All Politics is Local, Featured Photo, Life in the Capital, News, People, Special Events, The Features

Election Flashback: Party At The White House

Whenever something big happens politically, locals always have an urge to flock to The White House. Even though President Obama was in Chicago to celebrate his victory over Mitt Romney in last night’s Presidential Election, people from all over decided that the best place for them to celebrate was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sure other neighborhoods celebrated with dancing and fireworks, but there’s nothing like reveling in front of the home of the President. When Obama clinched the Electoral College I grabbed my camera and drove down to see the crowds and they did not disappoint. Most of them were young, probably intoxicated college students who held up signs and climbed trees. Phones were out either for calling loved ones, taking photos, or checking in on Foursquare. Over 200 people were checked-in at The White House when I checked-in.

Here are a few images I took as I swam through the crowds.

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All Politics is Local, The District

How to Vote For Your ANC (even if you don’t know what an ANC is).

Precinct Eighty-Eight (Day three hundred and six)

Voting! It’s so patriotic! I’ve never missed an election (even when I was studying abroad in Australia and generally tipsy the entire time). I get really into voting. Not so much into politics, what with the big bird, and the binders and all the yelling, but I feel extremely strongly about exercising my right to vote. And this, my friends, is my first big DC election.

Having resided in Arlington for most of my post-college twenties, I was used to um… normal politics.  You know, senate races that aren’t prefaced with the term “shadow” and local county elections. But DC is not… normal.  That’s why we love her. We have all kinds of whackadoo local representation, and earlier this month I decided it was time to buckle down and be a responsible citizen and figure it all out. So one day in early October, I sat down do ALL THE VOTING RESEARCH! And I came upon this weird thing called the ANC, and got rull, rull confused.

I’m a relatively smart person, and I pay attention, but I was seriously confused about my ANC.  There were letters, and numbers and oh my.  Was I voting for 4C? 7D? Why are there numbers? What does it do? Why is it there? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? (Oh. Well, that I know. 42.)

Anyways,  I got around to asking my smart, competent friends who live in DC about their ANC commissioner, and none of them really knew what an ANC was. Well, okay then. I vaguely recollected the ANC thing from a post Dave Stroup wrote for WLDC a while ago, so I started there. That was helpful. But I still had questions. So I did a whole lot of grilling of the WLDC staff, and a whole lot of googling. And the rest of this post is what I figured out, so that you, too, can be an informed DC voter.

ARE YOU READY?

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All Politics is Local, Business and Money, Talkin' Transit

Ax grinding 102: Sparks off the grindstone

I swear I’m done with this metaphor after this.

Senator Durbin has fired back at Parkmobile over their Dodd-Frank posturing. It brings us to a point in the discussion where everyone gets to be right, maybe, depending on what your perspective is.

Durbin accurately states in his letter, below, that the Durbin amendment only addressed debit card fees. He also states, sort-of correctly, that it didn’t cause Parkmobile’s processing fees to rise.

However what Parkmobile originally said was “increased costs triggered by recent federal legislative reform enacted by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s Durbin Amendment.” That triggered by is so ambiguous as to be unassailable, though it’s similarly meaningless when it comes to assigning real blame.

For example: “Dennis the Menace’s mid-grocery meltdown, including wailing and juice-box-throwing, was triggered by his mother demanding that he stop urinating in the cereal aisle.” I don’t think it’s the trigger to blame there; Senator Durbin certainly doesn’t feel his amendment is to blame either.

As I pointed out yesterday, the management staff of Fontinalis probably feels differently about regulation. Founders have worked at Goldman Sachs, UBS, Highbridge Capital, Booth American, and other equity firms. On a whole these are people who aren’t going to be be regulatory fans, and where Durbin points the finger at processing firms for making up lost revenue by jacking up other charges the Fontinalis folks just see the person who originally pushed down on the lump in the waterbed.

Durbin’s letter below the jump.

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All Politics is Local, News

James O’Keefe’s new shitshow, coming to Arlington

YouTube Preview Image

Here ya go – the next “expose” from Project Veritas. This time it’s hidden video of Patrick Moran on hidden camera as a fellow talks about his idea to fraudulently vote on behalf of no-show registered voters in Virginia.

