Aug 282015
 

This anonymous essay comes from a friend of a friend with whom I do volunteer work.  I do not know who she is.  However, I have heard many stories from people who believed in the criminal justice system in this country, until they or a member of their family learned first hand that their experience was the polar opposite of what they had believed.  This is one mother’s reaction to such an experience.

July 26, 2015

0828thematrix5What I want people to know is what I’ve learned over the past two years – how my life is upside down both philosophically and emotionally. Philosophically, because what I learned, believed about our justice system is just thrown under the bus. I am angry. Angry at people who are charged with our wonderful, ideal system and have perverted it and made us all accomplices in torture and harm. We were standing shoulder to shoulder with prison guards who abuse prisoners; DAs and police who lie, who give up honesty and integrity to convict.

We became part of the problem. Only we didn’t even realize there was a problem. They lie. They suck us in to be their accomplices. We asked no questions. We believed them. No. We believed the idea of a system. We believed they were the embodiment of truth. They kept us safe from people who would harm us, who were really terrible people.

But what do they do? “Lose” evidence, lie to protect themselves, serve as judge and jury to convict whom they have decided is guilty. Screw looking at evidence. How did they get to the place where they are in such a hallowed system of our country, protecting our country’s ideals, being the keeper for those ideals and now corrupting those ideals.

Am I naïve? Not now. Was I? Yes. But I’m in the company of the majority of our country. I listen over and over and OVER again to “I had no idea how this system works! I was shocked to learn how it really works.” Problem is – no one does know until it happens. No one believes until it does happen.

I’m angry that I was blindsided. Is it my fault? Should I have known better? WHY SHOULD I!?!! Where’s the disconnect here? That our system as taught to high-schoolers is just too much of a fairy tale? I should know better than to believe such a fairy tale could actually work? Are the people in the justice system just laughing at me for being so naive?

Or is the disconnect in how people have subverted the ideal? The people who have gotten used to having it their way? People who have decide they are smarter than tedious “truth and justice” and will improve a hopelessly naïve system?

Are we in The Matrix*? They have created this fake world that they’ve sold us on that every thing is right in our world, that they have the knowledge and expertise to keep it the ideal it is.

But behind their words and assurances that create the perfect illusion is a world of crumbling, moldy, derelict laws. A blighted world wildly out of control with more and more laws, penalties, and incarcerations for longer and longer times. A world destroyed with smoking embers, blown out, burned down buildings, haunted people. Out of sight behind the illusion they create with their paternalistic, mesmerizing lies! Do we choose to believe their lies because it’s just easier? No! I think we believe because we truly believe that they are the pillars of our justice system. We hear their excuses—which they call “reasons”—and that reinforces what we already instinctively believe.

But now pieces of their façade may be cracking. Can they hold it together and continue to make us believe their fake world? We know what is really behind their world of “safety, justice and truth”. We’ve seen and heard the destroyed lives, the money taken from society and spent to warehouse people and then return wasted people with wasted lives and difficult options. The LIES – The harm – The self-supporting arguments.

What will it take to bring down the phony façade of a tough on crime, retribution, vengeance model of justice and return us to where most people already think we are: convicting wrong-doers but with consideration of mitigating or extenuating circumstances, incarcerating only people who are a threat and then rehabilitating them so they can live as successful citizens. Giving people a chance to pay for their crime and then re-joining society. Being humans helping humans.

My passion. I want people to know what I’ve learned. I want to shock them awake to what our criminal justice system has become. No, ladies and gentlemen, it is not what you believe it is.

Unfortunately, most of you will never really find that out. No, it’s not fortunate that you will never have a loved one, or yourself, caught up in this horrible system. It’s not fortunate that you’ll never have an accusation made at you of something you never did. It’s not fortunate that you get to keep living oblivious to how our criminal justice system has lost its way in mandatory sentencing. Because unless you are unfortunate enough to have personal contact with this devastating system, you won’t try to do something about it.

(From Wikipedia: The Matrix movie depicts a dystopian [an imaginary community or society that is undesirable or frightening] future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix", created by sentient machines to subdue the human population,)

Personally, I find what she has to say both believable and compelling.

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Jun 202015
 

Yesterday I completed all the little tasks that I have been putting off and paid bills.  I also cleaned my email boxes, a herculean task in itself, as I typically receive over 300 items on any given day.  The plan for the weekend is to blog, relax and do some solar basking.  Maybe I’ll even feel rested by Monday.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:12 (average 4:45).  To di it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Recruiting:

We still need two new players for Lefty Blog Friends, our fantasy football league.  How about you?  For more information, click here.

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: The Presidential candidate Donald Trump blasted Pope Francis on Friday, arguing that the Pontiff’s recent call to save the planet had largely overshadowed his “far more reckless” call to feed the poor.

“Look, if the Pope wants to spout off about climate change, that’s his prerogative, I guess,” Trump said. “But when he starts talking about feeding the poor, that is totally dangerous and irresponsible.”

“Every other candidate is ripping the Pope’s comments about climate change,” he added. “I’m the only one in this race who seems to have noticed his truly crazy talk about feeding people.”

Trump said that, as President, it would be his job not to feed the poor “but to keep them from getting into the country in the first place.”

“We need to build a wall they’re too hungry to climb,” he said.

Andy has found the place where Trump’s soul should be. But Republicans have ass-souls instead of souls.  Trump must think that Jesus fed 5,000 billionaires.

From Daily Kos: On Wednesday night, nine African-Americans were gunned down by a vile, racist killer as they attended a Bible study class at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME church. And now Charles Cotton, a "dedicated" board member of the NRA—perhaps tiring of his political soul mates’ attempts to shift the blame from racism to religious intolerance for the mass murder—decided to weigh in with his own explanation of who was really to blame for this horrific act of domestic terrorism: One of the murder victims. In a discussion on TexasCHLforum, it is pointed out that one of the victims was State Senator Clementa Pinckney. Said Cotton of the murdered public servant and pastor of the church:

And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.

I think I’m going to puke.

From Crooks and Liars: I’ll bet this is not that unusual. What’s unusual, I think, is that the student finally refused to comply:

A former Delaware State University volleyball player is now suing her old school for allegedly serving up religious discrimination.

Natalia Mendieta claims she lost her athletic scholarship after she refused to attend church or participate in Bible studies – optional activities that were reportedly made mandatory by her coach.

Had this been a religious institution or religious college, this would not be an issue. The focus of this lawsuit is on a taxpayer supported state university.

The allegation is that a newly hired coach violated a student’s first amendment rights.

The coach should be immediately fired. However, I worry that, if she is, she might end up in Congress.

Cartoon:

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Jun 192015
 

I’m still very tired after yesterday’s visit to the Orthopedist, but not so much so that I come empty handed.  One thing really impressed me about them.  When I was done, I had to wait for the LIFT bus for an hour and a half in a small alcove on the ground floor.  Knowing I would be stuck there people from their office came down to check on me three separate times.  I consider that superior service.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:29 (average 4:53).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Recruiting:

We still need two new players for Lefty Blog Friends, our fantasy football league.  How about you?  For more information, click here.

Short Takes:

From MoveOn: Ideas to Save the Economy: End Mass Incarceration

 

The Reich on the left is right again, as I know so well. I would add a #5. Switch from retributive justice to restorative justice. This is the tenth and final video of the series. Click through to MoveOn to share it from there. Bringing this series to you has been a privilege.

From Daily Kos:

In 2014, I published two stories about the surreptitious attempts by the Koch brothers to bribe their way into the academic freedom and integrity of FSU/Florida State University. The most recent story can be found in this link. For several years, FSU students, along with faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens have been adamantly dissenting the Koch influence on campus. One of the many dedicated and relentless activists in the movement is Ralph Benton Wilson. This week he contacted me with some promising news:

"FSU students have released a report (May 28th) revealing new evidence regarding the university’s agreement with the CFK/Charles Koch Foundation. Not only does the report find that the Koch agreement violates FSU’s donor policy but, contrary to university claims, the agreement was found to violate academic policy by a 2011 faculty senate investigation whose numerous findings appear to have been suppressed until being published in the student report. (Other suppressed findings include the manner in which the agreement was "forced" upon the department through threats and intimidation despite severe faculty dissent.)"

