Monday Reads: It just keeps getting worse

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

Hi Sky Dancers!

I really am tired of reading the most depressing news I’ve seen since the Nixon years but it seems that we’re stuck with that for awhile. Why is it that each Republican administration since Eisenhower is comprised of exponentially worse policies and people?  It’s called Public Service you dimwits!  Not Public Grifting!

I’ll try not to dwell on it but there are some really awful things happening of which you must be aware.  The Russian Junta in the White House is killing off the EPA and much of the Interior Department.  Science continues to be under attack and replaced by raping and pillaging. The EPA has dismissed half of its Scientific Advisers. The Interior Department has suspended more than 200 advisory panels.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department are overhauling a slew of outside advisory boards that inform how their agencies assess the science underpinning policies, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the federal government evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “reviewing the charter and charge” of more than 200 advisory boards, committees, and other entities both within and outside of his department. EPA and Interior officials began informing current members of the move on Friday, and notifications continued over the weekend.

Pruitt’s move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA’s prime scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the individuals being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that “no one has been fired or terminated” and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.

Glacier National Park, Montana

This basically puts industry in charge of the nation’s natural resources. Of course, you know what that means.  Get ready for massive amounts of pollution, depletion of forests and wetlands, and your basic toxic treatment of living things.  One thing about living in Louisiana that I’ve learned is how detrimental it is to everything when you let extraction corporations do what they want.  Then, there’s the chemical companies.  They don’t call that section of the state Cancer Alley for nothing.  We’re sinking into the Gulf because of the Oil Industry.  Our wildlife–including those we depend on for food and industry–is dying off and there are some nasty looking growths on people, animals and plants alike the closer you are to the companies’ operations.

“Today I was Trumped,” Robert Richardson, an environmental economist at Michigan State University, tweeted, after learning of his dismissal.

Richardson says he and the other board members were expecting to serve another term — as their predecessors had. “I’ve never heard of any circumstance where someone didn’t serve two consecutive terms,” he told the Washington Post. It “just came out of nowhere,” he told Science.

The Board of Scientific Counselors is an 18-member board whose mission is to “evaluate science and engineering research, programs and plans, laboratories, and research-management practices of ORD [EPA’s office of research and development] and recommend actions to improve their quality and or strengthen their relevance to EPA’s mission.” (It’s not clear why six members of the board were allowed to stay.)
 When asked by reporters to explain the dismissal, EPA spokesperson J.P. Freire said the EPA wanted to make “a clean break with the last administration’s approach” and “expand the pool of applicants.” These advisers “were appointed for three-year terms,” he toldGreenwire. “They’re not guaranteed a second three-year term.”

By expanding the applicant pool, Freire likely means opening up the advisory board to more members of industry (it’s mostly been filled with people from academia).

 If this sounds familiar, it’s because in March, Republicans in Congress were calling to “reform” another EPA scientific board — the EPA Science Advisory Board.

That board is a larger, 47-person committee that provides analysis on EPA research programs and plans. The Board of Scientific Counselors, whose members were dismissed over the weekend, evaluates the rigors of the research conducted at the EPA. (Yes, there is overlap in the missions.)

Bison bison: Bison walking slowly through snow. Yellowstone National Park, WY.

A list of judicial nominees was dropped on the unsuspecting US population today.  I can only hope that Senators will pocket a good deal of them and they will never see the light of day let alone the inside of a courtroom.

Two of the nominees who will be unveiled Monday were on the list of Trump’s potential Supreme Court justices and will likely come under scrutiny by Democrats because of that inclusion: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who will be nominated to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justice David Stras, who sits on the Minnesota Supreme Court and is Trump’s pick to sit on the 8th Circuit.

Trump will name three other nominees to the appellate courts: Amy Coney Barrett to the 7th Circuit, John Bush to the Sixth Circuit and Kevin Newsom to the 11th Circuit. The president also plans to name four federal District Court nominees: Dabney Friedrich in the District of Columbia, Terry Moorer in Alabama, David Nye in Idaho and Scott Palk in Oklahoma, as well as Damien Schiff to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The list of judicial nominees was first reported by the New York Times, and confirmed to POLITICO by a Trump adviser.

Conservative allies of the Trump administration say White House officials have worked diligently since Trump’s inauguration in January to comb through suggested nominees, vet them and prepare them for nomination.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

You can read the NYT coverage by Adam Liptak here.

