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The General 'Murican Politics Thread

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1 hour ago, Gregg (Ogilvie) said:

The real scary thing about the nuclear option and the last two years: it's being normalized to oppose an opposition President's appointments. If we end up in another situation where the President and Senate are controlled by different parties, we could end up with thousands of vacancies in federal offices. Historically, most Presidential nominees received very broad support due to the respect and decorum of the chamber. That is rapidly deteriorating between Obama and Trump's terms.

Just think about it. Say a court position opens up in 2020 and Democrats have the Senate. Democrats will very likely say the next President gets to appoint a replacement as revenge for Garland. And why stop there? You'll notice the vast majority of Obama's Cabinet appointments were made before the GOP took the Senate in late 2014; what appointments were made after that date were slim majorities. A few reasonable Republican voices prevailed then, but that could very well go away with the Democrats' current obstruction.

And the worst part is, each Party's base is screaming for cramdowns and obstruction if they are in the majority or minority, respectively. We are becoming the Divided States of America, whether we like it or not. Understandably so, because any Democrats willing to compromise have a huge issue: if they do play nice with Trump and the GOP, who is to say that the GOP won't just obstruct again under the next Democrat? There's a serious perverse incentive to throw centuries of tradition out the window because to adhere to tradition leaves one at a disadvantage.

I don't think we need to fear the filibuster going away for regular legislation. For starters, neither Party really has an interest in that. For two, legislation is a very broad category, as opposed to a simple appointment, and you have dozens of state interests going into it. Reinforcing that is the fact the House has to also pass legislation, and this means creating a bill with a broad base of support is even more important (especially if the President or House are controlled by different Parties).

Unfortunately, I don't think the legislative filibuster is safe either. And we can thank one man for this:

Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America - Washington Post

Quote

By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.

[...]

Back in 1994, McConnell lamented to the conservative Heritage Foundation that Republicans hadn’t used the filibuster enough: “I am a proud guardian of gridlock. I think gridlock is making a big comeback in the country.”

For the next quarter-century, he made sure of it. Back then he was fighting all attempts at campaign-finance reform and spending limits, championing disclosure of contributions as the antidote. But when the Supreme Court allowed unlimited “dark money” in campaigns without disclosure, McConnell reversed course and has fought all attempts to enact disclosure.

McConnell famously declared in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis, author of a McConnell biography, “The Cynic,” reports former Republican senator Robert Bennett’s account of what McConnell told fellow Republicans after Obama’s election: “Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that.’ ”

And that’s what he did. By 2013, for example, 79 of Obama’s nominees had been blocked by filibusters, compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic.

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed last year, it took McConnell less than an hour to say that the vacancy should be filled by the next president. He called keeping Obama’s nominee off the court “one of my proudest moments.”

[...]

Now comes the filibuster’s demise. In the current cycle of partisan escalation, it’s only a matter of time before the filibuster is abolished for all legislation, killing the tradition of unlimited debate in the Senate dating back to 1789. The Founders did this so minority rights would be respected and consensus could be formed — and McConnell is undoing it.

Two years ago, when a Democrat was in the White House, McConnell said he would only abolish filibusters of Supreme Court justices if there were 67 votes for such a change. This week, he employed a maneuver to do it with 51 votes. It suited his momentary needs, but the damage will remain long after McConnell’s tombstone is engraved.

People like McConnell operate on the belief that GOP rule in the US is the natural order of things, and any Democratic presence is meant to be opposed with fury. They're fine with throwing away centuries of government traditions, for they don't see any reason to share power with anyone else, nor can they imagine a situation where they would lose power again (and all the gerrymandering and voter suppression is meant to cement their dominance). McConnell launched unprecedented obstruction during Obama's presidency, and for that he was rewarded with GOP domination in all branches of the government. He has no reason to back down, and every reason to completely extricate the Democratic Party from every office in the country.

Karl Rove, at the turn of the millennium, loudly dreamed of a "permanent Republican majority". This will continue to be their singular obsession for as long as the GOP exists in its current unhinged form.

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Well, that was an overdose of demoralizing postage... It makes things seem totally hopeless.

What are the odds that Schumer might, if the Democrats can swing a 60+ vote Senate majority in 2018 and 2020, try to restore the filibuster at some point? Isn't that possible? I mean, it puts the Democrats at a disadvantage, but it also puts them on the moral high ground and lets them pour fire on the GOP for trying to turn the country into an actual one party state.

And what of gerrymandering? If the Democrats can win enough state-level races, could they conceivably gerrymander their way to an advantageous position? Would they benefit more from creating, protecting and empowering via legislation a non-partisan redistricting committee?

Essentially, what I'm asking is: Can permanent GOP domination realistically be stopped at this point?

And at the risk of being picked up and deported by partisan ICE agents in an hour, would the filibuster and the country benefit from Mitch McConnell... you know... dying? I mean, the man's 75 years old FFS, he's gotta have some intractable health problems somewhere. Dicky heart? Gimpy lungs? Diabetes? C'mon now, give me something to cling on to here, some kind of positive takeaway.

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2 hours ago, Volphied said:

Unfortunately, I don't think the legislative filibuster is safe either. And we can thank one man for this:

Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America - Washington Post

People like McConnell operate on the belief that GOP rule in the US is the natural order of things, and any Democratic presence is meant to be opposed with fury. They're fine with throwing away centuries of government traditions, for they don't see any reason to share power with anyone else, nor can they imagine a situation where they would lose power again (and all the gerrymandering and voter suppression is meant to cement their dominance). McConnell launched unprecedented obstruction during Obama's presidency, and for that he was rewarded with GOP domination in all branches of the government. He has no reason to back down, and every reason to completely extricate the Democratic Party from every office in the country.

Karl Rove, at the turn of the millennium, loudly dreamed of a "permanent Republican majority". This will continue to be their singular obsession for as long as the GOP exists in its current unhinged form.

It's a nice idea on his part, but it's frankly delusional. The GOP may be the strongest it's been since the Civil War, but it's also following up on unprecedented opposition to a two-term Democratic President, and the defeat of one of the most unpopular candidates in quite some time. They're going to run out of steam. We're already seeing what a joke they are at governing as opposed to being in the opposition.

Democrats probably thought they had a permanent majority after the New Deal, but it came crashing to a halt after several decades. Realignment is - to be frank - a bitch. The GOP's liable to undergo one of its own at some point in the next decade or two. Gerrymandering can only carry it so far.

Whatever McConnell's vision is, the bulk of the GOP are not interested in getting rid of the legislative filibuster. There's innately more compromise involved in legislation as opposed to federal positions. With federal appointments, it's entirely the President and the Senate confirming people with largely federal responsibilities. Legislation is the day to day business of the Senate, and compelling state interests are going to win out over Party (as already seen with several GOP Senators saying no to the AHCA). It's easy to be partisan with appointments, as that's entirely federal in nature (and the President can be coerced to direct them how Senators want through the budget process), but it's a different ball game with general legislation. Senators can control people like DeVos and Tillerson through Congressional powers, so it's not too important who holds those offices. On the other hand, "Senator voted for a bill that cuts funding to his state" doesn't bode well for election day.

Politicians sometimes go with Party, and sometimes with the state or locality, depending on what's at stake. It's why Democrats would in theory always support a direct popular vote, but plenty of Democrats will support the Electoral College if it helps their swing state.

This of course, doesn't touch the fact the Senate must create a bill that the House will accept (prior to McConnell's taking the Senate in 2014, he was relatively open to compromise with Obama, but the GOP House would always shoot it down), and that the Courts (which do have a fair degree of independence despite the anxiety over "liberal" and "conservative" judges) won't find unconstitutional.

It's a safe bet appointment gridlock will be normalized barring some radical change of circumstances. Legislative gridlock is not a guarantee. In absence of appointments, the government continues to function due to acting officers. In absence of legislation, it shuts down completely. While there have been government shutdowns, they are brief and are publicity stunts. Too many Americans receive government aid for them to last long.

1 hour ago, Patticus said:

What are the odds that Schumer might, if the Democrats can swing a 60+ vote Senate majority in 2018 and 2020, try to restore the filibuster at some point? Isn't that possible? I mean, it puts the Democrats at a disadvantage, but it also puts them on the moral high ground and lets them pour fire on the GOP for trying to turn the country into an actual one party state.

They can change the Senate rules to restore a filibuster with either a simple majority or a 60 seat majority, the former being eyebrow raising and the latter symbolic; I assume you meant the latter.

I can see Schumer wanting to restore it, so as to avoid looking like a hypocrite (not that it has stopped the GOP with their "fire with fire" approach), but it all comes down to the base. Democrats want the Party to do everything they can to hurt Trump the same way the GOP did to Obama. This is the real cause of the destructive path the Senate is going down, rather than any particular politician.

It's why I think Trump offering to appoint Garland in the future would be a surprise move that could possibly reverse the trend. The Senate is basically held hostage by the public opinion of each Senator's state, but Trump's nationwide constituency means he has more flexibility. It would be the ultimate peace offering to Democrats, and a possible way to move past the outrage that culminated in Obama's final year. The Court remains conservative, as the GOP wanted, but the Democrats receive Garland, as they wanted. Granted, a liberal majority would be the only true peace offering, but that's out of the question.

But, it's a long shot. Not only do the Democrats need the majority and a court opening, it requires Trump do something that is actually good for this country.

Quote

And what of gerrymandering? If the Democrats can win enough state-level races, could they conceivably gerrymander their way to an advantageous position? Would they benefit more from creating, protecting and empowering via legislation a non-partisan redistricting committee?

Oh, absolutely. The fact so many of these chambers have changed hands before despite gerrymandering indicates the cause is never lost.

In the long run, it would absolutely be to Democrats' advantage to get nonpartisan committees going. Gerrymandering will inevitably flip back to the GOP's hands, and the simple fact the Democrats are more popular as a party means that they stand to win by eliminating gerrymandering.

While we're on the subject, he success of the instant runoff initiative in Maine means there is momentum to push for more proportional voting elsewhere around the country. The more PR and IRV there is, the harder the gerrymandering will become.

Quote

Essentially, what I'm asking is: Can permanent GOP domination realistically be stopped at this point?

We've had numerous Party system collapses, so I'd say yes. The GOP's hold on power is incredibly dependent on legal mechanisms as opposed to broad support, and that puts it in hot water. They've also benefitted from 8 years of anti-Obama and anti-Clinton momentum, and that is gone now; they are likely to reverse course now. To be frank, voting is just like an experience at a store. We are far more likely to fill out surveys when we had a bad experience than when we had a good one; if the GOP and Trump anger enough people as they are likely to do, they can see some catastrophic results from angry Democrats and alienated independents and conservatives.

The Governor races can't be gerrymandered, so it will really come down to turnout in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 races, which will in turn shape the House races of the 2020s. What we really need to be scared of are voter ID laws, felon voting laws, and cuts to polling centers and voting deadlines.

Ultimately, we need to encourage those against the GOP to keep up to date ID and give them reminders to turn out. To get around the likely cuts to polling booths, we need to really make sure that early voting periods are used to the fullest extent.

In the end, there's a need for grassroots Democratic organization that not only gets turnout in key races, but all races.

Quote

And at the risk of being picked up and deported by partisan ICE agents in an hour, would the filibuster and the country benefit from Mitch McConnell... you know... dying? I mean, the man's 75 years old FFS, he's gotta have some intractable health problems somewhere. Dicky heart? Gimpy lungs? Diabetes? C'mon now, give me something to cling on to here.

It seems to be the trend that Party leaders are followed by their Whips in succession (though not always the case, as Reid was succeeded by Schumer as opposed to Durbin, a rivalry that dates back to 2010). This in mind, we'd likely end up with Majority Leader John Cornyn. He's slightly more conservative than McConnell. That in mind, it in theory could get worse, especially since he doesn't seem to break with McConnell on much of anything.

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55 minutes ago, Gregg (Ogilvie) said:

Whatever McConnell's vision is, the bulk of the GOP are not interested in getting rid of the legislative filibuster. There's innately more compromise involved in legislation as opposed to federal positions.

