Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dawson gets it partially right

then characteristically manages to get the rest wrong. In Gaming the Greens, he describes one of the more recent bits of silliness to come from the Oil industry - namely a computer simulation game (called Energyville) that, for lack of a better way of putting it, amounts to little more than providing propaganda for Chevron. I'll quote a bit from his post, since he does manage to say something useful:
But there’s one very huge unmentioned catch: In Energyville, all “your” city’s sources of energy demand (as opposed to energy supply) are fixed by Chevron and The Economist! You have no choices about transportation or urban layout or housing density or any other kind of commodity production!
That, of course, is because corporate capitalism has zero capacity to withstand any substantial alteration in those all-important factors. Shrinking demand to save humanity and the planet would spell doom for our overclass. Ergo, no demand-side choices will be tolerated or even mentioned.
He then loses it in the concluding statement:
The extra scary part of this little propaganda “game” is that the green activist-intelligentsia seems to be naively gobbliing the candy and bounding right into the witch’s house.
We are in very deep trouble…
If you follow the link to the Greenpeace blog post to which he references, the "green activist-intelligentsia" to which he refers is probably considerably less naive than he contends. Yes, someone named Martin Lloyd plays the game (which he describes as somewhat like SimCity), and describes it in some detail. But then Lloyd goes on to say,
The more I look at Chevron's Energyville game the more I think it's a fantastic example of oil industry greenwashing. Here are some of the things that really stand out for me.

Business as usual
In the game no matter how much you choose to spend on energy efficiency between now and 2030 demand for energy will increase by 50%. Banning incandescent lightbulbs, legislating for fuel efficiency, carbon taxes, more efficient electrical appliances, better public transport... forget it. Energy demand will grow by 50% in the game, forcing you to build more stuff. The notion of a future with less stuff, or even the same amount of stuff is literally unthinkable within the game. You see this kind of thinking in the real world in things like the energy scenarios released today by the IEA for India and China, "business as usual" thinking is code for accepting catastrophic climate change.
Security
Security of the energy supply has become a fantastic catch all for the fossil fuel industry lately. Once you accept that parts of the energy supply might be in the hands of people who may not want to share it the discovery of more oil or gas anywhere is, defacto, a good thing. It's even better if that oil or gas is close to home, perhaps in the Alaskan Wilderness, or as shale oil in Colorado, or beneath the newly accessible arctic ocean. New, secure, domestic oil, that's what the world needs, say the energy companies. Of course no-one is talking about closing down oil wells in the Middle East to compensate for this.
Security is also a handy stick with which to beat renewable solutions, partly because most people are really bad at assessing and comparing risks. Geo-political situations cause problems for nations oil and gas supplies every day, but the game considers the possibility of a successful terrorist attack on a city's power supply (something which has never happened) to be equally likely. I'm not sure how the Economist's Intelligence Unit came up with that one.
It's Energy, not the Climate!
And then of course there's the biggest frame of all. This game isn't really about our energy problems at all. It's about Chevron's image problem over climate change. Chevron launched this PR campaign to make it look like they were doing something, while drowning the discussion in irrelevant concepts like the ones mentioned above. The fossil fuel industry wants to talk about energy, and geo-politics and how we support business as usual because it doesn't want to face up to the fact that if we're going to get through the next fifty years without dramatically harming the entire world then the one thing that definitely cannot continue as usual is the fossil fuel industry.
Oh, and the numbers don't add up. Oddly in a game stuffed full of precise sounding factoids the total energy demand of all sectors of your economy comes to 105%. In some ways I think that says it all...
Did Michael Dawson bother to read either of the posts, or did he just look for a blog title via Google or something in order to find a "naive green" who had presumably fallen into a trap laid out by corporate elites? I'm guessing the latter.

As an aside, Dawson has this annoying habit of trolling any editorial appearing on Dissident Voice involving so much as a favorable mention of Ward Churchill, whom from what I gather earns Dawson's ire for allegedly making "the antiwar left look bad" when he referred to those working in the WTC as "little Eichmanns." The dude's at it again, in Mickey Z's latest, One Little, Two Little, Three Little Eichmanns. I guess Dawson gets hung up on there being a few low-wage workers in the WTC on Sept. 11, 2001 who where killed (indeed a few folks who'd crossed La Frontera all the way from Chiapas, Mexico, were killed that day, as John Ross mentions in his book, Murdered By Capitalism). That said, Dawson loses the forest for the trees:
To the extent that many working for the corporations housed in the WTC were unreflective careerists who had given nary a thought to the impact that they and their employers were having on those affected by their decisions, I find the term [Little Eichmanns] to be dead-on accurate. I would say the same for the technocrats working for the IMF, to the extent that many unreflectively pursue actions that lead to starvation, disease, displacement, and social death for many in the Global South, as well as to those working for the US government and those in the academic and punditry classes who give them intellectual cover.
But then again, maybe I should not say such things. After all, what would the neighbors think?

Kindred spirits

Italy's Senate to its undocumented residents: You're unequal before the law (h/t Lenin's Tomb). Yes, Italy moves ever closer to fascism:
Under new laws approved by the Senate, illegal immigrants convicted of crimes will now face jail sentences a third longer than those for Italians.
Courts will be able to jail illegal immigrants for up to four years rather than simply deport them.
Property rented to illegal immigrants can also be confiscated.
Both the Catholic Church and Italy's left-wing opposition say that, as well as targeting immigrants unfairly, the new laws may also encourage racism.
I don't think racism there needs much encouragement. Italy's own nativists have been on the warpath, endeavoring to further persecute the Roma who reside there. The Northern League (or Lega Nord) has been advancing in the polls, while whatever there was of a left has simply collapsed.

I hinted at the similarities between what's going on in Italy and what's going on here. Over at The Sanctuary, rachelfirm has gone a bit further (in discussing the callous reaction of Italian beach-goers to the death of two Roma children recently):
What struck me about this story, other than the shockingly callous response of the beach-goers, was that it sound all too familiar. In our own country, we stand by as an entire population of migrants is de-humanized and criminalized. On the US-Mexican boder, there have been 117 deaths so far this year. The bodies pile up, while Americans turn a blind eye.
The word "illegal" has become not an adjective for a beaureaucratic process of gaining status, but rather an entire race of people who have been deemed less than worthy of humanity, kindness and compassion.
People die and we continue to sunbathe.
There's a great deal of not only individual racism, but just as importantly racism on the structural and cultural level - in the US as in Italy. Culturally, an element of white supremacy and exceptionalism characterize both nations. Each has its own version of manifest destiny (Michael Parenti touches briefly on both in his book Superpatriotism, and I've spent some time on the US version elsewhere on this blog). Those cultural assumptions can be found at work most blatantly in nativist rhetoric, but even those who aren't consciously racist or anti-immigrant may still buy into those assumptions. It appears that just as in the US, Italy has its own set of politicians and pundits who have managed to push their extremist rhetoric into the political mainstream. I'm willing to bet that the Lega Nord's estimates of "illegal immigrant" criminality are about as inaccurate as those of our own nativists. Structurally, in both nations, the legal and economic systems are rigged against ethnic minorities, and if the nativists have their way, the systems will only become more rigged. Pogroms, whether against the Roma or against humans of Mexican and Central American origin (e.g., ICE Raids), have been given official sanction.

As for the state of the leftist opposition in Italy, I'm not familiar enough to know what to suggest. I do know that this blog, Arthur Silber's blog, and American Leftist have certainly offered some ideas for the American situation - some of which may be applicable in Italy. Certainly, I'd suggest that any leftist parties and organizations still extant in Italy abandon neoliberalism entirely. I'd also suggest that those of conscience who either are involved in existing immigrants rights organizations or thinking of getting involved look for ways to network, to create the sorts of coalitions needed to withstand the current nativist assault. An internet presence wouldn't hurt either (sort of like the Sanctuarysphere that has recently emerged here in the US - if there's already an Italian equivalent, so much the better!), to the extent that it can serve as a tonic to the usual hate-speech that usually gets plenty of an airing of corporate media.

When it comes to fuel economy,

we truly have not come a long way in nearly six decades. Boran2 has occasionally reminded us of the fuel economy of the 1950 Nash Statesman, a behemoth of a car that boasted gas mileage figures of more than 25 mpg. Check the advert:

As Boran2 reported last November, the Madison Avenue folks weren't just blowing smoke:
A little googling brought up this piece contemporary to the time of the ad. The comparison of 1950 vehicles yielded some surprising results. Reading down a bit, it seems that the old Nash did indeed live up to the claims of the ad.
On a basis of gasoline mileage alone, the Studebaker Champion placed first with 26.551 miles to the gallon, the sweepstakes-winning Mercury second with 26.524 mi., and a Nash Ambassador third with 26.424 mi. Next, in order of ranking: Nash Statesman, 25.522 m.p.g.;...
In fact, the two large Nash models both performed as advertised. True ad copy?!! Strange indeed.

I wondered how a large 57 year old automobile would compare with a modern vehicle, replete with modern electronic enhancements.

Toyota lists gas mileage figures for its basic 4 cylinder Camry as 21 local and 31 on the highway. The average would be about the same as that 57 year old Nash, 26 miles per gallon.

The old Nash manages to pull off this feat while being longer and carrying nearly twice as much luggage space. The length of the Toyota is 189.2 inches, the Nash is 201 inches. Luggage space for the Toyota is 15 cubic feet, the Nash is 28.8. (Note that all of these figures are taken from the ads of the respective manufacturers.) Given recent new restrictions on gas mileage claims, one must assume that Toyota's figures are fairly close to accurate.
My dad used to drive the smaller, more frugal Rambler back in the day - a great little car that was produced through the early 1960s. Initially the Rambler was a Nash vehicle, later produced by AMC. If you go through the various Rambler models of the 1950s, you'll see it boasting some pretty decent fuel economy figures - its six-cylinder engines would certainly compare well with today's six-cylinder engines. The 1950 Rambler, according to an owner poll estimated 23.5 mpg in town and 27.4 mpg on the highway. Even the more powerful engine on the 1956 Rambler was still capable of averaging about 24 mpg, outpacing its competition. Check out the 1958 Rambler American, which was getting gas mileage figures in the mid 30s. Not only could the 1960 Rambler American remain comparable, but in one trial managed to record 51.28 mpg!

Something to think about when contemplating today's $4 per gallon gasoline prices.

Border activist on trial for leaving drinking water for migrants

Here's the press release at No More Border Deaths (h/t Americas MexicoBlog):
The trial is this Friday, July 25, at 9:30 a.m., at the DeConcini federal courthouse, 405 W. Congress, in Tucson. A press conference will be held in front of the courthouse at noon or immediately following the trial.

Millis and three other humanitarian aid volunteers were picking up trash and leaving jugs of drinking water along border trails in Brown Canyon north of Sasabe on February 22, 2008, when they were confronted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement. Officers informed volunteers that they could neither leave water nor recover trash without proper permits, and Millis was presented with a $175 ticket for littering.

“I didn't pay the ticket because I'm not guilty,” says Millis. “Littering is a crime, humanitarian aid is not.”

Millis, a volunteer with No More Deaths since 2005, has previously brought groups of high school students to the border to pick up trash. He coordinated an educational partnership with the Leave No Trace program and currently coordinates No More Deaths' participation in the Pima County Adopt-a-Roadway program.

“I felt especially compelled to leave drinking water out that day, because only two days earlier I found the body of a young girl in the desert. She was only fourteen,” states Millis. “It was heartbreaking.”

238 migrants were found dead in the Arizona borderlands during the 2007 fiscal year. During the summer of 2007, No More Deaths encountered 388 migrants along the Arizona – Mexico border, including twenty seven women, fourteen children, and one pregnant seventeen-year-old. Many required serious medical attention. No More Deaths has been working to provide humanitarian aid to people along the border since 2004, including the Brown Canyon area where Millis was cited.

“The Samaritans and No More Deaths have been working in Brown Canyon for several years. We've never had a problem like this before,” says Millis.

No More Deaths is concerned that vandalism and confiscation of life-saving water and other humanitarian aid supplies is an egregious offense that is becoming too common in the Arizona desert. U.S. government policies of walling people into the remotest deserts, continuing human rights abuses, and impeding attempts at direct relief are unjust and need to be stopped.

Southside Presbyterian Church Pastor Emeritus and No More Deaths co-founder John Fife states, “Regardless of the outcome of this trial, we're going to continue our humanitarian aid work whenever and wherever it is needed, until there are no more deaths in the desert.”
I haven't seen any news on how the trial is proceeding or its outcome. Far too many people die each year along La Frontera, as my friend Manny has been reminding his readers for quite a while. The indifference toward human life is beyond shocking, I'm afraid.

