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2020 American Political Scene

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    it's pretty funny how the National Review went from a serious, center-right Trump-hating organization to essentially dressed-up MAGA for people with IQs above 110.

    that entire article took several hundred words to say, without any evidence whatsoever, "Fake polls!!111"
    They even turned their guns on poor Rasmussen, Trump's favorite poll!

    Leave a comment:

  • astralis
    it's pretty funny how the National Review went from a serious, center-right Trump-hating organization to essentially dressed-up MAGA for people with IQs above 110.

    that entire article took several hundred words to say, without any evidence whatsoever, "Fake polls!!111"

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    Reports of Trump’s Political Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
    Biden’s purported lead is a lot shakier than his media allies will admit.

    The American Federation of Trump-Haters and Never-Trumpers have arrived again at their quadrennial promised land: Trump is finished, a wounded monster lurching about, baited by his innumerable enemies, lashing out mindlessly in all directions. His COVID-19 experience is a gift from God; the diligent lackey Bill Barr is a whipping boy for the long-promised Durham indictments’ non-appearance; raving and interrupting good Joe Biden in their debate has backfired; all the self-serving blowhardism is just miring him deeper in the quicksand as he sinks inexorably out of sight. The Trump era will soon be just a bad dream as the Democrats and their look-alike Republican extras regain control and the 90 percent of the federal bureaucracy that is monolithically Democratic sees off another crusading yokel who came to drain their swamp. What a relief that this horrifying aberration is finished and can go back to being someone we laugh at and poke with sharp sticks, as we move the state slowly to the left, addicting more and more Americans to the munificence of America in its endless quest to be cleansed of its white superiority and capitalist avarice.

    What is missing from this picture is the cautionary statement that it is an illusion. What we’re seeing is the media and parties and polls being pushed forward by the wall-to-wall Trump-hating assault team almost completely unattached from any serious canvass of public opinion. Even as almost all the polls come tumbling down showing a double-digit lead for Joe Biden, none of the states considered solidly red have moved, and Trump has, if anything, gained and in some cases taken the lead in the twelve potentially swing states that will determine the winner: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Yet even Rasmussen, a bold veteran pollster who has often been among the few upholders of Trump’s electoral viability, has collapsed and joined the mournful chorus of those projecting a crushing defeat for the administration.

    The discordant note in this crescendo of Democratic triumphalism is that believable state polls show Trump leading in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, and Ohio, and less than five points behind in the other six states except Nevada, where the margin is thought to be 6 percent. This is an election where it is all to play for. The formal and informal Democratic establishment convinced itself that the country had been repelled by Trump’s belligerency in his debate with Biden. There is no reason to think that the country was much impressed with it, but there is reason to believe that it wasn’t much impressed with Biden’s calling the president a “liar, clown, racist,” and telling him to “Shut up!” either. Trump had no monopoly on indignity in that debate and he easily won the exchange of points, including the heavy-handed but, in the circumstances, not altogether uncalled for: “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”

    Nor should it be assumed that the country followed the Trump-hating networks in comparing his jaunty wave from the White House balcony after he returned from Walter Reed Hospital after an extraordinarily rapid recovery from the coronavirus to a uniformed, jut-jawed Mussolini responding with a straight-right-arm salute from the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia to thousands of black-shirted followers shouting up in unison “Duce, Duce!” The same commentator was reminded of “the Czar family,” presumably referring to the Romanovs (whose balcony appearances were seldom photographed), but more likely thinking of the British royal family, which appears on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on appropriate occasions. President Trump would surely not be insulted by comparison with King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, the then princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, and Winston Churchill, appearing on the balcony to receive the applause of hundreds of thousands of their countrymen on the day of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, May 8, 1945. It does require, however, in respect of all of these historical precedents, a considerable and malicious imagination to be reminded of them by Trump waving to a handful of White House employees, security personnel, and media from an altitude of one floor. The professional Trump-haters are prepared to identify his every word and action with something pretentious, contemptible, or dishonest, though often they are quite uncontroversial. As Dr. Freud famously said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

    At some point, the majority of Americans will give Trump some credit for coming through the coronavirus as gallantly as he did, for accelerating the pursuit of the vaccine, and for the protection of the vulnerable, the revival of the economy, and the facts that over 99 percent of people infected with the virus survive it, none of which could be easily deduced from the relentless hysteria propagated by the Democratic media in order to justify an extended economic shutdown and lay the full responsibility for the economic consequences on the president’s allegedly incompetent response to the pandemic. Even media commentators who are not rabidly anti-Trump cannot resist implying that his excessive optimism at the onset of the pandemic, and some of the absurd and demeaning exchanges he had with members of the press at the daily sessions where he shouldered the vice president aside to speak for the commission, constituted mismanagement of the crisis rather than merely an inappropriate reappearance of the self-centered verbosity against the temptations of which this president is sometimes powerless. The distinction between substance and optics will assert itself.

    The Democrats were never going to get all the way to Election Day while keeping their quavering and wobbly candidate in his basement, ostensibly for health reasons. And they are not going to get all the way there without a substantial number of thoughtful voters reflecting upon the fact that there is no Democratic campaign except frenzied denigration of the president and an irrational super-spreading of panic about a virus that is not seriously dangerous to the overwhelming majority of the public. The country will not fail to notice that this campaign has been conducted on the candidate’s behalf by an unprecedentedly biased and unprofessional national political media. And contrary to widespread caricature, not all those who will remember that Trump cut their taxes, practically eliminated illegal immigration, made it much easier through deregulation to operate a small business, avoided a furious green assault on the petroleum and automobile industries, renegotiated poor trade deals, rallied America and much of the world to the threat posed by China, revived the concept of nuclear nonproliferation, reduced drug prices, and eliminated oil imports are Archie Bunker look-alikes in MAGA hats swilling beer in front of their television sets. And some will remember the evildoing of those who confected the Trump-Russia hoax, the obstructionist chicanery of the authors of the impeachment trial, and the questionable conduct of the Democratic candidate and his family in dubious financial endeavors in Ukraine and China.

    This mighty fest of mudslinging and defamation has undoubtedly denied the president the heavy reelection that he has earned. Having had as brilliant a first term as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, he deserves, as they did in 1936 and 1972, to take over 60 percent of the vote. He will not do that, but those who think he will be buried by 15 million votes are chronic Democrats replicating Talleyrand’s description of the Bourbons returning to Paris in Wellington’s baggage train after Waterloo: “They have forgotten nothing, and they have learned nothing.” They may learn an unpleasant lesson on November 3.

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  • TopHatter
    How Trump Sealed the GOP’s Suicide

    It didn’t have to go this way—with the GOP becoming a cult of personality suffused with authoritarianism.

