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
(1904-1993)

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?


Wednesday Reads: Being ladylike does not require silence…

“Being ladylike does not require silence,” Betty Ford told the audience at the Greater Cleveland Congress of International Women’s Year.

I don’t know about you, but I need to take a break from everything…so before we get to the cartoons, I will post some empowering messages.

And a few messages that scream, don’t stay silent!

AAEC News: A Statement from the AAEC Board on Rob Rogers and the Post-Gazette

Have You Seen Me?

The longtime cartoonist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has gone missing. Actually, we know exactly where Rob Rogers is—at his desk creating the excellent award-winning editorial cartoons he is famous for. But it’s those cartoons that have been missing for over a week from the Post-Gazette editorial pages, though we know Rob is drawing them because new cartoons are being posted on the web.

It doesn’t take much to connect the dots between the absence of Rob’s left-leaning cartoons and the recent arrival of a Trump-supporting editorial page editor. We would take this opportunity to remind all editorial page editors that their responsibility is to the readers (among whom in Pittsburgh, Rogers cartoons are wildly popular) and to the open and ongoing search for truth in contending opinions. The editorial pages are a public forum, not a members-only private resort in Florida.

https://www.facebook.com/notrobertkirby/posts/1617003241682309

Now for the cartoons:

06/05/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

06/04/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

Trump world: 06/05/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Trump world

#WearOrange: 06/03/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - #WearOrange

CHANGE A WORD: 06/04/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - CHANGE A WORD

trump legacy: 06/05/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - trump legacy

Pardoning Himself: 06/05/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Pardoning Himself

06/01/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

06/05/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

I like the way he has drawn tRumps mouth….it looks like an asshole.

Trade War: 06/05/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Trade War

Pardon: 06/03/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Pardon

Immigrant Kids: 06/01/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Immigrant Kids

Ambien: 05/31/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Ambien

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Immigration : 06/05/2018 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Immigration

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump Diplomacy: 06/03/2018 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump Diplomacy

05/31/2018 Cartoon by Kevin Siers

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

Dictator: 06/05/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Dictator

I think that cartoon above is very good.

06/03/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

Claudia Patrica Gomez Gonzalez: 06/02/2018 Cartoon by Eric J Garcia

Cartoon by Eric J Garcia - Claudia Patrica Gomez Gonzalez

View this post on Instagram

Just a friendly reminder that the president fancies himself a monarch who is above the law and can pardon himself of any and all crimes. • #pardon #pardonme #emperortrump #kingtrump #ladyjustice #justice #doj #departmentofjustice #rudygiuliani #giuliani #presidentialpardon #iamnotacrook #lockhimup #abovethelaw #votethemout #holdthemaccountable #bluewave #bluewave2018

A post shared by Slyngstad Political Cartoons (@slyngstad_cartoons) on

05/31 Mike Luckovich: Tweetledum | Mike Luckovich

06/01 Mike Luckovich: Statue of Captivity | Mike Luckovich

06/03 Mike Luckovich: The Reality | Mike Luckovich

06/05 Mike Luckovich: Very picky. | Mike Luckovich

06/06 Mike Luckovich: Commencement shrieker | Mike Luckovich

This is an open thread.


May the Fourth be with You!

Disney Storyboard Drawing of a Dinosaur from Fantasia (1940)

Good Morning!

I’ve always loved SF and fantasy but I’ve also loved delving into the mysterious past.  What kid doesn’t like stories about dinosaurs and spaceships?  One of all time favorite things to watch is Disney’s Fantasia. I love the animated Dinosaurs brought to life to the strains of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’.  There’s some news dealing with the EPA, our planet, and our dependence on fossil fuels I’d like to share today.  Climate change is real.  The current administration only cares about enriching itself and its friends.  What does this mean for our fragile time on this planet?

 

From The Grist: Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air.

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist.

On Wednesday, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmedthat April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.

