Jobs! Wages! Workers! Yeah, No.

Andy Puzder (YouTube).

Andy Puzder (YouTube).

All those people who thought Trump would be just ever so dandy for jobs, and the rights and wages of workers? Yeah, you can go screw yourself, because it will be much more gentle than what the incoming administration has in mind. I’ve posted about the new Labor Secretary before, and it was quite clear that he doesn’t think much of workers. Just in case that wasn’t quite plain enough, a bit of background on Puzder’s attitudes towards those worthless workers has surfaced.

The Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s parent company CEO has already come out against a $15-an-hour minimum wage on a recent radio interview with the horrible Hugh Hewitt. An op-ed in the Orange County Register  found a way to applaud the Puzder pick as someone who will somehow bring about wage growth. If you believe the Trumpbros, not only are you getting a businessman, but you’re getting a good, God-fearing man.

But a better, more revealing look into his views comes courtesy of a December 2009 interview stored in Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History (COPH). Allison Varzally spoke with Puzder at Carl Karcher Enterprises in Carpinteria for COPH’s Southern California Food Culture and Visionaries project.


Trump’s labor man also had choice words for Carl’s Jr.’s home state. “I think the big change in California, it’s really become a kind of socialist state,” Puzder opined. “You can’t be a capitalist in this state, and Carl was at heart a capitalist who created a company that to this day bears his initials.” The would-be Labor Secretary complained about regulations and overtime laws, claiming workers are overprotected.

“Have you ever been to a fast food restaurant and the employees are sitting and you’re wondering, ‘Why are they sitting?'” Puzder asked. “They are on what is called a mandatory break [emphasis his].” He shared a laugh with the interviewer, saying the so-called nanny state is why Carl’s Jr. doesn’t open up any new restaurants in California anymore.

Having been one of those workers who could, on occasion, be found sitting, resting screaming feet for a few moments, no, I have never wondered about why employees are sitting. Employees, they are human beings, who should be treated with respect, if nothing else. It’s not like a 10 or 15 minute break is a sudden luxury trip to the Bahamas. It’s barely time to slurp down a coffee or two, and just maybe, cram some sort of food in your mouth, as you frantically chew, trying not to choke, as you have to be back at station, now. I guess people with billions at their back just aren’t terribly empathetic. Golly, there’s a shock.

The above is from Gabriel San Roman’s article at OC Weekly. I’m going to adopt Mr. San Roman’s use of Pendejo-elect, and Pendejo after 1/20/17. Pendejo Trump. Sounds about right.

Add that to the existing list of problematic values for someone who is poised to head the U.S. Department of Labor, which as Mother Jones reports, “exists to ‘foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers,’ as well as to ‘improve working conditions’ and ‘assure work-related benefits and rights.’”

Even before the release of this 2009 interview, Puzder was on record as an opponent of raising the minimum wage. He suggested in 2014 that increasing the minimum wage would hurt low-wage workers. At that time, he was earning 291 times more than minimum-wage employees working for his fast-food chains.

Puzder’s company was also hit with a class-action lawsuit in 2013 for “allegedly failing to pay its general managers overtime, even while requiring them to be on call 24 hours a day,” according to Law 360.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich slammed Puzder as “anti-worker” during a CNN panel earlier this month. He pointed to the fact that “The Department of Labor came into his restaurants and found that half his restaurants had wage and labor violations that violated the law of the United States.”

Via Raw Story.

George Washington Kept His House, So…

By Martin Falbisoner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.

By Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.

Oh, the excuses for allowing Trump to violate the constitution keep coming in, each stupider than the last. The latest from Tom Cole (R-OK) is that George Washington kept his house while serving as president, so it’s all good, you betcha. Has anyone told Donny he has to give up his gold-plated apartment? No. Has anyone said Donny can’t manage his personal residences? No. The hypocrisy of republicans continues to float over everything, as their lies and excuses get weaker and weaker.

While ethics expertswarn not divesting will likely create an unconstitutional conflict, Congressional Republicans are apparently not concerned.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said on Wednesday that he does not think Trump needs to disentangle himself. “To be fair to him, he’s not a guy who made his money out of doing business with the government, particularly,” he observed.

Cole added that he thinks Trump’s team is “trying to be careful,” because “opponents will try to put the worst aspersions” on anything he does. “I don’t expect the family to get out of a family business, for goodness sake. I mean, you read much history, George Washington was still pretty active in managing Mount Vernon when he was president of the United States.”

Washington’s Virginia estate was hardly comparable to Trump’s self-proclaimed $10 billion portfolio.

Think Progress has the full story.

The Swamp? It’s the New Agenda.

Swamp Thing, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing, DC Comics.

Trump yakked a lot about lobbyists, and “draining the swamp”, all of it bullshit, of course. Trump’s a toxic Swamp Thing, and he’s going to have help in building and managing the swamp.

On Wednesday, however, two key Trump campaign advisers announced they would form a “full service government relations and political consulting firm” in Washington, “just a block from the White House” at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Corey Lewandowski, who served as Trump’s first campaign manager and was also paid by CNN to advocate for Trump on the air, will join with senior campaign adviser Barry Bennett to launch the firm. Their mission, Lewandowski revealed, would be supporting Trump’s agenda.

“After considering multiple opportunities within the administration,” Lewandowski wrote, he determined he can best help Trump “outside the formal structure of government.” He added that for Trump to succeed, it is “necessary to have strong, organized outside groups who can help ensure the President-elect’s agenda is achieved.”

But rather than launch a political advocacy non-profit, the two have opted to launch a “government relations firm.” The firm’s website makes clear that it plans to provide “client-tailored strategy and guidance carefully designed to help our clients navigate our government.” In other words, using their access to the new administration to make sure the President-elect’s agenda includes the priorities of their clients.

As Mother Jones noted, back in February Lewandowski denounced lobbyists as willing to say or do anything to preserve “backroom deals,” and vowed that if Trump won, “people who’ve made a very, very good living by controlling politicians through their donations and making sure they get the legislation done — or not done — in Washington, DC to best benefit their clients” would find their days of influence “coming to an end.”

Or not.

Looks like lobbying is just going to be re-branded. Swamping? Perhaps Trumping, as that would most likely serve the extreme narcissist the best. This is open corruption, and they don’t care even a little. Think Progress has the full story.

Goosestepping Along…

CREDIT: Fox News screengrab.

CREDIT: Fox News screengrab.

Gee, just one post ago, I was commenting on how the constitution will glaringly highlight the hypocrisy of conservatives. Didn’t take long for blowhard Bill O’Reilly to jump onto the white supremacy ship. And I just don’t want to think about all the small-minded conservatives who are going to drink the poison kool-aid with nary a thought.

On Tuesday night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly embraced white nationalism, criticizing minorities and liberals for trying to strip power from “the white establishment.”

“The left wants power taken away from the white establishment,” O’Reilly said, “They want a profound change in the way America is run. Taking power away from the white precincts is the quickest way to do that.”

O’Reilly was reacting to renewed criticism of the Electoral College after Donald Trump was officially enshrined as president-elect. Trump won the Electoral College vote on Monday despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.9 million votes. Clinton received 48.2 percent of the votes, compared to 46.1 percent for Trump.


“Newspapers like the New York Times and LA Times have editorialized to get rid of the Electoral College,” O’Reilly said. “They well know that neutralizing the largely white, rural areas in the Midwest and South will assure liberal politicians get power and keep it… the left sees white privilege as an oppressive force that must be done away with.”

Hypocrisy, writ large and flaming, right there. The shameless dirty tactics and gerrymandering the republicans indulged in this election, to block people of colour from voting, and finding ways to conveniently lose those votes, why that was perfectly okay, yessir! There’s never any wrong as long as it’s amoral conservatives doing it, then it’s just dandy, fine, and of course it isn’t an unethical, illegal, sleazy thing to do, oh no. I’ll let The Cursing Hedgehog express my feelings about this one:


Full story at Think Progress.

Pressure. (Updated.)

From left to right: Trump International Hotel, President-elect Trump, Ambassador of Kuwait Salem Al-Sabah, The Four Seasons Hotel CREDIT: AP/Flickr/Composite.

From left to right: Trump International Hotel, President-elect Trump, Ambassador of Kuwait Salem Al-Sabah, The Four Seasons Hotel CREDIT: AP/Flickr/Composite.

The Embassy of Kuwait allegedly cancelled a contract with a Washington, D.C. hotel days after the presidential election, citing political pressure to hold its National Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel instead.

A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.

In the early fall, the Kuwaiti Embassy signed a contract with the Four Seasons. But after the election, members of the Trump Organization contacted the Ambassador of Kuwait, Salem Al-Sabah, and encouraged him to move his event to Trump’s D.C. hotel, the source said.

Kuwait has now signed a contract with the Trump International Hotel, the source said, adding that a representative with the embassy described the decision as political. Invitations to the event are typically sent out in January.


Less than two weeks after that event, Politico reported that Bahrain, another Middle Eastern monarchy, would host its National Day reception at the Trump hotel on December 7.

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) harshly criticized the Bahrain event, writing in a letter to Trump that he should “reject all business income from the Bahraini monarchy and all other foreign governments.” McGovern wrote that Trump’s “private commercial dealings with a repressive governments” endanger the fundamental principle that the president will “act solely in our country’s interests.”

The Republic of Azerbaijan also recently co-hosted a Hanukkah party at the Trump hotel, despite the anti-Semitic undertones of the Trump campaign. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, blasted the decision as “tone deaf at best, naked sycophancy at worst.”

