Friday Reads: Tales from Swamplandia

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I do have an affinity for real swamps having lived around both fresh and saltwater wetlands.  They’re really interesting places to observe nature cleaning up stuff, building stuff, and nurturing stuff.

They’ve been referred to as the planet’s kidneys and/or liver.   Swamps and all wetlands cleanse water which is basically the planet’s life blood. I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating. Most folks have got swampy, wetlands all wrong. They’re only a problem when you want to cement over them and ignore their natural beauty and usefulness to nature and the planet.

Maybe it is because it is easy to visualize wildlife habitat and flood storage.  We have all seen images of hundreds of waterfowl landing in a shallow marsh.  We know that floods are all about too much water and it’s logical that flood storage would require large acreage.  But there is no similar visual that applies to improving water quality.  In fact the only picture the public might logically seize on is the well known idea that wetlands are nature’s kidneys.  Kidneys are, after all, a relatively small organ.  It might be equally valid to call compare wetlands to another organ, the liver, since wetlands clean up water before it enters lakes and rivers, rather like the liver’s role for the circulatory system of the body.  The liver is also a much larger organ.  But calling wetlands ‘Nature’s livers’ is unlikely to improve their image.

If the DC Beltway is truly a swamp, then it’s in the process of cleansing itself of the nastiness that entered its environs.  It’s a process though and that often means a lot more time than is expedient for living things to thrive.

The very model of public corruption resigned yesterday. Scott Pruitt has no less than 13 open investigations against him. Much of the evidence came from inside the ranks of the EPA and included political appointments with Trumpist loyalties. Calls for his resignation came from everywhere but the Hair Furor.  He only cares about throughput and outcomes.  Pruitt could’ve grifted his way to the office of AG and KKKremlin Caligula wouldn’t not have given one whit.  Fortunately, even his state run media finally couldn’t take any more of it.

“He survived through so much for so long it doesn’t feel real that he’s actually gone,” one former EPA official remarked on Thursday afternoon.

Political appointees who remained at the agency were dejected, but resigned to their boss’ fate. Those who spoke to The Daily Beast said they had been alerted to the news before the president tweeted about Pruitt’s resignation, which is more courtesy than has been afforded to other departed Cabinet secretaries. One senior EPA aide lamented Pruitt’s downfall, but added, “it hasn’t been fun defending him either.”

Pruitt’s scandals began as those of other Trump Cabinet officials have: with details of his lavish travel and spending habits. He’d spent $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth in his office, $105,000 on first class airfare, and took advantage of chartered military flights on the taxpayer dime.

Trump’s EPA administrator would routinely have public servants and his staff carry out his personal errands and demands, even dispatching them often to fetch his protein bars, Greek yogurt, and other choice snacks during the day.

There was always something a little off about Pruitt with his weird fetishes that included Ritz Carlton body lotion, literal bible interpretations and icky chickie.  The NYT editorial board argued today that We’ll All Be Paying for Scott Pruitt for Ages”.  We’ll be paying for KKKremlin Caligula far longer.  Even Pruitt’s resignation letter was creepy as shit.

Just when America had all but given up hope, Scott Pruitt’s appalling reign as Environmental Protection Agency administrator is finally over. Thursday afternoon, Mr. Pruitt delivered President Trump his resignation letter, replete with references to “God’s providence” and how “blessed” he was to have had the opportunity to serve not the nation, but this president. He sadly noted that “the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.” And so Mr. Pruitt heads for the door, leaving behind a dark, oily stain on the office that he has spent the past year and a half vigorously defiling.

Sign me up for the Devil’s Baseball Team if those two represent “God’s providence” and blessings because as far as I can see, the difference between the sky and earth fairy appear to be that you rid yourself of people like Scott Pruitt forever when you stay grounded.  Who would want to spend an eternity around him or Mike Pence besides an equally creepy and moral-free monster?  And with that description, I move on to another example. The swamp is coughing this nutter up too.

Any one that’s watched Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan given airtime knows what it’s like to watch delusion in action.  It’s a combination of unskilled lying and true believership that defies apprehension.

So, now we know he aided and abetted sexual assault and likely took a front row seat to watch. What is it about white evangelical christianity and republicanism that attracts Pervs that commit actual sex crimes?

One of the wrestlers, Shawn Dailey, said he was groped half a dozen times by Dr. Richard Strauss in the mid-1990s, when Jordan was the assistant wrestling coach. Dailey said he was too embarrassed to report the abuse directly to Jordan at the time, but he said Jordan took part in conversations where Strauss’ abuse of many other team members came up.

“I participated with Jimmy and the other wrestlers in locker-room talk about Strauss. We all did,” Dailey, 43, told NBC News, referring to Jordan. “It was very common knowledge in the locker room that if you went to Dr. Strauss for anything, you would have to pull your pants down.”