We know a lot about how to track these changes. The Earth’s carbon dioxide levels peak around this time every year for a pretty straightforward reason. There’s more landmass in the northern hemisphere, and plants grow in a seasonal cycle. During the summer, they suck down CO2, during the winter, they let it back out. The measurements were made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii — a site chosen for its pristine location far away from the polluting influence of a major city.

Increasingly though, pollution from the world’s cities is making its way to Mauna Loa — and everywhere else on Earth.

In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.

Not only are carbon dioxide levels rising each year, they are accelerating. Carbon dioxide is climbing at twice the pace it was 50 years ago. Even the increases are increasing.

That’s happening for several reasons, most important of which is that we’re still burning a larger amount of fossil fuels each year. Last year, humanity emitted the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in history — even after factoring in the expansion of renewable energy. At the same time, the world’s most important carbon sinks — our forests — are dying, and therefore losing their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it safely in the soil. The combination of these effects means we are losing ground, and fast.

 

From the New York Times: ‘It was 122.4°F This Week in Pakistan, Probably a World Record for April’

Even in Pakistan, no stranger to blistering heat, the temperature on Monday stood out: 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The reading came from Nawabshah, a city of 1.1 million people in southern Pakistan, and meteorologists say it is the highest temperature ever reliably recorded, anywhere in the world, in the month of April.

The World Meteorological Organization keeps global temperature records, but not by month, which means Monday in Nawabshah cannot be officially confirmed as the hottest April day. But experts on extreme temperatures say it probably is.

Christopher C. Burt, the author of “Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book” and a contributor to Weather Underground, said that 122.4 degrees, or 50.2 degrees Celsius, appeared to be the hottest reliably measured April temperature “in modern records for any location on Earth.” Only one reading might challenge it: 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 51 degrees Celsius, recorded in Santa Rosa, Mexico, in April 2011. But Mr. Burt said that measurement was “questionable because the site was a regional observation site and not of first order.”

Fantasia “Rite of Spring” Concept Art (Walt Disney, 1940)

From Montana’s KRTV 3: ‘Clean-up plan being developed for oil spill on Fort Peck Indian Reservation’.

A oil spill occurred at an oil well operated by Anadarko Minerals Inc. near Lustre, which is located in the central region of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

According to a press release, the spill was reported to the Tribes’ Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) on Friday, April 27.

The spill was spotted by a rancher doing a flyover in the area. The exact date that the leak occurred has not yet been determined. The well had been shut-in in late December of 2017.

Wilfred Lambert of the Fort Peck Tribes OEP and officials from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) initially estimated that 600 barrels of oil and 90,000 barrels of production water, also known as brine, were released from the well.

The oil and brine flowed approximately 200 yards downhill to a stock pond used by tribal entities for watering livestock.

The press release states that the extent of the stock pond’s contamination has not been determined. Early assessments indicate about three to six inches of oil sitting on top of the water.

I don’t think these three event require much explanation and cannot be viewed with too much consternation.  We’ve been warned about all of this by the scientists and Cassandras of earth science and climate science.  It’s all getting worse at a much faster and more disturbing rate than projected.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt is the swamp thing that administers our EPA.  You know, that agency that was the pride of the Nixon administration meant to clean up our messes and perpetual destruction of our environment.  He also frets his brow over the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Interior.   The BLM came about during the Truman years.  The Department of interior has been around since 1849 and has its roots as far back as Madison although it was established through the Polk administration on the eve of Zachary Taylor’s inauguration. It is the agency which took the main approach to Native Americans after a number of Secretaries of States argued that the land and indigenous people of America was not best served by their Departments. These agencies really are most responsible for our past and our future in numerous ways.

  Both the Department of Interior and the EPA are headed by knuckle dragging, corrupt fools. There also seems to be some internecine drama between their dueling ids. Both have taken the idea of using a Federal position for personal benefit and show boating to new heights.

As Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt faces a seemingly endless stream of scandal, his team is scrambling to divert the spotlight to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And the White House isn’t happy about it.

In the last week, a member of Pruitt’s press team, Michael Abboud, has been shopping negative stories about Zinke to multiple outlets, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the efforts, as well as correspondence reviewed by The Atlantic.

“This did not happen, and it’s categorically false,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said.

The stories were shopped with the intention of “taking the heat off of Pruitt,” the sources said, in the aftermath of the EPA chief’s punishing congressional hearing last week. They both added, however, that most reporters felt the story was not solid enough to run. On Thursday, Patrick Howley of Big League Politics published a piece on the allegations; he did not respond to request for comment as to his sources.

Abboud alleged to reporters that an Interior staffer conspired with former EPA deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski to leak damaging information about the EPA, as part of a rivalry between Zinke and Pruitt. The collaboration, Abboud claimed, allowed the Interior staffer to prop up Zinke at the expense of Pruitt, and Chmielewski to “get back” at his former boss.

Abboud offered to connect reporters with Healy Baumgardner as a second source, according to a person with direct knowledge. Baumgardner, a former Trump campaign official, is a global energy lobbyist for the U.S.-China Exchange. She’s close to some EPA officials, the source, as well as an EPA official, confirmed. Baumgardner did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to the two sources, Interior staffers who fielded the reporters’ calls were able to ascertain that Abboud, who is a former Trump campaign official, was behind the stories. The Interior Department’s White House liaison then called the White House Presidential Personnel Office to complain about his conduct.

There is a stream of complaints about Pruitt’s conduct.  None of them garner the proper attention.

Scott Pruitt’s itinerary for a February trip to Israel was remarkable by any standard for an Environmental Protection Agency administrator: A stop at a controversial Jewish settlement in the West Bank. An appearance at Tel Aviv University. A hard-to-get audience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One force behind Pruitt’s eclectic agenda: casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who arranged parts of Pruitt’s visit.

The Israel trip was canceled days before Pruitt’s planned departure, after The Washington Post revealed his penchant for first-class travel on the taxpayers’ dime. But federal documents obtained by The Post and interviews with individuals familiar with the trip reveal that it fit a pattern by Pruitt of planning foreign travel with significant help from outside interests, including lobbyists, Republican donors and conservative activists.

After taking office last year, Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit and urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel, according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency deliberations. Pruitt then enlisted well-connected friends and political allies to help make the trips happen.

Ongoing allegations of Pruitt’s attempts to the EPA into his person bank and travel agency are astounding.  They keep oozing out of his swamp.  From EWG: ‘Reports: Before Confirmed, Scott Pruitt Wanted EPA Office, Private Phone Booth in Okla.’

Congressional leaders are demanding information from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt over allegations he wanted taxpayers to open an office in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., before he was confirmed by the Senate.

Democrats on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent letters this week to Pruitt and the head of the Government Services Administration seeking all records that may show there was an attempt to find an office in Tulsa.

The letters say that in early 2017, Ryan Jackson – now Pruitt’s chief of staff but then a top congressional aide – wanted the GSA to look for office space in Tulsa, 250 miles from the EPA regional headquarters in Dallas. Jackson asked that the office include a private, secure phone booth, like the one Pruitt later spent $43,000 to install at EPA headquarters in Washington.

“It appears that even before he was confirmed, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had dreams of dismantling programs to protect air, water and kids from pollution from the comforts of an office in his hometown,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “What better place to have a secure phone booth to receive instructions from the energy lobby, and avoid the pesky expertise of agency scientists and lawyers?”

“Each day brings new evidence of Pruitt’s obsession to embellish the trappings of his office and adorn his days with pricey perquisites, taxpayers be damned. Historians will make note of Pruitt’s record of fleecing the public and attacking public health as signature ‘accomplishments’ of the Trump presidency.”

Trump appears unwilling to deal with Pruitt.  This is from VOX: ‘Why Trump would really, really rather not fire Scott Pruitt. The EPA administrator has given the White House most of the few policy wins it has to date.’  That’s rather disturbing.

Scott Pruitt’s tenure as head of the Environmental Protection Agency is now deeply tainted by a stunning number of alleged ethical and legal violations. There are at least 10 investigations into potential violations like his $43,000 phone booth, his 20-person security detail, and his housing deal with a lobbyist’s wife. And fallout, like the resignation and new congressional scrutiny of the head of his security team, Pasquale Perrotta (just reported by ABC News), continues.

To some Democrats in the House and Senate, environmental groups who’ve launched the Boot Pruitt campaign, and former top ethics officials, what should happen now is very clear: Pruitt should resign.

“I think your actions are an embarrassment to President Trump and distract from the EPA’s ability to effectively carry out the president’s mission,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) during one of two House hearings on Pruitt last week. (A whistleblower, by the way, is now saying Pruitt lied during the hearings.)

Yet in an administration afflicted with unprecedented turnover, Pruitt has remained startlingly resilient.

His subservience to Trump appears to be one reason why he has dodged the ax. “People are not people to [Trump], they are instruments of his ego,” Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter on Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, told the New York Times. “And when they serve his ego, they survive, and when they don’t, they pass into the night.”

Pruitt must be impeached if Trump refuses to deal with him. This from Forbes.

No self-respecting prosecutor would be proud of winning a shoplifting conviction for a suspected murderer. But that’s almost exactly what’s happening in the congressional investigation of Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Last week, lawmakers grilled Pruitt for renting a ridiculously cheap luxury condo from the wife of a lobbyist trying to get EPA approval for a client’s project. They asked why he reassigned investigators of criminal violations of environmental laws to his personal security detail.

It was all about the “appearance” of corruption. But the truth is that these petty corruptions pale in comparison to Pruitt’s actual policy record at the EPA.

The EPA is a science agency. It’s supposed to consult closely with scientists and base its decisions on rigorous evidence. While adherence to this principle has never been perfect, under Pruitt’s leadership it’s been trashed beyond recognition.

Even as he was about to face his congressional questioning, Pruitt announced a deceptive science “transparency” initiative. It’s a proposed rule stating that only scientific studies which are reproducible, and in which all underlying data are publicly available, can be used as the basis for regulation.

It sounds unobjectionable. But it would end up keeping a whole lot of public health data—on the impact of pollution, pesticides, or climate change, for example—out of the EPA’s hands.

For obvious ethical reasons, many public health studies can’t be repeated—not if they’d entail intentionally exposing people to toxins—and raw data on individuals’ health histories usually can’t be disclosed. Several hundred scientists pointed out these facts in a letter to Pruitt, but Pruitt doesn’t care what scientists think.

It gets really egregious when you look at what kind of data political appointees at the EPA want to exempt from the rule: proprietary corporate data, according to internal discussions obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The proposed rule provides wide discretion to the EPA administrator—and only the administrator—to grant exemptions to the transparency requirement on a case-by-case basis. And Pruitt seems far more inclined to grant those exceptions to polluting industries, not

So many policies and actions of modern Republicans basically are aimed at killing every one.  They are either extremely shorted sided or actually believe that they will some how escape the karma they’re bringing on to the planet and country.  It might be that they are simply a cult of mass destruction since so many of them are whack-a-do Dominionists and actively seek an ends times.

They are bringing on an end times or a dystopia or whatever it is that I used to watch and read about in those old books.  I’m not seeing a Star Trek future in any of this.  In any case, we must stop this administration before these things cannot be undone. Enough of what’s gone on recently appears irreversible as it is.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads: Trump Has Major Meltdown on Fox and Friends

Good Morning!!

The pressure is building on Trump. This morning he had a major meltdown on Fox and Friends. It was so bad that the hosts couldn’t hide their embarrassment and they finally had to cut off the call. Trump publicly accused James Comey and Andrew McCabe of committing crimes and for the first time he said the words “Stormy Daniels” and admitted that Michael Cohen was representing him (Trump) in Cohen’s dealings with Daniels. He also admitted that he spent the night in Moscow in 2013, despite what he told Comey. Finally, he said that he wasn’t going to keep his hands off the DOJ much longer.

Yahoo News: Trump sounds off on Comey, Cohen, Kanye and more in freewheeling ‘Fox and Friends’ interview.

President Trump called into his favorite morning show for a wide-ranging interview during which an animated — and, at times, angry — Trump weighed in on several scandals swirling around his administration. Chief among them: special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.

The president chastised the Justice Department for greenlighting the Russia probe into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia rather than pursuing a separate investigation into former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“Our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won’t, our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” Trump said. “There is no collusion with me with Russia and everyone knows it.”

On Michael Cohen:

Asked about the extent to which Cohen handles his legal affairs, Trump characterized his involvement as “a tiny, tiny little fraction.” But there was a notable exception.

“He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” Trump said, marking the first time he had ever spoken the porn actress’ name publicly. The disclosure also raised further questions about his earlier assertion that he had no knowledge that Cohen paid the porn actress $130,000 in hush money during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Comey:

“He leaked classified information to get a special counsel and leaked the memos which are classified — the memos were about me and he didn’t write those memos accurately. He wrote a lot of phony stuff,” Trump said as the Fox & Friends hosts looked on in silence. “For instance, I went to Russia for a day or so, a day or two, because I own the Miss Universe pageant, so I went there to watch it because it was near Moscow. So I go to Russia, now, I didn’t go there, everybody knows the logs are there the planes are there. He said I didn’t stay there a night. Of course I stayed there. I stayed there a very short period of time but of course I stayed there. Well his memo said I left immediately, I never said that. I never said I left immediately.”

Trump also said of Comey: “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”

Here’s his rant on McCabe.

I hope McCabe’s lawyer was listening, because I think he has a case for defamation.

Think Progress: Trump made 2 costly legal errors during unhinged Fox & Friends interview.

First, Trump claimed that Cohen — his longtime personal lawyer and fixer — only represented him in “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work….

Trump’s comments come a day after a lawyer representing him told a federal judge that Trump himself “is ready to help recommend what materials seized from his personal attorney that relate to him should be withheld from federal investigators because of attorney-client privilege,” according to the Associated Press.

The day after the raid on his longtime personal attorney, Trump suggested that it shouldn’t even have happened because of attorney-client privilege.

But Trump’s claim that Cohen only deals with “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work will likely complicate his lawyers’ efforts to shield seized documents from federal investigators in prosecutors.

The second legal goof:

Trump acknowledged during the Fox & Friends interview that Cohen did represent him during his dealings with Daniels. Trump recently claimed he had no knowledge of the payment at the time.

“Michael would represent me and represent me on some things,” Trump said. “He represented me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me. He represented me and you know, from what I see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

But Cohen’s story about the secret Daniels hush payment — which may have been illegal if it was meant to help Trump’s campaign — is that he made it from his personal funds, without Trump being looped in at all. Trump’s acknowledgement that Cohen “represented me” in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal” undermines the repeated public claims of his own lawyer.

Read more details at the link above. Also see this piece at The Guardian: Trump admits Michael Cohen was his lawyer in Stormy Daniels matter.

You can watch a long clip from the interview at this Business Insider link. If you can’t stand to listen to Trump’s voice, at least watch it with the sound muted to see the embarrassed looks on the faces of the Fox hosts.

Here’s what Trump whisperer Maggie Haberman had to say about Trump’s meltdown.

And here we go. The government’s attorneys quoted Trump’s Fox and Friends rant in their filing for the court hearing in the Michael Cohen case today at noon.

Click on that link to read the entire document.

One more related story from The New York Times: Michael Cohen to Take Fifth Amendment in Stormy Daniels Lawsuit.

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, will invoke his Fifth Amendment right in a lawsuit filed against the president by Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels.

Mr. Cohen’s decision, disclosed Wednesday in a court filing in California, where the suit was filed, came a day before a federal judge in Manhattan was set to hold a hearing regarding materials seized from Mr. Cohen during an F.B.I. raid earlier this month.

