Princeton Trained Political Scientist Savors Thomas Piketty

 

 

ART LERMANPICKETTY, THOMASJANE AUSTEN

Our own Prof. Arthur Lerman! I would add as a preface to his concise book notes, that Piketty translated into English is remarkable in 2 ways: 1. he is very light on economic jargon, 2. is is thick with references to literature and history–as Art says– and not exactly the trend in economic writing these days on this side of the Atlantic.~~ f.l.s.

I just finished Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014). This is what I understand to be (some of) his basic argument:
The free market system automatically moves towards economic inequality.
 
The more wealth one has, from inheritance or other income, the better the advice on how to invest it one can afford. So  the wealthier fortunes almost always grow more rapidly–and more securely– than their lesser counterparts.
 
Concerning salaries and other compensation for work, income inequality is encouraged by CEOs who–in conjunction with docile boards of directors–have the power to set their own incomes. (One way to counter the setting of obscenely high salaries is a progressive tax–which becomes confiscatory as incomes become too high. In such cases the CEO finds that all his/her extra salary will go to the government, so there will be no incentive for sky high compensation.)
Only something like progressive taxes (on wealth better than income) can make for a fair distribution of economic resources in society.
And the tax system has to be international–regionally, or better,globally–so that wealth cannot be transferred to other countries to avoid the taxes.
 
And Piketty backs this up with voluminous statistical date–enhanced by all sorts of other sources, even fascinating references to the economic circumstances of the characters in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

JFK and Don Draper

DON DRAPERJFK MARILYN

From My Political Science 367 class, answer to comment 1st, then comment:

Well Kennedy was human for sure, but so was Kaiser Wilhelm. Not comparing, but… I’d like to revisit the Context of these quotes. Remember that this was the period of “MADMEN” and adult males were not as housebroken as today.

Author: Valerie Lovo Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:10:17 AM EDT Subject: RE: DISCUSSION 2 COLD WAR 1961-69

“I would rather take my television black and white and have the largest rockets in the world.”

A nice provocative quote from JFK. I personally like John F. Kennedy and think that he was a wonderful president, especially during the time of the cold war. He possessed traits that were unseen in any presidency before. Among the quite I chose, there’s too many from JFK that were provocative and quite controversial. I think the statement above that he made was clever and a bit witty as well. At this point in time we have people such as Richard Nixon stating that “we were ahead in color television” and people like JFK ridiculing him. JFK believed that the United States was losing the cold war at that they had gone soft in physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. I like how even in a tense time with the Soviet Union, the president was able to express himself in a free way that was unlike any other. JFK couldn’t have been a better spokesperson for this considering his exuberant charisma and good nature. I believe that the United States had good chances in recovering from their “softness” because they had a leader who was driven. 

This is probably unrelated to the Cold War itself, but it is another clever and provocative quote from JFK during the times of the cold war. He states “who gives a sh*t about minimum wage”. Even in foreign affairs president Kennedy proved his toughness. I think this post would be good in describing the people who stated these quotes and their tenure during the cold war. Without a doubt, the cold war was controversial in itself, but the leaders of the world within that time also had their fair shares of controversy.

Here are some highlights of the GOP budget: from Campaign for America’s future

 

 

 OK! NOW LET THE DEBATE BEGIN! ARE WE ON BOARD WITH THIS? fls
Campaign for America's Future
Republicans aren’t ashamed or embarrassed. They have big ideas to remake America and they are gearing up for a fight.Here are some highlights of the GOP budget:

  • 11 million families, seniors and children lose food stamps.
  • 35,000 children cut from Head Start.
  • 133,000 poor families denied housing assistance.
  • $1.2 billion cuts from education. That’s 4,500 schools 17,000 teachers!

The House GOP plan replaces Medicare with a system of coupons. They slash services.  That’s 500,000 fewer rides to doctors and grocery stores.  These are our parents and grandparents.

Campaign for America’s Future has heard these terrible ideas before. We’ve exposed them and helped defeat them. We’ve done this for almost 20 years.

Can you help us fight the GOP’s dangerous and dishonest plan for America?

This is a fight we undertake together.  We don’t have major corporations or billiionaires paying for these campaigns.  We have peopel like you.  If you are struggling, use your voice and tell your friends and neighbors what is going on.  If you can afford to make a donation of any amount, know that it truly does make a difference and that we never, ever take you for granted.

Thank you for your commitment.

A STUDENT TEACHER EXCHANGE ON A NUCLEAR DOOMSDAY SCENARIO this Semester Amer. For. Policy

HYDROGEN BOMB TEST

Frederick Shiels INSTRUCTOR MANAGER
THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO

t
It is 1975. You are president of the United States. There has been a thaw in relations with the USSR (Nixon) but both side still have about 12,000 nuclear warheads each. Most of these can reach their targets via submarine, bomber, or ICBM within 60-90 minutes. If all of the weapons were launched based on a crisis or, worse, a misperceived attack by one side, the explosive power released would be 1 million times that of the a-bombs dropped on Japan.
Now, think carefully. All of your intelligence services confirm that for some in credible reason, about 1,000 Soviet missiles have been launched and headed for the US. This would average about 20 H-bombs per state, more than enough to end 99.999% of all life in the US. Cities and towns would be burned to a crisp (yes, Alaska, too). The rural areas would received a toxic soup of radiation that would finish off even people in remote areas within a few weeks. As Khrushchev once said, “the survivors would envy the dead”.
Again, You hold the power to act in this very short time. Your country is finished– almost certainly, within 2 hours. Done deal. What do you do?
The answer may not be as easy as it looks, and there may be more than one answer, but probably only one GOOD answer. No penalty for whatever answer you choose. Reward for thought-ful answers.