Dailey spoke out two days after NBC News reported that three former wrestlers who were coached by Jordan more than two decades ago accused the GOP congressman of turning a blind eye to Strauss’ alleged abuse and then lying about it. Jordan denied knowing anything about the abuse and continues to do so.

Dailey corroborated the account of one of those wrestlers, Dunyasha Yetts, who told NBC News that Yetts had protested to Jordan and head coach Russ Hellickson after Strauss tried to pull down his wrestling shorts when Yetts went to see him for a thumb injury.

“Dunyasha comes back and tells Jimmy, ‘Seriously, why do I have to pull down my pants for a thumb injury?’” Dailey recalled. “Jimmy said something to the extent of, ‘If he tried that with me, I would kill him.'”

Calling Jordan “a close friend,” Dailey said he is a Republican and that he contributed to the powerful Ohio congressman’s first political campaign for state representative in 1994.

This testimony creeps me out greatly.

Jordan’s denial conflicts with descriptions that the alleged abuse was rampant and well known in OSU wrestling circles.

DiSabato told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday that not only was Jordan aware of the alleged abuse, but that he witnessed inappropriate behavior from Strauss in the team shower.

DiSabato described an environment where student-athletes shared a shower with multiple staff and faculty members who “were involved in lewd acts that included public masturbation” and “excessive soaping of their groin area.”

“Dr Strauss was one of those that took a lot of showers and soaped himself a lot,” DiSabato said. “So, when you look at the definition of sexual abuse and sexual assault —  and Jim Jordan just went on record saying he knew about the facilities — he took showers with us. He saw Dr. Strauss and others perform these kinds of acts in front of us.”

Vintage-Black-Americana-x22Down-Southx22-Postcard-full-1-2048_10.10-19-fOf course, the swamp still hasn’t coughed up its most toxic threat.  Il Douchey was on the road in Montana being as vile as ever.

Rosendale, the state auditor, benefits from the president’s personal disdain for Tester, who blocked his nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ronny Jackson – who had served as the White House physician.

“You know I feel guilty,” Trump said on Jackson’s demise that led to the withdrawal of his nomination. “I put him into the world of politics. How vicious is the world? But Jon Tester said things about him that were horrible and weren’t true.”

Trump also went after a potential 2020 rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who he continues to dog over her past statements on her Native American heritage.

“Pocohantas – they want me to apologize for saying it” Trump said. Pocohantas I apologize to you. To you, I apologize. To the fake Pocohantas I won’t apologize.”

“Let’s say I am debating Pocahontas,” Trump surmised. “I will get a test and when she proclaims she is of Indian heritage because her mother said she has high cheekbones. We will take that little kit. We have to do it gently.”

Trump then disparaged the Me Too movement – raising some eyebrows, but drawing laughter from the friendly audience.

“It’s the Me Too generation so I have to be very gentle,” he snickered. “We will gently take the kit and slowly toss it hoping it didn’t injury her arm. Even though it weighs only 2 ounces. I will say we will give $1 million to your favorite charity paid for by trump if you take the test and it shows you are an Indian.”

I’m waiting to hear the press lecture him on niceties. 

Trump also took another dig at California Rep. Maxine Waters, whom he called “the new leader” of the Democratic party.

“Democrats want anarchy,” Trump said, saying they would allow gangs like MS-13 “run wild” in America. “And they don’t know who they’re playing with, folks.

“I said it the other day, yes, [Maxine Waters] is a low-IQ individual. Honestly, she’s somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe,” Trump added.

No amount of cabinet shaming reaches the lows of a Trump rant. Hey, Donald Trump, the bottom is calling and wants to know if you’ve found it yet.

And that last quote came from Trump State News which–according to Media Matters–has “now given Trump over $15 million in free advertising by airing his rallies.”

On July 5, President Donald Trump went to Montana for another “Make America Great Again Rally.” Fox News not only teased the rally throughout the day, but aired the president’s speech — during which Trump lashed out at critics, took a swipe at the #MeToo movement, and gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a pass — in its entirety.

Fox aired the rally for an hour and 14 minutes, bringing the network’s total airtime given to Trump rallies to 7 hours and 47 minutes since April 28. According to iQ media, a media monitoring service, the advertising value of Trump’s Montana rally was $1,902,542.65. Since April 28, Fox News has gifted Trump $15,174,430.00 in free advertising by airing his rallies.

Can we call them unethical campaign donations if not illegal please?

The most dangerous part of the Trumper Tantrum came at the expense of our NATO allies.

President Trump’s harsh blast at NATO during a rally last night in Helena, Mont., was Europeans’ worst nightmare come to life, Western diplomatic sources tell Jonathan Swan and me:

Trump portrayed the alliance as one-sided, transactional and bad for the U.S., and seemed to suggest that U.S. military support is conditional on the Germans paying more, calling out “Angela” — the German chancellor.