Vincent Bugliosi at the House Judiciary Committee



h/t After Downing Street. Bugliosi's claim to fame was the successful prosecution of Charles Manson and other members of Manson's "family" for the Tate-LaBianca murders, and for his book documenting their crimes, Helter Skelter. His most recent book, and his reason for appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, is The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, in which he provides an extensive documentation of Bu$hCo's criminal activity.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The latest on Cindy Sheehan

Word on the street is that her campaign now has enough signatures to put her on the ballot against Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Just as a reminder of how vile Pelosi is and why Sheehan's campaign is actually one of those rare ones that is worthwhile, here's something I wrote from last month:
Let's face it: Nancy Pelosi - along with the vast majority of her party's leadership - has been on the wrong side of history. She became installed as House Speaker in the aftermath of a midterm election in which her party ran at least in part on ending the Iraq War. War funding has continued unabated during her tenure, with no substantial opposition to speak of. Her hostility towards antiwar activists and antiwar groups is well-known by this time. There's good reason to believe that Pelosi has never been an anti-war politician (no matter how much movement conservatives or for that matter establishment "progressives" might claim the contrary), having been a staunch supporter of the Clinton regime's "humanitarian" military interventions in the Balkans as well as the various US bombing raids against the Iraqis in 1993, 1996, and 1998.

Pelosi was on board with the sham economic "stimulus" package that in fact did absolutely nothing. Of course her refusal to oppose the awful FISA bill recently, which gave the Crawford Caligula and his cronies everything they wanted, was merely the latest in a string of actions which place her on the wrong side of history.

Pelosi's refusal to impeach Bush and Cheney, who have committed plenty of impeachable offenses during the tenure of their sorry regime, is arguably her most unforgivable action (or perhaps more appropriately, inaction). Sheehan has done more to get the issue of impeachment into the public eye than Pelosi. She's run on a genuine antiwar platform - y'all remember the war right? Or is that now no longer PC to discuss now that the Dems are inheriting the Iraq War and other fronts on the so-called War on Terra?
For some added ammunition, here's something that Pelosi said around the time the colonization of Iraq began:
"I support the President. . . . We are one team in one fight, and we stand together."
That quote is from Michael Parenti's book, Superpatriotism, and is attributed to a Norman Solomon column in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, "Pelosi's Bridge Too Far" (Jan. 14, 2004). Tells me what I need to know about Pelosi's loyalties.

I don't harbor any illusions of Sheehan winning the election this November, but a lot can happen between now and then.

Speaking of Nativism

You gotta check out the crap spewing out of some little Eichmann named Jon Justice. The video links I get from The Unapologetic Mexican, who says this:
HOW DO YOU PROPERLY RECOGNIZE a woman like Isabel Garcia? A woman who works tirelessly as a public defender and activist for those without voice, a woman whose efforts have helped make Coalición de Derechos Humanos an effective reality, a woman who is so effective in what she does that the Mexican government has awarded her the 2006 Premio Naciónal de Derechos Humanos, never before given to a US Citizen? How do you celebrate such a bright light?

You create an effigy of her and act out a rape fantasy, right? No???

Well. You do if you are a sleaze called “Jon Justice” of Arizona’s 104.1 FM, a station perversely named “the Truth.”
First, we present the initial video:



Next, the subsequent video in which Jon "Justice" supposedly explains himself:



So there you have it. There's plenty of commentary to go around over at American Humanity, Latino Politico, and elsewhere. What I'd like to do is go back a few months and repeat some words from last December on the mainstreaming of nativist hatred:

Courtesy of Migra Matters:

First, here are some statements by neo-Nazi and white supremacist hate groups on immigration:
"America's culture, customs and language are under assault from foreigners who come to live here and, instead of learning the American way of life, choose to impose their own alien cultures, languages, and institutions upon us... . [E]thnic cleansing ... may seem a harsh term to apply here in America, but it accurately describes the expulsion of Americans from their communities by illegal aliens."
AMERICAN IMMIGRATION CONTROL FOUNDATION

"[S]ince that time [about 1950], Western culture faces a growing and potentially fatal crisis: the widespread folly of believing that Hmong and Haitians can carry that culture forward as meaningfully as Europeans."
AMERICAN RENAISSANCE

"These men [ranchers who capture illegal border-crossers at gunpoint] are the true heroes of our troubled times! Every illegal alien they halt is one less that will go on our welfare rolls, overcrowd our schools, bring in more drugs to poison our kids, or rob, rape and murder another innocent American citizen."
CALIFORNIA COALITION FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

"[T]he meaning of this massive increase in non-white and non-Western populations groups within U.S. borders is that the United States is not only ceasing to be a majority white nation but also is ceasing to be a nation that is culturally part of Western civilization."
COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS

"America becomes darker — racially darker — every year, and that is the direct result of our government's immigration policy. ... We White people, we descendants of the European immigrants who built America, will be a minority in our own country. ... [M]alicious aliens [European Jews] came into our land and ... spread spiritual poison among our people, so that our spirits became corrupted and our minds became confused."
NATIONAL ALLIANCE

"Unless stopped now, massive illegal immigration from the Third World will surely make America more like the Third World than the nation of our forefathers. ... Forced integration and unrestrained immigration destroy schools, neighborhoods, cities and ultimately nations."
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WHITE PEOPLE

"[T]he very underpinnings of America are being gnawed away by hordes of aliens who are transforming America into a land where we, the descendants of the men and women who founded America, will walk as strangers... . Unless we act now ... we will be helpless to halt the accelerating dispossession of our folk."
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR EUROPEAN AMERICAN RIGHTS

"America is not just a geographical entity. It is a nation with certain values. I'd go beyond the proposal of a zero immigration moratorium and say we should begin deportation. Deportation now!"
THE SOCIAL CONTRACT PRESS

"The Mexican culture is based on deceit. Chicanos and Mexicanos lie as a means of survival. Fabricating false IDs is just another extension of that culture ... [which] condones everything from the most lowly misdemeanor to murder in the highest levels of government."
VOICES OF CITIZENS TOGETHER

"[Even] beyond immigration, legal or illegal, the very numbers of non-Whites already here, and their high birth rate, are enough to plunge North America into a banana republic status within two decades or less. ... [After America is split up into racial mini-states, if] an area like Florida wanted to accept the dregs of the Caribbean, let them, with the understanding that the second this mud flood oozed into the sovereign state of Georgia, it would be 'lock and load' time."
WHITE ARYAN RESISTANCE

compliled spring, 2001 by SPLC
Now, let's take a segment from a recent conversation between Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan (also courtesy of Migra Matters):
DOBBS: And congratulations on the new book, a best seller doing great.

Let me turn to the very first thing. The first chapter, declaring that the American century is over. I would like to share this with our viewers. "America is indeed coming apart, decomposing, and that the likelihood of our survival as one nation through mid century is improbable and impossible if America continues on her current course. For we are on a path to national suicide." My God, I don't think you could be more pessimistic.

BUCHANAN: Well that is where we are headed, Lou. As I write in the last chapter, we can still have a second American century. But look what is happening. You've got 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in the country, 38 million immigrants. The melting pot that turned our grandfathers and great grandfathers into Americans is cracked, broken and rejected as an instrument of cultural genocide. You have that going on in the country at the same time that the dollar is going down, the manufacturing base is being exported, you're overextended abroad with a smaller army than we had in 1939. All of these things are hitting at once and I don't get the awareness of the gravity of the crises comes at us.



DOBBS: We're back with Pat Buchanan, author of the important new book, which I highly recommend, "Day of Reckoning." Let's deal with an issue on the minds of Americans. That is the issue of illegal immigration. What has to be done?

BUCHANAN: Well first thing, you've got to secure the border. If we don't do it, it won't exist anymore in ten years. You've got to crack down on businesses that hire illegals. You've got to cut off the magnets by ending social welfare benefits as they voted to do Arizona. You've got to end this absurd practice that if someone comes to the United States and has a baby the next day it is automatically a citizen for life and entitled to a whole lifetime of benefits. I think you need a time-out on legal immigration of about 250,000 a year. This is the sea into which illegals move. We need another time out to get the melting pot up and running again.

DOBBS: What about the 12 to 20 million illegals in this country?

BUCHANAN: Start the deportations with gang members, felons, scofflaws and you start with felons and people who are drunk drivers and others. Then you start the process by cracking down on business, removing the magnets, they'll go home. What draws them here is free education, welfare, good jobs, good paying jobs much better than in Mexico. Basically business and the welfare, the social safety net draws them here.
CNN
Note the eerie similarity between what Dobbs and Buchanan are saying and the words by the hate groups quoted at the top of this post. Most folks would likely not want any association whatsoever with the hate groups in question, yet many consider Dobbs and Buchanan to have a certain mainstream respectability. Heck, Dobbs comes into many living rooms each weeknight thanks to his CNN gig, and Buchanan is often included on the Sunday morning talkshow circuit. In all likelihood, we won't find either of these two individuals show up for the next Klan rally, and yet it is quite clear that both men are delving into some rather Klan-like arguments. Dobbs and Buchanan are what David Neiwert has characterized as "transmitters":
... ostensibly mainstream conservatives who seem to cull ideas that often have their origins on the far right, strip them of any obviously pernicious content, and present them as "conservative" arguments. These transmitters work across a variety of fields. In religion, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are the best-known examples, though many others belong in the same category. In politics, the classic example is Patrick Buchanan, while his counterpart in the field of conservative activism is Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation.

In the media, Rush Limbaugh is the most prominent instance, and Michael Savage is a close second, but there are others who have joined the parade noticeably in the past few years: Andrew Sullivan, for instance, and of course Ann Coulter. On the Internet, the largest single transmitter of right-wing extremism is FreeRepublic.com, whose followers -- known as "Freepers" -- have engaged in some of the more outrageous acts of thuggery against their liberal targets.

And finally, there’s Fox News, which bills itself as "fair and balanced," but which in fact is a virtual data center for transmitting extremist material into the mainstream. One of the most egregious examples of this was Fox’s broadcasts, on several occasions in 2000-2001, of an anti-tax protester named Bob Schulz. Schulz operated a snake-oil outfit called We The People Congress which operated on the old Posse Comitatus theory that the 16th Amendment -- the one approving the income tax -- was never properly approved. The same theory was also the main serving of a number of Patriot outfits.
Neiwert goes on to describe how transmitters work here ,here, and here. The reason for delving into this is that nativism, as a form of eliminationism is back with a vengeance. Although folks like Neiwert and Lenin's Tomb will correctly note that the activist element among nativists (all one need do is look at the usual suspects: KKK, The Minutemen, Stormfront, etc.) is a relatively small proportion of the American public, they have managed to successfully transmit their particular form of hatred through various talking heads in the mass media and public officials. Eliminationist rhetoric thus becomes mainstream. If Rush Limbaugh or Ron Paul take a hardline stance on unauthorized workers, for example, perception is it must be at least within the recognized bounds of the US mainstream. Heck, just look at how the US GOP and Dem presidential candidates have been addressing the immigration issue in debates and public statements. I'd like to believe (to the extent that I still find some redeeming qualities among my fellow human beings) that if most folks realized where hardline views regarding immigration originated, they'd recoil in horror. The problem is that most folks have no idea of what the sources are, hence, nativism ends up having something of a sleeper effect - in this case ideas from a fairly small minority of racists are currently able to exact a disproportionate influence on US political discourse due to a failure by many to connect the dots. Unfortunately, a sound-bite addled corporate media does not allow much opportunity to make the necessary connections.

More on the origins of nativism here.
Add "Justice" to the list of Lou Dobbs wannabes. Not only is there a sleeper effect, but there is a tendency to turn words into actions. It's happened recently. Violence (whether it be on a small scale such as hate crimes, or large scale such as genocide) against our fellow human beings becomes much easier under circumstances in which the targets have been dehumanized as a group. That dehumanization is part of the background chatter that many in the US are exposed to on a daily basis. Where dehumanization is present, the capacity for empathy is usually absent, and without empathy, it becomes easy to excuse or to participate in ugly behaviors that would otherwise be unthinkable. It is that dehumanization that requires resistance, for people of conscience to push back against.

As an aside, I'm gathering that "Justice" is a bit unhinged, if his past radio shenanigans are any indication.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You reap what you sow

Thanks to my man Arcturus in a comment earlier today on a related post, I wish to pass this story on to y'all about a young man who was beaten to death by half a dozen goons. His crime? Being of Mexican descent. All those years of eliminationist rhetoric have produced their bitter fruit. I've been on this for about as long as I've been blogging, and really if one were to go back long enough, on to this since my teens. The words we say can and do translate into action.

Eliminationism seems to be an almost exclusively right-wing endeavor. The nativist variety has been given quite an airing to the point to where its extremism has become part of the mainstream. It is nothing more or less than raw white supremacism. Always has been; always will be. The perps in this incident, I'd be willing to wager, were fed a diet of lies about how the US is being "invaded" by "illegals" who pose an alleged threat to their futures of happy motoring and consumerism. Nothing can be further from the truth once one actually bothers to look at the data. But nativist hatred is very much faith-based and resistant to reason. The Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanans of the world will not be confused by facts (and don't even get me started with regard to their kindred spirits among the Stormfront crowd).

Naturally in this particular sorry incident, in spite of the fact that there are witnesses stating the perps were shouting racist slurs as they beat Luis Ramirez to death, there are those among the community's elites who simply cannot acknowledge that these kids were racist. Juxtapose this excerpt from an interview with a witness, Arielle Garcia:
He was at our house all day that afternoon. And it was around maybe 11:00, he asked us to take him uptown to drop him off, whatever, he was going to go home. So, we leave him at the Vine Street Park, and we drive away, Victor and I, and about two minutes later he called us and told us to come back, that people were beating him up. So we get back as fast as we could. And when we get there, he was—like the fight was over, like the boys were walking away, but they were still screaming like racial slurs, like “Go back to Mexico!”
with this excerpt:
But [Mayor Thomas O'Niell] said late last week that he would be stunned if the investigation reveals a racially motivated beating.

"I just can't believe that's the case," he said then.

[snip]

Borough Manager Joseph Palubinsky acknowledged that some in town resent Latino immigrants for crowding families into borough homes or taking jobs.

But he said that feeling is not unique to Shenandoah and that it is not shared by most people in town.

"I don't believe there are racial problems in the borough," he said. "Wouldn't they (Latinos) be leaving if that were the case?"

Palubinsky said he knows the families of the young people involved in the event and that none is a bigot.

"These people don't harbor any feelings like that," he said.
In other words, "nothing to see here; move along." The police response, by the way, was underwhelming, as Arcturus was mentioning to me:

AMY GOODMAN: And what did the police say? Did the police show up that night?

ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah, they showed up. First, the ambulance did, and they took our friend to the hospital. And about five minutes later, the police came, and I guess they were looking—I mean, we kept telling them where the kids ran, but they didn’t—they didn’t run towards there. I mean, they kind of stayed where it all happened. And I told them the names and everything.

AMY GOODMAN: And, well, this was more than a week ago. Have they been investigating since?

ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah. And like, still nothing.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did they say—when you showed them the direction that the kids had run, why did they not go after them at the time?

ARIELLE GARCIA: I don’t know. They told me that it wasn’t their priority right now.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “their priority”?

ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Where was your friend at this point? Where was Luis Ramirez?

ARIELLE GARCIA: He was gone. He was in the—on his way to be [inaudible].

AMY GOODMAN: What was their priority? Did they say that to you?

ARIELLE GARCIA: No. They were pretty rude, some of them. Not all of them, but most of them were pretty rude to me.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean they were rude?

ARIELLE GARCIA: Like, I told them where the kids ran, and they wouldn’t go after them, and they told me that “Somebody said there was someone with a gun here, and we have to search your car.” And they searched Victor, like they put his hand behind his back, and like they put him against—

AMY GOODMAN: Victor is your husband?

ARIELLE GARCIA: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: The boys ran off. Was it all boys?

ARIELLE GARCIA: Yeah.
So much for "protect and serve" eh? I'd like to end with some words I found via The Sanctuary:

This story is important because this family’s tragedy—and the lesser tragedies of the boys who were so motivated by fear and hatred of the “other” that they beat another human being to death—represents the experience of millions of migrants living in this country in today’s poisonous environment.

An environment that has been cultivated over the years by an organized political movement. An environment that results in impunity for killers like Joe Horn—provided the victims are from the underclass still labeled “illegal” as a matter of editorial policy by our so-called liberal media. A climate that permits pregnant mothers to be shackled, forced to give birth in police custody, and then torn from their newborn infants—again all for being present in the U.S. without authorization and, perhaps more importantly, for being Latina.

The racial motivations of the perpetrators/oppressors in each of these scenarios cannot reasonably be disentangled from the immigration status of the victims. The punitive immigration laws that target people like Ramirez and DeLaPaz were enacted largely from racial motives—from fear of the waves of brown political and economic refugees produced by longstanding, short-sighted U.S. intervention in Mexico and Central America. And those same fears—fear of displacement and of unfamiliar cultures—have been fanned for political gain into flames of hatred from the embers of the World Trade Center by the restrictionist movement and the federal government.

As the local Shenandoah paper noted in a recent editorial:

[T]his tragic incident is not so much about who is responsible for America’s failed immigration policy as it is about the right of human beings to — live.

If only this message could be communicated to the rest of the country. The emerging Sanctuarysphere is willing to try.

I love the social sciences

You just never know what might be discovered next:
Late in the afternoon last May 17, a tired archaeological team neared the end of a 14-hour day winching muck to the deck of a Canadian Coast Guard vessel. It was in water 170 feet deep in Juan Perez Sound, half a mile offshore among British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands. For four days, team members had fruitlessly sieved undersea mud and gravel. Then, in the slanting light of sunset, a deckhand drew from the goop a triangular blade of dark basalt. Its sharp edge and flaked surface said this was no ordinary rock. Someone long ago sculpted it into a knife or other cutting tool.

When Daryl Fedje, an archaeologist for Canada's national parks system, saw the 4-inch artifact, his jaw dropped in amazement: "I immediately recognized it as made by humans." For years Fedje has led efforts to find prehistoric evidence of human occupation in the misty, fiord-laced archipelago. This stone meant that people lived at a spot directly under the ship well before the end of the Ice Age, at a time when the sea level was far lower than today.

The bit of basalt is just one stone. But from Alaska to near the tip of South America, bits of just such intriguing evidence are emerging that suggest the standard textbook story--that humans first settled the Americas by pouring down from Alaska about 12,000 years ago--is wrong, perhaps very wrong. People may have gotten here thousands to tens of thousands of years sooner, over a longer period of time, by a wider variety of routes, and with a more diverse ancestry. If this proves true, it will force a rethinking of the whole concept of America: a land whose human history may be three times longer than imagined, and one where Columbus would have been just one of the last of many waves of "discoverers."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Steve Soto, you're way too generous

I wouldn't give any of them my vote. That Obama seems uninterested in going after the criminals currently residing in the White House if he becomes President is unsurprising, but not only would his campaign not deserve my money, it does not deserve my vote. Maybe Jim Kunstler is right: it would take an economic collapse of gargantuan proportions between now and November to actually get any of these buffoons to prosecute Bu$hCo for anything.

Hat tip to Avedon Carol for the first link.

Shorter Italian Sunbathers

Who cares? The kids were only üntermenschen.

Just to add a bit of my own commentary, although the focus of that article is on the general mentality of the Italian populace toward the Roma, it could just as easily apply to our society and its oppressed minorities.

Eichmann in Manhattan, Part One: Introduction and Some Definitions

This is just some thinking aloud for something that I'm trying to organize over the next few weeks. If all goes well, I'll have a decent enough draft worked up shortly.

First, Eichmann in Manhattan is the working title for reasons that I hope will be apparent as we proceed. In the chapter, I plan to go into the genocidal nature of neoliberal policies, focusing on the organizational and structural violence perpetrated from major financial centers such as Manhattan, enforced by politicians in places such as DC, and organizations such as World Bank and IMF.

