Friday, June 10, 2016

ONCE AGAIN, JOCK PRIVILEGE

The facts are about as disgusting as they can be short of including murder. On the night of January 17, 2015 a young woman attended a fraternity party with her sister. What she wore or didn't, had to drink or didn't, even the fact that she attended a fraternity party at all are completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that a young man, a jock on the swim team at Stanford named Brock Turner, also attended the party. At some point the woman was rendered unconscious and Brock Turner saw that as an opportunity for getting off sexually with an unwilling, unconscious woman. Rape is heinous enough under any circumstances. When the woman is unconscious that is exponentially worse and says a great deal about the inner workings of the rapist's mind. Rape is always about power. That Brock Turner felt that he should demonstrate his virility on an unconscious woman immediately shows the poverty of his alleged virility.

Turner got his victim into the dirt behind a dumpster to rape her, another fact that reveals more about Turner's mind and and actions while having no relevance to the victim. Two bicyclists noticed the rape in progress, interrupted Turner and then chased him down when this cowardly thug ran. Now, nearly a year and a half later, Brock Turner has been found guilty of rape in a trial before Judge Aaron Persky. He faced a minimum sentence of two years in prison. His victim addressed him and the court enumerating the effects on her.

Let's pause here a moment and note some salient facts. Brock Turner is white. His family is comfortable financially. Brock Turner is also a jock. Brock Turner appealed to the court but qualified his half-hearted attempt at contrition by attempting to blame alcohol for his vile actions. Not surprising in a state that mitigated the sentence of a multiple assassin because he ate too many Twinkies.

Were Brock Turner an African-American or Hispanic the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation and their friend Donald Trump would be calling for his head. Were Brock Turner from a poor family without the means to hire good legal representation he might be serving a maximum sentence of fourteen years mostly because in 2016 even some Republiscum have decided that lynching is a bad idea. However, the real reason that Brock Turner is going to serve just six months in county jail is that he's a jock.

Brock's father, from whom he presumably has learned the greater part of his lack of respect for women, appealed to the judge to not blight his son's life and destroy a promising career in sports.

Really?

Brock Turner's father's speech to the court more than adequately demonstrates why his son would think that raping an unconscious woman was just good fun. Why would anyone wish harm to Brock's "promising career" in sports when Mr. Turner's talented boy just made a momentary mistake? Boys will be boys, after all and boy jocks will find an outlet for all that excess testosterone. The woman who happens to be in the way should just...you should excuse the expression...suck it up and get on with her life, right?

Much like Ethan Couch's "Affluenza" defense Brock Turner is, we are told, just too good for punishment. But here Turner benefits from the jock privilege that has protected O. J. Simpson, Ray Rice, Michael Vick, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and others who play that ultimate trump card. If a coddled jock is allowed to get away with everything up to and including murder he will go out on the field or into the pool and erase all his crimes by winning one for the home team. Worse yet, jock culture is so thoroughly integrated into most people's thinking that the men and women who root for that team, who have committed a part of their own identities to the success of some ephemeral rush in some ephemeral competition, never realize that deferring to the athlete with the "promising career" undermines the society for us all.

Currently the hew and cry is for Judge Persky's head. His excessively lenient sentence of Brock Turner is an embarrassment to our criminal justice system. The statue of Justice is blindfolded because she is supposed to mete out punishment without respect to the persons before her. Persky clearly violated that image of justice but removing him from the bench does not solve the essential  problem. That problem is that ubiquitous sports fans feel that jock privilege tips the scales of justice. Removing that one judge is a waste of time if we cannot stop granting jocks a pass regardless of ther heinousness of their crimes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES AND THE PICTURE OF D(orian) TRUMP

So, the Republiscum have finally embraced their essential Fascism and gone the whole hog by embracing an actual Nazi in Donald J. Trump. Now we get to see the...(choose the best descriptor)

  1. Cognitive Dissonance (charitable)
  2. Schizophrenia (psycological)
  3. New Speak (literary)
  4. Utter Dishonesty (actual)
...of party officials and adherents as they contort themselves into denying that backing Trump is the apotheosis of everything that the Republiscum Party has stood for over the last eighty years.

Trump makes racist statements which Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell deplore but they embrace him. After all, if you're a Republiscum you NEVER say what you're actually thinking.

Trump is a sexist who looks at his wives and daughter as pieces of meat but, hey, the women in his family, Sarah Palin and Phyllis Schlafly support him. Just don't notice that those endorsements represent financial self-interest, utter witlessness and pure Fascist evil.

Trump has supported gun control measures in the past but now denies any such impulses and gets the endorsement of Wayne La Pierre and the lunatic fringe of the NRA. Still whores will embrace anything that seems to embrace them back.

