Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to his home state, Oklahoma, 10 times over three months this year, largely at taxpayer expense, according to a report released Monday.
The findings from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group founded by former E.P.A. officials, are drawn from Mr. Pruitt’s calendar and the travel expenses he has submitted for reimbursement. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the documents show Mr. Pruitt spent 43 out of 92 days from March through May in Oklahoma or traveling to or from the state.
The report does not assert that Mr. Pruitt’s estimated $12,000 in federally funded airfare, which includes travel to and from his home state, is improper.
Monday Reads: Chaos is the Order of the DayPosted: July 24, 2017
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Nearly every day I wake up thinking that there will never be peace and quiet anywhere again. Every small corner of sanctity is run over by unworthwhile people scampering like the pet lemmings of the parasitically capitalistic into traps to divert them from reality and to take what little power and money they may have. Yeah, I’m that pessimistic these days. The chaos in Westeros looks mild compared to the chaos here. Where are our dragons? Will my face freeze like this from giving so many people the Stink Eye?
I’m going to start at the local level since politics is still essentially said to be all local. I’ve watched my little working class neighborhood evolve into something I don’t recognize. I’m surrounded by your basic nuisance businesses. There’s a good reason why motels and strip joints are usually at the end of town, near the airport, away from dogs and children. We used to keep them there and downtown. We no longer have neighbors. We have folks that could care less about the zoning laws as long as they make a buck.
This is a Cafe that used to be our local video store. It was a pretentious hipster “street food” place prior to morphing into its current state of affairs. Across the street is another place that specializes in whiskey and steaks. It used to be the Bywater BBQ which is a bit of a misnomer because two nice bears served up just about every comfort food you could imagine there for years. It was my favorite place to take my visiting family, my kids, and meet my neighbors. That’s back when the neighborhood was a gay enclave with many families that have lived here for years. Real people lived here. Not so much any more. This is now the deal: ‘How to run a restaurant when your neighbors are AirBnbs’. That’s what’s become of my home and the place I used to find peace and quiet
When Cafe Henri opened in Bywater last summer, the owners, Kirk Estopinal and Neal Bodenheimer of the Uptown cocktail bar Cure, called the menu “dad food.” By that, they meant a steak, a lasagne, a wedge salad and a cocktail menu with nothing more complicated than a Manhattan or a rum and Coke. The kind of food their own dads would understand. Unfussy, comfort food.
Did their dads like the place?
“They liked it,” Estopinal said, but there was a lot of hesitancy in his voice. “It was a hard concept to explain. And to be brutally honest, I don’t think we nailed the execution.”
More than anything, Estopinal and Bodenheimer misjudged Bywater. They thought the area could use a low-key neighborhood restaurant, the kind of spot where you might stop in a few times a week.
“We thought the neighborhood needed services,” Bodenheimer said. “We thought more people actually lived here.”
It turns out a lot of their neighbors were short-term rentals.
Exactly. My neighborhood has transformed into its own little hellhole. We have an incredible homeless problem. I have a bar on the corner that’s hipster drug central along with an underground sex club and really bad burlesque. The loud music is even worse. I have illegal, unregistered motels everywhere. All of it should be a problem to those who govern, but it doesn’t appear to be. We spent the last year pulling down three old statues and letting Uptown get new roads again. Meanwhile, the Katrina potholes still festoon the streets here. I wish they’d swallow the tourists up.
This is what it looks like when you turn democracy over to people whose only interest is making money. This is what happens when the uneducated and propaganda-soaked decide that “draining the swamp” means electing a bunch of angry white men with money and power to drain the swamp. How did so many people get taken to a place where they can’t recognize players when they see them? Let’s go over a list of chaos brought on by the first six months of the Trumpster Dumpsters. We’re living in the days of the Dumbing of America.
The State Department is in total chaos. There’s rumors Kremlin Caligula may get a “Rexit”.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing increasingly frustrated with the Trump administration and could quit before the year is through, according to reports.
Two sources familiar with Tillerson’s conversations with friends told CNN over the weekend that he has grown so frustrated with President Donald Trump and the Trump administration that there may soon be a “Rexit.”
The change in Tillerson’s tone followed a stressful week for Tillerson. He was found to have violated U.S. sanctions against Russia while working as the CEO of Exxon-Mobil and Trump publicly assailed his fellow Cabinet member Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump said he regretted hiring.
Trump’s decision to bring Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci into the role of communications director shows the rising power of political outsiders and the diminished influence of establishment figures — which Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, epitomizes.
One White House official and two outside advisers said that while Scaramucci was brought into the White House for the communications job, he’s considered an internal candidate to eventually succeed Priebus as chief of staff. There are also a handful of outside candidates.
The unexpected hire has raised questions of whether more shake-ups are coming, even as the White House has tried to downplay its internal discord. The instability has made it difficult for the administration to fend off questions about ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia and to move forward an embattled legislative agenda.
