Connect with us

This time of year is full of conventions releasing new information to their adoring fans. Have you seen the new Rouge One trailer from Star Wars Celebration? What did you think about the Justice League panel at Comic-Con? Did you hear about the nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails that were leaked just before the Democratic National Convention detailing their aggressive stance against candidate Bernie Sanders and much, much more aggressive sales tactics used to trade positions and power for donations to the DNC?

I . . . I don’t even . . . Where to begin?

Let’s start by making it clear that I am not a political person, creature, or entity in any way. I dislike both parties, and I try to avoid the topic of politics like I would the dentist, the plague, and my ex-girlfriend all rolled into one. I think Donald Trump is definitely a racist but probably not smart enough to be a fascist, as some claim. And I trust Hillary Clinton about as far as I could throw her (metaphorically off a cliff onto Trump). So when I lay into the DNC – which I’m about to, just wait it’s going to be great – know that it comes from a place of genuine disgust and revulsion and has nothing to do with party lines.

Of the many, many, many, many (see fuck load) scandalous emails revealed last Thursday on WikiLeaks, the ones that stand out the most are the those that reveal just how for sale this country is. Let’s walk through one exchange.

U.S._Secretary_of_State_Hillary_Rodham_Clinton_testifies_in_front_of_the_U.S._House_Committee_on_Foreign_Affairs_091202-N-TT977-397-1024x674

Image: Wiki Commons; defenseimagery.mil

Jordan Kaplan, the National Finance Director of the DNC, sent out, ” . . . this is the last call for boards and commissions; if you have someone, send to [DNC finance chief of staff Scott] Comer – full name, city, state, email and phone number. Send as many as you want, just don’t know how many people will get to.”

Jordan C. Vaughn, the National AALC Finance Director, was a little confused, “Boards and commissions? Sorry, I’m lost”.

Comer cleared the matter up for us though, “Any folks who you’d like to be considered to be on the board of (for example) USPS, NEA, NEH. Basically anyone who has a niche interest and might like to serve on the board of one of these orgs.”

“I should say, though, that the likelihood of landing a spot on ones as prestigious as NEA/USPS is unlikely. It’s much more likely they’ll get something like ‘President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History.’ (no shade to women)”

Oh! Thanks for clearing that up for us, Comer. So glad to know that the DNC finance department is so crucial in nominating people for appointments.

Vaughn responded with a list of DNC donors who had each given thousands of dollars towards democratic campaigns over the years. Luckily these appointments aren’t likely to be to such prestigious organizations as the NEA/USPS! Those spots go to much higher bidders donors.

But wait, American people, there’s more! Why not look over an exchange from May 2 that reads exactly like an exchange between a used car salesman and an unlucky customer. Today the roles of car salesman and unlucky customer will be played by Naomi Aberly and Robert Glovsky, Vice Chair of the wealth management company, The Colony Group, respectively.

Aberly begins with a cold email to Glovsky soliciting him for additional donations before the convention (emphasis added), “I know you are all in for Hillary (thank goodness things are looking good there finally), but the DNC is looking to past generous supporters like you for contributions now, before the convention. I know there is an argument for giving through the Hillary Victory Fund, but it is also important to give now if you want anything at convention….. If you do another DNC max out check now, before June 1, you qualify for a convention package….. And I am expecting you want to be there! It has been my experience that the DNC can do more for donors than the campaign can – at this point in the cycle for a first term presidential candidate.”

Hmmm, what do you mean by “the DNC can do more for donors”, Aberly? And is this “convention package” the one I’ve been hearing so much about where you’re booked at a premier hotel, VIP credentials, and six slots at “an exclusive roundtable and campaign briefing with high-level Democratic officials”.

Glovsky responded, “I plan on going to the convention and, of course, want the best package . . . let’s talk, either by phone or over lunch, as I always value your opinion.”

The two chit chat over the setting of their lunch date before Glovsky asks, “The one question I need to get a handle on is what I get if I give the $33,400 by June 1 to the Victory Fund – either from the campaign or the DNC. and, how does that compare to being a Hillraiser.”

At this point Aberly emails Jordan Kaplan, still the National Finance Director of the DNC in case you forgot, “See below – somehow, I was lucky enough to get out of lunch and only have to talk with him on the phone – but see his entirely NOT strategic question below – How hard is it? Any advice on how to further answer this – I replied with something about the campaign needing primary money and probably not counting victory fund money for too much at this point?”

Kaplan sent, “Your answer is spot on; the campaign is not counting any credit right now (weird) but you are correct. He would have more juice at the DNC than with HVF.”

See America, this is why it’s important to talk with your political representatives. You gotta know where you’re going to have the most “juice” at.

In all seriousness, anyone who can read between th- actually no, anyone who is capable of just reading the lines can see that the DNC is trading power and position in Washington for campaign donations. This level of despicable, conspiratorial behavior is beyond loathsome. They are handing out government appointments to whoever gives them the most money. They are selling who gets to meet with our leaders and whisper in their ears. Our political power is being bought and sold out from under the American people. Whether you believe it or not, get used to hearing it, because America will be talking about this level of corruption for years to come.

I was never feeling the Bern, but the DNC is lucky it managed to sink Bernie Sanders’ campaign before he ever made it into office, because his talk of campaign finance reform sounds like it really could have hurt their business. And from all appearances, it looks like business is good.

News

Sweden’s Move To A 6 Hour Workday Should Make You Very Angry

Published

on

Sunset in Stockholm, Sweden
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

What would you do with 6 extra hours of free time every week? That’s the question every full-time worker in Sweden is going to have to answer. After years of individual companies making the switch, the entire country is about to embark on an ambitious plan to maintain productivity while also eliminating 17% of the current workweek. Yes, the entire country.

Not only have Swedish workers just been given 312 hours of their lives back each year, but they have effectively been given a rather nice raise as well. In 2014, the average Swede took home about of €30,612 (the equivalent of $34,285) each year, or €2551 ($2857)  a month, which is about €589 ($660) a week. If we break that down over a 36 hour work week (less than the 47 hours the average American works full-time ), that equals €16.35 an hour. With the switch from a 36 hour workweek to a 30 hour workweek, the average take-home hourly wage just jumped to €19.63/hour, or a 20% increase.*

That would make me pretty happy, and I hope our CEO reads this and feels compelled to give all of us at Men’s Trait a 20% raise. We’re not holding our breath, however. Wages in the U.S. have been slightly better than stagnant for decades, and now we have to sit back and watch as an entire nation was just collectively given a raise that we could only dream of in the States.

In the United States, the average earner made $45,230 before taxes in 2014. More than the average Swede, right? Not necessarily. You might have noticed that the amount people in Sweden take home, on average, was €30,612 ($34,285), not what they earned. That’s the net, after tax amount. In the U.S., depending on a worker’s tax bracket, that amount would be at best $33,923, excluding any deductions and credits on their taxes. Depending on the exchange rate at any given moment, people in Sweden might take home more money than Americans. Or Americans might take home more. It’s very, very close.

But each country is different, and the cost of living in Sweden is higher than in the United States. Or, rather no, it isn’t. When we look at just after tax income, not accounting for fixed expenses, the average Swede has more buying power than the average American. Rent and utilities are significantly cheaper for people living in Sweden, making it slightly more affordable than the U.S. overall. Removing just utilities from the equation gives the advantage to Americans for having more buying power. Luxury activities, like eating at restaurants or going to the movies, are more expensive in Sweden than they are in the United States; that’s one financial advantage we have. But Swedes don’t do those things on the same scale that Americans do, so the premium prices affect them less than they would someone living in the States.

Okay, so I’ve rambled for over 500 words about how the Swedes just made a change to how much people work, and then delved into a bevy of numbers comparing the incomes and buying power of Americans and Swedes, only to come to the conclusion that there really isn’t that much difference between the two countries. Both are wealthy countries, with each celebrating a 7.2 OECD Better Life Index score that measures the quality of life for people around the globe, well above the average score of 6.0. So what’s the point?

Just remember, you could be living the American dream in Sweden, only by working at least 312 fewer hours each year. Oh, and the Swedes are guaranteed 25 paid vacation days and 16 paid holidays yearly, plus some paid maternity (56 weeks, or 13 months) and paternity leave (34 weeks), neither of which are guaranteed in the United States.** Now, with this new 6 hour workday, your typical Swedish worker will work 458 fewer hours every year than the average American (this even includes part-time workers)—that’s 19 full days.

Yes, you should be angry. People in Sweden are living the American dream better than we are.

Preston Hemmerich is the Content Manager for 301 Digital Media, overseeing MensTrait.com, OutwardOn.com, DailyBeautyHack.com and more. He enjoys covering food, politics, travel and writing sad attempts at humor.

*This figure does not account for hourly employees, only salaried employees. Some businesses have applied a wage increase to hourly employees to make up for lost hours, but that is not a country wide practice. In reality, this de facto raise disproportionately benefits higher income individuals working salaried jobs.
**Collectively, citizens of the U.S. get nowhere near 41 paid days off a year that Swedish citizens do.

Continue Reading

News

Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally

Published

on

Jonathan Capehart and Nick Schmit
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Over the past 24 hours, a flurry of scandal has unfolded involving MSNBC contributor, Washington Post opinion columnist and prolific Clinton supporter Jonathan Capehart.

Writing an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Capehart sought to sling mud at Bernie Sanders — Swiftboat-style — in questioning Bernie Sanders’ past achievements in fighting for civil rights on behalf of African-American communities in the 1960s. (This, itself, isn’t even an original idea, as Capehart was simply jumping on the Establishment’s anti-Sander claims, which continue time after time to be disproved or found to be outright lies. (Here, here, here and here — in case you’d like some background reading.)

But that is not the central thesis of this story. Instead, let’s look a little more closely at Jonathan Capehart himself, and the flurry of lies and misdirections for which he is quickly becoming known.

Capehart, who currently offers his opinions to readers of the Washington Post and viewers on MSNBC, has spent the past five years in a long-term relationship with Nicholas Schmit IV, a long-term Clinton aide. Schmit has served in various capacities for the Clinton family and the US State Department under Clinton since 2004. You can see his full resume on LinkedIn, but we’ve summarized the key timeline of his career here.

2004 – 2007
Schmit graduated from The University of North Dakota in August 2004, and joined the Clinton Foundation, serving in various roles ending with Director of Finance, before leaving to work on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

2007 – 2008
Schmit worked as the Travel Compliance Director for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign, before her primary defeat by now-President, then-Senator Barack Obama.

2008 – 2013?
Schmit returned to the Clinton Foundation as a consultant, before being tapped to join the Clinton-led State Department in various capacities. His last update on LinkedIn shows him moving into the role of Assistant Chief of Protocol for Diplomatic Partnerships at the State Department in February 2013, the same month that Clinton left the State Department.

Whether the last (or any) of the promotions were based on merit or simply Clinton politics as usual is unclear, but regardless, a clear pattern has emerged.

Flash forward to now. In the middle of a heated and contentious primary season that pits the Clinton-establishment against the sweeping change and progress that Sanders promises, and which Obama promised and failed to deliver in full.

If it feels like history is repeating itself, that may be because history is repeating itself, and Clinton is running the same campaign with which lost in 2008.

Instead of taking a neutral position on the matter to help further Clinton’s policy agenda and talk about how Clinton will move the country forward, Capehart has gone out of his way, time and again, to ensure that the Clintons are presented as the only reasonable choice for the Democratic party. The idea of “politics as usual” as a bad thing is clearly lost on him.

It’s clear that Clinton is the favorite of the Democratic party establishment — despite her arguments that being a woman somehow makes her a non-establishment outsider — when 38.0% of the popular vote translates into 50% of the delegates, thanks to the magic of “party rules”. (More about that here.) So it’s not surprising that Capehart may have a preference for Clinton, and it’s not his political positions that are at issue. He is welcome to support Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Bush, or Jill Stein*, should he choose.

The real issue, it would seem, is that despite the fact that Capehart and Schmit have a history of mixing their personal and professional lives, including Capehart attending official State Department events with Schmit, and that they share a home and life together, Capehart, never saw fit to disclose this conflict of interest, despite his years of work as a journalist blogger.

Instead of admitting his mistake and moving on, Capehart has doubled-down and attacked anyone who questions his “journalistic integrity” as an opinion writer, refusing to acknowledge that his story was factually inaccurate and has already been widely disproven:

Whether there’s really any direct connection to the Clinton campaign today remains to be seen and is up for question, but it should not be forgotten that Capehart’s long-term partner has the Clinton’s to thank for his career and that, by extension, the Clinton’s have helped pay for his Washington, DC duplexAnd knowing that, doesn’t it make the whole situation just seem a little slimy and tawdry?

* Disclosure: We love Jill Stein, but understand that she lacks the name recognition to win. (See, Jonathan, that’s how disclosure works.)

Continue Reading

News

Can Mindfulness Meditation Reduce Police Brutality?

Published

on

police brutality black lives matter hands up don't shoot sign protests
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Let’s face it–America has an unfortunate history of police violence used to settle disputes. As of late, there’s been a strain amongst civilians and “The Boys in Blue” largely because of incidents of extreme brutality such as the in-transit death of Freddie Gray, Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha’s broken leg that derailed a stellar season and potential championship run, and the death of Eric Garner which further catalyzed the Black Lives Matter initiative. These incidents are not necessarily indicative behaviors of all officers of the law, but they do highlight a startling trend of over reaction and opting for physical intervention over patient analyzation and verbal reaction in non-life threatening scenarios.

With the recent trend, some people – like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who is under fire for his department’s shooting of LaQuan McDonald –have called for more oversight of our nation’s police forces, while others have called for officers to don 24/7 video cameras to hold them more accountable of their actions. Both are more direct reactions to the problem of police brutality, and I’m certain other effective channels are being explored, but one slightly more “out of box,” conceptual approach could come in the form of optional mindfulness meditation training amongst police forces.

Mindfulness meditation and its concurrent learning practices are well regarded amongst most modern psychologists, though hard evidence of meditation’s benefits have only recently begun to be recorded. That being said, the benefits of mindfulness meditation are surprisingly applicable to overwrought, stressed police officers that could benefit from some sort of emotional release in lieu of unleashing physical abuse. Some empirical benefits of mindfulness mediation include

  • Decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, along with fatigue, and anxiety.
  • Sharpens focus of attention and suppresses acceptance of distracting information.
  • Less emotional reactivity, which is likely the key contributor to the instances of police brutality. If emotional reactivity can be curbed, the possibility of non-violent resolutions would hopefully be more likely.
  • More cognitive flexibility, another support parallel that would hopefully enable officers to be able to react intelligibly and logically, before resorting to physical force.

There are countless other qualitative benefits to mindfulness mediation that could prove highly beneficial to police officers across the country while making strides toward a more compassionate and deliberate police force. Mindfulness meditation has already made its way into certain portions of the American police force, as Hillsboro (OR) Police Department began its own mindfulness-training program in 2014, and has already seen substantial growth in the mental resiliency of the department’s officers. Started by Lt. Richard Goerling, the program is focused on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which he hopes will help stifle the prevalence of cynicism amongst officers of the law.

Goerling believes that the trend of over-aggression by police is “largely driven by the suffering behind the badge,” things such as PTSD, depression, and personal ware that can negatively affect an officer’s performance on the job. Granted, mindfulness meditation training may not become the most popular method of bridling the trend of police brutality in America, but it is comforting to know that there are police forces that are receptive to the idea of a low cost, low effort method of accounting for one’s actions in order to continue to protect the greater good.

Continue Reading

Trending