Saturday, July 23, 2016

Togetherness Trumps Selfishness, Love Trumps Hatred


No, Bernie fans are not going to be voting for Donald Trump in any appreciable numbers-- and certainly not in numbers Trump would need to make up for the Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush fans he will be losing, making Florida even more of a stretch for him in November than it should be. Hillary outpolled him in the primary 1,097,400 to 1,077,221. She'll probably pick up Almost all of the 566,603 Bernie and 38,875 O'Malley voters. Will Trump get the 636,653 Rubio voters? The 43,452 Jeb voters? How many of the 403,640 Cruz voters or the 159,412 Kasich voters? The biggest county in the state is Miami-Dade. During the primary, Hillary took 129,467 votes and Bernie took another 42,009. Bernie won more votes than Trump in Miami-Dade. For Trump to win Florida's crucial 29 electoral votes, he needs most of those 111,898 Republican votes that Rubio won in Miami Dade. Rubio drew another 100,000-plus voters in the Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville metros, all areas where Hillary outdrew Trump even without Bernie. And Bernie has been clear he plans to work for Hillary's election in September and October. How hard? I suspect he wants to work very hard for her and for Democratic Senate candidates and for the progressives running for House seats, especially ones who endorsed him and can make a difference in Congress, like Zephyr Teachout (NY), Tim Canova (FL) and Pramila Jayapal (WA).

For those interested, an Economist/YouGov poll the other day asked Bernie primary voters who they intend to back in November. So, even before Bernie has started to work towards electing Hillary this was the breakdown:
Hillary- 44%
Jill Stein- 23%
Herr Trumpf- 11%
Gary Johnson- 4%
The best Trump can hope for is to drive Bernie supporters to stay home or to vote against her by backing the Green Party's Stein, but working towards getting any significant number of Bernie supporters to vote for him is patently absurd. As David Cay Johnston explained on Democracy Now yesterday, "The people who are supporting Bernie Sanders share the same economic concerns, and legitimately share them, because our policies have really hurt the bottom 90 percent of Americans in the last 36 years. But those are not people who are going to be drawn in by Donald’s fearmongering, Donald’s blatant appeals to racism, his his bigotry against Muslims and others. That’s not the Bernie Sanders crowd. Those people may stay home, but I can’t see very many of them joining Donald."

I have no inside info on this but my guess is that the amount of energy he puts into Hillary's campaign will be related to how progressive a campaign she runs. Naming someone like Tim Kaine-- who is anti-Choice, pro-bankster, a TPP cheerleader and LGBT-unfriendly is not going to help. Her acceptance speech in Philly next week is going to send a signal to voters how far right she's going to pivot for the general election. If it's too far right, I bet Bernie will spend more energy on candidates like Zephyr Teachout and less on the presidential campaign. If she responds to Trump's right wing populism by making a strong case against the TPP and against corporatism, it could go a long way into healing Democratic Party divides and give Bernie supporters more evidence that she really is the far lesser of the two evils being offered up.

First Lady?
Want to know how Trump's sick, diseased brain works? Watch Trump reviewing his own convention and his own speech below. It's pretty revelatory not just about him but about advance narcissistic personality disorder in general. One topic of the press gathering was his decision to persecute his war against Ted Cruz some more. (Sarah Palin already announced the Trumpists would consider paying someone to run against him in the 2018 Texas primary.) Trump insisted Cruz would eventually endorse him but that he wouldn't accept his endorsement. Trump, realizing he's not going to ever be president, explicitly, threatened to "set up a SuperPAC if he decides to run... in 4 years." Meanwhile, Pence laughed and applauded like a trained seal while Trump savaged his former ideological comrade-in-arms and raised the question, once again, of Cruz's father's role in assassinating JFK in Dallas based on what he insists is the highly credible National Enquirer. Trump referred to his well-dressed, plagiarizing wife, a former high-priced call girl, as a "tremendously successful and elegant model." Pence may be able to write a book some day, but I have a feeling his career in politics is pretty much as dead as the fish Trump tosses him when he balances a ball on his nose.

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The Republican Deep Bench... Led To Trumpy The Clown


Europeans are rightly freaked out by Trump's decision-- the day after he was officially named his party's nominee-- to publicly make statements to directly undermine NATO solidarity. Richard Sisk, writing for, pointed out that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia "could be left to the mercies of Russia during a Donald Trump presidency [and] reacted with alarm and disbelief... 'This won't be good for NATO unity or the security situation,' said Ojars Kalnins, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Latvia's parliament. 'In principle, he is saying the U.S. will not fulfill its promises or obligations,' he said of Trump's plan to base U.S. support on how much alliance members spend on defense... The Baltic states and Poland have particular concerns on Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions following his annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in Ukraine. Putin angrily opposed NATO's expansion to include Poland and the Baltic states, and he has stepped up military exercises on their borders while stressing that he has an obligation to protect the large Russian ethnic minority in Latvia... At alliance headquarters in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg quickly rebutted Trump's remarks. Stoltenberg said he wanted to avoid commenting on a U.S. election but added, 'solidarity among allies is a key value for NATO. This is good for European security and good for U.S. security. We defend one another.'"

Republican politicians like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have tried to reassure the world that there's no need to worry and that wiser heads will prevail on Trump to forget all his dangerous, crackpot ideas. Feel reassured?

Eliot Weinberg, writing in this week's London Review of Books gave U.K. readers an exhaustive look at how it's come to this-- how such a patently unqualified and even deranged candidate could have won the Republican Party's nomination. He reminded his readers of Reince Priebus' tweet from last January, "It’s clear we’ve got the most well-qualified and diverse field of candidates from any party in history." Oops. Then he went through the whole horrid "deep bench"-- one mediocrity after another: Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum, Rick "niggerhead" Perry, Bobby Jindal (who bankrupted Louisiana by cutting wealthy people's taxes), Carly "30,000 job losses" Fiorina, Rand "Domino's Pizza had a bad crust" Paul, long-forgotten former governor of NY George Pataki, "someone named Jim Gilmore," Scott "son of a preacher man" Walker, Chris "the Tony Soprano of American politics" Christie, poor Jeb "Low Energy" Bush, Mike "I didn’t major in math" Huckabee, John "widely disliked phlegmatic and abusive" Kasich, Ben "fruit salad of life" Carson, Marco "penis size" Rubio, and Ted "Lucifer in the flesh" Cruz. How could even Trump not have beat them all?
[M]any Republicans, worried about their own re-election, have decided to stay away. Even Ohio governor John Kasich is avoiding the most important Republican event in his state since 1936. They are appalled that, given the ‘well-qualified and diverse field of candidates’, the voters have chosen a man of so little knowledge and such extremist views. Speakers, outside of Trump’s family, Dr Ben Carson and-- perhaps hoping for a miracle from his Lord-- Ted Cruz have been hard to find.
And he leaves his readers to ponder the idea of a Cleveland, thanks to Kasich and the GOP, "jumpy policemen awaiting streets full of demonstrators packing AR-15s."

