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FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH.

The purpose of today’s post is to clearly lay out the simple facts regarding the current impeachment inquiry. Think of this as an attempt to provide talking points for the Thanksgiving dinner table. You know, assuming there are no further bombshells dropped between now and then. 

I’ll provide 6a few links to the source materials for the post, but you all know how to use Google.  On that note, I stole a lot of this from CNN not-so-fake news.

HERE’S THE SIMPLE

Ukraine desperately wanted two things from the United States: Military aid and a meeting at the White House. The former to help Ukraine fight Putin and the latter to clothe the new Ukrainian administration in legitimacy. President Trump conditioned  both of these things on Ukraine agreeing to investigate the DNC, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company Hunter Biden worked for. This was an abuse of the power of the Office of the President. Trump used the power of his office for personal gain by soliciting foreign governments to investigate his political opponents. To put the cherry on this abuse of power cupcake, keep in mind that the president was required by law to release the military aid. His withholding was ethically, morally, and legally wrong.  It was also against our own foreign policy interest in putting a check on Putin’s attempts to expand Russia’s influence. 

FUN FACT: All of this started because Trump had his personal attorney pursue a debunked conspiracy theory that the DNC was never hacked, and in fact moved its network server to a secret location in Ukraine, because people will believe anything. In other words, Trump was looking for a way to pretend that Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election on his behalf. I don’t know why he would do that. I mean, he’s never tried to cozy up to Putin before.

Everything set forth above, has been verified in public by Trump. Even as I type this, his own people are testifying and/or confirming everything.

Whether Trump should be impeached is debatable. His abuse of power, corrupt intent and actions are not. Of course, in a world where people are still arguing that the world is flat and the moonwalk never happened… 

Anyway, here we go. 

LESS SIMPLE

In 2013, the Russian backed government of Ukraine decides not to join the European Union. Instead, it hitches its wagon to Russia. This results in massive protests in Ukraine. The protests are supported by the Obama administration.  By early 2014, the protesters succeeded in toppling the Ukraine government. It’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych  flees to Russia.  

Putin, pissed at the loss of his puppet government, invades Ukraine in March 2014. This results in the annexation of Crimea. Obama responds with strong sanctions. People die. Our allies die. At least 12,000 of them. The world turns. 

A month later Hunter Biden takes a paid position with Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company owned by Mykola Zlochevsky. This Zlochevsky guy was a member of the previous Russian backed government, and probably corrupt. Hunter Biden was willing to have a shady character sign his paycheck (then again, so was our entire White House cabinet).

In May, 2014, Petro Poroshenko is elected president of Ukraine and promises to clean up corruption and cozy back up to the EU.  That’s good news for the West. Two days later, Stranger Things is released on Netflix and nothing happens for the next 16 months. Coincidence? Maybe. 

She’s no hero, okay? I like hero’s who aren’t nose bleeders.

In September 2015, Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, criticizes Ukraine’s prosecutors for not rooting out corruption, and mentions Burisma, the company who had Hunter Biden on his board.  So we have a U.S. ambassador in the Obama administration, pressuring Ukraine to take a tough stance on corruption, including on Hunter Biden’s boss. 

Fast forward to December 2015. VP Joe Biden,  the European Union, the Ukrainian activists and everyone else who isn’t Putin, call for the firing of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. This was done AFTER Shokin had already stopped investigating Burisma. Shokin burns his “I love Joe” posters and resigns as Ukraine’s prosecutor general. Within a year Ukraine’s new prosecutor general reopens the Burisma case, finds no evidence of criminal action, and dismisses the case.  AT THIS POINT, IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS THAT THE BIDEN CONSPIRACY THEORY IS MORE NUTS THAN RED MEAT. 

Then in August, 2016, the world learns that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was a paid consultant for Ukraine’s pro-Russian president before he fled to Russia. Manafort resigns from the campaign because someone leaked a secret ledger that disclosed payments from the Russia-backed Ukraine government to Manafort. The payments form part of the criminal case in which Manafort was found guilty of tax fraud, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts. 

Shortly thereafter, the trailer for the final Game of Thrones season is released and the world loses its collective mind.

Did you know “Hordor” is Ukrainian for “witch hunt?” Hordor! Hordor! Hordor!!

Almost a year later, Trump tweets about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign,” and asks then-attorney general Jeff Sessions to investigate. Sessions just stands there like a Hordor, so Trump’s sends his BFF, Rudy Giuliani to investigate who leaked the secret ledger. Because leakers are the real problem here, right?

Giuliani’s efforts at playing State Department seem to pay off, because in December 2018, a Ukrainian court finds that two Ukrainian officials interfered in the 2016 US presidential election by releasing details of the secret ledger payments. That decision, however, is overturned by an appeals court. 

On April 21, 2019, Zelensky is elected President of Ukraine. Four days later, Joe Biden announces he is running for president, and Hunter Biden resigns from the board of Burisma.

So far, so simple!

Replacing the State Dept. with the Giuliani Dept. 

On April 29, Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, is recalled to Washington. Marie is a career foreign service officer. That’s fancy talk for “not a political hack.” While Marie is back in Washington, associates of Giuliani are trying to contact the incoming team of President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky. This is also known as “going behind the State Department’s back.”

On May first, we learn that Giuliani met repeatedly with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in New York and pushed for Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden and Burisma.  Five days later, the State Dept. announces that Marie will be leaving her post as ambassador to Ukraine. Five days after that, Giuliani steps in shit when he announces he will be going to Ukraine to meet with it’s new president. He eventually cancels this trip.

FUN FACT: On 27 February 2012 Lutsenko was sentenced to four years in jail for embezzlement and abuse of office. So Giuliani went to ask a convicted felon to start a bogus corruption investigation into the Bidens!

The Biden Conspiracy

On May 16, Yuriy Lutsenko, the Ukrainian prosecutor general, told Bloomberg News that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing in Ukraine by the Bidens. So we can all breathe easier knowing Trump will drop this and not involve a foreign power in our upcoming election. So that’s that. 

But then there’s June. Trump states that he would want to hear it if foreign governments offered him damaging information about his opponents in the 2020 presidential election.

I CONFESS!

A few weeks later Rudy Giuliani tweets that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference” in the 2016 election. Quick recap for emphasis. Trump signals that he wants damaging information on his political opponents. Then his attorney makes a veiled threat directed at Ukraine. And this all happens around the time Trump puts a hold on the military aid to Ukraine.

FORESHADOWING: THIS IS FOUR WEEKS BEFORE THE JULY 25 PHONCALL TO UKRAINE, where Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and Burisma.

Okay. Pay attention now. We’re almost there. 

HOME STRETCH

About a week before the July 25 phone call with President Zelensky, Trump tells his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a hold on millions of military aid to Ukraine. 

On July 24, Mueller testifies to Congress about the witch hunt. He doesn’t say anything that isn’t in the report but what’s in the report is pretty damning We have multiple communications/meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russians. No actual criminal conspiracy, but clearly no exoneration of criminal conduct. Mueller goes through several  instances of when Trump tried to kill the investigation. Nevertheless, Trump gets a hard on and feels invincible. Maybe he is.

The next day, Trump is on the phone with the president of Ukraine.  The Ukraine President puts a readout of the conversation on his official website: “Donald Trump is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the]image of Ukraine, and complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” 

Later, in September, the White House releases a memorandum of the phone call, not the actual transcript, that states Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump admits he did so.

On July 26, US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, and US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They don’t discuss Trump’s demands in the phone call, but after the meeting Volker and Sondland reportedly tell the Ukrainian leadership on how to “navigate” Trump’s demands of Zelensky. This is set forth in the whistleblower complaint

Hello! I donated One Million Dollars to Trump and got a job. I have no idea what I’m doing!

Two weeks later Trump announces that President Zelensky might be coming to the White House.  

“I think he’s going to make a deal with President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House. And we look forward to seeing him. He’s already been invited to the White House, and he wants to come. And I think he will. He’s a very reasonable guy. He wants to see peace in Ukraine. And I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”
A meeting with Trump would strengthen Zelensky’s position in Ukraine. As hard as it is for some to believe, a meeting with Trump can benefit foreign leaders.  

Three days later the whistleblower complaint is filed with the Inspector General. Three days after that, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon both resign. A week or so later, the whistleblower complaint is delivered to acting director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. 

 Two days later national security adviser John Bolton meets with President Zelensky in Kiev. Gatewaypundit reports that Bolton was there to purchase illegal mustache wax on the black market. This part turns out to be untrue in every sense, in that I made this part up. 

On September 1, Pence meets with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Poland. He admits discussing military aid and the issue of corruption in Ukraine.

The same day Bill Taylor, a bigwig in the US Embassy in Ukraine, texts US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker. Bill Taylor can’t believe that Trump’s decision to release US aid depends on President Zelensky agreeing to investigate the Bidens.

“Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Taylor asks.

“Call me,” Sondland writes back.

We now pause for a collective LOL.

On Sept. 2, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire misses the legal deadline to send the whistle blower complaint to congress. Why does he me miss this deadline? Because the William Barr Justice Department and White House lawyers told him to, of course. 

A week later the Intelligence Community Inspector General notifies House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of an “urgent concern” that Joseph Maguire has overruled. This is how Congress learns of the whistle blower complaint and it triggers investigations into Trump, Giuliani and others efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government interfere in the 2020 election.

 That same day, Bill Taylor expresses concern, again, to Kurt Volker and  Sondland, because the administration is withholding financial support to Ukraine “for help with a political campaign.” 

Sondland gets the message, has a scotch, has a chat with Trump and, four hours later, writes back:

“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text…”

Err…

Remember, at this point, Acting National Security Advisor Maguire has still not turned over the whistleblower complaint, as required by law. 

On Sept 11, well after all the shit has hit the fan, Trump lifts the hold on the military aid to Ukraine.  Days later, Maguire is subpoenaed to testify. He refuses. The following week, Maguire agrees to brief the House Intelligence Committee on the whistle blower complaint. Under law, that complaint should already be in the the hands of the committee. The same day, Pence is playing telephone with President Zelensky. 

On September 24, Trump tweets that he will release the memorandum of Ukranian phone call. That same day and before the release of the memorandum Pelosi announces that Congress will begin a formal impeachment inquiry. 

The next day Trump meets with President Zelensky at the U.N. and Zelensky says he wasn’t pressured. HA!

Three days later, Sec. of State Pompeo is subpoenaed. He refuses to comply. 

On Sept. 27, Kurt Volker leaves the administration. 

At this point Republicans are just getting ready to mock the democrats for suggesting that the President of the United States would ever ask a foreign power to interfere in another election. Then Trump opens his mouth. On television, he asked two foreign powers – Ukraine and China – to investigate Joe Biden. And when I say two foreign powers, I mean he told the world that it was open season on U.S. elections.

A week later Bill Taylor testifies behind closed doors that Gordon Sondland told him US military aid for Ukraine was specifically contingent on a public promise by Ukraine to conduct investigations into the 2016 US election and into Burisma. By now it is clear that Trump was withholding aid in exchange for the investigations. Latin nerds all over the world start screaming “quid pro quo!”  

The next day, about 24 Republican knuckleheads storm a secure room with cell phones, in violation of the House rules and probably the law (I’m too lazy to look that fact up), is a bull shit political stunt. 

THAT’S IT! SO SIMPLE!

Well, there’s more. But my fingers are too tired. Besides this would be more than enough in, ya know, a normal world.

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SYRIA FOR DUMMIES AND STABLE GENIUSES

The world is a complicated place. Except for the mid-east. That’s a simple place with a simple people. Most people in the mid-east eat dates, take camel driven caravans to exotic markets where they trade spices for silk and various knock-off cologne products. But sometimes a president can get confused. And then angry. Sometimes a leader of the free world throws a tantrum and lots of people end up dead. Before that happens, maybe we should all learn a little something about our Syrian friends and the rest of the middle-east. So, simply put:

The Syrian civil war wins the most murderous conflict of the the 21st century.  President Trump has been pretty clear about his views on Syria, which is that Syria is Syria’s problem. If Assad and Russia were fighting ISIS, what did we care? Wasn’t that a good thing? The President has in the past tweeted over and over, “Stay out of Syria.”  “America First.” “I don’t want to be the president of the world.”  Trump gave every indication that we were done getting involved in the muck and mire of the mid-east.  

Then a few months into his presidency, he blamed President Obama for following Trump’s own advice, and launched 59 tomahawk missiles at the airstrip that Assad used to launch a chemical attack. Then we all forgot about Syria for a while. Then someone reminded Trump about it again. So he told the world we would be withdrawing. Then Republicans told him that was a bad idea. Then he forgot about Syria again. Then he remembered and said he wanted to withdraw again. Then Sec. of Defense Jim Mattis resigned in protest over the decision. Then Trump forgot about Syria again. Finally, he remembered Sunday night and ordered our troops to leave. 

