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Tue Jan 21, 2014, 09:00 PM

New Jersey & New Systems

"A chicken can't produce a duck egg. It has not the means nor the system within to produce a duck egg. In the same way the Capitalist system cannot produce freedom for a black man. It has not the means within to produce freedom, it has not the educational means, the political means, the legislative means. And if a chicken was to produce a duck egg, it would be considered a revolutionary chicken." – Malcolm X

A chicken can’t produce a Governor James “Chris” Christie egg, either. So, any attempt to identify what type of system produces a hoodlum-politician such as Christie, it’s safe to cross chickens off the list of suspects. Ducks, too.

Yesterday, while discussing the most recent corruption coverage about the republican party’s potential 2016 presidential candidate, a friend said, “It’s just New Jersey politics.” I really don’t agree with that. Perhaps he was partly correct, but attributing Christie’s behavior as being typical of New Jersey seems rather short-sighted to me. It is similar to the idea of “Chicago politics,” and the myth that Joseph Kennedy “bought” his son’s victory in Illinois in 1960, thus winning the presidency. It’s not so much that adherents to this fable are incapable of doing the math; rather, they don’t take the time to do it. And such shortcuts often add up to incorrect conclusions
My knowledge of New Jersey is limited, and pretty much to politics. In the late 1960s and ‘70s, the New Jersey Supreme Court was highly respected. It was described as not only the best state supreme court, but the best Supreme Court in the land. Interestingly, the state also had some of the most corrupt police and politicians in the country, too.

The state’s health department is, in many ways, superior to that in my state (New York). For example, the “acceptable” levels of contact with toxic industrial wastes such as trichloroethylene are lower than in New York. It’s not that New Yorkers are of a hardier stock, and less “at risk” from exposure to such poisons. Rather, the policies in New Jersey were based more on science, than corporate interests.

Not all of the science that has come out of New Jersey is good, of course. In a 1958 study of the state’s largest prison, Princeton University’s Gresham Stokes wrote, “Centers of opposition in the inmate population – in terms of men recognized as leaders by fellow prisoners – can be neutralized through the use of solitary confinement or exile to other state institutions. Just as the Deep South served as a dumping-ground for particularly troublesome slaves before the Civil War, so too can the mental hospital serve as a dumping-ground for maximum security prisoners” (“The Society of Captives”).

One can only speculate on how many members of the Christie administration may end up serving time behind bars, yet be sure that none will be the target of this type of behavior control. It’s not because their crimes are less serious than the run-of-the-mill inmate’s; instead, it is because New Jersey, like the rest of the United States, has distinct systems of justice for the rich and poor.

In recent history, the New Jersey judicial system that functioned below its State Supreme Court was significantly corrupt. This translated into not merely different standards for the wealthy, primarily white population, and the lower-income, non-white people, but gross corruption, as well. Official probes in Passaic County in the late 1960s- early ‘70s documented ties between (some) police, prosecutors, judges, and organized crime. They found “sentence-fixing” in cases that included narcotics, gambling, and homicide. Governor Hughes’ Commission on Civil Disorders documented police violence against the black and Hispanic populations. One member of the commission noted that the Paterson police force was “the worst in the state, possibly the worst in the country.”

That system was frequently incapable of rendering justice in high-profile cases. Three such cases stood out in the second-half of the 1960s. These included the murder of Judy Kavanaugh, of Gabriel “Johnny the Walk” De Franco, and the triple homicide that Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was wrongly convicted of. The Kavanaugh and De Franco cases were closely related to narcotics and pornography; they involved characters identified as Phil the Gorilla, Steve the Greek, and Frankie T, all of whom were low-life, low-level mobster muscle. In the Kavanaugh case, the police and prosecutors used the testimony of a career-criminal in their attempt to convict four people; it was later proven that the four – who faced the electric chair – were not merely “not guilty,” but were totally innocent.

The Carter case is better known. As I had the opportunity to assist with Carter’s legal defense efforts, and have copies of the prosecutors’ and defense lawyers’ filings, as well as court rulings, I could focus on the legal questions that were only answered when the case left New Jersey, and was heard in the federal courts. Instead, I’d like to talk about a couple of lesser-known issues, as these are often the exact cause of injustice in America.

First, besides the four shooting victims in the bar in Paterson, and the two low-life, career criminals who saw parts of the horrible crime, there was a neighbor who saw the gunmen leaving the bar. He knew that Rubin Carter was not one of them; in fact, he knew exactly who they were. The lead investigator would opt to separate this witness from the case: there is no record of the lead investigator’s interview of him, and the defense was never notified by police or prosecutors that he existed.

Second, a police officer working under the lead detective would claim that he found two bullets in Carter’s car, which matched those used in the triple murders. Eventually, it was found this cop did not “log” these bullets until about a week after he claimed he found them. Then, it was found the two bullets did not match those used in the triple murder. Next, it was found they did match bullets used in a homicide from earlier on the night in question. The cop who claimed to have found the bullets in Carter’s car had been at the scene of the first murder. In fact, he collected and logged the bullets at that crime scene. And it was found that two bullets from this crime were missing from the police station’s evidence room.

While the defense was allowed to show that the lone survivor from the triple murder told police that it was not Carter and co-defendant John Artis who shot him, other related evidence was barred. The jury did not hear that the women who lived for a month after the shooting had identified the shooters to police; that police had been investigating the connection between organized crime and the shooting; or that police not only identified other suspects, but had jailed two men a couple of weeks after the murders.

A system that, among other things, introduces false evidence while suppressing actual evidence, is deeply flawed. It’s important to note that, in Carter’s case, it only took the covert actions of two police officers, to contaminate the case. Most of the other police and prosecutors assumed, based upon the “evidence,” that Carter and Artis were guilty. More, many of those same individuals would have their careers – in police work, judges’ benches, and state political office – enhanced by the case.

So the type of system that produces a James “Chris” Christie isn’t unique to New Jersey. It’s everywhere these days. It’s found where it takes but a few corrupt players, and where others will turn their heads, in order to avoid seeing the system being poisoned. Where citizens do not take a stance, because of anything ranging from indifference to ignorance to intimidation.These are system dynamics found in every community, and every state, and definitely in Washington, DC.

Unlike that chicken which Minister Malcolm spoke of, our system is not limited to producing but one type of egg. While it produces poisons that corrupt our society, it can also produce good. It produces corruption, yet it also, at times, produces social justice.

In my opinion, 2014 will be a pivotal year. I include the elections in the House and Senate, and at the state, county, and local level, as essential in determining if we add more poison, and more corruption, to the system ….or if we work, harder than we’ve ever worked before, to bring about positive change. Two things are required: creative tension, and personal sacrifice. For Democrats, part of that tension may come by way of primaries. For those in the Democratic Left, it may be in attempting to identify which candidates from the Democratic Party that you can break bread with. This process often produces tension between these two groups; this can be healthy, so long as common ground is recognized. One hand should wash the other.

It’s this simple: there is no other way.

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Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply New Jersey & New Systems (Original post)
H2O Man Jan 2014 OP
panader0 Jan 2014 #1
H2O Man Jan 2014 #3
kentuck Jan 2014 #2
H2O Man Jan 2014 #4
H2O Man Jan 2014 #5

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2014, 09:12 PM

1. I will try to find what my personal sacrifice shall be.

Thanks for another fine post.

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Response to panader0 (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:16 PM

3. Very good!

After being "sidelined" by a family crisis for the past three months, I'm again looking at two options for myself in 2014:

The first is possibly running for a state office. Although I'd definitely be an underdog in this heavily republican area, I think that I could win.

If not that, then I shall probably participate in something similar to my 2012 hunger strike. This time around, I'd be able to get it better organized beforehand.

If I had a choice, I'd prefer to sit out by my pond, feeding the birds & fish, playing with my dog, reading, and engaging in prayer/meditation/ceremony. But I don't think 2014 will allow me that luxury. (My sons say it feels almost like the Old Man is making a return to the ring! Ha!)


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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jan 21, 2014, 09:25 PM

2. Very well said.

And thought-provoking.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 21, 2014, 10:20 PM

4. Thanks!

I saw your OP moments after I posted this; I thought the two complimented one another.

It's a strange time in America. No matter if we like it or not, we will be confronted by harsh choices. In my opinion, we all benefit from concentrating on the example set by Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember that as a teen/young man, I favored the message of Malcolm X. I think that message still has validity, but should be tempered with Martin's way.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Jan 22, 2014, 09:07 AM

5. kick

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