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Useful Idiots

How does Sheriff Joe Arpaio get away — metaphorically speaking — with murder? With the assistance of useful idiots in the Fourth Estate, as this P.O.d parakeet has witnessed time and time again. Whether he's deputizing Spider-Man, throwing some imbecilic Inmate Idle competition or making the asinine suggestion that Paris...
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How does Sheriff Joe Arpaio get away — metaphorically speaking — with murder?

With the assistance of useful idiots in the Fourth Estate, as this P.O.d parakeet has witnessed time and time again.

Whether he's deputizing Spider-Man, throwing some imbecilic Inmate Idle competition or making the asinine suggestion that Paris Hilton serve her DUI time in Tent City, our chief constable forever plays the fool, reeling in media morons for the sheer spectacle of his lame-ass antics. All while gleefully dancing on his victims' graves.

On May 11, a federal jury decided in his favor in a lawsuit brought by the parents of Phillip Wilson, an inmate who, while serving a two-month stint in Tent City for a parole violation, was beaten bloody by members of the Aryan Brotherhood (a.k.a., the Woods) in 2003 and later died in a coma. Joe declared it a "great victory," in his subsequent news conference.

"So this is all hype about these tents, about my jail system," squawked Sheriff Joke. "It's hype by the press, by certain lawyers who want to destroy this sheriff."

Joe was referring to attorneys like Mike Manning, who repped Wilson's parents in court, and who's won multimillion-dollar cases on the behalf of others who've been killed in Joe's gulags.

"It's astounding to see someone celebrate so joyously about the death of someone who was in his care and custody," Manning told The Bird. "Litigation and adversarial relationships aside, what kind of man celebrates that?"

The lowest of the low.

Manning's sworn to push for a new trial, arguing that the overwhelming evidence is counter to the outcome. Manning also noted that the five men who attacked Wilson were never punished for their dastardly deed and were returned to Tent City's general population by Joe's minions.

The inmate who ordered the killing has since died. But the other men live, and they've never been brought to trial. Some crime fighter that Joe, eh?

There but for the grace of that Big Bird in the Sky goes you, your daughter or your son. Wilson had been popped for possession of marijuana. He was a nonviolent inmate. He did not deserve the death penalty, though that's what he received.

Rarely remarked upon in the reporting of Arpaio's big "win" was the fact it occurred back-to-back with a huge loss.

On April 18, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a seven-figure settlement — at least a million samolians, and probably more — in the 2005 death of Clint Yarbrough. Yarbrough, whose parents also are represented by Manning, expired not long after he was strapped into one of Arpaio's notorious restraint chairs in the Fourth Avenue Jail.

The Board of Supes has yet to release the details of the settlement to the public, and Manning's muzzled by a confidentiality agreement. But if you have the stomach for horror shows, CBS Channel 5, one of the few TV news outlets willing to go after Nickel Bag Joe, has disturbing footage on its Web site ( of Yarbrough being subdued by officers while in one of the restraint chairs.

These medieval torture chairs were no longer in use by the sheriff's goons as of August 2006 because of successful lawsuits brought by Manning: $9 million in the death of Charles Agster III; $8.25 million in the case of Scott Norberg. Both men suffocated while in the chairs.

Most journos seem bored by such facts. They'd rather have The Joe Show. Easy pickins, requiring no difficult reporting.

During the Wilson trial, even New Times' sister paper in L.A. stupidly ran a fluff piece penned by one of its staff writers on Arpaio's Inmate Idle stunt, as if the pathetic publicity gimmick were a boon to mankind. After the Wilson verdict, idiot press the world over swallowed whole Arpaio's offer to turn his jails into a regular Shawskank Redemption, so socialite/porn princess Paris Hilton could serve her time under his watchful eye.

CNN's Nancy Grace, who always looks like she's ready to bite a baby's head off, also fell for this incredibly ludicrous PR bullshit and had Joe on to jawbone about it. Doesn't seem to matter that Joe has absolutely nothing to do with Hilton or the L.A. County jail system. Indeed, on Channel 3 news, Joe was unabashedly playing media whore over Hilton.

"Not that I'm a publicity hound," he salivated. "But I imagine if I had her here in these tents, there'd be paparazzi here from all over the world seeing how she could survive it."

Media outlets that should know better also play by Arpaio's rules, one of which is: If you're ready to shine Joe's jackboots, you get all the access you want. Case in point is National Geographic's Lockdown series, which goes inside America's prisons. This tweeter was tipped to the fact that Nat'l Geo had been filming in Tent City for a month by an anonymous jailbird who screeched that the crew was recording "staged" events.

This bilious buzzard got on the horn to Nat'l Geo field producer Erica Spence in New York; she denied that her crew had been given the Potemkin village treatment in the Tents.

"Absolutely not," she insisted before admitting, "When we were there, inmates would say things to us like, 'They don't treat us like this when you're not here.' Meaning the [detention] officers. I think they were trying to say in some way that the officers were treating them differently, that they were on better behavior, being nice to them or whatever. I really have no comment on that. Our job is to go in there and film what's happening and that's what we did."

Uh, "no comment"? Didn't it occur to Spence that Arpaio might've been playin' her like an oboe? Such willful blindness is either part of a Faustian bargain, or evidence of a gargantuan gullibility on the producer's part.

