You’re Doing Worse Economically Now Than in 1998

If you’re 40 or older, you’re doing worse economically now than you were in 1998.

Wages

The national average wage increased about $20,000 from 1998 to 2016. According to the Social Security Administration, the average wage was $28,861 in 1998 and $48,642 in 2016. That’s an increase of 68.5 percent.

That sounds like a big increase in wages, but wait a minute. Let’s look at how much stuff costs now compared to 1998.

Now keep in mind none of these prices or wages are adjusted for inflation, but the percentage calculation are all based on unadjusted values. I don’t know if this the correct way to do it, but it’s how I did it.

So a 68.5 percent wage increase seems large, but look at the cost of a new car in 1998. In 1998, a new car cost on average $17,200. Now look at a new car in 2018. In 2018, a new car costs on average $36,270. That’s an increase of more than 110 percent.

So that’s wages up 68.5 percent, while the cost of a new car increased more than 110 percent.

How about a housing costs?

In 1998, the cost of a new home was about $129,300. In 2018, the average cost of a home went up more than 180 percent to $363,300.

We’re getting crushed by gas prices too. A gallon of gas is up from 148.6 percent from 1998 to 2018.

This all means that we’re way worse off economically now than we were in 1998.

Paul Manafort Eastern District Virginia Criminal Court Case Documents

I’m following this USA v. Manafort et al criminal case in the eastern district of Virginia courthouse as best as I can via court documents and news reports.

As I acquire information and data, I’ll dump it here largely for my own reference, but so others can dig into the court documents if that’s interesting to them.

This isn’t all of the documents related to this case, just those that I’ve looked at and paid to download from online court database.

Trial proceedings Day 2

Government Evidence List 1:18-cr-00083-TSE

Government Brief 1:18-cr-00083-TSE

Gov’t motion to exclude some evidence 1:18-cr-00083-TSE

Eastern VA Case Summary 1:18-cr-00083-TSE

Eastern VA Case Docket 1:18-cr-00083-TSE

Republicans Block Funding to Protect Our Elections


Today, 47 senators voted against an amendment by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that would have provided money to states to fortify their elections.

It was an amendment to Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019 (H.R.6147). The amendment would have provided $250 million in grants to states to help them beef up their election security ahead of this year’s mid-term elections.

“It is unfortunate that the Senate has followed the same path as House Republicans,” Leahy said, “in blocking the funding our states need to help upgrade their infrastructure and secure our elections.”

Just last month, 21 state attorney generals sent congress a letter requesting more money to help upgrade their election systems. Today, Republicans said, “No.”

One Republican, Bob Corkey (TN) voted for the amendment. Republican senators John McCain (AZ), Jeff Flake (AZ) and Richard Burr (NC) did not vote on the amendment.

I wonder why Republicans don’t want to secure our elections.

If you want to tell these Republicans what you think, here are their names.

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Capito (R-WV)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Collins (R-ME)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Gardner (R-CO)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kennedy (R-LA)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Perdue (R-GA)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Shelby (R-AL)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Young (R-IN)

Seattle Progressive Icon and Business Owner Dave Meinert Accused of Rape

Dave Meinert KUOW Rape
One of Seattle’s biggest names in music, restaurants and the party scene has been accused of rape and sexual assault by five women.

Dave Meinert is kind of a big deal in Seattle. He’s like the Mark Maron of the Emerald City, but not funny. I lived in Seattle for 10 years until 2009, so I can attest that no one in Seattle actually refers to it as the Emerald City. As for these allegations, I personally know people involved in this Meinert story. I believe the victims.

The big question now, for Seattle, and people who do business with him, is whether he pays a price for this. Whether that’s criminally or at least societally and economically.

His entertainment company, Onto Entertainment, manages The Lumineers. His restaurant company, with his business partners Jason LaJeunesse and Joey Burgess, includes Grim’s, the Comet, Big Mario’s pizza and Lost Lake. Meinert also owns the 5 Point Cafe.

Check out the story on KUOW and ask yourself, “Why would these women lie about this?”

Update 2: All of the acts signed onto his Onto Entertainment company have severed ties with Meinert.

Update: The Stranger has a story about Meinert’s claim that one of the instances of rape was proven false by polygraph tests he took. Not so fast, the polygraph questions never asked if the sex was consensual, just that it happened.

Melania Trump’s Einstein Visa Is Crazy

Melania Trump
Corruption took place when Melania Trump worked her way through our immigration system. In 2001, Trump was granted an Einstein visa, which is obviously ridiculous on its face.

People who get an Einstein visa, or EB-1, are people with very specialized skills, like Olympians, highly regarding academics, scientists, Nobel prize recipients, and shit like that. At the time, Trump was a run-of-the-mill model working in New York City. She was no different than the thousands of models who were working in New York at that time.

The BBC ran a story about this back in March.

How did Melania’s application get approved

Who approved this application at the State Department? Whoever did was obviously engaged in a corrupt act because there is NO WAY Melania Trump should qualify for this special visa.

The EB-1 visa eventually resulted in her becoming a permanent citizen. After that Trump brought over members of her family to live in the United States. That’s what the Republican party, and her husband call chain migration, which they claim to hate. They hate it when brown people do it.

Corruption like what happened with her Einstein visa this isn’t supposed to happen and someone needs to get a copy of her application and interview whoever approved it.

Episode 2: Rule of Law


Hillary Clinton warns everyone in 2016. She essentially told us to not let Donald Trump be in control of the law in this country. Doing so would be a nightmare.

In this second episode of the #FFS podcast, I discuss this history and encourage everyone to please vote better next time.

Listen to the podcast

I know Clinton won by 3 million votes, but it should never have been even that close. She should have won by 12 to 15 million votes. It should have been a blowout, but millions of people didn’t vote, and a bunch of people wasted their votes on other candidates.

There was only one correct choice in 2016. If you didn’t vote for Clinton, you made the wrong choice. In this year’s election, do it right and vote Democrat up and down the ballot.

Episode 1: Dark Days


The first episode of the #FFS is out.

With the Justice Kennedy retirement, liberals are rightly freaking the fuck out.

Listen to the podcast here.

Reporters Can’t See the Big Fat Orange Forest

My most harsh criticism of modern journalism is that coverage almost always misses the larger forest by focusing so intensely on each of the trees.

It’s called turn-of-the-screw journalism. It goes like this. This happened and then this happened and he said this and she said and this happened. When you consume that news you learn about various bits of news.

I was listening to On Point today. They were discussing the Iran nuclear, the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem and possible sanctions against European allies over the Iran deal.

It was the host and a couple of journalists. One was from the conservative Weekly Standard and the other I think was from the New Yorker. So they had balance on the show, right? The supposedly “liberal” New Yorker reporter and the conservative from the Weekly Standard.

If I may digress, right there is a flawed setup. The so-called “liberal” journalist on the panel is actually just someone working as a journalist. So she was just approaching these individual stories with measured, unbiased analysis. The guy from the Weekly Standard clearly presented himself in defense of Trump and the conservative agenda.

However, my problem with the entire On Point segment was that it merely ticked off various stories of the day involving Trump. The discussion largely centered around whether Trump won domestically on the issue or not.

When the panel discussed moving the embassy to Jerusalem, they all agreed that this was Trump succeeding. Both journalists seemed to agree that Trump was able to do something that no other president has been able to do. Trump campaigned on it, and so moving the embassy was a winner for him.

It didn’t matter that dozens of people were killed and thousands wounded. Trump was following through on a campaign promise. There was no discussion as to why previous presidents chose to not move the embassy. Presumably, those presidents had reasons for not moving the embassy, it wasn’t merely that they had failed.

On the Iran deal, the panel seemed to suggest that Trump was the winner here as well because he had promised to blow up the Iran deal. I think it was the guy from the Weekly Standard who casually said that Iran’s nuclear program will continue, but it didn’t seem to matter about pulling out of the deal. While the reporter from the New Yorker acknowledged that now the likelihood of violence between Israel and Iran has increased, it’s basically all jacked up over there anyways.

The panel all agreed that Trump’s threats about sanctioning our European allies who have not bailed on the Iran deal was just Trump bluster. In the end, the panel agreed that Trump would not really sanction European allies. Why they thought that about Trump wasn’t really explained other than they thought sanctions would be totally outside of norms. Yet, they just spent the previous 10 minutes talking about how Trump doesn’t follow norms, but I digress again.

These discussions never widen the lens. It’s all very micro journalism and it plays perfectly into Trump’s hyper-transactional style. All he cares about is winning on this or that issue on that given day. And so this sort of reporting about Trump makes him appear much more successful than he perhaps actually is as president.

If we pull back the lens a bit and look at all of these stories, we can examine them through the lens of Russia and Vladimir Putin. By doing so, a different picture emerges.

For example, which of our allies wanted us to pull out of the international agreement with Iran? None of them did, but Putin did.

Who thinks imposing sanctions on our European allies after WE bailed on the Iran deal is a good idea? Putin thinks it’s a great idea.

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was just something Trump had the power to do, so he just did it. He didn’t care about the ramifications of that decision beyond his joy of hearing a liberal reporter slap him on the back on NPR.

But looking through the wide angle journalism lens, you can see that each of the policies has achieved one common goal. That goal is to isolate the United States from our allies in Europe and weaken the US internationally. Because to Putin, that US/Europe alliance is far more powerful than Russia could ever imagine. But a fractured Europe and an isolated US? That’s a world where Russia can compete.

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Think Angels are Real


Sometimes, when one looks at politics in America, it’s easy to think, “What the hell? Why are Americans so stupid?”

Why are Americans stupid? I actually don’t know. I have some theories, but there’s no doubt about it that Americans are stupid.

More than one poll has shown that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe that angels are real.

In 2011, an Associated Press poll found that 77 percent of Americans think angels exist. This poll corroborates a 2006 poll that pegged American belief in angels at 81 percent.

A vast majority of Americans believe that there are creatures who look like humans, but with wings.

That’s weird.