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Thread: Important Stuff - ICYMI

  1. #71
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    NOAA said 2017 was the third-warmest year on record. According to NASA data, 2017 was the second-warmest year on record. The five hottest years have occurred since 2010. Does anyone other than Donald Trump still think there is no such thing as global warming?

    2017 was the second-warmest year ever recorded -- behind only 2016
    The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010. The rise is directly attributable to human-caused greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/nasa-...-record-2018-1

  2. #72
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    The Official State of the Union Drinking Game Rules!

    How much to drink and why – whether you watch Trump's first address or you don't


    Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

    https://disq.us/url?url=https%3A%2F%...1qw&cuid=73190
    Last edited by Atypical; 01-30-2018 at 04:24 PM.

  3. #73
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    In light of the following story -- and all the firings and resignations and investigations and scandals and lawsuits -- I take special amusement in what Donald Trump said in February 19, 2016, at a rally in North Carolina: "We're going to win so much, you're going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, 'Please, Mr. President, I have a headache. Please don't win so much. This is getting terrible.' And I'm going to say, 'No, we have to make America great again.' You're gonna say, 'Please.' I'll say, 'Nope, nope. We're gonna keep winning.’

    Judge finalizes $25 million settlement for 'victims of Donald Trump's fraudulent university'

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/judge-final...ry?id=54347237

  4. #74
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    Russia wanted Trump to win the Presidential election. Russian trolls created thousands of fake social media accounts and spread pro-Trump propaganda. Russians gave money to the NRA. The NRA gave money to Trump. Trump does the NRA's bidding. It's like Joni Mitchell sang: "We go round and round and round in the circle game."

    NRA admits accepting donations from 23 Russia-linked donors since 2015

    http://www.newsweek.com/nra-admits-a...-donors-882310

  5. #75
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    GOP Tax Cut Fraud: 'It'll Pay for Itself'

    Paul Ryan got exactly what he wanted and expected—a devastating report that he can wield as a weapon to smash programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

    By Leo Gerard / AlterNet April 12, 2018

    Remember the Republicans’ claim that their tax scam slashing rates for the rich and corporations would magically pay for itself?

    Here is how that works: a rich guy walks into a Mercedes-Benz dealership, gets behind the wheel of a $112,400 GP Coupe, and drives away yelling to the salesman, “Don’t worry. It’ll pay for itself.”

    It’s nothing but a fraud.

    Well, that’s what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said this week, anyway. Without blatantly labeling the GOP tax cut as a con, the CBO did say that it would in no way, not ever pay for itself. It would, the CBO warned, dramatically raise the national budget deficit, year after year, for at least a decade.

    Republicans, the party of public hand-wringing over deficits, deliberately created this gob-smackingly huge one. Privately, Republicans are the party of glee over deficits. That’s because they use them as an excuse to slash and burn programs cherished by the vast majority of Americans such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yes, Grandma, that tax cut Republicans gave to fat cats means you’ll be eating cat food.

    The CBO said Monday that the budget deficit this year will be $804 billion, which is $139 billion more than the agency had projected the shortfall would be before the Republican-controlled Congress passed the tax cut for the rich and a massively out-of-balance budget.

    The GOP tax bill, the CBO said, would continue not paying for itself by larger and larger amounts, increasing the deficit to nearly $1 trillion next year and more than $1 trillion in 2020.

    The CBO also projected that the reduced tax income and increased deficit spending would raise interest rates. Higher rates hurt everyone trying to buy a home or pay down credit card debt. They’re also bad for the federal government.

    Because of the higher rates, the CBO says that by 2023, interest costs on the national debt will exceed what the government spends on the military. By 2028, those payments will cost more than triple the amount paid last year.

    Also, in the case of an economic downturn, high rates and high debt would make it difficult for the government to borrow to pay for an economic stimulus to turn the economy around.

    Normally, during times when the economy is healthy and unemployment is low—times like now—the government reduces deficits, in effect, saving for a rainy day.

    That’s not what this Republican Congress did. Remember, GOP congressmen, who are employed by the government, hate the government. They want to drown it in a bathtub, as their cult leader Grover Norquist advocates.

    David Stockman, who was President Ronald Reagan’s budget director, named the maneuver Republicans use to accomplish this “starve the beast,” with “the beast” being the government. Emaciating the government is simple. Cut taxes paid by the rich, which, of course, reduces government revenues. Then claim the government just doesn’t have enough money to pay for crucial benefits that tens of millions of vulnerable Americans need to survive.

    Republicans see it as a win-win. It’s a gift to their wealthy campaign donors and kick in the gut to government services.

    It’s exactly what Republicans were doing when they first cut taxes by $1.5 trillion in December then in February passed a $1.3 trillion spending plan that eliminated previous budget caps so that Congress could spend even more money that it doesn’t have over the next two years—in this case, an extra $300 billion.

    The scheme is no secret either. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan announced exactly what he was doing right around the time Republicans gave the rich and corporations all those tax cuts last year. On a radio talk show he said, “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.”

    Grandmas, heroin addicts seeking treatment and Tea Partiers with signs warning “Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare” should be wary. Congressional Republicans are now going to wrap their government hands around Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and try to squeeze the life out of them.

    Paul Ryan got exactly what he wanted and expected from the CBO this week—horrible news, a devastating report that he can wield as a weapon to smash these programs.

    Republicans knew tax cuts for the rich (including 15 wealthy Republicans on tax-writing committees who will each get a tax windfall averaging $314,000) would not “pay for themselves.” They always intended to make the elderly, the poor and the ill pay for them.

    Paul Ryan announced on Wednesday that he is retiring from the House at the end of 2018. He said the tax cuts for the rich were his key legacy. “I like to think I’ve done my part,” he said.

    He did his part to further enrich the already rich, bankrupt the American government, and push the nation’s elderly and vulnerable closer to the brink.

    Before he bows out, he’s going to try to make matters worse. He wants the House to vote on an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. If such an amendment were in place now, it would require Congress to find an extra $804 billion this year to eliminate the deficit Republicans deliberately created. The first place the GOP would go looking for that money is the Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security funds.

    Unlike legislation, though, a proposed amendment to the Constitution must be passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate before it can move on to consideration by state legislatures. So Paul Ryan’s new attempt to force Congress to kill social welfare programs will fail.

    And it should.

    When they run for office, Republicans should flat out tell their constituents, who have paid into the Social Security and Medicare funds all of their lives, that the GOP will do whatever it takes to incinerate the nation’s social safety net.

    Republicans know, however, that would mean voters would put an end to GOP lawmakers’ government-paid gravy train. And while they are willing to take the food out of the mouths of the nation’s elderly, they’re not willing to relinquish their own free lunches.

    https://www.alternet.org/economy/gop...tll-pay-itself

    ______________________________________

    I am aware of how dangerous generalizations, hyperbole and uncontrolled emotion can undermine objective argument. There is no danger of any of that when I say that conservatives have been doing what this essay outlines for decades, and, that it, and every other conservative policy, are a significant danger to the fabric of the country. This MUST end.

    If only we had an organized, efficient and effective opposition party that worked to prevent everything that is slowly destroying the best of what makes this country worth living in.

    We don't.

  6. #76
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    How has Alex Jones managed to become such an ignorant unbalanced delusional idiot in only 44 years?

    Sandy Hook parents sue InfoWars host Alex Jones for defamation
    The Guardian, Apr 17 2018 12:21 PM

    Two of the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook mass shooting are suing radio host Alex Jones and his website InfoWars for defamation after becoming the target of internet conspiracy theorists. Jones has been at the front of a small but loud group of conspiracy theorists who believe the shooting was a staged event, intended to push public opinion toward increased gun control. "Undoubtedly, there’s a cover-up, there’s actors, they’re manipulating, they’ve been caught lying," Jones said in a March 2014 broadcast.

    Mark Bankston, lead attorney in the case, said, "Our clients have been tormented for five years by Jones’ ghoulish accusations that they are actors who faked their children’s deaths as part of a fraud on the American people. Enough is enough." Neil Heslin, along with Leonard Pozner and his ex-wife Veronique De La Rosa, both families who lost six-year-old children, filed the suits early on Tuesday in Travis county, Texas, where Jones' outlet is based. Each suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

    Jones has discussed Sandy Hook numerous times since the 2012 shooting that killed 20 five- and six-year-old children in a Connecticut elementary school. In various segments, Jones and other hosts on InfoWars have accused the families of slain children of being paid actors and of lying and the media of staging coverage with green-screen video technology. Bankston contends that these claims have brought the families abuse and threats from Jones' followers and listeners, who number in the tens of millions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...nts-defamation

  7. #77
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    We all knew the GOP tax plan would mostly benefit banks, big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Now we have proof:

    Big banks saved $3.6 billion in taxes last quarter under new law

    http://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/20/big-b...r-new-law.html

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  9. #79
    Atypical is offline
    Rendevous with Oblivion

    Reports from a Sinking Society
    by Thomas Frank


    The following post is excerpted from Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society by Thomas Frank. A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and writes regularly for The Guardian. He is also the author of Listen, Liberal, Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, and What’s the Matter with Kansas?

    The First Shall Be First

    The essays collected here scan over many diverse aspects of American life, but they all aim to tell one essential story: This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn the structure beneath them is crumbling. This is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate.

    In headline terms, these essays cover the years of the Barack Obama presidency and the populist explosion that marked its end. It was a time when liberal hopes were sinking and the newly invigorated right was proceeding from triumph to triumph. When I wrote the earliest installment in the collection, Democrats still technically controlled both houses of Congress in addition to the presidency; when I finished these essays, Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office and Republicans had assumed a position of almost unprecedented power over the nation’s political system.

    For a few, these were times of great personal satisfaction. The effects of what was called the Great Recession were receding, and affluence had returned to smile once again on the tasteful and the fortunate. The lucky ones resumed their fascinating inquiries into the art of the cocktail and the science of the grandiose suburban home. For them, things transpired reassuringly as before.

    But for the many, this was a period when reassurance was in short supply. Ordinary Americans began to understand that, recovery or not, things would probably never be the same in their town or neighborhood. For them, this was a time of cascading collapse, with one trusted institution after another visibly deteriorating.

    It was a golden age of corruption. By this I do not mean that our top political leaders were on the take—they weren’t—but rather that America’s guardian class had been subverted or put to sleep. Human intellect no longer served the interests of the public; it served money—or else it ceased to serve at all. That was the theme of the era, whether the locale was Washington, D.C., or the college your kids attended, or the city desk of your rapidly shrinking local newspaper. No one was watching out for the interests of the people, and increasingly the people could see that this was the case.

    The financial crisis of 2008 engraved this pattern in the public mind. Every trusted professional group touching the mortgage industry had turned out to be corrupt: real estate appraisers had puffed the housing bubble, credit rating agencies had puffed Wall Street’s trashy securities, and of course investment bankers themselves had created the financial instruments that were designed to destroy their clients. And then, as the larger economy spiraled earthward … as millions around the world lost jobs and homes … the trusted professionals of the federal government stepped in to ensure that their brother professionals on Wall Street would suffer no ill effects. For the present generation, the bailout of the crooks would stand as the ultimate demonstration of the worthlessness of institutions, the nightmare knowledge that lurked behind every scam that was to come.

    What I describe in this volume is a vast panorama of such scams—a republic of rip-offs. Bernie Sanders, the archetypal reform figure of our time, likes to say that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” but in truth we could say that about many of the designated protectors of our health and well-being. Pharmaceutical companies, we learned, jack up prices for no reason other than because they can, because it is their federally guaranteed right to do so. The brain power of Silicon Valley, meanwhile, concentrates on the search for ingenious ways to harvest private information and build monopolies so that it, too, can gouge the world with impunity.

    The university is the ultimate source of credentialed expertise—of the idea that there are values beyond those of the market—and here, too, the rot and the corruption were unmistakable. That the traditional professoriate was doomed became obvious in these years, and also that the contemplative way of life was circling the drain as well. But even as the intellectuals went down, the universities themselves prospered in a remarkable and even unprecedented way, growing and building and driving tuition prices skyward. As these developments unfolded, legitimate higher ed was dogged by countless educational scams and even fake-educational scams, operations that would sell anyone a realistic-looking college degree for a modest sum.

    In politics, of course, the scam and the fib are as old as the earth itself. Even so, the past decade has been a time of extraordinary innovation in the field. The rise of the super PAC and the Citizens United decision drew the most attention in this regard, but what seems most striking in retrospect was the way the casual dishonesty of politics started to spill over into everyday life.

    The consolations of ideology became available to the millions, thanks to Facebook and Twitter and the political entertainers on cable news. Millions of Americans came to believe that everything was political and that therefore everything was faked; that everyone was a false accuser so why not accuse people falsely; that any complaint or objection could ultimately be confounded by some clever meme; that they or their TV heroes had discovered the made-up argument by which they could drown out that still small voice of reality. At right-wing rallies, one began to notice a gleeful denial of things that were obviously true.

    Legitimate public defenders like newspapers were simply shutting down. And as your local paper went silent, the reign of factuality seemed to crumble as well. Among newspapers that survived, meanwhile, the resident professionals often seemed to be in denial about what was happening. This was a “golden age of journalism,” they chanted, and as their little world shrank and the public grew to hate them more and more, the survivors came together in an ever tighter circle of professional unanimity, missing the obvious but agreeing with one another on the correct interpretation of an amazing variety of events.

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 06-25-2018 at 01:53 PM.

  10. #80
    Atypical is offline
    Cont'd

    Fake news flourished, of course. For every newspaper that withered away, an opportunity opened up for somebody willing to imitate what had gone before. Social media entrepreneurs prospered, as did home-grown propagandists and online scam artists. It sometimes seemed as if everyone was search-engine-optimizing something or making bogus documentaries or Photoshopping some outrageous text onto some stock photo. The Internet teemed with collators of tweets, makers of memes, content farms, traffickers in panic and stereotype, liars for hire.

    The representative figure of this new era was Andrew Breitbart, the master of a homemade right-wing Web empire, who rose from obscurity to become the bellowing scourge of the mainstream media: accusing promiscuously, denying vociferously, always shouting, always rationalizing. For him, representation was everything, reality was nothing, and politics became more and more an analogue of pro wrestling. The pseudo-event was the only game in town.

    * * *

    The United States has always been friendly to quacks and mountebanks and false accusers; that is an essential teaching of this country’s literature from the days of Mark Twain to those of Lewis Lapham. Like pumpkin pie and the bald eagle, the con game is so utterly American that it probably deserves its own series of postage stamps. But something is different today. The quacks and the mountebanks own the place, and everyone knows it. The con game is our national pastime. Everyone either is in on it or has a plan for getting in on it soon.

    What has made corruption’s reign possible is no mystery. For most Americans, the props of middle-class life—four years at college, for example—are growing expensive and moving out of reach. At the same time, the rewards showered upon society’s handful of winners have grown astronomically greater. The result is exactly what our cynical ancestors would have expected: people will do anything to be among the winners.

    And as we serve money, we find that money always wants the same thing from us: that it pushes everyone it beguiles in the same direction. Money never seems to be interested in strengthening regulatory agencies, for example, but always in subverting them, in making them miss the danger signs in coal mines and in derivatives trading and in deep-sea oil wells. You can have a shot at joining the one percent, money tells us, only if you are first committed to making the one percent stronger, to defending their piles in some new and imaginative way, to rationalizing and burnishing their glory, to exempting them from regulation or taxation and bowing down as they pass.

    What I am describing is not “sustainable,” as people in Washington like to say. It has given us a rendezvous with oblivion, not with destiny. You can’t build a civilization on rip-offs … on no-doc loans taken out in order to make scam phone calls to senior citizens … on rolled-back odometers and fancy college degrees that are worth less than they used to be and might well prove to be worthless altogether … on the presidential aspirations of a con man who mimics your way of talking but has no idea how to govern.

    And so we come to Donald Trump, the very personification of this low, dishonest age. Nearly every one of the trends described in this book culminates with him. He is an Ivy League graduate who also went into business selling degrees of his own. A dealer in tasteless palatial real estate. A one-man right-wing propaganda bureau who didn’t seem to be able to distinguish between what was true and what was false amid his constant tweetings and accusings. A character from pro wrestling and reality TV. A true-believing adherent of Breitbart’s doctrine that only media matters—indeed, a candidate whose 2016 campaign was run by the viceroy of Breitbart’s empire.

    Trump was the most virulent fake populist of them all: a “blue-collar billionaire,” as his admirers described him, a Republican who was carried to victory by his lovable habit of inventing cruel nicknames for his opponents. The legitimate media came together against him as a matter of course, tallying up his falsehoods and insults and assuring their audience that he represented the end of conservatism at long last. The country’s surviving newspapers endorsed his Democratic opponent by an unprecedented margin.

    For all that, there was still something real about Trump—or rather about the suffering of the white working-class people who attended his rallies and who made him their president during the crazy election of 2016. These were people on the receiving end of the trends I’ve described; they were living in the world dominated by the self-serving professionals who screwed things up and survived to screw things up again. Despite what the Beltway types assured them, they knew that the wars were inexcusable and the elites were corrupt and the trade deals were bad. And what others saw as Trump’s falsehoods they saw as a form of honesty, a plain-speaking directness that was refreshing in all its vulgarity. They looked not to be saved by experts but rescued from them, and Trump’s achievement was to make himself the vehicle of their hopes.

    The results were disastrous, of course, and much of what I describe in the book that follows are matters of grave import. You will notice, however, that I describe them with a certain amount of levity. I do that because that’s the only way to confront the issues of our time without sinking into debilitating gloom. “We live in a land of abounding quackeries,” wrote H. L. Mencken once upon a time, “and if we do not learn how to laugh we succumb to the melancholy disease which afflicts the race of viewers-with-alarm.”

    http://americanempireproject.com/blo...-thomas-frank/

    _____________________________________

    Thomas Frank is one of the best observers of the actual condition of the country - not sparing anyone or anything from his perceptive and objective analyses. He is required reading for those who care about truth.

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