Why the Rise of Trump, Cruz and Sanders Is the Logical Result of the 1% Not Paying Taxes, and Shutting off Opportunity to the Poor

the U.S. protects “everything that deals with capital and property but we cannot deal with protecting basic human rights.”


Author: Vijay Prashad

Emphasis Mine

You reap what you sow. The Republican Party – pushed along by large segments of the “Third Way” Democrats – crafted policies that allowed the American rich to go on tax strike, that allowed them to deindustrialize the United States and that allowed their banks to control the destiny of people from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters.

This land is their land. Democracy is the mask of the 1 percent.

The detritus of those policies created under-employment and endemic social crises. Between the prison industrial complex and the opioid crisis lies the fault line of race: otherwise these are identical. Wages plummeted, but debt-fueled consumption allowed the American Dream to remain alive. The Great Recession of 2007 awoke sections of the country from its credit card somnolence. For the first time in decades, the American Dream seemed unrealistic. The lives of American children would most certainly be economically more fragile than those of their parents.

Race stayed the hand of unity. The Tea Party movement covered itself in the old rags of racism to blame migrants and minorities for the degradation of their country. Egged on by the Republican elites, this movement took the hatred of government and of outsiders to the limit. Out of it came Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, with fire against Washington as their ammunition. It is fitting that the old Gadsden flag was taken up by the Tea Party – with its rattlesnake above the sign, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

To associate oneself with the rattlesnake is a curious gesture. This is venom incarnate.

The Great Recession hit black and Latino families hardest, but there was no room for them in the Tea Party consensus. It was Obama’s presidential campaign that became their ark. That Obama did little to constrain the banks and force the rich to pay tax was disappointing, but not sufficient for disillusionment. What choice has there been? It was organizations such as Stand Up United, Black Lives Matter, Dream Defenders, Defend the Dream, Stand Up/Don’t Shoot and Black Youth Project that drew in the more critical segments – spurred on by Ferguson.

They are the antithesis of the Tea Party, although survivors of a similar dynamic set in motion by the American rich’s tax strike.

Many of these young people have now taken refuge in the Sanders’ campaign. Hillary Clinton was part of the “Third Way” Democrats that allowed Wall Street its excesses. She does not have the compass to bring in this segment. It is fitting that the wife of Eric Garner (killed by the New York police department) supports Clinton, while their daughter – Erica Garner – who is an activist in these movements supports Sanders.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the end-points of Republican policy. They are what emerge when the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes and the working poor cannot any longer dream of a better life. But they are particularly the salvation of the white working poor. Theirs is a populism narrowed by racism and misogyny.

Stop Trump, goes the slogan. But replace him with what? Ted Cruz, who is not only as bellicose as Trump (bomb the desert to “make it glow”), but is also a zealot? These men are mirror reflections of each other. They are Crump.

Both Trump and Sanders attract the white workers who had been battered by the trade agreements of the 1 percent. Trump’s rhetoric is familiar to the American right, which heard it from Pat Buchanan in an earlier era. Sanders comes from a long line of Democratic barnstormers who opposed these recent trade deals – whether Tom Harkin or Sherrod Brown and most recently the Sanders’ supporter Keith Ellison. These are Mid-western politicians who know how the trade deals eviscerated the working class of their heartland.

In this skepticism of the 1 percent’s trade deals there is the potential of great unity, but again race is the obstacle. Buchanan’s fulminations on the “end of White America” are far from Harkin’s 1992 objections to NAFTA on the grounds that the U.S. protects “everything that deals with capital and property but we cannot deal with protecting basic human rights.”

Exit from this current nightmare is not evident. Until the American Rich give up their tax strike, there is little hope for necessary social investments. Unity is impossible as long as the toxicity of racism diminishes social life. Trump and Cruz offer bluster, empty slogans that reduce the potential of people. Clinton and Rubio have little to offer beyond the prattle of the Beltway, which is continued adherence to Wall Street’s failed dogmas and belief in the Security establishment’s failed imagination for the world.

The Republican elite wants to sow fear of Trump in order to sneak in Cruz. Under both shells sit rotten peas.

It is better to pick neither.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/why-rise-trump-cruz-and-sanders-logical-result-americas-wealthiest-not-paying-their?akid=14080.123424.MZYW4e&rd=1&src=newsletter1052897&t=12


 No, Protests Against Police Brutality Are Not Increasing Crime

 And those who say so are practicing bad journalism and worse science.

Source:The Nation

Author:Alex S. Vitale

Emphasis Mine

Much has been made in recent months of a series of isolated crime increases in a handful of US cities. Breathless accounts of a new crime wave have appeared in both liberal and conservative media. Right-wing pundits and some police leaders have claimed that there is a “Ferguson effect”—a significant crime increase due to the “Black Lives Matter” protests against police violence. This is both junk science and political opportunism.

The New York Times recently reported that a couple dozen US cities have experienced increases in murders, and a few others some increase in other violent crimes. While any uptick in serious crime should be of concern, short-term changes in a few crime categories is thin evidence of a sustained national trend. In fact, in most parts of the country, crime in general, and murder rates in particular, continue to go down. While New York City, one site of ongoing protest, had a spike in homicides in the early part of the year, the city just completed the “safest summer in 25 years” according to Commissioner Bill Bratton. In addition, a new report by the Sentencing Project shows that in St. Louis, the uptick in homicides actually was well underway before the death of Michael Brown.

Even in cities that have experienced some increase in homicides, there has been no increase in other crimes. Why would a reduction in policing (as claimed by proponents of the “Ferguson effect”) result in more homicides but fewer robberies, burglaries, and auto thefts? The fact is that while homicide numbers are considered very accurate, they are such rare occurrences that it is very dangerous to draw any conclusions about broader crime trends from limited periods of time. Six months of homicide data is not enough to predict what year-end numbers will look like, and it’s bad journalism and worse science to do so.

For the last 20 years, police leaders and their supporters have claimed near-total credit for the dramatic drop in crime beginning in the 1990s, even though different police departments have supported very different and at times contradictory methods. Now that there is some evidence of a crime increase in their jurisdiction, their fingers are suddenly pointing elsewhere. The right-wing echo chamber is abuzz with attacks on the movement against police misconduct, from slandering individual activists to blaming a host of social ills on them, while at the same time denying that they have any influence or relevance.

Even a casual glance at the historical record puts the lie to these claims. When past movements for police reform have emerged in the wake of the Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, or Oscar Grant incidents, there was no appreciable change in crime trends in the specific cities involved, or nationally. Whether these protests took the form of riots, nonviolent civil disobedience campaigns, or sustained community-based protests, crime rates were unaffected. As mentioned before, in some cities the change in homicide rates began before last summer’s protests, in others the trend continues downward, and in others the trends are mixed.

What those who declare a “Ferguson effect” want us to believe is that police need a “free hand” to control crime. Any attempts to end abusive, racist, or illegal police activity is problematic because it interferes with unfettered police power. This is a misunderstanding of the nature of effective policing. Decades of research shows that policing works best when communities support the police, feel respected by them, and accept their actions as legitimate. Second, it throws the Constitution under the bus. Practices like shooting fleeing suspects and stopping and frisking people without reasonable suspicion have been found unconstitutional. To defend these practices as not only necessary but appropriate flies in the face of our legal system and should call into question the loyalties of those who mimic them. Finally, the social costs of racist overpolicing are too high, regardless of effectiveness or legality. No society should be asked to accept the levels of arrest and incarceration being meted out against young people of color in the United States. It tears at the basic social fabric, and is one of the main drivers of increasing social and economic inequality.

Whether there is an uptick in homicides or not, we should all be concerned about the concentrations of extreme violence in very poor communities of color in the US. In order to reduce this violence, we must embrace non-punitive solutions that maximize the well-being of as many people as possible—that is the definition of justice.

Those who declare a “Ferguson Effect” want us to believe that police need unfettered power in order to control crime.

If we want to know what’s driving violence in these communities, we should start by talking to the young people involved and those who work with them on a daily basis. Across the country there are hard-working men and women reaching out to young people in order to address their social and economic isolation and break the cycle of violence that often comes to define their everyday lives. Community based anti-violence initiatives in like places New York, Minneapolis, and Washington often lack adequate resources, and often view heavy-handed policing as just another source of harm.

