Americans are told to make “sacrifices” — but those at the top never have to

In the American ethos, sacrifice is often hailed as the chief ingredient for overcoming hardship and seizing opportunity. To be successful, we’re assured, college students must make personal sacrifices by going deep into debt for a future degree and the earnings that may come with it. Small business owners must sacrifice their paychecks so that their companies will continue to grow, while politicians must similarly sacrifice key policy promises to get something (almost anything!) done.

We have become all too used to the notion that success only comes with sacrifice, even if this is anything but the truth for the wealthiest and most powerful Americans. After all, whether you focus on the gains of Wall Street or of this country’s best-known billionaires, the ever-rising Pentagon budget or the endless subsidies to fossil-fuel companies, sacrifice is not exactly a theme for those atop this society. As it happens, sacrifice in the name of progress is too often relegated to the lives of the poor and those with little or no power. But what if, instead of believing that most of us must eternally “rob Peter to pay Paul,” we imagine a world in which everyone was in and no one out?

In that context, consider recent policy debates on Capitol Hill as the crucial midterm elections approach. To start with, the passage of the Biden administration’s Inflation

— source | Liz Theoharis | Sep 16, 2022

Nullius in verba

The Mostly Forgotten 1857 Utah War

A scarcely remembered and yet very significant event that occurred in the years leading up to the US Civil War was the so-called “Utah War”, which took place from the latter half of 1857 into the first half of 1858.

Frequently referred to as “Buchanan’s Blunder” (after then-US President James Buchanan), it was one of the most notorious examples in US history of a president ginning up a “rally ’round the flag” war to distract the populace from domestic strife.

The so-called “Mormons” (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) had been driven from Missouri to Illinois, and following the assassination of their founding prophet Joseph Smith, were compelled to leave the United States altogether to escape persecution.

The vanguard, led by Brigham Young, arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in July 1847. The area was still part of Mexico at the time. Young was passionately encouraged by

— source | Aug 7, 2022

Nullius in verba

Preacher Became a Champion for Black-Led Sustainable Agriculture

In 1979, an idealistic 44-year-old Black woman named Nettie Mae Morrison moved with her husband to Allensworth, 75 miles south of Fresno, in California’s Central Valley.

“She wanted to be a part of history,” said her son, Dennis Hutson, who was in his mid-20s at the time.

The town had a distinctive past. It was founded in 1908 by Allen Allensworth, a man born into slavery who became the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. About 3 square miles in size, Allensworth was the first town in California founded and governed by Black people—and it served as a beacon of possibility for Black people all over the nation, its population growing to around 1,200 people.

But the community soon fell on hard times.

In 1914, the Santa Fe Railroad Company moved its rail stop from Allensworth to nearby Alpaugh, a majority-White town, dealing a major blow to Allensworth’s economy. That same year, Col. Allensworth died after being struck by a motorcycle during a visit to Los Angeles.

— source | Tiffani Patton | Sep 9, 2022

Nullius in verba

There Are Good Reasons to Defund the FBI

This week the FBI took the unprecedented step of executing a search warrant on the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump. No former president has ever been the subject of such an investigative practice. In response, chief Trump supporter and MAGA cheerleader Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed outrage at the FBI’s actions by tweeting, “DEFUND THE FBI!” Far right Rep. Paul Gosar hit similar notes, tweeting, “We must destroy the FBI. We must save America.” While this about-face on “Back the Blue” is an amusing example of the right-wing ideological confusion that ensues when lawmakers adhere to diehard Trump loyalism, we on the left should use this moment as an opportunity to explore a plan to actually do that. The FBI should indeed be defunded — though the reasons for that have nothing to do with the fact that the agency searched Donald Trump’s home.

The January 6 attack on the Capitol showed us the deep fissures in the Back the Blue concept trotted out by the right in response to the Black Lives Matter protests of recent years. While conservatives claim to support the police, they do so on a very narrow basis. Police authority is desirable to them only as long as it is solely directed at what they perceive to be suspect classes, including poor people, BIPOC communities, trans people, immigrants, anti-fascists, sex workers, and other marginalized groups. Built into right-wing support for the police is an understanding — grounded in history — that police authority should not be exercised against the powerful classes, including the wealthy,

— source | Alex Vitale | Aug 10, 2022

Nullius in verba

Hit Against American [shadow] Democracy

[what people say about gun control, universal health care?]

