Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged Civil Rights

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Tampa Authorities Empty Jail In Anticipation Of Mass Arrests At GOP Convention

Adam Peck at ThinkProgress writes:

Thousands of Republicans from around the country will descend upon Tampa, Florida next week for the Republican National Convention, and if recent history is any guide, so too will hundreds of protesters.

To prepare, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has ordered the Orient Road Jail, a 1,700 bed prison in Tampa, emptied, relocating some inmates to another nearby prison and releasing others on bond. The entire facility has been transformed into a one-stop booking, detention, and bond-issuance center capable of handling large numbers of arrests, which begs the question: will Tampa police keep demonstrators on a short leash?

Will they? Yes.

Is that right? No.

As Peck and others have pointed out, excessive use of force is a persistent problem, particularly at the GOP convention in Minnesota in 2008 and New York in 2004. As an attendee of the GOP convention, it will be bizarre to be on the other side of the “free speech zone” — which, by its very existence, demonstrates the almost Orwellian Newspeak surrounding security measures.

Truthfully, I’m more worried about Hurricane Isaac than any potential violence inflicted by demonstrators. But I fear violence may be inflicted upon them. I encourage demonstrators to download the ACLU Police Tape app, encourage them to write the numbers for ACLU and National Lawyers Guild on their person in Sharpie, and to know their rights as demonstrators and when dealing with law enforcement

Yes, the GOP has the right to have a convention — no one will dispute that. But protesters have the right to be free of police harassment, intrusive surveillance, and brutality. I hope the mistakes of Minnesota and New York will not be repeated. 

Filed under know your rights GOP convention Republican National Convention Election Election 2012 RNC police civil liberties civil rights

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Accused Tucson shooter mentally fit, pleads guilty

Jared Lee Loughner pleaded guilty Tuesday to going on a shooting rampage at a political gathering, killing six people and wounding his intended target, then-Congresswoman Gabriele Giffords, and 12 others.

Loughner’s plea spares him the death penalty and came soon after a federal judge found that months of forcibly medicating him to treat his schizophrenia had made the 23-year-old college dropout competent to understand the gravity of the charges and assist in his defense.

Under the plea, he will be sentenced to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole.

The outcome was welcomed by some victims, including Giffords herself, as a way to avoid a lengthy, possibly traumatic trial and years of legal wrangling over a death sentence.

"The pain and loss caused by the events of Jan. 8, 2011, are incalculable," Giffords said in a joint statement with her husband, Mark Kelly. "Avoiding a trial will allow us — and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community — to continue with our recovery."

Experts had concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia, and officials at a federal prison have forcibly medicated him with psychotropic drugs for more than a year.

Wow. We forcibly make him competent in order to incarcerate him for life — just like how we forcibly make people competent in order to execute them. Will the treatment continue in prison? It’s likely, but not guaranteed. 

While I’m glad he is being sentenced to life without parole, and I’m also happy victims are receiving closure, I still have serious issues with the forcible drugging of people who commit crimes in order to render them competent for trial or plea agreements. To me, that just speaks to the fact that the court is tacitly admitting the person was incompetent at the time of the offense, but since we can maybe restore competency long enough, meh

That’s just my thoughts. Again, I don’t think he WASN’T guilty, but I’m a little skeptical about forcibly medicating people.

Filed under Jared Lee Loughner Tucson Gabrielle Giffords politics civil liberties civil rights mental illness criminal justice

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Buzzfeed: Federal Trial Court In Connecticut Strikes Down DOMA's Marriage Definition

U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant today held in a federal case in Connecticut that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act — the federal definition of marriage — is unconstitutional… Federal judges in Massachusetts, California and New York also have found DOMA’s provision defining “marriage” and “spouse” as only being unions of one man and one woman in all federal laws unconstitutional.

Bryant — appointed to the bench by President George W, Bush on April 2, 2007 — found that laws that classify people based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny by courts — as the Department of Justice and plaintiffs argued in the case — but found the provision of the 1996 law unconstitutional “even under the most deferential level of judicial scrutiny.”

