Saturday, June 06, 2020

Can America's Poor Self-Organize To Survive The Dystopian Now?

tomdispatch |  This society has long suffered from a kind of Stockholm syndrome: we look to the rich for answers to the very problems they are often responsible for creating and from which they benefit. The wreckage of this pandemic moment is a bitter reminder of this affliction, as well as a signpost suggesting how we must emerge from this crisis a just and more equitable nation. With a possible depression ahead and more social unrest on the rise, isn’t it time to stop vindicating the wealthiest people in this country and look instead to leadership from those who were living in a depression before Covid-19 even hit and already organizing and protesting?

Here’s a story from a long-ago moment that's still relevant. Two months before his assassination in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., travelled to Chicago, to enlist the women of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) -- the predecessor to the National Union of my day -- into the Poor People’s Campaign. As he walked into a conference room at a downtown Chicago YMCA, Dr. King encountered more than 30 welfare rights leaders seated strategically on the other side of an exceedingly large table. One of his advisers later noted that the women’s reception of the southern civil rights leader was a “grand piece of psychological warfare.”

Representing more than 30,000 welfare-receiving, dues-paying members, they had not come to passively listen to the famed leader. They wanted to know his position on the recent passage of anti-welfare legislation and quickly made that clear, pelting him with questions. Dr. King felt out of his element. Eventually, Johnnie Tillmon, the national chairwoman of the NWRO, stepped in. “You know, Dr. King,” she said, “if you don’t know about these questions, you should just say you don’t know and then we could go on with this meeting.”

To this, Dr. King replied, “We don’t know anything about welfare. We are here to learn.”

That day, Dr. King would learn much about the long struggle those women had waged for dignity in the workplace and the home. They taught him that programs of social uplift should be a permanent right and that the welfare system of the mid-twentieth century, much like our own, was structured as a public charity that callously differentiated between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. They introduced him to policy proposals that were generations ahead of their time, including a demand for a Guaranteed Adequate Annual Income, or what many now call a Universal Basic Income (UBI).

Four months into the Covid-19 crisis, with this country already afloat on a sea of inequality that would have been unimaginable even to those women in 1968, a sea change in public opinion may be underway when it comes to what’s necessary and possible. Ideas that only a few years ago would have been considered unimaginable like universal healthcare, guaranteed affordable housing, and debt relief are now breaking into the mainstream. Don’t think, however, that such policy positions, like the idea of a UBI, have materialized on Capitol Hill and in Beltway think tanks out of thin air. They are, at least in part, the result of long-term agitating, educating, and organizing led by the poor themselves.

Those of us in the welfare rights movement always saw our work as the kindling for a wildfire of organizing by the poor and dispossessed. Our projects of survival, like Tent City, were not just about housing and feeding people. They were also about securing the lives of those committed to building the kind of movement necessary to transform society. Projects organized around immediate needs also became bases of operation for policy analysis and future plans.

Mayor Quinton Just Needs A Good Man To Tell Him Which Way The Wind Blows Every Day...,

aier |  Coronavirus hasn’t been a thing since Friday,” said a friend. “The new story is racism.”
Following American media culture can make one’s head spin. 

For three months, all we heard was the danger to life and civilization presented by a novel virus. Millions will die! Few will be spared! There will be unprecedented suffering unless we completely shatter the normal functioning of life. Lock down, shelter in place, and stand six feet apart – very strange exhortations never before heard in the modern history of annual viruses or any public policy in many lifetimes. 

All of it enforced by the police power. The same police power that eventually landed on the neck of George Floyd.

They screamed that we had to close schools, shopping centers, sports, and only allow “essential” business to function even if tens of millions lose their jobs, because lives – lives that the police power has utterly disregarded during the protests – are just that important. Lockdown required that the law change on a dime, in violation of every legal precedent, every slogan in American civic mythology, and contradicting the whole of what made America great. 

In three days in mid-March 2020, everything we previously believed had to end because we had to implement a new experiment in social control as cobbled together by “public health officials” some 14 years ago. They sat around for a decade and a half, bored and waiting to use the new way to combat viruses. Any old virus would do so long as it was a slow news day. COVID-19 was as good an excuse as any. Out was every foundational belief in liberty, property, and free association, in the blink of an eye. 

That was 75 days ago. People were surprisingly compliant, but what could they do? They were scared, thanks to media frenzy, and they weren’t allowed out of their houses to protest in any case. When they did defy the orders to protest in front of capitol buildings, instead of staying home and watching CNN, they were derided by CNN as disease spreaders and enemies of public health. 

I’m looking at the headlines today and all the news on the coronavirus is below the fold or in its own section. It’s all about the protests, riots, and looters. Racism. Trump is screaming for a crackdown while the media demands justice for police brutality. As for social distancing, this was absolutely yesterday’s news. Now a new ethos has taken hold: gather in the largest possible groups to demand social justice. And loot.

Taking A Page From The Obama Playbook, Mayor Quinton Played Black And Said A Lot Of Words...,

kmbc |  After an emergency meeting of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, police Chief Rick Smith has been ordered to conduct a review of the use of tear gas and other projectiles during the protests at the Country Club Plaza.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas also announced a series of sweeping changes into how KCPD investigates itself, including creating whistleblower protections within the department and creating a process where outside agencies will investigate use of force complaints and officer-involved shootings.

 In a related note, Lucas said he is signing a pardon order for Roderick Reed, the man who was cited for failing to obey a lawful order by KCPD when he videotaped police arresting Breona Hill in 2019. Lucas said he is also considering pardons on nonviolent offenses – such as stepping off the sidewalk and not complying with a police order – related to the protests.

