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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Freedom Quote

"The War between the States... produced the foundation for the kind of government we have today: consolidated and absolute, based on the unrestrained will of the majority, with force, threats, and intimidation being the order of the day. Today's federal government is considerably at odds with that envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. ... [The War] also laid to rest the great principle enunciated in the Declaration of Independence that 'Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed'."
-- Walter E. Williams
(1936- ) Columnist, Professor of Economics at George Mason University

Spying hits home

Editorial: Spying hits home

There is no getting around the fact that the National Security Agency has continued to eavesdrop on at least a handful of friendly foreign leaders, but - even worse - on the private conversations of U.S. lawmakers and on Jewish-American groups.

The revelations in yesterday's Wall Street Journal are beyond shocking - although perhaps we should cease to be shocked by anything this administration does to further its agenda.

Now frankly it's not shocking that the NSA continued to keep tabs on the conversations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even after public promises that it would cease the practice. (The leaders of France and Germany apparently made the special list of good guys no longer subject to such surveillance.)

Former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said during a TV interview Wednesday that Israel assumes that the U.S. and others attempt to spy on it.

"It's not very nice, but that is the assumption," Oren said. And when he had anything confidential to convey, "I got on a plane," he added.

But by continuing to target Israeli officials at a particularly delicate time - during the crafting of the Iran nuclear deal and efforts that would follow to have it approved by the Congress - the surveillance also picked up conversations between Israelis and members of Congress, especially those who needed to be persuaded to vote against the nuclear deal. So, too, Jewish-American groups actively involved in lobbying efforts against the deal.

The NSA's goal was "to give us an accurate illustrative picture of what [the Israelis] were doing," a senior U.S. official told the Journal.

And if the rights of elected public officials and private U.S. citizens were violated in the process, well, no big deal, right?

In fact, the White House was so wary of creating a paper trail that they let the NSA decide what to pass along. The names of individual lawmakers were reportedly removed from the intelligence reports before being passed on to the Obama administration, but that hardly instills confidence in the process.

This wasn't about national security at all at that stage of the game. It was about raw politics - who was going to vote for the Iran deal and who wasn't.

The NSA was being used for political purposes. And the Congress, which was subject to that violation of rights, has the responsibility to get to the bottom

Oh My: NSA's Eavesdropping Of Israeli Leaders Also Picked Up Private Conversations With Congress

Well, we now know that President Obama’s decision to curtail surveillance on friendly governments was something of a half-truth; the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on Israeli leaders, especially during the secret negotiations over the highly flawed Iran nuclear deal. Yet, the dragnet also picked up private conversations with members of Congress, which worried some U.S. officials that the executive branch would be accused of spying on U.S. lawmakers. Yes, indeed, spying on Congress would be an “oh, s**t, moment,” as The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

The U.S., pursuing a nuclear arms agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Mr. Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill.

The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.

White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign. They also recognized that asking for it was politically risky. So, wary of a paper trail stemming from a request, the White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said. “We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’

Stepped-up NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations—to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes, according to current and former officials familiar with the intercepts.

[…]

In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping. French President Fran├žois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said. Other allies were excluded from the protected list, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, which allowed the NSA to spy on their communications at the discretion of top officials.

Privately, Mr. Obama maintained the monitoring of Mr. Netanyahu on the grounds that it served a “compelling national security purpose,” according to current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Obama mentioned the exception in his speech but kept secret the leaders it would apply to.

Now, in truth, it’s not like the Israelis haven’t spied on us. Their version of the NSA, Unit 8200, gave the U.S. a new hacking tool, which we later found out also relayed how we were using it back to the Israelis, according to the Journal. Moreover, this wasn’t set up just to know what the Israelis were up to regarding combating the Iran deal in Congress. The publication also added that in 2011-12, U.S. intelligence was ramped up on Israel after fears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might strike Iran to prevent them from reaching the capability to build nuclear weapons. At the same time, we were conducting secret talks with Tehran…without telling Israel. And thus we have a relationship that former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden described as “the most combustible mixture of intimacy and caution that we have.” Truth be told, the NSA’s tabs on foreign leaders is so thorough that we reportedly know exactly what talking points these folks are going to bring up before they even meet the president. 

Yet, back to the Israeli campaign on the Hill to block the Iran deal:

NSA intercepts convinced the White House last year that Israel was spying on negotiations under way in Europe. Israeli officials later denied targeting U.S. negotiators, saying they had won access to U.S. positions by spying only on the Iranians.

By late 2014, White House officials knew Mr. Netanyahu wanted to block the emerging nuclear deal but didn’t know how.

[…]

Despite NSA surveillance, Obama administration officials said they were caught off guard when Mr. Boehner announced the invitation on Jan. 21.

Soon after, Israel’s lobbying campaign against the deal went into full swing on Capitol Hill, and it didn’t take long for administration and intelligence officials to realize the NSA was sweeping up the content of conversations with lawmakers.

The message to the NSA from the White House amounted to: “You decide” what to deliver, a former intelligence official said.

[…]

During Israel’s lobbying campaign in the months before the deal cleared Congress in September, the NSA removed the names of lawmakers from intelligence reports and weeded out personal information. The agency kept out “trash talk,” officials said, such as personal attacks on the executive branch.

Administration and intelligence officials said the White House didn’t ask the NSA to identify any lawmakers during this period.

“From what I can tell, we haven’t had a problem with how incidental collection has been handled concerning lawmakers,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He declined to comment on any specific communications between lawmakers and Israel.

Now, they did add there are protocols regarding “intercepted communications ‘to, from or about’ Americans dating back to the Cold War.” Americans and businesses are identified as “U.S. person and U.S. organization” respectively. Moreover, a 1990 revamp of the rules required a U.S. lawmaker be notified if their name was divulged to the executive “in summaries of intercepted communications.”

So, was the Obama White House spying on Congress? One could argue yes, albeit inadvertently–and they did clean up any riff raff that wasn’t germane to what the Obama administration was looking for in these intercepts. At the same time, it shows a) how messy things could get and b) rehashes how bad our relations with Israel have become. 

Cruz raises close to $20 million in quarter

Cruz raises close to $20 million in quarter
By Jonathan Swan - 12-30-15 19:03 PM EST

 
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised nearly $20 million in the fourth fundraising quarter of 2015 — a strong improvement on his earlier totals and a figure worthy of an emerging front-runner.
 
Cruz has grown his fundraising every quarter, with his dollar figures rising almost in lock-step with his polling and the general momentum of his campaign. 
 
He took $4.3 million in the first quarter, then $10 million in the second and $12.2 million in the third. And after beginning his campaign with pundits dismissing his chances, Cruz is now leading in Iowa and has surged to second place in national polls behind billionaire Donald Trump.
 
The Cruz campaign has built a strong base of small-dollar donors, claiming to have received donations from more than 300,000 people. 
 
Cruz's campaign manager Jeff Roe sent these statistics in a memo to the Texan's campaign staff Wednesday afternoon. 
 
In the memo, provided to The Hill, Roe describes a small-dollar fundraising operation that the rest of the Republican field - with the exception of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson - will struggle to match.
 
"Over 10,000 of our donors are ‘sustainers’ who committed to contribute on an automatic, monthly basis, and provide enough recurring revenue ($500,000 a month) to fund for our entire field operation," Roe writes.
 
Cruz is the only Republican candidate in the race to be receiving heavy support at both the high-dollar and low-dollar end. 
 
In the mid-year reports, Cruz's super-PAC's disclosed nearly $38 million donations, which put him second only to former Florida Gov. Bush in outside support. 
 
But unlike Bush's super-PAC Right to Rise — which has been spending its $103 million rapidly on TV advertising — Cruz's super-PACs have been sitting on their cash.

Get Ready For Racial Quotas On Your Neighborhood

President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development is plotting a power grab under a new rule that came into effect this past July, and we have the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on disparate impact in housing policy to thank for it.

HUD intends to insert itself into local zoning efforts through the AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) program to push affirmative action in housing policy, directing HUD grant recipients to “affirmatively further the Act’s goals of promoting fair housing and equal opportunity.”

But former elected officials Ken Blackwell and Rick Manning argue the “AFFH rule seeks to radically reinvent local zoning laws in the United States – reengineering America’s neighborhoods based on racial and ethnic quotas. Under the rule’s assessment tool, local governments are required to ‘identify neighborhoods or areas in the jurisdiction and region where racial/ethnic groups are segregated.’”

