Michigan residents warned to stop drinking poisoned water

One of Trump’s first executive orders after his very poorly attended inauguration was allowing coal companies to dump toxic waste into water sources. Shortly thereafter, the cretin directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the Clean Water act with a decade-old idea proffered by deceased Antonin Scalia based on his conservative opinion; not on “hydrology, biology, chemistry, or environmental concerns.”

Suffice it to say, with Republicans in charge of the government and a majority of the states, the concept of “Clean Water” is now almost exclusively the purview of special interests with no interest in protecting water for human consumption.

It should be no great shock, then, that two Michigan communities had such “dangerously high levels of industrial chemicals” in their drinking water that it prompted officials to issue an emergency alert warning citizens to stop using the water.  The residents of Parchment and Cooper Townships were warned late Thursday:

To immediately stop using their water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula and food, or rinsing fruits and vegetables … and cautioned that boiling it would not remove PFAS, nor would filters.” Officials also called on “residents using the City of Parchment’s water supply, which includes Cooper Township, to help spread this message to your neighbors.”

The two municipalities in Kalamazoo County began receiving bottled water Friday morning because:

High amounts of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were detected by the [Michigan]  Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The state agency tests yielded 1,410 parts per trillion in the drinking water supply.”

The level of PFAS was a whopping 20 times higher than the “lifetime health advisory” according to the EPA, although a recent study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the EPA revealed “that the health advisory should be set far lower.

According to the Detroit News, the toxic water is so dangerous that the State Emergency Operations Center was activated putting police, the Department of Environmental Quality, Health and Human Services, and the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team on alert. At least in this latest toxic event, and unlike the disaster in Flint, Michigan officials are not denying the danger or waiting to provide clean water to the affected citizens; it is a midterm election year after all.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) did not claim ignorance of the problem like he did during the still ongoing  Flint water system crisis. Snyder said in a statement that the health of residents would be prioritized in addition to ensuring their access to drinking water.

Our next step is to work as a team to address the source of this contamination and restore the municipal water system.”

House Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) represents the area and posted his reaction to the news of more poisoned water on Facebook. He said “he would be meeting with state and local officials to mount a response and called on the Trump administration to crack down on PFAS. [The} immediate need is to get to the bottom of this and ensure folks have safe drinking water in the meantime.”

City officials claimed they were not sure how the man-made chemicals entered the water sources, although they do know, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that PFAS is found in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. PFAS is nothing to ignore as it can lead to severe health problems because it affects the human immune system leading to an increased risk of cancer and liver disease, “among other health hazards.”

This is not the only instance of PFAS contamination and it is not restricted to Michigan. Just this week New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued human consumption limits for fish found in a dozen bodies of water over PFAS concerns. Other states, including Alabama, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have either drawn up drafts or were proactive and actually finalized new limits on the amount of PFAS their citizens can safely ingest. In Pennsylvania, another state struggling to overcome “severe PFAS contamination,” lawmakers and community leaders are begging the EPA to issue new PFAS health standards; but they are not calling on anyone to  ban the dangerous toxin or severely punish industry caught releasing it into water sources.

With Trump’s special interest puppet running the EPA, it is highly unlikely there will be any real action to restrict the chemical’s release into Americans’ water sources. The Republicans in charge of the EPA and CDC, and even Trump,  may offer lip service during a midterm election year, but it is doubtful there will be any real action. Remember, Trump follows the Koch-Heritage-GOP script carefully and claims that the environmental and health regulations regarding industry poisoning drinking water are killing jobs –  it is the reason he has given with every new executive order eliminating different aspects of the Clean Water Act and rollback of environmental protections.

The only good news is that Michigan officials were actually running periodic tests on the affected water sources and alerted the public to stop using their water. It is not clear how long the PFAS levels have been 20 times higher than is considered safe over a lifetime, but at that rate it is difficult to imagine there will not be serious health ramifications in the future due to even limited exposure.

Since this issue is widespread and has been ongoing, it is likely all the attention now is due to the looming midterm elections. Based on the Republican support for Trump’s assault on the Clean Water Act and coupled with attacks on regulations restricting industry pouring toxic waste into water supplies, the sense of urgency by some Michigan officials seems insincere at best. Particularly when officials are asking the people impacted by poisoned water to do the job state and federal agencies exist to do; warn the people to stop using poisoned water.

Image: Danny Miller – AP

Trump will have blood on his hands by eliminating California’s emissions waiver

It is no secret that Republicans despise California because the majority of its people hold beliefs contrary to everything conservatives love. It is particularly true that Trump hates California whether it is because the state’s economy is humming along after the people voted to raise taxes, or because the majority of the people recognize that Trump is a worthless charlatan, or because the people love and desire clean air and water enough to support environmental regulations.

There is not much Trump can do about the majority of Californians detesting him on general principles, something he knew before his poorly attended inauguration. But he and Republicans have punished the people for raising taxes by eliminating their ability to deduct them on their federal income tax returns.

Now Trump is preparing to punish Californians’ health and welfare, and their economic lives,  by revoking the Golden State’s authority to set its own vehicle emission and fuel efficiency standards; actions that would provide no benefits whatsoever for the people. It is just one reason why the majority of Californians abhor Trump.

There are a couple of reasons Trump is punishing Californians this time; likely one reason is to repay the oil industry for its electoral support. The oil industry does oppose environmental regulations nearly as much as they hate the idea of higher fuel efficiency standards. There is also the issue of California refusing to force its law enforcement agencies to become de facto ICE and Border Patrol agents. Trump’s obsession with eliminating anything beneficial to the American people that occurred during a real President, Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House is also a contributing factor in his decision to inflict serious harm on Californians.

The rumors thus far are that Trump is going use the EPA to bring a screeching halt California’s ability to set its own fuel efficiency standards, and put the brakes on the state’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles in place under the Clean Air Act (CLA). In 2009, California earned a waiver under the CLA allowing it to set emissions standards for cars and trucks that exceed those of the federal government. States’ rights Republicans opposed the waiver because the Koch brothers oppose the concept of emissions standards as a matter of course.

The idea of putting a halt to higher fuel efficiency standards will impact more than just Californians because Trump, like the oil industry, wants all Americans to buy more fuel; Trump’s assault on fuel efficiency will be a nationwide affair. Although the economic injury of paying more for transportation is not necessarily life threatening, but ending California’s ability to set higher car and truck emission standards is.

According to the World Health Organization, California’s San Joaquin valley, a region known as “America’s salad bowl,” has the worst air pollution in the entirety of the United States. That pollution in and around fertile farmland providing much of the country’s, and the world’s, fruits, nuts and vegetables is also the cause of higher rates of cancer, asthma, and several hundred premature deaths every year.

