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Ugly truth about ‘Honest Joe’: Devine

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Ugly truth about ‘Honest Joe’: Devine

Now that the election is over and President Biden is installed in the White House, it’s safe for the truth about his character to dribble out. 

And what do you know? Turns out the ethical standards of “Honest Joe” aren’t worth a hill of beans. 

Starting with the obvious, Hunter Biden is still in business with the Chinese Communist Party. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted a little over a week ago that the president’s wayward 51-year-old son still owns 10 percent of Chinese equity firm BHR Partners. 

So much for Joe’s promise that “no one in my family will . . . have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country. Period. Period. End of story.” 

But that was B.E., before the election. Everything’s changed now. 

Biden watered down his family’s ethics rules immediately after the election to a vague statement about “appropriate distance” from the presidency. 

“My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise, that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict, with the appropriate distance from, the presidency and government,” he told CNN in December. 

Clear as mud. 

Joe’s younger brothers, Frank and Jim, know what the rubbery rules mean: The Biden family’s influence-peddling business can continue as before, only better, with an actual sitting president to sell. 

Frank wasted no time, with a two-page newspaper ad on Inauguration Day touting his relationship with “my brother” for the South Florida law firm which pays him as an adviser, even though he isn’t a lawyer. 

Of course, there is still that pesky issue of federal criminal investigations hanging over the heads of Hunter and Jim, another truth bomb which stayed hidden from the American people until after the election. 

But, wouldn’t you know it, on Day One as president, Joe installed the law partner of Hunter’s defense lawyer to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, the very division which is investigating his son and brother. 

“The president is committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the start of the Biden presidency. 

It’s a refrain we hear often from Biden and the White House, about just how honest and ethical he is. 

But people who feel the need constantly to tell you how honest and ethical they are in life always turn out to be quite the opposite. 

In an interview with People magazine published on Monday, the president and First Lady Jill Biden gushed that Joe was restoring “trust” in government and boasted about his unimpeachable ethical standards. 

Asked about Hunter, Joe came up with a whole new formulation for Biden family ethics rules: “No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy.” Hmmm. What happened to the ban on foreign business relationships? 

Then Joe told People a curious tale, which raised more doubts than confidence in his personal integrity: “I remember years ago an accountant said, ‘You know, you can charge part of the gas you use in the vehicle at your home.’ And I said ‘No’. 

“Here’s how I look at it: The foul line is 15 feet away from the basket. Never get me closer than 17 feet, because it really is a matter of the public trust.” 

Look, if you have a legitimate business expense, such as the fuel you use while driving for work, then you are entitled to be reimbursed, as millions of Americans are each year. Few things are more black-and-white in expense claims than gas mileage. 

Perhaps Joe is so wealthy that 57.5 cents per mile is chicken feed, but he didn’t say “No” to his accountant’s advice out of concern about the ethical ambiguity of claiming for gas, because there isn’t any. 

There is no need to move his supposed ethical “foul line” two feet further away than everyone else’s, because the rules are utterly straightforward. 

He was pretending, as he has his entire career, that he is more honest than the average Joe. 

So the only rational response to such ostentatious virtue signaling is skepticism. 

It’s not as if you have to peer far into the past to find a genuinely dubious ethical decision by Joe. 

Just last Sunday, he promoted Hunter’s new book in a CBS interview on national TV played before a Super Bowl audience of 96 million, in the very week the publisher launched the marketing campaign. 

Even Obama administration ethics czar Walter Schaub said it was wrong, in since-deleted tweets blasting Joe for joining Hunter’s “book promotion tour . . . This is not the way to model strong government ethics”. 

Nope. Nor is the fact that another hyperbolic statement of self-virtue from “Honest Joe” has fallen apart in less than four weeks. 

The immediate reaction to Biden Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo hissing “I will destroy you” at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, and deriding her with sexist vulgarities, was to send him home for a week without pay. 

It was a far cry from Joe’s Inauguration Day threat to staffers: “disrespect or talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot, no ifs, no buts.” 

On Friday, the hapless Psaki tried to justify Ducklo’s abuse as a natural consequence of Politico reporting on his “private life”. 