The title also has some symbolic relevance. Hannah Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, characterized one of the more notorious perpetrators of the Nazi Holocaust as a strikingly ordinary bureaucrat who seemed more prone to conformity and non-reflective thought than some sort of psychopathology. The title also riffs on Ward Churchill's characterization of many of the people working in the World Trade Center (and Pentagon) as "Little Eichmanns" - initially in the form of a brief polemic essay, and later expanded in his book On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Consequences of American Conquest and Carnage. I have written on why I find the characterization of "little Eichmanns" perfectly understandable elsewhere. To the extent that many working for the corporations housed in the WTC were unreflective careerists who had given nary a thought to the impact that they and their employers were having on those affected by their decisions, I find the term to be dead-on accurate. I would say the same for the technocrats working for the IMF, to the extent that many unreflectively pursue actions that lead to starvation, disease, displacement, and social death for many in the Global South, as well as to those working for the US government and those in the academic and punditry classes who give them intellectual cover.

Now, what I hope to provide in short order is a portrayal of neoliberalism, in both its corporate and governmental guises as genocidal - even in those cases in which not a bomb is dropped. As in the past, I rely heavily on Raphael Lemkin's definition of genocide:
The origins of the term genocide come from the Greek root genos (meaning "type" - think along the lines of tribe or race) and the Latin word cide (meaning "killing"; Lemkin, 1944; see also Churchill, 1997). Lemkin describes genocide as having “has two phases: destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain, or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and colonization of the area by the oppressor's own nationals." Lemkin states further that, “genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves (even if all individuals within the dissolved group physically survive). The objectives of such a plan would be a disintegration of political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed at the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed at individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group" (p. 79). Genocide could thus be seen to include a wide array of actions that contribute to the annihilation of a target group, including destruction of the target group’s crops (e.g., via fire or chemical agents), destruction of the target group’s infrastructure, the mass murder of women of child-bearing age and children, forced sterilization of members of the group, indoctrination into the dominant group’s cultural practices at the expense of the target group’s own traditions, forbidding the target group from engaging in its traditional religious and cultural practices, etc. (Churchill, 1997, 2003, 2004; Sartre, 1974).
Although what usually gets labeled genocides are those incidents in which one group engages in the mass slaughter of another group or groups (e.g., the Nazi Holocaust of Jews, Roma, Slavs, homosexuals, socialists, etc,; the American Holocaust perpetrated against First Nations peoples by Spanish, British, Portuguese, and French settlers, as well as by the US government; Rwanda in 1994), there are other facets of genocides that are far more insidious. My focus will be less on the interpersonal violence inherent in genocide (although I certainly will not dismiss its importance), but rather on organizational and structural violence. As I wrote a few weeks ago:
Interpersonal violence is perhaps the form that we are most aware of, since involves identifiable individuals who injure their victims. Certainly, any imposition of neoliberal economics will require a certain amount of interpersonal violence insofar as someone has to do the dirty work of torture or "disappearing" dissidents, the displaced, the indigenous. That of course is the terrorism that is not called by its proper name since it is done in the service of the corporate and ruling elites. Also included is the violence between members of oppressed groups, often divided based on artificial classifications, who perceive one another as "threats" (e.g., border vigilantes who perceive displaced migrant people as "taking away their jobs").

Organizational violence involves explicit decisions made by individuals as part of their formal roles in organizations, such as the military, police, CIA, or a corporate bureaucracy. Although the decision-makers involved in organizational violence might have no direct interpersonal role in the harm caused to their victims, and in fact may even be abhorred by the actual process of violent actions such as torture and murder (e.g., Arendt, 1963), they are nonetheless committing a form of violence.

Structural violence refers to physical harm (including death) suffered by a particular group of people who do not have access to the same services and benefits as the rest of society. Those who are displaced would be considered victims of structural violence - in this case due to the collapse of their baseline socio-economic situation as a result of the whatever changes have been imposed upon them in the form of invasions or "free trade" agreements. Structural violence is often the most deadly and insidious forms of violence. To take a few words from the book, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression by Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan (1985):
Structural violence is a feature of social structures. This form of violence is inherent in the established modes of social relations, distribution of goods and services, and legal practices of dispensing justice. Structural violence involves more than the violation of fairness and justice. [p. 136]

Structural violence is the most lethal form of violence because it is the least discernible; it causes premature deaths in the largest number of persons; and it presents itself as the natural order of things. A situation of oppression rests primarily on structural violence which in turn fosters institutional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal violence. Structural violence pervades the prevailing values, the environment, social relations, and individual psyches. The most visible indicators of structural violence are differential rates of mortality, morbidity, and incarceration among groups in the same society. In particular, a situation of oppression increases the infant mortality rate and lowers the life expectancy for the oppressed. [p. 155]
The displaced are systematically deprived of the basics for survival, resulting in poverty, malnutrition, premature death. That's what structural violence is. The physical harm suffered in this case usually falls underneath the mass-media radar because it is less salient, less spectacular than deaths due to IEDs or aerial bombing raids, less shockingly noticeable than the mass killings by death squads. The structural violence in this case (as is true of various colonial genocides of the past) will also fall underneath the radar because it is built into the very fabric of the oppressors' worldview. Starvation and malnutrition for example are simply written off as "those savages cannot take care of themselves." The more liberal of the oppressors might even acknowledge such phenomena as partially their responsibility, but cheerfully contend that in the end "it was worth it" as Madeleine Albright said of the half million Iraqi children under five who had died as a result of economic sanctions during the 1990s. The deaths caused from the stress of being displaced, and without access to fundamental human needs for survival are no less real, even if they don't make their way to the front page of New Pravda.
I also made some mention of one of the tragic outcomes of all of the above forms of violence:
Intrapersonal violence should also bear mention. Here we'd include self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicide. Usually such behaviors are merely written off as "moral weakness" or as the result of some sort of "mental illness" which couldn't possibly have anything to do with the extreme stress that comes with being displaced or being threatened with displacement. And yet such hyperindividualistic explanations would fail to account for the massive increase in suicides among displaced subsistence farmers in India during the present decade or among factory unemployed factory workers during the Yeltsin regime in Russia in the 1990s.
So the violence is multifaceted as well as the various sources from which these forms of violence spring. My perspective draws on a number of sources, including some theories in the social sciences dealing with aggression and violence, as well as the writings of Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt, and Naomi Klein.

More to come...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Adam Kokesh on John Conyers

The impression I get is that it's time for Conyers to retire. Kokesh sez:
I got the impression that Conyers is going senile. If he really thinks as slow as he talks, we're in a lot of trouble.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? Kokesh has something else to say that seems to hit the nail on the head:
Of course, the ultimate reason that our government is corrupt is because our culture is corrupt. If we held our representatives in Congress accountable, they might be inclined to hold the President accountable. But then, if we were paying attention, and doing our duty as citizens, we wouldn't have Bush for a president in the first place.
So it goes. I've certainly lost a great deal of respect for Conyers over the last couple years. He knew how to talk tough back when there was no chance in Hell that he'd see any action, but once the moment of truth arrived, he choked.