But liberal groups expressed alarm at the prospect of a federal bench filled with Mr. Trump’s appointees. “The Trump administration has made clear its intention to benefit from Republican obstructionism and to pack the federal courts with ultraconservatives given a stamp of approval by the Federalist Society,” said Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, referring to the conservative legal group. “We’ll be scrutinizing the records of these nominees very carefully.”

Sally Yates is testifying today before a Senate committee which could be a good thing.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is expected to deliver long-awaited testimony Monday afternoon before a Senate subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Yates was thrust into the national spotlight after she broke with President Donald Trump over the enforcement of his travel ban, an action which led to her firing in January. But since then, her profile has only risen following revelations that she said she forcefully warned the administration about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with a Russian diplomat weeks before Flynn was fired.

Just hours before Yates was scheduled to testify, former Obama officials confirmed to CNN that then-President Barack Obama warned Trump about hiring Flynn as his national security adviser in their Oval Office meeting November 10. The news was first reported by NBC.

And CNN also reported Monday morning that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page told Senate investigators that he had “brief interactions” several years ago with a Russian official he said was a “junior attaché,” even though US officials had suspected the official of spying on behalf of the Kremlin.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

So, here’s the disturbing thing about this.  Trump is tweeting actual threats against Yates.  This is really quite horrifying given he commands a white nationalist army of crackpots and malcontents that basically hate women.

President Donald Trump has drawn a lot of criticism for his decision to lash out at former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday, just hours before she was scheduled to testify about former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Appearing on CNN to talk about the president’s tweet — in which he said that someone should “ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council (sic)” — legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that Trump’s behavior crosses the line of what we consider to be normal behavior for a politician in the United States.

“It just shows how much the norms of behavior have changed,” Toobin said. “The idea of the President of the United States essentially threatening a witness, he’s basically accusing her of leaking, we have never had that before. We’ve never had presidents who did this kind of thing. The idea that the president — the guy who’s in charge of the Justice Department — is threatening a witness is really kind of disturbing.”

Yates was fired from her role as acting attorney general earlier this year after she refused to enforce the administration’s proposed travel ban. She will reportedly testify on Monday afternoon that she gave the Trump administration warnings about Flynn possibly being compromised by the Russian government.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Senator John McCain has taken the case for Human Rights to the NYT’s editorial page.  He actually attacks SOS Tillerson in the op ed.

Sen. John McCain slammed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a New York Times op-ed published Monday morning, accusing the nation’s chief diplomat of adopting a foreign policy that abandons both U.S. values and victims of oppression around the world.

McCain’s op-ed came in response to remarks Tillerson delivered last week to State Department employees, in which he said that “in some circumstances if you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals.” Tillerson’s boss, President Donald Trump, has made a habit of offering warm words for dictators and political strongmen from around the world, including Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope. Our values make us sympathetic to your plight, and, when it’s convenient, we might officially express that sympathy,” McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote. “But we make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values. So, if you happen to be in the way of our forging relationships with your oppressors that could serve our security and economic interests, good luck to you. You’re on your own.”

McCain needs to do more than write Op Eds and do the gamut of Sunday Talk Shows.  He needs to actually stop some of this shit from getting into law and some of the bigger shit piles do not need to be approved to be Cabinet Members or part of the Federal Government.

Well, hopefully, the pictures of our pristine National Parks from around the Country has put you in the mood to both visit them and defend them.  Just remember, the first shot in the Resistance was fired by a Friend of Smokey The Bear!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

28 Comments on “Monday Reads: It just keeps getting worse”

  1. NW Luna says:

    Thanks for the National Park pictures. And speaking of Parks for We The People, yes, we need to speak up and defend them. Or local greedy born-again cowboy buffalo slaughters and extractive oil corps will move in. Send lots of emails and letters!

    The Department of the Interior today announced the first ever formal public comment period for members of the public to officially weigh in on monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906, and the Department released a list of monuments under review under the President’s Executive Order 13792, issued April 26, 2017.

    A public comment period is not required for monument designations under the Antiquities Act; however, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that local input is a critical component of federal land management.

    Comments may be submitted online after May 12 at by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

    DATES: The Department will shortly publish a notice in the Federal Register officially opening the public comment period. Written comments relating to the Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted within 15 days of publication of that notice. Written comments relating to all other designations subject to Executive Order 13792 must be submitted within 60 days of that date.

  2. NW Luna says:

    Here’s Adam Khan on that Guardian article Peg link to yesterday:

    • dakinikat says:

      Lord what a group of creepy people!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m glad I don’t use either Facebook or Linked in very much.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’ve never been on Facebook because I believed it when folks said “if it’s free – you are the product”. I also don’t see how anyone has time for it. After my obligatory 8 hours a day on a computer – I want off.

      Having said that I understand why it’s so popular and have nothing against anyone’s decision to be on. I’m grateful you all keep me up-to-date with what I miss on FB and Twitter.

      • dakinikat says:

        I’ve been on facebook forever. You couldn’t get on without a mail box with a edu extension. It’s like the internet. It was fine until the opened it to the AOL crowd. Same with Facebook. It was fine before it went commercial.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    The Trump criminal enterprise is in full effect. From every branch of government they are laying waste to this nation while the GOP leadership holds hands and celebrate before the cameras. Despicable.

    I have lost faith in the system of checks and balances. I have lost faith that justice will be served. I have lost faith with every institution that served as the underpinning of our national principles. It is disheartening.

    No tax filings? No problem. Conflicts of interest? No big deal. Emoluments clause? So what.
    Unqualified cabinet heads? Vote them in. Nepotism? Who cares. Weekly flights to Florida? Yawn. Stupid, incoherent, lying statements coming out of WH? No big deal. Gutting the EPA?
    Ho hum. Descimate healthcare? Win. Russian connection? Fake news.

    Each day it gets worse. Our food, water and air supplies are at risk. We may lose healthcare. The judiciary will be likely filled by Right wing religionists. Our foreign policy puts us at a nuclear risk. Our allies are confused. An unqualified son in law is in charge of multiple tasks while a sexist, hate filled “advisor” with an agenda of tearing down the government has the ear of the POTUS. What could go wrong?

    We have no idea how this will end. I have lost faith in the Democratic Party to right the wrongs.The press, with few exceptions, are bound and determined to “legitimize” this criminal enterprise. The FBI cannot be trusted. The DOJ is compromised.

    We are no longer a nation with a moral conscience. We care only about self interests. Empathy has all but disappeared. Money and influence rule.

    And above all this vicious man is getting away with it all.

    • dakinikat says:

      The Republican party has lost any claim to any kind of higher ground. They’re about pure greed and religious control of people.

      • Enheduanna says:

        You forgot racism. It’s unconscionable.

        You mentioned Eisenhower at the top and I’ve always been so impressed he got the interstate highway system built. I only learned a couple of weeks ago NASA was also begun in his administration! Can you imagine that kind of contribution to humanity from the tRump admin?

        • bostonboomer says:

          Eisenhower also initiated the intermingling of religion with government.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Trump should not be allowed to appoint judges while he’s being investigated by the FBI.

  5. NW Luna says:

    “With humility and love” — we can all imagine Hillary saying this about serving America. The current POTUS? No.

    Macron holds forces of Trump and Le Pen at bay – now he must deliver

    Macron pledges to serve France with ‘humility and love’.

    French parvenu’s triumph gives liberalism a good name. For Europe’s sake as well as France’s, his third way must work.

    Paradigms shift as fast as headlines in the age of 24-hour news. With a stunning election victory snatched out of nowhere, Emmanuel Macron, the plausible parvenu, has suddenly patented a new model for inclusive democratic politics in Europe, and repulsed – for now at least – the forces of reaction and isolation typified by Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen.

    Macron’s triumph gives liberalism a good name. Its rehabilitation comes in the nick of time.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Is Macron really liberal? I am reading he’s somewhat centrist?

      At any rate it’s a bigger-than-expected repudiation of Le Pen. We must have served as a cautionary tale for the French voting public.

      • dakinikat says:

        He’s right of center. Most of my French Friends are a bit disappointed. They think he’s establishment and was too close to Hollande but the recognized that LePen was dangerous.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He’s pretty far to the right of Hillary.

  6. Enheduanna says:

    Just saw this at Shakesville:

    Finally a candidate for Governor of Georgia I can get excited about. She would be running against our corrupt gerrymandering sec of state Brian Kemp (booooo!).

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    I have to say Sally Yates kicked ass today. She was outstanding. I haven’t felt this way about someone’s performance under pressure since I first saw Hillary back in the early 90’s fielding questions from the press…and she would answer without even a pause or thought. Bam it would come and knock em dead.

    • NW Luna says:

      She was tremendous! Schooled lyin’ Ted Cruz and a few others without even trying.

      • NW Luna says:

        And I loved it when Clapper told that Rethug Senator going on with leaky questions about “classified or unclassified material”: “Well, Senator, if it’s unclassified that wouldn’t be a leak” and the whole room burst out laughing.

  8. NW Luna says: