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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Death Knells of a Great Nation -- July 5, 2014

As time passes, Americans seem to have fewer reasons to be patriotic on Independence Day. Repeatedly, this week I was reminded of how the values of the early nation have been usurped or undermined. Freedom so valiantly fought for has been lost by Big Brother government and a judicial system that keeps millions of people in prison, jail, on parole or other forms of restricted release. The rugged individualism where men succeed and fail by their own merits is gone. In its stead, collectivism is pervasive and a nanny state has nearly half the population on the government dole. The strength of the elite republic has warped into a universal democracy where diversity and equality triumph over virtue and excellence. The inner decay and weakness within is projected abroad, inviting enemies around the world to fill the power vacuum left behind. A couple of small U.S. Supreme Court rulings and a stock market soaring to an all time high gave hope that America was not descending from its former greatness, however, even this news masked the immense fundamental problems with the country socially and fiscally. Even if I was not wrongfully convicted and condemned to a lifetime in prison, I would see little to celebrate on the 4th of July.

Last Saturday, a guard passing out legal mail stopped by my cell. She had a large envelope in her hand and I thought possibly the attorney my parents hired 5 years ago had finally written my successive post conviction appeal. Instead, it was the petition for executive clemency I had sent to the Illinois Innocence Project to review. The petition describes my case in great detail and provides extensive documentation of my innocence. I had asked the university to return the plea to the governor because it was my only copy. Enclosed, I expected a letter telling me if they had accepted my case, but there was nothing except a stick-on note saying, "Return to sender," leaving me with the impression they did not want to represent me.

America flaunts itself as being a land of freedom and justice, however, I have found otherwise. Laws and regulations abound depriving men of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Approximately 1% of its citizenry is incarcerated in prisons or jails and I can only speculate how many more are on parole, work release, probation or have tracking devices bolted to their ankles. Amazingly, one quarter of all incarcerated people in the world are in the U.S. The criminal justice system sucks up both the guilty and the innocent stretching an already vast prison network to its limit. For 21 years I have languished in maximum security facilities with no hope for parole. Despite my innocence, I have been unable to exonerate myself. I struggle just to have my conviction brought before a court for review.

Sunday I missed chow and for lunch ate a couple of peanut butter sandwiches. Not being able to read or write while I ate, I turned on my television. A news channel reported about Chicago's gay pride parade. The event was being attended by the current governor as well as the one who hopes to succeed him. Governor Quinn was Catholic but desperately needed the support of the staunch liberals and LGBT community in Chicago. Bruce Rauner was opposed to homosexuality but he also could not afford to offend any voters and defended himself from a large billboard which attacked him as opposing gay marriage. He wanted to keep the focus on fiscal issues which was probably politically wise, although demonstrated how perverse social norms have become. Homosexuality is an abomination and yet it is glorified. The tiny deviant sexual minority was also given special rights and political clout over the rest of society.

I did leave the confines of my cell to attend dinner. The Snowman was working on the feed line and was apparently still on some kitchen supervisor's "shit list". Typically, he is in the back of the kitchen doing less monotonous and unpleasant work. The Snowman was my cellmate for a couple of years long ago at another penitentiary. I rarely see him anymore and take the opportunity to say a few words while he is unhappily scooping out slop onto prisoner's trays. On this occasion, I told him I want service with a smile. He retorted that I needed to go to McDonald's. The Snowman was sentenced to natural life without parole for the robbery and murder of a gas station attendant. The only remaining evidence against him is the very questionable testimony of jail-house snitches. I can see that the conviction and time in prison weighs heavily on him.

On the way out of the chow hall I had a brief conversation with a lieutenant who has a love affair with socialism and President Barack Obama. For weeks now, I have been telling him all the Central American immigrants should be sent back to their countries of origin. He thought it was appalling that I did not have any sympathy for the children. However, whether it was Mexicans, Guatemalans, or the children from any other 3rd world country, the U.S. is not a global refuge. There are not enough resources to subsidize all these people along with the crime, drugs, and infectious diseases they bring with them. Already, the government is subsidizing many Americans leading to enormous deficits. The country has also radically changed from a Caucasian, homogeneous nation to a cosmopolitan state lacking cohesion and identity. It may sound harsh, but large internment camps should be erected until all the illegal aliens can be removed. Laws bestowing citizenship on any person born on U.S. soil also should be changed. America has the weakest and most cockamamie immigration system.

Prison operations did not begin until late Monday morning. B and D houses were on lockdown and I thought this may have expanded to include the rest of the quarter units. I heard a rumor that a prisoner was violated by his gang and while being questioned by Internal Affairs he made a number of accusations. The administration, always paranoid about conspiracies, seemed determined to conduct a full investigation. This included talking to various prisoners and searching the cell houses. From what I was told by inmates who went to chow, a small group of Orange Crush went from B House to D House. I was not certain what they were doing, but later the vents were searched from the plumbing aisle behind cells. Then in the afternoon, 3 SORT members climbed a ladder to look on top of the sergeant's office. They pulled up some old plywood amongst other things during their search, but nothing was found.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., I listened to the Rush Limbaugh talk show on my Walkman. Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings were the topic of discussion. The most politically charged case pertained to whether the government could force incorporated businesses to provide contraception to employees. Companies such as Hobby Lobby argued the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, violated their 1st Amendment rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The White House and various liberal and feminist groups countered the Bill of Rights only applied to individuals. They also claimed women would be denied access to contraception or bear a great financial burden. The Supreme Court rejected those claims in a 5-4 decision. Nothing prohibited women from buying their own birth control devices/pills or the government paying their cost without infringing on the religious rights of others. Oddly, the court relied in part on their ruling on a law signed by former President William Clinton in 1993 called the "Religious Reformation Act" which reinforced Constitutional religious protections from being usurped by government.

I was disappointed the ruling only applied to closely held family corporations and the court stated the government could cover the costs of contraception. The widespread availability of oral contraception in the 1960's is one of the major causes of the debasement of Western civilization if not its demise. Average family sizes have shrunk below replacement levels and if it were not for illegal aliens flooding across the southern border, America's population would be declining like many countries throughout Europe. Demographics aside, contraception has led to moral decay and disintegration of the family unit. Casual sex and single parent families abound to the detriment of not only children but society at large. Incredibly, the government encourages this destructive and irresponsible behavior by forcing health care insurance providers and employers to pay for contraception. It also does so by providing welfare and various other financial support to single parents and children that are a product of broken homes.

Monday was a hot and humid day, but I was pleased guards kept the blower on. Almost directly across from my cell is a large fan mounted to the wall which in the winter heats air from hot water pipes. These pipes have been turned off and now it just acts like a ceiling fan circulating the air. However, what I like about it most is the whir of noise it makes drowning out all the yelling and other clamor in the cell house. Without my headphones on, I read a couple of newspapers at the front desk including parts of my cellmates Marine Corps Times.

Military veterans have been very concerned about the lack of or delay of medical treatment and I am very sympathetic to their complaints. The government has a strong obligation to these men who served their country and I do not believe they are adequately compensated. However, the fact that nearly half of these veterans are on some form of disability and that includes many with purported post traumatic stress disorder is ridiculous. The system is being abused and overburdened. Only veterans with combat or service related injuries should receive the greatly discounted medical treatment from the VA. Furthermore, PTSD and other ambiguous maladies should not crowd out those veterans with serious medical needs. I am reminded of how General Patton visited a medical unit behind the front lines in WWII. He slapped a soldier who was crying hysterically because of the psychological trauma of war while other men were clinging to life. This man was just a coward and taking much needed attention away from soldiers that had severe combat injuries.

