And so it begins

| The new Congress came to town yesterday, and the GOP immediately did something really, really stupid. Meeting in a closed-door session Monday night, they acted to gut an independent House ethics office created in 2008.

The Office of Congressional Ethics was created in the aftermath of a wave of scandals involving House members, for which three of them went to jail. But taking a leaf from the play book of North Carolina Republicans, the House Republicans chose to emasculate the OCE by putting it under the control of the House Ethics Committee, notoriously without teeth, and preventing it from even having a public spokesperson. Can you say "Fox guarding the hen house?"

The genius behind this moronic, tone-deaf move was Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who announced the change without advance notice or debate. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly opposed the rules change, but the right wing simply would not be dissuaded.

Robert Goodlatte, R-VA
Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee

The New York Times alert in my mailbox said it all.

NYT email alert
New York Times email alert

But wait, there's more! A hue and cry went up from constituents and both liberal and conservative ethics groups who condemned the move. Even the POTUS-elect got into the act with, naturally, twitter:

Trump tweets
Tweets from POTUS-elect chiding Republicans for their first action in the new Congress

Shortly thereafter, saner heads prevailed and the GOP dropped the proviso from the rules to be adopted for this Congress. Again, the New York Times:

About face
New York Times email alert

The Republicans have been salivating over the prospect of complete control over all three branches of government, and just couldn't wait to start filling the swamp with self-interest. They just couldn't stand it that the OCE was independent and thorough in investigating charges; they found it inconvenient and damaging to their careers to be found guilty of miscreance. Poor babies.

There are at least two lessons here.

First, the Republicans will over-reach. It's what they always do.

Second, resistance is not futile. Faced with strong condemnation, the GOP caved.

This is a harbinger of what is to come. We should expect more shenanigans like this, for the Republicans have a long to-do list of things they would like to undo. They can't be allowed to do so without suffering consequences and without loud opposition.


Editorial cartoonists have had a field day!

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Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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