    I first wrote about Donald Trump in a September 2015 column predicting his political self-annihilation:
    Slowly, inevitably, Trump will crack, flooding the maws of an avid media with a tsunami of whining, petty feuds, and overblown grievances. His audience will be watching, and not kindly—some out of sheer fascination with his self-destruction, more because most Americans are, at bottom, sensible. They want an optimistic leader who imbues them with hope, not a self- obsessed whiner whose endless psychodrama is, in the end, exhausting. Not only will they not want Donald Trump in the White House; they won’t want him in their living rooms. And one by one they will switch the channel, until Trump is left alone on a soundstage, and the lens into which he stares becomes an empty mirror.

    Okay, so I was five years and one presidency off. Still, better to be premature than to miss the inevitable end game: Because Trump can only be himself, a critical mass of Americans have become sick of his pathology.

    The Bulwark’s Tim Miller cites responses from a fresh poll of independents, a crucial voting bloc Trump desperately needs. Their shorthand descriptions beg analysis: “horrible human being,” “incredibly rude,” “terrible representative for our country,” “unfit to do the job,” “sexist and racist,” “idiot,” “arrogance,” “slimebag,” and, of course, “lies.” I merely summarize the implications for his campaign: Unpromising.

    Because Trump is immutably pathological, he’s incapable of growth as a politician or president. As pollster Sean Trende told the New Yorker:
    One of the big failings of Trump’s Presidency—and there are many—is that he never made the transition from an insurgent candidate to a President. I think he had a very effective insurgent campaign, and it was hard for Hillary Clinton. But, once he became President, he had no reason to listen to people who actually know stuff about politics, who would tell him, “Hey, you’re the President now. You need to put down that Twitter thing.” That’s great for your initial election campaign, but people don’t want their Presidents yelling at the Prime Minister of Denmark because she won’t sell him Greenland. . . . COVID was absolutely a layup for him. . . . People want to hear Presidents give moving speeches, even if what they do isn’t that effective. And he just couldn’t do it.

    When a president’s incapacities include inhumanity, self-exposure becomes malignant. Last weekend Trump reprised his “Evito” turn on the White House balcony, fusing Patti LuPone with Benito Mussolini in yet another display of heedless self-adoration before an audience clustered—the pandemic be damned—to appear bigger than it was.

    “We’re starting very, very big with our rallies,” Trump crowed, before repeating a claim he first made about COVID-19 roughly 216,000 deaths ago: “It’s going to disappear.” In the real America beyond Trump’s mirror of self, the resurgent coronavirus is causing almost 50,000 new cases per day.

    Yet Trump kicked off his renewed contagion tour with potential superspreader events: rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, using as props throngs of largely mask-free supporters crowded together in disregard of physical-distancing guidelines. Public health aside, this is political lunacy: He was speaking to the converted while reminding the larger electorate of his callous disregard for others—and highlighting his mismanagement of COVID-19 for whatever undecided voters remain.

    But he is mentally incapable of doing anything else—and pathetically needy for adulation. So he sequesters himself on pro-Trump media, running a one-man campaign geared only to arousing the supporters he already has.

    As Jonathan V. Last writes, “One of the truisms of politics is: Bad gets worse.” So does Trump. The latest Washington Post-ABC News national poll shows Biden leading by 12 points among likely voters. As to COVID, the Post reports, “Almost 2 in 3 voters say Trump did not take appropriate precautions to reduce the chances of catching the coronavirus, and 6 in 10 say they do not trust the administration to provide complete and accurate information about his health.” As for his handling of the pandemic, numerous surveys confirm that he’s irreversibly underwater.

    The more voters see him, the more his finite foundation crumbles. The Post poll shows that independent voters favor Biden by 52 to 40 percent—whereas among independents in 2016 Trump beat Clinton by four points. And the widening chasm among suburban women favors Biden by 28 points.

    This squares with polling averages maintained by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, both of which put Biden’s national margin at about 10 percent. Fresh surveys of battleground states show Biden leading comfortably in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, ahead in Arizona and Florida, and up by a hair in North Carolina.

    Politics, of course, is the art of addition. Psychologically maladaptive, Trump is practicing subtraction.

    His last hope is to squeeze yet more votes out of a shrinking demographic, his base of non-college-educated whites, enabling him to manufacture a synthetic Electoral College margin through voter suppression and disqualifying thousands of mail-in ballots cast for Democrats. Yet fresh polls in Michigan and Wisconsin suggest that white voters are defecting in significant numbers from Trump to Biden. Even the intervention of Republican congressmen, state legislatures, and judges to meddle with the Electoral College may not be enough to stave off defeat.

    How did the GOP find itself in this desperate, seamy dilemma? The short answer is four years of subservience to Trump. But it is nonetheless instructive to consider what the party had become before his advent—and how he might have helped save it had he been not only a normal person, but the unconventional political genius some conjured from the ether.

    By 2012, the GOP had come to rely on a partially overlapping base of evangelicals; whites without college degrees threatened by economic dislocation; and malcontents whose distrust of government partook of paranoia. These folks were not natural allies of the party of business or its wealthy donors. In exchange for pursuing the economic agenda of the wealthy, the GOP increasingly offered up a primal vision rooted in culture wars, contempt for government, and scapegoating blacks, immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.

    The real causes of blue-collar woes were globalization, the Great Recession, the housing crisis, and an information society which marginalized the undereducated. About this, the GOP elite did nothing—not about student debt, stagnant wages, dwindling benefits, diminishing job security, retraining for the new economy, or the widespread unaffordability of quality medical care. The epitome of their nihilism was Ted Cruz: a grandstanding opportunist who tried to shut down the government while assembling a stunted coalition of evangelicals, gun fanatics, nativists, climate-change deniers, and Tea Party atavists.

    By the primary season of 2016, that covered most of the GOP base. The party’s only realistic alternative to Cruz was an incendiary and ideologically unmoored interloper—Donald Trump.

    Had the RNC’s then-Chairman Reince Priebus and foresighted party officials and consultants gotten their way, this trajectory would have been different. After Mitt Romney lost in 2012, these seasoned professionals concluded that the GOP was headed for demographic oblivion. The result was the widely-touted “autopsy” which called for a comprehensive rethinking of Republican electoral strategy.

    Its analysis was unsparing—and proactive. The GOP had been “continually marginalizing itself,” said Sally Bradshaw, one of the autopsy’s authors. “We have lost the ability to be persuasive with or welcoming to those who don’t agree with us on every issue.”

    The party, she added, “needs to do better with women” and to become “inviting and inspiring.” Another of the autopsy’s authors warned that “if our party isn’t welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.” Among the solutions proposed was an extensive outreach to women, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and LGBT voters which included embracing “comprehensive immigration reform.”

