November 25, 2008
Rangel Dangle: the Democratic Tsunami of Corruption
In an unusually blunt assessment, the New York Times as much as calls longtime, powerful Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) a crook:
Representative Charles B. Rangel has helped raise $11 million for a City College of New York school of public service to be named in his honor. In recent months, as questions have emerged about his fund-raising, he has insisted that he has kept his efforts to attract donors scrupulously separate from his official duties in Congress.
But Congressional records and interviews show that Mr. Rangel was instrumental in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company last year, while at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million to the project, the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y.
On a nutshell, shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Nabors Industries opened offices in the Caribbean to take advantage of tax shelters to duck paying "tens of millions of dollars annually," projected to be more than a billion over a decade; Rangel bitterly denounced the company in 2002-4 for doing so, even sponsoring (failed) legislation to prevent it.
But then in 2007, the CEO of Nabors, Eugene M. Isenberg, pledged a million dollars to help build the "Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y."... and lo and behold, Charles B. Rangel abruptly saw the light; and now, as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Rangel vigorously defends those selfsame tax shelters.
Not to worry, though; both Rangel and Isenberg insist "There was no quid pro quo." In fact, Mr. Rangel goes so far as to say he had no idea about the megabuck donation to the Rangel School until a year after the fact.
Yet the Times also reports:
What is clear is that Mr. Rangel played a pivotal role in preserving the tax shelter for Nabors and the other companies in 2007. And while the issue was before his committee, Mr. Rangel met with Mr. Isenberg and a lobbyist for Nabors and discussed it, on the same morning that the congressman and Mr. Isenberg met to talk about the chief executive’s potential support for the Rangel center.
In other words, Rangel flatly lied when he "maintained that he did not even know about [Isenberg's $1 million pledge] until this summer, more than a year later."
The essence of this story is not that Nabors Industries made use of a tax shelter; in fact, I'm all for tax shelters -- so long as they're open to any company, not limited to particular congressional "favorite sons." So far as I know, Nabors did nothing wrong or illegal; indeed, in 2004, the Republican 108th Congress gave its nihil obstat to those very shelters, including Nabors'. I have no reason to believe there was anything wrong or fishy about that decision.
No, the core of this story is the convoluted set of interactions between liberal idealism, ideology, and demagoguery, where raw political pragmatism always seems to triumph; administrations may go and come, but the Left abides -- whether under Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama.
In 2006, the chattering classes were all agog about "the Republican culture of corruption;" the cry likely played a great role in the terrible loss by the GOP that year, when both the House and Senate tumbled from the right to the left hand.
As the Minority Leader of the House became Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%), she kept up a bombardment of furious denunciation of the "corrupt" GOP, lumping together everything from votes that favored business in general to successful fundraising to Mark Foley's clumsy passes at former congressional aides (who were adults).
Indeed, poll after poll showed that the attacks worked, with a majority of Americans believing the GOP was uniquely corrupt, or at least far more corrupt than their counterparts on the left. After winning the congressional elections of 2006, Pelosi was still on that hobby horse:
"The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi said.
Yet without the slightest sense of irony, she proved adamant in her refusal to lift a finger to rein in the most obvious, if not biggest, example of rampant corruption and abuse: earmarks. She also made no serious effort to purge the Democratic caucus of even the most egregious examples of "cold cash for legislation" (remember Rep. William "Freezer Bill" Jefferson, still a Member of Congress from Louisiana, despite being indicted last year for corruption?)
And the Democratic response to the continuing soap opera of Charles Rangel's ethics problems? He was just unanimously reelect him as chairman of Ways and Means last Thursday. So much for "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history"... and the elite media's only reaction was a collective yawn.
They have no excuse; this story was published on the New York Times website yesterday and is on the front page of the print edition today; it is now part of "all the news we see fit to print," and it should be part of our national political dialog. So as a famous failed presidential candidate said more than a decade ago, "where's the outrage?"
Is the Washington Post going to pick up the story? They certainly haven't yet. Neither has any other major news outlet (unless one counts UPI as "major"). Nothing on the networks, not a word on CNN, MSNBC is silent; even Fox News seems to have missed the story -- which is not surprising, alas. We'll keep an eye on them to see if their consciences belatedly bait them into acknowledging this latest nigh-Jeffersonian (William, not Thomas) level of corruption by Mr. Rangel, but I doubt they will.
One would think that the elites would be a bit less reticent, given the powerful cover offered by the king of elite liberalism, the Times, which back on September 14th went so far as to call for Rangel to resign his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Evidently, however, "corruption" is defined as something that the Right does to the Left... just as liberals consistently define "racism" as something that whites do to blacks. By definition, it's not bribery if a Democrat -- especially a black Democrat -- accepts money in exchange for reversing his policy... but it's the rankest form of corruption if a Republican pursues policies, like tax cuts or the war in Iraq, that are supported by the folks who support him. (Republicans must continually prove their honesty by only supporting policies antithetical to everything their core constituencies want... which too many of them are all too eager to do.)
And equally evident is that the drive-by media are very comfortable letting the Democrats walk off with the cash register under one arm. No surprise there, either.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 25, 2008, at the time of 3:24 AM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/3358
The following hissed in response by: JGUNS
Hmm.. what could make the NY times call a DEMOCRAT a crook? "preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company last year, "
Help an OIL DRILLING COMPANY??? An UNFORGIVABLE offense for the Times! There is the one and only line folks..
The following hissed in response by: Xpressions
We know the left-wing illuminati are full of corruption, and if we needed more proof, we got it when they picked an official Clinton pardoned.
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