Goodman: Trump’s travel ban betrays U.S. ideals, yet won’t keep nation safer

People protest against President Trump's ban on immigrants returning from a list of seven countries at the Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday, January 29, 2017. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
People protest against President Trump’s ban on immigrants returning from a list of seven countries at the Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday, January 29, 2017. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

We’re thrilled that more than 200 Palm Beach County citizens rushed to the airport Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from certain Muslim countries.

The overly broad and badly thought-through executive order, issued with sudden swiftness on Friday without consulting the government agencies that are supposed to interpret and enforce it, is billed as an essential tool against terrorism. In reality, it is dividing America against its allies and inflaming our radical-Islamic enemies.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat and former mayor of West Palm Beach, who joined the protest at Palm Beach International Airport, put it aptly:

“Lady Liberty is crying and ISIS is laughing,” she said.

We all want to reduce the threat of terrorism. But this temporary ban on travel from seven Muslim nations (Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen) is more of an emotional response to the threat than a logical one.

Since 9/11, none of the horrific attacks we’ve seen on American soil, such as the mass killing of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, has been committed by a migrant or a refugee, but by American citizens like Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, who was born in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

While Trump and his political adviser Stephen K. Bannon say the 120-day suspension is needed to review vetting procedures, the screening of Syrian refugees is already extensive — a process that takes 18 months to two years.

Trump’s executive order is a gift to his political base, to whom he promised muscular action against Islamic radicalism. But it is an intellectually-thin answer to a gnarly, difficult problem. Our suspicion is that it is a cynical tossing of red meat to Trump voters, rather than a serious effort to make America safer.

It is telling that Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the new secretary of defense, was not consulted during the formation of the order or given the chance to give input. Last summer, Mattis sharply criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration as a move “causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through the international system.”

It is significant that tech-industry leaders, after months of cautiously engaging with the new president, attacked the travel ban. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Uber Technologies Inc. and other companies expressed concern about the immigration order’s effect on their employees, with some executives saying the ban violated their personal and company principles.

The ramifications of tighter immigration rules stretch from retail to finance to meat packing to construction. In Silicon Valley, which relies on skilled foreigners to fill key roles, the order resonates with prominent founders, executives and engineers, many of whom were also foreign-born.

The executive order is a betrayal of America’s traditions of openness, inclusion and opportunity for the world’s oppressed and the world’s talented. The order’s exceptions for Christian refugees veer ominously toward violating the First Amendment’s guarantee that the government will favor no religion over another.

The scores who braved the rain and an uncharacteristic Florida chill on Sunday to demand that America live up to those principles were standing in for millions of Americans who are refusing to sit by while this new administration attempts to lurch the ship of state in a dangerous, self-defeating, ultra-nationalist direction.

Be sure to take our poll above … and let us know what you think in the Comments section below.

Christie: Post readers take us to task over op-ed criticizing Women’s March

People take part in the Women's March on Palm Beach at the Meyer Amphitheatre Saturday afternoon. Those who participated said the came out to show a united front in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. Organizers estimated that 7,000-plus people showed up for the rally. (Damon Higgins / Daily News)
People take part in the Women’s March on Palm Beach at the Meyer Amphitheatre Saturday afternoon. Those who participated said the came out to show a united front in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. Organizers estimated that 7,000-plus people showed up for the rally. (Damon Higgins / Daily News)

Our readers took us to task this week over our publishing of a Point of View letter from Donna M. Carbone of Palm Beach Gardens.

Ms. Carbone, a frequent letter writer, took issue with the reasons and necessity for the Women’s March events on Saturday — including the event held here in West Palm Beach attended by 7,000-plus people.

“The civil rights movement was about real injustice — active wrongs that people were trying to make right. The Women’s March was about perceived injustice — the potential for wrongs that would need to be made right if they actually happened.”

And many of our readers took issue with us for running Carbone’s  Point of View.

Among the more than 225 comments on the commentary was this from Josie Crespo:  “You guys published an article about a Palm Beach Gardens resident’s point of view and we should care. Why?”

This from Donna Courtney: “Who cares what a comfortable white woman has to say? Get back to your Mah-Jong game and let the rest of us save the country.”

And this from Angie Dimos Gonzalez: “I love an article written by someone who wasn’t there. Nice going Palm Beach Post, doesn’t get much dumber than that.”

That’s fine. We can take it.

We appreciate the level of engagement on this controversial topic, but we want to remind folks that we value the diversity of opinions in our community; and Ms. Carbone is certainly welcome to hers.

