The Militarization of America’s Cities by Maj. Danny Sjursen

❝ I can remember both so well.

2006. My first raid in South Baghdad. 2014. Watching on YouTube as a New York police officer asphyxiated — murdered — Eric Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner not five miles from my old apartment. Both events shocked the conscience.

It was 11 years ago next month. My first patrol of the war and we were still learning the ropes from the Army unit we were replacing. Unit swaps are tricky, dangerous times…

❝ Officers from incoming units like mine were forced to learn the terrain, identify the key powerbrokers in our assigned area, and sort out the most effective tactics in the two weeks before the experienced officers departed. It was a stressful time…

Major Sjursen quickly learned to rearrange his response and definitions to war, honesty, actual military and political goals to the realities of the American War on Iraq. Short, worthy read on its own.

❝ Years passed. I came home, stayed in the Army, had a kid, divorced, moved a few more times, remarried, had more kids — my Giants even won two Super Bowls. Suddenly everyone had an iPhone, was on Facebook or tweeting or texting rather than calling.

Somehow in those blurred years, Iraq-style police brutality and violence — especially against poor blacks — gradually became front-page news. One case, one shaky YouTube video followed another. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile and Freddie Gray, just to start a long list.

So many of the clips reminded me of enemy propaganda videos from Baghdad or helmet-cam shots recorded by our troopers in combat, except that they came from New York or Chicago or San Francisco…

The tactics, intent, goals began to more than resemble his life in an occupying army thousands of miles from home. And that’s what the rest of his article is about.

Part of the DOJ report on Ferguson that didn’t make the Network News

protect and serve, my ass

In the city of Ferguson, nearly everyone is a wanted criminal.

That may seem like hyperbole, but it is a literal fact. In Ferguson — a city with a population of 21,000 — 16,000 people have outstanding arrest warrants, meaning that they are currently actively wanted by the police. In other words, if you were to take four people at random, the Ferguson police would consider three of them fugitives.

That statistic should be truly shocking. Yet in the wake of the Department of Justice’s withering report on the city’s policing practices, it has gone almost entirely unmentioned. News reports and analysis have focused on the racism discovered in departmental emails, and the gangsterish financial “shakedown” methods deployed against African Americans. In doing so, they have missed the full picture of Ferguson’s operation, which reveals a totalizing police regime beyond any of Kafka’s ghastliest nightmares…

It turns out that nearly everyone in the city is wanted for something. Even internal police department communications found the number of arrest warrants to be “staggering”. By December of 2014, “over 16,000 people had outstanding arrest warrants that had been issued by the court.” The report makes clear that this refers to individual people, rather than cases – people with many cases are not being counted multiple times…

This complete penetration of policing into everyday life establishes a world of unceasing terror and violence. When everyone is a criminal by default, police are handed an extraordinary amount of discretionary power. “Discretion” may sound like an innocuous or even positive policy, but its effect is to make every single person’s freedom dependent on the mercy of individual officers. There are no more laws, there are only police

And this is precisely what occurs in Ferguson. As others have noted, the Ferguson courts appear to work as an orchestrated racket to extract money from the poor. The thousands upon thousands of warrants that are issued, according to the DOJ, are “not to protect public safety but rather to facilitate fine collection.” Residents are routinely charged with minor administrative infractions. Most of the arrest warrants stem from traffic violations, but nearly every conceivable human behavior is criminalized. An offense can be found anywhere, including citations for “Manner of Walking in Roadway,” “High Grass and Weeds,” and 14 kinds of parking violation. The dystopian absurdity reaches its apotheosis in the deliciously Orwellian transgression “failure to obey.” (Obey what? Simply to obey.) In fact, even if one does obey to the letter, solutions can be found. After Henry Davis was brutally beaten by four Ferguson officers, he found himself charged with “destruction of official property” for bleeding on their uniforms.

I agree with the authors. The odds that Ferguson is the worst example of institutionalized racism in America is unlikely. The town certainly is representative of the process, though. Whether you take a close look at small town America or urban clusters like Los Angeles or Atlanta, Chicago or New York, the same racist opportunism is at play.

That carries forward to the final conclusion in this piece. Eventually, police departments consider all human beings to be nothing more than a resource for funding. We are objectified into an underclass, nothing more than lumpen targets for scorn, to be harvested like sheep. To be slaughtered like sheep.

Time to grow some horns.

Ground Zero — Ferguson

Ferguson Ground Zero
Click photo for the original articleBuzzfeed/Joel Anderson

In the wake of the news that Ferguson, Missouri, police Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing Michael Brown, you’ve probably seen lots of reports of destruction and anger, and far fewer about the despair of black men as they contemplate the message the grand jury’s decision sends about the value of their lives.

Here’s a great corrective. BuzzFeed’s Joel Anderson captured this image, and Twitter user @HeyMyNameIsWill contrasted it with the images of the protests offered by cable TV.

Rest assured white Republican America. If you live in a state where it’s perfectly legal for coppers to shoot an unarmed suspect fleeing the scene of a crime [or suspected of fleeing a crime – or suspected of anything] – you already know you or your kids aren’t likely to be the victims of murder-by-cop. if you’re Black or Brown or some other non-white tint of human being, that’s different. But, you also know that doesn’t matter.

The city of Albuquerque, down the road from here, has a police force that is just coming out from under a Department of Justice investigation, new rules, new oversight – because of the number of civilians killed by coppers. Watching the local news on any day, we call it “watching the local murders”. And like most Americans, we don’t mind a whole lot if it’s one drug gang killing members of another drug gang – or cops killing crooks with a lifetime record of violence and theft.

Albuquerque got in trouble because their cops killed too many white guys, too many veterans.

Ferguson, St. Louis, Middle America ain’t going to change anything if cops stick to killing Black men or Hispanics. The despair in this photo is only a reflection of that fact. And the politicians charged with aiding oversight, peace and prosperity couldn’t care less. Which is a much better reason to throw them out of office than Keynesian fiscal policy or not strictly adhering to orders received directly from your God and your bible.

What if Ferguson was in a province named Missouri in a foreign country?

Chinese and Russian officials are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis in the restive American province of Missouri, where ancient communal tensions have boiled over into full-blown violence.

“We must use all means at our disposal to end the violence and restore calm to the region,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments to an emergency United Nations Security Council session on the America crisis.

The crisis began a week ago in Ferguson, a remote Missouri village that has been a hotbed of sectarian tension. State security forces shot and killed an unarmed man, which regional analysts say has angered the local population by surfacing deep-seated sectarian grievances. Regime security forces cracked down brutally on largely peaceful protests, worsening the crisis…

America has been roiled by political instability and protests in recent years, which analysts warn can create fertile ground for extremists.

Missouri, far-removed from the glistening capital city of Washington, is ostensibly ruled by a charismatic but troubled official named Jay Nixon, who has appeared unable to successfully intervene and has resisted efforts at mediation from central government officials. Complicating matters, President Obama is himself a member of the minority sect protesting in Ferguson, which is ruled overwhelmingly by members of America’s majority “white people” sect.

Analysts who study the opaque American political system, in which all provinces are granted semi-autonomous self-rule, warned that Nixon may seize the opportunity to move against weakened municipal rulers in Ferguson. Missouri’s provincial legislature, a traditional “shura council,” is dominated by the opposition faction. Though fears of a military coup remain low, it is still unknown how Nixon’s allies within the capital will respond should the crisis continue.

“The only lasting solution is reconciliation among American communities and stronger Missouri security forces,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech from his vacation home in Hainan. “However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to America. So we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Americans to confront this crisis.”

That’s the first half of Max Fisher’s satirical posting at VOX, this morning. Click the link to read the rest and enjoy the chuckle.

Reflect upon the mediocrity our tame Fourth Estate has become.

Mirroring press releases from the White House or the Koch Brothers phony public interest groups is not how you revive the independence of the American press.

Ferguson, Missouri, police arresting and attacking media

Olson arrest
Scott Olson from Getty Images taken away by Missouri highway patrolJoe Raedle/Getty

The thug police force in Ferguson, Missouri, continues wage its campaign against the public it is sworn to defend…

Obviously, the most tragic consequence of their savage brutality was the slaying of unarmed teen Mike Brown, but the police in Ferguson have also tried to light the First Amendment on fire, arresting and attacking reporter after reporter in an attempt to intimidate the media from covering their world.

