Sports, Protest, and Criminal Justice Reform

This week, the United States gets to watch as the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII.  But football (like all sports) involves more than a battle of strength: read how Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins describes his commitment to fighting for justice, as well as Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ iconic salute during the 1968 Olympics.

Then, before watching the game, take action on criminal justice reform with the ACLU.

What protesting NFL members like me want to do next Olympic Athletes Who Took a Stand
“We have borne witness to the deaths of Philando Castile, Jordan Edwards, Tamir Rice and countless others.

In honor of their names, we are joining the fight for change. We are demanding police transparency and accountability so we can build trust and work together to make our communities safer.

We are fighting to end the money-bail system by investing in community bail funds and advocating legislation that does away with money bail altogether.

We are fighting to pass clean-slate legislation in Pennsylvania to seal nonviolent misdemeanor records automatically after 10 years. We must provide opportunities for employment, housing, education, loans and voting. We should not disenfranchise a third of the population.

I’ve heard people say that my colleagues and I are un-American and unpatriotic. Well, we want to make America great. We want to help make our country safe and prosperous. We want a land of justice and equality. True patriotism is loving your country and countrymen enough to want to make it better.”

Continue reading Malcolm Jenkin’s article here.

When the medals were awarded for the men’s 200-meter sprint at the 1968 Olympic Games, Life magazine photographer John Dominis was only about 20 feet away from the podium. ‘I didn’t think it was a big news event,’ Dominis says. ‘I was expecting a normal ceremony. I hardly noticed what was happening when I was shooting.’

Indeed, the ceremony that October 16 ‘actually passed without much general notice in the packed Olympic Stadium,’ New York Times correspondent Joseph M. Sheehan reported from Mexico City. But by the time Sheehan’s observation appeared in print three days later, the event had become front-page news: for politicizing the Games, U.S. Olympic officials, under pressure from the International Olympic Committee, had suspended medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos and sent them packing.

Smith and Carlos, winners of the gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the event, had come to the ceremony dressed to protest: wearing black socks and no shoes to symbolize African-American poverty, a black glove to express African-American strength and unity. (Smith also wore a scarf, and Carlos beads, in memory of lynching victims.) As the national anthem played and an international TV audience watched, each man bowed his head and raised a fist. After the two were banished, images of their gesture entered the iconography of athletic protest.”

Finish David Davis’ article here.


Corporate Tax Cuts, Interstate Competition, and Amazon

The interstate bidding war over Amazon’s new headquarters may have effects on communities and regions other than the creation of new jobs.  Robert Reich (Inequality Media) argues that the government should not provide tax cuts to corporations, while Brian Alexander (The Atlantic) posits that competition between cities economically injures the country.

What do you think?

Do Corporations Need a Tax Cut? The Problem With Courting Amazon
Screenshot 2018-01-18 at 2.46.11 PM.png “One advantage of the American system, with powers divided between states and a national government, Rolnick and Burstein pointed out, is that states are free to compete with each other by trying different taxing and spending allocations. For example, one state may tax a bit more and provide more public goods—better schools, cheaper health care, smoother roads, more-pleasant parks—in return. Another state may tax less, and spend less, on such public goods. People and businesses could then choose where they preferred to live and locate. Those choices, in theory, help select which balance of taxing and spending emerge as the best.

But this competition is perverted when it’s applied to individual corporations. If one state fends off a poaching attempt by another state by offering bigger payouts, Rolnick and Burstein wrote, ‘competition has simply led states to give away a portion of their tax revenue to local businesses; consequently, they have fewer resources to spend on public goods, and the country as a whole has too few public goods.’ If a state successfully draws a business into its borders through tax benefits, they go on, ‘there will be fewer public goods produced in the overall economy because, in the aggregate, states will have less revenue.’

Rolnick and Burstein believed there was a solution to all this: federal legislation. Congress, using its power to regulate interstate commerce, could change the way relocating companies get taxed (taxing them based on the estimated value of the benefits, perhaps) or threaten to withhold federal funds from states that try to poach businesses by offering to give up taxes. What with 238 cities having vied for Amazon’s favor—and Amazon now having made a show of narrowing its list down to 20 cities—such legislation seems mirage-like at the moment.”

Read the whole article here.

Consensus, the Civil Rights Movement, and DACA

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenges our ideas of “consensus,” while national politicians continue the battle to protect the right to citizenship for immigrants.

Will you work, in the words of Dr. King, to “tirelessly organize widespread struggle?” 

Let Justice Roll Down Trump’s ‘shithole’ remarks roil immigration talks
“A consensus orientation is understandably attractive to a political leader. His task is measurably easier if he is merely to give shape to widely accepted programs. He becomes a technician rather than an innovator. Past Presidents have often sought such a function. President Kennedy promised in his campaign an executive order banning discrimination in housing. This substantial progressive step, he declared, required only ‘a stroke of the pen.’ Nevertheless, he delayed execution of the order long after his election on the ground that he awaited a ‘national consensus.’ President Roosevelt, facing the holocaust of an economic crisis in the early thirties, attempted to base himself on a consensus with the N.R.A.; and generations earlier, Abraham Lincoln temporized and hesitated through years of civil war, seeking a consensus before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

In the end, however, none of these Presidents fashioned the program which was to mark him as historically great by patiently awaiting a consensus. Instead, each was propelled into action by a mass movement which did not necessarily reflect an overwhelming majority. What the movement lacked in support was less significant than the fact that it had championed the key issue of the hour. President Kennedy was forced by Birmingham and the tumultuous actions it stimulated to offer to Congress the Civil Rights Bill. Roosevelt was impelled by labor, farmers and small-businessmen to commit the government in revolutionary depth to social welfare as a constituent stimulus to the economy. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation under the pressure of war needs. The overwhelming national consensus followed their acts; it did not precede them.

The contemporary civil rights movement must serve President Johnson in the same fashion. It must select from the multitude of issues those principal creative reforms which will have broad transforming power to affect the whole movement of society. Behind these goals it must then tirelessly organize widespread struggle.”

Continue the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s essay here. 

“Without a solution for Dreamers, Democrats won’t agree to any deal to raise budget caps that both parties say they need.

Funding for federal agencies runs out on Jan. 19, and McCarthy and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have already stated that they will move a short-term spending bill next week to avoid a shutdown. It’s not clear whether House Republicans can pass such a bill on their own — as Democrats won’t help them without a Dreamers agreement in hand — or how Senate Democrats would respond.

Yet the White House has already rejected the bipartisan senators’ agreement, and House Republicans are opposed as well. GOP leaders prefer a deal to come from the ‘Two Group’ — the name given to the discussion among party whips — although that group doesn’t look like it is going to reach consensus anytime soon, if ever.”

Read all of Politico’s coverage here.


Trump’s Mental Health: Grounds for Removal / Partisan Characterization

 Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill And Must Be Removed  Why Mental Health Is A Poor Measure Of A President
“We, the undersigned mental health professionals (please state your degree), believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States. And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 4 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’”

Read the over 69,000 mental health professionals’ signatures.

“As for Trump, ‘he is obviously impulsive and has a personality style different than most presidents,’ Swartz says. But suggestions that a psychiatric disorder has made him incompetent or unfit have come primarily from ‘people who disapprove of his behavior,’ he says.

‘I don’t think any of the diagnostic labels do justice to what we’re seeing,’ author Shenk says. ‘The very attributes that are most troubling to so many people are precisely what excite so much affection and loyalty in so many others.’”

Continue reading Jon Hamilton’s essay.

Over 69,000 mental health professionals have signed a petition stating that Trump is mentally unfit for office, while others are unsure that “mental fitness” is valid as a determining factor of competency under the 25th Amendment.  What do you think?

Politico: “How Trump Is Making Us Rethink American Exceptionalism”

“But if we’re not exceptional, we might still be different, and the key to understanding how we make it out on the other side of any political storm is probing the strengths and vulnerabilities that flow from this difference. Tocqueville’s Boston informer posited that “there are no precedents for our history.” He was wrong. The trick is knowing which ones to look for.”

Keep reading here!