So, Foreign Interference In An Election Is Illegal? I Have Two Words..

In June, Ellen Weintraub, chair of the Federal Election Commission wrote, “ Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election, this is not a novel concept.”

I find it amusing (sic) that the media is now jumping all over these words. I have two words to offer in response-

Steele Dossier.

Remember the Steele Dossier? That was the report compiled by former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele in 2016 and included numerous accusations against Trump. One of those accusations was the infamous “pee tape”. The video never materialized and absolutely none of the accusations included in the report were ever verified.

All of the information in the Steele Dossier allegedly came from Russian government sources. However, doubts have arisen which make it far more likely that the sources were from Ukraine, who is an adversary to Russia. This makes far more sense, as Steele himself is rabidly anti-Russia.

The contents of the Steele Dossier were conveniently “leaked” to the media, though numerous copies had been passed around DC for months prior to the publication.

The Steele Dossier was initially funded by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website. The investigative firm was Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm who employed Christopher Steele for the purpose. In the Beacon stage of funding, the dossier included only information available from public sources.

The Beacon then stopped funding the dossier after Trump was named the GOP nominee. At that time, Fusion GPS approached the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign with the offer to continue opposition research on Trump. The offer was accepted and Fusion GPS was funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s law firm, Perkins Coie until November 2016, paying Fusion GPS a reported $1.6 million.

Aspects of the dossier were handed over by John McCain to the FBI, seemingly in bits and pieces. The FBI has admitted to paying Fusion GPS and Steele at least $100,000 directly.

Keep in mind that the Steele Dossier was conducted covertly. There is much debate about how much the FBI used the dossier in their investigation of Trump/Russia “collusion”, which culminated in the Mueller Report. Which, if you have noticed, has disappeared from the radar. The FBI has admitted to using the dossier to obtain multiple FISA warrants, in spite of the fact that none of the allegations had been confirmed at the time. As of this time, the FBI and Adam Schiff have made public claims that “most of the allegations” have been confirmed, yet not one single specific example has been offered.

The Mueller report made vague reference to the dossier, yet never offered any verification of any of it, save the dates and times of certain meetings, which were basically public record and not denied by participants as having occurred.

Now, compare this to Trump’s phone call and public statements. There have been no overt or implied threats issued regarding monetary aid to Ukraine. Any reading of the transcript which says such a threat was issued is inserting words which were not spoken.

Compare this to the fact that the DNC and Hillary campaign were clearly documented to have paid for opposition research, allegedly aided by agents of a foreign government. Then that information being used by a US government agency, then the allegations being released to the public.

There is no defense of Biden openly bragging about blackmailing the Ukrainian president using $1 billion of US taxpayer money so that an investigation would be canceled involving corruption by the company his son worked for.

In no way is this a defense of Trump’s behavior or claiming his behavior was legal. It is one thing if a separate sovereign country conducts an investigation which confirms corruption by US officials/candidates or their family members. It is another thing entirely to request other countries to conduct such investigations. If this is not illegal it should be.

This involves corruption on all sides. Trump, Biden, Obama and Hillary. Each and every one of them should be indicted and help to account, to include criminal charges.

However, it is the height of cognitive dissonance to insist Trump’s behavior should be considered criminal while ignoring the Steele Dossier and Biden’s blackmail of a foreign elected president. If you oppose corruption, you must oppose ALL corruption. Not just when it involves “the other guys”.

The Case For Federally Funded Elections

Many people realize that one of the biggest problems we have with our electoral and legislative systems in this country are based in corporate control of our government. Many have focused on Citizens United in the belief that rescinding CU would solve this problem. However, this is not true. We had corporate money in politics and elections long before CU came along. Rescinding CU would be nothing but a symbolic measure which had no actual effect whatsoever.

Let’s begin with election campaigns. The majority of election campaigns are mostly funded by corporate and rich donors. Those donors don’t fund campaigns out of the goodness of their hearts or dedication to democracy. They fully expect to gain from those “donations” in the form of legislation favorable to them. Which they typically get.

The only real way that we can solve this issue is by federally funded elections. It would be more difficult to eliminate PACs, since SCOTUS ruled decades ago that corporate speech is free speech. That’s difficult to argue against without impacting other forms of free speech. However, by eliminating all direct donations to campaigns, we could have the potential to move the goalposts in our favor and reduce the so-called “debt” any candidate has to their “donors”.

Before I even launch into the advantages of federally funded elections, let me address the most common objection to it. That we would have to pay for it. The fact is, you already pay for election campaigns and lobbying. You pay for it with every consumer dollar you spend. With profits corporations make and turn around to “donate”. With low wages from employers so they can reserve their funds for lobbying. With subsidies handed to corporations which cost you, the consumer and taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars a year. You pay with military contracts paid by a “defense” budget which increases tens of billions of dollars every single year. That money gets spent on campaign donations, lobbying and advertising. When Boeing, Raytheon and other DoD contractors advertise on corporate media, that is your tax money they are spending to do so. Now, don’t you feel secure and safe?

One advantage to federally funded elections would be that we could very well include equal funding for not the top two parties but the top four parties. I’ve said on many occasions that one option is a mandate, two options are an ultimatum. It takes at least three options to be a choice.

Another advantage to federally funded elections would be that a candidate would not have to be rich to be a candidate. The majority of congressional representatives are millionaires or billionaires. There are several reasons for this. One is that the rich tend to have more direct connections to other rich people, which gives them an advantage when seeking funding for their campaigns. The other is that it costs money to take time off from work to campaign. That may still remain true, unless we included basic living salaries for candidates, at least once they gained the nomination for their parties. At that point they would no longer be beholden to anyone but the American people they are seeking to represent.

One more advantage would be freeing time up for elected officials to actually do their jobs. Members of Congress have been documented to spend half of every single work day making calls to “donors”. They often start raising money for their next campaign as soon as they assume office or win an election. Thus, they are calling and asking for money from corporate and rich entities while in office, during the very hours they are supposed to be legislating and attending to their official duties associated with their office. It doesn’t even matter if they do favors for their donors, they are already spending 50% of their time not doing what they were elected to do!

Of course, campaign funding reform would only be the beginning but a very important one. To have a truly representative government, reform would have to include other measures.

Some have proposed measures which limit elected officials from acting as lobbyists for a specific time frame after leaving office. My own proposal goes much further. Make corporate lobbying a criminal offense subject to mandatory prison time for both lobbyist and lobbied official. The most recent estimate I heard states that there are 8 lobbyists in DC for every member of Congress.

A Duke University study several years ago found that if 100% of the American public supported specific legislation, that had absolutely NO affect on the legislation passing. However, if corporate/rich donors supported legislation, the chances of that specific legislation passing were 60%, even if the public was 100% opposed to that legislation.

In this particular case, the most powerful would of course claim that making lobbying illegal would be an infringement of their freedom of speech. That’s not true at all. They would still have their freedom of speech. They would just not have ready access to elected officials whom the general public has no access to on an equal basis. It is the direct access to elected officials whom they hold in debt which needs to be considered a criminal offense.

Of course, they could always use advertising to try and sway public opinion. The majority of that advertising would be via corporate media. I’ve told people for years to turn off corporate media. Stop letting corporations think for you.

Though the best option would be allowing them their voice. As long as it is in a public venue, announced in advance with the general public allowed to attend and speak for or against any legislation proposed. Then we would have complete transparency of any lobbying taking place.

Whether by advertising or in public venues, that would completely eliminate any claims by corporations and the rich that their freedom of speech had been impacted. They would have freedom of speech but it would have to be in full public view, not behind closed doors, not using bank accounts. The general public would also have our freedom of speech. With our wallets. If we object to certain legislation, we vocalize it. If our voices are not heard, we boycott. It’s just that simple. Money speaks louder than words (or even human lives) to capitalists.