The list of reporters arrested so far, according to the Poynter Institute:

Ryan Devereaux (The Intercept)

Frank Hermann (Die Welt)

Ansgar Graw (Die Welt)

Lukas Hermsmeier (Die Welt)

Scott Olson (Getty Images)

Robert Klemko (Sports Illustrated)

Rob Crilly (The Telegraph)

Neil Munshi (Financial Times)

Ryan J. Reilly (The Huffington Post)

Wesley Lowery (The Washington Post)

And it’s not going to get better…

I started this – my personal blog – to point out the work of a diminishing breed. Good, professional journalists.

The biggest problems most face are cowardly editors and even more chickenshit owners of their publications. Ownership more and more relegated to narrow-minded profiteers who would confine the Free Press into that intellectual jail called entertainment.

OTOH, you know you must be doing your job when you’re threatened by goon squads pretending to be police.

Watching TV — discover your home belongs to a serial killer — WTF?


Gosh – that house looks familiar

A Missouri woman found out that her $810-a-month dream home in Ferguson was actually a nightmare after seeing a documentary about serial killers on the A&E network.

After watching the show, Catrina McGhaw discovered she was living in the home that serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber.

Authorities believe Travis killed between 12 and 20 women and that many of them died in the basement of the home. He hanged himself in jail in 2002.

McGhaw was freaked out by what had happened in the basement and she was even more rattled when she realized the house’s dining room table was the same one seen in crime scene photos.

Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise, because as is turns out, McGhaw’s landlord is the killer’s mother.

“When she showed us the house, she said you can have this table if you want,” McGhaw told KMOV. “This whole basement was his torture chamber and it’s not okay.”

After confronting her landlord about the house’s history, McGhaw will be breaking her lease thanks to some help from the St. Louis Housing Authority.

Eeoough!. Makes for some interesting dreams, eh?

Wrong like it’s their job to be wrong!

oilsoldiers

Things have not been going well of late for the ideologues who also wax economic regarding inflation, interest rates, austerity, etc. They’ve been wrong at every turn. Luskin, Ferguson, Bowyer, Laffer, Kudlow, the WSJ editorialists, and so on…

…I continue to be amazed that folks who can be so devastatingly wrong, for so long, on such a broad array of topics, can continue to hold sway…Interestingly, these same folks were stunningly wrong about a decade ago about when they banged the drum for war against Iraq. Overthrowing Saddam, of course, was a high priority for the neocons, and they needed to drum up broad support to get folks on board. What better lever to pull than to claim that oil prices would drop through the floor once Saddam was out of the picture and Iraqi oil flowed freely?

Here was the conservative line on what would happen to oil prices after we ousted Saddam…

Rand Corp (by recollection): Under a free market [ed. note: The author’s article was all about our liberation of Iraq], oil prices would probably fall to between $8 and $12 per barrel over the next 10 years — down dramatically from today’s price of about $25 per barrel…

Fortune: No one knows for sure which way things will go. But if you have to make a bet, the most likely scenario is that a year from now, with a new regime in Baghdad and long-dormant Iraqi wells finally pumping out crude, oil prices will be back in the mid-20s.

Heritage Foundation: An unencumbered flow of Iraqi oil would be likely to provide a more constant supply of oil to the global market, which would dampen price fluctuations, ensuring stable oil prices in the world market in a price range lower than the current $25 to $30 a barrel.

National Review: “…markets clearly expect lower prices. On the eve of hostilities, oil was selling for about $37 per barrel…But once it became clear that Iraq’s liberation was at hand, the price quickly dropped to about $28 per barrel, cutting our annual oil bill by $70 billion. With full Iraqi production, the price might drop to $20 per barrel or less, giving us the equivalent of an annual tax cut of about $120 billion per year…”

WSJ: Of course, the largest benefit–a more stable Mideast–is huge but unquantifiable. A second plus, lower oil prices, is somewhat more measurable…Postwar, with Iraqi production back in the pipeline and calmer markets, oil prices will fall even further. If they drop to an average in the low $20s, the U.S. economy will get a boost of $55 billion to $60 billion a year.

One more time, rightwing ideologues sent our troops halfway around the world to “bring freedom” – and deliver the profits from Iraq’s oil into the coffers of Wall Street.

They are wrong time after time. Not always as dramatically as in Bush’s invasion of Iraq. No matter. The professional liars in Congress will beat the war drums on command from the generals of finance every time they are called upon. Time for voters to shut them up.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz