Archive | July 24th, 2020

Trump and the GOP Are Sacrificing Working People for Political Gain

Instead of protecting people, Senator Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy—backed by the White House—are working hard to impose corporate immunity—ensuring negligent employers can’t be held responsible for failing to follow basic safety rules.

by: Liz Watson

A nurse attends a protest, organised by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) in front of the National Holdings Corporation on May 8, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

A nurse attends a protest, organised by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) in front of the National Holdings Corporation on May 8, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States is currently seeing the most coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Dr. Anthony Fauci just warned that the U.S. could soon reach 100,000 new cases each day. And across every age group, people of color, especially Black and Native people, are being infected and dying at much higher rates.

Cases are surging because we’re reopening without adequate public health protections. At least 17 states that had begun reopening are shutting back down. It’s no coincidence that the same states that were the last to shut down and the first to reopen are experiencing the most alarming spikes. 

The U.S. has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other nation, largely due to a series of blunders in the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis. In response to rising cases, President Trump encouraged his team to “slow down the testing” because the numbers made him look bad.

“Getting back to normal as fast as possible must not be the goal. ‘Normal’ is an economy where working people take all the risks but get no reward.”

The Trump Administration has done shockingly little to contain this crisis. Public health experts have laid out a clear plan for getting Americans back to work safely that includes mass testing, contact tracing, and isolation, as well as putting an enforceable OSHA standard in place to protect people at work. President Trump has followed exactly none of these recommendations. 

Reopening without mass testing and enforceable safety rules on the job will be a death sentence for countless Americans.

The naked political calculus behind reopening without first protecting our health is chilling. If people go back to work and life looks more “normal” by November, President Trump and the Republicans wager they have a better chance at winning the election. And they’re willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of American lives to achieve that outcome.

Even after the economy reopens, many white-collar and wealthier workers will likely continue to telework for months to come. Meanwhile, health care, manufacturing, food service, childcare, and many other hourly workers will go back to jobs that simply can’t be done from home. In polling from late March, 56% of high-income workers reported working from home, as compared to only 25% of low-income workers. Low-income workers—who are disproportionately black, brown, and—will go back because they need a paycheck.

Instead of protecting people, Senator Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy are working hard to impose corporate immunity—ensuring negligent employers can’t be held responsible for failing to follow basic safety rules. They want to weaken corporations’ incentives to keep workers safe on the job at exactly the time when workers need these protections the most.

Leading progressive Democrats have other ideas. Democrats Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Andy Levin proposed a “containment corps” to immediately ramp up the mass contact tracing that public health experts insist will save the lives of millions of Americans.

House Democrats passed an enforceable OSHA standard requiring employers to work with their employees to develop appropriate safety standards in each workplace, not let employers shirk responsibility in the now-stalled Heroes Act.

President Trump’s so-called plan to reopen the economy tells states they are on their own. In contrast, Democratic Congressman Raskin’s Reopen America Act asks HHS to determine that states’ reopening plans take appropriate measures to safeguard public health and then supplies states with the funding necessary to implement those plans. This is what it looks like when our government invests in people, rather than treating the most vulnerable among us as disposable.

And rather than threatening to kick people off unemployment insurance if they refuse to return to work before it’s safe, as some states are now doing, we need solutions like Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s Paycheck Recovery Act, that allow workers to keep their paychecks and keep their health care benefits until they can safely go back–lessening the economic pressure on working families and buying time to put much-needed safety measures in place. We need solutions like Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan’s proposed expansion of unemployment compensation to employees who go back to work on a reduced schedule, making it easier to preserve social distancing on the job. Solutions like Senator Warren and Congressman Khanna’s proposal to increase pay and provide safety and health protections for essential workers, and solutions like continued long-term unemployment insurance. 

Getting back to normal as fast as possible must not be the goal. “Normal” is an economy where working people take all the risks but get no reward. “Normal” is an economy where workers of color consistently finish last. We need leaders who are committed to building a better, more resilient and just nation out of the ashes of this crisis. We can start with the simple premise that no matter what we look like, where we live, or what’s in our wallets, none of us are disposable.

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‘This Is Horrendous’: US Military Confirms Bayonets Were Issued to Troops Responding to George Floyd Protests

“It is insane to issue bayonets to soldiers for crowd control.”

by: Jake Johnson,

A protester raises her hands near a line of National Guard soldiers deployed near the White House on June 1, 2020. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

“Are they supposed to stab protesters?”

That was Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D-Calif.) response Thursday to a letter by the highest-ranking military officer in the United States confirming that bayonets were issued to some of the troops deployed to the nation’s capital last month as part of the Trump administration’s effort to crack down on demonstrators protesting the police killing of George Floyd.

“It is difficult for us to imagine a circumstance which could necessitate or justify the deployment of bayonets against American civilians.”
—Reps. Ted Lieu and Raja Krishnamoorthi
Faced with questions from Lieu and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley admitted that members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment were given bayonets for their June 2 deployment to Washington, D.C.

The solidiers were told that the weapons could not enter the capital “without clear orders and only after nonlethal options were first reviewed,” according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of Milley’s letter.

Krishnamoorthi and Lieu thanked Milley for his response but voiced concern over the general’s refusal to commit to banning the potentially deadly practice in the future.

“It is difficult for us to imagine a circumstance which could necessitate or justify the deployment of bayonets against American civilians,” the Democratic lawmakers said in a statement.


Ted Lieu@tedlieu
US House candidate, CA-33It is insane to issue bayonets to soldiers for crowd control. Are they supposed to stab protestors? Americans are not the enemy. @CongressmanRaja & I are demanding @DeptofDefense & @thejointstaff to commit to never do this again in the future.

Sarah Blake Morgan@StorytellerSBMAP EXCLUSIVE: In a letter, Gen. Milley confirmed some soldiers mobilized to DC last month were issued bayonets. Defense documents also show some were not trained in riot response. Full story from ⁦@JimLaPorta⁩ and myself


Public Citizen@Public_CitizenThis is horrendous.

Sarah Blake Morgan@StorytellerSBMAP EXCLUSIVE: In a letter, Gen. Milley confirmed some soldiers mobilized to DC last month were issued bayonets. Defense documents also show some were not trained in riot response. Full story from ⁦@JimLaPorta⁩ and myself

https://apnews.com/62e1aa26fe5043a63441dcacea70703e

https://apnews.com/62e1aa26fe5043a63441dcacea70703e…9:29 PM · Jul 2, 2020

In a letter (pdf) to Milley last month, Krishnamoorthi and Lieu demanded answers following a June 2 AP report which noted that soldiers deployed to D.C. in response to mass demonstrations “are armed and have riot gear as well as bayonets.”

“The prospect of troops deployed with bayonets in response to demonstrations, regardless of anyone’s intentions, raises the alarming specter of past demonstrations that have escalated and left unarmed protesters wounded,” the lawmakers wrote. “While the tragic events in 1970 at Kent State University are most remembered for four students killed by National Guardsmen, the escalation and violence leading up to and following those killings included those same troops meeting peaceful demonstrators with bayonets and leaving several wounded.”

“Less than a week later at University of New Mexico,” Krishnamoorthi and Lieu continued, “demonstrations in response to Kent State escalated after protesters were met with Guardsmen who no longer carried live ammunition but instead wounded 11 people with bayonets, including a bystander and a local news photographer.”

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HAPPY EID

Eid Ul Adha
Eid Ul Adha will fall on Friday 31st July and is a day that will be celeb- rated by Muslims worldwide. I firstly want to take the opportunity to wish the Muslim communities of Hall Green Constituency an early EID Mubarak and hope you are able to find the time to celebrate with your families.

As we know, things are that little bit more difficult this year with Covid still restricting some of the things we all used to do and take for granted. This brings me to the evening before EID ,in this case Thursday 30th July. I am conscious that people may want to come and visit the Ladypool Road area for family celebrations and to eat out. West Midlands Police wants to support this as long as Covid guidelines are being adhered to.

What we have seen though , is  Anti Social behaviour and noise levels that do impact on the local community. Typically this involves cars and younger people who come to the area revving engines and blowing horns into the early hours. This is an activity that we would urge the commu- nity to refrain from. It does cross the line of Anti Social behaviour and impacts the lives of the local community that include the elderly and young children.

I would urge people not to celebrate in this particular way and refrain from attending the Ladypool Road area in cars with the sole intention of making noise and driving in an anti social manner.

I have planned the policing operation for the area for the evening which will include police ANPR operations and officers on duty until the early hours of the morning to deal with this problem should it arise.

We do want people to enjoy themselves, but Anti Social behaviour cannot be tolerated.

Thankyou

Inspector Neil Kirkpatrick
Hall Green Constituency
Message Sent By
Neil Kirkpatrick (Police,Inspector,BE Hall Green)

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Roaming Charges: Mutiny of the Bounties!

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Mujahideen in Afghanistan with Stinger missiles provided by CIA.

+ If I recall, there were serious discussions inside the White House about turning the Afghan War into a bounty hunting operation led by mercenaries on contract with Erik Prince. I’m pretty sure many elements of that scheme have been in place since 1979 at the beginning Carter’s secret war and have continued in one way or another over the last 40 years.

+ Around 15,000 Soviet troops perished in the Afghan War between 1979 and 1989. The US funneled more than $20 billion to the Mujahideen and other anti-Soviet fighters over that same period. This works out to a “bounty” of $1.33 million for each Soviet soldier killed.

+ The CIA has often paid its “bounties” in Afghanistan in a universal currency called opium…

+ More people are dying of COVID in the US every two hours than US troops have died in Afghanistan in the last two YEARS. More US citizens have been killed by police since George Floyd was murdered than US troops have died in combat in Afghanistan in the last five YEARS.

+ If the bounty story is true (and there are many, many reasons to suspect it’s not), then the Russian didn’t get a great ROI. Only 9 US troops have died in Afghanistan in 2020, 2 by roadside IED, 2 more in a plane crash.

+ According to a report in the NYT, “even in those face-to-face meetings, [Trump] is particularly difficult to brief on national security matters. He often relies instead on conservative media and friends for information, current and former intelligence officials have said.”

+ They made cartoons to brief Reagan and Nancy consulted her astrologer before any major decision. Bill Clinton was so disinterested he turned foreign policy over to Al Gore, who made a snap decision to enter the Balkans war after his daughter Karenna badgered her father over why the US wasn’t intervening, after she saw a photo of an atrocity in Srebrenica that had appeared on the front-page of the Washington Post.

+ Trump wasn’t the only president to skim his PDBs…

+ The Forever War Party: House Democrats, working with Liz Cheney, are moving to restrict Trump’s planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Germany.

+ It’s always the bi-partisan policies that need to come with a warning label…

+ Obama’s former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the perjurer, says that Russians are “genetically to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever.” Maybe Clapper and Charles Murray can start a new eugenics think tank…

+ I guess if you can rehabilitate W. and John Bolton, you can lionize Liz Cheney as the new (gorgon) face of the Resistance© …

+ Hundreds of former George W. Bush officials and staffers have joined together to form a pro-Biden PAC, called 43 Alumni for Biden. Mission Accomplished!

+ If this statement by Adam Schiff is a thought experiment, it failed…


Kyle Griffin@kylegriffin1
Schiff: “If the intel community had intel along the lines that is publicly reported and the President is getting on the phone with Vladimir Putin time after time, and is welcoming Putin the U.S. and back in the G8, this is information I think would be negligent to keep from him.”4:00 PM · Jun 30, 2020

+ Hannah Arendt: “Evil comes from a failure to think.”

+ What springs from a planned failure to think?

