Trump Visits Obama at the White House: Body Language/Speech Analysis + Bonus Trump Admin Predictions

First we’ll cover the White House meeting, then in the second part, Trump’s 11/21/16 announcement regarding the status of his transition team’s progress.

 

If this is the first body language/speech analysis post of mine you’ve ever read, a brief re-cap: the 3 things I’m looking/listening for are 1) what’s being said (the words coming out of Trump and Obama’s mouths), 2) what’s really being said (in other words, what they really mean when they say something, and 3) what’s not being said, also described as, what has been left unsaid. And usually it’s that third component that’s most revealing.

 

For those wondering, well, ok, but what is your bias? Surely whether or not you like these men personally will influence how you interpret what you see and hear? Yes, it’s probably true that my feelings toward them will affect my perception of their words/actions in this short video. So, full disclosure: I voted for Obama twice and Trump once (so far).

 

They start interacting at 1:03 in the video below, and the footage flips back to George Stephanopoulos at 4:18.

 

 

Now, lets start with the 1:05 freeze frame. Interestingly, Trump is sitting in a slightly smaller chair. Both men are doing the man-spread “I am a dominant male” posture with their legs open. Then President Obama says, “Well, I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with president-elect Trump” — and the word “well” here is significant. The use of the word well means that he’s conceding or admitting, it actually was excellent and that he wasn’t expecting it to be.

 

But now look at Trump’s hands while Obama is speaking, specifically from 1:04 – 1:17. His hands are in a pensive, self-steadying pose, but his fingers tap each other intermittently, and at 1:14 he looks away from Obama and starts to open his mouth as if to speak, then he closes it at 1:15. I’ll tell you what this means: it means that he’s thinking about something that just happened, immediately preceding the cameras and the press entering the room. So he’s either recalling something that he was just told or something he just saw, and whatever it was, it was so significant that he’s still thinking about it now and at the same time, concentrating on what President Obama is saying. Now Trump is a classic alpha male, an alpha’s alpha so to speak (Obama is a sigma male and maybe I’ll do more analysis of him later) and so it’s likely a very simple and practiced task for Trump to listen to what people are saying in conversation and mull something over simultaneously. Still, it’s telling that he is tapping his fingers like that. Whatever it was, it wasn’t something pleasant. But, by the time he looks back at Obama at 1:17, he has his fingers firmly pressed together and his face is set. This is the facial expression you will see on an alpha male when they have come to a decision. Who knows what the decision was? But notice that the tapping of his fingers — an unconscious indicator of indecision — stops.

 

At 1:20 the camera zooms in on President Obama and we see him warmly gesture toward Trump several times on the words or phrases “coming 2 months” and “transition” and “ensure” and “president elect” and “successful.” These are inclusive hand gestures and we can determine that they are sincere because President Obama unconsciously gestures closer and closer to Trump with each word. I will briefly make the case that Obama is not sad that Hillary lost (his body language toward Trump makes it crystal clear, but my argument here deals with Hillary and Obama’s personal history). First, let’s recall that President Obama and Hillary were not and are not friends. And for those who think that Obama appointed Clinton to the State Department because he liked her, I present an alternate view. What better way to get that final jab in, after a bitter prolonged primary contest in 2007, than to hire your rival to work for you so that not only did you defeat them resoundingly in a public display of dominance, you take it a step further by making them your employee so that every day they go to work, they have to wake up in the morning knowing you are their boss? Yeah, Obama is the ultimate player. (Hey, don’t hate the player, hate the game.)

 

With that in mind, it wasn’t surprising to me that there wasn’t a hint of animosity coming from Obama toward Trump in this video. Obama is probably of two minds on the Trump victory: ambivalence is all over his impassive face (especially indicated by the limited amount of eye contact he makes with Trump, which we’ll get to momentarily). The reason he keeps talking about the country, and doing what’s best for the country (he says it’s his “number one priority”) might be because he isn’t actually sure that Hillary wouldn’t have been worse for us. In other words, Obama most likely didn’t want Trump to win because he doesn’t personally like the birth certificate brew ha-ha that Trump promoted and at the same time, he knows Hillary is deeply corrupt (google “state department pay to play hillary clinton foundation” or read all about her corruption here) and, as Obama pointed out so perceptively in 2008, “Hillary Clinton will say anything and change nothing.”

 

Do you doubt that Obama is not nearly as upset about Hillary’s defeat as Hillary and her weeping followers are? Watch this (it’s embedded to start right at 8:39 – stop after the press laugh at Biden’s joke a few moments later). Now, was that a man who is sad that his replacement is DJT? Was that the voice and facial expression of a man who feels sorrow over Hillary’s loss? Note the jovial manner with which he compliments VP Biden at 8:40 for never having lost an election before. If I had more time, I’d do an analysis on this video alone. Suffice it to say, there is most likely a tiny part of Obama that is filled with glee that Hillary lost after everything — one dirty lowdown smear campaign after another — she hurled at him back in the ’08 Dem primary.

 

Back to the Obama-Trump meeting. When, at 1:40, President Obama says, “I have been very encouraged by the interest in President-elect Trump’s wanting to work with my team around many of the issues this great country faces,” he’s not only encouraged, he’s happily surprised. His word choice here, again, indicates that Trump approached him with an inquisitive, “teach me what you’ve learned” attitude, and Obama is glad. (Also, try closing your eyes and listening to him say “my team” — the pitch of his voice goes up a bit; this means that his team is comprised of people that he deeply loves and cherishes; please notice that his pitch goes up on “great country faces” too.) It’s not really surprising that Trump would ask Obama for advice though. As an alpha, Trump knows instinctively that one strategy to master a task (or role) is to learn from the challenges, regrets, and mistakes of others so that they don’t become his mistakes and regrets. (As a wise fortune cookie sage once wrote, “Intelligence is learning from your mistakes; wisdom is learning from other people’s.”) There were likely a lot of, “what did you do when …?” and “what do you wish you had done differently when _____ happened?” type questions from Trump to Obama. And Obama’s words and tone here indicate both encouragement and relief.

 

Now, let’s look at President Obama’s hands between 1:29 and 1:55. Notice that whenever his hands come back together he either a) steeples them casually as in 1:08, 1:15, and 1:20 or b) he tucks his left hand into his right hand so that his right hand conceals his left hand’s fingers, as in 1:29, 1:45, and 1:50. The first gesture is a practiced signal to convey that he is calm, cool Barack and the second is an unconscious indicator of anxiety. It’s literally hand-ringing, which is a self-comforting motion. Who knows what he’s worried about? I imagine the list is quite long when you’re president. It would be more odd if he had no anxiety indicators — what is he, a robot? No, he’s a human being emotionally influenced by the domino effect of every single decision he makes. (We’ll see if Trump’s hair doesn’t have a few patches of silver in 8 years. Maybe he won’t and that would be cool — however, I wouldn’t judge him negatively for it if he did.)

 

Now at 2:41, Obama looks at Trump and makes eye contact with him as he says, “I want to emphasize to you” but then, as he continues to speak, he lowers his gaze, then looks away, then looks back, but keeps his gaze lowered. The camera zooms out, and Trump, still looking at Obama, waiting for Obama to re-make eye contact, finally looks away and toward the press at 2:50. First, I think that Obama is very distracted by the constant noise of the cameras flashing — it’s extremely loud. Second, I think Obama is trying to remember some memorized lines. Notice how much more comfortable he is at the very end when he’s joking around about the press with Trump (at 4:02). And finally, as I mentioned before, the lack of eye contact also indicates feeling of two minds (or two emotions) toward Trump: Obama can’t help but like him because most likely, Trump greeted him (earlier in the day, prior to the cameras rolling) with a “let’s let bygones be bygones” disarming kind of alpha introduction and handshake. Obama was probably prepared for hostility — genuine warmth was not what he expected at all (which is why it’s so disarming and why alphas use it as a strategy. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer by turning them into assets.) Trump nods in genuine agreement as Obama says, “We now are gonna want to do everything possible to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.” Then he hands the floor over to Trump.

 

Now, there are two Trumps. Trump from the Apprentice and the real Donald Trump (which is why it’s so fitting that his twitter handle is @realDonaldTrump). Trump from the Apprentice sits as if he’s sitting on a throne — always. Without exception. His posture commands respect and to some degree, fear.

 

 

Real Trump always hunches a little bit forward, as he does throughout the majority of this scene with President Obama. And if you watch him in the interview on 60 Minutes with his whole family, again, he hunches forward, and I believe that this is to obscure his stature so that no one feels threatened or relegated to the background (I’ve seen many alpha males do this; if you go onto youtube, you can see videos of both the CIA and FBI directors sitting in a very similar way: slightly slouching even, in order to make the interviewer feel less uncomfortable.) At the same time, Trump doesn’t hesitate to use his stature to command respect when appropriate — the Anderson Cooper “backstage” interview comes to mind. Fascinatingly, when Trump was on the campaign trail, he seldom evoked the king posture, but by using expansive hand gestures, he still made the people around them feel as if they were in the presence of the classic “benevolent ruler” archetype. This is a strategy to make people feel enveloped in safety without actually touching them. And Trump is really good at it.

 

Now watch Trump’s hands as he begins to speak at 2:56 (and notice that Obama is watching him intently. Obama has a good poker face but look closely, and you will see pleasant surprise in his expression). All of a sudden at 3:01, Trump remembers he should do something with his hands. As noted earlier, Trump is a classic alpha male — an alpha’s alpha — and they know intuitively that hands speak and worse, tell secrets, and so they start practicing early in life holding their hands still. But they’re also brilliant strategists; this means that it’s likely that Trump would have sat down and brainstormed various hand motions that would be useful in conveying an honest and trustworthy persona long before that fateful escalator descent announcing his candidacy, and then begun practicing them prior to his campaign so that they would come across as naturally as possible. So it’s fun for me to see the two Donald Trumps fight each other for dominance in this last bit of footage. He has probably been doing the common hands-steepled-together pose since his 20’s; it’s steadying, nonthreatening, calming to whoever he’s interacting with, and conveys a thoughtful reflective (not impulsive) person. Good. Meanwhile, it appears, some of the hand motions that he added to his body language arsenal, pre-campaign, pop up from time to time: at 3:02 when he brings his hands out and then together, and then back out again (signaling that he is putting things together, that he has a hold on the or a situation): at 3:22, he says, “we discussed a lot of situations,” and then, almost as an afterthought, as if he is reminding himself to use his hands again, Trump says, “some wonderful and some difficulties” and he brings his hands together with the palms up to show that he is holding the situation up, that is to say, “handling it.” I LOVE how at 3:11, after stating that originally Trump and Obama were only going to meet for 15 minutes, Trump reveals, “the meeting lasted for” — he looks warmly at Obama — “almost an hour and a half.” Now, this is old school alpha rapport-building technique: he is glancing at Obama as if to say, “let’s tell them, shall we?” as though he and Obama are letting us in on a little bit of gossip, a tidbit we otherwise would never have known about: the audience or viewers then feel special, invited, accepted, enveloped in the Trump cocoon. The secret is now between Trump and Obama — and 330 million American people. We’re ALL in. This is how alphas make everyone in the tribe feel valuable and accepted.

 

At 3:22, he says they discussed a lot of situations, “some wonderful and some difficulties” and again, his hands come together with the palms up to show us that he is holding up any problems, that he is “handling” it. Then no hand motions again until at 3:43, when he remembers to incorporate the 3-fingered OK symbol when saying that he and Obama discussed some of the “really great things that have been achieved.” At 3:53, they shake hands and neither man attempts to dominate the other. THIS IS GOOD. Trump has his lips pressed together in the facial expression that suggests that he is willing to acknowledge that Obama is a cooler guy than he thought (or in some way, better than he’d originally thought). Now, the handshake is very quick, suggesting residual bad feelings on both sides, so let’s acknowledge that too. At the same time, the way that they make eye contact as they shake signals that they each accept the other’s appeal to millions of people.

 

And, in an interesting display of camaraderie at 4:02, Obama taps Trump on the arm and says, “it’s always a good rule: don’t answer any questions when they just start –” and Trump smiles and jokes, “it’s always the last one!”

 

ICE BROKEN!!!

 

Then Obama lets the press know he’s done with them and they are free to leave by saying, “no questions” and “come on, guys, let’s go” (the song, “Closing Time” comes to mind) and at 4:10, Trump says, “very — very good man.” Then he repeats it (“very good man”) and looks down and to the right, as if he’s recalling something he was told recently about President Obama. I conclude that this is ultimately good; a president is only one man and the whole purpose of Congress and the Courts is to stop that man if he tries to go farther than the people want. To see Obama or Trump as either all good or all bad is simply not accurate, and so I look forward to learning what it was that Obama did specifically that Trump was referring to when he said, “very good man” twice.

 

PREDICTIONS!

Some of you are aware that I predicted back in October of 2014 that Hillary could not and would not win this election and that that was why we needed to start finding a viable alternative back then (and I suggested Bernie Sanders).

I do enjoy making predictions.

Even when I’m wrong! That said, here goes:

 

  1. Trump will negotiate with CEO of Apple (in 2017) and some i-phones will eventually be manufactured in the USA.
  2. Trump will further walk back remarks on torture. I believe this will happen very soon after he’s sworn in, after he speaks with DNI Clapper and CIA Director Brennan. (Let me know in the comments if you would like a post on the Brennan-Trump feud going back to this past summer. Two alpha males circling each other at the CIA? Get out your macrame invisibility poncho and hop on the DARPA cloud — wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall to witness that first meeting?? All kidding and teleporting aside, I predict that it will end well, and that the Iran Deal will be salvaged too after Trump is let in on the less public details. Briefly: alphas are human lie detectors, value loyalty above all other traits, and are extremely protective of “their people.” Once John Brennan and Donald Trump realize they have more in common than not, they will get along amazingly well. They should each give each other a chance, at the very least.)
  3. Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) will be repealed and replaced in January 2017. It will keep the option to have coverage through one’s parents’ plan for people up to age 26, keep the rule that insurers cannot deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, but repeal the requirement that employers offer health insurance to all full time workers, providing a huge boon to the economy as companies and especially retail stores/companies, offer full time opportunities to their employees again. (If we’re going to go true free market solution, we’ll have to disconnect the purchase of health insurance with employment — in other words, remove the burden on employers and allow insurers to sell to anyone in any state in order to break up the regional cartels, driving down prices in order to reduce the burden on consumers as well. I just took Microecon over the summer and am taking Macro right now, so these free market solutions are on my mind. And of course, fellow Berners, I remain a staunch fan of a Single Payer National Health Care System; I’m simply open to multiple ways of solving the problem of people not getting the health care they need.)
  4. The House will pass a law repealing Medicare and it will narrowly, with in 5 votes, lose in the Senate in 2018.
  5. The House and Senate will keep a Republican majority until 2020, when the Senate will turn Dem majority.
  6. Trump will win re-election in 2020; Minnesota will go red for the first presidential election since 1972.
  7. NAFTA will not be significantly altered until Trump’s second term — but then it will be gutted (to the benefit of both the American and Mexican people; remember that comparative advantage, the economic theory upon which these unethical “free” trade agreements are based, means an advantage for the ruling and corporate classes, not the People).

 

Obama Trump

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please comment below or tweet at me at @Sarah__Reynolds.

 

Blatant CIA Recruiting Propaganda: Chuck (leaving Netflix Nov 1)

Where does entertainment end and the manufacture and broadcast of blatant government recruiting infomercials under the guise of independently produced TV shows begin? I attempt to explore this gray area in a textual analysis of the pilot episode of the show Chuck that I wrote for a Communicating Across Cultures class I took at St Catherine University. You’ll find additional commentary below the works cited.

 

 

Who is behind the creation of television shows like Chuck that glorify the lifestyle of state sponsored espionage, assassination, and adventure?  The writers of the show, Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz, have a history of creating action-adventure fare, but this unique niche whose neighbors include Alias, MacGyver and 24 is comprised of territory they were entering for the first time in 2007 when the pilot aired on NBC. In an interview, they claimed they were inspired by the humor of the movie Spies Like Us, and it’s apparent throughout the pilot that the audience is indeed viewing a comedy as much as an espionage thriller (2009). But while the show’s creators may be two young guys new to the industry and upon whom a lucky star shines — a star that connects their writing to the best directors and network to showcase it — Chuck’s institutional purpose is likely much more layered and nuanced.

 

 

The foundation of the show is upper middle class America in a post-9/11 world; not the the realm of blissful ignorance of current events amidst the combination of fake smiles and socioeconomic prosperity that emanates from other shows to the average living room on Must See TV night, but a realm of fake smiles, hyper-beautiful people and socioeconomic prosperity that does — specifically — acknowledge world conflict and international affairs. Layer two is the introduction of Chuck himself, a nerd we can all relate to because he is not nerdy at all. Instead, he’s socially savvy, witty, and also kind: right away we learn he has a broken heart and that his surgeon sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law are using all the power and privilege at their disposal to help that heart heal. We then learn that unbeknownst to him, Chuck has received a cache of government secrets in an email from an old Stanford classmate and that this cache has been uploaded, via a series of flashing images, into Chuck’s brain. It’s called the Intersect and now both the CIA and the NSA are concerned about the mystery behind the sender and the recipient of the email containing these encoded top secret images. Layer three is the introduction of the human representatives (and personified stereotype) of each agency. We learn that Major Casey, NSA, is “a killer — cold school” and that Sarah Walker, exuding confidence, beauty and charm, is — what else — a covert operative for the CIA who wears bullet proof bustiers and weaponized hair pins and takes kill orders from the Director of the CIA himself (with whom she is on a first name basis, by the way). Casey calls Sarah “the CIA skirt” in his most demeaning tone and Sarah calls Casey “a burnout” and means that in a commensurately belittling way. It seems to be the US government itself putting the institution in the institutional purpose of the show.

 

image

 

One can’t help but wonder if Chuck was designed to recruit potential spies to both the CIA and the NSA. Every Hollywood stereotype is repeated and refined: the message is that spies have Maseratis, diffuse bombs, drive cars backwards down stairs, pretend to be people they are not, get to break and enter without reprisal, and of course, keep photos of their clandestine romantic relationships with fellow spies on their phones and reminisce about trips to Cabo as they sit in the lap of a luxury suite whose floor to ceiling windows offer a breathtaking view of a cosmopolitan skyline. Rather than an ulterior or secondary motive, recruitment of future employees for these national security and intelligence agencies seems not only to be one of the messages (i.e. “wouldn’t you love to live this lifestyle too? come work for us”) but the original intention for the show. In other words, Chuck is government recruiting propaganda modified to incorporate characters who interact for an hour each week first, and a dramatic comedy about spies with a few recruiting messages thrown in for good measure second.

 

 

So who exactly is being targeted by this program? “Geeks, nerds and lonely dudes,” as Chuck says when referring to himself and his cohorts in the Nerd Herd (redolent of the Geek Squad at Best Buy), who fantasize about a life of adventure where the geek gets the girl and all really is fair in love and war (2007). As a television watching demographic, the working people aren’t totally forgotten: they can see reflections of themselves in the employees at the imaginary retail store called the Buy More where Chuck works (“buy more” itself being a command statement sending a strong message to the viewing audience to spend money, regardless of a slowing economy — recession would hit the next year in 2008).  The expert physical comedy and Carol Burnett-worthy one liners and farce will appeal to those viewers who enjoy a good dramatic comedy. And who isn’t patriotic? Certainly, there are many people who aren’t, but in our post 9/11 world, it is taken for granted that we are: patriotism is a hegemonic value. Many Americans in the year 2007 were reeling over the disclosures of the Bush regime’s constitution-violating surveillance and unlawful treatment of prisoners in the Global War on Terror. Chuck was there to remind Americans from coast to coast that it’s all for a greater good. Plus, it’s exciting to boot.

 

 

Images and symbols throughout the show reinforce that assumption of patriotism: the Intersect itself is comprised of a slew of triggering images. We see fragments of actual footage of terrorists about to behead someone, then in a flash, we see Lady Liberty and an American flag. A humming bird and a rose rotate in quick succession and then we see someone being hypnotized. Never was a television show audience bombarded with images in ways that are so openly geared toward inducing and reinforcing feelings of pride, righteousness and love of country.

 

 

This show is consistently funny — hilarious at times — but its Achille’s heel for the first forty minutes of air time is that it relies on and amplifies stereotypes that descend into derogotype. I was turned off the first time I saw the pilot by the way the characters came across as one-dimensional caricatures rather than people we could really imagine in those roles. But during the last five minutes of this series premiere, after Chuck is able to diffuse a bomb with the help of the Intersect in his head, the Casey and Sarah characters suddenly reveal their humanity and their devotion to protecting others, not because they know these random people who might be affected by an explosion but simply because those strangers are in danger and preventing them from being blown up is their job, one Casey and Sarah do well and fearlessly. But there’s a very gray area society would ideally confront when it comes to portraying actual government activities in ways that glorify morally ambiguous life choices, such as killing, surveilling, and detaining people indefinitely. Chuck himself is quite literally indefinitely detained and repeatedly surveilled over the five years this series was on air, and though the majority of the American people may not object to the existence of a CIA or an NSA, I do think we should question the ethics of going beyond writing and producing an exciting show about spies protecting our country from international threats and crossing the line that separates entertainment from the manufacture and broadcast of blatant government recruiting infomercials under the guise of an independently produced TV show. That being said, Chuck soon became one of my favorite shows, each episode outdoing the degree of suspense, last minute bomb diffusion, and romantic tension of the last.

 

 

Pilot: Chuck, Season One, written by Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz. NBC for College Hill Productions. Original Air Date: September 23, 2007.

New York Comic Con 2009: CHUCK Panel Live Blog; The TV Addict. http://www.thetvaddict.com/2009/02/08/new-york-comic-con-2009-chuck-panel-live-blog/ Accessed September 8, 2016.

 

 

 

Reflecting

So the question is: Is it bad? Is it morally wrong for the government to collaborate with production studios to create this kind of patriotism-inducing call to service to our country? Actually, no. It’s just product placement like any other. We see people on TV drinking coke, we want to drink coke. But no one is forcing us to — the same concept applies to advertising certain career paths. (To wit: if watching Criminal Minds makes you want to be an FBI profiler, good — they need people to hunt down child pornographers and human traffickers and other sick psychopaths.) It’s not even morally gray. What IS gray is any glorification of torture or other unconstitutional acts. On the other hand, to its credit, Chuck did a great job of revealing the loneliness and anonymity the viewer might expect would be required of working for the government in such a capacity. Major John Casey is basically an alcoholic and Chuck Bartowski is often miserable as he finds himself entrapped by one love triangle after another and Sarah Walker literally has no friends and no life. That’s it. The writers — and the script suggests finishing touches (probably) added by very real government operatives — go out of their way to warn the viewer to think very carefully before seeking employ within the federal government.

 

 

What IS gray is any glorification of torture or other unconstitutional acts.

 

 

And as far as the glorification of torture and other unconstitutional acts goes, that is very dangerous, because its normalization is slowly but surely wearing away our collective moral compass; and the show Chuck does make light of it in other episodes later in the series. I will blog another textual analysis of the movie Central Intelligence starring the Rock and Kevin Hart to explore this paradox further.

 

**This show is due to be pulled from streaming on Netflix on November 1 so watch it while you can!

I’ll always love Bernie Sanders but here’s why I boarded the #TrumpTrain (and why you should too)

Please check out my video and be sure to like and subscribe!

 

STRATEGY: Vote third party if you live in a historically red state in order to create a historical record of dissent but vote for Trump if you live in a state that is historically blue or is a swing state. Remember, it’s a just war we’re fighting. Hillary is just a pawn in the game, the human personification of a wire transfer. But the war is real — and it’s a war on corruption. We know what we’ll get with Hillary: four more years of corporatism. Trump may keep none of his promises (to stop regime change, nation building, endless war, the TPP, pull out of NAFTA, and bring back manufacturing jobs), but we know for sure that Hillary won’t. If we take a risk on Trump’s populism, the worst case scenario is four years of republican disaster that create the fertile ground for an even more progressive candidate to run in 2020. For example, BERNIE. Hillary has run for president twice and ostensibly, Bernie would be running a re-election campaign in four years anyway, had the DNC and the mainstream media not conspired against him to ensure that Hillary was the candidate and that Bernie never even had a chance.

 

 

 

Here’s the article on the Iranian asset that was killed because of those classified emails Hillary sent with extreme carelessness on an unencrypted server. Ruh-roh. The Nat Sec community doesn’t like you anymore, Hillary.

 

The second that Iranian nuclear scientist was hanged for treason, she became a liability. Think I’m connecting imaginary dots? Well, what day was he executed? And what day did Trump make his apology speech? Trump is now being coached by people who have a lot more to lose than their pride. Notice he’s walking back his immigration stance and skipping the torture rhetoric and no longer saying weird things like “Hillary and Obama are the founders of ISIS” and instead saying logical things like “Obama and Hillary’s actions in the Middle East contributed to the vacuum from which ISIS could emerge.”

 

 

Now, when Bernie warns us that if he ever tells us who to vote for, we shouldn’t listen to him — should we listen to him? YES.

 

 

 

Here’s Hillary earlier this month on a stage as her health publicly deteriorates. Hillary freezes: then her handler comes up to her and tells her to “keep talking,” but has to say it twice before it works.

 

 

 

Lol.

 

And here’s 13 minutes of Hillary lying straight!

 

 

Here’s a HILARIOUS — and I mean HUH-larious — reading by Bill Whittle. Hillary Clinton is NOT a feminist.

 

 

And here he is talking with Stefan Molyneux about FBI Director Comey’s scathing statement on why the FBI would not be recommending prosecution to the DOJ, which to many of us sounded a lot more like “closing arguments” that beautifully outlined all the crimes that Hillary committed rather than an explanation for why he wasn’t recommending prosecution. Bill has an excellent theory that Comey essentially couldn’t recommend prosecution because of possible corruption inside the Dept of Justice and so instead, he disclosed all of her crimes so that Congress would demand a hearing (which it did) and call for additional separate charges (which they did). Lo and behold, the Clinton Foundation is being investigated for corruption as we speak!

 

My own personal theory (AND I’M SPECULATING) is that Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch did indeed talk about the grandchildren on the plane for 39 minutes, but especially about Loretta’s grandchildren and what might happen to them if Attorney General Lynch went ahead and charged his wife Hillary with any crimes. At that point, I speculate, faced with no other option, Director Comey decided to try Hillary Clinton in the Court of Public Opinion, and delivered his closing arguments in front of the jury of 318 million of her closest peers in the form of a live televised “official statement.”

 

 

 

And watch more about the donors to the Clinton Foundation in Abby Martin’s excellent expose. The whole episode is great, but I have it embedded to start at exactly 12:15 in order to get straight to the corrupt donors to the Clinton Foundation. $10 million from literal hell on earth Saudi Arabia, $10 million from billionaire oligarch Victor Pinchuk, between $1 and $5 million each from Oman, Quatar, Kuwait, the UAE and … that’s right, another friendly neighborhood Saudi billionaire. These are countries where dissent is punished with public execution. Oh, and a woman who is raped? Well, that’s adultery, you silly Westernized whore. And adulterers get stoned to death.

 

 

 

And here’s the conservative version of Abby Martin’s expose called “Clinton Cash.” There was a lot of pseudo fact checking, but lo and behold, it turned out that Clinton Cash the movie, like Clinton Cash the book, simply followed the money trail and documented the horror as it was. There was no need to make it look worse. Here’s the fact check of the fact check! Click here.

 

 

Now watch the Clinton Chronicles — the corruption goes WAY back!

 

 

Listen to Hillary Clinton pat herself on the back for getting a 41 year old child rapist off with two months’ time served in the 70’s. And she chuckles in nostalgic glee.

 

Watch Abby Martin’s excellent expose on NAFTA, “How NAFTA Displaced Millions of Mexican Farmers”

 

Don’t let David Seaman be the next Seth Rich.

 

 

 

Please vote! I’d love it if you voted for Trump but I’d love it if you voted period!

 

Interested in supporting my work? Click here.

 

Body Language/Speech Analysis: FBI Director Comey & the Inevitable Hillary Indictment

Logic is hard. Critical thinking is no longer taught in our schools. Most colleges do not require a course in logic to graduate, and because the media can legally lie, even if people were skilled at drawing reasonable conclusions, they would often be basing those conclusions on false information anyway.

 

That said, let’s try applying a little logic to the Hillary implosion — aided and abetted by one Associated Press. Fact: The number of delegates required to “clinch the nomination” is 2383. Fact: Hillary does not have that many today. She did not have that many on June 6, 2016, the night someone blackmailed/bribed someone else at AP to discard all journalistic integrity and declare that she had enough superdelegates to “clinch the nomination.” AP claims that they polled all the superdelegates and that there were just enough to give her the win. This would be like polling all the members of the Electoral College and declaring that Trump had enough electoral votes to win the presidency! (Does it sound like I’m speculating when I use big words like “blackmail” and “bribery”? Well, that’s because I am. Simultaneously, I’m extending AP the benefit of the doubt — the doubt that they could ever do something so unethical, immoral and unjust unless they were under the incredible pressure of being blackmailed or bribed.)

 

 

FACT: There’s a date on the calendar when the superdelegates vote. That date — JULY 25, 2016 — has not come and gone according to the passage of months, days and hours that we measure using time-keeping devices and subsequently label “history.”

 

 

 

TRUTH: Hillary has not received the nomination. She is not the presumptive nominee. She is exactly where she was a year ago: Not the Democratic nominee for president in the 2016 election cycle.

 

Further, we can analyze FBI Director Comey’s word choices, body language, and tone of voice and see (and hear) that he does indeed plan to recommend to the Department of Justice that Hillary be indicted under the Espionage Act. Why? Because that is the law she has broken by allowing Special Access Program emails to go unencrypted on her private server for three months (from NBC: “the special access program in question was so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance to be read in on it before viewing the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails“). Author and columnist H. A. Goodman explains the basic legal facts in the excellent video below (it will start at exactly the point in the video where he gets to that, 12:32). In summary, yes, some of the emails were retroactively classified, but that’s not relevant. Convicted whistleblowers sit in prison right now for transferring retroactively classified emails, so it’s a crime and one that gets indictments and guilty verdicts. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The SAP emails were born classified. There is no “retroactive” for those emails. They were above Top Secret from the get go.

 

 

But don’t take Goodman’s word for it: the recent release (5/26/16) of the State Department Inspector General report concluded that 1) Hillary violated the federal records act by not turning over all official emails before she left the State Dept and 2) that there was no evidence that she ever received approval to use her own email account for conducting official State Department business (or ever even requested such approval). So there’s ample evidence that she should be indicted. Will she? She’s betting she won’t. Her alienating presumptuous arrogance is embarrassing enough (for example when she says that the report won’t affect either her campaign or “my presidency”) but the disrespect and disregard for the law she doesn’t even attempt to hide is really over the top.

 

Frankly, I thought that there was a good chance that corruption would thwart the release of the State Dept IG report and, that even if it were released, it would likely be false. (And it’s damning — very damning.) The FBI, on the other hand, I have far more faith in (or rather, less doubt). There is no way to get inside Director Comey’s head and know what he intends to do, however, there is a fascinating theory that people are always confessing (literally, that people are always subtly revealing the truth with their words, tone and body language) and that if you listen well enough, you can hear what they’re really saying. In other words, there are three elements of communication. First, the words that are coming out of a person’s mouth; second, what they’re really saying; and third, what they’re not saying.

 

Cenk Uygur explains below that Director Comey, at a May 11 “Pen & Pad” Briefing with Reporters, was very direct in clarifying that there is no “security inquiry,” that in fact, Hillary is being investigated as part of a criminal investigation. Comey says, “I’m not familiar with the term ‘security inquiry.’ We’re conducting an investigation. That’s what we do. It’s in our name. There are no special set of rules for anybody that the FBI investigates.”

 

 

But there is no audio in this segment from TYT. Those phrases are really an amalgamation of several things Director Comey said in two separate exchanges with a reporter. Here’s the first one, copy/pasted from the FBI’s website (except, it wasn’t a complete transcription so I edited it). Turns out, it’s not so direct after all. In fact, the way he square dances with the truth is far more revealing. Pen & Pad briefings are audio only, so we can’t see Director Comey, but in a way, that’s easier, at least for me. Undistracted by facial expressions, I can hone in on “weak” spots in his speech (this means, places where the societal mask we all wear disappears for a second or two).

Starting at 21:04:

 

Catherine: On the e-mails, Director Comey, are you doing a security inquiry?

Director Comey: (long pause – awkward!) I’m sorry?

Catherine: On the e-mails are you doing a security inquiry?

Director Comey: I don’t know what that means.

Catherine: So it’s a criminal investigation?

Director Comey: We’re conducting an investigation. That-that’s the bureau’s business. That’s what we do. And (pause) that’s probably all I can say about it.

Catherine: The reason I ask is that Mrs. Clinton consistently refers to it as a security inquiry, but the FBI does criminal investigations. I just want to —

Director Comey: Right —

Catherine: — see if you can clear that up.

Director Comey: — it’s in our name.

Catherine: Okay.

Director Comey: Yeah.

Catherine: Okay. So it’s not —

Director Comey: I’m not familiar with the term security inquiry.

 

BEST PART EVER: “I’m sorry?” he says, as if he has no idea what a security inquiry is and in fact, has never even heard such an bizarre off-the-wall term! A what??? A dinglehopper inquiry? A security yackamadoodle? How odd! I’ve never HEARD of such a thing!! Silly Catherine. Surely you jest! From what alternate realm do you descend where FBI stands for Federal Bureau of Inquiry? Inquisition maybe, inquiry — NEVER!

 

Ok, so he’s just a little too ready to respond with confusion to that question and a little too ready to feign innocence. It’s so funny, so actually hilarious that if it were say, Chris Parnell playing Comey in the SNL version of this exchange, Chris would not even have to exaggerate his intonation on “I’m sorry?” I think James Comey means, Sorry, not sorry. #sorrynotsorry

 

Let’s keep breaking it down: Cat goes, “on the email, are you doing a security inquiry?” and Directory Comey is all, “I don’t know what that means.” He’s actually being quite kind to Catherine in particular (she is one of the few people he addresses by name), so what does his faux-surprise pretend-ignorance MEAN???? Well, if we were using something I call “red neon sign translate,” he would be holding up a red neon sign that says, “the concept of a security inquiry is so absurd, so silly, and so illogical because the concept of actually and truly being investigated by the FBI is so measurably tangibly serious that downplaying it that much can only mean one thing: that Hillary is actually dumb which is measurably untrue OR she’s very very afraid; either way, I am not even going to acknowledge the insult to the entire Bureau that her euphemism conveys; if there’s anything I can do about it, she will never be our boss.”

 

Ok, that would be a big red neon sign. Fine. God, split hairs.

 

But WAIT — there’s more! Cat tries to make him admit on the record that it’s a criminal investigation when she says, “So it’s a criminal investigation?”

 

Now we get to hear his dad tone. All of a sudden he gets — just a little — pissed. “We’re conducting an investigation,” he barks says in a clipped tone. He’s not angry with/at Catherine, but again, he’s sick and tired of saying that they’re conducting an investigation because conducting investigations is all a bureau of investigation does. What else would it do? Really?

 

Then Catherine, taken aback by Comey’s departure from his generally jovial low key tone slips into hedge language: “the reason I ask” — she doesn’t have to give a reason; she’s a reporter, she asks questions for a living, we know why: it’s her job. But she feels compelled to gently rephrase her question because he barked at her and she felt bad for a second. She concludes with “I just want to see if you can clear that up.” This kind of hedge language is what we use on parents, bosses and other authority figures when they’re “in a bad mood” because we don’t want to get snapped at. Phrases that couch our request, such as “I was just wondering …” or “how would you feel if I possibly …” or “Do you happen to know by chance if/when/what ….?” instead of a direct question. She could have said, “You know why I’m asking — it doesn’t make any sense. Will you please state for the record that the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton?” But, he answers affirmatively anyway! TWICE!

 

He says, “Right. It’s in our name.” Listen to the way he says it: “Right.” As in, yes, obviously. Hillary is being criminally investigated. And then when Catherine starts to use a placating tone to communicate to him primally that she is not a threat (“Okay, okay”), he communicates back to her with his calmer tone, “yes, I know you’re not a threat; you’re good, and yes, you’re 100% correct — yeah.” He uses affirmative language twice here, with the word Right and the word Yeah. This is not a coincidence. This is a man who chooses his words extremely carefully, and has no problem with hesitating if he hasn’t found the right words yet (wise man — as my mom used to say, “Once words come out of our mouths, they can never go back in, just like bullets from a gun. And words can be even more dangerous.”).

 

There’s more. At 14:21:

 

Eric: I know you don’t want to talk about the Hillary e-mails but I’m asking anyway.

Director Comey: [Are you ashamed?]

Eric: Yeah, I try not to. You’ve indicated publicly, in Niagara Falls and a few other places that you were going to finish this up on your own schedule. You were in no rush. The convention wasn’t a factor, nothing else was a factor. Is there a concern in the director’s office that this investigation is now the subject of so much scrutiny and speculation that you’re affecting a presidential election, in a negative way?

Director Comey: All I would do Eric is repeat what I said before. In any investigation, especially one of intense public interest, and I felt this about San Bernardino. We want to do it well and we want to do it promptly. And so I feel –I feel pressure to do both of those things? (passive aggressive up-talk) What I said at some places, I don’t — I don’t see — I don’t tether to any parTICular external deadline? (passive aggressive up-talk) Look, I understand the interest in this particular investigation. I do feel the pressure to do it well and promptly. As between the two, we will always choose well. That’s the same general answer I hope I’ve [been giving] before.

 

Director Comey’s uptalk is pronounced in this exchange. When noticeable in a teen-aged girl, this voice mask is used to hide her intelligence because she feels compelled to hide any trait that could be a threat to others. In the head of the FBI, it’s super condescending. And he totally insulted “Eric” when he asked rhetorically, “are you ashamed?” Here’s what we know now about Director Comey (but could really have already guessed knowing that he was a US Attorney because they are lawyers who use words as tools and weapons to persuade juries): he can be mean. So, he has that streak of meanness. Now, we haven’t seen him in twenty different situations — we aren’t omniscient either — so we can only make an assessment based on the available data. Plus, he wasn’t mean to Catherine — he was only a little tetchy. The only time he was actually unkind was with Eric. And after all, we might be mean too if we had to keep dealing with idiots who asked stupid questions, especially if they were attempts to put concerns words in our office mouth disguised as questions.

 

So in order to truly gauge his character and make a well-rounded analysis, we need to look at at least two more interactions, with varying power dynamics. In the Pen & Pad briefing, the reporters were subject to him. He was most likely standing at an elevated podium, and they had to get permission to speak to him, to even be in the room. In this next video, he is on an equal level with the person interviewing him — they are both sitting (this is a position of non-dominance, and if the other person is standing, it is a position of subservience) and he was invited to be the interviewer’s guest. And in the third video we’ll look at, he is subject to a Congressional Committee, sitting below the members of a Senate Select Committee, looking up at them (looking up TO them, as a public servant, where the Senate represents the public — or the 37% of the public that bothers to vote in Senate elections).

 

I’ve capitalized or bold/italicized some words that Director Comey speaks, for a specific reason, below the video:

 

 

He says:

“Somebody asked me -uh- in the States about whether I’ve -uh- I think the question was, is the Democratic National Convention a, I forget what the question was, a hard stop for you or is that a key date for you or are you doing this investigation aimed at — and I said, NO. I — we aspire to do all our investigations in two ways: well and promptly. I’m personally close to this investigation because I want to enSURE [pause] that we have the resources, the people, the technology, and the SPACE [pause] to DO those things. And to do it in the way I hope we do ALL our work which is competently, honestly and INDEPENDENTLY. Um, and, I’m CONFIDENT it’s being done that way.”

 

So in communication element 1, the words that are coming out of his mouth, we can hear him say that he’s committed to concluding the investigation well, professionally, above board, the right way, quality over speed, etc, etc. It’s the same party line he’s been repeating for months.

 

But what is he really saying (communication element 2)? He says: I’m personally close to the investigation. Now, as we know, from a logic standpoint, the director of the bureau technically oversees all investigations but he says he’s “close” to it. The word close here is important. He could have said, “I am watching over my agents” or “I am doing everything I personally can to ensure the integrity of the investigation” but he doesn’t.  He says he’s close. What he’s really saying is that he’s close to finishing it. Now why does he mention space? That’s weird. Really weird. You don’t bring up space until you feel like you don’t have enough space, until you feel that your space is being encroached upon. For example, people who say they “need some space.” Space is also a word where his voice mask slips for a split second. Why? Because someone is likely hovering over him or attempting to infringe upon his space, probably someone who would rather the investigation stop.

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS ALL SPECULATION — DON’T FREAK OUT, EVERYBODY. IT’S PSEUDOSCIENCE — IT MEANS NOTHING. FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.

 

Now, to deduce what he’s not saying, the most revealing of all the three elements of communication, we’re going to “do the math” and take all the pressure points or weak spots in his speech, every word or syllable where his mask slips (this is not a face mask, this is a voice mask) and add them together.

 

NO + SURE + SPACE + DO + ALL + INDEPENDENTLY + CONFIDENT

 

We then treat this like putting a ripped up handwritten note back together that is missing some of the pieces. No, we’re not reading it in context, but it could still be a very valuable source of information. The fun part here is that we get to fill in the blanks and move the pieces around into different orders (this also means that we are doing art, not science, and therefore the accuracy rate of our conclusion goes down).

 

So imagine that we heard him say, “No sure space do all independently confident” and we were like, what did he say?

 

There’s no sure space to do it all independently or confidently (?)

OR

There’s no confident space to be sure or all independent (?)

OR, what I think it is,

There is no sure space (secure space); [I’m] doing all (everything) independently and confident [ially].

 

 

Yes, it is a stretch. And we’ll never know if this was the right analysis or not. The only thing we can verify (and I’m happy to be wrong — this is fun for me because I’m often right, but not always!) is that he’s close to being finished with the investigation, from communication element two. I predict it will be August of 2016 when the DOJ finally indicts Hillary.

 

I predict it will be August of 2016 when the DOJ finally indicts Hillary.

 

Additionally, watch his hands when he says he’s close to the investigation — his hands hold — nay, grip! — an invisible object. It’s very close to him indeed. There are other very pleasant aspects of his body language; I’m not going to specify all the indicators in his voice and hand movements and posture, etc, but they mean that he is probably a protective person, a thoughtful person, a person who can be violent sometimes but defensively, not aggressively, that he would not hurt women, that he has some regret (people who don’t feel regret don’t have an intact moral compass — we WANT indicators of regret), that he is very gentle toward children and domestic animals and vulnerable people, also that he’s methodical, logical, reflective, and talkative. Negatives? He likes the sound of his own voice, he likes giving advice and keeping people rooted to the spot while they listen to it because they feel obligated to, is moderately arrogant (the regret off-sets this and neutralizes the effect in his everyday life), is self-righteous, assumes that he is smarter than most people (although there are indicators of high intelligence and an excellent memory so he probably IS smarter than most people). Finally, there is also an interesting indicator of humility: it tells us that there was an event in the recent past where he realized just how powerful his influence on changing the outcome of a situation for the better really is (within the past 5 years, probably 3 years ago).

 

 

Now let’s go to that Hearing on Worldwide Threats, the Senate Select Committee hearing I mentioned earlier, where Director Comey is acting as a public servant and is thus the subordinate one in the power dynamic. Click here and then forward the feed to 1:04:46 to see the opening question from a Senator and then his response.

 

 

There’s no text for me to copy/paste and this hearing is long and sad and boring so suffice it to say, there are more indicators that Comey is logical, methodical, respectful of authority (both kinds, that which is endowed by rank and that which is endowed by We the People), humble, kind, protective of vulnerable peoples, along with new interesting indicators: that he is curious, deferential (he shows the most deference to Jim Clapper in this video; his body language indicates respect and admiration for the DNI), patient (listen to the way he explains concepts to Congress — he goes out of his way to not sound condescending toward them) and also happily married.

 

 

Finally, there was a second exchange Director Comey had with Catherine at the Pen & Pad briefing that really encapsulates my whole conclusion.

Catherine: I’m hopeful that you can answer this one.

Director Comey: Is it Hillary Clinton related?

Catherine: Yeah, but this is a really important issue though.

Director Comey: I don’t doubt that all of your questions are important. I’m just telling you I’m predicting the answer. As short as you can.

Catherine: I actually keep my questions very short (Cute — she knows she’s special and the favorite). [crosstalk 00:56:06] I consistently hear from security clearance holders that if they had done a fraction of what had been done by Mrs. Clinton’s team that they would already be in jail. Can you assure people that Mrs. Clinton and her team are being held to the same standard? That there isn’t a special set of rules because they are powerful and politically connected?

Director Comey: I’m not going to comment (pause) other than to say there are no special set of rules for anybody that the FBI investigates.

 

So, first he says that he’s not going to comment … then he comments — lol. So WHY does he comment? Because his moral compass compels him to. If he really doesn’t say anything (or regurgitates the same old non-answer he gave to Eric), then he’s not denying what everyone already thinks, that people like the Clintons get special treatment and everyone else gets a SWAT team at 4:00 a.m. breaking down the door and terrifying the entire building/block. It annoys him that he even has to say this (because in his ideal Just World it’s a given) but he grudgingly (after a pause) agrees exactly with Catherine’s word choice and echoes her phrasing exactly, “no special set of rules,” and goes beyond that — for anybody the FBI investigates. So now we know he’s idealistic and has an aversion to hypocrisy and bullies. Good! And what else do we know? That he is a person who is compelled by his moral compass. In the end, he will not be able to keep from doing the right thing and seeking justice.

 

So Bernie, you better stay in the race, Senator!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Did you enjoy this body language/word choice analysis? Great! Please let me know on twitter and comment below!

 

***If you are the FBI, I would like a mug, please. An oversized one with the seal on it. You can send it to me at

Sarah Reynolds | 1299 Grand Ave #304 | St Paul, MN 55105

 

****But I would like Hillary indicted more than the mug, so if I have to choose, then the indictment.

 

Tell the @EPA: it’s time to ban #Organophosphates

It’s that time again! The EPA is taking public comments on whether chemicals that cause cancer and are linked to autism and other developmental delays should be allowed on our food! And in our water! Let’s say no  … all over again! Just say no! No means no!

 

Click here, enter your name and address, and click submit OR copy/paste my slightly longer paragraph below into the text box and submit THAT. Also, take 30 seconds if you have time to read the original April 2016 report released by the EPA stating that these organophosphates are killing us, our kids and plants & animals — link at the bottom of the post. THANK YOU!! You earth lover, you.

 

It’s time to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion. These nerve-damaging pesticides put nearly 97 percent of all endangered species at risk of harm, jeopardizing the existence of plants and animals listed under the Endangered Species Act. Multiple scientific research studies link these organophosphates to cognitive delays in children and a host of other detrimental human health effects. The World Health Organization last year announced that malathion and diazinon are probable carcinogens. The EPA should immediately remove them all from use. Please take action on this important issue.

 

 

April 2016 EPA Analysis: 97 Percent of Endangered Species Threatened by Two Common Pesticides

Copy/paste this into your browser for more info: https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/pesticides-04-07-2016.html

Organize & Galvanize: Democracy Awakening 2016!

