Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I can think of a certain large, unused golf course in central VA that, as far as I can tell, proves you don't need to be partisan to waste money :)

I feel like voting third party is, for the most part, throwing away a vote, with how our effectively two-party system is currently gamed. I don't think I can vote for either of the mainline candidates this go-around though.

On the trip back from upstate NY last week, I got stuck with conservative talk radio as the only thing I could pick up in the Southern Tier. I was *shocked* to hear Glenn Beck interviewing Weld and saying that he couldn't vote for either party this year. I think most of the people I know with a strong opinion one way or the other is most motivated by their candidate not being the other. I guess that's at least one fact we know about them :P

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So...........you all universally agree that both nominees, appearing to be dishonest, corrupt and con-artists, are not worthy of assuming the position of president.

What as Americans can you do to dissolve their nominations and replace them with properly qualified individuals with the necessary integrity ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Evan McMullin: Why I'm Running For President

The National Interest  /  October 24, 2016

I am running for president [independent candidate] because I believe that settling for the lesser of two evils is still evil. Just a few months ago, I was still one of millions of voters who refused to accept the depressing choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, neither of whom is fit to serve as commander-and-chief. Like all those others, I was waiting for a true leader to stand up and give Americans a better choice. No one did.

As the deadlines for ballot access approached, I said that I would stand up, even if I had no national reputation, no personal fortune, and no party behind me. Now voters in 43 states can cast their votes on my behalf. My name is on the ballot in eleven states and I am eligible as a write-in in the others. Now, in what little time remains before Election Day, I have to let voters know who I am and what I stand for.

The answer to those questions begins with my family, which came to America in search of greater freedom and economic opportunity

My family came to America in search of greater freedom and economic opportunity. On my father’s side, the McMullins left Ireland in the 1600s to settle in what would become Massachusetts. Later they would cross the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains to seek a better life and the freedom to worship. The story of my family’s search for liberty is the prism through which I see America’s role in the world.

Of course, my family’s story is hardly unique. The same values of liberty and equality that brought my ancestors to America inspire billions—and not just those who immigrate here, but all those around the world who look toward to the United States as an example. Although far from perfect, we are a unique force for good in the world. That is why so many other countries welcome our protection rather than fearing our power.

I know many Americans may question why they should care about events in far-flung corners of the globe. After all, the wars of today are messy and less clear-cut than many conflicts of the past. While I understand this sentiment, I believe America cannot afford to give in to the siren song of isolation. After all, our world today is effectively smaller than it has ever been. Just as the Ebola virus in West Africa made its way to our shores, so too have Islamic radicalism and cyberattacks from states like Russia and China. The reality is that whether or not we ignore the rest of the world, what happens beyond our shores ultimately shapes us here at home.

At the same time, we must exercise leadership in a prudent way. One of the most important mistakes to avoid is the premature use of force. That is why I opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As an intelligence officer who saw it firsthand, I believe the war was a tragic and expensive mistake. I say this even though I remain proud of my service in Iraq as an officer with the CIA. The valor, courage, and integrity displayed by American forces in Iraq were extraordinary. We overthrew a brutal tyrant and then fought a long war to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. These were noble objectives but not sufficient justification for the cost of fighting.

The great challenge we face today is how to reconcile the imperative of global leadership with the necessity of reining in its costs. Whereas the war in Iraq illustrates the dangers of doing too much, the myriad failures of the Obama administration demonstrate the costs of retreating into passivity and compromising our principles. If we had struck the Islamic State much earlier, before it spread across Syria and Iraq and before it beheaded American citizens, we could’ve crushed it at a much lower cost. Instead, we now have 5 thousand troops in Iraq while ISIS is launching attacks across Europe and inspiring massacres in the United States.

Given the importance of strength, it is especially regrettable that the Obama administration has begun to implement about $900 billion in defense cuts, leaving our military too old, too small, and not sufficiently ready to meet the demands of a chaotic world. As a first step toward restoring American leadership, I would reverse those cuts so that our troops have the training and equipment they deserve. To lead, America must restore its reputation as a trusted ally and a feared enemy.

The purpose of rebuilding our military is not to fight wars, but to prevent them. George Washington made this point very effectively in his first State of the Union address in 1790. As he said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

Over the past fifteen years, our troops and their families have borne a tremendous burden, for which the entire country is grateful. I am the only candidate who has experienced war firsthand. I have seen the horror and destruction up close, which is why I hate it so much.

As President, there are eight principles I would follow in order to reconcile the demands of leadership with the limits of our power and resources:

1. The president’s personal conduct should exemplify our democratic ideals. The president must demonstrate the honesty and integrity we expect of our leaders while rejecting all forms of bigotry and prejudice.

2. Violating fundamental human rights weakens our country and subverts our leadership. Torture is un-American and so is taking revenge on our enemies’ wives and children.

3. The cost of preparing for war is much less than the cost of fighting one. Our next president must rebuild and modernize the U.S. military; the men and women who risk their lives on our behalf deserve the most advanced technologies and rigorous training available.

4. Strong alliances and partnerships generate security and stability. They deter conflict and reduce the need for the United States to assume the costs and risks of acting alone.

5. Deal with problems before they become full blown crises. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

6. Invest in intelligence and diplomacy. These are the early warning systems that help us to understand which problems have the potential to become a crisis.

7. Through peaceful means, promote democracy and human rights. Countries that respect their own citizens are far more likely to become our partners rather than our adversaries.

8. No other country is willing or able to lead decisively on a global scale. We are still the indispensable nation.

These principles embody my solemn pledge to all Americans—but especially our men and women in uniform—that while I will do everything in my power to prevent war, I will also never pretend that inaction is a guarantee of security and peace.

I’m under no illusions at the scale of the challenges before us. My campaign launched on August 8th, giving us just three months until Election Day. I began this campaign with zero name recognition, no fundraising list, and no national party upon which I could call for support. In the weeks since then, my running mate Mindy Finn and I have connected with voters across the country. According to the latest polling, I am now in a dead heat with or beating Donald Trump for the lead in Utah. The enthusiasm there is spilling into the neighboring states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Can I win? If the race narrows, winning just a few states like Utah could prove enough to prevent both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from reaching a majority of 270 votes in the Electoral College. From there, the election would go to the House of Representatives. In the House, the delegation from each of the 50 states would get one vote, which it may cast for one of the three top finishers in the Electoral College. In this scenario, both parties would have an incentive to avoid their worst possible outcome—a victory for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. A coalition of pragmatists may decide that supporting a principled independent candidate is wiser than going down to defeat.

Regardless of whether I win, I am running a campaign that is designed to change the political landscape. We have energized a new generation of conservatives who are now standing up for their principles while rejecting racism, sexism, and all other forms of bigotry. We are reaching out across the political spectrum to Americans who refuse to tolerate leaders who act as if they are above the law and above the truth. We are reminding Americans of the importance of enduring alliances and friendships that help us to spread prosperity and freedom.  

Our movement has suddenly achieved national prominence, but this is only the beginning. Please join us as we forge a new generation of American leadership.

.

image 1.jpeg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, TeamsterGrrrl said:

Trump is a con artist who will say whatever gets him elected, etc....

Trump took $17 million in insurance for damage few remember

Associated Press  /  October 25, 2016

Donald Trump said he received a $17 million insurance payment in 2005 for hurricane damage to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, but The Associated Press found little evidence of such large-scale damage.

Two years after a series of storms, the real estate tycoon said he didn't know how much had been spent on repairs but acknowledged he pocketed some of the money.

Trump transferred funds into his personal accounts, saying that under the terms of his policy, "you didn't have to reinvest it."

In a deposition in an unrelated civil lawsuit, Trump said he got the cash from a "very good insurance policy" and cited ongoing work to the historic home.

"Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion," he said of the storm damage. "It's still not what it was."

Trump's description of extensive damage does not match those of Mar-a-Lago members and even Trump loyalists.

In an interview about the estate's history, Trump's longtime former butler, Anthony Senecal, recalled no catastrophic damage. He said Hurricane Wilma, the last of a string of storms that barreled through in 2004 and 2005, flattened trees behind Mar-a-Lago, but the house itself only lost some roof tiles. [$17 million......a few roof tiles]

"That house has never been seriously damaged," said Senecal, discussing Mar-a-Lago's luck with hurricanes. "I was there for all of them."

Just over two weeks after Wilma, Trump hosted 370 guests at Mar-a-Lago for the wedding of his son Donald Jr.

While part of that celebration did have to be moved away from the front lawn due to hurricane damage, wedding photographs by Getty Images showed the house, pools, cabanas and landscaping in good repair.

Valuations for Mar-a-Lago are subjective, but Forbes estimated the 110,000-square-foot property's value at $150 million in its most recent appraisal of Trump's net worth. The estate's historic nature would add to any repair costs, but Tim Frank, Palm Beach's planning administrator at the time of the hurricanes, said $17 million in work would have required "dozens, maybe scores of workers." In 2004, Trump built a 20,000-square-foot ballroom from scratch for less than $6 million, according to building permits.

Palm Beach building department records show no permits for construction on that scale after the storms. Permits reflected smaller projects, including installation of new grease traps in the kitchen and tree trimming along the road.

The only permits that appeared hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property's beachfront pool.

Likewise, records of the city's Landmarks and Preservation Commission reflected no repair work conducted following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.

The $17 million Mar-a-Lago insurance payment surfaced during a 2007 deposition in Trump's unsuccessful libel lawsuit against journalist Tim O'Brien, whom Trump accused of underestimating his wealth. As part of the case, O'Brien's attorneys were permitted to review Trump's financial records, including some from the Mar-a-Lago Club. They asked Trump to quantify the damage and explain why he had pocketed money instead of spending it on repairs.

Trump said repairs were ongoing, but acknowledged he could not remember which hurricane had damaged Mar-a-Lago or when it hit.

"We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane," Trump said. "We're continuously spending money. It really beat up Mar-a-Lago very badly."

The insurance adjustor who assessed the insurance claim, Hank Stein of VeriClaim Inc., said there had been damage to Trump's golf course in West Palm Beach and damage to Mar-a-Lago's roof and landscaping, but he could not remember details. Trump declined to provide the AP with records about the insurance claim or answer specific questions about damage at Mar-a-Lago.

Stein, who has since left VeriClaim for another firm, said he remembered water damage from rain after windows to an observation deck atop the mansion blew open. "I wish I could give you some more information on the breakdown," he said.

Under local rules, major repairs would have required Trump to request a permit and pay permit fees. If such work were performed without permits, that could have avoided as much as $450,000 in fees but would have likely been illegal.

The city's former planning administrator said getting away with such extensive, unpermitted work would have been unlikely. Frank cited both his own agency's vigilance and wealthy Palm Beach residents' habit of calling out each other's code violations. Once, Trump's neighbors hired lawyers to report suspicions that he improperly let guests sleep in poolside cabanas during a wedding.

"If there were $17 million dollars of damage, we sure as hell would have known about that," said Frank. "I would have known if there was anything in the magnitude of $100,000."

The Republican mayor of Palm Beach at the time — and Mar-a-Lago member — Jack McDonald, agreed: "I am unable to comprehend $17 million in reimbursable damage."

Jane Day, the city's former historical preservation consultant, who helped oversee Mar-a-Lago's conversion to a private club and who has visited in the years since as a guest, also was mystified. "This is the first I'm hearing of it."

Frank said the commission would have granted immediate approval to simple repairs, but Trump or his contractors would still have needed to file for permits.

"If they changed the door knobs I was supposed to review it," Frank said.

Much of Trump's property insurance business has long been handled by Pamela Newman, a leading insurance broker for Aon Risk Services Inc. Neither Newman nor AON would discuss the case with AP.

Two former Aon employees familiar with the company's work for Trump said Trump's company was routinely late on insurance premium payments and regularly threatened to take its business elsewhere. [How many of us know this type of wealthy individual?] They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential business matters and because they feared retribution since they continue to work in the insurance industry. Representing Trump allowed Newman to bring up her work on behalf of Trump in sales pitches to wealthy clients, sometimes offering him as a reference, the employees said.

Newman's ties to Trump have endured. He and she both sit on the board of New York's Police Athletic League. She has attended galas at Mar-a-Lago and donated the legal maximum of $2,700 to his presidential exploratory committee before he announced his run. She followed up last July with $25,000 in donations to the Make America Great Again PAC, according to Federal Election Commission records.

According to the Trump deposition, Newman led the effort to obtain a payout on the Mar-a-Lago insurance policy. Trump did not identify which insurer actually footed the bill and the AP was unable to identify who paid the claim.

Documenting an insurance claim as large as the one that Trump made on Mar-a-Lago typically involves extensive verification of the damage. Stein said the process went smoothly and that he worked closely with both Newman and a senior Trump executive, Matt Calamari.

"It would have been myself along with an adjustment team," he said. "It was a thorough investigation."

In the depositions, Trump said he knew little about that process that produced his $17 million payday, but praised the policy and said Newman took care of it.

"We had a very good insurance policy, actually," he said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

None of us knows either candidate personally.

We only know what we hear/read on the news.

Few of us have great faith in the news being impartial, accurate and complete.

I'd wager we are only privy to 15 per cent of important "news", accurately reported in full, domestically and around the world.

"Based on what we hear and read", knowing that there usually is fire where there is smoke, neither candidate is appropriate to assume the position of president.

The exact details of their past actions, we'll surely never know. I can imagine a back-room agreement in which they have drawn an agreed to line in the sand, a demarcation line, an act of self-preservation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Continuing on Ksb,having learned how the law works,they realize how they can use it for personal gain! On that subject,I just read that the capital police are going to destroy Doug Hughes gyrocopter which was confiscated and he forfeited as part of his plea agreement.Instead of selling it and giving the money to the taxpayers who are in reality their employer! "It would not be appropriate considering its role in his irresponsible and unlawful act last year" Suddenly a government agency has sprouted a conscience!! I suspect a large percentage of confiscated goods were used in illegal acts! They're pissed he made them look like fools! The man did something heroic in a foolish way!  He would be dead if they properly protected the white house! There is a limit to how far you take " civil disobedience",and he went over it!  He needed to receive some punishment, and he did! However his message about bought and paid for "public servants" was dead on!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, kscarbel2 said:

Evan McMullin: Why I'm Running For President

The National Interest  /  October 24, 2016

I am running for president [independent candidate] because I believe that settling for the lesser of two evils is still evil. Just a few months ago, I was still one of millions of voters who refused to accept the depressing choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, neither of whom is fit to serve as commander-and-chief. Like all those others, I was waiting for a true leader to stand up and give Americans a better choice. No one did.

As the deadlines for ballot access approached, I said that I would stand up, even if I had no national reputation, no personal fortune, and no party behind me. Now voters in 43 states can cast their votes on my behalf. My name is on the ballot in eleven states and I am eligible as a write-in in the others. Now, in what little time remains before Election Day, I have to let voters know who I am and what I stand for.

The answer to those questions begins with my family, which came to America in search of greater freedom and economic opportunity

My family came to America in search of greater freedom and economic opportunity. On my father’s side, the McMullins left Ireland in the 1600s to settle in what would become Massachusetts. Later they would cross the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains to seek a better life and the freedom to worship. The story of my family’s search for liberty is the prism through which I see America’s role in the world.

Of course, my family’s story is hardly unique. The same values of liberty and equality that brought my ancestors to America inspire billions—and not just those who immigrate here, but all those around the world who look toward to the United States as an example. Although far from perfect, we are a unique force for good in the world. That is why so many other countries welcome our protection rather than fearing our power.

I know many Americans may question why they should care about events in far-flung corners of the globe. After all, the wars of today are messy and less clear-cut than many conflicts of the past. While I understand this sentiment, I believe America cannot afford to give in to the siren song of isolation. After all, our world today is effectively smaller than it has ever been. Just as the Ebola virus in West Africa made its way to our shores, so too have Islamic radicalism and cyberattacks from states like Russia and China. The reality is that whether or not we ignore the rest of the world, what happens beyond our shores ultimately shapes us here at home.

At the same time, we must exercise leadership in a prudent way. One of the most important mistakes to avoid is the premature use of force. That is why I opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As an intelligence officer who saw it firsthand, I believe the war was a tragic and expensive mistake. I say this even though I remain proud of my service in Iraq as an officer with the CIA. The valor, courage, and integrity displayed by American forces in Iraq were extraordinary. We overthrew a brutal tyrant and then fought a long war to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. These were noble objectives but not sufficient justification for the cost of fighting.

The great challenge we face today is how to reconcile the imperative of global leadership with the necessity of reining in its costs. Whereas the war in Iraq illustrates the dangers of doing too much, the myriad failures of the Obama administration demonstrate the costs of retreating into passivity and compromising our principles. If we had struck the Islamic State much earlier, before it spread across Syria and Iraq and before it beheaded American citizens, we could’ve crushed it at a much lower cost. Instead, we now have 5 thousand troops in Iraq while ISIS is launching attacks across Europe and inspiring massacres in the United States.

Given the importance of strength, it is especially regrettable that the Obama administration has begun to implement about $900 billion in defense cuts, leaving our military too old, too small, and not sufficiently ready to meet the demands of a chaotic world. As a first step toward restoring American leadership, I would reverse those cuts so that our troops have the training and equipment they deserve. To lead, America must restore its reputation as a trusted ally and a feared enemy.

The purpose of rebuilding our military is not to fight wars, but to prevent them. George Washington made this point very effectively in his first State of the Union address in 1790. As he said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

Over the past fifteen years, our troops and their families have borne a tremendous burden, for which the entire country is grateful. I am the only candidate who has experienced war firsthand. I have seen the horror and destruction up close, which is why I hate it so much.

As President, there are eight principles I would follow in order to reconcile the demands of leadership with the limits of our power and resources:

1. The president’s personal conduct should exemplify our democratic ideals. The president must demonstrate the honesty and integrity we expect of our leaders while rejecting all forms of bigotry and prejudice.

2. Violating fundamental human rights weakens our country and subverts our leadership. Torture is un-American and so is taking revenge on our enemies’ wives and children.

3. The cost of preparing for war is much less than the cost of fighting one. Our next president must rebuild and modernize the U.S. military; the men and women who risk their lives on our behalf deserve the most advanced technologies and rigorous training available.

4. Strong alliances and partnerships generate security and stability. They deter conflict and reduce the need for the United States to assume the costs and risks of acting alone.

5. Deal with problems before they become full blown crises. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

6. Invest in intelligence and diplomacy. These are the early warning systems that help us to understand which problems have the potential to become a crisis.

7. Through peaceful means, promote democracy and human rights. Countries that respect their own citizens are far more likely to become our partners rather than our adversaries.

8. No other country is willing or able to lead decisively on a global scale. We are still the indispensable nation.

These principles embody my solemn pledge to all Americans—but especially our men and women in uniform—that while I will do everything in my power to prevent war, I will also never pretend that inaction is a guarantee of security and peace.

I’m under no illusions at the scale of the challenges before us. My campaign launched on August 8th, giving us just three months until Election Day. I began this campaign with zero name recognition, no fundraising list, and no national party upon which I could call for support. In the weeks since then, my running mate Mindy Finn and I have connected with voters across the country. According to the latest polling, I am now in a dead heat with or beating Donald Trump for the lead in Utah. The enthusiasm there is spilling into the neighboring states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Can I win? If the race narrows, winning just a few states like Utah could prove enough to prevent both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from reaching a majority of 270 votes in the Electoral College. From there, the election would go to the House of Representatives. In the House, the delegation from each of the 50 states would get one vote, which it may cast for one of the three top finishers in the Electoral College. In this scenario, both parties would have an incentive to avoid their worst possible outcome—a victory for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. A coalition of pragmatists may decide that supporting a principled independent candidate is wiser than going down to defeat.

Regardless of whether I win, I am running a campaign that is designed to change the political landscape. We have energized a new generation of conservatives who are now standing up for their principles while rejecting racism, sexism, and all other forms of bigotry. We are reaching out across the political spectrum to Americans who refuse to tolerate leaders who act as if they are above the law and above the truth. We are reminding Americans of the importance of enduring alliances and friendships that help us to spread prosperity and freedom.  

Our movement has suddenly achieved national prominence, but this is only the beginning. Please join us as we forge a new generation of American leadership.

.

image 1.jpeg

I personally think he is worth my vote and just maybe we could have a chance to regain this country back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

41, kinda like all those "flood cars" from Katrina and elsewhere that went "up north" and got dried out and resold as ordinary used cars! On average the electronics in a flood car start messing up in about 2 yrs! By then the seller is long gone! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, BillyT said:

41, kinda like all those "flood cars" from Katrina and elsewhere that went "up north" and got dried out and resold as ordinary used cars! On average the electronics in a flood car start messing up in about 2 yrs! By then the seller is long gone! 

We had by where we lived on Long Island about 1600 to 1800 salt water submerged cars from Hurricane Sandy, stored at the Grumman/US Navy weapons testing center in Calverton. 90% were auctioned off by the insurance companies and Feds and went to Asia and South America.  My son worked there with others from H.O.Penn tending the leased loaders that were packing the vehicles in shipping containers to go over seas.

In the mid 1970s I almost bought a dozen Plymouth Dusters at auction until I learned they were from the big floods in Pennsylvania in the mid 70's.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/24/2016 at 9:30 PM, TeamsterGrrrl said:
Trump is a con artist who will say whatever gets him elected, etc....

Well there you go......he fits rite in with the rest of the system sucking politicians go trump woo woo woo

Plus he.s a billionaire he would probably tell Congress to stuff thier piddly wages ahahahahahahaha

I'm not taking any money from the working people plus all you high paid punks are getting a big cut in pay ahahahahahahaha...bob

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clinton and Trump announce reconciliation.......joint rule proposed.

.

image 1.png

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well that aunt jamima turbin doesn't do her any favors ahahahahahahaha.bob

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, US elections are rigged – but not in the way Donald Trump thinks

Trevor Timm, The Guardian  /  October 27, 2016

Gerrymandering, a time-worn practice, is alive and well in 2016. It skews results, drives down turnout and harms minorities – and we need to do away with it

If Donald Trump actually cared about “rigged” elections, he would stop complaining about the demonstrably false “voter fraud” myth he keeps peddling and instead focus on the real problem: gerrymandering – the changing of electoral boundaries for political gain. Of course he’ll never do that, since gerrymandering is a Republican party speciality and the only thing keeping the GOP from losing the House of Representatives this year.

All signs point to Trump suffering a rout in two weeks, with Clinton’s chances of victory north of 80 or 90%, according to statistical analysis from both the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight. Donald Trump is the most unpopular candidate in modern history, and in elections past, he’d be dragging the rest of the party to a historic defeat in Congress as well.

But despite all this, there’s almost no chance the Republicans will lose control of the House of Representatives this election – or in the one after it – since Republicans in statehouses across the country have fixed the election process by redrawing the congressional district maps in several key states in 2010. They can retain a majority even when Democrats received far more total votes. (The Washington Post has a helpful graphic that explains exactly how gerrymandering works.)

Former Salon editor in chief David Daley has a new book out on the subject and described how the Republicans accomplished this seat-rigging feat in a recent interview:

"It was a two-part plan. In 2010, they had to take control of all of the chambers. In 2011, they sat down with some of the most skilled mapmakers in the country, and they drew lines with the express intent of using redistricting as a partisan hammer to lock in control of the House for the next decade."

The results were dramatic. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop explained this week, “When Americans voted for the House in 2012, Democratic candidates won 1.4 million more votes than Republicans. Yet after the dust settled, the GOP ended up with a 234-201 majority in the chamber.” The liberal blog Daily Kos conducted a comprehensive study of gerrymandering in the 2012 House election and concluding that it “likely cost Democrats a net of 25 seats in 2012, more than the 17 they needed to claim a majority that year, and far more than the eight they actually did gain.”

Take Ohio, for example, which is generally a battleground state in presidential elections and is pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Because of the radical redistricting Ohio Republicans implemented in 2010, they were able to carve up the map so that they have 75% of Ohio House seats. It’s so bad, a recent study showed you can predict the results of any race in Ohio with a virtual certainty just by knowing the political makeup of a particular district.

You can see how gerrymandering can manipulate election results in the Guardian’s excellent look at “the nation’s most gerrymandered district” in North Carolina, which was so narrow at one point state representative Mickey Michaux, a Democrat from Durham, once said: “If you drove down the interstate with both car doors open, you’d kill most of the people in the district.”

The United States district map would look radically different if computers, rather than partisan humans, drew the maps based on US census data. That’s why it’s encouraging that President Obama will reportedly make redistricting reform a central part of his post-presidency plans. Given the extent to which it affects our elections, it’s an underreported problem – and until it becomes a national scandal, it will persist.

Gerrymandering has several effects beyond just making it easier for one party to control the majority of seats in the House. It drives down voter turnout, since so many elections are lopsided and unopposed. It increases polarization and deadlock in Congress since a lot of congressional members don’t have to worry about a serious challenger from the other party. It also deprives minority groups of political power.

It isn’t a new problem; the practice is almost as old as the country itself, and Democrats have engaged in it as well. But no one has perfected it as well as Republicans did in 2010, and until the practice is done away with once and for all, democracy will suffer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RT  /  October 27, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected allegations that Moscow is trying to meddle with the American presidential vote, saying that the US is no banana republic to allow such a thing.

“Does anyone seriously think that Russia can somehow influence the choice of the American people?” asked Putin in Sochi on Thursday.

“Is America some sort of a banana republic?” he asked rhetorically. “America is a great state [country]. Correct me, please, if I’m wrong.”

The ‘Russian card’ was used during the American presidential campaign to distract the voters from the real problems currently faced by the US, Putin suggested.

“But apparently the [U.S.] elite has nothing to say to calm public anxiety” over those issues, he said.

“It is far better to distract people's attention to alleged Russian hackers, spies, agents of influence and so on and so forth,” Putin added.

Russia and Putin have frequently been mentioned during the US presidential race.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton accused WikiLeaks, which released emails and documents hacked from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and the Democratic National Convention, of working with Moscow.

According to Clinton, the Russian president “let loose cyber attackers to hack into [U.S.] government files, to hack into personal files, hack into the Democratic National Committee.”

She also accused the Republican candidate Donald Trump of being actively supported by the Kremlin and promised to “defend the citizens of this country [the U.S.] and the Russians need to understand that.”

Putin also expressed regret that elections in the West have “stopped being an instrument of change.”

“It all comes down to scandals, digging up dirt and – I beg your pardon – discussing who has pinched whom, who is sleeping with whom. Well, this is totally out of line,” he said.

Putin said the political agenda has become “vapid” in the West, while ordinary citizens’ trust for the ruling class is diminishing.

“Frankly, if we look at the programs of different candidates, we can get an impression that they are tailored to the same curves,” he said.

Putin criticized US and EU attempts to portray Russia as an aggressive country and enemy of the West.

“Fictional, mythical dangers, like the alleged Russian military threat, are constantly being churned out. Indeed, it is a profitable thing. It allows them to expand their military budgets; to expand NATO; to bring the infrastructure of the bloc closer to the Russian border,” he said.

“Of course, it’s very nice, and sometimes profitable, to pose as the defenders of civilization… but the fact is that Russia is not going to attack anybody,” Putin added.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FBI under scrutiny amid speculation over Trump's Russian ties

France 24  /  November 3, 2016

Speculation has mounted in recent days over what the FBI knows about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, from a preliminary FBI probe into a former Trump adviser to an ex-spy's claims that the Kremlin sought to cultivate Trump over several years.

Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada in an angry letter on Sunday accusing the FBI director of choosing not to reveal that his agency had “explosive” information on Trump’s ties to Russia.

“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear [???] that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Reid wrote. “The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public."

Reid’s allegations prompted a flurry of speculation as to what the FBI might know as well as accusations that it may be cherry-picking what information it releases to the public for the purposes of influencing the election.

Manafort resurfaces

Citing law enforcement and intelligence sources, NBC News reported on Monday that the FBI had launched a preliminary inquiry into the overseas business interests of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chief.

Manafort told NBC that "none of it is true... There's no investigation going on by the FBI that I'm aware of." Manafort also denied having any ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin.

"This is all political propaganda, meant to deflect," he said.

What is known is that Manafort’s firm acted as a political adviser to Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, helping his party win the largest bloc in 2006 parliamentary elections and in 2007 securing him a second term as premier. Handwritten, “black” ledgers appeared to show that Manafort was paid $12.7 million in cash by Yanukovych’s party between 2007 and 2012, the New York Times reported in August. The payments, which were revealed by Ukraine’s new National Anti-Corruption Bureau, have been denied by Manafort’s lawyer.

The anti-corruption bureau, which receives funding from both the United States and the European Union, has an evidence-sharing agreement with the FBI. It said that Manafort’s name appears 22 times in the black ledger over a five-year period.

Officials in the Cayman Islands are also investigating Manafort’s business dealings, including his involvement with off-shore shell companies set up to purchase Russian and Ukrainian assets. Manafort and his partners set up a Cayman Islands private equity company in 2007 that listed a firm owned by Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska as an investor, the Times reported, citing court filings. Deripaska invested millions into the fund, which purchased a cable television station in Odessa. The deal eventually collapsed in acrimony, with Deripaska suing Manafort in a court case that is still pending.

But it appeared to be a bridge too far for the Trump campaign when emails surfaced showing that Manafort deputy Rick Gates – who also worked on the Trump campaign – was involved in a lobbying project for Ukraine's then ruling party, which included setting up “meetings between a top Ukrainian official and senators and congressmen on influential committees”, the AP reported.

The efforts included attempts to sway US public opinion in favour of Ukraine's pro-Russian government at the time. But neither Manafort nor Gates registered that they were working as foreign agents, as required under federal law.

Manafort left the Trump campaign in August, just days after the reports came to light.

Russia attempts to woo Trump?

Other media reports allege a more sinister link between Trump and Russian interests. Also on Monday, left-leaning magazine Mother Jones reported that a former senior Western intelligence officer who specialises in Russian counterintelligence told the FBI that the Kremlin has for several years sought to cultivate Trump, citing recent communications with Russian sources. (A senior US official familiar with the former officer confirmed to Mother Jones that he is a credible source.) The revelation prompted the FBI to request more information.

The former intelligence officer, who asked not to be identified and who now works for a US firm providing corporate clients with information on Russia, was asked to research Trump's overseas interests, including those in Russia. The inquiry was part of an opposition research project initially financed by a Republican client critical of Trump.

"It started off as a fairly general inquiry," the former officer told David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones. But upon digging deeper, he found that "there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit".

"Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years,” said the former officer’s first memo, seen by Mother Jones. “Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance [emphasis in original]."

Trump "and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals", the memo continued. It went on to state that Russian intelligence had "compromised" the real estate mogul during his visits to Moscow and could attempt to "blackmail” him.