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Is The Goal To Fight Trump Or Is It To Fight Evil?


There were always people who made the argument that the Hillary wing wasn't stealing every single primary battle, that there were some decisions that were legitimate. I didn't discount that and there may well have been a few primaries she actually won fair and square-- like in the South. But it was the whole process that was corrupted from start to finish and that makes her-- in my mind at least-- and illegitimate nominee. The latest manifestation, of course, was her crony at the head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, rigging the primary elections from the top even before they got going. The existence of Wasserman Schultz alone, still at the head of the DNC, is enough to guarantee that no one connected with her even tangentially well ever get a benefit of the doubt from me. Tainted by the rancid stench of Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Prove you're not as vile and corrupt and unworthy of public office.

I guess now we all know why even a politically right-of-center Democrat like Tulsi Gabbard had no choice but the quit the nest of vipers the DNC had become under Wasserman Schultz. Now it's clear that everyone on the DNC e-mail chain where they discuss weaponizing religion to take down a Democratic primary candidate needs to be fired and banished from Democratic politics.

In the YouGov poll of Bernie voters I referred to earlier, you saw that as of now, 23% of the people who voted for Bernie in the primaries say they will vote for Jill Stein. It's likely that Hillary's announcement last night that TPP- backing, Wall Street shill Tim Kaine will be her running mate, coupled with the latest scandal involving Wasserman Schultz's rigging of the primaries, will increase that percentage. Stein certainly thinks so. A Green Party press release emphasized that "Democratic Party elites have been caught red-handed sabotaging a grassroots campaign that tried to bring huge numbers of young people, independents, and non-voters into their party. Instead, they have shown exactly why America needs a new major party, a truly democratic party for the people... After such betrayal, if Senator Sanders repudiates the Democratic Party, I would welcome him into the Green Party to continue this political revolution. We now see that this movement is more urgently needed than ever. The leaked emails underscore why a revolutionary campaign can not survive within a counter-revolutionary party, and the urgent need to build the Green Party as a political vehicle to build the revolution."

Even Trump realized the Wasserman Schultz scandal is a good wedge for his points about endemic Democratic Party establishment corruption. It may not win him any votes but he wins by driving Bernie voters to Stein or to sit out the election. Is it still tenable for Hillary and those around her to keep Wasserman Schultz on as DNC chair? Again, from the Green Party press release:
The damning DNC emails released by Wikileaks include one from DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach to communications director Luis Miranda discussing how to create a narrative in the media that Sanders’ campaign was “a mess”; an email from DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall to CEO Amy Dacey proposing having someone ask Sanders about his religious beliefs in Kentucky and West Virginia, saying that Southern Baptists “would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist”; and an email in which DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz discusses how Hillary For America proposed using Israel as “an ideal issue to marginalize Sanders on,” exposing that the DNC was collaborating with the Clinton campaign on anti-Sanders strategy.

We can't count on the establishment-- Obama, Biden, the Clinton Machine-- to remedy the Wasserman Schultz contagion. Silly petitions won't do it either. Only one thing will: electing Tim Canova to replace her in the Broward/Miami-Dade 23rd congressional district in Florida. Please consider contributing to his grassroots, anti-corruption campaign here.

This morning, in his essay, Explaining the Problem with Lesser Evilism, David Swanson took on one of the two reasons-- the other being gender identity-- for progressive to consider voting for Clinton:
According to supporters of Hillary Clinton, anything other than a vote for her is "a vote for Trump," and according to supporters of Donald Trump, anything other than a vote for Trump is "a vote for Hillary." Whether you declare that you will vote for Jill Stein, vote for Gary Johnson, write in LeBron James, swear off elections, move to Canada, commit suicide, or take a job for a corporate media outlet that frowns on participation in democracy, no matter what it is you do, it's "a vote" for the undesired candidate. (Sorry to go morbid with that corporate media option!)

What is the appropriate reply to this?

First, I think it is usually going to be critical to get your lesser evilist friend to believe you understand what they are saying. Of course what they are saying is quintessential common wisdom pounded into everybody's head year after year. There's no way you could possibly not understand what they are saying. Nonetheless, it's important that you let them tell it to you in painful detail, and that you then repeat it to them with some variations. Go over the "reality" of the two-party system. Rehearse the existence of discernable differences between the two candidates. Take deep breaths during the demonization of Ralph Nader. Just listen and agree.

It's not as if their logic is wrong. Try very hard to get them to understand that you understand that, that you see their points, that you acknowledge that they make perfect sense, that you grasp their way of thinking. And, perhaps more importantly, thank them for giving a damn. Explain to them that you would much rather have a world of lesser evilists who care passionately about making the world evil at as slow a pace as possible, than a world of people who just don't care at what speed the world becomes more evil.

At this point, in about 50% of cases, you may be able to tease out, before having made any argument at all, that your lesser evilist does not actually believe in lesser evilism, that in fact he or she has more or less convinced himself or herself that either Clinton or Trump is actually good. If that happens, you'll have to turn to page 163 in this choose-your-own-adventure story. You're not on this page anymore. What someone who believes in the goodness of Clinton or Trump needs is a supply of critical information selected to fit their needs. Do they believe war is good or that one of these candidates opposes war? Do they support corruption or racism or corporatism or authoritarianism or plutocracy or environmental destruction or do they imagine that one of these candidates opposes some of those things? Or do they believe that their candidate is pretending to hold awful positions while secretly harboring good intentions? Depending on the particular case, each such person can be provided facts and historical background to bring them into touch with reality.

In the other 50% of cases your lesser evilist really does think of their candidate, at least when pressed, as evil. Even if they believe that a candidate who was any less evil could not compete in the U.S. election system, they are still a lesser evilist choosing one evil over another one. Now, your lesser evilist may not see their preferred candidate as being quite as evil as you see them, and may see the other candidate as being even more evil than you believe. There is a time and place for debating these details. It will be important for you to bring your friend to see the full measure of their candidate's evil. But it is important that first you get them to understand that you are able to see differences, that you don't believe their candidate is identical to the other one-- which would be ridiculous but is nonetheless what your friend will tend to think you think.

Only after you've convinced your lesser evilist friend that you are aware of differences between the two candidates, then you should begin to suggest the possibility that a less evil candidate might still be too evil. Ask your friend to try a few thought experiments. Let's say they are a Hillary Clinton supporter. Ask them if they can imagine a candidate worse than Donald Trump. If they claim to be unable to do it, ask them to consider whether they are really being rational about this. Suppose you had a candidate identical to Trump except that he insisted on the need to sacrifice infants on the steps of libraries to appease the god of children's books. Which of the two would be the more evil and which the less evil candidate? Now ask your friend, in a situation in which Trump was the less evil candidate, would your friend campaign for and vote for Trump? If not, why not? Isn't the logic of lesser evilism as solid no matter the details and no matter how evil the less evil candidate may be?

If your friend sticks to his or her lesser evilism, try this. Consider an election between a candidate who proposes immediate nuclear war and a candidate who proposes immediate nuclear war and encourages everyone to commit vicious crimes before the world ends. One is more evil and the other less evil. But both will quickly destroy all human life. Would you campaign and vote for the less evil one?

How about an election between a candidate who promises to make herself empress for life and a candidate who promises to make herself empress for life and to eat live mice. One is more evil and the other less evil, but both quickly create a situation in which, if your friend wants to continue to be civically engaged, he or she will have to try something other than voting.

Through these types of arguments it ought to become possible to bring your friend to see that there might be such a thing as too evil even while being less evil, and that there might be a situation in which something other than voting was required. From there it's not such a huge leap to the possibility that even in a situation in which voting is possible, something else might be needed in addition to or instead of voting. Now it still might not be time yet to argue the details of exactly how evil your friend's candidate is. Just getting them to accept that some candidate might be too evil is the critical first step. And you still may not have succeeded in that. Or you may have succeeded only in the case of a candidate that your friend thinks of as millions of times more evil than theirs.

We've arrived at the heart of the matter. You must now try to explain to your friend the real damage that lesser evilism does. This may be very difficult, because the main damage it does happens outside of voting, distant in time and space from the voting booth. There is a reason that many lesser evilists turn out to actually think their candidate is good, and that many others resist acknowledging the full extent of their candidate's evil. When you become a supporter of a candidate, even for lesser evil reasons, you enter into a particular universe. If you volunteer for that candidate, you encounter nothing but praise for them and denunciations of their opponent. Even if you never leave your house, your web searches gradually begin finding only news sources that slant everything in favor of your candidate. Millions of people put up yard signs and bumper stickers promoting their candidate, and virtually nobody puts a second sign beside the first one protesting some of that candidate's evil agenda. You can claim that lesser evilism leaves you independent and uncompromised, but you can't actually protest your evil candidate's evil in their local office-- you'll be off the team instantly.

Many lesser evilists claim to flip a switch within themselves after a particular period of time. For two weeks or six months or two years they choose to utter not one word against their evil candidate, while swearing that the rest of the time they will bring outside independent pressure to bear on the government without distorting anything in favor of one office holder or party over another. This is at best self-delusional in most if not every case. Right now we have the two parties in Washington, D.C., directing their "grass roots" groups in what to ask for and what to say about it-- the complete inversion of representative government. And this is because election season never ends and lesser evilism never ends right along with it. In January of 2007, the Democrats had just taken over Congress with a clear mandate to end the war on Iraq, and Rahm Emanuel told the Washington Post that the Democrats would keep the war going for two more years in order to run "against" it again in 2008. And so they did. And people who preferred having Democrats keep the war going to having Republicans keep the war going stuck tape over their own mouths and lay back and took it.

This is the problem. It's not that lesser evilism isn't logical in a voting booth. It's that it never ever stays within a voting booth. It poisons political activity every day of every year.

To grasp that point, one has to be brought to share the perspective in which voting is not the only important political activity. Now, I'm not against elections. I think we should have one some day! That would require some of these changes that cannot be voted in under the broken system that lacks them: public funding of elections, no bribery, free air time for candidates, automatic voter registration, open debates and ballots, no gerrymandering, hand-counted paper ballots, international monitors, no electoral college, no delegates, no superdelegates, and a three-month election season with a bit of actual governing before the next one.

You cannot vote those things in any more than women voted themselves the right to vote or children voted an end to child labor or any major change has come about through voting. Voting is a critical component in applying public pressure in a system lacking direct democracy, but it is only one small piece-- and it's even smaller when it's as broken as the current U.S. presidential election system. Why does someone like Hillary Clinton switch from opposing LGBT rights to supporting them? Not because she or someone else was elected to anything, but because a movement that has used dozens of different nonviolent tools has changed society.

Look for a minute at the Democratic Party primary system. On Friday WikiLeaks released emails from the DNC that made clear, as we all knew, that the DNC slanted the playing field for Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Not only might Sanders very well have won without that cheating, but polls for many months have shown him to be the stronger candidate against Trump. When Democratic Super Delegates throw their votes to Clinton they are, by lesser evilist logic, casting votes for Trump. Of course that doesn't change your options, doesn't give you the choice of Sanders on your ballot (unless you write him in). But if Clinton really wanted to defeat Trump she would drop out, and if you really want to defeat Trump you're expected to vote for her.

Maybe that's just the way it is. But try now to get your friend on the same page with you in terms of the extent of Hillary Clinton's evil. Provide some missing material in whatever area it's lacking. Seriously discuss some points like these:
She says President Obama was wrong not to launch missile strikes on Syria in 2013.
She pushed hard for the overthrow of Qadaffi in 2011.
She supported the coup government in Honduras in 2009.
She has backed escalation and prolongation of war in Afghanistan.
She voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
She skillfully promoted the White House justification for the war on Iraq.
She does not hesitate to back the use of drones for targeted killing.
She has consistently backed the military initiatives of Israel.
She was not ashamed to laugh at the killing of Qadaffi.
She has not hesitated to warn that she could obliterate Iran.
She is not afraid to antagonize Russia.
She helped facilitate a military coup in Ukraine.
She has the financial support of the arms makers and many of their foreign customers.
She waived restrictions at the State Department on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all states wise enough to donate to the Clinton Foundation.
She supported President Bill Clinton's wars and the power of the president to make war without Congress.
She has advocated for arming fighters in Syria.
She supported a surge in Iraq even before President Bush did.
Go into similar points on trade or environment or healthcare or wherever it's needed. Then trace back through a bit of U.S. history. Compare the positions and actions-- not the public images-- of past presidents. I'd take Bush Sr., Reagan, Carter, Ford, or Nixon over Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton any day. I'd take the presidents who came before them over them too. And it's not as though people haven't been doing lesser evil voting and lesser evil living all these years. But when you elect a less evil candidate and do little else to improve your politics, the result is another election with a worse pair of candidates, both of them more evil than was the less evil candidate before. This course is unsustainable and leads inevitably to candidates that more and more of us will recognize as just too evil.

Too evil because we need independent uncompromised activism and can expect it to have an impact on whoever is in office. And too evil because we actually can swing this or some future election to an actually good candidate if we put our minds to it. We don't have a lot of time to play around with. While neither Clinton nor Trump has promised immediate nuclear war, both are eager to risk it and to exacerbate the crisis in the earth's climate. If we elect one of them, followed by someone else worse, we're pretty well doomed. If we elect someone actually good either now or next time, who knows?

The chance of electing a good candidate within the Democratic Party is very low. This election saw a perfect storm: a hugely unpopular candidate standing unopposed, and a single exceptional candidate jumping into the election with a stellar record and an independent streak. And it wasn't enough. For it to be enough would require the same perfect storm plus major systemic reforms within the party.

But 60% of the public cannot stand either Clinton or Trump. If a significant portion of those people back Jill Stein, she could mount a serious challenge and even win. Just saying you support her now while planning to turn against her in November would put her into televised debates with Clinton and Trump, thereby requiring both of them to speak to all kinds of critical issues they'd rather avoid.

So we arrive at two basic questions for your friend the former lesser evilist. First, do you see that non-electoral activism can be more important than elections? If so, are you willing to put your energies there? Second, if you stay focused on this election, would you support Jill Stein if you cast the only vote and effectively selected the winner by yourself? What about if she only needed a few more votes to win? What about if she had a slim chance? What about if a decent showing might help elect a good candidate next time around?

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Can Trump Lose The GOP A Senate Seat... In Louisiana?


You may not have felt inspired by Trump's screaming hate speech Thursday night... but others were. Neo-Nazi/KKK leader David Duke, who was planning to primary House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was so aroused by Trump's signal to white nationalists that he's decided to run for the open Louisiana U.S. Senate seat instead. That seat is being abandoned by sex predator David Vitter, who was rejected by Louisiana voters in the gubernatorial race last November. It's now becoming clear that normalizing antisemitic white nationalists is not a bug but a feature for hardcore Trumpists. "I’m overjoyed," he said in his announcement yesterday, "to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years. My slogan remains America first."

There are something like 20 candidates for the November 8 general election but it is likely that no one will reach 50% which will trigger a December runoff. The top Republican contenders-- and this seat should be an easy hold for the GOP (Romney having beaten Obama there 58-41%)-- are 2 crackpot Republican congressmen, John Fleming and Charles "Lord Charles" Boustany, the latter best known for getting caught trying to buy an English patent of nobility for himself and his wife on the internet. Sir Charles and Fleming, though, will also have to contend with far right sociopath Rob Maness, a former Navy SEAL who can go toe-to-toe with Duke on every issue near and dear to the hearts of the Ku Klux Klan. Then there's state Treasurer John Kennedy and moderate former one-term Congressman Joseph Cao-- plus 4 other random Republicans. Mitch McConnell had the NRSC already announce that they will not support Duke even if he wins the nomination and gets the backing of Trump.

There are also a slew of Democrats, Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard being the two most plausible, especially if the Democrats can consolidate around one candidate. If that happens and Duke comes in first among the Republicans, David "Diapers" Vitter's seat will fall, unexpectedly, into Democratic hands, giving the Senate Dems an outside shot at retaining the Senate in 2018 which will be a massively bad year for Senate Democrats.

Financial reporting for the race isn't perfect but the top fundraisers so far are:
Lord Boustany (R)- $4,338,914
John Fleming (R)- $3,224,059
John Kennedy (R)- $1,765,923
Caroline Fayard (D)- $1,117,415
Foster Campbell (D)- $999,217
Rob Maness (R)- $484,332
Duke is just getting started but the kind of racist hate speech he and Trump use, attracts dedicated followers willing to skip going to the laundromat on weekends to send in their quarters and crumpled up dollar bills. "With the country coming apart t at the seams and no one willing to really speak the truth about what is happening," the tax cheat and convicted felon began his campaign, "the majority population in this country needs someone who will actually give voice to their interests in the face of an increasingly violent hatefest launched by the media and political establishment against them... We must stop the massive immigration and ethnic cleansing of people whose forefathers created America." Keep in mind, Duke was elected and reelected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in the New Orleans suburbs (Metarie).

He's tied himself to the Trump campaign right from the start and told a popular Louisiana Hate Talk Radio host what he likes about Herr Trumpf:
“I [thought] I would never see a candidate stand up and possibly just maybe put America first, and Donald Trump may do that.”

“There is no candidate-- other than if I were running-- that is more hated by the Jewish media establishment, the Jewish money establishment, the Jewish political establishment than Donald Trump.”

“If he's controlled by the Jews, there’s no way he’d be saying what he's saying.”

“He actually went to these Jewish moneybags and he says to their face, he says, ‘You’re not going to support me, because I’m not going to take your money and you don’t want anybody you can’t control.’ ”

“I’m not saying the guy’s one of us. But he has made the immigration issue the critical issue it should be. If immigration continues in this country we have no future, we have no chance of winning, our people are being destroyed.”

“His whole life he’s been having to deal with these Jews and my daughter said it pretty well the other day to me, she said… 'Dad, you know this guy is a gentile for sure, he’s been working his whole life with these Jews. Do you think he really likes these people?' ”
Trump won 41.4% of Louisiana's primary vote (when there were still 4 active candidates) and pretty much won almost everywhere except in parishes that get their news from Texas media markets. A little warning though: the total number of voters who participated in the Republican primary was 301,169. The total participating in the Democratic primary-- which Hillary won with a 71.1% landslide-- was 311,613. If the Republicans remain divided and Duke winds up in one of the top two slots in November and then faces a Democrat in December...

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The Opposite Of FDR's 1933 Inaugural Address About Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself


After Trump's acceptance speech Thursday night, Meghan McCain tweeted that the GOP is dead. A few minutes later, Elizabeth Warren was Stephen Colbert's guest on The Late Show (video above) acknowledging that “People are angry, and they have good reasons to be angry. Incomes are flat, expenses are up, young people can’t make it through college without getting crushed by debt, seniors can’t stretch a Social Security check to cover food and rent. Let’s be really, really clear. Donald Trump does not have the answers." She told the CBS audience that she thought the Trump show "was the nastiest, most divisive convention that we've seen in half a century. That speech tonight, he sounded like some two-bit dictator of some country you couldn’t find on a map. He sounded like a dictator of a small country rather than a man who is running for the highest office of the strongest democracy on the face of the earth... What Donald Trump says is, ‘there’s a problem out there and what you have to understand is, it’s all about each other. What you need to be afraid of is every other American.'"

And it wasn't just cutting edge progressive Democrats, like Warren who noticed this. When Eric Cantor was the House Majority Leader, Rory Cooper was his communications director. Judging by his tweet Thursday evening while Trump was screaming, Cooper doesn't seem inspired, uplifted or impressed with the dark, angry speech either.

Unless you spend your days listening to Hate Talk Radio and Fox News, you probably didn't recognize the ugly, dystopian picture of America Trump created in his speech, hailing "himself as an American Caesar, sacrificing a life of private ease to enter the public arena and save a republic sunk in decadence, and betrayed by its corrupt and mendacious elites."
Trump, as a strongman populist, does not traffic in complexity. He described simple reasons for the country’s woes, based on the wickedness or stupidity of officials and liberal politicians, amounting to a government-wide “rollback of criminal enforcement.” As for illegal immigrants, he growled, they are being “released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.” He named an “innocent young girl” killed by an illegal immigrant who had been released from custody, calling her “one more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”

Repeating a signature policy that opponents call a fantastical lie, and adding new quasi-magical benefits that it would bring, Mr Trump proudly vowed to build: “a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”

His Caesarism is not modest. He presents himself as a strongman saviour, with the unique combination of wealth, insider knowledge, adamantine toughness and compassion for the common man to sweep aside the rotten status quo, and stop the mighty from oppressing those who cannot defend themselves. “Nobody knows the system better than me,” he said, smirking and mugging at the thought of his corruption he has seen, before delivering the punchline: “Which is why I alone can fix it.”

In unscripted speeches at the rallies that carried him to the presidential nomination, Mr Trump became notorious for playing fast and loose with facts and for offering policies, such as an entry ban on Muslims, that threatened to shred the constitution. This speech in Cleveland was carefully, even at times brilliantly constructed, bearing the hallmark of skilled writers and well-honed legal minds who captured the essence of Trumpism, then buttressed it with cherry-picked statistics, polished anedotes and deft nods to the constraints of law.

...Once the red, white and blue balloons have dropped, and memories of an often chaotic and fractious convention fade, opponents starting with Mrs Clinton will pick over this policy and all the others in Mr Trump’s imperious, sweeping address. They will correctly note that his talk of restoring hope was mere gilding. Underneath this was a speech, and is a presidential campaign, built around thick beams and struts of fear, distrust and grievance. But it was skillful. Mrs Clinton should fear a Donald Trump whose demagoguery is so well-crafted.

This was a speech that contained its own pre-emptive strikes against critics, sceptics and fact-checkers. Mr Trump warned his supporters that-- though he and they saw chaos, despair and stupidity in high places with clear eyes-- vested interests in big business, big government and the establishment media would rush to tell them that they were wrong and foolish. Put another way, Mr Trump told his supporters that doubting him makes them dupes of the elites, while believing him uncritically is a mark of sophistication.

The Cleveland speech ended with a nifty, if not wholly truthful flourish. Mr Trump claimed that Mrs Clinton asks her supporters to recite a three-word loyalty pledge: “I’m With Her”. That is nonsense: the phrase is a Clinton campaign slogan found on bumper stickers, not in a blood oath. But Mr Trump offered a clever alternative. His pledge, he told the crowd and millions watching at home, is “I’m with you.” Still more simply, he went on: “I am your voice.”

Republican primary voters have already spoken by choosing Mr Trump as their presidential nominee. If in November a majority of general election voters hear their voice in Mr Trump’s words, it is not just the American republic will be changed forever. The world should fear this man who sells himself as a new Caesar.
Jon Schwarz, writing for The Intercept always pointed out how Trump and his speechwriters used fear to weaponize his dystopian message... and went back even earlier in history than Caesar: "Trump had just one message for Americans: Be afraid. You are under terrible threats from forces inside and outside your country, and he’s the only person who can save us. The scariest part is how Trump subtly but clearly has begun melding together violence against U.S. police and terrorism: 'The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities,' he said, 'threaten our very way of life.' This is the favorite and most dangerous message of demagogues across all space and time. After all, if we know our external enemies are deeply evil, and our internal enemies are somehow their allies, we can feel justified in doing anything at all to our internal enemies. That’s just logic...This use of fear to destroy democracy is so old that it’s described exactly in Plato’s Republic, written in Ancient Greece around 380 B.C. Tyranny, says Socrates in The Republic, is actually 'an outgrowth of democracy.' And would-be tyrants always in every instance claim to be shielding regular people from terrible danger: 'This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.' ... As The Republic explains, leaders like this inevitably end up 'standing up in the chariot of State with the reins in his hand, no longer protector, but tyrant absolute.' This is how liberty 'passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.'"

Americans would do well to watch closely what the populist democratically elected in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is doing to his country just as Trump is building his own case. Trump has been constantly compared to Mussolini, Hitler and Putin for the last year. Not many Americans know who Erdogan is, but if they did, they would recognize Trump and Trumpism in full flower.

Yesterday David Brooks was again warning NY Times readers about a Trumpian dystopia, a world without rules-- "a world in which families are mowed down by illegal immigrants, in which cops die in the streets, in which Muslims rampage the innocents and threaten our very way of life, in which the fear of violent death lurks in every human heart. Sometimes in that blood-drenched world a dark knight arises. You don’t have to admire or like this knight. But you need this knight. He is your muscle and your voice in a dark, corrupt and malevolent world. Such has been the argument of nearly every demagogue since the dawn of time. Aaron Burr claimed Spain threatened the U.S in 1806. A. Mitchell Palmer exaggerated the Red Scare in 1919 and Joe McCarthy did it in 1950. And such was Donald Trump’s law-and-order argument in Cleveland on Thursday night. This was a compelling text that turned into more than an hour of humorless shouting. It was a dystopian message that found an audience and then pummeled them to exhaustion."

Brooks concluded with more warning: "This is less a party than a personality cult. Law and order is a strange theme for a candidate who radiates conflict and disorder. Some rich children are careless that way; they break things and other people have to clean up the mess."

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Is A Republican Congress Or A Democratic Congress More Likely To Keep Trump In Check?


Indiana's somewhat senile retiring lobbyist-turned-senator, Dan Coates, called Ted Cruz "a wrecking ball" yesterday and added gratuitously that "he's the most self-centered, narcissistic, pathological liar I’ve ever seen." He went on to accuse Cruz of trying to hurt the Republican Party. Trump's convention looks like a train wreck to me but tentative polling shows there were morons watching all over the country who were impressed and that he may be making headway against the Democrats' own horribly flawed, weak candidate.

The video up top was released yesterday by the cash-strapped Tom Wakely congressional campaign. Tom, a solid a Berniecrat, who won his Texas primary against a conservative Democrat, Tejas Vakil, 29,592 (59%) to 20,566 (41%), is now taking on an entrenched Republican incumbent, Lamar Smith, in a red district, TX-21. But it's a red-leaning district with significant and growing blue pockets, like downtown Austin. The Travis County part of the district is all in for Wakely and eager to get rid of Smith. Bexar County has been trending bluer as well, as has Hays County. Wakely has a narrow path to victory... but instead of helping him, the DCCC is ignoring his race and telling donors not to "waste" their money but to donate to the pitiful batch of the DCCC's own reactionary, Republican-lite candidates instead. If the Democrats are ever going to actually start taking back Texas-- instead of just talking about taking back Texas-- TX-21 is ground zero. Tom hasn't raised a lot of money but he's running a good, solid grassroots campaign.

He's far from alone in this predicament. We've talked a lot about similar situations Alina Valdes and Mary Ellen Baclchunis face, respectively, the official Democratic Party candidates for FL-25 and PA-07 and, like Tom Wakely, being ignored by an utterly incompetent DCCC, which has grown accustomed to one thing: losing.

Goal Thermometer When Trump makes a statement, like the one yesterday undermining NATO solidarity against aggression, GOP leaders McConnell and Ryan rush to the microphone giggling-- put on a serious face and say, don't mind him; wiser heads will prevail on him to abandon his crazy notions. But do you want to count on two weak, ethics-free political hacks like McConnell and Ryan, neither of whom could must the courage to oppose Trump? They will rein in Trump's dangerous excesses? I don't think so. But clear-minded progressives like Tom Wakely, Alina Valdes and Mary Ellen Balchunis will. Their opponents in fact, respectively Lamar Smith, Mario Diaz-Balart and Pat Meehan, all support Trump and are likely to give him the benefit of the doubt and back his initiatives if he winds up in the White House. Please consider making a contribution to their campaigns by tapping the thermometer on the right. And let me introduce you to another progressive Democratic candidate, like Alina from southern Florida, in a similar though not identical situation: Adam Sackrin.

Adam is a dedicated Berniecrat and took on the thankless task of opposing Debbie Wasserman Schultz's closest Republican ally, Ileana Ros-Letinen, who Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel have worked tirelessly to protect for well over a decade as the district turned bluer and bluer. In 2012, Obama beat Romney there 130,020 (53%) to 114,096 (47%), although Wasserman Schultz and Israel still insist that Ros-Lehtinen in invulnerable and persuade their colleagues it's a waste of time to try to win back this increasingly blue seat. In the past Wasserman Schultz has even helped recruit weak non-candidates to occupy the Democratic ballot slot so that there is no candidate running against Ros-Lehtinen. It looks like they may have done the same thing this year once they realized Adam is serious about winning back the seat for the Democrats. Adam has had a tough time with the Florida establishment Democratic Party. We reached him for his perspective earlier today:
Though I jumped in the race first and reached out to "my party," they chose to back someone who also has zero political experience, but who has a lot of family money and a long history of max contributions to establishment candidates… And being an eager young self-funder was enough for the party to overlook a history of evading responsibility and immaturity (his embarrassing criminal record). He is friends with Patrick Murphy and Andrew Korge, who have both made news for bad reasons lately. This cannot be the future of the Democratic Party, these are the spawn of the establishment trying to hoodwink everybody into voting for them and voting to keep the status quo. Vote to keep their parents and grandparents in power with their generous contributions. Vote to keep suppressing progressives who summon the courage to step up and run for what is right, only to meet resistance from the Party they grew up in.

The worst part is that my opponent has absolutely no chance to beat Ileana. She will clobber him and it won’t be close. His character will be so eviscerated by GOP SuperPAC money when they make FOIA requests for his Mugshots, he’ll never run again. It’s a suicide mission for him; his mother is likely the only person in the world who thinks he can beat Ileana. He is literally being propped up to take the nomination and take a dive for the incumbent.
Andrew is a firm believe in fighting hard now to lay the groundwork for future wins, investing in the future, a perspective that has been anathema to the DCCC from the time Pelosi handed it over to Rahm Emanuel. "If you want to lay the ground work for future wins," Andrew told us, "how about you identify the future voters in those elections, and make sure you’re not turning them off to politics completely. That’s a first. Young Americans should ALL be registering to vote as Democrats the day they turn 18. There is no excuse for them not to, unless they come from hardcore Republican areas or racist, intolerant families. The fact that an overwhelming majority of Millennials don’t register with a party, or don’t identify with a party, is telling more of the Democratic Party’s failures than the GOP. That the GOP doesn’t want our vote-- they want us NOT to vote-- should naturally push voters to DEM, but DEM is an awful mess too. We need to embrace the rising generation and bring them into the mix. Show them government can be responsive to the people, responsive to our needs and demands, and that government understands us. When government allows millions of college students to graduate with crushing student loan debt and enter abysmal job markets and does NOTHING about it, those college students are less likely to care what happens in government moving forward. Government is a nuisance to young Americans, another crappy reality tv show in a world full of crappy reality tv shows, only this one is on every night and on every channel, and election winners can turn our whole world upside down in an instant. EMBRACE MILLENNIALS, don’t push them away. Take anti-corporatist stances on cutting-edge issues like net neutrality and encryption, don’t pander to us about Pokemon Go and snapchat, or try to trick us into thinking stopping Trump is the most important reason in the world to go vote. It’s important, and voting is important, but this is more than Trump."

Getting specific, he pointed out that "there won’t be a future if we don’t act on climate change. There won’t be a future if we don’t seize this opportunity for social justice. There won’t be a future if we continue de-regulating Democracy and Trump is President, appointing Supreme Court Justices and rubber-stamping everything McConnell and Ryan do." And then he tackled another idea the DCCC has utterly abandoned-- helping Democrats up and down the ballot. "Go down the ballot," he urges. "Build coalitions. Identify good honest candidates and train them, and get them all on the same page. If I as a congressional candidate align myself with a slate of similar good honest candidates, progressive voters should identify with that and support it!" That's called investing in a political party of the future, something Democratic leaders don't do, possibly because they're all so old and don't spend much energy thinking about a future. The current Democratic congressional leadership is far older than the Republican congressional leadership. Older and not especially wiser and certainly not savvier.
Nancy Pelosi, 76
Steny Hoyer, 77
Jim Clyburn, 76
Xavier Becerra- 58, the youngster

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Will Hillary's Choice Of Kaine As Running Mate Push Progressive Voters Towards Jill Stein?


Do you agree with Trump about anything? Even when he gets something right-- TPP for example-- his objections are not credible and invariably for all the wrong reasons. Well, he's wrong about Hillary too-- no matter what he says... and he's said everything! In terms of the election, all anyone really has to know is that however bad she is-- even after filtering out all the GOP/Hate Talk Radio slander and nonsense-- she is in all ways and on any day the far, far lesser evil than he is on his best day. There are some pros and some cons about a Hillary Clinton presidency. The only case to be made for a Trump presidency is apocalyptic... if that's your cup of tea.

She just selected Tim Kaine as her running mate-- this seems like too big a decision for any one person, especially when we're talking about people like Trump, but her too-- which has been a foregone conclusion all week. There was never a moment I thought it would be someone any better than she is. In my mind it would always be someone catering to the worst aspects of the wing of the Democratic Party that has more in common with Eisenhower Republicans than with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democrats-- the Clinton wing. I was surprised yesterday when Markos wrote at Daily Kos, of late very much a mouthpiece for that wing of the party, that Hillary would lose ground with the base by picking a corporate centrist. He singled out Vilsack and Kaine; I' would have included Cory Booker and Julian Castro. Markos wrote than neither Kaine, who he deems particularly crappy, nor Vilsack is "palatable." Palatable to who? To the base? The base is as low-info as the Republican base... two-digit IQ morons who have saddled us with two miserable candidates the country seems to hate. The base can be persuaded. Or does he mean the activists and progressives who once, quite some time ago, alas, animated his then-revolutionary website? They want impossible dreams like Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown or Bernie. That's never been in the cards, Hillary has less in common with them than she does with Susan Collins or Rob Portman.


The perfect compromise between a candidate springing from her own Republican-lite instincts and those of the progressive wing of the party, would have been Labor Secretary Tom Perez. He's not Elizabeth Warren and he's not Bernie but you don't have to twist the meaning of the word "Democrat" to get that he is one. Tim Kaine should never be president for a wide array of reasons, starting with his fealty to Wall Street, to fracking and to the kinds of trade agreements just about everyone in America short of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell (and Tim Kaine) now understands have been catastrophic. He has all of Clinton's policy flaws-- and more-- and none of her hard to discount saving graces. Kaine may well negate all the positive feelings Democrats who watched Trump's Hate Fest this week have allowed themselves to harbor about her. Markos seemed to be optimistic that Hillary was still going to "make the right call." I hoped he was right and that I was wrong. It's happened before. But not this time.

Jodi Jacobson at Rewire seemed as concerned and disturbed about the prospect of the Clinton's giving the slot to Kaine as we are. "The selection of Kaine," she wrote, "would be the first signal that Clinton intends to seek progressive votes but ignore progressive values and goals, likely at her peril, and ours."
Standing up for progressive principles is not so hard, if you actually believe in them. Senator Elizabeth Warren is a progressive who actually gets shit done, like the creation against all odds in 2011 of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, perhaps the single most important progressive achievement of the past 20 years. Among other things, the CFPB  shields consumers from the excesses of mortgage lenders, student loan servicers, and credit card companies that have caused so much economic chaos in the past decade. So unless you are more interested in protecting the status quo than addressing the root causes of the many problems we now face, a progressive politician would want a strong progressive running mate.

By choosing Tim Kaine as her vice president, Clinton will signal that she values progressives in name and vote only.

As Zach Carter wrote in the Huffington Post, Kaine is setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party. Kaine is in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement largely negotiated in secret and by corporate lobbyists. Both Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose voters Clinton needs to win over, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren oppose the TPP because, in Warren’s words, it “would tilt the playing field even more in favor of a big multinational corporations and against working families.”

The progressive agenda includes strong emphasis on effective systems of governance and oversight of banks and financial institutions-- the actors responsible, as a result of deregulation, for the major financial crises of the past 16 years, costing the United States trillions of dollars and gutting the financial security of many middle-class and low-income people.

...[A]s governor of Virginia, Kaine supported restrictions on abortion, such as Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law, which in 2008 he claimed gave “women information about a whole series of things, the health consequences, et cetera, and information about adoption.” In truth, the information such laws mandate giving out is often “irrelevant or misleading,” according to the the Guttmacher Institute. In other words, like many others who let ideology rather than public health guide their policy decisions, Kaine put in place policies that are not supported by the evidence and make it more difficult for women to gain access to abortion, steps he has not denounced. This is unacceptable. The very last thing we need is another person in the White House who further stigmatizes abortion, though it must be said Clinton herself seems chronically unable to speak about abortion without euphemism.

While there are many other reasons a Kaine pick would signal a less-than-secure and values-driven Clinton presidency, the fact also stands that he is a white male insider at a time when the rising electorate is decidedly not white and quite clearly looking for strong leadership and meaningful change. Kaine is not the change we seek.
Of course for those perfectly comfortable with going along with the lesser of two evils scenario that the two Beltway political parties insist defines democracy now... well Tim Kaine  is, arguably, far better than that walking freak show from Indiana (no, not Evan Bayh, the one... with the white hair... Mike Pence). As horrified as I was by the Cleveland Hate Fest and Trump's rantings and ravings-- and the overwhelming evil he and his horrid family-- sorry Chris Matthews-- represent, I will never vote based on who the lesser of two evils is. And if my resolve was weakening while I watched the GOP's deranged convention speakers and their hate-filled, ugly white audience, it just took a little focus back on Hillary-- and her announcement of Kaine half an hour ago-- to re-strengthen that resolve once again.

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It's lucky the WTC 9/11 Memorial is perfect, 'cause its overseers insist nothing can be changed


"9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels . . . said the sculpture couldn't be placed inside the hallowed grounds.

" 'It's just not a part of the design of the memorial plaza itself,' said Daniels, who added that they are unable to add objects not part of the original plans."

-- from Ben Fractenberg's May 15 DNAinfo report (see below)

From the PWP Landscape Architecture website: "The National September 11th Memorial commemorates the victims of the attacks at the Pentagon, at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the World Trade Center site, both on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. Two gigantic voids – in the footprints of the Twin Towers – and a surrounding forest of oak trees form the core of the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City and provide a place for contemplation and remembrance within this revitalized urban center."

by Ken

I like the 9/11 Memorial on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center towers, especially now that the plaza is more or less open to pedestrian traffic, no longer requiring the visitor to go through the insane, blocks-long security rigamarole that used to be required to access the site. (The "more or less open" refers to the considerable areas around the plaza which are still cordoned off for ongoing construction.)

I also like the adjacent 9/11 Museum, though entry still requires security rigamarole that seems to me excessive. There's even interesting programming there. Why, I myself have attended a program there, a free one in May featuring NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, an established security and terrorism expert, talking about, you know, present-day security and terrorism issues, with specific reference to the interview he did with Osama bin Laden in May 1998 for ABC News. In my mind I still see John Miller as a hustling young local TV news reporter. He's built quite a career since then, though, in both journalism and government, and it was interesting as well as informative to see and hear him talk about the subject.

And now I realize it's a lucky thing that the overall project turned out pretty much okay, because we've discovered -- who knew? -- that the plan from which it was built was perfect and unchangeable, apparently in perpetuity.

The discovery came, for most of us, in the ongoing brouhaha over the ultimate destination of the sphere sculpture designed by Fritz Koenig which somehow survived the WTC devastation, and has been housed "temporarily" -- since 2002 -- in the northeast corner of Lower-most Manhattan's Battery Park, as noted in Irene Plagianos's DNAinfo report late yesterday afternoon (lots of links onsite):
Koenig Sphere Moving to WTC Liberty Park, Port Authority Says

By Irene Plagianos | July 21, 2016 4:32pm

The Fritz Koenig sphere sculpture moved to Battery Park in 2002 after being pulled from the rubble at Ground Zero. [Click to enlarge.] It will now be moved to Liberty Park at the WTC site.

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — A 25-ton bronze sculpture that became a symbol of resilience after Sept. 11 is returning to the World Trade Center site — but not to its original home.

Artist Fritz Koenig's Sphere which was pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center nearly 15 years ago damaged, but not destroyed after 9/11 will be placed at the WTC's newly opened Liberty Park, an elevated, leafy oasis that overlooks the 9/11 Memorial Plaza.

Port Authority officials voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to move The Sphere, a globe originally designed to symbolize world peace, from its home in Battery Park into Liberty Park before the end of the year, officials said. The sphere had been at Battery Park since 2002 when it was rededicated as a memorial to those who died and an icon of hope.

The decision comes after years of debate about where the giant sphere would ultimately rest. Its placement in Battery Park had been deemed temporary by the Port Authority, which owns the sculpture, while scores of people — residents, families of 9/11 victims, survivors and first responders — have long demanded that 27-foot-high sphere return to its original location, where the 9/11 Memorial Plaza now sits.

While many, including the Battery Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that manages the Battery, wanted to see the Sphere moved, not all in the community were happy with the decision to bring the sculpture to the park, instead of the 9/11 Memorial.

At Thursday's Port Authority meeting, several people voiced concerns about the sphere being placed at the park, some saying it would create too much of a tourist attraction in an area meant to be a peaceful place. Others held that the sphere should simply return to its actual home, join a plaza that's meant to memorialize those who died, or be given a permanent home inside the 9/11 Museum.

“The sphere belongs on the memorial plaza — it can restore some dignity, some gravitas to the site,” said Richard Hughes, a co-founder of the Twin Towers Alliance, a citizens watchdog group for the WTC site. “Now it’s a place where people are playing Pokemon GO, rather than paying their respect.”

The 9/11 Memorial has long said that the Sphere was not part of its original plans, so it can’t be placed there.

Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority said Thursday that the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is “unalterably opposed" to siting the sphere on its property, and there's nothing the Port Authority can do about it — however, he enthusiastically endorsed the Sphere's new Liberty Park location.

"I wholeheartedly recommend that you vote to bring the Sphere back home," he told the panel of Port Authority commissioners.

Foye also said that the relocation of the Sphere is being embraced by the St. Nicholas National Shrine, a reincarnation of St. Nicholas Church, the longtime Greek Orthodox Church that was destroyed on Sept. 11 that is still being built atop Liberty Park.

Michael Burke, whose firefighter brother was killed on 9/11 and has long led the charge to bring the Sphere back to the WTC site, said that he's now onboard with the Liberty Park location.

"I toured this site the other day, and I think it provides a quiet place [for The Sphere], someplace unobtrusive and peaceful," he told the board.

The 92-year-old German artist behind the globe, Fritz Koening, has also said he is pleased with its new location.

I might add that every time I've passed the Sphere in its "temporary" location, it has been a center of attention, exerting an almost magnetic attraction for Battery Park passersby, of both the out-of-town and the local variety. I might also add that I'm not  offended beyond reason by the now-adopted plan to relocate the Sphere, now that it must give up its lovely spot in Battery Park, to the new Liberty Park adjacent to the WTC site.

What caught my attention, though, was this:
The 9/11 Memorial has long said that the Sphere was not part of its original plans, so it can’t be placed there.

Pat Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority said Thursday that the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is “unalterably opposed" to siting the sphere on its property, and there's nothing the Port Authority can do about it — however, he enthusiastically endorsed the Sphere's new Liberty Park location.
Huh? No consideration is possible of whether the Sphere belongs on the 9/11 Memorial site (can there be any question that it does?), or of whether it could be incorporated into the design of the plaza (which I'll bet it can). No changes are allowed to the original design.

There's a link here, which turns out to be to this earlier DNAinfo report by Ben Fractenberg, so I followed it. (Again, there are lots of links onsite.)
World Trade Sphere Must be Moved to 9/11 Memorial, Downtown Residents Say

By Ben Fractenberg | May 15, 2012 8:03am

The sphere in Battery Park in the spring of 2010. It has to move by this fall for construction.

DOWNTOWN — Downtown residents demanded that one of the last remaining objects from Ground Zero become part of the National 9/11 Memorial at a heated Community Board meeting Monday night.

A petition signed by more than 7,000 people asked that The Sphere — a 25-foot-tall sculpture originally at the World Trade Center and now in Battery Park City — become part of the memorial.

"[The Sphere] offers just how much horror, tragedy, violence went on that day," Battery Park resident Jeffery Mihok said.

Mihok called the current memorial "very crisp and antiseptic," and said the sculpture would provide a "great counterpoint to the thought-out nature for the rest of the memorial."

9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels, who was at the meeting to update the board about projects and construction, said the sculpture couldn't be placed inside the hallowed grounds.

"It's just not a part of the design of the memorial plaza itself," said Daniels, who added that they are unable to add objects not part of the original plans.

The Sphere is currently slated to be moved from Battery Park to a new location, which the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is expected to announce this week.

It was supposed to have been moved to a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport until a new home was found, but officials decried the plan.

"It simply cannot be mothballed in some musty hangar at JFK," Sen. Charles Schumer told reporters Saturday.

"It must remain, like now, accessible as a public touchstone for New Yorkers and the visitors from the four corners of the globe."

But community members feel there is only one acceptable place for it to move.

"Putting The Sphere anywhere else denies its meaning," said Michael Burke, whose brother was a first responder killed during the attacks.

Burke started the petition and said he has gotten signatures from people from all over the world.

"'Do the right thing,' is the most common thing expressed on the petition," he said.

Daniels said that while The Sphere can't be placed inside the memorial, he wants to help make sure it is placed somewhere appropriate.

"The most important thing is that this artifact is preserved in a way the public can visit it, learn about it any way they want to," Daniels said.
Sandwiched in here, you'll note, we have the position on the Sphere of 9/ll Memorial President Daniels which I've put atop this post:
"It's just not a part of the design of the memorial plaza itself," said Daniels, who added that they are unable to add objects not part of the original plans.
Wow -- "they are unable to add objects not part of the original plans"! My first thought on reading this was: In the entire history of the human race, has anything ever been built to which nothing could ever be added, at any time, for any reason? My second thought was: Is it really God's-honest-truth, President Daniels, that absolutely nothing has been added -- or, presumably, subtracted? -- to the project since the original plan was designed? Cross your heart and hope to die?

As you may have guessed, I'm dubious. I'd like to know more about this absolute prohibition, this undeviating, unalterable fidelity to the original plan. I can understand as a general principle that the original plan be followed as closely as possible. That closes the way to all sorts of proposals, most of which would likely be highly objectionable. If the idea was that succeeding generations of site custodians might be dangerously susceptible to dubious proposals, the idea isn't without merit. Still and all, is the original plan so sacred that additions can't even be considered? Not even one as clearly deserving of at least consideration as the Sphere? (And is it just additions that can't be allowed? As opposed to subtractions and/or alterations?)

Apparently so. Because the only other explanation is that we've got some self-important bureaucrats digging in their heels on account of they don't wanna, you can't make me.

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