Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Silent Coup D'Etat: From Here On, The Koch Brothers Really Do Run The White House ... by gimleteye

New WH communications director, Mike Dubke
The appointment of Koch Brothers' key operative Mike Dubke to White House communications director yesterday was a silent coup d'etat.

In his campaign, Donald Trump appeared to represent an insurgency against establishment Republicans who had organized under the umbrella of the Koch Brothers. Donald Trump was "not a politician"; he was not the Koch's but an outsider, a billionaire who could represent the interests of the abandoned (white) middle class America.

As Jane Mayer detailed in her outstanding 2016 book, "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind The Radical Right", the Koch Brothers spend hundreds of millions to perfect the science of anonymous giving to their causes and campaigns. They made Mike Dubke very wealthy; the richest White House communications director in history.

Placing a Koch Brothers operative at the center of White House communications proves the GOP presidential primary was a dark money process.

Trump appeared to ride to the White House on an insurgency against establishment Republican values (that doomed Jeb Bush, for example, who spent over $150 million in his failed primary bid). Now that he is in the WH, Trump  -- like Gov. Rick Scott did in Florida --  can't organize an administration without relying on the same apparatus he claimed to run against during the campaign.

The chaos of Trump's first weeks is ending with a triage operation on the communications front. For all intents, it is a silent coup in favor of the Koch's after all.

Trump brings Dubke in from the dark
Open Secrets
by Robert Maguire and Viveca Novak on February 17, 2017

Mike Dubke, who started a dark money group long before they caught on as a strategy, has been named White House communications director.

Mike Dubke, who started a dark money group long before they caught on as tactical political weapons, has been named White House communications director.

Mike Dubke is no stranger to the value of a good communications strategy: He’s provided advice, through his Crossroads Media firm, to House and Senate candidates, the Republican party and some of the biggest conservative outside spending groups.

Friday, February 17, 2017

ANGRY CITIZENS at the Feb. 17th Hearing on Sanctuary Designation, THEY EVEN THROW STUFF. By Geniusofdespair

It is not just me. Finally Citizens get their fill of this crappy County Commission. Hear them voice their displeasure with a vote of the County Commission on supporting the Mayor's  --- NO SANCTUARY HERE IN MIAMI DADE COUNTY.


Read my previous post about this meeting too.



US Environmental Protection Agency to be pushed off the cliff, today, if Scott Pruitt is confirmed as secretary by the GOP Senate ... by gimleteye

Scott Pruitt's EPA nomination will be voted on by the Senate today
Trump, in a wild and chaotic press conference yesterday, claimed, "I inherited a mess!" With the likely confirmation of EPA secretary Scott Pruitt today by the GOP majority, Trump will set in motion a mess of historic proportions: unravelling fifty years of federal environmental protections at a moment in history when man-made climate change -- "far from settled", Pruitt believes -- begins to roar.

The GOP leadership is delusional in its practice of throwing heavy blankets over climate change reality. It may claim to be independent of the Trump White House mess, but the one place their collaboration is secure; the elimination of federal environmental law.

For the entire thirty years I have been an environmental activist and writer, the EPA has been mainly a promise, a hope, an aspirational force. Citizens have often had to use the federal courts to get the EPA to do its job, in cases where political pressure from Congress and the White House has inhibited the agency.

That's the case in Florida, with polluted water.Citizens have also had to litigate to define the role of the federal government versus the states on many environmental fronts, including energy. In fact, the entire GOP Congressional delegation, lead by Senator Marco Rubio, has been in constant antagonism with the goals of the EPA; against federal protections for the Everglades and against federal measures to strengthen Florida's historically weak water pollution laws that favor big campaign contributors from commodity producers like Big Sugar.

As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt has been on the other side, or, the same side as Florida's polluters. He sued EPA fourteen times in federal court to limit the agency's authority, on behalf mostly of the state's most powerful industries tied to fossil fuel production.

In this way, Pruitt represents not only special interests who define "the swamp"; he also represents wealthy billionaires who profit when the climate loses. When the climate loses, we lose big time.

Through the confirmation process, Pruitt's main ally in Congress has been Oklahoma senator James Inhofe. If the ignominy of U.S. legislators who blocked the nation from responding to the existential threat from climate change, Inhofe ranks worst. As the Republican leader of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee throughout the Bush terms, Inhofe not only ridiculed climate change, he also put great pressure on EPA political appointees to inhibit the agency from doing its job.

In recent days, Democrats in the US Senate have desperately tried to persuade Republicans to require Pruitt to disclose thousands of emails he and his staff have hidden, related to his anti-environmental record in Oklahoma. In spite of fierce public pressure, the Republicans appear serenely aimed to confirm the worst EPA chief in the agency's history. Yesterday, it was disclosed that Pruitt's chief of staff closely coordinated "soft ball" questions from Senator Inhofe on water regulations.

Meanwhile the statistics -- that the GOP ignores -- pour in: according to NOAA, an agency under the EPA umbrella -- January temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.58°F above the 20th century average of 53.6°F. This was the second highest for January in the 1880–2017 record, behind 2016 (highest).

