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Thread: 2019 American Political Scene

  1. #301
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    Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies

    Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

    For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

    Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.

    A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

    New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

    The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges.
    Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.

    “Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law.

    Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims.

    That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns.

    ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.

    ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.

    Trump’s personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, keeps watch as supporters lay hands on the then-presidential nominee. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen later testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
    There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”

    The Trump Organization did not respond on the record to detailed questions provided by ProPublica. Robert Pollack, a lawyer whose firm, Marcus & Pollack, handles Trump’s property tax appeal filings with the city, said he was not authorized to discuss the documents. A spokeswoman for Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties’ expense and income statements, said the firm does not comment on its work for clients. Executives with Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, declined to be quoted for the story.

    In response to ProPublica’s questions about the disparities, Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, “The city is looking into this property, and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action.”

    Taxes have long been a third rail for Trump. Long before he famously declined to make his personal returns public, a New York Times investigation concluded, Trump participated in tax schemes that involved “outright fraud,” and that he had formulated “a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns.” Trump’s former partners in Panama claimed in a lawsuit, which is ongoing, that Trump’s hotel management company failed to pay taxes on millions in fees it received. Spokespeople for Trump and his company have denied any tax improprieties in the past.

    In February, Cohen told Congress that Trump had adjusted figures up or down, as necessary, to obtain loans and avoid taxes. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

    The two Trump buildings with the most notable discrepancies shared a financial trait: Both were refinanced in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was campaigning for president. The loan for 40 Wall Street — $160 million — was then the Trump Organization’s biggest debt.

    The fortunes of 40 Wall Street have risen and fallen repeatedly since it was constructed in 1930. Once briefly in the running to become the world’s tallest skyscraper (before being eclipsed by the Chrysler Building and then others), the 71-story landmark had an illustrious history before falling into disrepair as it changed hands multiple times.

    Trump says in his book “Never Give Up” that he took over 40 Wall Street for $1 million during a down market in 1995. Others have reported the price as $10 million. Trump gave the property his signature treatment, decking out the lobby in Italian marble and bronze and christening it “The Trump Building.” Tenants such as American Express moved in.

    But the rent rolls suffered when big-name tenants fled to Midtown in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Less blue-chip operations replaced them. In recent years, there were more setbacks. About two years ago, for example, high-end food purveyor Dean & Deluca canceled plans to locate an 18,500-square-foot emporium on the higher-priced first floor. The space remains empty.

    The building at 40 Wall was underperforming, charging below-market rents, according to credit-rating agency Moody’s. Its profits were lagging.

    Trump’s company, which has sometimes struggled to obtain credit because of his history of bankruptcies and defaults, turned for relief to a financial institution where Donald Trump had a connection: Ladder Capital, which employs Jack Weisselberg, the son of the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg. Ladder is a publicly traded commercial real estate investment trust that reports more than $6 billion in assets. In 2015, and still today, Jack Weisselberg was an executive director whose job was to make loans.

    Trump and Jack Weisselberg had history together. Jack was at UBS, in its loan origination department, in 2006, when the Swiss bank loaned Trump $7 million for his piece of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Allen Weisselberg had bought a condo from Trump in one of his buildings for a below-market price of $152,500 in 2000. He deeded it to Jack three years later for about $148,000. Jack sold the unit for more than three times as much in 2006. (Jack Weisselberg declined to comment on Ladder’s loans or his relationship with the Trump Organization.)

    Even with a sympathetic lender, the struggles at 40 Wall Street would normally raise questions. Trump’s representatives needed to demonstrate signs of the building’s financial health if they wanted a new loan with a lower interest rate.

    They had a compelling piece of data, it seemed. Trump’s team told Ladder that occupancy was rebounding after registering a lackluster 58.9% on Dec. 31, 2012. Since then, Trump representatives reported, the building had signed new tenants. Income from them hadn’t fully been realized yet, largely because of free-rent deals, they said. But after 2015, they predicted, revenues would surge.

    “That’s a selling point for people in the business,” said Riordan, who was previously the executive director of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. Borrowers “want to show tremendous leasing momentum.” The steepness of such a rise in occupancy at the Trump building was unusual, Riordan and other experts said.

    Documents submitted to city property tax officials show no such run-up. Trump representatives reported to the tax authorities that the building was already 81% leased in 2012.

    “What is bizarre is that you have these tax filings that are totally different,” Riordan said. A gap of at least 10 percentage points between the two occupancy reports persisted for the next two years, before the figures in the tax and loan reports synced in January 2016.

    The portrayal of a rapid rise in occupancy, and the explanation that income would soon follow, were critical for the refinancing. Indeed, Ladder’s underwriters were predicting that 40 Wall Street’s profits would more than double after 2015. Having reviewed Trump’s financial statements and rent roll, they estimated the building would clear $22.6 million a year in net operating income.

