David J. Rothkopf on Trump’s Legacy

Great summation by David J. Rothkopf, professor of international relations, political scientist and journalist, from his twitter feed.

“So we know this, Russian government representatives reached out to the Trump campaign in 2015 and undertook multiple initiatives and had multiple points and series of contacts with Team Trump for the next couple years. It’s not just the Trump Tower meeting.

It’s not just the interactions with Wikileaks. It’s not just the Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica. It’s not just Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian agent working hand in hand with campaign chair Paul Manafort.

It’s not just the ties between Flynn and the Russians. It’s not just the links between the Russians and Eric Prince through the meeting in the Seychelles and beyond that. It’s not just the ties of Wilbur Ross. It’s not just the Trump Organization dealings with Russia.

It’s not just Jared Kushner’s dealings with Russia. It’s not just Kushner and Flynn’s dealing with Kislyak during the campaign. It’s not just the candidate Trump asking for Russian help. It’s not just the GRU hacking for which indictments have already taken place.

We can go on. But let’s not stop before we discuss the many benefits the Russians delivered to Trump via hacking, the dumping of files, the manipulation of social media and other avenues…all to support Trump over Clinton. Nor should we fail to discuss the benefits Trump offered the Russians since he gained power.

There was his covering up their hacking and his efforts to slow investigations of it. There was his denying the conclusions of the intelligence community about the Russians. There were the talks between Flynn and the Russians about waiving sanctions. There were the meetings with Trump when he was president when he handed over classified information to the Russians. There were whatever promises or concessions were made in Helsinki. There was a pattern of placating the Russians or failing to enforce sanctions for months and months. In other words, there was plenty of quid and plenty of quo ($50 million penthouse apartments and the promise of big deals or financing benefits aside.)

From the outreach to Cohen to just the first months of the admin, we can count more than a dozen separate avenues of connection at the highest level. In any normal campaign or administration, just one would set off alarm bells and have the president calling the FBI into action. But instead, in addition to those dozen avenues, the offers that were explicitly or tacitly accepted, benefits to both sides and the overt betrayal of the U.S. to advance the political or economic interests of Trump and those close to him, we have the president obstructing justice.

Actively obstructing. Threatening to fire all those getting closer to the truth. Lying and lying and lying some more and urging staff to lie and witness tampering and so on.

This is not a case of possible collusion. This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community, and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president as well as his entire team.

This is the biggest scandal in the history of the American presidency and there is not another that is close to it. But that is not all we know.

The DoJ believes the president of the United States directed the commission of campaign finance felonies as a candidate. The NYT produced extensive and compelling evidence of serial tax fraud by the Trump family. The state of NY is investigating fraud in their charities.

The House will soon begin investigation of Trump money laundering [RICO]. A case involving his violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause is under way. In other words, as massive as the Russia scandal is, it might not be the biggest Trump scandal.

It might not even be the scandal that brings Trump down. But what we know is that all of these or any of these scandals must bring him down. This criminal has no business being the White House. He has no business walking freely among us.
2019 is going to be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life except for all those that will follow it. These cases will be investigated further and then proven. Some may be prosecuted while he is in office. Some may wait until he leaves office.

But someday this is already certain, no senior American public official–not Richard Nixon, not Andrew Johnson–will go down in more disgrace or be more reviled by history than Donald Trump. And that is as it should be.”

 

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Southern Poverty Law Center: Rep. Matt Shea funding far-right hate groups

“Embattled conspiracy theorist and Washington state Republican Rep. Matt Shea has been skirting Washington state law to funnel campaign contributions to far-right nonprofit groups in Colorado and Arizona, a Hatewatch investigation reveals.”

Embattled Washington Rep. Matt Shea is skirting state law to funnel campaign funds to far-right groups

 

(Related:

Spokane GOP leader authors ‘Biblical Basis for War’ manifesto calling for end to abortion, same-sex marriage and death of enemies who disagree

FBI investigating Washington state rep. for manifesto urging ‘all males will be killed’
)

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The Nation article on the Pentagon’s massive fraud and waste

See The Nation article Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed: How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks its audit. or download and listen to this audio Inside the Pentagon: First-Ever Audit Exposes Massive Accounting Fraud.

For exampe:

[T]here were no ledger entries or receipts to back up how that $6.5 trillion supposedly was spent. Indeed, more than 16,000 records that might reveal either the source or the destination of some of that $6.5 trillion had been “removed,” the inspector general’s office reported.

