Category: Social justice
Numerous cops and ex-cops have stepped up to condemn the “war on drugs.” , They go by the name LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and they are now thousands strong. Here is the mission of LEAP:
The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.
LEAP’s goals are: (1) To educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology and (2) To restore the public’s respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcements involvement in imposing drug prohibition.
LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate current and former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.
Glen Greenwald reports that Bradley Manning may not be honored at this year’s San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, though corrupt and abusive corporations are welcome:
So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture. Even at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, once an iconic symbol of cultural dissent and disregard for stifling pieties, nothing can happen that might offend AT&T and the Bank of America. The minute something even a bit deviant takes place (as defined by standards imposed by America’s political and corporate class), even the SF Gay Pride Parade must scamper, capitulate, apologize, and take an oath of fealty to their orthodoxies (we adore the military, the state, and your laws). And, as usual, the largest corporate factions are completely exempt from the strictures and standards applied to the marginalized and powerless. Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation’s worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome.
Greenwald also points out the flaw in Ms. Williams’ thinking, which is a conflation I often hear, even among many folks who think of themselves as progressive:
Equating illegal behavior with ignominious behavior is the defining mentality of an authoritarian – and is particularly notable coming from what was once viewed as a bastion of liberal dissent.
And how should one now characterize the Gay Pride parade?
Yet another edgy, interesting, creative, independent event has been degraded and neutered into a meek and subservient ritual that must pay homage to the nation’s most powerful entities and at all costs avoid offending them in any way.
SANDRA STEINGRABER (part of an interview with Bill Moyers):
Yeah. Well-informed futility is an idea that psychologists hit upon in the 1960s, specifically to explain why the people watching television news about the Vietnam War came to feel more and more futile about it. Whereas people who watched less television felt less futile. So it seemed like a paradox, right? The more informed you are, you think of knowledge as power.
But in fact, there is a way in which knowledge can be incapacitating. And so the psychologists went further and now have applied this to the environmental crisis and point out to us that whenever there’s a problem that seems big and overwhelming, climate change would be one, and at the same time, it’s not apparent that your own actions have any meaningful agency to solve that problem, you’re filled with such a sense of despair or guilt or rage that it becomes unbearable.
And so my response to that is basically what the book Raising Elijah is all about. So I try to take well-informed futility as my starting point and let people know that there is a way out of this. But because we can’t — I can’t honestly tell you that the problem is less bad than it is, the response has to be that we scale up our actions. So the problem is huge. And so our actions have to be huge as well.
I’m going to offer several facts, then I’ll ask a few questions.
- Many states allow foreclosures to occur entirely outside of the court system. In these “non-judicial” foreclosure states, a “trustee” is deemed to be a “neutral” party charged with the duty to make sure that the foreclosure process is fair.
- Since 2008, U.S. banks have foreclosed on more than 10 million families. About half of these have been non-judicial foreclosures supervised by trustees.
Trustees are appointed by the banks at the time homeowners take out their home loans. These trustees are strangers to the homeowners, but highly paid repeat-player legal advocates for the banks.
- Many foreclosures occur despite the fact that homeowners are disputing whether the foreclosure should occur at all. In many of these cases, the homeowner claims that he or she has made all mortgage payments timely, indicating that the bank has lost or misallocated the payments. In significant numbers of these cases, the homeowner has offered written proof that he or she has made every mortgage payment on time. In other cases, the bank unjustifiably added charges to the bill (such as forced-place insurance, even though the home-owner already has insurance) and the homeowner refuses to pay these bogus charges. On other occasions, the bank has mangled the accounting, giving the homeowner no confidence that the bank has any idea of what is owed or what has been paid.
- I have seen each of these situations in cases I’ve handled. Despite knowledge of each of these problems, the “neutral” trustee in each of these cases nonetheless proceeded with the foreclosure.
- On occasions too numerous to count, homeowners facing unjustified foreclosures had turned for help and advice to these supposedly “neutral” trustees, calling them up and asking questions. In many of these cases, the trustees gave the customer terrible legal advice—advice that was helpful to the banks and harmful to the homeowners. In many cases, the trustees gave the homeowners no advice at all, indicating that the customers should simply pay the banks unwarranted late fees and back interest, or else lose their homes.
- Many “trustees” are also law firms (consumer advocates refer to them as “foreclosure mills”), who in addition to falsely claiming that they are “neutral trustees,” also serve as attorneys in fact to the banks.
[More . . . ]
Big banks are providing the funds for online payday lenders. This story from the NYT is not the least bit surprising, not that it makes this article any less disturbing.
While the banks, which include giants like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, they are a critical link for the lenders, enabling the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals.
The article indicates that without the backing of the big banks, many of these payday lenders would cease to exist.
Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]
Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
According to Naomi Wolf, the coordinated arrests and violence against protestors were not coincidentally timed.
It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.
Doubtless whatever I say, someone will find fault, take offense, withdraw into positions, place guard dogs at the gates and lookouts in the towers. We are a people enamored of the idea of violence. We like the idea that when it gets down to the proverbial nitty gritty we can and will kick ass and take names. Americans are tough, not to be messed with, ready to exact justice by knuckles or 9.mm. . . .
Robert Reich has distilled ten principles of Romneyism. I think he’s compiled and articulated these accurately. Whether they SHOULD be guiding principles for the United States is an entirely separate question. Here are the ten:
1. Corporations are the basic units of society.
2. Workers are a means to the goal of maximizing corporate profits.
3. All factors of production — capital, physical plant and equipment, workers — are fungible and should be treated the same.
4. Pollution, unsafe products, unsafe working conditions, financial fraud, and other negative side effects of the pursuit of profits are the price society pays for profit-driven growth.
5. Individual worth depends on net worth — how much money one has made, and the value of the assets that money has been invested in.
6. People who fail in the economy should not be coddled.
7. Taxes are inherently bad because they constrain profit-making.
8. Politics is a game whose only purpose is to win.
9. Democracy is dangerous because it is forever vulnerable to the votes of a majority intent on capturing the wealth of the successful minority, on whom the economy depends.
10. The three most important aspects of life are family, religion, and money.