(Entire clip is Bob Odenkirk swearing, so, you know, not safe for work or children or probably Paul Ryan)
What’s today’s hell?
It hasn’t been two weeks yet. For real. Everything bad that we thought was going to happen is even worse, and we don’t even have Jeff Sessions bringing his old-fashioned white nationalism into the AG office yet, where it can blend with Steve Bannon’s more modern brand. That’s coming soon though. But there are already a lot of signposts that everything we might have imagined is just the surface. Here are a few quick hits to start your day.
Moving to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s legacy on the environment and other issues, House Republicans approved a measure Wednesday that scuttles a regulation aimed at preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams.
“Make no mistake about it, this Obama administration rule is not designed to protect streams. Instead, it was an effort to regulate the coal mining industry right out of business,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who sponsored the disapproval measure on the stream protection rule.
The thing is, I sort of believe Rep. Johnson. I mean, he’s absolutely wrong, of course, but I believe he believes this. The modern GOP honestly can’t conceive that environmental legislations have any place or can do any good, so by default, they must be something insidious. But this is the perfect combination of Republicanism and Trumpism: his phony promise of “jobs!” combined with making life as miserable as possible for those with jobs. Destroying unions, letting the companies that deign to offer low-paying dangerous jobs poison the world of the workers, “tort reform” to break any possibility of legal recourse: it’s Upton Sinclair’s world all over again.
Oh, and in case you were wondering–they are reversing these regulations with an obscure 20-yr-old procedural step that has only been used once, to roll back dangerous Clinton-era ergonomic standards. NPR explains why this is so dangerous.
ROTT: House Republicans are looking to use the Congressional Review Act. This is a rarely, rarely used legislative tool. It allows Congress to review new agency rules like the ones we just talked about, something like the stream protection rule which took seven years to put in place, and it only takes a simple majority in the House and Senate and a presidential signature for that rule to be stopped. It could be just an hour of debate, and that should be very doable for Republicans.
MARTIN: How binding are these rollbacks? I mean, if and when Democrats regain control of Congress, can they just bring them back?
ROTT: No, and that is the catch with this Congressional Review Act. The federal government under it can’t reissue a regulation that is substantially similar to the one that they overturned. So that means that if the stream protection rule is overturned, something that’s, quote, unquote, “substantially similar” can’t be put in place by the federal government or an agency. Now, because this method is so rare the definition of that substantially similar clause has never really been challenged in court. So it’s hard to say just what would be deemed to be too similar. It’s likely that a court would have to decide it.
(Lest you think they only made moves that would screw over American workers, they also enabled foreign corruption by “vot(ing) to rescind a separate rule requiring companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments relating to mining and drilling.”)
Trump To Aussies: Oy!
Not everyone agrees with the sourced WaPo report about Trump’s conversation with Aussie PM Turnbull, in which “U.S. officials said that he used his calls (with Turnbull and Peña Nieto) to mention his election win or the size of the crowd at his inauguration,” but everyone agrees it was incredibly contentious and potentially damaging.
(And also, of course you believe that, and you should. He brings up his meager win and invisible crowds all the time. The theory is he’s using this to show world leaders that he has unlimited capital, but he forgets these aren’t cowed small businesses. They can read a paper.)
The heart of the conversation, which both sides agree on, is that Trump wants to welch on an agreement to take 1250 refugees from Australia. 1250! That’s like a mid-sized apartment building. But for Trump, any humanity is a bridge too far, and so he fumed and pouted and spoke apocalyptically about “another Boston” as if that was the only bad thing that’s ever happened in the world, and insulted a close ally by hanging up when he didn’t immediately get what he wanted.
This is part petulance and ignorance and manchild pouting, obviously, but it’s also part of a plan to get what he wants. It’s how he deals: by acting like a child. He figures other people will be responsible and not blow things up so he’ll get what he wants. This is apparently how business works at high level, in case you were wondering.
And maybe that can “work” on some level, and Australia, not wanting to blow up relations with the US, will back off. And Trump will have a huge win by denying those people the chance at a decent life. But this isn’t how the world works. He’s already posioning any possible relationship to get short term wins, which is how, as a con man, he’s built his businesses. Short wins then get out with someone else holding the bag.
The problem is there’s literally nowhere for him to go. These things will catch up. And while he’ll go down in history as probably our worst President, which seemed certain to be Buchanan forever, he won’t go alone. We’re all holding the bag. We will all recieve the butcher’s bill.