Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rangel's Wrangles

Longtime crook, Charlie Rangel, was finally "held accountable" after it was voted upon and found that he should be censured for a number of violations. It seems Mr. Rangel, who was responsible for crafting a LOT of the current tax laws and rules, felt that those rules didn't apply to him and his little villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. Shocking, I know. And Mr. Rangel really seems to enjoy that villa of his. Why, here's a photo of him enjoying himself now!

It doesn't get much easier for political cartoonists than that. But back to the crooked congressman. He was found guilty of eleven different violations. Naturally, there were ethics violations in there as well as his not paying taxes (which seems like it maybe should have warranted a criminal investigation, but because this is Congress, I guess they do things however they want). And since he has been found guilty, there is now a punishment. Can you guess what his punishment is? I would have thought that if you're found guilty of stuff like that that they just boot you out. Corrupt politicians in Congress are not what we need. Ever. But that's not what they do. No, they voted to censure him. Wait. What now?

That's right. Censure him. If you're wondering what a censure consists of, so was I. I was really hoping that there were going to be lions involved, but sadly, there will be no lions. Maybe if Siegfried and Roy were making the rules we'd get some lions, but unfortunately, they're not. According to Wikipedia (so take it for what it's worth), "After a motion to censure is passed, the chair (or the vice-president, if the presiding officer is being censured) addresses the censured member by name. He may say something to the effect of, "Brother F, you have been censured by vote of the assembly. A censure indicates the assembly's resentment of your conduct at meetings. A censure is a warning. It is the warning voice of suspension or expulsion. Please take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly." Wait. That's it?

That's it. Mr. Rangel will stand in the well of the Senate and they will read the charges that he has been found guilty of and then they will say that he has been censured. I'm pretty sure that he gets to say something, but I'm not sure if it's required, nor am I sure if he is required to apologize. (If it is a requirement that they apologize, that's a pretty stupid requirement, as it's not like the person would actually mean it or anything.) Then he can go back to whatever it is that he does. That's it. That seems like a slap on the wrist if you're asking me. They could have voted for expulsion. Now that I could have gotten behind.

I don't get this censure thing. And I can't imagine that it's going to have any effect on the man at this point. He's been a congressman for 20 terms. TWENTY. That's unbelievable. That's also forty years, which is also unbelievable. He represents the area in and around Harlem and I'm just guessing that, based on what he has been able to do for the community, they aren't really going to care about some censure. After all, all of these charges had already been brought against him when he went up for re-election just a couple of weeks ago and he won with something like 80% of the vote. His constituents don't care about censure. And while he acts like he cares, he doesn't.

I started wondering about this censure thing and why it doesn't happen more often, given how crooked I think a lot of the politicians in Congress actually are. I know it takes a ridiculous amount of time to look into these things, but I don't know why. I didn't find the answer to that and I perused the Innerwebs looking for answers, but I did find a fairly interesting statistic regarding censure. There have only been 22 other representatives who have been censured. Um, that's not very many if you take into account how long we've actually had a Congress.

Several folks were censured for "unparliamentary language". Now, I don't know what that consists of, but whatever it is, it sounds great! Very engaging! I sure would like to see a little bit more of it on C-SPAN. Those hearings are awfully boring. They need a little unparliamentary language to liven them up a little bit. (Hell, the Taiwanese lawmakers get into fisticuffs with each other all of the time!) A couple of folks assaulted some other lawmakers. The first guy censured was a one William Stanbery who, in 1932, "...was censured for insulting the Speaker of the House." I really want to know what he said. I also really want to know what he would have had to say about Nancy Pelosi. (I'm guessing that Botox would be a theme in his thoughts, should he have been able to share them.)

But here's the other thing I learned: A guy was censured in 1921 for the unparliamentary language. It wasn't until 1979 that the next guy was censured (only this guy apparently partook in mail and payroll fraud). Not only do I find it absolutely unbelievable that there have only been 23 (counting Mr. Rangel) members of Congress that have ever been censured, I find it incredible that they could go for almost sixty years in between. Between the 1832 and that guy in 1921, there were 19 censured congressmen. Since 1921? FOUR. The last one was in 1983!

You cannot possibly tell me that there hasn't been a single crooked politician since 1983! And mind you, the two most recent censures were for "...sexual misconduct with a House page." You're telling me that everyone else has played by the rules this entire time?! Oh, please! Is anyone surprised that politicians are on the take? Is anyone surprised that they do the crooked stuff that we all know that they do? If there aren't any penalties for them other than being told in front of their peers that they've been caught and then they get sent back to work, why would they follow the rules when there is so much money to be made and power to be had?!

We need more censures. Who's up next? A one Maxine Waters looks to be on the docket for being investigated or charged or something along those lines next. Maybe we'll know how that one turns out in another sixty years or so. That would be about right, given the history of these sorts of things. I'd be willing to bet that Charlie Rangel not only runs for re-election next time, but that he wins as well. People never learn. And those that do are the ones who are getting away with stuff like Charlie Rangel did and does and probably will continue to in the future. We're so doomed.

::: Insert unparliamentary language here:::

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