Pruitt’s Clean Power Repeal Means Death for Americans

Shortly after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, scientists at several federal agencies said they were told they can no longer speak to the media or use social media because the new administration rejects science – they claim it hurts Republicans’ fossil fuel donors.  Over at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staffers were notified that going forward any scientific work would have to be reviewed by fossil fuel advocates appointed by Republican politicians to stop scientists’ attacks on the dirty energy industry.

Yesterday, the Republican whose prior claim to fame was thwarting the EPA by keeping the agency tied up in the courts ignored science the EPA depends on to protect Americans. In fact Scott Pruitt boasted often that he was “the leading advocate against the EPA,” but because he still doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally destroy the agency he runs, he used his position to repeal the agency’s Clean Power Plan to put a rapid end to the critical effort of reducing carbon emissions. Remember, the mission of the EPA is “protecting human health and the environment by issuing regulations and enforcing the nation’s environmental laws.” Scott Pruitt rejects the concept of protecting human health and the environment because he is a shill for the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt went to Kentucky on Monday and proudly announced that as the man tasked with protecting the nation’s environment, he is unilaterally repealing the Clean Power Plan – because it was founded on science and created to protect the nation’s environment and not the Koch brothers’ wealth. The Clean Power Plan was also put in place to protect current and future Americans by aiding the effort to reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change Trump says is a Chinese hoax. Trump claims the preponderance of atmospheric and oceanic scientists are lying about global warming because he saw snow falling someplace.

Pruitt’s action is just one of the reasons why the fossil fuel industry contributes millions to elect Republicans, and as expected their dirty investments are paying off.  The Koch brothers, in particular, have called for abolishing the EPA for well over 30 years and no doubt they are getting antsy to see the agency abolished. Now that they are co-owners of the government with the religious right, their prayers to the fossil fuel gods are being answered by a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical whose fealty to fossil fuels rivals his devotion to evangelical radicalism.

Pruitt claims his action will end the “war on coal” and the industry will explode. But as the industry has admitted often as of late, nothing Trump or Pruitt does will halt the “decline of coal” or create jobs that have been replaced by mechanization. Coal’s decline is also evident according to the explosion in green energy jobs and cheaper electrical generating costs as more utilities and states have shifted to cheaper and cleaner wind, natural gas, and solar to save money. Many states are going forward with targets set by the Clean Power Plan because of the health and cost benefits of not using dirty coal-fired electricity generating plants. Coal is responsible for “about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.”

Pruitt and Trump both lie profusely that their attacks on the EPA and advocacy for dirty fossil fuels is good for America and helps their crusade to protect the people and the environment. However, as former EPA head Gina McCarthy notes:

Pruitt’s proposal does nothing to protect public health and the natural resources we need to survive and thrive. It’s not smart or economically sound. It ignores the investment opportunities and health benefits of our country’s transition to cleaner energy. And it ignores climate change solutions that are plentiful, less expensive than traditional fossil fuels and producing jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper noted that his state is already surpassing their goals with jobs and a cleaner environment after “closing coal plants and developing wind and other renewables.” He added: “We have dramatically cleaner air and we are saving money. My question to [the Pruitt] E.P.A. would be ‘which part of that don’t you like?’”

This latest environmental abomination comes on the heels of the Department of Energy’s plan to subsidize (give taxpayer dollars) coal plants by “revamping (controlling) electricity markets.” Apparently Republicans do not really advocate for “free markets” if they intend on giving the coal industry taxpayers’ dollars the same way they do the dirty, and filthy rich, oil industry.

The director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, Jody Freeman, said that coupled with taxpayer-funded coal subsidies, repealing the Clean Power Plan is a glaring signal that Trump’s administration is  “putting its thumb on the scale in favor of fossil fuels.” Ms. Freeman added:

You see a pretty powerful message. Disavow any effort to control greenhouse gases in the power sector, and instead, intervene in the market to promote coal. It’s a wow!”

It is an expected “wow,” and an abomination for Americans concerned about the damage they see every day from the effects of climate change, or those enjoying cleaner air and water as well as lower electricity bills, or the explosion of well-paying jobs nationwide. According to the EPA’s assessment prior to being run by Pruitt, the Clean Power Plan would prevent about 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year. But Pruitt and Trump could not care less about those statistics; damn the effects of climate change, damn clean air and water, and god damn the American people’s health and welfare.