How Neutral Policies Are ‘Actually’ Discriminatory

To understand how HUD arrived at its new rule, we must revisit the SCOTUS ruling from the spring, Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., which essentially would decide whether local housing authorities are liable for discrimination claims if the racial composition of local neighborhoods displeases bureaucrats (also known as “disparate impact”).

Local governments are now liable for disparate impact claims, regardless of whether their policies were meant to discriminate.

For example, let’s say that a certain housing policy allows all people with equal qualifications an opportunity to live in a single-family house. Despite these universal standards for applicants, if it nevertheless leads to white people aggregating in suburban neighborhoods made up of single-family homes, and Hispanics and blacks aggregating in low-income apartments, the theory goes that this “disparate impact” can constitute racial discrimination.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that disparate impact claims, which have been allowed under the Civil Rights Act, can now be brought under the Fair Housing Act. This means local governments are now liable for disparate impact claims, regardless of whether their policies were meant to discriminate against protected classes like race or age. The court affirmed HUD’s long-held interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, and effectively permits HUD to intervene in cases of “a facially neutral practice that has a discriminatory effect.”

How Big Data Serves Big Government

Although the Inclusive Communities majority opinion expressly warns against using mere statistical disparities to shape housing policy—“Courts should avoid interpreting disparate-impact liability to be so expansive as to inject racial considerations into every housing decision”—it appears that HUD’s new approach takes that line more as a wink and a nod, not a wag of the finger. Their new assessment tool places a heavy emphasis on describing patterns of “segregation” and extremely detailed demographic analysis aimed at highlighting R/ECAP (Racially or Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty), especially regarding access to government services.

HUD clearly aims to glean mountains of demographic data, and you can bet your back yard that it won’t go to waste.

HUD clearly aims to glean mountains of demographic data, and you can bet your back yard that it won’t go to waste in the hands of the social justice bureaucracy. That data will be presented as evidence of the disparate impact of local housing policies, opening the door to federal intervention.

This is neither the first nor the last time that a Supreme Court ruling, based on a warped interpretation of existing laws, has permitted the iron fist of social justice to clench yet another domain of our local and private lives. The SCOTUS ruling and HUD’s new rule aren’t causally linked per se, but the Inclusive Communities ruling effectively enables a witch hunt led by zealous social justice warriors in the federal bureaucracy.

The attention this decision, as well as previous decisions predicated on disparate impact theory, deserves is well past due, especially given this effort by HUD at social engineering. The Inclusive Communities ruling, like the gay marriage ruling, exemplifies how the radical Left will stop at nothing to manipulate language into doing their bidding.

Torture Language Until It Serves Your Purposes

This is where “tortured language,” to borrow a term from Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, comes into play. The language of this disparate impact ruling, as with its predecessors, ignores and obscures the very basic acknowledgement that discrimination is a conscious effort, a word that stands for “the act of discriminating.” One cannot unconsciously discriminate, even though we have unconscious biases that influence our behavior. Discrimination is an act of the consciousness, a verb like discretion or discernment.

Disparate impact is an effect a policy can have, not an action taken by a conscious individual.

The theory of disparate impact itself is clearly a conflation of cause and effect, using choice bits of language, such as “otherwise adversely affect,” from the Civil Rights Act and AFFHA as cover. Disparate impact, literally meaning impact that is unequal, is an effect a policy can have, not an action taken by a conscious individual. Actions can be taken with intent to discriminate, but consequences themselves cannot constitute discrimination.

Of course, this does not mean no disparate impact claim has some grounds for a charge of racial discrimination. If the policy was written with intent to adversely impact minorities, then the disparate impact was caused by a discriminating act. It is for that act the parties responsible can be held to account under the law.

Conflating Cause and Effect

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), however, which has been bringing disparate impact suits under the Civil Rights Act for decades without turning up sinister racist individuals, and at a loss for a definable entity to indict for discrimination, would argue that the discrimination can lie not just with any individual parties with intent to discriminate, but with the “institution.”

The ‘institutional discrimination’ line is really just a different way of saying disparate impact and discrimination, cause and effect, are the same thing.

The same strain of reasoning was applied in the Inclusive Communities decision, meaning that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs was stuck with the burden of trying to prove a negative—if the discrimination is in the institution (the department) and not any individuals driving or applying the policy, then how do you prove your institution isn’t discriminating against minorities?

