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Henry Louis Mencken was a 20th-century journalist who wrote for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. There was a quote attributed to him which was brought to my attention:
Mencken wrote as follows about the difficulties of good men reaching national office when such campaigns must necessarily be conducted remotely:
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.
“The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.^ Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920.”
We are now at that time when this prediction has become real.

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The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian irredentists, 28 June 1914
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead, by two gun shots[52] in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six assassins (five Serbs and one Bosniak) coordinated by Danilo Ilić, a Bosnian Serb and a member of the Black Hand secret society.
The assassination is significant because it was perceived by Austria-Hungary as an existential challenge to her and in her view provided a casus belli with Serbia. The Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph was aged 84, so the assassination of his heir, so soon before he was likely to hand over the crown, was seen as a direct challenge to Austrian polity. Many ministers in Austria, especially Berchtold, argue this act must be avenged.[53] Moreover, the Archduke, who had been a decisive voice for peace in the previous years, had now been removed from the discussions. The assassination triggered the July Crisis, which turned a local conflict into a European, and then a worldwide, war. 

This war gave rise to the mindset of Adolph Hitler, after the war’s end with Germany being the loser and having to pay reparations, which left the country devastated and broke. The populace was as bad off as they would become at the end of the Next world war (WWII). The rise of Adolph Hitler was precipitated by unrest in Germany after WWI and his jailing for participation in a failed coup. After his release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, antisemitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as part of a Jewish conspiracy. This was the beginning of his rise to power which occurred over the next 10 years. This rise culminated in WWII which saw the atrocities of the Nazi death camps and the ultimate destruction of  German and Japanese (his ally) cities .

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Politics
Stephen King Nails The Big Problem With Republicans’ Argument Against Impeachment
Lee Moran, HuffPost 1 hour 21 minutes ago
Author Stephen King on Thursday dismantled a key Republican talking point against the impeachment of President Donald Trump over the Ukraine scandal with a blunt reminder about the 2016 election.
“I get a kick out of the Republicans saying impeachment is an effort to overturn the will of the American people when Hilary (sic) beat the dumbbell by 3 million votes,” the horror novelist tweeted. “He won because of the antiquated electoral college, a 2-mule wagon in a jet plane world,” King added.

King ― a frequent and vocal critic of Trump and his administration ― noted in a later tweet how “Trumpers hate that 3 million vote differential.”
“Bring it up and it’s like hitting on a raw nerve,” he wrote.

King’s posts resonated with fans who called the analysis “bang-on” and “excellent.”

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“Trump Signs Hong Kong Democracy Legislation, Angering China
The measure, which could lead to sanctions on Chinese officials for cracking down on the protesters, drew bipartisan support from Congress.”

Interesting That TOTUS can sign on to Hong Kong civil rights while doing very much the same thing on the Southern border. It appears that TOTUS and his crew will continue their outrageous actions against immigrants with no restrictions or objections from Congress (who really should be involved). Apparently, the State Department has lost sight of what our contributions to these South American countries did for their populations. Those contributions and our involvement made life for those now immigrants bearable, since the current administration has all but ceased these actions immigration has become a crisis. This border “wall” and the processing has put an extreme burden on Mexico, our nearest ally. This burden has had a ripple effect down the entire line of countries on the continent. If this additional burden is evaluated, it will show that the “Dictators” in certain countries are plying their trade which exacerbates an already bad situation. The answer could be that the  United States government along with Nato partners revisit what aid is given and how it is used in South and Central America. This going it alone guided by misinformation or no information is no way to run a country (or a business shown by Trump’s Enterprises).

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Mike Luckovich Comic Strip for December 06, 2019 Drew Sheneman Comic Strip for December 05, 2019

Kevin Kallaugher Comic Strip for December 06, 2019

 

 

