Trotsky explains Donald Trump to you: Our idiot president is a “substitute” who represents America’s mass ignorance and bottomless narcissism How Trump's ludicrous rise mirrors the process that brought Stalin to power — and, mercifully, how it doesn't ANDREW O'HEHIR
Trump is not a substitute for any social class or coherent political grouping, only for the mass stupidity, small-mindedness and narcissism that has long festered at the bottom of the American pond. He has already proven to be the most incompetent president any living person has ever seen or will ever see, and his “movement” is nothing more than a transitory moment, a collective fantasy of disgruntled and semi-downtrodden white people who feel unhappy about something but aren’t sure what it is or whom to blame.
Trump's attack on Comey goes beyond a personal insult and act of egregious lying, as well as, in all likelihood, an obstruction of justice. It is also a register of his attempt to discredit criticism and the shared public reality among institutions that is central to a democracy. The dissolution of public goods and the public sphere has been underway since the late 1970s, and Trump capitalizes on that in an attempt to both depoliticize and bind the American people through a kind of dystopian legitimacy in which words no longer matter and anything can be said. He works to undermine the capacity for truth telling and political speech itself. Under the Trump regime, consistent narratives rooted in forms of civic illiteracy and a deep distrust of the truth and the ethical imagination have become the glue of authoritarian power. All of this is reinforced by a disdain for measured arguments, an embrace of the spectacle and an alignment with a banal theater of celebrity culture. In this context, rumors are more important than truth telling. Indeed, in this theater of the absurd, society loses its safeguards against lies, corruption and authoritarianism. In a culture of short attention spans, Trump provides a tsunami of misrepresentations and values in which thinking is done by others, power is exercised by a ruling elite, and people are urged to cease narrating their own experiences and give up their ability to govern rather than be governed. Trump offers his followers a world in which nothing is connected, destabilized perceptions reinforce a politics that turns lethal and community becomes dystopian -- unconnected to any viable democratic reality.
welcome to trumpland
Lies, Lies, & More Lies from traitor -in-chief, putin's bitch
july 26, 2017
Paul Krugman: Trump Is a Monster Straight Out of 'The Twilight Zone'
"...Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child, bored by details and easily frustrated when things don’t go his way; being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad...Right now, by all accounts, the child-man in chief is in a snit over the prospect of news stories that review his first 100 days and conclude that he hasn’t achieved much if anything (because he hasn’t). So last week he announced the imminent release of something he could call a tax plan..."
26 hours, 29 Trumpian false or misleading claims
By Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee July 26 at 3:00 AM
From Washington Post: In a period of less than 26 hours — from 6:31 p.m. on July 24 to 8:09 p.m. on July 25 — President Trump made two fired-up speeches, held a news conference and tweeted with abandon, leaving a trail of misinformation in his wake. Here’s a roundup of his suspect claims. National Scout Jamboree at Glen Jean, W.Va., 6:31 p.m. EST, July 24, 2017
“19th Boy Scout Jamboree, wow, and to address such a tremendous group. Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it’s about 200 people. It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today. You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me.” The figure of 45,000 is not official but if so, that would not be a record. The most-attended single-sitejamboree was held in 1964, in Valley Forge, Pa., with 50,960 attendees. In 1973, the jamboree was held in two sites, in Idaho and Pennsylvania, for a total of 73,610 attendees. (Those are raw numbers. In terms of percentage of Boy Scouts attending, 2010 holds the record.) At last count, 26,000 Scouts were expected at the 2017 event, suggesting it would fall well short of the record. “Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8th. Do we remember that date? Was that a beautiful date? What a date.” Trump equates the rise of the stock market since the election as a demonstration of a good economy. But the stock market had already been rising for years before he was elected — and he called it “a big, fat, ugly bubble.” “And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the electoral college — popular vote is much easier.” According to a tally by John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College, every Republican president since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 won a larger share of the electoral college votes than Trump, with the exception of George W. Bush (twice) and Nixon in 1968. “We had the best jobs report in 16 years. The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high.” Trump appears to referring to the fact that the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in June, which is a 16-year low. (This was a slight increase from 4.3 percent in May.) The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January, when Trump took office — and when he campaigned for president he routinely said the unemployment numbers were phony and were actually as high as 42 percent. (The actual jobs report was nothing special, with fewer jobs created than in June 2016.) As we noted, during the campaign Trump often said the stock market was in “a big, fat, ugly bubble.” Now he celebrates its continued rise. “And very soon, Rick, we will be an energy exporter. Isn’t that nice — an energy exporter? In other words, we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe.” The United States is already exporting energy, and has exported more than it has imported since 2015. Led by the hydraulic fracturing techniques, the United States and the rest of the world have been in the midst of an energy revolution that began nearly 15 years ago. Saudi Arabia leads the world with one-fifth of the world’s oil reserves... --- The Washington Post is owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Amazon does not own The Post, but in any case the president’s claims about “no-tax” Amazon are out of date. Amazon used to lobby to keep Internet sales free from state taxes, but no more. As of March, Amazon is collecting sales tax on purchases in every state that has one.
Trump is referring to efforts by a Ukrainian American operative to expose former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to the Russian government. But the comparison to the Russian probe is overblown and facile, making a similar criminal probe problematic.
One fundamental difference is that Ukraine is considered a U.S. ally, and Russia is considered an adversary. Moreover, U.S. intelligence officials found a top-down effort, initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to illegally hack and release information in a deliberate attempt to meddle in the U.S. election and undermine the democratic system. There is no such evidence of a top-down effort in the Ukrainian case.
Instead, a Ukrainian American Democratic operative named Alexandra Chalupa began looking into Manafort’s ties to Viktor Yanukovych, a former pro-Russian president of Ukraine, as a part of her volunteer work in 2014. She apparently received some guidance from the Ukrainian Embassy in order to locate public documents. That’s entirely different from state-sponsored illegal hacking. There’s also no evidence that the DNC used information gathered by Chalupa or that the Ukrainians coordinated opposition research with the DNC. Trump conflates a number of issues here in his continuing effort to force his attorney general from office because of his anger that Sessions followed Justice Department guidance and recused himself from the Russia probe. The Clinton email issue was exhaustively investigated by the FBI, with the conclusion a year ago that she was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information but did not intend to violate any laws. “In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” FBI Director James B. Comey said in July 2016. There is no evidence that Clinton was involved in the question of whether the Democratic National Committee’s servers should be turned over to the FBI as part of the investigation into Russian-linked hacking after the DNC was hacked. The FBI and the Democratic National Committee disagree on whether the FBI requested access to the DNC’s servers. Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau made “multiple requests at different levels” to access the DNC’s servers, but the DNC said the FBI never requested access.
The DNC allowed a private company, CrowdStrike, to review its database and share findings with the FBI. “We got the forensics from the pros that they hired which — again, best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves, but this my folks tell me was an appropriate substitute,” Comey said.
