Friday Reads: The State of Our Union is Scary

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Good Day Sky Dancers!

I wanted to share the protest art of New Orleans Artist Caroline Thomas who usually gets props from me for her marvelous work on Mardi Gras Floats and costumes.   Thanks for letting me use these!!!

And you can find her work here: Instagram: @c_to_the_line (personal art) and @feastandfolly (Carnival research)

So, I feel like I’m in a bunker even though my city and state are gradually reopening after we’ve met criteria to move to stage two. We’re now facing down a Tropical Storm heading for us over the weekend.  My friends and neighbors are still attending protests here in New Orleans supporting Black Lives Matter and Police Reform taking place despite the teargassing of protesters on the Crescent City Connection Wednesday Night.  I’m no where near as hunkered down as the mad Russian potted plant occupying the White House but then I’m not delusional either.

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Despite evidence that protests are peaceful and that it’s actually right wing agitation creating the chaos, the narrative from Right Wingers and their Trumpist Regime is that Cities in the US are a hotbed of Leftist activity.  Of course, it’s the usual suspects inventing conspiracies where none exist.

This includes the delusional opportunist James O’Keefe who has been in a closed Portland bookstore looking for the elusive and imaginary ANTIFA headquarters.  So, Project Veritas basically broke into Portlandia’s Woman and Women First Bookstore or what?

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“This is Nimali Henry’s daughter with a portrait painted by local artist Caroline Thomas. Art is an important part of the expression, questioning and adoption of ideas, and the struggles we as a society face today are no exception. We all have a role to play in this discussion. Thank you, Caroline for bringing your talent and being an important part of this conversation.” — via Aryanna Gamble

These folks might as well look for unicorns.  (sigh)

Meanwhile in the real world Politico goes down the Bill Barr rabbit hole to figure out which collection of agencies in DC are sending shadowy forces to occupy the Washington DC. From Garrett M Graff: “The Story Behind Bill Barr’s Unmarked Federal Agents. The motley assortment of police currently occupying Washington, D.C., is a window into the vast, complicated, obscure world of federal law enforcement.”

To understand the police forces ringing Trump and the White House it helps to understand the dense and not-entirely-sensical thicket of agencies that make up the nation’s civilian federal law enforcement. With little public attention, notice and amid historically lax oversight, those ranks have surged since 9/11—growing by roughly 2,500 officers annually every year since 2000. To put it another way: Every year since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government has added to its policing ranks a force larger than the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Nearly all of these agencies are headquartered in and around the capital, making it easy for Attorney General William Barr to enlist them as part of his vast effort to “flood the zone” in D.C. this week with what amounts to a federal army of occupation, overseen from the FBI Washington area command post in Chinatown. Battalions of agents were mustered in the lobby of Customs and Border Protection’s D.C. headquarters—what in normal times is the path to a food court for federal workers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been given special powers to enable it to surveil protesters. It is the heaviest show of force in the nation’s capital since the protests and riots of the Vietnam War.

As large as the public show of force on D.C.’s streets has turned out to be—Bloomberg reported Thursday that the force includes nearly 3,000 law enforcement—it still represents only a tiny sliver of the government’s armed agents and officers. The government counts up its law enforcement personnel only every eight years, and all told, at last count in 2016, the federal government employed over 132,000 civilian law enforcement officers—only about half of which come from the major “brand name” agencies like the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, DEA and CBP. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which serves as the general academy for federal agencies who don’t have their own specialized training facilities, lists around 80 different agencies whose trainees pass through its doors in Georgia, from the IRS’ criminal investigators and the Transportation Security Administration’s air marshals to the Offices of the Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Railroad Retirement Board. Don’t forget the armed federal officers at the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement, whose 150 agents investigate conservation crime like the Tunas Convention Act of 1975 (16 USC § 971-971k) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (16 USC § 773-773k).

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In and around D.C., there are more than a score of agency-specific federal police forces, particularly downtown where protests have played out over the past week, nearly every block brings you in contact with a different police force. A morning run around the National Mall and Capitol Hill might see you cross through the jurisdictions of the federal U.S. Capitol Police, the Park Police, the National Gallery of Art police, the Smithsonian Office of Protective Services, the Postal police, Amtrak police, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing police, the Supreme Court police, the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, the Government Publishing Office police, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service. (Only recently did the Library of Congress police merge with the Capitol Police across the street into one unit.) Run a bit farther and you might encounter the FBI Police or the U.S. Mint police. And that’s not even counting the multistate Metro Transit police and the local D.C. Metropolitan Police.




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DC Mayor Bowser has had more than enough of this. From WAPO:  ‘Black Lives Matter’: In giant yellow letters, D.C. mayor sends message to Trump”

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed the street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

The actions are meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in police practices after the killing in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city officials said.

They come after several days in which the mayor strongly objected to the escalation of federal law enforcement and a military response to days of protests and unrest in the nation’s capital.

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Most importantly:

In a letter Thursday, Bowser formally asked Trump to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C.”

So, why is the White House beginning to look like one of Saddam’s Palaces on a lock down?  This also from WAPO with the top bylines belonging to Phillip Rucker and Ashley Parker. “With White House effectively a fortress, some see Trump’s strength — but others see weakness”

The security perimeter around the White House keeps expanding. Tall black fencing is going up seemingly by the hour. Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent.

