Time to defeat Mitch “the grim reaper” McConnell

Beating Senate crime boss Mitch McConnell, the self-described grim reaper in 2020 and taking back the Senate is just as important as beating the executive office crime boss Donald Trump. Exposing voters to the way in which the majority leader has made the Senate a graveyard for legislation that has broad support among voters is a great way to start. Particularly now the McConnell family’s graft and corruption been exposed.

Mitch McConnell likes to call himself the “grim reaper,” which is a rather odd label for a politician to embrace during a year when he is running for reelection. But if you want to cast yourself as the champion of “nostalgia voters” and embrace a revanchist agenda, killing off anything that helps the country adapt to the future might work.

But one thing is worth noting about McConnell’s response to this latest messaging. When discussing it with Fox talking head Laura Ingraham, the majority leader embraced his role as the grim reaper, killing off what he mislabels as “socialism.” The examples he gave didn’t fit the framing because they all have broad bipartisan support among voters. Instead, he named proposals that haven’t passed in the House: the Green New Deal, single-payer health care, and discussions about granting statehood to Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Wait! Puerto Rico! That one is especially odd because that territory of the United States has absolutely nothing to do with so-called “McConnell socialism”.

What McConnell obviously wants to do is avoid public recognition that he has blocked every bipartisan effort to limit dark money in politics, re-establish net neutrality, strengthen background checks for all gun purchases, provided real protections for Dreamers, establish paycheck fairness, and pass the Violence Against Women Act. We can now add that he continues to block all attempts to protect our elections from Russian and other foreign interference.

Democrats should do to McConnell what Republicans have done to Pelosi. I was referring to the way that she became the poster child that every Republican ran against.

All Democratic candidates for running for Senate should make the case that a vote for their opponent is a vote for McConnell and against our values in a democracy. This is one time when democrats should worry about taking a page out of the Republican playbook.

Based on a story in AlterNet

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A billion people displaced in a world of chaos where political panic is the norm

Many places on earth will become uninhabitable

Last year’s United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said the world’s nations must quickly reduce fossil fuel use to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The transitions, the report said, must start now and be well underway in the next 20 years.

An Australian policy paper outlines what can only be referred to as a Doomsday scenario for humans if we don’t start dealing with climate change. The paper suggests that by 2050 we could see irreversible damage to global climate systems resulting in a world of chaos where political panic is the norm and we are on a path facing the end of civilization.

The most disturbing thing about it, say, experts, is that it’s actually a fairly calm and rational look at just how bad things could get — and how quickly — if humans don’t stop emitting greenhouse gases into the environment.

The paper was written by an independent think-tank in Australia called Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration. It offers a scenario for 2050 in a world where humans didn’t lower carbon emissions enough to keep the global temperature from rising.

The Australian report imagines a world where that didn’t happen and global temperatures warmed by 3 degrees Celsius or even more. That’s a rise of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. While that may not seem like a lot, on a worldwide scale it is expected to result in massive, catastrophic shifts to the weather, agriculture and even the habitability of some areas.

“Three degrees Celsius by 2100 is a pretty middle-of-the-road estimate. It’s not extreme and it’s totally believable,” if serious action isn’t taken, said Sobel. (meaning this scenario is not a worst case and that it could be even more horrific than this)

The writers say their scenario offers a “glimpse into a world of ‘outright chaos’ on a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it, in which the challenges of global security are simply overwhelming and political panic becomes the norm.”

This is how the report sees our future playing out:

In the years leading up to 2050, policy-makers fail to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The case for the global climate-emergency mobilization necessary to keep temperatures from rising is “politely ignored.” Global greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2030 and begin to fall due to a drop in fossil fuel use but the damage has been done and warming reaches 3 degrees Celsius.

By 2050, sea levels have risen 1.6 feet and are projected to increase by as much as 10 feet by 2100.

Globally, 55% of the population lives in areas subject to more than 20 days of lethal heat a year, beyond the human threshold of survivability.

North America suffers from devastating weather extremes including wildfires, heatwaves, droughts, and flooding. China’s summer monsoons fail and water in Asia’s great rivers are severely reduced from the loss of more than one-third of the Himalayan ice sheet.

