Everyday Erinyes #65

 Posted by at 8:05 am  Politics
Mar 112017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are always many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I am going to simplify things for the Furies this week, because, expected to come up next week, there will begin the confirmation hearings for the position in the Trump administration which has the greatest potential to do the longest lasting harm to the American people.  More harm, and longer lasting than Scott Pruitt?  I hear someone ask.  Yes.  I am talking about Neil Gorsuch, the Resident's nominee to the Supreme Court.

Paul Gordon, for People for the American Way, has prepared a report on Judge Gorsuch.  It's called "Real People, Real Lives: The Harm Caused by Judge Gorsuch."  Now, I am sure that even a President who is himself a Constitutional lawyer will ask for recommendations when there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court to fill.  That isn't a problem.  This is a problem:

When Donald Trump was running for president, he outsourced his future selection of potential Supreme Court nominees to two right wing organizations, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. They provided him a list of 21 people who were acceptable to them, Trump promised to select a nominee from the list they gave him, and they and their right wing colleagues agreed to support him. Neil Gorsuch was nominated as the product of this political arrangement.

Mr. Gordon, after this introduction, sets forth twelve cases actually decided by Judge Gorsuch during his tenure as a judge, and then ends with a conclusion.  Here is his Table of Contents:

 1 No Understanding of Sexual Harassment in the Real World
 2 Medical Device Maker Pushes Misuse of Product
 3 Gorsuch and Children with Autism
 4 No Leave Extension for Leukemia Patient
 5 Excessive Force
 6 Worker Dies Due to Inadequate Training
 7 Die or Be Fired
 8 Defer to the Governor, Facts Notwithstanding
 9 No Understanding of Another’s Perspective
10 Sex Discrimination
11 The Most Vulnerable
12 The Sixth Amendment: Undermining the Right to Counsel
13 Conclusion

That makes it sound like the report is practically a book.  It isn't really.  If you printed the whole thing out as a PDF, it would be 26 pages, or roughly 2 pages per case discussed.  In 16 point type (you're used to seeing 12 point), with the chapter headings in 28 point, with a lot of space between them and the text before and after.  So it's practically a walk in the park to read through (except for the ourageous results, which are hard on the blood pressure.)  But I'll provide here a little information about a few of the cases whose nature is not obvious from the title.

In Chapter 5, for instance, titled "Excessive Force," the force in question was a taser aimed from about 10 feet away at the victim, who died of it.  His bereaved parents brought suit against the City.  Judge Gorsuch dismissed the case.  made sure it did not even get to trial.

In Chapter 7, "Die or Be Fired," a trucker was hauling cargo in subzero weather, and his brakes froze.  He stopped and reported the problem to the company, then waited for a repair person.  Who did not show (may never have shown – it's not exactly clear who did come to do the repair.)  The heater in his cab was not working, and, remember, this is subzero weather.  After a couple of hours, he was numb and his speech was slurred.  He called the company twice more, the second time to notify the company he was going to unhitch the cab and drive for help and return (already an iffy plan with the shape he was in.) The company told him not to leave the cargo (in the trailer with the frozen brakes.  Right.) 

He drove for help anyway, and returned within about FIFTEEN MINUTES with assistance.  A week later, he was fired.  For abandoning his cargo.

Fortunately this case did not end tragically, since the Labor Department found for him, and it was upheld upon Administrative Review in the Tenth Circuit.  With Judge Gorsuch dissenting.  The law, he said, protects a driver who refuses to drive an unsafe vehicle.  It doesn't protect a driver who drives in a way he was instructed not to.
 
In Chapter 11, "The Most Vulnerable" applies to children with disabilities (and by extension to their guardians.)  The case hinged on the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requirement that before going to court, a claimant must have exhausted all IDEA administrative remedies.  Simply put (and probably from a legal standpoint inaccurately), Judge Gorsuch's position was that if you get a school district to the point of agreeeing that your child has a disability (but won't do anything about it), you will never be able to exhaust administrative remedies, because you will have "settled."  Gordon quotes another judge who explains how – um – against Congressional intent that is.

Dear Furies, I am not going to ask you to go after Judge Gorsuch.  He ia a lost cause.  No, instead I would like for Alecto to concentrate on all of the Democratic Senators and help them stiffen their backbones to filibuster and do whatever they can to prevent this confirmation.  You can (and probably should) share this report with them and encourage them to ask hard questions in the hearings based on the stupidest of the decisions.  Megaera and Tisiphone, I'd like for you to concentrate on the Republican Senators.  If we can keep the Democratic Senators firm (I know, that's a big if – maybe Tisiphone should pick up Manchin), it will only take two Republicans to deny him confirmation.

Gorsuch is only 49.  That is quite young for a Supreme Court Justice.  He could be there for as much as forty years.  I find that unthinkable.  Ladies, best of luck.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4041623

Share

Everyday Erinyes #57

 Posted by at 8:08 am  Politics
Dec 312016
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

You may be familiar with the classic definition of chutzpah (insolence, impudence, gall) penned by Leo Rosten: "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan."  I don't know whether that ever actually happened.  But I think we have a new definition, based on something which actually did happen: "that quality enshrined in a rapist who sues his victim, and the school which expelled him, for discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972."

Aaron Farrer, a 21-year-old from Lafayette, was accused of rape in September 2015 after a female student said Farrer took advantage of her drunken state. The woman showed police a text message she received from Farrer the next day apologizing for the incident. Farrer told police the woman consented to sex, and initiated the act.

So, he has just filed a Federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.  He says he was defamed.  He says he was a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.He says his constitutional rights were violated, and that he was not afforded due process.  He says the defendants "creat[ed] a gender biased, hostile environment against males."  Ah, me.  To the privileged, equality feels like persecution.

He says "the rape allegations against him were taken as truth from the outset."  Well, yes, when you admit and apologize to your victim in writing, and she is able to submit that as evidence, this is certainly a possibility.  It doesn't deprive you of due process.  Please explain that to him, Megaera, as only you can.

Question:  what would you do if you had adopted a dog or a cat and then decided you just didn't want it any more?  Trick question, right?  No on here would "just decide" they didn't want an animal any more after adopting it in the first place.  Or what if you just decided you didn't want your kid any more?  Really?  Would anyone do that?  Any human person?

In Halifax, PA, parents are facing multiple charges after police say three children were locked in a room, beaten and starved for three months because "they did not want them anymore."  I am not making this up.

Investigators found:

◦The six-year-old had a severe abrasion on his right eye; he said his father had thrown him across the floor as punishment, causing a severe facial injury
◦Victims told investigators that they would be locked in their bedroom at night and they could not leave the room
◦The four-year-old and five-year-old had visible signs of physical abuse; confessing to having been punched in the face
◦Victims said they would pound on the wall to get someone to take them to the bathroom, and they would urinate on themselves, on the bedroom floor, and no one would come
◦Victims said they didn't have a functioning heat source
◦Victims said the rooms were without furniture, and they would often peel paint off the walls
◦Victims said the last thing they could remember that they ate was an apple

"These were healthy kids, and while they were in their custody, these parents neglected them, starved them to such an extent they ended up the way they did," {Dauphin County District Attorney Ed] Marsico said. "We're prepared to prove they neglected these kids to such a point that they were near death."

There are things in the story which make me unsure to what extent the mother was a perp and to what extent she was a victim herself.  I cannot in conscience come down on one side or the other without more knowledge, so that's one thing I'm asking you to look into, Tisiphone.  Good luck.

So.  We've see two crimes of violence – sins of commission, as it were – and heaven knows there are more.  The guy in Las Vegas who was like, "How dare you object to me calling you a racial epithet, I'm going to beat you to death with this sign – oh, wait, my food's ready – OK, finished eating, I'll just beat you some more."  The woman who stabbed a black man in the New York subway because he offered her his seat – and he turned out to be transgender also – so she got a "twofer."  And, no, that isn't all.

But I want to turn to a sin of omission now.  WTF was this judge thinking?

TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas – An elderly Ranger man was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading guilty to multiple child sex crimes that happened at a church in Taylor County….  Wright was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

Well, sex offender registration is at least something.  But community service?  Is there anything in there that keeps him away from children? Or is he just being sent to a new happy hunting ground?

Okay, maybe prison is not the right place, but dammit, kids need to be protected, and if the church won't do it – and apparently it won't – the state needs to do it.  As one person commenting said"I can't belive, that we don't put child molesters in jail, they harm children, but we put drug addicts in jail for harming themselves. Just don't make sense to me."  Me neither, honey.  Alecto, I hope you'll keep an eye on him.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4028948

Share

Everyday Erinyes #56

 Posted by at 7:19 am  Politics
Dec 242016
 

As I have said, you may assume that I have cut the stories down; that there are more which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them, but I can't feature all of them, even all of them which are underreported.  Because it's going to continue to be true for the foreseeable future.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

Let's start with a little update.  Back in May I asked the Furies – all of them – to track down John R. K. Howard of Texas for an incident in Idaho.  Well, the criminal charges have been resolved (no word that I am aware of on the civil suit), and it appears that Mr. Howard will serve no prison time.  So, whatever counseling he received or is receiving from the Furies appears to be all he is going to get.  Barf.

There are, of course, plenty of new things going on.  Just last Saturday, on Fox News, for example, "Judge" Jeanine Pirro blasted Michelle Obama.  (BARF BAG AERT)

How she managed to get the education she has without learning anything – well, she is not the only one, and I don't understand any of them.  Just one point, how she can say with a straight face "America rejected you" when (a) there was no one named Obama on the ballot in any state, and (b) Hillary Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than the Cheeto-faced ferret-wearing Not My President is appalling.  Of course, it's Fox, so no one questioned a syllable.  Megaera, you want this one?

Then in Little Rock, AR, there was a road rage story with a child getting shot.  No, not the eight-year-old that was shot in the foot, this is a different one (I know it's hard to keep them straight.)  This was a three year old boy, and he died of it.

Acen King and his one-year-old brother were in the back seat going shopping with Grandma when she stopped at a stop sign.  Behind her, the driver of a 2003 Black Chevrolet Impala honked at her.  Instead of gunning the engine for her life, she honked back.  That's when the driver of the Impala got out of the car and opened fire.

Grandma (Kim King-Macon, to be precise) did not immediately realize the child was hit, so drove the the shopping center and called police from there.  Acen was taken to a hospital, where he died.  Incidentally he was the second young child killed in a road rage incident just in Little Rock, just in the last few weeks.  (The other one was not the girl who was shot in the foot either – she is still alive).

The police (who I must admit from the story sound very distressed about this) are still looking for the Impala and its driver.  Tisiphone, I'll bet you can make some progress here.  And if and when you do, you might consider, instead of tipping the police directly, instead giving the tip to someone who could really, really use the twenty grand reward which is being offered.

Unfortunately, not every community has police officers who are in the least concerned about children of color.  In Fort Worth, Texas, for example, this happened

Posted to numerous social media sites late yesterday was this video of a woman and her daughter being arrested by a Fort Worth, Texas police officer. Their crime? Being angry at police officer for not confronting the subject of the complaint: the white male adult who had allegedly choked the woman’s seven-year-old son.

(For an adult to choke a seven-year old is totally illegal, BTW)

Mom tells the officer that the white guy said the kid had "defied him."  (The choking is still illegal.)  The guy says that "the kid threw some paper on the ground—he littered—and when the man asked the kid to pick the paper up the kid didn’t and so he choked him."  Mom also explains that she and her kids have lived in the neighborhood for years, and the guy knows them and where they live, and he should have come and told her.

Then the cop says this:

Why don’t you teach your son not to litter.

Anyone besides me think this sounds a lot like "Why don't you just dress modestly?"

At which point Mom stated to raise her voice.  There is some escalation, all verbal.  Eventually the kid's older sister steps in fron of Mom (not towards the officer), which he decides is justification to tackle and arrest them both.

There is virtually no follow up available.  The officer has been placed on "restricted duty" (=paid vacation).  The department has this video as well as the officer's body cam, but that have a law there which "limits the information that may be released, including the officer's body cam footage" in an internal investigation.  It would be nice to learn whether the Mom and daughter are still stuck in jail or even hospitalized.  But no.  That is not available.

Someone in the comments stated that this happens all the time.  Someone else responded that it is not all the time but it is still too much.  I submit that, even if this kind of thing does not happen in every single interaction between law enforcement and persons of color, if it happens at least once a day to someone somewhere in the U.S. (and it does), the use of the expression "all the time" is justified.  What do you think, Alecto?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4028048

Share