Today is Labor Day

September 2, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Good afternoon:

Today is Labor Day in the United States. This day used to be celebrated with parades and speeches by public officials in cities large and small throughout the country. I doubt there will be many parades or speeches honoring the labor movement today because Republicans despise it and the Democratic Party, which was its stalwart defender for many years has ceased to support it.

Instead, the Democratic Party aggressively supports free market capitalism, an economic policy that has encouraged corporate America to relocate factories foreign countries and outsource millions of jobs. Job flight has resulted in an effective rate of unemployment around 15%.

Persistent unemployment and low demand for products and services is a major cause of our moribund economy because people do not have money to spend. So long as demand remains low, businesses have little incentive to increase their inventories and hire employees.

Labor created a prosperous middle class and no American should forget that. Today the middle class is disappearing and that is one of the greatest tragedies of these times.

In other news, Diana Nyad is close to completing her solitary open ocean swim from Cuba to Florida. She is the first human to have accomplished that task. Remarkable accomplishment.

Word from the capitol is that Congress is going to take approximately one week to decide whether to support or oppose President Obama’s idea to bomb Syria.


What should someone in an abusive relationship do to get out of it?

August 30, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Good morning:

Great comments on the Shellie Zimmerman thread.

With a few exceptions, seems like a consensus has been reached that Shellie is an abused wife who has not been emotionally, and perhaps financially, supported by her husband and his family. Their absence at her plea and sentencing certainly indicates a lack of emotional support. That absence speaks volumes about who and what they are, particularly since she obviously committed the lie to benefit him.

Some believe she is every bit as much a grifter as he is and her apparent abandonment by him and his family is just another scam the two of them are running with a possible tell-all book/movie project in the works.

Some of you caught her in the lie about her nursing education. The lie would be apparent to anyone with a background in nursing. That is, her absence of clinical experience would negate her claim because one cannot get to where she claims to be with only on-line classes. She appears not to even realize that her lie would be instantly discovered.

That lack of awareness on her part indicates that she was never serious about becoming a nurse.

If she was never serious about becoming a nurse, what is she serious about?

If, as I suspect, the answer is George Zimmerman, she has a lot of growing to do before she breaks free from his grasp.

I noticed in the comments that several of you have been involved in abusive relationships and successfully disengaged from them.

Assuming Shellie is involved in an abusive relationship and is seeking to break free, what do you believe she should do?

I realize that this is a complicated subject that I know little about and I do not want to pry or open old wounds, so no one should feel like they have to participate.

Let’s simplify and take Shellie out of the discussion, since we do not know for certain what her situation is.

The question for discussion: What should someone in an abusive relationship do to get out of it?

I’m going to create an open thread for those who want to discuss or comment on other matters.

One possible subject was just raised by Secretary of State, John Kerry, who asked the American public to review newly unclassified documents about the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons to kill and subdue its own people. What should our government do about it, he asks.


I Have a Dream Speech

August 24, 2013


Pop the Socket FAIL

August 24, 2013

by Crane-Station with Author’s note: Frog Gravy is a nonfiction account of incarceration in Kentucky, first in jails and then in prison, during 2008 and 2009, and is reconstructed from my notes.

Inmate names are changed, except nicknames that do not reveal identity.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

McCracken County Jail, Cell 107, sometime in February, 2008

Horse

Horse. Jail art by Crane-Station on flickr. Colored pencil, magazine ink.

Pop the Socket FAIL

On the way out of a 15-minute weekly visit with my husband (behind bullet-proof glass), I stop in the booking area to wait for a guard to take me back to the cell. On the wall in this area is posted a laundry list of jailhouse offenses that can get us more time than we already have. I scan the list. Then I see an address in Frankfort for grievances.

My hand flies to my pocket, and I fumble for a no-shank pen and paper. I jot only crucial numbers, street names. I commit the Frankfort zip code to memory, quickly.

The guard approaches and says, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you writing the address to Frankfort?”

“Yeah.”

“They don’t do nuthin’ for you.”

“I want to get to PeWee as soon as possible.” (PeWee, or KCIW is the penitentiary for women in the Louisville area)

“I mean, even if you work for them they won’t do nuthin. C’mon now, let’s go.”

“…next bus. PeWee…”

“PeWee? You been final sentenced?”

“Yes.”

