Political Action

A life of power and privilege

Socialist Worker - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 01:00

David Rockefeller was remembered as a philanthropist and benevolent financier, but the real story is very different, writes Erik Wallenberg in an article published at Jacobin.

David Rockefeller

AS A child growing up in a mansion on 54th Street in Manhattan, David Rockefeller remembered roller-skating with his siblings down Fifth Avenue trailed by a limousine in case they got tired.

Rockefeller and his family, which included billionaires and politicians at all levels of government, spent a lifetime ensconced in this kind of luxury. At the time of his death on March 20, Forbes estimated that the 101-year-old Rockefeller's investments in real estate, share of family trusts and other holdings stood at $3.3 billion.

The obituaries and tributes waxed nostalgic, giving us all the gilt with none of the grit. Instead of a reckoning with what this man, alongside his powerful family, wrought over a 101-year life, the eulogies have been hollow celebrations and stories of celebrity-filled parties.

Not to be confined to the obituaries, JPMorgan Chase took out a full-page advertisement in the business section of the New York Times. With a half scowl, a black-and-white photograph of David Rockefeller looms in the center of the page, while a message from Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan, attempted the poetic.

Dimon writes that Rockefeller left "an indelible, positive mark on our world as a leader in philanthropy, the arts, business and global affairs." A former member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Dimon sat in that seat during the economic collapse of 2008 and was widely criticized for his role in the financial crisis that devastated millions.

He also occupied the main seat at JPMorgan Chase, the same one Rockefeller held as chairman of Chase Manhattan from 1969-1981, during the depths of New York City's fiscal crisis, decades before Chase acquired JPMorgan.

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SOMETIMES THE idea of a "ruling class" can seem abstract. In the figure of David Rockefeller, who died March 20, and the Rockefeller family, the abstraction melts away. His life and his family's history give us a unique view into how those with the money shape everything from who gets elected to public office, to how cities are built, to what kind of art is allowed to be produced.

David Rockefeller was the central banker for the family that epitomized Gilded Age opulence. While David managed the money, his brothers and nephews took on the work of governing. His brother Nelson was both governor of New York and vice president; his other brother Winthrop was governor of Arkansas; his nephew Winthrop Paul Rockefeller was lieutenant governor of Arkansas; and Jay Rockefeller, another nephew, was governor and a U.S. senator for West Virginia.

David Rockefeller's ruling-class origins are the stuff of legends. He was the grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, and the son of John D. Rockefeller Jr.

David learned his capitalism at his daddy's knee and from his grandfather's university. He was a PhD student in economics at the University of Chicago, which was founded in part with his grandfather's money. The school, according to David, "boasted one of the premier economics faculties in the world."

He denies his legacy status as important, saying "the fact that Grandfather had helped found the university played a distinctly secondary role in my choice." He has sat on the board of trustees in various capacities for 70 years, and the university created the David Rockefeller Distinguished Professorship in his name.

David Rockefeller's connection to the economics department would have longstanding implications for those in other parts of the world with a bit less privilege. Eventually the home of the infamous neoliberal economist Milton Friedman, faculty in the economics department at the University of Chicago led the ideological fight for a deregulated and privatized economy, championing the gutting of social welfare programs.

Naomi Klein exposed the brutal logic of those pushing the neoliberal agenda in her book The Shock Doctrine. She also linked the project to David Rockefeller. With a U.S.-backed junta in place in Argentina, Henry Kissinger made sure to extend an invitation to the military government's minister of the economy. He offered to make the introductions needed to keep Argentina financially solvent and said he would "call David Rockefeller," then president of Chase Manhattan Bank, to gain access to the resources to do so.

Kissinger didn't stop there. "And I will call his brother, the vice president [of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller]." David's Bank, as Chase became known during this time, shored up Argentina's economic needs, while Nelson took care of the political front.

Bolstering dictatorships was no aberration. David Rockefeller traveled the world in service of accumulating capital. He rarely met an oil oligarch or crony capitalist he wouldn't do business with.

Rockefeller went so far as to "become embroiled in an international incident when in 1979, he and longtime friend Henry Kissinger helped persuade President Jimmy Carter to admit the Shah of Iran to the United States for treatment of lymphoma, helping precipitate the Iran hostage crisis," Reuters reported, a rare half-criticism in the mostly fawning obituaries.

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BUT ROCKEFELLER preferred to wear a velvet glove over his iron fist. His friends and eulogizers have followed his lead.

Todd Purdum wrote in the New York Times that David Rockefeller "will always be the man who served the second martini I ever drank in my life." He used his limited space in this column to recount his family history with the Rockefellers and the personal good deeds of a dead man.

Purdum notes that all Rockefeller's loyal aides called him "D.R.," before adopting the use of the nickname himself further in the column. If not for Purdum's occupation, this would be just another vapid toast to the departed billionaire.

However, it was as the City Hall bureau chief at the New York Times that Purdum had that martini with "D.R.," surrounded by "priceless art" after being "summoned" to Rockefeller's East 65th Street townhouse "to discuss the fortunes of Mayor David Dinkins." This two-martini lunch is a stark reminder of how the system functions with its willing media presided over by generations of billionaires.

Other media outlets happily played along. UChicago News wrote that "David Rockefeller's civic work included...serving as a key supporter of New York's Museum of Modern Art," while the New York Times touted that he "courted art collectors" and lent his extensive collection to art museums.

His "love of art," however, may not have been so pure. Reuters noted that "a Mark Rothko painting he bought in 1960 for less than $10,000 was auctioned for more than $72 million in May 2007." Seen in this way, his love seems to be more for the art of the deal.

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FORGOTTEN BY the eulogists touting David Rockefeller's love of art is the infamous destruction of Diego Rivera's mural, Man at the Crossroads, at the hands of David's brother Nelson.

Famously depicted in the 2002 movie Frida, Rivera was commissioned in 1934 by the family to paint a mural at the newly constructed Rockefeller Center. When Rivera added the visage of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin to the mural, he discovered the Rockefellers' love of art had found its limits. Nelson ordered the mural destroyed.

He justified its destruction by saying, "Unfortunately, what [Rivera] painted was different from the sketch." It was not the addition of Lenin alone that prompted the demolition of this lost masterpiece, Rockefeller continued. "The picture of Lenin was on the right-hand side, and on the left, a picture of [my] father drinking martinis with a harlot and various other things that were unflattering to the family and clearly inappropriate to have as the center of Rockefeller Center."

In a city of stark inequality, Diego Rivera's mural was too prescient, too true, to stand. But David Rockefeller's justification for the mural's destruction--that it was "clearly inappropriate"--tells only part of the story of the Rockefellers' contempt for some of the finest art of the century.

Like Rivera, there were other artists who helped build a culture of opposition to the Rockefellers. Folk-singing troubadour Woody Guthrie wrote the protest anthem to the massacre at Ludlow where mineworkers and their families were killed by private detectives and the Colorado National Guard.

David's father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., supplied guns to his private detective agency and the National Guard as they shot up and burned the Colorado miners' camp.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. was also the developer of Rockefeller Center. Pete Seeger and Sis Cunningham recall auditioning alongside Woody as members of the Almanac Singers for a job at the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center. After poking mild fun at the rich by singing lines like, "The Rainbow Room is mighty fine. You can spit from here to the Texas Line," management requested that they make it a real "hick act" by dressing in "country clothes."

The group refused, and on the way down in the elevator, they made up less innocuous lyrics. "At the Rainbow Room, the soup's on the boil. They're stirrin' the salad with that Standard Oil," Seeger remembers Woody singing.

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BEYOND HIS "love of art," David Rockefeller's role in the New York fiscal crisis may be the most talked-about aspect of his life in the flattering obituaries. The University of Chicago News noted that his "civic work included helping New York City through its financial crisis," while the New York Times claims, "He was instrumental in rallying the private sector to help resolve New York City's fiscal crisis in the mid-1970s."

Though the Times seemed to consider this enough coverage of Rockefeller's role in New York City's fiscal crisis, we have to pause here to consider exactly what he did to "help resolve" the fiscal crisis.

Historian Joshua Freeman writes in his book Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II that as chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1971, David Rockefeller formed the Financial Community Liason Group and used it:

as a vehicle for pressuring city leaders to adopt reforms that would reassure investors--especially themselves--of the city's solvency....[T]he financial community also pressed for a program of municipal austerity, including a freeze or cutback in the number of city workers, an increase in their productivity, reductions in capital spending, cutbacks in city services, and increased fees and taxes.

Rockefeller had learned his lessons well at the University of Chicago and from his father and grandfather. He saw the crisis as a growing risk to the bank he headed, rather than a grave risk to millions of New Yorkers. His plan for resolving the crisis returned Chase Manhattan to solvency while destroying the social safety net built up over generations in New York City.

Rockefeller would not only initiate the policies to end or erode the social-democratic programs in New York City, which provided health care through publicly funded hospitals and educational opportunities through free and low-cost college education, but he would be sure to see them through to the bitter end.

Chairing the Business/Labor Working Group on Jobs and Economic Revitalization in New York City in 1976, the group's recommendations were draconian, Freeman recounts, including "lower business and individual taxes, regulatory simplification, federalization of welfare, ending rent control, and reductions in the energy costs by loosening environmental standards."

Of course, this was not a "shared sacrifice"--the reductions in taxes on commercial banks benefitted Rockefeller and his banking buddies while depriving the city of much-needed tax revenue.

Freeman notes that Rockefeller's attacks on education were particularly harsh. The committee for "reforming" education was made up of presidents of New York's elite private universities as well as a representative from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, leaving out union members and public-school representatives.

Freeman writes that "in the fiscal crisis atmosphere, private interests attempted to grab public resources in the name of efficiency." CUNY was encouraged to "concentrate on education at the junior college level allowing the thirty-three private colleges and universities...to concentrate on full undergraduate- and graduate-level education," creating a clear two-tier system of education in New York City that remains today.

This is also a part of David Rockefeller's legacy, whether or not the New York Times chooses to recognize it.

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STILL, DAVID Rockefeller went further, determined to remake the very power structures of the city. In 1979, he founded the Partnership for New York City, affiliating it with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Merging into one organization in 2002, the newly named Partnership for New York City moved beyond the old mission of the Chamber with its narrow focus on "business interests."

"Under Rockefeller's vision," the partnership would now "allow business leaders to work more directly with government and other civic groups to address broader social and economic problems in a 'hands on' way," according to its website.

Rockefeller achieved the goal of having "business leaders work more directly with government...in a 'hands-on' way." So while Reuters characterized the Partnership for New York City as an organization "to help the city's poor," and the New York Times said the partnership "fostered innovation in public schools and the development of thousands of apartments for lower-income and middle-class families," in fact the partnership became a lever to gain real-estate tax breaks for developers.

In From Welfare State to Real Estate: Regime Change in New York City, 1974-Present, Kim Moody says that the partnership "issued a policy proposal calling for the abolition of the city's land use procedures, which gave local community boards, borough presidents, and the city council a say in development projects" in 1990. Moody notes that from 1990 to 1993, these policies resulted in an average of $144 million in tax reductions per year--a boon for developers and a drain on city resources.

But the partnership went further still. When Deputy Mayor Sally Hernandez-Pinero questioned these "incentives" for development, the head of the partnership wrote a New York Times op-ed suggesting she get the boot in place of "an experienced and distinguished business executive." Moody notes that she was readily replaced by "a long-time Chase, i.e., Rockefeller, veteran."

David Rockefeller moved beyond shaping policy behind the scenes to getting politicians in place to protect his and his friends' interests.

So while the New York Times writes that David Rockefeller "pulled the city out of the crisis," we should remember that what he did was lead the charge to privatize and deregulate a social-democratic city. By 1981, he was able to retire as the head of Chase Bank, having restored it "to full health." The health of Chase Bank meant immiseration for the majority living in Rockefeller's city.

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DAVID ROCKEFELLER was born into a family of billionaires and politicians, and all contributed to the individual he became. It should come as no surprise that during the 1980 transit workers' strike, Ed Koch led opposition to the strikers with David Rockefeller standing by his side.

Of course, the Rockefeller family was no stranger to opposing strikes. David would have learned early on not to shy away from such opposition. His father funded the violence to break the Colorado coal miners' strikes, while his brother Nelson oversaw the brutal repression and the killing of 39 people during the National Guard's assault on the Attica Prison uprising in 1971.

This is the face of the U.S. ruling class, seen in one family. Instead of covering the dark side of this history, the New York Times chose to highlight the "mystique" of the Rockefeller family name, quoting David saying, "I have never found it a hindrance"--as if we should find this insightful. The paper notes his "reserve" in stating the obvious, that "having financial resources...is a big advantage."

In the end, Rockefeller directed much of his money to philanthropic endeavors, giving "tens of millions of dollars" to places like Harvard and Rockefeller University. But his reserve and philanthropic giving are not likely to be in New Yorkers' minds as they struggle to find a publicly funded hospital or pay tuition or outrageous rents in a city gutted by the institutions built and operated by David Rockefeller.

First published at Jacobin.

Categories: Political Action

An Update on Verizon's AppFlash: Pre-Installed Spyware Is Still Spyware

Deep Links - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 20:23

This post is an UPDATE to a piece we originally published last week.

Verizon recently rolled out a new pilot project to pre-install on customers’ devices an app launcher/search tool that, we believe, is really just spyware. This software, called AppFlash, is preloaded on a new model of LG device—the LG K20 V—rather than in all of their Android line as we previously reported. The software allows Verizon and its partners to track the apps you have downloaded and then sell ads to you across the Internet based what those apps say about you, like which bank you use and whether you’ve downloaded a fertility app.

Verizon is touting “AppFlash” as a customer benefit. In reality, it is just the latest display of wireless carriers’ stunning willingness to compromise the security and privacy of their customers by preloading unwanted apps on users’ devices. To see how AppFlash is dangerous, just look at the Privacy Policy. It states that the app can be used to:

“collect information about your device and your use of the AppFlash services. This information includes your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them. We also access information about the list of apps you have on your device.”

Troubling as it may be to collect intimate details about what apps you have installed, the policy also illustrates Verizon’s intent to gather location and contact information:

“With your permission, AppFlash also collects information about your device’s precise location from your device operating system as well as contact information you store on your device.”

And what will Verizon use all of this information for? Why, targeted advertising on third-party websites across the Internet, of course:

“AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices.”

With the announcement of AppFlash, Verizon has made clear that it intends to start monetizing our private data as soon as possible, if not sooner. In other words, our prediction that mobile Internet providers would start pre-installing spyware on their customers’ phones has come true, even before Congress changed the rule to let ISPs like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast sell your personal data to advertisers. In our view, the FCC's privacy rules that Congress has voted to roll back would have prohibited Verizon from pre-installing the AppFlash spyware on its phones in this manner—and we can expect Congress' privacy rollback to embolden further privacy-invasive practices by ISPs.

Last week, Verizon sent us a statement about its roll out of AppFlash, asserting that “you have to opt-in to use the app.” While it’s true that the user is presented with a click-through license the first time they launch AppFlash, it’s entirely unclear from that screen what information is being collected or shared. Instead, those crucial details are buried within the fine print of a Terms of Service. That’s hardly a meaningful mechanism for obtaining informed opt-in consent.

What are the ramifications? For one thing, this is yet another entity that will be collecting sensitive information about your mobile activity on your Android phone. It’s bad enough that Google collects much of this information already and blocks privacy-enhancing tools from being distributed through the Play Store. Adding another company that automatically tracks its customers doesn’t help matters any.

But our bigger concern is the increased attack surface an app like AppFlash creates. It is likely that with Verizon rolling this app out on certain new phones, hackers will be probing it for vulnerabilities, to see if they can use it as a backdoor they can break into. We sincerely hope Verizon has invested significant resources in ensuring that AppFlash is secure, because if it’s not, the damage to users’ cybersecurity could be disastrous, especially if Verizon expands its “test” to additional devices.

Verizon should immediately abandon its plans to monitor its customers’ behaviors, and do what it’s paid to do: deliver quality Internet service without spying on users. And in no case should Verizon expand its test of this spyware to additional models of mobile devices.


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Categories: Political Action

Trump Signs Bill to Roll Back Privacy Rules into Law

Deep Links - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 19:41

A measure to roll back crucial privacy protections has crossed the finish line, and Internet users are worse off for it.

Despite massive backlash from the American people, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law a resolution that repeals the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules to protect consumers from privacy invasions by their Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable.

The rules—which codified and expanded on existing online privacy protections—were passed by the FCC in October of last year and set to go into effect later this year.  They would have kept ISPs from selling customers’ data and using new invasive ways to track and deliver targeted ads to customers. Additionally, the rules would have required those companies to protect customers’ data against hackers.

Tens of thousands of people called on lawmakers to protect those rules, but Republicans in Congress repealed them by narrowly passing a Congressional Review Act resolution.

That measure not only repeals the rules, it also prevents the FCC from writing similar rules in the future, throwing into question how much the FCC can do to police ISPs looking to trade off their customers’ privacy for higher profits. Because of the current legal landscape, the FTC can’t police ISPs either, leaving customers without a federal agency that can clearly protect them in this space.

We’ll continue pushing for these specific privacy protections where we can. We urge state lawmakers and technology providers to look for ways to shore up individual privacy until Congress is ready to listen to the consumers who don't want to trade away their basic privacy rights in order to access the Internet.

We’ve spoken up, and many lawmakers got the message that privacy is important to their constituents. Thanks to your actions, we’ve together laid the groundwork to keep fighting for privacy protections.


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Categories: Political Action

Here’s How to Protect Your Privacy From Your Internet Service Provider

Deep Links - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 18:54

We pay our monthly Internet bill to be able to access the Internet. We don’t pay it to give our Internet service provider (ISP) a chance to collect and sell our private data to make more money. This was apparently lost on congressional Republicans as they voted to strip their constituents of their privacy. Even though our elected representatives have failed us, there are technical measures we can take to protect our privacy from ISPs.

Bear in mind that these measures aren’t a replacement for the privacy rules that were repealed or would protect our privacy completely, but they will certainly help.