After over 20 years of significant crime declines, it is likely that that there will be upticks in crime in the near future. Political opportunists will try to link this to whatever social changes are underway that they don’t like—with little regard for evidence or logic. Journalists have a role to play in challenging these facile undertakings. Police and political leaders should be held to account as well. By embracing the nonexistent “Ferguson effect,” they only further undermine their own legitimacy and drive a bigger wedge between themselves and the communities they are employed to serve.


Will Ferguson be a moment or a movement?

Source: Washington Post

Author: Fredrick Harris

(Fredrick Harris is a professor of political science and the director of the Center on African American Politics and Society at Columbia University. He is the author of “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics.”)

Emphasis Mine


When does a moment become a movement?

Events such as the killing of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., can provide the moral shock that political movements need to build their ranks and bring attention to a community’s afflictions. They can be like the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 or the beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998 — transformative episodes that remake perceptions and force a society to abandon abhorrent practices.

Or they can be like the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers: a horrific moment that failed to create a sustained push for broader, nationwide reforms of policing practices.

For black Americans, the outrage against the police that we’re seeing in Ferguson has appeared in roughly 10-year intervals — from the 1979 beating death of Arthur McDuffie by police, which sparked protest and violence in Miami; to the attack on King, which led to more than 50 deaths and several days of unrest in Los Angeles; to the 2001 shooting death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, which also erupted in protest and rioting and produced a costly economic boycott against the city.

I’m optimistic that Ferguson can lead to real change. The church rallies, street demonstrations, marches, looting and targeted violence against police are familiar responses. But there are four key differences in what is unfolding in Ferguson: first, the cumulative effect of recent cases of police misconduct against black people across the nation; second, a backlash against rhetoric that blames poor black youth for the way they are treated by police; third, the use of innovative protest tactics; and finally, the support of allies beyond the black communities that are demanding justice for Brown and reforms in policing.

It’s happening again and again

Ferguson reflects the changing mood in black America, and the realization that police misconduct is not isolated to particular communities but is a nationwide crisis. Since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by self-described neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, a series of killings of unarmed black youths by police and vigilantes has brought black frustration to the boiling point.

So perhaps America was due for another bout of unrest. But will Ferguson recede in the coming days and weeks, becoming the scene of just another tragic slaying that didn’t lead to meaningful change in police conduct toward black or brown communities? Will history remember Michael Brown less like Emmett Till and more like Rodney King?

Last September, 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell was gunned down by a white police officer in Charlotte while looking for help after a car crash. The following month, 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot to death in Dearborn Heights, Mich., by a white man who assumed that the teen was attempting to break into his home and fired at her from behind a locked screen door. She was also seeking help after a car crash.

The outcome of the February 2014 trial of Michael Dunn, a white man who killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis during an argument over loud music in Jacksonville, Fla., angered many black Americans who thought that Dunn should have been convicted for Davis’s death rather than for the attempted murder of the three survivors of the shooting.

And about three weeks before Brown’s killing in Ferguson, 43-year-old Eric Garner died from a police chokehold in Staten Island, N.Y., after telling the arresting officers that he could not breathe.

Police misconduct has often been treated as a local matter. But the cumulative effect of these and other events points to a national challenge, and it is only deepening black mistrust of law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Putting blame where it belongs

There is a widespread belief among white Americans, as well as many black ones, that the hairstyles, clothing, music and speech of poor and working-class black youths are the causes of aggressive police reactions — basically, that the kids are asking for it. This belief reflects a long-standing tradition of respectability politics, in which black progress against poverty and discrimination must flow from black people behaving differently, better.

In a nationwide 2008 poll by ABC News and Columbia University’s Center on African American Politics and Society, 44 percent of black Americans said they believed that the reason African Americans faced difficulty moving ahead was because they lacked individual initiative. Thirty-seven percent said that the lack of black progress was caused by racism in society.

This divide mirrors the lack of consensus among African Americans about how to deal with racist police practices. Either keep your head down at all times in public to avoid run-ins with police officers — or with white people more generally — or demand that you be treated as equals under the law, just like anyone else, without needing to strive for some flawless ideal

In the wake of Ferguson, many black and white Americans alike have awakened to the idea that a lack of respectability is not the problem; the problem is policing practices in black and brown communities. In Brown’s case, the allegation of his role in a “strong arm” robbery before his encounter with officer Darren Wilson has not defused protest. Indeed, the accusations heightened residents’ anger, because many fail to see a connection between the alleged robbery and Brown’s shooting, especially since Wilson had no knowledge of Brown’s potential involvement at the time of the shooting. Blame is falling where it belongs — on the officer for his aggressive policing, not on Brown for being less than superhuman.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, appointed by the governor to oversee security in Ferguson, has eloquently challenged the notion that black youths’ appearance says something about their propensity toward crime. “When this is over,” he told a church audience, “I am going to go in my son’s room. My black son. Who wears his pants sagging. Wears his hat cocked to the side. Got his tattoos on his arm. But that’s my baby.”

Such arguments reflect reality: Embracing respectability does not provide a shield against police misconduct. The stellar credentials of Ferrell, a former Florida A&M University student with a 3.7 GPA who was working his way back to college, did not protect him from being shot down by police. Nor did the professional status of Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore prevent her from being manhandled by a police officer, who wrestled her to the ground after she politely asked why she was being stopped for jaywalking and treated disrespectfully.

While the streets of Ferguson have been the scene of protest and confrontation, social media — in particular “Black Twitter” — has emerged as a powerful forum for activism and debate regarding Ferguson, helping sway public opinion by challenging racially biased interpretations of Brown’s killing. For example, black people on Twitter and Facebook have posted images of themselves in formal clothes alongside pictures of themselves in informal attire, asking whether they deserved to be under suspicion because of the way they were dressed. They have posted individual and group photos with their hands raised in a gesture of surrender — as witnesses reported Brown did when he was shot — with hashtags such as #HandsUpDontShoot and #blacklivesmatter. And they have used social media to coordinate vigils for Brown and other victims of police brutality, to organize rallies across the country, and to post links to live-streaming sites that show the Ferguson protests in real time.

With Ferguson more than ever before, social media has become the game-changer of black activism, filling the void left by the weakening of traditional civil rights leaders and organizations that used to play a vital role in interpreting events for the black community, but now have less credibility in that community than they did a generation ago.

Channeling anger into reform

Increased anger and distrust, shifting perceptions of blame, and new protest techniques will go only so far. If Brown’s death is to lead to a true movement, it must transcend the street unrest and hashtag angst that too often stand in for political organizing.

To succeed, movements require strong organization and coordination. The kinetic energy from protests in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, the District and elsewhere needs to be harnessed to build local organizations aimed at combating police brutality. Local activism, in turn, should be linked to regional and national efforts and protest campaigns such as the Dream Defenders in Florida and the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina and Georgia . This is how numbers and influence grow.

A movement will also need allies beyond black communities, such as immigration reformers and LGBT groups, whose constituencies are also affected by police brutality. And in the best tradition of the civil rights movement, allies should be sought abroad. Highlighting human rights abuses in the United States on the world stage — as Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. did during the Cold War — will put more pressure on America to live up to its professed ideals of freedom and equality.

Lastly, movements require patience and persistence. Once the marching stops and the cameras leave Ferguson, the grinding work of organizing will have to take hold. The 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott lasted a year until victory was declared, and congressional legislation banning racial discrimination in public accommodations and voting did not pass until a decade later. It took 17 years for LGBT activists to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Change does not come overnight.

Taking the fight online

What may keep Ferguson from becoming a national transformative event is if “justice” is narrowly confined to seeking relief for Brown and his family. If the focus is solely on the need for formal charges against Wilson, a fair trial, a conviction, a wrongful-death lawsuit — rather than seeing those things as part of a broader movement that tackles stand-your-ground laws, the militarization of local police, a requirement that cameras be worn by police on duty and the need for a comprehensive federal racial-profiling law. If justice remains solely personal, rather than universal.

Some believed that the beating of Rodney King and the riots that followed would lead to improved policing in black communities. But energy went toward rebuilding, not reforming. Ferguson presents an opportunity to pursue a different course. Let’s turn this tragedy into a tipping point.

see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/will-ferguson-be-a-moment-or-a-movement/2014/08/22/071d4a94-28a8-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html?wpisrc=nl-popns&wpmm=1