I think the guard was concerned that I might write a grievance to Frankfort, explaining some of the jail conditions. Which is exactly what I do. There is absolutely nothing else to do, in fact, but write Frankfort. I write everything down, names, times, dates, events, including the pregnancy disaster, and run it all in to Frankfort.

In the cell, back in my own insanity, I fix the towel back onto my head. I find myself in a very unusual situation. I am all alone in the cell. And I have tobacco. And a lighter.

I am so gonna smoke.

In honor of one of the religious in-cell handouts that pictures a multi-headed beast and labels it “The beast of Revelation 13:1-10 symbolizes the papacy,” I have chosen, from a pocket-sized book of rolling papers labeled “The New Testament” and placed in plain view on the windowsill, a page from St. John’s Revelation, to roll the tobacco in and smoke it.

The Beast of Revelation

I am seated at the steel table alone, with a towel on my head, surrounded by notes, papers, and origami cranes. Some of my notes are just random, the sort of thing that an insane, entombed person might write:

“Purest of gold walks through the hottest of fires.”

and

“Israelites’ journey in the desert has to do with poisonous snakes, their bite caused death. People complained to God. He told Moses to fashion a bronze snake- anyone bitten who looked at it would be cured. Modern symbol of medicine.”

I scan the hallway for traffic as though I am about to rob a bank, and seeing no one, I flick the lighter. Nothing happens. Flick flick click click flick click fuck FUCK.

My memory banks kick in. I recall bits of some early conversations in the cell about how to light things.

“…two double A batteries on a steel table and…”

Nope. No batteries.

“…ghost lighting. Guys do it all the time. Just roll the lighter backward….”

Here I sit, in an orange jail suit with a towel on my head, trying to roll a lighter backward on a steel table to create a spark, only the little roller thingies are stuck and they don’t even roll, forward or backward. I hold the lighter up to the light, turn it upside down and focus. There is no fluid in this lighter.

This is starting to suck.

“…pop the socket. Just take a piece of foil, or metal, hold it with tissue, stick it in the socket, and it creates a spark….”

I am a madman. By miracle, I find a paper clip and straighten it out.

“…or you can unplug the TV a little, then touch metal to the metal on the TV cord. See how the TV plug is damaged? Some jails paint the plate but not this one…”

Just about the time the TV wall socket plate parallaxes into my insane view and I begin to formulate a plan, the steel door opens and in walks Ruthie.

I look like the cat that ate the canary. She says, “What are you doing?”

I spit out a canary feather, adjust the towel and ask, “Do you have any idea how to pop the socket? Because if you do, I’ll share this with you.”

Ruthie is beside herself with giddy excitement. “Hell yeah I know how to pop the socket I seen it before! Hahahahahaaa, we gonna smoke!” She runs to her bunk, gets a cup, then goes to the toilet and fills the cup with water, brings the cup to the steel table, sets it down, and says, “Here. You’ll need this.” She also produces a length of toilet tissue and says, “and this. You’ll need this too.”

I ask a question that made sense at the time: “What do you do with the water? I mean, I don’t really think it mixes too well with electricity.”

Ruthie says (I swear to God): “Yeah. You wrap the paper clip in tissue, then dip it in the water, and then jam the wet part into the socket!”

I think I am actually living inside of a Roadrunner cartoon, where there is always something that you want but cannot get, so you are always hungry and pissed off, and in the end there is always an explosion where you die and everyone laughs. The steel door opens again. In walks Christie and Tina. Christie says, “What are you guys doing?”

“We were just about to pop the socket.”

“Rachel! God dammit, I thought you were smarter than that! Y’all are going to kill yourselves!” says Christie.

“Don’t ever use God’s name like that again,” snaps Tina.

“Yeah, Christie,” I say. “Use motherfucker instead. It’s more polite.”

“I can’t believe you guys,” she says.

“Well, quit runnin your dicksucker and show us how to do this right, then,” I say, “Before two more people walk in and then we gotta share this thing with six people. This is not a six-people cigarette. And I’m not cutting it with banana peels again, so don’t even go there.”

“Okay,” she says. “But keep the water. You’ll need it.”

“What for?”

“The explosion.”

“What explosion!?”

Christie addresses me as if I am a child. “When you pop the socket, it creates a huge spark. You catch it on a Maxipad. The pad catches fire. You will need the water to put the fire out.”

“You cannot possibly be serious.”

She is.

“And stick that paper clip into a plastic no-shank pen sleeve,” she adds. “To keep from getting electrocuted.”

We partially unplug the TV, lay the clip across the prongs and there is, quite literally, a huge popping sound, a spark, and a Maxipad fire.

But there is more. We have knocked out the television to all of the cells in the hallway for the entire weekend and, of course since everyone knows who the idiots were, the guards were not at all amused, so they just went ahead and left our TV off for ten days.

The yells start coming from the other cells: “MotherFUCKER!! You bitches knocked out our TV!”

And Harry, down the hall in his isolation cell, “Let me out! Helpmehelpmehelpme HELP! SOMEBODY!! Hellllllp me!”

While the TV is off and I am coming up with insane plans because there is nothing else to do, I decide that a TV show called, “How To Survive Jail Hellhole.” Today we will discuss all of the uses for toothpaste, tomorrow, we will make dominoes out of toilet paper, and the next day we will be popping the socket.


The Moral Responsibility of Democracy

August 22, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Good morning to all:

Bradley Manning was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for disclosing information that embarrassed the United States government and its military. I believe the sentence is an abomination and yet another injury to our nation’s reputation as the defender of liberty and democracy.

We know people by what they do rather than by what they say. Our Founding Fathers knew that meaningful liberty and democracy cannot exist, if the governed are prohibited from knowing what the government and its military are doing. They designed the First Amendment to protect our rights to liberty and democracy by the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Assembly Clauses in the First Amendment.

The First Amendment provides:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We were lied into a war in Iraq when we were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and he was providing succor to Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda.

The War in Iraq has caused incalculable death, damage and suffering to the people of Iraq and to our men and women who served and continue to serve there. The killing continues in Iraq as opposing religious factions kill each other in an effort to settle grievances and gain control of the government.

We cannot undue the harm but we can and must do everything possible to prevent our government and military from repeating the errors of the past.

Bradley Manning is a genuine American hero and patriot because when he discovered what was being done in our names in Iraq, he realized that we needed to know the truth. He could have chosen to do nothing. That would have been the easy choice. He could have decided not to release the documents because they were classified as secret. Instead, he realized that he had a moral responsibility that compelled him to release the documents, despite the risk of harm to himself. He attempted to minimize that risk by releasing the documents anonymously to Wikileaks, but that did not work out.

Now that we know the truth, we have the moral responsibility to do something with the information to assure that our government and its military never repeats the errors of the past. No amount of self-deceit can eliminate that responsibility.

We are learning an important lesson about democracy and the lesson is that the right to choose our leaders means that we are responsible for what they do in our names.

Because of that heavy responsibility, we have a duty to get informed and remain informed about our government and what it is doing.

The First Amendment acknowledges that we have a right to know what our government and its military are doing by prohibiting Congress from restricting the freedom of the press to publish information and our freedom to speak about that information and assemble with others to discuss it and “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Glenn Greenwald knows that responsibility and takes it seriously.

No one who knew what they were talking about ever said that democracy was easy.


Frog Gravy: Ricky’s World

August 22, 2013

by Crane-Station

Good morning! I was away to see family for a while, but have returned. I have been working on editing Frog Gravy, the incarceration account, adding new material and organizing the essays into order. The posts online are random, but they give a good picture inside incarceration.

We are also going to try to get the website so that others can post, and invite feedback about what cases to follow.

Ricky’s World

Author’s note: Frog Gravy is a depiction of daily living during incarceration in Kentucky, during the years 2008 and 2009, and is reconstructed from my notes. Names are changed, except in this case, Ricky is a real name. Nicknames that do not reveal identity are also unchanged.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

Belly Of The Beast: Ricky’s World. Fulton County Detention Center, early May, 2008.

After committing a major game misconduct by writing the Governor, various government agencies in Frankfort and Washington, about thirty other people, and a newspaper in Louisville, I am transferred out of McCracken County Jail to the famed Fulton County Detention Center also known as ‘Ricky’s World.’ I will become known in the inmate world as the one that wrote herself out of McCracken County Jail.

I first heard of Ricky’s World when I was in the hole after my trial (My judge wanted me in the hole. We had an adversarial courtroom history and would add to it before we uh, ‘divorced.’)

A woman in the hole with me in McCracken said that when she was at Ricky’s World playing truth-or-dare, she ate pussy on a steel table in the cell on a dare, and the next day, Ricky called her into his office and said, “You mean to tell me that you ate pussy on mah dinner table?”

