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Conflict of Interests
December 11, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

The feud between renegade Sheriff Joe Arpaio prev 1 2 3 and local officals is exploding. He has now indicted one judge who ruled against him (for obstruction of justice), and got a warrant to search the office and home of another.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals freed (pending appeal) the sheriff's deputy who grabbed a defense lawyer's privileged papers literally behind her back, and blocked that search warrant on the judge, also pending appeal.

Overview, from Talking Points Memo.
The indictment of highly respected judge Gary Donahoe caused the cancellation of a hearing that was considering whether to limit the power of Arpaio and his ally, County Prosecutor Andrew Thomas, to prosecute local officials. Arpaio and Donahoe now argue that Judge Donahoe, who has ruled against them in other cases, has a conflict of interest in cases involving them because of their indictment.

Thomas and Arpaio also filed a federal racketeering lawsuit last week alleging that the County Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County -- the nation's 4th largest, centered around Phoenix -- the presiding judge and several others are involved in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. Here's a report by Phoenix's ABC affiliate, which supports the two. (warning: loud audio)

Reports say that the FBI is investigating Arpaio for retaliating against political opponents.
posted by msalt (107 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Suburban voters that happily slurp his shit down and reelect the bastard are the ones that need to wake up and vote his ass out so the county judges can do their job and put him in a pink suit in Tent City.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Obviously I always think it would be better if the A-Team showed up, but in this case I really think it's necessary.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2009 [37 favorites]


The "Talking Points Memo" link seems to go to the first link.
posted by brundlefly at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2009


Fascists being fascists. God damn I hate that man. Don't forget when he arrested newspaper exec's who criticized him.
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:07 PM on December 11, 2009


Suburban voters that happily slurp his shit down and reelect the bastard are the ones that need to wake up and vote his ass out so the county judges can do their job and put him in a pink suit in Tent City. Christ, what an asshole.

FTFY
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:08 PM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.

Sorry. I just can't to make a prediciton and not have it come true.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:09 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD AND MY MEDDLING WAS UNNEEDED!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Arresting judges for obstruction of justice when they rule against him?

Seriously?

How does he think a federal court judge is going to feel about that if this ever ends up on their desk?
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like to sat that this guy ending up in a Maricopa County prison on some abuse-of-power charge would be a fitting end to the story, but the whole situation is really just too depressing.
posted by Oxydude at 1:11 PM on December 11, 2009


The TPM link is http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/12/totally_totally_nuts.php?ref=fpblg
posted by aught at 1:12 PM on December 11, 2009


I vote to leave Sheriff Joe off our asteroid spaceship.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:13 PM on December 11, 2009 [20 favorites]


He wouold do much better if he deputized Lou Dobbs to work alongside of him. This would be great for New Jersey, where Dobbs lives and plans to become president or even something more important.
posted by Postroad at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2009


It just goes to show, those Afghans can't handle democracy... hold on, I'm getting an update from my producer.
Ladies and gentlemen, my apologies. I saw the story and assumed it took place in Kabul
posted by atrazine at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2009 [11 favorites]


He has now indicted one judge who ruled against him (for obstruction of justice), and got a warrant to search the office and home of another.

Um, that is a Civil Complaint requesting damages. I'm not aware of any laws that make a local Sheriff qualified as a Federal DA.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:18 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of shocked Orly Taitz isn't involved with this, that's how whack the situation seems.
posted by edgeways at 1:22 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


He is also the guy that used a law designed to prosecute human smugglers to arrest and jail illegal immigrants . . . for smuggling themselves.
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:23 PM on December 11, 2009


Like a rabid dog, cornered and lashing out wildly without concern for its safety, determined only to do what damage it can and extend its existence just a bit further, Arpaio can smell his end coming.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:24 PM on December 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


Nice to see the Exejutative Branch in action.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:25 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Like a dog chasing his tail, Arpaio can smell his end going.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:27 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of shocked Orly Taitz isn't involved with this, that's how whack the situation seems.

Where is Joe Arpaio's REAL birth certificate? How do we know he isn't screaming so loud to deflect attention from his own illegal immigration? Doesn't he know that pink is just another shade of red? Red like the SOCIALISTS!
posted by Saydur at 1:28 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's just a whole lot of crazy.
posted by rtha at 1:29 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If this is accurate, the US Attorney's Office may be about to get involved.
posted by zamboni at 1:29 PM on December 11, 2009


The great thing about this is, his arrogance has clouded his judgement. He will take this to higher courts, fightfightfight in all directions, broader and higher, until he is stripped of his power, and invariably ends up spending his time yelling at his television as he sips beer and scowls. At the very least. It would not surprise me if he eludes any real jail time. Losing his badge? Very probable.