A billion people displaced

Within 30 years from today, ecosystems in coral reefs and the Amazon rainforest collapse, affecting fishing yields and rainfalls.

Deadly heat conditions turn many areas unlivable, resulting in more than a billion people being displaced in West Africa, tropical South America, the Middle East, and South-East Asia.

Two billion people globally are affected by lack of water. Food production falls by one-fifth as droughts, heat waves, flooding and storms affect crops.

Rising ocean levels make some of the world’s most populous cities uninhabitable, including Mumbai, Jakarta, Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Lagos, Bangkok, and Manilla. Billions of people must be relocated.

This leads to fights over land, resources and water and potentially to war and occupations.

“There are studies showing a doubling of the number of people at risk for hunger by mid-century because of droughts. And a wider prevalence of infectious diseases like malaria, Dengue, and the Zika virus. It could result in forced migrations and massive refugee problems,” he said.

It’s noted that just before the Syrian civil war began in 2011, one of the area’s most severe droughts on record pushed rural to urban migration rates to four times normal and resulted in food riots.

We’re already getting a taste of what’s to come, said David Doniger who directs the climate program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental non-profit based in New York City. He cited this year’s extreme weather that’s resulting in historic flooding in the Midwest, as well as last year’s giant wildfires and severe storms nationwide. Imagine that on a global scale, he says.

This past December, a record-shattering heat wave in Australia caused temperatures to soar above 120 degrees in some spots.

“All of these things are going to compound. People are going to be forced to migrate or die. All of this is going to get worse and combine in ways that worsen political tensions and create instability,” he said.

The United States is not immune to any of this, said Solomon Hsiang, who studies climate change economics and directs the Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley. His research has found that colder countries such as Canada and Russia may benefit from warming because they’ll have more arable land. But not the United States, which “is already too warm to be a big winner,” he said.

The southeast and the Midwest will fast bigger, stronger storms and wilder weather, causing flooding, damaging businesses and homes and disrupting farming. The West will have more droughts and wildfires.

Hsiang’s research shows a roughly 20% chance that conditions not unlike the Dust Bowl could be almost continuous, he said. That was a four-year period from 1935 to 1938 when a severe drought and dust storms swept from Texas to Nebraska, killing livestock and destroying crops. Dust from the storms reached as far as New York City

The decisions we make will be ones future generations will remember us for, Hsiang said.

“The same way we look back today and have pride in the things our grandparents did to defend democracy —  our grandchildren are going to look back and have feelings about what we did today,” he said.

“What those feelings are,” he said, “will depend on what we decide to do.”

 

Edited from USA today

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.

48 hours of Trump corruption and evil intent

Here are 9 things in just the last 48 hours Trump and his cronies are doing to sabotage the United States of America

1/ Trump gave Attorney General William Barr “full and complete authority” to unilaterally declassify intelligence-community documents in his audit of the Russia investigation. Trump issued an order for intelligence agencies to comply with Barr’s investigation just hours after accusing the people who led the investigation of committing treason. Barr has said he believes the Trump campaign was “spied” on. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

2/ The Trump administration is preparing to bypass Congress to sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other appointees are urging Trump to invoke an emergency provision that would allow him to prevent Congress from blocking the $7 billion deal. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Independent)

3/ The United States will send 1,500 additional troops and a dozen fighter jets to the Middle East in the coming weeks. Trump publicly blamed Iran and its proxies for recent attacks on oil tankers near the UAE and for a rocket attack in Iraq. (Associated Press)

4/ Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border-wall contract to a specific construction firm in North Dakota run by a GOP donor. The company’s CEO is a frequent guest on conservative media and has courted Washington officials by arranging meetings at congressional offices and inviting officials to review border-wall prototypes. (Washington Post)

5/ The Trump administration formally proposed revisions to Obama-era healthcare and civil-rights protections for transgender people. The proposal would eliminate gender identity as a protected category in healthcare decisions and instead push government policy toward only recognizing sex at birth when evaluating discrimination “on the basis of sex.” (New York Times)

