Mychal Denzel Smith at The Nation writes What Matters in Ferguson:
Michael Brown was shot and killed by an officer of the Ferguson, Missouri, police department. This is what matters.John McWhorter at The New Republic is right with his There Is Only One Real Way to Prevent Future Fergusons: End the War on Drugs, but that is only one crucial piece of the solution:
The name of the officer has been released (it’s Darren Wilson, who has been on the force for six years), alongside allegations that Brown was involved in a robbery. This does not matter.
It doesn’t matter because people accused of robbery should not be shot. It doesn’t matter because people who put their hands up in surrender should not be shot. It doesn’t matter because a body should not lie in the streets for hours after being shot by a police officer.
Michael Brown was shot and killed by an officer of the Ferguson, Missouri, police department. Everything else is irrelevant.
It is impossible not to conclude that what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson is now status quo, not a teaching lesson to move us forward.More pundit excerpts are below the fold.
Last week’s events must seen in view not just of the entire history of black people in the United States, as many have suggested, but also in view of, well, last summer. The protests in the wake of the exoneration of George Zimmerman included the exact same kinds of expressions of dismay, fear, and rage, and more importantly, claims that this time was “it,” that black America was “fed up,” complete with furious empathy on the part of much of white America. [...]
It might as well have been ten minutes ago, especially as all of it is instantly viewable on line. And yet here we are.
Charles C. Mann at The Atlantic How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen:
How is one supposed to respond to this kind of news? On the one hand, the transformation of the Antarctic seems like an unfathomable disaster. On the other hand, the disaster will never affect me or anyone I know; nor, very probably, will it trouble my grandchildren. How much consideration do I owe the people it will affect, my 40-times-great-grandchildren, who, many climate researchers believe, will still be confronted by rising temperatures and seas? Americans don’t even save for their own retirement! How can we worry about such distant, hypothetical beings?Frida Berrigan at In These Times writes that opposition will not end despite the July 10 New York case in which Judge Jails Anti-Drone Granny:
In our ergonomic chairs and acoustical-panel cubicles, we sit cozy as kings atop 300 years of flaming carbon.
Worse, confronting climate change requires swearing off something that has been an extraordinary boon to humankind: cheap energy from fossil fuels. In the 3,600 years between 1800 B.C. and 1800 A.D., the economic historian Gregory Clark has calculated, there was “no sign of any improvement in material conditions” in Europe and Asia. Then came the Industrial Revolution. Driven by the explosive energy of coal, oil, and natural gas, it inaugurated an unprecedented three-century wave of prosperity. Artificial lighting, air-conditioning, and automobiles, all powered by fossil fuels, swaddle us in our giddy modernity. In our ergonomic chairs and acoustical-panel cubicles, we sit cozy as kings atop 300 years of flaming carbon.
“This has got to stop.”Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers at Popular Resistance and Alternet write Ferguson Exposes the Reality Of Militarized, Racist Policing:
Judge David Gideon’s words refer not to the use of drones, but the activities of anti-drone activists. He has uttered this phrase from the bench repeatedly in recent months as activists have appeared before him, and the words must have been echoing through his mind as he sentenced Mary Anne Grady Flores, a 58-year-old grandmother from Ithaca, New York, to one year in prison on July 10. Her crime? Participating in a nonviolent anti-drone protest at an upstate New York military base after being ordered by the local courts to stay away from the site. The base is used to train drone pilots and technicians, and to control drone surveillance and strikes in Afghanistan and elsewhere. [...]
The Empire State is not the only community organizing against drone bases. In June, a robust coalition in Michigan organized a 163-mile walk from Chicago to Battle Creek, Michigan, to raise awareness about the establishment of a new node of drone flights there. Battle Creek, the home city of Kellogg’s, has been nicknamed Cereal City, but local activist Joanna Learner warned in an open letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that the drone base could earn the city a new nickname: “The Serial (Killing) City.” More than a hundred people participated in the 12-day walk, many of them first-time activists.
Meanwhile, anti-drone organizers around the world are coordinating their efforts, declaring October 4 the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing.
The public reaction to the event has been immense. On Thursday evening protests were held from coast-to-coast expressing solidarity with the people of Ferguson and grief for the death of Michael Brown and the deaths of others across the nation killed by police. There are now increasing calls for the demilitarization of the police by the Attorney General and elected officials. And, the DOJ has announced a broad review of police practices that lead to deadly force. People are taking action pressuring the DOJ to act, see: Tell The Department of Justice to end racist and militaristic policing.Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive asks 10 Questions about Obama’s Iraq Bombing:
This is a teachable moment and an opportunity to advance the cause of transforming the police. Hundreds of thousands of Americans watched events unfold in Ferguson. They saw the police tear gassing a community in mourning, firing at them with rubber bullets and using sound canons to disperse them. They saw military-style police chase them into neighborhoods where they continued to fire tear gas and rubber bullets. They saw reporters abused and arrested as a SWAT team took over a McDonald’s where they were reporting from and other reporters attacked with tear gas and then the police dismantling the journalist’s equipment.
