Trump Is Swamping The Drain In Washington

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

Remember when ?draining the swamp? was something the Bush administration swore it was going to do in launching its Global War on Terror?  Well, as we all know, that global swamp of terror only got muckier in the ensuing years. (Think al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, think ISIS.) Then, last year, that swamp left terror behind and took up residence in Washington, D.C.  In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump swore repeatedly that, along with building his wall and locking ?her? up, he was going to definitively drain the Washington swamp, ridding the national capital of special interests once and for all.  (?It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.,? he typically said. ?This is why I?m proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.?)  ?Drain the swamp? became one of the signature chants at his rallies.

You want swamp? You?ve already got the start of a genuine mire, a true bog in Donald Trump?s Washington.

No sooner had he been elected, however, then he decided to ?retire? the concept of draining the swamp ? and little wonder.  After all, he quickly began appointing hordes of ?former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants? to agencies where they were to help ?craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.? Then his administration started issuing waivers to those new appointees, allowing them to ?take up matters that could benefit former clients.?  News of just who got those waivers was kept secret and only released after publicity about them took a truly bad turn.  Here?s a typical example of one of them, as reported by the New York Times:    

?A… waiver was given to Michael Catanzaro, who until January was registered as a lobbyist for companies including Devon Energy, an oil and gas company, and Talen Energy, a coal-burning electric utility. Mr. Catanzaro moved from lobbying against Obama-era environmental rules to overseeing the White House office in charge of rolling back the same rules, an activity permitted by his waiver.?

You want swamp?  You?ve already got the start of a genuine mire, a true bog in Donald Trump?s Washington.  Having yesterday?s corporate lobbyists oversee today?s government policies for the very industries that employed them last week doesn?t exactly increase the odds of instituting the sort of ?populist? economics Trump promised on the campaign trail; nor, as TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents? Bankers, reported in late January, is appointing a veritable who?s who of Goldman Sachs executives to key positions, including Treasury secretary, the most obvious way to drain the swamp when it comes to, say, America?s banks and other financial institutions.  As for those banks ? remember the ?too big to fail? financial meltdown of 2007-2008? ? let Prins tell you in her latest, ?Dear President Trump: Breaking Up (Banks) Isn?t So Hard to Do,? just what?s at stake in Washington right now. 

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GREAT GAIA!: Gal Gadot Stuns Theater Filled With ‘Wonder Woman’ Viewers

?Wonder Woman? fans got the treat of a lifetime last week when the film?s stars walked into a film screening to surprise a theater filled with viewers. 

A New York City screening of the film was running 30 minutes behind schedule, The New York Daily News? Joe Dziemianowicz reported. But all was understood once Gal Gadot and Chris Pine walked in. 

?Wonder Woman? director Patty Jenkins, costar Robin Wright and other associates joined them, as they told audiences they didn?t want to miss the chance to come by and say hello. 

In a video posted to YouTube, Gadot narrates as the group gathers in the hallway outside the theater, giddy with excitement. 

?We?re going to say, surprise!? Gadot says on camera. As she walks in, the theater erupts with applause and screams. 

?Wonder Woman? smashed domestic box office records during its opening weekend, bringing in an estimated $100.5 million. The film became the biggest domestic box office opening for a woman director ever.

H/T EW

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Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops’ Best Moment: Fighting Racism, Not The National Title Win

As Sports Talk Radio broke the news of Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops? retirement, speculation was rampant that he was in ill health, or was being relieved because of players behaving badly. They praised Stoops for winning the National Championship in 2000, and talked about how strong the team is looking for next year. They overlooked Stoops? finest moment: leading his team to take a big stand against racism in 2015.

Back in 2015, a video surfaced that showed members of Oklahoma University?s chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) led a horribly racist chant on their bus, according to Alejandro Danois with Bleacher Report. It through the OU into the crisis, threatening to have the campus turn into so many others schools with racial strife, like the University of Missouri, Yale University, Emory University, etc.

Stoops responded with his players in a protest against the racism, according to Greg Couch with Bleacher Report. He and more than 100 of his teammates gathered at the statue of former OU Coach Barry Switzer. Ty Darlington, one of his players, led the group in a prayer, according to Graham Watson with Yahoo Sports. They were also joined by OU Basketball Coach Lon Kruger.

Others on campus joined in the protest. OU President David Boren also suspended the fraternity, had them move out, and began an investigation. It was the school?s finest hour under Bob Stoops.

This isn?t to say that Stoops wasn?t so great at winning the National Championship, which they captured against Florida State University in 2000, prevailing against the Seminoles 13-2. At the time, I was graduating from FSU (Class of 2000) with my doctorate, and badly wanted my team to repeat as #1. But the Sooners won an impressive defensive battle against the defending National Champions. They earned their victory.

This isn?t to say that Stoops didn?t have a career full of amazing highlights, according to Sam Cooper with Yahoo Sports. He took over a program that had several straight losing seasons, and was the two-time Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2000, 2003). More than 13 times in his years, his team won 10 or more games in his 18 years, amassing a record of 190-48 that is unsurpassed in school history. He also won 10 Big 12 Championships, while no one else in the Big 12 won more than 12.

This isn?t to say that Stoops didn?t have some problems. Certainly there was the terrible incident involving Oklahoma Running Back Joe Mixon and the violence he was involved in. QB Blake Mayfield showed some lack of discipline in his charges for alcohol-related incidents, and other problems his players had, leading to speculation that this might have played a role in his retirement.

Of course, there could be some incident like terrible one involving child abuse that plagued Penn State under Joe Paterno, or a scandal like the one that brought down Ohio State University?s Jim Tressel, or personal practices that upended Bobby Petrino at the University of Arkansas. If so, it was something we were unaware of at the time of Stoops? record.

But assuming there?s no dark secret, then Stoops really should be honored, not just for his impressive accomplishments as a coach. He needs to be lauded for leading his team in a stand against racism, which will hopefully inspire other coaches to do the same.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.

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Elisabeth Moss On The Power Of Seeing Women Work Together

Elisabeth Moss knows that women have more power when they work together.

The star and executive producer of Hulu?s new show ?The Handmaid?s Tale? recently sat down with ELLE to discuss what it was like shooting the series and how the narrative compares to the current political climate in America. The 34-year-old also discussed how the handmaids in the dystopian future series come together in times of struggle. 

When ELLE?s Emily Gould asked Moss if she?s ever felt ?pitted against? other actresses in the industry, the actress responded poignantly. 

?I think it?s up to women themselves not to pit themselves against each other,? Moss told Gould. ?That?s one of the major themes of this season ? the power of women when they unite. When you turn women against each other, it can wreak havoc, because women are very powerful forces, and you can use that power for good or evil. When women support each other, rather than stoning each other to death, it?s a game-changer.? 

Both ?The Handmaid?s Tale? series and the book it?s based on share the reoccurring theme of women being pitted against one another to uphold a patriarchal society. Unfortunately, many viewers have pointed out how what we’re seeing on screen might have begun to mirror real life, as the GOP rolls back access to women?s healthcare.

Moss? words are becoming more and more relevant as time passes: Women are much more powerful when we work together. 

Head over to ELLE to read the magazine?s full feature on Moss. 

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