Saturday Report 10/21/23 - If only the framers of the constitution had a thesaurus - then Trump couldn't run as prez...
The Best of the Rest of the News
— How many American will face “climate gentrification” and what will be done? During the seven years that Louise and I (and three cats and a dog) lived on our 46-foot boat (the Freedom) in the main Washington, DC waterfront marina, we saw a dramatic transformation of the area. It was mostly housing for the poor when we moved in; by the time we left it had been nearly completely gentrified because a developer group had moved in and re-done the waterfront. That was a case of gentrification for the most common reason: to make money by upgrading an otherwise-desirable place to attract more upscale residents. But Miami — along with coastal cities all across America and around the world — is facing a different type of gentrification: it’s being forced by climate change. Little Haiti, a largely poor and Black neighborhood of Miami, is ten feet above sea level and thus much more immune to the rising water that’s already causing regular tidal flooding all over the rest of the city. As a result, the developers are moving in and buying up property to upgrade and re-sell or rent to higher-income people looking to escape the flooding. As is so often the case, poor people are getting screwed while wealthy people are adapting to the changes we’re seeing up to this point. With more than a million Miami-Dade residents living in what will soon be monthly flood zones, though, what’s now a process that’s just beginning will probably turn into a free-for-all over the next decade in nearly every coastal city in the world. Climate change is just starting to really bite us: it’s going to get a lot worse over the next decade or two.
— Why the GOP Can’t Unite: Is it because Trump is like the Don Corleone of the Republican Party and still in control? Donald Trump has broken the GOP. Along with other fascist and extremist billionaires and the talk radio and TV hosts they employ, Trump has transformed the base of the party into something that resembles the Brownshirt movement of 1930s Germany with a vigorous embrace of racism, bigotry, and violence as performance art. That hard-right base has largely rejected the Reagan/Romney old guard of the party, although there are still millions of registered Republicans and hundreds of Republican politicians nationwide who haven’t yet surrendered to the Trump/neofascist ideologues. While the Democratic Party has been actively abandoning its neoliberal Clinton wing and gone all in on the Bernie/Biden progressive policies that have helped America recover from Trump’s botched pandemic response, the GOP is experiencing an existential identity crisis. Will they go back to simply being the shills for big business and the morbidly rich, as they’ve been since the 1920s? Or will the Party finally purge itself of the remnants of the Romney moderates and go all in on oligarchy and fascism? While it looks right now like it’s heading toward that latter outcome, I believe the failure of Jim Jordan’s effort to seize the speaker’s seat is a sign that the power of the MAGA wing is fading. On the other hand, a recent poll shows 31 percent of Republicans are willing to explore an “alternative form of government,” which should give us all pause. The work now is for all of us who know people who’ve been sucked into the MAGA cult to do our best to de-program them. As Jen Senko — who wrote The Brainwashing of My Dad — discovered, the best way to pull that job off is to get them to stop watching Fox or other hard-right media and expose them instead to the fact-based world. For people with elderly parents or relatives who’re falling deeper and deeper into the cult, multiple callers to my show have testified they got great results by using the child-lock settings on their TV to make Fox and other rightwing channels unavailable. Whatever it takes, it’s worth it: Jen found that when her father lost Fox for a few weeks he stopped being upset and angry and turned back into the kind and loving man she’d grown up with.
— If only the framers of the Constitution had had a thesaurus, then Trump couldn't run for president. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a lawsuit in Colorado to keep Trump off the ballot next fall based on the 14th Amendment’s prohibition on people running or holding office who have “engaged in insurrection against the United States” or “given aid and comfort” to those who did so. Trump tried to get the lawsuit thrown out of court by claiming that, as president, he didn’t have to “support” the Constitution because the presidential oath in the Constitution only says he must “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution. The Colorado judge in the case was having none of it, and the trial is now scheduled to start on the last week of this month.
— Wisconsin Republicans hold hostage pay raises for university staff unless they end diversity programs: the GOP is saying, “If you not racist, we won’t pay you.” Seriously. This is how much Republicans hate the idea of universities encouraging diversity and understanding between the races and religions of the world. Similar scenarios are playing out in multiple Red states as their governors imitate Ron DeSantis in gutting state-supported colleges and universities while replacing their faculty with hard-right ideologues. The tragedy is the damage they’re doing to both the quality of education in Red states as well as hurting the reputations of the schools they’re forcing to abandon diversity programs.
— Here comes net neutrality! When you make a phone call, your phone company can’t listen in because of what are called “common carrier” laws that guarantee your privacy. They can’t record your conversations, sell your call details, or charge you different prices depending on who you’re talking to. It used to be that way with the Internet, too, until Donald Trump put Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai in charge of the FCC and he ended what’s called Net Neutrality by moving the internet out from under the common carrier provisions of the FCC code. As a result, every page you visit, every keystroke you type, and every picture you view is now most likely being recorded by your internet service provider and sold in massive billion-dollar data markets, as I outline in The Hidden History of Big Brother in America. This form of snooping on us all is generating billions in profits every year for ISPs, search engines, and email providers so don’t expect this change to happen easily: soon you’ll be seeing ads on TV from the industry warning us all about the FCC “overreaching,” etc., in their efforts to restore our privacy to us. But if we want a return of our basic right of privacy on the web, support the “open internet” initiative of the Biden administration’s FCC.
— What will be the impact of Mortgage rates hitting 8%? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage just hit 8 percent for the first time since 2000 and, as expected, it’s slowing down the real estate market. Jerome Powell is hoping this will dampen the economy or even produce a recession to cut inflation (and help the GOP in 2024; Powell’s a lifelong Republican and a commercial bankster), but IMHO the main effect is going to be a further reduction of housing available for purchase leading to higher rents and more homelessness. The dynamic that will drive that is the simple reality that when interest rates go up, housing prices go down because most home-buyers are basing “how much house” they can buy on the monthly payments, which incorporate interest. A $400,000 house with a 20% down payment on a 30-year note right now costs about $1000 a month more than it would have 3 years ago, for example. This then drives down home prices which makes them a screaming bargain for people who can buy with cash. And that’s mostly the wealthy, a fraction of the boomers, but, most importantly, all those institutional investors who are buying literally thousands of American single-family homes every week all across the nation. From foreign investors to Wall Street, single-family homes are the hot new investment and pushing home prices down like this by raising interest rates will only juice the institutional investor’s buying spree. This is not good for America: we need laws limiting how many single-family homes a corporation or private investor (including foreign investors) can own at one time.
— Geeky Science! ADHD: Can You Overcome Procrastination? One of the biggest problems for people with ADHD — and many without — is understanding and organizing time. In my latest post to HunterInAFarmersWorld.com, I lay out a simple NLP exercise that helps you get control of your timeline and overcome procrastination. Check it out here.
— Crazy Alert! MAGA pastor whines about handicapped parking & says wheelchair-bound people should just walk or go to a different church.... A multi-millionaire mega-church MAGA pastor went off on a rant last week about how terrible it is that churches like his are “forced” by the
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