Everyday Erinyes #102

 Posted by at 9:33 pm  Politics
Nov 242017

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.”

I considered making this a Special “Are You Expletive Kidding Me?” Edition, but decided it might trivialize one of the stories, which I didn’t want to do.  But really, what else can one make of this?

A nine-year-old student at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, VA, was getting bullied, and her mother called AND emailed the school administration multiple times with no response.  In fact, she has still had no response, and she started trying in September.

In order to provide evidence, she put a recorder into her daughter’s backpack.  She hoped to prove, both that the child was being bullied, and that nothing was being done by the staff to put a stop to it.

What happened was that the recorder was discovered by the school, the child was moved to a different classroom, and a month later the Mom was charged by the Norfolk Police with a felony and a misdemeanor.

Sims was charged with felony use of device to intercept oral communication and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  The felony charge could carry five years in prison.

Yes, the mom has an attorney (and is she pissed!)  She believes the charges are a stretch and will not hold up in court.  But she also believes

“We are at the very early stages of this, but even at the early stages I think the community needs to know that this is happening, because any parent out there that is sending their child to school now could be at risk for something that happened to Sarah,” [attorney Kristin] Paulding said.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she also believes there are a lot of parents in the community who will NOT be happy about this turn of events.  I know I wouldn’t.

They are, incidentally, claiming that “electronic devices are not allowed in the classroom.”  This is a fourth grade classroom.  I’d also be upset as a parent if my fourth grade child did not have access to a computer in the classroom.

Megaera, Sarah Sims’s preliminary hearing is set for January 18th.  She seems to have a good lawyer, but you might want to be there anyway.

Then, in Buffalo Township, PA, an elderly couple were forced to file a lawsuit against both the township police and their insurance company when “trained drug inspectors” decided that their hibiscus plants were actually marijuana.  To make it even more surreal, the hibiscus WERE IN BLOOM AT THE TIME.  (I’m not a “trained drug inspector,” whatever that is but I do know a hibiscus flower when I see one (and I give the Cramers points for being able to get them to thrive in Buffalo Township, which is north of Pittsburgh.)

Edward Cramer, 69, and his wife, Audrey Cramer, 66, were quietly enjoying their golden years this fall when they called their insurance company about a neighbt was the poor’s tree that had fallen on their property. That’s when things started going wacky.

The insurance company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, sent its local agent, Jonathan Yeamans, to the Cramers’ place, but Yeamans apparently had more than insurance claims on his mind. According to the lawsuit, Yeamans surreptitiously took photos of flowering hibiscus plants in the backyard, then sent them to local police as evidence of an illegal marijuana grow.

So the police got a warrant, came to the house, pounded on the door, arrested Mrs. Cramer in her underwear and barefoot, handcuffed her, made her walk to the patrol car over gravel, kept her in it for four and a half hours – and then Edward got home to be met by police with guns pointed at him, arrested and thrown into the patrol car with Audrey.

After an hours-long search, finding, of course, no marijuana, they seized the hibiscus plants, labelling them “tall, green, leafy suspected marijuana plants.”

Oh, and just as the frosting on the cake (it would certainly frost me), the Cramers got a letter from Nationwide that if they didn’t get rid of the pot, their policy would be cancelled.  (I’d bet my butt that they could find a better insurance company by standing in a business park and throwing a rock, but having to look is annoying.)

Alecto, the Cramers are too old for this noise.  Please help in any way you can.

Living in the Washington DC metro area, Beverly Smith is – was – the mother of Alonzo Smith, who, two years ago, aged 27, was killed by special police at the Marbury Plaza Apartment Complex in Washington, D.C.

“Special police?  What the – er, what does that mean?”  Well, that was the part that tempted me to think, “Are they kidding me?”  Special police are people who are employed by a private firm – in this case, Blackout Investigations and Security Services – and contracted to businesses like apartment complexes to keep order.  They can’t actually make arrests, but they can detain people for the real police to arrest, and they are armed.  Perhaps the best description of their status is as a privately owned, for profit police force.  Sort of like Blackwater is a privately owned, for profit army.

In this particular story, the fact that they are armed is not an issue, unless they scared Alonzo half to death with them.  Alonzo appears to have died from injuries inflicted by a special police kneeling on his back while putting him in a chokehold.  His neck appears to have been broken at about C-2 (and there was blood there).  CPR incorrectly performed did not help.  The Washington, D.C medical examiner ruled it a homicide.

A grand jury was convened in December 2015.  In June of this year the attorney general returned a non-indictment.  It is in the front of Beverly’s mind because this month was the second anniversary of his death.

