The DNC "Platform" (aka 'dar atole con el dedo') :
* "The expression dar atole con el dedo means ‘placate’, ‘do the minimum necessary to stem complaints’. The metaphor is that of a mother wetting her finger with the drink (atole) and offering her wet finger to her child. This expression is commonly heard in the context of politicians throwing a bone to their constituents, satisfying them with small favors rather than delivering sustantial improvements."
Here from AlterNet, a several days old article on the "DNC Platform":
So How Progressive Is the Democratic Party Platform?
“Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”—Bernie Sanders campaign statement
“[This is] the most ambitious and progressive platform our party has ever seen.”—Maya Harris, Clinton policy adviser
The Sanders campaign has more than enough principled reasons to resist conventional political wisdom and carry on its campaign at least into convention floor fights and street demonstrations, not least because Democrats are acting as if they want only to co-opt Sanders supporters and send the Sanders political revolution down the memory hole.
Taken together, the two comments above frame the Democrats’ attempt at a “Mission Accomplished” moment for the party’s platform draft for 2016. Anyone who wants to read the full text and judge it independently is asking for too much participatory democracy. The Democratic National Committee online offers only two platforms, both from 2015. The Democratic National Convention online offers a press release summarizing the 30-page platform draft, but not the document itself. The apparent purpose of this approach is to persuade people that the party has taken Bernie Sanders into the fold and his followers should now fall in love and fall in line with the Democratic Party. And that’s the spin the party got in early coverage from the Washington Post, Associated Press, N.Y. Daily News, CNN (“Clinton campaign hails progressive Democratic platform”), The Hill, and others.
Conventional wisdom has it that party platforms are not to be taken all that seriously, since politicians are notorious for breaking promises, and platforms aren’t binding on candidates anyway. But what about the circumstance where the party platform is made up not only of promises, but of many real and veiled threats? How seriously should we take that?
Robert Reich suggests that Hillary Clinton’s lack of a progressive vision for the country enhances the chances of a Donald Trump presidency.
No wonder, then, that the Democratic Party is working to create the image of a progressive party where there is none. DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz thanked the platform committee for “a platform draft that advances our party’s progressive ideals and is worthy of our great country.” Platform Drafting Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “The draft platform we have produced in an open and transparent manner reflects our priorities as Democrats and demonstrates our vision for this nation.” To support these claims, the DNC press release highlights “key progressive policies” in the platform draft, some of which are perennial promises of pie-in-the-sky coming closer to earth. It also leaves out some things that progressives might find important. The following checklist, based on limited available information, is necessarily incomplete in the absence of the 30-page platform draft itself. And in any event, the meaningfulness of any of these platform planks (or omissions) is dependent on the will of a party that has been becoming less and less progressive for thirty years.
Jobs. It’s “the most ambitious jobs plan on record,” and the sky is full of pie. Focus on restoring infrastructure and revitalizing decaying communities seems encouraging, but that’s about as specific as it gets.
Minimum Wage. The committee said a minimum wage of $15 an hour is a nice idea, but rejected the Sanders proposal to actually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Clinton members of the committee also rejected indexing any minimum wage to inflation.
Education. For public schools, the platform “reaffirmed Democrats’ commitment to supporting teachers, schools and communities.” Re-thinking federal mandates, not so much. College education for all who qualify, even less. Eliminating (or just mitigating) student debt, not at all.
Death Penalty. “This is the first time in the Democratic Party’s history” that it has called for abolishing the death penalty. A little late, but all the same progress from 1992, when Bill Clinton found it politically expedient to rush back to Arkansas to make sure his state killed a retarded man.
Trade. “Existing deals must be continuously re-examined and enforcement of those existing agreements must be tougher.” Not tough enough now, with TransCanada suing the U,S, under NAFTA for delaying their Keystone XL pipeline? Not a word about that. And not a word about the pending TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), opposed by Sanders, sort of opposed by Clinton, but supported by President Obama, so the committee felt politically hog-tied and punted (if you can imagine such contortions). The platform says, “A higher standard [undefined] must be applied to any future trade agreements.” Really?
