Saturday, November 29, 2008


A couple decided to go out to eat at a Chinese restaurant. After looking over the menu, they both decided to have Chicken Surprise, the chef's special.

The waiter brought their meal in a lidded pot. As the wife reached for the lid, it rose a few inches. She could see two beady eyes looking out before the lid slammed down. Startled, she asked her husband if he had seen the eyes. Just then, the lid rose again, revealing the two eyes before slamming down again.

Perturbed, the couple called over the waiter and explained the situation. "I apologize," he said, "I mistakenly brought you the Peeking Duck."
Cards for Wounded Soldiers

Particularly at this time of year, our hearts open to the less fortunate among us. Let's not forget our wounded heroes, the men and women who have been wounded while protecting our lives and our freedoms. It's easy to say they knew this possibility came with the job, but it's not something they expected to happen. Some of these people, for one reason or another, won't receive Christmas mail unless you send it.

There is an email going around that also asks for mail to be sent to a Recovering American Hero, but it has the wrong address. Mail sent to the address in the email will not be delivered.

When you're addressing your Christmas cards this year, can you please address at least one extra to A Recovering American Soldier at Walter Reed Hospital? The address is:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20794-5456

I've long believed that Americans are the most generous people on the face of the Earth when they know a need exists. Please prove me right.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008 7:48 PM

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the far-reaching ethics investigation into Rep. Charles Rangel will conclude by early next year.

Pelosi issued a statement late Wednesday saying she has been assured the report by the House ethics committee will be completed before this session of Congress ends on Jan. 3.

"I look forward to reviewing the report at that time," said Pelosi, who has resisted calls from Republicans to remove Rangel from his powerful position atop the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee.

Her announcement puts a ticking clock on an investigation that could have dragged on for many more months, considering how many issues surrounding the personal finances and ethics of the long-serving lawmaker have now been brought before the committee.

Rangel is under scrutiny for not paying taxes on income from a Dominican Republic beach house he owns. The ethics panel is also looking at his living arrangements in New York City for three rent-stabilized apartments, as well as his effort to drum up donors for a college center named in his honor.

Fundraising for the Rangel Center was the subject of new reports this week that a businessman pledged $1 million to the effort while seeking Rangel's help in blocking a change in tax laws that would have cost his company millions more.

The lawmaker, who has been in Congress for nearly 40 years, denied any improprieties in seeking to protect the company's offshore tax shelter, saying: "At no time — ever — did I entertain, promote, or secure a tax break or any special favor for anyone as an inducement or reward for a contribution" to the Rangel Center.

He has also denied anything untoward in his use of the New York apartments.

As for his personal tax issues, Rangel has paid more than $10,000 owed in back taxes, but insisted he never intentionally dodged any taxes.

Obama a Descendent of the Original Pilgrims?
History Lesson on Thanksgiving
By Matthew A. Givens

Thanksgiving is approaching once again, and with it come visions of children's plays with Indians and Pilgrims, complete with little Pilgrim hats made of construction paper. The story told in these plays and learned by public school students at every grade level is a simple one.

The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock late in 1620. The first winter was harsh, but the colonists worked hard and applied themselves industriously to their own survival. They had help from the local Indian tribes, who helped them learn how to survive. The result was a plentiful harvest in fall 1621, not to mention the first celebration of Thanksgiving.

It's a wonderful story. There's only one problem with it: It isn't true.

It contains elements of truth. For example, the first winter was harsh, and the local Indian tribes did help the colonists learn how to survive, what to plant and how to prepare the food. But the 1621 harvest was not bountiful. In fact, famine haunted the fledgling colony.

When the colonists first landed, they signed something called the Mayflower Compact. Most of us have heard this document praised as an early social contract helping different people to live together. What most of us never learned was that it was also an experiment in socialism.

The Mayflower Compact required that "all profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing or any other means" were placed in the common stock of the colony. Further, it required that "all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel and all provisions out of this common stock." People were required to put into the common stock everything they could, and take out only what they needed.

William Bradford, governor of the colony at the time, wrote History of Plymouth Plantation. In it, he wrote that "young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children." Since "the strong, or man of parts, had no more division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak," the strong men simply refused to work, and the amount of food produced was never adequate.

In fact, the colony went hungry for years as strong men refused to work hard, and theft of crops still in the ground ran rampant. Bradford wrote that the colony was riddled with "corruption and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

The harvests of 1621 and 1622 were adequate enough so that "all had their hungry bellies filled," but that did not last. Deaths from malnutrition continued into the next year.

