“Our nation leads wealthy democracies in allowing the market to disseminate, nearly unchecked, huge numbers of guns into the hands of a society riddled by extreme economic inequality, widening social polarization, and deep racism.”
Battle of the overpass,” by James Kilpatrick, May 26, 1937. UAW officer Richard Frankensteen is attacked by Ford Motor Company security [sic] officers.
The city’s eligibility trial ended in tense drama Friday after a federal judge asked whether Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr mislead retirees by saying their pensions were sacrosanct — a month before filing a bankruptcy case that threatens drastic cuts.
A dramatic exchange between the city’s lead lawyer and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes followed a nine-day trial in the biggest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history and focused on whether the city negotiated with creditors in good faith — a requirement of Chapter 9 law.
Rhodes wanted to know whether Orr’s videotaped comment to a retiree during a public meting that pensions would be untouched amid Detroit’s restructuring. The judge is weighing whether the June 10 comment, and a second statement that there was only a “50-50 chance” of a Detroit bankruptcy, shows Orr negotiated in good faith with creditors.
“This may not have been the moment he used the best words,” [Jones Day] city lawyer Bruce Bennett said.
“If your honor believes the statement was misleading, it was corrected three…or four days later.”
On June 14, Orr unveiled a restructuring proposal that prescribed unspecified pension cuts.
“The entire proposal was put on the web,” Bennett said.
“But not on the 10th,” the judge said.
“At a maximum, there was a three- or four-day period where there was misinformation,” Bennett said.
There were only 200 people at the public meeting, Bennett argued.
“It’s bad, but there are 685,000 residents and 23,000 retirees,” Bennett said. “Mistakes happen. I can’t do anything about this one.”
The judge shifted to Orr’s claim on June 10 that there was only a “50-50″ chance of Detroit filing bankruptcy. The city filed bankruptcy July 18.
“It was a very optimistic view,” Bennett said. “He was entitled to be optimistic.”
“But doesn’t that raise a question about what he really thought?” the judge asked.
“He was hoping negotiations would succeed,” Bennett said.
“But on June 10, did he really believe there was a 50-50 chance he would succeed?” the judge said.
“I’m the wrong person to ask,” Bennett said.
“You’re his lawyer,” the judge said. “You’re his lawyer.”
The judge asked Bennett to point to evidence that Orr genuinely believed the odds were 50-50 and that he wasn’t knowingly misleading retirees.
“Given the assertion of bath faith, that’s not our problem,” Bennett said. “That’s the objectors’ problem. There is no evidence on that point.”
“Well, alright,” the judge said, “let me ask the next question: Assuming both were misleading, what impact should that have on the court’s analysis of good faith here. That’s ultimately the point.”
“Your honor, it should have no impact at all,” Bennett said. “You have seen a mountain of evidence of a careful, deliberative process to pull together the best reorganization process anyone could put together.”
Orr’s comments do not reflect on whether the city negotiated in good faith, Bennett said, because negotiations did not start until after June 14.
“Mistakes happen,” Bennett said, “and more will. Nothing that happened before negotiations inform whether the city negotiated in food faith.”
And in honor of Renisha McBride, Tiane’ Hunter and the other Detroit victims of the past week’s insane maelstrom of homicidal violence…
Shooting Ourselves: Mass Killings, Austerity, and the Breakdown of American Society
“Last week, between October 26thand November 1st, there were five mass killings in the United States. And Monday, a gunman opened fire in a New Jersey shopping mall, firing several shots, but killing only himself.
In this context, advocating gun control is the only sane thing to do. Yet, to jump from mass violence to the conclusion that there are just too many guns – and that the solution is simply to reduce them – is to fatally misdiagnose the problem.
While mass shootings are the most publicized American gun deaths, they are far from being the only ones. Every day dozens of people are killed in this country, mostly young people of color and mostly in the poorest and most economically devastated neighborhoods of our major cities. This chronic social crisis largely appears in the establishment press as statistics or else as a situation to be managed but never fundamentally addressed. And typically, these everyday killings are assumed to have a different explanation than the spectacularly horrific mass shootings that are covered in the national press, if any explanation for them is offered at all.
After each mass shooting, on the other hand, the national news media presents us with blank expressions of the killers in mug shots, school pictures, and family photographs that only vaguely hint at the capacity for cold, calculated murder. The explanatory strategy, if there is one, is to explain the tragedy in light of the killer’s upbringing and psychological history.
The problem of how we are to explain atrocities of such enormity is one of considerable difficulty. The German thinker, Immanuel Kant, held that we can give no reason why a human being would commit an evil act. We can diagnose such an act, but not explain it. Hannah Arendt, unconvinced by Kant, tried to make sense of evil by coming face to face with Adolf Eichmann during his trail in 1961, but also recognized that he would be a tough nut to crack.
More recent attempts to explain horrors of this kind are dangerously shallow. They argue, for instance
, that mass shootings can be fully explained by the killers’ deranged mental states. While those who commit such heinous crimes are obviously of unsound mind, it is a mistake to psychologize their actions in a way that removes any possibility for social explanations.
Yet, it is not coincidental that media commentators resort to such forms of explanation. Our age can be characterized by a social vision in which our world is essentially composed of atomized, self-sufficient individuals who are connected to one another primarily through our personal choices as consumers in the market. Margaret Thatcher’s dictum, “there is no such thing as society,” was a prophetic description of the dominant way we imagine the world we now inhabit. Thus it is unsurprising that journalists largely ignore social explanations for mass violence.
Yet if we look at what mass killers actually have been saying about what they’re doing and why, their actions actually seem to call for just such an explanation. …
Plato held that the psyche of citizens mirrors the political community in which they are embedded and visa versa. Individual citizens, after all, are raised within that community and their actions go on to shape it for future generations.
If we take that view on board, then the psychosis that drives mass killers might be seen as a reflection – however distorted it may be – of the illness found in our collective political life. And it would be vain to deny that we live in a very sick political climate. Last week, we cut food support to our poorest citizens. This week, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House will deliberate about how much further pain should be doled out on those same communities. Add to this the fact that unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans will run out by year end unless Congress takes action. Yet, despite the strong connection between hunger, joblessness, and violence, few are willing to suggest that political decisions of this kind impact mass killings.”
“In Detroit, local struggles for racial, economic and environmental justice are understood in a global context of empire, neoliberalism and climate disaster. This is all communicated in a fundamental question heard time and again in Detroit: How do we live?” – Tidal Magazine, ‘Learning from Detroit’