Day: January 4, 2017

Comedian Dara O’Briain on Videogames

I love video games, but I admit this is weird.


Gutting the Ethics Office

Reminder: Trump didn’t object to gutting the ethics office. He objected to the timing. Why aren’t you going after healthcare [like the Senate], asked Trump. Why aren’t you giving me and my friends tax breaks? I know the ethics office is awful, but PRIORITIES, people.

That two-part tweet, if you think I might be making any part of this up: “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 may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!”

Emily says: Still, it’s nice that the GOP suggested something SO outrageous that Trump was able to temporarily seem a teeny weeny bit reasonable (if you didn’t pay attention to wording real good).

Romie: Thoughtful gift indeed. I believe tomorrow they plan to move (and then recind) a resolution that opposes dog grooming. On Friday, a health ruling will add rancid fish heads to all flavors of ice cream. Trump objects because FREEDOM but acknowledges that ice cream is better with rancid fish heads. We’ll get those underwater approval ratings up yet.

Nic says: What exactly has anyone claimed is ‘unfair’ about the ethics office?

Romie:   It is actually possible to make a coherent argument against the independent ethics office, as follows. (1) It’s duplicative because there’s already a bipartisan ethics committee. (2) If we think this is so important why doesn’t the Senate have one? (3) There are insufficient due process protections since it’s somewhat outside the regular order, and so for instance you aren’t guaranteed having your lawyer present (counter argument here is that this is also approximately how HR operates in the private sector). (4) Since it’s not accountable to congress to the same degree the non-independent ethics panel is, it’s succeptible to overreach and witch hunts (which have not happened but in theory could. The question is whether these witch hunts with an independent panel are more likely, or a non-independent panel sweeping violations under the rug).

However, if you wanted to make those arguments, which are valid, you probably don’t want to pass it quickly under cover of darkness. You want to make sure a majority of voters understand what’s going on and you have bipartisan support. If the arguments aren’t strong enough to garner that kind of support, you’re probably just being an ass.

How to Behave and Why

Every time we tell a lie we mix ourselves up more.
After a while almost no one will believe us —
but worse than that —
We can't believe ourselves, or anyone else, because we don't really know what the truth is
any more than a penguin
and that is a stupid way to live
As anyone can tell you.

—Munro Leaf in How to Behave and Why (1946), summarizing 2016. (You may recognize Leaf as the author of The Story of Ferdinand.)