Our Political Bitterness Is Destroying Our Democracy

We’re bitter.

Politically speaking, we’re very bitter. We’re a nation of bitter politics.

The most recent, obvious example is Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic party presidential nomination. When Sanders ran, and lost, Hillary Clinton Democrats freaked the fuck out.

To them, Sanders was invalid. He shouldn’t even have been allowed to run. The argument, apparently, is that because Sanders isn’t a self-proclaimed Democrat, he should be locked out of the Democratic primary process.

That’s a very un-democratic stance to take.

The same goes for those of us who voted for Sanders. We’re fake Democrats. We’re not legit. We shouldn’t be allowed to participate in our party’s nominating process because we’re not “real Democrats.”

But to me, that argument is total shit.

If you’re a Democrat, like I am, you should never fear listening to someone’s ideas. You don’t have to like their ideas. You don’t have to like the politician delivering them. But you MUST allow that person to speak.

Because when it’s all said and done, WE get to vote for the BEST candidate based upon our opinions about the candidates.

Hillary Clinton won the nomination. For Sanders to have won would have been a total fluke. He didn’t.

But none of this prevents Clintonistas from continuing to viciously attack Sanders and his supporters.

And for the record, while I voted for Sanders in the primary, I also volunteered with the Clinton campaign. That’s what “real Democrats” do. We listen to the arguments. We vote for who we believe is the best candidate. And when it’s over, we rally around the Democrat running in the general.

So please, stop with the bitterness, make your argument and leave it at that. Your fellow Democrats are legit, regardless of who they voted for in the primary.

Donald John Trump Stands with Saudi Arabia Over Our Own CIA

I don’t care about White House press statements. I rarely read them. But this one, clearly written by Donald John Trump, today stood out to me.

Set aside the content of the message for a minute and look at the quality of the writing. It’s fucking horrid.

The lede is: The world is a very dangerous place!

What a pile of worthless claptrap and it ends with a fucking exclamation point.

Trump has an Ivy League education and writes like someone completely uninterested in the written word. And there’s no doubt he wrote this himself.

The message Trump is sending with this statement is grotesque.

Trump is saying that the brutal assassination of one of our journalists – Jamal Khashoggi – is just what happens to terrorists.

Trump wrote:

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

See, the Washington Post journalist was just another filthy terrorist who got what he deserves in this very dangerous world.

This “analysis” by Trump directly contradicts what our own CIA says happened. The CIA is certain that Saudi Arabia assassinated Khashoggi because of his work as a journalist.

But really, Trump doesn’t care about journalists getting assassinated. It won’t be long before Trump will be killing journalists here.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump standing with Saudi Arabia | The White House

Political Discourse: It’s Not the Internet’s Fault

Inevitably when the topic of the current state of political discourse comes up, it is agreed that it’s the Internet’s fault that it’s so bad right now.

Before we get into what’s to blame, let’s rewind this shit a bit.

When was political discourse in this country civil?

In May 1856, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks nearly beat to death Republican Senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor. Brooks was upset because Sumner denounced slavery the day before on the Senate floor.

This is but one example of how low our political discourse has sunk over the last 244 years.

We owned people in the country. We committed genocide against Native American people. We had Jim Crow in which thousands of black people were lynched and millions terrorized by the KKK. Our politics in this country has always been disgusting. We fool ourselves into believing that we’re righteous when we are not.

But let’s bring the conversation back to today and the Internet.

Look at what technology does in every single area that it impacts. It creates specialization and fractions the institutions that currently exist.

Take cable TV for instance.

Before cable TV there were three channels – NBC, ABC and CBS. With cable and satellite TV there are hundreds of channels. Some of them just talk about animals.

The same thing is happening with the Internet and politics. Now that we have the capacity to read more than our local newspaper or watch the national nightly news on TV, we can pick and choose the news we want to consume.

So logically people are going to gravitate towards the news organizations that tell them the things they want to know. It’s also why the nightly news used to draw 30 million viewers and now it gets 10 million.

So racists read The Daily Stormer, The Daily Caller, Brietbart and Fox News. Liberals are going to read the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Motherjones, The Nation and watch MSNBC.

Does that mean we’re all less informed now than we were 150 years ago? Absolutely not. There’s never been a time in which more information being made more readily available and accessible hasn’t resulted in a more informed populace. It’s just not how things work.

Now I know what you’re thinking. But Fox News viewers believe shit that just isn’t true. That’s true. People are being manipulated but that’s also not a new phenomena, it’s just that thanks to the Internet those ill-informed people can broadcast their ignorant ideas on Twitter and Facebook.

The fact is, people who are on the wrong side of history want us to believe that the sky is falling and we can’t trust anything. They are going to tell us that none of us knows what we’re talking about and that we’re all just sheeple gobbling up the chum that is tossed into the water.

It’s all FAKE NEWS.

However, the Internet is not the reason why our political discourse has degraded. In fact, I will argue that there’s nothing wrong with our political discourse. The reason our politics looks so disgusting is that Republicans have elected a bunch of racists, homophobes, bigots and fascists to congress and the White House.

So when these people, like Steve King or Donald Trump speak, it’s a horrific experience to listen to. That doesn’t mean our political discourse is shit. Is it horrible to listen to Kamala Harris speak? Is it horrible to listen to what Cory Booker has to say? No, because they’re not assholes like King and Trump.

What that means is that the Republican party is a dark, disgusting place. What’s going to end up being the result of the Internet’s impact on politics is that instead of the GOP and the Democratic party, there are going to be more political parties in the future.

Where we had only NBC, CBS and ABC, we now have the Food Network, Comedy Central and Animal Planet.

It’s what happens to everything that is impacted by technology.

It’s taking a bit longer for political parties to fractur because there are very powerful people who don’t want it to change and there’s no profit motive to create a new political party. In fact, there’s a strong disincentive to do so.

Eventually the Republican party is going to reap in a bad way allowing racists and bigots to capture the party. They’re going to need to form a new party.

It will happen to the Democratic party too, but it may take longer simply because the disagreements among liberals like Bernie Sanders and establishment Democrats like Hillary Clinton are much more nuanced than the differences between Steve Schmidt and Steve King.

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General Says the Trump Administration Sucks Balls


Steady yourself. What I’m about to tell you is going to blow your goddamn mind. The Donald Trump administration is woefully inadequate, incompetent and just basically total shit.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General issued a 25-page report outlining all the ways the Trump administration failed while implementing Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy against immigrants coming in via the US-Mexico border.

The child separation policy provided no way to keep track of kids and their parents. Well over 100 of the 2,500 children taken from their parents remain separated right now – tonight.

Basically the report concludes what we’ve all known – the Trump administration sucks.

You can read the here.

Papadopoulos Gets 2 Weeks, Martha Stewart Should Get an Apology

Donald Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos got a two-week sentence after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

Someone else lied to the FBI and went to prison not too long ago.

Martha Stewart, in 2004, was found guilty of lying to the FBI. She served five months at a federal prison camp. It’s true that Stewart was found guilty after going to trial. She was also found guilty on several additional felonies. Papadopoulos plead guilty to the one felony.

But it’s also a true that Stewart’s crimes were about making money. Papadopoulos broke the law as part of a criminal conspiracy to undermine democracy and install a Russian Manchurian candidate in the White House – the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Maybe the sentences are just for both Stewart and Papadopoulos. It doesn’t sit well that this guy gets only two weeks in jail. And he recanted previous statements about his admitting to working with Russian spies to help Trump steal the Oval Office.

He claims he doesn’t remember doing it.

And Robert Mueller’s prosecutors said as much to the judge. They said that Papadopoulos should get some jail time because he wasn’t forthcoming with investigators.

Stewart got 5 months. Papadopuolos two weeks.

Federal Prison Camp, Alderson in West Virginia

Federal Prison Camp, Alderson in West Virginia

But on October 8, 2004 at approximately 6:15 am, Stewart reported to the Federal Prison Camp, Alderson in West Virginia. She would not be released until March 4, 2005.

Mueller’s prosecutors said Papadopoulos’ sentence “should reflect the fact that lying to federal investigators has real consequences, especially where the defendant lied to investigators about critical facts, in an investigation of national importance, after having been explicitly warned that lying to the FBI was a federal offense.”

The lawyers for Papadopoulos argued that he wasn’t as bad as Trump.

“The president of the United States,” his lawyer Thomas Breen argued, “hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever could.”

Claiming there are worse criminals than the defendant is an odd choice. Another person’s crimes don’t lessen someone else’s crimes.

Maybe two weeks locked up is the appropriate sentence for Papadopoulos, but it seems weak for the little twerp. He worked with Russian spies to install a Russian asset in the Oval Office. That should be a mitigating factor when sentencing. The full six month maximum should have been the sentence. That would send a message to people that lying to the FBI will get you locked for half a year.

#Repeal2A Regulate Guns Like We Do Driving a Car

Gun violence in the United States is a pandemic and rooted in the 2nd amendment of the Constitution.

More than 30,000 people will be killed with a bullet in the US this year. There are 400 million guns in America.

After every tragedy, you hear whispers about gun laws. After a few days, the whispers fade and the status quo is reaffirmed.

The National Rifle Association is the most obvious target for pro gun regulation advocates, like myself, Moms Demand Action and others. The NRA is definitely a problem, but the root cause of our gun violence disease is the 2nd amendment and how the NRA has twisted it to mean something other than what is written in the Constitution.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

That’s the 2nd amendment. It’s 27 words. The purpose of this amendment to the Constitution is stated quite clearly. It’s in the first four words – “A well regulated Militia.”

In 1791, when the Bill of Rights was ratified, the US didn’t have a large standing army. If the country was attacked by a foreign invader like England, armed citizens would form or activate citizen militias to defend the country.

Citizen militias are unnecessary now. We spend about $700 billion a year on a professional military to protect the country.

The 2nd amendment says NOTHING about hunting, personal protection or that it’s meant to give the people the power to violently overthrow the government.

That last one has always annoyed me. While there may be extemporaneous comments made by Jefferson or Hamilton about the people overthrowing the government, it does not state that in the Constitution. It would have been very strange for the founders and framers of the Constitution to put in a mechanism for the people to take up arms and overthrow the government that they just created. To allow for some sort of civilian coup would be strange. It’s just not in there.

In fact, the Constitution we have now was largely in response to violent uprisings that took place under the Articles of Confederation. The view was that the federal government was too weak under the Articles. The Constitution created a much stronger federal government that would be more resistant to overthrow.

That leaves hunting and personal protection. Those activities are not detailed in the Constitution either.

But here’s where the NRA comes in.

At some point, the NRA stopped caring about gun safety, which was sort of its thing when it started. The organization realized that if they could shape the 2nd amendment in the minds of potential gun owners, they could help gunmakers sell more guns.

For gunmakers, the reality is that they’re only going to sell so many guns to hunters and gun hobbyists. But if the NRA could convince people that owning a gun was their way of defending their freedom, that’s something different. Patriots own guns. Protect yourself from the jackbooted US government thugs who want to round everyone up and put them in FEMA concentration camps to be slaughtered.

Now owning a gun is an emotional activity. It becomes part of people’s identity. It’s gun identity politics. It’s something to die protecting.

And so, when 20 babies are slaughtered in their elementary school, that’s just considered the cost of freedom. There’s nothing we can do about it because if we did, it would now be seen as violating a gun owner’s god-given right to own an assault weapon.

In 1994, in response to school shootings, Congress passed, and the president signed an assault weapons ban. That lasted for 10 years until President George W. Bush let it expire.

That was also before the 2008 Heller Supreme Court ruling. In it, the Supreme Court ruled that personal ownership of guns was protected by the 2nd amendment.

It was a landmark decision that specifically said that gun ownership did not require membership in a militia. Those on the right who squeal about activist judges interpreting the Constitution, thus creating new rights that aren’t spelled out in the original text of Constitution were silent on Heller.

This isn’t over though.

Gun rights advocates need to focus some of their effort on repealing the 2nd amendment.

Gun ownership has got to be considered a privilege, like driving a car. Until that happens, enacting meaningful gun laws is impossible.

Until the 2nd amendment is repealed, we’re just nibbling around the edges with duct tape and bubble gum.

The 2nd amendment has got to go.

The 28th amendment, or 29th if the Equal Rights Amendment gets ratified before this one, could read like this.

The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed

And like the Equal Rights Amendment, many people will say that it can never happen. But they’re wrong. It can happen if we demand it. It might take generations to ratify it, but if we will it, it is no dream.

The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1921. On May 30, 2018, Illinois ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Just one more state has to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to make it part of the Constitution that we’re all equal.

And don’t just listen to me, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens thinks the 2nd amendment should be repealed. If you agree, tweet this story, post it on Facebook. Or write your own story about why the 2nd amendment has got to go.

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.