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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 6, 2005 / 27 Nisan, 5765

Have congressional seat, will travel

By Rich Lowry


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The argument that "everybody does it" is usually the first refuge of a scoundrel. But in the travel-related ethics case embroiling Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, it is largely true. When it comes to trips funded by private interests, DeLay isn't even a particularly blatant abuser. Throughout the past four years, DeLay has ranked 114th among all representatives in the number of trips taken.


The scandal here isn't DeLay so much as a system designed to get representatives and their spouses free trips to gay Paree and other desirable locations, even as they pretend to labor under a strict ethics regime.


The House rules prohibit travel funded by lobbyists. That would be unconscionable. But they permit travel funded by corporations, trade associations and nonprofits, with lobbyists allowed to accompany lawmakers for the trip. The rules prohibit representatives from accepting gifts exceeding $50. That would be wrong. But they permit unlimited spending on representatives — and their family and staff — if they are on a corporate-funded "educational" trip. Golly. It almost appears as if Congress has created a system with an enormous loophole to satisfy its members' lust for all-expense-paid luxe travel.


According to The Wall Street Journal, corporations and trade associations sponsored nearly 2,000 trips last year for members of Congress and their staff, at a cost of $3 million. Total privately funded travel since 2000, including from corporations and nonprofit groups, has been $16 million, reports PoliticalMoneyLine. The top five trip-makers are all Democrats. This isn't because Democrats have a stronger taste for perks than Republicans. It's just that the minority party — free of the burden of governing — has more time for sunbathing and sightseeing.


Certain locales must be particularly "educational" judging by how often representatives travel to them on someone else's dime. Florida, Arizona, the Caribbean and Italy are apparently all meccas of learning. It's a wonder anyone ever goes to Cambridge, Mass., to get an education, as opposed to, say, Boca Raton, Fla., or Scottsdale, Ariz. Wives often accompany their congressional hubbies (or vice versa in the case of congresswomen), apparently because it is so important that they too be "educated." Ordinarily, of course, when a couple jets off to somewhere nice, it's called vacation. In January, according to The Wall Street Journal, 40 lawmakers and staffers — including DeLay and his wife — were flown to Hawaii and put up at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel by the American Association of Airport Executives. There were sessions for a conference on airline issues in the morning, then the rest of the days were free so representatives could brush up on their snorkeling, essential to their ability to govern knowledgeably.


This is a rotten system. One of the reasons it exists is that the life of a representative — running from congressional vote to congressional vote in Washington, and then Rotary Club to Rotary Club at home — is hardly glamorous. Free vacations make it more tolerable, especially for the spouse.


But if a representative can't take a $51 gift, he or she shouldn't be able to take free $10,000 trips. What difference does it make if such a jaunt is paid for by the American Association of Airport Executives or by one of its lobbyists? The current rules are ripe for abuse, which is why a few Democrats are now in a similar situation as DeLay — the lobbyist Jack Abramoff initially paid for their trips against the rules, although the Democrats, like DeLay, say they didn't know.


Private trips should be prohibited. That doesn't mean representatives have to give up their passports. Travel can be genuinely educational, and worthwhile trips should be publicly funded. The burden of having to justify "taxpayer-funded" trips will be a check against excesses. Travel, then, will probably be to destinations like Darfur instead of Daytona Beach.


If Congress adopts such a reform, something good could come of the otherwise unedifying DeLay kerfuffle. Of course, free-travel-addicted members of Congress and their spouses might never talk to him again.

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© 2005 King Features Syndicate

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