Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Monsters of the Week

One man destroyed bodies, the other man destroyed souls. One was a marginalized loser, the other a powerful Hollywood mogul. But despite their  class difference, the sagas of Devin Kelley and Harvey Weinstein are eerily similar. That's because the institutions tasked with protecting the public from their extreme criminal predatory behavior were not only useless, they were complicit.

Kelley, who gunned down 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday, had once broken the skull of his toddler stepson, a felony for which he spent only one year in a military brig after pleading guilty in a court martial. And when he was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force, his superiors forgot to add his name to a national database which supposedly prevents dangerous people from purchasing firearms.

 It's also just come to light that he had escaped from a mental hospital after threatening his superiors. If Kelley's history of abuse didn't raise about a hundred red flags, what ever will? The system itself is incurably and incredibly sick. How did he pass mental screening tests to get into the armed services in the first place? 

For a clue, read "Irregular Army," in which Matt Kennard outlines how troubled young men, even gang members and neo-Nazis and convicted criminals, are increasingly being accepted by the Pentagon for training on how to handle lethal weapons and how to become expert sharpshooters and snipers. Some of them become recruiters themselves. Standards for basic intelligence and body weight also went out the window during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Meanwhile, just when you thought the story of serial rapist Harvey Weinstein couldn't get any worse, it just got much worse. Women who threatened to spill the beans on his criminal behavior were victimized a second time when Weinstein sicced lawyers and former Mossad agents as silencing or threatening tools. His operatives even pretended to be women's rights advocates as part of the ploy to importune victims and misdirect reporters to a "preferred narrative."  When that pretext wasn't feasible, he just went at it the old-fashioned authoritarian way: he paid spies to investigate and intimidate the journalists who were writing the stories.

David Boies, the celebrity lawyer who argued for marriage equality before the Supreme Court and who represented Al Gore in the 2000 contested presidential election recount case, drew up the contracts allowing for the dirty tricks and abuse. This ruling class racketeer also possibly violated both professional ethics and the law because he represented Weinstein at the same time he was on retainer for the New York Times, which broke the original stories on his long history of sexual abuse.

Despite all the horror, it is somewhat refreshing that, as Donald Trump marks his first year turning the US presidency into an international joke, the military-industrial-entertainment complex itself seems to be falling apart like a house of cards. (Here's looking at you, too, Kevin Spacey!)

Donna Brazile blew the whistle on the corrupt inner workings of the Clinton machine and the Democratic Party. A global consortium of investigative reporters has lifted a lid on the Paradise Papers, which detail how the world's wealthiest people hide their money from the tax collector. And that's only in the past week. Maybe there's still some room, after all, for truth and justice in the all-American way.

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