The new number two in the Interior Department: A lobbyist against environmental protections

Even in the context of Donald Trump’s other anti-government, pro-corporate hires, his choice of industry lobbyist David Bernhardt for the No. 2 position in the Department of the Interior is remarkably cynical.

Bernhardt, who ran the natural resources department at lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, has spent the last several years working on behalf of oil and gas companies and large agribusiness to weaken environmental protections.

His lobbying appears to have continued into this current year:

The Campaign for Accountability accused Bernhardt of continuing to lobby for a client, the Westlands Water District in California, after withdrawing his registration as a lobbyist last November, the Washington Post reported Friday. In a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate the claim, the group contended Bernhardt edited a draft executive order for then-President-elect Donald Trump involving water issues that stood to benefit Westlands Water.

The suggestion here is

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Failed Gov. Sam Brownback to flee Kansas for a job as a Trump ‘ambassador at large’

Having driven the Kansas budget into a ditch by taking all of the Republican trickle-down nonsense conservative think tanks have long been demanding and stupidly putting it into practice, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is getting the hell out of Dodge—well, Topeka—and the $1 billion budget shortfall his policies created. After being reelected last November despite all of that, he’ll be quitting the job early and fleeing the state in the only getaway car he or Trump could come up with.

I mean, this is just sad.

President Donald Trump announced Brownback’s appointment as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Wednesday evening. Brownback had long been expected to be named to the post.

So, not even an ambassadorship to an actual country, but an ambassador-at-large position for the abstract concept of “religious freedom”, Republican-style. Sam Brownback, hapless destroyer of conservative economic propaganda, is now going off to stump for a new version of

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Less than 24 hours after demanding return to ‘regular order,’ John McCain votes against doing that

Yesterday evening, everyone’s favorite do-nothing “maverick” senator made an impassioned speech asking the Senate to cast aside their partisanship and work together, Democrats and Republicans, to pass meaningful healthcare reforms. For this he was once again feted by the punditry, for reasons that only they can adequately explain.

McCain asked in his speech that the Senate return to “regular order,” or as he put it two weeks ago in a similarly-themed press release:

The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.

This afternoon Democrats made a motion to do exactly that—send the health care bill to committee so that both parties could work together on it through regular Senate process rather than continuing this mish-mash of

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Top insurance CEOs openly blaming Trump sabotage for rate hikes and empty markets

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While the Senate stages the world’s deadliest bit of improvisational theater in an attempt to gut both the Affordable Care Act and, now, Medicaid as a whole, the Trump administration has been openly threatening to withhold federal subsidies to the insurers that make up the Obamacare marketplaces. That would obviously decimate those markets. Already, insurance companies are openly citing the uncertainty over whether they will be getting paid for double-digit rate increases.

Now Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish is making the point even more bluntly: If the Trump administration continues to threaten to withhold those payments, his company will be leaving some of those markets entirely.

Insurance giant Anthem, which has already withdrawn from the Obamacare marketplaces in three states, will pull out of more if the federal government doesn’t take action soon to stabilize the market, CEO Joseph Swedish told investors Wednesday. […]
“If we aren’t able

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A rather gullible Sen. Bob Corker: ‘I don’t get any sense at all’ Trump will fire Jeff Sessions

Republicans lawmakers continue to give Donald Effing Trump the benefit of the doubt, despite no past instance in which the obsessive, narcissistic lunatic has earned such a thing. Here’s Republican Sen. Bob Corker, doing his best impression of a man standing in front of a burning fireworks factory, telling everyone else there’s nothing to see here.

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Mind you, Trump has gone out of his way to insult Sessions and make it perfectly clear he has no confidence in the now-insufficiently loyal toady, firing him has evidently been the subject of ongoing White House discussions, and the White House has been floating names like Rudy Giuliani or Ted Cruz to be his replacement. But rest assured Sen. Bob Corker has

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Why won’t Reince Priebus quit? Because for better or worse, he’s Trump’s Republican Party handler

Donald Trump doesn’t like to fire people. He does, however, like to torture his staff to the greatest extent possible, pitting them against each other for his approval and, when he has become displeased with them, repeatedly humiliating them with the apparent goal of either entertaining himself or finally obliging them to resign.

News reports paint the raging narcissist as irritated that his public criticisms of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, haven’t been enough to get Sessions to resign. He’s reportedly been pondering whether he could replace him with Rudy 9/11 Giuliani, apparently as part of Trump’s ongoing effort to surround himself only with the most sycophantic of sycophants.

But it’s his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, who’s currently bearing the brunt of Trump’s wrath. Jonathan Swan writes:

• President Trump knew that appointing Anthony Scaramucci as communications director would humiliate Reince, who fought hard against it.
• Scaramucci

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House Republicans introduce amendments to defund the Congressional Budget Office

Faced with medical evidence that our nation’s epidemic of gun violence is, in fact, preventable, conservative lawmakers passed laws barring the nation’s government from investigating such things. Faced with mounting scientific evidence of global climate change, conservatives in various states have proposed or passed numerous restrictions on state governments developing plans to prepare for those changes.

So it stands to reason that when faced with the seemingly self-evident news that slashing Medicaid and undoing restrictions on which patients can be unceremoniously dumped by their insurers would, in fact, have the predictable effect of uninsuring millions, conservative House Republicans are introducing legislation to defund the Congressional Budget Office’s analysts and bar the agency from reporting such things in the future.

An amendment filed Monday by Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) would eliminate the agency’s Budget Analysis Division, cutting 89 jobs and $15 million of the CBO’s proposed $48.5 million budget.

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