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The House GOP Fumbles

After pressure from President-elect Donald Trump, media, and Democrats, House GOP members backed down from a plan to “gut” the legislative body’s internal ethics office. The New York Times reports:

The reversal came less than 24 hours after House Republicans, meeting in a secret session, voted, over the objections of Speaker Paul D. Ryan, to eliminate the independent ethics office. It was created in 2008 in the aftermath of a series of scandals involving House lawmakers, including three who were sent to jail.

Republicans, led by Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, had sought to prevent the quasi-independent ethics office from taking up investigations that might involve criminal charges and they wanted to grant lawmakers on the more powerful House Ethics Committee the right to shut down any of the inquiries. They also wanted to block the small staff at the Office of Congressional Ethics from speaking to the news media.

“It has damaged or destroyed a lot of political careers in this place and it’s cost members of Congress millions of dollars to defend themselves against anonymous allegations,” Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, said Tuesday, still defending the move.

It looks like GOP house members are less interested in draining the swamp than in declaring it a protected natural wetland. Even so, these things are sometimes more complicated than they look. The government is full of bureaucracies with noble-sounding titles that they don’t live up to their names or mandates. Since the Progressive Era, ethics monitors and the like have proliferated across the country. But it’s not clear how much cronyism they’ve actually eliminated. And it is clear that they make life harder for honorable politicians and other public officials.

Still, it is up to Congress to convince the skeptical public that it is putting the general interest ahead of the parochial interest of its members. This is not the way to get that job done. It’s also a sign that Republican legislators would do well to tread carefully as they seek to understand just what sort of mandate they were handed in November.

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  • Pait

    The president-elect didn’t object to closing down the ethics office; he only complained about the priorities. Indeed, declaring their intention of committing unethical acts in advance was bad timing. Steal 1st, then cover up, is more profitable.

    • JR1123581321

      Democrats tried to curtail that same office in 2010 after CBC complained that its members were frequent target of it probes. Let
      s not pretend that Democrats are somehow saints who never took a dime and paid all their taxes on time. Counterexamples abound.
      P.S. I’m glad we got one more leftist in here. You are different from Comrade Friendly Goat. That alone is a plus.

      • Dale Fayda

        He doesn’t have the same degree of staying power nor the obstinate obtuseness of the insane which FG possesses. But change is good…

        • JR1123581321

          You ask for Comrade FG, you shall GET Comrade FG!!! I’m genuinely excited to read him. His tears are REALLY yummy. I’m way too old and too married to be a troll in real life, but on Internet, no one knows you are a dog.

          • FriendlyGoat

            If only your kids were getting the real education from the real dad. Many parents worry about what their kids do on the Internet, and seek to monitor them. We’d have a better country if the kids were monitoring the parents.

          • JR1123581321

            Well, I’d like to think I do an OK job at being a dad. Some days are definitely better than others. But my wife seems to think I do a good job and kids hug me and call me Daddy. I guess I’ve done something right about educating my kids.
            BTW, did I ever mention how creepy you are? “We’d have a better country if the kids were monitoring the parents.” I mean, you wrote that. You wrote something out of Orwell’s 1984, something that was meant to be truly horrifying to the reader, as a GOOD THING. All I got to say is Wow.
            It also makes me feel really thankful, because if not for the Grace of God, you would have had real power with real ability to really hurt people. Sorry, didn’t mean to trigger you with the whole God thing. Before you know it, I would be wishing biblical plagues to come down on Obama and Kerry, and you will get all teary eyed and try to have me banned. Again. I mean, you tried to ban somebody from an anonymous Internet message board. But was I afraid??? No, I was not afraid. The wrath of the mighty Comrade Friendly Goat did not deter me. I’ll let Isaiah 54:!7 explain.
            I’m partial to King James version myself. i feel it gives the passage the necessary gravitas.
            “and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. ” Oooooof, talk about being on the wrong side of history, huh?

          • FriendlyGoat

            You are probably a good dad when you are playing the dad act. I wish you talked to me and to other people here with the same filter you would impose on yourself for benefit of the wife and kids. That’s the point. You just admitted that on the Internet you can be a dog and no one in reality has to know. How did I have the misfortune to run onto you in your “dog” mode when you are apparently capable of not being a dog at all in other acts of life?

