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  1. Atypical is offline
    09-11-2016, 02:57 PM #1

    Important Stuff - ICYMI

    9/11 at 15: The Falling Dominoes of September

    September 11, 2016
    By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

    And soon now we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time.

    -- Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men"

    Every one of us can close our eyes and go back to that day. The images will be there, projected on the backs of our eyelids in vivid color. The uncertainty after the initial explosion, the jarring realization after the second, the paper raining on the city from the gashes in the buildings followed by the bodies raining from the windows when they chose falling over fire. Finally, the collapse, the fury of dust and ash boiling through the city, people painted white with the bonemeal of co-workers and undone concrete as they ran, and ran, and ran.

    In the days to follow we were confronted with the faces of those who charged in when everyone else was running out, trying to save as many as they could. In the close-knit firefighter neighborhoods of Rockaway, there was keening from behind closed doors in anticipation of the funeral bell services to come. Blue skies became a menacing thing, airplanes in flight an active threat. Most of us were not in those doomstruck buildings, not on the streets of New York when it happened, not in the Pentagon or in a Pennsylvania field, but in a great many ways we were all running for our lives that day. We are still running all these years later, and the ashes are still in our hair.

    We are still running because September 11 never ended. To the contrary, it grew, expanded, metastasized and ultimately subsumed this nation. We are a wildly different place, and a wildly different people than we were fifteen years ago. We are barefoot at the airport talking on tapped phones with the latest war dispatches garbling from the television. Down in the basement, a pile of plastic sheeting and duct tape lays in the corner under a shroud of cobwebs.

    We accept these things after a decade and a half of taming and training. The cops look like soldiers now, the neighborhoods they patrol no longer areas to protect and serve but hostile territories to be conquered, and this is supposed to be normal. Police in military gear wreak havoc in Ferguson and elsewhere. Citizens become enemy combatants to be shot down or choked out because when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. September 11 gave us that, thanks to the wars.

    The dominoes began falling early. "We have to counteract the shockwave of the evildoer," said George W. Bush less than a month after the attack, "by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." There was the invasion of Afghanistan, which pivoted almost immediately into an invasion of Iraq that has proven to be the single greatest foreign policy blunder in American history, "Mission Accomplished" notwithstanding. Well, "blunder" may be too strong a word; after all, George and his friends made a mint off the years of war that followed. Thus, Mr. Bush fulfilled his destiny.

    When Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi Army because they were Sunni Hussein loyalists, ISIS was born. These were not teenagers throwing rocks in the streets. The Iraqi Army was battle-tested from the long conflict with the US, and some within the ranks had even seen action in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. They know tactics and they know strategy, and when Bush's war in Iraq created a massive refugee crisis that upended Syria, they found fertile ground in which to grow. In truth, however, ISIS was born on that perfect Tuesday morning to the scream of airplane engines and the smell of scorched blood.

    September 11 gave us the horror and shame of Abu Ghraib as well as the disgrace of Guantánamo Bay. It gave us the concept of the Unitary Executive through which the president wields unlimited power in defiance of constitutional law. The PATRIOT Act exploded the surveillance dam and flooded the nation with watching eyes and ears. The trillions spent on the wars combined with Bush's early tax cuts for rich people turned the economic downturn into almost an extinction-level event. Convenient terror alerts became a nimble way to control the national conversation. We had to watch what we say, after all. Meanwhile, the corporate "news" media lapped it up like dogs. War footage makes for great ratings.

    After September 11 we somehow became a nation that needed a week to get water to the Superdome in New Orleans to help the survivors after Hurricane Katrina. This was institutional racism, but it was also more: we became a nation of blunderers after that Tuesday. We managed to murder a fair swath of the Gulf of Mexico when the Deepwater Horizon blew out. The best we could do on health care reform was to deliver the whole thing to the insurance industry. Congress contemplated new and novel ways to deny people the vote while forcing transvaginal ultrasounds on women seeking legal abortions. People saw Jesus in the red pulp of sliced tomatoes. It is all of a piece.

    Oh, and we got the absurd presidential election of 2016 featuring a woman who voted for both the PATRIOT Act and the Iraq War Resolution, and a man whose racism, sexism, rank ignorance and flat-out fearmongering would be as clownish as his bright orange mien were it not so unutterably dangerous. When a nation bends its knee to fear, allows itself to be robbed, lied to and spied upon with no consequences in the offing for the perpetrators, Hillary v. Donald is pretty much the unavoidable byproduct of that rank stew.

    The falling dominoes of September 11, more than anything, have left us a nation entombed in shadow and gloom. The horizon holds no hope, but is to be feared, for The Enemy may be huddled there just out of sight. Fifteen years and a day ago, we were a profoundly different people, until the following dawn when that horizon birthed us for the worse. It has not ended. It may never end. It is the clenched fist in our chest.