Mr. Cohen cited the Manhattan investigation in his filing on Wednesday, saying that, if called as a witness in Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit, “I will assert my 5th Amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.” [….]

Citing the Fifth Amendment in the Clifford case allows Mr. Cohen to avoid being deposed and revealing sensitive information in the more important criminal investigation.

In Trump “I know the best people” news, The White House has withdrawn the nomination of Ronny Jackson to run the VA. The Washington Post:

The White House withdrew the nomination of Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician, to lead the Veterans Affairs Department on Thursday after lawmakers went public with a torrent of accusations leveled against him by nearly two dozen current and former colleagues from the White House medical staff.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Dr. Jackson announced that he was withdrawing his name for consideration to be the secretary of Veteran Affairs.

“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Dr. Jackson said in a statement provided by the White House press office.

He said that the charges against him were “completely false and fabricated.”

Within minutes of the withdrawal, President Trump lamented the loss of his nomination, and said that Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, would “have a big price to pay” for undercutting Dr. Jackson.

Happening right now: Scott Pruitt is testifying before Congress. He faces two hearings today.

Vox: Congress is grilling Scott Pruitt about his ethical breaches.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will face a double whammy of hearings on Capitol Hill Thursday that could make or break his career at the EPA. You can watch the C-SPAN livestream here.

The hearings were originally intended to give Pruitt the chance to pitch his agency’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. But members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, including some Republicans, are expected to grill Pruitt over his growing list of alleged ethical lapses.

A tsunami of accusations of improper dealings has emerged since Pruitt’s last trip to the Hill in January, from using sirens to get to dinner reservations to a sweetheart condo deal with a lobbyist to ousting staffers who questioned his luxury travel. These allegations have led to investigations from Congress, the White House, and government watchdogs. The Government Accountability Office already found that the $43,000 phone booth in Pruitt’s office broke the law.

And though his prepared statement for the Energy and Commerce Committee completely ignores the controversies around him, the New York Times reported that Pruitt is preparing for a confrontation with a set of talking points on his long list of scandals. He will argue, among other things, that he flew first class based on recommendations from his security staff and that he wasn’t involved in the decision to bypass the White House to get massive raises for two close aides.NB

Meanwhile, EPA employees protested outside the agency’s headquarters on Wednesday, decrying budget cuts alongside activists and lawmakers who want to “Boot Pruitt” out of office.

NBC News’ First Read suggests that Trump’s biggest problem might be the competency question.

This morning, President Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs withdrew his nomination after new allegations against him surfaced. Today, Congress is expected to grillthe president’s EPA administrator over alleged ethical lapses. And the president’s personal lawyer and fixer is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

 Yes, it’s chaos and controversy, which we’ve constantly chronicled here. But it’s also a matter of competency. According to this month’s NBC/WSJ poll, a majority of Americans — 56 percent — said that Trump’s administration isn’t competent, including 39 percent who said it isn’t competent at all. By contrast, 43 percent said it was competent, including 16 percent who said “very competent.”

To put those numbers into perspective, 50 percent of American said Barack Obama’s administration was competent in June 2014 (so after the Obamacare website crash during his second term), and 53 percent said George W. Bush’s administration was competent in March 2006 (after Hurricane Katrina).

So for all the potential dangers to Trump’s presidency — the Russia investigation, historically low approval ratings, Democrats possibly winning the House (and Senate) in November — the biggest could very well be the competency question.

Indeed, majorities of women (61 percent), seniors (58 percent), millennials (57 percent), independents (57 percent) and men (51 percent) said the Trump administration wasn’t too competent or not competent at all. Even whites were split down the middle — 50-50.

That’s a big problem.

That’s all I have for you this morning. I know I’ve only touched on a small part of what’s happening. So . . . what stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: White Privilege and Trump’s “Best People”

Good Morning!!

White privilege is a powerful thing, and here’s some proof.

WGN9 Chicago: Waffle House shooting suspect held on $2M bail.

A man accused of killing four people with an AR-15 rifle at a Tennessee Waffle House has been formally charged with four counts of criminal homicide and is being held on $2 million bail.

