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      After two years of a presidency under Donald Trump whose policies are seen as an outrage to California and the rest of the country, Democrats in the Golden state are ready to challenge the Trump Administrations policies and rhetoric.

      California's legislators are gearing up to defy Trump and present what they believe is a better way than that of the now dysfunctional Washington D.C., by presenting bills that will not only rebuff Trump on his corrupt administration, but will seek to better the environment and work to pry loose his tax returns.

      Newly elected Democratic legislators are joining together to go against Trump's proposals to keep immigrants from becoming legal citizens if they use any public services, and any likely federal backlash will not deter the newly elected from seeking single payer health care.


      "It's not just that California policy makers are taking a different direction than the Trump administration, it's that voters have endorsed and voted to take a different direction."


      California Democrats ready new assault on Donald Trump

      Legislature aims to rebuff the White House on immigration, health care, the environment and even the president’s tax returns.


      Carla Marinucci and Victoria Colliver contributed reporting

      Triumphant California Democrats returned to the state capitol in Sacramento this week with a mandate and a mission: defying President Donald Trump, whose enduring toxicity in the state helped power historic gains in the legislature and Congress.

      Two years into a presidency whose policies are anathema to California’s dominant party, Democrats are picking up where they left off: challenging the Trump administration in policy and in rhetoric as they seek to make America’s most populous state apart a counterexample to the dysfunction in DC.

      “Trump has poured more gasoline on the fire,” Assemblyman Rob Bonta said at a press conference denouncing a Trump administration move targeting immigrants. “This is wrong. It is fueled by racism,” and it constitutes “an attack on California’s health and well-being.”

      Image result for newsom pictures

      New Governor of California Gavin Newsom


      Newly introduced bills seek to rebuff the Trump administration on immigration and the environment while again working to pry loose his tax returns. Ambitious healthcare proposals seem guaranteed to energize state’s liberal base, offering Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom an early opportunity to advance his oft-stated goal of making the state a shining alternative to Trumpism.

      Even before they had been formally sworn in to new terms, Democratic legislators were rallying against the Trump administration’s proposal to bar immigrants who use public services from obtaining legal status.

      My worst fears have not yet materialized, believe it or not,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in his first address to a legislative body where Democrats now wield an ironclad three-quarters majority, “but the federal reality has been quite bad enough.”

      Rendon used his table-setting speech to both set broad policy goals and to underscore that Sacramento’s animosity towards the White House has not abated, lambasting Trump for “heaping blame on California, a state that is suffering its worst fire disaster ever” and dispatching “troops to lonely border outposts to do nothing but posture” — the latter remark echoing Newsom’s stated desire to reverse a National Guard deployment.

      While Newsom defined his candidacy as a response to Trump, he was more circumspect as he spoke among an ebullient swirl of newly-sworn in Democrats. He expressed gratitude that Trump had finally toured areas devastated by wildfires, but he acknowledged that more conflict likely lay ahead.

      “We’re living in an environment, tweet by tweet, day by day, where issues raise themselves to the fore. That makes it challenging for us to cooperate at all levels, all of the time,” Newsom said.

      Of all the emerging California-versus-Trump flashpoints, one in particular will likely augment the rivalry between Trump and Newsom: a bill that would extend insurance coverage to a greater pool of California’s undocumented immigrants. With single-payer healthcare on the back burner given that it would require unlikely federal approvals, immigrant and healthcare advocates have focused their attention on achieving universal coverage by looking to unauthorized immigrants.


      “That’s a dramatically different direction than where the Trump administration is seeking to go,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of the organization Health Access. He called the bill part of “California’s effort to not just protect our progress but to take steps despite the federal government.”

      Given Trump’s propensity for proclaiming at campaign rallies that Newsom wanted to open the border and distribute free healthcare, the bill will offer Newsom an early test and opportunity to contrast California. Speaking to reporters before he won his race, Newsom said his belief in the policy was not deterred by the likely federal backlash. The same holds for legislators.

      “The federal rhetoric we hear and the hate-mongering that seems to come out of parts of our nation’s capital aren’t reflective of the values that I know are true here in California,” said Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, a Central Valley Democrat who’s carrying the legislation. “This bill provides hope for many people in my community that all people matter – that their lives matter as well.”

      That measure is just one point in a growing constellation of bills challenging or targeting Trump.

      Legislators have revived pushes to require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns and to prohibit civil arrests at courthouses in an attempt to bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from scooping up immigrants in court – a tactic that advocates say has become increasingly common and that California’s chief Supreme Court justice denounced.

      Versions of both died on Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto pen last year but could have a different fate under Newsom. Another key distinction from last time: the tax returns bill will now be debated during a presidential election cycle and is designed to ensure that, should it become law, it take effect before voters go to the polls.

      “There are pressing questions for voters to have answers to before an election,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire. “If President Trump had released his tax returns we would know why he’s snuggling up to Saudi Arabia,” McGuire added. “It’s time to put the speculation to bed.”

      While Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins refrained from calling out Trump in her introductory speech, she swiftly threw her support behind a sweeping bill to shield environmental and worker safety standards from federal rollbacks by enshrining them at the state level.

      The bill “is Trump insurance for California’s environment,” state Sen. Henry Stern said in a statement.

