Saturday Morning Open Thread: Best Wishes to All Marchers!

Anybody takes pics they want to share, email jpgs to me or TaMara and we’ll front-page them. I’m guessing BettyC will have some shots of her own to share, too!

Rebecca Traister, in NYMag, on “The Complicated, Controversial, Historic, Inspiring Women’s March“:

…[T]he media’s treatment of the march has been so fretful that you’d be forgiven for thinking that this grass-roots demonstration of hundreds of thousands on behalf of women’s rights is an example of feminism in crisis and disarray.

“From the beginning the only question the media wanted to ask us was whether we had a permit,” said Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American Muslim activist who is one of the four national co-chairs. It was almost funny, the fetishization of the question of whether thousands of angry women literally had permission to show up and protest. Sarsour felt it was indicative of a basic distrust of women as serious activists and organizers. “Logistics became the main focus,” she said. “As if women were not sophisticated enough to know how to obtain permits. I was like, ‘Can someone ask me about my principles and values?’”

The idea that this march is disorganized in some unique or particularly problematic way, Sarsour said, is particularly rich, given that there are about 30 women on the national steering committee, talking to around 400 organizers of marches around the country. “Many of us had never met before this march planning,” she said. “The idea that we were supposed to immediately and seamlessly bring strangers together in a kumbaya march team, when we’re from different backgrounds, have different experiences, religious backgrounds, are from inner cities and suburbs, is crazy. We’re organizing what is going to be the largest mass mobilization any administration has seen on its first day.”…

After the permits were obtained, Sarsour noted, the coverage turned to how contentious the dialogue among organizers and participants was. “As if this contentious dialogue in the women’s movement is by accident,” she laughed. “Contentious dialogue is by design.” To the organizers, the point is pushing hundreds of thousands of marchers to think harder about the connectedness of gender to race, to immigration, to criminal-justice reform and climate policy, to create dialogue among people who could and should be allies on many of these issues, to try to push feminism toward a transformational step…

The way the women’s movement is different from other social movements is in its size and the unwieldy scope of its mission: to represent not an oppressed minority, but a subjugated majority. To campaign on behalf of just over half the population is by definition to build an enterprise on conflicting interests and perspectives and experiences, to try to bind together people who come from divergent backgrounds, who sometimes resent and disagree with each other. And its immensity and diversity is used against it by those who fear its potential power. As Gloria Steinem, who has signed on as an honorary co-chair of the march, told me, “Because it’s a majority movement, it’s subject to the same divide-and-conquer tactics that colonial powers used on countries — turning races, classes, and generations against each other, the myth that women can’t get along and are our own worst enemies.”…

The women’s movement has survived not in spite of its cacophony, but because of it: Because those who have pushed the movement from inside to change and grow and be better — even when they don’t always agree on what better means — have helped us meet the shifting forms of inequity from era to era. The women’s movement has won women’s rights to self-determination, to economic and educational opportunity, to sexual freedom, to reproductive autonomy, to professional opportunity, to legal protection from violence, rape, assault, discrimination, and harassment. And on Saturday, today’s iteration of the women’s movement will give body and voice and form to those who resist this incoming president and his attempts to roll back the rights of women, people of color, and immigrants…

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What’s on the agenda for the day — March-related or otherwise?



Trump’s EO on the ACA

The Trump administration issued its first executive order. The subject is the ACA. The order seeks to destabilize the non-subsidized and off-Exchange portions of the risk pool by minimizing enforcement of the individual mandate.  Dan Diamond at Politico had the first link to the actual order that I saw:

Section 2 is the critical component for the individual market. Section 3 has significant impact for both Exchanges and Medicaid.

Analysis below the fold:
Read more



Peaceful Assembly & Personal Security: Threepeat

I know a number of you all are planning to join one of the marches that will begin taking place between now through, and then after, the inauguration. So I wanted to re-up the post – again – for anyone that missed it the first and second time.

Everyone be safe out there!

(Originally posted on 18 December 2016)

Congress shall make no law… abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — Amendment 1, Bill of Rights, US Constitution

One of our readers/commenters emailed me about a week ago and asked if I would put up a post about personal security for those going to peaceably assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. I put a list together and ran it past a select group of our Balloon Juice legal eagles (those I’ve corresponded with before/have corresponded with me, so if you didn’t get asked, don’t be insulted I didn’t want to just impose on you with a cold request) – thank you all for getting back to me. Here’s my list of what I think anyone going to peacefully assemble should do to enhance their personal security.

  1. Go with a buddy, that way you have at least one person looking out for you/watching your back and vice versa.
  2. Carry cash and make sure to carry a valid picture ID!
  3. Bring a pocket flashlight.
  4. Get and wear a go pro that is automatically updating to the cloud.
  5. Bring a pocket charger for your cell phone and go pro regardless of whether it is supposed to be a long day.
  6. Make sure your personal electronic devices all have sufficient password protection and encryption on them. And have them set to upload to the cloud at a regular interval.
  7. Turn off fingerprint access to unlock your phone and delete your finger prints from the memory. Some jurisdictions allow law enforcement to compel you to unlock your phone if it has finger print based access. Or get a disposable phone just for this occasion.
  8. Turn off your phone and other personal electronic devices option to connect to known wifi as it can be used as a way to fail your encryption.
  9. Bring a bandana or neck gaiter and water so you can make a make shift gas mask in case things get out of hand and tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
  10. Bring a bottle of saline eye rinse in case you need to rinse your eyes out if tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
  11. Bring plenty of water and some snacks to make sure you’re properly hydrated and you’ve got enough fuel in your system to get through the day.
  12. Dress in layers so you are prepared for the weather and make sure you have good shoes/boots and a change of socks in case they should get wet. A set of silk base layer undersocks is a good idea regardless of the weather. They’ll help keep your feet warm or cool as needed and they’ll provide some protection in case your shoes/boots and socks get wet. And something to keep the back of your neck and your ears warm if you’re going to be someplace cold.
  13. Bring/wear a hat to keep the sun off your head or to keep it warm depending on the weather.
  14. Bring/wear eye protection. Specifically sunglasses that are impact rated. (You should be able to pick up military surplus ones pretty cheap).
  15. Sunscreen, skin moisturizer, and lip balm. Even if its cold you’ll need these.
  16. If you need to take regular/routine prescription medication: bring it in its original container, with the prescription details on the label. If its a gel based application and comes in a packet, make sure you’ve got a hard copy of the prescription with you.
  17. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You don’t have to be paranoid, but have a sufficient level of situational awareness. If something looks and/or feels hinky or the hair on the back of your neck stands up, head on home or go get a drink or go back to your hotel. Know who and what is around you, keep your valuables in front pockets or in secure/securable purses/bags, and keep those where they can’t be easily snatched or accessed.
  18. Have a contact plan for both linking up and communicating in case one gets separated from anyone you’re with.
  19. Have a contact plan to stay in touch with someone who isn’t at the march, but knows that you’re there and a regular set of contact times.
  20. Have a lawyer you can contact if necessary and that your outside contact could contact if you don’t check in. Make sure you have all of your contact’s phone numbers memorized in case your phone is damaged or taken by law enforcement should the worst happen and you’re arrested.
  21. Bring a sharpie to take down badge numbers if necessary. And if necessary write them on your hand.

Should the worst happen and you get caught up in a peaceable assembly that suddenly turns not so peaceable:

  1. Do not resist law enforcement. Just do what they say, let your arms go limp, and do what you can to avoid a reflex response to resist – that can get you charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.
  2. Be respectful and polite when dealing with the authorities – law enforcement, the National Park Service, whoever.
  3. If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer and then shut up. Do not say anything else or answer any other questions until your lawyer arrives. In fact let the lawyer do the talking.

One last item: some of you probably carry a pocket knife or multitool everywhere. Or everywhere that you’re normally allowed. I would recommend not carrying anything on your possession that could be construed as a concealed weapon or even an openly carried one. Even if you’re in a state/jurisdiction that allows for concealed or open carry of knives and/or other weapons – don’t. Being part of a march or peaceful assembly that turns ugly is not a good time to attempt firearms (or knife) normalization.

Stay Frosty!



A personal note on policy evaluation

I want to lay out one of my key heuristics for policy analysis and evaluation for the next four years. But first I need to go back a little in my life to two time periods.

1992 sucked for my family. I am one of five kids. My mom worked a retail job as she was mainly trying to get all of us going in the right direction while managing half a dozen minor chronic conditions between all of us. My dad was a union electrician. Construction is a pro-cyclical industry so when times were good, they were very good and when times are slow, they are really bad. The 80s were good as Boston boomed. The late 80s after the S&L crisis plus the overbuildout of Boston sucked. He was able to get the occasional side job and short term position as an electrician and had already started to work as a cabinet maker, a newspaper deliverer and half a dozen other side jobs and hustles to hold on. We were waiting for the Big Dig to really ramp up as that would clear a log jam on the job list at the union hall.

I remember crying in happiness one day when my parents decided to get me a treat of sweet canned corn instead of frozen corn. We had not had my favorite type of corn in so long as the extra thirty cents a pound was too much of a lift.

Now fast forward.

Mid-2008 my wife had gotten laid off as her organization got a new CEO who wanted to quickly leave their mark for decisiveness and wiped out several profitable but not exciting departments. She was pregnant with our daughter. I was working as a program evaluator for a behavioral health care coordination program. It was funded by a federal grant that was due to run out at the end of FY09. We were trying to transition our funding to local and foundation money. By mid-2009, my wife was working part time at a position far below her skill level, our daughter was happy making faces at her parents, and there was absolutely no local or foundation money as 51 mini-Hoovers were in effect for state level austerity. I got laid off. The next year I stayed home with our daughter as the combination of unemployment insurance and not paying for daycare that was the best solution possible.

Now fast forward.

The past six years have been great for my family. My career has taken off. My wife’s career has launched. We have two great kids. We have stability and we have a cushion. Yesterday the induction motor on the furnace failed after a good eighteen years of service. I was able to grumble and mumble as I wrote a check to the HVAC technician but writing that check had no impact on my family’s financial stability. We’re in good shape.

Some of this is a humble brag. But most of this is how my policy evaluation heuristic is formed. If a policy helps 2009 Me or 1992 Me out more than it helps present day me out, I’m most likelyfor it. If 2017 Me is advantaged over either 2009 or 1992 Me, I’m highly likely to be opposed to it.



Government, Meet Bathtub

It’s easy to run a government that does (next to) nothing.

Here’s where Trumpism — or really Pence-ism, or really, exactly what the GOP has been promising (threatening) will have its most immediate, and quite possibly its most damaging impact:

Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

The NEH and NEA cuts are at once symbolic — the GOP is killing stuff liberals like, which is reward enough in those quarters — and, I think, intended to distract from other hugely reckless choices:

The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs: the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The total savings from cutting these four programs would amount to nearly $900 million in 2017.

At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.

At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.

The single most important point I can make is that this is the Kansas-ification of America.  This isn’t a Trump policy choice.  This is Mike Pence shepherding plans the Republican Party has been trying to implement for years, decades even.  I doubt it will all get through, but much of it will, I’d guess, and when it does we will need to hang every shitty outcome and terrible choice around the neck of every Republican officeholder.

This is what they want. This is what they told us they wanted. They’re likely going to get it, to some approximation.  And they’re going to have to own it, so that once again, Democrats can come in and fix the serial catastrophes we’re going to witness very damn soon.

Also, too — who wants to bet all the pieties about the deficit and restoring balance to the budget will fall to the tax cuts to come?

Fuck it.  I’m heading back to the seventeenth century.

Image: Francesco de Rossi, Bathesheba at her Bath1552-1554.



Open Thread: Prepping for the Women’s March

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Advice for the locals, from the Washington Post:

Thousands of people are expected to be in the region Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, an event that could draw larger crowds than Inauguration Day itself, and present travel challenges for participants and residents.

Drivers will encounter day-long— and rolling— road closures near the Mall and public transit users should expect long waits at Metro stations and crowding on platforms and trains…

Metro announced Wednesday that trains will start running at 5 a.m. and up to two dozen trains will be added to accommodate the crowds. (The transit agency had originally said it would run regular Saturday service, which meant stations opening at 7 a.m.)

Demonstrators will gather for a rally at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue on the morning after the transfer of power to president-elect Donald Trump. The crowds will then march along the National Mall to The Ellipse, near the Washington Monument. Thousands of people are expected at the event, which organizers say is not a protest but a way to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups.”

The location: The stage will be on 3rd Street and Independence Avenue by the National Museum of the American Indian.

The program:
8 a.m.— activities start with images and video on display.
9 a.m. — pre-rally with speakers, music and public service announcements.
10 a.m. — the official rally starts, featuring celebrities including Katy Perry, Cher, America Ferrera and Uzo Aduba
1 p.m. — participants start marching toward The Ellipse where the program will end.

The March route: The group will begin to walk from the gathering location around 1 p.m. and march west on Independence Avenue SW, from 3rd Street SW, to 14th Street SW; then will turn north on 14th Street SW to Constitution Avenue NW; and will march west on Constitution Avenue NW to 17th Street NW, near the Ellipse and Washington Monument, where the events will come an end…

More information on parking, public transit, bike routes, and a list of banned items at the link.

Anybody who takes photos they want to share — either in DC, or at the Sister Marches — send them to me or TaMara and we’ll put them on the front page.

ETA, by request
: Here’s Adam Silverman’s post on ‘Peaceful Assembly and Personal Security‘.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Encourage Dissent


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A note from commentor Lizzy L:

For those worried about ACA coverage for themselves and their families…. After hearing about the midnight repeal of the pre-existing conditions clause, a friend of mine called Senator Warren’s office. The woman she spoke to said they are being flooded with calls, as are the offices of Speakers Ryan and McConnell.

Senator Warren’s staff member told her that what would help the most would be to call the five Republican senators who have broken away from the GOP to demand a slow down of the repeal. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts to stop this train wreck! If this issue affects you or someone you love, share your story with the staffer who answers the phone. (Remember the time difference when you call.)

The senators are:
Senator Bob Corker – (202) 224-3344
Senator Lisa Murkowski – (202) 224-6665
Senator Rob Portman – (202) 224-3353
Senator Susan Collins – (202) 224-2523
Senator Bill Cassidy – (202) 224-5824

if you call the number and get VM, one approach would be to leave an appreciative and encouraging message. I know people who prefer to do that, since calling a Representative’s office often means waiting on hold for a loooong time.

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Apart from encouragement — and resistance — what’s on the agenda for the day?
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