The Other Reason Trump Hasn’t Fired Scott Pruitt: His Evangelical Christian Ties


The Other Reason Trump Hasn’t Fired Scott Pruitt: His Evangelical Christian Ties

Alexander C. Kaufman, HuffPost          April 28, 2018

Taking the stage at the glitzy Mayflower Hotel in Washington last November, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt casually quoted the New Testament as he recited his pitch for reimagining the role of the country’s top environmental regulator.

“We as a country have been blessed with tremendous natural resources,” he told the audience gathered for an American Principles Project Foundation gala, according to previously unpublished audio HuffPost obtained. “And to whom much is given, much is required.”

The reference to Luke 12:48 was likely not lost on the crowd gathered that Wednesday night for the conservative religious think tank’s fourth annual Red White and Blue Gala. The event’s brochure, a copy of which HuffPost reviewed, listed the group’s programs on “bioethics and life” and “religious freedom,” and advertised a downloadable white paper responding to the way in which “politics as usual has failed Christian conservatives.”

Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire GOP megadonor and financier of anti-abortion groups, Christian colleges and climate change denial think tanks, bankrolled the confab, according to the brochure.

Brent Bozell, founder of the right-wing Media Research Center, opened the program as the master of ceremonies before Pruitt gave his roughly four-minute speech in acceptance of an award for “human dignity leadership.” The Rev. Thomas Joseph White, a professor at the Catholic Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, followed him with an invocation.

This was Pruitt’s hometown crowd. Until 2017, he had served on the board of trustees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, an institution that called for “a wife is to submit herself graciously” to her husband and formally opposed “all forms of sexual immorality, including … homosexuality.” The bio on Pruitt’s now-defunct official Twitter account as Oklahoma’s attorney general reads: “Husband, Father, Christ Follower.” He been attending Bible studies with Vice President Mike Pence and other Cabinet secretaries since shortly after taking office at the EPA last year.

While Pruitt’s penchant for rolling back environmental regulations and bolstering the fossil fuel industry is widely touted as the reason President Donald Trump has refused to fire the EPA chief amid a four-week whirlwind of ethical and spending scandals, that largely overlooks Pruitt’s other asset: His reputation as a zealous crusader for conservative Christian politics.

For a president dogged by accusations of adultery and sexual impropriety, that sort of reputation has currency. The ostentatiously devout Pruitt gives Trump cred among evangelical Christian power players at a time when five Republican lawmakers and 170 Democrats in Congress are calling for his resignation. On Thursday, the EPA head testified before two House hearings for a total of six hours, during which Republicans leaped to his defense, arguing the administrator was the victim of “Washington politics,” “innuendo and McCarthyism,” and “a shameful attempt to denigrate the work that’s being done at the EPA.”

Neither the White House nor the EPA returned requests for comment.

“Pruitt is clearly part of the Christian right wing of the Republican Party, and it’s possible that these elite Christian right networks are protecting him, or they’ve sent some kind of message that this is our guy,” said Lydia Bean, author of The Politics of Evangelical Identity. “He’s opposed abortion and worked as an attorney for religious liberty cases, so he checks the right boxes for Christian right evangelicals.”

White evangelicals overwhelmingly support Trump’s job performance, at 61 percent in a December Pew survey, compared to just 32 percent of voters overall. Still, that marks a significant decline from the 78 percent approval in February 2017. Among nonwhite evangelicals, his approval rating plummets, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Pruitt has played an outsize role in courting leaders on the evangelical right. In September, Trump hosted a dinner with “grassroots leaders,” including evangelical heavyweights such as Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance, Faith & Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed and Tim Goeglein, a vice president at Focus on the Family. In a photo posted to the White House website, Pruitt appears at the table opposite Trump, the only Cabinet secretary in attendance, though his name is not listed in the caption.

As Pruitt’s scandals mount, Christian groups have rallied to defend him. On April 6, the Conservative Action Project published an open letter calling for Pruitt’s “continued tenure at the EPA” and thanking him “for the significant actions he has taken to implement President Trump’s deregulatory agenda.” The list of 186 signatories included Christians for a Sustainable Economy Executive Director David Kullberg, Christian educator Lisa Calvert and Faith Wins President Chad Connelly. Some of the religiously affiliated signatories, such as Anne Schlafly Cori, chair of the “pro-family” Eagle Forum, have a history of backing climate change denial efforts, according to research compiled by the nonpartisan Climate Investigations Center.

White evangelical Christians, more than 80 percent of whom supported Trump in 2016, are the least likely of any religious group in the U.S. to understand the science behind climate change, according to 2015 data from the Pew Research Center. Just 28 percent of white evangelicals believed the planet is warming primarily due to human activity, compared to 41 percent of white mainline Protestants and 56 percent of black Protestants. About 37 percent of white evangelicals don’t believe the climate is changing at all.

In 2005, the National Association of Evangelicals was on the cusp of affirming climate science in a new national platform called “For the Health of a Nation.” But, after passing the board unanimously, the proposal tanked in a rank-and-file vote that followed a massive donation spree by oil, gas and coal-linked groups. Since then, the same dark-money donors ― including Mercer ― who sponsor the network of think tanks that provide contrarian (and readily debunked) research contesting the consensus on climate change have also funded conservative Christian groups. The fossil fuel industry made climate change denial, as Splinter’s Brendan O’Connor described it last year, “the word of God.”

Pruitt hasn’t been shy about proselytizing that view. Last October, Pruitt invoked God’s warning to pagans in the book of Joshua to “choose this day whom you will serve” in a speech announcing a new policy barring scientists who receive EPA research funding from serving on the agency’s advisory boards.

In a February interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pruitt said, “The biblical worldview with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind.”

In March, Politico published tapes from more than decade ago in which Pruitt disputes evolution: “There aren’t sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution, and it deals with the origins of man, which is more from a philosophical standpoint than a scientific standpoint.”

The statements have rankled EPA workers.

“It’s terrifying,” said one EPA employee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “The impression we are left with is that his faith has led him to counterfactual beliefs.”

The staffer, who identifies as queer, said Pruitt’s past affiliations with groups that take hard-line stances on gender and sexuality “are painful to confront.”

“Knowing that the man I work for every day not only disrespects the agency’s mission but also believes that I, as a pansexual woman, and many other EPA employees … are ‘perversions’ in his belief system, is a heavy weight I feel each day at work,” she said.

Though Pruitt’s reputation for piety may help protect him for now, Bean cautioned that it may not filter down to ordinary evangelical voters.

“He’s not an individual with a mass following, not a household name for the evangelical rank and file,” she said. “I do not think Scott Pruitt has a national brand as an evangelical leader that, by itself, would stop Trump from firing him.”

Pruitt’s legacy could alienate him from moderate evangelicals. Ronald Sider, a professor at the Palmer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, called Pruitt’s lead role in pushing Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate accord one of the administration’s “really big, longer-term negative policies,” and said the administrator’s failure to take climate change seriously will define his tenure for years to come.

“It’s really immoral and tragic,” Sider said. “Unless that can be turned around fairly soon, our grandchildren will pay for it.”

President Know-Nothing Just Stumbled Into a Good Idea About the Electoral College


President Know-Nothing Just Stumbled Into a Good Idea About the Electoral College

Trump suggests scrapping an undemocratic institution to which he owes everything.

By Jack Holmes     April 27, 2018

Getty Images

The president knows nothing about much of anything, and cares less. He is President Fox News Grandpa, the low-information voter we elected to make some of the most complex, nuanced decisions facing any human being in the history of the world. Donald Trump has no area of expertise and very little in the way of intellectual curiosity, but he does have a bottomless faith in the power of his own gut instinct. Sometimes, this has disastrous consequences. Sometimes, it is seriously hilarious.

Take Thursday, for example. As part of an overall freak show on Fox & Friends, Donald J. Trump announced he wanted to abandon the Electoral College and use the popular vote to elect United States presidents:

Of course, Trump is president solely because of the Electoral College, an anti-democratic anachronism that has outstayed its welcome by at least a half-century. He lost the popular vote—which he wants to switch to—by nearly 3 million. Then again, he claims 3 million people voted illegally in California alone. There is zero evidence of that, but plenty of evidence it’s a deranged lie borne of crippling insecurity that he is not a truly legitimate president.

Trump has also long sustained himself, as he did speaking to the Friends of Fox, on the belief he could and would have won the popular vote if he hadn’t spent so much time winning the Electoral College:

trump tweet: Campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult & sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states!

trump tweet: I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote – but would campaign differently

Of course, even when you dive into the details of his Electoral College win, the numbers aren’t exactly pretty. Trump won the three key states in 2016—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—by a combined 77,000 votes, a razor-thin margin. But thanks to the ludicrous Electoral College system, he received all of their 46 combined electoral votes.

This is why the system is so undemocratic, along with the fact that it makes some citizens’ votes count for more than others. Because only a small group of “swing states” are up for grabs, the residents of other states are largely ignored and have little impact on the outcome. If it were a popular vote, the vote of a Texan or a Californian would be just as valuable as an Ohioan—and turnout might even be higher as a result.

Getty Images

To a lesser extent, the votes of those that live in more sparsely populated states count for more than those of others. A state’s electoral vote count is its number of senators and congressmen combined. Since all states get two senators regardless of population, this means citizens of densely populated states have at least slightly less electoral power than those of sparsely populated ones.

Montana has just over a million residents and two senators. California has 39.5 million residents…and two senators. That means each Montanan receives far more representation by percentage in the Senate—and by extension, the Electoral College. That was actually an explicit goal for the Founders: representatives of rural and less-populated states, mostly in the southern colonies, were wary of being dominated by densely populated states, most of which were in the north. The compromise was to have a House of Representatives tied closely to population, but equality among states in the Senate.

All this is to say that, contrary to Trump’s shtick, the Electoral College is not some game devised to make it easier for Democrats to win elections. In fact, it’s closer to the opposite: In the five presidential elections since 2000, Republican candidates won the popular vote just once—but won the presidency three times. If Trump wants to blow that up out of some very on-brand combination of ignorance and hubris, American democracy stands to benefit. A broken clock, twice a day, et cetera.

Trump Admin Begins Process to Open Pristine Arctic Refuge for Drilling


Trump Admin Begins Process to Open Pristine Arctic Refuge for Drilling

Lorraine Chow    April 20, 2018

Polar Bear sow and two cubs in the Arctic Refuge’s 1002 area targeted for oil drilling. Wikimedia Commons

The Interior Department has launched the process of holding lease sales for oil and gas drilling in the 1.6-million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Despite decades of fierce resistance from Democrats and conservation groups, pro-drilling Republicans were able to realize their goal of opening the refuge after quietly including the measure in last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A notice published Friday in the Federal Register starts the 60-day public scoping period to assist in the preparation of an environmental impact statement for the leasing program.

The sale targets the 1002 area on the Prudhoe Bay in Northern Alaska, which has an estimated 12 billion barrels of recoverable crude. The area is described by the Sierra Club as “the biological heart” of the Arctic Refuge—home to polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other species—as well as vital lands and wildlife for the subsistence way of life of the Gwich’in Nation.

Environmental groups condemned the plan, calling it “shameful” that it would be published just before the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

“The Trump administration’s reckless dash to expedite drilling and destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will only hasten a trip to the courthouse,” Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement. “We will not stand by and watch them desecrate this fragile landscape.”

In a statement, Assistant Interior Secretary Joe Balash called the drilling plan “an important facet for meeting our nation’s energy demands and achieving energy dominance.”

“This scoping process begins the first step in developing a responsible path forward. I look forward to personally visiting the communities most affected by this process and hearing their concerns,” Balash added.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has long fought to open the refuge, said in a joint statement with other Alaskan lawmakers that drilling would “help ensure the energy and economic security of our nation.”

In February, President Trump spoke about his indifference on the matter until an oil industry friend told him that past presidents, including conservative icon Ronald Reagan, couldn’t get drilling done. He then directed lawmakers to put the provision in the tax bill.

“I never appreciated ANWR so much,” Trump said during a speech at a Republican retreat in West Virginia. “A friend of mine called up who is in that world and in that business. He said, ‘Is it true that you’re thinking about ANWR?’ I said ‘Yeah, I think we’re going to get it but you know …’ He said, ‘Are you kidding? That’s the biggest thing by itself. Ronald Reagan and every president has wanted to get ANWR approved.’ And after that I said ‘Oh, make sure that is in the bill. It was amazing how that had an impact.”

He made similar remarks a month later at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner.

The purpose of the public scoping process is to assist the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in identifying relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental impact statement and guide its development. It may also inform post-lease activities, including seismic and drilling exploration, development, and transportation of oil and gas in and from the coastal plain.

The bureau has invited the public to provide comments on scoping issues and will hold public scoping meetings in Anchorage, Arctic Village, Fairbanks, Kaktovik and Utqiaġvik at times and locations to be announced in local media, newspapers and on the BLM website.

Comments will be accepted through June 19, 2018, and can be sent by any of the following methods:

Mail: Attn: Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS
222 West 7th Avenue, Stop #13
Anchorage, Alaska 99513


Interior Moves to Sell Oil Leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Measuring the Loss of American Wildlife if the Arctic National

NRDC: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – Protecting Life on the

Trump Calls Alaska’s Wildlife Refuge, Where Hundreds of

Is the End of Trump’s Presidency Near? | Opinion


Is the End of Trump’s Presidency Near? | Opinion

Ronald L. Feinman, Newsweek          April 28, 2018 

This article originally appeared on the History News Network

The scandals surrounding President Donald Trump are metastasizing rapidly, much more than anyone would have thought just a few months ago.

The investigation by Robert Mueller, now 11 months in duration, has been accumulating evidence of possible Russian collusion, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and the corruption surrounding many members of the Trump circle, including his own children and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

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President Donald Trump speaks on April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

But then the Stormy Daniels scandal, and other related shameful episodes involving other women became part of the equation, and the business dealings of Donald Trump in New York State were added to the complicated situation. And now, the seizure of materials and records of Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen raises the ante on the troubles and turmoil surrounding Donald Trump. At the same time, Trump is without stable advice from his cabinet or others, due to the chaotic nature of a constantly changing set of advisers, and his tendency to “shoot from the hip” not only in tweets, but in constantly evolving views on domestic and foreign policy challenges.

With the midterm congressional elections now less than seven months away, and with the Republicans running scared about potential massive losses, and with more criticism emerging from not only respectable conservatives, but also from some of his own loyalists, Donald Trump’s time in the Presidency seems rapidly coming toward a sudden end.

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While Republican members of Congress look unlikely to abandon him before the midterm elections, it could still happen if Donald Trump fires Robert Muller, Rod Rosenstein, Jeff Sessions, and others, a constant threat. New indictments by Mueller, and the possibility of such action by the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could be in the offing very soon. And if Trump family members were to be indicted, it could put Trump under such pressure that possible resignation, through some form of arranged “deal,” is not beyond imagination. If the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in November, impeachment action seems highly likely in 2019, although conviction in the US Senate would be nearly impossible.

However, there is a scheduled meeting of right-wing Evangelical leaders with President Trump on June 19, to consider strategy for the midterm elections, as this group is alarmed at the thought that the Trump scandals could cost them the advancement of their religious agenda. It could be, two months from now, that gloom and doom will set in, and cause these pastors and ministers and their allies to consider Trump’s resignation as preferable, as it would bring a “true believer,” Vice President Mike Pence, to the Presidency.

One would think behind the scenes that many congressional Republicans and conservatives would clearly prefer Pence, who is religiously devout, and does not have the drama and controversy that Donald Trump constantly presents. With Pence, the right-wing would not lose, but instead gain a great deal of comfort. This makes it conceivable that we’ll see a repeat of history. When Richard Nixon proved toxic in July 1974 a delegation of congressional Republicans marched to the White House to let him know his base of support on Capitol Hill had collapsed.

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No matter what the future scenario, America is in a constitutional crisis of greater proportions than Watergate, and with the attendant danger of a Great Recession or a third World War, caused by a mentally unstable and highly stressed President. So while it now seems likely that Trump will outlast the 492 days of President Zachary Taylor, to be reached on May 27, 2018, once thought by this scholar to be the end point of the Trump Presidency, it seems evident that Trump will leave office before the 4th shortest Presidency, that of Warren G. Harding from 1921-1923, a total of 881 days. This would be Thursday, June 20, 2019.

So with 15 months down in the Trump Presidency, the chance of his leaving in the next 14 months at the most is on the horizon.

Ronald L. Feinman is the author of Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). A paperback edition is now available.

Live! Teachers in Colorado are taking to the streets today!

April 27, 2018

Teachers in Colorado are taking to the streets today! #Solidarity

Denver Teacher Walk Out

We're in Denver, Colorado where thousands of teachers walk out of class, rallying over low pay and funding.Tens of thousands of teachers are expected to stage walk outs across two states.

Posted by ABC News on Friday, April 27, 2018

ABC News is live now — in Denver, Colorado.Follow

We’re in Denver, Colorado where thousands of teachers walk out of class, rallying over low pay and funding.

Tens of thousands of teachers are expected to stage walk outs across two states.

My Review of David Holmgren’s ‘RetroSuburbia’

Trump began the day with an insane interview on Fox & Friends!

Late Night with Seth Meyers

April 26, 2018

Trump began the day with an insane interview on Fox & Friends, and it only got worse from there. Seth takes A Closer Look.

Bahahaha their faces say it all!…

Trump Goes on Fox & Friends and Freaks Out About Michael Cohen: A Closer Look

Trump began the day with an insane interview on Fox & Friends, and it only got worse from there. Seth takes A Closer Look.

Posted by Late Night with Seth Meyers on Thursday, April 26, 2018

What “IF” Earth spun twice as fast?

What.If added a new episode on  Facebook Watch.
April 26, 2018

12-hour days, 730 days a year. Could you cope with that?

What If Earth Spun Twice as Fast

12-hour days, 730 days a year. Could you cope with that?

Posted by What.If on Thursday, April 26, 2018

Will Greed Be The EPA Leader’s Downfall?


Will Greed Be The EPA Leader’s Downfall?

By Sarah Anderson, Orig. Pub. in    April 24, 2018

Environmentalists weren’t able to block the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator based on his horrendous record of climate change denial and plundering natural resources. But Pruitt’s growing corruption scandal has given them new hope.

Friends of the Earth has hung hundreds of posters around downtown Washington, D.C. — including in front of the Trump Hotel — mocking Pruitt for getting a deeply discounted deal on a condo he rented from the wife of a fossil fuel lobbyist.

“Luxury condo on Capitol Hill, $50 a night!!!” the posters advertise. “Live luxuriously for cheap — just like Scott!”

The posters’ fine print specifies: “special rate void if not a Trump administration official able to provide special favors. Property may be used to host GOP fundraisers.”

On the bottom of the posters are pull tabs listing the phone number for the EPA’s Office of Public Affairs.

In a more serious statement, Friends of the Earth accused Pruitt of “living in the lap of luxury, and all on the taxpayer’s dime.” On top of the condo scandal, they note that he has “wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on first class flights and other absurd luxuries, like a $43,000 soundproof phone booth or dragging his 20-person security detail with him on trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl.”

One scandal that’s generated headlines is a secretive trip Pruitt took to Morocco that cost taxpayers $40,000, which included the tab for two nights in high-end hotels in Paris. What’s gotten less attention is that Pruitt spent part of this trip working to set up export deals for U.S. gas companies — activities that are not at all part of his job as our nation’s top environment protector.

“The actual corruption going on here is even worse than the appearance of corruption,” said Basav Sen, Climate Justice project director at the Institute for Policy Studies. “If Pruitt goes down, it will probably be for his lesser crimes, but at least his ouster would set an example for others.”

The pressure on Pruitt is certainly mounting. On April 18, 39 Senators signed a resolution calling for Pruitt’s resignation — the largest number in history to call for the removal of a cabinet official. On the House side, 131 members signed a similar statement. While no Republicans were among the endorsers, several have also called for Pruitt’s ouster.

So far, President Donald Trump has been standing behind Pruitt, tweeting on April 7 that the embattled official was “doing a great job.”

Last September, the president didn’t show the same loyalty when it came to his Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price. After a controversy erupted over what some might consider a less serious spending scandal — his penchant for flying in private jets instead of commercial planes — Price was shown the door.

The EPA Administrator is ‘living in the lap of luxury, and all on the taxpayer’s dime.’

But, as Sen explains, “Tom Price is a run-of-the-mill ‘cut taxes’ type of conservative, whereas Pruitt represents the really hardline ideological right wing. And while Trump didn’t come out of that tradition, he seems to have decided that those are now his fellow travelers. Also, he’s feeling more under siege now than last year and so we may see a circling of the wagons in response to that pressure.”

Pruitt’s opponents are still ramping up pressure on the President. In addition to their guerrilla postering, Friends of the Earth joined with the Sierra Club, the NAACP, SEIU, and numerous other groups in running full-page ads calling for Pruitt to resign or be removed. The ads ran in Pruitt’s hometown newspaper, the Oklahoman, as well as two papers President Trump reportedly reads — the DC edition of the New York Times and the New York Post. The “Boot Pruitt” campaign has also run ads on Trump’s favorite TV show — Fox and Friends.

Like so many powerful and destructive men before him, it could be Pruitt’s personal greed — rather than the damage he’s inflicted on the world — that ultimately will be his downfall.

Wells Fargo got off scot-free

Let the Revolution Begin. Peacefully of Course. shared a video.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders — US Senator for Vermont

April 25, 2018

The Trump tax cuts are rewarding Wells Fargo—the bank that defrauded millions of customers last year—with $3.7 billion. How does that make sense?

Wells Fargo Got Off Scot-Free

The Trump tax cuts are rewarding Wells Fargo—the bank that defrauded millions of customers last year—with $3.7 billion. How does that make sense?

Posted by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, April 25, 2018