I just love it when the power mad kick their towers out from under them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:30 PM on December 11, 2009


I suspect that he'll get his just rewards when he is put into prison with those he's cruelly imprisoned himself.
posted by localhuman at 1:31 PM on December 11, 2009


I just love it when the power mad kick their towers out from under them.

He's not so much power mad as just plain crazy.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2009


Other than the sunsets and my mom, the only thing I miss about living in Arizona is casting a vote for whomever is running against this assclown.
posted by padraigin at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Here is the complaint.

As you can see from the Docket number: 2:09-cv-02492-GMS and this explaination of Docket abbreviations in the US Dist AZ, this is a CIVIL case not a criminal indictment, despite what the local media may be reporting.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:35 PM on December 11, 2009


As you can see from the Docket number: 2:09-cv-02492-GMS and this explaination of Docket abbreviations in the US Dist AZ, this is a CIVIL case not a criminal indictment, despite what the local media may be reporting.

I'm surprised and a little in awe that the local media dares report anything about Arpaio that isn't sherriff's office propaganda.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:39 PM on December 11, 2009


I know someone who works (worked? dunno if they're still there) in the Maricopa Sheriff's office. I haven't heard anything lately. I ought to check in and see what's going on there. It would be interesting to hear an insider's perspective, if they're even allowed to say anything.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:41 PM on December 11, 2009


Pollomacho: “Um, that is a Civil Complaint requesting damages. I'm not aware of any laws that make a local Sheriff qualified as a Federal DA.”

No - it's a criminal complaint. And I don't know where you get the 'damages' bit; there's not a thing about requesting damages in the complaint, which accuses the judge of hindering prosecution, obstructing justice, and bribery.

You point, however, stands; a sheriff can't really single-handedly indict somebody. Well, this guy seems crazy enough to try, but oddly enough he hasn't yet.
posted by koeselitz at 1:41 PM on December 11, 2009


Just out of general curiosity: even if this is a civil case, would filing a lawsuit as seemingly frivolous as this land him in any sort of short future to his employment?

Either way, the pattern of behavior from this guy makes it pretty plain that it's only a matter of time before he goes too far and loses it all. He's not exactly the savviest character.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:42 PM on December 11, 2009


Come now. Arpaio and Thomas go to all this trouble to expose the true corruption in Maricopa and you're saying they're the problem?

/sarcasm.
posted by sandraregina at 1:43 PM on December 11, 2009


Ah - I see. So the ABC story linked above is incorrect - this is a civil, not a criminal, complaint.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Two cases: a federal civil racketeering lawsuit filed last week against many for conspiracy, and a specific criminal indictment against Judge Donahoe for bribery and obstruction of justice.

The bribe is apparently the new (hence better) office that Judge Donahoe will get inthe new office building Arpaio opposes.
posted by msalt at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2009


Marisa, I assume law enforcement in Arizona and in the surrounding area are keeping close tabs on all of this. I think that the publicity, more than the lawsuit, will probably hurt his exit options.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2009


there's not a thing about requesting damages in the complaint

Page 18: Prayer for Relief

No - it's a criminal complaint

No, it's a Civil complaint, see above. This one cites criminal statutes as reasons why the sheriff is owed damages and alleges that criminal worngdoing has taken place, but it is not a criminal complaint filed with the grand jury. See also the last line where it says "pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure"
posted by Pollomacho at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2009


localhuman: I suspect that he'll get his just rewards when he is put into prison with those he's cruelly imprisoned himself.

Vengeance and justice aren't the same thing; I'd argue that they are opposites.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:52 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can't wait for someone to throw him under the armored personnel carrier.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:56 PM on December 11, 2009


This guy should be on the asteroid.
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2009


shakespeherian I definitely agree. I should've worded my statement more carefully. I meant simply to say this : what goes around comes around.
posted by localhuman at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2009


Vengeance and justice aren't the same thing; I'd argue that they are opposites.

An EC Comics style ironic ending might be our best hope here.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also is there some way we can get Lou Dobbs involved?
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on December 11, 2009


The real joke is that the bad guys want illegal immigrants as cheap workers to depress the labor market: They just count on assholes like Arpaio to go after them and keep them marginalized as possible. Hard to walk off the job when the alternative is Tent City.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:05 PM on December 11, 2009


Timeline of the events so far.
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


This may sound stupid, but does anyone think this problem is related to the fact this sheriff was elected, instead of appointed, or raining through police ranks?

Personally, I want the people that police wherever I live to have gone though police training and all that jazz, instead of just being some dude that likes guns and putting people in jail -- just because it strikes me that being a cop should not be about liking guns and putting people in jail.

Same applies to judges. I remember reading in the NYTimes a while back about how in some small communities in NY state judges don't have to have any legal qualifications. They went on to list all these crazy stories about judges who would pretty much do whatever they wanted.

Sounds like this douche sheriff pretty much fits into that mold of someone given powers for which they are not qualified, and there is not enough recourse to take those powers away quickly.

Or is it elitist of me to expect people be, you know, qualified for what they do?
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 2:06 PM on December 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


In other crazy (northern) border news for some reason Peter Watts just had the shit kicked out of him by border guards on the US/Canada border.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on December 11, 2009


This elected Sheriff thing, is that everywhere in the US? How does it not usually result in crazy abuse of power?
posted by Artw at 2:08 PM on December 11, 2009


I'm out of order?


NO! YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:09 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a good question, TheyCallitPeace. Jello Biafra once proffered the idea of policemen, all the way down to the beat cop, having to run for election. I can see the appeal in this, in that our law enforcement officials should be people close enough to the community to be liked by us, or at least publicly known figures. That doesn't necessarily preclude having to have qualifications, though. There are often qualifications in place for elected offices.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:09 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is kind of hating-on-democracy-and-the-will-of-the-people day for me, but has Jello Biafra actually paid attention to the kinds of people that tend to win elections?
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd prefer law enforcement officials that can be actually voted out of their positions of power, rather than ones hired/appointed until they're sued out of office for gross misconduct. But to each their own, I guess.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2009


You non-Arizonans have no idea how insane it is here. For every major story you hear about in the media, there are multiple others that only hit local news. In a twisted way I am sort of heartened by the escalation of insanity, if only because I hope it will bring everything to a boil and bring him down.
posted by mattholomew at 2:15 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tough-on-Crime Veteran Prosecutor Scoffs at Thomas/Arpaio "Case" Against Judge Donahoe
"...'We were reading the complaint here in the office yesterday. I guess, unfortunately, most folks outside the justice system don't understand, first, how incredibly unprofessional the probable cause statement is; second, how petulant it sounds, especially with respect to the issue of transporting in custody defendants; and, finally, how this [probable cause] statement doesn't support their charges. It is astounding that the State Bar hasn't moved against Thomas for his actions in the past, but this is such outrageous conduct, something has to be done. To think that these two have some realistic chance at Attorney General and Governor is absolutely scary.'"
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyone here have the feeling this is going to escalate to Arpaio going completely megalomaniacally apeshit with his armored personnel carrier, declaring himself President or something ridiculous?

It would be almost disappointing if he just got arrested.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:19 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyone here have the feeling this is going to escalate to Arpaio going completely megalomaniacally apeshit with his armored personnel carrier, declaring himself President or something ridiculous?

It would be almost disappointing if he just got arrested.


Man that would be awesome. He builds an electrical fence around a large patch of desert, raises a tent and a black flag bearing the likeness of his face with the words "JUSTICE" written underneath, and declares secession from the United States. A few days later, he ends up dragged out of his tent in a pair of boxers and cowboy boots, in handcuffs, shouting incoherently and sobbing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:30 PM on December 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


For some reason Arpaio strikes me as an "end with a whimper" type.
posted by Decimask at 2:30 PM on December 11, 2009


Useless, power-drunk piece of dung with the ethics of a Klansman, neatly encapsulating everything that's wrong with America in one meat sack.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:32 PM on December 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


I predict that he, a blond secretary he has just married and a German Shepherd will die in Der Sheriffbunker from a combination of cyanide and self-administered bullets as American forces roll into Phoenix.
posted by codswallop at 2:53 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Every few years I vote for anyone but him and yet he still keeps getting elected. It makes me frightened of my neighbors. Every few years, I think the latest scandal surrounding Sheriff Joe is going to bring him down and yet he stays in office. It makes me frightened for my neighbors.

