Archive for the ‘quis custodiet ipsos custodes’ category

This Has The Makings Of An Enjoyable Day…

July 31, 2017

Joe Arpaio is now on his way to being an old lag, and if that conclusion is decades late, it still behoves us to get our schadenfreude on:

The longest-serving lawman of the state’s most populous county, where he became a national figure known for immigration raids and sweeps aimed at rounding up illegal migrants, was found guilty Monday of contempt of court. He faces up to six months in jail.

Arpaio’s crime, you’ll probably recall, was to keep on doing what he’d been doing after a federal judge told him to stop:

Arpaio had conducted the sweeps under the federal 287 G Program, which enables some local law-enforcement offices to act as quasi-immigration agents. In 2009, the federal government rescinded this power, but Arpaio refused to stop. In 2012, Arizona U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow, ordered an injunction against Arpaio’s office aimed at ending the sweeps, but still, Arpaio refused.

I fortunately don’t have any personal experience here, but I have it on good authority that judges really, really don’t like it when you ignore them.

Arpaio tried two lines of defense:

During the criminal trial, which consisted of a five-day trial in June and July, Arpaio’s attorney’s argued that Snow’s order was unclear and that though the sheriff had made mistakes, they weren’t willful violations of the order. He also argued that Arpaio delegated much of of the enforcement responsibilities to his subordinates, and that he should not be held responsible for their actions.

Again, I don’t think telling a judge that they f**ked up in their legal writing is a terribly persuasive strategy, and as for the “my employees suck, I don’t” argument, I’m reminded once again that the Party of Personal Responsibility™ is a f**king crock.  Hence, the man’s a convict.

It is, alas, apparently unlikely that white supremacist poster child Arpaio will actually go to jail for his crime.

But whatever his sentence, this outcome makes me smile.

 

Here’s Loki, the Trickster God, in the glass I’ll raise when the clock hits 0-whiskey-00 this evening.

Image:  Egon Schiele, The Door is Open, 1912.

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Unleashed Cops

July 29, 2017

While the Russian asset in the White House pushes cops to brutalize their suspects, we have plenty of cases studies on what happens when you license f**kery by the boys folks in blue.  Today’s example comes  from Baltimore:

Maryland prosecutors have tossed 34 criminal cases and are re-examining dozens more in the aftermath of recent revelations that a Baltimore police officer accidentally recorded himself planting drugs in a trash-strewn alley.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that, in all, 123 cases are under review in the wake of a scandal in which one officer has been suspended and two others put on administrative duty. Body cam footage revealed nearly two weeks ago showed one of the officers planting drugs when he didn’t realize his body cam was recording. (via Ars Technica.)

Among the consequences of such behavior: folks do time, in this case, six or seven months for the crime of being an easy arrest for a dirty cop:

one of the recently dismissed Baltimore cases included the drug suspect who was the target of the plant in the body cam video. He had been jailed since January on a $50,000 bail he could not post.

Societies need cops. They don’t need cops who think a badge and a gun makes them lords of the street.  And any civilized society needs leaders who know that.

The good news, in Baltimore and in response to the Shitgibbon’s latest droppings?  The pushback–from Maryland prosecutors and from police forces around the country respectively.  Resistance isn’t just necessary; it’s useful.

Image: Caravaggio, The Taking of Jesus, c. 1602

Philando Castile’s Killer Walks

June 16, 2017

To the surprise of exactly no one paying attention in 21st century America, another extrajudicial killing by a cop ends with the killer walking free:

The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop was acquitted on all charges by a jury Friday, a decision that came nearly a year after the encounter was partially streamed online before a rapt nation in the midst of a painful reckoning over shootings by law enforcement.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Castile’s car over in Falcon Heights, a suburb near Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the officer later said he thought Castile matched the description of a suspect in a robbery. The stop quickly escalated.

Yanez fired into the car, saying later he thought Castile was going for his gun, a claim Castile’s girlfriend, sitting in the seat next to him, disputed. She began filming the aftermath of the shooting with her phone.

I’m going to outsource anything I might say entirely to NPR Code Switch/Post Bourgie’s Gene Denby:

 

Again: I’d bet good money there is no one conscious in America today didn’t expect this outcome at all un.  Which is the most enraging fact of all within this wretched story.

 

Over to you.  I’ve nothing left but blank depression and incoherent rage.

Update:

Via AP:

A Minnesota city says it will dismiss a police officer even though he was cleared of all charges in the fatal shooting of a black motorist.

The city of St. Anthony says it concluded the public “will be best served” if Officer Jeronimo (yeh-RON’-ih-moh) Yanez no longer works for the city. The statement says the city plans to offer Yanez a “voluntary separation” so he can find another job.

The city says Yanez will not return to active duty.

This Is How Republicans Are Going To Get People Killed

February 16, 2017

This happened:

A hearing in El Paso County in Texas went from ordinary to “unprecedented” last week when half a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a courthouse where an undocumented woman was seeking a protective order against the boyfriend she accused of abusing her.

The woman, a citizen of Mexico who was living in El Paso had been driven to the courthouse by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she had been living.

She left under arrest.

This is a disgrace, and an incredibly dangerous one.

Most obviously: anyone w/out documents facing a threat from their partner, former or present, has just been told that the legal system, cops, anyone, are no longer available to them. They’re on their own. They’ve got a target on them, as their abusers now know that they can act without fear of official action.

