Tag: YouTube

Canadian YouTube roadgeek subtly criticizes Donald Trump over border walls

From Canada, the land where curling is the national pastime and ice hockey is the unofficial national religion, comes a YouTube user who goes under the screen name Trans Canada Phil (hereafter referred to in this blog post as TCP), and, judging by one of TCP’s captions on a recent roadgeek video he produced, I’m guessing that TCP no fan of Donald Trump:

Near the end of the video (I’ve set the embed to show the section of the video in question), TCP noted in the video that TCP was driving in the direction of the border between the Canadian province of Manitoba and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and that there were “no fences, no walls” along the actual U.S.-Canadian border in that area of the North American continent. TCP also noted that there were “certainly” no walls that Canadians are “going to pay for”. While TCP didn’t mention Trump by name, I’m nearly 100% certain that TCP was referring to Donald Trump. As a political figure here in the United States, Trump is best-known for stirring up virtually every kind of bigotry and resentment that one can think of, and some of his ideas that he’s campaigned on as a U.S. presidential candidate are deeply rooted in bigotry, such as his proposal to get Mexico to pay for a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

While TCP is not a Canadian government official that I’m aware of, I’m guessing that most Canadians don’t want a U.S.-Canada border wall. It’s also worth noting that the last American politician to propose such an idea, Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who was briefly a Republican Party candidate for U.S. president, ended up dropping out of the presidential race altogether not long after he proposed such a ridiculous idea.

The percentage of rapes committed by white people is higher than the percentage of white Americans

Leslie Salzillo, a contributor to the progressive website DailyKos, wrote this piece about an online video showing a white woman, who was harassing a black man, falsely accusing the black man of threatening to rape her. You can view the video here.

I want to make a couple of points here.

First, rape and fear of rape have been used since before the founding of the United States of America in a racist manner against black people. Examples of this include Europeans in the 17th century falsely accusing black slaves of rape, accusations of rape being committed by black people being used to cover up crimes committed by white people, and the infamous Willie Horton ad that was aired on American television by a political organization supporting Republican George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential bid. Rape is a serious crime, and, if you’re using rape or the fear of rape to spew bigotry towards minority groups, you’re part of the problem when it comes to the pervasive rape culture in this country. While some black people are rapists (a famous example being former professional boxer Mike Tyson), and all rapists are criminals, black people are often falsely accused of rape, while actual white rapists often get no punishment or very light punishment for violating women.

Secondly, these are actual statistics on the demographics of American rapists, as well as the demographics of American aggravated assaulters and American automobile thieves:

For the sake of completion, 63.7% of the total American population is Non-Hispanic White, meaning that the percentage of rapes committed by white people in America (67.2%) is higher than the percentage of total white people in America.

As he launches his presidential campaign, Scott Walker compares Wisconsinites to special interests

Approximately 19 seconds into Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign announcement video, an unnamed narrator for the Walker campaign said that Walker “beat the special interests” over a video clip of progressive protesters supporting the unsuccessful recall attempt against Walker in 2012. At around the 39-second mark of the video, Walker himself spoke in front of the camera and talked about taking “power out of the hands of big government special interests”.

In reality, Walker compared the people of his state to special interests, while allowing special interests like big business interests and the school voucher lobby to benefit from the very big government that Walker rails against.

For Walker to compare Wisconsinites to special interests is not only false, it’s also offensive. More specifically, Walker compared Wisconsin progressives to special interests, and, having followed many of them on blogs and social media for the past few years, I can certainly say that they are not special interests. They’re people who want to make their state and their country a better place to live. They care about their communities, and they support workers’ rights, women’s rights, the middle class, open government, equality, and other progressive ideals. As Meghan Blake-Horst, a co-founder and the market manager of the MadCity Bazaar flea market in Madison, Wisconsin, put it, “Yes, we have special interests in feeding, educating and providing our kids a healthy place to grow up. And running our small businesses.” Comparing people like Blake-Horst to special interests dehumanizes people.

The truth about Walker’s record is that he and his political allies in Wisconsin have given special interests, such as big business interests and the school voucher lobby, effective control over Wisconsin’s state government. Those special interests have, in turn, helped Wisconsin’s state government, among other things, hand out tax breaks to the wealthy, give out tons of corporate welfare to businesses, privatize and cut funding from public K-12 education, cut funding from higher education, strip tenure away from college professors, make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, make it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want, bust unions, drive down wages, hurt Wisconsin’s economy, run up massive state budget deficits, and destroyed Wisconsin’s reputation. Martha Laning, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), didn’t mince words one bit in her statement criticizing Walker as he launches his presidential campaign. Laning stated that Walker’s record “is one of unprecedented corruption, division, extremism and a failure to foster economic growth and opportunity”. Laning also took Walker to task over “stagnant” wages in Wisconsin, “job growth that’s dead last in the Midwest and trailing most of the nation”, a corporate welfare agency “that’s known more for scandal than economic development”, and a massive Wisconsin state budget deficit “created by his failed policies”.

While Scott Walker compares the people of his home state to special interests, the truth of the matter is that Walker is beholden to real special interests that own him and his political allies, and they’ve completely wrecked Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. If Walker is elected president, Walker, his political allies, and big-money special interests will turn America into a third-world country by enacting the same far-right political agenda they enacted in Wisconsin.

Mike Huckabee spews anti-transgender bigotry and brags about wanting to creep out showering girls

As reported by Vox’s German Lopez, the far-right website World Net Daily uncovered controversial remarks by Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, in which Huckabee spewed anti-transgender bigotry and bragged about wanting to creep out showering girls:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee perpetuated one of the most pervasive myths about transgender people at a convention earlier this year, suggesting that men can abuse trans-friendly laws for voyeurism in women’s bathrooms.

“Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE,” Huckabee said in a video resurfaced on YouTube over the weekend by World Net Daily, according to a report by BuzzFeed’s Megan Apper and Andrew Kaczynski. “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.'”

Regardless of whether or not Huckabee was joking, I did not find what Huckabee said one bit funny.

First off, Huckabee repeated a common canard that bigots will use to oppose equal rights for transgender people. They believe enacting laws and ordinances prohibiting discrimination against transgender people would lead to men claiming to be women so that they can creep out, or even sexually assault, women in women’s public bathrooms. That’s an absolutely false claim, as, in states where transgender people enjoy legally-protected rights, there has been not one documented instance of sexual assault or voyeurism that has been attributed to laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people.

Secondly, for Huckabee to claim that he wanted to claim that he’s a woman in order to creep out girls showering in a high school locker room is absolutely disgusting. Huckabee is, in effect, condoning bathroom voyeurism by men against women, which is flatly inappropriate. Huckabee shouldn’t be anywhere near the White House with that kind of attitude towards girls and women.

Oh, by the way, I strongly encourage people to read this article about how to talk about transgender people properly.

PRE-ENDORSEMENT: Oren Jacobson for 3rd Congressional District of Illinois

Oren Jacobson, a tech entrepreneur, has formed an exploratory committee to look at a possible run for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, which is currently held by conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski.

You can watch a video of Jacobson’s exploratory committee announcement here:

Jacobson would be a significant improvement over Lipinski, who is one of the worst Democrats to hold any kind of elected office in the entire country. When it comes to health care, Jacobson supports increasing federal funding for research in search of cures for the most devastating illnesses and diseases that affect Americans. While Jacobson hasn’t formally entered the race in the 3rd District, which includes parts of Chicago and numerous suburban communities between Chicago and Joliet, at this time, his campaign has already been endorsed by Blue America, a political action committee that supports progressive-minded Democrats for public office.

In the current Congress, Lipinski has voted more often with John Boehner’s Republicans than his own party, and, when it comes to women’s rights, Lipinski has stood with right-wing extremists who want to control women’s bodies and deny them the reproductive health care services they need or want. Lipinski is such an staunch opponent of women’s rights, he voted against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because he thinks that politicians like himself and his far-right Republican allies should control women’s bodies.

While I live in a different region of Illinois, I believe that Oren Jacobson would make a great representative of the 3rd Congressional District of Illinois, and I encourage Democrats and progressives in that part of our state to strongly support his candidacy.

Russ Feingold is back with a more boring attitude

Russ Feingold, who represented Wisconsin for three six-year terms in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011, is officially running for his old job. Surprisingly, for someone who is a longtime political figure in Wisconsin and claimed in his first statewide campaign that he knew Wisconsin like the back of his hand, he stated in his campaign announcement that he wanted to listen to Wisconsinites (presumably, this means holding listening sessions, but I don’t know if Feingold’s campaign intends to schedule any in Wisconsin):

If that campaign video is indicative of the “new Russ Feingold”, while he’s still very progressive, he’s a lot more boring, stale, and generic than the “old Russ Feingold”, who was known for running some very populist, creative, and funny TV ads, especially the first time he ran for U.S. Senate in 1992. Keep in mind that I do regard Feingold as a political hero, as he was the only U.S. Senator to vote against the anti-Fourth Amendment PATRIOT Act, which established the Bush-Obama surveillance state, and he led the fight to enact stricter federal campaign finance laws in the early 2000’s. In fact, Feingold’s call for bipartisanship was incredibly tone-deaf, given how much of a progressive patriot Feingold was during his first three terms in the Senate and how polarized America is nowadays.

However, I’m not a fan of how the Mike Tate-led (for only a few more weeks) Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) is handling Feingold’s campaign. To me, it seems like they’re trying anoint Feingold as the Democratic candidate in a backroom, which is very un-Feingold-like. There will be a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, if I’m not mistaken, sometime in late summer of next year, although it remains to be seen whether or not any other candidates decide to run against Feingold in the primary. I’d love to see someone like State Representative Melissa Sargent of Madison run against Feingold in the primary, although I highly doubt that she’s interested in higher office, and I don’t think that anyone worth my endorsement would run in a primary against Feingold. In fact, the DPW tried to paint Feingold as two different people, one of them being the “bipartisan” Feingold and the other being the “progressive” Feingold:

“After four years of Ron Johnson’s failure to serve our middle class, Wisconsin voters are ready for a leader who isn’t beholden to wealthy special interests and won’t waste time on petty, partisan, political battles that stand in the way of ensuring economic opportunity for all.

“That’s why there is an incredible sense of optimism and enthusiasm for Russ Feingold entering this race. Russ Feingold is a tried and true champion for all Wisconsinites who will put their interests first and work every day for seniors, veterans, students, and working families – not the millionaires and billionaires who have already gotten everything they wanted and more from bought-and-paid-for Ron Johnson.

The first paragraph sounds more like someone of the mold of Democratic State Representative Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton (i.e., someone who is personally progressive, but can be very annoying with the “bipartisan” shtick) than Feingold, and the second paragraph sounds like the old Feingold that Wisconsin progressives remember and admire. It’s worth noting that Hesselbein is the only current Democratic elected official in Wisconsin that I have knowledge of Feingold meeting with between the time he left the U.S. State Department and the time that he announced his intention to run for his old U.S. Senate seat.

However, let’s be 100% clear who the eventual opponent for Feingold or, in the unlikely scenario in which Feingold loses the Democratic nomination, whoever else Democrats nominate, will be: Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, considered by some to be the #1 Democratic target in the next year’s U.S. Senate elections. Johnson is about the closest thing to a pro-sex abuse politician there is anywhere in the entire country. Johnson has, in the last several years, either protected or fought to protect perverts like disgraced former Republican State Assemblyman Bill Kramer and Catholic priests, both of which have sexually abused women (in the case of Kramer) and/or children (in the case of Catholic priests). Johnson is also on record as claiming that the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is unconstitutional, which is a false statement. If the Democratic opponent to Ron Johnson is completely unwilling to attack Johnson over that, than he or she shouldn’t be running against him, since, in my opinion, not attacking Johnson over his pro-sex abuse record amounts to not really wanting to defeat him.