 If we leave, we leave our Kurdish allies in the lurch. Turkey will invade Northern Syria and slaughter our Kurdish friends because the Kurds are terrorists as far as Turkey is concerned. So the Kurds may look to Russia and Assad for help. Russia and Iran will gain more influence in the region. The Kurds may let the 10,000 ISIS prisoners they guard escape. That would bring ISIS back from the nearly dead.

WAIT! I thought we were going to keep this part simple? How did we get to a place where we are about to abandon allies, let other allies kill those abandoned allies, and possibly bring back ISIS from the dead? To answer that, simply, We need…

SYRIA SNAPPLE FACTS!

As of 2018

 1.  A massive drought from around 2007-2011 resulted in more than 1.5 million Syrians leaving their homes and crowding into the cities.  This resulted in skyrocketing poverty and misery. 

2. In 2011, peaceful protests in Syria broke out after 15 kids were detained and tortured for spray painting support for the Arab Spring. (Remember the Arab Spring? No? Google it).

3. Assad responded by killing hundreds of protesters. 

4. Then in July 2011, a bunch of Assad’s military guys break ranks and form the rebel alliance, a/k/a the Free Syrian Army. Their stated goal: Overthrow Assad.  The successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (did you Google “Arab Spring” yet?) gave Syrians false hope of a pro-democratic government. 

5.  pro-democracy groups weren’t the only ones who hated Assad though. There were plenty of Islamists who felt the same way. 

6. The resulting civil war resulted in, as of last year, 465,000 Syrians killed and about 12,000,000 displaced. That’s about half the country.

Simple right? 

Let’s git er done!

As of last year, things in Syria stood as follows:

 * Assad’s guys controlled most of the southwest.  

 *  ISIS: was spread out through the middle, with strongholds in Aleppo and Raqqa.  

 *  The  Kurds held northern Syria.

 *  Jabhat Fatah: A Jihadist group with Al Qaeda (remember them?) ties, held  small areas north and south of Aleppo.  

 *  Rebel Groups held areas north and south of the Syrian government.    

 *  Turkey had a bit of territory sandwiched between the Kurdish held territories.  

  *  U.S. forces  essentially hung around with the Kurds and made sure the Kurds and Turks didn’t kill each other.

Simple! Just a few more things.

 Minority religious groups support Assad.  Almost everyone fighting Assad were Sunni. Assad and his people are Alawite.  Iran and Iraq aren’t crazy about Sunnis, so they support Assad. The U.S. led coalition was there to kill ISIS. The rebels were there to Kill Assad. Assad with support from Russia, Iran, and maybe Iraq was interested in killing rebels and the Kurds. Isis was interested in killing everybody and the Turks were interested in killing the Kurds. 

 In 2015, Russia commits to bombing the rebels (who are committed to fighting Assad). For Russia, the rebels are terrorists and ISIS can wait. Of course, those rebels had U.S. support, so  we weren’t happy that Russia was killing our friends. Bad PUTIN!

To recap the recap, Russia supported Assad. We supported the Kurds and and the rebels. Turkey supported the rebels, but not the Kurds. The Kurds kept fighting ISIS but hated Turkey. 

Simple!

Oh, and then there are a lot of people who were fighting in Syria from other places.  Hezabollah (Lebenon) are fighting for Assad. Iranian and Afghan fighters are also on Assad’s side. .

The U.S. has always said “Assad bad” but has been hesitant in backing up its words.  Obama’s red line and Congress’s refusal to vote for war etc.  A reasonable person, after reading the above, might reasonably conclude that hesitancy wasn’t such a bad thing. Who knows? 

Okay, that’s the simple lay of the land, and that leads us to a very simple question:

WHAT THE FUCK DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

Well, since Trump took office, our military, with a LOT of help from our Kurdish friends, pretty much beat ISIS into the ground. Their not dead but mostly forgotten. We drove them out of Raqqa. Then Assad drove the rebels out of Aleppo. Darth Vader could not have done it better. Taking back Aleppo was Assads greatest victory in the war and he used  chemical weapons to do it. 

 While all this was happening, rebel forces frequently fought each other as they jockeyed for power and position.  Islamist groups have been gaining ground, which is bad.  Then again, everything in Syria is bad. 

Kurdish groups have been trying to establish self-government in the north. Turkey hates that.  So Erdogan keeps calling Trump and explaining why he needs us to leave so he can kill our allies. Trump has tried, and failed, to work out an agreement where Turkey agrees not to kill everyone. So instead, Trump decided that it was time to just leave and let the chips fall where they may. His own party does not seem to care for this. Even his friends are urging him to reconsider, calling the move a disaster and taking steps to check his power in this area (maybe).

It’s never a good idea to stab your allies in the back, except maybe in board games like Diplomacy. Especially when those allies are guarding 10,000 ISIS prisoners for you. 

While no one really wants to be in an endless war in Syria, we really don’t have a lot of assets on the ground there. We’ve been getting a pretty good bang for our buck and some might say a military presence of a few thousand soldiers to protect the Kurds, who have lost more than10,000 of their own in fighting for us, is a worthwhile investment. 

But when you have a president who has already solicited foreign intervention in his upcoming election and compromised national security in the process, it isn’t hard to believe he doesn’t care about this. Especially when drawing down troops around the world was a campaign promise. 

Why he is doing it now, when he needs the party behind him more than ever, is a mystery to me. 

UPDATE: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/turkey-invades-syria-turkish-president-erdogan-announces-military-operation-today-2019-10-09/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab6a&linkId=75003736

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SUFFER THE CHILDREN

Last week we learned that in a phone conversation, the President responded to the Ukrainian president’s comment that he needed military aid (particularly anti-tank missiles to defend against Putin’s current hot war in Crimea) with “I need a favor, though.” That favor turned out to be a request/demand that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden’s son and Joe Biden. And he asked for that favor eight times in that conversation. Eight times.

The president used the power of his office to solicit from a foriegn power, information he could use for his own personal gain against a political adversary.

Another way of seeing this is that the President, seeing that the Mueller investigation would not result in an impeachment inquiry, got busy seeking foriegn intervention in the 2020 election.

Sounds crazy. 

When Trump sent his personal attorney and dementia proxy, Rudy Giuliani to the Ukraine, it was initially to chase down a rumor that the DNC was never hacked by the Russians. That, in fact, the DNC hacked their own emails and hid them in a server somewhere in the Ukraine. 

Sounds crazier.