We don’t have to agree or disagree with a reader’s opinion to publish it. We ask only that it is civil, topical and doesn’t play fast-and-loose with known facts.

What’s more, it is a fact that not every woman agreed with the “Women’s March.” We felt that if Ms. Carbone was willing to share her feelings with the Post, the community would benefit from engaging in a healthy debate.

As a result of the comments on her commentary, Ms. Carbone responded with her own today. She writes:

“As is so often the case these days, many people read my editorial through an ideological lens rather than taking the words at face value. I have no doubt that 90 percent of the women who attended the march did so with pure hearts. I believe they actually thought they were marching for a cause. Unfortunately, all the media allowed to be heard was more hateful rhetoric spewed by celebrities who turned the march away from an event about SOMETHING and made it a revolt against SOMEONE. The minute it became a hate fest, any hope of being heard in Washington was lost…”

You can read the entirety of her post here.

And thanks again for engaging with us, and we appreciate your taking time to comment.

Goodman: In inaugural address, Trump comes out like a boxer, squaring off for a fight

President Donald Trump takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, as his wife Melania holds the Bible, and with his children Barron, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Pool Photo via AP)
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, as his wife Melania holds the Bible, and with his children Barron, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Pool Photo via AP)

A billionaire who has spent his lifetime enriching himself and feeding an insatiable ego began the 45th presidency of the United States by telling the American people that “this moment is your moment, this moment belongs to you.”

In his inaugural address, the newly installed President Donald J. Trump revisited the dark caricature of the United States that he depicted in campaign rally after rally: a nightmare of shuttered factories and gang-infested inner cities, of out-of-touch elites that ignore the forgotten man and woman, of a government that placates foreign countries but leaves its own southern border unprotected.

“The American carnage,” as he called it, “stops right here.” He sounded more like a guy squaring off for a fight than a statesman celebrating the peaceful passing of power and the continuance of America’s traditions of freedom.

Read Donald Trump’s inaugural speech: the full transcript

The new president did not mention that the Dow is approaching 20,000, the unemployment rate is down to 4.7 percent, average hourly wages are almost 3 percent higher than a year ago, or that we’ve had 75 straight months of job growth, a record for the modern era. These facts did not fit his narrative of a country in dire straits, desperate for a dramatic rescue.

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump declared. “It’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Surely Trump knows that the phrase “America First” was the name of Charles Lindbergh’s pro-German isolationist movement that preceded World War II. Just as surely, he doesn’t care.

Consistent with his campaign, Trump insisted that every decision on economics, foreign affairs and immigration will be made “to benefit American workers and their families.” That’s a worthy goal, but how will that be accomplished with a Cabinet led by billionaires who oppose environmental regulation, public schools and universal access to affordable healthcare?

“Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength,” the new president said — an assertion that must surprise the many economists who warn that protectionism is more likely to lead to countermeasures, trade wars and possible recession.

Trump invoked no history in his address. He gave no indication that he stood on the shoulders of giants. Instead, he spoke of his inauguration as the beginning of a new glorious epoch, a separation from a disappointing past. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams,” he said.

Although he talked about how this day, this moment, belongs to “the people,” Trump had nothing to say about how these decisions would be arrived at. There was mention of the people’s collective wisdom. No talk about the give-and-take of democratic discussion. Instead, he told Americans, “You will never be ignored again.” And, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.”

Trump wants us to enter a new mythos. He, the superhero who takes down the selfish elites. He, the fighter for the little guy who would be helpless without him.

“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

He finished by pumping his arms in the air, the gesture of a winning prizefighter.

Trump protesters gather in West Palm, just west of Mar-a-Lago

Christie: Post readers share their hopes, fears for Trump presidency

On Friday, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

We wanted to know how Palm Beach Post readers felt about it, and what they wanted from Trump presidency.

So we asked: Are you excited? Cautiously optimistic? Worried?

President-elect Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office to become the 45th president of the United States on Friday.
President-elect Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office to become the 45th president of the United States on Friday.

In 200 words or less, we asked them to write him a letter and tell the incoming President their hopes for his presidency. How would they want him to govern?

We will publish some of the nearly 100 readers’ letters online later today, and in the Post on Inauguration Day.

Many were critical, some were congratulatory, most were hopeful.

At noon today, we hosted a Facebook Live chat on The Palm Beach Post and The Palm Beach Post Opinion pages to share some of those letters.

