Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tales of Absurd

The news as we ended the week made me have an early holiday laugh.

As I find our criminal injustice system distressing, it is rare that from that I can find a laugh but then again there are two sides to every coin.

First on the laugh track was this story about the Astor heir and his saga in prison.So while I understand the Astor heir committed a crime, the woman is long dead, she did not die destitute and the reality is that he is suffering from dementia the same way his mother did when he bilked her. At this point he is shitting himself and in reality I don't want to pay for the cleanup but apparently I don't. As one thing I learned from the article is that at Rikers he was abused and neglected as the other prisoners. So apparently prison is the one place income inequity is non existent.

I have written about Rikers as the example of all things wrong with large industrial jail complexes that exist to do little to rehabilitate or reform but maintain a status of quo of what jails were originally designed to do - punish and abuse. Guards and staff seem to have little function but to retain that belief and in turn cost society more than actually reformative programs. So in other words contribute to recidivism the same hospitals do with regards to re admissions. It is why I see both of these industrial complexes as largely two sides of the same coin of dysfunction.

No whether or not you agree that this man should be in prison is another issue but this is not about a young man like "affluenza" teen or criming while white where wealthy white people are given the get out jail free card, it was clear unlike my other favorite rich criminal, Robert Durst, was found not guilty of murder under the concept "self defense" while also dismembering and disposing of the body to the point the head was never found.

 I have never understood that one exactly as it is one thing trying to save yourself and stabbing or shooting someone attacking you. However Durst was pretending to be a deaf mute woman (fascinating right there and you think Caitlyn Jenner is interesting!) and killing his roommate/neighbor during an argument, of which I assume was likely about the neighbor finding out that Durst was not a woman, nor deaf nor mute,  nor probably destitute as living in a dump in Galveston would be where any of the wealthy jet set would have a crash pad. But the whole dismembering part is what I find odd. So did the victim/assaulter  fall repeatedly into the ax/cleaver over and over during the argument?  And then in the moment of shock, being a clean freak and all,  Durst decides to take the body parts to the bay and dump them as opposed to the trash as a way of being greener and cleaner? This explains all one needs to know about Jury's, Texas justice and having an actual Lawyer who can spill bullshit like they spill oil in the Gulf.

But this is about having a laugh.

Then we have the Shkreli story.   Just the photo of him doing the perp walk in  a hoodie only makes it even more perfect.     This  story just gets better as once again this punk seems to have an insatiable need to be infamous.   Here is the true meritocracy story of America.  That crime pays.  Oh wait that was not the American dream.  This is the story of a son of immigrants that are white so Trump doesn't want to wall out, goes to a gifted high school for whatever defines gifted in this country, which frankly I suspect he can do math, but goes to a third rate college, drops out (take that Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg) and simply takes up legal gambling in the form of playing stocks.

 Seen or read the Wolf on Wall Street or the new film Flash Boys?   He was the "Teen Wolf."  Then as any good loser does he steals the money to cover his debts. Managing to do a low scale Madoff not enough for this punk discovers the fraud industry in pharmaceutical industry and jacks up the price to cover more debts.  Then like the rest of his role models of oligarchs such as Steven Cohen (who for the record has never been charged in any crimes his staff however...), dabbles in philanthropy and of course buying art.  Someone has to pay a million dollars for a rare Wu Tang Clang record, those Modigliani's are way more expensive.    So upon his arrest the best part is knowing that civil asset forfeiture does work as the end of the article notes this:

When asked on Thursday if agents had seized the rare Wu-Tang Clan album that Mr. Shkreli reportedly bought, Robert L. Capers, the United States attorney, was coy. 
“I wondered how long it was going to take to get to that,” he said. “We’re not aware of where he got the funds that he raised to buy the Wu-Tang Clan album.”

Well there you go! Sometimes crime and the laws that supposedly exist to circumvent them pay. My personal favorite is that Shkreli said he was the most eligible bachelor. Well that status won't last much longer when he gets to prison as I am sure his cellmate will put a ring on it.

I did love the New Yorker's take on this with regards to his Attorney raising his fees 5000 percent.

But the reality is that all of this is sad that real criminals who have committed much larger crimes against our country go scott free and never prosecuted. We have bankers, big pharma, big law and big medicine that walk away unscathed and untouched and this low hanging fruit is given to us as some sort of token to show that people in charge care. And in reality all this is is a free pass for many executives who have done the same this past year when it comes to drug prices.

And it is not just white collar crime.  I want to point to this article about the Chicago settlements that have paid off families without any Police ever seeing any disciplinary action let alone lose their jobs. And this all costs taxpayers money and money that could be put to use to build housing, schools or business that could provide jobs which do more to circumvent violence than jails do.

And in Baltimore the rush to justice ended up finding once again that it does little when it is applied haphazardly as in the case of Freddie Gray.   This trial was rushed to the point of absurd and it does not shock that the jury, once again a jury of "peers", who could not make a decision about the guilt or innocence of someone who was not their peer but a person of authority. Much is assumed that regardless of color of the wearer of the uniform the uniforms color provides a sense of belief and the idea of reasonableness that trumps all logic. And logic and facts are as illusory in courts as the idea of a jury of one's peers is.

But again I wanted to have a laugh at the absurdity of it all. And that is what the season should bring, laughs and love and joy. Well there is always the Star Wars movie. That should do it!  Star Wars the space Western of moral tales where good trumps evil.  Well that is Science Fiction and sci fi are tales of the absurd.

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