Monday, September 21, 2020

Midnight Meme Of The Day!



by Noah

I'll say it again: No one makes every single mistake possible when faced with a crisis. Even an idiot will get something right one time in ten or twenty attempts, even if it's by accident. Ten mistakes out of ten tries can only be deliberate, or, in this case, deliberate psychopathy. And yet, virtually no one cares to admit that the Orange Menace To Society that currently inhabits the White House is a complete psychopath.

Over 200,000 dead now but no "Mission Accomplished" banner yet. By the end of the year, the Trump death toll will be zooming well past 300,000 on its way to 400,000. The picture used for tonight's meme represents Trump's vision for our country. How many dead will be enough to satisfy his acute case of psychopathic Republican bloodlust? There's no telling, but we have an indication. Estimates are that his "Herd Immunity" approach to solving the on-going plague threat will result in an exponentially larger number of American deaths and he knows it. The math is simple. Right now, the United States has officially approximately 6.8 million cases. 200,000 of those cases have resulted in death. In other words, we have a mortality rate of 3% give or take. The non-Quack medical community tells us that for herd immunity to kick in, we would need to have 215,000,000 of us to be infected out of the roughly 322,000,000 of our total national population. At a mortality rate of about 3% we would end up with a death total of about 6,400,000. Aw, hell, let's just be generous and call it 6,000,000. What is it about psychopathic nazi madmen and that number.

It's not just President Super Spreader of course but he is the leader and the director of his desired mayhem and chaos. Even with the Democratic Party's timid, half-hearted, going through the motions approach to impeachment, there was still enough of a case made to justify removing him from the White House before he made things get too out of hand. But that timid approach would've only worked in a less naive and more honest and more patriotic environment, not Washington, DC. The republican $enators liked what you see in the picture (a classic Plague Art piece called "The Triumph Of Death" by Bruegel the Elder, circa 1562-63). They had the intelligence and the predictions ahead of time as did their Dear Leader. They had no problem with enabling what has come to pass and now enabling more of the same. They could remove Trump right now, today, but of course they will not. For that they would have to obey their oath and put the country first instead of their position and their bank accounts. Moscow Mitch McConnell did what he was paid by his Russian masters to do and we can see the results. Now, President Super Spreader is trying to buy more time by saying he can fix things and adding that, if his opponent is elected, America will be what it has already turned into under his own direction. There is no logic. there is only cruelty and that's the point. For Trump and those who enable and support him it's all about expanding the cruelty. They are truly a Death Cult.

On the precipice of 4 more years, Trump is already openly talking about demanding a 3rd term and even a 4th after that. His party and his supporters will gladly give him that, too. The more diseased flesh for the vultures and rats to pick at, the better. He envisions being "President For Life." Don't miss the irony.

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Many Will Lose From Quick Replacement Of RBG – But Will Trump Win?



Me The People by Nancy Ohanian

-by Emorej

What happens if Mitch McConnell now quickly schedules a Senate vote on confirming one more Supreme Court Justice who is extremely pro private property and freedom of contract, at the expense of workers, consumers and presumably of reproductive rights and under-represented group protections?

What is more likely than the following?
Big donors will bribe enough swing-vote senators to ensure confirmation of the new Justice.
Under the new court’s super-majority of six Rightwing Justices, big donors will be protected from any inconvenient demands of voters. Dilution of this majority through court “packing” would not happen quickly-- if ever.
Having secured this protection, big donors will mostly regard Donald Trump as having delivered all his upsides, leaving only downsides in a second term.
Big donors will find more attractive a Biden-Harris administration’s predictable effort to calm, while less-flamboyantly continuing to disempower, both Right and Left populists.
The Supreme Court should share these preferences and, despite having only three Democrat-appointed Justices, should find a majority of five (probably including the W-appointed Roberts and Alito) to formalize the election of Biden-Harris.
The above scenario suggests that:
RBG’s death is a very mixed blessing for Trump.
If Trump is anything like the deal-maker he claims to be then, before triggering the above sequence, he would prioritize obtaining a promise that Pence, upon Trump’s resignation, would pardon Trump for all federal crimes like Ford did for Nixon. Perhaps a big donor or two could quietly create some type of financial surety to reduce the risk of promises being broken. (All of this could presumably be implemented after the Nov. 3 election, although that would leave only a tight time window in which the sequence would need to be very rapid in order to be completed).


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Is Gary Farmer's Abject Fear Of Winning Going To Cost Biden The State Of Florida?



Florida is the ultimate 50-50 swing state. After FDR died-- and Florida had given him over 70% of its votes in each of his 4 runs-- Florida became a purple state. Truman won and then Eisenhower won there twice. After that, it went like this:
1960- Nixon 51.51% to JFK 48.49%
1964- LBJ 51.15% to Goldwater 48.85%
1968- Nixon 40.53% to Humphrey 30.93% to Wallace 28.53%
1972- Nixon 71.91% to McGovern 27.80%
1976- Carter 51.93% to Ford 46.64%
1980- Reagan 55.52% to Carter 38.50%
1984- Reagan 65.32 to Mondale 34.66%
1988- Bush I 60.87% to Dukakis 38.51%
1992- Bush I 40.89% to Clinton 39.00% to Perot 19.82%
1996- Clinton 48.02% to Dole 42.32% to Perot 9.12%
2000- Bush II 48.85% to Gore 48.84%
2004- Bush II 52.10% to Kerry 47.09%
2008- Obama 51.03% to McCain 48.22%
2012- Obama 50.01% to Romney 49.13%
2016- Trump 48.60% to Clinton 47.41%
Very few votes-- just a handful anywhere in the state-- can tip a statewide election, and often does. And there are 29 electoral votes at stake-- same as New York and more than any other states other than Texas (38) and California (55). Trump can't win a second term without and it's such a major target for Biden because of that more than because he needs it himself. In Politico yesterday, Matt Dixon noted that Florida Democrats have built a vote-by-mail lead. But there is more than that at stake: control of the state legislature and at least 3 or 4 congressional seats. Dixon pointed out that Florida Democrats "have requested roughly 730,000 more election ballots ahead of the general election than Republicans, who have seen their traditional vote-by-mail dominance eroded by the president’s efforts to brand it as a vehicle for widespread fraud."
As of Thursday morning, Democrats in the nation’s largest swing state had requested 2.3 million mail ballots, compared with 1.5 million requests from registered Republican voters. That’s a departure from four years ago, when a million Republicans requested ballots compared to fewer than 882,000 Democrats.

It’s a good-- but not conclusive-- early sign for Democrats less than six weeks from Election Day in a state where every vote counts. Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are all but deadlocked in the state, where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by just 166,911 votes.

...[But a] request for a mail ballot does not equate to a ballot cast.

During Florida primaries last month, Democrats failed to return nearly 800,000 mail ballots. Republicans, by contrast, had fewer than 562,300 requested ballots unaccounted for. Florida voters in all mailed 4.2 million ballots in the primary.

...Florida Republicans also tend to turn out in much larger numbers on Election Day, which can swamp Democrats’ mailed ballots and early in-person voting advantages. During the August primary, 576,875 Republicans voted on Election Day, compared with 325,961 Democrats, an advantage that the GOP expects to maintain in November.

...Trump this year has made mailed-ballots a partisan bogeyman with baseless accusations that have hurt his own chances in the battleground state. While on a tirade about remote voting, Trump appeared to encourage North Carolina residents to illegally cast two ballots-- by mail and in person-- prompting a fresh spate of worries among his allies. But Republicans close to the president so far have been unable to persuade him to stop equating vote by mail to fraud.

The persistent attacks already have hurt Republican voter turnout in Florida, where the party long has had an edge in vote by mail. During the August primaries, 1.9 million people cast ballots by mail. Of those, nearly 60 percent were Democrats, a shift from past performance.

In the 2016 primary, for instance, of the 1.1 million vote-by-mail ballots cast, 57 percent came from Republicans.

“Republican numbers are tanking for sure, due almost exclusively to Trump’s false claims of rampant fraud,” said incoming state Senate Leader Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat running his caucus’ 2020 campaigns. “Historically, the Republicans have kicked our butts with vote by mail. Not this year.”
Republicans may lose the state because of Trump... Democrats may lose because of Farmer, whose ambition is to be Senate Minority leader. The Florida state Senate consists of 40 members. Right now, 23 are Republicans and 17 are Democrats. If the Republicans lose 4 seats (net), the Democrats get a say in state government. Farmer is so panicked about the idea of a Democratic majority that he has worked-- not something he is known to do much-- to sabotage Democratic candidates running for the Senate! Joan Walsh, reporting for The Nation last week, told the story elegantly yesterday of how Farmer has undermined Kathy Lewis' campaign. Just as bad, Farmer demanded that progressive Democrat Rachel Brown drop out of her race and cede her district to the GOP without a fight, a move that could cause Biden to lose enough votes to lose the state and perhaps the presidency. That's who Gary Farmer is-- the worst of the Democratic Party anywhere.

The Rachel Brown story is an interesting one. Farmer was eager to see his girlfriend, Heather Fitzenhagen, a Republican state Rep, win the Lee County-based Senate seat (Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel). GOP incumbent Lizbeth Benacquisto is termed-out of office and Fitzenhagen is a vaguely mainstream Republican compared to another state House member, neo-fascist Ray Rodrigues, who was also running for the Republican nomination. Farmer demanded-- on several bullying phone calls-- that Brown drop out, insisting that somehow that would help his lover. Brown demurred and is now the Democratic nominee-- who Farmer-- in control of all institutional state Senate campaign funds-- adamantly refuses to back. The Trumpist neo-fascist Rodrigues slaughtered Farmer's girlfriend in the GOP primary, 47,935 (74.8%) to 16,115 (25.2%).

A couple of days ago, Brown told me that "Compromise is something I am familiar with. My university (Florida Gulf Coast University) has sanctions on the percentage of university owned land they can develop on, so every year they buy more land so they can build on more of it and still remain in the required percentage agreement. This is exactly what we are doing when we bend the knee to people who don't think healthcare, clean air and clean water should be a basic human right. When we accept compromise, we lose land we will never regain. Farmer and friends handed the nomination to a Republican who, like Gary Farmer, voted against allowing folks to purchase prescription drugs at lower prices from Canada. They saw Heather having a heart once because she voted against parental consent for abortions because "in many cases the parent is the cause of the pregnancy" (Heather's words). She has a level of personhood but under pressure from her party she will always vote against the needs of working people." She continued, bending over backwards to be "fair" to Farmer. Please read her whole statement and consider contributing to her campaign by clicking on the 2020 Florida thermometer below.
Goal ThermometerIt can be easy to feel defeated, which is why I sympathized with Gary when he called. He sounded scared. The Republicans are the party of the rich, and to win an election you need to buy ads. The person with the most money usually wins because they can buy the most ads. I'm sure Gary has lost plenty of times, and he is forced into a rigid way of thinking... how can I do my job... who can I get in who can help me do my job... So he starts to empathize with the enemy and graciously accept any crumb they give him.

I am on the outside and I see the big picture. If we leave vacant seats uncontested across Florida, we are handing over democracy to the Republicans in exchange for 40 lashes instead of 41. We have to fight because our entire nation depends on the way Florida votes this year. Yes, I have a personal fear of Ray Rodriguez winning and destroying Florida but the heart of the matter is what the public knows. If the public knows that an awful man is in control, and they don't like him and they revolt, great. If the public thinks everything is fine when in reality it is not, well that's even more dangerous.

Also, when you don't support a candidate financially you are sending them into battle with nothing. Yes I can get creative, but I'm going to need at least $20,000 to reach all the voters I need to reach and that's still incredibly low for a Senate race.

The fact that Gary at this point cannot work with Heather to join me, the way he joined her to take me down is pretty nasty. I offered a hand of unity to Heather when she lost. I asked her to join me in my fight against Ray. Surely she cares about beating him a little bit (even though she never showed up to forums with the two of us, I cannot imagine she gave up her congressional race to go after the party's chosen future governor for nothing) I thought surely a good political move for her even would be to join a young emerging female in politics, but no. She and Gary and the rest of the state Senate Dems chose to shun me like an Amish community. I have never felt more unwelcome. I, someone who is putting my life on hold to save Florida from a tyrant... the Trump of the Florida Senate.

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A Glimpse At Wisconsin's Political Future-- Meet Francesca Hong



Francesca Hong is a super-progressive running for a deep blue Assembly seat in Madison, Wisconsin. And, believe me, the Republicans are going to be very sorry to see her. A champion of the working class, she is fearless, courageous and doesn't take any crap. Born and raised in Madison, she's a first generation Korean American who opened a restaurant and had a son in 2016. She is the co-founder of the Ladies Collective and Cook It Forward and this year organized the first annual Femmestival. Her Republican opponent is running a non-campaign as an extra curricular activity to boost his resume before he goes into real estate development. I asked Francesca to introduce herself and I urge you to consider supporting her. Why? She seems destined for great things-- in the Assembly and beyond.

No Complacency
-by Francesca Hong

Goal ThermometerThe state of Wisconsin has a rich history in progressive politics. In the late 19th century, Milwaukee bricklayers and other laborers showed that strength in numbers far outweighed the power of monetary capital. They organized for fair wages and safe working conditions, and the modern day labor union was born. In 1916, Daniel Hoan was elected Mayor of the city of Milwaukee, sweeping in an era of socialist priorities and policies unmatched by any other city in the nation. Time Magazine even called Milwaukee “ of the best-run cities in the U.S.” The city of Madison, capital of the state, home to the University of Wisconsin, and exclusively run by the most progressive elected officials in Wisconsin, has repeatedly topped the lists of best places to live and work in the U.S. by academic studies and national magazines. Wisconsin has a world-class, Medicaid-funded healthcare program that provides essentially free care for those who are unable to afford it in the private sector, and it was signed into law by a Republican governor. But the state is slipping.

As the conservative Tea Party movement of 2010 won elections and swept into Congress and state legislatures across the country, Wisconsin lost many of the lawmakers and officials that made the state a shining beacon of progressivism. The GOP-run state legislature, and Scott Walker, the Koch brothers funded governor, gutted public unions, made terrible deals with foreign corporations, and gerrymandered themselves into perpetual one-party rule. As teachers and nurses fled the state for better jobs, the state’s economy took a steep downturn. But Wisconsin fought back.

In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker by a slim majority, and pressed pause on the Republican legislature’s undemocratic free-for-all. In April of 2020, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court election was held in the midst of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conservative-led state court forced voters to cast their ballots in person and liberal judge, Jill Karofsky, still won the election, tipping the scale closer to a liberal majority. In the partisan primary elections in August, record numbers of voters cast their ballots for progressive candidates statewide, including me. I won my election in a packed seven candidate primary in the 76th assembly district that represents the isthmus of Madison. Fifty women are running for state Senate and Assembly seats for the November election. Samba Baldeh is assured to be the first Muslim in the state legislature, and I am all but confirmed to be the first AAPI. But there can be no complacency, we have work to do.

The Wisconsin state legislature has left a lot to be desired in terms of bold, progressive and effective policy making. We are still the most segregated state in the nation. In the next two years, we must push through a comprehensive legislative agenda that centers racial equity and uplifts our working class and communities of color. And yes, while gerrymandering has infringed upon the democratic process in our state legislature, we cannot lose hope that a better Wisconsin-- one that serves the people, especially our youth-- is possible.

Moving forward, our vision is a constituency in the 76th assembly district that knows its representative is fighting every day to make their voices heard. This isn’t a job and I am not a representative. It is a movement, and I am a conduit. My task is not to be the voice of the 76th district in the legislature, but to lift the voices of this community so that they may lead this progressive movement. And we must get started immediately.

We will fight for a Green New Deal that centers racial equity, union jobs, agricultural infrastructure, a carbon-free 2030, and a progressive tax reform that holds the wealthiest accountable to finally pay their fair share. We can no longer allow the billionaires to ravage the state of its resources and destroy our infrastructure in the process. That’s not capitalism, that’s corporate vandalism.

We must push for a better Badgercare for all. No one should have to pay for a single doctor’s visit or medical procedure in this state, especially during a global pandemic. Women should have full body autonomy, which include access to abortions and sexual health services without the intrusion of career politicians and religious zealots. It’s time we take politics out of reproductive health.

We know that all Wisconsinites deserve the very basic human rights of a living wage, healthcare and access to opportunity so they can be agents of their own change to build a better tomorrow. The role of state government is to enable coalition building and provide our citizens with the tools to participate in an egalitarian democracy. This state has served the people before, and I am confident we can do it again. I will hold myself accountable every single day to uphold these values and I will challenge both Democrats and Republicans to be responsible and accountable to the highest standard of public service.

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Google Won't Play Our Ad For Julie Oliver Because: "Shocking Content"



Blue America's IE Committee has begun purchasing ads in support of our candidates. The first batch went up as YouTube pre-roll for Kara Eastman (NE-02), Liam O'Mara (CA-42), Mike Siegel (TX-10) and Julie Oliver (TX-25). There's another one, still in production, going up for Adam Christensen (FL-03) this week. I want to talk about the Julie Oliver ad because Google removed it and told us it violates their "shocking content" policy. They didn't tell us which part of the ad violates the policy. Here's the policy:
Shocking content

The following is not allowed:

Promotions containing violent language, gruesome or disgusting imagery, or graphic images or accounts of physical trauma

Examples (non-exhaustive): Crime scene or accident photos, execution videos

Promotions containing gratuitous portrayals of bodily fluids or waste

Examples (non-exhaustive): Blood, guts, gore, sexual fluids, human or animal waste

Promotions containing obscene or profane language

Examples (non-exhaustive): Swear or curse words, slurs relating to race or sexuality, variations and misspellings of profane language

Note: If the official name of your product, website, or app includes profane language, request a review and provide details of the name.

Promotions that are likely to shock or scare

Examples (non-exhaustive): Promotions that suggest you may be in danger, be infected with a disease, or be the victim of a conspiracy
We appealed and we lucked-out. The Google employee who got the appeal is not a right-wing freak like the one who disallowed the ad (after, we assume, getting complaints from Republicans in the district. So the ad was up again. In the interim we made another version where we took out slides we thought might offend someone enough to claim they violated the policies. And sure enough, on Saturday, they disallowed the ad again!

Please take a look at it and tell us what you think is "shocking content." The ads only run in the candidates' respective districts. But you can see them all on the Blue America YouTube site

The music for the Julie Oliver ad, "Cussin' Trump," was created by two-time Grammy Award winner Gary Nicholson, who re-purposed his song "You Can't Listen When You're Talkin'" and gave it to us (gratis) to use to help our candidates. When Google pulled it down there were already 2,182 impressions and almost a quarter of them-- 517 people-- had watched at least 30 seconds. Blue America is charged $36.01 for that many views, a good deal. As of Saturday afternoon, over 4,000 people had watched at least 30 seconds of each of the other ads.

Right now 4,155 people have watched the Mike Siegel ad, 4,944 have watched the Liam O'Mara ad, 4,458 have watched the Kara Eastman ad. And we're determined to get the Julie Oliver ad back up-- as well as the Adam Christensen ad when it's finished. That's a lot of viewers and we're happy about the campaign, other than the arbitrary interference by Google. So far we've spent $436.17 on O'Mara, $437.08 on Eastman and $432.40 on Siegel. Amazing how close it is.

Goal ThermometerIn any case, we fund these ad campaigns with the money contributors give to Blue America. We usually only ask for contributions for our I.E. (Independent Expenditure) Committee once a year. That's today. You can contribute by clicking here or on the 2020 IE thermometer on the right. You can also send a check to Blue America PAC, I.E. at PO Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027. I always feel a little embarrassed asking for contributions that don't go directly to our candidates, mostly because I believe the candidates know how to spend contribution money better than we or anyone else. But Blue America is an all volunteer organization and over 95% of the contributions that come in are given to the candidates. We have some fun with the IEs-- billboards, TV and radio ads, newspaper ads and these Google ads. And we're always open to suggestions for how work more effectively and which candidates to concentrate on.

The contributions we get today will go to keep these ads running and to make ads for more candidates.

And by the way, one far right crackpot wrote this on his Facebook pageant we suspect he also complained to Google:
Congratulations Blue America on making the most inaccurate, hate filled, and ignorant ads on all of the internet! Wowzers Amazing, it is truly amazing how desperate the far left is to convince the world that Donald Trump is some kind of dishonorable freak. Most educated people can see straight through your lies and facades. You make the corrupt system, you convince people to do evil, and you convert people into hate filled individuals just like you are. Then you turn around and blame Trump and the police. A Blue America is a communistic satanic society hell bent on selfish extortion, that is no America. #TRUMP2020

This image is not in any of our ads


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Would You Believe The U.S. Is Turning Towards Autocracy? You Should-- It Is



A new poll by YouGov for Yahoo News found that only 22% of Americans think this year's election will be "free and fair." That's very bad; it undermines democracy-- something the Donald has been doing for years. And there are liable to be "millions of partisans refusing to accept the legitimacy of the results... Half of Trump supporters (50 percent) say the election will not be free and fair; more than a third of Biden supporters (37 percent) agree," wrote Andrew Romano. "Overall, the number of Americans who say the election will not be free and fair (46 percent) is more than twice the number who say the opposite. Another third (32 percent) say they’re not sure what to expect.

Trump’s supporters have largely bought into his false and dangerous claim that the U.S. political system cannot deliver a legitimate outcome in which their candidate loses. Nearly half of Trump supporters (48 percent) say the election will be rigged. Twice as many (45 percent) say there will be enough fraud to swing the outcome as say there won’t (22 percent). And a staggering 61 percent say “the only way Donald Trump is going to lose is November is if the election is rigged,” parroting the president.

As a result, Trump supporters are the only group of Americans who are torn over which is more important: “determining the outcome of the election quickly, even if many mail-in ballots have not been counted” (48 percent) or “waiting for mail-in ballots to be counted so we are sure which candidate won, even if the process drags on for some time” (52 percent).

In contrast, nearly all Biden supporters favor counting every vote (91 percent) over determining the outcome quickly (9 percent)-- a position that three-quarters of Americans agree with.

This difference reflects a deeper divide between the right and left over what represents the greatest threat to the integrity of the election: “people voting who shouldn’t be allowed to vote” versus “people who should be allowed to vote not being allowed to vote.” Nearly three-quarters of Trump supporters (72 percent) say the former will be a bigger problem on Election Day; 82 percent of Biden supporters say the latter.

In reality, extensive research has shown that election fraud (such as intentional double voting) is a minor phenomenon that does not occur at levels sufficient to sway a presidential contest. Voter suppression-- the left’s concern-- exerts a much greater influence over election results.

The upshot is that many Biden supporters now fear voter suppression or foreign interference could help Trump win. Nearly half (44 percent) don’t believe experts who say a U.S. presidential election cannot be rigged, and roughly the same number (27 percent) think the election will be rigged in favor of one candidate or another, presumably Trump. A full 89 percent of Biden supporters are either very or somewhat worried that people will be prevented from voting, while 76 percent are very or somewhat worried that foreign countries will interfere. The same number (76 percent) worry that legitimate mail ballots will not be counted.

And so if November’s election is anything short of a landslide, it’s not hard to imagine a disaster scenario in which large numbers of Americans come to question the legitimacy of the next president-- no matter who wins.
 It's worse than you think. Late last March, Democracy Without Borders reported that "For the first time since 2001, a majority of all states worldwide are no longer under democratic rule. This is one of the key findings of this year’s report of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project which was presented last week. The new report thus confirms the trend of recent years that many countries are on the way towards autocracy. According to the latest results of the Swedish research institute, 92 nations worldwide are classified as autocracies, meaning that 54% of the world’s population now lives in autocratic states. This is eight nations more than in last year’s report and with Hungary there is for the first time an EU member state classified as autocratic. This compares to 87 states worldwide that are classified as democratic. At the peak in 2010, the number was 98... [P]owerful G20 countries with a significant economy, such as the USA, India or Brazil, have slipped down the democracy index."

USA? Did he say USA? Oh, yes. At the Washington Post yesterday Christopher Ingraham reported that scholars are warning that our country is backsliding into autocracy under Trump. And we're on a path that history predicts is difficult to reverse!
Three years into the Trump administration, American democracy has eroded to a point that more often than not leads to full-blown autocracy, according to a project that tracks the health of representative government in nations around the world.

The project, called V-Dem, or Varieties of Democracy, is an effort to precisely quantify global democracy at the country level based on hundreds indicators assessed annually by thousands of individual experts. It’s one of several ongoing projects by political scientists that have registered a weakening of democratic values in the United States in recent years.

V-Dem’s findings are bracing: The United States is undergoing “substantial autocratization”-- defined as the loss of democratic traits-- that has accelerated precipitously under President Trump. This is particularly alarming in light of what the group’s historic data show: Only 1 in 5 democracies that start down this path are able to reverse the damage before succumbing to full-blown autocracy.

“The United States is not unique” in its decline, said Staffan I. Lindberg, a political scientist at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg and a founding director of the project. “Everything we see in terms of decline on these indicators is exactly the pattern of decline” seen in other autocratizing nations, like Turkey and Hungary, both of which ceased to be classified as democracies in recent years.

Each year, the V-Dem project asks its experts to rate their respective nations on hundreds of measures of democracy, such as the presence of legislative checks on executive power, freedom of personal expression, the civility of political discourse, free and open elections, and executive branch corruption, among others.

The United States is backsliding on all of those measures. “Executive respect for the Constitution is now at the lowest level since 1865,” said Michael Coppedge, a Notre Dame political scientist and one of the project’s chief investigators. “Corruption in the executive branch is basically the worst since Harding.”

Warren G. Harding, whose administration was tainted by corruption and scandal, is routinely ranked among the nation’s worst chief executives.

Trump, for instance, has repeatedly floated the idea of staying in office longer than the constitutionally mandated two terms. The businesses he owns have profited from repeated presidential visits, and federal courts are currently weighing whether he has violated the Constitution’s prohibition against accepting payments from foreign governments. And several current and former members of his inner circle-- including Stephen K. Bannon, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone-- have been arrested or indicted since he took office.

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College, said that “experts rate U.S. democracy as getting worse on average,” but there are considerable differences in “how they characterize the severity of the decline we’ve experienced and what they expect in the future.”

Nyhan says he is most concerned about Trump’s repeated attacks on the integrity of U.S. elections. Trump recently said that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” for instance, and habitually casts vote-by-mail efforts as inherently fraudulent. Both beliefs are false.

Nyhan is co-director of Bright Line Watch, a group that routinely surveys hundreds of political scientists to issue periodic assessments of the health of democracy in the United States. Those assessments show a post-2016 decline in democratic performance similar to V-Dem’s data.

“Democracy depends on both sides accepting the results of free and fair elections and willingly turning over power to the other side if they lose,” Nyhan said. “We’ve never had a president attack our electoral system in this way.”

Lindberg refers to presidential attacks on the pillars of democracy as “dictator drift,” and says it’s a common feature of authoritarian leaders around the world.

“That’s Erdogan in Turkey,” he said. “That’s Lukashenko in Belarus. That’s Orban in Hungary. That’s a slew of African dictators.”

He’s concerned about the rise of a sort of “sultanistic” power structure in the GOP, where the party largely abandons its core principles to support whatever the leader wants. The telltale sign of that, he said, was the GOP’s decision to not create a 2020 platform. Instead, it issued a resolution saying, among other things, that “the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.”

“They just line up behind Trump,” Lindberg says. “That should ring some serious alarm bells. You have a sort of head of a family clan, without a program other than ‘we support this person.’”

Coppedge is particularly concerned about the possibility of election-related violence. “What I most worry about is a scenario with the incumbent president declaring victory before all votes are counted, and his followers believing any additional mail-in ballots are invalid and taking to the streets.”

“I do think there is going to be some election violence,” he added, “and I hope it won’t be widespread or long-lasting."

Lindberg is also deeply troubled by the president’s history of endorsing violence against his perceived political opponents. “This is the precursor of civil war,” he said. “Imagine that Trump loses by a margin that’s not convincing to all his supporters. He refuses to leave the office and encourages his supporters to ‘go out and defend the Constitution.'”

Nyhan says that while these “worst-case scenarios remain unlikely,” we are in “unprecedented times” and should “remain vigilant.”

Coppedge recommends people concerned about these outcomes get involved in the electoral process to help make things better. “Volunteer to become a poll worker, or help some get-out-the-vote effort, or work with a political party to encourage turnout to make sure your side wins by a clear margin,” he said.

“I think that the chances are in the medium term, the long run things are going to work out,” he said. "But I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride between now and January.”

Lindberg is less optimistic.
His feeling is that if Trump wins in November, American democracy is dead and he gives it about two years. "It’s really time to wake up before it’s too late," he said.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!



by Noah
Sunday Thoughts:

Christonuts just get more and more weird by the week. Sure, we already knew about Republican Christian types who believe the world is only 6000 years old and that our ancestors rode to work on dinosaurs. In their demented and critical thinking challenged minds, they know that's true because they saw it in The Flintstones and, for them, The Flintstones is a documentary. What? It's not just more leftist Hollywood propaganda? Anyway, some Christonuts appear to be taking their lunacy a step further, professing to believe that dinosaurs are, as their Dear Leader Donald would say, a hoax! They believe that dinosaurs never existed and, if you talk to them, they'll claim that Darwin's theory of evolution disproves them and so does the Bible because dinosaurs aren't mentioned, not on a single page or in a single verse! Or, as I would say, "Not a single God damn verse!"

Enter the group that goes by the name of Christians Against Dinosaurs, or, C.A.D. Christians Against Dinosaurs is fighting to reveal "the truth" about "The Dinosaur Lie." They claim to specifically believe that the scientific community made up the very idea of dinosaurs to thwart religion. In Tucson, Arizona, C.A.D. has launched a campaign to have a lifesize model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex removed from its location outside of a local McDonalds. Perhaps the group are really a militant group of Vegan militia who just have it in for meat eaters, or, maybe they fear the dinosaur because it isn't white. In any event, they think it should go and their facebook page now has approximately 25,000 likes. A spokeswacko on the page says:
Please help! This McDonald's has this dinosaur and refuse to remove it! This is Tucson, Arizona. Call the manager and demand removal of this blasphemy!
Is C.A.D. real or a satire? Does it even matter? It's all too real and believable and good satire has an all too real ring of truth about it. The poor writing of the above quote indicates that C.A.D. might be real. Plus, it is Arizona. Months of hundred degree weather does all sorts of things to the brain. Really, with today's Christians the world over, it's hard to tell whether they're joking or not. In fact, real Christians have been doing things just like this for hundreds of years, maybe 2000 years. Well, you decide. To me it's like something right out of a Carl Hiaasen novel. Another member of the group had this to say:
Yes, the dinosaur should go unless they're willing to compromise with a plaque of some kind stating that it's a fictional character.
Sure, buddy. Whatever you say. Now can I give you a list of people I know of devil worshipers who dress up as dinosaurs to eat aborted fetuses they get directly from witches employed by Planned Parenthood.?

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Trump Fails To Lower The Cost Of Drugs Again-- Even With His Silly Stunt To Blackmail Big PhRMA


TheTrump Card

Trump is desperately trying to paint a picture-- even if just a superficial one destined to fall apart November 4-- for voters that he's delivering on his promises and boasts, like the silly fake peace treaties in the Middle East between Israel and countries it has never been at war with. Another one came to light last night when Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman reported that a deal to lower the price of drugs fell apart when Trump practically demanded that every bottle of drugs have a smiley picture of him on it!

The story about how the Donald-- who bills himself the world's greatest deal-maker-- cheated himself out of something that would have actually been impressive: lower drug prices right before the election. "After months of heated accusations and painstaking negotiations," wrote Haberman and Martin, "the White House and the pharmaceutical industry neared agreement late last month on a plan to make good on [The Donald's] longstanding promise to lower drug prices. The drug companies would spend $150 billion to address out-of-pocket consumer costs and would even pick up the bulk of the co-payments that older Americans shoulder in Medicare’s prescription drug program." Sounds pretty amazing, right? But don't forget it's Trump and his band of clowns we're talking about.

Then the agreement collapsed. The breaking point, according to four people familiar with the discussions: Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, insisted the drug makers pay for $100 cash cards that would be mailed to seniors before November-- “Trump Cards,” some in the industry called them.

Some of the drugmakers bridled at being party to what they feared would be seen as an 11th-hour political boost for Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said.

White House officials insist they didn’t plan to emblazon the president’s name on the cards, which they envisioned sending to tens of millions of Americans to use for prescriptions. Mr. Trump, of course, has a long history of branding everything from skyscrapers to stimulus checks.

Regardless, one drug company executive said they worried about the optics of having the chief executives of the country’s leading pharmaceutical makers stand with the president in the Rose Garden as he hoisted an oversized card and gloated about helping a crucial bloc of voters.

“We could not agree to the administration’s plan to issue one-time savings cards right before a presidential election,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, the vice president of public affairs at PhRMA, the industry’s largest trade group. “One-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines.”

For two powerful political forces that have often been at odds over the last four years, the prospect of a bargain offered coveted public relations victories. For years, the drugmakers have long been criticized for sky-high, opaque pricing for products that are often far cheaper in other countries. With a deal, the industry would get to project public spiritedness in the midst of a pandemic, while Mr. Trump would be able to deliver an immediate, long-promised benefit to voters over 65, with whom he is faring considerably worse in polls today than he did in 2016.

Now neither side can claim bragging rights.

White House officials pointed a finger at PhRMA, maintaining that divisions in industry ranks over the financing of the agreement undermined negotiations. That’s precisely what Mr. Meadows told the trade group last month he would say if they did not reach a deal, according to a PhRMA email at the time.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, would not comment specifically on the savings cards.

But he noted that Mr. Trump had held back on an executive order the industry fiercely opposed, which would tie some drug prices to the prices paid by other countries-- called “most-favored nation” drug pricing. Now the president is poised to link the prices that Medicare pays for drugs administered in doctors’ offices to those paid even by social democracies in Europe.

“President Trump is working to ensure American patients are no longer forced to pay outrageously higher drug prices than those in other countries,” Mr. Deere said. “President Trump signed four executive orders earlier this summer. However, he did not release the final executive order on ‘most-favored nation’ drug pricing, giving drug companies a month to come up with a counterproposal. Negotiations did not produce an acceptable alternative, so the president is moving forward.”

It appears, then, the industry will have to confront the executive order it hoped to avoid.

Last Sunday, Mr. Trump released the order, which calls for the establishment of pilot programs tying some Medicare drugs to prices abroad. They are unlikely to be established before the election, and the industry is almost sure to file suit in response.

“The administration has chosen to pursue the most favored nation policy-- an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign governments a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases,” said Stephen J. Ubl, who heads PhRMA.

Mr. Meadows’s gambit illustrates the extent of the last-minute scramble by White House officials to score political victories ahead of November.

With the president’s response to the coronavirus widely criticized, the White House has grasped for other ways to impress voters. In recent days, [The Donald] has extended a ban on offshore oil drilling off the coast of Southern states, unveiled a multibillion-dollar aid package for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, some of whose residents have migrated to must-win Florida, announced another $14 billion in aid to farmers and plunged into Middle East peacemaking.

Some officials in the drug industry, though, said they found it mystifying that Mr. Meadows would play what they saw as political hardball with some of the same private-sector companies that Mr. Trump is pressuring to deliver the October surprise he craves the most: a coronavirus vaccine.

“We could conceivably have vaccines being given out by numerous companies, and they’re all world-class companies, they’re fantastic companies,” [The Donald] told reporters Wednesday, singling out Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna as he contradicted his health care advisers and asserted a vaccine could be widely distributed next month.

Even more puzzling is why the White House would not have taken a victory in hand that would have let the president extol his negotiating skills and crow about delivering for seniors.

Instead, they unveiled an executive order on a weekend that drew little coverage and is far harder for people to grasp than industry-subsidized cost relief for consumers.

“It’s objectively imprudent,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist. “But when you need to change the trajectory of the race, you have to be willing to take risks."

In public, Mr. Trump and his campaign have targeted the drug industry. They aired a commercial over the summer lashing “greedy drug companies.” And the president himself has repeatedly complained about the high cost of prescription drugs.

“Big Pharma (Drug Companies) are advertising against me like crazy because lower prices mean less profit,” he wrote on Twitter at the end of July. “When you watch a Fake Ad, just think lower drug prices!!!”

But while Mr. Trump was venting on Twitter, his aides were declining to implement his executive orders on prescription drug prices because they wanted to see if they could negotiate a more sweeping deal with the industry.

When the eventual, and tentative, agreement fell apart, Mr. Meadows told Mr. Ubl how the White House would proceed.

In an Aug. 28 email, read to the New York Times by an industry official, Mr. Ubl outlined to the PhRMA board of directors what Mr. Meadows had told him the White House would do if the drug companies refused to to pay for the drug card.

In addition to the “most favored nation” executive order, Mr. Ubl said Mr. Meadows would convey to the news media-- what he termed “external messaging”-- that the White House “came close to an agreement with industry but the agreement fell apart due to our opposition to ‘share the savings’ with seniors.’”

PhRMA declined to comment on its internal email.

But other industry officials said that, while not every drug company was enthusiastic about defraying the costs of co-payments, the companies had collectively reached accord and were willing to spend the money. It was the insistence on the cards, they said, that torpedoed the agreement.

On a Sept. 2 phone call between Mr. Ubl and the drug company chief executives that make up the PhRMA board, the deal collapsed. They would not agree to go forward with the card.

Some on the board were uneasy with the concept because they did not think it was sound policy. Others in the industry had concerns about the costs. But where there was broad consensus was that it was inappropriate to help create such cards that close to an election.

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Another Trump Insider Exposes The Worst President In History: The Donald



Olivia Troye, a lifelong Republican who announced she's voting for Biden, worked for Pence for two years, a special adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism issues and in charge of his pandemic response. It may be hard to remember, but supposedly Pence is in charge of the entire government's pandemic response. She was the one who held it altogether for him. On Thursday she said Trump's biggest concern about the pandemic is how it will affect his reelection and said that he didn't care about people getting sick or dying. Trump says he never heard of her, never met her and that she's a liar and a disgruntled, fired employee.

Yesterday, after interviewing Troye, Susan Glasser took a deeper dive for New Yorker readers. Glasser wrote that Troye "had seen Trump rant in private about Fox News coverage as his public-health advisers desperately tried to get him to focus on a disease that has now killed some two hundred thousand Americans. She had decided that Trump was lying to the American public about the disease, and that 'words matter, especially when you’re the President of the United States,' and that it was time to speak out. She was nervous and scared and worried for her family and her career. But she plunged ahead anyway."

I asked about her firsthand observation of the President during the crisis. She said that Trump was “disruptive.” That he could not “focus.” That he was consumed by himself and his prospects in November. “For him, it was all about the election,” Troye told me. “He just can’t seem to care about anyone else besides himself.”

Troye joined the coronavirus task force when it was first established, in late January, before any Americans had died from covid-19. Her experience on it, Troye told me, convinced her that Trump’s handling of the situation-- the conscious spreading of disinformation, the disregard for the task force’s work-- had made the crisis far worse for Americans. She warned about the President’s push for a vaccine before the November election and said that she did not trust him to do the right thing for the country’s health and safety. “What I’m really concerned about is if they rush this vaccine and pressure people and get something out because they want to save the election,” she said.

Troye is the first White House staff member who has worked on the coronavirus response to speak out publicly against Trump, but the President and the Administration she described were drearily consistent with portraits that have emerged in countless other tell-all interviews and books: a White House riven by backstabbing and suspicion, where trouble flowed from the top and good governance was subordinate to Presidential whim and partisan calculation. She told me she believed that most other staffers on the coronavirus task force were genuinely motivated to help Americans weather the pandemic but that Trump blocked them from implementing the right policies. “Everything that you’re putting in place is derailed not just by a random person-- it’s derailed by a No. 1. It’s derailed by the person at the very top,” she said.

Troye described herself to me as a lifelong Republican, whose first job out of college was at the Republican National Committee. On 9/11, she fled her office on foot, walking home past the smoldering fire of the Pentagon, a moment that convinced her, like many others in her generation, to pursue a career in national security. She went on to serve as a George W. Bush Administration appointee in the Pentagon. For the first year and a half of the Trump Administration, she worked at the Department of Homeland Security, as a career intelligence official, before being detailed to Pence’s staff. Civil servants like herself were reviled as “deep staters” by Trump’s political appointees, she said. They were viewed with even more suspicion after Trump’s impeachment in the House, in December, was aided by testimony from mid-level White House staffers, including Jennifer Williams, Pence’s national-security aide, who worked in the office next to Troye’s. “I actually find that term very offensive,” she told me, “because not once while I was there did I do anything that I believe would lead anyone to think that I was a ‘deep stater,’ constantly undermining his agenda... At the end of the day, I’m a career officer and my job was to serve, no matter who was in office.”

...Sadly, the surprise here is not that Trump acted so callously in the midst of a pandemic but that so many senior government officials know that this is happening and are doing nothing to stop it. Troye’s testimony, like that of so many others, is from inside the room-- in this case, from inside the very room that is supposed to be dealing with the single biggest crisis currently afflicting the United States.

Every Presidency has its dissenters, people who leave and tell tales after they do so. But there has never been anything like the stories that have emerged from the Trump White House, from so many who worked with the President and observed him up close. People like his former national-security adviser John Bolton, who called Trump “unfit” for office. And people like the former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the former White House chief of staff John Kelly, and the former director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, all of whom have relayed grave concerns about Trump that have made their way to Bob Woodward and other journalists.

In the end, this is what struck me most during my conversation with Troye: she is young, only forty-three years old, with a long career ahead of her, and she was willing to put it all on the line publicly, whereas people like Mattis and Kelly were not. That contrast could not have been more stark as I read a Coats Op-Ed in The Times that published the same day as Troye’s video. Coats, clearly referring to Trump’s recent undermining of faith in the upcoming election, said that a national commission should be established by Congress to insure confidence in this fall’s voting. Coats never once referenced Trump by name, and he has never publicly come forward to share with Americans his misgivings about the President. Why not? He is a veteran U.S. senator and a former U.S. ambassador who closed out his career as the head of the massive U.S. intelligence bureaucracy. What does he have to risk?
Last night at New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait noted that Troye's indictment of Trump went further than most of his former aides who broke with him and denounced him. After all, she has asserted that The Donald displayed "flat-out disregard for human life," which goes beyond just being unfit. "Even by the hyperinflated standards of the Trump era," wrote Chait, "disregard for human life is an extraordinarily serious charge. The most basic trait any president must have, below even simple competence and honesty, is a desire to safeguard the well-being of the public. Almost anybody would agree that a president who simply does not care if Americans die is morally disqualified from office. But there is plenty of available evidence to support it… There’s a term for a person who views other humans purely as instruments for his own advancement, and is unable to conceive of the idea of caring about them independent of his own self-interest: 'sociopath.' The United States has had some terrible presidents before, but probably never a sociopathic one. When his own aides warn the public that he does not care if the people he is tasked with helping live or die, we should take their warnings with the utmost seriousness."

Trump quickly had a couple of his attack dogs savage her-- including Pence and a disgraced Michael Flynn crony, a retired general named Keith Kellogg. But Trump seems to take particular pleasure in personally attacking women who speak up about him. Ever notice?

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Will Replacing RBG Become The Top Issue In The 2020 Elections?



Currently there are 53 Republicans in the Senate and all they need to confirmed a replacement for RBG is a simple majority-- 50 (+ Pence to break a tie). 4 consistently unreliable Republicans have said they would not vote to confirmed a new justice this close to the election: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). And then there's Mitt Romney, who's become the conscience of the Senate GOP-- the anti-McConnell, so to speak.

Trump says he will nominate someone immediately. Arch hypocrite-- and deceitful closet queen who lies as an everyday reflex-- Mitch McConnell has already said that Senate Republicans will vote on a nominee despite all he said-- and didn't do-- after Scalia's death. The Republicans can either try to confirm a nominee before the election or in the lame duck session after the election assuming Trump loses (and they lose the Senate majority, both of which are likely). At the very least, a Supreme Court fight will be a mega-MAGA-mobilization exercise for the GOP.

Jonathan Chait pointed out in an interview yesterday that "It’s not in the interest of Republicans facing election in 2020 to resolve this. Vulnerable Republicans are much better off having the court seat hinge on the outcome of the election. Trump himself might also be better off this way, though I doubt he will be cunning enough to see this. (Social conservatives will push him to fill the seat and he will go along, picking the course of maximal partisan aggression, as he always does.) Roberts himself also stands to lose power. He would no longer be the decisive vote. His only power would be to say something against filling the seat, and I doubt he says anything like that, but it is conceivable... [T]he lame duck period is another possibility. The dynamic is different. Any defeated Republican senators would have an incentive to vote for the nominee. However, that might seem like a more severe norm violation that could conceivably spark opposition..."

When Obama tried, unsuccessfully, replacing Scalia, he bolstered his case by nominating a very conservative, Republican-friendly Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Merrick Garland. Progressive support for Garland was grudging. That's how Democrats play. Trump will do the opposite-- find someone as polarizing as possible. These six neo-fascists are all on his short list. First and foremost is Amy Coney Barrett, an anti-choice sociopath. The other 5 include 3 senators (traditionally easiest to confirm among their colleagues): Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton-- although each has presidential ambitions. Two others on Trump's short list are two former solicitor generals-- Noel Francisco and Paul Clement. Others Trump is said to say considering include Britt Grant, Barbara Lagoa, Joan Larsen, Allison Eid, Amul Thapar and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

In a letter this morning, Bernie reminded his supporters of what Republicans have said on the topic, when they were tanking the Merrick Garland:
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

"I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination."

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

"It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don't do this in an election year."

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO)

"I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision."

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

"I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term--  I would say that if it was a Republican president."

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

"It is common practice for the Senate to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term, and it’s been nearly 80 years since any president was permitted to immediately fill a vacancy that arose in a presidential election year."
Please Stop And Let Me Finish, Sir by Nancy Ohanian

If Trump pushes through one of his extremists and McConnell confirms them in a lame duck session after Trump has lost the White House and the Senate, the appropriate response for the Democrats-- one that runs against their cowardly instincts-- would be to increase the size of the Court to 11 and confirm two liberal justices. But... Biden? NEVER!

Yesterday, Ben Jacobs, writing for New York, warned of a constitutional crisis in the making, even before Trump tries stealing the election. Jacobs predicted that "The appointment of a Supreme Court justice under these circumstances would transform ending the filibuster and expanding the size of the Supreme Court from a niche issue on the left to a fundamental litmus test... [I]f Joe Biden is elected and Democrats take control of the Senate, there could be a constitutional clash of a magnitude not seen since the New Deal when a right-wing Supreme Court took on Franklin Delano Roosevelt before eventually buckling under the threat of courtpacking."

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Why Can't The Conservative Brain Grapple With Science-- And Will The Climate Crisis Destroy Us All Because Of That Flaw?



Audrey Denney is running for Congress in the northeast corner of California (CA-01), where the state meets Oregon and Nevada. It's a largely rural district with the most exposure to Climate Change-induced wildfires anywhere in the state. She told me yesterday that the Trumpist incumbent, Doug LaMalfa "does not believe in human induced climate change. He has recently called climate change policies 'radical.' He either has been bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry (as his FEC reports show)-- or he doesn’t have the capacity to wrap his mind around science. He has also been quoted as saying abortions cause breast cancer-- so I am leaning toward both."

Goal ThermometerDenney, whose campaign leans heavily on talking with voters about the Climate Crisis said that "Climate change is not a threat in the distant future. It is taking the lives, homes, and livelihoods of people who live in my district today. We lost 93 lives in 2018 in the Carr and Camp Fires and we lost at least 15 lives last week in the North Complex fire. In 2018 the Carr fire and Camp Fire alone emitted nine times as much CO2 as the state of California was able to reduce our emissions by that year.  Our federal forests are MASSIVE carbon sources-- but have the potential to be carbon sinks-- actually helping us turn the dial back on climate change. Forty-one percent of my district-- and fifty seven percent of the state of California-- is federal forests. And the vast majority of them are in desperate need of vegetation management work and forest restoration work to bring them back to a state of health. This is the only way we will reduce our fire risk and be able to mitigate climate change. If you do not think this work is critically important than you are not paying attention. Or perhaps live in one of the few places that is not shrouded in smoke from the West’s fires... Only by restoring our forests to health by doing the critical thinning, selective logging, and fuels-reduction work, will we be able to lessen our wildfire risk and mitigate the dangerous result of climate change. We can create economic incentives to find new industry utilization for the woody biomass removed from our forests. This will look like manufacturing sustainable building materials like cross laminated timber (CLT) and processing woody biomass into low carbon transportation fuels. We can set policies in place to support the career and technical education programs and apprenticeship programs that will be necessary to build the required local workforce. All of these opportunities mean high paying jobs and more economic opportunity for the real people of California’s first district."

Yesterday, Ron Brownstein's Atlantic column asks a simple question millions of Americans probably have asked themselves at one time or another, Why is it that Republican officials still don’t care about Climate Change?. He begins by introducing us to Mary Nichols, who's been "part of the struggle to prevent catastrophic climate change for about as long as anyone in American life. For years, she’s directed California’s pathbreaking efforts to reduce carbon emissions as the chair of the California Air Resources Board-- a position she held first in the 1970s before taking it up again in 2007. Nichols has also served at the federal level, working as the chief regulator for air pollution at the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. And yet even Nichols has never seen anything that crystallizes the dangers of climate change more clearly than the historic outbreak of wildfires scorching California and other western states this year. 'Yes, absolutely,' she told me earlier this week, when I asked her whether this year’s fires are the most tangible danger to California that she’s seen from climate change. 'It’s not suddenly going to reverse itself … to years when there’s no fire season, or it’s not going to happen until October. The changes are going to be real, and they are going to be long-lasting.'"

Then he introduced us to Carol Browner who served as the EPA administrator for both of Clinton’s presidential terms and later worked as Obama’s first White House adviser on climate. "When she looks at the confluence of extreme-weather events battering the United States in recent years-- not only the wildfires, but also the Gulf Coast hurricanes, Midwest flooding, and the Southwest’s extreme heat-- Browner likewise sees stark evidence that climate change is disrupting American life earlier and more powerfully than almost anyone expected when the debate over these issues seriously began about three decades ago. 'What we have now is the absolute environmental demonstration or evidence of just how dramatic the impact of climate change is going to be. This is not going to stop,' Browner told me. 'There is going to be something next year, and the year after, if we don’t get on it.'"
Environmental scientists and policy experts around the country agree that the massive wildfires are just the latest indicator that climate change has thrust the U.S., and the world, into a dangerous new era. But it’s far from certain that the growing recognition of that threat can break the stalemate over climate policy in Washington. The accumulating evidence about climate change’s destructive power represents an irresistible force for action. But it’s colliding with an immovable object: the unbreakable resistance to any response among both Republican voters and elected officials.

Polling shows that, overall, a growing share of Americans believe climate change is happening, that human activities are driving it, and that the threat is manifesting right now. But as on many issues, the gap on all of these questions is widening between voters in the Republican coalition and other Americans. Annual polls by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication show that although the numbers have increased markedly for Democrats, Republican partisans are no more likely than in 2008 to believe that human activity is causing climate change, and they express even less concern about its impact now than they did then. (Belief in human causation has declined somewhat among independents, but concern about the effects of climate change has increased substantially.)

These attitudes within the GOP coalition both reflect and reinforce Republican officials’ rejection of any effort to reduce carbon emissions. [The Donald], echoed by many prominent conservative commentators and congressional Republicans, continues to dismiss the evidence that climate change is even contributing to the spike in extreme-weather events. With Joe Biden offering the most aggressive climate-change agenda of any Democratic presidential nominee in history, the conditions for the long-stalled debate over the issue in Washington are becoming as combustible as the dried forest floors of California.

Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale climate program, says that in the past, even those Americans concerned about climate change tended to see it as a remote problem. “It was distant in time, [in] that the impacts won’t be felt for a generation or more,” he told me. And it was “distant in space”-- “this is about polar bears and maybe some developing countries, but not the United States … not my friends, not my family, not me.”

Seen through that lens, he said, climate “just blended in the background with 1,000 other issues out there... so we can deal with it later. That’s where more of the country was in 2007 and 2008. Now we skip forward to today, that’s not true anymore because of the [weather] events we’ve been talking about.”

In Yale’s polling, the share of Americans who say that climate change is affecting weather at least somewhat reached nearly three-fifths in 2020, up from about half in early 2013. But Leiserowitz said more disruptive weather events aren’t the only things moving attitudes on climate. Another important factor is the broad, diverse chorus of voices expressing worry about it. Ten years ago, he noted, Americans might have heard concern about the climate only from “environmentalists and liberal politicians like Al Gore”; now it’s much more common to hear concerns raised by public-health professionals, business executives, and even faith leaders, such as Pope Francis.

The result has been an undeniable, though not overwhelming, shift in public opinion. In Yale’s latest national survey this spring, slightly more than three-fifths of Americans said human activities are causing the climate to change, a new high. The share of Americans who say they are very worried about climate change’s impact is relatively modest, at 27 percent. But it’s nearly double the level it was in 2008; overall, about two-thirds of respondents are now either very or somewhat worried.

Americans’ attitudes about the imminence of the danger have changed more drastically: 45 percent in the latest survey described climate change as a threat to Americans now, a big increase from 33 percent in 2008. The share who say climate change won’t be a problem for 25 years or more is at 42 percent, down 10 points compared with 2008.

Yet, on all of these fronts, the movement has not been symmetrical. Democrats are expressing much more concern than they were a decade ago, and most independents slightly more. Republicans, meanwhile, are either no more or even less concerned. (Rigid GOP attitudes largely explain why the overall shift in public opinion on many questions hasn’t been more dramatic, despite the quickening pace of weather disruption.) Since 2008, for instance, the share of Democrats who say human activity is causing climate change has spiked from 70 percent to 85 percent; among Republicans, it’s virtually unchanged, at just 37 percent. And although nearly half of Democrats now say they are very worried about climate change (almost double the level in 2008), only about one in 14 Republicans is equally concerned. That share is essentially unchanged from 12 years ago.

This pattern of public attitudes looks very similar to opinions on racial-equity issues: Compared with a decade ago, substantially more Democrats of all races accept that systemic racism against Black Americans is a serious problem; however, many Republicans are even less likely to agree it exists compared with 10 years ago. The divergence between the parties on climate, as on race, reflects the larger resorting of the electorate along lines of culture rather than class. (Republicans, as I’ve written, increasingly rely on a coalition of older, non-college-educated, evangelical, and rural white voters, while Democrats depend heavily on young people, people of color, and college-educated white Americans.)

Just as many Republican voters have cheered GOP attacks on public-health experts during the coronavirus crisis, portraying them as “elites” who look down on and want to control ordinary people, they have embraced similar accusations against climate scientists. “Climate change is an issue... where most people don’t know that much... and in those circumstances-- especially for an abstract, seemingly far away, invisible problem like climate change-- they look to their leaders to help guide them through that incredibly complicated landscape,” Leiserowitz told me. “Republicans who began talking about climate change as if it was a ‘hoax’ had an incredible impact on other Republicans.”

Many environmentalists have hoped that more and more exposure to the furious effects of weather disruption might soften resistance among Republican voters and leaders to acting on climate change. But in dramatic polling last year from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post even Republican voters who acknowledge that their communities are facing more extreme weather overwhelmingly reject the notion that climate change is significantly contributing to those events.

Detailed results provided to me by Kaiser underscore an astonishing gap between the parties. Among people who agree that their communities are experiencing either more hot days, more floods, or more droughts, at least three-fourths of Democrats say climate change is a “major factor” in those events; but at least seven in 10 Republicans in each case say it is only a minor factor, or does not contribute at all. Slightly more than seven in 10 Democrats living in places experiencing more wildfires consider climate change a major factor in causing them; three-fourths of Republicans see climate as little or none of the cause. Even after this summer’s searing events, an Economist/YouGov poll released yesterday found that although three-fourths of Biden supporters said “the severity of recent hurricanes and Western wildfires is most likely the result of global climate change,” fewer than one in five Trump voters agreed.

Those contrasts offer very little reason for optimism that even if Biden wins, any meaningful numbers of congressional or state-level Republicans will feel pressure to support measures to reduce carbon emissions. Among other reasons for pessimism: In both presidential and Senate elections, Republicans are more and more reliant on the states that produce the most fossil fuels, which tend to be the same states with large populations of non-college-educated, Christian, and rural white voters drawn to Trump’s message of racial and cultural backlash.

Across the 20 states that emit the most carbon per dollar of economic output-- a good proxy for states’ integration into the fossil-fuel economy-- Republicans now hold 35 of their 40 Senate seats. That’s nearly enough senators to sustain a GOP filibuster against climate action on its own. The final brick in the wall of GOP opposition is that fossil-fuel producers, once an important source of campaign funding for southern Democrats such as Lyndon B. Johnson, are all-in on bolstering Republican power. Over the past 30 years, oil and gas producers have directed more than 80 percent of their massive $711 million in total federal campaign contributions toward Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Gene Karpinski, the longtime president of the League of Conservation Voters, the environmental movement’s principal electoral arm, sees little prospect for GOP participation on climate even if Trump loses. “Because of the fossil-fuel influence on the Republican Party and the leader of the party still calling climate change a ‘hoax,’” GOP skepticism about “climate change is out of step with the rest of the country,” he says.

But others see some cracks in the resistance. Kenneth Medlock, the director of the Center for Energy Studies at the Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, says the terms of daily discussion in Texas and in neighboring states have changed since Houston was deluged with historic floods during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “Even in the Gulf Coast, the conversation around extreme-weather events and the like is more the norm than it was five years ago,” he told me. “Up until Harvey happened, nobody really wanted to address the elephant in the room, which is that the climate is changing and this is a real risk.”

Even with that evolving dialogue, Medlock doesn’t expect big changes among Republican elected officials in Texas. He predicts that, to the extent that they acknowledge climate change, they would be more likely to talk about fortifying communities against its effects (an issue he considers important too) than to talk about reducing carbon emissions. But Medlock anticipates that position will become more and more untenable for Republicans over time-- not because their voters necessarily demand more action, but because the business community and institutional investors will keep moving ahead without them to cut carbon.

The dialogue among elected Republicans, he told me, “has kind of quietly shifted.” He explained that the Baker Institute, which is based at Rice University, is involved in several initiatives aimed at reducing net-carbon emissions in the region. “What’s really interesting about [those] efforts is that when we talk to state lawmakers and federal lawmakers [including Republicans], there’s no resistance,” he continued. “You open the conversation with, ‘The world is changing; consumers and investors are demanding lower carbon footprints; this is an economic opportunity for Texas...’ and immediately the conversation becomes very lively. So, in some ways, it’s about how you approach the conversation.”

Sean McElwee, the Data for Progress pollster who analyzes progressive causes, sees a similar opening. Although most Republican voters still recoil from measures presented as addressing climate change, more are open to promoting clean-energy sources, he says. (Yale’s polling has found that too.) “When we do testing … clean energies are very popular among Republican voters, and people are really interested in the jobs framework,” he told me. Just as important: Relatively few Republican voters intuitively embrace arguments from Trump and others that defending oil, gas, and coal is a culture-war statement against “elitists” promoting solar and wind energies. “I don’t think voters have an allegiance to coal and oil the way Republican politicians have,” he said.

Browner, the former EPA head, is also a voice of relative optimism. “If Biden wins and they start moving forward” with a climate agenda, she told me, “there will be Republicans calling. Maybe I’m a minority on this, but when they see you are serious and you want to do something, they want a seat at the table.”

Even if Republicans remain obdurate, unified Democratic control of Congress and the White House is more likely to produce climate action than the last Democratic trifecta in 2009 and 2010, most experts I spoke with said. At that point, the House Democratic Caucus still contained a large number of southern and rural “blue dog” members who resisted cap-and-trade climate legislation the chamber passed in 2009. (Forty-four Democrats voted no.) Now the House Democratic Caucus is overwhelmingly centered on urban and suburban districts where acting on climate is popular. As Karpinski said: “If you look at 2018, the key reason why Nancy Pelosi is now the speaker [is because] it’s mostly suburban and some of the semi-urban districts. It’s a combination of young people, communities of color, and suburban women. They are the most supportive of this issue and want action.”

If Biden wins and Democrats gain the Senate majority, he could drive a big part of his climate agenda through a coronavirus-relief stimulus package; his plan includes massive spending to promote renewable power, electric cars, and energy-efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses. Obama did the same thing in the stimulus package he signed to counter the Great Recession, tucking in huge investments in clean energy (that Biden as vice president was assigned to oversee).

But to secure Senate approval for measures that directly limit carbon emissions, Democrats would almost certainly have to end the filibuster, which empowers what I’ve called the “brown blockade” of Senate Republicans who represent the fossil-fuel-producing states. (Unable to overcome a filibuster, the Senate never considered the cap-and-trade climate bill the House passed in 2009.) And even if Democrats do end the filibuster, serious climate legislation could face a tight squeeze to reach a simple majority, with Joe Manchin, from coal-producing West Virginia, and possibly other Democratic senators having to take a very tough vote.

All of those outcomes are impossible to predict. But what’s clear is that the tension will grow between a sluggish political system locked in a partisan standoff and a climate system that is poised to generate disruption at an accelerating pace. “This is not some ‘new normal’ that we can plan around … it’s a system that continues to spiral out of control,” says Vijay Limaye, an environmental epidemiologist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There definitely is a signal in these record-setting months that … we are heading into a new era when we will see records set, and they will fall just as quickly … It’s hard for people to wrap their heads around now, but as bad as things have been this year, unquestionably, they will get worse.”

Nichols, the veteran climate regulator, is just as stark in her warning: Even today’s extreme weather may soon seem like the (relative) calm before the storm. “The rate of change is accelerating, so it is absolutely possible that we’ll see more visible signs of bigger storms,” as well as higher temperatures and sea-level rise, she said. “All of those things could happen much faster.”

She explained that the famous apocalyptic scene from the movie The Day After Tomorrow still isn’t likely to happen, where big waves wash over the skyscrapers of New York City. “But bigger storms and more damage and loss of property and loss of life as a result absolutely is likely going to continue-- not just in a gradual slope, but at a rate of acceleration that is greater than was predicted before,” she said.

The biggest message of the California wildfires may be that not only the terms but the tense of the climate debate is changing. Climate change has evolved from something that will threaten America to something that is doing so today. “The people who used to talk about how they were trying to save the world for their grandchildren need to start thinking about their children and even themselves,” Nichols said.
Kara Eastman is the Democratic candidate running for the Omaha-based congressional seat (NE-02) occupied by Trumpist stooge, Donald Bacon. The Climate crisis is a big issue she talks with Nebraska voters about constantly promising to help lead the battle when she replaces-nothing-Bacon in Congress:
Climate change-- appropriately called climate chaos by many-- is clearly the result of human activity. The wildfires on the West Coast bring this reality into dramatic relief. In order to reverse this trend we need immediate action from policy-makers from the entire political spectrum. In the past, there was an environmental consensus. Major environmental legislation from the Clean Water Act through the Montreal Protocol Treaty were passed by huge majorities on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, due to the extremist takeover of the Republican party, led by Donald Trump and Don Bacon, the GOP is no longer the party of the environment. On the contrary, they continue to give voice to the fringe belief that the massive climate upheavals we are witnessing in real-time today are part of some "normal" weather cycle, moreover, that these events we can see with our eyes and choke on in our lungs aren't really even happening.

Goal ThermometerDon Bacon wants to have it both ways. In front of a Republican audience, he says the the science is "uncertain" on climate, but on the other hand he claims membership to the bipartisan but largely ineffectual climate solutions caucus when he's confronted by local voters. Meanwhile, in Nebraska's Second Congressional District, we suffered from one of the hottest and driest summers on record, a year after central Nebraska suffered from devastating floods.

When I am in Congress, I will join my colleagues in putting climate front and center of the agenda. Nebraskans will be able to count on me to push a climate agenda, not simply push greenwashed window dressing. It's no longer some distant future crisis. It's here and now and we need to get to work.
Beth Doglio is in a D v D congressional general election in Washington. She's a progressive, endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and her opponent is a ConservaDem endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street owned and operated New Dems. There is no issue more important in her campaign than Climate. And Beth has a stellar record while her opponent's record is putrid and, basically, Republican. Yesterday Beth told me that "As the wildfires rage on the West Coast, lives are being lost, towns are burning to the ground, and millions of acres of land are now charred deserts. This is climate change. The stakes have never been higher and the consequences of failing to act have never been more clear. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that we have just one decade, one last chance to act, before it’s too late." She continued:
The United States must step up and must act with the urgency this moment demands. And the reality is that beyond its dangers, climate change actually presents us with a great opportunity. We can build a clean energy economy, strengthen our middle-class, and create millions of good union jobs. But we need leaders with expertise to get us there. Leaders who have stood up to the fossil fuel industry and won. Leaders who have actually passed policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow jobs.

As a climate advocate, I led the effort to stop the development of 7 coal export terminals dead in their tracks, while my opponent as mayor was busy working to site the world’s largest Methanol plant in her town. While she points in part to her support for community gardens as her track record on climate issues, I point to playing a pivotal role in passing legislation that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions-- like the nation’s best 100% Clean Electricity Bill that integrates equity and labor standards with hard deadlines to remove fossils fuels from our electric sector and grow clean energy jobs. Or my first of its kind Green Buildings Law that makes our buildings more healthy and efficient at the same time it creates jobs. I’m calling for a sector-by-sector decarbonization of our economy. I am serious about and experienced in pushing for and passing emission reduction policies that will leave a safe planet for my kids.

You can ask anyone-- I love gardening and, in fact, I helped build a robust garden program at my children's elementary school-- but gardening is not what is going to get us out of this! This issue can no longer take a backseat, play second fiddle, remain an afterthought. We must have a plan, it must be ambitious, it must go far enough. I am calling for Washington, D.C. to follow Washington state’s lead and get serious about passing legislation to address the issue at scale.

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