    Ladder needed credit ratings agencies like Moody’s and Fitch to endorse its income expectations and give the loan a favorable rating, which would in turn make it easier for the next step of the plan: to package the loan as part of a bond, a so-called commercial mortgage-backed security, and sell it to investors. Without the expected rise in income, Riordan said, the loan size or terms would likely have needed to be renegotiated to satisfy the ratings agencies and investors, which would mean less favorable terms for Trump and Ladder. “There was a story crafted here,” Riordan said. “It’s contradicted by what we see in the tax filings.”

    Wallace, the University of California professor, added: “Especially in underwriting loans, you are supposed to truthfully report.” Both the lender and the borrower are required to supply accurate information, she said.

    Moody’s and Fitch analysts found the underwriter’s projections slightly too rosy, but Fitch conferred an investment-grade rating on the loan, allowing it to proceed as planned. Trump ultimately received a 10-year loan with a lower interest rate than the building previously had as well as terms that would allow him to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan.

    Once granted, the loan to 40 Wall Street ran into trouble: The year after it went through, the loan servicer put it on a “watch list” because of concerns that the building wasn’t making sufficient profit to pay the debt service with enough of a margin. It stayed on the list for three months. (Trump’s company has continued making payments.)

    As of 2018, the most recent year available, the building had never met the underwriters’ profit expectations, trailing by more than 8%, according to data from commercial real estate research service Trepp. Experts say that, given the amount of research underwriters do, a property typically meets their expectations fairly quickly.

    The 40 Wall Street documents contain discrepancies related to costs as well as to occupancy. Generally, there are “more opportunities to play games on the expense side,” said Ron Shapiro, an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School and a former bank senior vice president, “particularly because there are many more kinds of expenses.”

    Comparing specific expense items in both sets of records is challenging, because accountants may group categories differently in reports to tax and loan officials. But some differences on 40 Wall Street documents elicit head-scratching.

    For example, insurance costs in 2017 were listed as $744,521 in tax documents and $457,414 in loan records.

    Then there was the underlying lease. Trump technically doesn’t own 40 Wall Street. He pays the wealthy German family that owns the property for the right to rent the building to tenants. In 2015, both Trump’s report to tax authorities and a key loan disclosure document asserted that Trump’s company paid $1.65 million for these rights that year. But a line-by-line income and expense statement, which Trepp gathered from what the company reported to the loan servicer, reported the company paid about $1.24 million that year.

    “I don’t know why that would be off,” said Jason Hoffman, who is chair of the real estate committee for a professional association of certified public accountants in New York state. Like other experts, he said there are legitimate reasons why tax and loan filings might not line up perfectly. But Hoffman said the firm where he works makes sure the numbers match when it prepares both tax and loan documents for a client — or that it can explain why if they don’t.

    Financial information for the Trump International Hotel and Tower raises similar questions. Trump owns only a small portion of the building, which is located on Columbus Circle: two commercial spaces, which he rents out to a restaurant and a parking garage. Trump’s company told New York City tax officials it made about $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants there in 2017, records show. The company told loan officials it took in $1.67 million that year — more than twice as much. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the Columbus Circle property, Trump’s company reported gross income to tax authorities that was typically only about 81% of what it reported to the lender.

    Trump appeared to omit from tax documents income his company received from leasing space on the roof for television antennas, a ProPublica review found. The line on tax appeal forms for income from such communications equipment is blank on nine years of tax filings, even as loan documents listed the antennas as major sources of income.

    Trump has an easement to lease the roof space; he doesn’t own it. But three tax experts, including Melanie Brock, an appraiser and paralegal who has worked on hundreds of New York City tax cases, told ProPublica that the income should still be reported on the tax appeals forms.

    It’s hard to guess what might explain every inconsistency, said David Wilkes, a New York City tax lawyer who is chair of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys. But, he added, “My gut reaction is it seems like there’s something amiss there.”

    Tax records for Trump personally and for his business continue to be subjects of contention in multiple investigations. The Justice Department has intervened in the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, whose office has sought Trump’s personal tax returns. Congressional lawmakers investigating his business dealings have sought documents from his longtime accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars. Trump is fighting the subpoenas in court. (Bender did not respond to requests for comment.)

    Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said the committee is seeking to determine if Cohen’s testimony about Trump inflating and deflating his assets was accurate. Cummings asked for Mazars’ records related to Trump entities, as well as communications between Bender and Trump or Trump employees since 2009.

    Such communications, the subpoena stated, should include any related to potential concerns that information Trump or his representatives provided his accountants was “incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise unsatisfactory.”


    ______________

    Hear that? That's the sound of walls closing in.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  2. #302
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    In another display of what can only be described as narcissism Trump attempted to maneuver the parents of dead British teen Harry Dunn into a White House meeting with the woman who killed him in front of a pack of photographers.

    Dunn was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car being driven by the wife of a US diplomat. She fled to the US and the UK is pushing for her return & the waiving of diplomatic immunity. Yesterday Trump met with Dunn's parents at the White House. Apparently he also had the woman involved at the WH without telling them. They saw the press pack & sussed that something was wrong, refusing the photo op.