If Russ Feingold doesn’t start sounding like the brave progressive patriot that Wisconsin progressives know, admire, and remember, they might start looking for another Democrat who will stand up to the failed, corporate Democratic leadership, fight to restore the American middle class, stand up for the rights of the American people, fight to end corporate welfare as we know it, and refuse to compromise their core progressive values.

Nation Consulting’s ties to Republican firms run even further

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: This is an update to a previous blog post about Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Nation Consulting’s ties to Republican front groups.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: I have made edits to the blog post in order to ensure that the blog post is 100% accurate.

Since my last blog post about Nation Consulting’s ties to Republican organizations, I’ve had an individual point out to me via a Facebook group that Coalition for the New Economy (CftNE), a group that opposes government-owned broadband internet services in areas where the private sector operates broadband services, had paid DCI Group, a mostly right-wing public relations, lobbying, and consulting firm, a total of $666,957 for work that DCI Group did for CftNE as an independent contractor, per a 2012 IRS 990 filing by CftNE (you can find that filing here; the information I mentioned in this paragraph comes from page 9 of the PDF file). CftNE was led by Thad Nation at the time of the filing; Nation is also the founder of Nation Consulting, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based consulting firm.

While DCI Group supported the effort to allow openly-LGBT people to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces, something which should have been done sooner, a lot of the other things they’ve been involved with is, in my opinion, clearly against the best interests of the American people.

DCI Group has been behind anti-climate change campaigns, including an infamous YouTube video in 2006 that spoofed the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth, in which Gore, who was Vice President of the United States during the presidency of Bill Clinton, talked about how serious of a threat climate change is to this planet. While DCI Group has never actually acknowledged its role in the Gore parody, multiple media outlets reported that a Yahoo! email from the same person who uploaded the YouTube video originated from a computer registered to DCI Group. DCI Group’s officials include, among many others, Doug Goodyear, the CEO of the firm and a former political director of the Colorado Republican Party, and Craig Stevens, who worked on two Republican presidential campaigns and also worked for Tommy Thompson when he was U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under Republican President George W. Bush. Perhaps the worst thing that DCI Group has associated itself with is the former military junta in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. DCI Group conducted public relations work on behalf of the Burmese junta from 2002 to 2003. The Burmese junta was known for flagrant human rights violations, including the politically-motivated house imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi. DCI Group’s work with the Burmese junta became a major controversy in the 2008 presidential election here in the U.S., as Goodyear worked with the McCain campaign prior to the media publishing reports about DCI Group’s work with the Burmese junta.

It’s 100% clear to me that Thad Nation, who is the founder of Nation Consulting and either is or was the head of CftNE, plays both sides of the street politically. While their founder, Thad Nation, has at least indirectly funded right-wing organizations, Nation Consulting, which Nation himself founded, also employs Jason Rae, who also happens to be a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member and a candidate for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW). That is an inconvenient truth for Rae, as it’s at least an apparent conflict of interest, if not an outright one, for Rae to be DPW chair and working for a firm led by someone who either is or was also the head of a different organization that gave money to Republican and Republican-leaning organizations simultaneously.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s racism goes much further than University of Oklahoma students signing a racist song on a bus

The national organization of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣAE, also abbreviated SAE) fraternity closed its University of Oklahoma (OU) chapter after a video showing OU SAE members singing a song to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” that included flagrantly racist lyrics was posted to YouTube.

As it turns out, there’s far more to SAE’s bigotry than just a video posted online by a member of the group’s University of Oklahoma chapter.

First, the national SAE organization touts its ties to the pre-Civil War South and the Confederacy on its own website:

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded on March 9, 1856, at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Its founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, John Webb Kerr, Samuel Marion Dennis, Wade Hampton Foster, Abner Edwin Patton, and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie, who wrote the ritual, created the grip, and chose the name. Rudulph designed the badge. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South.

Founded in a time of intense sectional feeling, Sigma Alpha Epsilon confined its growth to the southern states. By the end of 1857, the fraternity numbered seven chapters. Its first national convention met in the summer of 1858 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with four of its eight chapters in attendance. By the time of the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, fifteen chapters had been established.

None of the founders of SAE were members of any other fraternity, although Noble Leslie DeVotie had been invited to join all of the other fraternities at the University of Alabama before founding Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

The fraternity had fewer than 400 members when the Civil War began. Of those, 369 went to war for the Confederate States and seven for the Union Army. Seventy-four members of the fraternity lost their lives in the war.

SAE was founded in an era when slavery was legal in many states, and was founded as a fraternity of, for, and by white racists and slavery supporters, most of whom fought for slavery and the right of states to secede from the Union. Sadly, it’s not surprising that SAE is full of racists.

Second, the SAE chapter at Oklahoma State University (OSU), a public university in Stillwater, Oklahoma, had at least one member hang a Confederate flag in the window of his room, and the flag was clearly visible from outside the OSU SAE fraternity house.

Racism in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is absolutely rampant.

Wealth inequality isn’t just an American problem…it’s also a Canadian problem

As many of you already know, wealth inequality is a serious problem here in the United States. In America, the wealthiest 1% of the country’s population own more wealth than the poorest 90% of Americans.

However, wealth inequality is also a serious problem north of the border.

The Broadbent Institute, a Canadian progressive think tank based in Ottawa, Ontario, produced this YouTube video highlighting the serious wealth inequality problem in Canada:

While, according to the Broadbent Institute’s survey, most Canadians realize that there will always be people that are wealthier than others, they believe that the wealthiest 20% of Canadians should have roughly three times as much wealth as the poorest 20% of Canadians do. They also believe that the middle 60% of Canadians should have roughly 60% of the total wealth in the country.

According to the Broadbent Institute’s data, most Canadians also think that wealth distribution is more unequal than what the believe is ideal. They think that the wealthiest 20% has ten times as much wealth as the poorest 20%. They also believe that the wealthiest 20% holds a majority (no exact number provided; judging by the pie chart provided in the video at the 1:19 mark, approximately 55%) of the country’s wealth.

However, wealth distribution is even more unequal than most Canadians think it is. The poorest 20% of Canadians own less than 1% of the country’s total wealth, in fact, the bottom 10% actually has more debt than assets. Additionally, the poorest 50% of Canadians own only 6% of the country’s total wealth. On the other hand, the top 1% of Canadians own 20% of the country’s total wealth, and the wealthiest 20% own nearly 70% of the country’s total wealth. Furthermore, the top 10% of Canadians hold 60% of the country’s total financial assets (which includes financial instruments like stocks and bonds), and the average Canadian CEO makes a staggering 206 times as much money as their average employee.

One of the reasons that income inequality has become a major problem in Canada in recent decades is, as cited by the Broadbent Institute, the declining amount of government spending on social services, such as health care, housing, transportation, and education. Additionally, recent polling by the Broadbent Institute shows that, 80% of Canadians support raising personal income taxes on those in the highest Canadian income tax bracket (all three of Canada’s largest political parties oppose this) and 75% of Canadians support raising the corporate income tax rate in Canada (the New Democratic Party of Canada supports a corporate tax increase at the federal level in Canada).

Just like here in America, wealth inequality is a major problem in Canada. Additionally, just like the major political parties in America, the major political parties in Canada are asleep at the wheel when it comes to the wealth inequality problem.

My video entry to the MAYDAYin30 video contest

I’ve decided to enter the MAYDAYin30 video contest that MAYDAY PAC, the Lawrence Lessig-led, crowd-funded SuperPAC that supports ending the culture of big-money politics in this country by, among other things, overturning the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision by a federal constitutional amendment.

My submission is a video supporting the campaign of Staci Appel, the Democratic U.S. House nominee in the 3rd Congressional District of Iowa. Appel, who has been endorsed by MAYDAY PAC. Staci supports amending the U.S. Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and end the era of big-money campaigns and SuperPACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money from big-wig donors.

Here’s my video:

If you like my video and would like to see it aired as a TV ad on stations covering Central and Southwestern Iowa, you can vote for my video here!