The Arctic north has been roiled, all winter, by temperatures 30 - 50 degrees above normal. Glacial ice for this time of year is at the lowest extent ever measured. Although the Rockies snowpack is high this winter, temperature patterns have been freakish. I was in Utah's Wasatch range last week, at 12,000 feet, where the afternoon temperature in February was 53 degree Fharenheit. Unheard of.

Last week in Magnum, Oklahoma -- in the dead of winter -- the daily temperature reached nearly 100 degrees: twice the historical average.

Oklahoma temperature, last week: off the charts but GOP continues to deny climate change

The New York Times reported yesterday, "Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been calling their senators to urge them to vote on Friday against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s contentious nominee to run the agency, a remarkable display of activism and defiance that presages turbulent times ahead for the E.P.A. Many of the scientists, environmental lawyers and policy experts who work in E.P.A. offices around the country say the calls are a last resort for workers who fear a nominee selected to run an agency he has made a career out of fighting — by a president who has vowed to “get rid of” it."

I can't begin to explain how extraordinary it is for EPA staff to break from tradition this way: it is a signal that things are desperately wrong in the Trump WH, but also a signal that scientists and professionals are under attack at precisely a point in history where public policies need to focus intently on protecting people and the economy, not rigid orthodoxies that destroy democracy and will destroy jobs. EPA staffers are so alarmed, they secured an independent server site and published the agency website as it existed before Trump, so that citizens will be able to compare the changes after. These are dark days for the nation and for the world.

With climate change, there are no alternative facts. We wasted decades since scientists first defined the problem of the atmosphere over-saturated with greenhouse gases. With Trump and Scott Pruitt, and apparently with the support of US Senator Marco Rubio, that wastefulness will be memorialized for history and all time. Sad!

County Hall Meetiing Today on Sanctuary County. By Geniusofdespair

I am going at 10 and I don't expect much. This County Commission is in lock-step with the Mayor.

Picture of the day: White House Celebrates Lifting Ban on Coal Debris in Waterways. By Geniusofdespair

Stark Contrast: Two Presidents  (NY Time Photo)
Coal Miners and the Tweeter in Chief celebrate the lifting of a ban on Coal Mining Debris being dumped in waterways. A sad day. You are no FDR Mr. President.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chaotic Trump White House sends stress levels into stratosphere ... by gimleteye

This poll was taken in January! before Trump fired National Security advisor Flynn, then blamed Flynn's firing on media and "leaks". Before Trump publicly nullified decades of Mideast policy re two state Palestinian solution, without either his secretary of state of secretary of defense in Washington, and with only Steve Bannon in the White House. And Stephen Miller. And U.S. intelligence has kept sensitive information from Trump over leak concerns, underscoring deep mistrust. And GOP House members cancelling Town Hall meetings in home districts due to public fury.

Americans Are Really Stressed About Donald Trump, Study Finds
Fortune Magazine, 2/15/17
Lucinda Shen

The number of Americans stressed about the election and its aftermath has risen sharply, according to a report released Wednesday.

The American Psychological Association (APA) poll, conducted between Jan. 4-19, revealed that 57% of adult Americans consider the current political climate to be a significant source of stress. That's up from 52% of Americans who felt the same in August. Americans also felt increasingly more stressed, with people on average reporting that their stress levels rose from 4.8 to 5.1 (out of 10) between August and January. The increase is the fastest rise on record since the APA's Stress in America survey first began in 2007, the report stated.

Additionally, 72% of Democrats thought the outcome of the election was a significant source of stress, while just 26% of Republicans said the same, the study found. Still, adult Republicans weren't exactly worry free: 59% said the future of the nation was a significant source of stress. That compares to 76% of Democrats, according to the study.

"For many, the transition of power and the speed of change can cause uncertainty and feelings of stress, and that stress can have health consequences. If the 24-hour news cycle is causing you stress, limit your media consumption," Katherine Nordal, APA's executive director for professional practice, said in a statement. "Read enough to stay informed but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause. And remember to take care of yourself and pay attention to other areas of your life."The January study polled 1,019 people residing in the U.S. over the age of 18. The August study was conducted among 3,511 people.

Marco Rubio Makes It To a Trump Tweet Yesterday: Picture of the Day. By Geniusofdespair

Marco Rubio at the White House - What is Marco Rubio an after thought (in parenthesis)? He is  helping someone from Venezuela which is good, as Marco IGNORES and is CONTEMPTIBLE towards half his constituents in Florida, calling them left wing extremists.

Our Senator Marco Rubio looks awfully happy to be at Trumps side in this tweeted photo from Trump's Twitter account. Looks like the deal with the devil is a lock. Forget about an epiphany from our Senator that I was hoping for in my blog post yesterday. Marco Rubio is bought and sold. Democrats will routinely be dismissed as "leftist radicals" by Marco Rubio. No hope here, move on.

Gas Lighting Explained...even idiots can understand this. By Geniusofdespair

I have written a very personal experience of being gas lighted myself as a child.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From the Trump Carnage Diary ... by gimleteye

From The Trump Carnage Diary


The director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway misused her official position by hawking Ivanka Trump’s product line on TV and recommends the White House punish her. “Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct Act and that disciplinary action is warranted,” Walter Schaub wrote in a Tuesday letter to White House legal counselor Stefan Passantino.