    But that last, in particular, ran athwart the nativist passions roiling much of the GOP base. Faced with their fury for his cosponsorship of an immigration reform bill, Marco Rubio folded. Broadening the party’s appeal, it seemed clear, would require a nominee with the vision and gifts to propitiate its restive electorate.

    Enter Donald Trump. In 2013, he tweeted: “New @RNC report calls for embracing ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’ Does the @RNC have a death wish?”

    Smart Republicans foresaw the consequences. Said Jon Huntsman in 2016: “The party itself is less consequential than ever before, and . . . the tribal differences are increasingly irreconcilable. . . . If Trump prevails, he will have single-handedly upended the old Republican order and built a new movement in its place. The question then will be, is it sustainable?”

    Not in the long run, others forecast. Peter Wehner warned in 2016 that the GOP “is becoming redefined by Trump, and the question is, Can we jerk it back? . . . The Republican Party has to make its own inner peace with the changing demographics in America. . . . If it runs against Hispanics and other minorities, that ultimately can’t be sustained.”

    Nonsense, Trump tweeted: "Why can't the leaders of the Republican Party see that I am bringing in new voters by the millions-we are creating a larger, stronger party!"

    In 2020 he is proving himself wrong. But his victory in 2016, however transient and peculiar to its circumstances, foreclosed the path to a broader-based GOP.

    Particularly problematic is that Trump’s appeal—while fatally limited—has among the base a visceral depth which transcends loyalty to the party, its elected officials, or whatever threadbare ideas it retains. The party of Trump has become a cult of personality suffused with authoritarianism.

    As described by the Washington Post, the new book Authoritarian Nightmare by Bob Altemeyer and John Dean presents “data from a previously unpublished nationwide survey showing a striking desire for strong authoritarian leadership among Republican voters.” This squares with findings by Vanderbilt political scientist Larry Bartels summarized by the Post: “Many Republican voters hold strong authoritarian and anti-democratic beliefs, with racism being a key driver of those attitudes.”

    In the Altemeyer-Dean survey, roughly half of Trump supporters agreed with this statement: “Once our government leaders and the authorities condemn the dangerous elements in our society, it will be the duty of every patriotic citizen to help stomp out the rot that is poisoning our country from within.” Many Trump supporters, the authors conclude, “are submissive, fearful, and longing for a mighty leader who will protect them from life’s threats. They divide the world into friend and foe, with the latter greatly outnumbering the former.”

    As president, Trump has pushed the boundaries of our constitutional democracy to achieve unprecedented executive power. Not only do his followers support this, but elected Republicans have done nothing to stop him.

    The GOP is no longer about ideas like limited government, or the higher ideals of inclusiveness and an American Dream open to all. Its toxic compound of raw anger and nativist passion is, at bottom, about subjugating the demographic “other.”

    Before Trump, the GOP’s better angels were already enfeebled. In 2016 he killed them off.

    It is barely possible now to imagine the GOP had Trump been different. He came without ideology, propelled by a gift for embodying a potent but undefined populism. He might have become an agent of constructive reinvention, eschewing racism and xenophobia in favor of offering embattled middle-class and blue-collar workers genuine economic uplift. He could have reinstated fiscal responsibility by disdaining tax cuts for the wealthy. He might even have taken steps—if not to drain the swamp—at least to reform it.

    But that would have required real talent, sustained attention, and a genuine interest in governance. Instead this irredeemably vicious, vacant, and narcissistic demagogue unleashed white identity politics and the endless overreach of Republican donors
    This leads inexorably to the deadest of ends—a demographic death knell for his party and, for our democracy, the most grievous of wounds.

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  • TopHatter
    Last Exit From Autocracy
    America survived one Trump term. It wouldn’t survive a second.

    The most important ballot question in 2020 is not Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, or Democrat versus Republican. The most important question is: Will Trump get away with his corruption—will his crooked and authoritarian tactics succeed?

    If the answer is yes, be ready for more. Much more.

    Americans have lavished enormous powers on the presidency. They have also sought to bind those powers by law. Yet the Founders of the republic understood that law alone could never eliminate the risks inherent in the power of the presidency. They worried ceaselessly about the prospect of a truly bad man in the office—a Caesar or a Cromwell, as Alexander Hamilton fretted in “Federalist No. 21.” They built restraints: a complicated system for choosing the president, a Congress to constrain him, impeachment to remove him. Their solutions worked for two and a half centuries. In our time, the system failed.

    Through the Trump years, institutions have failed again and again to check corruption, abuse of power, and even pro-Trump violence.

    As Trump took office, I published a cover story in this magazine, arguing that his presidency could put the United States on the road to autocracy. “By all early indications,” I wrote, “the Trump presidency will corrode public integrity and the rule of law—and also do untold damage to American global leadership, the Western alliance, and democratic norms around the world. The damage has already begun, and it will not be soon or easily undone. Yet exactly how much damage is allowed to be done is an open question.”

    We can now measure the damage done. As we near the 2020 vote, the Trump administration is attempting to cripple the Postal Service to alter the election’s outcome. The president has successfully refused to comply with subpoenas from congressional committees chaired by members of the opposing party. He has ignored ethics guidelines, junked rules on security clearances, and shut down two counterintelligence investigations of his Russian business links, one by the FBI, the other by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He has assigned prison police and park police to new missions as street enforcers, bypassing the National Guard and the FBI. As in 2016, he is once again welcoming Russian help for his election campaign—only this time, he controls the agencies that are refusing to answer the questions of Congress and the American people.

    Those who would minimize the threat that Trump poses take solace in his personal weaknesses: his laziness, his ignorance of the mechanics of government. But the president is not acting alone. The Republican politicians who normally might have been expected to restrain Trump are instead enabling and empowering him.

    Perhaps the most consequential change Trump has wrought is in the Republican Party’s attitude toward democracy. I worked in the administration of George W. Bush, who was the first president since the 1880s to win the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote. Bush recognized this outcome as an enormous political problem. After the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, on December 13, 2000, the president-elect promised to govern in a bipartisan and conciliatory fashion: “I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation,” he said in a speech at the Texas state capitol, where he was finishing his term as governor. “The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect.”

    You may believe that Bush failed in that promise—but he made that promise because he recognized a problem. Two decades later, Trump has normalized the minority rule that seemed so abnormal in December 2000.

    Republicans in the Trump years have gotten used to competing under rules biased in their favor. They have come to fear that unless the rules favor them, they will lose. And so they have learned to think of biased rules as necessary, proper, and just—and to view any effort to correct those rules as a direct attack on their survival.

    What I wrote in 2017 has only become more true since: “We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered.”

