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I find arguments about whether we live in a police state to be a distraction.  Kind of like arguments over whether Obama is a communist, socialist, democrat, new democrat, republican-lite, republican or conservative.  The label affixed doesn't matter half as much as the actual actions, the policies implemented, and the actual effects on our society.  

Is this a police state?  I'll leave it to others define.  We are a state:

- where police have near immunity from prosecution for wrongdoing committed against citizens.  For example, Scottsdale AZ police officers shot an unarmed man, holding a child, in the back and received no criminal punishment.

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/...

Recorded by Hulstedt's neighbor through a screen, the video shows what happened during and just after the 2008 shooting. Watch as Scottsdale police shoot Hulstedt, handcuff him, then drag him on his knees 400 feet across rough ground and asphalt.
http://www.courthousenews.com/...
Fearing that the officers who responded to the scene would shoot him, Hulstedt refused to come out of the house with his 2-year-old daughter, D.H. At one point Hulstedt threatened to "pile drive" the child unless police negotiators sent his brother into the house.
     About 30 minutes into the standoff, Hulstedt left the house, unarmed, with the child in his arms. But he turned around after only a few steps and walked back toward the front door, holding D.H. over his head. Scottsdale Police Sgt. Richard Slavin, about 96 feet away, yelled, "Put that child down!"
     Within seconds of the warning, Officer James Dorer fired his rifle twice at the small of Hulstedt's back. Slavin fired twice as well. Three bullets hit Hulstedt, causing him to drop D.H. headfirst onto a concrete path. Doctors later treated the little girl for a skull fracture. The gunshots left Hulstedt paralyzed.
Hell, they are still working there!

- that imprisons far more people than any other industrialized nation often for non-violent and status offenses.

ACLU Report on Debtor's Prisons: http://www.aclu.org/...

Most people who receive a traffic ticket or a fine related to a criminal conviction simply pay it and move on with their lives. But for the poor, court fines and fees may be completely unaffordable. Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to imprison debtors simply because they cannot pay court fines or fees. State law in Ohio also requires that a judge determine whether a person can pay a fine before she is jailed. Nonetheless, many courts throughout the state are simply ignoring the law and routinely incarcerating people multiple times for failing to pay their fines.
US Prison rates vs. the rest of the world: http://www.bloomberg.com/...
The U.S. also leads the world in the number of prisons in operation at 4,575, more than four times the number of second- place Russia at 1,029. U.S. states spent $52 billion to construct and operate those prisons in 2011, more than quadruple the $12 billion spent in 1987, according to data from the Pew Center on the States.

- that enforces laws inequitably.  There are too many examples to list them all, but some examples: bankers vs. gov't whistleblowers, minority drug users vs. white drug users, corporations vs. people.

Incarceration Rates for African Americans: http://rt.com/...

The incarceration rate for American-Americans is so high that young black men without a high school diploma are more likely to go to jail than to find a job, thereby causing the breakup of families and instilling further poverty upon them.

“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist, told the New York Times. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their families, creating an enduring disadvantage at the very bottom of American society.”

- that allows private companies to profit from the incarceration of others, going sometime as far as guaranteeing a population rate.  These private prisons go and lobby our state and federal legislatures to implement or keep in place laws that guarantee high rates of incarceration, such as outdated and racist drug and immigration policies:

Private Prisons and Immigration: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Americans have grown accustomed to the crackdown on illegal immigration as part of the fabric of contemporary political debate, one in which Arizona's strict enforcement posture frequently captures attention. The private prison industry has exploited the crackdown as something else: a lucrative business model.

"The policy in this country has changed from catch and release to more detention," CCA's former board chairman, William Andrews, told investors in 2006, according to the transcript of an upbeat earnings call. "That means we'll be incarcerating more illegal aliens."

Private Prisons Lobby for Harsher Sentences: http://seattlefreepress.org/...
Over the past 15 years, the number of people held in all prisons in the United States has increased by 49.6 percent, while private prison populations have increased by 353.7 percent, according to recent federal statistics. Meanwhile, in 2010 alone, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, the two largest private prison companies, had combined revenues of $2.9 billion. According to a report released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), not only have private prison companies benefitted from this increased incarceration, but they have helped fuel it. Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies, examines how private prison companies are able to wield influence over legislators and criminal justice policy, ultimately resulting in harsher criminal justice policies and the incarceration of more people. The report notes a “triangle of influence” built on campaign contributions, lobbying and relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials. Through this strategy, private prison companies have gained access to local, state, and federal policymakers and have back-channel influence to pass legislation that puts more people behind bars, adds to private prison populations and generates tremendous profits at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.
- and has been documented here before, we are a state that increasingly targets protesters and leakers.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests.
http://www.csmonitor.com/...
In St. Louis, police began arresting protesters who refused to leave Kiener Plaza just after midnight Saturday morning.

The arrests came about 15 minutes after officers warned protesters that anyone who refused to leave the downtown plaza would be arrested, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"None of us are choosing to be arrested," said Brian Staack, one of the protesters, just before he was taken into custody. "We are choosing to maintain our occupation and our right to peaceably assemble."

In Portland, Oregon, Mayor Sam Adams has ordered the 300-tent encampment closed by midnight Saturday.

http://www.nytimes.com/...
The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance “whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,” has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers.

The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media. It has been used six times since the current president took office.

Are these the actions of a police state?  I don't know.  They are the actions of our law enforcement community, which includes politicians on both sides of the isle, corporate interests, and, of course, the police.  I'll let someone else worry about labels.

UPDATE: I find that the title of my diary proved to be as distracting as the "police state" question and changed it.  The American criminal justice system is broken.  It is inequitable, overly punitive and driven by profit.  Its a national disgrace.   That is the only label that matters.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  You coyly say "you don't know." Le me answer (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WheninRome, corvo, burlydee, Tool, radmul

    that for you without equivocation: Yes, we live in a Police State.

    The legal and technological infrastructure that let to this moment took 40+ years, accelerating during the last ten, in the after-math of 9/11.

    Right now, all the pieces are in place, and the next step is to consolidate the imposition of the total-information-awareness police state, taking advantage of a docile and acquiescence, an totally manipulated and propagandized population.

    •  If you can say yes "without equivocation" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      turnover, jdsnebraska

      then you don't understand what a police state is, have never been to a police state or are completely disengenuous.

      And every time people use hyperbolic statements like this they not only lessen the actual meaning of words they make sure that they are discounted by people who may actually be on their side.

      Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

      by Mike S on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:25:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Be patient. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        It will be true enough soon enough.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:26:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course it will. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          turnover, jdsnebraska

          The secret police will be rounding me up for speaking out against the government any day now. How do I know this? Because I get daily emails from the conservative action group and occasionally find Glenn Beck talking about it.

          Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

          by Mike S on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:33:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tell me what your own leadership (0+ / 0-)

            is doing to prevent it.  Beside prosecuting whistleblowers, that is.

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:37:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Basic definition (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, Timaeus, burlydee, Lady Libertine

    Is a totalitarian state, repressively controlled by a secret police force. Some examples include Gestapo in Nazi Germany, Mano Blanca in Central America, and Apartheid South Africa

    The US has seen localized police states historically, areas where one would find the KKK, the Mob, some Company towns in the West ... And currently the dominion of Arpaio in Arizona.  

    Nationally, i'd argue the conditions are ripening for wider spread totalitarianism in this country. Without doubt, police forces are militarized, political corruption is rampant, political and economic power is becoming ever more concentrated and civil rights are being whittled away.

    Given all that, and looking at what has happened to people living in police states, I'd say, yes, an emphatic fuck yes, it matters.

    Still, I remain hopeful that there will always be that bending toward the arc of justice thing about human beings that balances out whatever evils come into power. Personally, I'm more worried about what is coming our way from Mother Nature than from the paths taken by greedy men.

    “In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely." - HST

    by cosmic debris on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:12:35 PM PDT

    •  The nature of arcs is that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosmic debris

      once you arc toward something, you can keep arcing back away from it.

      MLK's metaphor is biting us all in the butt ferociously right about now.

      Your last sentence, however, pretty much says it all.  Of course, it also explains why those of us with longevity will experience our last days in collapsing totalitarian states.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:18:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Look on the bright side! (0+ / 0-)

    Chuck Hagel, the SecDef of our nominally Democratic president, just declared that Israel has the right to attack Iran whenever it pleases.

    Who needs freedoms in a world at war? (sigh)

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:14:50 PM PDT

  •  I always find it ironic how the loudest of our (5+ / 0-)

    always entertainin 'police state' crowd sits around banging away whatever yammering nonsense they like on a keyboard without the slightest hint of recognition that in a REAL police state, they would run the risk of being locked away for 5, 10, 50 years, shot, having their families hounded, kicked out of work, attacked, and having their lives completely taken from them for the mere expression of dissent.

    A good friend of mine is from Turkmenistan.  His uncle was on national TV during the Turkmenbashi era discussing the agricultural policies of the president.  He wasn't a huge fan.  For his wisdom, he was locked up in 2006.  He hoped for amnesty when the new president came in, but no.  He's still locked up, and may well be for life.  BEcause he thought the wheat should have been planted somewhere else or some such.

