Tag Archives: Trump

Energy Sec. Perry warms to coal and old nukes for Trump; thumb on the scale for carbon emissions & toxic waste

 

While the drama between Donald Trump and his Secretary of State play out in the headlines, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is hard at work on what is being called an unprecedented proposal to prop up the coal industry and nuclear power plants that are at risk of closing.Trumpnperry

Following Trump’s goal to shore up aging coal and nuclear power plant operations, Sec. Perry is rapidly trying to make significant changes to the rules the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) follows to regulate power markets.

Specifically thehill.com reports:  Perry wants to increase the payments to troubled coal and nuclear plants by requiring that certain regional electric grid operations pay power plants their actual costs of operating plus a “fair rate of return.”

It would be a significant shift from the bidding process now allowed and would almost certainly raise electricity costs for consumers, critics say of the plan.

But Perry’s idea has garnered significant praise from coal and nuclear industry leaders, who say it could revive plants they say deserve to be paid more. 

They argue that because these plants build up larger fuel supplies than competitors producing electricity from wind and solar power, they should be paid more. 

Energy Secretary Perry is not only attempting to rush the rule change through a process that could normally take year to write and even longer to enact.*  Perry’s proposed changes may also violate FERC’s legal authority which by law [… ] centers on the responsibility to ensure that wholesale power rates are “just and reasonable.” 

Any new regulation would have to demonstrate that without the higher payments for coal and nuclear, rates are unjust or unreasonable. If it fails to do so, a federal court could overturn the new regulation. 

“FERC does not have the authority to just decide that a particular source of generation gets paid differently now because Rick Perry requested it,” said Justin Gundlach, a climate change law fellow at Columbia University Law School.

[*It should be noted that the Obama era Clean Power Plan rules took year to write and don’t enforce emission reduction until 2022.]

When nominated to lead the Dept of Energy, former Texas governor and presidential candidate Perry seemed to have little idea of the massive scope of the agency’s responsibilities. Vanity Fair wrote in an article this summer: Since Perry was confirmed, his role has been ceremonial and bizarre. He pops up in distant lands and tweets in praise of this or that D.O.E. program while his masters inside the White House create budgets to eliminate those very programs. His sporadic public communications have had in them something of the shell-shocked grandmother […]

He seems to have warmed to one task putting his thumb on the scale for carbon emissions and toxic waste while carrying out climate change denier- in- chief Donald Trump’s orders.

VTGOP committee member: “people […] confused as to what the march is all about.”

twofacesGOP3When The Atlantic Magazine reached out to GOP state and national committee members for a reaction to Trump’s handling of the violent events at Charlottesville, Vermont Republican National committeeman Jay Shepard offered this contention about the white supremist riot: “In all mob scenes there are people who just happen to be there, who aren’t leaders of organizations and are just confused as to what the march is all about.”

Yes, who among us hasn’t been confused “as to what the march [a Nazi riot]   is all about?”Although, you know, for many people seeing marchers wearing white hoods and flying swastika flags might have been the obvious tell.

[…]The Atlantic reached out to 146 Republican state party chairs and national committee members for reaction to Trump’s handling of the events. We asked each official two questions: Are you satisfied with the president’s response? And do you approve of his comment that there were “some very fine people” who marched alongside the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis?  

The vast majority refused to comment on the record, or simply met the questions with silence. Of the 146 GOP officials contacted, just 22 offered full responses—and only seven expressed any kind of criticism or disagreement with Trump’s handling of the episode. (Those seven GOP leaders represent New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, North Dakota, Alaska, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.) The rest came to the president’s defense, either with statements of support or attempts at justification

Almost a year ago I compared the VTGOP’s mixed enthusiasm for then-candidate Trump to a “mullet” hair style. That is the 1970’s and 80’s haircut style (infamous by the 1990’s) showed the public one “thing” (face) in the front view, yet show a different style or “thing” (another face) in the back: “all business in the front and all party in the back.” In the case of the VTGOP’s emerging mullet, all good ol’ imaginary GOP moderation in the front and just totally Trumpism in the back.

Now the VTGOP is still styling the political equivalent of a “mullet,” i.e., a two-faced approach with Phil Scott sporting some neatly trimmed criticism of President Trump’s “very fine people” remark up front, and Committeeman Jay Shepard showing the rough side in the back. It must be the look they prefer while strutting around under the circus tent.

Beyond the margin with Trump

Donald Trump started the week by continuing a prolonged twitter attack on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Later he tweeted a ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces then made a widely criticized politically divisive speech to a national gathering of Boy Scouts. Soon came an on-the-record obscene and insane rant by his new communications chief Anthony Scaramucci. Quickly following the Mooch’s rant, Trump fired  his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, and replaced him with the DHS Secretary, former General John Kelly. Woven into all that  chaos was the dramatic GOP loss in the Senate on a series of ACA repeal bills Trump supported.margincenter2

In reaction to all this chaos, The Donald turned on his own party and tweeted that the GOP “looked like fools” and threatened not to follow the Obamacare (ACA) law and to stop mandated payments to insurance companies. He left Washington, traveled to an event on Long Island and suggested to a gathering of police officers that they “…don’t be too nice” to alleged immigrant criminalsa comment widely perceived as a presidential call encouraging police violence. Here’s a link to a rundown of most of the events from the Financial Times

Watching this numbingly frightful week unfold, I remembered whatwhen the shock of Trump’s victory was still newseemed a worst case prediction of what was to come .

