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Democrats: Trump Must Surrender On Funding For A Border Wall To Avoid A Government Shutdown On His 100th Day In Office

Is Donald Trump going to unconditionally surrender to the Democrats and completely give up his dream of building a border wall in order to avoid a government shutdown on his 100th day in office?  As I have warned before, the Democrats are perfectly willing to force a government shutdown if the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress do not let them win all of the key battles in this funding bill fight.  It is being reported that the Trump administration wants 3 billion dollars for extra border security and for construction of a border wall, and the Democrats are insisting that they will keep any bill that includes money for a border wall from ever getting through Congress.  And of course the Democrats are also taking a very hard line on funding for Planned Parenthood, federal support for key Obamacare provisions, and resistance to increased defense spending.  If the Trump administration and enough establishment Republicans in Congress cave in to the outrageous demands of the Democrats, a government shutdown will be avoided.  If not, a government shutdown will begin on April 29th (Trump’s 100th day in office), and it could easily turn out to be the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States.

If Trump gives up on his border wall now, it is quite likely that he will never get it.

Emboldened by this success, the Democrats will simply threaten to block any new bill that contains funding for a border wall in the future.  At some point Trump is going to have to stand up for himself if he ever wants to see his number one campaign promise become a reality, and the longer he waits the less leverage he is going to have.

At this moment, the Trump administration appears to be taking a tough stance on border wall funding, and they have even offered a deal to the Democrats that would trade continued Obamacare payments to insurers for money for a border wall…

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget chief, said the wall is the administration’s “top priority” for the talks, adding they would support key ObamaCare payments to insurers if Democrats backed the border wall money.

“We’d offer them $1 of CSR payments for $1 of wall payments. Right now that’s the offer that we’ve given to our Democratic colleagues,” Mulvaney said during a Bloomberg Live interview, referring to the ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reduction (CSR).

In that same interview, Mulvaney added that “you cannot expect a president who just won [an] election to give up very easily on his highest priority.”

And I certainly agree with Mulvaney.  The border wall was the number one issue that Trump campaigned on, and if he unconditionally surrenders to the Democrats on this issue without much of a fight, it will essentially be the neutering of his entire presidency.

The Democrats seem to know what is at stake, and they are digging in for war.  At this point they are completely united in their stance that there will not be a single penny for a border wall.  The following comes from CNS News

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that President Trump should not expect Congress to give him any money to fund his “outlandish” border wall.

Trump has requested $1.4 billion to get the wall started in the current fiscal year, which runs through September, but Durbin on Sunday called it a political stunt and a poison pill:

“I hope the president will back off,” Durbin said.

So will either side back down by Friday?

I don’t think so, and that means that a government shutdown is coming.

Of course there is talk that Congress could pass a one week or two week extension to give negotiations more time, but that would just delay the inevitable.

And it isn’t just the border wall that is a sticking point.  Other issues such as funding for Planned Parenthood and increased spending for national defense could potentially derail any deal.  The following comes from Business Insider

Thomas Block, a Washington policy analyst at Fundstrat, described the problem in a note to clients on Monday:

“In the House, there is a group consisting of Tea Party and Freedom Caucus Republicans who believe that almost any spending bill is too large for them to support. Therefore, Speaker Ryan is likely going to need some Democratic support to get a bill passed. The problem is that no Democrats will support a bill that contains the president’s stated priorities.

“Furthermore, many Republicans want to use the spending bill to stop all funding for Planned Parenthood, a clear poison pill as far as most Democrats are concerned.”

In order for the public to have three days to examine any bill before a vote happens, a spending bill is going to have to be unveiled in the House by Wednesday at the latest in order to meet the deadline.

Is that going to happen?

I doubt it, but it is always possible.

But even if a bill gets through the House, that doesn’t mean that the Senate will be on board with it, and unless that bill contains funding for a border wall Trump may not sign it.

So what specifically would happen during a government shutdown?  The following is a good summary from Zero Hedge

  1. Details of which government functions stop are determined by the Office of Management and Budget.
  2. If it looks like a shutdown will occur, White House budget office works with federal agencies to determine which federal functions and employees are “essential” or “excepted.” The White House has latitude in how broadly it defines “excepted.”
  3. Agencies and services considered non-essential close. Federal workers will be furloughed without pay. The Federal Government employs over 4-million individuals, so this can be hundreds of thousands of workers affected. Congress may decide after the shutdown to pay them for the time off. Financial disruption is one concern.
  4. “Emergency personnel” continue to be employed, including the active duty military, federal law enforcement agents, doctors and nurses working in federal hospitals, and air traffic controllers. For the Department of Defense, at least half of the civilian workforce, and the full-time, dual-status military technicians in the US National Guard and traditional Guardsmen (those on Title 32 status) are furloughed without pay. Members of Congress continue to be paid, because their pay cannot be altered except by direct law.

Congress is only going to be back in session for two weeks before another extended 10 day vacation begins on May 5th.

That means that the clock is ticking, and at this point a deal does not seem close.

Personally, I am fully convinced that the Democrats are more than willing to allow a government shutdown to happen, because they believe that it will damage the Republicans far more than it will damage them.

So they are not going to move from their demands, and that means that either Trump is going to have to give up his dream of a border wall or there will be a government shutdown on his 100th day in office.

The U.S. Entered World War I On April 6, 1917 – Did Trump Just Start World War III On April 6, 2017?

Did World War III begin on April 6th, 2017?  After Donald Trump fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria on Thursday night, millions of Americans were cheering, but the cheering isn’t going to last for long if a new world war erupts.  What is amazing to me is that this happened on the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I.  The U.S. officially entered that war on April 6th, 1917, and now 100 years later to the day Donald Trump has essentially declared war on Syria.

