Trump’s legal memo to Robert Mueller is a recipe for tyranny

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Trump’s legal memo to Robert Mueller is a recipe for tyranny

A clear and present danger to the rule of law

Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Essentially all presidents sooner or later end up commissioning lawyers to put forward an expansive view of presidential power, but those lawyers take pains to argue that they are notmaking the case for a totally unchecked executive whose existence would pose a fundamental threat to American values.

Donald Trump, however, is a different kind of president.

In a 20-page memo written by Trump’s legal team and delivered to Robert Mueller, as reported by the New York Time’s this weekend, they make an unusually frank case for a tyrannical interpretation of presidential power.

Trump’s lawyers say he has unlimited power over criminal justice

The key passage in the memo is one in which Trump’s lawyers argue that not only was there nothing shady going on when FBI Director James Comey got fired there isn’t even any potentialshadiness to investigate because the president is allowed to be as shady as he wants to be when it comes to overseeing federal law enforcement. He can fire whoever he wants. Shut down any investigation or open up a new one.

Indeed, the President not only has unfettered statutory and Constitutional authority to terminate the FBI Director, he also has Constitutional authority to direct the Justice Department to open or close an investigation, and, of course, the power to pardon any person before, during, or after an investigation and/or conviction. Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.

This is a particularly extreme version of the “unitary executive” doctrine that conservative legal scholars sometimes appeal to (especially when there’s a Republican president), drawing on the notion that the executive branch of government — including the federal police agencies and federal prosecutors — are a single entity personified by the president.

But to push that logic into this terrain would not only give the president carte blanche to persecute his enemies but essentially vitiate the idea that there are any enforceable laws at all.

Donald Trump’s impunity store

Consider that if the memo is correct, there would be nothing wrong with Trump setting up a booth somewhere in Washington, DC where wealthy individuals could hand checks to Trump, and in exchange Trump would make whatever federal legal trouble they are in go it away. You could call it “The Trump Hotel” or maybe bundle a room to stay in along with the legal impunity.

Having cut your check, you’d then have carte blanche to commit bank fraud or dump toxic waste in violation of the Clean Water Act or whatever else you want to do. Tony Soprano could get the feds off his case, and so could the perpetrators of the next Enron fraud or whatever else.

Perhaps most egregiously, since Washington DC isn’t a state all criminal law here is federal criminal law, so the president could have his staff murder opposition party senators or inconvenient judges and then block any investigation into what’s happening.

Of course, as the memo notes, to an extent this kind of power to undermine the rule of law already exists in the form of the essentially unlimited pardon power. This power has never been a good idea and it has been abused in the past by George H.W. Bush to kill the Iran-Contra investigation and by Bill Clinton to win his wife votes in a New York Senate race. Trump has started using the power abusively and capriciously early in his tenure in office in a disturbing way, but has not yet tried to pardon his way out of the Russia investigation in part because there is one important limit on the pardon power — you have to do it in public. The only check on pardons is political, but the political check is quite real (which is why both Bush and Clinton did their mischievous pardons as lame ducks) and the new theory that Trump can simply make whole investigations vanish would eliminate it.

This issue is bigger than Comey or Mueller

Much of the argument about Trump and the rule of law has focused rather narrowly on the particular case of Comey’s firing and the potential future dismissal of Robert Mueller.

These are important questions, in the sense that an FBI Director is an important person and a special counsel investigation is an important matter, but the memo is a reminder that they offer much too narrow a view of what the real extent of the problem is here.

One of the main purposes of the government is to protect the weak from exploitation at the hands of the strong by making certain forms of misconduct illegal. Trump’s assertion that he can simply waive-away investigations into misconduct because he is worried that the investigation might end badly for his friends or family members is toxic to that entire scheme. Trump, like most presidents, has plenty of rich and powerful friends and a much longer list of rich and powerful people who would like to be his friends.

If he really does have the power to just make anyone’s legal trouble go away because he happens to feel like it, then we’re all in a world of trouble.

U.S. Presidents And Scumbags

U.S. Presidents And Scumbags

 

In this past week we have heard the term ‘scumbag’ bantered around in the national media quite a bit. First we heard that this term was used in the book that will be being released tomorrow April 17th from the former Director of the FBI, James Comey. In his book Mr. Comey reportedly used this term in describing President Trump. Fittingly Mr. Trump then has repeatedly used this term in targeting Mr. Comey. As if we weren’t already aware of it, Mr. Trump like in his recent post Syrian missile attack tweet where he copied George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” disaster after he illegally invaded Iraq has shown that he is incapable of thinking up his own terms/words, he has to use others words. So, being the word ‘scumbag’ seems to be the word of the moment I thought that I would try to make a list of the biggest scumbag Presidents, at least that I could personally think of. Now, such a list is arbitrary as each one of us may well have a differing opinion on this matter. This list is about people/Presidents, whom I believe were/are the 10 worse scumbags, not simply whom I think were the 10 ‘worse’ overall Presidents.

 

It should be no surprise that 7 of the 10 on my list are men who have been Presidents during my personal lifetime as these would be people that I have known better than the earlier Office Holders. After I give you my list of ‘scumbags’ from ten down to number one I am going to give you another list, one that is my opinion on the Presidents within my personal life time. This list will start from my birth year (1956). This list will simply be my opinion of the worse to the best overall Presidents during this last 62 yrs. Both of these lists are just for fun, it is not as if my opinion matters or means anything more than anyone else’s opinion. Maybe you can just for the fun of it compile your own list to see if maybe we agree on anything concerning our lists. Okay, enough banter, now for the lists.

 

(SCUMBAG PRESIDENTS 10 DOWN TO NUMBER 1)

10) Jerry Ford   1974-1977   38th President

9) Bill Clinton   1993-2001   42nd President

8) James Buchanan  1857-1861   15th President

7) Andrew Johnson  1865-1869   17th President

6) Lyndon Johnson  1963-1969   36th President

5) George W. Bush 2001-2009   43rd President

4) George H.W. Bush  1989-1993  41st President

3) Richard Nixon   1969-1974   37th President

2) Andrew Jackson   1829-1837   7th President

  1. Donald Trump   2017-2019   45th President      (I believe that after the 2018 mid-term election is over and the Democrats have taken over control of both Houses of Congress from the Republicans that then and only then will the Republicans get the guts to vote with the Democrats and impeach Mr. Trump. We shall see what we shall see!)

(Now, this is my list of the Presidents in my life time 1956-2018 of how I personally rank them as far as the best to the worse. Please take a moment to compare them with what you think.) During my lifetime there have now been 12 different Presidents so I am going to rank them from the best (1st) to the worst (12th).

1) Ronald Reagan

2) Dwight Eisenhower

3) John Kennedy

4) Barack Obama

5) Jimmy Carter

6) Bill Clinton

7) Jerry Ford

8) Lyndon Johnson

9) George W. Bush

10) Richard Nixon

11) George H. W. Bush

12) Donald Trump

 

So, there are my two lists for what little they are worth. If nothing else it can be banter for around the water cooler this week. I am a registered Independent voter who has voted for some Democrats and for some Republicans throughout the years. In my lifetime as I said earlier there have been 12 Presidents, 7 have been Republicans and 5 Democrats. What I have noticed from this list I made the 5 Democrats hold mostly all of the ‘middle of the road’ spots.  This means that the top 2 spots went to Republicans and that the bottom 4, the worst 4 are all also Republicans. Just fodder for the thoughts, I hope you all have a good week, stay safe, God bless, Shalom.

 

Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming.

Image
Beto O’Rourke at Natachee’s Supper ’n Punch restaurant in Houston.CreditBryan Schutmaat for The New York Times

HOUSTON — Count me among the swelling ranks of the infatuated. I, too, have been Beto-struck.

I have seen the alternative to Ted Cruz — Lord knows we need an alternative to Ted Cruz — and he’s a peppy, rangy, toothy progressive with ratios of folksiness to urbanity and irreverence to earnestness that might well have been cooked up in some political laboratory. Could that formula enable Representative Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, to wrest Cruz’s seat in the Senate from him in November?

By now you’ve probably heard of Beto — seemingly no one calls him by his surname — and that in and of itself is a marvel. When else has a long-shot Senate candidate with no prior celebrity drawn so much coverage? He has been the subject of lengthy profiles in The Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, which bestowed upon him the mightiest political adjective of them all: “Kennedyesque.”

He even appeared last month on Bill Maher’s HBO show, generating headlines with his response to Maher’s characterization of Cruz.

“Don’t forget,” Maher said, “he’s a giant asshole.”

“That’s true,” Beto concurred.

It was a naughty swerve from his usual niceness, and over lunch in Houston on Thursday, he told me that he regretted it.

“I think I was just moving the conversation along,” Beto said. “Anyhow, I don’t think that Ted Cruz is an asshole.”

“You don’t?” I asked, incredulous.

“I certainly don’t think that publicly,” he answered.

Cruz is a rare and precious gift. He’s so loathed that any passable Democrat with a picayune chance of toppling him was bound to draw more attention and inspire more hope than the political dynamics warranted. While President Trump’s unpopularity endangers his party’s incumbents far and wide and Texas may indeed be getting bluer, the state has been very red for very long. The last time a Democrat won statewide office was 24 years ago.

But Beto is more than passable. Many of his campaign events are mobbed. People line up for selfies and then insist on hugs.

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Beto O’Rourke at a town hall meeting at the University of Houston on Thursday.CreditBryan Schutmaat for The New York Times

He’s raising money like mad. Last week he disclosed that in the first quarter of 2018 he took in $6.7 million, bringing his total haul to $13.2 million, which handily outpaces Cruz and is more than any Texas Democrat running for the Senate ever amassed. All of that cash came from individuals. He has sworn off money from PACs.

“Even the most skeptical person has to acknowledge that there’s something going on here,” Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “But is it something that can overcome the deep hole that any Democratic candidate in this state is in?”

Beto’s answer to those odds is an oddball campaign. This has freed him to be freewheeling. He has no speechwriter, because he never speaks from a fixed script. He has no pollster, because he’s not going by polls.

“No political consultant worth their salt would allow us to go to college campuses, because young people don’t vote,” he told a group of Latino leaders during a meeting on Thursday that I accompanied him to. “That’s why we don’t have a political consultant.”

His next event, in fact, was at the University of Houston.

He was driving himself from stop to stop in a rented red Dodge Caravan. There was a banana and bag of nuts beside him; his two campaign aides — the entirety of his traveling entourage — huddled with their smartphones in the back. “Their highest value in the car is cranking on stuff,” he told me. The steering and navigation could be left to him.

His Facebook followers already know this, because he does Facebook Live streams of much of his day, recounting all manner of tedium. Midday Wednesday he filled in followers on an electricity mishap during a convenience-store bathroom break. “I’m in the stall,” he recalled. “The lights are cut. Pitch black. I just freeze.”

