There is a Russian Asset in the White House

From Peggy Backman:

 

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1002264426639490/UzpfSTEwMDAyNjI5MzQ3ODUwODoyMzQzODg1NjQxMTQyNTg/

 

It’s really quite simple.

 

Posted in DOJ, Fair elections, FBI, GOP, Judiciary, mueller probe, Russian connection, Trump, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Background Checks for all Gun Sales

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Washington has finally noticed that 97% of Americans favor passage of comprehensive background checks for all gun sales.

A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives – 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans – just introduced a universal background check bill.  H.R. 8 will close yawning loopholes and require  a background check for every gun sale, including the growing number sold online, at gun shows and through other private sales.

A companion bill introduced in the Senate (S.42) has 41 Democrats signed on!

The time is now-Washington’s inaction on gun violence has come at a shocking price.  Nearly 40,000 Americans were killed in 2017-the highest level in 50 years.

You can help by calling your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators.  Ask them to support these important bills.  If you know your Congressional representatives, you can call the Capitol switchboard at  202-224-3121.  If you need to look them up, go to http://knowwho.com.

You can also click here to find your affiliate state group and join in their work by signing on at their Website.

Together we will build safe communities, free from gun violence.  Thanks for all you do!

Kathleen Monahan, Board Chair, States United to Prevent Gun Violence

 

Comment by Judith Hope:

It would be appropriate to focus a lot of effort on getting Zeldin to vote the right way on this, don’t you think?  Including Press events. 

How to reach Lee Zeldin:

Phone: 202-225-3826, Riverhead office (631) 209-4235, Patchogue office (631) 289-1097

Twitter: @RepLeeZeldin

Email: https://zeldin.house.gov/contact/email

Posted in Guns, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Carbon Dividends: 2 New Proposals

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(1) Carbon Dividend Talking Points.

(From James Ewing)

In November 2018, three Republicans and three Democrats in the House of Representatives led by Congressman Deutch (D-FL) proposed the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (“Deutch proposal”—HR7173), the first bipartisan carbon pricing proposal in Congress in nearly a decade. A similar proposal (Flake/Coons) has been introduced in the Senate. These legislative efforts would establish a national carbon tax which would achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at a lower cost than approaches focusing on specific sectors, regions, or technologies. Proceeds from the carbon tax would be returned in equal portions, and sent in monthly payments, to all Americans with a social security number or a tax identification number, with minors receiving a half-share each. A small percentage is also be allocated to administration expenses required to run the program.

Under both proposals, low- and middle-income households would receive more in rebates than they pay in taxes, while high-income households would pay more in taxes than they receive in rebates.

The carbon tax revenues paid out to consumers would increase as the tax (staring at 15 $/ton) increases year over year. As the carbon tax rates rise households will also receive larger rebate checks. Assuming equal payments to 130 million US households, those carbon tax revenues would imply (taxable) rebates of about $600, $1,400, and $2,600 for each household in the first, fourth, and ninth years of policy implementation.

A carbon tax reduces emissions by providing financial incentives to switch to lower-carbon alternatives if doing so costs less than paying the tax. The average consumer benefits financially if their taxed carbon footprint falls below the revenue income the tax generates for them.

A carbon tax increases energy costs in proportion to the carbon content of the source of energy: impacts are most significant for energy produced with coal, then petroleum, then natural gas. Higher carbon tax rates cause larger changes in energy prices.

The two active Carbon Tax proposals (Deutch in the House and Flake Coons in the Senate) unfortunately lift regulations on taxed GHG emissions but reauthorize them if the tax is not meeting initial expectations. This may be a necessary strategy to secure bipartisan support.

A carbon tax will encourage conservation and significantly accelerate the pace of deployment of renewable energy sources like solar and wind; nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage technologies.

The long-term goal of a Carbon Tax “Revenue Neutral “ proposal is to reduce US emissions by 80 to 90 percent below 2015 levels by 2050, create a sustainable national energy model, and help guide the evolution of a zero emissions global economy.

 

(2) Carbon Tax talking points

(From James Ewing)

“A sustainable economy may not exceed ecological limits.”   – Herman Daly

The lack of price mechanism to signal the costs of economic externalities (like pollution) ignores the dangers of ecological destruction which would ultimately cause the economic system itself to collapse. How do we begin to adjust the existing system to disallow unrestrained CO2 atmospheric contamination?

