Tag Archives: drain the swamp

Fox News seeks to become ‘fake news’ network?

I have to give credit to a Fox News reporter, Ed Henry, for seeking some answers from Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt.

Hey, if the network allows more of this line of questioning, it will become part of the so-called “fake news” cabal that Donald Trump keeps excoriating.

Henry interviewed Pruitt about the ethics controversy that is boiling at Pruitt’s feet. He and his wife rented a pricey condo from an oil industry lobbyist for $50 a night. Henry asked Pruitt if that is the way to “drain the swamp” that the president keeps insisting is part of his Washington, D.C., agenda.

Pruitt said the question “isn’t remotely fair.” Actually, it was totally fair. I give Henry great credit for standing up to this guy.

Pruitt is unfit for the job anyway. That he would be taking what amounts to a gift from a lobbyist who is trying to influence EPA policy smacks of maximum conflict of interest.

I know it. Ed Henry knows it. It well might be that the president knows it. However, Pruitt pushes back by saying a tough question isn’t “remotely fair.”

Pruitt doesn’t get it. I doubt he will. He needs to go.

As for Fox News and one of its top-gun reporters, well done.

When did earmarks become fashionable?

“Earmarks” used to be a four-letter word.

Republican members of Congress rose against them. They were eliminated. Now they’re back, thanks in large part to the insistence of, um, Republican members of Congress.

Earmarks are those items that lawmakers tuck — or sneak — into budgets. Remember the “Bridge to Nowhere” that the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens inserted into a budget? The “bridge” money went for a structure that, well, went nowhere in Alaska.

Stevens was scorned for that little game of fiscal chicanery.

Now it appears that earmarks are being resurrected. I don’t get it.

Republicans who now control both congressional chambers — and the White House — have forgotten how they won voters’ hearts in the first place. They are supposed to be the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Earmarks are meant to allow lawmakers to bring “pork barrel” money to their states and congressional districts. Many House members and senators have been pretty damn good at it. The late Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd fattened the budget with money he directed to West Virginia. And get this. Former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican, once bragged that he brought back so much “pork” to his home state that he was afraid of “coming down with trichinosis.”

I consider myself a deficit hawk, even though I also consider myself to be a left-leaning blogger. I don’t like earmarks any more than the next guy. They constitute government waste.

They’re coming back.

What happened to “draining the swamp,” eh? Mr. President? When are you going to pull the plug?

Waiting for the swamp to be drained

Donald Trump was elected president of the United States largely on a pledge to “drain the swamp” that muddies up Washington, D.C.

It was a solid pledge, met with considerable support.

How has he done so far? Not too well. The president still needs to find the plug, pull it from the drain and let the swamp water run out. He needs, moreover, to start within the White House.

The White House staff secretary Rob Porter has quit amid allegations that he beat up his two former wives and a former girlfriend. Spousal abuse is a serious matter, right? Of course it is!

But we’ve see too many other instances of swampy behavior within the White House already. Michael Flynn lied to the FBI and to the vice president over contacts with Russian government officials; the national security adviser was gone after 24 days. Former campaign chief Paul Manafort is under indictment for money laundering. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price quit over ethical allegations.

I want the president to make good on his pledge. D.C. is full of officials who are operating under questionable circumstances. The swamp needs draining.

Donald Trump, though, needs to focus much closer to his inner circle than he has to date.

A lot of us out here, even the president’s critics, would welcome some actual progress in the effort to drain the swamp.

The ‘swamp’ is draining … finally?

Tom Price is not a political whippersnapper. He’s not wet behind the ears. He’s been around Washington, D.C., first as a member of Congress and then — until today — as secretary of health and human services.

Dr. Price quit his HHS Cabinet job in the wake of boiling controversy involving his use of private aircraft that taxpayers paid for. It smacked of a spendthrift philosophy that smacked Donald Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in D.C. squarely in the face.

Price’s travel expenses ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He had promised to pay back $52,000, which amounted to a fraction of the bill he ran up flying aboard private charter jets rather than commercial airlines, which had been the custom over many previous administrations.