No matter the economic and health benefits of combatting climate change, Republicans are bound and determined to wipe out those benefits regardless of the adverse effects to the people’s health, climate, and America’s economic well-being. They are also gleefully wiping out any chance of saving the next few generations from the already occurring devastation of global warming because they owe the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry a world of favors. They know without the Kochs’ largesse Republicans would not control the government or the ability to negatively impact Americans’ lives; a goal looking more and more like the only reasons the Republican Party exists.

Koch-Republicans Unleash Attack on Labor in Time for Labor Day

One might think there is some sort of irony in the news that Republicans and their Koch-funded belief tanks are attacking America’s labor force on the federal Labor Day holiday, but with an anti-labor government, it isn’t ironic, it is expected. If Republicans had any scruples, they would make themselves scarce today and avoid public celebrations of Labor Day like plague, but since they don’t have any scruples, they will likely show their greedy faces and offer worthless platitudes to the American worker.

Labor Day was created to acknowledge the organized labor movement (unions) and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is allegedly meant to be a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

However, now that Republicans and the Koch brothers control the government, workers are facing some seriously barbaric assaults on any and everything to do with labor. Republicans and the Kochs have been on a tear to demolish workers’ rights and wages for nigh onto two decades. But now they have the means and authority to send the American workforce back to the early 20th Century. To achieve that important Koch goal, they recently announced a vicious assault on organized labor to accompany their attack on workers’ rights – including the right to a living wage.

According to several reports, as expected, a Koch-funded and ALEC-affiliated network of 67 conservative ‘belief’ tanks with activists in all 50 states announced a “breakthrough campaign” devised to “strike a mortal blow against the American left.” And they will commence their attack by “defunding and defanging” organized labor as an important first step “towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics;” and any labor protections for American workers.

The outfit taking the lead in assaulting the labor force is the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN is a national conservative organization closely tied to the Kochs, Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It consists of 67 different “non-profit foundations” in the states with a mission, in its own words, to be “idea factories” for state-based conservative policies. However, they are “idea factories” pushing the Koch and GOP’s national anti-government policies to “innocent sounding state foundations” that pretend they came up with ideas of their own accord. The Center for Media and Democracy’s ‘Source Watch’ reported:

“In the states, SPN groups increasingly peddle cookie-cutter ‘studies’ to back the cookie-cutter ALEC agenda, spinning that agenda as indigenous to the state and giving it the aura of academic legitimacy. Many SPN groups have been accused of lobbying in their states in violation of IRS rules for non-profit ‘charitable’ organizations.”

The big push to abolish union labor will be spearheaded with a monumental attempt at passing right to work prohibitions in all 50 states, and theright to workcrusade will sound appealing to the stupid people who dependably elect Republicans. However, besides lowering wages, the goal is to destroy unions, and with no unions the concept of prevailing wage” will vanish. Oh there will no doubt be a “prevailing wage,” but instead of a living wage that lifts other workers’ pay, it will do the opposite and bring all wages down in line with whatever Republicans and Kochs decide is best for corporate profits.

No American should think this is an isolated attack on labor. In Missouri this past week the minimum wage workforce in cities that raised the minimum to $10 per hour saw their hourly rate slashed to $7.70 as dictated by the state’s Republican legislature and governor. Not to be outdone, wealthy business failure Trump cut a raise for federal workers.

Republicans in Congress have done their best to keep wages low by refusing to entertain a federal minimum wage hike, and some have called for abolishing the minimum altogether and allow corporations to set the minimum wage. A couple of years ago, House Republicans attempted to pass legislation eliminating overtime pay, and in Wisconsin, Republicans eliminated weekends to allow employers to work their employees without a day off to rest.

In fact, when Republicans get rolling, they will eliminate every worker benefit and labor protection going back to the New Deal. Without unions, living wages, benefits, and worker protections would have never been enacted; the Koch crusade to “defund and defang” unions is a critical step in taking America’s labor back to dire workplace conditions prior to the New Deal.

It isn’t clear if the Kochs, ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, and the State Policy Network believe that destroying unions and cutting wages to poverty level is going to make people stupid like the typical Republican voter, but that appears to be their strategy. Of course their goal, if accomplished, might deprive the left of support from organized labor, but it doesn’t seem reasonable that driving more of the population into poverty is going to endear them to vote for Republicans and against their own best self-interests. However, although Americans have demonstrated they are a productive workforce, they definitely aren’t the wisest voters. If  they had any sense of self-preservation they would not continue electing Republicans to cut their  wages, eliminate their weekends off and overtime pay, and eliminate their ability and right to collectively bargain with corporations for a living wage.

Workers should enjoy this Labor Day, and reflect on why they have lunch breaks, bathroom privileges, overtime pay, industrial accident coverage, weekends off, and a forty-hour work week; it is because of unions. It is difficult to know if there will be any reason to celebrate Labor Day next year. If the Koch brothers, ALEC, Republicans, and the State Policy Network have their way, the first Monday in September will be just another day Americans have to work for slave wages and without any workplace protections; it is exactly what the labor force has to look forward to with the Kochs and Republicans running the government.

Trump Dissolves Crucial Climate Panel In Latest Assault on Science

 

 

One of the missions of not-really-departed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was “dismantling the administrative state;” code for taking apart the government that Trump’s special interests will not tolerate. The Trump administration has been busy issuing executive orders eradicating any part of government their special interests oppose, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the special interests directing Trump’s cabinet are the Koch brothers and big oil. Remember, Trump did not personally vet or select any of his cabinet appointees. That task was assigned to the Heritage Foundation as surrogates for the Kochs who have wanted the federal government “dismantled” since the 1980s, Now they have a rubber stamp in the Oval Office and their Big Oil cohorts have unlimited funds and influence over Trump.

It is no surprise that reports indicate that Trump and his anti-environment Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt “are taking directions from Big Oil.” It is why the agency is purging scientists and actively eliminating regulations and environmental protections that even remotely impact the fossil fuel industry, not just big oil.

By now, only a moron is unaware that despite overwhelming scientific data and decades of research to the contrary, the fossil fuel industry denies climate change exists, or that manmade emissions cause and are exacerbating the condition. Trump claims the whole climate change ‘thing’ is a Chinese hoax. He has also claimed over 50 times that climate change has been thoroughly debunked because there is cold weather someplace on Earth, and he’s seen it.

Over the weekend, the Trump administration, in its devoted service to Big Oil, took another step toward dismantling the administrative state by dissolving a critical, congressionally-mandated, agency because its climate assessment didn’t comport with Trump’s climate denial.

Less than two weeks ago the draft version of the 2018 scientific section of the National Climate Assessment was leaked out of a real fear the Trump and his EPA head would attempt to bury it. Now the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment members will not have to worry about their report being buried; Trump disbanded the “committee.”

The committee’s purpose in the upcoming 2018 report was translating the findings of 13 different federal agencies, over three decades of climate data, and studies conducted by tens-of-thousands of the world’s scientists into the effects of carbon emissions on the warming climate. Those findings were intended to be used to aid policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the federal government’s climate analysis into their long-term infrastructure planning for a broad range of projects from building roads and bridges to maintaining adequate hydroelectric supplies.

Now those public and private officials will have to look elsewhere for guidance because Trump doesn’t believe the National Climate Assessment’s 2018 conclusion that,

There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

According to the passage of the 1990 law calling for the National Climate Assessment, the “committee’s report” is supposed to be issued on a quadrennial basis, but it has only been released three times since the law was passed. The 2018 version was certain to be a “contentious issue” based on the Trump administration’s animosity toward anything related to science, but especially so because it is climate science.

It is not clear if the already released “draft” will be punished in a finalized form, but there is already nervous concern among officials about the fate of the report at the news the committee is disbanded. However, the communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Julie Roberts, said on Saturday that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.

The chair of the 15-member “committee,” Richard Moss, said during an interview on Saturday that ending the group’s work was shortsighted. Moss is a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences and warned of consequences for the decisions state and local authorities tasked with making planning decisions. Mr. Moss said:

It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action. We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”

Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray said that the move to dissolve the committee represents “an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” Murray shared that from a public utilities standpoint, it is going to be “more difficult” for cities to participate in the climate assessment. On climate change, Trump “has left us all individually to figure it out.

The past chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, Richard Wright, has been busy “working with the committee to convey the importance of detailed climate projections” in the 2018 assessment. The Civil Engineers’ society is the agency that establishes “guidelines that form the basis of building codes across the country,” and those guidelines are founded on a historical record that may no longer be an accurate predictor of future weather extremes due to the rapid change in Earth’s climate. Mr. Wright said:

We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be. I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional.

This latest “dismantling” at Trump’s hands is more than just an assault on science or taking apart the government, although it is certainly both of those. And it is much more than just Trump “stepping away from reality or not leading.” It is a well-planned and well-funded effort by Republicans’ special interest donors that will have deleterious effects on the nation, the economy, and the American people for generations. And while it may not be the immediate existential threat of a thermonuclear war, it is a threat that scientists have been warning was coming for several decades. Sadly, now that the the world, and Americans, are seeing and feeling the changing climate’s effects and calling on the government to take action, Trump is going in the opposite direction and disbanded the one agency that may have prevented the worst effects of an impending disaster.

It’s Not Just Trump – The Entire Republican Party Is Morally Rotten

 

It is a sure sign one is encountering a “low information” voter when an American places the blame for all of the nation’s ills and woes on one individual in government; typically the occupant of the White House. There is a good reason there are so many uninformed Americans and it’s down to the overwhelming number of citizens who are “seemingly” dumber than dirt regarding their government.

A recent study found that an overwhelming majority of Americans cannot name the three branches of government (75%), and worse yet a sick number (64%) couldn’t name even one branch if their ignorant lives depended on it. It is a sad revelation to this author that within those statistics must be a fairly significant number of ‘left-leaning’ Americans who blame all of the atrocities coming out of Washington on Trump.

No sane human being would consider arguing that the criminal in the White House doesn’t deserve all of the criticism that’s being heaped on him, and although it is satisfying to unleash a torrent of expletives at or about Trump, he is not the primary problem plaguing the nation. That distinction goes to the entire Republican Party and includes Republican politicians serving in all branches of government in every state, federal and regional office.

Last week Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin paraphrased fellow conservative columnist David Brooks writing for the New York Times to bolster her, and this author’s, assertion that of course Trump is corrupt, but the real problem is the “moral rot” endemic to the Republican movement and all its iterations. According to Brooks:

It takes generations to hammer ethical considerations out of a [party’s] mind and to replace them entirely with the ruthless logic of winning and losing.  Beyond partisanship the GOP evidences no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code.”

Republicans demonstrated that lack of attachment to truth and ethics on the first day of the 2017 legislative session when they attempted to gut the independent ethics committee and eliminate any chance they would be caught cheating. Trump had no part in that piece of work and stunningly criticized Republicans into pulling back from giving themselves free rein to commit all manner of corruption. It is true that Trump is without ethics and lusts to singlehandedly eliminate any and all ethics investigation into his corrupt administration, but it was congressional Republicans who actually attempted the immoral action.

In fact, every abomination being proposed as legislation taking everything from the American people, and every last executive order signed by Trump eliminating regulatory oversight is the handiwork of the Republican establishment under direction of the Koch brothers and their myriad libertarian and evangelical belief tanks.

Remember too, that it is the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Pence who is setting and executing the administration’s domestic and foreign policy, not dumb Don. Trump is not nearly smart or engaged enough to have had at the ready a mountain of executive orders and reforms that are coming out of conservative Washington; those orders and reforms were set in stone by the GOP and their corporate backers ages ago. Whether it is the crusade to “dismantle the administrative state” (government) or transfer all of America’s wealth directly to the richest Americans and their corporations, or impose evangelical edicts on the people; everything coming from the “Trump administration” originated within the GOP establishment long before he came on the scene.

Of course Trump supports transferring the wealth of the nation to his “taker” class by eliminating government and regulations, but he isn’t nearly smart or engaged enough to know, or care, how to go about it. Republicans and their backers have had those plans set in stone for going on four decades; since the Reagan era. A fairly comprehensive list of their goals can be found here and they comport with every unpopular policy and agenda the Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are attempting to ram down the people’s throats today.

The recent circus surrounding the GOP’s attempt to eliminate 20 to 30 million Americans’ healthcare is a prime example of how perverse and rotten to the core the Republican Party is and how little Trump is involved in the legislative or decision-making process.

Trump is a pathological narcissist who desperately needs some kind of “legislative accomplishment” to boast about and nothing seems to turn his crank more than the thought of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is no revelation to any American that Trump had no idea what any of the repeal and replace bills consisted of any more than the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate who voted for them. Trump’s ire with Republicans has nothing to do with what was, or was not, in any of the repeal attempts; it is simply that he didn’t have anything to sign and brag about.

If Republicans wanted to sate the Trump’s need for a healthcare bill to sign, they could have printed out the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and put Trump’s name on it. He would have signed it, held a nationally televised news conference in the Rose Garden and hailed it as the greatest legislation ever enacted in America’s 239 year existence. But giving their president a “victory” to celebrate wasn’t the GOP’s intent; they wanted to take healthcare away from tens-of-millions of Americans to give their donors massive tax cuts. And maybe more importantly, they wanted to begin fulfilling the Koch brothers’ crusade to “dismantle the administrative state.”

Nobody in their right mind thinks Trump is anything other than a tiny-handed, know-nothing bloviate and nasty narcissist who deserves all of the criticism he’s getting. But he does not run the Republican Congress, he is not writing Republican legislation or his own executive orders and is he is definitely not in charge of domestic policy; he willingly “gifted” that responsibility to Mike Pence. Pence is a Koch brother establishment Republican driving every last abomination plaguing the nation whether it is banning transgender soldiers from serving in the military or passing legislation allowing the fossil fuel industry to dump toxic waste into Americans’ water supply.

Trump is a piece of waste and deserves whatever pejoratives and condemnation the people can throw at him. However, it’s time to stop blaming him for what his party is doing just because he gets to live in the White House. It is true that Trump is morally corrupt, but he is only allowed to proceed with impunity because the Republicans he represents have spent generations eradicating any ethical considerations out of the party and abandoned any “attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code.”

Republicans Will Implement Heritage Foundation Budget With Or Without Trump 

 

 

It isn’t a revelation to a few people that Americans can be, and typically are, the most gullible human beings on the planet. It is also true that some Americans believe a fair percentage of the population are stupid as well as gullible and it is likely because few of them actually pay attention to the obvious. There are a few reasons why that’s the case, but it’s fair to say that “confirmation bias” and wishful thinking are at the top of the list.

Right now many Americans are cherishing the “seeming” demise of Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House, and many are arguing that a Pence in the White House cannot possibly be worse than Trump. While that may be true as far as making blunders, conspiring with hostile governments, insulting America’s allies, and attacking any person or organization that fails to lick Trump’s boots, a Pence presidency will be exactly like a Trump presidency as far as domestic and foreign policy.

Right now there are no small number of assessments by pundits and commenters on the left going batshit crazy over the cruel, barbaric social program cuts in “Trump’s budget” for fiscal year 2018. It is a vile representation of exactly what Trump and Republicans think about the American people, especially children, the elderly, infirm, disabled and poor, but it shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. And for dog’s sake it shouldn’t be attributed to dirty Donald Trump. It is not his budget and if attribution is a such big deal to then get it right and give credit where it belongs or put a sock in it. There are plenty of opportunities to confirm one’s anti-Trump bias, or a reason to rank on the tiny-handed buffoon. It isn’t constructive, or informative, to accredit something to Trump that belongs to the entire Republican Party and its neo-conservative “belief tank;” the teabagger-led Heritage Foundation.

As this author said months ago, all of the proposed cuts, privatization schemes, agency eliminations, healthcare and nutrition cuts in Trump’s budget outline hew closely to a Heritage Foundation blueprint that was published early in the new year; prior to Trump’s sparsely-attended inauguration. If that doesn’t fit the “blame it on Trump” distraction the left is embracing, then the boasts from the Heritage Foundation fawning over “Trump’s budget” should clarify things.

According to the introduction to “an expert assessment” of Trump’s “America’s First Budget” by a bevy of Heritage Foundation “experts” in cruel and unusual punishment:

The Trump administration relied heavily on The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance” to craft some of the ideas included in Trump’s own budget blueprint.”

The Hill reported Heritage Foundation crafted Trump’s budget like they crafted Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” plan over the past few years. So any idea Republicans will rein in their drastic cuts if Trump isn’t in the White House is insane. As a close confidante of the Heritage Foundation and former chair of the RSC, Pence would demand and embrace the harshest cuts possible and it is likely why the inaptly-labeled “Trump budget” contain cuts that Heritage and the RSC know will easily breeze through the Republican-controlled Congress; it doesn’t matter which lying Republican sits in the Oval Office.

Many of the specifically harsh cuts in “Trump’s budget” were part of the 2017 budget adopted by the uber-conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC). The RSC is just as teabagger extreme as the House Freedom Caucus and it is closely affiliated with, and highly praised by, the teabagger-led Heritage Foundation.

In fact, Trump’s current director of the Office of Budget and Management (OMB), former Republican House representative from South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney bragged that he voted for the RSC budget because it was a more conservative alternative to Ayn Rand-inspired House budget Paul Ryan offered up over the past few years.

Now, why this is important is because many Americans are deluded in believing the nation will transform into some kind of socialist paradise if Trump leaves office, whether in handcuffs or in a straight jacket, and Pence becomes president. Pence is more closely tied to the Heritage Foundation than any member of Congress and it would be difficult for anyone to identify any Republican in Congress who does not ‘hew closely’ to the policies, mission or agenda of the Heritage Foundation.

Americans are in this situation because they do not pay attention to the important issues when it matters. Oh they are diligent in focusing on whatever is trending on Twitter or how many times dirty Don plays golf, but they aren’t attentive to why their government and way of life is doomed. At this juncture there isn’t much anyone can do to stop the Republicans, the Koch brothers, evangelical extremists or the Heritage Foundation, but they can start identifying the real source of the impending disaster so maybe by the next decade voters will know it’s not just Trump or any one Republican that’s the problem, it’s the entire conservative movement.

Three Senate Republicans Defect In a Blow To Trump And Koch Brothers

In what was a surprise bit of encouraging news this week while the country was witnessing obstruction of justice in the White House, three Senate Republicans joined Democrats to hand Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, and their fossil fuel cohort what is being called a stunning defeat. It has been well-documented that one of Trump’s major goals was repealing each and every one of President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect the American people, the environment, national security, and to encourage big oil to stop wasting energy. Three Republican Senators stymied Trump’s crusade this week in a victory for the environment and Americans’ well-being.

The Senate was attempting to do Trump’s and the Koch brothers’ bidding in repealing a late Obama-era limit on methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The gift to the fossil fuel industry was blocked due to the “defection” of Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The three Republicans joined Democrats to defeat a barely-passed House resolution in February to “repeal the methane leak rule.” It is difficult to comprehend what kind of cretins would even consider abolishing a rule that prevents a nasty greenhouse gas, and threat to human health, like methane from being deliberately leaked into the atmosphere.

That rule was “issued” last November was an update to a 30-year old regulation meant to “govern” the deliberate leaking and venting of natural gases such as methane. Methane is known to be a particularly “potent greenhouse gas” responsible for contributing to anthropogenic climate change. It is a common energy industry, primarily the fossil fuel industry, practice to “burn off vast supplies of methane gas at drilling sites” because it is not as profitable to sell as oil. The rule specifically targeted drilling sites on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property to prevent “methane waste” that Trump and the oil industry claims is far too strict of a regulation on the poor beleaguered oil industry.

The Senate, like the House, had been assisting Trump, and rewarding the Kochs, in their goal to halt federal oversight of the drilling industry using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to both abolish current regulations and prevent them from ever being implemented in the future. Trump had been on a “repeal” roll since taking office and has signed 13 different CRA resolutions to eliminate President Obama’s environmental regulations. It is noteworthy that prior to Trump’s “scorched Earth” effort to roll back environmental regulations, that 1996 CRA law was only used “just once before Trump” became president. Trump is a dirty hypocrite because he and his Republican cabal complained bitterly and condemned a real President, Barack Obama, for executive overreach in issuing new rules to protect the people and environment.

Republicans, and Trump as well, have touted their fossil fuel deregulatory crusade as a means to American energy independence and an effort to provide Americans with plentiful and cheap fuel for electricity generating plants. However, the amount of methane burned off into the atmosphere each year from drilling operations is more than enough to provide electricity for about three-quarters-of-a-million (740,000) American homes. When the amount of natural gas that is leaked, or burned off, is included, those wasted gases would power about 5 million American homes each year.

The resolution to repeal the limit on toxic gas leaks had incredible support from Senate Republican leadership as well as the Koch brothers’ oil and gas industry. That support included “a six-figure, multimedia advertising campaign that targeted reluctant Republican lawmakers” that have thus far resisted aiding Trump’s childish and moronic denial of climate change. The oil and gas industry had made pressuring the Trump administration to eliminate the BLM rule one of its highest priorities and one they wanted accomplished immediately.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, John Barrasso (R-WY) not only supported the House-passed resolution to “kill the rule,” he appealed to Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to circumvent the normal congressional legislative process and just revoke the methane leak rule unilaterally. But as Reuters has reported, a dictatorial edict by the Interior Secretary would have “involved a laborious bureaucratic process” that would have been “ultimately vulnerable to legal action” from environmental groups and concerned citizens.

The Republican Representative who sponsored the House legislation, Utah Mormon and anti-federal land crusader Rob Bishop is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee who said Republicans in the Senate had “no rational reason not to vote for it.” Earlier this year, Bishop told The Hill on learning that Lindsey Graham was reluctant to support the repeal; “Senator Graham doesn’t live in the West, and doesn’t understand these issues, clearly.” What Senator Graham does understand, unlike a frightening number of Republicans, is that climate change is a real and present danger and any effort to reduce emissions exacerbating it are worthwhile for the sake of the economy, people’s health, the environment and national security.

The issues are not about oil industry gas leaks and Bishop knows it. The issues for Republicans, particularly Utah Republicans, is their outrageous insistence that the federal government has no right to own land it purchased or regulate its use. This is particularly true in Western states like Utah and it was the primary reason for the so-called Bundy Standoff in Nevada.

Senator John McCain, a Republican who does live in and represent constituents in “the West” gave Mormon Rob Bishop a very clear and rational reason why he joined Democrats to shut down the Kochs’ repeal effort. Senator McCain said,

While I am concerned that the BLM rule may be onerous, passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government, under any administration, from ever issuing a rule that is similar.”

While the oil and gas industry and its Republican puppets were demoralized and angry that one of their efforts to increase the damage from climate change was thwarted, environmental groups were pleasantly surprised. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune responded to the Senate vote and said:

Today is a victory for our public lands and for the health of families across America, and a defeat for Donald Trump, corporate polluters, and their friends on Capitol Hill. People across the country will continue to resist and hold Congress and Trump accountable for any efforts to put the profits of polluters before the health of our families and our communities.”

It is likely there won’t be many instances that any Republican will oppose Trump’s, the Koch’s, or their fossil fuel industry cohort’s efforts to wipe out sane regulations to combat climate change, preserve energy, or protect the health and well-being of American citizens. But whatever the reason Senators McCain, Collins, and Graham stood up to Trump, the Kochs, and fossil fuel industry, it is an encouraging sign that there are at least three Republicans who understand that they cannot fulfill their mandate to work for the general welfare of the American people and still pander to the Koch brothers’ oil industry. In this particular instance McCain, Graham and Collins opted to protect the people and in these dark times even one Republican, much less three, opting to serve the people is worth celebrating. It may be a long slog before it ever happens again.

Trump Budget Reveals How the Kochs Will Dismantle the Government

This author has warned, for at least six years, that if Republicans ever gained control of the entire government, that at the behest of their corporate masters the Koch brothers they would begin immediately dismantling the federal government. Trump’s number one counselor, fascist Stephen Bannon, said as much earlier this year when he bragged that the administration’s chief goal in appointing corporate billionaires, perjurers, and religious freaks to Trump’s cabinet, freaks and billionaires nominated by the teabagger-run Heritage Foundation, was to “dismantle the administrative state.” The administrative state is a not-so-subtle code for the United States government.

In Trump’s “proposed” budget for the next fiscal year, a so-called “skinny budget” the Heritage Foundation proposed a month ago, does exactly what the preponderance of Republicans indebted to the Koch brothers support; begin the dismantling of the federal government to satisfy a dream the Koch brothers championed over 30 years ago. Trump’s cohorts didn’t even attempt to hide the fact that the budget came directly from Heritage Foundation and the Kochs because they gave it the same exact name, the skinny budget, as the Heritage Foundation’s proposal last month.

The New York Times reported that Trump will unveil an even “skinnier” budget later in the spring that includes the Koch-Heritage plan to give massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations and dismantle even more of the administrative state. Phase two will assault Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other domestic social program serving the overwhelming majority of the population. However nasty the Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act appears, it is the world’s greatest socialist giveaway compared to what Trump will do to the government and the people it belongs to with the Koch-Heritage budget.

Although it is true the budget outlined this morning has to get past the Koch-Republican Congress, there is little doubt that except for drastic cuts to the Department of State, Koch-aligned Republicans will gleefully aid their funders in dismantling the government agencies that serve the people. Besides funneling tens-of-billions robbed from social programs, education, scientific research, and environmental protections to fund Trump’s “wars America has to start winning,” it will significantly reduce the “non-defense federal workforce” to rapidly kill tens-of-thousands of jobs.

According to the fascists running the executive branch, Trump and Bannon, the “skinny budget” “will reset the process of Washington policy making” from a policy of serving the “general welfare” of the people to a policy that serves the rich and their corporations exclusively, as well as the military industrial complex.

To demonstrate the Trump’s malice towards humanity, besides slashing the Environmental Protection Agency by over a third, there are drastic reductions to the “60-year-old State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters.” It makes sense that an administration promising to win more wars would take drastic measures against any program for peace, or diplomacy – that is the purpose of cutting the State Department budget. Just to show how petty the Trump-Heritage budget is, it completely eliminates the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program because it subsidizes flights to rural airports. It is a signal to the country bumpkins who voted for Trump that his agenda never, never ever, not even once took their needs into consideration and instead takes as much as possible from the people.

For example, Trump is expected demand “a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.” It is a preview of what Trump means by “resetting the process of Washington policy making” that his chief strategist Bannon labeled “deconstructing the administrative state.

As expected, it is the cuts to the EPA that will impact Americans as detrimentally as the GOP’s draconian healthcare plan. And although thousands of Americans won’t die quickly for lack of affordable, or any, healthcare, Americans will die to enrich corporations. The NYT pointed out that as expected, the Koch-Heritage proposed cuts to the EPA “are a magnitude greater even than those envisioned by congressional Republicans, many of whom forcefully oppose the agency’s regulatory agenda.”

As an example, last year the Republican-controlled House spending subcommittee setting the EPA budget proposed reductions that still funded the agency at $8 billion. At the time, the Koch-Republicans in the House only cut $291 million from President Barack Obama’s last requested funding amount for the EPA; not anywhere near the $2.6 billion demanded by Trump. The EPA cuts are so drastic that Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) said he never imagined having to cut the wildly-popular EPA “state grant programs that fund projects like restoring the Great Lakes and cleaning and redeveloping formerly contaminated industrial sites;” a cost that should be borne by the corporations responsible for the contamination like the lead still poisoning the water in and around Flint Michigan.

The NYT is patently wrong in claiming that both the current “skinny budget” and the “skinnier budget” to be unveiled later this Spring demonstrates the level of chaos, inexperience and staffing dysfunction in the Trump White House. Of course, the administration is all those things and so much more, but everything in the current and soon-to-be-released attack on government has been in the works for decades, more likely a generation or two going back to the New Deal. There is nothing chaotic or inexperienced in the Koch brothers’ vision of dismantling the government.

Some Senate Republicans have been critical of the Bannon-Trump proposal to slash funding for the State Department, but because they are so intricately tied, and heavily indebted, to the Koch brothers, there is little doubt they will revel in finally getting to do their part dismantling the federal government they have shown nothing but contempt for. But that makes sense for Republicans and their teabagger-conservatives who hate the government as much as they hate the American people and the U.S. Constitution.