Wednesday, July 04, 2012

American Justice

In Florida, an 18 year-old first time offender was convicted of burglary and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. (He carried a gun but did not point it at anyone.)

In New York, the NYPD has issued "wanted posters" for a couple with a history of filming police "stop and frisk" harassment of Latinos and blacks.

In South Carolina, a woman was convicted after she injured people while driving drunk. The judge sentenced her to eight years in prison -- and to read the Old Testament. When that task is completed, she must write a book report on Job. (My summary would come down to four words: "Overrated, pointless fairy tale." I never liked Job. Everyone talks about that book as though it were deep and comforting. I found it to be about as deep as my dog's water bowl and about as comforting as cactus underwear.) Maybe that judge should be sentenced to read up on the separation between church and state.

America imprisons more people (in absolute terms, not per capita) than does any other country -- including China, which has four times the population. We're firing teachers and using the money to build more prisons. 
This comes at a time when soaring costs of prisons are wreaking havoc on federal, state and local budgets, as schools, libraries, parks and social programs are slashed. When I graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1983, my state spent more on higher education than prisons, a lot more. That equation is now reversed.
Criminalizing human behavior like never before, our judges are required by law to mete out increasingly punitive, long sentences, even for children. Even after inmates are released, they remain under the heavy-handed and pricey control of the criminal justice system for years or for life, often legally barred from voting, receiving public housing, food stamps or student loans.

Forced to "check the box" on job applications that they are convicted criminals, even those who have had simple convictions like marijuana possession are often legally discriminated against by employers.
Meanwhile, nobody on Wall Street will ever go to jail for misrepresenting gimmicky financial instruments as solid AAA investments, even though the only thing backing those investments were toxic loans. Nobody in America cares about the great LIBOR banking scandal. And nobody will ever prosecute the serial fraudsters who run Bank of America:
They're out of control, yet they'll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard.
Ladies and gentlemen: Behold the wonders of American Justice. And enjoy your Fourth of July celebrations.
We have always been more interested in how our favorite sports team is doing or the latest missing blond cheerleader than our political masters. But then we have been leading a comfortable life up to now. What the Obama puppeteers have to do is balance the take over against our comfort level until they have gamed the system to the point where 70% of our votes don't matter. They have the other 30% locked up by Fox News and "Fundamentalist Christian" Churches.
1) Yes, there is very little justice in this country. Things are bad and getting worse and people dont care. I wonder how bad things will have to be before they do care. My guess is that as long as the airconditioning is working, then no one cares. If you switch it off then the country is ungovernable.

2) I recommend Maimonides on Job. Its a very old story, predating Judaism by quite a few years. Probably a story that Abraham brought from Mesopotamia. Of course age doesnt make it good or deep, but I think it is quite instructive. Perhaps the midrash brings out the richness of the story. If you can find the time, please write more on why you dont think much of Job.

Harry -- I'm surprised that anyone makes much of anything out of Job. I'm surprised that it is canonical.

I recall how I felt after reading it as part of an assignment. (Comparitive religion class.) "That's IT? God just pops up and says 'I'm fucking with you. Such is my perogative. Deal with it.' THAT'S the big twist ending?"

Also, let's face it -- it's really repetitive. That long middle section goes on and on. J-Man just complains and complains about his sore boils and his companions run out of new stuff to saw pretty quickly.

And then, later in life, religious types would counsel me (or others) to read Job because one can (allegedly) find peace and harmony and bliss and consolation and all that other good stuff in it. Like I can be CONSOLED by the concept of a God who is basically a psychopath who will torture you endlessly just because he made a bet with the devil. Yeah. THAT thought really cheers me up when the rent's due and I don't have any money.

Job. What a lousy book.

Joshua is worse, though.
Well i recommend Maimonides.

The consolation is that there is peace in submission to the will of god. And job is not punished out of caprice. But rather to instruct him in the true nature of religion. Unreflected religion is nothing but superstition. Job was blessed by his torment because it led him to a deeper appreciation of god. I often wonder about his wife and kids but i can imagine what the rabbis would say.

But maybe i should leave the midrash to the experts.

Harry, come ON. "Peace in submission"? The God of Job is crazy. Who wants to submit to THAT?

The gnostics had it right. To them, the god of the OT was the Demiurge -- the half-maker -- and he wasn't deserving of "submission." They thought he was more like the creepy, pre-moral ominipotent kid played by Billy Mumy in that old episode of the Twilight Zone.

"Peace in submission." Yeah. Right.

"That was a GOOD thing you did, Jehovah. It was good, real good, when you sent my wife into the cornfield and afflicted me with these boils..."
You should hear what the Rabbi's have to say about Jacob and Esau. Apparently fraud, and theft are ok if it is for the longer term good of the tribe.

Thing is I dont really understand the Gnostics so be patient with me. I have done my best to read up on the subject but I still dont really get it. But what little I do understand makes me sympathetic to your position. Rather than run through all the ridiculously convoluted arguments about why beastly behaviour from the OT God is actually good for us, its very easy to see it as a dichotomy between the Sophia on the one hand, and the rather anti humanitarian Demiurge of the OT on the other.

On the job thing, I would view it another way. I would think about all the horrible things that can and do happen to people in life, and reconcile it with the idea of a loving and benevolent god with an rather stoic argument. That which happens to the body does you no harm. Only the soul is important and a pure soul cannot be harmed.

I know the whole thing seems barbaric but I have been comforted by several aspects of the story. More so than I have been comforted by the Sermon on the Mount. But maybe that just tells you something about me.


WASHINGTON ( – Last Friday in a special session, Congress passed a bipartisan bill requiring Americans to add Israel’s Star of David to the U.S. flag.

Sen. Dale Wentworth (D-NJ) told reporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:

“The great nation of Israel has real Americanness. In many ways, Israel is already America’s 51st state. Thanks to our foreign aid, Israel’s per capita income rivals our own.”

Citizens who own American flags should proceed to their nearest Post Office to receive their free Star of David patch, which includes a convenient flag-ready VELCRO® backing.
Sen. Wentworth and Rep. Hugh Llewellyn III (R-AL) recently received $25 million in contributions from the Friends of Zionism (FIZ). In response to reporters’ questions, Rep. Llewellyn replied that, unlike the $15 million Presidential candidate Gingrich received from Sheldon Adelson, his money had no strings attached:

“The fact is, Israelis treat Palestinians exactly like we did our American Indians. Israel’s razing of villages, killing innocents, and seizing Palestinian land for their settlers are purely defensive actions. We are trying to deflect international criticism like the disturbing and offensive photo comparison. No one should question the moral authority of the U.S. and Israel.”

GOP nominee Mitt Romney quickly placed calls both to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson to express his “deep and profound pleasure” at the bill’s passage.

Israeli officials have made no comment on the Congressmens’ bill, except to say that the Star of David should be placed above the American flag’s other fifty stars.
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