There are currently two recently introduced Carbon Tax proposals working their ways through the House of Representatives and the Senate—the Deutch proposal (HR 7173) and the Flake/ Coons proposal in the Senate. The proposed legislation would establish a national carbon tax imposed primarily on producers of fossil fuels near where the fuels enter the economy. It covers nearly all carbon dioxide emissions from the US energy system. Importantly, the proposal includes a border carbon adjustment (BCA) to avoid harming the competitiveness of US industries in international markets.

The carbon tax rates start relatively low ($15/ton), and increase by $10/ton per year rising to $125/ton by 2030 (in inflation-adjusted terms @+2%/year) and potentially higher if the emissions targets stipulated in the bill are not met. The tax is attached as the products enter the market and passed on to the consumer.

To compensate the consumer the proceeds from such a “revenue neutral “ carbon tax would be returned in equal portions in monthly payments to every American with a social security number or a tax identification number, with minors receiving a half-share each.

A relatively small share of carbon tax payments would come from low- and middle-income households as they are taxed only on the carbon content included in their spending which is generally much lower than the more affluent. The bulk of the tax will fall on the upper income level households.

The carbon tax revenues paid out to consumers would increase as the tax ($/ton) increases year over year. As the carbon tax rates rise households will also receive larger rebate checks.

Assuming equal payments to 130 million US households, those carbon tax revenues would imply (taxable) rebates of about $600, $1,400, and $2,600 for each household in the first, fourth, and ninth years of policy implementation.

These “revenue neutral” tax proposals cover virtually all of the US energy system’s CO2 emissions, which account for about 90 percent of the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions. If a comparable carbon tax is adopted by the US greenhouse gas emissions would fall dramatically in the 2020s, well beyond the pace of reductions outlined by the United States in the 2015 Paris climate agreement aiming to limit global warming to below 2˚C.

A carbon tax will achieve emissions reductions by encouraging the consumer, businesses, and industry, to reduce spending on carbon intensive models, practice conservation, and stimulate innovation and gradually move us to an ideal “zero emissions” economy.

The two active CarbonTax proposals (Deutch in the House and Flake Coons in the Senate) unfortunately lift current regulations on taxed carbon emissions but will reauthorize them if the tax is not meeting initial expectations, This may be a necessary strategy to secure bipartisan support.

The carbon tax model has been recognized by a majority of analysts as the most effective means of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time benefiting the average consumer

by putting regular cash money into his pocket, not to mention addressing the very real and immediate danger of an overheating planet.

 

3) Notes on Carbon tax talking points

(From James Ewing)

There are currently two similar Carbon Tax proposals being submitted to the US Congress. The Deutch House proposal (HR7173) and the Flake/Coons proposal in the Senate, represent the first bipartisan carbon pricing proposals in Congress in nearly a decade.

The proposed legislation would establish a national carbon tax which would achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at a lower cost than approaches that focus on specific sectors, regions, or technologies.

The carbon tax is imposed primarily on producers of fossil fuels near where the fuels enter the economy and covers nearly all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the US energy system.

The proposal also include a “border carbon adjustment” requiring importers of carbon emitted goods to pay a fee and providing a rebate to exporters of the same products thus equalizing the international trade competitiveness.

The tax starts out at a relatively modest rate of $15/ton—C02 emissions—and increases by $10/ton per year rising to $125/ton by 2030 (in inflation-adjusted terms @+2%/year)

Proceeds from the carbon tax would be returned in equal portions, and sent monthly to all Americans with a social security number or a tax identification number, with minors receiving a half-share each.

The tax will fall largely on the upper-income households.

A carbon tax liability increases in proportion to the carbon content of the energy used. As low- to middle-income households generally

use less carbon energy content they will be paying less in carbon taxes overall while receiving proportionately more in tax revenue rebates. The rebates received by average low- and middle-income families should exceed their increased expenditures caused by the carbon tax.

The carbon tax revenues paid out to consumers increase as the tax ($/ton) increases year over year. As the tax rates rise households will also receive larger rebate checks to offset the cost of the tax.

Assuming equal revenue distributions to 130 million US households, carbon tax revenues would imply (taxable) rebates—cash directly to consumers—of about $600, $1,400, and $2,600 for each household in the first, fourth, and ninth years of policy implementation.

Both Carbon tax proposals unfortunately lift GHG regulations currently in place but each mandates their reauthorization under the EPA if the tax is not meeting initial expectations, a strategy which may secure bi-partisan support.

If we can muster the will and the wisdom to pass a revenue Neutral Carbon Tax, US greenhouse gas emissions would fall dramatically in the 2020s, well beyond the pace of reductions outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and would put the country on a pathway to a low carbon economy by midcentury or sooner.

The urgency to act on climate change has never been greater. That time is now, there is no later.

 

 

(4) The Counter argument

(From Bruce Colbath)

“I think any proposal that can be characterized as a tax on consumers is political suicide.  These proposals smack of the same problems that befell the tax cut proposal.  The “carbon rebate” gets paid, assuming the pro-fossil fuel regulatory agencies in charge of administering the bill don’t scuttle it, after a year of consumers paying more at the pump for gas, more for heating oil/natural gas and with Republicans reminding them of it.  I seriously doubt the extent of the benefits being claimed and would recommend withholding support until it is scored.  I looked at our expenditures and we wouldn’t get a meaningful rebate even though we drive only on weekends, use fuel/gas for heating only on weekends (we do not directly pay for utilities in NYC).  The bill will lead to fuel surcharges imposed by taxis, airlines, trucking companies, downstream utilities that do not directly discharge greenhouse gases, and any other utility that can persuade regulators to give them a break.

There is little chance of this bill passing either the House or the Senate given the demographics of the House and the Republican majority in the Senate.  Then, there is little chance Trump would sign it — he has had such a pro-fossil fuel stance since taking office that it would be a betrayal to his perceived “base” for him to sign a law that would renew the “war on coal”, something he vowed to end.

All the introduction of this bill, despite its promise, will do is undo the Democratic majority in the House in 2020; give Trump an argument that will resound with the consumers, and cement the Republican Senate majority.”

 

5) Additional Comments on Talking Points by James Ewing

(From Marc Rauch)

First, the “equal shares” method of distributing rebates is not really progressive. You explain that most LMI households will likely come out ahead based on their (assumed) relatively lower use of fossil fuels. But an argument can certainly be made for increasing the size of the rebate the lower the household income, thus targeting the rebates to where they are needed the most. If folks want to write letters advocating support of these bills, they should be aware of this issue and feel free to advocate for a more progressive rebate method.

Second, you don’t mention that the Senate bill does not eliminate regulation of emissions from power plants (stationary sources) the way the House bill does. This is critically  important not just for climate change reasons, but because regulation of CO2 generally results in reducing emissions of “criteria pollutants” (conventional air pollution) as well. This is an environmental justice issue too, because it’s often the LMI communities that are living downwind from power plants.  So there are important public health reasons and environmental justice reasons, in addition to climate change reasons, for supporting the Senate version of the bill. If people are going to write letters in support of carbon tax legislation, they should be strongly urging that the Senate version of the bill be enacted, not the House version.

 

Comment from Mary:

Thank you James,
I really appreciate being able to read this blog.  I’m hoping we will all use it in the way you state, as “talking points” when we all write letters to the editor about supporting these bills, especially the Senate bill S 3791 (see Marc’s comments about equal shares and regulations of CO2 emissions).
Yes, the bills can be tweaked, but rather than let the perfect be the enemy of the good, it is my hope we can all get behind encouraging  our friends and neighbors to call, email, write Congress, and to get a public conversation going in support of these bi-partisan bills what Robert Reich calls “the most important, #1, top of the heap solution” to jump start a national drawdown of carbon pollution.
Thank you.
Mary Morgan
Orient

 

 

Posted in climate change, Environment, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Let’s Get Real about Climate Change

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Carbon emissions rose sharply in the US in 2018.  We are now talking about a likely 3 degree global temperature rise by 2100, beyond the point of no return.  Just look at the predicted effect on major cities worldwide.  Miami will be underwater.

The US governmental report published the day after Thanksgiving 2018 promises that climate change will batter the US economy.  “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century – more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states,” the report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II, said.

This problem should now demand our attention above and beyond everything else.  It is a matter of survival, perhaps, of the human species.  It is hardly a partisan issue.

Here in the Northeast of continental USA, NASA predicts “heat waves, heavy downpours and sea level rise pose growing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised.”

I have collected a number of posts related to climate change solutions.

A great review of local effects in East Hampton NY: “Storms, flooding, pests; it’s not just a theory”

Its good to remind ourselves of the simple things we can all do!  No 9 is “Offset your carbon emissions”.  Ofcourse a carbon tax would be a significant motivator.  There will be further blog posts on this topic.

