Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Psychopaths in Power: Why Texas is the 'Gulag State'

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

An innocent man has been executed in the Gulag State of Texas. This man, whose innocence is now proven, is the ultimate price paid for endemic, state-sponsored idiocy and even less excusable psychopathy. Educational standards have declined under fascist GOP regimes --prominently Bush Jr and his successor Rick Perry. Incarceration rates have risen; justice is applied inequitably. The deaths of innocents at the hands of a psychopathic, GOP dominated state is the price that is paid for allowing the GOP any influence, any power.
A report published today in the New Yorker finds that Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 in Texas for setting a fire that killed his three daughters, was innocent. He is pictured at left with his two-year-old daughter Amber, who died in the fire.

This is incredibly sad news, but it also marks the most conclusive evidence yet that an innocent person has been put to death in the United States. We’ve known for years that the arson science used to convict Willingham was flat-out wrong. Today’s New Yorker report goes further: it dismantles the case that sent Willingham to his death, point-by-point, proving that every shred of evidence used against him was false.

Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck wrote in the Huffington Post: "There can no longer be any doubt that an innocent person has been executed. The question now turns to how we can stop it from happening again."

And the New York Times adds, in an editorial today: "The Willingham investigation, which is continuing, is further evidence that the criminal justice system is far too flawed to justify imposing a death penalty."

I strongly, strongly urge you to read David Grann’s incredible New Yorker piece in its entirety. I can’t imagine that you can leave the story with trust in our system of capital punishment.

--New Yorker: Texas Executed an Innocent Man
Texas is about 50 years behind the the US, much more so compared to Europe. Minorities --primarily black and Hispanic --are disproportionately represented in the Texas gulag system but under represented in the State legislature, the various city councils, and the state judicial system.

Many studies have shown that all crimes increase in death penalty states. I doubt that anyone knows why that is the case but the verifiable numbers prove conclusively that that is the case in fact. I would venture an hypothesis: the death penalty creates and/or encourages a society in which life itself is not valued to the same degree as it is in non-death penalty states. Of the variables, it is difficult to say which is the cause, which is the effect.

In any case, states without the death penalty have consistently lower murder rates. The death penalty is medieval, barbaric, ineffective. Its effect is measurable if it cannot be explained. Simply --the death penalty does not and will never deter crimes of any sort. There is, therefore, no RATIONAL reason for the state to continue murdering folk. It is not merely crazy and psychopathic to keep on doing it, it is counter-productive and immoral.

States Without the Death Penalty Have Better Records on Homicide

A new survey by the New York Times found that states without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than states with the death penalty. The Times reports that ten of the twelve states without the death penalty have homicide rates below the national average, whereas half of the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above. During the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48% - 101% higher than in states without the death penalty. "I think Michigan made a wise decision 150 years ago," said the state's governor, John Engler, a Republican, referring to the state's abolition of the death penalty in 1846. "We're pretty proud of the fact that we don't have the death penalty."

--New York Times, 9/22/00, Death Penalty Information Center

Texas, though it boasts of its 'oil' economy', has apparently forgotten that Texas has not occupied a position of prominence with regard to petroleum production since it was discovered that bombing Iraq and killing civilians there was much, much cheaper than are the expensive secondary recovery methods by which big lying oil companies squeeze a few more gallons out of all but abandoned oil fields in West Texas. It's called 'secondary recovery'. It is very expensive, often not profitable. It is cheaper and easier to con the American public into supporting wars of aggression in which it is known that a primary military objective is the siezure of oil fields!

Why spend millions exploring for oil when you can just steal fields that are already productive? The cost of bombing the crap out of the oil's rightful owners?? That is of no interest to the 'oil barons' of Texas who, in fact, produce very little oil. Is is easier to con the American public. It is easier to let the U.S. military seize the oil fields that are still productive. The US taxpaper is stuck with the tab; the oil barons are off the hook.

