Wednesday Morning Open Thread: “Nevertheless, She Persisted”

It’s not as though Mitch McConnell would be going down in the record books for any positive actions, after all. Given the history of Southern racists’ fragile ‘honor’, I suppose we should be grateful these ‘gentlemen’ are no longer allowed to carry weapons in the chamber. Per the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans passed a party-line rebuke Tuesday night of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for a speech opposing attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, striking down her words for impugning the Alabama senator’s character.

In an extraordinarily rare move, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) interrupted Warren’s speech, in a near-empty chamber as debate on Sessions’s nomination heads toward a Wednesday evening vote, and said that she had breached Senate rules by reading past statements against Sessions from figures such as the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the late Coretta Scott King….

“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation,” he said. “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Other Democrats later came to her defense and tried to have King’s letter placed into the Senate record. But Republican senators quickly objected. They did so again when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the chamber’s only African American woman, asked that Warren be allowed to resume participation in the debate…

Public reaction quickly intensified online., an online clothing website for independent designers, began selling a “She Persisted” T-shirt or sweatshirt — seizing on McConnell’s admonition of Warren. Democrats began using #LetLizSpeak on Twitter and posted copies of King’s letter on Facebook to draw more attention to Warren’s speech…

(Olivia Pope would’ve told McConnell he was making a serious mistake, one suspects.)

Open Thread: #MichiganMen (Totally Not Terrorists)

I owe some commentor a hat tip for this link to the Detroit News:

Two men were arrested Sunday after allegedly walking into the Dearborn Police Department wearing tactical vests and armed with cameras, an AP-14 and handgun.

Video shot by one of the men shows a brief but tense standoff…

Dearborn police were called Sunday afternoon to the shopping district near Ford and Southfield to investigate a report of “two suspicious men in a vehicle wearing tactical vests and masks,” officials said in a statement Monday.

The men left the area before officers arrived, but a police sergeant later spotted their vehicle in a park around three miles away. He conducted a brief traffic stop and did not see any visible weapons.

After being released, the suspects went to the police station to “make a complaint,” according to video posted online.

“So we’re here, outside the Dearborn Police station. We’re going to go in and make a complaint because we were illegally pulled over about an hour ago,” said a man identified by police as a 24 year old resident of Leonard, Mich. “We felt a little afraid for our lives when we were pulled over, so we figured we better protect ourselves.”

The man, his face hidden in a mask and his eyes behind sunglasses, held his camera out to reveal a large rifle strapped to his chest. Accompanying him was a 40 year old Jackson, Mich. resident who was unarmed but also clad in a tactical vest with cameras rolling.

Police have not named either suspect. They are free Monday on $1,500 bonds, but officials did not disclose their charges…

… because ‘being a godsdamned menace to yourselves and everyone around you’ is not in the criminal codes, worse luck.

Yes, as you may recall, Dearborn was (as of the 2000 census) almost 30% Arab-American and the site of North America’s largest mosque. Jackson, on the other hand… houses the state prison, which used to be the single major employer in the region. Twenty-odd years ago (when I was still a Michigander) the local welcome-to-Jackson signs changed their message from “You may never leave!” to “We like it here,” for some reason.

The nimrods in question seem to be open-carry advocates hoping to spread their message. Anyone wanna bet things might’ve gone a bit differently if a couple swarthy-complected fellas decided to walk into the Jackson police headquarters, waving their penis extenders?

And no I do *not* think it is a coincidence that the President-Asterisk’s minions just removed white nationalists from the official terrorism watch list…

Friday Morning Open Thread: “Routine Resistance”

From the Washington Post, “Thousands demonstrated against Trump in Philly“:

The rally didn’t start until 11 a.m., but Jackie Hamilton and Barb Beattie had shown up to the downtown plaza by 9:45 a.m. Planning to march in support of the Affordable Care Act, the retired schoolteachers donned attire that they sensed, wearily, would get a lot of use over the next four years.

“Ready?” asked Beattie, 68, putting on the pink knit hat she’d acquired for the Women’s March on Washington just days earlier.

“I feel like we’re being stirred up,” said Hamilton, also 68, adjusting the pink sash she got at the same place. “Trump is stirring us up and distracting us with all of his — whatever — and meanwhile Congress . . .” She trailed off. “I’m so angry. I can’t believe we’re having to deal with all this stuff. Still. Again.”

Several thousand protesters converged Thursday in Philadelphia, hoping to have their voices heard by President Trump and Republican members of Congress, who were meeting in a hotel blocks away to plan their legislative agenda for the coming months…

[M]arching — an age-old protest strategy — has taken on new meaning as a tool against a leader who is uniquely preoccupied by numbers and size.

The crowd that gathered in Thomas Paine Plaza focused on one of the most aggressive measures of the new Republican administration — an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Signs at the rally protested this plan but raised other angers as well, residual and new: “Scientists Against Trump.” “Not a Journalist, and I want to see your tax returns.” “Stand Up Against Alternative Facts.”

Organizers said that about 5,000 people showed up in response to their invitation to try to disrupt the new president’s first jaunt away from the White House. The protests appeared to unfold peacefully, with no reports of widespread arrests or clashes…

The WaPo‘s local-color area columnist, speaking for the worker bees in the city whose monopoloy industry is national politics:

Meetings? Deadlines? Schedules? All plans are soft in the District, a city where people chanting in the streets or rappelling off construction cranes bring traffic to a halt. The working world is feeling it. #Thisisnotnormal.

I have to confess that I’ve always been a street protest skeptic… But this time feels different. Keep it up, protesters, because this time, it’s working. You’re getting to him.

This daily public humiliation — the massive, televised rejection of the direction of this administration — Donald Trump cares about that…

He’s a showman, a ringmaster, a ratings junkie. And nothing angers an attention addict more than a bigger, louder show next door.

This is Trump’s language.

It’s not going to change policy, but it will rankle and distract him. And it will signal to the rest of the world that most of America isn’t on board the lying train to Absurdistan…


Apart from buckling down for the long haul, what’s on the agenda as we await the Friday news dump (now with extra NPD-ism)?

Breaking News: Gag Order for US Department of Agriculture Lifted

The Department of Agriculture has reportedly lifted an order that called for scientists and employees of its research arm not to release any of its work to the public.

After a report that the agency had told staff to stop releasing any “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” BuzzFeed reported that another memo was sent Tuesday night from a top official for the department’s Agricultural Research Service that the original order should not have been issued and “is hereby rescinded.”

Prior to the memo, the agency disavowed the gag order, calling it “flawed” and indicating that new guidance would be sent to its employees.

“This internal email was released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued,” the USDA said in a statement.

“ARS will be providing updated direction to its staff. ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.”

Phone lines are open. Operators are standing by…


I’ve got the ‘flu EVEN THOUGH I LET THEM TALK ME INTO A GODSDAMNED FLU SHOT, and the pictures and stories here are the only things that have taken me out of the misery, however briefly.

First, a note from Claudia:

Hi, just wanted to let you know that the March in Chicago was cancelled after a larger than expected crowd showed up. According to organizers the route was flooded with people and they couldn’t march so they turned it into a rally in Grant Park. The organizers expected about 50k, they’re estimating about 150k showed up. It’s now just a rally. Here’s a link to the Chicago Tribune coverage: “Thousands fill Loop after Women’s March rally in Chicago draws 250,000”

That’s as many people as showed up for the President-Asterisk’s inaugural yesterday — and the Women’s March didn’t have to pay seat-fillers!

Judy Little sends shots from the Boston March. Two-sided signs:

And a threat to chill the hardest spirit:

From O. Felix Culpa,

Howdy! Here are pictures from the Santa Fe march. We had at least 10,000 (I’ve seen estimates as high as 14,000), which is darn good for a small city in a state of only 2 million. There were also marches in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Farmington, and a bunch of New Mexicans bused it to D.C.

Photos are:
1. Me
2. A mother/daughter pair in matching pussyhats
3. Santa Fe crowd scene

Emoluments question

I am not a lawyer. But I have a legal question regarding the emoluments clause that could be the start of a constitutional confrontation. Lawyers in the audience, please tell me where I am going wrong in the following scenario?

Let us assume a foreign government official without diplomatic immunity from Fredonia stays at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. tonight. The Trump Hotel is still owned by the President. He had not given a credit card to hold the room. The foreign official is conscientious and checks out tomorrow morning. He receives a charge for the room. He refuses to pay for the room as it would be an emolument. He offers to place the money into escrow until the dispute can be resolved.

At that point the hotel management has two choices. Eat the loss to not embarrass the boss or initiate civil or criminal action to get the room fee? If they choose the second option, the entire question of what is an emolument has to be answered. Is that correct?

What am I missing here? And if I am not missing anything big, how do we recruit a good test case?

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!