The actual law: Trump Jr. and Russia

Up until this week, I have been avoiding writing about this. After Commie was fired I saw


D. Trump Jr’s Twitter profile image.

the writing on the wall. At that point, it was at least obstruction of Justice. Now we have more. Let us go over some of what we know for sure.

1. Russia attempted to interfere with the election in favor of Trump.
2. Russians contacted and offered something of value to the Trump campaign.
3. Several current Govt. officials and Former Trump campaign people have lied, under oath and in official documents, about meeting with Russian officials.
Those are facts. Proven and documented.
Now let’s go to the actual law pertaining to #2.

52 U.S. Code § 30121

(a) ProhibitionIt shall be unlawful for—

(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f) (3) of this title); or
(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

That is pretty clear.  (1.A) “contribution of … to make an express or implied to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;” Part (2) makes it clear that both the giver and receiver of the thing of value are breaking the law. Even if the current defense by Donald Trump Jr. said that the meeting was unfruitful is still enough to violate the law.

You may ask what is the definition of a “Foreign National?”  Simple part (b) of the code offers a definition.

52 U.S. Code § 30121

(b) “Foreign national” defined As used in this section, the term “foreign national” means—
(1) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or
(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of title 8) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a)(20) of title 8.

It refers to the definition in 611(b) of title 22.  Let us examine that.

22 U.S. Code § 611 – Definitions

(b) The term “foreign principal” includes—
(1) a government of a foreign country and a foreign political party;
(2) a person outside of the United States, unless it is established that such person is an individual and a citizen of and domiciled within the United States, or that such person is not an individual and is organized under or created by the laws of the United States or of any State or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and has its principal place of business within the United States; and
(3) a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country.

You can go read an exception list to this definition but it is clear.   Rob Goldstone, the British publicist, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian Lawyer, fall under the definition of “Foreign National.”

The Trump campaign including Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manaford, Jared Kushner, Rob Goldstone, and Natalia Veselnitskaya broke the law.   Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. (When I looked into running for office, I read campaign fundraising laws myself.)

There is more that we don’t know than we know at this point.  I try not to drown myself in the trickle.  This took me about an hour to put together this morning.  If someone is being paid to comment on this and says they don’t know the law and how it pertains they are not trying or are flat out lying.  Take in media from a place of knowledge, not ignorance.



Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on Healthcare

Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on Healthcare

Congratulations!  The GOP imploded and didn’t even vote on a crappy healthcare bill!  You should be so proud.  You stood your ground against something that never had a chance of passing.  I’m not sure what version of a slow clap is appropriate…. I think I’ll go with the Joker.

After you take your lap this weekend and claim a victory.  What are you going to do now?  Are you just going to line up an await the crappy tax reform bill that’s coming and watch that implode too?  Why not take this opportunity to do the unthinkable, propose legislation?

We have a president who is, yes, mad at you.  But I think he is also mad at the Republicans for failing him.  You know he wanted Paul Ryan to hold a vote so he could call out the spineless GOP members who voted against it.  He is ripe to at least listen to a healthcare alternative.  He has said that he wants affordable healthcare for every American, give him what he wants.

TrumpCare 2.0

We all know that the Democrats had a healthcare plan that you were working on for when Hillary took office. (Too soon?) I’m sure you can scrounge up a proposal and then a bill that fixes some things in Obamacare. The most important part would be the public option.  Call it a Medicare buy-in.  Everyone loves Medicare.  Heck, most of the leadership qualifies for it.

So you have a not so crazy healthcare plan with a Medicare buy-in that would be an option for rural areas with no competition.  Get the whole Democratic caucus to sponsor it.  And present it to President Trump.  If he says no the Dems have something on paper to fight the GOP with for the next 4 years.  A much better scenario than the Republicans, “Oh crap! We won and now we have to actually do the thing we said we would!”  You would have a proposal/Bill that you can run on and not just a vague thing to run against.

But then there is the possibility that Trump will support it.  Think of the overturn in power. A united Democratic front with the president to pass something good and the President’s party is the opposition to it.  Who’s the party against the American people then? You want to win back rural and blue collar voters?  Who must argue against Medicare?  What party is the party of obstruction?

There is little downside.  Worst case scenario you win a couple of news cycles before we get bogged down it tax reform.  Best case we get the public option that should have been in Obama care from the start.

I wish I had faith in the Democratic party to be bold and fight for something instead of just against the other side.  If you truly believe that everyone should have healthcare, then take actions toward it.  Please restore my faith in the Democratic party.

Thank you,

Toby Sterling

5 Complaints About Protests and Why they are Wrong

I came across another article about protests and when and what to protest.  This one was local and kind and just wanted energy focused on what can be changed.  And all I can picture is President Jed Bartlet from the TV show “West Wing” yelling at his chief of staff Leo McGarry.

“You fight the battles that you can win!”

Leo McGarry responds, “You fight the battles worth fighting for!”

Protests, broadly speaking, are a form of free speech and civil disobedience.  They are part of what this country is founded on are meant to disrupt and draw attention to a cause or an injustice.  From the temperance movement to the civil rights movement, people have attacked protesting as invalid and a waste of time.  Laws have attempted to narrow what is allowed and make punishments harsher for civil disobedience.   Yet with all the forces against the tactic, it is part of what has made this country great.

