Category Archives: politics of fear

“Drug prohibition is the golden goose of terrorism”

The Judge is Wise.  Watch this video.

Via Ed Brayton, Judge Jim Gray, a conservative California judge with lots of experience fighting drugs, says the present policy benefits drug lords and terrorists among others. After laying out his case, Jones concludes the most patriotic thing he can do is work to repeal drug laws:

I like how the judge has to lay out his hardass bonafides before launching into his anti-prohibition arguments.  “I’m not a dirty hippie, dammit!”  Nixon to China and all that.  Hey man, whatever it takes!

Then there is the social justice argument that he leaves largely unsaid.  I caught some of this interview with Michelle Alexander last week, laying out the racial angle of the War on Drugs, and it’s pretty appalling.

The war on drugs waged in these ghetto communities has managed to brand as felons millions of people of color for relatively minor, nonviolent drug offenses. And once branded a felon, they’re ushered into a permanent second-class status, not unlike the one we supposedly left behind. Those labeled felons may be denied the right to vote, are automatically excluded from juries, and my be legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, public benefits, much like their grandparents or great grandparents may have been discriminated against during the Jim Crow era.

[…]

The war on drugs, contrary to popular belief, was not declared in response to rising drug crime. Actually, the war on drugs, the current drug war, was declared in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan at a time when drug crime was actually on the decline. A few years later, crack cocaine hit the streets in poor communities of color across America, and the Reagan administration hired staff to publicize crack babies, crack mothers, crack dealers in inner-city communities, in an effort to build public support and more funding, and ensure more funding, for the new war that had been declared. But the drug war had relatively little to do with drug crime, even from the outset.

The drug war was launched in response to racial politics, not drug crime. The drug war was part of the Republican Party’s grand strategy, often referred to as the Southern strategy, an effort to appear—appeal to poor and working-class white voters who were threatened by, felt vulnerable, threatened by the gains of the civil rights movement, particularly desegregation, busing and affirmative action. And the Republican Party found that it could get Democrats—white, you know, working-class poor Democrats—to defect from the Democratic New Deal coalition and join the Republican Party through racially coded political appeals on issues of crime and welfare.

Lovely.  Part II of the interview is here.

Blame it on Bubba

The tire iron wielding Bubba isn’t alone in his hatred, ignorance and xenophobia…the folks over at Wall Street feel the same way toward the poor masses. How else could one explain their continued adherence to the notion that the nations poor are to blame for the worst global financial meltdown in 100 years? This quote from the WSJ Op-Ed pages is patently ridiculous to anyone with even a basic understanding of what caused the meltdown:

Fifty percent of the high-risk loans are estimated to be CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) loans, with much of the remainder useful to the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) in meeting their affordable-housing goals.

The flood of CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) and affordable-housing loans with loosened underwriting standards, combined with declining mortgage interest rates-to 5% in 2003 from 10% in early 1991-resulted in a massive increase in borrowing capacity and fueled a house price bubble of unprecedented magnitude over the period 1997-2006.

So the government is to blame for the crisis because they made it so much easier for poor people to buy a home…right.

The reality of what happened is pretty well summarized in “Fool’s Gold”…I think this review of the book is spot on. The only way bad mortgages take down the entire financial system is when they are used as the ‘raw material’ for speculation by the investment community, whose insatiable appetite for risk, for betting on just about anything, and unfettered greed will always destroy any sane conventional system of banking. History has shown us this several times…Greenspan’s now infamous ‘shocked disbelief’ is laughable when you consider a historical perspective. Or maybe it was those irresponsible poor people who didn’t read the fine fine fine print on the terms of their sub-prime mortgage, right Wall Street?

Welcome to America

Just wanted to highlight this story of another of our best and brightest protecting the homeland

TAMPA — A Marine reservist armed with a tire iron beat and chased a man he thought was an Arab terrorist and even called 911 to say he was detaining the man, police said.

But the man he assaulted was actually a Greek Orthodox priest visiting from overseas who spoke limited English, police said.

[…] Marakis apparently got lost and exited northbound Interstate 275 into downtown Tampa, police said.

The priest followed several cars into the Seaport Channelside Apartments on Twiggs Street. He got out of his car and asked Bruce for help.

Instead of offering help, Bruce struck the priest on the head with a tire iron, police said.

He then chased the priest for three blocks to the Madison Avenue and Meridian Avenue, police said, and even called 911 to say that an Arabic man tried to rob him.

Bruce said he was going to take the Arab into custody. When police arrived, Bruce told them the victim was a terrorist.

Sadly, I suspect this story is only newsworthy because the victim turned out to be a priest.  How many guatemalans do you suppose get clubbed in Florida on a daily basis as part of the Great Xenophobia?  I guess the main difference there is that (1) immigrants are smart enough not to ask Bubba for directions, and (2) Bubba doesn’t usually call 911 afterward.

