Have EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s Nine Scandal Lives Run Out?

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“As Comey and Cohen commanded front and center media attention this month, the bombastic corruption of Scott Pruitt’s EPA tenure receded into the background. But in today’s online edition of The New York Times, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma is back in a big way. In a story entitled Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money, reporters Steve Eder and Hiroko Tabuchi point out that the EPA Chief’s taste for the publicly-financed good life is nothing new. They write:

‘An examination of Mr. Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past…Lobbyists and others in Oklahoma state politics who encountered Mr. Pruitt recalled him as a tough competitor who always had his eye on a higher office….while others said privately that he had exuded a sense of entitlement — that rules did not apply to him.’

Pruitt’s natural gifts for graft and lawlessness made him a natural fit to serve in the Trump administration. However the EPA head has generated so much sustained bad press, the Grifter-in-Chief felt compelled to tell his guy to ‘cool it. Yes, really.

In this volatile era, trying to predict what happens next is a fool’s errand. But I believe Pruitt’s time at the public trough is coming to an end.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

 

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John Kelly Still Has a Job: Why Team Trump Will Never Get Right with Female Voters

“At other moments away from Contemptor, to be honest, the effort of putting my pained – and very female – American perspective out into the world hasn’t always felt worthwhile. I trust my voice and believe that our democracy faces unprecedented peril that requires committed resistance. But as a female writer, sometimes a break from Twitter trolls to come up for air is necessary self-care. One particularly dedicated jeerer, @lightbluecollar, last week blamed me and my work for an 18 month-old case of mother/daughter incest in Oklahoma. I’m no stranger to angry white men on the Internet, but it’s a source of personal exhaustion to engage them with the anger and ignorance on 11 that comes with Making America Great Again.

Anyway, here I am – older, wiser and ready to resume the rhetorical battle for our country, its solvency and soul on this platform. While we’re on the subject of being trolled, let’s talk for a moment about the Trump White House and its continually audacious personal and civic inability to respect women – the interest group that comprises more than half of the American electorate.

The Rob Porter scandal is nearly two weeks old, a veritable eternity for the Trump administration and its ability to generate controversy. Yet the story still occupies front page real estate on The New York Times website. Why? Because of Camp Runamuck’s puzzling, but by now expected impotence in publicly condemning domestic violence, and rooting its practitioners and acolytes out of the West Wing.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

The Spice Girls

Yesterday, as news broke regarding the resignation of Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary, I immediately contacted a fellow Washington vigilant – my younger sister Jenny. Since our earliest childhood days, we’ve been news and politics aware (I’ll hardly regret a ballot more than one cast for Reagan in a 1984 kindergarten mock election). But ever since the post-9/11, Fox News-aided ascendancy of modern-day Republican ideology, neither one of us has been able to relax for a moment.

Wound tightly by patriotic and personal concerns involving the war on terrorism, protracted assaults on woman’s reproductive health, the social safety net, voting rights, immigration and rational gun policy, we’ve been busy worrying. The Obama years brought some comfort in the form of a decent, rational if imperfect leader. But even then the Tea Party and other self-styled citizens of the “real America” talked endless, incendiary shit about the President, immigrants, the LGBTIQ and a long-settled woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.

Some of it was more than talk. Jenny and I have paid attention to what’s gone down in the states, including our own. Budget impasses, government shutdowns, disgustingly offensive bathroom laws, innocent citizens of color gunned down by local police. Elections matter and the right has been gaining the macro and micro majorities required to transform America into something less free for “those people” (most of us) – for decades.

My second favorite pundit and I are especially alert, exhausted and afraid for our country in the Trump era. The international shame, ridicule and danger. The proud, illiterate ignorance of our President, the moral and ethical stench wafting from every corner of the White House. But every now and then we’re given a gift of comic absurdity, a small moment of levity that transcends danger into the mere comically sad. So many of those moments have been offered by Sean Spicer these last, harrowing six months. Bless him.

It’s kind of hard to pick a favorite. Writers such as Erin Gloria Ryan have pointed out that Spicey came out swinging for the unintentionally humorous fences:

“Mr. Spicer’s relationship with the press got off to a bad start. Just one day after President Trump’s inauguration, our boy Sean issued a bizarre statement claiming the crowd was the biggest ever. His sagging suit indicated that perhaps he was not the greatest at gauging the sizes of things.”

Her piece in The New York Times yesterday ends with an endearment I burningly wish I’d written first: “Goodnight, sweet wince.”

No matter how insane Spicer’s behavior grew in defense of his probably-bankrupt-in-every-sense boss and the Trump administration, it was a mostly harmless show. We (and here I mean the larger “we,” not just Jenny and I) have long expected slanted spin from the Press Secretary’s podium. Spicey added that special mix of pitiful audaciousness that made his briefings among the highest-rated programs on daytime television. The man hid from the press in the bushes. This is a thing that actually happened. Under the direst circumstances – the running aground of America by a circus clown and his enablers – we need the occasional laugh to keep us going.

What are we to do now? Basically, this was my question to Jenny when I messaged her late yesterday morning. I sent her a link to the Times’ breaking news item about Spicer’s decision to walk away from the madness. She’s a mother of two girls married to a wonderful Muslim-American man. As many readers know, Jenny’s had to take vigilance a step further than some (me) when it comes to protecting her family from rhetorical and legislative threats. Thus she was predictably less flapped than I:

“This should surprise no one.”

Point taken, and yet somehow I was blindsided by Spicer’s move. I assumed that a man who’d spent six months and a day eating shit in front of America on behalf of Donald Trump could survive anything – especially a new supervisor. The moment when one is lulled into the belief that a head can’t be further scratched, The Donald and his team offer a new itch.

In reply to Jenny’s resigned assessment of the latest Friday news twist in Washington, I offered this. Maybe a sign of obscured, but persistent optimism.

“We must be ready for anything and yet because absurdity continues every day, any sort of end of it is still a jolt.”

Spicey was easy to dismiss. A fool who earnestly wanted respect, even if he had no idea how to gain it.  As Forrest Gump said, “Good, that’s one less thing.” Scaramucci, Sanders and their soulless sleaze on the other hand? No more laughing. Just more worrying.

Come Back to the Trail Hillary: You Have Much More to Say

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“As Donald Trump’s institutionalized misogyny and penchant for sexual assault continue to grab headlines, Team Hillary remains steadfast that her perspective on these issues should be simple – she doesn’t have one. After all, her husband, former President Bill Clinton had/has his own infidelity challenges, so she can’t touch Trump’s perversions. His campaign is only too happy to jump on her own alleged aggression toward Bill Clinton’s accusers.

Allow me to dissent from the generally accepted school of thought that quiet is a good thing. A silent Clinton is not doing herself – or the nation – any favors. I’m all for Hillary’s temporary seclusion to prepare and brace for a debate tomorrow night in which anything – quite literally – could happen. With Trump in the full scorched earth mode of almost certain November defeat, she has to be ready. However I’m also inclined to agree with Joel Benenson, Clinton’s Chief Strategist and Pollster, who told The New York Times last week: ‘You take nothing for granted…You campaign all the way to the end, and you regularly look at what’s ahead and you manage time and resources to get the most value out of the candidate’s time around the country.'”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

The GOP Is F*cked…And It’s Bad For America

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“The absolutely pathetic Republican showings in the 2008 and 2012 national elections are on track to be a source of GOP wistfulness this year, as numerous polls show Hillary Clinton set to trounce Donald Trump. As of this morning, The New York Times has the former Secretary of State at an 87 percent November victory likelihood. Memories of the electoral disappointments of 2000 and 2004 prevent relaxed exhalation but given the Republican nominee’s post-convention nose dive and Clinton’s stellar debate skills (if there are, in fact, debates), there’s reason to believe we’ll get through this without a President Trump.