In her decision in the case, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, Bryant found:

In sum, having considered the purported rational bases proffered by both BLAG and Congress and concluded that such objectives bear no rational relationship to Section 3 of DOMA as a legislative scheme, the Court finds that no conceivable rational basis exists for the provision. The provision therefore violates the equal protection principles incorporated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This is a big deal, y’all. With several pressing cases in different Federal Court Districts, the chances of the Supreme Court reviewing DOMA goes up — the only hitch is that there hasn’t been much conflicts in the circuits, except regarding levels of scrutiny. Here’s why that’s important.

Filed under DOMA Defense of Marriage Act marriage equality federal court Politics same-sex marriage GLBTQ GLBTQ rights civil rights

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The best app, hands down. It has tips on what to do when confronted by law enforcement in various situations, and the ability to discretely record audio and video.

If you’ve ever had an encounter with the police that you wish you could record, here’s your ticket.

A word of caution: Some states and municipalities prohibit recording police and/or recording third parties. Know the law in your state and your city. However, and this is my non-legal opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry when encountering possible police hostility/brutality.

The best app, hands down. It has tips on what to do when confronted by law enforcement in various situations, and the ability to discretely record audio and video.

If you’ve ever had an encounter with the police that you wish you could record, here’s your ticket.

A word of caution: Some states and municipalities prohibit recording police and/or recording third parties. Know the law in your state and your city. However, and this is my non-legal opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry when encountering possible police hostility/brutality.

Filed under police ACLU Know your rights app smartphone civil rights Police tape

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Shep Smith and Judge Robert Napolitano discuss the arrests of Chicago NATO protesters, including the five men accused of possessing explosives:

Napolitano: “But the Chicago folks want to make a case out of it, because they want to make an example out of these kids to deter other people from expressing their political opinions in the streets.”

Smith: “You’ve got to be kidding me. How do we have stories like this, two or three times a week, and no one in the nation seems to care?”

Napolitano: “Because the American public has been deluded into thinking that when the government finds a dope and persuades the dope to say bad things and think he’s assembling a bomb and then he eventually pleads guilty, somehow we are kept safe by that happening.”

Smith: “That’s a load of it! Somehow we are made to feel like maybe they’re doing something for us, and what they’re really doing is trampling on our liberty.”

Bless you, Shep Smith. This same shit happened in Minnesota in 2004 with the RNC convention, and in NYC and Denver at the RNC and DNC conventions. How much you want to bet it’ll happen in Tampa at the 2012 RNC convention?

As a progressive activist, I swear — I’m worried about giving details of any upcoming protest actions to people I don’t know. Not because I plan acts of violence or support acts of violence, but because I don’t want to be a target of a midnight raid as an example. And let’s be real, I’m pretty boring out here Wyoming…

However, an injury to one is an injury to all.

Filed under civil rights protest politics Fox News Shep Smith Judge Robert Napolitano Chicago NATO COINTELPRO 2.0

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Breaking: Colorado House committee kills civil unions bill in special session

Disgusting. From Prop 8 Trial Tracker:

By a party-line 5-4 vote, Republican members of the Colorado House of Representatives State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted tonight to kill a civil unions bill during a special legislative session.  Although the bill passed three Republican-led committees with bipartisan support and was guaranteed passage in the full House had it been brought up for a vote in the regular session, House Republican leadership ran out the clock on the bill last week, denying a floor vote on it and 37 other bills.

Even though Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, a strong supporter of the legislation, called a special session in part so that the civil unions bill could receive a full vote on the House floor, House Speaker Frank McNulty condemned the bill to almost certain failure in the conservative State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. Republicans on the committee who opposed the measure frequently described it today as a “gay marriage bill,” rather than the civil unions legislation that it actually was.

Democrats plan to make the Republicans’ obstructionism a center-point of their electoral strategy in the fall. What has taken place in the last two weeks in Colorado is truly appalling: no bill that enjoys majority support should be forced to pass four different committees, and no bill should be sent to a specific committee as a strategy to kill it off. We can only hope that this blatant political gamesmanship has some effect on the chamber’s make-up after the November election.

Colorado Republicans, I am very disappointed.

Voters of Colorado, remember this: These few ultra-conservatives thought it better that the state legislature and the governor bow to their personal beliefs, and that it was better they supersede the majority of Colorado’s citizens, the governor, and their colleagues, because of their own biases.

Remember this in November and vote accordingly. 

Filed under Colorado Civil Unions GLBTQ politics disgusting Republican Republicans civil rights injustice

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Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.
Labor organizer, co-founder of United Farm Workers union, and civil rights activist César Chávez. Chávez was addressing the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in 1984.

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under César Chávez social change civil rights education oppression United Farm Workers organized labor

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BREAKING: Obama signs NDAA with “serious reservations,” says he won’t authorize “indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

From ABC News:

In his last official act of business in 2011, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act from his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii. In a statement, the president said he did so with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge. Recently two retired four-star Marine generals called on the president to veto the bill in a New York Times op-ed, deeming it “misguided and unnecessary.”

"Due process would be a thing of the past," wrote Gens Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar. "Current law empowers the military to detain people caught on the battlefield, but this provision would expand the battlefield to include the United States – and hand Osama bin Laden an unearned victory long after his well-earned demise."

The president defended his action, writing that he signed the act, “chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed.”

I don’t care what he says - the bill allows for indefinite detention. If he saw no problem with it, he would not have signed it on a Saturday, on the last day of the year. This is a horrific bill. The U.S. has been detaining foreign citizens for years without trial. We’re moving towards American citizens. When are we going to wake up and realize the human and civil rights abuses our country is committing and has the potential to commit under this bill.

Obama may not think it will happen under his administration and says as much. How are we to believe he has the backbone to stop it?

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under NDAA Politics Obama National Defense Authorization Act 2011 detention civil rights US government military wrong news

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NDAA Set To Become Law: The Terror Is Nearer Than Ever

It turns out that destroying the American democratic republic was easy to accomplish, historians will write someday. Simply get the three major cable news networks to blather on about useless bull**** for a few days, while legislators meet in secret behind closed doors to rush through the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), and its evil twin sister, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is a clever name for an Internet censorship bill straight out of an Orwellian nightmare.

Sure, some independent media web sites and Jon Stewart warned us about this. Ron Paul & Son warned us about this. Amnesty International and the ACLU have been screaming from the rooftops, crying bloody murder. But the American people let it happen, because the vast majority of us simply didn’t find out in time.

And now President Obama’s advisers are saying he is withdrawing his veto threat against NDAA, so it will become law.

True story. I commend Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., for voting against this. Her statement on the bill:

Although the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains important provisions for national defense, after careful review of the legislation, I believe that the language in the bill muddies the water concerning the due process rights granted to American citizens by the Constitution. Granting authority to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of terrorism without charge and without sufficiently addressing what rights an American citizen has if they are suspected of terrorism and arrested on U.S. soil, sets a troubling precedent.

This bill is horrifying. For those who are saying, “Meh, big deal, we detain people already…” - yeah, we have, and that’s wrong. NDAA is much worse. It is authorizing detention of American citizens without due process if they’re suspected of terrorism, and that detention will occur on American soil. This is further encroaching our rights and turning the military against the American people.

NDAA is the PATRIOT Act on steroids. 

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under NDAA Obama politics war National defense terrorism terror civil rights Cynthia Lummis democracy government President Obama

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Time for a mic check?
Sheriff Joe doesn’t want protesters at his speaking gig, and we all know what Sheriff Joe thinks of the Bill of Rights.
Hey Tucson (and the rest of Arizona) - you know what to do! Go share your love of the First Amendment with America’s Toughest Worst Sheriff.
Here’s the info:
Republicans Meeting with speaker Sheriff Joe ArpaioWhere: Voyager Catalina Room, 8701 S. Kolb Rd. (I-10 and Kolb, Exit 270, go south 1/4 mile, entrance on the left hand side of street).When: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 5:30 PM
Go Occupy Sheriff Joe!

Time for a mic check?

Sheriff Joe doesn’t want protesters at his speaking gig, and we all know what Sheriff Joe thinks of the Bill of Rights.

Hey Tucson (and the rest of Arizona) - you know what to do! Go share your love of the First Amendment with America’s Toughest Worst Sheriff.

Here’s the info:

Republicans Meeting with speaker Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Where: Voyager Catalina Room, 8701 S. Kolb Rd. (I-10 and Kolb, Exit 270, go south 1/4 mile, entrance on the left hand side of street).
When: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 5:30 PM

Go Occupy Sheriff Joe!

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under Joe Arpaio GOP Sheriff crime politics First Amendment Protest injustice civil rights Sheriff Joe Arizona Bill of Rights Occupy Joe Arpaio OWS Occupy Phoenix Occupy Tucson Tucson