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Kristin Myers 23 hours ago
Sen. Kamala Harris suspended her campaign Tuesday afternoon, telling supporters in an email that her campaign “simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.” While the former California Attorney General lagged behind rivals like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Harris had raised nearly $37 million by the end of September, with $10.5 million cash on hand, according to her most recent FEC filings.
But what will happen to all that money now that her campaign is over? Can a candidate just keep the money? The answer is: not exactly.
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), there are several permissible things that a candidate can do with the money they’ve received while fundraising. They can use it for moving expenses, pay campaign staff, purchase gifts of “nominal” value to those who aren’t a member of their family, donate it to charity, move it to a state or local party committee, transfer it to a future campaign, or to a state/local candidate.
In Harris’s case, for example, she may choose to roll over funds to her Senate campaign when she is up for reelection in 2022.
Candidates can also return funds to their donors, but that might be easier said than done.
“Sometimes, they do [give it back],” says Ann Ravel, former chair of the FEC. “I wouldn’t say it’s the usual thing to do. But I have seen it. For me, that seems to be the appropriate way to go, though obviously, it might be a difficult computation problem.”
Ravel also noted that candidates infrequently use the money to give to charity.
“It seems to be more common that they’ll give it to other political party committees to be used in their self interest in some ways,” she says.
What a candidate can’t do, the law makes clear, is use campaign funds for personal use.
But it does happen.
Ravel says she knows of “many cases” during her time at the FEC where candidates would use campaign funds for personal use, often trying to make it appear that they were doing campaign activities.
Campaign finance law expert and Stetson University Law Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy says candidates can be “sorely tempted, and put it in their own pockets, or buy things they think will be fun for themselves and their family.”
She points to Duncan Hunter, the congressman from California who is pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud. In one instance, Hunter allegedly used campaign funds to purchase plane tickets for his family rabbit Eggburt.

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter speaks after leaving federal court Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in San Diego. Hunter said in a TV interview that aired Monday he plans to plead guilty to the misuse of campaign funds at a federal court hearing Tuesday in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Torres-Spelliscy says that the FEC is a “toothless agency,” making it that much harder for campaign finance law to be enforced. With three Democrats and three Republicans, she explained the agency often just “deadlocks,” preventing the commission from even moving forward with an investigation.
“A lot of unscrupulous candidates know this,” she added.
Sometimes, candidates keep the money flowing from their campaigns, long after they’ve stopped running for office. An investigation earlier this year from the Tampa Bay Times discovered some 50 campaigns that were still paying for goods and services, despite a candidate not running.
These “dormant” campaigns, Ravel says, are a “really big issue,” pointing out the case of Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai whose campaign continued to pay people — even though he had died.
A big problem is the inability of the FEC to investigate or enforce the law, Torres-Spelliscy says. Right now the FEC has lost its quorum, meaning there aren’t enough commissioners to vote on investigations. Of the six available seats at the FEC, three are currently vacant.
“It doesn’t help the rule of law to have the primary regulator of money and politics dysfunctional during a presidential election,” she says. “I find that so alarming.”
Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance

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Politricks- Usual Trump deal, “what’s in it for me?” MA

Conrad Duncan, The Independent 1 hour 27 minutes ago

A construction company owned by a Republican donor has been given a $400m (£308.5m) contract to build sections of Donald Trump’s border wall.
The Department of Defence has announced Fisher Sand and Gravel Co, from North Dakota, will build new barriers in Arizona following reports that Mr Trump repeatedly pushed for the company to be given the contract, despite concerns from engineering officials.
Mr Trump had urged officials from the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the company, according to Washington Post reports, and is a fan of the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, who has appeared on Fox News to promote the firm.
However, he was apparently told that Fisher Sand and Gravel’s bid did not meet the standards required for the project.
The company has also been supported by senator Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota, who was given $10,000 by the Fisher family for his Senate campaign in 2018.
Mr Cramer said he was “glad to see more progress being made” on the border wall and “grateful” that Fisher Sand and Gravel had been awarded the contract.
“I know they will do very well, performing high quality work at a good bargain, all for the security of the people of the United States,” he said in a statement.
The Republican senator took Mr Fisher as his guest to the 2018 State of the Union address but said he has not pushed Mr Trump to pick the firm, even though he welcomed the idea of a North Dakota company winning the contract.
Mr Cramer said in May that the president “always brings [the company] up” in conversations and Mr Trump likes Mr Fisher because he has seen him advocating for his firm’s plan on TV.
Fisher Sand and Gravel has claimed it can build the wall faster and cheaper than other companies.
It also has a record of more than $1m in fines for environmental and tax violations, according to CNN, and its former co-owner pleaded guilty to tax fraud and was sentenced to 37 months in prison in 2009.
When asked by CNN about these violations and legal problems, the company said the issues were “resolved years ago” and had “nothing to do with the excellent product and work that Fisher is proposing with regard to protecting America’s southern border”.
In April, Mr Trump mentioned Mr Fisher on Fox News after the company offered to build 234 miles of the border wall for $1.4bn – a fraction of the $8bn cost projected for the project.
When Fox News host Sean Hannity asked about the bid, the president replied that his administration was “dealing with him [Mr Fisher]” and said the company was “recommended strongly by a great new senator, Kevin Cramer”.
Fisher Sand and Gravel has worked with a number of Trump allies, including former adviser Steve Bannon, to build border fences on private land using donations.
Mr Trump has pledged to build 450 to 500 miles of new border barriers by the end of 2020 but so far his administration has only built about 85 miles of new fencing, which has mostly replaced smaller old structures that existed before he took office in 2017.