Protests and protesters are attacked for many reasons and dismissed by some for the strangest of reasons.  People try to invalidate them because they are disruptive, whiners, criminals, lazy, and, most annoyingly, paid.  Let’s talk about attacks on the validity of protesting.

1. “They are a bunch of lazy people, get a job!”

I wouldn’t need a job if I got a nickel for every time I heard that being shouted at protesters.  This is a false narrative.  There is a reason you don’t see too many protests Monday through Friday 9-5.  Because people work.  There are exceptions like a protest at a plant closing.  But most protesters have jobs, just like most Americans.

As far as being lazy?  If you think traveling, sometimes across the country, to meet up with people to march 5 miles and stand for another hour during speeches is something lazy people do… I tried to come up with some clever quip here but protesting is the least lazy response to something that happened to people you don’t know and can’t directly help.

Then you have the organizers.  These people are the most active people I know.  Setting a time and date, or an immediate response protest.  Coordinating with other activists. Getting the word out. Figuring out the logistics from transportation to speakers to locations. Then trying to control an angry crowd into some semblance of order.  It is a lot of work.

2. “I could support the protest if it didn’t block traffic or hurt businesses.”

Tell that to those who sat at white-only lunch counters, or through tea into the Boston Harbour, or to Kim Davis who refused to give out marriage licenses to gay couples.  Protests work because they disrupt people’s lives.  Protest that does not disrupt some aspect of people’s normal routine is not a protest.  Me writing about protests is not a protest.   If I went to a public square and started shouting these words I am disrupting those in that square.

Even if you think a nondisruptive protest is still a protest, it is ineffectual it’s not going to make news that a  dozen people held a sign quietly in a park.  The point of a protest is to make itself aware to those not participating.

3. “Bunch of liberal hippies.”

Oh yeah?!  There hasn’t been a fifty-year continuous protest outside abortion clinics in America.  The Tea Party was not a protest movement.  Gun right activists have never held a rally.  Do I need to go on?

4. “Paid and Professional Protesters.”

This is a relatively new one to me.  The quick answer is no, there are not thousands of protesters on retainer and/or getting paid to protest.  (That’s something the CIA has done in other countries.)

Yes, there are independent media people who get money by going to protests through donations and that is for their media. (Live streams, photos, social media updates, etc.)  There are also organizations that plan rallies and marches like the Women’s March that raise money, organize buses, provide food and water.  But not paid protesters.  Most of these organizations attempt to raise money at these events, not pay it out.

5. “Why are you protesting that when this is more urgent?”

I learned a long time ago in personal relationships never to tell someone what they should be passionate.  I have never come out ahead in those conversations.  Now extrapolate that to thousands of people in the street.  They are there because the believe they are doing the right thing.  That, in this moment, this is where they need to be to fight for what is right.  You choose what you protest.  I’ll choose what I protest.

I have learned in my time as part of the Occupy Movement is that protests by themselves are not the ends but a means to an end.  Even though Occupy hasn’t changed the world from the top it has changed conversations.  Even Republicans talk about income inequality.   Bernie’s success was boosted by the networks and tactics established during Occupy.

Lessons learned and voices heard in the protests today will lead to changes tomorrow.  The effect of protests continues long after the signs are thrown away.

Pizza Cooking the Toby Way

downloadI overslept because I didn’t set my alarm.  Work was normal.  Ran errands after work. bought a fresh pizza to cook. get home.  Take the pans stored in the oven out of it and turn it on.  put groceries away then look at instructions for pizza.

It required me to provide a pan to cook  it on.

Looks at pans, looks at size of pizza, looks at pans… it won’t fit.  Check pizza droopiness level and it’s way to high for on the rack.  Look under pizza to see what it is sitting on. A piece of cardboard smaller than the pizza…

Find the best balance between pan size and pan that that has aged not so gracefully.  Do calculations between halves leaving less burnt cheese to clean off pan and quarters being easier to get off hot pan with sides. Cut raw pizza in quarters.  Place half of pizza, 2 slices in oven. Cook.

Remove from oven.  Glad of choice of paper plates for flexibility and lack of caring about. Eat half of pizza while other half cooks.  Repeal last two steps.


Why Clinton Lost and Who to Blame

*Warning:  This may hurt enthusiastic Clinton supporters and contain strong language*

I’ve tried to tip toe around this but I cannot anymore.  I was one of those people who did not know who I was going to vote for when I entered the voting booth.  It was never going to be Trump but Hillary just did not do it for me.  In the end I voted for Hillary Clinton.  It hurt every ideological bone in my body to so.  112things-cover-280x188

That being said let me answer the second question first.

Hillary Clinton is to blame for loosing the election.

Wow that was easier than I thought.  Can we move on now? No?  Okay.  Let’s go into why.  I’ve had friends trying to ask Trump supporters why they voted for him.  I replied every time I saw this I asked why, other than Trump, did you support Clinton?

Let me go thought the arguments.

She led the fight for universal health care in the 90’s

And it’s not on her platform this time around.  go look at her website while it is still up.  It doesn’t even have a public option.  Next.

She and Bill did x during Bill’s Presidency

Really,  You want to go there?  If Hillary wants to own Bill’s presidency she has to own all of it.  NAFTA, Don’t ask Don’t tell, crime bill, the blue dress and not leaving him.  The picking and choosing that she did really hurt.  If she had owned it all it might have worked. Shrinking deficit and job growth for the win!

One person said this in response to my question.

“She makes policy decisions based on what she hears and by conferring with others.”

Oh, she has no ideology or principles that she would fight for against what the polls.  This is where I point out that sense the 90’s she has been behind on EVERY progressive/liberal/social justice position from gay marriage to trade to the environment.

When I pointed this out on Facebook to someone he said that no politician was for gay marriage 3 years ago.
1. Fuck you
2. Bernie

She is really good and inspiring in person and in small groups.

Well she didn’t except my invitation to that cocktail party so I didn’t get to meet her.  She is not running for captain of the football team.  The 99.9% of us who will never meet a nominee will not have that opportunity.

She has been attacked and belittled by the right for 12 years and is stronger for it.

I’ll give you that one.

More than anyone else has. More than any man could survive.

Okay, 2 points here that you need to hear.
1. She has been the presumptive nominee for 12 years!  The GOP would have been doing their party a disservice not to throw as much mud at her as they could.  I’m not happy about it but everyone knew she was going to be the nominee 8 years ago but Obama upset her.  That brings me to;
2. Ask that Kenyan born, Muslim, Communist, Marxist, Nazi, Terrorist that caused 9/11, Isis, the Iraq war, the housing crisis, Syria, Egypt, Iran to get the bomb, and took all the guns that is leaving office now about it.

Now the 2 things that ended my struggle in the booth.

She has the experience to do a good job


She paved the way for women and has fought for them all her life.

Hell yeah!

But what about the issues that I care about? (Not that I don’t care about ending patriarchy but I’m not a one issue voter)

Ending the war cycle.
Jailing Bankers
Getting money out of politics
End Fracking
Stopping new oil pipelines

She has been behind on EVERY issue I care about.  I want change and change for the better.  She represents a slight move backwards from Obama.

But the Supreme Court! All the progress we have made will be gone!

You sound like the evangelical right.  I am not a one issue voter and progress happens at all levels of government and in our lives.

The point of all this is I had no desire to vote for Hillary Clinton.  The turnout shows that too.   Hillary was the wrong choice for a nominate and did not do enough to inspire people to vote.

There is a bright side to all of this but that’s for another day.



Challenges of Blog Challenge

I’m a bit behind om my Blog challenges.  I have made one every day.  but the hard part for me is I get home from a job that works my brain and then it hits me I got to use my brain more.

Probably what I should do is after getting home take some time to unwind then get to blogging.  But I’m afraid that will lead me to relax and not write.  Because I’m already unwound.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I am doing this.  And I am happy with the over all quality of subjects and ideas.  I haven’t covered everything I thought I would but life has a way of influencing what topics are important in the moment. I know there are grammar and spelling errors in the mess but that’s a bit of the point.  Get it out and published.  It is not like I have ten thousand people reading these.

Here’s to another quickie blog to meet my obligations.  🙂

A Radical and Me

I sat down with an old friend yesterday.  We were never close but were both involved in the Occupy Movement.  We had some tussles on social media and decided to actually sit down and have Coffee together.  Imagine that, sitting down in person with someone.

We are both on the social justice, Black Lives Matter, Feminist, pro-LGBT rights end of the spectrum.  She is, for lack of a better term, more revolutionary than me.  Where we differ the most is how we approach changing the world for the better and deal with our beliefs in every day life.

I approach things that we need to communicate and understand those who disagree with us in order to change someone’s mind.  Those tough conversations need to happen where you confront people’s actions and words.  To end racism you have convince a racists they are wrong.

Her approach is that any bigotry is intolerable.  She will call you out on it. Stand up against social injustice to the point of loosing friendships.  Her ideals are so important to her that she will not tolerate those who do not agree with them in her life.

I admire her conviction. I wish I had more passion to do all she does.  But I am not her.  I think people like her who put their lives on the line often in the name of truth and justice are vital to any movement.  I need people to keep me honest and moving forward.

While thinking back on the conversation reminded me of a response I had to another of my Feminist friends posts.  She had posted that you should never tell a women to smile.  My insensitive comment back was about how I’ve told men and women to smile and what does that make me?  She go very mad at me and I didn’t understand.  I’ve worked sales and retail and smiling is part of the job.

What I didn’t understand is how, outside of those situations, that asking a women to smile is usually part of a cat call.  “Hey beautiful, smile for me.”  And that is, many times, the start of sexual assaults.   Now I do because she explained it to me and I took the time to really think about it.

We concluded our conversation better understanding each other. We will probably never be close but I hope we can have more conversations.  On a broader note, I think people like both of us are vital in movements.  Though as she pointed out to me “Without struggle, there can be no progress.” – Frederick Douglass