Category Archives: government

Why Can’t White Supremacists Confront the Fact That the Source of Their Economic Problems Are White Economic Elites?

Frustrated young white men are facing class divisions more than racial divides.

There’s no disputing the white anger and rage seen in Charlottesville, even if conservative publications like the National Review say these “angry white boys do not have a political agenda.”

Their anger is real and grievances differ, even if they took the old path of joining mobs spewing racist filth. Yet these white supremacists are blaming the wrong slices of society for their angst.

Racial divides are not what’s plaguing vast stretches of white America—deepening class divides are. If you think about who is to blame, it is mostly powerful white capitalists and their government servants that decimated regional economies in recent decades.

Many Democrats keep saying inequality is the top economic issue, as Eduardo Porter wrote for the New York Times in a piece that recaps the party’s national political agenda. However, the conventional wisdom that Democrats need to “recover the support of the middle-class—people in families earning $50,000 to $150,000, whose vote went to Mr. Trump,” especially in swing states “where three-quarters of voters are white”—is not acknowledging the roots of America’s latest outburst of white supremacy.

“Our economy is in very serious trouble. Ten or fifteen years from now, the standard of living of our average citizen may actually be lower than it is today,” writes Steve Slavin, author of the new book, The Great American Economy: How Inefficiency Broke It and What We Can Do To Fix It. “Large swaths of the suburbs will be slums, and tens of millions of Americans will have joined the permanent underclass. There will be three separate Americas—the rich and near rich, an economically downscaled middle and working class, and a very large poor population.”

Slavin cites eight major economic trends, pointing out that almost everyone who is not living in wealthy enclaves—usually coastal cities or inland hubs—is facing a downward spiral that’s been decades in the making. These are the same stretches of suburban and rural America that elected Trump, elected the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, where hate groups are concentrated, and where many of those arrested in Charlottesville come from. They hail from the losing end of the trends Slavin cites and forecasts for the country.

It may very well be that the external circumstances of the whites protesting are “pretty good,” as the National Review‘s Kevin Williamson writes, compared to non-white America. That’s even more reason to condemn their visceral rage and hate speech. But as Slavin notes, the national economy and sense of well-being is on a downward slide that accelerated in recent decades.

Those responsible are largely white politicians, white business executives and more recently the graduates of elite business schools—where the curriculum involved outsourcing domestic industries that once allowed people without degrees to prosper.

The culprit here is primarily class—even though race and class are often synonymous. If anything, the downwardly spiraling sections of white America today eerily resemble inner cities in the 1960s, where non-whites called for economic justice. Those urban cores were abandoned after two decades of white flight to the suburbs and manufacturers also leaving.

Here are eight overarching economic trends that Slavin notes have clobbered the middle class, working class and poor.

1. Manufacturing has sharply declined. Notwithstanding Trump’s announcements that a few companies based overseas are returning, factory jobs have widely disappeared across the interior of America, where from World War II through the 1980s they anchored cities and counties.

2. Many cities have fallen into decline. Starting after WWII, the government and industry promoted suburbia, abandoning scores of cities to the mostly non-white poor. Detroit’s carmakers bought and dismantled public transit. That led to today’s costly transportation needs with a nation of commuters paying a lot for private vehicles, gas and insurance and spending hours away from home.

3. Health care costs have left wages frozen. Average wages have not seen increases, after being adjusted for inflation, for decades. A big part of the reason is businesses that provide health insurance have to keep paying more to insurers rather than employees. Meanwhile, insurers keep finding ways to draw on what’s left in people’s pockets.

4. Public education is vastly underfunded. Suburban schools in wealthy enclaves might be fine, but nationally half of high school graduates are not at the same level as graduates of other countries and their better achieving peers. That forecloses opportunity.

5. The government is not reinvesting in America. This is not simply about neglected roads and bridges. The U.S. government supports a beyond bloated military industrial complex that accounts for 40 percent of global spending on weapons. This may be domestic spending, but it is not spending on domestic needs.

6. The criminal justice system is bloated. Here too, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation; a predatory system that targets lower-income people and creates taxpayer-funded private police forces.

7. The make-work private sector’s useless jobs. This isn’t just the growth of service industries, but “more than 15 million Americans hold jobs that do not produce any useful goods or services,” such as bill collectors, telemarketers, sales reps paid on commission, etc., Slavin writes.

8. The bloated financial sector. This is Wall Street’s diversion of savings from productive investments to speculative ventures, where money is made from tracking the movement of other assets or the public is sold repackaged securities that generate fees.

In every one of these eight areas, wealthy whites in positions of power and privilege have made decisions that collectively have set the country on the path to today’s downward economic spiral. Right after World War II, the federal government would not lend money to black veterans to buy homes in newly expanding suburbs. They gave real estate investors like Fred Trump, the president’s father, money to build what became urban housing projects where many occupants were non-white renters.

There were not many non-white executives in Detroit when the auto industry acted to destroy public transit systems. There were not many non-whites on corporate boards in the 1980s, when the first wave of moving manufacturing abroad hit. The business schools minting sought-after MBAs were teaching predominantly white students to take operations to countries where labor was cheaper, or extolling the virtues of businesses like Walmart that decimated entire Main Streets across small-town America.

The list goes on and a pattern emerges—a class division, more so than race—which has deepened and afflicts America today. As Slavin writes, “Perhaps the most persuasive indicator of our nation’s economic decline is that millennials are on track to be the first generation in our nation’s history to be poorer than its parents’ generation. In January 2017, CNBC reported, ‘With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles.’”

The Young Invincibles are a progressive group concerned about health care, higher education, workforce and finance, and civic engagement. But that moniker could also be used to describe the belligerent attitude of the white marchers in Charlottesville.

As Williamson writes derisively in the conservative National Review, “What does an angry white boy want? The fact that they get together to play dress-up—to engage in a large and sometimes murderous game of cowboys and Indians—may give us our answer. They want to be someone other than who they are. That’s the great irony of identity politics: They seek identity in the tribe because they are failed individuals. They are a chain composed exclusively of weak links. What they are engaged in isn’t politics, but theater: play-acting in the hopes of achieving catharsis.”

But Williamson only hints at what they seem to want—and it’s exactly what Slavin nails. These angry whites are being bypassed by structural changes in the economy that are narrowing their options. Needless to say, most people in dire straits do not embrace violence and racism. But it seems the heart of their grievances appear to be based on class frustrations, not race. If the white marchers want to blame someone, they ought to point their fingers at the wealthy whites on Wall Street and in Washington.

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

America Asleep

“The summer of 1919, called “The Red Summer” by James Weldon Johnson, ushered in the greatest period of interracial violence the nation had ever witnessed. During that summer there were twenty-six race riots in such cities as Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; Elaine, Arkansas; Charleston, South Carolina; Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee; Longview, Texas; and Omaha, Nebraska. More than one hundred Blacks were killed in these riots, and thousands were wounded and left homeless. The seven most serious race riots were those which occurred in Wilmington, N. C. (1898), Atlanta, Ga. (1906), Springfield, Ill. (1908), East St. Louis) Ill. (1917), Chicago, Ill. (1919), Tulsa, Okla. (1921) and Detroit, Mich. (1943).”

— Robert Gibson

“A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct.”

— California Governor Peter H. Burnett, 1851

“At the time, Executive Order 9066 was justified as a “military necessity” to protect against domestic espionage and sabotage. However, it was later documented that “our government had in its possession proof that not one Japanese American, citizen or not, had engaged in espionage, not one had committed any act of sabotage.( ) These Japanese Americans, half of whom were children, were incarcerated for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis, in bleak, remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.”

— Michi Weglyn.

The recent attack in Charlottsville hardly stands out as in any way unique in American history. But there are several very telling aspects to this display of organized white supremacist values. First, how is it the police allowed it to happen? Well, ok, we know the answer. That was rhetorical. The next question would be perhaps the media coverage of this. Third would be the President and his response.

In a sense, the media coverage actually encloses the other issues. For the narrative being manufactured by the NY Times and Washington Post and all the rest, CNN and MSNBC is pretty much the same, with only variations that are designed to target specific demographics. The story of U.S. racism and colonial plunder, of a settler mentality and the reality of Manifest Destiny and genocide is simply erased. In its place is the fairy tale of white American goodness that I and millions of others were taught in school. Charlottsville is thus not a result of Trump, of his personality, of his friends such as Steve Bannon. It is part of a deep current in the collective psyche of the U.S.

There has never been a time when America was good. There was goodness in America, certainly in culture, in art and even in certain movements for social justice. There was the Wobblies and early socialists and union organizers. But the overriding reality has been one of acute racism, both institutional and individual, and of conquest and since WW2 of a rabid all consuming anti communism and quest for global hegemony. The U.S. was founded on the twin pillars of slave labor and the genocide of six hundred indigenous tribes. It is a settler colonial project that has never wavered in support for the Capitalist system. It was founded by rich white men, and that also has never changed.

“Blacks can’t run it. Nowhere, and they won’t be able to for a hundred years, and maybe not for a thousand. … Do you know, maybe one black country that’s well run?”

— Richard Nixon (Whitehouse tapes)

“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of 10 are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the 10th.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

I mean one could just go on and on. Woodrow Wilson worked to keep blacks out of Princeton when he was that Universities president. Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Johnson, James Polk — who deserves a special place as the most pro slavery president, perhaps, in U.S. history. In fact, its pretty hard to find a president who wasn’t overtly racist.

“While it may be tempting to dismiss 500 knuckle-dragging racists marching through Charlottesville waving Confederate flags as unrepresentative of a nation that takes pride in values of tolerance and racial equality, it would be wrong. Those who took part in those ugly scenes are the reality rather than the myth of America. They know that the American exceptionalism which Obama, while president, declared he believed in with every fiber of his being, is in truth white exceptionalism – ‘white’ in this context being not only a racial construct but also an ideological construct.”

— John Wight

But what has struck me is the outcry from the educated white class. Those gatekeepers to media and what passes for culture these days. The outrage is extreme and this has served to amp up the anti Trump sentiments even further than they already were. But none of these people uttered a peep about Obama and his CIA support for radical head chopping takfiri killers in Syria, and not a word when Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland (and John McCain) orchestrated the coup in Ukraine that installed a full on Nazi Party, complete with swastikas. But then U.S. foreign policy has a long history of support for fascism. In Africa, the U.S. supported war lords and mass killers…as Keith Harmon Snow wrote…

“The violence wreaked on Congo-Zaire by Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame was exported by perpetrators who first waged genocidal campaigns and coups-d’état that violated the most fundamental international covenants on state sovereignty first in Uganda, then Rwanda, then Zaire (Congo). On 6 April 1994, they assassinated heads of state from Rwanda and Burundi, again the most fundamental and egregious violations of international law. The U.S., U.K., Canada and Israel could not have been happier.

These first campaigns of Tutsi-Hima guerrilla warfare set the stage for unprecedented violence as the terror regimes of Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame tortured, slaughtered, raped, disappeared, assassinated, and terrorized millions of innocent non-combatant civilians from Uganda to Rwanda to Burundi to Congo (and in South Sudan). They had the backing of western intelligence and covert operations at the start.”

Or take Haiti. The U.S. ushered out President Aristide at gunpoint and replaced him with former Ton Ton Macoute fascists. The U.S. removed Zelaya in Honduras (on order from Hillary Clinton) and replaced him with a far right wing fascist. The U.S. supports fascist Leopoldo Lopez and his friends in Venezuela at this very moment. But rarely if ever do I hear a word from those people *outraged* at the tiki torch Blood and Soil pro confederate neo Klansmen in Virginia this week. The U.S. openly supported the fascist loving Croatian secessionists under Franjo Tudjman, an ardent admirer of the fascist state of Croatia in the 1930s under Ante Pavelic, as they dismantled socialist Yugoslavia. The racist murderers in Charlottsville are ideologically the same as countless parties and leaders the U.S. has supported for sixty years. No, for two hundred years and supports today.

I read a meme on social media yesterday that described Trump as having disgraced the office of the President. This is from a liberal and a Democrat. Honestly I’m not sure what one would have to do to disgrace that office. Harry Truman ordered the destruction of two Japanese cities with Atomic bombs, the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, women, children, the elderly…everyone. Disgrace the office? The School of the Americas, now rebranded, taught torture and subjugation to several generations of right wing dictators, and helped train death squads throughout Latin America.

I suspect that if Barry Goldwater returned from the dead and ran as a Democrat today he would be hugely successful. There is a certain swooning adoration for rock ribbed conservatives in liberal America. It is the result of an endless inculcating of the idea of money equating with merit. Most Americans have an unconscious knee jerk respect for the wealthy. Listen to how the owners of major sports franchises are talked about…it is always MISTER Bennet, MISTER Dolan, MISTER Snyder, MISTER Kendrick. It is a kind of weird hologram of the plantation system brought to you on network TV.

“While demanding an Open Door in China, it had insisted (with the Monroe Doctrine and many military interventions) on a Closed Door in Latin America-that is, closed to everyone but the United States. It had engineered a revolution against Colombia and created the “independent” state of Panama in order to build and control the Canal. It sent five thousand marines to Nicaragua in 1926 to counter a revolution, and kept a force there for seven years. It intervened in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 1916 and kept troops there for eight years. It intervened for the second time in Haiti in 1915 and kept troops there for nineteen years. Between 1900 and 1933, the United States intervened in Cuba four times, in Nicaragua twice, in Panama six times, in Guatemala once, in Honduras seven times. By 1924 the finances of half of the twenty Latin American states were being directed to some extent by the United States. By 1935, over half of U.S. steel and cotton exports were being sold in Latin America.”

— Howard Zinn

The white liberal today operates from an ideological position of intellectual containment. One might think Hiroshima would be condemned without qualification. This is not the case. The intellectual containment is to partition aspects of history and simply ignore the disturbing parts — things like the reality of slavery for example. Hollywood goes a long ways in sanitizing the story of the slave trade, and more, of the enduring scars, emotional and psychic, that such barbarism produced. White supremacism is, as John Wight rightly notes, is an ideological construct.

So back to Charlottsville. The goofy Hitler haircuts and ridiculous tiki torches (Wal Mart sells them by the by) make for good TV and provide an easy target for hand wringing liberals, but the reality is, of course, that most people have no desire to upset the status-quo. How many white American football fans applaud Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the anthem? According to a Reuters poll 72% of Americans saw Kaepernick as unpatriotic. The overt racism and fascist symbols in Virgina are easy to denounce. They seem almost made for that. And the attendant cries of how empowered the Trump base is seem almost silly (for one thing Trump’s real base is upwardly mobile whites, suburban usually, and nominally educated). The cartoon crackers in Virginia are not a significant force. But they do have symbolic weight. And yes, a woman died. Killed by a former Marine. Quelle surprise says I. The police watched. The U.S. domestic police system was born of militia hunting runaway slaves. It has not traveled a very great ideological distance since.

“As an internal colony in what some refer to as a prison house of nations that characterizes the U.S. nation state, black communities are separated into enclaves of economic exploitation and social degradation by visible and often invisible social and economic processes. The police have played the role not of protectors of the unrealized human rights of black people but as occupation forces.”

— Ajamu Baraka

The U.S. society is one in distress. There is a desperation in the affluent classes that suggests a growing recognition that the system they believe in, that has protected their privilege, is starting to fray at the edges. And maybe worse than fray. A recent study on addiction to smart phones among teenagers links depression and feelings of isolation with smart phone usage. It also has resulted in a generation that goes out less, has less sex, and desires independence less. Teens live at home longer, and wait longer to get their driver’s license. One in four Americans take anti depressants.

Jonathan Crary’s excellent book 24/7 dissects the global present in which most Westerners today live. And disruptions of sleep play a prominent role in the infantilization of U.S. culture. Everyone today sleeps less. Six and half hours a night compared to eight hours only a generation ago. In a society that metaphorically sleepwalks when awake, the material reality is that people sleep less. They are more anxious, and more afraid.

“The anti war movement (of the 60s) had spawned an identification with pacifism and public empathy for the victims of war; but in the 1980s the conditions nurturing these currents had to be eliminated and replaced in all areas with a culture of aggressivity and violence. That millions of supposedly liberal or progressive Americans will not dutifully avow that they ‘support our troops’ while remaining silent about the thousands murdered in imperial wars attests to the success of these counter measures.”

— Jonathan Crary

This marked the conscious ridicule of the sixties counterculture in mass media. It also marked the start of an aggressive re-writing of history, even recent history. Today it is a criminal offense in many places to feed the poor. It is criminal in many places to grow a vegetable garden in your front yard. It is illegal to criticize the Israel, too. Poverty is shameful, and worse. Against this has come an onslaught of demonizing all communist leaders from Castro to Mao. Chavez is routinely called a dictator, a caudillo, a strongman. Never mind this is only more racism, it is also untrue, factually untrue. No matter. It is a society of mass propaganda on all levels. So Charlottsville will distract the educated white populace for a week or so, and Trump will be made fun of and denounced. One wonders who watched his TV show, though. I mean it can’t have been just those guys in Hitler haircuts, right? Now Trump is a vile and dangerous man. Clearly close to illiterate, weak, resentful and insecure. But Trump is only a signifier for a wider problem. And that problem is that the United States has never altered its basic course. It began as a settler colony, one with genocidal tendencies and a thirst for violence. And so it is today. Eight hundred military bases across the planet. And allies like Saudi Arabia, where women are beheaded for being witches. Where confessions are the result of torture. Torture that isn’t even denied. The UN appointed Saudi Arabia as head of their human rights council. You see the problem…its much bigger than Charlottsville. If a society has stopped reading, and cannot sleep, and is the most obese in history, and where fertility rates are in steep decline; well, one suspects this is the dawn of the Empire’s collapse.

Ajamu Baraka summerized it best I think.

“Looking at white supremacy from this wider-angle lens, it is clear that support for the Israeli state, war on North Korea, mass black and brown incarceration, a grotesque military budget, urban gentrification, the subversion of Venezuela, the state war on black and brown people of all genders, and the war on reproductive rights are among the many manifestations of an entrenched right-wing ideology that cannot be conveniently and opportunistically reduced to Trump and the Republicans.”

George Jackson wrote…“The Capitalist class reached its maturity with the close of the 1860-64 civil war. Since that time there have been no serious threats to their power; their excesses have taken on a certain legitimacy through long usage. Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of its legitimacy?” The U.S. military lays waste to parts of every continent on earth, or threatens to. There are U.S. troops killing people in Yemen, in Syria, in Afghanistan. The U.S. threatens small nations without real power. And the leadership today, and not just Trump, is infantile and narcissistic and ill-educated. It is as if the very worst and most stupid people in the country are now running it. But this has been trending this direction for thirty years now. It is not new. It has only gotten much worse, I think. There were mass pro Nazi rallies in Madison Square Garden in the 1930s. Americans adore royalty, too. The same Euro royals who have supported and protected fascists for hundreds of years. There is an unmediated worship of power and authority. Nearly anyone in uniform is fawned over. The American bourgeoisie always side with authority. With the status quo. With institutional power. Charlottsville is indeed a symptom, but it is not in any way an aberration.

By John Steppling/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Clintons, Trump and White Backlash

In the mid-1980s Klan leader, White nationalist and one-term Representative from Louisiana David Duke traded in his KKK garb for a business suit and a corporate haircut in order to merge his version of White nationalism with then resurgent capitalism. Neoliberalism links a malleable conception of freedom as what those with social power want to circular social apologetics. And the capitalist / Thatcherite assertion that the individual is the fundamental social unit revivifies White nationalism by erasing history.

Another way of putting this is that neoliberalism has long been a subtext of White nationalism. If social outcomes reflect individual capabilities, goes the theory, then group social failures result from aggregated individual failures— from some ‘defect’ that characterizes individuals as members of that group. This is the theoretical basis of ‘scientific racism.’ Likewise, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s ‘culture of illegitimacy’ erased three centuries of race-based social repression to frame the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow as Black moral failures.

The charitable explanation is that this sort of ‘rational’ racism is prescriptive— an effort to right existing circumstances, rather than descriptive as misstatement of actual social history. However, the temporal sleight-of-hand of historical erasure comes straight from capitalist theory. By the early 1990s Bill and Hillary Clinton were using this temporal flattening to conflate the neoliberal theory that markets create a society where individual capacities and effort are rewarded with their programs that exacerbated existing social divisions through class warfare.

Graph: ‘participation rates’ are the percentages of given populations that are employed. With the caution that demographic differences explain some of the variability, the persistence of a lower Black Participation rate regardless of which political party is in power demonstrates the emotive (content-free) quality of party differentiation when it comes to race. In other words, the Democrat’s ‘opportunity society’ looks like Reagan’s / Trump’s ‘White backlash’ when it comes to institutional outcomes. The greater variability of the Black Participation Rate is cyclical, a sign of the relative vulnerability of Black employment. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve.

Of current relevance is the effort to explain Donald Trump’s election in terms of ‘White backlash.’ Both the Clintons and Barack Obama made a small number of rich people much richer while making working class and poor people poorer. From starting positions characterized by unresolved institutional racism— race-based social disadvantage, the Democrats’ economic policies rewarded and punished people by these starting positions and not by capacities and effort. The Democrats ‘meritocracy’ is in this way tautological, a low-budget restatement of Voltaire’s ‘best of all possible worlds.’

For displaced Democrats the theory of White backlash has obvious appeal— barely employed, barely educated hicks get their revenge for eight years of America’s first Black president passing virtuous and inclusive policies. Questions like why a number of Americans sufficient to elect Mr. Trump are barely educated and barely employed eight years into a Democrat administration and economic ‘recovery’ are left for the communists. (The bourgeois and the rich vote— they elected Mr. Trump). And in fact, recent research supports the contention that millions of workers were forced to exit labor ‘markets’ during Mr. Obama’s tenure due to a lack of jobs.

This isn’t to dismiss the theory of backlash entirely. Amongst the 16% of the population that voted for Mr. Trump ((eligible voters / population) X 27% eligible who voted Trump), some fair portion may well be ideologically committed racists. Furthermore, American history is full of political opportunists periodically exacerbating racial tensions to divide working people and the poor and distract attention away from capitalist predations. The problem for Democrats with charging dim jackass Trump with racial opportunism is that the Clintons mastered that game some twenty years ago.

Graph: capital, a remarkably sore subject in economics despite its place at the theoretical core of capitalism, is well described as control over social resources— in particular, productive resources. The neoliberal epoch has placed most wealth, and with it control over social resources, in a small number of overwhelmingly White hands. The difference between average and median wealth is a measure of this concentration. Through deregulation, financialization, globalization and the concentration of corporate power in the executive suites, Bill Clinton helped build this system of wealth concentration. Through bailouts of Wall Street Barack Obama restored it to power. As the graph suggests, ‘opportunity’ is a non sequitur when a few connected White people own all of the resources. Source: Economic Policy Institute.

The oft-uttered contention that the Clintons are mere racial opportunists while Mr. Trump is a real racist ignores that the Clintons pushed some of the most destructively racist legislation in American history. The argument that they (the Clintons) shouldn’t be held to account for legislation they supported undermines the base precept of legal liability used to write it. In other words, the Clinton apologia appears to be that they shouldn’t be held to account but the several million poor Blacks imprisoned under legislation they supported should have been. And there is no hyperbole in linking the language, structure and intent of the 1994 Crime Bill to Nazi Law through precedents in Jim Crow.

Finally, the ‘backlash’ thesis proceeds from the premise that there was something worthy of backlash against. There was celebration around the globe when Barack Obama was elected in 2008. And Republicans did spend the next eight years proclaiming that his neoliberal (state-capitalist) policies were ‘socialist.’ But the debased state of American political discourse hardly makes this so. The more descriptively accurate term for a politician who bails out Wall Street, passes a ‘market-based’ health insurance sales scheme, pushes high-capitalist trade agreements and works to cut social spending is ‘Republican.’

None of this is to give dim tool Trump a pass for fanning the flames of hatred and intolerance. It is to argue that the premise of difference, and therefore that there is refuge in the Democrat Party, is based on ignorance, wishful thinking and delusion. As vile as Mr. Trump is, the governing ideology of the national Democrats’ (paging Antonio Gramsci) revivifies White nationalism through reifying starting positions of asymmetrical economic power (graph above). Race and class repression have grown in lockstep with resurgent capitalism supported most effectively by national Democrats.

Ultimately neoliberalism is for those hearty souls who took Margaret Thatcher’s (and Ayn Rand’s) brain-farts seriously. From Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street, she appears to have confused prescriptive with descriptive in the sense laid out above— she believed the educated fools in $3,000 suits who had just killed the global economy were capable of running the world because they still had jobs. This is the very same ‘creative class’ that Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street to save. It also fits Donald Trump’s preference for ‘winners’ over people otherwise able to do a job.

The difference between living in a flawed capitalist democracy and a relentlessly oppressive totalitarian shithole depends more the social space that one occupies than pre-modern social apologetics. The tautological conception of merit favored by national Democrats implies that Blacks suffer from institutional racism because of some deficiency inherent to Blackness. The American ruling class favors this tautology because it legitimates the concentration of wealth and power under the illusion of merit. Neoliberalism, the governing ethos of Washington, links three centuries of White nationalism to capitalism through this circular social apologetics.

Last, a new article in The Nation gives substantive backing to the long held contention that the ‘Russian hacking’ story is complete and utter bullshit. As Julian Assange and others contemporaneously argued, DNC emails were gotten through a leak— through an inside job, and not through a hack by malevolent outsiders. A quick bet is that this will ultimately do for national Democrats what the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ fraud did for the Bushies and the New York Times. The larger question is why grift-o-crats use short-con fabrications when they will still be in full view when the con falls apart? To save the suspense, these are enthusiastically not-gifted people. So much for a meritocracy.

By Rob Urie/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump Wants to Slash All Research Funds—Except for Military

President Donald Trump’s budget would slash nearly one in four dollars spent on science research at federal agencies, affecting study of everything from faster airport screening to protecting people from earthquakes and storms, and investigating new drinking water contaminants.

Trump’s proposal targets every federal department for cuts – except the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs, where research funding would increase substantially.

Overall, Trump’s budget would eliminate more than $30.6 billion, or nearly 21 percent, of research and development funding in fiscal year 2018 compared with 2016, when the Obama administration budgeted $148.3 billion. Adjusted for inflation, those cuts would reach almost 24 percent.

The biggest loser would be the Environmental Protection Agency, which would surrender 46.3 percent, or $239 million, of its research and development funds. Five others also face double-digit blows: the departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Interior, Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Details of the potential impacts on the federal government’s scientific and engineering research are outlined in a new Congressional Research Service report that analyzed 12 major federal departments and agencies, and compared them with fiscal year 2016, the latest year available for a governmentwide comparison.

Robert Cowin of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a research and advocacy group, said the report reveals a clear pattern of White House hostility to the government’s role in science on topics as critical as water supplies, space, oceans, renewable energy, diseases, weather and earthquakes.

“That’s troubling, given all the benefits that we’ve enjoyed from that (research),” Cowin said.

For instance, the budget would trim a third of the funding for Department of Homeland Security research into making airport security screening faster and less intrusive for passengers while also being better at spotting terrorists.

The biggest winner in Trump’s research budget, the Defense Department, would account for almost half of all federal research and development spending, according to the report. The $84.4 billion proposal represents an increase of more than 18 percent in the Pentagon’s research, which ranges from medical topics to destroying chemical weapons and disarming roadside bombs in combat zones.

The only other federal agency that would receive a boost is the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the Congressional Research Service. VA research, such as projects related to the treatment and rehabilitation of injured veterans, would increase by 11 percent, or $135 million. Trump’s budget tells the VA to prioritize suicide prevention, pain management and opioid addiction.

Single-digit cuts would be in store for the departments of Commerce (6.8 percent) and Homeland Security (3.1 percent), as well as NASA (3.1 percent). At NASA, money would be stripped from Earth science and climate change research, and the maintenance of an Earth-observing satellite already built and launched with taxpayer dollars.

At the EPA, nearly half of the funds would disappear for researching air pollution, water contaminants, chemical safety, climate change and other areas related to protecting the environment and human health. One target: “Strengthening the science for drinking water and water-quality standards and guidance for new and emerging contaminants that threaten human health and aquatic ecosystems.”

The Energy Department’s investigations into efficiency and renewable energy would take major hits under Trump’s plan to cut its research budget by almost 12 percent.

Research into the health of the oceans, including fisheries and marine mammals, as well as science related to climate change and weather, would be cut at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Facing a 25 percent cut in research funding, the Agriculture Department would see several labs closed, research programs slashed or eliminated, and no funding for several grants to colleges, including its Women and Minorities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program. The Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey would have about 30 percent less money to research earthquakes and land use changes, according to the report.

The report focused on just one Department of Health and Human Services program, the National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest biomedical research funder, which would see a 21.5 percent decrease from 2017 under Trump’s budget, according to a report by the nongovernmental American Association for the Advancement of Science or AAAS.

So far, the House has rejected that, moving to increase NIH research money by 3.2 percent, according to the AAAS, signaling just one likely flashpoint in the fight ahead.

HHS Secretary Tom Price, whose department would lose 19 percent or $6.1 billion – the most research and development dollars of any in the government – said in May that Trump’s budget “outlines a clear path toward fiscal responsibility by creating efficiencies that both improve services and save money.” Even before action on the 2018 budget, Price has already eliminated the department’s funding for teen pregnancy prevention research.

Trump didn’t mention research and development or science in his budget message in May, but he said “we must scrutinize every dollar the federal government spends.”

“Just as families decide how to manage limited budgets, we must ensure the federal government spends precious taxpayer dollars only on our highest national priorities, and always in the most efficient, effective manner,” the president said.

For years, a cost-cutting Congress has been backing away from what had been a strong public commitment to innovation in energy, technology, health and the environment. Public investment in non-defense research and development has been essentially flat since 2004, except for a one-off boost from the 2009 stimulus act.

But the cuts in the Trump budget go far deeper than the belt-tightening Republicans in Congress have advocated.

In response, Congress is starting to push back, with House bills that contain more money than the president requested for specific programs, and Senate bills offering more than the House. At the EPA, for example, a House bill would reduce research by 14.4 percent rather than Trump’s 46.3 percent.

With the House and Senate recessed for August, Congress hasn’t agreed on a final budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1.

The AAAS says the congressional proposals risk violating statutory spending caps. The Budget Control Act of 2011, which President Barack Obama signed into law to resolve a federal debt standoff with Congress, requires annual cuts in discretionary spending through 2021. If cuts aren’t deep enough, that could trigger automatic, across-the-board cuts to all agencies.

To avoid that, Congress would have to reach a temporary deal to waive the caps, as it has done before.

“The bottom line is that much of what Congress has produced is not workable under current law,” Matt Hourihan, the AAAS research and development budget analysis director, wrote in another report on Aug. 1.

Energy research shows how Congress, while seeming generous compared with Trump, still would cut federal support in key areas. For example, Trump wants to reduce research funding for efficiency and renewables by nearly 70 percent from fiscal year 2017 levels, to $636 million, according to the AAAS. Some initiatives would be eliminated. In the House, that research funding would drop by 48 percent, to $1.086 billion. Even the Senate’s much larger figure, $1.937 billion, would be a 7.3 percent cut.

One of the smallest yet effective health research programs eliminated in Trump’s budget: the Fogarty International Center, which for 50 years has funded international health research. All $70 million for the center would disappear. The House, however, wants to keep the center alive, adding $3 million.

Without Fogarty’s support, some ongoing investigations in Peru, Brazil and Mexico into Zika, Chagas and dengue – diseases that are posing increased danger in the United States – would halt. Researchers say Fogarty, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, also has been vital in the fights against HIV and Ebola.

In an interview on the center’s website, Kenyan Dr. Ruth Nduati of the University of Nairobi, a former Fogarty trainee, said many people are alive today because of the U.S. funds.

“Fogarty has changed the face of HIV medicine,” she said.

By Randy Lee Loftis / Reveal

Who Is Responsible for Gentrification In HBCU Neighborhoods?

Gentrification. A term coined during the 1960s, it’s a concept that’s become hotly contested in recent years, described by Webster’s dictionary as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

The phenomenon has become a recurring theme across the country as urban areas once deemed unsuitable for affluent home buyers have become ground zero for new development.

Many students attend Texas Southern University, a ninety-year old institution in Houston’s historic Third Ward area, in search of an authentic Black college experience. But in recent years there’s been a change in the area surrounding the school, which has witnessed a decrease in its Black population. The percentage of African-American residents in the Greater Third Ward area dropped from 79 percent to 65 percent from 2000 to 2012 alone as the pace of change accelerated.

One of Houston’s six original wards, Third Ward was once described described by distinguished Clark Atlanta sociologist and former Texas Southern University dean Robert D. Bullard as “the city’s most diverse black neighborhood and a microcosm of the larger black Houston community.”

For years Third Ward served as a bustling hub of Black ownership in Houston, the Black-owned Unity National Bank and streets like Dowling, which once boasted over 150 stores during the 1950s. Roots run deep, with residents fiercely devoted to places like Emancipation Park, a community fixture founded by former slaves: Jack Yates, Richard Book, Richard Allen and Elias Dibble.

Due to limited resources, initially the park was only open to the public once a year for Juneteenth, a celebration of the effective end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation executive order declared their freedom. Since then it’s become an integral part of Third Ward’s history, serving as the only public swimming pool available to Black residents until integration during the 1950s.

The decline came gradually, after housing integration and upward mobility afforded wealthier Blacks the opportunity to move to newer subdivisions, leaving a number of dilapidated homes and shuttered businesses in their wake. Also at play was the construction of Highway 288, forcing a number of residents to give up their homes as construction expanded. As job opportunities began to dwindle, others began migrating from the area, creating a growing void in the neighborhood.

During an interview with the Houston Defender earlier this year, Gerald Womack, President and CEO of Womack Development & Investment Realtors explained, “Having ownership is important, and we have a lot of Black ownership in Third Ward. Unfortunately, many of these owners are grandchildren of the original owners, and live in other neighborhoods or out of state. Many see their properties as a burden or a drain on their finances rather than a plus. Many are selling these properties as the value goes up.”

The Defender also noted, “The vast majority of Third Ward’s Black businesses lease space, leaving them at the mercy of building owners who can increase the rent and price them out at a moment’s notice. Those that remain may find themselves dealing with a drastically different customer base.”

Meanwhile, vacancies have helped change the landscape of Third Ward, with homeowners increasingly pressed to sell their land to developers eager to insert luxury condos and townhouses into the area. Some 75 percent of residents are renters, but thanks to rates that rose nearly 5 percent from 2014 to 2015, many have found new properties out of their financial range.

For Texas Southern it’s meant a reduction of the very demographic that surrounds its campus. Once the only higher education option for African-American Houstonians, because of segregation the university has often been left to it’s own devices by Texas lawmakers, in favor of the larger — and more heavily endowed — University of Houston. Separated by only a few blocks, at times the two have competed for both land and resources, with TSU often on the losing end.

In a statement to the Houston Chronicle, John Nixon, a University of Houston law professor wrote, “What is happening in the Third Ward is a product of increased demand for inner city housing, developers who are willing to assemble land and build speculative houses to be offered to higher-income people willing to be pioneers in an area they previously shunned.”

For developers — all is fair in love and real estate — location factors heavily into the rush of new residents looking to get in on the ground floor of Third Ward’s revitalization efforts. Alyssa Gardner, a property sales representative, described the tactic to the Houston Chronicle as “We tell buyers that if you see something you like, snatch it up while you can. There are advantages to being on the edge of downtown.”

With the University of Houston actively buying up its own land in the area, officials like Texas Representative Garnet Coleman have started their own initiatives, teaming with local developers in an effort to buy land for affordable housing.

Residents are wary, with many able to recall the decline of the neighboring Fourth Ward. An early example of gentrification, for years residents fought to preserve the area once known as Freedman’s Town, founded by newly freed slaves. Settling along the flood-prone Buffalo Bayou, early residents worked hard to build their own community, paving their own bricks along hand-erected shanties.

Eager to protect the integrity of the community, for years residents fought to protect it, including a famous protest to retain Allen Parkway Village. Initially a whites-only property, thanks to integration it was later converted into a 963-unit public housing community.

Following a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the city of Houston demolished 677 units, under the provision that the site be used to provide low-income housing. The property was later added to the National Register of Historic Places, saving it from demolition, but other areas didn’t fare as well. In 1984, over 530 historic buildings had been registered: twenty years later, less than 30 remained.

After a series of losses at the hands of developers, Fourth Ward, which once boasted historic landmarks like West End Park — Houston’s first baseball venue for Negro leagues games — would see a sudden increase in mid-rise complexes and luxury properties in the late 1990s.

It’s a cautionary tale that former Houston Mayor Annise Parker described as “That was the downfall of Freedmen’s Town. That’s when most of the historic elements were moved or torn down so developers could put up townhouses.”

Even the 100-year-old bricks laid in Freedman’s Town came under fire, with some destroyed entirely, mistakenly dug up by city workers during drainage repairs last year. Yet another blow to a community still reeling from it’s erasure. 

While some homeowners were able to take advantage of rising property values and escape the concurrent rising tax bills, others were not, including those living in areas hit hard by the crack epidemic. Left a shell of its former self, eventually Fourth Ward was assimilated into the newly minted Midtown.

Fearing the erasure of their own community, members of Third Ward have come together in an effort to educate and assist residents, including organizations like the Sankofa Research Institute and Project Row Houses, who have worked to preserve the community and increase ownership throughout the Greater Third Ward area.

Depending upon whom you ask, Third Ward’s transformation has been long in the making, with some eager to revamp the shotgun-style houses that dot the area. As Third Ward has changed, neighborhoods previously shunned by white students and young couples have become a haven for those that wouldn’t even go near the area five years ago.

TSU graduate Linda Williams expressed her views on the area she once called home by saying, “With urban planning and development, much of the historical context of Houston’s Third Ward area has been taken over the past five years. It’s become a culture shock for many residents in the area and has caused financial frustration to those who are struggling to keep businesses open and afloat.”

While some businesses, including the longstanding Wolf’s Department Store, have managed to keep it together, others haven’t been as lucky, with spots like Dowling Theater long gone.

According to Roderick “Bass” Tillman, Program Director of Third Ward after-school program Workshop Houston, a number of school closures have also accelerated the issue. Following the closure of Ryan Middle School, students were forced to relocate to Cullen Middle, a nearby school in Houston’s southeast area.

“I’ve been here since 2011,” Tillman explained. “Since then, the middle school that most of our students come from has been closed. In Third Ward itself, you see less kids around, less population because most of it is under construction. I think kids are searching for answers. At first it was a no-brainer that they’d go to schools in their neighborhoods. Now they face tough decisions on where they can go, because those schools just don’t exist anymore,” he said.

But after years of declining properties and vacant lots, others are eager for fresh changes and revitalization to the area, including a recent $33 million redesign of the 11.7-acre Emancipation Park.

Citing the recent progress made in the area, former Third Ward resident Elliot Guidry shared his own thoughts about the situation, “Don’t we want better for ourselves?” Guidry said. “Is it a bad thing to want to see the neighborhood you were born and raised in get uplifted? For that matter, TSU has gotten a major facelift. I love seeing the evolution of my neighborhood.”

But for others, it’s not so simple, including Third Ward resident Hope Carter. Carter said, “I’m a fan of the revitalization of my neighborhood, but not to appease people who are coming in.

“They’re taking over in the name of progress, but at the same time making everything else too expensive for the people who already live there,” Carter added. “Older people are having their property values lowered because they can no longer see the skyline. I’m not mad at revitalization as long as the improvements are for people who live there. A lot of times it feels as if all of these improvements were intended for someone else.”

Houston is not alone. Exploring the effects of gentrification on neighborhoods surrounding black universities, NPR recently highlighted the erosion of the Black working class near Washington, D.C.’s famed Howard University.

Similar to Texas Southern — Howard’s improvements to impoverished areas in the neighborhood also a drew an influx of new faces  — causing rents and property values to rise as new construction brought wealthier residents in. For new students it’s meant a very different experience, as predominately black neighborhoods around a number of HBCUs continue to decrease.

It’s a reality that Darren Jones, president of the civic association in D.C.’s Pleasant Plains neighborhood, fears will become the new norm. The cost of living in an area now deemed a hot spot.

Addressing the difficulties facing property owners, he explained how his son has been affected. “His assessment is going to go from $400,000 to, well, maybe not $700,000, but something much higher,” Jones told NPR. “But the city is going to say your house is worth what the house is worth next door, which is not true because we can’t sell it for $700,000.”

Jones admitted that he is fearful for the future of his community, saying, “I’m afraid for my son because he grew up in this neighborhood and he would like to stay.”

Some cities are taking their own steps to address the effects of gentrification, including Houston, which rolled out a new program in April designed to revitalize a number of Houston areas, including Third Ward.

Unveiled by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Jones proclaimed, “This is going to be a signature of my administration because it is so important to the families who live in these neighborhoods.

“We must not be a city of haves and have-nots. Every Houstonian has a right to make the choice I have made and live in the neighborhood where he or she grew up. With a more focused approach that involves the communities as well as partners in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, we can transform these neighborhoods. We are going to do this while striving to preserve affordability for existing residents, and we will not leave until we know what we have done will have a high likelihood of success.”

While the resilience of Third Ward is undiminished, the ability to preserve itself is not. Ultimately, the community will need more than legislation to address the issue, including a multi-pronged approach that tackles comprehensive revitalization without compromising affordable housing or the rich history of it’s residents.

During an interview with Rice University’s Kinder Institute, Project Row House Executive Director Eureka Gilkey shared the work that lies ahead: “We can’t halt gentrification; it’s already happening — but we have an opportunity to change the way this process works.

By Cecilia Smith/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Anything Goes When You’re a Cop in America

“There is one criminal justice system for citizens—especially black and brown ones—and another for police in the United States.”

—Redditt Hudson, former St. Louis police officer

President Trump needs to be reminded that no one is above the law, especially the police.

Unfortunately, Trump and Jeff Sessions, head of the Justice Department (much like their predecessors) appear to have few qualms about giving police the green light to kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order.

Between Trump’s pandering to the police unions and Sessions’ pandering to Trump, this constitutionally illiterate duo has opened the door to a new era of police abuses.

As senior editor Adam Serwer warns in The Atlantic,

“When local governments violate the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Americans are supposed to be able to look to the federal government to protect those rights. Sessions has made clear that when it comes to police abuses, they’re now on their own. This is the principle at the heart of ‘law and order’ rhetoric: The authorities themselves are bound by neither.”

Brace yourselves: things are about to get downright ugly.

By shielding police from charges of grave misconduct while prosecuting otherwise law-abiding Americans for the most trivial “offenses,” the government has created a world in which there are two sets of laws: one set for the government and its gun-toting agents, and another set for you and me.

No matter which way you spin it, “we the people” are always on the losing end of the deal.

If you’re a cop in the American police state, you can now break the law in a myriad of ways without suffering any major, long-term consequences.

Indeed, not only are cops protected from most charges of wrongdoing—whether it’s shooting unarmed citizens (including children and old people), raping and abusing young women, falsifying police reports, trafficking drugs, or soliciting sex with minors—but even on the rare occasions when they are fired for misconduct, it’s only a matter of time before they get re-hired again.

For example, Oregon police officer Sean Sullivan was forced to resign after being accused of “grooming” a 10-year-old girl for a sexual relationship. A year later, Sullivan was hired on as a police chief in Kansas.

St. Louis police officer Eddie Boyd III was forced to resign after a series of incidents in which he “pistol-whipped a 12-year-old girl in the face in 2006, and in 2007 struck a child in the face with his gun or handcuffs before falsifying a police report,” he was quickly re-hired by another Missouri police department.

As The Washington Post reports: “

In the District, police were told to rehire an officer who allegedly forged prosecutors’ signatures on court documents. In Texas, police had to reinstate an officer who was investigated for shooting up the truck driven by his ex-girlfriend’s new man. In Philadelphia, police were compelled to reinstate an officer despite viral video of him striking a woman in the face. In Florida, police were ordered to reinstate an officer fired for fatally shooting an unarmed man.”

Much of the “credit” for shielding these rogue cops goes to influential police unions and laws providing for qualified immunity, police contracts that “provide a shield of protection to officers accused of misdeeds and erect barriers to residents complaining of abuse,” state and federal laws that allow police to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing, and rampant cronyism among government bureaucrats.

Whether it’s at the federal level with President Trump, Congress and the Judiciary, or at the state and local level, those deciding whether a police officer should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils and judges.

It’s a pretty sweet deal if you can get it, I suppose: protection from the courts, immunity from wrongdoing, paid leave while you’re under investigation, the assurance that you won’t have to spend a dime of your own money in your defense, the removal of disciplinary charges from your work file, and then the high probability that you will be rehired and returned to the streets.

It’s a chilling prospect, isn’t it?

According to the New York Times, “Some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers may have drifted from police department to police department even after having been fired, forced to resign or convicted of a crime.”

It’s not safe to be one of the “little people” in the American police state.

Consider what happened in San Antonio, Texas.

In 2006, police officer Jackie Neal was accused of putting his hands inside a woman’s panties, lifting up her shirt and feeling her breasts during a routine traffic stop. He remained on the police force. In 2007, Neal was accused of digitally penetrating another woman. Still, he wasn’t fired or disciplined.

In 2013, Neal—then serving as supervisor of the department’s youth program—was suspended for three days for having sex with a teenage girl participating in the program. As Reuters reports, “Neal never lost a dime in pay or a day off patrol: The union contract allowed him to serve the suspension using vacation days.”

Later that same year, Neal was arrested on charges that he handcuffed a woman in the rear seat of his police vehicle and then raped her. He was eventually fined $5,000 and sentenced to 14 months in prison, with five months off for “work and education.” The taxpayers of San Antonio got saddled with $500,000 to settle the case.

Now here’s the kicker: when the local city council attempted to amend the police union contract to create greater accountability for police misconduct, the police unions flexed their muscles and engaged in such a heated propaganda campaign that the city backed down.

It’s happening all across the country.

This is how perverse justice in America has become.

Our Bill of Rights has been torn to shreds, and the cops have replaced it with their own Bill of Rights: the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), which protects them from being subjected to the kinds of debilitating indignities heaped upon the average citizen.

Incredibly, while our own protections against government abuses continue to be dismantled, a growing number of states are adopting LEOBoRs—written by police unions—which provides police officers accused of a crime with special due process rights and privileges not afforded to the average citizen.

In other words, the LEOBoR protects police officers from being treated as we are treated during criminal investigations: questioned unmercifully for hours on end, harassed, harangued, browbeaten, denied food, water and bathroom breaks, subjected to hostile interrogations, and left in the dark about our accusers and any charges and evidence against us.

Not only are officers given a 10-day “cooling-off period” during which they cannot be forced to make any statements about the incident, but when they are questioned, it must be “for a reasonable length of time, at a reasonable hour, by only one or two investigators (who must be fellow policemen), and with plenty of breaks for food and water.”

According to investigative journalist Eli Hager, the most common rights afforded police officers accused of wrongdoing are as follows:

+ If a department decides to pursue a complaint against an officer, the department must notify the officer and his union.

+ The officer must be informed of the complainants, and their testimony against him, before he is questioned.

+ During questioning, investigators may not harass, threaten, or promise rewards to the officer, as interrogators not infrequently do to civilian suspects.

+ Bathroom breaks are assured during questioning.

+ In Maryland, the officer may appeal his case to a “hearing board,” whose decision is binding, before a final decision has been made by his superiors about his discipline. The hearing board consists of three of the suspected offender’s fellow officers.

+ In some jurisdictions, the officer may not be disciplined if more than a certain number of days (often 100) have passed since his alleged misconduct, which limits the time for investigation.

+ Even if the officer is suspended, the department must continue to pay salary and benefits, as well as the cost of the officer’s attorney.

+ These LEOBoRs epitomize everything that is wrong with America today.

As Redditt Hudson, a former St. Louis police officer, noted,

“We all know – either from personal experience or the experience of someone close to us – that there are officers that will violate citizens’ human rights and civil liberties with impunity and who are comfortable in the knowledge that the system will protect and cover for their actions… These inequities have led, inexorably, to the current national crisis in police-community relations – and the best way forward is to make sure we severely punish officers that violate the rights of the citizens they serve. They must be held accountable for their actions.”

Now once in a while, the system appears to work on the side of justice.

Every so often, police officers engaged in wrongdoing are actually charged for abusing their authority and using excessive force against American citizens.

And occasionally, those officers are even sentenced for their crimes against the citizenry.

Yet in just about every case, it’s still the American taxpayer who foots the bill.

For example, Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees.

New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $1,130 per year per police officer (there are 34,500 officers in the NYPD) to address charges of misconduct. That translates to $38 million every year just to clean up after these so-called public servants.

Over a 10-year-period, Oakland, Calif., taxpayers were made to cough up more than $57 million (curiously enough, the same amount as the city’s deficit back in 2011) in order to settle accounts with alleged victims of police abuse.

Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day alone to victims of police misconduct, with one person slated to receive $22.5 million, potentially the largest single amount settled on any one victim. The City has paid more than half a billion dollars to victims over the course of a decade. The Chicago City Council actually had to borrow $100 million just to pay off lawsuits arising over police misconduct in 2013. The city’s payout for 2014 was estimated to be in the same ballpark, especially with cases pending such as the one involving the man who was reportedly sodomized by a police officer’s gun in order to force him to “cooperate.”

Over 78% of the funds paid out by Denver taxpayers over the course of a decade arose as a result of alleged abuse or excessive use of force by the Denver police and sheriff departments.

That’s just a small sampling of the most egregious payouts, but just about every community—large and small—feels the pinch when it comes to compensating victims who have been subjected to deadly or excessive force by police.

The ones who rarely ever feel the pinch are the officers accused or convicted of wrongdoing, “even if they are disciplined or terminated by their department, criminally prosecuted, or even imprisoned.”

In fact, police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be held financially accountable for their actions.

A study published in the NYU Law Review reveals that 99.8% of the monies paid in settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases never come out of the officers’ own pockets, even when state laws require them to be held liable. Moreover, these officers rarely ever have to pay for their own legal defense.

For instance, law professor Joanna C. Schwartz references a case in which three Denver police officers chased and then beat a 16-year-old boy, stomping “on the boy’s back while using a fence for leverage, breaking his ribs and causing him to suffer kidney damage and a lacerated liver.”

The cost to Denver taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $885,000. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Kathryn Johnston, 92 years old, was shot and killed during a SWAT team raid that went awry. Attempting to cover their backs, the officers falsely claimed Johnston’s home was the site of a cocaine sale and went so far as to plant marijuana in the house to support their claim.

The cost to Atlanta taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $4.9 million. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, a police officer was convicted of raping a woman in his police car, in addition to sexually assaulting four other women and girls, physically abusing two additional women, and kidnapping or falsely imprisoning five men and boys.

The cost to the Albuquerque taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $1,000,000. The amount the officer contributed: 0.

Human Rights Watch notes that taxpayers actually pay three times for officers who repeatedly commit abuses: “once to cover their salaries while they commit abuses; next to pay settlements or civil jury awards against officers; and a third time through payments into police ‘defense’ funds provided by the cities.”

Still, the number of times a police officer is actually held accountable for wrongdoing while on the job is miniscule compared to the number of times cops are allowed to walk away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster.

“In a democratic society,” observed Oakland police chief Sean Whent, “people have a say in how they are policed.”

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, America is a constitutional republic, not a democracy, which means that “we the people” not only have a say in how we are policed—we are the chiefs of police.

By John W. Whitehead/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘We’re after leakers, not journalists’: DOJ defends crackdown on leaks of classified info

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said his office is to “respond appropriately” to the issue of increasing leaks in the US, and warned there is a possibility that reporters, not just their sources, might be held accountable.

“We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs. We look at the facts and circumstances of each case and we determine whether somebody has committed a crime and whether it’s appropriate to hold them accountable for it,” Rosenstein said in an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday.’

However, he said, there might be some exceptions where a reporter might become a suspect in a leak case as well as its source.

“Generally speaking, reporters who publish information are not committing a crime. But there might be a circumstance where they do. You know, I haven’t seen any of those today, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the event that there were a case where a reporter was purposely violating the law, then they might be a suspect as well,” he said.

A new unit within the FBI has been created “to focus on those leaks,” he said, adding that the government is “going to devote whatever resources are necessary to get them under control.”

“Criminal prosecution isn’t the only way to prevent leaks, but it’s an important part of the solution,” he said.

“We’re after the leakers, not the journalist,” the deputy attorney general claimed, adding that the Justice Department has not yet revised any policies with regard to reporters.

Earlier this week, his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, described the issue of leaks in the country as a threat to national security, warning of a possible crackdown on those who are spreading information illegally.

“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” Sessions warned, promising to step up legal procedures to hold journalists accountable for disseminating sensitive information.

“One of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas” which would force journalists to testify in court and potentially produce evidence, Sessions explained.

Under the US’ shield law, journalists are protected under “reporters’ privilege,” which gives them the legal right not to reveal confidential sources or other information that would hinder news gathering activity.

The attorney general also revealed that the Justice Department has tripled the number of investigations into unauthorized leaks, charging four people with crimes so far. The department has received almost as many criminal referrals over leaks as over the past three years combined, Sessions told reporters Friday.

Sessions also noted that it is the responsibility of government agency workers to stop leaking information which concerns national security. “This culture of leaking must stop,” Sessions stated.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Comformist