Volume 13 Number 5 September - October 2009

®

Editor’s Comment

False Allegations of White Racism are Widespread While Black Racism is Tolerated: It’s Time to End the Double Standard
There was widespread hope that the election of an African-American president, which indicated that the vast majority of Americans were prepared to judge a candidate on his merits rather than on race, would usher in what many referred to as a “post-racial” society. In recent days, however, we have seen the issue of race injected into a debate in which it is largely irrelevant, namely the debate over President Obama’s plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Former President Jimmy Carter declared racism to be the subtext of many of the attacks against the president’s health care plan, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus point to race as a driving force behind the current level of animosity. Mr. Carter declared that, “An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.” The fact that some Americans may still harbor racist sentiments is certainly true. And, in some rare instances, racist signs and slogans have appeared at rallies opposing the Obama health care plan. There is no evidence, however, that the health care debate is, in any way, motivated by race. There are real disagreements about how best to alter the health care delivery system. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, should be able to disagree -- even with the use of sometimes heated rhetoric -- without being accused of racism. Indeed, President Obama himself says that he does not believe his race was the cause of fierce criticism aimed at his administration in the contentious national debate over health care, but rather the cause was a sense of suspicion and distrust many Americans have in their government. “Are there people out there who don’t like me
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INSIDE STORIES
Crime and Gang Violence ........................................3 “Our Brother in Black ..............................................5 Political Correctness ................................................6 Congressional Corruption ........................................7

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because of race? I’m sure there are,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not the overriding issue here. Now there are some who are, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right. And I think that that’s probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol.” For some black politicians, playing the race card has become second nature. Consider New York Governor David A. Patterson. Late in August, he lashed out at critics who say he should not run for re-election and suggested that he was being undermined by an orchestrated, racially biased effort by the media to force him to step aside. With Governor Patterson’s approval ratings remaining low, some Democrats, including President Obama himself, have suggested publicly that he should make way for the popular attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, in the governor’s race. Even among black voters, his support is declining. A Sienna College poll showed that black voters, by a 46 to 38 per cent margin, would prefer someone other than Mr. Patterson as governor. David Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor, offered some blunt advice to Governor Patterson: Don’t accuse your critics of racism. “Definitely, he should get off the racist thing,” Mr. Dinkins said. While political charges of white racism appear to be aimed at phantoms, a real example of black racism in American politics has been largely ignored. In Memphis, former Mayor Willie Herenton, who is black, is

challenging Rep. Steve Cohen (DTN), who is white, in the Democratic primary. The candidates are battling to represent the Ninth Congressional District, a low-income area that is more than 60 per cent black. The district was redrawn and renumbered in l973, increasing the percentage of minority voters and for three decades it elected the state’s only black members of Congress since Reconstruction. In 2006, however, Mr. Cohen, who had long represented the district in the Tennessee State Senate, defeated a divided field of black candidates. He easily won re-election last year against a black corporate lawyer. Mr. Cohen is a liberal Democrat who considered joining the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote a national apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws and received an “A” rating from the NAACP. “I vote like a 45-year-old black woman,” he said in an interview. Mr. Herenton and Rep. Cohen do not disagree upon any major political issues. Indeed, Mr. Herenton’s only complaint against Rep. Cohen is a racial one: he is white. “This seat was set aside for people who look like me,” said Mr. Herenton’s campaign manager, Sidney Chism, a black county commissioner. “It was set aside so that blacks could have representation.” In the last election, his opponent ran a much-vilified advertisement that tried to link Rep. Cohen, who is Jewish, to the Ku Klux Klan. It juxtaposed Cohen with an image of a hooded Klansman. In a radio interview, Herenton declared: “This congressional race, you know what it’s going to be