The penny finally dropped Saturday night and Ducklo resigned, but the delay says it all. 

Talk is cheap in the Biden White House.

Subway spree is no shock

Are we surprised that the alleged A-train serial killer is a mentally ill, homeless drug abuser whose past arrests include an alleged assault on a cop? Of course not. This is Bill de Blasio’s New York, after all. 

Rigoberto Lopez, 21, was arrested Saturday, less than 24 hours after a subway rampage in which he allegedly stabbed four people, two fatally. 

Great work by the NYPD, but he never should have been on the streets after the last four times they arrested him. 

Nor should we be surprised that the victims also were homeless. It was only 16 months ago when four homeless people were beaten to death in Chinatown by another vagrant. De Blasio did nothing and life just grew more dangerous for the city’s ballooning homeless population. 

New York has been failed by destructive criminal justice reforms from woke lawmakers in Albany, a rabidly anti-cop mayor and lax judges and prosecutors batting for the wrong team. 

They all pretend it’s compassion for the underdog that drives them, but any cop can tell you that going easy on criminals only hurts the vulnerable most.

Pelosi’s hatred poisons climate

It’s disgusting that the lawyers defending Donald Trump in his impeachment trial have had to hire private security after their homes were vandalized and their businesses assailed. 

“My home was attacked,” Philadelphia attorney Michael van der Veen told Fox News after Saturday’s acquittal. 

“My entire family, my business, my law firm are under siege right now.” 

He begged the country to “heal” from the political hatred which spawned a summer of violent riots and the storming of the Capitol. 

But there’s no chance of healing while Nancy Pelosi is House Speaker. 

She looked unhinged when she burst into her impeachment managers’ post-mortem press conference Saturday to vent her spleen against the 43 senators who voted to acquit Trump. 

They were “a cowardly group of Republicans” and losers who have “no options” for another job. 

The Speaker’s role is supposed to be revered, but Pelosi is so hooked on hatred and spite she brings all of Congress into disrepute.

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Opinion

How NYC can squeeze the rich — and have them enjoy it

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How NYC can squeeze the rich — and have them enjoy it

Let’s change the debate about casino gambling in New York City.

Forget the Atlantic City or Las Vegas model of large, noisy, neon-lit airplane hangars packed with dollar slots and poor and middle-class gaming addicts pouring their rent money into a hopeless pursuit of riches.

Instead, think James Bond at Monte Carlo. Classy joints that would never allow schlubs like us in the front door. Casinos that attract only the richest people on the planet, people who can afford to drop $50,000 in a night on baccarat or roulette and wouldn’t be caught dead in an Atlantic City or Poconos casino.

Think casinos that generate billions of tax dollars for the city and billions more in economic activity, with none of the undesirable social issues normally associated with casino gaming.

And if you’re a progressive, think about a great new way to tax the rich.

Casinos like these have existed for years in London, and they’d work just as well in the world capital that is New York.

Following the London model, New York could require that casinos be members-only private clubs and set a somewhat steep minimum for membership dues — say, $5,000. In London, these private-club casinos are limited in size, allowing perhaps no more than 100 players at a time. They are discrete, located in grand hotels behind closed doors. A small plaque is the only advertisement.

They’d have no slots — just table games. Nor venues for big-name entertainment; New York City’s got that already.

Hotels that lack their own casinos can become casino members, so someone from the concierge desk can escort a hotel guest to a casino. Think of the fat tip for some kid from Queens just starting out in the hospitality business.

These high-end parlors could be placed in iconic locations, such as the site of the recently closed 21 Club. The city could issue a request for proposals for perhaps five such casino licenses, setting rules governing size, occupancy, advertising, minimum membership fees and types of games.

Expect hotels to partner with gaming companies and bid for these five licenses. Screen the applicants and review the bids carefully — a process that would be paid for by hefty application fees. Hold an auction; award licenses to the highest bidders and start counting the money from the license fees.

Count the money from tax revenues, too. London casinos pay 15 percent in taxes. Other countries set even higher tax rates.

Count the money from the global super rich who spend more hotel nights in New York because of this new attraction, something New York’s tourism opponents always look to encourage.

Count the higher income taxes from New Yorkers who get jobs in these casinos and from everyone in the hospitality industry who benefits from an influx of rich tourists.

New York has very good hospitality programs at several schools, and they could add courses for this new concept. These would be some of the best jobs in the hospitality industry.

Yes, we’re talking about casinos for the super-rich. The rest of us won’t be able to afford them. But we’d still have Aqueduct and Yonkers, Atlantic City and the Catskills. And there’d be little competition for these places: The high-rollers frequenting our New York City private-club casinos don’t mix with the common folk in existing gaming venues. (When they do gamble here, they do it in off-the-books games, and government gets no piece of the action.)

So let’s not get hung up on arguments about equality or elitism. Let’s look at private-club casino gambling as a way to increase revenue and job opportunities, with little or none of the social downside normally linked to gambling, such as how it risks addicting and further impoverishing those who can least afford it.

And the impact of public safety is almost non-existent. Winnings and losses move by wire transfer. Who gets mugged riding in a limousine? 

With tourism, entertainment and hospitality industries in the city shattered by COVID, now’s the time to squeeze the global super-rich and give them a chance to support our schools, hospitals, social services, affordable housing, public transit and police. We can even convince them that they’re having fun doing it.

Pat Smith is a former journalist and public relations exec with no interest in casino gambling.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — Feb. 26, 2021

The Issue: The accusation by a former aide of Gov. Cuomo that he sexually harassed her on the job.

When it rains it pours, especially for Gov. Cuomo. Already on the hot seat for hiding the true number of CO­VID-related deaths in nursing homes, now he is accused by a former aide of sexual harassment (“Cuomo’s a pig,” Feb. 25).

The details already released are pretty bad. This could be the beginning of the end for him. He has, in essence, abused the power of his position to a great extent.

It’s about time he meets his fate in a courtroom. It seems like every day a new, ugly truth is revealed about him, so let justice be handed down against him to the fullest extent of the law.

Joseph V. Comperchio, Brooklyn

Obviously, Cuomo did not heed the adage that you shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.

He conducted a virulent campaign against former President Donald Trump, accusing him of being egotistical, autocratic, a sexual predator, a vindictive bully and, of course, a liar.

Now it seems the chickens are coming home to roost for Cuomo, and not a moment too soon.

Frank Brady, Yonkers

Cuomo is in deep doo-doo now. His directive caused the deaths of thousands of people in nursing homes. He’s been dancing around it, pointing fingers at others, and he may never answer for it.

But now a former aide has accused him of giving her an unwanted kiss on the lips — without warning. And that may be the end of him. It could be the first snowflake in an avalanche of accusations.

One scandal should have caused handcuffs to be slapped on him, and the other should have caused a solid slap in the face from an aide.

James Grant

Massapequa

Score one for Mayor de Blasio, a fellow Democrat in the moral minority, who is calling for an independent probe of the sexual-misconduct allegations against Cuomo.

Although I find it discouraging that the left-wing media is turning a blind eye to Cuomo’s harassment charges and liberal women leaders are not demanding that aide Lindsey Boylan has a right to be listened to.

It was a different story when allegations were made against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Trump.

The American people have a right to know the full story — not the cherry-picked version that the media chooses to report.

JoAnn Lee Frank

Clearwater, Fla.

The most revealing part of this “Cuomo is a pig” story is the hypocritical silence from the former loudmouths of the now-forgotten “Me, Too” movement.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Harvey Weinstein was the most evil person on the planet? And Hollywood turned into judge and jury for the despicable Kevin Spacey?

Impeach this creep, now.

Joe Nugent

Staten Island

After causing the deaths of thousands of the elderly and trying to blackmail people into silence, we now find out Cuomo is also an accused sexual predator.

Using his power to allegedly maul a woman shows what a low-life he really is. Why isn’t his brother reporting on this?

Too bad New Yorkers don’t have the guts or brains to remove him from office. Maybe then they could save their state.

Storm Destro

Bayonne, NJ

Lord Cuomo has been exposed for the corrupt bully that he is. It’s time to stop talking and start taking action.

We need to start the impeachment process immediately to have him removed from office so he cannot do any more damage to the great state of New York.