Some of them will die. One third of the murders of women in the US are committed by an intimate partner.

640px-a_very_bad_man_-_ephraim_kingsbury_avery

Increasing the pressure to stay in an abusive relationship tees up more victims. Making it harder — or impossible — to seek official help locks people in danger.

The chilling effect extends beyond the home. If reporting a crime puts you in contact with officialdom; if agreeing to testify does so…and so on. You get the idea. The risks of trying to engage public safety resources have just shot up for immigrant and minority communities — from an already no-fun base.

ICE, Trump, and the Republican party: accessories before the fact to harm, murder and misery.

Every day, down every avenue, these folks have got to named, shamed, and fought.

Image: Unknown artist, A Very Bad Man — on the trial of Ephraim K. Avery for the murder of Sarah Maria Cornell. 1833.

Listen To Someone Who Knows Something About The Shitgibbon’s Mentor

November 16, 2016

Masha Gessen knows from vicious fascist dictators.  Here’s what she has to say under the headline “Autocracy: Rules for Survival“:

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says….

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.

[See Betty’s post below]

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you….

Rule #4: Be outraged

Rule #5: Don’t make compromises

Rule #6: Remember the future….

ozymandias_collossus-_ramesseum_luxor_egypt

This is one of those read-the-whole-thing deals.  Masha has lived what she’s talking about here.  I have had the good fortune to spend some evenings talking with her, and she is at once one of the sharpest, most un-bull-shit-able political thinkers I know and among the most courageous people I’ve ever met.

If you don’t have time, or, like me, have only a finite tolerance for looking straight at the beast looking back at us, here’s the short form, as stated in Rule 4:

If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.

That leads to the logic of Rule 6:

Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.

I expect we will lose most battles for years to come. Perhaps all of them.  But I keep coming back to Masha’s conclusion and it makes sense.

I’ve more to say, as I think towards what specific forms my resistance may take, but none of that’s really formed yet, beyond giving some money to some of the most obvious targets.  More later.  In the meantime, what Gessen says:  Trump will not last forever, and resistance is many things — but not futile.

Image: the Ozymandias Colossus — Raames II, mistakenly identified as the mythical king Ozymandias.  This ruin inspired Percy Bysshe Shelly to write this.

There’s Never Just One…

October 27, 2016

This, via TPM

A 41-year-old lawyer has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999 when she was a young foundation fellow in Washington, D.C., National Law Journal reported Thursday.

The lawyer, Moira Smith, said that Thomas repeatedly touched her rear multiple times as he pleaded for her to sit next to him at a dinner party hosted by the head of her scholarship program. The alleged incident occurred, Smith said, when just the two of them were alone near the table she was setting for the party.

corisca_and_the_satyr_by_artemisia_gentileschi

It’s been clear since her testimony (at least to me) that Anita Hill was a truthful and courageous witness to Clarence Thomas’s craptastitude, and hence his unfitness to be a Supreme Court justice.  There were rumors at the time that there were more women, with more stories.  But they never testified.  So Thomas survived on the “he-said; she-said; who knows?” defense.

But if there’s anything the intervening decades have taught us, it’s that powerful men who use their positions to impose their sexual demands on women don’t stop at just one.  See, of course, Mr. Donald Trump.

And now this.  Thomas is blanket denying, of course:

“This claim is preposterous and it never happened,” Thomas said in a statement to National Law Journal.

That’ll keep him securely in place, until and unless the next woman comes forward, and the next, and the next…

My bet?

Well, there’s never just one.  But keeping Thomas in his seat is so important to so many of the worst people in the country that I would be utterly unsurprised to see (a) Moira Smith get hit by a world of hurt and (b) anyone else who might have knowledge of any misdeeds by Trump getting that message.

We’ll see.

Image: Artemisia Gentileschi, Corisca and the Satyr, betw. 1630 and 1635.

The Worst Person in the World

April 25, 2016

Think of this as a bookend to John’ Coles post at Balloon Juice.  This isn’t a problem of a few bad apples.  Police violence against people of color occurs within a culture of contempt for people of color.  How else to explain the head of the Chicago  [errr…] Cleveland* police union’s decision to rub yet more salt in the wounds of Tamir Rice’s family:

Cleveland Police Patrolman Association President Steve Loomis issued a statement on Monday afternoon saying that “something positive must come from this tragic loss.”

“We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms,” Loomis said in the statement.

Yo!  Officer Loomis.  There was some definite mishandling of firearms in the context of Rice’s death.  All of it by your cops.

Master_of_the_Karlsruhe_Passion_001

How about you take some of that taxpayer cash that pays your salary and use it to acquire a very rusty farm implement.

Which you can then use upon your nether regions.

Sideways.

Seriously.  How much of a stone racist asshole do you have to be to insist, again, that it is the Black kid’s fault that he interrupted a bullet with his body?  How much of just a miserable human being do you have to be to choose this day and this vicious line of attack to add to the pain Tamir Rice’s family will never leave behind?I can’t even. There is a personal cruelty there that is contemptible.  A civilized society would spit on the street whenever Mr. Loomis passes by.

*Because all those midwestern “C” cities sound alike when you’re so pissed off you can’t see.

Image:  Master of the Karlsruhe Passion, Capture of Jesus Christ, c. 1450.