Speaking lies to power

In 1964, Robert F. Kennedy said the problem with power is that few people know how to use it responsibly. He asked the question: "How do we get powerful people to live for the public rather than off the public."

I suppose that question seeks to understand the nature of corruption. Whether it's the narcotics cop taking a bribe to let a drug dealer off, or a congressman using his clout to get a sweet deal on a piece of property he bought; greed is the motivation, and extortion, however subtle, is the method.

Because of the awesome power involved in enforcing the law, it takes a certain level of maturity to handle the authority that comes with wearing a gun and a badge in public, while keeping in mind at all times that you are a public servant. Sometimes it's the people who write the law that believe they are above it. Case in point, Democrat Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee (the group that writes the nation's tax code), failed to pay an unspecified amount in federal taxes during the past five years on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.


Mr. Rangel, the gravel-voiced New York resident and Washington lawmaker, bought the beachfront house 20 years ago, but never declared the $75,000 in rental income he has earned. Rangel, who is one of the loudest voices in Congress when it comes to supporting tax increases, never reported the income on his tax returns or on his Congressional financial disclosure forms.

So, here we have a guy occupying a seat in the cradle of power for 19 terms (and running for his twentieth), who evidently feels that paying taxes is for the little people. Rangel, who had been a staunch supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton for many years and did his best to cover for the former president when he had some problems with a White House intern, threw his considerable weight to Barack Obama when Hillary began losing ground in the primaries. Recently, when Rangel's tax cheating became public, he called his attorney, none other than Lanny Davis, another Clinton acolyte, to put the proper spin on his client's ethical insouciance.

Mr. Davis said Rangel didn't know that the Caribbean resort villa he purchased in 1988 was financed with a no-interest mortgage from the developer and has generated $75,000 in income that should have been reported. Oh, he didn't know about it? Well, that's okay then; let's just forget about it!

In fact, let's have this case set a precedent. That way, if the IRS ever knocks on your door and accuses you of not paying taxes on 75K; just tell them that you didn't know about it. That is, if you can speak while you're being dragged out of your home, feet first.

Rangel's troubles are a two-edged sword; either he's corrupt or he's incompetent. I'm sure he'd rather admit to the latter since it doesn't carry a prison term. Meanwhile, Bob Herbert, the liberal New York Times columnist (excuse my redundancy) doesn't write a word about this glaring exercise in hypocrisy. 
He's too busy writing about Governor Sarah Palin's answer to a "gotcha" question during the ABC interview with Charles Gibson. In prose that reeks of hysteria, Herbert writes: "The Bush doctrine, which flung open the doors to the catastrophe in Iraq, was such a fundamental aspect of the administration's foreign policy that it staggers the imagination that we could have someone no further than a whisper away from the White House who doesn't even know what it is."

Gimme a break! Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Charles Krauthammer said that neither Gibson nor Palin had it right, but at least she didn't pretend to know. Yet, the veteran newsman looked down his nose at her, peering over his glasses like a professor tutoring a student. "In doing so," said Krauthammer, "he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the phenom who presumes to play on their stage."

How sad that Gibson didn't want to know about Palin's record of fighting corruption at all levels of government; a fight that won her the governorship and the highest approval rating of any governor in the country. How sad that Herbert continues attacking a woman who has an unparalleled record of integrity, while he pretends not to notice the decaying stench of corruption that surrounds him.     


Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob.
In 1964, Robert F. Kennedy said the problem with power is that few people know how to use it responsibly. He asked the question: "How do we get powerful people to live for the public rather than off the public."

I suppose that question seeks to understand the nature of corruption. Whether it's the narcotics cop taking a bribe to let a drug dealer off, or a congressman using his clout to get a sweet deal on a piece of property he bought; greed is the motivation, and extortion, however subtle, is the method.

Because of the awesome power involved in enforcing the law, it takes a certain level of maturity to handle the authority that comes with wearing a gun and a badge in public, while keeping in mind at all times that you are a public servant. Sometimes it's the people who write the law that believe they are above it. Case in point, Democrat Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee (the group that writes the nation's tax code), failed to pay an unspecified amount in federal taxes during the past five years on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.


Mr. Rangel, the gravel-voiced New York resident and Washington lawmaker, bought the beachfront house 20 years ago, but never declared the $75,000 in rental income he has earned. Rangel, who is one of the loudest voices in Congress when it comes to supporting tax increases, never reported the income on his tax returns or on his Congressional financial disclosure forms.

So, here we have a guy occupying a seat in the cradle of power for 19 terms (and running for his twentieth), who evidently feels that paying taxes is for the little people. Rangel, who had been a staunch supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton for many years and did his best to cover for the former president when he had some problems with a White House intern, threw his considerable weight to Barack Obama when Hillary began losing ground in the primaries. Recently, when Rangel's tax cheating became public, he called his attorney, none other than Lanny Davis, another Clinton acolyte, to put the proper spin on his client's ethical insouciance.

Mr. Davis said Rangel didn't know that the Caribbean resort villa he purchased in 1988 was financed with a no-interest mortgage from the developer and has generated $75,000 in income that should have been reported. Oh, he didn't know about it? Well, that's okay then; let's just forget about it!

In fact, let's have this case set a precedent. That way, if the IRS ever knocks on your door and accuses you of not paying taxes on 75K; just tell them that you didn't know about it. That is, if you can speak while you're being dragged out of your home, feet first.

Rangel's troubles are a two-edged sword; either he's corrupt or he's incompetent. I'm sure he'd rather admit to the latter since it doesn't carry a prison term. Meanwhile, Bob Herbert, the liberal New York Times columnist (excuse my redundancy) doesn't write a word about this glaring exercise in hypocrisy. 
He's too busy writing about Governor Sarah Palin's answer to a "gotcha" question during the ABC interview with Charles Gibson. In prose that reeks of hysteria, Herbert writes: "The Bush doctrine, which flung open the doors to the catastrophe in Iraq, was such a fundamental aspect of the administration's foreign policy that it staggers the imagination that we could have someone no further than a whisper away from the White House who doesn't even know what it is."

Gimme a break! Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Charles Krauthammer said that neither Gibson nor Palin had it right, but at least she didn't pretend to know. Yet, the veteran newsman looked down his nose at her, peering over his glasses like a professor tutoring a student. "In doing so," said Krauthammer, "he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the phenom who presumes to play on their stage."

How sad that Gibson didn't want to know about Palin's record of fighting corruption at all levels of government; a fight that won her the governorship and the highest approval rating of any governor in the country. How sad that Herbert continues attacking a woman who has an unparalleled record of integrity, while he pretends not to notice the decaying stench of corruption that surrounds him.     


Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob.