In 2017, more than a half-million human beings — 553,742 of them to be exact — were homeless in the U.S. for at least some time. Last year was the first since the 2008 financial crisis that America’s homeless population grew. The 2016 U.S. census found that 12.7 percent of Americans — which translates to just over 43 million human beings — live below the poverty line. Millions of American children live in hunger: according to a 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, the U.S. has “13.1 million households with children that often go without food: ‘food-insecure households.'”
Those horrifying statistics are just for the U.S. Extreme human deprivation and suffering is pervasive all over the planet: hundreds of millions of human beings live in unimaginable poverty. According to the 2016 comprehensive World Bank study on global inequality, “767 million people are estimated to have been living below the international poverty line of US$1.90 per person per day. Almost 11 people in every 100 in the world, or 10.7 percent of the global population, were poor by this standard.” There is an “estimated 780 million illiterate adults worldwide, nearly two-thirds are women.”
Although roughly half of the world’s poor live in sub-Saharan Africa, they are found in large numbers on every continent on the planet (see chart, right). Close to a billion people lack basic plumbing; according to the Guardian in 2015, “around the world, 946 million people still go to the toilet outside.” Millions of children all over the world, and hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S., die every year from treatable diseases due to lack of available medical care.
The World Health Organization found in July of last year that “some 3 in 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation.” If one adds in non-human animals — from abandoned, starving pets to industrial systemic cruelty toward farm animals — the amount of deprivation and poverty-caused suffering in the world is virtually endless.
Actual charities in the U.S., non-profits that provide critical services to their communities, have been plagued by extreme financial difficulties for years. In January, the Journal Sentinel, citing a new report, explained that “the financial health of the nation’s community-based organizations — or CBOs — is increasingly precarious.”
Large numbers of Americans lack the ability to secure basic legal representation even when charged with serious crimes. One major reason that the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world — both in terms of absolute numbers and proportionally — is that legal aid services have been continually slashed to the point where poor people and even those who are lower-middle-class have little chance of having competent, zealous representation, because of how overworked public defenders are.
As a result of these severe financial constraints in the legal system, citizens are often forced to plead guilty and accept prison terms because it’s their only viable option. As the Guardian wondered in 2016: “How many of the 30 defendants present for a single ‘mass plea’ hearing in Louisiana’s 16th judicial district in June would have pleaded not guilty if they’d had more than 20 seconds of legal counsel?”
In the midst of all of this need, struggle, misery and deprivation, a just-created online charity fund is enjoying massive success and an extraordinary outpouring of donations from small donors. It has become one of the most successful pages on the popular GoFundMe site: a campaign to raise money for former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe (pictured, above, next to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year). Created just 48 hours ago with the goal of raising $250,000 for McCabe’s “legal defense fund,” it has already doubled that amount — to over $500,000 — and shows no sign of slowing down, as donations continue to pour in as of publication of this article.
The funds will be used for his attorneys’ fees for various legal fights he faces. Those courtroom battles relate to a report from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General which recommended that McCabe’s be fired after its investigators found that he repeatedly and deliberately lied to the FBI about his role in various leaks. Any amounts left over from this fund will be donated to a non-profit group designated by McCabe.
The original impetus for a charity drive for McCabe seems to have come from Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis, who two weeks ago announced on Twitter that, at the age of 47, he finally got motivated by someone’s suffering to create his very first ever GoFundMe campaign: one designed to raise funds that would go to McCabe personally. Calacanis ultimately announced he was terminating the campaign and would transfer the modest funds he received to the new fund drive for McCabe’s legal defense.
That new charity campaign received a huge boost yesterday when MSNBC’s beloved-by-Democrats host Rachel Maddow tweeted a link to the new GoFundMe campaign for McCabe to her 9.4 million followers. At the time of Maddow’s tweet — which has now been re-tweeted by 4,000 people and “liked” by another 11,000 — McCabe’s fund had $100,000. Less than 24 hours after Maddow’s viral tweet, the amount quintupled to a half-million dollars.
So here’s the nation’s 14th highest-paid TV star, just behind Blake Shelton of The Voice and the stars of Grey’s Anatomy, who earns at least $7 million per year from her Comcast salary alone (i.e, beyond her book and appearance income), successfully encouraging small donors who follow and watch her to charitably donate their money to a rich federal police officer who is married to a doctor and who lives in an extremely expensive home in the the richest county of the world’s wealthiest nation.
The next time you’re feeling pessimistic about the nature of humanity, just reflect on this touching act of compassion and empathy for the needy. By the way, the now-closed GoFundMe campaign for the family of Stephon Clark — the 22-year-old father of two young children who, while he was unarmed after he ran to his grandmother’s backyard, was gunned down by Sacramento Police with seven bullets in his back, while he took 10 minutes to die as the police officers who shot him did not call for medical help — generated $83,000 in donations, or 1/7 of what has been raised (thus far) for McCabe.