On Thursday night, viewers beheld the action-packed minutes of him refueling the Caravan. “Our purchase came to $44.45,” he narrated. “Your contributions literally go into the gas tank.”

In late January, he did a 24-hour Facebook Live beginning with a run with several hundred supporters at dawn and continuing through a chat with all-night street cleaners. (When he had to shower or such, his wife, Amy, kept viewers engaged.)

I asked him why.

“How do I get your attention?” he answered. “You’ve seen politics before. You’ve seen the well-produced ads where I’m holding my wife’s hand and our kids are running down a hillside. You’re sick of that. How do I honor what’s going on now? Politics are changing dramatically. People are really looking for the most transparent, honest, direct way to connect with one another. And we’re going to find it.”

Beto, 45, lives in El Paso, grew up there and has spent most of his life in Texas, apart from college at Columbia University, where he majored in English. He and Amy have three children, ages 7, 9 and 11. He started a small technology company before he served on the El Paso City Council and then in Congress.

That background has somehow given him enough material that whenever a voter asks him a question — about health care or school safety or the treatment of veterans — he’s able to draw on some personal anecdote. After a town hall meeting on Thursday, two of the attendees whom I interviewed separately used the same adjective to praise him: “Relatable.”

He hits so many right notes that it’s eerie. During campaign swings last summer, when school was out, the family camped out at night in state parks. His two youngest kids learned all the words to George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” before an event in Amarillo, which they opened with an a cappella rendition.

He’s quick to validate voters’ ill will toward federal lawmakers, and he said, during that town hall, that only 9 percent of Americans approve of Congress. “You know that communism has an approval rating of 10 percent,” he added. “Chlamydia is at 8 percent. So Congress is in the sweet spot. But watch out! The chlamydia lobby is working it hard and they are going to move up and surpass Congress soon.”

But he’s also careful to praise his colleagues in the House. “There’s so much talent in the Democratic caucus,” he told me, “from Joaquin Castro to Cheri Bustos to Joe Kennedy to Hakeem Jeffries.” In that one seemingly off-the-cuff sentence, he managed to include a fellow Texan, a storied dynasty, both genders and multiple regions and races.

He talks about fried catfish one second, James Joyce the next. (The older of his two sons is named Ulysses.) He’s fluent in classic punk rock and contemporary country. He’s fluent in Spanish, too.

He’s clear about his beliefs that health care should be guaranteed, marijuana should be legal, Trump should be impeached and the border wall is ridiculous. That puts him to the left of many Texans. But he’s just as voluble about his exhausting effort to visit every county in Texas, including the most staunchly conservative ones, and about the need for people of all political stripes to be respected.

Beto is more than the anti-Cruz. He’s a political fable, holding out the happy if far-fetched possibility that a candidate’s effervescence matters more than a state’s partisan breakdown and that gumption beats any focus group.

“People are watching,” he told his town hall audience. “If we win this race in the right way, I guarantee you, it is going to change politics in the United States going forward.”

I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@FrankBruni) and join me on Facebook.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(Is The ‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?)

Right Turn

Trump melts down after Cohen raid — and only hurts himself

  
 April 10 at 9:00 AM 
 2:01
Trump fumes ‘attorney-client privilege is dead’ after FBI raid

President Trump tweeted his outrage at an FBI raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home and offices, calling it a “witch hunt.”

In an extraordinary series of events, the FBI executed a no-knock raid on President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel. The president, seated alongside his top military and civilian national security advisers to discuss a response to the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons, launched into a rant in which he did not rule out firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, accused law enforcement of bias, whined that Hillary Clinton was not being prosecuted, suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had behaved improperly in signing off on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, railed again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself (and thereby allowing the investigation proceed) and deemed execution of a warrant signed off on by a federal judge and approved by a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, both of whom he appointed, to be an “attack” on the country.
Let’s start with the raid. The Post reports:

Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, the second person said.
In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”

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What we don’t know is whether the suspected wrongdoing extends to Trump or is solely attributable to Cohen. (By referring the matter to the New York prosecutor, Mueller may have signaled this is not germane to the Russia investigation; however, any possible crimes concerning Stormy Daniels, for example, may or may not implicate Trump.) Whatever the FBI sweeps up may very well further enmesh Trump in an investigation in which what seemed like a series of separate topics — Trump’s personal finances, potential obstruction of justice, possible Russian collusion and hush money paid to a porn star — have begun to bleed into one another. Trump is as vulnerable as he has always been, in part because he plainly does not know what federal prosecutors now have in their possession and because intense pressure may be brought to bear on Cohen to “flip” on Trump.
Trump cannot take much comfort in the attorney-client privilege. For one thing, it applies to legal communications; if Cohen is acting as a businessman/”fixer,” no privilege may attach. Moreover, the attorney-client privilege cannot apply to communications that are part of a crime (e.g., a conspiracy to obstruct justice). Trump once said investigating his finances were a “red line” for Mueller; the latest move in raiding Cohen transgresses any limitation Trump could possibly have dreamed up. His reaction reflects his fury in not being able to fend off Mueller.
Trump’s response was disturbing on multiple levels.
First, Trump in essence declared war on the rule of law. “It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” said the president, who now equates the operation of the criminal-justice system under the rule of law to be an attack on the country. He is the country in his eyes. Those who challenge him are enemies of the country. There is no better formulation of his authoritarian, anti-democratic mindset than this.

 3:03
Opinion | Trump can fire Mueller, but that won’t get rid of the Russia investigation

Opinion | If President Trump fires the bane of his legal troubles, he could spark a legal and constitutional crisis.

Second, his tirade against Sessions should rekindle concerns that he is contemplating firing him and putting in a flunky to protect himself. “The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself,” Trump said. “Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.” That, too, is a picture-perfect distillation of his warped view of the presidency. He hands Mueller another admission that he thinks the DOJ should protect him from, instead of conducting investigations into criminal and counterintelligence matters.
Third, Trump’s attempts to discredit Mueller’s team and the FBI should highlight the necessity of Congress protecting the special counsel. (“This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”) When he says the investigation is a “witch hunt,” he may be plowing the way to fire Mueller and/or Rosenstein or refuse to cooperate with an interview. In either event, we would face a constitutional crisis.
Fourth, Trump’s insistence that his campaign has been exonerated from “collusion” (“So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, ‘Well, let’s keep going.’”) is baseless. More than 70 different contacts between Trump team and Russian-related figures have been found. Multiple indictments and plea deals have been struck. The investigation continues. His false certainty that there is no evidence of collusion can now be seen as the motive for his attempts to discredit and derail the investigation, to obstruct justice, in other words.
Finally, Trump’s rambling, unhinged reaction — after his attorneys no doubt counseled him to keep quiet — should shake his supporters. The pressure of the investigation and vulnerability to prosecution and/or impeachment are not going to vanish. His family and his fix-it lawyer won’t stop Mueller. His TV friends cannot keep the FBI at bay. He lashes out like a cornered animal. The angrier and more panicked Trump becomes, the greater chance he will behave in extreme and destructive ways.
“The president cannot help himself,” former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told me. “Instead of doing his job as our chief federal law enforcement official and allowing the rule of law to operate unimpeded, he lashes out when he feels personally threatened.” He adds, “The president’s words were more befitting a mob don when the feds are closing in. Given Michael Cohen’s role in Trump’s past, perhaps they are. The American people will not stand for any Trump attempt to match his hostile words with aggressive action against Mueller, Sessions, Rosenstein or other DOJ officials. If he does, it will be the beginning of the end for his presidency.”
Now would be a good time for Republicans to find their spines, remember their oaths and act to insulate Mueller and Rosenstein from Trump. A simple declaration that firing either would be an impeachable offense would, frankly, be a help to Trump. He could use some outside restraint.

Senate Finally Passes New ‘Forever’ GI Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TASK AND PURPOSE)

 

Senate Finally Passes New ‘Forever’ GI Bill, Sends It On To Trump

First Published On August 2, 2017

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At the eleventh hour before it recessed for the summer, the Senate finally got around to some real business: passing a sweeping GI Bill upgrade that extends benefits to more veterans and gives them more time to use those bennies.

RELATED: A NEW LIFETIME GI BILL IS LIKELY TO BECOME LAW. HERE’S HOW IT WILL IMPACT VETS »

The bill — dubbed “the forever GI Bill” by supporters — had been approved unanimously by the House, but its fortunes in the Senate were uncertain after the deliberating body approved a slapdash extension of its voting session into August to consider a bevy of government appointments and a full slate of bills.

The Senate just passed by unanimous consent a sweeping set of changes/expansion to the post-9/11 GI Bill. Heads to Trump’s desk. Story TK.

the new GI Bill

“The passage of the Forever GI Bill shows just how much can be accomplished when military and veterans organizations join forces,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, in a statement.

The new bill, which heads to President Donald Trump’s desk and is expected to be signed into law swiftly, was the product of months of round tables and negotiations between veterans service organizations, non-profits, and politicians across both sides of the aisle.

After years working on this bill we finally have it passed. Thanks to the hundreds of people who were part of helping pass the New GI Bill!

“This was a truly bipartisan effort led by some amazing organizations and leaders within Congress, all committed to ensuring veterans and their families have the opportunity for a college education post-military service,” said Jared Lyon, president and CEO of Student Veterans of America, in a statement. “I could not be more proud of the team effort that went into making this a reality. This is what collaboration looks like, and this is what leadership looks like.”

Adam Weinstein is a Navy vet and senior editor for Task & Purpose. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Gawker, and the New York Times. Follow Adam Weinstein on Twitter @AdamWeinstein
 [email protected]
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GOP senator fumes over marijuana memo reversal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Fiery Senate speech on pot spotlights GOP Sen. Cory Gardner

GOP senator fumes over marijuana memo reversal

  
  • Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, broke with his party twice recently
  • He plays a key role as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee

Washington (CNN)When famous marijuana advocates come to mind, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is not typically on that list.

After all, he opposed his own state’s initiative to legalize pot in 2012.
But the first-term senator has since defended Colorado’s decision, and in the past 24 hours he’s become the face of a bipartisan effort that has him butting heads with the Trump administration.
At 8:58 a.m. ET Thursday, Gardner learned through Twitter of a Justice Department decision that would soon lead him to the Senate floor with a fiery speech railing against the attorney general.
He was furious that Jeff Sessions had rescinded a memo that adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws. Critics, like Gardner, say the move violates states’ rights and causes uncertainty in legal marijuana industries.
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It also goes against a campaign promise that Donald Trump made in 2016, when he told a Colorado news station the state should be allowed to keep observing its marijuana laws. “I think it’s up to the states, yeah. I’m a states person,” Trump said at the time. “I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.”
On the Senate floor Thursday, the usually mild-mannered Gardner was outraged, calling the decision “a trampling of Colorado’s rights, its voters.” He vowed to put a hold on every Justice Department nominee until Sessions reverses course.
He also said the decision by Sessions broke a personal pledge the former Alabama senator had made to Gardner before his confirmation last year: “I would like to know from the attorney general: What changed?”
Gardner spoke briefly with Sessions by phone afterward and the two men plan to meet soon, according to a Gardner aide.
It was the second time in recent months that the senator has very publicly gone against members of his party.
But Gardner, who hails from a state with a libertarian streak, is still a largely reliable vote for Republicans. He holds a leadership position in the caucus as chief of the Senate GOP campaign arm. Despite landing in the headlines recently for challenging those in his own party, it’s unlikely he’ll join the small chorus of Republicans who’ve become outspoken critics of President Trump, a la Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Still, it was just months ago that Gardner led the risky charge to expel a potential Republican colleague.
As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he released a bombshell of a statement in November shortly after The Washington Post reported allegations of sexual abuse against Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in the Alabama US Senate special election.
Gardner said if Moore “refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him.” While many Republicans in the Senate urged Moore to drop out of the race, none of them had publicly gone as far as Gardner in saying Moore should be expelled if he were elected.
Even when the Republican National Committee decided to resume its support for Moore’s campaign, despite cutting ties just weeks earlier, Gardner and the NRSC held fast. “Roy Moore will never have the support of the senatorial committee,” Gardner told The Weekly Standard. “I won’t let that happen. Nothing will change. I stand by my previous statement.”
When Moore was defeated days later in an upset win by Democrat Doug Jones, Gardner didn’t need to follow through with his call to expel Moore: “Tonight’s results are clear — the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the US Senate.”
Gardner has also joined Flake and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in working heavily with Democrats to pursue a deal on immigration — and has stood apart from his party leadership in supporting Graham and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin’s legislation that would make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program permanent.
Elected to the Senate in 2014, Gardner, 43, was previously a two-term US congressman and a member of the Colorado House of Representatives. He served as a congressional staffer early in his career.
In the Senate, he’s sought to build up his foreign policy credentials as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, with a focus on North Korea. He is also a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee.

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire, clearing way for Mitt Romney

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire, clearing way for Mitt Romney

(CNN)Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch announced Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election this year, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to return to the national stage by running for his seat.

He said in a social media message, “after much prayer and discussion with family and friends I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term.”
Hatch, the Senate’s longest serving Republican, has wrestled with the decision for months, emboldened by the entreaties of President Donald Trump to seek an eighth term.
During an event last month at the Utah Capitol where Trump celebrated the administration’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, Trump called Hatch “a true fighter” and said he hoped the Republican would continue to serve “in the Senate for a very long time to come.”
The 83-year-old Hatch set off retirement rumors early last year when he said in an interview that he hoped to see Romney one day take his place. But he reversed course and repeatedly insisted to reporters that he “intended” to seek re-election. Last month, Hatch reveled in the spotlight as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee while shepherding a massive tax bill through the Senate — attention, friends and colleagues said, that made him lean toward running again.
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“I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” Hatch said in a video statement. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.”
If Hatch had opted to stay in the Senate, he could have faced a formidable challenge from a crop of ambitious Utah Republicans. Boyd Matheson, the former chief of staff to Sen. Mike Lee, seriously considered a bid last fall — going so far as to meet with former Trump strategists Steve Bannon and David Bossie.
But as it became clear that Romney would likely run if Hatch bowed out, Matheson withdrew from contention — an acknowledgment that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is wildly popular in Utah and would have little trouble securing the seat.
Romney did not have an immediate public reaction to Hatch’s announcement.

Criticism at home

While Hatch is revered for his long service to Utahns and easily won re-election last cycle after spending $10 million, voters are clearly restive. Three-quarters of Utahans said it was time for someone else to serve in the Senate, according to a poll late last year by the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah.
In December, The Salt Lake Tribune published a scathing editorial calling on Hatch to step down — as the paper named him as “The Tribune’s Utahn of the Year,” noting that he has never wielded more clout.
The editorial criticized Hatch for “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.” The editorial board noted that Hatch promised that 2012 would be his last race: “Clearly it was a lie.”
“It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career,” the editorial board wrote. “If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.”
The newspaper pointed out that Hatch, who has referred to himself as “a tough old bird,” has faced questions about his age and his health — acknowledging that his decision on whether to run again would likely hinge on his own health and the health of his wife.
“He has been a senator from Utah longer than three-fifths of the state’s population has been alive,” the editorial board wrote.

Mitch McConnell’s tax plan slammed tiny Berea College; nevertheless, he persisted

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LEXINGTON KENTUCKY CURRIER JOURNAL)

 

Mitch McConnell’s tax plan slammed tiny Berea College; nevertheless, he persisted | Joseph Gerth

https://uw-media.courier-journal.com/video/embed/108794256?sitelabel=reimagine&platform=desktop&continuousplay=true&placement=uw-smallarticleattophtml5&pagetype=story

In a White House press conference, President Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and other republican leaders celebrated the passage of a new tax plan. USA TODAY

Mitch McConnell is a stickler for rules.

Heck, he’s even a stickler for rules that don’t exist. Like the one about not considering Supreme Court appointments in an election year.

That’s why it seems so, well, so hypocritical of him to write a letter to Courier Journal whining that we shouldn’t blame him for his tax reform bill that will cost Kentucky’s tiny Berea College as much as $1 million dollars a year in additional taxes.

See, McConnell proposed his tax reform bill that was designed to get at some of the money that is being stashed away at liberal universities like Yale and Harvard.

When he learned that the bill would also ensnare Berea, which educates poor mountain students for free, he tried to exempt the college located in Madison County, leaving all other private colleges with large endowments to pay the freight.

Trouble is, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that his effort to carve out Berea violated the rules.

So, surely, McConnell stopped the process and vowed to get it right. Right?

Nope.

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To paraphrase ol’ Addison Mitchell McConnell: He had appeared to violate the rule, He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Yep, he steamed right ahead, despite the fact that he knew his tax bill would mean that Berea will have to cut the number of scholarships it gives to poor students and cut the number of poor students educated, just so McConnell and his millionaire and billionaire buddies get a big tax break.

Oh, you’ll get one too.

It will be smaller. Much smaller.

And there will be tax breaks available to the extremely wealthy that aren’t available to you. And the federal deficit will rise, requiring Congress to slash programs that mean a heck of a lot more to you and your families than to the extremely wealthy.

But hey.

No biggie. Right?

Instead of deciding that the Senate would stop the process, rewrite the bill, fix it, do it right, vote on it early next year, McConnell forged ahead.

Part of that was to give President Donald Trump a victory in his first year as president but part of it was likely to get around the problem of a smaller GOP majority in the Senate when Democrat Doug Jones, of Alabama, is sworn in to replace Republican Luther Strange.

And McConnell is nothing if not consistent when it comes to making sure important legislation is acted upon quickly before there is a midterm change in Senate makeup.

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You remember back in 2010, when he demanded that the Senate deal with Obamacare legislation before Republican Scott Brown was seated to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, don’t you?

Nope?

Oh, yeah. That didn’t happen.

Sorry about that.

OK, so let’s get this straight.

Tax bill hurts Kentucky College. McConnell’s attempted fix violates Senate procedures. He pushes it through anyway because, well, politics.

Now, what to do?

Blame Democrats.

That’s right. And in this case, a Democratic Socialist. Bernie Sanders.

Sure, he’s got a Republican majority in the Senate. Sure, he’s the most powerful man in the Senate. Sure, he’s got a Republican as vice president who would break a tie in the Senate in the case that he lost a couple of votes.

Sure, he used a parliamentary move called “reconciliation” that allowed him to pass  legislation without threat of a filibuster – something that he screamed long and loud about when Democrats used it to pass the Affordable Care Act.

Sure, he voted for it, as did Rep. Andy Barr, the Republican from Lexington who has Berea College in the district. Sure, not a single Democrat in the Senate voted for his tax bill.

But it’s the Democrats’ fault that McConnell’s tax bill is poised to cost Berea College a million dollars a year and force it to cut services to bright kids from the mountains who otherwise won’t have a chance to attend college?

The fact is that McConnell is to blame. He had appeared to violate the rule. He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Joseph Gerth’s column runs on most Sundays and at various times throughout the week. He can be reached at 502-582-4702 or by email at [email protected] Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/josephg.

Textbook Co-authored By Roy Moore Says Women Have No Right To Run For Office Or Be Allowed To Vote

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE THINKPROGRESS.ORG WEBSITE)

((oped) MAYBE ROY MOORE SHOULD BECOME A FOLLOWER OF WAHHABISM ISLAM SO THAT HE CAN LIVE IN THE 7th CENTURY AGAIN, IT’S JUST A THOUGHT)(trs)

Textbook co-authored by Roy Moore in 2011 says women shouldn’t run for office

The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement.

In this Aug. 8, 2016, file photo, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks to the media during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala. CREDIT: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File
IN THIS AUG. 8, 2016, FILE PHOTO, ALABAMA CHIEF JUSTICE ROY MOORE SPEAKS TO THE MEDIA DURING A NEWS CONFERENCE IN MONTGOMERY, ALA. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/BRYNN ANDERSON, FILE

 

Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore co-authored a study course, published in 2011 and recently obtained by ThinkProgress, that instructs students that women should not be permitted to run for elected office. If women do run for office, the course argues, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them. The course is also critical of the women’s suffrage movement, which in 1920 secured some American women the right to vote.

The course, called “Law and Government: An Introductory Study Course,” includes 28 hours of audio and visual lectures given by Moore and others, as well as a study guide. The course is available for purchase on Amazon, where “Chief Justice Roy Moore” is listed as a co-author alongside Doug Phillips, Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft, and Dr. Paul Jehle.

On the back of the packaging containing all the study course materials, Moore’s name and photo are listed under the words “Featured Speakers.”

BACK OF THE STUDY COURSE BOX
BACK OF THE STUDY COURSE BOX

The study guide also recommends Moore’s 2009 book “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.”

PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE RECOMMENDING MOORE'S BOOK
PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE RECOMMENDING MOORE’S BOOK

The curriculum was a product of Vision Forum, a now-defunct Texas-based evangelical organization headed by Doug Phillips, which taught “Biblical patriarchy”, a theology that prescribes strict, unequal gender roles for men and women. According a statement on the Vision Forum’s website, “Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.”

For at least a decade, dating back to 1999, Moore served on the “faculty” of Vision Forum’s so-called “Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy.” Not a school at all, Witherspoon was instead a series of four-day crash courses that taught men — and only men — that the Bible is the source of “law and liberty and the only sure foundation for addressing the challenging ethical questions of the twenty-first century.”

Praising a “best of” album of the school’s lectures, Moore said, “I came to share what I have learned and instead received a blessing. All who attend the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy have an opportunity to share in the restoration of our Nation — One Nation Under God.”

Moore’s lecture, which is included in the “Law and Government” curriculum, was recorded in 2008 at one such “school”, and hosted and facilitated by Phillips himself. In the speech, Moore recounts his fight over the Ten Commandments monument and bemoans the arrival of marriage equality, which the California Supreme Court had approved two weeks prior.

He also openly praises both Phillips and Vision Forum, saying, “As I think about what’s going on here at Vision Forum and what Doug’s doing and has done, I’m a little envious because I admire Doug and the fact he can round up these young men that are going to make a difference in our nation.”

Vision Forum closed in 2013 after Phillips resigned, having admitted to a “lengthy” and “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” relationship with a woman who was not his wife. Shortly thereafter, that woman, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, sued Phillips and Vision Forum, detailing an emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abusive relationship that started when she was just 15 years old.

The suit, which was settled and dismissed in 2016, has clear parallels to the many sexual abuse accusations against Moore, which allegedly took place when his accusers were teenagers and he was in his 30s. (Moore has claimed that the allegations against him are “absolutely false.”)  Moore’s attorney has stated that, “whether they were 25, 35, or whether he doesn’t know their age”, Moore would always make sure to ask a girl’s parents for permission to date them before beginning any courtship.

That tradition is consistent with the “Biblical patriarchy” tenets outlined by Vision Forum.

“Since daughters are ‘given in marriage’ by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her,” the tenets state.

One lecture in the Vision Forum study course on which Moore worked is given by William O. Einwechter, a teaching elder at Immanuel Free Reformed Church. The lecture is titled “What the Bible Says About Female Magistrates.” The lesson argues that the Bible forbids women from holding elected office.

An unidentified man introduces Einwechter’s lesson and criticizes the women’s suffrage movement.

“By and large, the issue of the female magistrate ruling in authority in America would not have been anywhere near as controversial,” the man says. “The controversy was beginning to brew with the women’s suffrage movement.”

The man references the Biblical passage Isaiah 3 as justification for this claim. However, his argument — that it equates to a blanket prohibition of women in leadership positions — is not widely held among Christians.

Many, including acclaimed 17th century Bible commentarian Matthew Henry, instead interpret the passage as metaphorical. Others note earlier translations of the passage (in the Greek Septuagint) do not even include the word “women,” but instead “creditors” — a word with identical consonants in Hebrew, but different vowel points — which also fits with the overall context of the passage.

To this day, some translations of the Bible, such as the Common English BibleNew English Translation, and the Good News Translation, still use “swindlers” or “creditors” instead of “women.”

Regardless, when Einwechter begins his lecture, he asks, “Why even consider a question like this?” The answer, he says, is because of the “heresy of feminism.”

“One of the most destructive ideologies of the last 50, hundred years have been the doctrines of feminism, which have transformed our culture and have paved the way for abortion on demand, the homosexual agenda, undermined our church, and subverted the doctrines of the biblical family,” Einwechter says.

He goes on to call feminism a “radical agenda” and says “nothing enrages feminists more than the Biblical doctrine of male headship.”

“Feminism and those who have been influenced by it advocate instead for what we’re going to call an egalitarian approach,” Einwechter says, “where men and women are touted as being equal in all respects, except maybe the most obvious physical differences, and that they’re equally fit to serve in any occupation or serve in any office or position of leadership in any sphere of life.”

PHOTO FROM COURSE STUDY GUIDE
PHOTO FROM COURSE STUDY GUIDE

The lesson uses what Einwechter argues are Biblical truths about the roles and design of men and women, arguing that husband, children, and home “summarize God’s definition of the woman.”

“She’s not a warrior. She’s not a judge. She’s a woman. Created by God. Glorious in her place and in her conduct and in her role,” Einwechter says. “Nothing is said in scripture that supports the notion that she is qualified or called to be a civil magistrate.”

This, Einwechter says, is proof that women should not work outside the home, run for office, or take on any role that gives women “dominance” over men, calling women “the weaker vessel.” Women, the lesson teaches, are only fit to be homemakers and should dedicate their lives to their husbands and children, never to work or outside pursuits.

“Sometimes we may have a hard time discerning the faith, the character, and the views of a particular candidate. But we can usually discern if the candidate is a man or a woman. And so there is no excuse on that one,” Einwechter says as he concludes the lecture. “In conclusion, we’ve argued that scripture teaches us that it is not God’s revealed will for a woman to serve as a civil magistrate and thus to rule over men in the civil sphere.”

PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE
PHOTO OF STUDY GUIDE

Einwechter says this is proof that, if Christians aim to follow the teachings of the Bible, they must never vote for women running for office, no matter their politics.

His lecture, Einwechter says, is an “objective study.” In closing, he quotes pastor J. H. Vincent, saying, “The world is in such pressing need for mothers — motherly women — that none can be spared for public life.”

The teaching stands in stark contrast to various Christian groups that hold sharply divergent views. Entire denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and the Episcopal Church, ordain women and do not object to female political leadership, as do others. Many evangelical Christians hold similar views: the Republican Party includes passionate female evangelical leaders such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, and one of Donald Trump’s closest spiritual advisers is Paula White, a female prosperity gospel preacher.

ThinkProgress could not find any record of Moore endorsing any women for office. The only candidate Moore appears to have effectively endorsed is Michael Peroutka, the Constitution party candidate for president in 2004, according a Montgomery Advertiser article from July 2004. Notably, the Constitution party was founded by Howard Phillips, Vision Forum head Doug Phillips’ father.

Spokespersons for Judge Moore’s Senate campaign did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment.

Special thanks to independent researcher Bruce Wilson.

The Unneeded Poor WILL BE Exterminated

The Unneeded Poor WILL BE Exterminated

 

In this article today I am going to write it as a proverbial ‘Devils Advocate’. What I mean by this is that this is not something that I want to happen yet I am making the argument to you that it is very much a possible reality as the human race continues to degenerate.

 

When it comes to politics I am an ‘Independent’, neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I believe that both of those major parties are about as crooked at the top levels as they can find a way to be. When you are a person like Hillary or Bill Clinton or a Trump or a Bush I believe that they have proven themselves to be the type of people who will do anything to win or to enrich themselves. In the past day or so thousands of documents dubbed the ‘Paradise Papers’ have surfaced showing how the super wealthy cheat their country and their people out of tax revenues. Last year the same type thing happened with the ‘Panama Papers.’ These documents show that not only are many of the ‘super wealthy’ cheating on their taxes, they also show how intertwined they are with world leaders, government officials, and the super huge global companies as they all seek to scratch each other’s backs in their efforts to get even richer.

 

Back in the mid-1970’s you used to hear people talking on the radio and TV how with the ‘new technologies’ how people were only going to be only having to work 4 day weeks because the machines will allow us to get as much done in 4 days as was currently being done in the 5 day work week. How foolish these ‘talking heads’ were. If you are the employer why would you give up the chance to make an extra 20% each week by giving your employees an extra day off? Especially if your company is on the Stock Exchange, your stockholders would quickly replace you. The business world, especially those on the Stock Exchange are only concerned about one thing, higher profits. If you have ever paid any attention at all to the stock market, you should have noticed how little these people think of the people who are actually making the products. When two companies merge the value of the stock goes up. Why, because the next thing that will happen is the new Board of Directors will be getting rid of many ‘unneeded’ employees. Doing this means that the company will take those wages as pure profit, increasing the value of its stock. When a company decides to get rid of employees, the stock value goes up. When a company breaks a Union, the stock value goes up. During these events, you should also have seen that the Board of Directors salaries and bonuses go up. When a company moves their production factories to a ‘third world’ country where they can fire all of their American workers and get child slave labor to do all the production, stock values, and executive compensation goes up.

 

The world as you know has a population growth that is unsustainable yet at this same time machines and robots (AI) are taking more and more jobs away from workers. From a business standpoint, having machines replace human workers is a very wise thing to do, and it increases your stock value and the bosses salaries and compensation. If they invest in machines they can get rid of the overhead cost of having human employees. Think about it, no more salaries to pay, no benefit packages to pay like Workers Comp, vacation pay, health insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick days, you can’t be sued by a computer, no OSHA regulations to adhere to. Folks, the list goes on and on.

 

Our planet has about seven billion people on it right now, look at the slave labor around the world right now, from Africa to Asia to the Middle-East and yes, here in the U.S. also. Is slave labor legal in a lot of these countries? No, but it still goes on. You may say why, why does it still go on but the answer is simple, pay as little for the labor as possible to increase the profits at the top and to the stockholders. You may say now wait a moment, slaves don’t cost anything but this is not totally true. Slaves still have to get some food and some water or they will die or become too weak to do the work. The more slaves you have in the ‘waiting room’ the less you have to supply to each one each day. Why, because it is in your financial best interest if all of the ‘extras’ die. If the ‘extras’ aren’t dying fast enough on their own, you assist them.

 

If the Earth has seven billion people but can only sustain six billion people because there is no way to produce enough food, what happens to the extra billion people? Who do you think are going to be the ones that are starved to death? Hint, it is not going to be the super rich who basically own everything, it will be the poorest of the poor who will be eliminated. During the early Republican Primaries last year a former ‘Speaker of the House’ Newt Gingrich spelled out the perfect Republican ‘wish list.’ As you probably know the majority of the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate, and this President wants to cut the national deficit by cutting programs like food stamps to the poor and cutting way back on Medicare, Medicaid, meals on wheels, school lunch programs and Social Security. Folks, who need these programs the most? Mr. Gingrich in a TV program last year went even further. Mr. Gingrich consider all of these programs to be ‘welfare’, yet he went further, he called military retirement pay, VA disability compensation and the VA itself ‘welfare’ programs and he said that all of these ‘Welfare’ programs need to be eliminated. There was one thing that he did not include in his list of welfare programs, that was Congressional, Senate, and Presidential retirement pay and benefits, go figure. He has been receiving taxpayer-paid benefits for decades, but I guess that doesn’t count.

 

Back in the 1950’s the top end national tax rate was 90%, during that time the U.S. was able to build city infrastructures, a National Highway program unequaled in the whole world as well as thousands of new bridges and dams. Now, our roads, bridges, dams, and cities are falling apart, why is this? Now the top end tax rate has been 35% and the President is pushing a top end tax rate of 20%. This is at the same time that corporations are swimming in cash and as they say, with nowhere to spend it. About six months ago, I think it was on CNN, that they reported that U.S. companies have about 13 Trillion Dollars sitting in offshore accounts. So, what do these Republican lawmakers want to do, take even more money out of the economy and give it to these same folks who are destroying our country from the inside? It is also these same benefactors who are filling the pockets of these same evil politicians.

 

Back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s in China Chairman Mao put a starvation policy in place against the citizens of China. The reason was simple, 500 million people are easier to control than one billion people. Folks, these are just things that I have seen, heard, and read throughout my 60+ years. You don’t have to agree with anything that I have written in this article today, but I hope that I have been able to at least get you to think about these issues.

 

 

 

 

 

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