“Accountability is always important for 21st century policing,” Lucas said. “It will be important in Kansas City.

“It also recognizes that this moment is not about individual protests on the plaza or in Kansas City. But, instead, how we can modernize policing, how we can build trust between police and our communities, and frankly, how we can help solve many of the challenges we have in Kansas City’s violent crime.”

Lucas did reiterate that Smith “continues to be our police chief and will continue in that position as we weather our current crisis and also as we continue to address our issues related to violent crime and the high number of homicides in Kansas City.”

With the investigation into the police's use of tear gas against protesters on the plaza, Lucas said he hopes the review will help the department come up with policy approaches for the future.

"This is me speaking personally," Lucas said. "Materials and other projectiles should be used only in situations where there is an imminent threat to the life of the officer or others in an environment. We had some discussion on what future policies may look like speaking of groups once again. And so it's our view that we wanted to allow the department to come up with policy approaches for the use of tear gas and the use of other projectiles."

The set of reforms Lucas laid out within the department includes having all officer-involved shootings referred to outside agencies, including the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office or the Missouri Highway Patrol.

“All officer-involved shootings will be reviewed by an outside agency – every one – even in situations where it appears the officers conduct is justified,” Lucas said. “We will make sure that there is an external third-party review that has a chance to make sure that there is sufficient accountability for all.”

Friday, June 05, 2020

Obama Plays You Cause You Must LIKE Getting Played

nakedcapitalism |  Jokes reveal truths, which is why the best way to appreciate the real Obama, not the fabled character of hope and change, is how he tells jokes.  He’s good at, no, great at telling jokes.  He kills at comedic performances, and his sense of timing is magnificent.  Jokes, though, show how someone really sees the world, and the joke I’m thinking of is one he made during a speech in March 2009, when the revelations of AIG’s massive retention bonuses became public.  It had been less than two months since Obama’s inauguration, but the major policy framework of the administration – the bailouts – had been laid down.  The AIG bonus scandal was outrageous to the public, a symbol of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars being funneled to an arrogant corporation that had helped destroy the economy.

Barack Obama had stepped up to the lectern to deliver a stern rebuke to AIG executives who had taken bonuses with taxpayer money.  Obama talked of the outrage of an irresponsible company, and how his administration would do everything within its power to get the money back.  But a few minutes in, he coughed, slightly, choking a bit, as his mouth was a bit dry.  But after he coughed, he stopped, and reflected on the gesture with a joke.  “I’m choked, choked with anger”, he said.  Obama chuckled.  Reporters laughed.  And it was funny, really funny.  Because everyone in the room knew that Obama wasn’t actually angry about the AIG bonuses, and never intended to do anything about it.  No one there was angry about the bonuses, and everyone knew nothing would happen to AIG executives.  The House would pass bills, which would die in the Senate.  The only people angry were Americans at large, who could not believe that their government worked for Wall Street.  So the joke was funny, ironic, cool.  But the moment wasn’t right for it, because this was a serious time for outrage – so Obama quickly reverted to form, and the teleprompter took over.

Pundits didn’t reflect on this “joke”.  No one really noted it.  It was very much like George Bush’s comment to reporters that was only later highlighted by Michael Moore, when Bush was on a golf course and perfunctorily said “we must find these terrorist killers….” and then turned to swing a golf club.  “Now watch this drive.”  Obama had risen to that level of duplicity, not a lie in the conventional sense of saying something that wasn’t true, but an entirely constructed false persona. 

He had polished the tools of the Presidency – the utter banality of PR, the constipated talking points, the routine abuse of power – and taken them to a new level with a self-aware sense of irony about his own narcissistic dishonesty.  His challenge was so outrageous – I dare you to call me on what a liar I am as I joke about how much I am lying to you right now – that he turned an obnoxious bluff into art.
Obama had shown this breathtaking tendency to con people as they knew they were being conned before, the most public time during the campaign being his cynical answer when he was asked about his promise to renegotiate NAFTA.  He had said, when fighting for union votes with Clinton, “I will make sure we renegotiate (NAFTA).”  Even as he said this, it turns out that campaign advisor Austan Goolsbee had gone to Canada to assure them this was a lie (sure enough, Obama’s trade policies are identical to Bush’s, or worse).  And once the election ended, and Obama was asked about his broken promise by a reporter, he gave the following answer.
“This is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign,” President Obama said during his Transition in early December, when a reporter asked him about criticisms he and now-Secretary of State Clinton had made about each other’s foreign policy views.
“They’re your quotes, sir,” said the reporter, Peter Baker of the New York Times.
“No, I understand. And you’re having fun,” Obama continued. “And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not faulting it.”
This is cynicism as art.  It’s literally a Presidential candidate running on hope and change saying that campaign promises are a joke and a ruse.  His comments on AIG were similarly dishonest. 

The American Story Has Collided Head-On With American Reality

caitlinjohnstone |  If you’ve heard the waking up story, you would expect no such thing. You would understand that racial disparities never left the nation in question, and that the establishment which still keeps J Edgar Hoover’s name on the FBI building has no intention of doing anything about the police force’s role in it. You would understand that the role of the police is not to protect and serve the people but to protect and serve the empire, in the exact same way that this is the role of the military. You would understand that the empire is no more likely to voluntarily dispense with the violent tactics of its increasingly militarized police force than it is to dispense with its air force or nuclear warheads.