Ricky’s World is a privately owned and operated jail in Hickman, KY. The jailer’s first name is Ricky. Ricky is an enormous man, the size of a tree.

Ricky’s World is famed in the Kentucky inmate community as being one of the places where the ‘worst of the worst’ are shipped.

Since Hickman is an hour away from my husband, he will have to drive two hours each week for his fifteen-minute visit. This is a source of personal amusement for the judge.

During my ride to Ricky’s World, two guards in the front seat discuss slaughtering chickens, planting vegetables and shopping at WalMart and in the back seat a male inmate and I discuss our legal cases.
On arrival I am placed in a hole that doubles as a holding cell for an hour, and I do step-ups on the cement ledge for an hour. A tray arrives through the food slot but I am only able to positively identify the cookies, so I eat two cookies for lunch.

A guard retrieves me to check me into the facility, produces a sturdy 30-gallon black garbage bag with the whole of my new life in it and upends the contents onto the cement floor in front of the front desk in the jail entryway. She begins to paw through the contents consisting of, to my shock and utter horror, all of the mail, pictures, books and magazines that my family had attempted to send me in McCracken.

I observe her for about five minutes and assume, without internal debate on the merits, that she is high. She finally says, “You are a State inmate. I will let you have all of this.” I silently thank God and we head to the cell. We pass a large men’s population cell and head down a hallway with wolf whistles and cat calls receding. The long hallway is painted a depressing grey and the walk actually slopes downward, even though the facility is on ground level, giving the feel of decent into an actual dungeon. Adding to this feel is the fact that none of the cells we pass have windows of any kind. The atmosphere is dark.

We arrive at a door to a cell, and the guard accompanying me fumbles with the keys for a bit, then hands them to me, and says, “Here, you open it.”

The cell is a twelve-person cement room that houses several people on the unfinished cement floor in addition to four rows of three-tiered steel bunks, for a total of nineteen or twenty inmates. When the door closes, I notice how dark it is compared to McCracken and I am thankful, yet disoriented by the lack of any windows to a hallway, as well as the lack of a clock.

I claim a space on the floor and notice that most of the cell occupants are someplace else. Another inmate sees what I notice and says, “They’re at rec. Out there with all the drama. How much time you got?”

“Eight years,” I say. “More time than that woman at PeWee that boiled her baby and fed it to her husband.”

Two inmates, Tiki and Brooke, are seated at a PlayStation. There is even a microwave, I note with increasing thankfulness.

TiKi is younger than my son, has been here for a year, and is a War on Drugs inmate that will go home soon on the Governor’s new early release program.

TiKi is playing “Grand Theft Auto” on the PlayStation.

On the screen, a criminal runs up and down a city street with a nightstick, mercilessly beating the hell out of innocent pedestrians. He runs to the driver’s side of a stopped car, opens the door, throws the driver onto the street, and steals the car.

Brooke asks, “Is this the one where he takes the prostitute into the woods and fucks her?”

TiKi’s car thief picks up a streetwalker and drives to the woods with her and stops. On the screen the car starts rocking, and she says, “Look at the car move faster and faster, and when she’s done she gets out.”

The car stops rocking and the hooker gets out. TiKi says, “Now look. He shoots her and steals her money.”

After killing the prostitute and stealing her money, the car thief returns to the car and drives away, running over several pedestrians on the sidewalk.

TiKi’s thief stops at a pay phone, gets on the phone and says, “I want to show these punk-ass bitches how a real drive-by works.”

The callee asks, “Don’t you just shoot ‘em like you always do?”

“Can’t just shoot ‘em in a drive-by shooting, dickhead. You gotta be in a car,” answers the thief. “I’m gonna show these people how to shoot from the car. What do you think?”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” says the callee.

TiKi is frustrated. She says, “I cain’t git the gun to aim the way I want it to, oh hail. You cain’t just shoot ‘em, gotta be in a car, it’s a drive-by. This is pissin’ me the fuck off motherfucker-you-just-shot-me-you-stupid-prick.”

Author’s end note: For those of you familiar with Grand Theft Auto, my recall of the telephone conversation above may not be word-for-word accurate. It is, however, in essence what I heard.


Open Thread

August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Good afternoon to all of our friends.

I am posting an open thread because I have been distracted by developments in Egypt, Syria, Japan and the United States.

What’s on your mind?

Fred


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