But in 1623, something changed. Bradford reported, "Instead of famine now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God." By 1624, the colony was producing so much food that it began exporting corn.

What caused this change?

After the poor harvest of 1622, the colony brainstormed for a way to raise more corn and obtain a better crop. The solution, like the Thanksgiving story told today, was simple. In 1623, Bradford "gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit."

The socialistic experiment that had failed them was abandoned and replaced with capitalism. That turned the colonists away from failure and forward into success and growth. And this move away from socialism, along with the resulting prosperity, is what we truly celebrate today. It is easy to see why I call Thanksgiving the first Libertarian holiday.

Thanksgiving, far from being the simple and uninspiring story of a group of people learning how to farm, is actually a celebration of what has made America itself great. It is the story of people working together by working for themselves first, and in so doing, improving the standard of living for everyone. These are the American ideas we hold dear.

As you sit down to your table laden with turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, remember the true story of Thanksgiving, and what it means to all.

* * *

Mr. Givens is a resident of Montgomery and former vice chairman of the Libertarian Party of Alabama
Terrorists' Restless Leg Syndrome
by Ann Coulter 
Posted 11/26/2008 ET
Updated 11/26/2008 ET

I thought the rest of the world was going to love us if we elected B. Hussein Obama! Somebody better tell the Indian Muslims. As everyone but President-elect B. Hussein Obama's base knows, many of the Guantanamo detainees cannot be sent to their home countries, cannot be released and cannot be tried. They need to be held in some form of extra-legal limbo the rest of their lives, sort of like Phil Spector.

And now they're Obama's problem.

If Obama wants his detention of Islamic terrorists to be dramatically different from Bush's Guantanamo, my suggestion is that he cut off -- so to speak -- the expensive prosthetic limb procedures now being granted the detained terrorists.

Far from being sodomized and tortured by U.S. forces -- as Obama's base has wailed for the past seven years -- the innocent scholars and philanthropists being held at Guantanamo have been given expensive, high-tech medical procedures at taxpayer expense. If we're not careful, multitudes of Muslims will be going to fight Americans in Afghanistan just so they can go to Guantanamo and get proper treatment for attention deficit disorder and erectile dysfunction.

After being captured fighting with Taliban forces against Americans in 2001, Abdullah Massoud was sent to Guantanamo, where the one-legged terrorist was fitted with a special prosthetic leg, at a cost of $50,000-$75,000 to the U.S. taxpayer. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, Massoud would now be able to park his car bomb in a handicapped parking space!

No, you didn't read that wrong, because the VA won't pay for your new glasses. I said $75,000. I would have gone with hanging at sunrise, but what do I know?

Upon his release in March 2004, Massoud hippity-hopped back to Afghanistan and quickly resumed his war against the U.S. Aided by his new artificial leg, just months later, in October 2004, Massoud masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan working on the Gomal Zam Dam project.

This proved, to me at least, that people with disabilities can do anything they put their minds to. Way to go, you plucky extremist!

Massoud said he had nothing against the Chinese but wanted to embarrass Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for cooperating with the Americans. You know, the Americans who had just footed -- you should pardon the expression -- a $75,000 bill for his prosthetic leg.

Pakistani forces stormed Massoud's hideout, killing all the kidnappers, including Massoud. Only one of the Chinese engineers was rescued alive.

As a result of the kidnapping, the Chinese pulled all 100 engineers and dam workers out of Pakistan, and work on the dam ceased. This was bad news for the people of Pakistan -- but good news for the endangered Pakistani snail darter!

In none of the news accounts I read of Massoud's return to jihad after his release from Guantanamo is there any mention of the fact that his prosthetic leg was acquired in Guantanamo, courtesy of American taxpayers after he was captured trying to kill Americans on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

News about the prosthetic leg might interfere with stories of the innocent aid workers being held captive at Guantanamo in George Bush's AmeriKKKa.

To the contrary, although Massoud's swashbuckling reputation as a jihadist with a prosthetic leg appears in many news items, where he got that leg is almost purposely hidden -- even lied about.

"Abdullah Massoud ... had earned both sympathy and reverence for his time in Guantanamo Bay. ... Upon his release, he made it home to Waziristan and resumed his war against the U.S. With his long hair, his prosthetic limb and impassioned speeches, he quickly became a charismatic inspiration to Waziristan's youth." -- The New York Times

He's not a one-legged terrorist -- he's a freedom fighter living with a disability. I think we could all learn something about courage from this man.

"He lost his leg in a landmine explosion a few days before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in September 1996. It didn't dampen his enthusiasm as a fighter and he got himself an artificial leg later, says Yusufzai." -- The Indo-Asian News Service

Where? At COSTCO?

"The 29-year-old Massoud, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion while fighting alongside the Taliban, often used to ride a horse or camel because his disability made it painful for him to walk long distances in hilly areas." -- BBC Monitoring South Asia

Side-saddle, I'm guessing. And you just know those caves along the Afghan-Pakistan border aren't wheelchair accessible.

"He was educated in Peshawar and was treated in Karachi after his left leg was blown up in a landmine explosion in the Wreshmin Tangi gorge near Kabul in September 1996. He now walks with an artificial leg specifically made for him in Karachi." -- Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)

Karachi? Hey, how do I get into this guy's HMO?

They can't lick leprosy in Karachi, but the Gulf News tells us Massoud got his artificial leg at one of their specialty hospitals.

Anyone who thinks the Guantanamo detainees can be released without consequence doesn't have a leg to stand on.
A British Perspective
by Peter Hitchens
The London Daily Mail
8 Nov 08

The night we waved goodbye to America... our last best hope on Earth. Anyone would think we had just elected a hip, skinny and youthful replacement for God, with a plan to modernise Heaven and Hell-or that at the very least John Lennon had come back from the dead.

The swooning frenzy over the choice of Barack Obama as President of the United States must be one of the most absurd waves of self-deception and swirling fantasy ever to sweep through an advanced civilisation. At least Mandela-worship-its nearest equivalent-is focused on a man who actually did something.

I really don't see how the Obama devotees can ever in future mock the Moonies, the Scientologists or people who claim to have been abducted in flying saucers. This is a cult like the one which grew up around Princess Diana, bereft of reason and hostile to facts.

The night America changed Barack and Michelle Obama in Chicago. It already has all the signs of such a thing. the newspapers which recorded Obama's victory have become valuable relics. You may buy Obama picture books and Obama calendars and if there isn't yet a children's picture version of his story, there soon will be.

Proper books, recording his sordid associates, his cowardly voting record, his astonishingly militant commitment to unrestricted abortion and his blundering trip to Africa, are little-read and hard to find.

If you can believe that this undistinguished and conventionally Left-wing machine politician is a sort of secular saviour, then you can believe anything. He plainly doesn't believe it himself. His cliche-stuffed, PC clunker of an acceptance speech suffered badly from nerves. It was what you would expect from someone who knew he'd promised too much and that from now on the easy bit was over.

He needn't worry too much. From now on, the rough boys and girls of America's Democratic Party apparatus, many recycled from Bill Clinton's stained and crumpled entourage, will crowd round him, to collect the rich spoils of his victory and also tell him what to do, which is what he is used to.

Just look at his sermon by the shores of Lake Michigan. He really did talk about a 'new dawn', and a 'timeless creed' (which was 'yes, we can'). He proclaimed that 'change has come'. He revealed that, despite having edited the Harvard Law Review, he doesn't know what 'enormity' means. He reached depths of oratorical drivel never even plumbed by our own Mr Blair, burbling about putting our hands on the arc of history (or was it the ark of history?) and bending it once more toward the hope of a better day (Don't try this at home).

I am not making this up. No wonder that awful old hack Jesse Jackson sobbed as he watched. How he must wish he, too, could get away with this sort of stuff.

And it was interesting how the President-elect failed to lift his admiring audience by repeated-but rather hesitant-invocations of the brainless slogan

he was forced by his minders to adopt against his will-'Yes, we can'. They were supposed to thunder 'Yes, we can!' back at him, but they just wouldn't join in. No wonder. Yes we can what exactly? Go home and keep a close eye on the tax rate, is my advice. He'd have been better off bursting into 'I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony' which contains roughly the same message and might have attracted some valuable commercial sponsorship.

Perhaps, being a Chicago crowd, they knew some of the things that 52.5 per cent of America prefers not to know. They know Obama is the obedient servant of one of the most squalid and unshakeable political machines in America. They know that one of his alarmingly close associates, a state-subsidised slum landlord called Tony Rezko, has been convicted on fraud and corruption charges.

They also know the US is just as segregated as it was before Martin Luther King-in schools, streets, neighbourhoods, holidays, even in its TV- watching habits and its choice of fast-food joint. The difference is that it is now done by unspoken agreement rather than by law.

If Mr Obama's election had threatened any of that, his feel-good white supporters would have scuttled off and voted for John McCain, or practically anyone. But it doesn't. Mr Obama, thanks mainly to the now-departed grandmother he alternately praised as a saint and denounced as a racial bigot, has the huge advantages of an expensive private education. He did not have to grow up in the badlands of useless schools, shattered families and gangs which are the lot of so many young black men of his generation.

If the nonsensical claims made for this election were true, then every positive discrimination programme aimed at helping black people into jobs they otherwise wouldn't get should be abandoned forthwith.

Nothing of the kind will happen. On the contrary, there will probably be more of them.

And if those who voted for Obama were all proving their anti-racist nobility, that presumably means that those many millions who didn't vote for him were proving themselves to be hopeless bigots. This is obviously untrue.

Yes we can what? Barack Obama ran on the ticket of change. I was in Washington DC the night of the election. America's beautiful capital has a sad secret. It is perhaps the most racially divided city in the world, with 15th Street-which runs due north from the White House-the unofficial frontier between black and white. But, like so much of America, it also now has a new division, and one which is in many ways much more important. I had attended an election-night party in a smart and liberal white area, but was staying the night less than a mile away on the edge of a suburb where Spanish is spoken as much as English, plus a smattering of tongues from such places as Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan.

As I walked, I crossed another of Washington's secret frontiers. There had been a few white people blowing car horns and shouting, as the result became clear. But among the Mexicans, Salvadorans and the other Third World nationalities, there was something like ecstasy. They grasped the real significance of this moment. They knew it meant that America had finally switched sides in a global cultural war. Forget the Cold War, or even the Iraq War. The United States, having for the most part a deeply conservative people, had until now just about stood out against many of the mistakes which have ruined so much of the rest of the world.

Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice and high taxes, totally committed to preserving its own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part Muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, it was unique. These strengths had been fading for some time, mainly due to poorly controlled mass immigration and to the march of political correctness. They had also been weakened by the failure of America's conservative party-the Republicans-to fight on the cultural and moral fronts.

They preferred to posture on the world stage. Scared of confronting Left-wing teachers and sexual revolutionaries at home, they could order soldiers to be brave on their behalf in far-off deserts. And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third
World. How sad.

Where now is our last best hope on Earth?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

by Newt Gingrich
Posted 11/25/2008 ET
Updated 11/25/2008 ET

Second only to Independence Day, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. And as an American holiday, it is rooted deeply -- like our nation -- in faith in God.

The earliest Thanksgivings were celebrated by Americans who were keenly aware that their blessings -- like their rights -- came from God. In times of hardship unimaginable to us today, they took time to give thanks to their Creator.

Throughout early American history, when they suffered from drought, famine or war, Americans paused, not to seek vengeance or to question their faith, but to give thanks to God for the blessings they still had.

At a time when the economic news seems to get worse every day, it’s important to remember the humble faith of these early Americans. They didn’t just give thanks when times were good, they gave thanks when times were bad -- especially when times were bad.

Radical Secularists Deny the Central Role of Religion in American History

Today is a decidedly different time in America.

Not only have many Americans forgotten or never learned the historic origins of our Thanksgiving -- to pause and give thanks to God for our abundance -- but radical secularists are intent on removing God and faith from our national life altogether.

Many of the entertainment and political elite seem to be threatened by religious faith .

Others seem intent on denying or whitewashing the central role that religious faith has played in American history, such as the attempt to whitewash God out of the Capitol Visitor’s Center (view the video and petition my wife, Callista, and I have created to ask Congress to ensure the Capitol Visitor’s Center is historically accurate about America’s Godly heritage.)
These radical secularists seek to portray those who acknowledge this historical fact as theocrats intent on imposing their religion on others.

In fact, to acknowledge the centrality of God in American history is to acknowledge America’s great freedom of religion -- the freedom to worship and the freedom not to worship. Many Americans have taken advantage of this freedom by drawing closer to their Creator. They understand, even if so many of our media and political elites don’t, that religious freedom is the cornerstone of all of our freedoms.

Voices From Thanksgivings Past

The centrality of God in Thanksgiving in America comes through in the words of some of our greatest national leaders:

Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson, in 1779:

[I] appoint … a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God … to [ask] Him that He would … pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would … spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth … and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue.

President George Washington’s first federal Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.… Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 … that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.

President Abraham Lincoln, making Thanksgiving an annual national holiday in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.

“Let Us Be Thankful For a Land That Will For Such Religion Stand”

Our leaders have not been alone in celebrating God’s gifts at Thanksgiving, of course.