Smaller countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan may perceive patronizing the Trump Hotel as an easy way to gain access and favor with the incoming Trump administration.

And there’s the tone of the new administration, as corrupt as could possibly be. I’m not altogether sure why conservatives aren’t in a tizzy over this, perhaps they feel this is just normal rich guy privilege, or they are hoping to get a slice of the fat pie. It’s a free for all now, whoever manages to toss a bit of money and flattery Trump’s way will get whatever they want. Today’s mood: I want off this ship before it sinks all the way down.

Full story at Think Progress.

UPDATE: Pressure on Kuwait to move event to Trump hotel a ‘paradigm impeachable offense’.

Pence: “Who Cares?”

An Indian man reads news of Trump’s election. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.

An Indian man reads news of Trump’s election. CREDIT: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.

Donald Trump may not be taking his $400,000 presidential salary, but his business meeting this week with Indian real estate developers suggests his company will profit far more just because he’s the president. Asked about this unprecedented conflict of interest Sunday morning on Fox News Sunday, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence shrugged it off, quoting Trump, “Who cares?”

Pence insisted that there would be a “legal” separation between the presidency and the Trump business, but host Chris Wallace pressed that it was more than a legal question. There was no response regarding that conflict. “The President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is completely focused on the people’s business,” Pence said, “and I promise you and I can assure the public that they’ll have the proper separation from their business enterprise.”

The exact opposite seems to be true. Trump’s meeting with three Indian executives to discuss their partnership with the Trump Organization had nothing to do with the transition. It was not about advancing the American people, but advancing Trump’s profits.

According to interviews some of those execs gave in Indian papers, it had to do with how much more the Trump name is worth now that he’s been elected president. Many of the buildings that bear Trump’s name internationally are not actually owned by his businesses. Generally, his name is licensed by others to inflate their property value. As president, his name is worth more, so Trump stands to make more money from these licensing deals.


The line between his business and his duties as president is further blurred by the prospect that foreign diplomats might stay at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. They could brag to Trump that they stayed there and fed into his profits in an attempt to literally buy his favor and the ability to influence him.

There have been many promises that there will be a separation between Trump’s presidency and his business holdings, but it’s essentially too late for any such promises to be reassuring. He’s continuing to hold meetings related to his business, and his kids, who were supposedly going to run the business without his involvement, are already participating in meetings related to his administration. Given the people in these business meetings already know he’s about to be president, the conflict of interest is already playing out. Trump is leveraging his election to make his company money across the world, and his administration literally doesn’t care.

Full story at Think Progress.

Another Dirty Business: Coal.

The bed of the Chuitna river is littered with several-ton lumps of coal. Paul Moinester/Alaskans First.

The bed of the Chuitna river is littered with several-ton lumps of coal. Paul Moinester/Alaskans First.

Oil is hardly the only threat to Indigenous people. Along with oil billionaires, there are many other people who don’t need another dollar to see them through 10 lifetimes who seek to not only destroy Indigenous land, but the very life of those people. This is going on all over the world, not just in uStates and Canada. The rapacious desire for Coal, oil, gold, and more is threatening Indigenous populations everywhere. Corporations destroy everywhere they set their sights, with no thought past the bottom currency. The Tyonek have been waging a fight against coal for a very long time. You can start with this search page at ICTMN, just for some background. Almost every tribe in uStates who have depended on salmon for their main source of food, and have done so for thousands of years, have either lost that, or are fighting against that loss. Everywhere, it’s either coal, or a state damming rivers in order to steal water, leaving one tribe after another resourceless. There’s a very long article at the Grist about the current fight the Tyonek in Alaska are facing. I’m just to include a small bit here, click over to read the whole thing.

Art Standifer is talking about the Chuitna mine project at a tribal council meeting in a log cabin in July. He’s wearing a shirt that says “World’s Greatest Papa.” There’s a gumball machine to his right, and he’s eating Pringles.

I want to take a moment, and point out a fine example of colonial thinking and implicit racism in the above. It must be pointed out that “oh, look – those Indians are using modern things, and eating modern stuff, but fighting for all that primitive traditional stuff!” If you happen to be a writer, and wish to cover indigenous issues, you might want to ask yourself why you think it’s ever so necessary to write something like that. You must be willing to confront your own colonial thinking and implicit biases. Yes, Indigenous people are a part of the world, just like everyone else. There’s more than a whiff of “eh, they could just assimilate if they really wanted to” there.

“What will we be left with?” he asks, his white mustache in contrast with his straight black hair. “The leftovers of their tailings, their coal dust? No salmon, no moose, no nothing.”

If approved, the Chuitna coal mine would be a leviathan. Standifer and the rest of the council painted the scene throughout the meeting: PacRim’s power shovels and dump trucks would trundle over the grasses, pulling down the shore pines and balsams, rolling them over the river’s watery bogs. The drills would dig into 14 miles of stream and send salmon fleeing one of two ways: upriver, back toward the spawning grounds where they were born, or downriver, toward the ocean where they spend their adult lives. One group will die, trapped upriver; the other will never make it back to reproduce.

Where the salmon once swam would sit an enormous coal mine, surrounded by an access road, a 10,000-foot elevated coal conveyor, an airstrip, a logistics center, and a brand new export terminal. The machines would burrow into the surface to reach a sparkling, black seam of ultra-low sulfur sub-bituminous coal — 300 million metric tons of it, to be exact. Layer by layer, the coal would tumble into trucks that would drive it to a conveyor belt to the sea. Some 500 workers in hard hats would gut the land like a salmon, and then float its innards 3,000 miles away to be burned in “countries in the Pacific Rim, Indonesia, India, and Chile,” according to PacRim’s website.

The first stage of the project is scheduled to last 25 years, but that wouldn’t be the end of it. The surrounding land, leased from the Alaska Mental Health Trust property, is expected to yield 1 billion metric tons of coal. PacRim owns a total of 20,571 acres of coal leases in the area — a swath that it could continue to mine decades into the future.

Tyonek is what’s known as a “closed tribe,” meaning outsiders cannot visit tribal property without signed consent from tribal leadership. But once a guest is invited onto the tribe’s land, that intimidating veneer slides right off. The residents are welcoming and friendly, though not overly eager to appease outsiders. The coastal village is pleasant and sleepy, with soft winds blowing down from the mountains, off the beach, and over the dusty roads. Members of the tribe meet at the tribal center, where women sit, share waffles, and chat about this year’s salmon run.

“Taking everything from the land is like taking the blood out of your vein,” says Janelle Baker, a member of the tribal council. She pulls up her sleeve and gestures to her wrist. “You can only take so much before it shuts down.”

PacRim has promised that the salmon run will be recreated decades from now, after the coal has been extracted. Mark Vinsel, executive administrator of the United Fishermen of Alaska, tells me that the project would “obliterate” the fishery, and that he is “not confident that it is possible” to restore the river after the damage is done.

In the near-pristine wild of Alaska, it’s not easy to dig something up and then put it back together, as Lance Trasky, a now-retired habitat biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, wrote in an email. “I am confident that the salmon habitat that would be mined in the proposed Chuitna coal lease area could not be restored to its former level of productivity after coal mining,” he says, adding that what PacRim is proposing has never been done before.

Another looming specter: The Chuitna region is one of many coal-rich sites in Alaska, and opening a mine there could open the floodgates for more down the line.

The full article is here.

Sacred Burial Ground Sold to Dakota Access.

Courtesy Cannonball Ranch, which is full of sacred burial sites and artifacts, was sold on September 22 to Dakota Access LLC.

Cannonball Ranch, which is full of sacred burial sites and artifacts, was sold on September 22 to Dakota Access LLC.

No words. None. Okay, a few. If the owners, who reside in Flasher, were all that concerned about liability, why didn’t they offer the land for sale to Standing Rock? I smell shit. A whole lot of bullshit.

Cannonball Ranch in North Dakota has been sold to Dakota Access LLC. The ranch is not the site of the Standing Rock Camp where protectors are taking a stand against the Dakota Access pipeline, but the ranch has hundreds of burials and artifacts.

MyNDNow reports the land was sold by David and Brenda Meyer on September 22 for liability reasons. David Meyer told MyNDNow that there were just too many people on the property.

“It’s a beautiful ranch, but I just wanted out,” he said.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II made a statement at the Protecting Native Land and Resources, Rejecting North Dakota Pipeline Forum:

“Recently, they purchased the Cannonball Ranch, yesterday the transaction was final, the documents are signed and recorded with the county and the money was transferred. So the owner of the Cannonball Ranch, where we’re demonstrating, what we’re protecting, has now been sold to the pipeline company so it’s really disturbing to me because the intention is all wrong. Without having any further review and without understanding what the process was… it’s not fair. It’s not right and the company is going to try to move forward without any consideration of tribes. I am not asking that you stop this pipeline, I’m asking that you do a full EIS [Environmental Impact Statement].”

Read his full statement on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook page.

On the same day as the Cannonball Ranch sale, more than 1,200 archaeologists and museums sent a letter to President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging a full Environmental Impact Statement be completed as well as a survey of cultural resources along the pipeline’s route.

“The destruction of these sacred sites adds yet another injury to the Lakota, Dakota, and other Indigenous Peoples who bear the impacts of fossil fuel extraction and transportation. If constructed, this pipeline will continue to encourage oil consumption that causes climate change, all the while harming those populations who contributed little to this crisis,” reads part of the letter.

Via ICTMN.  See comments for additional info.