    What sort of person does this? Who tries to turn the grief of two parents in to a photo op where they are confronted with the woman who killed their son - the same woman who refuses to face justice for that death? This isn't a 'big' issue, but it is the sort of low level awfulness that just seems a daily occurrence under

    Trump. One more thing for the cultists to shrug off.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  3. #303
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    Trump attacks Mattis as overrated, obviously Trump doesn't use a mirror, and Mattis speaking from the dais responds brilliantly.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/polit...ech/index.html

  4. #304
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    this guy makes even good news....bad.

    ====

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/polit...hdadi-is-dead/

    Bigger than bin Laden? 3 striking things about Trump’s announcement that Baghdadi is dead.

    By
    Aaron Blake
    Oct. 27, 2019 at 11:07 a.m. EDT
    President Trump announced Sunday morning that a U.S. operation in Syria led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Three things about the announcement were striking.

    First is the amount of detail Trump provided — far more than to which we’re accustomed in such announcements. He talked about how long he knew about the operation, when he showed up in the Situation Room, how the operation was undertaken and how everyone died — including Baghdadi’s wives and children. He even provided some narrative of the deadly moment.

    He said Baghdadi was run down in a tunnel and that he had three of his children with him. Trump said Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” before detonating a vest he was wearing.

    Trump: ISIS leader Baghdadi 'was screaming, crying and whimpering'
    Speaking to reporters Oct. 27, President Trump said Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died "scared out of his mind." (The Washington Post)
    Asked how he knew what Baghdadi was doing in the moments before his death, Trump demurred. “I don’t want to talk about it, but he was screaming, crying and whimpering,” said the president, who repeatedly called Baghdadi a “coward.” “And he was scared out of his mind.”

    Second is the role the Kurds and Russia played.

    In the hours before Trump’s news conference, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said it was a joint operation between them and the United States.

    Trump portrayed the U.S.-allied Kurds, who have carried the brunt of the recent U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria and whose value as allies Trump has minimized, as playing more of a bit part.

    When Trump initially thanked others, in fact, he mentioned Russia first, then Syria, Turkey and Iraq.
    He added that there was also “certain support [the Kurds] were able to give us.”

    Later, Trump would credit Russia first in the news conference, saying it was “great” and that Iraq was “excellent.”

    He also disclosed that Russia was given a heads-up about the operation, even as top Democrats in Congress were not. “We told them, ‘We’re coming in.’ … And they said, ‘Thank you for telling us,’ ” Trump said. He added, “They did not know the mission.”


    Trump said, however, that he didn’t tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) because he worried about leaks spoiling the operation. Before the news conference, there were reports that Trump also hadn’t notified House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who is a leader of the impeachment inquiry against Trump but would generally be a member of Congress you’d inform about these things.

    Trump seems to be indicating that he trusts Russia with this information more than congressional Democrats, which will be a talking point in the days ahead. He also seems to be placing Russia ahead of the Kurds, even though Russia wasn’t actually involved in the mission, which seems a conspicuous choice.

    The third striking thing is the credit-taking. Trump wasn’t initially very forward about how much credit he thought he deserved for this. As he took questions, it was clear what he was angling for.

    Most significantly, he repeatedly alluded to the idea that Baghdadi’s death was a bigger moment than Osama bin Laden’s.
    Bin Laden was killed in 2011 on President Barack Obama’s watch, and Trump at the time accused Obama of taking credit for it.

    “This is the biggest one perhaps that we’ve ever captured,” Trump said Sunday, early in the question-and-answer portion of the news conference.

    Later, he added: “This is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever. Osama bin Laden was big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it, a country."

    Trump also returned to his wildly exaggerated claim that he had warned people about a bin Laden attack in a book a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes. One line about that showed just how much credit Trump intends on taking for all this in the days and months ahead.

    “I don’t get any credit for” the bin Laden warnings, he said. “But that’s okay. I never do. But here we are.”
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  5. #305
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    this guy makes even good news....bad.
    My head hurts just from reading that...even the part where he said "we" captured a dead man, even though I don't expect Trump to know the difference in the first place.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  6. #306
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Well if he is limited to one term, and ends up with Articles of Impeachment against him (makes him #4 in history), he will be left to the historians to assess. I wonder if he has any idea how badly he is going to come across in those assessments that will last forever. I would expect good old Grant might be happy when he no longer has to occupy the bottom of the worst list. He is truly one deplorable pos but then always has been...

  7. #307
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    Trump’s Error at the World Series
    The president made a rare public appearance before a crowd he hadn’t screened—and was loudly booed.

    If President Donald Trump is impeached, convicted, and removed from office, or defeated in next year’s election, the political backdrop of his downfall is unlikely to be better dramatized than it was last night during Game 5 of the World Series.