The U.S. Secret Service has reportedly only provided a single text exchange to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, who had requested the agency hand over all text messages from 24 individuals around the time of the January 6th insurrection. The agency has also told the House January 6th committee that it has no new text messages to share with lawmakers. The Secret Service is claiming all the messages have been purged. Last week, a government watchdog with the Homeland Security Department, the inspector general, said in a letter to lawmakers that the erasure took place shortly after oversight officials requested electronic communications from the agency be preserved.

The messages could confirm testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol in which she accused then-President Trump of attacking his own presidential security detail after the Secret Service refused to drive Trump to the Capitol to join the armed mob gathering to block Congress from counting Electoral College votes.

you have it right. That’s what we are being told. The whole thing stinks to high heaven. The idea that a government would either order or permit the destruction of texts relating to January 6th in the weeks following January 6 is just unacceptable. I mean, it’s just plainly appalling. And so, there is, you know, the bureaucratic and political question of how this happened, who ordered it, was it really according to some “preplanned” telephone migration, or was it obviously political as part of some kind of attempt to conceal evidence. And then there’s the technological question, which is: Regardless of how it happened or why it happened, can we retrieve and recover

— source | Jul 20, 2022

Nullius in verba

Fascist group’s membership rolls feature police, military and elected officials

The names of hundreds of US law enforcement officers, elected officials and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that is accused of playing a key role in the January 6 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies – including as police chiefs and sheriffs – and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or served in public office as of early August. The membership information was compiled into a database published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets.

The data raises fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military who are tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the US. It is especially

— source | Associated Press | 7 Sep 2022

Nullius in verba

Baby Formula Crisis in US Requires Urgent Action to Address

Four corporations control 90% of the baby formula market in the United States, and as a national baby formula shortage drags on, it has impacted working-class families of color the most. We get an update from Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California, who just wrote an open letter urging leaders of federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration to take bolder action to address the shortage. Khanna discusses efforts to increase production domestically and supplement the shortage with formula from other nations, and why he is calling for President Biden to go further and pass antitrust laws to reduce reliance on corporate monopolies for vital products. “Why is it that we are so dependent on one or two manufacturers in this country?” says Khanna. “This is a problem not just in baby formula.”

The crisis started last October after a whistleblower sent the Food and Drug Administration a report detailing safety and sanitation violations at the Abbott Nutrition factory in Sturgis, Michigan, the largest baby formula manufacturing plant in the country. Actually, the whistleblower had notified authorities long before last October, but it would be months before the FDA took action. Abbott fired the whistleblower. Four babies who had consumed formula from the plant suffered bacterial infections. Two of them died. The FDA could not conclusively link the illnesses or deaths to that particular Sturgis plant. In February, Abbott shut down the plant and announced a voluntary recall of its Sturgis-

— source | Jul 25, 2022

Nullius in verba

Black Maternal Mortality in U.S.

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the battleground for abortion access now shifts to the states, even as the U.S. faces the worst rates of maternal mortality among all rich nations, with Black maternal mortality three to four times higher than the national average. Now a new documentary examines the crisis of Black maternal mortality through the families of two young Black women who died after giving birth. “Aftershock” is co-directed by Tonya Lewis Lee and Paula Eiselt, who join us to discuss how Black women navigate a healthcare system built against them and efforts underway to reduce racial disparities. “We know that Black women’s health and infants’ health is the marker of the health of a nation,” notes Lee. “In a system that puts profit over people, doesn’t listen and center birthing people already, Black women are even more affected by this due to the systemic racism that’s ingrained into our system,” adds Eiselt.

Amber Rose Isaac, as you mentioned, died in April 2020. She had what is called HELLP syndrome, which is a very treatable condition that many pregnant women get, but, unfortunately, when she showed up to her doctor with symptoms of HELLP syndrome, she was dismissed. They did not listen to her. And unfortunately, by the time she had a C-section, it was too late to save her.

And it is clear that these women were loved women. They were loving women. And their partners, Omari Maynard, the partner to Shamony, and Bruce McIntyre, the partner to Amber, loved them so much. And through their grief — and what I’ve learned from these families is that grief really is an expression of love — through their grief, they’ve become activated to improve outcomes for all of us. And they’re doing amazing work. Omari is a painter. He paints portraits of other women who have passed away. He reaches out to the other fathers when they lose a partner from childbirth complications, to offer support. And that’s how we met Bruce McIntyre, because Omari reached out to Bruce when Amber passed

— source | Jul 25, 2022

Nullius in verba