Truthout Stories Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:17:08 -0400 en-gb Victory for Purvi Patel, but Still a Loss for Reproductive Rights

When the alternative was a 20 year prison sentence, it almost feels like a victory to have Indiana woman Purvi Patel's likely prison time reduced by half. While it may be a success for Patel, the decision is by no means a victory for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy -- and it definitely does not resemble justice.

Patel, who was accused and convicted of both feticide and felony neglect of a minor after giving birth to what doctors claim was a live fetus and disposing of the body in a dumpster, will now have the feticide conviction thrown out and the neglect charge reduced.

Molly Redden at The Guardian reports:

In a 42-page ruling, by Judge Terry A Crone, the court reduced the child neglect charge by an order of magnitude, and it reproached prosecutors for charging Patel under the state's 2009 feticide law, saying there was no evidence that lawmakers intended the law to punish pregnant women. Indiana passed the measure in 2009 after a pregnant woman was shot and lost the twins she was carrying. 'Given that the legislature decriminalized abortion with respect to pregnant women only two years before it enacted the feticide statute, we conclude that the legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to pregnant women,' the decision declared. 'Therefore, we vacate Patel's feticide conviction.'

Of course, feticide was never, ever intended to be applied to the pregnant woman herself, even if Patel had actually miscarried due to the medication she ingested and not simply miscarried naturally on her own.

But Indiana has a history of applying unreasonable charges to pregnant women in order to jail them for harm they may have caused to their pregnancies. After all, it was only a few years earlier that Bei Bei Shuia spent years in jail for murder. Her baby girl died shortly after being born a few weeks early following Shuai's suicide attempt with rat poison.

Shuai, too, eventually had a reduced sentence. Much like Patel, the important part of charging these women was to set test cases to legally present a fetus as an entity with legal rights.

Both in Shuai's case and now in Patel's, where even the reduced "neglect of a dependent" allows a setup for "personhood" of a fetus still in the womb, the attempts to undermine legal abortion are obvious and intentional.

It's a deliberate move that did not go unnoticed by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a legal group who filed amicus briefs both for Patel and Shuai. Lynn M. Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, via press release stated:

By overturning the feticide conviction and holding that it may not be misused to punish women who have abortions, the court reached a decision that respects the Indiana Legislature's clear intent, is consistent with decisions from sister states, and is in accord with widely held public opinion that women who have or who attempt to have abortions should not be put behind bars.

Meanwhile, NAPW Staff Attorney Lisa Sangoi added, "we are very concerned that any neglect charge was upheld, given the lack of actual evidence of a live birth or that Patel could have, but failed to, obtain medical care immediately following the delivery."

The lesson that can be taken from the court's decision to strike the feticide charge but leave the neglect charge appears to be a simple one: Indiana will continue to pursue ways to punish and jail those who may possibly have induced their own abortion. The state just needs to decide exactly which charge will be the most successful.

News Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Japan's "Helicopter Money" Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?

Fifteen years after embarking on its largely ineffective quantitative easing program, Japan appears poised to try the form recommended by Ben Bernanke in his notorious "helicopter money" speech in 2002. The Japanese test case could finally resolve a longstanding dispute between monetarists and money reformers over the economic effects of government-issued money.

When then-Fed Governor Ben Bernanke gave his famous helicopter money speech to the Japanese in 2002, he was talking about something quite different from the quantitative easing they actually got and other central banks later mimicked. Quoting Milton Friedman, he said the government could reverse a deflation simply by printing money and dropping it from helicopters. A gift of free money with no strings attached, it would find its way into the real economy and trigger the demand needed to power productivity and employment.

What the world got instead was a form of QE in which new money is swapped for assets in the reserve accounts of banks, leaving liquidity trapped on bank balance sheets. Whether manipulating bank reserves can affect the circulating money supply at all is controversial. But if it can, it is only by triggering new borrowing. And today, according to Richard Koo, chief economist at the Nomura Research Institute, individuals and businesses are paying down debt rather than taking out new loans. They are doing this although credit is very "accommodative" (cheap), because they need to rectify their debt-ridden balance sheets in order to stay afloat. Koo calls it a "balance sheet recession."

As the Bank of England recently acknowledged, the vast majority of the money supply is now created by banks when they make loans. Money is created when loans are made, and it is extinguished when they are paid off. When loan repayment exceeds borrowing, the money supply "deflates" or shrinks. New money then needs to be injected to fill the breach. Currently, the only way to get new money into the economy is for someone to borrow it into existence; and since the private sector is not borrowing, the public sector must, just to replace what has been lost in debt repayment. But government borrowing from the private sector means running up interest charges and hitting deficit limits.

The alternative is to do what governments arguably should have been doing all along: issue the money directly to fund their budgets. Having exhausted other options, some central bankers are now calling for this form of "helicopter money," which may finally be raining on Japan if not the US.

The Japanese Trial Balloon

Following a sweeping election win announced on July 10th, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he may proceed with a JPY10 trillion ($100 billion) stimulus funded by Japan's first new major debt issuance in four years. The stimulus would include establishing 21st century infrastructure, faster construction of high-speed rail lines, and measures to support domestic demand.

According to Gavyn Davies in the July 17th Financial Times:

Whether or not they choose to admit it -- which they will probably resist very hard -- the Abe government is on the verge of becoming the first government of a major developed economy to monetise its government debt on a permanent basis since 1945.

. . . The direct financing of a government deficit by the Bank of Japan is illegal, under Article 5 of the Public Finance Act. But it seems that the government may be considering manoeuvres to get round these roadblocks.

Recently, the markets have become excited about the possible issuance of zero coupon perpetual bonds that would be directly purchased by the BoJ, a charade which basically involves the central bank printing money and giving it to the government to spend as it chooses. There would be no buyers of this debt in the open market, but it could presumably sit on the BoJ balance sheet forever at face value.

Bernanke's role in this maneuver was suggested in a July 14th Bloomberg article, which said:

Ben S. Bernanke, who met Japanese leaders in Tokyo this week, had floated the idea of perpetual bonds during earlier discussions in Washington with one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's key advisers. . . .

He noted that helicopter money — in which the government issues non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date and the Bank of Japan directly buys them — could work as the strongest tool to overcome deflation . . . .

Key is that the bonds can't be sold and never come due. In QE as done today, the central bank reserves the right to sell the bonds it purchases back into the market, in order to shrink the money supply in the event of a future runaway inflation. But that is not the only way to shrink the money supply. The government can just raise taxes and void out the additional money it collects. And neither tool should be necessary if inflation rates are properly monitored.

The Japanese stock market shot up in anticipation of new monetary stimulus, but it dropped again after the BBC aired an interview with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda recorded in June. He ruled out the possibility of "helicopter money" -- defined on as "essentially printing money and distributing payouts" -- since it violated Japanese law. As the Wall Street Journal observed, however, Bernanke's non-marketable perpetual bonds could still be on the table, as a way to "tiptoe toward helicopter money, while creating a fig leaf of cover to say it isn't direct monetization."

Who Should Create the Money Supply, Banks or Governments?

If the Japanese experiment is in play, it could settle a long-standing dispute over whether helicopter money will "reflate" or simply hyperinflate the money supply.

One of the more outspoken critics of the approach is David Stockman, who wrote a scathing blog post on July 14th titled "Helicopter Money -- The Biggest Fed Power Grab Yet." Outraged at the suggestion by Loretta Mester of the Cleveland Fed (whom he calls "clueless") that helicopter money would be the "next step" if the Fed wanted to be more accommodative, Stockman said:

This is beyond the pale because "helicopter money" isn't some kind of new wrinkle in monetary policy, at all. It's an old as the hills rationalization for monetization of the public debt -- that is, purchase of government bonds with central bank credit conjured from thin air.

Stockman, however, may be clueless as to where the US dollar comes from. Today, it is all created out of thin air; and most of it is created by private banks when they make loans. Who would we rather have creating the national money supply -- a transparent and accountable public entity charged with serving the public interest, or a private corporation solely intent on making profits for its shareholders and executives? We've seen the results of the private system: fraud, corruption, speculative bubbles, booms and busts.

Adair Turner, former chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority, is a cautious advocate of helicopter money. He observes:

We have been left with so much debt we can't just grow our way out of it -- we should consider a radical option.

Not that allowing the government to issue money is so radical. It was the innovative system of Benjamin Franklin and the American colonists. Paper scrip represented the government's IOU for goods and services received. The debt did not have to be repaid in some other currency. The government's IOU was money. The US dollar is a government IOU backed by the "full faith and credit of the United States."

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to "coin money [and] regulate the value thereof." Having the power to regulate the value of its coins, Congress could legally issue trillion dollar coins to pay its debts if it chose. As Congressman Wright Patman noted in 1941:

The Constitution of the United States does not give the banks the power to create money. The Constitution says that Congress shall have the power to create money, but now, under our system, we will sell bonds to commercial banks and obtain credit from those banks. I believe the time will come when people [will] actually blame you and me and everyone else connected with this Congress for sitting idly by and permitting such an idiotic system to continue.

Beating the Banks at Their Own Game

Issuing "zero-coupon non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date" is obviously sleight of hand, a convoluted way of letting the government issue the money it needs in order to do what governments are expected to do. But it is a necessary charade in a system in which the power to create money has been hijacked from governments by a private banking monopoly engaged in its own sleight of hand, euphemistically called "fractional reserve lending." The modern banking model is a magician's trick in which banks lend money only a fraction of which they actually have, effectively counterfeiting the rest as deposits on their books when they make loans.

Governments today are blocked from exercising their sovereign power to issue the national money supply by misguided legislation designed to avoid hyperinflation. Legislators steeped in flawed monetarist theory are more comfortable borrowing from banks that create the money on their books than creating it themselves. To satisfy these misinformed legislators and the bank lobbyists holding them in thrall, governments must borrow before they spend; but taxpayers balk at the growing debt and interest burden this borrowing entails. By borrowing from its own central bank with "non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date," the government can satisfy the demands of all parties.

Critics may disapprove of the helicopter money option, but the market evidently approves. Japanese shares shot up for four consecutive days after Abe announced his new fiscal stimulus program, in the strongest rally since February. As noted in a July 11th ZeroHedge editorial, Japan "has given the world a glimpse of not only how 'helicopter money' will look, but also the market's enthusiastic response, which needless to say is music to the ears of central bankers everywhere." If the Japanese trial balloon is successful, many more such experiments can be expected globally.

Opinion Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
The No Criticism Zone

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Art Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
ALEC 2016 Agenda Boosts Charters, Coal and Other Corporate Funders

ALEC has long relied on funding from its coal and oil industry members. This year it's proposing yet another resolution opposing the Clean Power Plan.ALEC has long relied on funding from its coal and oil industry members. This year it's proposing yet another resolution opposing the Clean Power Plan. (Photo: Rich / Flickr)

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The American Legislative Exchange Council will push bills to protect failing charter schools, silence political speech, and obstruct environmental protections in the ALEC 2016 agenda introduced at its annual meeting in Indianapolis this week.

ALEC faces renewed public attention as it gears up for the annual meeting, where corporate lobbyists sit side-by-side with state legislators in luxury hotels to vote as equals on "model bills" that then get pushed to become law in states across the country.

As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, Donald Trump chose an ALEC ally, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, as his running mate, while his party's 2016 platform was clearly stamped in the Koch-fueled ALEC mold.

Pence Pushed ALEC Agenda in the Hoosier State

As Governor, Pence appointed an ALEC staffer to his cabinet, and pushed parts of the ALEC agenda into law, such as anti-worker bills like repealing the prevailing wage and privatizing public schools in various ways. He even sent a letter to state legislators urging them to join ALEC, which is widely described as a corporate bill mill. ALEC is funded by Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, huge global tobacco and drug companies, and other corporations that pay a premium to access ALEC lawmakers.

Conveniently for him, this year's meeting will be held in the snazzy J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Pence is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at lunch on Wednesday, then is slated to speak at an evening reception on school "reform" jointly hosted by the Center for Education Reform (CER) and the Jack Kemp Foundation (JKF).

If Pence had time to stay for a few task force meetings, here are some of the new "model bills" he would find voted on behind closed doors by ALEC legislators alongside corporate lobbyists and representatives of special interest groups that are part of the State Policy Network (SPN).

Second Chances for Failing Charter Schools

The for-profit education companies that help fund ALEC, like K12, Inc., have a track record of poor results that tends to result in a high rate of school closures. K12, which was founded in part by junk bond fraudster felon Michael Milken, has a seat and a vote on ALEC's corporate board.

Two new bills being considered by what ALEC now dubs its "Education and Workforce Development Task Force" could help poorly performing charters stay open without having to improve.

Under the Assessment Choice Act, instead of using a uniform assessment for students statewide, charters' authorizers would take their pick from a "menu" of tests, unlike traditional public schools.

If propping up test scores isn't enough to save a charter from closure, the "Student and Family Fair Notice and Impact Statement Act" promises to add new hurdles. Before closing or restructuring a charter school, this act would not just require that families be notified. It would also create a public hearing process in which parents, teachers, and "experts" could give testimony about the school, and the charter board would be allowed to suggest a response plan.

In case it wasn't obvious that the bill is meant to keep the charter in operation, the drafter of that model bill added:

"[drafting note: it should be clear the school can present an alternative for supporters of the school to rally around.]"

School privatization proponents have slowly been dropping the pretense that the "school choice" movement is about helping underprivileged children. At a workshop titled "The Path to Universal Choice: From Theory to Passage to Implementation," lawmakers will be schooled on how to "open up more options to the middle class."

ALEC Aims to Silence Political Speech With Anti-Divestment Bill

While ALEC purports to support "limited government," its bills show that is code for unlimited corporate power, even from democratic control by stockholders.

For example, ALEC bills have leveraged right-wing ALEC control of state legislatures to try to stifle political movements that are winning the battle for public opinion, as CMD has previously reported in its coverage of ALEC's preemption strategy, among other areas.

This ALEC meeting includes a proposal opposing the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which has been growing in strength, especially on college campuses.

The BDS Movement is an international campaign to use economic pressure to push the state of Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and to allow Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homes.

While a healthy public debate is ongoing about the pros and cons of BDS, ALEC's proposal as described doesn't merely express opposition to the movement. Instead, it apparently aims to silence political speech and activity:

"The goal of the resulting model policy will be to create disincentives to engaging in (and prohibit to the extent possible) secondary boycott activities."

ALEC host Indiana and a handful of other states have passed similar anti-boycott bills, which the American Civil Liberties Union has criticized as unconstitutional limits on speech.

This is all par for the course for ALEC, which opposed anti-Apartheid sanctions, as CMD's Nick Surgey uncovered with Calvin Sloan. ALEC has long opposed citizen stockholder movements to urge socially responsible investing.

Still Attacking Public Sector Unions After Losing in the Supreme Court

Earlier this year, a split U.S. Supreme Court left standing a lower court's decision to uphold public sector union fees in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. As CMD documented, ALEC sibling group SPN organized anti-union protests at the Court before the case was decided.

Undaunted, ALEC's "Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development" Task Force is presenting a combined version of its long-standing "Right to Work" Act and Public Employee Choice Act. The new version has been re-branded the "Friedrichs Public Employee Freedom Act" to try to get more mileage from the case. Its namesake Rebecca Friedrichs is a photogenic school teacher and rightwing activist who tried to pave the way for free-riders to get out of union dues. Friedrichs herself is an invited speaker at the conference.

To advance this agenda, the task force meeting will hear just from proponents at a presentation titled, "A State Strategy to Protect Public Employees' Free Speech Rights in the Wake of Friedrichs v. California Teachers' Association." The presentation will likely unfold the next steps of ALEC's Koch-y anti-union strategy.

Leaning Hard on Attorneys General to Block Climate Change and Environmental Protections

ALEC has long relied on funding from its coal and oil industry members. It is also a key cog in the climate science denial machine.

This year its "Energy, Environment, and Agriculture" Task Force is proposing yet another resolution opposing the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP takes important steps toward reducing carbon pollution from coal power plants that are contributing to climate changes underway.

Another proposed resolution attacks a new EPA rule to protect American streams -- and along with them American families and wildlife -- from dangerous pollution caused by surface coal mining.

Mimicking ALEC's "guerilla warfare" strategy against the CPP, the resolution calls on state attorneys general to actively oppose the rule. ALEC, whose focus has long been legislators, has been increasingly coordinating with top law enforcement officers to thwart an array of legislation, including the CPP and the Affordable Care Act.

As Long as ALEC Is Amending the Constitution. . .

As CMD has previously detailed, one of ALEC's top priorities in recent years has been calling to amend the U.S. Constitution with a balanced budget requirement. Such an amendment would straitjacket the federal government's ability to respond to crises, opportunities, and economic downturns.

Now that the movement may be getting close to the numbers needed to call a constitutional convention under Article V. One estimate counted 28 states of the required 34 having passed resolutions. It looks like ALEC's "Federalism and International Relations" Task Force is piling on to make the most of the opportunity.

Two proposed "model bills" aim to guarantee technicalities don't derail the effort.

The "Article V Records Transparency Act" would enlist the U.S. Archivist to keep track of convention calls. Another model bill conveniently combines and unifies three of ALEC's previous Article V policies.

presentation on a "Congressional Term Limits Amendment" underscores the potential dangers of the Article V strategy that some have expressed. That's because it appears that any change could be made to the Constitution during a convention (just as the entire Articles of Confederation were scrapped at the last Constitutional Convention in 1787).

It's clear that some proponents see it as an opportunity to tack on a wishlist of right-wing policies without oversight or accountability, based on pre-selecting who gets a vote at such a convention.

An Updated ALEC Agenda for Big Pharma and "Home Sharing"

As usual, ALEC's agenda also includes plenty of bills that aid the corporate interests that bankroll ALEC.

Drug companies are a perennial favorite at ALEC. Representatives of Pfizer and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group have seats and votes on sit on ALEC's private sector board. A Takeda lobbyist is the "private sector" chair of the "Health and Human Services" Task Force.

The "Federalism and International Relations" Task Force is considering a resolution against Canada's "Promise Doctrine," which requires that a patent applicant actually demonstrate the utility of an invention before being awarded a patent.

ALEC's "Communications and Technology" and "Tax and Fiscal Policy" Task Forces are pulling out the preemption playbook for "home-sharing" operations like Airbnb and HomeAway. HomeAway is a member of the trade association NetChoice, which has a seat and a vote on ALEC's private sector board.

As the hotel alternatives cut into tight housing markets, cities like San Francisco and Phoenix have been experimenting with local rules to ensure the businesses comply with safety and tax rules, and to keep big investors from tying up residential housing.

The proposed Model Act Relating to Online Lodging MarketplacesUniform Standard for Lodging Taxes Act, and Resolution in Favor of Tangible Personal Property Tax Repeal would block those local measures.

Corporate Lobbyists Get a Vote on "Tort Reform" Bills

The "Civil Justice" Task Force continues to focus on helping corporations escape liability and the costs of worker injuries. Meeting behind closed doors, the task force includes some of the defense lawyers who represent corporations whose products or practices injure Americans, who will vote as equals with state legislators on bills.

On the docket this meeting is an amendment to ALEC's Statement of Principles on Workers' Compensation Reform. The task force will also hear a presentation on "Sports Industry Liability: Helmets, Concussions and Medical Duties."

Uncoincidentally, the National Athletic Trainers Association will also be welcomed as a new member of the "Health and Human Services" Task Force at the Indianapolis meeting.

Legislators rubbing elbows with so-called "tort reform" lobbyists will be told about "Lawsuits in the Age of Big Data: Bringing Discovery Reform to the States." A presentation titled "The Threat of Groupthink in Jury Decision-Making" will teach them about perceived problems with the democratic check on the criminal justice process, the right to a trial by jury.

ALEC's Local Offshoot ACCE: Defer Local Decisions to the States

ALEC's project, the American City County Exchange, is ostensibly meant to be a municipal version of ALEC.

ALEC reliably leans on rhetoric about local control in its opposition to federal policies. But ACCE's "model bills" are strangely bifurcated between seizing and abandoning local power.

On the one hand, ACCE's Ordinance for Local Coordination on Federal Regulations demands local control over federal land-use and environmental policies. A workshop on "24- hour building permits" looks poised to justify limiting democratically adopted rules governing building codes, purportedly in order to encourage "economic growth." Meanwhile, the workshop "Right to Work or Not, Taxpayers Come First" tries on new rhetoric to peddle limits on collective bargaining for local government workers.

Yet ACCE just as often urges municipalities to turn decision-making power over to the states. This is likely because cities are at the forefront of progressive policy-making, as with the incredibly popular efforts to raise the minimum wage and expand access to earned sick days. Indeed, as CMD documented, most CEOs support those measures by overwhelming majorities, even though business lobbies routinely claim companies oppose such legislation.

ACCE's Ordinance to Repeal Personal Property Tax Collection would interfere with cities like San Francisco, which is experimenting with ways to tax property in short-term HomeAway-type rentals similarly to hotels.

ACCE's Local Resolution in Support of State Minimum Wage Law even urges city officials to claim that the "do not have the authority" to set minimum wages that are appropriate to the conditions in the cities they were elected to represent.

Peddling Harmful Myths, From Guns to Climate

Such efforts are part of ALEC's larger pre-emption playbook, which dates back to its efforts to help the tobacco companies funding it and the gun industry trade groups fueling it thwart progressive city policies to address the deadly harms of inherently dangerous cigarettes and guns.

Four years ago, CMD connected the dots between the Koch-backed ALEC and the Stand Your Ground legislation that initially prevented the arrest of George Zimmerman -- and ultimately prevented his conviction -- for killing Trayvon Martin. Under public scrutiny, ALEC announced it was parting ways with the NRA.

ALEC is hosting another shooting range event this Saturday.

Like ALEC, Mike Pence has cast his lot with industry, peddling deceptive claims like smoking doesn't cause cancer and opposing laws to reduce gun violence.

It should come as no surprise that he has also claimed that climate change is "a myth," just as ALEC has preached to its legislators numerous times over the years, as it has been funded by Exxon, Koch, Peabody, and other climate change denial operations.

News Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Mike Pence Is a Loyal Friend to Polluters

Gov. Mike Pence has benefited from a well-coordinated network of industry front groups, conservative think tanks and law firms bent on blocking the Clean Power Plan.

In 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence told President Obama his state would not comply with the Clean Power Plan.In 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence told President Obama his state would not comply with the Clean Power Plan. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

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In Mike Pence, Donald Trump has picked a running mate who could be relied on to take a chainsaw to President Obama's signature environmental policy.

In 2015 the Indiana governor told Obama in no uncertain terms that his state would not be complying with the Clean Power Plan, which sets targets for reducing power plant emissions in each state. Pence joined a lawsuit that has succeeded in tying up the plan in court.

He and other climate crisis-denying policymakers have benefited from a well-coordinated network of industry front groups, conservative think tanks and law firms bent on blocking the Clean Power Plan. A good chunk of the funding for this cabal comes from some of the country's largest electrical utilities companies.

Where do they get all that extra spending money? It turns out public utilities are champion tax dodgers -- the dodgiest of all U.S. business sectors, in fact.

According to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, 23 of the 40 publicly held utilities that were profitable in 2015 paid no federal taxes that year. Sixteen of them paid no state income taxes. The most extreme example last year was Southern Company, which reaped $210 million in federal and state tax refunds, despite $3.6 billion in pre-tax income.

This Georgia-based firm, with nine million customers in the southeastern United States, is a fierce Clean Power Plan opponent. In comments to the Environmental Protection Agency, the firm warned the plan would result in "a complete deconstruction of the nation's electric sector."

Southern officials also did their best to make their customers' hair stand on end by claiming the CPP would put $35 billion in upward pressure on their rates over the next 15 years. By contrast, the administration forecasts $80 per year in average savings per household through increased efficiency.

Southern CEO Tom Fanning pocketed $11.8 million in compensation last year and steered a good share of the rest of the proceeds from tax-dodging into blocking the Clean Power Plan through various industry groups, such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. That outfit is in turn a member of the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a petitioner along with Pence's state of Indiana in the lawsuit to overturn the Clean Power Plan. The company is also a major Capitol Hill presence in its own right, having spent more than $25 million in federal lobbying in 2013-2014.

Pence and his utility industry partners against the CPP say they're looking out for the public interest. They claim the EPA's rules will be expensive for ratepayers and cost jobs. And yet if they were truly interested in what's best for ordinary Americans, they would be investing much more in energy efficiency, the cheapest and fastest route to reducing carbon emissions.

Utilities are required by law to invest in "demand-side" energy efficiency at the consumer end, but the patchwork of state and federal programs have not gone nearly far enough to mitigate climate change and move the country toward a clean energy future.

Most of these programs also require home and building owners to invest significant upfront capital and so poor households often cannot participate. And since such programs potentially reduce utilities' profits by reducing energy demand, the firms have had little incentive to do more.

It would make far more sense to plug the loopholes that have allowed these highly profitable utilities get away without paying their fair share of taxes. Then invest the revenue in projects that would benefit everyday Americans, especially low-income and communities of color. If Southern had paid the full statutory federal and state tax rates last year, for example, they would've contributed nearly $1.5 billion to public coffers -- enough to fund 9,000 good jobs for people in retrofitting homes or building wind turbines.

If all 40 profitable utilities had paid their fair share at the state and federal levels in 2015, they would've paid about of $14 billion in additional revenue. That would've been enough to create 88,000 energy efficiency jobs or weatherize homes for up to three million low-income families.

Of course such sensible plans would have as much chance of happening under a Trump-Pence administration as a snowball's survival in you-know-where. This climate change-denying duo would be too busy butchering environmental protections to bother with tax-dodging utilities.

News Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
White Supremacy and Sanctioned Violence in the Age of Donald Trump

Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for president on the final night of the Republican National Convention, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 21, 2016. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for president on the final night of the Republican National Convention, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 21, 2016. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)

The Republican presidential campaign has resurrected the discourse of white supremacy, moving racist and ultra-nationalist movements to the center of US politics. We must counter this discourse with a broad-based movement for real structural change on the side of justice and democracy.

Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for president on the final night of the Republican National Convention, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 21, 2016. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for president on the final night of the Republican National Convention, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 21, 2016. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)

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Peter Thiel, the silicon billionaire and one of the six ultra-rich financial elite to speak at the Republican National Convention once wrote that he did not "believe that freedom and democracy were compatible." This blatant anti-democratic mindset has emerged once again, without apology, as a major organizing principle of the Republican Party under Donald Trump. In addition to expressing a hatred of Muslims, Mexicans, women, journalists, dissidents, and others whom he views as outside the pale of what constitutes a true American, Trump appears to harbor a core disdain for democracy, bringing back Theodor Adorno's warning that "the true danger [of fascism] lay in the traces of the fascist mentality within the democratic political system" (a warning quoted in Prismatic Thought). What has become clear is that the current political crisis represents a return to ideologies, values and policies based upon a poisonous mix of white supremacy and ultra-nationalism, opening up a politics that "could lead back to political totalitarianism."

Throughout the 2016 Republican National Convention the hateful discourse of red-faced anger and unbridled fear-mongering added up to more than an appeal to protect America and make it safe again. Such weakly coded invocations also echoed the days of Jim Crow, the undoing of civil rights, forced expulsions and forms of state terrorism sanctioned in the strident calls for safety and law-and-order. Commenting on Trump's speech, columnist Eugene Robinson argued that his talk added up to what few journalists were willing to acknowledge -- "a notorious white supremacist account." What is shocking is the refusal in many mainstream media circles to examine the role that white supremacy has played in creating the conditions for Trump to emerge as the head of the Republican Party. This structured silence is completely at odds with Trump's longstanding legacy of discrimination, including his recent and relentless derogatory remarks concerning President Obama, his race-based attacks on US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who is trying a case against Trump University), his denunciation of Muslims as terrorists and his attempt to paint Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists.

