Saturday, June 25, 2016

Follow-up to Cleveland Ban on Free Speech

A federal judge on Thursday scrapped the city of Cleveland's plans for a heightened-security zone that would have encompassed most of downtown during the Republican National Convention, saying that the restrictions are burdensome to people who want to express their free-speech rights.


- The judge said the times at which people can hold parades, which is only for a few hours each day of the convention and not during the hours in which the delegates are expected to be downtown, are problematic.


- He said the size of the event zone, is "unduly large."


- He said the parade route is unconstitutionally insufficient.


The city indicated it would appeal the judge's order, but the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which brought the lawsuit, said the organization's attorneys are now negotiating at the judge's behest to come up with a compromise because of the short timeframe.


The city maintained its previous assertion that the event zone it created was to ensure security for people coming downtown. Hastings said that the convention is an "ideal target for international and domestic terrorists" and that despite that, the restrictions it had sought to impose were among the least stringent of any recent political convention.


The judge seemed skeptical on how allowing a march downtown or allowing demonstrators to use several city parks poses a security concern.


Gwin also questioned the inability for those who want to hold parades on other streets, such as Carnegie Avenue, and how delegates would be able to see the protesters on the bridge.
Yeah, I think that was the point.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Nothing to Hide

An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met.

The fuller details of those meetings were included in files the State Department turned over to the AP after it sued the government in federal court.


In one key omission, Clinton's State Department calendar dropped the identities of a dozen major Wall Street and business leaders who met with her during a private breakfast discussion at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2009, The meeting occurred minutes before Clinton appeared in public at the exchange to ring the market's ceremonial opening bell.


The AP first sought Clinton's calendar and schedules from the State Department in August 2013, but the agency would not acknowledge even that it had the material. After nearly two years of delay, the AP sued the State Department in March 2015. The department agreed in a court filing last August to turn over Clinton's calendar, and provided the documents in November. After noticing discrepancies between Clinton's calendar and some schedules, the AP pressed in court for all of Clinton's planning material. The U.S. has released about one-third of those planners to the AP, so far.


"It's clear that any outside influence needs to be clearly identified in some way to at least guarantee transparency. That didn't happen," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan government reform group. "These discrepancies are striking because of her possible interest at the time in running for the presidency."

Clinton's terse calendar entry on her 2009 private breakfast on Wall Street contains no details on what she and her 12 guests discussed.

The weather. Their kids and grandkids.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

How's the Democratic Platform Committee Getting On?

Reacting to the committee’s progress in remarks Friday evening in New York, Sanders pledged to ensure his views are reflected in the platform, even if that means contesting party orthodoxy on the floor of the convention.

Yeah, that ought to help.
The [Friday] meeting, scheduled to continue Saturday, was to be the committee’s final gathering before the document goes to a larger panel that in turn will send it on to the convention for final approval.


Committee members were united in strengthening the document’s language on regulating Wall Street and taxing the wealthy, among other issues. Immigration and criminal justice also emerged as rallying points.

At the same time, familiar fault lines characterized the beginning negotiations Friday between members named by Clinton and members named by Sanders, who has suggested he will wait to throw his support behind the presumptive nominee until he is convinced she has embraced ideas that are dear to him.

When did he become convinced?
Bernie Sanders said Friday he will likely vote for Hillary Clinton for president in November, the strongest expression of support yet from the Vermont senator, but he left the door open that he could change his mind. "In all likelihood, it will be Hillary Clinton," Sanders told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day."

Sanders said he was focused on his leverage over the Democratic party platform.


Earlier, in another TV appearance, Sanders was firmer in his support for Clinton. Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if he would vote for the former secretary of state, Sanders said: "Yes. Yes, I think the issue right here is I am going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump. I think Trump in so many ways will be a disaster for this country if he were to be elected president."

Yeah. How's that leverage over the party platform going?

The question is: will you give it to them?

(Video of Cornell West abstention here. Try not to get distracted by Hillary shill Neera Tanden playing with her hair.)

I'm guessing they do.
“If we do not win that fight in St. Louis, we’re takin’ it to Orlando, where the larger committee will meet next month,” said Sanders of his platform planks. “If we don’t make it in Orlando, we’re takin’ that fight right to the floor of the Democratic convention. Whether they like it or not, we’re going to open the doors of the Democratic Party.”

Yeah, sure.  Nice work, Bernie.

What now, Sanders supporters?

Tightening the Screws

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

"Split or Get Off the Pot"

This election cycle, many will try to rationalize and ennoble their debasement in Philadelphia by joining an “anti-fascist” crusade against Trump – attempting to juxtapose a fool’s gold casino caricature of a fascist with the actually existing, real thing: Hillary Clinton, the personification of imperial mega-murder and domestic mass Black incarceration; the queen of international chaos and would-be warden of the world’s biggest gulag. Clearly, most “progressives” don’t know what fascism looks like in the 21st century. Here’s a clue: it listens to every communications device in the world, locks up more people, most of them non-white, than any other nation, and cackles “We came, we saw, he died” over the bodies of assassinated world leaders.


Bernie Sanders is trying to figure out how to capitulate to Hillary Clinton and her corporatist masters next month, in Philadelphia. “The Sandernistas – now minus their commandante – can either slither into Hillary’s big corporate tent, or get down to the hard work of building an opposition, social democratic party that reflects the politics of around 40 percent of the U.S. public.” The alternative is perpetual defeat inside the Democratic Party.

  Glen Ford
Yeah, they're used to that. It's comfortable now.
Like most Americans, they have internalized the win-lose logic of the two-party system, and cannot imagine starting a third party from scratch, or building a small, existing party into a major contender.


They want to be on the “winning” side, even if their presence is actual proof of abject defeat.


Any excuse to remain in the Party – like non-binding platform adjustments – suffices to delay the moment of truth. They preach the gospel of merging mass social action and electoral politics, but their failure to break with the Democrats puts their mass networks at the ultimate service of what has become the uber-corporate party.


Sanders’ remarkable campaign allowed this “progressive” constituency – mainly the white ranks, and youth of all ethnicities – to see themselves as a potentially independent social force, as numerically significant as the white nationalists that gave Donald Trump his victory on the other side of the duopoly. “Progressive” Democrats claim, cockily, that Hillary “can’t win without us” – and they are right. But, if they allow her to win, then they are not really “progressives” at all – just carping complainers whose bluffs can always be called by serious corporatists.

Jill Stein, the presumptive candidate for the Green Party, was refused permission to address the [recent People's Summit in Chicago organized by the National Nurses United union], thereby shutting the door to an actual voting choice for anti-corporatists. Sanders has never deigned to respond to Stein’s offer to share the ticket with him, in November.


Kai Newkirk, director of Democracy Spring, schooled activists in “non-violent discipline” to prepare them to run gauntlets of police at the convention site and surrounding streets. But, to the extent that these energies are expended on pressuring the Democratic National Committee to make platform promises that Hillary Clinton cannot possibly keep, they will end up punching air. They need a new party.


But, I am certain that a significant fraction of the 12 million will get down to the business of alternative party-building, recognizing that the rich rule through the mechanism of the duopoly electoral system.
I hope you're right.

The Theater of Congress

Democrats decided to end their day-long sit-in protest on the House floor over gun control Thursday.

Rep. John Lewis, who launched the sit-in Wednesday morning that eventually drew 170 lawmakers, lit up social media, and infuriated House Republicans -- but spurred no legislative action -- said the fight was not over.

"We must come back here on July 5th [when Congress returns to session] more determined than ever before," Lewis said.

John Lewis - celebrated civil rights activist who "never saw" Bernie Sanders at any civil rights movement in the 60s - thinks a sit-in is the right way to go about addressing the crisis of gun nuts in the US. No, he doesn't really. He just knows good theater when he sees it.
"We are going to win," he told supporters on the Capitol steps after the sit-in was halted. "The fight is not over. This is just one step of when we come back here on July the 5th we're going to continue to push, to pull, to stand up, and if necessary, to sit down. So don't give up, don't give in. Keep the faith, and keep your eyes on the prize."
He should be ashamed to disgrace and co-opt the struggle of his fellow blacks in the south (including  himself!) for civil rights with a ridiculous bunch of hooey that actually would decrease civil rights for Arab-Americans. Another of Glen Ford's  (and his colleagues at Black Agenda Radio) "black misleadership".
The move is fantastic political theater. It’s also a tremendous waste of popular support and activist energy in support of a measure that isn’t just ineffective but also actively offensive.

The Democratic proposal has been catch-phrased and hashtagged as “no fly, no buy,” because it would prevent people who end up on government terrorism watchlists, including the “no fly list,” from purchasing firearms. This would do little to reduce gun violence, but it would add an additional layer of surveillance and government scrutiny to a particular class of people.


The vast majority of gun deaths—suicides as well as homicides—are caused by handguns, and the majority of people firing those guns are not suspected terrorists (which invariably refers, in contemporary discourse, to Muslims, and no other groups or individuals dedicated to political violence).

The no-fly list is a civil rights disaster by every conceivable standard. It is secret, it disproportionately affects Arab-Americans, it is error-prone, there is no due process or effective recourse for people placed on the list, and it constantly and relentlessly expands. As of 2014, the government had a master watchlist of 680,000 people, forty percent of whom had “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” This is both an absurdly large number of people to arbitrarily target in gun control legislation, and far, far too few to have any meaningful effect on actual gun ownership, let alone gun violence.


But if it is, as it appears to be, more of an effort to highlight the unpopular extremism of Republicans on gun issues, it is a stupid and counterproductive hill to theatrically die on. Almost any popular and previously debated gun control measure would have made a better symbolic lost cause. Democrats could be staging a sit-in in support of [...] waiting periods, nationally standard gun licensing and training requirements, and tougher restrictions on where and how guns are sold. All of those, or even any one of those, would have been more defensible both politically and morally. Instead House Democrats are going to the mat for a shitty, racist, useless bill.

You can read commentary by Black Agenda Radio's managing editor Bruce Dixon on the "sit in" here.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Addressing the Problem of Democracy

Z is for Zeitgeist: Brexit is insular but not wholly British. You hardly have to try and see parallels, across the Channel or the Atlantic. Better thinkers than me have addressed this crisis, the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact. Democracy becomes a potential weapon, a trigger you can vote to pull. But weapons don’t fire themselves, and the genius of Farage and Johnson and Gove (and Trump, potentially) is to get people to focus on the target, not on the one holding the gun.

  Tom Ewing "An A to Z of Brexit"
I don't think this arrogance belongs solely to the neoliberal elites, but to political elites from both ends of the spectrum. And definitely not Trump "potentially" - that potential is more than filled. Otherwise, I'm in agreement with Ewing, and he's put his finger very precisely on the situation.  The goal of those elites is to work around democracy (an inconvenience) and focus the masses on "the other" in their midst, away from the political elites who are actually the source of the masses' financial and political woes.  And they're doing a bang-up job of it.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, June 24, 2016


On NPR this morning, some reporters were saying people were speculating about the possible effects of the "Brexit" on Netherlands and France, using the terms "Nexit" and "Frexit".  One correspondent from Germany then said, "You won't be seeing a Gerxit", which brought a chuckle from another.

As I recall, when Greece was threatening a "Grexit", there was talk about the domino effect such a move would have and worry about Spain, whose economic situation is similarly poor, making a move to leave.  If they did, we could possibly then be talking about a "Sexit".

But, of course, we'll never talk about a Gerxit, even though they're the Gerx in the deal, because they're doing quite well under the EU, and pretty much running it, thank you very much.

How about a Czechxit?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU, Ding Dong.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Give It a Rest, Tony

Speaking to Sky News, [ex-primeminister Tony] Blair said: “It has got vast implications economically and politically. The prime minister has got a huge task in trying to bring people together. There is no point in hiding it, for me this is a very very sad day.”

Blair praised Cameron for not immediately invoking article 50, as Corbyn demanded. “We really need to think our way through this. What’s important now to stabilise our situation,” Blair said.

Not even David Cameron is listening to Tony any longer. He's announced he's going to resign. Apparently he doesn't feel up to the huge task.
Boos greeted leave campaigner Boris Johnson as he left his London home this morning.

Johnson, who is the favourite to succeed David Cameron as prime minister, said little to waiting reporters.

Instead he got into a cab to drive to Vote Leave headquarters.

A crowd gathered outside the former London mayor’s house throughout the morning, with expectations that he might announce running for prime minister following Cameron’s resignation.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.