The Koch Effect

John Hanno    January 30, 2018     

                       The Koch Effect

Yes, our political system is broke, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, to Republi-cons who respect no ethical or legal boundaries (including congressional and legislative district borders) – who will do anything to “Win” and prop up their dying party, and to a cabal of obscenely rich autocratic and predatory old white men, who believe they alone should rule the world.

But all the benefits they’ve received from our erstwhile prosperous and expanding middle-class based economy is in serious jeopardy. Unfortunately they’re too stupid or obsessed with greed to realize, that if America’s middle-class crumbles, their gravy train will eventually derail.

These toxic crony capitalists somehow believe they’re solely responsible for their wealth and good fortune. They’re quick to criticize folks who just “need to pull themselves up by their boot-straps.” “If they can do it, anyone can.” Thankfully, everyone’s not so obsessed with greed, that they follow in their “mo money” footsteps.

If it were up to these greedy bastards, they would pay absolutely no taxes to support the commons, would refuse to fairly share their wealth with faithful employees or their communities and would engage in any scheme, legal or otherwise, that would make them even richer.

Fortunately these old farts will soon be spreading their toxic brand of capitalism and far right ideology in the Here-After. America and the world will be better for it.

I read a study where once you reach an annual income of $75,000, you’re no happier if you earn more. I think the authors were on to something because every time I see trump, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Mercers or any of the other GOP mega donors, they all look incredibly miserable. They must store up their regrets, the imagined slights and persecution and just can’t seem to appreciate their good fortune.

Charles and David Koch have a combined net worth of almost $100 billion, the second richest family in America. I’m sure they’ve always worked hard but they didn’t accumulate that enormous wealth on their own. They were left a fortune by their father and I’m sure their vast assortment of businesses have benefited greatly from taxpayers who support our government and the public commons and infrastructure.

I don’t know if the Koch’s are as averse to paying taxes as trump or as reluctant to show their tax returns, but they spent $20 million supporting the just passed Republican tax legislation for the betterment of corporations, the rich and the politically connected, and a conservative group led by the brothers are now funding a $20 million public relations campaign to tout the benefits of that tax bill con. They also pledged almost $900 million from their political action committee to Republican candidates during the 2016 campaigns. And will spend $400 million more during the 2018 mid-term elections.

As rabid Libertarians, they’ve never been fans of America’s particular form of democratic socialism. Corporations hate social welfare, unless that socialism benefits their bottom line. So worried that America would sink to the depths of say, a socialist European country, or God forbid even worse, a Scandinavian country, that the Koch’s have spent their entire adult lives supporting libertarian causes and fighting against socialist tendencies of any sort.

They’re particularly fond of supporting ALEC anti-labor and right-to-work legislation across the country. And in Wisconsin, they’ve showed a particularly venomous bent by supporting an anti public employee, anti-teacher union,  anti-environmental and pro corporate  agenda. Wisconsin, a birthplace of the Progressive movement, now represents the worst of corporate controlled state government.

Some recent polls show Millennials and younger Americans harbor an increasing distaste for the predatory form of capitalism practiced by trump, the Koch’s and others. When these old buzzards have all died off, hopefully a more democratic form of social community will emerge and begin to reverse America’s enormous wealth and income disparity.

Image result for Koch Brothers Pictures

I don’t wish to leave the impression that all rich folks are like these turkey vultures. A large group of wealthy Americans signed petitions and supported efforts to defeat the Republi-con tax cut fraud. They actually believed their taxes should be raised instead of cut. And there are many thousands who obey the law, pay their fair share of taxes, or even more, aren’t afraid to show their tax returns, play by the rules, share their wealth and good fortune with their governments, their communities and their employees and partners. They support the commons, don’t cheat, tell the truth and from all appearances, are well respected happy human beings.

The Koch’s typically re-invest more that 90% of their profits back into their companies. They’re the number one supporter of conservative, Republican, libertarian, anti-labor and anti-social welfare and anti-socialist programs. I guess that doesn’t leave much for charitable donations.

Compare that to Warren Buffet and the Gate’s family (including Bill’s wife Melinda and his father). In July of 2017, Mr. Buffet donated another $3.17 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities. That brings his total contributions since 2006 to $30 billion or more. Buffet has pledged more than 99% of his wealth to charity during his lifetime or within 10 years of the settlement of his estate. The Gates have also donated more than $30 billion of their wealth to their foundation. In 2010, Buffet and Gates created the Giving Pledge program, which encourages billionaires throughout the world to donate at least half their fortunes to charity. As of 2017, there have been 173 pledgers. Mr. Buffet still owns 17 percent of Berkshire, despite donating more than 40 percent of his stock. I think one can be sure that trump, the Koch’s and others of their ilk are not Giving Pledgers.

I believe an overwhelming number of humans, if blessed with the Koch’s wealth and power, would be thankful to keep just a few hundred million or half a billion dollars for themselves and their families and then donate the rest to those in need; and would also spend their time making this world a better place. I’m sure most of us would not spend so much money and effort fighting attempts to increase the minimum wage and living wages for public employees, teachers and organized laborers.

Or  would not spend millions to defeat and overturn the lifesaving Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and would not support efforts to stop the inevitable march to single payer health care for all Americans. We would not stay up nights scheming ways to cripple Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social welfare programs for the poor and middle-class. We would not be obsessed with turning a vibrant and prosperous middle-class into a horde of desperate workers willing to work for peanuts.

What drives these folks to deny others just a little bit of the good fortune they’ve been blessed with? I remember the July 2007 Senator Ted Kennedy speech in the U.S. Senate, advocating for an increase in the $5.15 minimum wage to $7.25 over a 2 year period, which hadn’t been increased in 10 years because Republicans filibustered any vote on the bills. After 5 whole days of debate, Kennedy asked: “$240 billion in tax cuts for corporations, $36 billion in tax breaks for small businesses, a 42% increase in productivity, but no increase in the minimum wage. What is the price you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do they have to give? and “When does the greed stop?”

And what drives people like the Koch’s to plunder the earth by destructive  mining and fossil fuel extraction, including the dirtiest of all toxic tar sand mining and pipelines, no matter the harm to our environment? Why do they risk destroying America’s air and precious water just so they can become even richer? “When does the greed stop?

These predatory capitalists will try their damnedest to accumulate as much money as they can – any way they can. Buying political fealty is their primary modus operandi. This current crop of elected Republi-con enablers have forsaken all integrity and sense of duty to the American people. No deviancy from the normal is too low to stoop for this corrupt white house and republi-con congress. Even conspiring with the Russians is not a bridge too. And attacking and tearing down the free press and our Democratic institutions, including the Justice Department, is part of their tyrannical grand plan.

Unless the corporate and toxic dark money is wrenched from our political system, nothing much will change; the enormous infusion of mega donor payoffs are too tempting for low character republi-con supplicants to pass up. Public financing of campaigns is the only real answer.

The Koch’s are worried that their paid political sycophants in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures across the country, even in red states, are heading for a 2018 mid-term ass-whoopin. Its patriotic American’s job to make their premonition come true. Vote for folks who will stand up for women, for workers, for immigrants and dreamers, for our environment, for our National Parks and public lands, for common sense and science, for public education, for American Democracy, for a free and fair media and most importantly, for the truth.


Koch Network Plans to Spend $400 Million in U.S. Midterm Cycle


Koch Network Plans to Spend $400 Million in U.S. Midterm Cycle

John McCormick, Bloomberg            January 27, 2018

 Charles Koch and David Koch.

The conservative political network led by billionaires Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to $400 million on policy and politics during the two-year election cycle that culminates with November’s midterm elections, a roughly 60 percent increase over 2015-16.

That will include as much as $20 million in 2018 to sell to voters the Republican tax cuts signed in December by President Donald Trump, about the same amount Koch-affiliated groups spent on promoting the legislation in 2017, officials with the Koch network said Saturday.

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The plans were outlined to reporters at a three-day summit for some 550 donors and potential donors at a desert resort near Palm Springs, California. Previously, the organization had pledged to spend $300 million to $400 million this election cycle, up from the roughly $250 million it shelled out during the 2015-2016 campaign season.

Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-affiliated advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, said the spending would be the “largest investment we’ve ever had in a midterm election.” The money will be spread across a network that has a presence in more than 30 states and a voter-turnout operation that rivals that of the Republican Party.

Left ‘Energized’

For Republicans, 2018 will be a “very challenging environment at the federal and state level,” Phillips said. The party that controls the White House typically loses seats in the midterm elections — an outcome made more likely by Trump’s historic unpopularity.

Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats to take the House and two to secure a majority in the Senate, an outcome well within the bounds of historical precedent in midterms.

“The left is energized,” Phillips said. “There is no question about that, and it’s prudent for folks to understand that.”

The Koch network is unlikely to get involved with Republican primaries, Phillips said.

That’s a different approach from another powerful force in conservative politics. Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said earlier this month that his organization would challenge candidates in Republican primaries when it thinks an individual is too extreme to be successful in a general election.

Much of the Koch group’s messaging in 2018 will focus on the tax law, Phillips said, as he outlined plans for rallies, phone banks, and broadcast television and online ads. “You’ve got to go out there and sell the benefits,” he said.

Charles Koch, 82, expressed optimism for the conservative movement as he welcomed donors who were standing amid palm trees, sipping cocktails.

“I’m more excited about what we’re doing and about the opportunities than I’ve ever been,” he said. “We have made more progress in the last five years than I had in the previous 50.”

With more than 700 donors who give a minimum of $100,000 per year and more than 100,000 donors overall, the Koch network has convened similar gatherings twice annually since 2003.

Expected speakers — all Republican — include Governors Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Doug Ducey of Arizona, Representatives Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Todd Young of Indiana.

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The GOP has a major millennial issue, new poll shows


The GOP has a major millennial issue, new poll shows

By Stacey Leasca       January 30, 2018

The Republican Party could be in serious trouble when it comes to attracting younger voters, according to a new in-depth NBC News/GenForward survey.

The survey of “racially and ethnically diverse young adults” found that not only do 63% of millennials think the country under the Trump administration is on the wrong track, but they also believe Republicans don’t care about them or issues they see as relevant.

The majority of the those polled — 63% — said they disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing, and 61% disapprove of Congress.

Evan Siegfried tweet: Worrisome numbers for GOP in NBC News millennial poll:

•63% disapprove of Trump
•72% say GOP “doesn’t care about people like me”
•Only 17% identify as GOP & 57% of them as “not very strong” Republicans
•63% say country headed in wrong direction

These numbers indicate how young people feel about the Republican Party in general — according to the poll, 62% of the polled age demographic holds unfavorable views of the party. This is likely to affect the 2018 midterm elections, as nearly half of those surveyed said they were either planning to or leaning toward voting for whoever the Democratic congressional candidate is in their locality. Just 25% said they were leaning toward or planning to vote for the Republican candidate.

Perhaps even more concerning for the GOP and Democrats: a quarter of the millennials surveyed said they were neither planning to vote for, nor leaning toward voting for, either major party’s candidate. This could mean they plan to vote third party, or not at all. The GOP’s millennial problem, according to some insiders, could be a result of the over-the-top rhetoric displayed by Republicans in the media.

“The GOP brand is severely tarnished among this entire generation of Americans, as a paltry one in five millennials identify with the GOP or conservative values,” Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist and commentator, wrote in an op-ed for NBC News. “We are perceived as waging a ‘War on Women’ because of our policies regarding the right to life and outlandish figures like former Rep. Todd Akin who make ridiculous statements that a woman’s body can’t get pregnant in a case of ‘legitimate rape.’”

