In 2016, An “Historic” RNC Convention

Right, Left or Center, at least one aspect of this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio can certainly be agreed upon… it was a fascinating series of events.

At its most basic level, we can all be thankful that the convention was successful– there were no major acts of violence or dangerous disruption, and hopefully everyone that participated will have a safe a journey home.  Whether one agrees with the politics or not, all Americans can be proud that this year’s RNC was kept safe.

But of course, being safe and feeling safe are often two very different emotions.  As Elle Magazine’s Melissa Harris-Perry shares, the RNC didn’t

Every night this week in Cleveland, the energy has waned as the hour progressed. By the time media left the Arena at 11 p.m., the building was only half full. Tonight was different. Mr Trump’s speech brought delegates and their energy to a late night crescendo. Chants we heard all week increased in fervor, volume, intensity, and frequency—” Build that wall!” “Lock her Up!” “U-S-A!”

The police presence we experienced all week was more visible than ever.

It occurred to me 30 minutes into Mr. Trump’s speech that when he finished we would be facing the classic problem of large venue events, say, concerts for example: everyone was going to leave at the same time. This would be the first time all week when we would all be streaming out at ounce. Trump supporters, fearing immigrants and criminals and hoarse from chanting about walls and locks would be in tight quarters with the liberal media liars. Team Trump is stoked by the discourse of the speech.

Keep in mind, RNCers had just undergone a week of hotel induced sleeplessness, long meetings, late nights, and cocktail parties. Then, throw in the protestors we would all have to pass as we left the zone of the arena.

Suddenly I was viscerally afraid.

Compared to any other Republican National Convention in recent memory, and certainly in the 21st century, 2016 seemed one for the books in terms of blatant vitriol, at least the kind that was caught on camera.  It’s also true that Ms. Perry’s identity as an African-American woman proved to be much more the exception than the rule for this year’s RNC.  Per The Washington Post, of the 2,472 convention delegates in attendance, just 18 of those were African-American… an historic low not seen in nearly century.  And of course, this is against the backdrop of country which is more diverse than ever before.  All season long, the Trump organization and the GOP have boasted about the monumental “growth” of the party… more primary voters than ever before, and historic voter registration numbers.  That may be true, but it isn’t the same growth that is occurring in the rest of America.

Even the moments that could be considered true “brights spots” contained noticeable shade. Peter Thiel, Billionaire businessman and believed to be the first ever openly gay male to speak at a National GOP Convention gave a rousing speech showing himself proud to be gay and a Republican.  But in virtually the same breath, he also throws transgender Americans under the bus by undervaluing their most fundamental rights.  To his question, “who cares?” about bathrooms??  The same people which shared that room with him and worked tirelessly to repeal Pro-Equality legislation certainly do.  Indeed it must be nice to be a Billionaire who also happens to be gay.

But thanks to some careful, and historic planning by Fairness USA, some of Thiel’s hateful messaging was countered. The groundbreaking TV ad, which debuted on Fox News, allows the American public to finally see the Transgender equality issue from the other side.  In my opinion, this is the kind of history which is long overdue.

So as Texas Leftist predicted one year ago, RNC 2016 is now in the books, and Donald Trump has claimed his place as the Retrumplican…  err I mean Republican Party’s new leader.  Between you and me, the DNC 2016 can’t come fast enough.

RNC

A Prayer

Love. Respect. Common Empathy. The desire to understand and support instead of the rush to judge and assume. Nonviolent solutions. This is my prayer.

Thank you to all of those police and law enforcement that risk their lives and health to protect our freedoms, and keep us safe everyday. We appreciate you and support you.

Thank you to those that peacefully exercise those precious freedoms in the wake of constant injustices which threaten our communities. We appreciate you and support you.

 

 

Dallas American Flag

Terrorist Trump??

Just when things start looking up for the GOP Presumptive Nominee, we all remember that even Hillary’s sloppy email practices cannot save Donald Trump from, well… Donald Trump.

Here’s the story from Nick Visser of the Huffington Post

Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican presidential nomination, once again lauded deposed Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein during a campaign stop.

Speaking at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday evening, Trump praised what he said was Hussein’s innate ability to kill terrorists “so good.” While it’s not the first time he’s mentioned the former leader, this time Trump elaborated that he appreciated Hussein’s authoritarian take on civil liberties.

“You know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good,” Trump said. “They didn’t read them the rights, they didn’t talk. They were a terrorist, it was over.”

Some may view this clip as a simple statement of fact.  Trump is correct that under an authoritarian regime, few people have to sit around wondering about the Civil Liberties implications of murder.  So yes, Saddam Hussein did indeed kill terrorists in a highly efficient manner.

But here’s the problem… Hussein killed lots of other people with efficiency as well, including millions of innocent Iraqi citizens. They did not ‘read them rights’ because under a dictatorship, they didn’t have rights.  For Trump to laud Hussein’s method of handling terrorism, we must also realize that it is an endorsement of “shoot first, ask later”.  If you’re going to endorse such things on the campaign trail, does that mean that all of our rights get thrown out the window the day ‘Terrorist Trump’ is sworn in?

Most Americans probably don’t want to find out.

Trump Hussein

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of July 4th

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates another birthday for America as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff credits Wendy Davis for getting it right on HB2.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is hardly shocked to learn that our state is run by a group of sexist pigs. Will the Texas GOP Apologize for its Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Bill and its Sexist Piggery?

Socratic Gadfly notes how chunks of the mainstream media tried to create Scalia-connected false drama on the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling.

CouldBeTrue of South South Texas Chisme warns Texans that far right group wants to purge Starr County voter rolls so that you don’t get a vote.

Cheeto Jesus (Donald Trump) begged Saul Relative (PDiddie at Brains and Eggs) for a campaign donation.

Neil at All People Have Value supports Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Voter Registrar. She will do a very good job in that important office. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Andrea Ferrigno celebrates the SCOTUS decision striking down HB2.

Keep Austin Wonky criticizes that city’s road bond proposal.

The TSTA Blog takes exception to Texas exceptionalism.

The Makeshift Academic explains why Medicaid expansion was such a key component of the Affordable Care Act.

Drew Blackburn wonders why Austin is having such a hard time with regulations on sharing economy companies.

Paradise in Hell looks at the sinkholes of West Texas.

 

TexMerica

Sent: Hillary Clinton Will NOT Face Charges Over Emails

After years of swirling controversy and thousands of hours worth of Press coverage, it appears that one of 2016’s most prominent political ‘scandals’ has finally met its end.

You know… the one about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the general run-down. Throughout her time in the Senate, Clinton used a personal email, and ran the servers from her home.  As odd as this may sound to those of us in the Tech generation, it is a surprisingly common practice for high-level members of Congress to use personal email.

When she became Secretary of State in 2009, she continued to use her personal email and maintain the servers from her home, and no one in the upper echelons of government corrected her at the time.  We must emphasize the term continued here, because for 8 years as a United States Senator, she used her private email account to no objection. This wasn’t some malicious move made the second she ascended to the office at State. Framed in context, it is possible to see the reasoning here.

But that doesn’t mean the reasoning was correct. As Secretary of State, part of the job is to have involved interactions with foreign governments, including many folks that the United States would deem as “untrustworthy actors”.  If one assumes that a personal server is less secure than those run by the federal government, any electronic communications with said actors carry a great deal of risk.  This is what FBI Director James Comey made crystal clear as he announced the results of the agency’s exhaustive investigation into the email saga.  From the full transcript of his statement via The Washington Post…

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government — or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

[…]

In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

With all the evidence present, it’s clear that the standards for what most people consider ‘best practices’ of electronic communication were not met.  But were these failings attributed exclusively to Clinton, or were they at issue in previous administrations?  According to a House Oversight Committee Report confirming widespread use of personal emails among Clinton’s predecessors, Condoleezza Rice claims that she used a .gov account, but the State Department was unable to produce conclusive records from her time in the office. Colin Powell, like Clinton, admits to having used a personal email account.  Only since Secretary John Kerry has there even been an expectation that Secretaries of State use a government email account.  In the wake of these results, it’s important to weigh Clinton’s actions within this context.  If she followed the lead set by previous office holders, why are her actions being singled out as exceptional?  Is the FBI willing to bring charges up against Secretaries Powell and Rice??  Onky if they run for President, I guess.

Surprisingly enough, there is a bright side to this controversy.  Unlike several other GOP-led attempts to destroy Democratic rivals, at least the time and money spent on this one yielded some concrete results.  Hillary Clinton’s email practices were a problem, and now she, and the whole federal government will be much less careless with their electronic records.

In any event, the message has been sent.

HRC1

‘Civil Death’: SCOTUS Eviscerates Fourth Amendment, Validates Police Profiling

The Supreme Court may not be complete, but that doesn’t mean they are any less capable of causing a firestorm.  In what seems to be an incredibly short-sighted decision, a major pillar of the United States Constitution has been all but gutted.  Here’s the information from the New York Times editorial board…

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government — or that’s how it works in theory, anyway.

In practice, though, court decisions over several decades have created so many exceptions to this constitutional principle as to render it effectively meaningless in many real-world situations.

On Monday, the Supreme Court further weakened the Fourth Amendment by making it even easier for law enforcement to evade its requirement that stops be based on reasonable suspicion. The justices ruled 5 to 3 that a police officer’s illegal stop of a man on the street did not prevent evidence obtained from a search connected to that stop to be used against him.

The case, Utah v. Strieff, started when the police in Salt Lake City got an anonymous tip of drug activity at a house. An officer monitoring the house became suspicious at the number of people he saw entering and leaving. When one of those people, Edward Strieff, left to walk to a nearby convenience store, the officer stopped him and asked for his identification. A routine check revealed that Mr. Strieff had an outstanding “small traffic warrant.” The officer arrested him based on that earlier warrant, searched him and found drugs in his pockets.

The State of Utah agreed that the initial stop was illegal, because it was not based on reasonable, individual suspicion that Mr. Strieff was doing anything wrong. Instead, the state argued that the discovery of the valid warrant — after the illegal stop — got around the Fourth amendment violation.

The Utah Supreme Court rightly rejected this argument, but that decision was overturned in a majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas. The officer’s lack of any specific suspicion of Mr. Strieff, Justice Thomas wrote, was a result of “good-faith mistakes.” The illegal stop was, at worst, “an isolated instance of negligence.”

So basically, police can suspect anything they want about an individual, and use that information as an excuse to detain them, check for warrants, and then quite possibly disrupt the entirety of their life.  And I suppose if one has never been profiled by the police, and never had any reason to think that they would be, this judgement seems rather sensible.  It’s not like police officers ever make mistakes, or use their judgement in an unfair way, right?

It’s important to note here that this was a 5 to 3 decision by the court, with Justices Clarence Thomas (who wrote the majority opinion), Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito in the majority.  The three dissenters?  Justices Elena Kagen, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

So at least on the face of it, gender appears to be a factor.  But let’s spend a brief moment to also discuss the court’s only true racial minority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  Remember during her confirmation, the whole firestorm around being “Wise Latina“?  In her dissenting opinion to this case, that wisdom shines through like never before.  Directly from Justice Sotomayor’s dissent

The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. Because the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such misconduct, I dissent.

[…]

The officer’s control over you does not end with the stop. If the officer chooses, he may handcuff you and take you to jail for doing nothing more than speeding, jaywalking, or “driving [your] pickup truck . . . with [your] 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter . . . without [your] seatbelt fastened.” Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U. S. 318, 323–324 (2001). At the jail, he can fingerprint you, swab DNA from the inside of your mouth, and force you to “shower with a delousing agent” while you “lift [your] tongue, hold out [your] arms, turn around, and lift [your] genitals.” Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, 566 U. S. ___, ___–___ (2012) (slip op., at 2–3); Maryland v. King, 569 U. S. ___, ___ (2013) (slip op., at 28). Even if you are innocent, you will now join the 65 million Americans with an arrest record and experience the “civil death” of discrimination by employers, landlords, and whoever else conducts a background check.

By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged. We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283 (2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

What Justice Sotomayor says here can hardly be improved upon.  It’s a shame that our nation’s Supreme Court has cleared the way for the “Civil Death” of millions of Americans, and the 4th Amendment of our Constitution.  Sadly, the only ones who can affect this ruling are Congress, and it is far from a major election issue.  Let’s hope others learn the truth of this ruling, and soon.  But in the midst of such an atrocious oversight, at least those Americans most prone to police profiling had a few voices on the court to speak the truth.

Sotomayor

Texoblogosphere: Week of June 20th

The Texas Progressive Alliance looks forward to a day when it never has to mourn the victims of another mass shooting again as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the kuff sets a couple of hopefully attainable goals for Texas Democrats in 2016.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos has had it with political inaction after yet one more tragic mass shooting. Enough is enough. The carnage has got to stop. Fire the cowards who enable gun slaughter. When Political Cowardice is Lethal.

Socratic Gadfly reads Sanders’ call for election reforms and wishes he had real reform that included third parties.

The Texas Democratic Convention was held in San Antonio this past weekend, and by all accounts was underwhelming, as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs predicted.

eil at All People Have Value took his efforts to the streets to promote the value of everyday life to the corner of Cesar Chavez and Harrisburg in Houston. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Diana Wray recaps Dan Patrick’s very bad day on Twitter following the Orlando massacre.

The TSTA blog calls for educators to unite against Donald Trump.

Ben Becker has some questions for TEA Commissioner Mike Morath about the STAAR test.

Alamo Heights ISD Superintendent Kevin Brown and several of his colleagues warn that we can no longer fool ourselves into believing that just because many students seem to do well and graduate prepared for college and career, that we can sustain those results over time.

Scott Braddock peeks behind the curtain at the handful of rich radicals who were trying to buy this year’s legislative elections.

Nancy Sims mourns the tragedy in Orlando and asks what we all will do about it.

Kris Banks asserts that gun safety is an LGBT issue.

houston-glbt

A Voice for the Rest of Texas