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TBF's Journal
TBF's Journal
July 28, 2015

The Making of the American Police State

How did we end up with millions behind bars and police armed like soldiers?
by Christian Parenti ~ 7/28/15

In other words, among the important things criminal justice does is regulate, absorb, terrorize, and disorganize the poor. At the same time it promulgates politically useful racism. Criminal justice discourse is the racism circus; from courts to reality TV it is the primary ideological site for producing the false consciousness that is American racism.

How did we get here? The numbers are chilling: 2.2 million people behind bars, another 4.7 million on parole or probation. Even small-town cops are armed like soldiers, with a thoroughly militarized southern border.

The common leftist explanation for this is “the prison-industrial complex,” suggesting that the buildup is largely privatized and has been driven by parasitic corporate lobbying. But the facts don’t support an economistic explanation. Private prisons only control 8 percent of prison beds. Nor do for-profit corporations use much prison labor. Nor even are guards’ unions, though strong in a few important states, driving the buildup.

The vast majority of the American police state remains firmly within the public sector. But this does not mean the criminal justice buildup has nothing to do with capitalism. At its heart, the new American repression is very much about the restoration and maintenance of ruling class power.

American society and economy have from the start evolved through forms of racialized violence, but criminal justice was not always so politically central. For the better part of a century after the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s, the national incarceration rate hovered at around 100 to 110 per 100,000. But then, in the early 1970s, the incarceration rate began a precipitous and continual climb upward ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/07/incarceration-capitalism-black-lives-matter/

July 27, 2015

Layoffs in US for July 2015 (so far) - 16,000

San Diego-based Qualcomm announces 4,700 layoffs
By Josh Varlin
27 July 2015

Qualcomm Incorporated, a San Diego-based semiconductor company heavily involved in the smartphone market, announced 4,700 layoffs and other restructuring measures on July 22. This was in addition to thousands of other US layoffs announced this month, including technology giant Xerox and Mitsubishi Motors.

Qualcomm—which is the largest producer of LTE chips used in smartphones—plans on cutting $1.4 billion in expenses, including about 15 percent of its global workforce.

< snip >

The total announced layoffs in the United States for the month of July so far is approximately 16,000.

Even as jobs are being axed by the thousands, companies are engaging in stock buybacks and other parasitic financial activities. American corporations alone are sitting on about $1.4 trillion in cash, but refuse to productively invest. As a result, US economic growth has largely come to a standstill in the first half of the year, with gross domestic product growing by just .2 percent in the first quarter ...

More here: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/07/27/qual-j27.html

July 27, 2015

Governor Union-buster goes for Washington

Robin Gee and Brian Ward provide a primer on what everyone needs to know about Scott Walker--now a leader of the teeming field of Republican presidential hopefuls.
July 27, 2015

LAST YEAR at the Conservative Political Action Conference--a dog-and-pony show featuring the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination--Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker famously responded to a question about how he would handle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by saying, "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world."

That's right. Scott Walker compared ISIS to a bunch of union activists in Wisconsin.

On July 13 of this year, Walker, who has led the charge nationally in right-wing attacks on union rights, threw his hat into the Republican primary ring. Walker hopes to take his assault on working people to a higher stage. If he succeeds, Wisconsin gives a glimpse of what the country could expect.

Walker has become a poster boy for the right-wing agenda of gutting public services--which also goes by the name of austerity. Conservatives are taking great pride that Walker has been able to carry out his assault in a state with a long history of progressive politics and a reputation for being a union stronghold ...

More here: http://socialistworker.org/2015/07/27/governor-union-buster-goes-for-washington

July 25, 2015

Reason #1 to Vote Bernie

Reason #1 to Vote Bernie: Sanders Does 'Better Than Clinton' Against GOP in Swing States

According to a July 22, 2015 Quinippiac University Poll, Hillary Clinton's once overwhelming lead in public opinion has been cut substantially, and it's still a long way to the February 1, 2016 Iowa Caucus. In states that will decide the 2016 presidential election, Quinippiac reports that "Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, runs as well as, or better than Clinton against Rubio, Bush and Walker." According to its latest poll, Quinippiac explains how Clinton's lead has eroded in swing states, while Sanders's surge has spread from Iowa and New Hampshire to other key regions:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is behind or on the wrong side of a too-close-to-call result in matchups with three leading Republican contenders, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today...

