Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

Something For Something

November 1, 2019

How many readers have been to Walmart to buy something? It’s a simple operation, all too natural. One picks out the desired something, generic or brand name, goes to the check out, pays for it and walks out. End of conversation. Indeed, it can be done entirely with no conversation whatsoever. Using the self serve to scan the something, insert a plastic something and , Voila! One walks out the door, something in hand. Quid Pro Quo? Has the reader ever thought to call it that? But there was no conversation. According to the SCOTUS there was a conversation, though not a verbal word was spoken at the self serve check out. Money is speech, according to the Citizens United ruling. The plastic said “this for that” and the Walmart automated check out said “This for that, indeed!” Deed done. Who’d a thunk it? Like the caterpillar who couldn’t move when he was asked how he does it, it’s all so natural that it doesn’t cause any hang ups until attention is paid to the act itself. No quid pro quo in the exchange of money for service? No conversation if it is money that is being exchanged? ““Our intention is to make this a hotel and we’ve just got to make the numbers work,” he [Steve Coon with Coon Restorations] said. “It’s a heavy lift, but it’s a great project to spend the time on to make happen.” Coon says right now there is no price tag on the project, but he and his partners will be going after state and federal tax breaks as well as grants.” (Bryan Somerville, WBNS,10-21-19). Who’s talking? What are they saying? Quid Pro Quo? “Get over it. We do it all the time” (Mick Mulvaney). “Mayor Jeff Hall said the use of the building continues the Longaberger legacy. “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.,” Hall said. “A hotel is a perfect fit because it’s open to the public. Dave Longaberger would be happy with that. It’s the right people and the right property. These guys are not in the business of losing money.”” (Kent Mallett, The Advocate, 10-21-19). Speaking of money, and buildings: “”When you have a community our size, you can’t bring up the whole community at once,” Hall said. “You can’t fix every aspect of it. Downtown is a commercial district. If you put the dollars first in the commercial district, then raise those revenues, create some more jobs, it creates more funds to put in the neighborhoods. So, that’s the next step. “I think we’re moving in the right direction to keep that economic growth moving. It’s not easy. When we talk to employers they want to see nice downtowns, they want to see unique things to be considered for the short list for them to consider moving their company here.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-11-19) ““Every once in awhile I’ve got to tell council members it’s all great ideas, but I got to pay the bills,” Hall said. “I appreciate Mr. Blake’s thoughts and surely understand all those conditions, but how are you going to do it? That’s something critical because it takes dollars. We have to deal with the money we have. Ideas are wonderful, but you’ve got to fund ideas. “I’d like to have a busing service, a fixed-route busing service. Can’t afford it. There are things you can’t afford. You reach a balanced budget by saying no to things.”” “Hall said the new fire station to be built on Sharon Valley Road is essential to reduce the slow response times in that area of the city, which has continued to grow. “That whole area has changed in 20 years, so as a result fire response needs to change,” Hall said. “Finding the location for a fire station is tough. If your house is on fire, you’d love for it next door to you. Every other day of the year, you don’t want it next door.”” “Hall said, “We have metrics and the metrics help make the (fire) decisions. That (East End) station out there was built when the Longaberger Basket had 500 employees. It does not anymore. We looked at need and run data. Nothing has suffered out there because of that station being re-used for another purpose.”” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-20-19) “Incumbent Mayor Jeff Hall not only outspent his general election opponent, City Councilman Jeremy Blake, but the mayor had a large advantage in cash remaining for the final weeks of the campaign.” “Hall received donations from many of the business leaders in the area, as well as fellow Republican politicians. The mayor said it’s nice to have the support of the business community. “They say they believe in you and your results,” Hall said. “Certainly, we have had a plan for economic development. That’s something prior administrations didn’t necessarily have. It’s something that’s good for the community to be economically stable, so you don’t have to tax everyone.” Of the mayor’s 141 contributions, seven were at least $500, including: $1,200 from Realtors Political Action, of Columbus; $1,000 from Steven Hitchens, of Newark; $1,000 from Sean Weekley, of Newark; $500 each from Licking County Republican Boosters, Carol DuVal, of Heath, James Matesich, of Granville, and Duke Frost, of Newark.” (Mallett, The Advocate, 10-28-19). Analysis finds it curious that the major “issue” in the verbal conversation regarding the future mayor of Newark has centered on the projected Sharon Valley fire station. The incumbent (Jeff, “It’s about a building that deserves the respect.” Hall) is all in on the capital (building) expenditure without regard to the staffing (people employed) while the challenger (Jeremy Blake) is concerned with staffing concerns as a priority. A Google map shows the urgency of the “issue”: prime land to be developed residential just south of Log Pond Run, with an anticipated road extension from Baker Blvd. to the Evans athletic complex. Residential development is contingent on insurance underwriting which in turn is determined by, you guessed it, available fire service. The fly in the ointment for Newark’s future mayor is Le Hotel Baskeet that likewise will require insurance underwriting (“to make the numbers work”) which in turn will find a nearby defunct fire station on the east end. Newark extends northward to the Trout Club (and beyond), making closing the Hollander Street fire station untenable. Analysis shows having the “verbal” conversation of staffing capital (building) expenditure is a much more materially effective approach to the growing and changing community’s needs than the traditional “quid pro quo” money speech of Citizens United. Oh, and by the way, “Quid Pro Quo” is “something for something” in Latin.