If you think using the term “World War III” is alarmist, you might want to tell that to the vast numbers of people that are buzzing about a new world war all over social media.  If you don’t yet understand why a strike on Syria could be so dangerous, go back and read my article from yesterday.  If we continue striking Syria, we could very easily find ourselves in a direct military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Hopefully last night will be the full extent of U.S. military action.  If Donald Trump and his national security advisers pat themselves on the back for “looking tough” and decide that was enough, we probably won’t see a major regional war break out.

But if the U.S. decides that regime change is necessary and continues to conduct more strikes, we will have war.  And unfortunately, there are already signs that this may happen.  On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that the Trump administration “is prepared to do more”

“The United States took a very measured step last night,” Haley said. “We are prepared to do more. But we hope that will not be necessary. It is time for all civilized nations to stop the horrors that are taking place in Syria and demand a political solution.”

I don’t understand why so many Americans seem to have a thirst for war.

I have been studying war virtually all my life.  When I was just a small boy, I would check huge volumes on World War I, World War II and the Korean War out of the library and read them cover to cover.  And let me tell you, war is hell.  Nobody should actually want to see war, and now we are closer to the next world war than we have been in decades.

Needless to say, the Russians are extremely angry about what Trump has done.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced it as an “illegal act of aggression”,  and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that the U.S. came “within an inch” of a direct conflict with Russian forces…

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said the US air strike on a Syrian air base came “within an inch” of militarily clashing with their forces.

He said the action taken by the Americans was in breach of international law and their own internal procedures, and accused Washington of “barely avoiding combat clashes with Russia”.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Medvedev said the air strike had “completely ruined relations” between the two superpowers.

What in the world is Trump thinking?

The Russians very much wanted Trump to win the election because they felt that there was a very high probability of war between our two nations if Hillary Clinton would have won.

And the Russians were quite right to think that.

So the Russian people rejoiced greatly when Trump won, because they thought that it would be a new day for relations between our two great countries.

But after last night that hope is dead.

In fact, historians will probably mark April 6, 2017 as the day when the relationship between the United States and Russia officially died.

And it didn’t take long for the Russians to start to respond.  The following comes from Business Insider

The Russia Foreign Ministry announced that it suspended an agreement to avoid clashes between Russian and US-led coalition jets over Syrian airspace, while Reuters reporter Idrees Ali reports that Russia withdrew from a deconfliction channel, which the US used Thursday night to warn Russian forces of the incoming cruise-missile strikes (which took place Friday morning local time).

In addition, it has been announced that Russia will be significantly bolstering air defenses in Syria, and according to Fox News a Russian warship has been dispatched to confront the two U.S. naval vessels that fired the cruise missiles at Syria…

A Russian warship entered the eastern Mediterranean Friday and was heading toward the area where two U.S. Navy destroyers launched missile strikes into Syria, Fox News has learned.

The Russian frigate, Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, crossed through the Bosphorus Strait “a few hours ago” from the Black Sea, according to a U.S. defense official.

Here in the United States, we need to start making our voices heard very loudly so that President Trump will understand that most Americans do not want to go to war in Syria.

And of course the same thing can be said about a potential war with North Korea.  After last night’s cruise missile display, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is warning that his nation is on the “brink of war” with the United States.

One of the angles that is not getting a lot of discussion in the mainstream media is how the events of last night were viewed by the Chinese.

Donald Trump grew up in New York City at a time when the mafia still had a dominant presence, and to put a “hit” on another rival across town when you are sitting down for a meeting with a top boss from another family sends a very, very powerful message.

The fact that Trump ordered those 59 cruise missiles to rain down on Syria at the exact moment when he was having dinner with the president of China is going to be remembered by the Chinese for a very, very long time.  In Asian cultures respect is a very big thing, and the Chinese had to be deeply embarrassed by what just happened last night.

On top of everything else, the truth is that Donald Trump blatantly violated the U.S. Constitution by conducting a military strike against Syria without the approval of Congress.  This is something that U.S. Senator Rand Paul pointed out very clearly in an editorial that was released on Friday

The Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president. Even the War Powers Resolution, shoved forward by hawks as justification, clearly states criteria under which the president may act – a declaration of war, a specific statutory authorization, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States.

That’s it. Absent those criteria, the president has no authority to act without congressional authorization. Congress must stand up and assert its authority here and now.

Conservatives always protested whenever Barack Obama violated the U.S. Constitution in this manner, and so they should protest when Donald Trump acts in the same fashion.

A lot of people will read this article and they aren’t going to grasp the importance of what is going on because they do not understand where all of this is ultimately heading.

But there are some of you that have major alarm bells going off in your head because you have been listening to the warnings and you know what comes next.

We have entered a season of time that myself and other watchmen have been warning about for many years.  I just can’t believe that it is starting to happen so quickly.  Many had been hoping for a time of peace and prosperity during a time of “reprieve” under Donald Trump, but you can forget that now.

The events of April 6th, 2017 have changed everything, and most Americans are completely unprepared for what will soon follow.

Trump Prepares ‘Military Response’ For Syria As Tillerson Works To Form A ‘Coalition’ To Remove Assad From Power

It makes me physically ill when I think that the U.S. could be on the verge of starting a disastrous war in the Middle East that will not benefit us in any way, shape or form.  I can’t believe this is happening, and a lot of other people apparently can’t either.  In fact, there were some that heavily criticized me when I suggested that Donald Trump had just committed to taking military action in Syria in part 1 and part 2 of this series of articles.  But less than 24 hours later, the front page of USA Today was running this jarring headline: “Trump team developing military response in Syria”.  It is interesting to note that this came on the 77th day of Trump’s presidency, and on Thursday it was also revealed that the Trump administration is working to put together an international coalition to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.  The following comes from Fox News

America’s top diplomat addressed the Syria crisis a day after Trump declared in the Rose Garden that the chemical strike would not be tolerated. Tillerson pointedly said Russia should “consider carefully” its support for the Assad regime, while calling for an international effort to defeat ISIS in Syria, stabilize the country and ultimately work with partners through a political process that leads to Assad leaving power.

