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Of Ordinance, Order and Occupation

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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 impact the narrative – if not set it – 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 program–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 Milk’s historic campaign for Supervisor, his election and tragic assassination in 1978 to the riots following Dan White’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  its stores selling over-priced rainbow colored crap using protectionist trade practices under the guise of  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, unconstitutionally vague piece of garbage that hands over any control over, or responsibility for the district he was elected to serve, and gives it to to the Director of the Department of Public Works .

In a rare instance, the controversial rainbow flag in Harvey Mile Plaza is lowered to half mast to remember Mark Bingham on September 11, 2011.

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 months between activists and the politically powerful Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC), 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 powerful Sunshine laws. A meeting between activists and DPW scheduled for October 26, 2011 at City Hall was abruptly 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 to express 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. His interference that resulted in the termination of a meeting between activists and DPW is blatantly personal, and likely in retaliation for a September 11th anniversary event honoring Flight 93 hero Mark Bingham in the very plaza he seeks to regulate into obliteration.

Despite resistance by MUMC to any efforts to lower the flag, and despite Wiener ignoring repeated requests by activists to get involved in brokering the dispute, he had no qualms making political hay once the successfully 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 an excruciating, cringe-inducing 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 Castro’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 a political 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 stunningly ignorant 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.

Disclosure
I am one of the activists who believe 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 the resulting education and action, are more important the consumerist arguments made by MUMC. I support MUMC having some role as well, but not one that lacks consensus, consistent application and transparency. I was also supposed to attend the meeting on October 26, 2011 with Amy L. Brown, Acting City Administrator for the City and County of San Francisco, which was abruptly cancelled by her assistant with no explanation. 

 

Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-​known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoy​.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.” Fein’s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.

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‘Poisonous’: Former Advisor Says Republicans Have ‘Just Switched Trump Off in Their Brain’

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In an interview with The Guardian, one of Donald Trump’s former senior advisers stated that the word he is getting from people he has spoken to is that they want the former president to be put out to pasture after the poor midterm election results for Republicans weeks ago.

According to John Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser, it’s time for the GOP to move on from the former president if the party wants to reclaim the Oval Office in 2024.

Bolton, whose tenure serving under Trump ended acrimoniously, told the Guardian’s David Smith that there are a multitude of reasons to put Trump in the rearview mirror, but the impact that the former president had on GOP fortunes in the midterms seems to be the final straw with many conservatives.

“There are a lot of reasons to be against Trump being the nominee but the one I’m hearing now as I call around the country, talking to my supporters and others about what happened on 8 November, is the number of people who have just switched Trump off in their brain,” Bolton explained.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump’s new Mar-a-Lago scandal proves why aides want him to stick to a teleprompter

Elaborating, he continued, “Even if they loved his style, loved his approach, loved his policies, loved everything about him, they don’t want to lose and the fear is, given the results on 8 November, that if he got the nomination, not only would he lose the general election, but he would take an awful lot of Republican candidates down with him.”

“There’s no doubt Trump’s endorsement in the primary can be very valuable to a candidate in the Republican party. But relying on that endorsement or trumpeting yourself as the Trump-endorsed candidate is poisonous in the general election. So if you actually want to win elections, Trump is not the answer,” Bolton continued. “William F Buckley [the conservative author] once had a rule that in Republican primaries he supported the most conservative candidate capable of winning the general election and, under that theory, Trump loses.”

The Guardian’s Smith notes that Bolton “… joins Trump’s vice-president Mike Pence, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, attorney general William Barr, UN ambassador Nikki Haley, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and onetime ally Chris Christie in a growing rebellion among alumni making the case – overtly or subtly – that Trump has become an electoral liability.”

You can read more here.

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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Trump’s Dinner With Kanye Also Included a Former Aide Accused in Pay-for-Pardon Play, and White Supremacist Fuentes

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Donald Trump‘s dinner earlier this week with antisemite Kanye West and holocaust denier and white supremacist Nick Fuentes may also have included two other right-wingers, hinted at by the former president himself.

After Axios‘ reporting confirmed that Fuentes had in fact had dinner with Trump, Trump issued a statement saying, “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”

But later, on Friday afternoon via his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote a defense of the dinner with an expanded guest list.

READ MORE: Trump Claims He ‘Knew Nothing About’ the White Supremacist Antisemite Who He and Kanye West Dined With at Mar-a-Lago

“This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump wrote. “Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about. We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport.”

As The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman noted, Trump did not denounce his guest’s extremist beliefs.

“Three of his friends,” according to the far-right wing website Breitbart, apparently includes Fuentes, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Trump 2016 aide Karen Giorno.

Breitbart states, “two people who say they were at the dinner on Tuesday evening–Yiannopoulos and onetime Trump aide Karen Giorno–have publicly stated that Fuentes was in fact at the dinner with West and Trump.”

“’Nick attended the dinner and sat across from the president. I sat to the president’s right and Ye to his left,’ Giorno said in a statement to podcaster Tim Poole’s website Timcast,” Breitbart reports. “‘The president was by himself for dinner but invited Ye to meet some people on the patio.'”

Politico reports Giorno “confirmed to Politico that she was also at the dinner with Trump, West and Fuentes,” but does not mention Yiannopoulos as a dinner guest.

READ MORE: Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

Referring to Kanye West by his new name, VICE News adds: “Ye, who has been been on an antisemitic spiral in recent months, announced he is going to be running for president in 2024, and Yiannopoulos is his campaign manager. He claimed that he asked the former president to run with him as his vice-president. According to Ye, the dinner involving the billionaire, the rapper, and the white nationalist devolved into screaming and derogatory epithets.”

Yiannopoulos is the former Breitbart editor who became disgraced after saying, “I think in the gay world some of the most important, enriching and incredibly life-affirming, important shaping relationships very often between younger boys and older men.” Earlier this year U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene came under fire for hiring, as an intern, Yiannopoulos, even after he appeared to support sexual “relationships” between boys as young as 13 and older men.

Karen Giorno, The New York Times reported early last year, “had access to people around the president, having run Mr. Trump’s campaign in Florida during the 2016 primary and remaining on board as a senior political adviser during the general election.”

“In July 2018, Ms. Giorno signed an agreement with Mr. Kiriakou, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, ‘to seek a full pardon from President Donald Trump of his conviction’ for $50,000 and promised another $50,000 as a bonus if she secured a pardon,” The Times reports.

Kiriakou is John Kiriakou, who The Times identifies as “a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information.”

On what appears to be her Instagram page, Giorno has photos of herself with numerous Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mike Flynn, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida attorney general Ashley Moody and several other top Florida elected officials, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and Sarah Palin, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trump Claims He ‘Knew Nothing About’ the White Supremacist Antisemite Who He and Kanye West Dined With at Mar-a-Lago

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Donald Trump and Kanye West had dinner at Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night and the disgraced artist who goes by “Ye” brought a guest, the white supremacist, antisemite and “America First” and “Big Lie” purveyor Nick Fuentes. Now the former president is claiming Fuentes was a guest of West, and he knows “nothing” about him.

“Trump’s direct engagement with a man labeled a ‘white supremacist’ by the Justice Department, one week after declaring his 2024 candidacy, is likely to draw renewed outrage over the former president’s embrace of extremists,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu report.

Axios notes that in a video West posted to his recently restored Twitter account, he says, “Trump was ‘really impressed’ with Fuentes because ‘unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he’s actually a loyalist.'”

“Ye, who has lost major sponsorships over his anti-Semitism and recent far-right associations, has said he wants to run for president in 2024,” Axios adds. “The rapper claims Trump started ‘screaming’ at him at the dinner and told him he would lose — ‘most perturbed’ by Ye asking Trump to be his running mate.”

READ MORE: Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

Swan says Trump issued a statement in response to his reporting, claiming he does not know Fuentes.

“Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-a-Lago,” Trump’s statement says, an apparent attempt to minimize his dining with two racists and antisemites. “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman observes that Trump’s “statement does nothing to denounce that background, including Holocaust denialism, or even acknowledge it.”

Trump first claiming West just wanted to see Mar-a-Lago, but immediately after calling it a “meeting” is notable, given that West has since suggested he is running for president.

Axios importantly adds that “Fuentes first gained notoriety after attending the white supremacist ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in 2017,” and, “Trump was heavily criticized at the time for his response to the racist violence.”

Journalist Jeff Sharlet is the executive producer of Netflix’s “The Family,” based on his books that exposed the secretive Christian right organization of the same name. The Family, also called The Fellowship, hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Its members were involved in Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.

Sharlet warns this is an “inflection point.”

“Trump dinner with Ye, at this point, is a major story,” Sharlet tweeted. “But with Nick Fuentes? That’s an inflection point even for a former president already committed to fascism.”

Journalist and activist Elad Nehorai tweeted: “Never let a single right winger or Republican claim they care about Jews after this. Fuentes openly praises Hitler. He is a Holocaust denier. He is one of the US’s most dangerous white nationalists. Trump hosted him & not one Republican had said a word.”

Attorney and former Republican Ron Filipkowski, who tracks and reports on right wing extremism, says Trump’s statement “reminds me of the time when Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was in the WH in Dec 2020 and said he was just there to check out the Christmas decorations.”

Tarrio told ABC News last year he “got invited to the White House Christmas decorations tour through ‘Latinos For Trump.'”

READ MORE: ‘Standard Bearer of Trumpism’ Marjorie Taylor Greene Bridges White Nationalism and the GOP

Top national security attorney Brad Moss mocked Trump’s claim about the Mar-a-Lago dinner.

“Trump legal team: MAL is a totally secure place where we can be trusted to store classified records,” he tweeted. “Trump PR team: Security at MAL is so lax that a raving white supremacist can just crash Trump’s dinner party with Ye.”

Indeed, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman commented, “It’s not the central issue with meeting with Fuentes, but the fact that people can show up unvetted and meet with Trump at his club is part of what alarmed the DOJ about his retention of government records, including classified material, when he left office.”

She also posted a screenshot from her book, relevant to Trump’s embrace of the two racists and antisemites. She quotes him saying, “A lot of these people vote,” in relation to “Trump’s refusal to condemn David Duke’s support forcefully in early 2016.”

The AntiDefamation League (ADL) in a 2021 report wrote, “Nicholas Fuentes is a white supremacist leader and organizer and podcaster who seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP.”

Some of Fuentes’ antisemitism has been documented by ADL.

READ MORE: House GOP Whip Denies ‘Knowing Anything About’ Republican Congressman Fundraising With Antisemitic White Nationalist

“Fuentes has made a number of racist and antisemitic comments under the guise of being provocative and ironic,” ADLs report states. “For example, he has referred to Daily Wire columnist Matt Walsh as ‘shabbos goy race traitor’ because he works for Jews (Ben Shapiro, a Jewish conservative, runs the Daily Wire). On a livestream episode, Fuentes ‘jokingly’ denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven. On May 24, 2021, Fuentes participated in a debate on right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones’ InfoWars with Robert Barnes, a man described as a ‘constitutional lawyer’ who has legally defended both Jones and Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse. During the debate, Fuentes made numerous antisemitic remarks, including, ‘I don’t see Jews as Europeans and I don’t see them as part of Western civilization, particularly because they are not Christians.'”

Fuentes is strongly pro-Trump, as West alluded to.

“Fuentes promoted election fraud narratives and encouraged his adherents to participate in nationwide ‘Stop the Steal’ protests,” according to ADL.

 

This article has been updated to include Jeff Sharlet’s remarks.

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