Whitehead: Enough Is Enough – If You Really Want To Save Lives, Take Aim At Government Violence

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

Enough is enough.

That was the refrain chanted over and over by the thousands of demonstrators who gathered to protest gun violence in America.

On March 24, 2018, more than 200,000 young people took the time to march on Washington DC and other cities across the country to demand that their concerns about gun violence be heard.

More power to them.

I’m all for activism, especially if it motivates people who have been sitting silently on the sidelines for too long to get up and try to reclaim control over a runaway government.

Curiously, however, although these young activists were vocal in calling for gun control legislation that requires stricter background checks and limits the kinds of weapons being bought and sold by members of the public, they were remarkably silent about the gun violence perpetrated by their own government.

Why is no one taking aim at the U.S. government as the greatest purveyor of violence in American society and around the world?

As journalist Celisa Calacal recognizes, “It is often the case that police shootings, incidents where law enforcement officers pull the trigger on civilians, are left out of the conversation on gun violence. But a police officer shooting a civilian counts as gun violence. Every time an officer uses a gun against an innocent or an unarmed person contributes to the culture of gun violence in this country.”

Enough is enough.

The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

Violence has become our government’s calling card, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans to the military’s endless wars abroad.

Indeed, the day before thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington DC to protest mass shootings such as the one that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School, President Trump signed into law a colossal $1.3 trillion spending bill that gives the military the biggest boost in spending in more than a decade.

With more than $700 billion earmarked for the military, including $144.3 billion for new military equipment, you can be sure this financial windfall for America’s military empire will be used to expand the police state here at home.

This will put more militarized guns and weapons in the hands of local police and government bureaucrats who have been trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

Enough is enough.

Remember, it was just a few months ago that President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions, rolled back restrictions on the government’s military recycling program to the delight of the nation’s powerful police unions.

Under the auspices of this military “recycling” program, which was instituted decades ago, more than $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies.

There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines.

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons have become routine parts of America’s day-to-day life. As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, “Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Thanks to Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse.

Get ready for more militarized police.

More police shootings. More SWAT team raids.

More violence in a culture already drenched with violence.

Enough is enough.

You want to talk about gun violence?

According to the Washington Post,1 in 13 people killed by guns are killed by police.”

Growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed by police for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Enough is enough.

With alarming regularity, unarmed men, women, children and even pets are being gunned down by twitchy, hyper-sensitive, easily-spooked police officers who shoot first and ask questions later.

Americans are being shot and killed by police…

For standing in a “shooting stance.”

For holding a cell phone.

For carrying a baseball bat.

For opening the front door.

For running towards police with a metal spoon.

For running while holding a tree branch.

For crawling around naked.

For wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey.

For driving while deaf.

For being homeless.

For brandishing a shoehorn.

For having your car break down on the road.

For holding a garden hose.

For calling 911.

For looking for a parking spot.

This is what passes for policing in America today, folks, and it’s only getting worse.

That police chose to fatally resolve these encounters by using their guns on fellow citizens speaks volumes about what is wrong with policing in America today, where police officers are being dressed in the trappings of war, drilled in the deadly art of combat, and trained to look upon “every individual they interact with as an armed threat and every situation as a deadly force encounter in the making.”

Enough is enough.

You want to save lives?

Start by doing something to save the lives of your fellow citizens who are being gunned down every day by police who are trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

You want to cry about the lives lost during mass shootings?

Cry about the lives lost as a result of the violence being perpetrated by the U.S. government here at home and abroad.

If gun control activists really want the country to reconsider its relationship with guns and violence, then it needs to start with a serious discussion about the role our government has played and continues to play in contributing to the culture of violence.

If the American people are being called on to scale back on their weapons, then as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government and its cohorts – the police, the various government agencies that are now armed to the hilt, the military, the defense contractors, etc. – need to do the same.

It’s time to put an end to the government’s reign of terror.

Enough is enough.

The Occupations Growing The Fastest Since The Recession

The U.S. had its most recent recession between December 2007 and June 2009. Even 10 years since it began, the country’s job market is still feeling its impact.

Some states have recovered well from the recession but, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy points out, others are still struggling today and seven of them had fewer jobs in 2017 than 2007, according to CareerBuilder data.

That’s despite the nation as a whole having around 6.7 million more jobs in 2017 than 2007. The list of states with fewer jobs last year included Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Connecticut, Wyoming and Illinois.

CareerBuilder’s research also revealed the occupations that are thriving since the end of the recession.

Infographic: The Occupations Growing The Fastest Since The Recession | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

The fastest rates of growth were seen among home health aide positions with almost 300,000 jobs added between 2007 and 2017.

During the same time period, web development jobs grew 38 percent while veterinary technologist and technicians went up 32 percent.

Escobar: Will The Putin-Xi Era Supersede The Western Liberal (Dis)Order?

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Perhaps a Confucian path would be the right direction toward Eurasian integration

The Chinese constitutional amendment allowing Xi Jinping the possibility of further presidential terms – staying in power long enough to bring “national rejuvenation” combined with the Russian election re-confirming Vladimir Putin in the presidency have assured consistency and continuity for the Russia-China strategic partnership way into the next decade.

This will facilitate the interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EEAU); policy coordination inside the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS and the G-20; and the overall drive towards Eurasia integration.

The strengthening of what should be viewed as the Putin-Xi era could not but render Western liberals – and neoliberals – absolutely livid.

Capitalist interests have always believed their own propaganda narrative, which directly links capitalist expansion with the inevitable spread of democracy.

Critical thinking is, at last, debunking it as a grand illusion.

What in fact happened since the early 1980s was that Western turbo-capitalism avidly profited from a variation of neo-slave labor in China’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Compound it with the proverbial hubris of Western elites betting that China — regarded at best as a source of cheap labor as well as an enfeebled Russia during the 1990s would never accumulate enough know-how to challenge the West, geoeconomically and geopolitically.

The historical record is implacable, showing there’s no connection whatsoever between “free” trade – usually freer for those with extra economic heft and political liberalization. For instance, the Prussian monarchy lowered trade barriers and that led to the creation of the Zollverein in 1834. And the Third Reich between 1933 and 1938 offered a heady mix of hardcore capitalism and totalitarianism.

China’s system, where a (Marxist) party controls the state for the purposes of national cohesion certainly does not qualify as a liberal democracy. Dissenter Minxin Pei, the author of  China’s Trapped Transition, already knew 12 years ago that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would never go the Western liberal democracy way (Pei did understand Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping’s commands to the letter).

He got it right that China has “no interest in becoming a member of the [Western] club. They want the economic benefits from the Western liberal order but reject its political values and fear its security alliances. Now they are in a strong enough position attempting to build their own clubhouse.

What Pei got wrong is that the CCP would smother China’s economic growth (“The prospect of a Japanese-like stagnation is real.”) Xi Jinping and his new dream team need enough time to successfully tweak the Chinese economic model.

Away from childish 24/7 demonization, the fact is Russia today is a democracy, albeit imperfect. And it’s important to analyze how a young democracy can be manipulated. The third chapter of new book Manifest-Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance details the rape of Russia; how Boris Yeltsin’s “free market reforms” facilitated by the “Harvard boys” allowed a small coterie of billionaire oligarchs — Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich among them — to take over an economy suffering from shock therapy.

Between 1991 and 1997 Russian GDP collapsed by a whopping 83% while investment into the economy fell by 92%.

The case of Khodorkovsky is emblematic. Through Yukos, he owned key Siberian oil fields and was about to sell them all to Western corporate interests back in 2003 when Putin went after him. There’s no question this was avidly studied by the Beijing leadership. Control of key national resources is the ultimate red line.

For Putin as well as Xi, the supreme arbiter is the national state, not a bunch of oligarchs like it’s become a norm across the liberal and neoliberal West. On a BRICS level, compare it with the current usurper installed in the Brazilian presidency, who’s doing his best to hand over most of the pre-salt oil reserves as well as aviation giant Embraer to foreign interests.

When in doubt, ask Confucius

It has become a ritual for guardians of the Western establishment to weep hard about the “fading liberal world order.” At least some admit it is “neither liberal nor worldwide nor orderly.”

Lesser guardians may be more realistic, noting how Western politicians have been completely bypassed by popular anger in myriad latitudes, yet still believing it’s possible to “rebuild democracy’s moral foundations.”

It’s not — not under the predominant neoliberal creed, the post-mod TINA (there is no alternative). The guardians, left and right, cannot possibly understand the rise of populism — because those under the populist influence clearly see how the myths of “rule of law” and “national sovereignty” are fast dissolving in the mud. The guardians at best mourn, nostalgically, “the loss of elite influence.”

China, Russia, Iran and Turkey  – all implicated in Eurasia integration  – may all rank as authoritarian systems at different levels. And cases can be made that, with the exception of China they still underperform economically compared to their true potential.

Yet one thing they value most of all is national sovereignty amid a multipolar system. That’s their conceptual counterpoint to the il(liberal) world (dis)order. That’s their answer to TINA.

As for “the loss of elite influence,” that’s code for a self-described coterie of the wealthy and powerful claiming a fuzzy democracy moral high ground which only unmasks their deep fear as the Western unipolar moment dissolves sooner rather than later.

All these contradictions are in sharp relief when we look at the European Union. The EU, since the Maastricht treaty, has been steered into becoming what Angela Merkel herself defined as Bundesrepublik Europa — the Federal Republic of Europe.

Anyone familiar with Brussels knows how those waves of tax-free Eurocrats milk an ultra-centralized and bureaucratically Kafkaesque regulation system as they remain completely out of touch with normal, real-life Europeans.

The EU’s notion of promoting “economic integration”  including heavy doses of austerity could not be more anti-democratic.

Add to it scandals at top state level that do nothing but corrode the belief in the primacy of the Western liberal democracy model. The latest involves the real possibility that Colonel Gaddafi probably financed the 2007 Sarkozy presidential campaign in France; an outstandingly murky affair featuring the politics of energy, the politics of water, and the proverbial major weapons contracts through which Western liberal democracies discard any moral high ground.

Now compare it with Xi Jinping as hexin lingdao (the nucleus of the leadership) a sort of primus inter pares in a Sinified version of Plato’s Republic. Greek-Roman-Enlightenment political theory is not the only game in town anymore. Yet not a chance the hubristic West will start listening to Confucius.