The article I read in the newspaper was a good complement to the segment on 60 Minutes I had watched the previous day about social security disability. S.S. was created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the aftermath of the Great Depression which left many elderly Americans penniless and unable to earn an income. It was an incredibly small government program because very few people ever lived long enough to receive benefits. However, entitlement spending now makes up the largest portion of government expenditures. People are living much longer than they did nearly a century ago. Furthermore, like most socialistic programs, they have a tendency to expand and create greater public dependency. In 1974, S.S. was amended to include various other welfare programs including disability. The subject of the 60 Minutes program was the enormous fraud and growth of disability stipends since the beginning of Barack Obama's tenure as president. Numerous people after exhausting unemployment benefits seek disability and it has grown over 20% in the last 5 years.

At night I turned on my clear plastic television wedged between a cross beam and the upper bunk to watch the FOX hit show "24: Live Another Day". In this episode China's new aircraft carrier is torpedoed by a U.S. submarine. The submarine's commander had been given false orders from a rogue Chinese official with backing of the Russian government. Both sought a war between the U.S. and China. I wondered how the U.S. president in the TV show would handle the matter and speculated what Barack Obama would do. He has followed a policy of disengagement and pacifism in the world. American power has been allowed to wane across the globe and in its absence enemies abound.

Tuesday morning, the entire prison was on lockdown. For a moment, I thought it may be due to the strong thunderstorms which passed overnight. From television news I learned 300,000 homes in the Chicago metro area were without electrical power. Before I went to sleep, the power went out briefly, but there were not any further disruptions. I speculated Internal Affairs was expanding their investigation or the Orange Crush was conducting a larger search. Prisoners in C House were angry by the unnecessary lockdown and men screamed from their cells demanding Rec and commissary which were supposed to be run the previous day but were cancelled. I did not plan to go out anyway and exercised in the cell as I customarily do. While working out, I noticed Rob walking down the flight of stairs and gave him a look of puzzlement. It was a low level lockdown, however, almost all movement had ceased except for visits and some details. Later, I learned the skinhead checked himself into protective custody. I am not certain why but speculate he is trying to be transferred.

When I went to dinner, I learned the cause of the 1st shift lockdown was O.C. searching parts of the Roundhouse. Hooch had been permitted to go to his detail of scraping paint around the penitentiary and noticed the SORT dressed in their orange jumpsuits entering the building. It took a long time for chow lines to be run because there was a shortage of kitchen workers. Fewer than half of them were let out of their cells and there was only one serving line rather than two. Leprechaun expressed disappointment there was no pork being served as many prisoners were looking forward to. Instead, distasteful turkey-soy Sloppy Joes or what men call "Sloppy Soy" was dumped onto convicts' trays. The lieutenant who often gives Barack Obama credit for some reason when more edible food is served was not reciting K.O. or "King Obama" praises on this occasion. I told him as I left the chow hall that slop is representative of what the socialist tyrant wants to serve up to the American people. It may be free but is hardly good. Under his politburo, people would be standing in long lines for soup and stale bread.

Wednesday I awakened to find a sausage, two slices of bread, and still more potatoes on my breakfast tray. For three weeks, prisoners have been served the little spuds. I am not certain if they were donated or bought in bulk for a cheap price. However, I have grown tired of the food and dumped my tray into the nearby toilet which often acts as my garbage disposal unit. I did save the bread and made myself a peanut butter sandwich to eat while watching the first 20 minutes of news. The first news segment was about the U.S. losing to the Netherlands and being out of the World Cup Soccer Tournament being held in Brazil. Personally, I did not care and was not a big fan of soccer. Furthermore, the team the U.S. fielded did not strike me as quintessentially American. I actually identified more with the German soccer team and hoped they went on to win the cup.