"The student report makes several recommendations which have been submitted as public comment in FSU’s current review of its donor policy. As of June 4, FSU has conceded to half of the recommendations in the student report, but we are continuing to pressure them to accept the remaining recommendations. A new public comment period is open until midnight, June 25. We are calling on the public to submit comment so that we may once and for all have a donor policy that protects FSU from the undue influence of any donor."

Wilson also sent several links, which I have included below.

If the Koch Brothers are trying to steal FSU and convert it to a propaganda mill, you can be sure they are doing so all over. Check locally to make sure you’re colleges and universities are not forced to teach only how to suck … nevermind.

From Media Matters: Fox’s Steve Doocy: It’s Extraordinary That Charleston Church Shooting Is Being Called A Hate Crime

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

I don’t know where they got that "pastor", but because is title is "Bishop" I have a pretty good guess. The Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, is acting as if SC did not already have a long history of racist violence against black churches, so they can misrepresent this incident as part of the left wing war, which does not exist, against Christianity. Not only that, the shooter is clearly a White Supremacist.

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May 162015
 

It’s another thoroughly busy day.  I pulled out my old notebook computer.  It’s been sitting in the suitcase without being touched for the last six months.  So far, I’ve updates my AV program, Firefox, Flash, Java, CCleaner, Glary Utilities.  Then Microsoft Update stared, and that might take a couple days.  I figure it will take six days of wok to use it on a three day trip.  ARGH!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today‘s took me 3:21 (average 4:43).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: This reporter turned the tables on a group of men who tried to disrupt her work, and it’s awesome.

 

 

And I thought Canadians were so polite! 😉 They acted like Republicans.

From Daily Kos: What does it take to make Republicans want to keep religious leaders out of politics? A pope who disagrees with them, apparently. Pope Francis’ recognition of a Palestinian state is just the latest of the pontiff’s positions that have Republican politicians trying to put him in his place.

“It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation, and that’s what the Church is supposed to do,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), a hawkish defender of Israel.

So … Republicans get to use religion as a political club, but actual religious leaders should stay the hell out. We’ve got Texas Republicans trying to block marriage equality from being enacted, whatever the Supreme Court decides. We’ve got House Republicans passing yet another anti-abortion bill based more on religion than science. We’ve got an avalanche of bills legalizing discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

Republicans object to political action that stems from authentic faith, especially when it counters their own hatred. It is legal, because it is not imposed on others. Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christianity is the polar opposite.

From NY Times: The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office is combing through more than 150 criminal cases of black suspects arrested by Miami Beach police officers who wrote or received racist emails, the latest in a series of high-profile episodes around the nation that have raised troubling questions about the relations between the police and the communities they serve.

Two ranking officers at the Miami Beach Police Department sent about 230 emails that contained racist and sexist jokes and pornography from 2010-12, Chief Dan Oates announced Thursday. A former police captain, who had been demoted to lieutenant, was fired, and a major retired before the investigation was made public.

Fourteen other officers received the emails, the police department said.

Police Officer is clearly too responsible a position to give to Republicans like these.

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Apr 302015
 

I’m still dealing with considerable pain, but not enough to shut me down completely.  In addition, I’m rewarding myself for writing with  a kitty sun nap, as our high will be over 70°.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:55 (average 5:05). To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: There’s something timeless about this American classic that America can’t seem to outgrow.

 

I first read To Kill a Mocking Bird in 1962. I was 12. I identified with it, because my father’s extreme racism was so offensive to me. It certainly has a message for today. Click through for five lessons that still apply.

From Daily Kos: Some nasty, malevolent wingnut took it on himself to spoil a kindergarten concert in Iowa by yelling "USA! English Only!" over and over when the concert was introduced first in English, and then by a Spanish translator to accommodate Spanish speaking toddlers and their parents.

This occurred last week at the local Performing Arts Center in Perry, Iowa, about 40 miles Northwest of Des Moines, during a concert by Perry Elementary School students.  The incident was caught on a 12-second video and provided to the Perry News.

 

They may mot know who this shameful racist is, but we’ve seen this TEAbuggery so much, that what he is, is clear. He is a Republican.

From Crooks and Liars: Let’s hope Jon Stewart was right when he said this about the oral arguments we heard this week on gay marriage in front of the Supreme Court.

STEWART: Bottom line is this. If oral arguments have any impact on the final result, June’s going to be a nice time for a gay wedding.

Amen to that. Stewart started off his show this Wednesday by going after the wingnuts [sic] on the Supreme Court and former solicitor general of Michigan John Bursch, and the extremely lame arguments we heard from them against the issue of same-sex marriage.

Now that Republicans have had their oral arguments, it’s time for them to get their anal arguments. Hold the KY. 😉

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Apr 252015
 

RepublicansOnParade3

Here is the sixty-ninth article in our Republicans on Parade series, featuring individuals who personify what the Republican Party has become. Today’s honoree is Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME). He is so honored for the Republican way in which he is making government smaller and less intrusive.

0425LePageMaine is poised to ban food stamps recipients from buying certain types of food that Governor Paul LePage (R) and conservatives in the legislature deem to be “junk.”

The legislation LePage supports claims that “the purchase of unhealthy products is antithetical to the purpose of the [food stamps] program.” But the definition of “unhealthy” that the bill uses is quite broad, and would prohibit the purchase of a range of groceries that are not exempt from sales tax under Maine law. That means alcohol, soda, unprescribed [sic] dietary supplements, seltzer and bottled water, sweets, “and prepared food.”

The law goes even further than the tax code to prohibit food stamps from being used for bulk purchases of groceries that could be considered “prepared food” if they were bought individually. According to state tax guidelines, that includes packaged deli meats, large jars of spaghetti sauce, and pickles, among other things.

Burdening the poorest with more rules is in vogue with Republicans these days. Kansas recently passed sweeping new restrictions on EBT card usage, and one Missouri legislator has proposed a far-reaching nutritional rule that would prohibit buying seafood and steak – even cheap staple proteins like canned tuna and low-grade beef – with food stamps…

Inserted from <Think Progress>

LePage personifies the Republican approach to small government.  For minorities, it’s small enough to fot in your voting booth.  For women, it’s small enough to fit in your vagina.  Now, for the poor, it’s small enough to fit in your skillet.

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Apr 252015
 

I have a very busy day with volunteer projects to get done, and a three day volunteer trip to Salem to plan for next month.  I hope you are all enjoying tour Spring weekend.  It’s still rainy here.

Jug Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:42 (average 4:38).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From AP: John Legend has launched a campaign to end mass incarceration.

The Grammy-winning singer announced the multiyear initiative, FREE AMERICA, on Monday. He will visit and perform at a correctional facility on Thursday in Austin, Texas, where he also will be part of a press conference with state legislators to discuss Texas’ criminal justice system.

"We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country," Legend said in an interview. "It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration."

Legend, 36, will also visit a California state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C., later this month. The campaign will include help from other artists — to be announced — and organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.

Kudos! This is so necessary!

From Blue Oregon: Stand up to the gun lobby and pass SB 941

Gun violence claims too many lives. In the past two years, reasonable gun safety proposals haven’t even gotten a vote in the Oregon Legislature.

But it’s a new day. The Oregon Firearm Safety Act would expand the background checks system to individual sales (in addition to gun shops and gun shows). It will close a loophole that is used by those who want to circumvent background checks.

It’s reasonable. It’s modest. And it doesn’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.

Sign the petition and let’s make Oregon safer.

This for mainly Oregonians, and I support it fully! Click through to sign.

From Daily Kos:On November 26, 2013, 38-year-old Ervin Edwards, partially deaf and mentally ill, was arrested by police for sagging his pants and taken to the West Baton Rouge Parish jail in Louisiana. He only lived for a few more minutes inside of the cell.

For 18 months, police have lied over and over again about what happened the night Ervin Edwards died in their custody. Now that a video of their despicable actions has been released, it’s clear they murdered this man and left him to die all alone in his jail cell. The Advocate has provided an annotated video.

 

Click through for the lies. This is how Republican police handle the crime of saggy pants.

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