The “institutional discrimination” line is really just a different way of saying disparate impact and discrimination, cause and effect, are the same thing. Who defines “institution?” Who determines whether an institution is racist? If there are no intending parties, the only indicator one is left with is (you guessed it): disparate impact.

Even a simple grammatical assessment reveals the twisted nature of the language couching disparate impact. A verb cannot also be its direct object, as the Supreme Court has set up disparate impact (an object) and discrimination (a verb—to discriminate) to be; to assert this is a denial of reality and basic syntax. It is a mere staging of language, just sensical enough, at first glance, to help suspend disbelief.

So this is really circular reasoning, a rubber band stretched tight to make it appear a single line from point A to point B, which brings us back to the initial assertion that disparate impact is discrimination. For the Left, disparate impact has to be discrimination, because there are no definable intelligent parties on which to place intent. If discrimination is to be involved at all, if the suit is even to be brought to court, the language of disparate impact must look the part of a racist-homophobe-ageist-sexist.

From Torturing Language to Torturing Law

Justice Clarence Thomas points out in his dissent of Inclusive Communities that the wording in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifies that certain acts are unlawful “because of” (protected classes):

Section 2000e–2(a)(2) does not make unlawful all employment decisions that ‘limit, segregate, or classify . . . employees . . . in any way which would . . . otherwise adversely affect [an individual’s] status as an employee,’ but those that ‘otherwise adversely affect [an individual’s] status as an employee, because ofsuch individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.’ (emphasis added)

The phrase “adversely affect” cannot be isolated from the prepositional phrase “because of.” To rule disparate impact itself constitutes unlawful discrimination is to strike “because of” from the text of the law, much like Justice Roberts did with “established by the states” in the Affordable Care Act.

The progressive regulators and the leftists in the courts have ‘Grubered’ the Civil Rights Act.

It is indeed tortured language. The progressive regulators and the leftists in the courts have “Grubered” the Civil Rights Act.

Perhaps the greater irony is that EEOC and HUD base their litigation practices on the supposed “purpose” of the law, not the actual language. In other words, they take intent into account when writing their guidelines, even if they are wrong about the intent of the law, while maintaining that individual intent has no importance in determining whether a business is discriminating against (i.e. disparately impacting) protected classes. Intent matters to them when interpreting the law, but not when interpreting its effects.

The federal regulatory state preys on and bullies lower levels of government because the precedent for how we interpret and follow (or, more likely, ignore and obfuscate) laws has been set: just as the Supreme Court read into and manipulated language from the Civil Rights Act, so, too, HUD reads into and manipulates the court’s decision.

The Inclusive Communities ruling is just one example of the great manipulation of the Left, and how blotting out a few phrases, shifting the meaning of a few words, beget still more reimagined rules and new tools to power the federal social justice machine. Words serve their ends until they don’t; intent serves their purpose until it gets in the way.

The Supreme Court’s justification of disparate impact leaves us wondering what laws will they manipulate next, and what new federal powers will arise from them?


Read More Here

Rubio declares support for Convention of the States Project

Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hate crimes: Different Strokes

Rebel and Designated Driver: Ted Cruz and A Time for Truth

Obama's Legacy

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Playing the Trump Card

Playing the Trump Card

Playing the Trump Card

Donald Trump is an amazing presidential candidate. Besides being wealthy (at least on paper), he's  brash, arrogant and vain. Normally not admirable qualities, especially when running for the nation's top elected office. But in "The Donald's" case, it may be exactly what he needs to stand out. Besides, few candidates for higher office lack these same qualities. Have you ever noticed that individuals running for office, especially the higher offices of Congress or the Presidency, seem to all dress alike? Dark blue suits. White or off white shirts. About the only individuality they show is in their ties, and they're pretty conservative as well. Even the women running for office don't show much color. Basically it's all pretty bland. Their comments are just as equally bland, or worse, they're "safe". No one running for office really says what they're thinking. No one says we should bomb the bejeezus out of so-and-so, or tar and feather the bankers (and actually mean it). When was the last time a politician actually spoke to Americans on their level---direct and honestly?  For anyone under 30---heck, 40---I doubt they've ever heard one before. Even for those over 40, we'd probably have to go back years. Frankly, they're afraid to speak their minds or to "offend" some group. They stay well within the bounds of what their pollsters and media consultants say is acceptable.

The trouble is that the candidates are all alike, despite their polished and well-rehearsed "I'm one of the Common People" speeches and stops at some local eatery for photo-ops. They're not. They are cookie cutter candidates.  They are polished to the point of looking phony if not downright comical (case in point, Mitt Romney or Al Gore).  They talk about what they'll do if elected when we known darn good and well they can't do anything by themselves. They like to talk in terms of "us" versus the Beltway crowd when in fact, they are part of the Beltway crowd. They are on a first name, backslappin', palm greasing basis with them. Most in Congress, if not all, are millionaires several times over going in. If not, then they are within a few years of being elected. Frankly, public office, especially at the federal level, is a Millionaires Club, and the cost to play (that is, run for office) is way above  the means of most ordinary Americans (where probably the best ideas and common sense solutions are to be found).  

We all know America is no longer a democratic republic like what the Founding Fathers intended. We're an oligarchy, controlled by corporate interests and corporate money. The truth be known, most in Washington couldn't care less what you and I think, especially with the passage of Citizens United a few years ago by the Supreme Court. As you'll recall, Citizens United decided the money is in reality nothing more than free speech, and that corporations are actually "people" and therefore, entitled to the same rights as an individual. Well, sort of.  You see, we're still capped at how much "free speech" we can donate to candidates, but these judicial Frankensteins can donate almost as much as they please. They already dominated the time of Congress and the President (as well as their staff and others in key positions). Now, they can compensate them with money so they don't have to face the unwashed masses.

Then there is "The Donald". True, he wears the usual imperious dark blue or grey suits and the prerequisite white shirts. He also almost always wear his signature crimson red tie which he's worn for decades (in fact, I think he may have pioneered the "power suit" image). My first encounter with Trump was watching Robin Leach's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" back in the self styled "Go-Go" 80's in which Trump and his then wife, Ivanka, made frequent appearances. This was the era of corporate raiders like Carl Icahn and T. Boone Pickens, conspicuous consumption, big hair, boy bands, and glitz was king (or queen...or sometimes both. It was hard to tell).  I had recently gotten out of the military and after a short stint as an assistance store manager, went on to college where I obtained a Masters degree in International Economics. As part of our coursework, we were required to read various articles from Forbes, Barron's, the Wallstreet Journal, and other financial media. In nearly everyone there was an article about Trump and a big ole color photo. I went on to purchase several books both by and about him. Trump has never been shy about successes, or his failures including some ill-conceived over reaches in Atlantic City, four bankruptcies, and a divorce. Let's face it, the guy knows how to get and manage publicity no matter the situation.

Trump's political journey has been as colorful as his financial one. He's supported candidates from both sides of the aisle. According to Trump, many were personal friends or individuals he's had successful business relationships with, so how could he not?  He's been a independent, a Democrat, and now a Republican. Someone people try to make that an issue, but why? As long as you're not holding an elected office, you should feel free to change your political registration anytime and as often as you'd like. It's your right as an American Citizen. Issues and positions change as new information becomes available. Political parties even change. Some shift Left or Right and back again, which leaves people with solid core values in something of a lurch--- what to do when their political party or leaders leaves them? Perhaps that's one reason the majority of Americans today are registered as Independent.

Nevertheless, the political elite has a problem with Donald Trump, and that problem is Donald Trump himself. He isn't suppose to be there. Trump was at first considered comic relief; a "not ready for primetime" candidate. Pundits and assorted talking heads claimed he wasn't a "serious" candidate. Many called for him to drop out, yet his approval numbers began to climb, and along with it, the size of the crowds who came out to see him. This, of course, perplexed the status quo and so they began a subtle campaign to belittle, intimidate, and make fun of Donald Trump and his campaign, and each time, the approval numbers just kept getting higher and the crowds larger. "Why?" they must have wondered.  He wasn't a Washington insider trying to pretend that's he's really a Washington outsider. He wasn't dependant on the corporate elites who finance campaigns and buy candidates the way some people buy washing machines. And his speeches! What's with that? Trump's are so...unscripted. He's actually telling people what he thinks; unfiltered and occasionally slightly off the wall (ok, maybe more than "occasionally"), but somehow, it's what the people want to hear, or at least it's what the people need to hear because they believe it themselves. He's not afraid to speak his mind or go toe-to-toe with anyone in the other party, his party, or even the media. 

The US has lost a get deal of respect and prestige over the last, roughly, 7 years thanks to Obama. The US is seen as not as strong or reliable to enemies and friends alike. In fact, the US President is now ranked as the third most powerful office in the world, behind Russia's Putin and Germany's Merkel (for the previous two years, it ranked second behind Putin). Obama's professional and even personal relationships with key world leaders has been chilly at best. But what do some of these leaders think about "The Donald"? Actually, they respect him as a leader and man of his word. Some admit to genuinely liking him as a person, but, of course, they're careful to avoid being accused of "meddling" in US politics, particularly if it would damages Trump's chances of winning the Republican Primary.

Yet, throughout all this, the media, both on the Left and on the Right, have been doing everything they can to smear, bully, intimidate, and ridicule Trump's race. They've recruited various TV and sports personalities to come out against Trump (who they come out forappears to be less important right now). Some have encouraged the other candidates to engage in Trump-like rhetoric---pre-vetted of course---in the hopes of at least knocking Trump's approval ratings down a notch or two if nothing else. Some on the conservative right have been trying to sound the alarm that nominating, let alone electing, a candidate like Donald Trump would spell the end of the Republican Party. Even a few on the Left have been starting to echo that sentiment as well, lest some Leftwing version of Trump decides to challenge the status quo and run for office. They've climbed under every rock and sunk to every low in trying to find a way to force Trump out. Yet, despite everything they do, Trump's numbers keep rising and the crowds keep growing.

Now it appears the latest effort is to trot out the big bogeyman, who appears to a woman in the person of Hillary Clinton. Unless conservative voters come to their senses, Hillary Clinton will be the next US President.  As proof, they display (edited) poll numbers as proof that this or that candidate is the only one capable of stopping the Clinton juggernaut (sorry Bernie, the Establishment Democrats have already thrown you to the (Blue) wolves).  I have to confess, I never seen so many so scared of one candidate as they are of Donald Trump. Not even in Obama's second campaign for president was there so much fear and desperation envisioned as a Republican nominee named Donald Trump!

It has not been my intent to promote Donald Trump or Trump's campaign to become the Republican nominee. In fact, like the majority of Americans, I'm an Independent and thus can't vote in a partisan primary. However, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. Her actions, especially regarding Benghazi and it's still unfolding aftermath, should earn her a trip to the "Big House" and not to the White House. If nothing else, her actions and demeanor says a lot about her character, and that alone should disqualify her for the Office of President or any other political or politically related position. As for "The Donald", I don't know if he would make a good president or not. Much of what he says is simply impractical, even as a president. If elected, he will quickly discover that being president of a corporation where, with a snap of his fingers, he can get things done or fire them, is not the same as being President of the United States, where so much is outside of their control or ability to respond; where corporate special interests dictates much of what happens and what doesn't happen. Still, after eight years of George W Bush, where people said it couldn't get any worse, and nearly eight years where we found out just how wrong we could be, Donald Trump just may the relief we need.

 Are Donald Trump's poll numbers understated?

http://www.businessinsider.com/are-donald-trump-poll-numbers-understated-2015-12

 The mind blowing turnaround in Donald Trump's poll numbers

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/12/27/the-mind-blowing-turnaround-in-donald-trumps-poll-numbers-expla/21288578/?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-sb-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D187125247

 Donald Trump's six biggest gaffes of the presidential campaign...so far

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/donald-trumps-six-biggest-gaffes-of-the-presidential-campaignso-far-10401459.html

 Fact-checking Donald Trump's presidential campaign kickoff

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/election-2016-fact-checking-donald-trumps-presidential-campaign-kickoff/

 Donald Trump says the darndest things

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2015/06/17/donald-trump-announce-president-candidate-elextion-2016-ar-origwx.cnn

Written by

Donald Trump is an amazing presidential candidate. Besides being wealthy (at least on paper), he's  brash, arrogant and vain. Normally not admirable qualities, especially when running for the nation's top elected office. But in "The Donald's" case, it may be exactly what he needs to stand out. Besides, few candidates for higher office lack these same qualities. Have you ever noticed that individuals running for office, especially the higher offices of Congress or the Presidency, seem to all dress alike? Dark blue suits. White or off white shirts. About the only individuality they show is in their ties, and they're pretty conservative as well. Even the women running for office don't show much color. Basically it's all pretty bland. Their comments are just as equally bland, or worse, they're "safe". No one running for office really says what they're thinking. No one says we should bomb the bejeezus out of so-and-so, or tar and feather the bankers (and actually mean it). When was the last time a politician actually spoke to Americans on their level---direct and honestly?  For anyone under 30---heck, 40---I doubt they've ever heard one before. Even for those over 40, we'd probably have to go back years. Frankly, they're afraid to speak their minds or to "offend" some group. They stay well within the bounds of what their pollsters and media consultants say is acceptable.