(via)

They Surround Us (A Few Snack Crackers)

In case anybody neglected to attend their State Fair this summer, here’s a little taste of the great american freakshow…

George W. famously joked that we are a country of haves and have-mores.  A rare moment of honesty to be sure, but a lie of omission nonetheless: he left out the have-nots and, increasingly, the half-nuts.  The poor dupes in the video above all think Big Guvmint is coming to take their precious crumbs away. Most of these people live on the ass rim of the economic spectrum. Yet when presented with a reform effort that could actually do them some good, they lose their damn minds. To quote the Boss: “end up like a dog that’s been beat too much, til you spend half your life just a-covering up”.  Matt Taibbi calls it the “peasant mentality” (from a post that I have surely linked to before).  At the time he wrote this the corporate masters were trying to cajole these people into opposing executive compensation limits, but opposition to health care reform is the more natural vehicle for their vicious, self-denying ways:

After all, the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over. Beck pointedly compared the AIG protesters to Bolsheviks: “[The Communists] basically said ‘Eat the rich, they did this to you, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” He then said the AIG and G20 protesters were identical: “It’s a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same: Find ‘em, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” Beck has an audience that’s been trained that the rich are not appropriate targets for anger, unless of course they’re Hollywood liberals, or George Soros, or in some other way linked to some acceptable class of villain, to liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc. — Ted Turner, say, married to Jane Fonda.

But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated.

And because my Daily Links have been hijacked by some paintballing virus, I will go ahead and link to this groovy Q & A with Douglas Rushkoff which I heartily recommend, talking about the historical roots of corporatism.  (I predict Thom Hartmann fans will approve).  The discussion is not about the half-nuts per se, but their participation in the corporate-media-consumofest is implicit.  Read the whole thing, I say!

What in the name of God is wrong with these people?

If you haven’t already seen this, really absorb it….but it is just the prelude…Phase 1 of the brainwashing strategy – “Obama is not one of us.”

Moving on to Phase 2 of the brainwashing strategy – “Lie about what Obama is trying to do, in a truly frightening way.”

‘The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.’

Talk about downright evil. Sara Palin is beyond the pale. She is a walking talking sack of shit and is leading the way promoting pure bullshit. Taking advantage of people who are already so brainwashed and stupid that they would believe this crap. These idiots are so obsessed with demonizing Obama, that a 28 percent of these senile dingbats believe that Obama is not a citizen.

And finally Phase 3 – “When someone tries to correct the lies, do not listen to what they have to say and shout so they can’t even be heard.”

Insert here some notorius videos of jackass jerks at town hall meetings on Healthcare….I’ll leave that to the comments, as I need to get to work, but I needed a quick venting and the summertime ATH needed a little something.

The Yeast of the Pharisees

It may not be my decision to cast them into the fiery pit, but I think that chances are every single damned one of these conservative talk cry-babies who keeps blocking our country from making the logical step forward is going to the deepest part of hell that you can imagine. They are hurting people. They are profiting from it. They are the “the yeast of the Pharisees” spreading their bacteria, multiplying this demented pile of scum that is so retarded, so arrogant that they suck up to the private healthcare leeches that are sucking us dry. Sucking us DRY!

So here’s a shot of penicilin, coming right at you from all the hypocrisy. Listen to this evil, evil, man who calls himself Glenn Beck. He is off his rocker, and just imagine the pathetic dimwits who have been infected by his yeast, just imagine how messed up in the head they are.

Listen to the Hitler-style maniacal yelling and realize this man Beck is using the same bag of tricks. Understand that the human brain is wired for stories, not facts…at one point Beck says…”where do you read in the story that…” Stories, not facts. Its a freak show.

Totally Wasted

Mother Jones has a great new issue out devoted to the War on Drugs. Every article so far has been money. Check it out!

But then, the drug war has never been about facts—about, dare we say, soberly weighing which policies might alleviate suffering, save taxpayers money, rob the cartels of revenue. Instead, we’ve been stuck in a cycle of prohibition, failure, and counterfactual claims of success. (To wit: Since 1998, the ONDCP has spent $1.4 billion on youth anti-pot ads. It also spent $43 million to study their effectiveness. When the study found that kids who’ve seen the ads are more likely to smoke pot, the ONDCP buried the evidence, choosing to spend hundreds of millions more on the counterproductive ads.)

I also went ahead and threw up some new Rec List headings at right, since Reefercake signaled approval.  I don’t mean to dominate that column, and hope that fellow editors feel free to post their recommended links too.  I originally conceived of it as being a revolving set of links with old stuff falling off, but now that it’s grown long I kind of like that too.

At any rate, here is the full lineup of articles from MoJo:

The American Taliban

The American Taliban is at it again. They burnt down a topless coffee shop in a small town in Northern Maine.

They have been responsible for countless acts of violence in addition to the recent dramatic murder at a church ceremony. Interesting to go through the list of these acts of violence on wiki, and see how many occur in the U.S. compared to other countries.

I can only assume that there is something uniquely special about America’s ability to produce these sorts of terrorist groups. These groups openly proclaim their support of terrorist acts. Why? I guess the common thread between the burning of a topless coffee shop and the anti-choice crowd, is a deep seeded fear that some people out there may be enjoying sex. Somehow in America we have simultaneously developed the ability to develop a very slutty and sexually promiscuous and all around perverted group of folks, along with a group of folks who probably don’t even know how to operate the clitoris. And somewhere in the middle are folks like me, who could appreciate a topless coffee shop, and at the same time maintain a healthy and sex life with my wife…as long as I can stay out of the dog house…but I digress.

The point is these morons are scared shitless of people, especially women, enjoying sex, and they are usually the same freaks trying to get it on in the airport bathroom with some hot and heavy foot-tapping. I really hate these stupid hypocrites.

At least we can hope that their violent stupidity will backfire. All it took was a tent and a generator and the coffee shop is back up and running. I am looking into how to donate money to this coffee and titty operation. With coffee and titties, I believe we can change the world for the better.

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

After several months of obsessively studying American politics, it’s my carefully considered opinion that this country is run by worthless assholes. I never thought Bush was remotely in charge of things, I don’t know why I thought things would be any different with Obama.  They’re both pitchmen for the new fascism. Obama’s a hell of a lot better at it than W, which is in many ways terribly depressing.  

Was anyone else disturbed by yesterday’s speeches? Talk about your false dichotomy. Obama brilliantly explains all the ways we have to continue Bush Administration policy, then before you can object, here comes a fat slab of Cheney to make you count your blessings.  You tell me which one of them had this to say:

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here—this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We’re going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. 

This preventive detention shit is intended to be the new policy. Here’s Diane Feinstein telling Andrea Mitchell all about it:

The laws of war very clearly say that you can keep a combatant in detention for the length of the conflict. Now this is a bit of an unusual war in that sense, but it is, in fact, a war and it is going to go on. 

Therefore, if somebody is judged to be an unlawful combatant, and they remain a threat to our national security, what needs to be evolved is a process whereby their detention is periodically reviewed, either by a court, which I would prefer, or by a military panel and a determination made as to whether the threat still continues.

Now this would happen, I would think, annually, in a lengthy detention, but there is no question in my mind that somebody who is classified as an unlawful combatant can, in fact, be kept in detention until the end of this conflict, which means terrorism, against the United States, against her allies, and in the world abates.

Oh, I see! So these guys who can’t be convicted of any crimes unless it’s in a kangaroo court, get to be released when the War Against Terror is officially over? When will that be? When the threat level drops to green?

UPDATE: Greenwald with (lots) more, natcherly.

If you really think about the argument Obama made yesterday — when he described the five categories of detainees and the procedures to which each will be subjected — it becomes manifest just how profound a violation of Western conceptions of justice this is.  What Obama is saying is this:  we’ll give real trials only to those detainees we know in advance we will convict.  For those we don’t think we can convict in a real court, we’ll get convictions in the military commissions I’m creating.  For those we can’t convict even in my military commissions, we’ll just imprison them anyway with no charges (“preventively detain” them). 

Giving trials to people only when you know for sure, in advance, that you’ll get convictions is not due process.  Those are called “show trials.”  In a healthy system of justice, the Government gives everyone it wants to imprison a trial and then imprisons only those whom it can convict. 

UPDATE II: Maddow with solid coverage too!

The Grand Inquisitor (a parable for our times)

Excerpt from THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
By Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
Translated by Constance Garnett

No signs from heaven come to-day
To add to what the heart doth say.

“There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of the truth of these miracles. And just then there appeared in the north of Germany a terrible new heresy. ‘A huge star like to a torch’ (that is, to a church) ‘fell on the sources of the waters and they became bitter.’ These heretics began blasphemously denying miracles. But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent in their faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaited His coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervour, ‘O Lord our God, hasten Thy coming’; so many ages called upon Him, that in His infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants. Before that day He had come down, He had visited some holy men, martyrs, and hermits, as is written in their lives. Among us, Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the truth of his words, bore witness that

Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress, Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
Our mother, Russia, came to bless, And through our land went wandering.

“And that certainly was so, I assure you.

“And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to the tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him like children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to the glory of God, and ‘in the splendid auto da fe the wicked heretics were burnt.’ Oh, of course, this was not the coming in which He will appear, according to His promise, at the end of time in all His heavenly glory, and which will be sudden ‘as lightning flashing from east to west.’ No, He visited His children only for a moment, and there where the flames were crackling round the heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that human shape in which He walked among men for thirty-three years fifteen centuries ago. He came down to the ‘hot pavements’ of the southern town in which on the day before almost a hundred heretics had, ad majorem gloriam Dei, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville.

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