Friday, June 01, 2018

Throw the GOP bums out, like we've never done before ... by gimleteye

The Heartland Institute pops up in Miami, as a consequence of our city and region beginning to blink code red as a result of climate change consequences.

It is a dismal but important story: how the Republican think tank is polluting public views of the climate change emergency. Unsurprisingly, we learned of the Heartland interest in Florida through Jeb Bush's preference for the foundation's anti-regulatory views. They meshed neatly with his own. But the lineage goes back further and the consequences are of enormous consequence to voters and taxpayers.

There is a direct connection between the Trump romp over what he derides calls "the administrative state" and the Reagan Wise Use Movement; its "Sagebrush Rebellion" against environmental protections in order to enrich mineral extraction, forest cutting, and grazing on lands owned by the public. Later, the Tea Party -- funded by the same billionaire interests who claimed Reagan -- also were roped into the misdirection; the belief that "over reach" by government cost taxpayers money and jobs.

The Heartland Institute's deep connections to the oil and fossil fuel supply chain imposed a huge cost on rational public discourse. Climate change denialism is amplified by right wing message machines like Fox, and its owners -- the Rupert Murdoch dynasty -- who loved how neatly profits emerged from the sausage making collision of paranoia, fear, and antagonism.

Although the Heartland Institute is staunchly Republican, a hidey-hole for former legislators and Congressional staffers from the conservative right, the GOP values they used to trumpet have collapsed: fiscal conservatism, budget balancing, trickle down economics -- where tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations were false flags to fool the middle class -- all the moral high ground that Tea Party enthusiasts claimed to hold has disappeared like sand on beaches eroded by sea level rise.

It turns out: the Heartland Institute agendas led to victories without winners except one tiny group: the GOP billionaires versus laws and rules protecting the nation's air, water, and -- hope against hope -- the climate from global warming.

Of former GOP constructs, what remains are Scott Pruitt, his backers, and Donald Trump.

Trump is feral in his comprehension that the destruction machine of the Pruitt EPA is his KEY connection to the wealthiest segment of a Republican elite -- once represented by the Bush wing of the GOP. In this nexus, no environmental rule stands that wouldn't be better either knocked down or turned into a profit spigot for GOP campaign contributors.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Trump will not fire Scott Pruitt, who embraces with relish the task of destroying the US Environmental Protection Agency from the top, down. Trump protects Pruitt and Pruitt gives Trump shelter, because Pruitt is doing what the Republican billionaires really want: throw the environmental administrative state into the wood chipper, the trash compactor, or by other means hollow it out from within.

As for you and me -- libtards, Tea Partiers, common voters and taxpayers -- we all get higher risk of cancer, of disease, of food that poisons. We all suffer loss of species, of wilderness, of habitats and wilderness. When the trillion dollar costs of climate change come home to roost -- as they are doing, now, in the poorest nations of the world -- ask yourself, who will bail you and your families out?

Trump Republicans (in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, Ag. Secty Adam Putnam, and Congressman Ron DeSantis) are too busy "creating jobs" to care about externalities or existential threats on the horizon. That's why, voters -- especially independents and the common Republican voter -- need to eject Republicans from office en masse.

A small revolt is not going to do the job of reversing Trump's destruction machine. It is going to take a massive revolt: from municipal to county elections, to state legislatures, and to Congress.

Throw the bums out like we've never done before.

DeSmog Blog: Clearing the air that pollutes climate science

Emails Reveal Pruitt and EPA Coordinating with Climate-Denying Heartland Institute
By Justin Mikulka • Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 11:44

A lawsuit filed in March by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Environmental Defense Fund has revealed new levels of coordination between Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the climate science-denying think tank the Heartland Institute.

The EPA had repeatedly failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests by the two groups, which resulted in the lawsuit and subsequent release of the email communications.

However, both the EPA and the Heartland Institute have strongly defended their actions revealed by the newly released emails. EPA spokesperson Lincoln Ferguson told the Associated Press that communications with the Heartland Institute helped “to ensure the public is informed” and that this relationship “… demonstrates the agency’s dedication to advancing President Trump’s agenda of environmental stewardship and regulatory certainty.”

The current head of the Heartland Institute is former Congressman Tim Huelskamp who also was quick to defend the relationship.

“Of course The Heartland Institute has been working with EPA on policy and personnel decisions,” Tim Huelskamp said in a statement to AP. “They recognized us as the pre-eminent organization opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda and instead promoting sound science and policy.”

In March Huelskamp wrote a piece in The Hill titled “Scott Pruitt is leading the EPA toward greatness,” in which he made it quite clear that the reason for this greatness was that “Trump and Pruitt share an understanding that climate change is not a significant threat to the prosperity and health of Americans.”

While in Congress, Huelskamp’s top donor was Koch Industries, the massive petrochemical empire owned by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David.

However, this latest revelation is unlikely to derail Pruitt’s career at the EPA. Pruitt is currently the subject of at least ten investigations. At a scathing hearing in April, he was told by one Congressman that “you are unfit to hold public office and undeserving of the public trust.”

Still, Pruitt remains the emabattled chief of the nation's top environmental agency under Trump, and, perhaps not surprisingly, President Donald Trump has been supportive of Pruitt.

Like his boss, Pruitt is quick to blame the media for his problems.

“Much of what has been targeted towards me and my team, has been half-truths, or at best stories that have been so twisted they do not resemble reality,” Pruitt said in his opening remarks to Congress during the April hearing. “I'm here and I welcome the chance to be here to set the record straight in these areas. But let's have no illusions about what's really going on here.”

So what is really going on here?

Heartland Institute: Pushing Disinformation on the Public

The Heartland Institute is a notorious climate denial organization which has mailed tens of thousands of books that attacked climate science to public school science teachers. The group held a press conference to attack Pope Francis when he spoke about climate change in 2015. And in 2012 Heartland put up a billboard comparing those who believe that global warming is real to the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Supported by funding from the Koch network, Heartland has been actively spreading disinformation about climate science for years.

What the latest EPA emails reveal is the extent which these Koch-funded climate deniers are now in direct communication with the EPA and helping influence policy. One email from John Konkus, EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, assures Heartland's then-president Joseph Bast that “If you send a list, we will make sure an invitation is sent.”

The list refers to Heartland’s recommendations for economists and scientists that the EPA would invite to a public hearing on science standards. Under Trump and Pruitt, climate science deniers are now hand-picking who advises the EPA on climate change science.

The emails also show EPA officials communicating with the Heartland Institute to try to rally “activists” to support the repeal of the Obama administration's signature, if moderate, climate change program, the now under siege Clean Power Plan, which would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Kym Hunter, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, explained the rationale for the lawsuit seeking the email communications with Heartland.

“EPA’s efforts to promote climate change deniers and undermine peer-reviewed science behind closed doors is not only a failure of its mission, it is illegal,” Hunter said. “The public has a clear and protected right to know what the EPA is doing and with whom they are communicating, including those pushing a climate-denier agenda.”

Main image: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaking at CPAC 2018. Credit: Zach Roberts for DeSmog


Unknown said...

I can not belive what they seem to be getting away with. I would suggest that all good staffers at EPA simply go on strike -- but the powers that be now would love it.

Milly from Hialeah said...

Not all of us are bums nor would we where "these" T-shirts. I, for one, have never taken a penny from the government and tend to be a caring person who believes in law and order.

We are never going to agree on the agenda of all politicians, but we can let them know how we feel about certain issues and hold them accountable, taking our vote away the next time they are up for reelection. I have certainly sent a few, heated e-mails to the president. My last one, telling him if he came to Hialeah to clean the swamp or swim in it . . .

Despite voting for Trump, I believe is in saving public education, Medicare and social security, taking care of our disabled and veterans, do not want them to drill off our shorelines, etc., but I believe in jobs and helping small businesses and entrepreneurship, and in being free from government dependency.

We need to start thinking more in the middle.

Make sure elected officials know how you feel. Contact them and do not be afraid to tell them what you think.