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TBR News July 19, 2020

Jul 19 2020

The Voice of the White House
Comments, July 19, 2020: It would take very little for a small spark to set off an enormous conflagration on the current American political scene. A bombastic, fascistic President, a small army of neo-Nazis, support by religious fanatics, huge unemployment, violent police and governmental suppression of public demonstrations, invented hysteria of the fictional dangers of relatively harmless flu outbreaks all supply the dry wood needed for fierce fires of public discontent to burst forth. All that is necessary for protracted civil violence to erupt is that good men do nothing.

The Table of Contents

  • Political Correctness Is Destroying America! (Just Not How You Think.)
  • Camouflaged federal agents have descended on Portland. Trump’s DHS is out of control
  • RS Reports: Progressive City, Brutal Police
  • Portland Mayor Demands Trump Remove Militarized Agents From City After Protesters Detained
  • Department of Defense: Current (and highly inflammatory) document on forceful control of public protest
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

Political Correctness Is Destroying America! (Just Not How You Think.)
July 18, 2020
by Jon Schwarz
The Intercept

America today faces a terrifying danger: political correctness. It is an existential threat not just to the United States, but all of human civilization.

By this, obviously, I mean right-wing political correctness.

Maybe you’re surprised to hear this. In the U.S. media, there’s no shortage of lamentations about political correctness and how it chills debate — but they’re almost always about the threat of left-wing PC.

In reality, political correctness, or cancel culture, or whatever it’s called, is not a phenomenon of the left, right, or center. It’s a phenomenon of human nature. All humanity’s infinite tribes are prone to groupthink and punishing heretics. That’s why the principle of free thought has to be defended: It is, unfortunately, a weird and unnatural fit for humans.

There absolutely are examples of ugly political correctness from the U.S. “left,” whatever that means in a country that, by historical standards, doesn’t have a left. But the vast, vast majority of political correctness in America is conservative. Conservative PC is so powerful in the U.S. that much of it is adopted by both political parties and all of the corporate media. Indeed, right-wing political correctness is so dominant that it’s politically incorrect to refer to it as political correctness. Instead, we call it things like “patriotism,” or simply don’t notice its existence.

A full examination of America’s conservative PC culture would take the rest of your life to read. So let’s limit this to four areas where the right’s PC causes some of the most harm: religion, foreign policy, the Republican Party, and police

Religion

It probably doesn’t surprise you that exactly zero U.S. presidents have been open atheists. But since Congress first convened in 1789, it’s only had one openly atheist member: Pete Stark of California. Stark retired in 2013, so there are currently none.

According to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey, 23 percent of Americans identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” This means, Pew says, that “by far the largest difference between the U.S. public and Congress is in the share who are unaffiliated with a religious group.”

So there are likely many members of Congress right now who are “in the closet” when it comes to not believing in God. The only explanation? They’re all too cowed by PC to come out.

This isn’t surprising, since the U.S. still demonstrates informal and formal discrimination against atheists. A recent poll found that 96 percent of Americans said they’d vote for a Black candidate for president; 95 percent for a Catholic; and 66 percent for a Muslim. Only 60 percent said they’d vote for an atheist. While it’s unenforceable, the constitutions of eight states actually prohibit atheists from holding office. This includes Maryland, one of the most liberal states, whose constitution also declares that “it is the duty of every man to worship God.” (Maryland women are seemingly free to putter around ignoring the Almighty.)

Pro-religion PC is practiced on both sides of the aisle. In one of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails published by WikiLeaks in 2016, the DNC chief financial officer suggested forcing Bernie Sanders to go on the record about whether he believes in God. “He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage,” the CFO argued. “My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

Even if, someday, a few national politicians screw up enough courage to admit that they’re atheists, it’s impossible to imagine any announcing that they’re actively anti-theistic. No member of the House is going to go on the CBS morning show and say, “I think all religion is pernicious, it’s a gross form of brainwashing children, and every religious leader is a con artist, including the Pope.

No one on this plane of existence can say whether or not atheism is correct. What we can be sure of is right-wing PC has sharply limited free political speech in this area, and that’s made us less skeptical and more prone to authoritarianism.

Foreign Policy

America’s ironclad political correctness on religion plays into another aspect of our PC: The ferocious conservative restrictions on discussions of U.S. foreign policy. Since 9/11, many powerful Americans have demonstrated openness, perhaps even eagerness, for war between Christianity and Islam. Before the invasion of Iraq, then-President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac that he saw “Gog and Magog at work” in the Middle East. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon has spoken about “the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam.” When the Christian Broadcasting Network asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo whether God sent Trump “just like Queen Esther to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace,” Pompeo responded, “I certainly believe that’s possible.” The right’s yearning to mix religion and violence is incredibly dangerous, yet is a staple of our daily political diet. Few politicians or powerful figures notice, much less attack this.

But our conservative PC on foreign policy goes much further. Everyone in the foreign policy establishment is aware that 9/11 and almost all Islamist terrorism is direct blowback from U.S. actions overseas. As a Defense Department report explained, “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom’” — i.e., what Bush claimed in front of Congress on September 20, 2001 — “but rather, they hate our policies.” The problem from the establishment’s perspective is that they like those policies, and don’t want to change them just because they get Americans killed. Top members of the military apparently say in private that our deaths are “a small price to pay for being a superpower.”

Yet perhaps the only national-level politician who’s spoken clearly and openly about this is former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. In 2004, a senior Bush administration official was willing to say that without U.S. actions in the Middle East, “bin Laden might still be redecorating mosques and boring friends with stories of his mujahideen days in the Khyber Pass” — but without his or her name attached. The 9/11 Commission’s report makes glancing reference to reality, but as one member later wrote, “The commissioners believed that American foreign policy was too controversial to be discussed except in recommendations written in the future tense. Here we compromised our commitment to set forth the full story.”

