Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The excellent Sex Offender Research (SOR) site has a March, 8, 2010 report on how Congress is putting up money for the implementation of AWA, to be made available as part of the long-standing Byrne law enforcement grants to States.

It can be no coincidence that Obama recently appeared with John Walsh, the former hotel worker who has become the real-life national ‘Horatio Cane’ (the ‘CSI-Miami’ ubercop played by David Caruso) and promised the viewing audience that he – the President – will see to it that AWA is funded.

As I’ve mentioned in previous Posts, there is a verrrrry strong possibility that as assorted legislative and executive efforts to address the REAL major national problems (the economy and jobs, the increasing list of – unsuccessful – wars) fail, the pols will revert to their handy default mode and distract everybody with the gambit of going after ‘sex offenders’.

Of course, this will mean stoking up ‘fear’ (and where ‘facts don’t matter’ then ‘fear’ will flow in like a sludge-flood to fill up the vacuum). And stoking up fear (and hatred, rational or otherwise – mostly otherwise) has been the gambit-of-choice for pols at least since ‘hating men and patriarchy’ became the Correct national attitude decades ago.

I’m not going for the grandstand or the peanut-gallery here when I say that this is an old and hoary gambit: that German government of 1933-1945 was verrry big on stoking up fear and hatred against the national and cultural ‘others’ – the sub-humans and the lives unworthy-of-life. And that government didn’t invent this: there is a timeless downside to the human capacity to ‘judge’ and pre-judge: if emotions like fear and hate are not tempered by rational assessment, then terribly damaging public stampedes can (and probably will) result.

That 1933-1945 government’s contribution was simply to organize it on an industrial, nation-wide scale, placing behind it the full weight and power of a modern government’s ability to manipulate and control public information and consequently public opinion.

So, as I’ve said before, the US didn’t just take the rockets, the blitzkrieg strategy, and the shape of the military helmets as spoils of war in 1945. It took the propaganda playbook of the suddenly-late Dr. Goebbels as well. (But – of course – being the US, the plays would only be run in ‘good’ causes. Yah.)

So now Obama – finding himself in his present unenviable political position – has put himself behind the AWA and all its pomps and all its works. Facts may not matter, votes do. So a sound-bite session with Mr. Walsh might garner a few, and nowadays that’s pretty much all the game’s about.

Think of it, I guess, as a ‘surge’ that will bring ultimate victory.

Although how you will get to a ‘zero-risk’ situation where ‘sex offenders’ will never be able to commit another offense seems as difficult a question as how a few thousand more boots on the ground are going to turn Afghanistan into a model democracy reliably allied to the US.

But that’s the ‘dream’ (to borrow Teddy K’s favorite trope; which in matters of foreign policy he shared with the neocons). And nowadays, with reality becoming increasingly worrisome and unpleasant to contemplate, ‘dreaming’ seems like a lot more fun thing to do. Which, if memory serves, was the Flower Children’s favorite excuse for cutting classes, going to San Francisco, toking up a fogbank of dope, and making love in the park in the afternoon. What was not to like?

How you will stamp out the human weakness or malice (it used to be called 'Sin') that causes crime is anybody's guess. And for that matter, why only this kind of weakness-malice-Sin? Murderers, bank-robbers, financial whizzes with their Ponzi schemes for easy enrichment, even treacherous liars who wheedle the country into frakkulous wars ... can any government stamp any of that out? Would it even want to try?

But 'sex offenders' are ... well, 'sex offenders' - as if that bit of circular reasoning means anything.

The SOR site also provides the relevant snippets from the assorted general funding bills. Over 2 billion dollars (as that term may be defined these days) is going to the States in Byrne money.

However, there are a lot of other special interest kitties looking for that cream, as you can see in the text of the assorted Bills. And that’s before you get to the amounts of money necessary to pay police officers for getting extra education and departments buying equipment and so forth.

So just how much of all that money will wind up in the AWA bowl is another question.

But this is clearly a Beltway effort to blunt the greatest objection the States have raised to implementing AWA: it’s going to cost them a lot of money and constitutes – that dangerous term that warns the Beltway it’s gone too far – an “unfunded mandate”. So the Beltway will now add ‘funds’ to sweeten the pot and gild the philosophic pill, as it were.

Understandably, the States have not made quite so much of a point about the inefficiency and downright uselessness of the whole SORN concept. After all, who wants to come right out and say that the plan – and perhaps the Emperor – has no clothes?

The whole Beltway game-plan for decades has been an exercise in simply getting folks to either imagine that the Emperor-Beltway has lots of nice clothes on, or at least to keep their un-Correct and 'negative' thoughts to themselves.

Will it work?

Stay tuned, sportsfans.

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