    Trump was in the stands with his wife, Melania, having announced that very morning that U.S. Special Forces had killed the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a daring raid. It wouldn’t have shocked me if that inspired a warm reception from the crowd. Remember when Osama bin Laden’s killing was announced? I was in Austin, Texas, where people were whooping and cheering in bars. President Barack Obama could have drawn applause anywhere in the United States that night.

    And the crowd at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., was applauding last night when the big screen in right-center field showed uniformed U.S. military personnel.

    But when the image changed to Donald and Melania in the stands, there was a sudden shift. The crowd booed. Loudly. Then fans in some sections of the stadium began to chant “Lock him up,” repurposing the rallying cry that Trump supporters have directed at Hillary Clinton since the 2016 presidential campaign.

    Trump was not pleased.


    The Washington Post reported that the Nationals hadn’t invited Trump—he just decided to attend—and that “during the fifth inning, two men held up signs that read ‘Veterans for Impeachment’ at their seats directly behind home plate.”

    At some point, an impeach trump banner was hung from an upper deck.


    As Jeremy Whaley aptly observed, “Things are little different when Trump goes into public and it is not a rally.” Indeed, Sunday’s boos will almost certainly make Trump even less likely to appear in public, save for official campaign rallies or other settings where he can use ticketing and security to curate the crowd.

    #LockHimUp was trending Sunday night on Trump’s favorite social-media platform, Twitter, as fans in the stadium posted video of the booing and chants from dozens of angles. And if social media isn’t quite real life, insofar as the stories that trend are mediated by algorithms and reflect narrow passions as often as popular beliefs, a chorus of boos during the World Series is very much real life, even granting the political demographics of the precincts that surround that stadium.

    Even in “blue” cities, jeering baseball fans are harder for Trump fans to dismiss than critical journalists or college professors or members of Congress or rivals for the presidency—and should this inspire copycats at other sporting events, Trump may live to regret the “Lock her up” chants he encouraged at his own rallies.
    ____________

    Granted, he lost Washington DC to Clinton by a staggering amount, so I'm not sure what he was expecting.

    Oh wait, yes I do. He was expecting that people were going to cheer him because of al-Baghdadi, just like when people were absolutely delirious with joy when bin Laden caught lead poisoning.

    Nothing in the world quite like seeing a narcissist crashing back down to Planet Earth. Schadenfreude? What schadenfreude?
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  8. #308
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    Well if he is limited to one term, and ends up with Articles of Impeachment against him (makes him #4 in history), he will be left to the historians to assess. I wonder if he has any idea how badly he is going to come across in those assessments that will last forever. I would expect good old Grant might be happy when he no longer has to occupy the bottom of the worst list. He is truly one deplorable pos but then always has been...
    He's absolutely terrified of impeachment. He loathes even the mere word "impeachment":

    "To me it's a dirty word, the word 'impeach.' A dirty, filthy, disgusting word."

    The thought of his legacy being one of just three impeached presidents has to just tear him up inside.

    Can't remember where I saw this but it's pretty much on point:
    That's pretty much the point, it is meant to be a dirty, filthy, disgusting word to describe an act so heinous committed by someone so high in office. Trump has shown time and time again that not only are those he chose for his administration are incompetent and lack the necessary skills or intellect for the positions they hold, he himself does not meet the standards. He doesn't understand the legal or political systems, he dictates what he wants and relies on those around him to just "make it happen". That is a visionary, not a leader but his vision is one of pure corruption to get what he wants (money, power, fame) regardless of how he achieves it or what it does to those around him. This is in fact how he ran his businesses, with many of them failing (including no less than 3 casinos). This man is unable to deliver on his promises because he has always failed to deliver on his promises, they mean nothing to him as long as he gets what he wants.

    He is afraid of being impeached because he knows it will ruin him and rightly so. The House may conclude impeachment is necessary but the Senate won't convict him of it. He'll stay in office but will strike back with vengeance against those who supported impeachment, their careers in ruins as well. Impeachment will remove any chance of re-election (like he has much of a chance anyway) and then the courts will begin action. He and his family (if not his whole administration) will be targeted for various crimes, many will be charged, convicted and sent to prison.

    America will begin the healing process but the next president will spend his/her entire first term fighting against the opposition due to the fiasco Trump has created and if re-elected the second term of doing what a president should have done in the first term. It is going to take at least 2 presidents to move beyond what this administration has done.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  9. #309
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    Trump’s Vulnerable Side

    Something that many people never learn about narcissists - never get a chance to see - is how vulnerable they are.

    I’ve watched this video about a dozen times now, looking at his expression, and Donald Trump’s face tells a little story.

    In the beginning of the video, you can see Trump’s projected persona. His chin deliberately up and forward, we see a picture of who Trump wants to be - who he believes is strong and respected - and this is the image he projects. This is what some refer to as the “false self.”

    The “false self” is the persona that narcissists create. To some degree, and to some narcissists, this is partially intentional, but overall it is largely something that occurs on a totally subconscious level.

    You see, narcissists are originally victims, in a very real sense.