Neo-Fascism in the US

The visibility of such racist accounts and the deep investments in the ongoing mobilization of fear by political extremists in the United States surely has its roots in a number of factors, including dire economic conditions that have left millions suffering and proliferated zones of social abandonment. These economic conditions have resulted in an exponential increase in the individuals and groups condemned to live under machineries of inscription, punishment and disposability. The current mobilization of fear also has its roots, rarely mentioned by those critical of Trump, in a legacy of white supremacy that is used to divert anger over dire economic and political conditions into the diversionary cesspool of racial hatred. Racial amnesia was one consequence of the heralding of what David Theo Goldberg has called in his book Are We All Postracial Yet?, a "postracial" era in American history after the first Black president was elected to office in 2008. This collective racial amnesia (coded as postracialism) was momentarily disrupted by the execution of Troy Davis, the shootings of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin and others, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, even today, in spite of the cell phone videos that have made visible an endless array of Black men being killed by police, much of the American public (and particularly, the white American public) seems immune to communications of the reach, depth and scope of institutional racism in America. As Nathanial Rich observes:

Today, like sixty years ago, much of the public rhetoric about race is devoted to explaining to an incurious white public, in rudimentary terms, the contours of institutional racism. It must be spelled out, as if for the first time, that police killings of unarmed black children, indifference to providing clean drinking water to a majority-black city, or efforts to curtail the voting rights of minority citizens are not freak incidents; but outbreaks of a chronic national disease. Nebulous, bureaucratic terms like "white privilege" have been substituted for "white supremacy," or "micro-aggressions" for "casual racism."

Across the globe, fascism and white supremacy in their diverse forms are on the rise. In Greece, France, Poland, Austria and Germany, among other nations, right-wing extremists have used the hateful discourse of racism, xenophobia and white nationalism to demonize immigrants and undermine democratic modes of rule and policies. As Chris Hedges observes, much of the right-wing, racist rhetoric coming out of these countries mimics what Trump and his followers are saying in the United States.

One consequence is that the public spheres that produce a critically engaged citizenry and make a democracy possible are under siege and in rapid retreat. Economic stagnation, massive inequality, the rise of religious fundamentalism and growing forms of ultra-nationalism now aim to put democratic nations to rest. Echoes of the right-wing movements in Europe have come home with a vengeance. Demagogues wrapped in xenophobia, white supremacy and the false appeal to a lost past echo a brutally familiar fascism, with slogans similar to Donald Trump's call to "Make America Great Again" and "Make America Safe Again." These are barely coded messages that call for forms of racial and social cleansing. They are on the march, spewing hatred, embracing forms of anti-semitism and white supremacy, and showing a deep-seated disdain for any form of justice on the side of democracy. As Peter Foster points out in The Telegraph, "The toxic combination of the most prolonged period of economic stagnation and the worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War has seen the far-Right surging across the continent, from Athens to Amsterdam and many points in between."

State-manufactured lawlessness has become normalized and extends from the ongoing and often brutalizing and murderous police violence against Black people and other vulnerable groups to a criminogenic market-based system run by a financial elite that strips everyone but the upper 1% of a future, not only by stealing their possessions but also by condemning them to a life in which the only available option is to fall back on one's individual resources in order to barely survive. In addition, as Kathy Kelly points out, at the national level, lawlessness now drives a militarized foreign policy intent on assassinating alleged enemies rather than using traditional forms of interrogation, arrest and conviction. The killing of people abroad based on race is paralleled by (and connected with) the killing of Black people at home. Kelly correctly notes that the whole world has become a battlefield driven by racial profiling, where lethal violence replaces the protocols of serve and protect.

Fear is the reigning ideology and war its operative mode of action, pitting different groups against each other, shutting down the possibilities of shared responsibilities, and legitimating the growth of a paramilitary police force that kills Black people with impunity. State-manufactured fear offers up new forms of domestic terrorism embodied in the rise of a surveillance state while providing a powerful platform for militarizing many aspects of society. One consequence is that, as Charles Derber argues, America has become a warrior society whose "culture and institutions... program civilians for violence at home as well as abroad." And, as Zygmunt Bauman argues in his book Liquid Fear, in a society saturated in violence and hate, "human relations are a source of anxiety" and everyone is viewed with mistrust. Compassion gives way to suspicion and a celebration of fear and revulsion accorded to those others who allegedly have the potential to become monsters, criminals, or even worse, murderous terrorists. Under such circumstance, the bonds of trust dissolve, while hating the other becomes normalized and lawlessness is elevated to a matter of commonsense.

Politics is now a form of warfare creating and producing an expanding geography of combat zones that hold entire cities, such as Ferguson, Missouri, hostage to forms of extortion, violence lock downs and domestic terrorism -- something I have demonstrated in detail in my book America at War with Itself. These are cities where most of those targeted are Black. Within these zones of racial violence, Black people are often terrified by the presence of the police and subject to endless forms of domestic terrorism. Hannah Arendt once wrote that terror was the essence of totalitarianism. She was right and we are witnessing the dystopian visions of the new authoritarians who now trade in terror, fear, hatred, demonization, violence and racism. Trump and his neo-Nazi bulldogs are no longer on the fringe of political life and they have no interests in instilling values that will make America great. On the contrary, they are deeply concerned with creating expanding constellations of force and fear, while inculcating convictions that will destroy the ability to form critical capacities and modes of civic courage that offer a glimmer of resistance and justice.

Trump and the Culture of Cruelty

Nicholas Confessore rightly argues that Trump's "anti-other language" and denigration of Mexican immigrants as "criminal rapists, murderers and drug dealers" has "electrified the world of white nationalists," who up until the Trump campaign had been relegated to the fringe of American politics. No longer. All manner of white nationalist groups, news sites (The Daily Stormer) and individuals, such as Jared Tayler (a self-described "race realist") and David Duke (a racist and anti-Semitic Louisiana lawmaker and talk show host) have embraced Trump as a presidential candidate. And in a less-than-subtle way, Trump has embraced them. He has repeatedly tweeted messages that first appeared on racist or ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi Twitter accounts and when asked about such tweets has refused to disavow them directly.

In short, this emerging American neo-fascism in its various forms is largely about social and racial cleansing and its end point is the construction of prisons, detention centers, enclosures, walls, and all the other varieties of murderous apparatus that accompany the discourse of national greatness and racial purity. Americans have lived through 40 years of the dismantling of the welfare state, the elimination of democratic public spheres, such as schools and libraries, and the attack on public goods and social provisions. In their place, we have the rise of the punishing state with its support for a range of criminogenic institutions, extending from banks and hedge funds to state governments and militarized police departments that depend on extortion to meet their budgets.

Where are the institutions that do not support a rabid individualism, a culture of cruelty and a society based on social combat -- that refuse to militarize social problems and reject the white supremacist laws and practices spreading throughout the United States? What happens when a society is shaped by a poisonous neoliberalism that separates economic and individual economic actions form social costs, when privatization becomes the only sanctioned orbit for agency, when values are entirely reduced to exchange values?

How do we talk about the way in which language is transformed into a tool of violence, as recently happened at the Republican National Convention? Moreover, how does language act in the service of violence -- less through an overt discourse of hate and bigotry than through its complicity with all manner of symbolic and real violence? What happens to a society when moral witnessing is hollowed out by a shameless entertainment industry that is willing to produce and distribute spectacles of extreme violence on a massive scale? What happens to a society when music is used as a method of torture (as it was at Guantanamo) and when a fascist politics of torture and disappearance are endorsed by a presidential candidate and many of his supporters? Instead of addressing these questions -- as well as the state-sanctioned torture and lynching that form the backdrop for this violence -- we have been hearing a lot of talk about violence waged against police. This is not to suggest that the recent isolated acts of violence against police are justified -- of course, they are not -- but the real question is why we don't see much more of such violence, given how rampant police violence has long been in the service of white supremacy. As Ta-Nehisi Coates observes, the killing of police officers cannot be addressed outside the historical legacy of discrimination, harassment, and violence against Black people. He writes:

When the law shoots down 12-year-old children, or beats down old women on traffic islands, or chokes people to death over cigarettes; when the law shoots people over compact discs, traffic stops, drivers' licenses, loud conversation, or car trouble; when the law auctions off its monopoly on lethal violence to bemused civilians, when these civilians then kill, and when their victims are mocked in their death throes; when people stand up to defend police as officers of the state, and when these defenders are killed by these very same officers; when much of this is recorded, uploaded, live-streamed, tweeted, and broadcast; and when government seems powerless, or unwilling, to stop any of it, then it ceases, in the eyes of citizens, to be any sort of respectable law at all. It simply becomes "force."

The call for even more "law and order" feeds even more police violence rather than addressing how it can be eliminated. What is often forgotten by such calls is that, as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Brad Evans point out, "When human beings are valued as less than human, violence begins to emerge as the only response." Under such circumstances, as Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin argue, the call for law and order is in actuality a call to sanction even more state violence while telling white people that their country is spiralling out of control and that they yearn for a leader who will take aggressive, even extreme, actions to protect them. But the consequences of hate are marked or covered over with well-intentioned but misguided calls for love and empathy. These are empty calls when they do not address the root causes of violence and when they ignore a ruthless climate and culture of cruelty that calls poor people moochers; a culture that's increasingly militarized, that increasingly criminalizes and marginalizes people and social problems, and where a discourse of hate is normalized by the Republican Party and covered up by the Democratic Party.

Differences Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

What cannot be ignored is that Hilary Clinton has supported a war machine that has resulted in the death of millions, while also supporting a neoliberal economy that has produced massive amounts of suffering and created a mass incarceration state. Yet, all of that is forgotten as the mainstream press focuses on stories about Clinton's emails and the details of her electoral run for the presidency. It is crucial to note that Clinton hides her crimes in the discourse of freedom and appeals to democracy while Trump overtly disdains such a discourse. In the end, state and domestic violence saturate American society and the only time this fact gets noticed is when the beatings and murders of Black men are caught on camera and spread through social media.

Where are the mainstream public outcries for the millions of Black and Brown people incarcerated in America's carceral state? When the mainstream media can write and air allegedly objective stories about a fascist candidate who delights white nationalists and neo-Nazis, without highlighting that he advocates policies that are racist and constitute war crimes, it makes visible how America has forgotten what it should be ashamed of: the fact that we've built a society in which collective morality and the ethical imagination no longer matter. Comparisons to the 1930s matter but what counts even more is that they have been forgotten or are held in disdain. Much of the American public appears to have forgotten that totalitarian and white supremacist societies are too often legitimated by a supplicant mainstream media, cowardly politicians, right-wing and liberal pundits, academics and other cultural workers who either overlook or support the hateful bigotry of demagogues, such as Trump. What is also forgotten by many is the racist legacy of policies implemented by the Democratic Party that have resulted in a punitive culture of criminalization, incarceration and shooting of untold numbers of Black people.

Rather than engage in the masochistic practice of supporting Trump's nativism, ignorance and bigotry, and his warlike fantasies of what it will take to make America great again, white workers who have been driven to despair by the ravaging policies of the financial elite and their shameless political and corporate allies should be in the streets protesting -- not only against what is called establishment politics, but also the rise of an unvarnished neo-Nazi demagogue.

Evidence of such complicity comes in many forms, some of which are wrapped in the discourse of a supine liberalism that bows down in the face of an authoritarianism largely driven by the ethos of white supremacy. One example can be found in an article by Sam Tanenhaus in The New York Times: "How Trump can save the G.O.P." This stuff is hard to make up. In the article, Tanenhaus compares Trump to former presidents Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson and praises him for the pragmatism of some of his economic policies -- as if the spirit behind Trump's policies had any relationship to the spirit that animated Eisenhower's resistance to the military-industrial complex or to Johnson's deep concern for eliminating poverty and dismantling racism in American society. Does it matter to Tanenhous that Trump is a bigot and potential war who wants to expel 11 million Mexicans, hates Muslims and speaks glowingly about instituting torture as president of the United States? Does it matter that Trump supports violence with a wink of the eye and is unapologetic about his huge following of neo-Nazis who are enthusiastic about waging a war against Black and Brown people? How is it possible to forget that, overall, Trump is a demagogue, misogynist, racist and bigot who is unequivocally dangerous to the promises and ideals of a democracy? Apparently, it is possible. Yes, the fascists and Nazis were also efficient, particularly in the end when it came to building a war machine and committing acts of genocide. So much for pragmatism without a conscience.

Trump is a real danger to the species, the country and the world in general. His views on war and climate change -- along with the promise of violence against his enemies and his unapologetic racism, bigotry and hatred of constitutional rights -- pose some of the greatest dangers to democracy and freedom the US has ever faced.

As Adam Gopnik says in an excellent article in The New Yorker, democracies do not simply commit suicide, they are killed by murderers, by people like Trump. Most expressions of support for Trump vastly underestimate the immediate danger Trump poses to the world and minorities of class, race and ethnicity. In contrast, while Hillary Clinton is a warmonger, a cheerleader for neoliberalism and a high-ranking member of the Democratic Party establishment, she is not threatening to take an immediate set of actions that would throw people of color, immigrants and working-class people under the bus. Instead, if she wins the election, she should be viewed as part of a corrupt financial and political system that should be overthrown. While posing danger on a number of economic, political and foreign fronts, Clinton would also expose by her actions and policies the mythological nature of the idea that democracy and capitalism are the same thing. Hopefully, all those young people who followed the dead-end of a Bernie Sanders movement -- and the false suggestion that a political revolution can be achieved by reforming the Democratic Party -- would seize on this contradiction. Sanders revitalized the discourse about inequality, injustice and the need to break down the financial monopolies, but he failed in choosing a political avenue in which such real and systemic change can come about.

Fighting for a Democratic Future

We live in a time in which people are diverted into a politics that celebrates saviors, denigrates democratic relations of power and policy, and provides a mode of escape in which heartfelt trauma and pain are used to mobilize people not into democratic movements but into venting their anger by blaming others who are equally oppressed. This signals a politics that kills both empathy and the imagination, a politics that uses pain to inflict further pain on others. Atomization on a global scale is a new form of invisible violence because it shackles people to their own experiences, cutting them off from a shared awareness of the larger systemic forces that shape their lives. Anger, indignation and misery need to take a detour through the ethical, political and social models of analysis that connect individual issues to larger social problems. Only then can we resist the transformation of grievances into a Trump-like version of American fascism.

Americans need to continue to develop broad-based movements that reject the established political parties and rethink the social formations necessary to bring about a radical democracy. We see this in the Black Lives Matter movement as well as in a range of other movements that are resisting corporate money in politics, the widespread destruction of the environment, nuclear war and the mass incarceration state. With hope, these important social movements will continue to break new ground in experimenting with new ways to come together and form broad-based coalitions between fragmented subgroups.

In the end, it's vital to foster anti-fascist, pro-radical democracy movements that understand short-term and long-term strategies. Short-term strategies include participating in an electoral process to make sure a fascist or religious fundamentalist does not control a school board or gain leadership roles regarding public governance. Such practices do not represent a sellout but a strategic effort to make immediate progressive gains on the way to tearing down the entire system. Strategies built on the divide of being in or out of the system are too simplistic. Progressives must forge polices that do both as part of a larger movement for creating a radical democracy. Such actions are not the same as giving into a capitalist world view, especially when the long-term plan is to overthrow such a system. There seems to be a certain kind of theoretical infantilism that dominates some segments of the left on this issue, a form of political purity stuck in an either/or mind set. Such ideological fundamentalism (which might assert, for example, that those who vote are "giving in" or "selling out") is not helpful for successful short-term planning or for long-term strategies for developing the institutions, cultural apparatuses and social movements necessary for radical change in the US and elsewhere.

If we are to fight for a democratic future that matters, progressives and the left need to ask how we would go forward if the looming authoritarian nightmare succeeds in descending upon the United States. What can we learn about the costs of allowing our society to become lawless in its modes of governance and to lose its historical understanding of the legacy of slavery, lynching and bigotry that have given rise to mass incarceration and the punishing state? What does it mean when money rules and corrupts politics, disavows economic actions from social costs, and wages war against public trust, values and goods? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed in order to break free from a neoliberal system that spells the death-knell for democracy. All societies contain new beginnings -- we need desperately to find one on the side of justice and democracy.

The US is in a new historical moment in which the old is dying and the new is waiting to emerge. Such periods are as hopeful as they are dangerous. At the same time, there are young people and others intent on turning despair into hope, struggling to reclaim the radical imagination, and working to build a broad-based collective struggle for real symbolic and structural change in the pursuit of political and economic justice. We need to accelerate such movements before it is too late.

Opinion Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Riding Trump's Wave, Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke Runs for Senate

The climate of fear, bigotry and xenophobia stoked by the Republican Party has enabled former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon David Duke to re-enter mainstream politics.

David Duke in Flanders, Belgium, 2008.David Duke in Flanders, Belgium, 2008. (Photo: Emmanuel d'Aubignosc / Wikipedia)Immediately after Donald Trump's acceptance speech, David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon and an early Trump supporter, tweeted: "Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders! Fair Trade! Couldn't have said it better!"

On the heels of the Republican Party's Convention, Duke, promising to be a voice for "European Americans," threw his hat into the ring to run for the Senate seat vacated by the retiring scandal-plagued David Vitter.

"Thousands of special interest groups stand up for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Jewish-Americans, etc. etc.," he said in a video announcement. "The fact is that European-Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate, one man in the Congress, who will represent their rights and heritage."

As the New Republic's Brian Beutler recently pointed out, "Donald Trump has made people like David Duke feel as if they're no longer on the fringes." Conversely, Duke has spent his career trying to mainstream bigotry and xenophobia.

"David Duke, the neo-Nazi... is the consummate white nationalist opportunist," Devin Burghart, vice president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, told me in an email exchange. "With racist ideas Duke helped incubate now getting a primetime slot on a national ticket, Duke has an opportunity to again seize headlines."

Duke told The Daily Beast: "I've said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more, I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I've been nurturing for 25 years."

Like Trump, one of Duke's major issues is immigration. Somewhat like Trump, he appears to be running on a platform of mashed-up populism.

"[Duke] said immigrants are performing an 'ethnic cleansing' of white people, whose ancestors founded America," the Washington Examiner reported. "He also said he would try to pass campaign reform to get big money out of politics and enforce anti-trust laws to 'break up anti-American huge media conglomerates'."

Duke said he is "overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I've championed for years." And declared that his "slogan remains 'America first'," a slogan that Trump has borrowed.

"I would say that Duke's decision to run might be an indication of how far Donald Trump's rather blatant cultivation of white nationalist and white supremacist political support has moved the Overton window," Bruce Wilson, co-founder of Talk2Action and a researcher on the deep structure of the religious right, told me.

According to the National Review's David French, the "Overton window" is a conceptdeveloped by the late Joseph Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.The "window" refers to "the range of acceptable political discourse on any given topic," he said.

Wilson cited the case of James Edwards, who is "a close personal friend and protégé of Duke." Edwards, who is on the boards of the virulently racist American Freedom Party and the Council of Conservative Citizens -- whose website helped inspire Dylann Roof's murder of nine Black church members in Charleston, South Carolina, last year -- "got a press pass to the convention, broadcast from inside the event, and did interviews with US congressmen and other nationally prominent figures," according to Wilson.

Duke's name was injected early on during the GOP's primary campaign when CNN's Jake Tapper asked Trump if he would accept Duke's endorsement. The Donald maintained that he didn't know who Duke was. It took awhile, but Trump later disavowed Duke's support.

Meanwhile, Duke blamed the Jews for Melania Trump's plagiarized Michelle Obama speech. According to Tablet, in a piece entitled "Did a Jewish Neocon Speechwriter Sabotage Melania Trump's Big Speech?," Duke wrote the following anti-Semitic screed on his personal website:

Israel's Mossad has a motto: it is "By deception Thou Shalt Wage War."

We know the Jewish establishment of both the NeoCon right and Democratic Left despise Donald Trump. Jewish pollster Finkelstein says that Donald Trump is the most unpopular candidate for President among Jews since David Duke's race of 1992!

Nobody could have been so stupid as to make about five or six common quotes out of Michele Obama's Demo convention speech just a few years before and put it [in] Melania Trump's speech and not think it would get exposed!

This is a con job, sabotage, political character assassination plan from the get go!

Also, it seems as though the operative set up Melania, by leaking it to other Jewish media insiders who repeatedly asked her about the speech before she gave it prodding her to suggest that she came up with most of it but was helped a little by the speechwriter.

I would bet a gefilte fish that this was sabotage. I would also bet a bagel it was orchestrated by an Israel Firster who wanted to damage the American Firster.

Duke has run for office before. He was victorious and served one term in the Louisiana State House. He has also made runs -- as both Democrat and Republican -- for president, US senate and US congress.

"Sadly, the rhetoric of white dispossession coming out of the GOP Convention in Ohio last week was disturbingly reminiscent of Duke's previous campaigns for public office," said Burghart. "With those ideas having moved from the margins to the mainstream, Duke sees one more opportunity to seize power, or at least attract a new group of followers to bilk."

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News Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Chaos on Convention Floor: Protests, Boos and Chants of "Bernie" Mark Opening of DNC

The tumultuous opening of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia began one day after Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned following the release of nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders. On Monday morning, protesters booed and heckled Wasserman Schultz at a Florida delegation breakfast. Hours later, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke about the DNC email scandal in a meeting with his delegates. Later in the meeting with his delegates, the room erupted into boos when the Vermont senator repeated his support for Hillary Clinton. Supporters of Sanders chanted "Run! Run! Run!" and "Bernie or Bust!" The tension continued on to the floor of the DNC hours later. Democracy Now! was on the floor at the opening gavel of the convention and spoke with several delegates.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: It has been a tumultuous 24 hours here at the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The convention proceedings officially began one day after Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned following the release of nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders. On Monday morning, protesters booed and heckled Wasserman Schultz at a Florida delegation breakfast.

FLORIDA DELEGATE: Debbie Wasserman Schultz!



AMY GOODMAN: Hours later, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke about the DNC email scandal in a meeting with his delegates.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: As I think all of you know, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned yesterday as chair of the DNC. Her resignation opens up the possibility of new leadership at the top of the Democratic Party that will stand with working people.

AMY GOODMAN: Later in the meeting, with his close to 2,000 delegates, the room erupted into boos when the Vermont senator repeated his support for Hillary Clinton.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Brothers and sisters --

AMY GOODMAN: Supporters of Sanders chanted "Run! Run! Run!" and "Bernie or bust." The tension continued on to the floor of the Democratic National Convention when it was gaveled open hours later. Democracy Now! was there at the opening gavel of the convention.

MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I hereby call the 47th quadrennial Democratic National Convention to order.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Baltimore mayor, not Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the DNC, now resigned, has gaveled the Democratic National Convention into order on this first day.

DONNA EDWARDS: I'm Donna Edwards. I actually live in Baltimore City. I was so proud to see Stephanie Rawlings-Blake give the gavel down for this exciting convention. I think it just shows that we're moving forward. We're moving forward with unity and strength, just like we do in Baltimore.

AMY GOODMAN: Could you talk about the controversy around Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the emails that came out, 20,000 of them, and how it suggested that the DNC was clearly on the side of Hillary Clinton? No matter who you support, they clearly supported her.

DONNA EDWARDS: I would say that what's interesting is that in that debate or in that discussion, no one is talking about the fact that Bernie never identified himself as a Democrat until he decided to run for president. So, that's all I have to say on it. It's over. Let's move forward.

SANDERS SUPPORTERS: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!

AMY GOODMAN: Marcia Fudge, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, is trying to speak. People are booing. People are chanting "Hillary!" There's chaos in the California delegation.

MARK MALOUF: My name is Mark Malouf. I am a delegate for Bernie Sanders in Congressional District 5 from California, Sonoma, Napa County, Vallejo. And the reason why we were booing Tim Kaine is because we'd much prefer a much more progressive candidate that's able to unify the party against Donald Trump and stop the rise of fascism.

AMY GOODMAN: It sounds like your delegation is very divided. People were chanting "Hillary!" and other people were saying no, other people were saying "Bernie!" And many people are holding up "Ban TPP" signs.

MARK MALOUF: Although it is very divided, I am not one of the so-called Bernie or bust, so I will planning -- I am planning on voting for the eventual Democratic nominee. However, I do not know if that is the case for many of the people in this audience.


ALYSSA DERONNE: I'm Alyssa DeRonne from Asheville, North Carolina. The time is now to stop the TPP. We cannot have the TPP come up in a lame-duck session of Congress.

CLINTON SUPPORTER: You're having a hissy fit because you lost. And you don't -- you disrespect a man who fought for your civil rights and fought for the civil --

ALYSSA DERONNE: I'm here to fight for the people, because I live in a democracy.

CLINTON SUPPORTER: Oh, you don't know the people. You just became involved, and you lost. We would work with you, but you're not respecting our people, and you're not respecting others, and you want to have the floor the whole time, and that is just wrong. People would be with you, but you are disrespectful, and you are being bratty and acting out. And that's not what America is about.

ALYSSA DERONNE: I'm sorry, I didn't hear her. I'm trying to stay positive, and I live in a democracy. And I know that unfair trade deals ruin our country. They put millions and millions of people out of jobs. They trash our environment. They're going to invade our internet security. And we don't even know the entire thing, because it's shrouded in secrecy.

KATY ROEMER: My name's Katy Roemer. I'm a registered nurse, and I'm a member of National Nurses United. And I'm a nurse from California, from Congressional District 13 as a delegate. And I think this is what democracy looks like. I'm incredibly proud to be here. We have, you know, been with Senator Sanders. We were the first union to endorse him. And, you know, I'm glad that finally in American politics we're actually airing the fact that there is not necessarily agreement on issues.

CLINTON SUPPORTER: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on Tim Kaine?

KATY ROEMER: Tim Kaine -- look, Tim Kaine has a few good things about him, but the reality is, Tim Kaine has not been a friend to labor. Right? And I am a working woman, and I work within labor. I'm a union member. And Tim Kaine has not been a friend to the labor movement. Right?


KATY ROEMER: Well, I mean, he's basically not been -- he's not been friendly to us. He's voted against -- you know, certainly, if you support fast track for TPP, you've got a problem. Right? Because that is an absolute attack on organized labor in this country.

NANCY KIM: Hi. My name is Nancy Kim. I'm a PLEO delegate from Los Angeles, California. I'm a millennial. And the sign I'm holding here today is "No to TPP," because this is NAFTA on steroids. America does not know about it. The magnitude of the problem of the TPP, nobody knows about it. Corporate media is not talking about it. This is going to affect our planet. This is going to affect our families, our people. It's basically, in a nutshell -- I mean, it's over 5,000 pages, 30 chapters. Only six chapters of it is actually about trade, and the rest of it is all about corporate domination. And it's basically the end of democracy and end of humanity, basically. And we want to bring attention to it. It's our job. Our constituents chose us to come out here and represent them. And it's not about a cult of personality or just a person that's running for office, like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or whoever. It's about the issues. And I'm a community organizer in Los Angeles, and these issues are not just words on a paper. It's real. So we're here to make -- it's day one. It's not even midday, and I lost my voice, because I'm here to do whatever it takes to really bring justice and let everyone know the truth. People, once they know the truth, even Hillary Clinton people, they will love Bernie Sanders.

AMY GOODMAN: That report from the convention floor, with special thanks to John Hamilton. When we come back, we'll speak with Dr. Jill Stein, who's running for president of the Green Party -- who's running for president on the Green Party ticket. She was the Green Party's 2012 presidential nominee. Ben Jealous will also be with us, former NAACP president, Bernie Sanders surrogate, who spoke at the convention last night in favor of Hillary Clinton. This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.

News Tue, 26 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Uninvited to the Party: Laura Flanders at the Republican National Convention

Mainstream media were all over the Republican National Convention -- but what didn't they show you? What about the people, the movements, and the city that brought power to Cleveland? Laura Flanders investigates.

In this special episode, "The Laura Flanders Show" shares reports from the scene of the Republican National Convention -- but while the party was on inside Quicken Loans Arena, much of Cleveland was still grieving. The 2014 death of Tamir Rice still rests in the minds of many city residents, and it is not the only one.

At the RNC, the rhetoric also targeted those who fear the death of middle-class chances and white working-class jobs. There's a reality to that too, in a city where the normal family incomes are half the national average. In a city that's hurting, in a country that's hurting, who is speaking to all this hurt?

News Tue, 26 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Official Malice: One Man's Violent Encounter With the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Jim Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)Jim Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)In over six years, Sergeant James Anderson had never told this story publicly until last Monday at the Ypsilanti [Michigan] "Police-Community Relations/Black Lives Matter Task Force" meeting at Ypsilanti High School. A tall, slim, elderly man with glasses wearing a yellow-and-white short-sleeved shirt, he explained that he could not speak too loudly because he can't help crying every time he talks about the incident.

The Incident

On the afternoon of December 7, 2009, Jim visited Wayne State [University] to discuss his latest invention, a special kind of motor (patent pending). In the evening he dropped his wife off at home and then picked up his buddy who had some questions about the motor. Driving and talking, they turned south onto Harris Road off Vreeland Road in Superior Township.

"I travelled about 500 to 1,000 feet. At that point, I noticed a police officer approaching me from the rear in what he later called a blackout mode. He ignited his emergency flashers and I pulled to the right of the road and stopped. He exited his vehicle and approached mine.

"His opening statement to me was that he had received a report that someone was out there hunting and at the same time he was using his flashlight to search the back of my van while still questioning me about hunting. At some point he asked us for our ID, which we gave him. We later learned he was Conservation Officer Jason Smith of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Officer Smith walked back to his car.

"We sat there for about 20 or 30 minutes when we noticed a Washtenaw County Sheriff's car approaching us from the front with emergency flashers on. This car was driven by Deputy Holly Farmer and she parked behind Officer Smith's car. She approached Officer Smith's car and Officer Smith exited. They talked for a minute and then both officers approached my van. Officer Smith was on the driver's side and Deputy Farmer on the passenger side.

"Now Officer Smith's story completely changed; instead of talking about hunting, he said something like 'when you stopped back down the road there, why did you stop?' He kind of caught me off guard because I did not remember stopping. I told him that I didn't remember stopping, but if I did stop, it was to handle nature's business. He said to me again, 'Yes, you stopped and I saw you get out of the car, walk across the road in front of the car, and throw something in the ditch.' At that point, I worried he was trying to frame me for some terrible crime, so I decided to exercise my Miranda rights and stopped talking.

"Then he asked me if he could search my car. I said no, and he said, "I smell marijuana; step out of the car." I had no marijuana in the car. I exited and he ushered me to the front of my car where he proceeded to pat me down and search me with no success. Deputy Farmer then asked my passenger to step out of the car and began to search him. She found a bag in his coat pocket and indicated to Officer Smith that she had found something. In fact, it was an empty bag with some cookie crumbs that had been in that pocket for months. She put my friend under arrest, placed him in the back of her car, and came back to assist Officer Smith.

"At that time, Officer Smith placed me under arrest and led me from the front of my car to the back of his car, which put me in front of Deputy Farmer's car where the dash camera was rolling. Officer Smith began to pull my clothes off. He disconnected my belt, unbuttoned my trousers, and pulled them down to my ankles. He then caught hold of my thermals and pulled them down to my knees. He then pulled my underpants down to about mid-thigh and began to pat and search.

"When he couldn't find what he was looking for, he haphazardly pulled my underclothes up part-way, leaving my skin exposed, and at that time my trousers were still down by my ankles. He reached down by my left foot, caught hold of my trousers on the left side, pulled violently and then dropped the trouser leg again. He walked around to my right side and did the same thing, only this time with more violence.

"At that time he pulled my right leg off the ground and my left leg gave way. I have a weak left side from military injuries. I began to fall backwards to the left with both hands handcuffed behind my back and no ability to catch myself. Officer Smith's tailgate was down and I was afraid that I would strike it as I fell, but instead I fell to the ground into the roadside ditch, injuring my left arm and shoulder. I lay upside down with my body at an angle down the slope of the ditch and my head downward. My hands remained handcuffed beneath me. It wasn't snowing at the time, but it was cold."

Weather records indicate a low of 23°F that day.

Harris Road, where Jim Anderson spent nearly an hour lying half-naked, hands cuffed underneath him, upside down in the ditch on December 7, 2009. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)Harris Road, where Jim Anderson spent nearly an hour lying half-naked, hands cuffed underneath him, upside down in the ditch on December 7, 2009. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)

"Officer Smith then straddled me. He began to squeeze and massage around my throat and jaw area. I think he thought I might have swallowed something and was trying to push it up.

"According to police records, I laid in the ditch like that with my trousers down for close to 50 minutes. At least five more police cars rolled up during that time and I listened to the officers congratulate Officer Smith, saying that if he hadn't stopped me I probably would've hurt someone, assuming I was intoxicated. One of the officers pulled off my shoes and socks while I lay on the ground, still searching for something I didn't have. Later he put them back on.

"None of them helped me out of the ditch. I didn't ask for help because I figured there wasn't any point. It reminded me of a bunch of hunters in the woods standing around discussing their kill. I was in survival mode, thinking, just keep quiet and let them do what they do.

"When the EMS unit arrived a paramedic asked if I was under arrest, and one of the officers said no. The paramedic said, 'Well, then take off his handcuffs.' He did, and the first thing I asked was, 'Can I put my clothes back on?' The paramedics stood me up and when they checked my vitals they found that my blood pressure was 211 over 150. By that time I just wanted to go home…."

This is the point where Jim's chin trembles as the memory of the trauma floods over him and he cannot hold back the tears. Shaking his head, he continues:

"I just wanted to go home, but the paramedics said I had to go to the hospital. While the paramedics were working to bring my blood pressure down, Officer Smith came into the EMS unit and said, "Sorry for the inconvenience" while putting a ticket on the bed for failing to use my turn signal at the stop sign at Vreeland and Harris Road. I know I used my turn signal. This was a completely different story from supposedly hunting or supposedly stopping down the road.

"My friend told me later that when I was in the ambulance, he overheard Officer Smith ask the deputies if their drug-sniffing dog found anything. They said no, and Smith started walking towards the ambulance, stopped, then said, 'I'm going to give him a ticket anyway.' They turned my friend loose with no ticket and let him drive my van home."

The stop sign at Vreeland and Harris, two narrow dirt roads with very little traffic. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)The stop sign at Vreeland and Harris, two narrow dirt roads with very little traffic. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)

The Aftermath

"I spent the next three hours or so at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. To this day I'm under treatment at the VA for long-term problems with a pinched nerve in my left shoulder with pain that has since transferred to my right shoulder. I still get physical therapy. I had scars on my wrists from the handcuffs for three months. I'm also still under treatment for severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For a while I was on prescription medication for anxiety attacks that I had for years after the incident. I've never been raped before, but after that night I felt like it must be something like that. I don't know how else to describe it."

Jim's ordeal did not end there. He contacted the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office on December 10, three days after the incident, demanding that they preserve the dash cam video evidence. He was told there was no video available. Three months later somebody told him his video was ready.

He received two videos, eleven and thirteen minutes in length. The citation says the alleged violation occurred at approximately 8:05pm and the ambulance departed at 9:08pm. Radio dispatch from WCSO records Deputy Farmer requesting backup at 8:03pm, stating, "I have one in my back seat, and I have an issue with the second subject here." Neither video documents the beginning of Deputy Farmer's arrival at the scene, even though she was involved in the arrests. His friend later told Jim that while Jim was suffering mistreatment at the hands of Officer Smith, Deputy Farmer ran to her car and shifted the dash camera so it was no longer videotaping what was happening to Jim. He also saw that the red recording light was still on. It appears that the part of the dash cam video most relevant to the Deputy's complicity with Officer Smith's brutal treatment of Jim is missing.

Malice and Racism

The first video does not show any people; it only captures audio of nearby officers and Jim. By this time, Jim is already handcuffed and on the ground. Officers can be heard speaking and, frequently, laughing in the background. The real time is not visible on the video -- it appears to be just at the edge of the screen.

Below are excerpts from the transcript of the video:

[Time marker 136]

"You gotta at least tell us what to tell the ambulance, man. Did you swallow something?"


In response to a dispatcher's request for an update: "Right now he's just layin' on the ground floppin' around a little bit."


"You gotta tell us what's going on. We gotta tell them something. You got a heart problem? You got a stroke? You ingested narcotics? We can't help you if you don't talk, okay. Just because you're acting like you're sick, you're still … you know, whatever they've got on you, you're still gonna pay for that. You know, right now we're just trying to deal with the medical thing…. I mean, what's going on? I know you can talk. What's your deal, man?"

Watching the video, Jim explained, "At that point I didn't want to talk to them anymore."

"You understand that you're going to have to pay for this? All the ambulance and everything?" [inaudible banter]

"He say anything yet?"

"He said, can I talk to a doctor…."

"It's a good thing you saw him, he might've done this while he was driving."

"Yeah, you would've really hurt yourself if nobody had come talk to you about your driving. Wouldn't want that."


[Time marker 224]

Smith: "I was sittin' in this [inaudible] back behind all them trees back there, and I could see him rollin' down, he was creepin'. And then he stopped, and I could see him out in front of the car in front of the headlights [inaudible] and I was sneakin' up on him, and he comes down, he's slow rollin' and comes down Vreeland here.…[inaudible] So I stop, and I walk up and I get up there, and he's all nice! From the get go. You know, I go back [inaudible] I don't know if I can smell some dope in there….[inaudible] So I get him out here, alright, and I got him handcuffed, and he's not sayin' a word, he's just lookin' at me, and uh, I shake his belt, you know, and I go down to lift his pant leg and he, uh, throws his shoulder right into me and drops, and that's when he yells and he starts freakin' out, freakin' out [inaudible]. Buddy, I don't have a clue what's goin' on. [inaudible banter and laughter] Yeah, I got their ID. They're clear. Then he's freakin' out, then all of a sudden he's like, I wanna talk to a doctor…. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, he plowed right into me. [inaudible banter and laughter] Yeah, then he went down. He got one last …"

[Time marker 257]

Jim, sounding agonized: "Ow! Ow! These handcuffs are cutting into my arms."

Smith: "Yep, they do that!"

Jim: "Ohh. Oh. I can't … I can't breathe."

Officer: "Funny how he can only talk when, when he's hurtin'."

Smith: "[inaudible] if you're cool. Are you gonna be cool and not try to … hey, listen, are you gonna be cool? Well, I'm not gonna take 'em off unless you answer me."

Jim: "Oh, my Lord!"

Smith: "You gonna be cool? You gonna be cool? Huh?"

In the background, Jim moans loudly and repeatedly in agony, while officers continue to banter and laugh ["look, he's floppin' around"] until the car door closes and outside audio ends.

Jim explains that Officer Smith was on his right side when Jim fell over backwards to his left without pushing or striking Officer Smith. "After he threw me in the ditch, he had a decision to make: how to cover up his misdoing. As he told his story to the deputies, he revised himself several times."


The second video has real time visible. It begins with a few seconds of a police parking lot at 5:19pm earlier that day. Then it scrambles and contains just a few screen shots from 8:37pm of Deputy Farmer standing over something or someone, mostly obscured by the hood of the deputy's car. Officer Smith's truck is visible ahead and Jim's van is in front of that. Then the video scrambles again, followed by more of the daytime scene from earlier in the day, scrambles again, and jumps to 8:56pm. By this time, Jim's friend is released from the car and the ambulance has arrived. In fact, as early as 8:37, dispatch from WCSO records a male deputy stating, "The driver is TOT to HVA and the other one I kicked loose."

Below is a partial transcript, including dialogue between Jim's friend and the officers:

Friend: "Sorry about this…. Scared as hell, you know. I mean, I didn't think this was gonna happen, you know."

Farmer: "Well, he's gettin' himself all riled up for nothin'. You know, you got somethin' on you, you got somethin' on you, ya know? Whatever. You have to pay the price for it, if you get caught. Then you try to hide it and then it makes it worse. We're gonna find it. For the most part…."

Watching the video, Jim chuckles and comments, "She's lecturing about hiding things, and she's the one hiding the whole video."

Farmer: "Why were you guys out here rollin' around?"

Friend: "Just ridin' and talkin', you know."

Farmer: "Okay."

Jim later remarks, "I was 63 years old. I can drive where I want to."

Dogs can be seen departing and a while later a male officer says, "You'd think there was somethin'. That's a whole lotta work for nothin'…."



Smith: "… but guess what, marijuana [inaudible] in the head, so don't ever do it again."

Friend: "I appreciate it."

Smith: "Alright. Um … nothin' in the vehicle, or … ?"

Farmer: "Nope. Guess not, they came out sayin' they…."

Smith: "Okay, I don't know what they want us to do, so uh, just sit tight and I guess, uh, you might be drivin' the [vehicle] home. Alright?"



Male officer: "His blood pressure's through the roof, but it's probably from him gettin' all worked up."

Farmer: "So, did he say he had heart issues to them?"

Officer: "He did, you could see the line goin' right down where he had…."

Farmer: "Oh, okay. So he had surgery." [Jim has never had heart surgery. He had a scar on his abdomen from an ulcer surgery in the 1970s.]

Officer: "But it's just kinda weird how he was, like, 'I wanna see a doctor. Uff!' I think he got worked up over nothin' and it kinda triggered somethin'."

Farmer: "Right. Could've."

Friend: "We straight?"

Officer: "Yeah, we're straight, man."

Friend: "Appreciate it."

Officer: "Yeah, alright, make sure you check on him 'cause his blood pressure's through the roof, alright?"

Friend: "Yeah, I'll check on him."

Officer: "Alright, take it easy."

Farmer: "[inaudible], he called it, sorry about it, and I was scared, I didn't wanna tell you guys."

Officer: "Well, of course not, but we're not gonna smell it…. I was like, where's the dope here, guys?"



Ambulance leaves. Officers continue to reenact incident and laugh, words inaudible due to closed door.

The Justice System

Then Jim had to go to court to fight the bogus citation for allegedly failing to use his turn signal, at night on an empty dirt road. First Officer Smith told his story. When Jim's turn came, he said, "Judge, this man is not being completely honest with you. He stopped me, pulled my clothes off, and threw me in the ditch." She turned to the officer and asked, "Did you do that?" Officer Smith replied, "Not exactly." The judge ruled in Jim's favor.

Jim decided to sue the State and the DNR. He spoke to the Detroit firm of Sklar and Hurwitz, but never signed a representation agreement. The firm did not represent Jim's best interests; they failed to meet deadlines and dropped claims from the complaint without Jim's input. A settlement hearing proceeded, despite Jim requesting a delay until the VA completed evaluation of his injuries. Judge Gerald Rosen appointed Magistrate Steven Whalen to mediate that settlement hearing, and Whalen suggested that if Jim's claims of permanent injuries were sustained (which they later were when a pinched nerve was diagnosed by the VA) then the settlement should be a high figure. Sklar then argued for a lower settlement for his client. Later Sklar colluded with Judge Rosen to impose a settlement agreement that Jim repeatedly rejected, despite being told by Sklar that if he didn't accept and went to trial instead, the judge would make sure that he didn't get a penny. Jim neither signed nor agreed to the settlement. Judge Rosen ordered "that plaintiff's counsel shall have the authority to take any actions necessary to effectuate the settlement."

Joel Sklar, the attorney, then claimed the VA had a lien on the settlement for Jim's treatment costs, but claimed that if Jim signed off on the settlement agreement, the VA would agree to drop the lien. At that point, Sklar also attempted to get Jim to sign a belated representation agreement. Jim refused to sign either and Sklar proceeded to pay large sums directly to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and the VA Hospital from Jim's settlement. Administrators at the VA have since told Jim that they had no right to that settlement money, but they will not return it. If not for the lawsuit, Jim would not have had any charges for his care at the VA. Jim filed a complaint against Sklar with the Michigan Bar and received formal clearance to file a malpractice suit against him, but could find no attorney in Michigan willing to take the case.

A Life of Dignity

Jim Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)Jim Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Miller)Sergeant Jim Anderson is 70 years old. He comes from Lilbourn, Missouri, and has lived in Ypsilanti for 46 years. He recalls that in his formative years, "I had to work so hard to understand white people that it took me a lot longer to understand who I am myself." He is an inventor, he served as a mechanic in the military for 19 years, and he can take a generator apart and put it back together. He is married, with eight children and eight grandchildren. He tells his grandsons not to even speak to police: "That'll get you killed." He's never been in jail in his life. He is a member of Strong Tower Church and of WeROC (Washtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition, a faith-labor group).

From 2001 to 2004, he worked on a pasture poultry project in Missouri, inventing a new way of raising chickens. He invented a wrench that you can use to loosen a lug nut with one hand. His motor invention went sour after his encounter with the police in 2009 because he could no longer focus and suffered from severe PTSD. Six months ago he resumed his work and is in the process of filing a patent through Lincoln University in Missouri. He is also in the process of writing a book about his research and personal experiences.


This incident occurred 11 months after Sheriff Jerry Clayton took office. In March of 2010, Jim received a letter from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office stating that they had investigated the incident and Lieutenant Jim Anuszkiewicz "concluded that the deputies on the scene acted appropriately in there [sic] contact with you." Last week, after Jim told his story publicly for the first time, the Sheriff's office called him requesting more information and were at present unable to locate the case or the investigation.

Jason Smith has been a Conservation Officer with the DNR since 2005. He is now a Sergeant in Oakland County, out of the Metro Detroit (District 9) office. His email is and the district office number is 313-396-6890. [Note: There is another Jason Smith who is a DNR CO in a different district.]

Deputy Holly Farmer was involved in the 2010 incident in which 31-year-old Stanley Jackson, Jr., of Belleville was killed by police after they Tasered him three times.

News Tue, 26 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400