In the 72 hours since Monday’s melee at Lafayette Square, the White House has been transformed into a veritable fortress — the physical manifestation of President Trump’s vision of law-and-order “domination” over the millions of Americans who have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice.

The White House is now so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands — strikingly incongruous with the historic role of the executive mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, which since its cornerstone was laid in 1792 has been known as the People’s House and celebrated as an accessible symbol of American democracy.

This week’s security measures follow nighttime demonstrations just outside the campus gates last weekend that turned violent. White House officials stressed that Trump was not involved in the decision to beef up security or to increase the fencing around the compound’s perimeter, with one senior administration official saying that the precautions are not unique to the Trump administration.

Nevertheless, the resulting picture is both jarring and distinctly political — a Rorschach test for one’s view of Trump’s presidency. His supporters see a projection of absolute strength, a leader controlling the streets to protect his people. His critics see a wannabe dictator and a president hiding from his own citizenry.

Trump — who has long gravitated toward strongman leaders abroad and has sought to bathe himself in military iconography — likes the images of police and troops enforcing order, believing they symbolize his toughness and communicate that his crackdown has largely controlled unrest in the streets of Washington, according to White House officials.

“Washington is in great shape,” Trump said Wednesday in a Fox News Radio interview. “I jokingly said, a little bit jokingly, maybe, it’s one of the safest places on earth. And we had no problem at all last night. We had substantial dominant force and it — we have to have a dominant force. Maybe it doesn’t sound good to say it, but you have to have a dominant force. We need law and order.”

So of course, the gullible and stupid Trumperz go on paranoid rampages and terrorize a family based on all of this crappy conspiracy stuff.  This happened in Washington State:  “Family harassed in Forks after being accused of being members of Antifa. High school students help them”

A multi-racial family of four from Spokane was accused of being members of Antifa, followed and prevented from leaving their campsite by trees felled to block the road, Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies said.

Four high school students cut the trees with chainsaws to allow the family to leave, said Sgt. Ed Anderson in a press release issued late Thursday.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is actively conducting a criminal investigation into the incident and is seeking information regarding those involved, Anderson said.

Names of the campers or the high school students were not available Thursday.

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As the weeks of protests continue, Amanda Terkel makes this important observation: “The Police Have Shown Their True Colors. When they say they don’t have too much power and don’t act with impunity, will you still believe them?”

The police have been out in full force responding to the anti-racist protests. And their overwhelming response to the accusations of violence and unchecked power has been more violence and unchecked power.
“People started this conversation by saying policing is out of control; they’re not making the situation better. They have not been reformed,” Alex S. Vitale, author of “The End of Policing,” said in a recent NPR interview. “Well, now all you have to do is turn on the nightly news and see how true that is. The level of aggression and unnecessary escalation is stark evidence of how unreformed policing is and I argue how unreformable it is.”

Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer who is now a Georgia police officer, says a central problem is that law enforcement sees itself fighting a “war on crime.” That mindset is contributing to the overreaction by the police to the peaceful protesters.

“Ninety percent of what we’re seeing are protests. Police should just sit back. They shouldn’t have overwhelming force. … That amps things up. Now granted a riot, when people are hurting ― I mean, police officers have been attacked, people have been killed, lot of damage. I get that. But we use that 1% and we treat the 99% like that. And that’s exactly what police training does,” he said. “Every situation is not just can be dangerous but will be dangerous, because we’re in a war on crime. Anybody can kill you.”

And everything is just hunky dory according to the Russian Potted Plant occupying Fortress White House.

And back here in the hood …

And from our police:

And Right Wing Nut Cases are out there shouting these Anitifa folks are going to destroy the Andrew Jackson statue and the Cathedral on Jackson square.  It’s the usual list of dirtbags including both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers just so you know who comes along and mucks things up.  They’ve put a call out to “patriots” to guard Jackson Square tonight.  This doesn’t sound good.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Stay Safe!  Be gentle with yourself and others!


15 Comments on “Friday Reads: The State of Our Union is Scary”

  1. dakinikat says:

    I think Trump has made Putin’s dream come true …

  2. Enheduanna says:

    It’s heartbreaking and enraging to see the drawings. So many young people and the list goes on and on and on. I despair over the caliber of law enforcement officers in our country. They’re just making matters so much worse with this brutal response to the protests.

    So the statue of Jackson is still in the square? I thought they removed it. They should rename the square IMO.

    Hope the storm misses you guys and stalls out before it gets to land! They show it heading straight at you with 10 inches of rain expected…..

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. jan says:

    I think the reason that cops want to beat and kill black men is because they feel less than black men in the ‘manly’ department. The same reason for trump hauling in military to protect himself. If only we could get this message far and wide, maybe they would stop beating black people to make themselves feel ‘manly’.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think there’s a lot of mediocre white men out there that know they get paid better and everything else just because they’re white men. They don’t to give that all up.

    • quixote says:

      We hear more about black men. Black women we hear less about.

      There’s no end of them, too. Dead, raped, assaulted, beaten. They need to be unerased.

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. dakinikat says: