Professional analysts respond to Republican incompetence and cowardice

❝ Top Republican legislators have spent months now attacking the Congressional Budget Office. House Speaker Paul Ryan derided the agency’s Obamacare numbers as “bogus,” speaking to reporters at an event in Massachusetts Thursday.

The CBO directors are fighting back. All eight signed on to a letter Friday to raise a “strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency.”

❝ The letter continues:

Relying on CBO’s estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress  —  and the American people  —  very well during the past four decades. As the House and Senate consider potential policy changes this year and in the years ahead, we urge you to maintain and respect the Congress’s decades-long reliance on CBO’s estimates in developing and scoring bills.

❝ This is the first time, I’m told, that all eight former directors have signed on to a joint letter. The group includes those appointed by Republicans and Democrats

❝ The CBO directors don’t expect to become a regular presence in the fight over the office’s numbers. One reason there was some hesitation to put out the letter is that they didn’t want to commit to an ongoing feud with Congress — but felt the attacks had become fevered enough to warrant a response.

As the former CBO director I spoke with put it to me, “We believe in the norms of our political system. And we believe, strongly, that the CBO is one of those norms.”

Like many nations, the United States can count on the dedication and professionalism of virtually the whole of our civil service. Most could earn more in private industry. The concept of serving your country is meaningful to most civil servants as it is to our military lifers.

Which is different from the sort of lifers we encounter all too often in Congress. Not all. But, too many.

Obama’s energy efficiency policy saves taxpayers over $500 billion – of course Trump’s pimps oppose it!


Just another Trump pimp who can’t figure out how to sign his name

❝ A leaked draft study of the electric grid requested by Energy Secretary Rick Perry found that federal energy efficiency policies are in the process of saving U.S. consumers and businesses more than a half trillion dollars.

So…the new administration is halting energy efficiency policies and gutting funding for energy efficiency improvements for American homes. Perry’s department is currently being sued by 11 states for stalling efficiency mandates for air conditioners and other high-energy products.

❝ Back in April, Perry ordered a study from Department of Energy (DOE) staff to back up his claims that solar and wind power were undermining the U.S. electric grid’s reliability. But a July draft obtained by Bloomberg debunked that attack. Instead, the authors found that “the power system is more reliable today” than ever.

❝ …ThinkProgress reported the study concluded a large fraction of America’s aging fleet of coal and nuclear plants are simply not economic to operate anymore.

The study has a long discussion of why coal and nuclear aren’t going to become economic anytime soon. For instance, it’s increasingly clear that, for the foreseeable future, natural gas prices will stay low — and that renewable sources of power like solar and wind will continue the stunning price drops they’ve seen in the past two decades, which have upended the global power market…

❝ No good policy goes unpunished in the Trump administration, however, so California and New York are leading a coalition of states in a lawsuit to force DOE to publish five efficiency standards that were finalized under the Obama administration but were undergoing a 45-day review period (typically used for catching typographical errors and other minor problems…) when Trump took office. Six months later, the new administration still hasn’t sent the rules to the Federal Registrar to be published.

Three Bronx cheers for Trump efficiency in government. Not only is he – and his True Believers – incompetent at introducing and passing legislation which might benefit average Americans, they refuse to carry through simple publication of improvements like this which would save consumers a half-trillion dollar$.

Whistleblower Case Illustrates How Trump/Flunkies Try to Silence Science


“The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical…Retaliation against me for those disclosures is unlawful.”

❝ For the first time since the Trump administration came to office and began dismantling the key science underpinnings of federal climate policy, a senior agency official has invoked the protections of the whistleblower law to publicly object to what he calls an illegal attempt to intimidate him.

The official, Joel Clement, had been the director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior Department before he says he was arbitrarily reassigned to an obscure accounting post to punish him for speaking up about protections for native Americans in Alaska. He says that was ordered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to force him to be quiet or quit — and to send a message.

Clement, who publicized his formal complaint in a commentary published Wednesday in the Washington Post, said his case is not an isolated example but part of a pattern.

Witch Hunt is one of Trump’s favorite condemnations of journalists working hard to present facts to confront his lies – and more. No doubt many of his appointed flunkies – like Ryan Zinke – not only approve of their boss’s lies; but, join willingly in shameful practices like those described by Clement in an attempt to close down criticism and confrontation.

Not unusual for rightwing ideologues. Reminiscent of that Republican creep, Joe McCarthy, who popularized the witch hunt as his favorite political theatre decades ago. Trump’s theatrics promise a revival.

Callista Gingrich nomination to the Vatican stinks on ice


What passes for job qualifications inside the Beltway

❝ Let us consider the qualifications of President Trump’s nominee to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See: one Callista Gingrich of Virginia.

❝ She is a former clerk on the House Agriculture Committee…She is the author of children’s books about an elephant named Ellis…She sings in the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception…She plays French horn in City of Fairfax Band…And, she testified Tuesday, she has “looked at some of” Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change.

❝ But really, Gingrich was receiving a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because of one qualification: She is married to Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a major backer of President Trump.

And now, for his support of Trump, he is getting the ultimate patronage: the chance to live in Rome on the taxpayer’s dime while his wife, the president of Gingrich Productions, enjoys a plum posting…

❝ National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters called it “astonishing that a party that celebrates family values at every turn has a president who is on his third wife and who has bragged about his extramarital affairs and who is appointing an ambassador to the Vatican who had a six-year affair with her future husband while he was still married to his second wife.”

The nomination of Callista is also Trump’s beatification of Newt, who has done as much as anyone to coarsen American politics — and to pave the way for Trump — with his name-calling, demonizing and brinkmanship.

Appointments like this one are often payback for loyalty. With a so-called president who values loyalty as the dearest form of obedience, I guess no one should be surprised at an appointment as incompetent as anything else he’s done to demean the presidency.