July 14th marks the day in 1789 when angry crowds stormed the Bastille prison in Paris, sparking the French Revolution.
Wall Street obviously does not celebrate Bastille Day. However, if you're in the vicinity, the New York Times suggests that rather than storming The Tombs or Rikers Island, you ponder the statue of Joan of Arc in Riverside Park and then float by the Statue of Liberty, which was donated by the French people. As much as Donald Trump would love to replace it with a Wall, and as much as Barack Obama continues to deport Latin American migrants and refugees in record numbers, it remains a potent symbol of the time when we accepted -- actually, when our forebears were -- the tired, the poor, the huddled masses.
The contemporary masses are also urged to eat out during French Restaurant Week. The Times helpfully links you to some of the participating eateries -- where, for this one week only, you can score lunch at the amazing prix fixe of $17.89. Since this price represents approximately one half of the weekly food stamp allowance for the average struggling peasant or Walmart worker, don't forget to ask for a doggie bag on the way out. And as ever, the city's homeless are advised to use caution when dumpster-diving for any of the culinary leftovers.
But marchons, citoyens, because it turns out that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now in a dead heat in the plutocratic presidential sweepstakes. More than two-thirds of respondents in a new Times/CBS News poll say that in the wake of her email scandal, Clinton is simply not to be trusted. Nonetheless, the mistrusters think that she is still very qualified to be president. In other words, we prefer our corrupt politicians to be competently careless rather than just carelessly careless.
Trump is mistrusted only very slightly less than Clinton. This is partly because loathing of him has been holding fairly steady, while the Hillary hatred might simply be a temporary crater in the killing fields of competence.
I rather suspect that we won't be hearing any Happy Bastille Day Tweets from either member of this Dynastic Duo.
I never thought I'd hear myself write this, but President Obama actually nailed it the other day with this statement about police violence:
“As a society, we choose to underinvest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs. We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book. And then we tell the police, ‘You’re a social worker; you’re the parent; you’re the teacher; you’re the drug counselor.’ We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs and do so without causing any political blowback or inconvenience; don’t make a mistake that might disturb our own peace of mind. And then we feign surprise when periodically the tensions boil over.”
If only he espoused policies to counteract those true words -- if only he fought for policies and took executive actions that would tamp down the awful reality -- what a halfway decent country and world this might be.
Times columnist Charles Blow also finally addresses the class war aspect of aggressive policing policies in today's op-ed:
We choose to be blind to the policy choices our politicians have made — and that many have benefited from, while others suffered — while simultaneously holding firmly to the belief that all of our own successes and comforts are simply the result of our and our families’ drive, ambition and resourcefulness. Other people lack physical comforts because they lack our character strength.My published comment:
It is from this bed of lies that our policing policies spring. When the president says, “We tell them to keep those neighborhoods in check at all costs,” who is the “we”?It’s not the blue-collar civil servants in law enforcement or the working-class and poor communities, which are aggressively patrolled. No. The “we” is the middle and moneyed classes.
The president's statement about the impossible roles we expect of police officers in this increasingly dystopian country of ours was one of the truest things he's ever said.
This is about classism as well as racism. Very much the product of capitalism, racism only got worse after the abolishment of slavery, since the subhuman wages paid to freed blacks also served to drive down the pay of whites. Dividing and conquering working people has always been the battle cry of plutocratic freedom.
The rich are still too big to jail, and there are now more black people in prison than there were slaves during the mid-19th century. Prisons for profit are just one of the many ways that the rich exploit the poor.
And cops are stuck in the buffer zone. They ARE the buffer zone.
Wall Street is looting their pension funds, too. Their pay stinks, too. Working in swing shifts, they're sleep-deprived. When they get subpoenaed to testify in court during the day, they still have to go to work at night. When they arrest somebody on illegal weapons charges, too many politically appointed or elected right-wing judges promptly let the culprit go on low or no bail.
Cops are human too. Every time one of them overreacts, they endanger their co-workers.
Besides protesting police violence, we should direct our wrath at the sadistic (mainly GOP) policy-makers who created the Gestapo security state in the first place. Confront them right where they work. And fire them on Election Day.