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Dems Beg Supes for a Mulligan On Obamacare Law

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Even though this is, prima facie, a bald-faced lie, the Democrats are, of course, arguing it anyway:

The congressional Democrats involved in writing the Affordable Care Act told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that they intended for consumers in all states to be eligible for subsidies, and they argue that the law they drafted reflects that intention.

Opponents have challenged the Obama administration’s enforcement of the law, arguing that it only allows subsidies to be paid in states that set up their own exchanges, but not to customers in most of the country who use the federal exchange.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and their colleagues disputed that in a new brief filed with the Supreme Court Wednesday, saying to leave out some states would defy the entire reason they passed Obamacare — “to make health insurance affordable for all Americans.”

Oh, please

The court case rests on language in the law that says subsidies will be paid to those in exchanges “established by the state.”

Mr. Obama’s opponents say that means the federal exchange, which covers the two-thirds of states that refused to set up their own exchanges, are not eligible. The opponents, pointing to comments from some Obamacare defenders, say Congress had intended to use the subsidies as a way to entice states to set up exchanges, rather than leave the job to federal officials.

But the Democratic lawmakers who wrote and passed the law called that argument “so weak” and say they never meant to draw that kind of distinction, saying the law grants subsidies to “applicable taxpayers” and defines them by income, not by geography.

Hey, I know — let’s ask an expert!

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Jonathan Who? Never heard of him.

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The Black Knight Rises

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

One thing you have to give the Democrats: they never stop, they never sleep, they never quit. Even after getting various body parts hacked off and handed to them last November, they’re still — taking a cue from Fearless Leader Barry — swaggering around like the cocks of the walk:

House Democrats are feeling emboldened as they head to their annual issues conference and a pep talk from President Obama in Philadelphia this week, relishing a series of stumbles by the Republican majorities in Congress and rallying around a populist tax-the-rich agenda that they are convinced will score points with voters.

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who headed up House Democrats’ campaign operation last year and now runs the Policy and Communications Committee, said Tuesday that his party had quickly regained its footing after taking a beating in the November elections. “The opening weeks of this Congress have not been kind to the Republicans. They have been a reminder to middle-class Americans that the Republican priorities are wrong,” he said.

Never underestimate the incompetence of the Stupid Party, nor the malevolence of the Evil Party. If Weepy John Boehner is such a crackerjack Speaker, he surely could have managed to slam-dunk his abortion and immigration bills. But, of course, no.

Presenting themselves as champions of the middle class and Republicans as allies of the rich, Democrats have embraced the liberal agenda that Mr. Obama presented last week in his State of the Union address. The plan included a plan to raise taxes on the wealthy and give a slew of tax breaks to middle-class families, free tuition at community colleges, boost the minimum wage and mandate employers provide paid sick leave.

Mr. Israel said these “paycheck” issues will pay off for Democrats in the 2016 elections.

Interesting how the Democrats have redefined “paycheck issues” as “gimme free stuff.” Still, it takes a lot of chutzpah when your president lives in Cloud Cuckoo-Land and your congressional caucus is at its weakest in decades to start getting frisky about the 2016 election. Especially when you look like this:

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Come on, you pansies! Fight like a man!

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The Tick-Tock Begins for Andrew Cuomo

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
Moreland Commission? We never heard a' no Moreland Commission

Moreland Commission? We never heard a’ no Moreland Commission

The current New York governor and son of a former New York governor — no hereditary political families in these United States, no sirreebob! — is starting to find himself very, very lonely, rattling around in the governor’s mansion — no hereditary mansions in these United States, no sir! — in Albany. From the house organ (okay, the other house organ) of Democrat-Media Complex liberalism, Politico, this fine piece by Jeff Smith:

As news of numerous, exhaustively documented federal charges against New York Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver spread Thursday morning, the New York Daily News went looking for comment from Silver’s legislative colleagues. They found no shortage of pols who had long lived in fear of Silver—who was charged with taking several million dollars in bribes and kickbacks—but now are willing to turn on him. This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. Most politicians, possessing unmatched self-preservation instincts, will distance themselves from an embattled colleague, and the alacrity with which they abandon him often speaks volumes about his behavior.

But one person who has worked closely with Silver didn’t attack or distance himself on this darkest of days for the speaker (who has expressed confidence in his eventual vindication). That would be Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Obviously, it’s bad for the speaker,” Cuomo acknowledged Thursday. “But it’s also a bad reflection on government, and it adds to the negativity. And it adds to the cynicism and it adds to the ‘they’re all the same.’” Why exactly would Cuomo go to such lengths not to impugn the inscrutable Silver, with whom he is not particularly close?

Good question! And, amazingly, Politico even manages to come up with the right answer: the big, stinking pile of horse manure known as the Moreland Commission, which Cuomo the Younger abruptly disbanded once it became known that he might be at least collateral damage as a result of its corruption investigation.

In 2013, the governor had charged the Moreland Commission with investigating state government corruption. According to the criminal complaint filed against Silver, as well as sources inside the commission, the speaker, who works as a lawyer outside of his government job, repeatedly refused to comply with commission requests to provide a description of the services he provided to his legal clients or a list of those clients, leading federal prosecutors to subpoena his firm. The Silver-led state assembly then filed a court motion to quash the commission’s subpoenas related to legislators’ outside income.

In exchange for allowing the campaign finance bill to pass, Silver allegedly demanded that Cuomo disband the commission, according to the complaint against Silver, and Cuomo—knowing that the commission was also examining the campaign spending of some of his largest donors—was apparently only too happy to oblige.

Silver has not publicly discussed these negotiations other than lambasting the commission’s inquiry into legislators’ outside income as a “fishing expedition”—perhaps because he knew all along that the guiltiest fish in Albany was staring at him in the mirror every morning. Cuomo has variously asserted that he disbanded the commission because it accomplished its primary goal of persuading the legislature to pass an ethics bill, and because the state didn’t “need another expensive prosecutor’s office”; while he originally called the commission “100 percent independent,” he later stated, “I can appoint it; I can disband it; I can appoint you; I can un-appoint you tomorrow.”

Here come the oh-oh part:

If Silver provides new details about Cuomo’s role in the negotiations that led to the commission’s demise, especially if the speaker reveals that Cuomo or his top negotiators were aware of the criminality underlying Silver’s desire to kill the commission, Cuomo’s vulnerability to an obstruction of justice charge increases. And Silver will be under unrelenting pressure to talk: pressure from the feds, pressure from his family and, of course, pressure rooted in any 70-year-old’s desire not to die in prison if it becomes clear that the only route to a short sentence is to give up a much bigger fish.

What are the chances Silver rolls? Given that US Attorney Preet Bharara has publicly said, “stay tuned,” I would say they’re pretty high. Unless, of course, Shelly should meet with an unfortunate accident along the way.

 

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Imagine a World Without Saudi Arabia — It’s Easy If You Try

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

In the Guardian, Simon Tisdall thinks the unthinkable — and it’s about time:

It would be far-fetched to describe the US and Britain’s long-term relationship with Saudi Arabia as a love affair, although elements of romance, blind infatuation and lustful mutual gratification have never been entirely absent. But what has become painfully clear from the furious row over the sycophantic official reaction in Washington and London to the death, this month, of King Abdullah is how much the relationship has changed, at least on the west’s side of the bed…

Intent on offering his condolences and meeting Abdullah’s successor in person, Obama led an exceptionally high-powered delegation to Riyadh that included former secretaries of state, past presidential candidates and senior military commanders. Similarly subservient, Britain had already sent David Cameron and Prince Charles.

Yet when asked to justify this level of attention and, for example, the flying of flags at half-mast on government buildings, Downing Street was hard put to explain its stance. Saudi Arabia was an important ally and economic partner came the muttered reply from No 10, and others. To act otherwise would have been “aggressive” and impolite. A legion of critics vociferously disagreed.

