Posts Tagged ‘ethics’
One of the complaints lodged against conservatives by liberals, often even by libertarians, is that in matters such as abortion, drug laws, and marriage laws “you can’t legislate morality,” they claim that though they personally oppose one or all these things, it really comes down to a personal choice of the individual and the government should stay out of it. But their hypocrisy is exposed when you talk about some of the things they want to legislate, such as requiring all to pay into government “charity” in the form of welfare, limiting access to firearms, dictating what type of medical insurance you can or must have, what kind of food your children can have, and a myriad of other “nanny state” doctrines.
This liberal ideology forces people to do and/or pay for things that they are opposed to, and takes away their personal choice. So how do they justify this? By saying it is “right,” “just,”, “fair,” meaning of course, moral. So they are perfectly willing to legislate morality, as long as it is their brand of morality. I have even heard a Christian liberal in my church say that these things are all in alignment with Christ’s command to love others and to care for them. I guess he doesn’t mind that forced charity is not charity at all, or that free will was endorsed by Christ, or that there are better ways of doing this than having the government do it.
My libertarian friends on the other hand would tend to agree with the liberals on the items in the first paragraph, and with me on the items in the second paragraph. And that is good in that it is at least consistent. However, libertarianism is pretty much “anarchy-lite;” it is basically opposed nearly all laws and to anything that presumes to define what is acceptable or unacceptable in society.
A conservative looks at all laws and taxes with a critical eye, yet they recognize that to have civil society requires some laws and the taxes to support them. All but a true anarchist agree that laws are needed to protect against violence, define protected property rights, provide for honest commerce, and protect against government abuse of personal rights. Conservatives recognize that there are legitimate reasons to have other civil laws, such as highway standards, building codes, professional certification, and traffic laws.
The real hypocrisy of saying that you can’t legislate morality is the simple fact that any law that protects people from the rule of the strongest is in fact a legislation of morality. Morality is the core basis of civilization.
November 15, 2010
The New York Times
The House ethics committee ruled on Monday that there was evidence to support 13 counts of misconduct by Representative Charles B. Rangel, and began considering whether to formally convict and recommend punishment against him.
The ruling came after a dramatic and puzzling appearance by Mr. Rangel, 80, in which he protested that he could no longer afford to pay his lawyers, and indignantly walked out of the proceedings, calling them unfair.
Committee members were unmoved. Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, noted dryly that Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, was responsible for paying his lawyers and that he had been advised by the committee beginning in 2008 to form a legal defense fund to do so.
With Mr. Rangel absent, the panel listened to its chief counsel as he methodically presented the evidence against Mr. Rangel, which was based on 549 exhibits, dozens of witness interviews and thousands of pages of financial documents. Members then met in executive session and later announced they had found the facts in the charges against Mr. Rangel to be “uncontested.”
Those charges included accusations that Mr. Rangel had accepted rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan developer, failed to pay income taxes on rent from a Dominican villa and solicited charitable donations from individuals with business before Congress.
Mr. Rangel’s decision not to mount a public defense startled some members of the committee; he has been publicly expressing his eagerness to tell his side of the story for more than a year, and promising his constituents that he could disprove the accusations.
But the walkout spared Mr. Rangel the embarrassment of being publicly confronted with the unsavory details of the case.
And, given that he has not sufficiently challenged the accusations against him, his strategy allowed him instead to plead his case in the court of public opinion by questioning the legitimacy of the process.
“I am being denied a right to have a lawyer right now because I don’t have the opportunity to have a legal defense fund set up and because I can’t afford another $1 million,” Mr. Rangel said before making his hasty departure. “I truly believe I am not being treated fairly.”
An ethics subcommittee is scheduled to reconvene Tuesday morning and consider whether to formally find Mr. Rangel guilty on each of the 13 counts. If he is found guilty on any of the charges, the entire ethics committee would deliberate on a suitable punishment, which ethics experts say would most likely be a letter of reprimand or a formal censure. While the committee has the power to expel, that has happened only rarely and is considered highly unlikely.
Whatever the outcome of the case, the spectacle of the hearing marked a steep downfall for Mr. Rangel, who for decades has been a towering figure in Washington and New York politics. His tenacity, distinguished military record, quick wit and fund-raising prowess made him one of the most popular and mighty Democrats in . He rose to be chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee ,in 2007, but stepped down from that post last year amid ethics accusations.
Mr. Rangel’s complaint on Monday that he could no longer pay for a lawyer frustrated some members of the committee, and underscored the way the case has dragged on. According to campaign finance reports, Mr. Rangel has already paid $1.6 million to a law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder. But the firm dropped the case last month, after the congressman said he would not be able to pay the estimated $1 million to finish the case.
Ms. Lofgren pointed out that Mr. Rangel, who has significant assets according to his amended financial disclosure report, could find another way to pay for his defense.
“There is no prohibition on an individual using their own funds to pay for counsel,” she said.
After his departure from the hearing room, even Mr. Rangel’s trademark bravado was used against him. In August, Mr. Rangel rankled members of Congress by taking to the House floor to apologize and demand that the public hearing be concluded before the November election. In summarizing the case against Mr. Rangel on Monday, committee lawyers played several clips from that speech in which the congressman admitted wrongdoing but asked for leniency
“I don’t think that apologies mean that this is a light matter,” Mr. Rangel said in one clip played at the hearing, his booming voice filling the hearing room even in his absence. “This is serious.”
Documents released by the committee Monday also provided new details about one of the most serious charges against Mr. Rangel — that he solicited donations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College from people with business before the Ways and Means Committee.
Exhibits posted on the committee’s Web site show that Mr. Rangel and his staff were soliciting executives of Verizon for a major contribution at the same time that the company was seeking legislative help.
The documents also corroborated that Mr. Rangel’ s committee was instrumental in extending a lucrative tax break to Nabors Industries, an oil drilling company, while the congressman was asking its chief executive for a $1 million donation.
Other records released undercut Mr. Rangel’s claim that he had been unaware that he had earned rental income from his Dominican villa: in one letter he instructed the Punta Cana Yacht club, which managed the villa, to deposit the money in his personal bank account.
During the proceedings, there were subtle signs of partisan divisions on the committee. Republicans sought to highlight the evidence against Mr. Rangel, while two Democrats suggested the congressman’s errors were inadvertent.
Representative G. K. Butterfield, Democrat of North Carolina, asked the committee’s chief counsel, R. Blake Chisam, whether any of Mr. Rangel’s alleged misdeeds had brought him financial gain.
“Do I believe, based on this record, that Congressman Rangel took steps to enrich himself based on his position in Congress?” Mr. Chisam replied. “I do not,” he said, then added that Mr. Rangel was “at least sloppy in his personal finances.”
But for all the detail in the committee’s reports, a key question remained unanswered: Why the charges involving Mr. Rangel’s four rent-stabilized apartments at Lenox Terrace in Harlem focused solely on one unit, which he used as a campaign office. Mr. Rangel and his wife were also allowed to live in the three other rent-stabilized apartments, at rents hundreds of dollars per month below market rates, but the committee declined to charge him with violations on the ban on House members accepting gifts of more than $50 per year.