It’s worth noting here that the DNC was the victim in this instance, and yet Trump without evidence seems to be accusing it of a crime. Moreover, it was Trump himself who said after the election that it would be not be appropriate to investigate Clinton any further, so Sessions presumably was following his guidance. --- Trump news conference, 3:30 p.m., July 25, 2017
“Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.” Trump made this comment at a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. But Hariri is only in power because of a deal he struck with Michel Aoun, Hezbollah’s main Christian ally, to make Aoun president. Hezbollah, the militant group, dominates the Lebanese cabinet and is more powerful than the official Lebanese army, recently launching an operation against a militant group in the eastern town of Arsal. So it’s a bit odd for Trump to suggest the Lebanese government is fighting Hezbollah. “Obamacare is a disaster. It’s failing on every front. It’s too expensive. It gives horrible coverage.” Trump continues with his overheated rhetoric on the Affordable Care Act, with as usual few specifics. Credible estimates suggest the health-care law boosted the number of people with health insurance by 20 million. The Congressional Budget Office, in its reports on the GOP replacement bills, said that the individual market would be stable in most markets at least for the next 10 years under the Affordable Care Act. As for Obamacare being too expensive, most people who participate in the exchanges receive tax subsidies that shield them from premium increases. The health-care costs have slowed since the passage of the ACA, though the jury is out that the law is mostly responsible. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that cumulative premium increases were 63 percent for 2001-2006, 31 percent for 2006-2011 and 20 percent for 2011-2016. Trump rally in Youngstown, Ohio, 7:14 p.m., July 25, 2017“Don’t even think about it, we will build that wall.” Congress refused to provide funding for the wall in the 2017 budget and prospects for funds being approved in the 2018 budget are dim because of continued congressional opposition. Trump has all but dropped mention of the notion of Mexico paying for the cost of the wall, a key campaign promise. “After years and years of sending our jobs and our wealth to other countries, we are finally standing up for our workers and our companies” Of course, Trump himself has a long history of outsourcing a variety of his products and has acknowledged doing so. (During the campaign, we counted at least 12 countries that made Trump products.) Even during Trump’s “Made in America” week, when he urged manufacturers and consumers to “buy American, hire American,” his family’s company continued to rely on foreign workers. Another of Trump’s golf courses recently filed a request to hire 10 foreign workers to be waiters. Further, the fashion line of Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser to the president, is out of step with the principles championed by her father. “Unemployment last month hit a 16-year low.” Trump once again is referring to the fact that the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in June, which is a 16-year low. (This was a slight increase from 4.3 percent in May.) The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January, when Trump took office — and when he campaigned for president he routinely said the unemployment numbers were phony and were actually as high as 42 percent. “Since my election, we’ve added much more than 1 million jobs. Think of that.” It’s unclear why Trump would give himself credit for jobs created in the last three months of President Barack Obama’s term. In the five months since Trump took office, 863,000 jobs have been created — fewer than the last five months of Obama’s second term. Indeed, Trump is falling behind on his promise to create 10 million jobs in his first term. “We’ve achieved an historic increase in defense spending.” Trump’s proposed defense increase is relatively modest — and not yet been approved by Congress. “Boy, have we put those coal miners and coal back on the map.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 800 jobs have been created in the coal industry since Trump became president — an increase of less than 2 percent. Administration officials often misleadingly refer to “mining” jobs, which mostly consist of jobs in the oil sector, which has rebounded from a price slump that has little to do with administration policies. “We can’t believe you gave [Iran] between $100 and $150 billion when they were ready to fail.” In knocking the international agreement with Iran to freeze its nuclear ambitions, Trump makes it sound like the Obama administration provided the Islamic republic with U.S. taxpayer money. Because of international sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran had billions of dollars in assets that were frozen in foreign banks around the globe. With sanctions lifted, in theory those funds would be unlocked. Trump uses too high an estimate of the funds made available to Iran. The Treasury Department has estimated that once Iran fulfills other obligations, it would have about $55 billion left. (Much of the other money was obligated to illiquid projects in China.) For its part, the Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion, not $55 billion. “[Harley Davidson says] when we sell a motorcycle in certain countries we have as much as 100 percent tax to pay.” Trump probably is referring to the tariff that Harley-Davidson faces in India, which imposes a 100 percent import tariff on motorcycles. But the company has been able to get around the tariff by assembling its bikes in India. In March 2017, when Trump introduced this talking point, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported: “In India, where big touring motorcycles and cars are saddled with a 100% import tariff, Harley’s sales have grown by a brisk 30% in the past two years. That’s largely because the company has been able to get around the tariff by assembling bikes In India, something it’s done in that country since 2011.” “We have cut illegal immigration on our southern border by record numbers — 78 percent.” Trump’s anti-illegal-immigration rhetoric has contributed to lower border crossings along the Southwestern border, experts say. Despite seasonal trends, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border declined steadily since October 2016. In April 2017, apprehensions reached their lowest point since at least 2002. But since then, apprehensions are climbing again, more in line with seasonal trends. The figure Trump uses is exaggerated; he is comparing data from November or December 2016 (before he was inaugurated) compared to the lowest point in April 2017. There was just an 8.1 percent decline from February 2017 (the first full month of data from his presidency) through June 2017 (the latest data available). “We are throwing MS-13 the hell out of here so fast.… We are actually liberating towns and cities.” This is yet another exaggeration. Earlier this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted the largest gang surge to date. While about 1,000 gang members or affiliates were arrested, they were not yet deported out of the country as of June 2017. Moreover, just 104 were associated with MS-13. Still, there has been an increase in the rate of gang deportations in general to El Salvador (where MS-13 gang’s roots are) and Salvadoran officials are preparing for more. “This month in Chicago there have been more than two homicide victims per day.” The statistic is accurate, according to a database of Chicago-area homicides by the Chicago Tribune. But Trump always uses the outlier city of Chicago in order to paint a picture of widespread increase in violent crimes across the country. Homicides in Chicago are a concern, but it must be noted that overall, violent crime is on a decades-long decline, since the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s. An uptick in crime over a two- or three-year period does not necessarily indicate a new crime wave. “In West Virginia, recent premiums have gone up 169 percent since Obamacare went into effect. In Alaska, over 200 percent.” This is one of Trump’s favorite talking points on Obamacare, yet it’s still misleading. For 2017, the average increase in premiums before subsidies was 25 percent, so he is cherry-picking the highest end of premium increases. Moreover, Trump using data from the Department of Health and Human Services that do not take into account the effect of subsidies, which shield 84 percent of people in the exchanges from such extreme premium hikes. On average, eight out of 10 marketplace enrollees receive government premium subsidies, and they are protected from a premium increase (and may even see a decrease) if they stay with a low-cost plan. “We want millions of Americans lifted from welfare to work and from dependence to independence.” “Welfare” is a broad term and can apply to people who are working but receiving government assistance. If someone is receiving means-tested assistance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not working. In fact, eligibility for benefits often is contingent on searching for a job — in other words, working toward the “independence” that Trump mentions. “Actually if I get what I want, it will be the single biggest tax cut in American history.” The Trump administration has released no plan beyond a single sheet of paper. Even if it became a reality (there are reports that the tax plan is being scaled back), it still would be smaller than tax cuts passed by Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. “We have the highest taxes in the world.” Trump almost never gets this correct. The Pew Research Center, using 2014 data, found that the tax bill for Americans, under various scenarios, is below average for developed countries. In 2014, according to comparative tables of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), revenue as a percentage of the gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy — was 26 percent for the United States. Out of 34 countries, that put the United States in the bottom third — and well below the OECD average of 34.4 percent.
Trump Flips Out And Uses Fake News From Fox To Call For Criminal Investigation Into Clinton By Jason Easley on Tue, Jul 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am
From Politicus USA: Donald Trump had a freak out this morning after watching Sean Hannity on TiVo and used the Fox News program as his basis for demanding a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton.
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign - "quietly working to boost Clinton." So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity 3:03 AM - 25 Jul 2017
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife! 3:21 AM - 25 Jul 2017 --- The Pr*sident Of The United States is demanding a criminal investigation into his opponent from the 2016 election by his attorney general because of something that he saw on Fox News.
That is the true state of the union six months into Donald Trump’s term.
Trump wants a criminal investigation into Clinton so that he can both distract from his own Russia scandal, and he gets the added benefit of being able to “run” against Hillary Clinton again.
Donald Trump is a one trick pony who can’t govern so he is doing everything that he can imagine to the turn the presidency into a political campaign. Trump campaigns against the press. Trump campaigns against Hillary Clinton. Trump campaigns against his fellow Republicans, but the one thing that he doesn’t do is govern and lead the country.
