The difference between Trump and Sanders

It is true that the strength of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race has caused as much surprise as Donald Trump seizing the leadership of the Republican race. The lazy pundit class has tried to draw more parallels, suggesting that Sanders and Trump are mirror images of each other, each appealing to the extreme elements of their respective parties.
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The crazies have found a new dark plot

Yesterday brought news from NASA scientists that they had evidence of flowing water on Mars

Liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, according to researchers who say the discovery raises the chances of being home to some form of life.

Scientists are unsure where the water comes from, but it may rise up from underground ice or salty aquifers, or condense out of the thin Martian atmosphere.

“There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer, the lead scientist on Nasa’s Mars exploration programme, told the Guardian. “Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today.”

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Austerity as cover for class war

Yanis Varoufakis is a Greek economist and academic who was appointed minister of finance in the government of the Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipra that came to power in January on an anti-austerity platform. Varoufakis was an outspoken critic of the harsh measures that were imposed by the IMF and the European Union and resigned in July when he felt that he had burned his bridges with his negotiating partners in those organizations and could not support the bailout package.
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Donald Trump on 60 Minutes

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Trump for the show yesterday and I found it hilarious. Trump was himself, supremely confident and unfiltered. He is promising universal health care, opposing cuts in Social Security, raising taxes on some wealthy people and eliminating some tax loopholes while reducing taxes on the middle class and the poor, repairing all the broken infrastructure, canceling free trade agreements and imposing tariffs on imports by US businesses that shift manufacturing overseas and also from countries like China that he thinks are acting unfairly. Today he released his tax reform plan that he only teased Pelley about and, as Kevin Drum points out, it is most specific when it comes to giving breaks for the rich, no doubt to try and gain establishment Republican and business support.
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Pope Francis on atheists and heaven

Francis has left the US after what has to be considered highly successful visits to Cuba and the US, success being measured by the tremendous size of the crowds and the very favorable press that he received. There were no major controversies but also no surprises. My impression of the visit is that while Francis still holds on to all the nasty dogma of the Catholic church such as its opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality, he would rather not talk about those things and prefers to focus on issues like climate change and wealth and income inequality and poverty, all issues that transcend religious dogma. I think that we secularists should treat him as an influential ally on the issues on which we agree with him while continuing to fight against him on those we don’t.
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Nothing is too stupid to believe anymore

One of the poisonous side effects of the fact-free atmosphere that has been created by the Republican party is that evidence in support of any theory is no longer considered necessary. As long as prominent people are willing to make strong assertions confidently and their targets have already been suitably demonized, these statements are given a presumption of credibility. The examples are legion. Obama is a Kenyan, Muslim, Marxist plotting to install a dictatorship in the US is perhaps the most egregious example and best known. Others are that Christians are being persecuted in the US, climate change is a hoax, Planned Parenthood sells baby parts for profit, 9/11 was an inside job, Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons and was responsible for 9/11, Obamacare has death panels, airplane contrails are really ‘chemtrails’ in a secret government spraying program, immigrants from Mexico are responsible for a crime spree of murders and rapes, the list goes on and on. It seems like there is no major issue, whether natural or human-caused, that escapes the paranoid fantasies of a significant minority in the US.
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