According to Spence, the Lockdown episode, which'll air later this year, will not remark upon the controversial nature of Tent City, Arpaio, or his treatment of inmates. See, Lockdown ain't no 60 Minutes. The Nat'l Geo show takes a neutral approach to the facilities it films, which is probably why Arpaio allowed it into his fiefdom in the first place, and why it had "very good access," in Spence's words.

Hell's herons, this beak-bearer can't even get a callback from nimrods like Joe flack Sergeant Paul Chagolla, much less get the grand tour that Spence took! The sheriff's office routinely violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by denying New Times access to public records, throwing its reporters out of news conferences and seeking a felony indictment against this paper for publishing Joe's address online, though that info's available to anyone with Internet access.

Interestingly, Spence acknowledged that inmates self-segregate into race-based groups, like the Woods (whites), the Pisces (Mexicans), the Kinfolk (blacks). But she naively said she did not consider them to be "gangs," though as The Bird reported previously ("Sheriff Gangbanger," January 18) these gangs basically run Tent City through fear, intimidation, and beatdowns.

Also, guess what? "Spence" is a fake last name that producer Erica admitted she uses to shield her identity. You know, like from Tent City social clubs such as the Woods, the Pisces, and the Kinfolk.

The Nat'l Geo producer informed this ibis that Lockdown followed three individuals in the tents, including one on the chain gang whose life was supposedly transformed by a letter he received from his daughter.

Irony is . . . he wouldn't be getting that letter under Joe's new mail rules forbidding any nonlegal correspondence other than metered postcards. Was "Spence" planning to mention this in her show? She said no.

Hey, never let the truth get in the way of a good narrative, right? With "journalists" like these around, no wonder Arpaio continues to cling to power like some malevolent Third World despot.


Welcome to the police state, people. As this egret expected, our spineless Governor Janet Napolitano recently signed into law repressive, over-the-top DUI legislation mandating ignition Interlock devices for first offenders. That's right, drive home slightly tight, and you'll be blowing into some expensive hand-held device to start your vehicle for a whole friggin' year.

AZ was already using these Orwellian devices for repeat offenders, which is fine. They cost $75 a month to maintain, in addition to installation fees and all the other costs associated with getting convicted of driving with a B.A.C. (blood alcohol content) of .08. And guess what, you have to keep blowing into them periodically while you're driving, even after your car's started.

According to a study by California's DMV on the devices, "drivers installing an IID (ignition interlock device) had a risk of a subsequent crash that was 84 percent higher than drivers not installing an IID."

That is, you're so busy blowing into the damn things that you're not paying attention to the freakin' road.

Supporters of the new legislation cite a drop in auto fatalities in New Mexico after a similar law was passed there. But those stats are misleading. Even without a mandated Interlock for first offenders, some states experienced a similar or larger decrease in alcohol-related deaths for the same period.

But say the stats were relevant. Why not go a step further and require that all drivers have an IID on their car? Wouldn't that make roads much safer? If you think this winged H.L. Mencken's exaggerating, look no further than the Web site for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (, which states that in addition to mandating IIDs for all DUI offenders, MADD supports "the development of new sensor technology already under way that allows a vehicle to recognize if a driver is drunk, and to stop the driver from operating a vehicle."

It's like something right out of Steven Spielberg's dystopian flick Minority Report, and it shows that regarding MADD, we're dealing with a bunch of power-crazed, neo-Prohibitionist fanatics.

Sorry, but being popped for a DUI doesn't equate you with being a murderer. Much more serious charges will be leveled if you kill or maim somebody while plowed.

In fact, as former New Times scribe Bruce Rushton wrote in a cover story ("How to drink and drive and get away with it," September 2, 2004), academic studies have shown that drivers at a B.A.C. of .08 are less dangerous than drivers using cell phones.

Bottom line: It's all about money.

Local cops rake it in on DUI busts. That's why they lurk outside bars, pulling anybody and everybody over, instead of focusing on drivers who are seriously impaired.

If the MADD zealots had their way, there'd be no more nightlife, or none worth mentioning. Everybody would be drinking soda pop for fear of the po-po. Are we gonna continue to take this? Or are we gonna finally tell these mothers to go to eff themselves?


Boy, FBI agents are real jerkoffs these days. That's what this wacky woodpecker figured after its cuckoo cousin Feathered Bastard blogged about Agent Ryan Seese, who was caught with his pants down, pounding his pud in the women's restroom at U of A's student union last week. According to campus police reports, Seese exposed himself to a cleaning lady while in flagrante delicto.

Calls to the FBI office here in Phoenix were not returned, but campus cops captured the Paul Reubens wanna-be after chasing him down in a nearby parking structure. Though Seese's badge and gun were in his car, he was armed with a pocket mirror, perhaps to spy on adjacent stalls in the ladies' loo.

Seese was cited on three counts and released into the custody of an FBI supervisor. Can you imagine a regular schmo being so treated? A perk of being an FBI agent, reckons this warbler. If the Taloned One had pulled a similar stunt, they'd probably put his ass under the dang jail.

J. Edgar Hoover must be turnin' over in his petticoats. And this from the same Bureau empowered to spy on us all under The Patriot Act.

Okay, this cock-of-the-rock admits, whacking off has always been the real national pastime. But in the chicks' bog? If this knob-bearin' nightingale's gotta take care of bidness, he does so as God intended: At home, door locked, blinds closed and Internet on.

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