Sunday, August 17, 2014

African Americans vs. "evil rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places" (aka rich Republicans and / or neo-conservatives [including their Democratic sychophants], and hangers-on) . . .

Well, I've read Orwell's 1984, was in the deep South during the race riots that began in Greensboro, NC, February 1, 1960, and in the late '70s (early '80s?), read and have an affinity with Paul Feyerabend 's general description of the “political process” (see below). 1

From these perspectives, the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO the past few days (since the “police” [four different police forces have been involved] shooting of an unarmed teenager there on August 9, 2014) underscore the questions asked in my last blog entry (July 9, 2014 “My response to John Whiteheads June 10, 2014 ‘guest column’” on Paul Craig Roberts' Institute for Political Economy WWW site) and further provide examples in line with analogies in the rest of the world as exclamation points.

Before we begin with a 9 minute 37 second news clip of the St. Louis County Police Department's “infantry battalion” response? on the evening of August 13 to the concerned citizens of Ferguson, MO “testifying for” their right to know and understand the background behind the killing of the unarmed teenager, I would like to point out that “testifying for” is the meaning of the word “protest.”  And that as we continue our journey on the way to peace, we place ourselves in a position of psychological disadvantage if we use the word “protest” because it has been tainted with a negative connotation by the military-industrial-CIA-corporate-educational-FBI-financial-media-medical-NSA-police-political-prison-Secret-Service-terrorism-expert complex (or “hero system”). 2

St. Louis County Police Open Fire on Peacefully Testifying Neighbors (news clip)

Before looking at the demographics (which are certain to have some impact) of the social problems presented by this situation, I mentioned Paul Feyerabend's general description of the “political process” above:

The way in which social problems, problems of energy distribution, ecology,
education, care for the old and so on are ‘solved’ in our societies can be roughly
described in the following way.  A problem arises.  Nothing is done about it.
People get concerned.  Politicians broadcast this concern.  Experts are called in.
They develop a plan or a variety of plans.  Power-groups with experts of their
own effect various modifications until a watered down version is accepted and
realized.  The role of experts in this process has gradually increased.  Intellectuals
have developed theories about the application of science to social problems.
‘To get ideas’ they ask other intellectuals, or politicians.  Only rarely does it
occur to them that it is not their business but the business of those immediately
concerned to decide the matter.  They simply take it for granted that their
ideas and those of their colleagues are the only important ones and that people
have to adapt to them.
” 3

As Mike Summer points out in his diary (read the comments to his diary also), the Normandy School District (a merger of two of the poorest, most heavily minority populations ‐ Normandy and Wellston ‐ around St. Louis) has a poverty rate of 92% (Wellston's poverty rate is 98% and 100% minority). 4

How much does a box of Swisher Sweets cost?  A 60 count box for $21.99 at Good Luck Wholesale ($44.00 - $50.00 retail).  What would be the selling price in the “black” market for one of those cigarillos?  $1.50?  $2.50?  There must have been a market! 5  Though as Hunter's diary suggests, why are we even dwelling on this question?

More interesting is the “politics” of the school district (stay with me through Mike's description):

“. . . [T]he state education board voted to merge the districts in 2010 (the first change to state school district boundaries in thirty-five years).  Plagued by white flight, crashing property values that destroyed tax revenues, and a loss of state funds as the better‐off residents of the area sent their children to private schools, the resulting district is short of everything.  Residents of the district voted again and again to raise their own property taxes, until their rates were actually the highest in the state, but a higher percentage of nothing was still nothing, and district revenues trended steadily down.

After the merger, the state board proceeded with the next step in their plan.  In 2012, they rated Normandy as a failed district, removed its accreditation, and placed it under direct state control.  The idea was to reform the district to the state board's design, only there was one problem:  the Missouri State Supreme Court ruled that students in a failed district had the right to go to other districts.  Hundreds of Normandy students signed up to do just that, heading for classrooms in surrounding districts, some of which were majority white.  At first, this generated tension.

News of the Supreme Court's upholding of the transfer law initially sparked anger
and fear among some white Francis Howell parents.

“I deserve to not have to worry about my children getting stabbed, or taking a
drug, or getting robbed,” one mother said during a school board meeting,
referring to the prospective arrival of Normandy students.

“We don't want this here in Francis Howell,” another parent said.

But for the most part that attitude didn't last.  Normandy students settled in at their new districts, and despite a financial drain ‐ Normandy had to cover the cost of transportation and pay tuition to the other districts for those students who transferred ‐ things seemed on an upswing in the district.

“...the remaining students and school community came together to celebrate
a spirit of new beginnings.  They held pep rallies and welcome‐back‐to‐school
gatherings.  Students at Normandy High School said they began tutoring each
other to improve the school's academic ranking...

“Indeed, walking the halls of Normandy High School at the beginning of the
school year, there was a sense of optimism despite the dire state of things.

Well, you know what they say about optimists.

Funding the transfer students was costing the district more than it cost to educate students within the district.  Part of that was transportation, but most of it was the simple fact that other districts spent far more on their students than the poverty‐stricken Normandy district.

The state board of education took over the district's finances, but rather than providing a new stream of revenue, they figured out a simple way to reduce costs:

“On Friday afternoon, the board met in a hastily called meeting to change
Normandy's accreditation status ‐‐ or at least how that accreditation is
described.  Normandy now has ‘accreditation as a state oversight district,’
the revised June minutes now read.

Get that?  The state board, which had taken away the accreditation, now argued that Normandy was accredited, magically, without having the district actually meet any of the standards they had set.  How did that happen?

“The Missouri State Board of Education, pursuant to its statutory authority
to waive its rules, including those regulating accreditation, has accredited
the Normandy Schools Collaborative and thus its schools, the state's motion
to the court says.  Because of that accreditation, the Plaintiffs are not entitled
to relief . . . .”

The school is now accredited because the board has the right to ignore the law the board claimed it was enforcing in the first place, and parents now have no right to transfer their kids to another district ... because the school is accredited.

Naturally, the case is headed back to court.  And if the accreditation by decree isn't enough for you, there's another bit of magic applied by the board.  That transfer law?  It only applies to school districts.  But see, Normandy Schools are no longer in a school district.  Normandy schools are now in a special collaborative and, according to the state board, “are not in any district in this state.”  So there you go.  You can't transfer from a district if you're not in a district, and if you happen to be in a district, it's magically accredited.  Problem solved.

So, who actually runs the school district that Michael Brown attended?  Well, the president of the board of education is Peter F. Herschend of Branson, Missouri.  Herschend isn't a former teacher, or a former principal, and doesn't have any training in the education field.  He's the owner of Herschend Family Entertainment, which runs Silver Dollar City in Branson (amongst other amusement parks) and owns the Harlem Globetrotters.  He's also one of the biggest contributors to the Republican Party in the state.

So, when you're wondering who runs Michael Brown's school district ‐ when you're wondering who's in control of an urban, minority district so poor that a student has to steal a bunch of cigarillos to survive ‐ it's a white Republican millionaire from out state.”

Finally, at the Federal level, it is interesting to note that the St Louis County Police Chief was amongst a host of other county police chiefs from around the country who have attended counter-terrorism training in Israel6

Lately the words of Amos to Israel from the Hebrew Original Witnessing (echoed by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Haggai to Judah) have been ringing clear:  “Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar and stomp righteousness into the mud.  Do you realize where you are?  . . .  People hate this kind of talk.  Raw truth is never popular.  But here it is, bluntly spoken:  Because you run roughshod over the poor and take the bread right out of their mouths, you're never going to move into the luxury homes you have built.  You're never going to drink wine from the expensive vineyards you've planted. . . .  Justice is a lost cause.  Evil is epidemic.  Decent people throw up their hands.  Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath. . . .  Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square. . . .  Go out into the streets and lament loudly!  Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom!  Weep loudly, ‘Not me!  Not us!  Not now!’  Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces.  Enlist everyone in the general lament. . . .  I can't stand your religious meetings.  I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.  I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.  I'm sick of your fund‐raising schemes, your public relations and image making. . . .  Do you know what I want?  I want justice ‐ oceans of it.  I want fairness ‐ rivers of it.  That's what I want.  That's all I want.


To tell the truth - what a tangled web we weave!

1  The quoted reference in the subject of this blog post is to a verse in the Christian Belated Witnessing ‐ Ephesians 6:12.  As Paul Craig Roberts writes, “The only exceptional thing about the US is the extent of the evil that resides in Washington, D.C.”  In addition, see his “On the Brink of War and Economic Collapse”.  While outside “the Beltway,” consider what U. S. Marine General Smedley Butler said of his service in Central America, “I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General.  And during that period I spent most of my time being a high‐class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers.  In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”

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2  Peace is war for the neo-conservatives (Project for the New American Century) and their puppet in the White House (Cf. for examples, Dr. Cornel West [Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary] on the “Niggerization of America” and “Going Off on Obama” and my more recent blog entry based on a reference on Paul Craig Robert's Institute for Political Economy blog to Thad Beversdorf's recent analysis, in addition to the "Nuclear Vault" in the National Security Archive at George Washington University, and David Keen's Useful Enemies:  When Waging Wars is More Important than Winning Them ‐ “PNAC Historical Documentation and even Democrats enamored with all things Russian . . . not admitting The Most Essential Lessons of History”; also see the items for the August 29th, December 18th, and May 4th “Updates” at the conclusion of this blog post.)

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3  Science in a Free Society [London, England:  NLB, 1978], pp. 117 ff.  For an even more realistic view (taking into account the importance of money in the media / political process) see Bill Moyer's interview with Marty Kaplan (Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California) “Big Money's Effect on Big Media”.

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4  See the 2010 Census Block Data graphic for St. Louis, MO.  Click here for further information on the methodology.  Cf. the recent New Yorker cover and Jessie Hagopian's blog on what can be called the “school-to-prison vs. school-to-grave” pipeline for African-American children.  And, remember “the Angola 3” (see also one or more of the three documentary films “In The Land of the Free”, “Hard Time”, and “Herman's House”).

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5 See the more recent strangling death of a black person (Eric Garner) by a white police officer here and also here for selling cigarettes!

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6 Again, in case you missed it from its reference in footnote 2, see for deep background, my more recent blog entry based on a reference on Paul Craig Robert's Institute for Political Economy blog to Thad Beversdorf's recent analysis, in addition to the "Nuclear Vault" in the National Security Archive at George Washington University, and David Keen's Usefull Enemies:  When Waging Wars is More Important than Winning Them ‐ “PNAC Historical Documentation and even Democrats enamored with all things Russian . . . not admitting The Most Essential Lessons of History”!

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7 For a beginning look at how the suborner “handled” the grand jury process see Questions No One Asked!

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8 For additional insightful background on The Trial, see Jacques Derrida's article “Before the Law” in his Acts of Literature; see also (if you can find it in English translation) his Force of Law:  The Mystical Foundation of Authority, 1990.

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