Eric Swalwells Campaign Ad Is So Cringeworthy He Might Be a Genius

By CCN: Rep. Eric Swalwell, the Democratic presidential nominee you’ve probably never heard of, recently released a campaign video weird enough to make your junior high self cringe.

The representative from California announced his intent to run for president in April and has gained some recent notoriety as one of only two candidates to accept cryptocurrency donations. (If you’re curious, Andrew Yang is the other.)

Before heading off on the campaign trail, though, Swalwell first needs to find a (much) better marketing team. His primary campaign video has almost five times as many dislikes as likes on YouTube, and his most recent video…well, take a look for yourself.

I want to root for Swalwell, I really do. He’s a blockchain advocate, so seeing him in the White House would be great in that regard. His amateurish video, though, leaves me wondering whether or not he actually knows what he’s talking about.

Let’s try to break down every spot where Swalwell went wrong.

Swalwell Comes Off as Technologically Illiterate

The video opens with Swalwell in front of what appears to be a green screen crudely photoshopped into an animated iPhone. To make matters worse, it’s an older generation phone. If Swalwell wants us to believe he’s as forward-thinking as he claims, you think he would have at least upgraded to an iPhone X.

Additionally, the remaining parts of the video are reminiscent of 2017’s sketchy initial coin offering (ICO) boom. It features poorly drawn animations that flash buzzword after buzzword without providing any real substance. For example, Swalwell states in the video,

“We must test, retest, and constantly monitor such [blockchain] systems for interference or abuses by using expert oversight.”

What does that mean, exactly? Your guess is as good as mine.

He Really Wants You to Know He’s Running for President

The video has a non-stop, animated ticker shouting, “ERIC SWALWELL FOR PRESIDENT 2020” on the top and bottom of the frame anytime Swalwell is on the screen. And in case that Myspace-era eyesore isn’t blatant enough, the video also includes a gigantic White House/flag combo that slaps you in the face with good ol’ fashioned American symbolism.

eric swalwell for president, democratic primaryeric swalwell for president, democratic primary

Don’t forget to pick up your #SWALWELLING swag. | Source: Eric Swalwell Campaign Website

The Video Quality Is Plain Awful

The entire video looks as if a high school film student created it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Swalwell later admits to working with the first “expert video producer” that happened to reach out to him on LinkedIn. The whole video is mediocre at best and an absolute dumpster fire at its worst.

LinkedIn Video Producer example for Eric SwalwellLinkedIn Video Producer example for Eric Swalwell

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s video producer, probably.

Unfortunately, the production isn’t even the most upsetting aspect. Numerous times throughout the video, you can catch Swalwell blatantly reading off a script that he’s conveniently placed right below eye level. This lack of professionalism does not bode well for his potential work ethic once president.

Eric Swalwell Democratic Presidential CandidateEric Swalwell Democratic Presidential Candidate

The camera is up here, Representative Swalwell. | Source: YouTube

Eric Swalwell – Lazy Fool or Marketing Genius?

This campaign video is so poorly done, it almost seems intentional. It’s challenging to release something this terrible without any self-awareness. That can’t be the case here, can it? Maybe Swalwell is up to something.

If Swalwell’s mission was to make a video so awful that it would go viral, the man has my vote. But honestly, I’m probably giving him too much credit. Either way, we at least get another laugh out of the clown show that American politics has become.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Dark-Horse Trump Rival Pumps Crypto, Aims to Make US a Bitcoin Nation

By CCN: Far from a first, California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell is accepting Bitcoin donations for his dark-horse bid to knock off Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. More significantly, the bombastic congressman wants to usher in a blockchain revolution after he vanquishes Trump from the White House.

Altogether, Swallwell is accepting six cryptocurrencies. Two of the six are odd choices. One of them is the White Standard, a stablecoin we hadn’t previously heard of which reports $0 in USD reserves. The White Company runs his crypto campaign contribution site, which probably explains that decision. The other is Bitcoin SV, the embattled project of Craig S. Wright, who insists he is Satoshi Nakamoto despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

The rest of the options are pretty standard: Stellar, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ether.

