Crime Stories

Hello out there. It’s officially hurricane season. That’s no big deal for most of the mainland U.S. I live near Chicago. So, not to worry. But that’s not to say I don’t care, since I have relatives who live in Florida. It’s a crapshoot as to if and where a hurricane may make landfall as it churns along in the Atlantic, with forecasters and their computer models projecting (it’s actually called “reasoning by inference”) what path it may take after feeding the data into the projection process. Certainly, however, one particular part of the U.S., that being the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico, likely is more on edge than any of its neighboring island countries.

Why? Well, it was broadsided by hurricane Maria last season. Other places took a battering from Maria as well, but nine months after Maria left Puerto Rico pretty much flattened, much of the island still has no electric power. And, after the island’s officials initial and ongoing claims that only 64 people died in that storm, a recent Harvard University study now estimates that at least 4,600 people have died directly or subsequently due to factors triggered by Maria. That’s twice as many hapless victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. It’s close to the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq, and nearly twice the casualties of our war on terror war in Afghanistan (and counting, in both cases, sadly, absurdly, and seemingly with no end in sight). But unlike those casualties of war, our government didn’t initiate hurricane Maria. Mother nature, the only real “superpower” there is, brought about this loss of life. However, whether our government intentionally sent troops into harms way, or Maria put the people of Puerto in her crosshairs, the U.S. government has some skin in the game as far as monitoring, managing and potentially mitigating the effects of the those two foreign military  invasions as well as the carnage in our “unincorporated territory”  caused by the hurricane.

The current administration, while not the one that started the body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems to have little interest in dramatically altering the foreign policy decisions that beat the war drums, post 911. The current administration, perhaps not surprisingly given the perpetual psychosis that is its most salient characteristic, is also not very interested in the dead or dying in Puerto Rico. 4,600 dead from Maria, and nine months later, the island remains mostly a shambles. I guess building a wall along the Rio Grand trumps re-building anything in P.R.

Shameful indifference even in the abstract, but when looked at closely, an act of criminal neglect, though with the political party I have long since labeled Murder, Incorporated in power, not shocking. The modus operandi of those now in power is clearly one that is bereft of empathy or compassion for the general public here and elsewhere. Washington, D.C. a la the beltway, is Psycho City. It’s a virtual asylum for the politically sociopathic insane, where indeed the inmates are running the facility. Some of its peripheral partners-in-crime do live in far-flung outposts across this country, and are bona-fide drinkers of Psycho City Killer Kool-Aid. I have some in my family. Ugh. Perhaps we “free thinkers”  all know someone who drinks that un-Kool-Aid.  Thus all the divisiveness, the rancid discourse. A slow but steady descent into a quotidian quandary, a daily dose of disbelief, disapproval, disappointment inducing political fatigue, at least for those of us waiting for deliverance from this monstrous aberration that is Trumpistan. Oh, and other political derailments that go back to Reagan starting in 1981.

Can you say stolen elections? No? Then do some research on it. Criminal, says I.

*   *   *

While many of us wait, thrust into an existential version of Estragon and Pozzo,  waiting on that guy Godot to show up and make it all better, there are occasional instances of the political Gang That Can’t Govern Straight, led by the Guy Who Can’t Think Straight (or morally), actually stumbling ass-backwards into doing something that–while not intended–represents a token form of righting a wrong. What could that be? Did Small Hands impulsively demand action for Puerto Rico? Did he abruptly decide to Tweet the U.S. back into the Climate Accord? Or Tweet re-enrolling our country into the Iran nuclear deal? Did he admit to being on Ambien everyday which, according to Roseanne Barr, has the side-effect of turning one into a ranting racist? Right a wrong? Admit being wrong? What is it?

No, of course none of the above. But he did suggest something that, while obviously devious at its core and self-serving as a strategy against the Justice Department, does in my opinion, have merit: a possible pardoning of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Blago, as even the media prefers to refer to him, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2009. His crime? Well, I’d say, for being a stupid fuck. Blago tried to power-peddle Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat after the 2008 election of Obama as President. Federal prosecutors evidently decided Blago was a most dangerous public official for doing so, and with Blagojevich’s blustering and posturing and flaunting in the media using one of the most blatant fallacies of reasoning, the red herring strategy, became all the more foolishly unlikable. But did his attempt to barter that seat cause anyone, anyone, to die? Or to be wounded, possibly crippled? Did it cost the U.S. taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and kill, cripple or leave anyone, anywhere harmed?

Of course it didn’t. It was a dumb-ass gambit played out by a dumb-ass. 14 years for that? Let’s see, what other public official’s actions did directly cause several thousand of our military personnel (see above) to die, and tens upon tens of thousands to be wounded, and possibly several hundred thousand civilians to die? No, not Small Hands (though he is the “leader” now of Murder, Inc.).

This person would be George W. Bush. Oh, and Dick Cheney. And others who now have been shown to have violated our Constitution, the Geneva Convention and assorted international laws to get the Pentagon (and most of the gullible general public to agree) to get our military deployed to Iraq. It was all a con job, proven as such. Bald faced lies. But G.W.B. was never indicted, let alone tried, let alone convicted for what are bona-fide crimes against humanity. In fact, several European countries have threatened to arrest Bush, Cheney and others if they set foot in their countries! 

The irony of Blagojevich’s 14 year sentence for being a bumbling blowhard is that particular Senate seat once held the derriere of Barack Obama who,  sworn in as President and soon asked by the press corp if he intended to seek indictments against the Bush administration, said something along the lines of “let’s look to the future”. There’s a new sheriff in town, albiet one not interested in righting that particular deadly wrong.

So much for justice being blind.

I’ve read mostly condemnations of the possible commutation of the rest of Blago’s sentence (he’s served several years of it with several to go). Of course there’s opposition because A) it’s Small Hands cynically targeting the Justice Department that is currently seeking to bring him to “justice” for, well, take your pick of offenses. And B) Blago is still an unlikeable guy. But did his crime deserve the time he was sentenced to? Hell no, not as long as those who are labeled as war criminals still get to walk freely about, writing books that are revisionist claptrap and touted by parts of the media in the process. Thanks, Oprah…

I don’t lose sleep over Blago and his being screwed by an absurd sentence for such a doofus means of trying to fill that empty seat. But I know hypocrisy when I smell it. So, please, Small Hands, you whack-a-doodle who just happens to have been allowed to become President, with the power to pardon part of that gig, let Blago-a-go-go!  You don’t actually give a rat’s ass about him, but he’s served enough time for a victimless crime (not counting himself, natch). Absurd on its surface. Criminally abusive relative to a fair approach to crime and punishment.

But to quote from Blue Oyster Cult’s great song about a certain large lizard named Godzilla:

History shows again and again how

nature points out the folly of man…





About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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