Archive

December 22nd

Mainstream Republicans think they're in control

    Mainstream Republicans are buoyed by Donald Trump's appointments so far, convinced that strategically positioned top officials can freeze out those they consider extremists.

    On domestic issues, establishment congressional conservatives believe that an alliance of Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus will encourage the Trump administration to push a conventional Republican agenda. They also are counting on support from Trump's oldest daughter, Ivanka. The loser, in this view, will be top White House counselor Steve Bannon, a champion of white nationalists and the populist right.

    On national security, the betting is that Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis, a retired general, will join forces with Trump's choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon-Mobil, to outmanuever the designated national security adviser, retired General Mike Flynn. Flynn has drawn criticism for calling Islam "a political ideology" and ex-colleagues have said they are worried about his volatile temperament.

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How Trump is paving the way for a revival of the 'religious left'

    On Election Day, much was made of exit polls that showed 80 percent of white evangelicals backing Republican Donald Trump, a sometimes vulgar, twice-divorced candidate who could not name his favorite Bible verse and once bragged about sexual assault. The result seemed inexplicable, and political analysts are now questioning the theological credibility of right-wing Christian leaders who embraced Trump, with some high-profile religious conservatives decrying such support as hypocritical at best, heretical at worst.

    But as some members of the religious right wrestle with how to reclaim their moral authority, another group is quietly beginning to rise. Progressive, faith-rooted advocacy organizations, such as Faith in Public Life, Auburn Seminary and Sojourners, have all reported surges in donations and interest in activism since November, and are now organizing to counter any number of Trump's policy proposals. Meanwhile, progressive Christians long absent from Sunday worship are returning to church in droves.

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From Obama's EPA to Trump's PPA

    Kathleen Stama sounded like the cat that had just dined on filet de canary.

    She told the Denver Post that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is a great choice to run the EPA, as he understands that "centralized government is not the best way to protect the environment."

    Stama is all about protecting the environment. Except when she is spokesperson for the Western Energy Alliance, which is all about drilling for oil and mining coal.

    In office, Scott Pruitt has been just as willing a servant of industry, and just as concerned about the environment. He's fought the EPA at every turn, in fact.

    Sure, local control is the best way to protect the environment. After all, every state is apportioned its own air, right? When every state does what's best for the air, then all states will have clean air, right?

    Right.

    In other words, rename the agency Stama, and President-elect Trump, envision. What once was the EPA would be the PPA – Polluter Protection Administration.

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For Mitt Romney, Dinner and a Kiss-Off

    Farewell, Mitt Romney, farewell.

    Romney, who once spent nearly a decade being rejected by the American electorate, got the heave-ho from Donald Trump this week — passed over for the secretary of state nomination in favor of an oil executive who is great pals with Vladimir Putin.

    It is, of course, extremely fashionable in Trump’s Washington to be great pals with Vladimir Putin. Also to be a general or a climate change denier. Romney was always suspicious of Russia, never served in the military, and although he came up with multiple positions on the environment over the years, he would still have been one of the only Trump nominees to have sporadically held an opinion that the globe was warming.

    It’s not like the list of appointees doesn’t have variety. Rick Perry once competed in “Dancing With the Stars.” Linda McMahon, the new head of the Small Business Administration, is probably the only one who’s performed in a professional wrestling competition. McMahon is among the highest-ranking female nominees.

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'Fake News' Not A Strong Enough Term For Genuine Insanity

    "How fading and insipid do all objects accost us that are not conveyed in the vehicle of delusion." -- Jonathan Swift, "A Digression Concerning ... the Use and Improvement of Madness in a Commonwealth," 1704

    Americans have always thought of themselves as a practical, commonsensical people, a nation of Thomas Edisons and Henry Fords. (Never mind that industrial genius Ford was also a political crank whose treatise "The International Jew" influenced Nazi race theory.) In reality, we've always been a nation of easy marks. As H.L. Mencken wrote: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

    Anybody glib and shameless enough can sell Americans damn near anything. Very few faith-healers, astrologers, crackpot diet enthusiasts, peddlers of love potions, self-anointed prophets and messiahs -- not to mention political mountebanks and conspiracy theorists -- have ever lacked for a large and credulous audience.

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Donald Trump is threatening to wreck our democracy. Blame the Republicans who are looking the other way.

    The events we've seen in the run-up to the inauguration of Donald Trump have only confirmed that he represents a threat to our democracy and governing norms in multiple unprecedented ways. But this isn't just a story about Donald Trump. It's also a story about congressional Republicans.

    Trump is doing all he can to discredit the apparent CIA conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in our election, which might make a true accounting of this apparently unprecedented assault on our democracy harder. He continues to suggest he will do little to address all the potential conflicts of interests -- and possibility of corruption -- that are developing around his global business interests on a mind-boggling scale. He continues to claim -- after the election -- that millions voted illegally, to sow confusion and doubt about the real meaning of the outcome and the integrity of our political process.

    Yet there are steps congressional Republicans could take to mitigate the damage of those things, but aren't:

 

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Why I'm trying to preserve federal climate data before Trump takes office

    When it comes to climate science, President-elect Donald Trump has been a purveyor of conspiracy theories for years. He's called human-caused climate change a Chinese hoax and refused to acknowledge the existence of the California drought, promising farmers there that, as president, he would "open up the water." He's vowed to eliminate the EPA and the Energy Department and "cancel" the Paris Agreement.

    Since the election, Trump has been relentlessly converting those anti-science messages into action, wrongly believing that doubling down on fossil fuel production will help boost long-term economic growth. (That Trump's pick for secretary of state -- ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson -- is among the least extreme of his appointments is chilling.)

    According to a Sierra Club report, when he assumes the presidency on Jan. 20, Trump will be the only head of state in the world to deny mainstream climate science -- and yes, that includes even Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

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What will be Trump's legacy? Who cares.

    Was Donald J. Trump a recruit in

    The Russians' quest for a route in-

    To the Oval Office

    By way of a novice?

    Trump pooh-poohs it: pooh-Putin.

    So you hail a cab in Manhattan to go to LaGuardia and the cabdriver heads for the Lincoln Tunnel and you say, "LaGuardia, LaGuardia, LaGuardia," and he says, "Yeah, yeah, yeah," and you're in New Jersey, and you yell at him to stop and he doesn't, he points north and says, "Bridge!" and now you're on I-87 passing through Poughkeepsie -- this is pretty much where we are with Trump Inc. so far. The populist revolt turns into a corporate boardroom and the disaffected Democrats who voted for it are not going to catch that plane to Florida after all. They will be spending four years on cousin Sid's rollaway in Schenectady.

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December 21st

Trump’s Approach: A Fresh Start or Crazy Reckless?

    Maybe it will all turn out OK. If it does, put me down as promising to applaud.

    But my fellow Americans, whatever mix of motives led us to create an Electoral College majority for Donald Trump to become president — and overlook his lack of preparation, his record of indecent personal behavior, his madcap midnight tweeting, his casual lying about issues like “millions” of people casting illegal votes in this election, the purveying of fake news by his national security adviser, his readiness to appoint climate change deniers without even getting a single briefing from the world’s greatest climate scientists in the government he’ll soon lead, and his cavalier dismissal of the CIA’s conclusions about Russian hacking of our election — have no doubt about one thing: We as a country have just done something incredibly reckless.

    There is actually something “prehistoric” about the Cabinet that Trump is putting together. It is totally dominated by people who have spent their adult lives drilling for, or advocating for, fossil fuels — oil, gas and coal.

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The holidays aren't a big, happy family celebration for everyone. And that's OK.

    While opening Halloween candy, my 12-year-old daughter asked, "Is anyone coming for Thanksgiving?"

    Not "who" is coming over, but whether anyone would join us at all.

    "Just the three of us," I said, cheerfully. She was quiet, thoughtfully chewing a bite-sized chocolate.

    "And Christmas?" she asked.

    "Just the three of us in Florida," I said, and then to sweeten the deal, "presents by the pool!" She smiled.

    We go through this every year as soon as the detritus of Halloween is swept away, this eight-week holiday season marathon when everyone else has grandparents flying in, aunts and uncles an hour's drive away, cousins to play and fight with, houses filling up with love and chaos, or at least chaos. At least that's how it is in our leafy, affluent suburb where many nuclear families are not only still intact but thriving, with functional extended family relationships.

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