Tuesday, December 06, 2016

#DAPL: It ain't over

Sorry about raining on the victory parade.

It helps in understanding the next move in what is now a waiting game if you distill it down to this: America is an oil company with two standing armies; one foreign and one domestic.  The national one is the legion of police from around the country who are on the scene, earning overtime and travel perks while they spray water cannon in freezing temperatures on people, blow up a woman's arm with a grenade, and bring associated hell on the protestors at Standing Rock.  It's a wide-open window into our police state.

Police departments from 24 counties and 16 cities in 10 different states (including North Dakota) have poured into Standing Rock, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Department, the local law enforcement agency.


Per DeSmog Blog, Standing Rock is one of the few times that EMAC (the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, see the very first link for more) has been called upon to respond to social activism. In April 2015, during Black Lives Matter protests in Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray's death while in police custody, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and sent out an EMAC request. About 300 state troopers from Pennsylvania and another 150 from New Jersey responded. The city racked up an estimated $20 million in extra policing costs.


The increased law enforcement presence at Standing Rock has coincided with mounting concerns over police brutality. The deployment of military-grade equipment, including land-mine-resistant trucks and armored personnel carriers, as well as the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, and alleged strip searches led Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II to ask the Justice Department to investigate civil rights abuses. [...] Some of the police details that have arrived in Standing Rock are among the largest recipients of military transfers from the federal government, according to an In These Times investigation. The South Dakota Highway Patrol has received $2 million worth of military equipment since 2006. The Lake County Sheriff's Office in Northwest Indiana obtained $1.5 million worth of military equipment over the same time period. The Pennington County Sheriff's office in South Dakota, the Anoka County Sheriff's office in Minnesota, and the Griffith Indiana Police Department have all received assault rifles through military equipment transfer programs as well.

Much more at the article, which concludes with how communities are beginning to push back against these abuses of authority and blank checks from taxpayers for their local peace officers (*coughBScough*) to go on a mayhem vacation.

Now then, on to the generals politicians directing this assault, one of whom is ND Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.  Bold emphasis mine:

“It’s long past time that a decision is made on the easement going under Lake Oahe. This administration’s delay in taking action -- after I’ve pushed the White House, Army Corps, and other federal agencies for months to make a decision -- means that today’s move doesn’t actually bring finality to the project. The pipeline still remains in limbo. The incoming administration already stated its support for the project and the courts have already stated twice that it appeared the Corps followed the required process in considering the permit. For the next month and a half, nothing about this project will change. For the immediate future, the safety of residents, protesters, law enforcement, and workers remains my top priority as it should for everyone involved. As some of the protesters have become increasingly violent and unlawful (sic; notice the conflicting accounts about fires being set, and associated water cannon usage) and as North Dakota’s winter has already arrived – with a blizzard raging last week through the area where protesters are located -- I’m hoping now that protesters will act responsibly to avoid endangering their health and safety, and move off of the Corps land north of the Cannonball River.”

Read only the first bullet point in this lengthy piece for more about the violence and tactics used by authorities.  Heitkamp, a very conservative Democrat, was referenced in this post last week as she interviewed for a job in the Trump administration.  If she remains in the Senate, my prediction is that she will change parties in order to hold her seat in 2018.  Trump, as you may already know, supports DAPL and may own stock (Bloomberg says so, but Snopes says 'unproven' -- Update: Confirmed just after post time, he's sold out) in Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline company owned by Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren, who's donated heavily to Trump and other Republicans, specifically Texan ones, in this cycle.  I wonder if any of this came up in Trump's conversation with Al Gore yesterday.

Two more things:  Activists contend that ETP will dig the pipeline under the Missouri River and just pay the fines, and ETP says they will see the project through to completion (a necessary assurance for stock- and stakeholders).  And if you want to see how corporate media reports this story, read this.  Either way the pipeline will happen, even if it has to wait for Trump to be inaugurated in six weeks.

Despite the celebrations taking place at the site of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), experts say the recent decision to stop the pipeline could be reversed by the Trump administration or the next Congress. "Legally, this is an action that can be overturned easily," says Sharon Buccino, an attorney and director of the Land and Wildlife program at the National Resources Defense Council.


(A)ccording to Deborah Sivas, a professor of environmental law at Stanford University, there are multiple ways the pipeline might still be completed legally in its current location. The Republican-led Congress could vote to clear the way for ETP to drill under the Missouri River by passing an appropriations rider. Then the company would no longer need an easement from the Army Corps to comply with the Clean Water Act, and could thus complete the pipeline. "Trump could sign off on it in week one," Sivas says. "All it takes is one sentence."

Or Trump could go a slightly more patient route and still achieve the same result.

Alternatively, according to Buccino, Congress could exclude public input from the environmental impact statement ordered by the Army Corps, excluding Standing Rock Sioux tribal members from participating and thereby sidestepping complaints that the project desecrates sacred burial sites. Such actions would likely be subject to public criticism, she acknowledges. Buccino also points out that Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army Corps official who made the announcement, was appointed by President Barack Obama and will leave her position in January. Donald Trump and his administration officials could exert pressure and guidance on the Army Corps' commanders to reverse their decision.

A battle was won, but the war is still lost.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Weekly Wrangle

With the first December blog post roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance plans to send half its members to Mexico unless it gets a tax break.

Off the Kuff takes a deeper look at the judicial races in Harris County to get a better sense of the partisan mix this year.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos notes that Trump’s promise to drain the swamp by packing it with billionaires, bigots, homophobes, Islamaphobes, climate change deniers and white supremacists is not helpful to his working class voters. In fact, with this crew in place, Trump promises to stiff his base. Welcome to Trump’s United States of Texas.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is still processing Donald Trump, the racist, misogynistic con man as president-'elect' while Greg Abbott acts out the white nationalist agenda here in Texas.

Socratic Gadfly, in the third of a series of posts on the Jill Stein presidential vote recount snarks on Greg Palast while taking a serious look at recount and Green Party issues.

In evaluating the Trump Cabinet picks to date, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs discovered there was also a much deeper hole than initially perceived that the Democrats have dug themselves into ... and must dig their own way out of.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports that Denton County's former elections adminstrator has been rehired as their new one, after holding the same post in Tarrant County and following the retirement of the current one, prompted by a slew of voting irregularities there.

Dos Centavos advances an upcoming panel discussion at Rice University on the evolving nature of Mexico-US business relations under the Trump administration.

Texas Freedom Network assembles the quotes of the week from around the state.

Neil at All People Have Value says he does whatever graffiti instructs him to do. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas news outlets.

The Dallas News hears that Louie Gohmert is still a little raw after getting scalded about his balcony barbecue operation.

The SAEN reports that Bexar County Democrats want their new party chair, Manuel Medina,  to run for mayor of San Antone.  (Clue to Texas Dems: this might be the star you're looking for.  He's got all the $$$ sources, situational ethics, and identity politics you like to see in your candidates.)

Grits for Breakfast indicates that the first Waco Twin Peaks biker trial is slated to begin in January, and also complains about the falsehoods associated with crime being reported as fact.

Lawflog laughingly noted the TABC officials who served liquor illegally at their recent conclave.

The Texas Election Law Blog comments on vote "fraud" and recounts in our post-truth atmosphere.

The TSTA Blog highlights the problems with private school vouchers.

The WAWG Blog answers the question: "Why privatize Social Security?"

The Texas Living Waters Project asks what steps your utility is taking to conserve water.

Katie Singh lists some Texas organizations that could use your support.

BeyondBONES asks for your assistance in helping the scientists of tomorrow.

And CultureMap Houston lists some Hill Country Christmas holiday events in Gruene, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Wimberley.

Friday, December 02, 2016

From bad to worse for Democrats

Before we run down the Donkeys' latest self-inflicted wounds, let's review the newest plates and stemware in the Cabinet.

-- We've covered Beauregard, Mad Dog, Flynn, Pompeo, and Mnuchin already; some of the other appointees, like Nikki Haley, aren't really worthy of their own post (a fuller list of Trumpeteers, picked and rumored, is here).  The last big one, Secretary of State, is still being juggled by President-elect Barking Yam, with Mitt Romney, David Petraeus, and Rudy Giuliani starring as the bowling pins (although there is at least one more).  There's a poll you can take here, and Cypher Lewandowski, Trump's former mole at CNN, floated Jon Huntsman and refloated John Bolton.

-- As if Democrats weren't in deep enough shit of their own excretion as it is ...

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, is paying a visit to Trump Tower on Friday, and Senator Chuck E. Schumer of New York, the incoming minority leader, is having heart palpitations.

“I appreciate the president-elect inviting me for a meeting. ... Whatever job I do, I hope to work with the president-elect and all of my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to best support my state.”

To Democrats, that last line can mean two things, neither of them good. If she is in line for an administration job, her Senate seat would turn Republican. If not, she seems to be indicating she is a possible vote for the Trump agenda.

And no matter what, her seat is up in 2018 — in a state that went to Trump with 62 percent of the vote.

... and ...

The decision by Gov. Jerry Brown of California to name Representative Xavier Becerra to be the state’s attorney general has set off another round of finger-pointing among Democrats — and opened a crucial post in the Trump era.

Becerra, like Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland before him and former Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois (now the mayor of Chicago) before them, had risen as far as he could in the House leadership. Becerra faced a blockade of older members of Congress, like Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny H. Hoyer, and James E. Clyburn, in the top ranks.

Unlike Van Hollen, who was elected to the Senate last month, Becerra opted against running for his state’s open Senate seat, but he has found his own way to statewide office.

Becerra was in line for a huge consolation prize in the House, however. The veteran Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan had just stepped aside as the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee — and he recommended the telegenic Californian for the post.

That would have put Becerra on the front lines as Trump tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes, overhaul the tax code and possibly convert Medicare into a system that offers fixed sums to seniors to buy private health plans.

Instead, it looks as if that role will go to Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, who may be less camera ready but is actually better versed on the intricacies of tax policy.

This is the problem associated with re-electing Pelosi minority leader; there is a blockage that exists because the Old Guard won't give way to the Young Turks, and so ego fills another vacuum elsewhere.  That's no way to build a bench.

-- In another signal to progressives that they should just go away, there's a smear campaign being waged against Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who is -- despite the puzzling and incorrect first sentence below -- in a real battle with Howard Dean for the right to chair the DNC.  Update (12/3): Dean's sudden pullout only makes the contest murkier.  Update II (12/4): Glenn Greenwald explains precisely how the smear makes the DC inside game so repugnant.

So far Representative Keith Ellison’s drive to be the next Democratic National Committee chairman has gone swimmingly, with no strong competition in sight.

But CNN went where other outlets have feared to tread, printing old writings of Mr. Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in defense of the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and other contentious black activists.


Ellison long ago renounced his associations with the Nation of Islam, and has had Jewish groups defend him. But the report could prove troublesome, to say the least.

The Anti-Defamation League, which has been mildly supportive, reacted strongly.

“Ellison’s remarks are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying. His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S. These comments sharply contrast with the Democratic National Committee platform position, which states: ‘A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance and pluralism.’ ”

Shades of the over-reaction to Bernie Sanders' writing about rape.  This is a 'damned if they do or don't' conundrum with respect to Ellison's bid for chair: it will be "Muzlins eevil" all day and all night from the right if they pick him, and f'n Dean and his corporate lobbyist baggage killing them with whatever is left of the left base if they don't.  Perhaps there will be room for a consolidation candidate like SC Dem party chairman Jamie Harrison to break through, but we won't know for sure until next year, when the election is held.

Part of the liberal electorate's continuing angst has to be the slow realization that it is a tremendous waste of time to keep holding on with a decrepit political party that cannot figure out how to beat the sorriest lot of Republicans since Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Abu Gonzalez, etc., ad nauseum.  Future episodes of The Blame Game aren't going to improve this.

Remember all those people who said the GOP was imploding?  They must be miserable.