Now we are learning that Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo listened in on that call (and lied to the media about it) and that he is instructing his people not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. 

Sounds bat shit crazy.

We’ve also learned that Attorney General William Barr has spent time and your money investigating the wildest conspiracy theories and allowing the Department of Justice to become a political tool of the President.

Sounds bat shit crazier.

How is the White House responding to this? By saying Joe Biden’s forced a former Ukranian prosecutor to drop an investigation into an energy company on which his son was a board member. 

I may address the actual facts and nuances of the whistle blower complaint at a later date, although I feel it’s a story that everyone will know backwards and forwards in a week or so, if not already. But today I want to write a bit about a few things we need to remember that we’ve forgotten about the Trump family and their apparent allergic reaction to ethics. Think of this as a bit of a “Let Ye who have never sold your soul cast the first stone” rant.

Let’s take a look at the Trump little ones.

Around 100 days into Trump’s presidency, we learned the Kushner’s were selling Visas to the Chinese for $500,000 a pop.  Jared’s sister made the sales pitch:  If you invest in Kushner real estate, you have a pretty good chance of getting a Visa and being on your way to American citizenship.  Before you leap to the conclusion that this was an overt attempt to sell Visas in exchange for giving the Kushner’s money, take a look at this ad:

That’s not a joke. That is  exactly what was advertised at the Ritz Carlton where Jared’s sister made her sales pitch.

It’s worth remembering that Trump had taken a hard stance against immigration and loose work Visas.  Nicole Kushner told Chinese investors how the CEO of Kushner Failing Real Estate was now working at the White House and during a creepy Halloween-like slide show, President Trump’s Pumpkin face appeared as a “key decision maker” on the EB-5 Visa program.  

Jared and Trump’s daughter were and are part of the White House now, and it doesn’t take a rocket ethic scientist to see that Jared’s sister selling a pathway to citizenship, stinks worse than the last five Chevy Chase movies.

GOLF!

Some guy named Dodsen was golfing with Eric Trump a few years ago. The game got rained out and the Frozen DVD was too scratched up to play on the golf cart, so the two got to talking.  Dodsen asked how Eric was able to pay for the golf courses, as banks were not investing in that stuff at the time.  

Unbelievable, you say? Not any more!  Eric’s respose was “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”What he did not say was, “Here are the financials for the golf resorts.  See? No Russia here!”   

BUT WHAT ABOUT IVANKA?

Good question. When she became a senior advisor, Ivanka announced she was closing down her clothing business in Ireland because it would look bad for a President’s daughter and senior advisor to the President to be doing business in a foreign country. Don’t laugh! She did the right thing! Then, three months later Ivanka got approval for 16 new trademarks from China. Don’t cry! You didn’t expect anything less, did you?

A cynical liberal like myself might look at this and think: “Wow, Trump started a trade war and China gave his daughter trademark approval to affect the President’s decisions.” But that’s just me. 

Just last week the Chinese government awarded Ivanka’s company four new trademarks A cynical liberal like myself might wonder at the timing, since Trump has begun another round of  trade negotiations with China.

I wonder when Giuiliani will be whisking off to China to see what is going on there.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Trump’s defense against a perfect phone call where he solicited a foreign leader to provide dirt on his political opponent, seems to be that Joe Biden’s son did something illegal. He offers zero proof for the allegation, but that’s no surprise. And when it comes to ethics, Trump and his family do not seem to have a moral leg to stand on among the whole lot of them.

In a normal world…

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DON’T BE BEST. BE GRETA!

Let’s start with three simple and accurate assumptions:

1. Climate Change is an immediate existential threat to the well being of the planet and every living thing on it. 

2. The Trump administration has purposely rejected the science and embraced economy over environment.

3. The United States is refusing to take additional steps to fight Climate Change and has instead chosen to to promote the fossil fuel industry and make it easier for everyone to dirty up our water, air and earth.

That’s just the way it is right now. The Environmental Protection Agency is worse than dead. It’s undead. Lika a zombie, it seeks to destroy everything it once was. FUN FACT: Did you know that Andrew Wheeler is the head of the EPA because he formerly represented coal king Robert Murray and lobbied against the Obama administrations’ environmental regulations?

Time to meet the coal nuts!

When the President of the United States can’t sit still for twenty minutes at the Climate Action Summit that is taking place at the United Nations this week, then we should expect our presence on the world stage to be drastically diminished and for the rest of the world to distance themselves from us. 

In short, we are being left behind. We are not making America great again. We are making America small and isolated.

We are at a point in history where billions are putting their faith in a sixteen year old Swedish girl to save the planet. Well, I have breaking news:

A sixteen-year old girl is not going to save your planet. You are not living in a comic book.

You want to save what is left of this dirty blue planet? Retweeting Greta Thunberg is not enough. Hating Trump for mocking her is not enough. 

Don’t defend Greta. Be her. 

Do something. 

Right now, the United States has chosen to accelerate Climate Change rather than lead the world in finding and implementing solutions. This makes ensuring your children’s survival much harder. Think of it as if the Justice League tried to defeat Steppenwolf without Superman. That would suck.

WE CAN’T SAVE YOU. WE DON’T EVEN LIKE TO RECYCLE!

If you’re not a DC Comics fan, then think of it this way:

Is your baby’s asthma aggravated by the poor air quality? Sorry.

Can’t reach your local hospital because of flooding? Sorry.

Did your son and daughter die in a war ignited by lack of clean water? My condolences.

You get the point. Climate Change is manmade, it’s here, it’s killing us and our children, and we aren’t doing much about it.

So be Greta. Do something. Get your representatives to listen to you. Vote for people who know what they are doing and can work with our allies and our not-so-allies. Start to fix things by working to put people in your government who will, well, start to fix things.

“But what about China? Aren’t they worse,” you say?

“Yes, they are worse,” I admit. Which is why it is so important that we have people who can encourage and pressure the rest of the world, including China, into taking the necessary steps to keep us and our children alive. 

“Will there be corruption, deceit and illegal activity surrounding Climate Change initiatives,” you ask? 

“What a stupid question,” I say.” Of course there will be. You think that’s an excuse for anything?”

The first step to fighting climate change is finding people who are willing to fight it. 

In a normal world the United States would be leading this fight. We would be Superman. So, if you want to live in a normal world instead of this one, go out and make sure your voice is heard outside facebook, twitter and outside this blog.

Don’t be me.

Be Greta.

