Don’t Like Militarized Police and Mass Incarceration? Blame Progressivism. Reply

By Thaddeus Russell

Reason

Our cities are saturated with militarized law enforcement officers. An extraordinarily high number of American civilians are killed by police each year. The U.S. prison population is the largest in the world. And we are only beginning to understand why.

In recent years, scholars such as Naomi Murakawa and Marie Gottschalk and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement have broken from the civil rights generation’s obeisance to the Democratic Party, and from the left’s reflexive assumption that “law and order” Republicans are exclusively to blame for this situation. Instead, they have persuasively argued that much of today’s criminal justice regime originated in policies forged by liberal Democrats in the second half of the 20th century, in particular under the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Yet even this new and welcome historical analysis of militarized policing and mass incarceration does not go deep enough.

The campaign to criminalize victimless behaviors and then build a carceral system large and efficient enough to contain the criminals it would create began long before the 1960s, with the formation of the political regime we now call liberalism. The intellectuals and policy makers who created the modern wars on drugs and crime were the direct descendants of the original progressives, who emerged at the turn of the 20th century. Those progressives consistently argued that disruptive and marginal populations should be encouraged to assimilate into the formal culture of the country and to adopt the responsibilities of American citizenship, but they also held that individuals who refused to do so should be removed from society. Indeed, it could be said that progressivism was created around those twin projects.

Unlike scientific racists, who were the dominant ideologists of race until World War II, progressives generally maintained that there were no innate barriers in any race of people to acquiring the personality of a “good” American. Progressives believed that certain races and nationalities had not attained the level of civilization of white Americans and northern Europeans, but also thought those peoples could and should be raised to that level. That is, most progressives were simultaneously anti-racist and hostile to cultures other than their own. Immigrants who brought alien ways of living, radical political ideas, and criminal behavior into the U.S. were invited into progressives’ settlement houses, where they were given free vocational education, subsidized room and board, and instructions on the proper attitudes and behaviors of Americans. Those who demonstrated a willingness to follow the rules of their new society—even those who were originally believed to be of an inferior race, such as Italians, Jews, and Slavs—were deemed worthy of full citizenship.

Most progressives believed that the culture of blacks was especially retarded, but they nonetheless funded hundreds of settlement houses for blacks and helped establish the first major civil rights organizations, the Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. One mission of those organizations was to eliminate the “pathologies” of native black culture, to “adjust or assimilate” blacks to the dominant culture, and to make them into “orderly citizens.” This was a brutal and puritanical assimilationism, but it ran directly counter to the belief of the scientific racists that blacks were biologically incapable of becoming civilized. Nonetheless, progressives acknowledged that some immigrants and blacks and even some native-born whites would choose renegade lives of crime over constrained lives as citizens, and for that eventuality they created the basis of what is now called the carceral state.

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Trump Regime Seeks to Strengthen the Police State Reply

Not exactly a surprise.

MSN.Com

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the vast majority of suspects, a reversal of Obama-era policies that is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms.

The move has long been expected from Sessions, a former federal prosecutor who cut his teeth during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and who has promised to make combating violence and drugs the Justice Department’s top priority.

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The Iron Jaws of the Police State: Trump’s America Is a Constitution-Free Zone Reply

“Policing is broken… It has evolved as a paramilitary, bureaucratic, organizational arrangement that distances police officers from the communities they’ve been sworn to protect and serve. When we have shooting after shooting after shooting that most people would define as at least questionable, it’s time to look, not just at a few bad apples, but the barrel. And I’m convinced that it is the barrel that is rotted.”— Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief

By John W. Whitehead

Rutherford Institute

Please.

Somebody give Attorney General Jeff Sessions a copy of the Constitution.

And while you’re at it, get a copy to President Trump, too.

In fact, you might want to share a copy with the nation’s police officers, as well.

I have my doubts that any of these individuals—all of whom swore to uphold and defend the Constitution—have ever read any of the nation’s founding documents.

Had they actually read and understood the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, there would be no militarized police, no mass surveillance, no police shootings of unarmed individuals, no SWAT team raids, no tasering of children, no asset forfeiture schemes or any of the other government-sanctioned abuses that get passed off as law and order these days.

We’ve got serious problems in this country, and they won’t be solved on the golf course, by wining and dining corporate CEOs, giving local police forces more military equipment, locking down the nation, or pretending that the only threats to our freedoms are posed by forces beyond our borders or by “anti-government” extremists hiding among us.

So far, Trump’s first 100 days in office have been no different from Obama’s last 100 days, at least when it comes to the government’s ongoing war on our freedoms.

Government corruption remains at an all-time high.

Police shootings and misconduct have continued unabated.

The nation’s endless wars continue to push us to the brink of financial ruin.

And “we the people” are still being treated as if we have no rights, are entitled to no protections, and exist solely for the purpose of sustaining the American police state with our hard-earned tax dollars.

Just take the policing crisis in this country, for instance.

Sessions—the chief lawyer for the government and the head of the Justice Department, which is entrusted with ensuring that the nation’s laws are faithfully carried out and holding government officials accountable to abiding by their oaths of office to “uphold and defend the Constitution”—doesn’t think we’ve got a policing problem in America.

In fact, Sessions thinks the police are doing a great job (apart from “the individual misdeeds of bad actors,” that is).

For that matter, so does Trump.

Really, really great.

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Unraveling Political Theory: What is Neoliberalism? Reply

To understand the world of politics and change it for the better, it’s paramount that people begin to study political theory and the ways in which it has manifest throughout history up into the present day. By bringing light to the origins of political and philosophical thought, the present day becomes all the more explainable because one is now able to see the logical progression of such manifestations.

With this urge to better understand the root of many of the common political ideologies present in the world, The Last American Vagabond has decided to team up with Keith Preston in a new podcast series in which the who, what, where, when and how of different political theories will be explored.

My Take on the “Muslim Travel Ban” Reply

A number of people have for my views on the so-called “Muslim travel ban” imposed by the Trump administration. Here goes:

Statistically, the evidence shows that right-wing terrorists have been slightly more violent in the years since 9-11 than Islamists, at least in the US obviously. But the meaning I take from this data is that the neocons and other hawks are blowing the Islamic terrorism threat way out of proportion, while liberals and the Left blow the right-wing terrorism threat out of proportion. Both groups need these false narratives to be true for ideological reasons.

The neocons and other hawks want a permanent war against Islam and the Left wants a permanent war against whitey, so there always has to be some looming threat on the horizon. The real violence is the US comes mostly from inner city gangs that murder each other over drug dealing disputes, from fights and domestic violence that spirals out of control, and from the mentally ill or lone nuts like Adam Lanza, Dylan Roof, or Omar Mateen.

September 11, 2001 was a singular but spectacular incident that has predictably kept plenty of people up in arms ever since. The OKC bombing in ’95, which killed about 150, had the same impact on the Left. I remember how after OKC the Left was saying many more such acts were just around the corner. But over 20 years later there’s been no such thing. The same thing happened with 9-11. I remember people talking about how there was going to be nuclear destruction of US cities and terrorism with bioweapons and all kinds of stuff. But 15 years later there’s only been a handful of incidents like Orlando, San Bernardino, and Ft. Hood that were perpetrated by lone nuts or small groups of friends acting as freelancers.

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How to Fix the Left 1

By Alden Braddock

Peoples Post Modernist

Reject liberal(isms). Embrace your will to power.

The Left (even in radical circles)in many respects has failed as a movement. Race baiting, class politics, compromise on top of compromise and a clumsy at best praxis to achieving the ends we strive for are what we have now and accepting this reality is the only what we can now move past it. The old God is dead and we shall lay the groundwork of our stronghold on His grave. In order to do this we must be willing to embrace some new ideas;

1. We must stop pandering to identity politics. Treating people as collectives or even worse as sociological concepts trips individual action of any meaning and obfuscates our shared goal of fostering a world of self sufficiency, unshackled creative expression and freedom from imposed conditions. Yes, we can see the grave injustices levied against minorities by the state but recent events have made it clear that our cure is far worse than the disease. Arguing over who oppresses who, supporting language policing in an effort to hide from open dialogue and stick to our safe spaces have done us all a great disservice. Revolution never happens within a person’ comfort zone.

