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The charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y

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Republican Rep. John Carter introduced a resolution Wednesday, October 07, 2009, to strip Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., from his position as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rangel is at the center of a government ethics probe into whether he failed to pay taxes and disclose income on multiple properties.

Whereas the gentleman from New York, Charles B. Rangel, the fourth most senior Member of the House of Representatives, serves as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a position of considerable power and influence within the House of Representatives;

Whereas clause one of Rule XXIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives provides, “A Member, Delegate, Resident Commission, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”;

Whereas The New York Times reported on September 5, 2008, that, “Representative Charles B. Rangel has earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns, according to a lawyer for the congressman and documents from the resort.”;

Whereas in an article in the September 5, 2008 edition of The New York Times, his attorney confirmed that Representative Rangel’s annual congressional Financial Disclosure statements failed to disclose the rental income from his resort villa;

Whereas The New York Times reported on September 6, 2008 that, “Representative Charles B. Rangel paid no interest for more than a decade on a mortgage extended to him to buy a villa at a beachfront resort in the Dominican Republic, according to Mr. Rangel’s lawyer and records from the resort. The loan, which was extended to Mr. Rangel in 1988, was originally to be paid back over seven years at a rate of 10.5 percent. But within two years, interest on the loan was waived for Mr. Rangel.”;

Whereas clause 5(a)(2)(A) of House Rule 25 defines a gift as, “…a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value” and prohibits the acceptance of such gifts except in limited circumstances;

Whereas Representative Rangel’s acceptance of thousands of dollars in interest forgiveness is a violation of the House gift ban;

Whereas Representative Rangel’s failure to disclose the aforementioned gifts and income on his Personal Financial Disclosure Statements violates House rules and federal law;

Whereas Representative Rangel’s failure to report the aforementioned gifts and income on federal, state and local tax returns is a violation of the tax laws of those jurisdictions;

Whereas the Committee on Ways and Means, which Representative Rangel chairs, has jurisdiction over the United States Tax Code;

Whereas the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct first announced on July 31, 2008 that it was reviewing allegations of misconduct by Representative Rangel;

Whereas Roll Call newspaper reported on September 15, 2008 that, “The inconsistent reports are among myriad errors, discrepancies and unexplained entries on Rangel’s personal disclosure forms over the past eight years that make it almost impossible to get a clear picture of the Ways and Means chairman’s financial dealings.”;

Whereas the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced on September 24, 2008 that it had established an investigative subcommittee in the matter of Representative Rangel;

Whereas after the Ethics Committee probe was underway, The New York Times reported on November 24, 2008 that, “Congressional records and interviews show that Mr. Rangel was instrumental in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited Nabors Industries an oil drilling company last year, while at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million to the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y.”;

Whereas the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced on December 9, 2008 that it had expanded the jurisdiction of the aforementioned investigative subcommittee to examine the allegations related to Representative Rangel’s involvement with Nabors Industries;

Whereas since then, further serious allegations of improper and potentially illegal conduct by Representative Rangel have surfaced;

Whereas during the recently completed August district work period, Representative Rangel acknowledged his failure to publicly disclose at least half a million dollars in cash assets, tens of thousands of dollars in investment income, and his ownership of two pieces of property in New Jersey;

Whereas corrected financial disclosure statements filed by Representative Rangel on August 12, 2009 now reveal his net worth to be nearly twice as much as he had previously revealed;

Whereas The New York Times newspaper reported on August 26, 2009 that, “United States Representative Charles B. Rangel, whose personal finances and fund raising are the subject of two House ethics investigations, failed to report at least $500,000 in assets on his 2007 Congressional disclosure form, according to an amended report he filed this month. Among the dozen newly disclosed holdings revealed in the amended forms are a checking account at a federal credit union with a balance between $250,000 and $500,000; three vacant lots in Glassboro, N.J., valued at a total of $1,000 to $15,000; and stock in PepsiCo worth between $15,000 and $50,000.”;

Whereas Roll Call newspaper reported on August 25, 2009 that Representative Rangel’s corrected filings also revealed “at least $250,001 in a fund called ML Allianz Global Investors Consults Diversified Port III.”;

Whereas the aforementioned Roll Call story reported that “Rangel also originally misreported that his investments in 2007 netted him $6,511-$17,950 in dividends, capital gains and rental income. In his revised filing, that range jumped to between $29,220 and $81,200.”;

