Why wait until Donald Trump is sworn in for the oligarchic free-for-all to get started with a vengeance?
House Republicans met under cover of darkness at the end of the Christmas break to gut the independent body tasked with overseeing their ethics or lack of same. People are shocked, shocked I tell you. Because corrupt politicians usually don't brag so openly about how they pulled one over on their constituents.
It was momentarily heartening, therefore, to read the New York Times headline announcing that President-elect Trump "rebuked" the GOP politicians over their "bid to gut ethics office." Maybe he's at least semi-serious about draining the swamp after all.
But not so fast. If you had time to actually read the article past the headline, your newly hopeful heart would have plummeted like a turbo-charged rock straight to the bottom of the Washington muck.
In a pair of postings on Twitter, Mr. Trump called the Office of Congressional Ethics “unfair,” but he said focusing on it now was a case of misplaced priorities. He appended the hashtag “DTS,” an apparent allusion to his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
The Times article, written by Eric Lipton and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, goes on to insist that Trump's alleged "rebuke" marks a major public break between Trump and the rank-and-file Republicans. The unannounced secretive move to effectively euthanize the independent ethics watchdog apparently caught even Donald Trump by surprise. And Donald Trump does not like to be caught by surprise. The congress critters were apparently "emboldened" to legalize their own corruption by the election of Trump, who has wasted no time signalling that his will be among the most corrupt administrations in American history.
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
Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump 2 hours ago
........may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!
You can't really accuse House Republicans of any actual creative genius here, either. After all, if the too-big-to-fail and jail banksters have been given the green light to police themselves, both in-house and under the protection of their revolving door government positions in the current administration, why shouldn't the lower legislative body openly and enthusiastically follow the same set of rules?
You'd think they were operating outside the de facto oligarchic norm or something, pulling a stunt like this.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) had convinced his cohort that the Office of Congressional Ethics, set up in 2008 to investigate allegations of misconduct against lawmakers, should be run by the House Ethics Committee. Like vampires, Republicans voted to suck the blood out of oversight after sundown on Monday, without even bothering with the niceties of a seductive (public) debate beforehand.
As in other good public programs destroyed under the euphemism of "reform," Goodlatte said his proposal “builds upon and strengthens the existing Office of Congressional Ethics by maintaining its primary area of focus of accepting and reviewing complaints from the public and referring them, if appropriate, to the Committee on Ethics.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi then complained: “Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”
Notice that Pelosi carefully restricted her moral outrage to the "new" Republican congress. Because it might have been too challenging for her to remember the fate of the Stock Act, passed in 2011 to combat insider trading by members like Nancy Pelosi. She and her husband had profited handsomely when, right on the eve of the "surprise" 2008 financial meltdown, they bought Visa stock at rock-bottom prices and then made a cool $100,000 on the resale, literally overnight. She was absolutely mum when Congress later gutted a key provision of the Stock Act outlawing insider trading by family members of congress critters. Pelosi's husband and other congressional spouses, siblings and spawn can still commit insider trading perfectly legally and with utter immunity and impunity.
But I digress. Here's my published comment on the New York Times piece giving undeserved immunity to Trump in its misleading headline:
Trump's so-called rebuke of House Republicans is like the annoyed flick of one wet noodle.
He's not miffed that the gutting of the official ethics oversight body under cover of darkness is undemocratic and corrupt on its face. He's miffed because he thinks that the gutting of Obamacare, the ripping of health coverage away from millions of people should take top priority. He's miffed because such a ham-handed power grab by a group of miscreants will shine too harsh of a public spotlight on his more pressing need for rewriting the tax code in favor of the plutocrats who already have way, way too much.
So thanks, Goodlatte and company, for transparently putting your corruption right out there in the open for all to see, and also for, unintentionally or not, dumping some quick-sand in the way of Trump's authoritarian march to a full-fledged oligarchy.
Most people are no longer amenable to being fooled even some of the time.
*Update: It seems that Goodlatte and Co. have seen the error of the timing of their ways, and have at least temporarily reversed course on their official ethics-gutting. Their evisceration of the safety net may now proceed apace... or so the bastards think.An informed populace is tyranny's worst enemy.