Asked if the U.S. would organize a coalition to remove Assad, Tillerson said: “Those steps are underway.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also told the press that Assad has “no role” in governing Syria in the future, and he pledged there there will be a “serious response” to the recent chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province.

Of course it is extremely doubtful that Assad had anything to do with that chemical attack, and I am going to share some more of that evidence with you in part 4 of this series.

In terms of what that “serious response” will look like, a lot will be determined over the next 48 hours as Trump consults with his top national security advisers

Defense Secretary James Mattis will brief President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on military options against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s regime later on Thursday in the wake of a deadly attack which activists said killed at least 100 people — including 25 children — and injured at least 400 others earlier this week.

The White House and Pentagon have had detailed back-and-forth conversations over the past two days over options including a National Security Council meeting Wednesday. Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have had repeated contact about the best way forward, a U.S. official told NBC News.

It is being reported that airstrikes and the use of cruise missiles against Syrian targets are among the initial options under consideration.

If Trump drops a few bombs or fires of a few cruise missiles that likely wouldn’t spark a broader conflict, but there is one option that is reportedly being considered that could bring us into direct military conflict with Russia.  According to The Intercept, the Trump team is actually considering a “saturation strike” which would result “in Russian military deaths”…

The proposed strike would involve launching Tomahawk cruise missiles to overwhelm Russian air defense systems used by the Syrian military. The Russian government currently helps maintain the air defense sites and advises the Syrian military.

According to both U.S. military officials, the current proposal would likely result in Russian military deaths and mark a drastic escalation of U.S. force in Syria.

One U.S. military official said the decision to allow the strikes, which would kill Russians, signals a significant change in policy by the Trump administration. A decision by Trump to go forward with the plan would be a reversal from the Obama administration, which denied multiple air strike proposals that would likely cause Russian personnel casualties in Syria.

If that happens, any hope for improved relations with Russia will be permanently extinguished and it could easily result in the Russians shooting back at us.

The Russians have S-300 and S-400 air defense systems already in place in Syria.  Both of those systems are some of the most advanced in the world and are a significant threat to U.S. warplanes.

As I discussed yesterday, it is not difficult to imagine what would happen if footage of U.S. aircraft being blown out of the sky by Russian missiles started rolling on our cable news channels 24 hours a day.

Even now, U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are urging President Trump to consider “the grounding of Assad’s air force”

“In addition to other measures, the United States should lead an international coalition to ground Assad’s air force. This capability provides Assad a strategic advantage in his brutal slaughter of innocent civilians, both through the use of chemical weapons as well as barrel bombs, which kill far more men, women and children on a daily basis … Ultimately, the grounding of Assad’s air force can and should be part of a new comprehensive strategy to end the conflict in Syria.”

Of course if Trump goes to war with another sovereign nation without the approval of Congress that would be a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution, and that is something else that I would be talking about in part 4 of this series.

Even though I am writing about all of this, I still have a hard time believing that this is all happening less than three months into Trump’s presidency.  The stage is being set for the kind of scenario that I outlined in The Beginning Of The End, and right now I am far more alarmed by the state of world events than I was at any point in 2016.

I am particularly disturbed by all of this talk about removing Assad.

How in the world does the Trump administration plan to do that?

Even if they conduct a massive bombing campaign that would turn Damascus into a “ruinous heap”, that would still not guarantee regime change.

The only thing that would guarantee regime change is a full-scale ground invasion and the conquest of the entire city of Damascus.

Of course the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah would not willingly step aside and let “coalition forces” march to Damascus, and so such a move could very easily spark World War 3 in the Middle East.

I can’t believe that Trump is actually thinking of going to war with Syria.  There is nothing to be gained and so much that could be lost.  Let us hope that someone can talk some sense to him while there is still time to do so.

Donald Trump Has Just Committed The United States To A Disastrous War In Syria

Rumors of war are percolating in Washington D.C., and if the Trump administration is not extremely careful it may find itself fighting several disastrous wars simultaneously.  Just one day after threatening North Korea with war, Donald Trump has committed to taking military action against the Assad regime in Syria.  Trump is blaming the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province on Tuesday on the Syrian government, and he is pledging that the United States will not just sit by and do nothing in response.  Unfortunately for all of us, military contingents from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are mixed in among the Syrian forces, and so any strike on the Syrian military could potentially spark World War 3.

In this article, I am going to share with you several quotes from President Trump and members of his team over the past couple of days, and if you read them carefully you will see that Trump has clearly painted himself into a corner.

This first quote comes from CNN, and it is a portion of Trump’s response when he was asked about the chemical attack in Syria by a reporter…

It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies … with a chemical gas that is so lethal that people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines — beyond a red line.

Trump has very harshly criticized Barack Obama in the past for doing nothing in Syria once Obama’s “red line” was crossed, and so for Trump to use the exact same phrase is very meaningful.  And in his remarks about this new chemical attack, Trump once again pointed the finger at Obama for making “a blank threat”

“I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand,” Trump said. “And when he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat.”

But now that Trump has also accused Syria of crossing “a red line”, the only way that Trump can avoid the same kind of criticism that he was casting at Obama is to take military action.

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer underlined this point when he read a prepared statement to reporters during “an off-camera White House briefing”

Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world. These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act.

And UN Ambassador Nikki Haley made it crystal clear that the Trump administration was quite prepared to “take our own action” if the UN Security Council failed to address the chemical attack in Syria…

“When the UN consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,” she said.