Besides the scandals and conflicts of interest, the biggest problem that Trump has had since coming to the White House is that he has no governing mode. The country is moving forward, and Trump is stuck in 2016, and people like Sean Hannity are enabling this president’s delusional escape from reality.
Trump tells female reporter to be ‘quiet,’ berates journalists during intern photo op
“They’re not supposed to do that.”
From Think Progress: During a photo op with White House interns on Monday, President Donald Trump refused to answer questions from Associated Press reporter Catherine Lucey about whether he thinks Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign or has something he wants to say to the public about health care, instead telling her to be “quiet.”
Trump then turned to the interns and lectured them about how the press isn’t supposed to ask questions.
“They’re not supposed to do that, but they’re doing it, but they’re not supposed to,” he said. “So, she’s breaking — you know, she’s breaking a code, but they don’t care. They don’t care about breaking codes.”[...]
British Crowds Flock to Trump's Dummy Test Trip to UK
Trump Is Obsessed With His Twitter Following—Too Bad Most of His Followers Are Fake
Ever obsessed with popularity, the president loves to brag about his "millions of followers." By Celisa Calacal / AlterNet July 21, 2017, 11:59 AM GMT
President Donald Trump loves to brag about his Twitter following. As more revelations brewed around the Trump campaign’s possible involvement with Russia, Trump tweeted on June 17 about his overall social media following: 100 million strong, or so he claims, and Twitter of course being his favorite method of communication
A quick glance at Trump’s actual number of Twitter followers tells a different story, however; while president brags of about 34 million followers, the truth is far different. According to an analysis by Socialbakers in June for CNN Tech, one analytics tool estimates that 11.6 million of Trump's 32 million Twitter followers are either dormant or accounts run by bots.
"The analysis run by Twitter Audit, which estimates how many of an account’s following is made up of real people, gave Trump a 40 percent audit score and found that about 20 million of his followers are fake. Status People, another site that rates the authenticity of Twitter followers, found that 5 percent of Trump’s followers are fake and another 91 percent are inactive.
That Trump seemingly has more fake followers than real ones can be attributed to the existence of bots, an umbrella term referring to accounts with no profile picture and no tweets. A quick scroll through the most recent followers on the @realDonaldTrump account shows a number of accounts with Twitter’s default profile picture and no tweets, that seemed to have joined Twitter very recently.
Amassing bot followers is fairly easy. One only has to pay a certain amount of money, and voila, one has an instant bump in following count. A New York Times article by Nick Bilton describes the social media bot industry as a “giant pyramid scheme” often used by big-name brands, A-list celebrities and regular people seeking a “social media ego boost.”
Of course, Trump is not the only famous figure to have fake followers or bots. Politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also have bots following their verified Twitter accounts. The rub is that Trump’s account seems to have a larger number of bots and presumably fake accounts than any other politicians on Twitter— in comparison, Barack Obama received a 90 percent audit score from Twitter Audit, Hillary Clinton was given a 52 percent audit score and Sen. Bernie Sanders garnered an 89 percent score.
According to the Washington Post, academic research in 2016 found that bots supporting Trump “massively outperformed the bots supporting Clinton” by a 5 to 1 margin days before Election Day. The research paper found that 81.9 percent of “highly automated” accounts carried some form of pro-Trump messaging.
The fact that so many of Trump’s followers are ghost accounts made solely to amplify the president’s message should undermine his own unabashed boastfulness that he’s speaking to 100 million people each time he goes on one of his uncensored and often deleterious tweetstorms. But if the president has one quality that is painfully obvious, it is his penchant for attention and his constant hunger for validation; it’s his whole brand. Those millions of Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets serve as Trump’s affirmation, a co-sign from the public that he is indeed popular and powerful. After all, Trump has built his entire career, including his rise to the presidency, on popularity and a brazen wielding of power whenever it suits him.
If Trump is aware of the bots and fake accounts he has spawned, he’s done a fairly good job at hiding it. Of course, even if Trump were aware of his pooling of bots, he would decry these reports with his favorite phrase: "fake news." For a man whose ego is so fragile that he would even fabricate his own inauguration audience numbers, Trump needs those tens of millions of followers so much that he’ll even throw out a number like 100 million just to assert his dominance without even a simple fact check.
stupidity, the american way!!!
Draining the swamp — of brainpower: Trump’s corrupt administration is fueled by anti-intellectualism
Trump got elected by attacking "elites." But he didn't mean rich people — only those with education and expertise
CONOR LYNCH - SATURDAY, JUL 22, 2017 03:00 AM PDT
From Salon: On the campaign trail last year Donald Trump forcefully promoted himself as the anti-corruption candidate and famously promised that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington if elected president. “For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests they partner with, our campaign represents an existential threat,” boasted the candidate at one point during a speech in which he assailed the “corrupt political establishment” and the “corrupt Clinton machine.”
This populist rhetoric was critical to Trump’s success, and the Republican candidate was elected in large part because he was perceived by many as an outsider who would bring change to Washington, in direct contrast to Hillary Clinton, who was widely seen as the ultimate insider who epitomized that “corrupt political establishment.”
Though many saw right through Trump’s rhetoric, it became clear just how farcical his promise to “drain the swamp” was when he began assembling his cabinet shortly after winning the election. The president-elect managed not only to put together the richest and most unqualified cabinet in history, but also filled his administration with many of the revolving-door insiders he had regularly lambasted on the campaign trail. While candidate Trump frequently called out Clinton (and other political opponents) for her connections to Goldman Sachs, for example, President Trump has created a “Government Sachs” of his own, employing five veterans from the infamous investment bank as top advisors, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Trump’s cabinet is the richest in American history, and its members have more combined wealth than a third of the American population. And for many of Trump’s top advisers, massive wealth seems to be the sole qualification. Billionaire Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has no experience in education (though she has spent much of her life trying to destroy public education), Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is a neurosurgeon with zero experience in housing policy (whom Trump seems to have chosen solely because of his ethnicity), Energy Secretary Rick Perry knew almost nothing about the Department of Energy before being tapped to run it (as a presidential candidate in 2012, he called for its elimination — though he was unable to name it during an infamous debate), and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has long opposed the department he now runs. The list goes on, but suffice it say that most of Trump’s cabinet members are about as rich — and unqualified — as the president himself.
Rather than cleaning up Washington, Trump has simply exacerbated corruption in the country’s capital, and a Monmouth University survey from last May revealed that most Americans are well aware of this reality. According to the poll, 32 percent of Americans think that Trump is making the so-called “swamp” worse, 35 percent believe that he has done nothing to change the culture of Washington, and only 24 percent think that he is actually “draining the swamp.”
If anything has been “drained” from Washington since Trump’s arrival earlier this year, it is brainpower and expertise. Indeed, while Trump has appointed plenty of billionaires and Wall Street insiders, he hasn’t felt the need to hire many experts from the academic world. Besides being the richest in history, Trump’s cabinet is also the least educated cabinet in nearly 25 years (in terms of graduate and doctorate degrees). Considering that right-wing populism is a deeply anti-intellectual movement, this is hardly surprising. Trump’s populist campaign was defined by its anti-intellectualism, and when the billionaire railed against “the elite” he was often railing against “cultural” and “intellectual” elites rather than economic elites (like himself).
Not surprisingly, Trump’s political rise has coincided with a deepening distrust of the academic world among Republicans. A Pew Research Center survey published last week found that nearly six in 10 Republicans now believe that colleges and universities have a “negative effect” on the country, which is up from 45 percent just last year. It comes as no shock that the news media is even more loathed by Republicans, with 85 percent saying it has a negative effect.
If so many Republicans believe that academia and the media have a negative effect on the country, then it makes sense that they would want to limit the influence of universities and the press and other institutions associated with the “liberal elite.” It also stands to reason that for many who voted for Trump, “draining the swamp” was more about throwing out the eggheads and sticking it to the liberal media than removing money from politics and cracking down on systemic corruption.
This helps explain why President Trump can cram his administration with members of the power elite and have massive conflicts of interest, yet still maintain his “populist” image among a substantial (albeit dwindling) number of Americans. He may be a member of the economic elite and his policies may favor the billionaire class, but at least he spends much of his waking hours berating the “fake news” media on Twitter.
The president’s horrendous approval ratings and the aforementioned Monmouth poll indicate that an increasing number of Americans see through Trump’s populist charade and recognize that real power is wielded by economic elites like those in Trump’s cabinet, not “liberal elites” who go to pretentious gourmet sandwich shops for lunch (shout-out to America’s greatest columnist, David Brooks!). This reality was demonstrated a few years ago by a Princeton University study on democracy in America, which found that the preferences of economic elites “have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do,” and that “when a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized [business] interests, they generally lose.”
President Trump has surrounded himself with so many of his fellow billionaires and corporate elite that even C. Wright Mills (the great sociologist who famously coined the term “power elite”) would be in awe. Only in a country with a long history of anti-intellectualism, it seems, could a billionaire ignoramus like Donald Trump continue to be seen as a “man of the people.”
*Trump: Health vote is last chance for GOP to do right thing WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pressured Republicans Monday to approve the Senate's wheezing health care bill, saying a showdown vote planned for this week is their "last chance to do the right thing" and erase the Obama health law.
*Trump calls top Intel Dem 'Sleazy Adam Schiff' - Pr*sident Trump criticized Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) in a tweet on Monday, referring to the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence panel as "sleazy" and "biased." "Sleazy Adam Schiff, the totally biased Congressman lookin ... (The Hill)
*Trump Twitter-rages about pardons and at media President Donald Trump was up bright and early Saturday morning, attacking the media for reporting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed Trump campaign issues with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the 2016 election.
The six-month verdict on Trump: A fraud, a liar, and quite possibly an idiot
By Hunter Saturday Jul 22, 2017 · 9:01 AM PDT
From Daily Kos: Donald Trump has been "president" for six months now. It is not normal for one of the nation's top papers to celebrate the six month anniversary of a new administration with a column reminding readers that the new leader is a lying sack of crap, but we do not live in normal times.
So it goes with Trump, the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered. As part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, The Fact Checker team (along with Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of the Post graphics department) produced an interactive graphic that displayed a running list of every false or misleading statement made by the president. He averaged 4.9 false or misleading claims a day.
Readers encouraged us to keep the list going for the president’s first year. So at the six-month mark, the president’s tally stands at 836 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of 4.6 claims a day, not far off his first 100-day pace.
This may still count as a charitable interpretation of his behavior. As the weeks wind on it's becoming more evident that Trump lies not merely in an attempt to puff up his accomplishments and stature, but because he has only a limited understanding of events surrounding him. His NATO claims have been gibberish; his most recent interview was not characterized by lying as much as by sheer incoherence. His attempts to sell the Senate's healthcare bill have been especially instructive, as he has repeatedly made claims about what the bill does that bear no relation to its actual contents—in front of the very senators he's attempting to court.
He may not be intentionally lying. He may be unable to grasp even basic concepts about the world he now finds himself in. He may genuinely believe that NATO "owes" America cash, or that he brilliantly negotiated his way through agreements that were in fact negotiated years before he gained office. He may be, in other words, a moron.
One Friedman Unit into Donald's White House tenure, the nation's press is in agreement that the president of the United States lies, and lies a lot. Television chyrons are regularly reminding viewers that some particularly egregious thing the POTUS has said is not in fact true; the contents of White House press briefings are more valued by the nation's comedy writers than by the reporters covering them, and it is generally understood that the office functions more as a therapy outlet for Trump's latest obsession than as a substantive White House connection to the outside world.
It is likely that six months from now, we will have similarly settled on the near-universal acknowledgement that the president is, in fact, not merely a liar but suffering from a more severe mental impairment. What we will do about it is still up in the air, but it seems clear that the day is coming.
Trump Kicks Off Voter Fraud Commission With Innuendo That States Are Hiding Something Published on July 19, 2017 by Sam Sacks
From The District Sentinel: The President’s Commission on Election Integrity convened its first meeting on Wednesday in its bid to find rampant voter fraud in our election systems.
Since winning the presidency last November, Trump has repeatedly claimed—without evidence—that millions of people voted illegally in the contest. He made similarly dubious comments on Wednesday, suggesting that states not cooperating with his commission might have nefarious intentions.
As its first official act, the commission sent requests to all 50 states and Washington, DC last month for voter roll information, including individuals’ full names, addresses, voter history, party affiliation, and social security numbers.
Forty-four states and DC rejected the commission’s appeal on grounds that the data request was too intrusive. In some cases, states are legally prohibited from releasing that sort of voter information. “If any state does not want to share this information, one had to wonder what they’re worried about.” President Trump said on Wednesday, ahead of the commission’s first meeting.
“There’s something,” he went on. “There always is.”
Conversely, various Secretaries of State have made similar charges of Trump’s voter commission. The body is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, and co-chaired by Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State. Kobach has a history of chasing down voter fraud to no avail. But his efforts have been successful in depressing voter turnout. His multi-state crosscheck system–allegedly created to find double-voters–instead wrongfully cast hundreds of thousands of people off voting rolls, according to a report in Rolling Stone by investigative journalist Greg Palast.
It’s that history, which has state officials worried about what the commission is actually up to. “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in June, responding to the commission’s request for voter information.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill echoed those sentiments, saying earlier this month: “Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.” Kobach appeared on CNN Wednesday, claiming his commission is interested in just the facts. “The commission is not set up to prove or disprove President Trump’s claim,” he said. “This commission is going to be looking at real figures, real numbers, real voter rolls and real cases.”
This is hardly a novel idea, however, as several researchers have devoted considerable time to quantifying voter fraud in the US.
One study out of Loyola, for example, looked at US elections between 2000 and 2014, and found only 31 instances of voter fraud out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.
‘We’ll get back to you on that’: White House’s ‘Made in America Week’ hits major snag over Trump products David Ferguson 16 JUL 2017 AT 16:41 ET
From Raw Story: On Sunday the White House announced “Made in America Week” — a week of appearances and promotions by President Donald Trump intended to highlight products that are made domestically. According to Politico.com, White House spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre had no answer, however, when she was asked about whether President Donald Trump will take advantage of the week’s theme to pressure his daughter to start manufacturing her clothing line in the U.S. and stop relying on cheaper overseas manufacturers.
“We’ll get back to you on that,” said Ferre Sunday.
“Made in America Week” will feature at least two events tied to the theme, Politico said, “including a ‘product showcase,’ in which American-made products from all 50 states will be brought to the White House. On Wednesday, the president will issue a proclamation on the importance of making products in America.”
The Washington Post‘s Philip Rucker pointed out that at least a dozen other countries manufacture products marketed under the Trump brand.
“For Trump, highlighting U.S.-made products is inconsistent with his practices as a businessman. For years, the Trump Organization has outsourced much of its product manufacturing, relying on a global network of factories in a dozen countries — including Bangladesh, China and Mexico — to make its clothing, home decor pieces and other items,” Rucker said.
Ivanka Trump’s company, he wrote, “relies exclusively on foreign factories employing low-wage workers in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and China, according to a recent Washington Post investigation.”
The White House’s decision to conduct multiple PR rollouts as distractions from its recent scandals has been met with ridicule by some critics. June’s “Infrastructure Week” was completely overshadowed by fired FBI Director’s Congressional testimony and Trump’s own ill-timed outbursts on Twitter and in interviews which undermined his message.
