The first night of the Democratic National Convention featured rousing tributes to Hillary Clinton, blistering critiques of Donald Trump — and a chorus of boos from Bernie Sanders delegates at invocations to vote for Clinton, even when they came from Sanders himself.
Many commentators wondered why the Sanders delegates persisted in their protest, weeks after their nominee had conceded the election to presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
The answer may rest in a step that Sanders himself took.
In the lead-up to the convention, the Sanders campaign worked with both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to help write the party’s platform. Those meetings featured debates between the Sanders and Clinton teams, and while there was progress on many issues, there were many more where Team Sanders suffered defeats — including opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, banning fracking, and enacting a carbon tax.
Throughout this process, Sanders openly considered bringing key issues where he was stymied to the convention floor itself, by submitting what is called a “minority plank.” That would have allowed his campaign to submit platform proposals to the floor for a vote among all delegates.
This is a process that has been used before, with some success. In 1948, Hubert Humphrey forced the Democratic Party leadership to add support for civil rights to the platform by using the minority plank procedure, which ended up boosting black turnout for the Democrats in the following election. In 1984 and 1988, the insurgent Jesse Jackson campaign mobilized its delegates to stage floor fights on a whole host of issues.
Fighting over the platform on the floor would have offered Bernie delegates the chance to continue doing what they do best — organize and make change. They would have had an opportunity to argue over issues the movement cared deeply about and possibly even move the Democratic Party in ways that Bernie’s inside negotiations with the DNC failed to.
But on July 10, Sanders’s campaign released a triumphant statement, calling the platform the “most progressive” in the Democratic Party’s history. On July 12, the Sanders campaign then abruptly ended its talk of a convention fight over the issues. “As a result of our success and the realization that further platform fights would be portrayed in the corporate media as obstructionist and divisive, the senator made the very difficult decision not to file minority reports,” Sanders policy chief Warren Gunnels wrote to key supporters.
But fighting those fights might well have been less “obstructionist and divisive” than the booing — and the unresolved frustrations the booing represented.
Sanders delegates, when deprived of the opportunity to work to improve the Democratic Party at the convention, booed because it was the only outlet they had.
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The chants told the story as Bernie Sanders took the stage at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Monday afternoon, a few hours before the opening of the Democratic National Convention.
“Bernie or bust!”
“Take it to the floor!”
At least 300 Sanders partisans were in the ballroom, and more were gathered outside.
Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier this month. But his delegates are having a hard time letting go.
They liked it when Sanders said, “What we want to achieve is nothing less than a transformation of American society.” To cheers, he called for higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and no congressional passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the remainder of Obama’s term.
But he wanted one more thing — to throw his backers’ support behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Donald Trump in the general election. The crowd responded with boos and cries of “no!”
“Brothers and sisters, this is the real world we live in,” Sanders pled. “Trump is a demagogue.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) July 25, 2016
By the end, the chants had changed to “Thank you, Bernie!” Three young men in Robin Hood hats gave some final shouts “Bernie or bust!”
“If you could vote for Clinton, Trump, or stay home, which would you do?” I asked one of them, Sean Comfort, a Sanders-pledged delegate from Washington.
“We’re going to see how the convention runs and then we’ll see,” Comfort replied.
Sanders backers got some of the concessions they wanted from the Democratic National Committee. This year, 700 superdelegates, who are not bound by state voters, helped give Clinton a decisive edge over Sanders in the primary campaign. In the 2020 election, that number will be reduced to 250. The DNC also agreed to appoint a commission to study the possibility of opening up the party’s primaries to Republican and independent voters, another one of Sanders’s complaints.
Another Sanders supporter said he was ready to follow the recommendation of his favorite and cast his vote for Clinton. “Handing the White House over to Donald Trump and this Republican Party is not an option,” said Chris Pumpelly, a Sanders delegate from Kansas. “It is not acceptable as someone who believes in progressive and American values.”
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If the Democratic nominee were chosen by those who showed up in the streets of Philadelphia to protest the convention, there would be one uncontested winner. “The people want Bernie,” read a sign at a rally Sunday that drew the same enamored crowds that turned out for the Vermont senator along the primary trail. The sign summed up the general sentiment of the crowd, as the rally grew into the thousands and began marching from City Hall in 93-degree weather. As the DNC kicked off, downtown Philadelphia was all about Bernie.
Hillary Clinton’s name and image showed up mostly in signs and chants saying “Never Hillary,” “Warlord,” and “Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary.” Last week’s DNC email leaks and the ensuing party scandal spilled into the streets, leaving Bernie supporters bitter and upset, and prompting calls for a “Demsexit” from the party. Using the same slogans seen at the Republican convention in Cleveland, some Bernie supporters sported “Hillary for Prison” shirts.
Of course, it won’t be the crowds in Philadelphia — largely white, as was the case on the campaign trail — that determine the nominee. But the number of protesters claiming they will always be with Sanders, and the growing chorus of those considering a switch to the Green Party’s Jill Stein, should be cause for concern for a party that’s losing legitimacy with many supporters. On Sunday, a group of “Black Men for Bernie” carried a DNC coffin. On Monday night, a candlelight vigil will mourn “the death of democracy.”
As protesters made clear on Sunday, and then again at another pro-Sanders rally on Monday morning, they won’t vote for Clinton just to avoid a Trump presidency, and the Democratic Party better not take their vote for granted.
That’s a position that has been met with ire and ridicule by many Clinton supporters and party loyalists, accusing Sanders die-hards of blind privilege and blaming them for a potential Trump victory. But many of those showing up in Philadelphia are not interested in “voting for the lesser of two evils,” as several people defined their options.
“If your conscience lies elsewhere, you need to vote that way,” said Jeremy Thompson, a computer engineer from New Hampshire who took a Megabus to Philadelphia for the day, after the event transportation company Rally Bus canceled dozens of booked trips at the last minute. “Right now we have organized political parties that are ignoring the masses. If you vote the Democratic bill just because you think you have to oppose Trump, then you’re encouraging the Democratic Party to repeat the same horrific maneuvers they did this year and repeating the process of signing over our democracy out of fear.”
Thompson said he was “horrified” at the prospect of a Trump presidency — but that he won’t blame himself if that happens. That’s on the Democratic Party, he said.
“People might write in Bernie, they might write in Mickey Mouse, or they might vote for Jill Stein, but they’re not going to vote for Hillary just because the Democratic Party has engineered a situation where that’s their only choice,” he added.
While protesters at Monday morning’s rally agreed on their candidate of choice — some even holding out hope for an improbable reversal on the convention floor — there was less consensus on what to do next.
Some added “Or Jill” to old Vote Bernie signs, and many lifelong Democrats said this election cycle has left them irreparably disillusioned with a party that fails to reflect their values.
“If the Democratic Party is going to be corrupt, I’ll leave the Democratic Party and join a new party,” said 24-year-old Anthony Crosby, who had planned the trip from Colorado before Sanders endorsed Clinton and held a sign saying “We’re still with you Bernie.”
“I was a little upset he endorsed Hillary, but he didn’t concede. He didn’t drop out, and I’m not going to give up on him.” Crosby said he believes a Clinton or Trump presidency would be “equally bad.”
“I think they’re about the same. Hillary is just as bad, she gets away with a lot of stuff that is above the law,” he said. “I’m not going to vote for someone I don’t believe in.”
But others at the rally, as fervent in their support for Sanders, wouldn’t go that far, and many said they simply “don’t know” what they’ll do in November.
“That’s a terrifying thing for me to think about,” said Caitlin Codini, who crowdfunded her trip from Seattle. “I’ve always said that I would support Hillary Clinton for those two seconds in that voting booth if it came down to it, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to that, because I really don’t want to do it.”
“And I also don’t want Donald Trump to be president,” she added.
Codini had attached a “still” sign to her Feel the Bern poster. But asked whether Sanders himself was still “feeling the Bern,” she seemed more uncertain. “God, I hope so.”
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A group of Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention announced their discontent with the selection of Tim Kaine as the vice presidential nominee on Monday and signaled they might protest that decision on the convention floor.
Calling themselves the Independent Bernie Delegates Network, the group includes 1,250 Sanders delegates — about two-thirds of the total Sanders delegate count — who have been organized by RootsAction.org and Progressive Democrats of America. The group is holding snap straw polls among its members to help inform options for its actions at the convention.
In a survey of the delegates taken 10 days ago, just 3 percent said that Tim Kaine was an “acceptable” vice presidential choice for presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. 9 percent were undecided, and 88.percent said the choice would not be acceptable.
Sanders delegates who spoke at the event cited the choice of Kaine as evidence that Clinton is not properly reaching out to their movement. Kaine has raised the ire of progressives by supporting moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership forward and backing the expansion of offshore drilling, something that concerned California Sanders delegate Normon Solomon.
“Tim Kaine will double down on making the ticket a target the size of a very big barn for the faux false demagogic phony economic populist claims of Donald Trump,” Solomon said. “It’s really important for us to recognize where the threat from within the Democratic Party is coming from that could enable or facilitate a Trump victory which we all are so dedicated here to preventing.”
Other delegates, like Karen Bernal, one of two elected co-representatives of the California Sanders delegation, downplayed the need for party unity in lieu of changing the party itself.
“Bernie delegates came here with an entirely different agenda than the Democratic Party would like to see us be a part of,” Bernal said. Bernie delegates came not just to push a progressive agenda but also talk “about the power structure, its corruption and the fact that we utterly reject the system that we’re operating in now,” she said.
Manuel Zapata, a 29-year-old California Sanders delegate, cited the recently leaked DNC emails showing that staffers at the organization had derided the Sanders campaign as evidence of Clinton’s lack of respect for the movement.
“From the DNC’s leaked emails it’s clear…that they had the finger on the scale [for Clinton],” Zapata said. “We find it disrespectful that a madman like Donald Trump is reaching out for the progressive vote more than Hillary Clinton is.”
On Sunday, the network initiated straw polls of delegates attending the conference to ask them if they plan to take part in audible protests during the selection process of Kaine on the convention floor.
Solomon declined to share the vote totals at this time, but “it’s evident that a substantial majority of polls surveyed delegates…say they want to participate in protests on the floor” over Kaine’s selection, he said.
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As Hillary Clinton puts together what she hopes will be a winning coalition in November, many progressives remain wary — but she has the war-hawks firmly behind her.
“I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”
As the co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, Kagan played a leading role in pushing for America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, and insisted for years afterwards that it had turned out great.
Despite the catastrophic effects of that war, Kagan insisted at last week’s fundraiser that U.S. foreign policy over the last 25 years has been “an extraordinary success.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s know-nothing isolationism has led many neocons to flee the Republican ticket. And some, like Kagan, are actively helping Clinton, whose hawkishness in many ways resembles their own.
The event raised $25,000 for Clinton. Two rising stars in the Democratic foreign policy establishment, Amanda Sloat and Julianne Smith, also spoke.
The way they described Clinton’s foreign policy vision suggested that if elected president in November, she will escalate tensions with Russia, double down on military belligerence in the Middle East and generally ignore the American public’s growing hostility to intervention.
Sloat, the former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, boasted that Clinton will be “more interventionist and forward-leaning than Obama’s been” in Syria. She also applauded Clinton for doing intervention the right way, through coalitions instead of the unilateral aggression that defined the Bush years.
“Nothing that [Clinton] did was more clear than the NATO coalition that she built to defend civilians in Libya,” said Sloat, referencing the Obama administration’s overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. That policy, spearheaded by Clinton, has transformed a once stable state into a lawless haven for extremist groups from across the region, including ISIS.
Kagan has advocated for muscular American intervention in Syria; Clinton’s likely pick for Pentagon chief, Michelle Flournoy, has similarly agitated for redirecting U.S. airstrikes in Syria toward ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Smith told the audience that unlike Trump, Clinton “understands the importance of deterring Russian aggression,” which is why “I’ll sleep better with her in the chair.” She is a former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden.
Smith left the government to become senior vice president of Beacon Global Strategies, a high-powered bipartisan consulting group founded by former high-ranking national security officials.
When Robbie Martin, a filmmaker who recently produced a three-part documentary on the neoconservative movement, asked how Clinton plans to deal with Ukraine, Kagan responded enthusiastically.
“I know Hillary cares more about Ukraine than the current president does,” Kagan replied. “[Obama] said to me [that he wouldn’t arm Ukraine because] he doesn’t want a nuclear war with Russia,” he added, rolling his eyes dismissively. “I don’t think Obama cares about Putin anymore at all. I think he’s hopeless.”
Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, the Obama administration’s hardline assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland, who would likely serve in a senior position in a Clinton administration, supports shipping weapons to Ukraine despite major opposition from European countries and concerns about the neo-Nazi elements those weapons would empower.
Another thing neoconservatives and liberal hawks have in common is confidence that the foreign policy establishment is right, and the growing populist hostility to military intervention is naïve and uninformed.
