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Where they're going they don't believe in rails


With the "president" focused on the important business of yelling at sportsball players (and deleting his tweets that endorsed the loser in the Alabama primary for U.S. Senate), Donald Trump's cabinet picked up on the cue and are doing their damnedest to contribute to the Gross National Surrealism. For starters, yesterday brought us stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fretting about his department's "loyalty" to the president, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos worrying that students defrauded by grifty for-profit colleges were just looking for "free money," and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt installing a $25,000 Cone Of Silence in his office so no one will steal his strawberries.

Loyalty Oaf

In a Monday speech to the National Petroleum Council, a bunch of oil and gas industry executives who advise the government how it can best make them rich, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reassured the assembled land-rapers that he'd fix things so they could drill, mine, cut timber, and extract as many resources as they could dream of -- but they gotta be patient because for some damn reason, at least a third of employees of the department aren't "loyal" to President Trump and his agenda.

“I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” the secretary said, according to participants. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, invoked military and seafaring jargon to describe his approach to running the department.

Weird that a bunch of people working in the department that's supposed to protect the nation's wild lands think that's their mission instead of rolling over to help industry extract riches. That's some sinister Deep State disloyalty there.

For you fans of Patrick O'Brien's seafaring novels, Zinke compared his experience of taking over Interior to capturing an enemy ship but not having enough loyal crew members to man it, so "only the captain and the first mate row over” to take it back to home territory. It doesn't sound like Interior is a happy ship, not at all.

But there's excellent news! Zinke announced that, in furtherance of the vital national need to speed up permitting for extraction industries, he's reorganizing Interior so that loyal Trumpers will be in charge, and if necessary, some parts of the department's leadership will be physically relocated to the West, to "push the generals where the fight is." Remember, dude was a Navy SEAL, and his House website called him "Commander Zinke," so don't you forget it. Also, as part of planned budget cuts, Zinke's looking forward to shitcanning at least 4,000 people from the department, and while he didn't specifically mention a loyalty oath, you can bet anyone owning a Subaru wagon is going to be out on their butt.

Beyond his goal of purging Interior of those who may like nature more than natural resources, we learn from CBS News this morning that while Zinke is pushing for several national monuments to be shrunk and opened to more oil and other resource extraction, he actually wants to expand federal protections for land adjacent to monuments in his (maybe) home state, Montana. We guess it's his version of zipping around in a private jet. He seems to be carving out a Montana exemption from the Drill and Mine Everywhere doctrine, at least for Montana:

The decision was based on Zinke's belief that "some places are too precious to mine," his spokeswoman said last month.

Especially if you're rumored to be considering running for the Senate, or maybe for governor. Those other states ain't got any beauty to worry about, so fuck 'em.

Since When Do Fraud Victims Deserve A Break?

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos put her own stupid forward in a speech to the "Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference" in Michigan on Friday, where she questioned the wisdom of an Obama administration policy making it easier for students defrauded by for-profit colleges to get their federal student loans forgiven. Always a fan of the for-profit schools and their predatory -- sorry, aggressively competitive -- sales practices, DeVos said she'd had to roll back the Obama policies because of those greedy loser students, since "all one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money.”

Remember, this is coming from an Education secretary who's so dismissive of fraud by for-profit colleges that she hired the former head of DeVry University, which paid $100 million in fines for defrauding students by lying to them. And what job did that guy get? Head of the department's Student Aid Enforcement Unit, of course, because who better to crack down on defaulting students than the head of a "school" that defrauded them?

As HuffPo points out, the process of seeking loan forgiveness doesn't actually involve any "free money" -- it allows students who owed money to schools the Ed department had already determined to have engaged in deceptive practices to have their debts cancelled -- no handout of actual money. And it's only cancellation of federal student loan debt; many students are still on the hook for private loans, and have also blown their eligibility for grants and other assistance, with no second chances at a legitimate school. Still, it's good to know someone cares about the interests of schools who committed fraud -- like that one, can anyone remember its name?

Sound Budget Priorities

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is having a $25,000 "secure, soundproof communications booth" installed in his office, so that he can better protect the secrecy of fucking over the environment:

The agency signed a $24,570 contract earlier this summer with Acoustical Solutions, a Richmond-based company, for a “privacy booth for the administrator.” The company sells and installs an array of sound-dampening and privacy products, from ceiling baffles to full-scale enclosures like the one purchased by the EPA. The project’s scheduled completion date is Oct. 9, according to the contract.

The thing is apparently needed because it just is, OK? The Post notes that "No previous EPA administrators had such a setup," but then again, no previous EPA administrator has made it his mission to do the exact opposite of protecting the environment. For all we know, the booth will be made out of coal, asbestos, and lead, to provide a boost to those industries. Besides, if the EPA administrator doesn't have a one of Silence in his office, how can he hope to keep his communications private? He might have to actually go to another floor of EPA headquarters, where the EPA already has a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) for secure communications. All that walking might be exercise, which we know is socialist.

Not that Pruitt is paranoid about EPA employees leaking the toxic fuckery his agency is up to or anything:

In recent months, Pruitt and his top deputies have taken other steps aimed at heightening security. Some EPA employees have been asked to surrender their cellphones and other digital devices before meetings in the administrator’s office, in much the same way visitors do when visiting the president in the Oval Office.

Pruitt has also avoided using email whenever he can, preferring face-to-face meetings, probably because he's just a really personable guy and not because he fears any permanent record of what he's up to or which industry he's fellating at any given time. He also has kept his official schedule private, unlike previous EPA administrators, possibly because when journalists submitted FOIA requests, they revealed he was mostly meeting with representatives of industries the EPA regulates. Imagine that!

So there's your brief wrap of Cabinet Members Gone Wild; we'll keep you updated on HHS Secretary Tom Price's latest jet charters as soon as he lands.

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[WaPo / CBS News / HuffPost / Wapo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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