Evan Siegfried tweet: The GOP’s millennial problem existed long before Trump. However, he has only cemented the divide, as Trump is the prism through which the GOP is viewed.

Siegfried argued that millennials have “bought into the idea” that Republicans only care about the super wealthy. The NBC News/GenForward poll showed to be true — 85% of respondents said they agree with the statement that the government is run by a few big interests “looking out for themselves and their friends.”

But Siegfried believes the GOP can fix its image by engaging with issues millennials care about, including fixing the student loan crisis, rethinking health care and criminal justice reform.

Evan Siegfried tweet: The notion that millennials don’t have jobs, are lazy, want free stuff, etc. is part of why the GOP has a millennial problem. Reality is they’re the largest part of the workforce, most fiscally conservative gen since Great Depression & don’t want to associate with us in the GOP

“The question is not if, but when the Republican Party’s leaders will remove their heads from the sand and finally address the problem the party has with millennial voters,” he wrote. “The longer they take, the bigger the electoral calamity, and the Republican Party will only have itself to blame.”

Siegfried does miss a few key points highlighted by the poll, including noting that Republicans may need to get on board with continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children the ability to live and work in the country legally. This is an issue millennials appear to care deeply about.

In a statement to Ebony, NBC News/Gen Forward explained, “millennials across race and ethnicity groups overwhelmingly agree that undocumented individuals who currently meet DACA eligibility should be granted citizenship. Over 75% of millennials share this view.”

Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history, with 44% of those within the age demographic identifying as a minority, according to the Brookings Institute. Just 33% of millennials identify as Republican or Republican-leading, according to Pew Research Center.

Stacey Leasca is a news writer with Mic. Her byline has appeared in Travel+Leisure, the Los Angeles Times, GOOD Magazine and more. When not writing you can find her surfing in Southern California.


Koch network to spend $400 million during 2018 midterm election cycle

The Hill

Koch network to spend $400 million during 2018 midterm election cycle

By Jonathan Easley      January 27, 2018

© Getty Images

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The network of groups affiliated with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will spend more than $400 million on conservative causes and candidates in the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said Saturday that the investment would be the network’s largest election-cycle investment ever – 60 percent greater than the 2016 presidential cycle – as Republicans seek to protect majorities in the House and Senate against stiff political winds.

The network notably stayed out of the 2016 presidential contest between President Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, although it spent heavily on Republican candidates and conservative causes.

Some of the $400 million for 2018 will be spent on electing GOP candidates. The network also plans to spend heavily promoting tax reform and other achievements of the GOP-controlled government, including Veterans Affairs reforms and Trump’s conservative judicial picks.

“We’re all in,” Phillips said, adding that the political landscape indicates that 2018 is “going to be a challenging year” for Republicans.

The party in power historically suffers losses in a midterm election.

Generic ballot polling for the House shows Democrats with a double-digit lead and Trump’s historically low approval rating for a first-term president could be a drag on the party.

The GOP’s effort to hold on to the House has been complicated by a raft of retirements and there are worries that an energized liberal base could send the GOP to substantial losses.

Still, fundraising has been a bright spot for the GOP, with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and outside groups aimed at electing Republicans raising enormous sums in 2017 to protect their majorities.

Hundreds of top conservative donors affiliated with Koch network have gathered this weekend at the exclusive Indian Wells resort in the California desert to strategize ahead of the 2018 midterms elections.

“We’re looking for candidates, policy-makers who can credibly commit to helping people improve their lives,” said Brian Hooks, the co-chairman of the Winter Seminar.

The Koch network spent $20 million in support of the GOP’s tax reform bill and plans to spend another $20 million to advertise its benefits, Hooks said.

“We’re hopeful,” Phillips said. “When you look at recent coverage of the public’s view of tax reform, it’s going up as they see pay raises.”

The Koch network has attracted its biggest crowd of members ever to the Winter Seminar, with 550 conservative activists from around the country, including 160 first-timers, who have descended on the California desert to strategize ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“Charles Koch has challenged us and the other leaders in the network to step things up by an order of magnitude, that means 10 fold,” said Hooks, the co-chair of the Winter Seminar. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

LPGA golfer on Trump’s golf game: ‘He cheats like hell’

Yahoo News

LPGA golfer on Trump’s golf game: ‘He cheats like hell’

Jay Busbee, Devil Ball Golf          January 29, 2018 

Suzann Pettersen and Donald Trump in 2007. (Getty)

President Donald Trump takes great pride in his golf game, and plenty of notable names have attested to the president’s astonishing, borderline-unbelievable skill on the golf course. But now comes a new perspective.

Suzann Pettersen, a 15-time winner on the LPGA Tour and a frequent playing partner of Trump’s, gave an interview to Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang in which she talked about her friendship with the president … and she didn’t hold back in her assessment of his game.

“He cheats like hell,” Pettersen said, “so I don’t quite know how he is in business. They say that if you cheat at golf, you cheat at business. I’m pretty sure he pays his caddie well, since no matter how far into the woods he hits the ball, it’s in the middle of the fairway when we get there.” The newspaper notes that Pettersen was “laughing heartily” as she spoke, so spin that however you wish.

Pettersen also noted that Trump picked up the final putt of every round she’d played with him, avoiding that one extra stroke. “He always says he is the world’s best putter,” she said. “But in all the times I’ve played him, he’s never come close to breaking 80.”

That’s a pretty sharp contrast from what others have said about the president’s game, like Sen. Lindsey Graham:

Aspiring pro Taylor Funk said the president shot a front-line 36 when they played recently. Tiger Woods has offered some more measured praise, saying about a year ago that he was impressed with “how far [Trump] hits the ball at 70 years old. He takes a pretty good lash.”

Trump apparently saves his best games for the times when Pettersen isn’t on the course. “[W]hat’s strange is that every time I talk to him he says he just golfed a 69, or that he set a new course record or won a club championship some place,” she said. “I just laugh. I’m someone who likes being teased and I like teasing others, and Trump takes it well, and that must be why he likes me.”

Pettersen said she considers Trump a friend—she caught some heat on Twitter for congratulating him on his victory in November 2016—but adds that she is “not a supporter of what he says or stands for.” She added that she takes Trump’s words in what she considers a proper perspective: “I’m sure he has said things that can be hurtful to a lot of people, but I take everything he says with a pinch of salt. I know where it’s coming from.”

After the story was published, Pettersen tried to walk back the implication that Trump was a cheater by using the same tired “fake news” line that always seems to come up when facts don’t line up with feelings:

So either the reporter falsified an entire raft of detailed quotes about Trump’s corner-cutting on the golf course, or Pettersen saw how the words looked in print and tried to recant. You can decide for yourself which you believe, but it’s worth noting that half a dozen other people from Oscar de la Hoya to Samuel L. Jackson to Alice Cooper have either stated or strongly, strongly hinted that Trump cheats on the golf course.

Believe what you want to believe, friends. But if you ever get a chance to golf with the president, make sure to let us know how it goes.
____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Joe Kennedy III carries the Kennedy legacy into the fight against Trump

Yahoo News

Joe Kennedy III carries the Kennedy legacy into the fight against Trump

Jon Ward           January 30, 2018

Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy IIIRep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass. (Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP)

When Republicans called Joe Kennedy III “rich” and “boring” the day before he was to deliver the Democratic response to President Trump’s first State of the Union address, they were really saying something else.

“There’s no there there,” they were saying. “He’s an empty suit. He is coasting on his family name and money.”

If you’re a Kennedy, it’s a familiar charge. Joe’s great-uncle Ted Kennedy, the former U.S. senator who died in 2009, was treated as “a joke” when he first ran for the Senate as a 30-year old assistant district attorney.

Sure enough, when Joe III first ran for Congress in 2012 — also on the basis of a résumé that mostly amounted to three years as an assistant DA — someone at a debate leveled the same epithet at him. “If your name were Joseph Patrick … and not Joseph Patrick Kennedy, based on your life experiences, would not your campaign be a joke?” a debate audience member asked.

As late as 1980, after 18 years in the Senate, Ted Kennedy had to confront the accusation that he was presuming to inherit the presidency from his late brother John, and his quest for the Democratic nomination fell short.

Joe III’s own father, Joe Kennedy II, abandoned a 1997 gubernatorial bid in Massachusetts because of a personal scandal, another recurring theme in Ted’s life and in the Kennedy family as a whole. But Joe II was also bedeviled by an over-reliance on his last name and the lack of a compelling vision for his candidacy.

In August 1997, Joe Kennedy II, joined by his wife Beth, announced he would not be running for governor. (Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

That background, and the Kennedy penchant for bad behavior, may explain why Joe III was such a straight arrow in college — Stanford, not Harvard, although he went to Harvard Law School — abstaining from alcohol and gaining a reputation as a highly conscientious student. It sheds some light on why he spent two years with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.

On his office wall, there is a quote from his grandfather Robert F. Kennedy, the former attorney general who was assassinated in 1968 while running for president. “You can use your enormous privilege and opportunity to seek purely private pleasure and gain, but history will judge you,” the RFK quote reads.

Unlike his great-uncle Ted, Joe III seems to wear the weight of expectations well. He understands the power of the Kennedy name, springing from John F. Kennedy’s charismatic presidency and his martyrdom in 1963.

But he has been in no rush to become a political star. Kennedy, 37, has been a member of Congress for five years now and has remained relatively unknown beyond his district. He missed the December House vote on the Republican tax bill to be with his wife — whom he met at Harvard Law in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s class — for the birth of the couple’s second child.

“I don’t think he gets out ahead of himself,” said Paul Watanabe, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “He has been somebody who focuses on being what young congress-people do, which is focus on their district, focus on constituent services.”

Joe Kennedy III officially launches his campaign for Congress on Thursday in Newton, Mass. (Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Chosen by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to speak Tuesday night after Trump, Kennedy will now have much more visibility — and scrutiny. Already he has faced questions about his wealth, which was estimated at around $18 million in 2015. The Boston Globe reported in 2016 that Kennedy owned as much as half a million dollars’ worth of stock in a drug company called Gilead Sciences, which makes a hepatitis C drug that costs patients $1,000 a pill.

Even if many younger voters don’t know much about the Kennedy history, this new phase for Kennedy will bring more intense pressures on him.

“For people who may have loathed the Kennedys and saw them as representative of all that’s bad in the country — and there’s many of them — they may shift that to Joe,” Watanabe said. “On the other hand, many loved the Kennedys and thought everything they did was gold. On both sides it’s a little unfair and too much responsibility to bear.”

“The important thing is whether he comes out of this as his own person, and as a politician of the future and not of the past,” Watanabe said.

Kennedy family allies like Robert Shrum, a former adviser to Ted Kennedy, seem most anxious for Joe III to create some separation from the family heritage conveyed by his last name.

“I think he should be judged on his own, not as part of the family, or not as some kind of heir to Kennedy politics,” Shrum said.

Kennedy has gained some attention this past year. His remarks in a committee hearing challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan’s characterization of efforts to repeal Obamacare as an “act of mercy” went viral. A few other speeches have also drawn attention on social media.

But one of Kennedy’s more notable speeches came a year before he ran for Congress, when he addressed the Massachusetts legislature during a 2011 ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration.

Joseph Kennedy IIIJoseph Kennedy III at the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration at the State House in Boston. (Photo: David L Ryan/Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Kennedy stood at the lectern with Ted’s widow, Vickie, seated on the dais behind him and began his remarks with a joke about JFK and former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who also was a Massachusetts Democrat and a close Kennedy family ally.

Near the end of his 10-minute speech, Kennedy turned emotional as he spoke about the death of his grandfather, and connected it to the most recent violence in American politics. Rep. Gabby Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, had been shot in the head just a few days before.

Kennedy traced the roots of political violence back to extreme language, and he blamed both Republicans and Democrats for creating “an atmosphere of hate.”

“For too long the rhetoric in Washington has been toxic: antiwar protesters holding up signs saying ‘Death to terrorist pig Bush’; tea party protesters shouting out racist and antigay slurs to members of Congress; protesters shouting out ‘Death to Cheney’; radio talk show hosts calling President Obama and Democrats communists and traitors; images of both political parties showing opponents in the crosshairs of a rifle scope,” Kennedy said.

“This isn’t what President Kennedy stood for. It isn’t what [Martin Luther] King or Robert Kennedy stood for. They took on the big problems of our world. They looked to those common threads that unite us rather than diving into the identity politics to find those that divide us,” he said.

Kennedy’s willingness to call out both political parties could position him to speak to the whole nation Tuesday night. His speeches, Shrum said, include “the kind of thing that Democrats need to be saying if we’re going to reconnect with some of the people we lost in 2016, while keeping the people we had.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.Kennedy speaks in support of transgender members of the military, July 26, 2017. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

And Kennedy’s condemnation of “identity politics” presaged a debate among Democrats now in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump. Liberals like Mark Lilla and others have blamed Clinton’s loss on a “fixation on diversity” that “has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.”

Kennedy is certainly no cultural conservative. His guest at the State of the Union speech will be a transgender member of the U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. Patricia King. And he has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights.

But as he speaks to the entire country following Trump, whose first year as president has been defined by divisiveness, Kennedy may sound notes like the ones he closed with in 2011, which called on themes made into mantras by JFK and generations of Democrats after him.

“In times such as these, our commitment to each other and to our country cannot dip but is more critical than ever, drawing once again to something greater than ourselves, to lives of service and sacrifice, courage and judgment, integrity and dedication,” Kennedy said. “These are the ideals that ought to endure, rather than partisan rancor, naked self-interest, and other corrosive effects of promoting social divisions, a kind of moral gerrymandering that saps our spirit and degrades our collective will.”

The bar has already been lowered too much for trump


The Rachael Maddow Show / The Maddow Blog

The bar has already been lowered too much for trump

Steve Benen         January 29, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 27: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Governors Association meeting in the State Dining Room of the…

Donald Trump spoke on Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he lied repeatedly about his record and was booed for attacking journalists. Some pundits nevertheless praised the president’s appearance, not because it was necessarily impressive, but because he managed to act “more like a normal president.”

It sets the stage for tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, and the reaction from many commentators that we already know is coming. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) published a prediction this morning:

“I predict that the President will read prepared remarks and pundits will swoon like it’s the Gettysburg Address.”

It’s hard to blame the senator for his pessimism. After all, we have seen some evidence along these lines.

A few weeks ago at the White House, Trump hosted a lengthy, televised discussion with lawmakers about immigration policy. During the conversation, the president briefly endorsed the opposite of his stated position, only to be pulled back by a House Republican leader who had to remind Trump what he was supposed to think.

And yet, because expectations for this president are so low, he drew some media praise. Trump managed to go an hour in public without insulting key constituencies or creating an international incident, and so, benefiting from an overly generous curve, some observers concluded that he seemed at least mildly impressive.

There was also Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, delivered about a year ago at this time, which was a substantive mess, but which was hailed as a political triumph by a few too many observers.

Politico ran a piece that asked, “Was this the Trump that could win in 2020?” CNN ran a splash headline in a big font, declaring, “Presidential Trump.” Fox News’ Chris Wallace went so far as to say, “I thought it was by far the best speech I ever heard Donald Trump give. It was one of the best speeches – in that setting – that I’ve heard any president give.”

Look, I appreciate the circumstances. In a 2016 primary debate, Donald Trump went so far as to brag about his genitals to a national television audience. When a politician demonstrates that level of crude classlessness, almost any public appearance in which he manages to stay clothed will look statesmanlike by comparison.

But there’s no reason to lower presidential standards to such an embarrassing level. It’s likely that Trump will manage to read from his trusted teleprompter tomorrow night. It’s unlikely to change the trajectory of his presidency.

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump

New York Times | OP-ED COLUMNIST

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump

David Leonhardt      January 28, 2018

President Trump arriving at the White House on Friday. Credit: Eric Thayer for The New York Times

There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.

But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.

The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.

Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.

  1. During a dinner at the White House on Jan. 27, 2017, Trump asked for a pledge of “loyalty” from James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, who was overseeing the investigation of the Trump campaign.
  2. On Feb. 14, Trump directed several other officials to leave the Oval Office so he could speak privately with Comey. He then told Comey to “let this go,” referring to the investigation of Michael Flynn, who had resigned the previous day as Trump’s national security adviser.
  3. On March 22, Trump directed several other officials to leave a White House briefing so he could speak privately with Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director. Trump asked them to persuade Comey to back off investigating Flynn.
  4. In March and April, Trump told Comey in phone calls that he wanted Comey to lift the ”cloud” of the investigation.
  5. On May 9, Trump fired Comey as F.B.I. director. On May 10, Trump told Russian officials that the firing had “taken off” the “great pressure” of the Russia
  6. On May 17, shortly after hearing that the Justice Department had appointed Mueller to take over the Russia investigation, Trump berated Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. The appointment had caused the administration again to lose control over the investigation, and Trump accused Sessions of “disloyalty.”
  7. In June, Trump explored several options to retake control. At one point, he ordered the firing of Mueller, before the White House counsel resisted.
  8. On July 8, aboard Air Force One, Trump helped draft a false public statement for his son, Donald Trump Jr. The statement claimed that a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was about adoption policy. Trump Jr. later acknowledged that the meeting was to discuss damaging information the Russian government had about Hillary Clinton.
  9. On July 26, in a tweet, Trump called for the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, a potential corroborating witness for Comey’s conversations with Trump. The tweet was part of Trump’s efforts, discussed with White House aides, to discredit F.B.I. officials.
  10. Throughout, Trump (and this quotation comes from the Nixon article of impeachment) “made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” Among other things, Trump repeatedly made untruthful statements about American intelligence agencies’ conclusions regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Obstruction of justice depends on a person’s intent — what legal experts often call “corrupt intent.” This list is so damning because it reveals Trump’s intent.

He has inserted himself into the details of a criminal investigation in ways that previous presidents rarely if ever did. (They left individual investigations to the attorney general.) And he has done so in ways that show he understands he’s doing something wrong. He has cleared the room before trying to influence the investigation. He directed his son to lie, and he himself has lied.

When the framers were debating impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: “Shall any man be above justice?”

The same question faces us now: Can a president use the power of his office to hold himself above the law? Trump is unlikely to face impeachment anytime soon, or perhaps anytime at all. But it’s time for all of us — voters, members of Congress, Trump’s own staff — to be honest about what he’s done. He has obstructed justice.

He may not be finished doing so, either.

You can join me on Twitter (@DLeonhardt) and Facebook. I am also writing a daily email newsletter and invite you to subscribe.

Toxic Humans Are Now in Control of Our Environmental Protection.


Scott Pruitt is slowly strangling the EPA

The unprecedented regulatory slowdown and rollbacks at the Environmental Protection Agency.

By Umair Irfan      January 29, 2018

Javier Zarracina/Vox

The mandate of the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and enforce environmental regulations.

Yet since he was confirmed last February, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has worked to stall or roll back this core function of his agency, efforts he’s now celebrating with posters:

Eric Lipton @EricLiptonNYT: EPA has put these posters up at agency buildings. Celebrating regulatory rollbacks.

He’s also taken some highly unusual, even paranoid, precautions, armoring himself with a 24/7 security detail, building a $25,000 secret phone booth in his office, spending $9,000 to sweep his office for surveillance bugs, and hiding his schedule from the public. When one employee turned one of the celebratory posters around, Pruitt assigned a worker to look through security camera records to see who did it, Newsweek reported.

Pruitt’s posters are a list of the regulatory rollbacks he’s delivered to his allies in coal, oil, gas, and chemicals industries. These gifts include the reversal of a ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental problems in children.

Some of the biggest changes Pruitt has made at the EPA have come by not doing anything at all. He’s steering the EPA’s work at an agonizingly slow pace, delaying and slowing the implementation of laws and running interference for many of the sectors EPA is supposed to regulate.

With more staff and funding cuts looming, even fewer toxic chemicals and other environmental hazards will be measured, and the statues that protect against them won’t be enforced.

“People will get sick and die,” Christine Todd Whitman, who served as EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, told Vox. “It’s that simple.” Some 230,000 Americans already die each year due to hazardous chemical exposures. “You stop enforcing those regulations and that number will go way up,” she said.

Chaos at the White House and on Capitol Hill has provided Pruitt cover to quietly position himself, his critics argue, as the greatest threat to the EPA in its entire existence. But some lawmakers and the courts are starting to catch onto him. Since the EPA’s inception, it’s been the judiciary that’s again and again beaten back attempts to undermine the agency from the inside. This year is again shaping up to be momentous.

States are now suing to block Pruitt’s regulatory changes, and federal judges are starting to force him to speed up. Pruitt will have to choose between knock-down, drag-out legal fights to deliver for his allies in industry or fold and grudgingly enforce environmental rules. Whatever he decides, Congress, courts, industry, and activists will be watching.

There’s a massive, unprecedented slowdown going on across the EPA

Pruitt can’t simply repeal all the rules he doesn’t like, so he’s had to embrace a different strategy: stall.

Much of EPA’s work is governed by statute, so dismantling most environmental regulations requires an arduous rule-making process that requires public comments, as well as new rules to comply with the law. The whole endeavor is inevitably beset by lawsuits at every step.

“In order to roll back rules, you have to not just have a different policy inclination,” said former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who worked under President Barack Obama. “If you have a final rule, you actually have to find a flaw with the rule, you have to justify it.”

By stalling, Pruitt can effectively shift policy by doing nothing. If he leaves regulations in limbo or delays their implementation, industries get relief from environmental rules while the EPA retains plausible deniability. The result is a drastic slowdown in the pace of work at an agency that faces a constant churn of new rules, regulations, enforcement actions, and lawsuits that affect the health, safety, and livelihoods of millions of Americans.

Here are some of the environmental rules, actions, and proposals that have become mired in the morass:

  • The EPA announced it was seeking a two-year delay in implementing the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which defines the waterways that are regulated by the agency under the Clean Water Act.
  • In May, the EPA dialed backtracking the health impacts of more than a dozen hazardous chemicals at the behest of a Trump appointee at the agency, Nancy Beck.
  • The agency has said nothing about counties that failed to meet new ozone standards by an October 2017 deadline and now face fines.
  • Environmental law enforcement has declined. By September, the Trump administration launched 30 percent fewer cases and collected about 60 percent fewer fines than in the same period under President Obama.
  • The EPA punted on regulations on dangerous solvents like methylene chloride, a paint stripper, that were already on track to be banned, instead moving the process to “long term action.”
  • The EPA asked for a six-year schedule to review 17-year-old regulations on lead paint.
  • The implementation date of new safety procedures at chemical plants to prevent explosions and spills was pushed back to 2019.
  • Pruitt issued a directive to end “Sue & Settle,” a legal strategy that fast-tracks settlements for litigation filed against the EPA to force the agency to do its job. The agency will spend more time in courts fighting cases that it’s likely to lose.
  • The agency’s enforcement division now has to get approval from headquarters before investigating potential violations of environmental regulations, slowing down efforts to catch violators of laws like the Clean Water Act.

“The problem at EPA right now is there is a chilling effect on enforcement,” Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told E&E News.

Even programs Pruitt ostensibly liked are suffering under his leadership, like the cleanup of highly contaminated Superfund sites. In an interview with CBS, Pruitt said he’s aiming to take 27 to 30 sites fully or partially off the list this year. He’s also threatened to cut agency funds for pursuing polluters to make them pay for cleaning up these locations.

Pruitt has taken credit for removing seven Superfund sites from the list, but that work started years before he got to the agency and was completed before he took office, as Timothy Cama reported for The Hill.

The Superfund cleanup program is now run by Albert Kelly, an Oklahoma banker who was banned for life from the industry after receiving a $125,000 federal fine and has no experience in environmental remediation. The Intercept reported that Pruitt received loans from Kelly’s bank.

This is not to say that Pruitt isn’t deregulating the old-fashioned way as well. Under his leadership, the EPA already has tried to roll back at least 19 environmental regulations, from undoing proposed greenhouse gas regulations to relaxing standards for ozone pollution. (The EPA did not respond to requests for comment for this article.)

Just last week, the EPA announced it was going to allow some toxic chemical polluters to be held to a lower standard under the Clean Air Act, allowing them to increase emissions of substances like mercury, lead, and dioxin. The White House’s infrastructure plan would block the EPA from evaluating and rejecting projects based on their Environmental Impact Statements, the Washington Post reported.

“He is much more organized, much more focused than the other Cabinet-level officials, who have not really taken charge of their agencies,” Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University, told the New York Times. “Just the number of environmental rollbacks in this time frame is astounding.”

Losing the environmental protections established by the EPA could harm millions of Americans

The EPA is essentially an environmental public health agency. Its regulations directly affect millions of Americans as it diagnoses ailments in the air, water, and soil, to name a few, and prescribes solutions.

It has had a pretty great track record.

The Clean Air Act, for example, reduced conventional air pollutants by 70 percent since 1970. Substances like ozone, carbon monoxide, and lead have dangerous consequences for human health like heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory arrests.

According to one estimate, the legislation prevents 184,000 premature deaths each year and has saved $22 trillion in health care costs over a period of 20 years.

But enforcing these rules bears a cost as well, and critics say that continuing to make many of these regulations more stringent is regulatory malpractice since these rules are reaching diminishing returns, costing businesses and individuals more and more to comply with them. This is the main rationale for the White House’s aim to cut back on “job-killing”regulations.

Staff cuts and unfilled positions may be part of Pruitt’s strategy

It’s hard to tell whether the lingering vacancies at the EPA are a deliberate effort by Pruitt to avoid the congressional scrutiny that comes with every new appointee, or a consequence of the dysfunction inside the agency and the White House.

EPA has only filled five out of 14 positions that require Senate approval a year after Trump took office. Throughout the federal government, of the 624 positions that require congressional confirmation, only 242 slots have been filled, and 244 jobs don’t have any nominee at all.

Trump has suggested that many of these vacancies may never be filled.

“I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be —because you don’t need them,” he told Forbes in November. “I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people.”

The remaining EPA officials are now further constrained since the Federal Vacancies Reform Act deadline expired last November. The law prevents interim workers from performing many of their duties 300 days after inauguration.

“On Day 301, whenever that day might occur for a particular office, the office would be designated vacant, for purposes of the Vacancies Act, and only the head of the agency would be able to perform the functions and duties of that vacant office,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

That means every decision that would normally fall to a lower ranking official has to be kicked up to the top office. For an agency like EPA, that means actions on monitoring the environment, pursuing polluters, and filing lawsuits end up bottlenecked at the desk of Pruitt, who has shown little appetite for fulfilling the agency’s mandates to begin with.

More than 700 employees have left the agency since it began to try to buy out more than 1,200 workers began last year. And more staff cuts are likely still in store, though they may not be as severe as the 20 percent workforce cut requested in the White House’s initial budget.

Even Pruitt’s allies are perturbed by the EPA’s slow walking

Pruitt’s tenure leading the EPA has enraged environmental activists, but some of his deregulation allies are unhappy with the pace of work and staffing vacancies at the agency too.

Myron Ebell, who leads the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and led Pruitt’s transition team at the EPA, warned that not having enough staff in place means that the agency will miss statutory deadlines on regulations, leaving it open to further lawsuits that will sap time and money that could otherwise go toward permanently shrinking the scope of the agency.

“I started complaining, ‘Where are the nominees?’ in March,” Ebell said. “I think over time, this is going to catch up with them. They’re going to have failures and obstacles if they don’t have people in play.”

Another factor, according to Ebell, is that many of the career civil servants at the EPA are not on board with Pruitt, offering less-than-enthusiastic support for the Back to Basics agenda.

“The acting general counsel at EPA is a very competent lawyer and he’s a very nice guy but he’s not going to help Scott Pruitt implement his agenda,” Ebell said. “He’s going to slow walk that.”

This is dimming the prospects for rolling back many of the big prizes for anti-regulation Republicans like Pruitt, like undoing the 2009 endangerment finding for carbon dioxide, EPA’s legal basis for regulating greenhouse gases. These repeals stand to be long, messy fights that cut across law and science.

Many of these regulations took years to put together and will require years to take apart, endeavors that would likely not resolve until well into President Trump’s second term.

“It’s very clear to me that there’s no real intent to redo these things because there’s not a schedule to do these things, and it takes years for a process to revise these rules,” said former administrator McCarthy.

Instead, it seems the EPA is working to prevent the existing greenhouse gas regulations from going into effect as it scrambles to come up with a replacement rule for greenhouse gases by 2019.

Pruitt’s allies’ concern is that without getting these rollbacks enshrined in law, many of EPA’s environmental regulations could snap back into place under a future administration.

While the executive branch is slowing down environmental regulations, it’s speeding up judicial nominations. Many of these new judges are expected to rule on Pruitt’s agenda.

Pruitt, for his part, may be padding his resume for a run for office. He has demurred when asked about his political ambitions, but Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin hits her term limit in 2018, and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe plans to retire in 2020. He shot down swirling rumors that he may even be angling for the post of US attorney general should Jeff Sessions step down.

The courts are losing their patience with the agency and are now forcing Pruitt’s hand

Federal agencies like the EPA have broad license to interpret law. Under the Chevron doctrine, courts defer to agencies to interpret statutes on issues that Congress hasn’t addressed head-on.

Pruitt described his approach as paring back EPA’s regulations down to the bare minimum authorized by Congress.

“We aren’t deregulating,” he told the National Review. “We’re regulating in accordance with the law.”

However, federal courts don’t agree and are no longer deferring to the new administration. Courts have already blocked the EPA’s efforts to suspend rules on methane emissions and denied the EPA’s request to spend years researching lead paint, instead giving the agency 90 days to come up with a new regulation.

“I think you’re going to see courts get more involved in the work of the agency,” said former EPA general counsel Avi Garbow, who served under President Obama. “That judicial patience cannot be counted on forever.”

Others are taking a page from Pruitt’s old playbook. Already eight states are suing EPA for failing to expand ozone regulations. The EPA has set a target date of April 30 for designating areas of the country that are not meeting the new, stricter ozone standard.

In January 17 interview with CBS, Pruitt said that ozone is something “we most definitely have to regulate.” Michael Honeycutt, the new chair of EPA’s Science Advisory Board, said cutting ozone regulations would have a “negative health benefit.”

Meanwhile, other states are suing the department for not controlling air pollution moving across state lines. Some of the scientists who were ousted from the EPA’s advisory boards are now suing the agency, arguing that their removal violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Public lawsuits are also going forward to try to force the agency’s hand to fight climate change.

There are also some regulations Pruitt supports. He wants to remove lead from all drinking water in the United States in 10 years and has started taking comments on revising rules for water pipes. He also wants to control leaks of methane, the primary component in natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas.

All the while, lawmakers are also growing increasingly suspicious about Pruitt’s activities and are launching investigations. Michael Dourson, a former chemical industry consultant who was nominated to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, withdrew his name from consideration after facing stiff opposition from Congress.

Senate Democrats are preparing to grill Pruitt when he testifies this week before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. They are already putting together their agenda for the EPA administrator should they clinch control of the chamber this fall.

This means that in the coming year, the EPA will have to speed up its work as a regulator or face stiff legal consequences. “I do not think the agency is capable of replicating in 2018 the same degree of affirmative regulatory output that we saw in 2017,” Garbow said.

The laws that govern the EPA require action, and whether those demands come from Congress, the courts, or constituents, the agency needs to produce results that stand up to legal challenges from all sides on a deadline, Garbow said.

The goal is not just to give the regulatory certainty that industries crave, but to protect American lives. Pruitt may soon find out that doing nothing, or even very little, is not an option.

Got a tip or idea for stories about the EPA we should pursue? Contact Umair at, or on Keybase at umairfan.


Trump: ‘Ice Caps Were Going to Be Gone, But Now They’re Setting Records’


Trump: ‘Ice Caps Were Going to Be Gone, But Now They’re Setting Records’

Lorraine Chow      January 29, 2018

President Trump,  notorious for his views on climate change, again said something about the topic that’s the opposite of what’s actually happening.

“The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” POTUS told host Piers Morgan during an interview on UK television network ITV broadcast Sunday.

Well, the polar ice caps are indeed setting records—for melting. Here’s a GIF showing the extent of the frightening sea ice loss in the Arctic from 1979-2016.

And here’s a graph that NASA released last year showing how sea ice extent has sunk to record lows at both poles.

These line graphs plot monthly deviations and overall trends in polar sea ice from 1979 to 2017 as measured by satellites. The top line shows the Arctic; the middle shows Antarctica; and the third shows the global, combined total. The graphs depict how much the sea ice concentration moved above or below the long-term average. (They do not plot total sea ice concentration.) Arctic and global sea ice totals have moved consistently downward over 38 years. Antarctic trends are more muddled, but they do not offset the great losses in the Arctic.Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory

After the ITV interview, ten different climate scientists contacted by the Associated Press said Trump was wrong about climate change.

“Clearly President Trump is relying on alternative facts to inform his views on climate change. Ice on the ocean and on land are both disappearing rapidly, and we know why: increasing greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels that trap more heat and melt the ice,” Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis explained.

Trump’s comment was similar to one he tweeted in 2014: “the POLAR ICE CAPS are at an all time high, the POLAR BEAR population has never been stronger. Where the hell is global warming?”

Trump is a well known climate change denier who infamously said that global warming is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese. Since taking office, he and his administration have rolled back critical environmental protections and pushed for fossil fuels.

When ITV host Morgan asked Trump if he thinks climate change is even happening, the president replied, “There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. Right? That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

Of course, 2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño. The global ocean was the hottest on record, too.

Trump’s remark was consistent with the one he tweeted last month during a cold snap in the East Coast, when he confused temperature with climate. “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”

Morgan did not follow up by telling the president that his statements were scientifically untrue.

However, Trump did tell Morgan that he believes in “clean air. I believe in crystal-clear, beautiful water. I believe in just having good cleanliness in all.”

Also in the interview, Trump suggested he’s open to keeping the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement—even though he’s said before that landmark pact of keeping global average temperatures from rising 2°C “was a bad deal for the U.S.”

The reason being? He likes French President Emmanuel Macron, who has centered environmental action as a key presidential policy.

“The Paris accord, for us, would have been a disaster,” Trump said. “Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like Emmanuel.”

“I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the United States,” he added.

2017, wasn’t just one of the hottest years in modern history, it was also extremely costly. According to a recent report from the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record.”