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Member since: Tue Mar 25, 2014, 01:18 PM
Number of posts: 15,204

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Plan to move BLM jobs west a shallow pretext to gut the agency's mission.

Part of the problem with the constant flow of news out of the White House — from offensive tweets to potentially disastrous policies — is that acts that would have seemed outrageous in previous administrations slip past, hidden by the smoke of the Trumpster fire. The administration’s plan to effectively gut the Washington-based Bureau of Land Management is a case in point.

Some Trump administration policymakers, as well as some influential members of Congress, are philosophically opposed to the federal government owning public lands …. All told, the federal government owns about 28% of the country’s acreage (most of it originally stolen from native tribes, but that’s another issue), and in some cases has done so for more than two centuries. The largest player in the management of non-marine federal lands is the Bureau of Land Management, which controls 248 million acres of public land and administers some 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral rights.

And now the Trump administration — propelled by those who believe the federal government should cede much of its Western lands to state and local governments — wants to move nearly all of the BLM’s headquarters out of Washington and relocate the jobs mostly to Western states. It couches the reorganization as an effort to put more BLM workers closer to the lands they manage … But public lands advocates argue persuasively that they are mere pretexts for undercutting an agency Trump advisers dislike. The vast majority of BLM jobs — 97%, according to the Public Lands Foundation — are already dispersed around the country, mostly in the West, and the bulk of the jobs to be moved out of Washington are top-level administrators and policy staffers who craft regulations and provide national oversight to regional offices.

Scattering those jobs around the country will in all likelihood result in massive turnover among senior officials unwilling to upend their lives and careers in Washington. And there is evidence to support that: The Agriculture Department is shifting two agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, from Washington to Kansas this fall. About 250 of the 395 employees — more than 60% — refused the transfers, a potentially crippling brain drain from the highly respected statistics department and the research agency.

Moving BLM will similarly rob that department of institutional memory and weaken its ability to work with Congress and other agencies — which, in fact, may be the point for the Machiavellians in Trump’s White House who want to cede public lands that we, as Americans, all own to states and local governments anxious to turn it over to developers and extractive industries. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt recently appointed William Perry Pendley, who through the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation has pushed for the federal government to turn public lands over to states, as acting BLM director. The petroglyph on the wall couldn’t be clearer.

More at:

Lawmaker on USDA Office Relocations: 'This Fight is Not Over'

“We all knew this move made no sense and was driven by ideology over science,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. “Now, thanks to this new inspector general report, we also know that it was potentially illegal. Secretary [Sonny] Perdue has some serious questions to answer, and this fight is not over.”

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that advanced the Agriculture Department’s appropriations bills, including the provision demanding committee approval of any relocation, called the inspector general’s findings “troubling.” ...
“As I have said before, there are many reasons this move does not add up. Now that the report has raised several troubling concerns, I again ask why only the Trump administration thinks this relocation is a good idea.”
Casting a pall over the proceedings this week were recent comments by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney suggesting the department’s justification for relocating ERS and NIFA employees was merely a pretext for encouraging them to quit.

“Now, it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” Mulvaney told attendees of a Republican party event in South Carolina last weekend. “I know that because a lot of them work for me. And I’ve tried. And you can’t do it. But simply saying to the people, you know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven and move you out into the real part of the country, and they quit. What a wonderful way to streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”
In a statement Monday, AFGE National President J. David Cox blasted what he called anti-federal employee rhetoric. “Mick Mulvaney’s comments confirm what our union has been saying all along: the administration’s decision to transfer hundreds of USDA jobs from D.C. isn’t about helping federal employees do their jobs better or delivering better services to the American taxpayer,” Cox said. “Their goal is to drive out hardworking and dedicated civil servants and silence the parts of the agencies’ research that the administration views as inconvenient.”

More at: https://www.govexec.com/oversight/2019/08/lawmakers-watchdog-agency-questions-usda-rationale-countering-ig-report/159012/

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There's hope.

US interest rate cut fails to impress Trump

The US central bank has cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 but not won over President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump, who had demanded a big rate cut, was unimpressed with the Federal Reserve's 0.25 percentage point cut that took the federal funds target range to 2-2.25%.

In a tweet, the president scorned Fed chair Jerome Powell, saying: "As usual, Powell let us down."

The main stock market indexes on Wall Street all closed more than 1% lower.

Analysts cited uncertainty over how many rate cuts the market should expect.


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The depths of this moron's idiocy never fail to amaze me. Buttigieg was exactly right, "Like a rooster [this moron] thinks he caused the sun to rise."

Anyone who doesn't vote straight D up and down the ticket in 2020 is officially now my enemy.

Fox Taps Another Ex-WH Staffer - Hires Former Trump White House Spokesman Raj Shah

Former White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah has joined Fox Corporation as a senior vice president, forming yet another link between President Donald Trump’s administration and the conservative media empire.

-- snip --

[Shah] follows in the footsteps of former White House communications director Hope Hicks, who joined Fox Corp. in October to run their public relations department.

Both Shah and Hicks report to Viet Dinh, chief legal and policy officer of Fox Corp.



Not saying it is, but shouldn't this be an ethics violation? Not that it would really mean anything with this tRump cabal.

Can Trump's Hard-Core Fans Be Deradicalized?

When the president spews racism or violence, true believers respond with more. Experts say it resembles something like a cult or totalitarianism.

President Donald Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, this week made scholars of fascism sit bolt upright. ... Trump has long stoked bigoted grievances among his followers, but the Greenville rally saw him act as a more overt radicalizer than ever before. And with a portion of Trump’s fanbase now openly clamoring for the physical removal of several prominent Democrats of color, experts are questioning whether the country can repair the damage—even if Trump loses in 2020.

-- snip --

It’s possible very little will bother his most devoted fans, Janja Lalich, a professor studying cults and totalitarian leadership, said. “There’s this intense devotion and the inability to question or criticize or doubt. ... They seem to be in a state of what we call cognitive dissonance, where what they believe doesn’t match reality. People in that state tend to cling to their beliefs over reality. They dig themselves even deeper. I think the things we see at the rallies, where people get into these cheers and adore everything he says, is very typical of what we see in run-of-the-mill cults. There’s what we might call blind obedience or blind followership.”

-- snip --

Mary Beth Altier, an assistant professor at New York University specializing in radicalization, cautioned that some Trump supporters might act out should his rallies stop. “While people saying these things is awful and they may radicalize other people, if we quash their ability to say them, my research shows they may become more violent because they can’t express those grievances. It’s a catch-22,” she said.

And even if Trump leaves office, it’s no guarantee that Trumpism will end. “I think it’s only going to intensify,” Neiwert said, citing fears that Trump would not lead a peaceful transition.

It’s a concern Lalich shares. “I think he can still remain their leader. He doesn’t need to have office,” she said. “He’s already threatened that it’s going to be rigged and that his people will rise up. I think that’s not going to change very much because he has reawakened such hatred in this country.”



How Mueller's hunt for a Russia-Trump conspiracy came up short

This story made my blood boil.

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As recently as February, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team dropped hints that the inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election might unearth evidence of active cooperation between Moscow and President Donald Trump’s campaign. ... That turned out not to be the case.

No criminal conspiracy was documented, according to Barr. But tantalizing court statements by members of Mueller’s team and evidence disclosed in various prosecutions by the special counsel had suggested on several occasions during the 22-month investigation that a different conclusion had been possible. ... the words “did not establish” are commonly used in national security cases as language merely ruling out a chargeable offense. “It doesn’t mean a subject is innocent. It means investigators didn’t find enough evidence to charge a crime,” Montoya said.

When Mueller’s report is released - with parts blacked out by Barr to protect certain sensitive information - it is unclear how harsh a light it will shine on the contacts between Trump campaign figures and Russians. Those making contacts included the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and campaign figures Manafort, Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. ... Mueller and U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia employed hacking and propaganda to sow division in the United States, harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and boost Trump’s candidacy.