This kneejerk diplomatic kowtowing, embedded in the thinking of a cold war, 1980s world that no longer exists, looks increasingly anachronistic and warrants close scrutiny. All the main policy planks underpinning the Saudi relationship are, more or less, under challenge.

Tisdall goes on to list them, including a shift in the balance of global oil-producing power (thanks, fracking! thanks, North Dakota!), which is breaking the sheikdom’s stranglehold on oil prices, but also its self-protective, two-faced role in the “War on Terror” (if Bush had called it by its proper name, a war on radical Wahhabist Islam, the Saudis wouldn’t have been able to get away with their tiresome act), and of course their despicable repression of women, public beheadings, etc.

The relationship with the west has survived several wars between Israelis and Arabs, in Afghanistan and in Iraq (twice); the chilling predominance of Saudi nationals in the 9/11 attacks and the rise of al-Qaida; serious bribery and corruption scandals and diplomatic rifts; recurring oil crises; deepening concern over Saudi funding for extremist religious teaching and its links to terrorism; escalating rows about egregious human rights abuses and the repression of women, and most recently, the Syrian calamity and the ascendancy of the black-shirted head-cutters of Islamic State.

But it has survived at what cost? For many in Britain and the US (which, post-1945, gradually assumed Britain’s geostrategic role in the Arabian peninsula, as elsewhere), the rationale binding western interests so closely to the Saudi state is no longer obvious, persuasive, welcome or easily justified.

You can say that again. Given its structural weaknesses, the sheikdom’s future under its new hereditary fraternal “monarch” looks very dubious.

Writing days before Abdullah’s death, the American author Stephen Kinzer warned that the basis of the west’s relationship with the Saudi regime was shifting in fundamental ways, while Saudi Arabia’s position in a region beset by insurrection and civil war was ever less secure. “The most intriguing candidate for collapse is Saudi Arabia,” Kinzer wrote. “For more than half a century, Saudi leaders manipulated the United States by feeding our oil addiction, lavishing money on politicians, helping to finance American wars, and buying billions of dollars in weaponry from US companies. Now the sand is beginning to shift under their feet. 

“After [King Salman, Abdullah’s successor, departs the scene], a power struggle within the royal family is likely. No one can say how intense or violent it might become, but the prospect of crisis comes at an especially bad time. The region is afire and oil prices are plummeting. It would be foolish to bet that Saudi Arabia will exist in its current form a generation from now.”

“Three generations and out” has long been rule in the United States, whether for Rockefellers or the Gambino crime family; or “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Let’s hope the same is true for the Saudis, although in this case it’s from camels to camels. 

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Decline of the West, Part Whatever

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

Charles of Arabia

Charles of Arabia

You know, T. E. Lawrence has an awful lot to answer for. St. John Philby, too. What is it about the Brits and their love affair with dress-up?

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Laughing at the Death of Little Nell, PC Division

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

This essay on the evils of Political Correctness by liberal Jonathan “Why I Hate George W. Bush” Chait — has been widely chewed over on the Net today, but I did want to bring it to your attention, if only to…

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… sorry I can’t stop laughing.

Neither can Kevin Williamson at National Review. Or Ace, who has a longish post about it here. But if it’s a dose of good old schadenfreude you’re looking for to drive the blizzard blues away, then look no farther than this primo example of how stupid, nasty, vicious, destructive and evil the Left really is. And how fully they deserve to get what’s coming to them, good and hard.

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible…

Political correctness appeals to liberals because it claims to represent a more authentic and strident opposition to their shared enemy of race and gender bias. And of course liberals are correct not only to oppose racism and sexism but to grasp (in a way conservatives generally do not) that these biases cast a nefarious and continuing shadow over nearly every facet of American life. Since race and gender biases are embedded in our social and familial habits, our economic patterns, and even our subconscious minds, they need to be fought with some level of consciousness. The mere absence of overt discrimination will not do.

Liberals believe (or ought to believe) that social progress can continue while we maintain our traditional ideal of a free political marketplace where we can reason together as individuals. Political correctness challenges that bedrock liberal ideal. While politically less threatening than conservatism (the far right still commands far more power in American life), the p.c. left is actually more philosophically threatening. It is an undemocratic creed.

“Undemocratic liberalism”? Perish the thought! It’s a Little Nell moment, so savor it while you can.

 

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What If They Gave a Snowstorm and Nobody Came?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Pathetic.

A howling blizzard with wind gusts over 70 mph heaped snow on Boston along with other stretches of lower New England and Long Island on Tuesday but failed to live up to the hype in Philadelphia and New York City, where buses and subways started rolling again in the morning.

Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, apologized on Twitter for the snow totals being cut back. “My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,” Szatkowski tweeted. “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry.”

Meanwhile… a travel ban? In New York and New Jersey… in January? What the hell is this country coming to?

Officials launched a vigorous defense of the blanket travel bans and rail closures, saying it had been prudent to protect lives, protect equipment and get services back to normal more quickly. ”You plan the best you can and you lead toward safety,” Cuomo said, adding that he had no estimates for loss of business. “It may actually have brought us back to full operating capacity sooner but I do not criticize weather forecasters. I learn.”

Coastal Massachusetts got a snootful, but then it always does whenever a nor’easter strikes.

Well, at least both masters and peons will be ready for martial law whenever the next “emergency” arises. Honestly, it makes me ashamed to be an American. And it ought to make you ashamed, too.

 

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Well, Surprise Surprise!

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Turns out Moscow really was behind the 2006 polonium poisoning of dissident FSB (the successor to the KGB) agent Alexander Litvinenko in London:

NSA-intercepted communications have proven what many have long suspected about one of the most intriguing cases of murder and espionage in recent times. According to a recent article in the Telegraph, the Russian government was behind the 2006 poisoning of spy-turned dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

The National Security Agency (NSA) obtained electronic communications between key individuals in London and Moscow from the time that the former spy was poisoned with radioactive material in central London. The evidence was passed to the British authorities. A source familiar with the investigation confirmed the existence of American “intelligence material”. They said it would have been “inadmissible” in court, but that the British authorities were “confident that this was a state execution”.

We knew that all along, but it’s nice to have the NSA spying on the Russians for a change, instead of American citizens:

American spies secretly intercepted communications between those involved in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and provided the key evidence that he was killed in a Russian-backed “state execution”, The Telegraph can disclose.

The disclosure comes ahead of the start of the public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death in 2006, which will see hearings, many of which will be held in secret, carried out over a nine-week period in the High Court from Tuesday…. The disclosure of the material is likely to be put pressure on the British government’s relationship with the Kremlin and will renew calls for the UK to toughen its stance.

Let’s see: the KGB is back. The Soviets are back. The Musselmen are back. Formerly eradicated diseases are back. And all during the Obama administration! I wonder if Francis Fukuyama wants to revist his “End of History” theory now.

 

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Annals of Dhimmitude, Pentagon Division

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
bowingObama

Takes one to know one

As if it wasn’t depressing enough that the Union Jack flew at half-staff in London after the Saudi “king,” Abdullah, finally shuffled off stage last week, along comes our former War Department, bowing to its Saudi masters:

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has established an essay competition to honor the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Pentagon announced Monday.The competition, to be hosted at the National Defense University over the next academic year, will focus on issues related to the Arab and Muslim worlds, according to the official DOD News.

“This is an important opportunity to honor the memory of the king, while also fostering scholarly research on the Arab-Muslim world, and I can think of no better home for such an initiative than NDU,” Dempsey said in a statement.

Think this is some of a joke? “Honoring” the butcher who gave at least tacit approval to the 9/11 attacks by fifteen of his subjects? Think again. Here’s the official press release from the DoD:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has established a research and essay competition in honor of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz hosted by the National Defense University. The king, who died Jan. 23 at age 90, oversaw the modernization of his country’s military during the time he spent as commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a position he held from 1963 until he became king in 2005. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the essay competition is a fitting tribute to the life and leadership of the Saudi Arabian monarch…

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, the president of the National Defense University, welcomed the opportunity to challenge future students while honoring the late king. “This scholarly research competition presents NDU students with a unique opportunity to focus their research and writing efforts on relevant issues at the intersection of U.S. security interests and the Arab-Muslim world,” he said.