+ Chuck Schumer: “We need in this coming defense bill… tough sanctions against Russia.” Will someone tell the Senator from Citibank that what the people need is health care, a monthly check, debt relief and rent abatement. We don’t need a war with Russia. Put a mask on and a cork in it.

+ Pelosi: “With Trump, all roads lead to Putin.” It’s pretty clear to me that Trump is a human cul-de-sac, where all roads lead to and from Trump.

+ RussiaGate is the Democrats’ version of Trump’s “caravan”, aways coming never arriving…

+ Move over Condi Rice & John Bolton, there’s a new contender for Biden’s cabinet…


Liz Cheney@Liz_CheneyDick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks

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+ Apparently, many liberals can’t wait to go back to sleep so that their own president can gut welfare, reignite the drug war, force everyone to buy crappy insurance instead of giving them universal health care, drone (pick a country) & turn the economy over to Wall St without troubling their conscience…


Elie Mystal@ElieNYCThe thing I’m honestly looking forward to in a @JoeBiden Presidency is the opportunity to go 48 consecutive business hours without noticing the President of the United States.9:29 PM · Jun 26, 2020

+ Clint Lorance had been in command of 1st Platoon for only three days in Afghanistan, but in that brief time he committed a war crime a day. On his last day in Afghanistan, Lorance ordered his troops to open fire on three Afghan men standing near  a motorcycle on the side of the road. A military court convicted Lorance of second degree murder. Then, to the dismay of those in his platoon, Trump declared Lorance a national hero and pardoned him

+ Trump may idolize the Confederate Generals, but in his war against COVID he’s performing more like General McClellan: indecisive, passive, racking up huge losses day after day, as his opponent runs rampant across terrain he once considered secure.

+ According to Gen. Dave Goldfein, chief of the Air Force, it’s either conventional weapons or new nuclear weapons. There’s not enough cash ($718 B) “in the current budget to allow you to do both.”

+ At least eight nuclear nations have detonated 2,056 nuclear test explosions since 1945, half of those were conducted by the United States.

+ Bernie Sanders made a big show this week of calling for a 10 percent reduction in the Pentagon’s budget. But since there’s no chance of cutting the Pentagon’s budget by 10 percent, why not demand what we really need? A cut of 65%? The Clinton post-Cold War military budget for FY 96 was $263 billion which most progressives considered much too high. Last year’s budget exceeded $738 billion.

+ As it turned out, only 7 senators voted against cloture for the FY 2021 NDAA (Pentagon budget): Harris, Markey, Merkley, Murphy, Sanders, Warren and Wyden. It’s up to Trump now…

+ If Trump follows through with his veto threat on the Pentagon spending bill over an amendment to strip the names of Confederate generals from US military bases, it’ll be the Confederates’ most decisive win over the Army of the Potomac since the Battle of Chancellorsville…

+ Van Jones seems like a shoe-in for winning the Donna Brazile Award at next year’s Emmys…

Andrew Kirell@AndrewKirellCNN star Van Jones helped Jared Kushner craft Trump’s toothless police reform. He then went on CNN and praised it, never once disclosing that he worked on it. Exclusive from @TheLloydGrove.

+ This is somehow more sinister than Kanye’s visit to the White House, where it was clear that he was having some kind of, shall we say, “episode”…

Van Jones@VanJones68When I say #NeverTrump, I don’t mean THIS Trump. #NerdProm#WHCD#cnn@cnn@EricTrump

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+ I’m old enough to remember when remember when Van Jones said that Trump was finally beginning to “act Presidential,” after his first speech to Congress on March 1, 2017, after the president gave made-for-prime-time tribute to a soldier killed in a botched raid in Niger that he had ordered…

+ Joe Biden on desegregation in 1977: “Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point.”

+ Researchers posing as black prospective tenants in Boston were shown fewer apartments than whites, and found that real estate agents cut off contact when the renters gave Black-sounding names like “Lakisha,” “Tyrone,” or “Kareem.”

+ 70: the number of people who have died in police custody after saying “I can’t breathe,” most of whom were stopped for minor infractions or on mental health checks.

+ Here’s Florida’s Matt Gaetz, committing yet another TUI (Tweeting Under the Influence)…

+ 2020 is turning out to be a very big year for Karl Marx…

+ The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon will be on the NYT bestseller list next week, if they keep up this kind of promotion…

+ According to a review of police records conducted by the Chicago Reader, between May 29 and 31, the Chicago Police Department made 2,172 arrests, over 70 percent, were of Black, 16 percent of those detained were categorized as Hispanic and 18 percent as Asian or Pacific Islander. Only 10 percent arrested by CPD over that period were white. Yet, Chicago is not majority Black city, with just 32 percent of its population identifying as Black and 45 percent as white.

+ We’ve heard the argument that police are necessary to prevent violence from taking place. Yet over the last month, we’ve witnessed hundreds, if not thousands, of acts of violence committed by individual cops while other police watched and refused to intervene.

+ As AOC has pointed out, nearly half of the $1 billion in “cuts” to the NYPD budget amount to merely a shift of officers to other agencies, and another 30% are “projected cuts” in overtime pay.

+ In 2015, Colorado Gov. John Frackenlooper, who just won the Democratic nomination for the US senate, flew on the Atlanta Brave’s private jet to an antelope killing contest in Wyoming, where he was photographed in “redface” and fake Native America clothing.

+ Right direction / wrong track numbers (often the most telling assessment of coming elections) from the Morning Consult poll should be devastating for both parties:

MARCH 2020
39% right direction
54% wrong track

JULY 2020
18% right direction
74% wrong track

+ Texas was one of the first states in the nation to ease physical distancing mandates. In Houston, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has quadrupled since Memorial Day.

+ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who seems to be auditioning for the role of the next Bond villain, told reporters on Tuesday that the state will not reinstate restrictions or close businesses to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has now surpassed 10,000 new cases a day.

+ Sen. Rick Scott (Moron-FL): “No one in America should buy products made in Communist China.” Can we have an inventory of the items in Scott’s office, house, closet and yacht?

+ The editors of the OED have called an emergency session to prepare an entry redefining “Communism”…

+ Florida is a state run by morons and people who pretend to be morons in order to appeal to other morons.

+ Mike Pence is simply too ludicrous to have been a convincing character in 1984, but he might have had a cameo in Animal Farm…

+ As vice president, Mike Pence has done a lot to increase the reputation of fellow Hoosier Dan Quayle as a deep thinker…

+ One flew into the cuckoo’s nest: Pence, who refers to his wife as Mother, has now taken to calling Trump his “father.

+ When the Founders contemplated “choice” in health care, it was between bloodletting with a lancet or a leech…

+ Why is the COVID-19 death count so much lower than some researchers expected? Short answer: they haven’t been counting all the COVID-19 deaths. According to a new study of excess mortality from Yale, the actual number is probably 28% higher than the official tally, which would put the real death toll in the US close to 165,000.

+ More than 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada are from long-term care facilities and retirement homes, according to a new analysis from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

+ Trump on resurgence of virus as cases are spiking in several states: “We are putting out that life because it’s a bad life that we’re talking about.” I thought the rightwing mantra was All Lives Matter? Did President Snuff Film not get the memo from Pence?

+ 4.3 million people missed their mortgage payment in May.

+ Based on responses collected June 18 through June 23, the Household Pulse Survey estimates that 24.5% of adults either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or had slight or no confidence that their household could make the next payment on time. According to the same survey, 10.9% non-Hispanic white adults had slight/no confidence household could make next mortgage/rent payment on time compared with 29.1% of non-Hispanic African American adult. Meanwhile, moratoriums on evictions are being lifted. Why aren’t the Democrats talking about this every hour of every day? Oh, right, Russia…

+ Cuomonomics at work: New York is expecting more than 50,000 eviction cases in front of courts as soon as next week.

+ According to new research from MIT, more than  78% of pending evictions in Boston are in Black and immigrant communities

+ The sound of one tiny hand wanking…


Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpAs I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China. People can see it, and I can feel it!

+ Here’s the positivity rate for states that went all-in on Trump’s charge to re-open the economy.

AZ 23.9%

FL 15.5%

NV 15.2%

SC 15.1%

TX 14.9%

AL 13.0%

MS 12.7%

GA 11.9%

UT 11.3%

+ According to the WHO a rate of positive tests above 10% indicates there are significant unknown cases.

+ LA County officials now estimate that 1-in-140 people are unknowingly infected with COVID-19, a big spike from last week’s projection of 1 in 400.

+ Nationally, Morgan Stanley’s new Covid model has the epidemic doubling time at 41 days, down from 46 days last week.

+ In 2019, more than half of the Pentagon’s budget was spent on expensive, and largely unaccountable, contractors.+ The Biden Doctrine for Latin America, a lot like the Monroe Doctrine, but with nuclear weapons…

+ Since 1996, drug companies have increased the price of a vial of insulin by 1200%. More than 25 percent of patients now ration insulin to survive. Big Pharma, of course, is suing to block Minnesota’s new insulin access law, which attempts to rectify some of these gross inequities.

+ The US trade deficit US trade hit $54.6 billion in May, an increase of nearly 10%.

+ More than 2,700 people currently detained by ICE have tested positive for COVID-19 and the rate is surging.

+ Former presidential candidate Herman Cain has been hospitalized with COVID-19. He attended Trump’s Tulsa rally on June 20th.

+ For the first time since 1965, more Americans say immigration should be increased rather than decreased.

+ Left-wing “radicalism”, if such a thing exists, has been fueled by 40 years of neoliberal “normalcy”, enforced relentlessly by presidents and congresses of both parties.

+ Republican “strategist” Alex Castellanos on mask-wearing during COVID-19 pandemic: “Mask-wearing has become a totem, a secular religious symbol. “Christians wear crosses, Muslims wear a hijab, and members of the Church of Secular Science bow to the Gods of Data by wearing a mask as their symbol, demonstrating that they are the elite; smarter, more rational, and morally superior to everyone else.”

+ Trump and the Case of the Disappearing Virus…

2/10: “It will go away in April.”
2/26: “Close to zero in a couple days.”
3/31: “It will go away, hopefully at the end of the month.”
4/29: “It’s gonna leave.”
5/8: “This is gonna go away without a vaccine.”
6/16: “Even without [a vaccine], it goes away…”
7/1: “I think we’re gonna be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that it’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

+ NYC’s Presbyterian had the highest death rate of patients in the city’s largest hospital systems, more than 24% through 4/29, largely as a result of faulty ventilators distributed by the state and the federal government.

+ On the first day of Oregon’s statewide order to wear masks in all indoor public places, a group of Oregon State troopers refused to wear face coverings inside a Corvallis coffee shop despite being asked to so. “Fuck [Gov.] Kate Brown,” one of the troopers declared. And, yes, there’s video.

+ Inmates at San Quentin went on a hunger strike this week, protesting conditions in the California prison where 1,135 prisoners—nearly a third of San Quentin’s total inmate population—have active COVID-19 infections.

+ More than 40 South San Francisco Bay Area principals are now in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 during an in-person meeting to plan the reopening of schools.

+ On July 1, 2020

Arizona: 7.28 million people; 4,878 new COVID cases
The EU: 446 million people;   3,543 new COVID cases

+ More than 300 children in Texas daycares have contracted COVID-19. The number is rising…

+ Like Biden, Trump’s base is on Wall Street. These people are just pawns he manipulates and abandons when it comes time to rewrite the tax code and impose austerity measures …

+ Who will tell her the water she’s drinking is fluoridated?

+ More than 45 million people have filed for unemployment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over this same period, the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires increased by … $584 billion.

+ Jeff Bezos’ net worth is now $171.6 billion, a new record. He’s gained $57 billion in the first six months of this year alone.

+ Political contributions from billionaires soared from $32 million in 2010 to $611 million in 2018.

+ Number of billionaires giving money to Biden: 106, and to Trump: 93.

+ IRS audit rates for the wealthiest Americans (with more than $1 million in income) have declined from 12.5% in 2011 to 2.4% last year.

+ Here’s a perfect illustration of why the Democratic Party only gets worse with each iteration. It tolerates no dissent and patronizes the only people who still want to rescue it from its militaristic neoliberalism.

+ $18.63 billion: the amount of taxpayer-funded F-35 property and parts around the world that has apparently gone missing. (Has someone checked Bernie’s garage?)

+ 9.31 billion: the number of N95 masks that could be produced for $18.63 billion.

+ According to a Harvard study, the U.S. should be testing at least 1.2 million people a day to control the outbreak and at least 4.3 million people a day in order to eradicate it. We are testing around 500,000 and this rate is expected to decline in the coming weeks from from shortages of testing supplies.

+ Banality in action…

+ A study of coronavirus infections in the quarantined northern Italian town of Vò found that 40% of cases showed no symptoms, suggesting that asymptomatic cases are playing a big role in the spread of the pandemic.

+ The Evangelical case for prayer instead of wearing a mask: if you pray and don’t get COVID, it’s because you’re one of God’s Elect. If you pray and get COVID, it’s because God is testing you. If you pray and recover from COVID, it’s because God’s healed you. If you pray and die from COVID, it’s because you’ve been Raptured

+ The price of Truvada for PrEP, an HIV prevention drug manufactured by Gilead, is $2000 in the US, yet it costs only $6 to make. Gilead Sciences is a leading corporate sponsor of Virtual Pride Week in San Francisco…

+ Solyndra on 18-Wheels: Mnuchin’s Treasury Department just loaned YRC Worldwide, a failing trucking company, $700 million. The company is only worth $70 million and was sued in 2018 for ripping off the Pentagon in a previous contract.

+ According to an internal memo excavated by Ken Klippenstein, the Trump administration re-classified ICE as a “security agency” with the intent of blocking all employee information from public disclosure under FOIA.

+ Since Susan Collins voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, the senator from Maine has raked in nearly $200,000 from donors linked to the Federalist Society, the rightwing outfit obsessing with implanting “originalist” whackos on the federal bench. Many of the donors had never given to the perpetually indecisive senator a donation before.

+ Cardinal Dolan, writing in the Wall Street Journal: “If literature that depicts prejudice is to be banned, I don’t know if even the Bible can survive.”

+ How many thousands of books, poems, films and works of art have been placed on the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum (not to mention scientists excommunicated, imprisoned, or, in the case of Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake)?

+ Binders full of women of color…Joe Biden on VP vetting: “There are a number of women of color. There are Latino women. There are Asian. There are across the board.”

+ It’s not the cognitive decline that you have to worry about with Biden, it’s what remains embedded in the gray matter he has left…

Philip Wegmann@PhilipWegmannBiden says government has “a responsibility to protect” statues of Christopher Columbus.6:43 PM · Jun 30, 2020

We need a Sarah Cooper to mock Biden’s streams-of-semi-consciousness…(And HRC’s)

Hillary Clinton@HillaryClintonGood. Children should never have been in cages in the first place and should never be there again.

The New York Times@nytimesBreaking News: A federal judge ordered the release of migrant children held in U.S. family detention facilities, citing the severity of the pandemic https://nyti.ms/383OiwQ


+ We need a Sarah Cooper to mock Biden’s streams-of-semi-consciousness…(And HRC’s)

+ Many of the children Obama and Trump caged or denied entry at the border were refugees from the Honduran coup that HRC abetted, just another bullet point on her blotter sheet of crimes against humanity…

+ The four largest meat packing companies control 85% of the market, yet, personal animus toward marijuana, the Justice Department investigating two cannabis companies that would control less than 1% of the market.

+ There are now 9 Q-Anon-supporting congressional candidates who have now made it to November by state:

CO: Lauren Boebert
CA: Mike Cargile, Erin Cruz, Alison Hayden, Buzz Patterson
OR: Jo Rae Perkins
GA: Angela Stanton-King
OH: Ron Weber
TX: Johnny Teague

+ Still, belief in Q-Anon is probably less fanciful than thinking Biden will end fracking….

600,000: the number of Americans who have voted for candidates that support the Q-Anon conspiracy theory.

+ Johnny E. Williams: “‘White-splainin’ is deployed by ‘whites’ in the academy to discipline speech considered offensive r unpleasant to them. ‘White-splainin’ is a patronizing attempt by whites to explain 2 the racially oppressed what is & is not racist, while unwittingly exhibiting their own bigotry.”

+ Making the Suburbs Great for White Flight Again…

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpAt the request of many great Americans who live in the Suburbs, and others, I am studying the AFFH housing regulation that is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas. Corrupt Joe Biden wants to make them MUCH WORSE. Not fair to homeowners, I may END!2:20 AM · Jul 1, 2020

+ Biden supporters are pushing a new Monmouth poll show that half of registered voters have ruled out casting a ballot for Trump. Yet, more than half of all voters ruled out voting for Trump in 2016, kept their word at the polls, and he still became president…

+ The House will vote to remove bust of Roger B. Taney, segregationist who penned Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling. Of course, there are at least three justices to the right of Taney sitting on the court right now. Try removing some of them.

+ Boris Johnson’s big FDR-New Deal plan for reviving the post-COVID/post-Brexit UK economy will amount to slightly more than 0.6% of the spending in Roosevelt’s New Deal…”

+ Is Trump sure that the paintflingers are “Anarchists” and not Abstract Expressionists (who probably got a grant from a CIA-funded cultural foundation)?


Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpWe are tracking down the two Anarchists who threw paint on the magnificent George Washington Statue in Manhattan. We have them on tape. They will be prosecuted and face 10 years in Prison based on the Monuments and Statues Act. Turn yourselves in now!2:16 PM · Jun 30, 2020

+ More than a half-century after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, why are there now few black major league baseball players than ever? One big reason may be an institutional bias against them that starts in player development in the minor leagues, where black players are consistently given more negative scouting reports than whites and are promoted up to higher league division at a rate of 3 to 4 percent less than white players with similar or lesser skills.

+ There are now 7,669 recorded cases of COVID-19 on the Navajo Reservation and a total of 371 deaths. Cases by Service Unit, as of July 2, 2020:

Chinle:1,967
Crownpoint:663
Ft. Defiance:485
Gallup Service:1,284
Kayenta:1,089
Shiprock:1,239
Tuba City:670
Winslow:268

+ On Weds., the troubled Fermi II nuclear power plant in Michigan lost electrical power due to a swarm of … mayflies.

+ It was 70F above normal this week in some parts of the Arctic…

+ The number of fires in northern Siberia increased fivefold this week, according to the Russian forest fire aerial protection service, as temperatures in the Arctic shattered records.

+ Casper Henderson: “If 2ºC is now inevitable, that doesn’t make it comfortable. Indeed, it will be, for much of the world, a horror — and the space between those two things, inevitability and horror, is the one in which we will all be forced to learn to live. Perhaps the most important lesson of the freakish Siberian heatwave is: however terrifying you find projections of future warming, the actual experience of living on a heated planet will be considerably more unpredictable, and disorienting”

+ Meanwhile, things appear to be even worse in Antarctica, where the South Pole warmed at three times the global rate over the past 30 years.

+ The water temperature at Virginia Key, a small island off the coast near downtown Miami, hit 92.5°F on Thursday (July 2), the hottest ever recorded since the station was installed in 1994. The previous record was 92.3°, set in August 2017 and tied this past Wednesday.

+ The number of properties in the United States in danger of flooding this year is 70% higher than government data estimates, according to research from the First Street Foundation, with at-risk hot spots in Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

+ An appeals court in Nevada just ordered scofflaw rancher Clive Bundy to post $92,00 bond payable to the Center for Biological Diversity for “vexatious and spurious litigation.” The court found that”Mr. Bundy and his attorney have initiated, pursued & maintained one of the most flagrantly ill advised pieces of litigation this Court has ever seen.” If Bundy pays his fine, the Center plans to donate the money to the Burns Paiute Tribe and the Moapa Band of Paiutes in recognition of his defilement of their lands, culture and history.

+ What Clive Bundy knows about “the negro”…

+ The shutdown of hundreds of coal-fired power plants in the United States over the past decade has saved an estimated 26,610 lives, according to a study in the journal Nature Sustainability.

+ Chesapeake Energy, the “bridge fuel” fracking company that struck a covert $25 million deal with the Sierra Club, has finally gone belly-up

+ While we’re getting rid of Columbus, it’s time to change Columbia University to honor its greatest professor and decolonizer, Edward Said University…

+ The Columbia River should revert to its original name, Nch’i-Wana…

+ And the District of Columbia should be renamed after its most influential native son, Duke Ellington.

+ Mike Elk, of the indispensable PayDay Report, has written a must read corrective to the glowing obits for rightwing media scold Betsy Rothstein, who Elk describes as “a racist, a bigot, and a tool of the boss, but her obituaries being written by the white DC media elite are whitewashing her record & erasing the lessons of racial inequity…”

+ There was never any doubt about who Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was and remains. But the coy, parenthetical way Sessions’ racist slander of Henry Louis Gates is handled, leaves no doubt about what the NYT was and remains, either…


Wesley@WesleyLowery
Is there a way to read this in which Jeff Sessions is not writing off one of nation’s — the world’s — leading black scholars as “some criminal”? https://nytimes.com/2020/06/30/magazine/jeff-sessions.html…


+ Soon Tucker C. and M. Zuckerburg will be fighting it out over the same 7 comings willing to advertise on their platforms: Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Cracker Barrel, Liberty University, My Pillow, SoulCycle and the NFL team that plays in Washington, DC…

+ Speaking of Zuckerburg, I was put into Facebook jail for a week after someone (or algorithm) complained that I had posted a photo that violated their community standards on nudity or sexual activity. The post was a link to a Guardian story on the terrifying spread of COVID-19 through indigenous communities in the Amazon. There is nothing “sexual” about the story. The photo is from the Guardian story and it was Facebook’s own image grabbing software that grabbed it for linking. There’s nothing that resembles “nudity” in the story. This is the second time I’ve been jailed for posting stories about the threats to indigenous people in the Amazon on the grounds that the stories, both from mainstream outlets, violate the community standards of a company which started out as a “Hot or Not” rating platform for unsuspecting co-eds. The only obscenity here is the gross negligence of the Bolsonaro regime, which is endangering lives of Brazil’s most vulnerable populations, a crime against humanity that Facebook seems eager to help cover-up…

+ Profound. The hair, I mean…

+ Biden, the nation’s most notorious trichophiliac, is probably hoping that C-SPAN will start making these floor speech available in Odorama

+ If you’re looking for something else to watch, I recommend Samuel Fuller’s film Park Row, whose plot turns on a newspaper war in NYC over “crowdsourced” funding to build the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty…

+ Tony Austin, a veteran of the West Coast Get Down jazz collective: “Most of the kids that I knew would join a gang and get drawn in by violence. Jazz was an outlet for us to express our anger. Some of the other kids we knew spoke with a gun, but we used music as our language.”

Kamasi Washington on John Coltrane: “You could spend a lifetime in one song. It’s almost like the night sky with the stars: Each time you look, it’s different.”

He Puts the Pluto in Plutocrat…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Desert Notebooks: a Roadmap for the End of Time
Ben Ehrenreich
(CounterPoint)

The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming
Eric Holthaus
(HarperOne)

Resist Everything Except Temptation: the Anarchist Philosophy of Oscar Wilde
Kristian Williams
(AK Press)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Soul Food: Home Cooking with Maceo
Maceo Parker
(The Funk Garage)

The Mothers of 1970
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
(Zappa Records)

Agricultural Tragic
Corb Lund
(New West)

The Filth of Their Evil

“The Black Artist’s role in America is to aid in the destruction of America as he knows it. His role is to report and reflect so precisely the nature of the society, and of himself, in that society, that other men will be moved by the exactness of his rendering, and if they are black men, grow strong through this moving, having seen their own strength, and weakness, and if they are white men, tremble, curse, and go mad, because they will be drenched with the filth of their evil.” (Amiri Baraka, Negro Digest, 1965)

Posted in USAComments Off on Roaming Charges: Mutiny of the Bounties!

Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?

by PETER LINEBAUGH

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

My idea is to understand police violence and private property by taking a historical look at their relationship, and the year 1776, if not July 4, is a crucial part of it as we shall see. It might help us understand “looting” and “police reform.”[1] Is the 2020 George Floyd uprising a kind of déjà vu?

In the 1960s there was a wave of rioting, municipal rebellion, and challenges to property in the USA. In order to see that wave from a working-class point of view I went over to England to study riots and crime. In those days the theory was that the working-class could bring an end to capitalism, but historically before the working-class was “made,” it consisted of a mob of the poor given to crimes. The horrid ones against people – assault, rape, murder – were relatively few. The ones against property – highway robbery, burglary, shop-lifting, house-breaking, pocket-picking – tended to be new, i.e., from the 16th century at the birth of nation-state, or from the 18th century with high finance and imperialism. We made some discoveries and some progress, especially with ‘social crimes,’ like smuggling, poaching, wrecking, arson, coin-clipping, and machine-breaking which often had community or working-class support.

Despite major differences in basic outlook, you could compare our efforts in England to the Kerner Report in America (1968) which understood crime and riots in relationship to racism and the legacies of slavery. However, again like the Kerner Report, we shied away from studying systemic ruling-class crimes. As long as that evasion was maintained our understanding of the proletariat on either side of the Atlantic was kept separate: a race system here, a class system there. But the current turmoil has racial capitalism in its sights. Therefore, it is not one of déjà vu. History is not repeating itself. If anything, it’s moving right along … towards unfinished business.

As a matter of intellectual history the neo-liberalism of our day goes back to the liberalism of the 19th century which depended on that Bible of capitalism, The Wealth of Nations.

Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776. It is the foundational text of homo economicus because it elucidates the relations among property, competition, self-interest, the market, and division of labor. The bourgeoisie bellows out “freedom” at every opportunity to disguise the unfreedom it relies on. Hence, its economics names its nomenclatura, “free” trade, the “free” market, the “freehold,” and “free” labor.

The Wealth of Nations was preceded by lectures that Smith delivered in Glasgow, Scotland, at some date between 1761 and 1763. At first a professor of logic, in 1752 he became Chair of Moral Philosophy. Indeed, his 1776 treatise grew out of those lectures of the previous decade. A student attending his lectures took notes, and in 1896 a hundred years after Smith’s death, they were published as Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue, and Arms, ed. Edwin Cannan (Oxford, 1896). These were the four subjects of law – justice, police, revenue, and arms. It is in these lectures that the theorist of capitalism first meditates on police. There is more here than intellectual history – how book ideas came out of the lecture-hall, because the actual, real wealth of nations depends on actual, real police. This is not a semantic game, though much of what Adam Smith writes is the opposite of the reality.

We can’t just take him at his word. The statues of slavers are coming down and it may not be long before they are joined by the statutes of capital – property as commodity and property as capital. The monuments to the slave power must depart the public square. Just as they fall to the ground as hypocritical monuments to slavery so we must take down certain words from their pompous pedestals where they act not as Truths but as Shibboleths.

For instance, “wealth” meant capital and capital depended on unpaid labor, especially (but not exclusively) of African slaves. Hence, the wealth also produced poverty. One might as well call the 1776 treatise “The Poverty of Nations.” Or, take the word “nations.” He did not mean the myriads of communities and languages of the Indian sub-continent or of sub-Saharan Africa and nor did he mean the 562 nations of indigenous people of north America. He meant a handful of commercial empires of Europe.

In his police lecture Smith says, “It is by far the best police to leave things to their natural course.” All summed up in the French shibboleth called laissez-faire, or leave well enough alone. No two words better sum up free market liberalism. That the effect of his phrase, “natural course,” is to naturalize police. But note too how one could substitute the word “policy” for “police” and not change the meaning. We do not approach police via nature but via history.

Smith had other students such as Adam Ferguson, William Robertson, and John Millar, who formed the brains of the Scottish Enlightenment, and who borrowed a theory of history freely from his lectures. John Millar explained what Smith was up to. He endeavored “to trace the gradual progress of jurisprudence, both public and private, from the rudest to the most refined ages, and to point out the effects of those arts which contribute to subsistence and the accumulation of property, in producing corresponding improvements or alterations in law and government.”

You see why the historical materialist has had a fondness for these bourgeois Scots and their project of describing the ideological superstructure (law and government) in alignment with the material base (technology and accumulation). Actually, they separate the realm of politics from the realm of economics. Base and superstructure were unified in prior regimes based on communal principles and commons in material life.

To understand the historical moment of commercial society when he delivered his lectures we must open the two eyes of history, time and place.

Opening the first eye then, to chronology. The era in which he lectured is generally treated as a world-wide contest between England and France for global hegemony. We need to pay closer attention to the resistance of the dispossessed, the colonized, the indigenous, and the enslaved because each brought different cultural, even spiritual, challenges to these Empires. What they have in common is antipathy to the concept of real estate: land is home, or it is common, or it is sacred. Certainly it is not bought and sold.

Adam Smith was speaking at a time of imperial crisis consisting of first, to name a few elements, the Jacobite uprising of the Scottish Highlanders in 1745 and the terrible battle of Culloden the year following. (See Peter Watkins great 1964 film called “Culloden” for how the English “refined” dealt with the Scottish “rude”.) Second, in Ireland the Whiteboy movement of dispossessed agrarian folks began in 1761. Its submerged, nocturnal resistance to land privatization continued in one form or another for a century and a half. Third, Smith lectured in the aftermath of Tacky’s revolt in England’s richest sugar colony of Jamaica when slaves armed themselves with the spirit of obeah and torched the plantations. Fourth, Smith lectured at the commencement of Pontiac’s War in the Ohio country or the pays d’en haut when a powerful pan-Indian movement led by Pontiac (Ottawa war chief) and inspired by the prophet, Neolin (Delaware religious leader), threatened the British settler-colonial regime. All these freedom struggles years before 1776!

These were centrifugal forces against the widening of the British empire which had centripetal repercussions in the imperial capital. In London the novelist, Henry Fielding, after studying Aristotle’s theory of tragedy, advocated secret, or private hanging as producing greater terror. The hanging tree had to go private, the public knee on the neck squeezing shut the breath, risked ‘mob’ resistance. Anyway, hanging wasn’t enough. With his blind half-brother, John Fielding, he began a steady, protracted assault on the landless, workless common people by introducing schemes of surveillance and armed policing, the Horse Patrol and the Bow Street Runners. In fact it was between 1761 and 1763 that John Fielding drafted “a Plan of Police.” The sustained efforts of the Fielding brothers led to the gradual political and polite acceptance of the French word, “police.”

Opening the second of history, to geography. Glasgow was a port city and the center of the tobacco commerce in the Atlantic world. Bankers founded a political economy club in the 1740s. Glasgow was related to the slave regimes in more ways than one. Glasgow’s iron works imported iron from Russia to fashion heavy, unbreakable hoes and spades for the slaves of the Chesapeake in Virginia and Maryland. In Glasgow Smith met David Hume in 1750 just as the philosopher was arguing against the authority of religion. Smith would write that philosophy was “the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm,” meaning he’d have nothing to do with religion or spirit, unlike the Jamaicans, the Irish, the native Americans, or indeed London plebeians. Political economy became his ‘natural religion.’

“Police is the second general division of jurisprudence,” Smith explains in his Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue, and Arms, and continues, “The name is French, and is originally derived from the Greek [polis]… which properly signified the policy of civil government, but now it only means the regulation of the inferior parts of government, viz., cleanliness, security, and cheapness or plenty. The two former, to wit, the proper method of carrying dirt from the streets, and the execution of justice, so far as it regards regulations for preventing crimes or the method of keeping a city guard, though useful, are too mean to be considered in a general discourse of this kind.”

Let’s examine this passage closely. To begin with we note that in the statement that police “properly signified the policy of civil government” Adam Smith is chosing words from the same lexical field: “police” and “policy” are interchangeable. One might say the same with “political economy” whose cognate is also the Greek word polis.

Next, Smith includes “cheapness and plenty”, or the prices of commodities, as basic to exchange. As it concerns food it is highly contentious and the grounding of a “moral economy” that only disappears, at least in law, in 1802 and under the direct influence of Adam Smith’s notion of police. Those who had sustained the moral economy were the common people such as housewives, artisans, milk-maids, lumpers, and the laboring poor. They had rioted until prices were reduced to a popular level. Perhaps they are the reason that Smith considers “cheapness and plenty” to belong to the inferior part of government.

“Carrying dirt” may mean two things. One concerns sewage; it was the work of night-soil men. It became a matter of public health, and perhaps was the problem that brought about public health to begin with. In the city human waste could not as easily be used to manure the agricultural field, the orchard, or the vegetable garden. “Carrying dirt” may also refer to the meat trade: once the cattle, the pigs, the fowl arrive in the city they are butchered, producing offal – blood, bones, and guts – or waste without resale value. How, where, and by whom is offal to be disposed? Zoonotic possibilities arise, and from that arises the movement of public health. Police management of urban animal trade is not new to the wild animal markets of Wuhan where the coronavirus seems to have started

Finally, why is the subject of police “too mean”? “The objects of police are the cheapness of commodities, public security and cleanliness, if the two last were not too minute for a lecture of this kind. Under this head we will consider the opulence of a state.” In his police lectures he will say “in every commercial nation the low people are exceedingly stupid.”

The whole manner of speaking is based on a bourgeois code of refinement with rules of its own. It is a rhetoric of decorum which acts as a filter which excludes talking shit about police or poop. The “mean” or the “minute” discourse of police would have to begin with padrollers, Pinkertons, railroad bulls, fuzz, the beak, cops, peelers, bobbies, the blue, pigs, the Man, the Heat, dogs, flat foot, dick, blue meanies, coppers, ‘officer’, and ACAB.

Meanwhile a young Scot, Patrick Colquhoun, having just returned from Virginia tobacco country, arrived in Glasgow in 1766. He prospered and becomes provost of the city and founder of its chamber of commerce. With Henry Dundas, another Scot, he moved to central government in London. Dundas became the architect of counter-revolution as Home Secretary and as Secretary of War leading the war against French and Haitian revolutions. (His statue atop a one hundred fifty foot plinth in Edinbugh may topple any day now.) Colquhoun acquired ‘interests’ in Jamaica. In London he surveilled pubs, suppressed the city’s silk textile workers, and then worked with and for the West India planters and the West India merchants. He mounted a sustained ideological and lobbying campaign on behalf of a ‘preventive police.’

In 1798 Colquhoun founded the London police, the first armed, government managed, uniformed police. Its key to success was the unification of wage-payment with armed force. The gangs of lumpers (longshoremen) were formed, invigilated, and paid at the marine police offices for unloading the ships from America and the West Indies. The lumpers’ customs were criminalized, and a bit of money doled out instead, concealing their unpaid labor. That relation – the wage relation – became the fulcrum of capitalism, argued Karl Marx, and the true source of the wealth of nations.

So if this is what he does not do, what is it that he does do? His argument can be summarized in this way:

In Paris there were many more regulations concerning police than in London, yet in London, a more populous city, there were only three or four murders a year. (This does not include public hangings, state murder for crimes of property.) The number of police however was not the cause. Feudal lords, like gang leaders with their own colors and means of intimidation, maintained retainers to keep their tenants in awe. When the retainers were dismissed they lived by plunder. French aristocrats had more servants who when turned out were “force to commit the most dreadful crimes.”

What is meant by “independence”? Smith explains. “Upon this principle, therefore, it is not so much the police that prevents the commission of crimes as the having as few persons as possible to live upon others. Nothing tends so much to corrupt mankind as dependency, while independency still increases the honesty of the people.”

“The establishment of commerce and manufactures, which brings about this independence, is the best police for preventing crimes. The common people have better wages in this way than in any other, and in consequence of this a general probity of manners takes place through the whole country. Nobody will be so mad as to expose himself upon the highway, when he can make better bread in an honest and industrious manner.” While these assertions are empirically doubtful at best what is important to note is, again, the lexical synonymity between “policy” or “politics” and “police”: brute force reigns throughout: the knee on the throat is never far.

Adam Smith’s ideas enter American history at two decisive moments. First, at the foundation of the USA when Alexander Hamilton introduced his Report on Manufactures (December 1791). This together with his Report on Public Credit with their financial and tariff structures lay the foundations of economic accumulation, the enclosure of commons, military expansion, industrial development, and slavery.

Second, Adam Smith’s ideas enter American history at the termination of Reconstruction. W.E.B. DuBois will write of the end of reconstruction, “Profit, income, uncontrolled power in My Business for My Property and for Me – this was the aim and method of the new monarchial dictatorship that displaced democracy in the United States in 1876.” Smith’s ideas influenced the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873 in New Orleans. That they also concerned butchers will be a matter, according to Smith, of police who will sweep the streets clean. These cases brought Adam Smith fully into the constitution again, laissez-faire constitutionalism, and prepared the way for the infamous Lochner (1905) era of the Supreme Court characterized by total absence of regulation of contract or property.

Commerce and manufactures become the great topics of Adam Smith’s subsequent work, and the basis of political economy. But it is not only that. They are not just topics of his writing, or words on the page. Commerce and manufactures change during his life-time beyond all preceding human history. The machine and steam power change manufactures. Banking and shipping change commerce. Thus, the factory and the empire become, to use his meaning, the best police.

At this point we reach the temporary limit of meaning because to follow Smith’s logic in order to abolish the police it would require the abolition of capitalism itself, the system of unpaid labor and the system of war and imperial aggression. Like it or not there is no other way to defund the police. This is our unfinished business.

Essential Reading

Alfred Cave, Prophets of the Great Spirit: Native American Revitalization Movements in Eastern North America (2006)

W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935)

Douglas Hay et al, Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth Century England (1975)

Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged (1991)

Karl Marx, Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production (1867)

Adam Smith, Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue, and Arms, ed. Edwin Cannan (Oxford, 1896)

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)

E.P. Thompson, Whigs and Hunters: The Origins of the Black Act (1975)

Notes.

1) I thank the Retort group to whom on 25 June I first outlined these notes, as well as generous suggestions from RK, JW, and DR. 

Posted in USAComments Off on Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?

Class, Race and Power

by ROB URIE

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Since the onset of the Great Recession, a debate has persisted over creating what is described— depending on one’s premises, as either a trans-ideological working class movement or a red-brown alliance of socialists with fascists. ‘Socialist’ in this configuration is a classless movement that maps quite remarkably to the base of the Democratic Party. It is a mix of the right-thinking rich, the PMC and the slivers of working class and poor whose historical oppression threatens the rule of capital if not managed through social divisions and symbolic acts. Class here is a proxy for one’s social utility in a self-organized system of capitalist employment.

That this ‘classless’ politics follows four decades of resurgent capitalism, with the result that political and economic power are more concentrated now than at any time since the 1920s, would seem to add descriptive content to economic class as an analytical tool of the left. It (class) allows bourgeois whites to live in racially segregated neighborhoods, send their children to racially segregated schools, work in racially segregated employment, get racially segregated health care and shop in racially segregated stores while maintaining the moral clarity of opposing racism. Whatever the theoretical case for capitalism, ‘we’ aren’t all in this together.

Graph: the defining characteristic of resurgent capitalism since the 1970s has been the increasing concentration of income (above) and wealth. While ‘markets’ are cited by capitalist economists to explain this trend, specific government policies, protections, guarantees and bailouts place markets at the end of this process, not the beginning. Persistently higher incomes create persistently higher wealth, the source of political power in money based politics. Source: Emmanuel Saez, inequality.org.

This racial segregation without racism illustrates the peculiar nature of liberal politics where beliefs are posed as political facts and politic facts are a matter of ideological convenience. Black, male, youth are disproportionately, but not uniquely, subjected to police violence (graph below). In the liberal frame, and as has been predominant in media reports of the motives of protesters, it is this disproportion that is being objected to. As the leadership of Black Lives Matter and the protests more generally have both stated and implied, it is the fact of police violence that is at issue. In contrast, within the liberal frame of ‘privilege,’ having the police kill more white men and a lot more women of both races is just as logical a solution to disproportionality as ending police violence.

Approximately 5% of the human beings killed by the police in recent years were female, meaning that 95% were male. This ratio of 19:1 is many multiples of the racial disparity in police killings. One way to interpret the presentation of this fact is as diminishing the meaning of racial disparity. Another is as adding depth to the nature of police violence. Two recent papers (here and here) provide class analyses of mass incarceration to conclude that it is the poor who are on the receiving end of policing, arrest and incarceration. This relation of race to class does nothing to diminish the targeted horror of police violence.

Visceral objections to broadening the scope of political concern (race to class) are honestly come by through the seeming intractability of problems like police violence in poor neighborhoods, and less honestly through the redirection of political energy into officially-sanctioned channels for political gain. The New Democrats jettisoned the soft class politics of worker interests in favor of capitalist (trickle-down) solutions to class antagonisms. But class antagonisms haven’t gone away. Ultimately, shifting official focus to race redirects political energy, but it doesn’t pay the rent. And contested history (e.g. confederate statues) is occurring in a racially segregated present.

Graph: the racialized narrative of police violence targeting black, males is supported by well-sourced data. Complications include that men are targeted at a much higher multiple than women and the same is true of class— poor people are targeted by the police, not rich. None of this detracts from the righteous, and factually correct, claim that young, black, men are unjustly killed, arrested, and incarcerated. The liberal solution, ‘diversity,’ includes gender but excludes class. When applied to police violence, diversity as a political strategy leaves the rich untouched. Source: pnas.org.

The fact that racial segregation is enforced and maintained through economic segregation complicates the theory that racists cause racist outcomes. Neoliberalism has sharpened the class differences that create and define modern racial segregation. Through support for neoliberalism, the wealthy liberals who most abhor racism in the abstract are most responsible for its social manifestations like segregated neighborhoods and schools. One can assume that racism is the causal mechanism, but that points the finger at economic factors that don’t readily accommodate abstract motives.

This paradox flips the liberal script that racism defines the contours of racially differentiated outcomes. If racists provide the alleged motive, but anti-racists control the means, it is the means that are determinative. ‘Deplorables’ aren’t telling oligarchs, corporate executives, and the PMC what to do. They exist outside of official power. When it comes to policing, the ‘bottom-up’ view that racist cops set their own agenda is belied by the power and the legal immunity from prosecution they have been given. Localized policing and incarceration are given federal mandates through legislation like the 1994 Crime Bill.

Graph: the poor and working class, defined here as having family incomes $0 – $49,999, have higher relative representation by blacks, but larger absolute representation by whites. Given that nearly half of blacks are poor or working class, but less than a third of whites are, efforts to portray working class politics as the purview of racist whites 1) aren’t descriptively accurate and 2) sow divisions that obscure unified class interests. To the extent that poor and working class whites are racist, their class position assures that they don’t have the power to set political agendas. Source: census.gov.

The visceral fear of racist terror that is reported to haunt American blacks has little bearing on the social mechanisms of economic exclusion that are endemic to capitalism. Measures like economic mobility assume that it is equally distributed from poor to rich. In contrast, the idea of social reproduction illustrates how economic mobility can exist within static class relations. As the graph above illustrates, blacks are ‘over-represented’ amongst the poor and working class relative to whites. Around 1970, economic mobility ended for the bottom half of the income distribution, with rising economic mobility, as measured by rising real incomes, concentrated amongst the rich where only 5% of blacks exist.

This combination of factors meant that 1) the persistence of racial segregation since the onset of neoliberalism can be well explained by low economic mobility that left pre-existing racial segregation intact and 2) through class, poor and working class blacks share their economic circumstances with poor and working class whites, not with bourgeois liberals no matter what their racial sentiments might be. Whatever the intent, it was the sharpening of class divisions that hardened racial segregation in housing, education, and employment in recent decades.

Nothing written here reduces racism to anything less than its full social character. With the hardening of racial segregation through sharpened class distinctions, this full social character includes class relations that produce racially differentiated outcomes outside of racist intent. Socialists and anarchists battling working class racists and ‘fascists’ in the streets reinforces the neoliberal economic order quite straightforwardly. Doing so isn’t an attack on power, it is an attack for power. The causal mechanisms of neoliberal economic repression determine class. This is definitional. These are determined from above— by owners and bosses, not by workers.

Graph: From the 1940s on, white people have grown more tolerant of racial integration according to polling. After federally mandated programs of racial integration were tried in the 1960s and early 1970s, they were gradually abandoned in favor of ‘equality of opportunity.’ White people’s opinions continued to evolve, but racial integration was left unfinished. Today, most white people decry racism while living in racially segregated neighborhoods and sending their kids to racially segregated schools. Source: University of Illinois.

Consider, programs to end racial segregation in public schools like federally mandated school busing were most effectively countered by liberal politicians like Joe Biden at the behest of his bourgeois constituents. As with many such efforts, their arguments were economic and qualitative— they didn’t want to diminish the education of their children by busing them to the poorly funded schools to which poor and working class black and brown children were consigned. When asked (graph above), they support racial integration in the abstract. But when it comes to redistributing the political and economic power necessary to do so, they defer to the just distribution of capitalism. Lest this be less than evident, the flip side of meritocracy is that the poor ‘merit’ poverty.

By the early-mid 1990s, nearly 95% of whites polled (graph above) thought that public schools should be racially integrated— in the abstract. This triumph of liberalism resulted in the election of neoliberal politicians who told tales of diversity and inclusion that included race, gender, and the additional categories of modern identity politics. The rhetoric was redirected toward equality of opportunity, with the idea being that markets would produce a just distribution of economic outcomes. The conceptual problem with redistribution is that if the poor don’t deserve their lot— the premise behind social welfare programs, then neither do the rich. Merit either works or it doesn’t.

Over the last four decades of neoliberal ascendance, ‘deplorables’ and ‘fascists’ had no control over the economic forces that sharpened American class divisions. To the extent they were / are working class, they were on the losing end of these sharpened divisions, as were poor and working class blacks. The people who determined this trajectory and its broad contours are oligarchs, corporate executives, the PMC, and neoliberal politicians. The irony of perceiving and describing people as poor losers, and then assigning to them the power to determine four decades of broad economic outcomes, seems to have been lost.

The reason why this fight is worth having is that until political and economic power is redistributed downward, there is little possibility of resolving existing social tensions. Individual cops may or may not be racists. However, if they weren’t doing the bidding of the rich and powerful, they wouldn’t have jobs. And they definitely wouldn’t have immunity from prosecution for killing poor people. Forget about what rich people think for a minute. If, from the perspective of poor and working people, they don’t see themselves as deserving of being poor, then the rich don’t deserve to be rich. Again, this is definitional. It’s what the ‘system’ in economic system means.

There is plenty of evidence (links above) that economic segregation— class, has maintained and sharpened the system of racial segregation of prior decades. Even if people could be talked out of racial animus, poor people can’t afford a million dollar house and the rich and PMC won’t choose to live in poor neighborhoods with few social amenities, poor infrastructure and schools, and the social dysfunction that poverty entails. There is no way to end so-called systemic racism without redistributing political and economic power from those who have it to those who don’t. If you want to gauge the depth of ‘classless’ anti-racism, see how little economic and political power actually gets handed over. In this case, ‘nothing’ is just another word for a whole lot left to lose.

Since the onset of the Great Recession, a debate has persisted over creating what is described— depending on one’s premises, as either a trans-ideological working class movement or a red-brown alliance of socialists with fascists. ‘Socialist’ in this configuration is a classless movement that maps quite remarkably to the base of the Democratic Party. It is a mix of the right-thinking rich, the PMC and the slivers of working class and poor whose historical oppression threatens the rule of capital if not managed through social divisions and symbolic acts. Class here is a proxy for one’s social utility in a self-organized system of capitalist employment.

That this ‘classless’ politics follows four decades of resurgent capitalism, with the result that political and economic power are more concentrated now than at any time since the 1920s, would seem to add descriptive content to economic class as an analytical tool of the left. It (class) allows bourgeois whites to live in racially segregated neighborhoods, send their children to racially segregated schools, work in racially segregated employment, get racially segregated health care and shop in racially segregated stores while maintaining the moral clarity of opposing racism. Whatever the theoretical case for capitalism, ‘we’ aren’t all in this together.

Graph: the defining characteristic of resurgent capitalism since the 1970s has been the increasing concentration of income (above) and wealth. While ‘markets’ are cited by capitalist economists to explain this trend, specific government policies, protections, guarantees and bailouts place markets at the end of this process, not the beginning. Persistently higher incomes create persistently higher wealth, the source of political power in money based politics. Source: Emmanuel Saez, inequality.org.

This racial segregation without racism illustrates the peculiar nature of liberal politics where beliefs are posed as political facts and politic facts are a matter of ideological convenience. Black, male, youth are disproportionately, but not uniquely, subjected to police violence (graph below). In the liberal frame, and as has been predominant in media reports of the motives of protesters, it is this disproportion that is being objected to. As the leadership of Black Lives Matter and the protests more generally have both stated and implied, it is the fact of police violence that is at issue. In contrast, within the liberal frame of ‘privilege,’ having the police kill more white men and a lot more women of both races is just as logical a solution to disproportionality as ending police violence.

Approximately 5% of the human beings killed by the police in recent years were female, meaning that 95% were male. This ratio of 19:1 is many multiples of the racial disparity in police killings. One way to interpret the presentation of this fact is as diminishing the meaning of racial disparity. Another is as adding depth to the nature of police violence. Two recent papers (here and here) provide class analyses of mass incarceration to conclude that it is the poor who are on the receiving end of policing, arrest and incarceration. This relation of race to class does nothing to diminish the targeted horror of police violence.

Visceral objections to broadening the scope of political concern (race to class) are honestly come by through the seeming intractability of problems like police violence in poor neighborhoods, and less honestly through the redirection of political energy into officially-sanctioned channels for political gain. The New Democrats jettisoned the soft class politics of worker interests in favor of capitalist (trickle-down) solutions to class antagonisms. But class antagonisms haven’t gone away. Ultimately, shifting official focus to race redirects political energy, but it doesn’t pay the rent. And contested history (e.g. confederate statues) is occurring in a racially segregated present.

Graph: the racialized narrative of police violence targeting black, males is supported by well-sourced data. Complications include that men are targeted at a much higher multiple than women and the same is true of class— poor people are targeted by the police, not rich. None of this detracts from the righteous, and factually correct, claim that young, black, men are unjustly killed, arrested, and incarcerated. The liberal solution, ‘diversity,’ includes gender but excludes class. When applied to police violence, diversity as a political strategy leaves the rich untouched. Source: pnas.org.

The fact that racial segregation is enforced and maintained through economic segregation complicates the theory that racists cause racist outcomes. Neoliberalism has sharpened the class differences that create and define modern racial segregation. Through support for neoliberalism, the wealthy liberals who most abhor racism in the abstract are most responsible for its social manifestations like segregated neighborhoods and schools. One can assume that racism is the causal mechanism, but that points the finger at economic factors that don’t readily accommodate abstract motives.

This paradox flips the liberal script that racism defines the contours of racially differentiated outcomes. If racists provide the alleged motive, but anti-racists control the means, it is the means that are determinative. ‘Deplorables’ aren’t telling oligarchs, corporate executives, and the PMC what to do. They exist outside of official power. When it comes to policing, the ‘bottom-up’ view that racist cops set their own agenda is belied by the power and the legal immunity from prosecution they have been given. Localized policing and incarceration are given federal mandates through legislation like the 1994 Crime Bill.

Graph: the poor and working class, defined here as having family incomes $0 – $49,999, have higher relative representation by blacks, but larger absolute representation by whites. Given that nearly half of blacks are poor or working class, but less than a third of whites are, efforts to portray working class politics as the purview of racist whites 1) aren’t descriptively accurate and 2) sow divisions that obscure unified class interests. To the extent that poor and working class whites are racist, their class position assures that they don’t have the power to set political agendas. Source: census.gov.

The visceral fear of racist terror that is reported to haunt American blacks has little bearing on the social mechanisms of economic exclusion that are endemic to capitalism. Measures like economic mobility assume that it is equally distributed from poor to rich. In contrast, the idea of social reproduction illustrates how economic mobility can exist within static class relations. As the graph above illustrates, blacks are ‘over-represented’ amongst the poor and working class relative to whites. Around 1970, economic mobility ended for the bottom half of the income distribution, with rising economic mobility, as measured by rising real incomes, concentrated amongst the rich where only 5% of blacks exist.

This combination of factors meant that 1) the persistence of racial segregation since the onset of neoliberalism can be well explained by low economic mobility that left pre-existing racial segregation intact and 2) through class, poor and working class blacks share their economic circumstances with poor and working class whites, not with bourgeois liberals no matter what their racial sentiments might be. Whatever the intent, it was the sharpening of class divisions that hardened racial segregation in housing, education, and employment in recent decades.

Nothing written here reduces racism to anything less than its full social character. With the hardening of racial segregation through sharpened class distinctions, this full social character includes class relations that produce racially differentiated outcomes outside of racist intent. Socialists and anarchists battling working class racists and ‘fascists’ in the streets reinforces the neoliberal economic order quite straightforwardly. Doing so isn’t an attack on power, it is an attack for power. The causal mechanisms of neoliberal economic repression determine class. This is definitional. These are determined from above— by owners and bosses, not by workers.

Graph: From the 1940s on, white people have grown more tolerant of racial integration according to polling. After federally mandated programs of racial integration were tried in the 1960s and early 1970s, they were gradually abandoned in favor of ‘equality of opportunity.’ White people’s opinions continued to evolve, but racial integration was left unfinished. Today, most white people decry racism while living in racially segregated neighborhoods and sending their kids to racially segregated schools. Source: University of Illinois.

Consider, programs to end racial segregation in public schools like federally mandated school busing were most effectively countered by liberal politicians like Joe Biden at the behest of his bourgeois constituents. As with many such efforts, their arguments were economic and qualitative— they didn’t want to diminish the education of their children by busing them to the poorly funded schools to which poor and working class black and brown children were consigned. When asked (graph above), they support racial integration in the abstract. But when it comes to redistributing the political and economic power necessary to do so, they defer to the just distribution of capitalism. Lest this be less than evident, the flip side of meritocracy is that the poor ‘merit’ poverty.

By the early-mid 1990s, nearly 95% of whites polled (graph above) thought that public schools should be racially integrated— in the abstract. This triumph of liberalism resulted in the election of neoliberal politicians who told tales of diversity and inclusion that included race, gender, and the additional categories of modern identity politics. The rhetoric was redirected toward equality of opportunity, with the idea being that markets would produce a just distribution of economic outcomes. The conceptual problem with redistribution is that if the poor don’t deserve their lot— the premise behind social welfare programs, then neither do the rich. Merit either works or it doesn’t.

Over the last four decades of neoliberal ascendance, ‘deplorables’ and ‘fascists’ had no control over the economic forces that sharpened American class divisions. To the extent they were / are working class, they were on the losing end of these sharpened divisions, as were poor and working class blacks. The people who determined this trajectory and its broad contours are oligarchs, corporate executives, the PMC, and neoliberal politicians. The irony of perceiving and describing people as poor losers, and then assigning to them the power to determine four decades of broad economic outcomes, seems to have been lost.

The reason why this fight is worth having is that until political and economic power is redistributed downward, there is little possibility of resolving existing social tensions. Individual cops may or may not be racists. However, if they weren’t doing the bidding of the rich and powerful, they wouldn’t have jobs. And they definitely wouldn’t have immunity from prosecution for killing poor people. Forget about what rich people think for a minute. If, from the perspective of poor and working people, they don’t see themselves as deserving of being poor, then the rich don’t deserve to be rich. Again, this is definitional. It’s what the ‘system’ in economic system means.

There is plenty of evidence (links above) that economic segregation— class, has maintained and sharpened the system of racial segregation of prior decades. Even if people could be talked out of racial animus, poor people can’t afford a million dollar house and the rich and PMC won’t choose to live in poor neighborhoods with few social amenities, poor infrastructure and schools, and the social dysfunction that poverty entails. There is no way to end so-called systemic racism without redistributing political and economic power from those who have it to those who don’t. If you want to gauge the depth of ‘classless’ anti-racism, see how little economic and political power actually gets handed over. In this case, ‘nothing’ is just another word for a whole lot left to lose.

Posted in USAComments Off on Class, Race and Power

A Requiem for George Floyd

by JOHN DAVIS

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Exactly a month after George Floyd’s death, driving along Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, ‘Black Lives Matter’ tags have converted the plywood board-ups that line the street into a tapestry that establishes a rhythmic mantra – proclaiming a society of equality and justice. Approaching Crescent Heights Boulevard, the currently closed Laugh Factory is covered with images of George Floyd as though he were the featured stand-up comedian at the club. Floyd, however, achieved his eight minutes, forty-six seconds of fame with his neck pinned to the ground by a white police officer’s knee. His life was unregarded and his potential death, as his last moments ebbed away, entirely ungrieved by his assailant.

That his life mattered, and now continues to matter, has been fully established. On Sunset, his spray-painted, chiaroscuro image appears repeatedly on either side of the road as it passes through glitzy Sunset Plaza and then curves uphill past music clubs, boutique hotels, and restaurants, over all of which loom huge billboards that, like mechanical raptors, appear to be surveying their prey – but it is Floyd’s face, at eye level, amidst the BLM tags, that commands a deeper, visceral attention. All this changes abruptly as the road begins its meander through residential Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Brentwood. Here, manicured trees, groomed yards, and neatly trimmed hedges obscure the grand houses which shelter those entirely untroubled by the precarity experienced by many, perhaps most, Americans.

Here too, no doubt, ‘Black Lives Matter’ is also having a moment – the Kindles of its residents loaded or their coffee tables scattered with appropriately themed books, like the seven of the ten that command the NYT hard-cover non-fiction best-sellers (as of May 31 – June 6): White Fragility, Robin D’Angelo; So You Want to Talk About Race, Ileoma Oluo; How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi; Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad; The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander; Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates; and, Becoming, Michelle Obama. Feelings of earnest concern, genuine sympathy, resolve to make a better world, and a sense of solidarity, surely prevail.

However complicit we may be in sustaining the historical-racial schema in this country, we can all now agree that, ‘Black Lives Matter’, but the tag’s emblazonment across the country, and internationally, remains a hollow gesture unless there is meaningful collective action to create a social environment in which all black lives can indeed flourish – and matter. Southerners lost the Civil War but won the peace by instituting one hundred years of Jim Crow. After overthrowing Reconstruction, white Americans colonized the freed slaves, exploiting their labor, denying them their democratic rights, and policing their lives with state sanctioned violence. It is thus that the Civil War continues. It is a war about an equitable share of the nation’s wealth and, perhaps as importantly, societal respect. The psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, in, The Wretched of the Earth, 1961, suggests that the eponymous masses, under the heel of European colonization, rebel not only against need and hunger, but the continuing humiliation to which they are exposed. While the condition of Black America is surely as varied as White America, the former carries with it the accumulated inheritance of four hundred years of humiliation (established in 1619), barely dented by the election of a person of mixed heritage as president in 2008. White America carries with it, in even its direst subjects, the taint of unassailed privilege (established in 1492), in which, as a white immigrant resident here for some forty years, I undoubtedly share.

Judith Butler, the U.C. Berkeley academic and author (blurbed by Cornel West as, “the most creative and courageous social theorist writing today”), is unlikely to appear on any New York Times best seller list. But her new book, The Force of Non-Violence – An Ethico-Political Bind, published earlier this year, directly addresses the issues surrounding the murder of George Floyd. She frames the possibilities of non-violence in American society within the concepts of ‘livability’ and ‘grievability’.

She writes that, “…equal treatment is not possible outside of a social organization of life in which material resources, food distribution, housing, work, and infrastructure seek to achieve equal conditions of livability. Reference to such equal conditions of livability is therefore essential to the determination of “equality” in any substantive sense of the term.” These conditions of equality must be achieved outside of the shadow of colonial power falling on a population and thus rendering them dependent. “That deployment of dependency confirms both racism and colonialism: it identifies the cause of a group’s subordination as a psycho-social feature of the group itself.”

Butler argues that non-violence is untenable unless it occurs within a society committed to equality. The equal value of life is its essential condition – otherwise, as she notes, “certain lives will be more tenaciously defended than others.” It follows then, “If one opposes the violence done to human lives, this presumes that it is because those lives are valuable” – their loss, in any circumstance, is made worthy of grief. All members of a society founded in equality will then possess ‘grievability’.

Butler uses the frame of grievability to review the death of Eric Garner, a black arrestee put into a choke hold in New York City by a white police officer while the victim gasped, “I can’t breathe.” This 2014 tragedy helped to catalyze the national ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. In an analysis that directly relates to the murder of George Floyd, she asks, “…is it simply that this life is one that can be snuffed out because it is not considered a life, never was a life, does not fit the norm of life that belongs to the racial schema; hence, because it does not register as a grievable life – a life worth preserving?” After a Staten Island jury failed to convict the N.Y.P.D. officer responsible for Garner’s death, William Barr, the Attorney General, chose not to pursue a federal civil rights indictment against him.

What establishes solidarity is mutuality – a common desire to live our lives un-threatened by each other; a recognition that it is only the establishment of the universal grievabilty of life – all life, human and non-human – that will ensure our survival as a society and as a part of the global ecosystem. Thus, it is that Judith Butler expands the thesis of her slim volume to register the enormity of America’s, and humanity’s challenge.

The Force of Non-Violence ends with what may serve as a requiem for George Floyd,

“So, whether we are caught up in rage or love – rageful love, militant pacifism, aggressive non-violence, radical persistence – let us hope that we live that bind in ways that let us live with the living, mindful of the dead, demonstrating persistence in the midst of grief and rage, the rocky and vexed trajectory of collective action in the shadow of fatality.”

That is too long for a tag, but it seems to me to be the full flowering of what ‘Black Lives Matter’ can mean: it represents its lived destiny – its ontogeny. If we can embrace the ‘vexed trajectory of collective action’ implied by these three words, now imprinted on our urban infrastructure and on our consciousness, we might begin the difficult work of transformation required of them.

Posted in USAComments Off on A Requiem for George Floyd

Smearing Black Lives Matter…From the Left

by LOUIS PROYECT

Over the past fifty-three years as a socialist, I have seen repeated calls for purifying the left of capitalist influences, both governmental and corporate. The latest flare-up was a Jacobin article titled “Don’t Let Blackwashing Save the Investor Class” by Cedric Johnson, a black African American studies professor. Just as Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men,” Johnson followed the money:

While antiracist protesters were tough on long-dead oppressors, these same protests have delivered a public relations windfall for the living investor class. Within weeks, corporations pledged upward of $2 billion dollars to various antiracist initiatives and organizations. The leadership of Warner, Sony Music, and Walmart each committed $100 million. Google pledged $175 million, mainly to incubate black entrepreneurship. YouTube announced a $100 million initiative to amplify black media voices. Apple also pledged $100 million for the creation of its racial equity and justice initiative.

These payoffs were supposed to dull the edge of the protests and keep the capitalist system safe from pitchfork-wielding mobs. Oddly enough, they didn’t seem to be making much headway in light of the continuing worries about capitalist instability. Most of the young people organizing the protests hardly seemed to be cooptation-bait as indicated by a New York Magazine interview with the female, teenage organizers of a Louisville protest that drew 10,000:

New York Magazine: Have you faced any backlash since the protest? And what does it mean to you three to be doing this work in the South?

Kennedy: I was actually surprised that we had a lot of support, because we do live in the South, and I’ve encountered various types of racism from people in the South. We did get backlash from a lot of people saying we’re brainwashed or that we’re being paid to do this or that we’re secret people the Democrats are using to win.

Emma Rose: We’re not even Democrats.

Kennedy: I’m not even a Democrat. I’m a radical.

Johnson draws a contrast between Amazon warehouse workers striking (good) over safety conditions at their workplaces during the pandemic and the BLM protests (bad) that flow from the belief that racism is “endemic,” “ingrained,” “systemic,” and America’s “original sin.” (Let’s not forget that West Coast dockworkers carried out a work stoppage for nine minutes on June 9th in solidarity with BLM.) The Amazon workers were in keeping with Marxist verities about class conflict while the BLM activists were frittering away their time and energy on “identity politics” and “intersectionality” all in the interest, willy-nilly, of absolving Goldman-Sachs et al for their crimes against humanity.

This reference to “original sin” is a shot across the bow of Project 1619 and any other analysis that sees slavery as the ghost that hovers over America’s racist society today. Johnson considers the possibility that if George Floyd had a decent income, he never would have resorted to using counterfeit money and, hence, a victim of four killer-cops. Perhaps, the more important question is why such cops are allowed to murder at will—the grievance driving these earth-shaking protests.

In another article, Professor Johnson sounds like he might be working for the Biden campaign, at least on the question of defunding the police:

Most Americans are upset by police killings, but they also want more effective policing. Over the last five years, satisfaction with police has strengthened among all ethnic and racial groups, including African Americans (from 50% “at least somewhat satisfied” in 2015 to 72% now).

As for the need for the George Floyds of the world having a better shot at making it, one might consider the possibility that the color of his skin might have something to do with his economic woes. Like most people committed to the Sandernista movement, Johnson draws a sharp contrast between benefitting blacks as a group and class-wide economic programs that will serve workers, whatever race. In a Jacobin article titled “An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Liberals Who Love Him”, Johnson takes issue with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates had the temerity to call out Bernie Sanders for his refusal to support reparations (Jacobin’s editor Bhaskar Sunkara opposes them as well.) For Sanders, the answer to black poverty is “creating millions of decent paying jobs.”

There have been millions of decent paying jobs in American cities for many years, but they are generally unattainable for black people. What will it take to make this country truly color-blind? It will undoubtedly require a socialist revolution that makes racial bias illegal. As someone who has been following the class struggle for over fifty years, I have not seen anything more promising in recent years than the massive outpouring against killer cops in over two thousand American cities. While some of the money big corporations doling out will end up in the BLM leadership’s pockets, most young people spearheading the protests will be motivated by ideals rather than cash.

Annie Lowrey proposed “baby bonds” in an Atlantic article that would benefit black people as members of a class rather than as a racial group. Lowrey gave an example of providing rich babies $200 and poor babies $50,000 at birth, with infants from middle-class families on a sliding scale. Since black people are poorer than white people, the benefits would accrue to them and reduce inequality. Lowrey was comforted by the possible outcome. Had they been granted baby bonds at birth, white young adults would be worth $79,159 and black young adults $57,845. Unequal, yes, but catching up. Project 1619 editor Nikole Hannah-Jones pinpointed the baby-bond shortcomings on Twitter:

I’m all for universal anti-poverty, wealth-producing programs. But like so many “race-neutral” policies, it can’t actually be race-neutral in a race-based system. Ths closes the black-white gap but also maintains it. You can’t use race-neutral policies to fix race-specific harms.

Isn’t the primary goal of the protestors to put an end to race-specific harms? In upstate New York, there’s a sleepy little village called Monroe with a large orthodox Jewish population not far from the even sleepier village where I grew up. On May 31, a BLM rally drew 700 people. That’s close to ten percent of the residents. They were responding to a Tweet from a 21-year-old black woman named Shelby Seth, who told the local paper that “she had wanted to prove that affirming the value of all lives was a universal message that resonates as much in a small town as in all the urban centers where protests had taken place.” Would any of Apple’s money end up in her bank account? I tend to doubt it.

As for orthodox Jews, in the most startling turn of events, New York’s young adherents to the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic sect have joined the protests. The Washington Post reported on June 19 that “about 200 young Hasidic women in long skirts and wigs and men with wide-brimmed black hats and free-flowing beards parked their baby strollers along the tree-lined boulevards of Crown Heights in Brooklyn.” The Chabad-Lubavitch sect earned the reputation of being racist when a car chief rabbi’s motorcade ran a red light and struck down two black children from Guyana in 1991. A riot led to the knifing murder of a rabbinical student and the stigmatization of Mayor David Dinkins as being anti-Semitic for not cracking down enough. It is too soon to tell where this reconciliation will go, but it is an auspicious beginning.

One can understand why some on the left would want to purify social movements. With the billions of dollars at their disposal, corporations can disorient not just the black struggle, but also every mass movement for sweeping change. These movements generally start with radicals serving as a catalyst. The larger they become, the more that big capital sees them as a threat to its rule. In 1970, I was in the Boston branch of the Socialist Workers Party when the woman’s liberation movement took off. Our female comrades worked in the abortion rights movement and saw it as a blow against patriarchy. Radicalized feminists would fight alongside the black nationalist movement against a common enemy. While Cointelpro and cop violence was responsible for destroying the Panthers and other revolutionary groups, it was big capital that tamed the woman’s movement. Instead of organizing poor women suffering from pay disparity, NOW became part of the Democratic Party’s armada. With corporations lavishing millions on the group, it naturally saw its interests and theirs as organically linked.

The gay liberation movement went through the same evolution. It started as a riot against a police raid on Stonewall and soon became one of the most militant detachments of the left in the 1970s. Groups like the Gay Liberation Front identified with radical feminism and black nationalists. They used sit-ins, and later on die-ins during the AIDS crisis, to fight for sexual emancipation. Just as corporate funding tamed NOW, so did it turn the annual Gay Pride celebrations into a toothless spectacle. Big corporations began displaying the rainbow flag and boasting about all their top gay managers. Recently, Goldman-Sachs foreclosed on 10,000 homes. Given the pandemic’s dire circumstances, this assault on mostly poor people made the firm more hateful than usual. Who came forward to defend the foreclosures? None other than Maeve DuVally, a top Goldman manager who handles media. That’s the same person, once known as Michael DuVally, who now keeps a rainbow-colored rectangle at her desk. He took advantage of a Goldman L.G.B.T. employee network hosted panel on “how to be stronger allies to the transgender and gender non-conforming community” to transition. Michael DuVally showed up to the event in a wig and makeup. Now he a well-paid woman named Maeve making excuses for evicting poor people. That’s what gay liberation amounts to in many ways today.

For the most bodacious example of following the money, nobody can surpass Cory Morningstar’s scorched earth attack on Greta Thunberg. In a six-part series of articles, she dredged up a mountain of evidence that practically made Thunberg an accessory-after-the-fact to the corporate takeover of the environmentalist movement. I won’t detail Morningstar’s follow-the-money details but recommend a CounterPunch article I wrote last December:

In her first article, Morningstar charges Swedish PR executive Ingmar Rentzhog with masterminding a pro-corporate conspiracy using Thunberg as his cat’s paw. By hyping Thunberg, this phony movement will cater to the needs of Klaus Schwab, Goldman-Sachs, Michael Bloomberg, et al.

Those who have the patience to plow through Morningstar’s tedious prose will learn that corporate America is trying to dull the Green movement’s cutting edge. Quelle surprise. You’re better off watching “Planet of the Humans.” Missing from the film as well as Morningstar’s articles is What is To Be Done. You have to be simple-minded not to understand that the American bourgeoisie spends billions trying to sway public opinion. The small change it hands out to black, women’s, gay or Green groups is predictable. It is up to us to figure out how to keep the blade of the movements as sharp as a scalpel and not retreat into a purist sect like the Socialist Equality Party or the Spartacist League.

To a large extent, corporate America’s ability to tame mass movements is a function of the collapse and virtual disappearance of the revolutionary left. In the mid-70s, there were at least 10,000 “Marxist-Leninist” activists acting as the backbone of the mass movement. Due to their sectarian illusions, they eroded and then disappeared. Whatever their flaws, their absence left the mass movements rudderless and ripe for cooptation. Even though sectarianism ran through its bloodstream, the SWP provided leadership to the antiwar movement that might help new leftists learn from today.

In 1969, when the SWP had committed its entire membership to build the antiwar movement, we ran into a situation similar to what BLM activists now face. David Hawk was a former member of the National Student Association that the CIA funded. He was also one of the leaders of Eugene McCarthy’s “peace” campaign. With this authority (and sub rosa funding), he launched the Vietnam Moratorium. The Moratorium called for nationwide protests on October 15. Hawk’s partners in this enterprise were Sam Brown, a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, and David Mixner, a member of George McGovern’s Democratic Party reform commission. We nefarious Trotskyists saw this as a capitalist design on the peace movement, but took a much different tack than those favoring a “clean break.”

Unlike the case today with BLM, we did not see Hawk as the direct representative of the corporate world. Instead, we understood that with his Democratic Party connections, he had access to funds that the radical antiwar groups could never tap. If the Moratorium wanted to run TV commercials and full-page ads in the NY Times, we’d be up against a formidable adversary. Instead, our strategy would be to keep our friends close, but our enemies closer.

Hawk came to a conference of the New Mobilization Committee in Cleveland in July to propose collaboration between the two groups. We understood that Hawk and company were generals without an army, but also susceptible to being maneuvered into backing the New Mobe’s fall action in November. The conference ended with Hawk and the New Mobe agreeing to support each other’s actions. Secretly, we were scheming to transform the Moratorium into something far more radical than Hawk ever thought possible. We were aided in that endeavor by the growing hatred for the Vietnam War that made Out Now appear reasonable to most of the country just like BLM is today.

We deployed our forces to make sure that the October Moratorium kept a radical edge. Being radical did not mean calling for revolution but instead insisting on the need to withdraw immediately from Vietnam. Despite the “peace” agenda of Hawk and his partners, the press and the ruling class saw the Moratorium as a threat to its war-making capabilities. Like the George Floyd protests, thousands of American cities hosted rallies against the war for the first time. The only difference between now and then was the conscious, organized efforts of the SWP and its allies in keeping the movement honest.

In exchange for backing the Moratorium, the party was amenable to politicians like McGovern speaking at New Mobe rallies. We did not see liberal politicians speaking at rallies as a political sacrifice on our part since it meant drawing in larger crowds who would then become foot soldiers for Out Now. Not everybody on the left saw it this way. The three factions of SDS (Weathermen, RYM-2 and SDS-PL) denounced the Moratorium as an attempt by the liberal elite to co-opt the student movement.

Fred Halstead, the SWP candidate for president in 1968, wrote a book titled “Out Now!: a Participant’s Account of the Movement in the U.S. Against the Vietnam War.” While I spent far too many years in the Trotskyist movement, I learned valuable lessons from people like Fred, an activist in the “Bring Us Home” movement in 1945. Stationed in Japan and elsewhere in East Asia, American G.I.’s were now going to fight a new war on Mao’s army. After four years of bitter fighting and likely a certain degree of sympathy for a peasant revolution, they took part in mass actions demanding to go back home. Some of the key organizers for the “Bring Us Home” movement were CIO radicals like Emil Mazey from the UAW. Fred always saw GI’s openness to opposing the war in Vietnam while in uniform as a distinct possibility based on this precedent.

Writing about the Moratorium in “Out Now,” he advises his readers on how to approach opportunities like this with tactical flexibility but within a steel-hard strategic goal, namely defeating U.S. imperialism:

There is no doubt that a section of the Democratic Party and some Republican doves hoped to use the Moratorium to co-opt the antiwar movement in preparation for the 1970 congressional elections. But in so doing they were—however hesitantly—throwing their authority behind an antiwar action. This provided openings of an entirely new dimension. The Moratorium was not an election for public office but a date for antiwar activities across the country. Their character would be determined by the participants in each locality.

The New Mobe and the SMC, instead of turning their backs on this development, threw themselves into building these actions. They did not oppose the appearance of prominent Establishment figures as sponsors and speakers. They took advantage of the opportunity to speak to larger audiences with their own more radical positions, welcoming the element of debate involved, and drawing more people into preparations for the November activities.

Drawing more people into preparations. That’s the spirit of the kind of movement needed today in ending police department death squads, and, into the future, overthrowing the racist, capitalist system that relies on such killers to defend private property.

Posted in USAComments Off on Smearing Black Lives Matter…From the Left

Trump and Pence – Step Aside for Professional Pandemic Scientists and Managers

by RALPH NADER

Major changes in society can be accomplished by a fast-emerging, broad-based civic jolt so obvious and persuasive that it overwhelms the entrenched powers. The most urgent job is for people to organize to get Trump and Pence to step aside from their bungling, making-matters-worse mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House should let a professional pandemic control specialist with public health experience and an appreciation of science replace the current and ongoing Trump horror show.

Many Republican operatives watching the daily Trump virus spectacle are terrified by how the President fabricates, fantasizes, confuses, and endangers the country. As Trump lowers his and their poll numbers, Republicans would welcome such a replacement.

“We the People,” are seeing the failing Donald Trump over-riding his own scientists and paralyzing any federal leadership and coordination of state efforts, as he measures all moves by his delusional ego. The citizenry must quickly mount irresistible pressure for Trump and Pence to step aside. Let Trump focus on the November election, which is all he cares about anyway, apart from watching Fox News for hours each day, lying to the public and endlessly tweeting slanders and insults.

Trump is so cruel and out of touch that he is letting his henchman cut nursing home safety regulations, end health and safety protections for workers, consumers, and communities, and pursue the end of Obamacare by stripping 23 million Americans of their health insurance. Doing this in the middle of a worsening killer pandemic is sheer madness. We have a president at the helm of a careening ship of state acting worse than Captain Queeg.

Would any community tolerate, in Maureen Dowd’s words, such “chaos, cruelty, deception and incompetence,” in their local public safety officials?

To be sure, there have been thousands of articles, columns, editorials, and TV/radio reports of the grotesque delays, perverse actions, quackery, and faking over the grim realities by Trump and Pence. All this takes place against the backdrop of his blundering son-in-law who is overseeing and furthering corrupt corporate bailouts. But, inexplicably, reporters and columnists avoid the conclusions that should stem from their own convictions and writings. One exception is the Washington Post editorial in May 2020, calling for Trump and Pence to step aside and let people who know what they’re doing take the reins.

The country simply cannot wait until Inauguration Day, January 21, 2021. Every day the Trump virus spreads further, while its presidential enabler is making sure sick Americans are left unprotected, and workers are left unemployed. More and more innocents are paying the ultimate price for this public health and economic disaster.

The failed gambling czar, selected to be our fake president by the unelected Electoral College, crazily gives himself a “ten” rating, admits no mistakes, and refuses to learn from other nation’s comparative successes against the virus.

Putting health professionals in charge of the “war” against the Covid-19 pandemic has worked in Taiwan, New Zealand, Thailand, Uruguay, and Canada’s British Columbia and other countries with sane leadership. These countries are showing far, far superior life-saving results and fewer economic convulsions.

Mr. Trump, if you’re not going to resign for America’s sake, at the least, step aside for your own political campaign’s sake. A coordinated civic jolt and a laser-beam demand from the people can make you and the alarmed GOP realize you are not capable of doing the job that needs to be done. Of course, if Congress wasn’t a rubber stamp, our first branch of government could stop this lethal incompetence by mandating professional pandemic management.

For those doubters of this happening, remember the ringing statement by the demanding abolitionist Frederick Douglass – “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”. Trump is a paper mache figure who hides behind bluffs and snarls. A civic jolt can displace him much like the statutes of slavers.

Start your “step aside” demand by calling the White House opinion phone number 202-456-1111. Urge your friends to do the same. There is no time to delay.

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump and Pence – Step Aside for Professional Pandemic Scientists and Managers

Putting the Freeze on Fraudsters

WMNow - Stay updated Get involved
Fraud is a crime that can happen to anyone.
However, by following simple steps you can help put a stop to the scammers!
Here are our top 5 tips:
– Never give personal information to anybody before they provide and verify their credentials 
– Always remain vigilant at cashpoints & report anything suspicious straight away
– Remember, the bank or police will NEVER ring you to ask for personal details such as your bank card PIN
– When online, use a variety of strong passwords and be cautious about any unexpected and unrecognised emails
– Be careful when using online auction sites and always pay using the correct payment channel
If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud, you can report it directly to Action Fraud – the national fraud reporting centre on 0300 123 2040 or click here for the Action Fraud website. 

For more information about protecting yourself from cyber crime visit ww.getsafeonline.org 

Kind regards
Sparkbrook & Balsall Heath Neighbourhood Team


 
Message Sent By
Poppy Merrick (Police, PCSO, Birmingham East, Hall Green, Sparkbrook)

Posted in UKComments Off on Putting the Freeze on Fraudsters


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