Trump and Allies: It's the Fuck-You Presidency
The GOP brand is all about contempt—for the media and anyone else challenging their colossal arrogance.
By Kali Holloway / AlterNet July 3, 2017, 12:37 PM GMT
This Sunday, speaking at his first Fourth of July event as president, Donald Trump did what Donald Trump always does. First, he pushed his ongoing campaign against the free press, telling his assembled supporters that, “The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them.” Then he reminded everyone that he won the last presidential election, making him the most powerful man in pretty much every room he enters. “I’m president, and they’re not,” he said, to a standing ovation. Trump giggled and mugged and fired his two finger-guns at the gushing crowd.
This was just the latest example of Trump telling the media—a proxy for any element of the American public that might dare criticize him—that they can get bent. Back in March, while discussing the ludicrous and completely fabricated charges of wiretapping by his predecessor, Trump defended himself by calling the rest of us losers. “I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not,” Trump said. (There’s no indication from the transcript that he added “nah nah na nah nah,” but it’s obviously implied.)
Trump’s presidency is what happens when you elect a vengeful man-baby with an insatiable lust for power, a desperate need for attention, and endless reserves of contempt for the masses. Instead of accountability or transparency, ideas or innovation, you get a commander-in-chief whose most salient traits are narcissistic self-interest, hypersensitivity to criticism and a kneejerk tendency toward abuse. Question the job Trump is doing and instead of a vigorous defense of his policies or proposals you’ll get a hastily worded middle finger.Who are you to question me, the president? Trump seems to be saying: You’re nobody.
This isn’t just Trump’s philosophy, it’s the Republican brand. The demarcation between us and them is money and power, and we’re just peons who stand in the way of their ability to accrue more of both. Their contempt is woven into every cruel GOP policy proposal that aims to steal what little the have-nots possess in order to re-gift it to the haves. As long as such a sizeable portion of this country aspires to be just like them—to attain the means to bully and screw over people with the impunity of rich white men—Republicans will keep getting elected to office.
Chris Christie displayed this “let them eat cake” arrogance this Sunday as he sunned himself on a public beach he’d effectively turned private by closing it to all other New Jerseyans. Local news outlet NJ Advance Media captured aerial photos of the governor and his family chilling at Island Beach State Park, one of the many state beaches Christie ordered closed during the state’s budget shutdown. Questioned about his use of the beach, Christie initially denied he’d gotten “any sun” until he was alerted to the existence of photographic evidence. Instead of contrition, he offered a snarky dismissal of all the regular folks who might have wanted to spend their holiday on the sand. “The governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t,” Christie sniped. “It’s just the way it goes. Run for governor and then you can have the residence.”
This a long-winded way of saying, “F**k you; pay me,” and it’s the GOP’s unofficial motto. Trump spends an astounding amount of time playing golf at a cost of millions to taxpayers he wants to fleece out of basic health care. Christie, whose Bridgegate scandal robbed New Jerseyans of at least $10 million, insults his constituents from the comfort of a beach chair. These two, like their fellow partygoers, clearly despise average people, especially those who have the gall to point out the danger they pose.
“If I had been the son of a coalminer, I would have left the damn mine,” Trump said in a 1990 interview with Playboy magazine. “But most people don’t have the imagination, or whatever, to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’”
That attitude is echoed by Christie and the whole of the GOP, who are constantly dreaming up new and inventive ways to further enrich the wealthy. The Republican Party believes the wealthy and powerful are innately better than the rest of us, that they deserve more by dint of the fact that they already have it. Too bad so much of the country agrees. The greatest stunt Republicans ever achieved was how to exploit the dreams and fears of their supporters to get them to vote for policies that promise to destroy them. Call them con men if you want, but at this point, recognize their marks aren’t that hard to fool, either.
pbmus -demo. underground
Trump Really Is Just An Angry Fox News Viewer By John Amato
From Crooks & Liars: The best way to describe Donald Trump so far is that he's a typical elderly Fox News viewer, with a median age of 72, who yells at the TV.
I know them well, since some of them are family members. During Obama's presidency, I'd often ask--during which time they were living well--why they were so upset and why they watched so much Fox News.
The answer that almost always came up was that they wanted to get out their frustrations.
Donald Trump is acting the same exact way, only he's been doing it since he announced his candidacy and most likely the day after he won the election.
He's made no secret that he doesn't like to read and he views cable TV news at all hours for his information. But mostly he watches it to see himself, and routinely shoots off tweets about the whether the coverage he receives is "fair" or "unfair."
However, you'd think he'd yell at the tube more discreetly since he occupies the Oval Office now, right?
Instead, he's losing it more than even the average Fox News viewer.
It's very unsettling that he has the nuclear codes.
To illustrate my point, here's a passage from an AP News report.
Trump advisers and confidantes describe the president as increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets in the White House carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to discredit — and potentially end — his presidency.
Some of his ire is aimed at Rosenstein and investigative special counsel Robert Mueller, both of whom the president believes are biased against him, associates say.
Rosenstein was equaled freaked out by Trump's tirade and shot off his own bizarrely phrased tweet about being careful to not put too much stock in leaks and anonymous sources.
These types of screaming, rage-filled Fox News viewers constantly focus on "liberal media" bias and conspiracy theories.
They agree with these nutty theories, contribute to them, create them, and even retweet them to defend their increasingly unhinged behavior.
Now it's happening in the White House.
bigtree - demo. Underground
Donald Trump admitted in 2007 that he had invested in Russia In a deposition in 2007, Trump said something he and his family would later deny repeatedly MATTHEW ROZSA
From Salon: Pr*sident Donald Trump may want the headaches associated with the Russia scandal to go away, but a new report has drawn attention to yet another controversial aspect of Trump’s relationship with that country’s financial elite.
Although Trump told NBC in May, “I am not involved in Russia,” he admitted in a 2007 deposition that a real estate development firm known as the Bayrock Group had brought Russian investors to Trump Tower to discuss investing in Moscow, according to a report by Bloomberg.
“It’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t be investing in Russia,” Trump said. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment.”
Bloomberg also reported that one of the principals at Bayrock is businessman Felix Sater, who reportedly has ties to organized crime in both the United States and Russia. Although Trump has repeatedly insisted that he is only passingly acquainted with Sater, former Bayrock employees insist that Sater often met with Trump at his business empire’s New York City headquarters and guided Trump’s children around Moscow.
They also report that Sater is still in contact with the president and some of his advisers. It is worth noting that the Bayrock Group itself also had an office located in Trump Tower.
While the president likes to downplay his business ties to Russia, his son Donald Trump Jr. once admitted to a real estate conference in 2008 that Trump built a tower in Panama for wealthy Russian clients, according to a report by Time.
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Trump told the crowd.
swamp house news!!!
Trump’s grand infrastructure plan will rely on privatization Trump wants local governments and the private sector to pay for the bulk of his new infrastructure program
From Salon: President Donald Trump is beginning what his White House is referring to as “infrastructure week” with a plan whose goal is to avoid having the federal government actually pay for the infrastructure in question.
The infrastructure plan will decrease the federal government’s role in funding those projects and instead place the burden on both private corporations and state and city governments, according to a report by The New York Times. His plan will include privatizing America’s air-traffic control system — announced Monday — which he would also modernize by using a digital satellite-based tracking systems instead of land-based radar. Trump’s plan would also come up with methods for repairing America’s bridges, railways, roads and waterways.
As Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn told the Times on Friday, “We like the template of not using taxpayer dollars to give taxpayers wins.”
Cohn added, “We want to be in the partnership business. We want to be in the facilitation business, and we’re willing to provide capital wherever necessary to help certain infrastructure along.”
Many of the infrastructure program’s critics claim that it amounts to little more than a giveaway to the wealthy.
“Bold, job-creating investments in our crumbling infrastructure system can and should be a bipartisan priority,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a statement. “However, Trump’s ‘infrastructure week’ appears to be little more than a Trojan Horse for undermining workers’ wages and handing massive tax breaks to billionaires and corporations.”
This echoes a criticism made by former labor secretary Robert Reich back in January, who said, “What Donald Trump is proposing is nothing more than a huge tax giveaway for the rich.”
Mexico prepares for Trump-brand toilet paper roll-out Newsweek 03 JUN 2017 AT 15:52 ET
Mock-up of Trump toilet paper packaging
From Raw Story: A Mexican lawyer is planning on helping migrants and make people “feel great again” with the help of his toilet paper brand—Trump.
Corporate lawyer Antonio Battaglia was appalled at the language Donald Trump used during his presidential campaign to describe Mexicans. In an email exchange with Newsweek, the lawyer-turned-businessman recalls how he felt when Trump launched his campaign by suggesting Mexicans who came to the U.S. were criminals, drug traffickers and rapists.
“I felt the need and obligation of raising my hand against such dangerous nonsense that was putting at risk my country and people,” he tells Newsweek .
The idea of branding a toilet paper with the word “Trump” started as a joke ahead of the election. The “Trump paper” account was created on both Facebook and Twitter at the beginning of November, alongside a hashtag that translated as “clean yourself with Trump” (“Limpiate Con Trump” in Spanish). But after November 9, it was no longer a laughing matter.
“Once he won, we had to stop the fun approach and focus seriously on developing a product not based on a mockery but based on a response to an insult, based on helping migrants,” Battaglia says. The goal, he adds, is not to offend, but to create a product that inspires people to help those in need.
The lawyer, who is still doing his day job, speaks fondly of the United States. “I actually love that country and its people,” he says, explaining how he was first brought to the U.S. as a 2-year-old child to undergo heart surgery in Texas. He returned at age 13 for another heart operation, then again after finishing high school to learn English with a family in Boston, and finally studied for a Master’s Degree in Law at New York University (NYU) as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. government.
“I am very grateful to U.S. people and feel strongly bounded to them,” he says, adding that he hoped his efforts, “can also help such great people to overcome this daylight nightmare called Donald Trump.”
Battaglia trademarked the word “trump” for his product, rolls of soft toilet paper, since President Trump, despite turning his names into a multi-million dollar business brand for hotels, restaurants, clothes and accessories, has not applied the trademark to hygienic products.
The production of the toilet paper is still in a start-up phase and Battaglia is still open for capital funding and for partners both in Mexico and abroad to help expand the business. For now, the plan is to roll out a limited amount of the product on Mexican grocery stores’ shelves by the end of the year.
The initial distribution will aim at low and medium income markets and will be competitively priced, Battaglia says. A preliminary marketing image of the product packaging shows a cartoon character giving a thumbs-up, spotting Trump’s signature hairstyle, with the slogan “Softness without borders” and “This is how you can support migrants.” On the back of the package, an image of toilet paper rolls stacked up together is the background to the slogan “This is the wall we are going to pay for.”
Battaglia pledged 30 percent of the profits to well-established non-profit organizations that offer legal advice to migrants and deportees, so “as to fight back unjust immigration policies and red tape”, he explains. By helping people in need, he believes the product can make customers “feel great again.”
Trump wants to end a program that helps people in nearly every community in America
Trump’s budget eliminates the Community Development Block Grant, a massive and important source of funding for local needs.
From Think Progress: Just before delivering her first son, Pam Lozano started looking for childcare. She only had a certain amount that she could spend on it, though, given that she was a student in medical assisting school. While she looked at several daycares in her city of Arlington, Texas, there was just one that she could afford: the Arlington Child Development Center.
The center is the only in the area that she could find that offers childcare on a sliding payment scale; that was critical for Lozano, who likely wouldn’t have qualified for help from government subsidies or free programs like Early Head Start. “I wouldn’t have been able to leave [my child] in childcare because it’s so expensive,” she said. Without the help of the sliding scale, “it’s like an extra rent payment or house payment a month.”
Now she’s out of school, and both of her young children get care from the same center, allowing her to go to work. Without the subsidized rate, “it’s almost double,” she said. “It would be a hardship.”
Just a five-minute drive away from the childcare center, Deborah Caddy has been serving victims of sexual violence for 30 years, first as a therapist with the The Women’s Center and now as its director of rape crisis and victim services program. “Predominantly, the type of clients that we’re going to serve… are going to be victims of sexual violence: sexual assault that recently has occurred or it could be childhood sexual abuse,” she said.
The clients who call her number or come through her doors are offered as many sessions with a therapist as they may need, whether it’s six weeks or six months, free of charge. “Just a couple of weeks ago we had a waiting list for services in Arlington,” she said. “That demonstrates the kind of need that there is for this type of service.”
And the impact on the community is large. “It holds an offender accountable, it helps your citizens to get the help and intervention that they need, and hopefully [a] young child will possibly raise the next generation that won’t face that situation,” she said. “It has a ripple effect.”
About five minutes driving in the other direction from the the Child Development Center, the Arlington Public Library runs a number of literacy programs: classes to help students get their GEDs, ESL classes for every conversational level, and reading programs for students whose schools may not have their own libraries.
The services are in high demand in an area with low literacy rates: one 2013 report ranked Arlington’s literacy rate 63 out of 77 large metropolises. Yet since the middle of 2010, 120 graduates of the library’s GED classes have earned their credentials. “That’s huge,” said Ivonne Kieffer, program management and community engagement administrator at the library. “Now they’re able to go and find a job… Now they’re working and giving back to their community.”
ESL classes are no less critical for employment. “You have to know English just to kind of survive and live,” she noted.
These three programs — a daycare center, support services for victims of violence, and a public library — may not appear to have much in common. But they share one important thing: all count on federal funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to serve their communities.
They’re just the tip of the mammoth iceberg that encompasses all of the activities funded by the CDBG. In Tarrant County, Texas alone — where all three of these programs operate — CDBG funds go to nearly two dozen different programs, which also include Meals on Wheels, HIV testing, Big Brothers Big Sisters, homeless shelters, and substance abuse counseling.
Yet if President Trump were to get his way, these funds would dry up completely. He called for the CDBG’s funding to be zeroed out in his budget proposal for this fiscal year and included no funding for it in 2018 in his larger budget request this week. The services these programs provide would be severely threatened or potentially eliminated entirely. (read more)
He’s teaching us just how deeply disturbed our American world actually is, or he wouldn’t be where he is. ByTom Engelhardt / Tom Dispatch
Trump budget to slash toxic waste clean-up effort his EPA head called ‘essential’
Scott Pruitt has stated repeatedly Superfund is a part of EPA’s core mission.
From Think Progress: Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has pledged repeatedly in recent months to prioritize clean-up of hazardous waste sites, yet the Trump administration is expected to propose dramatic budget cuts to the program responsible for those efforts.
Since getting sworn in as EPA administrator in February, Pruitt has vowed on multiple occasions to make the federal government’s hazardous site clean-up across the nation, known as the Superfund program, one of his top priorities. “Some of the most important work that we do as an agency, or should be doing… is with respect to the Superfund responsibilities,” Pruitt said in a radio interview two weeks ago.
Pruitt has contended that the Superfund program has languished over the years and has lacked the leadership to get the 1,300-plus sites cleaned up. “It’s time for leadership in East Chicago,” Pruitt said in the interview, referring to a Superfund site in a low-income neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana. In March, Pruitt told a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors that Superfund “is an area that is absolutely essential” and “a priority.”
