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Strip Search My Ass

By Dennis Loo (4/3/12)

As Reuters’ report concludes about the Supreme Court’s decision today in the Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington decision that jailers may now carry out strip searches on arrestees no matter how minor their arrest charge, including traffic offenses:

“Jail strip searches are legal so long as the searched individuals are going to be placed in the general prison population. The underlying offense and the reason for the search are pretty much irrelevant.”

“Pretty much irrelevant.”

It used to be that the government had to at least claim that there had reason to suspect you. Now they don’t have to even claim to be acting reasonably. Now it’s the law that they can treat everyone as if you’re a dangerous criminal.

This is more evidence of the trend – public order policies - that I write about in Globalization and the Demolition of Society:

“Magnus Hornqvist observed in the ‘Birth of Public Order Policy’ in 2004:

Over the last twenty years, the nature of the rule of law and the basis on which nation states employ force has been changing fundamentally. The distinction between what is criminal, to be dealt with by the legal and justice system, and what creates a ‘perception of insecurity’—formerly to be dealt with by social policy—is being erodedat both the macro (‘war on terror’) and micro (‘public order’) levels. This paves the way for the unbridled use of state force, in the first instance, and the criminalisation of behaviours that are not necessarily illegal, in the second. Fear becomes a controlling mechanism for the maintenance of the social order and any element of non-conformity isconstrued as a threat.

“The ratcheting up of social control measures in alleged response to terrorism occurred before 9/11 and the various incidents that are commonly cited as lead-up terrorist incidents to 9/11 (e.g., the February 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center; the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole in Yemen; the 2001 suicide bombing murder of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud). The discourse of fear, the criminalization of previously noncriminal behaviors (including constitutionally protected free speech and protest), the massive covert government and private corporate surveillance of lawful activities and persons, and the increasing incarceration rate, all began in earnest before 9/11 and the ‘War on Terror.’” (p. 146)

“Just as the meaning of terrorism has been expanded, so has the larger category of ‘crime,’ so that acts that have never been considered criminal are now being proscribed as suitable for police and other social-control agents to repress. As [Magnus] Hornqvist puts it: ‘”Crime,” writes the [EU] commission, as well as “crime in the strict sense” includes “anti-social conduct which, without necessarily being a criminal offence, can by its cumulative effect generate a climate of tension and insecurity.”’ …

“In the neoliberal world not only do physical characteristics matter, but behaviors, dress, class background, attitudes, and so on, can create a sense of ‘insecurity’ for others, justifying clampdowns. The law no longer represents the standard that people must abide by in order to avoid having police actions and prosecutions imposed upon them. The new standard is that one can be subjected to governmental or private social control measures simply for being a perceived threat or source of discomfort to someone. This undermining of the rule of law is being carried out across the full spectrum of bureaucratic and corporate purview and policy making from top to bottom. As Hornqvist puts it: ‘It may seem absurd that a single area of policy should cover everything from truancy and drug sales to acts of terror. But it is absurd only because so many of us have not yet learned to proceed from a concept of security that has broken away from the logic of the law.’ From this perspective, Bush and Cheney’s express violations of the rule of law are then not unique to them. They were merely on the cutting edge of that trajectory. And Obama’s perpetuation of their actions represents the further advance of that neoliberal project. This means that attempts to restore the rule of law will not succeed as a strategy separate from a fundamental challenge to the entire logic of the system itself.

“Reinterpreting protest and poverty as terrorism is a trend that stretches across continents and that includes all of the major political parties in the world’s nations. This explains what for many people is otherwise inexplicable: the perpetuation, further elaboration, and institutionalization under Democrat Barack Obama of the national security state measures that Bush and Cheney spearheaded. Obama and the Democratic Party leadership are continuing on the path that was already underway before Bush, dating back to the late 1970s. What Bush and Cheney did that was different was openly breach the wall of the rule of law. The sensitivity and momentousness of this breach explains why Obama ran on a platform of restoring the rule of law, restoring habeas corpus, and ending atrocities such as torture: Bush and Cheney’s practices had been so widely reviled and were so fundamental a rupture from the previous social contract of governments with their people that reviving people’s confidence in their government had to be done lest fracturing and resultant upheavals ensued. What Obama has in fact done has been the repackaging of these practices.” (Pp. 154-155)

An April's Recantation

By Dennis Loo (4/1/12)

Since Dick Cheney recently had a heart transplant, I think it’s appropriate that I also have a change of heart. Those things that I said about you Dick, those criticisms I aimed at you and W., for misleading the nation into wars, for engaging in torture, I mean, “alternative interrogation techniques,” for spying on every American and anyone communicating with Americans, for negating Congressional intent by hundreds of signing statements, for not coming to New Orleans' assistance sooner in the face of Katrina, for not addressing global warming and peak oil, I take it all back.

You were right and I was wrong: global warming’s a myth, New Orleans needed urban renewal by storm, those levees didn’t need maintenance and we so much more needed those marshes to be converted into golf courses for those of us who understand the really important things in life: golf, business power lunches, fine food and women, making deals and living high on the hog. The liberation of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Pakistan, the huge tax cuts to the wealthy, these are the things that you were spearheading and I didn’t see that what you were doing was really the right thing after all. Those people abroad really do love us and those people in those Occupy protests; they’re just a bunch of malcontents!

And my dear President Obama: those criticisms that I wrote about you starting from so early on, even before you became president, I take those back too. I said that you were not what so many people thought that you were, but they were right and I was wrong. You are the hope and change president. You have changed the way people perceive reality: when you say that you’re going to close Gitmo, you knew that people would think that you really meant this in your heart and soul and that if you ended up abandoning that promise, that they would still believe in your words and your secret intent to do the opposite of what you’ve actually been doing. Even now, you’re proving this to be true as people think that you will do things that you’ve been postponing from your first term. The drones that you first proposed to W. to use in Pakistan, the escalated use of them that has occurred under your term, the threats you made to use them against your daughters’ dates, the execution of Al-Alwaki and his 16-year-old son, the suspension of habeas corpus, the preventive indefinite detentions, the NDAA, the extension of the Bush tax cuts, the assertion of “sovereign immunity,” the further incursions on women’s abortion access and your suspension of the morning after pill for young girls, these are all wise measures and those who don’t understand how wise they are don’t understand the nature of empire. I see the light now. I was blinded by silly principles like the rule of law and morality. I understand now that the point is to say that you uphold the rule of law but that in the pursuit of terrorists we must override the rule of law. Morality is what we say it is.

I was wrong. You folks were right. I’m so sorry.

Kendrec McDade, Another Young Black Man, Gunned Down

Another Trayvon Martin...

By Dennis Loo (3/29/12)

As reported by the LA Times on March 29, 2012,

“[Kendrec] McDade, a football standout at Azusa High School who attended Citrus College, died of his injuries at Huntington Memorial Hospital [in Pasadena on Saturday, March 24, 2012]. Police spent the next two days looking for a gun or the stolen laptop computer, but said they found neither.”

How odd… you shoot down another young black man in cold blood, alleging that he was “making a move for his waistband;” you continue to claim that he was a robbery suspect; and yet you can find neither a gun nor a stolen laptop computer after searching the area for two days.

What a shock! No gun? Wasn’t there a throw down weapon handy in the police’s trunk to plant on this young black man that you have executed? What’s wrong with our police today? Budget cuts mean they don’t have throw down guns available?

And then you arrest the 911 caller on March 28, 2012, who alleged a gun in his alleged holdup, and blame him for it? No doubt he contributed, the bastard, but to say, as Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez claims: "The actions of the 911 caller set the minds of the officers” conveniently ignores the fact that the mindset of all too many police officers is that if you’re black and especially if you’re a young black male, then the officer is going to shoot first and ask questions (designed to distract from the facts and blame the victim) later.

The police say that McDade ran when he saw the officers pursuing him.

What do you think most black youth think when they see police chase after them?

It’s the slave owners’ thugs after the slaves again.

The historical roots of police departments in the south originate in runaway slave patrols who would recapture the ungrateful escaping slaves and bring them back to their paradise on the plantations.

This is why Richard Pryor said in his comic monologue that when he’s stopped by police in his car he says to them in an exaggeratedly slow and deliberate fashion: “I’m … reaching … into… my … pants .. now … to GET… my … WALLET.”

From the LA Times story again:

"Those who knew McDade said they cannot believe what happened.

"'He was a good kid who was never in trouble, never got suspended from school or anything like that,' said Joe Scherf, head football coach at Azusa High. 'His mother was always behind him, making sure he was doing the right thing. I remember she pulled him out of practice when he got a really bad grade.'"

Despite parents' best efforts to make sure that their kids do the right thing, this racist system that doesn't allow them to survive doesn't care. As far as they're concerned, you're black and therefore you're a target.

Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12