    To understand how the U.S. system failed in Trump’s first term—and how it could fail further across another four years—let’s look closer at some of Trump’s abuses and the direction they could trend in a second term.

    Abuse of the Pardon Power

    On July 10, 2020, Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone. As Stone’s own communications showed, he had acted as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks in 2016. Had Stone cooperated with federal investigators, the revelations might have been dangerous to Trump. Instead, Stone lied to Congress and threatened other witnesses.

    Just as Stone was supposed to go to prison, Trump commuted his sentence. Commutation was more useful to the cover-up than an outright pardon. A commuted person retains his Fifth Amendment right not to testify; a pardoned person loses that right.

    Trump’s clemency to Stone reminded others who might hold guilty knowledge—people like Paul Manafort and Ghislaine Maxwell—of the potential benefits to them of staying silent about Trump.

    How did Trump get away with using a public power for personal advantage in this way? There’s nothing to stop him. The Constitution vests the pardon power in the president. Long-established government practices have discouraged presidents from using it on a whim. But a second-term Trump could demand that associates break the law for him—and then protect them when they are caught and face punishment. He could pardon his relatives—and even try to pardon himself.

    Abuse of Government Resources for Personal Gain

    On August 28, 2020, after the president broke with precedent—and, if federal employees besides the president and vice president were involved in planning the event, possibly violated the law—by accepting the Republican nomination on White House grounds, The New York Times reported:

    Mr. Trump’s aides said he enjoyed the frustration and anger he caused by holding a political event on the South Lawn of the White House, shattering conventional norms and raising questions about ethics law violations. He relished the fact that no one could do anything to stop him, said the aides, who spoke anonymously to discuss internal conversations.

    “No one could do anything to stop him.”No one has stopped Trump from directing taxpayer dollars to his personal businesses. No one has stopped him from defying congressional subpoenas looking into whether he was violating tax and banking laws. No one has stopped him from hiring and promoting his relatives. No one has stopped him from using government resources for partisan purposes. No one has stopped him from pressuring and cajoling foreign governments to help his reelection campaign. No one has stopped him from using his power over the Postal Service to discourage voting that he thinks will hurt him.

    Trump found it surprisingly easy to use the Justice Department as a shield against curtailment of his own wrongdoing. The Hatch Act forbids most uses of government resources for partisan purposes. By long-standing courtesy, however, enforcement of that law against senior presidential appointees is left to the president. It’s just assumed that the president will want to comply. But what if he does not? The independent federal agency tasked with enforcing the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel, has found nine senior Trump aides in violation of the law, and has recommended that Trump request their resignation. He has ignored that recommendation.

    “No one could do anything to stop him. ”In his first term, Trump purged the inspectors general from Cabinet departments and punished whistleblowers. In a second Trump term, the administration would operate ever more opaquely to cover up corruption and breaches in national security. The Justice Department would be debauched ever more radically, becoming Trump’s own law firm and spending taxpayer dollars to defend him against the consequences of his personal wrongdoing. The hyper-politicization of the Justice and Homeland Security Departments would spread to other agencies. The last vestiges of ethics and independence in the Republican Party would gutter out.

    Directing Public Funds to Himself and His Companies

    In the 230-year history of the United States, no president before Trump had ever tried to direct public dollars to his own companies—so no Congress had ever bothered to specifically outlaw such activity. American ethics law instead relies heavily on disclosure. When the disclosure rules were instituted half a century ago, the assumption was that, if provided with the necessary information, the political system would police wrongdoing.

    But that assumption originated in a time when the parties were less cohesive—and the public less polarized—than now. Trump’s superpower is his absolute shamelessness. He steals in plain view. He accepts bribes in a hotel located smack in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. His supporters do not object. His party in Congress is acquiescent. This level of corruption in American life is unprecedented. Trump has actually pocketed more from the Republican Party than he has from the U.S. Treasury—money you would imagine that Republicans donated to elect other Republicans and enact their favored policies, not to enrich Trump—yet the party and its candidates continue to book event after event at Trump properties, proving loyalty by allowing themselves to be pillaged. A willingness to line the Trump family’s pockets has become a mark of obeisance and identity, like wearing cowboy boots during the George W. Bush administration.

    The result of this almost-universal Republican complicity in Trump’s personal corruption has been the neutering of Congress’s ability to act when corruption is disclosed. In the past, a subpoena from Congress was a subpoena from Congress; all of its members shared an interest in seeing it obeyed. Now a subpoena is merely an invitation from whichever party happens to hold a majority in the chamber that issued it. Republicans in the House cheerfully support Trump when he defies subpoenas from Democratic chairs, setting a precedent that probably will someday be used against them.

    Trump has a lot to hide, both as president and as a businessman. The price of his political and economic survival has been the destruction of oversight by Congress and the discrediting of honest reporting by responsible media. In a second Trump term, radical gerrymandering and ever more extreme voter suppression by Republican governors would become the party’s only path to survival in a country where a majority of the electorate strongly opposes Trump and his party. The GOP would complete its transformation into an avowedly antidemocratic party.

    Inciting Political Violence

    Trump has used violence as a political resource since he first declared his candidacy, in the summer of 2015. But as his reelection prospects have dimmed in 2020, political violence has become central to Trump’s message. He wants more of it. After video circulated that appeared to show Kyle Rittenhouse shooting and killing two people and wounding a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, Trump liked a tweet declaring that “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.” “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Fox & Friends on August 27. Two nights later, a 600-vehicle caravan of Trump supporters headed into downtown Portland, Oregon, firing paintball guns and pepper spray, driving toward a confrontation during which one of them was shot dead.

    The people best positioned to regulate the level of political violence in the country are local police, whom Trump has again and again urged to do their work in ways that support him, no matter how “tough” that requires them to be. The police are represented by unions often aligned with the Trump campaign. “I can tell you,” Trump said in a March 2019 interview with Breitbart News, “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

    Trump’s appeal is founded on a racial consciousness and a racial resentment that have stimulated white racist terrorism in the United States and the world, from the New Zealand mosque slaughter (whose perpetrator invoked Trump) to the Pittsburgh synagogue murders to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Gilroy, California. In recent weeks, political violence has caused those deaths in Kenosha and Portland. A second Trump term will only incite more such horror.

    The man the Founders dreaded entered the high office they created—and proceeded to abuse that office in just the ways they feared. Now that man is seeking a second term, which would be even more abusive and dangerous. Trump’s election strategy is to weaponize the Electoral College to re-secure the presidency of the United States over the opposition of the majority of the people who live and vote there. If he can activate the fears of enough white people in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, he could succeed—defeating the much larger number of Americans who want him gone. Every plausible scenario of Electoral College success implies a popular-vote defeat even more lopsided than the 2.9 million votes he lost by in 2016.