The World Health Organization also reported that in 2012 alone, “premature deaths from air pollution” was responsible for over 7 million deaths worldwide. The number of premature deaths in the San Joaquin portion of the “Great Central Valley” number several hundred every year and that is in spite of what Republicans claim are devastating air quality regulations that include vehicle emission standards. Those mortality numbers will only increase with Trump’s deregulatory crusade, but those deaths and health issues mean nothing to Trump, Republicans, and the oil industry.

Anyone who has spent any time in the San Joaquin valley can attest to the effects of pollution caused primarily from oil drilling, traffic and farming; most recently car and truck tailpipe emissions have been identified as the leading cause of pollution with oil drilling overtaking the damage from agricultural chemical pollutants.

It is true that California has a robust air quality resources agency, but “regional” air pollution control districts in “the valley” districts represented by Republicans Devin Nunes, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and special interest puppet Jeff Denham play according to special interest rules.

Those Republican-dominated regional “air quality representatives” pander to businesses vehemently opposed to clean air and water regulations. This author can attest that those local air quality representatives lie like Trump by asserting that state and federal environmental protections are “highly destructive” and are killing off “family” businesses responsible for pollution.

For example, during an editorial board meeting a few years ago at a McClatchy newspaper serving the San Joaquin Valley, the Republican from the local air resources board complained bitterly that California emission standards were destroying too many “family businesses” up and down the valley; particularly the southern part of the valley. After a brief but heated exchange with this author, the air quality representative conceded that the “family businesses” were really oil drilling and refining operations run by some of the nation’s largest oil companies. As an aside, the Koch brothers contribute more to Republican candidates for state offices, including local air quality boards, in California than any other state. The Kochs are also responsible for all manner of “ballot initiatives” seeking to eliminate the Golden State’s environmental protections.

As the director of Sierra Club California, Kathryn Phillips, rightly noted: “They are conspiring to change the [air quality] standards so things don’t look as dirty as they are.”

The only glimmer of hope Californians have to cling to is, according to Dan Sperling of the California Air Resources Board, “We have the law on our side, as well as the people of the country and the people of the world.”

An attorney for Earthjustice, Paul Cort, concurred with Mr. Sperling:

California has done the math, and it’s concluded that the only way to meet both its greenhouse gas goals and its ozone targets is to move away from fossil fuel-based transportation. The law is very clear about California’s authority to set these standards, and for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to try to narrow it now means they have an uphill battle.”

Whether Trump likes it or not, Californians are like most Americans who want vehicles with higher fuel efficiency as much as they want clean air. The latter is an honest-to-dog existential issue and the former is economic. The only people in America that lust for lower fuel efficiency vehicles are the Koch brothers and their dirty oil industry cohorts. They are also the primary drivers of the conservative anti-environmental movement condoning higher cancer rates, respiratory problems, birth defects, and premature deaths if it increases their profits. Of course Trump is as inhumane as the Koch brothers and he hates California, but this atrocity is as much about reversing another good thing President Obama provided the people as it is Trump’s flagrant disregard for human life.

There is little doubt that Trump will publicly revel in aiding the fossil fuel industry with what is being touted as a major deregulatory action, with the value-added treat of punishing Californians. The real question is whether he will celebrate publicly that his obsession with eliminating President Barack Obama’s life- and environment-saving actions means he will have California residents’ blood on his hands.

 

Real GOP outrage at Trump’s ‘Soviet type’ $12 billion bailout for farmers

Anyone who has ever performed even a cursory look at how Trump ran his “business empire” should be well aware that he regularly used other people’s money to cover his failures. That is, after all, the reason Trump filed bankruptcy six times; to force contractors, material suppliers, employees and financial institutions to absorb the costs of his ineptitude and corruption. Now, the American people will absorb the monetary damage of Trump’s incompetence on international trade to the tune of $12 billion. If the people were not already outraged over the never-ending Trump atrocities, this latest expense should inspire their ire and drive them insane with rage.

After Trump’s Agriculture Department announced the oaf in the Oval’s plan to “bail out” farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war tariffs that primarily affect the agricultural industry, many Republicans in Congress from farm country were driven to rage.

For example, Trump supporter Joni Ernst, Republican senator from Iowa, said that international trade supports 456,000 jobs in her state alone. Ms. Ernst added:

These new tariffs are threatening $977 million in state exports.  Those are real people — Iowans — who are waiting for terms to be negotiated, for new deals to be finalized.”

A regular Trump critic, an anomaly in Washington politics, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) issued a statement saying:

This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches. . . .America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose — they want to win by feeding the world. This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”

After Trump gave a speech in Kansas City Missouri claiming that the economic and trade experts were wrong, and that his damaging tariffs were benefitting America’s farmers, one of Trump’s supporters, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said:

The president’s Trump is going to have to say more than ‘I like the farmers and I support the farmers.’”

Retiring Tennessee Republican, Senator Bob Corker, spoke plainly in condemning what he labeled “Trump’s incoherent trade policy offering welfare to farmers to solve a problem he created.” As Mr. Corker rightly noted, the “overall problem is Trump’s trade policies that go against free-market principles.”  Mr. Corker continued:

“You have a terrible policy that sends farmers to the poorhouse, and then you put them on welfare, and we borrow the money from other countries. It’s hard to believe there isn’t an outright revolt right now in Congress over what is happening.”

Another Republican senator, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, compared Trump’s bailout plan to cover his ineptitude to the former Soviet Union, labeling it “downright un-American.” Mr. Johnson said:

“This is becoming more and more like a Soviet type of economy here. Commissars deciding who should be granted waivers. Commissars in the administration trying to figure out how they’re going to sprinkle around benefits.”

An agricultural trade group leader who obviously understands the dangers of Trump’s trade war stated the obvious; “American farmers need contracts, not taxpayer funded welfare, for stability and to keep their livelihoods in place.” Brian Kuehl is the executive director of a trade group, Farmers for Free Trade, who said regarding Trump’s welfare for farmers:

“The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war. This proposed action would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs.”

It is noteworthy that there is indeed going to be long-term damage even if Trump should rescind the tariffs; because America’s once loyal trading partners are swiftly moving forward with a rash of new “free trade” agreements with nations opposed to isolationism. Trump’s bovine excrement lie that the taxpayer funded cover for his trade malfeasance is necessary to protect the farmers until he can negotiate new trade deals is typical Trump stupidity.

For dog’s sake, no nation in their right mind will negotiate with Trump because everyone knows he cannot be trusted, and they have already moved on to better trade deals. They have no reason to deal, or negotiate trade deals, with America when they have made remarkable “free trade” agreements with nations that are not opposed to globalization or afraid of Trump’s America.

It should be no surprise that despite the immediate negative reaction from members of his own party, Trump is not only undeterred, he intends to expand the trade war with utmost haste. Many pundits have opined that Trump’s intent to spend $12 billion of taxpayer funds to cover the damage from his tariffs is proof he is Hell-bent on expanding the trade war. In fact, after being criticized mercilessly by his own party for implementing an “incoherent trade policy” and creating “a Soviet-type” economy to cover his idiocy, Trump “tweeted” that his “Tariffs are the greatest!

This issue, like everything connected to the criminal in the Oval Office, should inspire ire and outrage among the population for myriad reasons. The people Trump is going to provide welfare to assuage the economic damage he created are among his most ardent and bigoted supporters. That includes the Senate Republicans from agriculturally rich states now railing against the policies Trump pledged to enact at every campaign rally throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

No decent American wants to celebrate the economic damage Trump is wreaking on his supporters in the agriculture sector, but it is difficult to have an iota of compassion for their plight. Because despite the deliberate pain Trump is causing their families and livelihoods, they still support him and his make America white and Christian agenda.

However, the aspect of this latest abomination that is the most infuriating is that Trump is going to use $12 billion of taxpayer money for injuries he unilaterally inflicted on his base. In addition, it is a slap in the face of every American that Trump bemoans spending “money we don’t have” on healthcare, food, education, and housing for the poor, but is quick to drop $12 billion of other people’s money to cover his incompetence and idiotic trade war. Throughout his alleged “illustrious” business career, Trump has used material suppliers’, contractors’ and financial institutions’ money to cover his greed and incompetence. It should not be surprising he is using American taxpayers’ money to cover the damage from his “incoherent trade policy” and “Soviet style economic agenda.”

As retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker said, “It’s hard to believe there isn’t an outright revolt right now in Congress over what is happening.” It is also hard to believe there isn’t an outright revolt among the general population, because they are the ones who will suffer most from Trump’s trade war and now they have to pay for Trump’s incompetence.

Although Trump has provided a thousand reasons to be enraged over the past two years, the idea that he is blatantly using Americans’ tax dollars to pay for his idiocy, no matter who gets the money, may be the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. At some point, even Republicans in Congress have to comprehend that like some of their colleagues, Americans will only stay silent and passive for so long, especially with midterm elections looming large.

Americans may continue tolerating Trump’s treasonous affair with Vlad Putin and Russia’s oligarchs; and they may even overlook Trump and his family personally profiting from living in the White House. But it is difficult to fathom very many Americans’ overlooking having to pay $12 billion to cover Trump’s personal incompetence and outrageous tariffs – especially when they understand that Russian President Vladimir Putin likes Trump’s tariffs on America’s trading partners.

Image: Reuters

Japan and the E.U. hit back at Trump with major free trade agreement

In Trump’s insignificant little mind he is a master of “the deal,” but his alleged prowess in “dealing” with America’s international trading partners is proving to be a significant detriment to nearly every industry in the United States. That fact was manifest in grand fashion when as expected, Japan and the European Union signed a major trade agreement that is as much a slap in Trump’s bloated orange face as it is going to be an economic benefit to the nations involved – nations that will not include the United States.

President Barack Obama, and this nation’s leading economists, manufacturing industries and corporate leaders, were avid supporters of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it allowed America to dictate its own economic destiny. The concept of America ever being able to dictate, or control, its own economic destiny died the day of Trump’s poorly attended inauguration. That is the day when reality sunk in that a know-nothing television celebrity intended to “make America great” by abandoning hard-fought trade agreements negotiated solely to benefit American industries. That reality prompted America’s trading partners to begin seeking new trade agreements without the isolationist-minded United States’ involvement; the Japan and the European Union agreement is a result of Trump’s plan to make America great by isolating it from the rest of the world.

The agreement signed last week is the culmination of negotiations that began exactly one year ago during the so-called G20 economic summit in Hamburg Germany. Those negotiations were a direct result of Trump unilaterally withdrawing America from the TTP and coupled with his campaign pledge to force Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

It is noteworthy that just the threat of America reneging on its NAFTA agreement prompted Mexico to initiate its so-called “Plan B” and begin negotiations with other nations eager to supplant America’s powerful agriculture sector. Those negotiations have yielded agreements that benefit Mexico and several other nations at the expense of America’s agriculture sector; the new EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) deals an additional blow to American farmers.

The new EPA drastically reducesmost bilateral tariffs including high Japanese duties on EU products and EU tariffs on Japanese automobiles.” The European Commission projects that the EPA will eliminate roughly $1.2 billion in tariffs for EU exporters and “double the amount for Japanese companies.” Because of Trump, American exporters will be at a major trade disadvantage because they are now “isolated” from the “free-trade zone” the countries making up around 30 percent of the world’s GDP now enjoy. As noted by Bob Bryan writing for Business Insider, “The EPA is the just the latest in a series of liberalizing agreements that have been initiated or formalized by major economic powers around the world;” all while Trump is isolating America and antagonizing the country’s allies and trading partners as a matter of course.

That isolationism and protectionism Trump champions is also one of the reasons the EPA was signed in a very public way. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and European Council President Donald Tusk were forthright in telling the rest of the civilized world why they acted decisively without American participation. Mr. Tusk said:

This is an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based international order, at a time when some are questioning this order. We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism.”

Prime Minister Abe also leveled some criticism Trump’s way and rightly asserted that Japan and the EU were taking the lead in international trade that America once enjoyed. Mr. Abe said:

“While protectionism is spreading in the world, Japan and the European Union will take the lead as flag bearers for free trade.”

It bears repeating, ad nauseam, that America is being left out of more and more free trade deals due to Trump. While the imbecile in the White House consults his own moronic mind on international trade, the world’s other “major economic powers” have been negotiating similar deals to the EPA over the past year or so.  It is true that some of the deals were in the works prior to Trump, but the loss of America’s leadership prompted the rest of the world to expedite their commitment to free trade and eliminate the barriers like those Trump is erecting on America’s trading partners.

This EPA deal is not the EU’s only foray into international trade as the new world leader. The EU is in the process of ratifying “a landmark agreement with Canada” and “pursuing deals with Mexico, Australia, and the so-called “Mercosur;” a trading bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The EU is also in talks with China that recently “lowered tariffs on products including vehicles and launched talks with the EU to build a stronger trade relationship;” all while Trump is doing everything in his power to decimate America’s trade relationships with ill-advised unilateral tariffs.

In fact, last Monday, China and the European Union economic leaders issued a rare joint statement reiterating their dedication “to resisting protectionism and unilateralism, and making globalization more open, balanced, inclusive, and beneficial to all;” except for America with its isolationist malcontent incapable of comprehending the benefits of participating in, much less leading, a global economy.

It is unclear how much damage to America Republicans and their corporate funders are going to allow Trump to single-handedly inflict on the nation’s economy before they say enough. He has created a disaster for the agriculture industry with idiotic immigration policies, tariffs, withdrawing from the TTP and just threatening to balk on America’s commitment to NAFTA. And the downstream damage to American manufacturers due to tariffs on steel and aluminum is going to be significantly devastating. All the while, Trump’s supporters who are the first casualties of his isolationism maintain their undying support for him. It is almost certain they will continue their support even as they lose their livelihoods and suffer higher prices due to Trump’s tariffs.

It is a travesty that although America is a powerful economic force, it ceded its global leadership to other nations like Japan, Canada, China, and the European Union simply because Trump fails to recognize the benefits of globalization and the value of free trade. The bigger travesty is that Trump’s supporters, those who are already feeling the effects of his isolationist and protectionist policies, will continue supporting him for two overriding reasons unrelated to international trade; he pledge to make America white and Christian.

Image: South China Morning Post

Putin and Trump coordinate their attacks against dissenters in America

Despite the alleged mystery surrounding exactly what Trump discussed and agreed on with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin during their secretive confab in Helsinki, there is one agreement the two authoritarians probably discussed at length. How to best combat and demean Americans who criticize Trump for siding with Russia against the interests of the United States, its intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and American democracy.

As Mark Sumner opined on Saturday, there was an abundance of distractions over the past week to keep the Trump-Russia assault on American institutions out of the headlines at the nation’s peril. It likely contributed to many Americans missing the report in Reuters that Trump’s love-interest Putin followed Trump’s lead and accused “powerful forces” in the United States of trying to undermine “the glaring success” of Trump’s private sit-down with Putin. It is an accusation shared by Kentucky senator and spurious “eye doctor” Rand Paul, although it is highly unlikely that Paul was informed about the “secret agreements” between the two leaders.

Putin shared his disgust with “powerful forces in the United States” with Russian diplomats from around the world during a meeting in Moscow on Thursday past.  Putin contends that the only reason those “forces” are being mean to, and critical of Trump is because of the success of the private Helsinki talks.  Putin, like Trump, said that the secretive meeting between the two leaders vastly improved relations between Russia and America, including boasting that the private meeting yielded many “useful agreements” that no one in America except Trump is privy to.

However, because Putin is using the same talking points as Trump regarding the opposition from Republicans and Democrats over an American giving aid and comfort to a hostile foreign adversary, it appears that one of those “useful agreements” was coordinating the attacks on Americans opposed to what sane human beings consider treason.

Putin agreed with Trump, or Trump agreed with Putin, that “some people” in America hate the fact that the two authoritarians share an ideology that is contrary to America’s interests. According to Putin, and in total agreement with Trump:

There are powerful forces in the U.S. trying to sabotage everything the private talks achieved. We see that there are forces in the United States that are prepared to sacrifice Russian-U.S. relations for their ambitions in an internal political battle in the United States. Those U.S. politicians who put their ‘narrow party interests’ above the best interests of the United States are powerful enough to foist their questionable stories on millions of Americans.”

Obviously, “questionable stories” is Putin’s way of saying “fake news;” likely one of the “secret agreements” he made with Trump so as not to make their criticisms appear too closely coordinated.

Putin did not identify any of the Republicans or Democrats who are appalled that the White House occupant demeaned America, its intelligence agencies, the United States Congress, and the media for acknowledging Russia’s attack on democracy during the 2016 election. However, Rand Paul had no qualms calling out, by name, a few of the Republicans who criticized Trump for siding with Putin against the United States; an action that earned the Kentucky senator a rousing “thank you” from dirty Donald Trump. He does appreciate anyone, whether another Republican or foreign adversary, who assails his critics ensconced in the Republican movement.

According to Paul, the only reason members of his own party are criticizing Trump’s treasonous actions after Russia attacked America’s democracy is because they “just don’t like President Trump.” He said:

Republicans that are making the criticism are either the pro-war Republicans like McCain and Graham or the anti-Trump ones like Sasse … They are motivated by their persistent and consistent dislike of the president Trump.”

Trump was beside himself with joy after Putin, and then a poor excuse for an American, defended him for taking sides with Russia against the interests of the United States. He took to his favorite means of communication, Twitter, to “tweet” some serious praise and gratitude Rand Paul’s way for supporting his embrace of an aggressive enemy of America. And yes, Putin is an enemy – no friend or American ally launches an attack on our democracy. Especially when the attacks are still ongoing. Trump tweeted:

Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it! The President Trump has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed think?”

It is noteworthy that all of the investigations into Trump, from his poorly attended inauguration to today have been at the hands of Republicans in control of Congress as well as the intelligence and law enforcement community. In addition, the judges authorizing search warrants against Trump’s henchmen were appointed by Republican presidents; including the warrants served on Michael Cohen and Carter Page. If there is anything one-sided about the myriad investigations into Trump and his criminal conspirators, it is founded on prejudice favoring America over Russia and their most valued American asset – Trump.

Americans may never learn what kind of “useful agreements” were made during the secretive meeting between Trump and Putin. But if the coordinated attacks on Americans who oppose an American giving aid and comfort to the enemy are any indication; it is likely the two authoritarian leaders agreed to work in concert against Americans opposed to a traitor in the White House.

 

House votes to make churches dark money PACs

One of the greatest atrocities against the U.S. Constitution and America as it was created was foolishly providing churches with tax exemption with one simple requirement they refuse to abide.

As much as Americans complain about the filthy rich and corporations not paying their fair share of tax, it is curious there is no outrage about religious groups paying no amount of tax or contributing anything of value to society. Oh, it is true the “faithful” boast about the church’s “good works,” but those works are mandated by the faith for entrance into eternal bliss, or some such absurd notion. “Good works” are alleged to be their own reward for “real” followers of Christ.

It has been on the religious right’s wish list for decades, but now those “good works” entail actively funding Republican candidates and campaigning from the pulpit for more Republican “good works” enriching the wealthy and punishing non-compliance with evangelical edicts. In addition, Republicans have provided wealthy donors and dark money groups with a nearly foolproof means of avoiding campaign finance regulations with a value-added bonus of deducting campaign contributions as “charitable donations to a tax-exempt church.”

