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Rangel, Waters, ethics and Congress

Our Readers Who Comment are having a wonderful time this morning bashing Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and congressional ethics in general as they ponder a Ruth Marcus column that asks "What is wrong with these people?" and says the tempting answer is "They're members of Congress."

Many readers are appalled at what they see in Congress generally as Rangel and Waters face trials in the House ethics committee. Some complain that only Democrats are being targeted. There are the ever-popular calls for term limits. Many readers suggest that Rangel and Waters will use the "race card" in their attempts to avoid punishment, an argument Jonathan Capehart find ridiculous.

But as Marcus writes, "...there is something in the congressional atmosphere of compliant aides and fawning courtiers that enables and encourages their sense of ordinary-rules-don't-apply-to-me entitlement. The longer they stay... and the safer their seats, the sloppier they tend to get, and the more there tends to be an unseemly merger of the personal and the official."

We'll start with two rather different positions on the question.

ZnanaB asked, "Why have a 'trial' after all. You seem to have convicted these two already. Why not wait to hear their side of the story?"

While BuyAmerican wrote, "Both of these individuals have been caught red-handed and they still don't have the class to resign. If the democrats dont want to loose the house in November they better get busy and take out the trash."

staterighter said, "Poster children for Term Limits. Of course as long as they continue to send "earmarks" to key supporters they will remain in office. There is more than enough corruption to go around."

viejo70 suggested that "With both of them being black and members of the black caucus, any threat against them will be deemed racist. If a white non-member of any government organization were to do what Rangel did I would go to jail for tax evasion where they will be judged by their peers. As the story goes they will live happly ever after."

bjrboyd said, "They're both crooks. But, the question is, will the race card save them?"

kstack wrote, "Okay, I am willing to admit that many House members swim in a soup of tainted money, and latch onto it in ways that are problematic.
So how is it that the only two Reps facing ethics charges are a) black and b) Democrats?"

mirrorgazer opined that "...if either of these so-called leaders plan to play a race card in the current political environment, most voters (taxpayers) are too weary to fall for it. Maybe political correctness is on the wane. Nothing like a country's citizens losing their livelihoods to put things in perspective about who we'll elect to lead us."

Listening2 said, "It is called arrogance. Rangel and Waters have been in Congress so long they forget and think they own the place. Maxine Waters has done a lot for her district and she really cares, however, what she did was unethical and possibly a crime. She and Rangel should suffer the consequences of their actions. It is time for Rangel to retire, too bad he is going this way, but these are the consequences of his behavior."

poster1231 was one of several who asked, "Why do you insist on making this about conservative v progressive? [Rep.] John Ensign [R-Nev.] is in trouble for payoffs and breaking federal laws around lobbying (all to cover up an extra marital affair). [Sen.] Tom Coburn [R-Okla.] just turned over evidence. Ensign's aides are testifying against him. He's a conservative. This has nothing to do with progressive/conservative. It's just about being honest or not."

sun52shine wrote, "Believe non of what you hear, 25% of what you see and none of what you read in the newspapers. A person is innocent until proven guilty. Just because the ethnics committee said does not make it so."

jdonner2 said, "The Washington culture of entitlement goes far beyond Rangle and Waters and the House. It extends to the entire Washington political class, the politicians, ex politicians, political consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, staffers and "journelists" in Washington. How is it that a city that produces nothing is the center of the richest metro area in the Country. You all live off the taxpayes money and the billions upon billions that you extort from the rest of the Country as the price of keeping Washington off our collective backs."

jkk1943 wrote, "I have some respect for Rangel. He is a decorated Korean War Vet and although I don't like his liberal politics, he seems like a decent man that made some serious mistakes. Waters, on the other hand, seems totally inept if not brain dead. I looked at some of her performances on YouTube the other night. Life imitating art; staright out of a Saturday Night live skit mocking Congress."

jkk1943 said, "We need to clean house, establish term limits and reduce their perqs, especially the Congressional Fleet of Jets. The thought of Pelosi jetting back and forth between DC and SF on her own private plane as she touts herself as a tribune of the downtrodden is chuzpah elevated to an art form. This has to stop. Thank God we will have a chance to turn things around this November."

gasmonkey wrote, "Marcus, you are dead right...This behavior is RAMPANT. If you work for an agency, it is common practice for Congressmen to contact the agency to strongarm them into giving contracts to their constituents, or prevent them from terminating contracts to their constituents. They ALL do it, because they all think those ethics rules are for someone else."

We'll close with thesilverback, who asked, "Haven't the lot of you grown tired of the Dems are better than Reps and Reps are better than Dems arguments? Are you guys really that unaware of reality that you believe so firmly that one party is better than the other? Anyone with any sense would register as an Independent, think and research before voting, and then vote for an individual rather than a party... It's time to separate yourselves from the herd and think independently."

All comments on this column are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 4, 2010; 8:50 AM ET
 | Tags: Congress, Ethics, House, Rangel, Waters  
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"Many readers suggest that Rangel and Waters will use the "race card" in their attempts to avoid punishment, an argument Jonathan Capehart find ridiculous."

Gosh, Doug, that's not at all what Capehart wrote, is it? He argued that it is "absolutely ridiculous" for some, including Rep. James Clyburn and a CBC staffer, to claim that blacks are being "targeted" in the ethics probes. Why would Rangel and Waters ever publicly make that claim when they have proxies to do it for them?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | August 10, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The Congressional Black Caucus should be vocal in seconding Pelosi for not standing in the way of the draining of the swamp. What a shame it would be for them to rationalize these legislators' behavior. Gee, wonder which way they'll go. . .

Posted by: bitterblogger | August 4, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

It would be such a convenience if all Washington crooks came from the same party but unfortunately they don't. Regardless of party affiliation we as Americans should always call for the resignation of those who abuse their power.

We should also remember that a few rotten apples is no indication that every apple is bad. Abusing politicians will always be with us and we should always insist that they leave office and face prosecution.

Posted by: TomMiller1 | August 4, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I’m very proud of the Democratic Congress, they are doing what they said they would do “drain the swamp”. It’s a welcome change from the Republican Congress that created exemptions for their members even after the committee exposed their guilt. Nice job Nancy.

Posted by: pooorpeddler1 | August 4, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: stevebaker4 | August 4, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: stevebaker4 | August 4, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe that either Waters or Rangel should quit their jobs because a Republican judge has decided that they should stand trial. I further believe that all persons are considered innocent until they are found guilty.

Let them have their day in court like all tax paying citizens and all Republicans are entitled. Let the evidence speak for itself. Those writing these types of articles should stand ready to write an apology when they are both cleared of wrong doing.

Posted by: sun52shine | August 4, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Charles Rangel, is more likely a croock latin american politician, I am very sorry to see the quality of many member of the new USA congress.

Posted by: pilinosilva | August 4, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Democrats promised to reside over an ethical Congress. If they had ignored the alleged transgressions of Rangel and Waters it would be fair to call Dems on it. Instead, they have pursued two members of their own Party. They are following through on their promise.
Republican ranks are rife with ethical transgressions(Vitter, Ensign, Sanford et. al) that Republicans have neither pursued nor repudiated. It's an old theme. Republicans went after Whitewater with Clinton, a real estate deal gone bad, but were unperturbed by Iran-Contra, a Reagan transgression that had wide policy implications.
It's stunning to read these comments, too, about reverse discrimination. There are very broad avenues available in which to discuss ethical lapses long before race need be brought in. That so many people reflexively make this about race is very telling. And disturbing.

Posted by: jmk833 | August 4, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Hang 'em high!

Posted by: JAH3 | August 4, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

It appears to me that we've all jumped the gun. As will all of us, those of us think those with privilege need to follow the same rules we do. In these two cases, we have the release of information that certainly on its face is damning. However, let the process determine if there is wrongdoing, and then after that, we should be able to say up or down how we feel wrongdoers are going to have punishment delivered. I feel that the issue is the specific charges - and that this business of branding by race is convenient for grabbing headlines - such as the writer of an article has done in the recent murders by a disgruntled employee caught stealing from a company - and thus the remarks now after murdering 8 people center around racisim. It may be that there had been such conduct, but we don't know - none of us - so to pull that card out of the deck - well, how convenient, timing is everything.
Government servants who end up with the financial privileges that seem to be attributed to senators and congressmen and women who don't walk the walk, but take from all of us is a disgusting arrogance that is becoming common place and, if left unchecked will definitely lead to anarchy -it's not if, but when. Different rules for public servants than those who pay the bills - such as the Bell city manager, councilmen/women, chief of police are probably and indication of why the public distrust is growing by leaps and bounds.
The justice part of the misdeeds with the annointed public servants is way off the mark for the wrongdoers - and sends a message to all of us - me first, to hell with you. I say enough already - make all people responsible for their actions no matter who. Sending billions of dollars out of this country for aid when we have many issues here at home - well, it's so outrageous I can't understand the apathy of no backlash. We borrow billions fo fight a war - and yet we at home are starving, homeless - we have many, many issue here that need our financial help. This is the age of irresponsibility - just soak up the information. Very few, if any, wrongdoers accept their responsibility for their illgotten gains - Madoff, Enron, The banking system who allowed the real estate manipulation - the list is endless. The only thing that is not endless is yours, you and me, our ability to pay for others' mistakes and greed. It will stop, with or without intervention - the real question is: Who will suffer the consequences - us or the wrong doers. My guess - it's us.

Posted by: dennispeyton | August 4, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The gall to make this a partisan issue. The reality is that Congress and the Senate in particular are bought and paid for by their big Corporate benefactors
and no longer actually govern for the country as a whole but for the benefit of their backers.

Posted by: handselsf | August 4, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

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