Note Explosion After Reagan by U.S. Bureau Statistics
Who can barely wait for the rightwing revelation that explains away a telling national threshold -- why our "greatest nation ever" has more criminals behind bars than any other on the globe? In a rout, well more than twice anyone else. Right, even autocratic regimes with secret police who wouldn't know habeas corpus if it crushed them. We're the greatest, hands down, the kings of law and order.
There must be economy of scale, for how else can 5% of earthlings spend upwards of $50 billion perpetually housing 25% of all planetary inmates; the per capita tab for dangerous cell-dwellers, over 50 G's. Do we Yanks relish excess or what, plus awarding us unenviable international bragging rights, especially to overseas dictators plagued by insurgencies: our "limited government" works, keeping millions of riffraff drawn to street insurgencies under wraps.
Nevertheless, today's wingbat GOP "solutions" to nation-sinking perils -- like that scourge of abortions (actually decreasing), or menacing public employee unions, or government stimulus during a huge recession -- are crusading for more laws to put more n'er-do-wells behind bars. Naturally, extremists overlook pedophiles or banksters, mass polluters or media liars wildly enriched by bearing false witness every day. Why focus on true sinners when faux rogues abound -- needy, underfed children, pregnant, unwed mothers, mosque-building, imagined sharia law advocates, or demonic defenders of gay marriage, collective bargaining or Obama's birthplace?
Justifying Justifiable Homicide
Incarceration, of course, is only for miscreants not bad enough to deserve worse, like justifiable homicide. That could now happen to "murdering" abortion doctors per three radical state proposals, and remember the calls for beheading whistleblowers (like Julian Assange). And there's nothing wrong with capital punishment for three-time losers, the mentally ill on death row, or untried "terrorists" who manage to expire in prison, whether Gitmo or Bagram.
Then along comes my favorite Republican this month, pushing another kind of capital punishment without trial. That would be Assemblyman Virgil Peck (R-Kansas), for whom 54,000 petitioned the governor there for his resignation -- and only because of his modest answer to illegal immigration: shoot people from helicopters, like wild hogs. True, not Christian, nor uncivilized, but the cost-savings are undeniable. This peckerhead urges nothing less than domestic shock and awe, a pre-emptive Bush Doctrine by which sharpshooters would eliminate messy arrests, expensive pesky trials or deportations.
Peck later apologized for his Tea Party wit, however reeking of immigrant-bashing, yet refuses to resign. What with that plethora of violent jokes and images, if not laws, rolling off GOP tongues, we on the left must have defective funny bones for not getting his "joke." Such nastiness surpasses even "don't retreat, reload," but endorses firing away, verbally and with bullets, as if there's no accountability. Makes one wonder what these Neanderthals boast about in private.
Curiously, I've heard no hot GOP proposals -- even talking points -- to restrain what every good conservative should dread with his dying breath: massive, no-trial renditions -- exported torture with long prison sentences that could happen to anyone -- or outlandish contracts approved by the Obama White House Hit Squad Committee -- now targeting one unindicted American citizen who turned terrorist. This is the kind of lawlessness that puts resistance in perspective.
No Problem: Prison Glut Persists
Boy, are we lucky prison construction has been a recession-proof growth industry, topping $5 billion since 2000. Like jobs, loose change and political capital, it's always better to have too much (even empty cells) than not enough. Are not Republicans the never-ending, ultimate masters of pinpointing grisly enemies, wherever they lurk? And voila! -- they actually pass laws that will add to our inmate population, giving us the all-time world record.
In fact, with more repeat offenders incurring stiffer sentences, plus the drug war insanity, the logic behind the building mania tracks the four-fold inmate prison surge since Reagan. If you build them, apparently, jailbirds will come -- or get dragged in. Abortion doctors, when not gunned down, are of late especially vulnerable to prosecution for violating a spate of intrusive, new restraints on legal birth control.
Beyond abortionists, immigrants, whistleblowers, even liars on loan applications, I stumbled on one new, upcoming Republican category: those guilty of non-marital sex. That dimwitted notion oozed from an Alaskan nominee (by Palin's Alaska successor, Gov. Parnell) to a state judicial oversight committee: one Don Haase openly endorsed prosecution for those committing "sex outside of marriage." Does this prudery cover teen sex, oral sex, sex with animals, gay sex -- why not sex with your own single self? How about lust in our hearts, which that dingbat Delaware Senate candidate deemed equivalent to sex?
And shadowy laws are indeed getting enforced. Though no major mortgage lender-banker-executive has been jailed, one guy in New York (profiled by columnist Joe Nocera) is serving 21-months for overstating income on two mortgage loans. Meanwhile, Countrywide's chief sub-prime bankster, Angelo Mozilo, spent no time in jail after coughing up an SEC fine of $67.5 million for fraud. Lucky Angelo kept more than he donated, topping a career of predation on now threadbare debtors.
And more: the Wall Street Journal notes one Jeffrey Stearns endured his own "debtor's prison" -- jailed in Indiana for two nights over a $4K debt. One of payday lender customer (Easy Money Express Inc., Paducah, Ky.) spent five days in an Illinois cell last March over a $275 debt. And you thought debtor's prison ended in Dickens' 19th Century. Surprise!
Christian Indoctrination -- Bring it on
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