      Yet another bill would allow qualified people to serve on appointed public boards regardless of their immigration status, looking to a standard of inclusiveness that would contrast sharply with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

      The eagerness to take on Trump follows Democrats’ resounding success in a Trump-referendum election. Wright, the healthcare advocate, noted a recurring theme as he spoke to incoming legislators during back-to-session receptions: many of them had run ads blasting Republican opponents for voting against a bill that sought to ban the types of short-term health insurance plans favored by the Trump administration.

      “I was struck by not only have California legislators passed an agenda to counter what was done by the Trump administration but how much they ran on it and won,” Wright said. “It’s not just that California policymakers are taking a different direction than the Trump administration, it’s that the voters have endorsed and voted to take a different direction.”


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      Pundit Post

      Graham Not Willfully Blind About MBS, But Willfully Blind About Trump


          I agree with Lindsey Graham's assessment of MBS's involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Ironically, almost everything Graham said about obvious evidence of MBS's involvement in this murder, can be said about Trump's involvement in a conspiracy with Putin to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

          A person would have to be willfully blind to not see things Trump has done that implicates him personally in the conspiracy. It is virtually impossible for the conspiracy to have been carried out without Trump's involvement. Graham left the CIA briefing being amazed by the CIA and the intelligence community's capability and their analytical reasoning in THIS case, but not in their capability and their analytical reasoning related to Trump and Putin's interference and undermining of our democracy.

          Just listen to this interview Graham gave and substitute what he is saying about MBS's involvement in Khashoggi's murder, with Trump's involvement in the conspiracy with Putin. There may not be a smoking gun YET, but there is a smoking trail of money laundering, associations and meetings with Russians during, before and since the election, talk between Flynn and Russia about sanctions and probably what a President Trump would do in return for lifting them, a back channel or secret channel between Kushner, Flynn and Russia prior to the election, and Trump's attitude about not criticizing Putin for anything until recently, kinda.

          A person would have to be willfully blind to not see these things.

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          Donald Trump's Latest Tweet Could End His Presidency


              From George McKay

              This tweet "could finish" Trump's Presidency;

              I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.
              It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!

              This might seem like an innocuous statement and a condemnation of a man who has admitted to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the supposed links between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but it is far from that.

              Trump has long claimed ignorance of the lies which came from Michael Flynn’s mouth, but it appears Donald Trump knew full well that Flynn was lying all along.

              He wrote the reason he fired Flynn was because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI, which basically amounts to getting rid of Flynn to obstruct an investigation into Russia ties.

              People were quick to point out just how damaging this tweet really is, including Walter Shaub, the former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, who was astounded by the tweet.

              Tell us, @realDonaldTrump, did you know Flynn had lied to the FBI when Counsel to the President Don McGahn snubbed Yates as she tried to warn the White House Flynn had been compromised?

              Did you know Flynn had lied to the FBI when you fired Yates days after her whistleblowing?

              — Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 2, 2017

              Read more responses below.


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              In The Age Of Trump, President George HW Bush Shines Brightly In Contrast


                  A cartoonist captures a reunion: Bush 41 greeting by his wife Barbara and his little girl, Robin, who was taken by leukemia while very young. A Personal Moment for a very Personable Man.

                  For most of my voting life I have been Republican in national elections and Democratic in state and local elections. Not that I didn't mix it up a bit but that was the general pattern.

                  In 1988, friends from the Jim Edgar Campaign (A republican and the new governor of Illinois) asked me to work for the Bush Campaign. I was hesitant. I was less than enthusiastic about his association with Ronald Reagan for whom he served as Vice President. Reagan had a mixed record. Bush seemed to me to be a "yes man". Still, I trusted the Edgar people and I was no fan of Dukakis and he looked to be the likely winner of the Democratic Nomination. So in June of 1988 I went to work for Mr. Bush after taking a good look at his long career.

                  That career was impressive. Congressman, Ambassador, Director of the CIA and Vice-President to the man who beat him for the Nomination. I took a good look and found someone who I could respect and admire. I worked for his election then and once again in 1992. I gave the Democratic choice a look but I knew way too little about this ex-Governor from Arkansas to want him as President. Overall I was happy with Bush.

                  I found this essay at Time and it captures most of my thinking.


                  What follows are highlights of that essay and my summary of its key points.


                  Virtually from the moment he defeated Michael Dukakis in the election of 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush made it clear that he was going to be a very different sort of Commander in Chief than Ronald Reagan. He told the Secret Service to turn off its sirens and ordered his motorcade to come to a halt at stoplights. He let it slip that he (sometimes) showered with his dog. He took pictures of his aides when they fell asleep during meetings. He went jogging in the mornings, repaired to a newly built horseshoe pit for a little “prudent R and R” in the afternoons, and liked to zip out to suburban Virginia for Chinese food, sweeping up family, aides and occasionally even perfect strangers in the adventure. His trips to camp David were non-stop sport and he had tons of guests there. He loved company.

                  He wrote thank-you notes by the dozen, as if he were winning over the country one correspondence card at a time. He regularly stayed in Washington for the Christmas holiday itself so that his "on the road" bodyguards could spend the day with their families. He treated his traveling press photographers to regular weenie roasts. He dragged Cabinet members up to Camp David for the weekend, whether they wanted to go or not. Asked in the final days of his transition what surprised him most about the spacious White House residence, Bush, who loved to throw spontaneous dinners, replied, “I can have 40 people up there.”

                  He could be wry. When TIME asked the new president to explain his decision-making process, he ordered an aide to take a Polaroid of him hovering over a crystal ball. The framed picture later arrived in the mail with a note: “The president wanted you to know how he really makes decisions.”

                  And there were the Dana Garvey sketches on SNL.....Bush played right into them...Here is a great moment.


                  In which George HW Bush interrupts Garvey's opening monologue (which he is performing AS Bush) to critique his efforts. Worth the time. Says a lot about him.

                  All of these stories were typical of Bush, but they also had the virtue of cementing one overriding sensation as he prepared to be sworn in as America’s 41st president — that Ronald Reagan and the turbulent era he oversaw were over. Bush hoped, almost by sheer force of will (and impeccable manners), to usher in a more moderate, more reasonable era of American politics. “Normal” was a word that was used a lot around the Bush White House in the first year. He had promised in the campaign to work hard, keep the boat in the channel and get stuff done. He carried that theme into the most memorable, and most applauded, line of his brief 20-minute inaugural address: “The American public did not send us here to bicker.”

                  Bush knew he would need the cooperation of a Congress fully under Democratic control to get anything done. But the 41st president, among the best prepared men to be Commander in Chief in the 20th century, could not have foreseen that his biggest problems would come not from political rivals but from members of his own party who were leaning harder and harder to the right and for whom divisive politics was oddly inviting.

                  Real Progress at Home — at a Price

                  Bush’s domestic agenda, at least by today’s standards, would be called ambitious: a quiet remaking of one sector of the country’s financial industry, a new civil-rights law, a bipartisan overhaul of clean-air rules, new investments in technology, and a dramatic rewrite of spending and taxing rules that would help to lay the groundwork for an economic boom.

                  Bush was a social moderate, an internationalist and, despite his years in Texas, an Easterner by nature. Yet he was leading a party that since the mid-1970s had tilted ever more conservative, more Western, more Southern and less tolerant of social progress. That party loved Reagan, it had written Richard Nixon out of its history books, and it was a little suspicious of a man whose father, a senator from Greenwich, Conn., had been a Planned Parenthood supporter. So Bush had campaigned with country-and-western singers in tow, often bragged about eating (and liking) beef jerky, and had promised, forcefully and repeatedly, never to raise taxes.

                  From the moment he took office, Bush walked a tightrope: doing deals with Democrats who controlled both chambers and hoping the right wing of his party would not object. For nearly two years, his balance was perfect; then the tightrope began to quiver.

                  He moved quietly in his first year to put a wrecked savings and loan industry back together, selling off failed thrifts and merging and recapitalizing the salvageable ones. The bailout cost taxpayers $123.8 billion, and Bush’s aides discreetly slipped the measure through Congress. Easing the way was the fact that nearly every member of Congress had seen thrifts fail in his or her district. Still, it would be a test run for a global bank failure 20 years later.

                  Bush found easy congressional approval for his next initiative, the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark piece of civil-rights legislation he signed in July 1990 that gave people with handicaps access to facilities and opportunities that other Americans took for granted. Curbs, doors, stairs, signage and employment laws were revised across the country over the next 20 years in response to the bipartisan-backed measure.

                  Bush worked tirelessly in his first year on two other fronts. First, he won an agreement from the nation’s governors to back a minimal set of academic standards by which all schools would be measured, a project he did in trademark fashion: in person, pressing individual governors for help.

                  Bush spent hundreds of hours in meetings in 1990 on Clean Air Act amendments, updating a 1970s-era law in harness with Democrats and environmentalists. The result was a set of rules that raised smog- and acid-rain-causing emissions standards, but that also gave utilities and other manufacturers new flexibility in reducing emissions.

                  But Bush’s best-remembered — and fateful — domestic-policy decision came in June 1990, when he announced that the nation needed to embrace a broad package of spending cuts and “tax revenue increases” to help bring down the nation’s deficit, then running at a relatively modest $400 billion a year. When the budget battles finally ended in October, Bush had gutted out a remarkable achievement that would cut the deficit by nearly $500 billion over five years. The deal put the nation on a firmer fiscal path and created new rules that severely limited spending and were later given credit for helping to set the stage for the economic boom of the 1990s. The War in Iraq while brief was also costly and Bush felt obliged to pay off the war which he did with a combination of payments from the Saudis and Kuwatis and revenue from taxes. But the damage Bush suffered from party loyalists was just as lasting. Conservatives in his party never trusted him again. Tax increases would be off the table for Republicans for two decades, and the stage was set for a challenge to the 1992 nomination. Bush had done the right thing, but he would pay a steep price for doing it.

                  China, Panama, Desert Storm

                  Bush acknowledged early in his presidency that he vastly preferred foreign policy to domestic affairs. It was his specialty, having cut his teeth in the 1970s as U.N. ambassador, envoy to China and CIA director and amassed a global Rolodex of kings, princes, emirs, premiers and ambassadors. More than that, it was overseas, he felt, that a commander in chief could really make a difference. Indeed, Bush would bring his feel for personal diplomacy to bear in ways that earned him plaudits for speed and a deft touch, as well as criticism for occasional coziness.

                  He laid down markers from the start, traveling to Japan to attend Emperor Hirohito’s funeral, a thinly disguised trip that afforded him a stop in China to meet his counterparts there. (Bush maintained close ties with Beijing, amid much criticism, several months later when Tiananmen Square exploded and Chinese officials cracked down harshly on a budding democracy movement.) At the same time, he spent five months studying Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s intentions before springing a dramatic proposal on NATO to reduce American forces in Europe by 30,000, roughly 20 percent of all U.S. combat troops on the continent. The move caught his allies off guard and would typify Bush’s instincts in foreign policy: long periods of study, secret planning and then a globe-grabbing surprise.

                  His troop proposals not only reduced U.S. presence overseas, they helped clear the way for the reunification of Germany and doubtless eased the fall of the Soviet Union. He boosted economic aid to Russia and other former satellite states to help speed the end of the Communist bloc. And he pushed the fast-declining Soviets to make deeper reductions in nuclear arms, hoping to lower tensions as the dilapidated Communist regime tried to shape a new economic future. Throughout the dramatic events of the fall of 1989 and 1990, Bush was careful not to gloat over the Cold War’s triumphant closure. Yes, the West had won a 40-year struggle. But spiking the ball in the end zone, Bush knew, would only slow — or even reverse — the process.

                  Bush wasted no time in 1989 when he sent nearly 26,000 American troops to Panama to remove General Manuel Noriega from power. The pretense was a murder — Noriega’s thugs had killed a Marine and roughed up a Navy officer and his wife. The real reason was that Noriega was turning into an accomplished drug runner, transforming the country that controlled the Panama Canal into a criminal enterprise.

                  When Saddam Hussein’s army, the fourth largest in the world at the time, invaded the tiny, oil-rich emirate of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1991, it was widely assumed in most foreign capitals that there was nothing that could be done about it. Bush took a different view. “This will not stand,” he announced on the White House South Lawn, surprising even some of his own advisers.

                  Bush organized a coalition of 37 nations to oppose Saddam, got other nations to pay for the expeditionary force, and within six months pushed the Iraqis back over the border. Bush had chosen his sidemen well: longtime friend James Baker was his Secretary of State, and Brent Scowcroft, whom Bush had known since the early 1970s, was his national security adviser. They constituted one of the shrewdest foreign-policy troikas in history, organizing NATO and Western armies behind the liberation and even looping a number of Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, into the coalition.

                  The international air campaign bombing Iraqi outposts and defenses began in January 1991 and lasted for 40 days before the multinational ground force liberated the country in 100 hours. And there Bush stopped, declining the chance to go all the way to Baghdad and toss Saddam from power. That action, he and Scowcroft believed, would only bring instability to the region setting off a religious civil war (which is precisely what happened when Bush's son did not exercise his father's well informed prudence.)

                  Bush had put on one of the finest displays of raw presidential power in a generation, and the nation rewarded him with record-breaking approval ratings.

                  ‘Finish with a Smile’

                  But those Gulf War approval ratings did not hold. The U.S. economy slipped into a modest eight-month recession that ended in March 1991; unemployment rose to 7.8 percent by June 1992. Bush and his team were out of ideas. By instinct Bush wasn’t inclined to offer something big and bold, nor was it clear that a brief recession required it. But his chief antagonist, Arkansas’s Clinton, was a young and handsome moderate with a Southern populist’s touch, someone who seemed to revel in his own failings and somehow emerge stronger for it. Still overconfident, Bush and his advisers could hardly bring themselves to take a philandering Vietnam draft-dodger seriously. As Bush’s greatest generation passed into history, baby-boom voters would take a more forgiving view.

                  In his post-presidency, Bush had many roles....one of the most significant was as adviser to later presidents including Bill Clinton, his own son, and Barack Obama. The transition from his White House to the Clinton one was one of the smoothest in history beginning in earnest the day after his loss....something he took with a big grin on his face.

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                  Pundit Post

                  The New Normal In The Age Of Trump


                      The New Normal

                      In The Age Of Trump

                      The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, January 20, 2017.

                      The death of former president George H.W. Bush has underscored in stark terms just how badly our political discourse, ethical standards, faith in our democratic institutions, and grasp of truth itself have deteriorated in the Age of Trump.

                      Whatever our political convictions, whether we always agreed with him or not, Bush represents something we have lost, a "humble servant" who spent a lifetime of service to our country.


                      A decorated World War II veteran, the last president to have served in that war, Bush was the 41st president from 1989 to 1993 following two terms as vice president under Ronald Reagan. His record of public service included stints as director of the CIA, chairman of the Republican National Committee, ambassador to the United Nations and envoy to China, as well as a two-term member of the House of Representatives.

                      He is remembered as having guided America and the world through the end of the Cold War during the collapse of the former Soviet Union, skillfully oversaw the reunification of Germany and the stabilization of Europe, organized the Gulf War coalition to liberate Kuwait, initiated the National Climate Assessment, signed the Clean Air Act, and sometimes defied conservative orthodoxy with compassionate social programs including co-sponsoring the Americans With Disabilities Act.