            As for kids monitoring the parents on the Internet, I seriously do think we’d have a better country if the folks’ actions and words were open books to the kids—–for reasons above.

            On religion and scripture, there is nothing wrong with quoting it for edification. There is a lot wrong with quoting only “God is gonna get ya” verses as a form of contempt for Obama, Kerry, me or anyone else. Until I met you here, I have always held actual Jewish people in high regard and I seriously do not understand why you are so willing to embarrass the rest of them with your style of commentary.

          • Disappeared4x

            Until I read your comments here, ‘Alabama’ was not yet a liberal’s synonym for ‘racist’, but as that fictional liberal mayor of NYC said in the eponymous 2002 rom-com: Mayor Kate Hennings: “Why don’t you go back to your double-wide and fry something.” Melanie Carmichael: [“decks” Kate] “Nobody talks to my Momma like that!” Earl Smooter: “Praise the Lord, the South has risen again!”

            ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (2002) More Quotes:

            Mayor Kate Hennings: “There is nothing wrong with poor people. I get elected by poor people.”

            Mayor Kate Hennings: [smacks mosquito] “One down, a six million to go. ”
            Earl Smooter: “Careful, you just killed the state bird of Alabama!”

            Mayor Kate Hennings: “What ever happened to responsible journalism?”

            Jake: ” Honey, just cuz I talk slow doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”


          • FriendlyGoat

            If only ‘Alabama’ had been mentioned here, this might (might) make a little (little) sense. Since it wasn’t, I’ll just assume that when you do attempted drive-by shootings—–you tend to miss.

          • Disappeared4x

            FG: apology for not seeing you as a blind bigot who wrote: “I have always held actual Jewish people in high regard and I seriously do not understand why you are so willing to embarrass the rest of them with your style of commentary.”
            No response please, am still traumatized by your blatant, albeit blind, bigotry.

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s not lost on me that more than two thirds of Jewish Americans went for Obama twice and most recently quite heavily for Hillary Clinton and that 99.999999% of them do not hang around comment sections being intentional twits on a middle school level. JR is an outlier. If you insist on identifying yourself as such an outlier too, so be it. I am planning to go forward holding Jewish people in high regard as I always have. I do not plan, however, to be intimidated by him or by you—-since you’re both behaving very uncivilly. First him—–now you.

            JR berated me ridiculously on every subject for months on end before he ever even mentioned his religion. I became quite “bigoted” against daily assault from an individual on the Internet who would no more display that meanness to people in real life than he would fly. I was shocked to find out—–perhaps after a full year or more of enduring trash talk—-his religious persuasion. Based on my experience with him, I would have sworn he was a God-hater to the core—–because he was a hater to the core with me. Judaism is more than this. If you need to be told that, I’m tellin’ ya.

          • Disappeared4x

            FG, more apologies to you, the commenter-snowflake. Many of us ‘Jews’ have been brutalized online, with death threats on top of the ‘deplorable labels’, since 2008, simply for refusing to passively join the echo chambers where you reside.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, you didn’t have that problem from me. So stop acting like you did.

          • Disappeared4x
          • Disappeared4x

            Thank you so much for complaining to TAI about me, from your keyboard to G-d’s ears.

          • FriendlyGoat

            It takes a lot of inappropriateness for me to flag a comment and it takes a lot for a TAI moderator to remove one. You managed to get there with your graphic.

          • Disappeared4x

            Good to know no accommodation for humans who read maps and think in images, coaxing words to form.

            Disqus makes it very difficult to edit images out.

            Enough hate here, some day will figure out how to flag, meanwhile avoid the triggers.


          • FriendlyGoat


          • Disappeared4x

            cruel and unusual punishment.
            reading organizational charts for SecState and SecDef.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I have to admit you are losing me with this. I like the “be kind” part and wish we were there.

          • Disappeared4x
      • f1b0nacc1

        Setting the bar a bit low, aren’t we?

  • FriendlyGoat

    First of all, congrats to TAI for the wordsmithing about apparent Republican interest in declaring the swamp a protected wetland. Good one.

    Some say it was public outcry more than the Trump tweet which caused this to be turned back. I would say the outcry likely caused the Trump tweet and they both influenced the Congress. But, in any event, there are positives in this:

    1) It’s good to see the GOP declaring on day one that it intends to perform under-announced screw-overs when possible. Those folks who did not already know the nature of this House might as well find out. Day One was excellent timing
    2) It’s great to see them already being heeled by Big Don blowing the tweet whistle at them.
    3) It’s wonderful for their opening day news to be a fumble and a flop.
    4) It’s instructive to realize that ordinary citizens may be able to pull Big Don’s chain. (First of all, you can call him Big Don.) But, every time citizens see a load of junk coming—-which will be nearly every day for a while—–they can do their own tweet storms to this effect: “Hey, Big Don. Where’s your Tweet to stop _______________? Do you know what the hell you’re POTUS for”?
    We would be remiss by neglecting to taunt Trump in Twitter public.

    • JR1123581321

      Dude, he scheduled a news conference on the same day as his most contentious picks go before the Senate. He knows how to play the media. You are playing checkers, while he is playing 3-D chess.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Well, the media may catch up. Meanwhile, as many of the Trump voters begin to discover they were played for fools, they are going to need to use the tools they have. Demanding in public that their Don at least comports himself to his own rhetoric is the main one they have. If giving corporations the moon was not what they voted for, they will need to say so LOUDLY because the rest of the GOP is about nothing else.

  • Disappeared4x

    Recommend an edit ending with “…This is not the way to get that job done.” No need to nannynag, with condescension worthy of Lady Catherine deBourgh, when the disLoyal-so-far opposition is behaving as if it is 2009.

    In closing with “…Republican legislators would do well to tread carefully as they seek to understand just what sort of mandate they were handed in November.” ,

    the author will NOT be getting an invitation to Rep. Steve King’s 2017 Colonel Bud Day Pheasant Shoot*.

    more on this story, with far more context, at

    *adding photo in honor of Rep. Steve King, and , well, some of you know, it is sometimes about timing…

  • Frank Natoli

    Yes, it was a mistake to make this the first item of business.
    But it would appear the author is unaware that the attack on the ethic’s office was bipartisan, Democrats having gotten burned just as often as Republicans.
    So WHY would the author portray this is a purely Republican initiative?
    We know why.

  • Disappeared4x

    In simultaneous news from the NOTloyalOpposition “Senator Chuck Schumer, the new Senate minority leader, indicated that Democrats are going to have a “showdown” over President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations. Schumer also said that the Senate majority caucus “needs to meet several demands” or the confirmation process will slow down. …”

    “…But people familiar with the communications between the two leaders said Schumer is calling for McConnell to not schedule simultaneous confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, so that members on multiple committees can attend each confirmation hearing. That could make it difficult for all nominees to be ready for floor votes by Inauguration Day. …”
    As if Senators have never, ever, ever, never had to miss part of one confirmation hearing to attend a different one…

  • Disappeared4x

    Quite a few more facts on this OCE fiasco than you will ever read in the biased NYT “…The license to publicize unproven allegations that are not even the subject of formal court or congressional process has a high potential for abuse – particularly in the hands of a body that answers to no one and takes anonymous tips that may be based on nothing but rumor or venom.

    The proposed GOP reforms were not going to “gut” the OCE. Under the proposal, however, it would be brought under the oversight of the
    Ethics Committee, as it should have been in the first place. The OCE would be rebranded as the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review”; it would not (a) have a public-information arm, (b) be authorized to investigate anonymous tips, and (c) be permitted to refer cases to law-enforcement without authorization from the Committee.

    In sum, Republicans had very good reasons to strip the OCE down to something that was more constitutionally sound in a system of divided powers based on political accountability. The reason the Washington swamp needs draining is that there are already too many unaccountable bureaucrats wielding too much power. But yes, in the greater scheme of things that are wrong, the OCE is a trifle. To prioritize its reform, and to do so unilaterally and without making the public case for it was, well, dumb.”

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