The religious right has revolted against the Johnson Amendment since its inception in 1954 because without their political activism in support of Republicans, they would be incapable of installing anti-women and anti-gay cretins in office. They wanted their tax exemption and the ability to campaign from the pulpit – which is exactly what the Johnson Amendment prohibited until now.

Although House Republicans did not vote to repeal the dreaded amendment, they did vote to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from taking action against churches and clergy that violate the rule with veritable impunity. Every year for the past five years on so-called “pulpit freedom Sunday,” over a thousand evangelical churches recorded clergy campaigning from the pulpit and then sent the video records directly to the IRS – daring them to take action. The goal was to initiate a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court to give the evangelical conservatives an opening to strike down the Johnson Amendment as unconstitutional. It is ironic because giving churches taxpayer money is contrary to the Separation Clause in the First Amendment and seems patently unconstitutional. And yes, tax-exemption for churches is giving religious groups free taxpayer money as much as the obscene “faith-based initiative” atrocity is giving churches free taxpayer money.

Now, with Trump demanding that the IRS give churches what they want, something he promised before his poorly-attended inauguration,  and House Republicans voting to make it illegal for the IRS to hold churches accountable to their sacred agreement as non-profits; churches will be the ideal dark money PACs. Remember, donations to political campaigns or PACs and candidates are not deductible and are limited by law. However, donations to religious organizations are deductible and likely unlimited.

What that means is that wealthy donors like the Koch brothers can donate to churches that will funnel the money to the campaign coffers of Republican anti-choice and anti-gay candidates; and they would be tax-deductible unlike any other form of the Kochs’ political giving. It also means “dark money” donors will be able to conceal those contributions from the prying eyes of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and especially the Internal Revenue Service. As Matthew Bulger at The Humanist noted:

Donations to churches for political ends would be anonymous, unlike most other forms of political giving.  This is especially concerning because while most 501(c)(3) groups must file a Form 990 with their tax return, which provides some information about the group and its activities, churches are exempt from that reporting requirement. As a result, their political spending would be nearly impossible to track.”

Moreover, the recently announced Treasury Department rule allows certain tax-exempt organizations, including politically active nonprofit groups like churches, to conceal the identify of their donors to tax authorities ensuring an unlimited, and unchecked, supply of dark money in campaigns. If anyone still believes there is an ounce of fairness in America under Republican rule, they are a moron.

As an aside, it is difficult to believe that this Treasury Department action was not enacted, at least in part, to protect groups like the NRA from reporting that Russia paid the gun-zealots to campaign and advocate for Trump and his gun-crazed GOP cohorts during the 2016 general election.

As Politico noted, the Republican House legislation “amounts to a backdoor way around the so-called Johnson amendment,” but it is so much more. It portends nothing good for America’s waning democracy and all but guarantees that the religious right’s crusade to install more GOP theocrats in high places will proceed with the utmost expediency.

These Republican actions on behalf of churches, and the permanent political supremacy of Republicans, certainly have the potential to be a greater attack on democracy than the dreaded Citizens United ruling. It does not necessarily mean that every church in America will be holding weekly Republican campaign rallies, but it does give evangelical clergy the freedom to promote candidates that share their Dark Age mentality with a captive audience every Sunday. And, coupled with the recent Treasury Department ruling, it will give wealthy donors and dark money groups all the cover they ever hoped for without abolishing all campaign finance regulations.

The concept of giving churches tax exemption, and by extension free taxpayer money, is an honest-to-dog abomination; and it is contrary to the intent of the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers. Why so many Americans believe church tax exemption is sacrosanct is beyond comprehension; likely a fair amount of the blame rests with the media and politicians who refuse to alert the people that they are giving churches free welfare to the tune of over a hundred-million dollars every year. Of course the ignoramus public falls for the tired argument that the church and clergy provide “special” benefits to society, but they never consider that nurses, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, and public service workers all provide a benefit to all of society and they all pay taxes; a portion of which is flowing directly to churches.

It is an honest-to-dog travesty that large and small communities across America are struggling to find funding for services like clean water, law enforcement, schools, and dependable roads while churches avoid paying anything for the same roads, clean water, schools, law enforcement and firefighters the rest of the population funds. While discussing exactly what “religious freedom” entailed at the nation’s creation, Founding Father and third President Thomas Jefferson said:

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Nearly two-and-a-half centuries later, not only are all Americans compelled to support religious worship, places and ministries by government fiat, they are soon going to compelled to comply with the evangelicals who now have all the tools they need to create their theocracy – a theocracy that is being partially funded by the poor unwitting American people.

Image: Patheos

Trump and McConnell’s judicial havoc will last for decades

After the events of the past 10 days, it is abundantly clear that there is no end to the amount of damage Trump will wreak on the United States internationally and domestically. However, it is almost certain that every dirty move Trump makes internationally can be reversed by a sane administration – although no foreign nation will ever trust America again whether they are an ally or an antagonist. It is a travesty, but because of Trump and his Republican henchmen in the Senate and the Christofascists running the Heritage Foundation, no American should ever trust their government to look out for their interests; or that they will continue to have constitutional protections. It is likely that within a year or so, Trump, his theocratic cabal, and Republicans will have succeeded in unleashing lasting damage on the American people and the federal government. In this case “lasting” means several decades if not permanently.

Over at Salon, Amanda Marcotte, opined that there is a “vile reason why Republicans will keep covering for Trump’s unending, and perilous, scandals.” Although Ms. Marcotte makes a sound argument, it ignores the simple fact that even if Republicans were inclined to stop protecting Trump and throw the criminal out of the White House, there is a dyed-in-the-wool Christofascist conservative who will continue “packing the courts” with far right-wing religious extremists. According to Ms. Marcotte, that is the “vile reason” Republicans condone Trump’s wrecking-crew agenda as if only Trump will “pack the courts” with evangelical right-wing activists.

Where Trump does the evangelical extremists’ bidding for electoral support, Mike “preacher” Pence is a true believer that America was created as an evangelical theocracy and his Christian bible is the law of the land. Pence would move the proverbial “Heaven and Earth” to make America as Christian as Trump is attempting to make it Aryan. Still, there is no denying that with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “court packing” crusade in full swing, America as it has existed for 238 years is finished and two of the Heritage Foundation’s theocratic judicial appointments should disabuse any American’s idea that there is  a limit to the damage Trump is doing to America and its people.

It is true that the theocratic Heritage Foundation is in the process of shaping the Supreme Court in its image for at least a generation; the religious right has clamored for a Christian conservative majority for decades. However, the real damage is their appointments of young, incompetent, and inexperienced right wing ideologues and evangelicals filling the federal appellate courts. At the rate the lower courts are being packed with neo-con evangelical crusaders, it is possible that many cases will never reach the High Court. These recent Trump-Heritage appointees are openly biased and because it mainly concerns religion, they are not being assailed as religious extremists. There must be a convention in America that forbids questioning the imposition of the evangelical religion as if doing so is tantamount to what used to be considered treason – siding with a hostile foreign leader against the interests of the United States.

Regarding the Russian asset in the Oval, while the media and some Americans were watching Trump lie about his “misspeak” regarding Russia’s attack on America’s democracy, Mitch McConnell was holding a confirmation vote on a “radical right wing” ideologue, Andrew Oldham, as a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. To label Oldham as a radical, anti-government neo-conservative is an understatement.

Oldham is, as reported in May, a wet dream for the Koch brothers and particularly the theocracy-minded Heritage Foundation. Like the Koch brothers, Oldham openly questions the “legitimacy” of the federal government by arguing vigorously, “The entire existence of this edifice of administrative law is constitutionally suspect.” He also claims that agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Labor are patently “illegal and illegitimate.” Apparently, Oldham is opposed to any form of taxation and federal or state regulations unless they target women’s right to self-determination; it is the primary reason the evangelicals at the Heritage Foundation ordered Trump to nominate him.

Oldham argued in defense of a set of bizarre 2013 Texas evangelical laws that regulated the medical profession with the purpose of closing down “safe, legal abortion clinics” while he was deputy solicitor general in Texas. The Supreme Court overturned the law that had nothing to do with improving women’s health, particularly when it immediately closed down 13 abortion clinics. As NARAL’s Adrienne Kimmell noted:

Oldham’s track record proves time and time again that he will be a foot soldier for the anti-choice movement’s agenda, which includes overturning and gutting Roe v. Wade to criminalize abortions.”

It is a “track record” as an evangelical foot soldier that prompted the Christofascist Heritage Foundation to appoint Oldham to the federal appellate court. His embrace of the Koch brothers’ mindset that federal government agencies, departments, and regulations are, for all intent and purposes, “illegitimate and illegal” is a value-added bonus to sate the greed of the bastard libertarian Kochs and their GOP ilk.

Just recently, a different Trump-Heritage appellate judge revealed exactly why he was appointed to the federal bench; he hates the idea of women’s choice and he loves the church he claims is being treated unfairly.  The Trump-Heritage appointee, some evangelical malcontent named James Ho sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the recently-confirmed Andrew Oldham is joining. In a case involving another Texas law requiring the cremation or proper (Christian) burials of “fetal remains,” a U.S. District Judge blocked its enactment because it imposed an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion access. It was a more than reasonable decision simply because “it [the law] created absolutely no benefit for women, while passing on substantial costs to patients and clinics.”

Texas evangelicals disagreed and claimed that forcing proper Christian fetal burials does not impose any extra expense or burden on anyone because the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered to bury fetal remains for free, or at reduced costs. However, when the plaintiffs, Whole Woman’s Health, served a subpoena on the Bishops requesting documents relating to its funding fetal burials for veracity, the church said no – they don’t have to prove anything because they are the Holy and infallible church.

In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court ruled that the lower court had to “suppress” the plaintiff’s subpoena and stop being mean to “the church.” In that ruling the Court assailed the plaintiffs, Whole Woman’s Health, for daring to “intimidate” the poor beleaguered church by requesting proof of the Catholic Bishops’ claim. The ruling also attacked the District Judge for his “religious insensitivity” of having the audacity to “rule against the Catholic Church on a Sunday morning when its members were almost surely in church.” Trump’s appointee, Ho, added that the district court judge was barbaric in “retaliating against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”

If anyone does not believe the reason “Mitch McConnell kept hundreds of vacant judicial seats open under President Barack Obama so the Senate Republicans could fill those seats” with evangelical far right ideologues, they are ridiculously naïve, if not stupid. As Kristine Lucius of The Leadership Conference noted:

Under McConnell and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, the record-breaking pace of hearings, committee votes and floor votes, and utter disregard for Senate norms and traditions on nominees, has been shameful. Trump is trying to take over the federal courts by nominating young extremists who are unfit to serve impartially.”

It is worth repeating that much of Trump’s damage can be reversed; tariffs can be lifted, environmental regulations can be reinstated, cuts to social programs can be halted, corporate tax cuts can be rescinded, and immigration atrocities can be stopped. However, there is nothing whatsoever any American, legislative body, or future administration can do to change the makeup of a federal judiciary packed with radical religious and far-right wing ideologues serving for life.

It is a sad state of affairs that the people are fundamentally ignorant of the coming disaster of a radical religious federal judiciary. But they will likely get a clue when their voting rights are restricted, LGBTQ rights are struck down, environmental protections are completely abolished, executive power is increased, campaign finance regulations are eliminated and when women are prohibited from making their own determination regarding their personal reproductive health and childbearing.

America is headed for a seriously rough time with a generation’s worth of evangelical conservative federal courts earning the theocratic Heritage Foundation’s mandate to decide what laws are constitutional. It is not going to matter one iota what a future Democratic president or Congress passes into law – any one of Trump’s radical religious courts can rule them unconstitutional and that will be the end of them. Moreover, no American should believe for any measure of Planck time that with a federal judiciary packed with anti-women’s rights crusaders, women are not going to suffer the wrath of Christofascists who are perilously close to running all three branches of what was created as a secular government.

The GOP fears Nazi and racist candidates running as Republicans

There is an idiom, allegedly with biblical origins, that most people have heard and clearly understand to mean that one’s “actions dictate the consequences.” After marveling at their base’s racial animus targeting an African American man the majority of the population chose as their President twice, there are reports that Republicans are freaking out over a rash of white supremacists and Nazis running for public office under the GOP banner. Members of the Republican Party should not even feign outrage over the Republican Nazi ascendancy because the party’s standard bearer considers white supremacists and avowed Nazi fascists “very fine people;” the kind of people Trump warned the opposition to “just be careful” of criticizing or incurring their wrath for not worshipping the fascist in the Oval Office.

Republicans are only opposed to white supremacists and Nazis running for office as Republicans because they fear an electoral backlash – not because they have a problem with racists, Nazis, or fascists. After all, Party members are solidly behind, and desperate to protect, the chief Nazi, fascist and white supremacist they allow to stay in the White House; a place he shouldn’t be allowed to visit, much less occupy.

In fact, the only reason the dirty Nazis and racists feel emboldened to publicly promote their hate is because, as they are wont to claim, “this is Trump’s America now.” It is a favorite call before, during, and after attacks on people of color, immigrants, and people adhering to the wrong religion whether it is Judaism, Islam, or Catholicism.