Well, some were long, some were short. But probably our favorites was this:

Dear President-elect Trump:

It’s not about you. Remember that.

Benedict Ives, Jupiter, Fla.

That’s because it summed up a string that ran through pretty much every letter we received; whether it was hopeful or apprehensive.

Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section. What do you hope for from about a Trump presidency?

Christie: Rising tide of horse manure threatens Palm Beach County water, FAU prof warns

Frank Merlino of JH Hauling & Services Inc. in Wellington prepares a pile of horse manure for disposal. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Frank Merlino of JH Hauling & Services Inc. in Wellington prepares a pile of horse manure for disposal. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Only in Wellington and Loxahatchee Groves could horse manure be an issue.

And only this time of year would that issue be a topic of discussion.

As Post contributor J. William Louda, a research professor in Florida Atlantic University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Environmental Sciences Program, noted this morning:

“The equestrian season is once again upon us.

Catherine Sullivan rides Belladonna Z during a competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington last month. The Winter Equestrian Festival starts this week, and runs to April 2 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Catherine Sullivan rides Belladonna Z during a competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington last month. The Winter Equestrian Festival starts this week, and runs to April 2 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

This a fantastic industry that provides many jobs, financial gains for Palm Beach County and tremendous entertainment for observers, such as myself. However, it also comes with a huge environmental burden — hundreds of thousands of tons of nitrogen and phosphorus-laden wastes.

I have been studying phosphorus pollution from horse manure and bedding wastes for more than a decade, and can offer some simple math. The waters of South Florida need to have low levels of phosphorus for the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and our coastal waters to function properly. The target for the Everglades is 10 parts per billion (10 ppb = 10 micrograms per liter).

One point source that I sampled was a nursery that has a lot of horse waste … “

Louda, who was quoted often during last summer’s toxic algae crisis, has also been a bit of a lightning rod for critics of the sugar industry’s alleged role in helping cause the pollution in Lake Okeechobee that spilled into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee River estuaries.

But bringing Wellington’s high-minded equestrian community — during equestrian season — into the debate could be the last straw for some.

In fact, calling today’s Point of View op-ed “horse manure” may be the most appropos pun of all.

What do you think?

Christie: Tell us: How do we stop these mass shootings?

People take cover at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport after a gunman killed 5 people and injured many more on January 6, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
People take cover at the Fort Lauderdale Airport after a gunman killed 5 people and injured many more on Jan. 6. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

What do we do now?

What do we do after another mass shooting by an alleged mentally ill individual takes the lives of so many.

Even more disturbing is how the Friday afternoon bloodbath at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport further exposes how our airport terminals are big, tempting — some say, soft — targets for armed individuals who want to terrorize or just kill other people.

In March, three coordinated suicide bombings in Brussels, Belgium – two at Brussels Airport and one at a metro station – killed 32 civilians and injured more than 300. The airport explosions were in a departure hall.

In October, three gunmen with automatic weapons and suicide bombs staged an attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 45 people and injuring 230. Two of the attackers opened fire near a security checkpoint’s x-ray scanner, and detonated bombs when police returned fire. The third attacker set off a bomb in the parking lot across the street from the terminal.

And now, Fort Lauderdale. According to the latest reports, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago got off a Delta Airlines flight from Anchorage, Alaska, pulled his gun from his checked bag in the baggage area, loaded it in the bathroom and shot at least 13 people — killing five and sending eight people to nearby Broward Health Medical Center.

Santiago, who was discharged from the Army National Guard in August for “unsatisfactory performance,” served in Iraq for about a year starting in 2010. He was a combat engineer.

CNN reported that Santiago showed up at the Anchorage FBI office recently, and was checked into a mental facility after he said he heard voices telling him to join ISIS. And members of his family are now telling media outlets that Santiago “lost his mind in Iraq.”

Whatever his reason may be, our minds automatically go what we can do to prevent this from happening again on U.S. soil. A few ideas:

  1. Stop allowing passengers to carry guns and ammunition in their checked bags on airline flights.
  2. Beef up armed security at U.S. airports and ease restrictions on stop and frisk.
  3. Keep mentally ill people from owning and acquiring firearms in the first place.

But what freedoms would we be willing to give up as a result?

For example, American travelers are notorious for not wanting anything to slow down — read that, ruin — their vacations. We bristle, for example, every time we have to take off our shoes or belt at the airport security checkpoint.

