Defense of
> Marriage Act, The REAL ID Act of 2005, The National Minimum Drinking
> Age Act of 1984 (there has been time to fix it), Concealed carry
> permits that become void when one crosses from their home state onto
> National Park lands (recent rule change?), Federal Suspicionless
> Checkpoints, etc.
>

Me:
I can’t argue against your points because honestly I’m beginning to feel the same way myself. I always believed that we’d lose our freedom to a demagogue from the right – no doubt a belief that I picked up during my college days. However over the past year it’s clear to me that such a threat is really coming from the Left and the federal governmental bureaucracy that it helped build.

It’s also becoming increasingly clear that the needs of the people and the needs of the government have diverged and the former is being forced to compromise to meet the latter. Truth is it’s our own damn fault. We have a bunch of selfish children who look up to the government to like a parent. The government that is increasingly taking over our lives is the surrogate parent that people want so that they can continue to live their lives irresponsibly and act like children.

Gamble on the housing market and lose? Get the government to kiss it and make it feel better. Losing a decent job? Get the government to save it for you instead of improving your skill set to get another one. Can’t afford to buy a house? Get the government to force the evil banks to guarantee your loan.

Kennedy once said “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Obama and his Leftist buddies say “We’re the government. We’ll kiss your boo-boos and make them better. Just keep us in power.” JFK would no doubt be insulted to see what his vision and his party has turned into.

The Marine:

>So, when is it that we get to take delivery on these freedoms The Troops are fighting to protect and defend?

Me:
Unfortunately only after we, the people, demand them. But so far we are happier to trade them in for surrogate parents. The government takes away our responsibility for our own actions because we expect them to. Unfortunately one cannot be free without being responsible, so we lose our freedom.

But it’s not really a loss. You cannot lose something that you’ve willfully discarded. We, the people, have thrown our freedom away.

If the men who died on Iwo Jima and Okinawa could see today what they sacrificed for, they no doubt would shake their heads in disbelief. We no longer deserve their sacrifice – nor those of the fallen at Khe Sahn, Gettysburg, Ardennes and Inchon.

The Marine:
>Thanks for that- not ready to give up. Click here see a local protest this weekend.
>Why was I there? I object to internal, suspicionless checkpoints. We should not expect to >stop and answer the questions of federal agents if we are not crossing a border.

Yet Another Dead Cop in Philly…

Something is seriously f***ed in this town…

Philadelphia Police Officer Shot, Killed

The Council Has Spoken: Feb 13, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

 Council:
Joshuapundit - “60 Minutes” Libels Jews And Israel

Noncouncil:
Chesler Chronicles at Pajamas Media
- Conventional versus Non-Conventional Warfare and Why Israel Did Not Lose in Gaza

Full voting.

It’s the Hypocrisy Stupid…

Caroline Baum at Bloomberg imagines a reversal of the recent show trials held by Congress…

Just imagine if the tables were reversed. (Barney) Frank and (Maxine) Waters are seated at the witness table instead of perched on the hearing room dais. The questioning would go something like this:

Chairman Frank, on July 14, 2008, you made the following pronouncements about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two huge government-sponsored enterprises that are the key players in mortgage finance:

“Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound.”

“They are not in danger of going under.”

“Looking at the financials, they’re solid.”

You followed that analysis with a forecast. Referring to legislation before your committee to allow the Treasury to lend to and buy unlimited shares in the GSEs, you said: “We’re doing three separate things that make it much less likely—very, very unlikely—that we’ll have this kind of a housing crisis six months or a year from now.”

Less than two months later, Fannie and Freddie were wards of the state.


Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) isn’t spared:
“We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines,” she said.

She went on.

“What we need to do today is to focus on the regulator, and this must be done in a manner so as not to impede their affordable housing mission.” That mission, as you noted, has seen “innovation flourish from desk-top underwriting to 100 percent loans.”

We all know how that worked out. Fannie had to restate earnings back to 2001, erasing $6.3 billion in previously reported profits.


Congress thinks Americans are stupid. It’s no different from con men who think they are smarter than their marks, or thugs who believe they can outwit the cops. While they may roll a mark or escape the police once or twice, their own inherent stupidity combined with their inflated egos inevitably lead to their downfall.

So far Frank, Waters, Dodd and the rest of the corrupt Democrats have gotten away with avoiding blame for the economic mess we are in. But “so far” never stretches to “forever,” and the worse things get the more likely Baum’s dream of putting these idiots in the dock will come true.

Circuit City “Sale” – or Lack Thereof…

I wrote the following exactly 2 weeks ago about a visit to my local Circuit City “Going Out of Business” sale:

LCD and Plasmas are 20% off MSRP which places them at a little better
than the price you will find them at Best Buy. I was surprised to find
that most models were still in stock. I guess people aren’t as gullible as
I thought when it comes to these sales.

A good example: Samsung LCD LN52A550 was down to $1599 – same exact model
on Amazon (with free shipping): $1489.98. Best Buy: $1899.

Biggest problem I noticed was the lack of product information. All the
spec sheets have been removed and replaced with a simple price sign. Since
the 720p and 1080p are mixed together, as are the LCDs and plasmas, one
has to ask a very dejected looking employee (is it really that bad to lose
a minimum wage job?) about the unit specs. That makes it much harder for
the unprepared to buy.

PS3 games are 20% off which is okay I suppose, although again Amazon
offers them for less. As for the rest of the rest of the store I didn’t
see much out of stock except for a few car stereos. In fact if it wasn’t
for the signage it would be hard to guess that the store was going out of
business. The prices sure don’t reflect that fact.


Last night I stopped by to see whether anything had changed and here’s what I found.

First, I was surprised to see the entire back wall still covered with plasma and LCD TVs. It wasn’t much of a surprise when I noticed that prices hadn’t budged on the units; signs still showed 20% off msrp. I’m now eyeing the Samsung LN52A650. CC price? $2,150. This compares favorably to Best Buy $2,499 but is still way over the Amazon.com delivered to your living room price of $1,846.

Next I noticed that most of the car audio units were gone – no doubt helped out by relatively beefy discounts of 40%. Still there were some higher end Pioneers in stock. All the PS3 games were gone (no doubt sold to a wholesaler), and the shelves of PC software were still loaded beneath a sign that said 30% off.

Finally computer accessories remained well stocked – no doubt due to the fact that I didn’t see any bargains to be had, especially when compared to Staples or Newegg.

In summary it seems that firm liquidating Circuit City’s inventory isn’t in a hurry to lower prices. Given that it’s the same outfit that handled the CompUSA liquidation that got top dollar from uninformed consumers- as they have every right to do BTW - I doubt I will be buying my LN52A650 from them.

Liberals and Terrorists

Oh, during last night’s presidential press conference did anyone catch Helen Thomas’s use of the term “supposed terrorists” to describe al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan? I’m not sure what one would have to do to qualify for the label in her book on the very day they release another snuff video.

Spending Bill: $200,000 per Job

On Monday night I tuned to PBS and found the President speaking to reporters at the White House.  The President pre-empted Antiques Roadshow (it’s hard for me to imagine PBS doing that for Bush) as well as other 8 o’clock EST network and cable news fare to campaign for the spending bill currently awaiting reconciliation between House and Senate versions. During the news conference I counted three his stating three times that he inherited the national debt, along with the occasional “8 years of failed policies” to imply that the whole economic mess was former president George W. Bush’s fault.

He did not mention that according to the Constitution Congress is responsible for spending. In the 1998 Supreme Court decision Clinton vs. City of New York the Court ruled that the  Line Item Veto Act of 1996 gave the Executive branch powers reserved by the Constitution for the Legislative. Considering that Congress the House went to Democratic control in 2004 followed by the Senate two years later, I have yet to see Obama blame Congress for the mess that he’s inherited – or the media point this fact out. I suppose it’s easier to continue blaming Bush for America’s problems.

President Obama spent much of the time before questions arguing for a “stimulus package” that would “save or create 4,000,000 jobs.” In answer to a question from the press he stated that he will judge the success of the “stimulus” on whether it creates or saves 4,000,000 jobs. He repeated that figure at least four times during the press conference.

There are several problems with using the figure of 4,000,000 jobs as the sole criteria to judge the success or failure of a trillion dollar program. First and foremost, it’s relatively easy to determine when new jobs are created or lost but how does one determine whether a job is saved? Payroll firms like ADP release figures about added or lost jobs which are then compared and reconciled with Labor Department statistics to come up with a relatively accurate portrait of the labor market.  But “saved jobs”? This strikes me as a bit of smoke and mirrors politics brought over from Illinois whereby the President can say in four years that he saved 4,000,000 jobs even if the economy craters and 8,000,000 jobs are lost.*

Second, the president made no mention of the quality of those jobs. Would the saving or creation of 4,000,000 part time jobs qualify the trillion dollar spending package as a success – or should the jobs created be high quality jobs with full benefits?The Senate version of the “stimulus package” is around  $800,000,000,000. Dividing that figure by 4,000,000 means that Obama is willing to spend $200,000 per job.

Third, according to liberal Paul Krugman even George W. Bush created 5,000,000 jobs after 6 years in office. President Clinton managed the same feat in a year and a half. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 154,000,000 jobs in the US at the end of January 2009 and 11,600,000 unemployed. Divide the latter by the former and you get 7.6% - the current unemployment rate. Boosting the employed ranks by 4 million to 158,000,000 lowers the number of unemployed to 7,600,000 -  an unemployment rate of 4.8%.

That is a pretty low bar to measure success by. The unemployment rate was at 4.8% as recently as a year ago.
US Unemployment Rate 1948-2009 w/2009 detail
Source: data360.org, BLS - Note: interactive chart here.

The question is: is it worth boosting the federal national debt by 7.5% (from $10.7 trillion to $11.5 trillion) to lower the unemployment rate from 7.6% to 4.8%? At $200,000 per job I would have to say no – and that’s even if the money that Congress proposes to spend actually has the intended effect. If we are going to saddle future generations with even more debt, it’s important that the dollars we spend today do more than lower the unemployment rate by 2.8%.

*UPDATE: Greg Mankiw noticed the “create or save” semantics too.