Author: Andrew Moran Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 2:07:35 PM EDT Subject: RE: THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO
Drat, the date is 8 years before I could go with Plan A: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/march-23-1983-reagan-proposes-star-wars-missile-defense-system/ . Particle beams aside…This scenario comes down to “Well, we’re dead so how many people do we take with us?” My first thought would be fire more nukes at the incoming nukes! However that’d kill a lot of people very quickly.
You’d figure the nuclear warheads would meet over the ocean. Well, mission accomplished, sure a lot of dead fish and a lot more unusable water, however we live, right? Nope, first the contaminated water would spread. Also, there were a set of tests called HANE (High-Altitude Nuclear Explosion). The USSR and America wanted to see what would happen if nuclear missiles were used at high altitudes. Turns out it results in a much bigger and quicker spreading explosion and the radiation spreads faster and travels much greater distances.
I bring this up because this means we’re all dead anyway if I go with this option. The warheads would meet and explode in the air and then kill us and most likely anyway.
Plan two, Launch our nuclear weapons and take Russia out. This means countries next to them would also be effected, so goodbye China, Ukraine, and Poland.
Plan three, flee the country and leave my citizens unaware of the threat until they all die. Let’s just scrap this idea right now.
Plan four, attempt to open diplomatic channels with the USSR and hope they disarm the warheads and let us live.
I think I’d go with plan five. Launch 10,758 nuclear warheads at Russia. Then divide the remaining 1,242 warheads and launch three at each countries capital, two in their most populated area, and lastly ten into the moon because at this point, why not? I’d leave Canada alone, this is simply because this is my hypothetical and I like moose. Now every country (besides the moose-rich Canada) has two hours to talk to each other and come about a peaceful solution that doesn’t mean the end of earth. I’d call this my bigger stick policy. Where I run loudly and carry a large nuclear stockpile and all of my warheads have a single stick painted on them.
This would mean either everyone disarms their nuclear stockpiles or we all die (except the moose). While this goes on I would inform my citizens. This would cause one of two results. First, they all do as we, the government have taught them and run to the nearest school and hide under their desks and we all know desks stop nuclear warheads. Second, mass looting and panic. At least I can say I’m honest and up front with the people of my country.

Really droll and provocative, Andrew and I won’t show all my cards at once. I may need to read through this again but I want to stress: 1. It is not what the president does With Himself that is the point (think Henry Fonda, FAILSAFE) but what he does as president on behalf of the country and the World/Mankind., 2. Help me understand the benefit of the pinpoint targeting of the USSR to take out an additional 200 million or so lives, or, more likely, ensure that 90% of the World’s population will die fast or worse slow deaths. Just checkin’. Good work.
p.s. absent a technology you don’t mention, there is close to zero chance that any warheads would meet and explode in the air. Just as when the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies collide in 4 billion years, the is almost no chance that any 2 stars will collide (law of large numbers/distances).
pps right, scrap #3 because the President could not make it much past the White House heli-pad before the nukes hit the fan
scrap # 4 because they no can disarm missiles in the air in 1975 (reliably, if Ever), much less open up diplo- channels.

What do we do with Inequality and what does that mean to You ?

ORIGINALLY POSTED IN 2013 BUT SEEMS TIMELY AND WILL BE A DISCUSSION POINT IN HONORS POLITICAL SCIENCE 190 AT MERCY COLLEGE 3/3/2015

  1. MuscootHousePITTSBURG SLUMS
  2. Blog post on What do we do with Inequality and what does that mean to You?This is the first of an ongoing series, with some dialogue and comment, we hope. It is are that we will take an extended passage from a journal and launch a discussion series based on this. But I encountered a rare passage from an author in MONTHLY REVIEW (not always the most vivid of progressive publications) that I found so compelling that I want the first “cut” to speak for itself. Imagine at a very practical level, what it is like to “grow up with advantages” in modern America—and without them. See how this passage captures that, and drawing implications should follow. Our source is from Michael Yates in the March 12, 2012 issue of MR, pp. 9-10 in an Article entitled “The Great Inequality,” … he quotes at length from his own book, Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012) pp.58-59… (Yates is co-editor of Monthly Review and an economist, formerly of the U. of Pennsylvania): In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I lived for many years, there is an extraordinarily wealthy family, the Hillmans, with a net worth of several billion dollars. One of their homes, along once fashionable Fifth Avenue, is a gorgeous mansion on a magnificent piece of property. About three miles east of this residence is the Homewood section of the city, whose mean streets have been made famous by the writer John Edgar Wideman. OnNorth Lang Street there is a row of three connected apartments. One of the end apartments has been abandoned to the elements to the rodents and drug users. This is gang territory, and if you are African-American, you do not go there wearing the wrong colors. Poverty, deep and grinding, in rampant on this street and in this neighborhood, which has one of the nation’s highest infant mortality rates. Consider two children, one born in the Hillman house and another in the North Lang Street apartment. In the former there are two rich and influential parents. In the latter there is a single mother working nights with three small children. Let us ask some basic questions. Which mother will have the best health care, with regular visits to the doctor, medicine if needed and a healthy diet? Which child is more likely to have a normal birth weight? Which child is likely to get adequate health care and have good healthcare in early childhood? If the poor child does not have these things, who will return to this child the brain cells lost as a consequence? Which child is more likely to suffer the ill effects of lead poisoning? Which child is more likely to have an older sibling, just 12 years old, be responsible for him when the mother is working at night? Who will be fed cookies for supper and be entertained by an old television set? If the two children get ill in the middle of the night, which one will be more likely to make it to the emergency room in time? Which child will start school speaking standard English, wearing new clothes, and having someone at home to make sure the homework gets done? Which child will travel, and which will barely make it out of the neighborhood? As the two children grow up, what sort of people will they meet? Which will be more likely to meet persons who could be useful to them when seeking admission to college or looking for a job or trying to find funding for a business venture? Which will be more likely to be hit by a stray bullet fired in a war over drug turf? Which will go to the better school? Which will have access to books, magazines, newspapers, and computers in the home? Which one will wear worn-out clothes?  Which will be embarrassed because his clothes smell? Which will be more likely to have caring teachers who work in well equipped and safe schools? Which will be afraid to tell the teacher that he does not have crayons and colored paper at home? Which will learn the grammar and the syntax of the rich? Which child will join a gang? Abuse drugs? Commit a crime? Be harassed by the police because he is black? When these two children face the labor market, which will be more productive? 

