Friday Reads

4681461189_7fc9f4772e_oGood Morning!

I’ve been sick the last few days and also busy trying to get the car fixed so I can safely drive it around town again.  I’m going to have to make this shorter than usual because for the last couple nights I’ve spent a lot of time in the bathroom and then basically collapsing on the bed.  So, here are a few in depth articles you may want to read.

The Atlantic profiles what it says are the last days of the powerful and dread pirate Antonin Scalia.

Since Scalia’s appointment in 1986, he has succeeded brilliantly in seizing the spotlight, establishing himself as a conservative hero. He told one questioner to “get over it!” when asked about Bush v. Gore, and responded to pro-choice protesters with an indecent Sicilian hand gesture. Confronted politely by a gay student, he snapped, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?”

But Scalia may have outdone himself in his 2013 dissent in the case of United States v. Windsor. For years, he has been unrelenting in opposing constitutional protections for gays and lesbians. In his 2003 dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, Scalia warned darkly that the Court majority “has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda” even though “many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their homes.”

In Windsor, the Court’s majority struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade federal recognition of same-sex marriages that were legal under state law. In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the majority concluded that its “purpose and effect” were “to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

The opinion was the triumph of the “homosexual agenda” Scalia had denounced.

Scalia has been one of the worst justices ever.  He’s been responsible for some authentic judicial overreach to push his theocratic agenda. The only thing that will 18316asave us from the likes of him and more is it seems we’ll be getting Democratic Presidents for awhile.  I doubt he’ll outlast another President Clinton.

An interesting article at The New Republic suggests that Officer Darren Wilson will not be convicted since laws are written that basically give cops a license to kill.

In any clash of witness testimony, police officers begin at huge advantage. Although the courts insist that juries give policemen no extra credence because of their badges as an “essential demand of fairness,” that’s not how jurors actually think or behave. Large percentages of potential jurors readily admit to giving police testimony extra weight, and many more likely act on this implicit bias. And in this case, the favoring of police testimony is compounded by another more pernicious bias: racial prejudice. Extensiveresearch shows that Americans are far more likely to believe that African Americansand especially young black menhave committed crimes and display violent behavior. It therefore won’t take very much to convince a jury that Officer Wilson was acting out of self-defense.

But these cultural biases are only part of the story of why a conviction will be near-impossible. The central reason is a recent trend in many states’ criminal laws. Throughout history, claims of self-defense and compelling police activity have served as justifications for the use of deadly force. Most people intuitively understand that self-preservation is a basic right and that police must sometimes use violence to protect society and apprehend criminals. But generally, we expect situations of justified violence and legal killing to be the rare exception, and most people would probably imagine that policemen and citizens raising claims of justifiable homicide must meet a substantive burden of proof. But today, in states like Missouri, these justifications barely require any evidence at all.

imagesMother Jones has a fairly substantive list of what happens to officers who shoot black men.

It remains to be seen whether Wilson will face criminal charges, but a limited review of similar killings by police suggests that the officers more often than not walk away without an indictment, and are very rarely convicted. Delores Jones-Brown, a law professor and director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, looked at 21 publicized cases from 1994 through 2009 in which a police officer killed an unarmed black person. Of those, only seven cases resulted in an indictment—for criminally negligent homicide, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, or violation of civil rights—and only three officers were found guilty.

Let’s take a closer look at five specific cases in which an unarmed black man was killed by officers while allegedly fleeing or resisting in some fashion.

I think you’ll remember most of these cases and the outcomes are disheartening.

What companies are getting rich providing little towns and cities with weapons of war that are usually confined to military use?  Here’s a quick list at Alternet.

The companies getting mileage out of the unrest in Ferguson are vast. The LRAD Corporation manufactures the long-range acoustic devices that have emitted piercing noises at protesters in Missouri. These sound devices can cause headaches and other types of pain. The police in Ferguson are also using the Bearcat armored truck manufactured by Lenco. That vehicle, costing $360,000, was paid for with Department of Homeland Security grant money, according to the New York Times. Since 2003, over $9 million in grants from Homeland Security have flowed to police in St. Louis, according to the Times. Overall, since the September 11 terror attacks, $34 billion in such grants have been given to law enforcement agencies across the country, showing it is the federal government fueling police militarization.

The Ferguson police department has received two armored Humvees, a generator and a trailer from the U.S. military, according to the Associated Press. Police departments around the nation have received the military’s surplus equipment, which has brought weapons used in Afghanistan and Iraq to local towns and cities. Congress first passed a law authorizing the funneling of surplus military equipment to domestic law enforcement in 1990. It’s now known as the 1033 program, referring to the section of the program in the Pentagon budget.

The Justice Department has also gotten in on the action. Justice Department grants have paid for tear gas and rubber bullets, though it’s not clear if police in Ferguson used those grants to buy their own tear gas.