I conclude today with a poem by Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer, an African-American poet writing at the turn of the 20th century. Her generous, hopeful view of Thanksgiving is made even more remarkable by the suffering and discrimination she endured as an African-American in the late 19th and early 20th century.


Let us give thanks to God above,
Thanks for expressions of His love,
Seen in the book of nature, grand
Taught by His love on every hand.

Let us be thankful in our hearts,
Thankful for all the truth imparts,
For the religion of our Lord,
All that is taught us in His word.

Let us be thankful for a land,
That will for such religion stand;
One that protects it by the law,
One that before it stands in awe.

Thankful for all things let us be,
Though there be woes and misery;
Lessons they bring us for our good-
Later 'twill all be understood.

Thankful for peace o'er land and sea,
Thankful for signs of liberty,
Thankful for homes, for life and health,
Pleasure and plenty, fame and wealth.

Thankful for friends and loved ones, too,
Thankful for all things, good and true,
Thankful for harvest in the fall,
Thankful to Him who gave it all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reid Confirms Obama & McCain Have Agreed to Pass Illegal Alien Amnesty!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has now confirmed that President-Elect Obama has made a pact with Sen. John McCain to ram an Illegal Alien Amnesty down America's throat during the first part of the new administration, probably by Spring.

Reid also states that he is willing block the critically important E-Verify program (which keeps illegal aliens out of jobs) if that is what it takes to get this amnesty. He seems to believe his bigger majorities in Congress will somehow eliminate opposition from the people. Senator Reid says, and I quote:

"I don't expect much of a fight at all. Now health care is going to be difficult. That's a very complicated issue. [But ] we debated at great length immigration. People understand the issues very well."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 3:38 PM

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he expects little resistance to an immigration reform package during the next session of Congress. Although Reid said it's not likely to happen in President-elect Barack Obama's first 100 days, it will be brought up.

In an interview with the Gannett News Service, Reid said the first 100 days would be spent on confirmations, appropriations and the repeal of several of George W. Bush's executive orders. But Reid referred to the meeting between Obama and John McCain and how immigration reform was a point of discussion.

"I don't expect much of a fight at all," Reid said in the article.


I think we all knew this was more of a probability than a possibility. Both Obama and McCain were in favor of open borders and amnesty. If you are opposed to amnesty and support the upholding of current law, then you should contact your representatives. I have to tell you though, I doubt it will do much good. I think it's already a done deal. It doesn't matter what the vast majority of the American citizens want. 

And here's why: It's always about vote. Dems and RINO's want the Hispanic vote. They see a new stream of votes up for grabs. During the election, McCain said no to illegal aliens and amnesty. And truly it doesn't matter if this is all just sturm and drang and won't happen. It's sad enough that I can believe that McCain would vote for amnesty based on his history. It doesn't make any difference if they are rewarding criminals with a work visas, legal status, or eventual citizenship. What's the crime? Coming across the border without proper documentation. 

Yeah, that's a crime. That's why we have people posted at entry points on the border. Here's a thought: instead of granting amnesty to milliions of people, why not just change the friggin' law? I would think it would be easier and it would achieve the same end result: millions of  votes from a new source.

Don't kid yourself. In the world of politics, it doesn't matter what the public thinks, it doesn't matter what the public wants, and it doesn't matter why illegal aliens want to come here. Now that the election is over, and there are two years until the next mid-term elections, Congress has pretty much carte blanche to do as they see fit. They'll do what they want. They know that the American public may rant and rail about whatever Congress does, but they also know they have two years for Joe and Jane Sixpack to get over it. And the sad part is, we will.

What really irritates me is that someone like Harry Reid is comfortable with giving an interview saying that he doesn't see much of a fight.  He gives the interview knowing that it doesn't make a difference if he spills the beans now. He knows it's all over but the shouting and whoever is against amnesty will either fall in line or be in the minority.

I just wish that Congress would be upfront and honest about what they plan to do. Don't tell me one thing and make plans behind my back to do the opposite. Do I sound cynical? Do I sound somewhat paranoid? Yes and the first, and well, maybe paranoid doesn't really fit here, but based on past experience with Congress, I think the answer is probably yes. I am paranoid about what Congress does

I have two beliefs about people who serve in Congress. One belief is that our Congressional representatives ran for office because they love our country and truly want to make a difference. They saw something that resonated in them, something missing, something lacking, something they saw as broken and wanted to fix it. I understand that feeling well. I'm a fixer myself. When I see something that needs to be fixed, I start thinking about how to fix it. A friend has a problem? I start thinking about what my friend can do to solve their problem. So I understand the fixer in the people who want to run for political office.

I also believe that something happens to people when they walk into those hallowed halls of Congress. They enter as people who want to help and become politicians. Politicians have a need to continue to be politicians and will do nearly anything to get the vote. They will tell this group what they want to hear and tell another group what they want to hear. They will vote for bills they don't like in order to get their bill passed. They'll barter their souls for votes. The vote can be for a bill or to keep their seat. Doesn't matter. A vote is a vote. 

The two beliefs don't necessarily conflict. I believe that a veteran Congressman loves his or her country just as much as the freshman who still has ideals and a moral sense of value. The veteran believes that he or she does what is best for their constituents and the United States, just as the freshman does. The difference is that the veteran has learned the word "compromise" and how necessary it is in politics. The freshman probably still sees politics in black and white and doesn't realize that politics makes everything gray. 

No wonder Joe and Jane Sixpack don't trust Congress. And it's sad that Congress has so insulated itself that they just don't get how badly they are mistrusted. The Republican Party is beginning to figure it out. The Democrats, even though they've won pretty substantially over the last couple of elections don't get that they are also just an election away from the voters firing their sorry behinds.

The problem is that we're pretty much a two party system, so if we fire one party, we hire from the other. And the cycle starts all over again.
Millionaires get farm payments; nobody checking
Associated Press
November 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A sports team owner, a financial firm executive and residents of Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia were among 2,702 millionaire recipients of farm payments from 2003 to 2006 -- and it's not even clear they were legitimate farmers, congressional investigators reported Monday.

They probably were ineligible, but the Agriculture Department can't confirm that, since officials never checked their incomes, the Government Accountability Office said.

The Agriculture Department cried foul: It said the investigators had access to Internal Revenue Service information on individuals that the department is not permitted to see.

John Johnson, deputy administrator in the department's Farm Service Agency, said officials there are in touch with the IRS to devise a system for including tax information in its sampling program to determine eligibility.

He added that 2,702 recipients cited by GAO was a small percentage of the 1.8 million recipients of farm payments from 2003 through 2006.

The investigators said the problem will only get worse, because the payments they cited only covered the 2002 farm bill subsidies. The 2008 farm legislation has provisions that could allow even more people to receive improper payments without effective checks, they said.

There are three main types of payments: direct subsidies based on a farmer's production history; countercyclical payments that kick in when prices are low and disappear when they recover; and a loan program that allows repayment in money or crops.

The 2002 farm bill required an income test for the first time.

An individual or farm entity was ineligible if average adjusted gross income exceeded $2.5 million over three years -- unless 75 percent or more of that income came from farming, ranching and forestry.

According to the report, the 2,702 recipients exceeded the $2.5 million and got less than 75 percent of their income from these activities. The payments to them totaled more than $49 million.

"USDA has relied principally on individuals' one-time self-certifications that they do not exceed income eligibility caps, and their commitment that they will notify USDA of any changes that cause them to exceed these caps," the GAO said.

The report said Agriculture field offices have been able to request that recipients submit tax returns for review.

But the administrator in charge of the payment programs, Teresa Lasseter, told the GAO, "Requiring three years of tax returns initially from over 2 million program participants was not a viable option or cost-effective alternative."

The GAO said 78 percent of the recipients resided in or near a metropolitan area, while the remaining 22 percent resided in large towns, small towns, and rural areas.

Further, the investigators said the Agriculture Department should have known that 87 of the 2,702 recipients were ineligible because it had noted in its own databases that they exceeded the income caps.

The GAO said it was prevented by law from identifying individuals cited in its report, but the investigators offered these examples of likely improper payments:

-- A founder and former executive of an insurance company received more than $300,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 that should have been subject to the income limits.

-- An individual with ownership interest in a professional sports franchise received more than $200,000 for those same years that should have been barred by the income limits.

-- A person residing in a country outside of the United States received more than $80,000 for 2003, 2005, and 2006 on the basis of the individual's ownership interest in two farming entities.

-- A top executive of a major financial services firm received more than $60,000 in farm program payments in 2003.

-- A former executive of a technology company received about $20,000 in years 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 that were covered by the income limits. This individual also received more than $900,000 in farm program payments that were not subject to those limitations.

The investigators also found nine recipients resided outside of the United States -- in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, for example.

The remainder resided in 49 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands.

Five states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas -- accounted for 36 percent of the recipients and 43 percent of the $49.4 million in farm program payments.