A valuable resource!

Read about 1) seeding calcium carbonate particles in our atmosphere to decrease solar heat ; 2) using electricity to regrow coral reefs; 3) a plastic-eating mutant enzyme; 4) waste-munching cockroaches; 5) a group of food startups think they have the answer: meat grown without the need to raise and slaughter an animal!

80 solutions are listed in an interesting table including (1) net cost, (2) savings and (3) atmospheric CO2 reduction.  Topping the list for CO2 reduction are refridgerators! Every refrigerator and air conditioner contains chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to enable chilling. Refrigerants, specifically CFCs and HCFCs, were once culprits in depleting the ozone layer. They have been phased out. HFCs, the primary replacement, spare the ozone layer, but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the world will phase out HFCs—starting with high-income countries in 2019. Substitutes are already on the market, including natural refrigerants such as propane and ammonium.

Posted in climate change, Environment, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I am a Tariff Man” and Credit for the Stock Market

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US stock markets fell sharply on Tuesday as investors lost faith in a trade truce between the US and China that had been negotiated by Donald Trump at last week’s G20 summit.

 

On September 8th, 2018 I wrote:

“It is astounding that Republicans, like Lee Zeldin, are claiming credit for a soaring stock market.  They will mention the tax give-away to businesses (thus increasing profits), the abolition of regulations and hard-nosed trade wars with allies and others.  A bull run based on borrowed money and a soaring national deficit seems dangerous.  Add the inflation expected from the trade war.  Accordingly, the Warren Buffett Indicator predicts a stock market crash in 2018!  Perhaps Zeldin and company, should also be credited with the crash, when it happens?”

Well guess what, it is happening!

These are the headlines all over the internet “Dow dives 600 points to below 22,000, S&P 500 enters bear marketworst Christmas Eve ever

Now Mr. Zeldin, please own up and claim the credit that is rightfully yours.  Your pal, Donald Trump, knows this is bad news.

Trump’s aides have described the president as obsessed with the stock market’s performance, which he sees as a numerical validation of his personal performance. Trump spent much of late 2017 and early 2018 cheering big gains, which he claimed were stimulated by his presidency — in particular, his moves to cut taxes and roll back regulations.”  Lee Zeldin followed his lead.

As recently as July 2018, Zeldin took credit in the Riverhead Local: “With our markets hitting historic highs, retirement and college savings accounts are as well, making it a little easier for Long Islanders who invest with the hopes of providing a better life for themselves and their families.”

He also liked to tweet about this:

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As stocks drop, Trump fears he’s losing his best argument for reelection. So should Lee!

Posted in economics, economy, stock market, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fair Elections for New York

 

New Yorkers deserve a responsive, accountable government. Voter turnout in New York is among the lowest in the nation, due in part to antiquated procedures for registration and voting that discourage participation. And our campaign finance system favors the wealthy over everyday, working New Yorkers. To tackle the crises we face in housing, living wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, climate, fair taxes, and more, we must transform a campaign finance system that advantages the interests of the few over those of the many.

The shift in power in the New York State Senate—and a Governor and an Assembly prioritizing democratic reforms—presents an unprecedented opportunity to unrig the rules, strengthen our democracy, and incentivize elected officials to represent the values of the people of the state. A broad coalition of individuals and groups across New York is coming together to ensure that an overhaul of New York’s voting and campaign finance systems is the first order of business in the 2019 New York Legislature. This Fair Elections reform package would:

  • Increase the power of small donations. It is critical we implement a small donor matching system for state elections, including District Attorneys, like the successful programs in New York City and Connecticut. This gives everyday people the means to run for office and represent their communities relying on small donations instead of large checks. After the Supreme Court allowed unlimited, secret money to flow into our elections, small donor matching funds remains the most powerful way to combat the influence of big money. By matching small dollar donations 6-to-1, we can amplify the voices of women; of people of color; of the working and middle classes; and of any and all under-represented New Yorkers in the political process. Adequate enforcement as well as robust candidate support services would ensure the matching funds program runs smoothly.
  • Limit the influence of big money. The very wealthy and corporations shouldn’t be allowed to buy elections. We can put a check on their outsize influence by closing the “LLC loophole,” which allows mega donors to funnel limitless amounts to candidates, and by reducing New York’s unusually high contribution limits, among other improvements.
  • Make it easier, not harder, to vote. Including but not limited to automatic voter registration, early voting, same day registration, online voter registration, no excuse absentee voting, new party enrollment deadlines, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, full voting access for people with disabilities, and codify into law New York’s new policy to extend voting rights to all New Yorkers with past convictions.