The expression “create or save,” which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius. You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus.

It’s Raining – Michael Yon letter to Glenn Reynolds

Michael Yon proves once again why he is one of the greatest journalists around in this letter to Glenn Reynolds.

In Sderot, Allison and I had the pleasure of having lunch with Noam Bedein, the Director of the Sderot Information Center, a privately funded organization. According to the “Kassam counter” on http://www.sderotmedia.com/, as of February 1, 10,046 Kassam rockets have hit Sderot and the Western Negev since 2001. During a single two-week period, 293 rockets rained in on Sderot. According to a pamphlet from the Sderot Information Center, a kindergarten teacher asked her pupils, “Why does the snail have a shell?” The Children answered in chorus, “So it can be protected from the Kassam rockets.”

Musings over Forms and Schedules

For the past month I have been gathering receipts and tax forms so that I can file our  taxes. Since I am technically self-employed this can be quite complicated and requires the expertise of an accountant to be done correctly. Every month there are several different taxes due, and I spend roughly three hours a month preparing and filing them. Every quarter requires yet more tax payments as well as the submission of various forms to state and federal authorities. Even with an accountant’s help I spend another two hours preparing and sending these off. Every year begins the same way – with the organizing, calculating and filing of several annual returns. I’ll spend sixty hours or more on these – and that’s with an accountant’s help. All this paper work is made more tedious every year by changing tax rates, fees, and reporting requirements.

But the penalties of failure are clear and severe. Once I filed my monthly payroll taxes two days late and the IRS sent a warning stating that in the future such late payments would incur a 2% penalty. I haven’t been late since. Some people fear al-Qaeda. Others fear criminals or gangs. As a libertarian at heart I fear the government because I know that while the Marines can fight al-Qaeda, and well-armed citizens can protect themselves against thugs, fighting the government is futile for the average American citizen.

To call the complexity of the tax system byzantine is an insult to Byzantium. After all that empire lasted over a thousand years before crumbling under the weight of its own corruption. The IRS has been around in its modern form for only ninety. The complexity of the tax code is estimated to cost average American families over $20,000 a year. According to the National Federation of Independent Business complying with federal, state and local tax codes is one of the five leading problems small businesses face in our economy. It wastes money, slows new job creation and business growth, and opens up individuals and small business to prosecution in a legal system where one is guilty until proven innocent.

But the vast majority of Americans and businesses do their best to comply with the tax system no matter how bad it gets – a system that is designed, maintained and controlled by their elected officials. What is quickly becoming clear in the early weeks of the Obama administration is that this tax system does not apply to these officials.

On February 3, Nancy Killefer withdrew her name from consideration for the newly minted post of “Chief Performance Officer” due to her failure to pay $950 on a year and a half’s worth of payroll taxes for household help. In Killefer’s defense the IRS did place a lien against her residence, but it took her five months to pay up after the lien was filed. I guess I’m a bit of a wuss because the very idea of an IRS lien against my home scares me down to my socks, let alone having one outstanding for 5 months.

Before announcing his withdrawal from the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services, former senator Tom Daschle “forgot” to pay $100,000 taxes on a luxury car and chauffeur provided to him by a friend as well as $80,000 in earnings as a consultant. Those taxes alone are more than anyone I know makes in a year, yet these same people dutifully file their taxes, waste thousands of dollars and time on accountants on paperwork to abide by a tax code that Tom Daschle himself helped craft. “Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter,” Sen. Tom Daschle is quoted as saying in the Congressional Record. If this keeps up the country is going to need a “Chief Hypocrisy Officer”. 

At least Daschle had the wisdom to bow out before he was confirmed. The same cannot be said for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Geithner now heads the very organization that he defrauded over five years from 2001-2006. Geithner’s problems begin after he took a job with the IMF and signed a document stating that he recognized that Social Security and Medicare taxes – the very taxes that I have to pay on time every month – were not being deducted from his wages. He then didn’t pay these taxes until he was audited by the IRS. He also deducted summer camp as a child care expense, withdrew money early from a federal retirement account without incurring a 10% penalty, failed to verify the citizenship status of his employees (Do you know what an I-9 is? Evidently Geithner doesn’t.) and filed their social security and medicare payroll taxes late. At least he’s had some “experience” of the agency he now heads.

Then there is Charlie Rangel (D-NY). Rangel heads the Ways and Means Committee that writes our nation’s tax code, but just because he writes it doesn’t mean he lives by it. Since 1988 Rangel has failed to declare $78,000 in income from a rental property he owns in Punta Cana. I don’t even know where Punta Cana is but I’m sure it’s someplace warm and expensive. He also has used four rent stabilized apartments from a developer in violation of New York statutes which demand that such apartments be used solely as a primary residence. Yet Rangel’s position in the Democratic-controlled Congress is assured.

Have we become in the words of Pejman Yousefzadeh a “Government of Helmsleys” – referring to the modern day Marie Antoinette Leona Helmsley? One would think given the lax treatment our leaders have received by their colleagues and the agencies they control. At the very least our republic has devolved into the farce portrayed by George Orwell in Animal Farm where all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.