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If you have not been paying attention, look again. MA

Published 23 hours ago on December 2, 2019
By Robert Reich
He’s maybe the most dangerous politician of my lifetime. He’s helped transform the Republican Party into a cult, worshiping at the altar of authoritarianism. He’s damaged our country in ways that may take a generation to undo. The politician I’m talking about, of course, is Mitch McConnell.
Two goals for November 3, 2020: The first and most obvious is to get the worst president in history out of the White House. That’s necessary but not sufficient. We also have to flip the Senate and remove the worst Senate Majority Leader in history.

Like Trump, Mitch McConnell is no garden-variety bad public official. McConnell puts party above America, and Trump above party. Even if Trump is gone, if the Senate remains in Republican hands and McConnell is reelected, America loses because McConnell will still have a chokehold on our democracy.
Happy Holidays! As a special thanks for your support this year, you can get Raw ad-free for just $2 a week. Now until Dec. 31.

This is the man who refused for almost a year to allow the Senate to consider President Obama’s moderate Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland. When Trump became president, this is the man who got rid of the age-old Senate rule requiring 60 Senators to agree on a Supreme Court nomination so he could ram through not one but two Supreme Court justices, including one with a likely history of sexual assault.
This is the man who rushed through the Senate, without a single hearing, a $2 trillion tax cut for big corporations and wealthy Americans – a tax cut that raised the government debt by almost the same amount, generated no new investment, failed to raise wages, but gave the stock market a temporary sugar high because most corporations used the tax savings to buy back their own shares of stock.
McConnell refuses to support what’s needed for comprehensive election security – although both the U.S. intelligence community and Special Prosecutor Mueller say Moscow is continuing to hack into our voting machines and to weaponize disinformation through social media. McConnell has earned the nickname “Moscow Mitch” because he’s doing exactly what Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump want him to do – leave America vulnerable to another Putin-supported victory for Trump.
McConnell is also blocking bipartisan background-check legislation for gun sales, even after the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, El Paso and Odessa, Texas.
So even if Trump is out of the White House, if McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader he will not allow a Democratic president to govern.
He won’t allow debate or votes on Medicare for All, universal pre-K, a wealth tax, student loan forgiveness, or the Green New Deal. He won’t allow confirmation votes on judges nominated by a Democratic president.
The good news is McConnell is the least popular senator in the country with his own constituents. He’s repeatedly sacrificed Kentucky to Trump’s agenda – for example, agreeing to Trump’s so-called emergency funding for a border wall, which would take $63 million away from projects like a new middle school on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee.
McConnell is even cutting funding for black lung disease suffered by Kentucky coal miners. I know from my years as labor secretary that coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and the number of cases of incurable black lung disease has been on the rise. But when a group of miners took a 10-hour bus ride to Washington this past summer to ask McConnell to restore the funding, McConnell met with them for one minute and then refused to help them. No wonder Democrats are lining up in Kentucky to run against Moscow Mitch in 2020.
The not-so-good news is that McConnell is up for re-election the same day as Donald Trump, and Trump did well in Kentucky in 2016. This means we have to help organize Kentucky, just as we have to organize other states that may not be swing states in the presidential election but could take back the Senate.
Consider Georgia: Republican Senator Johnny Isakson is retiring, meaning both of Georgia’s Senate seats are now up for grabs. And this one extra seat—in a state that is trending blue—could be the tipping point that allows Democrats to win enough seats to end GOP control of the Senate.
Trump has to go, but so does McConnell.
Here’s what you can do: Wherever you are in the country, you can donate to McConnell’s challengers. If you live in or near Kentucky, you can get out and knock doors or make calls. Or if you have friends or family in the state, encourage them to get involved.
As to the question of who is worse, Trump or McConnell — the answer is that it’s too close to call. The two of them have degraded and corrupted American democracy. We need them both out.

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World Reuters
Pompeo says documents confirm China committing ‘very significant’ Xinjiang abuses. Recently leaked documents confirm China is committing “very significant” human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other minority groups in mass detention, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

While it is all well and good to report the Chinese human rights abuses buy what about the Human rights abuses here and those caused by the Administration’s immigration policies. This is indicative of the current administration’s lack of engagement in its own actions on human rights. TOTUS’s henchmen have been following the guidelines of a pseudo-intellectual abetted by a cadre of miscreants.

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Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
USA TODAYNovember 26, 2019

The world’s most potent economy is dying at a worrisome pace. (Wire Images)
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The engine that powers the world’s most potent economy is dying at a worrisome pace, a “distinctly American phenomenon’’ with no easily discernible cause or simple solution.
Those are some of the conclusions from a comprehensive new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University showing that mortality rates for U.S. adults ages 25-64 continue to increase, driving down the general population’s life expectancy for at least three consecutive years.
The report, “Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017,’’ was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study paints a bleak picture of a workforce plagued by drug overdoses, suicides and organ-system diseases while grappling with economic stresses.
“This looks like an excellent paper – just what we needed to help unravel the overall decline in life expectancy in the U.S.,’’ said Eileen Crimmins, an associate dean at the University of Southern California who’s an expert on the link between health and socioeconomic factors.
In a trend that cuts across racial and ethnic boundaries, the U.S. has the worst midlife mortality rate among 17 high-income countries despite leading the world in per-capita spending on health care.
And while life expectancy in those other industrialized nations continues to inch up, it has been going in the opposite direction in America, decreasing from a peak of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017, the last year covered by the report.
By comparison, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, the average longevity in similar countries is 82.2 years. Japan’s is 84.1, France’s 82.4 and Canada’s 81.9. They left the U.S. behind in the 1980s and increased the distance as the rate of progress in this country diminished and eventually halted in 2011.
Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the VCU Center on Society and Health and the study’s lead author, said the reasons for the decline go well beyond the lack of universal health care in the U.S. – in contrast with those other nations – although that’s a factor.
“It would be easier if we could blame this whole trend on one problem, like guns or obesity or the opioid epidemic, all of which distinguish the U.S. from the other countries,’’ Woolf told USA TODAY. “But we found increases in death rates across 35 causes of death.’’
They were most pronounced in the industrial Midwest, the 13 Appalachian states and upper New England, which Woolf attributed partly to the decline in manufacturing jobs and the opioid epidemic.
Of the top 10 states with the highest number of excess deaths in the 25-64 age range – meaning deaths above projections based on U.S. mortality rates – eight were in the Rust Belt or Appalachia. Half of the excess deaths were concentrated in the latter region.
The Ohio Valley – comprising Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania – accounted for one-third.
Some of the other numbers mined by the study, based on data compiled by the U.S. Mortality Database and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are staggering:
• Between 1999 and 2017, midlife mortality from drug overdoses spiked by 386.5%.
• In that same age group and time period, deaths from hypertensive diseases increased by 78.9%, and those linked to obesity by 114%.
• Suicides rose by 38% and climbed 55.9% among those ages 55-64.
Those are a lot of lives snuffed out in prime years, a long-range threat to an economy that ranks No. 1 globally in gross domestic product.
“Not only are employers more likely to see premature deaths in their workers, but also greater illness rates and greater disability, and that puts U.S. businesses at a disadvantage against businesses in other countries that have a healthier and more productive workforce,’’ Woolf said, adding that employers here are already saddled with high health care costs.
US mortality rate ‘root causes’ include lack of education and living wages
The report showed mortality rates among those younger than 25 and older than 64 have decreased. That might point a finger at the country’s dysfunctional health care system for working adults, because many in those other age groups can be covered by either the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicare.
Woolf disputes that notion, saying only 10% to 20% of health outcomes can be attributed to medical care. He said the bigger culprit is a lack of social programs and support systems more common in other wealthy countries for when working families run into difficult times.
Those rough spells, often associated with a job loss, can lead to the kind of unhealthy behaviors – drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, overeating, suicide attempts – that result in what have become known as “deaths of despair.’’
Woolf said a noticeable increase in those is yet another indication of the seriousness of the problem the U.S. faces, one he said will require investment from the public and private sectors to address.
Even if Americans were to reverse their recent backward trend, one estimate says that at its rate of longevity growth from the past several years it would take the U.S. more than 100 years to catch up to the average life expectancy other wealthy countries reached by 2016.
“We’re making a huge mistake if we don’t step back and look at the root causes,’’ Woolf said, including a lack of educational opportunities and living wages among the likely causes. “The prescription for the country is we’ve got to help these people. And if we don’t, we’re literally going to pay with our lives.’’
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US life expectancy continues downward spiral, study shows

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