The trouble is that the candidates are all alike, despite their polished and well-rehearsed "I'm one of the Common People" speeches and stops at some local eatery for photo-ops. They're not. They are cookie cutter candidates.  They are polished to the point of looking phony if not downright comical (case in point, Mitt Romney or Al Gore).  They talk about what they'll do if elected when we known darn good and well they can't do anything by themselves. They like to talk in terms of "us" versus the Beltway crowd when in fact, they are part of the Beltway crowd. They are on a first name, backslappin', palm greasing basis with them. Most in Congress, if not all, are millionaires several times over going in. If not, then they are within a few years of being elected. Frankly, public office, especially at the federal level, is a Millionaires Club, and the cost to play (that is, run for office) is way above  the means of most ordinary Americans (where probably the best ideas and common sense solutions are to be found).  

We all know America is no longer a democratic republic like what the Founding Fathers intended. We're an oligarchy, controlled by corporate interests and corporate money. The truth be known, most in Washington couldn't care less what you and I think, especially with the passage of Citizens United a few years ago by the Supreme Court. As you'll recall, Citizens United decided the money is in reality nothing more than free speech, and that corporations are actually "people" and therefore, entitled to the same rights as an individual. Well, sort of.  You see, we're still capped at how much "free speech" we can donate to candidates, but these judicial Frankensteins can donate almost as much as they please. They already dominated the time of Congress and the President (as well as their staff and others in key positions). Now, they can compensate them with money so they don't have to face the unwashed masses.

Then there is "The Donald". True, he wears the usual imperious dark blue or grey suits and the prerequisite white shirts. He also almost always wear his signature crimson red tie which he's worn for decades (in fact, I think he may have pioneered the "power suit" image). My first encounter with Trump was watching Robin Leach's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" back in the self styled "Go-Go" 80's in which Trump and his then wife, Ivanka, made frequent appearances. This was the era of corporate raiders like Carl Icahn and T. Boone Pickens, conspicuous consumption, big hair, boy bands, and glitz was king (or queen...or sometimes both. It was hard to tell).  I had recently gotten out of the military and after a short stint as an assistance store manager, went on to college where I obtained a Masters degree in International Economics. As part of our coursework, we were required to read various articles from Forbes, Barron's, the Wallstreet Journal, and other financial media. In nearly everyone there was an article about Trump and a big ole color photo. I went on to purchase several books both by and about him. Trump has never been shy about successes, or his failures including some ill-conceived over reaches in Atlantic City, four bankruptcies, and a divorce. Let's face it, the guy knows how to get and manage publicity no matter the situation.

Trump's political journey has been as colorful as his financial one. He's supported candidates from both sides of the aisle. According to Trump, many were personal friends or individuals he's had successful business relationships with, so how could he not?  He's been a independent, a Democrat, and now a Republican. Someone people try to make that an issue, but why? As long as you're not holding an elected office, you should feel free to change your political registration anytime and as often as you'd like. It's your right as an American Citizen. Issues and positions change as new information becomes available. Political parties even change. Some shift Left or Right and back again, which leaves people with solid core values in something of a lurch--- what to do when their political party or leaders leaves them? Perhaps that's one reason the majority of Americans today are registered as Independent.

Nevertheless, the political elite has a problem with Donald Trump, and that problem is Donald Trump himself. He isn't suppose to be there. Trump was at first considered comic relief; a "not ready for primetime" candidate. Pundits and assorted talking heads claimed he wasn't a "serious" candidate. Many called for him to drop out, yet his approval numbers began to climb, and along with it, the size of the crowds who came out to see him. This, of course, perplexed the status quo and so they began a subtle campaign to belittle, intimidate, and make fun of Donald Trump and his campaign, and each time, the approval numbers just kept getting higher and the crowds larger. "Why?" they must have wondered.  He wasn't a Washington insider trying to pretend that's he's really a Washington outsider. He wasn't dependant on the corporate elites who finance campaigns and buy candidates the way some people buy washing machines. And his speeches! What's with that? Trump's are so...unscripted. He's actually telling people what he thinks; unfiltered and occasionally slightly off the wall (ok, maybe more than "occasionally"), but somehow, it's what the people want to hear, or at least it's what the people need to hear because they believe it themselves. He's not afraid to speak his mind or go toe-to-toe with anyone in the other party, his party, or even the media. 

