Thursday, January 5, 2017

They Govern By Night

Hello, dear reader. I'm Dave-El, your humble blogger and I am faced with a conundrum. You see... oh boy, how can I put this?... 

You see... 

(Just spit it out, Dave-El.)  

Donald Trump said something I agreed with. 


There! I said it! 

I mean, I don't know what to do but... damn! 

OK, maybe I better start at the beginning.  

OK, so Congress was getting ready to start a new session with the Republicans once more firmly in charge and the first order of business was...

Health care? No.

Taxes? No.

Education? The military? Energy? Cyber security? 

No. No. No. Annnnnnd... No.  

The priority for the House Republicans was to undermine the Office of Congressional Ethics, an oversight non-partisan watchdog that investigates unethical behavior no matter who is doing it. What the measure proposed on Monday was to make the OCE answerable to the House Ethics Committee and removing much of its authority to do anything. 

In other words, you're putting the arsonist in charge of the matches and throwing away the fire extinguisher.   

I should point out how this particular shit ball formed: 

  • During a closed-door meeting.
  • Via a secret ballot.
  • At night.  
  • With hooded robes and torches.

I may have made up that last part. 

Oh, and the instigators of this measure had been investigated by the OCE in the past. 

So... nothing to see here, folks.  

House Speaker Paul Ryan among others in Republican leadership counseled against this stealth legislation but it got pushed through anyway. 

Cue shit hitting fan. 

The Democrats were pissed and made a lot of noise about this. If Donald Trump was all about #DTS... you know, Drain The Swamp... how is stripping an ethics watchdog of its authority supposed to do help with that? 

A lots of people erupted in outrage that the Republicans first order of business was to nuke their own independent ethics office under cover of darkness. Given the extremely politically divided times we live in, the outcry on Twitter was astonishingly one sided. 

Then one more person went on Twitter to make his feelings on the subject known:  

 "With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS."

Donald Trump said that. 

And oh God help me, I agree with him. 

OK, I may have an issue with the part where he says of the OCE "as unfair as it may be". There may be some concerns that the OCE's processes may need improvement but any changes to the OCE has to be bi-partisan. 

So the measure to gut the OCE was reversed.  

How much credit can be given to Trump for this reversal is debatable. The rising tide of angry voices was already pushing Congressional Republicans towards reversing their earlier vote before Trump got involved. (How much credit will Trump take is not debatable; the answer is probably all of it.)

But the immediate and fierce reaction to the Republican's stealth effort to remove ethical oversight demonstrates something the GOP should keep in mind. They may control both houses of Congress and the White House. But the people are watching and they will be heard. And just because that guy in the White House is in your party doesn't mean he's going to go your way.  

To close, I want to reference Todd Boulanger who actually did prison time after a Congressional ethics investigation. He is certainly no friend of the OCE and would love to see it done away with. But then he added this: "You have to have complete shit for brains to do it day one of a new Congress." 

That explains so much about how Congress works. Thanks, Todd.

That's all for this post. I'll be back with a new post tomorrow where things will be back to normal as I review the continuing litany of stupid things Trump has done and said.

Until then, remember to be good to one another.

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