Gutting the Ethics Committee

What?!

House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.

The surprising vote came on the eve of the start of a new session of Congress, where emboldened Republicans are ready to push an ambitious agenda on everything from health care to infrastructure, issues that will be the subject of intense lobbying from corporate interests. The House Republicans’ move would take away both power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.

Among other things, the changes would destroy the independence of the OCE, making them answerable only to Congress. It would also bar them from investigation criminal matters or talk to whistleblowers.

When the Republican revolution happened in 1994, it was driven, at least in part, by the hideous corruption of the Democrats (see., e.g., Dan Rostenkowski). One of the things that made me happy was the GOP immediately changed the way Congress did business, increasing transparency and accountability, making laws apply to them as well as the public and cracking down on perks. This is an ugly step in the opposite direction.

Speaker Ryan has spoken against this measures as has Trump. We’ll see how it does when it comes up for a full vote.

Update: Shortly after I posted this, the GOP withdrew the rules change.

Comments are closed.

  1. AlexInCT

    Remember that these are the same credentialed assholes that didn’t want anyone upsetting their apple cart in the first place. Trumps election has not stopped these scoundrels from looking out for their own personal interests first and foremost instead of doing the work for the people they were elected for.

    Vigilance is key from those of us that want business as usual to die an ugly death. Glad to see that Trump and Ryan got together to put the kibosh on this shit. Now publish the names of the assholes that tried to do this so we all know whom to keep a closer eye on.

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  2. CM

    No it didn’t hurt at all, I’m not anything like you Alex. I also support ditching the TPPA, (although Hillary was apparently going to do that too). I would mention some other things too, but he’s been so inconsistent with his promises on them I’ll need to wait and see what happens, and give credit where I see it again.

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  3. louctiel

    You might want to actually read the proposal as it doesn’t do half the things (okay, none of the things) the articles claim it did.

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3249488-Goodlatte-OCE-Amendment-to-House-Rules.html

    One of the changes was to eliminate publishing investigations until the investigations were complete and something found.  That would be the ol’ protection of “innocent until proven guilty” idea.

    It was wrong that people could be seen on the front page of being accused of something and then when there was no smoke (much less first) the article being on the back page of the media.

    The amendment did not eliminate whistle blowers or bar them from criminal investigations.  The rules require that allegations no longer be made anonymously which seems like a good idea.  After all, an anonymous allegation could be made against someone for political gain rather than actual wroing doing.

    Furthermore, I don’t want another government agency to investigate criminal matters.  There are enough agencies for that.  The OCE never had subpoena power, so a “criminal investigation” was “will you talk to us?  Pretty please?”

    This has all the trappings of a fake news story.

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  4. richtaylor365

    Could not agree more, louctiel, and I am surprised Hal bit so easily.

    Yesterday Kevin McCarthy was on some morning show I was watching. He described the measure in terms of providing more safeguards, more due process to victims. Analogous (my example, not his) to a male college student being accused of date rape after a totally consensual sexual encounter where he is not allowed to defend himself, hire counsel,  or cross examine accusers before he is brought up on charges with name published in paper and booted out of the university.

    Given that the dems just created a “War Room”, whose primary mission is to create negative stories about Trump (true or not, who cares?) and hand them off to their cohorts in deception, the MSM, I suspect it will be business as usual and no comity displayed whatsoever for a civil body hired by the people to put the nation’s interest first.

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  5. AlexInCT

    The funny thing is that the group that has had the biggest beef with this ethics office have been democrats, and in particular the black caucus, and they had that beef, because this group actually outed them too.

    Me, I feel that anything that bothers and scares a politician is good. I expect a double standard from the DNC operatives with bylines which will bury bad news for democrats and report as fact even the wispiest of rumors that hurt a republican, so I know how to react to this kind of bull. I am especially grateful that recent turn of events have emptied the PC quiver and that the PC acolytes are just as buys eating each other up. I could care less if a politician says that they like to grab pussy or dick, that most of the shit our government does is idiotic and biased in the wrong way, and that people need to grow a tougher skin. I get really pissed by people that amongst other things sell favors and this country down the shitter, for personal gain of all reasons, while flaunting the laws that non of us would ever be allowed to break, and then, use their clout and a corrupt machine to avoid the legal consequences. Fuck that type of scumbag.

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  6. CM

    How do you know Trump won’t sell favours for personal gain? He’s already done some things which suggest he will (the foreign business promotions) and you don’t know how many millions he owes to who. Right off the bat he’s the least transparent PEOTUS.

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  7. AlexInCT

    How do you know Trump won’t sell favours for personal gain? 

    Why would he need to?

    He’s already done some things which suggest he will (the foreign business promotions) and you don’t know how many millions he owes to who.

    How desperate. Seriously? This is what you are left with?

    Right off the bat he’s the least transparent PEOTUS.

    Says the guy that has spent the last 8 years criticizing those of us that actually had to deal with the least transparent POTUS ever, even after he promised to do exactly the opposite. Irony. Look it up.

    The left’s fear of Trump is simply twofold:

    The first one is that they are scared to death that after 8 years of weaponizing the government and infiltrating it’s top levels with people that would push the left’s idiotic agenda and narrative over the real things they should be doing at their posts, and destroying all checks and balances, all so Clinton could turn that loose on the left’s enemies, that now Trump – whom plays by the left’s rules – gets to take charge of it, staff it with his people, and do a turnabout.

    The second is that Trump will actually have any kind of success after he rolls back the idiotic shit the left has straddled us with and follows that up with putting things in place that make sense and work in the real world – like Reagan did – and basically gives the left’s ideology the status it deserves: something to look at with contempt and derision.

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  8. CM

    Why would he need to?

    Um, for personal gain. The driving force between every single things he’s done his entire life.

    How desperate. Seriously? This is what you are left with?

    LOL. If this was a Dem President you’d be ranting and raving about it. I’m going to enjoy 4 years of your utter hypocrisy. Those incredibly high standards that applied to Obama are suddenly all swept away and don’t matter.

    Says the guy that has spent the last 8 years criticizing those of us that actually had to deal with the least transparent POTUS ever, even after he promised to do exactly the opposite.

    Apparently your complaints about transparency were just big fat steaming piles of shite.

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  9. AlexInCT

    Um, for personal gain. The driving force between every single things he’s done his entire life.

    Really? He is already a billionaire, and he won. Unlike crooked Hillary, he doesn’t need to rip the American people or anyone else off.

    LOL. If this was a Dem President you’d be ranting and raving about it.

    Ranting and raving about what? That democrats are crooks? It seems the recent revelations about the last 8 years and this past election have all but proven me right, but you can pretend I am the one grasping at straws if it gives your sad pathetic existence purpose dude.

    I’m going to enjoy 4 years of your utter hypocrisy. Those incredibly high standards that applied to Obama are suddenly all swept away and don’t matter.

    Actually, when Trump stoops down to Obama’s level of corrupt, lying, inept, scumbaggery, I will call him on it. That still doesn’t mean I am going to ever wish Clinton had won the election though. And let me remind you again that I am very likely to end up cheering the things he does that are going to cause you to shit your pants (like this one), because to me that is exactly what he should be doing.

    The things that cause you SJW types to go into social signaling overdrive mode are practically always the things I think mean nothing and serve no good purpose and this society could do with less or none of. So keep that in mind while you erect your next straw man to show us how baddass you are by knocking the poor thing down.

    Apparently your complaints about transparency were just big fat steaming piles of shite.

    By what logic? Oh wait. Never mind. I forgot for a second there that I was talking to you and you are all about the feelz and not about facts or logic, despite the your half assed atempts to pretend otherwise.

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  10. CM

    He’s been ripping off the American people for years, by not paying contractors, through his Trump University scam, via his multiple bankruptcies, etc etc. Why would he stop now? And what evidence are you relying on in terms of his worth? Who does he owe money to, and how much? Is it based on all those ‘feelz’?

    Sad pathetic existence – despite the funny Internet memes about how bad 2016 was, it was a great year for me. Fifteen years of great marriage, two awesome kids, mortgage free house, and after 10 years I left the company I was working for and set up my own (and in the first four months I’ve made twice as much as I used to). Plus now we’re enjoying a long hit summer break. But, hey, thanks for asking. Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours.