Over at Vox, Jane Coaston penned a fairly comprehensive piece describing the GOP’s self-professed white supremacists in “at least five state and national races across the country.” No doubt there is some validity in claiming the GOP is dealing with what it considers “an uncomfortable problem,” but it is a problem of their own making; they are “reaping what they’ve sown” and it began long before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration.

Actually, it is more accurate to say that Republicans are reaping what their tacit approval has sown over the past ten years. Trump is part of the “uncomfortable problem” state and national Republicans are harvesting whether they like it or not. If the official GOP response to white supremacists and racial animus in their base was zero tolerance and robust condemnation during President Obama’s tenure in a place he belonged, it is likely the group unabashedly making their presence felt now would still be hiding under sheets – where Republicans like to keep them.

They certainly liked it when their nasty base openly displayed purely racist animus towards President Barack Obama as evidenced by their silent, but implicit approval. The filthy hypocrites have no right criticizing the self-described white supremacists, anti-Semites, and “card carrying Nazis” now after allowing them to rage and hate with impunity for eight long years; and that does not include the past two years they sat idly by and allowed dastardly Don to express his racism and adoration of white supremacists, Nazis, and fascists.

For a sample of what Republicans fostered over the past ten years only to fear the consequences in an election year, North Carolina Republicans are suffering a white supremacist pig, Russell Walker, who is running for the state House of Representatives. According to his personal website, replete with regular use of the n-word, Walker claims that “god is a white supremacist and racist” and that “the jews (sic) are NOT semitic they are satanic as they all descend from Satan.”

Another Republican who embraces “Trump’s America” and openly touts his disbelief that the Holocaust occurred, is Illinois candidate for a congressional seat in the House, Arthur Jones. Jones brags about being a proud member of the American Nazi Party. Illinois’ Republican Party is beside its collective self over a candidate it labeled “morally reprehensible” and a “complete nutcase.” It is curious, indeed, that the state Republican Party cannot bring itself to support a “morally reprehensible, complete nutcase” in a midterm race for Congress, but the “nutcase” in the White House has the Party’s unconditional approval and support.

In Virginia, the chair of the state’s Republican Party apparently “had to resign” over allowing a “pro-Confederate, alt-right candidate,” Corey Stewart, to win the state’s Republican primary. In addition, Republicans are gnashing their teeth in Wisconsin because they ignored the seriously nasty racist, Paul Nehlen, Nehlen is running to fill Paul Ryan’s seat in the House of Representatives. It is similar in the Blue state of California where the state GOP is disavowing a flagrant Nazi who argues vehemently that the concept of diversity is just a nasty Jewish plot.

It is true that the racists supporting Trump have always existed, and some were very proud to express their white supremacy and racist bona fides among their friends and under the radar. Now, however, they are emboldened by Trump who regards them as “very fine people” to the point that they are wearing their hate and racial animus as a badge of honor; and as a reason to vote for them in November. That Republicans are either criticizing their candidacies or disavowing them as “not good Republicans” is beyond stunning; especially after implicitly cultivating their hate throughout President Barack Obama’s tenure, and then supporting the racist in the White House.

Trump, like the Nazis and white supremacists presenting an “uncomfortable problem” for the GOP, was a beneficiary of the Republican implied approval of the racists throughout President Obama’s two terms in the White House. The only reason Republicans are being vocal about racists, card-carrying Nazis, and white supremacists now is because they fear the electoral consequences of Nazis running as Republicans. They certainly were not concerned during Barack Obama’s Presidency and they have not shown to be the least bit “uncomfortable” with their Nazi standard-bearer’s racism.

It is unclear if any of the racists, white supremacists and Nazis will win in November, or if their candidacies will be a detriment to other Republican candidates; one certainly hopes that is the case. However, this is Trump’s America now and racists, Nazis and white supremacists have been officially deemed “very fine people” by the head racist. That White House approval has given the green light to racists and Nazis across the nation to wear their hate and racial animus with pride because like Trump, they are what he considers “really good Republicans.”

 

Trump is doing more to divide the Western Alliance than the Kremlin

Loyalty is a trait Trump demands from everyone whether they are in his family, his criminal enterprise, American citizens, or leaders of America’s allies and trading partners. Of course, in Trump’s tiny narcissistic mind, loyalty entails abject obedience and perpetual praise for the aspiring dictator no matter the issue. Anyone falling short of what Trump considers loyalty soon finds themself on the receiving end of his typically vindictive nature and that includes leaders of sovereign nations Americans have called allies and partners for decades, if not generations.

As one might expect, NATO members are rightfully concerned that Trump’s upcoming visit will be a repeat of the G7 debacle just a month ago. Like that economic “summit,” Trump will depart from meeting with America’s allies and rush into the waiting arms of a tyrannical dictator – his favorite ruler Vladimir Putin. Putin would love nothing more than to learn directly from Trump that he succeeded  in alienating NATO members and weakening the “Western Alliance.” It is abominable that instead of displaying any loyalty to America’s historical allies, Trump has done little else but provoke our friends in an effort to please a hostile foreign leader.

Trump is desperate to please and display loyalty to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for what appears to be purely pecuniary reasons. Subsequently, since even before his poorly attended inauguration, dirty Don has “pleased” Putin beyond the dirty Ruskie’s wildest dream. Putin’s long sought-after dream is fracturing the Western Alliance made up of the European Union and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); it is the only way Putin can assert Russian authority over Europe to match the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Trump has given every indication that one of his primary foreign policy goals includes helping Putin realize his dream with divisive attacks and comments targeting America’s allies; all under the guise of making America great by being disloyal to its friends, and all because they fail to obey Trump’s outrageous demands or praise him like a messiah.

Trump has attacked NATO members for not spending enough on their militaries, started a trade war with the bloc by levying punitive tariffs, abandoned international deals on climate change and Iran’s nuclear program, and refused to sign the typically-uncontroversial G-7 statement last month. He’s also publicly condemned a sovereign nation’s leader and close ally, Angela Merkel, because she refuses to enact Trump-like barbaric immigration policies. In addition, he has  reportedly pushed French President Emmanuel Macron to do Putin’s bidding and weaken “the Alliance” by asking the French leader, “Why don’t you leave the European Union?”

It is likely that because Russia handed out financial incentives to the right-wing malcontent behind the so-called “Brexit” movement, Trump decided to contribute to fracturing the Western Alliance by levying punitive tariffs against America’s allies and trading partners; anything to aid Putin break apart the only thing preventing him from annexing all of Europe. Remember, Putin only invaded and confiscated Crimea from Ukraine because it is not a NATO member-nation.