 

 

 

 

Snookered

December 19, 2018

Analysis finds the news of the past week could be likened to some kind of police gazette tabloid of “true crime” and criminals. A couple of deeply significant stories flew under the radar, appearing briefly then to be gone. Was that a UFO? Lisa J. Huriash, writing for the Sun Sentinel, headlines: Judge tosses Parkland shooting lawsuit. Cops and schools had no duty to protect students, she says. (12-17-18) “A federal judge says Broward schools and the Sheriff’s Office had no legal duty to protect students during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed a suit filed by 15 students who claimed they were traumatized by the crisis in February. The suit named six defendants, including the Broward school district and the Broward Sheriff’s Office, as well as school deputy Scot Peterson and campus monitor Andrew Medina. Bloom ruled that the two agencies had no constitutional duty to protect students who were not in custody.” The judge explained that only those “in custody” warrant the constitutional duty of protection. And students within a public school, or citizens elsewhere, are not in state custody and thus mandate no constitutional obligation of protection as far as bureaucratic officials or safety forces are concerned. Analysis finds parallels with the abortion debate (scourge) preoccupying the nation’s politics. Unlike that “conversation” this one seems to pre-empt any controversy by the shear volume of hype (propaganda) on the part of various “patriotic” icons (like DHS, ICE, various police and safety forces, etc.). Next time you see a spectacle in tribute to those “sworn to serve and protect,” realize “it’s a choice” not an obligation or duty. While on the subject, what kind of obligation or duty, unfulfilled, would cause one to lose one’s job? Audrey McNamara, for the Daily Beast, headlines: Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Lost Her Job for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Oath (12-18-18). “The Pflugerville Independent School District included new language in their contracts this year requiring that employees “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and will refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”” “The oath was included in [children’s speech pathologist Bahia] Amawi’s contract as the result of an Israel-specific Texas law enacted in May 2017. The same law blocked some victims of Hurricane Harvey from receiving state disaster relief unless they first signed a pledge to never participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Similar laws are on the books in 25 other states—including Democratic-run states such as California and New York—meaning the vast majority of Americans are currently barred from supporting a boycott of Israel without facing some form of legal retribution.” Analysis concludes that more than Russians are working to make over America in their own image and likeness. Who’d a thunk it? McNamara eloquently ends her report with: “Amawi could engage in any political activism against her own country and keep her job. That right seemingly does not apply to her activism on Israel.” Analysis finds that civic obligations and duties turn out to be a little different than we comfortably (and conveniently) imagine. Sigh.