Of course the UN Security Council is not going to condemn Syria, because Russia would veto any such resolution.

So the Trump administration is going to be faced with a choice.

Either they will back up their words and take military action in Syria (which would be totally disastrous), or they will be accused of making threats that turned out to be completely empty just like Obama did.

A much wiser approach would have been for the Trump administration to say that they were going to study this attack to determine who was behind it before pledging to take any action.  Because the truth is that previous “chemical attacks” that were blamed on the Assad regime have turned out to be false flags that were designed to draw the western powers into the war…

The U.N. thoroughly investigated the first 2013 attack. The U.N Commission of Inquiry’s Carla Del Ponte ultimately said the evidence indicated the attack was carried out by the Syrian rebels — not the Syrian government. Despite this, support for the Syrian rebels from the U.S. and its allies only increased, raising serious questions about Obama’s sincerity when condemning chemical attacks.

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh found the second major attack was committed in a similar manner. Hersh found that the U.S. quite deliberately attempted to frame the evidence to justify a strike on Assad without even considering al-Nusra, a terror group with access to nerve agents that should have been a prime suspect.

And I have a feeling that this new attack is another false flag, because it wouldn’t make any sense for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons at this point.  Thanks to the assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the Assad regime is winning the civil war, and the only thing that could possibly turn the tide now would be military intervention by the United States.

So if Assad did actually use chemical weapons against a bunch of defenseless citizens on Tuesday, it would have been the stupidest strategic move that he possibly could have made.

In any controversy such as this, you always want to ask one key question: Who benefits?

Of course the answer to that question in this case is exceedingly clear.  The radical Islamic rebels that are being backed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey will greatly benefit if they are able to draw the western powers into the war on their side.

But what would the U.S. have to gain by getting involved in such a war?

ISIS is almost totally defeated in Syria thanks to Russia, and most of the country has already been reduced to rubble at this point.  But if we did get involved a lot of Americans could end up dead, and as I will discuss in Part II of this series, there is a very real possibility that we could end up in a military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Back in 2013, a much wiser Donald Trump tweeted the following

AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!

I could not have summed it up better myself.

Hopefully Donald Trump will take his own advice and will keep us out of a war that would be absolutely disastrous for our nation.

Is The United States About To Bomb North Korea? The White House Says ‘The Clock Has Now Run Out’

I got chills when I saw a CNN report that said that a White House official has just warned that “the clock has now run out” on North Korea’s nuclear program and that “all options are on the table”.  That second phrase has been repeatedly used by members of the Trump administration in recent days, and everyone knows what it means.  When I wrote that a conflict with North Korea could be “Trump’s first war” last month, I was still hoping that cooler heads would prevail and that a military conflict could be avoided.  Unfortunately, it appears that a peaceful solution is not in the cards, and that means that the United States may soon start bombing North Korea.  And of course if that happens the North Koreans will strike back with whatever they can, and that includes nuclear weapons.

I don’t know if I have the words to effectively communicate how serious this situation could become.  We have gotten to the point where the White House is openly talking of going to war with a nuclear power

A senior White House official issued a dire warning to reporters Tuesday on the state of North Korea’s nuclear program, declaring “the clock has now run out and all options are on the table.”

“The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table,” the official said, pointing to the failure of successive administration’s efforts to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear program.

Later this week, President Trump is going to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.  The eyes of the entire world will be on this summit, because everyone knows that Trump is going to press the Chinese leader for help on resolving the crisis with North Korea.

But what can China actually do?

The Chinese could cut off trade with North Korea, and that would definitely hurt, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to have become convinced that long range nuclear missiles are the key to the survival of his regime, and so he will never give up his nuclear program.

And the Chinese will certainly not strike North Korea militarily, and so ultimately if something is going to be done to stop North Korea from getting long range nuclear missiles it will be up to the United States.

On Tuesday morning, North Korea once again showed their defiance by firing yet another test missile into the Sea of Japan

The missile was fired from the Sinpo region at 10.40pm GMT (6.10am local time) on the communist nation’s east coast and landed into the sea off the Korean peninsula, South Korean military officials confirmed.

The rocket is believed to have flown around 37 miles before crashing into the sea. Specific details about the type of projectile were not immediately available.

Kim Jong Un conducted more missile tests in 2016 than his father did in nearly two decades.

It has become crystal clear that North Korea is not going to back down.

President Trump is still hoping that China will step up to the plate, but if the Chinese don’t he has already stated that the United States is fully prepared to “act alone”.  In fact, he made headlines all over the planet when he told the Financial Times the following: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what Trump is saying there.

Previous administrations have tried sanctions and negotiations for decades, and they all failed.

In the end, Trump is going to be faced with a choice whether to bomb North Korea or not, and four-star general Jack Keane says that bombing North Korea “may be the only option left”

A four-star general with close ties to Donald Trump has warned that military strikes are ‘rapidly’ becoming the only solution to North Korea’s nuclear program.

Jack Keane, who declined the President’s offer to become Defense Secretary last year, said bombing Kim Jong-un’s nuclear facilities ‘may be the only option left.’

But bombing North Korea is not like bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria.

The North Koreans already have nuclear weapons, and the U.S. better destroy them all in an overwhelming initial assault, because Kim Jong Un will use any that survive to strike back.

If you doubt this, just consider what a very high level North Korean defector just told Lester Holt of NBC News

A senior North Korean defector has told NBC News that the country’s “desperate” dictator is prepared to use nuclear weapons to strike the United States and its allies.

Thae Yong Ho is the most high profile North Korean defector in two decades, meaning he is able to give a rare insight into the secretive, authoritarian regime.

