Pruitt’s former Chief of Staff talks

And Congressional Democrats demand answers from Pruitt. They wrote a letter to him.

Read the whole thing. The sense of entitlement Pruitt exhibits is astonishing. This is a guy who is, after all, just another lawyer from Oklahoma.

He apparently decided the taxpayers could and should pay for his travel destinations.

“Find me something to do,” were the instructions Mr. Pruitt gave his staff, after telling them he wanted to travel to particular destinations, the letter says, quoting Mr. Chmielewski, who was expected to sign off on the trips.

It’s likely he runs for Governor of Oklahoma at some point, so he “directed your staff to find reasons for you to travel back to Oklahoma so that you could be in your home state for long weekends at taxpayers’ expense.”

Those are just two of the many many issues the Democrats have with this grifter.

Trump hires smart people

From the New York Times, Saturday:

…legal experts and White House officials say that in Mr. Pruitt’s haste to undo government rules and in his eagerness to hold high-profile political events promoting his agenda, he has often been less than rigorous in following important procedures, leading to poorly crafted legal efforts that risk being struck down in court.

[snip]

Six of Mr. Pruitt’s efforts to delay or roll back Obama-era regulations — on issues including pesticides, lead paint and renewable-fuel requirements — have been struck down by the courts. Mr. Pruitt also backed down on a proposal to delay implementing smog regulations and another to withdraw a regulation on mercury pollution.

The EPA action that made the headlines last week was the rollback of Obama-era rules that were intended to cut vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases. Well, Pruitt and his team put together a “38-page document filed on Tuesday that, experts say, was devoid of the kind of supporting legal, scientific and technical data that courts have shown they expect to see when considering challenges to regulatory changes.” By contrast, when the EPA proposed the rule it did so in a “1,217-page document justifying its implementation of the regulation included technical, scientific and economic analyses justifying the rule.” Even more ridiculously, “most” of those 38 pages consist of

arguments quoting directly from public comments made by automaker lobbyists, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Global Automakers, that the pollution rules will be unduly burdensome on the auto industry, as well as public comments from Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi.

Oh. Well then. If the rule might require the industry to do something it doesn’t want to do, then of course it should be stopped before it takes effect.

…it does not contain what environmental experts say is the critical element of a legally strong justification for changing an E.P.A. regulation: Technical analysis of both sides of the argument leading to a conclusion aimed at persuading a judge that the change is defensible.

I guess we should all be thankful these people are stupid. They can’t do as much damage as clever people can.

Pruitt’s job failures

Politico has an article which might relieve some of us who are infuriated with EPA’s Scott Pruitt as much for the regulations he’s trying to roll back as for his dishonesty and lack of ethics. It’s titled The Myth of Scott Pruitt’s EPA Rollback, and it explains that despite the seemingly daily press release from EPA announcing another Obama-era rule being overturned, it’s not that simple. Rules and regs take years to write and are subject to public comment periods of months, and reversing them requires the same thing with litigation added to the mix.

That’s not to say he hasn’t done serious harm, because he has.

It’s true that Pruitt has had some success transforming how the EPA pursues its mission, communicates with the public and enforces its rules. He has used his discretionary powers to give factories more deference when they apply for permits, states more control of their air quality compliance and industry-friendly officials more sway on EPA’s science advisory boards. He’s sent a clear message throughout the agency to be more accommodating to businesses, a message that has helped persuade hundreds of its career public servants to retire. And he has abruptly halted the EPA’s focus on combating climate change, its top priority in the Obama years. He was the leading internal advocate for Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, although the withdrawal won’t take effect until November 2020, so it probably won’t stick if Trump doesn’t get reelected.

The elimination of regulations may take so long he’ll be out of his job before the discussion stage has gotten truly started.

Pruitt’s problem is that major federal regulations are extremely difficult and time-consuming to enact, and just as difficult and time-consuming to reverse. The rulemaking process can take years of technical and administrative work that Pruitt and his team have not yet had time to do.

Despite the claims from his PR shop, he’s not gotten nearly as much done as he claims he has, nor is he likely to if he keeps up his propensity to spend taxpayers’ money like water.

Lyin’ Trump lies again

Trump is on this tear about Amazon and the Post Office, and he’s fired everyone who’s willing to tell him he’s making a fool of himself by getting his facts wrong or lying. For starters:

Last year alone, Amazon supplied $7 billion of the Post Office’s $19.5 billion in revenue.

So obviously Amazon and the Postal Service have a special relationship, but it’s not an exclusive commitment. Amazon delivers many of its packages in bulk to US Postal Service distribution centers, where those familiar-looking white trucks take care of the last mile.