On November 29, 2016, only a few short weeks after the election, Rick Perlstein was interviewed by Sky News. Perlstein was a biographer of Nixon and a longtime observer of the American conservative movement, but his interview was cut short by the Murdoch-owned news channel. Although he never got the chance to make his comments on-air, Perlstein published his observations in the Washington Spectator.

None of these things [Trump’s unrealistic campaign promises], however, are possible.

So what happens next? His worshipful admirers cannot blame Trump for the stymying of this agenda: Trump is a god. It must be the people he told them to blame who are actually responsible. The lying media. The quisling Democrats. The sellout Republican establishment. Mexicans, of course. The more Trumpism fails, the more, and more violently, scapegoats will be blamed. And only some kind of stalwart resistance will stand between America and fascism.[emphasis added]

Remember, Perlstein planned to say these things in his on-air interview a mere 3 weeks after the election.

Here’s how he closed his piece: Maybe they [Sky News] didn’t like the direction I was heading; Sky News, after all, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, same as Fox. Or maybe I’m just being conspiratorial: Trump may soon be doing that to all of us. The margin has become the center. Paranoia strikes deep.

Looking back at this prediction from today’s perspective, six months further on in the Trump presidency, we have to say:  without a doubt, Perlstein called it. Except that we might say it’s the fringe, not the margin that is the center for now. If Trump was a flat-earther, we’d all be in danger of falling off the edge.

H.R. McMaster shreds the Honor Code

You are undoubtedly familiar with the Honor Code H.R. McMaster was required to adhere to when he was a cadet at West Point. Everyone knows “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” A seemingly simple rule that anyone can comprehend and follow, but you may not know the rest of it. In this case it is clear beyond clear that McMaster violated the Code by quibbling.

LYING: Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead. The term for this kind of evasive, misleading statement is “quibbling”, and it is considered a violation of the Code.

In the administration’s effort to discredit the report of the president revealing sensitive classified intelligence to Russian officials in the White House, they had McMaster make this statement:

The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. … At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. … I was in the room. It didn’t happen.

This was a clear attempt to lead the listener to conclude that the press story was false, but it did so in what has been termed a classic non-denial denial. He categorically denied certain actions, discussing intelligence sources or methods and disclosing military operations that were not already publicly known. By listening to his statement we are expected to conclude that the story reported by the Post and others was false and shouldn’t be relied upon. If you look more closely, though, you see that the stories in question never claimed that he discussed sources and methods or military operations.

In other words, in order to give the false impression that the Post story was wrong McMaster denied facts that were never alleged. That is, he told a partial truth and used vague or ambiguous language with the intent to mislead.

I don’t know if a military officer remains bound to the Honor Code when he is no longer a cadet, but at a minimum he violated the most basic principles that those seeking a commission in the armed forces are expected to follow.

Can you possibly argue that this can be tolerated?

Thank you, Donald Trump!

Someone once observed that a faux pas is when someone accidentally blurts out the truth.

The short-fingered vulgarian did that today, and it caused such a reaction that he had to say he didn’t mean it.

It was a discussion of abortion, and particularly whether the extreme right could trust Trump’s commitment to the anti-abortion cause. After all, he is on record years ago being pro-choice, right? So he was being interviewed by Chris Matthews, and Matthews kept pushing the anti-abortion to the logical conclusion: if abortion is illegal, should women who get abortions be punished for it?

It makes total sense. Anti-choicers claim to believe that aborting a fetus is exactly the same as killing a living human being. If it is, then anyone who does it should be prosecuted for murder, right?

And what’s more, even if you don’t pull the trigger but you hire someone to do it you also get prosecuted for murder.

And Trump went along with the whole thing. For someone who is ” very smart, really very, very smart, believe me,” he apparently wasn’t smart enough to see where this was leading, or the likely consequences of this argument (kind of a habit with him, no?), so he plunged on ahead.

“The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said.

“For the woman?” Matthews said.

Trump said, “Yes,” and nodded. Matthews pressed further: 10 days or 10 years? Trump said he didn’t know, and that it’s “complicated.”

“It will have to be determined,” Trump said.

Of course, by the end of the day he was walking back his statements because the anti-choicers had called him to heel. They say that they never supported punishment for the woman who obtains an abortion, and I suspect that this is true for several reasons.