I’ve never been a big fan of Jim Moran’s and now it seems his kid doesn’t have the best judgment either. It seems pretty clear to me that he’s just trying not to alienate an existing volunteer – he doesn’t play along, repeatedly goads the guy into putting his efforts into real get out the vote efforts, etc. Like most of the O’Keefe products it seems to rely 90% on prodding people who have to glad-hand others and who are reluctant to firmly call someone out on their BS.

All that doesn’t make it into the final video, of course – what fun would that be? You’d take time away from the boogah-boogah about how Pat Moran is a paid individual on Jim Moran’s re-election team!

As someone who just went through election worker training in Arlington last night, let me help you out of your freak-out, Veritas-heads. The new ID requirements ARE discussed at length in training and, in fact, a volunteer commented that she thought we could expect to be jerked around by someone looking to game the system. General Registrar Linda Lindberg shrugged and said “probably.”

She and everyone else is pretty unconcerned about it, and you know why? Because the process is pretty well-defined and documented. In my 100 page training packet there’s a two page spread with a grid laying out what is and is not valid ID under the laws – there’s two, actually, since both Federal and State apply under different circumstances. If someone comes in and is insisting they vote even though their documentation doesn’t match up right… we let them. On a special provisional ballot which doesn’t get counted unless they come up with valid ID which they produce at the Office of Elections in the next few days.

Moran knows all this, of course, and knows that someone serious about perpetrating fraud doesn’t need to interrupt a man’s pursuit of his bagel to ask how he might generate paper with the help of “a computer guy” and go cast fake votes. He’s just identified this dude as a useful idiot and was too reluctant to say “that’s stupid and illegal” when he should have.

UPDATE 6:29p – WUSA is reporting that Patrick Moran has resigned.

All Politics is Local

Why the District got dissed at the DNC

The big news on Tuesday had everything to do with both Mayor Gray and House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton when a DC Statehood Rally planned for the downtown of Charlotte went afoul of some other unrelated protestors, who ended up occupying the street near their protest and got the whole thing shutdown. Meanwhile, neither Delegate Norton nor Mayor Gray will find themselves anywhere near the stage or the podium during the four-day DNC lovefest ahead of the acceptance speech from President Barack Obama tonight.

The word from John Stanton of Buzzfeed is that the DC Democratic State Committee (DSC) has one of the worst seats in the house in Charlotte, and shows off the view from their wretched seats, and says that the District has found itself off the speakers’ roster, off the platform list (statehood got the boot), and that’s left party politicos in DC quite upset with the national body.  Michael Brown said to the Washington Informer: “We all love the Democrats, they stand behind us. But they need to stand in front of us, you know.”

It’s no small wonder that the DNC is keeping their distance from the DC DSC, though, given the quantity of scandal that its elected members in the District have racked up just this year. Between Mayor Gray’s apparent shadow campaign and its attendant convictions, and former Chairman Kwame Brown’s felony bank fraud, and former Councilman Tommy Thomas’ in-progress prison sentence for stealing money from youth sports programs and getting kickbacks to throw a 2009 Inaugural Ball, well, I’d keep us as far as humanly possible from the action, too.

One could look at the star treatment that DC GOP got at the RNC this year as a potential contrast. State School Board member Patrick Mara represented the DC GOP amongst others this year and sent dispatches back to DCist, including this floor shoot near the very front of the stage.

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All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

Want to make a better DC? Run for ANC.

Photo courtesy of lightboxdc
Competitors
courtesy of lightboxdc

DC may not get a vote in the House or the Senate, or have fully autonomous control of our own budget, but what we do have is local participation up the ying yang. The ANC level is without question the most approachable elected office of which I’m aware – short of dogcatcher, naturally – and has a fairly large potential to do good in your neighborhood.  The ANCs across the city handle business which includes liquor licenses in neighborhoods, new development, and other issues that are at the heart of any small part of the city.  As an ANC, you’re an unpaid volunteer without a staff, but there is great potential to affect your neighborhood for the positive.

