Tag Archives: James Richardson

Jackson Pollack And Groucho Marx Comparisons Abound, Part II

Eric Lipton at NYT:

A House investigative panel has found “substantial reason to believe” that Representative Charles B. Rangel violated a range of ethics rules, dealing a serious blow to Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, in the twilight of his political career.

The finding means that the 80-year-old congressman must face a public trial before the House ethics committee, the first member to be forced to do so since 2002, when former Representative James A. Traficant Jr. was expelled from Congress after taking bribes.

The investigative panel did not disclose any details about the nature of the violations.

But two Democrats with knowledge of the investigation said the committee found evidence to support accusations that Mr. Rangel wrongly accepted four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and misused his office to preserve a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an oil executive who pledged a donation for an educational center being built in Mr. Rangel’s honor.

The committee also found evidence to support a charge that Mr. Rangel failed to report or pay taxes on rental income from his beachfront Dominican villa.

Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:

The last time such an open process was used was for former Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat who was expelled from the House in 2002 for taking bribes, racketeering, filing false tax returns and forcing aides to perform household chores on his Ohio farm and DC houseboat (which was, coincidentally, parked not far from Duke Cunningham’s houseboat). Traficant served seven years in prison and is now a radio host in Ohio. He recently filed papers to make an independent run for his old seat.

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay skipped such a step when his ethics investigation went right from the exploratory phase to admonishment — a first in ethics committee history.

Rangel first asked the committee two years ago to look into newspaper allegations that he’d failed to report income from a Caribbean rental, that he used Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a charity in his name and that he broke New York rent subsidy laws. The alleged tax lapses were particularly worrisome as the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee is Congress’s top tax writer. Politico reported that Rangel was seen arguing with ethics committee chair Zoe Lofgren shortly before today’s announcement was made. Zofgren had, reportedly, been encouraging Rangel to follow a DeLay route and skip the adjudicatory process. As of August 2009, Rangel had spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending his actions to the committee. If he’s found in violation of House rules the committee’s evidence could be turned over to prosecutors to pursue a criminal case

James Richardson at Redstate:

In the same way that Republican ethics violations loomed large in the 2006 midterm elections that saw the House of Representatives change hands, Rangel’s ethics misdeeds threaten to undermine Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to run the “most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in History.”

But for now, the specific nature of charges against Rangel remain unknown — and will likely remain as such until next Thursday when he makes his case to the ethics panel. In the meantime, a list–that is, unfortunately, in no way comprehensive–of the 80-year-old lawmaker’s ethics lapses:

  • Violating New York state and city zoning laws, Rep. Rangel rented in 2008 several rent-stabilized Harlem apartments and used one for a base of operations for his reelection effort.
  • Days later it was revealed Rangel had used congressional letterhead to solicit funds for his personal foundation, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
  • The following month, in August of 2008, the New York Post reported that Rangel had failed to disclose income from renting his beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort. In total, Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988. Rangel secured a seven-year fixed rate loan at 10.5 % for the property, but two years later the interest on the loan, which was awarded by a company for which the congressman was an early investor, was waived. Rangel paid $10,800 in back-taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the unreported rental income.
  • Rangel violated House rules and failed to report income to the IRS when he left his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years without registering the car. The car, without license plates and covered by a tarp, occupied a space for several years valued a $290 per month.
  • In November 2008, the Post’s muckrakers discovered that Rangel had improperly received a “homestead” tax exemption on a property he owned in Washington, D.C., while occupying his four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.
  • Rangel secured tax benefits for a company whose chief executive he was courting as a donor for his private foundation.
  • And most recently, a House panel admonished the scandal-plagued congressman for wrongly accepting reimbursements for two Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008.

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

Rangel’s lawyer tried to settle but was rebuffed. The man who writes the tax law you must follow

Gateway Pundit

Allah Pundit:

This is five months in the making, starting with his admonishment back in February over staff members having accepted free trips to the Caribbean and culminating a week later in his removal from Ways and Means — albeit supposedly only on a temporary basis. Anyone think he’ll be returning to the committee after this, even if he beats the rap?

The next step is a trial by subcommittee. Given that the most ethical Congress ever had a decidedly lackluster reputation on ethics until now, I wonder how much pressure for and against charging Rangel there is on the Democratic side. On the one hand, this is going to push ethics back on the campaign menu. On the other, if they beat up on Rangel, it makes them look forthright. Stand by for updates.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

While nothing short of a mobilized Allied army seems capable of forcing Rep. Charlie Rangel out of Congress, the House ethics committee will charge him with official ethics violations, essentially setting up a trial — the first in eight years.The violations have not been officially filed yet, so the specific violations they’re pursuing out of his career’s 10 billion worth aren’t fully clear. Probably related to this stuff, though, which people who’ve followed Rangel’s investigation are quite familiar with:

The committee had been investigating claims that Mr. Rangel improperly rented four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem at a price well below market value, despite rules forbidding House members from accepting gifts worth more than $50.

It also had been investigating allegations that he improperly used his office to provide legislative favors for an oil-drilling company that pledged a $1 million donation for an academic center named for Mr. Rangel and improperly failed to report taxable income received from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Maybe we’ll get something else, though? Something a little more blog-friendly? Sex, maybe?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic

Jesse Zwick at The Washington Independent

UPDATE #3: Steve Krakauer at Mediaite

Ed Morrissey


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We’ve Got Your Gaffes Right Here, Part #4

Real Clear Politics:

Joe Biden calls a custard store manager a “smartass” after he asks the Vice President to lower taxes.

Rick Moran:

Vice President Joe Biden stopped for some custard while campaigning for Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. When he asked the store manager how much, the unimpressed citizen told him it was free. “Just lower our taxes,” he said.

Biden’s response is the latest exhibit for why these arrogant philistines should be kicked out of government and prevented from holding any position of responsibility in our republic ever again:

“What do we owe you?” Biden is heard saying in footage captured by WISN-TV.
“Don’t worry, it’s on us,” the manager replied. “Lower our taxes and we’ll call it [the custard] even.”

“Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?” Biden said a few minutes later.

Biden had walked in to Kopp’s mistakenly asking for ice cream instead of custard.

The manager said later in an interview with WISN that he thought Biden didn’t seem happy initially about the taxes comment, but that the vice president later whispered that he was just kidding.

No doubt Biden was “just kidding” once he thought about how it would look calling a voter a smartass. It is equally clear that he meant it when he said it. The sense of entitlement and arrogant elitism shown by Biden is shared by his boss and most of the Democrats in Congress.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit

Jules Crittenden:

Sounds like we have nothing to despair over but despair itself. If it were coming from anyone but Vice-President “Who’s That,” I’d be more concerned. Then again, given his backseat driving role in the admin, maybe he knows what he’s talking about. From the mouths of geezers …

James Richardson at Redstate:

Some have already said the Kopps manager is to Joe Biden what Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher is to President Barack Obama, who gained national attention after he questioned the Democratic presidential candidate’s tax policies.

The Vice President was in town to campaign for Senator Russ Feingold, who polls show running even with Republican challenger Ron Johnson. At a Friday fundraiser, Biden told a crowd of donors “there’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession.”

No doubt Kopps’ manager has some suggestions for the administration.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

Everyone involved laughed it off, but a serious point lingered. A simple way to think about the Democratic Party is, you’re the human being, they’re the tapeworm. Yet they claim a weird sort of parasite’s moral superiority over you: if you point out that they have their hand in your pocket, you’re a “smartass.” The Democratic Party needs to be torn, root and branch, from our public life.

James Joyner:

Hinderaker has a lengthy analysis, much of which is unreadable because ad advertisement is wreaking havoc with the video’s placement, as to why lower taxes would help unemployment.

But something doesn’t compute here:   If the business owner wants his taxes lowered, why is he hosting a campaign event for Russ Feingold? His views on the matter are rather well established at this point.

Ann Althouse:

Bite me. When the powerful seek to work their will upon us and demand that we be nice about it, that’s the right response: Bite me. Even if he were the one being nice about it, we shouldn’t have to put up with it without complaint.

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What Up? Not Much, And You?


The RNC went through a redesign.

Ben Smith at Politico:

This is, a youngish Republican points out to me this morning, a bit of an unfortunate place for an empty page on the Republican National Committee’s nifty new website.

That would be the “Future Leaders” page.

Steve Benen:

So, did the RNC get its money’s worth with its newly-redesigned site? A few things jump out.

* The site includes a new two-page section on Republican “heroes.” It features quite a few historic African Americans — note to the RNC: you’re trying way too hard — including legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, who wasn’t actually a Republican.

* Steele has a blog on the site. It’s called “What Up.” The first sentence reads, “The Internet has been around a while, now.” Seriously, that’s exactly what it says.

* The site features a timeline of Republican Party “accomplishments,” dating back to 1860. The last entry is from 2004, and refers to directing federal funds to private religious schools in D.C., in a voucher program that’s failed in a variety of ways. The previous “accomplishment” was the launch of the Iraq war in 2003 (the piece also spells “Iraq” incorrectly). According to the RNC’s own new website, the Republican Party hasn’t had any accomplishments in the last five years.

* The RNC created a page for “future leaders” of the party. It’s literally blank.

* Steele’s first blog post asks readers, “Why are you are Republican? Think about that for a minute.”

That’s good advice, actually.

James Richardson at Redstate:

As Politico’s Ben Smith points out, the RNC’s “Future Leaders” page is curiously—or perhaps candidly—blank.

The Democratic National Committee gleefully noted the error to reporters this morning, echoing the “it’s funny because it’s true” criticisms voiced on Twitter today.

Suggesting the blank page is somehow emblematic of the GOP’s withering crop of leaders, one DNC spox told Talking Points Memo “there are no future leaders in the GOP. As the GOP continues to champion the same failed policies of the past, recycle the same failed leaders of the past like Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, and fails to get that the American people aren’t looking for a party that just says ‘NO’ to progress, we rate this claim ‘True. So, very true.’”

Hoping to recover from their early-morning fumble, the RNC updated the page to reflect Steele’s belief that ‘action begins with the individual, and that grassroots activism holds the key to future GOP success.’

“Who are the future leaders of the Republican Party? You are — you, the people who make America work,” the new site reads.

The page does not currently feature any prominent Republican elected official or activist, but says supporters may send an email to FutureLeaders@GOP.com to acknowledge “stand-out, Republican leaders who don’t get the acclaim they deserve.”

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

In 2008, Democrats took the lead in using online tools to generate campaign activity, but Republicans aren’t so un-savvy across the board: GOP lawmakers were the first to put Twitter to work during the 2008 energy debate, when they stayed in DC to occupy the House floor as everyone else had left for August, tweeting their dissent under the #dontgo hashtag.

New media was also part of Chairman Michael Steele’s promise as incoming chairman, so the new site could be something of a signature move for him. If there’s any doubt, watch what happens when you open the site for the first time: Steele actually walks out across the page and personally introduces the “forward-looking, open platform for the party of new ideas.”


The best aspect of the newly redesigned Republican Party website — aside from that amazing “What up?” thing — is the ability to refresh and refresh and refresh the homepage, for hours, to see all of the “GOP Faces” in circulation in the upper left corner, between the “G” and the “P,” where, what, a “Y” is supposed to go? But it’s just some random person’s head instead? Well your editors Jim and Juli have seen most or all of the “GOP Faces,” and analyzed them. Click the clicky to meet the members of what must be some secret “other” Republican Party in an alternate dimension, what with the youth and the diversity and the albino.

Meredith Jessup at Townhall:

As Jillian subtly points out, GOP chairman Michael Steele is not 13-years-old and, therefore, should not have a blog entitled “What Up?”

But along with the chairman’s new blog, a new GOP site has been unveiled as the party attempts to re-brand itself.  “Something is happening at GOP.com,” booms the voice of Steele as the page loads.  No joke: a digital Michael Steele struts across the computer monitor to explain the new website and how “that something new — is you!”  Sure this tiny Michael Steele and cheesy line is enough to make you roll your eyes, but it gets worse.  Much worse.

In fact, it gets downright embarrassing.

Playing into all the medias’ favorite stereotype, the RNC seems so desperate to avoid being labeled the party of “old, white men.” After sitting and clicking for a while, it becomes embarrassingly apparent how the RNC is seemingly desperate for female and minority voters.  Instead of showing pictures of all different kinds of people, the RNC has singled-out these people and, more specifically, their votes–a petty political maneuver and one of many reasons disillusioned Republicans are so fed up with the party in the first place.

“It’s the new GOP.com. It’s a forward-looking, open-platform for the party of new ideas. If you’re a Republican activist, this is your space,” Steele’s digital likeness says.  As a conservative with traditional conservative values, it’s clear the Republican institution did not learn any of the lessons from the last election and/or the rise of the modern-day tea party movement.  People aren’t showing up at town hall meetings of Democrats AND Republicans because they are looking for “new ideas”–they just want the “conservative party” to remember its conservative roots and shape new ideas today in the mold of our traditional values handed down to us by previous generations of Americans.

The “Republican Heroes” page includes seven African Americans, one Hispanic-American, four women and four white men.  I’m not exactly sure how baseball hall-of-famer Jackie Robinson is a Republican hero, or even if he was a Republican, but I think it’s disgraceful the GOP can’t come up with a list of AMERICANS who have shaped the party and the country; a list of people who succeeded in moving the country forward while holding onto tradition.

It’s absurd that the list of “heroes” at GOP.com does not include even a single one of our nation’s Founding Fathers.

Charles Johnson at LGF:

Someone please tell me that Michael Steele’s “blog” on the newly redesigned GOP website isn’t really named “What Up?

And even worse, the new website violates one of the cardinal rules of web design: web pages should never make sound without the visitor’s consent. The GOP home page has a little Javascript-animated Michael Steele who comes walking out and starts talking, like one of those incredibly annoying advertisements you see on cheesy websites.

It’s the political party with a website that’s not safe for work.

Christopher Orr at TNR:

In related news, Chairman Michael Steele has a blog on the site. It’s entitled, I kid you not, “What up?”, which is possibly the most painful attempt to sound hip I can imagine short of “What up, dog?” It’s certain to be an early morning stop for any blogger looking for material. I’d link to it but, in its avant garde way, the site is down.

Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic:

10. In a section devoted to “future leaders,” there were none.

9. In the subsequent rush to get up a “future leaders” page, they choose “you.”
8. The last GOP accomplishment cited on the accomplishment page was from 2004.
7. The what’s up page — hip! starts with this sentence: “”the internet has been around for a while now”
6. Administrator passwords were accidentally posted.
5. When the RNC hosted a kick-off conference call, the website was down.
4. The website cites Jackie Robinson as a GOP hero. Robinson wasn’t a GOPer, and he criticized the GOP on race.
3. The first question on the conference call was from an Hispanic Republican who asked why the GOP site didn’t have a Spanish-language page and noted that the White House had one.
2. Bragging about web redesigns is so 2004.
1. It’s not timed with the start of any major advocacy campaign — or political campaign. And it portrays itself as something it’s not: diverse and ready to embrace new ideas. That may be what the party leadership aspires to, but, at least when it comes to diversity, a few pictures of Hispanics and African Americans doesn’t make up for … well, the history of the party.

UPDATE: Will at The League

David Frum at New Majority

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