Peaceful Assembly and Personal Security – Re-upped

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 for anyone that missed it the first time.

(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!

Putin’s Poodle Attacks John Lewis

Last night, Anne Laurie posted about the principled stand of Rep. John Lewis, who refuses to recognize Trump’s legitimacy. Lewis knows something about opposing evil regimes.

March 7, 1965: State troopers use clubs against participants of a civil rights voting march in Selma, Alabama at foreground right, John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is beaten by a state trooper. The day, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” is widely credited for galvanizing the nation’s leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File)

This morning, Twitler fired back:

Of course, Trump is lying about the district, which includes areas ritzy enough for Trump to hold fancy private fundraisers. “Falling apart” and “crime infested” are signals to Trump’s racist followers, just as wingnuts’ constant invocation of “Chicago” is a code.

But man, the fucking stones on that silver-spoon crybaby, to accuse a genuine American hero like John Lewis of being all talk and no action. That fucker has more projection than Carmike.

Next Friday Belongs to Them

Via TPM, former Breitbart staffers are forming a Trump agenda enforcement group to “pressure lawmakers into falling into line with Donald Trump’s political agenda.” According to the report, based on a story in The Atlantic, the Breitbart staffers have formed a PAC and are creating a media arm:

The strategy [former Breitbart report Dustin] Stockton described to The Atlantic echoes the Tea Party playbook, complete with organized town hall confrontations and a team of reporters that would “ambush” unfriendly lawmakers. The group also had brainstormed giving out “Trump Enforcement Posse” or “Trump Enforcement Team” badges as donor rewards, according to the report.

Why not brown shirts? Still, they may find it harder to whip up angry mobs with their own gelatinous orange blob in the Oval Office instead of the uppity black fellow.

Meanwhile, Trump resistors have their own guide, which I’ve seen linked here a time or two [PDF link]. The tactics it advocates (showing up at local congressional offices, calling congresscritters, etc.) have already borne fruit. Despite what some moronic reporting implied, Trump didn’t get congressional Republicans to halt plans to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics or stop trying to ramrod cabinet picks through without proper vetting: We did.

We have to remember that the teaturds were a minority of cranks, yet highly effective because they were committed in their opposition to a president who won in a landslide and was enacting broadly popular policies. We’re the majority, and we’re opposing a malignant clown who lost the popular vote by nearly three million and his conflicted, compromised hangers-on who want to enact unpopular policies.

If we stay committed and connected, we win. And then tomorrow belongs to us.

Sky-High Open Thread

Faithful Balloon Juice reader (and occasional commenter) cope sent the following beautiful predawn photo of Venus and the crescent moon:

Hope the appearance of a crescent moon in Cole’s Twitter feed doesn’t bring the anti-Islam hysterics down on our host’s head. He has enough to contend with, given the unruly menagerie and impending relocation.

I know we’re all dreading next week’s transfer of power from a decent and thoughtful man to a walking collection of untreated personality disorders. We’re all dealing with that in our own ways.

But though our party may be as shattered as our spirits and the barbarians on the other side are as gleeful as a pack of meth-addled skunks rolling in a dumpster of rotten citrus fruit, I believe we have hidden strengths — and that our opponents have grievous weaknesses — that will soon become apparent.

Anyhoo, the thread: it is as open as the coastal sky.

Another Standard Falls?

Is it common for U.S. presidents to use public communication venues to openly shill for companies owned by their supporters? I can’t recall such a case, but perhaps I’ve missed it. Anyhoo, this morning:

The backstory is that Linda Bean, a board member who owns a company stake but doesn’t participate in its daily operations, is a Trump super-donor — so super that she violated the law to bankroll Trump. As a result of that publicity, L.L. Bean was added to the Grab Your Wallet boycott list of companies that sell Trump merchandise or whose owners fund Trump.

L.L. Bean’s chairman, Shawn Gorman, appealed the company’s placement on the list on Facebook last weekend. From the Portland Press Herald:

Shawn Gorman, executive chairman of the L.L. Bean board and great grandson of company founder Leon Leonwood Bean, posted a statement on Facebook late Sunday night saying he was “deeply troubled” by the portrayal of the company and called the boycott campaign by Grab Your Wallet “misguided.” He said L.L. Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters or make political contributions.

“We fully acknowledge and respect that some may disagree with the political views of a single member of our 10-person board of directors,” Gorman wrote. “Like most large families, the more than 50 family member-owners of the business hold views and embrace causes across the political spectrum, just as our employees and customers do. And as every member of the family would agree, no individual alone speaks on behalf of the business or represents the values of the company that (Leon Leonwood Bean) built.”

Well, if Gorman hoped to contain the PR damage, Trump just dropped a huge turd on that communication strategy. I probably buy more shit online from L.L. Bean than any other single store, and I closed my account this morning and told them why.

It’s not that one crackpot Bean family member supports Trump — I understand all too well that we can’t choose our relatives. But the man who will be POTUS in eight days has no goddamned business hawking products made by his supporters. “Unseemly” and “inappropriate” seem too weak a description for that kind of shamelessness.

Also, is it okay to call Trump a fascist now? I’ve had pushback on the use of that term since the classic definition of fascism includes economic control. He’s not even sworn in yet, but Trump is personally meddling in industries, bending companies to his will and setting up his family members and hangers-on to profit massively from his presidential power. Duck, quack, walk, etc.

President-elect Trump’s 11:00 AM EST January 2017 Press Conference Live Feed

The President-elect is scheduled to hold a press conference at 11:00 AM EST today. Here’s the live feed:

It is currently streaming the Chao confirmation hearings.

The purpose of today’s press conference is, ostensibly, for the President-elect to publicly delineate how he is going to deal with his business interests and holdings as President and then, one would expect, take questions. Given the CNN reporting yesterday afternoon, followed by the release of further related information well into this morning, I’m not sure that anyone knows exactly what may or may not happen.

As a national security professional, what I would like to see is the President-elect address the now long standing and ongoing allegations regarding his connection to Russia. If the allegations are spurious, as he and his team have claimed every time they’ve come up, or if there is a straightforward and simple explanation that can be made, he needs to make it. I think a lot of the foreign, defense, and national security policy concerns that many across the political spectrum have with the President-elect’s longstanding policy preferences dating back to 1987 arise from all of the smoke around the claims of Russian connections and interference for Russia’s, not the US’s, not the President-elect’s, interests.

As I’ve noted in previous posts, the President-elect has had a long standing belief that the US’s allies and partners have been taking advantage of us and that our treaty and statutory alliances and agreements need to be revisited. He has an almost as long standing belief that the US and the then USSR should partner to deal with the threat of nuclear proliferation from non-superpower nations. And he has had a consistent stated preference for creating something of a bilateral partnership with Russia against ISIL throughout the campaign and into the transition as part of improved relations with Russia.

Throughout the campaign and the transition I’ve been somewhere between confused and concerned by what I’ve seen articulated by the President-elect as his foreign, defense, and national security policy preferences because they represent such a large break with longstanding US policy preferences under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. I would be a lot less worried if the seeming, alleged, rumored, Russian connections were put to bed. I completely understand that a lot of ego is tied up in running for public office, let alone the Presidency. And that winning the electoral college, but not the popular vote would be troubling to any incoming President even if they were not a political neophyte.  But the responses from the President-elect and his team on these questions have been inadequate throughout the campaign and the transition. From CNN’s reporting this appears to be one of the reasons that the two page annex summarizing the former MI6 officer’s oppo research was included in the classified report and briefings to the President, the President-elect, and the Gang of Eight on Russian active measures, desinformaziya, and kompromat in the 2016 US elections. The leaders of the US Intel Community wanted it made explicit to the current and outgoing President, the President-elect and his National Security Team, and to the Republican and Democratic leadership of the House and Senate and both chambers Intelligence Committees that this material existed, it presents an ongoing threat to both political parties and to the US and its interests, and could still be used. And I would add: regardless of whether any of it is true, false, or a combination of the two. As CNN reported (emphasis mine):

One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.
These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.
The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.

There will always be breaks or changes or adjustments to policy from Presidential Administration to Presidential Administration, depending on who is elected, from which party, and what is actually going on. But the changes that President-elect Trump has either long argued for, or argued for throughout his campaign, would be a lot easier to understand if he and his upcoming Presidency were removed from under the cloud of alleged, possible influence by a hostile foreign power.

Twitler in the Bunker

Here’s how the brittle narcissist who will be President of the United States in nine days spent his morning so far:

So the man who owes his squeaker EC victory in part to fake news is shrieking that he’s the victim of fake news. We’re supposed to dismiss the intel reports on the say-so of the foreign autocrat who allegedly has Twitler by the short-n-curlies.

We’re supposed to take Trump’s word for it that he has no business dealings with Russia, even though he refuses to release his tax returns and other financial information that could verify the claim, and one of his own sociopathic whelps is on record bragging about Russian money flowing into TrumpCo.

And the situation is comparable to Nazi Germany — with Trump as the victim.

This is real life, folks, but damned if it still doesn’t seem like some queasy nightmare conjured by late-night pizza and cheap booze.