1. Is it constitutional? Only Congress has the right to declare war. Under what authority is President Obama sending U.S. warplanes back to Iraq?Paul Krugman at The New York Times writes Why We Fight Wars, which no doubt will prompt right-wing complaints that he is mixing economics with politics, as if those have ever in the history of humankind been separate phenomena:
3. Is the bombing legal under international law? The U.N. charter says that no country can attack another country except in self-defense. The Islamic States, as repulsive as it is, has not attacked the United States.
4. If U.S. personnel at our embassy or in our consulates are in danger in Iraq, as Obama has said, why not pull them out instead of sending in the bombers? [...]
8. President Obama on August 9 said, “Ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq. The United States can’t do it for them. ... Ultimately there’s not going to be an American military solution to this problem.” Well, then, how long is “ultimately”?
Once upon a time wars were fought for fun and profit; when Rome overran Asia Minor or Spain conquered Peru, it was all about the gold and silver. And that kind of thing still happens. In influential research sponsored by the World Bank, the Oxford economist Paul Collier has shown that the best predictor of civil war, which is all too common in poor countries, is the availability of lootable resources like diamonds. Whatever other reasons rebels cite for their actions seem to be mainly after-the-fact rationalizations. War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a contest among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles.Charles Blow at The New York Times writes Frustration in Ferguson:
If you’re a modern, wealthy nation, however, war—even easy, victorious war—doesn’t pay. And this has been true for a long time. In his famous 1910 book “The Great Illusion,” the British journalist Norman Angell argued that “military power is socially and economically futile.” As he pointed out, in an interdependent world (which already existed in the age of steamships, railroads, and the telegraph), war would necessarily inflict severe economic harm even on the victor. Furthermore, it’s very hard to extract golden eggs from sophisticated economies without killing the goose in the process.
Yes, there are the disturbingly repetitive and eerily similar circumstances of many cases of unarmed black people being killed by police officers. This reinforces black people’s beliefs—supportable by actual data—that blacks are treated less fairly by the police.Farai Chideya at The Guardian On race, America has far to go. Ferguson won't be the last flash point:
But I submit that this is bigger than that. The frustration we see in Ferguson is about not only the present act of perceived injustice but also the calcifying system of inequity— economic, educational, judicial—drawn largely along racial lines.
In 1951, Langston Hughes began his poem “Harlem” with a question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” Today, I must ask: What happens when one desists from dreaming, when the very exercise feels futile?
I spent my very early years in New York, living a very multiracial Sesame Street life, a big swinging bellbottom of a childhood. And then our family moved to Baltimore and the iron curtain of the "colour line" fell. I felt that I had moved from the 1970s through a time warp where black and white were the only two colours and never the twain shall socially meet. [...]William D. Hartung at the Los Angeles Times writes Time to rein in the Pentagon's mysterious slush fund:
America has never had one racial reality, but a series of them strung together from San Antonio to Pittsburgh to Appalachia. What we are seeing in Ferguson, Missouri, is the result of life in a specific type of heavily racialised zone. Yes, a city such as New York, where a black man was recently choked to death by police officers, has its own very clear forms of racialisation and it's a national issue. But the police killing, last week, of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen in Ferguson has sparked national protests because it represents a specific type of racialisation. This is of the majority black city, big or small, with a white economic and political power structure.
As if monitoring the Pentagon's enormous budget were not difficult enough, every year Congress also has to deal with a separate war budget. Known in Washington-ese as the Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, account, it is submitted separately. It was originally meant to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has grown into an all-purpose funding mechanism for almost anything the Pentagon wants. [...]
The ultimate proof that the OCO budget is threatening to become a permanent repository for unneeded projects and bad ideas is this item: the president's proposed $5-billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, $4 billion of which would go to the Pentagon to “support increased partner capacity building … and increase the department's flexibility in responding to emerging crises.” It's hard to find a broader definition than that. [...]
For once, Congress is paying attention. Members of the House Armed Services Committee from both parties have denounced the administration's OCO request as a slush fund. And Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) and others have questioned whether the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund will make it too easy for the president to go to war.