Matters Of The Streets And Social Media

November 9, 2018

The impromptu late night demonstration outside the Washington DC home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was all over the media map this week (commentary as well as reporting). The event itself, as well as any media coverage (commentary or reporting), embodies the current socio-economic condition of American culture (political, economic and social). Some reporting of this particular event placed it in line with other such spontaneous “restaurant” protests (where various political leaders have been held to account while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Foodies will claim that everyone is entitled to enjoy a good meal). Analysis finds two of the many reports or commentaries available to further underscore American culture: Protesters Target Home Of Fox News Tucker Carlson by Ashraf Khalil for AP and Anti-Fascist Protesters Target Fox News’ Tucker Carlson At His Home by Antonia Blumberg appearing in the Huffington Post. Both are from the same date, 11-8-18. The contemporary “online” account of the Huffington Post favors the personal, social media oriented emphasis – “Police responded Wednesday night when anti-fascist activists showed up at the Washington, D.C., home of Tucker Carlson and began banging on the door and shouting threats like, “We know where you sleep at night.” The Fox News host wasn’t home and neither were any of his four children. But his wife was there and quickly locked herself in the pantry and called 911.” “Carlson has drawn criticism for his rhetoric on immigration, for routinely promoting vitriol toward Democrats, for defending nationalism and more. The host is well aware of the animosity of his critics. He recently complained he can’t eat at most D.C. restaurants because people frequently yell insults at him. “I don’t feel threatened, but having someone scream ‘Fuck you!’ at a restaurant, it just wrecks your meal,” he said on a National Review podcast.” and various online, social media only related responses and activities. The traditional AP account stressed what used to be referred to as an objective and factual event – “Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that officers were summoned to Carlson’s home Wednesday evening and found about 20 protesters and a commonly used anarchy symbol spray-painted on the driveway. A brief video posted on social media by a group calling itself “Smash Racism DC” shows people standing outside a darkened home and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” [which rhymes]” “The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they welcome and support all expressions of free speech and First Amendment rights but that “defacing private property” is an obvious violation.” as well as responses by various named individuals. Both reports gave the official Fox News statement. The difference in the two accounts highlights the distinction between “the streets” and online social media as contested places for the exercise of democracy, freedom and the exchange of ideas. We are all familiar with the POTUS dominant reliance of social media to intimidate, and its outcome. “The streets” have always been an open though un-secured environment (“They were threatening my family to get me to stop talking.” Carlson who “called in to talk with substitute host Brian Kilmeade.” and capitalize on the event). Which leaves the unanswered question – which is more civil, “the streets” or social media? Analysis uncovers the unspoken but even more pressing concern of civil discourse within the framework of public private partnerships. Given that Fox News is a de facto privatized ministry of information for the current administration (indeed many of the people working for the administration are from Fox, and vice versa), how can such an institution be politically confronted and held accountable within a civil landscape that gives legal precedence to the private (“”defacing private property” is an obvious violation.”). In Newark, how would, rather, how could one politically dissent or hold to account the policies of Grow Licking County? Demonstrations in front of the Licking Chamber of Commerce headquarters would be disparaged as a replication of the Carlson encounter. Ditto for any civil acts of protest towards policies or actions taken at the Canal Market, the Ice Rink, LC Transit or even JobsOhio. Analysis finds the split between “the streets” and social media to underscore the androgynous nature of public private institutions where accountability is forever deferred. Who benefits from the vast financial influx of tax payer funds? Who is ultimately responsible for the failed  transportation network in Newark? Are these matters of “the streets” or of social media?

Staff – It’s Not Just At Your Hospital Anymore

September 19, 2018

Currently, this blog is following a thread established by the 9-8-18 post, A Tradition Of Americans. That post covered the NY Times Anonymous Op Ed and one of many responses to it. The particular response was by Ari Fleischer, with part of its title being “Staffers don’t get to steer U.S.” Analysis begged to differ citing Michel Foucault. In his history, Discipline and Punish, he interprets the enormous “steering” of social, political and cultural mores and history by management – upper, middle, as well as lower. With the last post, Counter Narrative, Analysis looked at what recently occurred on the west coast with the Berkeley police department’s action on citizens forcibly removed from a demonstration but never charged. The police department stepped out, way beyond their mission as safety forces, to publicize their suppression policy of demonstrations. This management decision involves exposing explicit details and identity photos on social media of those removed (without being charged). The centrality of social media in a large part of the American public makes such activity akin to the scarlet letter of Puritan discipline. 9-17-18 finds Analysis on the opposite coast, in the land of the Pilgrims, considering analogous steering by “staffers” there. An errant screenshot reveals Massachusetts police were monitoring liberal groups The ACLU says the blunder is alarming — and the police response doesn’t add up by Nicole Karlis appeared in Salon. “Last Thursday evening, Massachusetts State Police tweeted a screenshot in regard to a natural gas emergency that affected nearly 8,000 people around the state. The agency’s tweet was meant to display a map of responses to fires and explosions, but the uncropped screenshot showed that the police computer’s browser had bookmarked a select group of left-wing activists, including some police brutality watchdog groups. Facebook groups for Mass. Action Against Police Brutality (MAAPB), the Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump (COMBAT); and the “Resistance Calendar,” which shares upcoming anti-Trump protests across the country, were among the list of bookmarked tabs on the police computer browser.” The article notes that it was soon after deleted and replaced by a cropped version. Once the genie of public knowledge was out of the bottle (through inadvertent disclosure), the state police began the window dressing of any malice, claiming a “responsibility to know about all large public gatherings of any type and by any group, regardless of their purpose and position, for public safety reasons.” ““Massachusetts State Police doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Crockford told Salon [Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Mass.]. “Unless a protest is on a highway or at the airport or public location it is none of their business if someone is having a protest. In most areas Massachusetts State Police is not responsible for ensuring public safety, it is local police.” “The other issue is I’d like to see a list of the groups Massachusetts State Police is monitoring for this purpose,” Crockford added. “It seems strange to only monitor a few that only might have a protest someday.”” Analysis found noteworthy from the report: “A peculiar detail regarding the incident is that the screenshot, as mentioned by the state police’s account, was taken at the Commonwealth Fusion Center, an information-gathering center in Maynard, Massachusetts. The center, which was opened in 2005, “collects and analyzes information from all available sources to produce and disseminate actionable intelligence to stakeholders for strategic and tactical decision-making in order to disrupt domestic and international terrorism,” according to its mission statement. “These fusion centers were created in wake of 9/11, and now there are 80 of them nationwide run by state and local law enforcement to fight terrorism, but  instead they are focused on policing left-wing political organizations, and fighting the war on drugs,” Crockford added, explaining that police viewing left-wing groups as extremists likely dates back to the Red Scare.” Yes, Ari, staffers really do get to steer the U.S.

Counter-Narrative

September 15, 2018

Wealthiest Republican supporter in Ohio quits party headlines Justin Wise for The Hill, 9-15-18. “[L Brands CEO Leslie] Wexner, who said he’s been a Republican since college, added that he is now an independent, before saying that he “won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party” anymore.” This just after former President Barack Obama spoke at a rally in Cleveland. “”What you’re seeing is Republicans in Congress who are bending over backwards to try to shield and deflect oversight of this behavior and accountability and consequences,” Obama said. “This is serious. You know it is. And frankly even some of the Republicans know it is. They will say it, they just don’t do anything about it. … [They say,] ‘we’ll put up with crazy’ in exchange for tax reform and deregulation.”” This just after the anonymous op ed “news” in the NY Times covered by this blog’s post, A Tradition Of Americans, 9-8-18 (You know, the one about staffers). “”I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others,” Wexner said.” Analysis wrote all that in order to write Berkeley police posted activists’ mugshots on Twitter and celebrated retweets, emails reveal headlined the day before (9-14-18) by Sam Levin for The Guardian. “The Berkeley police department (BPD) faced widespread backlash last month after posting the personal information of arrested activists online, leading to Fox News coverage and harassment and abuse against the leftwing demonstrators at a far-right rally. New emails have shown that the city has an explicit policy of targeting protesters with mugshot tweets, with the goal of using “social media to help create a counter-narrative”.” Analysis needn’t remind readers that “staff” isn’t always Republican or Democrat as some administration spokespeople would like us to presume. Their allegiances may lie elsewhere, as Levin’s reporting goes on to show. “Police arrested 20 people on 5 August, and all were counter-protesters and anti-fascists who came to demonstrate against a far-right event, according to the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of San Francisco, which is representing some of the activists. Many arrested were cited for “possession of a banned weapon”, which police said included “anything” that could be used in a “riot”. Some were arrested for bandanas and scarves that police considered “masks” and sign poles cited as “weapons”, according to the NLG, which is representing activists. It appears that none have faced any charges. The records, obtained by police accountability group Lucy Parsons Labs and reported by the East Bay Express, shed light on how officials internally have defined and justified the social media policy for protests. Officials said the “social media-driven protests” have created the need for a “Twitter protocol for mug shots” and acknowledged that the tweets would get “broad national exposure”. One police email had the subject line, “Info flow from Jail to Twitter.” The policy also made clear that police would post mugshots on Twitter only when the arrests were “protest related”, drawing criticisms that the practice was aimed at discouraging free speech activities.” “One protocol document officials wrote last year said police should post the name, age, city of residence, charges and booking photos on Twitter, noting that they would be “quickly reprinted across television, online and print media platforms”. Police received more than 8,000 retweets, 11,000 “likes” and 1.7m “impressions” (times people saw the tweets) in one case, the document said.” “Matthai Chakko, a city spokesperson who outlined the policy in the internal emails, defended the practice in an interview Friday, saying the strategy was a response to “exceptional circumstances” and “exceptional amounts of violence in Berkeley” at previous rallies. He could not, however, provide specific details about any alleged acts of violence on 5 August when police posted mugshots. One individual was cited for “battery”, but he said he had no further information about the circumstances.” “Asked if police considered possible abuse and doxing risks when creating the mugshot policy, Chakko declined to comment.” “Veena Dubal, a University of California law professor and former Berkeley police review commissioner, said the mugshot policy was “really deviating from the role of the police department, which is public safety”. She said she was also stunned by the “counter narrative” language: “If the prevailing narrative is these rightwing, white supremacist rallies should be stopped, and we don’t want them in the city, then the ‘counter-narrative’ is we do want them in our city, and the counter-protesters are the problem.”” ““They broke the law,” he [Matthai Chakko] said. He also declined to comment on why the cases have repeatedly resulted in no formal charges or convictions, saying: “We are comfortable with our arrests.”” Not so comfortable in all this is what former President Obama had to say in a speech at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign just a week prior: “We are Americans. We’re supposed to standup to bullies. Not follow them. We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up, clearly and unequivocally, to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.” (from the transcript).  Analysis will let Les Wexner have the last word (through the pen of Justin Wise): “The billionaire CEO reportedly said in a speech last year that he was “ashamed” by Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence and led to the death of a 32-year-old woman.” Licking County Prosecutor Russell Hayes has a problem with all the homeless accumulating in downtown Newark, Ohio. Arresting, charging and jailing indigents is so inconvenient, and costly! With no gazebo to claim as “the home of the homeless”, exceptional circumstances have him shamelessly looking for a good counter-narrative, one that would make him comfortable in executing the duties of his office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Desire To Preserve Public Civility

June 30, 2018

Most recent in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Lauren Berg of The Daily Progress writes (6-29-18, Charlottesville judge awards Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler $5 for activist cursing at him): “A Charlottesville judge decided Friday that a local activist violated Virginia’s anti-dueling statute when she screamed curses at Jason Kessler. Kessler cited the statute in his $500 lawsuit against Donna Gasapo, whom he said used insulting language that tended toward violence and a breach of the peace. Kessler said he sued for a small amount of money based on the principle of the matter and a desire to preserve public civility. With dozens of supporters seated behind her in Charlottesville General District Court on Friday, Gasapo never denied yelling curse words at Kessler on March 16 outside of DeAndre Harris’ assault trial in the same courthouse. But her attorney said she was protected by the First Amendment to express rhetorical hyperbole and make exaggerated statements. Representing himself, Kessler argued that Gasapo’s words — “F— you … f— you, a—— … crybaby Kessler” — were fighting words and could have incited violence. In the video that Kessler played as evidence, Gasapo also can be heard calling Kessler a “murderer.” Kessler said Gasapo was falsely assigning him blame for the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed in a car attack on the day of the Unite the Right rally, which Kessler organized.” Following coverage of “both sides” (and the judge) Berg concludes with this from Gasapo’s attorney: ““I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions and their very real feelings of frustration, which we believe are protected by the First Amendment,” she said.” The words of Gasapo’s attorney, Pam Starsia, skim the surface and steer well away from the depths. Analysis finds this symptomatic of our current, curious times. How so? Remember Cleveland’s John Demjanjuk? No, he didn’t play for the Browns. Who could forget the Ukrainian immigrant refugee who was stripped of US citizenship and eventually tried as an accessory to the murder of 28,000+ Jews during the Second World War? And who could forget John F Kennedy? What? What does Kennedy have to do with Kessler, or Demjanjuk? Historically, one of the pressing questions during his “time” running for president was whether or not his religion, Roman Catholic, would affect his ability to govern as a future president. This dogged his candidacy, as well as many others during and after his “time.” As late as 2012 the question arose regarding Mitt Romney being part of the LDS Church. Ideology, or in this case religion, matters. Numbers driven media covered recent events regarding the rather personal confrontation of various current administration officials on a number of issues – Sarah Sanders, Kirstjen Nielsen, etc. (described as “harassment”). “Let the folks eat, for gawd’s sake. They’re only following orders and doing their job.” cry the administration’s defenders. Ideology matters, not personality. Demjanjuk, and others of his generation, were dragged from nursing homes to stand trial for being personally responsible for the atrocities that occurred in WWII. Personality matters, not ideology. It’s the people who were driving the locomotives, manning the guard towers, and keeping the books who  were personally responsible for the evil perpetrated. So which is it – ideology or the persons who embody it and make it materially real? Taking his cue perfectly from the fascist playbook, Kessler has gaslighted his vigilant (and virulent) opponents by publicly and legally casting himself as innocent, bearing no responsibility for events of his own doing. “A desire to preserve public civility”?