“In all, at least a mind-boggling $21 trillion of Pentagon financial transactions between 1998 and 2015 could not be traced, documented, or explained, concluded Skidmore. ”

As one congressional staffer with long experience investigating Pentagon budgets, speaking on background because of the need to continue working with DoD officials, told The Nation, “We don’t know how the Pentagon’s money is being spent. We know what the total appropriated funding is for each year, but we don’t know how much of that funding gets spent on the intended programs, what things actually cost, whether payments are going to the proper accounts. If this kind of stuff were happening in the private sector, people would be fired and prosecuted.”

“The absurdly huge plugs never even get asked about at Armed Services and Budget Committee hearings. ”

I wonder what Rep. Adam Smith will do about this. He’s the incoming chair of the House Armed Services Committee.  At recent debates and town hall meetings he often mentioned the upcoming audit (and wistfully hoped it would actually happen).

Related article: America’s Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $5.9 Trillion “Not to mention 240,000 civilian deaths and 21 million displaced. And yet a congressional commission is urging yet more money for a bloated Pentagon.”

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Can Rep. Adam Smith move the needle on military spending, secrecy, and adventurism?

Starting in January, Rep. Adam Smith (WA, D, 9th CD) will be the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Adam Smith is called a progressive, and a great hope for pacifists, in this Politico article Democrats going nuclear to rein in Trump’s arms buildup. (The title they chose for the article is rather unfortunate.)

Adam Smith also wrote an article in Defense One decrying Pentagon secrecy: The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive — and It’s Hurting National Security.

Though Adam Smith is not as progressive as his opponent Sarah Smith, he is a smart, reasonable guy who “gets it” about military waste, secrecy, and adventurism.

Adam Smith is mentioned, more critically, in this Counterpunch article Will the new House Dems take on the War Lobby?. The article points out that Adam Smith received $261,450 in campaign cash from the arms industry in the 2018 election cycle.

Given the power of the Blob (military industrial complex) reining it in is a formidable task. But Smith gets it. He has been moving to the left with his district.

This is an issue where we can move the needle.  Of course, we need to do this responsibly!

I know Smith personally.  I often ask questions at his town hall meetings, and he must know about this website. I told him many times that the country needs to rein in military spending and close some of the 800 military bases in more than 70 countries. The majority of military interventions in the last 75 years have had negative outcomes for the U.S. and the world — aside from the outrageous cost in lives, suffering, and money.

Smith phoned me during the campaign to solicit my support, so this issue is something I care deeply about.  I would even consider quitting my job to work on this full time if I knew I can make progress.

BTW, Trump ran to the left of Hillary on both the economy and military affairs.

U.S. Has Spent Six Trillion Dollars on Wars That Killed Half a Million People Since 9/11, Report Says “In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” the report concluded. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

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AG Ferguson’s 15th consecutive legal victory against federal government forces FERC to hand over public records

“As a result of Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has provided hundreds of pages of communications not previously made public, including documents that show commissioners privately considered a proposal that would have subsidized coal- and nuclear-based power. FERC must pay $23,500 in attorney costs and fees to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

This is Ferguson’s 15th consecutive legal victory against the federal government since President Donald Trump took office. The state of Washington has not lost a case against the federal government since January 2017.”

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People for Climate Action

Cities Climate Action Summit:
We can do this!

People for Climate Action’s “Cities Climate Action Summit: We can do this!” was held on November 17th in Kirkland.

PCA is delighted that so many enthusiastic climate concerned members of our communities joined in the discussion on local climate action opportunities. We look forward to your engagement in our future efforts. Thank you!

Jan Keller speaks at the summit

Summit Slide Deck

The slide deck used during our Summit is available from the PCA Resources page.

A Few Useful Links

Climate Action Plans

If you want links to climate action plans from other cities, or to other organizations in the field of climate action planning, please let us know, or contact members of your local PCA group.

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State Senator Maralyn Chase’s concession speech

First of all I want to thank the many people and organizations who have supported me. I was honored by, and proud of, my record as a Democrat and representative of a growing number of people who want to see Medicare for All, the best quality public education, tax fairness, living wage jobs, equal justice with affirmative action and police accountability, affordable housing, and campaign finance reform. I am especially proud of my work to protect the Puget Sound environment, to promote clean energy technology, and mitigate the dire effects of climate change. I look forward to continuing my work with you, the public, to support these policies and principles.

I was one of the first members of the legislature to endorse Bernie Sanders’ campaign and in Tuesday’s election, we saw voters send record numbers of women to Congress who represent a powerful growing movement rising out of Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the Sanders’ campaign. These new women in Congress represent formerly marginalized groups including: Native American, African American, Muslim American, Hispanic American and LGBTQ2 American women. These electoral victories validate my positions on equity, affirmative action and access to the vote. It also validates that people can overcome their prejudices, and become stronger when they refuse to be pitted one against another by those who would profit from their division.