Then there’s his claim that the Post Office negotiated a horrible below cost deal with Amazon. No, dogbreath.

It’s illegal for the Postal Service to ship anything below cost thanks to the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.

That claim that Amazon pays “little or no taxes to state & local governments…?” Not so, you halfwit. Amazon pays the federal corporate tax and collects taxes in all 46 states where sales taxes exist, plus the District of Columbia. (This excludes Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon.)

But what about his whine that Amazon uses the Postal Service as its “Delivery Boy?” Guilty! But so does everyone who puts anything into a blue mailbox! Why, funnily enough, that’s what the Postal Service is supposed to do! Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution (the one signed in 1789, Trump, you dolt) says “The Congress shall have power to…establish post offices and post roads.” The Postal Service was established in 1792. It authorized delivery from Post Office to Post Office. In 1863 Congress passed a law which

provided that free city delivery be established at Post Offices where income from local postage was more than sufficient to pay all expenses of the service. For the first time, Americans had to put street addresses on their letters.

By June 30, 1864, free city delivery had been established in 65 cities nationwide, with 685 carriers delivering mail in cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. By 1880, 104 cities were served by 2,628 letter carriers, and by 1900, 15,322 carriers provided service to 796 cities.

Okay, that took me about 40 minutes to research and type. I realize that our Presidential dotard has no patience for such things. In fact, I doubt he has the patience even to read this post. Nor, apparently, does he have any people working for him who are willing to tell him (generously) that he’s got his facts wrong, or (rudely) that he’s a damn fool and a liar.

I don’t work for him, so I will so state. He’s a damn fool and a liar.

Sound adventures

I bought a 19-inch TV (Price: $73) for the bedroom. The thing barely fits on the riser (I had to put it on a riser because there’s not enough space on top of the stereo cabinet to put a TV and a cable box side-by-side), but it does. I probably shouldn’t get a cat, since it would be sure to knock the TV off.

I discovered that a major flaw in television flat-screen technology is that the things are so shallow the internal speakers suck.

I headed out to look at soundbars but couldn’t figure out where I’d place one which wouldn’t block the sensors on the front panel of either the TV or the cable box or both.

I thought about using a couple of red-and-white RCA-plug cables from the TV to the stereo receiver to use its speakers, but I didn’t feel like dragging the receiver out and fiddling with plugs at the back.

I suddenly remembered (AHA!) that about four CPUs ago I got a pair of computer speakers with my purchase. I dug those out of their previously never-opened box, attached one end to the Audio Out receptacle on the TV and plugged the power cord into the last available slot on the surge protector, and Voila, Volume!

I’m feeling clever and frugal. Please don’t disabuse me.

The Decline and Fall of Sears Roebuck

This is similar to what I have seen when entering or descending the escalator to my local mall’s Sears store at ground level. I would swear it was like this as recently as last week. No more. It’s gone from this

to this

There were two televisions on display, and I was told I shouldn’t buy the smaller one since “we don’t have any new ones.” The sales associate told me they’d downsized electronics because of competition from Walmart and from Amazon. I can understand not wanting to carry expensive inventory, although that hasn’t keep them from stocking hundreds of washers, dryers and refrigerators, not to mention the dozens of mattresses they have on hand.

It seems to me it’s one more surrender to a changing retail world, and I suspect Sears is not much longer for that mall. JC Penney moved out about ten years ago, Liberty House was bought by Macy’s, Borders went bankrupt. Now we have TJ Maxx and Ross.

This does not bode well.

Trump is getting worse

As bad as we thought he might be, he’s becoming infinitely worse. So writes Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post, and it’s impossible to disagree.

What’s really terrifying is that the Republicans in Congress are mostly quiescent. They’re either afraid of Trump’s 35%-of-voters base or they really don’t give a damn about what Tillerson’s done to the State Department, what DeVos is doing to Education, what Pruitt is doing to EPA, what Zinke is doing to Interior and what Ben Carson is doing (or not doing) to HUD.

If Trump does try to fire Mueller, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should get much of the blame. They have given Trump no reason to believe they will ever stand up to him.

That’s right. The only Senators who are really speaking out against Trump (and even then, not on everything terrible, just on the Mueller investigation) are dying like McCain or retiring like Flake and Corker. The House Republicans are actively supporting Trump and only investigating him perfunctorily before closing up shop without even interviewing indicted witnesses.

If we want a country remotely like the one we had just a year or two ago Democrats have got to win at least one house of Congress back in November. They have to be able to block Trump, to investigate him, and even potentially to impeach him.