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  11. AlexInCT

    He’s been ripping off the American people for years, by not paying contractors, through his Trump University scam, via his multiple bankruptcies, etc etc. Why would he stop now? And what evidence are you relying on in terms of his worth? Who does he owe money to, and how much? Is it based on all those ‘feelz’?

    Funny how you have no concerns about how Hillary, whom makes the shit Trump is being accused of, mostly by an angry left grasping at straws that has no problem exaggerating or out right lying, look like small potatoes. Trump, in the private system under the purveyance of government enforced law, was accused of things yet never convicted, while Hillary, hiding behind the power of government, use that system to get rich and to prevent the law from getting her, and yet, you are here acting as if a huge mistake was made by electing Trump. In a binary choice system, the right choice was blatantly obvious, but you seem unable to grasp that and continue to argue otherwise. It’s almost as if you are a desperate partisan hack or something….

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  12. AlexInCT

    Sad pathetic existence – despite the funny Internet memes about how bad 2016 was, it was a great year for me. Fifteen years of great marriage, two awesome kids, mortgage free house, and after 10 years I left the company I was working for and set up my own (and in the first four months I’ve made twice as much as I used to). Plus now we’re enjoying a long hit summer break. But, hey, thanks for asking. Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours.

    Well good for you. With the exception of the loss of my father, 2016 was awesome for me too. But that was despite a bunch of assholes trying their best to destroy it for people like me that know how to make the best – legally – of things, even when it is all falling apart. There are countless others being left behind, especially amongst those less capable and lucky (as stated by Heinlein) and the unprepared young, as the election results clearly showed.

    I guess the difference between us is that I am not really just thinking about me and know – based on experience and what is happening in the real world and not a fantastical view of what I wish it was – that less government (especially less corrupted leftist government) is the answer. We need to have a change in direction away from what the left has straddled the once successful western world with before the damage is irreversible and we end up with humanity living under the repression by the usual tyrannical leftist regimes that claim they need to do that for our own good, like the now defunct USSR, and others following in their footsteps – China as their half-baked attempt to avoid the inevitable unravels, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela, to name a few – run the show. And have no doubt that’s where we are heading for with the credentialed elite that lack real world skills other than in their own delusional fantasies, and think they should define the direction taken by humanity.

    Trump may not be the best choice all things considered, but then again, he isn’t one of the people that have dragged us down so far, and that makes him a better choice at least to me. Time will tell.

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  13. richtaylor365

    it was a great year for me. Fifteen years of great marriage, two awesome kids, mortgage free house, and after 10 years I left the company I was working for and set up my own (and in the first four months I’ve made twice as much as I used to). Plus now we’re enjoying a long hit summer break. But, hey, thanks for asking. Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours.

    I am genuinely happy for you, hope your business flourishes. My wife struck out on her own when our son was born, she never regretted it. Tell me, in NZ does the government take one dollar for every two that you earn?

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  14. CM

    First and foremost, Alex, my sincere condolences for your loss. That sure is a big one.

    Second, Trump won so there is no need to invoke her when asked about Trump. ‘Hillary’ isn’t a reason, or evidence, that Trump won’t be looking to do what he’s done his entire life. Even then, the choice wasn’t binary, you could have voted for a third party candidate, or not at all. Instead, despite not being in a state that was going to matter, you both actively supported Trump. And yet Rich has the gall to talk about ‘honesty’, as if it really matters a great deal to him?! Alex it’s fitting that you mention Cuba and North Korea – along with Trump (based on what he’s said) they are the only ones who would consider recognising Crimea as part of Russia. Your guy really admires a murderous career-KGB man, even though you’ve spent post after post repeating how the evil left is a creation of the KGB.

    Thanks Rich, nice of you to do so. Probably should have done it a few years ago. I was looking to buy 50% of the company I was at, but they wanted too much and neither the wife and I wanted another mortgage having just paid it all off. In the end the prime incentive was to work whatever hours I wanted and be flexible and if I made the same money no problem. Didn’t anticipate it working this well. Close to 100% of my old clients came with me without even asking them too.

    In terms of tax, I’ll pay income tax of around 20-22% (and goods and services tax of 15% however I just charge my clients that and pass it along, and can claim it back on expenses). The only local taxes we have are on property (about $US1.5K per year for our place).

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  15. AlexInCT

    Even NZ has better corporate tax structure than the US. Then again, that was not news to me and has been a major bone of contention, and as even CM acknowledges, he doesn’t pay those taxes: the consumers that buy his product/services do. And that is why I really don’t like corporate taxes, because in the end, it is basically used as a means for government to again control winners and losers by allowing some things to be deducted and charging premiums for others. I say let the consumers decide what they want.

    The only local taxes we have are on property (about $US1.5K per year for our place).

    My local taxes, when you factor in my modest sized home and my cars, is over $8K (US) a year from a measly $1.2K 20 years ago (talk about inflation). With my kid long out of school, I am basically paying to provide services for others. This I don’t mind so much except the schools are now basically indoctrination factories that really are often doing these kids disservice (and I live in one of the nicer school districts in CT). Factor in the high CT state taxes on income and sales, the fed taxes on income and investments, and the lot of other nicks and cuts, and I am giving away 50% plus of my income to people that add little, if any, value to me. Of course, people remind me constantly about the roads and that without government I would be living in Somalia. But I have to laugh at them, considering how bad the roads are and how often, but especially when I deal with government, it feels like I am in a place like Somalia where they fleece me for all it is worth. And in Somalia I could use my firearms to avoid some of the abuse they sent my way.

    First and foremost, Alex, my sincere condolences for your loss. That sure is a big one.

    Thanks for the sympathy. The thing is that the last year of his life was absolutely brutal, due to all the medical complications, and in the end it was a release from a dark and painful existence.

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  16. richtaylor365

    you both actively supported Trump

    And you have the gall to complain about my gall in pointing out your dishonesty (it’s like we  coauthored a screen play where I say something and 24 hours later you come back and support it exactly, thanks for the assist).

    Go back (I’m not going to do it for you) and pull up all those blistering posts I wrote about Trump, actively supported him? Are you on drugs?

    What I told stogy still stands, I have no frickin idea whether he will be a total bust or actually do something worthwhile, but unlike you guys I am willing to give him a chance before putting him on the rack.

    Owning your house with no mortgage is a good feeling, I did it about 20 years ago, 10 years before I retired. As far as taxes, NZ sounds pretty sweet. We are in a 50% tax bracket (feds and state) with our effective tax rate, given the year, 37% to 40%. Higher property taxes but then I don’t know what your house is worth so its hard to compare. I would not mind paying high taxes if I felt the money was being used wisely, it’s not.

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  17. CM

    I should have added that rather than set myself up as a registered company I decided to operate as a ‘sole trader’, which means rather than paying company tax (at 28%) I just pay regular income tax as an individual. I did not have to fill out a single form, just registered my individual tax number on that basis and set up some business bank accounts. It could not have been easier. If I decide to employ people I might set up as a company (which electronically registering a form and I think it takes a couple of days).

    House is worth $US836,000 in our massively inflated Auckland housing market.

    Alex that is grim. I’d wish that on nobody. Hope you had some help getting through as it must take a toll. Was he old?

    Trump – considering all we know about him and his behaviour and lack of knowledge and lack of care or interest I don’t think it’s even remotely unreasonable lto expect it to be a disaster. However with such low expectations there is significant potential for him to exceed them.

    Your Trump criticisms were very mild and outweighed by your delight in his victory and other postive comments towards him. This is the thing, for the next 4 years we’ll find out which criticisms of Obama were really genuine, and which were just because he was a Dem.

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  18. AlexInCT

    I should have added that rather than set myself up as a registered company I decided to operate as a ‘sole trader’, which means rather than paying company tax (at 28%) I just pay regular income tax as an individual.

    Smart move. Don’t think we have a similar option here in the US.

    Alex that is grim. I’d wish that on nobody. Hope you had some help getting through as it must take a toll. Was he old?

    He was 84. Lived a good life. Was in Europe with my mom when he had a stroke about a year before he passed and things went downhill from there. Could not fly back to the US because of the risk of fatal stroke, and they couldn’t take a ship back because my mom as a kidney transplant needs weekly checkup work. Had a real bad stoke a few months after the first one, and was paralyzed on the left side. They were lucky that my brother, married to a Dutch girl and a doctor, lives over there. He helped, a lot, considering how hard the healthcare system there is, but it was a matter of time. By the time he died he had no idea whom anyone was, or for that matter whom he was or where he was, and the we are glad he just passed quick when that time came. Brought his ashes back with me and took care of that according to his will. He was an awesome dad, a great man, and he lived the life he wanted and made sure we all grew up to be good people. Nothing ever brought him low, he stuck by my mom through thick and thin, and he was a man of his word and honer. That made life hard sometimes, but he refused to compromise his honor or to not do the right thing, and so, I prefer to remember the man he was before old age took him away.

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  19. richtaylor365

    Your Trump criticisms were very mild

    I had a bet with myself that you would be too lazy to  check what I really said and just rely on your preconceived bias, I win. By your standards you could accuse Hal of “actively supporting Trump”, sheesh.

     outweighed by your delight in his victory 

    Said delight explained half a dozen times , which you failed to understand each time, I win again. I could set my clock by the reliability at which you get it wrong. For the guy so sanctimonious about binary thinking of others, you just can’t escape it yourself. If one is happy that Trump won, it must be that person is an “active supporter of Trump”. Much like the unintelligent intelligence report that concluded an active role in the Trump win because some Russian officials were ebullient at his victory.

     considering all we know about him and his behaviour and lack of knowledge and lack of care or interest I don’t think it’s even remotely unreasonable lto expect it to be a disaster.

    He very well might be a disaster, then it would be 2 in a row, but given your bias already your opinions as to what you think disastrous will have little appeal for me.

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  20. richtaylor365

    Normally I would let you stew in your own laziness but I went back and found this in like 5 minutes (I wrote a bunch of those type posts, BTW), read the whole post.

    Now look at one of your own comments to that same post;

    You may not believe this but I genuinely do have empathy for you guys, just as I did when Obama was re-elected. It must be horrible, and you’ve explained why in your post there Rich. You’ve been let down.

    And you wonder why you are called dishonest.

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  21. Iconoclast

    Obama isn’t even out of office and the hypocrisy has been turned up to 11.

    This is the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that makes you dishonest. Sure, you can claim some level of hypocrisy among the three — count ‘em, THREE — Republican Senators who — HORROR OF HORRORS!!! — introduced a BILL!!!  You cannot even honestly claim that the whole GOP is guilty of hypocrisy until and unless the GOP-controlled Senate actually passes the bill.  But no, you have to scream from the rooftops that the hypocrisy level is ELEVEN!!!!

    And you’re not even comparing apples to apples — Benghazi was not about the general funding of embassies, but about the denial of specific requests for assistance in response to a clearly mounting threat.

    But yeah, keep it up with the nonsensical rhetoric.  It seems to be serving you so well…..

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  22. richtaylor365

    Witness the self-immolation of CM. You got caught, for everyone to see, and don’t have the decency the integrity to man up. Your own words lit the match.

    Oh but how things changed as the year progressed.

    Things sure have changed for you, that’s for sure. I used to enjoy your counter arguments here, lending a different perspective to the issues of the day. Those days seem like such a long time ago.

    Stogy has picked up that baton because you have devolved into a dishonest, deflective, petty, obtuse, straw man builder that gave up a long time ago.

    TBH, I did not expect a full blown apology, something Stogy has no problem giving, you don’t have that type of contrition in you, but at least a ,”Yeah, I forget about that, you are right”.

    Going back to ignoring you makes more sense.

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  23. CM

    You voted for Trump in California, where it was never going to have any impact at all. Inarguably that makes you an active Trump supporter.

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  24. Iconoclast

    Inarguably that makes you an active Trump supporter.

    “Inarguably”, my ASS!!!!   Do you even know what words effing MEAN???   FFS.

     

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  25. CM

    The proof is in the pudding. Voting Trump in California is the ultimate proof because it’s a meaningless vote. He can’t claim it was just necessary to stop Clinton. It is the definition of active support.
    It’s very telling that big issue with using embassy security as a bargaining chip after Bengahzi became an insane political obsession is MY reaction to it. LOL. Through the looking glass once again. If the Dems had done anything similar it would be strongly condemned. There would be ranting a raving all over the place. But of course it isn’t just those three Senators, the hypocrisy on this has been a wider effort for years.
    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/250237-gop-embassy-security-cuts-draw-democrats-scrutiny
    http://reverbpress.com/politics/gop-busted-benghazi-voted-massive-embassy-security-cuts-starting-2011/

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  26. Iconoclast

    Well, again, you’re simply pointing at GOP cost-cutting measures.  Maybe they’re ill-advised, but they don’t compare to neglecting to provide requested aid during an attack, and ordering would-be rescuers to STAND DOWN.  That you insist on finding equivalence speaks volumes, none of it flattering, and reveals you to be utterly partisan, your squeals the the contrary notwithstanding.

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  27. CM

    Right, because dangers to embassies only occur as a result of neglecting to provide aid during an attack and ordering rescuers to stand-down, not fundamentally through structural and day-to-day security. Riiiiiight. And again the fact that you’re trying so hard to point at the trees in order to ignore the woods speaks at the highest volume possible. As does your repetition of utterly partisan claims about that attack. Very Trumpian. I realise how you pride yourself on not being objective, but you couldn’t be more partisan if you tried.
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jul/18/mark-geist/stand-down-story-ignores-critical-facts-about-effo/
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jul/14/mike-pence/pence-falsely-says-clinton-didnt-send-help-during-/

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  28. Iconoclast

    …..you couldn’t be more partisan if you tried…..

    <shrug>  Neither could you.

    I’m simply saying there is a difference.  You’re desperately trying to pretend there isn’t.

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  29. AlexInCT

    You voted for Trump in California, where it was never going to have any impact at all. Inarguably that makes you an active Trump supporter.

    I voted for him in Connecticut knowing that my vote would be canceled by the people that vote for a living or vote illegally in Hartford, Bridgeport, or Waterbury, and I did it mostly as a protest of Clinton, under no delusion that the crook would win this idiotic state.

    After the massive lying, pant shitting, and downright stupid behavior from the left when he won – especially considering how ridiculously anal they where when they thought they had the election in the bag and demanded Trump just bend over and grab his ankles in the name of democracy or whatever other buzz word they could come up with – I decided I actually would do more than just give him a chance. And the more the left acts like petulant douchebags, the more inclined I am to give Trump latitude I would otherwise not had given ever.

    And I will point out again: the left’s pant-shitting tantrum is about two things: they are scared to death he will use the machine they weaponized on them, but most importantly, they are scared to death he will succeed.

    They fear Trump in charge of the weaponized government they spent the last 8 years creating, because he plays by their rules, unlike the other idiots in the republican party, and they worry he will do to them what they were hoping to do to the rest of us. They ares scared to death to let Trump have even a minimal modicum of success, because even if Trump is downright mediocre at best, when you contrast that against the last 8 years when the left did their thing, he will look like a genius – because the economy is going to soar (which it already is and he is not president or has done nothing yet). When that happens, and it will, people will realize the shit the left does never works and that will condemn these crooks and liars to the wander the desert for another proverbial 40 years until another generation comes along that doesn’t have personal and practical experience with the left’s abysmal record and actually buys into their shit again.

    And xnay on the politifact links CM. That biased shit, like most of the DNC operatives machine with bylines and all these other places the libs told us provided impartial fact checking, are not only not to be trusted, but to be scorned because they are lying propaganda outlets that occasionally tell the truth. That’s BTW the legacy that the left gave us this election I like the most. Logic dictates that if they did it here where the stakes are so high, they very likely are doing it everywhere else. The whole house of cards can’t implode quick enough for my tastes. Death to this Orwellian shit!

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