Earned Income Tax Credit. The DNC calls this “looking out for working people,” and it helps, but not in day-to-day living, only once a year. Expanding it is a feel-good idea with minimal real impact.
Wall Street Reform. The platform promises expanded regulatory controls, like the ones the party refused to adopt when it could in 2009-2010. The platform hints at adopting a “modernized” Glass-Steagall Act, the one the party abolished to make the crash of 2007 possible, if not inevitable. And the party dangles the bait of breaking up too-big-to-fail institutions that threaten economic stability, a break-up the Obama administration made sure didn’t happen. The platform appears to ignore “private equity” threats entirely.
Multi-Millionaire Surtax. The platform is long on rhetoric (“ensuring millionaires can no longer pay a lower [tax] rate than their secretaries”), but short on specifics. Wealth disparity, in any form, is not addressed.
Expanding Social Security. The platform first promises to “fight every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security,” but neglects to mention restoring cost-of-living increases. The committee adopted an amendment promising to expand Social Security, paying for the expansion by taxing annual incomes above $250,000 (roughly five times the American median household income)
Immigration. The platform draft specifically supports “keeping families together, ending family detention, closing private detention centers, and guaranteeing legal counsel for all unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings,” as well as “comprehensive immigration reform” without other specifics. The platform is silent on deportation, which has been higher under President Obama than any previous president.
Universal Health Care. Reiterating its decades-old assertion that “health care is a right,” the platform promotes the Affordable Care Act as a success to build on. The committee, like the president in 2009, explicitly rejected single-payer, Medicare-for-all, despite its manifest popularity and superiority over any other available plan. The Clinton people would have none of it. Universal health care is not even serious pie-in-the-sky.
Honoring Tribal Nations. The committee “unanimously adopted the most comprehensive language ever in the party’s platform recognizing our moral and legal responsibility to honor the sovereignty of and relationship to Indigenous tribes—and acknowledge previous failures to live up to that responsibility.” That’s it, no specifics. No promise to clean up uranium contamination on Navajo land, for example.
Climate Change and Clean Energy. In an apparent rebuke to the president’s “all of the above” energy non-strategy, the committee adopted a joint Sanders-Clinton proposal “to commit to making America run entirely on clean energy by mid-century.” This would actually be a radical proposal, if the party actually meant it. But the committee also flatly rejected any carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gasses and it flatly rejected any freeze on natural gas fracking, leaving the air, underground water, and earthquake-prone areas as vulnerable as ever to the largely unregulated, destructive process. The committee also rejected a ban on fossil fuel drilling on federal land or in federal waters.
Reproductive Rights. According to the DNC, the “platform goes further than previous Democratic platforms on women’s reproductive rights,” which is a measure of how weak previous platforms were. This platform defends Planned Parenthood, opposes the 1973 Helms Amendment (limited U.S. spending abroad on abortion), and opposes the 1976 Hyde Amendment (limiting domestic federal expenditures on abortion).
Criminal Justice Reform. The platform draft “calls for ending the era of mass incarceration, shutting down private prisons, ending racial profiling, reforming the grand jury process, investing in re-entry programs, banning the box to help give people a second chance and prioritizing treatment over incarceration for individuals suffering addiction.” This is tantamount to rejection of Clinton-era “reform,” as well as an implied rebuke to the sitting president, who has done little to end these horrors.
Marijuana. The platform does not come close to supporting legalization, but is for “supporting states that choose to decriminalize marijuana,” without specifying how such support would be expressed (no mention, for example, of removing the stupid federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I Controlled Substance). The committee adopted an amendment recognizing the racial disparity of the impact of marijuana laws on African Americans (and other minorities), but stopped short of saying what, if anything, to do about that injustice.