2. We must be willing to do what the right has done; collaborate with a wide variety of anti-state affinity groups (hard greens, third world nationalists, agorists, gender-nihilist/queer organizations, ext.) in order to crush our opposition and while we’re at it crush everybody’s enemy the neo-liberal/globalist.

3. We must be ruthless but use violence with tact and be willing to organize. Providing aid, organization/mobilization to and radicalizing groups like BLM and focusing on the core idea which motivate dissent (opposition to police brutality)instead of race and gender baiting will take us much further in achieving our long term goals

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SF judge explains why 66,000 arrest warrants were discarded Reply

By Bob Egelko

San Francisco Gate

San Francisco’s Presiding Judge John Stewart explained to the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, why he and his colleagues discarded 66,000 arrest warrants issued over five years for so-called quality-of-life crimes. Photo: STOCK XCHANGE

San Francisco’s chief judge says he and his colleagues discarded 66,000 arrest warrants issued over five years for quality-of-life crimes, like sleeping on the sidewalk, because it made no sense to lock people up for fines they couldn’t afford.

The crimes, which also include urinating on sidewalks and being drunk in public, are infractions punishable only by fines. But when those who were cited failed to show up in court, judges in the past have issued bench warrants ordering them to appear, with a sentence of five days in jail for failing to show up.

But San Francisco Superior Court judges stopped issuing the warrants a year ago and recently disposed of about 66,000 bench warrants issued since January 2011. The city’s police union and some members of the public have protested, but Presiding Judge John Stewart defended the court’s action Tuesday in a meeting with The Chronicle’s editorial board.

“You’re putting somebody in jail because they’re poor and can’t pay a fine,” he said. “We got a lot of criticism, but we thought it was the right thing to do.”

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The Illogic of Indiscriminate Incarceration Reply

By Jacob Sullum

Seychelles, a group of 115 islands off the east coast of Africa with 92,000 residents, does not figure prominently on many lists, but it leads the world in locking people up. It is the only country with a higher incarceration rate than the United States.

If the reforms recommended in a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice were fully implemented, the U.S. would fall from second to fourth place on that list—behind Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Turkmenistan, but still far ahead of every other liberal democracy, not to mention Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe. The report is nevertheless an admirable effort to grapple with the morally and fiscally pressing question of who belongs behind bars and who doesn’t.

Between 1974 and 2007, the U.S. imprisonment rate (excluding people in local jails) soared from 102 to 506 per 100,000, thanks to changes in sentencing (including mandatory minimums and “three strikes” laws), parole (including “truth in sentencing” laws), and prosecutorial practices (including an increased tendency to bring charges). Since 2007 the imprisonment rate has declined a bit, but it is still more than four times as high as in the mid-1970s.

This imprisonment binge was largely a response to crime rates, which rose dramatically from the 1960s until the early ’90s, when they began a long slide. Today the violent and property crime rates are half what they were in 1991.

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“Black Lives Matter has a plantation mentality” 2

So says former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. Here’s the money quote:

“When it first formed, armed BPP members patrolled Oakland neighbourhoods – in their iconic blue-shirt, leather jacket, black beret combo – to keep an eye on the police. They were caricatured as violent militants, but they were standing up for rights as old as the Constitution itself. Newton, a law student, made himself an expert on gun law. Whenever the cops piped up, he’d blast them with the Second Amendment, Supreme Court judgements, chapter and verse: ‘I will observe you carrying out your duties whether you like it or not!’

By Tom Slater

Spiked Online

“I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does, so I can’t tell you how it compares to what the Black Panther Party was. I know what the BPP was. I know the lives we lost, the struggle we put into place, the efforts we made, the assaults on us by the police and government – I know all that. I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does. So if you can tell me, I’ll give you my thoughts.’

So says Elaine Brown, activist, singer and former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, talking to me from her home in Oakland, California. She doesn’t like my question. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary, socialist, black-power organisation formed in Oakland by then college students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. And, as journalists scrabble to pen pieces about ‘what’s changed’, cack-handed comparisons abound.

I ask Brown about Black Lives Matter, the movement that erupted in the wake of the shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. This nebulous hashtag-come-protest movement has been compared – both by its supporters and detractors – with the BPP; it’s either hailed as a continuation of the struggle or slammed as a resurgence in ‘divisive’, ‘militant’ black nationalism. Talking to Brown it becomes clear that both sides give BLM too much credit.

‘There is no comparison’, she says. ‘The next wave of young people running out here, who are complaining and protesting about the murders of young black men and women by the police all over the country, they will protest but they will not rise up in an organised fashion, with an agenda, to create revolutionary change… We advocated community self-defence organisations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights.’

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NO CONFIDENCE: Vote for Yourself Reply

unfit-to-rule-clinton-trump

In the face of a particularly pitiful election selection, Ann Sterzinger makes the case for giving oneself the first and final vote.

Personally, were I American, I’d either just stay home or turn up only to draw a cock on the ballot paper, in line with my anti-democratic precedent (#Brexit exempted). Still, I suppose voting for oneself, or “no confidence”, works as another way to inoculate oneself from the pozz of the team-sport/herd-animal mentality undergirding electoral politics.

Also: Hurhur…she said “minge”….

~MRDA~

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Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Strike Began Today 2

In honor of the September 9, 1971 Attica prisoner uprising, a nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage has begun today. Reports say that a full work stoppage has occurred at Holman prison in Alabama. Chelsea Manning has also begun a hunger strike. Other strikes and actions have been reported in prisons in South Carolina, North Carolina, Kansas, New York, California, Virginia, Florida and Guantanamo. The Nation has reported that this may turn into the largest prison strike in US history.

Organizers have called this strike to end the slave conditions in US prisons, saying:

They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.

The full call to action is republished below.


Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.

Get it as a zine PDF. En Espanol or mailroom friendly

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

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How America’s mass incarceration disaster became a bipartisan rallying cry Reply

It really is interesting how the police in the US has become so pervasive that it’s starting to get attention from both the mainstream Left and mainstream Right, in spite of the divisiveness that otherwise defines contemporary politics. This article also makes the interesting observation that reform efforts tend to be more successful in politically homogeneous localities.

By Noah Berlatsky

Quartz

America’s mass incarceration disaster has been a bipartisan effort. In 1970, there were less than 200,000 people in American state and federal prison. In 2014, there were more than 1.5 million.

Republicans and Democrats collaborated to create this sevenfold increase. Former US presidents Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush, as well as both parties in Congress, passed draconian federal drug and sentencing laws while state governments and local prosecutors embarked on a 30-year incarceration binge. The result of this irresponsible, cross-party consensus is that the US now has by far the largest prison population in the world, both in terms of absolute numbers and rate of incarceration. The United States has 716 people incarcerated for every 100,000 people in the population. In comparison, China’s rate is about 121 for every 100,000 people.

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The Greatest Threat to Our Freedoms Reply

By John W. Whitehead

Counterpunch

There is nothing more dangerous than a government of the many.  The U.S. government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.

The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror.

More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

As I explain in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, when the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

What we have is a government of wolves.

Worse than that, we are now being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.

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When Everything is a Crime Reply

Few people understand the price of overregulation like Harvey Silverglate. Over his long career as an attorney and journalist, Silverglate has seen the rising bureaucratic class enact hundreds of thousands of federal regulations and vaguely-worded statutes. The result has been the criminalization of everyday life. From university campuses to corporate boardrooms, ever more citizens are facing severe punishments for behavior that was once considered harmless.

Silverglate himself has been repeatedly pursued by the FBI, only to see the investigations come to nothing.

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4th Amendment Under Attack in Supreme Court Decision 1

Truth Axis

On Monday the US Supreme Court ruled to uphold evidence gathered during an illegal investigatory stop in Utah. The case, Utah vs. Strieff, has wide implications for the 4th Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

The Supreme Court decided that even if the stop of Edward Strieff by narcotics detective Douglas Fackrell was illegal, the evidence gathered during that stop is admissible in court for Strieff’s prosecution. Strieff was stopped by detective Fackrell after he was observed leaving a suspected drug house. Fackrell found drug contraband on Strieff only minutes after the stop, and then discovered an outstanding warrant for Strieff’s arrest. The Supreme Court ruled that the discovery of a valid, pre-existing warrant unconnected to the investigation was enough to make the search and evidence legal and that “Officer Fackrell’s purpose was not to conduct a suspicionless fishing expedition but was to gather information about activity inside a house whose occupants were legitimately suspected of dealing drugs.”
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