Colson: Not even 4 weeks in, the federal mess is getting worse
Hit & Run
Maybe we should hold the 2016 election over again, now that we have a more complete picture of what the administration of President Donald J. Trump and its Republican cohorts want to do with their new-found power.
Their goal, apparently, is to dismantle the federal regulatory apparatus in a way that will give corporations and the wealthy everything they want, gives the rest of us nothing but misery and diminished expectations, and ensure that the mess they have made can’t be fixed easily.
In the past couple of weeks, we have been treated to quite a disquieting series of events that have convinced me that Trump and crew not only do not know what they’re doing, but they appear convinced that they cannot be held accountable for the dumb things they do.
The Republican leadership shut down Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, forcing her off the Senate floor last week during Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing for the job of U.S. attorney general. She was reading into the record a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr., condemning Sessions’ record of racism and intolerance and opposing his nomination as a federal judge in Atlanta.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, claimed that Warren’s reading of King’s letter was an act of “impugning a peer” (Sessions, a senator from Alabama until he was confirmed as attorney general). How that could be true, I’m not quite sure, since Sessions was not confirmed in that 30-year-old controversy for some of the very reasons King was referring to in her letter.
On another day, Trump threatened to destroy a Texas state senator’s career after that senator, in Texas, was reported to support legislation that drug dealers should be convicted before drug agencies can use civil forfeiture regulations to take away all his stuff. Trump’s threat was a casual, off-the-cuff, kind-of-joking statement at a meeting with Texas sheriffs, just the kind of thing a nascent fascist dictator might say as further proof he has no respect for democratic institutions or the rule of law.
In North Carolina, where a three-judge panel recently reversed the Legislature’s move to strip powers from the newly elected Democratic governor, the GOP threw a fit and denounced the judges, just as Trump denounced judges who temporarily foiled his temporary immigration ban. Seems the GOP has forgotten that the judiciary is one of the three distinct parts of government, and a big part of its job is to act as a “check and balance” against legislative and executive overreach.
Then there’s the whole brouhaha about first daughter Ivanka Trump’s clothing line (made in sweatshops overseas, not in the U.S.) and the fact that it has fared so poorly in some national chain stores that they have dropped the line.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway generated a rolling howl of protest from critics after she violated federal ethics rules by touting Ivanka Trump’s clothing line during a Fox News interview Feb. 9. She actually at one point said proudly, “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today.” Numerous people have called for a federal investigation into her violation of federal ethics rules, which specifically make it a criminal offense to make money off one’s governmental work, although Trump is not one of them (surprise, surprise, surprise!).
And now I read that Trump, his own orange-headed self, may face ethics questions over his lambasting of Nordstom’s department store in the wake of it dropping his daughter’s clothing line. Even some of Trump’s most fawningly slavish supporters have had trouble with this one.
A side note: Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, at one point asked for a review of the situation by the Office of Government Ethics, but later was chased out of his own town hall meeting by angry voters after he indicated he had no intention of holding hearings by his own committee. This from a man who wasted untold amounts of congressional time and money by holding hearing after hearing about Hillary Clinton’s email servers without ever coming up with enough evidence of wrongdoing to file charges against her.
But, hey, according to the administration’s deeply confused disinformation expert, White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Conway has been “counseled” about the misstep — and that’s all there will be to that, thank you very much.
And, of course, the Liar in Chief has continued making his false claims that he would have won the popular vote (which Clinton won by roughly 3 million votes) if 5 million illegal aliens had not cast ballots in her favor.
The latest barrage of foolishness was during a meeting with U.S. senators, supposedly a chance for him to talk about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but which the president turned into an oh-so-familiar rant about the election.
Seems the guy simply cannot abide the fact that, if we didn’t have the outmoded and undemocratic Electoral College system messing with our elections, he would not be president today.
It could be, of course, that he is wishing he had lost, as reports surface that he’s bedeviled by how tough his new job is, compared to the relative ease of being the top dog in a family-held business.
Lastly, I feel obliged to note that Trump’s approval rating had climbed from its low of 40 percent two days before the inauguration on Jan. 18, all the way up to 44 percent last Friday, according to a poll conducted by the Public Policy Polling organization — then dropped back down to 40 over the weekend.
According to The Washington Post, Trump stood at 43 percent approval rating Feb. 7, but his disapproval rating (the percentage of citizens who did not like the job he was doing) was at 50 percent, giving him a “net approval rating” of -7 percent.
I ask again, is there some way we could hold the 2016 election over again?
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