I was glad to see a Polish nurse had returned to work this week after a short vacation. She was one of the few medical personnel at Stateville who did her job competently and had a strong work ethic. Many foreigners come to America with no skills and looking to sponge off government. They cross the border illegally and have no respect for the laws, culture, or founding principles of the republic. They are rather a growing multitude that seek to plunder and take down this country. When the nurse from Poland first began working at the penitentiary, I would question her why she would choose to work at this dump. Then I began to sarcastically ask her if she was having fun yet. Oddly, she would tell me she liked her job. However, finally she told me she was not having fun anymore. This is what happens when a few ants do all the work for the lazy and freeloading grasshoppers.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones broke 17,000 for the first time on a good jobs report bringing the unemployment rate down to just over 6%. However, behind this figure was a string of bad economic data largely ignored by investors. Although 288,000 jobs were created, there has been a rise in the number of people with part time work who are seeking full employment, almost 8 million. Then those who do have jobs have found wage growth stagnate or below the rate of inflation for the last 5 years. The labor force participation rate is also at a 36 year low at 62.8%. Interestingly, this coincides with another liberal president, Jimmy Carter. According to an analysis by Terrence P. Jeffrey, there are 86 million full time private sector workers in the U.S. paying taxes to support the government and its excesses, including 148 million Americans who receive some type of public aid or benefit. In retrospect, I wager a lot of people who voted for Barack Obama would rather now have Mitt Romney in office.

In this economy things do not look good for another public official. Governor Pat Quinn is losing in polls to businessman Bruce Rauner. In the last five years the governor has the stellar accomplishment of making Illinois have the highest unemployment rate and debt in the union. A court also just ruled that legislation passed last year to curb pension costs was in part unconstitutional. The state must abide by contracts with unions to pay for agreed upon health care costs. This will add $58 billion back onto the state's liabilities and give it the same credit rating as Kazakhstan. There will be a financial crisis if the entire pension reform bill is scrapped as a breach of contract. However, tax and spend Democrats will still have the support of unions even without the $20 million from dues they were collecting from non-state workers in Illinois.

On the prison yard, I heard convicts talk about how Internal Affairs was investigating some of the most preposterous claims of snitches. Men said they were looking for a hand gun and/or bullets purportedly brought into the penitentiary somehow. Another convict said they were following very questionable information there was an impending hit on a corrections officer. Trigger had in fact been brought to I.A.'s office along with some other gang or suspected gang members to be questioned. It did not surprise me they were pursuing such thin conspiracy theories. The guards union had successfully pressured administrators for an excess of security personnel and now with nothing to do they had to justify their existence periodically. At least the entire penitentiary was not locked down and harassed needlessly, although this was little comfort to those in B House who were on lockdown. They clamored for the warden so loud we could hear the pounding and yelling from the yard. The warden who actually showed up to listen to their complaints was thanked by a barrage of food and garbage being thrown at him. I am told he was even hit by a flying sausage.

Yesterday, on the 4th of July, I went out again to the yard. Occasionally, prisoners would hear the explosions of M-1,000s or quarter sticks of dynamite. However, there were no firework displays in the sky. It probably would have been ironic anyways if we had seen them over the 30 foot high maximum security walls. Since I had lifted weights the previous day, I finished my workout early and played a game of penalty kicks with Fat Pat on the lawn within the quarter mile track. Each of us took turns trying to score with the other acting as goalie. It was difficult getting the soccer ball past the fat man with a net the size used in hockey. Afterwards, a Mexican who barely speaks English asked me who won and to razz him I exclaimed, "USA 3, Mexico zero!"

In the confines of my prison cell as night fell and it became dark, I brooded about the irony of Independence Day. Mainly, I stared out the bars but occasionally I turned to look at my cellmate's television. He was watching some live show called "The 4th of July Jam Fest". I noticed an array of hip hop, R&B, and pop musicians playing music to the backdrop of fireworks and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. That may be where the Declaration of Independence was signed, however, I doubted modern America was what the founders of this country had in mind. Nearly all the values they so vehemently believed and fought for have been corrupted and usurped. The European culture and its people which settled the new world and created this uniquely exceptional democratic republic were also at a point of extinction. Many a night I go to sleep bitter and sad about my own injustice, but this time it was for the death knells of a once great nation.