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Abuser-in-Chief

Wikipedia defines abuse of power as the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. … Abuse of power can also mean a person using the power they have for their own personal gain (emphasis added).

Today’s question: Has the president engaged in any instance of abuse of power?

The answer is maybe.

This past July President Trump repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son. According to Wall Street Journal reporting, the President urged Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on investigating Joe Biden and his one remaining surviving son.

There are several actions and alleged actions that Trump has committed which strongly suggest he has abused the power of the office for his own benefit, to the extent that our own intelligence agencies consider the President to be a national security threat. 

This week’s bombshell story boils down to this:

President Trump withheld $250 Million Dollars in military aid to the Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate one of his political enemies, a/k/a Joe Biden. At least, that is what everyone suspects is being alleged in the now famous “whistle blower” complaint. In support of this, we have the following:

1. Over the summer the Trump administration withheld $250 million in military aid to the Ukraine. The White House gave no valid reason for the delay.

2. The whistleblower’s complaint apparently centers around a phone call Trump had with the leader of Ukraine, if you believe the Washington Post and its sources. We don’t know for certain because the Director of National Intelligence won’t release the complaint to Congress, as he is legally required to under law.

3. The Inspector General vetted the complaint, found it credible and forwarded it to the DNI. The allegations in the complaint were deemed urgent.

4. The Department of Justice has told the DNI not to release the complaint to Congress, despite the DNI being legally obligated to do exactly that.

5. Reporting is out that the White House is also preventing the DNI from doing it’s legal duty.

6. Rudy Giuiliani, Trump’s personal attorney, admitted to Chris Cuomo that he went to the Ukraine to ask them to investigate Joe Biden. Giuiliani is pushing a debunked conspiracy theory that Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian leadership to dismiss a prosecutor that was investigating his son. Biden did pressure Ukraine to fire the prosecutor. Corruption in Ukraine is rampant and the prosecutor that was fired was known by the world to be corrupt. Joe Biden has pointed out that the investigation into his son had already been closed and dismissed when Biden insisted that Ukraine fire the prosecutor.

If President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, that is a clear and blatant abuse of power.

If you believe the President, this is more fake news and just another partisan attack. 

You also have to believe that Trump was concerned about corruption in the Ukraine, ostensibly the reason Guiliani went there in the first place. Given Trumps refusal to call out corruption in Russia, North Korea and other authoritarian regimes, it seems unlikely he is concerned about corruption in Ukraine. 

You would also  have to believe that Trump’s past actions are coincidental and not part of a disturbing pattern. For instance:

His meeting with Putin where he confiscated the transcribed notes is not suspicious.

His disclosure of top classified information to the Russian ambassador in the oval office was nothing more than a slip up. 

His public request to have Russia release Hillary’s emails was just a joke. 

That the WikiLeaks release of the DNC emails the day the Hollywood access tape became public was just a coincidence.

That Trumps continued use of a unsecured apple phone, even after it was reported that China was getting information about the President’s phone usage, is not a national security risk.

That Trump’s repeated public demands that his then Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, investigate Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and other political enemies (James Comey, Andrew McCabe, etc.) are not a pattern of abusing the office to attack political enemies.

These instances of potential corruption are almost impossible to ignore. Yet, there are millions and millions and millions of U.S. citizens who are doing the impossible.

This latest bribery /extortion charge involving Trump and the Ukraine isn’t going away any time soon. If it turns out to be true, the Republicans and Democrats will be unified in their outrage, demand the president’s resignation and immediately start the impeachment process…

in a normal world. 

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WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…

America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is complicated and I’m a simple man. So I’d like to know what the cost is of embracing an ally nation that:

1. Murders journalists on foreign soil.

2. Is the biggest exporter of Islamic terrorism in the world.

3. Hasn’t exactly embraced #metoo.

4. Gave us Bin Laden and 9/11.

5. Just three years ago beheaded 47 people, including leaders of peaceful protests. 

6. Is currently engaged in a war with Yemen, using American weapons and killing thousands of civilians (not exactly winning the hearts and minds). 

7. According to leaked diplomatic cables, actively supports individuals who are the chief source of funding for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups. 

8. And, as of today, is very close to pulling the U.S. into a hot war with Iran, albeit with the tacit approval of our administration. 

No one can credibly dispute that the United States has shed a lot of blood on behalf and because of Saudi Arabia. And while I’m no expert on Mideast politics, I’m guessing the U.S. and business has made a lot of money thanks to the cozy and toxic relationship with Royal family there. I’m not saying that is all bad. I just think it’s important to know exactly how much shit we are swallowing along with the sweet taste of petrol dollars. 

The case of Saudi Arabia highlights the difficulty of fighting a war on terrorism while at the same time actively supporting it. 

Within it’s own borders, The Saudi monarchy is brutal, repressive and viciously anti-democratic.  ISIS has a well earned reputation for stoning people to death, cutting throats, cutting off hands and brutally oppressing women. If you are wondering how you can tell the difference between an ISIS leader and a Saudi Monarch, see if the person is holding a U.S. President’s hand. 

FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT.

The Saudi Kingdom supports violent religious extremism. You know, the stuff that our current president campaigned on eradicating. Promises made, promises kept? No. Trump will look the other way, just as his predecessors have done, because there is an argument for having a strong ally in the Middle East. Hell, it’s great. We get to park our toys there, and keep Iran in check (more or less). 

FUN FACT: Iraq used to keep Iran in check until we weakened Iraq in the Gulf war because we pretended Iraq was pursuing a nuclear arms strategy. Well, lesson learned. We won’t make that mistake again!

At the same time, however, we need to remember that Saudi Arabia and its religious clergy are inseparable. And when they aren’t thinking about the benefits of manscaping, the religious authorities spend their time defending and spreading Wahhabism. And as I once famously am about to say, Wahhabism is the special sauce in the ISIS falafel. We will never eradicate ISIS as long as we funnel money and political capital to the nation that exports the brand of extreme violence that ISIS thrives on.

As Above, so below!

FUN FACT: Trump’s immigration ban did not include Saudi Arabia!

So, to borrow a September catch phrase, Never Forget that we are a nation of hypocrites when it comes to terrorism. We denounce it. We fight it. And we support it. As does much of the West, including France and the United Kingdom. So when we lose a few towers, or a 130 people in bombing attacks in Paris, we should acknowledge that it is just part of the built in cost of doing business with Saudi Arabia. 

Now, in a normal world….

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FED UP! (No, wait. DOWN!)

As I am sure you know, President Trump is engaged in a constant twitter attack against Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Fed. The unprecedented, unethical and ridiculous public tirade boils down to this: The Fed is destroying the economy by refusing to lower interest rates to zero or less than zero. 

Presidents often are at odds with the Fed. They generally want the Fed to do something that benefits the economy immediately so that they can take credit for it. When the Fed lowers interest rates, it makes borrowing money easier because it’s cheaper to pay back the loan. When borrowing money is easier, businesses are more likely to borrow money and invest capital and this turns up the economic heat. To much heat equal inflation. If the Fed is nervous about inflation, it increases interest rates, which makes borrowing more expensive and results in less capital investment and less cash getting in people’s hand . 

The Fed is basically the groundskeeper and the economy is the basement boiler with a sticky release valve in the Shining (the book, not the movie). When the boiler pressure is too high, the Fed steps in and releases steam by raising rates. When the boiler is too cold, the Fed adds coal (lowers interest rates) to heat things up.

Trump argues that the Fed needs to heat things up. He’s probably wrong, but at least it’s an argument that isn’t bat shit crazy. 

What is bat shit crazy are Trump’s constant tweets on blaming the Chairman Powell for the fact that the economy isn’t doing as well as he wants. The whole point of the Fed (well, a major point anyway) is that it operates independently from presidential whims. It does what it feels is best for the economy based on a bunch of economic indicators such as:

1. Google them yourself. 

What is REALLY bat shit crazy, is that Trump refused to divest himself from his business interests and refused to put his assets in a blind trust. Trump continues to to profit from the Office of the President. Some people are worried that Trump is attacking the Fed for personal reasons. In fact, you would have top be bat shit crazy if you didn’t wonder about that and here’s why:

Based on Trumps financial statements , as of June 2017, his businesses owe at least $315 million to lenders. That’s at least. And it assumes Trump hasn’t committed fraud on his financial statements. 

So, if Trump owes $315 million in outstanding loans, and the Fed lowers interest rates, guess what happens? If you guessed that your credit card interest rates go down, you might be right, but I wouldn’t count on it. But if you guessed that Trump will save millions in loan payments you’d be right! Lower interest rates from the Fed translate into lower interest rates on Trump’s existing debt. 

Trump’s presidency is clearly an exercise in self interest. Just yesterday he tweeted about some dipshit award one of his hotels or golf courses (I can’t be bothered to dig up the tweet) won. 

Oh wait, I can be bothered.

Do I know if Trump is trying to slut shame Chairman Powell into lowering rates so the president can save millions? I don’t. But in a normal world, I wouldn’t even have to question it.

In a normal world…

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And Everyone Except Mexico Will Pay For It.

Trump declared the Southern Border to be a national emergency months ago. He did this to give him the power to spend money on a wall that Congress told him he couldn’t spend money on. This week, the president got his wish. The Pentagon is shelving 3.6 Billion dollars in military projects and will be using that money to repair existing barriers and to finally start building Trump’s wall. The DoD says this will buy about 171 miles of repaired and new fencing .

So, that’s what the tax payers are getting – a bit of wall and wall repairs that most experts say won’t do much to keep immigrants out and certainly won’t do much to deter the multi-billion dollar drug trade, which is largely smuggled through legal ports of entry.

Now let’s see what we’re giving up. The are 127 projects that this money was originally going to fund. Let’s look at a few.

Puerto Rico is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, lose here. Still reeling from the effects of hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico will lose $400 Million in military spending, including a power substation and a National Guard readiness center.  That’s a shame, because given Puerto Rico’s determination to get in the way of hurricanes and such, it can definitely use a power station and a National Guard readiness center. But diverting and delaying these funds also kills off a lot of potential jobs for the Islanders. So, while Mexico won’t pay for the wall, we have the next best thing – Puerto Ricans.

PEURTO RICO – IT’S THE NEXT BEST THING TO SCREWING MEXICO! 

Meanwhile, back at the states:

1. Alabama is losing about $5 Million. MAGA

2. Arizona is taking a $3 Million dollar hit. MAGA

3. Florida, 17 Million. MAGA

4. Alaska 94 Million. MAGA

5. Indiana $24 Million. MAGA

6. Kentucky $62 Million. MAGA

And on and on and on. You can download the pdf of all the military’s greatest hits here

Does this shift in funds hurt our military? Does it strengthen or weaken national security? And will each state’s politicians pay a price for keeping silent, if they do keep silent? For example, Trump just cost the people of Kentucky a lot of money. That should worry #MoscowMitch and #PettyPaul. (If you can think of a better nickname for Rand Paul, post it in the comments below. Whoever comes up with the best nickname wins the glowing satisfaction of a job well done).

Trump’s obsession with a wall is doing real damage to the pocketbooks of the states that handed him the election. In exchange, we all get to pay a heavy price for the questionable benefit of extending the barrier on the southern border. 

But maybe those funds ARE better spent on a fence instead of the military. Our commander-in-chief has made it clear that we are no longer interested in projecting force or being the world’s police. So why do we need such a large military for? If we really are giving up on the policies that made us an economic giant on the world stage, why do we need the world’s largest military to protect our reduced security interests?

What do you think, Kentucky? Are you willing to take one for the team? MAGA! Don’t forget to drop Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul a note to express how happy you are about losing all that cheddar. 

Most politicians would fight tooth and nail to keep this kind of money in their state. You know, in a normal world.

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TRUMP APPEAL – IT’S NOT JUST A RUSSIAN HOAX

Trump wants to invite Russia to the G7 next year. I mean, he really wants this to happen. Apparently, he got into a bit of a shouting match with our allies behind closed doors. No one is really sure why he wants this. His strange obsession with pleasing Putin makes no sense, if you don’t believe Russia helped him win an election or that he has a financial interest in helping Putin, or that he is being blackmailed by the Kremlin. 

Russia was kicked out of the G8 by the rest of the G7. It was not a unilateral Obama decision, as Trump states. That’s a lie. They weren’t kicked out because Obama “dropped the ball.” The were kicked out for invading and annexing Crimea from the Ukraine. And for shooting down a commercial airliner. Those are pretty good reasons to get kicked out of the big boy club. Somehow, our current president believes he can blame Obama for that. 

He blames Obama for being weak on Russia and in the same breath he advocates on Russia’s behalf. I want to repeat that in all caps.

HE BLAMES OBAMA FOR BEING WEAK ON RUSSIA AND IN THE SAME BREATH HE ADVOCATES ON RUSSIA’S BEHALF.