    We greeted the 21st century with great anticipation. One year, nine months and eleven days into that new century, that anticipation exploded in sorrow and dread. Fifteen years later, the pall of poison smoke from that day still hangs low over us all. The great mission for the remainder of this century is plain: We must get out from under the control mechanism September 11 has become. We must stop the dominoes from falling. Doing so will require a foray into our deepest selves, a confrontation with what we have allowed to happen. It will not be easy, for there are some who enjoy being afraid and have a need to be told what to do, and they will fight to keep matters as they stand. There is also the monstrous profit motive to overcome. There will be pain, but pain always walks hand in hand with healing.

    This is our mission in the years to come. It must be done. The alternative is dissolution and despair.

    So let us begin.
    Last edited by Atypical; 09-11-2016 at 03:02 PM.

  2. Atypical is offline
    10-02-2016, 09:11 AM #2
    Do Not Resist': A chilling look at the normalization of warrior cops

    By Radley Balko September 30

    The haunting thing about the new policing documentary “Do Not Resist” is what it doesn’t show. There are no images of cops beating people. No viral videos of horrifying shootings. Sure, there are scenes from the Ferguson protests in which riot cops deploy tear gas. But there’s no blood, no Tasings, no death. Yet when it was over, I had to force myself to exhale.

    What makes this movie so powerful is its terrifying portrayal of the mundanities of modern policing. I watched the movie weeks ago, but there are scenes that still flicker in my head. We all remember the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson. We’ve seen the photos. We saw the anger and the animus exchanged across the protest lines. What we didn’t see were the hours and hours before and after those moments. We didn’t see the MRAPs and other armored vehicles roll in, one at a time, slowly transforming an American town into a war zone. We didn’t hear the clomp of combat boots on asphalt in the quiet hours of the early morning, interrupted only by fuzzy dispatches over police radio.

    It’s one thing to show an MRAP — a vehicle built for war, and for a very specific purpose in a very specific type of war — being misused after a small-town police agency obtained it from the Defense Department. “Do Not Resist” takes you to the base where those vehicles are stored. A camera trained on the window captures hundreds of MRAPs — rows and rows and rows of them — scrolling by, all destined for a police agency somewhere in America. Meanwhile, an Army specialist explains how the troops who use the vehicles get hours and hours of training before they’re entrusted to drive the trucks on a battlefield. The Pentagon then gives the trucks to police agencies to use on U.S. streets with no accompanying training at all. Sometimes, the specialist says, a police agency will find a body part in one of the trucks. They try to avoid that. But after all, these are machines of war.

    The film crew then takes a ride with a small-town sheriff as he drives his hulking new MRAP through business districts and quiet neighborhoods — that is, once he figures out how to operate it. The most disturbing thing about this scene isn’t the truck itself, or the striking images of the truck in the town, or even the sheriff’s statement that it will probably mostly be used for drug raids. The most disturbing thing is that it simply doesn’t occur to the sheriff that the footage might be disturbing. He has no problem letting a film crew show this massive contraption built to withstand roadside bombs in a military convoy lumbering through his small town, because the notion that military vehicles aren’t appropriate for domestic policing is foreign to him.

    Then there’s the drug raid. It’s one thing to read about a “dynamic entry” drug raid in which the police mistakenly or intentionally kill someone, or in which someone mistakenly or intentionally kills a police officer. It’s awful and tragic and unnecessary. “Do Not Resist” doesn’t show one of those. It instead shows the sort of drug raid that’s far more common. The movie depicts the raid from the beginning, as the officers from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department tactical team are meeting to discuss strategy. Some are wearing T-shirts with the tactical team’s logo. It’s a human skull imposed over two crossed AR-15s.

    There are no children at the residence, the lead officer assures his colleagues. (There were.) There would be a significant quantity of illegal drugs at the house, another says. (There weren’t.) The tactical team then proceeds to raid the home of a black family in Richland County. Most officers storm the front door with their guns while one shatters some side windows as a distraction. Minutes go by. The officers’ body language eventually shows signs of frustration as their search for contraband continues to come up empty. Finally, someone finds a book bag with traces of marijuana at the bottom — not enough to smoke, much less sell. They arrest a young black man with long braids for possession.

    “I never one time said you’re a bad person,” the lead officer tells his arrestee, with an odd cordiality. “I just have a job to do, and you happen to be in the middle of it.”

    The officer also seems to know that the man is a student at a local technical college. He’s working toward a degree in construction. The man also runs a landscaping company to help pay for his education. The man later tells the officer that he was on his way to pick up some lawnmowers that morning. Knowing that he’s about to be arrested, he asks the officer if he could tell his employee that he was arrested and won’t be able to pick up the lawnmowers. He then gives the officer $876 in cash and asks it to give it to his employee to go pick up the mowers, along with a weed-eater.

    Instead, the officer confiscates the money under civil asset forfeiture laws. There is no obvious connection between the money and the pot residue. The man volunteered the cash, mostly because he didn’t want his arrest to hurt his business. In doing so, he provided ample evidence that the cash had nothing to do with illegal activity. Still, if unchallenged, the $876 will go back to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, even if the man is never charged with a crime. The cost of hiring an attorney for such a challenge would likely exceed $876.

