It’s no real surprise, of course, but it didn’t take that long before Oklahoma’s former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, now head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, openly revealed his anti-environment philosophy and his crass and open embrace of the fossil fuel industry.

When asked recently in an CNBC interview whether he thought carbon dioxide had contributed to global warming, Pruitt responded:

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

This very important “no” contradicts his agency’s own web site and his earlier comments at his confirmation hearing in which Pruitt conceded “. . . the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner.” For the record, there is no question among numerous and credible scientists that carbon emissions accelerate global warming through the amplification of the greenhouse effect.

But let’s be clear again that Pruitt is a halfway decent manipulator of the political landscape, and his ongoing and intentional slippery comments about global warming are aimed at financially benefiting the oil and gas industry, which has openly funded his campaigns and endorsed him for years. His comments, which drew swift condemnation, are not at all surprising for anyone following his political career in Oklahoma.

So just to state the obvious: President Donald Trump appointed Pruitt as head of the EPA and Republicans confirmed his appointment to dismantle environmental protection and to give a financial boost to the oil and gas industry, which is in a major slump, maybe even a permanent realignment. Given that knowledge, there seems to be little point beyond creating a spectacle in teasing Pruitt into making outlandish comments about climate change and global warming.

Pruitt will absolutely continue to make outlandish and goofball comments, which always pass for intellectualism and leadership in Oklahoma, but what matters more, all hyperbole aside, is the damage he will inflict on the planet as the top EPA administrator.


WaPo Journalist Seeks The Contrary In The Darkness

I think it’s important to point out, again and again, that the mainstream media’s contrarian and equivocating reporting has created a rhetorical failure in this country in which our leaders can brazenly lie with impunity.

The Washington Post journalist Amber Phillips is just one latest case in point. This week in a blog post she criticized former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for stating the obvious, which is that President Donald Trump is a liar who consistently lies. In Phillips’ view, however, the media and our leaders should be careful not to follow Sanders’ example of calling Trump out on his lies because, maybe, just maybe, Trump doesn’t even know he’s lying.

I know I risk reducing here the litany of problems of their own making faced by mainstream media outlets, but it’s hard not to see Phillips’ piece as the typical contrarian type of journalism that has brought us to this particular point of uncertainty and fear in our country’s history. Under the rhetorical formula of contemporary journalistic contrarianism, even wild lies that have been called out and proven as lies deserve some type of media redemption from great thinkers like Phillips.

It goes like this: Well, yes, Trump says untruthful things, but maybe it’s not intentional lying really and the political discourse is so extreme these days, anyway, so why increase the incivility? There you have it. The Contrarian Stance.

One has to wonder what major lie leading to some type of major authoritarian act under a Trump administration—martial law, massive illegal deportations and imprisonments, war—would make Phillips drop her equivocations and contrarianisms, or would she even drop them then? Why didn’t she spend some of her time this week writing a post demanding Trump release copies of his tax returns instead of picking on Bernie Sanders of all people?

Here’s a longer piece on the back-and-forth between Sanders and Phillips. Essentially, Sanders tweeted about Trump’s well-known lies because he’s creating awareness and is concerned about democracy. Phillips then wrote her post criticizing Sanders for his lack of civil political discourse, and then Sanders responded to Phillips with a real question without a whiff of hyperbole or personal attack because, well, that’s Trump’s style, not Sanders’ style.

So what do we do, Sanders simply asked, when the United States president is a consistent, verifiable liar? Nothing?

The entire episode shows that despite new commitments to discover and report the truth in the Trump era from such media outlets as The Washington Post and The New York Times journalists throughout the country continue to apply old rhetorical formulas to new phenomenon. This includes the he-said-she-said false comparisons between lies and real arguments and The Contrarian Stance.

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A Win For Public Education: ESA Bill Pulled From Consideration

The fact that a legislative bill that would have created education savings accounts in Oklahoma has been pulled from consideration is a victory for public education and overall a positive development this session.

One always knows something good has happened on a legislative matter when it prompts a wildly misleading editorial in The Oklahoman, the ultra-conservative newspaper, which lamented the bill’s demise because, get this, everyone, it would have helped children from low-income families.

Since when has The Oklahoman cared about impoverished people or overall poverty in this state or even basic children issues? Since never, and it still doesn’t. The newspaper is a stalwart entity of right-wing extremism that not only supports further enriching the extremely wealthy people in the state through income tax cuts but also sells daily its toxic brew of income disparity initiatives and trickle-down economics as modern miracles of bold, enlightened thought.

What the editorial leaves out is what’s important here. It’s the wealthy, not the impoverished who ultimately benefit the most from education savings accounts in which families are given taxpayers dollars, or per-pupil dollars, to use to pay for private schools. Let’s be clear that poor and even middle class people usually don’t have enough money to come up with the tuition of most private schools, such as Oklahoma City’s Casady and Heritage Hall, even with partial financial help from the government. But the extremely wealthy, whose kids are already in private schools, could always use the extra money, right? That’s how vouchers work. It’s a transfer of money to the extremely wealthy.

The editorial, titled “Poor families lose with withdrawal of Oklahoma ESA bill,” begins by quoting liar-in-chief Donald Trump and then commences with its own series of whoppers. The editorial notes that Republicans “ignored the needs of some of Oklahoma's neediest children,” without acknowledging how similar voucher programs in other states, such as Indiana, have primarily been taken advantage of by people who would have sent their children to private schools anyway.

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