It is noteworthy that abandoning any one of the international deals with America’s democratic allies had nothing to do with how much NATO member nations spend on their own military. But those acts are contributing to Putin’s longstanding goal of ripping apart the so-called “Western Alliance.” It is why a renowned political analyst and Russian exile working at the Hudson Institute,  Andrei Piontkovsky said:

Putting these events together creates a moment of truth. All NATO countries are worried about it [Trump’s belligerence toward the EU]. For the Eastern members, this is a matter of life and death. Trump is doing more to divide the West and weaken NATO than the Kremlin itself. Trump is the ideal U.S. president for Putin.”

Mr. Piontkovsky’s statement could not possibly be more accurate and it goes beyond Trump’s claim that he is only going after NATO members because “they owe us money.” That excuse may work on Trump’s dirt-dumb acolytes, but any half-wit understands NATO members do not owe, or have to pay, America as a condition of NATO membership.  It is  likely that those same Trump supporters are unaware that there is only one instance of NATO members invoking Article 5 to defend a member who was attacked. The “common defense” clause commits all members to protect each other and generally sets a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance, not the price of membership.

After a criminal gang hijacked passenger aircraft and flew them into American buildings, the Alliance’s members committed, and followed through, to protect America by joining its never-ending war in Afghanistan. It is noteworthy that those NATO countries never called on America to pay for  receiving “protection;” it is what real loyalty and commitment looks like and is something Trump will never acknowledge or understand.

It is bad enough that Trump has no loyalty to his own country and that he has made ending whatever “spirit of solidarity” as Americans this country may have once enjoyed. But that is the price Americans have to pay for electing an aspiring dictator whose idea of loyalty is abject obedience. No matter how badly Trump rips America apart, it does not represent an existential threat to this nation’s most valuable allies and trading partners. His hostility and punitive actions against the European Union and NATO countries, however, if successful, will give Vladimir Putin exactly what he expected when he put his puppet in the White House – a willing servant devoted to dismantling the only thing preventing Russian expansion in Europe.

 

Celebrating Pruitt’s departure ignores the danger of his replacement

The endemic corruption permeating Trump’s administration is so ridiculously mind boggling that describing the so-called “swamp” as a rotting special interest cesspool is an understatement. Trump and the GOP’s plan to hand the government over to special interests was glaringly apparent immediately after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration based on the insertion of special interests throughout the federal government.

It is safe to say that there are no federal agencies or departments in Trump’s cesspool that are not infested with greedy special interests or industry lobbyists intent on dismantling the organization they were tapped to lead into ruination. That particular outrage is best represented by evangelical malcontents Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt. In Pruitt’s case, the sworn enemy of environmental regulations is now the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the celebratory mood on the Left is curious indeed.

Although there is an abundance of glee that Pruitt was allegedly pushed out over a dozen or so ethics investigations, it is clear that cheering Pruitt’s exit as some kind of victory is incredibly foolish. Obviously the people celebrating Pruitt’s “removal” are unaware that his temporary replacement is just as hazardous to the environment, and Americans’ health and welfare, as Pruitt. The new anti-environment crusader will be much worse simply because he is a seasoned Washington insider and fossil fuel  industry lobbyist who knows how to achieve Trump’s goals without drawing attention to himself or Trump’s corrupt administration.

It was reported shortly after news of Pruitt’s exit as EPA head that the only reason he was “forced out” was the optics of one of Trump’s operatives being perpetually investigated for ethics violations  – not his job performance and not because he was an unethical cretin like his boss in the Oval Office. In fact, Trump has praised Pruitt profusely for decimating environmental regulations at the behest of the fossil fuel and chemical industries which is the only reason he was appointed in the first place. Who better to eviscerate environmental regulations, and dismantle they EPA, than a special interest puppet whose self-professed claim to fame was suing the federal agency he wanted abolished to sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry.

Now that Pruitt is no longer doing the heavy lifting for the Koch brothers et al, no sane American should breathe a sigh of relief that the EPA will suddenly fulfill its mandate and revert to protecting the environment and Americans’ health and welfare; especially not with a coal industry lobbyist running the show.

Despite the bluster and claims that he was decimating, especially “Obama-era,” environmental protections, by all accounts Scott Pruitt was as inept as he is corrupt and evangelically extreme. The man serving as acting EPA chief, Andrew Wheeler, is anything but incompetent. Of course he lacks whatever sense of ethical obligation to help protect his fellow Americans from the dirty filthy fossil fuel industry. That being the case, it should be no surprise that Wheeler shares Pruitt’s “passion” for completely deregulating the fossil fuel industry; he has spent the great majority of his lobbying career on behalf of the energy industry and, in particular, the dirty filthy coal companies. His particular speciality was lobbying Republicans to expedite the industry’s demand that Republicans “weaken federal regulations” if not abolish them with prejudice. Like Trump and Pruitt, Wheeler thinks he is smarter than 97 percent of the Earth’s scientist and denies the existential damage of ignoring global climate change.

As noted by many pundits and environmental activists, Wheeler is the epitome of a Washington insider who works “behind the scenes” to help “kill off regulations” the fossil fuel industry and other industrial polluters complain are restricting their profits. And unlike Pruitt, Wheeler will not be announcing which regulations protecting Americans’ water and air he just abolished. In effect, Wheeler will “reshape America’s environmental policies to benefit his powerful friends in the energy industry” at the expense of Americans’ health and welfare. Don’t believe it?

Even before being appointed as “acting” EPA chief, while Wheeler worked for Murray Energy he heavily lobbied the Department of Energy to start using taxpayer dollars to provide federal  subsidies for coal producers. Fortunately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rightly “struck down the proposal” despite intense pressure from Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Wheeler was also part of the lobbying team that pushed Trump to open up Big Ears National Monument in Utah to a uranium mining company’s operation. Wheeler was a determined proponent of exempting industrial plants from adhering to pollution controls after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he waged a ferocious battle to shield polluters from liability for the harm they caused by the release of toxic chemicals into the air and water.

Look, there is little doubt that Scott Pruitt, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, did not represent the scum of the Trump administration cesspool; both because Pruitt is unethical and because his intent was only ever serving the special interests in the fossil fuel, chemical and manufacturing industries. Now, there is a very competent, behind the scenes, kind of scum that will fight against protecting the environment with the same zeal as his lobbying effort on behalf of the country’s largest private coal company. The results will be the demise of the nation’s environmental and public health regulations that Trump and the Koch brothers want eliminated. It is true no-one in their right mind will miss Scott Pruitt, but they will likely miss being aware of exactly what damage the head of the Environmental Protection Agency plans to wreak on the environment and the American people.