Charles Blow, Questions About the Sandra Bland Case:
The video and audio of the traffic stop of Sandra Bland sent a chill right up my spine. When police officers can stalk, threaten, harass, assault, arrest, injure and kill black people for the crime of merely existing, I think it's high time that the USA declares itself a state sponsor of terrorism.
As far as Sandra Bland and other victims are concerned, there's no difference between USA and the totalitarian systems which our elected officials regularly claim to "deplore." (all the while selling guns, bombs and tear gas to them, that is.)
I have to wonder if the charming Officer Encinia was influenced at all by the vile stuff Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh have been spewing lately, or if he is just another victim of the Texas educational system.
One thing is clear. Police violence against black and brown people is no aberration. It's de facto policy. There is even a law, passed by Congress with the help of the profiteering prison lobby, requiring minimum residency quotas for America's private gulags.
Cops, therefore, become little more than weaponized travel agents for the ultimate incarceration destination. It's another way, besides cutting social programs,of culling the herd of disposable people. It's another way to bypass voting rights laws. Denying people suffrage while making them suffer -- it's the American police state M.O.
So more power to the Black Lives Matter movement, more power to resistant, bottom-up democracy.
This brutality has got to stop.Peter Baker and Erica Goode, Critics of Solitary Confinement Are Buoyed As Obama Embraces Their Cause:
It's great that Obama is speaking out against the inhumane conditions in prisons. But speaking out is only a small, first step in the right direction. His recent commutation of the sentences of a mere 46 crack cocaine convicts -- out of the tens of thousands that still languish in prison as a result of the still-ongoing, still stupid, still racist War on Drugs -- is a good public relations move that does little to nothing to solve the immediate humanitarian crisis.Paul Krugman, Europe's Impossible Dream:
In order for those tens of thousands of prisoners convicted under the draconian sentencing laws to qualify for clemency, they have to have been "model" convicts and never had even one violent incident on their records. Looking at a guard cross-eyed can be construed as "violent" in some prisons, particularly the privatized ones hiring $10-an-hour "corrections officers" off the street. Qualifications for clemency are draconian, too.
Obama also ordered a DOJ "study" on capital punishment last fall, but ultimately abandoned issuing a moratorium on the federal death penalty for the usual political reasons -- the White House feared it would "stoke" even more conservative support for the death penalty.
We're also waiting for his administration to comply with a court order to release videos of the force-feeding of Gitmo hunger strikers. The UN has declared it, along with solitary confinement, to be cruel and unusual punishment.
But at least Obama is talking about prison abuse. Now, we await more action from him.
The EU is a bankers' paradise, with tiny Greece reduced from sovereignty to a failed branch office ripe for the Romneyesque picking. The predators are chomping at the bit to get on with the plunder.David Brooks, Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White:
Until quite recently, US officials were also cheerleading austerity in the EU - even as they pressured the NATO members within it (including Greece) to join their misguided war adventures in Libya and elsewhere. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton actually used the metaphor "chemotherapy" to describe -- and approve of -- the hideous treatment the Troika were prescribing to the Greek people in order to save the banking system.
Democracy has gone down the toilet, and Greece has been tortured into submission. The global banking cartel, out to colonize the world, makes for one corrupt and incompetent government. It's the one that needs the shock therapy.
The Michigan cancer doctor who deliberately gave chemo to hundreds of healthy patients apologized for his criminal greed before being sentenced to a long prison term last week. But not only have the austerians never been punished for their own malpractice, they are continuing on their rampage of sickening and killing people.
This is not a "tragedy." It is a crime.
And yes, it can happen here. Detroit cuts off water to people who can't pay their bills. Chicago closes its public schools and hands over pension plans to hedge funds. Sinclair Lewis had a point about the American flag, and fascism.
Brooks praises Ta-Nehisi Coates with such faint damns that your head ends up clanging with his cognitive dissonance.And now for some links to other stuff readers might find of interest.
"By dissolving the dream under the acid of an excessive realism", he chides with all the condescension a concern-trolling rich white guy can muster, "you trap generations in the past and destroy the guiding star that points to a better future."
Well, it's true that the ideologues of the GOP have always had a problem with excess (for the billionaires they honor and serve) and realism (denial of climate change, Keynesian economics, world peace, even denial of their own denialism). So when a brilliant writer like Coates comes out with some hard truths, the denialists and the history revisionists throw conniption fits. How dare that angry black man, Coates, expose imperialism, capitalism run amok and the endemic racism woven into the very fabric of our history? Why can't all the ingrates out there just celebrate the lowering of the Confederate flag and move on, looking for a better tomorrow, tomorrow?
Reading between the lines of this odious "colorblind" column, it dawns on you that Brooks is essentially accusing Coates of child abuse for not sugar-coating the truth for his son.
Brooks is right about one thing, though. His reaction to Coates, and to humanism and progressivism in general, is irksome His silence would most assuredly be golden.
More excellent commentary on the Sandra Bland case, from Henry Giroux and Roxane Gay.
I'll also take the liberty of reposting the excellent, highly-rated response to Roxane Gay by Sardonicky contributor "annenigma":
"Sandra Bland must have realized as she sat alone in her cell for the third day that her new job and possibly even her career could soon be going down the drain. Not only that, but a conviction would ruin her credit and impair her ability to acquire a home, rental or otherwise, all for failing to signal her turn under pressure of having a racist cop bearing down on her.***
She probably also realized that this cop would lie under oath in court with impunity. Sometimes you just can't win, especially if you're black.
My heart breaks."
New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan will have her work cut out for her this week. First, it was the much-revised and much-reviled story about the criminal investigation that was/wasn't/got quashed into Hillary Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State. Were the reporters incompetent boobs? Were they nefarious hacks out to destroy Hillary Clinton? Were they set up by their highly placed, anonymous Administration sources? Did Hillary Clinton make her pal, newbie AG Loretta Lynch, an offer she couldn't refuse? Or is it all, in the end, just another bureaucratic snafu and much ado about the nothing of run-of-the-mill political stupidity and legalized corruption? Stay tuned.
The second potential Times scandal is about the much-praised blockbuster series exposing the atrocious labor conditions of New York's nail salons. As a former Times reporter (who now just happens to own a few day spas) writes in the New York Review of Books, reporter Sarah Masland Nir relied on very limited sourcing and translators for her stories, which claim that immigrant nail salon workers receive zero to subminimum wage. NYRB author Richard Bernstein did his own investigation, which largely debunks her reporting. If he is right, the Times articles will vie with Rolling Stone's campus rape hoax for first place in distinguished achievement in shoddy journalism.
On second thought, if the honors are for consistent, chronic, everyday journalistic malpractice, we cannot possibly leave Politico out. As FAIR's Adam Johnston writes, that Beltway gossip rag just wrote, without one iota of evidence and based on just two shootings at recruiting centers several years apart, that "Tennessee is the Capital of American Jihad."