Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eric Holder's crime speech ignores most important issues

Eric Holder's speech about crime and sentencing disparities comes way to late and does way to little; and it continues to ignore many of the most important issues including lack of opportunities, largely due to outsourcing or other economic problems for many of the poorest people including minorities; and more importantly the governments and the CIA's own role in escalating the spread of drugs, perhaps most notably crack cocaine, throughout the country including South Central.

The Obama administration hasn't done much if anything to overturn the excessive disparity between Crack and powder cocaine that is largely responsible for putting much more black people behind bars than white people. Nor does he even seem to consider the use of the pardon or commutation to release people much sooner or at least drastically reduce their sentences when they're blatantly unjustified.

Bruce Dixon and others at the Black Agenda Report have raised some important issues about this speech in the following article.

Holder & Obama Are Playing Us On Mandatory Minimums, the Drug War and Mass Incarceration by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Once or twice a year Eric Holder and/or the president discover police brutality, racial profiling, or the injustice of the drug war, or mass incarceration. Black America gets some sound bytes of “drive-by” concern, some noises about a study or a “policy change." But 55 months into the Obama administration, when we compare the prez and attorney general's words with their actions, black America looks like it's been played. Again.

After 55 months as US Attorney General, preceded by years as a remarkably vicious federal prosecutor, Eric Holder made what could have been a groundbreaking speech – if only he'd made it 50-some months ago and followed it up with four and half years of the persistent, wide ranging action needed to begin undoing and unraveling the prison state Let's stand Eric Holder's and this administration's expressions of concern over mass incarceration alongside its actual record of exercising the power in its hands. When we do, Eric Holder looks a lot like a lying hypocrite, and the administration looks like it's playing black America for a nation of chumps.

At no time in this 55 months have the White House, its Attorney General, or its allies in Congress ever seriously pushed for the repeal of mandatory minimum drug sentences, and there is no full court press on this now either. Holder merely says that he'll instruct federal D.A.s not to file drug charges which under federal law invoke the mandatory minimum sentences in small scale cases where the feds see no violence or gang affiliation. For all kinds of reasons federal D.A.s don't exactly and often will not follow these instructions. More importantly they can be quietly revoked at any time by this or any future attorney general, and none of it affects drug prosecutions under state law. That's a lot less than the sea change in the prosecution of the drug war you'd think happened if you watched CNN or MSNBC this week.

Changing a few rules and calling for a Department of Justice study would be a good start when you have and intend to use your next seven plus years in office to follow it up and make it stick. But more than half the Obama administration's time is up, including 24 months when they held majorities in both the House and Senate. It's late. And this is just a little.

Holder and Obama have established a pattern. Once or twice a year, generally but not always in front of black audiences, they pretend to have newly discovered police forces and prosecutors around the country routinely profile and stalk black males. They publicly admit, as if it's new news, that black and brown people are arrested more often, charged more aggressively, sentenced more harshly and serve longer sentences than whites. This very week Eric Holder uncovered the fact the US locks up too many people for too long, and that mass incarceration (though he won't use that term unless quoting the title of a certain book) ravages and punishes entire communities. But it's all talk.

What could the administration actually do?

Complete article

Prior to this relatively high profile speech Eric Holder was previously arguing to keep many African Americans in jail under some of the same laws that he now claims that he might not prosecute new defendants under, as indicated in a couple of the Black Agenda Report articles, Obama Administration Seeks to Keep Tens of Thousands Imprisoned Under Unfair Crack VS Powder Cocaine Penalties and Freedom Rider: Obama Fights to Keep Black People in Jail.

As the Black Agenda indicates Eric Holder seems to be very vocal about addressing this problem in his speech but now after only a week or so they already seem to be forgetting about it, as far as I can tell, and they seem to have moved on to the next obsession du jour. The one thing they declined to do, not surprisingly, is to mention any of the activities that the CIA have been involved or, at best, that they looked the other way while their allies smuggled a large amount of drugs to finance their activities in foreign policy. These activities have little or nothing to do with "protecting national security" as the CIA, the government and the traditional media routinely tell us.

A closer look at the actions of the CIA over the last six or so decades clearly seems to indicate that they never did have much if anything to do with protecting national security; instead they have been more involved in promoting their own ideology and propaganda. And there is an enormous amount of evidence from reliable sources, some of which are cited in this blog; when reviewing the facts from many of their sources it becomes clear that the work of the more credible sources does much better to stand up to scrutiny than the material presented by the government, assuming people take the time to check these sources.

Alfred McCoy author "The Politics of Heroin" wrote about the history of how the CIA was either looking the other way during the Vietnam war or perhaps even involved in the smuggling of heroin. This has been made more famous by "Air America" starring Mel Gibson; but McCoy's reporting is far more reliable. In the nineties Gary Webb author of "Dark Alliance" did similar investigative reporting on the smuggling of Cocaine by supporters of the Nicaraguan Contras. He provides an enormous amount of evidence to back this up including sources from professors that studies the epidemic, police that investigated, an enormous amount of testimony from many witnesses including many that were presented in court one way or another, either during trial or depositions etc. these are just a couple of the investigators into the CIAs involvement in drugs or at least their complicity in looking the other way.

Additional investigators into this subject include Maxine Waters, Celerino Castillo III, Alexander Cockburn, Peter Dale Scott, Terry Reed, Bo Gritz and many others from a variety of different backgrounds and when reviewing their work there can be little doubt that there is an enormous amount to this even if there are also some inevitable mistakes that are to be expected when dealing with testimony from some people with something to hide. One of the highest profile sources is the Kerry report which was investigated approximately the same time as the Iran-Contra scandal although it received little or no attention from the media. The traditional media rarely ever seems to try to cover this but they don't deny it either; or at least they don't do it in a credible manner.

The preferred method for the commercial media, or the political establishment, to handle this is to ignore it and hope no one pays attention. When that doesn't work they often use ridicule to dismiss it; or appeals to emotion or authority. One thing that they rarely if ever do is actually address the details. If this was "absolute garbage" as some of the skeptics claim, including Oliver North who used that phrase to respond to Gary Webb's book, then the appropriate way to debunk it is to address the details and refute them.

They don't do this!

This method of "debunking" might fool some people that don't pay too much attention but sincere people that do check the details will almost certainly come to the conclusion that there is a lot to this even if all the details haven't been fully explained. A lot of what the CIA has been doing is propping up the elite ruling classes in other countries so that they would promote their ideology at the expense of the majority in their countries and in some cases at the expense of those with the least amount of political power in this country as well. This largely includes those with the least amount of education and minorities.

This selective reporting of the news by the high profile media and the political establishment has led to a situation where there are, generally speaking, at least two perceived versions of reality that many people are led to believe. One for a relatively small percentage of the public that take the time to sort through alternative media outlets for more reliable reports on the news that hopefully come somewhat close to the truth; and another that accept the version of truth that is presented by the media and political establishment. If some of the later pay enough attention they will notice that there are often changes and contradictions so they might become skeptical and start considering different version.

There are also, as the mainstream media routinely implies, plenty of irrational fringe conspiracy theorists which they often highlight and attempt to stereotype the rational researches as being like. This creates the risk that some of the more complacent people that start to doubt the government version which often becomes as irrational as the fringe theorists might start recognizing that even the fringe theorists get some things right, or at least closer to the truth than the government and they might wind up following them instead of seeking out the more reliable sources to get their information.

After reviewing this material it becomes clear that many of the African American's in jail are there as a result of a sophisticated form of entrapment. African Americans have much fewer opportunities to get the education they need and they also have fewer job opportunities and the political establishment, including the Obama administration continues to support efforts to suppress wages for those few jobs that are available by outsourcing as many of these jobs as possible so that the supply of work will be low and it will drive the wages down. With consolidated control of most of the businesses, or oligarchies, that control the economy they can avoid real competition and drive prices up or suppress quality so that consumers receive little or no benefit from the "competition" which only seems to apply to workers who must compete not oligarchies who divide up the market and use their dominant economic control to pass on the cost of their political activities to their customers who have no place lse to go for their products.

Eric Holder and the rest of the political establishment, including Mayor Bloomberg, also fail to consider some of the most credible research into the root causes of crime and statistical evidence that contradicts their assumptions. this has been indicated in the way they've been handling the recent ruling on stop and frisk. Some of them, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ray Kelly and their supporters have been debating this as if this is a major cause for New York's drop in crime. It isn't hard to find evidence to refute this including an article from Mother Jones, America's Real Criminal Element: Lead, although they may not come to all the right conclusions either. This article points out numerous statistics about crime including the claim that "violent crime actually peaked in New York City in 1990, four years before the Giuliani-Bratton era," and long before they started this foolish and UN-Constitutional policy. This article also points out the statistics indicating that violent crime have gone down elsewhere as well; and reminds people of previous claims that there was a coming epidemic of "juvenile super-predators" coming as a result of a growing number of young males. this epidemic never materialized.

Mayor Bloomberg claims with conviction that this ruling is going to reverse the reduction of murder that began long before the stop and frisk policy that he claims prevented this murder; it seems to have less credibility than the warnings of "juvenile super-predators" which have turned out to be false. Rick Nevin and the article explore the possibility that lead might be a more credible cause for reduction in crime. I don't know whether or not this is a contributing factor or not; his research is certainly worth looking at and it is probably far more credible than the claims that come from Mayor Bloomberg which don't have any credibility at all, as far as I can tell. Unfortunately most politicians, including Mayor Bloomberg, seem far more interested in their own ideologies and agenda than figuring out what is true and basing their policies on it. However I suspect that even if lead is a contributing factor to the reduction in crime it almost certainly isn't the only one or even the leading one.

As I have indicated in previous blogs including Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence? and Child abuse and bullying link in study long over due I believe there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that early child upbringing and often abuse is a leading contributing cause to crime and I suspect that the reduction in violent crime around the country is almost certainly a result of the change in child rearing tactics that have been taking place over the last fifty yeas or so.

In addition to the sources that I have cited in previous blogs there is also additional statistical evidence that corporal punishment is probably a contributing factor according to a study by John Guthrow in December 2002, Correlation Between High Rates of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools and Social Pathologies. This is just one of many statistical studies to support this assumption and it is also supported by other types of research as indicated in my previous blogs on the subject. A couple of the relatively simple statistical findings that this study show is: Of the states with the ten highest murder rates in the United States, educators paddle children in eight of them; Of the states with the ten lowest murder rates in the nation, educators paddle children in one of them; Of the ten states with the highest percentage of the population in prison, educators paddle children in nine of them; and Of the ten states with the lowest percentage of the population in prison, educators do not paddle children in any of them.

These statistics aren't enough to establish cause and effect; there may be other factors as well; but they do provide strong indicators that there is almost certainly a connection one way or another and additional research supports this. It is much easier to determine whether corporal punishment is widely practiced in schools than it is in homes, which would also be a major contributing factor. However there is a strong possibility that the states that support corporal punishment in schools also have a large percentage of the population that use it at home as well and this would also contribute to escalating violence.

Neither Eric Holder or many if any of the leading political figures or the mass media report on these things but they are among the most important and credible research that could lead to a dramatic reduction in crime and prison populations. It has been widely disclosed recently that the USA has 5% of the worlds population and 25% of the worlds prison population; but there is little effort to understand why. Neither the media or the political establishment do much if anything to try to figure out what other countries are doing differently any more than they promote the most reliable information the public needs to participate in the decision making process.

The media and the political establishment continue to demonstrate that they're more interested in their own political agenda and implementing it regardless of how much evidence there is that it is counter-productive and virtually guaranteed to backfire.

They've become so accustomed to promoting their own ideology to the public that it appears as if they might believe many of their own lies by now and that they can't be relied on for reliable information or trusted to do the simplest things. The few times that they do make a token change that is positive it is only after a major grass roots effort to pressure them to do so.

Until there is enough pressure from below to implement major changes, and perhaps "throw all the bums out" as many people call for, there is little chance of major solutions.

The following are some related stories or books including extensive research about the CIAs involvement in drugs or at minimum looking the other way while their allies smuggled them:

Holder’s Remarks At American Bar Association As Prepared For Delivery

The Kerry Report formally called "Selections from the Senate Committee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy" chaired by Senator John F. Kerry

Alfred McCoy The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade This appears to be the first addition published in the seventies; it was followed up by a second and third edition with additional material that occurs in the eighties nineties and shortly after the turn of the century.

Gary Webb "Dark Alliance" original articles along with follow up coverage and court transcripts

Gary Webb "Dark Alliance" Book

Celerino Castillo III "Powderburns" book

Celerino Castillo III "Powderburns" Home page

Terry Reed Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA

The Influence of Corporal Punishment on Crime by Adah Maurer, Ph.D. and James S. Wallerstein (1987)

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