Donald Trump’s ‘America Last’ energy policy

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Donald Trump displays an executive order reviving the Keystone XL pipeline.

With President Donald Trump’s revival of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the gauntlet has been thrown down between Americans who care for the environment and the crony capitalists who want to pillage it. Supporters who gravitated toward Trump’s economic message applauded his executive orders, but the pipelines have little to do with job creation. Far from following through on campaign rhetoric, Donald Trump’s energy policy can best be described as America Last.

Americans will suffer the consequences of these pipelines. When they break, as pipelines routinely do – 140,000 gallons of oil leaked in Iowa the day after Trump signed the executive orders – the spills will contaminate American land and American water. When the few remaining traces of our beloved public lands are given away  by the GOP and ravaged by corporate interests, Americans will live in an uglier world deprived of wilderness and natural beauty. Continue reading

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Crony capitalism goes into overdrive as Trump resurrects pipelines

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Oil giant Bechtel lays a pipeline in Idaho.

Capitalists don’t come any cronier than America’s new president. The latest example, however, is particularly egregious, destructive, and obvious. Reversing some of the most hard-fought gains of environmental activists in the last several years, Donald Trump issued an executive order to push the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines forward. Continue reading

“Alternative facts” becomes part of American political discourse

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If you say there are more people on the right side than on the left, it isn’t a lie – it’s a provable falsehood, an untruth, or an alternative fact.

One of George Carlin’s best bits was about euphemisms and how they obscure meaning. A truly stunning example of this took place on NBC over the weekend when prominent Donald Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway went on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Continue reading

Kudos to the senators who played hardball with Trump’s corporate cabinet

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Billionaire charter school advocate Betsy DeVos made headlines for saying guns in public schools were needed to defend against grizzly bear attacks.

President Trump’s most prominent TV surrogate, Kellyanne Conway, went on FOX News last week to complain about the treatment of her boss’s corporate cabinet picks at the hands of Democratic senators who grilled them on conflicts of interest, ethical beliefs, qualifications, and philosophy on the role of their departments. As with any important job, the nominees were asked difficult questions. Or, as Conway put it, the senators were “humiliating and trying to embarrass qualified men and women who just wish to serve this nation.”

Many of the videos have gone viral on social media. Questions from Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken and others caused Trump’s appointees to stumble. Betsy DeVos, the multibillionaire private school advocate who Trump tapped to lead the Department of Education, had several embarrassing moments. But these were hardly the fault of the senators, nor should the senators be ashamed of leading any candidate into them. Bad answers to valid questions on issues Americans care about caused the embarrassment. Continue reading

Enough with the Russian hacking story

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Whether they have a formal agreement or not, Trump’s agenda certainly aligns with Putin’s.

Shortly before his first press conference as president-elect, a story broke that Donald Trump was being blackmailed by Russia with financial data and a sex tape filmed in a Moscow hotel. It was only the latest unverified scandal in the ongoing saga of Trump’s Russia connection which, despite scant evidence for many of the claims, has dominated mainstream coverage of our post-Trump world. Often the reports have come at the expense of adequately exposing greater evils being perpetrated in plain sight. Continue reading

America is about to not have a government

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An empty House of Representatives photographed during a recess.

When Donald Trump takes office in January, real estate and entertainment will occupy the White House, Big Oil will occupy the State Department, Wall Street will occupy the Department of Treasury, fast food will run the Labor Department, and privatizers will be entrusted with public education and criminal justice. In addition, Congress and a substantial majority of statehouses will be controlled by a party whose defining philosophy is the elimination of public institutions. For all intents and purposes, America is about to not have a government – certainly not one recognizable as democratic. Continue reading