Gentle Reader, do you feel I am occasionally a trifle too harsh in my comments about our duly elected officials? I know I have sometimes suggested they should all be horsewhipped and thrown in prison for abusing your votes, money, time, and above all trust, but am I just a touch too critical?
Consider the latest.
If you or I were to imitate Harvey Schweinstein, or Bill Cosby, or Larry Nassar, or any of the far too many lesser lights in the news recently who simply committed sexual harassment (as opposed to the outright assaults of Schweinstein, Cosby, and Nassar), we would be subject to both criminal charges and civil liabilities. And quite rightly, too.
Ah, but not your senator or representative.
The Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 was an attempt to half-heartedly reign in some of the more egregious abuses by some of the more egregiously randy Members of Congress, but it also specifically included the establishment of a special “fund,” of your money and mine, Gentle Reader, to cover up their misdeeds. According to various news reports, since the act became law, more than $17,000,000 (that’s seventeen-million smackeroos) have been paid out. Just in the four years between 2008 and 2012, $174,000 was paid out exclusively for sexual misconduct in the House. When you consider the extreme “official” hoops victims of sexual of abuse on Capitol Hill must go through in order to make claims against our duly elected leaders (not to mention the even more extreme unofficial pressure brought to bear by duly elected leaders who consider themselves above the law), the number of actual abuses would probably have driven that sum much higher.
This business of you and I paying for the aggressive and unwanted sexual advances of our senators and congressmen did not really sit well with the American public when they finally became vaguely aware of it in the wake of the MeToo movement, so bills were introduced to ensure lawmakers who are charged with sexual harassment, discrimination, or assault, have to pay for their misdeeds out of their own pockets.
Fancy that! Public servants having to live by the same rules as the rest of us! What a novel idea.
Unfortunately, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the idea is sooooooo novel it has stalled over which precisely which forms of conduct should be the personal financial responsibility of our elite and privileged ruling class and not paid for by all those knuckle-dragging deplorables out there who are so dumb they still think we might all be considered equal under the law. What a ridiculous notion.
Strangely enough, the fact that those bills are not making it through to become law hasn’t received the same loud braying from lawmakers with which the bills were introduced. Golly, gee, I wonder why.
Does any of this sound like, to quote Yogi Berra, déjà vu all over again? Perhaps, Gentle Reader, you’re one of the few, the very few, who were paying attention when it came to light that our elected officials were engaging in insider trading practices that would earn you or me a lengthy stay as guest of the government, but that earned the likes of Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Steve Bachus and others, countless millions of dollars.
When that information was made public, Congress made a big deal of passing a law (the STOCK Act; Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) that made it illegal for Members of Congress to engage in the insider trading that was already illegal for you and me. It was signed into law by Barack Obama with much fanfare.
What did not earn quite as much fanfare was when the same Barack Obama quietly signed a bill reversing big chunks of the STOCK Act. It is still, technically, illegal for members of Congress to engage in insider trading, but it became a hell of a lot harder to do anything about it. And in 2015, lawyers for the House of Representatives (lawyers paid for by your tax dollars, Gentle Reader) filed a brief intended to block an SEC investigation on the grounds that lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from any inquiries because of the very nature of their work. In other words, they are protected from charges of breaking the law by virtue of the fact that they are breaking the law.
If you ever get charged with a crime, Gentle Reader, I want you to try that defense. Let me know how it works for you.
So as of today—if what I understand is accurate and up-to-date—what was already illegal was made more illegal before it was made less illegal and harder to investigate before it was made immune from investigation.
If I have missed something, if I am mistaken about all this, would somebody please let me know? Until then, as I read it, you and I still foot the bill for Rep. Randy Rampant’s, uh, indiscretions.
In America, we are all equal in the eyes of the law, but some are more equal than others.