Full MAGA Hunger Games

Full MAGA Hunger Games

by digby

Remember this meme from last year?

This may be one of the most disturbing things
I've heard about the Trump administration yet, something out of a dystopian science fiction novel. Staging entertainment spectacles to challenge scientific finding strikes me as a fundamentally Trumpian exercise,something he could easily decide he wants to do in the future.

John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has killed an effort by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to stage public debates challenging climate change science, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, thwarting a plan that had intrigued President Trump even as it set off alarm bells among his top advisers.

The idea of publicly critiquing climate change on the national stage has been a notable theme for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A. For nearly a year he has championed the notion of holding military-style exercises known as red team, blue team debates, possibly to be broadcast live, to question the validity of climate change.

Mr. Pruitt has spoken personally with Mr. Trump about the idea, and the president expressed enthusiasm for it, according to people familiar with the conversations.

But the plan encountered widespread resistance within the administration from Mr. Kelly and other top officials, who regarded it as ill-conceived and politically risky, and when Mr. Pruitt sought to announce it last fall, they weighed in to stop him. At a mid-December meeting set up by Mr. Kelly’s deputy, Rick Dearborn, to discuss the plan, Mr. Dearborn made it clear that his boss considered the idea “dead,” and not to be discussed further, according to people familiar with the meeting. All spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to describe internal White House deliberations and meetings.

During that meeting, according to two attendees and a third person briefed on the discussion, administration officials and White House aides were in agreement that Mr. Pruitt’s idea was unwise. Their main concern was that a public debate on science — particularly on an issue as politically charged as the warming of the planet — could become a damaging spectacle, creating an unnecessary distraction from the steps the administration has taken to slash environmental regulations enacted by former President Barack Obama.

Asked about the meeting and the administration’s internal deliberations, Raj Shah, the deputy press secretary, said: “The Trump Administration will ensure that any climate science review will be conducted through a robust, interagency process, consistent with federal law.”

Challenging the climate change finding is a major objective of right wing groups like The Heartland Institute and they have been pushing for Pruitt to do it. This creepy idea was actually proposed by a former Obama energy department official who says he "doesn't have dog in this fight" (he did, but it drowned...)

It came very close to happening:

Mr. Pruitt planned to announce his red team, blue team debate in early November, according to a news release that was written but never issued. According to four people who have read the draft news release, the debates were to be organized by the E.P.A.’s science advisory board and not include other agencies.

The announcement of the debates would have coincided with the release of an exhaustive scientific report from 13 United States government agencies that definitively found human activity to be responsible for almost all of the warming that has occurred in the past half-century. It would have also coincided with the start of a United Nations meeting in Germany to discuss the Paris agreement, the global climate accord from which Mr. Trump intends to withdraw the United States’ participation.

When Mr. Trump’s chief of staff learned about the news release, he demanded the debates be delayed until cabinet secretaries and top White House officials could discuss it, according to three people familiar with the discussions. That initial meeting never occurred, but on Dec. 13, the White House convened senior officials to discuss the matter.

According to two people who attended, the meeting included a presentation of the red team, blue team plan by two E.P.A. officials — Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff and the head of the agency’s air office. Other attendees included senior officials from the Department of Energy, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Economic Council.

The meeting was run by Mr. Dearborn and Michael Catanzaro, who is a member of the economic council and the president’s domestic energy and environment policy director.

The takeaway, according to people in the room, was that every office within the White House was opposed to the idea. At one point, Mr. Dearborn said the notion of red team, blue team debates was “dead” and should not be mentioned again. “The chief doesn’t want it,” Mr. Dearborn said, referring to the White House chief of staff, according to one person who attended.

E.P.A. officials were taken aback, the person said.

In the weeks since that meeting, however, Mr. Pruitt said the red team, blue team debates were still under consideration. In January, he told Congress that a report in E & E News, a news organization focusing on energy and the environment that first reported that the White House had killed the plan, was false. White House opposition to the debates was “untrue,” he said under questioning by a senator.

Oh, by the way, this is the headline of Gabriel Sherman's latest for Vanity Fair:


They announced that they're going to give Dear Leader his military parade by the way.