                      “George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41′s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

                      - Jim McGrath, Bush family spokesman

                      America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush.
                      While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude.
                      Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight – and all who
                      were inspired by George and Barbara’s example.

                      I posted the following piece just days before the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

                      Now, as we approach the halfway mark of Trump's (first) term, many elements of what was then the alarming novelty of his stunning Electoral College victory and unlikely rise to the presidency, the coarsening of our political and social dialogue, and the "post truth" manipulations of authoritarianism have become the "new normal".

                      The death of George H.W. Bush should remind us of who we are, what we've represented, and what our responsibilities are to the nation and to the world in the future.

                      Deplorable Conspiracy Theories

                      Disturbed, Deceptive & Dangerous

                      By Ray Cunneff

                      January 2, 2017


                      Whether from "fake news" websites, foreign propaganda pipelines or outright lies from candidates and their supporters, disinformation campaigns broadly impacted the 2016 presidential election season.

                      In August, former New York mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani announced on Fox News that Hillary Clinton was seriously ill. It was based on nothing more than spiteful rumor and a heavily-edited video that made it look like she was having convulsions, but conspiracy theories that used to only occupy the fringes of political discussion have gone mainstream. The story was picked up and repeated many times.

                      Conspiracy theories have always been part of American politics, usually among a tiny segment of the electorate who tended to view just about any incident as a "false flag" operation with nefarious motives. But never before have they enjoyed the reach of the internet and social media and the potential to do such great harm. Never before have alternative news sources enjoyed greater credibility and trust than mainstream media in its slide away from journalism toward "infotainment". And a significant percentage of Americans now get their news from Facebook.

                      The "Pizzagate" scandal, that had prompted a man to fire shots inside a D.C. pizzeria to break up a child sex ring that didn’t exist, was a conspiracy theory that ricocheted from 4Chan, to Reddit, to fake news sites then back to social media throughout October and November. And even after the story was completely debunked, Michael Flynn Jr., the son of President-elect Trump’s choice to be national security adviser, believed the story would be considered true until proven false.

                      But while hordes of conspiracy bloggers remained convinced of a media cover-up for pedophiles, or that Hillary Clinton had murdered at least five people in 2016, the more foreign policy-oriented bizarro news sites warned of a "final battle brewing" on January 20th when ISIS fighters emerge from their secret U.S. bases or posted a re-tweet celebrating the “liberation of Aleppo from ‘US-backed’ terrorists" by Assad's heroic forces.

                      And quite abruptly, lifelong anti-Communists have become pro-Russian.

                      A “rigged” system

                      A primary message of both the populist "outsider" campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders was that the entire system, economic and political, was rigged. During the primaries, both campaigns maintained that the nomination process was rigged. In August, Trump claimed that in states without voter ID laws in place, fraud would be rampant and people would be voting "15 times". And he asserted that the only way the Clinton campaign could win Pennsylvania is if “they cheat.”

                      Despite a lack of any evidence of widespread voter fraud, conspiracy theories about fraudulent and rigged elections have led state legislatures across the country to enact restrictive voter ID laws that disenfranchise minority voters. In the general election, Trump deployed supporters to polling stations across America to monitor for fraud and challenge voters’ they found behaved or looked in some way suspicious.

                      This kind of rhetoric is dangerous. It undermines our faith in the legitimacy of our elections and our government(s). It leads to scapegoating, alienation and hopelessness. These actions based on conspiracy theories also serve to depress the vote, which weakens our democracy.

                      “There’s something going on”

                      This is a favorite go-to conspiracy theory of Trump’s, ideal in it's vagueness, allowing supporters to connect the dots based on their own prejudices. Open-ended enough to be used in a variety of circumstances, the dark suggestion that our institutions and our media are not only malevolent, but also engaged in a massive cover-up, provides resonance.

                      This style of conspiracy theory, leaving the details for people to figure out on their own, is advantageous because it gives supporters less to disagree with. It is useful in an all-purpose way because it allows Trump to avoid specifics, dangerous because it allows people to choose their own villains.

                      If nothing and no one can be trusted, that somehow everyone except disaffected followers are in on it, this creates a kind of free-floating paranoia, anger and suspicion. In that mindset, friends, neighbors, even family members could all be seen as potentially a threat. Anyone might be a criminal or a terrorist.

                      Those "others"

                      Donald Trump launched his campaign with assertions that Mexicans and refugees are to be feared, a danger to both American lives and values. He accused Mexican immigrants of being pawns in a Mexican conspiracy to send murderers and rapists to America. He accused refugees, fleeing their homeland war zones, of working against the government as ISIS agents. He specifically proposed a ban on all Muslim immigration until "we figure out what the hell's going on?".

                      Most dictators have risen to power, at least in part, by having someone to blame for their society's ills. They demonize and de-humanize their scapegoats as justification for draconian steps against them. But these are especially dangerous because they are a rationale for brutalization and violence. They direct all the rage, distrust, fear and paranoia at those who looked or acted "different".

                      From the Salem Witch Trials, where innocent women were brutally murdered; to the Red Scare of the 1950's, which saw the United States government violating the rights of countless Americans; to the Japanese internment camps during World War II, when the powerful believe there is a conspiracy against them, real or imagined, their reactions can have terrible consequences.

                      In this alternative universe of conspiracy theories, fake news has become real news and real news has become fake. Social media will continue the distribution of odious memes and facilitate the bullying of dissenters. Reports of Russian interference in the presidential election will be denied or mocked as irrelevant. Tribalism, nationalism, distrust, xenophobia, racism, misogyny and homophobia will dominate the political discourse.

                      In a post-truth echo-chamber, facts become little more than nuisances.

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                      Pundit Post

                      And Now - The Worst And The Dumbest. Trump Tops Tricky Dick


                          "You'd think, that after almost half a century, we could at least expect an improved quality of criminals."

                          Most of us were brought up with the idea that the job of a United states President was so complicated, so difficult, and so completely challenging that few could do it. Then along comes Trump!

                          Now, many of those those who professionally associated with Trump before, during, and after his campaign to take the Oval Office, have been indicted; the history of the man's activities has disgusted the world, and it looks like it won't be long before his many unethical behaviors hits a crisis point.

                          While we wait to see who is next, and which criminal Trump will pardon, one of my favorite writers, Gail Collins, with good humor and an opinion few will challenge, gives us her take on the kind of criminal we now have in the highest position in our land.


                          Watergate was way easier than this.

                          Really, Richard Nixon might have been attempting to undermine the nation’s legal system, but at least he wasn’t negotiating to build, say, a hotel in Hanoi at the same time.

                          You’d think that after almost half a century we could at least expect an improved quality of criminals. But it does appear that Donald Trump is surrounded by minions who would have been totally incapable of pulling off a small-bore burglary without creating a constitutional crisis.

                          So many plea bargains and indictments, so little time. How do you keep track of all this stuff? (Let’s follow the president’s lead and pretend that everything happening in the world is all about you.) What do you do at holiday parties when somebody asks you what you think about the Trump scandal-rama? No fair just rolling your eyes and muttering something about the merlot.

                          Image result for cartoon of Mueller indictments

                          Maybe you could boil things down. Just challenge everyone to name their favorite Trump investigation indictee.

                          … So far.**

                          There are plenty to choose from. Nearly three dozen if you count all the Russians we’re never going to see. And old favorites like national-security-adviser-for-a-minute turned convicted felon Michael Flynn. This would give everybody a chance to recall Flynn leading the “Lock her up!” chants at the Republican convention.

                          Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s bedraggled-beagle face has been everywhere. We knew he was funneling money to pay off Stormy Daniels and other assorted Trump squeezes. But now we’ve learned that he was also negotiating with the Russians about an allegedly terminated Moscow hotel deal during the presidential primaries.

                          You can say a lot of bad things about Cohen, but you cannot accuse him of lack of energy.

                          This week, after the world learned Cohen was baring his soul to the Mueller investigators, Trump said his old fixer was “a weak person and not a very smart person.” Which caused a reporter to ask, reasonably enough, why he had such a loser on his payroll for 12 years. The president vaguely explained it was because Cohen “did me a favor.”

                          Possible holiday dinner-table discussion: What do you think the favor was?

                          A) Introduced Trump to Roy Cohn

                          B) Bought a whole bunch of Trump apartments at a price nobody else would pay

                          C) Wrote “The Art of the Deal”

                          The answer appears to be real estate. Although mentioning Roy Cohn gives us the opportunity to point out that the president recently accused special counsel Robert Mueller of conducting a “Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt.” It was a tiny bit ironic given the fact that the lawyer for said witch hunts was Cohn, Trump’s great pal and mentor.

                          This whole saga is getting so incredibly … dense. All the Mueller indictments, all the people trying to trade information for a shorter sentence. Meanwhile Paul Manafort was double-flipping, giving Trump’s lawyers a secret briefing on what was going on while he was spilling the beans.

                          Manafort was supposed to be one of Trump’s cannier associates. As well as a former lobbyist for bloodthirsty dictators who had an addiction to the sort of lifestyle that included an $18,500 python skin jacket. Truly, you should always beware of flunkies wearing python skin.

                          The answer appears to be real estate. Although mentioning Roy Cohn gives us the opportunity to point out that the president recently accused special counsel Robert Mueller of conducting a “Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt.” It was a tiny bit ironic given the fact that the lawyer for said witch hunts was Cohn, Trump’s great pal and mentor.

                          This whole saga is getting so incredibly … dense. All the Mueller indictments, all the people trying to trade information for a shorter sentence. Meanwhile Paul Manafort was double-flipping, giving Trump’s lawyers a secret briefing on what was going on while he was spilling the beans.

                          Manafort was supposed to be one of Trump’s cannier associates. As well as a former lobbyist for bloodthirsty dictators who had an addiction to the sort of lifestyle that included an $18,500 python skin jacket. Truly, you should always beware of flunkies wearing python skin.

                          Image result for cartoon of Mueller indictments


                          The president has some history of preferring a golf cart ride to a walk with world leaders during important international meetings. Happily, he managed to start his visit to Argentina this week on two feet. (He did toss away his translation earpiece during a meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, claiming he could understand Macri better in Spanish. Can I see a show of hands on how many people will swallow that one?)

