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The overlooked success of the House impeachment managers

February 16, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

The United States Senate acquitted Donald Trump Saturday of the charge of inciting an insurrection against the United States government. Though the Democratic impeachment managers failed to convict, let’s remember something central to their project. They needed 67 of 100 senators to vote for it. That’s not a majority. That’s not even a supermajority. That’s a superdupermajority, a numeric threshold the Constitution’s framers created expressly to stop passions endangering the republic.

This needs saying, because many of us, I suspect, have forgotten that the goal of convicting a former president, and thus disqualifying him from running again in four years’ time, was always improbable. Yes, the evidence was damning. It was public. It was abundant. It was overwhelming. It hardly needed arguing at all. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking an open-and-shut case of treason, which is what it was, would win over a superdupermajority of the United States Senate. Normal people tend to live in a world in which morality prevails much of the time over self-interest. Senators are not normal. Republican senators are especially abnormal. They are exquisitely sensitive to the temptations of power, because in the end, that’s all that really matters to them.

Many of us have forgotten that the goal of convicting a former president, and thus disqualifying him from running again in four years’ time, was always improbable.

There’s something else that needs saying. Our democratic republic produced these fascists. Democracy, because it is the sovereignty of the people—the sovereignty of every kind of person of every ideological stripe—is always going to produce people who’d kill off democracy if given half a chance. The framers knew this. That’s why they were so skeptical of democracy, and enshrined numeric thresholds in the Constitution, like the superdupermajority threshold that saved Donald Trump’s ass. Forty-three GOP senators voted to acquit a former president of betraying the republic. While some are blaming the Democrats for not doing this or that thing that might have persuaded them to convict, remember the Republicans represent people. If 43 of them are OK with betraying the republic, roughly two-fifths of Americans are probably OK with it, too.

I’ll get back to this in a minute, but for now, let’s consider the following question. Given the extraordinary constitutional threshold the Democrats had to overcome to achieve their goal, did they fail? A majority of senators took their side. More than that, a bipartisan majority …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The $4 trillion economic cost of not vaccinating the entire world

February 16, 2021 in Blogs

By The Conversation

by Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, University of Maryland

Rolling out a vaccine to stop the spread of a global pandemic doesn’t come cheap. Billions of dollars have been spent developing drugs and putting in place a program to get those drugs into people’s arms.

But amid an uneven distribution of vaccines – with poorer countries lagging far behind richer nations – another concern presents itself: the cost of not vaccinating everyone.

My colleagues and I sought to find out what the total hit to the global economy of uneven vaccination distribution might be.

To do so, we analyzed 35 industries – such as services and manufacturing – in 65 countries and examined how they were all linked economically in 2019, before the pandemic. For example, the construction sector in the U.S. relies on steel imported from Brazil, American auto manufacturers need glass and tires that come from countries in Asia, and so forth.

We then used data on COVID-19 infections for each country to demonstrate how the coronavirus crisis has disrupted global trade, curbing shipments of steel, glass and other exports to other countries. The more that a sector relies on people working in close proximity to produce goods, the more disruption there will be due to higher infections.

We then modeled how vaccinations could help to alleviate these economic costs, as a healthy and immune workforce is able to increase output.

Shouldering the burden

Our results showed that if wealthier nations are fully vaccinated by the middle of this year – a goal that many countries are striving for – yet developing countries manage to vaccinate only half of their populations, the global economic loss would amount to around US$4 trillion.

We estimated the global economic cost of developing countries not vaccinating any of their citizens to be around $9 trillion. Work is underway to increase the reach of vaccines to developing countries, but nonetheless, it is likely that poorer nations will still lag in total numbers vaccinated.

Whatever the toll is, the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan would shoulder almost half the burden of continuing disruptions to global trade – even if they themselves managed to vaccinate the entirety of their own populations.

The findings come as the global community seeks ways to address the imbalance in national vaccinations. Results from our study, published as a working paper by the National Bureau …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Dallas County judge: 'Bad policy' more than 'bad weather' caused Texas energy woes

February 16, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Battered by severe winter weather, Texas has been suffering extensive power outages in many reasons unprepared for the cold snap. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins discussed Texas’ energy woes with MSNBC’s Katie Tur on Tuesday — and he didn’t hesitate to tell her how “dire” the situation is.

Tur asked Jenkins, “Have you gotten word on when the power is going to be back on?” — to which he responded, “Our best hope is that we will get a lot of our people back on sometime tonight, but we’ve got another storm coming in that’s going to hit Texas pretty hard late tonight and early tomorrow morning. The situation is dire and very unpredictable.”

Jenkins, discussing his conversations with energy company CEOs in Texas, continued, “There’s a lot of unpredictability out there because there’s so many pieces that are broken.”

When Tur noted how “hard” Texas has been hit by severe winter storms, Jenkins responded, “The storms that hit us, though, hit us with the decisions that governors made over the last ten years. Bad weather is predictable, and bad policy has a consequence when bad things happen.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Foreign policy expert reveals America's 'other forever wars' that we ignore

February 16, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Over the years, the United States has had many adversaries that it didn’t attack militarily, but rather, punished with sanctions or embargos. Peter Beinart, a journalism/political science professor at the City University of New York, analyzes that approach in an op-ed published by the New York Times this week — stressing that even without bombs or military force, sanctions or embargos can be painful economically for the populations of those countries.

In 2020, Biden declared, “It is past time to end the forever wars.” But according to Beinart, Biden’s “definition of war is too narrow” — and the “other forever wars” are the ones in which the U.S. makes life difficult for other countries without actually resorting to bombs or missiles.

“For decades,” Beinart explains, “the United States has supplemented its missile strikes and special operations raids with a less visible instrument of coercion and death. America blockades weaker adversaries, choking off their trade with the outside world. It’s the modern equivalent of surrounding a city and trying to starve it into submission. Wonks call this weapon ‘secondary sanctions.’ The more accurate term would be ‘siege.’”

By “forever wars,” Biden was referring to the United States’ military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan — as well as related conflicts in the Middle East and other regions. But Beinart, in his Times op-ed, argues that in other countries, the U.S. has maintained its “other forever wars” without actually using military force. And he cites Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as examples of leaders the U.S. has tried to “punish” without resorting to bombs or missiles.

“Mr. Assad, Mr. Maduro and the communist government in Havana aren’t going anywhere,” Beinart writes. “America’s leaders would rather punish already brutalized populations than concede the limits of American power.”

Trying to “punish” authoritarian leaders, according to Beinart, mostly hurts those who have the misfortune of being ruled by them — not the authoritarians themselves.

Beinart explains, “Besieging an oppressive regime usually harms not the oppressor, but the oppressed…. As the political scientists Dursun Peksen and Cooper Drury have explained, dictators respond to embargoes by hoarding scarce resources, and using them to reward their cronies and starve their opponents — thus further entrenching their power.”

He laments that “America’s other forever wars” continue to enjoy “substantial bipartisan support” — and ends his op-ed by saying that he doesn’t expect that policy to change in the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Larry Kudlow caught in an expletive-filled outburst on a hot mic after Kamala Harris's comments

February 16, 2021 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

Larry Kudlow is returning to cable news after a nearly three-year stint in the Trump White House as the president’s economic advisor, and he kicked off his first day at his new job with an expletive-filled attack on Vice President Kamala Harris.

Harris has been under fire for her recent – and entirely taken out of context – comments about vaccine distribution, taken from an interview with Axios that aired on HBO over the weekend.

First, what she actually said.

“There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out,” Harris said, speaking about when the Biden administration took office. “And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year.”

Tuesday afternoon Fox News played a short excerpt of Vice President Harris’ coronavirus vaccine distribution comments, setting off Kudlow.

First, what she actually said.

“There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out,” Harris said, speaking about when the Biden administration took office. “And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year.”

Tuesday afternoon Fox News played a short excerpt of Vice President Harris’ coronavirus vaccine distribution comments, setting off Kudlow.

There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations when the Biden administration took office less than four weeks ago. Vaccines were shipped to states, and then they and local leaders were forced to try to figure it out. Distribution, transport (which requires sub-zero temperatures), how to administer the vaccine, who should get it first, how to schedule, whether or not to have mass vaccination sites, how to pay for it all, everything. Zero help, including basics like exactly when to expect how many doses, from the federal government.

Kudlow was reacting to Fox News’ out-of-context quote, but he’s absolutely wrong on the facts.

Listen:

<Img …read more

Source: ALTERNET