Say, isn’t is long past time to release the redacted pages of the 9/11, which are said to prove official Saudi complicity in the attacks? And if not — why not? Or, better yet, just ask George W. Bush.

Amazing how fast we got Osama's family out of the country

Amazing how fast we got Osama’s family out of the country

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Too Many Laws, Not Enough Sense

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

One of the dreaded Koch Brothers, Charles, has joined the swelling chorus of Americans (by which I mean me) who believe that we have too many laws, and that we are rapidly approaching a point at which everything will be a criminal offense. From a country with no federal laws until the first Congress was seated, we are now swimming in a flood tide of legislation, as if Congress (and the states, and the cities and the local municipalities; what we are really swimming in is too much government, at every level) had nothing else to do but pass laws. Here’s Charles Koch:

As Americans, we like to believe the rule of law in our country is respected and fairly applied, and that only those who commit crimes of fraud or violence are punished and imprisoned. But the reality is often different. It is surprisingly easy for otherwise law-abiding citizens to run afoul of the overwhelming number of federal and state criminal laws. This proliferation is sometimes referred to as “overcriminalization,” which affects us all but most profoundly harms our disadvantaged citizens.

Overcriminalization has led to the mass incarceration of those ensnared by our criminal justice system, even though such imprisonment does not always enhance public safety. Indeed, more than half of federal inmates are nonviolent drug offenders. Enforcing so many victimless crimes inevitably leads to conflict between our citizens and law enforcement. As we have seen all too often, it can place our police officers in harm’s way, leading to tragic consequences for all involved.

How did we get in this situation? It began with well-intentioned lawmakers who went overboard trying to solve perceived or actual problems. Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. This has translated into more than 4,500 federal criminal laws spread across 27,000 pages of the United States federal code. (This number does not include the thousands of criminal penalties in federal regulations.) As a result, the United States is the world’s largest jailer — first in the world for total number imprisoned and first among industrialized nations in the rate of incarceration. The United States represents about 5 percent of the world’s population but houses about 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

We have paid a heavy price for mass incarceration and could benefit by reversing this trend.

Koch takes a libertarian view of the subject. In a piece I wrote four years for the New York Post, my take was more like: enough, already! Enough from Congress, enough from the regulatory agencies, enough. The American impulse to solve every passing, quotidian problem with a new law has gotten completely out of hand:

In the near future, everyone will be a criminal for at least 15 minutes, whether they know it or not…

Short, clearly written and to the point, the Constitution is not just another one of 31,000 new laws — it is the law. It tells us what the government must do — roads, post offices, patents, armies — and, more important, what the government can’t do. The Bill of Rights is one long Thou Shalt Not aimed at the feds.

It’s high time Congress stopped worrying about being “productive” — which means “passing more laws” — and started undoing the very real mess it’s made.

No wonder Harvey Silverglate, a crackerjack defender of freedom, called his book Three Felonies a Day. That’s how many crimes you personally have already committed today, before you got out of bed, and for which you could go to jail for a very long time. For the more laws Congress passes, the more cops they’re going to need to enforce them. Is a police state really the endgame for the American Republic? It’s long past time to redefine the function of the federal and state legislatures to include repealing laws as well as simply passing new ones.

 

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Is the Noose Closing Around Andrew Cuomo?

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

You have to like the cut of this guy Preet Bharara’s jib. The Indian-born U.S. attorney has just taken down the stupefyingly corrupt speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, and now may have an even bigger target in his sights: Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself. Albany insider Fred Dicker has the scoop at the New York Post:

Gov . Cuomo is “freaked-out and furious” over the bombshell criminal charges dropped on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last week — and “obsessed with fear’’ because of the ongoing federal corruption probe.

One source described Cuomo as “doubly enraged’’ by hard-driving Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s decision to bring the five criminal corruption charges against Silver just hours after the governor delivered his State of the State address — and then, less than 24 hours after that, to indict Albany’s “three men in a room’’ culture in which Cuomo is the lead player. “Cuomo feels Preet just walked all over him,’’ said the source.

Knowledgeable insiders, including law-enforcement experts, said it wasn’t accidental that Bharara brought the charges against Silver just hours after Cuomo’s State of the State. “Prosecutors have a lot of discretion, and when they time a high-profile arrest in a way that steps all over Cuomo’s speech, that’s the use of discretion for a purpose,’’ a former federal prosecutor told The Post.

Well, that certainly was a warning shot across the bow of a guy who’s no stranger to power politics. and around whom the stink of corruption is so redolent that even the Democrat operatives at the New York Times couldn’t endorse him for re-election last year. What got everybody who’s not on the take’s attention was Cuomo’s abrupt shutdown of the Moreland Commission, which had been impaneled to root out corruption in state government. When the commission started sniffing a little too close to the Cuomo throne, Mario’s boy pulled the plug on it.

And several sources described Cuomo — who along with his aides is being investigated by Bharara over the abrupt disbanding of the governor’s Moreland Act commission on public corruption — as “on edge’’ over Bharara’s ominous statement Friday that the public should “stay tuned’’ for more criminal charges to come.

“Andrew’s been working the phones day and night, staying up into the early morning hours, making hundreds of calls in one day trying to find out what the hell is going on,’’ a source close to the governor said. Cuomo, who has retained a private lawyer, has enlisted several former federal and state-level prosecutors with ties to Bharara’s office including Steve Cohen, his former chief-of-staff, in an effort to find out Bharara’s next move, the sources said.

“He’s freaked-out, furious, and obsessed with fear, it’s like a nightmare for him. The whole narrative he laid out for his second term has been derailed by Bharara,’’ said a source in regular contact with the governor. “The narrative has been taken over by Bharara and it’s all about Albany’s corruption, not Cuomo and his program for the state,’’ the source said.

Gee, that’s too damn bad. But trying to bury bad news is par for the course for the Cuomo family, which still has this choice skeleton in its closet, left over from 1987 and never satisfactorily explained:

At the start of a police inquiry into the beating of Governor [Mario] Cuomo’s father-in-law three years ago, a detective took unorthodox steps that may have hampered the search for evidence, a review of Police Department records and interviews with investigators show.

The detective, Sebastian Pipitone, who serves as a bodyguard for the Governor, said that several hours after the attack and robbery of Mr. Cuomo’s father-in-law, Charles Raffa, he removed Mr. Raffa’s car from a police station house and had it washed. According to police records, the car had not been examined for possible fingerprints or other clues before it was washed.

The Governor, in interviews over the last month, has lashed out at rumors that he said were being spread concerning allegations of misconduct by his relatives. The smear campaign appeared to focus on his in-laws, he said. The only in-law of Mr. Cuomo’s to be involved in recent years in a public incident was Mr. Raffa, who was severely beaten and robbed of a ring in May 1984 in a vacant supermarket he owned in the East New York section of Brooklyn. No suspect has been arrested in the assault case.

Detective Pipitone, through a Police Department spokeswoman, said last week that he had the car cleaned as ”a courtesy” before returning it to Mr. Raffa’s family because the car had been covered with powder used by police specialists who examined it for fingerprints on the day of the assault.

But a review of Police Department records showed that the car was first dusted and examined for fingerprints four days after Mr. Raffa was attacked, not on the day of the attack….

The police official who headed the assault investigation, Capt. Michael Murray, said he had been unaware that the car had been washed until he was informed about it last Thursday. ”It might have hurt the investigation,” Captain Murray said. ”We still don’t know if the car was important, but we would have been better off if it had been left alone.”

Where is Mario Puzo when we need him?

 

 

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The Sun Finally Sets on the British Empire

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Except here in Ireland, where they still have six counties, just for spite. Otherwise, get a load of this:

London (AFP) – The government’s decision on Friday to lower British flags following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has stirred controversy, with critics pointing to the kingdom’s poor human rights record. Tributes from world leaders have poured in for the late monarch, seen by some as a cautious moderniser in a turbulent region, but criticised by others as not having done enough to reform an absolute monarchy adhering to a severe form of Islam.

Saudi law, which forbids women from driving and punishes apostasy with death, is derived from Wahhabi Islam, an ultraconservative sect whose clergy have provided Saudi rulers with religious legitimacy.

“Your flag flying insults every woman in the United Kingdom, HOW DARE YOU,” tweeted former Conservative lawmaker Louise Mensch. Lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted: “UK orders flags flown at half-mast for King Abdullah. Will return to lecturing the world about democracy tomorrow.”

And remember — prime minister to the Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha monarchy, David Cameron, is a “conservative.”

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All Aboard the ‘Lolita Express’

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
What, him worry?

‘Would you like to see the Crown jewels, honey?’

That would be the name given to the private plane belonging to disgraced financier and Friend of Bill, Jeffrey Epstein. Now Gawker, of all places, has jumped into the alleged “underage sex slave” scandal with both feet, unearthing the flight logs containing the names of some very famous passengers:

Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the “Lolita Express”—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein—with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein’s address book under an entry for “massages,” according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a “potential co-conspirator” in his crimes.

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 in Florida to one count of soliciting underage girls for sex (and one count of adult solicitation), for which he served just over a year in county jail. But sprawling local, state, and federal investigations into the eccentric investor’s habit of paying teen girls for “massages”—sessions during which he would allegedly penetrate girls with sex toys, demand to be masturbated, and have intercourse—turned up a massive network of victims, including 35 female minors whom federal prosecutors believed he’d sexually abused. He has reportedly settled lawsuits from more than 30 “Jane Doe” victims since 2008; the youngest alleged victim was 12 years old at the time of her abuse.

Clinton shared Epstein’s plane… on at least 11 flights in 2002 and 2003—before any of the allegations against them became public—according to the pilots’ logbooks, which have surfaced in civil litigation surrounding Epstein’s crimes. In January 2002, for instance, Clinton, his aide Doug Band, and Clinton’s Secret Service detail are listed on a flight from Japan to Hong Kong with Epstein, Maxwell, Kellen, and two women described only as “Janice” and “Jessica.” One month later, records show, Clinton hopped a ride from Miami to Westchester on a flight that also included Epstein, Maxwell, Kellen, and a woman described only as “one female.”

Clinton’s office did not respond to an inquiry… Other prominent figures whose names appear in the logs, which document globe-spanning flights on Epstein’s planes during various periods from 1997 to 2005, include Dershowitz, former Treasury Secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers, Naomi Campbell, and scientist Stephen Pinker.

Read more about the “billionaire pervert and his famous friends,” who famously included Britain’s Prince Andrew, at Gawker here. Also be sure to read a long take-out on Epstein in Vanity Fair, published in 2003 before everything hit the propellers. A sample:

Epstein is known about town as a man who loves women—lots of them, mostly young. Model types have been heard saying they are full of gratitude to Epstein for flying them around, and he is a familiar face to many of the Victoria’s Secret girls. One young woman recalls being summoned by Ghislaine Maxwell to a concert at Epstein’s town house, where the women seemed to outnumber the men by far. “These were not women you’d see at Upper East Side dinners,” the woman recalls. “Many seemed foreign and dressed a little bizarrely.” This same guest also attended a cocktail party thrown by Maxwell that Prince Andrew attended, which was filled, she says, with young Russian models. “Some of the guests were horrified,” the woman says.

And an in-depth look at Epstein by Philip Weiss in New York Magazine from 2007 is also required reading as you get up to speed on something  that could get very, very nasty.

 

 

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In Praise of Justice Sotomayor

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

On the Fourth Amendment, she’s quite good, one of the few seeking to delay the complete onset of the American Police State, in which cops are tasked not with keeping the peace but finding more crimes to prosecute. From Reason:

The Supreme Court heard oral argument [Wednesday] in the Fourth Amendment case Rodriguez v. United States. At issue is whether an officer “unnecessarily prolonged” an otherwise legal traffic stop when he called for backup in order to safely walk a drug-sniffing dog around the stopped vehicle. According to a previous Supreme Court ruling, the use of drug dogs during routine traffic stops poses no constitutional problems so long as the traffic stop is not “prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete that mission.”

Okay, let’s stop right there. What the hell does “not prolonged beyond the time reasonably required” actually mean? Does it mean something like this?

A Florida concealed carry permit holder had an unpleasant run-in with a Maryland police officer while traveling through the state. John Filippidis and his family drove from Florida to New Jersey last December for Christmas and a wedding. He knew he’d be traveling through states that aren’t gun-friendly, so he left his gun at home.

Filippidis was followed by a Maryland cop on I-95 after passing through the Fort McHenry tunnel. He said the cop flanked him, pulled ahead of him, and then got behind them. After about ten minutes of that, the officer pulled Filippidis over. The officer was from the Transportation Authority Police. He asked Filippidis for his license and registration. Around ten minutes later, he returned and asked John to exit his vehicle.

Of course, things went south from there. Back to Sotomayor:

According to Justice Department lawyer Ginger Anders, who argued yesterday in defense of the police, law enforcement is entitled to wide leeway when it comes to determining the amount of time that’s “reasonably required” to conduct traffic stops. But that argument met with strong resistance from several members of the Court, particularly Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Indeed, Sotomayor went so far as to suggest that the Court’s recent Fourth Amendment jurisprudence was flying off the rails due to its pro-police deference.

I have a real fundamental question, because this line drawing is only here because we’ve now created a Fourth Amendment entitlement to search for drugs using dogs, whenever anybody’s stopped. Because that’s what you’re proposing. And is that really what the Fourth Amendment should permit?

…we can’t keep bending the Fourth Amendment to the resources of law enforcement. Particularly when this stop is not—is not incidental to the purpose of the stop. It’s purely to help the police get more criminals, yes. But then the Fourth Amendment becomes a useless piece of paper.

Conservatives have got to start walking back their knee-jerk support of the police state, and if a liberal like Justice Sotomayor wants to help them out, they should welcome her.

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Marco Rubio: Yet Another Man Who Will Never Be President?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
No chance

No chance

Put his name down, right alongside Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee — coincidentally, the other three 2016 no-hope candidates who have already more or less announced they’re running for the White House:

Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned. ”He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president,” a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.

Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections.

Rogers will begin working at Rubio’s political action committee on February 1 and would become the finance director of Rubio’s presidential campaign.

That bit about Anna Rogers, one of the Rove operatives, is mildly interesting. And not in a good way; Rubio is largely a creation of the Jeb Bush machine in Florida.

Rubio will never be president for a bunch of reasons: he blotted his copybook with his ill-advised Gang of Eight immigration fiasco, thus proving himself to be a “Hispanic” senator first and a conservative second; he’s unimpressive on the stump and will find it difficult to rally the red-meat base in a way that, say, Ted Cruz or Scott Walker or even a retread Rick Perry could; Cubans, by and large, do not appeal to other Hispanics, especially Mexicans; and he has his share of skeletons in his closet which could pop out to haunt him should he make a play for the national stage.

Rubio, 43, will gather on Friday and Saturday at the Delano Hotel in Miami with 300 supporters and major donors to his Reclaim America PAC to discuss his political future. Aides expect Rubio will make a final decision in the comings weeks, but his schedule for the next month already looks more like the schedule of a presidential candidate than a senator.

ABC News has learned Rubio plans to skip all votes in the Senate next week and instead take a campaign fundraising swing through California with events in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Rancho Sante Fe and Costa Mesa. He also plans fundraising stops in Texas and Chicago.

Let’s see: a freshman senator who plans to skip all votes in the Senate next week in order to fund-raise and campaign for a higher office. Where have we seen that before?

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Anti-Vaccine Nuts? Illegal Aliens? What Could Go Wrong?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

How about this to start:

California is battling a surge of measles cases clustered around the famous Disneyland theme park, despite the virus being all but eliminated in the United States, authorities said. Fifty-nine cases have been recorded since the end of December, the California Department of Public Health reported, urging people to get themselves vaccinated — in the face of a movement against the vaccinations over concerns about links to autism in children.

“Of the confirmed cases, 42 have been linked to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California,” the health department said. Five of the cases involved Disney employees. ”Initial exposures occurred in December, but additional confirmed cases visited Disney parks while infectious in January,” the department added on its website.

Measles is highly contagious and can be spread through the air without physical contact. Infection usually begins with a fever followed by a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and a rash. The health department said the spate of cases underscored the need for vaccinations against the illness. Twenty-eight cases from 34 for which data was available involved individuals who had not been vaccinated.

Hard to know at this point how many of the cases were introduced by immigrants from Third World countries where vaccination is not as rigorous as it once was in the United States, when we were a First World country, and how many are caused by screaming nutbags who think vaccinations lead to “autism.” But there is no medical reason why this should be happening in America.

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Why Is Obama Funneling Money to Iran?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Because he is, you know. In the guise of protecting “negotiations” over Iran’s soon-to-be-fully-functional nuclear program.

The Obama administration on Wednesday paid $490 million in cash assets to Iran and will have released a total of $11.9 billion to the Islamic Republic by the time nuclear talks are scheduled to end in June, according to figures provided by the State Department.

Today’s $490 million release, the third such payment of this amount since Dec. 10, was agreed to by the Obama administration under the parameters of another extension in negotiations over Tehran’s contested nuclear program that was inked in November.

Iran will receive a total of $4.9 billion in unfrozen cash assets via 10 separate payments by the United States through June 22, when talks with Iran are scheduled to end with a final agreement aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear work, according to a State Department official…

Iran will have received a total of $11.9 billion in cash assets by the end of June if current releases continue on pace as scheduled.

That would be the same group of fundamentalist savages who in defiance of international, civilized norms seized our embassy under the feckless Carter administration and have never had to feel the lash since.

Barack Hussein Obama: the best friend our Islamic enemies ever had.

Remember when the U.S. government represented America? Seems like eons ago.

 

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What Really Causes Addiction? Maybe It’s Your Cage

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Nature or nurture? A predisposition to addiction, or the drugs themselves? A new book suggests neither of the above:

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned – and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction, by our teachers, and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my book ‘Chasing The Scream – The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs’ to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong – and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it. If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I’m always wary of stories that begin so portentously, but please read on:

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine – the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much high purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right – it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them – then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave hospital and try to score smack on the streets, to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing. It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts – and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe – as I used to – that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place.

And now read the whole thing.

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Publicity Stunt or Epic Troll? UK’s The Sun Continues to Run Page Three Topless Pics

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
They're ba-ack...

They’re ba-ack…

Everybody’s two favorite features in the largest-selling Brit newspaper, The Sun, have returned:

The Sun has printed a topless model on Page 3, ending days of speculation that the feature was dead. The newspaper has tweeted out a picture of Thursday’s Page 3 which features a blonde-haired model, under the headline ‘clarifications and corrections’, winking and baring her breasts.

A notice underneath the picture reads: “Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth. We would like to apologise on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us.”

Meanwhile, the humorless, joyless, political scolds of the “No More Page 3″ movement, who thought they’d won last week, vow to fight on.

The campaign group No More Page 3, which began in 2012 and attracted 217,000 signatures to a petition calling for a ban, acknowledged that “the fight might be back on”.

So let me get this straight: it’s okay for women to campaign for the right to go topless in public. It’s okay for Lena Dunham to disrobe on a regular basis on Girls and show the world her mashed-potato figure. That’s empowering (but the links are, of course, NSFW). But it’s somehow an affront to women everywhere if the Sun has a little innocent fun with healthy Holly from Manchester (link very definitely NSFW).

Right.

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BREAKING: Top Tammany Democrat Silver Arrested — Is Andrew Cuomo Next? UPDATED

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
Busted

Busted

Sheldon Silver is finally getting what’s long been coming to him:

Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York state Assembly, was arrested Thursday morning on corruption charges. Silver showed up at 26 Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan at 8 a.m. where he was arrested by FBI agents. He’s set to make his initial appearance before a federal judge Thursday afternoon. Silver’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, declined comment before the arrest.

US Attorney Preet Bharara scheduled a press conference at 1 p.m. to detial the charges.The powerful Manhattan Democrat Silver has been the target of an on-going federal probe of undocumented payments he received from a law firm, sources said…

Silver, who has served as speaker for more than 20 years, was ensnared in an investigation sparked by Gov. Cuomo’s abrupt shut down of an anti-corruption commission he had created in 2013.

The specific details of the charges were not clear, but sources said that they were related to money Silver received from a small real-estate tax law firm. The firm, Goldberg & Iryami PC, made the payments over about a decade, but Silver failed to list the income on his financial-disclosure forms, sources told The Post.

Silver’s outside income has always been questioned by his critics. Last year, Silver reported income of $750,000 for legal he performed for the trial firm Weitz & Luxenberg.

Here’s how the New York Times is playing it:

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday and accused of using the power of his office to solicit millions in bribes and kickbacks, according to court documents. The arrest of Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, sent shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.

Mr. Silver surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents early Thursday morning in Lower Manhattan, law enforcement officials said. Mr. Silver, before entering 26 Federal Plaza, said, “I hope I’ll be vindicated.”

In a five-count criminal complaint outlining the charges, Mr. Silver is accused of “using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” He is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.

The Daily News has this to add:

A stunning five-count indictment accused the Manhattan Democrat, a state political fixture for decades, with pocketing more than $6 million in bribes and kickbacks in return for wielding his massive influence. Silver stands accused of pressuring real estate companies doing business with the state to hire two law firms that were regularly paying him bribes, the 35-page indictment charged.

More than half of the $6 million came after Silver steered $500,000 in state funds to a doctor who in turn referred asbestos cases to Weitz & Luxenberg, a personal injury firm affiliated with Silver for decades.

The state money was provided to the doctor for a research project and unspecified “additional benefits” to the doctor’s family, the indictment charges. Silver collected more than $3.2 million in referral fees from the law firm after directing more than 100 clients to Weitz & Luxenberg for asbestos litigation, the indictment charged.

New York state is essentially an organized crime racket, one that for many years was stable in its distribution of the swag. The upstate-controlled Senate was in the hands of the GOP under Joe Bruno, while the assembly lay under the thumb of the weaselly Silver. But somebody broke the peace back in 2008, when Bruno abruptly resigned his leadership positions and announced he wouldn’t be running again; in January 2009 he was indicted on eight corruption counts, and later convicted of two of them. The convictions were overturned on appeal and Bruno was subsequently found not guilty at a retrial last year. He’s been itching for payback ever since. This is it.

As for Cuomo, whose ham-fisted shutdown of the Moreland Commission opened this particular can of worms, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. After all, it’s not like he wasn’t warned:

In an escalation of the confrontation between the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the governor’s cancellation of his own anticorruption commission, Mr. Bharara has threatened to investigate the Cuomo administration for possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering.

The warning, in a sharply worded letter from Mr. Bharara’s office, came after several members of the panel issued public statements defending the governor’s handling of the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, which Mr. Cuomo created last year with promises of cleaning up corruption in state politics but shut down abruptly in March. Mr. Bharara’s office has been investigating the shutdown of the commission, and pursuing its unfinished corruption cases, since April.

And it’s not like the Cuomo family doesn’t have something to hide, either.

UPDATE: And the hits just keep on coming in the one-party city/state of Cuomo and Warren Wilhelm, Jr.:

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and one of her former political consultants are subjects of a city ethics probe, Crain’s has learned. The noncriminal investigation, which is being conducted by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, centers around Ms. Mark-Viverito’s acceptance of free assistance during her 2013 race for council speaker, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

The speaker recently paid $20,000 in campaign cash to a law firm to represent her in the investigation. In November 2014 and again this month, Ms. Mark-Viverito’s campaign fund made $10,000 payments to Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman. The Conflicts of Interest Board has been deposing figures in the investigation.

In the midst of the competition to succeed Christine Quinn as speaker, the Daily News reported that Ms. Mark-Viverito’s acceptance of pro bono help from the Advance Group—a prominent Manhattan lobbying and campaign consulting shop—could run afoul of a city ethics regulation. Good-government group Citizens Union called for the Conflicts of Interest Board to investigate.

A “good-government” group in solid-blue New York State? Ha ha ha ha ha!

 

 

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Like Switzerland? Forget It — You Can’t Afford to Live There

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

The most expensive countries on earth? The ever-useful (and not just for its up-to-the-minute pictures of celebrity bikini bodies) Daily Mail has the list:

A map showing the cost of living around the world shows how the U.S. is now less affordable for residents – but still cheaper than Britain and France. The global report reveals how Britain is the 10th most expensive country to live in with Australia tenth and America 24th.

Switzerland tops the list while Norway and Denmark appear in the top five for the third year in a row according to the results of a survey which took into account the cost of groceries, transportation, restaurants and utilities.

In a damning reflection of Venezuela’s domestic problems, the Latin American country has climbed from 12th place in 2013 to third place in 2015.

Iceland has also jumped significantly, up from 10th place in 2013 to fourth in 2015. The world report, carried out by Numbeo, was fashioned into an infographic by movehub – a resource for people moving abroad.

You can find the complete list here and the fascinating infographics here.

highest

 

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Well, that Makes One, Anyway

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
YouTube Preview Image

The young woman at the center of the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal continues to insist she was forced into sexual slavery by the disgraced financier — but she did not have sexual relations with that man, Mr. Clinton:

Alleged underage ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts has denied ever having sex with Bill Clinton in explosive new court filings which lay bare a host of debauched details about her alleged relationship with Prince Andrew and his friend Jeffrey Epstein. In papers filed on Wednesday in Florida federal court, Roberts – referred to as Jane Doe No. 3 – gives sordid details about an alleged 11-person orgy with Prince Andrew in 2001 but denies ever having relations with the former president.

Roberts, now 31, claims she worked for Epstein between 1999 and 2002 after she was recruited by his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell when she was just 15 years old.

During the period that Roberts worked for Epstein he was good friends with Clinton, but she denies sleeping with him despite rumors to the contrary. ’I have seen reports saying or implying that I had sex with former President Bill Clinton on Little St James Island,’ she writes in the filing. The island, part of the the U.S. Virgin Islands, is owned by Epstein.

‘Clinton was present on the island at a time when I was also present on the island, but I have never had sexual relations with Clinton, nor have I ever claimed to have had such relations. I have never seen him have sexual relations with anyone,’ Roberts wrote.

Roberts, however, is sticking by her story that she very much did have sex with the scion of the “British” royal house of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, the hapless Prince Andrew. She’s also thrown in a dollop of lesbianism into her allegations as well:

According to Roberts, Epstein and Maxwell ‘trained me to do what they wanted, including sexual activities and the use of sexual toys. The training was in New York and Florida, at Epstein’s mansions. ’It was basically every day and was like going to school. I also had to have sex with Epstein many times. I was trained to be “everything a man wanted”,’ she said.

Maxwell, the daughter of late newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, was ‘heavily involved’ in recruiting young girls for Epstein – and herself, Roberts claimed. ’Maxwell was all about sex all the time. She had sex with underage girls virtually every day when I was around her, and she was very forceful,’ Roberts said.

‘I first had sexual activities with her when I was approximately 15 at the Palm Beach mansion. I had many sexual activities with her over the next several years in Epstein’s various residences plus other exotic locations,’ she said.

‘I also observed Maxwell have sex with dozens of underage girls,’ Roberts said. ‘Many times she made me sleep with other girls, some of whom were very young, for purposes of taking sexual pictures.’  Prince Andrew – who fiercely denies ‘any form of sexual contact or relationship’ with Miss Roberts – is under growing pressure to testify on oath about his alleged contact with her.

Meanwhile, the Prince has been served, but Das Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha is stonewalling a request by Roberts’ lawyers to testify:

Her lawyers had served an extraordinary letter on the Duke last week requesting he answer questions – but he ‘refused’ to accept it. Last week, Miss Roberts’ lawyers sent by FedEx couriers an unprecedented letter addressed to ‘His Royal Highness The Duke of York’ at Buckingham Palace requesting his ‘voluntary cooperation in answering question about his sexual interactions’ with her.

The letter offered to interview the prince under oath ‘at a time and place of your choosing’. But her lawyers stated: ‘Federal Express has informed us that the letter has been refused by the recipient.’

Pass the popcorn.

 

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The Revenge of Sarah Palin

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
June 2012: the bad old days

June 2012: the bad old days

Remember her chant, “Drill, baby, drill”? Well, how about that:

Back when gas topped $4 a gallon, Republicans chanted “drill, baby, drill” at rallies across the country — arguing more domestic drilling would increase supplies, reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the U.S. economy. Democrats, almost universally, mocked the GOP plan. In 2012, President Obama called it “a slogan, a gimmick, and a bumper sticker … not a strategy.”

“They were waving their three-point plans for $2-a-gallon gas,” Obama told a laughing audience during an energy speech in Washington. “You remember that? Drill, baby, drill. We were going through all that. And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.”

Today, Democrats are singing a different tune, as increased domestic drilling has led to a record supply of domestic crude, put some $100 billion into the pockets of U.S. consumers and sent world oil prices tumbling. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline on Monday was $2.13 nationwide, and below $2 in 18 states.

“Of course [Obama] was wrong. We’ve seen oil prices fall internationally now by half since last June,” said American Enterprise Institute economist Ben Zycher. “The U.S. is now the biggest oil and gas producer in the world, or almost that, and the effect has been to drive prices down as we’ve seen.”

Barack Obama: wrong about everything

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J-School Dean Comes Out Against Free Speech

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Faced with a conflict between free speech and political correctness, DeWayne Wickham, dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism (whatever that is) and Communication , comes down squarely on the side of PC:

Charlie Hebdo has gone too far.

In its first publication following the Jan. 7 attack on its Paris office, in which two Muslim gunmen massacred 12 people, the once little-known French satirical news weekly crossed the line that separates free speech from toxic talk.

Charlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of the prophet Mohammed — a repeat of the very action that is thought to have sparked the murderous attack on its office — predictably has given rise to widespread violence in nations with large Muslim populations. Its irreverence of Mohammed once moved the French tabloid to portray him naked in a pornographic pose. In another caricature, it showed Mohammed being beheaded by a member of the Islamic State.

While free speech is one of democracy’s most important pillars, it has its limits.

Say, does this guy know Tanya Cohen by any chance? They sure seem to think alike.

If Charlie Hebdo’s irreverent portrayal of Mohammed before the Jan. 7 attack wasn’t thought to constitute fighting words, or a clear and present danger, there should be no doubt now that the newspaper’s continued mocking of the Islamic prophet incites violence. And it pushes Charlie Hebdo’s free speech claim beyond the limits of the endurable.

Wow.

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Mass Immigration from Latin America? What Could Go Wrong?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

When you invite the Third World to take up residence in your First World country, don’t be surprised when it turns into a Third World country:

Forty-three of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world are in Latin America, according to a survey released Tuesday, including 19 in Brazil, which will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Mexico City didn’t make the list, and Ciudad Juárez, the border city with Texas that was once the world’s murder capital, fell this year to No. 27. But the fallen Mexican resort of Acapulco was No. 3, behind San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Caracas, Venezuela.

This is the seventh year that the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a Mexico City advocacy, has compiled the list, based on official murder rates per 100,000 residents of cities with more than 300,000 people.

What’s happened to Latin America and Mexico, especially– entirely due to drugs and the drug trade — is an ongoing disgrace. When I was a kid, growing up near the Mexican border, Mexicans were widely regarded as hard-working, religious, peaceful people: culturally, but not “racially” different from Protestant America. (This was before the words “Hispanic” and “Latino” had entered the vocabulary of the racist Left.) Now, egged on by largely imaginary “racial” grievances, the country is a hot mess.

Also worrying: Brazil, the host of the 2016 Olympics, scores high on the violence scale as well:

Neither Rio de Janeiro, the host city for the 2016 Games, nor São Paulo, the industrial megalopolis, is ranked among the top 50 cities. Backed by a massive police presence, those two cities and 10 others that hosted matches for last year’s World Cup in Brazil managed to keep crime down during the month-long event.

But outside of the World Cup, many Brazilian cities grapple with high murder rates. The most murderous Brazilian cities are João Pessoa (4), Maceió (6), Fortaleza (8), São Luís (10), Natal (11), Vitoria (15), Cuiabá (16), Salvador (17), Belém (18) and Teresina (20), according to the survey. Brazilian cities ranking lower are Goiânia (23), Recife (29), Campina Grande (30), Manaus (33), Porto Alegre (37), Aracaju (39), Belo Horizonte (42), Curitiba (44) and Macapá (46).

Mexico has 10 cities on the list, while Colombia has five, Venezuela and the United States four each, three in South Africa, two in Honduras and one each in El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica.

And how are we doing, you ask? About what you’d expect:

The U.S. cities in the ranking are St. Louis (19), Detroit (22), New Orleans (28) and Baltimore (40).

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BREAKING: Boehner Invites Netanyahu to Address Congress on Islamic Terrorism

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

This will make liberal heads explode:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address a joint meeting of Congress on February 11, 2015.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” Boehner said. “In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life. Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

You can read the formal letter of invitation here.

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A Star Is Born: Joni Ernst

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

And she’s already got the Evil Party terrified:

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has been in the Senate for only a few weeks, and while she has avoided the national spotlight so far, she is about to burst onto the scene via her designation as the Republican who will give the response to the president’s State of the Union address tonight. She hasn’t given her speech yet, but it is a given that the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media will not like what she has to say. And it is my guess that they will not like Ernst either. Predictably, she will quickly be marginalized as a right-winger — or worse — by the usual suspects on the left. But Ernst proved during the 2014 campaign that she is an articulate, thoughtful, capable leader. So why will the Democrats despise her?

Well, because she’s a woman, of course, just like they did Sarah Palin. But Ernst has learned from what happened to Sarah and likely won’t fall into the trap the former Alaska governor did, of trusting the MSM to treat her fairly.

Well, by drawing on her uncommon, interesting personal story as an Iowa farmgirl and Army National Guard combat veteran, and relating to her fellow Iowans, Ernst captured one of the most reliably liberal Senate seats in the country — one that had been held by now-retired Democratic senator Tom Harkin for 30 years. While Ernst’s opponent ridiculed Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for being a farmer, Ernst embraced her roots and produced one of the most memorable, viral campaign ads of the 2014 cycle.

Let’s have another look at that one, shall we?

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But wait, there’s more:

But even more than losing a critical Senate seat, Democrats are frightened by Ernst because she is a woman who has a strong conservative philosophy and message that appeals to a lot of people. Democrats can’t dismiss Ernst as a token, because she didn’t run as one. Everything about her biography and style blunts the Democrats’ usual criticisms of conservative women.

Now when Hillary Clinton comes to visit Iowa, rather than having a friendly liberal trial lawyer senator by her side, she will be bracketed by Ernst — who no doubt will hold Clinton’s feet to the fire. It will be a woman-to-woman matchup, so the Democrats’ usual pablum about a GOP “war on women” just won’t work.

Ernst is a handsome, brave woman who has a bright future in American politics; all she has to do is lose the midwestern laugh and she’ll be making Democrat lives miserable for years and years to come.

 

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Yet Another Reason to Hate Pro Football

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Not only is it harmful, boring, pointless, and a drain on the public treasury that enriches already obscenely rich men, but — its best team cheats:

The Patriots used underinflated footballs on Sunday night. The next question is how did it happen?

According to a National Football League letter about the investigation into the controversy that was shared with the Globe, the Patriots were informed that the league’s initial findings indicated that the game balls did not meet specifications. The league inspected each of the Patriots’ 12 game balls twice at halftime, using different pressure gauges, and found footballs that were not properly inflated.

According to ESPN, 11 of the 12 game balls were found to be underinflated by about 2 pounds each. The NFL specifications say they must be inflated to 12½ to 13½ pounds. The investigation is still ongoing.

If the Patriots are found to have deliberately doctored footballs, the organization can be fined a minimum of $25,000, and if the NFL finds the incident egregious, the Patriots could potentially lose a draft pick. In 2007, commissioner Roger Goodell took away a first-round draft pick and fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick after determining the team had spied on an opponent.

The Patriots defeated the Colts, 45-7, on Sunday night to earn their eighth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The next day, the NFL confirmed it was investigating whether the team used underinflated footballs.

This is not the first time Belichick has gotten himself into hot water with the league. Remember 207′s Spygate?

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined the NFL maximum of $500,000 Thursday and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals. Commissioner Roger Goodell also ordered the team to give up its first-round draft choice next year if it reaches the playoffs this season, or its second- and third-round picks if it misses the postseason.

“This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” Goodell said in a letter to the Patriots.

 

Meanwhile, all Indianapolis is ready to take up arms against Beantown:

If nothing else comes of this – and the prediction here: nothing else comes of this – we’ll always have that. Lots of people will forever believe the Patriots cheated the Colts on Sunday. Why? Because it’s the Patriots. And they’ve cheated before. This is the NFL franchise that was busted for spying on opposing teams. It is run by the same man, Bill Belichick. Either you are, or you are not, willing to cheat.

And Belichick is. The NFL found him guilty of – even responsible for – the Spygate scandal during the 2007 season. With very few exceptions, people can be divided into various either/or categories: Employed or unemployed. Smoker or nonsmoker.

Cheater or not a cheater.

Belichick’s a cheat.

Put the sport out of its misery, please.

 

 

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The Religion of No Fun Strikes Again

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
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And by “strikes,” I mean literally:

Islamic State religious police have been filmed beating musicians and destroying their instruments as punishment for playing an ‘un-Islamic’ keyboard. The men were pictured being hit across the back and legs with a wooden stick in a public square after ISIS’s fanatical Islamic enforcers ruled the electric keyboard was ‘offensive to Muslims’.

Another picture shows two keyboards and what appears to be a lute smashed to pieces after raids thought to have taken place in Bujaq, a few miles to the east of Aleppo in Syria…

Since taking control of large parts of Syria and Iraq last year ISIS claims to have formed a Caliphate in the Middle East, and has taken to enforcing strict Sharia law within its borders. Thieves are regularly pictured having their hands or arms amputated in public squares amid crowds of onlookers, while adulterers have been executed.

So let’s get this straight: basically, no music, no representative art, no pictures of Muhammed, no Bamiyan Buddhas — no art that precedes the establishment of Islam in those unhappy, once-great lands (Persia, take a bow) that fell to the Musselman conquest. And yet the Left makes common cause with these savages, simply because they share a common enemy: the West. Let’s see how that works out for them.