Perhaps no avenue of inquiry appeared more promising on the question of conspiracy than Mueller’s pursuit of longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone ... But when Mueller indicted Stone in January, the seven criminal counts did not refer to conspiring with Russians and there was no allegation of close ties to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange .Mueller questioned more than a half dozen Stone associates to establish if he had acted as a go-between for the campaign with Wikileaks. Stone associates who spoke to Reuters suggested Stone was struggling to make contact with Assange rather than having an inside track.

Randy Credico, a New York comedian associated with Stone who appeared before Mueller’s grand jury, is a case in point. Text messages seen by Reuters show Stone sought to use Credico as an intermediary with Assange and urged Credico to feed WikiLeaks anti-Clinton research. Credico told Reuters he never made good on the request.

More at:
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I'm not convinced this interpretation of where we stand is correct. But that's irrelevant. We clearly need a higher legal standard when it comes to election campaigns and elected officials -- especially for the President/Commander in Chief. The checks and balances of our Constitution alone obviously do not always work. This should be a priority when we once again control both the executive and legislative branches. And we will.

Just called my entire Congressional delegation in DC

to express my deep concern after hearing tRumps comments and Barr’s testimony this morning that we are watching live in real time an ongoing coup of the US Government that Rs intend to make permanent.

I expressed my support to each of them and assurance that I would have their back. But also expressed my concern that I am not hearing the alarm being sounded by Democrats in Congress at a time when our nation is at dire risk.

I hope others will take the time to do the same. They need to hear both our deep concern and assurances that we have their back.

I wonder. Do any elected Democratic Congressionals Read DU?

Do they see and hear the enormous sense of urgency being expressed here today?

Does anyone with a meaningful role get the enormity of the very real risk we now face? The urgency of need for effective action? The angst so many of us currently feel? Do they get it?

Beto O'Rourke's secret membership in America's oldest hacking group -- I like this!

While a teenager, O’Rourke acknowledged in an exclusive interview, he belonged to the oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history.

The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.

There is no indication that O’Rourke ever engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity, such as breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. But his membership in the group could explain his approach to politics better than anything on his resume. His background in hacking circles has repeatedly informed his strategy as he explored and subverted established procedures in technology, the media and government.

“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”

An ex-hacker running for national office would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. But that was before two national elections sent people from other nontraditional backgrounds to the White House and Congress, many of them vowing to blow up the status quo.

Much more at:

Good read. There's actually some real positives in this sort of background from my perspective. Personally, I believe this is more likely to help than hurt him. Beto certainly has a good chance. I like him, but still have some reservations about his purported views re: economic issues. But he is in the running as far as I'm concerned.

Banks weigh whether to embrace or avoid Ocasio-Cortez

Barely a month into the new Congress, financial lobbyists in Washington are already strategizing how to handle the star power of rookie Democrat lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Democratic Socialist and Wall Street critic joined the 60-member House Financial Services Committee in mid-January and more than a dozen lobbyists interviewed by Reuters say the 29-year-old activist and former bartender is too high-profile to ignore.
Richard Hunt, chief executive of the Consumer Bankers Association, said he had not encountered a lawmaker like Ocasio-Cortez in more than 20 years in Washington. “She has the ability to influence unlike a lot of other freshmen.”

An economics major and self-confessed “science nerd,” Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on issues that put her at odds with the financial industry, including separating commercial and investment banking, breaking up large banks, and forgiving student debt. Central to her campaign has been the rejection of corporate campaign dollars, closing off a traditional avenue for industry access and influence on Capitol Hill. Now lobbyists fear that her enlarged platform will help the first-term junior lawmaker push her ideas into the mainstream and are trying to figure out how best to respond.

Several lobbyists told Reuters they believed they could isolate Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives on the financial services committee by building coalitions with moderate Democrats, such as fellow New York Representative Gregory Meeks, and centrist Republicans.


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