People need to know that this divisive, democrat on democrat campaign for state senate was driven by big money in politics and biased journalism. When people understand that Monsanto, the pro-charter school PAC, Stand for Children, and REALTOR PAC expect legislators to deliver legislation that contradicts tax fairness, that dips into our public school funds for private charter enterprises and undermines the democratic process, they may be shocked.

I want people to know that we can achieve our vision for a just, sustainable and healthy life, if the wealthiest Washingtonians would only pay even half of what they owe on their taxes. Please go to the records in the Department of Revenue 2016 Tax Exemption Study and look at the charts in the introduction and summary of findings. Then look at Chapter 17 on property tax exemptions. When the highest income earners pay minimal or no property taxes it shifts the tax burden to middle and lower income taxpayers who must then pay more taxes.

Some exemptions are for the common good, e.g. tax credits to help people put solar panels on their homes. With an extra $50B a year in tax funding, we could fund every school, fix every road, provide healthcare for all, boost small businesses that provide so many jobs, fund clean technology and jobs training, and protect the Puget Sound.

People are suffering deprivations caused by the manipulation of our government and electoral process by the wealthiest among us. They undermine our cohesion as a people, numb us to the suffering of our neighbors and cause increasing levels of hostility. Now more than ever we should be united in opposition to those people and organizations that would pit us against one another to rob us of the beautiful lives and abundant wealth our work has created.

We know what we stand for and we will continue to fight.

Maralyn Chase

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Top Eight Things You Can Do About Climate Change Right Now

Reposted from Valerie Tarico.com

climate-warriors- Marshall IslandsWhile California was approaching tinderbox conditions that erupted into catastrophic fires, an oil industry coalition led by British Petroleum was spending $30 million to persuade Washington State voters that dirty fuel producers shouldn’t have to pay a dump fee on the carbon they dump into our air. As if turning our atmosphere into a carbon dump didn’t have real costs.

If that makes you angry, if you believe that obstructing climate solutions is immoral, or if you simply feel worried by slow progress on policy and technology fixes, here are eight things you can do that add up to a meaningful difference. Some will be familiar, but others may surprise you.

  1. Partially boycott the pushers. We all are mainlining stuff that we buy from the most casually murderous drug cartel on the planet, and we’re hooked. But despite being addicts, we are not entirely helpless. Each of us has it within our power to some degree to cut back. Walk or take transit when it fits. Use Lyft line instead of Lyft. Invest in an e-bike that you can ride to nearby events on sunny days. Work from home once in a while. Master the art of video conferencing. Get creative about a near-to-home vacation.Even small fluctuations in consumption put the squeeze on Big Oil by dropping their stock price and profits. Oil lords are messing with our future; mess with theirs. (An added bonus: You’ll be giving the Saudis the finger.)
  1. Buy time. Clean energy is coming, and the trend lines are accelerating. That’s one reason corporations with in-the-ground holdings are desperate to extract and sell the stuff to us before they end up with the financial equivalent of hot potatoes: stranded assets.Whenever we delay pipes being completed, terminals being permitted, or urban routes being approved for coal and bomb trains, odds increase that coal or oil or methane will stay in the ground permanently. Slower climate change also means more time for people and other animals to adapt. Become part of the friction.
  1. Get someone to divest. You may not have much in the way of savings but someone you know does. Where do you (or your kids or grandkids) go to school and how do they invest working capital or their endowment? How about your alma maters? Who do you work for? Where are your retirement funds going? Who leads your union? Where does your church keep their reserves? How about the nonprofits you support? Have your friends and family members heard of impact investing?When individuals and institutions divest from corporations or industry sectors that are bad actors, it reduces capital in these sectors and makes it harder to borrow money for big projects that can have a long harmful lifespan. It also makes other investors—who may care about nothing but profit—more wary about risk. So, the effects can cascade. 350.org can connect you with a divestment group on your campus or in your community.
  1. Eat smarter. Conservatively, fourteen to eighteen percent of climate change is driven by animal agriculture, with cattle being the worst offenders. Cows fart even more than dads and dogs, and a billion-and-a-half cows farting in unison adds up to a planetary problem. But the methane they produce isn’t the whole story, which includes deforestation for feed, fuel used in livestock transport, slaughter and processing, and more. Rotational grazing of cattle or mixed species can improve soil health, but one clear, direct path toward climate stability is less meat consumption.Another simple way to reduce your food footprint is to waste less. The USDA says that in 2010 Americans wasted 133 billion pounds of food worth $161 billion dollars. You can help by buying ugly fruit, eating local vegetables in season, shrinking per-person food orders to caterers, ordering smaller portions in restaurants, checking the fridge before you shop, and getting creative with leftovers.

