Kingdom of Shadows–the aftermath

I spent the last three days watching Bernardo Ruiz’s Kingdom of Shadows at the SXSW movie festival in Austin. I appear in the film, along with a nun from Monterrey, Mexico and an agent from the Department of Homeland Security in El Paso.

After screenings, we took questions from the audience, but sessions were too short to adequately address issues related to the subject matter of the film—the effect of drugs and drug prohibition on our societies.

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Class and the Classroom

How Elite Universities Are Hurting America

Foreign Affairs, By George Scialabba, March / April 2015

One of the most fruitful ideas to emerge from twentieth-century social theory is Max Weber’s notion of the “iron cage” of purposive rationality. Weber argued that once some principle of organization—market competition, say, or ideological orthodoxy—has achieved dominance in the spheres of production and governance, the rest of a society’s institutions find themselves gradually but inexorably adopting the same principle. In an ideology-dominant society, everything fluid turns to stone; in a market-dominant society, everything solid melts into air.

Not everything, of course. The iron cage is, like most other useful theoretical notions, an ideal type. All societies retain protected (or neglected) spaces where not-yet-rationalized traditions and communities flourish. Still, although the mills of rationalization turn slowly, they grind exceedingly fine. In time, Weber believed, every practice or institution in a modern society, regardless of its original purpose, experiences an irresistible pressure to adapt to the society’s fundamental organizing principle.

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The Other Reason

In the history of the United States, only three Presidents have ever been elected to the office of President of the United States directly out of the US Senate.

Of those, only Barack Obama failed to complete his first term (ironically, the other two, Warren Harding and John Kennedy, were elected as their first term in the Senate was ending.)

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H Clinton’s Rebuttal

McClatchy, By Anita Kumar, March 10

While 47 Republican Senators are lecturing the world about the role of the President in making treaties, H Clinton is decidedly more interesting if you judge by the amount of airtime and column-space given her story on the news.

(Per McClatchy):

Clinton said she turned over about 30,000 work emails, none with classified material, to the State Department after destroying another 30,000 private emails that were “not in any way related to my work.” She said those included correspondence about her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s funeral, yoga routines and family vacations.

“No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy,” she said. “I didn’t see any reason to keep them.

My bet is the NSA has every one of those “destroyed” emails and is sharing them with Benghazi Brigade in Congress. And I will bet they will surface, possibly including the ones the President sent her. It wouldn’t surprise me if the President’s were subpoenaed.

And I will further bet that nobody is going to talk the Logan Act to 47 Republican Senators.

Ah, yes, it is undoubtedly better to look forward than to look back. I can hear the President now…..

American Spring in Chicago

Rahm Emanuel, the Face of Democratic Fascism, Deserves to Lose

By William Boardman – Reader Supported News (3.5.15)

Police-state challenge could nurture democracy and an American Spring

Chicago’s mayoral election may look like a local event, and the media mostly cover it as a local event, but the presence of a large, diverse, and energized opposition demanding change on basic issues of fairness and justice gives the city’s local result a potentially important, totemic meaning for the country. The winner of the April 7 runoff election may signify whether peaceful change is possible, or whether the suffocating status quo will grow more stifling.

There is another way of gauging the April vote: is Chicago yet ready to reject the police state practices of its local government? Is Chicago ready to reject a mayor who seems content to allow police state behavior to go unexamined and unpunished? Will Chicago be where a majority of Americans finally confront the nationwide plague of police hate and violence that makes the term “American justice” an oxymoron?
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Take a Deep Breath Before Reading What Follows

Normally I prefer to wait a day or two before posting about any news item.  More than likely there is more information to follow, and time allows for a more judicious interpretation of events.  Not today.  Not with something I read this afternoon.  Here is the text of a letter sent today from the U.S. Senate to Ayatollah Khamenei and other senior leaders of Iran.  The letter was signed by 47 Republican Senators.


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Overdue Justice for Ferguson, Missouri

For related articles by Numerian on the Ferguson racial crisis, see America’s Police on Trial, and The Cycle of Fear in Ferguson, Missouri, both posted on the website.
The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has released its report on the causes behind the civil disturbances last year in Ferguson, Missouri.  This is a long overdue contribution to the national discussion on race and municipal policing strategies and tactics.  During last year’s protests in Ferguson, several reporters wrote about what appeared to be a side issue: the propensity of the Ferguson city authorities to use the police force and the municipal court as a money-raising mechanism, which relied on harassment to enforce its fines and penalties liberally bestowed upon the African-American population of Ferguson.  This side issue turns out to be the main focus of the Department of Justice report. The report turns attention away from Officer Darren Wilson, who was exonerated by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations, based on what the FBI learned about the shooting of Michael Brown.  The evidence suggests that Officer Wilson was responding reasonably to a threat to his life.  The attention instead turns to the municipal practices in Ferguson which pressured the police department to harass African-Americans as a matter of routine.  City authorities put no constraints on police behavior, and had no concern for community safety standards.  Instead, the police department, and the municipal court system, were turned into profit centers, with business-like monthly targets for revenue generation.  Here is what the report reveals:

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H Clinton and Government Servers

The Republicans are drilling into the issue of whether H Clinton’s government email should have been kept on a personal computer server.

I think this is a valid concern. I didn’t think anyone in government service anywhere was permitted to do this, so the whole idea never crossed my mind before. CBS News said tonight that President Obama signed an order recently (but after Clinton had departed her post at State) requiring the use of official networks and so forth.

I am not sure if there is any connection between that action and H Clinton’s disclosures, but it would not surprise me. Peter Van Buren at Firedoglake points out how unusual it is to have an ex-government official totally in charge of releasing government documents to the government. The nearest example I could think of would be Presidential Libraries withholding papers, but I believe the Library of Congress /National Archives has some hand in vetting them. At it isn’t like Sandy Berger or anybody else stealing from government’s classified documents either. Clinton’s position seems to be different. Very different.

We are in the early stages of this story, so I cannot predict where the evidence will take us; however, the whole situation has a bad smell.

And as to her Presidential aspirations, I think she just ruined them.