Archive | Just Plain Crazy

What you should know about Trump and climate change

Dodge Cyclone II

Geeze, I hate to hit you with this stuff first thing in the morning, but somebody’s gotta do it! Via Climate Change:

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to round out his cabinet and White House staff, his policies and priorities are coming more into focus.

All indications so far point to a bleak future for addressing climate change, or even recognizing it as one of the world’s largest challenges. A number of his cabinet nominees, political appointees and closest advisors are outright climate deniers while others have funded the denial of climate change or are lukewarm on accepting the science.

At best, climate action will likely take a backseat to other issues. At worst, there could be an all-out assault on the science, and as important, the funding that makes it possible.

To glean a clearer picture of where Trump’s administration stands and where it may be headed, we’ve created a list of his major cabinet and agency appointees as well as his senior advisors. We’ll continue to update this as appointments are made.

Go read it, but not if you puke easily.

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Build he won’t

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Krugman on Trump’s infrastructure plan:

And we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it’s basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.

To understand what’s going on, it may be helpful to start with what we should be doing. The federal government can indeed borrow very cheaply; meanwhile, we really need to spend money on everything from sewage treatment to transit. The indicated course of action, then, is simple: borrow at those low, low rates, and use the funds raised to fix what needs fixing.

But that’s not what the Trump team is proposing. Instead, it’s calling for huge tax credits: billions of dollars in checks written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning. For example, imagine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 million while putting up $200 million in equity — but it would get a tax credit of 82 percent of that sum, so that its actual outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million.

There are three questions you should immediately ask.

First, why do it this way? Why not just have the government do the spending, the way it did when, for example, we built the Interstate Highway System? It’s not as if the feds are having trouble borrowing. And while involving private investors may create less upfront government debt than a more straightforward scheme, the eventual burden on taxpayers will be every bit as high if not higher.

Second, how is this scheme supposed to deal with infrastructure needs that can’t be turned into profit centers? Our top priorities should include things like repairing levees and cleaning up hazardous waste; where’s the revenue stream? Maybe the government can promise to pay fees in perpetuity, in effect “renting” the repaired levee or waterworks — but that makes it even clearer that we’re basically engaged in a gratuitous handout to select investors.

Third, what reason do we have to believe that this scheme will generate new investment, as opposed to repackaging things that would have happened anyway? For example, many cities will have to replace their water systems in the years ahead, one way or another; if that replacement takes place under the Trump scheme rather than through ordinary government investment, we haven’t built additional infrastructure, we’ve just privatized what would have been public assets — and the people acquiring those assets will have paid just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Again, all of this is unnecessary. If you want to build infrastructure, build infrastructure. It’s hard to see any reason for a roundabout, indirect method that would offer a few people extremely sweet deals, and would therefore provide both the means and the motive for large-scale corruption. Or maybe I should say, it’s hard to see any reason for this scheme unless the inevitable corruption is a feature, not a bug.

Now, the Trump people could make all my suspicions look foolish by scrapping the private-investor, tax credits aspect of their proposal and offering a straightforward program of public investment. And if they were to do that, progressives should indeed work with them on that issue.

But it’s not going to happen. Cronyism and self-dealing are going to be the central theme of this administration — in fact, Mr. Trump is already meeting with foreigners to promote his business interests. And people who value their own reputations should take care to avoid any kind of association with the scams ahead.

Buckle up, kids

It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

That’s where Donald Trump’s lies are taking us. By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. When the truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision, there is no common ground to be reached and no incentive to look for it.

To men like Surkov, that is exactly as it should be. Government policy should not be set through democratic oversight; instead, the government should “manage” democracy, ensuring that people can express themselves without having any influence over the machinations of the state. According to a 2011 openDemocracy article by Richard Sakwa, a professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, Surkov is “considered the main architect of what is colloquially known as ‘managed democracy,’ the administrative management of party and electoral politics.”

“Surkov’s philosophy is that there is no real freedom in the world, and that all democracies are managed democracies, so the key to success is to influence people, to give them the illusion that they are free, whereas in fact they are managed,” writes Sakwa. “In his view, the only freedom is ‘artistic freedom.’”

Trump tells the press how it’s gonna be

This is the “official” version of what happened, and here’s the real one.

Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post.

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

“The meeting took place in a big board room and there were about 30 or 40 people, including the big news anchors from all the networks,” the other source said.

“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said.

“Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate – which was Martha Raddatz who was also in the room.”

The final days of Rome

It must be, when you get an NBA coach offering more intelligent insight than 99% of what we see in our servile media:

“I’m not done,” [Gregg] Popovich said. “One could go on and on, we didn’t make this stuff up. He’s angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted. That’s ironic to me. It makes no sense. So that’s my real fear, and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group’s situations. I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person. How disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. My final conclusion is, my big fear is — we are Rome.”

Anti-Trump protests in cities across the country

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In cities across the United States, protesters are in the streets rejecting Donald Trump as the President-Elect. I’ve gathered some tweets to tell the story. Chicago: Protesters block entrance to Trump Tower in Chicago, march through streets https://t.co/tI3eVXyQ1n pic.twitter.com/TFVc14GUG0 – Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) November 10, 2016 Chicago police have blocked the bridge and roads to Trump… Continue Reading →

Trump team can’t fill national security jobs

trump bumper sticker

I was thinking of this today, that his talent pool would be limited to hacks and has-beens:

President-Elect Donald Trump is scrambling to line up senior officials to run the government’s sprawling intelligence and homeland security bureaucracy.

Team Trump is struggling to fill numerous key slots or even attract many candidates because hundreds have either sworn they’d never work in a Trump administration or have directly turned down requests to join, multiple current and former U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the transition efforts told The Daily Beast.

Team Trump didn’t expect to win until the campaign’s internal polling a month before the election signaled a possible victory. That’s when senior Trump officials went into overdrive, trying to build a bench of experienced national security candidates with top secret clearances willing to work for a Trump presidency—and they met resistance across the landscape of experienced GOP national security professionals.

One person who met last month with Trump’s national security and homeland security transition team leader said that she confessed that many candidates had flatly rejected attempts to recruit them, believing that Trump was unfit to hold the office of commander-in-chief.

“She said that it was going to be very difficult to fill positions in that space because everybody that had experience was a never-Trumper,” this person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

“She wasn’t even sure that she was going to be able to fill a transition team,” much less find people to serve in government positions, this person said.

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