It was a touching announcement. It was full of dignity. It was full of memory. It was disgusting. We’re talking about Charlie Rangel’s conviction today.
Whatever Rangel did or did not do is almost beside the point. The point is that his trail was held yesterday and his conviction announced today – all after the November elections. Whether Rangel would have been re-elected or not is irrelevant. The voters had a right to know before the elections – in Rangel’s district and in every other district and state.
If anyone wants to know why the American people are so angry, if anyone wants to know where Tea Party activists and the Left and the Right should come together, it is on this. Why is it that the majority in the House of Representatives thought more of themselves than the people they are supposed to represent?
The House of Representatives majority party cared more about their own fate than providing a full accounting to the people who voted in November. The People’s House acted more like a Royalist party than the democratic institution it is supposed to be. And we are sure that if the Republicans were the majority party they likely would have done the same.
Across the ocean, the royal Prince William, son of the “People’s Princess” acted with more dignity than the elected representatives of the American people.
At the White House, the recipient of the now cheapened Nobel Peace Prize gave the nation’s highest honor to a deserving soldier who acted above and beyond the call of duty.
First the Rangel story:
“A House ethics panel has convicted Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on 11 of 13 counts of violating House ethics rules.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial of the 20-term lawmaker and nearly six hours of deliberations.
“We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law,” Lofgren said. “We believe we have accomplished that mission.”
The full ethics panel will now convene a sanctions hearing to recommend a punishment. Serious sanctions — including formal reprimand, censure or expulsion — require a vote on the House floor. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, while a reprimand, which Rangel refused to agree to in July, or a censure would need just a simple majority. The ethics panel could also impose a fine and diminish some of Rangel’s privileges.”
Congressman Rangel responded without dignity and without responsibility. With tricks aimed at a delay of justice Congressman Rangel continued to stonewall the truth:
“In an official statement, Rangel slammed the ethics subcommittee’s “unprecedented” decision, saying his due process rights were violated since the panel ruled without him having legal representation.
“How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” Rangel said. “I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanction.”
The congressman did not indicate he would seek to appeal the decision saying, “While I am required to accept the findings of the Ethics Committee, I am compelled to state again the unfairness of its continuation without affording me the opportunity to obtain legal counsel as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.”
The decision comes one day after the panel rejected an emotional plea by Rangel to delay the trial because he lacked counsel. Rangel’s team of attorneys told him they could no longer represent him in mid-October, and Rangel said he could not afford to hire a replacement right away after incurring nearly $2 million in legal fees over the past two years.
The 13 counts stem from several House ethics violations, including improperly using his office to solicit donations for a school of public policy in his name at the City College of New York, using a residential apartment in Harlem for his campaign office, failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report and failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, applauded the decision and called on Rangel to resign.
“All of Mr. Rangel’s theatrics aside, the facts were clear: Mr. Rangel violated numerous House rules and federal laws,” she said. “Whether these violations were deliberate or inadvertent, the American people deserve to be represented by members of Congress who adhere to the highest ethical standards. Mr. Rangel should resign.”
Rangel was not represented in the hearing because he walked out. Rangel has yet to explain the multiple rent controlled apartments he commandeered for his own wealthy use. The New York rent-control laws are not meant to provide cheap office space to wealthy members of congress. It is a disgusting royalist display of privilege:
“In this town of showmen, liars and big-time con artists, there has never been a more splendid vaudeville show.
It was a comedy of errors yesterday filled with surprise and farce and tragedy featuring a stunning dramatic performance by Charlie Rangel that would strain the acting abilities of the most accomplished Shakespearean player.
From grand bluster, he swung into thundering rage. Then brooding fury gave way to wincing openness. And then the wounded face of a crushed soul. Only to emerge fiery defiance.
All this from one lonely character in just a few minutes on a cramped stage in a room full of dupes.
The latest act in this endless play began yesterday, when Rangel entered the hearing room, a simple stage for his last stand.
He strolled in from the public hallway without the slightest wrinkle of worry creasing his face.
His striped tie and red pocket handkerchief were bright and cheery enough to attract hummingbirds.
On his finger, a glittering ring the size of a butter plate.
As he entered, all alone, a look of pleasant surprise crossed his face as if he had just stumbled upon his birthday party and there were so many familiar faces.
Smiling broadly, nodding deeply, winking here and there, he sauntered to the front of the room and stood proudly behind his prosperous girth.”
There was a months long, years long, delayed display of forced dignity by the committee that delayed justice for so long:
“The chairwoman began in the flat, hushed tones of a public-radio host — only to be drowned out by the sheer force of Rangel’s performance.
Denied counsel! Bankrupted by the committee! An endless two-year investigation! Justice for all! Due process!
His crimes were not as bad as they might have been, so where is the apology?
“All I’m asking for is time to get counsel,” Rangel implored with his arms flailing beside him.
And so he danced on that fissure between fact and fiction — reality and fantasy — so fluidly and convincingly that even Truth would not have known her own face in that room.”
Real dignity, came to this great republic in the form of Medal of Honor winner Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta. The award ceremony would have been more appropriate several days ago, on Veterans Day, but Obama was busy embarrassing the nation overseas.
“We know that Obama wasn’t vetted through the campaign, and now, you know, some things are coming home to roost, if you will, which is inexperience, his associations, and that ultimately harms our republic when a candidate isn’t — isn’t vetted by the media, that cornerstone of our democracy. So, you’re right, it’s not about me and whether you like my politics or not. You can push all that aside, and just pay attention to what that message is in this documentary, and that is that things have got to change for the better in the state of journalism. Otherwise, you know, it could be part of a demise of our democracy if that cornerstone erodes.”
True about Obama, true about Rangel, true about both parties and all candidates.
Across the Atlantic happy news came in the form of a proposal of marriage by the eventual King of the British Isles, to a “commoner”. Prince William, son of Princess Diana of Wales remembered his mother on this happy day.
We don’t opine on the “People’s Princess” narrative but we do know why Princess Diana’s death resonates so. She was a pretty, young woman who lived a fairy tale life – which ended in a Shish-kebab horror death. That arc of her life is one every life on this planet can easily share. We never know when Fate swoops down and cuts even the mighty down.
So it was with great joy that many received the news that dignity and love were so vividly displayed in what was once our Mother Country.
“Prince William said of their engagement: “The timing is right now, we are both very, very happy.”
Explaining why he decided to give Diana’s ring to Miss Middleton, William said: “It was my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement, and the fact that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.“
We can only hope that the wedding gift from the American people to Prince William and Miss Middleton is not a DVD collection of speeches from Nobel winner Obama nor a bag of discarded sleeves yanked off gaudy cocktail dresses.