    Meanwhile, the man’s father asks the officers whether the police would pay for the windows they just shattered. The lead officer tells him that breaking the windows was a tactic, then adds, “The moral of the story is, don’t sell drugs from your residence.” Perhaps realizing that he had no evidence for what he had just accused the man of doing, he tried to correct himself. “I didn’t say you were actually doing it, I just said — said you were associated with … ” and then there’s some mumbling.

    The striking thing about the footage is, again, the utter mundanity of the raid. A family was just violently raided over an immeasurable amount of pot. A man was arrested over that pot. The money he needed for his business was taken from him. Yet there’s no shame or embarrassment from the officers. There’s no panic that the whole thing was captured on video. That’s when it hits you. They don’t think they’ve made a mistake. This is what they do. The lead officers later tells the camera, matter-of-factly, that the raid turned up “a personal use amount of marijuana.” Perhaps realizing that he was also on camera back at the police station promising a much larger stash of drugs, he adds, “It happens. Drug warrants are, you know, 50-50.”

    The documentary also eschews voice-overs and talking heads and simply lets law enforcement officers speak for themselves. You don’t need a civil rights activist or ACLU attorney to tell you about the threats posed by militaristic, aggressive policing when law enforcement officers can make the point unintentionally — and thus more powerfully and persuasive — when they’re speaking freely.

    Cont'd Below

  3. Atypical is offline
    10-02-2016, 09:12 AM #3

    For example, the directors attended one of the many SWAT competitions across the country. One SWAT cop officer reflected on his first raid. “I was just trying not to smile. I thought it was so fun. I thought it was so cool,” he says. Since then, he says, he always loves to watch the “SWAT pups” (his term for first-year SWAT officers) on their first raid. “They’re always just smiling from ear to ear. They’re just on top of the world.” At risk of stating the obvious, the officers he’s describing are about to stage an armed, potentially lethal invasion of a private residence.

    Fittingly, the most chilling scene in the movie doesn’t take place on a city street, or at a protest, or during a drug raid. It takes place in a conference room. It’s from a police training conference with Dave Grossman, one of the most prolific police trainers in the country. Grossman’s classes teach officers to be less hesitant to use lethal force, urge them to be willing to do it more quickly and teach them how to adopt the mentality of a warrior. Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castille in July, had attended one of Grossman’s classes called “The Bulletproof Warrior” (though that particular class was taught by Grossman’s business partner, Jim Glennon).

    In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives. The room chuckles. But he’s clearly serious. “Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.”

    Grossman closes the class with a (literal) chest-pounding motivational speech that climaxes with Grossman telling the officers to find an overpass overlooking the city they serve. He urges them to look down on their city and know that they’ve made the world a better place. He then urges them to grip the overpass railing, lean forward and “let your cape blow in the wind.” The room gives him a standing ovation.

    Later, the documentary crew returns to the home of the South Carolina family that had been raided. The man the police arrested has been released from custody. “I thought they were looking for a terrorist,” says the man’s mother. “They tore down my house, my son went to jail, for a gram-and-a-half of marijuana that they shook out the bottom of a book bag.” In the background, a TV is tuned to live coverage of the funeral of South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church whom Dylann Roof was charged with murdering in 2015.

    Horrific as that South Carolina crime was, such incidents are thankfully rare. Crimes like that, the vicious beatings caught on viral videos and shootings by police officers get most of the attention — and they ought to get more. But it’s the mundanities of the drug war, the criminal-justice system and everyday policing that are far more destructive, pervasive and pernicious. And that’s what makes this movie so important.


    There are many ugly, frightening things happening in the country. This is one of the worst.


    Here is an example of what's in store for us.

    Official 'Outraged' About Charges After KC Library Arrests

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Oct 3, 2016, 3:20 PM E

    The executive director the Kansas City library system says he is "outraged" that prosecutors continue to pursue charges against a man who was arrested after asking pointed questions during a library discussion about the Middle East peace process and an employee who tried to intervene.

    Although the arrests occurred in May following a speech by author and diplomat Dennis Ross, the library system only recently went public about its opposition to charges, the Kansas City Star reported (

    R. Crosby Kemper III, executive director of the city's library system, said "we're going to be living in a different kind of country" if people can be arrested for asking questions at a library. "If this kind of behavior is unacceptable to the police, then I guess we're going to have to shut the library down."

    Issues arose after Ross finished speaking and took a question from Jeremy Rothe-Kushel concerning whether Jewish Americans like Rothe-Kushel should be concerned about actions by the U.S. and Israel that amount to "state-sponsored terrorism."

    "When are we going to stand up and be ethical Jews and Americans?" Rothe-Kushel asked.

    When Rothe-Kushel tried to ask another question, a private security guard grasped his arm, followed by an off-duty police officer, both employed by the Jewish Community Foundation. Rothe-Kushel then shouted, "Get your hands off of me right now!"

