October 4, 2022

In Trump White House, classified records routinely mishandled, aides say

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GOP’s Cruelty to Children

Polling update

BIDEN APPROVAL RATING
Five poll average 43%. One point behind 2022 high

BEST PARTY
Three poll average Democrats 2% Four points  below 2022 high 

DIRECTION OF COUNTRY
Five poll average: 27%  5  points below high this year.

CLOSE OR CHANGING SENATE RACES
State color = incumbent  party. Red= GOP lead Blue= Democratic lead

Indiana 2
Nevada 1/3 0 2
Pennsylvania 3 2 6

CLOSE OR CHANGING GOVERNOR RACES
State color = incumbent party Red= GOP lead Blue= Democratic lead

North Carolina 1

‘Pro-Life’ Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion

California wells run dry as drought depletes groundwater

This 100% solar community endured Hurricane Ian with no loss of power and minimal damage

Tales from the attic: A different cop story

Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post, 2015- There’s one issue, perhaps the only one, that Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on: reducing the population of the nation’s crowded and expensive prisons, partly through reducing sentences for low-level and nonviolent offenders.

One person who would be expected to be at the table for high-level strategizing on the issue is the chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission, former D.C. police chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. But Fulwood, who’s leaving the post after nearly six years as chairman, has yet to meet President Obama or have a one-on-one meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder, whose centerpiece initiative has been “smart on crime” prison reform…

“It is with bittersweet sorrow that I have decided to retire,” Fulwood wrote to Obama on Jan. 8. “I have made this decision based on personal health challenges and the fact that the department has not been as supportive over the years as they should have been,” citing staffing, funding and attention to issues of prison reform.

In 2013, well before Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island and other troubling law enforcement incidents, Fulwood wrote to Obama suggesting that the Justice Department “lead a dialogue with law enforcement about racial profiling,” an issue he has long been concerned with during his decades of work in law enforcement. He got no response, we wrote at the time. Not even a robo-signed “Thanks for your letter.”

In an interview, Fulwood said that the exploding prison population is “what everyone is talking about, and we need to make sure that the Parole Commission is doing what Holder and Obama want us to do. But nobody talks to us, so we don’t know.”

Sam Smith – This story caught my eye because I first met Isaac Fulwood in the 1960s when I did a feature for the Capitol East Gazette on neighborhood policing and went with Fulwood and his partner on their beat. The pair had been specifically assigned to deal with youth problems and community relations. Less than a year before the riots that would ruin much of our neighborhood, a few cops like Fulwood (along with the Rec Department’s roving leader program) were on the streets attempting to stop trouble before it happened. But like a lot of good things back then, it was too little and too late.

Fulwood had grown up in the ‘hood, gone to high school there, knew the places, the people and its problems. In the years that followed, our paths would cross – our children being baptized together at St. Mark’s Church, being in a jury pool together and once-  during a major anti-war protest by the Capitol - running into now Chief of Police Fulwood and getting a big bear hug, not the sort of thing that usually happened to alternative journalists during a demonstration.

Fulwood was no softie. After all, Mayor Marion Barry went to prison on his watch, but whenever anything like Ferguson of the Garner incidents occur, I find myself thinking of Ike Fulwood and how he would have handled it so much better because he understood that there are all sort of opportunities to create a community that lessens the problems leading to the need for law enforcement. As he said to me back in 1967 as we drove by grim public housing jammed into a small site, “They never ask the police for their opinion when they build public housing.”

As I noted, “The police might have a few things to tell the planners about that happens when you crowd people into places like this. But the police come later, when the trouble starts.”

And of cops like Fulwood, I added, “If you spend any time with these men, you can’t help but believe – as they do – that their work is important and that it is fitting and proper for a policeman to aid in solving a community’s social problems as well as serving as its armed guard.”

Years later the Washington Post would write an artricle about the now former police chief in which it noted his efforts to organize African-American men as mentors for the city's young men. According to the Post, eighty-two men had signed up to mentor, and 24 had been paired with a child. About 45 men have completed training and are waiting to be matched.

Wil Haygood, Washington Post, 2005 - Fulwood has been known to show up at area junior high and high schools with paroled inmates by his side. They'll riff about life, crime, reform. He believes in forgiveness…

A high murder rate wasn't the only challenge when Fulwood was chief. In 1990, Mayor Marion Shepilov Barry Jr. was arrested at a downtown hotel and charged with possession of crack cocaine. He would subsequently receive a six-month prison sentence.

Once, when Fulwood was chief, a riot broke out inside Lorton Correctional Facility. (The Virginia penitentiary, which housed inmates from the District, closed in 2001.) Fulwood helicoptered over. "I'm inside the jail, looking around. There are a couple thousand people in there. I swear, they all look black."

After he and his men had Lorton under control, Fulwood took a walk around the place, bullhorn in hand. He heard a voice, a very loud whisper.

"Junior! Junior!"

Fulwood wheeled. He spotted an old family friend from the neighborhood around Kentucky Avenue SE where he grew up. "I said, 'Come here. What you in here for?' He said, 'Robbery.' "

The man asked Fulwood to visit his mother, tell her he was all right, which Fulwood did.

"I looked around that prison and said, 'What a waste of human life,' " Fulwood recalls. "I came home and said to my wife, 'Why can't we break this cycle?' It's still a question I'm always struggling with." ….

"Folks say, 'Fulwood, 50, 60 percent of the people in jail look like you. And yet only make up 12 percent of the population.' And then they ask you, 'Why are you there?' " he says of the Parole Commission.

He ponders the question as a man who came of age in a segregated America, a man who has shaken hands with presidents and been whispered at -- "Junior! Junior!" -- inside the bowels of a penitentiary. "I been here a year," he says of his service on the commission. "Some of it is very perplexing to me. This is the struggle."

He says: "I believe communities have a right to be safe."

He says: "You try to be tough. But at the same time you try to figure this damn thing out."

"I would refer to his style as street-smart," says Edward Reilly, chairman of the commission. "He's seen what's gone on out in the real world. And he reads between the lines."

Fulwood -- one of two blacks, along with Cranston J. Mitchell, on the commission -- says spending less money on prison programs, release programs and substance abuse programs will foretell disaster: "With less money you do less."

And he keeps trying to push the debate to acknowledge the realities of race in sentencing. "Most of the people I deal with look like me," Fulwood says of inmates. "And when I say it at these meetings, you can hear a rat [peeing] on cotton." ….

 

When Fulwood became police chief in 1989, his younger brother Teddy was sitting behind bars, unable to make bail after being charged with selling drugs. (Teddy, a Vietnam War vet, had been paroled on a 1986 bank robbery charge.)

"A smart guy," says Fulwood. "You know how you get off track and can't get back on?"

He would have liked to hang out with his brother, go out with him at night and not have to worry. But he couldn't. "I used to tell him: 'I ain't going to jail with you. No way.' "

Teddy, once released, asked his brother if he'd come to his rehab meetings. He was police chief. He had a hundred things on his daily calendar. But there he sat, family bigger than any missing saw, screwdriver, hammer or monkey wrench.

"It was hard on Ike," recalls Richard Pennington, a former D.C. police officer who is now Atlanta's police chief. "Here he was a police official and his brother was in the criminal justice system. Ike used to tell Teddy how embarrassing it was. Not for Ike, but for their mother. He worried about her. She had high blood pressure." ….

It was Nov. 19, 1992 -- a year so scary and awful it practically left a feeling anyone in the city could be slain -- when the pop-pop of gunfire yanked a police officer to 16th Street SE. There lay Teddy Fulwood in a pool of blood. Several bullets in the head and chest, and he was gone.

It happened a few blocks from the Fulwood brothers' childhood home.

 

October 3, 2022

Senator Collins warns of violent threats: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed’

Wealthiest ten per cent responsible for almost half of all global greenhouse gas emissions since 1990

Almost 60% of British young people are fearful for their generation’s future

The VW Bus Took the Sixties on the Road. Now It’s Getting a Twenty-first-Century Makeover

Maggie Haberman’s biography of the former president, argues that it’s essential to grasp New York’s steamy, histrionic folkways.

Reviving progressive populism

 Sam Smith – As I approach the end of my sixth decade as an alternative journalist I feel sad and embarrassed that there is so little good news to report. After all the rebellions and countercultures that rewrote parts of the American story, we should be proud and happy, not outraged and stunned by  the most dishonest, destructive, corrupt, and arrogant rightwing in our history.

As one small reminder of how things have changed, I came across a November 1964 edition of The Idler, forerunner of the DC Gazette and Progressive Review, which devoted seven pages to the positive progressive actions of the US Congress in the past year. Try to come up with even seven sentences that outline good things the current Congress did this year.

The change, however, is not new. A dozen years ago I wrote:

Liberalism is dead. To be sure, liberals will continue to exist, but if we hold any hope of ending this country's three decade slide to the right, they can not serve as the main alternative to disaster.

You can call the alternative what you want, but I like the term progressive populism, which is to say a politics that is both progressive and also appeals to the American mainstream.

Central to this politics are the economic conditions of ordinary lives, the issue liberals have so often abandoned..


A progressive populist politics would be based on respect for all Americans, not just those who meet the cultural, class or ideological standards of an elite. Unconvinced voters would be regarded as a market and not a menace. It would be the job of the progressive populist politics to change their minds. In other words, all sides need to rediscover the idea of tolerance towards those with whom we disagree.

Another key element of a progressive populist politics would be respect for the small. Because the liberal elite has been trained to work in large institutions it has come to think size is the best way to get things done.

There was nothing in the historic liberal canon that require such contempt for distributing government to its most effective level. In fact, the best of old time liberal politics had as one of its key questions: how do we get this down to the street? One answer, of course, was to not make all the decisions at the federal level, but to let your party's mayors and governors strut their stuff.

There is further a huge difference between the protection of a universal right, properly a federal role, and the distribution of ordinary services, which is pragmatically done at various levels.

By the end of Clinton's second term, the Democrats had lost 48 seats in the House, 8 seats in the Senate, 11 governorships, 1254 state legislative seats and 9 legislatures .439 elected Democrats had joined the Republican Party while only three Republican officeholders had gone the other way.

Economic improvement, treating voters decently, and respect for the small in government. Just three good principles to help get a new politics going.

We also need to dump vetted ideology for pragmatic alliances based on issues. The media and our leaders want us to treat politics like a religion, but in real life one agrees with some people sometimes and not at other times.

We find this strange, but historically it isn't. Take for example the Socialist Party. From the beginning the Socialist Party was an ecumenical organization for American radicals. Its membership included Marxists of various kinds, Christian socialists, Zionist and anti-Zionist Jewish socialists, foreign-language speaking sections, single-taxers and virtually every variety of American radical. On the divisive issue of "reform vs. revolution," the Socialist Party from the beginning adopted a compromise formula, producing platforms calling for revolutionary change but also making "immediate demands" of a reformist nature. The Socialist Party historically stressed cooperatives as much as labor unions, and included the concepts of revolution by education and of "building the new society within the shell of the old."

Among the things that are wrong with society is that liberals have accepted the limited goals of a national front government, they suffer from the torpor of excessive intellectualism: and they seem congenitally unwilling to come out swinging for programs our country obviously needs.

What we need is more gutbucket liberalism: more down-to-earth struggles in the tradition of the best of the early progressive movements. As I wrote in 2002:

“ For the [Democratic] party to recover, it must divorce itself from the con men who have done it so much damage. It must find its way back to the gutbucket, pragmatic populism that gave this country Social Security, a minimum wage, veterans' programs, the FHA, civil rights, and the war on poverty. It must jettison its self-defeating snobbism towards Americans who go to church or own a gun. It needs to be as useful to the voter in the cubicle as it once was to the voter on the assembly line. It must find a soul, a passion, and a sense of itself. Most of all, it must get rid of those false prophets and phony friends who have not only done it so much damage but have left the country fully in the hands of the cruel, the selfish, the violent, the dumb, and the anti-democratic."

A year later, I put it this way in an interview with Counterpunch:

“I am the third of six kids, so it comes naturally to me to be around people who disagree with me. You learn to build your coalitions one issue at time and they may not all look the same. I got started in activist politics in part by being involved in a local anti-freeway movement. We kept Washington DC from looking like LA. The day I knew we were going to win was when I went to a rally and the two main speakers were Grosvenor Chapman from the all white Georgetown Citizens association and Reginald Booker, head of an all black activist group called Niggers Incorporated. Part of the secret of politics is to put people together whom the establishment wants to have fighting with each other. It’s what the white establishment did in the south with rural whites and rural blacks: convinced them they were enemies. One of the reasons Huey Long was considered so dangerous was because he started to break up that myth.”

One way to bring progressive populism alive is to turn some of the emphasis on identity politics towards causes and issues that we can share regardless of our gender or skin color. For example, one of the groups most in need of help these days are women who have been dramatically mistreated  by the Supreme Court in its abortion decision. According to a poll this year even 54% of Catholics support women on this issue and those offering 60% or more support include black Protestants, Latinos, and white men.

One reason some groups keep their feelings quiet is because they don’t want to risk their own fundraising. But one way of dealing with this problem is for progressive populists to come together from time to time with national conferences and choose the issues that have cross identity support. You don’t have to identify the individuals involved but a nationwide progressive populist organization could itself become a major source of funding and action.

In other words, we have to find out all the things we have in common despite our differences in identity and bring back some real progressive populism.

 

 

 

 



 

 

October 2, 2022