    To ask these questions is to answer them. And when we considered that the poor child in the United States is better off than two thirds of the world’s population, we must consider that most of the world’s people live in a condition of deprivation so extreme that they must be considered to have almost no opportunities at all. They are almost as condemned as a person on death row in a Texas prison.

     

     

    Strong words? Yes. Mr. Yates would not back down from a single one of them, nor would we. Please let us know what You think.

No Good Options: Timothy Frye on the “Ukraine Problem”

 

UKRAINE PRESIDENT AND OBAMA

No Good Options

 

, Harriman Institute, Columbia University, February 2015

| U.S. FOREIGN POLICY | UKRAINE | EU | NATO |

 

No GOOD options but you know you want to know the options that exist.

 

 

This article originally appeared in U.S. News & World Report

In response to a heightened Russian presence among the rebels in eastern Ukraine in recent months, some of the country’s most prominent foreign policy experts have argued that the U.S. should provide lethal assistance to Ukraine. In line with deterrence theory, they advocate sharply increasing U.S. lethal and nonlethal military aid to Kiev to prevent new gains by the rebels, deter Russian expansion elsewhere and compel a peace agreement. Indeed, the threat of arming Ukrainian soldiers with U.S. weapons may have been a factor in producing the cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk this week.

Calls to arm Ukraine have helped to galvanize diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis, and over the longer term, the Ukrainian Army will need more weapons and better training, if only to enforce any peace agreement. However, sending large-scale lethal aid to Ukraine also raises three risks that should be weighed against the potential benefits of deterring the Kremlin.

First, rather than undermining Russian President Vladimir Putin by turning public opinion against him, arming Ukraine may have the opposite effect. The advocates of arming Ukraine are correct to suggest that Putin is constrained by public opinion. The Kremlin has always closely monitored public opinion as it is far easier to be a popular (rather than an unpopular) autocrat. Moreover, there is little public support for using Russian troops in Ukraine – that is whyjournalists who report on Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine have been beaten, and the Kremlin continues to deny involvement in Ukraine against vast evidence to the contrary.

Calls to arm Ukraine have helped to galvanize diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis, and over the longer term, the Ukrainian Army will need more weapons and better training, if only to enforce any peace agreement.

If Russian bodies come home at the hands of Ukrainians, most Russians may see it is a tragedy. But if U.S. arms are seen as the cause, Russians may rally around Putin and in favor of a harder line toward Ukraine. Last week a national sample of Russians was asked: What is going on in Ukraine?” Only 3 percent called the events in Ukraine a “Western provocation.” Most respondents called it a civil war (50 percent), anarchy (17 percent) or genocide/terror (17 percent). The same survey found that 67 percent of respondents were against introducing troops into Ukraine, only 20 percent in favor, and 13 percent undecided – results little changed over the last nine months. Despite a blistering campaign of war hysteria directed against the government in Kiev and its supporters in Washington, few Russians favor sending troops to the region. But with anti-American sentiment in Russia running high, sending U.S. weapons to Ukraine risks turning public opinion in favor of introducing Russian troops and freeing Putin from this constraint.

Second, sending arms now raises military risks as well. Ukrainian solders are fighting valiantly, but the Ukrainian army itself is in disarray, and it is unclear that the weapons will be used effectively. Kiev is losing the war not primarily because they lack anti-tank weapons, but due to disorganization, fragmentation and poor communications. Moreover, weapons will not likely arrive for several months, which will give the rebels and their Russian supporters incentives to escalate the conflict before the weapons arrive. A worst-case scenario for the Obama administration would be to arm the Ukrainians only to have the weapons be used ineffectively or end up in the hands of the rebels.

If the weapons do impose costs on the separatist armies and their Russian backers, Moscow has myriad options to raise the stakes. Before sending weapons, the U.S. and its allies should be sure that they are willing to match a likely next round of escalation. As Raj Menon asks: What’s Plan B? Would the U.S. provide more weapons? Would these be any more effective? Would sending arms simply prolong the conflict as some studies suggest? These questions are important because eastern Ukraine likely matters more to Russia than to the U.S. and its allies. Backing down after providing arms may cause greater damage to the credibility of Europe and the U.S. than not providing arms at all.

Many have argued that providing lethal aid to Ukraine will demonstrate resolve and deter Russia from its expansionist aims in Ukraine and elsewhere. While Putin may harbor dreams of recreating a Russian empire, he has come to them under pressure, and not from a position of strength. Talk of Novorossiya has faded. If territorial expansion were the prime objective, the Kremlin likely would have struck much deeper into Ukraine with much larger numbers earlier in the crisis when the Ukrainian government was in even greater disarray. Moreover, creating and defending a land bridge from Donetsk to the Crimea is not an easy task. And as Mark Kramer notes, Russia has sought to create similar beachheads of illegality and coercion in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Moldova over the last 20 years, but has not gone much beyond that. Some form of special status for Donetsk and Luhansk within Ukraine – as odious as it is – might serve Moscow well enough. For what it is worth, recent survey evidence from Donetsk and Luhansk suggests that this is the outcome preferred by most residents in the separatist enclaves.