In several matchups in Iowa and Colorado, another Democratic contender, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, runs as well as, or better than Clinton against Rubio, Bush and Walker...


July 24, 2015

Reimagining the Welfare State

by Jennifer Mittelstadt ~ 7-23-15

In this context New Deal nostalgia is a trap. It deludes us about happier times that were not in fact happy for many Americans. While the New Deal offered an unprecedented safety net for many, its holes allowed at least half of the population to fall through.

Since the creation of the free-market Liberty League by the DuPont brothers in 1936, hostile corporate leaders, financiers, economists, and lawmakers have been bent on destroying Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal welfare state.

Wisconsin workers have seen their right to collective bargaining outlined in the New Deal’s Wagner Act gutted, while public pensions, created during the Great Depression to bolster public employment and ensure long-term economic security, have been attacked from Alaska to Florida. Congress also continues to chip away at the state-sponsored provision of basic needs, recently targeting the food stamp program (originally created under FDR) by proposing that all recipients hold jobs, suffer lifetime limits, and receive lower overall benefits.

To many observers, it appears that the New Deal and its safety net have been shredded. Political scientists and others have argued that the perilous individual economic risk that Americans faced before the New Deal has been foisted back on them as its collective protections have withered. With the shocking growth in economic inequality that has arisen alongside cuts to the New Deal, freedom from want — the keystone of Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” — has been chipped away to a pebble. It’s enough to make Americans long for a revival of the politics of the 1930s.

But we should be clear-eyed rather than nostalgic about the demise of the welfare state ....

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/07/fdr-social-security-gi-bill/

July 24, 2015

Bernie Sanders’s ‘100% Brooklyn’ Roots Show Beyond His Accent (NYTimes)

Nice article in the NYTimes this afternoon about Bernie's early years in Brooklyn -


Ivor Williams stood on his porch and stared suspiciously at the visitor who was pointing to the attic of his pink and shingled house near Brooklyn College.


Hillary Rodham Clinton may be a former senator from New York who located her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn Heights, but all it takes to know who really represents Brooklyn in the race for the Democratic nomination is for Mr. Sanders to open his mouth and utter a few syllables.

As Mr. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, draws large crowds on the campaign trail and enjoys an unexpected surge, his ur-Brooklyn accent and upbringing in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Flatbush off Kings Highway have become a particular point of pride for friends, former schoolmates and fellow progressives in the borough where he was born.

“I’m very proud of the fact that he speaks Brooklyn, because he’s not a phony and that shows,” said Marty Alpert, who used to cheer for Mr. Sanders when he was on the track team at James Madison High School, where she now is on the alumni board ...


July 23, 2015

Police Killings in 2015 so far (by State):

How Many People Police Have Killed in Each State So Far This Year

In 47 out of 50 states, American police officers have killed at least one person so far this year. In some, the number of officer-involved homicides dwarfs numbers from entire countries.

The map below, based on statistics the research collaborative Mapping Police Violence provided to Mic, shows all 605 deaths from police violence in the United States from Jan. 1 through July 10. As is evident, there's a clear correlation between population size and the number of slayings, but certain states still stand out with particularly large numbers.


July 20, 2015

Sandra and Kindra: Suicides or Something Sinister?

Excellent OP-Ed by Charles M. Blow in the NYTimes this afternoon -

JULY 20, 2015

Although the mantra “Black Lives Matter” was developed by black women, I often worry that in the collective consciousness it carries with it an implicit masculine association, one that renders subordinate or even invisible the very real and concurrent subjugation and suffering of black women, one that assigns to these women a role of supporter and soother and without enough space or liberty to express and advocate for their own.

Last week, the prism shifted a bit, as America and the social justice movement focused on the mysterious cases of two black women who died in police custody.

The first and most prominent was Sandra Bland, a black woman from suburban Chicago who had moved to Texas to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A & M University, a historically black school about 50 miles northwest of Houston.

She never started that job. After being arrested following a traffic stop, Bland was found dead in her jail cell. The police say she killed herself. Her family and friends doubt it ...


July 9, 2015

The Evolution of Dr. King *Socialist Progressives Group Post*

By the end of his life, Martin Luther King Jr was an avowed socialist.
by Lee Sustar ~ 1.19.15 (Lee Sustar is the labor editor for Socialist Worker, where this first appeared)

Virtually every Democratic Party politician, black or white, claims the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Conveniently forgotten is the fact that in the final years of his life, before his assassination in 1968, King broke with Democratic President Lyndon Johnson over the Vietnam War and the administration’s failure to enforce civil rights legislation in the South. That’s something no Democrats of national stature have been willing to do today.

While the reforms advocated by King for most of his life were mild compared to the demands of the more radical black nationalists, they were nevertheless condemned by the same Democrats who have since tried to turn King into a heroic icon and a symbol of black accommodation to the system.

In order to understand King’s eventual shift to the left, it’s necessary to look at the class struggles that underpinned the civil rights movement and the nature of King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) ...

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/martin-luther-king-socialist/

July 8, 2015

Sanders's integrity and honesty worth more than Clinton's billions

July 08, 2015, 07:30 am
By H.A. Goodman, contributor

While CNN published an article headlined "Poll: Clinton's honesty and trustworthy problem extends to swing states," the former secretary of State's main challenger for the Democratic nomination doesn't have a trust problem with voters. The Boston Globe writes that during a campaign visit to Iowa, a former Marine drove six hours to hear Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speak and another Iraq War veteran stated, "He's the first politician that I've believed in my life." Sanders is down by only 8 points in New Hampshire, primarily because he's championed progressive causes long before they were popular. The man once stated that he's a "democratic socialist" (very different from the Fox News meaning of socialism), so Americans know that Vermont's junior senator doesn't have a public relations machine vetting his every word.

As a result of his refusal to take a poll-driven and centrist viewpoint on major issues like foreign policy and the economy, Sanders must wage a grass-roots campaign for the White House. NPR reports that his recent total of $15 million came from "250,000 donors making nearly 400,000 contributions of $250 or less." However, Sanders has the trust of the average American, and while Hillary Clinton has amassed $329 million in her career (three of her top five donors are Citigroup, Goldman and JP Morgan), some things can't be purchased with money. The integrity, honesty and bold stances of Sanders might make him a real threat to Clinton’s campaign and he's earned something that billions in campaign fundraising can't buy: the trust of the average American.

In contrast, Clinton has similar positions to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on war and Wall Street; previously expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership; previously said she was "inclined" toward the Keystone XL pipeline; and up until 2013, opposed gay marriage, yet is expected to raise $2.5 billion from Democratic supporters. As for her rapport with the average American, Clinton's campaign is running more like a corporation than anything that could be described as "grass-roots." In Orwellian irony, the Clinton campaign recently held business round tables with "everyday" Iowans who also happened to be "selected to attend her events." In addition, her recent Twitter campaign proudly asks, "If you won a dinner with Hillary, what would you ask her?" but doesn't elaborate if Clinton would answer questions about her Iraq War vote, evolution on gay marriage or any other controversial topic. Nonetheless, Clinton is raising hundreds of millions, even though Vice News, the Associated Press and others have sued the State Department for access to her emails as secretary of State (31,830 of which she unilaterally deleted from a private home server without the oversight of a third party).

Sanders, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Clinton. When 72 percent of Americans supported the Iraq War in 2003, Sanders not only voted against the invasion, but foreshadowed its unintended consequences and never allowed intelligence reports to influence his decision-making ...

Much more here: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/presidential-campaign/247140-sanderss-integrity-and-honesty-worth-more-than

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Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
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About TBF

The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman
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