GUESS WHAT???

This April, thousands will mobilize in Washington, D.C., to spark a Democracy Awakening like never before. From April 16-18, we will gather in our nation’s capital to Rally for Democracy and call for a Congress of Conscience.

 

 

The movements for voting rights, money in politics reform, climate change measures, labor rights, peace, and justice for students, women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community are coming together to deliver a resounding message to our nation’s leaders:

We demand a democracy that works for all of us – where we have an equal voice and elected officials are accountable to the people and the public interest. There will be teach-ins to learn more about advancing voting rights and reforming money in politics (the #GetMoneyOut movement, including the movement to pass a Constitutional Amendment that will overturn the two disastrous Supreme Court decisions, Citizens United vs FEC & McCutcheon vs FEC, which both made it legal to donate unlimited amounts of money to election campaigns — anonymously! (They call it “dark money” for a reason.) AND there will even be a day of real lobbying where we meet with our Senators and Representatives (or their aids) on Monday April 18.

If that’s a vision you want to be a part of, join me in signing up to stay engaged. The Awakening will feature exciting panels and workshops, music, and inspiring speakers and activists like you from around the country, joining together to demand solutions.

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United back in 2010, it undermined the integrity of the vote by allowing billionaires and wealthy special interests to drown out our voices. And in 2013, the Supreme Court dealt democracy another blow when it gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in its Shelby County decision.

We are mobilizing in April to counter these undemocratic rulings and ensure both the right to vote and the integrity of the vote are upheld in this crucial election year.

Our elected officials have yet to act and it’s critical that we hold them accountable.

Whether you care about climate change, racial justice, fair wages or ever-increasing student debt, change is possible only when we stand together.

A coalition of more than 110 groups, from the NAACP to MoveOn.org, the LGBTQ Task Force to the National Organization for Women, the Postal Workers of America to Public Citizen, have jumped on board to make this April action historic. More are joining every day.

Join the fight: click here for more info. It’s a FREE event!

It will take all of us. But together, we’ll awaken the democracy we all deserve.

 

 

Want to send me to DC? Click here!

gofund.me/88u3r5fw

 

Here’s my pitch:

 

 

Thank you for your support!

 

Are you a fighter?

Income Inequality, the Gutting of the Middle and Working Classes, and What We Have to Do Next

 

The evisceration of the union-based job security of the United States Postal Service is the quintessential example of an ongoing social experiment: how much of the middle class chunk of the prosperity pie will the American people allow to be shaved off and redistributed upward? Long time readers and twitter followers know that I often call for the repeal of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. It required the pre-funding of retiree benefits for postal workers who hadn’t even been born yet (which is not required of any other federal agency and without which, the USPS would show a profit every single year) and was designed to bankrupt the Post Office and hand all the Post Office’s business over to UPS and FedEx. USPS jobs are (were) well-paying middle class jobs that never required a college degree; and that is the point. People at the very top of the American wealth pyramid who want our society to transform into a caste system don’t like the idea of people without a college degree earning $50,000 (mail carriers working overtime) or $70,000 (USPS middle management) a year. And other people in the system who are not rich and have seen their jobs shipped to Mexico, India or elsewhere and/or have seen their wages stagnate or decrease over the past 35 years are now working low-level management jobs at $35,000 a year, putting in 60 hours a week and know: this is it. There’s not enough money, not enough time, and I am not going to get ahead. Young people are being offered $11/hour “assistant manager” jobs at 30 hours a week in the same tone one might offer a lottery winnings check and no one is telling them that there was no such thing as an hourly management job that wasn’t full time 20 years ago. It would have been a full time salaried position with benefits — stellar benefits.

 

We could call it a conspiracy. Except it’s being done right out in the open.

 

Now, instead of asking, why is our middle class and our working-class shrinking? And then realizing that both are being deliberately, slowly but surely, eroded through a systematic process of 1) outsourcing, 2) insourcing via H-1B visas that allow our jobs to be taken by people from other countries by moving the people to the job instead of moving the job to the people, 3) turning full time jobs into part time jobs, and 4) turning salaried positions into hourly, we are instead operating in a bubble — the isolation of our own socioeconomic class — and that is what prevents us from seeing that almost everyone else is experiencing a similar or worse situation. But the glue that holds this master plan together? Media reports and corporate mouthpieces that promote a false narrative designed to make the masses feel that someone else is being overpaid. Overpaid because they’re in a union. Overpaid because of affirmative action. Overpaid because they don’t have a degree. Overpaid because they do have a degree but don’t have experience. Overpaid because they work for the government. But it’s happening to everyone. Everyone’s income is declining (except the 1%’s; 95% of all income gains since 2009 went to them — the other 99% saw a net decrease). We just don’t realize it because the strategy — divide & conquer, in order to pit us all against each other — is working.

 

 

 

Think $15/hour is high for a minimum wage? Consider this. It costs what it costs to live. And when people don’t make enough to live (pay for food, shelter and health care), society picks up the difference and its (our) tax dollars subsidize what the poor can’t afford to pay for with their wages.

 

Supporters of the $15/hour minimum wage, you have probably heard the latest complaint, “$15 an hour is really high for an entry level job.” How to respond? “There’s no such thing as an entry level job. The phrase is entry level position. It referred to a now rare opportunity to begin a career in a salaried position with the understanding that one would continue to work one’s way up a corporate ladder, through hard work and promotions, from there. A job is wage based labor. Entry level positions were careers that began with a salaried position of at least $40,000 a year in today’s money, with benefits. At $15/hour, even if a person got scheduled for a full 40 hours a week, 2080 hours per year, today, they would make at most $31,200, and of course wouldn’t, because they would now go into an income tax-paying tax bracket. Even after taxes, that is still enough to disqualify them for food stamps, subsidized housing and subsidized health care. They will not actually have any more disposable income than they do now. They will simply have to spend that additional $15,000 per year on health insurance, rent and food instead of our tax dollars picking up the difference through social welfare programs.”

 

Know why Walmart especially hates the $15/hour movement? Because the way it works now, they get to double dip: pay their employees wages so low that they employees HAVE to go on SNAP, then those same workers use the SNAP to buy food at Walmart! That’s the whole reason the Waltons entered the grocery market by creating Super Walmarts in the first place. And it’s actually even more brilliantly horrific than that: Walmart does whatever it takes to keep their workers part time, in other words, working 20 hours a week at the most to avoid having to offer any kind of benefits whatsoever (especially health insurance). So if one worker works 20 hours a week at $7.25/hour, that’s about $7,540 per year or about $628/month. Now, let’s say this worker is a married woman, and has two children. She could — and probably does — receive the maximum SNAP benefit for a household of 4: $649 (the difference is $138 less if she isn’t married and has 2 kids). She’s going to spend every dime of that at Walmart. Now, Walmart has actually paid her more than $628 per month. They’ve paid approximately $39 on top of that $628 into Social Security, so they’ve paid about $667 to have her work in their store. But they recouped $649 of it from her SNAP. Now, I can’t say what Walmart paid to stock that food — the profit margin on eggs, sugar, and milk is very low, so for the sake of argument, let’s round up and pretend that $649 worth of food actually cost Walmart 60% of the retail price (it didn’t, but let’s make this example as horrifying as we can within the context of knowing that the truth is probably even more horrifying), about $390. The $649 (SNAP amount) – 390 (W’s cost) = $259. So ok, they really only recouped $259. So $667 they paid to have her work part time that month minus the $259 they recouped through SNAP (keeping in mind it was probably more — a lot more) is $408. $408 x 12 months = $4,896. At 20 hours a week, that’s 1040 hours in a year. $4,896 for the year divided by about 1040 hours and they paid her a whopping $4.71 an hour. That’s how much it cost them (and we are rounding UP, way up) to have a woman — systemically impoverished because many many people benefit from the perpetuation of poverty — work in their store. Oh, and you, person who makes $50k/year at your crap job that keeps raising your health insurance premium and as of January 1, raised your deductible to something so high you’re actually praying to God daily that no one in your family gets sick, you paid for her food — and her family’s food. You paid for her health care. Not her health insurance, her health care. Impoverished Walmart worker has no health insurance premium because medicaid doesn’t work that way. The tax dollars just go straight to the provider with no mark up for an insurance company middle man. And Walmart got away with paying slave wages. Because we are being divided and conquered and don’t want someone who stands on her feet all day, carrying and lifting objects to restock shelves and perform other physical labor, to make enough to buy her own food, pay her own rent and afford her own health care.

 

And that, my friends, is the sordid scent of Walmart’s victory.

 

 

This is what it will take to turn things around: demanding a living wage for the poor. This WILL force all employers to increase their wages through upward pressure. The way to demand it is through reminding our elected officials that they work for us and that if they do not do what we want — in this case, increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour — then we will vote for their opponent on election day. Sign every petition that crosses your path. Vote. Vote again. Call your Congressperson. When you hear your family and friends say things like, “that’s a lot of money for a teenager,” remind them that that teenager should be the very lowest on the totem pole of workers and that a living wage will force employers to show preference to workers who are not in high school when hiring, and pay them more than $15/hour. Ask them, when was the last time $31k/year was enough for a person with kids anyway? $15 an hour for a high school student who’s going to work for a maximum of three months a year at more than 20 hours a week (and is poor themselves if they’re working that much, and is probably doing it to save for college) will at the *worst* provide more of an incentive for employers to hire adults. Everyone benefits when everyone has enough money to live and spend and buy cars and houses and save. Yeah, savings accounts!

 

Bottom line: you can make a difference in people’s understanding of what’s happening with income inequality with just a few talking points. Especially in the mind of your congressperson.

Memoirs of a Sigma Female

I have been fascinated for some time with the power dynamics of the pack or tribe and have read with amusement since my early 20’s the slew of PUA (Pick Up Artist) books written by omega males pretending to be alpha males. Hint, wanna-be’s: alpha males don’t look for one-night stands. As in the animal kingdom, they display dominance by regularly protecting and providing for their mate — or multiple mates, concurrently, not consecutively. Omega pick-up artists don’t generate enough income to protect and provide sufficiently for themselves on a regular basis, never mind for a mate and multiple offspring. Having that much income is yet another way the alpha male displays his dominance. (Reader, if you’re wondering why I read these PUA books, it was so I could learn their m.o. and protect myself against such tactics. However, these omega males have a very distinct scent in their sweat so it turns out I never really had to worry about it because I would smell them coming my way before they ever got so much as my name.)

 

 

So over the course of investigating the differences between alpha, beta and omega men, I was exposed to articles and books regarding the characteristics of alpha, beta and omega females as well. I always felt like I was just none of these and wasn’t sure what to make of it (long story short: alphas are hyper confident leaders, betas are loyal worker bees, and omegas are — to be very very frank and oversimplify it way too much — losers). So I started looking more into the traits of actual wolves to discern the real world roles these tribal/pack roles play and found out there was such a thing as a sigma wolf. Sigmas are interesting: in the wild, they find themselves alone because they refuse to accept the authority of the alpha. Ironically, as a lone wolf, the need for survival itself forces them to adapt and to accept the role of alpha that nature thrusts upon them so that they can find a mate. Wolves’ prey is much larger than they are. They need at least one other wolf to help attack and kill dinner in order to eat it. (And you know what happens after dinner, with all that romantic snow and picked-over carcass. SEX. And 2 months later, the beginnings of a new pack. OMG, cute little baby wolves!! SO CUTE!! DYING OVER HERE!!!!!) **Also, I have terribly glossed over the traits and mating patterns of wolves in the wild so there’s that.**

 

 

 

**slightly related tweet about wolves from last month

 

 

Extrapolating that fascinating information, we can see that a sigma human too rejects the ranking and categorizing so prevalent in traditional human hierarchies, but will, in order to survive, “deal with it,” as it were. Sigmas overwhelmingly prefer not to be controlled — in other words, they seek autonomy. But because they have no inclination to control others, they avoid leadership positions. But they can lead. If they absolutely have to. (PUKE. Like during “team playing”! Where one person does all the work but everyone gets credit for it! Guess who does all the work to make sure the team isn’t let down? Yeah, SIGMAS. Fan-freaking-tastic. Avoid groups and group projects like the PLAGUE!) So, ok, I thought, that’s more like me.

 

 

Now, I’ve found that alphas are generally not that bad. Especially alpha females: they like me and I respect them. Alpha males are assholes. Bottom line. Even if they’re good, they’re horrible. Vengeful. Vindictive. Mean. Self-righteous. But they will jump in front of a train if it means the survival of at least two other members of the tribe. So, I guess we all have our bad points. And they reply to that short list of traits with, “True, true, true, true — but I thought you were going to mention my bad traits?” HA HA, so FUNNY, alpha males. Actually, alpha males and females have a great sense of humor and you get points with them for being funny — and for being brave. So if you ever find yourself around one, that’s how you get their protection. (If you *want* their protection — suffice it to say, there are good alphas and bad alphas and the price of their protection will be perpetual loyalty.)

 

And Betas can be decent friends; but they gossip, a lot, and rank and social status are very important to them. And most people are betas. Betas are how we got trends like rolling our jeans and shoulder pads. They will literally do whatever the magazines and the TV tell them to do. They’re not bad people. But then again, is there such a thing as a good or bad person? This blogger says no. There are only good or bad actions — or the worst of all, taking no action when you could have and it would have prevented pain for yourself or others. Betas act when alphas (especially alphas on the TV) tell them to.

 

Omegas are the most detrimental to the happiness and healthiness of everyone in the tribe. They are all the manipulativeness of Alphas, all the gossipy, easily influenced suggestibility of Betas, and all of the resistance to authority of Sigmas — and they can’t stop talking about themselves or complaining about how bad the world is. They personify lost potential. (Alphas would say they never had any to begin with but I don’t know if that’s always true.) When they talk about how fucked up they or their lives are, believe them. When they tell you, that’s just the way it is, life sucks, what are you gonna do, that’s the way it’ll always be, and subsequently you wonder if they ever had a history class, don’t even be tempted to explain that women can vote now and there is no more (legal) slavery in our country, or that things change when masses of people organize to change them. Omegas are rarely operating in reality. So when you point reality out to them, you might as well be speaking gibberish.

 

 

Which brings me to sigmas. Alphas love sigmas because of their usefulness to the tribe which hinges on one primary personality trait, indeed the trait which will define and redefine the trajectory of the sigma’s life’s path over and over again: a sense of obligation. Oh, you’ll miss your daughter’s recital on Sunday if I don’t pick up your shift? Sure, I can take it. What, you’ll lose your driver’s license if I don’t drop you off at the courthouse at 1? Ok … no, no, you don’t need to pitch in for gas. Say again, you need someone to testify at your name change hearing on Friday and I’ll have to use 4 hours of sick pay to do it? There’s no where I’d rather be! No one else can help the tribe avoid total obliteration on Saturday at 2:19 pm? Ok ok, you talked me into it … text me the address. There is a great way to avoid these situations, as the Sigma inevitably learns somewhere in their twenties, and that is to never give anyone their phone number. (True story. What, you don’t like email? Also going car-free when I was 28 took care of 90% of all requests for help. And here I was just trying to stop helping bankroll al qaeda!) But you probably noticed the running theme: a good cause. Sigmas respond to this like flies to honey. But it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, doesn’t it? When you think of the tribe as a single entity, always moving toward survival and away from destruction and/or dying out, the presence of specific members of the tribe who feel a sense of duty to make sure the others are ok or will be ok or won’t end up un-ok is a brilliant back-up plan, an insurance policy personified. If the entire tribe were in a van, sigmas would be the spare tire. They wouldn’t even BE a person — that is how utilitarian they are! (Metaphorically speaking.)

 

 

Now betas are going, but wait, I help out! Do you? Or do you say yes initially and then back out at the last minute and feel TERRIBLY GUILTY about SAYING NO at the same time that waves of relief wash over you? Do you really feel an obligation to do the right thing? Or do you suddenly feel overwhelmed by the possibility of missing an opportunity to show someone of social importance how special they are if your hand isn’t the first in the air when it comes time to volunteer? Betas’ volunteering is offering to set up and take down at the office holiday party. Sigmas are volunteering with Teach for America or the Peace Corps (or serve in the military or with another organization). Visualize this holiday party organization meeting: while the Alpha(s) are “delegating” all the peon tasks to simpering betas, and the omegas are complaining about how stupid and pointless another dumb holiday party without alcohol will be, the Sigmas are busy negotiating for permission to bring the booze. (True story — “But my awesome egg nog recipe just isn’t the same without the brandy. Couldn’t we just have the holiday party at a park? … Ok, that’s probably true … then let’s just have the party at a bar. We won’t need to bring the alcohol, the alcohol will bring us! Ha ha, get it???” “Yeah, we get it, Sarah.”)

 

 

But there’s a much simpler way to identify which tribal role a person plays. Alphas are perfectly happy to have sex with or without love (although they prefer with — but they are the last to know this. Ten years into their [second/third/fourth] marriage, they’re like, oh, yeah, this is better). Betas pretend they prefer with but what is most important to them is approval of the tribe: if the tribe says promiscuity is the way to gain status, they’ll be promiscuous; if the tribe says polygamy is the way to gain status, they’ll have multiple wives; if they tribe says abstinence is the only way to go, look who’s donning a chastity belt. Omegas find their way or are lured into bad sexual situations. It’s as if the batteries in their inner danger detector died and no one ever bothered to replace them. They do sometimes marry another omega but usually they sublimate their procreative urge into a fantasy world where actual responsibility is unnecessary. Second Life comes to mind. This is also why PUA (pick up artistry) is so appealing to more extroverted male omegas — they don’t actually want a relationship. The whole thing is a role-playing fantasy. At the deepest level, they know their chances of being rejected for a one night stand are far lower than for a LTR. And, oh yes, sigmas. Male sigmas would rather pay a prostitute (or sex worker, as they would ideally be called) then lead a woman on under the false pretense that there is any hope for an actual long term relationship. They see the uncanny resemblance between dating and prostitution and would rather pay straight cash for sex than trade dinner and a movie for it. (Which is actually way less degrading to women when you think about it.) And if the alternative is an unhappy fake one, a female sigma would rather be in no relationship. If you aren’t a sigma, imagine for a moment what it would be like to have no procreative compulsion, in other words, no ticking “biological clock.” It’s a freedom that I can’t really explain in words. But when I am around frantic betas or manipulative alphas who can’t stop thinking about how they haven’t gotten married or had kids yet, I feel this amazing sense of relief that I am not like them. This doesn’t mean I won’t ever have kids; it simply means I have no active desire to. I would have to have a very specific lifestyle and very specific type of mate before I risked my happiness and financial security that way. What do you call a job that’s 24 hours a day you can never quit and never get paid for? Were you going to say slavery? Funny — I was going to say motherhood.

 

 

What do you call a job that’s 24 hours a day you can never quit and never get paid for? Were you going to say slavery? Funny — I was going to say motherhood.

 

 

And now, the whole reason I was inspired to write this post. The other night I was quite nearly the victim of a slow-motion ambush by the human version of a pack of wolves at a Starbucks of all places. Middle aged mean girls. As I watched the alpha and her highest ranking beta use their tried and true techniques (meaning, strategies that had worked on beta outsiders in the past), Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Schultz came to mind. They felt entitled to everyone around them bowing to their will. And why? Because everyone around them had in the past. But that night, they picked the wrong woman.

 

I was sitting in the chair on the right that night.
I was sitting in the chair on the right that night.

 

I was sitting in front of the fireplace across from an empty chair when the alpha walked in and sat across from me, her knitting bag in tow. I found out later that she and her Stitch ‘N’ Bitch crew do this at Starbucks locations across the twin cities, but at that moment, I thought she was alone. We said hello to each other (I went out of my way to make sure she knew no one was sitting there and that she was welcome to because I was raised by a sigma mom who taught me to be polite and considerate as a way of preventing war which ensures the survival of more of the tribe). Queen Bee took out her knitting and about 15 minutes later, the rest of the pack began to slowly trickle in. And they pulled their chairs so that they formed a half circle that ostensibly ended with my chair. Here’s a picture of what it looked like after half of them had arrived.

 

At the halfway point. Even more stitchers would arrive.
At the halfway point. Even more stitchers would arrive.

 

I knew it was too good not to photograph and blog about and took the picture above from the register. Then even more knitting mean girls arrived until the point where they literally had me boxed in! Now when I got up to go to the bathroom, the woman sitting in the chair to my immediate left that was keeping me from getting out said, “Oh! I’m blocking you in!” as she remained sitting. Yeah, this sweet submissive beta was feeling really brave in front of her Alpha. I replied, in her exact tone, “Yeah! You totally are!” Oh, Right Hand Beta (the one with her black hair pulled into a bun above) wanted to shoot daggers out of her eyes and into my throat. I wish she had tried.

 

 

Shocked by the combination of my perfect echo of her awfulness and my unwillingness to be group-bullied out of my own chair, Beta Number 5 scurried to get out of my way and moved her chair to the side so I could get out. As you can see in the photo, I had placed my laptop so that it occupied exactly half of the footrest in order to mark my territory. I had been watching “The Blacklist” and had intended to go home after it was over. But as I walked to the bathroom, I knew: I’d stay till every last one of those piles of yarn had left the building. When I came back, Beta Number 5 jumped right up to let me in (I almost gave her a treat for such a compliant display of good manners! She was learning so fast too!) and I sat back down. Alpha said, “Yeah, while you were in the bathroom, we logged into your bank account and took all your money.” Yep. I hadn’t locked my screen to indicate to them that they were zero point zero percent a threat to me. And Alpha didn’t like that. I didn’t even look at her. Please. She was a poorly trained mannerless consumer not a criminal. I put my headphones in and started pinteresting castles. Bun Beta Number 1 would glare at me from time to time and I’d smile sweetly. Then, hilariously, she put her Samsung on the two inch border that Alpha and I had left open on the footrest. I realized that she is likely an alpha in her workplace and in her other circle of friends — in my peripheral vision, I noticed that she barely actually knitted and compulsively checked her phone (like an alpha, not like a beta). But in this pack, she was not an equal to the woman sitting across from me. Also, she used some very alpha strategies to get me to leave. In addition to regularly staring at me, she started talking very loudly. (In other words, I could hear her over the music I was listening to which I already had up to max volume.)

 

 

Now at this point, more mean girls/adult women started showing up. I didn’t count but I want to say 10. And if you notice in the picture, Alpha and Bun Beta are the only two in the special soft chairs; everyone else sat in a hard chair. As all the newcomers sat on my side (instead of a few of them sitting over by A & B), I realized that this was a strategy they’d used before, to literally make their prey feel surrounded and run. So fucking mean.

 

 

So guess what I did. I pulled up the guillotine/beheading episode of Criminal Minds (“Drive”) and angled my laptop out so that that group of 8 women could clearly see it and put it on full screen (my laptop is 18 inches wide — don’t worry, I had my headphones in). How long do you think it took before they angled their chairs away so that they formed their own haphazard circle of 8, separate from Alpha and Bun Beta completely? 7 minutes. BOOM. So for the next two hours (I watched another episode of CM afterwards), the 8 women knitted to my left in one group while the leaders talked only to each other on the other side (there was a third woman who joined them halfway through but she didn’t stay long). Around 9, they disbanded, and after every one of them had left, I learned a bit more about their pattern from some people who’d witness their behavior before and discovered that the mean girls do this to whoever is sitting at the fireplace, every Friday night.

 

 

Well, good! I’ll see them again next Friday! Looking forward to it.

 

 

Finally, isn’t it fascinating how terrible people can be? How one strong personality can override even the basic manners and etiquette training your parents instilled in you in childhood? I thought of that sweet beta (Beta Number 5) who moved her chair for me and knew she had parents who would be shocked if they saw her treating a stranger as rudely as she treated me. But that’s pack mentality. One strong leader can bring out either the best or the worst in a small group, a big group, a country, or even the world.

 

Did you like this post? Want more alpha | beta | omega | sigma posts in the future? Please comment below!

 

Why is the Millennial Face of ALEC a trolling misogynist lying bully named @WilliamFreeland?

**Warning, strong language ahead

 

Dear ALEC (that’s @ALEC_states on twitter),

 

Why is the millennial face of your organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council, William Freeland, who is also subject to delusions of grandeur and makes outlandish claims for which he provides no evidence, a trolling misogynist lying bully?

 

I get it — people are rude and unkind. Yes, I’ve lived on Earth more than a decade; I know the drill. It also makes 100% sense to me that you would have trolls in your employ who would be specifically assigned the task of illogically, relentlessly, insultingly, crudely and also, for the sake of variety, passive-aggressively engaging and attacking anyone who criticizes your master plan to target state legislators and inspire them to act as human roadblocks by standing in the way of any of American society’s attempts to prevent climate change, protect workers rights, and end the United States’ dependency on foreign oil. It’s a brilliant strategy you’ve designed and I always give credit where credit is due. Kudos, ALEC. Focusing on the local level is noticed less, by fewer people, is talked about less, by fewer media outlets, and entails far less resistance from voters. Who turns out for local elections anyway? (Insert rhetorical group laughter here. No, make that the sound of chortling.) And trolls are the perfect complement to your national strategy: they misinform, they confuse, and thus they systematically divide and conquer the general population. The confused mind shuts down, turns the channel, closes the newspaper, seeks distraction such as “reality” TV, facebook, and instagram, and logically focuses instead on things it does understand: parenting, eldering, working, working out, dating, partying, going to school, paying bills, running errands — all activities that are easy to check off the list if only because they have been completed so many times before and have become habitual. And most strategically, the confused mind will feel morally justified in saying, “I didn’t vote because I didn’t really understand the issues.”

 

Most strategically, the confused mind will feel morally justified in saying, “I didn’t vote because I didn’t really understand the issues.”

 

Most people’s moral compass — fully intact, despite a muddled mind — causes them to see voting from a place of confusion as a kind of fraud, as a type of lying or cheating that’s “just not right,” and thus not an act of dishonesty they can approve of taking part in. In other words, the person who doesn’t show up to the polls on election day who can honestly say, “well, I don’t watch the news [guilt guilt guilt] — that’s why I didn’t vote. I don’t even know the issues,” feels that they’re doing the right thing by staying home! Little do they realize that they are being bombarded with “news,” all the time, conflicting reports filled with mis- and dis-information. Which is why they avoid it. It leaves them confused and feeling guilty that they don’t know what to think. Voting? They don’t feel they deserve such a privilege if they haven’t earned it by studying up on the issues. And the cycle perpetuates itself. Oh, yes, ALEC, you are admirably and masterfully implementing your plan. And confusing the masses is the glue that holds all the pieces of that plan together.

 

 

But ALEC, your trolls are supposed to be better trained. They’re supposed to pee only on the paper and not splash any vitriol on the company. You see, William Freeland isn’t just a super troll, he works for you. It says ALEC is his employer on his linkedin page. So when he lies, bullies, tells a woman who calls him a cunt that she is projecting onto him (yes, unbelievable — that’s why I took a screenshot of it in case he deletes the tweet), and egregiously makes false claims and baseless accusations, it’s so odd that you would divert from a working strategy that uses anonymized trolls and instead veer into unwise territory by associating an identifiable, google-able troll directly with you, your organization, and your reputation. Trolls are supposed to operate covertly. The way he tweets on twitter like a baby screaming for attention from its crib — nonstop and incoherently — and then turns around and reveals that you are his employer makes you look bad. Very bad. Like, surprisingly bad. Unexpectedly unprofessional and uncouth.

 

That is all.

 

Sincerely,

Sarah Reynolds

 

 

Ok, dear social justice activists, enough of my chit-chat with ALEC. Here come all of the lies, the insults, the screaming for attention, the deflection, the misogyny, the outrageous baseless claims and most interestingly, the fear once William Freeland realizes he has backed himself into a corner.

 

Starting with the original tweet of mine that William Freeland started trolling me on:

 

 

 

 

 

 

*At this point, I was like, what? Who — whaaaaa? I tweeted at him first? Obsessively tweet about him? Daily? Now, if you know how to win a troll war (I got this from Sun Tzu of course), the key is to never contradict an obvious lie right away when you can easily disprove it later. Instead, let the troll think they have the upper hand by not objecting — they will dig their own hole even more deeply, even more quickly and you will win faster. (Wait till you find out what he was actually referring to! That he works for ALEC. So he was conflating my tweets about ALEC with tweets about him! Yes! I know! And ALEC pays him real money! To represent them! In public!)

 

 

 

Oh! So he finally clarifies and reveals that he works for ALEC!! But the best is the way he says it: “I, of ALEC, was terrifying …” LOL!! And then he insults me and assumes I am a garden variety Daily Kos reading, tea drinking stereotype. LOVE IT!! He has never clicked on the link to my blog (in my twitter profile) once! But do I contradict him?  No, as Sun Tzu says, “Never contradict a troll. Don’t give him any reason to put down the shovel!! Let him dig his own grave.” Or, actually, that might have been Churchill. So I merely point out — again — that even though I’m so disgusting to him, he keeps following me. Why?

 

 

 

 

 

So at this point, he has called me deranged and obsessive twice (the second time is where he quotes his own tweet, just above). Deranged!! Really? Does he not realize how illogical he’s being? I mean, it’s not even an insult. He could have called me a doorknob and it would have made as much sense.

 

 

 

Now at this point, a well-meaning follower tries to tell me to stop engaging with the troll; watch how William reacts. Note that he specifically tells me what to do: that will be relevant later.

 

 

And now back to the main thread. I had just tweeted, “But you seemed so certain before that you had a claim against me” (yes, that’s the crappy part of creating these blogposts with embedded tweets; tweets would be best visually displayed in the shape of a family tree but blogposts are linear). And he replies:

 

 

This is what, the second or the third time he’s called me confused. And of course it’s “sad” — he wants me to know how much he pities me. That would trigger a defensive reaction in most people (which is what he wants it to trigger in me, too) but for me, his word choices just provide me with additional insight into his shadow self.

 

 

He doesn’t reply to that, but in picking back up on his recommendation that I “bow out” (because remember, he’s in the habit of commanding people to roll over and display submission because he has an inferiority complex and this is how he attempts to assert dominance and leverage control over others), I simply redirect, circling back to the point, which is, if I am truly deranged and obsessive, as he claims, then he should clearly file a complaint with Twitter Support, with evidence to back up this outlandish accusation:

 

 

Oh! He doesn’t like to be told what to do? He certainly likes to tell others what to do! Oh, and note how much it irritates him, especially coming from a woman!

 

 

 

And that leads us to the final tweet of this exchange, where I once again ask him what it is about me that compels him to follow me despite my alleged derangement.

 

He refused to answer my question not once but three times, which is how I won the twitter war (whoever is the first to stop replying is the loser in a twitter war).

 

That tweet had nothing to do with you and didn’t mention you. Yet you favorited it.

 

I tweeted that (“Twitter family, you are the best” — at the very top of the image above) because so many of my followers came to my defense during the trolling and let William know how horrible he was being to me. And if you guessed that he was just as terrible to them, you guessed right. Even more terrible. Just a few examples:

 

And he actually tells her, “Don’t project” — that’s it’s “unbecoming.”

 

This is how pathologically passive-aggressive he is. He attacks people and baits them, attacks and baits. That’s his M.O. Then they call him a name and like the prepared predator he is, instantly he readily explains, oh no, you’re projecting. It is amazing — nay, mind boggling — that ALEC would affiliate itself for a millisecond with a man who would tell a woman that she is projecting cunt traits onto him. And of course, he can say, “Well, she called me a cunt first. She was asking for it.”

 

ALEC, if you don’t know you’ve got a serious liability on your hands, you are far far less intelligent than I first gave you credit for.

 

And here he insults another friend of mine — for what? She doesn’t even attack him, she just says she disagrees:

 

 

And then this:

 

 

 

And here’s where he freaks out when I tweet that ALEC ought to know what kind of person they have representing them on Twitter (these are not all part of a thread so they’re not all embedded in a particular order).

 

 

 

 

 

LOL, I never called him a cunt nor did I tell him it was unbecoming of him to project onto me when he called me confused, deranged and obsessed multiple times. (Because I think he is none of those things; I think he is mean and a bully. And a liar and a misogynist.)

 

More hilariosity: it’s no more libelous for me to call him a lying bullying misogynist than for him to call me a deranged, confused, obsessed progressive intelligentsia operative (next paragraph). Although, at least there’s evidence for my claims. He flat out lied about me tweeting about him daily – ha!! That was the most entertaining part, his conveniently leaving out the fact that it is ALEC I tweet about (not him) and not daily. A brief twitter search showed me that it’s usually about twice a month that I tweet a series of 10 to 15 #StopALEC tweets.

 

 

And I saved the best part for last. William accuses me of being on the payroll of the liberal elite here:

 

 

HA! You know when they say you really know you’re living your passion when you’d do what you’re doing for free? Well, guess what, that’s bullshit. You won’t end up doing it “for free” — you’ll pay for it. Twice. With your time and your money. I pay for this website (it’s cheap, $30 twice a year because I have the wordpress upgrade), the postcards and stamps for my Postcarding for Progress meetup, equipment for making videos, and on and on. And I spend hours on twitter and hours blogging (for example, this post itself has literally taken hours just to finish all this godawful embedding of tweets), hours I can’t (or in truth, choose not to) spend doing anything else. And I take orders from no one. And that means I receive money from no one.

 

I almost replied, “Yeah right, on my $373/week unemployment benefit” but I couldn’t truthfully say that because my 26 weeks of unemployment insurance ended last month. YEAH. I used to have a day job as a debt collector. I am not a political operative, never have been, and no one directs my tweets, and I am the only one who tweets in my name.

 

 

 

 

Multiple people? Which of my tweets ever indicated that? And as far as being part of a progressive microcosm, clearly William never took 30 seconds to read my self-description on this blog or to spend a minute perusing my posts. I call myself a progressive patriot *because* I have views that aren’t necessarily liberal (like going back on the gold standard) and because the Bill of Rights is so important to me. I wish I could make money off my passion. I made over a hundred videos in as many days on youtube in 2014 and they never got more than 25 or 30 views each; my goal was to monetize my channel so I could have a source of income besides a day job, and ultimately instead of one. (I just had to accept that I am not that interesting, or at least not interesting enough for people to hit “subscribe.”) The bottom line is I don’t represent anyone but myself and I do not get money to tweet. And to that end, I am going to post my Unemployment Insurance benefits history right now. As my regular followers know, I went back to school this past fall. When I was laid off back in May, I found out that I qualified for the Dislocated Worker Program because of how many employees at our site were laid off at the same time (or some reason like that — it’s a state program that disburses federal funds for education and MNDEED told me I qualified for it). This was such a gift, such an unexpected opportunity to go back to college after dropping out when I was 18, a true second chance. And I am so proud of myself for taking the leap and going back after 16 years out of the classroom; as of January 4, I can officially say I have 12 college credits to my name.

 

Don’t worry, I’ll be getting student loan money in Feb.
The first two weeks in May I received severance pay from my old employer.
The first two “non-eligible” weeks I received severance pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus I know someone who sometimes makes donations to the “Keep Sarah Caffeinated” Fund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(This is not to say I don’t accept gifts — just make sure you clearly write GIFT in the memo line of the check or money order you send me or else it will screw up my FAFSA next school year.)

 

 

Finally, I want to say that one of the people I admire most is Ralph Nader who wrote, “Unstoppable: The Emerging Left–Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.” I know well that people are far more comfortable with labels like red or blue or right or wrong or democrat or republican and that is not me. There have been times I lost followers for retweeting Justin Amash or Rand Paul on 4th Amendment issues and there have been just as many times I lost followers for criticizing Hillary on her psuedo-feminism and Wall Street ties. I am not interested in being divided and conquered and falling prey to anyone’s agenda, especially not ALEC’s. Trolls, consider this very fair warning. If you tread your self-righteous way into the quagmire of my twitter timeline, be very prepared to get stuck there.

 

 

 

January 7th update!! William thanked me for this blogpost! What, no more accusations of libel? Well, fantastic! It’s great to know he approves of my analysis of his underlying motivations and commensurately approves of my analysis of ALEC’s two part strategy to use both anonymized and identified trolls to spread confusion as the glue that holds their Divide & Conquer strategy together. Further, it is delightful to feel his gratitude amidst the certainty that he has no objections regarding the accuracy of any of the claims in this post!

 

 

 

 

Oh, and William, one more thing. I know you said in one of your tweets that your mom is a good person and I believe that. It was most likely your father or another father figure who, while you were growing up, made you constantly feel that you weren’t good enough. But I don’t believe that your mom would be proud of the way you treat people you’ve never even met. I can’t imagine a scenario where she reads your tweet to Sharon and doesn’t shake her head, ashamed of the way she didn’t protect you from an overbearing father or stepfather who taught you by example that it was okay to use words as weapons to constantly attack women. You’re being used by ALEC. Ask her if you don’t believe me. It’s not too late of course to make a new decision. You certainly have plenty of drive you could channel into a libertarian cause that is organized by people who don’t hate women. I hope you will.

 

 

Feeling Patriotic? Protest Tyranny and Absolute Monarchy: Buy an Electric Car

Feeling patriotic? Sell your gas-guzzling absolute monarchy-funding, human rights tragedy-perpetuating car and buy an electric car! Let’s all stop voting with our dollars for public beheadings, public lashings, internet censorship, repression of speech, an absence of an independent free press, and woman-hating kings who make life a fascist regime hell for their subjects in Saudi Arabia by donating to their cause every time we purchase gasoline.

 

 

I’ve said before that we vote in three ways, first with our actual ballot at the polls; second, with our dollars, with which we vote affirmatively for all the laws and policies of the government of the country the product is manufactured in when we buy it; and third, with our time, minutes and hours we spend assenting to the practices of the major corporations who create our news, our television, our music, and our books, by spending that time reading/watching/listening to it (to say nothing of the free advertising we give away every time we wear branded clothing/shoes/handbags, etc.). And because we get to vote at the polls once a year at the most, we technically do much more voting with our time and money — especially when we pay our taxes, in which case we re-vote, and confirm the presence of every member of Congress, and second their every legislative move.

 

 

This is why it’s so important to sign petitions and write to Congress regularly, reminding them that they work for us and promising them that we will fire them next election day if they don’t do what we want. Hey, that’s how lobbyists do it. It’s an incredibly effective strategy. Less than a third of eligible voters turned out last mid-term election — how many voters would you guess actually picked up the phone and called their one Rep and two Senators? Guarantee lobbyists picked up the phone. Multiple times. And showed up in person.

 

 

So every time we fill our cars up with gas, we are voting with our dollars for the laws and policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most American gasoline’s country of origin. Now, I was ten during the first war in Iraq, the Gulf War that began in 1991, and I remember my mom calling me downstairs to watch President George H W Bush on the TV in the family room so that she could teach me the body language of lying. As he yammered about how urgent it was to declare war (a declaration that started the instability in Iraq we are still fighting today; people often refer to our 2003 invasion as the impetus, but this blogger suggests that our 1991 invasion is a better historical peg), my mom said to me, “You’re watching the President of the United States lie to the American people on live national television. Now, I want you to watch his face.” Now in my little SNL’d brain, I immediately thought of Dana Carvey and his brilliant impression of Bush the first, and my mom, anticipating this, told me it was not time to improve my comedy routine; it was time to learn the facial ticks and speech blips of liars. (I put my GHWB hand gestures back into my pockets and put “Not gonna do it” firmly out of my head.) So she says, “Now, Sarah Louise, there are people who lie, people who lie pathologically, and people like this man who look straight into the camera when they lie. No compunction whatsoever.” (Me: “What’s compunction?” Mom: “No qualms.” Me: “What’s a qualm?” Mom: “Jesus, Sarah, what do I look like, a human dictionary?” Me, nodding sweetly: “Yep.” Later she made me look up compunction and qualms in the big dictionary in the dining room. Thanks, mom.) After the address from the Oval Office was over, we talked (she talked, I listened) a bit more about the nature of someone who could feel gratified by getting away with deceiving millions of people and how they are few and far between in every day life but very frequently found in people who occupy positions of authority in government.

 

 

Now, this was a game we played with lots of public figures on the glowing oracle-box of truth (the TV) over the years; for example, a year later, we would watch the Bush/Perot/Clinton debates together and she would tell me that the difference between George H W Bush and Bill Clinton was that Clinton actually believed his own lies. But that night, on the eve of Desert Storm in 1991, she just wanted to me to know that the most important thing to remember about the United States’ involvement in the Middle East was that it was about oil. Period.

 

 

Long story short, our military protection of the Saudi regime is how we protect our access to cheap, readily available oil.

 

 

If your next question is why, let me be the first to admit that Abby Martin’s answer rivals the one my mom gave me twenty-five years ago. (Ok, truth: Abby’s 27 minute answer is so thorough, so concise, and so well-researched that it is actually better than my mom’s — and if my mom were alive, she would love Abby Martin and agree.) The historical perspective provided in the episode of the Empire Files embedded below tells you everything you need to know, going all the way back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. And it makes it very very clear that our “dependence” on oil is actually the Saudi monarchy’s dependence on US consumption of their oil. But, long story short, the answer to “why?” is that our military protection of their regime is how we protect our access to cheap, readily available oil.

 

 

 

 

This is a paradigm 100% in our power to change. We don’t have to buy gas. We don’t have to vote with our dollars for monarchs who believe it’s okay for women to vote as long as the men they live with and are financially dependent on give them permission to leave the house. We don’t have to collectively prop up a regime that denies due process (what courts? oh, secret courts with “private” trials), a regime that beheads people for stealing, for being gay, and for objecting to abuse of power by the government and protesting that injustice in public, in print or online, a regime that lashes women for being raped (yes, a woman who is raped will receive more public lashings than her rapist), a regime that is destined to be overthrown. And it knows it. As Abby Martin points out in her brilliant withering expose, the House of Saud is scared — and they should be. History hasn’t been kind to kings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, please sign this petition asking the UN to remove Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council:

Click on the image to go to the petition.
Click on the image to go to the petition.

 

 

**Brief Aside: I managed to find the No Compunction, No Qualms speech from 1991 on youtube. Watch it here. Notice GHWB trip up on the word diplomatic starting at the 53 second mark. No, flubbing a word isn’t always an indicator of dishonesty. In this case it is.

 

 

**Second brief aside: Have you ever watched the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Try watching it again with this whole new additional perspective.

 

 

Also, this: http://www.theforeignservicemn.com/electric_ford_ranger/index.php

 

Why does AT&T have the WORST customer service ever? @ATT

The tweets below will speak for themselves but suffice it to say, I am officially at war with AT&T. I have been a customer of theirs so long that I can’t even remember if it was 2004 or 2005 that I switched to them, and in October of 2008, I bought my first iphone on an unlimited data plan, meaning a flat monthly fee for unlimited internet access. They have been throttling my internet and not loading the page while I watch the spinning wheel indefinitely for several years; from time to time, I would call and complain and they would lie to me and say it was just that time of the day when service might be slower and make excuses, etc, ad nauseum.

 

And the FCC knew they were lying too. Which is why, back in June, the FCC fined AT&T to the tune of $100 MILLION for being so full of shit. And as you will soon read in my tweets below, AT&T at first forced their customer service reps to respond to any customer who brought that up with a party line: AT&T is contesting the fines. In July, they even claimed that their actions caused no harm to any customers and that the big bad government was violating their 1st Amendment rights (HA HA HA HA HA HA!) by forcing them to disclose that they actually do throttle data. Then apparently, in September, someone with a law degree thought better of their original idiocy-based strategy/argument and decided they would simply update their website with a disclosure that data really isn’t unlimited and by the way the new threshold is 22 GB. Prior to the FCC intervening, AT&T was throttling anything over 5GB – to put it in perspective, I use about 7 GB a month. And if you’re wondering, “What? Unlimited data?? Sign me up!” I’m sorry to say that they stopped offering this plan; I am considered “grandfathered in” – I know this because every time I have gone into the store to get a new phone, the salesreps tell me to hold on to that plan for dear life because no one else is getting that good of a deal (then I tell them it doesn’t matter how good it seems if in reality, AT&T throttles my data; and then they reluctantly admit that I have a point without admitting that AT&T is throttling).

 

BUT THEY ARE STILL THROTTLING. THEY ARE STILL THROTTLING MY DATA AFTER 5GB.

 

So here’s the deal, AT&T, every time you do this, I’m going to tweet it and add that tweet to this page. And I’m going to tweet this blog post every night. And soon it will be the first result in any google search for why you are so terrible. (The only good thing about AT&T is that all their customer service rep call centers are in the US, unlike Comcast’s, whose business model is predicated on good living wage jobs getting outsourced overseas.)

 

Now let’s go back to June of this year. On June 28, I learned about the FCC putting the federal smack down and tweeted my gleeful reaction. Then on June 30, AT&T sent me a text survey asking me how likely I would be to recommend them to family and friends. My response was a link to the Tweet of Glee. See below.

 

 

Now this may have pissed someone off because the next day my service was like molasses. Even when they throttled me, I could still tweet and my new email would load, I just couldn’t search the internet. But that day, July 1, my email wouldn’t refresh and I couldn’t access any websites using safari either. So I called tech support and read the rep the WaPo headline about the $100 mill over the phone to her, basically saying, the government said you can’t do this to me so, hey, I know, why don’t you stop:

 

 

I also told her I’d be tweeting our WHOLE conversation, everything she said to me. So what did AT&T do? Completely cut my service off. Instantly. No twitter. No email. No internet. So I run with the phone in my hand on speaker to the laptop in my kitchen. AT&T probably thought I was out and about or at work and wouldn’t be able to do anything about not having access to twitter on my phone. Watch what happens:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this all went down two months before AT&T made the wise decision to update their policy and stop having their reps parrot the party line about “disputing the FCC’s fines” but they are still throttling. And how this all came to a head – me finally pissed off enough to write this blogpost – was when I was trying to google a phone number the day before yesterday and not being able to get any search results because of throttling. This was not an emergency, but it really put it into perspective for me, the gall of that kind of greed: there I was in an unpleasant part of town, needing google, and needing it right now. The reason I have stayed with AT&T all these years is because their range is greatest, meaning, I can be in an elevator and have reception, or in a basement. When everyone else has no bars, I still have at least one. To me it’s a matter of safety, but if they’re going to throttle my access to the internet anyway, range becomes more and more of a moot point. So I called customer service and the rep I spoke to was literally silent to me on the other end of the phone when I asked for a supervisor. He actually wouldn’t transfer me until I told him I needed his name and that I would be tweeting everything he said to me. He then gave me his name and finally transferred me to not-a-supervisor who then said she’d have a real supervisor call me back in ten minutes. No one ever did.

 

Here’s how that conversation went:

 

 

 

 

 

Then later that night was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And this kind of throttling is just reprehensible, plain and simple. AT&T, how dare you. How fucking dare you. You don’t know what kind of situations people are in or where they need to go or how fast they need to leave. FUCK YOU. Fuck you.

 

 

 

And what if there’d been no wifi open around me? Jesus!

 

So how does this end? For starters, look for a video of me calling the FCC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the near future to find out what action I can take next. AT&T, you trolled me. And if you think you can troll me without consequence, think again. Every time you violate our agreement that you will provide me unlimited data in exchange for my money, I will tweet it. And I will then add it to this blog post. And I’ll be tweeting this blog post every single day.

 

 

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

Wanna Bet? $20 says Donald Rumsfeld dies in prison, convicted of war crimes

 

A twitter follower doubts my prediction of eventual justice for alleged war criminal Donald Rumsfeld.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you doubt my premonitory ability too? Vote in my poll!

 

Bernie, I want you to win: An Open Letter to @BernieSanders from a Millennial Who’s Reading the Writing on the Wall

Dear Bernie Sanders,

 

My name is Sarah, I’m a millennial who voted for Obama twice, and I see you being railroaded by a media who refuse to acknowledge you as a legitimate Presidential candidate and the only Democrat candidate who can win the general election. I have previously blogged about Hillary Clinton’s lack of electability, and unlike her followers who are literally blind to her flaws, I am not only aware of hers, I see a few of yours as well. And I want you to win the Dem nomination because if you don’t, I feel very strongly that we will be looking at a President Bush or Trump thirteen months from now. Writing an open letter to her would be a waste of time because her greatest flaw is a sense of entitlement that causes her to think in terms of how much she deserves to be president instead of how much work it requires to earn votes. You, on the other hand, know all too well how hard the fight ahead will be. You’ll have to fight tooth and nail, not only against your opponents and the superpacs but against the media itself who have already decided you can’t win. I think you can win by implementing a few specific strategies. But the number one demographic you need to start concentrating on right away is the Millennials.

 

 

Here a Millennial, there a Millennial, Everywhere a Millennial

 

There are more millennials than boomers!
There are more millennials than boomers!
And more millennials than every other generation!
In fact, there are more millennials than each of the other generations.

It turns out that there are more Millennials alive than Baby Boomers, (87 million compared to 76 million) and now that we’re all officially old enough to vote, we are the most influential demographic politically (notice that no major news outlets are rushing to announce this). This means that Millennials need to get registered to vote so every time you’re on TV, Senator, don’t waste an opportunity to remind us to if we aren’t already. And, point out that in 31 states and in Washington, DC, people must be either registered *as a democrat* in order to vote for you, Bernie, or they must declare their party affiliation at the polls. (Click here to find out if your state is one of them.) Hey, fellow Millennials, think having to declare loyalty to a political party, in and of itself part of the divide-and-conquer-method, is a load of steaming cow pie? You’re not alone; lots of millennial, gen x-er and Boomer lawyers agree. I have talked to a few and apparently it will take a series of lawsuits against individual secretaries of states (but we have to be careful which states we start with) for infringing on our 1st Amendment right to free speech. The argument will go something like this: if I am prevented from voting for someone on a ballot because I have not registered with my secretary of state as a member of a certain political party, then I am being prevented by that state government from “speaking” my support for a particular candidate. Now if you think that’s a stretch, keep in mind that when Citizens United vs the FEC (federal campaign commission) and McCutcheon vs the FEC were each heard by the Supreme Court regarding whether or not money is speech, those sage robed upholders of our constitutional rights decided that money IS speech! (Obviously, money buys volume or silence, it is not in and of itself a type of expression, for crying out loud.) So if money is speech, voting is definitely speech. And how about our right to privacy also being violated by making us disclose to the secretary of our state which party we intend to vote for? Bernie, those two issues would be a great thing to bring up during the debates.

 

 

 

What’s a democratic socialist?

Do we really need a fly on the wall of HRC’s war room to guess she’s rubbing her hands together and grinning, “Berrrrnie. Sannnnders,” then leaning forward on her throne to command her minions, “Destroy him”? Do we actually need someone to secretly screenshot her whiteboard and tweet the image of the hashtag thereon, #OperationRedSmear? No, we don’t. We just need to acknowledge that it’s probably already begun. By saying that you are a democratic socialist (or, to put it another way, admitting that you are one), Hillary probably sees you walking into a trap of your own making. For example, you say something like, “with a small transaction tax on high frequency stock trades, we could pay for socialized health care, just like in Canada and France, or fund college tuition at all public universities at no charge to students.” She’ll grin into the camera (amused at your ignorance), announce this isn’t Denmark! and then shake her head back and forth condescendingly (pitying your ignorance). Then she’ll pounce and declare: sometimes we need to save capitalism from itself, [everything up to this point she’s already done] conflate socialism with communism, use nasty throwback trigger words like “Marxist” and “the USSR,” and you’re going to lose, sir.

 

Now, the only day we can go back to is today.  So let’s rewrite that chapter right now.

 

 

“Senator, what’s democratic socialism?” Here’s where it’s really important to answer the question, directly, before you go off on your trademark soapbox style “Bernie Sanders says NO to Wall Street’s greed” tangent. We love those tangents; we love them because they indicate passion, idealism, and confidence. Those aren’t the problem. You know what a tell is in poker? Well, your unwillingness to just put it out there, what democratic socialism is, tells us that for some reason, you aren’t quite comfortable with your fondness for it, or perhaps the discomfort is with dem-soc itself. Here’s your usual way of answering the question:

 

 

That’s right, you tell us what dem-soc means, to you, connotatively, instead of denotatively. Hillary will eat that right up, like butterscotch pudding, Bernie. When you don’t answer a question directly, you look like you’re trying to hide something or that you can’t handle the question. I want you to win; that’s why I want to tell you how I think HRC will turn this hesitation around and use it against you. I think she’ll interrupt you talk over you say, “Senator Sanders, why don’t you just admit it? It means there’s voting but the means of production are socialized. And we all know that’s a stone’s throw away from communism.” So I want you, as part of a premeditated strategy to appeal to the large number of libertarian millennials whose interest you have already piqued, to be the first to reference the Bill of Rights in your answer.  So here is one way you could define democratic socialism in a forthcoming way that does the most damage control:

 

Democratic Socialism is where you have a democratic political system, where people vote just like we have now, and a socialist economic system. Now, when the economic system is socialized, it doesn’t mean it has to be run by the government – there are probably people out there who belong to a co-op, and if you do, you know the profits are socialized, meaning spread out among all the members, everybody gets a dividend at the end of the year. But it often does mean state-run programs. And the truth is we already have tons of socialized — meaning government run, in this case — programs in our country. The FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the military, our entire Justice System. Do our judges get paid per decision or per trial? Do our FBI agents get paid per case? No, they all get paid on salary so there is no motivation for them to serve anyone’s interests but the American people’s.  (Later, you could tie that into why you co-sponsored the Stop Outsourcing Security Act.) And let’s not forget the bailouts; a taxpayer bailout is known as socializing a loss — instead of spreading the profit or benefit around, we spread the loss around. People will tell you we have a capitalist system but not only do we already have a ton of socialized services that benefit everyone, like our national security apparatus, already in effect, the negative effects of the casino capitalism, they don’t trickle down, they flood down. All those bets Wall St made? When they lose, the taxpayer picks up the tab. That 2008 TARP bailout under President Bush? It was $700 billion. Divide that by the population of the US at the time: 309,557,862.  That works out to be $2258 for every man woman and child in the country. Now how much did you pay for your health insurance last year? In student loan payments? In credit card payments? Crony capitalism’s gambling losses are always socialized, but when they make a killing on the stock market and we ask them to pay the same tax rate on capital gains as other income, they balk! Now, obviously, we have a constitutional republic (this phrase is a trigger phrase for libertarians) and one democratic socialist president is not going to undue the system of checks and balances designed by the framers of the constitution, and I wouldn’t want to. The Bill of Rights is designed to protect us from a corrupt government. But the income inequality in this country, where 95% of all income gains since 2009 have gone to the top 1%, where only 2% of this country makes more than $250,000 a year, is scandalous. Only 5% of Americans make more than $150,000 a year. The founders wanted the Bill of Rights to protect us from a corrupt government but they could never have imagined we’d need just as much if not more protection from a corrupt Wall Street.

 

imageEmphasize that socialism has nothing to do with corrupt fascist regimes. If anyone asks you if you are a Marxist, say, “No, Marx advocated the abolition of private property; that kind of extremist ideology has no place in our country.” If you don’t believe that, start practicing in the mirror now. You will be asked. The GOP is just waiting to accuse you of it. But Hillary will be worse. She will say, “the rich need to pay their fair share” but then refuse to pick an income level or an income tax percentage that corresponds to her vision of “fair.” Instead, she’ll use your desire for high income tax rates on high income as evidence of you being “out of touch.” Point out that during the 1950’s and early 60’s, the top bracket income tax rate was over 90% and the economy boomed.

 

 

Pot

Thank you for getting totally real on marijuana; more than half of Americans support legalizing marijuana (58% according to Gallup’s Oct 2015 poll) and an overwhelming majority of millennials do. But HRC is going to pounce on this issue because even though more than half of Americans support legalization, they are not the half you can count on to go register to vote in advance or make sure they’ve declared a party affiliation. So, here’s how you could play it. You want marijuana to be legal not only because the drug war is imprisoning young people instead of the banksters (this is deflecting, by the way, and Hillary will hone in on that like a predator drone) but because prohibition doesn’t work. It doesn’t make sense. Did prohibition of alcohol work? No, but a massive campaign against drunk driving and drinking while pregnant have worked. Why not legalize pot and put warnings on the packaging like we have with cigarettes? If growers of organic pesticide-free fair trade marijuana want to sell their plant at the farmer’s market, then we require them to hand out a little warning pamphlet (with side effects on fertility/virility, memory, and citing studies of irreversible IQ point decreases in people under age 25, etc.). In other words, you can and should acknowledge that there are negative side effects of pot use and say, “I want buying and using marijuana to be legal; no one should spend a minute in jail for smoking pot. That doesn’t mean I want you to use it!” The DEA spends boatloads of taxpayer money trying to override people’s free will decision to use drugs, a fool’s errand in this blogger’s mind. Far more logical to regulate their sale and educate people (especially on the horrific side effects of meth and heroin). And, Senator, when the topic of legalizing marijuana comes up, you could also suggest using the sales tax revenue it would generate to fund national health care, including treatment programs for those addicted to alcohol and drugs.

 

 

Speaking of Health Care

Lots of people who voted for President Obama blindly supported anything he proposed after he took office because of his star power and magnetism. And you want that demographic to vote for you too (look them up on twitter with #UniteBlue). You need that demographic to vote for you. So start out praising Obamacare, and segue to single payer by pointing out that the best part about the ACA is the provision allowing each state to set up its own single payer system. Besides, as long as there’s going to be a mandate, why not take the middle man/insurance company out of it so that the mandated number of dollars we all pay is even less? And why not put doctors on the federal payroll? Judges are on the federal payroll and get paid from our tax dollars. What is a doctor but a judge of disease? What is a prescription or treatment but a sentence for wayward health? What is a hospital but a jail that doesn’t need bars because the people inside are too sick to get up and walk out of it? (Kidding! It’s way more fun to visit people in the hospital than jail! Unless they’re dying, of course.)

 

 

Guns

You’ve continued to associate the epidemic of gun violence with our disenfranchising health care system that doesn’t get the mentally ill the treatment they need. HRC may not realize it but “gun control” is a trigger phrase too — and what it triggers is a knee jerk reaction in many Americans to buy more guns. Tread as lightly on this issue as you did in the first debates; emphasize your concern for prevention and national health care. Then after you’ve won the nomination, you can reference the 2nd Amendment specifically to relate to libertarian voters. You’re going to need them in the general election. This is a very difficult issue because clearly something must be done; but in this millennial’s opinion, your suggestion that what must be done is getting people access to doctors to prevent these shootings in the first place is the one that will earn you the most votes in our current electoral college voting system. If presidential elections were a strict popular vote, I’d say push gun control because roughly a third of Americans own guns (not the majority by any means). But you’ll need to win many of the states with a high rate of gun-ownership if you want to win the electoral college, so your emphasis on healthcare is strategically your best bet.

 

 

Are you a pacifist? How you can align your conscientious objector past with Daniel Ellsberg & Edward Snowden and appeal to the greatest number of Americans

You said you weren’t a pacifist and you clearly aren’t or you wouldn’t have voted for the AUMF after Sept 11. Use the phrase “just war” sparingly to describe our nation’s right to defend itself if attacked on our own soil; and remind us again and again that you voted against war in Iraq.

 

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers Whistleblower
Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers Whistleblower

 

Most people won’t doubt the validity of your being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. We should never have been there in the first place, as the Boomers who lived through it (or lost loved ones who died for it) well know. Many of them, including over 7 million living Vietnam war vets, explained that to their gen x-er and millennial offspring. If you align yourself with Daniel Ellsberg who blew the whistle on the government’s false narrative of success in Vietnam by releasing the Pentagon Papers, (which is why you objected to it too, right?) you’ll not only tap into our country’s collective regret over the Vietnam War and how it could have been prevented or at least cut short, you’ll simultaneously appeal to the Millennials’ admiration of Snowden (70% of us think he’s a whistleblower) because Daniel Ellsberg has been such a vocal supporter of him. In fact, many younger Millennials had never heard of Daniel Ellsberg before Snowden came along.

 

You are wise to say Snowden should have a trial in a court of law though, rather than that the Department of Justice should drop the charges against him or that he should be pardoned because this is what the majority of Americans think. But we’re a funny people; the majority of Americans were glad to learn from the Snowden disclosures that our 4th Amendment rights were being violated by the NSA too. So while I get it that you may feel reluctant to say anything beyond, “I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined,” as you said at the first debate, there are 61 million Millennial Americans who more than agree with you. Evoke memories of Ellsberg, and many other civil libertarians and peace activists and unjust war protesters, especially Boomers, are sure to notice too. And remind us again that you voted against the PATRIOT Act.

 

And be sure to mention that as a contractor, Snowden was not eligible for any whistleblower protections. Not from President Obama’s executive order …

 

… or from the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2012.

 

 

No low blows, just acknowledgement of the systemic corruption of campaign finance and the need for reform

Citizens from Hell United
Citizens from Hell United

 

Bernie, it’s so awesome that you haven’t said one bad word about Hillary. Millennials hate — with a PASSION — that bullshit. WE HATE IT. Thank you, Senator, for sticking to the facts! It’s awesome to point out that the % of your donors who are small donors is extremely high compared to the average campaign, and great to point out how much money has gone into the superpacs since the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions in order to show how flagrant the attempts to buy this election are, and even better to highlight that you aren’t taking a dollar of that superpac money. We know which candidates are in Wall Street’s pocket and that you aren’t one of them.

 

Politicians pointing out each other’s flaws instead of focusing on solutions to very real problems we would prefer to have solved doesn’t make them look better than their opponents. On the contrary, it reveals their personality weakness. Thanks, Bernie, for being the kind of politician who focuses on society’s flaws, not people’s personality flaws.

 

Below is a tweet from someone who has the opposite view. And as far as a winning strategy, I couldn’t disagree more. (This was one of the ways HRC embarrassed herself in 2008 — by insulting Obama over and over. It didn’t even faze him!)

 

 

 

Ease off the Revolution Rhetoric

There’s only one thing I’d recommend you completely eliminate or significantly reduce in your campaign, Senator, and that is any reference to a revolution. Especially during this time of recovering from the disappointment of President Obama’s promises of hope and change, the concept of revolution is a bit much. When someone says revolution to me, I think of two things, the Revolutionary War (and that we won it) and then I think of the Beatles’ song, and this line from it: “You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan.” Revolution is a big word, Senator, and it has all kinds of terrible connotations, like no clean running water and the grid going down and rape in the streets. And death and blood and corpses and horrific fighting — and war. Even when you specify a political revolution, it just doesn’t ring true. All revolutions are political revolutions. Yes, “a revolution” has a better ring to it than “Get off your butts and participate; show a little gratitude for your freedom to vote that people died for. Apathy’s not gonna cut it. You actually do have to vote to remind Congress that they work for you and will be fired if they don’t do what you want, and this means voting every 2 years, not every 4.”  While apathy-shaming won’t work, I think the concept of revolution in this sense will make people think of a rebellious uprising more than anything else, and that will turn off a very large important demographic (Boomers) and won’t turn on any of the others.