So who exactly is the recipient of this extraordinary public charity? McCabe has spent his career working at the FBI. He began working on organized crime investigations but switched to “counterterrorism” work as part of the 17-year-old U.S. “War on Terror.” He rose to the position of Deputy Director of the FBI under Jim Comey, where he worked on both the investigation into election-related hacking as well as the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton for her private email server. It was in connection with those investigations that he was accused by the Inspector General of leaking secret information to the media and then lying about it to FBI officials.
By all metrics, McCabe and his family are financially secure; a more accurate term for them would be “quite wealthy.” As Splinter’s Paul Blest documented — in an article accurately entitled “Andrew McCabe Does Not Need Your Money” — his “average salary between 2015 and 2017, when he was in the senior leadership of the FBI, was over $157,000.” That income figure for McCabe does not count the income earned by McCabe’s wife, who is a highly accomplished medical doctor with multiple sources of income.
McCabe’s FBI salary alone put his family in the top 4-5 percentile of income for all Americans. An analysis by FactCheck.org of financial disclosures forms he filed found that, beyond that salary, “McCabe has several mutual fund accounts, including 529 college savings accounts and a 401K retirement fund, with the total value of those investment accounts ranging from $287,000 to $880,000.” While his firing significantly reduced the value of his pension (which would have been $1.8 million had he retired as scheduled: $60,000 per year until the 50-year-old McCabe died), he still will receive some pension benefits.
According to public property records, the McCabes purchased their Northern Virginia home in 2006 for a price of $715,000, which means it’s worth far more than that now, as real state prices in that region have skyrocketed. Indeed, the McCabes’ home almost doubled in value from 2003, when it was sold to the prior owners, to 2006, when the McCabes purchased it. The expensive house in which the McCabes reside is located in Loudoun County, which, according to the latest Census Bureau report, is the single richest county in the entire United States.
And this is all independent of the massive private-sector wealth that is almost certainly making its way to McCabe as you read these words. Given the massive pre-publication success and anticipated blockbuster status of the forthcoming book by Jim Comey (just by the way, for other MSNBC hosts who may be considering promoting a GoFundMe campaign for Comey: he’s worth $11 million and received a $3 million payout from a hedge fund when he was confirmed as FBI Director), it is a virtual certainty that publishing houses will be competing to pay a hefty advance to McCabe for a tell-all book of his own, particularly given news that he kept notes on his conversations with President Trump. A cable news contract also seems likely given how many U.S. security state officials are hired by MSNBC and CNN.
Beyond the current and future wealth of the McCabe family, what makes this outpouring of charity for him so noxious is the work he’s spent his adult life doing. For many years, McCabe has gone to work every day in a building that actually — and appropriately — bears the name of J. Edgar Hoover.
The recipient of this GoFundMe campaign spent much of the last two decades as a senior official of an agency that has long been aggressively entrapping young and mentally unstable Muslims, got caught repeatedly and systematically breaking the law in spying on Americans, has been “using race and ethnicity in conducting assessments and investigations,” spied on Muslim-American political leaders and scholars, and secretly maintained a mass surveillance program with “more than 1.5 billion government and private-sector records about citizens and foreigners, the documents show, bringing the government closer than ever to implementing the ‘Total Information Awareness’ system first dreamed up by the Pentagon in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks.” Just a few months ago, the agency McCabe helped run got caught creating a special program to target black and Muslim activists in the U.S.
In one sense, this is just the latest chapter in the bizarre and infinitely ironic spectacle of Democrats venerating security state agencies such as the CIA, NSA and FBI under the banner of “resistance.” Canonizing law enforcement agents and intelligence operatives most definitely makes this history’s strangest rendition of “resistance,” a term that — until Democrats after 2016 desperately needed a re-branding campaign — had been reserved for dissidents who bravely risked imprisonment and even death fighting to subvert, not sanctify, state security agencies that perform those functions.
But a charity campaign fueled by a multi-millionaire cable news host, for the benefit of a rich federal police official, is not just bizarre but obscene. If one wants to protest the tragic plight of Andrew McCabe, there are many ways to do that aside from encouraging people to donate money to his legal battles.
For anyone who works with people who are actually suffering and deprived, or who falls into the huge category of humans who experience that suffering and deprivation, or who lacks legal representation because of poverty, or who has been victimized by the FBI’s abuses and lawlessness, watching this public campaign direct a tidal wave of money to someone like McCabe is really nothing short of nauseating.