F… the authoritarian Republicans let’s get to work

The Trump legacy

President Biden said he wanted to unify that nation. Republican authoritarian lawmakers think that means he can’t do anything they oppose.

In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden said that to solve the issues facing the United States — the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economic struggles, domestic terrorism, the changing climate, access to health care and education, systemic racism — the nation must unite.

Some Republicans seem to have taken that to mean Democrats should abandon their policy promises and do nothing that the GOP doesn’t agree to.

“To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity,” Biden told the nation. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. Unity. I ask every American to join me in this cause.”

In the days since Biden spoke, an array of GOP lawmakers have focused solely on the word “unity,” calling everything Biden and other lawmakers in the Democratic-majority House and Senate do a failure to keep a promise to “unite” the country.

Here are things the Republican authoritarians have said Biden and the Democrats must not do because they don’t promote “unity.”:

Protecting public lands

On his first day in office, Biden issued a series of executive orders and actions aimed at undoing damage caused by the Trump administration. An order titled “On Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” includes a provision to restore national monuments in Utah that Donald Trump had tried to shrink.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee attacked the order on Thursday as “simply incompatible with his promise of unity.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney agreed, saying it would “only deepen divisions in this country.”

Halting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The climate order also includes a provision placing a temporary moratorium on leases sold to fossil fuel companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan was not pleased: “Today, in his inaugural address, President Biden called for national unity and healing,” he said in a statement. “However, just hours earlier, his administration took their cues from radical environmentalists in issuing punitive and divisive actions against Alaska, many other resource development states, and whole sectors of our economy.”

Stopping the Keystone XL oil pipeline

Another climate order provision revokes a permit issued by Trump in March 2019 for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, explaining the revocation: “The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest.  The United States and the world face a climate crisis. … At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. … Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Republicans, including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Texas Rep. August Pfluger, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach, and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, accused Biden of betraying his call for unity.

“Revoking permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline undercuts a serious infrastructure project, renewable energy growth, and rail relief for grain,” tweeted South Dakota Sen. John Thune on Thursday. “This admin can’t ask for unity & bipartisanship one minute but continue to push bad left-wing policy the next.”

Rejoining climate accords

Biden took a separate action on Wednesday to start the United States on the path to rejoining the Paris climate agreement after Trump took the country out of it, calling climate change a hoax.

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck tweeted, “President Biden called for unity this afternoon, but his first actions in office say otherwise,” saying that rejoining the agreement was part of a “liberal agenda” that “will further weaken our nation.”

Appointing someone to run the Department of Health and Human Services

Biden’s nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, has not yet been given a confirmation hearing. But Fox News published an opinion piece written by Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday that demanded the Senate reject the nomination, calling Becerra a “lawyer and career politician” with “no experience in public health, large-scale logistics or other challenges of the pandemic. What Becerra lacks in public-health experience, however,” Cotton sneered, “he makes up for in enthusiasm for his party’s most radical views.”

Cotton, a lawyer with no experience in public health, wrote, “Joe Biden campaigned on pledges to unite the country and defeat the pandemic; he continues to stress these twin priorities. But his nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, is a partisan culture warrior who undermines both pledges.”

Appointing a special envoy to Iran

Biden and nominee to serve as secretary of state, Antony Blinken, are reportedly considering appointing Robert Malley to be their special envoy to Iran. Cotton apparently does not like this pick either.

On Thursday night, he tweeted, “Appointing radicals like Malley gives the lie to all of President Biden and Tony Blinken’s rhetoric of unity.”

In 2015, Cotton was the initiator of a letter, signed by 47 senators and addressed directly to the leadership of Iran, that warned the Islamic Republic not to rely on any nuclear nonproliferation agreements negotiated by the Obama administration, an action that an observer called “mutinous.”

Reforming immigration

Biden took actions to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children and revise some of Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

“On Wed., President @JoeBiden called for unity to ensure success for our nation. I agree,” tweeted Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff. “However, unity doesn’t come by prioritizing policies like open borders (esp during COVID), decimating oil & gas ind., & granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants.”

Stopping construction of Trump’s wall

Biden also moved quickly to freeze construction of Trump’s incomplete $15 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, terminating the “national emergency” that the previous administration had used to justify siphoning funds from military allocations for the project.

“President Biden’s inaugural address focused heavily on unity, bringing the nation together after the division we’ve experienced. The new EOs he just signed, however, cater to the Left, ignoring the steps necessary to move America forward,” tweeted Florida Rep. Kat Cammack on Wednesday. “Halting the progress we’ve made at the border stymies the work we’ve accomplished to combat illegal entry and stops the reasonable, lawful options in place for those trying to immigrate lawfully.”

Restoring funds to international aid groups that provide abortion

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, told the World Health Organization on Thursday that Biden would soon “be revoking the Mexico City policy,” which blocks federal funding to international groups that provide or discuss abortion. Established by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the policy has been rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated when Republicans were in the White House.

Buck decried this too on Thursday, tweeting, “President Biden is reinstating a widely unpopular policy to fund and promote abortions across the globe. So much for unity?”

Conducting an impeachment trial of Donald Trump

Even though every House Democrat and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13 for his role in inciting his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York believes that if Biden wants unity, he must ensure his predecessor does not face any consequences for his actions.

Tweeting a list of “3 ways @POTUS can reach across the aisle for healing & unity,” Zeldin insisted, “The Senate impeachment trial should be shut down.”

Scrutinizing Trump’s botched vaccination plans

The Trump administration badly missed its target for vaccinations against the coronavirus in December 2020 and reportedly left the Biden administration no plans to build on in responding to the pandemic.

Some GOP lawmakers believe that even pointing this out undermines national unity.

“Yesterday, Pres. Biden said unity was his focus,” Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain tweeted on Thursday. “Today, he spreads lies about #OperationWarpSpeed.”

You can’t work with these Trump cultist white supremacist authoritarian assholes so why waste time let’s get to work without them

edited from the American independent

Stalinist show trials in America? That’s Trump’s diabolical plan

Here’s the Trump playbook laid out for what next year’s campaign barrage is going to be like.
It will be the most ruthless and dishonest campaign, that any living American has ever seen or can imagine.
You may ask yourself how can I get any worse?
Well you know it can. It can get a lot worse.  Trump Advisor Lewandowski laid out their sick strategy on Fox Business News on the May 23rd in a nutshell;
“Biden was behind Steele Dossier; Comey, McCabe, Strzok, and Page will all be on trial “March or April of the next year.” “They should be fearful, and I’ll tell you why. The person who has gotten a pass on this so far is Joe Biden. Because I believe that the investigation which was launched came from somewhere inside the White House to greenlight Clapper, Comey, and Brennan to start this investigation into Donald Trump for “no valid reason” said the Trump advisor. “

“…..Joe Biden has not answered what he knew and when he knew it of how this investigation began. And when Attorney General Barr and Mr. Horowitz release that report in approximately a month I think we’re gonna see additional criminal referrals, with McCabe getting another referral, Comey a referral, Strzok and Page, James Baker, possibly Bruce Orr, and other people…….. And I think what we’re gonna see it all in March or April of next year, Jamey Comey, Andy McCabe, Strzok and Page will be on trial for the crimes they have committed against the Fourth Amendment, against this president, and we can’t wait.”

You can’t get a bigger advanced heads-up than that! Lewandowski just laid out their whole strategy. First, pin the Steele dossier on Biden.

Then it will be time for flunkey Attorney General Bill Barr to do his part. Trump’s disturbing announcement last Thursday that Barr would be in charge of releasing the intel on the Trump campaign probe is a staggering development, something we’ve never seen the likes of. Barr, who already demonstrated he’ll cherry pick evidence on Trump’s behalf, can pluck out whatever evidence he wants and leave buried whatever evidence he wants to leave buried.

We predict Barr will selectively release sensitive information, as he did with Mueller’s report, to shape a favorable narrative for Trump and impede the intelligence community’s ability to collect intel on foreign threats that assist Trump. Barr will continue to release this sensitive information, as he did with Mueller’s report, to shape a favorable narrative for Trump and impede the intelligence community’s ability to collect intel on foreign threats that assist the president.”

But with everything filtered through the FOX state television network and no Republicans in Congress willing to utter a syllable of protest, there will be no accountability.

So then, next spring the Barr’s Justice Department can bring indictments against James Comey, Andy McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page for—well, they’ll come up with something. And maybe John Brennan and James Clapper too.

Welcome, to the Trump version of Stalinist show trials in America!
It’s time to take this seriously.
Trump has falsely accused Comey, McCabe, Strzok, and Page of “treason.” For investigating a presidential campaign. Treason is aiding an enemy during wartime. And is punishable by death. Trump used the word specifically to signal to his attack dogs that anything is fair game.

Welcome to one-party rule

Note: This story was filed before Trump said he would defy all subpoenas and not cooperate with Congress

Yesterday, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to talk about Donald Trump’s reaction to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

He noted that Americans should be concerned about the findings in the report.

“It’s a vast pattern. It’s not some event,” Krugman said.

“You write that it’s very much up in the air whether America as we know it will survive,” Cooper said.

“Institutions depend upon the willingness of people to obey norms, and occasionally to say, okay, ‘this is not how we do things in our country,’” Krugman said. “This didn’t start with Trump there’s been a steady erosion of those norms. This has been building for a long time, and we’re very close to the edge right now.”

“When you say close to the edge, what does that mean to you?” Cooper asked.

“You know, on paper, we’ll stay a democracy, but I worry very much about us sort of Hungary type situation where you have on paper the institutions of democracy. You even hold votes, but the system is rigged, and in fact, it’s become effectively you have a one-party rule,” he said.

“We’re very close. If Trump is re-elected if the Republicans retake control of the House, what are the odds that we will really have a functioning democracy after that?” Krugman said.

“I mean, that’s a pretty terrifying idea,” Cooper said.

“If you’re not terrified, you’re not paying attention,” Krugman said.

from Raw Story & CNN

Trump administration takes a page from China’s so-called “social credit system”

China’s Social Credit System

In the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive,” writers Rashida Jones and Michael Schur created a bleak world where everyone has a public rating system based on their social media ranking. The episode features Bryce Dallas Howard as a young woman who tries to improve her respectable 4.2 score to get better flight options and other perks. Things quickly spiral out of control.

Most viewers saw that episode as a dystopian horror story, China apparently thought it was a great idea. By 2020, the country plans to give all its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score, based on how they behave, according to CBS News. The government started working on its so-called social credit system back in 2014, which ranks citizens on their trustworthiness, including whether they jaywalk, buy Chinese-made products, what they post online, and whether they smoke in nonsmoking areas. Those deemed trustworthy can get discounts on energy bills and better interest rates at banks, while those considered untrustworthy can reportedly be stopped from buying property and even high-speed internet.

The system works a bit like credit scores, but instead of being based on good or bad financial decisions, Chinese citizens are being scored on things like whether they pay their taxes on time to how they cross the street to what they post online, per CBS. As 2020 approaches, some with low scores are already feeling the effects of a low social credit score–nearly 11 million Chinese can no longer fly and four million are barred from trains.

Next week, the program will start expanding nationwide, and more citizens will start to feel the watchful eyes of Big Brother as China’s network of surveillance cameras grows to an estimated 600 million cameras.

Now the Trump administration has proposed a new rule that would force every single person who needs a visa to enter the U.S. for tourism or immigration to provide five years of social media history.

That’s 14.7 million people per year — tourists, business travelers, students, academics, and potential immigrants — who will face bureaucrats hired by ICE scouring through everything they’ve posted online to qualify for a visa.2

It’s a proposal with extreme consequences for the tourist and travel industry and could lead to reciprocal rules in other countries for American travelers.

But most importantly, it would have a massive chilling effect on freedom of expression for everyone around the world. It sends a message that at any point, governments could change the rules to make anything anyone has ever tweeted or instagrammed a basis for making decisions about their ability to visit, work in, or move to another country.

This proposal is just another step towards ever more extreme monitoring of social media by the Trump administration. Just a few months ago, this rule was put in place for a small group of visa seekers who were selected for additional screening.

Now we are seeing it expanded to every single person who needs a visa to visit the U.S. If we don’t stop this proposal now, we could see even more extreme measures in the future.

Worryingly, there’s no indication of what sorts of posts would lead to an applicant being denied a visa, no guidance as to what counts as a social media handle, and no effective checks on the decisions made as a result of this screening.3

There is simply no doubt that the real effect of this rule on free speech is that people will be afraid to post opinions that are critical of the U.S. administration or policies online. Internet users everywhere are at risk of self-censorship. We need to stand up together to protect our privacy and freedom of expression.

from Openmedia and CBS news

The United States is Disgraced and Humiliated on the world stage…….again

Still not “our” President

In a fundraising speech Wednesday, Trump admitted once and for all that he just makes stuff up.

Trump who has racked up more than 2,000 false and misleading claims since being named the winner by the Electoral College. Trump insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with Canada — despite having “no idea” whether that was the case. (Surprise! It’s not.)

“I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know,” Trump said. “I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid.”

None of this is hugely surprising. Trump utters way too many falsehoods for it to be a coincidence. And we’ve seen over and over again — particularly most recently in meetings with lawmakers about guns and immigration — that Trump simply doesn’t do his homework beforehand. He generally doesn’t seem to have even a cursory understanding of what Congress is up to or about the underlying policies.

But the fact that Trump would make up this particular fact is especially remarkable and ominous.

The first reason is that this is perhaps the one issue Trump has focused on for decades: trade. It would be more understandable for him to make things up on guns and immigration, but trade is supposedly the issue on which Trump has been entirely consistent for many years. The idea that other countries are taking advantage of the United States was a talking point long before he became a politician.

Trump for years has talked about how the North American Free Trade Agreement is such a bad deal. And he threatened Canada with new steel and aluminum tariffs before he decided to exempt them, for now, as long as the NAFTA negotiations go his way.  Yet he didn’t even know that the United States runs a trade surplus with Canada!? If he doesn’t have that basic a level of background knowledge on an issue he apparently cares deeply about, what does he study?

The second reason is that it was a rather pointless invention. Trudeau knows the truth: He has been involved in policymaking for years and knows these things because it’s very important to his job as a world leader. Why Trump would feel the need to make something up that is of such consequence to Trudeau doesn’t even make sense for strategic reasons. It’s not as if Trump was going to pull one over on the prime minister and have the Canadians suddenly cave on NAFTA negotiations.

The final part of this is what it says about Trump’s brand of diplomacy. This isn’t the first time we’ve got a glimpse behind the curtain. Early in his presidency, The Washington Post obtained transcripts of his calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico. Trump’s call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned contentious after Trump became enraged by an agreement the Obama administration made with Australia to take some refugees. Trump didn’t seem to have any understanding of the agreement of Australia’s policy of not accepting refugees who arrive by boat.

What happens if Trump takes this approach — or the one from the meetings on guns and immigration — to his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? Can a guy who can’t be bothered to understand the basics before talking to foreign leaders and lawmakers do the kind of homework required for very sensitive and complicated negotiations involving nuclear programs? And what if he doesn’t even try? What if he decides to wing it, as he did with Trudeau?

Thus far, Trump has shown no signs that he thinks that style isn’t working. And apparently, it’s still very much a part of his international diplomacy.

edited from – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/03/15/why-trumps-admission-that-he-made-stuff-up-to-justin-trudeau-is-particularly-bad

A web of totalitarian control which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined

George Soros Launched a Scathing Attack On Google And Facebook

Sean Gallup Getty Images

“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near- monopoly distributors makes them public utilities,” the philanthropist said at a dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Soros also denounced President Donald Trump, whom he accused of trying to establish a “mafia state.”

 

DAVOS, Switzerland — The financier and philanthropist George Soros joined the rising attacks on Facebook and Google Thursday night, calling for “more stringent regulations” on the tech giants.

Soros referred to the companies as a “menace” and denounced “the rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant IT platform companies,” which he described as “ever more powerful monopolies,” hurting competitors and societies alike.

Soros — one of the world’s largest philanthropists — adds a key voice to a growing set of calls to rein in the giant tech companies, which are struggling to respond to a rising tide of public criticism.

“They claim they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near- monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access,” he said.

Soros also compared the companies to casinos, saying they “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide.”

Soros warned that these companies would likely “compromise themselves” to enter the Chinese market.

“There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance,” he said. “This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.”

Soros also denounced President Donald Trump, whom he accused of trying to establish a “mafia state.”

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief – Davos, Switzerland Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed