December 10, 2022

Is it misogynistic or sexist to address how Krysten Simena dresses

Is it misogynistic or sexist to address how Kyrsten Simena dresses
By Hal Brown
A man diving into the perilous waters of critiquing how a woman choses to dress.

Update: When a man writes something critical about a woman he risks being attacked just for being a man writing about a woman. I had a long phone conversation with a woman friend last night about this and she brought up that this applies to other topics where someone writes about something they haven't personality experienced. I noted that Freud was criticized with justification for his conclusions about what he considered psychopathology in women. 

Did anybody screaming "sexism" because Steve Bannon dressed like a bum and was mocked for it? Did anyone scream sexism for mocking Trump's baggy ridiculous suits or his long red tie?
 
Posted 6:00 AM Pacific time, updated at noon.

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DonkeyHotey

My morning blog yesterday about was about Kyrsten Sinema and her narcissism. It wasn't until eight hours later that I did some web searching since she was making the news all day long and found articles about her fashion choices. Until I updated the article in the evening I didn't even address this. I added updates to the article about this, received negative  feedback on Mastodon, so I removed the update, republished what I wrote here and added to it.

I noticed this photo was used to illustrate this NY Times article.


I was taken to task by at least three members of Mastodon who consider it wrong to write about how a woman dressed. If you go to Mastodon and look me up - try clicking here at, you should be able to read these criticisms of you search for them.

These criticisms led me to remove those updates and put them here. I think this is worth addressing separately. 

This is from The NY Times article above:

Not just because of her political theater. Ever since she was sworn in to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2005, Ms. Sinema has always stood out in a crowd. And as Ms. Sinema’s legislative demands take center stage (along with those of Senator Joe Manchin, the other Biden Bill holdout) her history of idiosyncratic outfits has taken on a new cast.

As Tammy Haddad, former MSNBC political director and co-founder of the White House Correspondents Weekend Insider, said of the senator, “If the other members of Congress had paid any attention to her clothing at all they would have known she wasn’t going to just follow the party line.”

These are some of the photos from the Times article: 


 

This photo has been mocked on social media:

This included an inappropriately worded  "toot" on Mastodon (below) which has as far as I can tell since  has been deleted. I posted it here but out of respect for the person who made it I removed it.

I was criticized, and still am being criticized on Mastodon by members saying in various ways that it isn't cool to criticize a woman, or anyone for their appearance. One person noted how AOC has received similar criticism. This is the response I posted there originally along with the photos below.

With  women fashion choice can be unfairly emphasized, misogynistic, and sexist, but in a psychological analysis, which my essay was, how someone decides to dress is one of the factors to consider. Fashion choice is a part of behavior and personality. Melania  was widely attacked for the "don't care" jacket' #Sinema  presided over the Senate this year while wearing a hot pink sweater with the words “Dangerous Creature” on the front which NY Time's said broke the Internet.


The fact that sociologists, psychologists, and others consider it reasonable to analyze what a woman's fashion choices says about her personality doesn't mean it is the proper thing to do. Doing so certainly opens one to criticism. I think this has to be put in perspective and considered along with a wide variety of other factors. Just because doing so may be controversial I do not think it is fair to insist that the subject not be addressed. 

I tried in my previous article to put Sinema's fashion in the context of her narcissism. This doesn't mean that a woman shouldn't express her personality through fashion, but I want to emphasize that context and motivation matters. 

This is from an Oct. 2021 essay in The New York Times by Tressie McMillan Cottom 


Excerpt:

Sinema’s presentation of herself as a political figure in public life raises several interesting questions that have been at the center of my research and writing. I have written about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as another female politician whose style is part of her message. For both A.O.C. and Sinema, the media has struggled to put the meaning of style in a context that is not frivolous or demeaning. This has contributed to our inability to talk about their presentation as politics. That inability makes that presentation only more powerful because it can go uncritiqued.

There are a few schools of thought that tell us that we shouldn’t talk about what Sinema wears. One school tells us that her presentation and the way she dresses do not matter because her politics are just so bad. We need to focus on what really matters, the thinking goes, and clothing isn’t in that category. This is a common argument among people who view themselves as very serious thinkers. In fact, commenting on things like fashion and dress and style is considered anti-intellectual in most of my professional circles.


It is also very common in a masculinist strain of intellectualism to consider discussing anything associated with girls and women to be an inferior form of discourse. When we talk about a woman — even in the routine interrogation of how she is able to do her job as a powerful public servant — we are talking about femininity. And femininity does not rate as a substantive form of discussion. This is an easy argument to dismiss because it fails at its own standard: it is unserious.

Another line of argument is what I see as the third-wave feminist response to our culture’s obsession with women’s bodies as their only worth, which is: We should never acknowledge what a woman looks like. I have heard people proclaim emphatically, for instance, “Never comment on a person’s body.” To the extent that Sinema’s clothes are worn on her body, the logic goes, we should never comment on her clothing.

Here's an follow-up article from her in The New York Times (November 5, 2021)


Excerpts:

Last week, I argued that it was useful to think about the clothes Kyrsten Sinema wears, because her presentation is part of her political power. I also invited readers to think along with me. Many of you wrote me to say that the very idea of talking about what a woman is wearing gives you, for lack of a better term, the heebie-jeebies. Some of you worry that this line of inquiry devalues Sinema’s credentials and office; others worry that talking about presentation is tacitly sexist because it opens the door to critiquing women for something that their male counterparts can take for granted.

Some took me to task for lowering myself — and the discourse — to something as trivial as performance, style and fashion. I addressed that criticism, which I find deeply unserious, in my last newsletter. Presentation matters to how we live. Serious people should be able to talk about that.

From her conversation with UC Davis sociologist Maxine Craig

Maxine pointed out that Sinema’s physique is one that would “attract different kinds of attention” were it that of a Black woman. As a comparison, she brought up the way voters eviscerated Michelle Obama — who is a political figure despite not being an elected official — for wearing sleeveless dresses. On Obama, fitted sheaths without sleeves were a code for unruly behavior and thus disrespect for the president’s office. But unruliness is a reputation that Sinema can afford to cultivate. It was seen, especially early in her career, as positive: a mark of her independence, not a sign of her lack of respect. Sinema also gets a bonus: that sleeveless silhouette draws attention to her level of fitness. Love or hate her style, a lot of the commentary suggests, you have to respect Sinema’s fit physique.

Here's a 2019 article from Slate:


Excerpts:

In July 2017, Democratic women in Congress organized a protest against the enforcement of an “appropriate attire” dress code that was being used to keep reporters in sleeveless outfits out of certain parts of the Capitol building. Two dozen representatives wore shirts and dresses that showed their arms one sunny Friday, beseeching then-Speaker Paul Ryan to modernize the rules.

Kyrsten Sinema, at the time an Arizona congresswoman, didn’t pose for the cutesy photo op the Dems staged on the Capitol steps. Nor did she tweet about her “right to bare arms,” as many of her colleagues did. But few legislators stood to benefit from the loosened rules as much as she did. In her three terms in the House, Sinema became known for a signature style: bold colors, graphic patterns, glittery hoop earrings, and lots of flouncy sleeveless dresses befitting the climate of her home state. With a few notable exceptions (see: eccentric “hipster” Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut), women in Congress usually favor more conservative ensembles: solid neutrals, structured sheath dresses, and shapeless trousers. The evident joy Sinema took in dressing outside the Washington norm was a welcome departure from the dutiful businesswear that currently populates the Capitol. It was also appropriate for the image of a post-partisan, aisle-crossing “social butterfly” she strove to present.

.... 

The senator got a flurry of attention for her new look in early January, when she was sworn in by Mike Pence in her most flamboyant getup yet: bejeweled white stilettos, a thin-strapped tank top with gigantic pearls around the neckline, a form-fitting skirt printed with a photorealistic pink rose the size of a throw pillow, and a smattering of gems and jeweled brooches. The outfit, and the swagger she displayed while wearing it, landed her a full-page photo on the front cover of the New York Times’ feature on the women of the 116th Congress. When the general public got wind of Sinema’s over-the-top accessories—a gray fur stolefor indoors, a glittery polka-dotted tote and retro pink jacket with a fur collar for outdoors—she became the subject of breathless praise, an icon of femininity in a Congress with more female legislators than ever before.

I noticed this photo on RawStory and wondered if it was a photoshop. 



It wasn't. She posted it herself on InstaGram. Not show is a ring that says Fuck Off. 




A Google Image search showed that it  was picked up on at the time and reported on here and there, including by The Nation and UK Yahoo News. (click to enlarge)

 For example: 

Profane engraving on Sinema’s ring draws attention, anger from progressives.


Excerpt:

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic

It’s unclear to whom the Arizona Democrat’s message was directed —  if anyone —  but the image drew an immediate backlash from progressives on Twitter, who accused her of flouting contempt for her critics.

The ring, with the words “F— off,” was featured in the foreground of the photo. Sinema shared the image using social media functions that make images available to see for 24 hours.

Progressive Democratic party officials in Arizona also weighed in disapprovingly.

Sinema purchased such a ring, which sells for $30 at Frances, a popular Phoenix boutique she frequents. 

“We do not comment on Kyrsten’s clothing or physical appearance,” Sinema’s spokeswoman, Hannah Hurley, said.

“Arizona’s senior Senator is now telling voters to ‘F*ck off’ for asking for a living wage,” Arizona Democrat Michael Slugocki, vice chair of the state Democratic Party, lashed out against Sinema on Monday.

This is yet another example of the way this United States senator has succeeded in getting media attention. Whether it is indicative aspect of her being high enough on the scale of narcissism to be considered pathological can't be determined, she'd need an intensive psychological assessment for that. Regardless, it seems clear that such behavior has been successful in garnering headlines. 

In conclusion, whether one is a man or woman, fashion choices are relevant if one wants to understand the personality of an individual. I wore happy socks for years and admit that this was a way of getting attention. I also take pride in being fashionable in the way I dress knowing that in the senior community where I live I am one of only a few men who make sure they are color coordinated. I won't object to anyone suggesting that I have an element of narcissism in my personality.

I am a new HOKA shoe aficionado and have pairs in black, blue, and gray. I resisted buying the ones like those on the left which really would have screamed "look at me."



I was a psychotherapist for 40 years. Those who have followed my blog and previously my posts on Daily Kos know that my understanding of psychodynamics informs my understanding of why those in the public eye from politicians like Trump to celebrities like Herschel Walker and Ye behave the way they do. 

I have been criticized before because what I wrote offended some people. In fact I was suspended for a week from posting on Daily Kos for writing about homosociality. Whoever there made this decision considered my post homophobic even though it was based an article by Michelangelo Signorile who is a widely published gay activist.




If you look at the comments section to the article which wasn't taken offline you'll see that I replied to the commenters who criticized me. I think debate over controversial subjects is healthy. 

 

December 9, 2022

Sinema, attention seeking narcissist or self-absorbed fraud, different words same idea

 Sinema, attention seeking narcissist or self-absorbed fraud, different words same idea
By Hal Brown

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I posted this on Mastodon:


Sinema wrote (see link): that "when I ran for the U.S. House and the Senate, I promised Arizonans something different. I pledged to be independent" which is very different than actually running as an independent. Arizonans voted for a Democrat. She reneged on this betraying voters. If she wants to be honest she should wait til 2025 and run as an independent. I see her as an attention grabbing narcissist who craves the spotlight. There's no other reason to do this.

Then I looked at RawStory and read this article by Travis Gettys:

'Self-absorbed' Kyrsten Sinema ripped as a 'fraud' for leaving Democratic Party




Excerpts:

  • "Kyrsten Sinema, translated: Well this won't be any fun at all now so I need to find some other thing that will make Me Me Me seem important," wrote Kentucky-based columnist Teri Carter.
  • "Sinema is blatantly power-hungry," said radio executive Chris Lavoie. "When I lived in Tempe, she ran as a Green. Now she wants to convince Arizonans and the rest of the country that she's a quirky maverick. She is none of that. Her vacillation shows that @SenatorSinema has no core values."
  • "Kyrsten Sinema is a predictable self-absorbed a-hole," said activist John Hunigan. "No one is surprised she's no longer a Dem. This has always been about self-promotion and $ for her."

Living as I do in Oregon, I lived through a nail-biting campaign season where someone just as attention seeking as Sinema, Betsy Johnson, a former Democrat, ran as an independent in the governors race and nearly led to far-right candidate Christine Drazen beating the winner, progressive Democrat Tina Kotek.

Sinema cheated Arizona voters who voted for a candidate who was up front about being what most would consider to be moderate to conservative Democrat (being generally socially liberal but fiscally moderate-to-conservative.[119][120][121]

However, she ran as a Democrat, not an independent.

Once in the Senate, from that I can tell from Wikipedia, she began as a back-bencher without a national profile until she began her naysaying. 

Consider that her committee assignments didn't lead to her getting national exposure:


This Time article illustrates how she discovered her path to being a political household name:
Excerpt:

Sinema made the pilgrimage on Monday to Kentucky to speak at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, a familiar stop for Senate institutionalists to pay a polite nod to the chamber’s top Republican and master of its byzantine nature. And, once at McConnell’s alma mater, she was treated to a Brink’s truck of praise for her unwillingness to fall in line with the rest of her Democratic Party. It wasn’t entirely magnanimous.

“She is, today, what we have too few of in the Democratic Party: a genuine moderate and a dealmaker,” McConnell said in his introduction, which also described her as “the most effective first-term senator I’ve seen.”If obstruction is a proxy for efficacy, then there’s little room for argument. Sinema helped to tank changes to Senate rules that would have allowed for a simple-majority to advance certain measures that her party considered priorities. In turn, preserving the Senate tradition of lawmakers killing legislation by simply threatening to filibuster it derailed a voting rights proposal. She also wasn’t on board for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure packages or an effort by the progressive wing of her party to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In turn, she got a hero’s welcome from a host who similarly enjoys thwarting Democrats’ best-laid plans, including a Supreme Court nominee in 2016. 

I put her in the same category as other narcissists whose core political beliefs are suspect.  This includes Betsy Johnson, who never became nationally well known, and others like Kari Lake who did. Nobody knows for certain what the likes of them and of Jim Jordan, Paul Ryan, and Matt Gaetz really believe. They would be obscure members of Congress if they didn't take outrageous positions.

Notable narcissistic headline grabbing political exceptions are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert who may have delusional disorders and could believe the attention grabbing lunacy they spout. 

It is important to note that there are two independents in the Senate who Sinema has now joined who are part of the Democratic Party caucus, Bernie Sanders and Angus King. Both of them ran as independents.

Updates:

This article speculates on the real reason Sinema chose to become an Independent:

Excerpt:

To put it mildly, Sinema has not endeared herself to Democrats in her home state. Earlier this year, Data For Progress polled Arizona Democrats and found the incumbent senator trailing Gallego in a hypothetical primary match-up, 74% to 16%. That’s not a typo: She actually trailed the popular congressman by 58 points.

With this in mind, Sinema very likely realized that she had a decision to make: She could (a) retire; (b) take steps to repair the relationship with the Democratic voters who elected her in the first place; or (c) take her chances as an independent.

As a tactical matter, settling on the third option makes sense. Sinema was very likely to lose a Democratic primary, her voting record made a run as a Republican implausible, and she didn’t want to walk away from Capitol Hill altogether. Becoming an independent is a sensible strategy.

Indeed, it’s not unrealistic to think it might very well save her career.

From The Hill:


 

---------- 

'

  • “It’s f***ed up, but also typical Sinema,” Andrew Feldman, a Democratic strategist and founder of the progressive communications firm Feldman Strategies, told The Hill on Friday shortly after the news broke. 
  • “If Sinema can’t decide between the party of Raphael Warnock and the party of Kari Lake and Donald Trump, then she is truly lost,” said Waleed Shahid, a veteran strategist and communications director for the Justice Democrats.
  • “The level of shamelessness that it takes to do something like this at this particular moment in history, it’s really mind boggling,” said Max Berger, a progressive strategist who worked for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 
  • “Bye Felicia,” tweeted Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) a member of the Squad. “This isn’t about the party this is about your pharma donors! Stop lying!” (I had to look up what this meant.)


 

If you're new to the blog, the archives in the right column will take you back through the period when I began posting political stories and before that when the blog only had photo essays documenting road trips around Portland and Washington with photos of both scenery and unusual restaurants. Remember you can click the small images to enlarge them. These are from 2021.

December 8, 2022

Trump grift goes on despite losing NYC case

 Trump grift goes on despite losing NYC case

By Hal Brown

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DonkeyHotey caricature, illustration by Hal Brown
Despite losing the NYC case he will stay wealthy and stands to get richer with his deal in Oman. Only in prison his money won't do him any good. The easier to make documents case must be won but only the conspiracy to subvert the Constitution case could result in a long prison sentence. Getting out in a few months or years a wealthy man would be an affront to justice. 

So the Trump Organization lost the case in New York City and was fined a paltry $1million. If his pending deal to build a multi-billion dollar despot in Oman goes through it will be a drop in the bucket. Here's the story from Arab News.

Excerpt:

RIYADH: Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan has signed an agreement with former US President Donald Trump’s company to develop its $4 billion project in Oman, it said in a filing on the Tadawul on Sunday.  

The Trump resort will include residential villas, a hotel and a golf course. It will be located at Aida, a 100-meter-high hilltop project jointly developed by Dar Al Arkan and the Oman Tourism Development Co.   

The project will be developed over 10 years on an area of 3.5 million square meters and is expected to reach a joint investment of SR6 billion ($1.59 billion), the filing said.  

“We are always looking to enhance Dar Al Arkan's unique projects with premium facilities and experiences. Our partnership with Trump will distinguish our first venture in Oman and put it on the global map,” said Yousef Al Shelash, chairman of Dar Al Arkan, in a company statement.  

The 100-meter-high hilltop development is one of the largest premium mixed-use real estate projects in the world, situated by the sea. 

While here in the United States Chicago paper called for 'jackhammering' controversial Trump name off of their Trump Tower (below).

It appears that in some countries having the Trump name emblazoned, no doubt literally in gold letters, on a humongous project is considered a major selling point.

Trump is beloved, even worshipped, by a terrifyingly large minority of Americans who would, if they could, elect him president for life. Residents of Democratic countries around the world look at the United States and are dumbfounded by how Americans could be taken in by this mentally unbalanced grifter. Of course, as I wrote yesterday, Democracies like Germany also have their problems.

The only way Trump can be punished for his crimes can will be to imprison him. As long as he stays out of prison he will be very, very rich. He'd luxuriate in all the trappings money buy. His wealth means he will have sycophants fawning over him. He won't have a true friend but he's a malignant sociopathic narcissist and as such doesn't care. With people like him, relationships, even with their spouses and family, are all transactional. They love themselves,  being worshipped, money, and power.

If Trump goes to prison he'd probably be isolated from the general population so he'd lose having inmates fawning over him.

If he's lucky the prison will let him play with his little putter in an isolated area of the prison yard:


He'd have to settle for guards who admire him to make his life a little more comfortable. Money will do him little to no good in prison unless he can bribe the guards to smuggle in goodies for him.

Perhaps they can bring him a poster for the wall of his cell:
 He can't buy out the commissary where his spending would be capped. Of course, regular readers know I try to document claims like this:

Excerpt:

Most facilities have individual limits of the amount of funds that inmates can have for commissary. Most do not allow an expenditure of over $ 300 per month on commissary items. However, in many federal and state facilities, an amount between $120 and $ 200 is quite a reasonable budget. There is always the question of how does an inmate know they have money? Well, after a deposit is made, an inmate receives a receipt after 24hours to three days.
He'd be able to buy snacks but the prison kitchen won't prepare special foods just for him. The best he might be able to do is convert to Judaism so he can get kosher meals. I heard kosher meals in prison were better than the regular fare. It turns out that generally this is true and has led to the "fake Jew" phenomenon.

Maybe yarmulke wearing Trump will go from Jerusalem to the big house...


They're two kinds of juries who will determine Trump's fate.  Grand juries are now or will be deciding whether to indict him, however only a trial jury can convict him of a crime and send him to prison. When it comes to where Trump ends up, it is fair to say one kind of jury is still out, and the other kind hasn't even begun to hear his case.

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'If you're new to the blog the archives in the right column will take you back through the period I began posting political stories and before that when the blog only had photo essays documenting road trips around Portland and Washington with photos of both scenery and unusual restaurants. Remember you can click the small images to enlarge them. These are from 2021.






December 7, 2022

Not just in U.S., Germany has it's far right conspiracy militia trying to overthrow government

Not just in U.S., Germany has it's far right conspiracy militia trying to overthrow government

Or at least until yesterday they did. I can't help but believe they  followed the reporting about January 6th attempted coup and its aftermath in the Untied States and were determined to succeed where they failed.

By Hal Brown

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Reich citizen terror group apparently wanted to eliminate the rule of law - police with 3000 officers on duty

The article, translated from Germany Google Translate, begins as follows:

In Germany, the Reich Citizens' Scene is in the sights of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Thousands of police officers have now gone out at the same time in eleven federal states for a major raid. According to the federal prosecutor's office, a group planned the state coup - and trained for "Day X" with weapons.

They are said to have planned a coup and also trained in part with weapons: On Wednesday morning, the federal prosecutor's office had 25 people from the so-called Reich citizen scene arrested in the course of a raid. Around 3,000 officials are deployed in eleven federal states, a spokeswoman for the Karlsruhe authority told the German Press Agency. She accuses the accused of having prepared the overthrow of the state. According to information from "Spiegel", the officers searched more than 130 apartments, offices and storage rooms.

Shades of The Oath Keepers, The Proud Boys, people with the disparate beliefs of QAnon and belief in the deep state.. They even had a leader like Trump set to take his place as dictator. They were a group Germans including those with a political ideology that rejected the government formed after World War II, according to this article. They not only included armed trained militia, some who were recruited from the police and army, but also adherents of QAnon, and Covid deniers. They were planning to storm the German Parliament Building.


Again there's the similarity to those who want to initiate a coup in the United States. They planned to storm their version of the U.S. Capitol and take over the government by violent means up to and including murder. The group's  own version of Donald Trump was Prince Heinrich XIII.
,

Acceding to this article the group "allegedly believed in a ‘conglomerate of conspiracy theories consisting of narratives from the so-called Reich Citizens as well as QAnon ideology
Prosecutors say the group think Germany is ruled by a so-called ‘deep state’ – echoing the baseless claims made by former President Donald Trump about the US.

This is more from The Mirror:

Germany's internal intelligence agency believes there are arond 16,500 members of the group across the country - many of whom are ready to commit "serious acts of violence". 

Deutsche Welle previously reported that the majority of them are over 50 years old and come from disadvantaged communities.

A district court judge in Saxony-Anhalt has described them as "conspiracy theorists" and "malcontents," DW adds. 

Several high-profile acts of extreme violence have shocked Germany and earned them the attention of law enforcement agencies. 

The group has an affinity for stockpiling ammunition and firearms - which have been discovered during previous raids.

This is the German Trump wannabe:

His family say he’s 'a confused old man caught up in conspiracy theories' (read article)


Like Trump he has a much younger wife:

Unlike Trump he's never been arrested and loaded into a police vehicle in handcuffs:

It is all beginning to sound more and more like déjà vu all all over again, only this time an attempted coup against a democracy is happening in the country whose NAZI regime was brought up by so many Democrats and anti-Trump republicans who invoked the spectre of Hitler. They recounted the early days of Hitler in the 1930's and how he positioned himself to take over Germany, and then take on the world in an attempted military conquest that would establish his 1000 year Reich.  This is what Trump and his cult hope to achieve in 2024 by any means necessary.

The arrest of those who are the 25 presumably top leaders of this German moment  which has 16,500 members hopefully will at least temporarily set back their plans and that German police, military, and intelligence agencies will begin the arduous legal and investigative process to dismantle this group.

I assume that they will be working with their law enforcement  counterparts in the United States and other democratic countries wherever there are right-wing groups made up of a witches brew of hate and off the wall conspiracy theories. I don't think it is a far stretch of imagination to believe these groups have relationships with similar foreign groups. I am afraid there are leaders around the world who want to achieve their fascist and autocratic rule just the way Hitler tried to do and came close to succeeding.



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Who will really be standing behind Biden in the State of The Union Address

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