 

Your campaign is still young and I’m positive there’s a far better slogan to be had, one that will appeal to people of all generations and socioeconomic backgrounds who favor overcoming income equality and seek social justice.

 

To Do List:

  1. Don’t miss an opportunity to remind people to get registered to vote, including tweeting reminders that in many states, you must be registered as a Democrat to be able to vote for you
  2. Define democratic socialism within the context of it already being part of our constitutional republic (saying we live in a democracy is not factually true)
  3. Use trigger phrases like constitutional republic and democratic republic; explain they are synonyms
  4. Answer questions directly even if being direct requires a lie; a straightforward lie is always better than a hesitant justification*
  5. Continue your habit of not intentionally lying
  6. Use trigger phrases like “the truth is”
  7. Explain that capitalism is voting with our dollars; then contrast that with our current rigged “capitalist” system using both “casino capitalism” and “crony capitalism” interchangeably to explain how it really works in practice
  8. Use the 3 phrases “framers of the constitution,” “founding fathers,” “Bill of Rights” and the 3 phrases “Wall St” “income inequality” “the 1%” at a ratio of 1:1 in order to appeal to both liberals and libertarians (also, a lot of people are just plain patriotic and those first 3 words mean something to them)
  9. Hillary overuses the phrase “the middle class” — don’t make her same mistake! Explain socioeconomic classes as they pertain to income inequality; there are the working poor, then there’s a working class, a lower middle class, a middle class, an upper middle class, the rich and the super rich. Below are 2 videos to help explain the insanity of the ratio of CEO pay to average worker and how much worse the reality of income inequality is compared to what we think it is.
  10. Acknowledge the working poor in the debates, those who work but can’t get full time hours because their company’s policy is no more than 32 (or however many) hours a week and consequently, they qualify for SNAP and subsidized housing. They don’t vote because no one acknowledges they even exist! And there are millions of them. If you use the phrase, “the working poor,” they’re going to look up at the TV and go, oh, my God, someone’s talking about us! The other reason they don’t vote is because they literally can’t get time off work on election day and are unaware that in many states, employers are legally required to allow workers to take time off to vote. These votes are ripe for the picking, Bernie. Snatch them up with your #15now rhetoric.

 

 

 

 

 

I know you’ll make a great president, Senator Sanders!

 

Sincerely,

Sarah

 

*Example: Hillary’s concise “no” when Anderson asked her if her flipflopping on issues meant she was changing them based on the demographic (“Will you say anything to get elected?”). She was verifiably lying but it came across as honest.

 

 

Buy this book. Read this book: “Murder at Camp Delta” by Sgt. Joseph Hickman

 

SPOILER ALERT: my review of this 5 star book is not only a recommendation but a summary of its plot

 

This book has it all. Patriotic American soldier compelled by his conscience to prove his government’s attempt to cover up a war crime? Check. Neckless corpses of prisoners of war returned to their families with no further explanation? Check. Autopsy reports showing mysteriously high dosages of an unnecessary vaccine whose side-effects at such a high dose are the psychological equivalent of the terror of 30 days of nonstop waterboarding? Check. Tom Clancy style intelligence community tipsters who call late at night from a blocked phone number to drop URL breadcrumbs leading to missing pages of a 3,000 page NCIS report so redacted it takes a team of law students to make heads or tails of it over months of research? Check. But this is no novel. “Murder at Camp Delta” is a true story written by a marine who values his oath to serve his country and protect the Constitution so intensely that it trumps all concern for any potential consequences he might suffer as a result of this book’s publication.Murder at Camp Delta

 

Sgt Joseph Hickman paints a picture of his experience at the prison at Guantanamo Bay in a series of vivid and sometimes even funny memories of his deployment to JTF-GTMO, among them a bit of culture-shock when an English speaking detainee, replete with British accent, calls him “mate” and asks him to toss a fugitive soccer ball back over a fence, the time he gets called Satan and told he fights like a demon by a group of detainees who rush his team in a communal cell, or the brotherly (and hilarious) grief he gets from his squad for going to a movie with a younger female medic. All of these vignettes show us the unique personality of a soldier who serves in the military with pride and honor. But it is the moments where Sgt Hickman serves our country, willing to make sacrifices many in his position might not, that make this story one of heroism. One of the most memorable is when he stops two guards from playing a game with a detainee who had a prosthetic leg. The guards liked to make the man, al-Gazzar, put on his prosthetic leg, shackle him, and make him walk that way so that when one of them tapped the prosthetic leg, the detainee would collapse and flail on the ground. Why? When Sgt Hickman asks them why, they say because it’s “f—ing hilarious.” In contrast, Hickman addresses this man as a human being — an alleged terrorist — not as a monster, and speaks to him in a rapport-building manner, affording him basic decency, the kind the United States used to lead the world in displaying even in times of desperation such as war. Sgt Hickman’s resistance to the steamrolling of our national moral compass, not only when he protects al-Gazzar from torment (and, no, not because reverse-Stockholm syndrome kicked in and he was sympathizing with al-Gazzar or even because Geneva Convention dictates: he did it because treating prisoners of war humanely is the right thing to do) but again when he goes to the Inspector General, adhering to all military protocol, to report discrepancies in the official Pentagon version of the story of the deaths of 3 detainees on the night of June 9, 2006. What the Pentagon announces to the media is that the three deaths were part of a suicide pact among 3 detainees determined to commit asymmetrical warfare against the US by hanging themselves in their cells. The discrepancy? Sgt Hickman was on duty as SOG (Sergeant of the Guard) and assigned to watch over the entire Alpha Block where all 3 of those detainees were housed, standing fewer than 200 feet away from those very cells. As he states in the book, he was a witness to the fact that three men were not carried from Alpha block to the medical clinic after midnight or at any time that evening, contrary to what the NCIS investigation report stated; but he was witness to three men – three alive men – being let out and taken away from their cells hours before the “suicides” were alleged by the Pentagon to have taken place. (For those familiar with recent history’s revelations that GTMO was also used as a black site for the EIT program, you can guess that they were being taken to that black site building for some “Q & A;” Sgt Hickman is very careful, however, to merely state the facts as he observes them which in my view, lends even greater credibility to his testimony. And he does state that it was a common occurrence for detainees to be removed from their cells and brought back at a later time.)

 

Haunted by his memories and how they compare to the “official version” of the night of June 9, 2006, Sgt Hickman describes the anguish that compels him to find out if his government was involved in a true cover-up. When he realizes he’ll need help to prove it — or, as he initially and optimistically hopes, to disprove any hint of conspiracy — he chooses Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research based on their impressive “Report on Guantanamo Detainees: A Profile of 517 Detainees Through Analysis of Department of Defense Data” which deduced that only 8% of Guantanamo detainees were actually al qaeda fighters. The most interesting thing about Seton Hall’s team of researchers is the methodology they employ, relying only on the government’s own public reports and public federal court findings to identify contradictions and then use the process of elimination to reveal the truth, much like solving an elaborate logic square puzzle. So without knowing anything about any Joseph Hickman or his side of the story, the graduate students on the Seton Hall team focus only on the heavily redacted and incomplete 3,000 page NCIS report of the investigation into the events of June 9, 2006 and slowly but surely scrape away the layers of misdirection that inundate it. Their conclusion? Three prisoners died but not in their cells.

 

 

Three Guantanamo prisoners died on the night of June 9, 2006. But not in their cells.

 

 

Additionally, after the research team learns that the cell blocks had cameras both inside the cells and out, they are shocked to see that NCIS had made this illogical note in the report: “No video evidence is available.” Really? And conveniently, when the the bodies of the dead were sent back to their families, the families could not have their sons properly autopsied to independently verify death by hanging. Why? Because they were sent back without the necks. And then there was the repeated reference NCIS made to an unnamed Senior Medical Officer (SMO) who had examined all three of the detainees and pronounced them dead, yet, oddly, none of the investigators had taken a statement from him or her.

 

The reader soon learns that, meanwhile, the IG (Inspector General) has declined to order the FBI to investigate Sgt Hickman’s claims, and then, disappointingly, that ABC declines to air the TV interview of Sgt Hickman they had filmed (after running it by the Pentagon, they changed their mind). Harper’s magazine does run an award winning story about the deaths in 2010, but the backlash from both government officials and the mainstream media is endless. All hope seems lost when — very suddenly — the story takes an unexpected Tom Clancy turn and Sgt Hickman gets a mysterious phone call from someone whose caller id is blocked. Someone, the reader gasps to discover, within the intelligence community who won’t even say his name before rushing to alert Hickman to an obscure file on the Department of Defense website, one of over 200,000 released in response to a FOIA request, showing a memo from, and signed by, Admiral Harris – the highest ranking military official at GTMO on June 9, 2006 – to General Craddock (then head of SouthCom) encouraging him to encourage NCIS to specifically seek evidence of a suicide plot in their investigation despite the fact that NCIS had already concluded that there was not one. While this is surprising and a blatant attempt to manipulate the outcome of the investigation, this reader concluded that the real point of Unnamed Caller’s tip was to get Sgt Hickman onto the page of the DoD website with the data dump so that Hickman would eventually ask himself, “wait – if this Admiral Harris memo somehow mysteriously ended up on here, what if something else having to do with the NCIS investigation got inadvertently uploaded too?” Which something else did. Two something elses that Hickman finds after three weeks of sifting through a hay-mountain.

 

Remember the missing Senior Medical Officer’s statement? The one the Seton Hall researchers were shocked was never taken by NCIS when that person would have been the one to examine the bodies and pronounce them dead? Lo and behold, that missing page of the NCIS report was part of the same FOIA “data dump” as the Admiral Harris Memo, and in it, the Senior Medical Officer clearly states the cause of death of one of the three detainees who died on June 9, 2006, al-Zahrani: asphyxiation caused by a blockage of the airway, a result of cloth inserted through his oral cavity and into the windpipe. Not hanging. Not suicide. Cloth. Rags stuffed so far down his throat that he choked to death.

 

The second document Sgt Hickman found in the data dump was the sworn statement — three pages long — of a master-at-arms (military police officer here identified as an MA3) who said he saw al-Zahrani in the early hours of June 10, 2006 in the medical clinic still alive, but limp, his feet blue. This MA3 and his partner had been called to assist by the use of a medical brevity code that indicated a living detainee having life-threatening symptoms, a code used frequently to call responders to hunger-striking detainees who had become faint from lack of food, not one used to indicate a suicide in progress. And, this MA3 described medical staff then telling the Camp 1 guards to remove al-Zahrani’s handcuffs so an IV could be inserted. (Slightly difficult for a person to hang themselves with handcuffs on – even more odd for a person to put his or her head in a noose and get all set to jump and then put handcuffs on before jumping.) This MA3 makes 2 more astounding claims, under oath: 1) that after the handcuffs were removed, he observed a corpsman binding an altered detainee bed sheet to each of al-Zahrani’s wrists, leaving approximately a foot of cloth in between and 2) that two Combat Camera personnel began to film all three detainees before “Colonel B” stopped them.

 

Then we learn that those three pages comprising the MA3’s statement were not only removed from the 3,000 page NCIS report, but three other pages of it were copied and RE-NUMBERED BY OUR GOVERNMENT and inserted back into the 3,000 page report as if no one would ever pore over each page and realize that three pages had duplicates. (The Seton Hall students at first merely assumed those pages were misnumbered, not that they were re-numbered by a federal government employee and deliberately falsely substituted in place of the actual pages. However, I would like to give that person the benefit of the doubt, because perhaps he or she is actually a whistleblower and had planned all along to release the missing three pages during a FOIA data dump, and once they were available online, to call an IC tipster with the specific DoD website folder they were uploaded to who would then contact someone in the press if it wasn’t discovered by them without any clues.)

 

Then the plot takes a blood-curdling turn as Sgt Hickman makes another devastating discovery. And the specific horror we learn our government allowed to be inflicted on other human beings at GTMO at the direct behest of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld defies all sense of wrong and right and knowing the difference between the two. Each detainee, upon arrival at GTMO, was given the drug mefloquine at 5 times the normal dose, a dose known to cause hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and the feeling of being terrified — non-stop — for at least 30 days. And while these human beings were being subjected to the equivalent of psychological waterboarding from the mefloquine, they would also be held in isolation. That’s the government’s word for solitary confinement which we now know can cause insanity on its own, to say nothing of combining it with pharmacological warfare.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that “Murder at Camp Delta” will be required reading in every U.S. high school’s American History class half a century from now. If only it were required reading for Congress, today. And there is a commensurate lack of doubt in my mind that this book’s author’s testimony will be instrumental in the conviction and sentencing of alleged war criminal Donald Rumsfeld. If reading this review makes you wonder what happened to your country, stop. We know what happened. A culture of vengeance-gone-wild, nurtured by Orwellian terms like “detainees” instead of prisoners, “enhanced interrogation” instead of torture and “unlawful combatants” instead of prisoners of war, a Wall Street incentivized by incredible returns on investments made in companies like Halliburton, a Congress incentivized by re-election campaign donations from behemoth national security contractors, and an entire intelligence community held hostage by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld as surely as the passengers on flights on September 11, 2001 were held hostage by terrorists, all contributed to the stain on our nation’s history that is Guantanamo Bay. Mix in a recession so damaging to national morale that Americans were too consumed with worry over imminent layoff, foreclosure and/or bankruptcy to protest the Bush Administration’s moral bankruptcy, and presto, change-o: unbridled tyranny.

 

Buy this book. Read this book. Ask your Senators and Representative to read this book. Ask the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to hold a congressional hearing to fully investigate the factual information available to them through this book and from other sources regarding the Special Access Program that, through the stroke of a secret, classified 2002 executive order issued by President Bush, turned a detention center into a battle lab, one in which the most heinous of war crimes were allegedly committed.

 

NOTES:

**Think no one at GTMO back in 2002 protested the horrors being done in the American people’s names? Think again. Hickman learned over the course of writing this book that Mark Fallon, then the deputy commander of the Criminal Investigation Task Force at Guantanamo, wrote an email to a CIA lawyer and a military lawyer about the use of torture techniques, stating, “This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of. Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this.”

 

**See also the impeccable investigative reporting in this 2010 truthout article by Jason Leopold and Jeff Kaye mentioned by Sgt Hickman in the book on the use of mefloquine on all GTMO detainees as part of the “Standard Inprocessing Orders for Detainees” given in 1250 mg dosages, five times the normal dose, which the military already knew would cause “severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including seizures, intense vertigo, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, aggression, panic, anxiety, severe insomnia, and thoughts of suicide.”

Ask Congress: Make College Tuition-Free at Public Institutions

Click here for an easy to use link – simply enter your zip code and Roots Action will automatically pre-fill your 2 Senators and 1 Representative’s information. Take a second, if you wish, to compare my re-write below to their text that pops up after you enter your zip code. Mine is more specific so be sure to take out “as a consistent supporter” on the second to last line if you don’t support your Congresspeople and then enter your name where I have YOUR NAME in all caps on the last line if you are going to use my text instead of Roots Action’s text.

 

 

As your constituent, I urge you to support legislative efforts to make college tuition-free. The United States has the money to do this, as some other nations do, and the 1.2 trillion (not billion – trillion!) dollar student loan debt crisis is crippling an entire generation of potential leaders, entrepreneurs, and young families – families that choose to have only one child or no children because they simply cannot afford to.

 

 

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Please cosponsor and support S.1373, a parallel House bill, and any similar legislation that will provide America’s young people with the opportunity to pursue taxpayer funded higher education at any public institution.

 

 

Additionally, please support H.R.2429, the Student Loan Tax Debt Relief Act, which protects students from tax liability when a school closes or an agreement is reached with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to keep a school open.

 

 

As a consistent supporter, I thank you for taking the time to consider my view on this important issue.

 

 

Sincerely,
(YOUR NAME)