Less than a month into his presidency, conservative judges block Trump's carelessly assembled executive orders, the national security leadership is in disarray, Republican Senators are launching a probe of the administration's secret engagement with Russia, the much-promised Obamacare replacement is nowhere to be found, and WH staffers are turning on one another with daily leaks about who will be fired first. Trump assails “leaks” but continues to use and tweet from an unsecured Android phone. The uproar over the resignation of National Security chief Mike Flynn continues around the time between DOJ notification of the WH of its concerns about Flynn weeks ago and Trump's "awareness"of the problem, including the chance that Russia could blackmail Flynn while he was in charge of the nation's national security apparatus. Government agency staffers and scientists silo data in secure server farms in case of purges ordered by Trump appointees.

The director of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy retires. Clancy came out of retirement two years ago to repair the damaged agency after a series of embarrassments. Moreover, Trump’s decision to retain a private security staff, causing blurred lines in the chain of command protecting the president, may have played into the Clancy's retirement decision.

Marco Rubio Calls People Seeking an Audience Radical Left Extremists. By Geniusofdespair

I want to remind Marco Rubio that there are about 200 Million Democrats in the Country. Gallup put the figures about even between Republicans and Democrats. So when your constituents that are Democrats ask to see you: They are not radical extremists they are Citizens of the United States seeking your time and a chance to speak to you. Turning off your phones and avoiding them is insane. I think you are a sorry excuse for a Senator, but I would not be disrespectful to you in person. I am a human being who loves my country first. Putting us all in a pot and labeling us "Left Wing Radical Extremists" is disrespectful to us. We have a right to be heard. Remove the word Extremist from your vocabulary...for everyone. Go read what the Alt Right, Conservative wing of your party say about you. You might get some compassion going in that head of yours. This is how to do it: Type in Google, Alt Right+Marco Rubio. Here is one of the results, from Breitbart:

They call you gay, a druggie, Trumps Court-Jester and plenty of other bad stuff in this article -- It is from Steve Bannon's empire, not Democrats.

Do you realize your power? You could be the guy to take down Trump: The Hero. Like Joseph N. Welch took down Senator Joseph McCarthy during the "Red Scare":

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” It was then McCarthy’s turn to be stunned into silence, as Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” The audience of citizens and newspaper and television reporters burst into wild applause. Just a week later, the hearings into the Army came to a close. McCarthy, exposed as a reckless bully, was officially condemned by the U.S. Senate for contempt against his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years McCarthy spiraled into alcoholism. Still in office, he died in 1957.

It is like you are on the yellow brick road looking for a spine from the Emerald City. All you need to do is gather up a few other Senators with a spine and start questioning what is going on. Be the leader you wanted to be. Show us you had presidential potential. Afraid? do some polling on how to do the right thing. There is still hope for you. Right now all you are is a lapdog. Show your children you demand respect. Deflecting by throwing insults at us, is well... "Bigley Trump."

Jeb Bush and the Trump wrecking crew rely on the same sleights of hand: Sad! ... by gimleteye

In important ways, the phenomenon of a democracy-destroying Donald Trump has its roots in a Republican agenda that grew out of Jeb Bush/ Karl Rove initiatives in the late 1990's; among them, public education.

The point of the Bush initiatives was a) undermine funding for public education while b) using testing mandates like FCAT to drive teaching down. Instead of reforming and improving public education, the goal was to open the way for private, charter-based schools that advanced a collateral benefit: conservative, Christian theology.

In other areas of public life, Bush also "innovated" ways to turn public infrastructure -- water management is one -- into opportunities for profit; financial and political. The Republican establishment was so sure of that success, it invested nearly $150 million in Jeb's failed presidential primary. Trump seized the moment to characterize Jeb as "weak", but through his nominations to the Trump cabinet, he now reveals as more Bush, than Bush himself.

Today, two decades after Jeb Bush began tinkering with public education, the Trump administration has designated as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a billionaire who has no experience teaching in public schools and never put a child of her own in a public school. She has given millions to conservative political causes and candidates.

Jeb Bush called Trump "the chaos candidate" and warned, during the presidential primary, that Trump would be a "chaos president". Bush, however, has been strongly supportive of DeVos who, it is expected, will be the same kind of the "bull-in-a-china-shop" to public education as Trump is, to the executive federal branch of government.

The wrecking crew is firmly in charge. The Trump years, if they last, will be chaotic. They will be democracy-crushing. And that, finally, will be the legacy of Jeb Bush and Florida voters.

Blame Jeb's 'belly flop' for teacher shortage | Opinion
Jac Wilder VerSteeg

Here's a recent headline from the Sun Sentinel: "Florida lawmakers seek ways to attract, keep teachers."

Florida lawmakers just can't seem to figure out why the state is losing so many teachers. Florida lawmakers sure are slow on the uptake.

Florida doesn't pay its teachers enough, it's true. But here's the bigger deal: Florida doesn't treat its public school teachers with respect. Florida does not treat its teachers like professionals.