Categories
Explainer

Breaking Down the Phone Call Between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky

“I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation in Ukraine … There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … it sounds horrible to me.”

Let’s break it down:

  • President Trump attempted to solicit the support of a foreign government in aid of his own 2020 campaign, this may be in violation of Federal Campaign Finance Laws.[1]
  • This request came immediately after President Zelensky asked about military aid to combat Russia

President Trump repeatedly asked that an investigation be opened into former Vice-Pesident Joe Biden and his role in the firing of Viktor Shokin, a Ukrainian prosecutor. Trump claims that firing was because Biden feared his son was being investigated.

This is a complete mischaracterization of the facts.

After Ukraine’s revolution, Ukrainian President Poroshenko was dealing with a slew of corruption scandals:

  • International Monetary Fund’s assistance of a $1.8 billion loan to help the Ukrainian banking system disappeared offshore in accounts owned by Shokin.[2]
  • Shokin fired prosecutors who were working on corruption cases against his own corrupt officials.[3]
  • Following pressure from Western Allies, the Ukrainian parliament overwhelmingly voted to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
  • Western Allies and the European Union celebrated the ousting.[4]
  • Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko debunked President Trump’s conspiracy:““[f]rom the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, he did not violate anything,” and added “Hunter Biden cannot be responsible for violations of the management of Burisma that took place two years before his arrival.”^[5]
  • Just days before his conversation with Zelensky, Trump froze aid allocated to Ukraine.[6]

The White House continues to mislead by claiming that aid was frozen due to corruption, but a letter from the Pentagon certified Ukraine had taken the necessary action to decrease corruption 2 months before President Trump blocked aid.[7]

On the topic of corruption, the Trump administration had tried to cut billions of dollars from corruption fighting campaigns globally including millions in anti-corruption programs in Ukraine.[8]

Military Aid Background

  • One month before the phone call, the Pentagon announced plans to provide $250 million to Ukraine. The money was earmarked for security cooperation in the form of training and equipment to aid Ukraine’s military rebuild following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[9] [10]

Following the phone call a whistle blower from DNI filed a complaint:

 “[President Trump was] using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the US 2020 election,” [12]

Finally, U.S. Ambassador to the EU and major Trump campaign donor Gordon Sondland told Congressional investigators that this was a quid pro quo deal.[13]

Then, top U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor testified to Congress that President Trump extorted Zelensky, withholding $400 million in military aid in exchange for Zelensky publicly acting out a fake news script about opening up an investigation into Biden. [14]


  1. Washington Post – How Trump’s Ukraine call could violate campaign finance laws

  2. Reuters – Corruption in Ukraine is so bad, a Nigerian prince would be embarrassed

  3. Kyiv Post – Demonstrators protest Shokin’s firing of anti-corruption prosecutors

  4. New York Times – Ukraine Ousts Viktor Shokin, Top Prosecutor, and Political Stability Hangs in the Balance

  5. Washington Post – Former Ukraine prosecutor says Hunter Biden ‘did not violate anything’

  6. Wall Street Journal – Trump Put Hold on Military Aid Ahead of Phone Call With Ukraine’s President

  7. The Hill – Pentagon letter certified Ukraine had taken action to decrease corruption before White House blocked aid

  8. Washington Post – Trump administration sought billions of dollars in cuts to programs aimed at fighting corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere

  9. Military Times – Russia’s conflict with Ukraine: An explainer

  10. Defense News – Here’s what you need to know about the US aid package to Ukraine that Trump delayed

  11. BBC – White House ‘tried to cover up details of Trump-Ukraine call’

  12. PBS – Read what the inspector general said about the ‘urgent’ whistleblower concern

  13. Wall Street Journal – Sondland Told House Panels Trump’s Ukraine Pressure Was Quid Pro Q

  14. The Intercept – Trump Pressed Ukraine’s President to Act Out a Fake News Script, Live on CNN

Categories
Current Events Explainer Video

Kavanaugh is One Sick Dude

Last week, the allegation that Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted a girl at a party in high school threatened to derail Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. That was bad, yet Republicans (namely Mitch McConnel pushed on)

Now, as Kavanaugh’s accuser prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, two more women have come forward, one to say that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a party at Yale in the 1980s, the other alleging some very serious and disgusting misconduct by Kavanaugh and Mark Judge as high schoolers:

Julie Swetnick

On Wednesday lawyer Michael Avenatti released the sworn deposition of Julie Swetnick, who details a string of serious allegations against Kavanaugh and friend Mark Judge at house parties in 1980 and 1981:

Here’s the full deposition, via Avenatti:

Swetnick’s allegations aren’t made lightly:

Swetnick’s allegations sure do sound a lot like the recollections of Mark Judge’s college girlfriend:

Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep. (Barbara Van Gelder, an attorney for Judge, said that he “categorically denies” the account related by Rasor. Van Gelder said that Judge had no further comment.)

[The New Yorker]

Christine Blasey Ford

Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, was the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh of assault. She sent a confidential letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in early July. She told her story publicly in the Washington Post on September 16.

Ford previously described the attack in a couple’s therapy session with her husband in 2012 and in an individual therapy session the following year.

Ford says that sometime in the early 1980s Kavanaugh assaulted her at a house party in Montgomery County, Maryland while his friend Mark Judge looked on:

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

[The Washington Post]

Deborah Ramirez

On Sunday, the New Yorker published an account of sexual misconduct from a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who was a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale.

Ramirez said that, when both she and Kavanaugh were freshmen at Yale, she was invited by a friend on the women’s soccer team to a dorm-room party. She recalled that the party took place in a suite at Lawrance Hall, in the part of Yale known as Old Campus, and that a small group of students decided to play a drinking game together. “We were sitting in a circle,” she said. “People would pick who drank.” Ramirez was chosen repeatedly, she said, and quickly became inebriated. At one point, she said, a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction. Later, she said, she was on the floor, foggy and slurring her words, as that male student and another stood nearby…

A third male student then exposed himself to her. “I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.” She recalled remarking, “That’s not a real penis,” and the other students laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to “kiss it.” She said that she pushed the person away, touching it in the process… She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,'” she said. “It was his full name. I don’t think it was just ‘Brett.’ And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there.”

[The New Yorker]

In a statement to the New Yorker, Kavanaugh said, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen… This is a smear, plain and simple.” Two of the male classmates whom Ramirez accuses of egging Kavanaugh on at the party said they didn’t remember such an incident occurring. Six other classmates who describe themselves as “the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale” also released a statement denying the incident, writing, “We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it — and we did not.”

Two of the classmates who signed the statement supporting Kavanaugh’s account soon after asked the New Yorker to remove their names.

Bart O’Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh_yearbook_page.jpg

The accusations come from high school, so what was Kavanaugh up to at that time. The Georgetown Prep ‘83 Yearbook offers some clues. Let’s focus on the Senior Class entries of Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh (whose entry is pictured above). For Mark Judge’s entry, go to this twitter feed and scroll down about 2/3 of the way.

When you do, you’ll find the following:

Kavanaugh:

Judge— Have You Boofed Yet?

Judge:

Bart, have you boofed yet?

The joke? They were asking each other if either had had anal sex yet.

Clearly, Bart, is Brett Kavanaugh, in Judge’s post-rehab memoir, Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk, “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” A lot of wink, wink, nod, nod stuff going on here.

Here’s how “Bart O’Kavanaugh” was described in that memoir:

In “Wasted,” Judge also describes an exchange with a young woman at a party when talk arose of a friend who puked in a car:
“Do you know Bart O’Kavanaugh?”
“Yeah. He’s around here somewhere.”
“I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.”
“Yeah. He passed out on his way back from a party.”
Yup, Brett Kavanaugh is a degenerate drunk who gang rapes people. Honestly, pretty much par the course for Republicans these days. Now, watch this and laugh. Or cry:

Categories
Current Events Explainer

Devin Nunes Dramatically Changed his Positions on Russia in the First Half of 2016. Why?

Want to blow your mind? Go read Devin Nunes’ 2014 position on Russia, you’ll be shocked at what he wrote. Here’s his policy plan for dealing with “the bear out there”:

1. Give more help to nations that are threatened by Russia. President Obama is supporting a stronger NATO presence in the Baltics and throughout Central and Eastern Europe, but he is doing close to nothing to help besieged Ukraine. These NATO efforts need to be accelerated, and the alliance should begin supplying Ukrainians with lethal weaponry to help fight off Russian encroachments. We should also isolate Russia diplomatically in every conceivable forum and confront Russia over its violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

2. Encourage the EU to free itself from its debilitating dependence on Russian energy, including, among other measures, by easing our own self-defeating restrictions on cultivating domestic energy sources, with the goal of becoming an energy supplier to Europe. Keep in mind that around half of Russia’s state budget revenues derive from the sale of fossil fuels.

3. Resurrect the Central European missile defense shield scrapped by the Obama administration amid Russian objections.

4. Launch a sustained public communications campaign to ensure Russian speakers receive factual accounts of international events. Voice of America’s Russia service has a paltry $13 million budget, which is no match for the Kremlin’s estimated $300 million budget for RT alone. Voice of America and Radio Free Europe’s Cold War operations provide an effective blueprint for this sort of programming, which should include satellite, radio, and on-line dimensions. In light of the Putin regime’s campaign to control on-line news outlets, our effort should include a comprehensive strategy to promote Internet freedom.

He calls out Russian disinformation and says the US and NATO should be “supplying Ukrainians with lethal weaponry to help fight off Russian encroachments.” Step forward to the the 2016 GOP convention, however, and the only change Trump made to the GOP platform was to weaken US aide to Ukraine. The only change. That should’ve set Nunes off right? After-all, his position on Russia was 100% counter to the Trump change.

In late 2015 New Yorker (A House Divided – How a radical group of Republicans pushed Congress to the right) published a long story about how some Republicans were resisting the takeover by the crazy right wing, in it Nunes was portrayed as one resisting the crazies. There were several stories on the issue; Devin Nunes Explains Why He’s Less Conservative Than He Used to Be & A telling — and disturbing — anecdote about conservative media from a House Republican to name a couple.

From the New Yorker article:

Nunes, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, told me that the biggest change he’s seen since he arrived in Congress, in 2002, is the rise of online media outlets and for-profit groups that spread what he views as bad, sometimes false information, which House members then feel obliged to address. The change has transformed Nunes from one of the most conservative members of Congress to one of the biggest critics of the Freedom Caucus and its tactics.

more:

Nunes told me that Ryan needed to figure out how to counter the rising populist forces in the Party. “It’s the difference between a democracy and a democratic republic,” he said. “We are a democratic republic, and yet populist rhetoric, speaking in platitudes, can lead to bad things happening when it’s just pure, unfettered kind of mob-style movements that are out there. And that’s what we’re kind of facing now.”

What in the holy hell happened in the first half of 2016 that resulted in Devin Nunes completely changing his positions on Russia?

Some thoughts:

Nunes has personal/family connections to the Portuguese Island of Lajes, which was very dependent on the US military base there for their economy during the Cold War.

The base, being a submarine hunting operation, fell out of use over the past 20 years as the Cold War came to a slow end. Nunes tried unsuccessfully to pass funding bills and get projects allocated to the island to help boost their economy:

For decades, the most concrete bond between the United States and the Azores was an American military installation on Terceira Island called Lajes Field. During the Cold War, American P-3 planes used Lajes to chase Soviet submarines all over the Atlantic; it also served as a fueling station for cargo planes and fighter jets en route from the United States to military installations in Europe and the Middle East. But the end of the Cold War and technological advances brought an end to Lajes’s strategic importance. The United States no longer needed to worry as much about maritime supremacy in the Atlantic. Cargo planes and fighter jets had sufficient flying ranges that they no longer needed to make as many stops to refuel. Lajes was a natural target for cutbacks, and in 2012, the Air Force announced that it planned to scale back its presence there, ultimately reducing its head count to around 165 from 650.

Even before he was Intelligence Committee chairman, Nunes tried to fight the cuts. He proposed locating an Air Force drone base at Lajes that could be used to target Islamic militants in Northern Africa. He introduced a bill to move the military’s Africa Command from Stuttgart, Germany, back to the continental United States — with the provision that Lajes be made Africom’s forward operating base. He suggested making Lajes a training facility for F-16 pilots. None of the ideas were deemed practical.

More controversial, according to two former government officials, Nunes tried to use his junior perch on the Intelligence Committee to install a National Security Agency listening post at Lajes.

….

Once he became chairman, Nunes unveiled a new proposal for Lajes: making it the home of the Joint Intelligence Analysis Complex (JIAC), which included a huge new “intelligence fusion center” for the United States and its NATO allies. But the Pentagon was already planning to build the JIAC at the Croughton Royal Air Force base near London.

In 2011-12, Russian sub activity increased in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, possibly after someone leaked info to them about NATO tactics and defenses.

In June of 2013, the government of Portugal named Nunes a Grand Officer of the National Order of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, the same President of Portugal who gave the award to Devin Nunes, is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And in the same year that Portugal gave Nunes the award, a Portuguese spy began giving NATO secrets to the Russian government.

Putting that altogether, it would make perfect sense that Nunes, along with some pro-Russian Portuguese, leaked this information in attempt to use the increased Russian sub activity to justify re-opening the base as a sub hunting base.

Flynn & Nunes Parallels

I’d like to point out some parallels between Nunes and Flynn here, seeing as they’ve been friends for a long while.

Flynn argued heavily for the arming of Ukraine during Obama’s presidency, and also warned Obama that Ukraine was in danger from Russia. When Ukraine was invaded he was frustrated and angry, and felt as if Obama had ignored him regarding the danger from Russia.

Flynn, fired from his post at the DIA in 2014, for a chaotic and dangerous management style, then went on a global tour making money speaking out against the Obama administration.

Then in 2016 Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn due to his contacts with Russian cutouts.

So we see a similar swing in both Nunes and Flynn, following a similar timeline. Somewhere between 2014 and Trumps transition team, Flynn started hugging the Russian bear.

Also of note/things to really start to twist this story.

Putin really doesn’t want Turkey to join NATO, and in intelligence circles it’s known that Turkey has a very high percentage of Russian species in its government and embassies. Remember that story about Flynn kidnapping the Turkish National off of US soil for Erdogan?

 

Categories
Explainer

What Is QAnon?

What’s that sign at President Trump’s campaign rally for GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida on Tuesday night mean?

“We are Q.”

The signs (and apparel) are references to a conspiracy theory growing increasingly popular among those on the far-right. Here’s what it all means:

What is QAnon?

The conspiracy theory centers on a mysterious and anonymous online figure — “Q.” The postings by this anonymous person (called Q) on 4chan (/pol/) appear to be related to when Trump said “calm before the storm.” “Q” began posting on anonymous Internet message boards in October 2017. The person or persons behind the “Q” persona claim to possess a top-level security clearance (Q clearance, hence the name) and evidence of a worldwide criminal conspiracy.

Where did this come from?

The whole thing started with some anonymous posts on 4chan. These posts written by “Q” are dubbed “breadcrumbs” by the theory’s followers:

Here’s an archive of QAnon’s old tripcode

Here is a archive of a QAnon post with an image of supposedly things he said previously

Beyond 4chan, the theory has become very popular on Reddit. Around 6 months ago the subreddit r/greatawakening was created to track his posts and other conspiracy related stuff.

The “predictions” are always a bunch of disconnected, usually unspecific, seemingly random things. For example, a post might simply say “boom”.

The Qanon followers then spend the following weeks trying to force these list items to fit world events. Did “boom” mean new developments in Iraq? A school shooting? Something to do with North Korea? A military operation success? A military failure? An upswing on the stock market? A snarky tweet? Someone arrested? Who knows?

That’s the point! It’s generic and abusable. If you believe in it, you will always be able to connect the dots.

Here’s an example of these “breadcrumbs:”

Mockingbird
HRC detained, not arrested (yet).
Where is Huma? Follow Huma.
This had nothing to do w/ Russia (yet).
..
Do you believe HRC, Soros, Obamama etc have more power than Trump?
Fantasy.
Whoever controls the office of the Presidecy controls this great land.

Why did Soros donate all his money recently?
Why would he place all his funds in a RC?
Mockingbird 10.30.17
God bless fellow Patriots.

That’s just a garble of words. It means nothing. But it the kind of thing that lets the mind run wild if you’re predisposed to believe that the Clintons, George Soros and the Deep State are out to topple Trump.

What’s the conspiracy theory?

In short:

The Deep State Is Real, All Democrats are involved, It’s Full Of Pedophiles, And Trump Is In The Process Of Taking The Whole Thing Down

Reporter Will Sommer was one of the first journalists to key in on the growing significance of QAnon and he’s written multiple explainers. Here’s how he sums up the conspiracy’s main tenets:

QAnon believers are convinced that the world is run by a nefarious deep state cabal of Democrats, celebrities, and intelligence community figures (many of whom, they claim, are pedophiles).

Trump is about to take them all down, in their telling, often with sealed indictments that are hidden from the public. Hence [Roseanne] Barr’s tweets about massive pedophile networks.

More specifically it goes like this: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t actually investigating Trump and his 2016 campaign for their possible ties to Russia. No, instead he’s really looking into Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other top Democrats, like former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

There are numerous accusations pinned on these people in QAnon world. Some claim Clinton and Obama are in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. Others suggest Democrats along with Hollywood figures and left-leaning billionaires are running/participating in a global pedophile ring.

Some of the claims are quite hilarious. “Q” suggests all these figures are secretly wearing location-tracking ankle monitors and that they’ll all be sent to prison very soon. This arrest and imprisonment event the theory’s followers call “the storm.” Again, referencing back to Trump’s remarks last year, where he warned of “the calm before the storm.

That meeting was held with military leaders. According to “Q,” the military persuaded Trump to run for president in order to clean up the vast criminal network.

QAnon is also very adept at flipping things that look bad for Trump into things that are in fact really, really great:

From these clues, a sprawling community on message boards, YouTube videos and Twitter accounts has elaborated an enormous, ever-mutating fantasy narrative about the Trump presidency. In the QAnon reality, Trump only pretended to collude with Russia in order to create a pretext for the hiring of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who is actually working with Trump to take down an inconceivably evil and powerful network of coup-plotters and child sex traffickers that includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros.

If it isn’t yet abundantly clear, this stuff is all made up.

Most of the breadcrumbs Q leaves are unspecific, but from time to time Q likes to set down firm predictions that are almost uniformly wrong. Here’s a Q post from last November 1st that Paris Martineau featured in her QAnon explainer at Select All:

Q Clearance Patriot
>My fellow Americans, over the course of the next several days you will undoubtedly realize that we are taking back our great country (the land of the free) from the evil tyrants that wish to do us harm and destroy the last remaining refuge of shining light. On POTUS’ order, we have initiated certain fail-safes that shall safeguard the public from the primary fallout which is slated to occur 11.3 upon the arrest announcement of Mr. Podesta (actionable 11.4). Confirmation (to the public) of what is occurring will then be revealed and will not be openly accepted. Public riots are being organized in serious numbers in an effort to prevent the arrest and capture of more senior public officials.

Who believes in the conspiracy theory?

To start, QAnon posts were limited almost entirely to 4chan and 8chan. But over the past year, Q has gained a lot of new believers.

This isn’t all that surprising. Trump built his political career by promoting conspiracy theories. He’s a birther. He asserts that vaccines cause autism. He claimed that Justice Scalia’s death was a murder. He continues to push his claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election.

This YouTube video a popular go-to for explaining QAnon is sitting at nearly 200,000 views. Additionally, an iOS app related to the conspiracy theory climbed near the top of the Apple App Store rankings earlier this year before it was removed.

Celebrities have also helped mainstream Q. Roseanne Barr has frequently tweeted about QAnon, she tweeted a common phrase among Q supporters “wwg1wga,” short for “where we go one, we go all.”

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has even gotten in on the action:

Why does it matter?

Alright, there are some whackos out there that believe some crazy stuff. So, what?

What started as a fringe internet conspiracy theory has exploded in popularity and has led to several real-world incidents.

In April, a group of QAnon believers took to the streets in Washington, D.C. demanding answers from the Justice Department. Then in June, a man driving an armored vehicle and carrying two firearms shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels, made an appearance in a series of QAnon this week. The posts included images of his office building and an image of a man standing outside Avenatti’s office.

Following Trump’s rally in Florida, QAnon even showed up in the White House briefing when a reporter asked Sarah Sanders if Trump “encouraged the support” of people at the rally wearing “Q” shirts.

“The president condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual and certainly doesn’t support groups that would promote that type of behavior,” Sanders said.

QAnon isn’t even the first internet-fueled conspiracy theory to make the jump from the web to the real world during the Trump presidency. In December 2016, a man fired a gun inside Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington D.C., citing the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. The theory being that the restaurant is the center of a child sex ring involving top Democrats, including Clinton and Podesta. Yes, the deep-state with all its power and billions in cash flow chose a pizza parlor basement as the perfect location for their pedophile sex ring.

Conclusion

Personal opinion: QAnon is nefarious LARPer (Live Action Roleplayer) gone too far. These breadcrumbs are nothing more than a bunch of made up conspiracy theory bunk to make it seem like there’s some master plan or deep state related shenanigans going on. It’s an extreme effort to make Trump’s real world stumbles and inabilities to govern all a cover-up for his extreme genius at playing 4D chess. I just hope this stupidity doesn’t get anyone killed.

Categories
Current Events Explainer

Look at the Headlines! Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all Plan Will Cost $32 trillion

$32 trillion.

That is how much federal spending would increase over 10 years under Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all bill, according to a brand-new estimate from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Wait Mercatus? Yes, Koch funded Mercatus came up with this estimate, but wait, that might actually be alright. Stick with me here.

That sure does sound like a lot of money, and conservatives were giddy to start talking about it this morning. But it turns out $32 trillion is a bargain. A really good bargain, actually.

Mercatus is projecting a $32 trillion increase in federal spending, above current projected government expenditures, from 2022 to 2031.

In terms of overall health care spending in the United States over the same time period, however, they are projecting a reduction in spending.

That’s right. Even a Koch sponsored, hack study couldn’t make Medicare-for-All not work. But if you’re still question the source (like Sanders did), you should know the Urban Institute came up with the exact same number back in 2016.

So there it is. The federal government will be spending more money on health care than it currently does, but the country overall will be spending less.

Let’s look at what we’re paying now. In 2016, we spent $3.4 trillion on health care. That spending is projected to rise an average of 5.6 percent per year over the next decade. If you do the math, that means that between 2018 and 2027 we’ll spend $49 trillion on health care in America. That’s the current system.

That $32 trillion number comes from an analysis of the Conyers bill. Republicans have seized on the $32 trillion number to scare people into thinking that Democrats want to raise their taxes some insane amount. But if we’re going to spend $49 trillion under the current system, and single payer would cost $32 trillion, doesn’t that mean we’d be saving $17 trillion? Yes, yes it does.

Also consider. A universal single-payer program would 1) cover every single American, eliminating uninsurance and 2) provide much more robust benefits, covering more services than get covered right now. Sounds pretty damn good.

More people covered. More services covered. Less money spent.

Be forewarned. Conservatives are going to recite that large-sounding cost as often as they can. Get out there, be loud and be informed. Don’t let lies persuade the majority of Americans who currently support Medicare-for-All.

5abab3ee9096bc1e008b4881-960-720.jpg

Categories
Current Events Explainer

It’s Obvious, Hackers Changed Votes in the 2016 Election

Evidence Shows Hackers Changed Votes in the 2016 Election But No One Will Admit It, If you haven’t already read Michael Harriot’s story over at The Root, do so now. I’ll wait.

Some stand out bits there:

Around the time of the 21-state breach, a technician at the Center for Election Systems, the Georgia firm that handles the state’s election data, computers and training, found a hole in the election system’s server that would have allowed anyone to download or alter the database that included every voter in the state. He also found PDF files with the instructions, all the passwords and software files for the system that allowed poll workers to verify registered voters.

Isn’t it comforting that state election officials are treating democracy the same way my grandmother treats her Comcast provided email?

The only logical explanation that could possibly explain why Russians did not change votes in Georgia is to somehow believe an international cabal of hackers got into the system, found instructions, voter registrations and passwords to voting machines and yet somehow decided not to do it, just because.

Marks says Georgia’s systems would have been an “ideal” target for Russian hackers because the state doesn’t use a system with a paper trail so there is no way to audit the system. Of course, a diligent eye could have inspected Georgia’s system or compared the saved backups with the hacked server.

But when Marks’ organization sued for data to see whether or not the state’s elections systems had been penetrated, Kennesaw State University, the college that houses the Center for Election Systems, wiped the servers clean.

Then they wiped the servers’ backups clean.

Oh my god. But wait, it gets worse.

At the 2017 Def Con computer security conference, perhaps the biggest gathering of hackers in the world, organizers challenged attendees to hack into a variety of 30 different voting machines used by election officials around the country.

Within 24 hours they hacked every one.

A 16-year-old hacker broke into as ExpressPoll voting machine used by Georgia in 45 minutes. Another cyberhacker showed how he could change votes in the WINvote machine used in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mississippi, with only a computer, a mouse and a Microsoft Word document, as long as he had the password. But the hacker soon discovered that WINvote machines all had the same password.

The password, which could not be changed, was (you might want to take a deep breath) “abcde.”

Ok, I’ll stop simply block quoting this whole article, because you just need to read the whole damn thing. Simply put, the vulnerability of electronic voting is the quietest scandal going. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that these vulnerabilities were purposely “back doored” into those machines at the behest of the republican party in order to preserve their tyranny of the minority. Making that back door means those machines are vulnerable to any determined attacker, including the Russians. The real pessimist in me believes they’re also there so that if they lose the election they can roll out all these vulnerabilities that “cost them the election” and demand a do-over.

In the early days of the investigation in March 2017, this is how Devin Nunes – yet to be revealed as a Trump stooge – began a line of questioning.

NUNES: Admiral Rogers, first I wanna go to you. On January 6th, 2017, the intelligence community assessment assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections, stated that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.

NUNES: So my question as of today, Admiral Rogers, do you have any evidence that Russia cyber actors changed vote tallies in the state of Michigan?

ROGERS: No I do not, but I would highlight we are a foreign intelligence organization, not a domestic intelligence organization. So it would be fair to say, we are probably not the best organization to provide a more complete answer.

NUNES: How about the state of Pennsylvania?

ROGERS: No, sir.

NUNES: The state of Wisconsin?

ROGERS: No, sir.

NUNES: State of Florida?

ROGERS: No, sir.

NUNES: The state of North Carolina?

ROGERS: No, sir.

NUNES: The state of Ohio?

ROGERS: No, sir.

NUNES: So — so you have no intelligence that suggests, or evidence that suggests, any votes were changed?

ROGERS: I have nothing generated by the national security industry, sir.

Weird, huh?

The guy flat out says WE ARE NOT THE ORGANIZATION THAT WOULD KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS and Nunes continues the line of questioning anyway so he can get a soundbyte.

A History of Corruption

And this ain’t new folks. No. Lets take a road-trip back to 2003.

In a fall 2003 fundraising letter sent to Republicans, from e-voting machine maker Diebold CEO Walden O’Dell:

“I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.”

The Diebold name became so toxic they had to change the name of the company. It was run by a Republican to elect Republicans. Surely, things have changed since 2003. Nope, here is a map of the manufacture date of voting machines used by each state:

Back to Georgia for a second. Georgia did all of that after its special election where democratic favorite Ossoff lost in a somewhat surprise upset. What was polled to be a relatively close race turned out to be a 4 point win for Handel. The result didn’t match any exit polls either, more on that in a minute. Not outside of the range of possibility but more than a little suspicious and even if it wasn’t, what happened after definitely was.

A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned.

The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system.

And Brian Kemp, the guy responsible for the voting machines declined federal money to fix them, and is now running for governor. Just take a listen to this fuckwad:

In Maryland it was found that software running on voting machines was funded by Russian oligarchs. And also backdoor software was installed on voting machines.

Exit Polls

Exit polls have not matched election results in this country since the 2004 election. There’s something about that time-frame. Oh I remember, 2 years before that, a longtime manufacturer of voting equipment called Premier Elections Solutions was acquired by a company called Diebold.

Then, for the first time in history exit polls magically didn’t match the official vote count, especially in the key battleground state of Ohio. Strange. And rather than try to get to the bottom of it, everyone just threw up their hands and said, “golly, I guess exit polls just aren’t reliable anymore.” That conclusion, of course, flying in the face of a hundred plus years of data proving them to be incredibly accurate. Ever since then, media outlets have adjusted their exit polls to match the official vote tally once it is announced. There’s a strong trend in that adjustment, it’s called “red shift,” where the exit polls are to the left of the vote counts. Not fishy at all.

We learned nothing from Bush vs. Gore. And now history repeats itself, because following the 2017 election there have been countless stories trying to explain the inaccuracy of the exit polls. Some going so far as to exclaim 2016 the end of the exit poll. The supposition, flying in the face of all available evidence, being that the inaccuracy lies in the exit poll and not in the election results.

What did the exit polls look like in comparison to the 2016 presidential election results? Take a look for yourself:

And look at that, we just swung an election. You’ll notice that you don’t even have to shove all that hard, with a simple 5 point push in Trump’s favor, easily chalked up to statistical error, the electoral college is secured for the win.

All told, Trump flipped three states with a discrepancy between actual and exit polls greater than the margin of error. And if those ‘miracle’ flips with 5-6 point differences between the exit polls did not occur then Trump would not be President. Those three states are: North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Oh shit, I remember those states. That’s right, their the states Nunes went out of his way getting soundbytes ‘proving’ they weren’t compromised. Interesting… Very, very interesting.

The Law of Large Numbers

Quick math lesson, the law of large numbers is a theorem that describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times. According to the law, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed.

i.e., you flip a coin 5 times and it wouldn’t be weird to get four heads and one tails, but if you flip a coin 50,000 times it would be very strange to get 40,000 heads. 

Vote Sleuth shows on a chart, what the tallies would look like if you hacked an election according to the Law of Large Numbers.

In an unhacked election, the lines of the chart will stay parallel, in a hacked election they’ll cross.

Then check out Florida, and Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Be patient, some of the charts load very slowly! But, they are very worth the wait.

There is considerable evidence that these states were hacked and votes flipped. Probably just another weird coincidence…

Conclusion

PAPER BALLOTS! PAPER BACKUPS!

The republicans (possible with the help of Russians) changed votes in the 2016 election. They’ve done it in every election since 2004.