According to Thae, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is “desperate in maintaining his rule by relying on his [development of] nuclear weapons and ICBM.” He was using an acronym for intercontinental ballistic missiles — a long range rocket that in theory would be capable of hitting the U.S.

North Korea is currently developing an intercontinental ballistic missile known as the “Taepodong 2” that will have a range of approximately 8000 kilometers.

In other words, it would be capable of striking cities in the western portion of the United States.

It is unthinkable that we would allow a tyrannical leader that is literally insane and that is obsessed with destroying the United States to have such a weapon.

But the moment that we start dropping bombs on North Korea we will start a war in which millions could die.  Whatever nuclear weapons are missed in the first assault will likely be fired at U.S. military bases in Japan or at South Korea’s capital city of Seoul.  Approximately 10 million people live in Seoul, so the death toll would be absolutely enormous.  And even if all North Korean nuclear devices are destroyed by the first attack, the North Koreans still have thousands of artillery guns and rocket launchers trained on Seoul, and they would not hesitate to use their vast stockpile of chemical warheads.

After the initial North Korean barrage, the fourth largest military on the entire planet would start pouring across the border in a massive invasion of South Korea.  The U.S. military would be forced to respond with large scale ground forces if South Korea would have any chance of surviving, and just like in the first Korean War the Chinese may decide to respond to that move by committing their own troops to the war on the side of North Korea.

This is a season of “wars and rumors of wars”, and most Americans have no idea how dangerously close we are to the beginning of World War III.  My hope is that a peaceful way out of this crisis can still be found, but at this point that is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine.

If Donald Trump decides to go to war with North Korea, he needs to hit them with an absolutely overwhelming first strike that takes out every single North Korean nuke, the bulk of North Korea’s artillery and rockets, and the entire North Korean leadership team within the first few minutes of the attack.

It is hard to imagine a scenario that does not involve nukes that would accomplish that.

And Donald Trump better get the public approval of South Korean and Japanese leadership before ever attempting such an attack, because they will likely pay the highest price if North Korea is able to strike back.

If South Korea or Japan balk at backing such an operation and then they get hit by North Korean nukes, the United States could lose them as friends and allies forever.

The stakes are incredibly high, and there are so many things that could go wrong.

So let us pray for peace, because the alternative is almost too horrible to imagine.

After Dramatic Obamacare Failure, Trump Now Faces A Looming Government Shutdown He May Not Be Able To Prevent

If you thought that the Obamacare debacle was bad, just wait until you see what happens next.  The continuing resolution that is currently funding the government expires on April 28th, and if a new funding agreement is not reached prior to that time, there will be a government shutdown like we witnessed in 2013 starting on April 29th.  Unfortunately, as I will explain below, if a government shutdown happens it may go for a lot longer than just a couple of weeks this time around.

April 28th may sound like it is quite some time away, but because the congressional calendar has so many “holes” in it, there is actually not very much time for Congress to act.

If you can believe it, there are only 12 “legislative days” between now and April 28th, and if something is not done on one of those 12 days the government will shut down on April 29th.

Needless to say, a government shutdown would greatly rattle the financial markets.  Thanks to the Obamacare disaster, the Dow has now experienced its longest losing streak in six years, and another down day for the Dow on Tuesday would make it the longest losing streak since 1978.

With the Republicans in control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, you would think that a government shutdown would be unlikely.

Sadly, that is not the case.  In fact, political reporter Mike Allen says that a “top Republican” told him that a government shutdown on April 29th is “more likely than not”…

A top Republican with close ties to the White House tells me that after the GOP failure on healthcare, a government shutdown — looming when a continuing resolution runs out April 28 — is “more likely than not… Wall Street is not expecting a shutdown and the markets are unprepared.”

And Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group today will warn financial clients: “Hello April 29 government shutdown.”

That’s Day 100 of the Trump presidency, by the way.

During a government shutdown, essential government services continue to operate, but everything else ceases.  Huge numbers of government employees are temporarily furloughed, government parks are closed, and some government agencies pretty much quit functioning at all.  The last time this actually happened was in 2013

The issue confronting Trump is similar to the one that President Obama and then-House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio faced in 2013: a block of conservative Republicans who are willing to vote ‘No’ instead of bowing to pressure from the White House, Wall Street, and even powerful establishment interest groups.

But unlike then, a single party holds all three major levers of power in government.

The government shut down for more than two weeks in 2013 after Tea Party members refused to backdown and tried to use the leverage of a shutdown to defund Obamcare.

So why would conservative members of Congress want to force a government shutdown in 2017?

Well, for one thing we continue to add more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt.  During the Obama era, the U.S. national debt rose from 10.6 trillion dollars to just under 20 trillion dollars.

In a just society, the politicians that have been stealing trillions of dollars from future generations of Americans would be put in prison, but instead we have just come to accept that selling our children and our grandchildren into debt slavery is normal.

We have got to quit going into so much debt, and so someone needs to take a stand, and it is becoming clear that it won’t be President Trump.

Just a few weeks ago, Trump made his intentions crystal clear during a conversation with New York Times Magazine contributor Robert Draper

When I spoke with Trump, I ventured that, based on available evidence, it seemed as though conservatives probably shouldn’t hold their breath for the next four years expecting entitlement reform. Trump’s reply was immediate. “I think you’re right,” he said. In fact, Trump seemed much less animated by the subject of budget cuts than the subject of spending increases. “We’re also going to prime the pump,” he said. “You know what I mean by ‘prime the pump’? In order to get this” — the economy — “going, and going big league, and having the jobs coming in and the taxes that will be cut very substantially and the regulations that’ll be going, we’re going to have to prime the pump to some extent. In other words: Spend money to make a lot more money in the future. And that’ll happen.” A clearer elucidation of Keynesian liberalism could not have been delivered by Obama.

In other words, Trump wants to take government spending to an even higher level than Obama did.

And Trump is certainly correct that this would help the economy in the short-term, but it would also be extremely destructive to the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

In addition to addressing our exploding national debt, conservatives in Congress are going to want to tie defunding Planned Parenthood to any agree to continue funding the government…

  • The current continuing resolution to fund the government expires on April 28.
  • The conservative House Freedom Caucus — the group Trump blamed on Twitter this morning for killing his Obamacare replacement bill — will almost certainly make defunding the women’s health group and country’s biggest abortion provider a non-negotiable condition for it to support the government funding bill.
  • That’s a big problem. There’s no way a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood gets 60 votes in the Senate.

This is the issue that could force a government shutdown to last for an extended period of time.

Today the Republicans control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  If Planned Parenthood is not going to be defunded now, it never will be.

If I was a member of the Freedom Caucus, I would make defunding Planned Parenthood my line in the sand.  These butchers systematically kill millions of American babies, they auction off the body parts to the highest bidders, and the federal government gives them approximately 500 million dollars a year to keep operating.

If President Trump and Paul Ryan choose to fight the Freedom Caucus over defunding Planned Parenthood, any agreement to fund the government will not have enough Republican votes in the House.  But any bill which defunds Planned Parenthood will get filibustered by Democrats in the Senate.

There is always the possibility that President Trump could turn his back on the conservatives in Congress and try to make a deal with the Democrats, but then he would have to get that deal passed by a Republican-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate.

To me, it is worth forcing a government shutdown in order to defund Planned Parenthood.

If Donald Trump decides that he wants to do a deal that includes continued funding for Planned Parenthood that is not okay.

Let me repeat – that is not okay.

If Donald Trump or any other Republican member of Congress agrees to a deal that includes continued funding for Planned Parenthood, that will mean that the blood of all the children that are murdered by Planned Parenthood from that day forward will be on their hands too.

Most people don’t realize this, but this is actually one of the most critical moments in American history.

If President Trump and the Republicans defund Planned Parenthood, that will be an exceptionally good thing for our country.

But if President Trump and the Republicans choose not to do this, there will be no more excuses left to offer, and I believe that the consequences for our nation will be far more severe than most people would dare to imagine.

The Upcoming Trade War Between The U.S. And China Will Be The Biggest In The History Of The Planet

Globe At Night - Public DomainThe United States and China are the two largest economies in the world by far, and the upcoming trade war that is about to erupt will be cataclysmic for both sides.  The Trump administration and the Chinese government are both gearing up for a prolonged trade war, and this is going to have very severe implications for the entire global economy.  During the campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly stated that we “can’t continue to allow China to rape our country”, and he was quite correct about that.  Over the past ten years, the U.S. has run a trade deficit of over $2 trillion with China, and as a result of imbalanced trade we have lost tens of thousands of manufacturing businesses, millions of good paying jobs, and hundreds of billions of dollars of tax revenue.

So clearly something needs to be done to balance our trade with China and other countries.  But the situation must also be handled delicately, because trade disruptions could bring substantial short-term economic pain.

Prior to winning the election, Trump threatened to unilaterally impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports.  Unfortunately, China is not just going to sit there and take whatever Trump throws at them.  Every single time the U.S. has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods in the past, China has responded by slapping tariffs on U.S. goods.

And this time around, the Chinese are already preparing a very harsh response even though Trump has not officially made his move yet…

The policy advisers believe the Trump administration is most likely to impose higher tariffs on targeted sectors where China has a big surplus with the United States, such as steel and furniture, or on state-owned firms.

China could respond with actions such as finding alternative suppliers of agriculture products or machinery and manufactured goods, while cutting its exports of consumer staples such as mobile phones or laptops, they said.

Other options include imposing tax or other restrictions on big U.S. firms operating in China, or limiting their access to China’s fast-growing services sector, they added.

When this coming trade war erupts, economic activity will be reduced significantly.  And considering the fact that U.S. economic growth is projected to be about one percent in the first quarter of 2017, that could be more than enough to push us into a deep recession.

Some of the biggest U.S. exports to China include airplanes, autos and agricultural products, and the Chinese are ready to attack on all of those fronts.  The following comes from CNN

Here’s what Global Times, a newspaper backed by the Communist Party, had to say about how Beijing would respond to tariffs of 45%:

“A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus,” the paper said Monday. “U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted.”

But once again, something must be done for the long-term good of our country.  We have been allowing the Chinese to flood our shores with super cheap goods, but meanwhile they have already been hitting our products with ridiculously high tariffs.  Here is just one example

U.S.-made cars exported to China face tariffs of at least 25 percent, including American-made Cadillacs. The American-made Jeep Grand Cherokee costs $27,490 at U.S. dealerships and cost at least $85,000 in China.

What we have with China today is very far from “free trade”, and if they want to trade with us they need to do so on a level playing field.

But China will never allow that to happen.  As Donald Trump has correctly stated, they have been “raping” us for years, and they are going to fight very hard to keep anything from upsetting the status quo.

Trump has got to do something for the long-term good of the U.S. economy, but he has also got to try to find a way to avoid a major trade war, because a major trade war would be exceedingly painful for both countries.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but more iPhones are actually sold in China than in the United States.  And it is being projected that Boeing will sell nearly 7,000 airplanes to China over the next decade…

By the end of 2015, Chinese consumers bought 131 million iPhones. The total sales to U.S. customers during the same period stood at only 110 million. And iPhones are only a small part of U.S. exports. Boeing, which employs 150,000 workers in the U.S., estimates that China will buy some 6,810 airplanes over the next 20 years, and that market alone will be worth more than $1 trillion.

So what happens if all or part of that economic activity goes away?