They’ll supply all the empty words and take-a-knee photo ops you like, but actually voluntarily disarming themselves against their subjects is not something they’re planning on doing.
This does not mean that those demanding these changes are being silly or unreasonable; demanding that the police not murder you is the most sane and reasonable thing in the world, per what the police force purports to be and per what America purports to be. It’s just that neither the police force nor America are what they purport to be. The bedtime story and the waking up story could not possibly be more different.

That is what we are witnessing here. We are witnessing the head-on collision between the story America’s political, media and educational institutions tell Americans about what their country is, and the reality of what their country actually is. The disparity between the bedtime story and the waking up story has finally been stretched to a breaking point, and now the mask of free liberal democracy is coming off in front of everyone.

We are watching a population besieged by institutional racism, economic hardship and a pandemic virus finally pushed past the breaking point, and finding themselves crashing headlong into the most unyielding part of a planet-sprawling empire. The stories are slowly clearing from the air like tear gas, and the cold, hard reality is becoming exposed to a greater and greater segment of mainstream America.

And now the leader of this nation is openly threatening martial law and trying to designate black bloc protesters as “terrorists”. Video footage of police brutality is saturating social media faster than people can watch it, First Amendment violations are sweeping from coast to coast as police chiefs, mayors and governors try to see how far they down can squeeze freedom of assembly laws, and mysterious armed men in fatigues who refuse to say who they’re with are patrolling the nation’s capital. Prison riot specialists are being recruited as expert consultants because, in the eyes of the empire, the prisoners are rioting.

We are all watching from around the world as the citizens of the hub of the empire confront their oppressors in an increasingly violent battle of wills. The violence rips apart the thin veneer of narrative that was keeping the bedtime story intact all this time. We all watch as the tattered ribbons slowly fall to the floor.


As Goes Blackness, So Goes America....,

libertarianinstitute |  Murray Rothbard pointed out in his book Anatomy of the State how the state is far more punitive against those that threaten the comfort and authority of government institutions and workers than they are against crimes against citizens.

This, according to Rothbard, exposed as a myth the notion that the state exists to protect its citizens.
“We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely—those against private citizens or those against itself?” Rothbard wrote.

“The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax.”
Boy how recent events have proven Rothbard right.

For weeks, we saw police aggressively pursuing and punishing peaceful people merely violating arbitrary lockdown orders to go surfing, cut hair, or host a child’s play date.

But in the first nights of the George Floyd protests, police allowed rioters to run amok destroying property, with political leaders dismissing the damage as unimportant.

This stark contrast in police responses dramatically underscores Rothbard’s point.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Rowdy Peasants Worldwide Tired Of This Ole Buuuhshidt!!!

Reuters |  Demonstrators hurled firebombs in a march towards the U.S. Embassy compound in Athens on Wednesday in a protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Reuters journalists saw demonstrators throwing several flaming objects which erupted into flames on the street towards the heavily-guarded embassy in central Athens and police responding with rounds of teargas. 

The embassy itself was cordoned off with rows of blue police buses. 

Demonstrators were holding banners and placards reading “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe”. 

Police sources estimated the number of protesters at more than 3,000.

Keeping You Rowdy Peasants In Check In The Dystopian Now

rutherford |  Brace yourselves.

There is something being concocted in the dens of power, far beyond the public eye, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.

Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by political theater and public spectacle that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware.

Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.

And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.

What is unfolding before us is not a revolution.

The looting, the burning, the rioting, the violence: this is an anti-revolution.

The protesters are playing right into the government’s hands, because the powers-that-be want this. They want an excuse to lockdown the nation and throw the switch to all-out martial law. They want a reason to make the police state stronger.

It’s happening faster than we can keep up.

The Justice Department is deploying federal prison riot teams to various cities. More than half of the nation’s governors are calling on the National Guard to quell civil unrest. Growing numbers of cities, having just barely emerged from a coronavirus lockdown, are once again being locked down, this time in response to the growing upheaval.

This is how it begins.

It’s that dystopian 2030 Pentagon training video all over again, which anticipates the need for the government to institute martial law (use armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems) in order to navigate a world bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots.

We’re way ahead of schedule.

The architects of the police state have us exactly where they want us: under their stamping boot, gasping for breath, desperate for freedom, grappling for some semblance of a future that does not resemble the totalitarian prison being erected around us.

This way lies certain tyranny.

For just one fleeting moment, “we the people” seemed united in our outrage over this latest killing of an unarmed man by a cop hyped up on his own authority and the power of his uniform.

That unity didn’t last.

Indeed, it didn’t take long—no surprise there—for us to quickly become divided again, polarized by the misguided fury and senseless violence of mobs taking to the streets, reeking of madness and mayhem.

Deliberately or not, the rioters have directed our attention away from the government’s crimes and onto their own.

This is a distraction.

Don’t allow yourself to be so distracted.

Let’s not lose sight of what started all of this in the first place: the U.S. government.

Although It Crushed Tax Revenues: Controlavirus Did Not Bring About Any Cuts In Police Funding

fastcompany |  As images from protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death have spread around the country, a key demand from protesters has been the defunding of city police departments: that cutting the money a city spends on police would, in fact, make communities safer. They’ve pointed to the tactical gear and equipment that the police have been pictured using as evidence that cities spend far too much money on their law enforcement, at the expense of other agencies that often lack funds to offer basic services to residents.
This is an apt time to be making that demand, as cities are in the process of figuring out next year’s budgets. But despite the fact that every U.S city is being forced to make drastic cuts to existing programs in the face of a stunning loss of tax revenue from closed businesses during the  COVID-19 pandemic, one area of city government is seeing virtually no cuts at all: police departments.

Under New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, the NYPD—which currently has a budget of $6 billion—would see a cut of just $23.8 million, or 0.39%, Gothamist reported. In contrast, the Department of Education would have its budget cut by $827 million—3% of its overall funding. The Department of Youth and Community Development, which funds after-school programs, literacy services, and summer youth work programs, would lose 32% of its budget.

In a letter to the mayor sent May 30, New York City Council Speaker Cory Johnson and other council members called for every city agency to identify meaningful savings they could make, so the nearly $9 billion budget gap is made up with 5-7% cuts from each department, rather than disproportionately larger cuts for a few agencies. “No proposed cut should be one that would weaken the social safety net or hurt vulnerable New Yorkers,” they wrote. An April letter sent to de Blasio from the Communities United for Police Reform pointed out that in 2019, when the city allocated $6 billion to the NYPD, it allocated just $2.1 billion to homeless services, $1.4 billion to housing, preservation, and development, and $1.9 billion to the health department.

In Los Angeles, the LAPD budget is slated to actually increase by $123 million. The proposed 2020-2021 spending includes nearly $41 million in bonuses for officers who have college degrees, “even as thousands of other city employees face pay cuts amid a financial crisis at City Hall,” the Los Angeles Times reports, along with pay raises for officers. Overall, the current plan increases LAPD’s budget by 7.1%, while it cuts the budget for the Housing and Community Investment Department, which, per the Times, “sends inspectors to look for violations at apartment buildings,” by 9.4%.
LAPD will receive just under 54% of Los Angeles’s total general fund—money not raised or collected for special purposes such as voter-passed measures—which allocates $1.8 billion to the agency. When you include pensions and retirement, building services, liability claims, and “other department related costs,” though, the total price tag of the police department tops $3 billion.

American Policing Needs To Be Radically Reformulated

taibbi |  Even as rates of both violent crime and property crime have been decreasing steadily since the early nineties, rates of incarceration have been exploding in the other direction. For most of the 20th century the rate of incarceration in America was roughly 110 per 100,000 people. As of last year, the number was 655 per 100,000. Although the numbers have dipped slightly in recent years, down from a high of about 760 per 100,000 in 2013, the quantity of prisoners in America remains absurdly high. 

Such aggressive, military-style policing would be not be tolerated by voters if it were taking place everywhere. It’s popular, and continues to be embraced by politicians in both parties, because it’s only happening in “those” neighborhoods (or, as Mike Bloomberg once put it, “where the crime is”). Even during the Covid-19 crisis, 80% of the summonses for social distancing violations are given out to blacks and Hispanics. Does anyone really think that minorities account for that massive a percentage of those violations? Do they think black people really commit 3.73 times as many marijuana offenses as white people? 

Basically we have two systems of enforcement in America, a minimalist one for people with political clout, and an intrusive one for everyone else. In the same way our army in Vietnam got in trouble when it started searching for ways to quantify the success of its occupation, choosing sociopathic metrics like “body counts” and “truck kills,” modern big-city policing has been corrupted by its lust for summonses, stops, and arrests. It’s made monsters where none needed to exist.

Because they’re constantly throwing those people against walls, writing them nuisance tickets, and violating their space with humiliating searches (New York in 2010 paid $33 million to a staggering 100,000 people strip-searched after misdemeanor charges), modern cops correctly perceive that they’re hated. As a result, many embrace a “warrior” ethos that teaches them to view themselves as under constant threat.  

This is why you see so many knees on heads and necks, guns drawn on unarmed motorists, chokeholds by the thousand, and patterns of massive overkill everywhere – 41 shots fired at Amadou Diallo, 50 at Sean Bell, 137 at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in Cleveland, and homicides over twenty bucks or a loose cigarette. 

Police are trained to behave like occupiers, which is why they increasingly dress like they’ve been sent to clear houses in Mosul and treat random motorists like potential car-bombers – think of poor Philando Castile, shot seven times by a police officer who leaped back firing in panic like he was being attacked by Freddy Krueger, instead of a calm, compliant, educated young man. Officers with histories of abuse complaints like Daniel Pantaleo and Derek Chauvin are kept on the force because senior officers value police who make numbers more than they fear outrage from residents in their districts. The incentives in this system are wrong in every direction.

The current protests are likely to inspire politicians to think the other way, but it’s probably time to reconsider what we’re trying to accomplish with this kind of policing. In upscale white America drug use is effectively decriminalized, and Terry stops, strip searches, and “quality of life” arrests are unknowns. The country isn’t going to heal as long as everyone else gets a knee in the neck. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Though Enshrined In The Constitution - The USPS Is First On The Privatization Hit List

dcreport |  There have been bipartisan efforts to unstrap the unnecessary economic weights from the organization and to provide pandemic aid.

Trump, Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have all taken steps to block any such changes.

Trump could clear up his objections, as he appointed a majority of the Postal Regulatory Commission. The commissioners must sign off on deals like the delivery rates that Amazon pays. He also appointed the entire USPS Board of Governors.

“It’s apparent that there are some folks for whatever their reasons are opposed to the postal service,” Pete Coradi, national business agent for the American Postal Workers Union, told DCReport.

There are two potential rationales for the ongoing attempts to break the agency.

One is that privatization would transfer enormous amounts of value. There are untold billions in real estate, trucks, contracts and intellectual property. There is high marketing value, if harnessed, to tell which people and companies sent letters or packages to any individual.

The other rationale would be to attack what is the third-largest employer in the nation, with more than 600,000 mostly unionized workers, historically allies of Democrats.

Although not considered federal employees, postal workers are eligible for federal health and retirement benefits. Push them into the private sector and suddenly there’s less of a burden on federal taxpayers, but not Americans.

Privatize the postal service and hundreds of thousands of workers would be affected, potentially seeing worse benefits and pay. That’s particularly bad for the African American community, which has historically been heavily represented in the institution.

And by overloading the agency and then sinking it further, denying the pandemic help freely handed out to large corporations, the GOP might get its way.

The Fed's $10 Trillion Defends The Assets Of The Rich - You Other M'Fers Are On Your Own!!!

 theanalysis |  The Federal Reserve is directly buying stocks, bonds, junk bonds, mortgages, junk mortgages, all to prop up the value of assets owned by the top 5%. This does not spur much new production or create jobs. Michael Hudson joins Paul Jay on podcast

Welcome To Blackness: The Social Contract Between Government And The People Has Unraveled

consentfactory |  Things couldn’t be going better for the Resistance if they had scripted it themselves.
Actually, they did kind of script it themselves. Not the murder of poor George Floyd, of course. Racist police have been murdering Black people for as long as there have been racist police. No, the Resistance didn’t manufacture racism. They just spent the majority of the last four years creating and promoting an official narrative which casts most Americans as “white supremacists” who literally elected Hitler president, and who want to turn the country into a racist dictatorship.

According to this official narrative, which has been relentlessly disseminated by the corporate media, the neoliberal intelligentsia, the culture industry, and countless hysterical, Trump-hating loonies, the Russians put Donald Trump in office with those DNC emails they never hacked and some division-sowing Facebook ads that supposedly hypnotized Black Americans into refusing to come out and vote for Clinton. Putin purportedly ordered this personally, as part of his plot to “destroy democracy.” The plan was always for President Hitler to embolden his white-supremacist followers into launching the “RaHoWa,” or the “Boogaloo,” after which Trump would declare martial law, dissolve the legislature, and pronounce himself F├╝hrer. Then they would start rounding up and murdering the Jews, and the Blacks, and Mexicans, and other minorities, according to this twisted liberal fantasy.

I’ve been covering the roll-out and dissemination of this official narrative since 2016, and have documented much of it in my essays, so I won’t reiterate all that here. Let’s just say, I’m not exaggerating, much. After four years of more or less constant conditioning, millions of Americans believe this fairy tale, despite the fact that there is absolutely zero evidence whatsoever to support it. Which is not exactly a mystery or anything. It would be rather surprising if they didn’t believe it. We’re talking about the most formidable official propaganda machine in the history of official propaganda machines.

And now the propaganda is paying off. The protesting and rioting that typically follows the murder of an unarmed Black person by the cops has mushroomed into “an international uprising” cheered on by the corporate media, corporations, and the liberal establishment, who don’t normally tend to support such uprisings, but they’ve all had a sudden change of heart, or spiritual or political awakening, and are down for some serious property damage, and looting, and preventative self-defense, if that’s what it takes to bring about justice, and to restore America to the peaceful, prosperous, non-white-supremacist paradise it was until the Russians put Donald Trump in office.

In any event, the Resistance media have now dropped their breathless coverage of the non-existent Corona-Holocaust to breathlessly cover the “revolution.” The American police, who just last week were national heroes for risking their lives to beat up, arrest, and generally intimidate mask-less “lockdown violators” are now the fascist foot soldiers of the Trumpian Reich. The Nike corporation produced a commercial urging people to smash the windows of their Nike stores and steal their sneakers. Liberal journalists took to Twitter, calling on rioters to “burn that shit down!” … until the rioters reached their gated community and started burning down their local Starbucks. Hollywood celebrities are masking up and going full-black bloc, and doing legal support. Chelsea Clinton is teaching children about David and the Racist Goliath. John Cusack’s bicycle was attacked by the pigs. I haven’t checked on Rob Reiner yet, but I assume he is assembling Molotov cocktails in the basement of a Resistance safe house somewhere in Hollywood Hills.

Look, I’m not saying the neoliberal Resistance orchestrated or staged these riots, or “denying the agency” of the folks in the streets. Whatever else is happening out there, a lot of very angry Black people are taking their frustration out on the cops, and on anyone and anything else that represents racism and injustice to them.

This happens in America from time to time. America is still a racist society. Most African-Americans are descended from slaves. Legal racial discrimination was not abolished until the 1960s, which isn’t that long ago in historical terms. I was born in the segregated American South, with the segregated schools, and all the rest of it. I don’t remember it — I was born in 1961 — but I do remember the years right after it. The South didn’t magically change overnight in July of 1964. Nor did the North’s variety of racism, which, yes, is subtler, but no less racist.

So I have no illusions about racism in America. But I’m not really talking about racism in America. I’m talking about how racism in America has been cynically instrumentalized, not by the Russians, but by the so-called Resistance, in order to delegitimize Trump and, more importantly, everyone who voted for him, as a bunch of white supremacists and racists.

Fomenting racial division has been the Resistance’s strategy from the beginning. A quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels, “accuse the other side of that which you are guilty,” is particularly apropos in this case. From the moment Trump won the Republican nomination, the corporate media and the rest of the Resistance have been telling us the man is literally Hitler, and that his plan is to foment racial hatred among his “white supremacist base,” and eventually stage some “Reichstag” event, declare martial law and pronounce himself dictator. They’ve been telling us this story over and over, on television, in the liberal press, on social media, in books, movies, and everywhere else they could possibly tell it.

