San Francisco District 8, Castro Supervisor, Scott Wiener has released an ugly blueprint: an ordinance in search of a problem that threatens to turn the Castro into a First-Amendment-free zone.
Sometimes it can be small, local issues or ordinances that can impactÂ the narrativeÂ â€“ if not set it â€“ in a broader state, national or international context.
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests that began in Zuccotti Park, and spread like wildfire across the country, and then internationally, demonstrated this perfectly.
Rumors of a coordinated effort among 18 mayors and the Department of Homeland Security were unintentionally confirmed by Oakland mayor, Jean Quan, in an interview with the BBC (excerpted on The Takeaway radio programâ€“audio of Quan starts at the 5:30 mark), just before a wave of violent raids against OWS encampments across the country. The success of the Occupy movement represents a threat. A national threat, apparently, to be countered locally.
San Francisco has been a hotbed of protest and politics, and anyone who knows anything about San Francisco history is aware of the relationship between gay rights and the iconic Castro district. From Harvey Milkâ€™s historic campaign for Supervisor, his election and tragic assassination in 1978 to the riots following Dan Whiteâ€™s puny sentence for the assassination, as well as the powerful mobilization of Act Up, the Castro has shone as an international model for its thriving community and the political power it has wielded in the interest of its primarily gay residents.
From fiery political speeches, candlelight vigils, victories and defeats, the Castro has brought the community together in sickness and in health. A place where women in suits mingle with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Where politicians know to embrace diversity as an election imperative. Not because of national gay organizations setting up shop to drain money better served filling local coffers. Nor because of Â its stores selling over-priced rainbow colored crap usingÂ protectionist trade practicesÂ under the guise of Â history, more concerned with what you buy for the Matthew Shepherd memorials than the tears you cry.
The powerful draw of the Occupy movement and the global condemnation of the often heavy-handed, violent response have local governments across the country scrambling for solutions. The First Amendment is under attack with unprecedented firepower, as the protections it affords its citizens to assemble and protest, and the press to observe and report, is being trampled on with jackboots, pepper-spray, rubber bullets and tear gas.
Against this backdrop, San Francisco District 8, Castro Supervisor, Scott Wiener, perhaps the most insipid and uninspiring in the colorful seat’s history, is proposing an ordinance that would have Mike Bloomberg wet-dreaming, were he to get his hands on it. Wiener’s biggest claim to fame, to date, has been to save San Francisco from nudists without towels to place between their butts and public seating. Seriously.
His latest attempt, however, is a lot more alarming. A stupefying, muddled, impossible to follow or enforce,Â unconstitutionallyÂ vague piece of garbage that hands over any control over, orÂ responsibilityÂ for the district he was elected to serve, and gives it to to the Director of the Department of Public WorksÂ .
A local fight over control of the giant rainbow flag that flies over the Castro, located in Harvey Milk Plaza, has been simmering for ten monthsÂ between activists and theÂ politicallyÂ powerful Merchants of Upper MarketÂ andÂ Castro (MUMC),Â over an alleged “agreement” with the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW), unable to be produced by either party in spite of he city’s powerfulÂ SunshineÂ laws. A meeting between activists and DPW scheduled for October 26, 2011 at City Hall wasÂ abruptlyÂ cancelled at Wiener’s behest. What seems local and petty on the surface offers a sobering view of what happens when representation of corporate interests trumps the desire of citizens toÂ expressÂ themselves legally.
Wiener’s behavior, and bizarre release of an ordinance in search of a problem has done little other than actually precipitate an Occupy Castro demonstration. HisÂ interferenceÂ that resulted in the termination of a meeting between activists and DPW is blatantly personal, and likely in retaliation for a September 11thÂ anniversaryÂ event honoring Flight 93Â hero Mark Bingham in the very plaza he seeks to regulate intoÂ obliteration.
Despite resistanceÂ by MUMCÂ to any efforts to lower the flag, andÂ despiteÂ WienerÂ ignoring repeated requests by activists to get involved in brokering the dispute, he had no qualms makingÂ politicalÂ hay once theÂ successfullyÂ organized commemoration was in full swing. But the microphone was intercepted by Michael Petrelis, an organizer of the event, before Wiener reached it. Excoriating him for his hypocrisy and lack of leadership, in front of media hordes, San Francisco mayor, Ed Lee, and other San Francisco power brokers, Wiener’s subsequent speech was anÂ excruciating, cringe-inducingÂ embarrassment.
What could have served for a model for all jurisdictions in San Francisco, and what the city needs, is an ordinance designed to advance and protect freedom of expression and clarify to activists, celebrants, the general public, and anyone seeking to enjoy their rights to free expression, or to peaceably assemble how to best do so. And instructions for law enforcement that balance public safety with free speech. That, however, would have required leadership.
Wiener’s proposed ordinance is an ugly blueprint. Attacks on the homeless and the city’s most vulnerable citizens, along with lack of affordable housing and healthcare require more community involvement than ever. It threatens to choke the Castro’s creativity, silence the rich and diverse voices, and turn the vibrant nightlife into a petty, curfew controlled, First-Amendment-free zone. And of course, where Occupations can be killed before they even begin.
This is what a sanitized, consumerist Dinseyfication looks like. Anyone who respects the Castroâ€™s rich political history should decry this ordinance, and get Scott Wiener the hell out office before he actually inflicts some serious damage. San Francisco Supervisors are often derided for their silliness, not always without good reason, but the office of the Supervisor is not a playground for local merchant group hacks or gangly, amateur-hour politicians with bruised egos exacting revenge or treating the First Amendment as aÂ politicalÂ toy to advance their unpromising careers.
The biggest question is whether Wieners proposed ordinance is a purposeful, cunning, barely disguised First Amendment attack aimed to arm San Francisco in advance or a stunninglyÂ ignorantÂ and misguided attempt to score political points without realizing the dangerous precedent it can inflict with the stroke of a pen.
The national conversation that began with OWS continues, but it’s on a local level where many of the battles will be fought and victories won.
I am one of the activists whoÂ believeÂ that control over the flagpole by MUMC, regardless of an agreement or lack thereof with DPW, threatens the First Amendment rights of activists for whom commemoration and acts of solidarity along with theÂ resultingÂ education and action, are moreÂ importantÂ the consumerist arguments made by MUMC. I support MUMC having some role as well, but not one that lacksÂ consensus,Â consistentÂ applicationÂ andÂ transparency.Â I was also supposed to attend the meeting on October 26, 2011 withÂ Amy L. Brown,Â Acting City Administrator for the City and County of San Francisco, which was abruptly cancelled by her assistant with no explanation.Â
Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-â€‹known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoyâ€‹.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, â€œa nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.â€ Feinâ€™s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newmanâ€™s Own First Amendment Award.
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White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown
In a rare move the Biden White House on Wednesday mocked House Republicans with a popular internet meme to highlight remarks made by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz that show how the Florida Republican is blaming the impending, likely shutdown of the federal government on Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Congressman Gaetz specifically says “We cannot blame Joe Biden” and “We cannot blame House Democrats” for it.
Gaetz, who did not vote to hand McCarthy the gavel back in January, for weeks has increasingly been targeting the House Speaker. Last week he threatened he would get McCarthy removed as Speaker, going as far as to say he was “out of compliance.” On Tuesday a reporter found a resolution with links to Gaetz declaring the Office of the Speaker “vacant” on a baby changing table in a House restroom.
Fox News’ Liz Elkind reported on Gaetz’s comments via social media, “MATT GAETZ pins shutdown on McCarthy: ‘We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker McCarthy’s fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
The White House reposted them, and the “worst person” meme, known as the “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point.” The meme was published in 2018 by Clickhole. a satirical website.
The federal government will shut down in 10 days if Speaker McCarthy cannot pass legislation to keep the government funded after September 30. That legislation will need to be acceptable to the Senate, and President Joe Biden. House Republicans, intent on stripping funding for Ukraine, defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations, along with the Dept. of Justice and FBI, are digging in their heels amid “chaos” and “infighting.” Some have called it a GOP “civil war.”
See the White House’s post below or at this link.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 20, 2023
‘Brazen and Misguided’: Schumer Decimates Tuberville’s ‘Act of Desperation’ – and Threatens to Hold Senators in DC
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took strong action on Wednesday, slamming U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, vowing to get several officers in the U.S. Armed Forces confirmed to top posts, and threatening that if the Georgia Republican lawmaker who has blockaded well over 300 military promotions does not release his holds he will hold Senators in D.C. over the weekend.
“In an act of desperation, Sen. Tuberville is trying to use a procedural step to overcome his own holds,” Majority Leader Schumer wrote on social media Wednesday afternoon, before delivering a floor speech. “You read it right. His own holds.”
“He is trying to make himself the gatekeeper of which officers are promoted or languish,” Schumer added. “We can’t allow this to continue. We’re taking action.”
On the floor of the Senate he added: “We cannot allow Senator Tuberville to decide which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted and which get to languish. Which military families are able to settle in their new posts, and which must remain in limbo. We cannot we should not allow that to be the case.”
“So I have just filed cloture on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff. These men should have already been confirmed. They should already be serving in their new positions,” Schumer said. “The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided senator.”
“But this is where we are. In the end, the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to overcome Senator Tuberville’s blockade of these three nominees by voting for cloture then the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them,” he vowed. “And these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions and the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”
It is rare for a Senate Leader to target one member of the body, and even more rare to do so by name, but Senator Tuberville’s blockade, which he began in February, has harmed military readiness, according to multiple top Pentagon officials and former officials.
Tuberville has said he has blocked at least 319 military promotions, which require Senate confirmation, in response to the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing service members who need to travel out of state to obtain abortion health care services. Many GOP-majority states have imposed abortion bans, forcing out-of travel.
But Schumer’s reference to “gatekeeper,” and later, in his floor speech saying, “which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted,” may also refer to Tuberville’s unprecedented personal attacks on individual officers awaiting promotion.
Last month the Georgia freshman Republican Senator targeted over 20 individual U.S. Military officers, promoting an attack on their remarks supporting diversity and equity programs, or even, in one case, blasting one officer for their “celebration” of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Tuberville, who denied holding up hundreds of promotions is having a damaging effect on the military and morale, also has said he is blocking these promotions because the Biden administration is “woke.”
Recently, Tuberville told Bloomberg News each military officer’s promotion takes two hours of voting by the Senate, which could take them up individually despite his block. Tuberville falsely said voting on all the promotions would take “no time at all” to complete.
Watch Majority Leader Schumer below or at this link.
Majority Leader Schumer (D) says the Senate will vote on stalled military promotions individually:
“The Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them … and the abortion policy that Sen. Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Sen. Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.” pic.twitter.com/zBxzcJrGkZ
— The Recount (@therecount) September 20, 2023
Fetterman Vows to GOP ‘Jagoffs’ He Will ‘Save Democracy by Wearing a Suit’ but He Has Two Conditions
Amid several days of right-wing, Republican, and Fox News outrage targeting U.S. Senator John Fetterman after Senators were told they may now wear casual attire on the floor, the Pennsylvania Democrat is promising to “save democracy by wearing a suit,” but he has two conditions.
Senator Fetterman stands at least six feet eight inches tall and weighs in at 270 pounds, according to The Washington Post, which attempted this week to debunk right-wing conspiracy theories that he has a “body double.”
He is known for wearing Carhartt sweatshirts and shorts more often than suits and ties, and after he was elected last year many in the media worried how he would transition to the more formal restrictions expected of sitting U.S. Senators. As it turns out there is no actual “dress code” that applies to Senators, and some, like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), have taken advantage of that fact on occasion.
Ted Cruz came in t shirt and shorts and nobody said boo. pic.twitter.com/PSRqhKm48x
— Myron Nelson (@Myronnelson) September 19, 2023
Some, like one menswear editor, have taken the opportunity to mock other unique dress aspects of some political figures.
i hope republicans institute a stricter dress code
1. no low-rise pants with short jackets and insane shoes
2. no black dress shirts with light-colored ties; no suits without a jacket
3. no tan shoes with dark suits; no dress sneakers or “fun socks”
4. no scotch tape on ties https://t.co/rAMx7S8uia pic.twitter.com/AkXYfWkoQf
— derek guy (@dieworkwear) September 20, 2023
On Tuesday Sen. Fetterman mocked his detractors, including Fox News, which has aired at least several segments on his casual attire while suggesting the relaxed enforcement of the already non-existent “dress code” in the nation’s top deliberative body is an example of the “decline of standards in everything.”
One of Fetterman’s detractors has been having her own challenges this week: U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), caught vaping, taking photos, and allegedly engaged in sexual groping during a performance of a family-friendly musical.
In response to a Fox News social media post that claimed “People are furious after the Senate dropped its dress code requirement,” Sen. Fetterman said: “I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they’ll make me a folk hero.”
On Wednesday, Fetterman continued his colorful remarks, while mocking his critics – namely, House Republicans – who, he suggested, feel sweats are the end of the American republic.
The House is currently mired in “chaos,” a word Reuters, Fox News, MSNBC, The Hill, Axios, The Washington Post, and others have used to described the state of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s conference just eleven days before what appears to be a likely shutdown of the federal government. It appears less and less likely Republicans will be able to pass legislation that will keep the government open after September 30, and continue funding Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
“If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week,” Sen. Fetterman wrote.
See the social media photos above or at this link.
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