    There are many legitimate gripes about the culture of fear we live in (much of which is our own fault), the hyper-security camera world (which is about 1% as bad as what they have in the UK), and overzealous (and maybe biased)  treatment of people like OWS protesters (actions conducted by A FEW...not THE WHOLE FORCE)

    But seriously, fuck the 'police staters' for using Boston's outstanding civic actions as a platform for extremist anti-establishment blather.  It's despicable.  We  have police.  We have military.  Some of them, unfortunately, are dicks.  But we don't have a secret police, we don't have untold political prisoners, and we don't have a goddamn police state.

    •  Hooray! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bevenro, radmul

      We're better than Turkmenistan!

      I can rest easy now.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:37:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh lord, Mr. 'Reading Comprehension' has arrived.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anthony de Jesus

        nt

        •  Let me guess. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radmul

          You weren't complaining about the erosion of civil rights back when we had those Evil Republican Presidents either, right?

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:44:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Great job of intentionally missing the point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        turnover

        I am stepping out of this conversation because it isn't worth talking about with people who are completely disengenous.

        I might as well debate a tea bagger about our steady decline into communism.

        Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

        by Mike S on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:55:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm right there with you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mike S

          I stepped into a comment thread here for the first time in a long time. Evidently, this was the wrong move.

          "...even amnesia, if prolonged, can become as dreary as one's old life." - Walker Percy

          by turnover on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:57:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe my diary wasn't effective (0+ / 0-)

      It was my attempt to get people to stop arguing about what a police state is, and start talking about the extremes level of corruption and inequality in the current United States, whatever you choose to label it.  

      But alas, insults like "police-staters" seem all the rage at Dkos now.  So carry on.  

    •  No Gestapo, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radmul

      The CIA, FBI, and most importantly, the NSA, seem to have a reasonably sound framework in place to provide similar functionality some day, if we allow it happen.

      Just because they're not currently bashing in doors and wisking people away into the night doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to the erosion of our constitutional rights.




      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 02:31:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you are seeking an honest answer... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jdsnebraska, bogieshadow

    ...to your question as to whether or not we here in the USA live in a "police state," I'd highly recommend posing it to a recent North Korean defector. Or perhaps someone who lived in what was then East Germany between, say, 1961 and 1989.

    Now, if you'd like to have a discussion about the very real instances of police violence and overreach in the United States, I'm sure that can be found here.

    "...even amnesia, if prolonged, can become as dreary as one's old life." - Walker Percy

    by turnover on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:39:29 PM PDT

    •  Hooray! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radmul

      We're better than North Korea!

      Put out more flags!

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:45:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All I'm saying is that the term... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jdsnebraska, bogieshadow

        ..."police state" has a certain very real connotation. To suggest that anything currently happening in the United States is even remotely similar to what has, over the past several decades, come to define the term worldwide rhetorically cheapens the suffering of individuals who live - and have lived and died - in real police states.

        "...even amnesia, if prolonged, can become as dreary as one's old life." - Walker Percy

        by turnover on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:50:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's happening; (0+ / 0-)

          we're just not there yet.  As I've commented elsewhere: Be patient.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:52:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Did you even read my diary? I listed a number of (0+ / 0-)

      "very real instances of police violence and overreach in the United states."  The answer to my question rhetorical question is simple - it doesn't matter if you call it a police state or not, the current state of our law enforcement is that it has been corrupted and it is ill-functioning.  

      It is become increasingly obvious that the people who spend so much time arguing about labels aren't really interested in addressing the matters I listed.  

      •  Then again, it might just be that some folks... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jdsnebraska

        ...think words and phrases are important, and that the term "police state" means something pretty damn specific in this day and age.

        "...even amnesia, if prolonged, can become as dreary as one's old life." - Walker Percy

        by turnover on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 01:00:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You ask if it matters what labeles we use. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    turnover, bogieshadow

    Yes it does matter. It matters because words matter. We do have a problem with police militarization. We do have a problem with  pols who want us to be more authoritarian.

    We have plenty of issues in this country that need addressing. But they won't be addressed if people turn away because of hyperbolic statements.

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:49:37 PM PDT

    •  It seems that you spend more time lecturing ppl (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radmul

      about there language than you do actually being outraged by the problems listed.   I wish both sides would drop the labels and address the matters at hand.  

      •  Dr Frist called. (0+ / 0-)

        He said that trying to diagnose someone you know nothing about is a bad idea.

        Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

        by Mike S on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:57:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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