Monday, August 28, 2017

Arpaio puede chupar vergas en el Infierno

Source (side note, Shane Norkus can also suck a dick).

Here we are in 2017, in Universe B, and anyone with half an ounce of sense can't even keep up with the list of daily outrages and absurdities produced by online legions of semi-literate, right-wing populist-libertarian-neofascists, regardless of how much free time and dedication they have. I will restrain myself and avoid ranting about them here.

Here we are in 2017, and actually, you know what? All you have to do is pay attention a little bit and connect a few dots here and there to find yourself in a front row seat to the spectacular and rapid decline of America, its global hegemony, and capitalism in general. 
"Hegemony" is an especially relevant phrase, too, in that popular publications have been trying to call attention to the fact that the American navy is spread too thin for over a year, and here in Japan we disillusioned economic migrants (because you know what else, that's what we are; "expats" are what obnoxious monolingual Brits in Spain are) have woken up twice this summer to news of American warships colliding with merchant vessels in the Pacific. One of my close friend's boyfriend's company's cargo was on the first one, and he had to start work early and stay up late to determine what had happened to it - luckily, he did locate it safely unloaded and undamaged. I talked to a young guy based at Yokosuka at a punk show whose job it is to repair such vessels, and he said they weren't allowed to take pictures in the vicinity of this particular one, go near it, or really even look at it.

The second collision happened shortly after John McCain, my state's decrepit and senile senior senator, had surgery on his malignant brain tumour and showed up looking shaken and uncomfortably like Frankenstein's monster just in time to cast the single deciding "no" vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, having presumably tasted the emptiness of the void and the utter pointlessness of his stubborn allegiance to the military industrial oligarchy now that he has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Just like the ship that is - was - his namesake, patrolling a Pacific unequivocally dominated by China in this new transition age before it senselessly smashed into a Liberian tanker near Singapore, the U.S.S. John McCain. You can't make this stuff up.

But I digress; McCain, having been repeatedly excused for his general nastiness and aforementioned senility because of his extensive torture-stint as a P.O.W. in 'Nam, has achieved the nose-wrinkle worthy aesthetic of Literally the Whitest Man in the Universe and little else. At 80, he is counting and hopefully cherishing the days that remain to him, ideally in a state of lucidity and terror that deeply tints his waking and dreaming hours with a deep and appalling shade of guilt and regret. 
Today, though, I'm talking about Arpaio, who at the advanced age of 85 is an even dustier relic but is unfortunately still kicking and successfully avoiding dying in prison. This displeases me, but then, so does virtually everything about Universe B, and to be quite honest, I've been waiting for this inevitable pseudo-presidential pardon to share with you something I wrote several years ago about the injustices committed by this particular nasty old white fuckhead and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department/Office as a whole, hereafter abbreviated as MCSO.

In 2012, the year I quit America, it was Arpaio who was exactly 80 years old, and despite ever-growing public outrage and opposition, he was reelected Maricopa County Sheriff yet again. 
Just a bit of background information if you're not from Phoenix: it's worth noting that the city and its many tentacles of tasteless suburban sprawl, comparable in quantity and irrelevance to Jovian satellites, are located within this county. Phoenix is one of the very few red urban centres in the States - as people who actually read books and have jobs that require a certain level of expertise and exposure to how the world works populate such urban centres with much greater frequency - and Maricopa is the fourth most populous county in the U.S. I have also seen it repeatedly described by local news outlets as "the Trumpiest county in America", which is really heartbreaking even though I guess we've always known deep down that it was true and just didn't have a conveniently all-encompassing superlative for how fucking shitty it is until now.

Paul Penzone finally won the election last year, but from 1993 to 2016 - the overwhelming majority of the time for which I and nearly of my friends and peers have been alive - Sheriff Joe reigned supreme and uncontested, so the 2012 election results really pissed a lot of us off. 
There had been years of build-up: Crypt Keeper Brewer, the hysterical shrieking mummy forever shielding her rapist son who was our fearless leader before soulless ice cream baron Doug Douchey, had in 2010 successfully stirred the hearts and sludgey frightened souls of her support base with the notorious "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighbourhoods Act", known locally and internationally as Senate Bill 1070. At the time I was at ASU, the focus of my Spanish literature major was Mexican-American Studies, and literally entire classes in which I was the only Caucasian person present were devoted to emotionally-charged debates and presentations about its heavily fascist police state vibe and institutionalised racism in an historical context (e.g., the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo). I read the law in its entirety, of course, but had long since forgotten its actual, laughably innocuous and yet ominously Nazi-esque official title. And yeah, you know what? Calling racially-based, oppressive right-wing shit like this "Nazi-esque" isn't reactionary or uninformed, it's just accurate. A week or so ago I shared this interesting article, for example, about how the Nazis full-on had deep talks about Jim Crow and how to make something similar work for them.

There were protests. If you search in Spanish there's phone footage of the guerilla Manu Chao concert that was held in a vacant lot downtown the following year and featured a number of prominent and memorable speakers (labour organisation and union people, professors, etc.). Alexandra and I were there. There's also this official video, which makes perfect background music and audio as you continue reading:

So, without further ado, I'll finally re-share what I wrote for another website/blog using some research I had done while still in college about the table flip-worthy 2012 reelection amid the climate you hopefully understand or remember pretty well now. Because, sadly, here we are in 2017, and it's still as relevant as ever.

Update: So Arpaio's just gotten re-elected for the sixth time, at 80 years of age, having outspent Paul Penzone's campaign by nearly $8 million. 
In the end, that broke down to about $11 per vote.
I've got to wonder, what are the ramifications of this? 

(by Shepard Fairey)

That Arizona is a very reliably red state full of bigoted old white people isn't news:
"To the average older guy, the issue is ‘All he's doing is trying to protect us from the people who are coming across the border,' said Bruce Merrill, an emeritus political science professor at Arizona State University." (Reuters)

It's hard to believe, though, how ignorant people rooting for Arpaio apparently are of his gross misuse of public funds, unconstitutional treatment of inmates, and professional negligence in general. As I mentioned in my response to a comment that created this article, he's not even protecting us from all those supposedly scary, crazy Mexicans running amok in the streets as uninformed suburban whites living in gated communities would like to believe. His only concerns are with his celebrity image, retaining his office until he dies, and apparently, spending as much money as possible. Arresting illegal immigrants working at tire yards and car washes for not showing up for their DUI hearings or on minor possession charges just doesn't actually do anything to combat gang and cartel violence.
It's astounding how much these people manage to get away with, which is why this (as well as Jeff Flake's completely unworthy ascension to what used to be Jon Kyl's Senate seat) is so profoundly disappointing. Had SB 1070 not been such an effective scare tactic, perhaps we'd be a more purple state by now. But, that's why I'm leaving forever. I digress.

Asking what ramifications this election will have is a very expansive question, so I've chosen to focus on some of the more notable lawsuits and allegations against the MCSO, and one practically needs a snow shovel (which are generally in short supply here) to get through them. They highlight how broken and corrupt Arpaio's sheriff's department is, and taxpayers can only expect more of the following variety of atrocities as his disgusting reign drags on.

Arpaio's re-election means that young girls and other victims of sex crimes that have gone uninvestigated will continue to suffer as Sabrina Morrison has. 
Sabrina Morrison, who is mentally disabled, was first raped by her uncle in March 2007, and after she told her teacher, a detective used a rape kit to perform tests on her. He said at the time there were no obvious signs of assault, but after the kit was tested in a lab semen was found, and the detective was asked to get a blood sample from the girl's uncle. Instead of doing this or pursuing the case in any way, the detective closed the file for four years.

Sabrina's family thought she was lying, and her uncle continued to rape her repeatedly, threatening to kill her if she told anyone again. He got her pregnant, and she had an abortion.

In September 2011 detectives finally obtained a blood sample from Morrison's uncle, and his DNA was matched with that of the semen. He was finally charged in February of this year, with one count of sexual conduct with a minor, and MCSO then closed the case again. Later, with help from a victims' advocate, Sabrina Morrison was able to re-open her case and bring additional charges against her uncle. He's since been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

In August, Sabrina filed a $30 million notice of claim against Arpaio and the MCSO for gross negligence. And that's just my first horrifying example.

Arpaio's re-election means that people will continue to die and be seriously injured in MCSO custody and that millions in taxpayer dollars will continue being subsequently spent on settlements for their families. 
Still others have been wrongfully imprisoned and/or had their reputations destroyed. There's no way insurance has covered all of it, though this is why the county sheriff's office deductible has increased from $1 million to $5 million per incident. 
Some examples include:

■ Scott Norberg, a repeat offender who suffocated as he was being held down in a restraint chair with a hood over his head back in '96, after having also been tased and beaten. MCSO was accused of destroying evidence in this case. ($8.25 million settlement)

■ Richard Post, a paraplegic man in a wheelchair and with a colostomy bag who was also arrested back in '96, on St. Patrick's Day, for disorderly conduct and possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was strapped violently to a restraint chair, and his restraints were tightened after he begged for them to be loosened. Permanent damage was done to his neck and shoulders, effectively rendering him a quadriplegic. ($800,000 settlement)

■ James Saville, who was 18 at the time, was charged with plotting to assassinate Arpaio with a pipe bomb in 1999. After he was wrongfully arrested and spent four years in jail awaiting trial, it came to light that the case's detective had helped buy the bomb components themselves and had entrapped Saville as part of a publicity stunt. ($1.6 million settlement)
(Reading this one in particular again all these years later I'm like, -holy fucking shit-.)

■ Charles Agster, a severely mentally handicapped man who had done a massive amount of meth and subsequently had a seizure and died in custody after being restrained and having a hood placed over his head in 2001. ($9 million settlement)

■ Brian Crenshaw, a blind and mentally disabled man who was beaten to death by deputies in '03. Evidence was allegedly destroyed in this case. ($2 million settlement)

■ Delano Yanes, who only remembers a black glove coming toward his face and waking up in a pool of blood after being beaten by deputies in '03 following his arrest related to the death of his infant son, for which his was found to be not responsible and acquitted. ($900,000 settlement)

■ Deborah Braillard, a mother who died after being denied treatment for her diabetes for three days in 2005. ($3.25 million settlement)

■ Rico Rossi, who died of a heat-induced heart attack in Tent City after being charged with a DUI in 2009. For those not from Arizona, the temperature out there, from which there is no respite, routinely tops 120 degrees in the summer. ($925,000 settlement)

■ Marty Atencio, a military veteran who had been off his medication, wandering in a daze and behaving strangely, was taunted, stripped naked, beaten, tased to excess and died of a heart attack in MCSO custody last year. ($20 million suit)
(Another one that is just dumbfoundingly awful and shocking.)

Arpaio's re-election also means that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars will continue to be misspent within the MCSO. 
It's believed that over $80 million has been improperly spent in the last 5 years alone

His employees have used state funds to pay for expensive meals and drinks, parties, trips to Disneyland and other places, stays at resorts, and more. The MCSO detention fund has been used to pay for out-of-state training and for unlawful private investigations into Arpaio's political rivals. For some reason the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to pursue charges or continue investigating these misuses. And speaking of unlawful investigations of rivals, let's not forget how Arpaio has publicly intimidated, feuded with, and falsely accused said political rivals and critics, also at significant legal cost to the county.

(...was the original link, but it has since been archived and may or may not become available again, so here, have this even higher figure from Fox News, of all the amusingly ironic sources.)

The racial profiling accusations against the MCSO and the lawsuits associated therewith are at this point ubiquitous, especially with the attention they've gotten in the national media since the conception of Senate Bill 1070. I might add details later, but frankly, I've realised while trying to update this article that creating a comprehensive catalog of Arpaio's wrongdoings is nothing short of exhausting. It's a massive undertaking, and describing them without any editorial comment alone could easily constitute an entire book.

What's more, even though his margin of victory over Penzone is thus far (the election had not yet been decided when this was first compiled and written) about 88,000 votes, there are still over 600,000 that need to be counted. Latino advocacy groups have been complaining since before election day that many minority voters were given provisional ballots in what seems to be a pretty cut-and-dry effort to suppress them, as they seem to have been disproportionately given to, basically, darker-skinned people, and take longer to count.

"Arizona elections officials continued chipping away at a mountain of uncounted ballots from the Nov. 6 election, but more than 192,000 uncounted ballots remained Wednesday night."

Update: Unfortunately, Arpaio remained the decisive victor. 

The People Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio page on Facebook conveniently broke down the numbers:
Arpaio received 654,354 votes, or 51.1%, as of November 17th.
Penzone received 568,482 votes, or 44.4%.
Stauffer received 58,545 votes, or 4.6%.
Arpaio thus won by 85,872 votes, or 6.7%.

For comparison and perspective, though, he won by approximately 40 points in 2000, 26 points in 2004, 13 points in 2008, and now in 2012 it's slid to less than 7 points.

As long as he's still around, I can only hope that at some point he's indicted, badly shamed and forced to leave office before he dies in a delusional haze of egomaniacal glory.

(First published 3/19/2012)



Because of course he fucking did.

There's not much left to say at this point, as the list of filthy misdeeds at the hands of this delusional, narcissistic old fool (the one on the left up there, that is) speak for themselves, but here in Universe B they remain free of any practical consequence except perhaps the feeling of shame, which neither of these nasty old fascist ego-monsters is capable of as far as we know. So, just to reiterate, Arpaio can suck cocks in Hell, and so can Trump.

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