Whereas these most recent revelations by Representative Rangel have resulted in heightened national news media coverage of alleged impropriety and potentially criminal conduct by one of the most senior Members of the House;

Whereas an editorial in The Washington Times newspaper on September 1, 2009 noted, “Charlie Rangel is one lucky guy. The Democratic congressman from Harlem, N.Y., just discovered that his net wealth is twice what he thought. That’s a pretty good day at the office for a public servant. Mr. Rangel also realized that he made tens of thousands of dollars more than he reported in many different years over the past decade. This is the most recent string in a series of financial bonanzas for Mr. Rangel, who last year admitted he had forgotten about $75,000 in rental income on his Caribbean resort property.”;

Whereas the same editorial also noted, “The congressman has failed to pay property taxes on two lots in New Jersey, according to the New York Post. That’s not all. In order to avoid taxes and get lower mortgage rates, Mr. Rangel simultaneously claimed three ‘primary residences’.”;

Whereas an editorial in the September 17, 2009 edition of the New Haven Register stated, “The ethics and tax complaints keep piling up against U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel, who as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee controls writing of the nation’s tax laws. The New York Democrat may write those laws, but he apparently feels no obligation to obey them. The investigation appears to have a long way to go. The man who is in charge of writing the nation’s tax laws doesn’t pay his federal income or local property taxes. He has such a poor grasp of his own finances that he neglects to list half his assets on a disclosure form intended to keep members of Congress accountable and honest. We can already hear the defense of the next tax deadbeat called into court. If Charlie Rangel doesn’t have to pay his taxes, why should I?”;

Whereas, an article in The Washington Post on September 15, 2009 stated, “Rangel is now the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a man of immense importance in Washington. Nonetheless, he has been busy of late revising and amending the record, backing and filling, using buckets of Wite-Out as he discovers or remembers properties he has owned in New York, New Jersey, Florida, the Dominican Republic and God only knows where else. Rangel recently even discovered bank accounts that no one in the world, apparently including him, knew he had. One was with the Congressional Federal Credit Union; another was with Merrill Lynch – each valued between $250,000 and $500,000. He somehow neglected to mention these accounts on his congressional disclosure forms, which means, if you can believe it, that when he signed the forms, he did not notice that maybe $1 million was missing. Someone ought to check the lighting in his office.”;

Whereas the same article in The Washington Post stated, “There is something wrong with Charlie Rangel. Either he did not notice that he was worth about twice as much as he said he was – which is downright worrisome in a congressional leader – or he thinks he’s above the law, which is downright worrisome in a congressional leader.”;

Whereas it has been more than one year since an editorial in The New York Times on September 15, 2008 stated, “Mounting embarrassment for taxpayers and Congress makes it imperative that Representative Charles Rangel step aside as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee while his ethical problems are investigated.”;

Whereas at various times during the past twelve months Representative Rangel and Speaker Pelosi have made public statements asserting that the ongoing investigation of Representative Rangel by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct would soon be concluded;

Whereas the Committee has to date issued no public statements concerning any expected timeline for conducting or concluding its investigation of Representative Rangel;

Whereas major daily newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post , and The New York Post have called for Representative Rangel’s removal from his powerful position at least until the House Ethics Committee has completed its ongoing probes of allegations against him;

Whereas, Representative Rangel’s powerful position as chairman permits him to participate in high level decisions about critically important issues such as reform of the nation’s health care system;

Whereas an October 1, 2009 story in The New York Times stated, “Mr. Rangel is one of a small group of House leaders now meeting almost daily behind closed doors with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to distill from the three bills produced in separate committees the one package that will go to the House floor.;

Whereas an Associated Press story on September 20, 2009 stated, “The ethics committee’s investigation of Rangel is almost a year old. It’s as much a problem for House Democratic leaders as for Rangel himself. Later this year, when Rangel’s committee considers estate tax legislation that could expand into other matters, the headlines will be a version of this message: ‘Tax scofflaw presiding over tax changes.’”;

Whereas the New York Post newspaper reported on September 2, 2009 that, “A review of property records for the borough of Glassboro revealed at least six tax liens levied against Rangel’s property during the past 16 years. Just last year, two separate liens were levied against both properties owned by Rangel.”;

Whereas on May 24, 2006, then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited “high ethical standards” in a letter to former Representative William Jefferson asking that he resign his seat on the Committee on Ways and Means in light of ongoing investigations into alleged financial impropriety by Representative Jefferson;

Whereas Speaker Pelosi took the aforementioned action while Representative Jefferson was under investigation and the subject of considerable controversy in the news media, but prior to any indictment Whereas on May 24, 2006, then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited “high ethical standards” in a letter to former Representative William Jefferson asking that he resign his seat on the Committee on Ways and Means in light of ongoing investigations into alleged financial impropriety by Representative Jefferson;

Whereas in April of 2007, Republican Leader John Boehner successfully urged several Republican Members to relinquish their committee assignments after learning that each had become the subject of investigations into possible criminal activity; Whereas Leader Boehner took the aforementioned actions while the Members in question were under investigation and the subjects of widespread media controversy, but prior to any indictments;

Whereas in the wake of the most recent allegations against Representative Rangel various editorials and articles in major national newspapers criticizing Speaker Pelosi’s continued refusal to remove Representative Rangel as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means after promising she would preside over “the most ethical Congress in history” have held the House up to public ridicule; Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that upon adoption of this resolution and pending completion of the investigation into his affairs by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Representative Rangel is hereby removed as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means.”

Written by Ben

October 7, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Maybe the Dems should take a lesson from Hillary…

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… or maybe the Dems should just take a pill… er.. poll…. uh, pill. Aw, hell.

“I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic and we should stand up and say, ‘We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.’ “

I’d bet Hillary never thought her comments could apply very well to these Americans who are genuinely concerned for their well-being.

This concern is born from years of observing a government with an abismal track record of running Medicare, Medicaid, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the Postal Service, just to name a few.

Has anyone noticed these angry dissenters are not rolling over cars and torching them? Has anyone noticed the store fronts are not being vandalized? Has anyone noticed how old this group is? They’ve been around awhile. They understand how government works. They’ve had a taste of the broken Medicaid and Medicare system.

To be clear, what America is arguing about is less to do with getting a national health care plan and more to do with what’s in this ill-conceived version of a health care plan and the intrusion into our medical lives. … and deaths.

Let’s do this; let’s first get congress and federal employees off their private health care plans which are heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. They have a choice of 10 health care plans that provide access to a national network of doctors as well as several HMOs that serve each member’s home state. By contrast 85 percent of private companies offering health coverage provide their employees only one type of plan. Take it, or leave it.

Until we get congress to eat the same dog food they serve us, they will never empathize with the under-insured or those lacking insurance. They will never see the need to read the bills they pass for the rest of the country to live and die by while they enjoy their own enhanced health care package at our expense.

American tax payers spent $15-billion in 2008 to insure 8.5 million federal workers.

Then, instead of passing bills they never read, maybe we should get our elected officials to dig into the hospital system and investigate $20.00 aspirin tablets or $700.00 per day hospital bed costs.

In other words, let’s get government to clean up the crap they created, make it work as intended in the first place, learn from it, then come back and talk about incremental change which builds a sensible national health care plan Americans can live with.

Written by Ben

August 11, 2009 at 6:39 pm

How to unelect a Governor

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There is a tactic being applied designed to usurp the will of the people. It is both simple yet effective. It is the tactic of litigating an elected official out of office.

There is an independent investigator who has accused Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of violating state ethics laws. The interesting part is that he is a major donor to the Democratic Party as well as a partner in a law firm that represented Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Thomas Daniel was hired by the Alaska Personnel Board in late April to investigate several complaints against Palin, including one filed by an Alaska resident who claims the governor used her official position for personal gain by authorizing the creation of a trust to use as her legal defense fund.

Palin’s supporters say the governor, who will resign on Sunday, needs the legal fund because of a quirk in Alaska law that prevents state officials from defending the state’s chief executive against ethics allegations.

“The whole situation is nuts,” said John Coale, a prominent Washington attorney who helped set up the legal fund, which so far has accepted $500,000 in donations. “Alaska has an ethics law that is unsustainable.”

Coale also accused the personnel board of being “either vicious or idiotic” to hire Daniel, whose law firm is closely tied to the Democratic Party.

This should serve to make all of us livid, but it escapes most people.

What amazes me about the “Let’s Bash Palin” crowd is the attraction to the minutia and lack of ability to stop consuming the pablum and gaze upon the bigger picture.

It’s clear to me that the majority of voting Americans are easily tempted and fooled by slick speaking car salesmen only to discover that after they get into office they deliver us into ruin the likes of which this country has never seen.

Like Palin, Bush was vilified for the lack of oratory skills and his mannerisms. Compared to what we now have, I’d go for an honest speaking common American without charm and charisma in a heart-beat.

California dreamin’

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For this post, all I have are the abstract points, so bear with me on this one.

Flashback… 1960’s heck… late ’50’s … beatniks.. the precursor to the hippies of the ’60s…

Ok… California… Berkley, utopian-based belief systems, Peace, Love, Dove…. Free sex, free drugs, free Rock-n-Roll Free… get it? Free.

Radical thinking, communes, my campus-based subversion theory of professors and the continued infusion into society of corrupted leadership / captains of industry / media moguls / CNN .. are ya with me?

Now, let all of that simmer in the California sun for say 350 degrees for – oh – about 50 years.

Ok, that should be long enough… open the oven and *Wam*… let’s see what we have here. Oh, look! We’ve got Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters just to name a few of the better known crazies from California.

Reflect on the current condition of the state of California. … it’s printing IOU’s like there’s no tomorrow. (They’re probably right about that one.) Then reflect on who is pushing these insane, treasury-busting bills through congress so fast the ink from the printer is still wet. Why, it’s none other than Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

They’re not happy with ph*cking their own state; Oh, no. They have to ph*ck up the rest of the country, too.

I wanna invite California to secede from the nation. Like, right now.

Written by Ben

July 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Mind Games

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If we can accept the notion that all conservatives i.e. Republicans, are against abortion, can we accept the notion that all Catholics are liberals and Democrats?

Does the issue of abortion transcend political parties?

Written by Ben

July 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm

The famous meltdown began in what!!? 1977??

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Let the meltdown begin

The Community Reinvestment Act (or CRA, Pub.L. 95-128, title VIII, 91 Stat. 1147, 12 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq.) is a United States federal law designed to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Congress passed the Act in 1977 to reduce discriminatory credit practices against low-income neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining. The Act requires the appropriate federal financial supervisory agencies to encourage regulated financial institutions to meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered, consistent with safe and sound operation. To enforce the statute, federal regulatory agencies examine banking institutions for CRA compliance, and take this information into consideration when approving applications for new bank branches or for mergers or acquisitions.

Where did this bill get started?

The CRA was passed as a result of national pressure to address the deteriorating conditions of American cities particularly lower-income and minority neighborhoods. Community activists, such as Gale Cincotta of National People’s Action in Chicago, had led the national fight to pass, and later to enforce the Act.

Hmmm… community activist. Rings a faint bell.

And who signed this beautiful piece of legislation into law?

The original Act was passed by the 95th United States Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

A democrat. Who woulda thunk?

…and the effects?

Some economists, politicians and other commentators have charged that the CRA contributed in part to the 2008 financial crisis by encouraging banks to make unsafe loans. Others however, including the economists from the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, dispute this contention. The Federal Reserve and the FDIC holds that empirical research has not validated any relationship between the CRA and the 2008 financial crisis.

You can read the time line of events here.

Written by Ben

June 27, 2009 at 11:06 am

The (not so) mainstream media agrees Dems obstructed reform

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International Herald Tribune: “Democratic takeover of Congress was major victory for Fannie and Freddie … Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage finance giants, which have been recovering from accounting scandals, had faced the possibility of tight new oversight laws pushed largely by Republicans. But some powerful Democrats had resisted, preferring to promote the companies’ housing mission over tighter capital standards and portfolio limits. (International Herald Tribune, 11/8/06)

American Banker: “Democrats Oppose White House plan to strengthen Fannie and Freddie oversight.” In late summer Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. began an effort to reach an agreement in the Senate, where Democrats oppose a White House-favored provision that would force Fannie and Freddie Mac to slash their mortgage portfolios. (American Banker, 12/1/06)

Origination News: “Until recently, the administration and Sen. Shelby have pushed for limits on the size of the GSE portfolios, which Democrats opposed. Now it appears that Secretary Paulson will insist on language that would allow the new GSE regulator to use systemic risk considerations in determining proper size of the portfolios. But the Democrats see systemic risk as a code word for portfolio limits.” (Origination News, 12/1/06)

Written by Ben

March 22, 2009 at 1:52 pm