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Not My People's House!
by Tom Schnieder

 

 
     

In only the second time a sitting member has been banished since the Civil War, the House voted 420-1 to expel Ohio Rep. James Traficant.

Only one vote was recorded in the nay column on the question in the House of Representative on the matter to expel James Traficant (D) Ohio. Traficant was found guilty by a jury; not exactly of his peers, on 10 different counts. Two of those jurors have since publicly stated that they now believe they made a mistake. Traficant alleges that there is no evidence and that he is the victim of a conspiracy of Janet Reno's Justice Department, The FBI, IRS, and the local judge. He asserts that all those who have testified against him were paid off or coerced by the government. But I'm not writing to discuss the merits of the case. The issue here is a question of conscience, courage, and The People's House.

Watching the three-hour event on C-Span was as enlightening as it was disheartening. It began with Ohio Republican, LaTourette's motion to postpone the vote until September 4th after the House's recess and after the trial judge could rule on a few motions including one for a new trial. LaTourette pointed out during the debate that those rushing to expel Traficant themselves stated again and again that on the question of guilt that they "don't know". (R) Dan Burton of Indiana expressed concern over the two jurors who had publicly reversed their judgements and stated that "For the life of me I don't know why we need to rush to judgement." Not a single representative would choose to answer that question directly but unwittingly one after another member of the ethics committee did answer that exact question.

One after another committee member rose to encourage defeating the motion to postpone and in each instance they prefaced their remarks apologetically stating that they did not want to rule on another member and in fact did not ever even want the committee job. They explained how it was the least desired position and that they were nearly forced into it by their party leaders. The answer of why rush to judgement became clear - they wanted the damn task behind them as they've suffered the pain of the position enough and didn't want to revisit the question after their six week vacations.

On the matter of Traficant's defense: that he was being targeted and victimized by a powerful government bureaucracy, with a vendetta, gone out of control - Dan Burton stated that he knew this kind of thing has happened in the past and does happen in the present. He didn't have the evidence in Traficant's case but he confirmed that it was a possibility. That it was possible that the colorful, bell-bottom, skinny tie wearing Democrat might be telling the truth. He urged members to vote for postponement.

On the vote to postpone there were 146 members who voted yea and 285 nay. If that was the final vote tally on the question of expulsion Traficant would remain a US Representative. That SHOULD have been the vote tally on expulsion. If those 146 members thought more time was warranted to get to the bottom of Traficant's allegations then they harbored doubts and should have voted their conscience in the final vote. But only one did. Gary Condit.

Maybe Gary Condit is only guilty of having an affair. Maybe that look in his eye was only that of a dear in the headlights. Maybe he understood something that Traficant does. Maybe his conviction and virtual expulsion by the big media forces made him understand Traficant's persecution by big government. Maybe his own banishment from the halls of power is what instilled in him the courage to vote against expulsion. Maybe that he didn't have to run for re-election after voting on behalf of a convicted felon in an age of malfeasance afforded him the freedom to vote his conscience.

Those rushing to expel Traficant endlessly referred to the Constitution and the rules of the body. But can we forget that these are the same folks who voted overwhelmingly to ignore and eviscerate the Constitution and violate their own oaths of office with the Campaign Finance sham.

"Girlie-boy" (as Ann Coulter might say) Republican, Dan Hulshof of the show-me state didn't need to see any evidence when he called the vote the Congress' "finest hour". But he made me almost sorry to be a Republican at that point. If more Democrats were like Traficant, I thought, I would be able to be a proud Democrat again. But that's not to be. It was only Republicans asking to give their colleague more time. Although Democrats regularly champion the rights of convicted criminals; from cop-killers to rapists; none seemed to care about Traficant's rights, the rule of law, or justice. Perhaps only anxious to be able to say they now voted against someone charged with obstructing justice.

Democrat Stephanie Tubbs of Ohio urged members to "forget" this, that, and the other thing Traficant stated and just vote to expel. Democrat Gene Green (from who cares where) talked about the need to "discipline themselves". He and the others with holier-than-Jim attitudes and statements miss the boat and fail to recognize what we the people actually see and know. If they want to discipline themselves they can begin by eliminating the billions of our hard earned taxes in fraud and abuse that they perpetrate on us citizens day after day and year after year.

When Representative Howard Berman was giving his final plea to expel Traficant he was raising his hands in such a way that both of his middle fingers seemed raised at the viewers. This seemed the most true and telling moment of the whole proceeding.

Is this really "The People's House"?

Eight Republicans and one Democrat voted "present". The "Would-be Nine". No - they're surely not "The Dirty Dozen". They came close. They were present - Their consciences wouldn't allow them to vote yea, but they sure didn't have the courage to take a stand.

I say this is NOT the People's House. My people are the American people. My people exude the kind of courage shown by Todd Beamer and Michael Spann. My people have the courage to face down corrupt forces, whether they're terrorists, our own government, or even the polls.

James Traficant is my people, but perhaps I should have the spinal fortitude displayed by my representative and heed the words of warning told to James Traficant, and "Watch what I say."

It is what it is - and you can watch.

***

Tom Schneider is degreed in philosophy and steeped in politics. He is founder and editor of www.JerseyGOP.com where his weekly column called "It is what it is" appears. He has recently appeared on the Fox News Channel to battle Hampshire College after it issued a statement condemning the War on Terror as 'racist and unjust'. Like P.J. O'Rourke and David Horowitz before him, he has made the transition from a liberal nut-job to a clear-headed conservative. He has just completed a coloring book about the War on Terror that features original illustrations and the President's speech from September 20th. He is currently the Director of Content Management for a national trucking and logistics company that has several online communities, and is working on a book entitled "Escape from Liberalism: How to stop being a left-wing wacko and learn to love the war".