So, before you go out and join the “uprising,” take a look at the headlines today, turn on CNN or MSNBC, and think about that for just a minute. I don’t mean to spoil the party, but they’ve preparing you for this for the last four years.

The National Security State Is Going To Flex At Home Like Never Before

libertyblitzkrieg |  The pressure cooker situation that erupted over the weekend has been building for five decades, but really accelerated over the past twenty years. After every crisis of the 21st century there’s been this “do whatever it takes mentality,” which resulted in more wealth and power for the national security state and oligarchy, and less resources, opportunities and civil liberties for the many. If anything, it’s surprising it took so long to get here, partly a testament to how skilled a salesman for the power structure Obama was.

The covid-19 pandemic, related societal lockdown and another round of in your face economic looting by Congress and the Federal Reserve merely served as an accelerant, and the only thing missing was some sort of catalyst combined with warmer weather. Now that the eruption has occurred, I hope cooler heads can prevail on all sides. 

On the one hand, you can’t pillage the public so blatantly and consistently for decades while telling them voting will change things and not expect violence once people realize it doesn’t. On the other hand, street violence plays perfectly into the hands of those who would take the current moment and use it to advocate for a further loss of civil liberties, more internal militarization, and the emergence of an overt domestic police state that’s been itching to fully manifest since 9/11.

It’s my view we need to take the current moment and admit the unrest is a symptom of a deeply entrenched and corrupt bipartisan imperial oligarchy that cares only about its own wealth and power. If people of goodwill across the ideological spectrum don’t take a step back and point out who the real looters are, nothing’s going to improve and we’ll put another bandaid on a systemic cancer as we continue our longstanding march toward less freedom and more authoritarianism.

While we aren’t going to solve everything at once, something should be done as soon as possible to at least partially address current anger and frustration.

Clearly there’s a major problem when it comes to policing in America, particularly in poor inner-city communities. Let’s start by ending qualified immunity.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Did "Officer Chauvin" And George Floyd Know One Another?

CTH |  El Nuevo Rodeo (hereafter ENR) is a front business. Nothing is as it seems.

The background ownership of ENR takes you to a shady network of LLC’s and the name Omar Investments Inc. (est. 1996).  Dig a little deeper and something else becomes evident… The ownership might connect to one or more U.S. three letter agencies.

The ownership network has previous interactions with FBI operations in/around Minneapolis. This is not surprising because Minneapolis Minnesota has more national security operations ongoing than any other community in the country. Various Somali groups are being watched, and anyone can do a google search to see when those security operations surface in the media.

Omar Investments Inc. owns El Nuevo Rodeo Cantina and night club since 1996.  The principle of Omar Investments Inc. is Muna Sabri. In 2001 a close relative, Basim Sabri, was captured by the FBI in a sting operation.
…”In 2001, FBI agents recorded Sabri giving Herron $5,000, cash intended to curry the lawmaker’s support for his development. Sabri was later convicted on three bribery counts and fined $75,000.” (link)….
FBI intercept in 2001, there’s the capture.  That’s the asset creation point for U.S. security to find a way to embed within Minneapolis, and assist the Sabri’s along the way.

The presented “former club owner”, Maya Santamaria, seen on television, appears to be a purposeful ‘front’ (a face useful in deflecting attention from the primary owner and operations). With that in mind, the scale of false information in/around the visible event, horrible as it was/is, creates layers and layers of purposeful misinformation and a need to control what the public sees in the media.

As I said before, I prefer to sit this one out; however, it is interesting.  If you consider that El Nuevo Rodeo might likely be a front for a three letter national security agency; or at the very least a valuable inside source for domestic intelligence and surveillance, things start reconciling rather quickly.
ENR also looks like a money laundering operation.  Part of that laundry operation appears to involve counterfeit currency.  This enterprise, writ large, looks like the answer to ‘how’ a U.S. agency infiltrated the background criminal network in Minnesota to watch and monitor for domestic threats.  So there are layers to what is visible and a myriad of interests involved.

Officer Derek Chauvin is a 19-year veteran of the Mineapolis police dept.  Derek Chauvin also worked at ENR for 17 years.  That timeline puts Derek Chauvin showing up to work security at El Neuvo Rodeo cantina and club right after the FBI busts Basim Sabri (everyone remembers what intel agencies were doing right after 9-11-01).

Susan Rice Say "Russia Behind These Occupy Main Street Riots And Whatnot"...,

foxnews |  Rice made the claim after top Democrats insisted for years that the White House had conspired with Russia, although Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence to support any conspiracy with Russia by any U.S. actor to influence the 2016 election. Her remarks also came amid efforts by Democrats to pin the blame on outside white supremacist agitators, even though data suggests the vast majority of arrested protesters in recent days are local.

"To designate Antifa a terrorist organization, fine, but let's also focus on the right-wing terrorist organizations," Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, referring to President Trump's decision earlier in the day to brand the left-wing militant group as a terrorist organization. "The white supremacists that he's called, in the past, very fine people."

Rice's claim that Trump praised white supremacists has been debunked. Like Rice, Trump specifically made a distinction between peaceful political protesters and white supremacists, whom Trump said he condemned "totally." ("Very fine people" were protesting the censorship and removal of a Civil War statue, Trump said.)

Rice continued: "We have peaceful protesters focused on the very real pain and disparities that we're all wrestling with that have to be addressed, and then we have extremists who've come to try to hijack those protests and turn them into something very different. And they're probably also, I would bet based on my experience, I'm not reading the intelligence these days, but based on my experience this is right out of the Russian playbook as well."

"I would not be surprised to learn that they have fomented some of these extremists on both sides using social media," Rice said. "I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are funding it in some way, shape, or form."

Even left-of-center commentators were bewildered by Rice's claim, which was not supported by any evidence. Although Mueller concluded that Russian-linked actors sought to use social media to influence the 2016 election, no evidence surfaced to show that their effort was successful in any measurable way. Earlier this year, the DOJ abruptly dropped Mueller's once-heralded prosecution of a Russian troll farm, just days before trial.

Who's REALLY Doing The LOOTING In The "Occupy Main Street" Reorganization?

jacobin |  Headlines this morning are all about looting — specifically, looting in Minneapolis, after the police killing of an unarmed African-American man was caught on video. In the modern vernacular, that word “looting” is loaded — it comes with all sorts of race and class connotations. And we have to understand that terms like “looting” are an example of the way our media often imperceptibly trains us to think about economics, crime, and punishment in specific and skewed ways.

Working-class people pilfering convenience-store goods is deemed “looting.” By contrast, rich folk and corporations stealing billions of dollars during their class war is considered good and necessary “public policy” — aided and abetted by arsonist politicians in Washington lighting the crime scene on fire to try to cover everything up.

To really understand the deep programming at work here, consider how the word “looting” is almost never used to describe the plundering that has become the routine policy of our government at a grand scale that is far larger than a vandalized Target store.

Indeed, if looting is defined in the dictionary as “to rob especially on a large scale” using corruption, then these are ten examples of looting that we rarely ever call “looting”:
  1. The Fed Bailed Out the Investor Class“: “Thanks to this massive government subsidy, large companies like Boeing and Carnival Cruises were able to avoid taking money directly — and sidestep requirements to keep employees on.”
  2. Millionaires To Reap 80% of Benefit From Tax Change In Coronavirus Stimulus“: “The change — which alters what certain business owners are allowed to deduct from their taxes — will allow some of the nation’s wealthiest to avoid nearly $82 billion of tax liability in 2020.”
  3. Stealth Bailout’ Shovels Millions of Dollars to Oil Companies“: “A provision of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law gives [companies] more latitude to deduct recent losses. . . . The change wasn’t aimed only at the oil industry. However, its structure uniquely benefits energy companies that were raking in record profits.”
  4. The Tax-Break Bonanza Inside the Economic Rescue Package“: “As part of the economic rescue package that became law last month, the federal government is giving away $174 billion in temporary tax breaks overwhelmingly to rich individuals and large companies.”
  5. Wealthiest Hospitals Got Billions in Bailout for Struggling Health Providers“: “Twenty large chains received more than $5 billion in federal grants even while sitting on more than $100 billion in cash.”
  6. Airlines Got the Sweetest Coronavirus Bailout Around“: “The $50 billion the government is using to prop up the industry is a huge taxpayer gift to shareholders.”
  7. Large, Troubled Companies Got Bailout Money in Small-Business Loan Program“: “The so-called Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to help prevent small companies from capsizing as the economy sinks into what looks like a severe recession. . . . But dozens of large but lower-profile companies with financial or legal problems have also received large payouts under the program.”
  8. Public Companies Received $1 Billion Meant For Small Businesses“: “Recipients include 43 companies with more than 500 workers, the maximum typically allowed by the program. Several other recipients were prosperous enough to pay executives $2 million or more.”
  9. Firms That Left U.S. to Cut Taxes Could Qualify for Fed Aid“: “Companies that engaged in so-called corporate inversion transactions while maintaining meaningful U.S. operations appear to be eligible for two new programs.”
  10. The K Street Bailout“: “Lobbyists already got bailed out, in effect, when corporations got bailed out. This is kind of the ultimate in double dipping; corporations are nursed back to health by the sheer force of Federal Reserve commitments, this allows them to keep their lobbying expenses up, and then lobbyists lobby for free money for themselves.”
This looting is having a real-world effect: as half a billion people across the globe could be thrown into poverty and as 43 million Americans are projected to lose their health care coverage, CNBC reports that “America’s billionaires saw their fortunes soar by $434 billion during the U.S. lockdown between mid-March and mid-May.”

Monday, June 01, 2020

Smart Cities? REALLY?!?! Mr. Greene And SPECTRE Are Coming For Your Water Peasants!!!

truthout |  Is Chester, Pennsylvania, the proverbial canary in the coal mine? Sure does look like it.

The Philadelphia suburb is trying to sell its drinking water system. “The city’s fiscal issues have been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland wrote in an April letter to residents. “It is our hope that the fiscal problems will be of a limited duration, however, as there is a path to financial stability on the horizon.”

That “path to financial stability” is to hand over the Octoraro Reservoir and the surrounding 1,358 acres of public land to a private corporation. Water bills would almost certainly go up, because, on average, private water utilities charge 59 percent more than public utilities. The system’s public workers would be outsourced (and almost certainly paid less). And all that land could be fenced off from public use.

For what? Somewhere around $200 million. A nice chunk of change, given Chester’s longtime budget issues. But add up the headaches and rate increases that often come with privatization, plus the loss of public control and land access, and it wouldn’t be worth it.

“A lot of people around here take ownership of [the reservoir],” a nearby resident told Lancaster Online. “We’re proud of it. It would be a crime.”

Why should anyone care outside of Chester? Because vulture capitalists might be coming your way soon.

Like during the Great Recession, state and local revenues are cratering. State governments are looking at a $765 billion budget shortfall over the next three years. Rainy day funds are woefully inadequate. States can raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy — and they should. But the federal government has to send aid to states and localities rather than continue to overwhelmingly help large corporations.