about? It’s going to be about race, representation and power.” By Mr. Herenton’s standard -that black constituents can only be represented by a black congressman -- how would he justify President Obama, or Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, or New York Governor David Patterson -- black leaders who have largely white constituencies? Racism should be objectionable to all Americans of good will no matter who expresses such sentiments. But for many years a view has been expressed that only whites can be guilty of racism. Twenty years ago, Rep. Gus Savage (D-IL) declared that, “Racism constitutes actions or thoughts of expression by white Americans against Afro-Americans ... racism is an attempt by powerful people to oppress less powerful people ... blacks don’t have the power to oppress white people. Racism is white. There is no black racism.” Racism, sadly, is hardly a unique phenomenon among whites. Men and women throughout the world have persecuted others on the basis of race, religion and ethnic origin. The partition of British India into India and Pakistan in l947 was accomplished by the slaughter of more than one million Hindus and Moslems. In Malaysia, the political and economic power of ethnic Chinese has been curbed by law and practice. In Thailand, second generation and even third generation ethnic Vietnamese are denied citizenship rights. Idi Amin of Uganda expelled his country’s entire Indian minority. We are all
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too aware of genocide based on race or religion in Nazi Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda. Those who condemn white racism must also condemn black

racism -- and racism of every variety. The use of the term “white racism” as an epithet for those who simply disagree with President Obama’s agenda cheapens that term. It is

like the boy’s false cry of “Wolf,” which, when a real wolf appears, will be discounted. Americans of all races deserve better than this.

Crime and Gang Violence in Black America: Examining the Real and Largely Ignored Causes
On September 24, l6-year-old Darrion Albert was beaten to death in Chicago as he headed for a bus stop near Christian Fenger Academy High School where a melee broke out between feuding factions. In the beating, captured in a cellphone video, one teenager swung a plank, knocking Albert down. Others hit him as he struggled to get away. Four youths stand charged with murder. We know of this case because of the video which captured the violence which is all too typical of Chicago, and other urban inner-city schools. More than l25 people 25 and younger have been killed in Chicago this year. Chicago Public School officials say that 298 students enrolled in the nation’s third largest school system have been shot since September 2008. Because of the attention the video produced, Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former head of the Chicago Public Schools, traveled to Chicago and met with public school students and elected officials. Mr. Duncan defended his own actions in Chicago which, critics argue, led to his closing dozens of Chicago public schools and reassigning thousands of students to campuses outside their neighborhoods -- and often across gang lines. This has led to a spike in violence that has turned increasingly deadly, according to many activists, parents and students. Before the 2006 school year, an average of l0 to l5 public school students were fatally shot each year. That soared to 24 deadly shootings in the 2006-07 school year, and 34 deaths and 290 shootings last school year. At the Chicago meeting, Attorney General Holder declared that, LINCOLN REVIEW® Letter “Youth violence is not a Chicago problem any more than it is a black is published by The Lincoln Institute problem, a white problem or a Hispanic problem. It is something that for Research and Education¨ effects communities big and small and people of all races and colors. It is Post Office Box 254 10315 Georgetown Pike an American problem.” Great Falls, Virginia 22066-2415 In fact, the situation is more complex. Almost all of the teen-age A 501c(3) organization. victims in Chicago -- and almost all of the perpetrators were AfricanThe Lincoln Institute was founded in 1978 to promote individual economic Americans. The same is true in other urban inner-city school districts. We independence, traditional values, a strong ignore reality at a high price, for if we do not recognize the real problems national defense and limited government. we face, we are unlikely to resolve them. LINCOLN REVIEW & The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Inc., THE WASHINGTON POST, in its report about the Chicago violence, are duly registered trademarks quotes Mieshe Houston, 28, who grew up near the latest murder scene. J.A. (Jay) Parker, Editor & Publisher She declared: “It’s going to take a lot more than policies and police. It’s ASSOCIATE EDITORS Allan C. Brownfeld poverty, drugs, rap music, the media. There are a lot of single-parent John Fulton Lewis (1922-2006) homes and parents on drugs, so kids don’t want to be home. And when Darin J. Waters they go outside, there’s trouble.” ISSN Number 0192-5083
Subscription: $12.00 Per Year PHONE: (703) 759-4278 www.LincolnReview.com