Trump is an egotist, twice divorced, philandering self-promoter who makes money off real estate including casinos but he's the darling of the family values, religious fundamentalist, Southern Baptist faithful. Of course, that alliance exposes the fact that the Pat Robertson/Falwell/Swaggart/Bob Jones/Graham Family/Dobson/Weyrich axis in religious extremism is not a religious movement but rather an entirely Fascist political movement simply using religion as a convenient cover for evading taxes.

Throughout the primary season Republiscum jabbered about "principles". Once upon a time there actually were Republicans who had principles. There were Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt of New York, Millicent Fenwick of New Jersey, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, Elliot Richardson of Massachusetts, Pete McCloskey and Earl Warren of California and William Ruckelshaus of Washington. All but McCloskey and Ruckelshaus are as dead as the idea of Republiscum actually having any principles other than a lust for power.

During the Civil War the Republican Party allied itself with corporate interests. On one level it was a pragmatic decision for the winning of the war against secession and slavery. By the end of the Civil War the Republican Party was so full integrated into the corporate world that it could protect the depredations of corporate interests even against the interests of the loyal veterans of the Union armies. The Republicans could maintain power for all but sixteen years between 1861 and 1932 and through depressions, recessions and "panics" that their policies promoted and which occurred at least once each decade until the final cataclysm in the 1929 crash and ensuing Great Depression.

The Republiscum have not been "the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt" since 1908 in the latter case and definitely since 1964 in the former.

Despite efforts to claim a legacy from Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican Party has never really been Teddy's party. He was an accidental president and not just because of McKinley's assassination in 1901. Roosevelt was governor of New York elected on a reform ticket and an embarrassment to the New York Republican boss, Thomas C. Platt. Platt pleaded with Mark Hanna, the Republican boss of Ohio and McKinley's puppet master, to get Roosevelt out of New York where he was messing with Platt's corrupt control. This was in the days when the running gag was that there was a woman who had two sons: one went to sea and the other became Vice-President of the United States and neither was ever heard from again. The vice-presidency was where political careers died. Unfortunately for Hanna, Platt and the Republican Party and thanks to Leon Czolgosz, McKinley died rather than Roosevelt's career. Sure the Republicans ran the overwhelmingly popular Roosevelt in 1904 but they were greatly relieved to be rid of him in 1908 and rejected him thereafter. So, no, the Republican Party was never really the party of Theodore Roosevelt.

As for being the party of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican repudiated that heritage in 1964.

The old Confederacy became "the Solid South" following the Civil War and the corrupt bargain to installed Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. The south, which had been substantially Democratic since the election of Jackson in 1828, viscerally opposed any Republican thereafter. However, the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations support for civil rights legislation and opposition to segregation flipped the racist leaders of the south. In 1964 the most vocal segregationist in the U. S. Senate, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, switched parties to support Republiscum Barry Goldwater for president. Though Goldwater's campaign was doomed from the start, Thurmond set the terms for Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" in 1968. That "Southern Strategy" essentially coalesced the racists, Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremist groups around the Republican Party that portrayed itself as the defender of western values against Russian and Chinese communism, the boogieman Republicans had campaigned against hysterically since 1945. That coalition of white men, the racists of the south and disaffected and displaced of the north and west served the Republiscum well in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988. However, to pretend that the Republiscum Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln has been a bad joke since it became the party of Strom Thurmond in 1964.

Worse yet, the Republiscum Party has given itself over to the extremists of Christian fundamentalism over the last four decades. These are the religious zealots who cherry pick Biblical passages to justify their bigotry. They look at 17th Century charters to claim that the 18th Century Constitution doesn't mean what it says when it draws a line between church and state, religion and secularism. I would suggest that any religion that has to lie about it evidence to make a point or assert that a record that is between 2,000 and 6,000 years old adequately explains a world that has far superseded what it was 50 years ago is utter nonsense. Still, in supremely cynical fashion the Republiscum give lip service to the agenda of their fundamentalist idiot constituency, pass local and state laws they know will be struck down by the courts, and keep the rubes in line to support their larger Fascist policies.

And now the lunatic constituencies that the Republiscum have husbanded with fear, hate, xenophobia, lies and corruption have come together to foist upon them the ultimate expression of that bigotry in Donald J. Trump, the amoral, self-promoter who promises everything without having, even after his improbable election, the power to provide anything. And the Republiscum establishment now attempts to pretend that it wouldn't touch Trump with a ten foot pole while hugging him close as the perfect expression of all the Republiscum actually are.

Donald J. Trump is the Republiscum Party's Picture of Dorian Gray. All the vile, noisomeness hidden behind the Republiscum rhetoric is manifest in Trump and splayed across the face of every Republiscum in, running for or supporting anyone for office. It is a horrifying picture but painted carefully, lovingly and intentionally over many decades. We now will discover whether the American people can stand to look at that picture and embrace it or turn from it and reject it forever.