    Steve Woolfolk, director of public programming for the library, tried to intervene. Both men were arrested by off-duty officers.

    "Every police officer who was on duty that evening was very communicative and respectful," Rothe-Kushel said. But he said he would have left if he had been asked to and given the chance to do so.

    Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves said off-duty officers hired by the event sponsor acted properly in helping private security stop an audience member from asking follow-up questions.

    Rothe-Kushel is charged in city court with trespassing and resisting arrest. Woolfolk is charged with interfering with an arrest. Woolfolk said he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee when a police officer kneed him in the leg.

    Kemper said the private security guards had no right to remove a patron for asking a question.

    Ross' speech was the inaugural Truman and Israel Lecture, established by the Truman Library Institute and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City.


    Information from: The Kansas City Star,
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-05-2016 at 01:03 PM.

  4. Atypical is offline
    10-28-2016, 06:16 PM #4
    Oilfield Wastewater Used to Grow Food in California May Contain Toxins

    Friday, 28 October 2016 00:00
    By Maureen Nandini Mitra, Earth Island Journal

    Did you know that some of the fruits and veggies out on supermarket shelves are grown using wastewater from oil and gas operations? For the past several years, many drought-stricken farms in California's Central Valley, which produces 40 percent of the nation's fruits and vegetables, have been increasingly irrigating their crops with wastewater -- a practice the US Department of Agriculture does not restrict.

    Now a new report by the Environmental Working Group says that this wastewater is possibly tainted with toxic chemicals, including chemicals that can cause cancer and reproductive harm. Farmers in Kern County have irrigated some 95,000 acres of food crops with billions of gallons of oil field wastewater, according to the report, which is based on an analysis of state data.

    Actually, oil companies have been quietly selling wastewater for irrigation in California for decades, but it's only in recent years that the matter has become public knowledge. In the past, the state required regular testing for only a handful of pollutants to satisfy permit requirements for use of wastewater on agriculture. This is the first time we are getting a detailed look at the makeup of the toxic cocktail that could be lurking in the water.

    According to state data, oil companies operating in California have reported that recycled wastewater sold to Kern County irrigation districts since 2014 contained more than 20 million pounds and 2 million gallons of dozens of toxic chemicals. These chemicals included 16 that the state classifies as carcinogens or reproductive toxicants. Levels of the chemicals were not measured and a full assessment of what exactly is in this water is pretty much impossible because the companies have withheld the identity of almost 40 percent of the chemicals as so-called trade secrets.

    Currently, the lightly treated wastewater is blended with fresh water and then applied to almonds, pistachios, and citrus trees, as well as to grapes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, and potatoes grown in the Cawelo, North Kern, Jasmin, and Kern-Tulare Water Districts in Kern and Tulare Counties. According to an earlier EWG report, in some of these places the water can even be used as drinking water for livestock and for farmed fish.

    Although crops grown with this recycled water represent a small percentage of the food grown in the Central Valley, once the produce is at the grocery store, there's no way of telling it apart from other fruits and vegetables.

    The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has appointed an expert food safety panel to study the possible impact of using wastewater to grow food. Its findings are expected next year.

    Despite the new information about the mix of toxic chemicals present in oilfield wastewater, the California water board has refused to halt the practice, and, according to EWG, it is even allowing the expansion of the irrigation method.

    But EGW researchers say that while there's cause for concern, it doesn't mean that we should stop eating produce from California.

    "Although it is well-established that pollutants in water and soil can build up in crops -- especially root crops such as carrots and potatoes, which are grown in Kern County with oil field wastewater -- scientists don't know if that poses a health risk for people who eat the food," says the report, written by EWG senior scientist Tasha Stoiber. "A healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables outweighs uncertainties about chemicals in produce."


    This is an example of a practice that can go on for a very long time before any likely health effect is detected. Since corporations never care about anything but profit we are never made aware of any risks. If potential harm is publicized business always fights any suggested remedy; that can take years to resolve especially due to government's disinterest in consumer protection over corporate "relationships."

    We are all lab-rats depending on our interests and what we consume. And, few really care.
    Last edited by Atypical; 10-28-2016 at 06:19 PM.

  5. Atypical is offline
    11-02-2016, 11:32 AM #5
    Too Smug to Jail

    'The Economist' issues a myopic defense of the white-collar criminal

    By Matt Taibbi

    As we reach the close of an election season marked by anger toward the unaccountable rich, The Economist has chimed in with a defense of the beleaguered white-collar criminal.

    An editorial called "Jail bait" is the latest in a line of salvoes against what the magazine imagines is a wave of politically driven regulatory actions against corporate executives.

    The piece makes many of the usual Wall Street arguments: locking up executives wouldn't do any good, populist passions are ignorant, etc. But this is the crucial passage:

    "Most corporate crime is the result of collective action rather than individual wrongdoing—long chains of command that send (often half-understood) instructions, or corporate cultures that encourage individuals to take risky actions. The authorities have rightly adjusted to this reality by increasingly prosecuting companies rather than going after individual miscreants."

    Yikes! This extraordinary argument is cousin to the Lieutenant Calley defense, i.e., that soldiers bear no responsibility for crimes they were ordered to execute. The Economist here would have you believe that there's no such thing as an individual crime in a corporate context.

    This is a line you hear a lot not only in the finance community, but among the lawyers who defend the likes of banks and pharmaceutical companies.

    Former Attorney General Eric Holder, now back in his comfy old role as a partner in a prominent corporate defense firm, said almost exactly the same thing in a speech in New York two years ago (emphasis mine):

    "It remains true that, at some institutions that engaged in inappropriate conduct before, and may yet again, the buck still stops nowhere. Responsibility remains so diffuse, and top executives so insulated, that any misconduct could again be considered more a symptom of the institution's culture than a result of the willful actions of any single individual."

    That was a sitting attorney general saying people don't commit crimes – corporate culture commits crimes. No wonder there were no meaningful prosecutions after the financial crisis of 2008.

    Ambrose Bierce once said that a corporation was "an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility." Bierce was being funny, but this "individuals can't commit corporate crime" argument, sadly, is serious.

    It's an idea grounded in a belief system backed by syllogistic reasoning. We live in a capitalist economy; private companies need to innovate and take risks in order to succeed; therefore, we should not do anything to discourage innovation or risk-taking, or what The Economist calls "testing the rules":

    "Society should by all means punish white-collar criminals if they have obviously committed crimes and imposed harm. But it should resist the temptation to criminalize new businesses testing the rules. And it should certainly resist the temptation to single people out for harsh punishment simply because they are rich and successful."

    The magazine decries the backlash against banks after 2008 as irrational populism. It also praises prosecutors for not bringing cases against firms for things like selling faulty mortgage-backed securities, which are described as "perfectly legal (if unwise)."

    But this just isn't true. Most of the Wall Street scams that triggered what The Economist would decry as "populist" outrage in recent years weren't just morally despicable, but bluntly illegal. Many were just skyscraper-level versions of street crimes.

    A Mexican-American racetrack owner launders perhaps tens of millions for Mexican drug gangs and gets 20 years. HSBC does the same thing on a much grander scale and everyone walks.

    In the mortgage fraud cases, companies knowingly sold defective products to institutional investors, pension funds being a classic customer. Whistleblowers told of executives who knew they were selling investors packets of home loans prone to default, and did it anyway.

    These executives weren't "testing the rules" in an effort to innovate their way to the next superconductor or smartphone. This was just plain old criminal fraud, ripping people off, with minorities and the elderly suffering disproportionate losses. The state of Illinois got $84 million from just one bank, Citigroup, for its fraudulent marketing of dangerous securities to state retirement funds.

    In a non-corporate context, we'd consider this among the most serious kinds of crimes that we punish. What sentence would you want for someone who stole from your parents' retirement money? From your local teachers' union?

    It's bad enough that the self-pitying jerks on Wall Street who read magazines like The Economist think that paying taxes or giving employees benefits or adhering to any labor or environmental standards are unconscionable burdens. Now we're supposed to be so grateful for their sociopathic pursuit of profits that we should excuse them from the criminal code, too?

    What a bunch of clueless weasels these people are. Always lecturing the poor for wanting a free lunch, when they're the ones begging for a free ride.


    The rich, the powerful, the connected never commit crimes they just make "simple mistakes." It's only those below them that must be punished for ANY mistake they make. Selling loose cigarettes got someone killed.

    Rules and laws are made for those who are not in the "club." Anyone that tries to change things gets stomped. Bernie Sanders got the trademarked "treatment" from the DEMS.
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-02-2016 at 11:39 AM.

  6. Atypical is offline
    11-10-2016, 01:13 PM #6
    Democrats, Trump, And The Ongoing Dangerous Refusal To Learn The Lesson Of Brexit

    Glenn Greenwald

    THE PARALLELS BETWEEN the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’ even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president last night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

    The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.

    That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population — all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction — are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture they regard — not without reason — as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.

    After the Brexit vote, I wrote an article comprehensively detailing these dynamics, which I won’t repeat here but hope those interested will read. The title conveys the crux: “Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.” That analysis was inspired by a short, incredibly insightful, and now more relevant than ever post-Brexit Facebook note by the Los Angeles Times’s Vincent Bevins, who wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years.” Bevins went on: “Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”

    For those who tried to remove themselves from the self-affirming, vehemently pro-Clinton elite echo chamber of 2016, the warning signs that Brexit screechingly announced were not hard to see. Two short passages from a Slate interview I gave in July summarized those grave dangers: that opinion-making elites were so clustered, so incestuous, so far removed from the people who would decide this election — so contemptuous of them — that they were not only incapable of seeing the trends toward Trump but were unwittingly accelerating those trends with their own condescending, self-glorifying behavior.