Eric Swalwell: Pro-Blockchain, Anti-Gun

Swalwell reportedly has gun control at the heart of his presidential ambitions, but blockchain adoption features prominently as well.

Swalwell says:

“Blockchain can change the world if we let it. […] Our nation pioneered the Internet. We use smartphones all day every day to move money, to buy goods and services, to share our innermost thoughts, and participate in public life. So it’s pure cognitive dissonance to believe that we cannot extend this further into our democracy and our economy.”

Andrew Yang is also accepting crypto donations. Both Yang and Swalwell are long-shot candidates to even get in the race against Donald Trump, with favorites like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders leading the democratic polls.

Second Democrat to Accept Crypto This Season

Andrew Yang, Bitcoin, CryptocurrencyAndrew Yang, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency

Andrew Yang, another dark-horse Democratic Trump challenger, has also catered to the admittedly-small “Bitcoin vote.” | Source: Shutterstock

While Eric Swalwell offers broad “support” for blockchain technology, Yang has released an entire policy platform based on the idea that crypto will reinvigorate the US economy. Yang is also a proponent of a universal basic income.

Swalwell will not accept “corporate PAC” money, a campaign tactic that elevated fellow Democrat Alexandria Occasio-Cortez to quick stardom and constant criticism.

For several years, politicians have capitalized on the crypto sector’s desire to have a well-regulated and established crypto economy in the United States, with little improvement in the regulatory environment. Our crypto regulations are so bad that Jeremy Allaire recently blamed them, in part, for the firing of thirty employees at Circle.

Trump Has Done Nothing for Crypto Users

donald trump, bitcoindonald trump, bitcoin

Trump’s presidency has done little to improve the regulatory predicament that ensares US crypto firms. | Source: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

The bipolar nature of the federal government’s reaction to cryptocurrency has allowed other countries, like France and Malta, to take charge and become a home for major crypto companies. One day we hear of the Token Taxonomy Act‘s reintroduction; another day, we hear a senior Democrat talking about banning all cryptocurrencies.

It’s worth noting that experts believe a summary ban on cryptos and crypto-trading would give rise to an extreme price bump for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Demand would increase, in part because of reduced financial freedom.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Donald Trump‘s presidency has done next-to-nothing for the crypto economy. Running on a pro-blockchain platform may be a useful means for Democrats to attract otherwise conservative votes, but it’s doubtful that the demographic as a whole is large enough to sway the vote.

Dow Collapse Hits Crushing Level as Bond Yields Ignite Investor Panic

By CCN: The Dow and broader U.S. stock market extended their slide on Thursday, as investors cut ties with riskier assets and piled into the perceived safety of Treasurys after an emboldened China called out the United States for its apparent transgressions on free trade.

Dow Plummets; S&P 500, Nasdaq Follow

All of Wall Street’s major indexes headed for big losses on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track for its fifth straight weekly decline. The blue-chip index declined by as much as 446 points, mirroring a volatile pre-market for U.S. stock futures.

The Dow pared some of its losses and was last down 429.35 points, or 1.7%, at 25,347.26.

Dow Jones Industrial AverageDow Jones Industrial Average

Dow Jones Industrial Average faces crippling losses on Thursday and is on track for its fifth consecutive weekly loss. | Source: Yahoo Finance.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 1.7% to 2,807.34. Nine of 11 primary sectors traded lower, with energy stocks plunging 3.7%. The commodity-sensitive sector was driven lower by another massive drop in oil prices that was stoked by rising U.S. inventories and the threat of a prolonged trade war.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures plunged more than 5% on Thursday and were on track for their worst day in six months.

Other sectors to report significant losses included financials, industrials, and information technology.

Plunging technology shares weighed on the Nasdaq Composite Index, which fell 2.1% to reach 7,592.06.

U.S. Treasury Yields Plummet

S&P 500, DowS&P 500, Dow

Investors push the panic button amid the latest bout of U.S.-China trade hostilities. | Source: Shutterstock.

U.S. Treasury yields declined sharply on Thursday as investors fled riskier assets following the latest flare-up between Washington and Beijing. On Thursday, a Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson told CNBC that the United States should “adjusts its wrong actions” if it wants Beijing to return to the negotiating table.

Trade talks between the two superpowers broke down earlier this month after Beijing reportedly backtracked on a deal. This prompted President Trump to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. China responded with additional duties on some $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell to 2.296%, which was the lowest since late 2017. With the decline, the yield on the 10-year note has returned below the yield on the three-month Treasury bill. For investors, this is a warning sign that economic headwinds and even a recession are looming.

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) price chart.

NOAA Forecasts ‘Near-Normal’ Hurricane Season For Atlantic, ‘Above-Normal’ For Pacific

Federal scientists are predicting a “near-normal” hurricane season in the Atlantic and “above-normal” cyclone activity in the central Pacific.

The forecasts come on the heels of a destructive 2018 season. In September, slow-moving Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina and dumped as much as 35 inches of rain in some areas, causing devastating flooding. The following month, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle as one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. in decades. 

“At one point last year, four named storms were active simultaneously,” Wilbur Ross, secretary of the Department of Commerce, said at a news conference Thursday in Washington. “Like Hamlet’s slings of arrows of outrageous fortune, the storms that impacted the U.S. in 2018 caused $50 billion in damages.”

The 2019 Atlantic outlook estimates a 40 percent chance of an average season, with the development of nine to 15 named tropical storms. Four to eight of those storms, the agency predicted, will become hurricanes. And two to four will become major hurricanes — that is, Category 3 or higher.

The outlook includes all activity in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. It does not forecast how many storms might make landfall. 

“The key message is we’re expecting a normal season, but regardless that’s a lot of activity,” Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said Thursday. “You need to start getting prepared for the hurricane season now.”

Hurricane Florence moves toward the coast of the southeastern United States in September 2018.

Hurricane Florence moves toward the coast of the southeastern United States in September 2018.

 The Atlantic forecast reflects what Neil Jacobs, NOAA’s acting administrator, described as “competing signals.”

“On one hand, the ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress activity in the Atlantic,” Jacobs said Thursday. “On the other hand, a combination of warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, combined with a west African monsoon, favors increased activity.”

The Atlantic forecast comes a day after NOAA officials announced a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season in the central Pacific, driven by warm ocean temperatures and weak protective wind shear. Five to eight tropical cyclones are expected to develop there. 

The official hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. But the season got an early start this year when Subtropical Storm Andrea formed earlier this week south of Bermuda. 

The scientific community — including experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — has long warned that anthropogenic climate change influences extreme weather events. The 2015 National Climate Assessment concluded that “hurricane intensity and rainfall are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.” Rainfall rates near the center of hurricanes are expected to increase by an average of 20 percent by the end of the century, according to the report.

This story has been updated with more detail from last year and a quote from Ross.

Steven Mnuchin Faces Dem Fury For Lucrative Role In Sears Downfall

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose role is foster economic growth and job creation, did the opposite as a Sears board member, profiting from the once-mighty retailer’s downfall and costing thousands of workers their jobs, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) say.

Warren and Ocasio-Cortez tore into Mnuchin Thursday in a three-minute video posted on Twitter, along with college roommate Eddie Lampert, who became CEO of Sears after his hedge fund bought the company and merged it with Kmart. The lawmakers accused the two billionaires of plundering Sears for their own personal gains.

“Washington is supposed to work for everyone. Instead, the rich & powerful like @StevenMnuchin1 & Eddie Lampert use it to become even more rich & powerful, while workers are left holding the bag. This is the DC swamp at its worst,” Warren tweeted.

In a five-page letter, the lawmakers asked Mnuchin to provide information about his role as a Sears board member and about the Treasury Department’s continued involvement with Sears.

What was left of the hollowed-out company called Sears Holdings Corp. filed for bankruptcy in October. Last month, Sears Holdings sued Lampert, his hedge fund ESL Investments, Mnuchin and other major shareholders, alleging they stripped Sears of billions in assets for themselves, beyond the reach of creditors, before the bankruptcy.

Lampert and his hedge fund denied wrongdoing. Mnuchin, who quit the Sears board when President Donald Trump picked him as treasury secretary, didn’t comment.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about accusations raised by Warren and Ocasio-Cortez.

“We are deeply concerned by the financial engineering and potentially illegal activity that took place at Sears Holding Corporation while you served on the company’s board,” Warren and Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the letter to Mnuchin. “In addition, we are concerned that, as Treasury Secretary, you are in position to take actions that benefit Sears’ shareholders and owners at the expense of workers and taxpayers.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Sears Holdings Corp. over his

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Sears Holdings Corp. over his past role as a Sears board member.

The lawmakers say Lampert sucked about $6 billion in assets from Sears while closing stores and firing more than a quarter-million workers. He sold Sears real estate to himself and rented the property back to Sears at prices he set. In February, he purchased some of Sears’ most valuable remaining assets, including DieHard and Kenmore brands, in a bankruptcy auction.

Sears Holdings Corp. in April sued its former chairman and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert, accusing the billionaire stripp

Sears Holdings Corp. in April sued its former chairman and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert, accusing the billionaire stripped the once iconic company of more than $2 billion in assets.

The Sears Holdings lawsuit says the financial schemes led to the company’s downfall. “Sears would have had billions of dollars more to pay its third-party creditors today and would not have endured the amount of disruption, expense, and job losses resulting from its recent bankruptcy filing,” the suit says. 

This Island ‘Unspoilt Paradise Is Littered With 400 Million Pieces Of Plastic

Australia’s Cocos Islands advertises itself as the country’s “last unspoilt paradise,” but a grim new study reveals the dirty truth about the remote archipelago ― and how the global marine plastic pollution crisis may be far worse than feared.  

The study, published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, estimated 414 million pieces of plastic debris weighing some 524,000 pounds are polluting the islands, an external territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean.

Single-use plastic items like straws and plastic bags made up at least 25% of the debris, according to the researchers, who surveyed more than two dozen beaches across seven of the archipelago’s 27 islands in 2017. A staggering 373,000 toothbrushes and 977,000 shoes like plastic flip-flops also were discovered.

Researchers said they found an estimated 414 million pieces of plastic debris on the Cocos Islands.

Researchers said they found an estimated 414 million pieces of plastic debris on the Cocos Islands.

The Cocos Islands are home to about 600 people. It would have taken inhabitants an estimated 4,000 years to produce an equivalent amount of trash, the study said.

“They did not create this problem, and they cannot undo it on their own,” the study’s author Jennifer Lavers told The Washington Post

Lavers, whose team previously surveyed the uninhabited and massively polluted Pacific island of Henderson, said remote islands with small or no human populations can provide a clear picture of just how much plastic debris is clogging the world’s oceans. Henderson Island, located about 3,000 miles from any major population center, was found to have the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world.

“Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine and it’s increasingly urgent that we act on the warnings they are giving us,” Lavers said in a statement last week. “Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe.”

Troublingly, Lavers said her research on the Cocos Islands suggests this volume may be a lot higher than we think.

A vast majority ― 93% ― of the plastic debris found on the islands was buried in the top four inches of sand and not on the surface. 

“This suggests global debris surveys, the majority of which are focused solely on surface debris, have drastically underestimated the scale of debris accumulation,” the researchers said. 

They also noted that microplastics made up about 50% of the waste collected from the surface and about 60% of the debris that was buried.

Jennifer Lavers pictured with plastic trash on the Cocos Islands.

Jennifer Lavers pictured with plastic trash on the Cocos Islands.

Researchers estimated that the amount of debris visible on the beach surface on the Cocos Islands was outnumbered 26-1 by the debris buried underneath. 

This suggests that the already-staggering amount of plastic waste found during beach cleanups ― like the 1.7 million food wrappers and 750,000 plastic bags picked up during Ocean Conservancy’s international coastal cleanup event in 2018 ― is “likely just the tip of the iceberg,” Lavers told the Post. “None of those cleanups are digging below the surface.” 

Even her team, she said, likely didn’t uncover the full extent of the plastic pollution on the Cocos Islands during their survey. 

The researchers weren’t able to access two known “debris hot spots” in the archipelago and they didn’t dig very deep into the sand, Lavers said.

“The numbers I put forth . . . are undoubtedly underestimates of the true extent of the problem,” she told the Post.

No Collusion. No Obstruction. No Tantrum? Trump Fires Back Amid Feud With Pelosi

President Donald Trump continued to trade barbs with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) late Wednesday, saying that despite reports he walked out on a meeting with the lawmaker, he in no way had a “temper tantrum.”

Trump’s tweets were posted after a whirlwind of press conferences and media releases following the failed meeting, which was meant to hash out a bipartisan infrastructure plan.

Earlier in the day, Pelosi had declared that Trump was “engaged in a cover up” following the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election. Since then, Trump and his allies have been dodging congressional subpoenas and filing lawsuits en masse to block the release of the president’s financial information, at times flouting the law.

Then, shortly after Trump ended the three-minute meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the president spoke with reporters gathered in the Rose Garden and lambasted the pair, demanding Democrats “get these phony investigations over with,” referring to a spate of probes into Trump’s behavior and finances.

“Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover-up,” Trump said in the Rose Garden on Wednesday. “I don’t do cover-ups.”

“I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi: ’I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at that, that’s what I do. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances.”

Later Wednesday, Pelosi issued a bristling letter of her own, telling her Congressional colleagues that the president “had a temper tantrum for us all to see.”

“Sadly, the only job the president seems to be concerned with is his own,” Pelosi wrote. “He threatened to stop working with Democrats on all legislation unless we end oversight of his administration.“

Senate Confirms Judge Who Fought Marriage Equality, Defended Torture

The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Howard Nielson to be a lifetime federal judge, despite opposition from Democrats over his long record of fighting marriage equality and for writing a legal memo that justified torturing civilians.

The Senate voted 51-47 to confirm Nielson, 51, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Every Democrat present opposed him. Every Republican present but one, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), voted for him. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) did not vote.

Nielson, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Cooper & Kirk and a former deputy assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, sparked controversy in 2010 during his defense of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. At the time, the state’s governor and attorney general refused to defend Prop 8, so the official sponsors of the ballot initiative hired Nielson’s firm to do it. The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 2013 effectively overturned the ban.

In that case, Nielson argued that sexual orientation is a choice and disputed the evidence that discrimination against LGBTQ people leads to higher rates of depression and suicide.

When a U.S. district court ruled that Prop 8 violated the Constitution, Nielson said the judge should have recused himself because he was gay and therefore unable to be fair. He filed a motion saying the judge “had a duty to disclose not only the facts concerning his [same-sex] relationship, but also his marriage intentions.” His motion was denied.

Nielson argued against marriage equality again in a 2015 amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. He argued that marriage has a defining purpose “to increase the likelihood that children will be born and raised in stable and enduring family units by both the mothers and the fathers who brought them into this world.” The Supreme Court rejected that argument.

Remember when President Donald Trump said he supported LGBTQ rights? LOL.

Remember when President Donald Trump said he supported LGBTQ rights? LOL.

On a separate matter, when he worked for the Bush administration, Nielson wrote a 2005 memo that has been criticized as justifying torture. He has also defended a former Justice Department colleague who signed off on three controversial and now-rescinded memos authorizing the CIA’s use of torture.

More than 50 House Democrats wrote to Senate leaders urging them to oppose Nielson’s confirmation, and civil rights groups had lined up against him too. 

By confirming Nielson, the Senate just pushed through another extreme lifetime nominee who will not be fair-minded or impartial, said Kristine Lucius of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national groups.

“Nielson’s reprehensible arguments against LGBTQ equality ― including asking to vacate a judgment because the judge was gay ― are particularly alarming,”  Lucius said. ”His record demonstrates clear bias, and his confirmation is an affront to the civil and human rights community.”