The response from the FBI was "shock and horror", the ex-official told Mother Jones.

“In August the FBI asked him for all information in his possession and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources,” Corn writes. “The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos – some of which referred to members of Trump's inner circle.”

The official continued to share additional information with the FBI. "It's quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on," he said.

"This is something of huge significance, way above party politics. I think [Trump's] own party should be aware of this stuff as well."

Trump’s campaign did not respond to a Mother Jones request for comment on the new allegations. But in the past Trump has unequivocally denied receiving any political help from Moscow.

"I have nothing to do with Russia," he told CBS in July.

Business interests

The billionaire has promoted Trump real estate in Russia and other former Soviet bloc states, however, and several analysts have observed that his foreign business dealings might create conflicts of interest if he is elected. For one, the Western sanctions levied on Russia for its role in Ukraine might prove to be at odds with Trump’s own financial interests.

“Will I sell condos to Russians on occasion? Probably. I mean I do that. I have a lot of condos. I do that. But I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever," Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Trump has said he will not take part in business decisions if he becomes president and will instead leave day-to-day operations to his children in a blind trust. But Richard Painter, a law professor who was an ethics adviser to former president George W. Bush, said this arrangement might not go far enough.

“I don’t see how you have a blind trust when you know what’s in the blind trust,” Painter told ABC News. “The appearance is that a foreign government or other foreign organization has influence over the president of the United States through financial dealings with his family, and that would be unacceptable.”

Trump has repeatedly denied having financial interests inside Russia. “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he wrote on Twitter in July.

For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 26 juillet 2016

Trump may not hold assets in Russia, but one of his sons has spoken publicly about their lucrative business dealings with Russian clients both in the United States and abroad.

"[In] terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,” Donald Trump Jr. said in 2008, speaking at a real estate conference in New York. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

It remains difficult to determine whether Trump holds any Russian assets since he has refused to release his tax returns, breaking with a tradition followed by every US presidential candidate since 1976.

Russian hacks

Speaking to lawmakers on September 28, FBI Director Comey said the FBI was trying to figure out "just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election".

But when on October 7 the US government formally accused Russia of hacking political targets – saying the hacks were specifically "intended to interfere with the US election process" – Comey asked that the FBI’s name be kept off the official statement, according to several people involved in the discussions.

A former bureau official told CNBC this week that Comey did not want his bureau to be involved in accusing Russia of interfering in the vote so close to Election Day despite the FBI's role in the investigation.

In the end, a statement was jointly issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence, saying that the US was "confident" the Russian government “directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions”.

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement said.

Comey agreed that a foreign power was trying to affect the presidential vote. "He believed it to be true, but was against putting it out before the election," the ex-official said.

Comey’s concern about the timing of the hacking revelations ahead of the November 8 vote has left many confused, considering his decision to notify Congress last week that the FBI was planning to review newly discovered emails on a laptop seized from the home of Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide.

'Deep concern' to voters

Despite Monday’s revelation that Manafort was once again the target of a preliminary FBI inquiry, the New York Times reported that same day that the FBI had found no evidence "that would link him or anyone else in his business or political circle directly to Russia’s election operations”.

But as the paper itself notes, “The FBI’s inquiries into Russia’s possible role continue” with respect to the Clinton campaign hacks.

The paper said that “even the hacking into Democratic emails, FBI and intelligence officials now believe was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump”.

But several US politicians have said that more should be done to separate fact from fiction with respect to the allegations.

Representative Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC that he could not discuss Senate Majority Leader Reid's assertions that the FBI was sitting on “explosive” information of Russia’s involvement with Trump. But he would say the allegations should worry the US electorate.

"Americans have every right to be concerned about what they see in terms of Trump advisers and their closeness with the Kremlin, Trump's policies vis-a-vis Russia, Trump's potential financial interest – all of those things ought to be of deep concern to voters."

Democratic Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York has suggested that the FBI needs to be more forthcoming about what it is or is not investigating with regard to Trump.

“You do not hear the [FBI] director talking about any other investigation he is involved in,” Meeks told the New York Times after Comey’s letter about the new emails was made public. “Is he investigating the Trump Foundation? Is he looking into the Russians hacking into all of our emails? Is he looking into and deciding what is going on with regards to other allegations of the Trump Organization?”

President Barack Obama has refrained from criticising Comey for his announcement but even he eventually weighed in on the controversy swirling around the FBI chief, saying US investigations should not “operate on innuendo”.

“[There] is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks,” Obama said. “We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...