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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Security vs. Freedom -- November 17, 2010

This week, many travelers are outraged by the new invasive security measures being taken at airports across America. The Transportation Safety Agency (TSA) now requires everyone to be X-rayed so their nude bodies can be seen on screens, or given thorough pat downs. During these pat downs, security agents grope over every part of your body, and even genitals are touched. The TSA says these measures are necessary to prevent terrorism, although many Americans disagree and believe their freedom, privacy, and dignity have been lost. In prison, I have seen the Illinois Department of Corrections become more and more zealous, intrusive, oppressive, and security conscious, often in the name of safety. Massive amounts of resources, money and manpower, have been used to keep strict control over the state's penitentiaries. The prison system in the mid-1990s and earlier was indeed much more violent, however, the measures taken in response have been excessively extreme and often are absurdly so. I see a very similar trend outside the prison walls in response to terrorism. I will risk my safety any day to have a return to the prison lifestyle I once had a decade ago. I believe Americans who are finally waking up to the police state will also not want to trade their freedom as a price of security.

Throughout the week, the controversy over the invasive searches has been growing, and I speculate it will cause even greater anger as Thanksgiving Day approaches and much more of the general public travels by air. The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when many travel home to be with their families. Many are not frequent fliers and have no idea what awaits them at the nation's airports: incredibly long lines, the almost endless list of prohibitions of various luggage, the enormous police presence, and attack or drug-bomb sniffing dogs. The massive security force will also be overly sensitive and ready to pounce, subdue, or arrest anyone who does not follow the litany of rules or does not act in a passive, obedient fashion. Technology of every sort will be there to monitor passengers' every move, and I will be willing to bet one could not get away with picking their nose or scratching their butt without ten cameras observing. Upon all this anxiety, inconvenience, and scrutiny will be the indignity of being forced to be seen nude through an X-ray device which can see through your clothes just like Superman gazing at Lois Lane. Too shy or bashful to have people examine nude x-rays of you? Well, then you can just be molested by TSA workers' hands, just like prisoners at Stateville regularly are by prison guards.

I have heard story after story of traveler's complaints about the new invasive pat down procedures. One man actually recorded his experience and it has been played repeatedly on television. After refusing the X-ray, he was told he must be frisked. The man said, "Fine, but just don't touch my junk or I will have you arrested." This comment, a sentiment I am sure is shared by many, caused him to be quickly surrounded by a threatening mob of police. After being harassed for hours, he was escorted out of the airport and will probably be on the TSA blacklist for years. He is fortunate to not have been arrested or fined $1,000, which I heard is possible for those who do not cooperate or who cause a "disturbance."

Many other alarming stories of excessive force or pat downs have been told by the news media. One woman was so upset by the invasive body search that she was crying afterwards and said she felt as if she was sexually molested. Apparently, TSA felt underneath her underwear and touched her breasts and genitals. Another woman declined the X-ray because she was pregnant and concerned about radiation's effect on her unborn baby. A security agent patted her down, putting hands under her breasts, around her belly, up her legs and even touched her crotch. Women wearing skirts have spoken of having hands going underneath them, all the way to their underwear. Many men and women alike are told to undress during their search, making opting out of the body scan largely irrelevant. These procedures are even being used on old women with canes, or three-year-old children. Some have said the invasive frisking of children would normally be tantamount to child molestation.

Incredibly, airplane pilots also must be scanned or vigorously searched. Many complain they must be repeatedly groped, or exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The searching of the pilots flying the plane must be the most ridiculous part of the TSA's universal X-ray or pat down procedure. The pilot is in control of the plane, and can, at whim, nose dive it into the ground or a building. Apparently, I am not the only person to think this is absurd, and I heard today the TSA may make exceptions for pilots.

Forcing everyone to go through invasive searches is a foolish policy. Other countries do not subject their passengers to such searches, including Israel. And if Israel, the top target of Islamic terrorists, does not do this, it stands to reason it is not necessary in the U.S. It has been pointed out that Israeli airports have many less air travelers than the U.S. and therefore can focus their security and intelligence resources with much more efficiency. However, in the same line of thought, it can be argued it makes TSA policy all that more ridiculous. The U.S. must squander tremendous amounts of manpower, money, and technology for an overzealous system of security. Furthermore, millions more travelers are affected by such a blanket and crude policy. Every year there are close to 700 million air travelers in the U.S. This upcoming holiday will bring about 5 million fliers. To have such a strict, intense, and universal system of security is foolhardy. Not even in maximum-security prisons are movement lines subject to complete pat downs, although it is done on occasion.

Unlike prisoners, free U.S. citizens are protected by the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizures. What is being done at U.S. airports is a violation of Americans' rights of privacy and prohibitions of searches without probable cause, or court order. It is an egregious affront to the Constitution to search everyone going through airports without the slightest bit of cause. It would be understandable and legal if a person acting particularly suspiciously was told to undergo an X-ray, or pat down, but not all passengers or even a small percentage of them. If a man was on an intelligence list for being acquainted with Al Qaeda, or if a drug or bomb-sniffing dog were to single a person out, this would provide reason for the government to conduct a search.

Instead of the TSA scrutinizing every air traveler, the government should step up terrorist profiles. Many liberals condemn the practice of singling out certain groups of people. In their utopian stupidity, they want universal equality. Political correctness has gone way too far in America, and probably all of Western Civilization, when foreigners of Middle East descent are given the same scrutiny as a rural American family traveling to Disneyland on vacation, or a grandmother going to see kin on Thanksgiving Day. This makes as much sense as not allowing Arizona police to consider racial background when looking for illegal aliens. To liberals and President Obama, it makes much more sense to scrutinize everyone the same. The White House is so concerned about not violating Mexicans' or enemy combatants' rights, but cares little about violating the rights of U.S. citizens. Ironic that police must turn a blind eye to the invasion of our southern border and give Constitutional protections to foreign terrorists, but must treat our own citizens unscrupulously.

Incredibly, I heard TSA was considering prohibiting the search of Islamic women under religious grounds. If anyone should be frisked or X-rayed, it should be Islamic foreigners. Although it is mainly Islamic men who carry out acts of terrorism, it is not unknown for female adherents to be instruments of Jihad. Islamic women have gone on suicide bombing missions, although I do not know what they earn in the afterlife. Twenty virgins may not be so compelling to them. It seems odd that Islamic females may be exempt from invasive searches, but Catholic nuns are fair game. Apparently, a photo is being circulated on the Internet of a nun being groped by TSA. Again, the ideology of the White House and willingness to bend over backwards to appease the Islamic world continues to amaze me. Possibly, I should not be surprised, however, when all types of minority groups are given special rights, accommodations, and entitlements when the white man who founded this country are 2nd class citizens--another great irony of America and many Caucasian nations.

During the week, I have heard the argument that America has become so racially and culturally diverse, profiling has severe limitations. Such critics of profiling bring up home grown terrorism to support their position. There have been American citizens, even Caucasians, who have converted to radical Islam and seek to join the Jihad movement. One white American was even taken prisoner of war in Afghanistan fighting U.S. forces. Many African Americans have converted to Islam, and have been arrested for attempting, or committing terrorist acts. I have personally noticed in the maximum-security prisons here how appealing and prevalent Islam has become. Some of these prisoners believe in radical fundamentalist Islam and are sympathetic or even supportive of the actions of groups hostile to the U.S. Islam is mostly appealing to black prisoners to give themselves a separate identity, as a rebellion to a white culture, or to provide cover for gang activity. However, I have heard a lot of hostility toward the U.S., and on 9-11 many prisoners were merely intrigued by the attack, indifferent, or even happy.

I cannot deny multiculturalism and racial diversity in the U.S. will make, and has made, security more difficult. Liberal thought, especially during the Civil Rights era and beyond, has radically altered America. In the 1950s and earlier, America was largely a homogeneous nation of Caucasian people with shared values, beliefs and identity. Even during the early part of the country's history when waves of immigrants were coming overseas from Europe, America was a much more united and cohesive society. European immigrants quickly assimilated into U.S. culture and became Americans, even fervent patriots.

In Illinois prisons, Mexicans are a growing segment of the prison population. Most are first generation Americans or illegal aliens. The vast majority of these first generation Americans, furthermore, were born in the U.S. by illegal aliens. These men have more loyalty to their gang or Mexico than they ever have had for America. The U.S. has a foolish policy of granting citizenship to anyone born within its borders. Citizenship should have to be earned, and only given on a selective basis. Loyalty, aptitude, and unity should supersede liberal ideals of universal and blind equality. During the cold war, there were Communist traitors, but never before has the country been such a breeding ground for foreign-sponsored, but home grown, espionage, sabotage, or terrorism, and never before has it been as difficult identifying infidels. Despite this, however, I still believe profiling can be an effective tool in fighting enemies of the state.

The prisons of Illinois are some of the most diverse populations in America. Caucasians are a small minority, and are mixed in a system of African Americans and increasing numbers of Hispanics. These races are divided by religion, ethnicity, and gangs. Internal Affairs uses profiling extensively in their scrutiny and oppression of thousands of prisoners. Identifying gang members is especially important to maintaining control and security of the institution. When incidents occur, the entire prison population is not commonly interrogated or searched. Instead, I.A. uses their collected data and intelligence to target certain groups. Profiling greatly improves the productivity and efficiency of security staff at Stateville, and other institutions. Although I have no rights, and can be searched and interrogated, or even have my property seized or be thrown in Segregation at the whim of my captors, this is usually not procedure. I believe administrators have learned universal harassment is a waste of resources, time, effort, and often leads to mass resentment and rioting.

I am surprised the Obama administration is as concerned about airplane bombings and not for more dangerous threats. The emergence of Red China and its threat to overtake the U.S. economically and militarily should be much more of a fear than cave dwellers in Afghanistan who use crude measures to take down our aircraft. China has the possibility of instigating WWIII and completely obliterating the U.S. Yet the White House coddles the growing monster in foreign affairs, both militarily and international trade. China is on the rise with its trillion dollars of surplus and expanding military might, while America is on the decline with trillions of dollars of debt and shrinking global power. Even if things do not come to total war, a cold war is a distinct possibility, and I imagine it will be much worse and precarious than the one with the former Soviet Union.

Not only is there the vastly greater danger emanating from China, but a nuclear Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. Both Iran and North Korea snub their noses at the U.S., and America looks impotent with its petty negotiations and sanctions. Do American leaders really think these countries care about sanctions? North Korea sends missiles over Japan, sinks South Korean naval ships, and tests nuclear weapons. Soon they will have the capability of sending a nuclear missile to the U.S., and what balls will our leaders then have? Then there is the threat of biological and chemical weapons, which I think Americans should fear even more so than a hydrogen bomb. Barack Obama is so worried about a commercial airplane being destroyed, he wants Americans to be groped at airports en mass, but he does little to nothing about the U.S.'s southern border where terrorists or other enemies could easily sneak across with far more deadly weapons and unlimited targets. Of course, though, the U.S. would not want to make illegal aliens, Mexican constituents, or drug smugglers unhappy.

The White House is terribly concerned about air safety, but cares little about imported food and other consumer goods. Recently, I saw a documentary about toxic fish being imported to America. Fisheries in S.E. Asia are located in polluted and toxic waters. The fish are given hormones and other dangerous supplements so they can survive to be shipped to the U.S. China and other Asian countries are selling American consumers toxic products, whether it be fish, lead in children's toys, or poisons in dog food. Mexico and other South American countries sell the U.S. agricultural products laced with deadly pesticides the FDA has banned here. These countries do not have the same standards as the U.S. or Europe, and they do not care if their products kill or harm their foreign consumers. The deaths, sicknesses, and intangible detriment to Americans' health far exceeds the threat of an airplane bombing, and yet, the FDA only checks 2% of the country's food. 100% of passengers must have their privacy violated and be scrutinized down to their naked bodies, but only 2% of imported food is being checked. The U.S. could easily pay for higher scrutiny of imports, and shipyards as well, if we placed tariffs on these countries' commerce, but that is anathema to government leaders. The U.S. would not want to create trade wars with countries who systematically abuse and take advantage of America's free trade policy.

In the news today, I heard General Motors issued stock to pay back the government's bailout. Half of the loan, or approximately $14 billion, was returned. Many people criticize the bailout because in a capitalist system, bad businesses should go out of business, and government intervention usually only makes matters worse. Certainly bankruptcy and the ability to make new contracts with the union would have been preferable. However, the government was partly to blame for GM's financial straits. How are American car companies supposed to compete globally when China artificially reduces its currency, and South Korea only allows 1 U.S. car to be sold in its markets for every 40 Korean cars sold in America? How does America compete economically with countries with subsidized industries, lower safety standards and lower standards of living? The Fed just reduced the value of U.S. currency by beginning to print an extra trillion dollars. I suppose the government's answer is to lower ourselves to the third world instead of making sure trade is fair and imported products are safe. Even the economic collapse of the U.S. is more of a danger in my opinion, than an airplane possibly being bombed.

The threat of terrorism is greatly overblown, especially in comparison to other dangers. The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are infinitesimally minute when compared to dying in a car accident. Tens of thousands of people will die in car accidents this year, but there is no hysteria or massive government effort to prevent it. Interestingly, because of the TSA's harassment of air travelers, many people will drive instead of fly this Thanksgiving; there will probably be well over a hundred serious car accidents, but I doubt anyone will be injured traveling by air.

There are many occupations that are dangerous and have high rates of injury or death. Miners and fisherman face numerous risks in their line of employment. People probably remember the Peruvian miners who were trapped for months not long ago when the mine collapsed. They lived, but not all miners are so fortunate. Miners who worked in West Virginia for Massey Energy earlier this year were killed, and just recently, miners in New Zealand are presumed dead after an explosion. There is a program on the Discovery Channel called "The Deadliest Catch," that follows the lives of fisherman out on the open sea. Fishing on these boats in frigid and volatile waters is often dangerous. Many fishermen die, or are severely injured every year. There are various hazardous occupations people usually do not ever think of, but these people have odds of dying that are much greater than they ever would be from a terrorist attack.

The odds of dying from sickness, disease, or accidents far exceed that of being killed by a suicidal bomber or on an airplane. How many people die yearly from cancer, heart attacks, strokes, influenza, or just from falling in their own bathroom? There is no comparing the risks people live with, day after day, with acts of terrorism. Yet, you do not see massive expenditures of money, resources, and government intrusion or action to eliminate those risks. People do not live in fear of these fatalities, despite how much more probable they are. Some may argue this is because not much can be done to prevent them. But how truly effective are TSA's nude X-rays and invasive pat downs at preventing terrorism?

Terrorists, like bacteria, will adapt to new security measures. For every gap in security that is plugged, there will be another. How far are Americans willing to go? Should American air travelers be subjected to anal cavity searches? Breast implant checks? Tampon scrutiny? X-rays of stomach contents? Pacemaker or defibrillator checks? Is it even possible to make sure a pacemaker is not an explosive device? Initially, terrorists just strapped explosives to their chests; then they used carpet cutters to hijack planes to use as crude missiles; then there was the shoe bomber, and more recently the underwear bomber. Not long ago, a Yemen terrorist mailed explosive devices inside computers which could have been detonated by cellphone. Where there is a will, there is a way. Fanatics are very determined. When someone is willing to die to cause destruction or death, there is little you can do to prevent it. Intelligence and reasonable security measures are all Americans can use. The more government attempts to tighten its grip in efforts to make America safe, the more the country will become a police state, and the more the terrorists will win.

Maximum-security prisons have become absurdly security conscious in the last ten years, making inmates' lives exceedingly miserable and oppressive. As I write this journal entry, I write with a dull pencil that I have had to peel down with my fingernails, and now that my nails are broken or mangled, I am gnawing the wood with my teeth. Sometimes I use a metal edge to scrape the wood off, if I find a good one. Oftentimes, I will use my toe nail clippers, but these were not given to me in Seg. Pencil sharpeners have ceased to be sold, and are now considered contraband for security reasons. Possibly, I could take the tiny flimsy steel carving piece to make a weapon, the thinking goes. The pens that are sold at Stateville are made of such thin plastic that when I use them, they bend or snap. A normal pen could be used to stab someone.

Earlier, I brushed my teeth with a 3" toothbrush. Stateville no longer sells full-sized toothbrushes because someone might melt the end into a point and hurt someone with it. I am not allowed dental floss because purportedly it can be used to cut through metal bars, although this myth was busted on the Discovery show "Myth Busters." I don't know how prison security could ever think dental floss could cut through steel.

Sewing needles are not sold any more because I may use it as a blow dart, or stabbing weapon. It is also not sold to prevent inmates from altering their clothing. God forbid if a man hemmed up his state pants. I have a hair brush without a handle, and the lid to my bowl was confiscated because I could hide something in it. The radio I currently listen to is made of clear plastic, as is my TV and drinking mug. Every drinking mug, by the way, is not allowed to have a lid because, again, I could hide something in it.

The specially-made 13" TV I have, without a remote or any special functions, cost me over $200. I could purchase a similar model for $59 outside these prison walls. By the way, all bags or purses the guards bring into the prison must be made of clear plastic, although if they wanted to smuggle drugs, weapons, cigarettes, or other contraband in, they could just hide it on their person. There is no X-ray machine or intrusive pat down for them.

Stingers to heat water and make meals warm have been barred to prevent inmates from throwing hot or boiling water on staff or other inmates. Now, the vast majority of prisoners have devised other ways of heating water, including fire. When there was a gang fight on the yard amongst F House inmates a couple of months ago, guards searched the entire building looking for weapons. What did they find? Empty pop bottles, extra sheets or blankets, containers with lids and other miscellanous nondangerous property. However, at this time, someone noticed the cells in Seg had windows with metal levers to open and close them. So, during the lockdown, maintenance came to saw off all the handles, making it very difficult to lock, close, or open the windows now. I even cut my fingers a few times turning the steel levers, which were cut but not filed down to a smooth finish. The administration is so concerned about weapons, but for every silly thing they do or take away from prisoners, there are a hundred alternatives that are better or more easily procured. There is no way to make Stateville completely safe, and this is true in regards to airplane travel or life in the U.S. in general.

Movement lines are often subject to pat downs, or metal detecters. A guard will stand by the door to wand every inmate going out. This, of course, makes the procession of inmates out the door very slow. It now takes five hours to feed general population, and often we are only given 10 to 15 minutes to eat. Of course, the delay is also caused by the rule that inmates must walk in twos and make lines, which are often stopped when they break apart. Inmates spend more time waiting to go to chow and on the way to chow than actually eating. While in line, inmates are picked out to be patted down. What do guards often find? Packets of ketchup, mustard, napkins, gloves, and hats. On the way back, guards may find inmates bringing milk, bread, cookies, or other foods. Weapons? I have not yet seen an inmate found with a weapon on the way to or from chow, library, school, chapel, or yard.

Despite this, there are usually about 10 guards lined up during feed, and 10 lieutenants standing around as well. Possibly, they are needed in case a fight breaks out, which occurs regularly, although I have never seen so much staff in my 18 years of imprisonment for routine chow lines. In fact, a decade ago, I almost never saw a lieutenant or higher supervisor. Security has increased to absurd levels and their unions still complain there is not enough staff and the prison is still too dangerous. The counselor who recently had his head busted will probably be pointed out to administrators to demonstrate more staff is needed, although no amount of storm troopers will make Stateville entirely peaceful, even if the bankrupt State of Illinois could hire them.

The IDOC has over 40 prisons, and approximately 50,000 prisoners. There are another 20,000 jail inmates, with over 10,000 just at Cook County Jail. Thousands more are on parole, probation, or work release. The prison industrial complex, justice system, and adjoining infrastructure, I speculate, involves close to a million people. The entire State of Illinois only has about 13 million people, and yet with a budget deficit of $15 billion, not including pension obligations, there is no effort to curb the enormous waste of resources and money. Even I am made to languish in maximum-security prisons for the rest of my life for allegedly lending my car to a man who allegedly killed someone, but was acquitted. Contrarily, the defeated Republican candidate for governor repeatedly accused Governor Quinn in vicious attack ads of endangering the public by releasing prisoners up to a month early. I severely doubt the general public was put in increased danger, just as I severely doubt air travelers are in increased danger without universal X-rays and invasive pat downs by the TSA.

Currently, I am in Segregation for purportedly gambling, trading and trafficking commissary, and being in possession of commissary I did not personally purchase. The purpose of Segregation is to isolate dangerous inmates from the general population. Minor rule violations are supposed to be disciplined with a loss of privileges, and the rule violations I am accused of would not even be written up by a guard, or especially Internal Affairs, years ago. However, IDOC now has two prisons entirely dedicated for violent and dangerous prisoners, and the other prisons have the room and capacity to hold people in Seg for minor infractions. Years ago, guards were concerned about murders, rapes, violent assaults, and serious crimes. Today, guards are vigilant about hooch, tattoos, cooking devices, insolence, putting a privacy sheet up when an inmate uses the toilet, clothing lines, or God forbid, betting on a football game. As inmates' freedoms have slowly been taken away as security has become overzealously pursued, so have Americans' freedoms been taken away. Today it is invasive searches or X-rays at airports. Tomorrow, it may be at train stations, schools, sporting events, or even your home.

Last week, my name was announced on the loud speaker for a visit. Although I notified guards of my doctor's order to be placed in medical restraints, the guards brought out boxed handcuffs. The difference merely being instead of having a chain around my waist with my wrists held together awkwardly and horizontally in front of me by the box, I have a chain around my waist with handcuffs cuffed to the sides of my waist. In the past, those boxed handcuffs have created nerve damage in my hands and wrists, and when I wear them, my hands and wrists go numb with pain. The guards, however, refused to honor my medical permit because of blind protocol and security concerns. On my visit, I was then shackled and chained to the floor to speak to my mother through a small screen in plexiglass. I asked the guard if he thought I was Hannibal Lector and if he had a face mask as well for me to wear. Apparently, I am a very dangerous convict for purportedly having commissary passed to me, not purchasing this commissary, and gambling.

When I go on non-Seg visits, I am not put in any restraints. However, I am strip-searched on the way to, and on the way out. What the purpose of a strip search is before going in for a visit remains a mystery to me. Would I try to smuggle something out? Perhaps, a clear plastic pen? Recently, Cook County lost a multimillion dollar lawsuit because jail guards were stripping detainees that were being released. Possibly IDOC needs to be sued as well for frivolous searches, but unlike prisoners, detainees have rights, and if you have served your time, then you also reacquire Constitutional protections.

During strip searches, prisoners must totally disrobe. Their clothes are then searched, before they are personally examined. Prisoners raise their hands to show they are not hiding anything under their armpits. Mouths are then checked, looking under tongue and lips. If you have hair, you must run your fingers through it. Ears are checked also, and sometimes guards want to take a look at your fingernails. Possibly you could have a snort of heroin or coke underneath your nails. Prisoners are told to lift up their genitals, and if you have a "supercop" or homosexual guard, he will want you to peel the foreskin on your penis up. The ordeal is still not over and inmates must then turn around, raise their feet, and wiggle their toes. The final indignation is having to bend over and spread your ass cheeks, though not all guards demand you do this.

There is a camera in the strip search room where Internal Affairs can monitor the search to make sure guards do their job, or an inmate does not get away with bringing any contraband into the institution. Hence, prisoners are not only subjected to all encompassing and invasive searches, but to having their naked bodies on screen for anyone present to see.

After describing the conditions in prison and what I must go through to see my family, readers may think a pat down or X-ray at the airport to see their family on Thanksgiving Day is not all that bad. However, I hope they do not become complacent and accepting of TSA procedures. Unlike myself, readers are free and need not put up with invasive searches. Americans have Constitutional rights protecting them from unwarranted search and seizure. They also have a right to privacy. Freedom is an invaluable, but precarious treasure that if not vigorously defended and fought for can, and will, be taken away. If you do not take a stand now, when will you? In the movie Braveheart, Henry Wallace asks a crowd of armed Scots who are having second thoughts about battle, "What will you do without freedom?" Big Brother and the police state are slowly taking over the U.S. Liberty is being lost in all manner of ways, and not just at the airports. Soon Americans will discover they no longer live in the land of the free, but an oppressive, miserable prison like Stateville, where life is meaningless, and death can only come too soon.

Freedom vs. Security Continued -- December 6, 2010

The invasive searches at airports during the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend did not cause public uprises as many thought, including myself. Possibly, Americans do not value their freedom and privacy as much as I, and have become cowardly, passive, and/or accepting of an increasingly intrusive government. Possibly, however, Americans who still value their freedom and who did not want to be delayed or harassed, drove instead of taking to the air. Furthermore, it seemed apparent the TSA intentionally scaled back their aggressive and universal searches. At many airports, scanning devices were not available or happened to not be working. It is said that a frog that is dropped into a pot of boiling water will jump out, but one slowly cooked will die without a struggle. Hopefully, Americans will become vigilant if Big Brother continues to turn up the heat in efforts to take over their lives.

Over the weekend, I learned the U.S. legislature is considering a bill requiring all new cars to have rear view cameras. On television news programs, a few tragic cases where little children were killed by drivers backing up were recounted. The news stories made it appear these incidents were pervasive, and a new law was a good idea. However, as I have argued in this journal entry and others, freedom is more important than security or safety. These news reports highlight and sensationalize a very few instances out of numerous car accidents to make an interesting story, and support socialist government intervention. Americans should not be forced to pay an extra $2,000 for a rear view camera that may or may not prevent a few fatalities, despite how disturbing it may be that one child dies. U.S. car manufacturers also should not be forced to produce these cameras, and thereby increase their car prices. These expensive and unnecessary changes, just like fuel consumption laws, should be voluntary and not mandatory.

Also over the weekend, I heard about a government idea to mandate devices be put into all new cars that prevent drivers from using cell or smart phones while driving. The device will jam the transmission of all phones in the car, not just the driver's. It will also, of course, not allow people to use non-held communication devices. Ironically, the highest cause of distraction related car accidents is not using a cell phone as we are led to believe, but eating while driving. According to a recently released study, 80% of all those accidents were due to drivers trying to eat and drive at the same time. I wonder what the government will prepare next based on this finding. The government may seek to ban drive-throughs at fast food restaurants. It has already made seat belt laws, helmet laws for motorcyclists, child car seats, and breathylizers for DUI offenders mandatory in many states. The eating while driving accident conclusion reminded me of a woman who ordered coffee from a drive through. She spilled the hot coffee on herself and suffered burns. Instead of being more careful in the future, she sued McDonalds for millions of dollars. When will people take responsibility for themselves? When will the government allow us to do so?

Yet another socialist bill being pushed by the White House, particularily by the President's wife, is a school nutrition bill. This bill, if passed, will ban certain foods considered unhealthy from being served at public schools. It seeks to eliminate french fries, cheeseburgers, pizza and other lunches in favor of salad bars and tofu. I can tell you that as a high school student I was very health conscious, and usually brought my own lunch from home. However, it was my choice, and it should remain the student's choice, and the local public school boards and the residents who elected them. Who is to say students will not bring a bag lunch of junk food if given a choice of tofu? Who is to say a salad bar frequented by many children will not be unsanitary and cause more illnesses than obesity? Who is to say active children will not burn off these calories? Who is to say the federal government knows what is best for our children? For better or worse, Americans should be free to make their own choices. By the way, I find Michelle Obama's promotion of nutritious school meals ironic considering her husband regularly eats cheeseburgers and smokes cigarettes. Maybe Michele Obama should be more concerned about her own family's health habits, and not ours.

This morning the temperature outside was 5 degrees, and when I took my milk carton in from the window sill to pour on my cereal, I discovered it was as solid as a brick. Yard was cancelled this morning because of the severe cold. Prison guards do not care if foolish prisoners are improperly dressed or freeze in the cold, but administrators are overly concerned about liability and our safety. During lightning storms, yard is also cancelled to prevent the freak accident of lightning striking an inmate. Years ago, however, yard was always run regardless of the weather, and if you froze or were struck by lightning, that was your problem. I remember winter days bundled up so much I could barely move my limbs to lift weights in sub-zero blizzards. I also remember lightning storms where I would lift steel barbells over my head in the middle of the yard to tempt fate. Cold weather nor lightning ever harmed me, but I feel as a broken man nontheless due to the years spent in maximum-security prisons that have become increasingly oppressive and crushingly strict. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying "Men who will trade their freedom for security, deserve neither." I hope this is an attitude Americans will embrace as Big Brother tries to become ever larger.


  1. Great post, i can do nothing but agree as i feel it is up to us to do the right thing or have the freedom to do the wrong as opposed to having the gov tell me what it is to do! i realize the post is over a year old but i dont really think china is a huge threat to the u.s. nuclear war of course not because of the POSSIBILITY of mutually assured destruction as you said more or less it would most likely be a cold war,which brings into question quality over think china could crush the united states?!?! initially it may be due to the economic impact on us? would also be a double edge sword as the u.s is largest importer of china goods,not to mention the laughable economic disaster we would face if they called in their u.s debt,ENTERTAINING THE FACT THE U.S WOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT PAYING A BILL TO A NATION WE ARE AT WAR WITH!!i am also under the impression the u.s can seize the assets of any country we are at war with, obviously not on their soil but any asset they have in any bank or market in any other country. just entertaining myself with the question of why you believe china would win?? taking into account other countries that are allies of china or u.s i cannot see even a russian backed win for china,of course this is without nukes as i said again there is the immediate first thought of M.A.D. Again this is just my opinion i gathered on my own,from what i have seen and the way i perceive war to work Vietnam a loss and our just passing taliban fight,(we could have simply exercised our nuclear capabilities and put an immediate end to the fighting but our country was not in danger or at stake as would be in a china conflict. small battles of guerrilla style fighting wont work with 1 million infantry there would be large scale battles, 25 chinese tank mean nothing when 1 U.S NLOS Cannon would neutralize them without knowing ever seeing a threat not to mention our dominant navy controlling the oceans an invasion on u.s soil would be highly unlikely. again this is just my opinion and i am highly interested in yours pertaining to that subject no matter how serious it may or may not be,as well as my opinions stated based off of what the majority of people seem to state when it comes to the subject as you havent stated any yet obviously. again great post this was def my favorite so far because for me it hits close to home and i will be damned if even 1 of my constitutional rights is violated in any way!! being a felon myself (simple fist fight,spent few months in joliet county jail) i still continue to exercise my second amendment right to bear arms and refuse to fly myself just to be groped or watch my family be violated as a foreigner is hassled less (fear of discrimination).Shit pisses me off so im just going to end this now,thanks for the read!

    1. If you are a felon and still carry weapons I have bad news for you: 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to you anymore. Lose the gun my is not worth should know the system is in great need of inmates...why volunteer? Are you not learning anything from Paul? Constitutional rights are whatever they say they are not what your constitution says so...relax and lose the piece.

  2. i just watched that episode of mythbusters and they claimed it was plausible that you can indeed cut through steel bars with dental floss and toothpaste, it would just take you along time

    1. The idea of being able to cut through a bar using dental floss may be minutely plausable, however, escaping is an entirely different matter. In the episode of Mythbusters, they were only able to finally cut through one bar using a corrosive or abrasive and a machine that continuously spun the floss at a high rate of speed. Even when these techniques and equipment were used, it took an extremely long time. A prisoner could not use this system except at irregular parts of the night and it would take months to go through 3 bars. Then at Stateville and most other maximum security penitentiaries, they would be trapped on a locked gallery and in a locked cell house. For argument's sake, let's say they were able to get out of the living unit. There are still numerous cyclone fences topped with razor wire and a 30 foot wall to overcome. If a prisoner is going to try escaping, they will not use dental floss!

    2. Can't you just dig through the back wall or your cell like they did on those old cartoons? :-D

    3. Or like El Chapo in Mexico......

  3. I work for the TSA

    It stands for Transportation Safety Administration NOT "Agency"

    Xray units at airports do NOT show your nude body they show your skeletal structure just like any medical Xray. Xrays do not detect soft tissue.

    During pat downs which not everyone is subjected to as they are RANDOM, there is NEVER and I MEAN NEVER any touching of anyone's genitals.

    Paul I am not sure where you get a lot of your information but trust me on these issues you are sorely misinformed.

    1. He listens to Rush Limbaugh. That explains a lot of it. I wonder if Paul is aware that Rush was caught returning from the Dominican Republic (a major destination for pedophile sex tourists) with a bottle of Viagra? And no, Mrs. Limbaugh did not accompany him.

  4. " The TSA says these measures are necessary to prevent terrorism, although many Americans disagree and believe their freedom, privacy, and dignity have been lost. In prison, I have seen the Illinois Department of Corrections become more and more zealous, intrusive, oppressive, and security conscious, often in the name of safety. Massive amounts of resources, money and manpower, have been used to keep strict control over the state's penitentiaries. The prison system in the mid-1990s and earlier was indeed much more violent "

    Paul you made the point FOR the federal government, you openly admitted that stricter and tighter security in Illinois prisons have made the facilities less violent. Has there been even one incident of terrorism at a US airport since 911? The answer is no. The reason must be due to stricter and tighter security as well.

  5. Israel does not subject its passengers to this kind of security?

    Again you are sorely misinformed, Not only does Israel do this and has for DECADES but their airport security procedures make American procedures seem tame, In fact our new procedures after 911 are MODELED after those of Israel and our TSA employees were trained by Israelis

    CNN and Fox news have both failed you Paul.

  6. Paul do you really think the civil rights movement was bad?


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