Not sure where your ANC district is? Not sure who’s running? Local civic-minded programmer Keith Ivey has made a website to show who’s running in your part of town.  If no one has picked up petitions yet, you’ve still got 9 days to get yours and get them signed ahead of the deadline.  You only need signatures from 25 registered voters to get on the ballot, which could be accomplished in an hour or two – less if you can line up all your neighborhood friends. 

Get involved. Leave no seat empty.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

New exemptions seem like a bad idea to me

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC
Law Library Stacks
courtesy of Mr. T in DC

The Washington Post ran an editorial on June 30th opining that perhaps the District shouldn’t be seeking new FOIA exemptions during a time when corruption scandals seem to be plentiful. July 3rd saw a response from DC Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan asserting that this is more about balancing extensively broad requests against the limited time available to make sure they don’t disclose sensitive information.

My suggestion would be that the next time the administration wants to put forth this sort of claim they might want to have it penned by someone whose office wasn’t given a vicious beatdown by a DC Superior Court judge for their rubber-stamping of records request denials… on the entirely false basis that there’s sensitive information in them.

I don’t think turnaround time is your problem, Mr Nathan. Perjuring one’s self, as Judge Macaluso asserts Assistant Chief of Police Patrick Burke and Assistant Attorney Chad W Copeland did when they claimed everything in a FOIA request was privileged or too difficult to redact, can be done quite quickly. Admittedly the time spent in court when someone calls you out on it is time consuming, but you make your trade-offs, yes?

If DC government isn’t responsibly using the exemptions currently given them, and lacks time to asses them properly – without lying, anyway – then how does adding more exemptions streamline the process?

All Politics is Local, Entertainment, Media, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Creators of “Texts From Hillary” Meet Clinton, Receive Special “Text”

In an interesting turn for The Internet’s Latest Meme: Texts From Hillary,  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited the Meme’s creators to meet with her and receive her own submission for the site.

The tumblr, which collects and produces fictional text conversations between celebrities and Secretary Clinton, has been burning up the web ever since it was created last Wednesday. Adam Smith, the Communications Director of campaign-finance nonprofit Public Campaign, says that it’s been a crazy week ever since.

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All Politics is Local, Food and Drink, History, The Daily Feed, The District

On This Day in 1934 …

Photo courtesy of daveinshaw
Faith and Insurance
courtesy of daveinshaw

As you might know by now, we’re big fans of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s annual Repeal Day Ball, which celebrates the national repeal of Prohibition. What you might not know is that DC’s local prohibition law remained on the books for a few more months after the national repeal.

Today is the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition in DC. According to Garrett Peck’s book Prohibition in Washington, DC, DC’s repeal went into effect just after midnight on March 1, with some 200 licenses hand-delivered by police and other DC officials. The first recipients? The National Press Club, who still have license ABRA-000001 [PDF].

Know of any official or unofficial celebrations? Post ‘em in the comments.

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed, Ward 5

First Campaign Cash Reports are Out in Ward 5 Special Election

Photo courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie

courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie

While others have taken on the Primary election financial data, I spent yesterday combing through the financials of those Ward 5 Council candidates who have declared their intent to run. I’ve compiled my initial data into a read-only spreadsheet that you can use to dissect the race, and I welcome corrections either in the comments or via email. Using the campaign filings with the Office of Campaign Finance, I have examined closely the filings of the 12 candidates who returned the forms to OCF.  I’m surprised that there are at least eight who have taken out petitions who have yet to return file with the OCF, but there are provisions that would allow a candidate not to return forms right away.

There are four campaigns that have made efforts to fundraise in the first reporting period, representing approximately 20 days of fundraising time.  Delano Hunter leads the pack with just over $20,000 across 119 donors, followed by Kenyan McDuffie with just under $17,000 across 76 donors.  Frank Wilds made a $10,000 loan to his own campaign, but tracked no donations. Bloomingdale ANC Commissioner John Salatti was fourth with $7,600 or so.  No other candidate raised more than $550.

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All Politics is Local

Last Chance for 2011 Charitable Giving

Photo courtesy of RikkisRefugeOther
Small-charity-donation
courtesy of RikkisRefugeOther

Welcome to the last moments of your life… in 2011.

Did that briefly fill you with fear that you’ve misspent your time on this fair earth? (If so, why? Do you think I have kill-you-through-the-internet powers? Worry not, you’re wayyyyyy down on the list for when I get THAT superpower) Or did you just think “crap, I need to make some more tax deductible donations before the clock ticks over!”

Either way, we got you covered. The We Love DC team spent some time spitballing their favorite locally-focused and/or locally-based charities and came up with a prodigious list. All will allow you some way to donate to them for the 2011 tax year, if you’re fortunate enough for such deductions to matter to you. All will be similarly delighted to take your cash from Jan 1 onwards too.

Keep reading for the list and feel free to suggest your own in the comments. Most of the places below are in the District but some are in surrounding areas; charity doesn’t stop at the boundary stones, after all.

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All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Your Metro Benefits Are (Probably) Going Down

Photo courtesy of kimberlyfaye
(006/365)
courtesy of kimberlyfaye

If your company participates in Metro’s SmartBenefits program, Congress has likely given you an unexpected pay cut. Those who participate in the program get pre-tax dollars put on their SmarTrip card each month, up to a maximum allowable limit that has been up to this point $230/month. Because Congress did not extend the ceiling, the new pre-tax ceiling is a little more than half that, at $125/mo.

So, when the changes come in a week, remember that it’s not WMATA’s fault, for once, and that the Congress that DC has no vote in snipped your transit benefit in half.

All Politics is Local

Occupy McConnell

Photo courtesy of
‘takeovr’
courtesy of ‘ekelly80′

This is Our DC reports that they, as well as some folks from OccupyDC, are camped out in Senator McConnell’s office looking to petition him on the Rebuild America Act. They’re for it and identify it as something that would bring almost 400 million in infrastructure spending to the area.

Whether you’re on their side of this or not it’s a pretty interesting event. Anyone with an opinion on the bill who lives in the 50 states has two numbers they can call and indicate how they’d like their senator to vote. DC residents have none.

Or do they have 100? @OurDC is using their time in McDonnell’s office to phone bank and call other senators. As District residents they didn’t get to vote for any of them but many have felt they should weigh in on how the District conducts its day to day operations. Maybe they should start expecting to hear more from DC’s citizens if they don’t want to provide them with representation of their own to call…

All Politics is Local, The Daily Feed

Feds to update snow closure policy

Photo courtesy of
‘The Long Commute’
courtesy of ‘starbuck77′

Remember that horrible, awful, snow-addled commute we had back in late January when the feds closed at 3, just in time to send people off into the beginning of an ice storm? Yeah. The feds remember it too, and they’re updating their inclement weather procedures to prevent it from happening again.

The updated procedures basically involve two main categories:

1. Stop dithering and make a decision about whether to close/have unscheduled telework/whatever a lot faster. I think anyone who has ever sat up at night, refreshing the OPM status page can get behind this one.

2. Encourage employees to shelter in place if they can’t get home before it gets bad outside. This one seems… less enforceable, since you can’t exactly require people to stay at the office, but if offices can be prepared to accommodate employees for a little while longer at the office, and encourage them to wait out the worst of it, this could potentially make a difference.

The policy is expected to be approved on November 9th. If you work for the government, you might check to see what “shelter in place” would look like at your office. If, like me, you work for a company that follows the feds’ lead with office closures, you might check with your HR department to see if this will change anything for you.

And maybe it wouldn’t hurt to keep a bag with some spare hygiene supplies and some energy bars locked up in your cubicle, hm?

All Politics is Local

Inexplicable move at DC Fire & EMS

Photo courtesy of
‘District #4′
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Late yesterday, it was revealed that longtime DC Fire & EMS public information officer Pete Piringer, the name behind the amazing @dcfireems, had been shuffled around in a personnel move. Piringer will be moving away from the @dcfireems handle, recently embroiled in a bit of controversy, which saw the account taking a break, and a lot of concerns and accusations flying about the role of the twitter account.

For me, the account’s purpose is simple and obvious: provide realtime information about serious fires and other emergencies in the DC area, as well as contact information for the media to get updates. Piringer has done the job with incredible aplomb for the last few years, keeping the media and public, alike, abreast of the situations

This afternoon, Mark Segraves from WTOP broke the news that the mayor’s office may have been involved in Piringer’s ouster: “Piringer was prolific in his tweeting of breaking news and information, but sources inside the mayor’s office say there was blowback from other agencies that Piringer’s tweets were making them look slow and unresponsive.”

While everyone involved is saying the right things, this move stinks to high heaven of transferring a popular and effective member of the staff to an exile they don’t deserve under the guise of a promotion or temporary assignment. Piringer will move from the DC Fire & EMS department to the rough and tumble excitement of the Office of the Secretary.

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All Politics is Local, Life in the Capital, The Mall

Why are all these people talking about walking sluts?

Photo courtesy of
‘SlutWalk Tampere 6.8.2011′
courtesy of ‘Kulttuurikahvila Hertta’

There’s been a few news tweets about the SlutWalk that happened this weekend and unsurprisingly several of them – maybe most – have touted photos. I’m not condemning that – I like looking at provocatively dressed women myself. But don’t miss the very serious reason it’s called SlutWalk and involves protesting while scantily-clad: to combat a perception that dressing a certain way is in any way permission or a valid reason for other people to use your body against your will.

If that seems implausible in 2011, well, the whole impetus for this now nation-wide and multi-country phenomenon was the somewhat astonishing statement from a Canadian officer of the law during a lecture on health and safety.

“You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here,” he reportedly told them. “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.”

I’m (sadly) not surprised that someone would say a version of “If you wear that skirt you’re just asking to be raped,” but I can’t say I expected to hear it from a police officer.

Holly Kearle writes very eloquently here about the point of SlutWalk and why she participated. She’s also the force behind the excellent Stop Street Harassment blog. If you’ve got the time to look at some skin you’ve got the time to read what she wrote about this event. I’d encourage you to keep up with the SSH blog as well.

It’s easy for us men to be blind to the reality of the million little shitty things that happen to women in our society – we’re not the target of the harassment. We might not ever see it going on, but it does. Constantly. Take ten seconds at Holla Back DC and see the sort of unbelievable crap that happens all the time, ranging from crappy inappropriate talk about mustache rides to stalking and physically threatening behavior against a fifteen year old girl.

SlutWalk might not be how you want to confront this sort of thing in our society – Holla Back DC’s Chai Shenoy didn’t feel like it was a productive thing for her – but the women who stood up and told their fellow DC residents that how they look or dress isn’t cause to mistreat them have good cause to think making the statement is necessary. Make their sacrifice of their time worthwhile and look past just the pictures.

All Politics is Local

Do Something Good

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘DC Central Kitchen’

You want to do it tomorrow? DC Central Kitchen needs people to be the muscle in helping to try to make use of the 50 tons of food that might otherwise go to waste when the Fancy Food Show closes. You’d be working with them from 2pm to 9pm and you can find more details here.

Not free till next month or more of a morning person? Registration for Beautification Day has begun. From 8am till 1pm on August 20th volunteers will help DCPS spruce up the exteriors of all the public schools in the district. That means everything from landscaping to picking up trash to painting. Unlike DCCK’s thing it’s on a Saturday so if you’re stuck in the M-F grind you can still chip in.

Adventures, All Politics is Local, Business and Money, Education, Essential DC, Fun & Games, History, Legacy articles, Life in the Capital, People, The District, The Features

50 And 50, And Oh Yeah, DC

Society6, an organization that connects artists with unique opportunities and empowers them to make their artwork available for sale without giving up control of their rights, recently completed an innovative project titled “50 And 50.” The idea behind this endeavor was to recruit 50 designers, one per each state, and have them illustrate their state motto using the same color-scheme. The results are modern, yet historical grounded, designs that would make any wall fit for oversized art proud.

Fortunately for us, although not part of 50 states, DC was included in the project and represented by Oliver Munday, whose  illustrations and designs have graced bookcovers, TIME, The New York Times, Wired, etc. And for those of us completely naive to DC’s “state” motto, it’s “Justice For All” or as the Romans prefer “Justia Omnibus.” Continue reading

All Politics is Local

A Tragic Charge

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Helernn’

WUSA reports that prosecutors in Bristow, VA have indicted Karen Murphy on felony murder and felony child neglect after her son died June 17 as a result of being left in a vehicle. It’s not terribly surprising that the grand jury would agree to the charges but it’s disappointing that the prosecutor would ask for them.

Gene Weingarten wrote on this subject two years ago in his excellent piece Fatal Distraction. It’s so good that if I had to choose between you finishing this article and you clicking away to read it and not coming back… I’d have to pick that you go. It’s a moving and difficult read and worth every second.

I suspect that if anyone on that grand jury had read it they’d have refused to indict on a murder charge and possibly on child abuse. Without that empathetic insight into what these cases typically involve it’s not too surprising they’d choose to indict. The death of a child works us into a rage that rivals any other and the instinct to find someone to blame is hard to resist.

Not impossible, though. Weingarten’s piece quotes a Virginia prosecutor from another area of the state who describes why, in a case tragically similar, he opted not to seek any convictions.

In Portsmouth, the decision not to charge Culpepper, 40, was made by Commonwealth’s Attorney Earle Mobley. As tragic as the child’s death was, Mobley says, a police investigation showed that there was no crime because there was no intent; Culpepper wasn’t callously gambling with the child’s life — he had forgotten the child was there.

“The easy thing in a case like this is to dump it on a jury, but that is not the right thing to do,” Mobley says. A prosecutor’s responsibility, he says, is to achieve justice, not to settle some sort of score.

“I’m not pretty sure I made the right decision,” he says. “I’m positive I made the right decision.”

I’m sad that Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert lacks the same certainty. Absent any new information – which doesn’t seem to be forthcoming – it looks like this case is just going to drag another already suffering soul in front of a court for nothing.

All Politics is Local

Jefferson Memorial Dance Arrests Poorly Handled

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Poorly handled by the demonstrators, that is.

The above video splices together several perspectives on yesterday’s arrests at the Jefferson Memorial of Adam Kokesh and others who were there to demonstrate against restrictions on personal expression at the memorial site.

The BoingBoing crowd is making a lot of the way Kokesh is brought to the ground, which is a highly unfortunate distraction from the more important issue of “free speech zones” in modern America. You can skip forward into the video to about the 2:20 mark and see the two more physical arrests. The first is of an unidentified individual; the arrest starts out with little physicality until another individual runs in and attempts to pull the first man away from the officer. Both are taken down to the ground and restrained.

The third arrest is of Kokesh and starts around 3:00. Viewing from there and listening to the audio it’s clear that the officer first attempts to tell Kokesh to submit to arrest without touching him, then endeavors to turn him around and detain him. Kokesh ignores the requests, continues to walk away, then refuses to kneel. It’s at that point that the officer lifts him and throws him to the ground to restrain and arrest him.

The selectively edited highlight reelJames O’Keefe would be proud – doesn’t show the first man interfering with the other man’s arrest nor do you see the officer attempt to arrest Kokesh without violence. It’s hard to tell to what extent anyone is resisting against the officers once they’re prone; while they don’t get any limbs free it’s clear they were physically resisting before that point. They could be straining against the hold the officers have on they – it’s impossible to tell from the video.

I’m personally a big supporter of civil disobedience against unjust laws and I was all the way behind Kokesh and the others… till the second the officers attempted to arrest them. The law against peaceful non-disruptive demonstration is baloney, but it’s the current law of the land. Getting charged with it and fighting it – although this is pretty pointless since there’s already a case in play that may be further appealed above the circuit court level - is great, but resisting that arrest is not.

Changing the law and changing public opinion via non-violent demonstration and challenging the constitutionality of an arrest is fine, but the additional escalation in this circumstance is entirely on Kokesh and the other demonstrators. They had the opportunity to get arrested for that they believe in and show the world the status quo – the arrest of the couple gently swaying, for example, is a perfect demonstration of how silly this restriction is. Forcing the encounter to be violent by resisting arrest cheapens the whole thing and distracts from what should have been the core issue.

Kokesh and the others could have chosen to go limp and non-violently resist the arrest. Instead they made this mess. Too bad.