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Crime and Gang Violence
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The dilemma of an enduring underclass in our urban areas has rarely been confronted. LINCOLN REVIEW LETTER editors J.A. Parker and Allan C. Brownfeld first addressed the issue of blackon black crime in their l974 book, “What The Negro Can Do About Crime” (Arlington House). Sadly, things have not improved since that time. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2004, 69.2 per cent of black children were born to unwed mothers. That contrasts with 24.5 per cent for white children and approximately 45 per cent for Hispanic children. Within the larger black community, progress has been dramatic. Today, half of all black families are middle-class, earning at least twice as much as the poverty line. Only one per cent of black families made that claim in l940. Rates of college graduation have skyrocketed. In l940, the out-ofwedlock birth rate for blacks was l9 per cent. In fact, at the start of the 20th century black people had higher marriage rates than whites. Yet, while progress has been dramatic for the black middle class, for an underclass which largely lives in our inner cities, out-ofwedlock birth has become a way of life, as has involvement with drugs and lack of respect for education. Only 50 per cent of black students who enter the ninth grade later graduate with a regular high school diploma. A 2004 study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard

University and the Urban Institute found that the black high school graduation rate was even lower than the 53 per cent rate of Hispanic students, many of them recent immigrants who face a language barrier. Within the 50 per cent graduation rate for black students is an even lower graduation rate for black males. Only 43 per cent of black boys graduate from high school with a regular diploma. In his book “Enough,” the respected black author and journalist Juan Williams notes that, “Official graduation rates for blacks have not significantly changed since l982. Something terrible has happened, and school officials have been hiding this festering rot behind flimsy claims that 84 per cent of black students get some version of a high school certificate. The fact is that many of these high school degrees are worthless in a competitive global economy. According to federal data, the average black American twelfth grader scores worse on basic skills than 80 per cent of white twelfth graders. There is a serious gap. It is a mortal threat to the race.” The gap between black and white students already exists when the children are entering kindergarten. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, half of black children starting kindergarten scored in the bottom quarter on general knowledge. Juan Williams laments that, “Very few leading black voices in the pulpit or on the political stage

are focused on having black people take personal responsibility for the exorbitant amount of crime committed by black people against other black people. Today’s black leaders sing like a choir when they raise their voices against police brutality and the increasing number of black people in jail. But any mention of black America’s responsibility for committing the crimes, big and small, that lead so many to prison is barely mumbled or mentioned at all.” Charles H. Ramsey, former police commissioner in Washington, D.C. (now Philadelphia’s top cop), who is black, declared: “Behavior has to change. Responsibility for your own behavior has to change. We have people who just let TV and video games and music raise their kids and instill values ... and then we wonder why we have a problem.” It is unfortunate that an accidental video of inner-city teenage violence is needed to focus attention on a continuing problem. It is ironic that when Attorney General Holder and Education Secretary Duncan travel to Chicago to address the situation, they tend to generalize the problem rather than focusing attention on the innercity underclass, an increasingly intractable problem that is largely ignored. Misdiagnosing a problem is the best way to see it perpetuated. That, it seems, is where we are at the present time.