    Cellular biologists are scrambling to figure out how we can meet humanity’s growing demand for protein with lab-grown (aka clean or cultured) meat and milk, and alternative plant-based protein options are just taking off. In the last two years big players like Cargill Industries, Tyson, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and the Canadian government have made investments in protein start-ups. As a consumer, you can accelerate this transition by putting your money where your mouth is. Demand drives innovation. It may take some experimenting to figure out which options you find tasty and satisfying—Beyond Meat? Impossible Burgers? Field Roast? Just Mayo? Chocolate Almond Silk? Once you figure out what’s yummy to you, feed it to your guests as well. Future generations and other species will thank you.

  1. Rethink support for no-kill shelters. This may be a tough one, but bear with me. Companion animals bring happiness into millions of lives, and some people choose a dog or cat when they can’t afford or don’t want another child. That adds up to a lot of goodness. But the planetary cost of our devotion to feline and canine predators is substantial. If American dogs and cats made up their own country, they would come in fifth in global meat consumption. That adds up to 64 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, as much as 13.6 million cars.We may determine that the benefits outweigh the costs for many companion animals—I myself believe so—but our sympathy for dogs and cats has created a system that pushes people to adopt them regardless of the cost-benefit. It also has created a plague of feral cats—70 million in the U.S. alone—that are decimating songbird populations. If love of furry critters is top-of-the-heart for you, consider this: We raise animals in factory farms under nightmare conditions to feed these pets and former pets—pigs and chickens in cages so small they can’t turn around; cows shut away from sunlight and grass. The land and water resources required to raise feed for animals that become pet food also means that fewer wild animals are able to feed their own young—who are starving and burning to death from climate impacts.
  1. Sweat a little. Or roll up your sleeves. As summers get hotter it becomes more and more tempting to buy an air conditioner, even if you live in a place where people traditionally have kept cool in other ways like using fans, swamp coolers, misters, swimming holes, or cellars. Resist the temptation! According to drawdown.org, the refrigerants in most air conditioners have 1000 to 9000 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. And because they are most likely to leak as they age or at the time of disposal, they are problems in the making. We saved the ozone layer in the 1990s by turning to something that, from a climate standpoint, is even worse, HFCs.If you can hold out, a global treaty signed in 2016 has phase-out of HFCs beginning in 2019. Climate-friendlier options will be available. In the meantime, if your fridge needs replacing, look for one with an alternative refrigerant like ammonium or propane. To stay cool, do what your parents and grandparents did. Get a fan. Take a swim. Sleep downstairs on the hottest days. And persuade your office mates that long sleeves in the summer are fashion nonsense.
  1. Accelerate the contraceptive revolution. Human population is a straight-up multiplier in the carbon equation, but population growth is driven entirely by unintended—and often unwanted—pregnancy. State-of-the-art contraceptive technologies for women (IUDs and implants) take human error out of the equation and drive accidental pregnancy to near zero. So, this part of the problem is super solvable. But as of today, options for guys still suck. Consider: The implant has a 1-in-1000 annual pregnancy rate; for couples relying on condoms that’s 1 in 8. If you think that’s not fair, speak up about it. Demand better, and think about donating to male contraceptive development through the Population Council or Male Contraceptive Initiative.In the meantime, while we’re all depending on female-controlled methods, if you yourself have a top tier IUD or implant that you love, evangelize it to your friends. And work to make sure that less privileged women have access to the very same excellent options that you have. Thanks to advocacy by Melinda Gates, a hormonal IUD for a poor woman in a developing country costs less than $10. Planned Parenthood International can get a copper IUD to her for less than a dollar. These contraceptives have bonus health benefits and bonus economic benefits. Being able to time or limit childbearing also helps families survive climate impacts like famine and conflict.
  1. Reform democracy. Societies are most able to create a better future when the private, public, and philanthropic sectors all pull in the same direction, each doing what they do best. Better climate policies could accelerate solutions. But we all know that some electeds are more loyal to lobbyists from dinosaur industries than to we-the-people. Some couldn’t care less about climate impacts on future generations, the ultra-poor in the global south, or other species—none of whom make campaign contributions.Replacing electeds who have been bought by oil companies with representatives who act on climate is going to require that we first focus on fixing our democracy—replacing antiquated and corrupted electoral systems with modern ones that more accurately reflect the public will. Educate yourself and your friends about wonky topics like gerrymandering reform, automatic voter registration, proportional representation, multi-member districts, and ranked choice voting.

Progress on climate is being stalled by people who place short-term self interest over the common good—corporate leaders and investors willing to maximize profits even when those profits are taken from vulnerable people and future generations. But progress also stalls out when those of us who care get overwhelmed and so don’t exercise the power we have. As individuals, we can’t fix climate change, but we can slow it and shrink it, both of which matter. You or I may never know how our actions shape the future and touch other lives, but we can know that in aggregate they do.

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