According to one study, in the short-term millions of U.S. jobs could potentially be at risk if a major trade war happens…

“Millions of American jobs that appear unconnected to international trade—disproportionately lower-skilled and lower-wage jobs—would be at risk,” according to the PIIE study.

And of course a major trade war would hit American consumers very hard as well.

Just think about it.  When you go into a Wal-Mart or a dollar store, are more of the products made in the United States or in China?

A trade war would hit all of us in the wallet as the cost of living goes up.  And considering the fact that about two-thirds of the country is essentially living paycheck to paycheck, that would not be a good thing.

So yes, our trading relationship with China definitely needs to be rebalanced, but Trump needs to find a way to make this transition as minimally disruptive as possible.

A major trade war is just one of the “black swans” that could push us into the kind of economic nightmare scenario that I have been warning about for a very long time.  And sometimes a trade war can serve as a prelude to a real war.  The South China Sea has become a major sticking point between the U.S. and China, and the Chinese are getting ready to cross one of the “red lines” that Barack Obama established while he was still in office…

Beijing has plans to start construction on the disputed Scarborough Shoal this year.

China has reclaimed land in both the Spratly and Paracel Islands and constructed military outposts, but it has been hesitant to start construction on the Scarborough Shoal. Xiao Jie, the mayor of Sansha — an administrative base for China’s South China Sea activities masquerading as a city — said this week that China intends to construct environmental monitoring stations on a number of territories in the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal.

So how will Trump respond when construction on Scarborough Shoal actually begins?

It will be very interesting to watch how that plays out.

The relationship between the United States and China was starting to deteriorate badly even before Donald Trump was elected, and it is very easy to see how it could totally break down in the months ahead.

And considering how interconnected the global economy is today, the United States and China could easily end up dragging down everyone else along with them.

Government Spooks Can Use The Mic And Camera On Trump’s Phone Even When He Thinks It Is Turned Off

Trump Speaking With Putin In The Oval Office - Public DomainAfter reading this article you might not ever view your electronic devices the same way again.  Last year, Hollywood released a biographical political thriller based on the life of Edward Snowden that had one particularly creepy scene.  In that scene, a government spook used a program to remotely activate the microphone and camera on a laptop, and by doing so he was able to watch a woman as she got undressed.  Sadly, as you will see below, this kind of thing is happening constantly.  Any digital device can potentially be accessed and used to spy on you even if it appears to be turned off.  And this is why Donald Trump needs to be so careful right now, because the intelligence community wants to take him down and they can literally use any digital device in his possession to try to gather dirt on him.  We have a “deep state” that is absolutely obsessed with watching, tracking and monitoring the American people, and something desperately needs to be done about this unconstitutional surveillance.  Now that Trump has become greatly upset about how the government was tapping into his phone calls, maybe something will finally get accomplished.

In an article that I just published on The Most Important News, I talked about the NSA’s brand new two billion dollar data storage facility in Utah that can store up to five zettabytes of data.  Secret “electronic monitoring rooms” embedded within the facilities of major communications companies across the United States send an endless flow of digital information to this facility, and most Americans have no idea that this is even happening.  The following comes from Wired

Before yottabytes of data from the deep web and elsewhere can begin piling up inside the servers of the NSA’s new center, they must be collected. To better accomplish that, the agency has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks, a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed—how the NSA secretly and illegally bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was supposed to oversee and authorize highly targeted domestic eavesdropping; how the program allowed wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and email. In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits.

Whistleblowers have come forward again and again to warn us about what was happening, but they have largely been ignored.  One of the most prominent whistleblowers was former NSA employee William Binney

Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there.

Can you imagine recording 320 million phone calls a day?

And that was at the beginning of the program – I can’t even imagine what the number must be these days.

But even if you aren’t using your phone government spooks can still potentially be listening to you.  The following comes from a CNN article entitled “How the NSA can ‘turn on’ your phone remotely“…

Government spies can set up their own miniature cell network tower. Your phone automatically connects to it. Now, that tower’s radio waves send a command to your phone’s antennae: the baseband chip. That tells your phone to fake any shutdown and stay on.

A smart hack won’t keep your phone running at 100%, though. Spies could keep your phone on standby and just use the microphone — or send pings announcing your location.

John Pirc, who did cybersecurity research at the CIA, said these methods — and others, like physically bugging devices — let the U.S. hijack and reawaken terrorists’ phones.

Unfortunately, these tactics are not just used against “terrorists”.

The truth is that these tactics are employed against anyone that the NSA is interested in, and in fact they could be listening to you right now.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we have learned quite a bit about how the NSA takes over digital devices…

The latest story from the Edward Snowden leaks yesterday drives home that the NSA and its spy partners possess specialized tools for doing exactly that. According to The Intercept, the NSA uses a plug-in called GUMFISH to take over cameras on infected machines and snap photos.

Another NSA plug-in called CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE hijacks the microphone on targeted computers to record conversations.

Intelligence agencies have been turning computers into listening devices for at least a decade, as evidenced by the Flame spy tool uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2012, which had the ability to surreptitiously turn on webcams and microphones and perform a host of other espionage operations.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening?

If you have external webcams and microphones, you can unplug them when they are not in use.

If you have a built-in camera, some have suggested covering the camera with a sticker.

And of course pulling out the battery entirely will prevent someone from taking over your phone when you are not using it.

But at the end of the day, it is going to be really hard to keep government spooks out of your electronic devices completely.  They have become extremely sophisticated at using these devices to get what they want, and they will literally go after just about anyone.

For example, just consider what they did to former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson.  In her recent book, she details a campaign of digital harassment that sounds like something out of a spy novel.  The following comes from the Washington Post

The breaches on Attkisson’s computer, says this source, are coming from a “sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency (NSA).” Attkisson learns from “Number One” that one intrusion was launched from the WiFi at a Ritz Carlton Hotel and the “intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool.”