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“Our Brother in Black: His Freedom and His Future” -- A Classic from the 19th Century by a Respected Southern Author is Reprinted
Originally published in l88l, and revised by the author in l889, the book “Our Brother In Black: His Freedom And His Future,” has been reprinted by the International Platform Association and DeWard Publishing Company (P.O. Box 6259, Chillicothe, Ohio 4560l). The book’s author is Atticus C. Haygood, who was a bishop in the Methodist Church and served as president of Emory University from l875-l884, and an early leader in civil rights in the South. Not long after Sherman’s March to the Sea, Haygood challenged the common attitude toward the role and place of black people in the region, even though equality among the races was unpopular in the South of that era. Haygood thanked providence that slavery had been overthrown, extolled the virtue of free labor over slave labor, urged increased industrialization and encouraged efforts to build a New South. In l88l, Haygood wrote “Our Brother In Black.” This book motivated a northern industrialist to endow a charity with today’s equivalent of $30 million toward the education of the newly emancipated blacks. Haygood became the executive director of this philanthropy and was able to establish and improve colleges throughout the South. In the preface to this new edition, William Haygood Shaker, great-grandson of Atticus Haygood, writes that, “Haygood’s racial philosophy draws its historical meaning within the context of his deeply held Christian values and stressed the brotherhood of all members of the human race in Jesus Christ. His insistence that the basic tenets of Christianity demanded modification of existing patterns of race relations -- helped sustain future southern liberals in their campaign for liberty and justice for all. ’Our Brother In Black’ also shows how one individual can influence society for good while at the same time putting the dimension of time into perspective with regard to major undertakings to help those involved in such tasks avoid being too discouraged.” Mr. Shaker notes that, “A United States election in which an AfricanAmerican could be elected President of the United States may not have even been dreamt by Haygood when he formally launched his campaign for equality in l880, aimed at the acceptance of all peoples as equals. In Haygood’s view humanity was a single race. ’Our Brother In Black’ has been cited as the first significant example of white racial dissent after Reconstruction, in which Haygood applied the teaching of Jesus Christ to race relations -- in today’s vernacular -- called the social gospel. Haygood used his authority as president of Emory College (now Emory University), and a leading Methodist minister to exhort the South to treat the African-American more charitably. Haygood envisioned an open and limitless future for blacks...His work -- indeed his personal funding -- to establish Paine Institute, which he described as an Emory in Ebony (now Paine College) was just one of his tangible commitments to new possibilities for blacks.” In the original book, Haygood sharply challenged those who wanted to send blacks to Africa: “If it be supposed that negroes could be persuaded to make a real ‘exodus,’ and go to Africa, or to any of these places prepared for them, it is simply a mistake. If even one man in the United States talks of enforced colonization, he should remember that free negroes, at least, have many ‘rights that white men are bound to respect.’ The right to live where it pleases them, so long as they obey the laws, is one of these rights.” At the core of Haygood’s writing and thinking is a belief that God’s hand was in the events expanding African slavery to American shores, the cataclysmic Civil War, and the ill-fated, short-circuited efforts to usher former slaves across the threshold to full citizenship. Central, too, is Haygood’s resolution that all men of faith, regardless of skin color, can share common rights and responsibilities within a single free society, working for its progress and defending its liberties. The International Platform Association was founded in l83l by American statesman Daniel Webster and Josiah Holbrook, a pioneer educator. Since its creation, IPA members have created one
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of America’s unique institutions, serving as a gateway to the world of ideas. We congratulate IPA’s

current president, Mark Rhoads, an old friend of the Lincoln Institute, for his role in bringing this classic

to a new audience of Americans. (Information about the book is at www.dewardpublishing.com.)

Political Correctness: A Growing Threat to Free Speech
Free speech is now under widespread attack in the name of political correctness. In August, Yale University Press announced that the book “The Cartoons That Shook The World,” should not include the l2 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September, 2005 and led to protests by Moslems around the world, including riots, burning and vandalism of embassies. At least 200 people were killed. Yale also decided to eliminate other illustrations of the prophet Muhammad that were to be included in a children’s book. These included an Ottoman print and a sketch by the l9th century artist Gustave Dore of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dali. This acquiescence to political correctness has been widely criticized. Reza Aslan, a religion scholar and the author of “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam,” decided to withdraw his supportive blurb from the book after Yale dropped the pictures. The book is a “definitive account of the entire controversy,” he said, “but to not include the actual cartoon is, to me, frankly, idiotic.” Editorially, THE WASHINGTON POST declared that, “Yale’s self-censorship establishes a dangerous precedent. If one of the world’s most respected scholarly publishers cannot print these images in context in an academic work, who can? In effect, Yale University Press is allowing violent extremists to set the terms of free speech. An academic press that embraces the university’s motto of ‘Lux et Veritas,’ it should be ashamed.” Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptianborn commentator who writes and lectures on Arab and Muslim issues and is a columnist for the Danish newspaper POLITIKEN, argues that, “Yale University Press has handed a victory to extremists. Both Yale and the extremists distorting this issue should be ashamed. I say this as a Muslim who supported the Danish newspaper JYLLANDSPOSTEN’s right to publish the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in late 2005, and as someone who also understands the offense taken at those cartoons by many Muslims, including my mother...” In Eltaway’s view, “Yale has sided with the various Muslim dictators and radical groups that used the cartoons to ‘prove’ who could best ‘defend’ Muhammad against the Danes, and, by extension, burnish their Islamic credentials. These same dictators and radicals who complained of the offense to the prophet’s memory were blind to the greater offense they committed in disregard for human life. (Indeed, some of those protestors even held banners that said, ‘Behead those who offend the prophet.’) Unfortunately, those dictators and radicals who want to speak for all Muslims -- and yet care little for Muslim life -- have found an ally in Yale University Press.” The Yale University Press is hardly alone in challenging the First Amendment in the name of political correctness. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which defends free-speech rights of students and professors across the political spectrum, shows how censorship is now being administered through college and university “speech codes,” which are sometimes incorporated into “codes of conduct.” These edicts ban expressions that may “offend” students by “insulting” or “harassing” them on the basis of race, religion, gender, transgender, political affiliations and views. The University of Iowa, for example, forbids sexual harassment that “occurs when somebody says something sexually related that you don’t want them to say or do, regardless of what it is.” At Jackson State University, expressions by students are banned that “degrade,” “insult,” or “taunt” others as well as “the use of profanity” and “verbal assaults” based on ethnicity, gender, and the known or presumed beliefs of their fellow students.
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Political Correctness
FIRE reports that, “77 per cent of public colleges and universities maintain speech codes that fail to pass constitutional muster” despite “ten federal court decisions unequivocally striking down campus speech codes on First Amendment grounds from l989 to 2008.” In August, THE NEW YORK TIMES reported of the treatment of the cartoonist Hergé, the creator of his adventurous reporter Tintin, who will be featured in a Steven Spielberg movie due out in 20ll. According to THE TIMES, “... if you go to the Brooklyn Public Library seeking a copy of ‘Tintin au Congo,’ Hergé’s second book in a series, prepare to make an appointment and wait days to see the book. ‘It’s not for the public,’ a librarian in the children’s room said when a patron asked to see it. The book, published 79 years ago, was moved in 2007 from the public area of the library to a back room where it is held under lock and key. The move came after a patron objected, as others have, to the way Africans are depicted in the book.” The decision to get rid of a book or restrict access to it goes to the very heart of a public library.