If the U.S. begins running a proxy war on Russia’s border – and make no mistake that would be the result – it is important that the Europeans go along.

Third, and most important, sending lethal aid to Ukraine at this time risks fracturing the alliance of Western nations who have borne considerable economic and political costs to pressure the Kremlin. The best argument for sending lethal weapons to Ukraine is that this will signal the resolve of the Western alliance, but this argument holds only if Europe and the U.S. hang together.

If the U.S. begins running a proxy war on Russia’s border – and make no mistake that would be the result – it is important that the Europeans go along. This will be difficult as some NATO and EU members have expressed skepticism about extending economic sanctions against Russia – let alone sending weapons to Ukraine.

If the alliance of Western nation splits, economic sanctions against Russia would end at the earliest possible convenience and Ukraine’s dream of joining the EU would evaporate as some EU members will surely fault it for not accepting a political deal with Russia. Before sending weapons, it is important for the Obama administration to ensure that doing so will not endanger the alliance. Putin is playing not just for influence in Ukraine. A far greater victory for Moscow would be to generate deep and lasting fissures within NATO and the European Union.

The choices for the Obama administration are bad. The choices for the Ukrainian government are worse. The economy is near collapse, the state is in tatters, and the war has exacerbated these problems. Should the cease-fire scheduled to begin on Sunday fail, as many expect it will, the Obama administration will face a very difficult choice about arming Ukraine that should be weighed carefully against these risks.

This article originally appeared in U.S. News & World Report

 

NPR REPORTS ON A MISSISSIPPI FEDERAL JUDGE’S WORDS AT SENTENCING

The speech got quite a bit of press attention, and I am interested in the reactions of my readers. NPR.ORG Feb. 15, 2015

original URL is http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2015/02/12/385777366/a-black-mississippi-judges-breathtaking-speech-to-three-white-murderers?utm_source=npr_email_a_friend&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20150215&utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_term=

A Black Mississippi Judge’s Breathtaking Speech To 3 White Murderers

FEBRUARY 13, 201512:54 PM ET
U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, for the Southern District of Mississippi.

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Courtesy of cleoinc.org

Here’s an astonishing speech by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, one of just two African-Americans to have ever served as federal judges in Mississippi. He read it to three young white men before sentencing them for the death of a 48-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson in a parking lot in Jackson, Miss., one night in 2011. They were part of a group that beat Anderson and then killed him by running over his body with a truck, yelling “white power” as they drove off.

The speech is long; Reeves asked the young men to sit down while he read it aloud in the courtroom. And it’s breathtaking, in both the moral force of its arguments and the palpable sadness with which they are delivered. We have decided to publish the speech, which we got from the blog Breach of Peace, in its entirety below. A warning to readers: He uses the word “nigger” 11 times.

One of my former history professors, Dennis Mitchell, recently released a history book entitled, A New History of Mississippi. “Mississippi,” he says, “is a place and a state of mind. The name evokes strong reactions from those who live here and from those who do not, but who think they know something about its people and their past.” Because of its past, as described by Anthony Walton in his book, Mississippi: An American Journey, Mississippi “can be considered one of the most prominent scars on the map” of these United States. Walton goes on to explain that “there is something different about Mississippi; something almost unspeakably primal and vicious; something savage unleashed there that has yet to come to rest.” To prove his point, he notes that, “[o]f the 40 martyrs whose names are inscribed in the national Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL, 19 were killed in Mississippi.” “How was it,” Walton asks, “that half who died did so in one state?” — my Mississippi, your Mississippi and our Mississippi.

Mississippi has expressed its savagery in a number of ways throughout its history — slavery being the cruelest example, but a close second being Mississippi’s infatuation with lynchings. Lynchings were prevalent, prominent and participatory. A lynching was a public ritual — even carnival-like — within many states in our great nation. While other states engaged in these atrocities, those in the Deep South took a leadership role, especially that scar on the map of America — those 82 counties between the Tennessee line and the Gulf of Mexico and bordered by Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama.

Vivid accounts of brutal and terrifying lynchings in Mississippi are chronicled in various sources: Ralph Ginzburg’s 100 Years of Lynching and Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, just to name two. But I note that today, the Equal Justice Initiative released Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror; apparently, it too is a must-read.

In Without Sanctuary, historian Leon Litwack writes that between 1882 and 1968 an estimated 4,742 blacks met their deaths at the hands of lynch mobs. The impact this campaign of terror had on black families is impossible to explain so many years later. That number contrasts with the 1,401 prisoners who have been executed legally in the United States since 1976. In modern terms, that number represents more than those killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and more than twice the number of American casualties in Operation Enduring Freedom — the Afghanistan conflict. Turning to home, this number also represents 1,700 more than who were killed on Sept. 11. Those who died at the hands of mobs, Litwack notes, some were the victims of “legal” lynchings — having been accused of a crime, subjected to a “speedy” trial and even speedier execution. Some were victims of private white violence and some were merely the victims of “nigger hunts” — murdered by a variety of means in isolated rural sections and dumped into rivers and creeks. “Back in those days,” according to black Mississippians describing the violence of the 1930s, “to kill a Negro wasn’t nothing. It was like killing a chicken or killing a snake. The whites would say, ‘niggers jest supposed to die, ain’t no damn good anyway — so jest go an’ kill ’em.’ … They had to have a license to kill anything but a nigger. We was always in season.” Said one white Mississippian, “A white man ain’t a-going to be able to live in this country if we let niggers start getting biggity.” And, even when lynchings had decreased in and around Oxford, one white resident told a visitor of the reaffirming quality of lynchings: “It’s about time to have another [one],” he explained, “[w]hen the niggers get so that they are afraid of being lynched, it is time to put the fear in them.”

How could hate, fear or whatever it was transform genteel, God-fearing, God-loving Mississippians into mindless murderers and sadistic torturers? I ask that same question about the events which bring us together on this day. Those crimes of the past, as well as these, have so damaged the psyche and reputation of this great state.

Mississippi soil has been stained with the blood of folk whose names have become synonymous with the civil rights movement like Emmett Till, Willie McGee, James Cheney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Vernon Dahmer, George W. Lee, Medgar Evers and Mack Charles Parker. But the blood of the lesser-known people like Luther Holbert and his wife, Elmo Curl, Lloyd Clay, John Hartfield, Nelse Patton, Lamar Smith, Clinton Melton, Ben Chester White, Wharlest Jackson and countless others, saturates these 48,434 square miles of Mississippi soil. On June 26, 2011, four days short of his 49th birthday, the blood of James Anderson was added to Mississippi’s soil.

The common denominator of the deaths of these individuals was not their race. It was not that they all were engaged in freedom fighting. It was not that they had been engaged in criminal activity, trumped up or otherwise. No, the common denominator was that the last thing that each of these individuals saw was the inhumanity of racism. The last thing that each felt was the audacity and agony of hate, senseless hate: crippling, maiming them and finally taking away their lives.

Mississippi has a tortured past, and it has struggled mightily to reinvent itself and become a New Mississippi. New generations have attempted to pull Mississippi from the abyss of moral depravity in which it once so proudly floundered in. Despite much progress and the efforts of the new generations, these three defendants are before me today: Deryl Paul Dedmon, Dylan Wade Butler and John Aaron Rice. They and their co-conspirators ripped off the scab of the healing scars of Mississippi … causing her (our Mississippi) to bleed again.

Hate comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and from this case, we know it comes in different sexes and ages. A toxic mix of alcohol, foolishness and unadulterated hatred caused these young people to resurrect the nightmarish specter of lynchings and lynch mobs from the Mississippi we long to forget. Like the marauders of ages past, these young folk conspired, planned, and coordinated a plan of attack on certain neighborhoods in the city of Jackson for the sole purpose of harassing, terrorizing, physically assaulting and causing bodily injury to black folk. They punched and kicked them about their bodies — their heads, their faces. They prowled. They came ready to hurt. They used dangerous weapons; they targeted the weak; they recruited and encouraged others to join in the coordinated chaos; and they boasted about their shameful activity. This was a 2011 version of the nigger hunts.

Though the media and the public attention of these crimes have been focused almost exclusively on the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, the defendants’ terror campaign is not limited to this one incident. There were many scenes and many actors in this sordid tale which played out over days, weeks and months. There are unknown victims like the John Doe at the golf course who begged for his life and the John Doe at the service station. Like a lynching, for these young folk going out to “Jafrica” was like a carnival outing. It was funny to them — an excursion which culminated in the death of innocent, African-American James Craig Anderson. On June 26, 2011, the fun ended.

But even after Anderson’s murder, the conspiracy continued … And, only because of a video, which told a different story from that which had been concocted by these defendants, and the investigation of law enforcement — state and federal law enforcement working together — was the truth uncovered.

What is so disturbing … so shocking … so numbing … is that these nigger hunts were perpetrated by our children … students who live among us … educated in our public schools … in our private academies … students who played football lined up on the same side of scrimmage line with black teammates … average students and honor students. Kids who worked during school and in the summers; kids who now had full-time jobs and some of whom were even unemployed. Some were pursuing higher education and the Court believes they each had dreams to pursue. These children were from two-parent homes and some of whom were the children of divorced parents, and yes some even raised by a single parent. No doubt, they all had loving parents and loving families.

In letters received on his behalf, Dylan Butler, whose outing on the night of June 26 was not his first, has been described as “a fine young man,” “a caring person,” “a well mannered man” who is truly remorseful and wants to move on with his life … a very respectful … a good man … a good person … a lovable, kindhearted teddy bear who stands in front of bullies … and who is now ashamed of what he did. Butler’s family is a mixed-race family: For the last 15 years, it has consisted of an African-American stepfather and stepsister, plus his mother and two sisters. The family, according to the stepfather, understandably is “saddened and heartbroken.”

These were everyday students like John Aaron Rice, who got out of his truck, struck James Anderson in the face and kept him occupied until others arrived. … Rice was involved in multiple excursions to so-called “Jafrica”, but he, for some time, according to him and his mother, and an African-American friend shared his home address.

And, sadly, Deryl Dedmon, who straddled James Anderson and struck him repeatedly in the face and head with his closed fists. He too was a “normal” young man indistinguishable in so many ways from his peers. Not completely satisfied with the punishment to which he subjected James Anderson, he “deliberately used his vehicle to run over James Anderson — killing him.” Dedmon now acknowledges he was filled with anger.

I asked the question earlier, but what could transform these young adults into the violent creatures their victims saw? It was nothing the victims did … they were not championing any cause … political … social … economic … nothing they did … not a wolf whistle … not a supposed crime … nothing they did. There is absolutely no doubt that in the view of the court the victims were targeted because of their race.

The simple fact is that what turned these children into criminal defendants was their joint decision to act on racial hatred. In the eyes of these defendants (and their co-conspirators) the victims were doomed at birth. … Their genetic makeup made them targets.

In the name of White Power, these young folk went to “Jafrica” to “fuck with some niggers!” — echoes of Mississippi’s past. White Power! Nigger! According to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, that word, nigger, is the “universally recognized opprobrium, stigmatizing African-Americans because of their race.” It’s the nuclear bomb of racial epithets — as Farai Chideya has described the term. With their words, with their actions — “I just ran that nigger over” — there is no doubt that these crimes were motivated by the race of the victims. And from his own pen, Dedmon, sadly and regretfully wrote that he did it out of “hatred and bigotry.”

The court must respond to one letter it received from one identified as a youth leader in Dylan Butler’s church — a mentor, he says — and who describes Dylan as “a good person.” The point that “[t]here are plenty of criminals that deserve to be incarcerated,” is well taken. Your point that Dylan is not one of them — not a criminal … is belied by the facts and the law. Dylan was an active participant in this activity, and he deserves to be incarcerated under the law. What these defendants did was ugly … it was painful … it is sad … and it is indeed criminal.

In the Mississippi we have tried to bury, when there was a jury verdict for those who perpetrated crimes and committed lynchings in the name of White Power … that verdict typically said that the victim died at the hands of persons unknown. The legal and criminal justice system operated with ruthless efficiency in upholding what these defendants would call White Power.

Today, though, the criminal justice system (state and federal) has proceeded methodically, patiently and deliberately seeking justice. Today we learned the identities of the persons unknown … they stand here publicly today. The sadness of this day also has an element of irony to it: Each defendant was escorted into court by agents of an African-American United States Marshal, having been prosecuted by a team of lawyers which includes an African-American AUSA from an office headed by an African-American U.S. attorney — all under the direction of an African-American attorney general, for sentencing before a judge who is African-American, whose final act will be to turn over the care and custody of these individuals to the BOP [Federal Bureau of Prisons] — an agency headed by an African-American.

Today we take another step away from Mississippi’s tortured past … we move farther away from the abyss. Indeed, Mississippi is a place and a state of mind. And those who think they know about her people and her past will also understand that her story has not been completely written. Mississippi has a present and a future. That present and future has promise. As demonstrated by the work of the officers within these state and federal agencies — black and white, male and female, in this Mississippi they work together to advance the rule of law. Having learned from Mississippi’s inglorious past, these officials know that in advancing the rule of law, the criminal justice system must operate without regard to race, creed or color. This is the strongest way Mississippi can reject those notions — those ideas which brought us here today.

At their guilty plea hearings, Deryl Paul Dedmon, Dylan Wade Butler and John Aaron Rice told the world exactly what their roles were … it is ugly … it is painful … it is sad … it is criminal.

The court now sentences the defendants as follows: [The specific sentences are not part of the judge’s prepared remarks.]

The court has considered the advisory guidelines computations and the sentencing factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). The court has considered the defendants’ history and characteristics. The court has also considered unusual circumstances — the extraordinary circumstances — and the peculiar seriousness and gravity of those offenses. I have paid special attention to the plea agreements and the recommendations of the United States. I have read the letters received on behalf of the defendants. I believe these sentences provide just punishment to each of these defendants and equally important, I believe they serve as adequate deterrence to others and I hope that these sentences will discourage others from heading down a similar life-altering path. I have considered the sentencing guidelines and the policy statements and the law. These sentences are the result of much thought and deliberation.

These sentences will not bring back James Craig Anderson nor will they restore the lives they enjoyed prior to 2011. The court knows that James Anderson’s mother, who is now 89 years old, lived through the horrors of the Old Mississippi, and the court hopes that she and her family can find peace in knowing that with these sentences, in the New Mississippi, justice is truly blind. Justice, however, will not be complete unless these defendants use the remainder of their lives to learn from this experience and fully commit to making a positive difference in the New Mississippi. And, finally, the court wishes that the defendants also can find peace.

HECTOR CORREA ON THE BRIAN WILLIAMS FLAP

 

BRIAN WILLIAMS

Hector Correa is a 22 year army veteran and JROTC instructor. He served in Korea and Bosnia among other deployments. He is also a student in my AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY course. fls

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/02/09/psychiatrists-view-why-would-brian-williams-make-up-stories/?intcmp=latestnews 

This is a disturbing story on how Brian Williams, an anchor man on NBC misled the American people when he falsely reported that his helicopter was shot at while he was in Iraq. This article on the attached website is from a psychiatrist’s view of what he thinks of the situation.

“I have never evaluated Brian Williams, but this question could be asked:  Why wasn’t the truth about each of the stories that Williams seems to have embellished enough?  What leads a man to make him look even more courageous than the courage he displayed?  What leads a man to cast himself as the leading man in dramas that course through even greater dangers than the very real perils that unfolded?”

 

Of course the next question is what else has he lied about? This is a person who is viewed by millions of people every day and to be so irresponsible in the information he puts out should be a crime. People like this in the media carry a lot of influence and must be held accountable for their actions. The article goes on discussing the psychiatrist’s analysis on why he thinks Brian Williams did it. The psychiatrist main point is that Mr. Williams wanted to be a part of something big that he could only dream of, but probably never experience.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/02/09/psychiatrists-view-why-would-brian-williams-make-up-stories/?intcmp=latestnews 

 

Obama, in 2015 State of the Union, says crisis has passed and takes credit: Washington Post 1/21/15

OBAMA STATE OF UNION 2015

Judge for yourself. We think it couldn’t have been done much better, except possibly for a few Machiavellian struts on fighting terrorism. But hey, if he needs that!

Politics
Obama, in 2015 State of the Union, says crisis has passed and takes credit

WASHINGTON POST
Here are the highlights from President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech, including zingers on climate change and calls for tax reform.
By David Nakamura January 21 at 12:17 AM
President Obama, who took office six years ago amid a historic recession and two U.S. wars, declared unequivocally Tuesday that the nation had clawed its way out of those dire straits, praising Americans for their resilience but also pointedly taking credit for leading the way.
“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama said in his sixth State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.
After years of fighting with Republicans over where to take the country, Obama delivered an hour-long defense of his policies that at times sounded like a victory lap. He asserted that the brightening economic picture — including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices — had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along.
The president had been cautious over the past two years not to gloat over news of fitful economic growth, mindful that the economy remained tenuous and public confidence uneasy. But with the jobless rate well below 6 percent, the stock market nearing record highs and his job-approval ratings rebounding, Obama on Tuesday night dropped his veneer of reserve and appeared to delight in having proved his critics wrong.
“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” he said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”
State of the Union 2015

View Photos
President Obama’s address focused on issues facing the middle class
“So the verdict is clear,” Obama said.
At times Tuesday, Obama chided Republicans to help improve Washington’s political discourse. He harked back to the themes of national unity that helped him get elected in the first place in 2008 and called for more bipartisan cooperation on key issues.
But in doing so, Obama also served to remind the GOP of the reasons their relationship is so fraught — pausing at one point from his prepared text to deliver a spontaneous, and quite partisan, barb. When Republicans jokingly applauded after Obama noted that he had run his last campaign, the president quipped: “I know because I won both of them.”
Obama took the spotlight in front of Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) intent on proving that he would remain relevant in the final quarter of his presidency as the race to replace him next year begins.
Just two months after Democrats suffered a severe blow in the midterm elections, when voters handed control of both chambers to the GOP for the first time during his tenure, Obama’s speech came amid warnings from Republicans to avoid divisive rhetoric and policies.
“Tonight isn’t about the president’s legacy. It’s about the people’s priorities,” Boehner said in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. “Making the government bigger isn’t going to help the middle class. More growth and more opportunity will help the middle class, and those are the Republican priorities.”
But Obama had told allies that he would not kowtow to GOP demands despite the party’s new majorities. The president announced early in his speech that he would focus less on the usual laundry list of new proposals — the White House had revealed most of them ahead of time — and instead focus on the “values at stake” for the American people moving forward.
VIEW GRAPHIC
The Washington Post looks back at some of the top issues of 2014.
He framed portions of his address around a letter he received from a woman in Minneapolis named Rebekah Erler, who said that she and her husband struggled to pay bills during the recession shortly after they were married and had a son.
“We are a strong, tightknit family who has made it through some very, very hard times,” Obama said, quoting a letter from Erler, whom he visited during a trip to the Midwest last summer. She was among the guests in first lady Michelle Obama’s box.
The president said Erler’s story was a metaphor for the nation’s. “It’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger,” Obama said. “Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We have laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write.”
In the wake of the GOP rout in the midterms, the president responded by announcing a series of aggressive executive actions, including measures toprotect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, to work toward reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and to strike a climate agreement with China.
The moves angered Republicans, who challenged the president to heed the message of voters.
Instead, the White House continued its strategy into the new year, rolling out the major proposals for the next year in a presidential tour ahead of the State of the Union address. Obama laid out proposals to revamp the tax code by raising taxes and fees on the wealthiest Americans and largest financial institutions — and using the money to pay for free tuition for two years of community college and for a $500 tax credit for married couples in which both spouses have jobs.
Though the White House knew the ideas have a slim chance of being approved by lawmakers, the point was to start a debate on Obama’s terms. And the president and his advisers were determined to begin to frame his legacy as having delivered on his promise to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
On foreign policy, Obama sought to build on the idea, first enunciated during a lengthy speech at West Point last spring, of a “smarter kind of American leadership” in which the United States balances military intervention with diplomacy and coalition-building.
Obama has made the case in recent weeks, as he marked the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, that the nation is safer after more than a decade of combat abroad — even though he authorized renewed U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State militant group.
American leadership “is stopping ISIL’s advance,” Obama said, using an acronym for the group. But such a declaration seemed premature, set against images Tuesday of two orange-clad Japanese hostages kneeling in the desert before a black-robed militant.
Ahead of the speech, cable networks showed footage of U.S. Navy warships stationed in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, where the government was in danger of collapsing and the U.S. Embassy was potentially at risk, providing stark reminders about the threats to American values around the world.
In addition to the annual State of the Union traditions — such as Obama’s lunch with television news anchors at the White House — presidential aides noted that Obama spoke Tuesday with French President François Hollande about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.
“The State of the Union & the State of the World are far from alignment,” Ian Bremmer, president of the risk analysis firm Eurasia Group, observed on Twitter.
But Obama was determined to project an optimistic view of the nation’s future, and he maintained faith that the country could rise above its divisions. He alluded to his own diverse upbringing in Hawaii and Chicago and cited his keynote address as an Illinois state senator at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which launched him on the national political radar as a bright young prospect for higher office.
“A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” Obama said Tuesday. “A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”
The president acknowledged that he had heard the political pundits declare since he took office six years ago that he had failed to make good on his vision at a time when “our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naive.”
To the contrary, Obama insisted, as he pledged to keep working to change Washington, even as he was, in many ways, declaring victory over his rivals.
“I want this chamber, I want this city, to reflect the truth,” he said, “that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort.”