Court records say 29-year-old Travis Reinking was charged Monday. He is due in court Wednesday.

Police say Reinking was wearing a green jacket and nothing else Sunday when he stormed the restaurant in southeast Nashville and opened fire with the military assault-style rifle, first in the parking lot and then inside. Police credited a quick-thinking customer who wrestled the gun away from preventing more bloodshed.

Authorities say Reinking fled the scene after the scuffle with the restaurant patron. The suspect was captured Monday after an intense manhunt with local and federal police officers that lasted more than a day.

And yet, the judge gave him bail. Let’s hope his father (who reportedly returned the assault weapon to his son after the Secret Service took it away during an arrest at the White House) doesn’t raise the money to get him released.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a golf club called the police on four black women members for allegedly playing too slowly. AP:

“I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said….

The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

Then the police arrived, but they took no action. Read more at the link.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly told his followers that he knew “the best people” and would hire the very best to work for his administration. That’s not working out so well.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt is still hanging in there, but for how much longer?

CNBC: Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt faces public grilling this week as GOP support erodes.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reports to Capitol Hill on Thursday for a pair of hearings on his agency’s 2018 budget proposal, but the embattled Trump deputy is likely to face as many questions about his personal conduct as EPA’s spending priorities.

Since the hearings were announced, revelations about Pruitt’s rental of a Washington apartment linked to an energy lobbyist have sparked a near-daily trickle of reports detailing alleged ethics abuses and lavish spending that have put the EPA chief’s political future in peril.

In just the last few weeks, Pruitt has been accused of retaliating against EPA staff, arranging official trips to fulfill his personal travel whims and orchestrating pay raises for aides in defiance of the White House. The number of investigations into his conduct has expanded to five, and the government’s top watchdog determined last week that the agency violated the law by installing a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in Pruitt’s office.

The hearings could be a make-or-break moment for Pruitt, who has already sat through a combative Fox News interview that reportedly bruised his standing in the administration. Pruitt goes before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on Environment in the morning and the Committee on Appropriation’s subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies in the afternoon.

And, according to Bloomberg, the White House is telling Republicans not to defend Pruitt.

White House officials are cautioning Republican lawmakers and other conservative allies to temper their defense of Scott Pruitt, according to two people familiar with the discussions, in a sign that administration support for the embattled EPA chief may be waning.

The warnings come as several top GOP lawmakers have stepped forward to publicly criticize Pruitt in recent days, marking a dramatic turn of fortune for one of the most conservative members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet who has been heralded for dismantling Obama-era regulations.

Republicans are now sharpening their criticisms about Pruitt amid a revelation that he met at least once with the lobbyist whose wife rented him a bedroom on Capitol Hill.

Last night the news broke that White House physician Ronny Jackson, Trump’s pick to lead the VA, is in trouble.

The New York Times: Ronny Jackson, Trump’s V.A. Nominee, Faces Claims of Overprescription and Hostile Work Environment.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is examining allegations that President Trump’s nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House physician and allowed the overprescribing of drugs, according to congressional officials briefed on the committee’s work.

They have also received claims that Dr. Ronny L. Jackson drank too much on the job.

The allegations, which have been under investigation since last week, forced the postponement of Dr. Jackson’s confirmation hearing, planned for this Wednesday as senators scrutinize the nominee’s time leading the White House medical staff. Officials familiar with the allegations against Dr. Jackson declined to offer precise details but said that they suggest a pattern of behavior, not just one or two isolated incidents.

How do you “drink too much on the job” at the White House? Shouldn’t any drinking on the job be forbidden?

Dr. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy who serves as the White House physician, was already expected to face difficult questioning during his testimony before the committee. Last month, Mr. Trump fired his first Veterans Affairs secretary, David J. Shulkin, an experienced hospital administrator and veteran of the V.A. medical system, and then chose Dr. Jackson largely out of personal affinity.