    Like most everyone else who saw the polling data and predictive models of the media’s self-proclaimed data experts, I long believed Clinton would win, but the reasons why she very well could lose were not hard to see. The warning lights were flashing in neon for a long time, but they were in seedy places that elites studiously avoid. The few people who purposely went to those places and listened, such as Chris Arnade, saw and heard them loud and clear. The ongoing failure to take heed of this intense but invisible resentment and suffering guarantees that it will fester and strengthen. This was the last paragraph of my July article on the Brexit fallout:

    Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, [elites] are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to delegitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-10-2016 at 01:25 PM.

  7. Atypical is offline
    11-10-2016, 01:20 PM #7

    Beyond the Brexit analysis, there are three new points from last night’s results that I want to emphasize, as they are unique to the 2016 U.S. election and, more importantly, illustrate the elite pathologies that led to all of this:

    1. Democrats have already begun flailing around trying to blame anyone and everyone they can find — everyone except themselves — for last night’s crushing defeat of their party.

    You know the drearily predictable list of their scapegoats: Russia, WikiLeaks, James Comey, Jill Stein, Bernie Bros, The Media, news outlets (including, perhaps especially, The Intercept) that sinned by reporting negatively on Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks that what happened last night in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan can be blamed on any of that is drowning in self-protective ignorance so deep that it’s impossible to express in words.

    When a political party is demolished, the principal responsibility belongs to one entity: the party that got crushed. It’s the job of the party and the candidate, and nobody else, to persuade the citizenry to support them and find ways to do that. Last night, the Democrats failed, resoundingly, to do that, and any autopsy or liberal think piece or pro-Clinton pundit commentary that does not start and finish with their own behavior is one that is inherently worthless.

    Put simply, Democrats knowingly chose to nominate a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable, scandal-plagued candidate, who — for very good reason — was widely perceived to be a protector and beneficiary of all the worst components of status quo elite corruption. It’s astonishing that those of us who tried frantically to warn Democrats that nominating Hillary Clinton was a huge and scary gamble — that all empirical evidence showed that she could lose to anyone and Bernie Sanders would be a much stronger candidate, especially in this climate — are now the ones being blamed: by the very same people who insisted on ignoring all that data and nominating her anyway.

    But that’s just basic blame shifting and self-preservation. Far more significant is what this shows about the mentality of the Democratic Party. Just think about who they nominated: someone who — when she wasn’t dining with Saudi monarchs and being feted in Davos by tyrants who gave million-dollar checks — spent the last several years piggishly running around to Wall Street banks and major corporations cashing in with $250,000 fees for 45-minute secret speeches even though she had already become unimaginably rich with book advances while her husband already made tens of millions playing these same games. She did all that without the slightest apparent concern for how that would feed into all the perceptions and resentments of her and the Democratic Party as corrupt, status quo-protecting, aristocratic tools of the rich and powerful: exactly the worst possible behavior for this post-2008-economic-crisis era of globalism and destroyed industries.

    It goes without saying that Trump is a sociopathic con artist obsessed with personal enrichment: the opposite of a genuine warrior for the downtrodden. That’s too obvious to debate. But, just as Obama did so powerfully in 2008, he could credibly run as an enemy of the D.C. and Wall Street system that has steamrolled over so many people, while Hillary Clinton is its loyal guardian, its consummate beneficiary.

    Trump vowed to destroy the system that elites love (for good reason) and the masses hate (for equally good reason), while Clinton vowed to manage it more efficiently. That, as Matt Stoller’s indispensable article in The Atlantic three weeks ago documented, is the conniving choice the Democratic Party made decades ago: to abandon populism and become the party of technocratically proficient, mildly benevolent managers of elite power. Those are the cynical, self-interested seeds they planted, and now the crop has sprouted.

    Cont'd Below
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-10-2016 at 01:25 PM.

  8. Atypical is offline
    11-10-2016, 01:24 PM #8

    Of course there are fundamental differences between Obama’s version of “change” and Trump’s. But at a high level of generality — which is where these messages are often ingested — both were perceived as outside forces on a mission to tear down corrupt elite structures, while Clinton was perceived as devoted to their fortification. That is the choice made by Democrats — largely happy with status quo authorities, believing in their basic goodness — and any honest attempt by Democrats to find the prime author of last night’s debacle will begin with a large mirror.

    2. That racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are pervasive in all sectors of America is indisputable from even a casual glance at its history, both distant and recent.

    There are reasons why all presidents until 2008 were white and all 45 elected presidents have been men. There can be no doubt that those pathologies played a substantial role in last night’s outcome. But that fact answers very few questions and begs many critical ones.

    To begin with, one must confront the fact that not only was Barack Obama elected twice, but he is poised to leave office as a highly popular president: now viewed more positively than Reagan. America wasn’t any less racist and xenophobic in 2008 and 2012 than it is now. Even stalwart Democrats fond of casually branding their opponents as bigots are acknowledging that a far more complicated analysis is required to understand last night’s results. As the New York Times’s Nate Cohn put it: “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters. It’s not a simple racism story.” Matt Yglesias acknowledged that Obama’s high approval rating is inconsistent with depictions of the U.S. as a country “besotted with racism.”