Price is now gone. He resigned today. Is the proverbial “swamp” now starting to drain? Well, I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Price once complained loudly against then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of “luxury jets” while she flew around the country. Then he gets caught doing something quite similar, if not identical, to what he accused Pelosi of doing.

It all kind of reminds me of how another House speaker, Newt Gingrich, wailed and railed against President Bill Clinton for his affair with the White House intern in the late 1990s — while at the same time Newt was taking a tumble with a congressional staff member while he was married to someone else.

Sigh …

Where do we go from here? The president has made precious few wise moves since stepping into the Oval Office. One of them is his hiring of John Kelly as White House chief of staff. Indeed, it appears quite likely that Gen. Kelly had a hand in Dr. Price’s resignation. Moreover, it also is being reported that Kelly’s fingerprints appear to be all over a new White House directive that mandates that all Cabinet officers and senior staffers clear their travel plans with Kelly and White House legal counsel.

Price’s departure is not a surprise, given the president’s own expressions of anger over the revelation about the former secretar’s travel habits.

The Trump administration, though, needs to pull a lot more plugs at the bottom of that “swamp” to ensure it gets drained.

Open the White House visitor logs

Transparency has been tossed into the crapper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

That’s where the president of the United States hangs out for part of the week; his posh Florida resort appears to be where Donald J. Trump’s heart belongs.

But the White House is the people’s house. The president is just staying there. We own the place. You and I do. It’s ours, man.

Which is why the White House visitor logs need to be opened up to public review, as it was done during the years the Barack Obama family was living there. The White House announced that those logs will be kept secret. The White House brass contends there’s some issue with national security.

Closed logs anger watchdogs

As The Hill reported: “‘It’s disappointing that the man who promised to ‘drain the swamp’ just took a massive step away from transparency by refusing the release the White House visitor logs that the American people have grown accustomed to accessing over the last six years,’ Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a statement.

“Bookbinder said the records ‘provide indispensable information about who is seeking to influence the president.'”

Drain the swamp, eh?

The swamp isn’t drained in the least. It remains as infested with special interests and well-heeled fat cats as always. The public has a right to know who is calling on the president, or on his senior staff. The public pays the bill for that big ol’ house and as its landlords, the public has every right to know who’s darkening its doors.

About that swamp-draining idea … try this

Donald J. Trump once pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., making it a better place to enact laws and to do the public’s business.

Let’s get away from that notion, say Republicans in Congress.

How? Oh, let’s just no longer have an independent ethics organization serving as a watchdog of congressional activities and then we’ll just have such activities overseen by, that’s it, Congress itself!

See how it works?

If there’s something suspicious being done by a member of Congress, why we’ll just have his or her pals in Congress do the investigating and then determine whether there should be any sanction delivered to the offending member.

Do you think that’s going to work?

Aww, me neither.

The House Republican caucus has adopted a new rule proposed by House Ethics Committee Chairman Bob Goodlate, R-Va., to let his panel handle all ethics investigations. It will disband the Office of Congressional Ethics this week.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/house-gop-votes-to-rein-in-independent-ethics-watchdog/ar-BBxPwWL?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

Congress created the independent watchdog arm under the leadership of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2008.

According to The Hill, the new law “would bar the office from considering anonymous tips about potential ethics violations and prevent disclosures about investigations.”

Interesting, yes? I think so. You see, quite often tipsters with information to pass along need to remain anonymous to protect themselves against retribution.

Journalists, for instance, get tipped off anonymously all the time; the practice, though, is for the journalist to obtain the name of the tipster while pledging not to reveal his or her name publicly while developing a news story. What is so terrible about a congressional watchdog group operating under the same sort of ground rule?

Trump reportedly has advised his transition team to scrap the “drain the swamp” mantra as they talk about the incoming administration. I believe I am now understanding why the president-elect no longer is wedded to the idea.

His GOP pals are refilling that very swamp.