6/ Passage of the bipartisan $19.1 billion disaster-relief package was halted by one Trump loving House Republican. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said he objected to the bill because it would add to the national debt and leaves out an additional $4.4 billion for the border wall. (Washington Post)

Not to be overlooked these events at least deserve dishonorable mention:

  • Trump tweeted a doctored video of Nancy Pelosi that had been deliberately edited to suggest she was slurring her words. “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE,” Trump tweeted alongside the video. (NBC News / CBS News / Washington Post / The Guardian)
  • Republican candidates and campaign committees have spent more than $4 million at Trump hotels, golf courses, and vineyards since Trump took office. More than a quarter of the money has come from Trump’s own campaign. The Republican National Committee has spent more than $1 million at Trump’s properties in Washington and Florida. (The Hill)
  • Accused war criminal Edward Gallagher’s attorney also represents the Trump Organization. Trump has indicated that he plans to pardon Gallagher, who is accused of killing civilians and premeditated murder in Iraq. (CNN)

Can this country even survive until 2020?

https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com

George Orwell called it back in 1949

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, whose work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism

Extremely poignant quotes:

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Welcome to the land of Tyrant Trump

Everyone able and willing to distinguish facts from lies has witnessed Trump’s brazen cover-up of Russia’s attack. He has never named or denounced the aggressor, while depicting the investigators as traitors who used a hoax to attempt a coup.

As November 3, 2020 approaches, Trump ignores calls to defend the elections and fails to confront Russia, inviting more cyber-sabotage on his behalf. What if he loses nonetheless? Consider a playscript whose author casts himself as defender of the nation against the “globalist elite” and their “deep state” henchmen. In Act I, he miraculously outwits their attempt to rig the 2016 election; in Act II he thwarts their attempted coup. Act III completes the plot, as the Democrats manage to fake a 2020 victory, only to face a resolute President who—having forewarned of a final deep state conspiracy to regain power—announces a state of emergency.

Better outcomes are possible, but inaction based on rosy predictions invites deepening danger. Time is passing, as it did in the weeks following President Obama’s discovery of Russia’s attack, and as it did while we waited for Mueller. Investigators continue to investigate what they already know. The Republican conscience does not stir. The Republican base is unmoved. The “investigation” of the investigators begins. The “coup plot” reverberates across cable news and Twitter. We watch—or don’t—an unfolding illustration of Orwell’s “plain, unmistakable facts being shirked by people who in another part of their minds are aware of those facts.”

Devoted to preserving human liberty, Orwell probed democracy’s vulnerabilities. In Animal Farm he depicted naïve disbelief in the face of step-by-step descents into despotism; in a 1940 review of Mein Kampf, he showed how ordinary people surrender freedom willingly; in 1984 he depicted how authoritarian control can be strengthened by technologies of mass communication and surveillance.

Orwell did not live to witness the liberal complacency that set in following defeat of the 20th century’s totalitarian movements. Nor could Orwell have imagined the new dangers posed by the cyberage. The treasonous implications of presidential indifference to Pearl Harbor or 9/11 would have been obvious to all.  Our “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” by contrast, inflicted grave damage invisibly and non-violently, enabling its perpetrator and chief beneficiary—Putin and Trump—to deny its occurrence. Demagogic big lies can now metastasize through the body politic with lightning speed.

We struggle to understand this latest rise of authoritarian nationalism, envisioning policies that will progressively drive such movements back to humanity’s dark margins. But first we must remove a particular enemy from his position as the most powerful man on earth.

When freedom’s heartland was last endangered, FDR did not await favorable opinion polls to affirm—against the original “America First” movement—that America must fight to defeat fascism. Nor did Winston Churchill, though long ignored, refrain from insisting that his country face the Nazi danger. Those leaders matched Hitler’s faith in the “triumph of the will” with an even fiercer will to defend the liberal democracies.

Today, with America’s “bully pulpit” in the hands of a demagogue, defenders of our 230-year-old Constitution have to win for themselves the constant struggle to face what is in front of their noses. Aware citizens must stand up to insist that aiding and abetting a foreign attack, and depicting as traitors those who rise to “the common defense,” are high crimes that must be stopped and punished. Democratic leaders will not find their voice, nor Republicans awaken to the truth, until they sense the rising tide of mobilized American patriotism.

