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Bob McCulloch Should Be Disbarred

So Darrin Wilson’s attorney, I mean ‘prosecutor’ Bob McCulloch admits that he put people in front of the grand jury who he knew were lying. Here’s an interview he did with a local talk show host:

 

17:00 is the point where McCulloch tells us that witness #40 was a lying sack of crap. He knew he couldn’t have done this at trial. The lying jurors (like #40, who wasn’t even there) would have been ripped to shreds on cross examined during the course of a trial, and therefore never would have been called to testify. Wilson’s preposterous testimony would actually have received some cross examination at trial. He threw as much garbage at the grand jury as he could find because he knew that the lack of scrutiny would confuse and misdirect the grand jury.

At some point, the host asks him if the grand jury took the testimony of witness #40 seriously. He responds by making a claim that he can’t possibly make. He said that they definitely didn’t take her testimony seriously. He can’t know what they thought of any piece of evidence put before them because no one is allowed to be in the grand jury room when they’re deliberating.

This proceeding was a joke, and McCulloch should be disbarred.

Anyone who genuinely believes that Wilson didn’t do anything wrong should agree with me because he’s never going to be seen as an innocent person, given the level of shadiness with which this proceeding was conducted. McCulloch just told the world that this grand jury proceeding was a joke. If Wilson did nothing wrong, he should be able to go through the same justice system that everyone else goes through with the confidence of an innocent man. Innocent people should be confident that cross examination is their friend. It doesn’t matter which side of this you fall on, if your opinion is earnestly held, we should all agree that what Bob McCulloch did here neither proved nor disproved a damned thing. 

He’s never going to be an innocent man until he does.

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Republicans: A Party Of The People

It’s shutdown time again kiddies! But fear not, because we’re close to accepting a republican proposal to avoid all of that ugliness. I wanted to share some of the awesomeness that republicans are insisting on extorting in exchange for keeping the fucking country running for a few more months (cause they’re doing us a favor here).

We’re going to basically eliminate a provision of Dodd-Frank that requires banks separate their trades of financial derivatives from their consumer services. This means that republicans want to go back to federally insuring fucking JP Morgan Chase from any big losses they suffer on their roulette wheel of derivatives gambling.

YAY more bailouts!

They want to raise caps on campaign donations from $32,400 to $324,000 because the people have spoken and we obviously all want to see more lobbyist money piped into our elections. Here’s how the New York Times describes the impact:

Donors could write checks to the new accounts three times as large as the contributions normally allowed to party committees. Initial calculations suggested that the bill would expand the amount that any one person could donate to party committees to more than $777,000 each year from what is now a maximum of $97,200.

WHEW! Thank god that heavy burden of campaign contribution caps has been lifted from the average American’s shoulders. Here’s the great part of that provision; no one wants to take credit for inserting it into the budget bill. But all you need to do, is look at public statements regarding campaign finance to know that is was definitely a republican.

YAY oligarchy! 

Another provision says that no local or federal funds can be used to “to enact any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use or distribution”. So fuck your vote, marijuana is going to remain illegal regardless of what the people have voted for.

YAY states rights!

The republicans insist on more spending ($1.46 billion) on planes that the DOD doesn’t want (15 EA-18G).

YAY fiscal responsibility!

I’m going to need some help here: who does this sound good to?

Here’s your chance to offer up an opinion without being asked for a shred of evidence to back it up. Take advantage of it republicans and help us all out.

Who wants to give Boeing more of your money in the form of corporate welfare for planes that don’t work, and that DOD doesn’t want?

Who thinks that raising campaign contributions is going to help you?

Who here is interested in paying for another bailout?

What part of this is beneficial to you personally?

And lastly, what does your party stand for? Can you tell me? I need to know what you’re voting for because frankly, I’m at a loss here and I need some help.

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A Shining, Torturing City Upon A Hill

I read through the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture yesterday. I’m sure you all read plenty of stories telling you that it was all much more appalling than we had previously thought. I decided that I’m going to do this a little differently than how everyone else covered it. I was shocked appalled, and fascinated while reading it so I’m going to give you actual snippets from the report so that you can experience for yourselves, what I experienced when reading it. My comments are going to be relatively short.

The summary broke down their conclusions into different areas which they numbered. I will go through each section in the order the report presents it.

#1: The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

For example, according to CIA records, seven of the 39 CIA detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques produced no intelligence while in CIA custody.* CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were usually subjected to the techniques immediately after being rendered to CIA custody. Other detainees provided significant accurate intelligence prior to, or without having been subjected to these techniques.

While being subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence. Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.

That pretty much speaks for itself.

#2: The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

The Committee reviewed 20 of the most frequent and prominent examples of purported counterterrorism successes that the CIA has attributed to the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques, and found them to be wrong in fundamental respects. In some cases, there was no relationship between the cited counterterrorism success and any information provided by detainees during or after the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. In the remaining cases, the CIA inaccurately claimed that specific, otherwise unavailable information was acquired from a CIA detainee "as a result" of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, when in fact the information was either: (1) corroborative of information already available to the CIA or other elements of the U.S. Intelligence Community from sources other than the CIA detainee, and was therefore not "otherwise unavailable"; or (2) acquired from the CIA detainee prior to the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. The examples provided by the CIA included numerous factual inaccuracies.

That also speaks for itself. The CIA knew this wasn’t working, and took the proactive step of creating the illusion of efficacy.

#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

Beginning with the CIA’s first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the CIA applied its enhanced interrogation techniques with significant repetition for days or weeks at a time. Interrogation techniques such as slaps and "wallings" (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity. Records do not support CIA representations that the CIA initially used an "an open, non- threatening approach,"^ or that interrogations began with the "least coercive technique possible"^ and escalated to more coercive techniques only as necessary.

The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah, for example, became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth." Internal CIA records describe the water boarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a "series of near drownings." 

Contrary to CIA representations to the Department of Justice, the CIA instructed personnel that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah would take "precedence" over his medical care,^ resulting in the deterioration of a bullet wound Abu Zubaydah incurred during his capture. In at least two other cases, the CIA used its enhanced interrogation techniques despite warnings from CIA medical personnel that the techniques could exacerbate physical injuries. CIA medical personnel treated at least one detainee for swelling in order to allow the continued use of standing sleep deprivation.

At least five CIA detainees were subjected to "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity.