To round out the revelations of “Number One,” he informs Attkisson that he’d found three classified documents deep inside her operating system, such that she’d never know they were even there. “Why? To frame me?” Attkisson asks in the book.

If they can do all of that to Sharyl Attkisson, they can do it to Donald Trump too.

Trump needs to understand that the deep state is trying to destroy him, and that everything that he says and does is being monitored.

So until Trump can completely clean house at all of our intelligence agencies, he is going to have to be extremely careful 24 hours a day.

And let us hope that Trump is ultimately victorious in his struggle against the deep state, because the future of this nation is literally hanging in the balance.

President Oprah? Speculation Rises That The 2020 Election Will Feature An Epic Battle Between Donald Trump And Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey_receives_2013_Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom - Public DomainWhen Donald Trump originally announced that he was going to run for president, he said that his ideal choice for a running mate was Oprah Winfrey, but now he may be actually running against her in the 2020 election.  A recent episode of The David Rubenstein Show that featured an interview with Oprah Winfrey is creating a tremendous amount of buzz that Oprah Winfrey may throw her hat into the ring during the next election cycle.  This particular episode was taped back on December 12th, but it didn’t actually get aired on Bloomberg TV until last Tuesday.  You can see the portion of the interview in which Oprah is asked about her presidential aspirations on YouTube right here, and as you can see, she definitely sounds like someone that is very seriously thinking about running…

Prior to this last election, Oprah says that she never even considered the possibility of running, but Donald Trump’s victory in November made her realize that maybe she could do it too.  The following summary of the most important moments from the interview comes from Charisma News

“I actually never thought—never considered the question, even the possibility,” she said while smiling coyly. “I just thought, ‘Oh. Oh.'”

“Because it’s clear you don’t need government experience to be elected president of the United States,” Rubenstein interjected.

“That’s what I thought,” she replied. “I thought, Oh gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough. Now I’m thinking, Oh. Oh.”

When Oprah made these statements, she had to know that they would create a firestorm.

And that is definitely what is happening.  People are going absolutely crazy on Twitter at the thought that we could have “President Oprah” in 2020, and Matt Drudge is extremely enthusiastic about a Trump vs. Oprah race

In a tweet sent Wednesday morning, the reclusive journalist who broke the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal said such a race would be one for the ages.

“Trump vs Oprah would be the most epic race in American history. MAKE THIS HAPPEN…” Drudge tweeted to his nearly half a million followers.

And this is certainly not the first time that it has been suggested that Oprah should run for president.  Just one week after the election, political activist Michael Moore mentioned her as a potential candidate

Democrats would be better off if they ran Oprah or Tom Hanks … why don’t we run beloved people?” Moore told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“We have so many of them,” he said. “The Republicans do this — they run Reagan and the Terminator and other people.” It was a reference to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as former President Ronald Reagan.

“Why don’t we run somebody that the American people love and are really drawn to, and that are smart and have good politics and all that?” Moore said.

Needless to say, Oprah would make a horrible president.  Her political views are ultra-liberal, and she has no practical political experience whatsoever.

However, if she did run she would definitely be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  At the moment, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are considered to be the most likely opponents for Trump, and Oprah would almost certainly trounce either of them.

But will she actually do it?  Oprah’s friend Gayle King is saying that it is not going to happen

“I was in the audience that day and it was clearly a joke when she was playing with David because they have such a great rapport,” said Winfrey’s close pal and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King early Thursday of a recent interview Oprah gave suggesting she was finally thinking of running for President. “But I also heard on the Oprah Winfrey show over the years you always have the right to change your mind but I would bet my first, second born and any unborn children to come, that ain’t never happening,” King emphatically added.

And hopefully it will not happen.

But the ironic thing is that the very first person that Donald Trump suggested as a potential running mate when he announced his candidacy in 2015 was Oprah Winfrey.  The following comes from the New York Post

Real estate mogul-turned-celebrity TV star Donald Trump already had an “Aha!” moment about his 2016 running mate.

After declaring his run for the White House Tuesday, Trump appeared on ABC and said Oprah Winfrey would complete his presidential dream ticket.

“I think Oprah would be great. I’d love to have Oprah,” Trump said. “I think we’d win easily, actually.”

I’ll bet you don’t remember that, do you?

And in his new book entitled “The Making of the President 2016“, Roger Stone reminds everyone that Trump actually floated the idea of Oprah as his running mate all the way back in 1999 during an interview with Larry King.  The following is an excerpt from Roger Stone’s new book that was posted on Infowars

Early in the interview, Trump dropped Bombshell Number One: “So I am going to form a presidential exploratory committee, I might as well announce that on your show, everyone else does, but I’ll be forming that and effective, I believe, tomorrow,” Trump told the crusty interviewer. “And we’ll see. I mean, we’re going to take a very good, strong look at it.”

And just minutes later, Larry went for it and asked him if he had a vice presidential candidate in mind. Trump hesitated briefly as if to ponder his answer and then stunned everyone including King – and no doubt Oprah herself. “Oprah. I love Oprah,” Trump said. “Oprah would always be my first choice. She’s a terrific woman. She is somebody that is very special. If she’d do it, she’d be fantastic. I mean, she’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman.” The following day the newspapers and TV news were filled with talk of Trump and Oprah.

I honestly don’t know what Trump was thinking, because Oprah Winfrey definitely does not belong in politics.

Even if Oprah does not run for president, Trump’s victory has a lot of other celebrities thinking that they could do the same thing that he did.  Other big names that have been floated as potential candidates in 2020 include Mark Zuckerberg, Kanye West, Mark Cuban and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

As you can see, we have entered a strange new era in American politics, and there is no telling what craziness we may see during the next election cycle.

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