Politics
Obama, in 2015 State of the Union, says crisis has passed and takes credit
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options

Resize Text Print Article Comments 3589

Here are the highlights from President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech, including zingers on climate change and calls for tax reform.
By David Nakamura January 21 at 12:17 AM
President Obama, who took office six years ago amid a historic recession and two U.S. wars, declared unequivocally Tuesday that the nation had clawed its way out of those dire straits, praising Americans for their resilience but also pointedly taking credit for leading the way.

“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama said in his sixth State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.

After years of fighting with Republicans over where to take the country, Obama delivered an hour-long defense of his policies that at times sounded like a victory lap. He asserted that the brightening economic picture — including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices — had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along.

The president had been cautious over the past two years not to gloat over news of fitful economic growth, mindful that the economy remained tenuous and public confidence uneasy. But with the jobless rate well below 6 percent, the stock market nearing record highs and his job-approval ratings rebounding, Obama on Tuesday night dropped his veneer of reserve and appeared to delight in having proved his critics wrong.

“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” he said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”

State of the Union 2015
View Photos President Obama’s address focused on issues facing the middle class
“So the verdict is clear,” Obama said.

At times Tuesday, Obama chided Republicans to help improve Washington’s political discourse. He harked back to the themes of national unity that helped him get elected in the first place in 2008 and called for more bipartisan cooperation on key issues.

But in doing so, Obama also served to remind the GOP of the reasons their relationship is so fraught — pausing at one point from his prepared text to deliver a spontaneous, and quite partisan, barb. When Republicans jokingly applauded after Obama noted that he had run his last campaign, the president quipped: “I know because I won both of them.”
Obama took the spotlight in front of Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) intent on proving that he would remain relevant in the final quarter of his presidency as the race to replace him next year begins.

Just two months after Democrats suffered a severe blow in the midterm elections, when voters handed control of both chambers to the GOP for the first time during his tenure, Obama’s speech came amid warnings from Republicans to avoid divisive rhetoric and policies.

“Tonight isn’t about the president’s legacy. It’s about the people’s priorities,” Boehner said in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. “Making the government bigger isn’t going to help the middle class. More growth and more opportunity will help the middle class, and those are the Republican priorities.”

But Obama had told allies that he would not kowtow to GOP demands despite the party’s new majorities. The president announced early in his speech that he would focus less on the usual laundry list of new proposals — the White House had revealed most of them ahead of time — and instead focus on the “values at stake” for the American people moving forward.

VIEW GRAPHIC
The Washington Post looks back at some of the top issues of 2014.
He framed portions of his address around a letter he received from a woman in Minneapolis named Rebekah Erler, who said that she and her husband struggled to pay bills during the recession shortly after they were married and had a son.

“We are a strong, tightknit family who has made it through some very, very hard times,” Obama said, quoting a letter from Erler, whom he visited during a trip to the Midwest last summer. She was among the guests in first lady Michelle Obama’s box.

The president said Erler’s story was a metaphor for the nation’s. “It’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger,” Obama said. “Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We have laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write.”

In the wake of the GOP rout in the midterms, the president responded by announcing a series of aggressive executive actions, including measures to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, to work toward reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and to strike a climate agreement with China.
The moves angered Republicans, who challenged the president to heed the message of voters.

Instead, the White House continued its strategy into the new year, rolling out the major proposals for the next year in a presidential tour ahead of the State of the Union address. Obama laid out proposals to revamp the tax code by raising taxes and fees on the wealthiest Americans and largest financial institutions — and using the money to pay for free tuition for two years of community college and for a $500 tax credit for married couples in which both spouses have jobs.

Though the White House knew the ideas have a slim chance of being approved by lawmakers, the point was to start a debate on Obama’s terms. And the president and his advisers were determined to begin to frame his legacy as having delivered on his promise to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

On foreign policy, Obama sought to build on the idea, first enunciated during a lengthy speech at West Point last spring, of a “smarter kind of American leadership” in which the United States balances military intervention with diplomacy and coalition-building.

Obama has made the case in recent weeks, as he marked the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, that the nation is safer after more than a decade of combat abroad — even though he authorized renewed U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State militant group.

American leadership “is stopping ISIL’s advance,” Obama said, using an acronym for the group. But such a declaration seemed premature, set against images Tuesday of two orange-clad Japanese hostages kneeling in the desert before a black-robed militant.

Ahead of the speech, cable networks showed footage of U.S. Navy warships stationed in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, where the government was in danger of collapsing and the U.S. Embassy was potentially at risk, providing stark reminders about the threats to American values around the world.

In addition to the annual State of the Union traditions — such as Obama’s lunch with television news anchors at the White House — presidential aides noted that Obama spoke Tuesday with French President François Hollande about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.
“The State of the Union & the State of the World are far from alignment,” Ian Bremmer, president of the risk analysis firm Eurasia Group, observed on Twitter.

But Obama was determined to project an optimistic view of the nation’s future, and he maintained faith that the country could rise above its divisions. He alluded to his own diverse upbringing in Hawaii and Chicago and cited his keynote address as an Illinois state senator at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which launched him on the national political radar as a bright young prospect for higher office.

“A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” Obama said Tuesday. “A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”

The president acknowledged that he had heard the political pundits declare since he took office six years ago that he had failed to make good on his vision at a time when “our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naive.”

To the contrary, Obama insisted, as he pledged to keep working to change Washington, even as he was, in many ways, declaring victory over his rivals.

“I want this chamber, I want this city, to reflect the truth,” he said, “that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort.”