Filling Up the Swamp
If you wrote it in a movie, they'd tell you to cut the scene because it's too stupid and unbelievable. Yes, okay, fine, so it happened in real life, but that doesn't make it any less stupid and unbelievable. And alas, you can't cut the scene.
For the past several years and most-vociferously during the entire presidential campaign, the Republican Party made its Cause Number One how supposedly-unethical Hillary Clinton was, to the extent of her (supposedly) "Putting America at Risk" (tm). Moving her emails to a private, protected server was seemingly SO unethical that we not only heard about it almost every day, but it drove Republican crowds into such a hair-brained tizzy they regularly cried out to put her in jail. And her family having one of the world's most-admired and successful charities was, apparently, almost as unethical because she held meetings on occasion with people who also donated money to help others, though she had no involvement with the charrity, nor was paid by it. In fact, when she offendedly quipped during a debate that Donald Trump should just blame her for every problem in America, since that was pretty much how Republicans looked at her, he replied "Why not?" To Republicans, it seemed they had somehow worked themselves into believing despite reality that Hillary Clinton was a walking ethics violation that galled and tied them into little knots with every breath she took. How dare she do something, do anything, do everything that they believed unethical??! How dare she Put America at Risk (tm)??!!
And now, last night, the day before the new Congress is sworn in -- the Republican Caucus met in closed session (that's translated to "in secret") and voted to eliminate the Independent Ethics Office.
No, really. I'm not joking.
That's how much Republicans actually seem to care about ethics. Never mind that the faux-ethics charges against Hillarly Clinton had nothing to do with reality, this here shows what the GOP really cares about ethical behavior and "draining the swamp."
This is almost like they've instead taken the lock off the gate to the swamp, paved the dirt path leading in, and painted out the word "NO" on the swamp's "NO DUMPING" sign.
To be clear, this vote isn't a rule yet, it still has to be presented to the full House and voted on. But that will be a mix of parties. This vote, eliminating the Independent Ethics Office, was by the Republican Party, period.
It should also be noted that there will still be a House Ethics Board, but that will merely be a sub-committee. Though they sound the same, know that they are not even close to the same things. Rather than being an independent investigation panel, the alternative will be self-run by Congress itself. In other words, Congress investigating its own members about possible ethics violations.. Anonymous complaints and charges will no longer be accepted, so there's no protective cover for those fearful of losing their jobs or retribution. And, being a Congressional committee, all the investigating and results can be be private.
By the way, getting rid of an independent ethics office (in a secret vote) in order to investigate yourself for your own ethics violations is just on the good side of an ethics violation. So, that alone shows how much Republicans actually care about ethics.
There's not a whole lot of wiggle room here on this. When you are a political party and you vote (behind closed doors) to shut down the Independent Ethics Office, no one really has to say a whole lot to explain how scuzzy this is -- and that you are.
Not to mention stupid and unbelievable.
It goes so far that it doesn't even do justice to the words "hypocrite" and outrage. Two words that are probably going to get worn out over the next four years.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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