So-called 'free enterprise' --irrationally revered by Texans, scumbaggers (tea baggers) and rednecks --has robbed millions of children of a decent education and as many poor of justice in a state ruled by the oil elites.
  • Texas --Bush style --provides the residents of Texas with some of the nation's very worst crime and incarceration rates;
  • Texas subjects the residents of Texas to deteriorating air quality and wanton ecosystem destruction;
  • Texas can boast of the the nation's very worst murder, crime and incarceration rates!
  • Texas --a state that now leads the nation in pollution, crime, and illiteracy --should be studied by any other state wishing to avoid a similar disastrous fate.
I am of the confirmed opinion that the rise of crime in Texas is concurrent with the rise of the Texas GOP. I suggest that the fascist policies that now dominate the political and cultural life and environment of Texas spawns crime and creates the conditions in which it is nurtured and survives.
Still, most people are now ashamed to admit that punishment is based on vengeance and, for that reason, various excuses and apologies have been offered for the cruelty that goes with it. Some of the more humane, or “squeamish,” who still believe in punishment, contend that the object of this infliction is the reformation of the victim. This, of course, cannot be urged of the death penalty or even punishment for life, or for very long-term sentences. In these cases there is neither inducement to reform nor any object in the reformation. No matter how thorough the reform, the prisoner never goes back to society, or he returns after there is no longer a chance for him to be of use to the world or to enjoy life.

--Clarence Darrow, Crime: It's Cause and Treatment
Tea Baggers are Scumbaggers!

Recently --Texas Gov Rick Perry's boisterous audience of schizoid idiots were caught waving US flags even as they shouted: SECEDE! It might have been funny if these folk were not so tragically STUPID! Think about it --traitors to the US, favoring secession from the US waving US flags. IDIOTS! Is 'secession' from the US necessarily 'treason'? Well --the US just prior to the Civil War certainly thought so and fought and won a Civil War to prove the point. In any case, waving US flags while advocating secession is absurd if not downright moronic!

Secede?? Perhaps the US Should Throw Texas Out, Deny Them Federal Aid Until They Address the Human Rights Abuses in the Fascist Prison System!

Clearly, scumbaggers...uh...tea baggers result from the monumental failure of Texas to educate its young. It is a tragic lapse of values. It is as well an utter failure of policy and budget priorities resulting in Texas' humiliating failure to educate its younger generations. What is to be said of a society that cannot or worse --will not --educate its young? Answer: nothing good!

Nevertheless, Perry is said to have 'fired up an anti-tax tea party with an old Southern mantra: 'states' rights'. I say 'state's right' is just a code word for old-time, old South bigotry. The term should raise as many hackles as do terms like 'nigger' and 'Sambo'! 'State's rights' should be a wake up call to a black community that was since the end of the Civil War denied the the civil rights that were accorded 'white folk' without controversy. My sympathies are not misplaced; my own ancestors --Native Americans --were the object of genocide, rounded up, denied properties that had been recognized by the US government, expelled, marched hundreds of miles to 'concentration camps'.

I doubt that this or any other so-called 'tea party' was exceptionally stupid! It was, rather, typically stupid, based on generations in which old bigotries, prejudices and ignorance were passed down and encouraged. Until the scumbaggers change their tune, I will urge them, rather, to return from whence they came. This land is MY land!

Texas is the Number One Backwater in Education
The school board in this impoverished rural hamlet in North Texas has drawn national attention with its decision to let some teachers carry concealed weapons, a track no other school in the country has followed. The idea is to ward off a massacre along the lines of what happened at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

“Our people just don’t want their children to be fish in a bowl,” said David Thweatt, the schools superintendent and driving force behind the policy. “Country people are take-care-of-yourself people. They are not under the illusion that the police are there to protect them.”

Even in Texas, with its tradition of lenient gun laws and frontier justice, the idea of teachers’ taking guns to class has rattled some people and sparked a fiery debate.

Gun-control advocates are wringing their hands, while pro-gun groups are gleeful. Leaders of the state’s major teachers unions have expressed stunned outrage, while the conservative Republican governor, Rick Perry, has endorsed the idea.

--In Texas School, Teachers Carry Books and Guns, New York Times
Texas Is No. One; Leads the Nation in Executions
When Justice Byron White wrote the Enmund decision in 1982, he observed that the Court was not aware of a single execution of someone who did not kill or intend to kill. What a difference another quarter-century makes. Months after Enmund was decided, Texas executed its first prisoner since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In the tidal wave of capital cases that followed, numerous defendants would be sentenced to die under the law of parties.

