Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)
(Moscow Mitch The Trumpian Bitch?) oped: oldpoet56)

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

Darrell M. West and Raj Karan Gambhir

Editor’s Note:This post is part of “Cybersecurity and Election Interference,” a Brookings series that explores digital threats to American democracy, cybersecurity risks in elections, and ways to mitigate possible problems.

Cybersecurity & Election InterferenceThe United States is at risk of serious foreign intervention and disinformation in the 2020 elections. When asked during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee whether Russia could interfere in the 2020 elections, Robert Mueller responded that they are “doing it as we sit here.” The very next day, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that “the Russians had attempted to intrude in all 50 states” during the 2016 election. A blog post by Brookings Institution Fellow Margaret Taylor furthermore shows that our European allies have experienced similar Russian activities over the last few years in their national elections, the Brexit campaign, and European Union parliamentary races. Even as the scope of Russian intent and ability becomes increasingly clear, Senate Republicans have done nothing to address this problem.

It is not as if there aren’t good ideas to protect American elections. Four major pieces of election security legislation have been introduced over the last two years: the Secure Elections Act (introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)); Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)); Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)); and Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19)).

As noted below, the bills demonstrate relative bipartisan agreement over several key remedies. A number of members have proposed providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission, sharing election security expertise with the states, providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems, sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference, authorizing retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections, and requiring intelligence agencies to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections. A version of these ideas already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 225 to 184 vote, but has been repeatedly blocked from a Senate vote by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). Calling the bill “highly partisan,” McConnell blocked a unanimous consent vote on the bill just hours after Mueller’s testimony.

This Senate inaction brings to mind Albert Einstein’s infamous definition of insanity as repeating the same behavior but expecting a different outcome. With no beefing up of election defenses and high odds of continuing foreign interference, 2020 will likely see the same problems of 2016: campaigns that sow discontent and play on societal divisions, active efforts to undermine electoral legitimacy, and widespread public doubts following the campaign about the integrity of the election process itself. Americans will wake up on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 wondering how the U.S. electoral process again fell prey to foreign interference and why political leaders failed to defend our vital democratic processes.

Providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission

In looking across the proposed bills, there are a number of promising ideas designed to secure U.S. elections. One of them advanced in the Secure Elections Act is the creation of an Election Assistance Commission grant program that provides funding for states and localities to secure electoral processes and upgrade equipment. The idea is that since elections largely are administered at the state and local level, additional funding for those entities would enable them to update their equipment, install the latest cyber-security protections, and make sure that vital infrastructure is protected during the election.

Sharing election security expertise

Several of the proposed bills give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a major role in advising the states, offering them technical expertise, and being proactive in dealing with possible cyber-threats. Since this department works to counter terrorism and maintain vital infrastructure, the department has expertise to evaluate hardware and software for cyber-security risks. Armed with that information, it could provide help to state and local agencies charged with administering the upcoming elections.

Providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems with an audit trail

A number of local jurisdictions have moved to electronic voting machines in recent years, although in most cases, this equipment is not connected to the internet in order to minimize opportunities for hacking. However, there still could be software bugs that distort the vote or systematically under-count certain areas. Given that possibility, it is important to have paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems and the possibility of conducting an audit if any irregularities are spotted. That way, voters can feel confident their votes will be counted and there are mechanisms to evaluate the vote in case anything is contested.

Sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act establishes financial sanctions that could be applied against countries, financial institutions, or individuals that “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.” The idea is that Russians could be discouraged from malicious behavior if they think there will be serious consequences.

Authors

In addition, the bill “would give prosecutors additional authorities to pursue federal charges for the hacking of voting systems and create a National Fusion Center to respond to hybrid threats of disinformation and other emerging threats from Russia”. There are provisions that specifically would impose sanctions for “Russian interference in democratic processes.”

Authorize retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections

The Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act would allow the President to impose sanctions against any country identified as a threat. Among the actions that could invite retaliation “include a foreign government or agent purchasing political advertisements to influence an election” or “using social media to spread false information, hacking and releasing or modifying election- or campaign-related information or hindering access to elections infrastructure, such as websites for polling places.”

Requiring intelligence agency leaders to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections

The DETER Act would mandate that the director of national intelligence determine within 30 days of the national election whether “the government of a foreign country, or any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of that government, knowingly engaged in interference in the election.” Under threat of sanction, foreign agents specifically would not be allowed to “spread significant amounts of false information to Americans. They also cannot hack, leak or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.”

Why the Senate inaction in the face of a clear foreign danger?

A number of arguments have been made to justify the votes of those who opposed the House bill or are supporting Senate inaction. One is a state’s rights argument suggesting that the federal government should not have a major role in electoral security given the country’s history of state and local control of balloting. While it certainly is important to maintain state and local control of elections, providing federal assistance to upgrade voting machines does not violate existing legal or constitution provisions. There is a long history of the federal government paying for voting equipment and offering technical assistance. Many states lack funding for voting machines and the federal government often has funded upgrades and improvements. There is ample precedent for national authorities to protect vital infrastructure in the face of foreign threats.

Another rationale concerns the financial cost of electoral security. The idea is at a time when America is running a trillion-dollar budget deficit, it should avoid unnecessary expenditures. Rather, lawmakers should focus on vital priorities and critical infrastructure. Yet electoral security should fall within each of those principles. Having secure elections is essential to democracy. There is no excuse for not spending several hundred million dollars (a very small portion of the overall federal budget) on meaningful steps to protect American elections. Democracy is too important to be risked for a relatively small amount of money.

Short of these criticisms, it is hard to see any justified reason not to enact some type of electoral security measures. As is clear to all who study American elections and have heeded the warnings of our European allies, the intelligence community, and the Special Counsel—the Russian threat is real. Given these dire circumstances, it is difficult to fathom why Senate leadership is refusing to allow a vote on such important legislation, and therefore risking the integrity of the democratic process. Americans should demand Senate action to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference.

The second Democratic debate: Opening up the centrist lane

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

The second Democratic debate: Opening up the centrist lane

Elaine Kamarck

Ever since the 2018 election, the storyline around the Democratic Party has been at odds with the facts. The Democratic Party is, as it has been for many decades now, a center-left party and not a left-wing party in the style of European political parties. In the first Democratic debates in June, many of the candidates fell blindly into far-left ideological traps, causing panic among Democrats concerned about beating Trump.

But by round two of the Democratic debates, it was clear that some of the candidates had done a little homework and learned a little history.

With some exceptions, the American electorate changes slowly. For nearly four decades, the ideological composition of the electorate in presidential elections has remained more or less the same. As the following table (updated from a paper I published with my colleague William A. Galston in 2011) shows, there is no possibility of a purely liberal or purely conservative governing coalition: “To win, each party needs to form a coalition with moderate voters. But the structure of those coalitions is very different.”

Although the number of self-identified liberals has increased in recent presidential elections, they are still out-numbered by self-identified conservatives.

Table 1: The composition of the electorate in presidential election years

1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
Liberal 18 17 18 21 19 22 21 22 25 26
Moderate 51 44 45 48 48 49 45 44 41 39
Conservative 31 35 33 31 34 30 34 34 35 35

Source: CNN National Exit Poll

Playing only base politics is a dangerous game. For instance, President Trump may be making a big political mistake in spending so much attention on fueling his racist, immigrant-hating, xenophobic base. It cost him the votes of moderate suburban women (and other groups) in 2018, and Democrats and some Republicans think it will cost him in 2020. But if base politics is bad for Republicans, playing only to your base is even more dangerous for Democrats because of the simple fact that the Democratic base is smaller. While neither party can write off moderate voters, Democrats need them more than Republicans do. Table 2 shows that in the years when Democrats have won the presidency, they’ve done so by winning more than 55% of the moderate vote.

Table 2: Democratic share of the major party moderate vote

1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
46 47 51 61 62 53 54 60 56 52

Source: Author’s calculation based on CNN National Exit Poll. In the bolded years, Democrats won the presidency.

This week, the Democratic race moved into a new and more realistic phase. Clearly some of the contenders got the message about the dangers of moving too far left. Early on in the first night’s debate, former Congressman John Delaney (Md.) called for “real solutions, not impossible promises.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) said her bold ideas were “grounded in reality.” For 45 minutes, they attacked Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) on Medicare-for-All—especially the provision that would take away private insurance. Congressman Tim Ryan (Ohio) contended that union members who have fought so hard for good health care coverage would be unhappy to learn that Sanders’ plan would take it away from them. He also pointed out that the problem with giving illegal immigrants free health insurance is that “everyone else in America is paying for health insurance.” Warren held her ground as did Sanders, but the attack of the centrists never let up.

Night two of the Democratic debate was not very different, but this time former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading centrist, was the punching bag. Nonetheless, the fault lines were similar. The fight over Medicare-for-All centered, once again, on whether Americans would be allowed to keep private insurance. Biden defended the centrist option—Obamacare plus a public option—and contrasted with another dimension: the $32 trillion in taxes he said Sanders’ bill would cost. The debate moved on to immigration, where several candidates attacked Biden and Obama for the deportations that happened in the Obama administration. They also attacked Biden on crime, but Booker, Harris, and de Blasio turned out to have clay feet on that issue, since each one of them had been in positions where their pursuit of justice was less than perfect and open to criticism.

Unlike the first debate, Biden was more energetic and ready for the attacks against him. He reminded everyone of his work with President Obama, something that will probably help him hold onto his support among African Americans and other mainstream liberals who happily voted for the 44thpresident. Biden’s performance was just good enough to stop the bleeding, and he probably disappointed the other centrists hoping to step into that lane. But in contrast to the first debate, it is now clear that at least there is a centrist lane in the Democratic primary which, as history tells us, is not a bad place to be. It may well be the path to the nomination.

Author

Pro-Trump Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar charged with felony theft

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Pro-Trump Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar charged with felony theft

Exclusive: Danielle Stella, reported to support baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, held twice this year over alleged shoplifting

Danielle Stella, the Republican running for Congress against Ilhan Omar in Minnesota. Stella earlier this week described Minneapolis as ‘the crime capital of our country’.
 Danielle Stella, the Republican running for Congress against Ilhan Omar in Minnesota. Stella earlier this week described Minneapolis as ‘the crime capital of our country’. Photograph: Stella campaign

A pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota has been charged with a felony after allegedly stealing from stores.

Danielle Stella was arrested twice this year in Minneapolis suburbs over allegations that she shoplifted items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and goods valued at $40 from a grocery store. She said she denied the allegations.

Stella, a 31-year-old special education teacher, was reported this week to be a supporter of the baseless “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump battling a global cabal of elite liberal paedophiles.

This week Stella also described Minneapolis as “the crime capital of our country”. She has in the past complained that local police were “overworked and overburdened” and said that, if elected, she would work to reduce crime.

In a series of text messages, Stella said: “I am not guilty of these crimes. In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law.”

She added: “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides.”

An attorney for Stella, Joshua London, declined to comment.

Stella is accused of stealing 279 items valued at $2,327.97 from a Target store in Edina, to the south-west of Minneapolis, on 8 January this year. She was arrested for the alleged theft after security staff called the police.

A criminal complaint filed to Hennepin county district court alleged Stella was seen leaving the store without paying for most of her haul, after “scanning only a few other items” that were valued at about $50.

Danielle Stella. In a series of text messages, Stella said: ‘I am not guilty of these crimes.’
Pinterest
 Danielle Stella. In a series of text messages, Stella said: ‘I am not guilty of these crimes.’ Photograph: Bloomington police department

The complaint said Stella told police in a statement she “remembers arriving at Target to purchase items but nothing else” due to post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she “normally she goes to Target with someone because of anxiety around people”.

Stella has said publicly that she was the victim of a severe violent assault in 2008. She is charged with the thefts under her former surname, which the Guardian agreed not to report because she said it could endanger her safety.

She is charged with felony theft over the incident at Target and faces a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 if convicted, according to court filings.

Police and court records said a warrant was put out for Stella’s re-arrest for alleged contempt of court on 4 April, after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

Officers in nearby Bloomington then arrested Stella on 28 April after she was allegedly seen by security staff at a Cub Foods grocery store stealing a bottle of tick spray for cats, and placing other items “under her purse so that they could not be seen”.

When they checked her identification, police officers discovered the open warrant for Stella’s arrest over her failure to appear in court for the earlier alleged shoplifting, their incident report said.

The report said Stella was arrested for alleged misdemeanour theft for taking “cat merchandise” and cat food valued at $40.46. She was issued with a citation and given a date to appear in court. It was not clear whether authorities would pursue the contempt of court allegation.

Stella’s candidacy has attracted interest from the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, which broadcast an interview with her this week. Stella laughed and nodded as the host, J Owen Shroyer, called Omar “a witch” and said: “Everything about her is a fraud.”

Describing Minneapolis during the interview as America’s “crime capital”, Stella falsely claimed that crime in the city had risen by 80% over the past year. According to Minneapolis police data, there has been a 10.7% uptick in serious crime year-on-year, following a 16.5% decline in 2018.

The rightwing commentator Todd Starnes promoted Stella in an interviewearlier this month on Fox News’s streaming service Fox Nation. “We certainly wish Miss Stella the very best,” Starnes said, adding that he hoped for a “significant change in representation” in Omar’s district.

Last month Stella officially registered with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. She later spoke at the “Demand Free Speech” rally in Washington.

She has accused Omar of being a criminal for advising immigrants how to avoid agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said in a tweet that any representatives who fail to “uphold the rule of law” should be ejected from office.

Court records say that in 2009, Stella pleaded guilty to driving while impaired from alcohol and fleeing a police officer. The latter charge was prosecuted as a felony but later classified as a gross misdemeanour as part of Stella’s plea.

If you’re reading us a little…

… or you’re reading us a lot, we hope you’ll consider supporting us with a contribution, however big or small. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.

The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.

Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.

We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Illinois GOP shares meme depicting minority Dem congresswomen as ‘the jihad squad’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Illinois GOP group shares meme depicting minority Dem congresswomen as ‘the jihad squad’

Washington (CNN)Two top Illinois GOP officials are condemning a meme recently posted to the Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association that depicted four minority congresswomen as being “THE JIHAD SQUAD.”

The image, which has since been taken down from the group’s page, is modeled after an action movie poster and edited to include the four lawmakers’ faces on the bodies of various characters. The women in the photo are Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The image includes the words “THE JIHAD SQUAD” below the names along with the words “POLITICAL JIHAD IS THEIR GAME” and “IF YOU DON’T AGREE WITH THEIR SOCIALIST IDEOLOGY, YOU’RE RACIST.”
The meme also includes the association’s logo. It’s unclear who in the party posted the image, or if those responsible have been admonished.
President Donald Trump has recently criticized the four women, known as “the Squad,” in racist terms as part of an effort to define the Democratic Party as far-left. Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women in Congress, and Ocasio-Cortez identifies as a Democratic socialist.
CNN has reached out to the offices of the four lawmakers for comment.
screenshot of the post shared by Craig Wall, a reporter for CNN affiliate WLS in Chicago, shows the image was live as of late Friday night. On Sunday, Tim Schneider, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, condemned the post.
“I strongly condemn evoking race or religion as the basis for political disagreement. The recent social media post coming from the IRCCA does not reflect my values or the Illinois Republican Party’s values,” Schneider said in a statement.
Schneider added, “Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates and further divides our nation” and said that although he disagrees with the policy positions held by the group of lawmakers, his “intense disagreement … has absolutely nothing to do with their race or religion.”
Mark Shaw, the president of the RCCA, said Sunday in a statement that he “condemn(s)” the posting, which he said was “unauthorized.”
“I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents,” Shaw said in a Facebook post, adding that the posting “is an unfortunate distraction from the serious debate surrounding the policies advocated by” the lawmakers.
Shaw also said the approval process for social media posts will be reviewed in the wake of the posting “to insure that any content posted in the future represents the ‘big-tent’ nature of the Republican Party.”
The Cook County Democratic Party called the image “a racist and inflammatory attack.”
“The post perpetuates the recent attacks by President Trump, promoting lies and racism to alienate immigrants, women, and people of color,” the county Democratic Party said in a statement posted to Facebook. “This language of hatred and bigotry has no room in our society and has dangerous consequences.”
The four progressive lawmakers have been outspoken critics of Trump, particularly his immigration policies. Last week, the House voted to condemn the racist language used in the tweets by the President, who on Sunday continued his attacks, questioning in a tweet their commitment to America and saying that they are “destroying the Democratic Party.”

Republicans give Trump a rare rebuke over racist comments

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Republicans give Trump a rare rebuke over racist comments

(CNN)For many Republicans in Congress, President Donald Trump’s call for some Democratic congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” was worthy of a rare rebuke.

As she entered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Monday evening, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said that Trump’s latest attacks were not only “not constructive” but racist.
“They’re American citizens,” she said.
On Sunday, Trump attacked unnamed “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen,” saying they “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”
Usually Trump’s attacks on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts are uniformly greeted with cheers by all Republicans (of these four first-term women members of Congress, only Omar, a Somalian refugee, was born outside the United States).
But for many Republicans, his racist comments on Sunday were, as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine put it, “way over the line.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the comments were “spiteful” and urged a “higher standard of decorum and decency.” Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called them “divisive, unnecessary and wrong.”
“We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
“While we can vary on what policies we support, singling out people whose opinions differ from our own is bad for discourse and public civility,” added Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas.
Still, Ernst was in an unusual position in calling Trump’s racist remark racist. Trump’s strongest supporters said his comment was not while many of his begrudging bedfellows did not make that particular charge.
Many Republicans did not directly respond to questions regarding whether the President’s comments were “racist.” Instead, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, called the comments a “mistake,” and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, called them “unproductive.”
McConnell declined to comment Monday on Trump’s tweets. He said he’d be “happy” to respond later in the week at his regularly scheduled news conference.
For years, Trump has made racist and anti-immigrant comments. He questioned the birthplace of the first African American president, Barack Obama. He called Mexicans “rapists” in his campaign kickoff speech in 2015. He then called for a complete ban on Muslims.
He said a federal judge could not be impartial because of his race. He expressed a preference for immigrants coming from Norway rather than Haiti. He blamed “both sides” for the violence emanating from a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
But while Trump is historically unpopular at this point in his presidency, he still maintains a great deal of support within the Republican Party. Over the past two years, the small crew of Republicans in Congress who have criticized him has gotten smaller; some have retired, left the party or lost.
So it was no surprise that some Republicans still rallied to the President. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana tweeted that he “stood with” Trump, adding an American flag emoji.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “The President is not a racist.”
“I think this is really coming down to a battle about ideology,” he added. “It’s really kind of a socialist battle versus a thing that we believe within America.”
Trump himself denied that what he said was racist.
When asked if he was concerned that many did, Trump replied, “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”
Democrats roundly denounced the President. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s comments “drip with racism.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber would vote on a resolution to condemn the President’s “xenophobic” comments. Rep. Al Green of Texas said he would bring an impeachment resolution to the floor in July, tweeting the hashtag #RacistPresident.
At a news conference with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Tlaib, Pressley referred to Trump’s Twitter attacks on the four progressive Democratic congresswomen as a “disruptive distraction” and said that she would encourage the American people “to not take the bait.”
“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration all the way down,” she said.

Presidents: How Old Is Just To Damn Old?

Presidents: How Old Is Just To Damn Old?

 

I just finished reading a CNN article on the Democratic candidates for President and I would like to share some ideas with you. Being there are at least 23 people vying for this job within the Democratic Party I have chosen the top five candidates (what the polls say) to discuss with you today.

 

As I am sure that you have garnered from the title I am going to talk with you about the ages of these candidates. Simply put, in your opinion does age matter? Via the U.S. Constitution you must be at least 35 years of age to hold the Office yet there is no maximum age set.

 

The ages I am going to give you are the age these people would be on the day they would be sworn into Office on January 20th of 2021. It is just my personal opinion that if a person will reach their 72nd birthday during an term for any Office, they should be barred from being able to seek the Office. As I said earlier, these five folks are leading in the Democratic Presidential polls. I have added one person to the list as he just announced his candidacy yesterday. He is the California Billionaire who has been paying out of his own pocket for the commercials saying that President Trump needs to be impeached. His name is Tom Steyer.

Name:                                                         Day Born:                                 Age as of January 21st of 2021:

Tom Steyer                                                  June 27, 1957                           63

Bernie Sanders                                           September 8, 1941                   79

Joe Biden                                                    November 20, 1942                  78

Kamala Harris                                             October 20, 1964                     56

Elizabeth Warren                                         June 22, 1949                           71

Pete Buttigieg                                             January 19, 1982                      39

 

I am only going to mention two other people who are on the Republican side.

Donald Trump                                             June 14, 1946                           74

Mike Pence                                                 June 7, 1959                              61

 

I am a registered independent voter who personally does not like the Democratic nor the Republican Parties. I don’t believe that either Party cares at all about the American people as a whole. But today’s Republican Party of Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell totally discuss me. So, in the next Presidential election cycle I would vote for a dead dog before I would vote for any Republican. Personally, of the candidates that I mentioned my top two choices would be Tom Steyer or Elizabeth Warren. If my 72 guideline were the law Mrs. Warren could not be on the ballot. But then neither could Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

 

This article is just the thoughts and ideas of an old man. But personally I am sick and tired of these old fart career politicians with there way out of date ideas running/ruining our Country. The old folks whom many of them have been in office for 40-50 years need to be made to retire. Do you/we really want people running our Country who are in their 80’s? I just don’t, I am sick and tired of their partisan B.S..

 

These two people are not running for the office of President but they are the two leaders of the House and the Senate who pretty much tell all the members of their political party how to vote on every issue, every bill. First, Nancy Pelosi who was born on March 6th of 1940.  She will be 80 when the next President takes Office. Then there is Mitch McConnell who is the top Republican in the Senate, he was born on February 20th of 1942. So, he will be 78 when the next President is sworn in and he has already stated just like Nancy Pelosi has that he is running for reelection. So, one more term for each of them and Mrs. Pelosi will be 82 and Mr. McConnell will be 84.

 

What is your thoughts on this issue? Do you even care about this issue, or maybe is it not even an issue at all to you? If you would, please leave me a comment, I thank you for your time, I appreciate you taking of your time to read this.

 


 

GOP Armed Services senator breaks with Trump: I find North Korean missile tests ‘very disturbing’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE HILL’ NEWSPAPER)

(OPED OLDPOET56)(WHY SHOULD ANYONE EVER CARE WHAT 2 HABITUAL LIARS (Trump and Kim Jong Un) HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ANYTHING?)

GOP Armed Services senator breaks with Trump: I find North Korean missile tests ‘very disturbing’

GOP Armed Services senator breaks with Trump: I find North Korean missile tests 'very disturbing'
© Getty Images

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, broke with President Trump on Sunday over North Korean missile tests.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ernst said she finds recent missile tests from the regime “very disturbing” and warned that she wouldn’t trust North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I find them very disturbing, and certainly wouldn’t trust Kim Jong Un,” Ernst said. “I think we need to keep our eyes on North Korea, I understand the president wants to maintain a relationship … so that we can work with them. However, those strikes are disturbing.”

The comments come in response to a Saturday tweet from Trump in which the president dismissed concerns about missile tests and said he has confidence in Kim.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me,” he tweeted. “I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.”

When asked whether she found Trump’s comments, made while in Japan for a diplomatic visit, disturbing, Ernst on Sunday replied: “Certainly.”

“I think Japan does have reason to be concerned, and I am concerned as well,” the senator said. “We need to see north Korea back off of those activities, and we need to take a very strong stance on that.

Ernst added that she understands Trump “has a job to do on negotiating,” but urged for a stronger “pushback” on North Korea to ensure that the regime is following United Nations guidelines prohibiting it from firing ballistic missiles.

“We can’t continue to let them further develop any type of weapons systems,” she said.

Trump has touted his friendly relationship with Kim as a step toward denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, but after two in-person summits, the two leaders have failed to reach a deal on nuclear negotiations and sanctions.

No One Has THE RIGHT TO COMMIT MURDER

(No One Has The RIGHT TO COMMIT MURDER)

 

Because of some southern states and because of Republicans abortion is once again in the national news. I am going to put two thoughts out to you on this issue. One view will be from a ‘religion’ viewpoint and the other from a person who is chastising the Supreme Court. As a person of faith I believe that once a heartbeat starts, it is murder to stop it. No one has the ‘right’ to kill little babies, no one! If a person gets into an auto accident and kills a pregnant lady they get charged with killing two people. This is an issue that must only be one way, if a fetus has no rights then you are considering the baby to be nothing, if it does have rights then it is a living child.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States has only one main job and that is to honor the Nation’s Constitution. When a case comes before that Court the only thing their job is is to decide if the law before them is Constitutional, or not. I personally disagree with several decisions handed down by the Supreme Court yet when a decision is made by the Court as to if something is Constitutional or not it should never be overturned by a later Court. When you are having to count how many Republicans or how many Democrats are sitting on that Bench then our whole Constitution and our Democracy are at a grave risk. If a Supreme Court has done their Constitutional duty to the people of our country then the laws they say yes or no too should be final and never be overturned by a later set of Justices. Political viewpoints have no place among any of the Chief Justices. Do I personally agree with or like the Roe versus Wade decision in 1973, no, I don’t but if it was Constitutional in 1973, it is still Constitutional today and tomorrow.

Seizing Sudan’s moment of change: How Congress can help

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

Seizing Sudan’s moment of change: How Congress can help

Zach Vertin

The Arab Spring did not begin in 2011. It started a generation earlier, in 1985, at least according to many proud citizens of Sudan. A president was removed from office that year on the back of popular protests, an uprising that has served as a beacon of hope, however faint, during three decades of political darkness since. Today, tens of thousands of Sudanese have again taken to the streets of Khartoum, hoping to recapture those heady memories and send another president packing. Congress is uniquely positioned to help them, and to reduce the chances of another violent collapse in the region. But it must act fast.

Author

This week’s record turnout is the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations that began last December in response to rising food prices. After years of corruption and mismanagement, the country’s economy has all but flat-lined, kept alive only by sporadic cash injections from the Gulf. Recent years have seen similar protests over the country’s political and economic malaise, each crushed by the country’s formidable national security apparatus—one place the government has invested heavily as an insurance policy against its own misrule.

But this time around, something is different. Where past demonstrations were focused in Khartoum and championed by narrow constituencies, this year’s protests have proven more diverse and more widespread—and thus more resilient. Sparked in Atbara, a medium-sized city in the country’s north, the so-called #SudanUprising spread across the country and has been sustained by a broader swath of Sudanese society—including the professional classes that had long been decimated or chased abroad. Khartoum’s repressive regime is known for snuffing out such public dissent, but this time the revolutionary sentiment is burning bright.

Adding new fuel are divisions inside the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), a floundering organization that long ago traded policy and ideology for a platform of survival. The party, headed by President Omar Bashir, an indictee of the International Criminal Court, has often been misunderstood as a monolith. But fault lines have always run through it—between civilians and securocrats, Islamists and secularists, socialists and capitalists—including over how to engage the West. The cracks deepened last year when Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup d’état, again sought the nomination for elections in 2020. (Behind closed doors, more than a few party members will tell you they are as keen to see Bashir gone as his most ardent critics on the street.)

Splits within the country’s security establishment have also become more pronounced, the product of rivalry between the army and its increasingly powerful competitors. Protestors are calling on the army to step in, as it did in 1985, and so many officers suddenly confront a difficult decision: side with the embattled president or the masses now gathered at their gates. In recent days, army factions have taken measures to protect demonstrators against attacks from paramilitary forces and the omnipresent National Intelligence and Security Service. Today these forces clashed openly—an ominous sign of what may be to come.

The question at the core of Sudan’s current tumult is not whether President Bashir should go or not, as his departure is long overdue. The question is how: how to do so in a manner that maximizes the chances of a managed transition and minimizes the threat of violent collapse.

Opposition constituencies are rightly calling for a transitional government under new leadership, one that would oversee an inclusive constitutional review process and pave a path to internationally monitored elections. Such an arrangement would necessarily involve the release of political prisoners, an end to restrictions on political activity, and a cessation of conflict in Sudan’s peripheries. Most consequentially, a transition would necessarily include the NCP but articulate a time-bound exit for President Bashir, who has been clinging to office to avoid  arraignment at the Hague. No one should pretend this will be easy, but it is the best path forward.

For far too long, American policy toward Sudan was defined by pressure and isolation, a posture that failed to produce desired outcomes in part because sanctions were too often employed to punish rather than to leverage change. (More recent U.S. diplomatic efforts to do the latter have yielded results.) Congress now has a chance to nudge Sudan in the right direction—by sending a clear signal to moderate forces of reform, and to those now sitting on the fence, that there is a path back to international credibility, and to American partnership.

Democrats and Republicans should adopt a resolution articulating the parameters of a transition, in exchange for which Congress would move quickly to roll back existing punitive measures and offer incentives to bolster a transition. This could include: supporting international debt relief at the World Bank and earmarking funds to clear the fairly modest U.S. portion of Sudan’s debt, thereby unlocking debt relief among a pool of larger foreign creditors; signaling readiness to restore diplomatic relations, including by encouraging a visit from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and by confirming a new U.S. ambassador to Sudan—the first since 1997; allocating new development funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and taking concrete steps to promote commercial investment, and; lifting Sudan’s designation as State Sponsor of Terror, should Khartoum continue to comply with the technical requirements.

Those who hope for a better future are right now gathered at the gates of Sudan’s military headquarters. They deserve not only a chance for political renewal, but to be spared from a Libya-like disaster. Washington cannot determine the outcome, but it should act now to give them the best chance of success.

Putin And Limbaugh: Founding Brothers Of Far Right Hate?

Putin And Limbaugh: Founding Brothers Of Far Right Hate?

 

When anyone writes an article or a letter all they are really doing is giving their opinion on the subject matter they are writing about.  I believe that this is so, unless the writer is purposely lying in trying to get you to believe what is not the truth, as they believe it to be. Truth, what if the writer is simply telling the Truth you may say? Whose version of the truth though? To me, there is only one version of ‘The Truth’ and that is when it is by the lips of G-d Himself. You see, that is 100% Truth. Human versions of truth are flawed when we lack 100% knowledge of the issue, or when a person tries to ‘slant the truth’ to fit their own agendas. A good example would be a politician who says they are telling the truth when in deed only 1% is truth and 99% is BS. They can then say that they told the truth, the exception to this rule would have to be someone like our President who doesn’t have a clue about reality at all. When you have an habitual liar as your country’s Leader, you have a dictator for a president. Here in the U.S. we have a ‘wanna-be’ Dictator right now, unlike Russia, they have the real thing.

 

Here in the U.S. we have a lot of the responsibility of having helped bring Mr. Putin to power in Russia! Think about it, Hollywood, Nation Media and many of our Politicians started in on Russia bashing almost as soon as the Wall fell in late 1989. We portrayed Russia and her people as ignorant, inept and lazy. We (Hollywood, Media, Politicians) stepped all over the personal and National Pride of this Nation and Her people. Folks it is we who helped bring this mass murdering Dictator onto the Russian National scene. He did what a Dictator does if they want to stay in power, they get the military and the security agencies on their side, then they take control of all the Media outlets and then they use them against their own people. Now the people of Russia are the only ones who should remove their Monster. Ultra Nationalists are by my belief ‘far-right.’ Far-Right just like far-Left refuse to compromise and if you are a Dictator you don’t have to compromise. Also, I believe that ‘extremists’ are by their nature, hate filled. Hate filled people tend to refuse any compromise on anything. Personally I do believe that Mr. Putin is one of these type of persons. Yet I ask you a question, which is better, a rather intelligent Dictator or a wanna-be Dictator who is a total imbecile?

 

Now, I would like to bring up the second subject in this letter to you tonight, Rush Limbaugh. I first started hearing of Mr. Limbaugh back when Bush Senior was our President so that would have been 1989-93. In my opinion he was so far to ‘the-right’ that he was almost comical but when he picked up a following of far-right ‘Haters’ he was no longer humorous. Mr. Limbaugh is a very smart person, he found a niche then he worked it to his financial independence. Trouble is (in my opinion) the agenda he often spouts should be considered as hate speech. In a Democracy there must be compromise for without that, you have a Dictatorship. Mr. Limbaugh has for decades preached from his Bully Pulpit against ever compromise. Back when Senator John McCain was the Republican Candidate for President Mr. Limbaugh railed against him because he was a moderate, meaning that Mr. McCain would compromise with the Democrats in order to pass legislation. Do you remember during the 2016 Republican Presidential Debates that Texas Senator Ted Cruz looked straight into the camera and strongly insisted that if he were to be elected President that he would not ‘negotiate with the Democrats.’ Folks in my opinion, this builds the foundation of Dictatorships. Folks, hate is hate and Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Putin have been preaching hate for decades now. These two just like with many others are simply Brothers (of hate) born of different Mothers but their Daddy (the Father of Hate and Lies) is pure evil.