The White House did little or no vetting of his background before announcing his nomination on Twitter. Before serving as a White House physician, Dr. Jackson had deployed as an emergency medicine physician to Taqaddum, Iraq, during the Iraq war.

The Senate only received paperwork from the Trump administration formalizing Dr. Jackson’s nomination last week.

Read more at the NYT. Do you suppose this job could have been a bribe to get Jackson to lie about Trump’s height and weight and the state of his health? Or did Trump knew about the drinking and use it as blackmail?

And then there’s Mike Pompeo, current Director of the CIA and nominee for Secretary of State. Frankly, I think this guy is terrifying; and, unfortunately, it looks like he’ll be confirmed. Here’s some background on Pompeo and his scary religious beliefs:

Michelle Golberg at Slate, January 2017: “This Evil Is All Around Us.” Trump’s pick for the CIA, Mike Pompeo, sees foreign policy as a vehicle for holy war.

In June 2015, Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Kansas congressman, headlined a “God and Country Rally” at Wichita’s Summit Church. “To worship our lord and celebrate our nation at the same place is not only our right, it is our duty,” he began. Pompeo’s speech was a mishmash of domestic culture war callouts and dark warnings about the danger of radical Islam. He cited an inflammatory prayer that a pastor named the Rev. Joe Wright once delivered before the Kansas State Legislature: “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” He lamented government efforts to “rip faith from our schools” and then segued immediately into a discussion of the jihadi threat: “This evil is all around us.” Pompeo concluded by describing politics as “a never-ending struggle … until the rapture.” [….]

Like Trump, Pompeo has been a fierce critic of efforts to rein in the CIA’s torture program and a champion of keeping Guantanamo Bay open. While in Congress, he was a frequent guest on the radio show of famously paranoid Frank Gaffney, a man disinvited from the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference after claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated its parent organization, the American Conservative Union. (In the Trump era, Gaffney has been brought in from the cold: After the election, the New York Times reported that he was informally advising Trump’s inner circle on national security hires.) Gaffney once called Pompeo “one of the most intelligent men I know in public life,” and the two see the world similarly. In February 2015, they spoke about President Obama’s use of the term “violent extremism” instead of “radical Islam,” a linguistic choice that some on the right see as a secret message of solidarity with jihad. Gaffney suggested that Obama might be conveying “an affinity” for ISIS’s cause, if not all its tactics: “the raising up of the Muslim Ummah, a grand rebalancing of America’s role in the world.” Pompeo relied, “Frank, every place you stare at the president’s policies and statements, you see what you just described … every policy of this administration has treated America as if we are the problem and not the solution.”

Like Gaffney, Pompeo believes that radical networks have wormed their way into every corner of the country. “There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways,” he said on Gaffney’s show. “They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.”

From Vox, March 15, 2018: Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, talks about politics as a battle of good and evil.

That Pompeo is an evangelical Christian is, on its face, not particularly notable; 25 percentof Americans are. But Pompeo’s specific brand of evangelical Christianity, with its insistence on seeing Muslim-Christian relations as an apocalyptic holy war, makes him an unnerving choice for such a senior foreign policy position.

During his tenure as CIA director, and before that as a member of the House of Representatives, Pompeo has consistently used language that casts the war on terrorism as a cosmic divine battle of good and evil. He’s referred to Islamic terrorists as destined to“continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”

Pompeo clarified that only a small percentage of Muslims were, in fact, terrorists (although in a 2013 speech, he called them potentially complicit in terrorism). Still, his language echoes a wider point: that the war against terrorism can be fought, in part, with Christian faith.

In other speeches, he’s characterized American domestic politics as a similarly apocalyptic struggle between good and evil, in which other (non-Christian) faiths and political views were signs of cultural decay. He cited a sermon previously delivered by Pastor Joe Wright in front of the Kansas state legislature: “‘America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.’” Sources inside the CIA told Foreign Policy that Pompeo’s speeches within the CIA are no less loaded with explicitly religious language.

Please go read the rest.

Now, what else is happening? What stories are you following today?