Like Philando Castile, Alonzo worked in a school (he was a teacher’s aide at Accotink Academy in Springfield, VA), and, like Philando, he was loved and looked up to by students, a number of whom he had assisted to find direction.  Besides Beverly, he was survived by two sisters and three children of his own.

Many of Alonzo’s students spoke at his funeral. They shared that, to them, Alonzo was more than just a teacher; that he was one of them. He understood what they were going through.

“My son had touched all of these children’s lives,” Beverly says. “Even on a mural, [and] on some of the letters, the kids would say, ‘Mr. Smith, we wanna be good for you. We miss you. We love you, Mr. Smith.'”

Tisiphone, I don’t know that you can achieve much justice here.  But maybe you can help strengthen Beverly in her community service work

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted Monday to Care2 HERE.


Everyday Erinyes #99

 Posted by at 10:40 am  Politics
Nov 042017

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.”

I think I may be close to breaking the code as to how people who are obviously racist can say things like “I’m absolutely not racist in the very least,” and appear to believe it.

It’s kind of like the Dunning-Kruger effect.  They don’t really understand what “racist” means, but they know it’s something bad.  So they think, “I’m a good person, so I can’t possibly be racist, because then I’d be a bad person.”

Case in point:  Joe Briggs, candidate for City Council in Suwanee, Georgia.  Technically his tweets have been “anti-semitic” rather that “racist,” but that doesn’t differentiate the sentiments, only the target group.  Most people who are the one are also the other.  Probably misogynist, too.  Here are some:

[A]t least the Nazis assimilated and contributed to US society.

Zionists in Israel far worse than anything described in Mein Kampf. Get over it.

[G]et the Jews out of the White House and out of POTUS’ ear.

I particularly note the statement that Nazis have “assimilated and contributed to US society” and its implication that Jews have not.  Mr. Briggs, Jews have assimilated so well into US society that you probably have no idea how mant contributions they have made because you don’t recognize the contributrs as Jews.  Nazis, on the other hand, have mostly contributed bigotry and hate.  Well, of course, no one is useless.  They can always serve as horrible examples.  But I’m sure that’s not what Mr. Briggs had in mind.

Mr. Briggs thinks that his political opponents are “digging up dirt on him to distract from their own failures.”  Well, distractions are not unknown in politics.  But in this case, the “dirt” that they are “digging up” is absolutely real.

Megaera, maybe you can do some explaining to him.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut – oh, by the way, if you are eating right now, or just finished eating, or about to eat, you may want to skip this section until later.  Seriously.  Now, where was I?  Oh, yes, in Connecticut.  At the University of Hartford.  Where there was a – well, let’s say a failure to communicate.  Between roommates.

One of the young ladies (need I say the white one?) complained of her roommate “posting Snapchat videos of [her] sleeping and making fun of [her]snoring.”  Oh, yeah, that’s TOTALLY a reason to stick her toothbrush up your – ahem.

She also “spit … in her coconut oil, put … moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubb[ed] used tampons on her backpack, … and so much more….”  all in order to get the woman she called “Jamaican Barbie” to move out of the room.

The victim. whose name BTW is Jasmine, was really only aware of the perp turning off the lights when she left and Jasmine was still in the room.  This did make her feel unwelcome.  She had no idea the perp was doing all this until it got bragged about on Instagram.  She had had “extreme throat pain” but did not, and does not, know what might have caused it.  (Personally I think it might have been the spit, which clearly must have contained snake venom.)

The perp has been arraigned on charges of breach of peace and criminal mischief, and, if the West Hartford police get their way, a charge of intimidation based on bigotry or bias.  She was also ordered to stay away from the college campus (reasonable, since she’s been expelled.)

Tisiphone, this does sound like one for you.

Now, from the “bad news is good news” department, a seasoned legal journalist who also happens to be a personal friend of James Comey has posted a thread on Twitter explaining why Trump’s delusional demands for the DOJ to investigate Hillary Clinton actually represent a tribute to the independence and integrity of our justice system.  This journalist is named Benjamin Wittes, and here are a couple of excerpts from his Twitter feed:

It’s strong enough that he can fulminate all he wants about investigating Clinton and still Mueller does his job, and the FBI does its job, and the men and women of the DOJ do their jobs, and none of their jobs, as our democratic polity has determined them, is to fulfill his undemocratic ambitions to loose investigators on people he doesn’t like….


It’s a stunning statement of presidential constraint: A president actually saying that he aspires to corrupt interference with law enforcement and can’t pull it off.  Let it warm your heart.  It certainly warms mine.

Alecto, it’s been so since the Constitution was adopted.  Keep it so.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.


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


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


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