For a few years, he was the boss of my mother's boss. The stories...! He's a whole herd of crazy and I'm dumbfounded that he even has a job. But this is Arizona.
posted by _paegan_ at 2:55 PM on December 11, 2009


You can't tease with stories and not tell.
posted by subbes at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


our law enforcement officials should be people close enough to the community to be liked by us, or at least publicly known figures

The problem is that beyond 150 people (give or take), groups are less connected. Beyond that, the connections get flimsy. "He seems like a good guy" could be enough to get someone elected.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:06 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


subbes: "You can't tease with stories and not tell."

Especially with that user name.
posted by boo_radley at 3:10 PM on December 11, 2009


har, which is _paegan_ and not _paean_ as I first read it.
posted by boo_radley at 3:11 PM on December 11, 2009


The problem is that beyond 150 people (give or take), groups are less connected. Beyond that, the connections get flimsy. "He seems like a good guy" could be enough to get someone elected.

True enough, but I still maintain that being able to vote an official with power out of office is a whole lot better, to my mind, then having to hope and pray someone fires him. Just look at the wall of silence ordinary policemen put up when one of their own is accused of wrongdoing. Imagine you could vote the abusives ones out, and vote the clean ones in. That sounds a whole lot better to me. The fact that this particular brand of nutjob is still in power might be due to the incumbent effect, I don't know. I would hate to think the majority of Maricopa County, Arizona are crazy people. But I think Sheriff Joe is pretty much digging his own grave at this point. It's a new DOJ, and the pile of populist bullshit he's stacking up is going to topple on top of him sooner or later.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2009


MarisaSTPT, as a former resident of Maricopa County, I assure you that the majority of folk there are indeed fucking crazy. Especially the ones over thirty.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:24 PM on December 11, 2009


With regard to the the question of whether this is a civil or criminal complaint, the linked PDF of a complaint is definitely a complaint for a civil action. It's a civil action in Federal court for violation of the RICO statute which names Judge Donahoe as a defendant.

From this it seems that the civil RICO action was filed last week, and when the judge did not recuse himself from a hearing that was scheduled (which Arpaio says he should have done because of the RICO action) charges were filed against the judge. Technically, the charges were filed by Thomas, the county attorney, but Arpaio obviously seems to be calling the shots.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:13 PM on December 11, 2009


MStPT, why not have a public oversight committee? When you rely on the wisdom of crowds, you get... well, Arpaio.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:42 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd prefer law enforcement officials that can be actually voted out of their positions of power

Not me. Division of powers -- we already have legislators who pass laws. Police are executive -- their job is to enforce the laws, whatever they are, whether they like them or not, whether they are popular or not.

Crime more than any other issue is ripe for demagoguery and persecuting unpopular minorities. Police and prosecutors more than any other job have the power to harass political opponents. This is the last job we should be politicizing, and this guy is a perfect example of why.
posted by msalt at 4:50 PM on December 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


When you rely on the wisdom of crowds, you get... well, Arpaio.

The "wisdom of the crowds" is probably the best form of government in the world. That it doesn't bat a thousand doesn't mean we should scrap it when it comes to who we allow to govern us, whether they create laws, interpret laws, or enforce laws.

That said, the position of "sheriff" is pretty weird and antiquated as it is. It's like, you're a cop, but you hold an incredible amount of power over several communities. It's a bizarre gray area that lends itself to all kinds of abuse. I think the job description itself needs a re-working.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:50 PM on December 11, 2009


Crime more than any other issue is ripe for demagoguery and persecuting unpopular minorities. Police and prosecutors more than any other job have the power to harass political opponents.

A fair enough point. Maybe what I'm more hoping for here is greater power from the citizenry to be able to keep corrupt police out of power once they've crossed a line. It's not something I have completely hashed out in my head, apparently, but I do know the current system of expecting cops to testify about each other in an honest manner isn't working all that great.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:54 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I vote against Arpaio in every election. But the problem in Arizona that we face, sadly, is one that we seldom want to admit. Namely, that Arpaio's behavior is actually representative of the democratic voting majority's wishes here.

If the majority of voters didn't approve of this thug, he wouldn't be in office. The problem is bigger than Arpaio and Thomas. It's that a large part of our citizenry embrace a thuggish mentality, as long as it supports their own prejudices.
posted by darkstar at 5:05 PM on December 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


Marisa: Agreed. I'm actually an outspoken fan of old-fashioned professionalism, where you have a combination of high standards, strict self-enforcement, and a mechanism where public complaints are fully investigated and enforced.

Obviously, police culture is seriously screwed up with the "circle the wagons" mentality, where they defend each other no matter how bad or dishonorable their actions are, so it wouldn't work well for them. I wish they had more honor, frankly.
posted by msalt at 5:13 PM on December 11, 2009


Not just police culture, there's a fair number of non-cops who will leap to defend them on almost anything.
posted by Artw at 5:15 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


This guy is another reason I think Stephen King is a prophet.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:47 PM on December 11, 2009


I was a little surprised that the (excellent) FPP did not include this longish New Times overview, with its plaintive questions about why this seems to be such a low priority on th DoJ's agenda. After listening to the tape referenced therein (of former electoral challenger to Arpaio being told he was fined and forbidden to seek office again for 5 years), I felt like I'd stumbled into some unreleased Coen Brothers movie. WTF.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:07 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there anyone us non-Phoenix people can donate to who opposes this clown?
posted by miyabo at 8:22 PM on December 11, 2009


The "wisdom of the crowds" is probably the best form of government in the world.

I really think we are seeing the limitations of free democracy, as evidenced by the US electing Bush twice to utterly destroy the country.

Australia probably has the best implementation of what you dream to be "the best form of government in the world": mandatory voting and, IIRC, a progressive counting system. And look at the douchebags and utter dicks they end up with running their country!

No, it turns out there are far too many lazy and ignorant voters out there for "wisdom of crowds" to succeed. A half-watt voter and a half-watt voter makes for a quarter-watt of a clue and a disastrous war, ruined economy, escalating national violence, and the ruination of the country.

We need more public oversight with accurate representation of all interested parties. We need more consideration for sustainability, equality of citizens, and opportunity for all. "Wisdom of the crowds" has failed us by every measure.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 PM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like Joe is well on his way to a comfortable retirement and a lucrative second career hosting his own conservative radio talk-show.
posted by xthlc at 9:18 PM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


We need more public oversight with accurate representation of all interested parties. We need more consideration for sustainability, equality of citizens, and opportunity for all. "Wisdom of the crowds" has failed us by every measure.

Not entirely sure authoritarianism is a such great idea. What if people you don't like up at the levers of power, unaccountable to anyone?

/don't put me in a death camp, bro
posted by codswallop at 9:43 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


[rolls eyes]

Yes, the likes of the ADA/Safety Compliance Committee, Public Works Department, and State Ombudsman are going to kill you in a concentration camp!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 PM on December 11, 2009


What if people you don't like up at the levers of power, unaccountable to anyone?

You mean like Joe Arpaio?

Three foxes and a hen is every bit as authoritarian as Fidel Castro.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:19 PM on December 11, 2009


I find it kind of awe-inspiring that we (I live in Arizona) have such a corrupt, evil, and downright disgusting sheriff here in Maricopa that people across the entire United States. If you asked me to name one other sheriff ANYWHERE else, I wouldn't be able to. I don't think that's because I'm misinformed. I just one the anti-award for Biggest Prick Sheriff in the US.

(Hope that comment doesn't land me in tent city)
posted by Bageena at 10:59 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Australia probably has the best implementation of what you dream to be "the best form of government in the world": mandatory voting and, IIRC, a progressive counting system.

Then again, excessive alcohol + excessive macho; not really a winning combination.
posted by msalt at 11:03 PM on December 11, 2009


Does the creeping evil of Murdoch extend to home territory?
posted by Artw at 11:17 PM on December 11, 2009


LA Times: Arizona sheriff ups the ante against his foes
posted by msalt at 12:15 AM on December 12, 2009


I wonder if anybody who`s ever actually had to deal with the business end of this guy`s policy thinks he`s doing a good job
posted by tehloki at 1:19 AM on December 12, 2009


Mrs. Pterodactyl Obviously I always think it would be better if the A-Team showed up, but in this case I really think it's necessary.

Wrong show. It's the Duke Brothers who are his natural enemies.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:36 AM on December 12, 2009


I'd love to see this prick rocketed to the sun as much as anyone else, but I also really am nervous about the intrusion of the Feds into this problem, if only because I know exactly how this will be spun by Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, etc. Namely, how the Obama administration has declared war against tough-on-crime true-Patriots like Sheriff Joe, in favor of illegals who sneak over the border to rape and kill law-abiding Americans.

You absolutely know, the moment the Feds make a move against Arpaio, that's how the spin is going to go, regardless of whether Obama has even heard of the guy. Thus will begin the derail of the issue.

The other thing bouncing-around in my head is, even if Arpaio is successfully prosecuted and sent away, there isn't a jail anywhere in this nation (local, state or federal) where he won't be treated like a king by the guards and staff. Sure, he'll be behind bars...in a velvet-lined box.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:10 AM on December 12, 2009


I was a little surprised that the (excellent) FPP did not include this longish New Times overview,

That is one of the most astonishing things I've ever read; this really needs to be made into a documentary. I'm finding it hard to believe that so far the sheriff and his crony, the county prosecutor, have been unimpeded in their shenanigans. Somebody has dropped the ball badly and I need these two to get stomped on (metaphysically!) right now.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:18 AM on December 12, 2009


No, it turns out there are far too many lazy and ignorant voters out there for "wisdom of crowds" to succeed. A half-watt voter and a half-watt voter makes for a quarter-watt of a clue and a disastrous war, ruined economy, escalating national violence, and the ruination of the country.

Yeah, so what's the alternative? A council of enlightened philosopher kings? Because this:

We need more public oversight with accurate representation of all interested parties. We need more consideration for sustainability, equality of citizens, and opportunity for all.

Sounds incredibly vague. I agree with all these principles, but making democracy work doesn't just mean opening up the voting booths, if that's the impression I gave. It means getting out there and educating people on the issues. It means motivating them to vote, and when the ballot boxes are collected, to stay in constant contact with their elected representatives. That's how you combat "lazy and ignorant voters" - you outnumber them.

That Bush wasn't elected twice wasn't a failure of democracy; it was a failure of how people use democracy. Like it or not, giving everyone the right to vote is the closest you're going to get to a free and egalitarian society.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:32 AM on December 12, 2009


... that Bush was elected twice ...
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:33 AM on December 12, 2009


I also really am nervous about the intrusion of the Feds into this problem, if only because I know exactly how this will be spun by Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, etc. Namely, how the Obama administration has declared war against tough-on-crime true-Patriots like Sheriff Joe, in favor of illegals who sneak over the border to rape and kill law-abiding Americans.

It doesn't matter, because even if Obama defended Arpaio from the feds and personally went to Arizona to beat the shit out of some particularly swarthy Messicans while singing the Star Spangled Banner and praising Jesus, Fox would still spin it as war against tough-on-crime-true-Patriots etc.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:35 AM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, that's my thing- Obama's going to be Satan Incarnate anyway, so he might as well do whatever he wants.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 AM on December 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


that Bush was elected twice

To be fair, if we're talking will of the people, popular vote stuff here, George Bush was elected once.
posted by naoko at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2009


If the majority of voters didn't approve of this thug, he wouldn't be in office. The problem is bigger than Arpaio and Thomas. It's that a large part of our citizenry embrace a thuggish mentality, as long as it supports their own prejudices.

Yes, but it appears there is a feedback loop. The citizens elect a crazy reactionary guy for sheriff because they like what he represents, and then he takes it up a notch and completely flouts any authority but his own, and the culture shifts to defend him. Gradually, general opinions shift in his favor, even though his views were probably a bit more extreme than the people who voted for him. This is also what's happening to the Republican Party, though as a result the party has declined considerably, because they passed the breaking point for mainstream acceptance. In the case of local politicians who are integrated in the community, the breaking point may take a while to arrive, if ever, but I do believe Arpaio's days are now numbered.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:26 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


That Bush wasn't elected twice wasn't a failure of democracy; it was a failure of how people use democracy. Like it or not, giving everyone the right to vote is the closest you're going to get to a free and egalitarian society.

I don't agree with your last sentence. I think it's too early to make such blanket statements, when egalitarianism has only been in effect for a few centuries, and we are still very much class-based and rife with undue influence and corruption. I think we'll eventually arrive at some different conclusions about the whole thing. For now, however, yes, democracy and voting is the best we have, though direct democracy will often produce unpredictable and/or heavily populist results (e.g., California's referendums).
posted by krinklyfig at 11:30 PM on December 12, 2009


Vengeance and justice aren't the same thing

That's true of course. But I'd say there is very little that is just about the American penal system. Really it's all about being punitive.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:48 AM on December 13, 2009


For now, however, yes, democracy and voting is the best we have, though direct democracy will often produce unpredictable and/or heavily populist results (e.g., California's referendums).

That'll happen, sure. Democracy brought us Bush Jr. and Nixon, but it also brought us FDR, Carter and Obama. It created the California referendums, but also Massachusetts' gay marriage laws. How it'll all come out in the wash, I have no idea. You get a mixed bag of results, and you're never going to have the populace 100% happy with every law. I just have this maybe antiquated notion that citizens should be in charge of their own destinies and control how their society is shaped. For now, as you said, democracy and voting is the best we have.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:10 AM on December 13, 2009


The article that anigbrowl linked to actually bugs me in several ways -- it's horribly overwritten, invoking Hannah Arendt, Eichman, the Intifada and gratuitous Norman Mailer. Not to mention that attacking Barack Obama as the "Pink Negro" and an "entitled private-school graduate" is wrong on dozens of levels.

BUT: there are some facts in there that are astonishing. At one county supervisors meeting, sheriff's deputies arrested five spectators for applauding a critic of Arpaio. (Charges were later dismissed, and Arpaio ordered to pay their legal fees.) When another critic was invited to the podium by the head of the Board of Supervisors, deputy Acritelli arrested her, saying "You're not speaking. You're leaving."

And that audiotape of sheriff's deputies speaks for itself.
posted by msalt at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2009


I just want to say I live in Arizona and it sucks HARD. There's at least one new story in the local New Times every week on something disgusting that Arpaio or his henchmen have done, like stomping a dog to death or killing mentally disabled people while they're under police custody.

Just one more reason I hate living in Phoenix.
posted by Bageena at 7:11 PM on December 13, 2009


Weird that I haven't seen this linked here yet: a profile of Arpaio from Harper's in 2001 that described him as a nutcase but somehow still insanely likeable.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:50 AM on December 14, 2009


Arpaio came across as an affable, yet crazy old racist bastard on The Colbert Report.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:14 AM on December 14, 2009


often produce unpredictable and/or heavily populist results (e.g., California's referendums).
That'll happen, sure. Democracy brought us Bush Jr. and Nixon, but it also brought us FDR, Carter and Obama. It created the California referendums, but also Massachusetts' gay marriage laws.


Democracy isn't how Canada solved the problem of making "equality" mean what it's supposed to mean. Left up to the masses, we still wouldn't have gay marriage today: people are selfish, stupid, and mean.

Our judges — not democratically elected, unlike the US, and therefore not kowtowing to the whims of the assholic public — determined that under our laws, it is illegal to discriminate against gay couples by denying them the rights and responsibilities of full marriage.

In the end, Canada has gay marriage because our justice system ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage between couples. The government fussed and stonewalled, but in the end the dipships we elect were forced to accept the law.

If Canada had elected judges, or if Canada had put it to referendum, we would not have gay marriages at this time.

Populism is no substitute for careful, rational interpretation of law.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Our judges — not democratically elected, unlike the US, and therefore not kowtowing to the whims of the assholic public —

Not all US judges are elected. Federal judges are appointed.

Also, I never claimed that straight-up direct democracy was the way to go, although that appears to be what you think I believe. I realize there are checks and balances and all those fine things. See any of the threads on here with regards to the civil rights movement, "states rights" and what not. I'm on the record advocating that there is a such thing as governing principles that sometimes can and must override the wishes of the local electorate.

When you spoke against the "wisdom of the masses" in this thread, I assumed this meant you had an alternative to democracy. As it turns out, no, you just prefer there to be balance, fairness and impartiality with regards to the government.

In short, we're in agreement.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2009


I just have this maybe antiquated notion that citizens should be in charge of their own destinies and control how their society is shaped. For now, as you said, democracy and voting is the best we have.

Don't get me wrong. Politically, at this point in history, I think that's the starting point from which we should base our policies, but I was speaking a bit theoretically. I think it's important to remember that all this will probably look quaint one day.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:00 AM on December 15, 2009


Populism is no substitute for careful, rational interpretation of law.

Yeah, that's a good point, and that's what I was trying to get at, if in a meandering way.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:01 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nightline special on Arpaio

"My officers did the right thing," Joe responds. "They had no criminal liability."
"Where is the crushed larynx of the dead man?" presses Bashir.
"I have no idea," says Joe, squirming in his seat.

Re: prostitution raid, dropped by the then-County Prosecutor because of deputies' sex with the arrestees.

"They were naked because I allowed them to take their clothes off to develop the cases," claims Joe. "That's not unusual in this country."
posted by msalt at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2009


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