What would you suggest? Tell us: How do we stop these mass shootings?

Christie: Asking ‘courtesy’ from Senate Dems may be too much with Sessions pick for AG

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is shown while meeting with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)
FILE – In this Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is shown while meeting with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

“Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.”

That’s how Alabama NAACP leaders chose to write out the name of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice to become U.S. Attorney General, in a letter to the Senate leadership denouncing Sessions’ controversial nomination. As a reminder, they said. Of what, they didn’t say.

But it should come as little surprise that Sessions, four-term senator from Alabama, is not well-liked or well-respected in the civil rights community. Most notably by his nomination to federal judgeship by then-President Regan being famously shot down by a Republican Congress over alleged racist comments to co-workers and others. There is also his lack of support for expansion of the federal Voting Rights Act and other stances over the years.

Thus, many in the civil rights community cannot fathom Sessions differentiating between upholding federal that has protected so many for decades and his own well-publicized ideological bent.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, speaks out against the selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as the nominee for Attorney General, while joined by fellow members of the caucus, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. (Al Drago/The New York Times)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, speaks out against the selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as the nominee for Attorney General, while joined by fellow members of the caucus, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

All that stuff’s all in the past say his supporters, who have increasingly come out of the woodwork in recent weeks to defend Sessions as a “decent” man “who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”

Post letter writer Thomas F. Carney sought to make that very argument in today’s Point of View column:

How disappointing that Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have refused courtesy visits from Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general. The reasons range from objections based on racist comments Sessions allegedly made more than 30 years ago — which he has denied — or that his background will make it impossible for him to enforce the civil rights laws.

To judge someone on what was allegedly said so many years ago but ignore what that person has actually done over the years defies common sense and fairness.

He championed the passage of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. Prior law had disproportionately negatively impacted minority communities.

As U.S. attorney, Sessions enforced civil rights laws including a case which essentially bankrupted the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama.

Sessions has a history of working in a bipartisan manner to protect the rights of some of the weakest amongst us, including his active support for the Victims Rights Amendment.

But a few Post readers took issue with Carney’s assertion that Senate Democrats are denying Sessions the traditional “courtesy visits” allowed all nominees. And go on to quesiton whether he even deserves the courtesy. According to one:

I tried Googling both in general and under News, and the letter from Carney is the only reference I can find to discourtesy, organized or individual, regarding Ol’ Jeff. Closest I’ve seen is that they want to prolong the hearings until they can confirm that he doesn’t hang his white sheet in his Senate office.

Or has Mr. Carney been reading Breitbart? And if so, how did I, Trump miss it?

Likely, Carney was extrapolating from this Dec. 26 Wall Street Journal piece:

Ms. Feinstein might have started to demystify this sphinx with a traditional nominee courtesy call, but the Californian and other Judiciary Democrats abruptly cancelled the scheduled meetings and then skipped town for Christmas recess. Democrats at Senate Finance are following the same strategy with other nominees, but the Sessions snub is a remarkable way to treat a longtime colleague.

Is Sessions getting a raw deal here, or his rightful comeuppance? Tell us what you think in the “Comments” section.

Christie: Does it really matter if Walmart sells ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirts?

In this October 2015 photo, a man wears a hoodie which reads, "Black Lives Matter" as stands on the lawn of the Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In this October 2015 photo, a man wears a hoodie which reads, “Black Lives Matter” as stands on the lawn of the Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington during a rally to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Blacks Lives Matter, the movement born out of the fatal shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, is a lightning rod for controversy.

That’s because no matter the explanation about why it exists, largely as a statement against the questionable shooting of unarmed black men by law enforcement officers, folks tend to come down on one side or the other.

The whole Black Lives Matter-vs-Blue Lives Matter issue blew up again last month when retail giant Walmart agreed to stop selling t-shorts and hooded sweatshirts online that read “Bulletproof. Black Lives Matter” on them.

The move came after the Fraternal Order of Police wrote Walmart asking it to pull the shirts, which are actually sold via a third-party vendor — Connecticut-based Old Glory Merchandise — not by Walmart itself.

“Commercializing our differences will not help our local police and communities to build greater respect for one another. Turning a buck on strained relationships will not contribute to the healing process,” FOP president Chuck Canterbury wrote.

Regardless, before the FOP request, Walmart had come under fire from right-wing website Breitbart for continuing to sell the items while caving the previous year to left-wing groups by dropping items that displayed the Confederate flag.

The Post’s Dec. 21 story, Walmart no longer selling ‘Black Lives Matter‘ shirts following police complaints” also prompted reader response. Many didn’t even know Walmart offered Black Lives Matter — and yes, Blue Lives Matter — apparel on its website.

Post letter writer Reginald Osbourne of Delray Beach took issue with Walmart’s decision as an affront to African-Americans:

As a black man and a law-abiding taxpayer who loves God and our great country, the removal of the Black Lives Matter t-shirts is not only offensive to me but also an outright disrespect to my family and the millions of black people who shop at these stores every day.
Black Lives Matter is not against our police or any other race of people. They are against the injustices and discrimination that’s taking place against a large segment of people of color.
If Walmart had shirts in their stores that said “Jewish Lives Matter” and a complaint was made by some customers that said that these shirts were offensive to them, would Walmart have these shirts removed? America is sensitive to the suffering of six million Jews and so are we, along with millions of black Americans who feel the pain concerning this Holocaust to our Jewish family.
However, it seems to me that a lot of people are less sensitive to the millions of our black ancestors who were brought over to America in slave ships and helped to build this great country, who have fought in every war, bled and died in these wars.

Walmart said in a statement, “Like other online retailers, we have a marketplace with millions of items offered by third parties that includes Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter merchandise. After hearing concerns from customers, we are removing the specific item with the ‘bulletproof’ reference.”

Again, Walmart only removed the shirts with the words “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” on its website.
By the way, the FOP sent a similar letter to Amazon, which has not responded.
Tell us what you think about this controversy in the comments.

Goodman: New House GOP’s first action doesn’t exactly ‘drain the swamp’

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2016 file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republicans' grip on all levers of power stands as a mandate to the GOP-led Congress, which will move swiftly to try to undo eight years of outgoing President Barack Obama's agenda. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 8. On Monday, Ryan opposed the changes in House rules voted on by members, but today he defended them. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

UPDATE (12:24 p.m.): Shortly after noon today, the House Republicans backed off their plan to gut the ethics watchdog, after receiving the critical tweet from President-elect Donald Trump. 

UPDATE 2 (12:43 p.m.): So, apparently, Donald Trump, with a couple of tweets, has more power than Paul Ryan and the other ostensible House leaders to influence the rank and file Republicans. Is the House leadership now actually in the hands of the president-elect?

As their first major act of the 115th Congress, House Republicans on Monday night voted behind closed doors to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.

That’s right. Less than two months after Americans chose the presidential candidate who promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Donald J. Trump’s own party voted to rein in an independent ethics office, created eight years ago after a series of embarrassing congressional scandals, and put it under the control of the House Ethics Committee.

In other words: let House members police their own darn ethics.

Trump himself criticized the House for making the weakening of the ethics watchdog their first priority, saying, in a pair of tweets this morning, that there were better things to work on: “Tax reform, healthcare, and so many other things of far greater importance!”

Of course, to the public it seems no accident at all that Congress would make its first priority the weakening of the independent agency: It looks like they’re clearing the way for all sorts of skulduggery.

It’s a bad sign of how this Congress intends to do business that this vote was reached in a private conference vote, meaning that no Democrats were involved or forced to vote.  If, as alleged, the independent ethics office has acted unfairly against some members, why not make that a public discussion, rather than offer up that explanation after the secret vote was taken?

It’s not the first sign of anti-democratic tendencies from this new Congress. Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican lieutenants proposed new penalties for lawmakers if they live-stream or cause disruptions on the House floor. It’s a direct response to House Democrats’ 25-hour sit-in last summer over GOP inaction on gun-control legislation.

As Bloomberg News reported:

Under the proposed new rules package, which was seen by Bloomberg News, members could face a $500 fine through deductions to their paychecks for a first offense of using electronic photography or audio or visual recording, as well as for broadcasting from the chamber’s floor. A $2,500 fine would be leveled for the next such offense and each subsequent violation.

The new rules also clarify which conduct is to be deemed disorderly or disruptive during floor proceedings, including blocking access by other members to microphones or what is known as “the well” — the front of the chamber.

In our editorial on Sunday, we urged citizens to be vigilant in this new year to “keep the politicians from shredding the safety net, betraying the environment and knee-capping our democracy.”

These moves, which smack of a ruling party making things cozy for itself, are just the kind of knee-capping we were talking about.

Let us know here if you think House Republicans are being hypocrites, and have gone too far?