That is the last item in the full list of issues the DNC chose to highlight from the platform draft adopted (with Cornel West abstaining) on June 25. Unsurprisingly, the DNC did not offer a comprehensive list of all the platform issues, ignoring Israel, for example, although it was reported elsewhere:
Israel. Israel was very much on the platform committee’s mind, and the committee rejected a proposal that the U.S. should oppose Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation and colonization of the West Bank. The draft platform reflects Clinton’s support for the mirage of a “two state solution” of some sort (not specified). The platform does stake out two new positions for the party: first, that Palestinians “should be free to govern themselves in their own viable state, in peace and in dignity" and second, that Democrats “oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions [BDS] Movement." It’s not clear how Democrats will justify both supporting Israel’s illegal occupation and opposing the entirely legal BDS Movement.
Iraq and Syria. Although untouted by the DNC, the platform also calls for “more inclusive governance” in Iraq and Syria. What, you thought there was a war there or something? Seriously.
And then there’s the highly uncertain, open-ended list of issues possibly important to the American people, but that go apparently unmentioned by the DNC and media coverage. Or maybe they’re there and being ignored:
Assault Weapons. Contrary to what you thought you saw on TV, Democrats have no apparent platform plank dealing with assault weapons, 100-shot clips, background checks, or any other aspect of gun regulation. Not a mumbling word.
Military Budget. $600 billion a year for what? Not worth asking.
Intelligence Budgets. Billions more, much in black budgets, and for what? You’d better not ask.
Terrorism. In the unlikely event that terrorism were actually omitted, that would be a sign of maturity and intellectual integrity, moving away from fear-mongering. It could happen, right?
Terror War in Yemen. Yes, the Saudis are the international war criminals fronting for U.S., but our hands are bloody. And the profits are good, so why bring it up in a party platform? Have you forgotten how divisive Vietnam was?
Afghanistan. Not a word about America’s longest war. Long may it wave.
Iran. Saudi Arabia. Turkey. Libya. etc., etc. Nothing revealed.
Poverty. There are 47 million poor people in America, as Sanders repeatedly points out. They are as invisible in the Democratic platform as they are in everyday life. Why have we become a country where it’s considered a tolerable response to round up homeless people and ship them off to somewhere else, anywhere else but here? The platform is as oblivious to America’s poor as to the world’s poor.
The omissions go on and on—what is the Democratic Party’s policy toward any of the unaddressed issues out there? In favor of war in Ukraine? Itching for Naval confrontation in South China Sea? Wanting to accept England as our 51st state? Who knows? If this is the most progressive party platform the Democrats have ever seen, then the Democrats have never seen a truly progressive platform. Not that that is any reason to stop the shuck and jive.
The Hillary E-Mails:
From the Intercept:
People who leak to media outlets for the selfless purpose of informing the public – Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden – face decades in prison. Those who leak for more ignoble and self-serving ends – such as enabling hagiography (Leon Panetta, David Petreaus) or ingratiating oneself to one’s mistress (Petraeus) – face career destruction, though they are usually spared if they are sufficiently Important-in-DC. For low-level, powerless Nobodies-in-DC, even the mere mishandling of classified information – without any intent to leak but merely to, say, work from home – has resulted in criminal prosecution, career destruction and the permanent loss of security clearance.
This extreme, unforgiving, unreasonable, excessive posture toward classified information came to an instant halt in Washington today – just in time to save Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. FBI Director James Comey, an Obama appointee who served in the Bush DOJ, held a press conference earlier this afternoon in which he condemned Clinton on the ground that she and her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” including Top Secret material.
Comey also detailed that her key public statements defending her conduct – i.e., she never sent classified information over her personal email account and that she had turned over all “work-related” emails to the State Department – were utterly false; insisted “that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position . . . should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation”; and argued that she endangered national security because of the possibility “that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.” Comey also noted that others who have done what Clinton did “are often subject to security or administrative sanctions” – such as demotion, career harm, or loss of security clearance.
Despite all of these highly incriminating findings, Comey explained, the FBI is recommending to the Justice Department that Clinton not be charged with any crime. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” To justify this claim, Comey cited “the context of a person’s actions” and her “intent.” In other words, there is evidence that she did exactly what the criminal law prohibits, but it was more negligent and careless than malicious and deliberate.
Looked at in isolation, I have no particular objection to this decision. In fact, I agree with it: I don’t think what Clinton did rose to the level of criminality, and if I were in the Justice Department, I would not want to see her prosecuted for it. I do think there was malignant intent: using a personal email account and installing a home server always seemed to be designed, at least in part, to control her communications and hide them from FOIA and similar disclosure obligations. As The New York Times noted in May about a highly incriminating report from the State Department’s own Auditor General: “emails disclosed in the report made it clear that she worried that personal emails could be publicly released under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Moreover, Comey expressly found that – contrary to her repeated statements – “the FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014.” The Inspector General’s report similarly, in the words of the NYT, “undermined some of Mrs. Clinton’s previous statements defending her use of the server.” Still, charging someone with a felony requires more than lying or unethical motives; it should require a clear intent to break the law along with substantial intended harm, none of which is sufficiently present here.
But this case does not exist in isolation. It exists in a political climate where secrecy is regarded as the highest end, where people have their lives destroyed for the most trivial – or, worse, the most well-intentioned – violations of secrecy laws, even in the absence of any evidence of harm or malignant intent. And these are injustices that Hillary Clinton and most of her stalwart Democratic followers have never once opposed – but rather enthusiastically cheered. In 2011, Army Private Chelsea Manning was charged with multiple felonies and faced decades in prison for leaking documents that she firmly believed the public had the right to see; unlike the documents Clinton recklessly mishandled, none of those was Top Secret. Nonetheless, this is what then-Secretary Clinton said in justifying her prosecution:
I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.Comey’s announcement also takes place in a society that imprisons more of its citizens than any other in the world by far, for more trivial offenses than any western nation – overwhelmingly when they are poor or otherwise marginalized due to their race or ethnicity. The sort of leniency and mercy and prosecutorial restraint Comey extended today to Hillary Clinton is simply unavailable for most Americans.
What happened here is glaringly obvious. It is the tawdry by-product of a criminal justice mentality in which – as I documented in my 2011 book With Liberty and Justice for Some – those who wield the greatest political and economic power are virtually exempt from the rule of law even when they commit the most egregious crimes, while only those who are powerless and marginalized are harshly punished, often for the most trivial transgressions.
Had someone who was obscure and unimportant and powerless done what Hillary Clinton did – recklessly and secretly install a shoddy home server and worked with Top Secret information on it, then outright lied to the public about it when they were caught – they would have been criminally charged long ago, with little fuss or objection. But Hillary Clinton is the opposite of unimportant. She’s the multi-millionaire former First Lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, supported by virtually the entire political, financial and media establishment to be the next President, arguably the only person standing between Donald Trump and the White House.
Like the Wall Street tycoons whose systemic fraud triggered the 2008 global financial crisis, and like the military and political officials who instituted a worldwide regime of torture, Hillary Clinton is too important to be treated the same as everyone else under the law. “Felony charges appear to be reserved for people of the lowest ranks. Everyone else who does it either doesn’t get charged or gets charged with a misdemeanor,” Virginia defense attorney Edward MacMahon told Politico last year about secrecy prosecutions. Washington defense attorney Abbe Lowell has similarly denounced the “profound double standard” governing how the Obama DOJ prosecutes secrecy cases: “lower-level employees are prosecuted . . . because they are easy targets and lack the resources and political connections to fight back.”
The fact that Clinton is who she is undoubtedly what caused the FBI to accord her the massive benefit of the doubt when assessing her motives, when finding nothing that was – in the words of Comey – “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”
But a system that accords treatment based on who someone is, rather than what they’ve done, is the opposite of one conducted under the rule of law. It is, instead, one of systemic privilege. As Thomas Jefferson put it in a 1784 letter to George Washington, the ultimate foundation of any constitutional order is “the denial of every preeminence.” Hillary Clinton has long been the beneficiary of this systemic privilege in so many ways, and today, she received her biggest gift from it yet.
The Obama-appointed FBI Director gave a press conference showing that she recklessly handled Top Secret information, engaged in conduct prohibited by law, and lied about it repeatedly to the public. But she won’t be prosecuted or imprisoned for any of that, so Democrats are celebrating. But if there is to be anything positive that can come from this lowly affair, perhaps Democrats might start demanding the same reasonable leniency and prosecutorial restraint for everyone else who isn’t Hillary Clinton.
So, good luck to the Prophets of Rage:
4th of July Weekend in Rosarito Beach and the current crime stats...
We were in town twice over the the 4th of July weekend, and I have never seen it so jam packed and crowded, traffic backed up in both directions. Most of the news sources have reported exactly what we saw; that the crowds were predominately made up of Mexican-Americans. There were also plenty of Mexican nationals from inland Mexicali trying to beat the bad air and the heat. Actually it was refreshing to see the crowds, who were well behaved (unlike the drunken spring breakers) and looked to be having a good time. From the beginning of town down to the Tampico restaurant and then further to Cantamar, I only saw six guerros, however Mike's friend from work who was staying at the Rosarito Beach Towers said there were white eyes there, but they were staying close to the Hotel.
The question of course is although these folks filled the hotels to capacity, could they as Mexican-Americans be persuaded to buy into Mexico in the future? We didn't exactly see stewardship of the environment or improved infrastructure at work, if those would be determining factors.
It was as though the hand of God intervened and the drug war violence came to an abrupt halt for almost four days straight both in Rosarito, Tijuana and further south. How did that happen? The last event in Rosarito was on 06/30 where a business woman walking down the street in colonia Constitucion was gunned down and killed by an armed commando group. El Mexicano reported that this homicide would make the 35th execution in Rosarito since the beginning of the year, which is a 100% increase from the same time period of January through June last year. Apparently this huge increase in violence did not phase the Mexican-Americans or the couple of handfuls of gringos who came down to visit.
The six month totals....
Since the beginning of the year to June 30th, Zeta reports 409 people have been executed in Tijuana. Frontera notes that this is a 37.4 % increase compared to the same time period last year. If these numbers continue and remain at this same level, we could be seeing one of the most violent years in Tijuana's history, however after the 4th of July weekend, the hope is that maybe the numbers will subside - and the new Justice system will kick in.
For all the figures statewide, go to this link and click "Estadistica Estatal y Municipal" at the bottom of the page. I noticed the graph section was not yet up to date.
July 5, 2016...
The quiet of the long weekend was broken today:
- Tijuana: Gunmen open fire killing an employee at the Pemex Station on the TIJ-Tecate free road; unknown if this was an attempted robbery or a hit. Noticed link is not coming up, do search for: "Ejecutan a empleado de gasolinera en carretera libre a Tecate".
Edit - 07/06: Zeta updates their report, this was a woman identified as 24 year old Norma Elvira Cohn Hernandez who was executed , shot in the chest and head while she was filling up a gas container. No arrests.
- Tijuana: Man wounded by gunfire pulls into fire station in Centenario for help, no word on his present condition.
- Tijuana: Around 5:30pm (still light) another tourist bus attacked, Zeta reports this was the sixth attack sustained by the Ticketon Line. The Ticketon Line is a shuttle service which many gringos use to transport them to and from the TIJ International airport among some of its services with offices on Beyer Blvd. San Diego. En route from the TIJ International Airport to the San Ysidro POE the bus with mostly U.S. citizens aboard was attacked with rocks by three men wearing bandanas across their faces. The driver was able to get away but then was attacked again by the Padre Kino glorietta (ya'll know where this is). The passengers aboard according to Zeta panicked and instead of trying to get help from the Mexican police, the driver made a run for the border hoping to find assistance from U.S. authorities. So, who were those masked men ? So far, no reports on if these attacks are extortion related (oh who would do that?) or perhaps a business dispute between bus companies over territory as we have been seeing in Tijuana with the recent and brutal attacks on the Uber drivers and vehicles by the Yellow cab drivers. Territory as you know is sacrosanct in Mexico.
We'll see how it goes.