Friday, August 22, 2014

Sometimes Bipartisanship Leads To A Plot Against The People Of This Country By The Beltway Political Elites


This diagram shows the ideological spectrum of the Members who supported the Grayson amendment on police demilitarization

George Bush demanded-- hysterically-- that Congress pass the TARP giveaway to banksters that came close to wrecking the economy. But it can't only be pinned on Bush; both Establishment Beltway parties were complicit in that catastrophic vote. Boehner voted for it and he was rewarded with the Speakership. Three Republicans were elected U.S. Senators: Blunt (MO), Kirk (IL) and Boozman (AR) and Mary Fallin was elected governor of Oklahoma. I bet virtually none of their constituents know they backed TARP. (Ironically 2 Democrats who voted against it-- cousins Tom and Mark Udall were elected to the Senate from New Mexico and Colorado.)Other Republicans were rewarded with other goodies for doing the wrong thing. Fred Upton (R-MI) was named chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was rewarded with the chairmanship of the House Banking Committee. Hal Rogers (R-KY) walked away with the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee. Dave Camp (R-MI) was made chair of the Ways and Means Committee. John Kline (R-MN) was given the chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Buck McKeon (R-CA) was given the chair of the House Armed Service Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) pay off was the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. And two other big backers of Bush's legislation, Steve Israel (D-NY) and Pete Sessions (R-TX) became the heads, respectively, of the DCCC and the NRCC. (Sessions later was given the chair of the House Rules Committee). You see that pattern? Republican voters may have hated TARP but the congressmembers who voted for it and passed it were given control of the party caucus. It's the way DC works. And on the Democratic side, another crook, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was eventually made head of the DNC and promised a "pathway" to the Speakership. Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn, Crowley… virtually the entire Democratic House leadership-- with the exception of Xavier Becerra (D-CA)-- voted for it too.

Who says Congress isn't bipartisan enough? More recently, as we've been writing (here, here, and here) Boehner and Pelosi both instructed their caucuses to vote against Grayson's amendment to put a stop to the militarization of local police forces. Grayson had lined up the 2 Blue Dogs-- Barrow and Matheson-- plus the 19 Republicans he needed to pass the amendment, certain his own party would back his attempt "to prohibit use of funds to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons." Military Industrial Complex whores Steny Hoyer ($992,040) and Pete Visclosky ($1,025,000) persuaded the increasingly persuadable Pelosi that Grayson's amendment was "a blunt instrument."

Writing this week for, Dr. Gabriela Lemus, executive director of Progressive Congress explained behaving as a nation at war with itself has been traumatizing for much of the country since the 1980s' so-called War on Drugs.
The confluence of the drug wars and the war on terror and its impact on local law enforcement has been a disaster. The devolving wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant finding alternative uses for surplus weapons or-- as I refer to it-- new toys for the boys. The 1033 Program, as it’s referred to, is named for a section of the National Defense Authorization Act-- a program first implemented in the early 1990s. It allows the Department of Defense to reissue billions of dollars of military equipment and sell it to domestic law enforcement forces particularly to elite units like SWAT Teams that have traditionally needed to fight the advanced weapons available to the narco-traffickers. Here’s the problem, if they have them, they will use them…

Even military veterans who went to Iraq and Afghanistan say that police in Ferguson were excessively armed. SUNY Plattsburgh professor Tom Nolan, a 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, wrote in an OpEd in DefenseOne this past June that police forces are increasingly militarizing and communities of color are hearing the message-- “You are the enemy.” As we have recently witnessed, this is a recipe for disaster.

Peaceful protesters are now angry protesters targeted with pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets. Journalists are now targets of the police and arrested for trying to do their jobs and cover the news. Michael Brown’s death and the evolving situation in Ferguson is a warning to us all. Our democracy is in peril lest we not pay heed.

We are witnessing a local law enforcement running amok and instead of protecting the safety and civil liberties of the residents, it has been employing tactics that violate the rights of citizens. Sadly, Ferguson is not alone-- there have been other incidents in New York, Los Angeles, and many others that haven’t gotten the attention of the media.

Law enforcement will continue to receive military equipment unless Congress puts a stop to it.  Yet, there is no agreement there either.  In the wake of this chaos, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., distributed a letter to his congressional colleagues saying he plans to introduce the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act,” which would further monitor, limit or eliminate sales of military equipment. On the same day, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin praised an announcement from the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Defense Logistics Agency to fully and permanently restore the DOD surplus equipment programs to benefit counties, school districts and rural fire departments.

How will it end?  Not well if cooler heads do not prevail. The militarization of our domestic law enforcement can only lead to more violence and the potential violation of human and civil rights with impunity.

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