    People often talk about “racism/sexism/xenophobia” vs. “economic suffering” as if they are totally distinct dichotomies. Of course there are substantial elements of both in Trump’s voting base, but the two categories are inextricably linked: The more economic suffering people endure, the angrier and more bitter they get, the easier it is to direct their anger to scapegoats. Economic suffering often fuels ugly bigotry. It is true that many Trump voters are relatively well-off and many of the nation’s poorest voted for Clinton, but, as Michael Moore quite presciently warned, those portions of the country that have been most ravaged by free trade orgies and globalism — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa — were filled with rage and “see [Trump] as a chance to be the human Molotov cocktail that they’d like to throw into the system to blow it up.” Those are the places that were decisive in Trump’s victory.

    As the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney put it:

    Low-income rural white voters in Pa. voted for Obama in 2008 and then Trump in 2016, and your explanation is white supremacy? Interesting.

    It has long been, and still is, a central American challenge to rid society of these structural inequalities. But one way to ensure those scapegoating dynamics fester rather than erode is to continue to embrace a system that excludes and ignores a large portion of the population. Hillary Clinton was viewed, reasonably, as a stalwart devotee, beloved agent, and prime beneficiary of that system, and thus could not possibly be viewed as a credible actor against it.

    3. Over the last six decades, and particularly over the last 15 years of the endless war on terror, both political parties have joined to construct a frightening and unprecedentedly invasive and destructive system of authoritarian power, accompanied by the unbridled authority vested in the executive branch to use it.

    As a result, the president of the United States commands a vast nuclear arsenal that can destroy the planet many times over; the deadliest and most expensive military ever developed in human history; legal authorities that allow him to prosecute numerous secret wars at the same time, imprison people with no due process, and target people (including U.S. citizens) for assassination with no oversight; domestic law enforcement agencies that are constructed to appear and act as standing, para-militarized armies; a sprawling penal state that allows imprisonment far more easily than most Western countries; and a system of electronic surveillance purposely designed to be ubiquitous and limitless, including on U.S. soil.

    Those who have been warning of the grave dangers these powers pose have often been dismissed on the ground that the leaders who control this system are benevolent and well-intentioned. They have thus often resorted to the tactic of urging people to imagine what might happen if a president they regarded as less than benevolent one day gained control of it. That day has arrived. One hopes this will at least provide the impetus to unite across ideological and partisan lines to finally impose meaningful limits on these powers that should never have been vested in the first place. That commitment should start now.

    * * * * *

    For many years, the U.S. — like the U.K. and other Western nations — has embarked on a course that virtually guaranteed a collapse of elite authority and internal implosion. From the invasion of Iraq to the 2008 financial crisis to the all-consuming framework of prisons and endless wars, societal benefits have been directed almost exclusively to the very elite institutions most responsible for failure at the expense of everyone else.

    It was only a matter of time before instability, backlash, and disruption resulted. Both Brexit and Trump unmistakably signal its arrival. The only question is whether those two cataclysmic events will be the peak of this process, or just the beginning. And that, in turn, will be determined by whether their crucial lessons are learned — truly internalized — or ignored in favor of self-exonerating campaigns to blame everyone else.


    Many useful links in the original.
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-10-2016 at 01:28 PM.

  9. Atypical is offline
    11-30-2016, 05:01 PM #9
    Dakota Access: 2,000 Veterans Head to Support Protesters, Offer Protection From Police

    Q&A with Michael Wood Jr., a former Marine organizing a large veterans group headed to N.D.: 'If they want to shoot at 2,000 be it.'


    Michael Wood Jr., a Marine Corps veteran and former Baltimore police officer, is leading a group of 2,000 veterans to North Dakota this weekend to join ongoing protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.

    Wood, 37, made headlines last year for speaking out in a series of tweets against what he viewed as wrongdoing within his police department. He spoke out after Freddie Gray died from a spinal cord injury after being taken into custody by Baltimore police and is a prominent supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Earlier this month, Wood and fellow veteran Wes Clark Jr., son of former General Wesley Clark, put out a call for 500 veterans and $100,000 in funding to help oppose what they feel is escalating police violence against the Dakota Access protesters. The group, Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, had to end the sign-ups after 2,000 veterans signed on. The group has received more than $580,000 via an online funding campaign to help pay for travel costs, winter camping, communications, protective gear and money to post bail.

    Thousands of protesters, mostly Native Americans, have camped since August just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation where the largely completed pipeline would cross the Missouri River. The standoff escalated on Nov. 20 when law enforcement used fire hoses, tear gas and stinger grenades on protesters who were trying to clear a roadblock at the end of bridge on a public highway. Last Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the Standing Rock tribe that the public will no longer be allowed at the campsite, which is on federal land. On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered an emergency evacuation of the camp. The Standing Rock tribe said the land is part of their ancestral treaty lands and that they will not leave.

    ICN: Why are you doing this?

    Michael Wood Jr.: I think a lot of us are doing this for different reasons. For Wes, he is very focused on ecological protection of the planet. If you are a conservative, you are watching hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on state-sanctioned agents of violence. [Editor's note: North Dakota officials said they have spent more than $10 million on additional law enforcement thus far.] If you are a libertarian, you care about property rights and freedom. Me personally as a police scientist [the study of police work and criminal justice], I am focused on police reform.

    ICN: What do you hope to achieve?

    MW: Personally, I want to go across the bridge and take the whole site. But as a whole group, the goal is to bring attention to it, that Native lives need to matter in our systems just like black lives need to matter in our systems. This is that moment in history where there is a change in the tide. Are we going to create the country that it was intended to be, where we care about all of our people and we protect them from state-sanctioned violence?

    ICN: How is this connected to the Black Lives Matter movement?

    MW: If we were to create systems and institutions that protected black lives, then we wouldn't have systems and institutions that allow the oppression of Native American lives that you are seeing right now and throughout our history.

    ICN: What do you make of the tactics law enforcement are employing?

    MW: These weapons that they think are okay to use are less-lethal weapons, not non-lethal weapons, which means they have an explicit possibility of killing someone.

    ICN: The protest at Standing Rock started in April. Why are you doing this now?

    MW: It really got to the point where it was just too much. A lot of credit goes to those protesters who are up there now who have created the attention that opened our eyes to understand that we need to get up there.

    ICN: If you're only going to be there for three days, what can you accomplish?

    MW: We're not going to be there for three days anymore. We were hoping and praying that we could get maybe 500 people and $100,000, but everyone has stepped in and really contributed. We've set up a new roster where we already have 500 people ready to stay there for the next shift. We are going to keep a contingency of 500 veterans there at all points in time.

    ICN: How will your approach differ from prior demonstrations at Standing Rock?

    MW: We're not releasing everything that we're doing, we do have some support missions, which we think can make a difference on their own. Beyond that, my primary focus is I want to cross the bridge [the bridge that protesters were standing on when police tried to push them back on Nov. 20]. I want to do it with negotiations. I want to talk to everybody there. If they [law enforcement] want to shoot at 2,000 veterans who are going to walk peacefully across a bridge, so be it. That is what we need to do to make sure that we protect our planet, stand up for Native American people, protect black lives, protect native lives and protect the Earth.

    ICN: Have you been in contact with the Morton County Sheriff's Department or the Army Corps? What are they saying? How have you responded?

    MW: We've reached out a few times and we've had some brief contact. I will go there personally myself. These cops don't want to do this. If we can't break the system, we can break the hearts and minds of those officers so they realize what they are doing. Hopefully with an entire battalion of people from around the nation who are vets and protecting this country, there is no way around it. There is going to be every race, every religion, every nationality, every geographic region of people that have served this county and stood on that wall. If they are willing to come after us, then that's fine. We'll take that brunt, but that is how you create 10,000 of us next time.

    ICN: Is anyone telling you to stand down?

    MW: You're always going to have some naysayers. I think that what the Morton County Sheriff's department, the governor and the Army Corps has said [abut evacuating the camp] was a desperate plea to get us to stand down. They think we were going to be scared, because they don't want to be out there in this cold. We're prepared for it. They're not.

    ICN: Do recent announcements by the Army Corps and Gov. Jack Dalrymple to shut down the protest camp affect your plans in any way?

    Cont'd Below

  10. Atypical is offline
    11-30-2016, 05:02 PM #10

    MW: No way at all. It's a bluff. They don't have the force, and what are they going to do? Come in there and kick us off? We are there to support the tribes, if they [law enforcement] want us to pack up and move the camp somewhere else, so be it. I really don't understand why they think that is going to matter.

    ICN: A recent video shows law enforcement putting up additional razor wire. It looks like they are preparing for your arrival.

    MW: That's fine. I don't intend to win by force, I intend to win by rational negotiation.

    ICN: But you are ready to use force if needed?

    MW: We will not use force. They will use force. We will walk across roads that were publicly funded, that we paid for.

    ICN: You previously said one issue the police are going to face is that your level of planning and coordination is vastly superior to theirs.

    MW: The amount of experience we have is vastly superior to what they have collected. I don't mean that as an insult. We are going to stay calm. We are going to be disciplined. We are not going to be the one that is going to break across the line. They will. They have been doing it the whole time. There is no reason to believe anything else will be any different.



    What is happening in ND, vicious abuse by corporations and their law enforcement lackeys, should be another warning to all of us of the relentless assault by business to trample everything and everyone in their way.

    These veterans deserve tremendous support and respect.


    Here is a sample of what corporations and their government sycophants do to peaceful protesters.
    Last edited by Atypical; 12-03-2016 at 08:11 PM.

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