First, it’s bad PR. I continue to believe that the anti-choice movement is composed primarily of people who think they don’t know anyone who has had an abortion.  Still, they realize they’re out there, and they know they would seem heartless if they were calling for women who get abortions to go to prison, so they have decided not to pursue that remedy.

Second, and this is one area in which they are actually telling the truth, they consider the women who obtain abortions to be victims. Patronizing doesn’t even cover it. What they are really saying is that women do not have moral agency, so they are not responsible for their actions. Therefore, why prosecute them?

Finally, and they will never tell you this, deep down they really don’t consider fetuses full human beings the way they claim. They say they do, but they recognize that even when it’s a painful choice it’s not the same as murder. If they did, to be morally consistent they would have to push to prosecute the women for murder, just as they would like to prosecute the doctors.

So at the end of the day we owe Trump something. It won’t happen often, but on Wednesday he blurted out the truth and exposed the malevolent core of the anti-choice movement.

So thanks, Donald. You probably won’t hear it from me again.

A Pox on Both Their Houses

Now that Donald Trump‘s suit of alligator armor has suffered a rent in Iowa, I feel it is safe to say that on one thing we agree: Ted Cruz’s campaign is guilty of fraud.

No matter how you parse the story, Ted Cruz’s tightly run campaign dispersed a false story to Iowa Caucus goers, that Ben Carson was stepping down and his supporters should switch their vote to Cruz. The record of communications clearly demonstrates that this was an attempt to move voters over to Cruz by deliberate deception.

The Cruz campaign attempted to hand-off the blame to CNN. Fortunately, in this era of wall-to-wall records, it’s perfectly clear that the Cruz campaign took the legitimate story carried on CNN that Cruz was not flying to New Hampshire that night but rather to Florida “for a change of clothes,” and transformed it into a boldface lie.

That goes well beyond ‘dirty tricks,’ of which Donald Trump has no doubt played plenty.

Cruz has apologized to Ben Carson, and it is questionable how much of an effect the ruse had on the outcome; but defrauding voters is ‘voter fraud’…something which Republicans are always allegedly combatting in their efforts to suppress votes by minorities.

How is this kind of voter fraud consistent with Ted Cruz’s supercilious holier-than-thou Christian values?

Cruz’s surrogates are dismissing Donald Trump’s call for redress as the predictable whining of a sore loser. ‘True enough; but it’s not as simple as that.

What happened to that great Christian value of accepting responsibility for your actions? Apparently, if you have the credentials of a certified pious zealot, you are entitled to a ‘get-outta-hell’ card every now and again. Just say ‘sorry’ and you’re good to go.

I hope Trump does sue Cruz’s campaign. By all rights, he might just win that one…and he does love to win.

Bernie’s revolution had a promising night.

Last night’s Iowa primary was a wild ride as befit the first official vote in this extraordinary year.

Even though cable news awarded the win to Clinton, the clearness of victory most certainly remains questionable and must be bitter-sweet for the once presumptive nominee.

Establishment pundits on the same cable networks still insist Bernie doesn’t stand a chance against Hillary when minorities are factored in, but his long-time supporters know how compelling his arguments are among almost any demographic once he is able to reach them on their home turf.

Conventional wisdom treats minorities as monolithic voting blocs, likely to herd in one accustomed direction. When you think about it, that’s a pretty demeaning assumption. If we are learning anything from this election cycle, it is the folly that lies in making assumptions.

The only question is whether there is sufficient time left for Bernie to make contact with all those voters in crucial southern states who are just now becoming familiar with his name.

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Bernie is likely to get his revolution in the long run, if his support among young people is anything to go by.

Last night was far more of a moral victory for Bernie Sanders than it was for Hillary Clinton.

With Iowa, he has already proven that, even after Citizens United, a principled candidate relying solely on small donations can still be viable against the kind of money Hillary Clinton is able to summon from establishment and corporate interests.

It must be hugely gratifying for a man who has devoted his long political career to fighting for the little guy, often suffering ridicule for his idealism.

There is an overarching theme of populism driving both the Democratic and Republican primary races. Make no mistake though; while some glib pundits suggest they are drawing from the same pool of discontent, the theme plays in a wildly different key on either side of the two party divide. Suggestions, by the same pundits, that Bernie supporters could ultimately be recruited by Trump in the event of a Hillary nomination, demonstrate how clueless the mainstream media is about the values of Bernie voters. This is hardly surprising when you consider how little attention they paid to his candidacy throughout the summer and fall.

Bernie Sanders’ revolutionary message appeals to our evolved and ‘better’ selves, while that of Donald Trump appeals to the primitive and selfish id, which instinctively responds with an adrenaline rush to fear and prejudice.

The same kind of anti-minority, nationalistic drum-beat that recruited God-fearing German citizens to join Hitler’s brownshirts is calling the extreme right flank of the Republican party to renounce the traditional American values of personal liberty, tolerance and generosity that underly our constitution.

No matter who ends up the Democratic nominee, to imagine Bernie’s followers could ever fall-in behind Donald Trump is truly laughable.