Despite frequent reports his position is in jeopardy, Priebus hopes to finish out his year, according to people close to him. He is eyeing another big hurdle this week of getting the health care bill to pass through the Senate, defenders said Sunday.
“Reince is focused on driving the president’s bold agenda, and that has been and always will be his top priority,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said.Still, his stature in the White House appears to be shrinking. Priebus was fiercely opposed to hiring Scaramucci, saying the former financier had no prior experience in government communications. They have been at odds with each other since Scaramucci was passed over for the director of public liaison role in February.
Scaramucci made clear to reporters on Friday that he reports directly to Trump, not Priebus, even though the chief of staff would typically oversee communications and other portfolios.
Special assistant and social media director Dan Scavino also tweeted on Saturday that he reports directly to the president.
“In a normal White House, every staffer reports to the chief of staff,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Any staffer who believes that they don’t report to the chief of staff is going to be a potential headache for the chief of staff.”
By the way, have you counted how many folks from Goldman Sachs now have top positions in the White House? I miss Spicey already. At least he didn’t look like some guy that was going to put a horsehead in every one’s bed if they criticize trump.
The appointment of Scaramucci adds another Goldman Sachs alum to the Trump team. Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary, Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, and Dina Powell, deputy national security advisor, are all former Goldman partners, while Steve Bannon, the president’s top strategist, was a vice president at Goldman Sachs in the 1980s.
President Trump’s reliance on Goldman talent is ironic given his comments during the campaign, when he accused the firm of having “total control” over rivals Hillary Clinton and Sen. Ted Cruz, whose wife Heid Cruz is a Goldman Sachs investment manager.
For its part, Goldman seems to be reveling in the warm Trump welcome. An article in the August issue of Vanity Fair titled “A very Goldman White House,” quotes Goldman CEO Lloyd Blanfein saying, “I find it validating that as he was looking for good people it happens that a lot of them had Goldman Sachs affiliations.”
The Trump administration is readying for a crackdown on marijuana users under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to release a report next week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and smoking the plant.
Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27.
“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” he wrote.
Criminal justice reform advocates fear Sessions’s memo signals stricter enforcement is ahead.
“The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.
Yeah. That’s a good use of taxpayer money. NOT. Speaking of Taxpayer money, we’re not only paying Trump properties for all Trump’s weekend vacations and golf outings, were spending money for Scott Pruitt to run home for the weekends. Yay Republicans sure hate spending don’t they?
Just to put that into perspective, Pruitt spent half his entire spring out of the District and away from his job on the taxpayer.
So, one of the Princelings got to testify off camera and out of the public eye. This would be the one that is actually on the taxpayer’s payrolls and is running around the world trying to things as the President’s Brain. Kushner says he didn’t collude and an administrative aid at his Federal Paperwork for security clearances.
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, walked into Senate offices Monday morning to begin answering questions behind closed doors about his contacts with Russian officials.In written remarks made public prior to his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kushner denies any improper contacts or collusion. The 11-page statement by Kushner details four meetings he had with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition period — including one set up by Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian lawyer.Kushner defends his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and other Russian officials as typical contacts in his role as the Trump campaign’s liaison to foreign governments, according to the prepared statement he plans to submit for the record.Kushner is answering questions behind closed doors, first to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and then again on Tuesday to the House Intelligence Committee. Both panels are probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials and associates.U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government orchestrated a far-reaching campaign to meddle with last year’s presidential campaign and influence the outcome in Trump’s favor.Kushner’s appearances before congressional committees mark a new phase in the investigations of Russian meddling, as he is the first of the president’s closest advisers to appear before them.In his testimony, which will be submitted to the congressional committees before he answers questions from lawmakers, Kushner says he has had only “limited contacts” with Russian representatives and denies any wrongdoing.“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner writes. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.”
Am I just getting old or is stuff out there getting so chaotic? Is it just me that wants the proverbial cabin in the middle of nowhere?
In one shining moment of goodness, preservation is wining for one beautiful old New Orleans Building. It’s the one thing I’m holding on to today as I start my slog to finishing up grades for the term. I’m ending a bit of hope that the outcome for this treasure might be the result of good local politics.
Tree branches sprout from cracks in the building’s façade, windows are broken, part of the roof is caving in, and most of the walls are crumbling, cracked and covered with graffiti.
Even so, things are looking up for the General Laundry, Cleaners and Dyers building, which last week came one step closer to becoming a locally designated historic landmark.
On Thursday, the Historic District Landmarks Commission approved a request to nominate the building for the landmark designation. The commission will now look further into the building’s history and architectural significance and decide on the request at a future meeting.
In the meantime, the building will enjoy temporary landmark status, which gives the city some authority to prevent either deliberate razing or “demolition by neglect.”
It’s a small victory for groups like the Louisiana Landmarks Society, a local organization that works to promote preservation of at-risk historic properties. In 2010, the society named the General Laundry building to its annual Nine Most Endangered list of historic sites in the area.
“It would be a tragic loss, to lose something so beautiful,” said Stephen Chauvin, an architect and assistant treasurer of the nonprofit group.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?