Pick an ISP that respects your privacy

It goes without saying: if privacy is a concern of yours, vote with your wallet and pick an ISP that respects your privacy. Here is a list of them.

Given the dismal state of ISP competition in the US, you may not have this luxury, so read on for other steps you can take.

Opt-out of supercookies and other ISP tracking

In 2014, Verizon was caught injecting cookie-like trackers into their users’ traffic, allowing websites and third-party ad networks to build profiles without users’ consent. Following criticism from US senators and FCC action, Verizon stopped auto-enrolling users and instead made it opt-in. Users now have a choice of whether to participate in this privacy-intrusive service.

You should check your account settings to see if your ISP allows you to opt-out of any tracking. It is generally found under the privacy, marketing, or ads settings. Your ISP doesn’t have to provide this opt-out, especially in light of the repeals of the privacy rules, but it can never hurt to check.

HTTPS Everywhere

EFF makes this browser extension so that users connect to a service securely using encryption. If a website or service offers a secure connection, then the ISP is generally not able to see what exactly you’re doing on the service. However, the ISP is still able to see that you’re connecting to a certain website. For example, if you were to visit https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere, your ISP wouldn’t be able to tell that you’re on the HTTPS Everywhere page, but would still be able to see that you’re connecting to EFF’s website at https://www.eff.org

While there are limitations of HTTPS Everywhere when it comes to your privacy, with the ISP being able to see what you’re connecting to, it’s still a valuable tool.

If you use a site that doesn't have HTTPS by default, email them and ask them to join the movement to encrypt the web.

VPNs

In the wake of the privacy rules repeal, the advice to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your privacy has dominated the conversation. However, while VPNs can be useful, they carry their own unique privacy risk. When using a VPN, you’re making your Internet traffic pass through the VPN provider’s servers before reaching your destination on the Internet. Your ISP will see that you’re connecting to a VPN provider, but won’t be able to see what you’re ultimately connecting to. This is important to understand because you’re exposing your entire Internet activity to the VPN provider and shifting your trust from the ISP to the VPN.

In other words, you should be damn sure you trust your VPN provider to not do the shady things that you don’t want your ISP to do.

VPNs can see, modify, and log your Internet traffic. Many VPN providers make promises to not log your traffic and to take other privacy protective measures, but it can be hard to verify this independently since these services are built on closed platforms. For example, a recent study found that up to 38% of VPN apps available for Android contained some form of malware or spyware.

Below, we detail some factors that should be considered when selecting a VPN provider. Keep in mind that these are considerations for someone who is interested in preventing their ISP from snooping on their Internet traffic, and not meant for someone who is interested in protecting their information from the government—a whistleblower, for instance. As with all things security and privacy-related, it’s important to consider your threat model.

  • Is your VPN service dirt-cheap or free? Does the service cost $20 for a lifetime service? There’s probably a reason for that and your browsing history may be the actual product that the company is selling to others.

  • How long has your VPN provider been around? If it is relatively new and without a reliable history, you’d have to trust the provider a great deal in order to use such a service.

  • Does the VPN provider log your traffic? If yes, what kind of information is logged? You should look for one that explicitly promises to not log your Internet traffic and how active the VPN provider is in advocating for user privacy.

  • Does the VPN provider use encryption in providing the service? It’s generally recommended to use services that support a well-vetted open source protocol like OpenVPN or IPSec. Utilizing these protocols ensures best security available.  

  • If your VPN provider uses encryption, but has a single shared password for all of the users, it’s not sufficient encryption.

  • Do you need to use the VPN provider’s proprietary client to use the service? You should avoid these and look for services that you can use with an open source client. There are many clients that support the above-mentioned OpenVPN or IPSec protocols.

  • Would using the VPN service still leak your DNS queries to your ISP?

  • Does the VPN support IPv6? As the Internet transitions from IPv4 to the IPv6 protocol, some VPN providers may not support it. Consequently, if your digital device is trying to reach a destination that has an IPv6 address using a VPN connection that only supports IPv4, the old protocol, it may attempt to do so outside of the VPN connection. This can enable the ISP to see what you’re connecting to since the traffic would be outside of the encrypted VPN traffic.

Now that you know what to look for in a VPN provider, you can use these two guides as your starting point for research. Though keep in mind that a lot of the information in the guides is derived from or given by the provider, so again, it requires us to trust their assertions.

Tor

If you are trying to protect your privacy from your Internet company, Tor Browser perhaps offers the most robust protection. Your ISP will only see that you are connecting to the Tor network, and not your ultimate destination, similar to VPNs.

Keep in mind that with Tor, exit node operators can spy on your ultimate destination in the same way a VPN can, but Tor does attempt to hide your real IP address, which can improve anonymity relative to a VPN.

Users should be aware that some websites may not work in the Tor browser because of the protections built in. Additionally, maintaining privacy on Tor does require users to alter their browsing habits a little. See this for more information.

It’s a shame that our elected representatives decided to prioritize corporate interests over our privacy rights. We shouldn’t have to take extraordinary steps to limit how our personal information can be used, but that is clearly something that we are all forced to do now. EFF will continue to advocate for Internet users’ privacy and will work to fix this in the future.


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Categories: Political Action

The Bill of Rights at the Border: Fourth Amendment Limits on Searching Your Data and Devices

Deep Links - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 14:52

More than 325,000 people enter the United States via airports every day, with hundreds of thousands more crossing by land at the borders. Not only is that a lot of people, it’s also a lot of computers, smartphones, and tablets riding along in our pockets, bags, and trunks.  Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment protections we enjoy inside the U.S. for our devices aren’t always as strong when we’re crossing borders—and the Department of Homeland Security takes advantage of it. On the other hand, the border is not a Constitution-free zone. What are the limits to how and how much customs and immigrations officials can access our data?

To help answer those questions, we’re offering the second in our series of posts on the Constitution at the border, focusing this time on the Fourth Amendment. For Part 1 on the First Amendment, click here.

The Default Privacy Rule

The Fourth Amendment forbids “unreasonable” searches and seizures by the government. In most circumstances, the Fourth Amendment requires that government agents obtain a warrant from a judge by presenting preliminary evidence establishing “probable cause” to believe that the thing to be searched or seized likely contains evidence of illegal activity before the officer is authorized to search.

The Border Search Exception

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has sanctioned a “border search exception” to the probable cause warrant requirement on the theory that the government has an interest in protecting the “integrity of the border” by enforcing the immigration and customs laws. As a result, “routine” searches at the border do not require a warrant or any individualized suspicion that the thing to be searched contains evidence of illegal activity.

The Exception to the Exception: “Non-Routine” Searches

But the border search exception is not without limits. As noted, this exception only applies to “routine” searches, such as those of luggage or bags presented at the border.  “Non-routine” searches – such as searches that are “highly intrusive” and impact the “dignity and privacy interests” of individuals, or are carried out in a “particularly offensive manner” – must meet a higher standard: individualized “reasonable suspicion.” In a nutshell, that means border agents must have specific and articulable facts suggesting that a particular person may be involved in criminal activity.

For example, the Supreme Court held that disassembling a gas tank is “routine” and so a warrantless and suspicionless search is permitted. However, border agents cannot detain a traveler until they have defecated to see if they are smuggling drugs in their digestive tract unless the agents have a “reasonable suspicion” that the traveler is a drug mule.

Border Searches of Digital Devices

How does this general framework apply to digital devices and data at the border? Border agents argue that the border search exception applies to digital searches.  We think they are wrong.  Given that digital devices like smartphones and laptops contain highly personal information and provide access to even more private information stored in the cloud, the border search exception should not apply.

As Chief Justice Roberts recognized in a 2014 case, Riley v. California:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life.

Snooping into such privacies is extraordinarily intrusive, not “routine.” Thus, when the government asserted the so-called “incident to arrest” exception to justify searching a cell phone without a warrant during or immediately after an arrest, the Supreme Court called foul.

Why is the Riley decision important at the border? For one thing, the “incident to arrest” exception that the government tried to invoke is directly comparable to the border search exception, because both are considered “categorical” exemptions. Given that the intrusion is identical in both instances, the same privacy protections should apply.

Moreover, with the ubiquity of cloud computing, a digital device serves as a portal to highly sensitive data, where the privacy interests are even more significant. Following Riley, we believe that any border search of a digital device or data in the cloud is unlawful unless border agents first obtain a warrant by showing, to a judge, in advance, that they have probable cause to believe the device (or cloud account) likely contains evidence of illegal activity.

However, lower courts haven’t quite caught up with Riley.  For example, the Ninth Circuit held that border agents only need reasonable suspicion of illegal activity before they could conduct a non-routine forensic search of a traveler’s laptop, aided by sophisticated software. Even worse, the Ninth Circuit also held that a manual search of a digital device is “routine” and so a warrantless and suspicionless search is still “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment. Some courts have been even less protective. Last year a court in the Eastern District of Michigan upheld a computer-aided border search of a traveler’s electronic devices that lasted several hours without reasonable suspicion.

EFF is working hard to persuade courts (and border agents) to adopt the limits set forth in the Riley decision for border searches of cellphones and other digital devices. In the meantime, what should you do to protect your digital privacy?

Much turns on your individual circumstances and personal risk assessment. The consequences for non-compliance with a command from a CBP agent to unlock a device will be different, for example, for a U.S. citizen versus a non-citizen. If you are a U.S. citizen, agents must let you enter the country eventually; they cannot detain you indefinitely. If you are a lawful permanent resident, agents might raise complicated questions about your continued status as a resident. If you are a foreign visitor, agents may deny you entry entirely.

We recommend that everyone conduct their own threat model to determine what course of action to take at the border. Our in depth Border Search Whitepaper offers you a spectrum of tools and practices that you may choose to use to protect your personal data from government intrusion. For a more general outline of potential practices, see our pocket guides to Knowing Your Rights and Protecting Your Data at the Border.

We’re also collecting stories of border search abuses at: borders@eff.org

And join EFF in calling for stronger Constitutional protection for your digital information by contacting Congress on this issue today.

Related Cases: United States v. Saboonchi
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Categories: Political Action

I've Got A Song! A Living History of the McCarthy Era

American Friends Service Committee - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 14:29
Saturday, April 29, 2017 - 7:00pm Nancy Hoods family

Making music together in hard times.

Photo: AFSC/N Hood
Categories: Political Action

Providence Community Safety Act Public Hearing

American Friends Service Committee - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 14:12
Monday, April 10, 2017 - 5:30pm Pass the Community Safety Act

Lots of support around Providence for the Community Safety Act, a city ordinance increasing police accountablity and holding police to community standards.

Photo: AFSC/M Yager
Categories: Political Action

MoveOn statement on Dems clearing 41-vote threshold needed to stop Gorsuch nomination

Move On - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 13:43

Statement from Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action:

“Resistance activists nationwide are cheering for the vast majority of Senate Democrats who have united to deny Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, the 60 votes required for confirmation.

“Especially as Donald Trump and his administration are under criminal investigation for potentially having colluded with Russia to rig the presidential election, which has cast doubt on the very legitimacy of this administration, now is not the time for the Senate to give Trump a Supreme Court justice who could serve for 40 years or more. No Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed while investigations into Trump-Russia collusion continue. And the record of this particular nominee, Neil Gorsuch, indicates that he has an extreme-right agenda and would shift the balance of power on the court in ways that harm women, workers, and other Americans seeking a fair hearing and equal justice under the law.

“Republicans must not change long-standing Senate rules to force this nominee through. Instead of changing the rules, Republicans should change their nominee, and propose a consensus nominee like Merrick Garland.

“If Republicans go nuclear to confirm Gorsuch, that will be their fault and they will bear responsibility. Democrats are absolutely right to stand on principle and do all they can to protect the Supreme Court from Trump’s extremist and ideological takeover.”

 

Categories: Political Action

One Million Badgers

Deep Links - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 12:17

This week—for the first time ever—Privacy Badger has surpassed one million users. Privacy Badger is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera that automatically blocks hidden third-party trackers that would otherwise follow you around the web and spy on your browsing habits.

Third-party tracking—that is, when advertisers and websites track your browsing activity across the web without your knowledge, control, or consent—is an alarmingly widespread practice in online advertising. Privacy Badger spots and then blocks third-party domains that seem to be tracking your browsing habits (e.g. by setting cookies that could be used for tracking, or by fingerprinting your browser). If the same third-party domain appears to be tracking you on three or more different websites, Privacy Badger will conclude that the third party domain is a tracker and block future connections to it.

Privacy Badger always tells how many third-party domains it has detected and whether or not they seem to be trackers. Further, users have control over how Privacy Badger treats these domains, with options to block a domain entirely, block just cookies, or allow a domain.

Ending non-consensual browser tracking

With this milestone, the Privacy Badger team remains as committed as ever to end non-consensual browser tracking and promote responsible advertising.  Although Privacy Badger blocks many ads in practice, it is more a privacy tool than a strict ad blocker. Privacy Badger encourages advertisers to treat users respectfully and anonymously rather than follow the industry status quo of online tracking. It does this by unblocking content from domains that respect our Do Not Track policy, which states that the participating site will not retain any information about users who have expressed that they do not want to be tracked.

Do Not Track and Privacy Badger are here to help you block stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of your browsing history. Download Privacy Badger now to take a stand against tracking and join the movement to build a more privacy-friendly web.


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Categories: Political Action

Rightcopyright.eu: Making copyright work for education

Creative Commons - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 09:58

 

Last week COMMUNIA launched the rightcopyright.eu campaign in order to support a better copyright for education. Let’s raise our voices and spread the word about this petition so we can influence European legislators in creating a better copyright for education.

SIGN THE PETITION

Why we need your help

The European Commission has presented a new European copyright law (Draft Directive) to the European Parliament that deeply impacts education in a disappointing and non-facilitative manner. Educators have embraced modern possibilities, and so should copyright. Therefore, COMMUNIA has developed a campaign website to collect signatures of educators throughout Europe to let the European Parliamentarians know we need a better copyright for education.

The European parliament will vote on the proposal later this year and can change, accept or reject it. COMMUNIA will present the outcomes of the petition in the European Parliament, clearly showing them the voice of citizens eager for a good-quality education, and a copyright that matches.

Copyright impacts education – it determines the extent to which a teacher may use, share or remix any material made by someone else. In some cases, there is a special exception to copyright for education, but teachers are often forced to do things that are not allowed. All European countries have implemented the current EU laws on copyright in a different way, which makes it very difficult for teachers to know what they can and cannot share internationally.

What you can do

Please visit the campaign website rightcopyright.eu and sign the petition for a better copyright for education. Please share the campaign with your colleagues, friends and family via mail, social media or face to face as well. You can find sample tweets, posts and images on the campaign website.

If you would like to know more about the campaign, or have questions, please contact Lisette Kalshoven at lk@kl.nl.

The post Rightcopyright.eu: Making copyright work for education appeared first on Creative Commons.

Categories: Political Action

The ISO and the soul of international socialism

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

Forty years ago this month, the first issue of Socialist Worker appeared in the U.S., a few weeks after the founding of its publisher, the International Socialist Organization (ISO), on March 12, 1977. SW will feature an extended series on the history of the ISO over the coming months. For this installment, Alan Maass and Todd Chretien trace the ISO's principles back to their roots in the Marxist tradition to provide a backdrop to the group's founding.

Clockwise from top left: Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Russian 1917, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and the ISO today

FORTY YEARS ago, on March 12, 1977, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) was founded at a meeting held in Detroit.

The first members of the ISO were shaped by the revolutionary times they had been living through.

Less than a decade had passed since 1968--the high point of a whole radical era. The year itself is still synonymous with revolution, having witnessed the French student rebellion and general strike, the uprising in Czechoslovakia, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, and the tumultuous antiwar protests at the Democratic convention in Chicago, among other events.

In the course of these and other struggles, a new generation had rediscovered the emancipatory vision of socialism and the Marxist tradition in large numbers, though there were different and conflicting ideas about what these meant.

The commitment of this "New Left" was hardened by revolutionary struggles in 1968 and after--some of which put the question of socialism on the agenda: in Chile, with the election of a socialist government on the back of mass workers' struggles; in Portugal, where a dictator was overthrown in a revolutionary upsurge; in Iran a few years later, when mass strikes brought down the U.S.-backed Shah.

These world-shaking events were fresh in the minds of those who founded the ISO. But by 1977, the struggles of the working class and the social movements, at least in the U.S., were falling back from their heights.

Though it wasn't necessarily clear that this wasn't just a lull before the next upsurge, the radical ferment that had shaken the union movement in the U.S. was being pummeled by an aggressive employers' offensive, and the hard-won gains of the civil rights, Black Power, women's and other movements were under attack.

Nevertheless, the first meeting of the ISO launched an organization dedicated to achieving socialism, which is only possible through the kind of mass mobilization of the working-class majority glimpsed in the biggest struggles of the preceding years.

Of course, the ISO was far from the only organization to look to the lessons of the revolutionary socialist tradition. Indeed, there were many more such organizations then compared to today.

Then as now, the ISO attempted to distinguish its vision of socialism by starting from the bedrock definition put forward by Karl Marx when he wrote the rules for an international alliance of revolutionary organizations of his own day: "[T]he emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves."

Among the different ways of understanding and applying socialism and Marxism, the ISO stands in a tradition summarized by American socialist Hal Draper as "socialism from below." Contrasting this conception to socialists who looked to countries where a minority ruled in the name of socialism, or others who believed socialism could be elected into power or achieved little by little within capitalism, Draper wrote:

The heart of Socialism-from-Below is its view that socialism can be realized only through the self-emancipation of activized masses in motion, reaching out for freedom with their own hands, mobilized "from below" in a struggle to take charge of their own destiny, as actors (not merely subjects) on the stage of history.

Draper's phrase "socialism from below" was meant to distill not only the contributions of the towering figures of the tradition, like Marx himself, but also the experiences of the working-class movement over decades and centuries.

This article will try to trace some of those contributions and experiences to give an overview--and far from a comprehensive one--of where the ISO comes from.

The ISO began as a very small organization, and while it has grown, it is still small compared to its aims. If we have had success, it is because we stand on the shoulders of many giants at once.

But the same has been true throughout the socialist movement. Marx and the other revolutionaries we look to in history would be the first to say that their ideas and achievements were impossible without the many struggles of workers, students, intellectuals, and the poor and oppressed that inspired and shaped them--and without the dense web of radicals and revolutionaries connected to those struggles who tried to advance them.

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WHAT ARE the basic elements of the ISO's vision of "socialism from below"?

The first is a clear understanding of what the working class needs to emancipate itself from: capitalism.

There has never, in the history of the socialist movement, been any shortage of atrocities and horrors to galvanize our desire to change the world--war and violence, dictatorship and repression, poverty and low wages, racism and oppression. But Marx and those who followed him share an understanding that all these individual crimes are connected to, and driven by, the capitalist system.

Socialists struggle against all the many injustices of today's world, but we also trace each back to their source in a social structure that allows a minority ruling class to amass wealth and power, while the vast majority in society are excluded from both.

This understanding has been critical from the beginning of the Marxist tradition, with Marx's writing that showed how capitalism is based on a hidden-in-plain-sight theft--that the capitalists, because they own, are able to make profits by exploiting those who own nothing, and have nothing to sell but their ability to work.

Marx extended this analysis of the relationship between exploiter and exploited to show how it took on particular forms, also involving specific kinds of oppression. One of the most powerful sections of his masterwork Capital describes how the kidnapping of Africans to work as slaves in the Americas was the basis on which capitalism could rise to new heights.

This view of capitalism as the source of not only exploitation but a multitude of oppressions adds another dimension to the bedrock definition of socialism: The emancipation of the working classes has to be accomplished by the whole working class, united in struggle--because unless divisions among workers are challenged and overcome, socialism can never succeed.

This is why, in the ISO's view, socialists must be a "tribune of the people...able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression," in the words of the Russian revolutionary Lenin. For us, socialism must include the liberation of African Americans and other victims of racism, the emancipation of women, the liberation of LTBTQ people and all others subject to different forms of oppression--or it isn't socialism.

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EVEN IN his most technical writings describing the workings of capitalism and the social structure and institutions built upon it, another theme runs through Marx: that poverty and oppression produce resistance. He and his collaborator Frederick Engels spelled this out in the opening of the Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

Marx and Engels developed their particular vision of socialism in contrast to the prevailing ideas of other early socialists, such as the utopians, who saw their job as critiquing the existing system and coming up with plans for an alternative that would be accepted by universal acclaim because it was so much more rational.

Marx and Engels reacted against the paternalism of the utopian socialists. They had a different way of thinking about socialism: It wasn't about anticipating the new society or debating its shape in advance, but finding the new world in what existed in the old--and in particular, what existed in the struggles of the old.

"Self-emancipation" for them wasn't just a preference--what they would pick given a choice between different roads to socialism. For Marx and Engels, workers' power was at the same time the only possible path to socialism and its only real meaning.

This is why Marx and Engels were not only theoreticians and journalists, but activists and organizers. They were part of the democratic political struggles against the old order of kings and aristocrats that reigned in most of Europe at the time. They believed that victories for political democracy could advance the struggle for economic and social goals.

The ISO follows this same method: As socialists, we don't stand on the sidelines, but participate in all the struggles in society that we can, putting forward our analysis as a contribution to the fight in the here and now. But we also see these struggles as training grounds--both for the working class and for socialists among them--for the fight for socialism.

Marx and Engels summarized this organizational method in the Manifesto:

The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.

Because of their participation in and observation of practical political events and struggles, Marx and Engels came to the conclusion not only that socialism couldn't be dreamed into existence, but that a social force--with sufficient economic and political power to counter the rulers of society--was needed: the working class.

They recognized that, unlike other exploited classes, workers were forced by the conditions of work under capitalism to cooperate--which lays the basis for cooperation in resistance, and ultimately for political and social cooperation.

Of course, at almost all times under capitalism, this power of a united working class movement only exists as a potential. But it was essential to the socialism of Marx and Engels that the class struggle could stimulate this potential of the workers united to exercise their collective power.

Marxism's insistence on the centrality of the working class remains at the heart of the ISO's understanding of socialism. We have always resisted trends on the left, including among people who stand in the Marxist tradition, to identify another social force that could achieve socialism.

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IN THEIR own time, Marx and Engels started out as a minority among other socialists who believed a new society would be accomplished by individuals or small groups of dedicated revolutionaries acting on behalf of the majority--either by putting forward the example of a utopia or through some political conspiracy.

After Marx's death in 1883, another version of this "socialism from above" came to dominate the international movement, over the objections of Engels and others.

In particular, the Social Democratic Party in Germany, with the largest mass membership of any socialist party, was guided by a doctrine known as "reformism": The idea that socialism would become possible within the existing system as working class parties won greater political power through elections and achieved a succession of reforms that transformed capitalism.

Rosa Luxemburg was the central figure to challenge this revising of Marxism's revolutionary core. In Reform or Revolution and other writings, she championed the mass struggles of workers and insisted that these couldn't be sidelined by a focus on elections. She wrote:

People who pronounce themselves in favor of the method of legislative reform in place of, and in contradistinction to, the conquest of political power and social revolution do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society, they take a stand for surface modifications of the old society.

The echoes of Luxemburg's argument reverberate for the ISO to this day.

We don't support either of the two mainstream parties in the U.S. political system because both are dominated by capital--the Democrats included. But even if the Democrats were a reformist party, we don't believe that elections are they way to achieve socialism. Elections under the existing system are a means to advance socialist ideas and working-class demands, but they aren't the only means by a long shot.

In the international debates about the meaning of socialism and the application of Marxism, one of Luxemburg's allies on the "revolution" side was the Russian socialist Lenin.

He added to her case against reducing socialism to winning political power under the existing system. Drawing on Marx's writings about the Paris Commune, Lenin showed in State and Revolution how the elected bodies of government had only partial power over the capitalist state--and practically no powers in a capitalist economy ruled by private ownership.

However, Lenin's best-known contribution to the Marxist tradition--both theoretical and practical--was on the question of how socialists should organize.

Rather than the prevailing view that socialist parties should aspire to encompass the whole working class, Lenin sought to build organization that drew together the most advanced workers--those more convinced, either intellectually or through their own experience, of revolutionary politics.

Such a "vanguard party" would be capable of the kind of internal democracy needed to give all members a real say in the direction of the organization--and of the centralism needed for a socialist organization to be effective in the class struggle.

Lenin's vindication was the decisive role of his party in Russia during the revolution of 1917. The Bolsheviks were key to the opening act of the revolution that toppled the hated Tsar, but even more so to final act: the establishment of a workers' state, based on the democratic rule of the majority. The Bolsheviks succeeded in this because they rose to the challenge of winning influence and support among the mass of rebelling workers and soldiers.

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NONE OF these basic components of international socialism as the ISO understands it can be separated from the struggles of workers and the oppressed throughout history.

The practical experience of participation in struggle was indispensible for Marx and all the Marxists after him in developing their political and theoretical generalizations. And those generalizations in turn guided socialists in their activities and initiatives in real-world events.

The struggles themselves--especially revolutions, where class struggle reaches its highest peak and sometimes breaks through by toppling the old order--are a vindication of that bedrock definition of socialism: the self-emancipation of the working class.

Thus, the 1917 Russian Revolution is inspirational not only for the many revolutionary proclamations and policies put in place in the time that it survived, but in the way that the whole of Russian society came alive, mobilized to play a part in the making of a new world in ways that are impossible to imagine under capitalism.

There have been other revolutions and revolutionary upsurges since 1917, though none that succeeded in establishing workers' rule for more than a very short time. But all of them--the wave of revolutions in Germany from 1918 to 1923, Spain's upsurges of the 1930s, the Hungarian revolution in 1956, Portugal in 1974, Iran and Poland half a decade later--share the common features of mass participation and the flowering of democracy.

This is at the core of socialism for the ISO. Leon Trotsky elaborated on the concrete meaning of "self-emancipation" in his History of the Russian Revolution:

The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events...The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.

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TRAGICALLY, THE Russian Revolution did not survive for many years.

The first lasting experiment in workers' power was besieged by the military forces of foreign governments, which supported the counterrevolutionary remnants of the Tsar's regime. Russia was decimated by civil war and famine. The working class that made the revolution was reduced to a fraction of its former size and power. A workers' state couldn't survive in Russia with the working class physically destroyed.

The Russian revolutionaries always understood that maintaining socialism in a single country would be impossible if the revolution didn't spread. Though the workers of Hungary, Germany and Finland came tantalizingly close to making their own revolutions, Russia ultimately remained alone, setting the stage for counterrevolution.

But the form of this counterrevolution took wasn't the triumph of the Tsarist reaction or conquest by a foreign army. The workers' state survived the civil war militarily. But a section of the state bureaucracy, coalescing around Joseph Stalin in the years after Lenin's death, seized the powers of a minority ruling class and began wielding them--while all the while claiming to be socialist.

One decade after the revolution, the Stalinist rulers of Russia had begun to reverse all the gains of the 1917 revolution, while imposing iron control--politically, economically and socially--over society, all the while using the language of socialism and Marxism.

This specific form of the defeat of workers' power in Russia enormously complicated the question of what is socialism for future generations.

Even as Russia's rulers acted more and more as the polar opposites of socialists, the vast majority of revolutionaries around the world remained committed to the belief that Russia was a socialist society--understandably enough, given the prestige of the first successful workers' revolution, which, of course, the Stalinists used to their advantage.

Leon Trotsky led an opposition within Russia to maintain the socialist and internationalist principles of the 1917 revolution, but he and his supporters couldn't overcome the growing strength of the Stalinists.

Against the backdrop of tyranny and oppression restored in Russia, the victory of fascism elsewhere in Europe and the drive to another horrific world war, adherents to the Marxism of Marx, Luxemburg and Lenin were driven to the smallest of margins.

That a tradition committed to working-class self-emancipation survived at all was the result of the heroic efforts of Trotsky and his small group of followers. Though he was one of the two best-known leaders of the 1917 revolution, Trotsky nevertheless believed that his most important contribution came during these dark days in keeping alive genuine Marxist ideas and organization.

If you believe that Russia under Stalin--or any of the other countries later modeled on the USSR in one way or another--was a socialist society, than there is a greater tendency to be pulled toward a conception of "socialism from above," with implications that are not only theoretical, but practical in the struggles of today.

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THIS QUESTION of what is socialism dominated further differences that crystallized within Trotskyism, despite the common opposition to Stalinism.

After the horrors of the Second World War--and the murder of Trotsky by a Stalinist agent in 1940--Stalin's Russia was able to establish an empire of satellite regimes across a third of Europe.

Many Trotskyists stayed loyal to Trotsky's conception that Russia, though ruled by Stalin's counterrevolution, still retained elements of a workers' state, like nationalized property, and so it was to be defended against the private capitalist empires of the West. But what to make of these new "workers' states" that were the mirror image of Russia in every way, but which had been established by military conquest, not the self-emancipation of the working class?

Others among the Trotskyists sought to preserve the centrality of Marx's definition. There were different understandings of exactly what did exist in the USSR, but these revolutionaries began to conclude that neither Russia nor the regimes modeled on it could be considered workers' states in the sense used by Trotsky.

Among a grouping of individuals and organizations internationally, a common slogan emerged: Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism. The current within Trotskyism that took the name International Socialism is the immediate source of the ISO's political and organizational inheritance.

There were a number of figures and groups associated with this tradition. In the U.S., Max Schachtman, a founder of Trotskyism in America in the 1920s, and Hal Draper were leaders in a succession of organizations and formations. In Britain, Tony Cliff, an exiled Jewish revolutionary from Palestine, was at the center of founding the International Socialists, later re-established as the Socialist Workers Party-UK.

These groups and groupings distinguished themselves in their analysis of Russia and their understanding of Marxism. But they were also wholly committed to the struggles of the day, their practical activity guided by a vision of "socialism from below."

In the U.S., socialists of the IS tradition played an unheralded role building support in the North for the civil rights movement. During the 1960s, the Independent Socialist Club was formed literally in the midst of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement by leaders of that struggle, which served as a launching pad for the anti-Vietnam War movement.

The struggles of the 1960s and early 1970s reignited mass interest in revolutionary politics, far beyond anything contained to the IS tradition. Many more revolutionary organizations were revived or formed, and thrived through their commitment to fighting against war and for liberation.

The now-renamed International Socialists in the U.S. was not the largest of these, but it was part of the major struggles of the era, particularly around labor. With hundreds of members by the mid-1970s, its contribution to the renaissance of Marxist theory and organization is distinctive. In Britain, the IS and later SWP-UK grew even larger on the strength of a radicalization that was more directly driven by working class struggle than in the U.S.

The ISO was founded in 1977 by members of the IS who had been expelled after a debate largely over the analysis of the political situation and of what tasks socialists should set for themselves. This is frequently the most difficult and contentious of questions for socialists to answer: How to apply socialist and Marxist analysis to figure out what is to be done next.

But the dedication to the history and tradition of socialism from below prevailed more widely then, as it does today.

Forty years later, we define ourselves by that tradition, and our tasks remain the same: To use every opportunity to build struggles and organization in order to advance the working class movement in the here and now and to prepare for the future when we can fight for a socialist society.

We hope you'll join us in that project--there's a world to win.

Categories: Political Action

Why is this cop still in uniform?

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

Todd Chretien recounts how one California police officer's thirst for brutality has crashed into the life of yet another innocent member of the public.

Killer cop Miguel Masso photographed by activists in downtown Oakland (Occupy Oakland)

ON JANUARY 28, 2017, Hollister Police Department officer Miguel Masso stopped Earl Malanado as he was driving home from a friend's house in this central California town. Masso claimed that Malanado's license plates didn't match his car's description, although he subsequently retracted the accusation.

Masso then issued Malanado citations for an out-of-date registration and for not having a paper copy of his proof of insurance in the car. When Malanado protested against the false reason given for the initial stop and stated that he had a First Amendment right to speak up for himself, Masso became agitated and announced that he was placing Malanado under arrest--supposedly for "interfering with a police investigation." He ordered Malanado to exit the vehicle.

In an interview with Socialist Worker, Malanado describes what happens next.

I didn't even get a chance to get out of my car and stand up. Masso grabbed my right hand in a submission hold, you know, like cops do, and knocked my phone, which was still recording, out of my hand. He really sent it flying. His attack was immediate and vicious, like a Ninja. I went to the ground like a rag doll.

Malanado didn't know yet, but he wasn't Masso's first victim.

On May 6, 2012, Masso shot and killed 18-year-old African American high school student Alan Blueford in East Oakland after racially profiling him and two friends. Masso later claimed that he had Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome from his time in Iraq and had "gone into autopilot" as he pursued Blueford.

Masso initially claimed that Blueford had shot him, but it was quickly learned that Masso shot himself in the foot in addition to fatally shooting Blueford.

Masso had a history even before the Blueford murder.

In 2007, Rafael Santiago filed a lawsuit against Masso and three other New York City Police officers for beating and repeatedly using a Taser on him while in custody. After the case was settled, Masso resigned from the NYPD and took a job as an officer in Oakland.

After Masso killed their son, Alan Blueford's parents Jeralynn and Adam spearheaded a high-profile activist movement organized under the name JAB--Justice for Alan Blueford. For months, community members and anti-police brutality activists occupied City Council meetings and brought business as usual to a halt.

The case made headlines in Oakland for more than two years. Although the Alameda County district attorney refused to press charges against Masso, the city of Oakland subsequently paid a settlement in a civil lawsuit filed by the Blueford family.

As was the case in New York, Masso resigned under pressure--only to be hired by a new department in August 2014, this time in Hollister, just 80 miles south of Oakland.

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IF THE Hollister Police Department was aware of Masso's history of abuse, Malanado was not. Masso dragged the 50-year-old man from his car on January 28, and things quickly escalated out of control, Malanado:

Masso pinned my hands behind my back and threw me to the ground. While I was falling, he pulled my jacket up over my head so it was covering my face. I have COPD, which means I have trouble breathing. So he had my hands pinned behind me, with his left knee on the back of my kneesm and his right knee on my right arm, pushing my face into the ground, with my jacket covering my mouth and nose.

I kept yelling, "I can't breathe, my medication is in my jacket. I can't breathe." I started to panic and just kept screaming, "I can't breathe."

Luckily for Malanado, another Hollister officer arrived on the scene and took him into custody. "All I could think was that I wanted to get into the sheriff's custody and away from Masso," said Malanado. "When the second cop put me in his patrol car I told him I thought Masso was crazy."

Malanado was then taken to jail and processed by the sheriff's department. At no point along the way was he read his Miranda rights, and neither the Hollister Police nor the sheriff's departments took Malanado to the hospital for medical treatment.

Upon being released into his family's custody after midnight, Malanado returned home briefly and then went to the hospital. While at the hospital, a Hollister police officer entered Malanado's room and questioned him about the encounter with Masso.

"He just kept smirking and implying that everything was my fault," explained Malanado. Although no longer under arrest, the officer refused to leave Malanado alone. Hospital medical and security personnel eventually had to insist the officer exit the room.

Nearly two months later, Malanado is still feeling the effects of the assault.

My injuries are mostly bruises, on my knees and especially my right elbow. There were cuts on my wrist, and I had an x-ray of my elbow to see if there was a fracture. Now I have pains in my knee. I have a lot of trouble sleeping too. Not so much because of the physical pain, but because of the mental anguish. It's all I can think about so I can't sleep. I keep wondering, "What did I do? Why me? Why do I deserve this?"

Soon after Malanado's ordeal, a family member Googled Masso's name and learned about the Blueford case. Malanado quickly reached out to Alan Blueford's parents to find out what had happened in Oakland. He became convinced that he had to speak out:

I thought, "That's strike three." Of course, what he did to Alan was much worse than what he did to me, but somebody has to put a stop to this. I know some people are scared or don't have the means to speak out. But it's just not right.

I'm not out to ruin the guy's life, but he can't be in a position to have power over people. There's clearly a pattern here. I don't believe he's in police work to try to help people.

Categories: Political Action

Trump's attack on schoolkids

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

Nikki Williams explains why after-school programs not only need to be protect from the Trump administration's budget-cutters, but they really need to be greatly expanded.

THE TRUMP administration wants to eliminate federal funding for after-school programs--and when White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney held a press conference to defend these cruel cuts, he focused on the snack that's provided as part of these programs.

According to Mulvaney, there's no proof that feeding children helps them perform better in school. He told reporters on March 16:

Let's talk about after-school programs generally, they're supposed to be educational programs, right? I mean, that's what they're supposed to do; they're supposed to help kids who don't get fed at home get fed so they do better in school. Guess what? There's no demonstrable evidence they're actually doing that...

Mulvaney's claims aren't just cruel, but demonstrably false.

I've worked in after-school programs in both rural and inner-city areas, and I've seen firsthand how food insecurity forces children into survival mode, changing their behavior and shutting down their ability to concentrate on homework.

As summer approaches, these children become anxious and frightened at a time when they should be excited to have more sunshine and free time. Without the safety net of school, kids who aren't enrolled in a summer program don't know when they will eat again, and they begin to act out. People can't learn when they're in survival mode and terrified that a basic need will not be met.

Since firsthand experience probably wouldn't be sufficient for Mulvaney, there are also numerous studies that show the devastating impact of food insecurities on children's behavior, development and their ability to learn.

The federally funded after-school program initiative called 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) has helped to fill in nutritional gaps for children after school and during winter, spring and summer breaks since the mid-1990s.

In addition to providing a snack or supper after school and during breaks, food banks in some states also use these programs as a way to distribute food to families for consumption over the weekends. Families pick up a grocery bag full of food when they pick up their children on Friday evenings.

When a government official in the richest country in the world justifies the decision to deny a basic human need to children by asserting that there's no proof that feeding them will make them do better in school or be better workers, this is an indication that we live in a very sick system.

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THE FEDERAL funding for after-school programs is already insufficient in meeting the needs of people living in poverty. According to Afterschool Alliance, "more than 11 million students remain unsupervised after school. The parents of almost 20 million students would like their children to be in programs, but programs are unavailable to them, unaffordable or both."

Additionally, the food that Mulvaney wants to take away from the kids is often the same food used for free school lunches during the school day. That food is very low quality and comparable to prison food. According to a CNN report, as little as $2.74 per child is spent on their meals. Most of the food is processed and unhealthy.

The food schoolchildren are given is better than nothing, but nowhere near enough for growing minds and bodies, and it's unacceptable considering the overwhelming amount of wealth in this country. All children deserve nutritious, high-quality food.

In Mulvaney's criticism of after-school funding, he didn't mention the fact that, in addition to food, CCLC programs offer enriching programs to the 1.6 million children served nationwide.

Funding for the program is allocated to schools by each state, and in order to qualify for funding, the after-school program must serve a high level of low-income families and provide "students with activities that are targeted to their academic needs and aligned with the instruction they receive during the school day," according to the After School for America's Children Act.

They must provide a variety of enrichment programs that support learning and healthy choices. This translates into over a million children spending the hours after school participating in programs like homework help, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), art, drama, dance, nutrition and gardening.

Even with funding, CCLC programs depend upon community support and volunteers. Children build relationships with the staff and community volunteers, who teach them new skills, help them discover their talents and help them build social skills--all while ensuring that the kids are having fun.

These relationships are vital components to building the children's self-esteem and life skills.

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DESPITE MULVANEY'S claims, studies show that the programs and support offered in after-school programs do help children to perform better in school.

A U.S. Department of Education report cited by Time magazine "concluded that student participation in Community Learning Centers led to improvements in achievement and behavior." In addition to growth in areas like math and literacy, attendance increases in schools when children attend after-school programs.

After-school programs offer tremendous support to parents by keeping their children safe and engaged while they work during after-school hours. The school day typically ends around 3 p.m., and relatively few parents get off work that early.

The high cost of living and stagnant minimum wage have made it necessary for most two-parent households to have two working parents, and many single parents need to work two or more jobs. After paying for basic necessities, childcare is too expensive to be an option.

According to a 2011 report from the Afterschool Alliance, "nearly half of America's working families with a child younger than 13 have childcare expenses that consume 9 percent of their monthly earnings on average, and families with earnings below the federal poverty level spend an average of 23 percent of their monthly earnings on childcare."

CCLC is the only option for many families in impoverished areas. Trump's budget proposal threatens to leave parents with no choice but to leave have their children at home unsupervised and in some cases unfed. The CCLC program is an essential resource for working-class families.

A few years ago, I worked as an educational assistant at a small school in rural Oregon. I also worked at the Boys & Girls Club next door to the school and volunteered as a drama teacher for the CCLC program.

Within one year, the school lost its CCLC grant and the Boys & Girls Club went bankrupt. With no options for after school care, many families had to uproot their children and their families and move to different schools that did offer care.

Others had to change jobs or shifts. In some ways, those were the more fortunate families. Some of the kids went home to empty houses to care for themselves or to be in the care of siblings who were only slightly older.

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MULVANEY'S CALLOUS dismissal of the need for children to eat exposes the warped priorities of the system we live in. Workers are expected to work all day to produce profit for their bosses and at the same time feed and care for their families.

Under capitalism, the important task of raising children, who will become the generation of workers, is the responsibility of individual working-class families, not the bosses that will ultimately profit from their labor or even the system as a whole.

To add insult to injury, working-class families must pay for the childcare that they need while they're working. Though the insult is especially felt in low-income families where paid sick leave or personal time is almost non-existent, it's detrimental to all working-class families.

Now the Trump administration wants to chop away at the few federal programs that exist to assist working-class families with the difficult task of caring for their children.

Free childcare should be a right for all families. Any humane society would prioritize the health and welfare of its children, and would do everything possible to ensure that. Until that happens, programs like CCLC are necessary to provide places for kids to go after school where they will be inspired, safe, cared-for and fed.

Categories: Political Action

Omar Barghouti's message of hope

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

Investigators from the Israel Tax Authorities arrested Omar Barghouti on March 19 on suspicion of tax evasion. Speaking out for the first time since his arrest, Barghouti has written a letter to the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to secure Palestinian rights to express his appreciation for the steadfast defense offered by supporters. Omar's letter was first published at the website of the BDS National Committee.

Omar Barghouti (Kevin Van den Panhuyzen | BDS Campaign Brussels)

Dear friends and colleagues,

Finally, I was allowed to access my e-mail account after 12 days of being banned from doing so during the most intense phase of the ongoing interrogation I am subjected to by the Israeli authorities.

The BNC statement on this issue accurately sums up this latest chapter in the Israeli regime's war on the BDS movement.

Due to a gag order, I am not allowed to delve into any facts about the case. I am thus denied the ability to even refute the vicious lies published by Israel's regime against me. I am in no hurry to do so, though, as their main objective--attempting to tarnish my reputation and, by extension, hurting the BDS movement--has clearly failed.

Their campaign of repression has, to an extent, backfired. By preventing me from traveling to the U.S. to receive the Gandhi Peace Award, jointly with Ralph Nader, Israel's regime has inadvertently increased the publicity around this award.

Before anything else, I read the many moving messages of solidarity that many of you have sent, and this gave me even more strength and hope to resist the McCarthyite witch-hunt against me. I deeply appreciate your letters and the sincere sentiments of support that they convey. I am so grateful to everyone who wrote an article and every organization that issued a petition in this respect.

Nothing empowers human rights defenders facing political persecution like the warm feeling that there is a whole community of activists and people of conscience standing with them and carrying on the struggle no matter what.

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FOR MORE than a year now my colleagues in the BDS movement and I have been warning about the "tarnishing unit" established by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs as a key organ in fighting BDS. As I have personally written and argued many times, this devious unit's key function is summed up in "digging up dirt" against human rights defenders and networks associated with the BDS movement and if no dirt is found in fabricating it.

McCarthy would be proud of his loyal heirs in Israel's regime of oppression and repression.

Many of you have asked how best you can support me to face this latest persecution. My answer is, without hesitation...more BDS!

We need to expand, mainstream and build on our many inspiring BDS campaigns, academic, cultural and economic, as the most effective way to respond to the new McCarthyism designed by Israel's regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid and exported to states where its lobby groups enjoy massive influence.

Further growing our movement for freedom, justice and equality is the answer.

Highlighting and popularizing the recent, unprecedented verdict by a UN body that Israel is guilty of apartheid--the second most serious crime against humanity in international law--is the answer.

Countering their racism, hate, "black lists" and ugly colonial repression with our inclusiveness, categorical rejection of all forms of racism, and our boundless passion for freedom and justice is the answer.

Further strengthening our principled intersectional alliances with movements for indigenous, racial, economic, social, gender, climate and other forms of justice is our loudest response to their xenophobic, far-right, fascist-leaning agenda and their draconian laws.

As they desperately attempt to sow fear and despair, to chill our free speech, to tarnish our records, and to bully us into silence, we nourish our well-founded hope with generous doses of effective, strategic, morally-consistent campaigns for justice and equality and insist on our right to freely express ourselves and to defend our rights.

As humans, we need permission from no one to pursue our inherent rights. As human rights defenders, no degree of intimidation and bullying can deter us in our passionate, nonviolent resistance to injustice, inequality and colonial slavery.

Alone, we fail. Together, we prevail.

The latest savage, even irrational, attacks on our movement indicate, more than anything else, that we are indeed prevailing.

In gratitude and hope,
Omar

First published by the BDS National Committee.

Categories: Political Action

Standing up for the Vermont organizers

Socialist Worker - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 01:00

Chris Legere and Akunna Eneh report from Boston on a rally to support immigrant rights activists caught in the Trump administration's ICE net.

Lymarie Deida demands the release of her husband Alex Carrillo from ICE detention (Sarah Betancourt | Latino USA)

RESPONDING TO the Trump administration's blatant attempt to weaken the growing immigrant rights movement by using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target activists, some 200 people rallied in Boston to support three organizers detained in Vermont.

Protesters rallied outside a Boston Immigration Court on March 27 to demand the release of Enrique "Kike" Balcazar, Zully Palacios and Alex Carrillo, three members of Migrant Justice, an immigrant rights organization in Vermont that mobilized many members to Boston for the hearing.

The cold and rainy Monday morning did little to deter people from coming out to support these activists and also failed to dampen the spirit of the action. A group of musicians played music, and people danced and splashed in puddles while people marched in front of the court building chanting "Not one more!" and "Free Alex! Free Zully! Free Kike!"

A contingent from the ACLU was present, as well as members of the immigrant rights group Cosecha, who had signs advertising the upcoming "Day Without Immigrants" planned for May 1. Individual activists who had been following this campaign were also involved.

"This is a real struggle--we have to be more united than ever," said Margalis Trancoso, a veteran activist in the immigrant rights movement. "We have to resist in collective action." She also emphasized preparing for May 1 actions, adding, "I've been organizing May Day for 24 years. This is an opportunity to show how necessary we are" to the economy.

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BEFORE THE hearing, which was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., the crowd gathered under cover from the rain to listen to a few speakers. Will Lambek from Migrant Justice talked about how ICE is "trying to break the spirit of the community" by targeting well-known activists.

Alex Carrillo's wife Lymarie Deida, who was with him when he was detained, continued with that theme, saying, "That's why they were detained--for thinking their rights matter. And they do!" She also described how frightened she was when ICE took her husband away and how the campaign that has developed demanding his release has led her to be "reborn into a warrior."

A delegation of about 50 activists went inside the courthouse before the hearing started to pack the courtroom to show support for Kike, Zully and Alex. Outside, a banner with the names of 10,000 people who had signed a petition demanding the activists' release was displayed below the room that the hearing was taking place in.

The delegation inside reported that they could hear the chants of those still standing in the rain outside.

After the hearing, the judge set the bond for Balcazar and Palacios at $2,500 each. They have since been released and have returned home to Vermont. Carrillo, however, was denied bond because of a DUI charge, in spite of that charge having already been dismissed.

While activists are right to celebrate the release of Balcazar and Palacios, this is only a partial victory. Carillo's continued detainment is devastating for his wife and their 4-year-old daughter. In addition, Balcazar and Palacios still face deportation. The fight must continue, and the movement needs to build on the solidarity that has been crucial to the struggle so far.

Categories: Political Action

The Supreme Court and the Filibuster

Democratic Convention Watch - Sun, 04/02/2017 - 17:37

This week has the potential to be a significant week in Senate history.  Over the past two presidencies, there was a rise in the use of the filibuster to block executive branch and lower court nominees.  During the George W. Bush presidency, there were enough Democratic and Republican senators willing to work out a deal in which the Democratic senators agreed to vote for cloture on most nominations and the Republicans agreed not to invoke the “nuclear option” (exempting such nominations from the three-fifth’s rule for cloture by the vote of a majority of the Senate).  During the Barack Obama presidency, there were not enough Republican senators willing to make such a deal and the Democrats were forced to go with the nuclear option on such executive branch and lower court nominees.  However, the normal cloture rules were left in place for Supreme Court nominees.

As a starting point, here is the tentative schedule for the week.  First, on Monday, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Neal Gorsuch.  Right now, it appears likely that the committee will approve that nomination by a majority vote.  Assuming that the Committee sends its report on that nomination to the Senate on Monday, that would trigger Rule XXXI which provides that (except by unanimous consent which will not be given) the Senate may not vote on a nomination on the same day that the nomination is reported to the full Senate.   The Republicans will then attempt to call the matter up for a vote by unanimous consent on Tuesday.  At least one Democrat will object, and the Republicans will file a cloture motion.  Under Rule XXII, that motion will probably come up for a vote on Thursday and would take sixty votes to pass.  Based on current whip counts, those sixty votes will not be there.  If somehow, the Republicans get the sixty vote or invoke the nuclear option, Rule XXII would permit thirty more hours of debate resulting in a vote between Friday and Monday the 10th.  (Technically, the Easter state work session is currently scheduled to start on the 10th and go through the 21st.  The last two weeks of argument in this year’s Supreme Court term are the weeks of April 17 and April 24.  So if Judge Gorsuch is confirmed this week, he could sit on the last thirteen arguments of this term.  If the final vote takes place after April 21, Judge Gorsuch will not sit on any argument until the next term beginning in October.)

Assuming that the cloture vote goes as currently anticipated, the Republicans will have three options.  Option number one would be to use the Easter recess to put pressure on vulnerable Democratic senators.  Right now, the two most vulnerable Democratic senators (Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota) seem likely to vote for cloture, but there are other Democratic senators from other states that Trump won by wide margins.    While there are ten Democratic senators on the 2018 ballot from states that Trump won (and Maine’s independent Senator is not necessarily going to join the Democrats on this issue), half of those senators are from swing states.  The only two other Senators who come from states that were not too close to call in 2016 are Senator McCaskill from Missouri and Senator Donnelly from Indiana.  Unless the Democratic senators hear from party activists that party activists do not really care about this issue, the vote is unlikely to change much after the recess.  On the other hand, the Republican leadership would be in a stronger position to invoke the nuclear option after the recess.  (The more moderate members of the Republican caucus might believe that the Democrats should at least be given some time to debate and make their case before the nuclear option is invoked.)

Option number two would be for the Trump administration to decide to make Judge Gorsuch a sacrificial lamb.  The last two times that the nuclear option was on the table, the argument in favor of invoking the nuclear option was a pattern of obstruction.  If Trump were to withdraw Judge Gorsuch and nominate a slightly more moderate candidate, continued resistance from the Democratic caucus could be painted as “obstruction.”  That circumstance would make it easier for Republicans to claim that they had no choice but to invoke the nuclear option to keep the Supreme Court functioning.  (Of course, a combination of both option one and option two is a possibility — having a second vote on cloture after the recess followed by a replacement nominee.)  Option two would give the Republican senators more coverage, but my own opinion is that President Trump does not care about helping Republican senators.

Option number three (and what most expect to happen) would be the Republicans immediately invoking the nuclear option after the cloture vote.  What the nuclear option involves is appealing the ruling of the chair that sixty votes are need for the cloture motion to pass.  A 51-49 majority of the Senate (or 50-50 if Vice-president Pence breaks the tie) could overrule the decision of the chair and find that the cloture motion passed even though it only got 54 or 55 votes.

Reaching this crisis this early in a new President’s term reflects how divided our politics have become.  My belief is that there is a significant segment of the population that believes that senators should not filibuster a president’s nominees without a very good reason.  (For example, Justice Thomas who, more than any justice in U.S. history, deserved a filibuster got an up-down vote on confirmation.)  On the other hand, I believe that a significant segment of the population would agree that the Senate minority should be able to block a Supreme Court nominee in an exceptional case.  At least, as of now, the Democratic caucus has not made a convincing case that Judge Gorsuch is such an exceptional case.

While this center represents a significant segment of voters in American politics, the center has unfortunately allowed itself to become less relevant.  Too few people vote in party primaries, giving less moderate groups control over the nomination process.   It is hard to motivate people by being sensible.  It is hard to motivate people with complex solutions to complex problems.  While the Republican Party has effectively been taken over by the alt-right, the Democratic Party  has not been entirely exempt from attempts to primary challenge incumbent Democrats for being too willing to compromise and find bipartisan solutions.  Even in general elections, split ticket voting has declined (as it should) and voters tend to vote on overall impressions on how things are doing (with limited exceptions for single issue voters who tend toward the extremes anyhow) with limited focus on individual issues.  Because individual issues no longer matter, there is no incentive to find a compromise solution on those individual issues.  Instead, the goal of American politics has unfortunately become to convince centrist voters that the blame for the failure to solve problems rests with the other party.  And this blame game has resulted in the center splitting in a predictable factor making turnout of the base (rather than winning over the center) the key to winning elections.

So we are facing a critical moment in Senate history.  While what happens next may be (in the long term) the “right” approach to judicial nominations, the decisions are likely to be made for all the wrong reasons.  It would be nice if everybody could take a step back and think about the way out of this mess, but Senator McConnell cares about power and President Trump hates being told “no.”

Categories: Political Action

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