The US has lost a get deal of respect and prestige over the last, roughly, 7 years thanks to Obama. The US is seen as not as strong or reliable to enemies and friends alike. In fact, the US President is now ranked as the third most powerful office in the world, behind Russia's Putin and Germany's Merkel (for the previous two years, it ranked second behind Putin). Obama's professional and even personal relationships with key world leaders has been chilly at best. But what do some of these leaders think about "The Donald"? Actually, they respect him as a leader and man of his word. Some admit to genuinely liking him as a person, but, of course, they're careful to avoid being accused of "meddling" in US politics, particularly if it would damages Trump's chances of winning the Republican Primary.

Yet, throughout all this, the media, both on the Left and on the Right, have been doing everything they can to smear, bully, intimidate, and ridicule Trump's race. They've recruited various TV and sports personalities to come out against Trump (who they come out forappears to be less important right now). Some have encouraged the other candidates to engage in Trump-like rhetoric---pre-vetted of course---in the hopes of at least knocking Trump's approval ratings down a notch or two if nothing else. Some on the conservative right have been trying to sound the alarm that nominating, let alone electing, a candidate like Donald Trump would spell the end of the Republican Party. Even a few on the Left have been starting to echo that sentiment as well, lest some Leftwing version of Trump decides to challenge the status quo and run for office. They've climbed under every rock and sunk to every low in trying to find a way to force Trump out. Yet, despite everything they do, Trump's numbers keep rising and the crowds keep growing.

Now it appears the latest effort is to trot out the big bogeyman, who appears to a woman in the person of Hillary Clinton. Unless conservative voters come to their senses, Hillary Clinton will be the next US President.  As proof, they display (edited) poll numbers as proof that this or that candidate is the only one capable of stopping the Clinton juggernaut (sorry Bernie, the Establishment Democrats have already thrown you to the (Blue) wolves).  I have to confess, I never seen so many so scared of one candidate as they are of Donald Trump. Not even in Obama's second campaign for president was there so much fear and desperation envisioned as a Republican nominee named Donald Trump!

It has not been my intent to promote Donald Trump or Trump's campaign to become the Republican nominee. In fact, like the majority of Americans, I'm an Independent and thus can't vote in a partisan primary. However, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. Her actions, especially regarding Benghazi and it's still unfolding aftermath, should earn her a trip to the "Big House" and not to the White House. If nothing else, her actions and demeanor says a lot about her character, and that alone should disqualify her for the Office of President or any other political or politically related position. As for "The Donald", I don't know if he would make a good president or not. Much of what he says is simply impractical, even as a president. If elected, he will quickly discover that being president of a corporation where, with a snap of his fingers, he can get things done or fire them, is not the same as being President of the United States, where so much is outside of their control or ability to respond; where corporate special interests dictates much of what happens and what doesn't happen. Still, after eight years of George W Bush, where people said it couldn't get any worse, and nearly eight years where we found out just how wrong we could be, Donald Trump just may the relief we need.

 Are Donald Trump's poll numbers understated?

http://www.businessinsider.com/are-donald-trump-poll-numbers-understated-2015-12

 The mind blowing turnaround in Donald Trump's poll numbers

http://www.aol.com/article/2015/12/27/the-mind-blowing-turnaround-in-donald-trumps-poll-numbers-expla/21288578/?icid=maing-grid7%7Chtmlws-sb-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D187125247

 Donald Trump's six biggest gaffes of the presidential campaign...so far

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/donald-trumps-six-biggest-gaffes-of-the-presidential-campaignso-far-10401459.html

 Fact-checking Donald Trump's presidential campaign kickoff

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/election-2016-fact-checking-donald-trumps-presidential-campaign-kickoff/

 Donald Trump says the darndest things

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2015/06/17/donald-trump-announce-president-candidate-elextion-2016-ar-origwx.cnn

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