One was Norman Green. Green was charged for a murder during a botched robbery in an electronics store in 1985. He got death. His accomplice, the man who actually pulled the trigger, got life. The arbitrary result exemplifies what Green's appellate lawyer, Verna Langham -- who also handled Kenneth Foster's first appeal -- sees as the danger of the law of parties. "[It] is subject to such loose interpretation," she told the Austin Chronicle in 2005. "A kid in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people can end up being sentenced to death." Green was executed in 1999.

--Alternet, Innocent Man Sentenced to Death Under Cruel Texas Law
Black people represent only 12% of the Texas population but comprise 44% of the total incarcerated population. Whites make up about 58% of Texas' total population, but only 30% of the prison and jail population.
  • While one out of every 20 Texas adults is under some form of criminal justice control, one out of 3 young black men (29% of the black male population between 21 and 29) are in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day.
  • One out of every four adult black men in Texas is under some form of criminal justice supervision.
  • Blacks in Texas are incarcerated at a rate seven times greater than whites. While there are 555 whites behind bars for every 100,000 in the Texas population, there are an astonishing 3862 African Americans behind bars for every 100,000 in the state. This is nearly 63% higher than the national incarceration rate for blacks of 2366 per 100,000.
  • If Texas' black incarceration rate was applied to the United States, the number of blacks behind bars on a national level would increase by half a million. There are currently an estimated 824,900 African Americans in prison and jail in the US The new figure, 1,346,370, would increase the number of African Americans incarcerated in the US by 63%.
Do you see the pattern? I allege that Bush and the GOP deliberately sabotaged education in Texas with budget cuts and other GOP idiocy so that the GOP's corporate buddies could make a killing in the prison business! Who but the corporations who run the fascist prison system have benefited by the measurable increase in crime that defines GOP occupied Texas.
Everything's big in Texas — big pickup trucks, big SUVs and the state's big carbon footprint, too.

Texans' fondness for large, manly vehicles has helped make the Lone Star State the biggest carbon polluter in the nation.

The headquarters state of America's oil industry spewed 670 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2003, enough that Texas would rank seventh in the world if it were its own country, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The amount is more than that of California and Pennsylvania — the second- and third-ranking states — combined.

A multitude of factors contribute to the carbon output, among them: Texas' 19 coal-burning power plants; a heavy concentration of refineries and chemical plants; a lack of mass transit; and a penchant among ranchers and urban cowboys alike for brawny, gas-guzzling trucks — sometimes to haul things, but often just to look Texas tough.

Debbie Howden, an Austin real estate agent, said her family of six has two pickup trucks, three SUVs, and no apologies. "I would definitely put size and safety over the emissions thing," said Howden, 55. She calls their high fuel bills a "necessary evil."

--Texas Is Biggest Carbon Polluter
Ten large companies generate more than one third of the 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted each year by U.S. electric power generators, according to figures in a first-of-its-kind database unveiled Wednesday.

American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, and Southern Co. of Atlanta, which run the largest coal power plants in the country, top the list of U.S. companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, according to data compiled by the Center for Global Development, a global economic development think tank in Washington, D.C.

The database, called CARMA or Carbon Monitoring for Action, culls for the first time data both from government regulators around the world and commercial databases to provide an up-to-date look at the state of CO2 from power production—which accounts for one quarter of all carbon emissions. (The database doesn't look at other large sources, like transportation and manufacturing.) Here are the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in the United

--The 10 Biggest Carbon Dioxide Polluters
The fascist corporatization of state prisons makes a slick end run, a veer, perhaps a 'triple option', around the Bill of Rights, sets up crony [phony?] corporations with a guaranteed gravy train at tax payer expense, and --to sweeten the deal --it provides them with slave labor. Bill Yeoman nor Darrel Royal could have done better on the gridiron. What a hand-off! What an end run around the laws! What a blitz!

My assertions are backed up by a recent Pew study of trends that had been embraced by Bush's Texas, primarily the rapid outsourcing of prison construction and management throughout the US. As in Texas, crime rates over the period under study increased. Guilt or innocence is of no concern to corporate robber barons.
For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison—a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety. According to a new report released today by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women, according to the study. During 2007, the prison population rose by more than 25,000 inmates. In addition to detailing state and regional prison growth rates, Pew’s report, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, identifies how corrections spending compares to other state investments, why it has increased, and what some states are doing to limit growth in both prison populations and costs while maintaining public safety.

As prison populations expand, costs to states are on the rise. Last year alone, states spent more than $49 billion on corrections, up from $11 billion 20 years before. However, the national recidivism rate remains virtually unchanged, with about half of released inmates returning to jail or prison within three years. And while violent criminals and other serious offenders account for some of the growth, many inmates are low-level offenders or people who have violated the terms of their probation or parole.

--More than One in 100 Adults Are Behind Bars, Pew Study Finds
It is an Orwellian nightmare of waste, graft, and fascism in which no one is held to account. It is a corporate 'gravy train', relieving elected officials of almost every responsibility that government is traditionally and rightfully accorded. It's a scheme, a legalized payoff, a 'good living' for those profiting from incompetent and irresponsible government.

Nevertheless, the industrialized application of the death penalty cannot kill off criminals as fast as they procreate and multiply. The GOP may one day cite this fact in support of a "final solution". year's end 1999, there were 706,600 Texans in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day. In a state with 14 million adults, this meant that 5% of adult Texans, or 1 out of every 20, are under some form of criminal justice supervision. The scale of what is happening in Texas is so huge, it is difficult to contrast the size of its criminal justice systems to the other states' systems it dwarfs:

  • There are more Texans under criminal justice control than the entire populations of some states, including Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska.
  • According to Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates, one quarter of the nation's parole and probationers are in Texas. California and Texas, together, comprise half the nation's parolees and probationers.
  • The number of people incarcerated in Texas (in prison or jail) reached 207,526 in mid-year 1999. Only California, with 10 million more citizens, has more people in both prison and jail.
  • Texas has a rate of 1,035 people behind bars for every 100,000 in the population, the second highest incarceration rate in the nation (second only to Louisiana). If Texas was a nation separate from the United States, it would have the world's highest incarceration rate--significantly higher than the United States (682), and Russia (685) which has 1 million prisoners, the world's third biggest prison system. Texas' incarceration rate is also higher than China (115), which has the world's second largest prison population (1.4 million prisoners).
  • If the US shared the incarceration rate of Texas, there would be nearly three million Americans behind bars (2,822,300)--instead of our current 2 million prisoners.
  • The Texas prison population tripled since 1990, and rose 61.5% in the last five years of this decade alone. In 1994, there were 92, 669 prisoners in Texas. This number had increased to 149,684 by mid-year 1999.
  • The Texas correctional system has grown so large that in July 2000, corrections officials ran out of six digit numbers to assign inmates, and officially created prisoner number 1,000,000.

    --An Analysis of Incarceration and Crime Trends in The Lone Star State

Lower and working classes pay more than their fair share of taxes. The government taxes labor and gives capital a free ride, a recipe for an impending economic collapse, a collapse that appears to be well underway and quite beyond anyone's power or ability to stop. But that has not stopped the government from playing it's well-rehearsed role as the shakedown arm of the nation's tiny and shrinking elite.

If because of GOP transfers of unearned wealth to the increasingly tiny elite of about one percent of the population, labor is unproductive or impoverished the productivity of the nation will decline and ultimately collapse. The poor are increasingly denied decent housing or food because elites have bid up prices on commodities. If you can no longer afford decent housing, health care or food, you have then, perhaps recently under Bush, fallen off the ladder and your children have been or will be left behind! Already just one percent of the US owns more than the rest of us combined. They RULE! It's the GOP way.

Social Darwinism --a tragic mis-read of Darwin --has harmed humankind; many a greedy, psychopathic robber baron has justified his own wealth and the atrocities committed to acquire it with Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism continues to impoverish large segments of our society. Social Darwinism is personified by a fictional character --Scrooge --who summed it up in Dickens' A Christmas Carol:
"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? Then let them die and decrease the surplus population." —Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
In those categories and thanks to the GOP, Texas is NUMBER ONE!

Published Articles on

Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership, Global Issues, Updated: January 02, 2009




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