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. 

A Super PAC Rat

Here’s a bit of news that we are not hearing much on because we have new mass shootings, new massive hurricanes, new massive climate change and the U.S. Open to worry about. It’s a little complicated, but I’ll do my best to dumb it down for all of us:

1. Brad Parscale is Trump’s campaign manager. 

2. Brad owns a company called Red State Data. Red State makes political ads.

3. Red State Data was paid $910,000 from America First Action. 

4. America First is a Trump-Pence super PAC

4. It is illegal for a Super PAC to coordinate it’s activities with a campaign.

5. Trump’s campaign illegally coordinated with Trump’s super PAC

Huh. I guess it isn’t that complicated after all.

How did Brad get caught? By Fake News CNN. See, Brad didn’t want to admit he owned the company. Then CNN  broke a story about Brad’s wife owning Red State (Her name is on all the paperwork). That made Brad nervous. Unhappy wife, unhappy life and all. So Brad had to admit he owned the company. He also admitted that he didn’t want to admit because there are no records that actually list him as the owner of Red State. 

BAD BRAD!

Hmm. No as simple as I thought, but still not complicated: Trump’s campaign manger was paid almost one million dollars by Trump’s super PAC, which is super illegal. So Brad did his best to hide his illegal activity by having the money paid to a company he owned but didn’t own on paper. This way fake news organizations like CNN would have a hard time figuring out what Brad was up to. 

Because, again, IT IS ILLEGAL FOR A CANDIDATES CAMPAIGN TO COORDINATE WITH A SUPER PAC.

See what I did there? I subtly repeated the main point of this blog to reinforce in the reader’s mind the seriousness of the crime we are discussing. Is it working? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Trivia time: What company was formed a few days after Trump announced that Brad would become his campaign manager? If you answered Red State, you win! 

Lightning Round Bonus Question: If Brad formed the company a few days after being named campaign chairman, why didn’t he put his name on any of the paperwork? 

If you guessed: because the Trump campaign was engaging in a criminal act, you win again! So much winning! Are you getting tired of winning yet?

No? You want to win some more? Okay. If you can remember what hijinks Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort did, then you win an extra ration of Xanax to be taken with tomorrow’s tweet storm.

Wait one second though. Maybe this isn’t really a situation where Trump’s campaign manager purposely set up a company to take $900,000 from Trump’s super PAC. Let’s see how Brad explains it in his series of tweets to CNN:

1. “So, legally we both own it.” 

2. ”she is on the paperwork yes.” 

3. “She is my wife and I allow her to file and be on my companies because I trust her. It depends on how you look at it. But no. It is all my company.” 

Okay. That clears up a lot, Brad. But can you give us just a bit more clarification? 

4. “I own the company solely,. “[My wife] listed it incorrectly” when she called herself a  “member.” ““She just checked the box of what she was. I’m the owner.”

See? All cleared up. Legally, Brad and his wife both own Red State. But legally she is the owner on paper. But because she’s Brad’s wife and he trusts her, he allows her file and be named as his company’s owner. But it is all Brad’s company. In fact, he is the only owner of the company and his wife just made a mistake when filing the paperwork. 

 But wait, there’s more. Brad wanted things crystal clear so:

5. “I own all my companies. My wife is member on some of them to do filings and bookkeeping. This is a disgusting trick to make a very simple thing look nefarious. Her last name is Parscale, what would that hide?”

Oh boy. When you have to fall back on the “How stupid would I have to be” defense, it’s time to run. Run, Brad, run.

So poor Brad made a few dollars by bending the rules. That’s not really terrible, is it? I mean, which one of us hasn’t at least thought about running a campaign, forming a shell company in our spouse’s name and taking $900,000 in money from a Super PAC? Is that really so bad? 

Well, yes. Yes it is. 

You see, a super PAC can spend unlimited money for its candidate. But it can’t coordinate how it spends that money with the campaign.  Brad says there is zero chance that there can be coordination between his company, which he formed a few days after being named Trump’s campaign manager, and Trump’s super PAC. 

ZERO CHANCE! CASE CLOSED.

 Why did Brad think he could get away with this? Is it because Brad is an idiot? Maybe. But it is more likely because the FEC, which is a watchdog agency, has been lazy in enforcing coordination rules. And a lazy watchdog is , well, just a dog. 

In order to enforce the law, the FEC has to have at least four sitting commissioners to take action. Guess how many commissioners sit on the FEC now? If you guessed “Three” yoou’re a genius.  

The entire swampy crime is a bit more compicated then I let on. For example, Brad had another company that was receiving lots of money from the super PAC before he formed Red State. But he started getting mean stares from his GOP friends when his skimming became obsessive. Taking $13,000 for speeches given to old republican men, for instance. So he formed Red State to help him keep getting rich and keep from getting caught. 

Disclosure: This blog post was written with a bias in favor of calling Brad a crook. It is unclear if he is actually a crook or just another slimy graft grabber. with a 3 person FEC, we may not ever get a clear answer.

One thing seems clear. Trump may not, in fact, be surrounding himself with the best people. He certainly hasn’t surrounded himself with the best campaign managers.

In a normal world…

Agree? Disagree? Comment below and let me know.

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.

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.