“Policies should not unjustly exclude materials and resources even if they are offensive to the librarian and the user,” says the Web site of the American Library Association, which adds, “Toleration is meaningless without tolerance for what some may consider detestable.” Nat Hentoff, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and one of the country’s leading advocates of the First Amendment, reports an incident at Brandeis University in which Professor Donald Hindley, on the faculty for 48 years, teaches a course on Latin American politics. In the Fall of 2007, he described how Mexican immigrants to the U.S. used to be discriminatorily called “wetbacks.” An anonymous student complained to the administration accusing Hindley of using prejudicial language. It was the first complaint against him in 48 years. After an investigation, during which Hindley was not told the nature of the complaint, Brandeis Provost Marty Krauss informed Hindley that, “The university will not tolerate inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct by members of the faculty.” Threatened with “termination,” Hindley was ordered to take a sensitivity training class.

Hentoff notes that Justice Louis Brandeis, after whom the University is named, would not be pleased. A passionate protector of freedom of expression, Brandeis wrote in Whitney vs. California that, “Those who won independence believed ... that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are ... indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth.” Do Americans any longer care about free speech and the First Amendment? In the 2008 annual “State of the First Amendment” survey by the First Amendment Center in Nashville, it was found that, “4 in l0 Americans are not able to name any First Amendment rights whatsoever, the highest figure in the ll-year history of the survey.” James Madison declared that, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” These “gradual and silent encroachments” upon free speech are now under way. They deserve the resistance and opposition that all assaults upon freedom merit, but, unfortunately, do not always receive.

The $90,000 in Rep. Jefferson’s Freezer is Only the Tip of the Iceberg of Congressional Corruption
Early in August, former Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA) was convicted of corruption charges in a case made famous by the $90,000 in bribe money stuffed into his freezer. Federal jurors found Jefferson guilty of using his congressional office as a criminal enterprise to enrich himself, soliciting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to support his business ventures in Africa. In making his closing argument before the jury, defense attorney Robert Trout attempted to put all of Washington on trial. “We all occupy the gray area -- it’s just part of our human nature,” he explained. “We’re going to make mistakes ... we may do reckless things.” To illustrate his analogy, Trout displayed a graphic for the jurors.
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On one side of a yellow line, in red letters, was the word “CRIME.” On the other side of the yellow line were the words “recklessness,” “negligence,” and “mistakes” --and a headless man in jacket and tie raising his hands in a shrug. “The point here is what members of Congress are expected to do in their jobs,” said Trout. “If seeking political help was a crime, you could lock up half of metropolitan Washington, D.C.” Trout compared Jefferson’s work to promote companies in which his family members had stakes to constituent casework, “something to be expected of our members of Congress.” Trying to persuade foreign governments to do business with these companies, he said, was part “of a congressman’s customary use of his office. It is clearly a matter of settled practice for congressmen to pitch products of American companies.” WASHINGTON POST columnist Dana Milbank, who attended the trial, noted that, “It was a bit of a stretch to suggest that Jefferson -- caught on tape demanding financial payouts and caught on film taking $l00,000 from an FBI informant -- was just doing what other lawmakers do.” While the Jefferson case is admittedly an extreme example of congressional corruption, his attorney’s defense that, in effect, “everyone does it” is not as farfetched as it may appear. Other members of Congress may not have $90,000 in their freezers, but too many are guilty of questionable activities -- making the very term “congressional ethics” something of an oxymoron.

Just as Jefferson’s trial began, we learned of Senator John Ensign’s (R-NV) affair with an aide and the subsequent payments to her family by his parents. The Senate Ethics Committee has been taking testimony on sweetheart mortgage deals given to Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Kent Conrad (DND). And consider the case of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He is now the subject of several ethics investigations over matters ranging from his occupying four apartments at below market rents in a Harlem building owned by a prominent real estate developer, and his admission that he had neglected to pay some taxes by failing to report $75,000 in rental income earned from a beachfront villa in the Dominican Republic. In June, the House Ethics Committee launched a probe into trips taken by Rangel and other lawmakers to the Caribbean. Discussing Rangel’s support for raising taxes while hesitating to pay his own, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL editorially declared: “Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel who is leading the charge for a new 5.4 percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it ‘the moral thing to do.’ About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent. Mr. Rangel promised last fall to amend his tax returns, to pay what is due and correct the information on his annual financial disclosure form. But the deadline

for the 2008 filing was May l5 and as of last week (July 27) he still had not filed. His press spokesman declined to answer questions about anything related to his ethics problems.” It is difficult to catalogue all of the charges against Rangel. The National Legal and Policy Center, for example, says it has confirmed that Rangel owned a home in Washington from l97l-2000 and during that time claimed a “homestead” exemption only applied a principal residence, and the Washington home could not have qualified as such since Rangel’s rent-stabilized apartments in New York gave the same requirement. During the trial of William Jefferson, defense attorney Trout held the Louisiana congressman up as a better man than many of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill. Jefferson “never offered or promised any earmark,” he said, reminding jurors of former Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and his “Bridge to Nowhere.” Neither, he said, did Jefferson propose any legislation to aid his business interests. “That’s how Jack Abramoff got himself into trouble -- they’re not doing that,” he said. Whether the Congress is able to monitor its own ethical behavior is a question which is being asked more and more. Members of the House Ethics Committee who are investigating a pattern of lawmakers steering federal funds to generous defense contractors, for example, have just had their own pet military projects approved by the same committee whose activities they are probing.
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The l0 committee members sponsored 29 earmarks -- $59 million in federal funding for projects they requested in their districts or states -- under a military spending bill that passed the House late in July. The bill was approved by the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, whose practice of steering earmarks to clients of a well-connected lobbying firm close to the chairman, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is the subject of the ethics committee’s investigation. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chairman of the ethics committee, would receive three earmarks under Murtha’s bill. In June, Lofgren’s

committee announced it was investigating ties between members of Congress and PMA Group, a lobbying firm run by one of Murtha’s close friends. Murtha and fellow committee members Peter Visclosky (D-IND) and James Moran (D-VA) have longtime ties to PMA and have orchestrated hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks to PMA clients in recent years. The PMA group closed after an FBI raid last year and Visclosky’s congressional records were subpoenaed in May by a grand jury investigating defense contracts. Rep. Jefferson’s $90,000 in the freezer may be a bit extreme -- and

clearly illegal -- but “earmarks” in return for campaign contributions is simply a different form of bribery, although made legal by the very Congress which participates in the practice. Congress appears unable to properly enforce any kind of realistic ethical standards. As long as members of Congress have power to influence virtually every aspect of our society, many special interests will continue to have a stake in purchasing favorable decisions. The money in Rep. Jefferson’s freezer, in reality, is only the tip of the iceberg.