Archive for » December, 2010 «

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Apocalyptic Tyranny…

As the New Year dawns, this is a time of reflections, resolutions, and predictions.  I have a few of my own.  My sentence will be up on July 8th, 2011.  Just over 21 yrs.  I’ll then have another 3 yrs of Supervised Release.

   I’ve been pretty philosophical about it.  From day one, I’ve realized that there’s not a whole lot one can do about the state of “justice” in America.  This is an especial irony given the ideals that the nation stands for versus its reality.

   The native inhabitants found this out first.  Then the Africans.  Then each wave of immigrants.  And many continue this process today. 

   Our nation is today engaged in two wars.  There’s also the so-called War on Drugs and the War on Terror.  They’re all self-perpetuating because they’re designed—or so it seems and works out–to create more victims than to resolve any conflict. more…

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Big Brother & the Real Holding Co., Inc….

Four of us Old Heads were in the bocce court over the holiday weekend.  The prison staff occupies our free-time with various competitions.  Benny and his partner, Gene, were winning.

Gene I could understand.  As a top Mafia capo out of Brooklyn, he was raised playing the game.  But Benny?  Benny was born with a silver spoon up his ass to a wealthy Connecticut family.  He took his father’s fortune to new heights manipulating Wall Street.  Bocce? more…

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Behind Every Great Fortune…

Kind of that time of year to reflect on the good things and contemplate the future.  Mostly for us behind the razor-wire, it’s another year we don’t have to serve.

I recall my own remembrances went something like: “Sixteen Xmases down, seven to go,” whatever…  About the best one can expect doing time in the American gulag is that time doesn’t do you.

The only people who leave prison rehabilitated, either came in that way, or did it on their own.  For the most part, prison is a vast warehouse.  Your best bet from the system and staff, is that you sit on the shelf and they ignore you.

If you stand out for any reason, they’ll turn it into another dose of retribution & punishment.  It’s all they know. more…

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Commerce Clause vs. We the People…

Some of my readers behind the razor-wire have asked me to respond to the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause and drug laws.  They were prompted by their recent observation that a federal district court in Virginia overthrew part of Obama’s Health Care law citing that Clause.

With the caveat that I am not an attorney, have no exceptional knowledge of the law, and caution people to do their own research, I’ll speak to what I can.

There is no enumerated rule in the Constitution giving the federal gov’t power to tell people what they can or can’t ingest.  Contrary, Thomas Jefferson and others argued against any such rule.  He stated, “Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.” more…

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Sermon on the Wire…

For thousands of years, humankind has celebrated the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere as a party-down event.  Observing that the sun was returning to the northern sky, prompted people to celebrate another year of spring birth, summer growth, and autumn harvest.  The bacchanal usually lasted several days.

By the time Christianity came along, there were no surprises as yet another religion usurped the various holidays throughout the year as ecumenical observances.  Since the celebrations could hardly have been stopped, they decided to co-opt them.  The winter solstice became Christmas, the spring equinox became Easter, etc.

Constantine, the Emperor of the Roman Empire, had adopted Christianity.  In the Edict of Milan (313 c.e.), he granted Christians (and all others) the right to practice their religion, and ordered that previously confiscated Christian property be returned.  He was also a major contributor of buildings and money himself. more…

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Prison’s Freedom & Freedom’s Loss…

Since over 95% of us will be returning to our respective communities, we look forward to a future of relative freedom.  But the increasing view that we’re getting is that your world is looking a lot more like our world.

Enter the Winter...

Hyperbole?  An exaggeration?  The freedoms we enjoyed and took for granted barely a generation ago are largely historical fantasy today.  Even the simple things.

I agree with Old Ben Franklin.  To paraphrase:  People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.

   I recall one time taking a comercial flight to California from Detroit Metro when the police came and were questioning those of us waiting to board.  (I never found out what it was about, and since I was on political business, I didn’t ask.)  As one of the officers looked at my ticket and then my ID, he asked, “Is this your ticket?”  (It was in a different name.)

When I replied, yes, he gave it back to me and moved on to the next person in line.  It never occurred back then to either of us what name I might choose to fly under.  (Businessmen, in fact, often did so for their own reasons.)  Those days are gone.  more…

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Happy Winter Solstice!!!

Dateline:  Detroit, Tuesday, December 21st, 2010:   The shortest day of the year, and the longest night.  Certainly an apt metaphor for these conservative times (despite the crumbs off the table of the current Administration’s “compromises”).

Analemma...

The irony for us in the northern hemisphere is that the earth is actually closest to the sun than at any other time of the year.  Being tilted away from our personal star, however, gives us winter and the cold weather.

I recall one year when I was at FCI McKean, PA, while waiting for the prison factory (UNICOR) to open at dawn.  I usually stood in the same place, out of the wind, and watched the sun rise thru a wire mesh screen.

It wasn’t long before I noticed the sun appearing in a different spot as the days passed.  Even giving the adjustment for Daylight Savings Time, and the longer or shorter days, I began to play a game of plotting the sun’s position in the mesh. more…

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Bradley Manning & the American Soul…

The ideal version of justice is that, before the law, a person is innocent until proven guilty.  But for those of us who have any jail and prison experience, the reality is quite different.

Bradley Manning

The current experience of Bradley Manning puts the lie to that idealism and, indeed, reveals the neo-liberals as little more than political stooges (or otherwise ineffectual before conservative corporate power).

Bradley is the 22-yr-old soldier who is accused–but not charged–with supplying WikiLeaks with the secret documents being distributed around the world.

He spent two months in a military jail in Kuwait, and has now been in the infamous Marine brig in Quantico, VA, for the past five months under extraordinary conditions. more…

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Mentors & Maggots…

I’ve spent close to 25 of my 68 yrs locked up in a variety of jails and prisons around the world.  These include, the federal BOP, and NY, GA, FL, TN, MS, ID, WA, MI, Mexico, Uganda, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

Awaiting justice...

I’ve faced everything from luxury accommodations in a 4-star hotel (Istanbul), to a brutal chain-gang (TN), to impending execution in the nations of Uganda and Jordan.

I offer this opening so that you may understand that I have a pretty good idea what my brothers are going thru at the moment in the Georgia prison system. more…

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Snitches & Plea Bargains…

Without snitches and plea bargains, there would hardly be a prison system.  Cops would have to actually learn and perform detection work (which is mostly TV fiction), and prosecutors and judges would have to try cases.

Haji Juma Khan

In a system where an abundance of the criminalization of individuals includes a multitude of sin/religious, moral, and consensual crimes, over 90% of felonies charged are plea bargained to avoid trial.

This tends to have defendants grossly over-charged to begin with in anticipation that the charges will later be plea-bargained.  Kind of like the boosted “sales” in many stores…fiction to begin with.  Another gambit is charging, or threatening to charge, family members.  “Cooperate,” and they go free.  Conservatives prefer the idea of justice as “business.” more…