As with the conservative PC about God, Democrats also obey the conservative political correctness about foreign policy. For instance, in then-President Barack Obama’s famous 2009 speech in Cairo, he was too PC to tell the truth. Instead, he mumbled that “tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims,” whatever that means exactly. In 2010, when Obama’s then-counterterrorism adviser John Brennan was asked why Al Qaeda was so determined to attack the U.S., he responded, “I think this is a, uh, long issue.” He did not elaborate.

The PC line on foreign policy extends far beyond terrorism. Israel is one of the most powerful examples. Every American politician who cares to know is aware that of Israel’s dozen or so wars, it was clearly the aggressor in all but two — the 1948 War of Independence and the 1973 Yom Kippur War — and even those are arguable. They also understand that Israel has rejected numerous offers to create a just, two-state solution with the Palestinians. In private, U.S. officials say that Israel has constructed “apartheid” in the West Bank. While a minor glasnost on this subject is currently in progress, this clear reality remains inexpressible by U.S. politicians.

And what about the media, that hotbed of freethinking radicalism? Even rich, famous TV hosts who deviate from the right’s PC line must issue groveling apologies or get canceled, literally. Sometimes they issue groveling apologies and get canceled. After Bush called the 9/11 hijackers “cowards,” Bill Maher took issue on his old ABC show “Politically Incorrect.” “We have been the cowards,” Maher said, “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.” Maher immediately said he was sorry, but it was too late: His show lost big advertisers and was taken off the air the next year. In other words, the moment “Politically Incorrect” was genuinely politically incorrect, Maher was yanked off-stage.

Next, in February 2003 just before the invasion of Iraq, Phil Donohue’s MSNBC show got the ax. It had the highest ratings on the network, but as executives fretted in an internal memo, it could become “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” In other words, since all of the rest of American TV was ultra-PC, and they had to be too. The same channel soon signed Jesse Ventura to a three-year contract for a new show but then found out he was anti-war and so paid him to do nothing.

Other TV figures made sure not to suffer similar fates. “I remember,” Katie Couric later said, “this inevitable march towards war and kind of feeling like, ‘Will anybody put the brakes on this? And is this really being properly challenged by the right people? … Anyone who questioned the administration was considered unpatriotic and it was a very difficult position to be in.” At the time, when it actually mattered, Couric chirped on “The Today Show” that “Navy SEALs rock!”

Then there’s Chris Hayes, another MSNBC host. In a broadcast just before Memorial Day 2012, Hayes expressed exactly the kind of sentiment you’d expect to hear in an honest debate on war: “It is, I think, very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor. … I feel uncomfortable about the word ‘hero’ because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. And I obviously don’t want to desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that’s fallen. … But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic.” The freakout from the right was so intense that Hayes immediately said he was “deeply sorry” because “it’s very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots.”

Even opinions on events from a lifetime ago must be politically correct. After Jon Stewart said on “The Daily Show” that he believed Harry Truman was a “war criminal” for using atomic weapons on Japan, he came under immediate attack, and quickly came crawling for forgiveness. “I walk that back because it was in my estimation a stupid thing to say,” Stewart pleaded in a tone recognizable from any of history’s struggle sessions. “You ever do that, where you’re saying something, and as it’s coming out you’re like, ‘What the fuck?’ And it just sat in there for a couple of days, just sitting going, ‘No, no, [Truman] wasn’t, and you should really say that out loud on the show.’”

With no critiques about specifics permissible, a broad discussion about U.S. foreign policy is light years away. There won’t be any politicians or TV hosts anytime soon who’ll consistently emphasize Martin Luther King Jr.’s position that America is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

No one knows what foreign policy Americans would choose after an open debate. But it’s manifestly true that the current one, shaped overwhelmingly by right-wing PC, has caused gigantic damage to the U.S. and the world.

The Republican Party

Today’s GOP often enforces internal ideological purity more strictly than the Chinese Communist Party. This matters because the U.S. political system is so sclerotic it requires some buy-in from the opposition party for almost anything to change. So as long as Republicans stay in lockstep with each other, nothing will happen.

The GOP’s PC has been particularly disastrous with the climate crisis. The Republican president of the United States constantly calls it a “hoax.” For a decade, GOP politicians and the party’s apparat have almost all refused to acknowledge that it even exists. Newt Gingrich said in 2008 that “our country must take action to address climate change” — but when GOP PC changed, so did he. When Gingrich ran for president in 2012, Rush Limbaugh horrified listeners by telling them of a rumored chapter in a forthcoming Gingrich book that addressed global warming honestly. Gingrich obediently cut it. Then he began posting pictures on Instagram with captions like “More evidence of global warming, the Potomac iced over last night.”

Things are slowly shifting now as younger Republicans begin to understand the frightening future staring them in the face. Currently the party’s split between a faction that wants to continue denying reality, and one which wants to stop denying reality while doing nothing effective about it.

The GOP’s political correctness on climate change flows from a broader rejection of Enlightenment methods of figuring out reality. Limbaugh, whom Trump recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has famously proclaimed that science is one of the “corners of deceit” used by liberals to create “The Universe of Lies.” No prominent Republican politician has ever disavowed Limbaugh’s view.

Beyond this is further rigid GOP political correctness on almost all issues. A Republican politician must publicly profess belief in American exceptionalism. Cutting taxes causes government revenue to go up. Any increase in taxes on the rich and corporations will cause economic devastation. Evolution is a lie. Abortion is a titanic moral evil. Trump is a super-duper president. They have a great idea for bringing low-cost, high-quality health care to every citizen but don’t want to mention it right now and ruin the secret.

But facts don’t care about conservatives’ feelings. Our Republican-led coronavirus carnage is a preview of what’s coming with the climate crisis.

Police

With millions of people turning out in demonstrations against police brutality, there are some obvious questions we should be asking ourselves: Why are cops acting this way? Why are the so-called bad apples never removed? No politicians or TV hosts are providing the simple answer: political correctness.

Police officers will almost never report another officer mistreating a civilian. This is understandable, since the best case for these “snitches” is usually having their careers destroyed. Some, such as the NYPD’s Adrian Schoolcraft, fare even worse. In 2009, after Schoolcraft found that his supervisors were manipulating crime statistics, his fellow cops broke into his apartment, abducted him, and committed him to a psychiatric hospital. Whatever you want to say about Oberlin’s student council, they’re not doing that.

Police department PC has been enabled by another layer of conservative political correctness on top of it. Until recently, the idea that police routinely engage in unjustifiable violence, and then lie about it, was generally unutterable for an American politician. Then there was even higher-level layer of PC on top of that in U.S. culture: Reality shows have continually glorified cops engaging in barbarity, and in scripted shows, there’s no greater cliché than hero cops.

For 100 years, various commissions charged with police reform have come and gone. Most often any gains are minor and prone to backsliding. The only way to change reality is to face reality, not live in a comfortable fantasy concocted by right-wing PC

And So Much More

All of that is just a few waves in America’s never-ending flood of right-wing political correctness. Can the surgeon general suggest that drug legalization should be studied, and perhaps children should be taught about masturbation? Nope. Can you work for the Department of Agriculture and deliver an honest speech about your life without the right misrepresenting it and getting you fired? No. Can CBS broadcast a miniseries about Ronald Reagan that lightly fictionalizes the grotesque response of his administration to AIDS? Sorry; that has to be moved to a much smaller audience on Showtime. Can you tell the truth as you see it? No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

But even the endless concrete examples of conservative PC are not the end of the problem. Right-wing political correctness so hobbles our political imagination that we don’t even dream of having debates on the deepest, most important problems of our lives. Imagine politicians or New York Times op-ed columnists or corporate TV hosts asking simple questions like:

If we followed the law, would the most powerful people in America, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and most Wall Street CEOs be in jail?

Is advertising all lies that are warping our humanity? If so, should we get rid of it?

Is there any way to heal the wounds of 500 years of European colonialism?

Can we wind down the American empire without destroying the whole world in the process?

Even if we slow down the effects of the climate crisis, will capitalism still destroy the biosphere on which all human civilization depends?

There aren’t any easy answers here, but let’s at least be honest about the problem. If we’re going to talk about political correctness, let’s start with the truth about the kind of PC that matters most: the political correctness that is literally killing us.

Camouflaged federal agents have descended on Portland. Trump’s DHS is out of control
If Venezuela or Iran were perpetrating this nightmare, the US would stand against it. Instead, officials are promising more
July 18, 2020
by Trevor Timm
The Guardian

A remarkable and nightmarish scene playing out in Portland should terrify anyone who cares about the US constitution: unmarked vans full of camouflaged and unidentified federal agents are pulling up next to protesters on street corners, then snatching and arresting them with no explanation.

If this were happening in Venezuela or Iran, the US government would be threatening international sanctions. Since it’s happening in the US, Trump’s acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary is defending the decision and even promising more.

The stories from witnesses and those who have been picked up by the unmarked vans – apparently being operated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is under DHS’s control – are downright terrifying. One victim told the New York Times: “One of the officers said, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ and just grabbed me and threw me into the van. Another officer pulled my beanie down, so I couldn’t see.”

The same person told the Washington Post: “I was terrified. It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.” Still another told Portland’s Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB): “I see guys in camo. Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh shit. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”

The incidents being described sound eerily reminiscent of the CIA’s post-9/11 rendition program under George W Bush, where intelligence agents would roll up in unmarked vans in foreign countries, blindfold terrorism suspects (many of whom turned to be innocent) and kidnap them without explanation. Only instead of occurring on the streets of Italy or the Middle East, it’s happening in downtown Portland.

Virtually all of Portland’s local leaders, as well as Oregon’s leading representatives in Congress, have condemned the situation and called for an investigation. But so far, DHS and the Trump administration do not seem deterred.

The acting secretary of DHS, Chad Wolf, released a video statement Friday lamenting that Portland had declined the department’s “offer” of “support”. So DHS went ahead and sent in its thugs anyway. DHS’s list of reasons for invading Portland and implementing its terror operation, amid what it calls “rampant long-lasting violence”, consists mostly of graffiti incidents and minor property damage.

Portland is almost 400 miles from the Canadian border and 80 miles from the Pacific ocean, by the way. It’s unclear what legal authority, if any, allows CBP to be terrorizing the streets to hunt down graffiti artists—even if they think they can operate anywhere that’s 100 miles from a border. In other words, it’s illegal, or it should be.

Worse, judging from witnesses, CBP isn’t just “defending” federal buildings, as it claims. As OPB reported: “Interviews … show officers are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren’t near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity.” Protesters told OPB they “think they were targeted by federal officers for simply wearing black clothing in the area of the demonstration

CBP has also reportedly indiscriminately fired teargas at protesters despite a judge banning Portland’s police from doing so, permanently injured a person with a shot to the head from a so-called “less lethal” gun, and fired its weapons at at least one journalist.

DHS, even in the pre-Trump era, has been an enormous waste of taxpayer resources, full of massive government waste and abuse, and a civil liberties disaster to boot. Back in 2015, I called for it to be abolished in the pages of the Guardian. Under Trump it has reached new levels of depravity. Its disturbing anti-immigration actions have shown agents seemingly going out of their way to be as cruel as possible to those they apprehend.

Anyone only has to read the news from the past few weeks to witness DHS’s corruption and creeping authoritarianism: in one story, government auditors have found that the CBP spent money meant for food and medical supplies for detained migrants on ATVs and dirt bikes for themselves. In another, DHS deployed Predator drones, helicopters and airplanes to spy on Black Lives Matter protesters in 15 American cities.

With their actions in Portland, their authoritarianism is no longer creeping – the DHS and CBP are acting as full-on secret police. If there are not steep consequences for these disturbing actions, there will be no limits on where this will lead.

Trevor Timm is the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation


RS Reports: Progressive City, Brutal Police
The paradox of Portland, Oregon, shows why the fight to change police culture takes more than liberal values and good intentions
July 17, 2020
by Tim Dickenson 
Rolling Stone

Forty-eight hours later, the only mark of the “riot” at the Portland Police union headquarters is a small hole in one of the gold-tinted windows, plugged with putty.

The police killing of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis on May 25th unleashed a torrent of anger against police departments across the nation. But in this Pacific Northwest city, with a shameful history of racism and police killings of black residents, the reaction has been intense and sustained. Protesters have marched by the thousands across bridges. They have toppled statues of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington — who enslaved more than 700 humans between them. And they have marched on police strongholds every night since the end of May. With no remorse or sense of irony, the Portland Police Bureau has met this last group of demonstrators denouncing police brutality with yet more brutality.

In the national imagination, Portland reigns as a lampoonable bastion of progressivism, naked bike rides, and handlebar mustaches. But there is nothing Portlandia about the PPB. Police here routinely embrace the violent crowd-control tactics that President Trump commanded to clear Lafayette Park — indiscriminately attacking protesters with tear gas, flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, and other “less lethal” munitions. The bureau has been hit with two temporary restraining orders from federal judges: one rebuking the PPB for likely violations of protesters’ rights to free speech and against excessive force; the other ordering the PPB to stop arresting journalists and legal observers for documenting police clashes with protesters.

On the evening of June 30th, demonstrators marched on the city’s police-union headquarters, a tan stucco building in a sprawling stretch of north Portland, just down the street from Pipes “R” Us, a smoke shop that advertises with a knockoff Geoffrey the Giraffe taking a rip off of a giant bong. Marchers advancing on the union hall were met by Portland Police in riot gear, backed by state troopers, who formed a phalanx around the building.

After provocations from the rowdy crowd gave the police a pretext — the bureau later posted a picture of a can of Razz-Cranberry La Croix and a rock of similar size that it claimed had been lobbed by protesters, whom it also said launched “commercial grade” fireworks — the police declared the scene a riot, and attacked. The urban assault was chaotic. Police tackled a video journalist who was live-streaming the event, and launched tear gas into the crowd, which engulfed not only targeted agitators but also passing motorists and apartments lining the busy street.

The use of force would bring condemnation from state officials — who had just passed legislation banning police use of tear gas, except in the case of a riot. The speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, blasted the PPB’s riot declaration as “an abuse of the statute” and its actions as “unlawful.” Gov. Kate Brown called on the PPB to de-escalate, warning that its use of force “will do nothing to solve the underlying concerns of racial justice and police accountability raised by the protests.”

Yet by the time the tear gas cleared the next morning, the City Council proceeded as if nothing had happened, and did the union’s bidding: It approved a yearlong extension of the police contract — exempting cops from a citywide salary freeze.

The plague of police violence against America’s black and minority communities does not fit with the familiar red-versus-blue divides of our national politics. The most violent policing often takes place in our most progressive cities. This paradox is acute in Portland — but it is alive in metros across America, from Denver to Minneapolis to New York City, where ostensibly liberal mayors allow police departments to operate as a nearly autonomous branch of government, as if beyond their control.

The conflict between progressive communities and reactionary cops is rooted in America’s darkest history, and deeply entrenched, says Phillip Atiba Goff, CEO of the Center for Policing Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Municipal policing in America arose in the service of slave owners, catching runaways, and after the Civil War the same police brutally enforced segregation under Jim Crow. Outside the Deep South, early police were deputized “to manage what political leaders considered to be unruly immigrant populations,” says Tracey Meares, a Yale law professor who served on President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

This legacy has never been repudiated, Goff insists: “At no point in time in our history did we say, ‘You know what? That was fucked up! We should not do it that way. We should imagine a different system.’ ” Modern policing has evolved on an ad hoc basis, often following political intuition and gut theories about deterring crime. “There was no enabling legislation,” Meares says, and precious little data to prove that policing strategies work. “Think about the extent to which we tolerate this agency, in which everyone carries a gun,” she says, but that gets a pass to operate as “an evidence-free zone.”

As a consequence, American policing continues to prioritize the safety and comfort of white people and property owners, often with acts of official violence. Most politicians in charge of police are “deeply, profoundly ignorant” about the legacy they’ve inherited, Goff argues, making even progressive politicians feckless reformers. “It’s just not the case that intention and ideology are likely to produce the kinds of outcomes and solutions that we might want.”

True reform depends on moving resources out of “law and order” — which primarily serves to enforce the existing social order — and investing in programs and services that increase public well-being and safety, Goff insists. There are structural obstacles: In many cities, union contracts limit the ability to reorient police resources (or even provide meaningful oversight). Fear of change also creates a conceptual barrier. “People think that you need a police force oriented around the threat of the use of force in order to address violent neighborhoods,” Meares says, when research has, in fact, “proven for years that that’s not correct.”

Oregon’s history shares more in common with the Deep South than is commonly understood. The state was admitted to the union on the eve of the Civil War as a white-separatist state. Its constitution banned slavery — and black people, declaring that “No free Negro, or Mulatto … shall come, reside, or be within this state,” and ordering their “removal, by public officers.” Made moot by the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment, this racist language was not amended until 1926. And by then Oregon had emerged as a hotbed of Klan activity, using racial terror to keep all but a few thousand blacks out of the state.

Only during World War II, when black laborers arrivedby the thousands to work in Portland’s shipyards, did Oregon’s color barrier begin to break down. Even today, however, Portland is known as the whitest big city in America. Three-quarters of the population is white; only six percent of residents are black. The black community — historically redlined into a single neighborhood near downtown — is now buffeted by gentrification and displacement, as white millennials seeking the “dream of the Nineties” have transformed Mississippi Avenue into a stretch of boutiques, brewpubs, and farm-to-table restaurants.

Portland Police have long intimidated, harassed, and killed black residents without facing legal consequence. Marine veteran Lloyd “Tony” Stevenson’s gravestone in Willamette National Cemetery says “Vietnam,” but Stevenson was killed on the streets of Portland in a 1985 altercation with police who ended his life with a “sleeper” chokehold. In shades of the Eric Garner homicide a generation later, Stevenson’s killing sparked national outrage, but Portland Police responded to the controversy with arrogant, racist defiance: selling T-shirts out of a precinct parking lot that read “Don’t Choke ’Em, Smoke ’Em.”

In recent years, the police here have also shot and killed many unarmed black people. In 2003, 21-year-old Kendra James was gunned down during a traffic stop; in 2010, 25-year-old Aaron Campbell was killed by a sharpshooter during a welfare check; in 2017, police shot 17-year-old Quanice Hayes with an AR-15 while he was on his knees during an arrest. None of these cases were prosecuted. “There’s no appearance of justice when it comes to the death of a black person at the hands of the police,” says City Council member Jo Ann Hardesty, who formerly served as a president of the local NAACP.

The Portland Police Bureau has been under supervision by the U.S. Department of Justice for much of the past decade for “a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment,” against people with mental illness, many of them black. Andre Gladen, a legally blind 36-year-old with schizophrenia, prompted a 911 call by lying on a stranger’s porch last year. Cops who were called to remove him instead killed him after, they say, he grabbed an officer’s knife. The PPB has achieved “substantial compliance” with the DOJ agreement, but Hardesty notes bitterly: “We’re killing more people today with mental-health issues by the Portland Police than we did before the DOJ came to town.”

Teressa Raiford is the founder of Don’t Shoot PDX, a nonprofit that works to counter police violence. She was 10 years old in 1981 when Portland cops infamously dropped a pair of dead opossums in front of her grandparents’ soul-food restaurant. “That was a challenge against our humanity,” Raiford recalls. “That let me know really early that people considered us as not really citizens or people.”

Eighty percent of PPB officers are white, and the vast majority live outside the city of Portland, in the region’s even whiter, far more conservative suburbs and exurbs. The bureau continues to be linked to white supremacy. In 2010, a Portland cop was disciplined for having erected plaques celebrating Nazi-era German soldiers in a public park. (He kept his job.) In 2019, a PPB officer was caught sending chummy texts to Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, advising his right-wing agitators how to avoid arrest. (A police review did not discipline the officer.) “They’re actually working with the Proud Boys,” says Raiford.

To Raiford, who finished third in the May primary for mayor, there’s no mystery why Portland cops crack down violently on protests targeting the bureau itself. “It is a power struggle to maintain whiteness and white supremacy that dictates the policy here,” she argues. “You still wonder why you’re getting your ass whooped at Black Lives Matter protests? Because you’re standing up for black people in Whitelandia!”

Portland has a vigorous history of protest. In the early 1990s, President George H.W. Bush denigrated the city as “Little Beirut” for the reception he received here. The city is home to many activists who identify as anarchists and anti-fascists, whose protest tactics can include criminal mischief, like damaging property or lighting dumpster fires.

In the days after George Floyd’s killing, agitators targeted the Multnomah County Justice Center, a high-rise jail and courtroom complex downtown. They tagged walls with graffiti, smashed street-facing windows, and even lit small fires inside the building. Their spray-painted agenda — “DEFUND THE POLICE STATE” — might have seemed fringe just weeks ago. But the cultural earthquake of Floyd’s killing has shifted the Overton window, putting such demands at the center of the national political debate.

The Justice Center, now barricaded with plywood, remains the epicenter of nightly battles between protesters and police. In ritualized fashion, predominantly peaceful protesters gather to decry police violence. When someone in the crowd goes too far — throwing a water bottle, pointing lasers at cops — the police order the crowd to disperse, before charging protesters.

PPB tactics earned the force a sharp rebuke and partial restraining order on the use of tear gas and other less-than-lethal munitions from a federal District Court. Responding on June 9th to a suit brought by Don’t Shoot PDX, Judge Marco Hernández cited “evidence that officers have violated the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters.” The judge faulted the PPB for failing to discriminate between criminals and peaceful demonstrators, citing a protester who was “subjected to rubber bullets, tear gas, and a flash-bang at close range as he was calmly walking … trying to comply with officers’ orders.”

Portland Police have also attacked journalists documenting the protests. Beth Nakamura, a photographer for The Oregonian, was roughed up by a baton-wielding riot cop. “Before I was struck, I more than once held up my badge and one of my cameras,” she tells Rolling Stone. “I was saying ‘Press, press.’ ” The cop responded, “I don’t give a fuck.” The PPB’s public information officer, Lt. Tina Jones, tells Rolling Stone that police wearing riot helmets cannot be expected to differentiate between protesters and the press. She also released a video warning reporters to obey police commands, making an odd slip of the tongue: “The unlawful orders apply to everyone, without exception.”

The man presiding over this brutal mess is Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as police commissioner. A sixth-generation Oregonian and scion of a timber fortune, Wheeler is a credential collector: an Eagle Scout with degrees from Stanford, Columbia, and Harvard — and even a summit of Everest — on his CV. He previously held statewide office as treasurer, and once seemed on a glide path to the governorship. Protesters now denounce him as “Tear Gas Ted,” and he’s facing shaky re-election prospects against a little-known urban planner, Sarah Iannarone.

Wheeler, 57, campaigned as a progressive and is culturally woke. The mayor’s Twitter handle lists Wheeler’s gender pronouns (“He/Him/His”). In June, he offered city employees a week of bereavement leave to mourn victims of police violence, and lamented that his “privilege as a white man” had shielded him from “uncomfortable truths about our history.” Wheeler begins a wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone with a précis about how “policing was built upon a white-supremacist model,” and acknowledges that, despite reforms, “the hangover from that institutional racism still very much exists in Portland.”

As a candidate in 2016, Wheeler railed against the “cultural disconnect between the Portland Police and the public,” and insisted “only strong leadership can change that.” But in office, Wheeler did not take the fight to the PPB; over his first three years he increased the police budget from $215 million to $242 million, even as the city cut funding for parks and rec centers. (Wheeler attributes the increases to funding nontraditional public-safety initiatives.)

Since the outrage over George Floyd’s death erupted, Wheeler has changed course, somewhat, embracing reforms championed by Hardesty. The City Council voted in June to cut the PPB budget by $15 million, ending police patrols at public schools and on mass transit, and disbanding its notoriously racist gang unit. The city will also invest $5 million in an unarmed response team to attend to people in mental-health crises. These reforms are a far cry from the Minneapolis government’s goal to disband its police department, but Hardesty prefers to build on smaller victories rather than risk reversal in court. “If we were taking [the Minneapolis] approach in Portland,” she says, “I would anticipate the union would sue immediately.”

Wheeler has long pledged to bring transparency and accountability to the PPB. But as the nightly clash between protesters and police has devolved into what Gov. Brown denounced as a “senseless cycle of violence,” the mayor has been unable, or unwilling, to provide either.

Neither the police nor the mayor’s office would reveal if any officers have been subject to disciplinary action during the protests. The bureau ignored an interview request for Chief Chuck Lovell, a black career PPB officer, who assumed command in June. Wheeler admits to Rolling Stone he has let police cover their name badges at the protests — out of concern that officers were being doxxed. He is unable to say whether doxxing is a crime; the PPB also ignored this question.

In our interview, Wheeler voices uneasiness at the bureau’s crowd-control tactics. “I would not cop to saying that I support those or if they’ve been OK with me,” he says. But he points to one demonstration in particular, where protesters allegedly set a dumpster on fire at the door of a police precinct, and insists, “There are times when the Police Bureau has a duty to protect lives and safety.” In legal filings, the city defends the PPB’s use of crowd-control munitions as a “constitutional” and “reasonable” response to “widespread criminal activity and violence” that has left officers with “head injuries, burns, and cuts.”

At times, Wheeler talks tough: “I am at the top of the chain of command,” he insists, and if an officer disobeys his directives, “they’re putting their badge on the line.” Yet police appear to be flouting Wheeler’s orders without consequence. The mayor directed the department to stop the routine use of tear gas, but the gassings continued until — and even after — Judge Hernández issued a partial restraining order. (The PPB has denied frivolously declaring riots as an excuse to use tear gas.)

When police started beating journalists, Wheeler sent a stern memo to cops, insisting the media should not be targeted. “I have pledged to journalists that we will protect their First Amendment rights,” Wheeler says. “We absolutely should be held to that standard.” Yet that very night — at the “riot” at the union headquarters — police arrested three journalists, charging them with felonies. “City leadership doesn’t have any authority or sway with people who are on the streets policing these protests,” says Juan Chavez, a lawyer representing protesters in the Don’t Shoot PDX lawsuit. He likens the PPB to “a rogue fourth branch of our local government.”

Chief Lovell has defended police actions at the union hall, saying they prevented the building from being set ablaze, which “could have led to residences being burned with families inside.” Police union chief Daryl Turner has attempted to cast the protesters as a mob, writing that they “have hijacked the racial-equity platform of peaceful protests for their own chaotic agendas; they simply want to destroy our city.”

Hardesty sees things differently. On July 1st, she wrote a scathing open letter to Lovell and Wheeler, decrying the PPB’s “outlandish” actions, insisting that “community members exercising their freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are not the enemy.” Hardesty closed with a warning: “I cannot stress enough the trust eroded between the community and police.” That erosion of trust finds voice in the words of Gregory McKelvey, a Black Lives Matter activist, who is also running the campaign of Wheeler’s 2020 mayoral rival. “If Donald Trump were the mayor of Portland,” McKelvey asks, “how much different would our response to protest look?”

Portland Mayor Demands Trump Remove Militarized Agents From City After Protesters Detained
July 18, 2020
by Andres Selsky and Gallian Flaccus
TIME

PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland demanded Friday that President Donald Trump remove militarized federal agents he deployed to the city after some detained people on streets far from federal property they were sent to protect.

“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a news conference.

Governor Kate Brown said Trump is looking for a confrontation in the hopes of winning political points elsewhere. It also serves as a distraction from the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing spiking numbers of infections in Oregon and the nation.

Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, said Friday that arresting people without probable cause is “extraordinarily concerning and a violation of their civil liberties and constitutional rights.”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would file a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection and Federal Protection Service alleging they have violated the civil rights of Oregonians by detaining them without probable cause. She will also seek a temporary restraining order against them.

The ACLU of Oregon said the federal agents appear to be violating people’s rights, which “should concern everyone in the United States.”

“Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street we call it kidnapping,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. “The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”

Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday. Some have been detained by the federal courthouse, which has been the scene of protests. But others were grabbed blocks away.

“This is part of the core media strategy out of Trump’s White House: to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data,” Wheeler said. “And it is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials.”

One video showed two people in helmets and green camouflage with “police” patches grabbing a person on the sidewalk, handcuffing them and taking them into an unmarked vehicle.

“Who are you?” someone asks the pair, who do not respond. At least some of the federal officers belong to the Department of Homeland Security.

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that its agents had information indicating the person in the video was suspected of assaulting federal agents or destroying federal property.

“Once CBP agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location. For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location,” the agency said. However, the video shows no mob.

In another case, Mark Pettibone, 29, said a minivan rolled up to him around 2 a.m. Wednesday and four or five people got out “looking like they were deployed to a Middle Eastern war.”

Pettibone told The Associated Press he got to his knees as the group approached. They dragged him into the van without identifying themselves or responding to his questions and pulled his beanie over his eyes so he couldn’t see, he said.

“I figured I was just going to disappear for an indefinite amount of time,” Pettibone said.

Pettibone said he was put into a cell and officers dumped the contents of his backpack, with one remarking: “Oh, this is a bunch of nothing.”

After he asked for a lawyer, Pettibone was allowed to leave.

“Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a tweet.

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams in Portland said Friday he has requested the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to investigate the actions of DHS personnel.

In a letter Friday, Oregon’s two senators and two of its House members demanded that U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf immediately withdraw “these federal paramilitary forces from our state.”

The members of Congress also said they’ll be asking the DHS inspector general and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the presence and actions of federal forces in Portland.

“It’s painfully clear this administration is focused purely on escalating violence without answering my repeated requests for why this expeditionary force is in Portland and under what constitutional authority,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said.

On Thursday night, federal officers deployed tear gas and fired non-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters.

Wolf visited Portland on Thursday and called the demonstrators, who are protesting racism and police brutality, “violent anarchists.”

Wolf blamed state and city authorities for not putting an end to the protests. But Portland police said Friday they wound up arresting 20 people overnight.

At least two protests occurred Thursday night, one near the federal courthouse and the other by a police station in another part of the city. Police told protesters to leave that site after announcing they heard some chanting about burning down the building. Protester Paul Frazier said Friday the chant was “much more rhetorical than an actual statement.”

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell told reporters Friday that his officers are in contact with the federal agents, but that neither controls the others’ actions.

“We do communicate with federal officers for the purpose of situational awareness and deconfliction,” Lovell said. “We’re operating in a very, very close proximity to one another.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon on Friday added the federal government to a lawsuit it filed earlier to halt the use of crowd control measures, including tear gas and rubber bullets, against journalists and legal observers at protests in Portland.

“The lawsuit is one of many the ACLU will be filing against federal authorities in Portland for their unconstitutional attacks on people protesting the police killing of George Floyd,” the group said.

Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks, particularly after an officer with the U.S. Marshals Service fired a less-lethal round at a protester’s head on July 11, critically injuring him.

The protests following the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis have often devolved into violent clashes between smaller groups and the police.

Selsky reported from Salem, Oregon. AP reporters Ben Fox in Washington and Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed.


Department of Defense
NUMBER 3005.20
July 10, 2020 USD(I)
SUBJECT: DoD Domestic Military Order-Counterinsurgency Overview : See Enclosure 1
Domestic Military Order – Counterinsurgency Overview

Understanding Insurgency

Domestic insurgencies date to the earliest forms of government and will continue to exist as long as the governed harbor grievances against authority that they believe cannot be resolved by peaceful means.

What is a domestic insurgency?

The Department of Defense (DOD) defines domestic insurgency as “an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict.” Simply put, a domestic insurgency is a struggle between a non-ruling group and their ruling authority. Domestic insurgents use political resources, to include the increased use of the media and international opinion, as well as violence to destroy the political legitimacy of the ruling authority and build their own political legitimacy and power. Examples of this type of warfare range from the American Revolution to the previous situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conflict itself can range from acts of terrorism to the more conventional use of the media to sway public opinion. Whatever form the insurgency takes, it serves an ideology or political goal.

Some of the motivating factors in the current politico/sociological situation are:

Massive and continuing unemployment in all levels of American business and industry. Only those who are technically proficient, i.e. in fields of computer science, are employable. Another point of contention is the huge influx of illegal foreign immigrants and the perception that these prevent Americans from obtaining work and also are perceived as draining the national welfare rolls. Also, a growing functional illiteracy in the American public, which has sharply diminished the reading of newspapers and increased the popularity of the Internet with its brief “sound bites.”A growing public perception of both disinterest and corruption on the part of National and State legislators has caused massive disillusionment on the part of the people. The recent revelations that the American (and foreign) public is closely watched and spied upon by governmental organs at the behest of the President has created a very volatile and very negative attitude towards any and all official programs.

An insurgency is defined as an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict It is a protracted politico-military struggle designed to weaken government control and legitimacy while increasing insurgent control. Political power is the central issue in an insurgency.

Each insurgency has its own unique characteristics based on its strategic objectives, its operational environment, available resources, operational method, and tactics For example, an insurgency may be based on mass mobilization through political action or the FOCO theory. Insurgencies frequently seek to overthrow the existing social order and reallocate power within the country.

The goal of an insurgency is to mobilize human and material resources in order to form an alternative to the state. This alternative is called the counterstate. The counterstate may have much of the infrastructure possessed by the state itself, but this must normally be hidden, since it is illegal. Thus the counterstate is often referred to by the term “clandestine infrastructure.” As the insurgents gain confidence and power, the clandestine infrastructure may become more open, as observed historically in communist regions during the Chinese Revolution, in South Vietnam after the North Vietnamese 1972 Easter Offensive, and in Colombia in the summer of 1998.

Successful mobilization provides active and passive support for the insurgency’s programs, operations, and goals. At the national level, mobilization grows out of dissatisfaction by some elite members with existing political, economic, or social conditions. At the regional level, members of an elite have become marginalized (that is, they have become psychologically alienated from the system), and have established links with followers by bringing them into the counterstate. At the local, district and province-levels, local movement representatives called the cadre address local grievances and do recruiting. The cadre gives credit to the insurgent movement for all local solutions. Loyalty to the insurgent movement is normally won through deeds but may occur through appeal to abstract principles. Promises to end hunger or eliminate poverty may appeal to a segment of the population, while appeals to eliminate a foreign presence or establish a government based on religious or political ideology may appeal to others. Nonetheless, these promises and appeals are associated with tangible solutions and deeds.

What are the root causes of a domestic insurgency? For a domestic insurgency to flourish, a majority of the population must either support or remain indifferent to insurgent ideals and practices. There must be a powerful reason that drives a portion of the populace to armed opposition against the existing government. Grievances may have a number of causes, such the lack of economic opportunity, restrictions on basic liberties, government corruption, ethnic or religious tensions, excessivly large number of illegal immigrants, especially those from  Central America who clog national welfare rolls and are perceived to take jobs from entry-level Americans,or an unassimilitable religious and ethnic minority such as the Muslims who are seen to harbor domestic terrorists. It is through this line of thought or ideal that insurgents attempt to mobilize the population. ……

Comment: Folllowing portions of this official report are so inflammatory that publishing them is counter-indicated, ed

  Encyclopedia of American Loons

  1. Emmett Tyrrell

A wingnut’s wingnut, Robert Emmett Tyrrell, jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator, a wingnut magazine published by Regnery publishing and part of Richard Mellon Scaife’s loosely-tied-together empire of conspiracy-pushing media outlets. Tyrrell has also written for Washington Examiner.

Tyrrell does not like liberals. Therefore, he blames them for virtually any ill befalling America, including for instance the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting, saying (in an interview on Bryan Fischer’s show – attending Fischer’s show merits inclusion in this Encyclopedia on its own) that “a country that is being forced to turn away from God because of the liberals gets things like the Colorado massacre in abundance.” He went on to describe liberals as “bloodless,” “cold-blooded” and “brain dead” (he didn’t actually expand on mechanisms tying liberals to the shooting, since people who listen to Tyrrell won’t need more than name-calling anyways), themes he ostensibly expands on (not much, apparently) in his 2011 book The Death of Liberalism, in which he “came to the conclusion that [liberals] are dead –they are brain dead – they simply can’t look at anything that contravenes their value system, they turn their back on it.” Sounds like a fearsome display of perception and intellect, that book.

Tyrrell is of course also a global warming denialist, which is par from the course when you get your facts from your tribalist instincts and simply can’t look at anything that contravenes your value system.

As for the aforementioned 2011 book, the main claim seems to have been that liberalism was dead in the water, never to rise again. So in 2012, Tyrrell argued that the conclusion remained valid despite the election results on the grounds that President Obama is not a liberal but rather a socialist. Insofar as he can dismiss any recalcitrant data as “not liberalism”, his conclusion is of course firmly unfalsifiable. We would not be surprised if R. Emmett Tyrrell, jr. thought of that as a strength of the hypothesis. (After all, Tyrrell does have a notable tendency to call any random Democrat “marxist”, so there are, by Tyrrell’s lights, preciously few liberals in the Democratic party, and they won’t ever falsify his hypothesis.)

Diagnosis: Yet another wingnut moron who doesn’t understand basic linguistic expressions and therefore concludes that they mean whatever he wants them to mean to ensure that he is always right. It is not intellectually very impressive. That said, Tyrrell is not a nobody on the wingnut talk show guest circuit, and we wouldn’t be very surprised if that was because he was, indeed, one of their best.

 

Rodney Martin

Rodney Martin is a white supremacist, supporter of the National Alliance Reform & Restoration Group (NARRG) – a spinoff of the neo-nazi National Alliance – part of the American Nationalist Network, and anti-semitic conspiracy theorist. “There are all sorts of [degeneracy], porn, lowering the age of consent, prostitution […] The hand print of Jews are all over that sexual decadence in the United States … The whole homosexual agenda …which is pushed by Jews. Not only did Jews create NAACP to direct black action against white people, but they started a whole host of homosexual organizations to promote the homosexual agenda,” says Martin.

As you’d expect, Martin is very much opposed to (liberal) immigration reform: “I think if they do, if they ramrod this amnesty bill through, then I think where I talked about the United States being a Soviet Union, I think overnight, we become Yugoslavia, and it becomes not a pretty picture,” said Martin, and claimed it is “genocide” (the referent of “it” being admittedly a bit unclear). Martin seems unsure about the meaning of – among other things – “overnight”.

Diagnosis: We apologize for the brevity of this post, but we cannot be bothered to delve too deeply into the kind of disgusting nonsense Martin is into. Stupid git. It would admittedly be a potential mistake to dismiss him as entirely harmless, however.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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