Nov 16, 2016 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 158


Topics: An interview with Virginia/Scotland socialist organizer Emily Robinson (@see_em_play). Produced: Nov 13th, 2016.

Episode 158 (49 min):
AFD 158

Discussion Points:

– Dissecting the disaster of the 2016 election and what to do next.
– What was the campaign like in Virginia this year?
– Should you join Democratic Socialists of America?
– What is Scottish Labour Young Socialists working on?


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

The unbearable wifeness of being Mrs McDonnell

Bob-McDonnell-by-Gage_SkidmoreAh, Bob McDonnell, the once and former future Vice President of These United States. Now a retired Governor of Virginia and (as of today) 11-times-over Federal convict. His wife was also convicted soundly on similar charges.

You may recall past highlights from his corruption trial proceedings included refusing to take an amazing plea deal that would have spared his wife altogether from joining him in 14-indictment hell:

The Feds were even willing to offer an extremely generous — perhaps overly so — deal to former Gov. McDonnell that would have protected his wife entirely, even though she seems to have orchestrated much of the corruption and solicitations. All he had to do was plead guilty to one felony count and serve time (probably very little considering who he is). Yet he said no.

And so down she went with him. But, we were told, it was all part of a cunning plan! This marriage needed to look so awful (for the jury) that refusing to spare her the investigation was just the final step.

Ah Bobby McDonnell, your masterful and foolproof “my wife is so horrible and I hate her and she was only taking bribes because she was in love with the briber” defense strategy worked like … whatever the opposite of “a charm” is. Just how low did you go in an effort to slime her for your own failed exculpation? Let us consult the New York Times:

Mr. McDonnell, who carried his wife over the threshold of the Executive Mansion the day of his inauguration, portrayed her in his testimony as a harridan whose yelling left him “spiritually and mentally exhausted,” and who was so cold that after he sent her an email pleading to save their marriage, she did not reply.

BOBBY. FOR SHAME. You made the New York Times editors break out the word “harridan.” They probably nearly asphyxiated from the dust of opening their expanded-volume dictionary just to find that word which could so perfectly summarize your cold-hearted view of your longtime wife and the mother of your five children.

BOBBY, I HAD TO LOOK THAT WORD UP JUST TO READ ABOUT YOUR DEFENSE. That is how mean you were to your wife.

And how, pray tell, did you brace yourself for your multitudinous convictions, good sir?

Leaving the courthouse at midday Tuesday once the jury began deliberations, Mr. McDonnell said the past 18 months had been tough on his family, but he said he drew strength from his 38 years of marriage and the five children he shared with his wife. “I think we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.”

And the shackles of their love will only grow in strength, no doubt, while they are both shackled in respective Federal prisons. Being apart from an unloving, backstabbing, corrupt spouse can only make the heart grow fonder. That’s in Proverbs.

AFD 71 – Return to No-Ethics Land

Latest Episode:
“AFD 71 – Return to No-Ethics Land”

Half Episode due to UD Athletics: An update on the ethics scandal discussion in Ep 50. Michael from Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report talks about the latest Fox News ignorance. Tunisia gets a new constitution.

Related Links

– ThinkProgress:”Former Virginia Governor and Wife Indicted on 14 Felony Counts Over Gifts Scandal
– TPM: “The Eight Juiciest Revelations From The Bob McDonnell Indictment
– Washington Post: “McDonnell rejected plea offer to face one felony, spare wife any charges, avoid trial
– Media Matters: “Fox’s Bolling: “I Don’t Think There’s Racism,” Because We Have A Black President And Black Entertainment Channels
– Media Matters: “Fox’s Eric Bolling’s Race Problem
– BBC: “Tunisia’s NCA Agrees to New Constitution
– Foreign Policy: “Egypt’s Women Fight Back

1 felony count, ahahah, 2 felony counts, ahahah …

Bob-McDonnell-by-Gage_SkidmoreLess than two weeks after turning over the keys to the governor’s mansion, Republican former Virginia Governor and presidential once-hopeful Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted by a Federal grand jury on 14 felony counts.

They somehow managed to run afoul of the (Federal) law, despite their own state’s virtually non-existent ethics laws. Their crimes generally all relate to a scandal involving accepting — or rather actively soliciting — huge gifts from a political donor so the McDonnells could continue living the high life even after their investment portfolio collapsed.

They hadn’t even taken office before the shenanigans began (despite repeated warnings from staffers), and they likely wouldn’t have even gotten charged with anything if they had just disclosed it, but they knew it was too politically damaging to admit.

So, charged they were — and how.

…former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and his wife Maureen were indicted on 14 felony charges on Tuesday. The indictments centered around tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts received by the couple from a wealthy tobacco executive.

In what Republican state legislator Bob Marshall called the “type of activity” that “undermines public confidence,” McDonnell and his family allegedly accepted more than $135,000 in gifts and/or loans from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the then-CEO of Star Scientific Inc. The McDonnells then helped promote the scientifically-unproven dietary supplements line made by thecontroversial tobacco company-turned-supplements manufacturer. While Virginia’s lax gifts law allows elected officials to accept unlimited gifts — even from lobbyists and those with business before the state — McDonnell apparently failed to fully disclose what he and his wife received.

The gifts included a silver Rolex watch, golf clubs, Louis Vitton shoes, and $15,000 to help pay for the McDonnells’ daughter’s wedding. According to the indictment, the former governor and his wife conspired to commit wire fraud to accept bribes, knowingly made false statements on loan applications to avoid reporting the Williams loans, and obstructed justice.

Great job to the Washington Post for pushing relentlessly to expose this story. And now — since this is one of those scandals that probably didn’t really truly hurt anyone — the fun begins, particularly because Bob McDonnell was not well liked by much of the nation for his (and his party’s legislative members’) support for aggressive counter-abortion laws, such as the proposed mandatory, highly invasive early ultrasound.

From the trolling Brits on the other side of the Atlantic — who had their own major gifts/expenses scandal a few years ago, involving many members of parliament — comes this delightful take (The Guardian):

This Oscar de la Renta dress costs $12,590, which is just a fraction of the $140,805.46 in luxury gifts federal authorities say former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, took from a wealthy businessman.

We tried to online shop our way to the $140,000 mark, but we fell short.


We also learned all kinds of crazy (alleged) things about the McDonnells in the text of the indictment. Top line version below, details within:

1. It All Started With An Inauguration Dress
2. The McDonnells Were Deeply In Debt
3. Bob McDonnell Allegedly Knew About The First Big Loan From Williams
4. But Some Of Williams’ Help May Have Come As A Surprise
5. Bob McDonnell Asked For $20,000 Via A Text Message
6. People Discussed Using [State] Employees As Dietary [Supplement] Guinea Pigs
7. Bob McDonnell Told Virginia Officials That He Took Anatabloc
8. Maureen McDonnell Allegedly Lied To Law Enforcement


The Feds were even willing to offer an extremely generous — perhaps overly so — deal to former Gov. McDonnell that would have protected his wife entirely, even though she seems to have orchestrated much of the corruption and solicitations. All he had to do was plead guilty to one felony count and serve time (probably very little considering who he is). Yet he said no.

All I know is this:
I love it when a Virginia Republican scandal comes together.

Oh, and a word to the wise for successor Governor Terry McAuliffe: Given your own shady ethics, don’t forget to declare the gift you received from the McDonnells when they left.


For our initial coverage of the scandal in July 2013, listen to AFD Episode 50 – Ethics, Efficacy, Insurance.

Virginia forges ahead on settling East Asia dispute

I’m still not sure what or who brought it up in the first place, but, having apparently solved all other pressing policy matters in the state, Virginia’s elected officials have in recent years begun debating whether or not public school textbooks in the state should refer to the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula as the “Sea of Japan” or the “East Sea” or both.

Below is the CIA World Factbook map of the area, which represents the official label of the United States government and military:

The South Korean government believes the name “Sea of Japan” is an offensive remnant of Japanese imperialism, including the period in which they brutally occupied the Korean peninsula (thus holding the territory on both sides of the sea). They want people to call it “East Sea” (their northern counterparts say “East Sea of Korea” but no one listens to them), though they are willing to compromise and call it both.

And for some reason, a lot of state officials in Virginia seem quite persuaded that this South Korean view is the right position. This is happening, despite, as far as I can tell, it having nothing to do with anything, from Virginia’s standpoint.

So Virginia would be going against the view of the U.S. government (rather inexplicably) and against the recently renewed directives of the International Hydrographic Organization, the official international body that decides what to name bodies of water — though, to be fair, the latter was originally set when Korea was occupied and could not challenge it.

Not only have their been multiple bills proposed on the issue over the past few years, but after a single-issue pressure group was formed in early 2013, the candidates for governor last year had to address the issue on the campaign trail. Here’s an example of the coverage this got in Korean media:

“The body of water known, alternately, as the East Sea or the Sea of Japan, should be properly labeled with both names,” McAuliffe told reporters after a meeting with the Voice of Korean Americans (VoKA). VoKA was launched in January to promote the use of “the East Sea.”

McAuliffe’s Republican rival, Ken Cuccinelli, also sent a letter to the VoKA last month.

“I give my full support to the use of the dual name of the East Sea/Sea of Japan in Virginia’s school test books,” said the attorney general of the state. “I understand the concerns of our Korean American community and the importance of this issue.”


Yes, that’s right, both candidates took the time to endorse a position (the same one, even!) in this issue, which has no substantive impact on anything in Virginia.

With McAuliffe now in office — though it would not, I guess, have made any difference on this particular issue — the very-non-Korean legislators are forging ahead on their proposed law for using both names in the textbooks. This in turn has brought upset Japanese government lobbyists down from Washington D.C. to Richmond to advocate against the change (without much success so far).

Here’s a legislative update from South Korean-based Arirang TV:

To my mind, Virginia’s obsession with this “issue” defies virtually every “law” of American political science.

It doesn’t affect voters, there’s probably not a lot to be gained from it, and it wouldn’t seem like something either voters or legislators would care about — yet somehow they keep bringing it up in session and on the campaign trail.

Where will it end? Is it just a weirdly minute way to stick it to the United States government and assert Tenth Amendment rights? Interestingly, the naval base in Virginia would, of course, still be using the U.S. military’s labeling, even as schoolchildren learned a different labeling.

In any case, I don’t really have an opinion on this issue one way or the other. I just find the fixation in Virginia a bit intriguing and odd.

AFD Ep 50 – Ethics, Efficacy, Insurance

Latest Episode:
“AFD Ep 50 – Ethics, Efficacy, Insurance”
Posted: Tues, 23 July 2013

Bill and guest co-host Sarah discuss Virginia ethics scandals, Alan Grayson’s effectiveness, John Boehner’s ineffectiveness, Indiana’s insurance rates, and Arizona’s expansion of Medicaid.