Until then, companies like Aqua America — the front-runner in Chester — and the entire infrastructure privatization industry will be licking their lips. Global Water Intelligence, an industry insider rag, writes, “The inability to raise water rates … [and] an instant reduction in tax revenues for many municipalities on the back of job losses brought about by COVID-19 could accelerate acquisition opportunities for investor-owned [i.e., private] water utilities.”

How Will Cities And States Dig Themselves Out Of Their Deepening Financial Holes?

turcopelier |  The governments of the really big cities of the US were in fiscal trouble BEFORE the COVID crisis.  The Democratic Party has long governed these places and throughout that period they made promises with regard to disbursements that far exceeded expected revenues.  As an example, pensions for city employees were inflated to incredible levels.  The NY City Police Department has 40,000 employees, etc., etc.  With the rise in these obligations came massive growth in state and local taxes in these big city localities.

The near elimination of deductions for State and Local Taxes (SALT) in the Federal Income tax after 2017 was a mighty blow to rich people resident in the big cities.  The loss of the SALT deduction in federal income taxes has greatly increased the departure of the moneyed class from these places. Where are they going?  Since the US is a federal republic in which each state has its own law code and tax system, the rich can flee to states where there are much lower taxes.  Texas,  and Florida are examples.

As these people and their money depart, the tax base shrinks proportionately but the expenditures have not shrunk thus far.  The governments of these cities have not been able to face the needed abandonment of the welfare and big government models that they have built.

And now, pilgrims we have the phenomenon of COVID-19 and the devastation wrought by government forced closures upon the many thousands of small businesses that lined the streets of these cities ante-COVID.

People are being trained by "staying home" to understand that they really do not need a lot of these businesses.  They are also being made to understand that working from home is not a bad way to live.  Their employers are being taught that perhaps they do not need to carry the burden of massive rented space in towering office buildings at the city's center.

Mayor Lucas Still Tryna Secure Funding From A Central Authoritay That Has Abandoned Him...,

indymedia |  Being a god on Earth is a natural human desire, and saving someone else is the closest we’ll ever come to achieving it. All Greek mythology and every major religion that followed has really been devoted to that single premise: the hero who leads the way is half god and half human, fueled as much by pity as by power.

When the Greeks created the heroic ideal, they didn’t choose a word that meant ‘Dies Trying’ or ‘Massacres Bad Guys.’ They went with ‘heros’---"protector." Heroes aren’t perfect; with a god as one parent and a mortal as the other, they’re perpetually teetering between two destinies. What tips them toward greatness is a sidekick, a human connection who helps turn the spigot on the power of compassion. Empathy, the Greeks believed, was a source of strength, not softness; the more you recognized yourself in others and connected with their distress, the more endurance, wisdom, cunning, and determination you could tap into.

Conservatives frequently say that socialists want to have everything handed to them---that instead of complaining, they should be buckling up, showing up to work every day, and achieving something the "hard way." This seems a bit odd, considering that, all in all, achieving a complete and revolutionary overhaul of long-standing economic and social structures against the wishes of all the world’s centers of power is probably harder than, say, becoming a reasonably successful middle manager with two cars.

Our idea of what a revolution is like, how it is carried out, and who it is carried out by has been warped by our own cultural propaganda, and by the romantic Marxist propaganda of the twentieth century. We have this idea that revolutions are led by rational-minded, tea-sipping men in three-pointed hats who discuss the rights of man while burning the candle at both ends. Or we’re warped by the Marxist ideal of revolution: a rational, inevitable historical process in which the most enlightened, most sympathetic, least overdressed human beings team up with the Historical Trend itself to effect a glorious, clean revolution. In fact, revolutions are messy, ugly, gory affairs. Nowhere in our popular notion of revolutions are such factors as stupidity, bad luck, unintended comedy, and revolting madness allowed in. Yet most of the time revolutions are ‘led,’ by people we would call nutcases and who indeed were considered nutcases during their time---and in all likelihood were nutcases. While time and distance provide a romantic view of revolutions, at the time when they actually occur, they usually seem bizarre, uncalled-for, frightening, and evil to their contemporaries, which is why they almost always seem snuffed out at their inception.

Our lives and our movements today are as shaped by the political prisoners who still sit behind concrete walls as the prisons themselves invisibly shape the landscape of the world we seek to make more just. Many have had their lives either ended by the state or have been tried, convicted, and jailed for nothing more than the crime of loving their people enough to attempt a revolution in the United States.

They remain behind walls, often isolated, and at times tortured for their political beliefs. To accept this fact is to ask what ideas can be so dangerous that those who hold it in their heads must be hidden from us? To understand that these people and their circumstance do indeed exist is a necessary first step for a country whose cloak of democracy keeps us in denial. Americans believe political prisoners are a fact in countries like China, Iran, and Cuba but live the lie of the US government’s denial of the existence of US political prisoners within its borders.

We could live in a sustainable, just, free, and peaceful world. And yet we are descending into a world of perpetual wars; slavery; ignorance; overwork side by side with unemployment; vacant homes side by side with homelessness; specialization; crass materialism; contaminated food, water, and air; destitution; despair.

Since the men in the shadows are not about to change, the only hope is their removal from power---by any means necessary. Unfortunately, given these men’s cohesiveness and organizational skills, given their power over our minds, given their ability to convince the vast majority to act against its convictions and interests, given their success in establishing cross-generational dynasties, such removal presents humanity with a herculean task.