The president’s views on NATO and trade are inseparable: He believes that, as he said in Montana, Americans are “the schmucks paying for the whole thing.”

  • Trump re Europe: “[T]hey kill us on trade. They kill us on other things. … [T]hey kill us with NATO. They kill us.”
  • He sees both as examples of international systems set up to screw the U.S. And now he’s going around the world with his hand out, collecting what he sees are America’s dues.

Why it matters: When the history of the Trump presidency is written, one of the most important chapters will be the way he changed America’s relationship with Europe.

  • He doesn’t do what normal U.S. presidents do and make unequivocal statements about solidarity against shared threats. He asks them to pay up.
  • Rhetorically at least, he seldom distinguishes between allies and adversaries. And when he does, he often saves the toughest words for America’s allies.
  • Trump’s theory of the case is that Europe needs us more than we need them. And certainly for now, at least, Europeans have nowhere else to turn for their protection.
  • It’s possible his theory works out in the long term and they become militarily much more self-sufficient. But what’s not clear is what it will mean for the U.S. in the long run to draw down so much goodwill with our traditional allies.
  • European officials have been telling us they’re worried Trump will take a “purely transactional” approach to NATO and ignore shared values and the other dimensions of the alliance.

Cyprus Solitude Caddo Lake.Warren Hunter

Meanwhile, the horrors of the family separation policy continue even as a small number of children reunite with family.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday the agency was prepared to reunite separated children with their parents, and would prioritize children under age 5 starting next week. But Azar, speaking to reporters, said families that have been reunited could still experience long stays in detention.

It’s unclear how the lawsuit filed by the attorneys general would impact the administration’s efforts to reunify separated families.

The NewsHour read through all 99 declarations and pulled 12 that offer a window into what’s has been happening under the family separation policy.

Read the list of testimonies. It’s heart breaking.

And then ethnic cleansing through harsh rules continues.  Read up on any of these and weep for the dead idea of being a beacon of light again. These are NAZI or Stalin like purges

Our Military:

“Ban Was Lifted, but Transgender Recruits Still Can’t Join Up”

The Defense Department refused requests for statistics on transgender enlistments. But Sparta, an organization for transgender recruits, troops and veterans, says that out of its 140 members who are trying to enlist, only two have made it into the service since Jan. 1.

Others have been stymied by the Military Entrance Processing Command, which has rejected some of the applicants and kept others in limbo for months by requesting ever more detailed medical documentation. Other advocates said the Sparta members’ experiences probably reflected the overall picture for transgender enlistment.

The applicants are being stalled or turned away at a time when some branches of the military face a shortage of recruits, and when recruiters have been ordered to work Saturdays to try to make up the shortfall.

“U.S. Army Reportedly Discharging Immigrants Who Enlisted With Promises Of Citizenship .About 10,000 people now serve under a program meant to fast-track U.S. citizenship for military duty.”

The U.S. Army has begun discharging some immigrants who enlisted in the military with promises that their service would lead to U.S. citizenship, according to a report Thursday in The Associated Press.

Attorneys representing at least 40 people recruited through a program meant to attract talented enlistees — those with special language or medical skills — say their clients have been discharged or had their military status put into doubt in recent days. Some told the AP that they were given no reason why the discharges took place, while others said personal links to relatives living abroad led them to be labeled as security risks.

Naturalized Citizens:

 The new denaturalization task force was last seen during the Red Scare.

Indeed! The Red Scare is actually on the Not The Nation’s Proudest Moment bingo card, alongside, say, Japanese internment. Someone will be shouting BINGO! any day now.

Essentially, while the government has always investigated when someone comes forward with a charge against a naturalized American citizen, this is the first time since Joe McCarthy we have a dedicated task force to try to ferret people out. As Jamelle Bouie put it very neatly in Slate, this is simply the latest attempt on the part of Republicans—before and, with a turbo charge, under this president—to prevent the browning of America, or at least the American electorate.

But perhaps the most immediately pressing issue is that this administration cannot be trusted to restrict the task force’s operations to investigating people who allegedly lied during the naturalization process. Trump’s White House has displayed a generalized hostility to immigration best summed up in its proposal to cut legal immigration in half. At the border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sought to criminalize asylum-seekers—who are pursuing a human right under international law and treaties to which the United States is a signatory—by preventing them from presenting themselves at official checkpoints and restricting the criteria for seeking asylum.

And most precisely, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a pattern of arresting people without warrantsdenying them due process, and even accusing people of having gang affiliations without evidence in order to detain them. Clearly, this is not an administration whose respect for individual rights or domestic and international law outweighs its desire to remove Certain People from the country. It would be foolish to believe that will change once they start trying to strip people of citizenship.

I’m going to end this with a quote from George Washington.

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions.”

George Washington

Now, I’m going to cry for America.  We’re quickly loosing the high ground.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?