Whoever paid for it, the companies that make tear-gas are sure to benefit from the Ferguson demonstrations. Two corporations’ tear-gas products have been fired on demonstrators in recent days: Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) and Defense Technology. CTS, headquartered in Pennsylvania, is well-known for being a leading supplier of tear gas around the world, including to the governments of Israel, Egypt and Bahrain, which buy the weapons with the generous amounts of U.S. military aid given to them. Defense Technology, also based in Pennsylvania, has likewise profited from tear gas sold to Israel, Egypt and Bahrain, in addition to Yemen, Turkey and Tunisia.

I’ve seen some pretty outrageous examples of white privilege recently on Facebook and Twitter.  I’m amazed by the number of people that really don’t realize wbasket1920that most black men are not unemployed by choice and that most black people don’t live on the government dole.  Why do these damned tropes still exist?  What can white people who abhor racism do about it?  Here’s a bit from Truthout on Abolitionist Echoes.

In any unequal society, the dominant group receives intense ideological targeting. Thus, as a dominant group member, an urgent goal must be to resist the intoxicating ideologies – and material perks – that are so blinding, and to face the discomfort of being caught up in structural inequality. We have to see and own our privileged positions. Since these positions are defined structurally, we cannot simply wish them away because we don’t agree with them or we don’t want to be involved, or decide that we are not racist. Just as black people cannot wish away racism because they don’t like it, neither can white people. One of the lessons of structural inequality that is often crystal clear to oppressed groups is that this structural position has nothing to do with whether you are personally invested in them or identify with them. A black man cannot simply tell the police officer standing over him with a billy club, “I don’t see color” or “I don’t participate in racism.” Many individual white people, myself included, abhor racism and do not want to participate in reinforcing the oppression of others. And yet, like it or not, our position in the matrix of domination is such that we benefit from the system, at the expense of others, regardless of how nice we are or how much critical race theory we read.

We have to see and own our privileged positions.

In addition to facing and understanding our privileged positions as white people in a white supremacist society, we must also make sure that this awareness of our structural privilege position is translated into action and activism. Otherwise this process can turn into a paralyzing exercise in white guilt that helps no one. Worse still, it ironically turns racism into a problem of how white people feel, leaving white people’s needs and issues as the central focus of dealing with racism. The goal is not to see and then bemoan racism, but to actively fight against it. We have to face the bitter truths of our position and then ask ourselves, given where we stand in the matrix, how we can leverage that position to work to dismantle the system of structural inequality that we simultaneously occupy and abhor. Thus, how to fight and which actions to take must become the focus of white antiracism. Given that these structural inequalities are both longstanding and deep, the actions required to dismantle them will also need to be longstanding and far-reaching. There are multiple ways to take action, but what is essential is to be in service of dismantling the structural systems of inequality, including the unequal distribution of economic and political power and the structures of control from the legal to the ideological that are wielded to enforce them.

The old insult of “throwing like a girl” may have died this year.  Here’s New York Magazine with all 6 of Mo’ne Davis’s strikeouts from Wednesday night.Bennett-sisters-vintage-boxing-womens-sports-management-degrees-online

Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old pitcher from Philadephia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association, burst onto the national scene by throwing a shutout in the Mid-Atlantic regional final, then became a full-on star by becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series tournament. How big a deal is she? She’s on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, and more than 34,000 people watched her team play in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Wednesday night. Davis lasted just two-and-a-third innings in that game, and left the mound with her team down 3-0. (They’d go on to lose, 8-1, to the team from Nevada.) But of the seven outs she recorded, an impressive six were via strikeout. Said Davis earlier this week about her repertoire: “I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw, and my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.” So yeah, despite not getting the win, she remains fully awesome.

Have a great Friday!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

22 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Lots of meaty reading material here. Thanks, Dak. I hope you feel better soon.

    I agree that there’s little chance that Darren Wilson will be charged and/or convicted in Missouri, but I do think there’s a definite possibility there will be a Federal prosecution on Civil Rights charges.

    • dakinikat says:

      I kind’ve had a relapse late in the evening. At least I held the gumbo down, but everything still seems to be going straight through me. I’ve had a few other friends report they’ve had a virus so I’m thinking I may actually have a stomach flu instead of food poisoning.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The Ferguson Library is trying to build up their YA collection. You can donate money or books. I think I may do it. I don’t have a lot of money, but I can afford to send a couple of books from Amazon or donate $20.00.

    If you would like to donate to Ferguson Library, their address is:
    35 N Florissant Rd,
    Ferguson, MO 63135

    • NW Luna says:

      Thanks for posting this, BB. It’s at least some small way to help rather than feel overwhelmed in the face of such institutionalized racism and violence.

  3. NW Luna says:

    Saw this article on the Truthout site of one of Dak’s links. A heartening story!

    How the Largest Worker Owned Co-op in the US Lifts People Out of Poverty

    Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.
    After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.”

  4. RalphB says:

    Great post Dak. Get well soon!!!

    This bothered me most of what I saw in the videos from Ferguson. His body was treated worse than road kill.

    Charles Pierce: The Boy In The Street

    ,,, One image, from which all the other images have flowed.

    They left the body in the street.

    Dictators leave bodies in the street.

    Petty local satraps leave bodies in the street.

    Warlords leave bodies in the street.

    A police officer shot Michael Brown to death. And they left his body in the street. For four hours. Bodies do not lie in the street for four hours. Not in an advanced society. …

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s what haunts me too. I can’t get it out of my mind. Did you see the interview with the mayor about it? Horrible!

    • dakinikat says:

      I had a friend that was killed by a woman right after I talked to him at a bar. The police treated the scene so disrespectfully that I was horrified. They left the woman that ran him into a fence sitting on a set of steps for hours. His body lay there for hours while kids on bicycles drove around him. They stopped traffic on three streets except for an ice cream truck which they let through. They all sat there eating ice cream bars for about an hour. It was like a fucking circus and they never prosecuted the woman either. She was driving her boyfriend’s wife’s truck and likely under the influence at the time. I was appalled and traumatized for days. I finally broke down later in the day and just cried and cried and cried at the bar.

      • NW Luna says:

        So sorry to hear what you went through and for the loss of your friend. How callous of the police to act that way– as if someone’s death was an excuse to screw off.

        • dakinikat says:

          Every time I get called for jury duty they ask me if there’s any reason I won’t serve and I basically say I don’t trust any thing the police say or do … gets me off jury duty but it’s really really true. My youngest got picked up by the police for “violating curfew” by going inbetween home and the next door neighbors in Omaha. They were trying to “correct’ their stats because it showed they only bothered black folks so for two years they went after white kids for whatever frivolous thing they went after black kids for for the previous years. She was picked up twice for really trivial things so they didn’t look racist. There is no way I’d trust a cop for anything these days. I’ve seen more than that and have more stories. Anyway who trusts them doesn’t live in an urban environment with black people. That’s all I have to say about that.

  5. NW Luna says:

    A small move to acknowledge the immensity of the Seattle-area First People’s culture.

    Seattle is named for the Native American chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes who recruited settlers to boost the town’s population and economic viability. His signature on the Point Elliott Treaty ceded the lands that would become the city in exchange for benefits tribal members mostly did not receive.

    Now, with the Alaskan Way Viaduct slated for demolition and the city planning for a new waterfront park from Pioneer Square to the Olympic Sculpture Park, city officials have begun reaching out to local Indian tribes to involve them in the design and to incorporate their history and culture into the finished park.

    “We want tribes to be partners. We want tribes to have a stake and a place in this project,” said Marshall Foster, the city’s waterfront design manager. Involving the tribes and finding ways to tell their histories also could go a long way to answering critics who say the early design drawings seem too polished, more like San Diego than Seattle. ….

    Despite the presence and contributions of tribal members throughout the city’s development, he said, the history of natives also has included dispossession and discrimination, and the sense by many contemporary Indians that they really aren’t welcomed here. “It’s a deeply conflicted place,” Thrush said.

    Seattle-area tribes had extensive involvement in permitting for the new waterfront seawall, currently under construction along Alaskan Way, because their treaty rights give them legal standing to review potential impacts to salmon migration. But the city hadn’t reached out to the tribes about the new waterfront park plans until Mayor Ed Murray took office in January and created an Office of the Waterfront to coordinate the $1 billion in proposed investments that include the seawall, the currently stalled excavation of the Highway 99 tunnel, the viaduct removal and design of the new park where Alaskan Way now runs.

    “We had to encourage them to reach out to us,” said Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish tribe at the Port Madison Reservation on the Kitsap Peninsula.

  6. RalphB says:

    Shades of “W” and Mitt, Laxalt is the son of former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of former Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-NV), who also was governor of Nevada.

    tpm: GOP AG Candidate’s Law Firm Job Evaluation: He’s A ‘Train Wreck’

    A Republican candidate for attorney general in Nevada was described in a performance evaulation by his law firm as a “train wreck” who “doesn’t even have the basic skill set.”

    Republican Adam Laxalt received the blistering assessment from the Lewis & Roca Associate Evaluation and Compensation Committee, as first published by journalist Jon Ralston.

    The assessment said that Laxalt should go to seminars to help “address basic legal principles” as he had “judgement issues and doesn’t seem to understand what to do.” The committee recommended freezing Laxalt’s salary “deferral, and possible termination.”

    Ralston notes that after that assessment he was made “of counsel” at the firm, a position which exempted him from being evaluated. He joined the firm in 2011 and left it in 2014 to run for attorney general. …

  7. RalphB says:

    Nice racket they run and it’s probably repeated all across America. The poor fund their own oppression.

    Daily Beast: Ferguson Feeds Off the Poor: Three Warrants a Year Per Household

    In the chamber where Officer Darren Wilson received a commendation six months before killing Michael Brown, a minor court generates major money from the city’s poor and working people.

  8. dakinikat says:

    The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

    It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn’t collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

    I’ve been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They’ve blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

    The second biggest thing I learned is that bad journalism colludes with police to hide this information.

  9. dakinikat says:

    A few months old but also appalling.

    Tosh.0 production assistant accidentally killed by LAPD

  10. dakinikat says:

    Obama Administration Calls The Supreme Court’s Bluff In Hobby Lobby

    For most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control — while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees’ access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.