Tuesday, June 29, 2004

America's Fluffiest Sheriff

Phoenix New Times | County lawmen boffing hookers

No matter where you live in the United States, it is possible you have heard of our local Barney Fife, Joe Arpaio. He always seemed something of a blow hard to me, but shortly after taking over duties as sheriff he revealed himself to be dangerous, too.

As anyone who remembers their high school government class can tell you, county jails are generally filled with people awaiting trial -- that is, innocent until proven guilty.

Given that quaint notion, one might find it disturbing to hear such people are getting killed from beatings and suffocation.

But not in Arizona.

True to the spirit of a "red" state, despite ten years of idiot publicity stunts, false arrests, and negligent homicides in our county jails, most Arizona residents loved Joe Arpaio. He's had 70% approval rating or better among Republicans, and a healthy majority of Democrats as well.

Our muckraking paper, the Phoenix New Times, has documented all the abuse to no avail.

Until now.

Republicans have abandoned poor ol' Joe and taking a stand against the deaths in his jail. Have the Republicans been shamed by the Abu Graib prison scandal? Or was it admitting that American citizens awaiting a fair trial have been killed by overzealous thugs in the name of publicity for their media whoring boss?

No. Joe's unforgivable crime was defending Janet Napolitano (our gov and a Democrat) against false charges leveled against her by the Republican opponent in the race for governor.

So, losing multimillion dollar lawsuits over inmate deaths doesn't sway Republicans, but someone who dares sway from the rigid right-wing party line paints a target on their forehead.

While I commend the Republican Party for their belated, albeit cynical, defense of basic human rights for American citizens; I have some bad news.

This is still Arizona, after all. I predict the Joe publicity machine will handily win re-election. Hell, I have co-workers who gleefully trumpet the jail deaths as the number one reason TO vote for Joe.

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