The test we face is to stop “shirking” in the face of “obvious and inalterable” facts, to focus fearlessly on the danger rather than allow a parade of doubts and distractions to displace what is “in front of one’s nose.” From 1776 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, believers in human freedom and democratic self-governance have known when to shrug off setbacks and summon their will. That time is now.

edited from History News Network David Goldfischer via Raw Story

 

US tax laws prop up frauds like “#Brokeahontas” while screwing over everyday taxpayers.

Bill Maher called Trump a “reverse billionaire” and said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) should call him “Brokeahontas.”

How the US tax laws prop up frauds like “#Brokeahontas” Donald Trump — while screwing over everyday taxpayers.

US Taxpayers have given “Brokeahontas.” more money than his daddy ever did

The New York Times disclosure that Donald Trump was able “to avoid paying income taxes” for years, while he racked up $1.17 billion in losses, tells you all you need to know about the American system of taxation that rewards risk, debt and speculation because it so completely insulates the greediest among us from the real world consequences of all three.
We know that our tax system taxes wages we earn at a much higher rate than the profits the rich earn off their investments. But it’s more perverse than that because it actually incentivizes the most predatory traits of vulture capitalism.

Getting Paid to be the fool

To be sure, over the years the plume of red ink coming out of the Trump corporate octopus has proven toxic for an army of small business owners and investors.
In Atlantic City, corporate entities tied to Trump filed for bankruptcy four times since 1990, allowing the companies to shed hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, but leaving a long list of businesses that did not get paid. The losers included small businesses and tradespeople.
Back in October 2015 when interviewed Trump for CBS MoneyWatch he was nonchalant about the human carnage of his Atlantic City serial bankruptcies. “That’s part of the process,” he said. “I wanted to use the bankruptcy law to my own advantage. Should I have used it to somebody else’s advantage? These people may have gotten clipped at the end, but they made a lot of money along the way with me.”

To dismantle this rigged system that rewards the rich and punishes everybody else we have to educate ourselves on its built-in features. It not just the rate of taxation, or the facility with which the wealthy can avoid taxation, but it’s also the behaviors that the tax system rewards.
James S. Henry an investigative economist-lawyer and a Global Justice Fellow at Yale University said,

“We had a lot of neo-conservative economists back in the 1980s and early 90s arguing that we should have lower taxes on capital than labor because that would encourage economic growth,” he said in a phone interview. “We basically went off on a binge during that whole period and I think Trump was on the scene making one bad investment after another.”
In commercial real estate, building owners benefit from a precept that buildings lose their value over time even though their actual cash value has grown, sometimes exponentially. That so-called ‘depreciation’ can be deducted from their taxes as well as the interest from the debt which moguls incur when they borrow, as they almost always do, to purchase multi-million-dollar properties.
They can further shelter their wealth and profits through forming trusts so they can pass along their fortune while greatly reducing, if not zeroing out, any possible tax liability.
“We have generous tax deductions and depreciation allowances and it is especially true in the case of the real estate industry where Trump is ensconced,” said Henry. “You have this combination of accelerated depreciation and interest deductibility which just encouraged everybody to go head over heels into highly leveraged real estate investments.”
He continued, “There’s a whole chapter to be written in the history of Trump and the role of the tax system in giving him a repeated rebirth.”

Brian Aryai, is the CEO of Icon Compliance Services and had a distinguished career as a Special Agent with the IRS. He says the Trump saga is emblematic of the“unfairness of the tax code, when as a business entity you can have massive losses year after year for tax purposes, while in reality, you are earning millions or billions.”
“Add to that shortcoming dwindling resources for enforcement, scarcity of audits, and you have a toxic formula for an extremely inequitable tax code,” Aryai wrote in an email. “We only have our legislators to blame for creating this mess, where the average worker on a W-2 wage pays a higher rate than the fat cats flying to their favorite vacation spots on private planes . . . . Finally, powerful and well-funded lobbying forces maintain the status quo and keep our legislators in check to prevent corrective action.”
But it is not just the Federal tax code that was made even more favorable for the Donald Trumps of the world by the GOP 2017 re-write.
Local governments control zoning which determines what can be built and where. That, in turn, determines the potential value of the real estate. The denser and more commercial the use usually the higher the value of the land.