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You, Too, Can Dine Out Like President Obama!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
It's great to be king

It’s great to be king

Although not on the taxpayers’ dime, of course. Still, just in time for tonight’s snoozefest SOTU, my old employer, Time magazine, embarrasses itself with this shameless piece of puffery regarding Barry’s belly. Get ready to lose your lunch over this crackerjack forary into clueless investigative journalism:

Since Barack Obama is preparing to deliver the State of the Union Tuesday, we decided, naturally, to check on the state of the President’s plate. Obama is our first foodie President, and his eating habits say a great deal about what tops America’s tables.

After reviewing more than 12,400 reports filed by the White House press pool since Obama took office six years ago, we were able to uncover nearly every one of his dining choices, from enchiladas with chorizo in Colorado to the best sushi he’s ever had in Tokyo. Our tally shows Obama has left the White House at least 104 times for breakfast, lunch, a snack or dinner, clogging restaurant parking lots with Presidential motorcades everywhere from Honolulu to Martha’s Vineyard.

And the results are in: Alan Wong’s of Honolulu is Obama’s favorite restaurant. The First Couple has picked at least 15 places for Date Night. And Obama, who’s eaten in at least 28 states since taking office, is nearly three times as likely to find himself wielding a fork and knife in a place that voted for him than against him.

Scroll down at the link for the complete list. Burgers, steaks, and of course the super high-end eateries Obama and Michelle favor and grace with their presence. Bon appetit!

 

 

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News You Can Use: Whiskey Really Is the Water of Life

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, you can’t argue with science:

Whiskey is one of the best alcohols you can drink. Not only is it the least likely to give you a hangover, but it’s also one of the healthiest around. You’ll find that having a few fingers of whiskey every week can help to:

Here are the top three:

  1. Avoid Weight Gain – Whiskey is a low-calorie alcohol, especially when compared to the many cocktails, beers, and wines you can find on supermarket shelves. You can drink a tumbler of whiskey without worrying about packing on the pounds thanks to its low sugar content.
  2. Boost Heart Health – Did you know that drinking whiskey can actually make your heart healthier? Aside from wine and dark beer, what other alcohols can claim that? Not only will whiskey reduce the risk of blood clots, but it will lower your stroke and heart attack risk as well. The antioxidants in whiskey stop cholesterol from clogging your arteries, and it can even boost your good cholesterol.
  3. Fight Cancer — Whiskey is rich in antioxidants, particularly one known as ellagic acid. This antioxidant stops your body’s DNA from coming in contact with cancer-causing compounds, reducing the risk of carcinogens forming. It can also protect your body from chemotherapy, and will reduce oxidation in your body.

The Scots and the Irish have known this for centuries. But do read on.

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End of an Era: Ta-Ta to Topless Girls on Page 3

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
In happier times...

In happier times…

Yes, it’s sadly true. After battling an uplifting campaign against its signature photo display:

The Sun, Britain’s top-selling newspaper, has scrapped Page 3’s topless women after 44 years, delighting the legion of critics who have branded the photos of bare-breasted models sexist, offensive and anachronistic.

Insiders said the decision has been taken to kill off the controversial feature quietly but that the feature would continue online. “This comes from high up, from New York,” said one senior executive in a reference to the paper’s owner Rupert Murdoch.

The Sun refused to respond to any calls, emails or texts from the Guardian throughout Monday but told the Times, which is also owned by Murdoch: “Page 3 of The Sun is where it’s always been, between pages 2 and 4, and you can find Lucy from Warwick at Page3.com. “

A savvy business decision, or a bow to the booboisie? A bow to crazed feminists and angry Muslims (strange bedfellows indeed)? Luckily, the paper has left itself an out-clause should the need arise:

The change may be reversed, it is understood, if it results in a noticeable Sun sales decline. Publisher News UK has previously publicly argued, in the face of mounting opposition from critics including the No More Page 3 campaign, that the feature remains popular with its readers and those who want rid of it do not buy the paper.

Fortunately for fans of the female form, the feature remains on line, and you can have a gander here.

Let’s ask the late Howard Hughes what he thinks:

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Even the Left Hates Barry Now, Although for All the Wrong Reasons

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

You know you’re in trouble when someone like the Boston Globe‘s James Carroll has just about had it with you, albeit for mostly wrong reasons:

Obama’s slogan “Yes, we can” had come to seem both an acknowledgment of the difficult road ahead, and a savvy rebuttal to the “realists” who ruled out as impossible any actual progress toward peace, justice, or broad prosperity. Early on, the president defied the chorus of naysayers, especially as he pulled the economy back from the brink of catastrophe. His considerable success with health care reform will likely define the core of his legacy.

But six years on, in many important ways, Barack Obama has become a figure of American disappointment, with last week’s inexplicable failure to properly honor the trauma of France only a latest instance of mystifying solecism. Obama’s political and personal enemies never saw him as a force for good, yet by now even many of his once-passionate admirers admit to a profound disenchantment. The shattering of an illusion tied to a figure of such intelligence, deeply rooted liberal purpose, and evident public virtue necessarily involves a further — and perhaps dangerous — disillusionment with democratic will itself.

Obama’s problem, you see, is that the world just isn’t good enough for him. Plus, it stubbornly refuses to see the light this great and good man is trying to bring it:

The original sin generating the Middle East fury into which the hapless United States has been drawn is primordial European contempt for the “infidel,” whether Muslim or Jew, which morphed over centuries into racist colonialism and anti-Semitism — for both of which a day of reckoning has arrived. Europe stands indicted by its own history.

But as for Obama’s domestic challenge, the seething outrage of ongoing racial injustice that not even an African-American president can assuage puts the United States on the spot alone. What age-old hatred of Jews and Muslims is to Europe, slavery is to America — and no, it is not finished with, either.

Etc., blah blah blah. James Carroll is a very good writer who wrote one great novel, Mortal Friends, which is as good a book about the Boston Irish (my own people, as it happens) as anything. But what — especially after six years of malevolence and failure — is one to make of this?

the State of the Union address is the country’s ritual of rededication, and, by definition, the event basks in promise. Obama has already let the citizenry in on “little previews” of the issues he will take up, like cybersecurity and the expansion of community colleges, but the stakes are far larger than any single initiative he can propose. The president is clearly chastened, but so is the nation. Americans must not judge him as if responsibility — for the future as much as for the past — lies with him alone. He will invite us all to seize this moment to begin again, and we should. We still can.

Oscar Wilde famously said that second marriages were the triumph of hope over experience. So, for people like Carroll, has been the second term of Barack Hussein Obama.

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First They Came for our Pizzas…

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

The food nazis are at it again:

Kids love pizza, but a new study shows that it doesn’t love them back. On days when children eat pizza, they consume an average of 408 additional calories, three additional grams of fat and 134 additional milligrams of salt compared with their regular diet. For teens, putting pizza on the day’s menu adds 624 calories, five grams of fat and 484 milligrams of salt.

The analysis, published online Monday by the journal Pediatrics, examines pizza’s contribution to the childhood obesity crisis because it is so widely consumed. On any given day, 22% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 eat pizza. (That compares to 14% of toddlers and 13% of Americans overall.) The only foods more popular with kids are “grain desserts,” a category that includes cakes, cookies and doughnuts.

For this they needed research?

Health policy researcher Lisa M. Powell of the University of Illinois at Chicago and her colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to assess pizza’s impact on children’s diets. Participants in NHANES, a project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complete dietary recalls that list all the foods and drinks they consumed in the previous 24 hours. Responses from 7,443 children between the ages of 2 and 11 and 6,447 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 were involved in the new study.

The results revealed that younger kids eat 83 calories’ worth of pizza a day and teens eat 143 calories of the dish each day, on average. Those amounts were high enough to account for 5% and 7% of total daily calories, respectively. On days when pizza is eaten…

Oh, shut up.

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Lede of the Day, SOTU Edition

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

From my pal Kevin Williamson at NRO, this gem of choice invective:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

Pretty much, yeah. It gets even nastier, so be sure to read the whole thing.

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