 Here’s where I have a lot to interject in the form of additional information and some background on Abu Zubaydah. Ali Soufan was an FBI interrogator who had Zubaydah before the CIA took him. Zubaydah wasn’t like all of the other "#2 guys" that the Bush administration bragged about having captured. He actually knew some shit, and he was actually a high level operative in Al Qaeda. Ali Soufan used traditional interrogation techniques that have been proven to work since WWII. He treated detainees like humans with respect and dignity. He earned their trust by taking them out for pizza, and bringing one diabetic detainee some sugar-free cookies. We did this with the Nazis and got actionable intelligence by treating them to steak dinners.

Soufan interrogated Zubaydah from March – June 2002 (the torture began in August). While Soufan was interrogating Zubaydah, he got the single most important piece of information about 9/11: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind. It was because of that interrogation that we started looking for KSM. I’ve read copious amounts of information about 9/11 from a myriad of different sources including George Tenet, Dick Cheney, Ali Soufan, and Terry McDermott and Josh Meyers’ reporting. Yeah, I read Dick Cheney’s painful autobiography so that you didn’t have to. Here’s what most people don’t know about 9/11: Bin Laden had almost nothing to do with it beyond financing and some recruitment. KSM wasn’t even a member of Al Qaeda. They were not working closely together. KSM planned and executed every aspect of 9/11. We didn’t have his name until over 6 months after the attack, when Ali Soufan got it out of Abu Zubaydah by treating him like a human being. Once the torture began, Zubaydah never offered up another piece of information that was worth a damned. Who knows what else we could have learned from him, had the Bush administration not had their heads shoved so far up their asses.

Back to the report.

One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you."^ CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families— to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to "cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat."^

Threatening women and children. That’s what the US became on Bush’s watch. Is it me, or is it impossible to tell the difference between "the good guys" and "the bad guys" here? That’s the part of the report that disgusted me the most. 

 

#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

From 2002 to 2007, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) within the Department of Justice relied on CIA representations regarding: (1) the conditions of confinement for detainees, (2) the application of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, (3) the physical effects of the techniques on detainees, and(4)the effectiveness of the techniques. Those representations were inaccurate in material respects.

The Department of Justice did not conduct independent analysis or verification of the information it received from the CIA. The department warned, however, that if the facts provided by the CIA were to change, its legal conclusions might not apply. When the CIA determined that information it had provided to the Department of Justice was incorrect, the CIA rarely informed the department.

That bolded and italicized is the part that jumped out at me. The whole report was written in a way that lays all the blame in the lap of the CIA as if they were a rogue operation secretly behaving badly, and that no one had a clue what was happening. I say that’s complete bullshit. Every arm of the Bush administration from DOJ to the OLC (office of legal council) took the CIA at their word on everything. There was comically little oversight, and that could only have been by design.

Back to #5.

The OLC determined that "under the current circumstances, necessity or self- defense may justify interrogation methods that might violate" the criminal prohibition against torture.

On the same day, a second OLC opinion approved, for the first time, the use of 10 specific coercive interrogation techniques against Abu Zubaydah—subsequently referred to as the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation techniques." The OLC relied on inaccurate CIA representations about Abu Zubaydah’s status in al-Qa’ida and the interrogation team’s "certain[ty]" that Abu Zubaydah was withholding information about planned terrorist attacks. The CIA’s representations to the OLC about the techniques were also inconsistent with how the techniques would later be applied.

In March 2005, the CIA submitted to the Department of Justice various examples of the "effectiveness" of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques that were inaccurate. OLC memoranda signed on May 30, 2005, and July 20, 2007, relied on these representations, determining that the techniques were legal in part because they produced "specific, actionable intelHgence" and "substantial quantities of otherwise unavailable intelligence" that saved lives.

Again, the lack of any interest in looking at what the CIA was doing was comical and unbelievable (as in, not to be believed).

#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

The CIA did not brief the leadership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques until September 2002, after the techniques had been approved and used. The CIA did not respond to Chairman Bob Graham’s requests for additional information in 2002, noting in its own internal communications that he would be leaving the Committee in January 2003. The CIA subsequently resisted efforts by Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, to investigate the program, including by refusing in 2006 to provide requested documents to the full Committee.

The CIA restricted access to information about the program from members of the Committee beyond the chairman and vice chairman until September 6, 2006, the day the president publicly acknowledged the program, by which time 117 of the 119 known detainees had already entered CIA custody. Until then, the CIA had declined to answer questions from other Committee members that related to CIA interrogation activities.

Prior to September 6, 2006, the CIA provided inaccurate information to the leadership of the Committee.

After multiple senators had been critical of the program and written letters expressing concerns to CIA Director Michael Hayden, Director Hayden nonetheless told a meeting of foreign ambassadors to the United States that every Committee member was "fully briefed," and that "[t]his is not CIA’s program. This is not the President’s program. This is America’s program."^^ The CIA also provided inaccurate information describing the views of U.S. senators about the program to the Department of Justice.

A year after being briefed on the program, the House and Senate Conference Committee considering the Fiscal Year 2008 Intelligence Authorization bill voted to limit the CIA to using only interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual. That legislation was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in February 2008, and was vetoed by President Bush on March 8, 2008.

And there it is. Even when all of that plausible deniability the Bush Administration so carefully crafted evaporated, they insisted the program continue, despite the fact that they knew it didn’t work. And still, this report basically leaves the administration out of all of the CIA’s ostensibly totally fucking independent malfeasance. Riiiight.

And the whole next section of the report is dedicated to doing just that.

#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

The CIA provided extensive amounts of inaccurate and incomplete information related to the operation and effectiveness of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to the White House, the National Security Council principals, and their staffs. This prevented an accurate and complete understanding of the program by Executive Branch officials, thereby impeding oversight and decision-making.

According to CIA records, no CIA officer, up to and including CIA Directors George Tenet and Porter Goss, briefed the president on the specific CIA enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006. By that time, 38 of the 39 detainees identified as having been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques had already been subjected to the techniques. The CIA did not inform the president or vice president of the location of CIA detention facilities other than Country

Oh, so the Bush administration were just hapless rubes?

But here’s the next paragraph:

At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on program specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that "… the WH [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on." Deputy Secretary of State Armitage complained that he and Secretary Powell were "cut out" of the National Security Council coordination process.

Yeah, not so much with the hapless rube routine.

#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism, shape public opinion, and avoid potential congressional action to restrict the CIA’s detention and inteiTogationauthorities and budget. These disclosures occurred when the program was a classified covert action program, and before the CIA had briefed the full Committee membership on the program.

The deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center wrote to a colleague in 2005, shortly before being interviewed by a media outlet, that "we either get out and sell, or we get hammered, which has implications beyond the media. [C]ongress reads it, cuts our authorities, messes up our budget… we either put out our story or we get eaten. [T]here is no middle ground."^ The same CIA officer explained to a colleague that "when the [Washington Post]/[New York Times quotes ‘senior intelligence official,’ it’s us… authorized and directed by opa [CIA’s Office of Public Affairs].

Remember, congress did exactly that in 2008, and Bush vetoed their decision. I find it hard to believe that these leaks were entirely the doing of members of the CIA. I could be wrong, but that really doesn’t sound right to me.

#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

On September 17, 2001, the President signed a covert action Memorandum of Notification (MON) granting the CIA unprecedented counterterrorism authorities, including the authority to covertly capture and detain individuals "posing a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests or planning terrorist activities." The MON made no reference to interrogations or coercive interrogation techniques.

That would be republican style small government.

#12: The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

On November, 2002,a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor died from suspected hypothermia at the facility.

At the time, no single unit at CIA Headquarters had clear responsibility for CIA detention and interrogation operations. In interviews conducted in 2003 with the Office of Inspector General, CIA’s leadership and senior attorneys acknowledged that they had little or no awareness of operations at COBALT, and some believed that enhanced interrogation techniques were not used there.

So now there’s a corpse for which no one appears to be responsible, and no one is asking questions? Curious.

Back to section 12.

Numerous CIA officers had serious documented personal and professional problems—including histories of violence and records of abusive treatment of others—that should have called into question their suitability to participate in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, their employment with the CIA, and their continued access to classified information. In nearly all cases, these problems were known to the CIA prior to the assignment of these officers to detention and interrogation positions.

This is actually the culture that the Bush administration created within the CIA when Bush appointed Porter Goss to be their Director. At the time, Goss himself said, "I’m not qualified for the CIA." I take that back- this was the culture the Bush administration created throughout the federal government. Remember the horsey lawyer who was put in charge of federal emergency management? You know, the one who was doing a "heckuva job"? This incompetence way systemic and started at the very top (Dick Cheney). 

#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.

 

The CIA contracted with two psychologists to develop, operate, and assess its interrogation operations. The psychologists’ prior experience was at the U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school. Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.

On the CIA’s behalf, the contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on "learned helplessness,"^^ and developed the list of enhanced inteiTogation techniques that was approved for use against Abu Zubaydah and subsequent CIA detainees. The psychologists personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA’s most significant detainees using these techniques. They also evaluated whether detainees’ psychological state allowed for the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including some detainees whom they were themselves interrogating or had interrogated. The psychologists carried out inherently governmental functions, such as acting as liaison between the CIA and foreign intelligence services, assessing the effectiveness of the interrogation program, and participating in the interrogation of detainees in held in foreign government custody.

In 2005, the psychologists formed a company specifically for the purpose of conducting their work with the CIA. Shortly thereafter, the CIA outsourced virtually all aspects of the program.

In 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009. In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.

What can I possibly add to that except that, the incompetence that allowed 9/11 to happen in the first place didn’t end on 9/11.

The Bush administration suffered from ideologically driven tunnel vision before, during, and after 9/11. We know that Richard Clarke repeatedly and emphatically warned the administration about Bin Laden and Al Qaeda from the moment that Bush was sworn in. Remember, Clarke worked under Reagan, Poppy Bush, and Clinton. He was there when republicans were screaming "no war for Monica’ in 1998 when Clinton tried to kill Bin Laden. He was there when the first terrorist attack happened at the World Trade Center. This is somebody who should have been taken very seriously. He says that they were so obsessed with Saddam, that they dismissed what he had to say entirely. In addition to Clarke’s warnings, the CIA had sent five PDBs (presidential daily briefs) warning that Bin Laden was planning another attack. That famous August 6th 2001 brief wasn’t the first one warning about Bin Laden. It was the last in a series of five that started in the spring of 2001.

The Bush administration suffered from incompetence and arrogance all the way through the last day of that miserable 8 years the world had to endure.

Don’t anyone tell you that this report says that this was entirely a CIA problem. They accidentally included some information that tells me exactly the opposite. The plausible deniability that was baked into this program to shield the administration for any culpability created a monster that any rational person could have seen coming. Those assholes turned Reagan’s "shining city upon a hill" into a terrorist nation that threatens women and children.

And if you’re one of those assholes who claims that Obama has shredded the constitution, you can go fuck yourself. You don’t care about your country at all. You’re an idiot rooting for a sports team and no one should take you seriously.            

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Death By Cop Is An Epidemic In America

I’ve been getting some push back lately in regard to my copious police brutality posts. To be clear, there wouldn’t be copious posts if there weren’t copious instances of brutality, but that’s too obvious a point. I get a lot of "not all cops are bad" comments with really no data or effort made to show me anything at all. So I thought I would put together some numbers to help us take a really close look on what’s going on here. After all, maybe we don’t actually have a rash of homicidal cops. Maybe social media is blowing the situation out of proportion.

Let’s examine. A good place to start would be to look at violent crime. Do we have more violent criminals necessitating more instances of lethal self defense from cops? Not so much. Violent crime has actually been going down for over two decades now.

Murder/manslaughter – down

Forcible rape – down

Robbery – down

Aggravated assault – down

Property crime – down

So crime is down, down, down straight across the board. Well that’s weird. Maybe more cops are getting killed despite the fact crime is down, and that’s why they seem to be shooting their guns so frequently? Negative. 2013 brought us the lowest number of cops killed (as a result of a felonious act) in fifty years. That data goes up to 2012. The number of cops killed during a felonious act in 2013 was twenty seven. Twenty seven? All year? All across the country? That doesn’t really seem like enough to create the twitchy cop syndrome we seem to be witnessing lately, does it? Even cops reporting their own numbers on cops being shot in the line of duty is way down from previous years. Here’s a visual to help you understand the crime to cop homicide trend;

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 12.30.42 PM

 

Wanna know what else is down? Gun ownership. These cops are not facing the meanest streets ever.

Hey cop apologists, feel free to esplain this away.  Go ahead, I’m listening.

Maybe it just seems like cops are shooting a lot of people because these stories spread like wildfire thanks to social media It’s possible that it feels more frequent than it actually is, right? Here’s where this all gets tricky. We don’t really know how many people cops kill every year because no one is really counting. I posted a meme yesterday that cites 409 deaths by cop in 2014.

1939814_10153587804821393_3154399975340556791_n

 

This number comes from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report. I have news for the commenters who didn’t like it; it’s way below the actual number. The reporting has some major issues like ambiguity on how "justifiable" and "unjustifiable" are determined, and the fact that it’s based on self reporting from the states. Only 750 out of over 17,000 law enforcement agencies report their numbers. Think about that for a minute. 400 homicides by cop from just .44% of agencies reporting. If you think that the lack of accurate data on this is an accident, I have a decaying bridge in America to sell you. This information is nearly impossible to collect by design.

There are a few different efforts being made out there to gather the information by crowd sourcing it. How pathetic is that? Seriously, we have to resort to reporting each one of these when we hear about them and entering the website set up to do what our law enforcement officials won’t? What does that tell you about the FBI’s official number? Some of these crowd sourcing efforts have come up with more than 1,000 per year.

To recap, 27 dead cops and at least (remember, that’s just what Googling turned up) 1,000 civilians killed by cops. If you don’t think there’s a problem here, it’s because you don’t want to see it.

Here’s a really fucking disturbing article I found. You know how some people like to deflect whatever is being said about murder by saying, "gang violence" or "black on black crime"?  I actually had a douchebag purporting to be a cop show up on my Facebook page saying that. The Salt Lake City Tribune looked at the cause of homicides in Utah. The #1 highest instances of homicide in Utah is from intimate partners killing each other. Wanna wager a guess on what the #2 highest instance of homicide is? Gangs? Nope. It would be death by cop.

What do you have to say to that, cop apologists? Do you want to tell me how I’m being hyperbolic and one sided again?

In the tradition of Law And Order, I will now move from the criminal act to the court proceedings. And in order to do that, I must offer up more sketchy information that isn’t collected through any official procedural means. A researcher named David Packman (not the one from the podcast) compiled a database of police brutality reports. I know what the cop apologists are going to say, "a complaint doesn’t necessarily mean it happened." That’s true. It’s also true that police brutality is often not reported. Take the case of Daniel Holtzclaw for example. This motherfucker is on trial for sexually assaulting thirteen women (that we know of). This predator was smart because he preyed on most powerless group of women in the country; black women with criminal records. He was sailing along, raping women with impunity until one day in June when he fucked up and assaulted a woman who didn’t feel powerless. Up until he fucked with the wrong woman, there were no reports. By the way, officer motherfucker is on paid leave, sitting at his parents with a monitoring device around his ankle, waiting for his trial to begin. Doesn’t that sound lovely? I hope he’s got a big 4k tv to watch the rape porn collection I’m positive he owns on. His family and friends are out there calling the victims drug addicts and scumbags. Classy. I digress. Packman found 4,861 unique reports of misconduct involving 6,613 officers (354 of which were chiefs or sheriffs) in 2010. Those brutality allegations resulted in 247 fatalities. The total cost to taxpayers for settling these law suits is an estimated $346,512,800 for just one year.

Now let’s look at convictions. From April 2009 through to the end of 2010, Packman tallied 8,300 allegations of misconduct involving 11,000 cops. Of those, a mere 33% resulted in conviction and a paltry 12% resulted in incarceration. Let me put that into perspective for you by comparing it to conviction and incarceration rates for everyone else;

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 8.42.16 AM

Huh. That seems like a pretty big disparity but then again, so does paid leave and an ankle monitor for thirty five counts of sexual assault.

Please tell me again that these victims of killer cops shouldn’t have committed crimes in the first place. Go ahead. Here’s what else you should feel free to to ahead and do;

  • Dismiss my data because you don’t like it, without even bothering to provide your own data.
  • Ask rhetorical and leading questions that you can’t be fucked to answer, in order to make a point that you can’t make. Not only is that a lame tactic, but it makes me do the research for you, which is why I wrote this post (you’re welcome).
  • Give me anecdotes that can’t be proved, and only relay what one person thinks they saw during a single point in time. Cause that’s way more valuable than someone else’s painstakingly compiled data.

We have a problem here, and it needs to be addressed. Is every cop a bad cop? Not even remotely, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a giant problem on our hands. For every killer cop story I post, there are exponentially more cops on that guy’s force covering for him. A blind, deaf, and mute cop isn’t a good cop just because he’s not doing the beating, raping, or killing.

They’re not all bad, but there are way more bad cops out there than what we’re aware of.                              

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First World Jihadists

Remember when the whole Bill Maher /Sam Harris thing exploded a few weeks ago? You know, when Harris and Maher called Islam "the mother of bad ideas". Their point was that Islam is an inherently more violent religion than any of the others. Fortunately, we had Ben Affleck present to be the voice of reason. My contribution to that whole kerfuffle was one that I’ve been making for years; you can’t compare third world Muslims to first world Christians and think that you’re making an intellectually honest assessment. I brought up The Crusades and The Spanish Inquisition because comparing Christians then to middle eastern Muslims today is a more reasonable and fair comparison. Those points in time were when each religion was losing the modernity and enlightenment race so that’s more of an apples to apples comparison.  When Christians were the primitive religion, they were savages to the tune of slaughtering millions. Now that the Christian dominated western world is winning the modernity race, it’s Muslims who are behaving the way Christians did when they were in the same evolutionary (societally speaking) position.

Slapping the ‘violent’ label on Muslims when we’re the ones who have been going to the middle east and meddling in their business for decades is a little absurd. We set Iran back a hundred years when we tried to install our guy as their prime minister. Iran was well on their way to secularism when we foisted the Shah on them so that we could get their oil. For some reason that no one could have seen coming, they weren’t super excited about the western world picking their leaders for them. Enter the Ayatollahs. We did that. Baghdad used to be a very cosmopolitan city until we decided they needed some American style democracy. Or were we stopping a mushroom cloud? I always get confused. Anyway, we turned it into the primitive hellhole it is today. Lebanon was also a beautiful city. It’s too bad we keep letting Israel bomb the shit out of it every ten years. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. We’re responsible for a lot of killing in the middle east, and we didn’t even do it because we have convictions. We did it for oil. How is greed better than religious fundamentalism? I actually have more respect for the whackadoodles than I do for the oligarchs.  

We’re the ones who keep going over there to take their stuff. They never fucked with us before we started doing that. When you’re fighting a much better armed opponent, you have to resort to primitive tactics like IEDs and beheading videos because you don’t have tanks, drones, and missiles to work with with.

So a fair comparison isn’t being made by Maher and Harris. I’ve always said that the best way to deal with Afghanistan is to carpet bomb the country with iPhones. I’m not kidding. Modernity always eradicates (not entirely, but mostly) religious extremism. Think about it, if you already have an iPhone you really don’t have as much to pray for as someone without electricity. My Afghanistan solution would have been much simpler, cheaper, and more effective than what we’ve been doing. It’s really a two point plan. We have our pharmaceutical companies sign contracts with the warlords to buy all of the heroin. That gives the warlords income stability and therefore less to kill over. We have an oxy habit to maintain so why not create a win/win situation? Then, we carpet bomb the country with mobile technology. We could strike a deal with Apple, Google, and Samsung to buy a billion dollars worth of tech in exchange for their moving more jobs back to the US. Another win/win. Only after those two steps have been taken, do we go in and build a few key infrastructure components by hiring as much Afghani labor as we can. We don’t build cities or schools because they should do that. No, we give them what even we don’t have; universal broadband coverage. More big contracts for US companies. And in exchange for the billion dollar Afghanistan contract, Comcast would have to agree to capping their market share in the US to 10% of all households. This would clear the path to get some more players in the telecom game. And then we leave with the confidence that the iPhone will defeat the jihadists because we know that it will.

How do we know? Because I’m finally getting to the point of this piece. I came across this article in The Telegraph yesterday. It was funny and it proved me right on what I’ve been saying all along so naturally, I had to share. The article was about French jihadists who went to join the fight in Syria. We’ve seen small numbers of vulnerable whackadoodles from the US, UK, France, and a few other countries go and join the fight because they were radicalized enough to think this was a good idea. Why just a few? IPhones (stick with me, I’m getting there). This article was about letters some of those wannabe jihadists wrote to their families at home. They’re high-larious! It appears that jihad isn’t turning out to be all they hoped it would be. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the letters;

I’ve basically done nothing except hand out clothes and food. I also help clean weapons and transport dead bodies from the front. Winter’s arrived here. It’s begun to get really hard.

I’m fed up. They make me do the washing up.

I guess they didn’t realize that even terrorists need clean underwear, and that the underwear won’t clean itself.  

They want to send me to the front, but I don’t know how to fight.

And last but not least, my favorite;

I’m fed up. My iPod doesn’t work any more here. I have to come back. 

And there it is. The embodiment of an argument I’ve been making for years from a batshit crazy used-to-wannabe jihadist. 

And then there were other issues they hadn’t thought out, like the fact that their children born in Syria would not be French citizens. Oh no! No universal health coverage and baguettes?

You should read the article, there’s more there that I’m not going to get into. Proving myself right is all that needs discussing on this blog! But in all seriousness, Maher and Harris were completely wrong because their tunnel vision inhibited their critical thinking in this instance. You can’t just look at the factors that support your conclusion without looking for outliers. There are always outliers. A good conclusion consists of looking at all of the outliers and determining if the preponderance of the evidence points in one direction. Take climate science for example. There was an outlier having to do with tree rings or something (I forget, but you can look it up). Why was it an outlier? Because there are a thousand pieces of evidence that point in a different direction. That doesn’t mean that you deny that the tree ring evidence exists. It means that you keep looking for evidence and weigh what you gather proportionally. It should be weighted at 1000 to 1 until you get something to change that to a 1000 to 2 or 1001 to 1 ratio.

But you don’t disregard that which is inconvenient for your opinion. And you can’t ever assume that there is no evidence contradicting your point because there most certainly is. Whether it’s studying science or a crime scene, something is always going to point in another direction. Life is never neat or tidy the way we keep insisting on framing it. Critical thinking involves proactively looking for the contradictions.

The evidence that Maher and Harris either haven’t looked at, or ignored is at least (much more, in my opinion) as compelling as the evidence they cite. And now I have a very unhappy Frenchman in Syria with a dead iPod to prove it.

 

 

 

          

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Rosa’s Fight Still Isn’t Over

Today is the 59th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus. A lot of people don’t know this, but she didn’t spontaneously do this. She actually served as secretary for the local branch of the NAACP. She was part of an organized group, and the event was planned. On the first day of her trial on December 5, 1955, the black community began their boycott of the buses, which they kept up for 381 days.

For over year, 40,000 people walked to work, carpooled, and did whatever they had to do to earn a living without taking a bus. They comprised 75% of all the bus riders in Montgomery.

On June 5, 1956, a Montgomery federal court ruled that any law requiring racially segregated seating on buses were in violation the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Montgomery, what with being Montgomery and all, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which upheld the lower court’s decision on December 20, 1956. The buses were integrated on December 21, 1956.


If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is. It’s too bad that this day has a Darren Wilson shaped cloud hanging over it. 

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Exculpated

That appears to be what was done to the grand jury on the Darren Wilson matter. I use the word matter deliberately, and you will see why later. Based on what the ‘prosecutor’ (I use that term very loosely in this instance) said in his tedious and meandering press conference last night, the grand jury in this case were presented with a mountain of exculpatory evidence. If you’re not familiar with the term, exculpatory evidence is evidence that points to the innocence of a defendant on trial. When a defendant is on trial, the prosecutor has an obligation to turn over all exculpatory evidence that they uncover, to the defense attorney. They are literally bound by the law to turn over any evidence they come across that may prove that a defendant is innocent.

There is no such obligation when presenting a case to a grand jury. In fact, the grand jury process is actually designed to block the presentation of any exculpatory evidence. As I said in an earlier post (read it, I explain a lot about the grand jury process in it), I served on a grand jury for a month. I never heard any exculpatory evidence from a prosecutor. A grand jury is not a trial. I’ve seen a lot of comments from a lot of people who have strong opinions on what happened last night. Unfortunately, most of those opinions came from people whose desire to put forth an opinion didn’t appear to be commensurate with a desire to learn anything they should probably learn in order to form said opinion. They all seem to have confused this process with a trial. These are what I refer to as the simpletons. I like to look at facts and then form an opinion. Simpletons like to do it the other way around. They’re usually so determined to do it the other way around, that they will reject any facts that interfere with that rectally generated opinion. Sorry, I digress. I’m extra bitchy this morning, what with the mega dose of stupid I had to endure last night.

The purpose of a grand jury is not to determine if the accused is guilty. The sole purpose of a grand jury is to determine if there’s enough evidence to determine if the accused guilty. There was clearly enough evidence against Darren Wilson to indict and let a jury decide if he was guilty of anything. If the only piece of evidence presented to the jury was that the altercation began in close contact, and ended with a distance of thirty-five feet when the fatal bullet was shot, they had enough evidence. You don’t need to know anything else to know that a jury should see all of the evidence to decide his guilt or lack of guilt. Thirty-five feet is clearly not a case of self defense, and no rational person would make that assertion.

Contrary to what the simpletons think, we were not at the determining innocence or guilt stage of this process yet. I have always asserted that we need to get to that point in the judicial process in this, and all cases when a police officer shoots an unarmed person. We never get to that stage of the process. Cops who shoot unarmed people almost never (I can’t think of one in the past five years) have to face a jury, and that’s very bad for all of us. Every time a simpleton advocates for truncating the justice system for a cop who shoots someone, they encourage more cops to overreact by shooting early and often.

I cannot believe this needs to be explained.

It really does take a special breed of stupid not to realize that. But it’s also much worse than that because these morons are advocating for throwing out our entire justice system by empowering cops to administer the death penalty whenever they deem fit. None of the stupid people who made their stupid judgments last night were able to explain which of Mike Brown’s alleged actions would earn him the death penalty in court. I guess that’s just another inconvenient question that impedes the stupid, baseless opinion process they hold more dear than their own safety and security.

Stupid.

I cannot use that word enough.

Here’s how deep the stupid runs; I was accused of making a snap judgment over and over again last night. Me? Judgment? For insisting on a trial to determine if Wilson was guilty or not? I’m accused of making a snap judgment by people who, without a trial, decided that he did nothing wrong. That’s rich.

And stupid.

That’s all. I’m done.

Stupid.                

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My Fantasies About Darren Wilson

I’m hearing a rumor that Darren Wilson’s indictment decision is going to be announced on Monday, and that he’s not going to be indicted. I must say that this news makes my usually cerebral approach to situations go out the window. I have a very strong visceral reaction to this possible outcome, and it’s not good. I keep having visions of him being gunned down in the street like a rabid dog who needs putting down. I cannot accept that this man isn’t going to ever appear before a jury. I’m sorry, but I just can’t.

As I laid out in a previous post, there was ample evidence presented for an indictment by the Ferguson police spokesman, in his very first press conference. No other piece of evidence need be presented to a grand jury in order to get an indictment.

At this point I have to let you know that I’ve served on a grand jury so I’m going to share some observations I made over the course of the month that I served (it was two days a week for three hours per day). The district attorney has complete control over what is presented to a grand jury. Defendants can appear if they choose to do so and they can bring an attorney, but their attorney can’t say anything. If the defendant chooses to appear, the district attorney can ask them questions. I learned that, as a defendant, presenting your case before a grand jury is a giant mistake. Defendants aren’t allowed to present evidence, so all they can really do is to deny what the district attorney has just told the grand jury. Defendants really come off looking like they’re lying, whether they are or not. Over the course of the month that I served, we heard approximately 15 – 20 cases. Of those, only two defendants came to testify. Any decent attorney won’t let their client to that, and it’s abundantly clear why letting them do it is a bad idea.

Since the deck is so thoroughly stacked in favor of the prosecutor, they almost always get an indictment. I think that my grand jury indicted all but two or three cases that we heard. And frankly, the people sitting on the grand jury are predisposed to indicting. I wasn’t, but more people in that room were inclined to indict than weren’t. I mean, a prosecutor wouldn’t be presenting a case against someone that did nothing wrong, right?

My point in sharing all of that with you is to let you know that I earnestly don’t know how it’s possible for a district attorney to fail to get an indictment. I live in New York City. We have over 500 district attorneys so I saw between 13 – 18 different district attorneys present cases. It became clear which ones were good and which ones weren’t because we had so many to compare. It almost didn’t matter if the DA was good. As I said, we indicted on all but two or three cases.

I cannot conceive of a DA failing to get an indictment against Darren Wilson on just the basis of the fact that the he and Mike Brown started the altercation with physical contact and that, by the time the last bullet was fired, there was thirty-five feet between them. This is not a fact that is in dispute, since the Ferguson PD spokesman gave us that information in his very first press conference. As I said in my earlier post, that distance opening up between the shooter and Mike Brown negates the validity of any claim of self defense. The greater the distance between them became, the lower the plausibility of self defense became. Remember, an indictment isn’t a guilty verdict, it’s merely a judgment that there is sufficient evidence against the defendant to go to court. An indictment is actually very far from a guilty verdict given the disparity of opportunity to present a case, between the defendant and the district attorney.   

If Darren Wilson isn’t indicted, it will most definitely be because the DA didn’t want to indict him. I cannot accept that we live in a country where police officers routinely kill unarmed citizens and never face a jury for doing it. I simply can’t accept this. I can accept a bad verdict, but I cannot accept a system where a verdict is never allowed to be handed down. No rational person with a modicum of intelligence will see this as a good outcome.

There has literally been no case made by Darren Wilson, wherein he demonstrates his innocence. That motherfucker ran and hid like a feckless thug. In a million years, I don’t go into hiding if I’m being accused of something I didn’t do. I face the public and make my case, with the conviction of an innocent person. When it comes to shooting at an unarmed kid, he’s a tough guy but when it’s time to face the public and tell them his story, he becomes officer micro-testicles. He hasn’t given anyone any reason to believe he’s not a murderer, so anyone who does believe in his innocence is making a baseless choice. It’s an increasingly stupid choice.

Police officers used to reserve this type of behavior for minorities in poor neighborhoods who don’t have the means to seek justice, but that’s not the case anymore. They’re expanding their parameters of "dangerous looking people" to include white people. I don’t just mean homeless white people, they’ve always been disposable. I mean white people who look like this:

Mary Hawkes

Okay, she was actually homeless after her parents died when she was a child and a series of other unfortunate events occurred in her life. But look at her. More and more white people who look like her are going to join the "shootable" class. And as their murderers join the "free from consequences" club, the tide will eventually turn in terms of the level of support these murdering cops get from the public. Mary’s murder, Jeremy Dear, killed her back in April. We’re still waiting for the completion of an investigation into what happened because these things take time, but mostly just when the shooter is a cop. This is one of the cases that prompted the Justice Department to look at Albuquerque PD. Jeremy, or officer motherfucker as I like to call him, had a little body camera malfunction at the very moment he was murdering Mary. This malfunction seems to have flummoxed even the manufacturer of the camera. They can’t explain why it wasn’t working when Mary was being murdered. Even more curious though, is the fact that officer motherfucker’s camera malfunctioned on three separate occasions when he happened to be accused of police brutality. Each time investigators went to look at the camera footage, there wasn’t any to be found. Huh. Poor officer motherfucker, his camera actually malfunctioned more than sixty times over the course of his time with Albuquerque PD. I guess some people just don’t have much luck with technology. Lucky for him though, that  Albuquerque PD found nothing suspicious about those malfunctions (not even the three that coincided with excessive force complaints against him), so he got to keep his job and subsequently murder Mary.

These cops are a menace to society and eventually, even supporters of Darren Wilson will see that.

In the meantime, I’m probably going to continue having my fantasies about Darren Wilson being put down. I don’t anticipate ever feeling bad about those fantasies since they may well be the only times I feel a sense of justice regarding Mike Brown’s shooting.               

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Operation FDR

My dirty hippie mayor, who won his election by a nearly 50 point spread by running as a socialist, has some wise words for our pathetic democratic party political machine.

I live in New York City so my mayor is Bill de Blasio.  I started volunteering with de Blasio’s campaign when he was polling in 4th place. Not because I routinely get involved in political campaigns. I don’t. I’m seldom motivated to. De Blasio motivated me. I knew he was going to be the next mayor of New York City because of his populist message. I knew the message was the right one.

Raising taxes was part of his platform. No really, it was. I knew that he was going to win because of it. He wanted to raise taxes on the filthiest of the rich in New York City by a tiny amount so that he could provide universal pre-k to every child in the city. Who wins an election in America by promising to raise taxes? Bill de Blasio. Jerry Brown. Twenty seven districts in Wisconsin voted to raise their own taxes. New Orleans voted to amend their freaking constitution to raise taxes. Clayton County in bright red Georgia voted to raise their own taxes. That’s what I could find in a ten minute Google search. One single search string, five pages into those hits. There are definitely more, but you get my point. Some Americans are starting to realize that if you want nice things, you have to pay for them.

Americans are becoming more and more liberal. All across the country, Americans voted to raise the minimum wage. The majority of us have embraced marriage equality. Americans are becoming increasingly less interested in throwing people in prison for smoking pot, so they’re taking the matter in their own hands. That "tough on crime" mantra that gave us those "three strikes" laws in some states is starting to be recognized for the disaster that it is and is slowly being undone by the voters. 

We are becoming more liberal every year, and Bill de Blasio knew it. The democratic party did not. They ran a shit show of an election effort all across the country. Some democratic voters are attributing the blood bath of 2014 to voter suppression. I agree that this was a contributing factor, but the margins shouldn’t have been close enough for that to be true. Others are saying that democrats were wildly outspent. That’s only true in a few races where republicans had to polish their biggest turds: Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Sam Brownback, and a few others. But generally speaking, the spending was fairly even. The problem was that democrats didn’t have a platform. They ran as "republican lite", and it was absurd. Who the hell is going to vote for republican lite? Democrats? Republicans? Democrats put on a shit show this time around. Alison Grimes can’t say she voted for Obama, yet she’s campaigning with Elizabeth Warren who is the face of socialism? WTF kind of disjointed message was that? How hard is this, "Yes I voted for President Obama and that’s why nearly 500,000 Kentuckians have health insurance for the first time in lord knows how long"? See, that was the perfect answer because it’s true, it sounds genuine, and the word ‘lord" made it in there for good measure! Mark Pryor ran a commercial in which he was thumping his bible so hard, that I swear I lost approximately 10% of my hearing.

To summarize: liberalism won, but "republican lite" lost to "the real deal republican". Any regrouping or strategizing democrats do that ignores this fact is going to be useless.

Enter my socialist mayor. He had a little advice for the party. I agree with everything he said, but I want to go over the parts I found particularly prescient.

As a Democrat, I’m disappointed in last Tuesday’s results. But as a progressive, I know my party need not search for its soul — but rather, its backbone.

We are so off to a good start here.

The truth is that the Democratic Party has core values that are very much in sync with most Americans.

We believe in taking dead aim at the income inequality that infects our communities — from big cities like New York, to small towns and rural areas across the United States.

We believe that the wealthy should pay their fair share so we can lift people out of poverty and grow our middle class.

And we believe in rules that prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from unraveling workers’ pensions, suppressing employees’ wages and benefits, and rigging the system to reward wealth instead of work.

Hellooo, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, and Bill de Blasio and your incredibly high approval ratings. There’s a reason why they’re so popular, and that was it.

This year, too many Democratic candidates lost sight of those core principles — opting instead to clip their progressive wings in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren’t politically practical.

To working people, it showed Democratic weakness — a weak commitment to the change desperately sought by struggling families, and a weak alternative to a Republican philosophy that has held America back.

Yep. When Alison Grimes refused to say that she voted for president Obama, she looked like a little weasel. Nobody likes an oily politician who can’t even pretend to be sincere for as long as they’re campaigning.

Bold, progressive ideas win elections.

Just ask Senator Al Franken, who has fought fearlessly to rein in Wall Street, and won by a larger margin on Tuesday than President Obama did in Minnesota in 2012.

Or Senator Jeff Merkley, who never backed away from his support for Obamacare — a federal program that is already working to reduce income inequality, and promises to do more to address the inequality crisis than anything out of Washington in generations. Merkley won re-election in Oregon by six points more than Obama won that state in 2012.

Then there’s Governor Jerry Brown, who cruised to re-election after championing — and winning — a millionaire’s tax that dedicated funding to California’s public schools.

And don’t forget Governor Dan Malloy — who was written off by so many in his re-election bid in Connecticut. Malloy raised taxes so he could invest more in education each year (at a time when other Governors were slashing education to close yawning budget gaps). Malloy passed earned sick time and a minimum wage hike. And in his re-election bid, he proudly stood alongside President Obama.

Malloy not only lived to tell about it on Tuesday, he increased his margin of victory in a rematch with his 2010 Republican opponent.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I have nothing more to add to that.

Critics will point to competitive Senate races in Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina as places where such progressive policies would all but ensure Democrats’ defeat.

Our question is: how would they know?

In those states, Democratic candidates didn’t say much about progressive taxation, expanding health and retirement benefits, or implementing anti-poverty efforts like universal pre-k or affordable housing.

In Kentucky, more than 413,000 residents have signed up for Obamacare — making it one of the program’s most notable success stories. Arkansas had the nation’s fourth highest poverty rate last year, at 19.7%. In North Carolina — nearly 60% of three-and-four-year olds are not enrolled in pre-k. What were the Democratic candidates offering voters there?

Exactly right. If the progressive ideas are popular, why is running progressive candidates never an option? That was some crappy strategery (my little homage to Bush) on the part of Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who just plain suck at politics.

We saw photo-ops with candidates firing their rifles of choice; witnessed rhetorical gymnastics about how different they were from Obama; and watched televised debates dominated by empty attacks on the Koch Brothers’ influence on campaigns, rather than policies requiring billionaires like the Kochs to pay their fair share in taxes to fund programs benefiting working people.

I’m not blaming the individual candidates here. The strategies they employed are largely the making of Washington insiders who force-feed message points on candidates under threat of being written off by their national party infrastructure.

Yep. That’s his non-Bitchy way of describing the shit show I’ve been referring to for the past week and a half. And he’s referring to the incompetence of Israel and Wasserman-Schultz without naming names.

Acknowledging the need to address income inequality helps win elections. Want proof? Look at the Republicans. In several contests where the GOP prevailed last Tuesday, candidates spoke directly to voters’ concerns on issues like poverty, wage equality, and underemployment.

And tackling inequality is not only good politics; it’s good government.

Yes! The core of the republican base, that 30% that stuck with Bush to the bitter end, the ones who loved Sarah Palin have twisted themselves up so far that they don’t realize this. They think that working hard and not getting jack shit for it is the American way. They have themselves so twisted up into a pretzel, that they literally can’t tell you what they’re advocating for anymore, other than punching down. But they are only 30% of the country. Another twenty percent, who were temporarily caught up in that "tax cuts for the rich will create a utopia for you, in which even cancer is cured" bullshit are coming out of that fog.

You and your government are partners with a vested interest. You work hard, and put forth your best efforts to increase GDP, and your government makes sure that in exchange for that hard work, you’re not starving in the streets. If you work, your basic needs should be met. And since any rational person knows that Comcast won’t do that for you, it has to be your government.

And the fight against inequality isn’t limited to blue states. Right now, there’s a fierce battle being waged on behalf of pre-k in dark-red Indiana. In Kentucky, Governor Beshear maintains wide support and popularity after publicly championing the benefits of Obamacare to the state. Last week, voters in Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota approved ballot measures to increase the minimum wage.

I have nothing to add to that, except to say that Americans are moving left while our government is moving right.

The 2016 presidential election is two years off, but will have a huge impact on the lives of America’s middle-class and poor. Democrats simply cannot rely on shifting demographics and a badly damaged Republican brand to hold the White House and help countless Americans who are struggling.

We must demonstrate, from coast to coast, that we are a party dedicated to lifting people out of poverty; one committed to building a bigger and more durable middle-class; one that is unafraid to ask a little more from those at the very top — the wealthy individuals and big corporations who have not only rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, but who’ve accumulated record new wealth.

Yup. "We suck slightly less than republicans isn’t going to cut it. Liberals aren’t going to accept that. We’re not republicans. We don’t have Stockholm syndrome, and we’re not lemmings with a team mentality about politics. We expect our candidates to uphold their half of the partnership. Independents and younger voters aren’t going to accept that either. They’re just going to stop showing up. And the "we suck slightly less" perpetuates and actualizes the (for now) false notion that both sides are the same.

I understand that democrats need to raise money. I understand that because of Citizen’s United, no politician stands a chance of being elected to any position higher than dog catcher without making nice with a few industries whose self interest are at odds with their constituencies. I get it. I get that we need to fix the money in politics problem, which is why I’m constantly advocating for joining Mayday or (preferably and) Wolf PAC. We need national democrats to get on board in a vocal way. Bernie Sanders can’t be the only politician in the country talking about it. Cenk (Uygur, who started Wolf PAC) seems to think that we can amend the constitution without congress’ help. I don’t agree. We need as many allies in congress as we can get. Democrats need to start talking about this all the time. An overwhelming majority of Americans (72% – 91%, depending on which poll you look at) want to get money out of politics. This is a winning issue. Republican lite is not a viable platform. It’s time to deploy a new strategy. I call it, "Operation FDR". Everywhere we see an FDR or his ideology, we win. It’s time for democrats to go back to their roots and listen to my socialist mayor.

To be clear, I use the term ‘socialism’ in a tongue and cheek way to mock what republicans have done to our dialogue. Regulated capitalism isn’t socialist. Leveling the distribution of wealth so that the game isn’t rigged from the top isn’t socialism. It’s healthy capitalism. And anyone who uses the term ‘socialism’ in any way other than how I use it, should be ignored. That person is batshit crazy, and not worth your time. Spend your time talking to somebody else who has a brain, an open mind, and a heart that isn’t filled with hate.    

 

 

 

 

 

       

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The Veto Tsunami

I’ve been seeing variations on this meme for a couple of days now:

Veto Bitches

 

I like the sunny optimism, but that’s not what’s going to happen. This meme assumes that Obama isn’t aligned with a lot of the republican agenda. Remember, he extended the Bush tax cuts. He was dying to make the grand bargain. We do not have the dirty hippie socialist president that some seem to believe we have. I’m sorry, but that’s just a fact.

The thing everyone points to when proclaiming that President Obama is a socialist, is the thing that republicans created twenty years ago. Obamacare is not socialism. It’s a giant gift to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, and it puts a band aid on the failing business model that is for profit health insurance. It gave insurance companies that coveted and rare demographic known as the millennials. Yes, twentysomethings have to have insurance now, and that’s a hail Mary for Aetna because as a nation, we’re getting older and more expensive to maintain. For profit health insurance is going to cave in on itself. Obamacare just bought them more time. Don’t get me wrong, twentysomethings should have coverage. They won’t get insurance if they’re not forced to get it. They don’t need it because they’re young and healthy, and they don’t want to pay for it. Since they traditionally haven’t participated in the health insurance market, we all pay more than we should in our thirties and forties. See, you pay for the insurance you should have had in your twenties one way or another. Since the young and healthy ones aren’t contributing to the risk pool while they’re young and healthy, the risk pool becomes riskier than it should be. More risk = higher premiums. If you’re one of the people who have always had insurance, you paid for your twenties twice. That’s not going to happen anymore, so we got some relief out of this plan too. But it’s not even in the ballpark of socialism. It just happened to be an elusive middle ground when both corporate profits and people get a win.

Obama is not a socialist. He’s not even a liberal. When it comes to all things corporate-profit related, there’s no daylight between what republicans want and what Obama wants. He’s never attempted to regulate Monsanto, stop oil companies from destroying our water supply by fracking the fuck out of our country, hold Wall Street accountable for their malfeasance, or even raise taxes on corporations, who have never paid less than they pay now.

No, there won’t copious vetos in our future.    

Oh, and the hope of the veto also ignores how non confrontational this president is. Remember, he got Shirley Sherrod’s resignation as fast as he did because he was worried about what Glenn Beck was going to say on his show that night. This is not a bold president who stands up to anyone that he isn’t running against in an election. We’ve never seen candidate Obama in the White House, and we’re not going to see him now. 

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