Nowhere are the zoning stakes higher than in New York City where international capital sees real estate investments as one of the world’s safest investments.
James Parrott, the Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs says, even as the city struggles to build affordable housing, it makes developers like Donald Trump even wealthier overnight by “up-zoning” their real estate but the public gets no cut in the action.
“in most of the re-zonings the City does it involves up-zoning that permits a denser scale of development or permits commercial where manufacturing or residential had only been permitted before,” Parrott said. “That has the potential in most cases to tremendously increase the value of that land and all of that accrues to the developers.”
He continued, “So, New York City, especially in the last 15 years has had a lot of real estate development and rezoning and the city has tremendously, through its actions, bolstered the incomes of the billionaire real estate developers . . . . and Donald Trump benefited from that when he was active in that area but he certainly was not alone.”
“Why can’t you think of a mechanism that would allow the city to capture some of that appreciation in land value?” asked Parrott. “The city has not done that of course because the real estate investors write the rules.”

To get a sense of how the gears of this oppressive mill of injustice grind contrast how we treat the millions of Americans behind in their student loans with the likes of Donald Trump.
Americans can’t escape the indenture of their student loans because they can’t discharge them through bankruptcy. But that same bankruptcy code enabled Trump to repeatedly escape the consequences of his bad business bets and behavior.
There, in a nutshell, is what’s so upside down about this country. Our system uses student debt as social control for millions who tried to invest in themselves, but it extends carte blanche to a snake oil salesman like Donald Trump who was never been given a reason to learn impulse control.

from Raw Story and Bob Hennelly at Salon

Good luck getting this tyrant out of the White House

Besides cheating to win Trump has other tricks up his sleeve. Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky, thinks it would not be surprising if Donald Trump attempted to hold onto the presidency should he lose the 2020 election, fearful of being slammed with multiple criminal charges that could not be filed while he was president.

The columnist said that Trump would need the help of the Republican Party — and he might just get it.

As the theory goes, if polling just before the election shows Trump may lose, he will likely start the daily drumbeat of voter fraud accusations just as he did in 2016 when he lost the popular vote, but gained the Oval Office.

“Trump can, and surely will spend the three or four weeks before the election out on the campaign trail telling his audiences that the vote is going to be rigged against him,” the columnist writes. “He’ll say, repeatedly, that he doesn’t know if he’ll honor the election results, it will depend on what they are and how much fraud there was, because ‘everyone’ knows the fraud is going to be massive, like, folks, you’ve never seen this kind of fraud.” (We know he’ll do this because he did it the last election cycle)

Fox News will likely lend a helping hand, he explains by writing, “Fox will broadcast segment after segment about the supposedly massive fraud,” while Republicans come forward to support him.

Pointing to two battleground states that could go either way in a close election, Tomasky suggests, “So suppose our two close states are in Republican control. You know what will happen as well as I do… He’ll scream it was rigged, and out will trot the army of Republican election lawyers pointing to what they will say were thousands of instances of fraud. And those Republican secretaries of state and/or elections boards will know their jobs and will get to work. “

“Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and everyone else who once called Trump a phony (looking at you, Mitt) will be on TV averring that sadly, they’ve come to conclude that a re-vote may be the only acceptable remedy,” he imagined. “Trump, working through the state and local officials in the two states in question, will sue. It will get to the Supreme Court.”

Needless to say, Trump may find a more friendly court than the one that handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 — particularly with two Trump appointees sitting on it.

As Tomasky warns, “So the five conservatives order a re-vote in the two states in question. Impossible? We used to be able to say with confidence ‘no, that can’t happen here.’”

“Who knows what can happen here anymore? The treasury secretary is openly breaking the law, and the attorney general lied to Congress. I don’t think John Roberts would provide the fifth vote to annul an election, but we know after 2000 what can happen when the Supreme Court uses some tiny technical issue in a state to effectively decide our next president,” Tomasky concluded.