    I won’t claim to know exactly what happened to Donald Trump in his early years (although we can definitely infer some things based on what’s been documented), but I will use a different example to illustrate the point.

    As very young children, our world is tiny. We have maybe one or two people we are fully dependent on for our needs - both physical and emotional.

    During early development, it‘s incredibly important that we can rely on these people to care enough about us to meet those needs.
    In a very real sense, we only see value in ourselves to the extent that these people (e.g. parents) see value in us.

    Now, at some point in our lives, we have all been emotionally hurt by people we care about - friends, significant others, etc... We all know how that feels.
    But for people who have been intentionally hurt by their own parents, this wound runs much deeper.

    Consider someone who, at a very young age, has almost no one else in the world to trust; they still define themselves by what is reflected back to them by their “light sources.”

    Now, imagine what happens to this young child when his only source of value suddenly withholds what he desperately needs emotionally, when he most needs it - and does so specifically because of the person that he is.

    As an example (this is not Trump, just an example)...

    (Suppose I should probably say trigger warning here, sexual abuse and otherwise)

    Imagine a child who is maybe 5,6,7 years old, who gets sexually abused by a distant relative.
    This is a bad situation, and the child doesn’t know what to do, and decides to talk to his parents.

    Instead of a normal, healthy response, the parents are self-centered themselves and their first thought is how this will look.
    They don’t recognize the child’s pain (they don’t value him enough to care).
    They tell him to never tell anyone (if you admit this no one will value you)

    They refuse to say anything to hold the “uncle” accountable, or prevent him from doing anything again (uncle has more value than you do)

    And, they make the child feel guilty for the position they are in (this happened because of you - this is who you are, this defines you now)

    Nearly worst case scenario.
    The only people who can help the child form a positive identity, have convinced this child that who he truly is - his true self - is embarrassing. Humiliating.
    Many people would shrink, and be deflated in every aspect of their life, without therapy.

    But we all naturally have different personality traits, and we all have different subconscious behaviors we use to respond to situations - behavioral adaptations.
    So there are some who, when convinced that their true self is worthless, will begin creating a “false self”
    All of us have a bit of narcissism. And we’ve all “affected” behaviors; fake it til you make it, some will say.

    But for someone who develops narcissistic personality disorder, their primary drive in life is to ensure that no one *ever* sees that humiliating true self ever again.

    If you grow up your entire life believing that no one could ever value the person who you are inside, you more than likely either live in outward shame (and develop other mental health issues), or you unconsciously hide that person away, and “become” a person that you idealize.

    So back to Trump.

    In this short video from the baseball game, it almost appears as if we can see the full range of this personality change, but in reverse.
    It begins with the projection of what he idealizes: the strong man.

    I get the sense that he wasn’t expecting the response.

    He’s initially projecting strength, resolve, uncaring what others think of him.

    The next thing we see is pride as they announce his name. This is what he is used to seeing at his rallies.
    He turns to Melania and grins, turning back and practically beaming, basking in the attention he’s receiving.

    But almost immediately, the boos start.

    The people around him instinctively try to manage his ego. They try to be jovial, chatting him up.
    His face is darkening a touch, but he can still go along for the moment - almost as if he’s laughing at the silly people booing.
    The laughing is false, and can’t last very long - he is stuck on television enduring this; a spectacle, with no one to lash out at, and no way to put an end to it.

    The affect begins to fade and fall, and a hint of wounded begins to appear.
    When his support is turned away from him, in the final frames of the video, his countenance has fallen, his visage is strained; the stiff upper lip is gone.

    This is the moment that he has, consciously and unconsciously spent nearly all of his time and energy trying to avoid.
    It isn’t necessarily the booing; it isn’t even the fact that the public sees him, and that he is a spectacle, although that’s a part of it.

    At this moment, he is being exposed as an embarrassment in front of some specific people he idealizes - that old wound being re-opened.

    Despite all the damage Donald Trump has done, and how dangerous he is, I’m not enjoying calling out and detailing his humiliation.
    In fact, while looking at through these pictures, I see a person who has issues and is really hurting in this moment.

    That’s one of the tricky things about narcissists - it’s not usually fun to watch someone get hurt, and their vulnerability is real, when you get to see it.
    But I wrote this because I wanted to make a couple of observations, not just about his appearance at the game tonight.

    Donald Trump’s greatest fear isn’t as simple as not being adored by everyone. He does use the adoration; it is important fuel to keep him going.

    His greatest fear - I believe - is being embarrassed and humiliated in front of the people he idealizes.

    Think of it this way...

    For much of his life, in spite of his wealth, Trump has been excluded from the high society, exclusive “old money” circles that he has desired to belong to.
    But he is an old school mobster, and becoming president has given him status, in his mind, to a different elite club.

    He is now at the top of the game with the biggest gangsters in history.
    Duterte. Kim. Assad. Erdogan. Putin.
    These are the men he idealizes, and he is showing them how valuable he is.

    Removal from office is something these men wouldn’t stand for.

    Removal from office - via impeachment or otherwise - will be publicly ejecting him from the the highest status he has ever achieved in his mind. It will be like kicking him out of the yacht club onto the street, while his parents laugh at him.

    That’s what drives him to avoid it.

    This short video clip is one of the only instances we’ve seen where Donald Trump has been forced to be exposed to some form of narcissistic injury, publicly. (The White House correspondents dinner also comes to mind - and he’s been trying to tear down Obama’s legacy).

    That being the case, the way he responds to what happened tonight might be instructive to those around him.
    Boos and chants at the ball game certainly don’t compare to being impeached and removed from office of course.

    But it might be helpful even so.

    Different types of narcissists can respond to injury in different ways. The most unaware can only rage and lash out at those they perceive to have caused them the slight.

    More conscious narcissists can game scenarios, and even self-deprecate to a great extent when warranted.
    So, to anyone spending time with the President tonight: pay attention to how he reacts over the next few days; see if he does anything retaliatory.

    Because his behavior tonight might possibly give us an indication of how he will handle other injuries that are coming his way.
    ______________

    Saw this lengthy commentary on Twitter. I'm almost tempted to have some sympathy for Trump.

    Almost.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  10. #310
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    Is the anti-Trump suburban revolt escalating? Watch Virginia

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant wanted to avoid talking about President Donald Trump as she courted voters this week on Ridgefield Green Way just outside Virginia's capital city. The middle-aged man at one door didn't want to talk about anything else.

    "I've only got one question. Do you support Trump?" he asked.

    "Yes," Dunnavant replied.

    "Then you've got my vote," he said.

    On the sidewalk a few minutes later, Dunnavant actively distanced herself from the Republican president, acknowledging he is deeply unpopular in her district — despite the doorway encounter. The 55-year-old OB-GYN said she'd prefer that Trump stay out of Virginia ahead of Tuesday's high-stakes elections.

    "I don't want to have Washington, D.C., replicated in Virginia," she told The Associated Press. "I'm running a campaign on state issues and getting state things done."

    Dunnavant's dance speaks to the dire threat Trump has created for Republicans in Virginia and, more broadly, suburbs across America. This is where higher-educated and more affluent voters — particularly women — have revolted against Trump's GOP. These areas leaned Republican in the past, but amid shifting demographics and Trump's turbulent presidency, they have transformed into the nation's premier political battleground.

    Nearly three years into Trump's administration, Virginia's leftward shift appears to be rapidly accelerating. Since the beginning of 2017, Democrats have won every statewide contest, made historic gains in the House of Delegates and picked up three additional congressional seats. And on Tuesday, Democrats are just a handful of new seats away from seizing control of both chambers of the Virginia legislature for the first time in more than two decades.

    Voters across several other states also head to the polls Tuesday, including Mississippi and Kentucky, whose high-profile gubernatorial races have attracted Trump's direct involvement.

    But more than anywhere, Virginia's lower-profile state legislative elections will test the magnitude of the GOP's suburban slide. Democratic victories could reshape the national political landscape in 2020 — and, perhaps more broadly, politics across the South for decades.

    Like Virginia, suburban North Carolina, Georgia and Texas have seen explosive growth and demographic shifts in recent years that have given Democrats real momentum, even if they have yet to break through.

    "We are a model for the South," said former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has served as a chief surrogate in the state's legislative elections.

    Vice President Mike Pence will rally voters in Virginia Beach on Saturday. But Trump, who is his party's most powerful political weapon, has been noticeably absent. Instead, the president dedicated time over the weekend to campaign in deep-red Mississippi and Kentucky.

    Virginia Republican Corey Stewart, an unapologetic Trump loyalist who was beaten badly in last year's U.S. Senate race, suggested Trump would help his party by rallying the base in Virginia in what is expected to be a relatively low-turnout election. Still, he feared that the elections could be "a complete rout" for Republicans.

    "Things are so bad right now in Virginia for a Republican like me," Stewart said. "Things are moving in the wrong direction in the suburbs."


    Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh had only this to say about the president's decision to bypass Virginia: "President Trump is focused on the places where he can have the greatest impact in 2019, and those are in states having governor's races."

    Trump may be a major factor in Virginia's off-year elections, but he was often a silent factor on the ground as suburban candidates scrambled across House and Senate districts knocking on doors to ensure their supporters' vote on Tuesday.

    Like many suburban neighborhoods across the nation, the voters here in Richmond's suburbs tend to have more education and more money than those in rural areas. It's located in Henrico County, where more than 42% of residents hold a college degree and the median household income is $66,447.

    They have also trended younger and more racially diverse in recent years. Nearly 30% of Henrico's population is African American and 8% is Asian, reflecting the changes in population growth since 2000 that have accompanied the county's leftward shift in recent elections.

    The voters here are aware of national politics, but interviews on the ground this week suggest many are more invested in local issues that affect their families. On the doorstep, voters are more likely to raise concerns about education, health care and, perhaps above all, gun violence.

    Still, one district voter, Elyse Ward, a 31-year-old marketing and technology manager who's expecting her first child later this month, said "it goes without saying" that Trump is on her mind as she weighs next week's election.

    "I'm ready for him to go," Ward said.

    Four years ago, the Republican Dunnavant won this Senate district by almost 20 points. This year, she's facing a fierce challenge from Debra Rodman, a college professor who said in an interview this week that Democrats in Virginia's legislature represent a "firewall against the craziness in Washington."

    "With Donald Trump in the White House, it's never been more important to vote in state election," says one of her campaign flyers.

    Yet Rodman has difficult questions to answer about her political party as well.

    Republicans in recent days have seized on Washington Democrats' push to impeach the president, hoping to cast Virginia's local elections as a referendum on impeachment.

    "Stop the impeachment witch hunt," one GOP mailer says, with pictures of former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff all wearing witch hats.

    Rodman was reluctant to talk impeachment, but she took a firm position when pressed.

    "Yeah, I do think he needs to be impeached," Rodman said with a sigh. "This is what our democracy is about, is having somebody who's going to represent the people, and right now I think we're in really tough times."

    She also distanced herself from some national Democrats' call to adopt a government-backed "Medicare for All" health care system and sidestepped questions about banning assault weapons. On health care, she favors a so-called public option that would give Americans the choice to keep their private insurance. And on guns, she said her immediate focus was "low-hanging fruit" like universal background checks and "red flag" laws.

    Dunnavant has sided with the Republican majority in the State House to block Democrats' push for such gun control measures. She opposes universal background checks, saying she doesn't have enough information to know if they would be effective.

    "I would not say I'm an expert. I think I want input from subject matter experts to see how that's going to work," she said.

    While some suburban moms may want more, the position is popular with the shrinking number of Trump loyalists in Dunnavant's suburban district.

    Back on Ridgefield Green Way, 65-year-old conservative Richard Delafosse said one thing above all is important to him this election season: "Keeping America great."
    _________________
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  11. #311
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    New Poll Shows Democratic Candidates Have Been Living in a Fantasy World

    Original NYTimes article about their own poll here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/u...ren-polls.html

    It is behind a paywall. So I'm posting this one instead.

    In 2018, Democratic candidates waded into hostile territory and flipped 40 House districts, many of them moderate or conservative in their makeup. In almost every instance, their formula centered on narrowing their target profile by avoiding controversial positions, and focusing obsessively on Republican weaknesses, primarily Donald Trump’s abuses of power and attempts to eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans.

    The Democratic presidential field has largely abandoned that model. Working from the premise that the country largely agrees with them on everything, or that agreeing with the majority of voters on issues is not necessary to win, the campaign has proceeded in blissful unawareness of the extremely high chance that Trump will win again.

    A new batch of swing state polls from the New York Times ought to deliver a bracing shock to Democrats. The polls find that, in six swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona — Trump is highly competitive. He trails Joe Biden there by the narrowest of margins, and leads Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

    Normally, it is a mistake to overreact to the findings of a single poll. In general, an outlier result should only marginally nudge our preexisting understanding of where public opinion stands. This case is different. To see why, you need to understand two interrelated flaws in the 2016 polling. First, they tended to under-sample white voters without college degrees. And this made them especially vulnerable to polling misses in a handful of states with disproportionately large numbers of white non-college voters. The Times found several months ago that Trump might well win 270 Electoral College votes even in the face of a larger national vote defeat than he suffered in 2016.

    All this is to say that, if you’ve been relying on national polls for your picture of the race, you’re probably living in la-la land. However broadly unpopular Trump may be, at the moment he is right on the cusp of victory.

    What about the fact Democrats crushed Trump’s party in the midterms? The new Times polling finds many of those voters are swinging back. Almost two-thirds of the people who supported Trump in 2016, and then a Democrat in the 2018 midterms, plan to vote for Trump again in 2020.

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    Perhaps some of that movement represents a desire by voters to check Trump’s power and restore divided government. But the poll contains substantial evidence that Trump’s party lost the midterms for the hoary yet true reason that Republicans took unpopular positions, especially on health care, and ceded the center. Rather than learn the lesson, Democrats instead appear intent on ceding it right back to them.

    The “center,” of course, is a somewhat hazy concept, subject both to overinterpretation and misinterpretation. Capturing the center isn’t the only reason politicians win elections, and some policies that Washington elites consider “radical” are in fact popular. Nonetheless, it really is true that there are a bunch of persuadable voters who can be pushed away from a party based on their perception that it’s too radical.

    And the Democratic presidential primary has been a disaster on this front. The debate has taken shape within a world formed by Twitter, in which the country is poised to leap into a new cultural and economic revolution, and even large chunks of the Democratic Party’s elected officials and voting base have fallen behind the times. As my colleague Ed Kilgore argues, the party’s left-wing intelligentsia have treated any appeals to voters in the center as a sign of being behind the times.

    Biden’s paper-thin lead over Trump in the swing states is largely attributable to the perception that he is more moderate than Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Three-quarters of those who would vote for Biden over Trump, but Trump over Warren, say they would prefer a more moderate Democratic nominee to a more liberal one, and a candidate who would find common ground with Republicans over one who would fight for a progressive agenda.

    There are lots of Democrats who are trying to run moderate campaigns. But the new environment in which they’re running has made it difficult for any of them to break through. There are many reasons the party’s mainstream has failed to exert itself. Biden’s name recognition and association with the popular Obama administration has blotted out alternatives, and the sheer number of center-left candidates has made it hard for any non-Biden to gain traction. Candidates with strong profiles, like Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, have struggled to gain attention, and proven politicians like Michael Bennet and Steve Bullock have failed even to qualify for debates.

    But in addition to those obstacles, they have all labored against the ingrained perception that the Democratic party has moved beyond Obama-like liberalism, and that incremental reform is timid and boring. The same dynamic was already beginning to form in 2016, though Hillary Clinton overcame it with a combination of name recognition and a series of leftward moves of her own to defuse progressive objections. Biden’s name brand has given him a head start with the half of the Democratic electorate that has moderate or conservative views. But it’s much harder for a newer moderate Democrat lacking that established identity to build a national constituency. The only avenue that has seemed to be open for a candidate to break into the top has been to excite activists, who are demanding positions far to the left of the median voter.

    The primary has not doomed Democrats. Warren and Sanders are still close enough to Trump that they can compete, and new events, like a recession or another scandal, could erode Trump’s base. But the party should look at its position a year before the election with real fear. The party’s presidential field has lost the plot.

  12. #312
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    Oh yeah, big time. It'll be the Dems alone that give Trump another 4 years.

    When Republicans talk about "The Dems know they don't have a candidate that beat Trump!!" They're not actually wrong.

    This is all those years of Obama dominating the party that are coming back, yet again, to bite them in the ass.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    Oh yeah, big time. It'll be the Dems alone that give Trump another 4 years.

    When Republicans talk about "The Dems know they don't have a candidate that beat Trump!!" They're not actually wrong.

    This is all those years of Obama dominating the party that are coming back, yet again, to bite them in the ass.
    Biden can probably beat him. But he has to win the nomination first which is becoming more difficult for him by the day with Warren and Sanders promising to turn the US into a socialist paradise where everything is free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firestorm View Post
    Biden can probably beat him. But he has to win the nomination first which is becoming more difficult for him by the day with Warren and Sanders promising to turn the US into a socialist paradise where everything is free.
    Biden is definitely the best chance of beating him, sure. Problem is, besides Warren and Sanders, Biden is showing is own signs of mental slippage and he's older than Trump.

    He's also got his own truckload of baggage.

    But he's definitely someone who can appeal to independents. Warren and Sanders are just plain DOA in that department.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  15. #315
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    for some context on the Jonathan Chait article: his claim to fame was a book stating that the 2009 stimulus was an act of quiet revolutionary genius that completely Changed America...just so everyone knows where he leans.

    about the substance of the piece, though, he is conflating some issues here.

    the Dems beat the GOP like a drum in 2018 because for the Dem base -and- for independents, Trump was always at the forefront of their minds.

    for the GOP base, Trump wasn't...and they correspondingly didn't really turn out. it's true the GOP took unpopular positions, but if that was the big factor, then Trump by extension is also doomed in 2020 because he's backing those very same positions!

    for 2020, there's going to be rocket-high enthusiasm on both sides. there's going to be an insane amount of partisanship. the idea that centrist positions is THE key to winning should have been decisively disproven in 2016, given both HRC's centrist record and Trump's own declared positions. centrism didn't save HRC in the swing states, and it sure won't save whomever the Dems pick as the nominee this go around.

    This is all those years of Obama dominating the party that are coming back, yet again, to bite them in the ass.
    Congressionally/state legislature-wise, yes. there's still some ways to go, even after 2018, to get back to parity.

    on the Presidential politics side of the house, I think things are actually pretty decent. Warren, Buttigieg, Harris, hell, I'll even throw in Biden (urgh)-- I'll take any of them, ANY DAY, over the likes of Kucinch and Kerry and Edwards and Howard Dean and Wesley Clark.

    the irony of Chait's argument is that those were essentially the very same arguments that HRC used against Obama in 2008!

    at this point in time, no one past us political junkies -really cares- about the Party primary process or the policies. when the party really gets going in 2020, then we'll see how the contenders stack up...and frankly, it's not an issue of policy, but rather over whom best looks like they can get a paralyzed system to DO something.

    and that "something" will be defined by the respective bases. doesn't matter if the Dems pick Biden or (god I hope not) Sanders or Warren; to the GOP, it will be the godless transsexual illegal immigrants coming over to take their guns. as for the Dems, Trump is close enough to a living breathing swear word as makes no difference.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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