A twitter follower doubts my prediction of eventual justice for alleged war criminal Donald Rumsfeld.
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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
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.
Emphasize 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.
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.)
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.
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
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:
I know you’ll make a great president, Senator Sanders!
*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.
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.
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.
**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.”
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.
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.
Author’s update: as of June 23, the Senate voted 60-37 to stop debate on Trade Promotion Authority, also commonly called “Fast Track” for the TPP. The next day the Senate passed TPA and on Monday, June 29, 2015, President Obama signed it into law. THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE’RE DONE FIGHTING. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement itself has not been passed – only President Obama’s ability to “fast track” it (approve it by bypassing Congress’ constitutional right to make amendments to it) BUT there is STILL time if you are reading this now. In fact, please read the inspiring comment from Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch department in the 3 images below explaining that Fast Track was passed before in the late 1990’s in order to be used on the FTAA but after much public outcry, the FTAA was never even voted on! Then please sign PCGTW’s petition declaring that you will never stop fighting the TPP.
The Trans Pacific Partnership “Free” Trade Agreement, if it is passed, will be nothing less than a corporate coup d’etat whose endgame is a total defunding of state and federal government via erosion of the taxpayer base through the strategic disappearance of jobs that provide the income from which that tax is collected.
And what happened to Senator Ron Wyden? Ron Wyden who was all “transparency is my middle name”?
He is so unconcerned about transparency nowadays that he is perfectly content to vote for the constitution-violating process known as “Fast Track” technically termed Trade Promotion Authority [TPA] because it gives all the AUTHORITY to the President (removing any amending capability from the Congress, meaning no changes whatsoever) to approve a trade agreement corporations have helped craft and members of congress can’t even keep a copy of. Seriously. Members of Congress can only read the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement in a locked room and aren’t allowed to take their cell phones or a pen inside and have been forbidden to talk about what they read. So guess who they can’t talk about it with. THEIR CONSTITUENTS. Hmm … I wonder who that would benefit.
Sound like a reason for concern? Put it this way, would you sign a pre-nup before you had a look-see? This is the lawyers hashing it out, with no consent from either husband or wife regarding the terms of the final contract. (And remember, they’ll be billed hourly. Do the lawyers have a monetary incentive to make a divorce as painful and drawn out as possible? Why, yes! They DO!!)
So now that Senator Traitor, the one Senator who had the power to stop this whole messy charade in its tracks, has gone to the dark side, it’s one hundred percent relevant that he pulled this same self-serving passive-aggressive rigamarole in 2013. Section 215 ring a bell? Oh, yeah, that time he tried to entrap DNI Clapper into committing a felony and disclosing classified information about the metadata collection. Uh huh, yes, the lying under oath to Congress Snowden was rightfully pissed off about. This is what happened: Pawn Wyden put Clapper in the position of choosing — on the spot on live national television — between answering the question, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” with the word no and committing perjury OR answering the question with the word yes and committing a felony. Nice.
You can watch the exchange here starting at 3:27 (it should start playing at that moment if all embeds well):
But here’s how Senator Wyden has doubly betrayed his oath to the constitution: he not only already knew about Section 215 because everyone on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence knew about it because they had ALL previously been informed by Clapper himself in a private letter all the way back in 2011, but, as a US Senator, Wyden has something known as “absolute free speech.” This literally means that he could read the *unredacted* Senate Torture Report, in its entirety, on CSPAN, without repercussion. (Well, he might not get re-elected. Then again, a whole new generation might show up to the polls for him.) Or any classified redacted document … including the Section 215 letter (the one from Clapper to the SSCI outlining the metadata collection from 2011). So, instead of, say, taking a picture of it with his phone and posting it on instagram or tweeting that Section 215 letter one word at a time to all his super supportive followers and letting the ACLU know he’s got some juicy retweet fodder, what does he do? He asks a question he knows the DNI is forbidden to answer truthfully when all along, Wyden could have blown the whistle himself! And should have! What a passive-aggressive hypocrite. To really put it in perspective, Wyden could have done exactly what Snowden ended up doing before Snowden — and maybe Snowden never would have!
To really put it in perspective, Wyden could have done exactly what Snowden ended up doing before Snowden — and maybe Snowden never would have!
Ironically, Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA, put it best: “Ron Wyden was trying to trick Jim Clapper into making an admission of classified information that Ron Wyden didn’t have the courage to make himself.” Really think about that (and you can watch him say it in the video below starting at 1:01:50). Hayden is not only saying that Wyden is a coward, he’s saying that if Wyden HAD had the balls to tell the People about Section 215, it would have been courageous! An act of bravery to disclose that classified information. Michael Hayden probably didn’t even realize what he said but his words are tantamount to a request for whistleblowing.
Once again, my tweets say it shortest and sweetest.
Now watch this incredible short video made by true patriot Congressman Alan Grayson on the economic evisceration perpetrated by our Congress against our country through NAFTA, and how the TPP is NAFTA on steroids. Anyone who supports the TPP actively desires not only the erosion of our income tax base through the disappearance of our INCOME (via the elimination of our JOBS), they actively desire that we no longer have funds to pay the public servants who make up the agencies of our federal government. Then ask yourself who benefits if we can no longer afford to have a functioning FBI, CIA, FTC, or even an FDA. Now how about a functioning Justice Department. Guess everyone could just languish in prison till they die and never get a trial. Gee, who benefits from that?
There’s still time. PLEASE call your Senators and ask them to vote NO on TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) aka Fast Track and no on the TPP altogether. What they need to hear you say are these exact words: “If you vote for TPA, I will vote for your opponent come election day.” Click here to find your Senator’s phone #.
And oh, yeah, this little reminder about Wyden and Nike sleeping together in the same filthy bed.
Last night, my twitter timeline exploded into a comedy of errors brought on by the typo of one single troll. (See, trolls, you can make a difference!) The takeaway is that trolls make typos too and because trolls are people too and feel embarrassed when they make mistakes (just like non-trolls), they too will delete a tweet once they realize that they typed, for example, the word link instead of the word lick. See image below.
GOPBullhorn, as he calls himself, was particularly offended by this tweet of mine:
So he replied:
Now for those of you who have followed me on twitter a long time, you know that I believe that trolls are deliberately and strategically trying to/succeeding at stealing our time. In other words, when they get you to respond, they win AND they take (steal!!) minutes away from you, minutes that you could spend on your true mission which is to tweet to that demographic of people who *are* receptive to your message. BUT – and it’s a big butt – if another person or entity is mentioned in the tweet, as Walmart was in this case, then I will often reply in order to make the PR/twitter person at that organization/entity take note that WeThePeople are watching and taking action. So I replied:
And IMMEDIATELY a crowd of members of my “twitter family,” as I call them, leapt to my defense and took on this troll with more vim and vigor than this blogger knew existed on a Saturday night online!
And this troll was truly horrible – insulted my friend Jesus and called us morons, fuckers, etc., here …
*Yes, the article from Business Insider, which cited statistical information from 1913 to 2008, was indeed from 2011 which means it’s actually four years old. Luckily, the historical data I quoted in my tweet didn’t change between 2011 and 2015. So that’s good!!
But it gets better. At this point, I had stopped replying to the troll but was favoriting all the responses from my twitter family who were valiantly defending the truth, and that’s when GOPBullhorn tweeted the “link my scrotum” comment. So then I replied to that, saying, “LOL, click on the link” – which made him realize his mistake and delete the tweet. But I of course had taken a screen shot of it.
And this is where the hilarity ensued: Julie seemed genuinely confused when she tweeted this …
And Mad Dad tweeted this …
to which I replied…
and then because things had gotten so out of hand, I remarked that this is better than an ’80’s sitcom – that I hoped the NSA was enjoying the comedy of errors my TL had become that evening, and Julie (still in complete seriousness, I thought) replied …
I was literally rolling on the floor laughing! Well, on the couch. Which led to the realization that I should make the whole thing a blog post AND …
So from now on, whenever any of us gets trolled, lets use this hashtag as a way to alert each other. Think we can get #LinkMyScrotum trending?
Finally, the moral of the story …
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thanks, WordPress!!
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
If you haven’t already seen the Interview, go see it in the theater if possible OR stream it on youtube.
I’d never seen James Franco or Seth Rogen together on screen before and let me tell you, they are hilarious. Rogen’s portrayal of no-nonsense, i-dotting, t-crossing, worrywart tv producer Aaron Rapoport is the perfect straight man to Franco’s embodiment of the off the wall, spectacularly horny, nosey, patriotic (not necessarily in that order) tv star Dave Skylark. And there are real twinges of sadness in the movie that both actors never reduce to maudlin plot development requirements. These are two really really talented people. Who made a very very raunchy, crass, sexed-up, piece of political satire.
My favorite kind!
As a brief recap, in case you missed the news, Sony got hacked (
probably by North Korea, says the FBI) and this group of hackers also threatened “9/11 style” attacks on any theaters who chose to show “the Interview” (a Sony Picture) because the premise is a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un and at one point in the movie, his death via firey head explosion is depicted. North Korea called the movie itself “an act of war.” So all these movie theaters across the country were afraid of these so called 9/11 style attacks. Now if you have a brain in your head, you’re probably shaking it, going, what were they going to drop on us? water balloons? Using logic: let’s say NK does have [working] nukes. Do they want to have a nuclear war? No, because Kim Jong Un wants to live, not die. He wants to stay the dictator of a fascist regime. So is he going to attack the US with nuclear weapons? No. Because then he’d die. Or worse, for people with fascist personality disorder, he’d be alive but no longer have a regime to rule over totalitarianistically. Yes, that is totally a word. Now.
The best part of this movie is that it is the truest kind of political satire – no one walks away unsatirized. “The Interview” pokes fun at the CIA, the United States, our popular culture AND North Korea’s supreme leader.
So all these movie theaters pull out at the last minute, crying, oh no! the sky is falling! we don’t want our patrons to be attacked while watching this movie! (read: we don’t want to get sued because all we think about is money) and decide not to show it. So many theaters that Sony decides not to release the movie at all, period! And President Obama is going, “Really, Sony? You couldn’t have talked to me first before you cancel the release of this movie everyone has been anticipating for months? Cuz I could have told you that there is no credible threat to our national security, you idiots.” Except I think he said it in that uberdiplomatic Obama way. So then Sony is like, okay, okay, if theaters want to show it, they can AND we’ll also stream it online. And then a few days after that, the NSA hacked in to North Korea’s internet and kept them in the dark for 9 hours. Er … somebody did. Whether or not it was the NSA, we don’t know. And by we don’t know, I mean, we “don’t know.“ They should have kept North Korea off grid for nine days.
And why? Because freedom of speech. The 1st Amendment. The Bill of Rights. That’s the deal with freedom. I might disagree with you and you might disagree with me. We both get to talk. We both get to write. We both get to make movies and we both get to watch them – or not watch them. We get the choice. To paraphrase Voltaire: I may detest what you say, but your right to say it is worth dying for. (So go thank a vet!)
One of the funniest and most understated bits in the movie (yes, I’m getting to the actual storyline – but really, what a bunch of deballed cowards at Sony; as Seth Rogen put it, since when do we let North Korea decide which movies play in the US?) is when the two CIA officers first visit Dave and Aaron to pitch the idea of killing Kim to them and there are dirty wine and shot glasses everywhere and cocaine all over the dining table. Now Aaron quickly explains to Agent Lacey that it’s not their cocaine, but Dave – hospitable, warm, welcoming Dave Skylark – offers her some! Because that’s the polite thing to do when the CIA comes over: offer up your best coke, ladies and gentlemen. The viewer and Aaron quickly catch on to the fact that Dave is being honeypotted because, as Aaron points out, Agent Lacey has all three of the things he loves, “bangs, huge tits, and glasses.” And the combination works; Dave agrees to participate in the assassination plot. Later when they go to CIA headquarters to do a dry run of the poisonous handshake assassination technique, Agent Lacey isn’t wearing the glasses. Obviously lying, she says she got Lasik.
Dave: “I know what you did to me – with the glasses – honeycombed me.”
Agent Lacey: “What does that even mean.”
Aaron: “You honey potted him – [to Dave] it’s honey pot – you honey potted him.”
Agent Lacey: “No, I didn’t.”
Aaron: “You did honey pot him. I bet you got him [referring to her partner agent] in here as a honey dick just in case I’m gay but I’m not but if I was I would have seen him coming a mile away.”
Dave: “You honey dick him?”
Male CIA: “She’s not honeypotting you and I’m not honeydicking him.”
Agent Lacey: “It’s very offensive because basically if you think about it, what you’re saying to me, you’re saying because I’m a girl, and because I’m attractive, my only use for this agency would be to manipulate men.”
Dave: “I think it’s offensive too!”
Nice. Nice commentary on the CIA, on the federal government’s exploitation of fertility and virility traits, such as beauty, strength, prowess, cunning, etc, for a greater good (men are just as exploited for their masculinity as women are for their femininity over at Fed Gov) and yet another moment in the movie where we see that Dave is really this teenage boy in a man’s body who just loves women and is a chivalrous sweetheart deep down and Aaron is his best friend and the best kind of friend: a loyal, protective defender. I won’t spoil this next part but you’ve got to see in this same scene what Dave refers to as “the money shot.” In comedy, timing is everything. The four actors in this scene nail it. Perfect timing. Perfect facial expressions. Perfect moments of silence, perfect rapport. This movie is so funny that I literally laughed for almost the whole two hours.
Another vivid character in the movie is Sook, the self-described “propagandist for a totalitarian dictatorship.” She tells Aaron, amidst a burgeoning romance between them, how when she was a young girl, she was pulled out of her classroom at school and “selected” to serve the Jong family as a member of Kim’s staff. She doesn’t say how young she was and neither she nor Aaron clarify what kind of service specifically her role entailed at the beginning of her tenure, but we know. And the movie doesn’t shy away from pointing out the 2 x 4 in our own government’s eye when it comes to the foibles of a hyper-interventionist foreign policy in this scene either. Sook and Aaron are practically naked in Aaron’s bed when Dave bursts in; Sook hides under the covers. After getting a glimpse of Kim’s true nature, Dave is finally ready to go through with the handshake plan.
Dave: “I wanna know if you still have that poison so we can kill that mothafucka!”
Sook (erupting from underneath a hill of covers): “What?!?”
Aaron (leaping in front of Dave who’s about to karate chop Sook): “She’s on our side!”
Sook: “I hate Kim – he is a terrible leader.”
Aaron: “See? She can help us kill him!”
Sook: “What? No! No killing! How many times can the US make the same mistake?”
Dave: “As many times as it takes!”
*This is so so funny and sad at the same time. And it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this movie so much. In previous blog posts and youtube videos, I’ve talked about the “dark gray area” that intervention often leads us into as a nation. This movie isn’t afraid to go there either.
Sook continues to explain, using logic: “Killing Kim won’t change anything! He will be replaced. He has brothers, he has other generals. The people need to be shown that he is not a god, that he is a man. Then they will be ready for change.”
Dave: “Yeah. How?”
Sook: “Interviewing him: everyone in North Korea will be watching.”
Dave: “The interview’s scripted – his people are never gonna let me ask real questions.”
Sook: “Dave, I am his people.”
Aaron: “You get Kim to cry like a baby – they’ll know he’s not a god.”
During the actual interview, Dave succeeds, using charm and a disarming combination of warmth and confidence, in drawing out the true Kim, and all of North Korea gets to see that he is not in fact a god. Once again, the filmmakers also allowed an unflattering tidbit about the US to be revealed when Kim remarks to Dave that the US has more incarcerated people per capita than North Korea. True enough. A battle in the studio’s control room ensues as Sook and Aaron fight off Kim’s minions to keep the show broadcasting live to the people, and a revolution is sparked with the incendiary flame of information.
Without spoiling too much of the ending, let me say that my favorite part is during the follow-up montage, where we see North Korea having democratic elections. That alone would be cause for the real Kim Jong Un to declare the movie an act of war. But the biggest threat to his or any fascist regime is the movie’s message that an assassination of character can be far more effective than an actual assassination.
Go out and see it, stream it – do both if possible. Watching it is an act of patriotism in this situation because any attempt by one state to censor or inhibit the free flow of information among members of another state is totally unacceptable, morally reprehensible, and calls for resistance and defiance.
“The Interview” is hilarious and awesome. Thank you, James and Seth! You made a great movie.
Think voting doesn’t matter? Amendments are ratified by elected state legislatures. Are you a woman? Are you black? The 15th & 19th Amendments were passed by white men! There wasn’t a single woman or black person in the entire Congress.
If your vote doesn’t matter, why did corporations go all the way to Supreme Court to get permission to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence who you’ll vote for? (Citizens United vs FEC)
If your vote doesn’t matter, why did ONE billionaire go all the way to the Supreme Court to get permission to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy it? (McCutcheon vs FEC)
If your vote doesn’t matter, why did 19 states pass laws in 2014 making it more difficult to vote? Why are they trying to legislate silence? What do they have to gain?
Voting is a matter of cause and effect. The narcissists and liars in Congress today are there because they were voted into office. So were the good ones.
I’ve said before and will say again: you can’t use logic to reason with illogical people (though with the above statements, I definitely gave it my best shot). You have to use emotion. So, finally, please know that if you believe your vote doesn’t matter, someone is getting off on that. They’re rubbing their hands together going, moo ha ha ha … and chuckling all the way to the bank.
And not voting is weighted. Not voting at the polls is the same as voting with our silence for everything to stay the same. Consider this: the majority of eligible voters do not show up at the polls, even in presidential election years.
Elected officials may have the rule-making authority, but the masses have the power to decide who gets that authority. We the people. Rulers (“politicians”) work for us. This is the difference between power and authority: Elected officials have Authority. We have the Power to keep them on the payroll OR vote them out. They work for US. Imagine if you had been raised – known your whole life – that the day you turn 18, you become the employer of 4 federal employees — your one Representative, your two Senators, and the President.
The Divide and Conquer Method is what keeps people discouraged, keeps them from showing up at the polls, and keeps them from exercising this power to cause change – power that, if you’re an American, you came into like the richest inheritance the day you came of age. In other words, if you think the system is broken, remember, you’re supposed to.
The Myth of Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils
Think that if you voted, you’d only be voting for the lesser of two evils? That’s a myth. People are people. They have strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited, whether they work for the private sector or public. Everyone responds to incentives. We the people first have to be aware of that (that politicians are not above us or beyond us – that they work FOR us) and then we can get down to the business of reminding them, hey, you work for us. We pay your salary. And we’re watching. And in two or six years, if we don’t like your performance, we’re going to let you go.
We the People have the MOST leverage when a politician is up for re-election and has something to lose — namely, their job. Corporations are already fully aware of this! They know what the masses don’t: party doesn’t matter, threat of unemployment does.
Corporations already know what the masses don’t about leveraging re-election: the party of the individual congressperson doesn’t matter – only threat of unemployment does.
We the People have the leverage. Let’s be like corporations and say with our vote, “Congress, if you don’t do what WE want, we’ll find someone else who will – next election.”
March 2015 updates: register to vote HERE
TWEET THIS (copy/paste): it’s a common misperception that party matters. We have to think like corps&tell Congress, don’t do what we want, no re-election.
There are 5 reasons Hillary Rodham Clinton can’t – and thus won’t – win the 2016 Presidential election.
This is why we as progressives, progressive patriots, liberals or democrats, must find someone else who can beat Jeb Bush (or whoever might end up being on the GOP ticket) sooner rather than later. I would also invite libertarians to join us in achieving this goal (for you, my Libertarian friends, wouldn’t a Jesse Ventura/Dennis Kucinich run on the Progressive Patriot ticket be AWESOME?!?!? More on that in a moment!)
# 1: She’s cold.
Hillary is cold. Plain and simple. Cold blooded, ruthless, mean, mean spirited. I have never seen a presidential candidate who was mean except in old black and white footage of JFK vs Nixon. And that’s why Nixon lost. Because he came across as mean. Americans like tough. We like strong. We even like scary. We don’t like mean. (Notice Hillary’s book title: “Hard Choices.” That’s exactly what she personifies, a hard choice. Let’s not pick her.)
#2. She’s a hypocrite.
Lots of people are feminists. I’m a feminist. Wendy Davis is a feminist. Elizabeth Warren is a feminist. Hillary is a woman who stayed married to a man who cheated on her. Not once. Not twice. Not three times. Many many times. Habitually, he cheated on her. And remember, cheaters are liars. So not only does she stay married to a man who cheats on her and lies to her face, she keeps his name. His name!! She keeps his name! That’s not a feminist. That’s the inverse of a feminist. And if she weren’t trying to be president, it would be homemade buttercream frosting on the hypocrisy cupcake that is her life – we real feminists would shake our heads and laugh at the irony (while licking the frosting off the top). But she IS trying to be president. The most powerful person in our country and in the free world who will by default become a role model for hundreds of thousands of young girls (and boys!) and the message that will be sent to them is, “yeah, let men walk all over you and treat you like shit and stay with them, because, you know, it’ll be easier to advance your career”?
No, actually. And even though it might seem that only certain people would be turned off by this, hypocrisy is felt by everyone at the primal level. It’s that feeling you get when a salesperson comes on too strong or a man at a club looks at you in no particular way, but you just know in your gut, “that’s a dangerous person.” The gut is our inner truth detector and Hillary’s hypocrisy doesn’t pass the smell test.
She asks rhetorical questions in a rude, condescending and arrogant manner and this alienates people. “What difference does it make at this point?” she asked during the hearing. Obviously, none to you, and by the way, now everyone thinks you’re a heartless politician pawn. Know why? Because you sounded like one. Too bad those four men were somebody’s son/dad/husband/friend because to those people who are grieving, it makes a huge difference. Hint: rhetorical questions make people hate you, not want to vote for you, as a general rule of thumb.
#4. Her health.
The GOP will bring up the concussion and blood clot to no end. And that will be unfair because her doctors said she is perfectly fine now. But it won’t matter to voters who are what I call “survival instinct-oriented.” Those are the voters who are highly motivated by fear and preventing danger. They can sometimes be patriotic to the point of cutting off the nose to spite the face; advertising that uses doubt and scare-tactics (“Can we really trust someone who …?” or “When [xyz catastrophe] hits the fan, do you want to wonder if so-and-so will be healthy enough to handle it? Feel safe and secure and protect your family – vote for Joe Schmoe on the Immortality Ticket this November”) is incredibly persuasive when it comes to this demographic. Ironically, Hillary used this very technique in 2008 in this 30 second spot, implying that Barack Obama didn’t have the experience to handle a 3 a.m. emergency:
It backfired because the majority of President Obama’s base isn’t survival instinct-oriented (though we all are to some extent because we all have a survival instinct – what I mean is, President Obama’s base isn’t predominantly survival instinct-oriented). We’re what I like to call, “appearance-oriented.” We care what other people think, what other people are saying, and especially what the rest of the world sees and says about our country. It matters to us. We want to have a good reputation. *This does not mean that we give a flying proverbial act of intercourse about whether or not other people approve of our own personal life decisions – then again, we might. But this national, patriotic sense of reputation is separate from that; this is rooted in a desire to avoid embarrassment on the world stage in the same way the survival instinct-oriented people want to avoid danger on the world stage. (And of course, you could want both. That’s how you get hawkish liberals.)
#5. She lacks niche appeal AND popular appeal.
In order to capture the youth and black vote that got President Obama elected, she would have to be as inspiring to them (us) as he is/was.
And she’s not young or black, the way he was/is. Remember, Obama won the 18- to 29-year-old vote by 34 percentage points, and the 30- to 44-year-old vote by six points in 2008. In every other age group, McCain won the majority. And Obama won 95% of the black vote across all age groups the first time around. (Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/did-race-win-the-election-for-obama-487/) Now, between 2008 and 2012, that same youth vote dropped 7.4%! President Obama didn’t have the same glamor as constitutional-law-professor/Senator Obama did four years earlier. Now, contrast that with the fact that the rate of increase among black voters between ’08 and 2012 was 6.7%. Hillary is not going to inspire a black voter the same way Barack Obama did. And Hillary won’t inspire a woman voter the way Wendy Davis or Elizabeth Warren do, either. That’s because Hillary isn’t a self-made woman who catapulted her way over, through and around obstacles to get where she is – Hillary rode the elevator up with her husband.
And, because the number of white voters decreased 2% across the age spectrum between 2008 and 2012, some pundits estimate that Romney would have won the election if whites had turned out at the same rates as they did in 2004. That 2% figure is huge. Neither Obama nor Romney was worth showing up for that day for 2% of white voters (read: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE). Not even to write in Ralph Nader or Ron Paul. It wasn’t even worth their time. (Source: http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2013/05/voting-2012-election) Now if Obama, who was a galvanizing force in 2008, lost that much of his mojo and magnetism, what are we to think of Hillary who never had mojo or magnetism to begin with?
More ways she alienates people:
*She used attack ads in 2008. Notice that Obama didn’t use them against her. The only reason to use an attack is if you feel threatened. This of course alerts everyone else to the fact that you do perceive the other person to be a threat, revealing that you do feel insecure, which ironically backfires and makes them doubt your strength and wonder if you really are the weaker party. This was a mistake on her part. Obama walked away looking like he had brushed Hillary dandruff off his shoulder and she got a “fights dirty” reputation.
*She threw Obama under the bus on his Syria policy in her interview with the Atlantic. This alienates — all over again — all the people who wanted Obama from the beginning back in 2008, not the people who started out backing Hillary who then switched to Obama after the primaries, but the ones who never even gave Hillary a second glance and assumed she would lose in the primaries. All of those people (myself included) watched her and listened to her overconfident monotone smugness, and we thought to ourselves, “how embarrassing, she still thinks she’s actually going to win!” She couldn’t read the writing on the wall then. She can’t read the writing on the wall now. And we can’t afford to make the same mistake.
What we have to lose:
Social Security. The ACA which has a provision in it allowing each state to set up its own single payer system. Vermont already has. Think about that – better than any exchange. Single payer – everyone covered. Awesome. And we also have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lose – it’s just getting off its feet and with the wave of an executive order, could disappear overnight. And more. Much much more. A return to the Bush II era tax cuts. We must find a strong viable alternative to Hillary because as it stands now, she is the most popular democratic candidate and she won’t pull in the necessary votes to win.
Then who, Sarah?
Bernie Sanders. He is very liberal and to those who say too liberal, I say, Barack Obama campaigned on “spreading the wealth around” and he won by a landslide. The American people have not moved to the center in tandem with their elected rulers. We have moved more to the left or more to the right. When we have two centrist politicians, you know what happens … the Supreme Court ends up appointing the president. (Back in 2000 with centrist Democrat Al Gore and Centrist Republican George W. Bush.) Senator Sanders is married, has kids (for some reason, this matters to the masses), is for disclosing campaign financing and SJ Res 19 which will become the 28th Amendment, he’s fully aware of and in opposition to the Koch Brothers’ agenda to privatize everything from schools to prisons and bust unions and repeal Obamacare, and is all around awesome on all his social justice issues stances, including #RaiseTheWage, #15now, #singlepayer health care, and more …
… Jesse Ventura. People say he’s got a tinfoil hat reputation. To me, he will always be a SEAL, a true patriot, someone who loves his country and is happy to die for it, loves the constitution and is protective of all Americans and American values (due process, the rule of law, a strong middle class, personal liberty, such as legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, etc., and taxing the rich fairly and progressively, minus all the loopholes, and none for corporations who Jesse knows are not people). I think if he moved home to Minnesota, started wearing suits instead of tie dye every day and joined forces with Dennis Kucinich, and was willing to run on the DFL ticket, he could win. Governor Ventura IS the kind of candidate that could bring people to the polls who wouldn’t ordinarily show up. If we didn’t have the electoral college, he/they could run on the Progressive Patriot ticket, but because it’s not a strict popular vote, he will need to run as a Democrat because he’s too liberal to run as a republican or libertarian, though it’s my opinion that a lot of millennial libertarians are actually quite liberal on some issues, like Social Security which they want to keep as is, along with maintaining public schools, the socialized justice system, maintaining major federal agencies with income tax dollars, etc. It is for those millennials including myself that I came up with the phrase Progressive Patriot because of the strong adherence to the Bill of Rights that the term would entail along with the upkeep of the good (social betterment) federal programs.
I predict …
… that if Hillary ends up being the DFL candidate for president, that of the states Obama won in 2008, Hillary will lose FL, OH, VA, NV, CO, & NM, IN and NC (and Indiana and North Carolina he lost the second time). In fact, if she is the candidate, I think the GOP victory map will look like 2004’s Bush v. Kerry election. Click here to take a look. Ohio is a strong swing state but I predict it will go to the GOP if Hillary is the alternative; and Virginia, which didn’t vote for Bill Clinton in either 1992 or 1996 would go to the republican candidate, especially if it’s Jeb Bush, simply to keep any and both Clintons from getting back into the White House. Security-conscious Virginia traditionally votes red. It would take someone superlatively awesome, like Obama was in 2008, to get VA to vote blue.
Also, I think waiting till the last minute to announce who will be the real GOP candidate is part of the Republican strategy in order to let Hillary get overconfident (“If it’s Ted Cruz, I’ve got this election in the bag”). I predict it will be a Clinton-Bush re-mix, this time Hillary v. Jeb instead of the 1992 Bill v. George I match.
Let’s see what happens after the midterm elections next month and go from there. I plan to heavily promote Senator Sanders through my blog, twitter and youtube or to create a petition to Jesse Ventura asking him to run if that becomes necessary, so please stay tuned and get ready to sign some kind of petition, either way!
Reference: 2012 Obama/Romney results http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/election-map-2012/president/
My first experience as a lobbyist went great – ok, I got lost on the way there and one of Senator Klobuchar’s kind staffers had to literally guide me as I walked down Washington Ave, providing visual landmarks for me to find my way. But other than THAT. (Oh, yes! I was using google maps. How did you know?)
The beauty of this particular meeting was that it was arranged by Free Press, an organization in Massachusetts dedicated to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They sent an email to all their members — in every state — asking us if anyone was interested in visiting their Senator in person to ask for a commitment on net neutrality. So thanks to Free Press who really made this day happen on the back end – I just had to show up! The funny thing, the lovely Rachel at Free Press explained during our first call, was that this would technically be an act of lobbying … which would make me, technically, a lobbyist! Instantly, an image of Glenda the Good Witch asking me, “Are you a good lobbyist or a bad lobbyist?” popped into my head. (Good, good!!)
The other great thing was that we had a teleconference the night before (moderated by the awesome Candace at Free Press) which allowed us to get to know each other a little bit and decide who was going to be the Note-taker, the Photographer, the Introducer, and the Asker. I volunteered to do the formal ask, where I would specifically say what it is that we were asking for as a group. I was definitely nervous the night before but really excited on the train on the way there. I kept repeating my ask over and over in my head as I chugged extra strong coffee. I had met Senator Klobuchar at the net neutrality meeting she had hosted with former FCC Chairman Genachowski back in 2010 at the U of M’s Carlson School of Business so I reminded myself to mention that too.
The first part of the meeting (which only lasted about 25 minutes total) consisted of each of us introducing ourselves and saying why net neutrality was important to us. I said that as an independent blogger, I want to know that my website will load just as quickly and easily as the New York Times’ website. Even though I don’t have any corporate backers, my voice should matter just as much and be just as easily heard by those who want to hear it. I stressed that I agreed with Senator Franken that at the deepest level, Net Neutrality is a 1st Amendment issue because it comes down to freedom of speech.
For some constituents, their reasoning was as simple as content shouldn’t be discriminated against (or shown preference toward) by Internet Service Providers, period (agree, agree! hear hear!) and for others it was about their livelihood – their profession – being dependent on an internet that allows their clients and customers to be able to reach them. Everyone I met was totally awesome and passionate about the importance of equality online and Adam, Senator Klobuchar’s aide, was totally welcoming and attentive during the entire session.
I wrapped it up with the formal ask, first saying that I was a longtime supporter of Senator Klobuchar’s and had voted for her twice now, first in 2006 and again in 2012, and that I knew she was a proponent of an open internet because she had hosted the meeting with the former FCC Chairman back in 2010, where I had briefly gotten to say hello to her, and that we all were appreciative of her efforts. Then I gave The Ask: We ask Senator Klobuchar to make a strong public statement in support of the FCC reclassifying broadband internet as a telecommunications service instead of an information service under Title II of the Communications Act which would allow the FCC to write and enforce rules that prevent the blocking and discrimination of content online by Internet Service Providers. One of my fellow lobbyists, Chad, suggested I email Adam directly the words of the ask and cc all of the others in the meeting so that Senator Klobuchar would have the words to review herself — Adam agreed that would be a good idea and replied back to us the very same day that he would get an answer for us and reply shortly.
If you have not made your own comment to the FCC in support of Net Neutrality, here is one link (you can also go straight to the FCC’s website but this one by US PIRG is easiest because they provide text for you). Here is what I said – and feel free to copy/paste it:
Please reclassify broadband internet as a telecommunications service instead of an information service which would allow the FCC to write and enforce rules that prevent the blocking and discrimination of content online by ISP’s. Please do not allow fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet.
Here’s me talking about it in Day 96 of my ongoing series, “A Year in the Life of the Progressive Patriot.”
I had fun making this video on my new youtube channel, The Sarbear Countdown … hope you enjoy.
God, a broken heart hurts like hell, doesn’t it?
For one, it’s the name of my new live online radio show, broadcasting from 10 pm to 11 pm Central Time on Sunday nights.
But the best way to describe one is the way I did on the first episode of the Progressive Patriot this past Sunday night:
“It’s Sunday night at 10 pm and you’ve joined your favorite progressive patriot for an evening of Social Justice promoting, Constitution loving, Bill of Rights upholding, Discussion, Interviews, and more on radio blog talk.
Hello, everyone! And welcome to tonight’s episode of the Progressive Patriot. I’m your host, Sarah Reynolds, and straight out of the gate, I want you to know that my goal – over the next hour – is to provide you with information and inspiration that will motivate you to take action.
Today, May 4, 2014 is the inaugural episode of my new radio show. For those of you who have been following me on twitter, you know that I come on about 5 minutes before midnight every night and then tweet for 2 hours or more a continuous stream of petitions, and that my slogan is a petition a day keeps the fascism away. I’ve got a phenomenal guest lined up for the very first show EVER of The progressive patriot who’s going to speak with us about the movement to get a living wage for workers also known as the #15now movement, but first, let me tell you what being a progressive patriot is. See, I hate labels, I’m not a can of soup so labels are not going to stick to me. Yes, I’m a millennial, yes, I lean to the left on most social justice issues, but my thought is that the widespread usage of either/or trigger words (such as left/right, liberal/conservative, democrat/republican, red/blue etc.) — it’s all very effectively dividing and conquering us as a country. And at some moment in time, we have to ask ourselves, is that the point?
So to me, being patriotic is loving my whole country, no exceptions, everybody. And that’s why I love my vets. Try to wrap your mind around being willing to die for anyone in our country at any time. The true patriot is happy to die for any American — not just the ones who share the same political beliefs. And that is why we need people to a) run for Congress and b) become journalists who are as happy to die for our country as those who join the military, True Patriots who are not afraid of being blackmailed or having their lives threatened if they defend the Bill Of Rights and expose government corruption.
The true patriot is happy to die for any American — not just the ones who share the same political beliefs.
The Founders delineated specific protections against specific kinds of tyranny with the Bill of Rights. And if you follow me on twitter, you know my favorite is our 1st Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. When we sign petitions, we’re essentially protesting injustice and objecting to abuse of power by authority. And sustained pressure is the key. Elected officials, rulers a.k.a. politicians, have the authority, but they won’t keep their job if we vote them out and vote better people in. Remember, not voting is a weighted vote for everything to stay the same. Tonight we’re talking about raising the minimum wage, but in the future we’ll talk about everything from closing Gitmo, repealing AUMF, repealing the PATRIOT Act (which is the opposite of how a patriot would act), pulling out of NAFTA a.k.a. the North American Free Trade Agreement which has caused the loss of 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs, to stopping the TPP a.k.a. the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, getting universal health care, income inequality, Wall Street Speculation which we should choke with 1% Tobin tax on every transaction; and saving Social Security by funding it via a flat tax on all income, not just the first $113,000.”
And then I wrapped it up with:
“As we close, I challenge you to ask yourself, “what action can I take to prevent future pain of the same nature?” Remember, regret is a teacher and progress is a verb. Have a great night now, and we’ll see you right back here next Sunday night at 10 pm central time, 11 pm eastern time, 8 pm Pacific time and 9 pm mountain. Good night.”
You can listen to the archive of the very first show here.
The following text is re-blogged with permission from JoslynStevens.com from her blog post entitled “Q & A with Sarah Reynolds.” Joslyn is a social justice activist who promotes income equality and the #RaiseTheWage movement, like myself. I was lucky enough to receive a DM from her asking me if I would like to be interviewed as part of her series of weekly Q & A’s with people who are making a progressive difference in our country and the world. We share a love of Jesse Ventura, Ralph Nader, and the Bill of Rights, and I admire her independent, 3rd party-loving passion and drive for truth and justice so of course I couldn’t wait to see what awesome topics she would come up with for me to write about. Please check out her blog when you have a chance and be sure to follow her on twitter at @JoslynStevens. If you enjoy her thought-provoking questions below, please click here to be taken directly to the original post in order to like and share. And if you enjoyed my thought-provoking answers, please like this post. Your comments are welcome, as always. Especially from any patriots who might want to be interviewed in Nathan Hale Park and talk about the (opposite of how a) Patriot (would) Act and closing Gitmo.
This week I spoke to Sarah Reynolds, author, messenger, and millennial about our government’s abuse of its power, what it means to be a patriot, and why there’s still time for the Millennial generation to change things.
Last month in North Carolina over 80,000 people came out for a Moral Monday protest against extreme austerity and the other weekend close to 100,000 Australians protested the corruption of their prime minister and government. I know you are a big fan of signing online petitions to bring about change but it seems a more hands on approach is necessary. In terms of citizen engagement, do you think petitions are just as an effective form of activism as opposed to hitting the streets?
A. If not more effective. What I’ve noticed — and this is so so unfortunate — is that when people’s commute is lengthened by protesters in
the street blocking the flow of traffic, the protest’s purpose (to shed light on an injustice) is actually now associated in the bystander’s mind
with the pain and discomfort of an inconvenience. People are funny. If you piss them off on the way home from work, they’ll hate you for a long time. It’s that whole primal reward and punishment part of the brain we have to appeal to as activists if we’re going to motivate the unaware and inactive to read up on issues and take action.
It’s my thought that if those same number of activists spent the same number of hours door-knocking, registering people to vote, and organizing monthly meetups where people engage in calling, post-carding and letter writing to Congress, that we would get a lot further a lot faster in our efforts to achieve progress. I always tweet that a petition a day keeps the fascism away and then follow up with the line from the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Any time we exert pressure on our rulers (politicians) to get what we want instead of what monied interests want, we are petitioning authority. And sustained pressure will be the key to our progress – we’ve got to request and remind, request and remind. Hey, Congress, Mr President, this is what we want.
And then, we have to remind these elected officials that they work for us. The day we turn 18, we become the employer of 4 federal employees: the President, our 2 U.S. Senators, and our 1 U.S. Representative. Yes, elected officials have the authority, but we have the power — the power to keep them on the payroll or vote them out.
By the same token, the history in our country of the right to peacefully assemble is very interesting: the right to gather became enshrined in the
1st Amendment because the Crown had prevented the early American colonists from gathering and discussing the issues of the day by making town meetings illegal. Essentially, King George knew if people could get together and share ideas, they would soon start organizing and protesting injustice and revolting against tyranny. Organization is like rocket fuel to a movement. Additionally, I 100% agree with you that taking to the streets is a great way to publicize a cause — and as long as the emphasis is on signing a petition, and writing, and calling Congress as soon as everyone gets home, I’m all for it, as step 1 in a 2 Part Action Plan.
You are passionate about and committed to seeing Gitmo closed and filmed yourself calling Obama on this issue. Here we are over 5 years into Obama’s presidency and Guantanamo Bay is still open and at least 76 prisoners, who have been exonerated, remain captive. What’s going on?
A. There are two issues here: the transfer of the 76 cleared-for-release “detainees,” or as you more accurately put it, prisoners, and the remaining 79 men who really could be charged and tried for crime in federal court or a military commission. But Congress has repeatedly passed legislation that prevents them from being transferred to the United States from Cuba. President Obama said in January of this year that, “The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees.” Ironically, the desires of the executive branch shouldn’t have anything to do with why they get charged and tried in federal court.
They should get charged and tried in federal court because Camp Justice should never have come into existence; there should never have been off-the-grid interrogations at Gitmo or anywhere else. AUMF — the travesty of legislation known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in the wake of 9/11 — is the only thing that allowed a “detention facility” off US soil used to hold people indefinitely without charge or trial to be built in the first place. You know, they could hurry up and do the military commissions right at Gitmo. They’re not doing that because of lack of evidence or evidence that was obtained through torture – so by delaying trial, Fed Gov is essentially admitting that they couldn’t get the guilty verdicts they want. And the truth is that there is a very real possibility that men who are guilty of engaging in terrorist acts could go free after a not-guilty verdict is rendered because the burden of proof that a trial requires might not be satisfied.
There’s a cost/benefits analysis built into our justice system: the founding fathers, the framers of our constitution, believed that it would be better if a hundred guilty people went free (due to lack of satisfying the burden of proof) than for one single innocent person to end up imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. This was their mathematical formula — a justice to injustice ratio! — for calculating the value of preventing injustice. They valued preventing injustice (wrongful imprisonment) 100 times more than getting justice (“rightful” imprisonment). Our entire court system is predicated on this concept, the idea and ideal that the price to prevent injustice is the cost of lost justice, and the founders had decided that the resulting margin of error was one that society should accept and be happy to pay, for the greater good.
And for a very specific greater good: to protect the common man or woman from a corrupt government that would plant evidence and/or charge the innocent – as an act of retaliation for protesting that government corruption – with crimes they did not in fact commit. So the founders made the guilty conviction a lot harder than the not-guilty one: the prosecutor has to sell 12 people (a whole jury) on guilt whereas the defense attorney only has to sell one person on doubt of that guilt. So due process ends up being a lot like the Yelp review filter: not all the guilty get caught but only a very few innocent people end up wrongly categorized.
The other half of the delay is the incredible amount of money that is being made from Gitmo: 2.7 million dollars a year isn’t the cost of each Gitmo detainee – it’s the price. The cost is less, so there’s a profit. Just the building being open is causing the whole Bill of Rights-violating set-up to act as a source of profit for an untold number of people. And that is the primary reason I believe that Congress doesn’t budge on the transfers – the military industrial complex is lobbying against it, and that means lots of re-election campaign funding dollars for lots of representatives and senators. Again, sustained pressure is the key: request and remind, request and remind.
Like many others, I love Jesse Ventura’s no-bullshit approach to the truth especially when it comes to confronting the greed of the one percent. Ventura has held office before and isn’t ruling out a 2016 run. Why do think a presidential ticket of Jesse Ventura and Dennis Kucinich would be good for America?
A. Oh, yes — my dream ticket would have Ventura for President, Kucinich for Vice President. Call it the Progressive Patriot Party. I love Jesse
Ventura!! And I love Dennis Kucinich — the man carries a copy of the Constitution around with him in his pocket. I LOVE YOU, DENNIS, if you’re reading this. (Kidding … mostly kidding). But seriously. I was seventeen and a senior in high school when Jesse Ventura ran for Governor in Minnesota in the fall of ’98. I missed being old enough to vote for him by six weeks — I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to vote in that
election. I was so excited about him as an independent politician. He had such an aura about him, what you refer to, Joslyn, as the no-bullshit,
take-no-prisoners, doesn’t suffer-fools-gladly approach, along with this neighborly, down to earth, what we call a true Minnesotan, personality. He just says what he’s thinking.
He’s not trying to polish it up or impress anyone, he speaks the truth and isn’t afraid to make a mistake, knowing full well the media will beat him over the head with the reminder of it every chance they get. He can handle it. We know he wants minimal government interference in personal preferences and civil liberties (like gay marriage, drug use, abortion, etc) but he understands that some things are better socialized, like the military. He’s a SEAL so he gets that while we ought to have a military (what I call the original Department of Homeland Security), we certainly don’t need to be spending billions of dollars every year enriching private security contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc. Not only is it more expensive, it’s not wise to ever give anyone an incentive to prolong war.
What a dangerous game that kind of greed engenders — building F35′s that don’t fly is the tip of the iceberg. And Kucinich is such an old school democrat. He really understands that he is to represent the people in everything he does, and that without taking care of our planet, future generations will be left with a legacy of ever increasing cancer rates due to chemicals in the air and water, that no mater how cheap nuclear power is, the costs of the inevitable tragic meltdown are far greater — and he said this years before Fukushima. He wants us to be done with war for profit (voted against invading Iraq post-9/11) and supports Medicare for All, as just one step in achieving income equality. The man loves his country and everyone in it, let’s put it that way. He proposed a Department of Peace and wants us to pull out of NAFTA – I love this guy.
Many people-powered political uprisings have been the result of food insecurity, a global problem, in countries like Egypt. Here, we have over 46 million people living in poverty so we’re seeing more families going hungry and food pantries popping up on college campuses. Given repeated cuts to the SNAP program and congress’ continued proposals to steal Social Security from seniors, do you see Americans finally having our own Arab Spring?
A. I hope it never comes to that because revolutions involve such chaos: women get raped, children have to witness horror, schools shut down, hospitals get looted — revolutions are hell, second only to hell of war itself. That’s the extreme side of it, of course. Can they be worth the outcome? Yes, definitely. I remain somewhat skeptical of the six of one, half a dozen of the other dictator-switch that happens so often in the Arab world. What I would like to see blossom in the hearts and minds of Americans are the buds of awareness of our own collective power. The people of Tunisia took to the streets because they do not have have the right to vote for representatives in a democratic republic also known as a constitutional republic (our system) or anything remotely close to our referendums and other forms of direct democracy.
We have the power here in the U.S. And more and more people are waking up to the responsibility that having power requires us to take. Social Security is a good example. President Obama and party-line dems thought they could pass chained CPI and the American people wouldn’t bat an eye last year. Wrong. We called, we wrote, we signed the petitions. And we did it – we succeeded at getting chained CPI off the table. This past summer we collectively prevented an attack on Syria the same way. It was amazing! Again it started out as a “support the President; you love Obama, right? Cuz you totally just re-elected him so do what he says, okay, you guys?” and we were all like, no. I wrote my Rep and my two Senators, and called all three and tweeted at them and told them, “hey, I voted for you before and I was happy to do it. You support an attack on a country that is not a threat to us? I’ll be writing in Nathan Hale in the next election, thanks.”
If more people continue to wake up and take action, and realize that we the people are in the superior position in the power/control/authority dynamic with our elected representatives, we won’t ever need an actual in-the-streets revolution. But good point on Social Security – they don’t quit, do they? If it’s not chained CPI, it’s Abby Huntsman saying we have to raise the age or reduce benefits. No, we can just remove the income cap, Abby, and tax all income, not just the first $117,000 per year, at the same rate. So all of us normal people with a moral compass that tells us to make sure the elderly aren’t starving in their old age have to keep reacting to the anti-Social Security crowd’s ploys with sustained pressure, the same way corporate lobbyists do, by informing Congress, “Don’t do what we want, we’ll find someone who will — next election.”
“There are two ways to get and maintain justice: protest the injustice and demand that a specific solution be implemented by those in the position of authority to make it happen OR occupy a position of authority and implement it yourself.” Our government isn’t listening to us so I take your quote to mean that more people need to run as Independents at the local level to bring about justice. Thoughts?
A. Oh, you read my blog post on “How to Adopt A Zero Tolerance for Weakness in Yourself”! Yes, more people ought to run as independents or even as democrats and republicans with either a progressive or libertarian bent, and not just at the local level, the federal level too. You know I eschew labels and will always say, “I’m not a can of soup so labels are not going to stick to me” because it’s part of this #OpDivideAndConquer, and by that I mean a strategic effort to use language that induces the feeling of Us and Them, Left and Right, and inevitably, right and wrong. And once people are divided, they’re conquered. And once they’re conquered, they stop speaking up because they think it doesn’t matter. So is the government really not listening to us or is it that not enough people are talking? Well, okay, yes – a combination of both. But one thing is for sure: the more we talk, the more they listen. And not the louder we talk.
The more: the frequency of protests (calls, letters, petitions, gatherings on a consistent basis) and the quantity of the people doing the protesting (in every state, organized, if by city, all the better). And we’ve got to stop viewing politicians through the lens of their self-adhered labels (which often turn out to be masks) too. I ask myself, what does this politician believe and believe in? Are they likely to stand up to greed in both its expressions, and protest greed for power and greed for money? Or are they lying liarpaths with the moral compass of styrofoam? Then I make my decision from there, regardless of whether they call themselves democrat, republican, green, independent, libertarian, or what have you. It’s really a common misperception that the party of individual congresspeople matters at all — we remind them, “you work for us. You don’t do what we want, you don’t keep your job. Bottom line.”
Thanks to Edward Snowden, Americans are now aware of the National Security Agency and their illegal data collection of our every communication. However, the Fourth Amendment 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act is supposed to provide some protection from government intrusion but it’s outdated and allows for the same thing. What do you think is the purpose for all of this data mining aside from “keeping us safe”?
A. And don’t forget President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333: “Most of NSA’s data collection authorized by order Ronald Reagan issued.” As I have said in the past, I love a good conspiracy theory as much as any Millennial daughter of a liberal Boomer, and if my mom were alive today, she would love that Snowden brought Ellsberg out of “whistleblower retirement,” if you will. And Ellsberg makes an excellent point that via PRISM, the system is in place for anyone to be blackmailed for anything by the NSA: with the literally limitless capacity to collect the details of our entire lives via our internet trails, the government could use the kind of porn we watch, the affairs we’re having, or the political candidates or political movements we might have preferred to keep supporting anonymously, or anything — any random seemingly innocuous site we visited without a second thought — against us. And how the Stasi worked most pervasively was to use the intel it gathered on/against certain individuals to get those easier targets to then provide the juicy and/or gory details of the deep dark secrets of the un-spy-on-able harder targets. So let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s a huge conspiracy. Maybe it is.
But I really don’t think it’s as sinister as gathering secrets to set up a Stasi network. I’m going to say it’s pure greed. If I were a betting woman, I would bet the house on greed for money, plain and simple. Piles and piles of money — our tax dollars — are sitting there and these war mongers want to rake in the money pile. “Oh, we need even more data to protect us from the Terr’ists, so hire more analysts, build more data centers, and don’t forget to outsource wherever possible at a 300% markup compared to in-house spies.” The desire to profit from everything as much as possible – unbridled greed – will be the cause of the fall of our empire before any other catalyst.
But … on the off chance there is something sinister going on, let me stress here that it’s imperative that we demand that our elected
representatives repeal the entire USA PATRIOT Act, and not just section 215. After all, Snowden said in his Greenwald interview that the NSA was hell bent on “making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.” Ellsberg describes this as “a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist ‘German Democratic Republic,’ whose goal was ‘to know everything.’”
And just in case, have everyone sign this one too: It’s a letter to your 2 Senators and 1 Rep asking them to support the Email Privacy Act, which would require law enforcement to get a warrant to view any email, the same as the law currently requires now for them to read any of our regular USPS mail.
On your website you write about patriotism, dying for your country, and giving thanks to those who have. It’s a word proudly claimed by conservatives who don’t really know the true meaning. What is patriotism?
A. Patriotism is true unconditional love for everyone in your country. The true patriot is happy to die for any American — not just the ones who share the same political beliefs. I try to wrap my mind and my heart around being willing to die for anyone in our country at any time. Every time I get trolled on twitter, I think, “hey, this person is expressing their right to freedom of speech, the same as I am” and I block them and move on. But the soldier, the vet, the true patriot – they’re happy to die so the troll can tweet word-vomit, you can blog about raising the wage, I can tweet @whitehouse every single night to close Gitmo, and the tea partiers can tell the President that Obamacare is communism. To the true patriot, all that matters is that someone always be there, ready and willing to give their life on demand as payment on an insurance policy against tyranny, as the premium that will insure that no government does to us again what the government we revolted against did to us.
The Founders delineated those tyrannical injustices with the Bill of Rights to insure that we’d be protected from specific violations. Freedom of speech is just one of many rights, but here’s an example using it. People will quote Voltaire and say, “I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the teeth your right to say it.” The true patriot lives this idealism as a lifestyle, always ready to die – to defend to *the death* – our right to protest injustice and object to abuse of power by authority, our right to practice any religion we choose, our right to be free from religion, our right to bear arms, our right to free speech and a free press, the right to a jury trial, the right to remain silent and make the accuser prove whether or not we’ve actually done something wrong in a court of law, the right to gather in protest or to gather to organize and discuss the government’s unjust actions out in the open, and the list goes on and on. That’s love – being willing to die for freedom, not because any specific person has earned it with behavior that deserves it, but simply because freedom itself is worth dying for.
Last week you tweeted, “Not voting at the polls is the same as voting with our silence for everything to stay the same.” Despite the high level of voter apathy and low approval of congress, voting matters and it’s a right we still have. It seems congress would prefer that we not vote so they can go back to pretty much electing themselves like they did before the 17th amendment. What do you think?
A. Well, members of congress definitely count on apathy to get re-elected, that’s for sure. Apathy, I believe, comes from a shortage of time. People literally don’t have the time to care: at the end of the day, after dealing with their survival needs (working, taking care of offspring, etc.), they’re literally and figuratively spent. The 24 hours in their Time Account is tapped out and they have to go to sleep, without one minute left to read an article or sign a petition. And you make a great point — prior to the 17th Amendment, it was state legislatures that elected each state’s U.S. Senators.
In my state, the only reason pro-consumer, anti-Citizens United, Al Franken was able to win the senate race was because he was running in 2008, the same year people turned out in droves to elect Barack Obama and many — but not all — voted for Franken because they voted Democrat all the way down the ticket (it was such a close call here in Minnesota that there had to be a recount of all the ballots and it took months). There’s a very real possibility that Senator Franken will not be re-elected this fall because the people simply don’t turn out to vote in high enough numbers for Senate and House elections for the outcomes to represent the actual desires of the populace, so in a way, it’s as if the 17th amendment is repealed by default.
The same party-line establishment dems and republicans are predominantly the ones who take the time to go and vote in those elections, so yeah, it might as well be the state legislatures choosing the Senate, the same as it was pre-Amendment 17. I call this winning by a default plurality– probably every politician holding office in our country won because the majority of people didn’t vote at all.
I’m always so sad when I meet people who do not realize how lucky they are to live in a country where we get to vote. I’ll never forget going with my mom to vote when I was 7, in the Bush/Dukakis election in 1988: she lifted me up in the tiny booth to show me the ballot and explained that people had died for us to be free of a monarchy, to be able to elect our leaders, and that those people, during the Revolutionary War, didn’t fight so that they would get the right to vote, because they wouldn’t get to, and they knew it. They knew they were going to die on a bloody battlefield. No, they fought so that we would get the right to vote. And they were happy to die, to put another generation’s happiness above their own.
I am so thankful for the right to have my voice and opinion literally counted – I know I’m honoring all vets, living or dead, when I cast my ballot. It’s not an option or an obligation to me, it’s a true privilege. I love voting – I try to take the day off work when I can and enjoy the whole day of being alive and not living under a monarchy or a fascist regime.
You’ve been on hiatus for almost a year now from blogging and posting Youtube videos mainly using Twitter to communicate your message for social and economic justice and to incite progressive action. When can we expect you back?
A. Spring time is always a productive time of year for me — in some ways, I do hibernate during winter which here in Minnesota lasts about 5 months; some years, it’s even longer. On the calendar for this spring is more Nathan Hale Park Interviews (the snow has to melt off the bench though or my butt gets wet during the interview), and specifically I’d like to interview someone from my co-op, the Mississippi Market, about how they run a business paying everyone a liveable wage and how that same business model could be applied to large companies. I’m a huge proponent of the #FifteenNow movement for a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage and it would be a dream interview to have Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant on the bench to discuss how she mobilized an entire city to vote for her and support her $15/hr minimum wage agenda.
I’d also love to interview Colonel Morris Davis and Coleen Rowley about being whistleblowers: his first hand experience with the Gitmo military commissions and her front end experience with terrorist act prevention. And I’d really like the opportunity to have a conversation with CIA Director John Brennan if he had a chance to make it out to St Paul some time. I’d ask him a few questions about the differences between the PATRIOT Act and how a Patriot would actually act. I’d also like to pitch to him my idea for an overt op (like a covert op, only different) for closing Gitmo: what it would be is a collaborative effort to meet with every single member of Congress, 535 people, in 90 days, to get them to pass the legislation required to transfer all the men in Gitmo to a prison on U.S. soil and finally close the detention facility in Cuba for good. I would be the warm sell, he would be the deal closer. Gitmo isn’t going to get closed until someone on the inside comes forward and says, hey, what we did by opening this prison was not good (or “was the best decision we could make under the circumstances at the time”), but we can stop doing it now. I’m all about idealism so my gift is inspiring people to consider doing the right thing.
To actually get Congress to vote to close Gitmo will require upping the ante: someone who can apply sustained pressure and make good use of the power of persuasion. That person needs to be big and scary and federal, in order to radiate the sense of safety and confidence necessary to convey that “bad guys” getting transferred to a prison in the U.S. will not be the end of the world. As I always say, it really could be worse – instead of (alleged) terrorists, they could be child pornographers and child rapists; and we give those people a trial in a court of law, don’t we? To put it into perspective, those kinds of pedophiles aren’t under a religious delusion that violence is justified; they’re fully aware that they are hurting minors and/or profiting from it. Bin Laden’s stated goal was to ruin our country financially — he wasn’t even trying to morally bankrupt us, but here were are 12 years later holding people without charging them with, or trying them for, a crime, 76 of whom could be released. Indefinite detention is torture! There must be someone inside the intelligence community who is brave enough and patriotic enough to volunteer to help Congress realize it’s not too late — that there’s still time to restore our nation’s moral authority, what President Obama called our greatest currency in the world.
Thank you so much for interviewing me, Joslyn! I love your passion and drive — it’s so inspiring. It’s up to our generation to shift the paradigm and it’s people like us who are making it happen right now.
You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged since the 4th of July, and I haven’t uploaded a video to YouTube since June.
Since I began tweeting daily in April and interacting with the ever increasing members of my twitter family, I’ve come to feel very attached to you all. I made a major change to my life/schedule by quitting the 2 part time jobs I had for 2 years and trading them for one full time job back in July, and it’s been quite the positive change. On the other hand, ever since the move, I’ve found myself relegating my social justice/progressive patriotism work strictly to twitter with zero youtube/blog actvity. Due to a recent twitter war I participated in on the topic of a living wage for fast food workers, I realized that you guys know a lot about what I believe and the actions I want us all to take to ensure a more just and ethical world, but you may not know why, simply because I do not tweet much about myself (though my youtube videos do tend to divulge more of my personal feelings/experiences). For example, the other day someone on twitter assumed that I do not like hard work. I thought that was interesting because I’ve never tweeted anything to indicate that and ironically, the opposite is true. Moreover, if the positions were reversed, and I was following this person (me) who spends two hours tweeting petitions to be signed every night and seems focused on the closing of Gitmo almost to the point of obsession, I would conclude that not only does the person like hard work and indeed has a very high pain threshold, but that she also seems not to mind working hard toward that social justice goal– for free! For no pay! In the process of the back-and-forth-tweeting, the topic of passion came up, and I thought about how I WISH my passion — motivating our government/elected officials to uphold our Constitution and Bill of Rights in the Progressive Patriot fashion — was something I could convert into a job. Good grief — that would be amazing.
And you may have noticed that I’ve started to tweet earlier in the evening and for only an hour, as of just a few days ago, so I want to update everyone — but especially my Twitter Family who I would otherwise only communicate in 140 characters or less with — on what’s going on. I figure if you’re reading this far, then you must be one of the closer members of my twitter family and might appreciate the rare view into my personal life.
Back in July I made a much needed break with the Corporation (Ecolab). I started there in 2011 and for the first time in my life, worked for a big corporation that wouldn’t give full time hours, and had implemented that strategy as a way of deliberately increasing turnover. Starting pay was $13.00/hour regardless of experience or education (not the norm at big corps) and everyone in our customer service training group was hired on for 30 hours a week, part time. Sometimes I wonder why I worked at a certain job — what was the point? Because it’s never to stay indefinitely. I work simply to have money to pay the bills so that I can work on my world-service/social justice goals — without pay — in my free time. On every project (what I call my jobs/tenures at the Big Corporations, so far Target, GE, Ecolab, and a myriad of other companies via temp agencies, Merrill Corp, Land O’Lakes, et al), I gained insight into the inner workings of corporations — and there are many good things about them, despite the greed that casts such a dark shadow at the levels of upper management. The efficiency of a corporation is unrivaled. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years from them is that if you just keep working, as hard as you can, and take regular breaks, you can’t help but progress (the verb, not the noun). I apply that reasoning to every personal goal I’ve made and stay motivated that way because I never ever feel that I’m not making progress. Why? Because I always am.
But specifically at Ecolab, there were two reasons I was there — and I do mean this in a spiritual sense. I don’t view myself as someone who has free will in the conventional way. I feel that I am moved around on the chess board of life to wherever I can bring the most truth or joy or service or love to people. And there were 2 super important things accomplished during my time there. The 2nd was that I found out (because, you know, people talk … and other people listen ) that in 1988, the hiring wage for a customer service rep at Ecolab was $8.00/hour and everyone was hired full time. Guess what eight 1988 dollars converts to in 2011 dollars? $15.19. And they were hiring at $13.25 when I left in 2013 but eight 1988 dollars turns out to be $15.92 in 2013 dollars. How did this conversation happen to come about? One of the assistant supervisors was celebrating her 25th anniversary (in 2013) and was telling me a story about when she was a “poor little CSR making only $8.00 an hour” back when she started. My jaw dropped (I don’t have a poker face — I am really good at getting people to tell me everything they know, but not at not reacting to that information) and I said, “In 1988? You were hired at eight dollars an hour — full time?” Yes, she said. Everyone was. You had the option to go down to part time but most people didn’t. I practically teleported back to my desk where I googled “inflation calculator” and found this spectacular one from Dollar Times. To put it even more disappointingly into perspective, I was hired on at Target Corp as a full time returned check collector at $12.35/hour for the 1st 90 days, then $12.72/hour after that grace period, back in 2004 ($15.85 in 2013 dollars), and $13.75/hour plus incentive as a full time debt collector at GE Money Bank in 2008 ($15.03 in 2013 dollars). But learning that tidbit was most likely secondary to the other goal: On the first day of training, I was seated next to a woman a few years younger than I am who had recently given up on online dating. We hit it off right away, having both worked for corporate coffee shop chains, both loving French press coffee, and enjoyed a conversation or two about politics and religion. As I had just gone on a date with someone from Ok Cupid and was about to go on one with someone from Match, I was unsubtly encouraging her to go back on (what I call the Full Sarah Effect, including random bursts into song). I had literally just ordered a slew of books off the internet on the topic and lent her them, one by one. She was a very unique case, looking for something very specific, and at that point was a little despondent. Over the next 8 months, long after I had cancelled my memberships to all the sites I’d been on, I would check in with her everyday to make sure she was still communicating with her matches. She had one false start — from the way she described this guy, I knew he was not a good match, and I did my best to assure her that her soulmate was looking for her too and that the doubt/hesitation she was feeling was the indicator that this guy was not the one. Boom — the next guy was it. He exactly personified the unique components she was looking for and so what if he lived a thousand miles a way? I said. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. They got married in June at her parents’ house (a year after being matched) and on the drive home from the wedding, I knew I was done. I got that familiar feeling, like a click, as if everything is clicking into place, and knew that I would be leaving that job soon. (The $8.00/hour conversation happened a month or two months before that June wedding). I applied for my current job a few days later and started July 22. (This whole time of course, since there was no way in hell I could live on $390/week, I was also working 16-20 hours a week at a retail store as a part time associate, so I’d work there from 9:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. usually 3 mornings a week and then catch the 1:27 bus to get to Ecolab by 2:00 and work till 8:00 pm.)
Those kinds of experiences are not unique for me. There’s always something I “have to” do at every job that has nothing to do with the job description and then it’s on to the next company. And all the “overcoming objections” skills I learned at Target as a debt collector, honed at GE as a debt collector, and am using again in my current position as a debt collector, are skills I apply every single night on Twitter and in my youtube videos and in my blog. People don’t always naturally want to do the right thing and lots of good people on twitter don’t feel motivated to take action at all. I love inspiring people. I love inspiring people to take action and reminding them that they are not alone in their desire for justice and truth.
So here’s the bad thing that happened. I’ve gotten sick 3 times since I started the new job because I haven’t been getting enough sleep. And of course, I still went to work every time I was sick instead of staying home to rest which prolonged the cold, ear infection, and hacking cough. The cough that sounded like pneumonia lasted 3 weeks. Now, I am a very healthy, naturally resilient person. For me to be sick for three weeks is bizarre. I’ve never been sick longer than 4 days in my life. I finally stopped coughing up crap on Friday. And that’s when I realized I have to go to sleep by midnight, no matter what. While I was working the 2 jobs, I never had to get up earlier than 8:30 a.m. and some days not before 11 a.m. Now I get up at 6:30 a.m. 4 of 7 days a week; tweeting till 3 a.m. is just not conducive to a healthy immune system when you end up exposing yourself to all kinds of viruses on 3.5 hours of sleep. So last weekend I spent the entire two days catching up on sleep and by Sunday night, knew I wanted to make some kind of adjustment. It has been really hard. My inner clock is very set on 2nd shift mode so I have been making myself get at least 6 hours of sleep and get into my bed with eyes closed no later than 12:30 a.m.
Making videos is now a little more challenging as well; my friend who films them was also a coworker at the previous job, so we could film them during a morning I wasn’t also working the other job, before work. It’s not impossible — we can always film on weekends, but I have been so frequently sick and then consequently unprepared, that I haven’t made one I thought was good enough to upload. We did go to Nathan Hale Park in August and make one on Snowden and Manning, but it was 45 minutes long. I thought that was just way too long and wanted to refilm it, and make it more concise. This is hard for me — you know how I memorize a lot of info and then have my progressive patriot commentary. So I thought, 45 minutes isn’t too long for a radio show! So I downloaded the app for Spreaker to make it an internet broadcast. This is definitely still in the works, as are more NHP videos.
So how do you like this journal format for a blog post? All my other posts are about some kind of political or social justice issue. This one is about me. I have a feeling that it will increase my effectiveness as a social justice activist/Bill of Rights enthusiast if I interact more with people on twitter and share more of my personal life via my blog. After my 48 hours of hibernating last weekend, I woke up very refreshed and this idea to make the Messages to Millennials as much about the messenger as the messages occurred to me. It’s not one of those things where you can go back though, and because of this, I slept on it (for 7 nights). Outcome? I decided to go for it.
Be sure to watch for more blog posts and Sunday Sarah Updates now that I’ve got my schedule more mapped out. Now that I only have the one job, my weekends (if not spent catching up on sleep, which I hope to never do again) are free to blog/research/record. I may even tweet a selfie!