    It’s a trick of authoritarian populists like Trump to proclaim themselves leaders of “the people,” even as large majorities of the electorate reject them. The authoritarian populist defines “the people” to exclude anyone who thinks differently. Only his followers count as legitimate citizens.

    Yet that does not mean the authoritarian populist respects his followers. He is exploiting their prejudices for his own benefit, not theirs. Trump uses power to enrich himself and weaken any institution of law or ethics that gets in the way of his self-enrichment. He holds power by inflaming resentments and hatreds. A second term will mean more stealing, more institution-wrecking, more incitement of bigotry.

    Legend has it that in the 1870s, “Boss” William Tweed, the famously corrupt New York City politician, taunted his critics by saying, “What are you going to do about it?”* Trump’s relentless defiance of law and decency does the same. Congress has done nothing. So it’s up to voters.

    Voters in 2020 will go to the polls in the midst of a terrible economic recession, with millions out of work because of Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. But the country is facing a democratic recession too, a from-the-top squeeze on the freedom of ordinary people to influence their government. Will the president follow laws or ignore them? Will public money be used for public purposes—or be redirected to profit Trump and his cronies? Will elections be run fairly—or be manipulated by the president’s party to prevent opposing votes from being cast and counted? Will majority rule remain the American way? Or will minority rule become not a freak event but an enduring habit? These questions are on the ballot as Americans go into the voting booth.

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  • TopHatter
    Famed Navy SEAL pushes back after Trump amplifies baseless bin Laden conspiracy theory
    The former Navy SEAL known for his role in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden is pushing back after President Donald Trump amplified conspiracy theories that the terrorist leader's death was a hoax.

    Robert O'Neill, who says he killed bin Laden in the 2011 raid, has rebuffed Trump and others in several tweets for promoting the conspiracy theory that bin Laden's body double was instead killed.

    "Very brave men said [goodbye] to their kids to go kill Osama bin Laden. We were given the order by President Obama. It was not a body double," O'Neill tweeted on Tuesday. "Thank you Mr. President. Happy birthday @USNavy."

    The response from the former Navy SEAL came after the president on Tuesday retweeted a QAnon-linked account that promoted a baseless conspiracy theory alleging that bin Laden is still alive and his body double was instead killed. The account has since been suspended. Trump retweeted another video on Wednesday promoting conspiracy theories about bin Laden's death.

    A White House spokesperson did not immediately comment.

    O'Neill, a Trump supporter who was banned from all Delta flights in August after he published a photo of himself not wearing a mask in the cabin, pushed back against the conspiracy theory in several tweets.

    "Shit. I just found out that I killed Osama bin Johnson. Drinks are on me, I guess..." O'Neill added Tuesday evening.

    Bin Laden was killed in a 2011 raid by SEAL Team Six on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, ordered by then-President Barack Obama.

    Trump, meanwhile, has attacked his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, over the bin Laden raid.

    The president tweeted in September that Biden "opposed the mission to take out Osama bin Laden." He wrote in a follow-up tweet that, "If it were up to Joe, bin Laden and Soleimani would still be alive," referencing his decision to kill Iranian paramilitary commander Qassem Soleimani last year.

    Biden was reported to be a skeptic of a possible raid, though the former vice president's account of his advice to Obama has evolved.

    Oh Donnie, you just can't resist spitting on the military can you. Not even your own supporters are safe apparently.

    Maybe now O'Neil will realize what a flaming bag of dog shit Donald Trump is.

    What's your personal red line surfgun? Anything that Trump could do that's beyond the pale even for you?

    Leave a comment:

  • surfgun
    He also reportedly viewed Hunter’s self taken porn with a willing female.

    Leave a comment:

  • DOR
    Has anyone asked John Paul Mac Isaac why he was rummaging around in his client’s email? I don’t care if he got paid or not; that’s one hell of a problem right there.

    Leave a comment:

  • tbm3fan
    and I bought a used cell phone, purported to have been used by a Trump family member, off of eBay and the memory wasn't erased. Whoa, baby, look out I'm going to become dangerous...laughing madly out loud!
    Last edited by tbm3fan; 14 Oct 20,, 22:48.

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    An explosive New York Post story that's sending Trumpworld into a frenzy is riddled with holes and red flags
    • Trumpworld flew into a frenzy on Wednesday after the New York Post published a report purporting to show a "smoking-gun email" featuring Hunter Biden communicating with a Ukrainian official about meeting with his father, Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.
    • The Post's story had several red flags and holes that raise questions about its authenticity. The most glaring questions are whether the emails described in the story are legitimate, how they were uncovered, and how the Post obtained them.
    • The Post's report said that an unidentified computer-repair-shop owner discovered the emails and other compromising material about Hunter Biden after an unidentified person dropped off a water-damaged laptop last year to be repaired but never picked it up.
    • The repair shop owner was later identified as John Paul Mac Isaac, an avid Trump supporter who told several reporters who tracked him down that Trump's impeachment was a "sham." Isaac also did not have a clear grasp on the timeline of events that he initially described to the Post.
    • The Post said it learned of the emails' existence last month through Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, and obtained them through Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.
    • Both men have routinely pushed conspiracy theories about the Biden campaign's ties to Ukraine, and Giuliani met last year with a Ukrainian official who was sanctioned in September and accused of acting as a Russian agent.
    • In all, one expert said, the way the story was published appears to showcase "a standard tactic in disinformation operations."
    Trumpworld flew into a frenzy on Wednesday morning after the New York Post published what it described as a "smoking-gun email" showing Hunter Biden communicating with a Ukrainian official about meeting with his father, Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

    The Post said that in one email in May 2014, about a month after Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings, Vadym Pozharskyi, the third-ranking executive at Burisma, emailed him asking for "advice on how you could use your influence to convey a message" or "signal."

    In another email on April 17, 2015, the Post said, Pozharskyi thanked Hunter Biden for "inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some time together," adding, "It's realty an honor and pleasure."

    President Donald Trump's allies seized on the report as evidence that the Bidens were in bed with the Ukrainian government and that Hunter Biden took advantage of his position on Burisma's board to link his father with influential Ukrainian officials.

    "NEWS: Biden lied when he denied speaking to his 'son [Hunter] about his overseas business dealings,'" tweeted Kellyanne Conway, the former White House counselor.

    She said in another tweet that Hunter Biden joined the board "shortly after Obama put Joe Biden in charge of US relations with Ukraine." She added that the Post's report showed "Burisma's No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for 'advice on how you could use your INFLUENCE' on the company's behalf."

    "Joe Biden is a stone cold corrupt liar," a tweet from the Trump War Room account said. In another tweet, it said that "Joe Biden thinks the American people are suckers."

    Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley latched onto the story as well, tweeting: "Joe Biden using his office to benefit a Ukrainian oligarch after he said he didn't. He is going to need to answer questions about this."

    But a closer examination of the Post's story raises several red flags.

    Are the emails authentic? How were they uncovered? And how did the Post obtain them?
    The most glaring questions are whether the emails are authentic, how they were uncovered, and how the Post obtained them.

    The report said that in April 2019, an unidentified person dropped off a water-damaged MacBook Pro with the emails and other compromising material about Hunter Biden at an unidentified repair shop in Delaware, the Biden family's home state. The report said the repair shop's owner provided that information, but it did not give details on his identity.

    The owner of the repair shop said that he wasn't sure the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden but that the machine had a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation, the report said.

    The Post's report said that the person who dropped off the water-damaged laptop "never paid for the service or retrieved it or a hard drive on which its contents were stored, according to the shop owner, who said he tried repeatedly to contact the client."

    The shop's owner then contacted federal authorities about the laptop and the hard drive, the story said. The article also included a photo described as a federal court subpoena showing that the FBI seized the computer and the hard drive in December. But it's unclear why the bureau would need to subpoena or seize the hardware after the repair shop's owner alerted authorities to its existence on his own.

    The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    A reverse image search of one of the photos in the story indicated that the shop's owner is a man named John Paul Mac Isaac, who is an avid Trump supporter. His shop, called The Mac Shop, is located at 21a Trolley Square in Wilmington. The Post also did not strip the metadata from photos included in the article — a software engineer named Russel Neiss noted that the GPS information embedded in some of the images showed that the repair shop was in the same area.

    Isaac did not respond to multiple phone calls and text messages seeking comment. But he later confirmed to several reporters who tracked him down at his shop that he was the source of the story. Isaac also said Trump's impeachment was a "sham" and at one point cited the debunked right-wing conspiracy theory about the murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich.

    The Daily Beast reported that "throughout the entire interview, Isaac switched back and forth from saying he reached out to law enforcement after viewing the files in the laptop to saying that it was actually the Federal Bureau of Investigation that reached out to him."

    "At one point, Isaac claimed that he was emailing someone from the FBI about the laptop," the report said. "At another point he claimed a special agent from the Baltimore office had contacted him after he alerted the FBI to the device's existence. At another point, he said the FBI reached out to him for 'help accessing his drive.'"

    Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies who recently published a book called "Active Measures" that focuses on the history of disinformation, said that the way the purported emails surfaced in the first place was dubious.

    "This here is highly suspicious behavior," Rid tweeted after the Post's story was published. "Especially when viewed in the context of a political campaign. Creative, anonymous, credibility-generating, somewhat plausible. Exactly how a professional would surface disinformation and potentially forgeries."

    Rid added that the emails featured in the Post's story were published as images rather than in a file format, which "makes it harder to analyze and verify the files."

    "Note that photos, which appear to look genuine, could be there simply to add credibility to forged emails surfaced along with the photos. This would be a standard tactic in disinformation operations," he wrote.

    "Bottom line: *every individual little fact*—every email, every detail mentioned in an email—must be verified when data is surfaced in such a suspicious way, not just one piece of information, say a photo. It appears that The New York Post did not do that here."

    Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon resurface
    More important, the report said, the repair shop's owner made a copy of the hard drive and turned it over to Robert Costello, a defense attorney who represents former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, before giving the computer and the hard drive to the feds.

    Giuliani, Trump's personal defense lawyer, is the focus of a criminal investigation by the Manhattan US attorney's office into whether he violated foreign lobbying laws in Ukraine.

    The same month that the repair shop's owner was said to have given Giuliani's lawyer a copy of the hard drive, Giuliani met with a Ukrainian national named Andrii Derkach to discuss efforts to obtain damaging information on Joe Biden before the 2020 election. At the time, the House of Representatives was also conducting an impeachment inquiry into Trump centered on his efforts to strongarm the Ukrainian government into launching politically motivated investigations targeting the Bidens.

    The US Treasury last month sanctioned Derkach, saying he acted as a Russian agent and spread disinformation related to the election. Politico's Natasha Bertrand said on Wednesday that Derkach had been circulating misleading and deceptively edited material targeting Joe Biden for nearly a year.

    Late last month, the Post's story said, Steve Bannon told the outlet about the existence of the hard drive. Bannon is the former White House chief strategist and previously served as the Trump campaign's CEO and the head of the far-right website Breitbart News.

    The Post said Giuliani gave it a copy of the drive on Sunday, nearly a year after his lawyer was said to have been given a copy of it.

    The Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Megerian tweeted that when he asked Giuliani on Wednesday morning how long he'd had a copy of the hard drive, Giuliani responded: "Your interested in the wrong thing. This time the truth will not be defeated by process. I've got a lot more to go. We just started. Print a headline saying Lyin' Joe and we can talk."

    The content of the emails
    Then there's the content of the emails themselves.

    In the alleged April 2015 email to Hunter Biden, Pozharskyi thanks the vice president's son for inviting him to Washington, DC, to meet with the elder Biden. But there's no evidence Pozharskyi actually met Joe Biden.

    The Post then laid out an apparently explosive timeline: Less than eight months after Pozharskyi thanked Hunter Biden for the introduction, Joe Biden pressed the Ukrainian government to oust the prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin by "threatening to withhold a $1 billion US loan guarantee during a December 2015 trip" to Kyiv.

    "I looked at them and said: I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money," Joe Biden said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018. "Well, son of a bitch. He got fired."

    The Post highlighted that when he was fired, Shokin had said that he had "specific plans" to investigate Burisma that "included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden."

    The implication — which Trump, Giuliani, and their allies in the right-wing media have repeatedly floated — is that Joe Biden had Shokin fired to stymie an explosive criminal investigation into Burisma Holdings, whose board Hunter Biden was on at the time.

    However, as Business Insider reported last year, there's a big issue with that theory.

    Government officials and Ukrainian anticorruption advocates said Shokin had hampered the investigation into Burisma long before Joe Biden even stepped into the picture, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    In other words, Biden was doing the opposite of what Trump and Giuliani have implied: He was trying to oust a prosecutor who was slow-walking the investigation into Burisma, rather than actively targeting the company.

    Western diplomats have also said Shokin effectively shut down one such investigation into Burisma's founder in the UK by refusing to cooperate with authorities. And Bloomberg reported that the Burisma investigation was largely dormant when Biden called for Shokin to be fired.

    Most important, Biden represented the US's official position on the matter, one that was shared by many other Western governments and anticorruption activists in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

    The emails laid out in the Post's story also weren't included in a controversial report released last month by two Republican Senate chairmen about the details of Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine.

    Regardless, the conservative media and political sphere touted the Post's story on Wednesday as incontrovertible evidence that the president was right when he accused Biden of catering to corrupt Ukrainian interests to protect his son.

    The story gained little traction among more reputable sources, and Facebook said shortly after the article was published that it would slow its spread on the platform until third-party fact-checkers could verify its authenticity.

    "While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking partners," tweeted Andy Stone, a Facebook representative. "In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform."

    Later, Twitter also took action to limit the spread of the story on its platform by blocking users from linking to the Post's report, citing company rules against posting hacked material.

    I'm rather shocked and dismayed that surfgun didn't immediately jump on this one.

    I guess the New York Post isn't sufficiently right-wing for him.

    Leave a comment:

  • tbm3fan
    Originally posted by GVChamp View Post

    You should take a theatrical flourish with a grain of salt, but the Millennial generation is hyper-left compared to other generations, and irrationally skeptical of business.
    Riiight, whatever you think of yourself...

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  • astralis
    I'm not really sure that you have a consistent worldview if changing a candidate in one election is going to permanently cause a generation of change in one direction or the other. There are too many veto points in the system and Senators in particular are able to defy their own parties enough to defy these kinds of major changes. Interest groups don't mind playing strange bedfellows. Voters themselves are extremely fickle, both in terms of turnout and preference. Partisanship is high. Almost 10% of Obama voters ended up voting for Trump in 2016. We had several cycles where Ross Perot got a huge amount of the vote.
    it's a completely consistent worldview.

    given the respective coalitions, the Democrats are badly screwed by the very design of the US Senate, and to a lesser degree the House. the Dem base is essentially the cities, with ongoing electoral competition in the suburbs. political power is hugely concentrated in heavily-populated small areas, while the Senate represents territorial size.

    now, the Dems have general demographics in their favor, but as the Republicans demonstrated in 2010 and 2014, this can be counteracted to some extent with gerrymandering.

    so, given these two factors, we have the situation where one massive Dem wave in 2018 -still- led to the GOP picking up 2 Senate seats; with another expected Dem wave, a very slim Senate majority starting in 2021.

    these inherent political advantages are such that it takes repeated landslide victories by the Dems to wrangle a moderate lead, whereas it would just take one large-but-not-landslide GOP victory to create a significant lead.

    the biggest reason why Dems are so competitive now is because of the ridiculously incompetent administration response to COVID. even with Donald Trump insulting friend and foe, being an obvious danger to national security, being corrupt to the core, and having the discipline of a two-year old-- he was competitive all the way up until April of this year, and even now still has roughly a 15-20% chance of winning this.

    absent this set of fairly unique circumstances, the Congressional GOP would likely be holding onto the reins of power for a good long time to come.

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  • DOR
    There are a few deficit hawks remaining but they are few and far between. Ultimately even the deficit hawks aren't as concerned about revenue decreases compared to the spending increases, because it is practically impossible to roll back spending increases: ...

    Do a 180 on that and you'd be much closer.

    Spending is slow, and unless it gets put in the Mandatory category (very tough), it has to be renewed annually. Revenues are much quicker to change, but the deficit pseudo-hawks don't care because they and their buddies are the ones getting the totally useless massive tax breaks, GOPer administration after GOPer administration, massive economic crunch after massive economic crunch.

    Rolling back a tax cut, in GOPer jargon, is “he'll raise your taxes on Day One!”

    American corporate tax burden in 2019, according to Tax Foundation, was 25.89%, which is misleading because it doesn't include VAT and a host of other taxes typically applied to companies in other countries.

    The World Bank Doing Business in series (v. 2020) builds a corporate tax model that weighs VAT quite heavily, so the US looks much better there than do other economies. They also point out the other taxes, such as city and state (an extra 20% in NY, for example), employment, and capital gains. The US ranks 11 / 175.

    The Financial Freedom Index covers income, corporate, capital gains, VAT, duties, and inheritance taxes. The US is right in the middle, at 0.44 / 1.00.

    If you want low taxes, try Macau. 10%, but someone else is in charge of your foreign affairs and defense and you don't get anything in the way of social services.
    The oil leak in Keystone 1 is not concerning. It's a few acres of impacted wetland.

    OK, so you're not a local resident and don't depend on wetlands for the survival of your species. Got it.

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  • GVChamp
    Originally posted by astralis View Post

    I'd rather have legislative dominance compared to judicial dominance, because at fifth and last, the judicial branch is the weakest of the three branches. plus, you're talking about the difference between centrist judges and conservative ones here.

    Democrats wouldn't be the ones doing it, though: under the likely scenario, they'd be so badly cut down that they'd be screeching about minority privileges. the -only- reason why getting rid of the legislative filibuster and packing the court is even a thing -- and it's not even a very high-probability thing, because as I've mentioned before most elected Dems are remarkably reticent about actually playing realpolitik, unlike the Republicans -- is because there's now the prospect of unified, but not overwhelming, Dem control, and the prospect of Mitch McConnell being Mitch McConnell.

    the GOP wouldn't work the same way because McConnell instinctively knows that these veto points by definition assist the conservative party.

    yeah, the GOP as a party has let the inmates overrun the asylum. the same party which could dutifully trot out McCain and Romney couldn't do it again in 2016, and now they're going to pay the price for this inability, as Trump will now likely be beaten to the ground worse than either, and take the GOP Senate with him.


    because if the GOP was able to nominate people like Larry Hogan or Charlie Baker on the national level in 2016, we'd probably be headed for a generation worth of conservative dominance at this point.
    I'm not really sure that you have a consistent worldview if changing a candidate in one election is going to permanently cause a generation of change in one direction or the other. There are too many veto points in the system and Senators in particular are able to defy their own parties enough to defy these kinds of major changes. Interest groups don't mind playing strange bedfellows. Voters themselves are extremely fickle, both in terms of turnout and preference. Partisanship is high. Almost 10% of Obama voters ended up voting for Trump in 2016. We had several cycles where Ross Perot got a huge amount of the vote.

    4 cycles from now is 16 years.
    2000: Trump running for a Reform Party Nomination
    1992:Obama just graduates Law School and becomes a Visiting Professor
    1984: Dubya sells a failed oil company, 6 years after losing a House race
    1976: Clinton elected state AG

    So 4 cycles from now, you have a couple of possible candidates:
    -Kanye West
    -Lauren Beck
    -Jeb Bush Jr
    -Richard Finneran

    Or maybe someone entirely different.

    I have some suspicion of general TRENDS, but exacts, specifically with regards to candidates? No idea. Though it honestly would not surprise me to see Kanye West leading either ticket in 2036.

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  • GVChamp
    Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post

    I must correct myself and removed center from center right. The first clue was "so many of them are basically commies" There are very few commies in this country compared to fascists by a wide, wide margin. Now while there are some things about Millennials that bug me being commie is not one of them as I see very few through my glasses compared to what you see through your blinders. The next clue was everything else you said which looks like it was lifted off a FOX website therefore making it babble.
    You should take a theatrical flourish with a grain of salt, but the Millennial generation is hyper-left compared to other generations, and irrationally skeptical of business.

    If you think I sound like Fox News, you live in a bubble, which is probably why you think I'm arch-conservative. Fox News aficionados are off railing about mail-in voting and illegal immigrants voting and Russia-Gate and whatever else Tucker Carlson is on about right now. These are not my interests.

    What center-right Twitter feed is complaining about today:
    -Amazon taxes: if you reinvest your profits, you have no earnings and do not pay taxes
    -Kamala Harris establishing who she is: a shameless careerist who believes nobody can stop her (which is a satirical play on the attack on ACB, which would be characterized as obviously sexist if aimed at a Democrat)
    -Mocking Kamala for failing because she ran a Very Online campaign, basically code word for Kamala running as an extremist and that's why she lost (note, this is why I think most of the other people in my ideological sphere are fools: she is in position to be one-heartbeat-away and be the presumptive frontrunner if Biden loses or chooses not to run in 2024, precisely BECAUSE she ran the Very Online campaign. A vote for Biden is a vote for extremism, full stop).
    -Mocking Al Franken trying to say "what I would ask if I were still in the Senate"
    -Complaining about the general nastiness of US politics, specifically singling out the President, and specifically exempting Biden from criticism

    I could go on, but none of it is Fox News Narrative, because none of these people are in the Fox News Demographic.

    I'm going to guess that you didn't actually look at the links provided. You mentioned you're quite busy, so I'll spell things out right here:

    Unnecessary tax cuts cause the deficit to balloon? No, I don't like the deficit to balloon. Not sure how liking that would make me center right. Also, my taxes apparently went up so I don't even have a few pennies to add to yours. You say they have a chance to become permanent. Well, give me a call when they do. Because right now it's only corporations and the wealthy that have permanent ones in the bag, not you or I.

    The oil pipelines aren't safer than existing ones because I'm fairly certain that the Keystone 1 Pipeline that leaked about 383,040 gallons of oil wasn't exactly "safe". That's just one example but I don't know if you have time or the care to read any more. Not sure how liking a 383,000 gallon oil leak would make me center right.

    No, ISIS is not defeated and they are in fact growing again. And, no, I don't like it when America's allies are thrown into the furnace. Not sure how liking that would make me center right.

    No, thinking that gays should be allowed to get married if they want was not only an "extreme liberal" position. It's also a libertarian position. Also I've never once spoken even passionately about gay marriage until now, let alone "temper tantrums", but by all means, please provide WAB links to where I have.

    No, "president above the law" is not a mischaracterization. It's literally what Trump and his lawyers have been arguing all the way up to the Supreme Court. This is not a liberal or media talking point, as surfgun likes to pretend. To repeat: It's literally what Trump and his lawyers have been arguing all the way up to the Supreme Court. This is part of the court record.

    And, I'm not sure what SCOTUS decision that you're talking about because no liberal judge disagreed with me. They disagreed with what Trump and his lawyers have been arguing all along: That the President is immune from prosecution (to say nothing of "mere" investigation) up to and including the President shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. In other words, Trump and his lawyers argued that the President is above the law. I mean, what would you call it if someone was immune to everything from murder charges on down to a jaywalking citation?

    Healthcare has to get passed through the Senate? True! But you're putting the cart before the horse here. You have to have a plan, even a basic framework of a plan, to put before the Senate and Trump has spent the last 4 years doing fuck all about presenting a plan....other than lying about it with every breath. He Has No Plan And He Never Did.
    There are a few deficit hawks remaining but they are few and far between. Ultimately even the deficit hawks aren't as concerned about revenue decreases compared to the spending increases, because it is practically impossible to roll back spending increases: see the Biden campaign saying the only problem with Obamacare is that the subsidies just ain't high enough, so now we need to spend even MORE money to make health care equitable. Tax cuts are hard to roll back, but ultimately CAN be rolled back. Even the Trump tax cuts don't reduce the top rate down to Bush-era levels. Shifting the overall tax burden away from corporations is a GOOD thing. The corporate tax rate in the US is much too high and punishes companies that are not playing shell-games to move their income off-shore. Those types of movements should be closed, but that's not something you can just hand-wave. It's a long-term move that involves court battles, even in the EU where they actually have institutions that can handle this type of thing (Ireland is still a tax haven, and they've had decades to sort it out!)

    Despite the overall debt increase, due to low interest rates, the actual burden of the debt is substantially lower than the 80s or 90s, though increasingly a cause for a concern, though adding an extra trillion dollars in annual expenses between 2014 and 2019 does not help.

    The oil leak in Keystone 1 is not concerning. It's a few acres of impacted wetland. We have far worse environmental threats that we live with every day and should spend more money on mitigating. This project would be expected to deliver billions in value based on its initial investments.

    ISIS is effectively gone. They hold no territory of note and have no integrity. A far cry from when they were terrorizing cities across Iraq. Our partners in Syria were ultimately geopolitical liabilities committing us to violent confrontations with EVERYONE in the Middle East, with no exit strategy. Yes, we all had a good chuckle when we wasted a few hundred Russian mercs, but that's just a preview of what you are effectively signing us up for by trying to form a permanent partnership with one of the few Middle Eastern groups hated more than Jews....most of which requires alienating actual key strategic allies or people we would rather not have hate us.

    Libertarian is not center-right. If you want to be libertarian, be libertarian. The libertarians I know want a full repeal of the NFA and they don't seem too fond of the income taxes you are arguing for. The LP has a platform on gay marriage, obviously, but the actual libertarians I talk to (including my next-door neighbor and the host of the housewarming party I attended last weekend: these aren't guys I just casually know) think there shouldn't BE government marriage, or at least have marriage contracts agreed to by the actual consenting adults rather than a basket of rights/obligations set forth by the state government. Either way, again, this nation was majority against gay marriage until relatively recently. Judges are insulated from popular opinion, so while you and your elected representatives might change your mind on a whim, judges usually don't. I would like judges that respect prior opinions and be careful about changing them, but I don't want judges that are as fickle as the electorate or the House. That's why judges are appointed. So if they appoint a judge who thinks Obergfell was f'd up, I don't have a problem with that.

    You're also confusing the President's arguments with the SC finding. You were suggesting the conservative judges were agreeing with the President that he is "above the law," and that's not what they found. These are not just stooges going along with whatever Trump says. Again, they are relatively insulated, so they don't really have to care about what Trump thinks.

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