Fair Elections Supporters

32BJ SEIU
50 West 93 Street Tenant Association
ACT18 Indivisible
Action Potluck
Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys
ALIGN
Alliance for Quality Education
American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee
The Arena
Association of Tenants of Lincoln Towers
Bend the Arc
The Black Institute
Brennan Center for Justice
Briarcliff – Ossining Indivisible
Bronx Progressives
Buffalo Democratic Socialists of America
Campaign for New York Health
Campaign Legal Center
Capital District Democratic Socialists of America
CCoHOPE Indivisible
Central Park Gardens Tenants Association
Chinese American Planning Council
Churches United For Fair Housing
Citizen Action New York
The Civics Center
Color of Change
Common Cause New York
Communities United for Police Reform Action Fund
Community Voices Heard
Concerned Citizens For Change
Cooper Square Committee
The Creative Resistance
Crown Heights Tenants Union
CWA District 1
Democracy Initiative
Democracy Matters
Demos
Downtown Women for Change
Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance
Empire State Indivisible
Empire State Progressives
End Citizens United
Equal Citizens
Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
Every Voice
Four Freedoms Democratic Club
The Gathering for Justice
Generation Citizen NY
Grassroots Action NY
Greater NYC for Change
Housing Works, Inc.
Human Services Council
Humanists of Long Island
Indivisible Beekman
Indivisible CD19 NY
Indivisible Harlem
Indivisible Nation BK
Indivisible Scarsdale
Indivisible the Fight Is On
Indivisible We Stand Upper West Side
Indivisible Westchester
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS
Long Island Activists
Long Island Civic Engagement Table
Long Island Jobs with Justice
Long Island Network for Change
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Long Island Together
Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network
Make the Road New York
MAYDAY America
Metropolitan Council on Housing
Metro New York Health Care for All
Mid Suffolk Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Move Forward Staten Island
MoveOn.org
MPower Change
Muslims For Progress
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
New York City Loft Tenants
New York Civic Engagement Table
New York Communities for Change
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
New York Progressive Action Network
New York State Council of Churches
New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
No IDC NY
North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE)
Northeast NY Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health
Northwest Bronx Indivisible
NY19Votes
NYCAIC’s #HALTsolitary campaign
NYCD16 Indivisible
NYC Democratic Socialists of America
NYS NAACP Conference of Branches
NYS Nurses Association (NYSNA)
Our Revolution
Partnership for the Public Good
People For the American Way
The People’s Empowerment Project/Democracy Coffee
People Power Patchogue
Persist81
Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan
Progressive East End Reformers (PEER)
Progressive Power Inwood Heights
Progressive Schenectady
Progressive Turnout Project
Public Citizen
Putnam Progressives
Rally+Rise
Reinvent Albany
RepresentUs
Resist and Replace, Suffolk County
Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association
Rockland United
RWDSU
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Small Planet Institute
Solidarity Committee/Capital District
Stand Up America
St Nicks Alliance
Strong Economy For All Coalition
Suffolk Progressives
Sunrise NYC
Tenants and Neighbors
Tenants Political Action Committee
True Blue New York
Ulster People for Justice & Democracy
Union Vale Indivisible
Up2Us
Uptown Progressive Action
Washington County Progressives
We of Action New York
Westchester Citizen Therapists
Westchester for Change
Working Families Party

 

New Yorkers deserve a responsive, accountable government. Voter turnout in New York is among the lowest in the nation, due in part to antiquated procedures for registration and voting that discourage participation. And our campaign finance system favors the wealthy over everyday, working New Yorkers. To tackle the crises we face in housing, living wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, climate, fair taxes, and more, we must transform a campaign finance system that advantages the interests of the few over those of the many.

Posted in Fair elections, NYS legislature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Children of Yemen

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Credit: Giles Clarke for The New York Times

Heartbreaking story by Nikolas Kristoff in the NYT: End This Shameful War. The lead picture represents Abrar Ibrahim, a 12-year-old girl in Yemen who weighs just 28 pounds.

Right now in Yemen, there are 400,000 children under the age of 5 who are severely malnourished.  War, blockades and bureaucracy are slowing aid to the starving.

Donations for organizations that are trying to help:

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, yemen | Leave a comment