Bonus: A capsule summary that as far as I'm concerned can be filed under "reasons why Nancy Pelosi should be impeached."

Turns out the "good ol' days" of COINTELPRO are back

For a nation that fetishizes all things retro, including the darkest chapters of its existence, I can't say I'm especially surprised. Here's what Dave Zirin sez:
Finally, at long last, I have something in common with Muhammad Ali.

No, I'm not the heavyweight champion of the world, and haven't been named spokesperson for Raid bug spray. Like "the Greatest" - not to mention far too many others -- I have been a target of state police surveillance for activities -- in my case against the death penalty -- that were legal, non-violent, and, so we assumed, constitutionally protected. In classified reports compiled by the Maryland State Police and the Department of Homeland Security, I am "Dave Z." This nickname was given by an undercover agent known to us as "Lucy." She sat in our meetings of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, smiling and engaged, taking copious notes about actions deemed threatening by the Governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich. Our seditious crimes, as Lucy reported, involved such acts as planning to set up a table at the local farmer's market and writing up a petition. Adding a dash of farce to this outrage, she was monitoring us in the liberal enclave of Takoma Park, Maryland, a place known more for vegans than violence, more for tie-dying than terrorism.

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act and the ACLU, we now know that "Lucy" was only one part of a vast, insidious project. The Maryland State Police's Department of Homeland Security devoted near 300 hours and thousands of taxpayer dollars from 2005 and 2006 to harassing people whose only crime was dissenting on the question of the war in Iraq and Maryland's use of death row.

My dear friend Mike Stark, a board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty is at times referred to in "Lucy's" report as a "socialist" and an "anarchist." One can only assume this is the pathetic time honored tradition of reducing people to simple caricatures, all the better to garner Homeland Security grant money.

Veteran peace activist in Baltimore, Max Obuszewski, who initiated the suit, was as well consistently shadowed as he walked down the streets. His "primary crime" (their lingo) was entered into the homeland security database as "terrorism - anti govern(ment)." His "secondary crime" was listed as "terrorism -- anti-war protesters." The database is known as the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA. Yes, a respected peace organizer of many decades standing is checked as a terrorist, his actions listed as criminal, for doing nothing more than exercising his rights. It boggles the mind.

Former police superintendent Tim Hutchins defended these totalitarian practices by saying, "You do what you think is best to protect the general populace of the state." (The article mentioned that Hutchins is now a federal defense contractor. I guess The Global War on Terror is just the gift that keeps on giving for the Hutchins family.)

But "protect the general populace" from what? The surveillance continued even after it was determined that we were planning nothing more dangerous that carrying clipboards in a public place. Hutchins and the Ehrlich administration have undertaken an ugly violation of our civil rights, manipulating fears of terrorism to stamp out dissent.

This is COINTELPRO pure and simple. Like the infamous counter-intelligence program whose heyday many assume was a relic the 1950s and 1960s, it's an effort to harass the innocent and breed paranoia, all for daring to question power.

Governor Ehrlich and Tim Hutchins stand in the legacy of those who hounded Martin Luther King, and facilitated the death of Malcolm X. They stand in the tradition of those who drove the great actor, college football superstar, and activist Paul Robeson toward The mental breakdown that claimed his life. When Robeson's files were opened under the Freedom of Information Act, the results were terrifying.

As his son, Paul Robeson Jr. has written, "From the files I received, it was obvious that there were agents who did nothing but follow every public event of my father, or even of me.... It took on a life of its own.... Over time, even for someone as powerful and with as many resources as my dad had...the attrition got to him."

Now Robeson is on a postage stamp. The moral midgets who destroyed him went unpunished. That's what has to change. The ACLU, to their credit, is going on the offensive. As ACLU lawyer David Rocah said at a news conference in Baltimore on Thursday, "To invest this many hours investigating the most all-American of activities without any scintilla of evidence there is anything criminal going on is shocking. It's Kafkaesque."

Unfortunately for people like Gov. Ehrlich, it is also "the most All American of activities" to take the constitution and use it as their personal hand wipe.

As the great political philosopher Ice T wrote, "Freedom of Speech.... just watch what you say." Well, now is exactly the time not to watch what we say. I'm angry. I'm angry for my friends, who trusted "Lucy" and others. I'm angry that my tax dollars went to paying the salaries of people who spy and intimidate those exercising their rights. I'm angry that Barack Obama just voted to increase the power of the Federal government to disrupt people's lives. And I'm angry enough that I'm joining a lawsuit initiated by the ACLU. "Homeland Security" picked on the wrong sports writer. They also picked on the wrong group of activists. We will not be silenced.

[People who want to express their outrage can contact the office of the current Governor Martin O'Malley. We should demand a full investigation of the MSP, public release of all documents obtained through this illegal activity, and a specific commitment that the anti-death penalty and anti-war movement will not be targeted. Call the office of the governor at 1-800-811-8336, or submit a comment online at http://www.governor.maryland.gov/mail/]
H/t Green Left Infoasis.

Monday, July 21, 2008

They're just now figuring this out?

Apparently the British government has just now discovered that the U.S. government is not trustworthy. Well, no shit, Sherlock! There's only been tons of data to that effect for ages.

Of course I'm growing wearier by the minute of calls to elect more and "better" Democrats, whatever that's supposed to mean. In light of the sorry record of the current Congressional session, I'd offer that claims of having made "a beginning" strike me as hollow.

H/t to The Sideshow.

My cat ate the blue bird of happiness

I got to clean up the mess on the front porch. At least he didn't bring this one inside!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Nancy Pelosi gets caught red-handed.

Tortured to death by a Taser

Yet another in a continuing series of Taser deaths:
WINNFIELD, La. — At 1:28 p.m. last Jan. 17, Baron "Scooter" Pikes was a healthy 21-year-old man. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead.

What happened in the 39 minutes in between — during which Pikes was handcuffed by local police and shocked nine times with a Taser, while reportedly pleading for mercy —is now spawning fears of a political coverup in this backwoods Louisiana lumber town infamous for backroom dealings.

Even more ominously, because Pikes was black and the officer who repeatedly Tasered him is white, racial tensions over the case are mounting in a place that's just 40 miles from Jena, La.---site of the racially explosive prosecution of six black teenagers charged with beating a white youth that last year triggered one of the largest American civil rights demonstrations in decades. And in a bizarre coincidence, Pikes turns out to have been a first cousin of Mychal Bell, the lead defendant in the Jena 6 case.

[snip]

All of that tangled history is now wrapped up in the Pikes case, because Scott Nugent, the officer who Tasered him, is the well-connected son of the former police chief who killed himself—and the protege of the current chief, who hired him onto the force.

[snip]

The official police version of what happened to Pikes on that brisk January afternoon reads like a sad but familiar story in Winnfield's local newspaper.

Nugent spotted Pikes walking along the street and attempted to arrest him on an outstanding warrant for drug possession, according to Police Chief Johnny Ray Carpenter. Pikes took off running, but another officer cornered him outside a nearby grocery store. Pikes resisted arrest and Nugent subdued him with a shock from a Taser.

Then on the way to the police station, Carpenter told the newspaper, Pikes fell ill and told the officers he suffered from asthma and was high on crack cocaine and PCP. The officers called for an ambulance, but Pikes later died at the hospital.

Six months later, the Winnfield police are standing by that story. Meanwhile, the Louisiana State Police are investigating the case, and no charges have been filed against Nugent or two other Winnfield police officers who assisted him in arresting Pikes, although the City Council did decide to fire Nugent from the force in May.

Winn Parish District Atty. Chris Nevils says he expects to present the case to a grand jury after he receives the results of the state police investigation.

[snip]

But there is already abundant evidence contradicting the official police version of the incident.

An autopsy determined there were no drugs in Pikes' system and that he did not have asthma, according to Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner.

Moreover, Pikes did not resist arrest, and he was handcuffed while lying on the ground, according to Nugent's police report of the incident. It was only after Pikes refused Nugent's command to stand up that the officer applied the first Taser shock in the middle of his back, Nugent wrote.

Several more Taser shocks followed quickly, Nugent stated, because Pikes kept falling down and refusing to get back up. Grocery shoppers who witnessed the incident later told Pikes' family that he had pleaded with Nugent: "Please, you all got me. Please don't Tase me again."

Williams said police records showed Nugent administered nine Taser shocks to Pikes over a 14-minute period. The last two jolts, delivered as police pulled Pikes from a patrol car at the police station, elicited no reaction because the suspect was unconscious, Williams said.

After consulting about the case with Dr. Michael Baden, a nationally prominent forensic pathologist, Williams ruled last month that Pikes' death was a homicide. On the death certificate, he listed the cause of death as "cardiac arrest following nine 50,000-volt electroshock applications from a conductive electrical weapon."

"God did not just call this young man home," said Williams, who has served as parish coroner for the past 33 years. "If somebody can tell me anything else that killed this otherwise perfectly healthy young man ... I'd like to know it."

[snip]

"This case may be the most unnecessary death I have ever had to investigate," Williams said. "[Pikes] put up no fuss, no fighting, no physical aggression. ... He just didn't respond quickly enough to the officer's commands."

[snip]

In less than two years on Winnfield's 20-officer police force, police records show, Nugent ranked as the department's most aggressive Taser user. Among the recipients were a 15-year-old African-American runaway who was not charged with any crime and Pikes' father, currently serving a prison sentence for a drug offense, who was Tasered by Nugent last year, according to Kayshon Collins.
So basically, Baron Pikes was tortured to death, and Nugent's repeated use of the Taser after Pikes was knocked unconscious by the previous Taser shocks reads like something out of the Milgram experiments.

The US as a failing state

Assuming of course that it isn't already a failed state, the disconnect between the ruling class and the rest of us is vast. Although Greenwald is addressing the views of ordinary Americans regarding their opinions on the Israel-Palestine situation and Iran, the basic premise of his article could be used to analyze any of a number of issues in which public opinion and ruling class demands diverge.

Fighting structural violence

Found this over at Fourth World Eye:
Eloisa Tamez, Lipan Apache grandmother, has been sued by the Department of Homeland Security for refusing permission to build a border wall across her property. A relative of Jumano Apache Esequiel Hernandez (who was murdered in 1997 by U.S. Marines while herding goats), Professor Tamez says she is continuing to do what she has always done — fighting structural violence against indigenous peoples. In 1950, Eloisa Garcia Tamez led a local fight against segregation in public schools.
There's plenty of structural violence to fight with regard to the border wall, which is not only threatening indigenous livelihoods along the border, but also basic cultural practices.

For those needing a quick refresher course on structural violence, here's what appeared here a couple weeks ago:
Structural violence refers to physical harm (including death) suffered by a particular group of people who do not have access to the same services and benefits as the rest of society. Those who are displaced would be considered victims of structural violence - in this case due to the collapse of their baseline socio-economic situation as a result of the whatever changes have been imposed upon them in the form of invasions or "free trade" agreements. Structural violence is often the most deadly and insidious forms of violence. To take a few words from the book, Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression by Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan (1985):
Structural violence is a feature of social structures. This form of violence is inherent in the established modes of social relations, distribution of goods and services, and legal practices of dispensing justice. Structural violence involves more than the violation of fairness and justice. [p. 136]

Structural violence is the most lethal form of violence because it is the least discernible; it causes premature deaths in the largest number of persons; and it presents itself as the natural order of things. A situation of oppression rests primarily on structural violence which in turn fosters institutional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal violence. Structural violence pervades the prevailing values, the environment, social relations, and individual psyches. The most visible indicators of structural violence are differential rates of mortality, morbidity, and incarceration among groups in the same society. In particular, a situation of oppression increases the infant mortality rate and lowers the life expectancy for the oppressed. [p. 155]
The displaced are systematically deprived of the basics for survival, resulting in poverty, malnutrition, premature death. That's what structural violence is. The physical harm suffered in this case usually falls underneath the mass-media radar because it is less salient, less spectacular than deaths due to IEDs or aerial bombing raids, less shockingly noticeable than the mass killings by death squads. The structural violence in this case (as is true of various colonial genocides of the past) will also fall underneath the radar because it is built into the very fabric of the oppressors' worldview. Starvation and malnutrition for example are simply written off as "those savages cannot take care of themselves." The more liberal of the oppressors might even acknowledge such phenomena as partially their responsibility, but cheerfully contend that in the end "it was worth it" as Madeleine Albright said of the half million Iraqi children under five who had died as a result of economic sanctions during the 1990s. The deaths caused from the stress of being displaced, and without access to fundamental human needs for survival are no less real, even if they don't make their way to the front page of New Pravda.
Indeed, the Apartheid Wall being built along the border threatens a number of folks with displacement and social death, which as I've mentioned before are consequences of pursuing a neoliberal framework for economics and politics. If such policies were pursued by some other nation whom our elites disapprove, the term "genocidal" might become "fit to print" in the corporate media. Regrettably, we don't call things by their true names in what comprises polite society when the focus is our own government. Even if the warning signs are there, the tendency is to engage in denialism. That denialism doesn't make the structural violence any less real, and places an even greater burden on people of conscience to continue to speak out as often and as loudly as possible.