Now, if you disagree, feel free to say so but include what suggestions you have which you think are better. Dissent without an alternative is worth nothing. It’s all about solutions.

Just Stay Calm

This is one of the biggest problems I see in our society, especially coming from centrists.

“Just stay calm.”

We’ve been told at work to not discuss politics, it may offend someone. Everyone I work with is chronologically adult. Obviously they cannot handle holding a conversation with an opposing viewpoint without claiming being offended. Shut it down. Don’t talk about it. Keep it to yourself.

This has been one of the failing points of the Progressive movement for decades. Too many claiming to be Progressive have been neoliberals crying, “Be nice! Don’t raise your voice! Compromise! Be pragmatic! Don’t offend anyone!”

If you can’t tell, I’ve been over playing nice for quite some time now. I’m over being calm. It’s time for all of us to be over being calm. Pragmatism? Fuck you.

I am also done playing by the rules. Write me up for discussing politics at work. These rules of not discussing anything are how we never reach consensus. Know who is able to discuss politics in large groups? The religious right. Yet most of them aren’t really disuccing anything. They’re listening, being instructed what to think. We are allowed to listen to MSM pundits tell us what to think while they are paid to present specific views by corporations hell-bent on destroying all life as we know it for their profits.

We need more venues for the Progressive left to gather and have conversations. The Establishment fears this. The far right corporate slave hive cult mind is terrified we may enact policies which expand human rights,including their own.

There is a phenomenon where psychiatric patients and prison inmates become so accustomed to the institutions they have been incarcerated in that the mere thought of being discharged fills them with terror. If they have been there for years, they may do anything to get back in. This is the condition this country is in. Many people have never traveled outside the US, some never outside their state, barely outside their county. Hence, they have been incarcerated their entire lives and don’t know what the outside world looks like. They are fully convinced that restriction is freedom, denial is opportunity, that enslavement is liberty. They measure their freedom by how much they can enforce oppression on others.

Lack of medical care? Can’t afford your life saving medications? Watching your child suffer because you cannot afford a doctor? Just stay calm.

Election rigging? No paper trails? Corporate money buying elections? Just stay calm.

Corporate money buying policies? Your paycheck subsidizing corporate profits? Elected officials slaves to Wall Street? Just stay calm.

Racism? Sexism? Religious prejudice? Old white men determining what rights a woman has with her body while pedophiles and sexual predators walk free or get elected to office? Just stay calm.

Laid off? Social support being denied, cut from existence? Not sure where your next meal will come from, if you can provide food and shelter for your child? Just stay calm.

Another war? Afraid you or your adult child may be drafted soon? Fears of nuclear annihilation? Just stay calm.

One in 15 Americans behind bars, often for non-violent drug offenses? Prison inmates taking over paying jobs while you pay for prison corporations to make profits? Just stay calm.

Biased media spewing propaganda, outright lies and opinions with no facts or evidence in between ads for military contractors, drug, oil and insurance companies? Just stay calm.

Poisoned air, poisoned water, poisoned soil, unsafe medications? Just stay calm.

Temperatures rising, insane weather patterns, melting polar caps, failing crops while fracking and oil sales skyrocket? Just stay calm.

I’m sick of being calm. I’m sick of you being calm. You need to stop being calm. Maybe your only focus is Medicare For All. That isn’t going to save you from all these other threats. The threats you want to ignore. We cannot afford incremental change. It is time for radical change. Not tomorrow, not next year. Now.

I will not advocate violence but we are way past the point where we should remain calm. It’s asking an innocent man sentenced to lethal injection to remain calm while the needle is placed in his arm.

When do you think we should no longer be calm? When your latte gets cold? When your stock portfolio crashes? When your Lexus breaks down and you can’t get parts? Will it be okay to not be calm then? Why do you need to wait for the train to hit you personally while you’re standing on the tracks watching millions of others being crushed and the train is accelerating?

Stop being calm. Stop telling me to be calm. If I offend you, I’m not sorry.

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