Maybe. But then again, "moderate" McCain made a lot of noise about how removing the filibuster would be "idiotic";... only to fall in line with the rest of the GOP during the actual voting. They have absolutely no shame, and even now you can see them on TV claiming that they never obstructed Obama.

If the GOP manages to agree on some really heinous piece of legislation, and the Dems try to filibuster it, McConnell would blast the Dems for being "the party of obstruction" and kill the legislative filibuster.

Quote

I can see Schumer wanting to restore it, so as to avoid looking like a hypocrite (not that it has stopped the GOP with their "fire with fire" approach), but it all comes down to the base. Democrats want the Party to do everything they can to hurt Trump the same way the GOP did to Obama. This is the real cause of the destructive path the Senate is going down, rather than any particular politician.

Democrats already get constantly labelled as spineless by their own voting base, so this would be a suicidal move. If they restore the filibuster, the GOP will once again proceed to obstruct everything they can, because why wouldn't they? It worked last time for them. They'd even filibuster the next SCOTUS nomination, claiming it's "revenge for how Democrats filibustered Gorsuch".

The filibuster is dead for good.

Quote

It's why I think Trump offering to appoint Garland in the future would be a surprise move that could possibly reverse the trend. The Senate is basically held hostage by the public opinion of each Senator's state, but Trump's nationwide constituency means he has more flexibility. It would be the ultimate peace offering to Democrats, and a possible way to move past the outrage that culminated in Obama's final year. The Court remains conservative, as the GOP wanted, but the Democrats receive Garland, as they wanted. Granted, a liberal majority would be the only true peace offering, but that's out of the question.

But, it's a long shot. Not only do the Democrats need the majority and a court opening, it requires Trump do something that is actually good for this country.

It's not just a long shot, it's outright never happening.

Trump is a complete moron, who only does what his circle of slimy acolytes tell him to do. Gorsuch wasn't his pick, he was picked by other Republicans who wanted another "textualist" like Scalia. They will never advise Trump to pick Garland, and Trump, who's obsessed with not appearing weak, will never do anything that might look like he's surrendering to the demands of the Democratic party.

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11 hours ago, Gregg (Ogilvie) said:

I wonder at what point "you lost" will stop being the go to defense for Trumpism. It's really obnoxious.

 

Almost every excuse devout Trump supporters use seems designed to shut down the other person through sheer unfiltered obnoxiousness, so I'm sure it will remain in their arsenal for quite some time. Personally, insisting something is "fake news" is the one that's about worn out my last nerve. Like if the argument you want to make is that you shouldn't even take mainstream news at face value and do a little digging to verify a story, then fine I agree, but then a lot of these guys drop fuckin infowars links and I just can't even, man.

 

RE: McConnell, I'm hard pressed to think of a more toxic presence in the legislative branch right now. There was a video of him chuckling his way through an interview recently when asked about how he obstructed the supreme court nomination under Obama only to pull this nuclear option shit, and good god I have an almost unrestrained urge to smack that smirk right off his smug face.

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So Trump's 100 days are up on April 29th. Congress will be in recess for most of the next two weeks. Unless he rams something through in the last week, his Presidency can be declared as having failed severely by the traditional benchmark. Compare Obama's for reference. Note the 100 day approval ratings as well.

"According to Gallup's First quarter survey in April, President Obama received a 63% approval rating. Gallup began tracking presidential approval ratings of the first quarters since Eisenhower in 1953. President Kennedy received the highest in April 1961 with a 74% rating. Obama's 63% is the fourth highest and the highest since President Carter with a 69%. President Reagan's first quarter had 60% approval in 1981, President George.H.W. Bush with 57% in 1989, President Clinton with 55% in 1993, and President George W. Bush with 58% in 2001."

Trump is hovering around 43% after the Syria attack due to an increase, but he's still underperforming every President for the last several decades.

As exposed as the Democrats are in the Senate, I think they have a chance to avoid losses and gain a majority if they focus on populist issues and turn out those who want to check Trump's power.

What's really terrifying is how much simple age could change the next four years: the liberal justices are older than their conservative counterparts (ranging from 78 to 84, with the oldest conservative being 68), whereas in the Senate, the 12 Senators 75 or older lean (9 of 12) Republican. It's rather morbid, but given the odds someone in these two groups will either retire or pass away, the balance of power could shift dramatically.

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As I recall, even Obama received only one rally-round-the-flag approval boost during his two terms, when Osama bin Laden got deaded, and that only lasted about a month. It might've lasted longer if he had been taken alive, or his body had been paraded around on TV, but that prospect will forever be left to the alternative history crowd. Anyway, point is, most military strikes don't usually result in an approval rating bump - even when they kill important enemy leaders - and those that do are often all too fleeting.

Once memories of the strike fade, but the Russia leaks, infighting and terrible bills keep coming, the numbers will plunge back down again. It might take Trump embroiling the US in a new quagmire war to keep them up, but that would break his American First campaign promise and erode his still-high support within the GOP considerably, and rile up the anti-war people from all sides, making achieving key legislative goals a real nightmare compared to the AHCA fail.

If tax reform is Trump's next big thing, and he wants it done by Day #100, he's setting himself up for failure. It's not getting done in the 5 days Congress will have left. We might even see a government shutdown beginning on Day #100 if the Freedom Caucus et al torpedoes the budget resolution they've been cooking up - that would be a yuge blow to Trump's agenda, on top of the abject failure of his administration to pass any signature legislative projects during that crucial first hundred days.

Even for popular presidencies, it gets much harder to pass crucial legislation after the first hundred days. For an unpopular one, it might go from difficult to almost impossible, unless their entire agenda undergoes a dramatic metamorphosis.

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So apparently Eric Trump let it slip that the reason we sent that failed bombardment to Syria is because Ivanka was really upset about the kids that got gassed (not enough to advocate for them achieving refugee status, but hey, baby steps I guess).

Remember when people were against Hillary, particularly in regards to foreign policy, because she would apparently make rash emotional decisions that would get us embroiled into deeper political quagmires in the Middle East?

Pepperidge Farm remembers. And Dems who saw this shit coming.

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It's amazing how this was still considered the humanitarian decision while allowing refugees is some "risky move". I mean I know people that act as if the government is 100% great and knows what it's doing, and that the decisions made, travel ban, this, etc. are smart moves made in our interest.

"Yes because preventing a government slaughtering its people over a travel ban for 90 days to fix the way we let people into this country yes, or do you want what happened to saint peters Russia and Egypt happen in your home town?"

except that really wasn't the reason for it.

"I don't need to explain anything of what military or the presidents do this country is by far the best country out there. You have a blessed and wonderful day" 

lol. Jesus can some people say anything negative about how things are? The one time we get a really shit guy doing clearly shit things lately, and now we decide to be all "well, but, you just.."?

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Special election day in Kansas is today. Low turnout, high Democratic excitement and a disastrously unpopular Republican state government should make for a close race in the conservative state.

The GOP is hoping for a large enough victory to blunt Democratic momentum as we approach next week's special election in Georgia. A narrow Democratic loss would not dent their excitement one bit, and may even boost it. A Dem win would be huge news, and a bad sign for Trump.

Meanwhile, Sean Spicer attempted to distract us from Kansas today by claiming Assad is worse than Hitler because Hitler (he asserted) didn't use chemical weapons. Ahem, Holocaust anyone?

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2 hours ago, Nepenthe said:

 

Remember when people were against Hillary, particularly in regards to foreign policy, because she would apparently make rash emotional decisions that would get us embroiled into deeper political quagmires in the Middle East?

 

 

No. But I do remember the last time I saw someone defend this by saying that it doesn't matter because Hilary would've done the same thing or worse. 

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It's an obviously facile, stupid argument for sure, but the Holocaust is irrelevant to the German military using chemical weapons or not during WWII. Nor was Spicer's particularly stupid comment "Holocaust denial"; which is a particular amusing and unnecessary overreaction to what he said since it was dumb enough as it is without various media outlets trying to force intent that clearly wasn't there when he said it.