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget plan for the EPA, however, calls for cutting the Superfund cleanup program by approximately 25 percent, according to a copy of the budget obtained by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.
“On the one hand, Administrator Pruitt has been saying that he sees clean-up of Superfund sites and brownfield sites as a top priority and a return to the core mission of the EPA, as he sees it. At the same time, we are seeing these very damaging cuts, which, make no mistake, will hinder and slow down clean-up of these hazardous waste sites,” Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told ThinkProgress.
Overall, the president’s FY18 budget request will propose cutting the EPA’s budget by 31 percent and eliminating 3,200 staff and over 50 programs, including those supporting international and domestic climate change research and partnership programs.
Pruitt has demonstrated a commitment to the EPA’s Superfund and brownfield programs, as well as tackling water infrastructure deficiencies. But thus far, the agency has pushed industry-friendly policies over rules that protect the environment. At a conference in Florida in early May, EPA senior policy adviser Mandy Gunasekara told coal industry executives that she wants to make sure the EPA is working for them. Cleetus hopes Congress will not allow the Trump administration to make these cuts to the Superfund program. “Congress should absolutely resist these types of very damaging cuts,” she said. “My sense is that folks in Congress will look around the country and see that these Superfund sites are located in neighborhoods where their constituents live and they will resist this level of cuts.”
The Superfund program, established in 1980, has a “strong track record” of revitalizing neighborhoods, with expenditures representing a good use of of taxpayer dollars, she said. The EPA oversees the program in coordination with the states; every state has at least one Superfund site. “This is not a top-down activity. This is something that states care deeply about because their constituents are on the frontlines of the pollution and the contamination and the loss of property values that are associated with being near these sites,” Cleetus said.
Nancy Loeb, director of the Environmental Advocacy Center and assistant clinical professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, said she was not surprised by the proposed budget cuts to the Superfund program, noting they are “totally consistent with the view the administration overall is taking on the environment.”
On May 9, Pruitt issued a memo prioritizing Superfund clean-up and streamlining the approval process for sites with remedies estimated to cost $50 million or more. “I am making it a priority to ensure contaminated sites get cleaned up. We will be more hands-on to ensure proper oversight and attention to the Superfund program at the highest levels of the Agency, and to create consistency across states,” Pruitt said. But the memo caused Loeb to question Pruitt’s motivations. This decision by the administrator to grant EPA headquarters “more hands-on” involvement in Superfund remediation could allow companies that caused the contamination to reach more favorable settlements with the agency, according to Loeb. “They will seize on the opportunity to go directly to Pruitt rather than working in the regions and will offer and get agreements for faster clean-ups that are far less extensive than they need to be,” she said.
Trump’s business isn’t keeping the receipts from foreign governments
The president vowed to donate all profits from foreign governments to the Treasury. But he can’t donate them if no one can find them.
From Think Progress: One month ago, the House Oversight Committee asked the Trump Organization to provide documents related to payments it had received from foreign governments — and outline a plan for donating profits to the U.S. Treasury Department, as President Donald Trump vowed he would. Now it appears that Trump’s business empire hasn’t been keeping track of those payments, making compliance with the president’s promise all but impossible.
NBC obtained a Trump Organization pamphlet that says the business will not “attempt to identify individual travelers who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity.” Instead, the Trump Organization puts the onus on foreign governments to make those disclosures, voluntarily and without prompting.
The Trump Organization forwarded this pamphlet to members of the House Oversight Committee in response to their request for more information. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), replied in a letter Wednesday that he was disappointed by this “meager” response.
Addressing Trump Organization executive vice president and chief compliance officer George Sorial, Cummings noted that the Trump Organization had failed to answer most of the questions asked by the committee or provide “the vast majority of documents we requested in our letter.”
“Instead, you provided only a single document — a glossy, eight-page pamphlet that contains a total of 40 sentences — and an email forwarding this pamphlet to various Trump Organization entities,” according to Cummings’ letter. “This pamphlet raises grave concerns about the President’s refusal to comply with the Constitution merely because he believes it is ‘impractical’ and could ‘diminish the guest experience of our brand.’”
An attorney for President Donald Trump said in January, shortly before his inauguration, that he would “voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury” in order to comply with the Constitution’s ban on presidents accepting gifts from foreign leaders. The April 21 document request sent by Cummings and House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was an attempt to establish whether or not Trump was true to his word. The Trump Organization’s reply seems to indicate that neither the president nor his businesses have been conducting the basic due diligence that keeping his promise would require.
Government watchdog organization CREW said in a statement that the Trump Organization’s record keeping was “wholly inadequate.”
“The best way to address President Trump’s constitutional violations is complete divestment from all his businesses,” said CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder. “This effort to address the problem is not a serious one.”
The Trump Organization’s intentionally lax bookkeeping practices are particularly striking given that scrutiny of Trump’s businesses has become intertwined with the investigation into his associates’ alleged collaboration with Russian intelligence officials. Investigators into the collusion allegations are now looking for financial ties between Trump and the Kremlin; last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that a state-owned Russian bank had financed an $850 million deal with a Trump business partner. “Complying with the United States Constitution is not an optional exercise, but a requirement for serving as our nation’s President,” wrote Cummings.
swamp house news!!!
Trump nominates deputy Interior secretary with serious conflicts of interest
David Bernhardt will work on policies that directly benefit clients for whom he lobbied just before getting the job.
From Think Progress: President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Friday that former Interior Solicitor and current lobbyist David Bernhardt will be nominated for Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department. Bernhardt was a senior political official and the top lawyer in charge of ethics and legal compliance for President George W. Bush’s Interior Department during a period plagued by scandal and ethical violations.
“I am excited to announce the president and I have selected Dave Bernhardt to help me lead the Interior Department,” Zinke said. “Bernhardt’s extensive experience serving under Secretary Norton and his legal career is exactly what is needed to help streamline government and make the Interior and our public lands work for the American economy.”
After leaving DOI in 2009, Bernhardt joined the Washington, D.C. office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck where he runs the firm’s natural resources department and has lobbied for mining companies, oil and gas companies, and powerful water users in the West. Trump’s move to weaken federal lobbyist rules will allow Bernhardt to work on policies that directly benefit clients for whom he lobbied just before getting the job.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) has called Bernhardt a “walking conflict of interest.”
Already, Bernhardt has cashed in on a recent Trump Interior Department decision to overturn an Obama-era policy blocking Cadiz Inc. from building a water pipeline so that they can pump water from underneath the Mojave Desert and sell it in Southern California. Bernhardt’s lobbying firm owns 200,000 shares of the stock in Cadiz Inc, and stand to earn nearly $3 million more if the Interior finalizes the decision. Many are already calling for Bernhardt to recuse himself from any decisions related to the water project.
“If he does not recuse himself from working on issues he has profited from as a lobbyist, he will be the embodiment of the Washington swamp — taking a high-level government job to help his private sector partners cash in,” said Aaron Weiss, media director at the Center for Western Priorities. “If Bernhardt does recuse himself from all his conflicts, he’ll have nothing to work on at Interior.”
Bernhardt, and those working under him, are also known to have modified scientific findings that were politically inconvenient. In 2007, Bernhardt stood by Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald, who was forced to resign after accusations that she violated the law by revising U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service reports to make “the science fit the policy,” thus undermining government science relating to Endangered Species Act decisions. In 2001, while directing DOI’s Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Bernhardt rewrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientific findings that warned of the impact of Arctic drilling on caribou herds.
“There are a million reasons why David Bernhardt shouldn’t get this job, and even more questions about his previous tenure at Interior, and in the private sector,” said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project. “This is sadly just the latest example that powerful special interests are taking the reins at Interior at the expense of all who value public lands.” The announcement comes after a week executive orders directing the agency to review protections for national monuments and offshore drilling.
