Living Large In Carson City: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming Edition

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans
The end of ev’rything that stands
                    The end   The Doors 

Okay, so I am not as pessimistic as Jim Morrison and his fanciful cohorts of the LA music scene, but I will confess to having a certain number of questions about just what the hell is going on in the country. The pandemic is, of course, skewing reality into totalling uncharted waters with no end in sight. Trump is said to be considering winding down the coronavirus task force while the death toll is inching its way to 80,000 deaths. Now, Axos reports Trump and some senior administration officials are questioning whether those fatality numbers are accurate. They maintain the numbers are smaller while health officials believe the 80,000 deaths is probably much lower than it should be.

Now, America finds out that Trump is not only an inept commander in chief but totally lacks the interest needed to do his job. Who’s in charge one might ask? Knowing the president’s lack of trust in anyone but his closely knit family, the obvious choice (and one not too surprising) is son-in-law Jared Kushner. In an article in GQ titled “Jared Kushner Is the “De Facto President of the United States”, Luke Darby quoted Gabriel Sherman  from a story for Vanity Fair  who stated, 

“Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States,” a former White House official told me. The previous chief of staff John Kelly, who’d marginalized Kushner, was long gone, and Mick Mulvaney, a virtual lame duck by that point, let Kushner run free. “Jared treats Mick like the help,” a prominent Republican said. GQ

Kushner was the guy who was going to bring peace to the Middle East and took up the mantel as savior of America from the pandemic crisis. Neither happened. On peace in the Middle East, he was widely criticized as little more than a dilettante with no experience and few ideas. The extent of his mishandling of the virus supply chain is still being investigated, but it is safe to say that his cadre of frat boy gofers at his leadership bungled everything while helping out people who Kushner favored. Did anyone vote for Kushner for president?

Recently, Trump barred Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases from testifying before House panels investigating the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic saying, “The House is set up. The House is a bunch of Trump Haters.” Instead, Fauci will testify in the more friendly Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Trump went on to say no corona task force members will appear before the House without the permission of newly installed House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Considering the Constitution sets up the House as one of the important oversight entities that is meant to rein in out of control executive branch actions, it begs the question, “Who will?” Mitch McConnell? I don’t think so.

Today, word came that Fauci and two other prominent doctors from the coronavirus task force have been exposed to someone who had the virus and will be in self quarantine for the next two weeks. Yesterday, the administration revealed that Stephen Millers wife has been tested positive for the virus. This is important because she is the vice president’s press secretary.  Also, one of Trump’s valets also tested positive. Part of his duties was serving the president his meals. So, now, the virus has entered the inner sanctum of the White House, a virus that Trump said would magically go away with a few days back at the beginning. California marks week eight of the original stay at home order. And so it goes.

Trump’s earlier call to shut down the coronavirus task force received such a public outcry that Trump saw a chance to use its popularity and now says the task force will transform into guiding the nation back to work. Germany, South Korea and China have what appears to be a second wave of confirmed cases of the virus as they too have tried to reopen their economy. It would be nice to have someone in the president’s chair who did not cater to the forces of capitalism and big corporation that are surely going to make things worse, but rather, listens to health experts and what can be see as proof rather than speculation.

The one thing that is becoming clearer as each day passes is that the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic has been bungled from the get go. His inability to grasp the seriousness of the problem has been breathtaking. His administration is made up of mindless sycophants who’s only motive is to keep their jobs. This means, of course, kowtowing to Trump’s every whim and not asking the hard questions or give accurate scientifically based information that would help mitigate the pandemic to some degree.

And that’s not all. Attorney Bill Barr took the unprecedented step Friday to throw out the case against Michael Flynn. Flynn admitted not once, but twice that he had lied the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials before withdrawing his pleas. If there was any doubt that Barr is an evil force in the administration, there is little doubt now that he is the head asskisser in support of Trump and the politicalization of the Justice Department. In a story in USAToday written by Savannah Berhmann titled “Michael Flynn: What we know about Trump’s former national security adviser”, Behrmann quotes Rep. Adam Schiff from California as saying,

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, said the Flynn decision “does not exonerate” Flynn and rather “incriminates” Attorney General William Barr, adding that this is “the worst politicization of the Justice Department in its history.” USAToday

Finally, in an effort to reframe the news as his polling numbers plummet, Trump and his minions are pushing the false narrative that China developed the coronavirus in a lab. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is so outfront with this lie that world leaders and his own staff are angry and upset that an official of his stature would would be party to spreading a demonstrably false narrative. Leaders around the world seem to have their feet more firmly planted on the ground than the yahoo leader of the State Department. At a time when cooperation, not false controversy, should be the goal of all world leaders, Trump seems to see his reelection prospects more important than making “big boy” decisions for the good of, not only America, but the world. But we already knew that. Maybe Morrison and the Doors were on to something.

Wacko of the week

In First Briefing, Trump’s Press Secretary Pledges Not to Lie 

 

Living Large In Carson City: Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave Edition

“Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.” Trump’s Basket of Deplorables chant

How can anyone forget Trump’s campaign slogan “Lock her up” in response to his charges that Hillary Clinton, despite no evidence, should be locked up for any number of sundry charges. It’s a theme he returns to daily. He either wants to lock people up or believes they are guilty of illegal acts against the nation, or more importantly, himself. Over the past few years, Trump has called for incarceration or claimed people were criminals  including President Obama, Attorney Generals under Obama, Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, James Clapper, retired Air Force general and Director of National Intelligence, FBI Director and Assistant Director, Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe, former president Bill Clinton,  former White House Chief of Staff, John Podesta, mild mannered cable news talking head, Steve Rattner, flag burners, former FBI agent, Peter Strzok, former Secretary of State, John Kerry, and my personal favorite Snoop Dogg. And this is just a partial list.

Really, the only person in America Trump doesn’t want to put in the slammer is himself or his personal family. Everyone else seems to be fair game or at least suspect in the Orange One’s mind. So, it’s evident to anyone paying attention that our president is a real law and order kind of guy. It’s just that he defines law and order in a rather peculiar manner. Amid the constant parroting of “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction”, the House, under the control of the Democrats, started subpoenaing all manner of information from the White House from financial records to direct subpoenas to individuals in the Trump orbit. For instance, the House Oversight Committee led by Elijah Cummings would like to know how Ivanka and Jared and 25 others who failed their security background checks still received top secret clearances. Cummings said,

“The Committee respects the President’s authority to grant security clearances,” Cummings writes in the letter. “However, the White House must respect Congress’ co-equal and independent authority to investigate who has been given access to our nation’s secrets, how they obtained that access, the extent to which national security has been compromised, and whether Congress should amend current laws to improve national security and enhance transparency over these decisions.” Vox

Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is a ground zero of the subpoena drive controversy and has pledged to pursue any ignored or dismissed subpoena that interferes with the House’s oversight of the Executive Branch. His committee will interview Attorney General Bob Barr twice this week. Today, he was grilled by the committee but has balked at Thursday’s hearing if he has to be subjected to questions from committee staff members. Huh? A question is a question regardless of where it comes from in the hearing room. And it is not unprecedented for staff to question people brought before the committee. Remember when Republicans in the Senate refused to question Dr. Christine Ford over her allegations that “I LIKE BEER” Brett Kavanaugh had sexually molested her in high school? They brought in an unbiased lawyer (staff) to do the questioning for them. Nadler has vowed to subpoena Barr if he refuses to appear.

The real problem, of course, is Trump. The Financial Services Committee led by Maxine Waters issued subpoenas to Capital One and Deutsche Bank seeking to get access to Trump’s financial records. Trump, in turn, filed suit in court to keep the records out of the hands of Congress citing privacy matters. Today, in the first court hearing, the presiding judge threw the case out of the court and said Congress has the right to pursue oversight in these matters. Waters and Adam Schiff weren’t fooled,

In a joint statement, Chairwoman Maxine Waters of the Financial Services Committee and Chairman Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee said the suit was “only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.” NPR

Now, Trump is actively campaigning to keep anyone on his staff or family members from appearing before any of the House committees and has instructed them to ignore any call from Congress to appear before the committees, even if subpoenaed. Congress is having none of it. Fines, censure, and even arrest are all on the table and committee chairs have finally grown a pair and vow to use any means necessary to carry out their sworn duties to the American people.

Of course, this begs the question, “What does Trump fear? What does he have to hide?” Well, obviously, a lot if his conduct after becoming president is any indication. Yet, Trump continues to thumb his nose at the country, law makers, Congress, the court system, and the rule of law. Joshua Holland wrote in The Nation magazine that,

Even the redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report is effectively an impeachment referral. His team found that eight of the 10 acts of apparent obstruction of justice they looked at satisfied the Justice Department’s three criteria for charging someone with a crime. The special counsel didn’t do so because he was bound by a Department of Justice legal opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and Mueller made it clear that it is properly the role of Congress, not the executive branch, to rein in a corrupt and lawless president. The Nation

This all boils down to business as usual in Trump world. The House leaders are reluctant to throw down the impeachment accusations and for good reasons. In some ways they are right. Without the will of the American people and the Senate willing to give impeachment a fair shot, the process would end in a stalemate with the shameless Republicans selling out what’s left of their puny, cancerous souls to protect their seats and not rile up the bogeyman Trump. Up until today, I agreed with them.

Now, I am wondering if it’s not time to hold these scoff laws responsible for their actions which are literally ripping apart the American Constitution to give sway to an incompetent man child who is dirty as just about any politician who has ever walked the face of the earth, well, America for sure. If things continue on the course they are on, impeachment might be just the ticket to wake up Americans who live in a fantasy world that everything is hunk dory. It’s not, and if it takes putting the Trump White House on trial, so be it. The upshot would be that more Americans would know the truth, because lets face it, Trump is a dirty motherfucker and has to be held responsible like everyone else in the country. The Republicans would also be  shown to be the corrupt disingenuous hacks that they are. It’s a given that the Republicans have lost their moral compass and can no longer be depended upon to do what’s ethical or right.

In the end Trump is signaling with his actions that there is a lot he wants kept under seal. The fate of his children, his fantasy lifestyle, and his freedom hangs in the sway. Would America be able to withstand the backlash? Who knows. The real question is can America continue on this path with a corrupt clown at the helm and survive. It’s getting close to the time we may have to find out.

 

Living Large In Carson City: Of Libturds, demented Democrats and Go Butt A Stump Radicals Edition

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Okay, I confess. Sometimes when I get tired of picking fuzz out of my navel, I go on conservative websites and spar with the jolly good people who inhabit that darkly, sinister, conspiracy world. Don’t get me wrong, I usually have a reason for doing such a hollow and unsatisfying endeavor, but normally my actions are prompted by an article or image that I run across that gets my hackles up, and I can’t stop myself.

Today, it was on the conservative website American Update. By chance, a couple of weeks ago, I came across this site and on a whim signed up for their newsletter. I know; I’m a glutton for punishment, but really, I felt like I was living in a liberal bubble where everyone agreed with me. I decided in the spirit of expanding my understanding of the issues I should hear what some of the opposition has to say. Honestly, I didn’t understand Trump supporters, and what they professed. It ain’t pretty.

The story that caught my attention came from American Update with the headline Meghan McCain Slams Roseanne and Trump Fans in One Swift Blow. Now, you would think that the discussion would take into consideration Barr’s ugly racist tweet she made a few weeks ago, and the discussion would center around the fact that in a polite society one takes a civil approach to debate on the merits of the topic. Think again.

One post stated that Meghan and John were not really Republicans and neither should claim they are part of the Republican Party. The post went on to say that John was irrelevant and did not speak for the righteous of the Republican Party and hoped that John would soon be six feet under.

Not quite the civil discourse I expected, but hey, this is America and everybody has their First Amendment rights, yes? This post came at the beginning of the queue and marked the spot were things went south . . . way south. Soon, the tenor of the debate went full metal jacket with most of the respondents calling the McCains RHINOs and painting them, especially John, as a traitor and a “songbird”, a term I assumes comes from the fact McCain confessed to high crimes while being tortured by his Vietnamese jailers.

To be clear, I have never had much love or affinity for McCain, but the spewing of hatred and derision for him as he faces an agonizing  death shocked me. I never served in the military, but my dad, my father-in-law, and even my brother did, and I have a naive belief if someone gave up time in their life to protect our national interests their service qualifies them as heroes in my book. Okay, so Vietnam was not exactly our country’s high water mark ethically, but it still qualifies. I think for me McCain became a hero when he gave a thumbs down on the floor of the Senate in a bitch slap to Trump and his harebrained scheme of the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare.

As you might expect, I was the only liberal posting today, and I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know. One woman wanted to know if I had been smoking “that stuff” and ended by calling me “the blind one”.  Later in the thread, she called me “backward” and that I should “go butt a stump”. For all of its incomprehensibility, I kind of liked the idea although I am still not sure if she knows I am not a goat. Maybe goats and liberals are the same in the world of the Tea Party. Another post accused me of spewing liberal propaganda which demonstrated my lack of intelligence. Irony is wasted on these people.

My favorite beyond being called a libturd, anti-American and a demented Democrat was this jewel, “Go smoke your blunt you hype. Or a pole if you’d like.” I would have loved to have had that one explained to me, but by this time, the gig was up and most of the respondents simply questioned my sanity or equated my existence to the spawn of Satan. One poster said he served in the Navy and met many Navy pilots who he deeply respected, “. . . more so than another disgusting whiny pontificating liberal that “claims” to know about members of the Republican Party.”

True, but I have to say, I know a lot more about the Republican Party now than I did this morning. The vitriol and hatred that permeates the responses was frankly quite shocking. The tenor of most posts was vile and ruthless in their condemnation of McCain and his daughter. To her credit, I think Meghan was referring to the “basket of deplorables” that Clinton pointed to in the run up to the election. It’s alive.

This is the real issue about American politics today. We are so polarized that parts of the Republican Party are so disassociated with reality that they actually believe that Trump is good for America, and he is making America great again. In a fit of false “patriotism” , they are willing to overlook the Orange One’s kowtowing to Putin and the Russians and think it is a good thing. I wonder what they will say if and when Mueller reveals Trump colluded with the Russians to tweak the election results. Or that his financial statements link him to the Mafia, Russian oligarchs and/or money laundering or any number of other counts of larceny, deceit, philandering, or collusion. I worry about this. From the vile statements posted on conservative websites, I do not think these people will go quietly into the night.

The idea that the Republican Party is representative of all America is hard for me to believe. If there are respectable Republicans out there, they have their work cut out for them. The Tea Party movement and the Freedom Caucus seem hell bent on destroying this nation, or maybe, remaking it in their own image to assuage their angst and fear of losing their white privilege. They tend to cherry pick the Constitution to fit their current bitch about what they think is wrong for America. I fear that if Mueller does come back with illegal acts and/or condemnation of Trump in some form these people aren’t going to take it lying down. That would certainly be the constitutional crisis so many believe is coming.

Living Large In Carson City: America Ain’t Got Time For That Edition

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This week has been a little frustrating, but fulfilling, as the week unfolded. We had guests who took up most of my waking hours. Consequently, I had to stand back and watch all manner of events, scandals, faux pas’, and the general chaos that our federal government has become under Donald Trump swagger by without comment. Still, I wanted to get something down on record, so I’ve selected several over the top stories that I just cannot let go of in light of their absurdity and poignancy they hold for the American people.

The first story was a Trump Tweet about the Santa Fe High School shooting on Friday. Just north of Galveston, Santa Fe could not be more in Trump’s radar if it was an entrant in the misogynistic Miss America contest. This is after all Trump country. The orange one Tweeted:

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and do everything we can to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said during an event at the White House. “Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe.”

Yeah? How is that working out for you Donald? After the Parkland, Florida massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you first seemed to stand up against the National Rifle Association while it was politically correct to do so. It didn’t take long for the NRA powers to yank your chain, and you flipflopped. The most you could come up with was to back the idiotic idea of training and arming school teachers as if they would be able to stop a crazed gunman when trained law enforcement officers could not.

He ends with this placid non-statement:

“We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack,” he said. “To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High, we are with you at this tragic hour and we will be with you forever.”

The most redeeming element of this statement is that he didn’t send prayers for their pain and suffering. This man is the king of the sterilized comments which do little if anything to comfort or promote healing during these radically charged emotional times.

Red more here

Then there was that crazy guy white guy Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Alabama). Okay, no one ever accused Brooks of being the brightest bulb in the basket when it comes to climate change, but the shining light of Alabama’s 5th Congressional district truly out did himself this week. If Bill Nye is the Science Guy, Brooks is the Stone Age Guy.

Here is his contribution to solving the climate change crisis and rising sea levels that the world faces:

‘“Brooks then said that erosion plays a significant role in sea-level rise, which is not an idea embraced by mainstream climate researchers. He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.

“Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks said.

(Moderator) Duffy responded: “I’m pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects.”’

The Daily Kos’ blog writer, Hunter, posited that Brooks should also look into boats and whales and how they also displace water, so they too could be a factor. Or most controversial, the Earth is shrinking and is to blame for the sea’s rise around the world. I am fairly certain Hunter was being rhetorical or maybe tongue in cheek. No one, after all, would belittle the august Congressman with trifle comments when his “rock theory” is so well constructed.

Read more here

The question I have on this next story and one all of America is asking: Is Rudy Giualiani high? It would be cruel and unwarranted to simply call Rudy an idiot. Yet, some of the things that comes out of his mouth are truly suspect. Pundits believe that Rudy was a great mayor and possibly a brilliant lawyer at one time, but one has to question why he seems to not understand the underlying issues that are swirling around Donald Trump’s White House these days. The foundation of the United States Constitution places everyone, lying, unscrupulous politicians as well, on an equal footing. Just because someone becomes president does not lift them above the masses and the rule of law. Here Rudy banters with Chris Cuomo on the elite nature of the American presidency, or at least in his mind.

GIULIANI: The president has complete discretion to fire anybody he wants.

CUOMO: What about corrupt intent?

GIULIANI: Doesn’t apply.

CUOMO: Why not?

GIULIANI: There’s no evidence of that.

CUOMO: You don’t think a president can obstruct justice?

GIULIANI: He can. But I think in the case of firing a subordinate who’s going to be replaced by somebody else on an acting basis immediately —

CUOMO: But it’s why you fired them. Corrupt intent. It’s part of the legal analysis.

GIULIANI: It doesn’t matter if in fact it can’t result in anything. The investigation continued. The investigation expanded.

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And just for the fun of it, get a heaping helping of Giuliani metaphorically stomping his foot like a three-year-old child with their feelings hurt.

As Cuomo played the clip, an angered Giuliani screamed, “That’s really unfair. What you’re doing right now is extremely unfair. It’s the reason people don’t come on this show.

Uh, Rudy, you are on the show. See the earlier question about the possibility of his being high.

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Then there is this from the bigoted Hobby Lobby saga that simply won’t go away. Enter Brian Spurlock who returned a circuit cutter to Hobby Lobby for his girlfriend. Armed with the cutter, sales slip and original packaging, Spurlock set about his errand with little more to worry about other than having to deal with the often tediousness task of returning merchandise to a chain store. The first clerk he encountered asked him to step out of line while the clerk went to clear the transaction with his manager.  Here is what happened next:

The cashier returned to Spurlock and told him the manager was calling the store’s corporate office, as if Hobby Lobby has a staff of operators on standby waiting to approve trinket returns. The manager asked Spurlock to step aside and wait while she called Hobby Lobby’s Cricut Emergency Return Squad.

The manager called the police instead. According to the police, the manager thought Spurlock looked like someone who had been returning stolen items to their store.

The police arrived and asked Spurlock for his identification papers. Spurlock was still in the dark thinking checking ID was normal procedure. The cop ran his ID and found nothing. He returned and told Spurlock when he got his refund to immediately leave the store, or he would be charged with trespassing. Huh? Another article stated that Hobby Lobby also accused Spurlock of talking to loudly outside the store.

So, in the course of a few minutes, a seemingly upstanding customer was accused of being “someone” who looked like a mysterious person who returned stolen goods for money, trespassing and finally talking too loud in the parking lot.

The one offense left out of the equation was “returning merchandise while black”. This is one of the most disturbing trends in America today; white people so afraid of anyone that isn’t like them calling the police for no reason but to intimidate and harass people only for the color of their skin.

The Hobby Lobby manager’s response to Spurlock query on why the police were called?

 “We were only following orders from our upper management.”

Disgusting.

Read More

Living Large in Carson City: The Nattering Nabobs of the EPA Edition

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Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth. Ludwig Borne

When Trump named Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), I like most environmentally conscious people felt a wave of nausea sweep over me. Far from a Trump supporter, he backed Jeb Bush up to 2016 until is timely demise in the presidential primary, and said things like Trump was an

“empty vessel when it comes to things like the Constitution and rule of law,” CNN reported Monday.

Not a resounding show of support by Pruitt for the Orange One who would be king. Why would Trump tap a detractor like Pruitt for one of the most sensitive positions in his nascent administration? The answer speaks volumes about both men. Trump, who has shown over and over again, his lack of ethics and shyness towards transparency while demonstrating a vociferous drive to win at all costs, simply turned the other cheek.  Pruitt represented a juicy hunk of red meat on the hoof for his shortsighted and equally environmentally tone-deaf basket of deplorable constituency.

Pruitt, who is from Oklahoma, was exactly what Trump wanted in an EPA director to dismantle the gains the Obama administration made on regulating businesses and corporations and improving the environment. As the Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times during his tenure in an attempt to derail Obama’s progress in addressing the causes and concerns of climate change. Name any mainstream stance on the environment and Pruitt comes down solidly in the opposition.

Climate change? He refuses to link CO2 emissions to global warming and has been one of the most vocal climate change deniers on record. His 14 law suits against the EPA were a heavy-handed attempt to block implementation of Obama’s progressive EPA rules. Oklahoma under Pruitt’s reign as attorney general joined a dozen other states in trying to block the Clean Power Plan which was intended to reduce CO2 emissions by monitoring U.S. power plants.

His other “interests” included promoting mandatory ultrasounds for pregnant women, promising to sue the federal government for “expenses” incurred from immigration and on and on. Frankly, Pruitt comes across as a political troglodyte with little concern for his often- outlandish stances on all things political and environmental. Is it any wonder Trump felt comfortable in overlooking Pruitt’s past indiscretions that may have been hostile to Trump becoming president?

Of course, Pruitt’s ethics are as incomprehensible as his stances on the environment.  His security detail he maintains he needs is burning through its budget faster than one can say acid rain. In the past, as today, his association with the fossil fuel industry is the thing that Republican’s wet dreams are made of. His penchant for luxury pampering is monumental. His frequent first-class flights home to Tulsa are costing taxpayers a lot of money. A $43,000 soundproof telephone booth, $50 dollar a night rent for a bedroom in a luxury Washington condo owned by a lobbyist (shared with his daughter), and demands for his drivers to illegally turn on the limo’s sirens and lights to bypass traffic are just a few of the 23 ethic violations he has to justify in the coming months. The man is just wacky.

So, what America faces under Pruitt as head of the EPA is an environmental disaster in the making. Given his checkered past and current egomania, there seems to be little to do but bury our heads in the sand and hope the mid-terms give Democrats back control of the Congress.  Or is it?

In an article in Politico titled

The Myth of Scott Pruitt’s EPA Rollback

His ethics woes are overshadowing the central fact of his tenure: He hasn’t done much.

 By MICHAEL GRUNWALD April 07, 2018

tells a different story. First off, when implementing laws related to the environment and how they affect industry, it is an incredibly burdensome. It’s the same incredibly difficult task when trying to reverse them.

But Pruitt did not kill or roll back Obama’s strict fuel-efficiency standards; he merely announced his intention to launch a process that could eventually weaken them. In fact, Pruitt has not yet killed or rolled back any significant regulations that were in place when President Donald Trump took office. While Pruitt is often hailed (or attacked) as Trump’s most effective (or destructive) deregulatory warrior, the recent spotlight on his ethics—allegations of a sweetheart housing deal; pay raises for favored aides; lavish spending on travel, furniture and security; and retaliation against underlings who questioned him—has arguably overshadowed his lack of regulatory rollbacks during his first 15 months in Washington. The truth is that Scott Pruitt has done a lot less to dismantle the EPA than he—or his critics—would have you believe.

Say what? No one could believe one of Trump’s most loyal foot soldiers could be pulling the wool over the American public’s eyes, especially those that are loyal to the president and his outlandish policies. Right, and I have some ocean front property in Arizona I will sell you at a small fraction of the national budget.

Pruitt’s problem is that major federal regulations are extremely difficult and time-consuming to enact, and just as difficult and time-consuming to reverse. The rulemaking process can take years of technical and administrative work that Pruitt and his team have not yet had time to do. And even if Pruitt manages to keep his job long enough to complete that process for any of his efforts to weaken clean-air and clean-water rules, the EPA will inevitably face years of litigation over each one. The old saying that it’s easier to tear down a barn than to build one does not really apply to rules limiting pollutants like ozone, coal ash, mercury and methane.

“The regulatory apparatus is like a super-tanker; it can take a long time to turn around,” says Washington appellate lawyer David Rivkin, who represented Pruitt in several of Oklahoma’s challenges to Obama-era EPA rules. “If you want durable results, you can’t be sloppy or rushed.”

What Pruitt has been able to do is put on hold the Obama era rules and policies that have not been implemented yet. The ones that are in place are subject to the above legal mine fields before they could even be repealed. Granted, this isn’t the best-case scenario, but the knowledge that there is a smoke screen surrounding Pruitt’s alleged whacking away at EPA rules is a bit comforting.

“You can’t just govern by press release. You have to do the hard work of developing a rule that can withstand judicial scrutiny, even though it isn’t sexy,” says State Energy & Environmental Impact Center director David Hayes, an Interior Department official in the Clinton and Obama administrations. “Pruitt hasn’t been willing to do that, and that’s why he isn’t really having much of an impact.”

What we know is that Pruitt’s “successes” are much like Donald Trump’s successes, illusions at best. and outright lies at their worst.

Living Large in Carson City: How Do We Tell if She’s Lying? If Her Mouth Is Open, She’s Lying Edition

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Betsy DeVos on guns, school choice and why people don’t like her

The secretary of education has been one of the most criticized members of President Trump’s Cabinet, but DeVos says she’s “more misunderstood than anything”

Full Video

See Update at bottom

It’s almost too easy to rehash anything Betsy DeVos says in public. She is notoriously uninformed on important issues under her considerable influence as Trump’s hand-picked Secretary of Education. Her confirmation hearing (which is discussed in this Leslie Stahl 60 Minutes interview) was a nightmare; one in which DeVos stated,

At her bruising confirmation hearing, she was grilled about her wealth and lack of experience. She’s been an advocate, not an educator.

Lesley Stahl: What happened there?

Betsy DeVos: I’ve not had a root canal, but I can imagine that a root canal might be more pleasant than that was.

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine all plumbed the depth of DeVos’ lack of understanding on the topic of education in, at times, excruciating detail. DeVos, as stated above, has been an advocate, not an educator, for primarily one topic: funding charter schools by diverting funds from public schools into the private sector. It’s no wonder she has become the darling of the conservative right and wacko evangelicals who have for decades chomped at the bit in the hope of getting their hand on the huge budget of the federal education department to fund parochial, charter and private schools.

On the surface, one has to ask, “What could go wrong?”. Well, as it turns out, a lot. DeVos under Kaine’s pointed questioning would not take a stand on the most elementary of questions about protecting children and their right to a decent and equitable education. Public schools have been striving to do this for centuries. Throwing for profit school systems in the mix is an open invitation for graft, inequality and a whole host of other ills that would come up depending on the organization running the schools. Kiss separation of church and state goodbye. Americans have seen the horrors of for pay prisons and for pay colleges (Trump University comes to mind). These are the outcomes of what DeVos has spent her lifetime promoting.

The reason Betsy DeVos wanted to be secretary of education was so she could promote school choice, offering parents options other than traditional public schools – where 90 percent of kids go. She has proposed massive cuts in public education funding and wants to shift billions to alternative players like private, parochial and charter schools.

Betsy DeVos: We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level And we have seen zero results.

Lesley Stahl: But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing’s been accomplished?

Betsy DeVos: Well actually, test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up. And we have continued to be middle of the pack at best. That’s just not acceptable.

On guns in schools, DeVos is characteristically evasive. While seemingly supporting arming some teachers, she is adamant that she couldn’t see her own first grade teacher locked and loaded and ready to take on the next mass shooter to enter a school. She did little more than kick the can down the road by laying the final choice to local and state governments. She also told Stahl that she has been tapped to head up a commission to look into what states are doing to address the issue of guns and schools, again, kicking the can down the road and not presenting a coherent game plan to combat the all too frequent events like what happened in Florida recently.

Finally, DeVos takes up the issue of federal overreach in the way the government has addressed educating American school children. Overreach to DeVos and her ilk means rolling back federal regulations (many from Obama’s terms) that do not sit well with her conservative, privileged view on how to educate young folk. Of course, it has been borne out over and over again that DeVos is clueless when it comes to how public education works in this country considering she nor her children ever attended a public school, borrowed money from the government to pay for higher education or any of the other messy machinations of a public-school education.

The over-arching impression that DeVos exudes is that of a slick con woman who is all good tidings and a smile for every issue she faces, whether it works or not. It’s like Con Woman 101, or more to the point, playing the part of the willful, concerned and caring plutocrat to the unwashed and unconnected public is in some way going to charm the masses into allowing her to have her way. It is a toss up at this point. Like the environment, the economy, the public lands issue or the fossil fuel debate, not everything will come to fruition no matter how Trump and his minions try to make it so. Unfortunately, on education, anything DeVos accomplishes hurts the children of America in a direct and serious manner. On this topic, above all others, the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. Yet, education is the one topic that the Republicans know they must control. An educated electorate won’t put up with their bullshit.

Update

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21 Reasons People Hate, Hate, HATE Betsy DeVos

She is deeply unpopular, but not because she’s misunderstood. It’s actually the opposite of that. People know exactly who she is.

Read the entire story here. This is the list:

Why People Hate Betsy DeVos:

1) She didn’t earn her position as Education SecretaryShe bought it. And even then it took a tie breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence to shove her down our throats.

2) She wants to spend tax dollars to boost privatized schools in which she has a financial stake.

3) She doesn’t mind taking funding away from public schools to do it.

4) She wants to destroy the entire system of public schools which enroll 90% of America’s children.

5) She doesn’t really know what public schools are, having never attended one or having never sent her children or grandchildren to one.

6) She wants to arm teachers not because it will protect kids from school shooters, but because that boosts her family’s investment portfolio. (i.e. her brother’s mercenary army for hire, Blackwater)

7) She won’t make charter and voucher schools give the same services to special education kids as those provided by traditional public schools.

8) She’s getting rid of students’ civil rights protections while adding protections for nefarious student loan providers and fly-by-night on-line schools.

9) She’s rescinded rules that protected trans students.

10) She’s considering rescinding rules that protect minority students from being unfairly and disproportionately disciplined by schools.

11) She’s made it harder for victims of sexual assault and harassment to report abuse and easier for those accused to avoid prosecution.

12) She talks about state’s rights to determine their own education systems while using the power of the federal government to coerce them to doing things her way.

13) She wastes public tax dollars. She is the only Cabinet member protected by Federal Marshals, which costs us nearly $1 million a month. Whether this is necessary or not, as a billionaire she could save the taxpayers money by taking on this cost, herself.

14) She doesn’t care if the public doesn’t want her at their school or event. She goes anyway and then pretends to be angry that protestors showed up. She doesn’t seem to understand that as a public servant she should serve at our pleasure – not the other way around.

15) She uses tragedy as a photo-op – as she did when she visited the Parkland school to promote arming teachers. She didn’t meet significantly with students or staff. She didn’t listen to their concerns. She even bailed on her own press conference there when the queries weren’t to her liking.

16) She has no problem whitewashing black history as she did when she claimed historic black colleges were pioneers of school choice. In reality they had no choice. For many African Americans at the time, it was create black colleges or forgo post-secondary education at all.

17) She is ignorant (purposefully or not) of the results of her own policies. Her advocacy of school choice in her home state of Michigan has weakened that state’s public schools, not strengthened them.

18) She’s out of touch with average Americans. She’s the richest member of Trump’s cabinet and often travels in her on super luxury yacht.

19) She’s rich not because she earned it, but because she was born into it and married into even more wealth. Moreover, much of her wealth is due to her family’s Amway fortune – basically it’s founded on rooking average people out of their hard earned money with what’s essentially a pyramid scheme.

20) She’s arrogant. She smiles vacantly at topics that don’t deserve a smile – they deserve serious regard.

21) She is extremely biased and partisan. She is supposed to serve the public interest, but her radical Christian Fundamentalism and anti-LGBT activism make her untrustworthy to serve in that capacity. Statements such as “There is enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education… Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom,” do not help.

Okay. That’s all I can think of – though more may pop into mind as soon as I publish this. If I missed something please include it in the comments.

Hopefully this answers DeVos’ question about why she’s hated.