Kagan complained that Americans are “so focused on the things that have gone wrong in recent years, they miss the sort of basic underlying, unusual quality of the international order that we’ve been living in.
“It’s not just Donald Trump,” Kagan said. “I think you can find in both parties a very strong sense that we don’t need to be out there anymore.”
“If, as I hope, Hillary Clinton is elected, she is going to immediately be confronting a country that is not where she is,” he said. “She is a believer in this world order. But a great section of the country is not and is going to require persuasion and education.”
Sloat agreed, arguing that “it’s dangerous” for people to draw anti-interventionist lessons from Libya and Iraq.
The Clinton-neocon partnership was solidified by Trump becoming the Republican nominee. But their affinity for each other has grown steadily over time.
The neoconservative Weekly Standard celebrated Clinton’s 2008 appointment as secretary of state as a victory for the right, hailing her transformation from “First Feminist” to “Warrior Queen, more Margaret Thatcher than Gloria Steinem.”
But the fundraiser was perhaps the most outward manifestation yet of the convergence between the Democratic foreign policy establishment and the neoconservative movement.
Hannah Morris of the liberal pro-Israel lobbying group J Street celebrated this bipartisanship as a “momentous occasion.”
“We could not be more proud to have [Kagan] here today,” she said.
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“Female on board!” the lieutenant called out, his voice booming off the concrete walls. It was the middle of shift change at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center in downtown Memphis, and the two-tiered housing unit was mostly quiet. “Female on board!” he yelled again. “That’s a PREA requirement,” Sheriff’s Department Chief Kirk Fields explained as he ushered me through the door. “Anytime the opposite sex enters the floor.”
PREA is the Prison Rape Elimination Act, sweeping federal legislation targeting the nation’s prisons and jails. Passed in 2003, the law was aimed in part at places like this — facilities for youth who present a danger to others or themselves. But while PREA has proven hard to implement, that’s not why I was there that day. Less than a year after Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham took over the detention center that sits directly above juvenile court, officials were running dangerously afoul of a different federal intervention — one designed specifically for Shelby County.
In the spring of 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice released the scathing results of a civil rights investigation into the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County (JCMSC). Almost 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that kids have the same due process rights as adults, the system in Memphis seemed frozen in time. Children received little meaningful defense representation in delinquency hearings and were subjected to hurried, ill-informed, and arbitrary decisions, including transfers to adult court. Worse, “we found that African-American children were treated differently and more harshly,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tom Perez said. While white kids who broke the law were often sent to diversion programs, black kids were more than twice as likely to be treated like adults. Those kept in custody here were subjected “to unnecessary and excessive restraint,” the DOJ report said, including the use of controversial “restraint chairs.”It was not the first time the Justice Department had found problems in Memphis.
It was not the first time the Justice Department had found problems in Memphis. In 2000, the Civil Rights Division investigated 201 Poplar, the notorious adult jail down the road, after a prisoner was gang raped and sued in federal court. Finding intolerable conditions, the DOJ assigned a federal judge to oversee changes, who concluded in 2009 that the jail had achieved “substantial compliance” with its reforms.
But this time was different. The investigation into juvenile court was the first time the DOJ invoked a little-known clause of the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act — otherwise known as the Crime Bill — that gave it authority to intervene where it found constitutional violations in a local juvenile justice system. President Barack Obama’s administration offered what Perez called a “first of its kind” deal: a Memorandum of Agreement among the court, the county, and the DOJ. It was a blueprint for reform; independent monitors would regularly visit Memphis, submitting progress reports to the DOJ. The process would end when the court achieved — and maintained for one year — “substantial compliance with all substantive provisions” of the deal. The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee predicted Shelby County would become “a model for juvenile courts systems across the country.”
But more than four years later, that lofty goal seems out of reach. By the time I came to Memphis in early June, city residents were frustrated. While there was much documented progress in the hundreds of pages of monitors’ reports since 2012, the latest round — made public in March — contained significant red flags. One monitor had found “a serious lack of movement” to address racial disparities. More alarming, in a visit to the detention center last fall, another monitor, David Roush, found an “across-the-board deterioration … since the transfer of the facility to the sheriff.” There were more assaults, more kids exhibiting suicidal behavior, and more staff “reporting that they fear for their safety.” Although the restraint chair had been swiftly abolished, there was also “a 303 percent increase in the use of mechanical restraints.”
In early April, some 200 people attended a public meeting at the Civil Rights Museum, in the shadow of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. DOJ Special Litigation Counsel Winsome Gayle had traveled from Washington to speak. Among the attendees was a rapper and activist named P. Moses, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Memphis. The longer she listened, the more she felt “it was all for show.” Moses knew the limits of a federal intervention. She had once written a tribute to a black transgender woman named Duanna Johnson, who was beaten by Memphis cops at 201 Poplar in 2008 — just one year before the DOJ quietly lifted its oversight over the jail. Johnson was later shot dead in Moses’s neighborhood. Just a few days before this meeting, Moses had learned that the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black 19-year-old during a traffic stop would be allowed to retire with a government pension after being diagnosed with PTSD. News reports suggested the DOJ was looking into the shooting, but no one had heard much since.She wanted to know why the supposedly cash-strapped juvenile court had received $250,000 from the county commission to install bulletproof safety glass in the judicial chambers.
Moses had a specific question in mind. She wanted to know why the supposedly cash-strapped juvenile court had received $250,000 from the county commission to install bulletproof safety glass in the judicial chambers. To Moses, the action held deep symbolism. If officials were fortressing themselves from the families they are supposed to serve, “What is that saying to the community about what you think of our children or what they’re gonna be in a few years?” Did they have any faith in their own agreement with the DOJ? And how are Memphians supposed to believe things will get better if the court is preparing for the worst? On the Black Lives Matter Memphis Facebook page in April, Moses posted a news report about the red flags at the detention center. “The problem is the system,” she wrote, “not the children.”
Today, far beyond Memphis, there is a growing recognition that the problems underlying crime are systemic — and that America’s criminal justice system has been a devastating failure for kids — especially kids of color. The Obama administration has sought ways to steer young people away from its grip, through initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper and the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, whose selected cities included Memphis. There is also a wider cultural backlash against decades of crime policy that said children stopped being children once they were accused of breaking a law, from the U.S. Supreme Court’s chipping away at the harshest punishments for juveniles to activists who have confronted Hillary Clinton with her past rhetoric about “superpredators.” The shift is especially consequential at the state level, where “adult time for adult crime” is increasingly seen as bad policy. The National Conference of State Legislatures has documented wide-reaching attempts to “restore jurisdiction to juvenile court.”
But as Shelby County shows, any meaningful changes will require a deeper reckoning. The DOJ’s experiment in Memphis could have been carried out in cities across the country. Last year, following the upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, after the clearing of the cop who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, the DOJ released an investigation into the juvenile justice system in St. Louis County, which exposed parallel problems to those in Memphis, including the blunt observation that “black children are treated significantly worse than white children.” At a time when Americans have looked to the Obama administration to hold law enforcement officials accountable for violence against black communities, a daunting question looms: Whose job is it to fix systemic problems that have existed for generations? And how do they do it?
As I toured the Memphis detention center in June, I had another question in mind. Why would a juvenile court under federal monitoring hand over control to the local sheriff? The transfer flew in the face of experts like Roush, the monitor who called it “accepted best practice” for kids to be detained in facilities operated by a “youth-serving parent agency … not local law enforcement.” Police are trained to exert authority and force compliance — standard in adult jails, but counterproductive at best when used on kids. It seemed like a blatant step backward.
Nevertheless, Fields and his lieutenant were eager to show that they are running a kinder and gentler jail. The cafeteria had a fresh coat of paint and a ban on talking during meals was being lifted. A Positive Behavior Management System (PBMS) was being rolled out, in which kids could earn points for privileges; bright signs posted messages like “PBMS: SEEKING SOLUTIONS, NOT BLAME.” An empty cell was now a makeshift library, with a rug and plastic chair abutting a metal toilet, and a former storage area was being used to expand Hope Academy, the court’s K-12 program. A friendly counselor showed me a monthly “newsletter” she produces, four photocopied pages printed with blurry photos of animals, a poem, and word games. One page listed three boys’ upcoming birthdays, alongside a message: “May all your dreams and wishes come true!”All the kids I saw were black. Fields, who is also black, offered an explanation for some of the alarming figures found in the monitors’ reports.
The relative quiet was at least somewhat due to a steady drop in admissions in recent years, thanks in part to the implementation of things like the Law Enforcement Assessment Phone-In — which lets police issue summons rather than arresting kids for minor offenses — and a new Detention Assessment Tool, which measures whether to hold or release kids brought into custody. The official population that afternoon was 48, an encouraging drop from Roush’s last visit, which found 81. All the kids I saw were black. Fields, who is also black, offered an explanation for some of the alarming figures found in Roush’s report. “Our policy states that anytime we put restraints on a child, it’s considered ‘use of force,’” he said. This includes such routine tasks as transporting a kid to a medical appointment, where handcuffing is “standard operating procedure.” In the interest of accuracy, Fields said, the department is now separately documenting such routine tasks from confrontational incidents.
Downstairs, I met Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael, who called the latest figures and media reports overblown. A seventh report was due for release any day now — it would set the record straight.
A bald, bearded man with an affable air, Michael wore a light suit and a yellow bow tie. His signature white cowboy hat hung by his desk. Previously chief magistrate of juvenile court, he had been elected in August 2014, defeating city court judge Tarik Sugarmon. The candidates represented distinct eras in Memphis politics. Although Michael’s campaign website described how he ran his family’s auto shop before becoming a lawyer at age 40, he had first been appointed to the court in 1997 by veteran Judge Kenneth Turner, who embodied the court’s entrenched white establishment. Sugarmon was the son of black civil rights activists; he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during the sanitation strikes and participated in the “Black Monday” boycotts of 1969, in which students stayed home from school to protest segregation. Sugarmon’s father, a retired judge, previously worked under Turner at juvenile court. On the campaign trail, the younger Sugarmon invoked the DOJ investigation: “We have now a 50-year continuum of a system that, up until recently, we were the only ones that knew it was unfair.”
Despite his ties to the court’s establishment players, Michael considers himself something of a reformer. “I think of myself as a change agent,” he told me. He exudes compassion for the juveniles in his care, while talking seriously about crime. “My role is to save that child’s life while protecting you,” he assured an audience after his election. He also wanted to make something very clear to me: “We don’t jail children.” The facility upstairs, he reminded me, is “pre-trial only.” A court officer stressed the same thing during our tour — “remember, this is not a jail” — but it seemed like a distinction without a difference. Children may sleep in single occupancy “rooms,” not “cells,” but the steel toilets and thin green mattresses betrayed the euphemism.When I asked why he had handed the detention center to the sheriff, these distinctions were harder to maintain.
Yet, when I asked why he had handed the detention center to the sheriff, these distinctions were harder to maintain. “The sheriff of Shelby County is the professional jailer, if you will,” Michael explained. “He runs all the pretrial centers.” Faced with hiring and budget challenges, he’d decided to leave detention to the experts, to “make sure those children got the protection they need.”
I asked about the stark racial disparities — or Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), in DOJ parlance. The last report on equal protection suggested a lack of will to address it. “Again, the Court MUST take the lead on this,” it urged, in bold text. Although Michael credited the Law Enforcement Assessment Phone-In and other tools for reducing the total number of kids in the system, the monitor found that the race gap had actually increased among those in detention. “I’m gonna be real blunt with you,” Michael said. “The federal government cannot point to one DMC program anywhere in the country that they have funded that has successfully lowered the stat,” he said. “Not one.” Memphis is a majority black city. Its problems go back to the era of forced busing, white flight and all the myriad factors that set the stage for the high poverty, crime, and unemployment that plagues this and other urban centers. If it was up to any one person to fix this, he seemed to be saying, it was not up to him.
Michael reiterated his commitment to reform — but he doesn’t want the federal government in Memphis forever. “My goal is to complete the MoA and say, ‘Bye, we’re good. Let’s move on.’”
For a tidy history of its youth justice system, Shelby County offers a 30-minute film made in 2010 titled “100 Years of Juvenile Court.” Set to soft piano music, the story begins with an 1898 editorial in The Commercial Appeal, “To Save the Young.” It asked lawmakers to address the problem of kids jailed alongside adults — a growing concern of the progressive movement. “What police need now is a place for juvenile offenders that fall into their hands,” the editorial read, “but they will not get it until this county agrees to share the expenses of establishing one with the city.”
The tension between Shelby County and the city of Memphis has never been resolved. Today, Memphis is surrounded by affluent, nearly all-white suburbs like Germantown and Collierville, which became incorporated towns in the mid-1800s. The largely unspoken divide becomes most explicit where children are concerned; following a controversial plan to consolidate Memphis city and Shelby County schools in 2011, numerous suburbs broke off to form their own municipal districts.
The Commercial Appeal article did not have black children in mind. While today juvenile jails are a symbol of criminalization of black youth and the school-to-prison pipeline, the establishment of the new juvenile court in 1910 reflected the influence of white child welfare activists, particularly the women behind the Memphis Playground Association, which sought to keep children off the street. In Gateway to Justice, an early history of Shelby County’s juvenile court, historian Jennifer Trost describes how it fell to Memphis’s black community to keep pace with new models of juvenile justice. “As long as blacks did not challenge the rules of segregation and took on the responsibility for funding separate facilities,” she wrote, “white reformers were willing to accept their participation.”Memphis’s juvenile justice system took shape against a particularly dangerous backdrop — at least 15 lynchings took place between 1890 and 1930.
The results were “separate and unequal.” In 1914, the Memphis Digest published an article about a 4-year-old orphan arrested for stealing a pair of shoes. The child was taken in by child welfare activist Julia Hooks, who created a black juvenile court through community donations. Why, the author asked, “are these Negro women of very moderate means and many heavy burdens left by the city to buy a court building, while the white children have recently been moved into admirable quarters provided by the cost of the city?” There was also the Shelby County Industrial and Training School, where a “negro department” was created only after local residents raised funds; the county dictated that white boys receive training, while black boys were “paroled” to do farm work for locals.
Memphis’s juvenile justice system took shape against a particularly dangerous backdrop — at least 15 lynchings took place between 1890 and 1930. Against such instruments of Jim Crow-era racial control, the court’s early, mostly female leadership was benevolent in its enforcement of white supremacy. One judge, appointed in 1920, saw the court as “a strong arm used to supplement home care and training, or to supply it where it does not exist,” according to Trost, who notes that inevitably, this meant using her authority “to enforce deferential behavior of black children toward whites.” There were “white days” and “colored days” for hearing cases, and “files were color-coded” according to race.
The court remained segregated until 1964, the year Judge Kenneth Turner — the judge who first appointed Michael — assumed the bench. A former police captain with no legal training, Turner is the unmitigated hero of “100 Years of Juvenile Court,” lauded for his colorblind approach to justice and for shaping JCMSC into a model admired nationwide. A memoir by an Episcopalian youth minister recalls how, early in his tenure, Turner’s juvenile summons program brought kids to his organization, helping them avoid a criminal record. But news reports reveal Turner’s more punitive innovations, a number of which especially hurt black families. He showed fondness for public shaming, inviting reporters to delinquency hearings and ordering bright orange vests reading, “I am a vandal.” He fined parents for truancy — “If you can’t control your child, call the police,” he told one mother — and charged room and board for kids in detention, a move hailed as “revolutionary” by one widely syndicated editorial. Turner was especially famous for prosecuting fathers who failed to pay child support. One 1967 article describes how he sent a man to Shelby County Penal Farm for nearly a year without advising him of his right to trial. Later, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a civil class action alleging that JCMSC routinely jailed destitute fathers without any due process.
Presiding over juvenile court more than 40 years, Turner would ultimately embody the flaws of its design. Juvenile justice was rooted in a legal philosophy known as parens patriae, in which the state decides what is in a child’s best interest. For its noble intentions, the U.S. Supreme Court warned in 1966, in Kent v. United States, there was evidence that “the child receives the worst of both worlds … neither the protections accorded to adults nor the solicitous care and regenerative treatment postulated for children.” This was true in the case of an Arizona teenager named Gerald Gault. After he was jailed for “placing lewd phone calls” to a female neighbor, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged his trial as “barren of any legal protection of a juvenile’s rights.” In 1967, the Court agreed, ruling for the first time that juveniles had such due process rights as the right to counsel and the right against self-incrimination.
But Turner’s attention was elsewhere. In March 1968, weeks before King was shot, he ordered arrests of students participating in the sanitation strikes, charging parents $10 a day for each day a child missed school. Asked about Gault that year, Turner said, “I’m more concerned with the fact that in Tennessee, 89 of our counties do not have proper facilities for the detention of juveniles.” While he was not alone in resisting the ruling, the 1973 PBS documentary Juvenile Court offered a glimpse into the result. “Guilt is presupposed by every adult from the outset,” one reviewer writes, “and all procedure seems deliberately geared toward searching for personality disorders, exacting confessions, or cutting plea deals with defense attorneys.” It was in this era, following a different ruling that required judges to be admitted to the bar, that Turner designed a “referee” system, appointing people to hear cases on his behalf, while preserving his authority. A Memphis police sergeant would later describe the atmosphere to journalist Nina Bernstein: Turner’s court had “its own rules, day by day.”
By the early 1990s, in keeping with the tough on crime era, Turner was increasingly transferring juveniles to adult court, calling them “vicious young criminals” — or “VYCs” — who should be separated from “juveniles who are more amenable to habilitation.” Today, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich continues the tradition. While Weirich denies that race has any bearing on her decisions, the equal protection monitor has cited a “significant overrepresentation of Black youth” in her requests. One of the most positive results of the DOJ intervention has been a drastic drop in transfers granted by the court — from 194 in 2009 to 47 last year.
But vulnerable teenagers still end up in the adult system. In 2013, the Memphis Flyer described a transfer hearing for a black 14-year-old named Jonathan Ray, who had a history of abuse and mental problems. Ray had set fire to the steps of his house, killing his mother. With little time for his attorney to prepare — and against the pleadings of relatives — Michael concluded that Shelby County “can’t wait six years to see if [Ray] is fit for rehabilitation.” He sent him to adult court, where Ray pleaded guilty. He is scheduled for release when he’s 40 years old.
Around the corner from juvenile court, in a former YMCA, I met half a dozen teenagers at JIFF — Juvenile Intervention & Faith-based Follow-up — which partners with the court’s Youth Services Bureau. “We love JIFF,” a JCMSC official told me, and it is easy to see why. It takes some of their most challenging kids and gives them job training and education, along with serious Bible study. JIFF also pairs kids with ex-juvenile offenders who act as mentors. The resulting bond is clear. When I asked the kids what they liked most about JIFF compared to juvenile court, the word I heard most was “love.”
The kids were not eager to talk about the detention center. They complained that it was cold, that staff played favorites, that the rule against talking made no sense. They especially hated being locked in their room for days at a time as punishment. But one teenager, a veteran of the system, said it was better than other jails he’d been in. At least he had his own room.
At JIFF, like at the detention center, all the kids were black. It reminded me of an old quote in the Tri-State Defender, the black alternative weekly in Memphis, from a county commissioner named Henri Brooks: “You would think that white children never get in trouble.”
Although few were eager to talk about it, the DOJ would never have come to Memphis were it not for Brooks. Elected in August 2006, months after Turner’s official retirement from the court, she immediately caused an uproar. Turner “ran that system down there on what I call ‘Plantation Politics,’” Brooks told the Defender, “and unless we update the court now, there will be no changes.” Brooks worked in juvenile court from 1976 to 1987. Speaking to me over the phone, she described the court’s operating assumption about black people: “There was something criminal in our genes. So we had to be controlled.”
A former state representative and chairwoman of the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus, Brooks stirred controversy long before setting her sights on juvenile court. Her confrontational manner, while polarizing, was also likely one consequence of working in an environment where the existence of racism was aggressively denied. A 2005 bill she proposed to collect data on racial profiling was dismissed by an opponent as “a waste of money and a waste of time.” When Brooks warned that a 2004 seatbelt law could be used as a pretext to target black drivers, The Tennessean called her claim “amazing.”
But Brooks’s persona also eclipsed her most significant contributions. It was because of her that Tennessee became the first state to pass legislation enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Yet she became more famous for a months-long controversy that broke out in 2001, after the speaker of the house confronted her for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. “He talked to me like a master to a slave,” Brooks declared, later explaining that honoring the flag would be an affront to her ancestors. That year, a man burned her in effigy on the capitol steps.
Upon returning to Memphis, Brooks teamed up with another black commissioner, Deidre Malone, in a push to add a second judge to the juvenile court. The goal, Malone told The Commercial Appeal, was to address a generation of discrimination against black kids, in part perpetuated by Turner’s handpicked successor, Judge Curtis Person. “For years now, suburban courts all over the county have been allowed to establish diversion programs for white children committing the same offenses,” Malone said. Person responded angrily, writing that Brooks had a “personal mission to disrupt this court.” Others admitted that the court needed reform, but agreed that the problem was Brooks herself. One columnist noted that, while 75 percent of the court’s employees were black, “if you look at who holds the upper-level and highest-paying jobs, Brooks’s ‘plantation’ claim starts to make sense.”
“They acted like I was crazy,” Brooks recalled. Yet many Memphis residents agreed with her. In 2006, “my staff set up town hall meetings all over the city.” They met in churches and other venues, inviting parents of children who had been through juvenile court to speak. Attendees shared a litany of complaints, from endless delays to arbitrary decisions by referees. One mother described waiting two years for a hearing date in her child support case, only to have her case worker scold her “for not getting involved ‘with a better man,’” The gatherings were recorded and transcribed. Before long, “I think I had about seven or eight 10-inch binders” filled with grievances, Brooks said. The files became the basis for a Complaint and Request for Investigation, which she formally filed to the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ on Jan. 15, 2007.
While the DOJ considered the complaint, critics denounced Brooks for traveling to Washington on taxpayers’ dime — one letter to The Commercial Appeal called it “outrageous,” saying Brooks “should have paid for the trip out of her own funds.” To “defuse” the controversy, The Commercial Appeal reported, a local pastor collected donations from families “concerned about justice,” offering to cover the $1,000 in expenses. But Brooks would soon be vindicated. In August 2009, the DOJ announced it would investigate Shelby County Juvenile Court. A year and a half later, following repeated visits and a review of some 65,000 defendant files, the DOJ issued its announcement on the Memorandum of Agreement. By then, however, Brooks had been cut out of the process. The deal with the DOJ was signed by County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Person, a vocal skeptic of the department’s report.
Today, Brooks takes little pleasure in having been proven right by the DOJ’s investigation, which she says was too little too late. “It almost brought tears to my eyes to think of the others who had been before juvenile court before this even happened,” she says.
In June, the DOJ quietly released its seventh round of monitors’ reports on JCMSC. Racial disparities persisted and “physical restraints remain a problem,” Roush wrote, having last visited the detention facility in April. The Sheriff’s Department’s efforts to be more nuanced in documenting use of handcuffs have produced new problems. “Mechanical restraints are substantially undercounted,” Roush reported, urging “immediate action” to gather more accurate data.
But the most damning conclusion was perhaps the most predictable. Sheriff’s officers, it turns out, are not trained to work with kids. “An underlying assumption exists that there are no difference between juvenile and adult detention skills,” Roush wrote, calling the mindset “a fundamental problem.” Over email, a Sheriff’s Department spokesperson cited “specialized training” underway for new hires. He also addressed the $250,000 bulletproof glass: It was the result of a safety assessment requested by JCMSC, he said, implemented as part of the sheriff’s takeover of overall security.
The release of the monitors’ reports made no headlines this time. A few weeks later, on July 10, following the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Minneapolis, and five police officers in Dallas, a small gathering took place outside the Civil Rights Museum. “The rally evolved into a protest march,” the Memphis Flyer reported, with 1,000 people marching through downtown to the I-40 bridge, which runs over the Mississippi River. Traffic was blocked for hours. Although the Memphis protests ended “peacefully … with no arrests,” they sparked rage among other city residents. Racist comments proliferated on the Black Lives Matter Memphis Facebook page. But others called it a moment of awakening. “Black lives matter,” a Commercial Appeal columnist wrote, comparing it to the declaration “I am a man.”
A few days later, after days of similar protests across the country, President Obama held a town hall, broadcast by ABC News. Attempting a conciliatory tone, he shared his own experiences with racism. “It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it’s still there,” he said.
But for some in the audience, the event fueled further anger. Erica Garner, whose father’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry, was denied a chance to ask a question. Two years after the DOJ said it was looking into her father’s killing by police, she had no answers. Meanwhile, the man who had filmed his death faced jail time. Garner’s shouts were heard by audience members, journalists, and the president alike: “A black person has to yell to be heard?”
This article was reported in partnership with NextCity.
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Der Parteivorstand der Demokraten hat im Vorwahlkampf entgegen der gebotenen Neutralität insgeheim Hillary Clinton unterstützt, wie von Wikileaks veröffentlichte Emails belegen. Clintons Wahlkampfteam macht Russland für die Veröffentlichung verantwortlich –
Von REDAKTION, 25. Juli 2016 –
Was der demokratische Sozialist Bernie Sanders und seine Anhänger schon lange vermutet hatten, hat sich nun bestätigt: Mitglieder des Parteivorstands der Demokraten, dem Democratic National Committee (DNC), hatten trotz gebotener Neutralität einseitig Partei für Hillary Clinton im Vorwahlkampf ergriffen.
Das geht aus der Email-Korrespondenz des Parteivorstands hervor, die am Wochenende von Wikileaks veröffentlicht wurde. Knapp zwanzigtausend Emails wurden online gestellt, die der Enthüllungsplattform durch einen
Der Bombenanschlag im fränkischen Ansbach hat nach Ansicht von Bayerns Innenminister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) vermutlich einen islamistischen Hintergrund. Man müsse davon ausgehen, dass die Motivation des Täters nicht völlig unabhängig von islamistischem Gedankengut gesehen werden müsse, sagte Herrmann am Montag in Nürnberg.
In der Unterkunft des Täters seien zwei Handys gefunden worden mit mehreren weiteren Sim-Karten sowie ein Laptop, sagte Herrmann. Eine erste Auswertung habe Hinweise darauf gegeben, dass Gewaltvideos mit islamistischer Ausrichtung und salafistischem Inhalt dabei seien. Das Allermeiste sei auf Arabisch.
Die Umstände der Tat deuteten in der Summe „schon sehr“ darauf hin, dass das Geschehen einen islamistischen Hintergrund haben
Bei den Massenfestnahmen nach dem Putschversuch in der Türkei gehen die Behörden nun auch gegen Journalisten vor. Die Istanbuler Staatsanwaltschaft ordnete am Montag im Zusammenhang mit den Ermittlungen zum Putschversuch die Festnahme von 42 Journalisten an, wie die staatliche Nachrichtenagentur Anadolu meldete. Darunter ist die prominente Regierungskritikerin Nazli Ilicak.
Die Nachrichtenagentur DHA berichtete, die Ermittlungen richteten sich gegen Medien aus dem Netzwerk des Predigers Fethullah Gülen. Die Regierung macht Gülen für den Putschversuch verantwortlich. Anadolu meldete, zunächst seien fünf der verdächtigen Journalisten festgenommen worden. Ilicaks Haus in Istanbul sei durchsucht worden. Nach Angaben von DAH wird nach Ilicak im Ferienort Bodrum
To read Part One, click here
The Floor might have been a prop for TV, but it was beautiful. Spotlights danced off the red, white and blue bunting, off the tall, triangular signs spelling out the names of the states and the territories, off the delegates themselves, equal and unruly, a republic made flesh. To stand on it gave one a feeling of chaos and joy.
The states were defined by red carpets running between them, and by their costumes. The Guam wore tropical-print shirts. Texas had Lone Star flag shirts and cowboy hats and supersized enamel pins. North Carolina seemed patrician and a slightly aloof in their seersucker suits. West Virginia wore hardhats and pinstripes waving “Trump Digs Coal” signs. Chunks of Colorado displayed a mutinous, die-hard love for Ted Cruz by walking out of the convention on Monday afternoon. The many-footed whip was walking up and down the aisles, handing out Trump/Pence signs, whipping up cheers of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” often settling for “USA! USA! USA!”
Moving around the Floor, delegates could brush past such legendary statesmen as Jeff Sessions, Newt Gingrich, and Orrin Hatch. They could attempt to peer into the epicenter of forty-foot, thirty-legged, many-cabled monster, at the center of which Chris Christie was milking the last few hours of his celebrity. They could catch a glimpse of Trump’s three-trunked family tree, a genetic menagerie seated like princelings in tiered opera boxes, before being admonished by an officer to “keep moving.” They could ride elevators with the party elect and watch longingly as they disappeared into the closed-off upper levels of the Quicken Loans Arean, known as the Q, on their way to the Founders Room, the 45 Club, the Senate Cloakroom, the House Cloakroom, and the Grand Old Party Suite.
Two rifts in the Republican Party still needed patching up. The first rift was between Trump and Cruz. The serious Tea Partiers considered Cruz to be more reliable than Trump, a “Democrat in disguise.” The Day 2 Melania/Michelle plagiarism flap didn’t help on this front, nor did the high drama of Day 3, when Cruz himself took the stage, espoused a fusion doctrine of Tea and Trumpism, slammed Obama for exporting jobs and importing terrorists, but, in the end, failed to endorse Trump. This might not have come as a complete surprise to the inner circle of Trump’s camp, but whatever information they had was closely held. The rest of the convention was stunned by Cruz’s impertinence and nearly drowned the end of his speech out with boos.
The Floor was choppy as the sea in changing weather. “All he [Cruz] had to say was Make America Great Again,” said Adrienne King, delegate of Hawaii, who was furious about Cruz’s betrayal. “He would have brought the house down.”
“Get off the stage!” hollered Clifford Young, an alternate delegate from California. A few minutes later, I asked him why he was so angry at Cruz. “It’s sour grapes,” he said. “He needs to go back to Texas. And stay in Texas.”
Cruz was finally out of the way. Trump had the nomination, but it would take some time before the hearts and minds of his people would belong to Make America Great Again, shortened to MAGA. Late on Day 3, after Cruz’s speech, one Cruz die-hard fired a text message off to her friend as she fled the Floor by elevator: “I’m done with these A-holes who are angry with Cruz.” Even at her moment of greatest anger, she did not type out the full expletive. It would be hard for her to come around to a man like Trump.
The second rift, a deeper one, though less conspicuous, was between Trump and the old-guard establishment of the Grand Old Party, many of whom had decided not to show up. John Kasich, Ohio’s governor, had skipped the convention after reportedly spurning Trump’s offer of the vice presidency. So had the Bushes, a blue-blooded, white-shoe mafia of bankers and oilmen. Trump had bullied Jeb Bush with merciless brilliance during the primary debates. Now he risked being shut out from the family’s fundraising apparatus, relationships that had been accumulating interest for three generations. There was no Mitt Romney, no Henry Kissinger, no John McCain. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, the varsity captains, did show up and give serviceable speeches, and Marco Rubio appeared by video. The grandest old party man who Trump’s people could drum up was Bob Dole, who gave no speech, just a private luncheon at Morton’s steakhouse. It was said to be for his ninety-third birthday.VOX POPULI
Few have explained the essence of Make America Great Again with the clarity of Grandpa Simpson. “I used to be with it,” he said, to his son Homer and his son’s friend Barney, having caught them rocking out in front of a mirror. “But then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me.” Then came the curse: “It’ll happen to you.” Grandpa Simpson’s words echoed the two questions that Rudy Giuliani asked on Day 1: America! What happened to it? Where did it go? I looked to the delegates for answers.
John Rosado, an Arizona delegate who had kitted himself as George Washington, complete with breeches, buttoned topcoat, and a tricorne hat, blamed it on Teddy Roosevelt’s progressivism. I asked for something in his lifetime. He offered Lyndon Baines Johnson. If only Johnson been willing to stick it out in Vietnam, Rosado said, we would have won the war. “Walter Cronkite gave it away,” he said. “It was when he said ‘we can’t win this war.’ We were winning. The politics gave it away.”
Thomas Stark, a middle-aged lawyer and delegate from North Carolina, wore white suede bucks and a seersucker suit. A few minutes into our conversation, Stark told me that he was the general counsel for the state party, an unpaid position. He said this with such humility that it almost sounded like an apology. He said the Democrats were the party of Hobbes—fear and top-down government. The Republicans were the party of Locke—government leaves man alone, man rises to his best. Stark’s enthusiasm for Trump was solid, but the mortar was still hardening. Trump was “transitioning,” Stark said, from businessman to policymaker. “I hope the country doesn’t lose its spiritual base,” Stark said, in a quiet voice, one that held its own field but made no claim on others. “It really rounds things out.” I asked Stark what he meant by spiritual base. He seemed slightly taken aback, as though I ought to know the answer. “I don’t know if I can put it into words,” he said.
Drew Danford, a younger delegate from Texas and party precinct leader, makes his living selling insurance. He said that America’s decline began when people started identifying with a “subculture” or “microcosm” before they identified as Americans. A subculture could be a sport, a hobby, a race, or a religion, he said. Some were explicitly contrary to American values. “Disenfranchisement” was his name for this phenomenon. As a young man, he said, he had suffered at the hands of some police. “If I was black,” he said. “I would have thought it was racism.” As we spoke, Danford went out of his way to be courteous to passersby, but he was also watchful. He had heard stories of protestors throwing urine-filled balloons at police, something that was widely reported but difficult to confirm.
Sitting beside us on the concrete lip of Cleveland Public Square was Danford’s fellow Texas delegate Joshua Sanders, a forklift operator. Sanders told me that “the politicians have decided it’s suitable to give them—” by which I took him to mean Danford’s subcultures “—preferential treatment, in order to appease their cultural values.” I asked him for an example. He brought up sanctuary cities, where undocumented immigrants can live without fear of arrest. “In a sanctuary city, you can drive with no license and no insurance,” Sanders said. “Whereas if I were to drive with no license or insurance, I’d be arrested.”
Al Baldassaro, delegate and state representative from New Hampshire, Marine Corps veteran, advisor to Trump on veterans’ affairs, constant wearer of a camo Make America Great Again hat, is best known for advocating during a radio interview the killing of Hillary Clinton by firing squad “for treason.” He is now under investigation by the Secret Service. One night outside the bar of the Westin hotel he told me that some of his nieces and nephews were African-American and Puerto Rican. When he heard them speaking against the police, he knew America was on the wrong track. He blamed Obama. “He should be their mentor,” Baldassaro said. “Instead of this Black Lives Matter business, he should be standing up for the police.” He moved on to trade, and immigration.
I told Baldassaro about a study by the World Bank that found that immigration does not cause a significant decrease in host-country wages, and that it takes a generation or two for new immigrants to start competing with the rest of the labor force. By that time, most have gotten the right papers. Many have changed their names, Drumpf to Trump, or given their children first names from the dominant culture, like Rudolph William Lewis Giuliani. Some of their descendants may choose to dye the roots of their hair, shave the bumps off their daughters’ noses, and slick their sons’ hair back into a helmet, a haircut I saw on the heads delegates of all races. The essence of the Trump brand is conformity, a genetic conversion from loser to winner.
Baldassaro parried away my beloved World Bank study with an anecdote about the undocumented immigrants he had seen gathering around open-air labor markets he had seen in New England towns. As for the Drumpf stuff, I didn’t have the wherewithal to say it at the time.
There were not many Muslims to be found in the Q. To the RNC’s credit, the Day 2 benediction was delivered by Sajid Tarar, founder of American Muslims for Trump. One person reportedly chanted “No Islam!” but these three syllables failed to catch fire. On Day 4, I spoke on the Floor with Amjad Bashir, a British Muslim born in Pakistan, and a member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire. As a member of the Conservative Party, he had come to observe the proceedings of his Republican cousins. He had a neat gray beard, glasses, and a dark suit. He said he had been displeased when Obama weighed in on Brexit, which he supported. Brexit was the business of the U.K., not the U.S.
Of Trump, he said, “whoever you choose, we will respect.” He said that Islam was a religion of peace, and that “any sort of terrorism has to be condemned.” I brought up Giuliani’s speech, and his repeated use of radical Islamic terrorism. “Speaking generally,” Bashir said, “I am critical of anyone who singles out any community, or any faith … I think people should be very careful.”THE ULTIMATE RINGMASTER
Some have compared Trump to Hitler. I think that’s a stretch. When Hitler spoke, he was feeling it. He was buying his own bullshit, as the saying goes. Nazi rallies, I imagine, had the vibe of a really good rock-and-roll show, something like the Beatles or the Monks during their Hamburg club years. “The applause was so loud and insistent that I had to respond with several encores,” wrote Leni Riefenstahl, who directed “Triumph of the Will.” “I was numb with happiness.”
The applause for Trump at the Q was loud. Sometimes it was insistent. But at other times it had an obligatory, whipped-up feeling. There were no encores. Like late Chavez, late Castro, and late Dylan, Trump seemed to be going through the motions, expending just enough energy to convey a virtuoso image to his fans, those who are unwilling to look and see the tired man on the stage in front of them. On TV, it might have looked like charismatic ecstasy between the altar and the pews. On TV, whipped-up might have passed for fired up.
Did I see what I saw, or what I wanted to see?
Trump took the stage around half past ten on Day 4, Thursday, to deliver a speech that the next morning’s papers would call “dark.” (Giuliani’s was “fierce.”) By now, I had heard Trump boosted up as a “blue-collar billionaire,” “a true patriot and champion of the common man,” and “the ultimate ringmaster.” Giuliani, in video form, got a massive cheer. “He [Trump] can make us feel like what we should feel like,” Giuliani said.
In addition to clumsily grafting a bit of Michelle Obama onto Melania Trump, whoever was writing the teleprompter copy was trying to soften up Trump the man while hardening his platform. It wasn’t easy. The many members of Trump family who appeared on stage all emphasized the father’s kindness, but other than Giuliani’s testimony about Trump’s de-anonymized donations to police and firemen, specific examples were hard to come by. Ivanka, the lady-scion, who could pass for the Princess Diana Kardashian, who had Manafortian influence over her father and his business, talked about Trump’s habit of clipping out stories from the newspaper. The stories, she said, were about people in some kind of distress. Trump would then summon them to his office to give them charity. Not one of these recipients could be found to testify firsthand about the goodness of their alleged benefactor.
Trump’s life, Ivanka said, was one of deals, of building. “Judge his competency by the towers he’s built,” said Ivanka. “Only my father will say, ‘I’ll fight for you.”
TRUMP. The five letters of #MAGA’s chosen one manspreaded on the high screen. The low screen offering a digital backdrop crowded with flags hanging slack on their poles. I had never seen Trump’s face projected at such size. I was most taken by his mouth, expressive and elastic. The mouth had only two expressions, satisfaction and contempt. One for profit, one for loss. Then there was the automatic smile when he felt obliged to display some warmth. I thought of the way that Donald had hugged Melania, grabby and abrupt, then the stagy ‘look at her!’ point of the finger, accompanied by the a half-smile. The half-smile had a diamond shape, like a kit. The chin formed the bottom point and the mouth formed the cross-spar. The creases running up and down, on either side, were the sides.
… I am your voice … I know the time for action has come …
Trump’s eyes were small and blank. They looked to be blue-green. The face, red, elastic, and now rather sweaty, was trying to compensate for the deadness of the eyes with its reluctant caricatures of unfelt emotions. At times, Trump’s patronizing manner threatens to simmer over into outright mockery of his audience, as though he can’t quite believe they are actually stupid enough to buy into such a weak charade.
Then came the rhetorical scalpel, the heart of the speech, the keystone that was held back from the pre-released remarks. In sixty-six words, Donald turned Drumpf to Trump, loser to winner, immigrant self-hatred into nativist superiority.
America is the nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics! Remember, all of the people telling you, ‘you can’t have the country you want,’ are the same people that wouldn’t stand—I mean they said, ‘Trump doesn’t have a chance of being here tonight. Doesn’t have a chance!’ Oh, we love defeating those people, don’t we?
Those people. Naysayers. Terrorists. Anarchists. Barbarians. Hippies. Bill. Hillary. The Islamic State. The media. The ones who say ‘Trump can’t win.’ Against this universal enemy, Trump offered himself up as the embodiment of a universal grudge.
Day 1, Giuliani: You know who you are and we’re coming to get you!
Day 3: Cruz: What if this right now is our last time? Did we live up to the values we say we believe? Did we do all we really could?
Day 4, Trump: History is watching us now. We don’t have much time.
Of course Trump can’t win. Everyone from both parties knows this is true. It must be true. It can’t be otherwise. Is it a fact? Or is it a wish?
One hundred and twenty thousand balloons fell from the ceiling, particles in the void. We don’t have much time. They spread across the Floor in tricolor drifts, knee-high, waist-high. Two security men hustled Giuliani by me. The three men moved like a conga line. Giuliani was in the middle, his hands draped on the shoulders of the man in front, the man in back holding him up by the waist. I thought of a question that it would have been good to ask Giuliani, although now it was too late. Two days before, my colleague Alex Emmons, who is sure-footed enough to capitalize on such moments, caught Giuliani in the hallway leading to the Floor and interviewed him for three minutes. Emmons asked Giuliani to name one useful lead, one terrorism plot that had been thwarted by the years of Muslim profiling in New York City. “Of course I cannot,” Giuliani said, almost immediately. “That’s top secret information.”
Giuliani told Emmons that Hillary Clinton might reveal that sort of thing. Rudy Giuliani, the former number three in the Department of Justice, would not. He would release a dead man’s sealed juvenile arrest records to help win a seat in the U.S. Senate. But he would not explain what was gained by surveilling thousands of New York City Muslims in their restaurants, businesses, and places of worship. On Sunday, Trump suggested that he might issue a ban on Muslims from certain countries including France and Germany from entering the U.S.
The working-class delegates were loading onto their busses. The fancier people, the ones with downtown hotel rooms, were bottlenecking up around the exits. For a few minutes we were packed in between high walls of black steel mesh. Somewhere, people with better credentials were being whisked away the Founders Room, the Grand Old Party Suite, the Senate Cloakroom, and the House Cloakroom, to their awaiting jets, borne in the back of their Chevy Suburbans, their pathway cleared by the motor officers’ sirens, gliding through the hidden over-world, a world with no lines or walls. The walls that trapped us upper-mid-level delegates and press had been intended to keep the un-credentialed protestor/barbarians from violating the party’s sanctuary. Now we were the ones who wanted to get out. The walls were making it harder.MARTIAN HOPLITE & THE WAR ON ISLAM
On the train out from Cleveland I traded seats, aisle for aisle, with a young man in a Trump t-shirt. We knew which side of the line the other was on and treated each other with the grim courtesy that had kept the peace throughout the week. As the train approached Pittsburgh five hours after midnight on Friday, I saw the young man looking at a feed on his phone. I asked if I could follow him.
Sure, he said. I’m Martian Hoplite.
Hoplite, I asked. Is that a Vonnegut thing?
A hoplite is a citizen warrior, he explained.
On his Twitter profile, Martian Hoplite describes himself as a “working class aristocrat. Partisan for truth. Pro-western. Aspiring Martian. Shitlord.”
Martian Hoplite’s avatar is Marv, the gun-toting noir hero from Frank Miller’s “Sin City.” One of Miller’s other graphic novels, “300,” is about three hundred Spartans—hoplites, citizen-warriors—who kill many hordes of Persian barbarians at Thermopylae, not one of them a civilian. The 2007 film adaptation of “Sin City” grossed nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. My guess is that the runaway success of “300” may have given Miller the freedom to devote his energies to connecting with a slightly narrower audience, what is known in Hollywood as a “passion project.” Miller’s 2011 graphic novel, “Holy Terror,” is about a war undertaken by a Batman-like superhero who graphically slaughters terror-minded Muslims. “For some reason,” Miller once said in an interview with National Public Radio, “nobody seems to be talking about who we’re up against, and the sixth-century barbarism that they actually represent. These people saw peoples’ heads off.”
Only my father will say, ‘I’ll fight for you.’
The train was pulling into Pittsburgh.
I asked Martian Hoplite if I could ask him a question for the record. He agreed.
“Are we at war with Islam?” I asked, the question that I had wanted to ask Rudy Giuliani. Martian Hoplite took a moment to think it over.
“We’re not,” he said. “But we should be.”
To read Part One, click here
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Der neue DAKS-Newsletter steht ganz im Zeichen des kürzliche veröffentlichten Rüstungsexportberichts der Bundesregierung für das Jahr 2015. Bereits im Vorfeld der Veröffentlichung war bekannt geworden, dass die Genehmigungszahlen im letzten Berichtsjahr wieder gestiegen sind. Der Rüstungsexportbericht selbst enthält deshalb wenig Überraschungen. Bemerkenswert ist jedoch ein Urteil des Verwaltungsgerichts Frankfurt, das im Zusammenhang mit dem Bericht der Bundesregierung einige Brisanz entwickelt. – Mehr dazu im neuen Newsletter!
Zum Weiterempfehlen: Wenn Sie den Kleinwaffen-Newsletter abonnieren wollen (als kostenlose E-Mail), senden Sie uns einfach eine Mail mit dem Stichwort „Kleinwaffen-Newsletter“.
DAKS-Newsletter Juli 2016
Anhaltendes Desaster in der Rüstungsexportpolitik erfordert Revision der gesetzlichen Grundlagen
Presseerklärung der GKKE vom 6. Juli 2016
„Zwar begrüßen wir die größere Transparenz in der Rüstungsexportpolitik“, betonte Prälat Dr. Karl Jüsten, katholischer Vorsitzender der GKKE, anlässlich des heute veröffentlichten Rüstungsexportberichts 2015 der Bundesregierung. „Der Bericht zeigt jedoch, dass der Umfang der Rüstungsexportgenehmigungen im vergangenen Jahr erneut massiv zugenommen hat.“ Dies betreffe insbesondere den massiven Anstieg der Einzel- und Sammelausfuhrgenehmigungen mit insgesamt 12,81 Mrd. Euro. „Diese Zunahme von 96 Prozent gegenüber 2014 bestätigt unsere frühere Einschätzung, dass der Rückgang der Genehmigungen im Jahr 2014 keine Trendwende war.“ Außerdem gebe es nach wie vor viel zu viele höchstproblematische Einzelentscheidungen, unterstrich der Prälat. „Mit 59 Prozent der Einzelausfuhrgenehmigungen geht weiter mehr als die Hälfte der Lieferungen an Drittstaaten außerhalb von NATO und EU, unter ihnen zahlreiche in Konfliktregionen und Länder mit problematischer Menschenrechtslage. Insgesamt zeigt der Regierungsbericht trotz aller Bemühungen um eine restriktivere Rüstungsexportpolitik ein anhaltendes Desaster.“ Erfreulich sei allenfalls der weitere Rückgang der Genehmigungswerte für Kleinwaffen von 47 auf 32 Millionen Euro. „Wir hoffen, dass zumindest dieser Trend stabil bleibt und die neuen Kleinwaffengrundsätze eine nachhaltige Wirkung zeigen.“ Massives Unbehagen sei aber nicht nur im Blick auf den Umfang der Rüstungsexporte 2015 angezeigt, ergänzte Prälat Dr. Martin Dutzmann, der evangelische Vorsitzende der GKKE. „Unter den Empfängerländern deutscher Rüstungsgüter sind Staaten wie Katar und Saudi Arabien – das ist aus friedensethischer Sicht hoch problematisch.“ So werde das autokratisch regierte Katar beschuldigt, verschiedene islamistische Organisationen, darunter auch den Islamischen Staat (IS), finanziell zu unterstützen. „Hinzu kommt, dass Katar als Mitglied der von Saudi-Arabien angeführten Militärkoalition im Jemen aktive Partei in einem bewaffneten Konflikt ist“, unterstrich Dutzmann. Der Krieg im Jemen scheine „ein vergessener Konflikt“ zu sein. Der Prälat erinnerte daran, dass seit Beginn der dortigen Kampfhandlungen vor einem Jahr rund 6.000 Zivilisten getötet wurden und dass 80 Prozent der Bevölkerung im Jemen auf humanitäre Hilfe angewiesen seien. Die Kriegsfolgekosten, wie Hunger, Obdachlosigkeit und Kindersterblichkeit, seien hoch. Zudem verletze die Militärkoalition unter Führung von Saudi-Arabien regelmäßig humanitäres Völkerrecht, indem sie Krankenhäuser bombardiere und Zivilisten attackiere. „Die Belieferung Katars mit Kriegswaffen ist aus Sicht der GKKE ein klarer Verstoß gegen die selbst gesetzten Kriterien für deutsche Rüstungsexporte, den wir aufs Schärfste kritisieren“, betonte Prälat Dutzmann. Angesichts der Tatsache, dass die Genehmigungen ursprünglich bereits 2013 von der von Union und FDP getragenen Vorgängerregierung erteilt wurden, zeige dieser Fall erneut ein zentrales Problem der deutschen Genehmigungspraxis auf: die fehlende Möglichkeit bzw. die hohen politischen Hürden, einmal getroffene Entscheidungen bei einer Neubewertung der Situation zu revidieren. Auch im Blick auf Saudi-Arabien als Empfängerland deutscher Rüstungsgüter äußerte Dutzmann Unverständnis. „In unserem GKKE-Rüstungsexportbericht 2015 haben wir im Dezember 2015 aufgrund der Gesamtlage im Land und der destabilisierenden Rolle Saudi-Arabiens in der Region einen Stopp für sämtliche Rüstungsausfuhren nach Saudi-Arabien gefordert. Solche Genehmigungen können nicht einfach mit dem Verweis auf Gemeinschaftsprogramme mit anderen Ländern begründet werden. Aus Sicht der GKKE verstoßen sie gegen die Kriterien des Gemeinsamen Standpunkts der EU zur Ausfuhr von Militärgütern und Militärtechnologie. Die Bundesregierung ist deshalb dringend dazu angehalten, zusammen mit den europäischen Partnern diese Exportpraxis nach Saudi-Arabien zu stoppen.“ „So darf es nicht weitergehen“, resümierte Prälat Karl Jüsten: „Der anhaltende Widerspruch zwischen gesetzlichen Grundlagen und politischen Leitlinien einerseits und der Genehmigungspraxis andererseits schwächt die Legitimität nicht nur der Rüstungsexportpolitik, sondern auch der Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik. Wir brauchen eine Revision der gesetzlichen Grundlagen. Und wir erwarten, dass das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium entsprechende Schritte einleitet. Es geht hier nicht nur um die Planungssicherheit für deutsche Unternehmen, sondern vor allem um die Glaubwürdigkeit deutscher Friedens- und Sicherheitspolitik.“
Heckler & Koch siegt vor Gericht?
Im Jahr 2015 hatte Heckler & Koch (HK) gegen das Bundesamt für Ausfuhrkontrolle (BAFA) geklagt, da es sich in seinem Recht auf wirtschaftliche Selbstbestimmung beschnitten sah. Basierend auf einer positiv beschiedenen Voranfrage zum Export von G36-Komponenten nach Saudi-Arabien hatte HK im Jahr 2013 den Antrag auf den endgültigen Export der entsprechenden Waffenteile gestellt. – Und nie eine Antwort erhalten. Als Reaktion strebte HK zwei Klagen gegen das zuständige BAFA an. Einerseits versucht das Unternehmen, eine Exportgenehmigung richterlich zu erzwingen, andererseits klagte es vor dem Verwaltungsgericht Frankfurt wegen Untätigkeit: Aus Sicht des Kleinwaffen-Herstellers ist eine zweijährige Wartezeit auf eine Exportgenehmigung unzumutbar, weshalb das BAFA nun richterlich verpflichtet werden soll, eine Entscheidung zu treffen. Mit Urteil vom 23.6.2016 hat das VG Frankfurt in diesen anhängenden Verfahren nun ein Urteil gefällt (Aktenzeichen: 5 K 3718/15.F). In Konsequenz hat Heckler & Koch wahlweise einen taktischen Sieg oder eine strategische Niederlage erlitten, denn das Urteil ist ambivalent.
Wie Robert Glawe in einem ausführlichen Kommentar darstellt, ist das Urteil wenig überraschend: Die Klage von HK zur richterlichen Erzwingung einer Ausfuhrgenehmigung wurde abgewiesen, da es die Sache des BAFA sei, zunächst eine Entscheidung bekannt zu geben. Stattgegeben wurde dagegen der Klage wegen Untätigkeit. Im Ergebnis muss das BAFA nun also zeitnah eine Entscheidung bekanntgeben, ob dem Exportantrag stattgegeben wird oder nicht. Sollte der Antrag abgelehnt werden, steht es Heckler & Koch dann frei, gegen diesen Beschluss zu klagen und auf Grundlage der positiv beschiedenen Voranfrage etwa Schadenersatz zu fordern.
An diesem Punkt beginnt die Sache spannend zu werden, denn in der Tat scheint der Ausgang des Verfahrens derzeit nicht klar. Grundsätzlich scheint es möglich, dass das BAFA den Antrag von Heckler & Koch ablehnt. Beispielsweise hat das BAFA anlässlich der EU-Sanktionen gegen Russland einen Exportantrag von Rheinmetall zum Verkauf eines Gefechtsübungszentrums widerrufen. Und das, obwohl im Vorfeld positive Vorentscheidungen getroffen worden waren. Da sich die politischen Rahmenbedingungen jedoch dramatisch verändert hatten, sah sich das BAFA berechtigt, den Exportantrag letztlich doch nicht zu gewähren. Ähnlich könnte das BAFA nun zu dem Schluss kommen, dass sich auch im Fall des geplanten Exports von Kleinwaffen-Teilen nach Saudi-Arabien die politischen Rahmenbedingungen verändert haben und auf dieser Grundlage kein Export möglich ist. In Konsequenz würde Heckler & Koch dann wohl eine Entschädigung für den entgangenen wirtschaftlichen Gewinn erhalten und die Bundesregierung müsste die außenpolitischen Folgen tragen und die Entscheidung gegenüber Saudi-Arabien erklären. Ein solcher Gang der Dinge scheint möglich – ist aber nicht sehr wahrscheinlich.
Der Bundessicherheitsrat hat mit seiner Entscheidung, das erste von insgesamt 48 Patrouillenbooten nach Saudi-Arabien exportieren zu lassen, rechtliche und politische Weichen gestellt. Sollte vor dem Hintergrund dieser Entscheidung das BAFA entscheiden, den Export der Kleinwaffen-Komponenten nicht zu genehmigen, so würde es sich damit berechtigt dem Vorwurf der Willkür aussetzen müssen.
Wenn die weitere Entwicklung also bis zu einem gewissen Grade vorhersehbar scheint, so wirft das Urteil des Verwaltungsgerichts Frankfurt dennoch ein bezeichnendes Schlaglicht auf das grundlegend veränderte Verhältnis von Rüstungsindustrie und politischen Entscheidungsinstanzen. Während es in der Vergangenheit undenkbar war, dass das Verteidigungsministerium Schadenersatzansprüche gegen Heckler & Koch erwägt oder dass Heckler & Koch gegen die BAFA klagt, so ist beides heute eine Realität. In gleicher Weise ist es heute eine Realität, dass die Arbeitsweise des Bundeswirtschaftsministeriums richterlich kritisiert wird. Zuletzt sorgte die Entscheidung des Oberlandesgerichts Düsseldorf, die auf Grundlage einer Sondergenehmigung erlaubte Fusion von EDEKA und Kaiser’s Tengelmann zu widerrufen, für ein breites Medienecho. Bemängelt wurde die Transparenz des Verfahrens und bezweifelt wurde die Unbefangenheit der Entscheidungsträger. – In diesem Fall Sigmar Gabriel.
In gewisser Weise lässt sich dieser Fall mit der Klage von Heckler & Koch gegen das BAFA vergleichen, denn beide Vorgänge illustrieren, dass Wirtschaftspolitik heute nicht mehr in Hinterzimmern und fernab der Öffentlichkeit praktiziert werden kann. Eine verrechtliche, transparente Gestaltung der Verfahrens- und Entscheidungsabläufe ist notwendig. Und die bestehenden Handlungsspielräume der Entscheidungsträger müssen eingeschränkt werden, damit das Prinzip der Rechtsstaatlichkeit gestärkt und der Verdacht der Willkür gar nicht erst entstehen kann.
Leider wird eine solche konkretisierende Klärung im Rahmen der derzeitigen Gesetzeslage kaum möglich sein, da die verschiedenen Ansätze der zu berücksichtigenden Gesetze, Verordnungen und Bestimmungen zu unterschiedlich und vielfältig sind. Notwendig ist – und das ist die eigentliche Lehre des Urteils des Verwaltungsgerichts Frankfurt – ein Rüstungsexportgesetz. Oder in den Worten der GKKE: Das „anhaltende Desaster in der Rüstungsexportpolitik erfordert“ eine „Revision der gesetzlichen Grundlagen“.
USA: Gewalt durch Polizisten / Gewalt gegen Polizisten
In den USA sollen einer Erhebung des britischen Guardian zufolge – vergleichbare Zählungen mit ähnlichen Ergebnissen gibt es auch durch andere Zeitungen, wie etwa der Washington Post – im Jahr 2015 mindestens 1146 Menschen durch Polizeikugeln getötet worden sein. In absoluten Zahlen wurden also pro 1 Million Einwohner 3,6 Menschen getötet. Zum Vergleich: In Deutschland sollen im Jahr 2014 mindestens 7 Menschen im Verlauf von Polizeieinsätzen getötet worden sein. Das entspricht 0,0875 Menschen pro einer Million Einwohner. Im Jahr 2016 scheint es keine Trendwende zu geben, denn im laufenden Jahr sollen laut Guardian bereits 587 Menschen getötet worden sein. (Stand: 15. Juli 2016) Dies entspricht einer Quote von 1,8 Menschen pro eine Million Einwohner – und es scheint, als würde bis Ende des Jahres der Stand aus dem Jahr 2015 wieder erreicht.
Wenn diese Zählung schon in absoluten Zahlen besorgniserregend ist, so gilt dies erst recht, wenn sie weiter aufgeschlüsselt wird.Bewaffnung Menschen, die im Jahr 2016 in den USA im Verlauf von Polizeieinsätzen getötet wurden Angaben in Prozent unbewaffnet 87 14,82% Messer 86 14,65% Hieb- oder Stichwaffe 131 22,32% Schusswaffe 283 48,21%
So waren nur rund 48% der Getöteten selbst mit einer Schusswaffe bewaffnet, während 14% unbewaffnet waren. Dies wirft die Frage auf, ob bei der Gewaltanwendung die Verhältnismäßigkeit der Mittel durch die Polizisten in jedem Fall gewahrt geblieben ist. Hinzu kommt, dass viele der Opfer überraschend jung gewesen sind.Alter Menschen, die im Jahr 2016 in den USA im Verlauf von Polizeieinsätzen getötet wurden Angaben in Prozent unter 18 11 1,87% 18-24 92 15,67% 25-34 188 32,03% 35-44 150 25,55% über 45 139 23,68%
Im Hinblick auf die 11 im Jahr 2016 getöteten Jugendlichen ist nicht klar, was erschreckender ist, dass 3 von ihnen selbst mit einer Schusswaffe bewaffnet waren, als sie getötet wurden, oder der Umstand, dass 5 von ihnen unbewaffnet waren.
Das eigentliche Problem, so scheint es, liegt jedoch in der ethnischen Indizierung, die durch die Erhebung des Guardian nachvollzogen werden kann. Nicht nur für das Jahr 2015 gilt dann, dass sich die statistischen 3,8 Toten pro 1 Million Einwohner nicht gleichmäßig über die ethnischen Minderheiten der US-Bevölkerung verteilen. Während unter der Bevölkerung mit weißer Hautfarbe „nur“ 2,93 Tote pro 1 Million Einwohner zu beklagen sind, waren es unter der Bevölkerung mit schwarzer Hautfarbe 7,27 Tote pro 1 Million Einwohner. Die Website Mapping Police Violence folgert daraus, dass Menschen mit schwarzer Hautfarbe mit einer dreimal höheren Wahrscheinlichkeit in eine tödliche Auseinandersetzung mit Polizisten verwickelt werden, als Menschen mit weißer Hautfarbe. Während dabei 30% der schwarzen Opfer unbewaffnet gewesen seien, gälte dies nur für 19% der weißen Opfer.
Nach den Anschlägen auf weiße Polizisten, die in Dallas und Baton Rouge zu mindestens 8 Opfern geführt haben, steht nun die Frage im Raum, wie es weitergehen soll. Eine geplante Reform des US-Waffengesetzes ist erneut im Senat gescheitert, wie u. a. die Zeit berichtete. Wenn Präsident Obama als Reaktion auf das Attentat von Baton Rouge erklärte, nichts könne Gewalt gegen Polizeibeamte rechtfertigen, so scheint es naheliegend, dass nun bald der Ruf nach einer angemessenen Bewaffnung der Polisten laut werden wird. Nachdem es im Jahr 2014 im Nachgang der Erschießung von Michael Brown durch Polizisten der örtlichen Polizei in Ferguson, Missouri zu langanhaltenden Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Demonstranten und Polizeikräften gekommen war, hatte Obama die paramilitärische Bewaffnung von Polizisten verboten. Diese Entscheidung wird in den kommenden Wochen wohl in die Kritik geraten und mittelfristig wieder aufgehoben werden. – Ob das die Situation dann entschärfen wird, bleibt jedoch abzuwarten.
Was ist Völkermord?
Kommentar von André Maertens
„Bundestag beschließt HK-Resolution: Nach dem Beschluss des Bundestages, dass es sich bei der Ermordung von ca. 1,5 Millionen ArmenierInnen zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts um Völkermord handelt, ist nach einer einmütigen Diskussion im deutschen Parlament nun auch beschlossen worden, dass es sich bei Ermordungen und Tötungen, die mit Schusswaffen deutscher Rüstungsfirmen durchgeführt wurden, um völkermordähnliche Taten handelt, und zwar von Seiten der Bundesregierung und der beteiligten Firmen. Rechtsansprüche seitens der Opfer und Opferfamilien sollen vollständig anerkannt werden. Die Bundesstaatsanwaltschaft ermittelt bereits.“
Tja, so sollte die Zeitungsmeldung lauten, tut sie aber nicht. Zwar konnte sich die deutsche Politik nun dazu durchringen, den Völkermord an den Herero als solchen zu bewerten, doch die im Ersten Weltkrieg begangenen Verbrechen an Zivilisten (etwa auf dem Balkan oder in Belgien, siehe die Bücher von Heinrich Wandt) betrachtet die deutsche Regierung weiterhin nicht als ihre Schuld. Beim Genozid an den ArmenierInnen war die deutsche Politik im Hintergrund beteiligt. Bei den folgenden Verbrechen – etwa den Ermordungen ganzer Dörfer in Griechenland während des deutschen Angriffskrieges ab 1941 – etwa nicht? Die Politologin und Historikerin Elena Stepanova weist darauf hin, dass die 30 Millionen sowjetischen Kriegsopfer im Zweiten Weltkrieg (darunter, so Stepanova, zwei Drittel Zivilisten) in der bundesdeutschen Erinnerung „kein Thema“ seien (siehe: „Den Krieg beschreiben. Der Vernichtungskrieg im Osten in deutscher und russischer Gegenwartsprosa“. Bielefeld: transcript 2009).
Nach 1949 ging es in der BRD im gleichen Geist der Unmenschlichkeit weiter, nun mit Beihilfe zum Mord. Die Firma Heckler & Koch durfte – im Zuge der Wiederbewaffnung deutscher Nazi-Militärs – Waffen herstellen und in Kooperation mit den folgenden Bundesregierungen von CDU und von SPD in alle Welt verkaufen. An die 10 Millionen Gewehre allein des Typs G3 wurden exportiert und viele von ihnen wandern seitdem zwischen Krisen- und Kriegsgebieten hin und her. Die von Jürgen Grässlin ermittelte Zahl von 1,5 Millionen Toten durch HK-Waffen wie das G3-Schnellfeuergewehr ist seit ihrer Berechnung im Jahr 2001 leider noch gestiegen. Ist dieses extreme Ausmaß an Waffenbereitstellung für Kriege und Diktaturen (beispielsweise Iran und Chile) Genozid, eben verteilt auf verschiedene Länder und Kontinente? (Wobei es Schwerpunkte gibt: Afrikanische, asiatische und amerikanische Länder, die selbst keine Waffen herstellen, sind am meisten mit HK-Schusswaffen „verpestet“ worden.) Wie ist in Zeiten des globalen Waffenhandels die Definition von Völkermord?
Es stellt sich die Frage nach der Verantwortung beziehungsweise nach der Schuld. „Der Bürger“ kann natürlich behaupten: Das ist nicht meine Sache. Stimmt. Er produziert nicht, er liefert nicht. Auch die Bundesregierung kann dieses Argument vorbringen, wenn auch hier schon mehr Verstrickungen oder sogar direkte Geschäftsbeteiligungen bestehen, etwa bei Bundeswehr-Schenkungen (immer auch Diplomatie). Die Firmen haben keine Ausrede, sie stellen die Kriegswaffen her und machen den Profit. Sind sie alleine verantwortlich? Ja und nein. Wenn – wie in den Tagen der landesweiten Fußballeuphorie – sich die gesamte Nation als Jubelgemeinschaft empfindet, muss sie sich dann nicht auch als moralisch belastbare und juristisch verantwortliche Gesellschaft ansehen? Ist es Kollektivbestrafung, wenn ich für Waffenhandel und dessen blutige Folgen moralisch beschuldigt werde, nur weil die das Verbrechen begehende Firma im Bundesgebiet ansässig ist? Oder ist das staatsbürgerliche Aufrichtigkeit? „Mein“ Staat nimmt Geld ein, er unterstützt die Waffenfirmen. „Mein“ Staat soll – wenn man denn so denkt – eine (kriegstaugliche) Bundeswehr haben und deren Waffen am besten selbst produzieren, auch wenn das angesichts der Auftragsbegrenztheit einer einzelnen Armee Export zur Folge haben muss. Diese Exportlieferungen haben wiederum die unkontrollierbare Verbreitung und Anwendung der Waffen, also Mitschuld am Leid der Opfer zur Folge. Und braucht es denn wirklich eine staatsbürgerliche Verbindung, um mich verantwortlich zu fühlen? Reicht nicht die menschliche Solidarität und die Tatsache, dass man sich den Produzenten des Todes nicht in den Weg stellt? Wer ehrlich ist, muss die eigene Verantwortung an gesamtgesellschaftlichen Prozessen akzeptieren. Waffenhandel und Völkermord gehören dazu. Eine erste politisch dringliche Maßnahme wäre die strafrechtliche Belangung der juristisch Verantwortlichen in Regierung und Wirtschaft. Das können und sollten „der Einzelne“ und die Gesellschaft fordern.
The rule-making body of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday defeated an amendment brought by Bernie Sanders delegates to abolish superdelegates — the unelected party elites who make up 15 percent of all delegates and are allowed to cast a vote for the presidential candidate of their choice, unbound by the popular vote. But the rules committee did approve a compromise measure that binds some superdelegates to the results of their state primaries.
The debate over the first amendment, which failed 108 to 58, pit insurgent Sanders backers against the party establishment.
Advocates of the amendment argued that it would make the presidential selection process more democratic, ensuring that all presidential delegates are elected by popular vote. Opponents of the amendment argued that the superdelegate system ensured a greater diversity of voices and that there should be more deliberation before it is changed.
“It’s been stated that if this resolution were adopted that it would pit elected officials or politicians against community activists who would be vying to become delegates to the convention,” said former Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia, an amendment backer. “As a politician and as a community activist in my community, all I can say is this is a silly argument to make!”
Garcia was referring to an argument first raised in a Congressional Black Caucus letter sent in June where the lawmakers argued that they preferred the superdelegate system because it allowed them to evade “the burdensome necessity of competing against constituents for the honor of representing the state during the nominating process.”
“I am fully aware of those who have concerns with the superdelegate process. But I’m also aware of the issues of diversity and the balance that superdelegates have given,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, defending the current system as allowing greater diversity. “I want no one left along the highway of despair because their voice was not heard.”
“On the issue of inclusion, on the issue of racial justice, this is not justice,” Lilian Sharpley, an African-American Ohio Democrat who backed the amendment, argued. “We need to trust the people to vote.”
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, a superdelegate speaking on behalf of the Clinton campaign, offered procedural arguments saying that the issue itself was not germane to the committee.
“Everyone agrees that this is a complicated issue; it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. But it’s not an issue that this committee can definitely address today,” he said. He also went on to cite a Vietnam veteran he personally knew who was a superdelegate, saying that the system “has provided opportunities for participation.”
After the defeat of the first amendment, the Sanders and Clinton camps met and came up with draft language for a “unity commission” to meet shortly after the general election to draw up changes to the party’s nominating process.
As part of the language of that proposal, which passed the committee 158 to 6, the commission will be charged to “make specific recommendations providing that members of Congress, governors and distinguished party leaders … remain unpledged and free to support their nominee of choice, but that remaining unpledged delegates be required to cast their vote at the convention for candidates in proportion to the vote received for each candidate in their state.”
The Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel reports that this would effectively bind two-thirds of superdelegates to voting as their states vote in the presidential nominating process.
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Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
I am not a servile puppy dog.
—Ted Cruz (paraphrased)
I will be your champion.
“AMERICA! WHAT HAPPENED to it? Where did it go? How has it flown away?” Three questions thrown down from the altar of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, by Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, patron saint of 9/11, to the 2,472 Republican delegates assembled on the Floor of the Quicken Loans Arena, also known as the Q. The day’s theme was MASA, Make America Safe Again, part of #MAGA, a popular hashtag among Trump’s online supporters, who call themselves the #TrumpTrain. MAGA is an acronym for the candidate’s slogan: Make America Great Again. The sound of MAGA, said aloud, brings to mind a pagan deity. Like: In the name of all that is good and decent, MAGA commands you, go forth and slay the barbarian hordes!
Before last week, I would have thought it naïve to ask what happened to America. But the holy terror of Giuliani’s speech (and please do watch it in full) has made the question worth asking.
Near the edge of the Floor of the Q, I found myself talking to Laurence Schiff, an Arizona delegate from the Kingman area. Schiff is a psychiatrist who heads up mental health programs in seven prisons, a Tea Party man, an early convert from Cruz to Trump, and a self-styled historian with his own talk radio show. He looked like a country doctor in late middle age, his neat, formal clothes neither new nor worn, his mouth turned slightly downward. His moist, earnest eyes fixed me through his glasses.
Schiff quickly turned our conversation to the breadth of MAGA’s appeal. “Donald Trump appeals more than you’d suspect to Latins and to minorities,” he said. “My wife is Latin. She is the biggest Trumpster around. Latins are extremely family-oriented. They tend to be pro-life. With African Americans, they tend to be very law and order.” At this point, I hushed Schiff. Giuliani had taken the stage. He began by thanking the police officers in Dallas, Baton Rogue, and Cleveland. Giuliani’s love for the police was absolute and ecumenical: “Black, white, Latino, of every race, every color, every creed, every sexual orientation…” His questions came as an improvised solo, capping a steady build with a flourish of aggravation:
“It’s time to make America safe again. It’s time to make America one again. One America!”
Giuliani verified the count with a wag of his index finger. One.
“There’s a war on the police,” Schiff said, turning to me.
“What happened to …,” Giuliani began, his pistons turning over once, not starting, and firing back up. “There’s no black America,” he said, waving to his left. “There’s no white America,” he waved to his right. “There is just … Ah-mehr-ick-ahh!” Two hands stretched out, and throttled the air, as though Giuliani was a sorcerer and America a chimera or genie that he was summoning up from the depths. Then came his three questions, shouted over the cheers. “America!” The voice high and thrillingly urgent: “What happened to it? Where did it go? How has it flown away?”
“This is the most electrifying speech of the night,” said Sandra Dowling, an Arizona delegate. She had cropped red hair, an assortment of pro-Trump pins, and a steady, self-assured voice. She was around Schiff’s age, with a doctorate in education, and she had once served as Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools.
“I like the passion, the intensity,” she said, of Giuliani. “The whole way that he sucks everybody in. He’s not lecturing to people here. He’s pulling them in and making them part of it.”
By this time, Giuliani had moved on, from domestic to foreign, police to military. “To defeat Islamic extremist terrorists, we must put them on defense,” he said. “If they are at war with us, which they have declared. We must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them!” And from there, to the Iran deal, to Hillary Clinton, to Benghazi. He paused, taking in the thunderous chants of “USA! USA! USA!”
The followers of MAGA tend toward three-syllable chants, with equal and forceful emphasis given to each syllable. The “USA!” chant is a sunny reprise from more issue-specific chants like “Lock Her Up!” and the edgy “All Lives Matter!” (Matter, as delivered, sounds more like “Mahrr!”) Of the three letters in U.S.A., it is the A., America!, that matters most to them, not the States, certainly not the United. The “U.S.” part of the chant may be a case of linguistic atavism, an immigrant’s nostalgia for the country she has long since left. That country is, to put it plainly, the past—some of it experienced, some of it romanticized, most of it imagined.
“Now listen to this!” said Dowling. “This is the only time, all day long, that all of the delegates have come together. This is what a convention is supposed to be about.”
“Overcoming your differences, you mean?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “Look at this like a pie. You may not like the taste of the rest of the pie. But if you can find just one little sliver that you can latch onto, then you can latch onto the campaign. And that’s what I think he’s doing. He’s going through here and he’s just pulling in slivers. For everybody here. You can feel it.”
“To a certain degree, we’re props,” Schiff said, cutting in. “Something that’s made for television.” He seemed to be suggesting that the convention wasn’t really about the Floor. He might or might not have been suggesting that it was a televised simulacrum of a bottom-up democracy, with the delegates shipped in on coach flights and diesel busses to be fed at the Marriott and spurred into partisan ecstasies by the ship. “Whip” was the word on the door of a kind of control room in the hallway behind the Floor, where a few tall and formidable-looking men in suits marshaled an army of cheerleaders in orange baseball hats (convention ops), white hats (regional whips), yellow hats (state whips), and green hats (alternate whips). Many looked to be college age. They all had earpieces and “Making America Great, Est. 1776” stitched on the back of their color-ranked hats. Like the Borg on Star Trek, the word “whip” can refer to any single member of the operation, or the machine as a whole.
Schiff seemed to have an internal whip, a governor who guided him back to the party line. After referring to himself as a prop, he paused and shifted gears. “You need fifty, sixty million votes to win the presidency,” he said. “I’ve made a study of this. That’s why I think Donald Trump is the only one who can win.”
Giuliani, amplified, skull-headed, enormous on the screen: … She is in favor of even taking Syrian refugees, even though the Islamic State has told us they are going to put their operatives in with the Syrian refugees, operatives who are terrorists…
I asked Dowling which sliver of the Trump pie was hers. She said: “I want somebody, when they walk into the room, he or she, I want everyone in the world to know that they’re in charge…”
… they come into Western Europe, they come here, and kill us!
Dowling: “I want everyone to know that when they speak, the rest of the world listens.”
… there’s no next election. This is it! There’s no more time for us left!
“And with Donald Trump, the rest of the world will listen, and they will pay attention. National security is a big issue for me. I’m looking for strength, courage, and chutzpah.”
… No more time to repeat our mistakes of the Clinton-Obama years. Donald Trump is the agent of change.
“I want somebody to go in and go toe to toe with the president of North Korea and tell him the way it is and not be told ‘get on your hands and knees and beg me.’”
… He will be the leader of the change we need.
“I don’t want to be begging anymore.”ALTAR BOYS
Rudolph William Lewis Giuliani did not serve as one of the principal investigators of the 9/11 attacks. He did not kill the man who carried them out. As New York City’s mayor on 9/11, Giuliani led the response, the cleanup, and the first phase of rebuilding. He came on the scene as the leader of a wounded city-state and emerged from the ashes a minor Republican statesman. His main role was to speak about the tragedy on TV. His first Sept. 11, 2001 press conference was given while walking down the street, heading downtown less than an hour after Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. “People should remain calm,” he said. He gave two more press conferences that afternoon and evening. On Sept. 23, he appeared at a prayer service at Yankee Stadium alongside Oprah Winfrey, who called him “America’s Mayor.” On Sept. 24, he went on David Letterman. On Oct. 1, he gave a moving and humane address to the United Nations. On that day, he did not talk about radical Islamic terrorism. Just terrorism—that one word was enough.
Having established a solid link with 9/11 in the public mind, Giuliani’s relationship with the event underwent a shift, from mourner to owner. By 2004, his finances and connections and political prospects much improved, Giuliani was talking about 9/11 as though it were his property, an exotic pet, an exhibit that could be packed up into a suitcase and displayed at his pleasure. He showed it off with a victim’s righteousness and a prosecutor’s zeal, and started doing some heavy spiritual lifting for the Republican Party. Last week in Cleveland, he extended his proprietary 9/11 halo to Trump, “a man with a big heart.” Trump, Giuliani said, had donated money to injured police and firefighters. Trump had done so anonymously, and he wasn’t going to be happy with Giuliani for revealing his kindness in public. “Every time New York suffered a tragedy,” Giuliani said, “Donald Trump was there to help.”
Giuliani had assumed the mayoralty by mastering big-city racial politics. He was the electoral embodiment of Travis Bickle’s “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets” and Howard Beale, the-mad-as-hell news anchor. Giuliani had no problem with people of other races. His problem was with the panhandlers, the thugs, and the squeegee men. Patrick Moses Dorismond, who was shot by a plainclothes N.Y.P.D. officer, was an actual altar boy. But to Giuliani (then running against Hillary Clinton for the Senate) he was no altar boy, he was a man with a propensity to violence and a sealed juvenile court record, which Giuliani proceeded to release. An arrest that happened more than ten years before, when Dorismond was 13 years old, was, to Giuliani, highly relevant. The case of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed immigrant from Guinea who was shot forty-one times by plain-clothed NYPD, was, meanwhile, unfortunate. All four shooters were acquitted. Some years later, when Giuliani was no longer mayor, one of the officers was promoted.
(And yes, it is worth remembering the thousands of crime victims, disproportionately African-American, who died in New York and other big cities during the crime wave that ran from the mid-1980’s through the early 1990’s. Crime rates fell in those cities, most dramatically in New York, during Giuliani’s 1994-2001 mayoralty. How much credit Giuliani deserves for that life-saving reduction is the subject of much debate. Less debatable is the effect of his “get tough” approach on the incarceration rate of black men, the killings of black men by police, and his attempts, in the Dorismond case and others, to turn those dead black men into votes.)
As for the Muslims, Giuliani said, he would limit his rage to the barbaric terrorists who attacked us … people and forces who hijacked not just airplanes, but a great religion and turned it into a creed of terrorism dedicated to killing all of us. Those last words are from his previous red-meat speech, delivered on the first day of the 2004 RNC, in New York City. Giuliani didn’t want to kill all the Muslims, only the bad ones, the ones who are with the terrorists. He compared the pre-9/11 view of Islamic terrorism to Europe’s appeasement of Hitler during the run-up to World War II.
Long before Cruz dreamed aloud about carpet-bombing the Islamic State, Giuliani had taken the semi-sublimated racial animus of the Republican Party’s George Wallace wing (“Stand Up For America” was Wallace’s 1968 slogan) and attached it to a new and more fearsome target, al Qaeda. He used it to frame the country’s Bush-era adventures as a kind of war of righteous vengeance. The new war sounded at times like a holy war. Once, George W. Bush used the word “crusade.”
On Monday night, standing on the high altar of MAGA, Giuliani defined America’s enemy this way:
“For the purposes of the media, I did not say all of Islam. I did not say most of Islam. I said Islamic extremist terrorism. You know who you are and we’re coming to get you.”
For the purposes of the media. Either Giuliani wanted to make it clear that he was only talking about a subset of Islam. Or he wanted to make clear his wish to declare war on all of Islam, and his frustration at not being able to raise this flag in public. I believe that he was doing both, at once. Unlike Trump, Giuliani has a prosecutor’s mastery of rhetoric. He knows how to communicate a message and deny it at the same time.
Here is Giuliani on Larry King talking about Iraq during his brief run at the presidency in 2006:
The whole strategy has to be a strategy of not just pacifying places but holding them, and holding them for some period of time. It reminds me a little, on a much bigger scale, of what I had to do to reduce crime in New York City. We had to not just go into neighborhoods and make them safe, which the city had been doing for years, but the city had been going in there, making them safe, and then leaving … I’d take out Saddam Hussein in a second again … here’s what I would change. Do it with more troops. Maybe 150,000.
Making them safe. We need someone to bring law and order to the neighborhoods.
Trump, who has taken advice from Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, two of Richard Nixon’s henchmen, has borrowed from Giuliani’s classic obsessions and added illegal immigration to his witch’s brew. Trump may not know or care to know that Barack Obama has spent eight years pounding on al Qaeda, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but also through the use of drones and other covert campaigns in Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. In his two terms, George W. Bush ordered 49 drone strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban-associated targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Obama, during his first two years of office, ordered 174. These are facts, but to Trump and Giuliani, they may not matter. After all, what good does killing radical Islamic terrorists do if Obama refuses to call the enemy by its name?
The crowd in Cleveland was primed for Giuliani. They howled with pleasure upon hearing from Milwaukee’s sheriff, David Clark, that “blue lives matter.” The slogan sounded more credible when enunciated by an African-American. Clark has told the people of Milwaukee that obtaining their own firearms is preferable to calling 911, part of “a duty to protect yourself and your family.” On Monday, he lumped together Ferguson and Baltimore (mass street protests) with Baton Rouge (the lone-wolf murder of three police officers) as “a collapse of the social order … I call it anarchy.”
This was Giuliani’s task on Monday: Raise the emotional temperature. Melt down the differences that separate the factions. Fuse them into a mass. Political conventions customarily open with red-meat speeches, but providence saw fit to disrupt the opening nights of 2012 (Tampa, Florida) and 2008 (Saint Paul, Minnesota) with hurricanes (Isaac, Gustav). The opening night of the RNC’s 2004 convention had also featured Rudy Giuliani, at Madison Square Garden, with a presidential run still in his future. “They heard from us,” he said, claiming victory in Iraq in Afghanistan.
The Giuliani of 2016 was more familiar, with less to lose. The climax of his speech came about a minute in, just before the three questions about the whereabouts of America. He was talking about the police and the firemen:
“…when they come in to save you. They don’t care what color you are! When they come to save your life, they don’t ask if you’re black or white. They just come! To save you!”
Save you from who? Was Giuliani talking about Ferguson, or Baton Rouge, or Dallas, or the World Trade Center, or al Qaeda, or the Islamic State, or Benghazi, or the mother whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant, or the Islamic State operative who had come in over the porous border with Mexico? (This last scenario has never actually happened.) Giuliani was talking about all of these things, and injecting into each of them the image of two burning towers, and the wall that Trump would build around his republic of Make America Great Again to keep all of them out.
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A new leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee includes one in which communications personnel share their considerable fury over a reporter’s question about Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct.
In May, Fred Lucas, a freelance reporter who said he was working for FoxNews.com, emailed the DNC press office with a question. Donald Trump had called Hillary Clinton an enabler of Bill Clinton’s alleged misconduct with women, and Lucas wanted to know what the Committee thought of the attack strategy.
“Is there a Fuck You emoji?” Luis Miranda, communications director for the DNC, wrote in an email to his colleagues.
Rachel Palermo, DNC press assistant, replied: “hahahahahahahaha.”
Mark Paustenbach, national press secretary and deputy communications director, wrote: “We’re not responding at all.”
Lucas’s question came in response to comments Trump made about Bill and Hillary Clinton on Fox News. “She’s not a victim. She was an enabler,” Trump said. “She worked with him. She was – some of the women have been totally destroyed. Some of these women have been destroyed. And Hillary worked with him.”
Three days after his first email, Lucas emailed the DNC again. He wrote: “I hoped the DNC could weigh in on the appropriateness of Trump attacking along these lines? I would really appreciate any response you have. Thanks very much.”
Palermo emailed Miranda and Paustenbach: “The asshole from fox emailed us again. I did some research and there’s still no ‘fuck you’ emoji, unfortunately.”
The DNC declined to comment.
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A new trove of internal Democratic National Committee emails, stretching back to April 2016, released by Wikileaks show that the organization’s senior staff chafed at Bernie Sanders’s continued presence in the presidential primary. Staffers were also irritated by criticism that they were biased towards Hillary Clinton.
In May, chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (DWS) reacted to an MSNBC anchor criticizing her treatment of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary by trying to force her to apologize.
On May 18th, DNC staffer Kate Houghton forwarded to Wasserman-Schultz a Breitbart News story highlighting remarks by MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski in which she called for the chairwoman to step down over perceived bias against Sanders during the presidential primary.
Wasserman-Schultz reacted angrily, writing that this was the “LAST straw” and instructing communications director Luis Miranda to call MSNBC president Phil Griffin to demand an apology from Brzezinski.
Miranda noted that Wasserman-Schultz had reached out to NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd on the subject earlier. You can see that email below:
Later in the day, Miranda sent a follow up email to Todd laying out a memo trying to convince him that Wasserman-Schultz was not in fact unfair to Bernie Sanders. Todd asked him if a call with Brzezinski was really a “good idea.”
Miranda tried to de-escalate the situation, telling him that “if Mika just doesn’t like [Wasserman-Schultz], I’m not sure it’s worth either of their time”:
Annoyance at Bernie Sanders and his fans is a reoccurring theme in the emails.
Three weeks prior to the Democratic primary in California, the largest primary of the contest, DNC staffer Mark Paustenbach, the organization’s national press secretary, sent an email to Miranda pitching an anti-Bernie story that the candidate “never got his act together, that his campaign was a mess”:
A day earlier, Miranda complained that Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, had “no backbone” for complaining that DNC head Wasserman-Schultz shared some responsibility for divisiveness in the party.
Paustenbach was trying to respond to a press inquiry about a raucous Nevada state convention where the news media and opponents of the Sanders campaign complained that there was violence, including thrown chairs, that didn’t actually happen:
When Sanders campaign chair Jeff Weaver appeared on cable news to defend the conduct of Sanders backers at the Nevada convention, Wasserman-Schultz reacted harshly, writing: “Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.” There was no apparent effort made to actually investigate the claims against Sanders.
As early as the end of April, the DNC was mocking up emails to message to their base about the end of Sanders’s campaign. Eric Reif, a digital staffer at the organization, sent around an email template that would be used by chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
DNC Deputy Communications Director Eric Walker, however, mocked as “#bernieclickbait” the idea that the DNC was tipping towards Hillary Clinton:
The emails also show internal pushback on major Sanders causes such as holding more debates and ending superdelegates.
On May 2nd, a public relations staffer named Erik Smith sent an email to DNC officials updating them on the positions of both Democratic campaigns on a May debate in California. According to Smith, the Clinton team stated that they would not participate in a debate unless it was DNC-sanctioned:
On May 18, Wasserman-Schultz sent an email to communications staff listing out talking points defending her decision to schedule only a handful of debates during the primary season:
But Miranda reacted in a mocking tone to Sanders welcoming a debate in California, which the Clinton campaign had already agreed upon earlier in the primary season:
A day earlier, Fox News editor Bill Sammon forwarded a note to the DNC in which he offered both remaining Democratic candidates a chance for a televised debate in California.
That email was a follow up to one he wrote on May 13, formally requesting that the DNC sanction a debate in California. “Given that the race is still contested, and given that you sanctioned a final trio of debates, the last of which has not yet been held, we believe a final debate would be an excellent opportunity for the candidates to, as you said when you announced these debates, ‘share Democrats’ vision for the country,'” he wrote.
“I don’t really think this makes sense. The RNC would never do an MSNBC debate for the same reason that we shouldn’t do this one,” Wasserman-Schultz responded the same day.
On May 19, Miranda appeared on Fox News and told the network they were “negotiating” for another debate, and that they “know the interest is there.” The day before, Amy Dacey, the CEO of the DNC, signed off on that messaging. Although Sanders and Fox News both agreed to debate, the DNC and Clinton campaigned never sanctioned the debate and it never happened.
After Maine Democrats passed a resolution seeking to eliminate superdelegates, DNC Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Participation Donna Brazille called it “another lunacy.” Dacey wrote that “they have no jurisdiction” to try to eliminate superdelegates:
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Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.From:MARSHALL@dnc.org
To: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
The email was sent to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. It’s unclear who the “someone” in this message could be — though a member of the press seems like a safe bet. A request for comment sent to Marshall was not immediately returned.
[UPDATE at 1:03 p.m. ET: Marshall emails to say “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.” We have asked him who that surrogate could possibly be.]
And although Sanders is not mentioned by name, he was the only Jewish candidate from either party — an apparent weakness that Marshall believed the party could exploit in favor of Hillary Clinton.
It is also unclear why the Democratic National Committee, which isn’t supposed to favor one Democratic candidate over another until they receive a nomination, would have attempted to subvert the Sanders campaign on the grounds that “he is an atheist.”
A reply to Marshall’s email from DNC CEO Amy Dacey read only “AMEN.”
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