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I don't know about that.

I mean it's definitely not "Holocaust denial," but I thought the whole counterpoint over how stupid the comment was on both Assad and Hilter's regimes using chemicals to kill civilans regardless.

I don't really see the difference either way between that or the impact of what Spicer's saying, but I figured I'd at least clear that part up.

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The Nazi government used deadly chemicals as one of the more efficient ways of several in use in committing genocide, but (mostly) pointedly refused to use chemical weapons in the actual war even when it probably would have been very beneficial for them to do so (Normandy being the most obvious example) and even when they were so terrified of what the Soviet Union was going to do to them when they invaded Germany that people were committing suicide en masse.

 

Spicer was referring to how Assad has been using chemical weapons (which legally can be treated the same as nuclear arms) against legitimate military targets which merely happen to be civilian towns caught in the crossfire of anti-government forces without even the slightest shit given. This makes his comment and attempt to cover them possibly even stupider than they already would have been since he seemed to be implying that indiscriminately attacking military targets is worse than "just" murdering civilians, but there is an international distinction between what Hitler did and what Assad (and Iraq and Iran in the 1980s) is doing so there is at least a line of logic in what Spicer was saying even if it is still a fantastically pants-on-head retarded thing to say.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/04/13/behind-closed-doors-trump-signs-bill-allowing-states-to-strip-federal-family-planning-dollars-from-abortion-providers/

YAY WOMENS HEALTH CARE IS NOW AT AN ALL TIME LOWPOINT AND PARENTS HAVE LESS WAYS TO DEAL WITH UNPLANNED PARENTING! GO TRUMP WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

(FUCK YOU)

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Reminder: No matter what shitheads like Paul Ryan say, Abortion has and never was or ever will be funded by the government. The federal funding is to help with giving easy and cheap birth control as well as, well, help PLAN for PARENTHOOD if they decide to have a baby but don't know what to do because sex-ed is non-existent in the US. Donations are what fund the abortions.

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The United States has an entire selection of weapons designed for burrowing deep into mountains and cliffsides before detonating to clear out bunkers and caves. Looking at Wikipedia, we have 14 bunker busters to choose from, depending on how deep the area is and how much payload needs to be delivered. They tend to look like this:

GBU-28_xxl.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Trump all be like "get that pussy shit out of here. just fuckin' blow up the whole mountain with this:"

MOABAFAM.JPG

 

 

 

 

John-Birch-Society-American-Flag-hero-E.

Fuckin' A!

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I'll be interested to see what the before and after photos of the target look like.

Russia apparently has one that may be four times more powerful than this bomb. Wonder if they'll deploy it?

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8 hours ago, PSI Wind said:

Reminder: No matter what shitheads like Paul Ryan say, Abortion has and never was or ever will be funded by the government. The federal funding is to help with giving easy and cheap birth control as well as, well, help PLAN for PARENTHOOD if they decide to have a baby but don't know what to do because sex-ed is non-existent in the US. Donations are what fund the abortions.

Also, birth control medication isn't just used for controlling birth.  It is also used by many women to regulate periods, control hormones, etc.  Planned Parenthood provides it for those reasons, as well.  Defunding them can be detrimental for those women who can't get the medication from regular hospitals or clinics.

What a time to be alive.

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34 minutes ago, Tara said:

Also, birth control medication isn't just used for controlling birth.  It is also used by many women to regulate periods, control hormones, etc.  Planned Parenthood provides it for those reasons, as well.  Defunding them can be detrimental for those women who can't get the medication from regular hospitals or clinics.

What a time to be alive.

They also provide affordable cancer screenings, so more accurately, "what a time to have a terminal illness."

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So what is this I'm hearing about China helping us with North Korea given we're sending an fleet over there?

Now I've made it loud and clear I would support any president that dealt with the DPRK (on the sole condition that we don't strike first, which I don't think Trump is willing to do) , but that sounds like a bunch of optimistic nonsense.

For real tho, the Korea situation has me worried. If Trump has any sense he shouldn't go for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, but from what I'm seeing he's a bit too eager to deal with them militarily than he should be?

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