Gene O’Brien

Whitestone

Now that Cuomo has allegedly done some very bad things that brought dishonor to his last name, it might be time to remove the Cuomo name from the Tappan Zee Bridge, which spans the Hudson River.

The “Mario Cuomo Bridge” never sounded right anyway.

John Kirkwood

Westwood, NJ

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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De Blasio’s lame recovery plan won’t end NYC’s Ghost Town

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De Blasio's lame recovery plan won't end NYC's Ghost Town

Almost a year into Gotham’s devastating lockdown, Mayor de Blasio has announced the appointment of former school-construction chief Lorraine Grillo as “recovery czar” to, in his words, “super-charge” an economic recovery. 

But a close look at the mayor’s sad, thin recovery plan belies his commitment to the future of New York City as a locus of growth and opportunity — which it must once more be if the desolate ghost-town effect is to disappear.

In his news conference announcing Grillo’s new role, Hizzoner proclaimed the “incredible” news that the city would extend its contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to manage Kennedy airport. The contract, set to expire in 2050, will now run through 2060. This “great plan,” says de Blasio, means that “a lot of the money from JFK will go to minority and women-owned businesses. A lot of the hiring will be from the surrounding neighborhoods in Southeast Queens.” 

Indeed, people in Jamaica will continue to work at the airport, as they always have, and the renovation of terminals, runways and parking lots will surely involve the hiring of local labor, too. But so what? It’s not like de Blasio was going to take over the largest airport in the Northeast when he can’t even able to figure out a way to assume management of two Central Park ice rinks from Donald Trump. The mayor’s role in determining what happens on Port Authority property is miniscule. 

It’s a sign of how unserious de Blasio is about economic recovery that he celebrates the planned return of the city’s 330,000 municipal employees to their offices. City workers have been held “harmless” throughout the pandemic, even while many of them have had little, if anything, to do. Been to a library lately? It’s fine that they will finally be getting back to work, but only in de Blasio’s fantasies do government employees represent economic vitality. 

The key to de Blasio’s economic-development strategy is to leverage Gotham’s newfound expertise with contagious disease to make it the “public-health capital of the world.” Central to this vision is a plan to rename First Avenue, with its many hospitals and labs, “LifeSci Avenue.” This moniker may not have the romance or elan of “Museum Mile” or even “Avenue of the Americas” — but you have to give the mayor credit for trying. 

The problem is that the United States already has two cities that are “public-health capitals,” namely Atlanta and Bethesda, the homes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, respectively. Public health — as in, tracking seasonal influenza outbreaks—is important but not very profitable, which is why the federal government manages it.

Assuming that because the Big Apple was slammed by COVID we should now go into the pandemic business is a bad joke. It’s like telling Flint, Mich., to start a new company to compete with Pür water filters. 

De Blasio also wants to hire 10,000 temporary workers for a “City Cleanup Corps” to beautify the city by removing the graffiti that has steadily taken over New York’s streets and even subway cars. Of course, it was just last July when de Blasio suspended the popular and successful Graffiti-Free NYC program, after which the scourge of graffiti really exploded. The NYPD has substantially cut back vandalism-related arrests, too. So there’s another formula for economic rebirth: encourage filth and then hire the unemployed to clean it up. 

The mayor also plans to make the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, a city-funded boondoggle his wife nominally runs, a permanent office of city government. The taskforce will help “identify areas of structural racism in New York City” and “root out this systemic rot.”  

None of that will revivify a dead Midtown. Instead, de Blasio, as usual, wants to “tax the wealthy and redistribute wealth.”

Taxing billionaires to plump up social services has been an enduring strategy for the city’s political class for a long time, but it only works as long as the goose doesn’t mind waiting around to be plucked. But raising taxes isn’t a plan for growth and will only hasten the accelerating departure of rich New Yorkers for sunnier climes. 

Memo to the mayor: Reviving New York City’s stalled economy will take more than slowly bringing municipal clerks back to their desks. 

Seth Barron is managing editor of The American Mind and ­author of the forthcoming book “The Last Days of New York.”

Twitter: @SethBarronNYC

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