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The latest blue state political news, from the most reliable sources, all in one place.

Daily Kos Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:31 GMT  

Here's your teddy bear, kid. Now get out.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to the press after leaving the Senate Chamber after a marathon attack on
The face of true compassion.
Worst. Photo op. Ever.
Sen. Ted Cruz announced last week that his new “top priority” in Washington is to end President Obama’s deferred action program for DREAMers and start deporting undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

But to show that he is approaching his new top priority in a compassionate way, Cruz made a stop at the border this weekend to help Glenn Beck hand out his truckload of teddy bears and soccer balls to children who have come to the southern border fleeing violence in Central America.

"Here's your teddy bear, kid. Now get out."
“In my view, it is altogether appropriate that private charities and private churches are showing Christian love, are caring for these children,” he said. “But at the same time we need to eliminate the promise of amnesty.”
Of course, when a charity does try to step in to care for these children, Fox News issues a nationwide freakout and an army of slobbering so-called patriots kills the effort dead.

Compassionate conservatism is a horrible thing to watch. Yes, I'm sure that will make the kids feel much better. They traveled a thousandish miles through unknown lands, often under the "care" of crooks and criminals, were dumped off in the desert somewhere near the border and told to make a run for it. Once here, they find crazy people with big signs are freaking out over the thought that they might set one little foot anywhere near their town, and members of Congress announce to the world that they probably have Ebola or something.

But here's a teddy bear handed over by one of the guys that most wants you deported, so it's all fine now. Look, sweetie, it's got a zipper so you can store all your stupid little hopes and dreams right inside.


Pensito Review Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:31 GMT  

The Overbearing Underachievers
No one said that being a U.S. senator was all games and fun, There are important political battles to be fought and won. But the Senate's leadership Fell prey to partisanship, And now we can't recall the last time senators got anything done.

No one said that being a U.S. senator was all games and fun,
There are important political battles to be fought and won.
But the Senate’s leadership
Fell prey to partisanship,
And now we can’t recall the last time senators got anything done.


Mike Luckovich Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:31 GMT  

01/08 Luckovich cartoon: Chilled out

010814-toon-luckovich-ed


ThinkProgress Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:32 GMT  

How The South Portland City Council Foiled Big Oil’s Plan To Sneak Tar Sands Out Of Canada

Don't let the boring procedural language fool you: ExxonMobil and Enridge's proxy battle with South Portland's city council just got a lot more interesting.

The post How The South Portland City Council Foiled Big Oil’s Plan To Sneak Tar Sands Out Of Canada appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The 604-foot-long Hong Kong oil tanker "Torm Aalborg" is guided by the tugboat "Andrew McAllister" at right, through the gap under the Casco Bay Bridge, Monday, Sept. 22, 2008, in South Portland, Maine. The port will continue to be used to ship oil to Canada; Monday's vote blocks the possible reversal of the pipeline's flow.

The 604-foot-long Hong Kong oil tanker “Torm Aalborg” is guided by the tugboat “Andrew McAllister” at right, through the gap under the Casco Bay Bridge, Monday, Sept. 22, 2008, in South Portland, Maine. The port will continue to be used to ship oil to Canada; Monday’s vote blocks the possible reversal of the pipeline’s flow.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

On Monday evening, the city council in South Portland, Maine made a small change to a commercial zoning law that had much larger international repercussions for the fossil fuel industry and the climate.

The council stopped another “Plan B” to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by voting 6-1 to pass an ordinance that bans the bulk loading of crude oil onto ships from the town’s waterfront. This means that the Portland-Montreal pipeline, which is now used to pump crude oil from the U.S. to Canada, would find it very difficult to reverse its flow to begin pumping tar sands crude oil extracted from Alberta to export in Portland.

The kicker? ExxonMobil owns a majority stake in the pipeline, according to a report from NRDC. Mary-Jane Ferrier, spokesperson for Protect South Portland, said “the people of South Portland should be really proud of our city today.”

Maine does not produce oil on its own; it has imported oil by sea via Portland’s harbor since World War II. This pipeline was built between Portland and Montreal after Nazi naval attacks disrupted Canadian oil shipments on the St. Lawrence River. Ever since, it has quietly pumped oil underneath Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Quebec to Montreal.

As Canadian tar sands oil production has grown, it has desperately sought pipeline connections to overseas export markets. This has led to fights with local communities that are concerned with the safety consequences of pumping the thick, heavy tar sands oil through their lands and waters, and others who are concerned with the fact that tar sands oil extraction is at least three times as carbon-intensive as conventional crude oil.

“Maine’s been confronting the specter of tar sands since 2009,” said Dylan Voorhees, the Clean Energy Program Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. He pointed out that the local environmental impact of exporting crude oil is much worse than importing it. Loading a tanker requires different infrastructure, such as additional smokestacks, which raise air quality concerns. In 2012, pipeline giant Enbridge applied to Canadian authorities to reverse the Line 9 pipeline from Sarnia to Montreal, and the next step in getting tar sands oil to market would be to reverse the Portland-Montreal pipeline. “ExxonMobil and Canadian oil giant Enbridge plan to use an antiquated oil pipeline that passes right next to Sebago Lake to transport highly corrosive tar-sands oil from Canada to Casco Bay for export,” warned Environment Maine’s website in 2013.

Though the pipeline’s owner still says that there is no plan to reverse the Portland-Montreal pipeline to export, the pipeline’s owners have fought for the right to offload oil to tankers in South Portland’s harbor. According to a report from NRDC, the pipeline is majority-owned by ExxonMobil.

With Canadian oil interests are looking for any route they can get to deliver their product to market, the fight moved to South Portland Monday night — and the big oil companies lost this battle, foiled by a well-organized grassroots movement and a staid, transparent local government.

“It’s pretty special what we were able to accomplish last night,” South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert said about the vote. Jalbert noted the open and transparent process preceding it, with the committee tasked with handling the ordinance meeting 20 times before passing it along to the city council. That council, Jalbert was quick to note, is nonpartisan.

“We went out of our way to invite, solicit, and even cajole comments from all involved, including the oil industry in following our mandate from the city council to help protect South Portland from the negative effects of tar sands processing,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress and a member of the Draft Ordinance Committee appointed by the city council. “We spent more than 60 hours in open meetings, and heard from stakeholders on all sides. The result is an ordinance that allows all current operations at the port to continue while restricting future uses that might harm the city and its residents.”

All that changed is that crude oil cannot be transferred from the port to a ship — it does not specific tar sands oil, and it does not affect the general movement of oil in the harbor. Ships will still be able to deliver oil to the pipeline for transport to Montreal — it’s an established business practice. But it won’t be exporting oil. After a long process, Jalbert noted, “this is the final vote.”

Pipeline supporters are not giving up. Jamie Py, president of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, said after the vote, “the fight is not over.” Matthew Manahan, the attorney for pipeline owner Portland Pipe Line Corp., told the city council that the “illegal ordinance … would clearly be preempted by federal and state law.”

There is enough talk of a legal challenge to the ordinance that Mayor Jalbert is working to set up a legal defense fund with donations from anyone who was allowed to contribute, including environmental groups. “As far as a potential lawsuit, we think we would be successful,” Jalbert said Tuesday. “We feel we could win.”

It remains unseen what legal tactics the tar sands export supporters will use to fight back, but supporters feel comfortable that all meetings and legislative steps were transparent.

“Some opponents claim they wanted more of an open and transparent process,” said Conathan. “We effectively drafted this ordinance in a glass house with all the lights on. There was ample opportunity for the pipeline company, the American Petroleum Institute, and anyone else to make their voices heard. It would have been far more helpful to hear from them during the process than after it.”

While the tar sands oil is unlikely to come through Portland, companies with investments in Alberta are simply looking for other routes. Last month, the Canadian government gave initial approval to the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, which would connect tar sands reserves to the coast of British Columbia. The proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline would connect those reserves to Quebec and other proposed terminals on the Atlantic seaboard, recently making news for moving forward with an export terminal on Saint John and buying a town’s silence on the proposal for $28,000.

But in each case, the fossil fuel interests have found themselves blocked by the same determined local efforts.

“Communities know that we are not alone, and we are strongest when we work together,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska. She said that the tar sands companies are banking on the idea that their products are inevitable, and actions like this make clear that this is not the case.

“We’re very grateful that you guys have put the kibosh on these plans,” said Bill McKibben, 350.org Board Chair and co-founder. He described South Portland as another “cork in the bottle” of the tar sands fields.

The post How The South Portland City Council Foiled Big Oil’s Plan To Sneak Tar Sands Out Of Canada appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Faux Pause 3: More Evidence Global Surface Temperatures Poised To Rise Rapidly

A new study finds that when climate models factor in the temporary warming and cooling impact of El Niño and La Niña, they accurately predict recent global warming.

The post Faux Pause 3: More Evidence Global Surface Temperatures Poised To Rise Rapidly appeared first on ThinkProgress.

temperature anomalies

Chart of global temperature since 1950 showing the phase of the El Niño-La Niña cycle. Via NASA.

A new study finds that when climate models factor in the temporary warming and cooling impact of El Niño and La Niña, they accurately predict recent global warming. And that is consistent with recent studies that led one climatologist to say, “Global temperatures look set to rise rapidly.”

GLOBAL WARMING CONTINUES TO ACCELERATE

A study last year found that global warming has accelerated in the past 15 years, especially in the ocean. As scientists had predicted, 90 percent of that warming ended up in the oceans. And we reported that Greenland’s ice melt increased five-fold since the mid-1990s. Another study that month found “sea level rising 60% faster than projected.”

And yet much of the media believes climate change isn’t what gets measured and reported by scientists, but is somehow a dialectic or a debate between scientists and deniers. So while 2010 was the hottest year on record and the 2000s the hottest decade on record, even prestigious media outlets like the New York Times keep pushing the meme that global warming has paused or inexplicably slowed down a great deal.

Back in December, researchers Cowtan and Way showed that much of the supposed slow down was due to missing data. As RealClimate explained in its post “Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated by Half”:

A new study by British and Canadian researchers shows that the global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic. If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled in the widely used HadCRUT4 data, and the much-discussed “warming pause” has virtually disappeared.

Cowtan and Way

The corrected data (bold lines) are shown compared to the uncorrected ones (thin lines). Via Real Climate.

“There are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, the place on Earth that has been warming fastest,” as New Scientist explained five years ago. “The UK’s Hadley Centre record simply excludes this area, whereas the NASA version assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations.” As I’ve discussed many times, that’s why we know with high certainty that the planet has actually warmed up more in the past decade than reported by the global temperature records, especially the Hadley Center’s.

ocean warmingSo there’s no “pause” in global warming, even for surface air temperatures. At that point, the remaining question was, why have surface temperatures slowed their growth, when ocean temperatures and glaciers and Arctic sea ice — which is where 95% of global warming ends up — have seen accelerated warming?

In February, new research offered an answer to that question. It found that the slowdown in the rate of surface warming is because trade winds have sped up in an unprecedented fashion, mixing more heat deeper into the oceans, while bringing cooler water up to the surface. Since more than 90 percent of human-induced planetary warming goes into the oceans, while only 2 percent goes into the atmosphere, small changes in ocean uptake can have huge impact on surface temperatures.

Lead author Prof. Matthew England explained in a news release:

“Scientists have long suspected that extra ocean heat uptake has slowed the rise of global average temperatures, but the mechanism behind the hiatus remained unclear…. But the heat uptake is by no means permanent: when the trade wind strength returns to normal –- as it inevitably will –- our research suggests heat will quickly accumulate in the atmosphere. So global temperatures look set to rise rapidly out of the hiatus, returning to the levels projected within as little as a decade.”

What that study found is that temperatures are likely to jump in the coming years since “the net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1–0.2°C.”

NEW STUDY VINDICATES CLIMATE MODELS

And that brings us to the new study published in Nature Climate Change, “Well-estimated global surface warming in climate projections selected for ENSO phase.” The El Niño-Southern oscillation (ENSO) is the cyclical warming and cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific, whose best known manifestations are El Niño and La Niña.

As the NASA chart at the top shows, over the short term ENSO can have a significant impact on global temperatures — and so it can impact the ability of even the latest climate models (so-called CMIP5 models) to accurately project temperatures over a period of 15 years or less.

In their abstract, the authors explain “Some studies and the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report suggest that the recent 15-year period (1998–2012) provides evidence that models are overestimating current temperature evolution.” But the authors note, “Such comparisons are not evidence against model trends because they represent only one realization where the decadal natural variability component of the model climate is generally not in phase with observations.”

Nino3.4Location_0The authors employed a clever way to figure out if the models were accurate or not. They took a great many simulations from 18 CMIP5 models. Then, as the UK Guardian explained, “looked at each 15-year period since the 1950s, and compared how accurately each model simulation had represented El Niño and La Niña conditions during those 15 years” – using the temperature trend in the Niño3.4 region, the key ENSO indicator.

In their study, the authors “present a more appropriate test of models where only those models with natural variability” that is “largely in phase with [ENSO] observations are selected from multi-model ensembles for comparison with observations. These tests show that climate models have provided good estimates of 15-year trends, including for recent periods and for Pacific spatial trend patterns.”

As the Guardian explains, “The study authors compared the simulations that were correctly synchronized with the ocean cycles (blue data in the left frame below) and the most out-of-sync (grey data in the right frame) to the observed global surface temperature changes (red) for each 15-year period” (using the corrected global temperature data from Cowtan and Way).

Nature Climate Change

Red: 15-year observed trends for each period. Blue: 15-year average trends from CMIP5 runs where the model Niño3.4 trend is close to observations. Grey: average 15-year trends for only the models with the worst correspondence to the Niño3.4 trend. The sizes of the dots are proportional to the number of models selected. From Nature Climate Change

Thus, the recent faux pause in the rise of surface air temperatures turns out to be nothing more than a modest slowdown driven by the short-term ENSO trend, which has favored the cooler La Niñas in the last few years (as the NASA figure at the top shows). As the Guardian points out, this conclusion “is supported by many recent studies finding that unprecedentedly strong Pacific trade winds have been churning the ocean and funneling more heat to the deeper layers, leaving less to warm the surface. All signs point to this being a temporary change, and once the oceans begin to switch back to more frequent El Niño conditions, we expect to see less efficient ocean heat absorption leading to accelerated warming of global surface temperatures.”

Finally, since the new study reconfirms that the latest climate models are indeed accurate (once ENSO is taken into account), that means if we continue on our path of general inaction on climate change, we face “9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse.” The time to act is now.

The post Faux Pause 3: More Evidence Global Surface Temperatures Poised To Rise Rapidly appeared first on ThinkProgress.

How To Memorialize A Massacre

In the third anniversary of Anders Breivik's slaughter in Norway, a look at what the memorial on Utøya will be.

The post How To Memorialize A Massacre appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Tuesday is the third anniversary of the day Anders Breivik ignited a car bomb in downtown Oslo, then slaughtered 69 people, many of them children, at a summer camp on the island of Utøya. To commemorate the 2011 attacks in Norway, the country is building what basically everyone agrees is an incredibly moving tribute memorial on Utøya, designed by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg. It won’t be so much ‘built’ as removed: a piece of earth literally cut away to signify the absence that those deaths impressed on the country:

norway memorial

CREDIT: Jonas Dahlberg

As Dahlberg recounted in his project description of his visit to the site, “Although we stood directly on the very place where many people had lost their lives, nature had already begun to obscure all traces…. With more time and with the upcoming building renovations and removals, both on Utøya and in Oslo, the disturbing sensations that were felt inside the buildings will also shift and eventually fade in varying degrees. Just as an open wound is stitched closed and eventually turns into a faded scar.”

“My concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died,” he explains. “This void in the landscape makes it impossible to reach the end of the headland.”

Here at home, Sunday marked another tragedy: two years since the horrific shooting at the midnight showing of Batman Rises in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 were killed, 70 injured. The shooting in Aurora broke records for having the largest number of victims of any mass shooting in U.S. history, but residents of the town don’t yet have a plaque to demarcate the spot. The theater has been remodeled, with no sign of its history.

The town’s mayor says a memorial is coming in due time. (“This is something that we really want to be sensitive to their needs and their concerns,” he told the Denver Post. “We’re just not going to move any faster than we need to.”) But some families feel like things should be moving faster. “To not be able to move forward on a memorial garden or something for our families is not OK,” one woman whose daughter was killed in the shooting said in the same Post story. “I’m hoping, I’m truly hoping, in the future that this will come to fruition,” another relative added. “And I’m hoping it’s something that comes to fruition sooner rather than later.”

Why do we build memorials to our dead? What does their design say about us? And when we don’t have a memorial in place – or when an event becomes too common to memorialize – are we betraying something about our culture?

Professor Phoebe S.K. Young, who teaches and writes about cultural history at the Center for the American West, says that the process of building memorials has as much to do with those left behind coping with tragedy as it does commemorating the victims.

“It’s the process of memorialization as much as the finished product that is working out the meaning,” she told me by phone. And when it comes to the kinds of memorials that we’re now being forced to build — ones for civilians slayed by their fellow civilians — we’re still learning the ropes.

“Particularly in the U.S., my sense is that there’s an attempt to make a memorial that’s outside the political debate around gun control. But that it’s impossible, in a way, to try to do that,” Young says. “There might not be an explicit connection in terms of a stance, a voice, in the memorial itself. But the memorialization of victims of the violence, it’s so intense. How do you memorialize them? It’s different than saying they were martyrs or soldiers for a cause. They didn’t die in sacrifice for the nation’s freedom. But their lives were taken. And to try to find meaning in that outside of the debate over gun control is complicated.”

That’s something that those whose lives were affected by the Sandy Hook Massacre have to navigate. Their memorial fund asserts, somewhat aggressively, “It’s about people. Not politics.” But so much of the Newtown shooting is inherently political: the gun laws that allowed it to occur, the push for stronger legislation in its aftermath.

Young also pointed out that memorials often don’t properly estimate their lasting impact, and the things that have meaning today might not signify as much in the future. Specifically, she says, the trend of naming victims at memorials is something of a coping mechanism rather than a lasting memoralization.

“What makes sense for the generation right now, in the short to medium term, they try to make it a permanent memorial. This sense of permanence seems to really grip people. But in fact, memorials, once they’ve been there for a long time, can be very easily overlooked,” she explained. As we begin to learn how to cope with the mass shooting tragedies in the U.S. — not just Aurora’s, but also Newtown’s, and Isla Vista’s, and Tucson’s — this seems to be one of the deepest-seated fears we have to confront.

It’s a fear that stems from what happens when we do absolutely nothing: Will we just forget? If we don’t mark a tragedy, does that mean we don’t remember it? There are so many shootings in the United States that go unmemorialized — the 10,000 kids killed or injured by guns each year. Could we build a memorial to each and every one, and then remember? Even memorials get forgotten.

Young mentioned one memorial from the early 19th century. It was “about memorializing these men who were key to the community and died in a tragic accident.

“Now, it’s sort of a barely noticed memorial. People sit on it, have their lunch. The names have ceased to have that power.”

The post How To Memorialize A Massacre appeared first on ThinkProgress.


PoliticusUSA Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:32 GMT  

John Boehner Makes A Fool Out of Himself Trying To Use ACA Subsidy Ruling To Push His Lawsuit
After the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that Obamacare subsidies were illegal for the federal marketplace, Speaker Boehner jumped the gun with a statement that pushed his lawsuit against President Obama.

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Republican Victory Turns Into Defeat as Second Court Rules Obamacare Subsidies Are Legal
The Republican "victory" on the legality of Obamacare subsidies for the federal exchange quickly turned to defeat as a second appeals court ruled that the subsidies are legal.

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Federal Court Ruling That Obamacare Subsidies Are Illegal Expected To Be Overturned
Today, in a 2-1 split decision, the Republican judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals embraced a controversial interpretation of the ACA that believes all subsidies issued through the federal marketplace are illegal. The decision is expected to be overturned.

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Paul Krugman Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:32 GMT  

Debt Disaster Dead-Enders
They want their crisis, and they won't let go.
Yes, We Have No Banana
You say tomato, I say inflation.
Asymmetrical Doctrines (Vaguely Wonkish)
Monetarism, Keynes, Obama, and Ayn Rand.

Media Matters for America - Latest Items Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:32 GMT  

New Study Contradicts Conservative Media's Attacks On Healthy School Lunches

Kids at LunchA new study on school lunches casts doubt on conservative media's politicized rhetoric regarding first lady Michelle Obama's school-lunch initiative.

In January 2012, Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled healthier standards for school lunches, the first effort to do so "in more than fifteen years." However, in May of this year, the new standards suffered a political backlash in Congress. The Washington Post reported that the House Appropriations Committee voted for a "Republican-backed measure" to temporarily roll back the standards in a "party-line vote [that] served as a rebuke of sorts to the first lady."

Right-wing media, who have a poor track record when it comes to talking about school meals, especially free ones, took to attacking Michelle Obama and the school lunch program itself for "plate waste" amid reports that students supposedly didn't like the new, healthier food.

However, a new study published Monday in the journal Childhood Obesity shows that students get used to the new lunches with time. According to The Boston Globe, the study found that "over time, children adapt and tolerate school lunches just as much as in the old days":


Right Wing Watch Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:32 GMT  

Richard Land Says Americans 'Ended Slavery, We Didn't Bring Slavery To North America'

Richard Land, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, is sick and tired of liberal public school propaganda about slavery in colonial America and the early United States. Subbing for Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on yesterday’s “Washington Watch” radio show, Land told listeners that Americans “ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America.”

He added that Native Americans were “enslaving each other before we got there.” While it is the case that some Native American groups did engage in various forms of slavery, there is no parallel between that and the vast scale of the American slavocracy.

Land, who left his position at the SBC after making (plagiarized) racial comments regarding the Trayvon Martin case, said that people should watch Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie rather than believe their public school education.

Movies and books like Dinesh D’Souza’s book ‘America’ are so important because if you are younger than forty and you’ve been taught in the public schools, you have not learned the real story of America. You have been taught a lie about America as a colonial power, as a rapacious power. As Dinesh points out, we ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America. Slavery was there, the Native Americans were enslaving each other before we got here. Eventually, we ended slavery. We have been a civilizing influence in the world.

http://blog.buzzflash.com/rss.xml Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:33 GMT  


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liberal adj.
  • Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
  • Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
  • Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
  • Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.




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