                          Plans for a one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin were shelved — a development that the White House said had absolutely nothing to do with Michael Cohen’s revelations about negotiating for that Moscow hotel deal during the presidential primaries. Or the new story that suggested Cohen planned to sweeten the deal by offering Putin a $50 million penthouse.

                          It was all allegedly about Russia’s treatment of Ukrainian ships and sailors. And if you believe that one, I’ve got a Moscow hotel I can sell you.



                          (Gail Collins is an Op-Ed columnist, a former member of the editorial board and was the first woman to serve as Times editorial page editor, from 2001 to 2007.)


                          List of Mueller indictments so far


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                          Pundit Post

                          When The Cult Comes Crashing Down


                              From here till eternity the goal of any cult leader is to promise those who fall under their nefarious influence great rewards and a higher standing that most other mortals. Take any cult and you will see a figurehead that at his or her very is core nothing more than a damaged human being.

                              Not one cult leader gets beyond the damage of their lives and from those old wounds they see themselves as special for having those experiences and acquiring a false sense of self. Their ego and superegos emboldened by a belief that they are something special when they are not.

                              When the cult is a political movement, the rise of Nazism, Communism in all its guises in the world are evidence of the dangers of political cultism. Political cultism gets people killed and those who carry out acts in the name of political ideology.

                              Acts of pure terrorism are never called out by the cult, the cult will almost certainly try to find fault with those who don't buy the cult leader's lies.

                              In the often tragic ending that befalls most cults a number of followers are often collateral damage. For the lucky ones it is a lifetime of therapy and regret. The not so lucky end up dead.

                              When it comes to a political cult it is an entire nation that is at risk. Again look at the examples above of Nazism and Communism and you can source a body count written into a dark history of a manipulation of the masses. The current rise of Right Wing Populism continues to alarm many around the world and the ease of which that same populism infiltrates old political rhetoric and blame based upon unfounded reason and race based or religious based hatred, The same type of hatred that can see a poisoning of minds and darkening of hearts.

                              The reemergence of a stone cold hatred of Judaism isn't so much a reemergence of this hatred. The hate never went away. Sure the war ended 1945 and Nazi Germany as a controlling entity was obliterated....the ideology simply went underground and hid from the light of day.

                              That ultra right wing ideology didn't simply end but evolved itself over a very long period of time. The timing of any unhinged cult is as important as the leader who sells the lies the cult member yearns to hear from anyone of social standing.

                              In Poland and Hungary we have seen the explosion of right wing political influence at play. Two nations not only stained with the utter dehumanising hatred that came with the grey uniformed Nazi machine. Their stories are the thing of nightmares and the cold front of what happens when an ideology meets those it has deemed not worthy of life.

                              From that both these nations were then under the control of Moscow as the Iron Curtain engulfed both nations and continued to live under a no less evil ideology where control was still required of the population.

                              Both these nations know war and its effects, it is written into the history of both. Refugees fleeing war, the exact same type of war those within these two nations fled too. But with the rise of right wing populism and the admission from those who call themselves Nationalist and protecting their nations only prove their own weakness by fearing others based upon race and religion.

                              In the beginning this ire was directed at those who fled war in Syria, Iraq, Northern and Central Africa. To see the desperation of those fleeing those conflicts visited upon them by another cult in the form of Daesh.

                              The ease of which the right branched out from targeting refugees to continuing their old anger against Jews. That old hate never went away and as such attacks on the Jewish community continued on but of recent times those fires are burning to the extent that controlling those whose minds are gone with blame and hatred will become a greater problem. The problem is those who march shouting Nazi slogans and epithets are in a position to go and vote for candidates who hold those same dark thoughts.

                              But any cult no matter the size can never cast off the truth. The truths that expose the lies the cult tells itself will always win through.

                              Political, spiritual or otherwise those who play the dangerous game of attracting unconditional devotion based upon their own deep rooted damage as people.

                              For many of these minds who embrace the mad ramblings of the cult figurehead they ignore the reality for only so long before they too question the folly of the message.

                              The undelivered promises remain undelivered and questions mount from within the ranks and that is when the cult comes crashing down.

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                              Pundit Post

                              Trump Floats Potential Pardon For Paul Manafort In Mueller Probe


                                  The president has wide latitude to pardon people. HOWEVER, if the president uses his/her power to pardon as a means of protecting himself or herself from impeachment or criminal prosecution, that is an abuse of power, which is an impeachable offense AND a crime.

                                  Trump, by publicly stating that he does not take issuing a pardon for Manafort off the table, publicly attempts to both obstruct justice and abuse the power of his office, BECAUSE the obvious reason he would pardon Manafort is to prevent Manafort from testifying against him.

                                  So the issue is not whether or not Trump has violated laws, but rather what Congress and the Justice Department (which is independent of the president, even though the head of the agency reports to the president) do about the president committing crimes.

                                  There is no way for the Democratic controlled House to not impeach Trump, although it is questionable whether the republican controlled Senate would convict him. However, in 2020 if Democrats win the White House and the Senate, former President Trump SHOULD be indicted and prosecuted for crimes he committed while in office.


                                  Article II, Section II, Clause I

                                  The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.


                                  WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump publicly floated the possibility that he’d pardon former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in connection with the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller.

                                  Trump, in an interview with the New York Post, made the dubious claim that he’d never discussed pardoning Manafort, but said he wouldn’t “take it off the table.”

                                  Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, previously told HuffPost that he discussed pardoning Manafort over the summer. “We both agreed that it made sense not to pardon anybody during the pendency of the investigation,” Giuliani said.

                                  Manafort pleaded guilty to two charges as part of a plea agreement in September that required him to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Earlier this week, Mueller’s team accused Manafort of lying to investigators even after his plea deal, and asked a judge to set a sentencing date.

                                  Manafort’s attorney, under a joint defense agreement with Trump, had been keeping Trump’s team informed about what Manafort told Mueller’s team.

                                  Just before a jury convicted Manafort on eight tax and bank fraud charges in August, Trump hinted that he could pardon his former campaign adviser. “He happens to be a very good person,” Trump said. “And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”

                                  Trump has previously tweeted that the charges against Manafort “have nothing to do” with collusion, suggested he was treated worse than Al Capone, said that the FBI was “doing a number on him,” and said that he felt “very badly” for Manafort and his family.

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                                      In this file photo taken on November 9, 2017, US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hand with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing. - US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss trade on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Argentina this month, a senior US official said November 13, 2018. Top White House economic aide Larry Kudlow said the high-level efforts continue to resolve the US-China trade war, and follow Trump's recent telephone call with Xi."Right now we're having communications at all levels of US and Chinese government," Kudlow told CNBC. (Photo by Fred DUFOUR / AFP)FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images


                                      By now it has become pretty clear that Trump's trade wars are a failing proposition for the United states. He had promised to get our country's workers a better deal during his 2016 campaign, but current results show that has not materialized, and much can be attributed to his policy on trade. His belief that tariffs would strong arm Canada and Mexico into renegotiations about the North American Free Trade Agreement have not happened.

                                      His slapping 25% tariffs on imports from China to produce gains from that country have also not happened, and they are unlikely to. So far China hasn’t budged on Trump’s demands.

                                      The following Op Ed makes the case for Trump to "turn around" his trade strategy at the G20 summit in Argentina this month.


                                      The world’s two largest economies — represented by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping — will be holding talks at this week’s G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.

                                      Normally, the United States’ competitive but cooperative relationship with China would ensure a tense but productive conversation. Thanks to Trump’s decision to wage tariff war on China, however, it’s tough to predict what will happen this time.

                                      Getting American workers a better deal was one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises.

                                      He’s certainly taken plenty of action to rachet up the trade pressure on the other major world economies.

                                      First, he implemented about $10 billion worth of tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar panels; those took effect in January. Then, in February, came steep steel and aluminum tariffs that targeted many of our trade allies, including Mexico and Canada.

                                      Trump believed the tariffs would force Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

                                      They did not.

                                      In September, the three countries agreed to a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, and it contains some modest new protections for American workers. But the result fell short of the major promises Trump made, and most of those improvements were cribbed from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a deal that Trump scrapped when he took office.

                                      Plus, the legislatures of all three countries have to sign off on the deal, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they will not.

                                      Similarly, Trump’s decision to brandish tariffs against China is unlikely to produce the gains he’s promised.

                                      He imposed 25 percent tariffs on imported Chinese products in July and September. Yet so far China hasn’t budged on Trump’s demands, which include reducing our bilateral trade deficit, improving market access for U.S. companies, and better protecting U.S. intellectual property.

                                      Some of Trump’s demands, especially related to markets and intellectual property, are correct. But tariff threats won’t persuade China to change.

                                      If anything, China is digging in. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this month, officials failed to agree on a joint statement as the U.S. and China fought over trade and security.

                                      Meanwhile, the U.S. stock market just registered its worst Thanksgiving week since 2011, and the International Monetary Fund warned last monththat it is lowering its global growth projections, partly because of “rising trade barriers.”

                                      Everyone loses in a trade war. This week, Trump has the chance to try a different approach. He must take it.

                                      This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board.


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                                      Pundit Post

                                      What To Know About Mississippi's Senate Runoff Election


                                          Here is a woman who never got elected to the Senate in the first place (she was appointed to fill the seat) but now has to face off in a real election. Just how racist is Mississippi? Today will tell. Here is a woman, Hyde-Smith, who not only is openly racist but flaunts it in front of her followers. If that isn't bad enough this ignorant woman thinks it's okay to make it difficult to vote. Voting is a right protected in our Constitution. The same Constitution she swore to uphold when taking office. Doesn't sound like she gives a damn about our Constitution which would make her a perfect fit for the Republican Party and someone who Trump would support one hundred percent.

                                          In fact her rhetoric is so bad that the MLB, AT&T, Leidos, Union Pacific and Boston Scientific all have asked for their contributions to be refunded. That has to be a real kick in the teeth especially if you are a Trump backed candidate, which she is. This is exactly the type of candidate that should not be sitting in Congress. She is of the most vile, most ignorant, despicable scrapping at the bottom of the barrel.

                                          Just how bad of a racist is this woman?

                                          So bad that even Walmart refuses to continue to support her and is calling for their donations to her be returned.

                                          Of course Trump thinks this woman is just terrific which is the only reason one would need to vote for her opponent. Come on you Democrats in Mississippi, get out and crush this openly racist Trump supported candidate.


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