But what will be left of the Republican Party? I don’t pose this rhetorical question as an exercise in schadenfreude.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

2016 Republican Party Platform A Stunning Call For Electoral Annihilation

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“As The New York Times reported this week, the platform also “demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating ‘that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.’” Anyone who thinks well-meaning public servants are attempting to blur the lines between Church and State out of zealotry for Christ, I’ve got a bridge in Atlantis to sell you. Over and again within in the Republican Party’s official legislative positions, religion is used to bludgeon and subjugate the “other.” The irony of course is that this backward-looking bullshit is the work of a scared and shrinking minority. These fools are the other now and they know it. GOP leadership is doubling down on the Man’s panic in an evolving world and culture where he’s losing the position to dominate.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Missing the Point of the Anemic Housing Market (June 29, 2011)

Until four months ago, I had very little interest in real estate and personal finance news. I do not own a property, nor do I wish to, exist mostly off the credit economy grid and don’t have much of a head for financial statistics. That all changed in February when I was hired as a senior writer for a respected housing market and stock analyst. By day, I research, write and report on the numbers, which I don’t have to tell you folks, have been seriously depressing in recent years.

Typically, I try to keep my two writing worlds separate. In the evening and on weekends, I am preoccupied with theater, politics, urban agriculture and of course, myself.

Recently, because of immersion in the topics, I have come to understand that my disinterest in banking and housing limits my understanding of the full political scope. What could be more important, from a public policy perspective, than sustained, long-term unemployment and a pullback in available credit absolutely decimating middle class American families and their home values? Yet tragically, both political parties have chosen to ignore these truly pressing concerns in favor of epically immature posturing regarding gay marriage (Rick Santorum), Executive branch limousine rides (Michelle Bachmann) and pushing disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner out of office (Nancy Pelosi). While our elected officials play chicken with a vote on the debt ceiling, Middle America has been placed on the sidelines.

It has been nearly three years since the world learned that irresponsible, and in most cases criminal activity on the part of large Wall Street financial firms had brought the economy to its knees. To date the banks and their financial partners have had to pay the piper very little. But periodically, a wrist slap is handed out so that lawmakers and legal eagles can tout the appearance of justice to the voting public.

This morning, on the front page of the New York Times and other media outlets, we learned that Bank of America, the largest U.S. bank in terms of asset holdings, plans to set aside $14 billion to repay a group of critical investors as a resort of its malfeasance in bundling and selling high-risk mortgages.

Who are these critical investors, you may ask? According to reports, the claimants are “a group of heavyweight holders of the securities, including Pimco, BlackRock and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that have been pressing for a settlement since last fall.”

Does anyone suppose that this group has been the real victim of Wall Street’s shell game? While it’s wonderful to hear that the bank is going to have to make some restitution, it is with the wrong folks. None of this $14 billion will ever reach the hundreds of thousands of American families who have lost everything because of the risks taken by a small group of arrogant charlatans.

Meanwhile, hopes for a housing market recovery, or even confirmation that we have finally reached the bottom, continue to be dashed. This week, CBS MoneyWatch reported that home prices in six cities fell to new all-time lows, and nationwide, home values are averaging 2000 levels. For those keeping score, that is 11 years of lost equity.

Who will finally decide that it is beneficial to the nation, and politically advantageous enough, to throw American homeowners a lifeline? Voluntary loan modification programs have proven to be a sick joke marked by millions of reams in lost paperwork. No one on Capitol Hill seems to want to touch the development of a plan to create jobs (which is the real key to getting the housing market back on its feet), and around we go.

It’s utterly disgraceful to have to endure the chronic bellyaching of Big Business, whining about the hostile corporate attitude of the Obama administration, while stories like this one go unheard.

Bank of America can spare the $14 billion. The nation’s middle class can no longer afford the loss of dignity, combined with collective callousness, bought on by the risks of elite cads who fail to connect with the real repercussions of their actions. And our public servants need to stop enabling this disconnect.