I want to repeat that again, in bigger letters, but I won’t 

Anyway, Putin stole a country, blew up an airliner and lost his seat at the G8. Now Trump is demanding he be welcomed back despite that:

 1. We know they interfered in the 2016 election. We know because all our intelligence agencies, our military commanders have said so.

2. Russia is doing it again. 

3. Russia still occupies Crimea and remains subject to sanctions.  Let’s put aside Trump’s dementia for the moment. 

 I won’t play the “What if Obama” game. But what if Obama behaved this way? Or what if Obama woke up every morning and tweeted about the free press being the enemy of the people? We all know the GOP would be losing their shit, instead of swallowing their tongues.  If Obama, for instance, paid a white porn star hush money in violation of campaign finance law, the GOP would drag the first family out of the White House before breakfast.

 And if Obama had done any of the criminal acts that Trump has done, even one, I would not blame them for impeaching him. 

 But this blatant hypocrisy does not  explain why the GOP has chosen to commit suicide  by Trump, and it doesn’t explain  how we ended up with an uneducated criminal leading our country and using presidential powers purely for his family’s self interest.  

 Here is my explanation on how Trump’s election was self-induced suicide by the GOP.

 Republican politicians know their ideas are terrible and would only harm their own base. They never had any intention of reducing the size of government or addressing deficit spending, or gutting entitlement programs.  Because the truth is  voters love big government programs. They want universal health care. They want their Medicare and food stamps  etc. Republican voters want these “perks”  as much as the rest of the country does.  The GOP has not believed in it’s own agenda for years.  But, even though the people want all these programs, they want something even more – for politicians to deliver on their promises, even the bad ones. 

For years we have watched the GOP promise, promise, promise and never deliver, deliver, deliver.  They don’t deliver on the promise of small government, because they know the voters won’t stand for it. Small Government means no help with health insurance or getting food on the table if you can’t afford it.  The Republican party sells a dream of strong, independent frontier, bootstrap philosophy that sounds good on paper only.  

 This is not 1890, where there is a frontier and limitless opportunity for anyone with an ax and determination.  You need a lot more to make it in the 21st century and you will almost definitely need the government to help you get there.

 Still, the GOP voter sees their politicians making the same promises over and over and never actually implementing them (because they know the voters would hate it). Instead the party keeps promising a pipe dream and then breaking it’s word. 

 Republican voters got pissed. Even though they would be worse off if the GOP delivered on their promises of destroying entitlement programs etc., they voted for an idiot with a flamethrower that made shitty promises because they believed he was stupid enough to keep them.

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TRUMP’S WALL IS ENCOURAGING CRIME – By Trump

President Trump made a lot of promises on his way to the White House, but none is more memorable than his promise to build a great big beautiful wall and to have Mexico pay for it. Like virtually everything Trump promises (would you care to washi done that bit of gristly Trump steak with some Trump water before rushing off to graduate from Trump U.?), it remains a pipe dream. A verbal con. As far as Mexico goes, he’s abandoned any pretense of sending them the bill. So who’s going to pay for the wall? We are.

Or we would if the wall was actually being built, which it is not. Despite the President insisting that the wall is being built, and being built rapidly, there hasn’t been one mile of new wall built to ddat. Assuming our president was still teathered to reality, the only thing he could brag about would be the repair and maintence of a few dozen miles of existing wall/fencing. And even that brag would have to come with the caveat that much of that maintenance was done under direction of the Obama administration.

I knowthis is all old news. I also know it’s easy to forget old news among the daily scandals that blossom under our chief swamp drainer. But it’s worth remembering:

  1. You and I are paying for any wall that may someday, somehow, be built.
  2. No wall has been built.
  3. Until two days ago, these two facts were not a crime

Two days ago, the Washington Post broke the story that should, but probably won’t, result in impeachment proceedings. The story is simple, direct and damning. The president, frustrated that he could not legally get his wall built, directed aids to take land away from property owners on the border, to do it even if the law prohibited it, and that if they got into trouble (i.e., arrested), he would pardon them.

The President of the United States asked his people to commit crimes against citizens with a promise that they could do so with impunity.

It probaby is not the worst thing he’s done. But it is the most easily understood crime that he has engaged in to date. It may be difficult to explain how the President obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. That story requires people to pay attention to a lot of details and to understand why that criminal behavior is anything to worry about, since the Mueller report did not find a conspiracy between the President and the Russian goverment. Even the fact that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election and will do the same in 2020 is a bit nebulous for most people to understand. Did they just make facebook posts? Isn’t Michael Cohen a liar? Who is Paul Manarfort again?

But this is different. This is a one liner that everyone will be talking about: The president promised pardons for anyone who would break the law in order to get his wall up and running.

Nixon told his people to break into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and steal documents. Trump told his people to steal land from U.S. citizens.

  1. The president of the United States solicited criminal behavior and promised pardons.
  2. The president of the United States engaged in an attempt to illegally take property from landlowners along the southern border.

That’s it.In a normal world, that’s enough to arrest someone – or at least impeach them for abuse of power and criminal conduct. In a normal world.

An Impeachment Hymn

Revising a poem/prayer we read on Passover:

It would Have Been Enough.

f President Trump had only asked Russia to release the Clinton emails they had hacked… Dayenu

If President Trump had only asked Comey to stop investigating Russian interference in our election… Dayenu

If President Trump had only compromised Israeli intelligence in the oval office with the Russian ambassador … Dayenu

If President Trump had only been recorded telling Russia. officials that there interference did not concern him… Dayenu

If President Trump had only stood next to Putin and criticized our intelligence agencies… Dayenu

If President Trump had only been the first President to brag to the Russians that he fired the FBI director… Dayenu

If President Trump had only ignored all our intelligence agencies when they warned him about Russian interference in our elections… Dayenu

If President Trump had only withheld military assistance Ukraine needed to oppose Russia… Dayenu

If President Trump had only wasted our resources chasing down a debunked conspiracy that the DNC secretly hid its emails on a Ukranian server… Dayenu

If President Trump has only abused the power of his office by asking a foreign power to go after his political enemies… Dayenu

For all of these high crimes and misdemeanors we ask President Trump- the most corrupt president in American history, to resign. 😲😲😲😲

Shana Tova

BRAZIL NUTS

 My goal is to address a Climate Change Issue every Tuesday. I hope I can shed a little light here and there. If you find my posts informative or enjoyable, please subscribe to the blog. It’s an ego thing.

So, let’s talk Brazil. 

Jair Bolsonaro is Brazil’s current president. J.B. is right wing and a member of the Socialist Liberal party, and no, there is nothing liberal about the Socialist Liberal party. Think of him as a Trump with a sexy accent. He’s one of the right wing authoritarian types that our president appears to favor over most, if not all, of our European allies. 

Some highlights on J.B. :

1. He is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and homosexuality, abortion, and affirmative action.

2. He hates secularism, thank God (just kidding atheist snowflakes).

3. He favors close relation with the U.S. and Israel.

4. He’s pro-market, meaning less government regulation and more business freedom. 

5. He’s a far-right populist.  

Here’s a fun fact that I think some people don’t know: Populism is a political attempt to appeal to your average Jane and Joe who don’t feel like those elite politicians are addressing their concerns. For 10 bonus points, name the leader of a democratic power who recently got elected by ordinary Jane’s and Joe’s who thought their concerns were being ignored by the elite. 

Brazil has been a democracy for almost 35 years. Yay! Before that, it was a military dictatorship. Boo! President J.B. has a record of admiring the military dictatorship over the democracy. He routinely praises other military dictatorships in Latin American countries. 

For 20 bonus points, name another leader of a democratic nation that admires military dictatorships.

To be fair, as president, J.B. says we should stop criticizing military dictatorships and start praising democracies. Good for J.B.

That’s who’s running Brazil at the moment. Now, let’s talk about the Amazon jungle and the manmade fires.

The Amazon jungle/forest/whatever is said to supply 20% of the world’s oxygen. Some people may disagree with this statement. (For example, trees give off carbon dixoide as well as oxygen, so what’s the net contribution). What everyone can agree on is that the Amazon acts as a massive safe deposit box for carbon. The trees trap a shitload of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. For example, when you burn one tree in the Amazon, you are releasing carbon into the atmosphere. And not just carbon, but a lot of carbon, comparatively speaking. Compared to what? Great question and I’m glad you asked. (As every politician who has ever appeared in a town hall has said at least 7 times an hour). The rainforest absorbs almost three times the amount of carbon as as other forests. So, thank God for the Amazon jungle. It’s a shame we’re burning it down.

The Amazon has been on fire for more than a month now. The amount of fires in the Amazon this year is up 85% from last year. While you are reading this, there have been around 80,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon to date. As I write this post there are around 2,500 active fires. Smoke has covered half of Brazil, and Brazil is a big place. Picture the biggest Walmart you’ve ever seen, now double it. Brazil is even bigger!

Those fires kill indigenous people, burn their villages to the ground, and kill and threaten thousands of animal species. AND they release a shitload of carbon into the air. If you’ve read a news article or two in the last five years, you know that carbon released into the atmosphere acts like a blanket covering the earth. Heat from the sun pummels the earth by day, and then at night, the earth releases the heat back into the atmosphere where much of it disappears into space. Think of heating a rock in a fire. The rock heats up. When the fire goes out the rock releases heat into the atmosphere until it is cool. Good analogy right? I know! Now, because of man made carbon, generated by fossil fuels and, you know burning down rainforests, the heat doesn’t get to disappear in the atmosphere and the soothing cold void of space. Instead, it gets reflected back down to the earth. Now the earth is heating by day and when the sun goes down, much of the earth’s heat stays where it is instead of going where it’s supposed to go. The end result is people making Jiffy Pop on their car hoods, seas rising from ice melt and warm water expansion, changes in the gulf stream which lead to drastic changes in weather patterns and all sorts of nasty stuff.

It’s like the circle of life, except for the life part. As the number of fires increase, greenhouse gas emissions increase. This makes the planet you live on hotter.  When the planet gets hotter, you see things like major droughts more often. Droughts make things dry. Dry things burn and we get better and bigger fires. You see Simba, the fire burns the trees. The Trees release the carbon, The atmosphere gets hotter. The heat makes more fires, and we cook in the fire.   

All this is my way of confirming that burning down the Amazon is a bad idea, if you think rising seas and drastic and unpredictable weather patterns are a bad idea. 

So, who thinks starting forest fires is a good idea? Farmers and President J.B. Farmers and ranchers start the fires to make room for farming and ranching. Boo! These practices are supported by J.B. Remember that free market attitude of his? That means what’s good for business is good for Brazil. And business mistakenly believes that burning down the Amazon is good.

By the way, the only reason we’re talking about the month long spike in fires is because of social media hashtaging the entire disaster and making millions and millions of people aware of this tragedy. So thank’s #hashtagsrock!

The good news is that there are ways the world can pressure Brazil to behave more responsibly, environmental wise. World leaders can boycott Brazilian beef, for example. Or at least openly condemn JB’s tacit approval on the firestorms of 2019. The leader of the free world, for example, could call on Brazil to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, that leader happens to be Trump. And he is not speaking out against JB’s policy of slash and burn with either a carrot or a stick. In fact, Trump has done just the opposite. He just tweeted that the U.S. had reached a deal to sell Brazil corn that they will convert to ethanol. (Corn ethanol is a bad idea, but that’s a story for another blog). While a few countries have called for boycotts against Brazil, the leader of the free world is more interested in entering into a bi-lateral trade agreement with Brazil. 

The effect of such a deal is uncertain for our farmers. We’ll have to see if it even comes close to setting off the pain of tariffs against our produce from China. What it does do, is give Brazil comfort in knowing that if a few countries boycott trade, it can always turn to the U.S. to take up the slack. JB doesn’t have to worry about Finland saying no to Brazilian Beef if the U.S. is saying yes. And that is what we are doing. We are therefore complicit in encouraging the burning of the Amazon. 

This is disappointing but not surprising. Trump has a hard-on for dismantling trading blocs like the EU and engaging in bilateral trade agreements with individual nations. That’s why, for example Boris Johnson over in the UK is willing to dress up like Trump and even wear the wig. He knows Brexit is going to create a shitstorm for the UK and that a trade deal with the U.S. will help take the sting out of losing the trade deals with the EU. (The problem is that Trump will never be able to deliver on any such trade agreement that will require House approval).

Despite Trump’s delusional claim that he is an environmentalist, it’s undisputed that he has pulled out of the Paris Climate Treaty, severely weakened the power of the EPA, removed many restrictions on the use of poisons, polluting our waterways and protections of public lands. He is on record stating Climate Change is a Chinese Hoax and he has privately floated the idea of using nuclear weapons to contain hurricanes. 

At this point in time, when we can all see that the effects of Climate Change are here, and the need to address said effects, we have a president who pretends nothing is happening. 

In a normal world.