Bernhard now awaits a Senate confirmation hearing in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
taking the former leader of the free world for a stroll!!
charlyvi - from Demo Underground
Trump administration attacks rule protecting retirees from getting ripped off
The Department of Labor has taken a first step toward dismantling the fiduciary duty rule put forward by Obama.
From Think Progress: As things currently stand, a financial adviser helping a retiree pick investments doesn’t have to put the retiree’s interests first. Instead, the adviser can steer his client toward products that make him money but that might not be the smartest investment choice. This conflicted advice has been estimated to cost Americans $17 billion a year.
The Obama administration took action to change the rules so that advisers have to put retirees’ interests ahead of their own, otherwise known as the fiduciary duty rule. The new rules were set to go into effect this month. But now, the Trump administration is taking steps to whittle them down or do away with them altogether, allowing advisers to continue pushing clients into costly investment choices.
On Tuesday evening, the administration officially delayed the implementation of the new rules by 60 days, pushing one part of it back to June and the rest of it to January 2018.
In February, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of Labor, which issued the original rules, to consider revising or rescinding them. In its announcement of the delay this week, the department said the move will allow it to examine whether the rules “may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice” and to “consider possible changes.”
These are all steps toward dismantling the rule. “We want them to cease the implementation of this and completely review the fiduciary rule,” a senior White House official told Time in February. “We think that this was a complete miss on what [the Obama administration] were trying to do. It has taken away a huge variety of investment options for individual investors.”
But it’s not going to be as easy as a sweep of Trump’s pen. According to the Administrative Procedure Act, any rule interpreting or implementing a policy must go through a public comment period.
“To start to roll back something that already went through a considerable deliberative process is going to take time,” said Chris Lu, former deputy secretary at the Department of Labor under President Obama.
On top of that, the administration will need to prove that something significant enough has changed since the Obama administration issued the final rules to vindicate undoing them. “They’re going to have to justify any changes they make. That’s not always the easiest thing to do,” he said. “You can’t just undo regulations, you actually have to have a justification for doing it.” Before issuing the final rules last year, the Department of Labor held four days of hearings and 100 stakeholder meetings and fielded thousands of public comments. It then prepared a 382-page cost-benefit analysis of the expected impact.
“We went through an exhaustive notice and comment period,” Lu said. “We looked at the comments and made a considered decision about how we should craft the rule.” After the comment period, the department made some changes and clarifications that included exemptions and phase in periods.
To reverse that progress, the Trump administration will have to field comments, which are likely to be about the same as before, and say the outcome has changed. “They’re going to be looking at the exact same facts that are presented to them and have to justify a completely different decision,” Lu said. Just saying that administrations changed parties isn’t enough.
Thanks to Ignorant Americans, this Loser is now "President"
America's Next GOP Presidential Traitor joining Nixon, Reagan, Bush 1 & 2
Trump's Cabinet, etc the trailer trash adminstration (archives - for description & news of swamp members)
Trump exhibits the same level of gravitas as, say, a spoiled child wearing a cardboard crown from Burger King. His tacky, garish displays of wealth, his clownish stab at a normal head of hair, and his ridiculously ill-fitting suits utterly fail to convey a basic sense of taste, much less gravitas. The other day, for example, Trump referred to third-party candidate Evan McMullin as “Evan McMuffin.” Petty insults like this one (along with “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie,” “Lyin’ Ted,” etc.) convey a level of gravitas equal to purple-nurples during recess. And while Trump insists that he’ll be a very, very terrific president and, literally, the greatest jobs president God ever created, no one with a sense of history who believes he’s going to be any of those things.
Hillary Weighs In
John Adams: “Obsta principiis, nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society.”
Some Questions for Mr. Trump Wednesday, January 11, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
President-elect Donald Trump is slated to give a press conference on Wednesday, but has been notoriously reluctant to keep such engagements in the past. If he does actually show up this time, here are some questions I'd like him to answer.
1. Mr. Trump, you have expressed your doubt about the reality of climate change, famously describing it as a "Chinese hoax." Please don't say "Wrong"; we have it in print, sir. You have nominated a number of climate skeptics to high positions in your government, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet over in Ireland, you are seeking official permission to build a 13-foot-high wall around your seacoast luxury golf resort, the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel. The wall is necessary, you argue in its construction application, because otherwise, the "viability of the entire resort and its potential closure" would be in question due to rising seas and the increase in violent storms. Mr. Trump, does climate change only exist in County Clare, Ireland? Why do you seek to defend your own interests against climate change if no such thing exists?
2. Mr. Trump, you were widely criticized for refusing to release your tax returns during the campaign. The small portion of your finances that was leaked showed that you lost almost $1 billion in a single year. You have likewise maintained that there is no need for you to divest yourself from your financial holdings. Are you concerned that if you do divest, the interests you are in debt to here and around the world will come looking for that money?
3. Mr. Trump, you have voiced many times your disdain for the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration without offering specifics as to why, and you have vowed to cancel that deal. What are your reasons for wanting to cancel the deal?
4. Mr. Trump, in 2016, there were 58,037 gun-related incidents in the US resulting in 15,010 deaths and 30,586 injuries. 3,776 of those killed and injured were children and teenagers. There were 385 mass shootings. Statistics for the past two years are almost exactly the same. As president, what concrete steps will you take to stem the tide of gun violence in the United States?
5. Mr. Trump, your relationship with Vladimir Putin of Russia has raised eyebrows both here and abroad, most recently after allegations of Russian tampering with the presidential election came to light. Allegations have been raised that you are in considerable debt to Russian interests, many of whom have ties to Putin. Do you owe money to Russian businessmen, and if so, how much?
6. Romans 12:19 in the Bible states, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." Most Christians will agree this passage means that God is the only one allowed to be in the revenge business. Mr. Trump, you have made revenge upon your enemies a public cornerstone of your business model. You have made many enemies over the years -- in the press, in business, in politics and most recently within your own party -- and you stand to make more after you take office. After you become president, will you continue to execute your ethic of total retaliation against those who oppose or offend you?
7. Mr. Trump, your rise to political prominence has been paralleled by a rise in vocal activities, including incidents of violence, on the part of white nationalists, fascists and racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. Many of them openly celebrated your victory. One of your senior advisers, Steve Bannon, has deep ties to such people by way of his publication, Breitbart. In no uncertain terms, Mr. Trump, please explain your feelings toward the white nationalists, fascists and racists who seem to consider you a kindred spirit.
8. Mr. Trump, you have made it clear that you intend to effect sweeping changes in American politics and government. In order to "fix" something, one must first know how the gears work. That being said, Mr. Trump, how many members of the House of Representatives does it take to make a majority? How many members of the House are there? How many people sit in the Senate chamber? How many Supreme Court Justices are there, and who are they?
9. Mr. Trump, first you were going to build a wall between Mexico and the US and make the Mexican government pay for it. Then you were going to build the wall, have Congress (meaning US taxpayers) pay for it, and make the Mexican government pay us back. Recently you went back again to your original claim. Yet just after the election, your adviser Newt Gingrich bluntly dismissed the whole idea of the wall entirely, saying it was only an effective campaign gimmick. So which is it: When wall, whose wall, what wall or no wall? Can we file this vile, disgustingly xenophobic campaign promise next to the prosecution of Hillary Clinton?
10. Mr. Trump, your unprecedented use of social media has been a nine days wonder in American politics. What role will Twitter and social media have in your administration? Are you concerned that your off-the-cuff remarks online might someday write a check we can't cash? The idea that Donald Trump would deign to answer any of these is far-fetched at best. but I hope some permutation of them are asked at the press conference, again, if he shows up. Asking is important, especially if no answers are forthcoming. That means they'll have to be asked again. And again. And again.